Monday, October 31, 2011

Of Mayors And Challengers

Greg Ballard (R) has not been our worst Mayor, not by a long shot. He lost me over his choice of Public Safety Director (fire Frank Straub!) and he hasn't been stellar about armed citizens. We could do better but we've had much worse.

Melina Kennedy wants the job, wants it so badly she seems to have forgotten she's not running for Supreme Leader or Empress. So far, she's promised to "fix schools" (run by the School Board: not under the Mayor's control), "tighten up on guns" (preempted by state law: not under the Mayor's control) and "create jobs" (other than some appointments and minor new positions, not under the Mayor's control).

And I thought Ballard was a little inexperienced when he got the job? Kennedy's been a Deputy Mayor and she still doesn't understand what the Mayor can and cannot do!

If free elections mean we get the government we deserve, I can only conclude we have been very, very bad the past four years.

Update: check out the Marion County Voter Information Portal! --At least you can figure out who to vote against. (Bill Levin gets the Roseholme endorsement for City Council)

Random Blimp Photo

From the 2011 Indiana State Fair.
I'll bet you can buy flight insurance!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Getting History Wrong

Apparently, for the sake of cheap outrage over a Halloween costume offered in the United Kingdom.

"All that's missing is a yellow star," say one outragee. O-M-G, you might think, is it a raggedy set of vertically-striped pyjamas? The horror--!

No. Nothing of the sort. In fact, it's quite plain -- a beret, a shoulder bag, a tag and a coatdress of 1940s cut. "WW II Evacuee Costume," it says, and assuming you keep falling asleep when The H!tler Channels on cable or satellite retell the story of WW II, you might -- might! -- wonder, "Evacuated from where, by whom, and for what?"

Of course, you'd also have to have grown up in a country that doesn't commemorate Evacuee Day to plead perfect ignorance; I suppose that would excuse a lot of us here in the States, especially if one is incurious. Canadians ought to know better, and as for Britons--

Lookie here: In the Autumn of 1939, London was fixing to be bombed. A year later, the Blitz began. From the time Britain declared war on Germany, the Brits started moving the vulnerable out of target areas, the bigger cites in particular. Some kids were sent as far as Canada, or even farther. Most were sent out into the countryside -- evacuated there.

This is not deportation to death camps. It's getting children out of danger. There ain't any yellow stars involved.

Shaddup, siddown, and eat your history book. It's damned obvious you're not going to read it.

It's Sunday

...I slept in.

You would have too, if you'd spent the afternoon cleaning gutters. And ironing a pleated bedskirt.

[Indiana Jones] Pleats! Why did it have to be pleats?[/Indiana Jones]

I fared better on the roof. In the last stretch, I had a total Slinky-the-cat moment. I don't know how you clean gutters -- catch 'em early enough and I hear you can use a leaf blower, but I'm rarely that well-timed. They're usually full, with a nasty wet layer at the bottom. I go after 'em with a couple of plastic putty knives, piling up and tossing the leaves over the side, each between-hangers section at a time. On an inside corner, facing into the breeze, I did so -- and the dry leaves caught the wind and fell up!

Oh, that The Slinker could have seen it. All her life, she was fascinated that items pushed off a high place always fell down. Fortunately for me, her experiments were usually confined to things the size and weight of a cat toy, so bigger breakables were (mainly) safe, while pens, pencils, thimbles, silverware and penknives all were treated to Slinky's Experients in Gravity, pushed over the edge and solemnly watched all the way to the floor. Just once, I would have liked for that little cat to have encountered an unexpected result.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Human?

Alien logic, a la Sesame Street. See, it has a face, hands, it talks, er, tocs.....

...It has a bong.

Hey, it was the 70s, you know.

Space FYI

The next grocery truck Progress cargo launch to ISS will be Sunday. This is the first one since the "anomaly" (read, crash-and-burn) last August. If it works, hooray, we're all still in the Space Station business!

If it doesn't, this may be the last crew. (Frustratingly, SpaceX is about two launches away from being cleared to make cargo flights to ISS and ESA's Automated Transfer Vehicle has already made a couple of runs; but that's not quite enough yet.)

...In a totally unrelated development, the PRC's space station has been in orbit, awaiting a crew, since the end of September. A nifty little video animation of the station was released with an...interesting...choice of musical soundtrack: America the Beautiful.

Make of it what you will.

A Busy Saturday

I expect today will be busy -- need to turn out a decent breakfast (bacon, eggs, sliced/fried tatties), deliver a selection of needful items to the Skunk Works North Campus, then go help my Mom with yard work and such.

Good news: Get to spend positive time with Mom.
Bad news: Pretty sure my siblings will be there. Well, at least we're usually civil to one another.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Clean Them Filters!

...Just dug several messages out of the spamtrap, including a very interesting one about vitamins from Bob R and one from a guy who'd been looking for With the Night Mail and was pleased to find it here. Knew I was good for something.

Speaking of reading -- and maybe filtering -- books I've read recently include Rogue, Mike Williamson's latest and possibly best so far (I still think he's my generation's H. Beam Piper), Scalzi's Android's Dream (excellent!), Terry Pratchett's Snuff (the title refers to the tobacco product -- mostly. It's a nice visit to some parts of the Discworld very much in need of Sam Vimes, which they get and how!) and some other odds and ends. The latter includes the collected Eisner/Wood/Fieffer space adventure arc for The Sprit (Outer Space Spirit), which is fine stuff but sadly did not include a WWII-Germans-on-the-Moon storyline I'd seen in a "coming next" bit in an old reprint. Most of the art is from Wally Wood, fine indeed but not quite Will Eisner. Present reading is odd indeed; will report when done. (Books? Use Tam's Amazon link if you'd like to buy them, I'm hopin' she'll restock the fridge from her commission.)

What I Did On My Day Off

or,
"Do You Like Your Present?"


.....On the balance, it beats pure-dee hell outta my past. As it turned out, that wasn't Tam's question; I stumbled home right past a very fine leaf vacuum sitting in the garage. Bright red it is, too -- I must'a been tired.

When I awoke, it was later Wednesday, I had a rare midweek day off, and there was rain and rumors of rain all around, but none on us yet. I threw clothes on, grabbed up the device (electrically-powered it is, even) and went vac-ing leaves.

Tam was out pretty quick to catch up and explain the collection bag has a strap and ought to be slung from it, lest it rip out upon the ground. The thing makes rapid work of piles of leaves, like nothing you ever saw, though it's not very fond of twigs or wet leaves.

It will also, I eventually discovered, inhale leaves off the flowerbeds. Great, right? Mostly. See, the collection bag is a coarse weave; this means that though the clever widget sucks up dirt, too, it then sprays it right back out, finely divided, all over you, the house, whatever. Mustn't waste dirt!

So, oh well, I vaccumed the outside wall of the house with my little shop-type vac, went inside and poured the contents of my neti pot through my sinuses twice (still a little muddy on the second potful!), went back out and cleaned out the gutters (manually, they were packed tight with leaves), then washed the clothes I was wearing twice; first time through, the rise water was deep charcoal gray.

But dang! --We've got more leaves up than ever before at this time of year, and quicker, too. I'm sold; I'll just have to rake the flowerbeds. It's good exercise, you know.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

National EAS -- Again

The news has crept out and, finally, dribbled into the more-worriable Right: Uncle Sam's gonna try to blow the dust off the national-level mechanisms of the Emergency Alert System, with a test of three-and-a-half minutes duration. It's only that long because they're concerned the three-minute audio buffer in some units may not fail gracefully and they want to find out.

That might not be the headline you saw; the examples I have seen range from "One Man Can Shut Off U.S. Broadcasting?" and escalate from there.

I'm usually pretty coy about what I do for a living but let's just say -- 'cos it's true -- that I have been in virtual attendance at every FEMA teleconference for this test and I know how the hardware works; I've installed a dozen of the things over the years. (They're commercially made by 5 or 6 companies, by the way; Uncle Sam just defines the alert tone and data bursts. You could look up the dope in 47CFR, Parts 70-79 and build your own -- but why?)

At the most invasive, EAS hardware can include an "interrupt box" that grabs the audio going to the transmitter. That's all the control it's got; the station could beat it with a patch cord or, at worst, a pair of side-cutters.

But it hasn't even got that much control; the devices can be operated in "automatic" or "manual." Most are kept in manual because in automatic, when they get an alert for their area or a relayable test, they do just "take over," no matter what might be on the air, even commercials. This is not what you would call acceptable, if those commercials paid your salary, and unless the station is low-budget or had ijits at the controls (hey, they work cheap!), it's better to run the EAS box in manual; then when tests or alerts come in, only the d00d in the control room hears them and, at the end of that commercial or hot hit tune, he or she pushes the magic "manual forward" button to play it on the air. (So why is the magical interrupt box even there? Sometimes it isn't, but however things are wired up, part of the EAS message is a databurst that carries the specific event code and location, and it works best if it gets sent at the proper volume; relying on that d00d or d00dete to set the volume level...not always the best idea).

So there's your "Federal control" at the last step before end-user level. Let's back up and see how Uncle Sam pushes his diabolical red button!

Turns out there is some Sooper Sekrit Stuff here but after you've read about it, you may see why. The FCC decided -- based on EMP studies and a lot of experience -- that the entire country can be reached via a few dozen powerful AM stations. They picked 'em and gave them some kind of multiple-redundant link back to Washington; one path is via satellite but it's not the only connection and the details are not public. All it carries is the same EAS info any other link in in system carries: voice-grade audio, with an alert tone and databurst, and it talks to the same kind of interrupt box, which, yes, is in automatic mode. Yes, there's your Big Red Button and that is all it does -- if it even does that; that part of the system has never been tested on the air. The feds are indeed cagy about their links to these AM stations; they use their own security protocols, it's not on the Internet -- and I don't blame 'em. If that got hacked, it would be a huge mess -- or at least awkward; the one mistaken activation known was at a single station, quickly caught, and wasn't a problem.

...And why wasn't it a problem? Because the next stage is a whole bunch of other stations, with their own guys at the controls, who looked at the incoming message, compared it to reality (gee, nothing on the newswires, nothing on the network feed, nothing on the Internet) and stifled it. You still don't want it happening every time some code kiddie in Duluth gets bored, which is why our Uncle Sam ain't talkin' about the details.

Downstream of the few dozen AM stations, it's all open-source. There are no hidden links, no hidden codes, nothing; it happens over the air where anyone can hear it. If the government -- Federal, State or local -- abused the EAS system, they'd get massive non-compliance; they are counting on actual voluntary compliance, thousands of individuals of all stripes, all across the country, each one of whom decides if they will push that button or not.

The fed.gov ain't "takin' over" anything -- because they can't.

Personally, I'd advise you to listen to your $PERSONAL MUSIC PLAYER unless the weather looks bad. Or the to Internet.

Blogoradosis

I've got it. Mild case so far, sneeziness, off-and-on persistent sinus drainage, occasional bouts of dizziness when it doesn't drain fast enough. Had it about a week.

Tam, on the other hand -- she has had every change rung (or should it be "wrung?"): chills. Aches. Sneezing. Congestion. Down to a nasty cough and joint aches the last few days. She's finally talking about visiting a Doc-in-a-box today. High time, if you ask me.

(It's pronounced "blah-gora-dosis," btw.)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Winter Boots: Want!

Ooooo, these. But they're a hundred and a half! Found cuter (but less practical) ones...for like 5X that; for that price, the shoemaker had better come to my house, measure my feet, and build a set of custom lasts.

I usually wear either trainers or closed-toe outdoorsy sandals, and motorcycle boots for bad weather. But this year, I'm much tempted.

Overnight Update

...I shambled in the middle of the night...I observed...I-- I was part of the victorious effort: we found the glitch we were looking for.

Hooray!

Okay, my sleep debt at this point is immense and I'm having to just deal with it, if I want to be back to semi-normal by tomorrow. Probably worth it, since the problem we found was in a place no one on the team would have thought to look if we hadn't A) imitated it in a controlled manner and B) used a video camera to record exactly what happened and then played it back several times until realization dawned.

I'm not well-placed to muse, "Ain't Science wonderful!" but technology certainly is, at least when intelligently applied. Cheapoid UPSs supplied by an outside contractor, not so much.

By The Time You Read This

...I will have worked about a shift-and-a-half (plus) and will be asleep -- at least, if everything goes according to plan. Will it? I don't know, but a major part of why I'm going into the Skunk Works in the middle of the night is just in case it doesn't.

Oh what fun.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Federal Logic?

I've written about the big National EAS Test coming in November -- and you readers, darn it, have been largely uncooperative about donning tinfoil hast over it; it's almost like you've got common sense or something -- now I find out that FEMA has been busily providing the key AM stations in the system with complete backup transmitting facilities, to be kept offline but ready, just in case.

These setups are EMP-hardened. It's being done with biggo Homeland Security dollars, hot off the printing press.

Update: Notice the big solar coronal mass ejection that slammed by last night, lighting up the Aurora as far south as Indiana? Those FEMA transmitter-in-a-can installations are looking smarter with every passing...solar flare! /Update

Speculation in some quarters (see comments at the link) has run rampant. (Oh, dear.)

Me, I figure FEMA is still smarting over past events; this is something they can do, something consistent with their actual mission, and they are getting whatever they can get while the checkbook is out. An offline transmitting setup in a shielded enclosure will survive nasty lighting hits and downed powerlines with ease. It's overkill but not as much as you might think. And if the Feds are gonna throw money at things (and they are), this is one of the more benign.

However -- assume the most paranoid folks are correct and The Pulse hits. I have only one question: who's gonna have a working radio receiver after a bigtime EMP? They'd all get fried! (Or the solid-state electronics in them would. FM and TV, fuggeddaboutit, the fonky blast of RF is right in their frequency range, but I don't see the front end of your pocket transistor having much better luck.)

It's like the original problem with the telephone: who'd the first guy to get one call up? Only worse. So FEMA might wanna bury a few tin cans fulla radios while they're at it. And a Diesel truck to drive around throwing them out of.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sunday: Gunshow, BlogMeet

Another gun show, another Colt? So it seems to go for me; I'm the proud owner of another Colt Police Positive, this one from 1907 and chambered for what the Brits called .380-200. Colt just called it ".38 Colt New Police" and, by the most amazing coincidence, that's the same as .38 S&W.Saw lots of neat things, bought some very nice "This is MY house" T-shirts with a message about Indiana Supreme Court Justice Steven David and his upcoming confirmation vote (just say NO!), and, alas, found one of the cowboy shooter tables selling a stack of assorted segregation-era signs and placards. Hey, we should never forget we used have two sets of drinking fountains, washrooms, waiting rooms, seats at the movies -- Riverside Amusement Park, here in Indianapolis, had different days for people of different hues -- but remembering the dim past and using cutesy repros of the signs as decor in your den are two different things. You decorate however you want, but I'll form my own opinions, one of which is, I won't be buying anything from that table.

On from the gun show to the BlogMeet, and a fine time it was, too, with at least a dozen friends old and new; more later, possibly including photos. I wasn't able to stay as long as I would have liked, since I had to work that evening and in light of recent home and car misadventures, overtime is not to be sneered at.

There's Only One "Race"

It's the human race. That's all we've got. Humanity's genetic diversity is so low* that if we were dogs, we'd all have to compete as just one breed. And there's only one standard I'm gonna judge people by: how they behave.

Now, I can't change whatever damfool set of notions you've got -- and wouldn't want to, if the only way was by main force -- I'm not all that persuasive. But anybody preachin' race war or that some folks aren't okay 'cos of the color of their skin, the faith they profess (or lack thereof) or the language they grew up speaking isn't welcome at my blog.

Are there elements in Western culture that are pure-dee bad? Yes. Most of 'em involve violations of the zero aggression principle: they happen when people initiate force against their fellowman. It'd be a right streamlined world if we could just look at those around us and know, straightaway, who was gonna do that -- but we can't. Nobody's got a lock on it.

I'm all for condemning malefactors but if you don't mind, I'm not gonna do it wholesale and I'll withhold judgement on individuals until they have shown themselves maleficent. The good guy very rarely gets to throw out the first punch and you can't tell the good guys from the bad guys by the color of their hats -- or of their skins.

You've got to take people as individuals. Try it any other way and you're stokin' that nasty train that inevitably rumbles off to death camps and the killing fields. Do that and you're not my pal and I'm not yours -- you are, in fact, endorsing the unprovoked use of force against others.

I dunno why this keeps comin' round but it does. Hitler, Pol Pot, Stalin, Mao, Pinochet --you really wanna hang with that lot? We won WW II as quickly as we did 'cos people fled from prejudiced, repressive regimes to the West and many all the way to the United States. Go eat your peanut butter sammich, then tell me the man who thunk it up wasn't nearly so gifted as you.
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* Depending on personal belief and inclination, see the Old Testament (or similar texts), The Skin Of Our Teeth, and/or your local genetics researchers.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

Big Indy BlogMeet today!

Indy1500 Gun Show today! (And Friday and Saturday, but I worked one of Friday and went to the Indiana Historical Radio Society meet the next day).

And, sports fans, they tell me the Indianapolis Colts are in for another drubbing playing tonight, too.*

Just about something for everyone, especially since I have plenty of books to read this evening.
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* Luckily for me, I've worked around Chicago Cubs fans for years; this is nothing new.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Speaking of "Meta"

...The Big Party[1] contestants in the Indianapolis Mayoral race are now running negative ads criticizing their opponent for running negative ads! I can't wait for the next level: "OPPONENT is running ads questioning my ads that point out OPPONENT's ads offer only condemnation without solutions! What's OPPONENT trying to hide by asking what I'm concealing by addressing OPPONENT's negative advertising?"

This is the city's most expensive contest for the office in history and, barring a tragically fortuitous meteor shower, the two very dim lights held more-or-less aloft by incumbent Ballard and challenger Kennedy -- and the even dimmer one of minor-league outfielder Chris Bowen -- are all we've got to chose from. $DEITY help us, as we have most certainly not helped ourselves.

...H'mmm, "helping ourselves?" There's clue in that about why the battle to be the underpaid Mayor of a rustbelt city with an uncertain future[2] is so hotly fought -- just ask ol' Dick Lugar: the, ahem, contacts one makes as Mayor can last a lifetime -- or at least as long as a sports arena. Further, a gracious person ought not say, and I shan't, either. Just remember, it's not a slice of the pie for you they're struggling over, no matter what they say.

H. L. Mencken said it best: "Every election is a sort of advance auction of stolen goods." It pains me to have to patronize fences.

Why is it always inevitable that no matter which one wins, the wrong lizard gets elected?
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1. They call them "parties" but there's rarely ice cream or cake and the favors are neither reciprocal nor well-distributed. Hmpf.

2. Are we a biotech center? Are we a government town? Are we, truly, The Next Big Boom Town -- and why is it I find that term so disturbing? And is any of that really part of the Mayor's job? 'Cos we're still rich in potholes and poor in street signs and sidewalks.

Ooopsie!

Ever hear of the Sokal Hoax? --Just a teeensy demonstration that if you use the right terms and stack 'em up high enough, you can get published in an academic journal -- even if you're claiming gravitation is a social construct!

That one's a leftie-trap; but don't forget The Report From Iron Mountain, which has managed to provoke Left, Right, Center and Up; purporting to be a leaked government report on why peace is a bad idea, it's an ironic nod to Randolph Bourne* and 1984's Emmanuel Goldstein. This one worked so well, there are even claims that the claim it is a hoax is itself a hoax. Oooooo, meta.

Don't take any wooden nickels out there, okay?
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* "War is the health of the State."

Friday, October 21, 2011

The World Ends Today

It must be true -- Harold Camping said so, and he's an old hand at predicting the end of the world. He's done it a lot.

Are you ready? Affairs all in order? Light lunch packed? Ready to lay out a nice buffet for the Four Horsemen?

Remember to wear loose-fitting comfortable clothes and to keep a positive attitude.

It's just a pity FEMA didn't schedule their National EAS Test any sooner. Oh, well. At least they had nice, unnerving graphics.

Update: Bip bip bip,* Mr. Camping -- day's almost over and what have you accomplished?
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* In some ways, "Normal" was my favorite male character in Dark Angel. Sure, he was usually a jerk, but in a broken world, he was still striving.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Rules Of Huck The Cat

1. Everything is here to be bitten.
2. If it fights back, bite it more.
3. Good things happen when you're upside down.
4. Somersaults produce treats.
5. It's more interesting in the basement.
6. Sure, they call it "laundry," but when it's being tossed from hamper to basket, it's really "prey."
7. Those things moving in the yard are fascinating.
8. It's okay to complain when your claws are trimmed. How dare they!
9. When carried, be sure to investigate new and interesting things to bite.
10. No matter how loudly Rannie yowls, it's okay to keep chasing her; she knows you're playing.
11. It should be dinner time.
12. I must do more biting! Immediately!

The Fresh, New Ideas Of Idealistic Youth?

The Occupy [Location] crowd managed to lose me in a hurry last week -- or was it the week before? -- when outspoken protesters decided to share their highly-advanced, deeply insightful theories about how The Jooooos were responsible for the economy gettin' all stanky.

Yeah, kid? Shaddup. That theory didn't hold for accusations of well-poisoning (etc.) causing the Black Death, back when there weren't any Christian lenders 'cos the Church was down on loaning money at interest; which should also clue you in that the "banking conspiracy" is purest, evil hokum, given the way in which everyone from the Mafia to mild-as-milk Methodists are in the loan business these days. Conspiracy FAIL -- which is what happens when they don't exist.

What we've got Occupying [Wherever] is the first generation with no living family members who came of age during The Age Of The Loudmouthed Leader. To them, Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, FDR, Churchill and Tojo are just funny-looking old men in history books and plausible-sounding bullshit is exactly the same as truth (or at least decency), if delivered sincerely enough. The Big Lie is back, the crowd is lovin' it and bad things are never the fault of anyone like them. Nope, it's someone else and, look right there in Manhattan: it's the West's favorite Others.

Geez, I was hopin' we'd outgrowed that. Skooch over, Dreyfus; sooner or later, the mob will work their way around to the dark-complected, the Catholics, the Freemasons and infidels like me.

Kipling thought we might fix things by outlawing mass action of any sort, and while I have borrowed elements of his Aerial Board of Control in devising an oppressive anarchist non-government in my own fiction, I don't think it will be As Easy As A.B.C. (Want a little less politics with your airships? Try With The Night Mail, an evocative and literally as well as figuratively atmospheric bit of predictive journalism set in the same future. The story's good; the link is worth the clicking for the illustrations.)

I don't think Mr. Kipling's approach will work. Somewhere, George Santayana is laughing, but it's not a happy laugh.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My Happy Thanks To...

The Reader who sent a T-shirt so kewl, I have worn it once a week since arrival. A photo will follow. It's in the style of some of the home decor here at Roseholme Cottage.

Just the other day, a copy of the first Girl Genius text novel arrived, a gift from Nuzetal. I've enjoyed looking at the webcomic now and then -- my slow computer prevents really getting caught up -- and I'm looking forward to the book!

Thank you both.

Shazam! A Job For Capain Marvel!

Escaped exotic animals near Zanesville, Ohio! Tam is thrilled; me, my very first thought was that Billy Batson was going to be late for work at WHIZ. Again.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Heal The Hungry, Feed The Sick

Went and got myself shot for the flu -- and we'll see how well that works -- then decided since Tam was already gettin' a raw ordeal from Blogoradosis and I might yet be ordealt in myself, I had best come up with something healthful and nourishing, full of vegetables and wonderfulness.

Something sort of this-ish.Pondered what I had in the freezer (high-grade vexed migtables) and the larder (an onion, a turnip and the possibility of beef stock), then hit the market in the way home. A couple of vine-ripe tomatoes (anyway, they're red-red, not pink-orange), a couple of potatoes, a mettwurst, a pound of very good beef, a little celery seed ('cos they had no snappy fresh celery and you do want a bit of it) and some just-in-case-I-was-wrong beef stock later, I was home, slaving over a hot stove:

Slice the mettwurst, toss in the pot with a kiss of olive oil to brown; dice the steak while that's goin', then add it with a little salt and pepper. Dice the onion and barely brown it in a small skillet, then add to the meat with a splash of red wine. Cook it down and add stock to cover. Dice the turnip,* saute, add to the pot. (Top up the stock as needed throughout the process; it should simmer, short of a boil).

The potatoes, I microwaved for a couple of minutes, diced and into the pot, which is starting to smell gooood. But wait! Those lovely tomatoes! They'll never cook down in time. What to do? --There's a cheat. It sounds nutty, but if you dice them and saute in a little olive oil, with a dash of salt and whatever else strikes your fancy, just cook them 'til they are nice and soft, they'll go right in like they've been simmered for hours. Maybe better.

Finally, bring it to a boil. Add a bit more stock and frozen mixed vegetable and follow package directions: bring back to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for n minutes. (In which n is a number greater than three but less than 15.)Let it set a bit, then serve and season to taste. Ahhhh! Tam's bowl was empty quickly but I think I was quicker.

Put the leftover soup (if any; I made extra on purpose) in the fridge -- it'll be even better the next day.
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* Any really good vegetable-type soup has a little cabbage, rutabaga or turnip in it. I don't know why but it does make a difference.

Another Day Dawns, Sneezily

Tam's still sick. I'm trying to put off the inevitable, hoping last year's flu shot will hold. I just missed getting one last night, the web-posted hours for the drugstore's nurse-in-a-box being wrong. (Gee, thanks).

Meantime, I'm pushing b-a-l-a-n-c-e-d meals. This morning, fried polenta with spicy cooked tomatoes, an egg and a couple of strips of bacon. X2, 'cos it's not just good for ya -- it's good.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Nurse Bobbi

Tam is miserably sick. Her chills, aches and sinus congestion paint a pretty clear picture; it's either a terribly bad cold, a middlin' bout of the flu, or, considering researchers have been playing with it in labs only recently, a touch of the ol' Yersinia pestis.

Whatever it is, the treatment is still what it always was (or should have been): plenty of rest, sufficient nutrition and the tincture of time. So I made us a good breakfast and I believe she's planning to return to Slumberland once I'm off to work.

Roseholme being as small as it is and my employer having yet again dragged their feet on flu shots (we nearly always get 'em after the year's first wave and I rarely remember to get one on my own*), my turn is nearly inevitable. With any luck, she'll be feeling better by then.
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* Mind you, my insurance would even pick up the tab if I got the shot elsewhere. So, class, whose fault izzit I didn't already? Duh.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

You Don't Own The House You Own: Vote Out Justice Steven David

Yes, Indiana's Supreme Court Justice is at it again; this time, he's decided your right to lease out your own house for a few days does not exist, not if some zoning ordnance says it doesn't. Hoping to earn a bit against your upside-down home loan during tourist season? Better check local law first!

This is the same man who led the trampling of both Indiana law and centuries of common law in ruling you had no right to resist police entering your home, even if their entry was illegal.

Justice Steven David is up for a retention vote in 2012. It's time we threw this bum out.

And in the meantime? At my house, come 5 November when we make up a little effigy, he's the Guy. Oh, yes, the very Guy indeed. I don't mind borrowing the customs of others for a good cause. But we can't have much of a bonfire, just our little screened firepit -- there's a local ordnance about that, too.

Brekky (or brunch) With Whatever

Whatever I found, that is:

Not quite enough fingerling potatoes
Plenty of bacon and eggs
A third of a red onion
One (1) jalapeno pepper
A lot of broken, high-end corn chips* in the bottom of the bag
A can of chili, no beans

By golly, diced tatties in bacon fat, with the onion and pepper added and then a couple of handfuls of chip crumbs cooked up nice. Push it to one side and scramble three eggs, break the bacon back in, mix and serve it with steaming-hot chili ladled over, and you've got quite a meal!

Season to taste; all I added was a few shakes of shredded Asiago/Romano/Parmesan cheese.
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* From the website: "Prepared using the authentic ancient Aztec method of making tortillas by grinding kernels of corn with water..." Umm, there's some other way to make tortilla dough? But they are very good, as corn chips go. I was never comfy with the saltpeter/toluene/red fuming nitric acid blast furnace method, myself, and I am certainly pleased to learn at least one firm doesn't hold with it, either. Bessemer is for metal only. Please! (The fellers point out that you can make hominy and then turn that into dough, which is the actual traditional method of the ancient Aztecs. So the food co. is still kinda blowin' smoke. Hey, the chips are tasty.)

At The Mayoral Debate

I had forgotten how much more an outsider Greg Ballard, the current Mayor of Indianapolis, had been while campaigning and early in his term.

Challenger Melina Kennedy has not. In a televised debate last night, she pointed out he'd even been opposed to bringing the Superbowl to Indy (oh, horrrors*) unless IMPD made a substantial increase in the number of officers.

Mayor Ballard protested he'd said no such thing.

"I can show you your press release," she snapped back. Oh, ouch!

They're still not impressing me (or other observers) much. Mr. Ballard is slightly less objectionable than Ms. Kennedy but it's the difference between cleaning a scratch with alcohol or iodine: whatever we do, it's gonna sting.

(Moment I Wanted To See: they had pre-selected questions from the public, delivered by the questioners themselves. At one point, a middle-aged man with multiple advanced degrees got up, stated his qualifications and experience and that he was out of work, then asked the Mayoral candidates what they'd do to keep him in town in his job search. Totally hoped the Mayor would look offscreen and order, "Officers, arrest that man!" ...But no, didn't happen....)
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* Would that he had remained opposed. I'm not looking forward to that mess.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

PS: You're Probably Not The 1%

No, really -- do you have your own private island with your one private mansion on it and your own jet to fly there? Do you have enough bux put back that you're richer than the smallest countries?

No?

Well, then, you're part of this-here semi-mythical pseudoamphictiony of "the 99%." Yeah, that would be you, me, J. Neric Angry Student, the homeless wino over there on the park bench, the manager of your local grocery store, the gal who owns the fast food joint and the manager of the local manufacturing plant -- also, the guy who mucks out the toilets in that plant. Probably everyone you can see from the top of your dwelling, too. I'm sure we've all got a lot of things to talk about that the family with the private island couldn't possibly understand or relate to.

We're also part of the 99% who aren't Mexican/French contortionists with a Ph.D. in cosmology; the 99% who aren't successful herbal cosmetologists, the 99% who have never won big in Vegas or Atlantic City, the 99.999% who have never been in space....

99% is a darned big bag.

I wonder what happens after the supposed Speakers For The 99% are finished bathing in the blood of the 1% -- and how long it will take them to work their way down to me. That's not the same as being on of the 1%, no more than my home library or the one at your church is the same as an adult bookstore; but once you start burning books or "the rich," where does it stop?

It's better not to start.

Howcome....

...You can have several thousand TEA Party activists (the people weenies like CSGV and the Bradys call "violent insurrectionists") descend on Washington with nary an arrest -- hardly any parking tickets, even -- but a smaller number of (supposedly peaceful, egalitarian) Occupiers of Wall Street in NYC (and other places) manage to clash repeatedly with officers and bring out the worst in both sides?

(I've now seen several comments noting that the conditions for any long-term OWS participant resemble boot camp -- or hardcore cult programming. High stress, lot of people crowded closely together, limited food, water and sleep, lotta group activities including recitation, a common foe.... When it was high-minded idealists banded not-quite-together for a weekend or a week, it was one thing, even when they were waaaaay out there; the longer it goes on, the more it becomes...something else. And I don't think they remember the lessons of the Bonus Army. There's some not-very-experienced young folks gonna get hurt, I suspect).

Friday, October 14, 2011

Caliber Calibration

Unk linked to a NJT posting about the .40 (or, as we call them here in The FBI Are Wimps Land, 10mm short). Unk's not too impressed with that round, T-Bolt thinks it's not awful, pointing out at least it starts with a ".4" like it otta.

All in good fun but the thing -- the real thing -- is that unless you routinely face insane dope fiends from an early-20th-Century illegalfy cocaine propaganda speech (it's turning the lower classes into killbots!) ,[1] for civilian self-defense, there is not all that much effective difference between .380[2] and .38 Special at the bottom and big old 10mm and .45ACP at the top of the list: they'll make most assailants interested in something other than hurting you. None of them -- not one -- can be relied on as a one-shot manstopper and if they could knock a man down just by impact, they'd knock you flat when they went bang, too, just you ask Newton. Shot placement will make any of them a lot more certain to stop a bad 'un but y'better be ready for a follow-up.

Weerd Beard got Unk linky-love too, over the Conditions Of Carry (originally devised, it should be remembered, to describe the 1911's permutations of carry, nothing else; it gets all bent up when we apply it to other handguns.)

Way more important than caliber, even more important than readiness condition of your sidearm (with the caveat that if you're carrying for self-defense, it should be ready), is if you are ready.

Have you developed safe habits? Have you worked on your draw? Have you worked on your shooting, and if so, do you shoot often enough? --Have you considered that you may have to use deadly force on another human being?

If you've not done those things, if you're lazy or lax, you're not going to make up for it with a bigger calibers, a hotter load or a better projectile.

Carry what you can carry. Carry what you like practicing with. Learn not just to shoot well but to handle guns well. It's more than making two-handed hits in the X ring.

Then you'll be as qualified to josh your friends about caliber choices as Unk and T-Bolt are. I don't think I'm quite there yet.
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1. The amount of frikkin' racist hysteria frothed up in that effort is hardly believable. So much so that any time I read or hear "We've gotta ban _____ because it makes the ____ unstoppably violent," my BS detector goes off. Maybe there's some cocktail of speed, crack, testosterone, Mountain Dew and an acetone enema that really does do that -- in which case, why isn't the U. S. Army using it?

2. Tam looks askance at the runt of the litter. She's right in that it is way down there at the bottom of the class with a straight D- report card; I include it because I think it's the smallest caliber that will change an angry man's mind -- but sometimes they don't notice. In terms of direct physical effects, well, it's better than a sharp stick. Skill and readiness still trumps caliber.

Plumbing Results

The drain is clear. For now.

After augering, the plumbing company offered a camera tour of our sewer connection -- free! Gratis! Gee, I wonder why...

...But not for long, as the camera revealed roots remaining and a worrying dip in the old clay pipe. "It's a 6-inch pipe with a three-inch cleanout," the plumber explained, "There's gonna be roots left." (Darn it, they didn't offer a DVD! Tsk.)

While I'm much tempted to call up one of this city's fine concrete cutters,* get the cleanout holesawed out and have a plumber install a 6" cleanout (duh!), that doesn't seem to be the done thing.

Nope; replacement's the word, shiny high-tech plastic pipe, as modern as tomorrow. The plumber did his sums and dutifully offered up an estimate of $7686.00 Federal. That's over 3.5 times the cost of my car! I was at work by the time this was done; I explained as gently as I could that that same amount would pay for 30 drain augerings. "But a new sewer connection would be guaranteed for life," he countered.

As may be. $7.7K? I ain't got it and I don't see it falling from the sky any time soon. I'd have to slambang that chunk'o'change on a credit card, then be scrambling to pay it down ASAP. I'd do it if I had to but I don't have to right now.
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* I was fascinated, 15-some years ago, to learn that this was a specialty and that there was very little one could think up along those lines that the better outfits could not do. Ever see a holesaw a yard across, run by a machine small enough to fit in a small washroom?

Zombie Map!

...And here I always thought New Jovian Thunderbolt was kind of funnin' us with his tales of "Zed hunts" and the like.......But if there's an official-looking map, it must be true, right? Goodness, the coasts are especially bad. Indy's lookin' threatened, too. Quick -- to Texas!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bell Invented It, We Subverted It

Shootin' Buddy and I often have telephone calls in the borderland between chaos and surrealism. I'm a mumbler and he's done so very much shooting that everyday sounds are a bit distant; I will answer the telephone by saying the first thing that pops into my head and he is only too happy to pick it up and run with it:

Shootin' Buddy: [Utters a tautology with which no right-minded person could possibly disagree.]

Roberta X: "Oh, nonsense!"

SB: (mock-stentorian) "'ODE TO NONSENSE?'"

RX: "No, it was 'Ode To A Grecian Urn.' The Greek doesn't earn much anymore but he still wants a whole lot of free stuff."

SB: "It's all your fault the Greeks are broke, you know."

RX: "What? 'The Woman Is Keepin' The Grecian Down?' Does that even make any sense?"

SB: "Oh, I could do a whole lot with that phra--" (abrupt change of tone) "You know how to make a noise like a dolphin? 'hunh-uh, hunh-uh, hunh-uh, hunh-uh...'"

RX: "I think we can loan you a ten-foot pole to not touch that with...."

SB: "Hey, is Tam about?"

...Ten-foot pole, six foot Pole, whatever....

In Res Plumbarium

(Why yes, I did get Ds in Latin.) Okay, fine: "About the Plumber." We use Ben Franklin Plumbing, a local outfit with a surrealistically catchy jingle and generally good results -- so far, they've been 4 for 5 with us and the exception was probably due to my not making it quite clear enough that I wanted a verdammt indoor shutoff for the outside spigot.

--Anyway, I was wondering what the American Prometheus might've said 'pon restoring drainage:

"Mr. Franklin, Mr. Franklin, what sort of drain have we got?"

"A republic, madame, if you can keep it."

And on that general line of thought, it occurs to me that the threat of administering caustic soda to politicians whenever they become so full of excrement that they're of little use is not so bad an idea -- oh, but alas, who could we trust to ply the plunger in a fair and even-handed manner?

Still-- Tempting, ain't it? With the drain auger in reserve for really bad cases.

In the meantime, voting: use regularly to keep our representative's courses clear.

Brought To You By The Letter "Drains"

This is my Thursday-morning post. Note the time.

Greeted The Tamara and spent no little time getting the dish and seeing the pics from Blogorado (Oh! The things I have seen! Oh! The stories I have been told!) and then it was nose to the millstone, shoulder to the oar and throwing rings into my hat, or whatever it is the kids say these days, on A Project:

Spent the last three and a half hours, or a little more, in the basement, folding laundry, rearranging, discovering long-lost socks, moving things around, shoving heavy things, dropping the higher thread count cotton sheets when refolding them (they're like oiled glass! Flannel's so much better, but too hot half the year), sweeping and generally having all manner of fun.

--For a given value of "fun."

Why all this excitement? Because the plumber has been scheduled, in theory for the 8 to 12 window tomorrow, and the cleanout is the farthest, deepest, darkest corner of Roseholme Cottage, way, way back in a corner underneath the laundry-folding table. Your standard-issue plumber does not fit in there so well even if the under-table space wasn't full of big plastic bins containing bedding, which means a whole lot of things have got to move.

Moved they got and now I must get, too, off to bed; the alarm arrives with the dawn and the shape of the morning will be not at all usual.

Geesh, I hope the sewer pipe can be cleared without too much expense or drama.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Soylent Green, It's -- Delicious!

Am I the only viewer being creeped out by the recent fast-food-chain chicken nuggets TV commercial that starts out with several shots of adults and children dressed up in lumpy, yellow chicken costumes before segueing into images of the lumpy, golden-brown chicken nuggets?

From 1973 shocker to "oh, well" to "yum"in only 38 years?

Dammit, it's still people! Make room, make room!

Indy Mayoral Race: Smell The Fail

You could get a Model T Ford in any color you liked -- as long as you only liked black. In Indianapolis, you can vote for a new mayor of any ideological hue you like, too -- as long as you like stupid.

Our choices are A) Unsatsfactory, B) Unacceptable or C) Unrealistic.

Under A, we have incumbent Greg Ballard, well-meaning but politically tone-deaf Republican, steered too much by smoke-filled-room rentseekers, the man who gave us the odious Frank Straub running Public Safety. Frank, in turn, leads us to--

B, Melina Kennedy, Fraternal Order of Police-endorsed Democrat challenger, who wants for "fix the public schools" -- something over which the mayor has zero power -- and "get rid of illegal guns" by "closing loopholes," apparently unaware that the State Legislature has enacted sweeping pre-emption of local gun laws by State law; about all the City can rule on is if people with licenses to carry handguns can carry them inside city-owned buildings. --Tellingly, her longest reply in the linked survey has to do with city support for The Arts. Much as I love art, I was hoping for a Mayor focused more on paving and snowplowing, on keepin' the Police and Fire Departments in shape to deal with crime and conflagration. Which brings us to--

C, Libertarian Chris Bowen, the Man With Half A Clue. Nuvo quotes him as being all in favor of things like mandatory car inspections (a tax on the working poor, sir?) and stricter environmental regs (in the state that was the first to ban phosphates in detergent, which is why Hoosiers are a dingy lot); he seems a little more sensible in the survey linked above but until he learns to hold the line on his collie-pup enthusiasm when interviewed, he's gonna find himself running with the hounds and hunting with the hare on every issue.

My enthusiasm for having to pick anyone at all from this field can scarcely be underestimated. None Of The Above, please run for Mayor!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What's "Rich?" What's "Success?"

Is it a million dollars and ten million fans? That's one yardstick, but it isn't everyone's.

There's a musician whose work I like, kind of a folk singer and kind of not, a young woman who plays at least nine of every ten instruments in her recordings. A decade ago, she was working one of the low-paying, steady, skill-related jobs many musicians do, music director for a church or some such thing. One morning she looked around and thought, No. My head's full of music and if I don't start playing more of it, writing it down, recording it, I'm just going to explode!

So she quit. Started playing small venues.

...A half-dozen CDs later, a dozen rambling national tours appearing in slightly bigger places, to more and more people, living in a medium-sized apartment with a growing pile of instruments and computers, she reports:

"I'm taking home about what a Taco Bell worker makes -- but it feels like a lot more."

Sure, her gross is higher and so's her overhead; put that spreadsheet away. Part of her "income" is getting music from inside her head to inside yours. And to people who like it enough to pay for it.

I'm not sure you can put a cash value on that. I suspect a wage/hour expert would crunch the numbers and walk away, sadly shaking his or her head. On paper, the ROI isn't much.

But -- if you're doing what you want to do, not missing any meals, keeping the bills paid -- aren't you richer than the guy with the nice car, the big house and a high-paying high-pressure job he loathes? No matter how much he earns, he can't afford what you've got.

This Is The Headline

Generic Roberta X blog post. Body text body text body text. Italics for emphasis. More body text.

Can't indent paragraphs! Annoying. An aside occurs to me.* More body text. Haphazard misspelling that I will find and fix two dats later.

Available via the link at Tam's. Buy there 'cos I'm her landlady.

Bolded: Text about something semi-related that happened later.
Make this line really small. _______________________________
* This is a footnote. Footnotes are kewl. And only kind of small. Also note trendy spelling.

October BlogMeet

Bloggers, blog readers, guilty bystanders and the idly curious are all invited to the next Indy BlogMeet:It's Indy 1500 Gun Show Weekend, too!

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Most Interesting Man In The -- Hey! You!

You're undoubtedly familiar with the beer commercials featuring a remarkably well-cast actor, his supposed daring feats and admiring women.

I actually know a guy like that, or knew -- it's been several years since I last saw him. A ruggedly handsome, supremely self-confident man who'd done fascinating, challenging things and kept right on doing them as the years rolled by. He owned the garage where my MGB got the difficult work done; he'd show up sometimes with a book, an antique range (or something), an unusual car, a stack of photos from vacations in exotic places with fascinating people. He spoke several languages. A terribly interesting man and he was kind of sweet on me. Oh, my blushes!

The thing is, those "most interesting men," there's a lot of people interested in them and on the average, about half are the opposite sex. They are interested right back, often as not. And they do enjoy a nice buffet.

So -- fun to be with, but to date? Look, you're kissing everyone else he's been kissing. And so on. It's probably a long, long list and the last six entries were made in the last 24 hours. When you get boring, no problem, plenty more where you came from. The dashing, interesting people will roll those dice; I won't.

"Interesting" is interesting but you don't take 'em home to show Mother and Father. Gimme a man a little more down to Earth -- and a little less likely to get winked at by stunning models.

--But I still like those commercials. 'Cos I knew that guy, or one of his brothers. He's interesting.

Stop, Drain! --Er, I Mean "Start!"

Ran some laundry Sunday afternoon and the last washer-ful wasn't done until after sunset -- which was when I found the basement sink half-full of graywater, a puddle at the floor drain and evidence of a small overflow at the washer drain, too.

Floor puddle is still there this morning; the float is up in the floor drain. The main drain is probably partially blocked.

Great.

I'm off to try some drain cleaner ("Thrift," usually good stuff). Wish me luck!

Update: Ran the drain cleaner. (99% sodium hydroxide -- Wikipedia shows a container marked "Certified Lye." It's true!) The big basement sink appears to be draining okay. Guess I'll be able to risk a quick shower.

Update 2: Took shower. Checked basement sink, a bit over half-full. I see plumbers in my future. I hope a serious augering will do the trick.

Update 3: Whatever it is, it's still there tonight after a very large dose of Thrift this evening. The drain seemed to be draining. Waited 20 minutes, then did up a few dishes by hand, checked the basement sink and -- a third full. I need a plumber -- and time to be here with him. Hoping hoping hoping to be able to put it off until at least Wednesday.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Colt Police Positive Special, .32-20

Mine, all mine -- except for the ammunition; that's from Tam's collection -- the Colt Police Positive Special:Alas, it needs a new ratchet, the widget at the center of the extractor star that the hand* reaches out and moves to advance the cylinder for the next shot: one or two teeth are iffy and a third doesn't talk to the hand at all. (It seems I need to clarify this. It's nothing subtle, not the width of the teeth or the slope, it's that three of them have been worn, filed or beaten too short. Failure mode is that the reaching hand moves out...and doesn't engage at all. Two of them will sometimes actually engage, the third never. How one beats up a part so rarely exposed is a question to which I have no answer.)

Mind you, when it does work, it's a fine reminder of why a 20th-Century Colt revolver is a thing of beauty and joy forever, just as smooth as can be. The .32-20 cartridge, originally in black powder and intended for a small-game rifle (rabbits and such), is pleasant to shoot and modern smokless loadings are hotter than .32 ACP, roughly equivalent to the amped-up .32 Magnum/.327 pistol loads.

No luck on parts so far -- came up empty at Numrich. I need to find out if Jack First might have the part.
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* Yes, it's called a "hand." Always looked more like a finger to me but I suppose the magical imp that lives inside revolvers and works all the levers might need a whole hand to advance the cylinder. Magic imp? -- C'mon, you've seen the drawings, there's way too many parts in there for it to work without one.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Occupy Bloomberg

On the one hand, they're leaving reeking mountains of refuse in NYC parks and, in one infamous instance, dumping on police cars; on the other, they're irking Mayor Bloomberg bigtime and criticizing the Commander in Chief.

Impossible to love, hard to hate, especially as long as they keep on waving those "End the Fed" signs. Oh, if only they wanted hard currency to replace it, instead of Ithaca Hours. Still, think of all the real work that's getting done in the places where they aren't, all the parent's couches unslept-upon, all the fridges unraided. It's an ill wind that blows no one any good, though downwind of an NYPD squad car might not be the place to be.

I think Thomas Jefferson, who once observed a revolution every decade or so might be about right,* would find the Occupiers of Wall Street more than adequately revolting. Me, I'm just grateful the local version is, so far, trying to be good neighbors while still chanting and waving signs -- it will be interesting to see what tomorrow reveals in Indy. Rebecca Riots, maybe? Just leave the cop cars alone, willya?
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* This would be before the man got stuck with the Presidency.

Circles

Okay, fine, I'm a homebody; still, when Tam links to her own musing about a neat piece of the Southwest U.S. and I go on a wikiwander though canyons, past hoodoos and tea tables, I didn't expect to end up right back in Indiana. (Also here, plus I have got to go see these).

It's all soooooo fractal. D000d....!

Steve Jobs: 1000 Words?

Nope, one picture says all that needs said.

Yeah, Yeah, So's Yer Old Man

I have to disagree with the guys who say the "Occupy [Insert Location Name Here]" protesters are nothing at all like the TEA Party movement. Based on the photo here, I'd have to say they're at least 20% similar: please read the signs carefully; they include "2 Parties, No Voice," "End the Fed," "NO BAILOUT" and "Repeal the PATRIOT Act."

Y'know, for a bunch of Wobblies, half-baked Reds and union types who could miss a few days work with no effect, that's not too bad. I could almost forgive the Send Us A Tyrant sign ("Stop The Debate!") and the false dichotomy next to it. Almost.

(What is this thing so many people do now, whenever a bunch of people with whom they disagree show up, "Singing songs and carrying signs/Mostly say, 'Hooray for our side,'" their very first comments are that it's all fake, staged, Soros- or Koch-funded Astroturf? No, it ain't; love 'em, hate 'em or just want to get to the office, when the streets are clogged with People With A Message, they're really there. They may some of them be idiots or dupes, or just out to make trouble -- but they are there. They showed up. Joe Biden may be an idiot but when he avers that both the TEA Parties and the Occupiers are against bailouts, frustrated with politics-as-usual and generally smell a rat, he's being pretty accurate.)

Speaking of "Stop The Debate," frikkin' Harry Reid may be a friend to gunnies, but geesh-o-Pete, he's no fan of tradition; man actually pulled the pin and lobbed The So Called Nuclear Option into the Senate, quashing a GOP effort to put Mr. Obama's jobs bill to a vote before he had all the votes whipped into line. Mr. Reid reminds us that the Stupid Party and the Evil Party do, sometimes, swap places. He appears to be the first to put this into play -- and it's a game-changer. Ahh, for the good old days, when the Senate at least pretended to debate while diddling pages and secretaries.

You can blame paint chips in his breakfast cereal or fluoridated water;* me, I'm layin' this mess square at the doorstep of the ill-considered 17th Amendment, which needs to be amended right back. Ah, well, kiss it goodbye; it probably won't be until well after we're gone that some latter-day Imperial President appoints Speedy, his favorite racing tortoise, to the Senate and in the meantime, Mr. Reid will do right nicely as a substitute.
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* Not that I would in any way mean to imply the august body of men and/or women comprising the United States Senate was a mob of impure saps. Oh no. Not ever. Never. Well, hardly ever.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Re-port-ing

That's what reporters do. Well, some of 'em used to--

Ruth Holladay still does. She took her notepad and an open mind to the recent debate between Democrat and Republican candidates for Mayor of Indianapolis and showed how it's done.

Man, I miss havin' an actual newspaper in this town -- we used to have two or three and they even had some reporters.

P.S. We have a kinda-sorta Libertarian Party guy running for the office, too. I say kinda-sorta: he seems to be fond of the EPA and mandatory vehicle inspections. Psst, Mister, I think you might'a been looking for the Green Party and got lost. Man, you wash their little minds and you can't hardly do anything with them.

Tolja?

Popehat sees the same 3-D printing/desktop CNC revolution coming that I did, and points out it moots a lot of gun control.

--Theodore Sturgeon was famous (in some circles, anyway) for the aphorism "Ask the next question." The next one along this line of thought might be desktop "printing" (for want of a better word) of simple chemical mixtures -- and moving from there to more complex synthesis. Smokeless powder, aspirin, ascorbic acid -- or LSD and heroin. As far as I know, that's still over the horizon, but ask me again in five years, or ten.

One the other hand-- Prediction tends to go sideways, kind of like having a long tape measure spooled out; the darned thing doesn't always go where you'd think. Print-on-demand made a change, but it's nothing to the paperless version: the e-reader/iPad/smartphone is rapidly expanding the wealth of "printed" matter available to people. I love my library but those several thousand volumes would take up a few thumb drives at most. What happens when the contents of your medicine chest (and all that stuff in bottles under the kitchen sink!) goes the same way?

What happens when you cross that with 3-D printing? (Print out a nice new computer?)

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My other "tolja" is considerably more grim. Back when Anwar al-Awlaki was offed for bein' seditiously mouthy, one of the defenses offered was that he had it comin'. Which, okay, he did -- but not in any legal sense; as a citizen, you can go off and preach against your government all you like. Even if you're actively helping set up malefactors, you-the-citizen don't generally rate summary execution unless you're in the act thereof and violently resist apprehension. Nope, rule was that you had your day in court, just like it says right there in writing, and then they took you out and strung you up, and no weaseling about it, either.

...Used to be that way. Now? Now it's not even the President; it's some knot of wonks at the National Security Council who decide you're a bad, baaaaaad person and wham! you get an exploding visitor from above, no arrest, no trial, no nothing, not even the State of Texas tellin' you that you'll have what's on the same menu the other jailbirds are getting. Who chose these guys? Did you vote for 'em? I sure don't remember having the chance. But hey, for now, if you stay in the country, you're probably fine. Besides, the neighbors will agree after the news reports that you probably had it coming anyhow.

Take what comfort you can that whichever party is in power, it's the same shined-up jackboot. And as long as it is only stomping cockroaches, who cares? --At least, who cares until they find themselves defined as a cockroach.* But, damn you, don't look me in the eye and tell me that it is in any way how the freely elected government of a free country of free men and women operates, 'cos it ain't.

So much for Article Three, Section Three. But hey, Mr. Madison, nice work anyway. (Lotta good stuff in there, btw, including the evils of Hamiltonianism, which ought to look very familiar.)
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* Which reminds me, has anyone camping out in an NYC park for "Occupy Wall Street" ever heard of what happened to the Bonus Army? Or, for that matter, the Canadian solution? Sleep tight!

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Into The Shelters!

Readers, even simple suburbanites now have The Stick Bomb! You have been warned....

Easily the kewlest thing I have seen today.

I Aten't Ded

...And neither is Tam, who finally did post something from $DISTANT LOCATION.

In other news --

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Claire Wolfe posted a link to Silver Circle, an interesting animated bit of If This Goes On sociopolitical speculation -- in the form of a fast-paced adventure! Don't tell me It Can't Happen Here; most of it already has and Treasury has a nice stack of seized Liberty Dollars to show for it.

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Remember the theatre prof at UW-Stout, who had his Firefly poster nabbed for bein' Too Scary? FIRE lawyered him up and the U backed down. And here's the best part: the prof is a bit of a left-libertarian, while FIRE often finds itself on the conservative side of things -- but unlike UW-Stout's top cop, they both know what the First Amendment means. I'm seeing more and more of this -- even the Occupy Indianapolis folks are making a point of tryin' to be beyond Left and Right. (It must break Piven's heart to know this group even went out and got all the proper permits an' have established rules about being polite and not actually blocking doors and such. Heh).

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Comparing "Liberty" and "Freedom." Man's got some good points.

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In closing, I have found my camera and a big ol' box of stalled-when-I-moved radio projects; I'm in the process of working on even more bookshelves and...dang, I need tires. The right-side ones on my car both have slow leaks; at least, I hope it's the tires and not the rims.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Swept Under The Newsprint

Update: It gets better! The Star's building is slated to be one of the targets in the local version of "Occupy Wall Street!" Maybe the unwashed hippies and their pals can take a break to copy-edit a little -- at least they could check the spelling and place names in the article the paper might write about 'em. It's the socially-responsible thing to do, right? At the very minimum, someone should have the grace to wedge a small, safe, non-vandalistic plastic fork in the building, 'cos it's done. End Update.

I should've asked Mom for yesterday's newspaper, then I could've scanned it. It is nowhere to be found on their website. (Nope, here it is, typo and all.) In an editorial yesterday addressing the renaming of Georgia Street in downtown Indy,* Our Local Paper (wholly owned by the blood-from-a-turnip experts at Gannett) managed to refer to it as "George" Street.

Nathan's got a scan of the article posted; I didn't imagine it. Guess they figured the rubes would never notice?

...In unrelated news, it was only a month or four ago that local newspaper pundits (for which read the paper's early-retired, surplussed and/or laid-off employees) were bewailing the decision to do away with copy editors/proofreaders. Gannett told 'em it was okay; in this modern computer age, they'd never be missed.

You betcha, George!

I'm all for removin' bloat, streamlining production and being all-around efficient, especially in these troubled economic times. But there is a bottom and I would suggest for a newspaper, it is reached when the lack of attention to detail starts to give the readership an impression of apathy.

As unlikely as it may sound coming from me, I agree with the Newspaper Guild on one thing: when Gannett reaches bottom, they can be counted on to start digging deeper. There must be a pony in there somewhere -- lookit the evidence!
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* Looks like they're gonna drop that notion, or try to sneak it in later when we're not looking.

Okay, I'm Up, I'm Up

...Now, will someone find the person who just drove down the street, honking their car's horn? 'Cos I want back the five years I was startled out of!

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Staghounds Has A Musical Interlude

...And further epiphany confirming the wonderfulness of the self-directed individual. Go. Listen. Look --And be amazed.

Hidden Camera

--Mine! Three nights ago -- or was it four? -- I grilled steak and taters and took a photo of a loaded plate. Set my camera aside to eat. Have not seen it since.

I'm startin' to suspect I ate it.

Leaping To Conclusions

So, Hank Williams Jr. compares Mr. Boehner and Mr. Obama enjoying a chummy afternoon golf outing to "Hitler and Netanyahu playing golf together..." and the media's all over it, intoning in a shocked murmur, "He compared the President to Hitler!!!!!1!"

Yeah. Except -- I've heard the quote several times now. He doesn't say who's who. Maybe he was comparing the President to Netanyahu, and the Speaker to Hitler; you can't actually tell.

As analogies go, it's pretty lame. Israel's current Prime Minister is the first one they've had to be born in-country and after the foundation of the modern state. He might as well have picked, I don't know, Emperor Nero and the present Pope as incongruous golfing buddies. Clumsy as it was, his attention appears to have been more on the foolishness of trying to paper over unresolvable conflict between two parties.

Amusingly, he's not the only public figure to invoke Nazis in politics -- Benjamin Netanyahu has done so repeatedly when talking about Iran.

C'mon, guys, are we going to have to make Internet trolls write you (at great length) about Godwin's Law?

Monday, October 03, 2011

Tab Clearing: Cafesjian Museum Of Art

Take a middling-insane Soviet-era meeting-hall folly that clumb up a hillside, have an ex-pat zillionaire with a taste for modern art throw avant-garde architects at it and what do you get?

Armenia's Cafesjian Museum Of Art, is what.

Go, look, follow the links you find on that page. You'll not see the like of it anywhere.

In a lovely but history-vexed part of the world (the border/territorial issues between Armenia and Azerbaijan you don't want to know about, and that's even before taking the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic into consideration), it's especially striking to see such a splendid and unusual construction.

Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho

...It's off work all this week I go.... But I've got to get a move on this morning: I've a small dog to take to the doctor.

Plans for this week? I had one set but they're not gonna happen. I am not goin' anywhere; there's plenty to do around this house and I aim to do it.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

On Re- And De-Animation

Coffee accomplished the last ten percent of the process for me and a nice bowl of Jamaican-jerk bacon, mushrooms and farm-fresh free-range eggs (with a little shredded carrot to add a figleaf of healthiness) is achieving critical mass.

Meanwhile, over at Tam's, there's a few folk uncomfortable with her being ambivalent about Uncle Sam pullin' a drone hit on a U. S. citizen. 'Strewth, he was talkin' serious smack, including the "Let's you and him go blow stuff up" variety, and doing so to an audience that has indicated a certain willingness to comply; but ain't The People got the right to talk? Yeah, he's a bad guy. Yeah, he preaches hatred and violence. So does Van Jones. So does Thomas Metzger. (And I won't give either one a link). So does a huge long list of jerks, nitwits, revolutionaries, lunatics, agent provocateurs and plain ordinary folk who've had a bad day and a drink too many. Can't blast 'em all, the Pentagon has a finite budget -- and, being falliable humans, working a list that long they're liable to blow up Arlo Guthrie, Ron Paul or your Great-Aunt Hattie by mistake.

Me, I've been concerned about siccing drones on anyone outside of war zone, and even not too happy with where and on what basis we've run a few of those wars or police actions or whatever they are to be called this week; I'm tempted to just start callin' them all "explosive euphemisms." (Could we at least return the old name of DoD if the Feds are a-gonna go act the aggressor? War Department is an honest name with a long history, lacking in Orwellian irony.)

It's certainly safer for our lads to just send in a drone (though on that basis, and given the difficulties of targeting, wouldn't it be safer still to neutron-bomb the evildoers?), I get that; but every successful splattering makes a martyr and makes our side look more of a coward and bully. Haul the bastid home, try him for treason, and stand him up against a wall! --Or send him off to serve life with Big Bubba; it's a win either way. Yeah, way harder to do; yeah, it risks the lives of more loyal Americans than usin' the remote and it hasn't got any video-game coolth, but if you wanna be the Good Guys, you don't get to take shortcuts -- and the white hats don't have a yellow stripe down the back.

(FWIW, treason is well defined in the Constitution -- but to convict requires a trial. And if you're thinking that "outmoded document" is imposing "unreasonable restrictions," why, have a seat over there next to Sarah Brady. You'll have much to talk about.)

Overschlepped

...Er, -slept. And happy to do it, too. Had a bit of a bike ride yesterday, a perfectly wonderful supper (of which I'd love to show you a photo but I have misplaced my camera) and slept and slept.

And now I feel like a 90%-complete reanimation. ;)

Saturday, October 01, 2011

A Round For Eternity

Yep, now you can be a round after you're dead.

Sort of -- there's an outfit in Mobile, AL that'll pack cremated human remains into shotgun shells, rifle cartridges, even (if I'm reading the form correctly) handgun ammunition. And why not? I've claimed (as a joke!) for some time that when I go, I wanted to be cremated* and have my ashes blown into the faces of a select list of idiots and oh, man, if it was shotgun shells-- But I'm dreamin'.

An interesting idea, and it's got to be more affordable and practical than having one's ashes shot from a cannon all at one go. An afternoon spent target shooting or taking down clay pigeons for one's funeral sounds to me like an improvement over the usual arrangement.
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* Actually, my plan, which I really ought to formalize one of these days, is a low-bidder cremation with the ashes dumped at the base of a radio tower if possible and if not, hey, whatever; city picks up the trash once a week and a wink is as good as a nod to a blind mule, mmmmkay? No service, no cards, no flowers, no faffing about -- in the unlikely event people would want to mark the occasion, they should go have dinner together or sing a few verses of "Ding, dong, the witch is dead," but I ain't settin' it up for 'em ahead of time. With no children or close siblings, there's nobody to take any cold comfort in the usual procedure. It'll just be a PITA for whatever distant relative gets stuck with it, so why not try'n make it as little trouble as possible?