The voter registration deadline in Indiana is 9 October. You might want to register and vote: while voting might not be able to make things all that much better, you can at least slow the rate at which they get worse.
(These guys are responsible for the "your one vote..." PSA I've lampooned in the past -- but their hearts are in the right place).
Chicago has a long-running gang violence problem, which Chicago politicians and other hacks persistently claim is a "gun problem."
But they're gonna fix it now, you betcha, with a Twitter initiative: under the hashtag #WHATIFCHICAGO, they're asking for your snappy 140-character solution to the city's "gun problem."
Hey, Chicago, you know what is the problem? It's too damn hard for an honest person to legally lay hands on a gun. Even if they do get through the maze, they still can't have it when they are most likely to need it.
--And suggestions range from installing even more draconian restrictions with even heavier penalties -- because somehow, a guy who is willing to murder his fellow-humans is going to be worried by one more law or ten more possible years if he gets caught, or will register his guns if you tell him this time, you really, really mean it -- to one from a practical-looking woman who makes the point I opened with: WhatIfChicago stopped confusing the city's gang problem with a gun problem?
A fraction of the city's population are wallowing and dieing in a world of hopeless violence, waging tiny wars over tiny bits of turf and drug deals that don't amount to a measurable percentage of the legal business conducted in the City Of Broad Shoulders -- and yet the mess affects everyone; you might not be the four-year-old hit by a stray shot, or even her uncle, but if you're living in or near Chicago, your life has been negatively affected by the gang crime problem there.
And they're not going to fix it with tougher gun laws. Even laws more than 140 characters long. It ain't gonna even start to be fixed until gang members start looking at the honest citizens, worrying what they might do to maintain the peace. Most people in Chicago are decent and at least middlin' honest; they shouldn't have to fear gang members.
I don't Twitter. If you do, maybe you could help 'em out.
(Why's this any business of mine? Ahem: "Guns bought legally in Indiana guns passed on illegally in Chicago. #WhatIfChicago pressured #Indiana to help?" --Yeah, we'll help: adopt Indiana's gun laws. You'll be safer.)
It's already well-established that the Other Side loves 'em some Leader Principle* and I guess Mitt figures it's a fine shovel to dig with, but dammit!
The President is not Our Leader to anyone but the Armed Forces; he's just the guy we elect to shake hands with kings and run the Federal gummint -- not run the citizenry.
Oh, Mr. Johnson-- I'll give you the annoying autoplay website, if maybe you know what the damn job you're applying for actually is.
I doubt it.
Y'know who really won the Second World War? Mussolini. Yeah, the Italians strung him up from a streetlight, but he was first across the line with the Leader Principle, and by the time The Last Good War was over, Mr. Roosevelt, Mr. Stalin, Mr. Churchill and Mr.Hitler had established this damfool notion that the guy runnin' a country was the boss of everyone who lived there. (Mr. Tojo took advantage of something similar by proxy). I guess the nitwits were starved for Kings; whatever, the friggin' fascists colonized the zeitgeist and we have been stuck with it ever since.
Mitt's probably the best practical hope -- and a thin, thin reed indeed. Changing the slope isn't the same as reversing the slope. __________________________________ * Sounds eviller in the original German but it Godwins the discussion.
...It's not an indication you're doing the right thing. Take Democrat Joe "I Love Obamacare" Donnelly, running against Richard Mourdock in a who's-more-rabid campaign (Mourdock, I think, which is why he has my vote). Joe thinks being okay on guns and gung-ho for redistribution means he's middle-of-the-road; and he thinks that's good:
But this is Indiana, where what we have in the middle of the road...is a gravestone! Joe, meet Nancy Kerlin Barnett; Nancy, Joe. Okay, she'll be taking care of your election hopes, Joe.
Welcome to the muddle. Er, "middle."
Here's Richard Mourdock, freaking out NBC by suggesting bipartisanship means to him that the Dems could move:
The horror, the horror! Everyone (on the coasts and in Chicago) knows that "bipartianship" means the GOP gives up ground to the Democrat party-line, never ever the other way 'round. --Mr. Mourdock bids fair to give us way more political theatre than we've had in decades. I'm in favor of that; it keeps them busy in Washington and they do less damage.
Anyway, that's what an Indiana TV PSA tells us; back before the Late Civil Unpleasantness, a Hoosier up in one of the far-North counties entered a single write-in vote that tipped the balance in an election (not for his guy, who only got the one vote); and the Representative that won was the single vote that sent the U, S, into the Mexican war, or, as the PSA puts it, in a nice cheery tone, "military action that greatly expanded the borders of the United States," hurrah!
Okay, this is my country and I'm glad that history worked out like it did but jeepers, tellin' me my one vote could pull the trigger on a fresh wave of imperialist war-mongering is not the best possible way to motivate me. Holy crap, if I vote for Rupert for Governor, is the fed.gov gonna find another Middle-Eastern meat-grinder to toss soldiers into on some vague nation-building mission for people who are probably not gonna do anything good with the nation we build 'em? Or maybe invade and annex Canada? (No, no, noooo. Not smart to try that. They actually live up there, most of them year-round. No sane nation takes that on.)
Taking the single most destructive thing nation-states do besides taxation and telling me my vote could cause it, even if I don't vote for the guy who gets in and votes for it, does not motivate me to vote; it motivates me to stay home and clean my guns, worrying they'll decide an internal frontier is the handiest kind.
They fixed the law but left the man in place, where he is likely to do further damage. He's product of a jackboot-leaning Missouri Plan method of picking judges and we have exactly one (1) chance to fire this guy: there's a retention vote for him on the ballot in November and if he isn't sent packing then, we're stuck with him through at least 2020.
Aside from the little fact that he thinks of all the rest of us as serfs whose doors may be kicked in at police whim, he's got a fine resume and -- if removed from a position of power -- he may even be a useful citizen. Let's give him a chance to rehabilitate himself: vote NO on retaining State Supreme Court Justice Steven H. David in November!
Mangled Term Of The Day: Hate Mongrel (...wha'...???) As in, "Don't be a hate mongrel," seen in comments to a news story about Pagan Pride Day and a Catholic Youth Organization track meet having to share Broad Ripple Park (little scheduling conflict, oopsie, but they worked it out).
I've thought for years that "hone in"* should be the star attraction at any Sideshow Of Violated Verbiage, but it has been dethroned. "Hate Mongrel." Gads.
Somewhere in the afterlife, Cyril Kornbluth is laughing. _____________________________________________ * This staggeringly wrong usage is absolutely consistent with a culture in which nobody has ever sharpened anything with their own precious little hands. One is tempted to look askance at Ron Popeil but he only set the style.
Yes, the old Sean Connery Space Western. I watched it Sunday evening, too sleepy from a swung shift to attempt much activity.
It's held up pretty well -- except for the display technologies (whoa, soooo dated!) and a few odd corners (why are there shuttle-progress displays everywhere? Yeah, yeah, dramatic tension, but that's building it with a hammer), it plays pretty plausibly futuristic. At least as much as any Hollywood Western town stands in for the real Old West.
I do have my quibbles:
The doctor is not gracefully established as a character and some of her self-critical lines, especially early on, just don't ring true; they'd be better from another character, talking about her. They'd be even better shown instead of told.
And the use of spaces is awkward -- it's supposed to be, but the miners sleeping quarters are screamingly inefficient, and screamingly Chekov's gun, too. (Hallo, you, mooovie-watcher? Kiiiid? There will be a tension-filled stalking scene in here later!) The greenhouses are kind of pulled out of a handy hat as well, and should have made a fleeting (but recognizable) appearance much earlier.
We won't even discuss the gravity problem -- no, wait, we will: either they've got control of gravity (in which case, why even bother to mention that Io's got the same mass -- and thus g-force -- as the Moon?) or they don't. No, much later on, it is established they do: those implausible 0-g jail cells, zero-g and zero air pressure. So, um, a drink and two dances,* over? (Also, you don't just step over a change in g -- the cells wouldn't need bars, or to be depressurized. (And mining would be way different and-- Look, gravity control, you shouldn't have. It makes too many things too easy, too different -- and it makes screwing up the science way too easy.)
(Which reminds me, the portrayal of vacuum deaths are just...wrong.)
Also, dammit, why is there no emergency stop on the mine elevator, no override on the airlock? What is this, 1910?
But even with all those quibbles, it's still a good movie; it made me care about the story, it had me cheering the hero, booing the villains and ignoring the parts that didn't quite add up. Tweak it just a little and it would drop right into the Firefly universe; push only a little more and it would work in H. Beam Piper's Terro-Human future history (which reminds me, when is some clever lad gonna turn Four-Day Planet into a movie? eBook here). And for cinematic SF, that's quite a big thing. It doesn't happen very often. Moon managed it; Destination Moon, in its time, certainly did. Examples between the two are thin -- but Outland is one of them. __________________________________ * It's not "Gin, Charleston, Frug," either.
LEO culture includes drinkin'. Always has, always will; it's how some people deal with the combinationof stress and boredom the job entails.* You can't get rid of it. What it shouldn't -- and in most cases doesn't -- include is drinking on duty. IMPD seems to have a problem with that and it remains a problem even after they've swept it into a big ugly lump under the carpet.
They've made a lot of staff changes, and sent Frank Straub packing, but I don't see any evidence that the department admits they have a problem. You can't control what you won't confront.
"Hi. I'm the IMPD, and..." Well? ______________________________________
* Reminds me of rock'n'roll DJs back in the day, though they were shot at less and stalked more. Lot of 'em found off-duty time looked more interesting through the bottom of a glass container. Some of them fell in.
It is every time they spend my tax dollars on something that I would donate them to if they let me decide, it gets cancelled?
Prisoners at the Westville Correctional Facility had been training animal-shelter dogs to make them adoptable -- and in the hopes that maybe some of the notions about rules and self-discipline might kind of stick with the prisoner/trainers, too. Well, they couldn't justify funding for the one (1) paid staff member who oversaw the prison side of things and the program will end at the end of this month, after a successful eight-year run.
The nice thing about housecats is that, in theory, they bury their own doodle. Tam's cat and mine, they make things simpler and just bury the theory, leaving one of the Mommies to add another layer to the box or change it.
And they don't tip, either. Ach, not that half a dead mouse would do me any good.
Yesterday, I finished reading Fordlandia, about Ford's unsuccessful effort to cultivate rubber in the Amazon basin. Well-written but at times frustratingly non-linear, it offers a fascinating look at one of the automaker's most far-reaching efforts.
Spoiler: it didn't work. Which is odd at first sight: rubber trees are from the Amazon. At the time Ford started the attempt, most commercial latex was sourced in Southeast Asia, by British and European growers and they were talking cartel. Tire-maker Harvey Firestone set up a plantation in Liberia. Henry Ford went right to the source.
Why not? ...Because everything that ate rubber trees lived there, is why; while the wild rubber tree could outwit most most pests and outwait most seasonal changes by being widely separated and enmeshed in the rain forest, when you cleared the land and planted them in nice, neat rows, things didn't work out nicely or neatly. Over time, Ford's crews learned a lot of ways to not plant rubber trees and, eventually, one way that pretty well worked, just in time for synthetic rubber to come along.
There was another lesson to be learned: Ford tried to set up the kind of self-sufficient little mill town they'd done in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. It turned out that square dances, Prohibition and healthy whole-grain meals in the company commissary didn't work out so well. Even the local equivalent of Ford's "five dollar day" isn't so great when there's no place to spend it, when dinner comes from the garden, goat-pen, hen house and jungle; snug little bungalows that work well in an Upper Midwest winter are miserable ovens in the Brazilian rainforest.
The final version, downriver at Belterra, made some concession to local ways and local conditions and -- how about that! -- succeeded; but it was too little, too late.
Y'know, the locals in the rain forest, early Colonial Massachusetts or downstate Illinois have probably been living there a long time; they may've managed to work out a few things. Maybe they're a buncha savages, barefoot and armed to the teeth, plantin' dead fish with the corn, but it might behoove the Civilized Elite to pay 'em a little heed -- and learn a thing or two. Ya think?
Not real ladders -- but it does offer a way up, at least a few steps.
I've written about a stove project in Africa before, in Eritrea where some applied good sense has been getting the smoke out of the kitchen. That's not the only place where a little technology and a modicum of economics is helping people: folks in Ghana at the lower end of the economic spectrum (and that would be quite a lot of people) have traditionally cooked with charcoal, over open-sided sheet-metal stoves.
Problem is, those stoves aren't very efficient and worse yet, there are more people cooking than there are trees to support their fuel.
So a company -- a for-profit company! -- called Toyola came up with an efficient little sheet-metal-and-ceramic charcoal stove. The primary components are little more than scrap metal and well-sifted mud,* resulting in a nice-sized stove that sells for about seven bucks. And if even that is too much (sip your four-dollar latte for a minute and ponder the implications), why, they'll advance credit and you haul your stove home with a tin-can bank, with the suggestion that you take the money you're saving on charcoal, put it in the can and save up towards payments on your stove.
End result? Toyola is making money. People are able to buy better, more efficient stoves. For the professional charcoal-burners.... It's kind of a setback for them, I admit, but on the other hand, they were starting to run out of trees; people are still using charcoal, just not as much. (Burning charcoal is nasty work no matter where you live, requiring constant vigilance for days at a time, and the world's charcoal burners are traditionally and typically a wild and rugged bunch; also ragged, as the pay is lousy even if you're self-employed).
You can read the article and find a lot of blather about carbon this and green that; all very nice, if you like that sort of thing, but for the Ghanan housewife (or, if I interpret the photo, fast-food vendor), it's about things more concrete and immediate: a better stove -- and more money to spend on something other than cooking fuel. It's a step up.
At one time, "kitchen improvements" for the poorer countries were one of many wildly inappropriate schemes that transplanted only mildly adapted First-World approaches to places where nobody did things that way. They'd hand people shiny gadgets that couldn't be built locally or even maintained locally. The programs would sputter on awhile, supported by big slabs of cash, and then sputter out. Nowadays, more and more, the people who come up with these notions are paying attention to the end-users; they're either locals themselves or willing to listen. And I think it's making a stronger and more lasting difference. _____________________________________________ * Admittedly, it's got to be the right kind of mud.
(Or, wottheheck, for ducks; you might as well, sometimes).
Found myself taken to task a little yesterday for suggesting you otta vote in one post and two posts later, saying "we can't fix this by voting," referring to what I think is an ineviatble collapse of the monetary system, probably taking the fed.gov down with it. ("It can't happen here?" A lot of Russians thought that, too.)
Okay, if it is going to go smash, why bother?
A. You can slow it down, put off the crash. Better hungry later than sooner!
B. You can make a difference on specific issues. Look at the progress made on gun rights, for instance.
C. You can get rid of the worst offenders. Take Indiana State Supreme Court Justice Steven H. David, who figures you have no right to resist police, ever, even if they just kick in your door sans warrant or exigent circumstances. We have one (1) chance to send this witless jackboot down; it's coming up this November and you need to get out there and vote NO on the question, "Shall Justice Steven H. David be retained?" Oh, hells no! He needs to find other work. Vote no now or we will be stuck with him until he decides to step down, probably using someone's face as a step.
Can you save the U.S. from the voting both? In the long run, probably not.* But there's a whole lot you can do in the short term, up close, and if you don't, the morons who got us in this mess will keep hastening the eventual end. Why let 'em? ______________________________________________ * For instance, Mr. Romney is, I think, a better choice than Mr. Obama. But he's not a great choice, and the same can be said about most of the candidates for the Legislative Branch, too. They don't grasp the problem and even if they did, they lack the fortitude to address it; it wouldn't play well with the voting public to do so.
...And Gogger/Bloogle has done kicked me out into the cold, cold screen of their cold new user interface.* At least they have cleaned up the busy-ness and popping-uppitage quite a lot. _________________________________________________ * Or, "The brute, brute reboot of a rebooter like you," as the poet did not write.
I love 'em on a plate with green veggies and a baked potato.
The idiots did not disappoint! --The now-updated story includes this gem of a quote: "...it wouldn't be a true hunt. It would be a killing..." because the deer at Eagle Creek Park are acclimated to humans.
Why, yes, that would be the case; it would be a killing, or a culling. There are too many deer for the park to support. We can either manage them now, or watch them starve out over the winter. Starve in a natural way, as any population of deer without a check on their increase will.
Remember, guys like that vote, too. Make sure you do, if only to cancel his poor choices.
Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis is one of the largest city parks in the United States -- 5,300 acres of trees, lakes, paths and...deer.
Too many deer. They're eating the underbrush clear; they're nibbling on saplings and eying the larger trees. And they are wandering onto roads and endangering drivers.
The answer, of course, is a controlled hunt. It's what our State Parks do when the problem arises, as it does with some regularity. Nevertheless, the city is expecting some protest from witlings who cannot figure out that we are the sole remaining predator of deer (give or take a very ambitious bobcat -- and even the non-ambitious ones are vanishingly scarce here). Lacking predators, deer will breed themselves into starvation; it's what they do. The time to control them is before they leap through the windshield of your car, trying to get across the road to polish off someone's flowerbed.
Is it mean of me to hope local media will have a camera at the public hearing, so I can watch teary-eyed fools pleading for the poor innocent widdle baby-waby deers? Look, they're real cute but they're not even as clever as goats, and we've got too many of them for even their own good. (Deer, I mean; bleeding hearts, too, but there's no hunting them and no use trying to make them any smarter than goats, either.)
It is not well known that waaaaay back in the 1920s, a researcher developed a clever way to track salmon by their urine in the water.
The ultimate version of this electrochemical device could even track individual fish.
The young scientist who'd invented the thing had relied on grants from various sources, including Henry Ford. Ford was notoriously tightfisted and the company's bookkeeping, despite Edsel's efforts at reform, bordered on chaotic. The explains why, one fine afternoon at his camp along a watercourse in the Pacific Northwest, the developer was sitting on the bank, going over a huge pile of receipts, when, suddenly, a breeze took one for $10,000 -- an enormous sum of money at the time -- blew it out over the water, and a salmon snapped it up!
Well, he had to have that receipt, so there was nothing for it but to get out the fish-tracking apparatus and set forth; after nearly 18 hours of tracking, he found and netted the fish and, amazingly, the paperwork was still readable.
I'd make some snarky comment -- Don's has earned the full measure of its reputation -- but the fact is, if you run a gun store, with a range or not, this will happen. It's not especially common, after-hours robberies and probably even range suicides* happen more often, but when it does, it gets noticed. In this instance, the clerk was able to do the right thing.
This is the fault of the guy that did it, not where it happened. Could have happened at any other gun store. Or any store. --Could have happened at a jeweler's house; in fact, it did, earlier the same day. _______________________________________ * Many of the odd-seeming or strict firearm rental policies come about in reaction to these tragedies.
I haven't written directly about the putative cause of the recent Mohammed-movie mess violence, in large part because it seemed too trivial; the film itself is little more than a live-action Jack Chick tract, painted in broad and sloppy strokes, rather than a serious biopic or critical deconstruction of the religious myth.
...And then the pseudonymous producer turned out to be a Coptic Christian, instead of the nice Jewish boy he'd claimed to be -- and then he turned out to not be a career producer either, having previously worked in the bank-fraud industry. And then, he got a midnight knock on the door: the terms of his probation barred him from, oh, using computers (at least online), or soliciting investors, both of which he certainly appeared to have been doing.
It was that midnight-arrest-in-force -- for the kind of misbehavior that usually calls for two officers, during the day -- that had some bloggers invoking Orwell's 1984 or William Shirer. While cooler heads (Sebastian, Popehat) were pointing out that you give up rights and can be prohibited from specific activities on probation, the timing, nature and publicity of the arrest does give the impression that the manner in which it was done was intended to send a message. "--Intended by whom?" then becomes fertile (though rootless) ground for speculation.
My own speculations went in a different direction, remembering some of the grandiose funding claims made for the film: we're more likely to be watching a real-life version of The Producers than 1984. And just like the move, Max has gotten nabbed before he could catch the plane to Rio.
Fraud is not free speech; it ain't protected. Unfortunately -- and thanks to both an overly-dramatic arrest and the drama some of us have added to it -- that is far too subtle a message for the marching (burning, assaulting...) morons of Mohammed and the Middle East.
In fact, it's hard to find any category in which this entire muddle can't be scored as "lose."
Our local -- and very kewl -- living history museum, Conner Prairie, focuses on the 19th century; when a news report announced they'd received a grant to fuel (ahem) youngsters interest in Science, Technology, Engineering And Math, I was heartened.
...Then I read it would feature "...wind and water-power...." While windmills and watermills are about a serious an 1800s tech as it gets, it's largely a rule-of-thumb, wooden-gears affair, usually on a scale too big to be safe around kids. "Engineering" rode in the with steam engine -- and stayed.
Thus I was relieved to go to the Conner Prairie website and learn the ending-today S.T.E.A.M. Week includes genuine steam engines -- even if they have decided the "a" stands for "the Arts." Somebody's got to pinstripe those engines!
I wrote a few days ago that there "...was a way to start small..." with pennyfarthing bicycles. It works pretty well. Not too rough on the pocketbook, either. Mind you, it takes some practice and at this point, I still struggle to not wobble the wheel too much, especially when controlling speed on a downhill. (The rear brake is more of a fond wish than a practical accessory.)
That's a 28" wheel in front and the little gadget turns heads wherever you ride it. A couple more photos and a bit more info over at Retrotechnologist.
Far-off, exotic Vermont! Home of Alphecca! Others may think of maple-sugaring; good firearms laws; or the actor in the bread commercial who tells us how they "remembah" a time before women could vote, a time when children could be whipped with a hickory switch when they failed to behave; or even Howard Dean, who plainly was not.
Tam and I were in the office; I had just located a photo of the Wizard Oil Bridge and was telling her that, despite the web-page report that "...no one has ever been able to tell me it's name origin," artist/historian Eric Sloane* wrote that the current bridge is named after a patent medicine advertisement painted all across the outside of the covered bridge it replaced: WIZARD OIL.
She should know. Oh, my. --Back on this earth, Hamlin's Wizard Oil didn't just paint signs on bridges, they promoted their nostrum with medicine shows and printed songbooks. __________________________________________ * Eric Sloane's America, pp. 87-88. (Promotory Press, 1994, reprinting Barns and Covered Bridges , Our Vanishing Landscape  and American Yesterday ). --If you see a book with his name on the cover, buy it if you're at all interested in hands-on history.
It's not just episodes of NBC's Lawn Odor that find their inspiration in the morning news: the Monty Python "Piranha Brothers" bit turns out to have real-life antecedents in the notorious Kray Brothers, with borrowings from contemporary, opposing criminal gangs. The reality is nearly as much a string of non sequiturs as the comedic version -- minus the laughs.
(For that matter, the Guy Ritchie Britcrime move Snatch plays a tune in much the same key.... Something about the British sense of humo[u]r?)
In the first run, audiences certainly knew the underlying truth, lending a sharp and even bitter edge to the joke, in much the same way that the first generation to read -- and laugh over -- "Casey At The Bat (A Ballad of the Republic Sung in the Year 1888)" had read Macaulay's "Horatius At The Bridge (A Lay of Ancient Rome)," and knew that both men had "struck out:" Casey with his bat and the ancient Roman swimming -- striking out -- for the bank of the Tiber; that is but the last and least of the deliberate parallels, allusions and sly puns to be found. As Thayer -- "Phin" -- so the Pythons; and to the modern day, Weird Al Yankovic.
Rioting at embassies -- y'know what'd put a stop to that? A wall of liquid fire.
Yes, I'm serious; this isn't "high spirits" or "free speech," it's a mob assault on the embassy of a foreign power. If you, me and 500 of our closest friends stormed the Chinese embassy in Washington, or the Yemeni consulate in wherever the hell there is one, or whatever other furrin outpost of furriness and afternoon teas-over-treaties, I'd expect deadly force to be used -- and not just by their guards, but by our own police as well, 'cos that form of mob violence is an assault on a sovereign power.
But Roberta X, you demur, aren't you an anarchist? Don't you believe in your heart of hearts that "government" and "sovereign powers" other than the individual are merely polite fictions? Why yes, yes I do -- but just like the polite fiction that the Vicar's wife has not just let fly an enormous, dire blat of flatulence while taking tea, those polite fictions are (at least in theory) how we refrain from climbing bell towers or pushing the big red missile-firing button, even when we are, severally and each, getting on one another's last nerve. It's b---s---, but it's useful; swarming the fences and takin' out ambassadors with shoulder-fired rockets is breaking the rules. It ain't how the game is played.
And it deserves a response other than "oops" or "Oh, my, that was an insulting video." Personally, I would recommend flamethrowers loaded with napalm; that way, when the Grand Vizier or the Undershirtsecretary or Prime Minister of Rioterstan calls up to say he's shocked, shocked to learn rioting is going on and promising to take stern action if only the malefactors can be located, our Consul or Ambassador can simply tell him, "Great! Just look for the b-stards with severe burns."
And why are they rioting? Let's ask the Brits! Why, this columnist says it's over a "a really nasty piece of lying propaganda" which he likens to "a Jack Chick comic;" he goes on to urge banning. --No word if he'd ban Chick handouts, too, but the implication's obvious. Still, the gov.uk can do that; the writer even claims it is within "central values of liberal democracy" with a straight face. And he cites Mill, that the remedy for bad speech is better speech; but just like the rioters, he has no faith in the notion. (Submitting to thugs and mobs has such a great history of positive results, doesn't it?)
Holy cow. Chick tracts are hilarious; while I'm sure they hold a certain appeal to persons who agree with the tenets expressed therein, the rest of us have trouble takin' 'em seriously. Yet that's the kind of thing violently-inclined Islamic "youth" are burning embassies and torpedoing Ambassadors over? (Well, if there is any group that knows and loves crude propaganda.... Ahem.)
Napalm's too good for 'em. It's bit too tony for any government that condones their actions, too.
I said just about everything I had to say yesterday. I despise this making of new feast days and especially the way the media makes this one all sackcloth and ashes, all useless wailing and pointless lamentation. No amount of tears will turn back the clock.
Remember, if you will, that the ringleader was eventually hunted down to his doom -- and that vigilance, once awakened, does not quickly or easily fall back to sleep.
Eep-Frogs Return, Downtrodden Frogs Are Related Breed
I've written about the small, intensely paranoiac eep! frogs at the North Campus; after a dry summer of mostly not seeing them, a half-dozen or so seem to have been washed downstream and ended up in a large puddle mostly inside a culvert; they lurk at the non-covered end, basking in the sun, waiting for bugs and exclaiming eep! while ducking and covering if anything bigger than a bug happens by. The puddle is shrinking, but fear not: they have access to a field-tile drain that surfaces not a quarter-mile away.
...And down where the field-tile surfaces, the dispirited or downtrodden frogs have grown up big, and no longer just sit there, along the bank or noses poking out of the water, thinking at you "I'm a rock, I'm a rock, I'm a rock," just as hard as they can, while hoping you'll go away. Nope; they start with that but if you keep moving, they shout, "Yiipe!" and splash into the deeper water, headed for hiding.
I thought I had written about them before but I can't find it -- they favor patches of algae and end up with a good bright-green coating of it all over their froggy faces. I thought their bodies were brown, but several recent examples had the coating of mud on their lower bodies rubbed off in spots -- and what's under it is spots: they're leopard frogs -- and the skittish little eep frogs are, too.
Which means the place has been colonized by eepin' leopards. Filthy muddy eepin' leopards. Sadly, that's not what Little Orphan Annie said* -- but she would've if she'd'a met these.
They're like the opposite of Kzinti: they scream and they leap -- for cover. ____________________________________________ * It was "leapin' lizards!" an altogether more fearsome prospect, as most frogs lack A) teeth and B) claws, but few lizards do.
It's too delicate to photograph, but Roseholme Cottage has an Unstoppable Spider in the back yard. At the south end of the tomato patch, there's a great spot for a spiderweb: tall tomato plant in a big, sturdy support frame to anchor top and bottom of one side, the 4x4s around the raised bed for the bottom of the other side, and for the fourth anchor point....
Nothing, that is, until you cross eight feet of empty space and latch onto the paracord holding an end of one of my ham antennas, and that's just what the spider did, with a great long multi-strand cable.
I dunno what kind of spider it is -- probably an Orb Weaver, to look at the web -- but it's got a smallish body and a huge abdomen, and moves a bit awkwardly. As in "tiny, pregnant lady carrying a full laundry basket down a narrow hallway" awkward. But it's certainly not easily daunted!
Tomorrow is the anniversary of a day that lives in infamy -- as it should; not only was it a sneak attack that ranks with Pearl Harbor, it's the day "just give them what they want and things will work out" was completely disproved and the efficacy of vigorous resistance in limiting damage done was demonstrated.
And the day a lot of innocent people were murdered by criminals; except in his own mind, a criminal is all a "terrorist" is.
It bothers me when we give such criminals the dignity of soldiers; it bothers me when we've let them swipe a whole day from the calendar.
And it bothers me a lot when the lamestream media drape the day in deep black and use it to tell us we've got to bend ourselves to the State; that the State was attacked, and the State responded, and only the State can protect us from the awful scourge of superstitious goat-herders....
That's all nonsense. Illusion. Individuals were attacked; individuals made up their own mind to respond and took action -- on Flight 93, at the World Trade Center before and after the fall, at the Pentagon: it was individuals.
You want to take time to remember them tomorrow, you do that; just remember collective mourning has no more objective reality than collective guilt, and those sad, sad faces on the TV are there to sell you the same toothpaste, new cars and underarm deodorant as every other morning; they'd bite the heads off chickens, if it tested well in focus groups.
Tam and I watched the film -- pretty much on a whim* -- this afternoon. (I was too sleepy to go to the range).
Da-yum. Good movie. Really good movie. Also? Bowie made a really fine Tesla, despite not looking all that much like him.
Not much I can say without getting spoilerific; I had figured out one man's trick fairly early, but you're meant to. If you haven't seen The Prestige, and you like steampunk, or Neil Stephenson, you are highly likely to enjoy it. ____________________________________________ * 'Cos The Prisoner is not available on Amazon va Roku or Kindle. Bummer. Need DVDs!
"Your mission...unh, Clem...should you choose to accept it, is to read this blog entry. By the time you read it, it will have already self-posted on The Internet; if you or any of your team are caught, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of what happened to the donuts, or why the coffee is inexplicably weak."
Tell you what, early comes darned early on the far side of 40. Also, you get watched by chickens; but that's the third semi-obscure reference already. Oh, it's all "Shoes for industry" when things are going well, and never a thought for the poor sods who have to mine them from the primordial ylem.
I'm at work now. I'm hoping to be at the range later, with firearms, camera and "I'm here because you broke something" T-shirt. Let 'em chew on that! --But only figuratively, please.
I have about made up my mind to own an "Ordinary" bicycle, the kind of thing known as a pennyfarthing or Highwheeler. It has taken over two years for the desire to grow and in the meantime, I'm not getting any younger; conversely, even modern editions are not getting any cheaper; the most affordable are within dish-flinging distance* of a grand and at the high end, you're getting hand-finished, high-polished and -plated art, painstakingly assembled as a superb vehicle. Me, I will not be starting at the high end but I shall still have to save up.
...There is a way to start small; I'm looking into it and will report if/when there is anything to report. One thing for sure, I shall have to join The Wheelmen. (They do allow ladies to join; we're not even required to wear corsets.)
On the notion of "meantime...." My work hours have turned pure-dee mean, of a sudden: 11 hours made for a long day, even with a nice lunch break for Turkish food with Tam (herself en route to Geeksville).
Tomorrow, a mere 5 hour day, but an even earlier start; the rest of the week will probably be all elevenses with departure just ahead of the rising sun.
The good news is, I get overtime pay! You might consider that "special money;" I usually do, and do special things with it, sock it away, apply it to the principal of my home loan, or buy fun stuff, lest I start counting on OT pay for day-to-day living. But just this once, I may think of it "'ordinary' money."
;) __________________________________________ * Slightly farther than "spitting distance" and more polite -- though rather more violent. Well, it's always something.
Readers familiar with the travelogs, anthropological and zoological works of H. P Lovecraft will no doubt recognize the fossil -- or estivating example -- neighbors near Roseholme Cottage have chosen to adorn their lawn. Yes, it's an Elder Thing, perhaps a little worse for the eons. (Compare with this photo from the 1930 Nathaniel Derby Pickman Foundation-funded expedition.)
I've yet to work up nerve to lend them a copy of At The Mountains Of Madness. Do you think they know? And if so, why aren't they deeply, deeply worried?
I'm reading the Bruce Sterling book -- cutting-edge when published barely 20 years ago, it now reads as quaintly as penny-farthing bicycles, tailfins on cars, snap-brim hats and teenagers saying "keen!"
...Is there anything quite as dead as dial-up BBSes? I can still use a 1920s dial telephone; but a 300 baud modem (heck, even a superfast 2400-baud) isn't even a good doorstop. No, I'm being unfair: the landline telegraph guys use them (plus a custom interface) to telegraph one another, via a nifty hub and The TelCo, in a very clever mash-up of time-spanning technologies. (But time doth march on: Internet Morse is the coming thing!)
The Hacker Crackdown is a fascinating period piece, with the Internet looming in the background like a luxury liner headed into port but not quite yet docked and a whole slew of smaller precursors busily festering away, up close and personal. ...I remember hitting local boards with a battered Kaypro II* and a direct-connect modem (and thank you, Irv Hoff, for MDM730!), but I was (by then) a serious sort and avoided the warez d00dz and their ilk. Sterling provides a guided tour, to the extent such a thing is possible, and it's strangely like going though the Winchester mansion or the tombs of the Pharaohs.
So recent. So far away. _________________________________________ * Still one of the best machine/software packages for writing, ever; the bundled word processor was a composing engine superior to anything that came after. Q10 is as close as I can get and it's pretty good -- but the formatting options in PerfectWriter were better.
Infamously-fast fast-food chain Rally's (possibly "Checkers" where you live) sells a pretty fair chili dog. Why did I not know this? Yes, I admit it, a few-and-far-between chili dog is one of my guiltiest pleasures.
For that matter, there's a drugstore chain not too far away that sells what appears to be a decent kale salad. ...But give me twelve hours before I rule on that.
(12 hours on: yes. The kale salad is made of win and freshness. What brave new world is this, anyhow?)
"Hackers,*" the TV newsies chortled this morning, "have stolen (???) Mitt Romney's income tax returns and are holding them for One Million Dollars ransom."
C'mon, Mitt, man up. Tell 'em to go ahead and publish -- heck, beat them to the punch and release the returns yourself, only with even more data. It's just income taxes; people already know you've made heaps of money.
Besides, we have one candidate who tiptoes around, sealing up records in palm-sweating trepidation lest anyone learn he ever went by "Barry," claimed not to be from here, and/or had less-than-perfect grades. Don't be that guy, Mitt, it just looks silly.
Speaking of silly, turns out there's more than one tiptoe-er: we have another guy runnin' for The Worst Job On The Planet who's playing coy about his tax returns: Gary Johnson of the LP.
How low have we sunk, that earning a splendiferously good living is something to hide? Do voters really go into the booth thinking, "Oh, screw them successful guys, I want a schmuck that hasn't done much better than me tryin' to do the day-to-day running of the fed.gov." Gads. __________________________ * Dammit, that's not what the word meant; it used to be neutral at worst, way back when a "computer" was a series of huge great cabinets locked in an air-conditioned basement, lorded over by a grad student or oddball accountant sitting at a console just like at NASA. "Crackers" were the guys who grabbed data and Did Bad Things with it. Hackers just snuck around like good campers, learning all the paths, seeing the scenic wonders and "taking nothing but pictures" and leaving not even footprints; they were the rare and special folk who could hack code. That word got evil fast, once the stupid laid hold of it.
Went out on the front porch last nice to check the mail and noticed toadstools in the yard, courtesy of our recent rain; walked out for a closer look and when I turned to walk back, realized something was missing.
How low -- and bold -- does someone have to be to steal a plastic garden gnome ($40 if you're down with Amazon Prime) from a well-lit front porch, a porch frequently inhabited by the well-armed Tam? --And where in creation does one pawn such a thing?
Tam thinks he was nicked while she was in Knoxville. I think his departure is more recent; either way, it's not a good sign for the neighborhood.
Not in the headline, the bad news: you used to be able to shoot pigeons within town limits. That's going away. Bummer.
(Also, dig the AP language-mangle at full throttle: the "...ordinance prohibits people from carry around..." Grog? You went from B.C. to AP? The wire services used to hammer out some pretty darned good verbiage, news up to the minute every hour, at 60 thundering words per minute, 24/7/364.5.* All those guys retired.) _______________________________________________ * Christmas morning was pretty quiet.
I'm not a subject-matter expert -- other than living a rich, full life doing things that leave lingering marks: bicycling, motorscootering, rock-climbing, fooling around with hot solder and power tools, being young-broke-and-lacking-proper-dental-hygiene, etc. You do stuff and sometimes it has consequences you'd better understand ahead of time. I've got scars and calluses and old broken-and-mostly-healed bones.
I tried to keep quiet when the TV morning chat show was showing items for couples to do "50 Shades role-playing" with, featuring skinny plastic zip-ties as "restraints" -- these'd be the things policepersons (ahem) and soldiers have to go through training to use and still sometimes damage people with; the things you need diagonal cutters to remove, cuticle scissors literally won't cut it.
Then Tam and I were at the Broad Ripple Kroger and this was on the newsstand:
PHOTO BY A WILDLY CACKLING TAM. USED WITH PERMISSION.
Yep, right there next to Quarters Crafterly and Ills Sportulated. (But no pin-up books, 'cos that stuff is dirty. Lots of the steamier romance novels, though; funny, that.) Happy, lighthearted idle reading for the shallow. Y'know what you get after that? Sometimes, this: "Italian sex-slave wife sues husband after divorce." 'Cos all that hot-sexy-fun will not necessarily stay fun forever (especially after nerve damage from too-tight zip ties on your wrists too long).
Lookit, I don't care about your sex life; mostly, I don't want to know. 93%? Seems a bit high. Sex is kind of like sports: most anyone can do it but only a few people are really built for the most strenuous kinds, and the best of them know themselves and their "sporting goods" really, really well. At that level of performance, more people read about than do and no matter how gifted you are, there will come a time when you slow down, or your interests change; you'd better plan for it.
And sometimes a spicy book is better left as a book.
It appears the uncouth jerks over at a blog-that-won't-be-named-here are still claiming that "intellectual property" just refers to the stuff you only think you own. Their latest known victim disagrees.
And Perth, Western Australia, has Wheel Clamp Man. --No, he doesn't clamp the louts who fail at parking (pity, that), he unclamps motorists with his handy angle grinder -- after asking, and in return for a donation to an actual charity, mind.
Proper Authorities are not at all amused.
He may've been inspired by Britain's Angle Grinder Man, who fought The Clamp Menace* a decade earlier, half a planet away. ...Fought and won, at least for a given value of "win:" wheel-clamping on private land will be banned in England and Wales come October. (Northern Ireland and Scotland, well, y'see, this is yet another manifestation of a very long and dark history we're not likely to see set right at any point in human history. Also, you can still get clamped there.)
The caped-crusader thing, it may be catching on. __________________________________________ * Not to be confused with The Clam Menace. Oh, hells no.
Alas, they haven't made gas-engine Toy Racers since WW II started. I don't think they ever restarted production of the little gasoline washing-machine engines that made 'em go. Still, it's creditable record of achievement. _______________________________________ * Arguably, their products were never the same after the last Maytag left.
2. A typo duly noted -- and the never-ending work of a diary farm described -- in Comments. :D
Punch a circle from a slice of good white bread. Melt a pat or two of butter in a pan. Drop the bread in; get the down side buttery, then flip over and break an egg in the center. Pop the yolk and drop a slice of marinated* jalapeno in the center of it, and a ring of mild (or to taste) pickled bananna pepper around the jalapeno slice, so the whole thing looks like a bullseye. You can cover it once it gets going; this will make the top set more quickly.
Cut 4 to 8 radial slits around the perimeter of a lunchmeat-sized slice of cotto salami and fry over low heat (I used a separate skillet -- 'cos all the big ones are in the dishwasher).
When the egg is set enough to flip, do so; the bread should be golden brown. Drop a slice of Muenster or whatever cheese you favor on top, followed by the salami slice, and cook 'til the cheese is melty.
Put on a plate and enjoy! Needs no seasoning. Barely needs silverware, in fact. The leftover disc of bread can be fried up in the salami grease and/or any butter left in the pan. ___________________________________ * We have some mildish ones from Tam's garden soaking in a mixture of pickle juice, red wine vinegar, a dash of salt and a splash of balsamic vinaigrette in a covered dish in the fridge. YMMV.
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Ego vadum perussi vestri prandium
"I saw to what extent the people among whom I lived could be trusted as good neighbors and friends; that their friendship was for summer weather only; that they did not greatly propose to do right; that they were a distinct race from me by their prejudices and superstitions."