Thursday, May 31, 2012


Tam proposes "some sort of blogger/reader gathering" this coming Sunday. It's Indy 1500 weekend, after all.

Whaddaya think? Plump's Last Shot or someplace? Three-ish?

Morning Thoughts

- Did not wake up well this morning: fought to the surface. Still strugglin'. Some mornings are like that.

- The State Fair has 500 job openings to fill at a job fair today. Last year, they had considerably more applicants than openings and expect this year's turnout to be even bigger. This is for short-term jobs around Fair time, most of which pay $7.50 an hour. Yeah, tell me again how well that economic recovery is going? (Upside: State Fair workers are generally pleasant, helpful and friendly, about as far from the stereotyped "government worker" as possible.)

- We now know that it's "Amercia" that has 57 states. And presumably that nation participated in a war that helped end the Polish death camps. Somebody needs to make a multipartisan list of campaign fact-gaffes, with an eye toward using the misinformation to write alternate-history fiction. I predict the resulting parallel Earth would boggle Turtledove.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Dear Red China: Molon Labe

Seen at David Codrea's: China Condemns U.S. Gun Ownership As Human Rights Violation. Oddly, the pants of the running dogs of the Liberator Of Tibet failed to burst into flames; one can only assume asbestos.

Yeah, Red China? As your lackeys point out, we've got nine guns for every ten Americans -- and the tenth citizen is reloading. So get stuffed. You're outgunned, outstubborned and have killed off your own subjects and inhabitants of occupied territories in numbers that make Joe Stalin look like a slacker: ain't nobody listenin' when Red China says we ought to be disarmed.

Bad Signs

It's those signs you wake up seeing, real close:

Or, for that matter, the one where you rush home feeling tired, make yourself stop and get something light for dinner, get home, put the baby watermelon in the fridge, check the mail, go to change your shoes and, sitting on the bed, think, I'll just lay down for a minute.

I half-woke an hour later, changed into bedclothes and was back in Slumberland wondering what Little Nemo was up to before you could say, "'Ware Flip!" I didn't read what it said on his hat until eight and a half hours later.

(Semi-relatedly, didja ever have one of those days? Or almost? --There's even a nested "one of those days" in my example!)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

You Know How To Make It Rain?

I know how to make it rain: put up a new ham radio antenna with a home-made matching transformer, one you really plan to weatherproof after you've seen if the antenna is going to work.

I checked it out last night about 10, after dinner ("Steak a la Roseholme," slow-grilled over hardwood charcoal, with baked taters and green beans, ahhh!). It worked pretty well. This morning, it's getting rained on.

Guess I'll be taking it down and applying a hair dryer to it this evening.

Root Beer: Closer Than I Thought

It's not on tap, but Sunday, Tam returned from the reliably eclectic Locally Grown Gardens (a bike ride away) with two bottles of this: I like it; it's not as creamy as Dog'n'Suds but very smooth and not overly sweet.

Other recent sodage: Dapper Cola (tasty, not "bitey" but could possibly use a bit more cola flavor) and a beverage remarkably similar to the pre-HFCS taste of another "peppy" beverage. I'll bet it would be just as good at 10, 2 or 4! Recommended.


The famous Porch at Roseholme Cottage is usually home to what I call "Frank Lloyd Wright moths." At rest, their furled wings are covered in a pattern of black-outlined pastels, rectangles of white, yellow, peach and pale green.

I've not seen as many this year -- and now I think I know why: "You are what you eat?" This spider -- and another like it, only smaller -- has set up shop in the hostas just off the Porch.

Too small to photograph really well with my Brownie (maybe 3/8" from front legs to rear legs), this critter has very much the same pattern on her abdomen in white and yellow, outlined in black, and has bright green legs. I doubt the moths are fooled.

(It appears the spider's actual prey are flies -- there's a snack all wrapped up for later just outside the frame. You get 'em, spider!)

Monday, May 28, 2012


One million, three hundred and and forty-three thousand, eight hundred and twelve. That's the number (source: Wikipedia) of American soldiers fallen, from the Revolutionary war to this day. Over half of them from the Civil War (and ponder that the next time someone is pipe-dreaming TEOTAWKI).

Perspective? The world-record-size facilities at the Indy 500, the world's largest single-day sporting event, hold approximately 657,000; so that's two Indy 500s filled to capacity with men (and some women) who stepped up and paid the steepest price.

They didn't do it just so you could have the day off. Whatever you may think of the wars in which they fought, remember the fallen on this day.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

It's A Good Thing I Don't Have $15K Just Laying Around

...Or I'd've already bought a Model A pickup. And had it shipped. (Or this one, a lot more work but...)

Would anyone like to swap a vintage truck for a (long-garaged) MGB?

Unconcept On The Clear

Yes, you'll travel the world with your Godlyke Power Adapter Set...the makers of which may be a bit hazy on the distinctions between temporal, spiritual and electrical power.

(I've never had one of these in my hands. They look like a compact way to cope with world mains-socket standards -- we're down to what, less than a dozen versions? My preference is for dedicated adapters or even, given the casualness with which some of the cheaper versions treat the distinction between "line" and "neutral," building up my own in the form of short cables. More and more things automatically adjust themselves to available mains voltage and don't care about the difference between 50 and 60 Hz, but you still want the switch and fuse in the hot side of the line!)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Gun Show Report

Another nice small show, at the equally nice county fairgrounds in Lebanon. A couple of tables of inexpensive knives were the only Tam-eyebrow-raising items: no stuffed plush toys or off-target frou-frou at all.

There were several interesting collector guns; I passed up an H&R .32 revolver (pretty) and a .32-Short Colt (blueing about half gone, possibly 'smithed on to shorten the barrel) but not an H&R 622, a six-shot "pull pin" .22LR plinker from 1958. (It appears Bill Goforth, the SME who'd written one book about Iver Johnson firearms, was working on a book covering H&R; with his passing in 2011, there's no telling if/when it will be published). Someone has probably (re?) plated this example but they didn't buff it excessively -- besides, it really is a plinker/kit gun.

I also picked up a couple of boxes of .32-20, 'cos -- fun! Reloads Brand-spankin'-new in a plain white box from a trusted source and a box of Ultramax cowboy cartridges. The latter from one of Tam's arcane-caliber friends, a nice young man who, as nearly as I can work out, has shot every cased round for which both gun and ammo can still be found or who will eventually do so. With a big smile. (That guy, at a gun show and, I'll bet, the range, is one of the happiest and most contented of men you could meet. And does he ever know ammo!)

Leaving the show, we encountered this: A Vespa 400! The owner (who, note stickers, has driven all of Route 66 in it) was kind enough to let Tam and me try it on for size. I don't know that this 16-hp beauty would be any tougher to drive than my ex's Suzuki Samuri, for which the drill was essentially to firewall the throttle and work your way up to the proper gear. The Vespa would win on mpg -- and probably looks. Cute! Here's the cockpit, with fewer gauges than many Vespa scooters. The GPS is a nice touch.

It appears that Mason's Used & Rare Books is gone; driving around the square had us thinking the town's been pretty hard-hit by the economy, though I think the mod to this sign was a low blow and highly undeserved. (It is also brazen, as it's well inside the "Hey, you" perimeter of the County Sheriff's facilities.)

Then there's this. Refurbished dairy? (Turns out maybe we should have gone 'round to the front of The Milk Building! But we'd've had to have called first. Live and learn). Also, it used to say "WILSON'S" above "MILK" but that part broke.)

We took Highway 32 over to Westfield, passing the interesting Victorian House Dining, in a nice 1800s cottage with a Model A parked outside! That's a place I'd like to check out.

Speaking of Fords, there's a very late Model T up at the Roush budget lot where Dog & Suds used to be. ($9500, says the nice man.) Alas, a T: with controls unlike anything you've ever driven, unless you've driven a Model T. But it sure is purty! Could use a little air, I think. (I just checked and Country Classics has sold the trucks of my dreams, Ford Model As with electric start and other mod. cons. Do want!)

On the "want" front, where does one go for a nice frosty mug of the pure quill? Triple XXX in Lafayette, I guess, but that's something of a long drive for root beer alone. (OTOH, totally not a safe search term all by itself. Never mind that: I'm told it's the righteous brew and the name has a long, honorable history.
Update: Frank W. James reminds in comments that the venerable Dog'n'Suds brand is still/again around and has returned to the good old "World's Creamiest Root Beer" formula. Yum! A&W -- a dependable standard -- has morphed into a very modern chain of eateries and even the B-K stands are still goin' strong, if not quite as numerous as they once were. Root beer stands: not vanished. You just have to drive out past I-465 into Real America to find most of 'em. (Indy's own Mug'n Bun is an exception to that rule -- and they brew their own!)

Stopped at Main Street Shoppes in Westfield to look the place over -- they've got a few Edgar Rice Burroughs books and always have interesting stuff. (A nice 3-row Underwood portable -- the MacBook Air of the 1920s, there's one in the title at Retrotechnologist -- and an almost-new L. C. Smith upright caught my eye. My Mom learned to type on the latter, which has the return lever on the right side! She says it was convenient but made for a habit to unlearn: every other manual has the return on the left). We looked at guns, dishes, games and toys of everyone's youth and even an assortment of bits and drivers for a brace...which went home with me.

And then on to the other interesting feature of the Shoppes: Big Hoffa's Barbeque. 100% ninja-free, properly cooked over fire and darned good. Even sweet tea! (And trust me, antiquing with the faint aroma of barbeque floating by is a pleasant experience. Big upgrade from the usual "antique" scent!) Of course we had a bite to eat. Yum!

...Both of us hit by headaches on the way home, mine very bad. So I've been napping. Better now!

IMPD = IMPeDe (Or Is It "Indy taMPereD?")

Tales of evidence-fondling in the Bisard case continue.

So, we've got an officer who may have been intoxicated on duty (unofficial BAC mesaurement of 0.19), speeding, and who did injure several motorcyclists and killed one. The police manage to take the blood sample incorrectly...and then fail to keep it refrigerated.

Turns out that even as the lack of refrigeration story was blowing up, IMPD officers were removing the samples from their sealed envelopes and takin' snapshots. This is not according to Hoyle -- or Peel or even normal procedure.

There are a lot of good officers in IMPD; there must be, or we'd all be jailed or dead, especially the many people who are pointing out the present mess. But the bad cops aren't doing the rest any favors. Even though it sure looks like that's what they set out to do.

It's Saturday

And we're off to the Lebanon (Indiana) Gun Show! Another one put on by Central Indiana Gunshows.

We'll probably even stop for a Healthy Breakfast along the way.

Report to follow!

(They tell me there's some kind of parade in town today and an auto race tomorrow. Who knew?)

Friday, May 25, 2012

First-Rate Rhythmic Gibberish.

I mean 100% first-rate. Ooooyeah.

(Actually called Prisencolinensinainciusol. Ask for it by name! Intentionally about not a blame thing except the unlikelihood of making sense to anyone else. And yes, you can get it on iTunes. Best 99 cents I've spent today.)

H/T Claire Wolfe.

There A "Blog About Brett Kimberlin" Day?

And it's today? That's what Popehat claims.

Brett Kimberlin is perhaps better known as "The Speedway Bomber," a criminal who frightened and injured Speedway residents in the Fall of 1978 before being caught, tried, convicted and locked up. One of his victims was injured and traumatized and eventually suicided after multiple surgeries.

And now Kimberlin sues people who criticize him. Even if you report facts or clearly label your opinion.

Identity of the bomber was originally a huge mystery; anyone who was known to possess, oh, cannon fuse and/or explosives precursors was liable to find the FBI or police stopping by for a chat. This included one of my co-workers, at the time a college student (Engineering) who shared the hobby of harmless blowing-things-up (under controlled circumstances) with several of his school chums. This, as it turned out, was not a hobby law enforcement was all that comfy with -- or even especially willing to believe was a hobby at all. He spent a bit more than a day in an interrogation room, explaining. As did his friends. Just chalk it up to a little more collateral damage from a convicted perjurer, convicted bomber, darling of the modern American Left.

Why do they love bombers so, and hate people who lawfully carry firearms for self-defense?

On The Lighter Side

Novel and film about the couple living in Canada's far North who raise an orphaned polar bear cub: Born Freeze.

The hyper-regulated cash-sink device that causes Green/NIMBY protests and leaves crumbling, unfinished ruins? Nuclear Overreactor!

Why hasn't anyone rewritten the lyrics of "Sunshine" by folk-rocker Jonathan Edwards for the John Edwards affair/resulting child/possible misuse of campaign funds mess? I'm pretty sure he's in a "don't feel much like dancin'" mood.

While you're down there in Tin Pan Alley, have a go at the Guess Who's No Sugar Tonight: "There's a Gray Lady tryin'a take over/There's a New York Times come to call/It's the new York Times taking over/They're after us all/They're after us all.

"Lied-to feeling, deep inside/There's no corner where I can hide/Silent newsprint deceivin' me/Sudden darkness and I can't see.

"No paper tonight with my coffee/No paper with my tea/No paper that'll gaslight me/No paper for catbox pee.

"In the madness of their lies/Quiet deceptions they can try/grabbing for me with their lies/Scales are falling from my eyes.

"Folks say don't read it and I believe'm/When we talk about what they say/I haven't got the will or the strength to quit it/When it shows up every day."

(Etc. You're on you're own for the rest of the lyrics and the chord progression.)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Libertarian Ethics

The debate -- more of an argument, really -- has been waged elsewhere and at great, shouting-past-one-another length.

But it is a fundamental one, beginning, as it does, at the basis of all rights: property rights. What's the single most inalienable thing you own? That's easy: it's your own self. That's the most basic thing you've got.

One of the rights that grows from this root is your right to take an early exit. In most cases, it's not the best course and you're best off stopping and rethinking; but it is a right.

However, just as the right to own and carry weapons doesn't give you the right to point 'em any which way without consequences, your property rights over your own person don't mean you get to threaten to off yourself without eliciting unwanted responses from others.

You don't own other people; you don't get to control what they do. When you threaten to harm someone -- even yourself -- you're initiating force, attempting to extort something from the persons to whom you are expressing your threat.

Even in Libertopia, they're justified in trying to stop you, same as they would be if you were making a similar threat to someone other than yourself. (I believe the philosopher Mel Brooks addressed this early on in his monograph, Blazing Saddles). And since we don't live in Libertopia, sometimes the intervention is less justified and more forceful than one would wish.

Do you have the moral right to kill yourself? I think you do;* you even have the right to discuss it. But you don't have the right to colonize other people's minds; if they take your "discussion" as a threat, they'll react. And if you "discuss" the matter in the heat of the moment with an agent of the State -- a policeman, a firefighter, an EMT? Why, at best, you will almost automatically be finding yourself detained and under observation for a day or three while they try to figure out if you're rational or not.

Unfair? Possibly; but it's the world we live in -- a world of dangerous things that will provoke strong reactions if you meddle with them incautiously around others. You don't juggle bottles of rat poison in a crowd; you don't wave firearms around -- and you don't make suicide threats. That doesn't mean you can't use rat poison, defend yourself, or that your right to ownership and control of your person has been abridged. You're a grown-up and your peers grant you a staggering degree of trust; but it is not an unconditional or irrevocable grant.

You're surrounded by persons just as real -- and just as opinionated -- as yourself. Normal life involves interacting with them and accepting that they're not just clones of you. If you want to dictate how they should act and react, you might want to take a closer look at your own philosophical premises: you might not be a libertarian. You might not even be pro-freedom for anyone but yourself.

Update: An excellent discussion in Comments! Thank you. My own "bright line" is that any time threats of suicide are used to attempt to compel others, it's a hostage situation -- and 72 hours to cool off is a truly gentle response. Most of the "gray area" situations aren't that gray when examined closely: few if any serious suicides announce it ahead of time. (I'd like to point out that no ethical suicider would commit the act with unfulfilled obligations, either; you can't leave your messes for others to clean up and claim you're acting responsibly.)

SF writer H. Beam Piper, broke and with no prospects he was aware of, took his own life within days of his agent sending news that he had made a major sale. He never found out. Rational persons contemplating suicide should consider his story before taking irrevocable steps.
* Most religions think you do not. And -- hooray! -- in a free society, you're free to follow the dictates of your faith. You don't get to impose them on other adults.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

New! Improved! 4473

Or different, anyway. They still have to touch all the bases before it becomes the Official Version but bATFe is showing the next 4473 already. I believe it reflects some positive changes in Federal regs, but I'm betting it will also be A) longer and B) more complicated. 'Cos that's how it works.

(Cheat sheet: "Yes; Not Yet; Not Yet; Not Yet; Does Coffee Count?; Not Yet; Not Yet; Hell, No; No; Not Yet; Not As Such; No; No; Sobriety; U.S.A. so far, why, what have you heard?" Happy to help!)

"Would You Feel Safe On A Commercial Rocket?"

That -- or words to that effect -- was what the MSNBC presenter asked retired astronaut Mae C. Jemison.

I don't think Dr. Jemison could help it. She very briefly had one of those facial expressions ("you really are that ignorant, aren't you?"), quickly reined it in and replied with barely a sigh, "Commercial companies have built all our spacecraft." She added that the regulatory oversight was essentially the same in either case.

Lamestream media -- even lefty MSNBC -- has given SpaceX some positive publicity after yesterday's successful launch but they beat the drum a lot louder when the first attempt was scrubbed right before launch. has a page dedicated to commercial spaceflight with full coverage; the Dragon capsule still has to dock with ISS, after doing a remarkably complex series of maneuvers to check the position and control systems.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

3, 2, 1 -- Poise!

So, I've got a nice mug of mint tea in one hand -- made with fresh mint from the Roseholme Herb Garden -- and a bowl of some Hoppin' John-esque stuff in the other, onion and ham, field peas ("with snaps!" Snap) and corn with a bitta broth and garden marjoram, and suddenly (was it the pepper I put on the cherry tomatoes?*) a sneeze comes over me -- Choo! And another chasing it, ah-ah-AH-CHOO!

I don't have a whole lot of what dancers have -- kinesthetic sense, that feel for where one's limbs are and which way is up -- but I don't think I have ever been more aware of what my hands and arms were doing or maintained such total control while the rest of me was busy with that sneeze. Holy cow.

Didn't spill a drop. (Nor sneeze one out, either. Ew.)
* Most of the finger-food raw veggies I like just the way they are; but I grew up cutting cherry tomatoes almost in half and applying salt and pepper. They still taste best to me just that way.

In Re Snitches

Claire Wolfe (et al.) have had a run of posts about snitches, in part because of a more-or-less Free Stater pot activist-turned-informant-turned-semi-remorseful.

Lookit, three people can keep a secret -- if two of them are dead. Better you should make like Caesar's wife and doubly so if you are hoping to get an animal, mineral, vegetable or activity de-illegalized.

Does this suck? Yep. Life's not fair, get used to it.

Here's the deal: you can either sneak around, doing [$PROHIBITED] or you can agitate to un-prohibit while livin' in a squeaky-clean glass house. You can't do both; it doesn't work.

Assume you will be snitched upon. Strive to ensure the worst they can come up with is overdue library books or eye-rolling at Authority.

Boycott: Gander Mountain Zumbos Themselves.

Yes, they did, yanking the rug out from under an NRA-ILA event in Wisconsin and then scurrying about like a headless chicken when they got called on it.

I will not be shopping at Gander Mountain unless their policies change. Too bad -- I bought a lot of my clothes and all my shoes there, along with ammunition and various sundries. No more!

Stop takin' gunnies for granted.

Breakfast Of Roseholmsians

Shitake mushrooms, good brown rice, bacon, scrambled eggs, onion, radish, celery and a few cherry tomatoes, sliced. All of it cooked up together and served piping hot: dee-lish!

Monday, May 21, 2012

...The Sound Of Heads Exploding...

CNN: "Was Columbus a Jew?"

Based on the info as given in article, kinda looks that way. The more I learn, the less I know.

Luxury Airship?

Via a commenter, Tomorrow's Airship -- Today. (On paper.)

Stop wasting that helium in toy balloons: we could have the real thing!

Back To The Schlock Mines

Oh, yay. --But every other Friday it's Teh. Best. Evar. And we don't need Andy Rooney to wonder, "why," either.

Oddly, IRS has never blinked when I enter, "Lowering the tone of popular culture" for OCCUPATION.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Art At The Art Fair

Brigid, Tam and I went to the Broad Ripple Art Fair Sunday.

I snapped some overviews but they don't really capture the sprawling ambience; this takes up all of the Art Center grounds plus a softball-field park across the street to the south.

Up close, you can't take pictures of some of it, since the images are the artist's stock in trade -- like the astonishing astronomical photographs from John Chumak, a modern-day Tycho Brahe with a camera. His card really should read, "Have Telescopes, Will Track Stars." (I bought a gorgeous image of the gibbous Moon by Earthlight, an hours-long exposure.)

Other items are photo-friendly: Getcher fortune: Fresh! Tempting! Delicious! Or scary. I really hope he's not reading that from tea leaves. I look awful in "cyborg."Sapient pearwood: not just for Luggage and wizard's staffs! This one was a little nervous. Not so The Squid, poised and waiting. Brrrr. You know it's just biding its time.

We stopped by The Writers Center of Indiana booth, a group from whom I probably should take a class or two, and looked in on sand-scratch aluminum casting, too (now that would be a fun class!).

It was a fun and tiring day -- and then I came home and disassembled, scrubbed and (partially) lacquered a typewriter stand. I need more Valspar Hi-Gloss Black and probably should sand the rougher parts and get another coat or two of lacquer on it, after which it'll get gold pinstriping. I think. Also about two dozen stainless, slotted truss-head 10-32 or 10-24 bolts, flatwashers and Nylocks, since the old hardware was incomplete and nothing to write home about.

Seen Near Or At The Art Fair

It's two shams of a mockery of a...Giant Farrago! Yeah. Also: Giant Flower Attack. Honest. See? they're looming. Looming! (I think the woman just left of center in the first flower photo is our neighbor, The Democrat. She hasn't got fangs or anything.)

Tam's On A Star Trek Kick?

I dunno; she complained just now that "Benjamin Sisko" shows up before "Benjamin Spock" when she searches on the name at Wikipedia.

Wow. I watched it all those years and never learned Spock's first name.


Broad Ripple Art Fair

We'll be visiting it today if everything goes as planned. Should be fun!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Overheard In Roseholme's Computer Center

I have this...thing to go to tonight, the big combo May triple-birthday deal, one I could care less about and my brother's and my Mom's, at some nose-in-the-air place up Keystone-at-the-Crossing (palms with money) way.

As you may have noticed, I rarely dress like a grown-up. So I'm pondering what to wear:

RX: "I'm thinkin' a long skirt* and combat boots."

Tam: "I would!"


RX: "Is there anything, including swimming, for which you would not wear Army boots?"

Tam: "Nope."

Update: I gave up and wore jeans -- new ones, all dark, dark blue. The staff was a bit down-at-the-nose at it. Too bad, kids, one of us is counting on tips to make the rent. Guess who that is?
* Sadly, I have not been able to find any more long, jeans-denim, 5-pocket skirts, which are my usual answer to the dressing-like-an adult dilemma. That way, I can still carry my normal pocket and belt items. Don't usually do the work/.mil boots with 'em, though.

SpaceX: Later

SpaceX stopped this morning's "demonstration" launch at T -0.5 seconds. Pressure was too high in one of the engines and they're not gamblers; they shut it down and they'll try again on the 22nd or 23rd.

Despite headlines (CNN has blurbed it as a "fizzle") this is pretty impressive; I don't think a Shuttle launch could be safely aborted with a half-second to go, not with solid-fuel boosters already lit. SpaceX, on the other hand, is going over the hardware and telemetry and will have another go once they find and fix the issue, possibly as early as 22 or 23 May. They're in the freight business, not the stunt business.

This is a real launch with a real cargo, destination ISS -- but it's all nonessentials. It will be the first run-through of the docking procedure.

Dayton Report

...With pictures, over at Retrotechnologist.

Wolf At The Door?

No, cat. Miniature tiger? One standard doorway; one size XL cat.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Seen At Dayton: Gernsback Gone Wild

Hugo Gernsback, who all but invented "pulp" SF and promoted hobby radio his entire career. (And a notoriously slow payout to writers, I'm told. Well, you can't have everything).

His magazines were full of ideas from the start: ...I did not say good ideas. Eventually you run out of extension cord, have to stop Westinghousing and fix bayonets! Also: machine guns. Possibly a problem.

(A few magazines down the pile: Great White Fleet battleships, fitted with new transmissions and great big metal wheels, crawling up onto the beach. Slow? maybe, but they'd eat tanks for lunch. At least until they bogged down or sheared a gear or axle.)

By The Time You Read This

...I will be, Fates willing, headed towards the Dayton Hamvention, the largest amateur radio swapmeet in the U.S., last I heard.

It's not an easy drive in my old car, so -- wish me luck. My first solo trip there in quite some time.

Update: back. Report to follow.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

You Look...Magedelanian

Or you do if you look as if some of your ancestors were European. The Magdelanians were a widespread Paleolithic culture that left various artifacts, including art (pretty good art!), weapons, tools and a few what-is-its scattered across the continent, chasing the glaciers back North -- and who do not appear to have made Mankind's Worst Mistake* in their 8,000-year run.

What else they might have done, we don't know. They didn't work metal, so if it's not stone, bone or paint inside a cave, it didn't leave much trace.
* You might recognize this idea from L. Neil Smith's Pallas. It's not coincidence.

The Marketplace Of....Police?

Or, Why We Have Sheriffs: Seems the little town of Farmland has found itself having to charge most -- or all -- of their tiny police force in a possible theft.

No problem; the county sheriff's department will be responding to police calls instead.

Compare and contrast: In unified Indianapolis/Marion County, when we have a problem with our unified police agency...they just start moving things around, like deck chairs on the Titanic. Except nobody even bothers to play a few bars of Nearer My God To Thee. And it probably won't sink; they just keep patching it up and ramming into -- so to speak -- icebergs.

When we had IPD and MCSD, they'd even nick one another for speeding. Guess that got fixed.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Zapgun? Mutant Food?

All part of day before yesterday. Honest!

I bought this with nary a 4473:Should help if we're invaded by Mars, right? (Plenty more where that came from and not all that costly as Art goes: Do Your Part!)

Tam has alluded to A Proper Indiana Breaded Tenderloin; here is an example, slightly eaten already:You'll put your eye out, kid!

Wednesday evening featured the first 2012-edition charcoal-grilled steaks a la Roseholme. No pictures but they just melt in your mouth -- good filet mignon, hardwood charcoal and Irish butter!

Google ω NSA*

Awww. You got your surveillance in my obsessively-tracked Web history! Probably.

Get big enough, get co-opted. Period. Corporations as they presently exist are creatures of the State; their own size or success is a ticking bomb.

The only mild positive to this is that NSA is (usually) pervy-obsessed with knowing and loathe to share. They hide their trove away unless they uncover superbadness. Thus far. Thus far.
* That's a lower-case omega. Rather than futz around making "left caret + 3" show up as "heart," I have adopted the symbol to mean "butt buddy." Do with it what you will. Ahem.

Kindle Movies

I blame Amazon -- I'm 2/3 of the way through Stieg Larsson's Milennium trilogy as of 0700 this morning. I started watching The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo on the big screen but finished flat on my back in bed, with the Kindle suspended at eyeglasses-less viewing distance.

If you've got Amazon Prime, the Swedish films are free. I watch 'em with subtitles; IMO, dubbing tends lose the nuances of dialog -- also, there are some nuts and bolts of language for which the sounds -- but not the spelling -- are nearly identical in English and Swedish*

The first film has a delightfully complex plot. It is mercilessly intense; I found it a little hard to take but Lisbeth Salander's efforts to balance the scales do make up for that. The second's got a bit of Kill Bill but adequately keeps the yarn going. (When I remarked to my Mom that I'd seen the first film but doubted I could read the book because some scenes might be too much to take, she'd already read it. She has always had a taste for well-crafted spy/mystery novels.)

Noomi Rapace does a remarkable job with the character of Lisbeth. --Not that I would have any reason to like a character with strong tech-y and poor social skills based in part on "what a grown-up Pippi Longstocking might be like."

It is interesting to note that Larsson, in real life quite like series hero Mikael Bloomkvist, a muckraking Socialist journalist, sympathetically portrays a thoroughly rational-anarchist, possibly libertarian protagonist in Lisbeth Salander, who fights for personal justice with little regard for other people's rules.

I don't know about the Hollywood movie; the originals are a cut above the usual cinematic offering.

Update: finished the third one as an after-dinner treat. Day-um! Hollywood's gonna hafta punch way above their weight to beat that.
* I have encountered this before -- the U.S. importer of Powerbox AB's line of electronic enclosures didn't translate the assembly instructions, telling purchasers to look at the drawing and "read the instructions out loud. It'll make sense." Which it did, at least enough to fill in what the pictures omitted.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Meanwhile, Where Great Britain Used to Be

Remember? The place where Belloc wrote, in a wry mixture of pride and horror, "Whatever happens, we have got/The Maxim Gun, and they have not," knowing that Civilisation was a thing worth protecting?

Yeah. They're not so much that way any more. In 21st-Century London, "protection" = "oppression." Plus, ew, cooties -- "do it to Julia," and elsewhere.

Update: Some understandable debate in Comments. From my reading, those complaining are renters -- sorry, if you wanted more control over who else got space in your building, you should have owned it. As well, what's UK law on this kind of thing? If the Crown is acting in a manner consistent with the laws of the land, well -- those laws might be wrong, but there they are. If you object, you might be better writing a letter to your M.P. than on a website, better filing suit than waving signs.

There's even discussion of OMG, what if they rilly shoot a hijacked plane down and it falls on London? In answer to that, two items: 1. Like making it fall will create more damage than allowing it to reach its intended target? 2. Ever hear the words "deterrent effect?" I believe the present tendency of airline passengers (especially in the U.S.) to dogpile persons who act up on airplane flights has done more to prevent hijacking than all the efforts of TSA -- not because actual hijackers are being stopped in the act but because even a fanatic can see the odds are poor. If you want "poor odds" demonstrated, try "airliner vs. modern AA." An Airbus ain't a V-2. Anybody remember the Israeli policy in re hostages?


(I wrote this as a comment over at Mike Flynn's, then decided to share my Great Wisdom -- cough, cough, cough -- with y'all.)

The older I get, the less I believe the great mass of mankind can be reasoned, schooled, propagandized or even tricked into self-government; and while most of them are god-fearing in church, law-abiding when the policeman is around and hard-working when the boss is watching, on their own they are solipsists of the first water. The extent we enjoy civil peace is precisely the extent to which our neighbors are convinced it's too much effort to bother us.

--I still think we are severally and each better off with less "government" (in the sense of control by external Authority) rather than more; but neither more nor less or even steady-on is as much of a boon as is often supposed by the various boosters of each.

(Y'get what y'get and if you don't want to live around bastards, either change your expectations or go live where there are fewer of them, if you can find such a place. Changing the political system or the Leaders won't help and you -- plus or minus some army -- aren't gonna kick 'em outta bastardy by persuasion, sweet reason or main force.)

Breakfast Omelet

It worked out better than I had imagined. A dusting of corn-chip crumbs and a shot of cold seltzer in the eggs (which are then beaten senseless), cooked chorizo, Gruyere cheese and red bell pepper for filling, a sprinkle of chopped chives just before serving: way better than I had hoped!

My best notion with omelets to date? Putting a cover over the pan after folding! They cook a lot more evenly and don't dry out.

The Virtue Of Necessity?

Or is it the other way around?

More practically, is it really virtuous to clean the gutters when you have put it off so long they're full of mulch and maple sprouts? Srsly, full. I filled a standard garbage can with the stuff.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Soda Fountain Daze

I have, with the purchase of a soda siphon (who wouldn't want a siphon?), Fox's U-Bet chocolate syrup and sundry other supplies, successfully assembled three and consumed two Brooklyn Egg Creams* over the last two days. (I fed the other one to Tam, who liked it).

Never been to Brooklyn. I was missing a Hoosier treat, Choc-Ola, which was bought up and shut down (locally) in 1985. They made the stuff for another 15 years, but stopped selling it in Indiana. An Egg Cream is an approximation -- in some ways, richer -- but good as they are, it's not the same. (Yoo-hoo's okay in its own right but it ain't even close to the real stuff.)

Lucky for me, Choc-Ola is back! Or at least it was back as of last Spring; they've even got a website. I'm gonna investigate further tomorrow. Maye even drive down for lunch at the cafe where it was rebooted. Watch this space.
* Which contain neither eggs nor cream. Well, whole milk, but that hardly counts. So why the name? Theories abound but nobody knows for sure.

"Occupy" Your Mind

'Way back in the wayback -- the first Red Scare, it was -- idealistic anarchist Emma Goldman got herself deported to the nascent Soviet Union. She spent two years there and departed deeply disillusioned.

You can say what you like about Goldman -- she did tend to throw herself at a cause heart and soul, then get a closer look and step back, aghast -- but she knew manure when she fell into a wagon load and she didn't mince words:
Though an Anarchist and an anti-governmentalist, I had not come to Russia expecting to find my ideal realized. I saw in the Bolsheviki the symbol of the Revolution and I was eager to work with them in spite of our differences. However, if lack of aloofness from the actualities of life means that one cannot judge things fairly, then my critic is right. One could not have lived through two years of Communist terror, of a régime involving the enslavement of the whole people, the annihilation of the most fundamental values, human and revolutionary, of corruption and mismanagement and yet have remained aloof or "impartial" in the critic's sense.

Would that today's Occupiers could read and understand Goldman; would that even a leaven of them, eager to destroy the establised order, might read,
...[M]y curiosity was aroused by the revolutionary mystery which seemed to hang over everyone, and of which no one dared to speak. When four years later I left with my sister for America I was no longer the German Gretchen to whom Russia spelt evil. My whole soul had been transformed and the seed planted for what was to be my life's work. Especially did St. Petersburg remain in my memory a vivid picture, full of life and mystery.

I found Petrograd of 1920 quite a different place. It was almost in ruins, as if a hurricane had swept over it. The houses looked like broken old tombs upon neglected and forgotten cemeteries. The streets were dirty and deserted; all life had gone from them. The population of Petrograd before the war [WW I --RX] was almost two million; in 1920 it had dwindled to five hundred thousand. The people walked about like living corpses; the shortage of food and fuel was slowly sapping the city; grim death was clutching at its heart.
Be careful what you wish for -- it might come with a hidden surprise center.

Range Report

I took all three 6" .22 revolvers to the range -- Eagle Creek, where The Guy himself, principal of Tactical Firearms Training, was rangemastering. This makes for a nice day, as he's a born teacher and there's quite a lot to be learned just by paying attention.

J.C. Higgins: The sights are off. Way off. Somebody had a flinch! With a heavy .22 revolver? Tsk. The action's just as smooth as silk, though, and it goes bang! every time. I can tap the rear sight back in line by eye and it should do fine.

Iver Johnson: Cleaning and lubing took care of the slightly "scratchy" trigger but I'm still getting light strikes. About 80% success first-time with the cheap rounds and 90% with CCI Mini-Mags. The more I shoot this gun, the more I appreciate the sights -- "old school," but quite large enough for easy shooting. I realize this was an inexpensive firearm but I think it'd be worth running it past the gunsmith to fix the light strikes. Based on my experience, I have no hesitation in recommending this model to anyone who'd like a .22 for range or tackle box.

The Sentinel: I need to clean it as I had the other two (chambers are getting a little tight) but it's a fun tackdriver: line up sights, squeeze trigger, boom! hole in target. I own -- and shoot -- guns with poor grace, that want to leap in odd ways or are a bit awkward in the hand. This is the exact opposite: it hasn't any bad habits at all. It shoots exactly as well -- or as poorly -- as you do. It's the revolver equivalent of a Ruger Mk. II (etc.), another fun-to-shoot .22.

Colt and S&W both made a number of very nice .22 revolvers; it'd be hard to go wrong with either one. However, they command Colt/S&W prices, too. They're not the only options; I'm very happy with my alternative choices.

I took my .32-20 Colt Police Positive Special as well and ran 18 rounds through it. It's always a treat; the recoil is hardly more than a .22. I need to pick up more ammunition for it, which is mildly painful unless you think of it as ticket to fun.

A Thing I Have Learned

If you go back to sleep because you woke up with a headache (and you can, 'cos you're on vacation), it's only worse when you wake again two hours later.

Ibuprofen, take me away!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

"It Followed Me Home...."

You start out thinking it would be nice to have a little double-action .22 revolver, to shoot up all the crummy .22 that won't cycle your semi-auto while also practicing grip and control.

Next thing you know, this happens:See, when they show up, the price is low, 'cos, well, ".22 revolver" is very much a back-yard family activity and there aren't nearly as many back yards where that's possible any more (more's the pity).

The J.C. Higgins is interesting, in some ways nicer than the High-Standard original. It doesn't have the clever palm-swell grip; OTOH, the cylinder release is a little more finger-friendly and the grip is a lot more like a generic Colt/Smith & Wesson. A matter of taste, I suppose. And dig that shiny nickle plating!


I note that they're offering some very nice, Altoids-tin-meets-Steampunk versions of the "art camera." Tempting!


Also on the ijit-box: NBC, interviewing the newsd00d who broke the breathtaking news that the Veep considers gay people marrying a yawner: "...the Vice-President came out in favor of gay marriage on your program...."

Shallowest. Closet. Evar.

And, GOP? Y'don't have to hop up, tail waggin' like Rover, and chase that stick every time the Dems throw it.

Pretty sure most folks -- other than politicians -- have already decided where they stand on this and feel they have good and sufficient reasons for their opinion. It's just "wiser heads" in the various Capitols who have to "triangulate" an' go review the latest poll results who are undecided or flipfloppy.

And, In Other News

...The TV cheerily announced this morning that oral cancers caused by human papillomavirus are expected to outnumber cervical cancers -- especially among young people.

Sometimes I think the Victorians had the right idea, (in practice), leaving vice to adults and doing their best to keep things on the q.t. even then. You can tell kids all day about STDs and how to prevent their spread, and by the time the school-bell rings, the more daring will have worked out a half-dozen ways around "those silly rules," all of them high-risk.

The only thing I know that is strongly correlated with reduced STD rates in young people is involved parents. They know their teachers are fools -- but most of 'em are still convinced Mom and Dad aren't, no matter how much they try to pretend otherwise.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Gun Show Report

The Lawrence Gun Show is a good one! Put on by Central Indiana Gun Shows, who run a very full schedule of shows throughout Indiana and into Kentucky, in most of the major county seats.

The show was in the National Guard Armory at Ft. Benjamin Harrison, filling both the lobby and the gymnasium. About as large as the Tri-State show earlier in the month.

The exhibitors were good, a very nice assortment of handguns and long guns from brand-new to collectibles, a few knife vendors (one with a really wide selection of name brands). Every gun show has some non-gun vendors but this show was remarkable in that there were two, and one of the was a fellow with a good selection of books (guns, military, self-sufficiency/Foxfire) and plastic models. Of course I bought one, Glencoe's take on the von Braun/Disney "Retriever Rocket," a highly-modified Ferry Rocket fourth stage.

A fellow had gen-u-ine Russian-made Nagant revolver ammunition, $6 for 14 rounds. This is a deal -- I bought two boxes.

...And wouldn't you know, a J. C. Higgens .22 revolver showed up. This is my old friend the High-Standard Sentinel, only built for Sears with some differences in trim and detail. The example I found was nickel-plated, in good shape and priced to sell -- which it did. To me. Photos and a range report will follow.

Tamara found a few things, too; but that's her story to tell.

I have to say, if this show is typical of the promoter (and it appears to be), they do a fine job. Highly recommended!

Gun Show!

What, again? Yep! Today and tomorrow. The doors open at 9:00 a.m.

This show is at the Fort Benjamin Harrison National Guard Armory, over by Ft. Ben State Park in Lawrence. I don't know who is promoting it.

(Don't get me started about the nice pistol range the State de-leaded and decommssioned in the process of turning the Army base into a park. --But it is a beautiful park; the Army had taken good care of the place, one of the few mostly-unfenced bases -- you could drive right through it, 24/7/351. It was park-like long before it became one.)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Teletype Bleg!

Someone offered me an old-style Teletype machine semi-recently. I had to turn it down (I'm out of room, plus it violates my "I have to be able to lift it" rule).

But it happens I have a ham-operator friend who wants one, very much. He plans to use it on the air! So if you're out there, kind soul...?

Rule Six Violation In Bloomington

Rule Six??? Sure. But he worked his way up:

1. All guns are always loaded. Yep. He demonstrated that by direct action.
2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you aren't willing to destroy. Probably; even though he appeared to be willing to "destroy" a college-town policeman. Twice.
3. Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot. News reports suggest poor trigger-finger discipline.
4. Be sure of your target and what's behind it. Definite fail on the second part.
"5. Never try to catch a dropped gun." Whattaya know, there's no evidence he broke this unofficial addition!
But as for Rule Six, total fail:
"6. Put something on, for pity's sake!" The headline, Bloomington cops shoot naked gunman near IU campus, tells just about the whole story.

No one hurt but the shooter, which strikes me as an okay outcome.

This Modern Age

Of course they have wi-fi.

Later: at the endoscopy place, that is; and Tam tells me it was blazin' fast. I'd only got the one sentence writ when the "your table is ready" buzzer went off and a nurse came for me.

Upside: free, unlimited pre-heated blankets. (This is one of the very best things about modern medicine, IMO) Friendly, helpful staff. Downside: It was middlin' hard to get the vein they'd picked for the IV, what with the mild dehydration occasioned by the prep process -- and I even drank extra water last night!

The doctor was a nice guy, too. He seemed pretty unassuming, with none of the "Great Artiste" airs some specialists take up. (Downside, the patient "takes up" considerable air in the process, which exits, rudely, the same way it went in.)

And the verdict? All those years of eating oatmeal paid off. No barnacles or toredos* and apparently no knots, either. Hooray!

Tam stopped at Good Morning Mama's on the way home and picked up take-out brekky for us -- a Western Omelet with fried tatties for me, and toast I slathered with orange marmalade at home. Washed down with the two cups of coffee I didn't have when I woke up, yum! Fell asleep shortly after, despite the coffee. I am still a bit reely-reely spaced out, wobbly on my feet, visuals about like the actor's POV in an old Hollywood movie right before she passes out.
* Which reminds me -- fans of Keith Laumer's delightful "Retief of the CDC" yarns might be interested to know that "gribble-grubs" which the Groachi (the usual heavies, they are) like to snack on are apparently a Terran export. It figures!


I prolly won't post in realtime this morning, as I have an early appointment with a sort of a plumber.

However, I did go look up the Indiana GOP Presidential primary results, to discover Mr. Romney collected all the marbles. Mr. Paul was a distant second. Sigh. So much for sending a message.

Update: Semi-relatedly, I'm not supposed to drink (or eat) anything this morning. So of course I have a massive headache. Good thing I'm not driving.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Ad Astra On The Installment Plan

So, if asteroid mining heats up, if the various private space companies get off the ground and into orbit -- there are fortunes to be made up there! Asteroids made of finest ore, huge slabs of sweet water-ice and whole planets made of burnables, with a dabba scarce helium to sweeten the pot!

But it'll cost like the dickens to get there. What to do, what to do...? You bootstrap it! You start up the Perpetual Emigration Fund with seed money from the firstcomers (who get out by hard work, inheritance and/or clever swindles, in the manner of all Early Adopters); the PEF pays the way out for qualified applicants, who then make their own fortune and pay it back with interest; this funds the next and so on.

It's a clever scheme and it has worked before. But there you do want avoid attracting Federal ire: see, the group that worked it best were LDS...and when Uncle Sam decided that polygamy was verboten,[1] Congress disincorporated the church and grabbed the money via the Edmunds-Tucker Act.

And here you thought Congressional overreach was a new thing? So, go to the stars, but sneak out -- and keep an eye open for creeping Congresses. There's things they hate worse than over-marrying,[2] things like free enterprise and individual initiative. I 'spect they're gonna be mighty uncomfortable, by and by.
1. Based on a supercharged version of the usual "Those people are outbreeding us!" fears, AFAIK. OMG, and they work hard, too, and tend to be clean and decent. Can't have that.

2. Geesh, seriously, what is it with TPTB? If 2 people wanna get married and they ain't heterosexual, that's bad; but if 2 + n people wanna get married, even if all the bedroom interaction is heterosexual, that's bad, too. It's not sufficient just to be straight, noooo, you have to be exactly straight enough and no more. This is precisely why we otta get the .gov out of the wedlock biz other than as plain contracts between consenting adults -- and let the churches each make their own arrangements as regards holy matrimony.

Vinegar Pie!

I had it as a child -- possibly. Very tasty, too. A version of the venerable sugar cream pie, one of the Symbols of Indiana. (Not kiddin'!) I was very young at the time and perhaps I had misremembered? No-one else appeared to have heard of it.

So was it a dream? The name seemed unlikely...until today! Wiki-wandering, "Chess pie" turned up and there it was: an offhand mention of the closely-related, "Vinegar pie" which "generally adds somewhere between a teaspoonful and tablespoonful of vinegar to the above ingredients to reduce the sweetness." Hah! It does exist!

Liquid Diet

That's what I'm on all day, prep for a medical test. Yeah, yeah, I'm told most folks over 50 know the drill.

I'm just happy that I like popsicles, Jell-O, beef broth, coffee, tea and $LEMON-LIME SODA POP. Alas, no creamer in the coffee, not even the least cream-like of powdered whitener; those purists (cough*Tamara*cough) who accuse me of "adulterating" my coffee will no doubt find new ammunition in the small amount of water ("Pure spring water, Mandrake") I add instead.

Update: Oh, Web, what joys doth it bring: looking into the history of Jell-O (with Postum, part of the original General Foods junta), I encountered the parallel (and quite independently-developed) Australian product, Aeroplane Jelly (!). They offer what should be the preferred dessert treat of the "Occupy" movement: Wobble! Shirkers of the world, dig in! --Wotthehell, everyone else, too; it looks mighty fine. (Which reminds me: there used to be chocolate Jell-O. Wish there still was. I'm gonna have to buy some of the unflavored and experiment. Add choc syrup, y'think? Or mix up cocoa powder and sugar with the cold water?)

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Wait, What, What?

How come every time the Feds "foil a terror plot," it later comes out they helped set it up in the first place?

What would you call a guy who keeps almost stealing your car, raping your dog and/or impugning the virtue of your sofa and widescreen TV, only to leap up at the last minute and nab his hapless accomplices with a flourish and fanfare, announcing he has Saved You Yet Again?

What if the hero helps tie Pauline to the railroad tracks? Even if he proceeds to save her, isn't he some kind of a fraud? --And a perv if he keeps doing it again and again?

The Night They Sent Dick Lugar Down

....He still didn't get it. Oh, he made a gracious-enough concession speech, but he's also said the victorious Richard Mourdock has embraced a partisan attitude that makes it difficult to get things done.

That was the point, Senator. See, the more Congress "gets things done," the smaller my paycheck, either directly through taxes or indirectly by inflation. And just what are those "things," anyway? Mostly taking money from person or entity A (who earned it) and giving it to person or entity B (who did not), usually for the benefit of the bozos in Congress and the rebozos they run with. Other than declaring and (more or less) funding wars -- an endeavor of which I am deeply skeptical -- just what is Congress good for any more? To pass new laws? The Code of Federal Regulation alone, in a tiny font, occupies over four fathoms of shelf space already! Nope, they need to stop playing Lawgiver and start repealin'. Dick Lugar wasn't willing to even consider that.

Meanwhile, Bloomie's minions are decorating their bloomers over the notion that Lugar's defeat has weakened the GOP in the Senate. Why, they huff, Mourdock even criticized Lugar for voting for the bank bailout! --Yeah, bankers are so popular with the electorate right now.

Remember, this is an NRA F-rated Senator being sent home, leaving the contest between two men with A ratings. Joe Donnelly might be a fairly typical Rust Belt Dem in other ways, but he's considerably better on the right to keep and bear arms than Mr. Lugar ever was; so even if Mourdock does lose in November (the pundits think not, though it could be close), it'll be a step up on some fronts. Heh-heh, Mr. Bloomberg. Heh-heh.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Gone Votin'

This year, they're reporting a very light turnout, no more than 20 to 25%. Wahoo! I'm voting for four or five!

"...The Rise Of The Oceans Began To Slow..."

Did the sea-level increase slow for you, too Mitt? --Oh, no, wait, it's just that you can (sort of) spin that the Obama administration "took your advice," if you cast the bail-out as a "managed bankruptcy" and therefore, you should get some of the credit.

Those who posit no difference between the GOP and Dems can now point to one: the grandiose claims of Republican pols are less grandiose than those of their brothers-in-oppression across the aisle.

And, Mr. Romney? Not everyone thinks propping up those dinosaurs was such a great idea.

Boy, wouldn't it be great if once -- just once! -- somebody made it through the primaries about whom you could say something more positive than "Well, he's better than a severe beating."

Monday, May 07, 2012


Looks like Og's been punchin' hard at the "Get thee out there and vote!" button and, as ever, non-voters are punching back.

Most of the half-wits you know are gonna vote and you, personally, can cancel one of them out. It ain't much, but it's something. Especially in local races.

I am of the opinion that primary votes are a fairly decent way to communicate to the Big Tent parties. The main thing (besides a chance to vote at local blogger Paul Ogden, who arrived on the ballot with the salient advantage that I already know how he thinks 'cos he demonstrates it right here on the Web) that has me voting in the primary is a chance to go color in the oval for Ron Paul. Yeah, yeah, Mittens has it allll sewn up (maybe) but I can still tell 'em I'd like to see more Wookies and fewer hairsprayed "statesmen." Will they listen? --Have you ever heard the lyrics of Alice's Restaurant? It only takes three!

Og, he talks about a chance to "fix it." Others suggest there might not be any fix. ("In the long run, we're all dead," John Maynard "Mary Sunshine" Keynes). Fix, no fix-- Doesn't matter. If you were drowning, would you struggle, or would you just close your eyes and sink quietly? You fight, dammit, or you might as well be a rutabaga.

Go vote. The yammerheads will. You want them to decide for you?


I thought it was good. You might consider it a side dish: mushrooms sauteed in a smidgen of butter, "Southwest" frozen veggies (black beans, onion, red and green peppers) plus steamed-fresh broccoli, cauliflower and carrots, with a hardboiled egg chopped over it and served over steamed rice. Dee-lish! And just about hands-free -- rice and veggies all got quick-nuked, the egg practically boils itself, so all I had was washing and slicing the fungi and popping it in a covered pan with the butter. Everything else joined 'em as it came out of the microwave.

Doesn't need seasoning, instant rice being quite salty enough and the good Irish butter, a dab'll do ya.


You can search local media websites in vain for primary election basics (like "who will be on my ballot?") but they're way too happy to tell you Goober Pyle is gone.

Indiana's primary is tomorrow. I'm on the state's website now -- it's a step up: they haven't given me the latest scoops from Hollywood! Downside, they do not appear to know who'll be on the ballots tomorrow, either. Aha, here it is -- with no link I can find from the site I started on; I had to do a new search.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Irony? Realism?

Seen on the same Washington Post web-page: A George Will Op-Ed on Congressthing Jim McGovern's (D-MA, soooo-prize) insane "People's Rights Amendment," which would deny any formal association of people the right of free speech -- yep, from the commies to the NRA, from WWF to WWE, Unk Sam could make 'em STFU -- and an online poll asking, "Is democracy still adequately addressing America's problems?"

"Democracy" as it is currently conceptualized certainly appears to be ensuring we don't run out of problems -- and allowing government of any sort too much freedom of action is the primary problem, not democracy, or whatever you'd replace it by. If there was some way to keep it bottled up and harnessed down, a frikkin' autocracy of vanishingly few, well-defined and strictly-limited powers might do just fine; but there ain't. We've got us a republic (with strong elements of a democracy) because the bunch of geeks who thunk it up could not dream up a better way to put reins on those who would try'n reign over us.

That doesn't mean puttin' every damn' thing up for a vote is such a red-hot idea. An overlapping set of geeks thought so, too, and came up with the Bill of Rights, which was supposed to keep a whole heap of listed and implied rights out from under the thumb of nose-counting -- and safely away from the greasy, grabby fingers of Senators and Representatives.

Clearly, one Jim McGovern (D-MA) did a lot of sleeping in Civics class. Or had they swept all that rubbish out by the time he was sent off to school? "Cradle"-- and grave -- "of democracy," indeed.

Not The Weekend That I Planned

But I'm not complaining. Sometimes that's how things go.

I was hoping to get up to the Indiana Historical Radio Society's big meet in Kokomo Saturday morning. I'd done a lot of running around (literally) in the last half of the week, trying to get some fixed satellite dishes -- the big ones -- either back in service (after a decade not!) or moved to a new bird (mostly by brute force, which is a pity, since they're all side-by-side-by-side in the Clarke Belt now and if you hiccup, you missed it). So when oh-dark-thirty hit Saturday ayem, I was fighting to wake up. I thought ahead and decided better rested than on the road muzzy, no matter how delightful the destination.

Got up late, puttered around all day and was just heading out for Sam's Gyros (ooo, I likes 'em!) when the phone rang: Mom X. Not feeling too well.

This, for me, outranks...everything. Got her into the Heart Hospital and they checked her over; my sibs showed up and eventually the tests came back...inconclusive. Didn't look too awful and she's pretty close to the place so after much discussion, they sent her home with, "Call us if you don't start feeling better." We got out quite late.

Me, I had to go into work about midnight-thirty: there's a light out at the Skunk Works North Campus. A light 1000' up in the air, on the far side of a hot antenna. So it's got to be shut down and the riggers climb in the "dark" (brilliant moonlight, one of the brightest possible full moons!) to swap it out. That went well, or well-ish (30 mph winds aloft!) and by 3:30 am Sunday, I was home and making for bed.

Now here's they thing. I've been a Skunk Worker for 25 years, all told, and they have a club for the long-term types -- a club that meets once a year, about a three-hour drive away, with a long afternoon dinner/meeting, with a special segment to welcome the years new members -- like me. To get there in time, I needed to get up at 7:30 am.

I managed that. I managed coffee (barely) and a shower (badly) and really, until I tried to brush my teeth with hair gel, I didn't think I was doing that badly; I'd only walked into a door frame twice.

But with Mom on a wait-see and me not tracking, I had to call and cancel attending that meeting. There was no way I was going to be out of state and too hazy to get back superfast and be anywhere near okay about it. I laid back down and was out like a light.

Woke up late this afternoon and weedwhacked the backyard, the second most virtuous thing I've done in the last seven days.

"No plan of action survives contact with sunrise."

Atlas Sequaled

Part II of Atlas Shrugged is headed for theaters this October! Website is in a very early beta state.

H'mmm. OWS. Shruggers. Bartleby, the Scrivener. One of these things is not like the others.

The Glamorous, Fast-Paced World

...of Television Journalism:Why yes, that is a backed-up combined sewer in the background.

(Image grabbed "live, local and late-breaking" in Downtown Broad Ripple.)

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Range Report

Checked out some new and/or newly-repaired shootin' arns at the range today:

The Iver Johnson 8-shooter doesn't like cheap .22s. Sometimes it has doubts about CCI Mini-Mags, too. But -- it shoots to point of aim and though the grip angle is unusual, it's not at all bad. DA trigger pull is both longer and less smooth than the High Standard Sentinel 9-shooter, which I took for comparision, but it's not bad, either. I didn't clean the Iver Johnson revolver before taking it to the range, which may make a difference.

Between the two, I have decided .22 revolvers are about as much fun as you can have with your socks on.

Coal Creek Armory's gunsmiths worked over my reblued Colt Police Positive revolver in .32-20. I sent them a barely-functioning firearm -- whoever reblued it had bent the crane! -- and I got back a smooth-running Colt, more than typical of the breed. .32-20 is fun, too: it makes a nice loud boom and even a bit extra smoke, but the recoil is minor.

Last but a standout as well, the Colt Government Model .380 semi-auto. I mostly shoot .380 in short-gripped pocket pistols. This one has a full-length grip and it certainly makes a difference. I only put 40-some rounds though it (I misplaced one box, found it as I was packing up to go home) but it ran like a champ. The sights are good enough for me -- I know some shooters find them a little small.

After "teething difficulties" with the Iver Johnson, I wasn't unhappy with my shooting. Double-action revolvers are, in my opinion, excellent platforms for practicing grip, stance and control. As you learn to hold steady through the pull, you're building muscle memory and confidence that carries though anything you might shoot.

(It seems I have a rep at Eagle Creek as "the woman who brings odd guns," and most of the ROs wandered by to see what I'd brought today. It does make for conversation.)

Bobbi And The Marketdroids

Got another one. This one purports to be a quality-based search engine/listing service for blogs and they sent me a burbly letter with made-up words of either praise or slur (couldn't tell from context) for my little petroglyph-boulder of screeds with plenty of bizzaroid robotic-looking touches tellin' me to sign up now and expect scads, scads, scads of traffic. When I replied with a short note, the first paragraph of which read "No," in its entirety, why, they wrote right back with even more BS and puffery.

Okay, jerk: Get. Lost. You just set your bar to near-infinite height. I'm a big fan of capitalism but by Rand and Barnum, effing content-light salesmanship infuriates me. I'm not buying you, I'm not gonna be signin' up 'cos you are so effing charming or clever, or because I like the color of the product or even that it is a fridge or truck or vacuum cleaner with a leather-upholstered humidor; if I wanted a humidor, I would read up about them on the Web and go buy one. Prolly online.

Just gimme the info and step the hell back. Fine, fine, wear a nice suit; I'd appreciate it if you were well-groomed and if the brochure photographs were nicely-composed and on glossy, heavy paper, but gimme a chance to get good notion of the actual product; let me decide if it does anything I want at a price I'm willing to pay.

Or, shucks, go ahead, work your supersalesmanship on me. Schmooze and emote and prattle all you like.

And lose the sale.
My little, small-time blog is a little, small-time blog. Years ago, there was a big dustup over big ideas in Comments here and I was chided for choosin' friendship over ideological purity. A guy who should know pointed out this blog would never amount to much.

Well, tough. I'll continue to make the same choice the same way. It's a huge world, filled with people who (IMHHO) mostly have the wrong slant on things, but I can get along with most of 'em and when I am forced to chose, I prefer to stick with folks I know or have general reasons to like over persons with whom I have little in common other than aspects of our political philosophy.

If, as some Deeeeeeeeep Thinkers avow, "everything we do is politics," put me down as a member of the tolerating-your-weirdness-if-you'll-tolerate-mine party. --Or tolerating it as long as you leave off hard-selling me what I don't know that I want and doubt I can use, anyway.
Update: an excerpt from an e-mail received from another marketdroid this morning:
I think a guest blog post that illuminates the the advancement of our understanding of childhood development would be interesting for your audience. If you're interested, I would love to write something for you and perhaps start a friendly dialogue. What do you think?
I think that would be just peachy -- if you will let me redecorate your bedroom, on your dime, in, oh, "Early Spanish Inquisition." And do up your front garden to match.

This is my blog. I don't do "guest posts." Go getcher own, they're free. Y'know what ain't free? The few eyeballs that look at this blog -- who arrive here not expecting some blather on childhood development from a stranger. "Childhood development?" Not my baliwick. They're little monsters, savages, barbarians. I avoid them. I'm grateful some small fraction of parents (like you!) can rear 'em up so they become civilized but really, until they're like 25, 30, 35, if it was up to me, I wouldn't even bother to name 'em and I don't much care to interact with them unless they are really good at being proper Victorian children: quiet, well-behaved and out of the way, a bit less bother than a cat.

Fates alone know what kinda pre-version these people might actually be huckstering, that they want on my blog to do it. Surely it can't be anything proper or decent.

Maybe He Is A Medium-Sized Dog

Or a very small tiger: Huck the cat has decided a great way to show affection is to lay down beside me in the manner of a dog: he relaxes snuggled up close, kind of rolling a bit as he stretches out. He remains the single most muscular cat I have ever met, too. Dozing next to me, he is as long as my torso. Dog, tiger, a miniature Charles Atlas in a fur suit? Nope -- its Huck the cat.

Meanwhile, Rannie Wu seems all the more delicate and elfin by contrast -- but not the cute kind for children's books. Nope, if the Sidhe have their own predatory and (relatively) big cat, it looks just like Rannie.

(Of some interest, the Little People do have an associated breed of cats, which I learned this morning is described as black with a white spot on the chest, just like my dear, gone Slinky and Tommy -- so perhaps The Slinker, built to a far smaller scale than most cats, was indeed a Fairy Princess Cat in more than nickname. And her father, a king!)

Friday, May 04, 2012

I Work On Starship: New Content!

Part 14 of Frothup: Dropping In is posted at last!


Must...Struggle on...

C'mon, AT&T, try to at least fake it. 1.34 Mbps is not "high speed DSL." You might as well just mail me screengrabs!

We ate the last packet this morning, after a final, forlorn ping came staggering in from Illinois. The RJ45s are rattling like castinets, loose in their sockets. The Cat6 was withered down to Cat4 last time I dared look. Will we escape from this vast wasteland before it hits Cat-nil, rotting cloth-covered UTP flapping broken and bleached under the merciless sun?

Save yourself! The providers have dumped us here to live or die, and it's every modem for itself!

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Recent Reading

The Hunger Games -- Again. Read it before seeing the film, read it after. I still think it's a good little book -- and the movie is one of the best cinematic adaptations of a book that I have yet seen. As good a job as Lord Of The Rings -- or a little better: they haven't left out The Scouring Of The Shire yet.

Young Rissa ("The first book in the 3-part saga of Rissa Kergulen") by Indianapolis-born F. M. Busby. In fact, it's the first book in a long series set against a common background with some similarity to my own "Hidden Frontier." An interesting work, a litte old-fashioned in some ways but the general themes are timeless. Well-written space opera, what I would praise as "first-rate pulp," in that it is strongly cast in the gothic mode of good -- or at least non-evil -- vs. evil and the good guys are supposed to win. (Had to go check my library: while Busby wrote starting before I was born, I didn't have any of his novels until recently. The shelf goes directly from "Burroughs" to "Busjaeger.")

Speaking of "Burroughs," (ERB, that is) and pulp for that matter, I just finished Richard A. Lupoff's Edgar Rice Burroughs: Master Of Adventure, an examination of the writing career of an early pulp writer who transcended the pulps. (Even to the point of becoming his own company, still a going concern 62 years after his death. and related websites make for an interesting exploration). It is a fascinating book; Lupoff admires his subject but is quite willing to call out the low points as well as the successes. --I also picked up Tarzan, which I have never read despite having devoured all the John Carter of Mars* books while in Junior High. --Don't tell me how it comes out! ERB's science fiction is sometimes viewed as unsophisticated but much of it rewards a second look. Those interested in tracing the sources of ideas will find precursors of Larry Niven's "Fleet of Worlds," the group of Puppeteer planets sharing a common orbit and of his torus of atmosphere around a star from The Integral Trees (etc.), both in ERB's 1941 Beyond The Farthest Star. (I'm still irked that I missed the recent Disney John Carter Of Mars movie -- and that it sank so far, so fast, and perhaps more on poor promotion, stiff competition, and hostile reviewers than on its own merits).

Last but not least, Marblehead, also by Richard A. Lupoff, in which a largely fond and unflinchingly honest portrayal of H. P. Lovecraft and assorted other real-world characters are thrown into the midst of a proto-Nazi conspiracy in the late 1920s! HPL could be a fairly strident xenophobe, especially in abstract and in the mass, so a portion of the suspense comes from wondering just which side he'll end up on. Great fun, especially if you are a little familiar with the characters or the real-life events Lupoff is riffing from.

As ever, if any of this piques your interest, please shop via Tam's Amazon link: you get a book, she gets a tiny commission at no cost to you and I get steady rent checks: win-win-win!
* They claim Barbie is daunting? Try livin' up to Dejah Thoris!