Thursday, October 31, 2013

"It's Not A Competition But I'm Winning"

     Ahh, art.  Paper, 25 cents.  Ink, a dime, more if he bought the good stuff, which is likely.  Coming up with the idea and the design-- See, that's why you have to pay artists. 

The Men Who Learned How To Sell To Engineers

     Yesterday was interesting--

     People in my trade are notoriously difficult to sell to; we poke around at the machinery, ask difficult questions and generally behave as if we could build a better version of the widget ourselves. (Indeed, some of us do; I could point to a half-dozen little companies started when some boffin looked at the available options in disgust and made his own answer to whatever the problem may have been.)

     Tradionally, sales weasels (so-called) solved this by either wining/dining and being best pals, or by bypassing the techies and pitching his widgets to management and creative personnel.  It worked but tended to inculcate resentment.

     These days, woe betide the General Manager or non-technical department head who buys Something Wonderful based on the blinky lights and fast talk: unless it really is wonderful down to the last penny paid and beyond, heads roll. Once bitten (clean off!), thrice shy; they've largely stopped buying on their own.

     That leaves the salepeople back sellin' to my lot, cranky, suspicious, technically-conservative geeks and nerds.  Meanwhile, sales careers are foundering on the rocks of a down economy, a hugely accelerating rate-of-change in hardware and consumer usage, and ever-greater use of software-defined devices.  With that kind of pressure on the genome, something had to give--

     "I'm a salesman and I probably won't be able to help going into a little bit of a pitch here, but the application of (non-exclusive) technology X to task Z  is making huge improvements in quality and cost, and here's an overview of how and why."

     "All our competitors (names a half-dozen) make a good product too, which this box can work as the 'home' end for; it'll talk to all of them."

     "Here's a white paper on the New Widget," handing out a multi-page print-out, walls of text and no glossy pictures, "and you might want a brochure, too." (point to stack of traditional shiny ads).

     "I'm just up here to introduce our design engineers--" (Who proceed to give an informative talk; sure, there's a stack of sales-contact business cards available, too.)

     Yeah.  They're starting to figure it out.  It sure beats the fast-talking but oblivious salesmen I had to deal with way back when, including the guy who made a high-pressure pitch for a particular technology (unflanged rigid coaxial transmission line for high-power RF) he thought was new and amazing to Us Rubes, while standing in the middle of a room where all the high-power widgetry was interconnected with the stuff!  Those days are fading.  I don't miss 'em.

     (On another front, a general-line supplier I otherwise like has continued their trend of sending personable young women to work their table at such events.  I'd like to tell you it's because they're such an unbiased metritocracy; I'd like to, but given the evidence, I suspect it's because they know they're working a crowd 95% male and overwhelmingly geeky.)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

(Nature's Bounty) Harvest-Time Beef Stew

     It would only confuse you to admit I started with a little sweet Italian sausage; but it was only by seconds.  A bitta that gets joined by a pound of stew beef, cut small; brown, add  fresh mushrooms as it happens, cover with beef stock once it looks right to you.  Now cover the pot and go do something like chopping half an onion (saute and add), a few stalks of celery (likewise), a couple-three fresh  carrots (do you see a saute-pan pattern developing? You do) and a couple of potatoes (Stop!  Nobody sautes potatoes for stew, you barbarian! Don't peel them, either, that's the best part).  Cut up the potatoes in large spoon-sized chunks and chuck 'em into the hot and bubblin'. Let it cook for ten or twenty minutes, simmering, adding liquid as needed.  Toss in a can of whatever kind of beans look good, draining most but not all of the liquid.  Dice up an Anaheim or other appealing pepper, saute (ha!  Fooled ya!) briefly and add it to the pot; slice six or seven (or more) cherry or grape tomatoes and throw them in, too. Give it another ten minutes or longer after adding the tomatoes.  (I also sliced up a tiny little crabapple, sauted it and pitched it in with the carrots, skin-on.  It turned out well; I should've done two or  three.)

     Season to taste.  I salt and peppered the beef as it went in, plus some sesame-garlic stuff, and added "pot herbs" (too much thyme, but it worked.  YMMV) with the broth.

     Serves several, or a few for several days.

     You can push this stuff in a tomato-y direction with crushed or diced, you can make it spicy (maybe some of those canned green chilies?), you can thicken the broth with flour (simplest if you shake up the beef with flour in a bag before browning, for a roux-without-rue), cornstarch or arrowroot (those two, mix with cold, cold water, then stir slowly into a simmering-not-boiling pot of broth and goodies. It doesn't take much and they're fairly flavor-neutral), substitute rice for the potatoes (ending up with a sort of farmer's pilaf) or whatever else might appeal. Various other kinds of meat could be used, alone or together.  It's really more of an attitude than a recipe and will accomodate leftovers.  (A really quick version might be turned out with leftover meatloaf, for example.)

     An overnight stay in the fridge or freezer often makes the whole thing better.  Simmering the meat longer would be better, too, if you have that kind of time.  You'd want to leave it in larger pieces, I think.

     Tam went back for a second bowl, which is usually a good sign.

     Update: I had to rename it, based on the very first comment.   Man, we can't have nothin' nice!

I'm Off To See The Wizards....

     Off to an Engineering Conference of the offsite/professional-networking variety, at which Salesmen will entice me and my peers in the hopes we might buy stuff and Certified Professional Engineers will lecture, hoping against hope we might learn stuff.  There's some overlap between the two.  Which means minimal blog for you this morning, sorry!

     Here's a thought: you'd think if "that government which governs least, governs best" is correct and the closer it gets to zero the better, then a snarled-up mess of a government that can't do much of anything -- a negative value -- might be better still; but the reality is that it's as least as bad as a big, caring Nanny-state, if not worse.   (This explains places like Somalia, where there's actually too many "governments" -- warlord fiefdoms, etc. -- than too much government.)  "Zero" is still a thing approached but never reached; too many people want to make sure their neighbors color inside the lines all the time (and never make the giraffes green or the grass purple), and that's before you address the irreducible minimum of criminally-inclined individuals.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

"Gentlemen Do Not Read One Another's Mail"

     It was sententious nonsense when Harry Stinson said it in 1929, when he yanked the State Department's share of funding for the U. S. Government's first official cryptographic effort (and arguably, one of the first super-secret Bureaus: the Cipher Bureau operated behind a front as a legitimate commercial-code business.  The NSA got those sneaky-pete genes more-or-less legitimately).

     Stinson was quick to recant in deed if not word when the U. S. got kicked into WW II; the military had never given up.

     In the real world, "gentlemen" have been verifiably reading one another's mail since the late 1500s.

     You'll excuse me if I find the current flap about NSA peering over the shoulders of world leaders -- even ones with whom our government is pinky-swear BFFs -- a few centuries late and staggeringly naive.

      In the eyes of the jaded spooks of Britain and the Continent, the intelligence services of the United States have long had a reputation for unsubtlety despite super-1337 electronic-spying skills; their latest missteps have been something of a return-to-standard, as Elint merges with Humint as the smartphone in your pocket turns into an untrustworthy constant companion and their need for ever-better geekery outstrips the number of men and women who will keep even the most dire of secrets.

Chilly-Morning Fare

     There's something comforting about an egg fried with a small slice of prosciutto on top, then flipped over and finished with a slice of cheese on the new top, the whole thing being served on a slice of toast (cheese side down) when done. It'll warm you right up.  (The tiny one-egg frying pan helps it cook quickly, too.)

     Before adding the egg, I gave the pan a couple of twists from a "Montreal Steakhouse" spice weasel, little more than pepper, salt and a hint of garlic.  YMMV.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Beans, Beans, Beans...

     Indianapolis dried-bean packaging icon (and lone holdout in the vast land-holdings of Lucas Oil Stadium) N. K. Hurst is 75 years old this month!

     Happy Birthday, Hurst -- and here's some bean soup recipes for the rest of us.

     When I was growing up, thick, gray 15-bean soup, simmered all day with chunks of ham and served with fresh chopped onions, sliced celery and home-baked corn bread* was a cold-weather treat above all others.  It's getting to be about bean soup time already, in fact.  Do you suppose Tam will agree to drive the crockpot while I'm at work?

     (The "classic" version I grew up with is just the bean mix simmered with ham.  Use the spice packet and add tomato, etc. for a more traditional 15-bean soup.  Either way, it's great!)
* Does your boxed-mix cornbread fall apart?  Try doubling the number of eggs you add!  It works for me.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

One-Sided Conversation, AKA "The Monkey Rules"

     Rannie the cat leaps onto the pulled-out typewriter shelf on the right side of my big oak desk, cooing ingratiatingly: "Woo-Ooooo."

     I'm enjoying a bowl of fried rice, eggs, a few veggies and three kinds of fancy Italian lunchmeat (because fusion breakfasts are goood), which she promptly homes in on.  I hold it back out of the way and lean right in, eye-to-eye with the cat:  "Rannie, you know how they say, 'What's mine is yours?'  This doesn't work that way," going forehead to forehead on the last line and delivering it in my best whiskey-contralto growl.

     Rannie:  "Eee, arnghk..." and she leaps down, passing parlously close to my half-full coffee cup in the process.

     She went off and sulked a bit but came back, going floor-to-desktop in a single smooth levitation, singing "Waaarrngh!" as she landed.  Now she's doing her best impression of a well-behaved Pharonic cat, sitting tail-over-toes with a butter-won't-melt expression.  I'm not fooled.  She's just biding her time.

     Grow thumbs and get a job, cat, and I'll talk to you about sharing my food.  You already had yours and a tablespoon of olive oil, too.

     (Huck, noticing something was up, jumped to the shelf on the other side of my desk when I scolded Rannie.  He's more direct -- a gentle shove and he was back on the floor with no hard feelings.)

A Halloween Bot? Why Not!

     A new, seasonal story at I Work On A Starship: The Halloween Bot.

     It came lurching and clanking down the road, trailing a thin streamer of smoke in the twilight, two heavy feet scuffing aside the red, brown and yellow-gold fallen leaves along the pale mauve line that delineated the pedestrian, bicycle and small/slow autonomous vehicle lane from the main road.
     Jackson Jones was the first of the kids to notice it.
     Read the rest!

Two-Way Radio, Again

     Headed for lunch Saturday, friends noticed my Baofeng UV-5R handheld HT and asked about it.  "There's an article on my blog," I told 'em, promising to put up a link.

     So far, so good with mine, though I have worn the print off the button that switches between preset tuning and continuously-variable mode.  Still works, and the little magic person inside announces the new mode when you push it.  For what amounts to a disposable radio, that's pretty good.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

And So It Begins....

     When goods can't cross borders, ideas will.  Also 3-D printer files:

     UK police seize parts from 3D-printed gun.

      ...Apparently a trigger and a magazine.  Last time I looked, you didn't need either one of of those to make a gun (see zip gun, fire lance, handgonne). ...Hey, actual Bad Guys in possession of actual Means To Do Harm is a bad thing, but let's make sure we can tell baddies from posers and the "means" from toys.

     Bonus: in the body of the story, AP serves up the "invisible to metal detectors" canard.  Drink!  (Also, call me back when J. Random Hijacker manages to get the bullets through a metal detector.)

     You can't unring a bell.

     Update, via Jed and Bear in comments: Or not even gun parts at all.  Or a gang member.

     Associated Press, straining at gnats and swallowing camels whole, especially where firearms are involved; Agence France-Presse, skeptically methodical;  J. Random Police Constable, UK edition: hysterical.  In both senses.

Friday, October 25, 2013

"If You Smell Something, Say Something."

     No, really.

     Not the worst idea I've seen -- who wants to get blown up? Who wants gas rates to go up because the utility is losing the stuff?-- and a pity it's only around Boston so far.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

From Poland, With Art

     So, the walls go up and your artists are locked in.  What to do, what to do.... They're a subversive lot, artists; many of them don't even understand national borders and they've got to be kept busy....

     Let's ban imported movie posters and make our own!  And thus arose the Polish School Of Posters, which promptly began leaking influences back across the borders and left room for artists to sneak subtle snark into their work.

    Can't stop the signal.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Name Is Bondish -- Iver Bondish

     Double-naught not: Iver Johnson copies a Walther .22 that riffs from their PPK:
     Yes, that thing has got an owl's head on it, one per side.  TP 22, in the footsteps of Walther's TPH.  It's what you'd buy if you kind of like the Bond books and movies but didn't want to go too far with it.   This example includes a test: what's missing?

     I don't know how it shoots yet.  DA/SA, internals in fair shape.  Two magazines and the price was right, even with the s(l)ight problem alluded to.

Stripey Dogs!

     Almost certainly fake.  Huck, relax; your species still has a monopoly.
     Good boy!

     Please don't dye puppies -- no matter how cute it looks, it's not good for them.

A Dab Unfetters Hero Vortex!

   Stun a hatbox, fevered retro.  Anagrams!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

World's Leading Exporter Of Weird

     Weird -- and wonderful.  Yes, it's still Japan, where they have developed a machine to laugh at you!

     Modern world culture would be much poorer without 'em.

The Gas Is Back

     ..And it's a gas, gas, gas -- all of it safely contained, according to the Gas Co. man, who looked askance at the old kitchen stove (I think it's from the 1960s, not what I think of as old, but...) before relighting the pilot.  (Possibly because the plumber had left that valve open and he'd ignored Tam's mention of that before making his first pressure test).

     So we now have heat, a working stove, and, presently, I hope to have a nice hot shower.  Heading that way now -- pardon my dust!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Cold Shower At Dawn: Life Without Gas, Day Three

     The real cold shower was yesterday before work (a much-needed extra shift).  This morning it was a standing tub bath, quick and chilly. 

     In both instances, it is remarkable how much joy can be found in a quart and a half of warm water, saved 'til last and poured from head to toe.  Delightful!  --Maybe it's the contrast?  Pure luxury, that's what it is.

     As I wrote, bathing was long past and the plumber was in the basement, unscrewing things.  The perversity of the universe and black iron pipe being what it is, at any given point the wrong part is fixing to unscrew and has to be persuaded otherwise, which is why he gets the big bucks.

     But now he's left -- the blessing and curse of living within a mile or two of a first-rate plumbing supplier is that plumbers rarely bother to show up with a big pile of parts, figuring whatever they need is a short drive and a cup of hot coffee away.  It works out.

     Breakfast: A lovely cuppa weak coffee (near-disaster with my Chemex, spilled about ten percent of the grounds while brewing) and two slices of pumpernickel toast with heart-healthy margarine.  --It's the staff of life, right?

     Here's hoping for a return of a gas-free basement and a working stove, water heater and furnace before the day is over.  Wish Tam and me luck, please!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Amazing Stories Magazine Is Back

     Amazing Stories is in the process of returning.  (I hope, I hope, I hope).  Progress is being made -- have a look.  Amazing!

Partially Dis-AMORCed: Life Without Gas, Day Two

     This morning, the electric skillet will get its first use.  Coffee water is on the boil, vacuum carafe is already loaded with hot water, and it's frikkin' chilly in Roseholme Cottage. (I had cats, heating pad, etc. huddled under blankets and a couple of quilts all last night.)

     Briefly lost my footing two days ago, putting away my router (the woodworking kind, not the networking sort).  Slipped, recovered, put sideways stress on my right or target knee.  Strained something, which became significant when the Data Viking and I walked the entire Indy 1500 Gun Show.  (It was not-quite SRO and sellers reported a higher-than-usual lookers-to-buyers ratio.  Flip side, ammunition prices are starting to drop; .22 LR is going for 11 cents a round and down.  Well, 11.1 cents.) Oooo, I bought a gun, a clone of something Tam called a Toilet Paper Handgun.  Sort of a "double-naught spy" gun, only not. (Watch this space -- well, that space, the one that doesn't have a picture in it yeah?  Yeah, up a little, to the right...there.  Coming attraction!)

     I was in mild agony when we left the show for a late lunch at 10:01 with Tam and Shootin' Buddy, and making light of it.  "Think of the free, heroin-like endorphins!"  Fed, home, ibuprofen, iced up my knee, wham! Dead tired.  Dog tired; dead-dog tired in fact.  After the last guest left, I went to bed and zonked clean out, Welcome To Night Vale* telling me a bedtime story, whispering, whispering in my ears as I slept....

     Woke again around 10, had a little snack, nosed around on the 'net, took more OTC no-hurtum, and back to the warmth of sleep.  (Tam's cat cries when she can't fit into the warmest spot next to me, then gets irked.)

     And now I'm up again, putting off fiddling around making breakfast, washing dishes the good old-fashioned way (warm water wash, cool water rinse, scald 'em and dry 'em.  It's what we did camping when I was a child), followed by a cold-water shower session, if I dare.
* It's what podcasting was invented for, A Prairie Home Companion as produced by H. P. Lovecraft and narrated by an inadvertent mesmerist; one of their guest artists sharpened it to "Lake Woebegoth," and if you had to describe it in two words, those are the two.  It's Tam's fault, she drugged it back from vacation and it's contagious.  Now you have it -- you're welcome!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Life Without Gas: Day One

     The cramps are gone, and people no longer leave a 20-foot clear circle around me.  Flames no longer leap to twice their normal size whenever--

   Oh.  Whoops!  Wrong kind of gas.  Hehheh.

     Let's see: did dishes in the sink, using hot water from the large electric teakettle.  Washed the three new Pyrex bowls and electric skillet.  Coffee as usual this morning, though I did have to warm up the preheat water for the thermal carafe in the teakettle instead of using tap water.  Cold cereal.

     There's a bowl of warm water next to the washroom sink and I'm heating up more.

     I'll see how I feel about that after I'm done spluttering and swearing, washing up in the nearly-dry tub or rinsing my hair under the spout.   ...Which I am dreading and which I have to go do now.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Gas Leak -- Also, More Music

     Went to the basement early this morning and thought maybe I smelled gas.  Took a shower (how dead can you get?), which clear my sinuses, and went back to check.

     Yep.  Very localized.  That's the good news.

     Gas company showed up with a sniffer and pro-grade bubble soap (it's the touch of corn syrup that does it).  De nada.  So he did a pressure test.

     Yep.  Pressure drop.  He shut off the gas.  That's the bad news.

     I went calling for a gas plumber and it took two hours of looking to find one who could come out today.  Gas company, probably won't see them back 'til Monday -- if we can fix the problem.  That's bad news, too.

     Also, I'm losing a day's pay, which I kinda ain't got.

     One bright spot, the gasman did get the stove out of its niche and showed me how to open up the top -- I hadn't been able to get it to release.  So it's not running, but at least it's clean now.

     Heck with that -- ever hear of Mean Mary?  Somewhere at the intersection of old traditional folk songs, country and Wyndham-Hill-type acoustic is where you'll find her.  It's a good sound.  Iron Horse hauls some traditional approaches to the "lonesome train" trope out to the woodsdhed and puts 'em to work.  Wherefore Art Thou Jane reminds me of a certain redhead

Now I'll Listen To Country Music: Hayseed Dixie

     Why was I not told sooner?

     I'm told it's all at least this good.
     (While lyrics of Walk This Way are especially rank when sung intelligibly, their take on the tune is simply staggering.)

     I am not a fan of most country music, especially "modern" country.  Come to think of it, there's not a whole lot of harder/louder/metal rock I can listen to for more than a minute or two.  But this?  This is great!  (It's probably the bluegrass that saves it.)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

J. Random Computer-Illiterate Bum Signs Up For Obamacare

     So, do you have to do it online, and what if you haven't got a computer and they won't let you back into the public library after that unfortunate "stinkypants" incident in six of their brand-new chairs?  And all the payphones along your patch have had the handsets ripped out and used to forcibly separate fools from money?

     Somewhere in America atop a multi-story walkup flophouse, a panhandler is taping a crayon-scrawled Health Exchange application to a carrier pigeon.  "Go, Mr. Feathers!  Fly me to the future," he says, as he kisses it and pitches it into the air.

     Damn pity about the tape around the wings, though.

     (Credit where credit is due: flawed though rollout has been, ACA does have some specific approaches to getting the homeless and other low-access and largely uninsured people signed up.  While I think the whole system has huge conceptual problems, at least they didn't "solve" that particular problem by pretending it wasn't there.  So.... If it didn't happen here, maybe it happened on the Hidden Frontier.)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Good Writing Instrument: $200

     Two hunnerd dollars, American.  That's what they cost -- a 2- or 3-novel supply of Blackwing 602 pencils, a quality fountain pen, a new typewriter or a functionally-restored old one, or a netbook computer with a decent keyboard.  Come to that, you should be able to find a desktop for something ball-parkish; I am writing this blog post on a Woot screamin'-deal Acer that I believe came in under $200.

     Why this should be, I cannot say.  It just is.

50th Anniversary JFK Tinfoil Hat: No Gunshots On Tape

     You've probably heard them, in one entertainment-documentary or another: the sound of muffled gunshots ringing out across Dealey Plaza?  Yeah, except now there's a guy saying the sounds are nothing of the sort, just a motorcycle engine and a rattling microphone.  The two-way radio in question was two miles away from the scene when the recording was made.  You can hear a rifle shot at that range, but pick it up on a communications-grade two-way radio mic?  I have my doubts.

     It'll be fifty years come 22 November and President John F. Kennedy will still be dead. Oswald is still dead. The conspirators, if any, are probably all dead and any remainder is not far from it.  There is certainly plenty for any suspicious mind to gnaw on in even the least crumb (expressions: all sad, or are some suspicious? Apprehensive?  What about Gerald Ford and Lyndon Johnson's shared look?) but there's not a whole lot of real depth left to any of it.

     The Kennedy assassination was hardly the first time a U. S. President was shot down or shot at in a public place, but being the first one caught on film and with the images widely disseminated (followed by Oswald being shot on live TV a few days later), it has grown a much larger mythos.  The reality is, all involved are one with the dodo and the T. Rex: dead and gone.  If it was the act of a secret cabal that runs the world, you might as well relax, because if they've kept that secret locked down for fifty years, you are to them as the fly is to the eagle.  --And if they are running the world, they're doing a damned poor job of it.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


     From the XCOR Aerospace blog:

     “Nothing is more dangerous in all the world than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

     Y'know who said that?  Martin Luther King.   And here we are with heaping helpings of both ladled out daily.  I guess it's a human universal: stupidity and ignorance are a lot easier than amounting to something, or even forming an opinion on one's own.

     You can be darned sure the easy way doesn't fly.  Literally. 

IMPD: Personnel Increase Dekamated?

     "Dekamate:" to reduce to one-tenth (start with 100, get 10) -- as contrasted to "decimate," which despite modern abuse and misuse, still means a reduction by one-tenth (start with 100, get 90).

     IMPD asked for 700 new officers but received 80 -- which is still better than nothing.  Likewise, they're not going to get the pay increase they negotiated; the City hasn't got it.  Instead, they'll get what the firemen get,* though if they don't like it, the FOP will consider suing for more.

     One might wish the new recruits would be required to take the Temperance Pledge but I suppose that's too much to ask.

     In other news, the trial of IMPD's David Bisard, accused of a DUI fatality while on duty in his patrol car, has finally started jury selection, some three years after the accident.  He's been behind bars since being arrested after a second DUI incident (non-fatal) in April of this year.  (Timeline here.)

     Seriously, guys -- Temperance Pledge?  Think about it.
* 3 percent the first year, about 2 percent for each of the following two years.  Better than what I got, last time 'round, though I'm not nearly as likely to get shot at or have to run into a burning building.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Million Vet March: News

     Looks like they at least made local D.C. TV news.  And (according to the first link) made some tourists happy.

     The "CLOSED" signs have had a caveat added since they decided to let WW II veterans into their own memorial: "Except for 1st Amendment activities."  While I'm not sure if visiting a memorial to the war one fought in is specifically covered by the First Amendment (at least in any different way to J. Random Citizen going to see the same memorial), Sunday's protest certainly was.   Which might explain the lack of arrests -- that, and perhaps it's starting to occur to "the most transparent Administration in history" that the Emperor truly has no clothes. 

Bloggiversary: Missed

     It was 7 October.  Or maybe the 8th, if you're after more than a "Testing..."  Of 2007.  So that's what, six years of this?  Woo.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Enjoying Breakfast, Watching The News

     Breakfast of corned beef hash with a sliced leek plus an Anaheim pepper and about a quarter of a big red bell pepper: add a little hot sauce and yum!

     Looking for anything on the Big Three networks about the Million Veteran March: nothing. No current local stories that Google can find, either, just a very few "day-before" pieces and here in Indy, coverage of a local veteran's rally with a hundred and fifty-plus participants.  Radio silence from D.C.  Not unexpectedly.  Gil Scott-Heron later said he was being metaphorical; the reason "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," was because it had to happen in your own mind before it could begin to happen in the outside world.  Someone forgot to explain that to the traditional media.  (Who seem to have found a similar "revolution" more to their liking to televise, to the extent they're saying anything at all.)

     Hey!  Here's some coverage.  H'mm, Sarah Palin -- that's another reason why there's "no story" for the big networks.

     Update: CNN did cover it and predictably zeroed in on the most off-the-wall comments.  But look at the crowd in the photo -- pretty sure they beat my Iron Law of Respondents.

     Update 2: March organizers respond to the CNN piece.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

New Model Bonus Army Million Veteran March

     Like every "Million [some group of persons] March," it won't be a real million* -- but some veterans are planning to march up to the Barrycaded war memorials and monuments in Washington D.C. tomorrow and-- Well, look at them.   To pause for a moment and remember; that's why those things are there and no line of orange cones or steel pedestrian barricades can change it.

     Good idea?  Bad idea?  --How bad or good an idea was it to bar those very public, outdoor memorials in the first place, and did the feds who decided to do so realize (or hope?) a reaction was inevitable?  (It's pretty easy to blame their top boss but he's no Moriarty; the specifics of "make it hurt" were no doubt left to underlings, who may later be chastised for an excess of enthusiasm and slipped a healthy bonus or a nice job with a government contractor.)

     These veterans are not after a bonus and the Army seems to be lacking in MacArthurs and Pattons just now -- or at least have their modern-day counterparts busy overseas.  Nevertheless, I doubt there's any greater reluctance by Federal Authorities to employ tear gas and plain force if they feel threatened.

     --But I don't know if the lapdog traditional media will consider a thousand or more outraged veterans an actual newsworthy event the same way it does a scant dozen anti-gun protestors, either.  Better pray for tear gas, boys, it's the only way you'll make the nightly news open or the next morning's front page.
* They're saying 1.8 million hits on their Facebook page and 15,000 signatures on their petition.  Bobbi's 10:1 Iron Law Of Respondents therefore predicts 1500 actual attendees, but the iron can be kinda flexible.  Also, do you want to get in the way of even a mere one thousand five hundred veterans who'd like to get right up to the Vietnam War Wall, the WW II Memorial, etc.?  Thought not, and neither do the National Park Service Rangers.

Slept In Again

     I'm starting to think I've picked up some kinda bug; I have been exhausted most of this week and I haven't done anything.

     Tam claims "A Bobbi at rest tends to stay at rest," maintaining that if nothing wakes me up, I'll stay somnolent forever.  Maybe that's it.  If so, it can be cured by getting myself into motion and actually doing something.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Read Banned Books! Win Banned Guns!

     Actually, neither the books nor the guns are wholly banned; but people have tried and it's important to stand up and say not just no but hell no to such damfool notions. 

     Last month, the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library here in Indy walled up a fellow in a "prison" made of banned books over the course of a week.  Books like Slaughterhouse Five, Huckleberry Finn, Fahrenheit 451 and Brave New World. (And Lolita and Catcher In The Rye.  Not to your taste? Fine, don't read 'em; don't ban them, either.)  ...I'm told they let him out after, and he got reg'lar meals, washroom access an' all -- but they didn't just "let on" he was walled up, as Tom Sawyer might've suggested, they built a nice lattice-type wall with the books, forming a cell between the wall and the front window.

     This month, the National Rifle Association is raffling off a dozen banned guns; to win them, you'll need to be living someplace where they're not banned (and pass the usual NICS check).  It's not all scary-looking black semi-auto editions of mil-type rifles in intermediate calibers, either; there's a nice .22 on the list and among the most powerful are a couple of bolt-action, wooden-stocked hunting rifles, just like Grandpa used -- and on somebody's you-can't-have-them list here in the U.S.

     You're a grown-up.  Say no to the nannies.  Buy a banned book.  Buy a banned gun -- or win one.

They Do Exist: Left-Libertarians

     Mind you, they're a spectrum same as Right-Libbytarians, with dire and dreadful anarchists like me stuck in the middle--*

     But from what I've seen, C4SS, the Center For A Stateless Society, are mostly socially liberal and no more fond of the coercive socialist elements of the modern American Left than I am.  Anyway, they have some interesting thoughts in The Panthers Were Right and Reagan Was Wrong on Gun Control.

      I will offer a clarification and a quibble: the article says (former) President Reagan "put his weight behind the AWB," but this is disputed by some Reagan scholars, who mostly blame underlings; and the "Panthers" in question are the old-school original Black Panthers, whose California experiment in long-gun open carry had precisely the same result as more-recent California OC efforts: the state legislature panicked and made the laws even more strict.  (As for the latter, I suppose we can conclude that CA's government is therefore more hoplophobic than racist.  Makes me wonder just what kind of skullduggery they are up to, that they'd so consistently want citizens disarmed, but perhaps I'm just a worrywart.  And if pigs had wings....)
* Oh, woe is us, we are martyrs, hated and feared and misunderstood...  Er, a-hem.  No; that's a dopey notion no matter who puts it forth.  Looky, whatever you believe, the diversity of human thought is such that a lot of people will loathe you for it.  When you pop outta the echo chamber and discover this, you can either assume you're such a singularly special snowflake that you simply must be right because they all hate you, or you can wise up and realize that it makes you pretty much the same as every other little flake, falling, falling from the darkness to the dirt, and the snowplow's gonna sweep them all away with nary a blink at their uniqueness.  Sure, you're special and so'm I, but so's everybody else crammed into this too-short bus.  Get over it.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

I'm Stumped

     Not completely -- I've been hanging onto a mind-bending bit from a left-libertarian website for awhile, but it pales next to the "shut down the fun stuff no matter what" that's goin' on.

     You'll be pleased to know that some polling has the blame for that (dreadful, utterly dweadful) semi-stoppage split pretty evenly between Dems and GOP, between the House and Mr. Obama, despite the in-the-bag oldstream media hewing pretty closely to their notion that anything bad is the sole fault of "Tea Partiers," which I guess gives silverfish like Peter King of NY (R-only-in-NY) an out. 

     Bo-ring.  Bo-ring. C'mon, can't they even gin up a new Emmanuel Goldstein to hate on?

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

The Dutiful Daughter And Her Reward

    Took Mom X to the auto-body shop today: they took her neck brace off a few weeks back and pronounced her broken neck healed, adding, "Drive when you feel you're ready."

     She was heap ready on Monday and went out on a long. complicated set of errands; got about half of them done and stopped at a drive-through for a cool, refreshing soft drink (or a milkshake.  She loves 'em.  Who says the fun ever stops?).  The place is known to have some nasty tight turns and Mom hung up her 19[redacted] Fricken Boatmobile-Superba on the curb, then attempted to bull on through, resulting in minor paint removal to a Hardy-McKingFC lamppost and serious front and rear door smashage plus a side-mirrorectomy on the driver's side of the car, all at 5 mph or less.

     She's none too happy about this, but after a couple months of not driving, in a huge car, navigating a fast-feeder set up for Minis, Fiat 500s and Yarii, I doubt I'd've done much better.

     Anyway, I drove the thing up to the body shop with Mom navigating, got the estimate (!!!), stopped off at a different fast-feeder for forage (no names, please -- let's just say they sell well-cooked Roast Beef), took Mom home, and drove my car back to Roseholme Cottage where I shortly learned I'd arrived barely in time to avoid ruining my jeans.  ($40 Carhartt Double-Fronts, painful to replace.)

     See, right there are two good reasons why I rarely* do the drive-through thing: they'll tear up your car and/or your innards. 
* Rally's, of all places, sells a nice old-fashioned ice cream cone that occasionally calls out to me irresistibly -- I'd stop up my ears and have the crew lash me to the mast 'til we were safely past but the cats don't drive well.

It Was All A Dream....

     ...But you were there, and so was...the President?

     Yes, I dreamed last night that the President of the United States was my houseguest.  Actually, he was renting a room; they were fumigating the White House living quarters, or recarpeting, or something, and so he was staying at my house.

     It was awkward.  He was a nice enough guy, but I'd had to get all the guns out of sight and we were both trying very hard to not talk about politics.   He'd even brought some pastries from the temporary "Oval Office"* break room, but it was still a relief when he left for work.

     I woke up thinking, "Whew, he's left."  Then I realized there were three years still to go.

     Where's those ruby slippers?
* Not sure how that works -- maybe he bumps Biden, who moves into the office of President Pro Tem, who shoves out the Senate Majority Leader, all the way down to where the most-junior member of the House is sitting in a guest chair in the Chaplain's office, working out of a briefcase on a TV tray.  Or maybe a janitor's closet.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

By The Way -- I'm On Vacation

    All week.  I have been sleeping like it was about to be outlawed.

     I think maybe it's time to go do lawn work.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Like An Occupying Army

    That's how the Feds are acting under the shutdown -- detailing men and materiel to shut down access to national monuments and parks, even shutting down (or trying to) private businesses in them.  Federal websites are not being shutdown -- instead, new pages were added, dead-ending anyone hitting the URL.  No 404 for!  Even the Federal Amber Alert page is down -- but don't worry, the real Amber Alert/Silver Alert system is run by the individual EAS systems of the individual states, and receives little if any funding from Uncle Sam.

     This is like the behavior of an occupying army, one usually kept at bay by monstrous bribes that have been denied: close down the symbolic sites that might serve the natives as rallying-points, draw the blinds, turn off the lights....

    Washington's bureaucracy, at the behest of their master, has spoken: they see us as the enemy.  And we should not be at all surprised that their closest enemy is the House of Representatives, the single entity in the Federal government intended to represent The People.

     Some of The People have been muttering for awhile now that all politics in the U.S. have become no more than a dress rehearsal for civil war.  I still hope they're wrong -- but you've gotta wonder.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Fed.Gov Has Shut Down The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall?

     Says here they have -- which probably means Park Police, since it's a wall, in the middle of an unfenced park.  Which means they have to be paying 'em.

     Bureaucrats are citing the chance of vandalism, possible crimes against persons and emergency medical services; which I guess means that normal public safety services are considered nonessential -- but lining up armed men in uniform to say "Verboten!" to members of the public wanting to pay their respects at a revered monument (one made of hard, hard rock and solidly anchored) is utterly necessary to the continued functioning of our great republic.

     Okay, then.  But they're gonna need taller, shiner boots.

Ha! Who'd Believe It?

     That Larry Correia, he'd do better if his viewpoint characters weren't so unlikely;  C'mon, a physically-fit, physically-huge accountant who keeps fit and shoots well?  Who'd believe that?


     ...Doesn't he have another MHI or Grimnoir book comin' soon?  Write faster, Larry!  Write faster!

     (Rereading the first Monster Hunter book right now.)

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Quick Reminder

     No matter which half of the Running-Things-Party you find yourself voting for, they've voted to dink with your civil rights, one way or another.  And when they argue over money, so far it's only over how much more of your money to take and spend, not about taking less of it. (Or over how much new money to print, thereby robbing everyone of some fraction of the value of what they've already got.)

     --I realize you did your level best to pick the least bad option but let's be realistic: neither one is all that good and every other party is nothing but also-rans.  Sure, the GOP won't take your guns (mostly.  Have you met Republican Congressthing Peter King of New York? ) but they're not going to spy on you any less.

     This is exactly why the Dems and GOP hate one another so very, very much (and their supporters even more so): they're really after the same thing, just differently-packaged.  Is it any wonder they so frequently deadlock, like two stray cats after the same chipmunk?  Only difference is, the chipmunk sometimes gets away; we're stuck, and Room 101 is a bipartisan endeavor.

Rainy Weekend Morning

     A cuppa coffee, a bowl of cereal -- an' the innernet, 'pon which Tam is currently being horrified by comments on a story at Wonkette about WW II vets getting access to their memorial in Washington, D.C.  --Let's just say that a lot more kids seem to have got their history from Howard Zinn than I'd'a thought, and few of them looked any further.


Friday, October 04, 2013

Seen. Or Not.

     Sad, scary world -- saw a guy standing by a freeway exit holding up a sign saying, "Will kill your enemies for food," and I'm still not sure if he meant food in exchange or if he was explaining his disposal method. Ew.

     (Well -- he was facing the wrong way on a one-way street, standing so you could only read his sign if you were zooming down the off-ramp.  I was on the one-way and saw his sign in my rearview, so perhaps I misread it.)

     Crossposted from the Book of Face, where a commenter added, "I'm thinking GROUPON."  Oh, dear!

Quick Timeline Question

     Did the unfortunate crazy lady ram the White House gates and get herself shot near the Capitol before or after Mr. Obama threw FDR's labor-relations reforms under the bus?  ...Not sayin' there's a connection, mind you...

     Late reports are saying Miriam Carey may have believed the President was some kind of threat to her -- which if you've got both noids in your carriage-house, only goes to show what happens to enemies of the Obamalution.  For the rest of us, it's just another unfortunate incident and another example of why the Presidency of the United States of America is not nearly so nice a job as they told you in grade school.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Narrative? Shattered.

     The racist, paleface gunman from the stick-in-the-mud Midwest who shot his way into the White House Thursday?  Didn't have a gun, never got close, and may possibly have been a bubbly, female, African-American dental hygienist living in Connecticut.

     About the only way this could get further off the rails would be if they find out she had some kind of metabolic problem that could cause severe confusion -- and was suffering from it at the time.  --Or if she had a huge bee in her bonnet about ACA, so-called "Obamacare."

     Look for this one to drop right off the radar unless the media figure out how to spin it into something that fits comfortably with their neat little worldview, in which all bad things have "Made in GOP" stamped on the underside.

Stop Press! The Algore Has Lied On The Internet!

     Who'd'a thunk it?  The very man who invented this here innernet, disseminating distinct disinformation over it?  I am shocked, shocked to see this kind of thing go on.

     Item: Albert Gore, 21 August, in the WaPo: "...We’ve seen changes in Australia, the largest coal producing nation...."

     Item: Wikipedia, list of coal-producing nations:
Image from Wikipedia, see link above.                

     Australia: not largest by volume of coal, population or land area.  Not even effing close.

    Cue K. KASEM: "Coming in at number four in our countdown, but only 'cos the EU doesn't count as a single country, it's the Land Down Under!"

    China digs up six times as much coal, lights up a new coal-puffer power plant each and every day, and where's Mr. Gore?  ...crickets....

    Geez, he doesn't even bother to make the crap plausible any more, does he?

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Space Dinosaur

     And it's huggable, too.  Astronaut and hobby crafter (and mother of a three-year-old) Karen Nyberg used her spare time on ISS and scrap fabric from a Russian food container to make a stuffed-toy dinosaur for her sonKewlest stuffed-toy critter EVAR!  Also kewlest Mom ever.

     Crafting, like amateur radio, is a space-station-friendly hobby, as the supplies don't take up much room and even after you eliminate the hazardous ones (rubber cement and glitter are no doubt right out), you're left with plenty of fun.  Plus it reinforces useful skills: the space station uses a lot of fabric for everything from toolboxes to food shippers to space suits and thread's a lot stronger than any glue they could safely deploy in the habitable volume.

     What caught my eye from the various Mom-in-space articles was this photograph, in which once again ISS looks a lot like where I work:
     Yes, that's a Maglite velcroed to the bulkhead, just this side of a hatch; while we use padded hooks (that gravity thing) and the red version of those flashlights with a strip of glow-in-the-dark tape, ours are also mounted right next to the doors and labelled ("EMERGENCY LIGHT").

     Where I work, "lights out" is merely staggeringly costly; the stakes are somewhat higher aboard ISS.  We seem to have made similar choices nevertheless.

     H/T to The Unwanted Blog.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013


     I've written stuff on this-here stall divider in my corner of the Innernet every morning for a long, long time now, so I spose I'd better do so this morning, too.


     I have.