Thursday, April 30, 2015

In A Rush

     I'd love to hang around and post something longer, but in fact, I'm still chasing after the last (I hope!) of the medical bills from my brush with kidney stones. 

     That adventure served as a kind of notice that I'm only renting this collection of chemicals from the universe and that entropy cannot be reversed forever.  Tick-tock, tick-tock-- 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Silents!

     My suggestion yesterday that the "Lankies" were well-suited to stop-motion and a silent film might be taken remiss by some readers.  But not every pre-talkie was an over-acted two-reeler in the manner of Perils of Pauline; they became their own art form, as capable of depth and drama as any other.  There's at least one modern example, which I have reviewed: The ArtistCall of Cthulhu is another more-or-less recent silent, filmed in period style on a tiny budget but a successful dramatization of the Lovecraft story.

     It's a kind of crazy-lost corner of film -- but there are gems there, from Buster Keaton to the elder Fairbanks.  And in the theater of my mind, herky-jerky alien beings lurching across a Brutalist urban landscape fit right in.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Angles Of Attack

     Finished Angles of Attack yesterday.  Covers are too close together and it ends with many things resolved -- and a brand-new cliffhanger, albeit one he had foreshadowed.


     I'd kinda like to see a silent film made -- the "Lankies" are just about perfect for sepia-toned stop-motion -- but most everyone else wants talkies and full color these days.  You're in luck: the film Marko Kloos is showing in your head has that, too.

       Big, sprawling space-opera from a "there I was..." perspective.  You'll not find better on the "New SF" shelf.

     Recommended!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Numbers

     It appears that dropping comments and supporting adding LGBT people to the Civil Rights Acts have cost me about 150 hits per day.

     Since blog traffic means exactly nothing to me in terms of income or any other currency besides sheer egoboo, I can't say I'm missin' 'em. Being open-minded doesn't mean I've got to provide a platform for bigotry.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Conversations

Tam (Holding up some iKindleThingie): "I know better but it still seems wrong that there are rare earth magnets all around this pocket computer."

Bobbi: (Engineerishly) "There's no magnetic storage in those."

Tam: "I know, I know -- but still, computers, you weren't even supposed to have food or drinks around them!  I remember losing a week's homework because somebody stuck a CB magnet* on the side of the filing cabinet the floppy discs were in!"

Bobbi: "Tam, how old am I?"

Tam: "Ancient."

Bobbi: "And what do I do for a living?"

Tam: "Ancient technology?"

Bobbi: "No."

Tam: "Obsolescent technology?"

Bobbi: "No, really.  Other than records, radio and TV were and mostly still are all magnetic storage.  --And yeah, the magnetic connectors on my Surface weird me out in the very same way."

     Who knew The Future was magnets instead of plastics?
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* Tam and I both remember mag-mount CB antennas, the quick & dirty way to equip your car for the CB craze. Of course, I used 'em for ham radio antennas -- but I must admit, if it wasn't for CBers, those gadgets would not have been so inexpensive and widely available.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

It Is Claimed...

     "Title 14, Section 1211 of the Code of Federal Regulations (implemented on July 16, 1969) makes it illegal for U.S. citizens to have any contact with extraterrestrials or their vehicles."

     In other words:
     STOP!
     Don't touch!
     Tell an adult!

     ...And some people think my stories about the Hidden Frontier are imaginary....

Angles Of Attack

     I'm reading Marko Kloos's Angles Of Attack.  You should, too.

     While mil-SF is not one of my major interests, I've read Elizabeth Moon's "Ensign Suiza" and "Vatta's War" series, Starship Troopers and the various mil-ish C. J. Cherrryh novels (notably Rimrunners and Tripoint) and David Drake's Leary and Mundy series.  Marko's series is as good as any of them.

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Tamara Returns

     After being away for some time on a Secret Mission, Tam is back at Roseholme Cottage.  This is a considerable relief to me -- I'm glad to see her again and the cats will have a lot more Adult Supervision.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Why I Still Haven't Mowed All Of The Front Yard

     Flowers!
     Yeah, I'm not quite to the Edward Gorey level yet.  These little white flowers -- almost certainly some kind of weed -- come back every Spring (along with a good scattering of violets) and I'm happy to see them.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

...Insurance...

     It's gotten steadily worse.  When I started in my present job -- which was, I admit, before anyone outside of colleges and the .gov was on The Innerwebz -- my employer offered traditional insurance.  It was a benefit.  Didn't take a dime from your pay.  It didn't cover routine doctor visits, just hospitalization, imaging and physical therapy.  Then they added prescription drugs and physicals and the price went up, up--

     And my employer switched to a PPO.  That cost employees a little, but in return, there wasn't much they didn't cover and their network of physicians was huge.   Even then, in-network and out of network  payouts differed by less than ten percent, anyway, so you really only needed to keep track for big stuff.

     Over time, options shrank, the network shrank, and it cost more.  Eventually, my employer switched to a different company.  They had a smaller network and only two plans, a kind of high-deductible basic one and a fancier one that cost more, but had a low deductible and slightly better coverage.  Out of network providers were not covered very well.

     Their network kept getting smaller, they dropped the "nicer" plan, and the price kept going up.

     After I went to the ER with a kidney stone earlier this year, I had a call from the hospital: according to their records, I didn't have insurance!  I was annoyed the hear this and gave them my insurance information again.  I haven't heard back.

     Recently, we were informed that our PPO no longer has a network in Indiana.  They were one of the smaller companies in this state, and their analysts decided it wasn't cost effective.  As of the first of this year, they are still our health insurer -- but we have been in some other network.  And none of the online network-membership checking works for us.

     Do I even have insurance in any meaningful way any more?  I'm not sure.

     I think I might do better going to Vegas, finding a bookie, and making a series of bets against my health. --And paying for my own routine medical stuff.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Sheesh

     I'm going though three drafts of this drivel in recent days.  Way too much work.

In Which I Talk About The Hugo Controversy

     I had a much longer post written, one that went into much greater detail and then I thought, "Nope.  Scroom."

     Brad R. Torgerson gives every indication of being a good man, who made a sincere effort to pick suggested nominees based on literary merit.

     Sadly, a random -- accidental, in fact -- sample of "Puppy" supporters, encountered on the Facebook page of a person very much in the "Sad Puppies" camp rather than "Rabid..." left a much less pleasant impression with me:
    Four in five argued that there is a single objective definition of "Science Fiction and Fantasy," and attempted to support this assertion with the tired Limbaughian slogan, "Words mean things!"  Yes, they do -- a lot of things.  SF/F is what consumers of the stuff buy, period.  It's subjective.  Interestingly, none of them put forward a definition -- I guess we'd have to pass it to find out what was in it?
     Addressing a story they did not care to see on the Hugo ballot, all five would not discuss specific points and at least four gave little evidence of having read the story, only paraphrasing distorted reviews; four put forward notions that are not supported by the actual text (those words, the ones that mean things, suddenly had become dogwhistles, flexible and cunning!)
     Four in five appeared to believe that no one could sincerely hold an opinion different to their own.
    One in five contributed only insults and put-downs.
    One in five made claims of membership in a group strongly correlated with hardcore racists.
    ETA: Another one in five was reasonable and decent, and simply disagreed about some things without making accusations. 

     Random Facebook sample.  Might as well be backing chariot-racing teams in Byzantium.

     I have seen as bad from minions of the Old Hugo Guard,* at times more competently executed, including "poison pen" press releases.  (The same old "choice:" Stupid Party or Evil Party?  They'll both revile you if you pick None Of The Above.)

     "Groupthink (Right-wing)" replacing "Groupthink (Left-wing)" doesn't fix the basic Groupthink problem. Neither does the solution Justinian used for the Nika riots -- for the Hugos, that would be voting "No Award."

     SF Fandom is neither "Just A G--d--- Hobby" nor "A Way Of Life."  It's a stinking cesspool.

    Oh, well, Sturgeon's Law tells us everything is 95% crap.
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* Yes, yes, they've been tagged "Social Justice Warriors" -- which is no more accurate than claiming all "Puppy" supporters are sexists and racists.  Blue!  Green!  Nika!  --Tell it to the Marines.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Poor Rannie

     Rannie the cat has had soft, gravy-covered cat food the last two feedings, since she has decided the dry stuff is too much work to eat (unless she can get me to hand feed her).

     She eats it in a quirky way, carefully lapping up all of the gravy before turning her attentions to the chunks of food.  The entire time, she glances every so often at the closed door between the front and back parts of the house.  Huck waits on the other side, having gulped down his food as quickly as he could.  Rannie knows as soon as I open it, he'll come dashing through. The thought worries her.

     I try to reassure her but as far as Rannie is concerned, I'm only occasionally an acceptable Mommy.  Even sitting on the couch after she's been fed, she'll curl up next to me, purr, smooth on me, nap awhile with her head pillowed on my hand -- then suddenly sit up, give me a shocked look, and be off in search of Tam: You're not my Mommy!

     No, little cat, I'm not.  I cherish your occasional affection nonetheless.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Watched The Hunger Games: Mockingjay -- Part 1 Today

     It's pretty good -- another competent imaging of the book. A little less at odds with what I had pictured than the first two films.

     They have managed to keep the moral ambiguities of the series -- it's not too subtle or deep in the original, but it's there and wasn't lost in the film.   Novellas and YA books often make better movies than full novels, they're a little easier for Hollywood to follow.

     Looking forward to the final film in the series.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Still Good

    Vanilla gelato with plenty of cinnamon on it is still one of the best treats I know of.

Friday, April 17, 2015

I'm Done

      I don't have anything to say to most folks.

     I'll write here occasionally for myself.

     I want to sleep more, exercise more, play with my radios more, read more (Hammett and Chandler are safely dead and didn't write SF) and spend some time coming to terms with my own mortality.  The clock is ticking. The candle burns.  It won't last forever and neither will I.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Comments Have Annoyed Me Too Much

     Comment thread to this post may be the last one you people get for awhile.  Make good use of it -- I'm looking for reasons to bring down the ban-hammer.

      Get this through your heads, people: I am NOT socially conservative.  We don't stock that at this free ice cream store; if you want to get some of that, it is available for free elsewhere, all over the 'Net.  I'm in favor of gay marriage and group marriage and any other legal contract consenting adults want to set up, and I'm in favor of businesses open to the general public being required to do business with all of the law abiding public.  If they don't care for that, they can become private clubs -- the very same dodge used the last time segregation was made illegal and just exactly the same kind of signal of skeeziness.  (What?  That's a law an anarchist like me likes?  Not so much "like;" but I'm stuck in a world where most of the rest of you want laws and since that's what I've got, I favor ones that reduce the extent to which people act like jerks.)

     I'm through arguing with Nazis, half-assed imitation Nazis in nice suits and their enablers in my own comment section.  From here on, I'll just delete their crap -- blogs are free, go get your own.  Racists are not welcome here.

    The far Right can go get stuffed just like the far Left.  Both are really the same kind of yammerheads with slightly different trim packages.

"Mike Pence Must Go," Really?

     The signs are popping up in front yards around Indy.  I'll bet you can find them in many of the college towns, too.  Outside those areas?  Probably not.  He plays quite well in the hinterlands.

     The reasoning behind the signs seems to be that Governor Mike is, after all, openly Christian and socially conservative, and he didn't veto RFRA when it crossed his desk -- far from it! So off with his head -- or at least haul him out of office.

     I thought and continue to think the RFRA was legislative foolhardiness, applied to a "problem" that has never actually been a problem in this state, a problem that is really just the other side of PC-speak and "trigger warnings:" people think they have a right not to be squicked by the not-illegal actions of their fellow humans. (Hint: you don't.)

     But Mike Pence isn't to blame for introducing it.  That lies squarely with the State Legislature, where a power-besotted supermajority decided to do a little social engineering, egged on by a set of comfortably familiar lobbyists with a vocal following.

     I blame WW II, which gave us the old notion of "kings" in a new suit of clothing: it was a war of Great Leaders all 'round, Hitler and Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt, Tojo (and his Emperor), Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Tse-tung and a host of lesser leading lights, all taking the credit and blame, all villains and/or heroes-- And barely a word about the cheering masses; barely a word about the troops and the victims, barely a word about the pliant legislatures and bureaucracies that enabled them.  WW II would've fizzled like a wet firecracker if nobody'd shown up, if the tax-collectors stayed home, if the sewer workers had flooded cities with sludge--  No, hell no, in history class it's 90 percent Great Leaders, eight percent Great Generals, and three pages on the war crimes trials after, with a half-page each for RADAR, guided missiles and the atomic bomb.

     Call me an anarchist.  Call me a Wobblie.  Whatever -- but stop tellin' me "The King Must Die!" every time the crops fail or some addlepated law you don't like gets passed, and start diggin' into Your Elected Representatives, who are the ones who put this bilge forward and carefully nurse it out of committee, onto the floor, over to the other whirling cam in the bicameral, and only then onto The Executive's desk to be signed or vetoed.

     If you are looking askance at the laws they propose and pass -- from whatever angle -- you have in your hands a lever to fix that, and a much smaller mass to move than the Governor: your state-level Congressthings.  Vote at 'em like mad, but don't stop there -- send them mail!  Call them up!  If you've got the bucks and the 'leet schmoozing skills, offer to buy 'em dinner and bend their ear!  Most of 'em aren't holed up in a mansion on Meridian street, they're down here with the rest of us and you can lean on them.  You can even look up how they vote and cheer them or take them to task over it!  (No, I will not Google that for you; the future belongs to those with the wit to at least pour sand out of a search engine when their own ox is gored.)

     Mike Pence is what he is, a conservative, well-intentioned, loyal Party man who thought he saw a narrow gap to get through and got his tail caught trying it.  His career is probably dead-ended at Governor -- not over Wrongthink but because his handling of the after-effects was clueless and clumsy. The legislature is hiding behind him, holding him up and shouting "Boogity-boogity!"  But he's not the source of the RFRA mess.

     Dig in.  Do your homework.  Make 'em fight more -- it's the only way to get fewer foolish new laws.  Or at least fewer new laws, and I'd count that a win for everyone.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Holocaust Remembrance Day

     In Israel, it started this evening, if I understand what I heard on the radio today -- and the radio program was music by composers who either got out in time, survived or, in at least one instance, left their never-played scores with a student and were then killed one of the camps.

     Yeah, that's another one to add to the "Nazis suck" scorecard.  A little thing but a hologram of horror: here was this lovely music, really fine work, pouring out of my car radio and the guy who wrote it never heard it performed.  If his student hadn't kept showing it around after the war, it might never have been performed.  Beauty, nearly snuffed out because the political leadership disapproved of one of this composer's grandfathers.

     If ever you wondered why I dislike racists and authoritarians so very much, there's part of the reason.  And don't kid yourself that you're in the clear because of your ancestors; it wasn't just Jews, and the others weren't all gay or gypsies, either: the politically unpopular got one-way trips, too.  Once a nation starts down that path, each step into evil is easier than the one before.

     You don't have to like politics, but you've gotta keep an eye on it.  No matter who you are. 

Ha!

     Filed my taxes.    Remember, "Taxes are the price we pay for an unsuccessful Whiskey Rebellion."

     [mic drop]

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Seven-League Days?

     Between one thing and another -- my one-in-three rotation on the early-early shift Sunday and Monday, plus needing to be awake until Monday afternoon to sign for a UPS delivery Tam wasn't going to be home to receive -- Monday started about 10:15 p.m. Sunday night, when I woke up early, and ran right through to about 5:30 p.m. Monday, when I finally laid down and was promptly enfolded in the giant, fuzzy grip of sleep.  (A bicycle trip shortly before three p.m. had convinced me I might not be operating at 100%: arrived at the store only to discover I'd forgotten the key to the bike lock, and to realize that I didn't have enough energy left to make another trip and operating a motor vehicle was out of the question.  Just as well: the parcel, which had failed to arrive in the promised time span, showed up about five minutes after I was back in the house.  Fate?  Freight!*)

     Typically, I end the two early days with an afternoon nap and a kind of short extra "day" Monday evening.  This time, I slept nearly straight through to 5:00 a.m., eleven and a half hours with only the shortest of necessity breaks around 11 p.m..  I'd love to tell you I awoke refreshed.  --Nope.  I could crawl right back under the covers and sleep until mid-afternoon, and I happily would, too.  There is, however, much to accomplish today, and therefore no sleep for even the Chaotic Good.

     I volunteered to work two such shifts in a row in order to have a Friday off for the big Dayton Hamvention.  Possibly not my cleverest plan but it's the only one that'll work.
________________________________________
* If you liked that, such a deal I have for you!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Not From A Novel

     "...the first stage will execute a controlled reentry through Earth’s atmosphere, targeting touchdown on an autonomous spaceport drone ship approximately nine minutes after launch."

     Yes, SpaceX has another ISS supply mission Tuesday -- and another first-stage recovery attempt.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

An Ordinary Day, With Sunshine

     Spring.  It may not be joking this time.  Saturday, I rode my "Broad Ripple Utility Vehicle" bike to the grocer's and came home with both baskets just about full.  Ran some more errands, visited my Mom -- doing better than she's been in months -- returned home and realized I'd forgotten to buy eggs.

     It was a nice warm day, beautiful blue sky overhead.  I got out the Ordinary, aired up the tires, and after a quick jog up and down the alley to make sure I still knew how to get on and off it, zoomed off the the store.  Other than the neighbor's dog, whose sense of outrage at passing bicycles is proportional to the size of the largest wheel, it was an uneventful trip, just sun and birds singing, grass seemer to become greener every minute and birds proclaiming, "we're here, we're here."

     I hadn't realized how much I'd missed it.

     Today, perhaps a Full Roseholme breakfast (small steak, egg, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes) and more bicycling.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Arguing On The Internet

     I try not to.  I don't always succeed.

     See, it generally doesn't actually do anything.  Oh, in the rare cases in which there's a large and interested audience of Undecideds, it is possible that a well-crafted set of points and verifiable examples may sway minds and/or hearts, but in most cases the onlookers take it as one of those Sergio Aragon├ęs cartoons in the margins of Mad magazine, or at best an episode of Spy vs. Spy.

     I will ask for cites -- claiming "X" without supporting evidence is plain lazy on This Here Innerweb -- and where the law is already clear, I'll call folks on wishful thinking.  But most arguments boil down to a matter of politics or taste (or both) and debate often turns on stupidly fine points. (Would there be fewer shootings if there were no guns?  Yes.  Would there be less violence?  Doubtful at best.  So which outcome did you want? -- And who "wins" depends on the answer to that last question.  Either way, when the online debate is over and the principals are sitting back and sipping coffee, nothing in the real world will have changed.)

     If you've got a friend who holds some opinion you think is plain wrong, ask yourself what matters more, the friendship or trying to get in there and take a wrench to the contents of their skull?  Ask yourself, is this person doing harm to others on the basis of their opinion, or is it just another of the damfool notions wandering around loose in people's thoughts?  Ask yourself, "When did I enlist in the Thought Police?"  'Cos you probably didn't. And you've probably got damfool notions of your own.  I sure do.

     I'd rather have friends than an echo chamber.  Sometimes we just have to disagree and go on.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Bicycling, Dinner, Hooray!

     It must be Spring.  Not just the storms -- last evening, the weather was warm and, for awhile, not storming.  After feeding the cats, there was just daylight enough left to bicycle to Yat's for a delicious plate of their Cajun/Creole food.  It's enough of a ride to whet the appetite, and maybe work off a calorie or two.  I  had a plate of black beans and sausage and some kind of chicken wonderfulness, served (as usual) over good rice, with a length of good French bread, buttered and toasted, on the side.   Washed it down with a can of pomegranate/orange juice. 

     Nice ride, nice weather, great food.  Yes, this is one reason Spring is such a treasure after the Winter.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Attackberry?

     We had stormy weather here yesterday and the meteorologists are promising more of the same today.  Even before windy, wet weather came along, the trees around Roseholme Cottage were stepping into Spring, the first buds barely visible, shaking off the deadwood--

     Literally.  I need to get a better angle on it but this Y-shaped branch stands nearly a yard high and is quite firmly embedded in the ground, several degrees off vertical.  I noticed it this past weekend.  It's come crashing down from the huge hackberry tree behind the house, missing my ham antenna, the fence and the roof by a few feet.

     Looks like the tree had more than enough Winter, too.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Hugo Season Is Upon Us

     Whazza Hugo?  It's a prize.*

     ...And, as has become the custom, there's an ongoing whinefest from all sides over the fact that if you want to vote for who gets a Hugo, all you have to do is become a supporter of the the next WorldCon SF convention, which is around $40 to $50.  That's it; they send you some junk (books and such, IIRC) and a ballot, you pick your faves.  Done.

     --But, you see, some Hugo voters (some of them probably from Day One) are not voting on which stories they like but nominating and voting to make some kind of point or further some goal.  This is outraging other Hugo voters, who are doing much the same but on the opposite vector.

     Mind you, there is no telepathy involved, no lie detectors or truth drug; no one knows what any given Hugo voter has in mind but themselves.  Even what any voter publicly claims as a motive may, in fact, be a lie.

     Other than the WorldCon poll tax, this is the way voting for politicians and suchlike works, too.  You never get to know what's inside other people's heads when the dirty rotten so-and-sos vote and you sure as hell don't get to police it.  When it comes to voting, the outcome is determined by the people who show up.

     When you try to get folks to show up and vote your way, that's not "gaming the system," it's how the system works.  Doesn't make any difference what your way is, either; you can be a commie or a far-right royalist conservative or a libbytarian or a syndicalist or a Wobbly or whatever.† You can be great company or a nasty choad but you still only get one vote and so do all your pals.  If you want your views to prevail, you need to be asking people who have the same darned weird ideas as you to show up and vote.  The future belongs to the people who tick the boxes on the ballots and not to any group of self-appointed curators, no matter who they are or what they hold dear.

     The whining is unaesthetic, but look at it this way: as long as they're all struggling to be the heap big boss opinion-molders of Science Fiction (as if!), they're kept well away from anything that actually matters, like raising the property tax or voting to water down the milk.  They're all practically public benefactors that way.
________________________________
* It's some kinda Science Fiction prize for stories of various lengths plus artwork and related folderol.   I noticed awhile back it was not a surefire guarantee I was going to like a book and just ignored it.  The award itself consists of a streamlined rocket ship on a wood base with a nice plaque, plus your publisher gets to mention "Hugo-winning" every time your name comes up.  (I gave myself something similar: I bought an unpainted solid metal V-2 model.  I keep it with my SF books.  It looks kewl.)

† I can just about go down that list and name a writer for each one, most of them widely popular even among people who would find their politics repugnant.  If you're liking stories on the basis of the writer's ideological compatibility with yourself, that's your lookout -- but you're going to miss a lot of fun.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

It Does What?

     Guy writing at Salon about howcome he sold his guns and how the gun culture has gotten all icky and stuff, describing shooting his once-treasured Colt .22 target pistol one last time:

     "...an authoritative ka-pow, [...] the gun reaching skyward in a credible kick for a .22,  three inches of ignited escape gas illuminating the tip of the muzzle in a brilliant blue-white flash."

     I wanna know if those Colts do that.  For .22 semi-autos, I've got a Ruger Mk. II, a Whitney Wolverine, a Ciener conversion for my 1911A1 and a pair of Star Model Fs and none of them produce any such dramatic effects.  I've got .22 revolvers by just about everyone -- High Standard, Colt, Smith & Wesson, H&R, Iver Johnson and I don't even remember who else -- with barrels from 3" to 18", and not a one of them flashes out three inches of flame or "reaches skyward" when you make them go bang.  They're .22s, f'pity's sake, and they hardly move when you shoot them if you're holding on as you should.

     You don't think that nice young fellow might be making things up, do you?

     Sell your guns if you're not having any fun with them or if owning them begins to fret you.  Hold and express any opinion that appeals to you.  But don't generalize from a tiny sample, and don't sacrifice reality on the altar of your preconceived notions, mmmkay?

     Link found at Unk's; derp found all over.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Marion County Fish & Game

     Sunday, Tam, the Data Viking and I went to Marion County Fish & Game --Where you can't hunt game (it's a wildlife refuge!)  and I'm not too sure about the fishing.  But it's been a pistol and .22 rifle range since 1903.  (The deer appear to be well aware of their protected status, and wander freely on the property.)

     Saturday was Key Day, last day to renew range membership, and I squeaked in just under the wire.  I'm glad I did, since we first went to the range at Eagle Creek, only to find it was closed for Easter.  MCFG was almost deserted, with one person on the main range and another in one of the small bays, leaving the second small bay open for the three of us.

     I had several "new" revolvers to check out, and had brought along the reissued "Wolverine" (best known as a sci-fi movie prop) as well.
 Left to right, an H&R with a "Buntline"-length barrel, the Wolverine, an H&R "Trapper" chambered for .22 Short, an old H&R top-break and the only non-22 in the bunch, an Enfield No. 2, Mk 1 that shoots .380-200 or .38 S&W, a short, fat-looking and relatively slow round.  All worked well, though the sights are far wrong on the H&R top-break (I had trouble keeping shots on 8" steel with it at 20 yards; normally I'd blame myself but the other three all produced a very fine Ping! sound when pointed at the center of the target, so...).  The Enfield is surprisingly accurate and smooth, the long-barrel .22 is a tackdriver and the soft-shooting Trapper is as good.  I wasn't sure what to expect from any of them; the results were a pleasant surprise.  All the revolvers are double-action and that's how I shoot 'em.  It's better practice and (in my opinion) a better habit.
     Here's the "Buntline" in action.  There's not much muzzle rise, just as you'd expect.

     Even with the cringeworthy Speaker-To-Morons warning on the table ("Please Do Not Shoot This Table" -- sheesh, people, were you raised in a barn?), it was a fun way to spend the middle of the day.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

And The Sun Came Up

     It's an important weekend for members of the two largest religious groups in the U.S. and if you're among them, appropriate sentiments of the holiday to you.*

     Me, I had a Saturday less productive than I would have preferred.  There's a little work to be done around mid-day but I'm spending the morning with friends.

     And what I wrote yesterday?  I still mean it.  There are no brownie points in treating your fellow-humans poorly.  Not even when they are being rude to you.
 ________________________________
  *One of my coworkers, having to work Friday evening, had prepared a Passover dinner earlier and was headed down the hall to a conference room with it as my day ended.  "I was going to rush home for this and rush back, and then I thought, why not have my family come here?"  Seems like a graceful accommodation to me.   

Saturday, April 04, 2015

We're Americans: We Don't Shut Up. Nobody Can Make Us.

          One of the more-disappointing parts of Indiana's recent RFRA episode was the amount of misinformation, bad behavior and ill-will by supporters of all sides.

     The little pizza joint in northern Indiana that was hounded so badly they closed shop after the owner told a reporter that, while they wouldn't turn away anyone who came in to eat, they figured catering a same-sex wedding was contrary to the tenets of their faith is an example -- at least in that incident, after several days of bad reviews and threatening phone calls, a crowdfunding effort had raised nearly a million dollars to help out the business.

     That illustrates just how strong opinions run on all sides of the issue.  While one side behaved much better than the other in it, there's plenty of vituperation (and flashes of grace and courtesy) to go around; at roughly the same time as the Governor was proclaiming the bill was never intended to be used against LGBT Hoosiers, lobbyist Eric Miller was telling reporters that was exactly why the bill was drawn up.  Meanwhile, state legislature (and a rainbow of invited speakers) hammered out a "fix" and held a crow-eating press conference.  Depending on who you asked, the modified law either goes much too far or falls way short, and that's politics.

     The most depressing notion I heard -- and I heard it from both sides -- was that the other side should just shut up and take their lumps, that they were on the wrong side of history or of God, and most of the mess was due to "outside agitators," the last a flaming echo of the 1960s civil rights turmoil.

     It's also utter buncombe.  I have worked in media in Indiana since 1973 and in Indianapolis since the early 1980s.  Back then, a religious, socially conservative activist showed up in the news fairly often, and achieved minor fame protesting the antics of an over-the-top radio morning team: a guy named Eric Miller.  Conversely, a gay-rights group calling itself  "Justice, Inc." was organizing differently-themed protests and issuing news releases, some signed by Kathy Sarris, who was one of the invited speakers at the press conference announcing the revised RFRA.  "Outside agitators," are they?  They both look like Hoosiers to me.  Sound like 'em, too. (IIRC, they both had issues with the radio morning team, too; not the same issues, of course.)  Neither one is fighting this fight for the fun of it.  This stuff matters to them.

     Neither one ought to be shutting up, either.  This may not be a conflict that is ever resolved.  Carving out broad exemptions from civil-rights laws for churches appears to address the most egregious of government meddling in religious affairs and dates back to at least the 1960s.  It didn't go far enough for some people then and, surprise, it doesn't now, either.  Keeping the debate going at least reminds all of us to tread lightly, to speak politely and to seek resolutions to individual conflicts that all parties can accept.  (You can get courts and lawmakers involved but unlike Solomon, they'll usually go ahead and cut the baby in half.)

     Worse than silence is an echo chamber.  The state legislature and Governor gave us the first version of RFRA in what appeared to be full confidence it was a non-issue.  Smug morons, certain that no right-thinking person could disagree, pestered a small business (one that, f'pity's sake, is about as likely to be asked to cater a gay wedding as I am to get invited to the White House) to the brink of shutting down.

     The other guy holds his crazy notions just as dear as you hold yours.  You're not going to change his mind with a couple of well-crafted bumper stickers or a hundred nasty reviews on Yelp, nor will he change yours.  Accept this.

     Since (at least) the civil-rights laws of the 1960s, businesses open to the public have been treated differently under the law than private homes, private clubs and churches.  You may feel this is wrong -- and maybe it is -- but that's the law.  Fighting against it, you're going to find yourself allied with some very unsavory folks.  --There's unsavory types on all sides of most freedom-type issues and that's another fact it's better to admit to than pretend it doesn't exist.

     But don't come crying to me that the so-and-sos pushing this or that notion ought to just shaddup.  Don't come complaining to me about "should."  I'm not in charge of "should."  I'm stuck here with you in "is."   There are politicians and lobbyists working on "should" right now and if that's important to you, that's where your attention should be.  (Me, I think we're oversupplied with government-issued "should" already, but what do I know?)

     In the meantime, try to remember that 99 percent of the people around you are just people trying to get by.  They are like you: all the colors of dirt, from pale dry dust to red clay to dark loam and everything in between.  They are gay and straight and not-all-that-interested, religious or atheistic or doubting; they are happy and sad, angry and calm, often opinionated; they are clever and dull, amusing or scary or pitiable.  Each one of them has got the same one vote you do and there are no prizes to be won in this life or any other by treating any of them badly.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

RFRA Update

     The poor old Indy Star, sad remains of a great paper that it is,* may be in the lead for news on Indiana's RFRA.  According to their sources, the GOP fix establishes protection for LGBT Hoosiers and visitors in places of public accommodation, housing and employment.  The exception for churches is left in place, paralleling established law for other defined minorities (yes, your church can already discriminate on ways that'd get any other entity in hot water and it worked that way long before there was any kind of RFRA on any books anywhere).

     Love it or loathe it, this was about the only way the state government could leave the law in place and not suffer increasingly dire consequences.

     Blame the media all you like -- they certainly spotted the loopholes and the interesting private audience for the signing and made much of both -- all the Legislature had to do was nothing and they could have avoided the entire mess.  The media would be talking about what a nice place Indy was to hold the Final Four when they mentioned the state at all.  Didn't happen.  The state "didn't know it was loaded," despite strong lobbying from Micah Clark (American Family Association of Indiana), Eric Miller (Advance America) and Curt Smith (Indiana Family Institute), all well-established anti-same-sex marriage/anti-LGBT rights advocates and all present at the signing of the bill.  All that was missing was a big neon sign reading "START MEDIA FUROR HERE."  It should have been easy to predict, and yet--  Somehow nobody in the Statehouse saw it coming.

     Right or wrong, agree or disagree, once you've dropped that bomb and seen the big mushroom cloud go up, it's too late for anything but drastic measures.   It looks like that's what we'll get -- and the local SoCons have no one to blame but themselves.

     ETA: Local TV is saying perhaps the medicine will be watered-down.  Guess we'll see.   
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* I believe they're putting it together in a loft apartment downtown these days, with final layout outsourced to a centralized Gannett sweatshop in Louisville or Taiwan, though I could be wrong.  And wrong that the news staff is under a dozen men and women, running like mad to keep up; but I'm not all that far wrong.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

H. P. Lovecraft's Favorite Snack Food?

     I wonder...
     Kids, look for your very own Tentacled Horror,* free in every tenth bag! 
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* "Tentacled Horror"™ 2014 by R'lyeh Enterprises, under license from Great Cthulhu.  All rights reserved.  All rights.  Infringers will be consumed.  Utterly.