Monday, June 30, 2008

Bicycle = Magical

(It must be magic, it makes my old jeans fit again!)

No, really. Magical. I go riding in the evening and glide past and through sparkles and patches and clouds of fireflies, sometimes blinking in sync, big, fat, bright ones that float through the air at the approximate angle of the "little people" from a children's book. It's remarkable in the green twilight of sunset along the well-wooded trail. It's almost too pretty to believe in.

Another bit of "magic" is the effect riding regularly has on my metabolism. It is as if the exercise reminds my body what do do with caloric intake, stepping everything up, leaving me more energetic for having done some honest perspiring rather than tired. And maybe that's exactly what happens. All I know is, Sherlock Holmes had more fun than Mycroft.

(Update: Typo corrected thanks to commenter).

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Linguistic Patrol

Every tenth person who misuses "decimate" should be taken out and shot.

That is all.

Marry A Voter, Have Many Children

...If you want to try changing things via the ballot box and soap box: late word is that there's a genetic component to political involvement. While I nurse a secret suspicion it's the yammerheadedness gene, it could be I'm mistaken.

NRA vs. SF: Oh, Heller Yeah

NRA and CCRKBA found themselves a gay gun-owner who lives in a San Franciso Housing Authority-run condo apartment building for their firearms-rights lawsuit in the City By The Bay. It's a little brain-puzzle for the Mayor and lefty press to cope with -- and the guy's reasons (not wanting to be a helpless victim when bashers come to call) make perfect sense.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

A Photo I've Got To Op

Separation of Church and State, Indy-style: Downtown doing the engineering side of covering this idiocy for the Big Giant Old Media Company, I noticed that the large, impressive City-County Building sits catercorner to the Disciples Center, HQ of a major Protestant denomination; from Court Street (one of the city's named alleys, supposedly a bizarre byproduct of Indiana's early, local-option approach to Prohibition*) they appear back-to-back across the alleyway. They've worked out a fine deal: the Disciples of Christ don't arrest anyone and the Police and Mayor don't preach. Some of the City-County Councilbeings have a little trouble with not-preaching part, while others seem to be having trouble with both Godliness and abiding by the law...

I hope my little camera can catch the same view my eye found Friday afternoon; the image is striking. And, for the more frothing-at-the-mouth one way or t'other, perhaps it might be a reminder that these institutions can and do co-exist quite smoothly.
* I can't substantiate it but supposedly Indianapolis's ban of saloons included language courts held to imply forbidding them only along named streets, so the bars nailed up the front doors and hung signs out back. There are a few left that still do! But at the time, the city simply named the alleys. Sneak-y.

Rule Two Violation In WaPo

...In an AP (well, of course) photo above Eugene Robinson's very grudging admission that the Second Amendment means what it says. (A wink and a nod to Turk Turon for the link).

Of course, he also thinks putting guns in the hands of the law-abiding will somehow result in a statistically significant uptick in homicides, then shares this deep and abiding insight, "I think the idea that the Founders' 'original intent' should govern every interpretation of the Constitution is loony -- as if men who wrote with quill pens could somehow devise a blueprint for regulating the Internet."

Yeah, Mr. Robinson, 'cos human nature has changed in drastic and fundamental ways since the late 1700s? Because "freedom of speech and of the press" could not possibly refer to electronic media, even the fat pipe of easy and widespread Internet access? (Only shouting from soapboxes and printing with a manual press using hand-set type are protected, yeah sure). Because making "... no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" could not possibly include Sci3nt0l0gy, Unitarians* or Hari Krishna d00ds?

It is not a matter of the technology those men used to record their thoughts but rather the quality and depth of those thoughts. A quill pen scratches along at about the rate most writers compose and far more rapidly than the thoughts of political philosopher can be organized and set down.

It is nothing but prejudice -- the blind arrogance of the materially privileged -- to sneer at our forebears as narrow, ignorant men because they lacked typewriters, ballpoints, indoor plumbing, electric lights and streetcars. They had their minds. They had the body of Biblical, Greek and Roman writings (and were often able to read them in the original language) along with nearly as much of modern Western philosophy as we have today. They had Shakespeare, Swift, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, algebra and calculus. Their time is not called The Age of Reason Enlightenment (oops) lightly. They were not savages, grunting at the first dim light of tomorrow; they knew the human mind and human heart for good and for ill.

It is true that some among the Founders and Framers were newspaper columnists. But we mustn't hold that against them, either.
* Like those icky John and John Q. Adamses. How durst they?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Should We Bake Them A Cake?

There ought to be some way for us People Of The Gun to show our appreciation of the good folks at SCOTUSblog, who labored under hugely more traffic than their usual and kept the blog running nevertheless. Well done!

And they've provided my morning chuckle, too, with a posting in re Heller from aptly-named weenie Law Professor CarlT. Bogus, long-time source of PSH, who writes in part, "Surely, insurrectionism has had both James Madison and Edmund Burke spinning in their graves." Umm, gee, yeah, except Madison didn't need to be dead to hear about it; his ol' pal Thomas Jefferson was wont at the time to muse that a revolt every ten or twenty years would be about right. Did'ja miss that sidebar, Prof?

I'm forever amazed at these guys who so trust The State they'd deny the right of the People to resist tyranny. Wonder if he has a big poster of the Tian An Men Square Tank Guy with big ol' red circle-and-slash negation symbol over it -- or is it okay to stand up to The Man as long as you're unarmed and get vanished for it?

Awww, Professor Bogus, who's the sad clown? Heheheh.


Lost in the delight over the news of Heller today, the gang of happy boffins running the Phoenix probe on Mars were smiling even broader when tests showed the soil could support life. Oh, you'd have to bring a bushel back here to grow asparagus in it but it is a bigger deal than you might think.

"So what," you might say, "dirt's dirt!"
Which it sort of is, except when it's not: for quite some time now, the best guess was that Martian soil was loaded with superoxides, more alkaline than household bleach. It would not be farmin' material.

So today's news changes the possibilities. Life on Mars just became a little more possible.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Yayy, Hooray!

I'm thinkin' of makin' a T-shirt, with


in some heavy block font and a 1911 (or, better still, Chief Lanier ya ditzy schmuckette[1], a .500-or-bigger-bore revolver) kind of watermarked into it. Whattaya think?

We need to remember -- as so very many have pointed out -- that Heller is not an endpoint but more like a ticket to ride and that there are still plenty of trains we've got to catch. Nevertheless, recognition of the Second Amendment as protecting an individual right (a pre-existing individual right, high-five t'th High Court majority) is the keystone in the bridge to tomorrow.

A point of which I've not seen mention: The United States just got uniquer[2]. We were already just about alone in the world with respect to firearms; and now we're the only nation I know of where previous restrictions of the inalienable, inherent right to self-defense and the keeping of arms have been rolled back.

Think of it for just a moment: your shooting hobby -- let alone carrying for self-defense -- would be nearly impossible in most of the "First World" countries save Switzerland, utterly impossible in a few; and hardly easier in the next tier of nations. Nope, the States are just about alone in this wonderful idea that you have a right to defend yourself against aggression using the most effective means the human mind and hand has yet produced. Here, even The Fed'ral Gummit has admitted your life has value and you've a right to the best tools to protect it. Everywhere else, well, y'might be dog food. The baddie you stop in Britain may get you haled up on criminal charges for preserving your own life in your own home.

Other countries have many positive attributes but on the whole? I like it here. I like a place that doesn't prevent me stopping rapists and strongarm robbers right at the source.

Hey, Michelle O? I have never been prouder of the United States of America than I am today. Put that in your pie and smoke slice[3] it.
1. Ew. Ghastly.
2. Yes! Not a word and not even a logical notion. Work with me here?
3. Thanks, Tam! It is the better word.

Hang. Up. And. Drive.

Not only is it better for your driving, it keeps governments from finding an excuse to meddle. Check the (nanny) states cited in the linked article for their cel-and-drive laws: Californiastan and Novy York. Get the picture?

...Yes, I make the occasional call from the car, too. Even with a Bluetooth headset and eyes-free dialing (by touch, voicedialing would be nice but, $$), my attention to the primary (and life-preserving!) task is perceptibly lessened. H'mm, ask Tam to set the table or ohholycow NOT HIT THAT TRUCK! Which is the most important? Decisions, decisions.

Like other risky actions, the dangers of phoning while driving can be lessened by careful choice of time and conditions and a heightened awareness directed towards the primary task. Just keep yourself from becoming a statistic by use of some means other than dumb luck, please.

Do celphones make people ruder or do the inconsiderate find geater scope for their irritatingness through celphones? I pulled off the Monon Trail at the turnaround point of yesterday's ride to find a cel-yakking-enabled young person in a large car parked square across where the trail joins a strip-center paking lot, leaving barely room to get by if riders turned abruptly. (Gave me quite the dirty look when I did). The spot is posted not to park in and there were plenty of empty spaces in the lot. Thanks, Citizen!

Sheesh. Where's that clue-by-four?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bizzy Day

...Woke up and blogged, drove to work 'cos it was supposed to be stormy (yeah, well, it was, but not when I was commuting), called home and reminded my roomie of the new market opening up not outrageously far away when I saw a news item of ribs being grilled for shoppers (all et up when she got there, drat), got outta work on time for once, went to the new Super-Duper Market myself (it really was wonderful but jam-dammit packed with people who were, mostly, socializing), came back home, set up dinner (Purina Girl Chow: a nice mixed salad!), stuffed it in the fridge, went and rode two miles on my bicycle, popped the Magic Garage Door Opener as I came up the alley, made a graceful, sweeping curve and realized halfway through it that I was going too fast. Bumped the brakes, locked up both wheels, felt the back skid out from under me and lowsided at less than 5 mph.

Did a nice gentle fall since most of my forward momentum was gone by the time I was moving faceplantwards, caught myself on my hands and the balls of my feet and would have been standing again about as soon as takes to bounce back up were it not for the need to lift up the bike. Still, it's a maneuver that has nothing to recommend it and it was not at all improved by the small boy peering over a fence across the alley.

And dinner was decent, too. Had some wasabi* whatever mix on the side for crunch. Delightful! Now, if there were only gracefulness pills I could take....
* "Wasabi," a word not, ferthluvva, in Blogger's dictonary! Hello? Hellooo? Do they keep you poor sods trapped under a rock, doin' The Innarwebz on a Curta Calculator via landline telegraphy and drinking dandelion-root tea?

Let The Hand-Wringing Begin!

With the Heller decision not even yet released, the cringing nanny-ninnies are already goin' all fluttery over it. To wit (or witless?), Atlanta's Mayor along Shirley's little helpers, a cinquefecta of trembling Mayors; and not only from way out Left in Trenton, New Mobsey and PSHan Francisco but even Miami. Wha hop'? Did the Mayor there miss what happened in the Sunshine State after legal carry was made easier or does he just not care? (From Jacob, who aptly fisks the whole notion with special, not-to-be-missed attention to New York's laws, via Sebastian).

The guest editorial in question has got it all, from the specious implication that the Supremes have previously held the Second Amendment to not be an individual right to unproven assertions of a linkage between restrictive firearms laws and reduction in violent crime. (By that yardstick, Chicago should have far less crime than Indianapolis; in fact, the Windy City usually beats us for criminality even if we leave the denizens of the respective City Halls* out of the stats). She even gives us "community leaders" as The Great Benign Father Here To Lead The Ignert Savages To Civilisation, a meme I thought died moaning as the sun set on the empires of the 19th Century. Really, if she'd managed to blow a kiss to Che, Hugo or Fidel, the bouquet would be complete.

As if to prove irony is fireproof, Mayor Franklin cites a shooting (of The Children, 'cos that's even more heart-wrenchingly useful to her ends) in Chicago to "prove" her point about unregulated handguns being bad. Unpossible! Handguns are already prohibited there and long guns harshly restricted. And it didn't help. Those disallowed the means to defend themselves died of it at the hands of baddies who ignored the law. Gee, criminals unconcerned about adding one more crime to their tab, who would have thunk it?

Then the high price of crime is put in play. Hmpf. Memo to Ms. Franklin: If you're so all-fired concerned about the budgetary impact of violent crime (another of her crying points), you would do well to remember that legally-armed citizens thwart a huge number of crimes every year at no cost to any taxpayer but themselves. Hows that for a win-win? Conversely, if you abet malefactors by disarming the law-abiding, you are making the problem worse and enlarging the victim pool.

We really should adopt some sort of intelligence and critical reasoning skill test as a prerequisite to holding public office. It would put a whoooooole lotta "Benign" Great Leaders outta work. Benign, benighted, potato, potahtoe. Most of them would do their finest public service picking up litter.
* Actually the City-County Building here after they melted City and County Gummits together for streamlined irksomeness.

Ahead Of Schedule

Lucky number 50,000: Thank you, Virginian! (Click to embiggenate)

In related news, my Technorati ranking is finally below 100,000. Nobody ever chants (or do they?), "I'm number ninety-nine thousand and some!" but it's still pretty neat. Thank you all.

Power Tools vs. The Right Tool

Past my bedtime so this will be quick. Tonight, I installed a vent on the hallway door that keeps the two cat-families apart. The vent should help a lot with the air-conditioning here at Roseholme Cottage.

Last week, I picked up one of these "rotary cutter" attachments for my Dremel, thinking that would simplify the whole thing. It's an old, two-panel door, so all I had to do was mark it and drrrrrr, the Dremel + attachement would let me cut a nice, neat opening for the vent.

Only not. Old 3/8" plywood and single-speed Dremel: the bit hit the wood, I cut slowly, and smoke began to trickle. H'mm. Applied even less pressure, still smokes. Changed spiral downcutter bits to a coarser one, same result. Y'know, maybe I should have ponied up the extra bux for a variable-speed version, way back when. Or just bought a purpose-built rotary cutter. But I didn't and Ted's All-Nite Drivethru Tool Outlet* is closed anyhow.

What to do? Easy: head down to the basement, grab the proper Japanese handsaw, and have at it, using the annoying rotary thingie only to make a starting cut. Why didn't I start out with this plan? The ryoba cuts about three times as fast with a quarter of the noise, the kerf is a nice thin straight line, and the traditional long handle means I can lay hold of it with both hands.

If you work with wood and have never used a Japanese-style handsaw, you are missing a treat. The tooth pattern is very aggressive but leaves remarkable smooth edges; they cut on the pull stroke and once you adjust to it, buckling saw blades will never bother you again. Best of all, they require remarkably little effort.

Having learned my lesson, I drilled the holes for the bolts that hold the vent grille with an old and very nice Craftsman (made by Stanley near as I can tell) handcranked drill. A good sharp awl and a decent level made the project pretty easy.

And air circulation is markedly improved!
* Motto: "We don't actually exist." A pity.

Fifty Kay

At some point today, some lucky reader will be the 50,000th customer served here at my Adventures. And that individual will win....the honor of being the fifty thousandeth! Yayyyy!

My warmest thanks to you all, to everyone who has linked to this blog and every reader who found something here of at least passing interest. I just write the stuff -- you're the ones that make the odometer tick over.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

BlogMeet Goodness

Updates: first pix (and a report) at Baby Troll Blog! Head on over and leave a comment. More photos and commentary at The Breda Fallacy and Call Me Ahab. (What Breda says about wittiness of attendees and being a bit overwhelmed goes for me, too!) It turns out Frank W. James had excellent reason to miss the festivities, a much happier one than the "trying to get the crops above water" many of us were worried about. Mike (of Mike & Breda) offers interesting commentary on life sparked during the drive back and Breda has an update on the blogmeet and her trip there and back (be sure you look at her riverwalk photo. It's stunning).

My jaw muscles hurt from grinning! I expected a few folks; Breda and Mike were for-sure attendees and Turk Turon had delightfully surprised me with his vow to hop the next flight out of Turonistan; Old Grouch was almost certain to be there and we were hoping for Red and his spouse. So, counting Tam and me, eight.

...Which is what I told our waitress when we arrived at the just-opening bar. "More than six, we'd prefer you sat inside," she ruled.

So we did. There's a nice loooong bench seat fronted by small tables and chairs in a kind of an alcove along one side of the building, and I thought we might take up a quarter of it.

Then folks started showing up.
Then more.
And more.

And we filled that section of the brewpub.

All 23 of us!

Six blog-readers, commenters (including Rob K and Shermlock-- except it seems both of them are bloggers!) or lurkers, bloggers mentioned above plus Caleb, Mark Alger and SWMBO, a local and recently-retired blogger, a surprise guest, the redoubtable James R. Rummel, Jerry --and I have lost track. It was a wonderful time! If you were there and have been left out -- I am missing bloggers to whom I would very much like to link -- drop me e-mail and I'll add you (and a link, if applicable).

With 23 people at a long table, at any given time five or six conversations were going at once and people were moving around to chat with one another. It was chaotic, fun and a bit like a real-life version of blog-surfing!

Prizes: Breda won an unsual hat for showing up ('cos we all wanted to meet her and Mike!) and to help her fend off the Octopode Menace. Turk received the Rummel Award for Longest-Travelled[1], which is a drink of the winner's choice. Turk chose the Sampler: eight small glasses, each filled with a different one of the in-house brews.

My head's still spinnin'. There was much good eating (I had Steak Cheviche salad, yum!) and the last few of of us strolled down the Monon and Central Canal trails to the Turtle-Upholding sculpture, then back along Westfield Boulevard[2] for some shaved ice. (Note: do not pronounce "shaved ice" in a bad mock-Southern accent unless you are willing to giggle. Really). Tam was delighted to learn that "tiger blood" is a flavor. Ew.

It was a grand time and yes, we are planning another. See you there?

(Photos will follow -- I'm relying on the kindness of friends for them, as I left my camera at home).

PS: You know, us gunnie-gals are a good-lookin' lot! --And the fellers are easy on the eyes, too.
1. Note this award is solely at the discretion of the committee-of-one who awards it.
2. Here's a Riparian intersection: It looks like a nice, square-ish four-way intersecton. It's not. Westfield Blvd. enters Southbound and departs Westbound; Winthrop Ave. enters Northbound and quits. The Eastbound street, I'm not even sure it has a name (Google thinks it's Westfield Blvd, too!) but it should probably be 63rd Street if it does. Does that seem right to you? Old Grouch illustrates it!

George Carlin

The man who ensured I'd never hear "hot water heater" or "jumbo shrimp" with quite the same degree of acceptance left us recently and unexpectedly.

I often make snarky comments about misuse of language (while abusin' it my own self) and the person who first made me aware of language as the software our brains are running -- and why that mattered! -- was George Carlin. One of his great gifts was an original ear, the ability to hear a well-worn phrase or familiar term as though he was hearing it for the very first time and an even greater gift was his ability to then share that perception with an audience. I'm going to miss him.

In a world of fools and sheep, George Carlin was neither.

Planes, Trains And, Well, No

Not those, but once I was home from work, I hopped on my bicycle for a quick run to the market (about a two-mile round trip), left Tam with dinner fixin's and took the scooter to gas it up. (I'd've ridden the scooter to work Monday but I was ferrying stardrive parts back to the Nerve Center).

Quite a contrast between the two -- my bicycle is almost the tallest vehicle I own and has the largest-diameter wheels by a long margin, while the scooter buzzes along on 10" tires. But both of them are like flying.

...The bicycle is even more like a pair of seven-league boots. Friday, Tam and I headed to downtown Broadripple, me on my bike and her afoot. I rode all the way up, did the errands I needed to do, rode back and met her, rode back up, shopped a bit, and glided back home with a few side-trips and still arrived ahead of her. Tam's comment? "I've got to get myself a bicycle!" Darn right!

I love my scooter and have been riding it to work every day that wasn't stormy. Still, there's something magical about a bicycle.

Monday, June 23, 2008

We Must Remember They Are Fragile

Sad news from the neighborhood. On our way to the Blog Meet Sunday, Tam and I detoured to see the chawed-up street ('cos civil engineering in action is, like, kewl) but when we got there, whups, an ambulance was square in the middle of the street with blinkers going and we could see the paramedics hustling a stretcher along the diggings and neighbors milling about.

We turned and went, figuring our best contribution would be to stay out of the way. The Public Works crew has been shoring up the excavation as they move along but a steep-sided trench is a dangerous place to work; the old storm sewer was bedded in fine sand, cave-ins happen and my first thought was some poor guy had gotten buried.

Wrong. They only worked a half-day.

There are a lot of older folks hereabouts and Tam's guess was, perhaps one of them needed urgent medical attention.


It was a fairly young man and he was quite dead. Neighborhood rumor was he'd had a stressful day, went to the store for groceries and had a sudden heart attack walking back to his house. He fell over and passed on in a neighbor's front yard.

This happens to men more than women. Talking generally and statistically, I'm convinced men handle stress a little differently than women and given that these days, they've not many opportunities to slay the mighty elk or fearsome boar with only a spear, or go shirtless, don a Viing helm and invade England in a dragon-boat, the poor dears try to keep it in and the pressure gets worse and worse and -- boom. And it holds at least as true for the big, tough guys as it does the sensitive types and the ones who look high-risk for a coronary.

The chat shows tell us we have to get our menfolk to "talk about it," that they need to "share their feelings," and while there's some truth there (guys, tell the wimmin in yer life how ya feel about 'em every once in a while, pleeze ?), my take on it (having watched my own long-term relationship melt down and being the daughter of a Father With A Temper)* is most of the time it's better to leave 'em be when they're in a turbulent mood. Honest. Try an' draw 'em out and you're just needling them. It's not right. It just makes it all the worse for them.

I don't know how much of the rumored details of this tragedy past the bare facts are true and how much is merely idle speculation; I have elided and condensed what came to me. But it seems to me that not every vulnerability is obvious -- and not every argument needs to be won. There's no need to be a doormat but a judicious ear for when to use the soft answer that turneth away wrath is an important skill.
* Up to a certain level of boil, my Dad had an interesting anger-coping strategy: he would become hilariously, wickedly, snarkily funny. Rapier wit? The subject of Dad's wrath were fileted, most often in absentia.

Good Morning

...Busy day ahead, possibly including the Supreme Court in re Heller; also sad news from the neighborhood and Holy Cow, they are jackhammering up one of our streets! End to end. And digging a deep trench once they have the astoundingly-thick paving up. Supposedly addressing a storm drain bottleneck, of which I suspect we were upstream, so that's probably good news.

In-depth commentary will have to wait for this evening, as will further collection of Blog Meet related links: another week at the starship mines awaits!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

What If Heller Goes to...Heck?

I'm seeing a lot of confidence in the outcome of Heller and it is possible it will be entirely justified by the decision.

What if it isn't? Who's got a Plan B?

There are many possible outcomes, all the way from the High Court taking the Brady stinkfinger and telling us, "If you want a gun, join the National Guard!" to becoming delightfully Original Intent and ruling, "Shall not be infringed. Shall. Not. QED." What I expect is nuance; this is legalese for "weaseling." After all, they're lawyers. If they're not generating a great deal of paperwork covvered with impressive-looking verbiage, how would we know they'd been working at all?

The trouble with nuance is there's a lot of room for interpretation. On the other hand, better nuance than a blanket "no."

Just don't uncork the champagne before the chickens have hatched. The Supremes have a long, strange history of balking at gnats while swallowing Camels (or even Viceroys) whole. We'd best prepare for the worst while hoping for the best.

Oh, Like That's Important?

This just in: Science determines sarcasm is a vital part of social interaction.


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Indy Blog Meet

For the record, three times so you can be sure it is true:

You do not have to be a blogger to attend tomorrow's Indy BlogMeet.
You do not have to be a blogger to attend tomorrow's Indy Blog Meet.
You do not have to be a blogger to attend tomorrow's Indy Blogmeet.

...But if you can get there without being a blog reader and still know what's what, I wanna know how. Tentacle mulepathy?

Tim Russert Update

Not the tired Franco joke, not more snarking at the media -- most of whom did have the twin excuses of having known him and not understanding the world is more than NYC-DC-Paris-London-Chicago-LA-and-"other."

Nope. Serious news: nitwit Fred Phelps and his followers came to gloat at the man's funeral. With versions of his usual cute little signs. Rachael Lucas has more.

I have worked for, with and in charge of plenty of people who took their Christianity straight up, with unadorned literalism and a twist of hellfire for the unredeemed and mostly, they were all right people to be around. Sure, we didn't agree on a few thousand basic issues (which we tended to avoid discussing -- call us cop-outs if you will), but that didn't keep 'em from bein' okay enough and if they found my tone-deafness to religion obnoxious, they were willin' to overlook it. A few were jerks. I don't know of any of them who would do the sort of gravedancing Fred and his brood indulge in. Gah.

This is the sort of thing that gives a faith a bad name. It's not ijit-bombering but it's a precursor.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Mike Kohl On...

...R-n P--l and the Republicans. His conclusion makes sense. Worth reading even if you don't agree.


Tam is no longer allowed to consume diary products. I'm just sayin'

Computer room not all that big.

Sunday: Indy Blogmeet. BlogMeet. Blog Meet. Whaddevah!

It's almost here!

The Next Indy BlogMeet will be this Sunday, 22 June, 3:00 pm at Broad Ripple Brew Pub.

Hoping to see you there!

I Think They Are Huffing It

Much of Indianapolis is parklike, with mature trees and wildlife -- not just the usual chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits, 'possums and raccoons, either; I've seen red foxes, coyotes aren't unknown and the bird population includes everything from hummingbirds to hyperactive woodpeckers and Great Blue Herons. Turtles abound in the Central Canal, along with some semi-aquatic mammal, anyone's guess between muskrats and plain ol' rats.

And bugs. Droning "locusts" are pretty common; they have their peak years but every year there are a few who failed Alarm-Setting 101 and woke up off-peak, with brand-new wings an' boombox.[1]

But it is not the common (and tasty![2]) cicada of which I have come to sing, oh, no! Nor even the humble housefly. Nope. 'Tis another gift of Life With Natchah, the hardworkin' ant.

I don't dislike ants, especially the big red and black ants that work outdoors and keep the place cleaned up. But indoors they are not welcome. At various homes, I've dealt with few invasions by tiny, nasty "grease ants" and usually an offering of commercial Take-This-Poison-To-Thy-Queen ant remover will clear 'em out.

At Roseholme, we started getting medium-sized, light-fearing ants near the coffee area. (They utilize cover and flee when exposed. Have they been studyin' the cockroach edition of The Art Of War?) So we took a page from Snow White and set out our "poison apple" (as 'twere) and waited for that last carving of "Croatoan" to appear....

Ha! The only change has been that the ant-raiders are acting stoned. They run in circles, take mad chances and sometimes stop in outright defiance, antennae and forelegs waving madly, as the Thumb Of Doom descends.

I can't be certain but I suspect the the thieving ant-daughters are huffing the poison. Eeeeeeeeee!

The Greenies can't yet hale me up on suspicion of contributing to the moral turpitude of social insects of the family Formicidae, can they?
1. Completely off-topic but amazin': one Summer, the ex and I went down to shoot at Atterbury and near the range, an entire field of cicadas was making the other noise they can make, a "courtship song" as opposed to the "calling song," a quieter, eerie UFO-landing trill that rises and falls very gradually. (Found a time-lapse video of one moulting on Wikpedia and exclaimed with delight, "They're like troll faeries!" to Tam, who replied, "Ick. Spare me." Sometimes I'm too fanciful).

2. Me: (reading Wiki subheads) "Culinary uses of the cicada..."
Tam: "Our Lord wept! Ew. What has got you on this cicada kick?"
Wow. I am so not setttin' out that nice dish of fried grasshoppers. Also, here's your explaination, roomie. Such as it is.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Okay, Now I'm Happy

HDTV For Kids coloring book at BoingBoing

The Great AP Flap

Updates at unassociated press. Backstory here; note the bottom line is still pay-to-play. My own update: Look, it's AP's content. If they don't wanna play by the rules previously established (by which bloggers quoted and sent readers to them for the whole story), go find sources that will and leave them with their dead-tree and broadcast fossils.

Unless you have been exploring Deepest Nomediastan, you have by now heard of AP's plan to charge bloggers for quotes.

How can they get away with it? Blame Sun Myung Moon. Or better yet, the times. AP once had a counterweight, a foil: United Press International (at the end-user end, purple ink on yellow paper as opposed to AP's black-on-white, but I digress). AP was -- and I think still is -- a consortium of newspapers: an entity is an AP member rather than a customer and if you are boycotting the Associated Press but using items from some newspaper's site, better check the fine print. Contrarily, UPI was a wire service that sold copy to anyone with the price to play: smaller and scrappier than AP and usually more aggressive. Also gone now: when times got hard for the fishwrap media, the outfits that served them went to the wall first. Since AP was more tightly integrated with the papers it served, it lived.

So there's no real alternative to AP, right? Only game in town, hey? OMG!

Unlax, Robinson.

Town's a bit bigger these days. Ever hear of Reuters? (And you only thought the NYT was blood-pressure-raising!) Agence France-Presse? (ditto) ITAR-TASS? Sadly, the International Herald-Tribune is now owned by the NYT, but their content not used by (or sourced from) AP might be usable and useful.

Plus there are other blogs, content from local media (TV and radio in addition to papers) and -- if you're near the scene -- the simple expedient of getting out there yourself, with or without a camera and a palmtop/notebook/audio recorder, whatever works for you.

AP? Fried dodo with a side of passenger pigeon again? Hmpf. I'll pass.

Voting For The Prexi- Plesi- The Big Guy

I have written on the topic before.

Mr. Obama is Right Out for me. Skin color? Nope; in fact, I took a closer look at him than I usually give Democrat candidates on account of some of his ancestors hailin' from Africa and I suppose that was unfair, but a thumb in the eye of nitwits who think genetics tell the whole story would have been nice. It's his scary-Left policies of heavily taxin' people who work for a living to support the indigent while telling us it's for our own good that bugs me; it's that "you'll have to give up a piece of your pie," when I already can't afford pie -- nor pay to hold my thermostat at 72. (And what's yours set at, Senator? Have any pie this week, hey?) He seems to be clueless about many issues and only too willing to toe the party line on many more -- like, oh, drillin' for oil within the territory of the United States. His fellows in the Federal legislature appear to be drooling over the prospect of nationalizing oil companies; when you consider the Feds could not even run a house of prostitution in such wise as to meet the payroll and overhead, I am ill-inclined to think they'd do any better with oil. And then there's the little matter of him not bein' at all cool with gun-owners and carryin'; that's a show-stopper for me.

Then we have Mr. McCain. Fearless foe of the First Amendment and the "fallback date" for the Democrats wanting to experiment with bipartisanship. He's eternally pleased to compromise,* no matter what. Oh, I kind of like his bad temper -- politicians need to spend more time spatting with one another and less time meddling with citizens -- but it's not backed up by much of a spine, so what real use is it? In recent years, his party has majorly failed to demonstrate the kind of fiscal restraint that once made it my first choice, choosing to concentrate on social conservatism, promoting the regulation of private, peaceable behavior in a manner that made me look askance. On guns, well, he did show up at the NRA convention but it looked to me it was the usual Republican deal with gun owners: they'll take us to the Prom 'cos they gotta but don't expect to get any dances. Nor do his Veep choices-as-reported offer any better prospects.

That leaves us with Bob Barr. Seems like a nice guy, social conservative, fiscal conservative, old-fashioned Republican. He'd be a pretty good fit for a conservative party, maybe the Constitution Party. But the Libertarian Party? Man's havin' to back and fill and no matter how much I might like the LP's platform in most respects, it seems like no favor for Mr. Barr to publicly endorse notions that privately may well leave him feeling squeamish. Oh, he'll kiss 'em but he may be gargling household ammonia afterwards. It's certainly not libertarian: remember that "Party of Conscience" line? Guess it was just a slogan. If I'd hear some more "I can't stand it myself but it's not the FedGov's biz" from him, I'd be happier. (And who knows, he just may. --I like him on fiscal policy and limits on the Feds).

What've I got? One major disaster, one disappointment and one guy who may be having to hold his nose to run, all three of whom would happily bite the head off a bald eagle if it would assure them of winnin' the Pesidency of this here Fed'ral Onion. I'll vote, come the Fall, but right now I'll bedarned if there's anyone I'll be pleased to vote for.
* Ayn Rand: "There can be no compromise between a property owner and a burglar; offering the burglar a single teaspoon of one’s silverware would not be a compromise, but a total surrender—the recognition of his right to one’s property."

Teh Aliens Have Our Pi

Oooo, noes! According to this news item, a crop circle found in England contains the first ten digits of pi, encoded as radial sectors.

...Ahem. In base 10. With an obvious decimal point. Look, let's say you are a nonhuman alien (yes, you, sir, the fellow in the back). Despite your having, say, eight digits (arranged on three arms: three, three and two) and using trinary notation, you have doped out our symbols well enough to know we're into base 10 and use either a period or a comma to indicate subdivided values of one; you are even hip enough to get which the Brits prefer. Knowing all that -- and it's less obvious than it sounds -- you then concoct a silly scheme to show you, just like the Babylonians, can approximate the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter and when you apply your glyph to the green'n'peasant* lands, you -- wait for it -- end with a stylised ellipsis to show you know it is an irrational number that just keeps on going, 'cos you know mathematical notation is, like, universal. (Go look).

Two possibilities:
A) Genius nonhuman juvenile delinquents doin' the galactic version of a mega-witty tagging job on farm fields in an odd corner of a small planet to bedazzle the benighted.
II. Crown subjects with too much time on their hands and no respect for private property.

Mr. Occam, the envelope if you pleeeeze....?
* Yah, yah, I know where they were a-goin' t'build Jerusalem but lookit your hooligans, your laws and your towns laced with cameras and tell me "pleasant" without a trace of irony.

Blipverts Are Killing Viewers!

In2TV has quite a lot of Max Headroom available online! Proto-cyberpunk SF, of course it didn't last too long on teh t00b. But it was fun while it lasted -- and only too close to home.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Tax On Gullibility

This. Yes, it's a nine five*-foot, five hundred dollar standard network cable. ...Let us remember for the teensiest second that the maker runs some very non-standard stuff down the cat. 5 pipe -- but only for a second. Ah, nothing like selling things to people with oxygen-free brains!

In other news, I woke up with Ever-Flowing Sinuses, most unusual for me and then reacted oddly to over-the-counter allergy medicine (i.e., fell over asleep in the middle of whatever I was doing, no matter how hard I tried not to). Managed therefore to accomplish nearly nothing today. Not proud of it, but if you were wondering where the lavishly-illustrated and lushly-described posting on the day's adventures had got to, this is it.
* Thanks, Og.

Beat The Odds

...And stayed mostly asleep until ten ayem. Ha-ha! (With a short break, eight-ish, to feed the cats and change their litter). Sure, this will be reflected in the day's hit total but if I haven't mentioned it yet, I'm on vacation this week. So I get at least one sleep-in.

On today's dance-card, hauling Tam by main force to the World War Memorial (pix to follow, with luck), doing some odd things to improve air-flow at Roseholme and starting to at least reassemble the desk upon which to set up my ham station. (That latter? WANT. Majorly). Plus one mission o'mercy for work.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Get Uuuuup!

"If you don't have a post up by nine, it cuts into your hit total for that day." Even sung happily at the door of my room, there's no good awakening response to that.

Except, mayhap, "I don't blog for a living."

On the other hand, I did toddle off to dreamland eight hours ago and that was after a nap. >blush< So here I am, with Slinky The Perpetually Half-Grown Cat on my lap, posting something. I wonder if there's coffee?

Monday, June 16, 2008

From An Airgun Review

"Things I liked: Feels solid in your hands! The light is super bright, but doesn't have much practical use as I don't think it has enough power to kill small animals.."

D00d, that's too bright!

Really, it was one heckuva a language once. You shoulda seen it. What? Too busy hunting ants with a magnifying glass? Hmpf.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Crunching Numbers By Real Crunches

Tam wrote of Babbage; Og goes from Persia to Armonk, NY in easy steps. Me? I give you The Meccano Brain. (Look around, he's done plenty).

Oh, don't thank me, go read Michael Flynn's In The Country Of The Blind or even Gibson and Sterling's The Difference Engine if you haven't already. Somebody I know has a handy Amazon link for the purchase of such books.


Black Conservatives Conflicted on Obama.

Not so much, even in the linked article; but the goofball media so very much want everyone's skin color to be their uniform, don't they? Sheesh.

'Scuse me. I gotta get to the non-segregated washroom and barf.

Happy Fath--

This my second Father's Day without my Dad. His last several years, the lights had been dimming for him but the past was still in focus. Just the other day, I was thinking about the "streamlined church" (like something from the '39/40 NYC World's Fair, only better) somewhere here in Indiana, I can never remember where, and thought, "I'll have to ask Dad." Only I can't. There's still a big old Dad-shaped hole where he was.

Looking at the nifty Allstate scooter yesterday, the salesman said, "That's the machine that ended it for Cushman," and I was reminded Dad had had one (threw a rod one day while he was riding along, an experience he didn't recommend).

I'm not especially close to my family. I'm a pretty difficult person generally and my job often results in inflexible, odd hours on three-day's notice at best. Out of a good half-dozen weddings for my siblings, nieces and nephews, I've managed to attend one (1).

It doesn't keep me from missing them.

Sometime today, I'll stop by the tiny cemetery that holds the family plot, at least three generations, probably not yet mowed by the greasy little weasel that inherited the place. I'll spend a little time with my Dad. There aren't any more answers or anecdotes but that place -- well within his roaming grounds growing up, well within many of his stories -- is Dad's last little spot on this earth.

Wooden Computing

It's all Staghounds fault! From his start, I ended up here and it was all over.

H'mmm, I may have to sell Tam's car to finance this. And that would be fatal.

So That's Why I'm Single

Doin' the world a favor, I am:


As a 1930s wife, I am

Take the test!

Snippets From A Road Trip

"You better point that thing somewhere else if you want it to make a round trip!" Y'know, some folks just plain don't like having amateur snapshots taken -- or was it the Elbow Of Doom? (See reflection)

Tam and I took a roadtrip Saturday. Sadly, I did not take a pic of the very nice '50s-vintage Allstate scooter we saw at a small-town car dealership, but take my word, this "Sears Vespa" was nice -- all bright red with cream trim, a single-seater with the old-style cargo rack.

Before we'd even left Indy, the freeway took us past an impressive brick building, sort of Federal revival, a bit unkempt and obviously empty. Across the facade, signage: THE NICE LAWYERS. A smaller sign in the unmown lawn advertised For Lease. Correlation might not always be causation but one does wonder.

Farther down the road, "James Joyce Truck Sales." Sure, the prices are good but the contact's a thousand pages long and some of the language is a bit off-kilter....

Then there was the church with a line of drive-up spaces way at the back of the grounds, each one with a drive-in movie speaker ready on on its post, just the thing for late arrivals. Do they have roller-skating ushers for Communion Sundays, do you think?

In contrast, in our destination city, a business along the highway made me snicker so loud I about had to pull over: Cox's Smoker's Supplies. I've heard the boys at work call each other that, I think, but only when they are very, very angry.

On the way back, a billboard: artsy black-and-white photo of a young woman and her shadow; she's slender, her shadow's some months along. Text: "Pregnant? Need Help?" And an unreadable telephone number; I'm hoping it wasn't that of a lonely Lothario, but one never knows.

You see some interesting vehicles on the interstate, not all of them under their own power. In addition to the nice custom, there were more motorcycles than I have ever seen. Welcome to the new world of $4.00+ a gallon gas.

Closer to Indy, a pair of ginormous full-color, full-motion, bright in sunlight video billboards, the first I've seen. Maybe they're old hat where you live but for me, it was a real "living in the future" moment. Paging Ridley Scott!

Heard on the radio: Marcy Playground, like Jim Morrisson in an especially ill mood. Plus INXS and Edie Brickell and some other interesting stuff. I need to listen to the radio either less or more. Just now I'm not sure which.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

These Are The Pearls That Were His Eyes

Update: Michelle Malkin, quicker off the starting block with the story, has a better take on the man. She wrote as NBC's grief-fest was just getting underway. (H/T to The Liberty Sphere). Three days on, I stand by my own opinion:

Enough already!

Okay. Tim Russert is dead. He was an all-right guy, as newsies go; I've met him and he was a bit better than all right. (Hey, he was a good sport and played along when the TV series Homicide gave him a fictional cousin, even). And his co-workers miss him already. I get that.

Now lay off! The news media are not the story.

Really. Eric Severied, a man with a possibly checkered past, one of the better writers the talkie media have produced and a generally amazing guy, got his last 30* in 1992 and his network did not drape itself in black crepe and weep.

Harry Reasoner went in '91. His way with words is still commented upon. Did his peers don sackcloth and ashes? --If they did, they kept their mouths shut other than reporting the story and doing a decent bio. When you consider that "peers" in this context includes the entire soggily-emoting CBS News staff, well, golly. Gould it be that even that lot were dimly aware that they are not the story?

Chet Huntley said his last "Goodnight, David" in '74 and Brinkley departed much later (and with a little more fanfare -- a couple of minutes each on the morning show and the evening network news, if I remember), in 2003, though not before redefining the very kind of Sunday political roundtable where Tim Russert would later make his mark .

...I could go on. We lost a generation of network news reporters and commentators in the last twenty years; while most of them were way too far Left to suit me, a good many of them were, at least, suspicious of Authority for its own sake, wonderfully cynical about the intentions and good sense of politicians and, to a man, they could write and speak effectively. And they all died and are gone, to very little fanfare.

There is no dearth of news today but there just may be a glut of newsreaders and a lack of reporters. The easy story is the one right down the hall and the easy story that "speaks to the heart" is the one that speaks directly to the writer's heart. NBC News, I'm sorry you lost a skilled colleague and a well-liked friend but he is not the news. Report his death, cry in private and get back to work.

--And man up a little, willya? It's creepy to see grown up men blathering like schoolgirls. Ew.
* "30" is what you put at the end of a written story -- news or fiction; anything after that isn't for publication. Often typed -30- or ###. It's a "Philips code" abbreviation at least as old as telegraphic newswires, an example of one of the very first (and highly successful) data-compression schemes. An old-timey press telegrapher would type away at about twice as many words per minute as the incoming text, translating to plain language on the fly.

Friday, June 13, 2008


By a chain of links and hops which should be fairly obvious (okay, it was via a rilly kewl post by Breda), I ended up at a very fine (mildly NSFW) Art Blog you may enjoy, if your taste in Art is skewed enough the same direction as mine.

I was hooked by the "flowers as critters" painting. Always did like tigerlilies and snapdragons!

Fans of Discworld might like this artist.

It's A Menace! A Crime Wave!

Lucky for us, Law Enforcement Officers* of Easton, MD are on it whenever evildoers flout the Law: Man Arrested For Public Toplessness.

I feel ever so much safer now, really I do.

W. T. F.?
* I don't actually blame the police here, they didn't come up with this goofy law. It's simply too difficult to set the properly-askew Dragnet tone without mentioning them. "The story you have just seen is true. Only the names were changed-" except I didn't.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Teh Irony, I Can Has It?

Dateline: America, outside the borders of reason (courtesy Uncle):
[...W]hy isn't it legal to stop people walking down the street to see if they have a gun? I'm sick of reading in the newspaper day after day about the gun violence and everyone is up in arms about stopping it.
Some figure of speech, Mr. Po-lice State! I laughed 'til I wept ("Gun Culture? You're soaked in it!" Dude, ask a fish about water!) -- but the tears were real:
What is really being done -- a few protests where everyone is saying they want them off the streets, yet it's their families out there with them shooting up the streets like it's the Wild West."

Let's get real. Start stopping people and let's find out who is carrying guns and get them off our streets.



Duh, gee, Mark, d'y'know just what portion of those eeeevil guns folks are carryin' are doin' any "shootin' up the streets?" Less than one percent. And Mark? Some of your fellow New York subjects citizens er, residents are legally carrying guns right now. And in the more-civilized States? Quite a few are. An' they are not mowing down passers-by over harsh looks. Wooooooah!
Something like 99% of all men are equipped to be flashers. Yet amazingly, possession of the means of flashing does not translate into so doing. Why would carrying guns (rather louder and therefore noticeable well past line-of-sight) be any different?


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Don't Vote For Me

It'd look funny if I didn't mention it and the Para folks have been nothing but just plain nice to bloggers, but I mean it: Do. Not. Vote. For. Me.

Para's decided to send ten deserving gunbloggers (hey, we all deserve it!) chosen by your vote off to Summer Camp at Blackwater USA: a weekend of high-grade firearms training with no less than Todd Jarrett -- not to mention Michael Bane and crew for Downrange TV coverin' the action!

Sound like fun? It would be!

...It would be if I wasn't workin' about three out of every five weekends on average. It would be if I had the price of speedy transportation to Virginia to spare. I don't.

Go to the contest website, run down the list of gunblogs, and vote. You'll be registering for a chance at the #11 spot in the camp!

But not for me. Even free, it's too costly. >Sigh<

The Stocking Truth

"Pantyhose debate exposes age gap," said the ABC news online headline but the linked video did no such thing; instead, it was a story about a business in Kansas that required female employees to wear 'em, contrasted with some on-the-sidewalks interviews with NYC office workers, who mostly go bare-legged. (Hey, don't look at me, I wear jeans to work. Every day. And even denim get torn up. I do not fly a desk).

Meh. I was expectin' to hear that older businesstypes were wearin' hose and younger ones were not and would not have been surprised to see the Authorized Journalists miss the point of varicose veins and support hose, 'cos one does not stay toned and unmarked forever, especially drivin' a desk on wages that don't support serious workout time.

Hah! Not even a mention that women live past, say, 35. Which is kinda freaky, given that at least one of the reporters in the video is well past that age. Plenty of coverage of the new, modern, wowie instant spray-on tanners (oh, liberation: leg makeup. Yeah) and the obligatory Sex and the City clip, 'cos that's like real and now.

Old Media: missin' the mark by miles since the Nixon-Kennedy debates. Now more than ever.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Fair Use?

Cafe Press yanked all of Tam's Obama-critical items, citing copyright infringement and ignoring considerable precedent in re satire; oddly enough, they had no problem a'tall with her T-shirt chiding McCain. My goodness, who whould have thunk?

Not to worry: Zazzle to the rescue!

Lesson: Criticize a righty, Cafe Press or Zazzle; criticize a lefty, Zazzle only. Zazzle wins!

I'm thinkin' Busted Tees or maybe Threadless if my muse whacks me upside the head, I'm nowhere near normal enough for the other outfits. Better yet, one-off iron-ons!

Letters! We Get Letters...

D. W. Drang asks, in a comment to "Wall? Head. Rock, Paper, Scissors," a musing on the long slow and, one hopes, not overly tumultuous decline of Liberty followed by Western Civilization (still with me? Geesh, these hills aren't gettin' any shorter), the Cluemeter-wielder (I gave you a link, go see) asketh, "So, is the proximity of this to the link to the Letter From Cthulu significant...?"

H'mmm. Could be -- though let me admit right now, Cthulhu's dark advent would be a serious exception to my "not voting from the rooftops" policy. (Futile? Sure, but some outrages are not to be borne, period).

Nearly as outrageous and admitting of no such simple solution is our Congresscritter's increasing inability to comprehend their job description. Don't take my word for it -- even oldtime media pundits have noticed.

This November'll be a pretty big election. I find the range of Presidential choices unappetizing (and hope to blog more on the topic later) but there are a whole lot of other positions on the line. Most of 'em are people you can size up locally, ginks that have to get out and press the flesh and may even read their own mail and, unlike the President, they are in positions where they propose and enact legislation: L-A-W-S. These're the one that can really mess y'up if you mess up and let the ijits do all the electin'. They're not the caliber they once were but they could be even worse -- if you let 'em. Don't.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Bing-Bong, Cthulhu Calling!

I knew there was a reason I'd not put a "Why vote for the lesser evil?" sigil on my blog but the precise nature of that reason was no more than a dire and formless foreboding until today.

The rest of yez, looks like you'll be havin' to write "I will not meddle with the Elder Gods" on the blackboard 776,005 times. In your own blood. Eh, well, it's a-living....


Sunday, June 08, 2008


I followed most of Tam's recent Wikiwander in realtime, with digressions of my own along the way. Despite having read and enjoyed the book as a child (and the film version of James and The Giant Peach as a more-or-less adult), I hadn't realized the fellow I knew as a writer of creepy yarns also wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory -- nor that he'd been a fighter pilot.

Somehow we picked up the thread again today. While I was looking at airplanes, Tam found herself looking up J. R. R. Tolkein's grandson for a quite interesting reason that connects the two topics. The photo in that link gives a good sense of the art but not of the structure; we wondered if it was a flat cut-out, or what? The Wiki page doesn't say.

But do we live on a kewl planet at a kewl time? Oh, yeah. You can zoom in on the sculpture from orbit! Of course, there's also the more-conventional way to learn more. And no, it's not a flat cut-out.

Tam elected to hand this one to me (she may have a funny "overheard" post in the works) so here y'are.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Wall? Head. Rock, Paper, Scissors

...You know what's worse than violent disagreement? Violent agreement, when both parties are saying just almost exactly the same thing in different ways -- but so used to disagreement that each delivers rants and never quite hears one another.

Here's the thing: I believe all government is inherently flawed. Government has a built-in bias to perpetually increase its scope, authority and pervasiveness. The very best governments the minds of men have been able to devise only manage to slow this progress; I do not think it can be halted.

I would argue that the folks who write of sinister conspiracies are seeing patterns as one might see familiar shapes in clouds: that thunderhead might look like Mickey Mouse but let's be real, Disney didn't put it there. Nevertheless, the other fellows over there under the banner of "Progressive" are indeed progressing; not to some carefully-crafted socialist world state, not under any Master Plan and not alone: anyone out to "do good" using government for a tool, from "free" universal health care to "defending" marriage from same-sex couples is part of the problem. What business has government to meddle in such matters? None.

Barry Goldwater said it for me: "Any government powerful enough to give you whatever you want is also powerful enough to take it all away." The general version of Ugol's Law tells me that if such power exists, eventually it will be used. --Probably, in our clean, well-lit Western Civilized world, in a nice way, for our own good, with a touch so light and gentle...! But used, nevertheless.

And that's why it's so easy to wrapped around one's own axle over half-witted comparisons to Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia. Ain't gonna happen here that way, gang: never that fast, not that crudely-executed, and not that obviously. Sorry, those "mysterious fenced compounds" and the wilder rumors of unpunished battlefield atrocity are just agitprop.

Conversely, only a blind fool believes we -- the West, or our nation, or our State government or our friends and neighbors -- are so especially special that we could never ever possibly comprise the sort of totalitarian system of which history has seen so much; those so sure it could never happen here have no more wit than the Chicken Littles of the Left and Right claiming Der Tag is right around the corner. Sorry; there aren't any sharp corners left, wickedness is easy and evil banal, especially when it becomes widespread, even more so when the spread is gradual.

We are neither devils nor angels and neither is our government. While I am mostly convinced that liberty as the Founders saw it is a lost cause for Western Civ, I believe there is a lot left, centuries yet to go; and fighting a valiant rearguard action in defense of liberty is a matter of education, not "shooting the bastards."

Rome did not fall over a long weekend and our age has had a lot more history to learn from than did they. The ramparts you must man are the most difficult sort: metaphorical ones. Far less blood and thunder, far less thud and blunder and even the most heroic incur but little physical risk and garner little recognition. But if these battles are not fought -- or if they are engaged too foolishly, with the wrong weapons and on unfavorable terrain -- future generations will pay the price.

That's why I'm not "voting from the rooftops" and why I am voting in the more-traditional manner. And it's why I bother to blog.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Kids And Motorscooters

I'm no expert; what I say on the topic is just talk, not advice. If it was my kids, I'd turn into my Mom and say No. Possible. Way. Motorscooters are not safe. They cannot be made safe.

...But if you are gonna, here are some tips: Don't assume "cute" equals "harmless." A motorized two-wheeled vehicle is more dangerous to a youngster than a single-shot rifle, and just about as dangerous to bystanders. If you wouldn't hand a child or teen a .22, don't put them on a scooter.

Seriously consider MSF class for any would-be rider who qualifies for the course.

For a younger rider, maybe you should take the class -- and make copious notes.

The scooter itself? 50 cc or smaller. Automatic transmission. Modern-style, with a strong frame under the body components. Four-cycle engine, you'll be happier and the machine will last longer.

Manco imports pretty good Red Chinese machines and that's about as low as I'd go in quality. They come in under $1K new. Some Assembly (usually) Required, including some safety-critical items.

Better machines will last longer and offer better service support; look to your local scooter shop for the major brands. In Indianapolis, Speed City Scooters is the major dealer, from Vespa to Kymco. Genuine's Buddy 50 is a good example of this level. Yamaha and Honda also make very nice small scooters, both classic-looking and zoomy modern styles. If you buy used, look to the major brands first. No-name Chinese imports are cheaper but can be tricky to keep running and I would not buy one used.

Please remember that Junior and his kid sister believe themselves to be immortal. Good instruction, proper safety gear (helmet and gloves, minimum) and getting them to apply and use same is absolutely critical.

Riding can be a fun hobby and can build valuable skills. One of my coworkers rode a 125 cc motorcycle from the moment he had a license until he was able to buy a car himself, years later; his Dad figured he couldn't get into nearly as much trouble as he might in a car. He survived intact and is a skillful, careful driver. He also hasn't owned a motorcycle in decades. YMMV.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

So, Rev. Jackson Is Chopped Liver?

It's been gnawing at me for a good long while: Michelle Obama said her husband's primary run was the first time she felt proud of America.

I am no fan of Jesse Jackson but the man made a credible run for the Democratic nomination some years ago; I don't agree with his opinions on just about everything but look, lady, he put in the long hours and the baby-kissin' and the meetings and speeches, and people did not treat him like a singing pig. Every step your hubby took on the campaign trail? Reverend Jackson was there first.

Why didn't his effort make you proud?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Avant Moi, Le Déluge

...Though I don't think French "avant" supports both English meanings of "before." (or does it? Ah, the perils of an incomplete education). This deluge is more "below" as I sit and type.

"Welcome to Roseholme. Have you rainboots?" The [deleted][unbranching family tree][censored] [an act illegal in seven states] basement is leaking. Friday's sewer backup had been accompanied by some water leakage but what I'm getting now is far more intense. Of course the floor's not quite level, so puddles linger.

The floor had a lovely fresh paint job when first I saw it, about this time last year. I should have been suspicious then but was I? Not nearly enough! Old cracks have opened up and widened; at several points, tiny little fairy springs, streams of water no larger than a pencil lead, arc gracefully from the floor to a quarter-inch in height at apex and they do not look to be stopping any time soon. They'd be cute as can be in a garden water feature, but not in my basement! There's a consistent 1/8 to 1/4 inch of water on 75% of the floor. The drain is working, at least so far. The floor paint is bubbling a bit where water's forcing it up from below.

This is easily the worst post-rain leakage and it's singularly undelightful. Having a usable basement is part of what makes Roseholme work for two grrrl-geeks* of varied and wide interest: that's my radio shack, tube-type amateur gear storage, and my radio, leather and light woodworking shop down there. Most of my tools are in the basement. I can't have it leaking.

The humidifier's whirring away, at least, and I have things as well up off the floor as I can presently manage. But, friends, somewhere I've gotta find a reputable contractor and the funds t'pay him. Bedarned if I know where.
* Tam's gonna ask, "There's more than one geek here?" Look in the mirror, roomie; embrace your geekitude! ;>

And Under This Rock...

Update: I don't know if it was deliberate disinfo, FUD or just silly rumor but I'm callin' BS on myself: there's no evidence this video ever existed or that the rant happened at all. IMO, if it was available, it would have been leaked as the Dem primary went to the wire. It wasn't used; QED, it's vaporware.

Not quite breaking news, the other shoe has yet to be uploaded to YouTube, but it's only a matter of time.

It seems Mrs. Obama delivered a full-bore "blame whitey" rant* at, yes, you guessed it, Trinity United Church back in 2004. And the scuttlebutt is that it was well over the top.
Update: (And no, I am not especially ecstatic about this news. True or not, overblown or understated, it is painfully plausible and that's just sad).

Meanwhile, Senator Clinton has yet to concede. Any connection? I don't know; but I would not care to get between the Junior Senator from New York and anything she had her heart set on. She's got plenty of arrows left in her quiver, count on it.
* So, which of my ancestors is it that peeve you the most, Ma'am? The German farmers who arrived here after 1865, the long line of flat-broke Scots who were here well prior to 1776 and never had two pennies to rub t'gether, or the Cherokees who started out with not much and left all of it behind when they decided not to go along with President Jackson's notions and hied off to Ohio to successfully pass as American citizens instead? 'Cos while nobody made 'em sit in the back of the bus, they rarely had busfare to begin with. No one gets to pick their skin and none of us can control the actions and attitudes of our our ancestors; all any of us have is the here and now and the days to come.

They've Got A Little List

Ha! Haha, ha hahaha! SnarkyBytes (that much-travelled man) shares a web-find that proves my point, sports fans! They're savin' a seat for ya in the warm place!

See Item Four? Ha! And again, Ha!

As for me, I'm safe on that one and I have always been Temperance and never, ever, ever uttered a vile oath unminced. As far as you know.

In fact, I'd bet...

Oh, drat. Item 12, right up there at the top of the second column. And item six. Scoot over, willya?

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

You're Doing It Wrong

A report on one of the bigger radio-with-pictures old-media providers covered another effect of soaring gasoline prices: increased mass-transit ridership, Oh What A Surprise.

But alas, mused the talking head, some cities -- including Indianapolis -- that have not been stuffing whacking huge subsidies into their various BigCityVapidTransit services have to make a choice: they're having to turn away riders and as the price of diesel soars, will have to either reduce routes or hours, or raise taxes.

Now maybe it's just me but one option seems to be missing; certainly the Authorized Journalist did not so much as hint at it: Outside government-controlled endeavors, increasing demand and insufficient revenue would result in price increases. Look, if the service can't support itself even during boom demand, either it's not a needed service or your approach to providing it is incorrect. Picking my pocket even harder to prop it up is simply wrong.

I made my peace with high gas prices quite some while back. If you start out with not much, even a couple bucks a gallon is a lot to pay; I've ridden a bicycle for short trips for years (and mine's no toy: it can carry a week's groceries and often does) and started using my motor-scooter for longer travels shortly after buying it. Don't come to me with higher taxes 'cos you can't afford to gas up your leased super sport'emup non-utility vehicle!

Some of the "Public Utility" businesses may not ever be profitable but completely ignoring the possibility that they might manage to pay their own way bespeaks a mindset inimical to the approach that made the U. S. one of the best places in the world to live. It's a small thing, perhaps, but it's one more step down a path we travel to our own peril and our children's doom.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Security Theatre Knows No Border. Or Other Limit, Either

First, it was our very own TSA pants-wetting over penknives and gun-shaped keychain charms; then Canada's airplane-security geniuses got multi-level axle-wrapped over a tiny solid silver six-gun on a necklace. And now? Now, sharp-eyed screeners in that place where Great Britain once was* have kept us all safe -- safe, y'hear me? -- from a well-tummied IT boffin wearing a T-Shirt printed with a drawing of a robot holding a gun-like object.

He could have killed us all with his mind! Or maybe a router! Eeeeee!

I feel so much safer now.

* Sun done set, chums. Sorry. Breaks my heart, too. --Can we start droppin' 'em Liberators with the little comic-book instructions now, can we can we?

Sunday, June 01, 2008


...A chocolate-covered blueberry sundae, that is, which is what I found in the car at the Art Museum this afternoon.

But as usual, I've gotten ahead of myself. With the basement more or less settled for the nonce, Tam was off to work the Indy 1500 Gun Show some more (this consists in part of sweet-talking nice gentlemen who have 'stonishingly pristine 19th Cent. rifles on display, plus sayin' Hi to throngs of adulators, all while helpin' at a friend's table). I scrambled for the shower soon after her departure, 'cos the Data Viking was hittin' town.

I was very nearly ready when he arrived and (him havin' some experience of wedlockery), he's well-content to chat with a gal while she's brushin' her hair and knows to retreat when I reach for the fixative that keeps my bangs from goin' entirely awry. DV is well, happy and reports the Frazier Arms Museum in Louisville well worth visiting. (I just tried to link to it and all I found was a watered-down "museum of history" with some sosh bilge on the homepage. Recent change of focus? Bad search params? I dunno).

After catching up, we headed off for the gun show ourselves, plannin' to haul Tam off for a bite to eat. (Er, that doesn't sound entirely correct. I assure you, cannibalism is way down in today's Royal Navy).

The show was -- well, it was an Indy 1500, and quite busy, especially for Day 3 of a warm-weather show. I picked up some munchables, havin' missed brekky (see para. one). We saw about half of it before findin' Tam, then off to Murphy's Steak Joi- Hey! They're closed of a Sunday. H'mmm, options...? Back up to Broad Ripple when I remembered Zest, one of the upscale breakfast/brunch places. It's got a great rep; I'd not been there before but they more than lived up to it, with fine omelets and quiche, good coffee and nice sides. My thanks to DV for the nice birthday brunch!

Back to the show (no extra cost for us, 1500 stamps your hand, but another parking fee at the Fairgrounds: they don't do pass-outs for cars), where we saw the other half of it and a few Tam-finds. (Needless Announcement Award when the PA came on with, "We remind everyone at the show there is no need for loaded guns at the show; the only people carrying loaded guns should be the on-duty officers at the show. A couple of the vendors at the West end seem to have loaded guns on their belts, blah blah blah..." Yeah, those sidearms are a-gonna just leap up, barkin', and fill the air with lead, all by themselves. Funny, we were at the West end and I saw no surge of IMPD or ATF guys to deal with the dire threat; you don't suppose they were not all that concerned... This is the same ghit who likes to warn us of the horror of Automatic Knives about every other show). Tam headed back to her helping-out and we headed just plain out.

Thence homeward but the day was yet young, so DV and I buzzed over to IMA and its extensive grounds and gardens. --I couldn't tell you if the museum was open but the flowers were in bloom. Saw a lot of tulip tree flowers, probably storm debris but never spotted the tree. The vertical range of the place is always a surprise; at one point we climbed about 75 feet up the stepped slope of the outdoor ampitheatre, up another 15 or 20 feet of stairs and onto a huge, empty plaza behind the museum! This overlooks a hidden storage area for large-scale sculpture to which I'll have to return with a camera; it looks like nothing so much as Things Found In H. P. Lovecraft's Back Yard After The Disturbing Occurrence.

Getting out of the car at IMA, I remembered the paper bag of munchies from the gun show: now a warm mush of blue chocolate with pasty berries in it. Well, I got to eat a lot of them earlier at the show.

Total haul for the day: a new purse, a new flashlight (daggone AAAA Streamlights are handy as can be but swole-up batteries kill them dead), another carry knife. H'mmm, no gun? Despite my extreme level of personal evil and fiendishfullness, didn't find anything that I liked, could afford, and that wasn't in need of much serious work. (Keep yer damn' Dremel off the Sistema, willya pleeeeeze?). Passed by a cute little Colt Mustang Pocketlight in fine shape; they just keep getting pricier. So it goes.