Friday, July 31, 2009

There's Just One Tiny Catch

Researchers are hot on the trail of a promising treatment for spinal injuries. It really looks like a winner! There's only one thing: you'll turn blue.

Considering the downside, it seems a small price to pay.

More Freudian Than Thou

Update: Speaking of warnings and bans, guess what happens when you try to tell Turks "No fumar?"
Freudianer than you? Heck, they're more Freudian than Freud!

Nathan Brindle links to news of a group that wants -- demands! -- a cancer warning on hot dogs. Yup, weenies, favored treat of many a youngster.

I was trying to relate this to L. Neil Smith's illuminating theory that the for-you-own-good crowd is afraid of fire: smokes, nukes, guns, smokestacks, smoked meats, fossil fuels, internal and external combustion engines, etc., etc. when it occurred to me that we have not one but two groups of nappy-wetters at work and what the other group fears and loathes most is, well, anything longer than it is wide, and doubly so if it happens to be cylindrical. There's a lot of overlap with the fire-haters (cigars, firearms, smokestacks, locomotives, fast cars and so on) but on a few issues their particular imprint stands out and the humble frankfurter is one of 'em. They're terrified of the penis.

All it takes is a quick glance at the body of feminist writing (or fifteen minutes of Oprah!) to recognize the source of this but it has roots even farther back, in the Mrs.-Grundyism of the Mauve decade and long before.

Well, 'scroom. I grew up eating hot dogs and -- to the possible consternation of the weenieworriers out there -- my favorite form of 'em was sliced into discs and cooked in vegetable soup!

Holy cow. Sometimes a cigar is only a cigar, nitwits; even Rene Magritte would go that far.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

More Things That Induce Monitor-Punching Impulses

PayPal, those stalwart friends of freedom except for, oh horrors, guns, pulled the plug on the charity Soldier's Angels, 'cos they were sellin' raffle tickets for a, sob, gasp, pistol. Yes, an actual shooty-go-bang thing, eww, ick.

...After some of what had to be interesting communication, they did reinstate all of Soldier's Angels PayPallage...except that horrid nasty raffle. Yeah, dang, some vile, uncaring, inhuman critter -- me, for instance -- might've been able to enter, win, have to do a full-on Federal Firearms Transfer involving Federally-licensed dealers at each end, undergo a Federal background check and -- if they passed the check and paid for the transfer -- take possession of an actual handgun. Odds are quite excellent that whoever does win will already own several additional handguns, shotguns, and/or rifles, both the evil black kind and the other sort.

But by gosh, PayPal is keepin' the Internets pure. For a fatheaded value of "pure."

"Lips that touch tobacco," they demurely aver, "will never touch ours." No, wait, you can PayPal yourself a smoke as near as I can tell; the other things they won't letcha use PayPal for are dope of any sort or dope-use hardware, porn rated "obscene" and adult hardware likewise, copyright and/or trademark violations and other ways to diddle privacy or intellectual property, anything illeeegal, racist or hateful or that profits off crime, or Ponzi schemes and the like. Yeah, gee, the right of free men and women to bear arms in their own defense and for the defense of the State just fits right in that list, dunnit? You bet. Just like a scoop of green-tea ice cream on a pile o' dusty red bricks.

PayPal: they strike me as fretful. Timid. Oh, I confess, I could well be wrong; still, I'm thinking of the nice little bald actor with the high-pitched voice who always played a bank teller in Westerns. Oh, yeah. Him.

He Makes Me Want To Punch My Monitor

...A fat-headed nitwit pontificating in the Christian Science Monitor, sneering at the free market he has never seen and looking down at a mercantilism he misnames "capitalism."

Old commies never die, it seems, they just make stuff up and then try to smear it on the minds of the young, using their own dung as ink. "Could the Great Recession lead to a Great Revolution?" he pleads of the Fates. Jeez, I hope so, just so you can get down with some home-grown Khmer Rouge. Er, Professor, you don't by any chance wear glasses, do you? 'Cos some of your buds, well, they are just not down with that.

PS: here's a little more commynism for ya -- this group purports to be a bunch of lemmings happy to slash their own throats so bums can drink. Awwww. It's enough to make a hog gassy. Wanna bet none of them will ante up 'til Washington makes everyone in their (claimed) bracket do the same?

That I should be reaching my sunset years in such times...!

What Day Is It?

...Oh, yeah, it's the day where I have try to get done all the things I didn't do yesterday. Oops.

Headache continues, though either it is getting a little weaker or I have become accustomed to it and in either case, I don't have any choice; there are tasks I simply must accomplish. So it's getting-ready time for me.

Oldest Tomcat was quite ill yesterday, too, though he is better today. He's been affectionate this morning, perhaps feeling he had a pretty close call yesterday evening.

My thanks to Og for a pointer to a less-costly 1911 grip bushing tap (60 pitch, those threads are, which is scary-fine). Alas, I also saw this screwdriver set, which is what I will buy if I win the lottery. Um, if I played the lottery. It's funny, I don't think anyone makes a center-piloted driver to fit 1911 grip screw bushings, something akin to the "slot and dot" drivers used for similar screws on some Sony equipment and Phone Co. style patch cable plugs. (Update: Of course they make grip screw bushing specific drivers, just in a different way).

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

1911 Help?

Does anyone out there have a tap for the frame threads of a 1911 grip screw bushing? My Sistema Colt's got an issue -- I don't know if it was someone's staking job gone wrong or what, but one of the grip screw bushings was loose and turned out to be stripped (external threads on the bushing, not the frame). It was getting looser and looser and making the gun less fun to shoot.

No problem, right? Get another bushing, install, done. I picked up a few at the last Indy 1500 gun show and after our most recent trip to the range, had a try at swapping out the bad one, which was when I discovered it was essentially de-threaded.

The problem: there's a burr or something on the tapped hole in the frame, which very neatly eats up the threads of the bushing. The threads are too fine to clear with an X-acto blade (sneaky trick but sometimes it works on shallow tapped holes). So, I need a tap. $39.99 new at Brownells, ouch. 'Druther buy a used one, or borrow one (on pain of replacement if damaged, taps being what you might consider an occasionally consumable item).


Darn It

Home sick again -- migraine and other issues. Bedarned if I know what's going on; for sure I ate something I didn't agree with but this is ridiculous.

The spirit is willing but the flesh isn't up to anything more demanding than a trip to the kitchen for a glass of water.

The Stimulators

or "One Weak Week Weak Stimulus"

Or something; it's an AP story (motto: "Don't quote us! We'll sue! We'll sue!") but it makes for interesting reading withal. A significant fraction of those "stimulus" jobs are 40 hours or less of paid work, total. Not "per week," per the entire job: it takes forty hours and you're back on the sidewalk, tryin' to remember who you know within walking distance who'll let you sleep on their couch. But for Congress, this counts as a "job created by the stimulus, lookit how well it is working!" For this, they are picking your pocket. And your children's pockets and their children's pockets and on and on....

Forget reading for the law, kiddo; if you wanna be a politician when you grow up, take up prestidigitation.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tuesday Assortment

As I type, I am being assailed by a very old tomcat who has convinced himself that he'd enjoy cinnamon toast. Probably not, old pal, and in any event, it's my breakfast and you've already had yours. It's not so much that he really wants it and he's certainly not hungry; but Mom's having it, so it must be good.

This is one of the risks you run when your elderly cats -- Tam has dubbed them "geriatricats" -- take up residence on your desk; the advent of flat-screen monitors left a nice space on a slightly elevated shelf, which they have claimed, despite Slinky's inability to get on the desk by herself. (Tommy still manages, by climbing onto my chair or a cat-carrier stores beside the desk). What the heck, it's safe, warm, and they're close by.
* * *
Finished Project Mars. Von Braun would've had a better yarn if he'd left his Martians out; there are several lumps of sententious moralizing that do nothing to advance the plot, though they are a fascinating glimpse at some of the inclinations that kept him playing along with the German army 'til it was much too late to back out. Interesting translation quibble: at one point, he's writing of the attitudes and drives that give rise to human and Martian behavior and names a couple of notions as the "sire and dam" of the urge to explore; but uses the words in the form "siring and damming..." Tsk. That does not play so well in English.
* * *
Word is the next Indiana BlogMeet will be 9 August, just in time for Farmer Frank's sweet corn harvest! Probably at Broad Ripple Brew Pub.
* * *
No time to check this for the inevitable typos, so enjoy 'em! More later, I hope.

Monday, July 27, 2009


[The rocket] had passed the transonic speed range and was approaching...10,000 m/sec without incident. Suddenly, the flight path began to fluctuate. Observers later reported that she had yawed to the left and that the contrail behind her fiery jet then became wavy. A few seconds later, the vessel broke apart. the aftermost portion blew up in an explosion whose shock wave was audible at the launching site much later. The smaller forepart of the ship continued upwards on a steep ballistic parabola, passed its maximum ordinate, and fell with still increasing velocity into the sea.
Is it:
A) A particularly vivid account of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster?
B) A news story about a troubled Soviet launch?
C) Werner von Braun, trying his hand at a science fiction novel in 1949?

If your answer was C, you win! I'm reading von Braun's Project Mars: A Technical Tale and the first part's not all that bad, especially for the time it was written, though not only is all the math, physics and astronomy right -- as was so proudly said of the crop of hard SF writers who came on the scane about then -- he has a tendency to show his work. In detail. On the other hand, while his assumptions can be broad, there's no accusing him of hand-waving.

His brave astronauts have now landed on Mars and the yarn has turned a bit...philosophical. I'm suspending judgement.

If you ever wondered what was behind the stunning Chesely Bonestell paintings showing an expedition to Mars, this is it -- and the book includes several nicely printed color plates of them.

The book gets savage reviews at Amazon. Dr. von Braun's characters are not that bad, being generally what you get when an engineer or pilot writes writes of his peers; non-technical readers often complain they are lacking in angst-filled depth, not understanding that the drama to be found in technical challenges. (George O. Smith's Venus Equilateral yarns, filled with people just like the ones I work with, have often been so criticized -- "cardboard!'' -- even though he was a working electrical engineer and wrote about the kinds of people he was around every day) . The book suffers from having been written in German and translated by a man who was not, as nearly as I can tell, a writer of fiction. All that said, the first part holds up very well if read as an outline for a film script. It remains to be seen if the finish will be as strong.

No link; if you'd like to buy it, go to Tam's and use her window!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Eagle Creek Park Pistol Range

The range at Eagle Creek Park is (supposedly) open from 0900 to 1300 today. Might be a good idea to show up and make use of our city's nice public range. It's a good thing to keep it busy on the few hours it is open. It's a good thing to remind the Parks Department that the range is a welcome amenity. --They appear to have gotten a little better, as the official page now admits there is a pistol range, lists the number for the range and includes a link to unofficial web page for it; at one time you would search's park pages in vain for the info.

IMPD's habit of grabbing the range on weekends with little to no notice, despite having exclusive use of it the entire rest of every week, remains a problem. This weekend, if they do as they've promised the hard-working volunteer ROs, at least the incursion into public hours was scheduled well in advance and they're only taking a three-hour bite out of our time. (Am I too nice? Look, an inexperienced person with a gun is dangrous and does not get less so if you give them a shiny badge and a dark-blue tunic. The more range time IMPD's officers get, the better off we all are -- but you'd think they'd want us non-LEO types to be more aware of which end the bullets come out of, too).

So head on out. Rumor has it you might find a certain famous blonde stitching tiny, tiny groups in her targets there!

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Yet it is true: Tam and Salon offer much the same read and same advice for the same highly charged situation.

I am soooo confused.

Why Newspapers Are Failing, Part Hojillion

Louisville Courier-Journal, after suggesting that the electorate rilly-rilly-rilllly wanting something to be true will make it so,* whines about "...centrist 'Blue Dog' Democrats, who seem unable to muster the spine to pay for health care reform with even so innocuous a measure as higher taxes on the richest 1 percent of Americans." Yes, what could possibly be more innocuous than a tax increase on the group best situated to ensure it (and then some!) gets passed down to all the rest of us in the form of higher prices on everything we buy from companies controlled by the richest one percent of Americans. Companies owning things like, oh hully gee, Wal-Mart. Or newspapers.


Go, Blue Dogs, go! I'm countin' on you.
* Just 'cos people can vote for "free money from the government," that doesn't mean it actually exists. Or that they have an moral right to shake down their neighbors for it. It's no more than a class-action Bill of Attainder, is what it is.

2009 vs. 1929

Charts and graphs. How's that-there "recovery" lookin'?

I have to take my headache an' go help family members -- more later.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Uh-Oh: White House Wavers On Hidden Frontier

Great. Just great. I come up with a neat way to sell the truth as fiction and now the Press Secretary comes close to 'fessin' up.


Update: Something for the "how tinfoil is your hat?" files. Just what that something might be is middlin' indiscernible, though I gather Walt Disney is The Debbil. Yes, of course.

"Unlike Lucent, China Has Nuclear Weapons"

A blinding glimpse of the obvious from Vitaliy Katsenelson of Foreign Policy, who observes that China has been lending, well, us, the scheckels to buy their goods, a process which cannot go on forever. What happens next? Vitaliy's not so sure but it can't be fun.

Looks like this roller-coaster named "Recession" might have a few more bumps in it. Hang onto your hat -- could be you'll need it later.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thune Amendment

The Thune Amendment failed of passage failed by two votes. To my disgust, one of those votes was Indiana's perpetual Republican Senator, the Honorable Richard G. Lugar (it says right here in my style book to address 'em that way, which reminds me of the punchline from the old charm school joke: "...I learned to say 'the Honorable' instead of 'you pathetic, puling weasel.'").

I wrote The Honorable Richard a nice note (charm school!) expressing my disappointment. If you are Hoosier and would like to write the man, go here.

Meanwhile, across the aisle, Democrat the Honorable Evan Bayh voted for the Thune Amendment. Cynical decision by a Dem who knew it would auger in? Maybe. Maybe not. I think not: he has his faults but Senator Bayh can and will actually read and if he read the amendment in question, he knew it left holders of a carry permit subject to the laws of the state in which they were -- not their home state, as victim-disarmament organizations and self-panickers in the press claimed. I'll give the man the benefit of the doubt; he's a Democrat but not an idiot. I wrote to thank him and you can too, if you'd like.

I was surprised the Thune Amendment did as well as it did. I think it will be back and we need to remind our Senators that this issue matters.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Hope For Congress

"Artificial Human Brain Likely In Ten Years"

Gee, I hope our Congressthings can last that long. Or not. Yeah, not.

Free Government Health Care

(Stumbled across the linked articles while looking up "tincture of time," which has so far proven the most effective treatment for my migraines).

...Don't listen to me; what do I know? Go read what one of the guys who pushes that boulder uphill every day has to say.

Rom Risley appears to be one of the dedicated people who makes it work; his politics are not mine. But he gets it, even not wanting to. In him, we have someone who sincerely wants to do good -- and is impeded in his efforts by the very system that's supposedly enabling him to do so.

Maybe there is some magic formula that keeps public health care -- and private health care, too* -- from being run by, for, and about bureaucrats but I am bedarned if I know how.

As Dr. Risley illustrates, when budgets are fat, patients are a huge boon to public health systems; when times are tough, well, that's another story. Tough luck, Jose.

I have been called "heartless" because I don't believe people's medical problems -- or any other sort -- impose a requirement upon others (or "society") to help. Isn't it more heartless to help 'em for awhile and then pull the rug out? Flip side is, I'm entirely in favor of voluntarily-supported efforts to help others and rarely pass up a legitimate collection-plate without tossing some money in. ...I could afford to pitch in more if I wasn't being taxed, 80% of which is keeping corpulent paper-shufflers in nice offices funneling the remaining 20% to do what my tax money is supposedly being taken for.

But stopping that would be just heartless, wouldn't it? Or would it?
* Usually not as egregiously and often in different ways -- but I vividly recall an interesting three-way telephone call between an endodontist's bookkeeper, a "customer service" representative from my dental insurer and me, in order to resolve a billing dispute created by the D.D.S. using one set of billing codes and the insurer another, which they would not address until brought into direct contact. No question what the procedure was or that it was covered but hey, wrong code? Looks like you'll be footin' this bill, Ms. X! Except not, 'cos for a few pennies, Ma Bell hooked us all up.

Wednesday (and I'm missing hamburgers)

Home with The Headache today, it now being accompanied by vertigo. Not too bad if I sit still, not at all good if I get up and move. (Symptoms almost like the way seasickness is described. My longest exposure that sort of motion is the mild swell one encounters in the Midwest, e.g, taking the ferry to Mackinac Island and I enjoy that, so I cannot speak from direct experience).

Yesterday, ibuprofen kept it down to a dull roar but that was as much relief as I got; pain aside, it's utterly distracting and along with the annoying visual effects and "echoes" after sounds, I found myself making a lot of mistakes. I would not like to do so on rain-wet roads and when you add in the vertigo, it's a no-go.

...And it's Hamburger Day at the lunch counter closest to Skunk Works, Main Campus. Alas!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Monday, A Day Late

Woke up with a migraine of unusual power; left ear hurts, left eye returning crummy video, headache, ringing, dizzy, all the usual fun stuff.

I rarely had headaches until about ten years ago, when a tooth root punched through bone as I bit down on a too-well-done burger and triggered my first migraine. (and a multi-year experience of the way in which dentistry, otolaryngology and general medicine fail to interface in a manner useful to the patient).* Lacking direct experience, I'd always felt that succumbing to a headache was a moral lapse, a failure of the will; to this day, I struggle with an unreasonable irritation at myself that these miserable, invisible experiences slow me down so much.

Gulped down three Ibuprofen with breakfast and once they kick in, I'll be able to take a shower without leaning against the wall and making frequent grabs at whatever is within reach -- and once I've managed that, why, the world is pretty much my oyster!

Makes me want to put a sign in the window: BACK SOON. WILL TAKE OVER WORLD IN ONE HOUR.
* The experience was bad enough when I could fire the least helpful ones -- it was a not-my-jurisdiction-fest of the worst sort -- and keep looking until I had found a team that would work with one another; imagine how much worse it would have been under a government-controlled medical system!

Monday, July 20, 2009

BlogMeet Report

Several of us -- and by several, I mean Joanna, Tam, Shootin' Buddy, Nathan, Jerry, Turk Turon, Shermlock and Old Grouch -- met and enjoyed fine brews and perfectly wondrous edibles at Rock Bottom Brewery!(My place is being held by the Big Camo Purse Of Tacticalness). Joanna brought cookies far above and beyond the usual sort: they were scrumptious!

Jerry won a scary bottle of Defcon One hot sauce, awarded as The Cup Of Turoninistan for having come from the second-farthest distance, Turk being exempt from winning 'cos he sponsors the award. Joanna won a yo-yo being being Youngest Blogger, sesame/honey candies were handed out and an Odd Squishy Toy was "given" to several present, all of whom rejected it. A pity, it even lights up when thumped. As far as I know, it's still at the pub! (See? Prizes! Fabulous! And you missed 'em! Tsk).

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Eagle Creek Range Was Closed

With nothing on the website and nothing on the dial-in line. Second week this has happened. IMPD training going on and hey, okay, I most definitely want My Local Po-Leece to be able to handle guns competently.

But Geez-O-Peet™ would it just kill 'em to give some notice? Would it be that big a problem to schedule around the measly twelve hours a week our tax-supported public range is actually open to the public?

As I understand it, this is not the fault of the volunteers who work as ROs at the the range; IMPD usually gives them exactly as much notice as we get: not a whole lot, if any. Ticks me right off. It's a problem and we need to figure out who needs to have it pointed out. The head honchos of IMPD? The Mayor? Parks Department?

We went down to Atterbury, a very nice (though very doctrinaire, you know, hands above the table, no slow dancing, no hemlines above the knee, that sort of thing) range run by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. Which is precisely what those of us who like to shoot are, a natural resource. One the city seems determined to waste.

Why, I Otta...

'Cos I'm not nice, like Tam and Col. Cooper:

The magazine goes into the pistol,
The clip goes into the Garand.
Be careful what you call them
Or you'll feel the back of my hand.

...Soothly? I don't so much care if you call 'em Bo Peep and her Lost Sheep, as long as you follow the Four Rules like your life depended on 'em, 'cos mine does.

BlogShoot this morning, if the Great Creek Of Eagles will allow. See you there!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Public Enemy

Saw the film Public Enemy tonight and it's good. A well-told story -- and a feast for any retrotechnologist, generally lacking in serious anachronism.

That said, three did stand out: Microphones used in a Senate hearing in set 1933 or early '34 were nifty Western Electric 639A or B types, introduced in 1938 (and later made by Altec, fine mics and one of the currently more readily-available of the old microphones, which is sort of important if you're doing film props). More jarringly, a "typewritten" page is shown on-screen, taking up about a third of the screen image. Alas, it is a kerned, book font, not a typewriter font. That one should have been an easy catch and fix but it was missed. Last, a meter on a piece of equipment that shows up in several scenes had obviously been backlit with a distinctive blue LED. Oops!

On the other hand, you'd have to be some kind of, I don't know, tech geek to catch two of the three; for a period piece, not so bad. Guns looked correct to my eye (better ask Tam), clothing and hairstyles were better than usual, likewise interiors. The filmmaker put in a lot of work to make the last bit of Dillinger's life real and it paid off.

Johnny Depp was a fine John Dillinger, vanishing into the character as he does so well. My advice: go see it. If that's the kind of thing you like, you'll like it a lot. I did!


...Is on for Sunday at Eagle Creek Range. Any time in the morning through about 1:00 pm!

Friday, July 17, 2009


Hey! Buddy! Buddy? Wanna see hot new pix of NASA Moon-Landing sites?

Kewl! I cannot think of a better use for my tax money, other than giving it all back to me. Or not taking it in the first place.


Nothing too deep this morning. Made popcorn last night in a high-walled, non-stick-lined skillet with a glass lid, which may be the perfect vessel for the job: it pops up nice with little olive oil (yum!) and you get to watch rather than be surprised when the treat pushes up the lid of the pan.

I love popcorn but not the nasty supposed-butter flavoring that's about all you can find (other than "kettle corn" and other perversions of the pure form*) in nukeable packs. Nonstick + glass lid = WIN!
* Look, if that's what you want, just buy CrackerJack

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, doofy clipart fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun, okay?


Seeya there!

UPDATE: This is the before. Shermlock has the after. Don't miss it if you can!

Good Morning

It's supposed to be good, anyway. It's not raining, anyway.

Chuckled at a an especially daft headline in a national newspaper yesterday: "Sotomayor Questioned On Gender, Ethniticity." Either there's some uncertainty there, which you'd think would rate more than a one column headline below the fold, or she's gettin' some incredibly easy questions, even for a Lefty in front of a hive of Democrats. Besides, aren't those precisely the sorts of questions employers are not to ask of prospective employees?

I really can't even be bothered to make popcorn. Liberal SCOTUS Justice set to replace another liberal SCOTUS Justice? It's just like changing a lightbulb, except we all get screwed and it sheds very little new light.

(Update: Linda Chavez is not impressed).

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Puns, Electricity, Guns And Snark:

Why haven't I linked to A Train Wreck In Maxwell already?

Gonna fix that.

Being Pushed Around

Over at HuffPo, mob-rule advocate Paul Adams figures if 70% of the public -- not necessarily the voting public -- want your pocket picked, then it must be done! He's pushing government-run healthcare and the impoverish-the-red-states energy policies of the current Administration.

The older I get, the more certain I become that the right to not have your money taken away at government whim -- or the whim of "the People" -- should've been added to other rights protected by the Bill of Rights. The Framers tried, a little half-heartedly, but that effort succumbed long ago.

Much of the strategy he advocates to push for robbing you under color of law can be used to stop the process, too. It's time to write your Senators, to call 'em up. Or we can all sit shivering in the overcrowded waiting rooms of government-run hospitals, by and by. For our own good, of course.

What was it Thoreau said? "If I knew a man was headed my way with the fixed intention of doing me good, I would flee for my life." It's fight or flight time -- and there's nowhere left to run.


...I don't care if it it's from Brooklyn; looking to find out whatever had happened to Indiana's own Choc-Ola soft drink (spin, crash, burn, AFAIK), I stumbled over the recipe for Egg Cream a couple of weeks ago and it sounds goooood. It's taken hold of my imagination.

Contains neither egg nor cream, of course.

On a related note, I'm shopping for a soda siphon.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

July BlogMeet

It's coming up next weekend! You Are Invited!

BlogMeets are open to each and every blogger, blog reader and guilty-looking bystander; there is no fee (other than you'll have to either pay your own tab or charm someone into paying it for you) and we don't even have a secret handshake. Sometimes there are even Fabulous! Prizes! (for a given value of "fabulous").

We'll hold the next Blogmeet at the Rockbottom Brewery off W. 86th. St., 19 July at 3:00 p.m. Be there!

...Eagle Creek permitting (they've been closed the last two Sundays), we'll have a BlogShoot that morning, too. Blogshoots are also open but all safety rules must be followed and you'll have to cover your own range fees. There is no set time, just from when they open (10:00 a.m.) through 2:00 p.m. or so.

Another Day, Part 12


Sure, a secret agent. It could not possibly fail to be any less glamorous than my Real Career Between The Stars (or whatever it is I do around here), right?

Riiiight. "Earlybird" puts me on duty as the overnighters are doing lunch, call it 0430 if you like. I didn't, but I had to anyway. I'd had trouble getting the wave out of my bangs, ends sticking out caterwompus despite vanity’s dab of styling gel, and I'd had to resort to hair spray. (There are lots of ways to zero-G-proof your hair, clips and braids and ponytails, but bangs take stickum). That's probably trivial where you live but it gums up the filters in a sealed system; you can cook, use hair-spray and so on (no volatile spray-paint!), but Environment & Physical Plant monitors the pressure drop across the air-return filters and if yours reaches the limit too early compared to the standard, you buy the replacement and they're not cheap.

Still, groomed (-ish), rested (more or less) and fed (coffee and a roll counts, right?), I stumbled my way down the slidewalks to Engineering at only a little past the appointed hours. Drew was waiting at the hatch. "Hi there! I'm headed for lunch — Conan should be back any minute," and he was off. Well, that's Drew, utterly reliable, unflappable and keenly aware of the exact minimum requirements for any task. He's also our best source for reports on Conan the Objectivist's temper-driven flights of verbal fancy (e.g, "Does the Chief expect me to excrete obsolete germanium transistors?"), which makes him an invaluable asset to his peers.

Looked at the "incoming" shelf and there wasn't anything critical waiting; picked up a terminal from the rack by the hatch to the Chief's office cubby, plopped it down on an open workbench (hooray for wireless!) and logged on. Nothing new in TASKER. E-mail, let's see, free tix to some play on our next stop (we're still inbound to Frothup, an ex-Far Edge settlement as you can tell from the name), free passes to the zoo likewise, lucky winners get round-trip travel and overnight accommodations.... Yah, yah, I never win those, I just hitch with a squirt-booster pilot; there's usually room, especially on the off shifts. Something from Mike, an FYI: "We're sweeping cargo for freeloaders starting 0100. Will let you know if anything/anyone we find clears Welles..." Oh, that'll be being effing big fun -- remotely-operated vehicles scanning the exposed cargo containers for unaccounted heat/chemical signatures while mixed teams of Stores & Cargo and Security types go through the Port and Starboard conditioned-space holds. H'mm, it's just about certain I know someone beside Sheriff Mike who's on that....

Why wonder? Dug out my celphone and scrolled through the contacts list 'til T's name came up. Ring. Ring. "'El-o?" Wide awake, when she's usually on straight-up first shift.
"T, it's Bobbi--"
"So, you're on the lurker sweep and Mikey's right next to you, then?"
"Aha. Later?"

H'mm. I'd call Ivan but odds are good he's either in the same room, busy or sleeping. I dont know him all that well but enough to know he's not quite as patient with noseyparkers as T, and she's not very. Besides, Mike will notice, if he hasn't already. Too, while T will hang back, watching her teams on vid until something breaks or she's decided it's about to, while Ivan's usually in the thick of things from the git-go. Different cops, different approaches -- also, Ivan never had a fool of a remote-drone op slam into him on the hull, smash both shins and breach his suit, hitting hard enough to knock out the suit's radio and keep on going, while T, well, it must have been a hellish hand-over-hand back to the nearest airlock where they found her passed out after she'd hit the "Pressure" and "Emergency Call" buttons. It was how she'd got the promotion to shift supervisor -- not for being tough and most certainly not for getting badly injured on the job, but by successfully and professionally running, from her hospital bed, the investigation that caught the perp.

T's quick to point out it wasn't that much of a prize; Mike's got four (4!) patrollers on his watch, T and Ivan make do with all of three each and what they deal with outside routine cargo security work is mostly foot patrol in the "public" spaces plus the usual loud arguments, drunks, fights and the occasional pilfering or vandalism that any large ship or small town gets. When they need more help, there's the Auxiliary Security Force ("Security Oxen" or even just "The Oxes" if they're not in the room), mostly Stores & Cargo and Environment & Physical Plant types and a few of the more-ambitious riggers, some of who have, at differing times, more free time than the Starship Company figures is good for them. For a lurker sweep, the teams are made up of one Security fulltimer and one or two Auxes and if more than a half-dozen teams are needed, the best of the Auxes get brevetted.

* * *

My shift was uneventful other than a spate of message from a planet-side data-comms outfit complaining about link quality; I switched to one of the backups before grabbing an RF meter and optical TDR and backtracking from the receiver all the way to the point where the coax entered the hull. Just my luck, four hours later I'd proven the signal was crummy all the way back to vacuum; I logged on to schedule riggers to check the antenna and found a half-dozen chiding queries about it, the last an abashed, "Link good now, er, just realized you're a starship and light-_hours_ out!" New on the job, are we? Made it back to the shop just in time to put my toys away and go off-shift. Time to go be a spy!

* * *

...Some excitement that was: stroll "downtown" and mill around in the park for an hour. The Great man never showed. A sullen-looking middle-aged man with the musically Germanic accent of the Linden backcountry accompanied by a thirtyish, pudgy blonde with a motherly smile eventually announced to the crowd that "Mr. Vell-es" was feeling a little poorly and would not be speaking that afternoon.

The crowd was an assorted bunch, from kids just barely walking through elderly folks. Well over half Lyndoners and most of them I'd guess at citydwellers, but the remainder were from all over, judging by accents and attire. Even a couple of sure-nuff Russians, I don't know from Earth or one of the string of planets the old U.S.S.R. had established along their section of the Hidden Frontier. None of them struck me as particularly blissed-out or cult-y and their reaction to Welles' absence was no more than ordinary concern. The guy who'd shared the news -- "Vill," would you not just know -- didn't seem to have any particular power over them. I spoke with a few people who said hi and made my way home. Stopped off at "Gumbo A-Go-Go" for takeout (the Hidden Frontier, well above any storm surge, got its share of Katrina refugees, handpicked by recruiters from Starship Company, our competitors and reps from organizations on a couple of planets. We got Georges, who made his way from E&PP Food Services chef to self-employed in record time, to the very great benefit of those of us aboard Lupine! Sure wish I knew where he gets that bread) and slidewalked home, looking forward to a nice dinner, a sound sleep and a day off. --Not that the Fates'd let the last item happen!

But you already know that tale of woe.

Not my idea of fun but there are worse ways to spend half of your day off -- I didn't even have to leave my cabin, though I'll admit to a little trepidation to Dr. Schmid roaming around Engineering with a tweaker and the access codes. He's a fine officer and a good man but it has been awhile since he slung solder, which he mostly didn't, having been a Navs wonk before The Starship Company decided he was officer material. "Should you ought to be doing that, Sir?" is not anything you can delicately ask and the fact is he's right nine times in ten dealing with hands-on tech, despite a terrifyingly theoretical approach. But we get one day off for every five on -- maybe it sounds unfair to you but what would I do with the extra day, mow the lawn? Paint the house? Climb Everest? -- and so I decided to make the best of the half-day I could grab. And then ended up back on the phone later that evening.

Found a note from T in my personal online inbox, her usual terse e-mail style: "A busy night's sweep, call for info." Sent a half-hour ago, her second-shift morning. So I rang her up.

While I'd been chasing signals and chasing my tail in the park, Mike's Security crew had indeed been busy. He'd put T's group inside the hull and had Ivan's lot plus the best three cargo drone remote ops checking the unpressurized cargo (T still bears a bit of a grudge). Initial "outside" scan showed a handful of hotter-than expected containers, two Starboard and one Port with mild chemical signatures of the sort that usually indicate habitation.

It takes a closer look to ID the exact container and the most likely-looking choice was put third when a cross-check with the manifest turned up fertilized eggs as the contents. The rates are considerably less for what S&C likes to call "deck cargo," so I guess it makes sense. The next suspect looked even more that way when no listing could be found of it and Ivan and a couple of helpers were moving in for a closer look when the cargo chief on duty called them off: Space Force, USSF military cargo, Hands Off. Soldiers In a Can? I asked but T refused to speculate. And thus on to the next one, all the way across the width of the ship and forward, so our stalwarts called for a remote drone carrying a "personnel pod," little more than an armored framework with benches and tie-downs and rode most of the way across.

You can't exactly be stealthy in a pressure suit but Ivan comes as close as anyone can, despite being about 1.5 men high and wide. His pair of Auxes, guys he's worked with for several years, are nearly as good. They worked their way among the containers towards the heat source, scanned the barcode and found the contents listed as "furniture, office, assorted; pressure-tight." With a double hatch, no less, perhaps for fussy Customs inspectors: a basic airlock, big enough for one suited individual who doesn't suffer from claustrophobia. Leaning his helmet carefully on the wall, Ivan could hear sounds, possibly voices, the occasional scrape or thump. And as T put it, "even a redhead knows that's not what office furniture sounds like." Time to see what's inside!

Ivan went first, his Auxes stacked up beside the outer hatch ready to follow or react to his quick exit -- or whatever it took. There's no way to cycle an airlock quietly, even an unpowered one; the dogs and bolts thud and clank, air hisses through the valves and it is not a sudden or subtle process. By the time pressure in the lock was close enough to the pressure in the cargo container to free the inner hatch, whoever was in there was well-warned.

...Not that any warning would have been enough to clear out the cigar smoke, though you'd've thought between three riggers and four S&C crewfolk, at least one would've swept the cards out of sight: In full vacuum gear, Security insignia big and bright, Ivan had just crashed a poker game.

Playing cards for money is hardly against company policy; there's a nice "game room" up in passenger territory (middle-sized casino), open to anyone who can comply with the dress code, that turns a healthy profit, undeterred by even our most straitlaced port of call (cough, Kansas II, cough). There is no end of polls and lotteries, card games, dice and for all I know, pitch-penny and liar's poker (look it up). Nor is there a blanket ban on smoking; there are two designated smoking compartments for crew and subcontractors and a posh smoking parlor off the aforementioned casino for the paying customers. Though the rates are ruinous and your neighbors are liable to complain if they get a hint of it, you can even have your own quarters fitted out for smoking. (Smoking does do bad things to your mandatory insurance premiums, but hey, nothing's free). Indeed, both S&C and the rigging department tend to have long stretches of largely-idle time and while official policy encourages keeping busy (hence the Security Auxiliaries and our mostly on-call Fire/Pressure, etc. department), supervisors turn a blind eye to innocent amusements.

However, opening up sealed cargo containers and burning cheap stogies therein, that is not so innocent and it's certainly against Starship Company regs. The fire risk and crummy air quality only made it worse; Ivan, the mildest of men most times, is nevertheless of "One riot, one Ranger" size and when riled up, it is a rare man indeed who can stand up to him. He barked, "Hold it! Hands up!" as he kicked the cheap hatch shut behind him and the boys just about swallowed their cigars in the eagerness to comply. His Auxes, listening over his open mic, piled into the lock together and cycled it as quickly as they dared but by the time they were in, Ivan had the miscreants lined up, looking sheepish and sounding off.

Good gossip and a good catch -- shippers pay us, trust us, darn it, to take proper care of their goods -- but hardly cause for murder and I said as much to T.

"Oh, wait 'til I tell you the rest," she said, and started to relate her side of the lurker sweep.

Her team's first hit turned out to be a still. (It never fails. The _Lupine_ has no shortage of places to buy all grades of alcohol and yet just like every starship of sufficient size and most of the sublight haulers, too, there is always some crewman who's just got to build a still). They noted it for surveillance and moved on. Another of her teams carefully worked its way up on...a trysting couple. On the clock. But at least they were married, though not to one another. Handed them over to their supervisor; The Starship Company doesn't much care who you sleep with but frowns on so doing on company time. Other possibilities turned out to be false alarms, though one did give Stores & Cargo advance notice on a small chemical leak. It was after that that things started to get interesting and T left the S&C office Mike had borrowed to join her lead team.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Beef Stew: Yum!

Update: a few images added!
I don't have time to post the photos or go into great detail, but Saturday after the Indy Hamfest, I was pretty hungry, so I made the slow version of my quick beef stew with lazy-girl roux: flour a pound or so of stew beef and brown it in bacon fat with a little pepper 'til it looks cooked, then deglaze with a little Chianti; add water to cover (toss in the bacon you fried for the fat) and cook uncovered until most of the alcohol aroma is gone, then simmer an hour (at least!) before adding a potato or two, cut in middle-size chunks; then saute carrots and add, followed by celery and leeks, and then mushrooms. Gotta saute 'em for best results; it's worth the effort. Add a can of condensed beef consomme (trust me) and water to cover. Let the whole thing simmer for another hour and give it a taste. It'll probably need salt (and may need to have any excess fat skimmed, a simple process). The sort-of-a-roux makes the broth middling thick without lumpiness.

...Had that Saturday dinner, with corn muffins, and put the leftovers in the fridge. Tonight, I diced and sauteed a large, sweet Hungarian pepper plus one tiny, hot-hot-hot Serrano pepper from our garden, then sauteed (!) a large yellow tomato (just wanted to cook it down a bit), added the leftover stew and cooked it for a half hour. Nice! Letting it sit a day actually deepened the flavors.

It's not haute cuisine (one of my friends years ago claimed I was a natural short-order cook) but I like it.

Photos later, as time permits added.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Very Special Day

...If you happen to be Caleb, it's just about the special-est!

CSM On New Hate-Crimes Law: No

Not 'cos the Chistian Science Monitor's David Rittgers thinks hate crimes happen but because he knows they do -- and when they do, the law doesn't go after the perps for wrongthink, it goes after them for being criminals: "Those who commit crimes of violence motivated by extremist ideology are consistently locked up by a rule of law that criminalizes their actions, not their ideas."

...This, as Mary Baker Eddy's second-best-known creation informs us, is precisely as it should be and avoids a very real problem: "...making the ideology of the perpetrator a centerpiece of the trial doesn't deter like-minded extremists; it encourages them."

Let's not give the ijits any martyrs -- and let's allow bad ideas to fail in public, under the weight of their own foolhardiness. One of the most basic components of the idea that is the United States is that you can be trusted to make up your own mind.

If Congress wants to pull a few dimes out of the porkfest for better demographic data on crime stats, that may not be such a terrible idea (other than that whole paying for it with other people's money thing). But let us not push the idea of thoughtcrimes any further than it's already gone.

It's wrong to harm others, whatever the motive; it doesn't get any less wrong if you only did it for meth money.

Musician With A Lathe

I don't know what it is. I don't know who he is. But it's sure fascinating! Das Heckeshorn

Saturday, July 11, 2009

"Even A Blind Sow..."

The expression concludes "...finds the occasional ear of corn" or "acorn." Whichever, the image of a large, ungainly creature rooting around in the mud and happening upon a treat at rare intervals seems apt when considering the contemporary Press.

Journalist Carl M. Cannon puts it another way: "In the 2008 election, we [the press] took sides, straight and simple, particularly with regard to the vice presidential race. [...W]e simply didn't hold Joe Biden to the same standard as Sarah Palin, and for me, the real loser in this sordid tale is my chosen profession." It's worth reading.

(Found via this article on NewsBusters).

Friday, July 10, 2009

Word To The Wise

Do not taunt the rosy-lipped batfish, for it is sensitive and quick to wax wroth.

That is all.
No, wait!
(Breda has, I am pretty sure, blogged before of these lipstick-wearing harridans of the sea, though I cannot find her post. --I'm very nearly certain a batfish relative worked behind the counter at the five and dime in the little town where I grew up, casting a suspicious eye upon the local youngsters and shooing us away from the shiny, fragile interesting things).

Now that is all.


The morning newspaper (remember those? Very useful as catbox liners!) offers a fascinating and snarkworthy tidbit I can't follow up on because I have to go pick up my own (non-GM) auto at the shop: GM owned a church in Indiana! Selling it off now, quelle suprise -- hard to imagine a church not run by the scions of elron that turns a profit.

Not even Google gets a solid hit on it. So I'm not sure what the backstory might be but even a little imagination comes up with a theology in which early automakers take the place of the apostles and it goes downhill from there.... Shudderworthty but you know someone, somewhere is looking at the idea right now, nodding and designing the garage/chapel.

So, does Tucker get cast as The Adversary?

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Synthetic Outrage, Latest Edition

For the umpteenth time, a "progressive"/liberal/whatever columnist or blogger has discovered -- oh gasp horror -- that private clubs (most places) get to dictate who may or may not join. Ooooo, the awfulness!

Which part of the word "private" is she missing out on? I think the problem stems, in part, from believing "legal" is or ought to be the same as "ethical," "fair," "moral" or "nice," none of which it necessarily is or even can be.

--Mind you, I'm not saying I approve of arbitrary discrimination; I'm saying that at a private club of which I am not a member, it's none of my darned business -- and no business of the .gov's, either.

Defiance Of Common Sense Award for this: "It may surprise some Americans to learn that not only do certain private clubs still refuse to admit African-Americans, women, and gay people, but that this kind of enrollment discrimination is considered perfectly legal." [emphasis mine] No, it is "perfectly legal." It's 2009 and you'd be hard-pressed to find a venue where "this kind of enrollment discrimination" hasn't already been tested in court. Don't like it? Join the club and work to change its policies -- or STHU.

I await with great interest the day -- probably in California -- when a huge lot culturally conservative folks join a gay bathhouse under anti-discrimination laws and turn it into a chaste place to go have a steambath. What goes around, comes around.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Chewing Gum For Your Brain

Somewhere in Hell, Colonel McCormick and H. L. Mencken are snickering through tears. The media's two-week orgy of adulation and mourning over the late Micheal Jackson has, if nothing else, removed whatever lingering doubts I had that network news, including all the news-only cable channels, was about anything but entertainment, a kind of aggressively oversized and even more vapid restatement of "Entertainment Tonight" cloaked in a thin tissue of faux-journalism.

President in Russia, looking like a deer in the headlights? Micheal Jackson is dead!
Economy auguring in? Weeping mourners add flowers to impromptu shrine for Jackson!
Congress ponders massive restructuring of your health care? Live, high-definition coverage of the Jackson memorial service!
...And on and on.

I'm still waiting to hear the announcement that the CDC is launching a crash program to cure pederasty, to be named in the late singer's honor.

"...There's Men Who'd Do It Gladly..."

The headline tells the story: "Cover charge at this club? An RFID implant!" Yeah, not just tagged for life: paying to be tagged for life for a trivial reason.
Bonus round won by Bob G, who correctly identified the post title as being from War Of The Worlds, perhaps most memorably in the Mercury Theatre radio play.
Bonus round: Name the source of the title of this post and win...public recognition that you knew then answer!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Attack Of The Left

...On their newest President? Yep. Writes Ted Rall, about George W. Bush: "He was the worst president the U.S. had ever had. Until this one." "This one" would be Mr. Obama. And he closes with, "Sorry, Mr. Bush. If I'd known what was coming, I would've been nicer."

Ow. Short honeymoon.

Robert Strange McNamara, 1916 - 2009

It's old news: Secretary of Defense in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, Robert McNamara died yesterday.

The same man who gave us the Defense Intelligence Agency and touted Mutually Assured Destruction as the best deterrence against the U.S.S.R. also gave us the Ford Falcon and strongly opposed the Edsel, almost from its inception -- make of it what you will.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Seen On The Intarwebz

Sometimes I feel old. Saw this picture of an item offered on an auction site, description: "Shiny old telephone, but the part you talk into is missing..."Um, no. No. Really, no.


Just looked at the weather and better weather for riding, you could not ask. I rid one day last week (and meant to blog about it); perhaps I can do a little better this week.

Picked up a nasty habit over the Winter, staying up too late on school nights. That's a real downcheck for riding for me; I can get through the day well enough but at happy-go-home time, I'm just... too... sleepy... to be comfortable herding a tiny two-wheeler through the near Northside. Did a little better that way last night, despite a woodworking project and the attractions of my hamshack, which is in a semi-functional state at long last.

So, vroom? Vroom indeed, if I head towards the shower shortly!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

"Gee, Your Totalitarianism Smells Terrific!"

Creepy -- and yet, how shampoo commercial!

Tam found it, I came up with the line, we matched pennies, I won. Yayy, double-headed penny!


Rec'd in the "R.X." mailbox 'tother day, a suggestion:

"Would folks entertain having the next Blogmeet at the Rockbottom Brewery off W. 86th. St.?"

I've driven by the place on several occasions and it looks interesting. Nice menu. Whattaya think?

I'm leaning to the 19th, on account of people bein' in town. Your input sought!

Independence Day Thought

(The headache's not fading but what else am I gonna do to pass the time? Some of the commenters at Tam's are makin' it worse, in fact).

Just a reminder, one for which I may catch hell: The Declaration of Independence? It has no legal standing. While philosophically, emotionally, it is indeed one of this country's "founding documents, in actual fact it is nothing of the sort; the founding document is the Constitution (and it does not express quite the same sentiments; closest we get is found in the first ten amendments).

The Declaration of Independence didn't even start the Revolutionary War -- there was fighting aplenty going on before it was drafted.

Don't get me wrong. There's more there I agree with and approve of in the Declaration than can be found in the Constitution. But it's just the flashy ad for the cruise trip; the Constitution's the trip itself, dripping faucets and all.

Where am I going with all this? Just one place: on 4 July, we celebrate an idea, not a government. And not even a country: an idea. An idea that people did not merely debate in correspondence but one they fought, bled and died for.


...I'd post something but right now I have one of those one-sided headaches that explains why archaeologists occasionally find evidence of the ancients having drilled holes in their own skulls. Eating a little something now so I can take ibuprofen as soon as I finish this.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

"Partisan Hyperbole"

Yeah, I gotcher dang pardy-zan eye-purr-bowlie, Slick. But it ain't here. Tam writes a perfectly Tamlike post, criticizing by implication a wide array of Government-Here-To-Help idiocy from all across the conventional political spectrooom'n'drang, an' maroooooons take offense. Either it's "partisan" or she's not blamin' the electorate hard enough.


Sturgeon, Theodore: "And Now The News." Go read it. And be thankful Tamara K.'s got a barbed wit to wield instead.

Independance Day!

I'm not especially sanguine about where our Great Experiment is going but withal, if you look at where it came from and where it's been, the United States of America is a special place.

Just about time to break out the ol' Gadsden Flag, spend a while reflecting -- and another while playing with fire and whooping it up!

Friday, July 03, 2009

You Will Not Believe Me

I just saw Tamara not finish a freshly-grilled steak because she had filled up on corn.

Grilled corn-on-the-cob, mind you, with a nice pat of Irish butter, cleaned, rewrapped in its own damp husks and encased in aluminum foil, which I had not made that way for a long time. It isgood with any decent corn and this time, the supermarket had laid hands on some of the Very Best Sweet corn. It was darned good!

We had four cobs, two each, and were she not a friend (and better armed), I might've offered to fight her for the last one.

Heavens, that was good! About 25 minutes on the grill, only turned it the once. Ahhh! Like fresh tomatoes, grilled corn is the taste of summer.

Tastes Vary

F'rinstance, say you were a Yip-Yip and y'found a radio....
There's no accounting for taste.

Science Genius Girl

(If you don't like electronica, don't click Play).
This one is almost about me. Almost!
I wonder what Raymond Scott would have thought about Freezepop?

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Car Question

Finding myself in the untenable position of owning two small cars, one not presently running or roadworthy and the other in need of some serious work,* I am trying to decide how to proceed.

I don't like having to make car payments. Owning a shiny new car is simply not worth the bother and cost to me.

I do like small, quirky cars. I like older cars.

My non-roadworthy car is a '74 MGB. When it was garaged, it needed a new brake master cylinder, possibly some fuel system work, the seats were overdue for rebuilding, one (wire) wheel needed replacement and it had a mild case of sill rot. That can only have become worse in the intervening years (I know the top has perished). It'll take time and money to get it back on the road -- though last I knew, there was a good MG restoration shop here in Indianapolis.

So here's the question: what would you do? I could drop off the 'B and throw money at it 'til it was a car again. I've driven this one and its predecessor year 'round in the past and I like them. On the other hand, it'll take no small amount of cash and probably a lot of time before my MGB is in even useable shape.

I've been looking at MGB-GTs on auction sites. Really like them and some look good, the problem being that rust issues endemic to the breed mean nice-looking MGs can be Bondoed up in a trice...and will revert to being junkyard fodder within months of purchase. The only way to tell is to go lay hands on 'em, a project that quickly founders on lack of time and airfare.

Another option would be a buy a small truck and sell the Hyundai. That'd give me something useful for transportation and I could still play at sportscar ownership if I wanted to. (I've owned pickup trucks before -- even a Ford F150, way back when).

Or I could buy something else. But what else? Most of what I see on the roads now is either too expensive or I dislike it. The Hyundai Accents I've owned -- three! -- were all bought with the thought that they were "disposable cars," commuter vehicles cheap enough to buy for cash.

Any advice?
* All three of the Hyundai Accents I have owned have had very short-lived rear brakes, so much so that I suspect serious design flaws.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

All Day Movie

Let's see --

Global recession/depression? Check.

Democrat President with socialistish leanings who utters vague platitudes while cultivating a cult of personality and pushing programs that make the economy worse? Check. Smoker? Check!

First Lady Redder than her hubby? Check.

Congress full of idiots who are On Board with the The Prez? Check.

Wacky-and-not-in-a-good-way Pacific Rim (Asian Division) country's leader(s) thinkin' about doin' nasty to Hawaii? Check.

...Darned if it doesn't appear to be gettin' close to where I came in. One World War and 1.25 "police actions" to go and I'll have seen the whole film!

(Oh, dear, I think the sad part where they assassinate Hector Bywater is coming up pretty soon. Or did it happen already?)


Getting It Wrong At The Supreme Court

It should come as no surprise that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has only a tenuous connection to reality, though her willingness to expose it might be.

In the recent Ricci decision, the good Justice decided to read her dissent from the bench -- and in what night be read as an expression of sisterhood, made use of the word "empathy" in describing what see felt was the proper course of action.

The situation? Seems the fire department of New Haven, CT had a test for promotion; and when no African-American firefighters passed the test, instead of the city making more of an effort to attract more-qualified Black firefighters, they panicked and threw the test out. Caucasian and Hispanic firefighters sued, alleging discrimination (and note the majority opinion of the High Court was they were right). No word, I guess, from Asian or Pacific Islander firefighters.

This is the cold, dead hand of Woodrow Wilson's Democratic Party, reaching out with the soft bigotry of low expectations. telling us, "that's all they're capable of, poor creatures." Bullshit! Pure, unadulterated, triple-strength bilge and hokum! It's 2009 and just about the only groups that have to be reminded of the countervailing examples all around 'em are unregenerate racists and liberals -- but I repeat myself.

And BS again over the invidious idea that "candidates for a promotion don't need to be the best; they need simply have qualifications that are only 'necessary to successful performance of the job in question.'" So if Justice Ginsburg's house is burning down, she's okay with firefighters led by the barely adequate instead of by the best? Fine for you, Judge, but I'd rather have the starters than the benchwarmers, myself.

New Haven, the majority on the bench was right and Justice Ginsberg and her three buddies are clueless; put the test back in and if you've got some demographic goal, put your attentions to the input end of the process. There are plenty of firefighters out there with a real knack for the job and it's not linked to their complexion.

...But what still has my blood boiling is this burning desire to define tests down to achieve "balance." It shows up in public safety jobs and the military these days but public safety is the most damaged by it -- there are often different physical requirements for the boys and the girls, yet once they qualify, they do the same job. This is the worst sort of foolishness; if a fireman's got to be able to carry X weight for Y distance under Z conditions, then a firewoman had better be able to do so, too, or she's gonna have to leave someone to die that her brothers would've been able to save. Unfair? --It may have the effect of setting the bar higher for women than for men but it does not make it impossible, and it could be your loved ones or even you, left to burn by someone who only got in because the bar was lowered.

Some jobs take strength or stamina; some take great powers of concetration and fine motor control. Some -- Supreme Court Justice, perhaps? -- merely take good sitting-down muscles at both ends. And many jobs require some basic abilities that if you, personally, lack 'em, you had not ought to be doing that job. Not even if Justice Ginsburg thinks it would be "fair."