Monday, August 31, 2009

Another Day, Part 14


Security officers on a starship work in an environment that has more in common with Andy Griffith's Mayberry sheriff than most law enforcement types; while the ship is indeed leaping through the limitless cosmos -- or at least the Earth portion of the Hidden Frontier (less the worlds settled from France and China and, mostly, the two hardline ex-Soviet worlds) -- a starship between planetfalls amounts to a small town with no roads out. Additionally, Security answers to the Captain and ultimately to the Starship Company, not a Mayor and Town Council.

As a result, Security is more inclined to wait situations out and the officers are encouraged to apply logic and common sense instead of no-tolerance rules, to de-escalate instead of arrest, confrontation or other ways of bothering the Security Director. All of which goes to explain why there was not a lot of shouting and shoving; John stepped to one side of the opening through which he'd entered, saying, "Keep your hands where I can see 'em, Mister," adding, "--Alan, hang back," while keeping his attention on the seated man. "All right, whoever you are, we're going to take you out of here. 'S that a problem?"

"'Vill,' please, and I shall come along quietly. Do be careful of the urns."

"Stand up, slowly, hands in sight, do not move until I tell you; it's gonna be a lot easier getting back out if I don't have to cuff you - - Er, '...Urns?'"


Not Green, Just Bloodless

How to open plastic clamshell packaging and not maim yourself!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Tiny Guns Of Canada

David Kucer Miniatures. Go see!

Found via a comment to this post at BoingBoing.


(Say it three times fast with a mouthfulla ice cubes and win a set of plans for your very own fallout shelter!)

Tam links to a story about a bill that'd left the Feds officially pull the plug on this here Innernet. In one sense, it's silly to think this power doesn't already exist; The Phone Company has been deeply, madly in bed with the Feds for years, since before the tax on long distance to fund the Spanish-American War, even, and if Uncle Sugar were t'ring 'em up and say, "Internet. Off. Now," screens would go blank while the last syllable was still echoing.

It is nevertheless troubling when they wanna make it Official. Sort of sets it out of reach of serious censure in any public forum; like the hideously-misnamed USA PATRIOT Act, there might be plenty of whining 'round the edges but, "Hey, it's the Law," still commands inherent respect, same way my "The Revolution Will Not Be Telegraphed" T-shirt* gets narrow and suspicious looks at gun shows.

...And I can't help but remember that one of the things Claire Wolfe was blogging about (or was it in the old BBS?) before she decided to drop off the grid even more was how to get around a big ol' net.shutdown, by cranking the clock back to FidoNet or havin' a go at amateur packet radio (license required. Batteries not included).

The 'net is fine for fun but please remember, the blame thing is not all that reliable or trustworthy unless your name ends in .mil or .gov, and it never was; and I would not get too comfy with anything dial-up based, either.
* Maybe they misremember the Gil Scott Heron tune?

Saturday, August 29, 2009


Wired's Danger Room has been collecting "most awesomely bad military patches" for quite some time -- have to say my fave is the "W.W.J.S" at the top.

...Then there are the patches for classified satellite launches, some of which will make you wonder where you left that shiny, shiny hat. H'mm, so...didn't want 'em to be that secret, then? It's the highly-visible security camera trick: since some folks will only play nice if they know somebody's watching, make darned sure the watching is obvious.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Wiki/Web Wander

I did it the other direction but it works even better backwards: what does James Joyce have in common with a Purdue student?

...Bad friends, is what. However, Joyce had a better outcome and a very different venue.

Of course, that's just one example; the Brits had weirder than that. And,t come the next century, got odder still!

The idea returned later; when thing settled down, they found a new life. Eventually, one of the persons doing that decided he'd make new country.

And here's the thing: the endpoints of this arc are both in my blog.


"When pigs fly:" Never gonna happen.

"Swine flew:" Unavoidable horror! Panic now!

--Oh, wait, that was supposed to be "flu." Still, odd convergence of opposites, innit?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Drones Droning About Drones

Bonus hysteria: the word "atomics" prominently featured!

The Nation soils itself over UAVs and whines the company that makes them is a cybernetic Blackwater. Oh, doesn't everyone involved just wish.

Srsly, were they not watching the last 20 - 30 years? The last 90? I admit, it took Bruce Sterling to show me them but that was in nineteen-frickin'-eighty-eight and he was describing hardware already flying. The first working UAVs appeared in 1916 and a later version blew up the first Kennedy of the generation just passed.

Oh, but it's suddenly a scourge now. 'Cos we might be blowin' up Muslim terrorists with them and everything is a surprise to the ignorant-of-history flutterati.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Horror-Movie Cliche:

Just when you thought it was safe, there's another one of them!

Well, that was predictable.

Sadly, the story notes as routine that Senate openings are rare. Let's stop sending incumbents back. I don't care how happy you are with your guy, or me with mine (not. Not at all), give them a nice vacation: present your Senators and Representatives with a term off! C'mon, either they're such hard-workin' guys and gals they deserve it, or they're such meddling jerks they have it coming, right? We shouldn't have to be waiting for them to die before we check out new talent. It's hard to see how new blood could do any worse than what we've got now.

Update: I'm not the only one who thinks so.

Ted Kennedy Est Mortuus

I suppose it was heartless of me that my first thought was "Finally, something to get the media off Michael Jackson's corpse!"

I read with some interest, "Under state law, Kennedy's successor will be chosen by special election. In his last known public act, the senator urged state officials to give Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick the power to name an interim replacement. " For a supposed lifelong champion of The People, not to mention Democracy, this seems a tad askew. I guess the wisdom of the electorate is not to be questioned -- unless the outcome might not be to one's liking or the pause to accommodate it inconvenient. The late Senator is beyond such worries now, though we will have several weeks of Televised Mourning to endure; and perhaps with a little more dignity than the immediately previous celebrity death.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I Was So Let Down...

...When I learned that a Jumbotron was not a synthesizer for elephants. So wrong!!!

If I Was Beside Myself, It Would Help

There is, though, only the one of me. My head is still caught in vice jaws labelled "home lender" and "State property taxes" and it looks to be a close squeeze. I cannot do much about but get through it or fail in the effort, so why not whine to you?

...Times are tough all over, is why. I'm trying to find out the current status of my application for the several exemptions that would reduce my tax burden and (therefore) bring down my escrow amounts but it is slow going. (Several readers have suggested I spin the taxes out of loan but I can't -- as a first-time home-buyer of modest means, the choice was not and is not available).

So if I seem a bit distracted, if there's a lot more "linky" than "thinky" some mornings, now you know why. The next couple of months will tell the tale. I'm moderately hopeful but I'm having to cut outlay to the bone. Oh, waaaaaah, I've got a roof over my head now and looks like I'll keep it, I should maybe not fret so much. Easier said than done!

Monday, August 24, 2009


Update: So, I'm seein' the West Lafayette Po-leeece Chief and some wonk from the Uni on the ijit box, talkin' about how this "shows that college campii are no place for guns."

Except, you malodorous ghits, it didn't happen on the campus. Fools, deadly fools, but they played by Purdue's rules while ignoring Col. Cooper's.

(It is my opinion that the two morons in question [soon if not already to be described by their families as "wonderful boys" and probably in possession of entirely satisfactory IQ scores] were eventually going to try some dumb stunt likely to kill or injure a person or persons and we're probably lucky they only killed one guy; a fellow who will play such tricks with a real gun will do other idiotic pranks as well, some of which can have far wider effect. While I think it is a very bad trade, one man's life for two idiots in jail and likely barred for life from ever touching firearms again, it is not the worst we could have seen; and as for those who fret over the two perps having "lost so much," they have lost nothing they did not wilfully throw away. I say society has gained a lot by stopping them now. Irresponsible young adults with a college degree become irresponsible adults, let loose on a world that presumes them competent and trustworthy by dint of a diploma: ticking time bombs. The only loss here was their victim, whose greatest mistake was trusting them).

Rule One: it's for everybody. Even college students. Not that the two in question paid any attention -- no, they thought it would be amusing to scare their buddy by pointing handguns at him and pulling the triggers.

This stops being amusing when one of the weapons has a live round in the chamber. Which is -- class, when are guns loaded? All the time.

The dumbassery in question is, in fact, a violation of Rules 1 through 3, plus 4.b and a highly questionable application of 4.a. (Plus, possibly, the Rule that suggests not operating dangerous machinery after an afternoon spent with Demon Rum or any of its kin; give these over-21 boys motorcycles or chainsaws and I suspect the outcome would have been the same).

The one happy note: Students interviewed in the associated video correctly quote Rule One. Why we are not teaching the Four Rules in our schools -- or even in the Girl Scouts* -- I do not know; ignorance isn't the same thing as stupidity but curing the former is known to be of some help in alleviating problems caused by the latter.
* Some are.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Ray Stevens On Taxes

Y'know, as an agnostic I shouldn't even touch this, but I misdoubt any degree of official piety would induce our public servants to reduce their cut of our income to ten percent.

It's Sunday

Get outside. Or read a book. Do something.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Three Words

Government Health Care

Character Assassin

I was digging around in Slate, where they'd posted some interesting things about President Obama's slipping base (or, as a White House spokesman called them recently, "The Left of the Left") when I found a link embedded in the words "barely suppressed violence" [of the Town Halls]. "OMG," think I, "has SEIU become even more brutal?"

But no. The link leads to a hatchet-job on the character of William Kostric, the Free-Stater who quite peaceably carried his sidearm well outside the secured area of a health-care rally at which the President spoke. Seems he actually signed the Free State Project Pledge and was a Ron Paul supporter, who'd'a thunk it? The "dirt" dug up outlines an ordinary FSP-type libertarian, right down to a letter critical of the official violence engendered by the War on (Some) Drugs. But this, in Joan Walsh's whacky world, somehow constitutes evidence of ill-will on the part of a man she accuses of "barely suppressed violence."

Hey, ijit, point to it! Point to the "violence" and then the "suppression," 'cos all I saw was a guy standing, holding up a sign, who had an object on his belt and kept it there.

(On the other hand, a real beat-down by purpleshirts gets no mention at all from Ms. Walsh. If you cut us, it seems, we do not bleed. Not, like, real people blood; to confirm this, read even a little of the Comments to the article, in which fervid Lefties speak of the guillotine and promise Mr. Kostric he'll "get what he asked for." What, a smaller gummint? No? Aw, rats).

Real story: the Left, especially the far Left, is losing big on health care and they're looking for someone to blame.
Full disclosure: I think the War on (Some) Drugs is idiocy, I carry a handgun anywhere it is not prohibited and I was a big supporter of the Free State Project, right up until they picked New Hampshire, presumably because Sealand, the Walled City of Kowloon and the Warsaw Ghetto were all unavailable.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Clearly Didn't Watch Serenity

Or did they? Somehow this BoingBoing article on neuro-drugs as weapons never mentions that film's projected government use of an aerosol anti-aggression drug while reporting about real-world governmnet investigations into "calmatives," "...drugs could be 'used to pacify aggressive people.'"

Art, Life...such a fine line. Such a pitifully fine line. "O Brave New World..."

Brits Once Again Shocked

...Simply shocked that people who loathe Western Civilization are ungrateful when the Crown throws them a bone.

They (actually, Scotland's government and if only I had another couple of hours to go sort that out) sent convicted mass-murderer Abdel Basset al-Megrahi back home, freeing an unrepentant bloody-handed killer on the excuse his prostate cancer is fatal. Geez, too bad; so was buying a plane ticket the last time he was on the loose. A bum prostate means he won't use his remaining time and hero status to do more harm?

Oh, but now? Now the UK's Foreign Secretary scolds, "How the Libyan government handles itself in the next few days will be very significant in the way the world views Libya's re-entry into the civilized community of nations."

I'm sure they'll find his stern words daunting. Riiiiight.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Illogic All Around

So, "Congresswoman" Eleanor Holmes Norton, non-voting Delegate to the House of Representatives from the District of Colombia, has proposed DHS and SS disarm all citizens within miles of the President. Sebastian reported it, with a link to her website, where my attention was caught by what she (or, to be fair, her office) considers a "poll:"Here's a closer look:
This is an example of "fair and open investigation" as seen from the elected Left: there's no room at all for meaningful dissent and the options are your choice of A) Do me! B)You've already done me! and C) Tell me more about how you will do me!

It's even better than an old-fashioned Soviet election.

Sheesh. And she wants me to listen to her "leadership" and "wisdom" about firearms?

Scooter Commuting

I have not written of it much, but whenever the weather's been good enough (and it hasn't looked to be a workday of 12 or more hours), I've ridden my motor scooter to work.

This week, the prediction called for rain Monday and Tuesday and was in a hurry anyway, so I drove. Sunshine both days. So, naturally, when Wednesday was gonna be "mostly sunny, no significant rainfall," I should have been suspicious.

But I wasn't. The commute in was nice, too, warm and a bit sticky when stopped but comfy as can be in motion.

The storm hit right as my shift ended; I'd snuck my scooter into the company garage earlier, when a little shower had blown through, so I sat and watched the storm blow through. Twenty-plus minutes later, the sun came out. Traffic was moving right along and off I went. H'm, a lot of standing water, better be careful....

Careful I was but about a mile up the road, as I coasted to a stop and applied the brakes, as close to 0 mph as you can get and still have a little momentum, I felt the back of the scooter lose traction and it started to fall. Got off the brakes, back to vertical -- overcorrected as I came to a stop, realized I wasn't gonna recover* and with both feet on the pavement, managed to ease the scooter down, then tripped over the handlebar and sat down abruptly in a nice patch of very oily water. The engine roared as it went horizontal and I fumbled the kill switch to OFF.

Not a wreck per se, though drivers each side of me reacted as if it had been. A nice young man to my left got out of his car, asked if I was okay and helped me right the bike and a lady to the right offered to call 911. I was okay, my bike looked okay on quick inspection and it started up well enough, so when the light changed, I went up about a block top an open parking space for a slightly closer check.

I was a little shaky and the look-over was quick but it all seemed okay and I proceeded on home, even more slowly than before. Felt another ice-like patch two stoplights on but by then I had picked up a bit more of a clue: the abrupt, heavy rain had left the (slightly depressed) tire-track areas full of water, I had moved away from them and had instead tried to stop in the oilier center of the lane. Cle-ver.

Usually, if you get a good rain, the slick bits are washed off in less than a half hour. "Usually" is not "always."

With 10" tires, the contact area for each one is about the size an old fifty-cent piece, if that. Since I've only got a few years riding experience, I try to avoid riding on wet pavement; I've been caught out in the rain before but never on heavily-traveled streets.

Yesterday's lesson: even when you think you're being careful, you can sabotage your efforts. The only thing that prevented a worse outcome was my modicum of caution in slowing way down as I approached the intersection.

There's no teacher like experience.
* The "little motorscooter" weighs 260 pounds, I weigh far less. I can not catch it once it has gone past the tipping point.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Insurance Lawsuit Music Video

I doubt if "I'm gettin' a songwriter!" will become the cry of the ill-used, but word is this based-on-a-real-incident tune did get an airline to offer settlement after the usual means had failed.

Catchy tune.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Orbital Vacation

Excalibur Almaz has announced they're on track to offer commercial manned orbital spaceflight, possibly as soon as 2013.

I'd noticed EA in the past -- they are, interestingly enough, incorporated on the Isle of Man -- but hadn't heard much until now. Commercial passenger travel to orbit! Hooray!

...Even if it is gonna make keeping the Hidden Frontier hidden even more of a problem.

Paul Helmke, Wrong Again

I love this. In a wire-service story about the growing trend of peacefully carrying weapons at political events, Brady Spokeswhiner Paul Helmke said that people who bring guns to presidential events are distracting the Secret Service and law enforcement from protecting the president. "The more guns we see at more events like this, there's more potential for something tragic happening," he added.

Followed immediately by this paragraph:

Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said armed demonstrators in open-carry states such as Arizona and New Hampshire have little impact on security plans for the president. [Emphasis mine]

Oops, Paul. Try again!

Gitcher 'Noid On

Russian Ship Hijacked -- Or Not?

The story as told seems a Some experts think so, too. And where was Jack Ryan when all this happened?

Indiana's Anti-Gun Mayors

Vote 'em out!
Mayor Richard Hickman, Angola, IN
Mayor Fred Armstrong, Columbus, IN
Mayor Thomas C. Henry, Fort Wayne, IN
Mayor Allan Kauffman, Goshen, IN
Mayor Tom Jones, Linton, IN
Mayor Bruce Hosier, Portland, IN
Mayor Stephen Luecke, South Bend, IN
Mayor Barbara Ewing, Tell City, IN
Mayor Ernest B. Wiggins, Warsaw, IN

And let 'em know why!

(Bitter did it first and she even has a nice map for Pennsylvania).

Monday, August 17, 2009

Man Aloft! (Also I Just Woke Up)

So, I like open my eyes and someone has got Monday all over everything. Ew.

Worked in the wee small hours either last night or this morning, depending on which key you play it in.

Just as an exercise and bearing in mind that I was Miss Safety Officer and not of one the people doin' the scary stuff, imagine ("if you will," as Rod Serling said) that you have to work about nine hundred feet above ground, on a steel truss structure almost ten feet by ten feet. Imagine you can ride a tiny elevator to that height, at which point you must climb onto a narrow balcony-type platform and climb a conventional ladder up the outside of the truss for twenty feet and then the real fun begins: There is a platform atop the truss, which supports a pole about a foot in diameter and one hundred feet tall. You have to climb to the top of it. There are climbing pegs, but they seem to have been spaced for someone just under seven feet tall. To make matters worse, there is a gossamer-fine triple spiral of metal wire around the pole, through which you must reach to grab the pegs. The spiral of wire won't support your weight and must not be touched. Oh, yes, at two points, 33 and 66 feet up, there is a wide spot about four feet across; the pegs are a little longer there but you're climbing around an overhang.

All of this, mind you, lit only by the stars and the distant red lamps below.

Nowhere in this climb is there a place to rest and at no time do you have more than two points of contact. Once you arrive at the top, you are faced with an overhanging red light two feet across and nearly six feet tall, hinged in the center like a Ronson lighter, a huge light bulb in each half. It takes both hands to open it and replace the bulbs -- replacements you have carried all that way, dangling from your belt in a canvas bucket.

And on the distant horizon, lightning is flashing. Is it getting closer to you or farther away? You don't have time to watch.

Men head up to do that job standing tall and joking; they come back down a little quieter, with a tendency to smoke, sip coffee, stare off into the distance and sigh, "Damn, I'm glad we don't do that very often."

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Linguistic Patrol

(And you thought it had been forgot!)

A reminder:
"Iniquity" and "inequity" are not synonyms. Okay?

Cash For This Clunker?

Hey, "Cash For Clunkers" is a wonderful program, one that reduces the supply of cheap, working-but-crappy cars (just like the ones I drove when I was poor and still drive today, since I can buy them for cash) while increasing indebtedness, as people use their klunkersgeld* as part of the down payment on heavily-financed Brand! New! Cars!

Yeah, it sucks. Also, there's this book Tam and I keep in the loo for emergency reading, The World's Worst Cars [Amber Books, 2005], and in it we find the following description of one of the worstmobiles, "...[C]heaper and more ordinary-looking than previous offerings. ...[I]t looked stupid.... The only saving grace was the beautifully ornate interior. ...[S]uffered from horrendous turbo lag. It was slow off the mark, then the V6 engine's twin turbos could kick in with dramatic effect. Coupled to the rather crude chassis, this made it prone to terrifying oversteer, especially if the turbos came on in mid-bend." Still, the book reports 25 mpg and you wouldn't think a Maserati Biturbo would end up on the C4C scrap-heap no matter how bad it was.

You would, of course, be wrong.

(Bonus! Link is to a CNN video that opened with an ad for Bank of America that talks about their tremendous tools. The term is dead accurate, based on the telephone conversations I had with them after they jacked my house payments way up: I met up with tremendous tools all 'round. Refreshing to encounter that kind of honesty in this day and age, really).
* A word in no language ever used on this planet, at least as far as I know. Kinda catchy, innit?

Bren Ten Returns?

I remembered reading about the Vltor Fortis awhile back. It kind of faded out and I figured it for more fascinating vaporware, but ha-ha-ha, guess again: there's more news now.

It wasn't enough for Vltor to step on cracks and break mirrors over their 10mm hand cannon, oh shucky-darn no, they had to go and name it after the ill-fated sidearm it emulates!

Not-quite-serious joking aside, I wish them luck. 10mm is a bit rich for my blood in many senses but it's an interesting product; Tangfolio Tanfoglio* (via EAA) offers a similar handgun, though I think it may be based on their .45ACP updesign of the basic CZ-75 mechanicals. 10mm has a reputation for being rough on slides and frames. Vltor, going into the design process well aware of the 10mm's established history, may have something new to add to the long and winding saga of the round that fathered the shorty .40 -- time will tell. It's still vaporware to me 'til I hold one in my hand and at least see it shot.

Thanx to TD for the info!
* There's something weird happens between my brain and the keyboard, not dyslexia but another manifestation of the clumsiness that has dogged me all my life. Keystrokes arrive out of sequence, syllables are omitted, it's just wrong. Working on touch-typing helps and I catch most of the mistakes but not all of them.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Actual Poll Results About Health Care

You want some light to go with that heat? Try this.

Here's a taste:
Democrats are left with a public that supports overhauling the nation's system but they lack a public personally invested in that overhaul. The public supports reform but have come to believe reform will not support them.
Darn skippy it won't.

Beauty Tips (No, Really)

Makeup maven Michelle Phan on the perfect use for those business cards: keeping mascara off one's eyelids.

I have been wearin' mascara for (mumble-mumble) years and this never occurred to me.

Side note, Ms. Phan is way sharp! Stumbled on to her vids on a search looking into school uniforms for a post that never jelled; she's got a short bit on how to accessorize and individualize such uniforms without quite breaking the rules. Most of her makeup tips and allllll the looks are far too young for me but it's fun stuff. (Also, anyone who can apply liquid eyeliner without breaking into a cold sweat? OMG, I am so jealous).

Gun For Sale

It was "Hello and goodbye" for me and my Arisaka rifle at Beech Grove Firearms today. I put it on layaway back before the economy tanked and had only been back twice, with one thing and another. Went down today to pay off the last little bit and remarked I was just going to have to sell it. "Might as well leave it here, then," the boys told me, and after a little paperwork, back on the rack it went.

It's a pretty example, complete with intact Imperial chrysanthemum and Japanese date. It even includes the matching bayonet! It would not have been much practical use to me, as I am not a rifle-shooter and there aren't very many places to shoot rifles around here, anyway. ("'Sour grapes,' said the fox.")

Priced to move at $275 complete! Check it out at Beech Grove Firearms. Tell it I said, "Hi," okay?

Shop Whole Foods?

Maybe. Seems the founder/owner/whatever is speakin' out against nationalsocializing our health care and his hippie customer base is all squicked by it.

If the looters and class warriors are opposed to it, there's a good chance I will be for it. Haven't visited Whole Foods since they came to town (and gobbled up a smaller hippiemart) but I will now.

Update: Uncle noticed, too.

Updateder: If you're curious what makes him tick, freedom writer Sunni Maravillosa interviewed Whole Food's CEO John Mackey way back in 2005.

Bed-Wetter In Town

Anti-gunner and distorter-of-statistics Paul Helmke will be speaking in Indianapolis tonight. It seems Indiana gun laws fret him, since our gun stores will sell to any adult who can pass a (Brady-Bill!) Federal background check.

....Hey, waidaminnit, isn't that the bill his little group wanted, as a way to keep bad guys from gettin' guns? Odd, now they appear to believe it isn't enough.

Of course, any measure short of an outright prohibition isn't enough for the antis, and the firearms murder rates in Chicago and Washington, D.C. show just how well a ban works. You're safer in gun-friendly Indianapolis than either of those cities! My gosh, it would appear Brady-approved gun laws leave only criminals armed and make honest citizens defenseless, who'd've thunkit?

As for "weak Indiana gun laws," let me remind Mr. Helmke's fans that Indiana makes darned little provision for carrying handguns, even unloaded, without having a License To Carry Handgun, which is issued only after a background check run by the State Police and requiring several weeks. And you think our gun laws are lax?

Anyway, Panicky Paul, 6:00 p.m., Lecture Hall down at IUPUI. Might be fun to go down and put a few questions to him. Interested? Remember, IUPUI regs disallow the bearing of arms on their campus...and they do have their own cops.

A nod to Joe Huffman for the tip!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Cultivating A Sense Of Inevitability

A co-worker said to me today, "If national health care is such a bad idea, why are the insurance companies all lobbying for it?

I boggled. "They're not!"

"Oh, sure they are. I saw that 'Harry and Louise' commercial just last night."

"That's Pharma. They're not an insurance company."

"Well," says he, "There are others, too."

Yeah, but none of them are insurance companies, either, as near as I can find. But it doesn't matter; this, along with the stacked-deck Potemkin village "Town Hall Meetings" are all part and parcel of an effort to cultivate an air of inevitability about the whole thing; demonizing and marginalizing protesters against it while the obedient Press bleats in favor of it is a big piece of the process, too. How they can claim straight-faced that SEIU and hired-thug boosters, bussed in with preprinted, mass-produced placards are "real grassroots" while protestors carrying hand-lettered signs are mere "Astroturf" is beyond me.

They've probably got the votes to nationalsocialize healthcare; but they want to be blessed by their victim's acquiescence. It is not enough for this Administration, this Congress to rape us over health care, they want us to ask for it first.

Dream on, Lefties.

Birth Of A...Hey!

So, Hot Air links to an L. A. Weakie Weekly piece citing the President-as-Joker image (The Mr. Obama one, that is, and not the Mr. G. W. Bush one) as evidence of the Republicans employing Birth of a Nation imagery....

Gee, Birth of a Nation...political party...President.... It reminds me of something.... Let's see here:
However, President and former history professor Woodrow Wilson viewed the film at the White House and proclaimed it not only historically accurate, but like "history writ with lightning."
Or, you know, with a blazing cross. Mr. Wilson, of course a famous Republican Democrat, is also warmly remembered (in the "deserves a seat right close to the sulfurous fires of Hell" sense) as the President who segregated the Federal government.

Feckwits. IMO, the GOP has an awful lot to answer for but I've yet to see 'em -- them, mind you, the actual Party, not some posturing radio chat-show host -- go all D. W. Griffith on Mr. Obama.

(Wilson was too long ago a Democrat, you say? How about LBJ?)

The Left Continues To Whine

The healthcare debate has revealed that Americans suffer from a compassion deficiency. Many of us would prefer that our fellow citizens go without medical care rather than make even the slightest of sacrifices.

Hey, wow, got it in one, bleeding-heart boy!

Where'n'hell do you get off, tellin' me I have to make sacrifices 'cos other people have made bad choices or had bad luck? Saying things like, "Apparently, there are a lot of folks who would choose to have young mothers with cancer go without chemotherapy, instead of giving up a bit of that disposable income that is our badge of freedom and individualism," is not the way to move me. You know how much of my freedom and individualism I'll give up? Zero. None.

If you wanna pass the hat for Young Mothers With Cancer, I'll toss in a fiver -- which I don't have to spare -- but that's not actually what nationalsocialized health care is about; rather, it is about taxing me (or the family I work for, which turns out to come to the same thing, since if you hit them harder, they'll just ask me to forgo my my next raise in addition to the one all my co-workers and I had to pass up not to long ago) to support yet another bunch of droning bureaucrats who will pass on some small fraction of my tax money to some percentage -- less than 100%, count on it! --- of cancerous young mothers.

But as it turns out, that's not this fellow's real problem; nope, what bugs him the very most about us cold, uncaring Americans and our attitude towards being taxed even harder so bums can get heart transplants free for nothin' is that he wants "...the peace of mind that comes with knowing that they don't have to think of their less fortunate but sick countryman going without medical treatment."

Yes, friends, you and I ought to be forced to shoulder the burden of paying for other people's health care so our self-appointed betters don't have to sit up all night in a pool of their own tears, their little bottoms sodden and cold. How dare we make him all sad and diaper-rashy like that!

He's all fretful 'cos the plight of the poor does not motivate me, or at least the plight of poor children who are, in some crazy world in his mind where ERs are not required to treat whatever staggers in the door, not getting medical care; I dunno if he is worried about the ones starving to death, or freezing, or who have become dried-out husks in the desert, or who have been beaten to death, nor do I know just how much more heavily he is prepared to tax me and you and invade our freedom and privacy to save them; but I know one thing, I know there is no damn end to it once they get goin' down that sorry road.

You can't make this stuff up. If you did, nobody would believe it was real.

Update: Protest etiquette tips!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

BlogMeet Late Update

Sure enough, I left somebody out when listing the Bloggers who attended the meet! Tsk.


Just deleted (before hitting the "Publish" button) a nice whiny post about havin' much to do (and pay for) and not a lot of wherewithal. Well, ain't that just unique an' special?

Jeez-o-Pete, I'm sleeping in an actual house. With air-conditioning. And no cockroaches. Even just that much is worlds better than the places I lived most of my life.

Here's wishin' you happiness an' joy.

Oooooo, Man Had A Gun

Oooo. Icky-poo.

If I read or see one more word from the pantywaist brigade about the NH resident who was open-carrying a handgun and waving a sign quoting Thomas Jefferson along the route to be followed by the Presidential motorcade preceding yet another Nuremberg pro-nationalsocializing health care rally, I'm gonna start screaming. And it's not just the usual media nitwits on the Left wetting themselves; I'm seeing self-proclaimed "conservative" blogs doing it too, trotting out well-worn lines about the sanctity of the office an' the need for us little peoples to doff our caps properly, yadda-yadda.

Ladies? The President of the United States is just some guy; we stock a spare one and we have backups even to the spare.* He travels in a bulletproof vehicle. And as a general rule, even bugnuts assassins have enough mother-wit left to strike from hiding.

The Prez -- any of them! -- is no big deal. The Bill of Rights is a big deal. "President" does not trump "rights;" you've gotten your American History confused with Fuehrerprinzip. That's not how it works here, kthanx. Keep on acting like it does, and you'll make it so no matter what the laws say, ijits.

Relatedly, there are also reports of a "man with an unregistered gun" in the High School where Mr. Obama was going to speak. Ummmm, no, and not just the non-existent registry quibble: lad was carrying a pocket knife, so what. He did own a gun, which was locked in his car parked on school grounds (a likely no-no) but it was outside and he was inside, and y'know what security does for these events? They secure the building tighter'n a drum. Outside stays out, inside stays in, passage between the two involves wanding and a bag search every time. No passes for nobody nohow never (I have BTDT, I'm not just guessing). So: man here. Gun there. Walls and guards between. Unless he has psychic powers, this is not a threat.

Unless you're a self-soiling pantywaist.
* Including, to my horror, Nancy Pelosi. Jeez, people, willya pleeeeze vote?

Twenty-Five Feet of Laws

...And that's just the width of the spines of all fifty volumes of the Code Of Federal Regulations. Up from a couple inches in 1925, which I do not recall from my reading as being all that much more barbaric than our own enlightened times; they had Prohibition and we've got Federal drug laws, each creating its own assortment of gangs and the violence that comes with.

Go to the link. The photos speak for themselves.

I wonder how this might correlate to, say, percentage of the population with law degrees?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

James Madison Calling

(Worked a 14+ hour shift yesterday and have expectations of doing much the same today, yeeech).

As I am not up to writing a whole lot this morning, I thought I might hand the podium over to a Mr. James Madison. You may remember him from History class. Here's what he's got to say about bailouts, "Cash For Clunkers" and nationalsocializing healthcare:
"If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may appoint teachers in every State, county and parish and pay them out of their public treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may assume the provision of the poor; they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post-roads; in short, every thing, from the highest object of state legislation down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress.... Were the power of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for, it would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature of the limited Government established by the people of America."

I'll bet you thought you lived in the United States of the Framer's dreams, didn't you? ...As long as you bear in mind that "nightmares" is a subset of "dreams," you're right, too.

There's not a current or former Congresscritter, except maybe Ron Paul, who ought not be brought up on charges of treason and/or offenses against persons, be given a perfectly fair trial and be imprisoned for life at the very least. The Executive branch is equally culpable. Not gonna happen but hey, a gal can still dream, right? They haven't made that a Thoughtcrime yet, have they? Have they?

Monday, August 10, 2009


One day, you're reading online about them beating people up. Next day, you drive right by a brace of 'em and barely have time to snap a picture. Yes, SEIU was wavin' signs, right here in Indy.The sign says "Justice For Janitors," which seems a bit tinfoil-hatty to me. There are no chain-gang janitors in this state, just a few trustys moppin' in the lockup in the City-County building. And what a classy logo. You can't quite see the circle but the hand holding the hammer's clear enough. Oh, no, wait, it's supposed to be a mop or a broom seen from above, right? And not at all like a hammer. Oh no no no. And the circle? Why it is merely the mouth of a bucket, in no way shape or form intended to be reminding the onlooker of, like, a sickle. Shucks no.

Buncombe! Stuff and nonsense. We live in an image-saturated world and no matter if it is the scary original (and cancelled) public-edition of the FedGov's (IAO) Total Information Awareness program* using an eye-surmounted pyramid beaming the globe as their logo or this bunch invoking the hammer'n'sickle, emblem of that mahvelous ideology that's killed millions, produced Trabants while the West was makin' Mercedes and has managed to run an entire darn country out of toilet paper, nobody past grade school uses these symbols unaware of the message conveyed.

Message received, purpleshirts. You wanna wave signs on public land, you go right ahead; it's still a free country. Aimin' to stay that way, too, y'hear?
* Not to mention the covert, black-budget version. Which doesn't exist, not at all. Nobody here's sayin' any different. Go on about your business, subj- er, citizens.

Thank You, Farmer Frank

Tonight's dinner? Fire-roasted Indiana sweet corn from the garden of Frank W. James! ...Okay, we had some thick-cut hot-dill pickles, too, just for the contrast. On the corn? A little Irish butter. Dabba pepper. All I did was peel back the husks, clean 'em and put the damp husks back over after adding butter; wrap in foil, repeat with the next and by the time I had seven done, Tam had a nice bed of coals ready in the grill. Twenty minutes later: Yum!

So Sweet, It Glows

India is checking out a North Korean cargo ship loaded with sugar because they suspect it may be carryin' fissionables; seems Myanmar has asked their good, good pals in North Korea for help building a nice little reactor, 'cos all the kewl kids have nukes. India, for some reason, is just not down with that.

...Population density: it's self-correcting. Not usually in any sort of nice way.

In a totally unrelated item, Dean Ing's The Chernobyl Syndrome ...And How To Survive It, filled with practical tips on everything from wilderness camping to basement fallout shelters, continues to command surprisingly high prices on the used book market. And isn't there a James Wesley, Rawles how-to book coming up for sale soon? (Hey, lookie, Tam has an Amazon gateway in her sidebar!)

Sunday, August 09, 2009

August BlogMeet A Smashing Success!

Free Sweet Corn Draws Near-Record Crowd!C'mon, free corn, Tam, Caleb, me and Frank W. James -- what more could you want? Details will follow ...Plus over a dozen other wondrous bloggers and readers, namely and to wit: Old Grouch, Shermlock Shomes and spouse, Nathan, Brigid, Wayne, Joanna and her sister, MTS1 (winner of a deferred Cup Of Turonistan, as I was out of Fabulous Prizes. Getcha one next time for sure!), Robert, Shootin' Buddy, Robb D. , "Sparky" (Caleb's imaginary friend), Arch and spouse Linda and I am pretty sure I have left someone out... Here's the reverse angle. How clever of me to be all bent over as the picture is snapped, looking over my glasses as I take notes. Looks like I fainted.

Free sweet corn proved very popular! This shot is before the feeding frenzy really got started, or, as Framer Frank puts it, "One of the real rewards in life is to be the position of being able to give food away to your friends."

Right now a few of the locals are sittin' on the front porch at Roseholme with big glasses of ice water. I am hankerin' to join 'em, having bicycled to and from, as did Tam and SB. Guess which machine is mine?

Hadda good BlogShoot first, too. My Sistema Colt 1911A1? It's allll happy now! Frank W. James, Tam, Shootin' Buddy, Nathan and I were all at Eagle Creek Park Pistol Range. Alas, no pix from there. I got to shoot Frank's Ruger LCR and wasn't totally awful (for me with a revolver) once he'd briefed me on the two-stage DAO trigger. I could stand to have a slighly longer grip but in terms of lightweight-go-shooty, it's very nice. Pockatable? So far, everyone is looking askance at the grippy Hogue grips. Very nice grips, mind you, but they tend to grab fabric, non-ideal for the application. --As Tam has observed (she's far from the only one), shooting a DAO revolver does wonders for one's control with a semi-auto and when I returned to the 1911, I found my groups had tightened up. Nothing world-beating but improvement nevertheless.

So, next Indy BlogShoot/BlogMeet, will you be there?

All Aboarrrd!

Gee, these express trains to "Health Care Reform" sure do look like cattle cars....

It appears the White House has got big drug companies lined up to support their hazy plan to destroy health care as we know it.

The only bright spot in this development is that the hard-Left congresscritters who have been noisily pushing for this horror are squicked about any making nice with "profiteers" and are asserting that Congress isn't bound by any deals the Executive branch is making.

Soooo, PhRMA, how's that merchantilist dog-eat-doggery workin' for ya now? Time to throw another baby to the wolves?

Y'know, I used to think Ayn Rand's depiction of high-level looters in Atlas Shrugged was a little overwrought. Any more, I'm convinced she understated matters.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

August BlogMeet


This coming Sunday, 9 August 2009, Broad Ripple Brew Pub, 3:00 p.m.

Update: Farmer Frank confirms, adding he'll have a pickup truckload of sweet corn!

Last word had it that Farmer Frank W. James will be there, bringing his surplus sweet corn -- don't miss it!

(Time changed to keep this post at the top. Latest installment of I Work On A Starship below!)

Also, looks like Eagle Creek Park Pistol Range will be open from 0900 - 1300 Sunday, so let's try another informal BlogShoot!


I have napped off and on nearly all day and accomplished little: one load of laundry and one brunch. Too short of sleep from last week, I guess. And now? Now, it's bedtime.

D00d, No

Found at HuffPo, a comment about us terrible awful horrid gunnies from one "Liberal Angel:"
Hunting for sport is barbaric plain and simple. How is it fun to gun down a defenseless animal so you can mount it's head?
Um, mister, that may not be the mental image you were after.

Welcome To Mr. Obama's America

...In which purple-shirted thugs beat up protesters while claiming said protesters are "attacking America."

H'mmm, isn't this exactly the scenario the Left is forever accusing the Right of creating, in which dire thugs supporting an over-reaching President are whoppin' on innocent protesters? So how is it that the thugs in matching outfits are supporters of the Democrat administration (especially of its most wrong-headed policy so far) and the protestors are a mix of Republican, Libertarian and Independent "Tea Party" folks?

Golly gee. Why' it's almost like those high-sounding words about "Dissent is the highest form oof patriotim" and the importance of dissent to a free society that the sooooo-American Left spent the last eight years repeating were nothing more than partisan noise.

Who would'a thunk?

I wonder when and where the next Waco will happen.

Win A 1911 Pistol!

Remember the ParaUSA GI Expert 1911 that's being raffled off for Soldier's Angels? The one that caused P@yP@l to wig out and freeze all of that charity's online-pay donations? (They did reverse it for everything but the horrawful g-u-n, the sissies). can once again buy tickets online! Nope, not through the outfit that will not be named twice, but via LuckyGunner. Follow the link and find out more.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Now Everyone Will Want To Do It

No, dammit. It does not matter how drunk you are, you still cannot use a minor child as your designated driver. ...But some ijit has tried it again. It sounds so familiar!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

The Right To Keep And Wear Tinfoil

No, really. It's a basic right; some of the notable figures in the America Revolution flirted with various forms of bugnuts crazy -- Thomas "doesn't work and play well with others" Paine, for a start, or the Deist Ethan Allen, who drove an innocent J. of the P. to tears at his own wedding with a line of questioning aimed at finding out if the "God" referred to in the ceremony included "Nature's God," the somewhat formless conceptualization of his belief, as well as the Christian God to Whom it was generally taken to refer.[1]

So, yeah, we've got a long history of loonies. This is not to say that some loonies are not more laughable than others. For instance, the one who is presently in Tam's crosshairs of snark has earned her place fair and square. She's no Tom Paine.

On the other hand, the linked news story -- as I read it, YMMV -- doesn't show any especially obnoxious actions. She was on public land taking photos of something in plain view.

The handy-dandy pocket .pdf guide to not gettin' busted while photographing cheerily informs us "...commanders of military installations can prohibit photographs of specific areas if they deem it necessary," but it's an open question if that writ applies off the base. If I can stand way far away and take pictures with a telephoto lens, shouldn't I be able to stand on the shoulder of the road right outside the base and wield a Canon? It is okayer if I'm on the far side of the road? Driving by in a Google Streetview vehicle? Taking pix from orbit? Sketching it on the scene? --At home from memory? Certainly in instances where they're really serious about it -- around Groom Lake NAS[2], popularly known as "Area 51" f'rinstance -- .mil/.gov moved the fences waaaaay out and have taken other precautions so you can't take snapshots of the Sekrit Stuff.

I'm not sayin' it's kewl to twit the officer in charge of your local Guard base over the "DO NOT READ THIS SIGN" signs he's posted near all the interesting stuff; a base commander's lot is not a happy one already and there's no need to add to it, plus he has a few bored MPs ready to hand. Nor am I suggesting the OMG! FEMA Death Camps are everywhere! notion is particularly likely or even all that sane. But -- at what point does being a bit bonkers, thinking goofy things, become a matter for arrest rather than well-deserved mockery? If it's merely at the point of photographing objects in plain view, we might indeed want to be a little concerned.

Did she actually trespass with anything other than reflected light? That's a key bit of info. I've yet to find out.
1. I have always hoped his bride shared his religious convictions and fervor, 'cos otherwise...!
2. No, I'm guessing. But the USN is the Senior Service, after all.

Carrie Nation Yet Lives

MADD is still demonstrating those Mothers mean their name in the BBC-English sense of the word: Bitter reports they fret teens will recreate the White House "Beer Summit!"

Y'know, I never thought I'd say this but Mr. President Obama? Chug, man, chug!

Now more than ever, H. L. Mencken is a prophet.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Stress, Mess, Not Enough Rest

What Tam has written about being discomboooberated by a topsy-turvy vacation schedule goes double or triple for me and having money worries on top of it isn't helping any. I'm short-tempered and absent-minded right now.

Hope to be back to my usual cheerful self by and by. (And for sure by Sunday even if I have to get all sparkly on B-complex vitamins to do it).

Just gotta keep on ploddin' for now, I have cats to keep fed. You might find it odd, sad or whatever but in the very dark days when all of a sudden I was single, that was what kept me going. Oh, it's fun to have books and radios and a nifty workshop but that's all just toys. The kitties are countin' on me.

Quick survey: My comic-book yarns, I Work On A Starship:
Keep on posting them?
Drop them?
Spin them off on their own blog?
What do you think?

I Work On A Starship: Another Day, Part 13

The tale of the inadvertently-crashed card game was good gossip and a good catch for Ivan's guys -- 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.

She rubbed her palms together, grinned as happily as a child, chortled, "Oh, wait 'til I tell you the rest," and started to relate her side of the lurker sweep.

From here on out, I'll tell T's story as I figured it out later; it'll get too confusing if I stick to only what she or I knew at the time.

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 of 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, hanging a little wide-angle pin-camera on her tunic pocket as she left. (I once asked, "What's that badge for?" only to be told, "Watching!" Ah, Security humor).

Of all the shirtsleeve-environment sections of the Lupine, the main cargo bays may be the most foreign to everyday experience, unless you work in a Zeppelin hangar. When the ship was new (long before the present "downtown" and "grand hotel" additions at the bow and upper side), the vast bays at Port and Starboard were hangar decks, where fighters were serviced and large drop-shuttles (replaced many years ago by the squirt-booster(s)strapped to cargo containers method) were stored; the former flight decks, outboard, were the nucleus of our present squirt-booster and ROV bays. Inboard of the five-story-high ex-hangars, the original holds are still in use for smaller items. The battle-ready (though never battle-tested) original configuration called for huge, pressure-rated hatches every 200 feet; these days, every other one is left open and "escape pod" safety refuges are spotted along the bulkheads and down the center line. Pressure suits are still required during cargo ops, when hatches at each end open to vacuum and the first two interior hatches are used as a cargo airlock.

These, least visited in-flight of any holds, were the areas T's teams had started on, using Stores & Cargo's IR-capable monitoring cameras to find the most likely containers. Their first hits were in the more-accessible sections and the process became more difficult as they got deeper and deeper in on each side. The big bays are almost exclusively used for containerized cargo which the shipper has paid a premium to have carried in a controlled environment; the containers are briefly exposed to zero pressure and temperature extremes when loaded aboard and when offloaded at the destination, but for many cargoes, it's an acceptable trade-off. Shippers can spend even more and never have their orchids, prize poodle, high-precision CNC machine or whatever at risk of exposure to heat, cold or vacuum but most don't. In the big holds, the containers are shoved and stacked by the same system Space Force used to move their small fighters, scouts and transports, a powered flatcar system flush with the deck and traveling cranes in each section. Take the fully-loaded deck of a big ocean-going container ship and set it in a huge tunnel, then add the hooks, haulers and other hazards of a cargo port and you'll begin to have an idea. It's a lot more cluttered than the Lupine's version of "deck cargo," racked in vacuum, and much harder to search with IR and chemical sniffers. When T's Security and Aux teams get even a faint hit, they check it out, sometimes having to stand back as Stores and Cargo unstacks and shifts containers to dig down for close examination.

"Hit" number four was looking to go that way but a particularly eager Aux took it on himself to walk the perimeter of the stack and found a container that appeared shut and locked but wasn't, exactly. This came a little after Ivan and company found the card game, so there were a few jokes about bustin' up another as they sorted themselves out and T, already close by from setting cameras on the still (and taking bets the would-be distiller would get word and never return) jogged over to get a first-hand look.

It was neatly done; the usual external latch appeared shut and had the opening not been left ever so slightly ajar there would have been no reason to suspect the container was anything out of the ordinary. There it was, a stenciled rectangular logo for an outfit none of them had ever heard of, "Star Azure." Except it was standing ever so slightly proud of the surface: a concealed hatch. "We got very quiet," T told me. And she sent one of her regulars to place a spare camera at the opening, with a thread-sized fiber-optic lens just barely protruding over the edge. Softly, softly.... Her hand held security monitor showed nothing much except more light than expected and vague shapes. Mike, with big displays in his borrowed command center, described close-stacked pallets sheathed in opaque plastic with barely room to squeeze past and a faint light shining from the far end. After ten minutes without so much as a flicker, T told her boss she was going in, gestured her team to gather and set them for action in whispers.

"John S., Alan--" (the tallest of that pair barely comes up to her shoulders but it's all muscle and plenty quick) "You're going in. There's no room for a dynamic entry and Ivan's the expert on that anyway. Take it slow and don't get fancy. The rest of us will be staged in several locations, ready to cover if you have to back out -- Matt and Abby, down there, the Auxiliaries right here. Clear?" Nods all around. "Do it." They all started to move and she caught the entry team's attention "Wait for my signal. And guys?" John and Alan looked at her expectantly. "Don't get killed."

Alan grinned; John S. just rolled his eyes and catfooted towards the visible end of the cargo container. Alan caught up and at T's gesture, eased open the hidden hatch. Jon drew his sidearm and stepped through. Alan unholstered and, after miming a silent three-count, followed.

* * *

In the temporary command center, Sheriff Mike was being reminded yet again that Stores & Cargo's proud boast of knowing the exact whereabouts of every item entrusted to their care was located was not the same as their knowing the identity of every item in the holds and external storage; the holds are just too vast and the riggers and remote-drone operators who make up the bulk of the S&C cargo-handling staff are focused on maximum stowage with minimum damage to persons and goods. To make matters worse, he was trying to follow T's crew in the monitors and to entirely confound that effort, he was being reminded by S&C's most colorful watch supervisor and one of his longtime Persons Of Interest, Cargomaster Turon, better known as the Turk.

My pal and occasional date Stephen the Navigator points out that the Turk is the Lupine's most dependable source of fresh flowers, that he is the ship's only arms dealer and cheapest ammunition source (except when he's in dutch with Mike and it's been confiscated again) and that his most visible sideline business, a collection of cheap (but sturdy enough to be shipped in vacuum) carnival rides he inevitably manages to get squirt-boostered to and from planetside at the lowest possible rates and has set up and operated by a few of his impressive and mysterious assortment of local contacts during our longer stops, brings joy to children throughout the Hidden Frontier. Not even Stephan can offer cogent comment on the Turk's laser hair removal or claimed camel-rental enterprise on Kansas II beyond, "It must be a needed service." The Turk is, to put it mildly, a go-getter, though going where and getting precisely what (let alone how much) can be a matter for heated debate and/or legal scrutiny. Claiming to hail from "the least known of the 'stans," his backstory is as obscure as most of his business dealings. All that said, he's a dazzlingly effective cargomaster; crews on his watch are among the fastest and safest at the high-risk transferring and stowing freight not just on Lupine but anywhere, though I suppose the highly-automated systems found among the Far Edged are nominally less risky. His honesty, under the strict scrutiny of the Starship Company, has been proven (in administrative hearings!) to be punctilious if a bit more concerned with the letter than the intent. In short, the Turk is...a headache. A highly-skilled headache. He was at his obfuscatively-helpful best with Mike most of the time and this night was no exception. His accent is mild but indescribable, so you're on your own.

"I am telling you, eff— Sir, we have no record of that container; the stack it is in... It should not be that height. I am offended by it. Offended!"

Mike expressed doubt with narrowed eyes and started to ask, "This isn't one of your--"

"Offended and insulted! And misjudged! Do I look like one who would pay inside rates?"

"Don't make me describe your looks, Cargomaster. Also, I don't care. How'd that container get where it is? Did it crawl in when we were between stars?"

The Turk contrived to look innocently saintly and failed, managing an expression between puppyish and hangdog. "It is unknown to me. Another shift's work, perhaps? Could it be nothing shady but a matter instead of....Security? Some, some thing for the Space Forces?"

Mike stopped for a minute at that. "I'd've been told."

The Turk said nothing.

"Probably, I'd've been told. Dammit, Turon, do you not check on the holds?"

"For pilferage? For shifting? For improperly-secured containers, for cranes and carriers unstowed? Yes. Of course, yes. For mystery containers that should not exist? Of how many thousands? This you think I should be doing? Hanh! Do I tell you how to, how to, securify?"

"Yes. Every time we have to have a little talk."

"Hah! I should not help you at all, ever. But, for the sake of long acquaintance.... I can see what we may have from the cameras. It will not be much, after 72 hours, only the proxies are kept, very low-rez, you understand?"

Mike gritted his teeth. He knows about as much about the practical side of security video as anyone aboard and the Turk was hardly unaware of it. The Lupine is just too blamed big to watch every bit of, let alone keep all the images; Moore's Law notwithstanding, whenever data storage capacity gets bigger and cheaper, Navigation and Control are the first to get it, followed by Environment and Physical Plant. Security gets the leftovers. Stores & Cargo is more concerned about immediate issues -- personnel safety, fire and chemical/biological hazards -- and their systems lean heavily to realtime coverage, archiving only for insurance purposes.

About that time, motion caught his attention: T's team taking up position, as seen through her camera. He saw Jon S. step through the opening and held up a hand to silence the Turk.

* * *

John S. had a better view but it wasn't much, just what the camera had shown: a narrow path between opaque-wrapped pallets of lumpy unknowns, meandering just enough to conceal the source of light at the far end. He catfooted down it carefully, feeling a slight shift as Alan stepped in and hoping there was nobody else to notice. He had to turn sideways to clear the heaped cargo on each side but the foot was clear. Closer to the far end of the container than he'd thought, he came to the bend and slowed even more. Ahead, bright light shined through another opening about the same size as the one he'd first entered. He gestured Alan to stop and cover, started to take a deep breath, thought better of it and stepped through, sidearm held close, attention wide for threats.

-- Into a narrow space with -- counters? -- on each side. No, not counters, open-sided crates, counter-height, holding an array of shiny cylinders and at the far end of the aisle they created, a man sat, quietly, watching, with a mildly amused, mildly worried expression. "Well," he said in his softly musical, German-sounding Lyndon backcountry accent, "You got Katrina and now you're here. What next?" It was Villem. George Welle's assistant.


Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Darn It!

...Nothing like waking up wanting a nice bacon and egg on rye with a little cheese and discovering the bacon you bought Sunday has gone bright metallic green on top. Yeech!

So, fine, fried the egg in a hole punched in a slice of rye, in olive oil. Sigh

In other unexpected rottenness, I discovered my (new) home lender, the guys who picked up Countrywide (who'd bought the note from my original lender), reviewed my real estate taxes (which are just plain nuts in Indiana of late and did go up -- should drop next year, once my various exemptions finally kick in) and decided, oopsie, they didn't really think they had enough in escrow and cranked up their reserve to the maximum amount permitted by law; so they have jacked up my house payments nearly 130% and to keep them from going up 150%, I'm gonna have to front 'em something over $2K by 1 September.

This is my punishment for gettin' a nice, conservative fixed-rate loan. Gee, thanks.

Funny, when my employer asked everyone to pleeeeze forgo a raise this year, times being tough and everything, we all went along; but ask government or a homelender the corresponding question and they've suddenly gone deaf. Umm, d000ds, don't you think you have bled the middle-class turnip just about dry?

--Here, banker, Senator, have some nice bacon.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Midway USA, Hooray!

On Friday, I ordered a 60-pitch grip bushing tap for the 1991, new bushings, shiny new, blued, slotted grip screws by Cylinder & Slide and a bushing driver, all from our friends at Midway USA; by this afternoon, I had them all and headed to the basement.

Out with all the old bushings, heap plenty oil, start that tap by hand! Cleaned out all the tapped holes in the grippy part of the frame, including the one that chews up bushings (and removed a few nasty chunks of metal on that one, popcorn-salt sized), taking out more rust than I expected. Wiped up the excess, cleaned out the threads with an oily pipe cleaner, installed the new bushings, the nice grips Og presented to me some months ago, and the new grip screws. Whattaya think? (Nice low serial number, hey?)

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Range Rules, Gun Safety, Local Shooty Places

Huge, fascinating discussion at Tam's on the rules at a local range and what is and is not safe.

For the record, put me in the "less touchee, less ka-blooie" camp: that gun in your holster is safest if you simply keep it in your holster. My own habit is to not be shooting the gun I am presently carrying when at the range, which necessitates at least two firearms I'm okay carrying and really three, on the malfunction principle that "two is one and one is none." YMMV and most people look askance at what I am likely to be carrying these days (a Colt Pocketlite .380 or an old, aluminum Star BKM 9mm).

However, the Indy Parks Department does not agree; when you leave the parking lot at Eagle Creek Range and head back to the shooting area, they don't want you carrying a loaded weapon, period. Hey, their range, their rules. And consider the neigborhood:
View Larger Map

Okay, ya gotta clear. Question is, where and how -- and my local gun-store pals have many bullet-through-the-floor-pan stories to share. Not to worry, there is a sand barrel at the range, at the entrance to the Police Only Classroom building. (The building with indoor plumbing. Not that I'm jealous. The Parks Department maintains portalets even closer to the range proper, after all). Our friends at IMPD appear willing to share their sand barrel, being no more fond of NDs than anyone else and wantin' 'em to happen, as they occasionally and rarely do, into a nice receptacle of the proper sort.
View Larger Map
See the building at the center? On the right (East) side of it, there's a pretty obvious entrance at the middle. The sand barrel is there, facing approximately Northwest and angled down at about 45 degrees. (Google's Terms Of Use for their maps imply I can't yank a screencap into Paint and add my own circles and arrows. Ain't you lucky?)
Clear there. Not in the parking lot. Not in your car. There are highways to the West, North and East. There's a "bark park" to the Southeast.

As for the meta-levels of the discussion at Tam's, I'm seeing a lot of good points. Ideally, the least amount of fiddling is the greatest amount of safety, no matter if you are Col. Cooper or J. Random Newb. ...We don't always get the ideal, which is one of the many reasons for the Three Rules and why it is important to not allow the routine task of clearing your firearms become too routine.

The Policeman And The Academic

...While the fur's been flyin' online and on the air, Professor Gates and Sergeant Crowley appear to be in the process of making up.

Seems they both realize that in stressful situations, people can behave like jerks (though I will point out that nobody went home with a broken head, or dead, which would have been a lot less likely to've been the case in ancient Rome, ancienter Egypt or even right here a couple-three generations back, so don't tell me civilization's not gettin' better) and that what you do after the dust settles is a measure of your character, too. Maybe the rest of us experts-of-every-stripe who were not even there could give that a try, too?

...I 'spose one could still be irked that the President stuck his foot in his mouth on this issue but face it, foot-in-mouth is pretty much SOP in the Oval Office, starting with George Washington,* who didn't even have a fancy rounded office to keep clean biting shoes in. We notice it more in the recent ones thanks to relentless press coverage but get to diggin' and you'll see.
* If you are, as an example, fond of the two-party system or party systems in general, look up what General Washington had to say about them.

Health-Care Linky

From Unwanted Blog, excerpts from a presentation on U. S. health care as compared to elsewhere, explaining why our outcomes look worse in terms of raw numbers but actually are better. Aha!

More Reading

Presently before me, George Alec Effinger's Maureen Birnbaum, Barbarian Swordsperson, in which a somewhat-affectionately caricatured New York City girl finds herself in all manner of adventures and situations, mostly borrowed from classic science fiction and fantasy yarns. Somehow it all works and the tales of derring-do, related in the first person by Maureen herself at a breathlessly breakneck pace, do not fail to entertain. Not especially deep but who cares?

If you ever, like, found amusement that the same individual who hankers for a nice egg cream[1] also considers 250 rounds downrange to be "a good start" for a day at the range, you may enjoy these tales.

Sidenote: according to Maureen, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Frank Kelly Freas were exactly right about the working uniform for barbarian swordspersons. Who knew?

Bonus: Turns out bread pudding is her fave dessert, too;[2] in one adventure, we see the full matrix of bread pudding possibilities as of 1966. (It all makes sense in context. Mostly!)
1. I finally broke down and used club soda to mix up several. Yum!

2. I cannot pass the stuff up. Can not.

Saturday, August 01, 2009


You've already seen it, but Linoge over at Walls Of The City has created a great graph showing population, firearms deaths, number of guns and the relationships of these numbers and guess what? When the law-abiding have them, more guns = less crime. --Criminals can always get and carry guns; restrictive firearms laws only hinder the law-abiding.

One thing I'd like to add to his graph is a histogram showing the year-by-year increase in states moving to shall-issue carry permits. I ran my own crude version and it shows rough correlation with changes in slope of the the death rate: with more legally-carried guns, the death rate slows. H'mm.