Friday, April 30, 2010

Aw, Heck

...The Japanese War Tuba was not an offensive weapon. In fact, it wasn't a weapon at all. Still.... I mean, War Tuba? What's not to like?

David Ignatius Thinks You're Not Taxed Nearly Enough

...And he's got the fix; a magic fix that will repair the economy, erase the Federal deficit, unsour the milk and cure yaws: a nice fat Value-Added Tax.

Sure looks to me like it subtracts value, which is the usual way of such names.

Srsly, who's giving these fools typewriters? And how come none of them remember what it is like to live from paycheck to paycheck?

It's European Typewriter Day!

'Cos they credit a different guy with making the idea work. Y'know, I'd say "when it's steamboat time...." but his boat steamed rather early (1808!) and it steamed for love: he built the thing so his beautiful, blind girlfriend could write letters! It appears he also invented carbon paper -- instead of the typewriter ribbon.

Sadly, his machine did not survive, though letters written by means of it do; and that's how we know it was real. Can't seem to find images of them online, rather a pity.

--Among other things, this points up a better aspect of dating tech geeks. Just sayin'.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


...I have spent most of today in bed asleep and I am heading back there next. I don't know what bug bit me; I was getting ready for work this morning, really havin' to struggle, and suddenly realized I felt way more than awful. Called in, laid down and was asleep again in seconds. Tam woke me for a late lunch, followed by an upset tummy; I have napped a bit since and I am falling asleep at the keyboard now, that drifty, feverish feeling.

Am I having fun yet?

Push, Push, Push

Breda linked to it first, then Tam; one video in particular caught my attention.

What we have here is small-town[1] police, done up in their bestest riot gear and looking a bit self-conscious about it, sent out to "control" a crowd of Tea Parties outside a venue where POTUS is holdin' forth. Now this unruly mob is a) standing around, b) waving signs critical of FedGov, the President and various gummint actions and c) singing patriotic songs -- inflammatory stuff, like "America the Beautiful;" they are the kind of crowd that takes one (1) policeman to control, using clever sworn-officer tactics like saying, "I need all of you folks to get up on the sidewalk, this side of Maple Street," or better yet, having their own leaders tell 'em.

That's how it went down, too, while the LEOs in helmets and heavy vests stood in a line like a Greek chorus, only silent, perspiring and kinda embarrassed. It was their Moms wavin' signs over there, or the nice ladies from church or the guy that runs the gas station. And it was the Secret Service or some worry-wart minor offical nervous about bein' in a flyover State that sent 'em out geared up to take on rock-throwin' WTO protestors. It worked out; one non-riot-geared officer and a guy with a bullhorn later, the Riot Squad marched away.

But keep it the hell up, idiots, and you will buy this country a mess. It stunk out loud when Presidents Clinton and Bush (respectively) instituted and maintained "free speech zones" at their appearances; now we're callin' out the local muscle over protesters not merely outside the building where the President's at but across the dang road from it and well-behaved to boot -- nary a flung pie or rotten vegetable to be had, let alone an effigy dangling from a pole (Mr. Bush and Mr. Clinton inspired plenty of those; consider their absence, the next time some marooon[2] snerks "racist!" about the current round of protesters).

It worked out okay this time; hooray, us and by "us" I mean both sides, the boys in (very very dark) blue and the sign-wavers. Hey, maybe it'll work out next time, too. And the time after that. But how many times must goofily disproportionate force meet well-behaved amateur protesters before some nitwit slips up?

And after that, what next?
1. Quincy, IL; very like the place where I grew up, give or take a major waterway, a good-sized river bluff, a clockmaking school and an abundance of bars.

2. There'll be some ijit shows up an' tells me that term's racist, too. Ask Bugs Bunny; I got it from him and his writers used it in contexts where the implication is clearly one of stupidity. Color in that outline yerself, maroon.

When Logic Is Waterboarded

...Why, newspaper editors will do it, of course. Consider if you will, a Midwestern newspaper editor attempting to drum up support for a bus system that isn't paying its own way; he figures it should feed more at the public (i.e., non bus riding) trough rather than raise rates and he justifies it thusly:
"Fares cannot cover the entire cost of the service. Car travel is subsidized by government via highway funding, and public transportation deserves to be as well."

Italics mine, naturally.

Um, sir? Sir? Mister Editor? First off, there's a hefty tax on automobile fuel, a big chunk of which is supposedly goin' for, guess what, highways an' streets. (I don't know if the city's paying that when they diesel up their buses. Could be they are getting a free ride). Second -- and I'm not sure if you have noticed -- the verdammt buses are operated on the exact same tax-subsidized roads as private automobiles, albeit more slowly and with the occasional passenger-to-passenger beat-down.

City buses: already "subsidized" twice over (or thrice -- are there any magic Fedbux in the mix?) and still bleeding money. It's be cheaper to hand out free bikes to rider, with used cars for the hardship cases -- but wait, "cash for clunkers" helped dry up the pool of affordable used cars; h'mm, so much for Uncle Sam's input, hey?

But never mind; if he gets his way, the editor of the local catbox liner will tax us poor ignernt rubes into his New Socialist Man no matter what. It's for our own good, you see; besides, it's all government-funded, so it must be okay. And he'll make the buses run on time, once we've all been taxed so heavily we can't afford our own cars. Neat, eh?

Over my cold, dead $2000 Hyundai, you miserable rat.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"Quo Yifis;" Or, As Seen On TV

I glanced at the television; some chat show was on. The graphic for their next segment fair lept* out at me:

Next: Shields to star in family-friendly film

Didn't bother to wait for the interview. I'm pretty sure you can't have it both ways; either "family-friendly" or the yif brigade.

* "Lept" is a perfectly good word, which can be found in all the better lexicons; even "leapt" shows up. Firefox and Blogger, purveyors of Basic English, will have none of it. It's "leaped" as far as they're concerned, or you can go jump off a cliff.

Can't Write, Clown Will Get Me

Tic tic tic: love to write lots but this ayem, I must be off: big doings at Skunk Works, North Campus.

I shall endeavor to remember my camera. Stay tuned!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Dreadful, Penny!

Royal Enfield motorcycles have a sort of online penny-dreadful to promote their very classic Brit-style bikes, featuring one Pandora Pitstop. Haven't read the entire thing but it's amusing.

Gotta lurve them Royal Enfields. Early on, Practical Tam pointed the more basic models still had drum brakes front and rear; it must have bothered them, too, as they've gone to discs, at least in front -- and front's 70% of the stoppage anyhow.

Oldstream Media

Indiana Primary Election Guide. Kind of useful - there are a lot of hats in the ring!

Kind of useless: There's a front-page story in today's fishwrap, headlined "Red Tide Rising: Urgent fix sought for runaway deficit" that starts out, "Unable or unwilling to do it himself, President Obama...launches a bipartisan commission..." to Do Something; or, more likely, hold meetings and issue statements as the Titanic sinks. I'd like to link to it, but... Well, gee. Not on the website yet; payin' customers get to look first, I guess.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Those "Racist" Tea Partiers? Check The Numbers

...And the numbers say, "not so much." Cathy Young tells the tale.

Stephen Hawkings And Me, We're Like That

No, no, not that that, this that:
Aliens may exist but mankind should avoid contact with them as the consequences could be devastating, British scientist Stephen Hawking warned Sunday.
Oh, hells yes. ET may be calling us but we shouldn't answer the phone!

His comments were made on "Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking" on the Discovery Channel. That alone suggests to me it's worth watching.

Gak! Ijits!

Update: official blog definition, Organic: got squishy bits; Inorganic: no squishy bits. Carbon, schmarbon.

...Woke up to a panel discussion about regular ordinary farming vs. organic; on one side, some woman from Consumer Reports, an organo-activist and the food critic from Vogue. On the other, a large-scale farmer, a British agronomist and another scientific type.

Food critic makes hand-waving claims that organic farming is "much more productive" than normal farming. citing "told by some farmer." Actual farmer on panel tries to respond with facts and figures, gets talked over. Agronomist responds, pointing out in detail how the claim is bunk and is treated dismissively. It kept on and on like that, with the crowd applauding the organo-morons and ignoring the folks who actually grow food.

At the start of the show, about 40% of the audience thought the various health and productivity claims for "organic" food (there's inorganic food? Other than Tums?) were genuine. At the end, 69% were on board with the notion. (A consistent 21% knew it was mostly hype).

The more I see, the more I'm convinced our civilization deserves to starve. We're breeding for gullibility. It's painful to watch. Modern farming methods feed the world; we'd've met up with Malthus, black-robed and wielding a global sickle, were it not for the very tools, chemicals and methods the "organic" crowds decry. --I guess as long as the elites get their free-range carrots, who cares about the price of bread and rice? "Let 'em eat cake." Oy.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Depict The Loony Day!

...So. Comedy Central is said to have truckled to religious bigots, and yanked an episode of South Park that included an "image" of Mohammed -- that'd be the Mohammed -- in a bear suit.

Not everyone is so willing to be cowed; Citizens Against Citizens Against Humor (it's pronounced "ca-ca") has proclaimed 20th May as Everybody Draw Mohammed Day! Read all about it here. I was led there by The Unwanted Blog.

Whaddaya think, a pug in a keffiyeh? Eatin' a pork chop left-handed? Yeah, that's about right.

Not The Last Of The Loners

...But certainly one of a kind: Idaho's "Dugout Dick" died last week; he did so on his own terms, in the home he'd built -- mostly, excavated -- with his own hands.

Men like him (and the even fewer women) are increasingly rare and as they pass, we're losing something; we buy ready-to-eat food in a bag, take packaged trips and drive a-new-one-every-other-year leased cars to and from our nearly-identical subdivision homes or carbon-copy apartments, where we relax by sitting and passively watching TV or DVD entertainment, just like the neighbors; we get our opinions from a series of media pundits, all more-or-less interchangeable in their neat little suits and neat little tone of moral outrage; turn the sound off and you can hardly tell Matthews from Beck (while the real Beck -- Billy -- is scarcely heard in the Big Media. When his thoughts are echoed, they get 'em wrong).

Loners, real mavericks (not the trumped-up nickname for a politician with no center), genuinely independant artists, people with crazy damn' ideas, they're a treasure. They're not always the most comfortable to be around but that is at least in part because they make us look at our own I'll-have-what-he's-having lives and wonder why we run with the herd.

One more guy who followed his own path has come to the end of it. Who will take up his mantle? Who can? Sure, you can look at folks like him and claim they never made much of a difference -- just one guy, all by himself, what'd he ever manage to do in a lifetime that BigGiantCorp or My Fave Part of FedGov* can't do six times before lunch, with bells on? Hell, you're right; we're all just little pink primates and if some gray One Size Fits All (poorly) answer is good enough, if your idea of "fair" is that everyone gets fifteen seconds of insight, half a square meal every other day and fifteen minutes of fame, just like all the other good societal units, you're right; all those "loners" ever directly affected was themselves. --And they fought to keep it that way; nobody else scribbled on their souls.

Who's writin' on your soul? And why'd you let 'em? Was the new Caddy and the McMansion worth it? After a long, full life, Dugout Dick died in his own bed, in his own hand-dug cave, in his own life. It sure beats dieing a little every day.

(Related posting by Jeffro)
* What's that? Y'say you don't have a favorite part? Okay, then go read this Jim Bovard article an' get back to me. Not sayin' he's right -- but it's the first substantive critique of the movement, or at least of its rallies and ralliers, that I have read.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Only In It For The Blood

The TeeVee critters were covering the oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico. (An' just in time for Earff Day, too; I'd sure be lookin' for an ELF in the works). It was painful to watch. Not because of the lives lost; terrible as that is, the shock has passed. Not because the images were so dreadful. No, it was the way the newsman on the TV morning chat show was so obviously salivating for further disaster.

USCG Rear Adm. Mary Landry had all the facts and figures; the Coasties had done what they do so well and had assets in the air, on the water and on the sea floor. Mr. News wasn't listening and didn't care:

Newsboy: "...So, there's oil leaking from the well...?"

Rear Admiral Mary Landry: "No, [name redacted], what you see on the water -- contained by the booms -- is from the oil rig itself."

NB: "But if it was-- Wouldn't that be an impossible situation, with the oil rig collapsed on top of the well? You couldn't get to it."

ML: (As though speaking to a very young child): "The platform didn't collapse on the well."

NB: (Disappointedly) "But what if it had? Wouldn't that be an unprecedented environmental disaster?"

ML: (As though she had over-estimated the child's age) "It did not. The oil you see on the surface is residual from the explosion. The rig fell next to the well. There has been no leakage. We are monitoring it closely."

NB: (Looking crestfallen) "Well, thank you."

Network TV: I use it as an alarm clock because nothing gets me out of bed like a moron trying to go all Woodward & Bernstein over a satellite link with the primary source. Hey, here's an idea -- whyn't try reporting what you know (or what the people who do know will tell you), and leave the doom-laden guesses to experts?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Friends Of Isembard B.

"Hi, my name is Roberta, and I'm addicted to Big Engineering..."

"Hi, R--"

Having spent the last two days working on crazy things, like stringing a thousand nine hundred and fifty feet (which should have been a thou') of cable up an even taller guyed tower while rebuilding the (obsolete) power supplies of a little transmitter that would be every moonbounce and mountaintopping (the latter if it were more portable-er) VHF/UHF radio ham's dream, except the power output is 'way over their limit, I found myself working ground control of the long cable and having time to wonder, What's the common thread? I work on this wild stuff, report the adventures of the crew on a ten-mile-long, faster than light starship on one hand, and link to photos of a three-cylinder steam engine as big as a house on the other....

The common thread is, it's all Big Engineering. Sometimes big enough to see from orbit (using a properly sized Google Maps or similar engine). I'm weak-kneed over it.

--And I have gotta get me one of these. Ooo, that Isembard Kingdom Brunel! I swoon.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

At Long Last

...Some new content at I Work On A Starship!

So, Unh, What Color Is The Sky On Your World?

Looking for something to post about, I tripped over an article on the horrors of Wikipedia at -- where else? -- HuffPo. Seems (and who could ever, ever have anticipated it in a million, zillion years?) biographies of living persons have become quite a battleground for admirers and detractors of the famous. --Never mind that you can, after all, "open the hood" and read who's saying -- and editing -- what, the young writer thinks it's just awful and people have got to be nicerer.

Hey, I'd love to live in a land of gentle, genteel philosopher-kings myownself -- I just don't much expect it; humans are what we are and spatting is what our species does. Right well, too.

But the comments! The comments are a hoot!

Did you the Earth's blue sky is a purely subjective phenomenon? See here: "Facts are also subjective -- the sky is only blue if you have the correct color receptors in your eye, and the correct wiring in your brain," and here all along I thought it was a matter of what frequencies of light were scattered and/or absorbed by our atmosphere. The more fool I, hey?

Or did you know wingnut trolls labor ceaselessly (and seemingly unopposed) to stick Creationism, anti-unionism and hatred of FDR throughout Wikipedia? I read it on the Innernet, it must be true: "A friend...he was lamenting how right wingers and libertarians have gone wild on wikipedia, framing a huge swathe of the site with a conservative perspective.[...] [T]his bottom-up gaming of the web's history and point of view is a serious top down project, just like is done in Texas with textbooks, and some of the biggest right wing think tanks literally have rooms of interns making postings daily on wikipedia, blogs, etc.."

No doubt those interns labor beneath the yoke and lash of their wicked, cigar-huffing, capitalist overlords; being conservative, they'd've passed on offers of rum and buggery instead of or in addition to the lash (this is also how we can be sure it's not the Royal Navy). And never you mind that this is the same guy who, a few comment earlier, was outraged -- outraged! -- about Thomas Jefferson bein' Wikibio'd as strong and early proponent of "republicanism," (with a small "r"), 'cos that's so, like, partisan. Never mind that he was in favor of moderating direct democracy by means of elected representatives in a manner akin to, say, the "public thing," res publica, of the Roman Republic. The party by that name came along, if I can trust what I've read, rather later, after Rome and Jefferson were both safely dead.

And the purveyors of this level of "fact" are the folks steamin' up over Wikipedia's perceived bias? I guess I should be glad they've not leapt into the fray, preferring to whine on the sidelines; but it does give me to wonder.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Dyslexics, Untie!

I shouldn't; merciful heavens know I've done as bad or worse. Still, a fascinating comment to a (nifty!) story from China about a back-yard cyberteer:
Even Tesla burned up a few things in his life and the owlr would be crap without his inventions.
...Yeah, man, nothin' worse than a crappy owlr, sez I. Ruins the whole flonging amichimbo, donnit?

Another Stop On The Tour

Looking Southwest: Power plant, baseball field, hotels shaped like headboards (I'm hoping the big, blue-glass curved one doesn't melt the ones East of it some sunrise!), another one shaped like an M with a tail, various parks, a bridge kept just for pretty, zoo, gardens, museum, river, canal and -- of course -- the "Speer" building behind the Statehouse. They had a hard time finding the light switches in that complex -- seems the architect never dreamed they'd want to save a few bucks by shuttin' 'em off when the bureaucrats and their hard-workin' support staff* went home. Also a nice shot of the railing -- I'm actually behind it, at the far end of the South alcove.And here's due West, with a better look at bits of canal, zoo and -- at the the right foreground -- Mysterious Siege Engines atop the AUL tower. (I have no idea; I have been to the tops of several tall buildings but never that one: it's all two-way radio up there and last I knew, all one brand, too).One last item: Does anyone know how a Roman villa -- vide:Got up here?You'd have to be pretty acrobatic to go ask the next-door neighbors for a cup of sugar.
* And I say that without sarcasm; I have found State workers here to be, on average, helpful and solution-oriented. Yeah, hardly true to the stereotype, but whatcha gonna do? Helps that I ask fun questions, like, "How do I plate the MGB I've kept garaged for the last decade?" or, "Suppose I'd forgotten to pay income tax for a few years?"

Monday, April 19, 2010

April BlogMeet

It was a nice day for it -- sunny and a bit crisp; Tam and I even rode our bicycles! (This was to not work out so well for me, after...) We ate on the patio, beneath an awning and under the very shadow of the turtle-threatening statue:Clockwise from left: The Jack, The Tam, where I would be if I wasn't taking a photograph, Old Grouch, Mrs. Shomes, Mr. Shomes, Joanna, Caleb (!!!) and Mad Saint Jack.

The food was...simply faboo. Possibly better than that. The sangria was good, too. And Old Grouch found something....interesting...on the Google Maps shot near the old coke/gas plant and challenged us to ID it. (I did, and it is astonishing how much sense it made -- I had been puzzling over that image for days). If he doesn't post it, I will -- very kewl.

Conversation was as wide-ranging and fun as ever and service at Canal Bistro, in keeping with the food, was first-rate.

All was well, except heading back, I put a burst of speed on, pulling up on the handlebars, and my left elbow, which has been very sore and a bit weak, suddenly got a lot worse. It hasn't got much better overnight, either. "Tennis elbow" and I don't even play the game.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Our Tower-Tour Continues

Looking South-Southeast, including the City-County Building (handgun carry permits, first floor), the Indianapolis Heliport, the jail and some of the railing, complete with tower-climber knots.Looking South-Southwest, the former Merchant's Bank building (with the red-painted base of the tower that used to stand atop it, site of the city's first TV transmitter [assuming P.R. Mallory never had theirs on prior to or during WW II]. I've been in there, back when there was still a tower and the last broadcast tenant was a little low-power TV station), Union Station, the bizarre painted rooftop of Circle Center Mall (itself neither circular nor in the center), the Incinerator (way out there) and the downtown power plant. --Oh, and some ghastly monstrous stadium in Brutalism-meets-Retro style. Plus the other end of the railing and another knot that trails frayed ends. H'mm, hope that worked out for 'em. As ever, clickee maketh big, with a few notes on each photo.


Didn't get to the Second Amendment March; massive inner-ear dizzies. I stayed home, clinging to the bed. Grrr. I blame ear-popping elevator rides and pollen.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Wanna see where they dug up the Empire State Building? It's right here in Indiana!

Looking East

The first thing you see is...Me! And some tower guys, who are looking towards the sounds of a police chase. The roof of the City-County Building is just visible at lower left.Most of these photos were snapped after I'd wired up a connector and while the guys were attaching and weatherproofing it, or much later in the day, when three of us were working in a space where 1.5 techs fit. This one, I cheated: before I started soldering, I grabbed the camera, held it out and *click!* I should smile more.

A nice vista from this side:Near the center, a pair (or did they take one down?) of radio towers lead the eye down to a one-story building in a city park: it's Police Radio, the 1930s transmitter building for IPD. Still there and still in use. Delco ran ads in the amateur radio mags in the '30s, showing a row of radio-equipped squad cars (all with Delco heavy-duty generators!) parked out front. I'm told the radio workshop there was quite a place, as a lot of the equipment was built in-house.

A bit more of the view:Interesting big gasolier/gasometer at the center, no? The stuff that stretches off to the left seems to be associated:Google Maps shows big piles of coal -- I'm wondering if it's a coal-gasification plant. Seems odd, I thought we had natural gas around here (I know there's gas and some oil farther North). Then again, Indana's got coal, too, a lot of it a bit challenging for modern scrubbers. Do any of my readers/fellow bloggers know? (Old Grouch?)

Update: It's a (former) coal-gas (or "town gas") plant, which also made coke, and it had become a huge cash-sink for Citizen's Gas. See Comments for many interesting links!

Friday, April 16, 2010

It's Eating The Library

Before: Paul Cret's nice Central Library (ignore the, er, "art."):
After: The Monolith. Okay, it's a nifty backstop to the parks, buildings and monuments to the South, but it fits like glass-brick wall in a Greek temple: What if its appetite is not sated by the library?

I Can See My House From Here

...However, it's a little difficult to point to it.
[click to embiggen]
The natives don't look especially unfriendly...A peregrine falcon, not a huge big bird but they certainly make the pigeons run on time. They've got that pilot thing going, too, just as handsomely self-assured as can be. This one spent quite awhile observing our efforts, just out of reach. Not even the tower crew was interested in reaching, though; they may be little but they're all fight when it counts!

More later as I edit these photos.

Not Getting It

Why am I even surprised? Our Paper, on Our Bus Line:
The demand for mass transit in Indianapolis appears to be well ahead of the supply. Ridership on IndyGo's inadequate lines was up 5 percent in the first quarter from a year ago, [...].

Finances, however, remain a challenge. The key to building a strong transit system is to decouple funding from property taxes, which now account for 25 percent or more of IndyGo's money.

Although it's reasonable to expect riders to pay for a portion of the cost of bus and rail lines, taxpayers will have to continue to underwrite the mass transit budget, just as they do now for most other municipal services.
It's reasonable for me to subsidize a service I never use? How's that? The editorial goes on to point out that Charlotte, North Carolina runs over twice as many buses on half the budget, which suggests (to me; certainly not to Mr. High-Minded Editor*) that IndyGo can follow their lead, reduce their budget of a quarter of what it is now, and not need taxpayer support.

If mass-transit operators can't make money (or at least break even; I could probably be argued into supporting the Citizen's Gas "non-profit public trust" model), then they need to get of the mass-transit business and let another entity give it a try. For editorialists who point to a system four times as efficient as IndyGo an example of why us taxpayers should be deprived at lawpoint of even more money (he wants to shift the source from property taxes to sales taxes, presumably to add revenue from that all-important homeless-bum demographic, given that they are the only folks who don't end up shellin' out more when property taxes go up), I have no easy fix. Tax-funded brain transplants? I'd rather see that State-extorted money go to something semi-useful, like a cheap-bikes-for-ex-bus-riders program, or a study of the hive-like lifestyle of the naked mole rat -- which brings us right back to to topic of editors, come to think of it.
* Not that I would ever, ever imply the typical Editor is even high. Not in a million, zillion years. Never. --Well, hardly ever.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

My Angle On The Indianapolis Tea Party Rally

I couldn't be there; I had to work. ...But I could see it from where I was working:
[click to embiggen]
The event is on the far side of the Statehouse from where I am, so you're only seeing the edges of the crowd, about a city block long and the width of a wide street plus sidewalks wide. Look closely to pick up the scale, as the government office building on the far side of the Capitol is unaffectionately known as the Albert Speer Building: it is not built to human scale.

Dadrat it, I missed Bill Whittle. Maybe next time.

Salad Tip

If You Haven't Tried It: Tam and I picked up a pint of kumquats a couple of days ago and I have been slicing them (skin and all -- ya gotta eat them skin-on, trust me) into salads ever since. A few of them, a green onion, whatever else you like in what-food-eats (per Tam); it's dee-lish!

...Then again, the little citrus yummies are better than jellybeans all by themselves, too.

Teatime With Tamara

...I don't know what the world's comin' to these days: Tam's thinkin' about attending the Indianapolis Tea Party rally this afternoon!

Dear Washington, D.C.: Ya woke us up. Good luck tryin' t'lull us back to sleep.

Big Doings, Tall Tales

...that's the plan of action at the Skunk Works for today: I'm going to get to ascend to one of my favorite high places, take up position on an antenna balcony and...(wait for it...!)...solder wires! Yayy, hooray!

Luckily, it's a smallish MS connector, with, like, six wires total. Those things are no fun at all in the largest sizes (try 85 pins in a nice, dense grid. Bring your lunch). Unluckily, there's a certain amount of reverse-engineering involved, and we're not sure if the old connectors were pumped full of RTV for weatherproofing.

Still, I'm bringin' my camera. The view's awesome.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Didn't He Leave?

Andrew Horning, former perpetual Libertarian candidate for, gee, any office in Indiana they needed a well-spoken guy to run for, doesn't quite get it when it comes to guns. Andy, it seems we hardly know ye.

Oh, he has a point, but A) Vermont's the only state I know of in which the courts have properly and consistently applied the constitutional protection of the right to keep and bear arms and B) employers should have no right to dictate to employees what legal product they may keep locked in their own car on the employer's lot -- but no court has ever taken the Wookiee-logical step of averring that corporations, as creations of the State, are as bound by Constitutional limits as is the State itself. So it takes a law to remind 'em.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Indianapolis Second Amendment March, This Saturday

March in support of your rights! Open-Carry! Caleb's got the skinny. Should be a fine day for it. 2:00 to 5:00 pm (that's 1400 - 1700, Tam), Saturday, 17 April. Be there?

You Know It's The Party Of Love When

...They post comments like this:
...I've thought about attending one of these teabagger rallies and shooting a gun into the air, then stepping back and observing how many of these open-carry jerks pull their weapons and start shooting each other. Of course, I'd never do that, but mark my words: there is going to eventually be a bloodbath at one of these rallies....

Yeahright, just like there's always gonna be blood in the streets any time gun laws are put more in line with the Constitution -- and yet there never is.

But I would keep an eye out for morons like Mr. I've-thought-about-attending.

Refighting The Civil War

What, the piles of bodies were not high enough from the first go-'round? It's over. Slavery lost, which is good, though the end of that was inevitable; the relationship between the States and the Federal government was forever changed and that was bad (and also probably inevitable).

Also inevitable? Political arguments. But the longer they run, the less sense they make and if it gets nonsensical enough, Mama's gonna pull the plug. Okay?

Ft. Sumter Pile-On

Last one on's a rotten egg!

No sooner had Virginia's Governor, target-of-the-day du jour,[1] apologized his way out from under the pile than a new target showed up, another big pile o' brick in the harbor mouth,[2] as't twere, and Eugene Robinson pointed him out: Mississipps Governor Hale Barbour.

Gov. Barbour's crime? Why, he said "it should go without saying," that "slavery is a bad thing." And by "go without saying" he doesn't mean "don't say it," but that it's obviously bad. Which is obvious to everyone except Mr. Robinson, who launches into a high-and-mighty polemic about how there's no way no how nobody should ever, ever honor the soldiers of the Confederacy. (Who, he tells us, were fighting solely to preserve slavery, which would have come as a surprise to most of them). ...On that basis, somebody needs to get over to Germany, stat, and wipe out all of their military cemeteries from WW II, too....

Readers are also treated to a Harriet Beecher Stowe-esque litany of the horrors endured by slaves, as though those were the issue. No, wrong; the immorality here is treating humans as property, an injustice from which privation and cruelty, to a greater or lesser degree, must inevitably follow. There's not a damn thing he, you or I can do to for the individuals who suffered under slavery; they're all dead. But there's something we can do about the conditions and attitudes that made their suffering possible and we have done it: the institution of slavery is now seen throughout this land as unspeakably grotesque.[3]

And as for the young men -- and older ones, too -- who died in the terrible rift, they went to war thinking they were doing right; like you, me or most syndicated columnists, they wanted to preserve their world, even make it better. Some of 'em were on the losing side. All of them are just as dead as the last freed slave and the society they all molded is the one we've got today. It seems worthwhile to set aside a day, a week, a month to stop and remember, to bring to mind the entire history and all the people who died in bringing it about.

There is no honor in dissing the dead.
1. That's a joke, a joke, I say.
2. Like, say, Charleston harbor.
3. Well, mostly: 13th Amendment, "Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."And y'know, it's possible we might wanna revisit that clause. You'd think a guy like, oh, gee, Eugene Robinson, with deep-rooted feelings on the topic an' a place from which to get word out, would take that cause up, wouldn't you. ...Wouldn't you? [...crickets...]

Monday, April 12, 2010


Tam loathes this advert. So do I. It's all over the TellyVisionBox. The reasoning is specious, the politics obnoxious:

Okay, class, what he's telling us is, "Stop wogs by building wind turbines (using money new-taxed from you and me)." It won't work that way an' if he was serious about it, he'd be pointing to maps of Pelosiland and other oil-rich portions of U.S. waters & lands and chanting "Drill baby drill!"

But if hes serious about stoppin' malefactors with turbines, he's missin' a step: ya just toss 'em into the turbines! Easy as pie:

Bad guy, meet turbine. Buh-bye! Buh-bye!

Who Is Roland Martin

...And (per NewsBusters) why should I listen to his opinions on the Late Unpleasantness? Would he, perhaps, be a scholar investigating the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts? A writer addressing the socioeconomic conditions that made the war possible, let alone so bitter? An expert on terrorism?

Um, no. He's some guy on the radio, like Rush Limbaugh but way far the other way. And he might be at the bottom of a hole but he sure does keep right on diggin'!

War's over, Sir. Been over. Reconstruction and backlash? Also over. So's the Civil Rights fight that followed that. Last man I heard tell of standin' athwart the door to a polling-place with an ax-handle in his hand wasn't wearin' a sheet or even a Governor's suit, he was in New Black Panther regalia. And -- I guess you didn't notice? -- the current President of the Yew-Natted States is Af-, Af-, well, gee, I don't wanna give the surprise away, but you're gonna be delighted when you find out.

And in the meantime, there is a mountain of dead men -- Americans; kids, a lot of them -- from that bloody war who are gonna stay dead, no matter what you do or say. You can call all or some of them names if you like but it won't make any difference. They're still dead.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Not An Epithet

"Iotified Big Yus" is not a term of opprobrium. And despite what you may have heard from your friends or on TeeeVee, "Closed Little Yus" isn't, either. So stop yellin' 'em at people in traffic, okay? It's embarrassing.


My casual handwriting is a careless derivation from chancery cursive; written quickly, it resembles Arabic, ancient Egyptian Demotic or Roman cursive.

Yes, Rome, that distant, lost civilization, so very different to our own. For example, this bit of high culture, from a Roman play:

(Man trying to read letter illegibly written by another): "A chicken’s hand was it? A chicken surely scratched these marks…" (Var. trans. as: "...[D]o even hens have hands like these? For indeed a hen wrote these letters.")

That's "I can't read these chicken-scratches." Or, "Nam has quidem gallina scripsit." Gallina scripsit, indeed.

I should have notepaper printed up with that as the heading.

Aw, And They Were So Close

This morning'c catbox-liner showed up just in time. I was set to be annoyed at the front page, where a photo of -- oh, just guess! -- teabags illustrated a story about Indiana's Tea Party movement. But the story was relatively fair, occasionally even positive (I guess some of those layers of editorial oversight must be on vacation?) and idiotic graphic elements are, after all, a Gannett hallmark. The front page, above-the-fold story and a related one continues in a sprawl across most of two pages in the first section and include a box with information for the Indianapolis Tax Day Tea Party and the organizer's URL.

Splendid stuff; the paper's taking this grass-roots movement seriously!

Yep. Taking it for a ride, too. Y'see, aside from a promotional blurb, you won't read any of this on the newsrag's website. It's print-only. You wanna read it? Pay up! Fair enough, I guess, and it keeps the story from wider exposure on the Web, where the coastal elite might see it an' snicker at 'em. Or is it just me who suspects that might've been a factor?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

April BlogMeet

STOP PRESS! Umm --Sunday, 18th April? There was discussion here at Roseholme but we, uh, I, that is, did not look at a calendar...How's 18 April, 3:00 pm at Canal Bistro sound?

Good Morning

With Tam off to shoot machine guns -- or at least watch, given that the sound they make is "$$$$$..." -- I had better post something just to prove I'm here.

Checking my pocket notebook for funny notes; last one was the strong-base joke that caused a small reaction. (Neutralized with some vinegar, only lost a couple of pages).

Did find one that I may have used already, Actual Words from a State legislator on a proposed smoking ban: "I'm against it. I don't want to tell the men and women who died for this country that they can't smoke in their VFW Hall!" Umm, zombie veterans, sir? (Look, I am okay with goin' for high-flown rhetoric to make your point, but...).

Friday, April 09, 2010

Free Legal Advice

Radley Balko has posted links and an embedded video: 10 Rules For Dealing With Police. Good advice, generally common sense -- which can be elusive under stress.

Unsurprisingly, Rule One could be paraphrased as "Don't panic." Be calm and talk nice; it costs you nothing, it's one of the very few parts of the situation under your control and will make a big difference in how things turn out. Even if you are innocent as a lamb, all Officer Friendly's got to work from is your demeanor in the moment. And you can be sure he or she will.

It's a good video. I don't care for the theme music but hey, it's free.

The Stars Were Mostly Right

...And the Cthulhu Mythos-inspired humor of The Unspeakable Vault (Of Doom) has been back awhile already. A niche product, but oh, what a niche!

His blog links to and has examples of 3-D Mandelbrot figures. Indescribable.

Losing A Zero-Sum Game

Ruth Holliday directs attention to a recent report that the Marion County Public Library is giving serious consideration to dumping six branch libraries, as their tax receipts are way down, and wonders if they'd be facing as large a shortfall had they not decreed the stately pleasure dome, er, zillion-dollar rebuild of the Central Library.

Good question, especially considering the cost overrun and construction quality shortfalls of that project, not to mention the $750K (FOB) cost of the frightening public art in front of the place -- and all that, for a project that ripped out the venerable stacks and replaced them with an "open-plan" space that minimizes the (presumably horrifying) impact of all...those..books.

Aha! That's it -- they're savin' the kids in residential neighborhoods from the terror of havin' to go confront books and reading and all that awful stuff. It's so old-school. I wonder if the remaining vestige of the local library will rent video games online? Hey, it might even earn enough to keep another branch library open. Or buy some more self-important schlock art instead, prolly.

My tax dollars. At work?

Science Humor!

"You lye," they hissed.

He made the only possible reply: "Yes, basically...."

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Did I Hear The TV Right?

So the talk-show host leans over the heavy guest he's berating and huffs, "When you say, 'I will not exercise, nor shall I alter my diet,' you have increased your chances of developing a heart condition grammatically."

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

What We Have Lost

Montie, in comments at Tam's:
When the 1968 gun control act passed, my dad had to stop selling ammunition in his grocery stores (yes, we used to sell ammo in our convenience stores!).

FWIW, I was getting about a 1-in-30 to 1-in-20 failure rate on the random-ammo-can .22LRs I shoot, mostly Remington Golden Bullet; a few were primer hits that didn't go, most were misfeeds. Hey, free malf drill!

GreenPeace: Well, Green Anyway

Mike Flynn quotes from a posting on GreenPeace's blog. Inflammatory stuff, "We be many; you be few [sic]...We know where you [anthropogenic global warming skeptics and deniers] live..." etc. Follow links to the original and -- having already issued the call to arms -- they're backpedaling like mad.

Not just dangerously crazy: gutless crazy when push approaches shove. I'm not sure what's worse, fanatics waging climate war or spinelessness; but at least cowardice is quieter. Now if the warmista's'd get their blame thumb off the scales when measuring and evaluating, we might get somewhere. I don't think huntin' down either side where they live would be, you know, scientific.

Nothing Like A Night's Sleep

To lend perspective on a new day. I'll be under the bed, then. ;)

But srsly, folks... It appears I've got way worse than ever seasonal-allergy-like thingies, possibly from a couple of days spent working on some really ugly comms junk semi-hidden in shrubbery. It's a sort of a "force multiplier" for badness, especially if one is slow to notice. Since my usual response to allergies is to ignore 'em as contemptible little aliments (you're allowed to do this if you have migraines; it's kind of like playin' the dozens, only for keepsies), it snuck up on me.

Monday, April 05, 2010

The Little Flow-ers And The Little Bird-ies And Every Miserable Little Blade of Grass, Too

I usually like Springtime but this one augered in early. I'm goin' broke, there is much to do and neither time nor money to do it and the clock keeps ticking. The mirror has become my enemy and I can't seem to lose weight. I don't wanna cooperate with the census (I'd dodged every one, out with the junk mail, 'til Ex-Spouse roped me in on the last one) and my taxes are still due. Naturally, I can't find some of the paperwork.

[(weak) humor] But hey, the new phone books are already out! The harmless, perfectly safe telephone book, innocent as a bunny. Gah! Hateful things! Jeez, I hope they remembered to leave me unlisted/non-published.[/(weak) humor]


I keep making mention of updating I Work On A Starship and then not. In the current arc, I have written myself into a corner filled with pure tripe and there may not be a path out.

Might have a vignette or two.

Near-Stupid Experiences

Rode my '06 Bajaj Chetak up to the maternal parent's abode yesterday. This vehicle, sometimes known as The Flying Percolator, is more-or-less Vespa-inspired classic scooter, silver-gray in color, 150cc (4-stoke!), 4-speed on 10" tires. Top speed around 55 mph, at least per the onboard speedometer, and on those little tires, it's plenty fast.

It wasn't the season's first ride. I'd had it out for a couple of short trips and I always do a pre-flight inspection (one picks this habit up driving an MGB -- or one walks even more than is usual for an MGB owner). Nice, sunny day and no rain in the forecast, so no worries, right?

I was buzzing along College Avenue at the going rate when the SUV behind me suddenly swung out and went around me on a double yellow line. Wha-? He pulled away fast and as I was scanning for potholes and wondering if that was fresh paving coming up, he climbed the hill ahead and sent up a big rooster-tail of water.

Y'know, I thought that was awfully sparkly for asphalt. I had plenty of distance -- half a block? More? -- so I dropped my speed 'way down. Wet roads and I don't have a happy history together. Went through it under 10 mph, keeping near the crown of the road, wondering what was up. At the top of the hill, a blue-painted Indianapolis Water Company manhole was bubbling up like a natural spring, flooding the road all the way down the hill. (IWC has a history of leaks and cracks in this stretch of the road. Dunno why). Perhaps an inch of water at the deepest point and pretty good channels being cut -- and undercut -- on both sides of the street. It had surely washed the grease and oil away long before but it still wouldn't've done me much good to have come upon it at speed.

Clearly, that route was out for my return trip. Hey, I wanted to stop at the five and dime (Tarzhett) anyway.

...Except I found myself fighting a gusty SSW headwind all the way (the tall windscreen doesn't help in such circumstances!); went through the lot and the place was empty -- duh, Easter Sunday! -- and headed down Westfield Boulevard, still arm-wresting the wind. A couple of points, I nearly pulled over, and then I remembered: bridges! Westfield's got a couple of aching, exposed bridges over branches of the White River. I jogged back to College (South of the man-made waterfall) and took the slightly-better bridge there. It was still a gusty ride; South of Broad Ripple Avenue, I detoured down residential streets to get in among trees and out of the wind.

Note to self: next time, read the entire forecast!

Look, A Baby Wolf!


Oooo! Oo! And had a video posted the comments of which led me to Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor played on the glass armonica, wineglass-type. Can't be beat, that. Also? Said to drive the musican mad, eventually.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Holiday Visit

I love my family but I can't claim we get along. My siblings found it the height of humor, when I remarked on how my 20-year-old tomcat had lost weight (recently diagnosed as a thyroid problem -- he's on meds) and is creaky enough that he can't groom himself much (I brush him), to suggest perhaps he was already dead.


I love my Mom and my nieces and nephews are decent kids adults but I gotta line up somebody other than my brother and sister to bury me because they'd be giggling too much. And Baby bro's a health nut, so I can't count on waitin' to be last in line. Gads, I shudder to think of the sport they'd have at my house after I was gone, all the science fiction and radio and techie books (with a few mystery novels here and there) and old tools and radios they'd just snicker at and dump at the curb.

Maudlin nonsense. Guess it's good to be rid of it by venting.

Sounds Like...

"What was that masked robot?"

"I dunno, but it sounded like this...!"

From the blog of Venus Hum's Tony Miracle.

Like A Chimp With A Hammer

...An editor with an opinion page to fill. Take Friday, in which we are treated to a conniption that an Indiana lawsuit designed to block portions of the federal government's new health-care law carries the appearance that it's politically motivated. Indeed, the claim is made that our State Attorney General has conceded as much, even while pointing out the case is over whether or not the Federal Gummint can require individuals to purchase a product, which is not a partisan issue.

Ah, but the paper crows "hypocrisy!" because that selfsame AG expressed the (personal, AFAIK, as the lawsuits have gone forward) opinion that school districts should not sue the State using tax money collected by the State.

It's a good illustration why newspaper editors generally flee Federalism, shrieking, "It's a zombie!" They think it's dead. They're unable to grasp the distinction between State governments (using their own money; well, mine, but they took it) filing a suit against the Feds and school boards (funded by the State) filing suit against the State, not to mention the wider gap between a political figure's opinions and his, ahem, actual duties.

Me, I'd be in favor of every unit of government suing every other one, but they're all doing it with my money and whichever side lands up, I'm likely to lose. At least Indiana (and 13 other states) are standing up for Federalism and if they prevail (U.S. history presents us with a conundrum -- do 13 or so States have any right standin' up against the impositions and encroachments of an overreaching government? Yes and no), I might even win a tiny something: some of my liberty back.

Um, hooray? --But there is no cheering at out local paper, not 'til Leviathan has crushed us all. I guess we'd all be equal in every way once we were smashed flat,but I sure don't know how they're gonna sell any papers that way.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Range At Last, Range At Last

...In the words of that old spiritual....

Ummm, somebody'll take that the wrong way, so let me start over: At some (dang) point in my (dang) chores today, I'm a-gonna get my (danged) self to the (dang) range and have happy-go-shooty fun. Paper targets will be endangered, at least potentially. Hooray!

I'm takin' the 22-cal-converted AR-15. Haven't shot it with the conversion in yet. Need to. (That's converted to rimfire, .22LR, with a drop-in bolt carrier and suitable magazines).

Update: So, off to Creaking Eagles we went, snagging two of the last three lanes available despite a pretty good rain. The firing line's under a roof; it's a staggered deflect-o-roof from there back, set so that stray shots are blocked but air and light -- and rain -- are not. It turns out that .22LR EBRs are so "unusual" that there were a couple more already on the line. I had my Ruger/PacLite Mk. II and the Sistema Colt, too. All three of 'em still shoot better than I do and I wasn't shootin' all that bad. The AR puts 'em a bit low at pistol distances, which is just what you'd expect.

Returned home after a couple of hours and cooked up a big skillet o' stuff: sausage (mostly "country" style sausage with some andouille for kick), the last two strips of bacon, purple cabbage, an Anaheim pepper, two kinds of mushrooms, a leek and eggs, topped with chopped uncooked sweet red pepper, radish, carrots and a little grated cheese. Condiments as desired (a little Cholula hot sauce for me) and it's as tasty as can be. Small wonder I napped after!

Friday, April 02, 2010


So, I'm lookin' at the kewl collection of photos of the USS Macon which DirtCrashr linked and said to Tam, "Oooo, you should see the mooring mast for the Macon, it's like a combination switching engine, scenic elevator and radio tower!"

Tam spins around. "There was an airship named after Mencken?!"

[...long pause...] "Oh, Macon!"

"Yep," sez I, "But how wondrous if they had. The USS Mencken would have to be equipped with a pointy ram and go around deflating enemy airships!"

O, happy, happy world, that'd have such vehicles innit....

The Next Battle

HuffPo (again) advises Democrats how to win the midterms. Scary? Delusional? Scary and delusional?

They still don't grasp what they have awakened. Come the day, hie thyself to the polls and show 'em. Incumbents who've rammed through budget-busting, freed-restricting laws, out!

Definitely 2 April Materiel

I didn't believe it when I found it. My initial source is spoofable, though the cross-links would have taken a little more work and they try hard to prevent such things. Withal:

It appears the last Letter of Marque & Reprisal issued by the Federal government of the U. S. of A. was to the airship Resolute, in 1941; the blimp operated as a submarine-spotter out of Los Angeles in 1941 and '42. And they did have a rifle aboard, so we're talkin' armed privateer. (When you buy tires from Goodyear, you're doing business with the only surviving U. S. company to have operated a privateer vessel. I don't know if the Brits or other parts of the former British Empire have any. Did the French go in for privateering much?)

Airship privateer. The career I dreamt of* and it actually existed. At least for a few months.

Update: Commenter Justthisguy points to The Graf Zeppelin March and reports himself earwormed. What the heck -- earworms for everybody!
* Some of the time. You know, when I wasn't exploring outer space, bein' Pat Savage or pounding brass in the Merchant Marine.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Congressthing Frets: Is Guam Stable?

Yes, you read it properly. Go. Watch. Enjoy. My confidence in our Fed'ral masters has never been...higher.

Update: And then Neo-NeoCon takes it, in a very real way, to the next level!

A Democrat's Tea Party Calculus

Very conventional thinking (but interesting nonetheless) found over at HuffPo. Among other things, the writer's overlooking the present wave of anti-incumbent sentiment -- and he doesn't look to have read much political history prior to 1980.

If I were advising RNC Chairman Steele, I'd be reminding him of what happened to the Whigs.


Tune-up: That's when the mechanic sets your engine to rights with two sharp whacks from a small non-marring hammer: Nup! Nup! Two nup. Simple!

Update: Tam points out that prior to a two-nup (or a three-nup, for more severe cases), it's probably wise to sign a pre-nup agreement.