Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Duck! And Cover!

Remember the (shelved 'til 2012) Red Dawn remake that the studio decided needed to have the PRC replaced by North Korea, so's not to offend a major possible market? (Ponder that awhile).

Turns out there's another reason not to cast PRC in it: there aren't nearly enough nukes in the story to match the real thing.

Yes, while the U.S. and the Russians have been beating nuclear swords into useless, glow-y plowshares (at least we both got some nice booster rockets), China's been digging tunnels and stuffing nuclear-armed missiles into them. Um, just in case; why, they've even promised never to shoot first.

I think we should send Dick Lugar over there to give them a stern talking-to. I'm sure it will work. And if not, hey, at least he'll be over there.

Vernor Vinge, humanity sure could use Bobbles about now.

Changes Around Here

There are a few.

- Comment moderation is enabled. My judgement is harsh and cannot be appealed. (John B, if you have to apologize "for abusing your sensitivities" when you use a euphemism for a briefly-popular comedic expression, count on not getting your comment posted).
I'm saving all comments but a few (4 so far) are not getting published; one has been published as an image. The author of that one, "Bill," has sent another comment in much the same style, chortling about how "you got played;" there's another from "Anonymous" claiming "there would never be enough 'verifiable' information to convince [Roberta X]." Anon, there is a difference between "verifiable information" and "information enough to convince Roberta X." I could publish the first; the second, not so much, as inference and consilience* are tough to successfully defend. I could certainly make my own conclusions based on the second, though, and I have done so.

- BlogMeets will be invitation-only until I decide otherwise. Probably dates will be published, locations will not (and they will be new ones); RSVP and if you're unknown to me, you will be checked out. This is based not so much on recent events as it is on the attendee at the last one who prompted this post. I don't have any problem at all calling out "He@rtl@nd Irregul@rs" as a bunch of racists, since they provide all the evidence on their website, but I'm not going to increase their web-visibility by linking to their site or even spelling their name with the right letters. --I put off starting a fight over it but I was in no hurry to schedule the next BlogMeet. Now that I'm moderating comments, there's not going to be a fight.

- "Once bitten, twice shy." Hey, I try to be nice, and fair, and decent, and to let stupid notions reveal their own stupidity. But I can be a hard-nosed ol' babysitter when I have to, and I can be harsh on myself when that is merited, too. Readers are fine and most of you are appreciated, but like Unk says, "I write this for me, not you."
* Thanks to SF writer Michael Flynn for introducing me to the term in his fine book, Eifelheim, which bounces between star-traveling aliens stranded in 12th-Century Europe and a scholars in a future only a few years from now.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Now They're Talking About Mayor Bloomberg For President

Or speculating, anyway. Just when you thought the none-of-the-above sandwich couldn't get less appealing!

Freudian Slip? And The Toughess Of Marines

AP -- not very quote-friendly, so I won't -- ran a kind of neat story: Marine General James F. Amos says his concern that repealing Don't Ask Don't tell would undermine the war effort was unfounded. (Marines are even tougher than I thought*). That's how AP headlined it. Yahoo News, not so much:I am reminded of the public official (in Ohio?) who predicted "blood in the streets" prior to the state adopting shall-issue handgun carry permits and preemption of most local gun regulation, then came back after they'd been in effect for a year, admitting his prediction had been proven wrong.

Perhaps we underrate our fellowmen (and women). Really, how many kids in your primary school managed to fail "Works And Plays Well With Others?" Actions speak louder than words -- and way louder than Dire Predictions.
* Marines don't shy away from challenges. When an Oklahoma LGBT center invited all the services to send recruiters over, right after DADT was ended, the USMC was the only branch that showed up. I thought I blogged about it at the time but I can't find the posting.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Letters! We Get Letters!

Including very scolding trolls:
[Click to enlarge]
There are a number of points raised by Bill.

He appears to espouse a version of the "just one touch marks you forever" notion that makes (some) other people believe that thanks to my Cherokee g'g'grandmother, I'm not human. Except his kind of "purity" is ideological. Oh, how can he ever again trust what I say? (Doing a search on my blog for what I have said in the past might be a way to scope me out, and you might even use The Wayback Machine to check if I'm retconning; it's grabbed a few pages. I've thrown people off this blog for racist comments; I've delivered no end of lectures on what a stupid, stupid idea racism and other such hatefulness is).

So, Bill, some group with a member about whom questions have been raised shows up in my neighborhood, addressing the issue of firearms for personal defense, and I'm just supposed to cede the field to them? I went up and checked out what they were actually doing at the event. I can't tell what was in anyone's heart but I know what the words and actions I saw were.

If the behavior of participants at the event had been hinky or words weaseled, I would have called it out; this is an area where the Amendment most useful would be the First one.

But let us hypothesize that you're right about some person involved, a little thought-experiment; in that case, what happened? Why, a (postulated) baaaaaad guy had to be nice to the kinds of people he affects to despise. Our hypothetical individual even had to hand them factual information on how to get a handgun permit. If you were right, who got pwned, Bill?

I have a trail on the Internet, a history; this blog is most of it and you can look it over to your heart's content. I'm not entirely consistent, my spelling is poor and my writing is rife with typos but I'm not ashamed of what I've written.

Most people who've been active on the 'net have an online history; our words and actions linger. You post something on of one of the many forums or hosting websites and it is largely out of your control. It doesn't matter if you were being hip or flippant, kidding, "edgy," intending to shock or totally serious; unless it was extremely clear, your intent is lost and all that remains are the words and images. If it looks bad, you can live it down or live down to it but it's not going to go away.

I've got more material on the individual Bill is jibing me over here, most of which looks very bad indeed, that I am still thinking over posting. I don't know if it adds anything to the discussion or really answers any questions. It does build a pattern, as does the INGO thread.

And for actual racists out there, screw you. The rights to life, liberty and property apply to everyone, no matter who their ancestors were or what their religion or national origin might be, and that includes the right to defend all three by words and by deeds. Since you've got a problem with that, you're not on my side and I'm not on yours. But don't assume there are only two sides. From where I stand, you and Bill have a lot in common, starting with jerky knees.

(Edits are lined through, added text is dark green.)

Don't Got It

Maybe it's the Cyber-Monday (at least you won't get pepper-sprayed -- but watch out for phishing and fake websites) but I'm fresh out of snark and suchlike this morning.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Meanwhile, In Lancaster, PA

...They have what Art reports as an outstandingly lawful and industrious batch of Occupiers camped out. They certainly appear to be a cut above.

Maybe they should teach classes in camp planning, maintenance and working and playing well with others?

Update: Art says they already are.

Not Liking What I Am Seeing

There are links posted at INGO (dead link and I don't blame INGO for killing the thread) to purported John Hallgarth photos with Nazi and arguably racist images that appear to date as recently as late 2010. (Dates could still be 'shopped -- but cui bono?) It turned my stomach.

I do not support such things and persons of that ilk do not represent me, nor do they in my experience comprise a majority within the gun-rights movement.

I was brought up Methodist, on a steady diet of Sunday school stories about redemption and the experience of Paul (Saul at the time) on the road to Damascus. My faith's eroded a bit over time but even as an agnostic, I want to believe people can change for the better. But I've got no proof in that direction other than public civility (an under-rated thing, IMO, but hardly a look into the soul) and a lot of what looks to be past history (of varying degrees of provability) pushing in the other direction.

Occupy Broad Ripple with Guns itself was not racist, sexist or classist and took care to ensure participants treated all people in a friendly, decent manner; they limited the message to statements of fact, as seen on the flyer.

But I can't speak for what any participant might believe.

I can speak for myself: I believe all people are equal and that we are necessarily endowed with certain inalienable rights -- life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I believe that the Bill of Rights applies to us all without regard to creed, color or national origin -- and, as important, that it applies to our government at all levels; most of the first ten amendments consist of basic human rights set above legislative, executive or judicial whim. These rights are inherent in the workings of an ethical and just society. I participated because I believe individual self-defense is essential to civil society.

What Would An Anarchist Say?

Ever hear of Karl Hess? He was an American, and one of a kind; he wrote speeches for Barry Goldwater, protested the Vietnam war, wrote the GOP's platform in 1960 and '64 and later joined the SDS. He was a famous (or infamous) tax protester, who the IRS slapped with a 100% lien, leaving him to survive the last 30 years of his life by barter. (Karl to IRS: "But I'll starve." IRS: "Not our problem." Yikes!)

He saw politics up, down and sideways; from the outside as a newsman and from the inside as an activist.

And here's his gem about Nazis: "Adolph Hitler as Chancellor of Germany is a horror; Adolf Hitler at a town meeting would be an a——hole." --I'd add a caveat: unless he's the only one who shows up at the town meeting.

History gets written by the people who show up. If you're concerned that a movement you think is a good idea might get dominated by people with philosophies you despise, get involved and push back. And if you don't like the movement itself, if you think it's wrong, pull up a soap box! --But show up. Yelling at the teevee doesn't count.

Personally, I'll not leave one bit of the Bill of Rights for jerks to dominate. Bad enough the 4th is under heavy threat, bad enough Freedom of Assembly gets shoved around any time a big enough dignitary comes down the pike -- there's ten on the list, pick one or two and get your shoulder to the wheel.

"Are You Prepared? " OBRwG Flyer

Here's the official handout from OBRWG, in its entirety:
[Click to enlarge]
The paleface-in-a-ski-mask is probably a meme from the original Indianapolis Crimewatch logo, which featured a simplified drawing of an armed generic badguy in a similar pose and ski mask.

Then there are Indiana crime stats (sobering, but I have not double-checked them see below; time-between-crimes doesn't seem to square with the listed crime stats for last year if you do the arithmetic. Update: I had quick-checked on the only one that was wrong, see Karrde in Comments and footnote here).* The rest of the page covers how to get a License To Carry Handgun, advises the reader to get firearms training and lists several links.

I checked out all the websites listed. The first is a gun store in Shelbyville; looks like a nice place. The second, an online firearms forum. The third is a group supporting handgun carry rights. Fairly mainstream stuff.

One thing I haven't mentioned is that this kind of activity isn't easy for me. I'm terribly shy and don't speak very loudly; when Tam writes that I threw myself into it, it's because that the only way I can do it: take a deep breath, smile and start saying, "Hi! Here's information about self defense! Have a great night!" It's either that or nothing and I care too much about keeping Broad Ripple safe to stay home.
* Indiana crime per year, raw numbers and rate here. 2010 raw numbers match the flyer. time-between-crime numbers here and most are a near match to the flyer numbers with one exception: lists one robbery every 83.7 minutes and one burglary every 12.8 minutes, the difference being (more or less: I Am Not A Lawyer!) burglary happens when nobody's there (a property crime), robbery involves personal contact and at least threat of force (a violent crime).

I Have "Occupied" Broad Ripple With Guns

Update: While I'm still convinced it's a good idea to tell law-abiding citizens about how to get a gun permit, and a good idea to remind criminals that their prospective victims are not obliged to be defenseless, I no longer think the "Occupy Broad Ripple..." Facebook organizers are the the right folks for the job. Their behavior at the event itself was exemplary but there is too much of a cloud over prior activities of some members.

Tam has photos. So do I. We went up to the village, parked at Kroger and walked up to Qdoba for a snack, open-carrying. No problem.

We saw a few folks with flyers but it wasn't until we took a walk around a few blocks that we started meeting small groups or people, some open-carrying, handing out one-page flyers to anyone who'd accept them. No matter who walked by, they'd say hello and offer one. H'mm, seemed legit. Stopped for a longer chat with one group, very nice folks. We asked after the organizer, to learn, "He's kind of stepped back, he didn't want to distract from this effort."

We walked on and found John Hallgath himself with another small group, handing out flyers. He was personable, friendly; I saw him interact with a wide cross-section of Broad Ripple partiers and he was friendly to everyone. No, I didn't quiz him about the controversy; there'll be time to sort that out later. To my observation, he was not taking any sort of leadership role.

Tam and I went to Occupy Broad Ripple With Guns HQ (a tent canopy in a parking lot a little away from the Avenue). It was a well-run operation, with access to coffee and light snacks (and washrooms). Participants were required to show ID (and License to Carry Handgun, if they were armed) and to sign in and out. Among the rules, flyers were to be offered to anyone you could make contact with; participants were not to argue or debate, no matter what, "Just smile and say thanks;" and No Drinking, before or while signed in. We were also reminded that this was an informational event, not an exercise in vigilantism.

No hidden agenda. The flyer was a simple statement of facts. (I'll post a scan later). And -- welcome to Indiana -- what I saw, both as an observer and in an hour and a half of handing out flyers, was that it was well-received. A lot of people, maybe as many as half, walked on by (what'd you expect?); quite a few stopped and took flyers. I had one guy say, "Oh, no, I hate guns," but he was matter-of-fact about it; I smiled and said, "Have a nice night." Several young men mentioned their martial arts prowess. (Tam started humming "King Fu Fighting" after one had gone on." Tsk). Oh, and three cheers for the partiers: hundreds of fliers were handed out; I saw three (3) thrown on the sidewalk -- and I was looking (and picking up), as Not Littering is important when you're doing this kind of outreach.

I think it worked. There were a lot of IMPD officers in evidence, many of them next to bar bouncers; I saw one "No Guns" sign, handwritten, posted at what used to be The Wellington, and the doorman (bouncer) at The Vogue was wanding everyone before admitting them. (Good for them -- if you're going to have a "no weapons policy," don't be half-hearted about it). After Tam and I had signed out and were headed back to my car, one officer we'd walked past several times time asked me, in a friendly way, what I was carrying. (My very, very shiny .38 Super Colt 1911A1, pre-Series 70). He thought that was cool, and asked if I got to shoot it much. --Told him not as often as I'd like, but I tried to keep in practice. A nice chat.

Between Occupy Broad Ripple With Guns participants and IMPD, there were probably a half-dozen firearms per block -- and it was a quiet night in Broad Ripple.

And perhaps food for thought for the goblin that's been haunting Broad Ripple. Dude, we're spiking your trees. The next one...might fight back.

Update: One local TV station reports (on the air but not on the web) there was a counterprotest by a group handing out flyers covering some of the same questions about Mr. Hallgarth that I've looked into (and have yet to resolve). I did not see them -- but I will note that that is another example of freedom of expression. The evening passed peacefully, as I expected. Another station quotes one person claiming to have received a three-page flyer with some kind of racist message. I didn't see anything of that sort -- and I was looking; with apologies to Barney Fife, that sort of thing really does need to be nipped in the bud, exposed and publicly shamed. More: I've seen the "flyer" in question, five pages covering the same sort of info on John Hallgarth Messrs. Ogden and Small have found; the most recent is dated 2006. Probably from the counter-protest. (John, seriously, it's time to step up and say yea or nay about your current political beliefs. Lots of people have questionable pasts -- who are you now?)
Update: Even more.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

WANT! Agentine Sistema "Ace"

A long time ago, in a land not so far away (it was, like, Hartford, Conn.), a company that made the very first 1911 pistols made a trainer version of the 1911A1 that shot .22LR. Yes, little tiny .22 from a great big gun. It was called the Colt Ace. They cost like the very dickens, if you can find them at all. Four digits, easy.

Not quite so long ago, but very much farther away in a magical land called Argentina (where the Ballester-Molinas once thundered across the pampas), the nice people from Colt were asked to set up a 1911A1 factory, where "Sistema Colts" were made, almost exactly like the ones made in Hartford except for having cross-hatching on the trigger and mainspring housing. They are very nice; they do not make them any more. I have one.

...And at the gun show today, I learned the little factory in the magical land also made their very own version of the .22 Ace, complete with crosshatching and the Sistema markings. I want it. I want it very, very much.

[Counts money in purse] Will any of you cash a check for $700, American? Because the nice man is from a far distant corner of the state, so he won't take a check -- and he left his credit card machine back in his store.

Arrrrgh! I'll have to skip a whole lot of lunches to pay for it, but storytime or not, I do so want that Argentine Ace!

--Great gun show, by the way. 99.99% guns and knives -- no beef jerky or plush-toy animals. I did buy an inexpensive 9-shooter .22 revolver, which I need (as opposed to simply want) to help work on fundamentals. If you can shoot accurately with a double-action revolver, you should be able to shoot accurately with anything.

Goin' To The Gun Show

Gun show? Yes, at the National Guard Armory, across from the former Stout Field. The first one I have gone to organized by Tri-State Gun Shows.

Report later. Maybe they'll be selling loopholes!

Friday, November 25, 2011


As Tam mentioned, I had a Kindle Fire before she did -- by about 12 hours: she saw mine, pre-ordered in October, and went to buy one of the less-expensive Amazon readers, assuming the newest (Fire) wouldn't've arrive yet anyway.

It had. She couldn't resist it.

I'm not going to make a rah-rah partisan case for any particular e-reader; I've had hands on the Barnes & Nobles "Nook" and liked it and any of the main contenders offer a similar reading experience. I'd been considering such a device for over a year. The Amazon product's price was the deciding factor.

I like books. My dining room is literally walled with 'em and at any given time or place, I will be carrying something to read, usually a science-fiction paperback. I'm not going to give them up. Print isn't dead to me and it's not going to be. (Among other factors, most of my old-radio library is seriously out of print, despite the very best efforts of Lindsay's Technical Books).

--However, the Kindle is, in any practical sense, a book. My first purchases were Carl Bussjaeger's most recent two books and there was no "adjustment" from paper to page-size screen; reads just the same.

It is not only a book, though, and that's where they got me. In the past four days, I have watched all of the British teleproduction of Terry Pratchett's The Colour Of Magic and made inroads into Hogfather. Both are very much labors (labours?) of love and have outstanding production values; while they do differ from the books, it's very much the Discworld I've come to love. Having those movies right there in my hand, without any herky-jerky download stutters, in crisp image and stereo sound, is a very new experience.

Add in the little Morse-code-trainer game that's getting my code speed back up to something useful (needs work but it doesn't cheat much) and I think I've had $199 in entertainment even before I use it to check my blog -- or yours.

If it sounds like something you'd like, you can buy 'em through the Amazon link at Tam's.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Update: Occupy Broad Ripple With Guns Initiator

It could have been agitprop. Some of it still could be past history of a reformed soul -- but it is not looking all that good for the fellow who launched Occupy Broad Ripple With Guns.

Please remember that the event itself is an informal thing; showing up and talking nicely about self-defense with people who are willing to chat does not constitute an endorsement of anyone else doing the same thing. Tam and I still plan to visit downtown Broad Ripple Saturday night and we'll be smiling and sharing info. It's not a time or place to debate politics.

That out of the way, Republican blogger Paul K. Ogden and progressive blogger Mark Small have been digging. (This is what happens when you go on TV -- and why I advise against it unless you are ready for it and, ideally, squeaky-clean. People will dig into your online presence, your datatrail.)

It looks as if our guy -- or someone from the same area using the same name and noms de web, specifically "Der Ecips Gnaw" -- might not be squeaky-clean. (Or, hell, maybe the guy that shot from the grassy knoll had his grandkids in the Soros-Koch NSA IT lab at Area 51 gin up a quickie smear job, but I'd hate to have to put money on that). Paul Ogden's got links and some hard-to-read Google docs. Me, I'm cynical; I remember Winston Smith's gig. I've got screencaps.

Take them as you will. The first concerns the sale of a product that, for all I know, is legal and harmless; make up your own mind. Links to both pages at Ogden on Politics, see above.
[Click images to enlarge]The second is from 2004. It's ugly. The account appears to have gone dormant in '04 or '05. Six years is a long time, especially for someone in their 20s or 30s, and if his views have changed, it would behoove him to step up and sing out. Come on down front here and witness!

Sigh. I'm trying to address this without too much of my own wishful optimistic and/or pessimistic projection onto what is and isn't there. It's never as simple as we'd like, is it?

Turkey Day Menu

We went simple this year:

Photos to follow! My plate -- yes, that's a leftover strip of bacon -- waste not, want not.Tam's plate -- she wanted plenty of gravy! (And she'd already had her spare strip of bacon.)
Boneless, skinless ('cos that's what they had) turkey breast in crushed roasted pecans (and a few wasabi almonds). A couple strips of bacon cut up and tucked in the turkey to help keep it moist. Baked a long time at low heat.
Fresh mashed potatoes, made with Irish butter and black-truffle salt (thanks, Brigid!)
Bacon/mushroom (chanterelle and portabella)/onion gravy, thickened with cornstarch.
Good green beans. (see above.)

Coffee and/or soda with, champagne-and-St-Germain cocktails for after.

Tricks? None, really; smash the pecans (etc.) in a bag with a mallet, add spices, shake, lay a bed down in the pan, set the turkey on it and apply the rest of them to it. Roast in the normal way. It smells wonderful!

At that point, you've got a couple hours to waste; me, I wiped down outside of the oven and sorted socks (not on the oven).

The spuds, leave the skin on, cut in chunks, cook in water, drain, put back on the heat and dry (important!), then cut up nice and fine with a sharp knife (really a matter of stirring with it), add a little butter and milk, mash up with a fork, add more butter and milk and salt to taste, mash more, and repeat until you've got the consistency you like. Bacon-mushroom-onion gravy is plain ol' pan gravy using bacon fat; I reserve about 3/4 of it and fry up the mushrooms and onions (cut up small) in the remainder; crumble the bacon back in, add a couple cups water or broth plus reserved fat, cook and deglaze, then add the cornstarch dissolved in cold, cold water, bring to a low boil stirring constantly and keep it simmering for at least a minute while stirring.

Hey, I liked it. Tam liked it.


Y'know what I'm thankful for? I'm thankful for one civil holiday that's a magic mirror. Thanksgiving gives you what you bring to it.

If you're a beneficent or altruistic type, you're in!

If you're all about hearth and home and family? Got it!

If you wanna snark about the horrific political incorrectness of it all, man, this day is tailor-made! (Sheesh).

If you would rather look at the real economics of what happened, got ya covered!

And if you were looking to execute a dizzyingly-apt bit of pseudohistorical surrealism? There ya go!

If It's More Than 2" Long, It's Banned In Boston

Pocket knives, of course, and a more perfect example of making an illegal thing illegaler and punishing everyone for the actions of a few you could not get if you tried -- plus bonus doublethink!

Ammoland has the skinny, with video.

The problem, as posited by a subcommittee of the City Council and supported by a Transit Authority officer,* is that minors are being sold knives (already illegal), carrying them (probably already illegal) and using them to injure or even kill other people (definitely illegal, even in Boston) and therefore, they will be requiring merchants to get a license to sell any knife over 2" -- with exceptions for the big retail chains, like Lowe's and Target (Target sells pocket knives? News to me). Said licenses will, natch, be issued on a limited and discretionary basis. --And the Councilbeing chairing the meeting blandly asserts, "The big stores aren't the problem," going on to blame the little corner stores, gas station, etc. (And when called on it later, claims vehemently to have said no such thing). Sorry, pal, the cat's out of the bag and it's dressed just like Mr. Monopoly, down to the top hat and spats. --See, he thinks it's not the nice stores in the neighborhoods where nice people like City Councilmen live, it's those grotty little places in the 'hood, you betcha. And because kids are buying knives and some fraction of them are using them on people, nobody -- not even adults -- ought to be able to buy them. Well, other than at big box stores. (Gee, what happens if they save up bus fare? Some kind of horrible doublethink implosion?)

...Of course, that's not classist or racist, because it's good, high-minded Democrats doing it and their motives are p-u-r-e. Riiiiiight. Pull the other one, Snotty Man In A Nice Suit, it's got bells on.

There's even more mental midgetry in the vid, but I'll leave that for a spit-take surprise. I am so not ever goin' to Boston. So not.
* Food Court Team 6 not being available.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Occupy Broad Ripple With Guns UPDATE

So -- plenty of positive vibe via one-way movin' media (vide) and with it, the predictable effects of being publicly visible are happening to the guy who thunk it up.

I still think a be-visible, hand-out-flyers event of this sort is a good idea -- and I think the critics who claim it's some sort of patrol-the-streets event are off base. Tam and I are not gonna go play Junior G-(wo)men; that's not the point. The point is to remind baddies that not all their prospective victims are helpless. (And for the bedwetter who fretted, "Oh, great, now the Broad Ripple Assailant will carry a gun, too," think again; criminals favor overwhelming odds, like strong and sober hoodlum vs. drunk and weak co-ed. They know a gun is no defense from a gun; it's merely an equalizer and equal's not where they want their prey to be. A question -- is being raped by main force all that preferable to raped at gunpoint? Is not having even a chance to strike back really more noble than submitting to grievous bodily abuse? Update: Tam points out the current bad'un of BR has threatened all of his victims with a handgun already, so the fretter's even more foolish than I thought).

But back to our main thread. The organizer of OBRw/G (who has commented on this blog and been cordial and positive; I'd welcome any rebuttal he might want to offer) is in the spotlight and (based, I am told, on his Facebook page) a couple of accusations have been thrown his way:

The first to come up was that he was -- was, as in back when it was legal -- a publicist for a company making or marketing "spice," a sort of fake marijuana-like product. He's owned up to as much and pointed out that when it was outlawed, the company and that job came to an abrupt end. Okay; settled. One might question the wisdom of it but it was legal when it happened and it's done.

[Update: Tam is on Facebook. She looked and can't find anything about "politics." I'm callin' high probability of agitprop on this next item.] The other accusation, from a "progressive" blogger, is, if true, rather more serious. He's saying the OBRw/G guy is a National Alliance supporter (and they are, IMO, a bunch of racist nitwits.*) I can't verify it and it is at odds with other publicly-available statements by the man (scroll down to comments). If this allegation is true, I have a problem with that. I say "if true" because there's plenty of reason for doubt; the blogger so alleging is a man of strong opinion and there is a possibility that this is an effort to stir up trouble. (Only two posts earlier, he expresses his belief that private ownership of firearms ought to be flat banned and offers to debate it. I wonder if he would dismiss freedom of expression or of religious belief as readily as he does the right to effective self-defense -- but offer to "debate it" with those poor, deluded fools who think speaking their mind, reading whatever they like and/or worshiping as their conscience bids them is a good idea. Yeah, not gonna happen. Basic, intrinsic human rights are not up for debate, pal. How does he feel about warrantless searches, I wonder? "Walk right in, Officer Friendly!")

Lefty blogger-dude went out of his way to choose fighting words in his post title and therefore doesn't get a direct link. The first link in the preceding paragraph (or this one) will take you to commentary at level-headed Paul Ogden's blog and where you go from there is your own lookout.

I don't know if the allegation is true or not. --I don't care all that much either, because the right to keep and bear arms is colorblind and 'cos OBRw/G is not about one guy. It's not even about the people with guns who will show up. It's about publicly reminding malefactors that they cannot know which of their prospective victims might be armed -- and about reminding law-abiding citizens that in this state, (with a little paperwork and a State Police background check) they can carry the most effective means of self-defense ever developed: a handgun.

Dammit, it's time for average, decent folk to stand up. If you're not minded to carry a gun, or you can't (age, can't pass a background check, whatever), or even if you do, don't be alone in the known hunting grounds of criminals. Be aware of your surroundings. And if you are wanting to drink yourself stupid, at least take steps to do so in safe circumstances -- that means with a group of people you know, with a designated (sober!) driver, and having some idea of your limits. (Kids! A Public Service Announcement: You really can kill yourself with alcohol in one night and you'd be amazed how many people manage it in their 21st year).

The best encounter with a bad guy is the one you avoid. I hope you'll have a backup, too; even pepper spray is better than yelling "oh, stop." and suffering what coroners and cops call "defensive injuries," but keep your eyes open.

Be careful out there.
* I wonder if they'll even eat peanut butter sammiches? Ijits. I have a dog in this fight, thanks to a "Cherokee" g'g'grandmother who was probably a little of a lot of things -- and a fine person, from all we can tell. Hey, one-droppers? I shoot back. So did she.

When They Learn To Imitate Door-To-Door Brush Salesmen, We're Doomed

I'm already starting to wonder if some of the more florid versions of the "419" e-mail/bank scam* notes might have been typed by the mimic octopus, a sneakier-than-usual member of the breed that can pass itself off as more than a dozen other very different aquatic animals -- including what appears to be a sort of tiptoeing stonefish.


I think we're not too far away from, "Most esteemed Sir or Madam: I am have the honor to represent Mrs. O. C. T. Pode, who having but lately given to hatch, must soon pass from this world and has had to flee her beloved nest abandoning all funds ($12 Millions dollars U.S.A.) on deposit with our bank...."

Somebody call the GOP: I've got a replacement for Mr. Romney.
* Which turns out to be The Spanish Prisoner, tarted-up for a new age. A close search of Classical Greek writings would probably turn up an example, human nature being what it is.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Best. Ice. Cream. Float.Evar.

Vernor's Ginger Ale and high-grade vanilla ice cream. This works okay with Blenheim and should be fine with Fever Tree (sold as a drink mixer but excellent by itself) or even Ale-8-One,* but simply shines with Vernor's -- so much so that when I looked up the brand, I discovered the combination has its own name, a "Boston cooler." To my relief, this appears to have nothing to do with the East Coast city of the same name.
* Not, strictly speaking, a ginger ale per se; instead, it's a unique taste that is somewhat related. Quite regional -- I stumbled over a local supplier a couple of weeks ago. Highly recommended.

Signs, Portents, Floating Ski Ramps, Sharks; Dogs And Cats, Living Together

Ladies and gentlemen; proles, Praetorians and Party members; children of all ages: Hurry, hurry, hur-ray! Step right up! The Official Uniform of Depression is now the uniform of the Occupiers at Zucctotti Park!

Yep. Snuggies. --Since they've got to sleep sitting up.

No word on anyone selling temporary tattoos that look like open eyes for slumber party members protesters to put on their eyelids, but considering that at this point they're only a bowler hat, a cane and a boiled shoe away from a Charlie Chaplain movie, it's just a matter of time.

I don't think the shark even had time to put up a fight.

Monday, November 21, 2011

If Gene Roddenberry Had Produced "The A Team"

It ain't right.

But it's so wrong it's right again.

On 2012

Tam's post on the Republican field is getting a lot of linkage. I agree with her suspicion that the GOP can't find anyone better who will take the job, leaving the primary race open to newbies, second-rankers and the mildly nutty. --And Ron Paul.

Really, if Mitt Romney is the most durable dude they can come up with, I have to wonder if that party will last much longer (and why they are so willing to let a hostile media have so much influence). Sebastian manages to find some good in a possible Romney Presidency, but I have to wonder how many times roughly half the voters are willing to put up with having to choose between a serious beating from the opposing party vs. just being roughed up badly by their own party?

Who remembers the Whigs?


So, they caught a pipe bomber in New York City the other day -- nipping in the bud a nitwit who, with the help of an al-Qaida online magazine, was turning a JD prank into a more-serious threat.

NYC's mayor, the odious Bloomberg, offered up this soundbite: "This is a city that people [who] would want to take away our freedoms gravitate to and focus on."

Funny you should mention that, sir. There's a major anti-freedom group headquartered in your city that-- Oh, you've heard of MAIG? You bankrolled it? You run it?

Hunh. So, the difference between you and the pipe-bomber is what, exactly? He was after harming victims directly, while you'd just disarm them and leave them for thugs?

(Wikipedia's section on MAIG mayors with criminal histories has been expunged -- again -- but a few are listed here. Tsk, and we're supposed to take their advice?)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Made In Indiana

...By a creative niche-market supplier: Y'know those kewl-o New Orleans meter pit covers? The ones halfwitted tourists steal? (PDF) (Don't do that. Not only is it a crime, it's impractical; you can buy nice casts and miniatures of them in the Crescent City, or even just down the road at Yat's, and the copies are lighter, cleaner and have a stand or mounting hook).

Those nifty gadgets are made by the Ford Meter Box Company up in Wabash, IN, and were designed by Edwin Ford, the company's founder, way long ago. He doesn't seem to have been related to either Ford of Ford Motors or Ford Instrument.*

This is, however, not the only nice bit of art Ford MBC has produced; you see, they make "metersetters," that nifty gadget your water meter is plumbed into, more of 'em than anyone else (go check the one in your basement for the FORD brand; I'll wait), and so they'd have something to put in 'em on display, they also make "The Happy Meter." (PDF) It's a little large for a paperweight, but -- do want!

The founding family still owns a good-sized chunk of Ford Meter Box Company, and they've been in Wabash for just over a hundred years. Ponder that, the next time you're feeling hopeless.
* Oh, good luck finding a page for them -- the one I found a few years back is gone. Ford Instrument was picked up by Sperry, soon to be Sperry-Rand, then Sperry Corporation, running Sperry Remington, Sperry Univac, Sperry Marine, Sperry New Holland, Sperry Vickers/Sperry Flight Systems: Typewriters and electric shavers, computers, ship's instruments, farm equipment, airplane traffic control and, I think, instruments. Wherever Ford Instrument ended up in that, other than mechanical odd-jobs for Univac, is anyone's guess. Sperry became Unisys, in a shotgun marriage with Burroughs, while a lot of the little Sperrys got tumbled out of the nest. FWIW, archrival Honeywell -- also a Wabash, Indiana fixture, small world, ain't it? -- ended up taking in Sperry Flight Systems. All in all, I think the not-related Fords of the meter box company had a better time of it.

Exploding Manholes



(Thanks to Tam for the first line)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Owl Monkey Skull

...Only if I had one, I'd claim it was an alien skull.

Indiana: First Place Where...

Why, it's the first place palefaces got strung up when found guilty of murdering Native Americans. Make no mistake, murder it was and most foul. Decent Hoosiers won't put up with that -- and didn't.

Real life is messy -- one murderer escaped; another was pardoned at the last minute. But justice generally prevailed.

At The Gates Of Mordor

Or the Huntington (IN) dam. Whichever.

It's a carefully-chosen shot. The place doesn't really bear that close a resemblance to the poet's "dark satanic mills," but ooooo. 'Ware orcs, sir!

Occupy Broad Ripple With Guns


There's been some trouble up in The Village proper, what Tam calls "the Strip," a few blocks of bars, clubs and pubs centered on Broad Ripple Avenue (62nd St.) and running East from College Ave.: three young women have been robbed and the most recent victim was raped. Generally happens late and when the target is alone.

(This is no little distance from Roseholme Cottage, but we always practice awareness around here anyway; one never knows.)

In response to this spate of bad outcomes, one young man has set up a Facebook page for "Occupy Broad Ripple With Guns" and is planning an open carry event on 26 Nov, a week from this Saturday; participants will show up OCing, enjoy the nightlife (but refrain from drinking) and generally show the flag...and remind malefactors that this is Indiana: they cannot count on their victims being unable to fight back.

As Tam remarks, "What they call 'OBR w/G,' we of Roseholme call 'Tuesday.'" Or Saturday, or any other day of the week. In Indiana, we are not required to conceal, it just makes for a simpler day if you do. If you're going to carry, carry consistently; get training; practice regularly. It's not just for special days.

It's a hot topic over at the Indiana Gun Owners forum!

Friday, November 18, 2011


If silencer owners can get into baaaad trouble by owning potscrubbers and insulation, imagine the outcry this stuff will cause once Maxim's inheritor's lay holt of it!

The world's lightest solid (scoot over, aerogels) is what I'm on about. It's genuine metallic-type metal, it's got incredibly convoluted interior spaces -- and you can customize 'em. The applications are...interesting.

Update: Kudos to Skip, who points out that this stuff might be a useful impact-absorbing layer in body armor. Imagine if you could make the compression and expansion run at different rates (short, hard impact becomes long, slow reaction, actual force -- area under the curve -- remaining constant) or partially anisokinetic by proper arrangement of the lattice.

"Skin In The Game"

It's an expression used more often by sports fans and I may have it wrong, but I always heard it getting out and doing, as opposed to sitting back and blabbing.

Minor case in point, our jerk-of-the-week, Professor Avery: he is what he is (waaaay over there on the Left) but when his e-mails got out, he didn't try to pretend it was a joke or a fake. (And to his credit, his opinion of air travel's feddie "Theatre, Security, A" and their nudie-scanners is as low as mine or perhaps yours). That's worth remarking on.

Take one of my fave examples, the guy from the county-seat Social Security office in the town where I grew up, who took an hour a week of his own time to go on the local cable TV access channel and explain, in tedious detail, various obscure aspects of applying for Federal help and related topics. --Okay, I don't approve of the system, but people who find themselves having to use it report the process is frustrating and confusing and here was one guy, trying to shed light.

It is a sobering thought that even in the rottenest regimes, there are honest civil servants, fair judges, decent cops and people willing to step up and do what they believe to be right -- they may be outnumbered, afloat in a diresome ideology, struggling under crummy laws, or trying to cope with a broken society, but they are there.

And in a world where most people just "go along to get along," there's a lot to be said for the few who are willing to put in some sweat, to "get some skin in the game," to put their efforts or the money to back up their words. Even when they're jerks, at least they stood up and did something. At least they stood for something.

...Still working on this line of thought but I'd rather have an honest enemy than a passionless, inert blob that just wants to follow the path of least effort.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Is "Rule 144"

Would #144 on the list be "there's nothing so gross it's not on the Internet?" No examples, please.


(Yes, I know that for anyone even vaguely literate in Cyrillic, the post title reads "Yeading.")

I finished Rule 34 by Charles Stross last night and recommended it to Tamara. Alas, I turned the last page right before my usual sleepytime, so what I said was--

RX: "Tam, as much as you like William Gibson, I think you would really like this Stross novel, Rule 43."

Tam: [Very quizzical look] "Rule 43? 43? 'The reason dyslexics can't find pr0n on the Internet?'"

RX: [blushes] "Um, 34, 34. It's a sort of cyberdectective novel, but very different. And it's set in Scotland, so it might as well be on Ganymede...." [starts giggling] "Egad. I really said '43.'

Tam: [snickers] "Yup."

[Players exit, laughing]

...Withal, it is a good book; a bit twisty and "for mature audiences," but in a manner that is integral to the plot. I'd only previously read one of his Lovecraftian/spy yarns, fun but nothing to yank the rug out from under the reader, so my expectations proved rather lower than the book. Guy can write.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

First Amendment: It's For Jerks, Too

Maybe it's especially for jerks; without Freedom of Speech (or tenure), Massachusetts law professor Michael Avery might be out of work and in the hoosegow by popular acclaim.

As it is, I'm using my free speech to call him out for a heartless schmuck,* and that's being nice: he's of the opinion (and happy to share it) that it is "shameful" to send care packages to U.S. troops. Huffs the professor, they "have gone overseas to kill other human beings."

Um, yes and no, prof -- they were sent. Amusing as the Arlo Guthrie song is, the services tend to react badly if you start jumpin' up and down in the recruiter's office, shouting, "Kill, kill!" Given their druthers, I'm sure nearly all the troops would just as soon have stood in bed, or had a nice, indoor, continental-U.S. job doing something safe, like teaching law. But those are not their circumstances and it's not their job. The politicians sent 'em out to kill (so to speak), politicians all across the spectrum; the pols who told you "we" were waging peace and spreading democracy and who omitted mentioning not everyone in far-off lands agreed with that goal and/or the means. You've probably voted for pols who voted to send the soldiers; it's hard not to.

And, prof? This sending of care packages? It's a voluntary act; people collect small, useful items and send them, stuff like sunblock and lip balm, the sort of things a law professor can easily pick up at a corner drugstore but a soldier overseas often cannot. Nobody is forcing you to help in the effort.

Nobody is forcing you to shut up, either -- but you might want to remember that although "War is the health of the State" is true as far as it goes, it's not all that healthy for the individual soldier. It's no crime to send them some minor comfort, even if you think they shouldn't be where they are. Maybe you'd be wanting to stop sending care packages to the U.S. Congress, instead? They call those "taxes." Good luck.
* Originally I used "weasel," but that would be an insult to mustelidae everywhere.

How Convenieeeeeeent

Just in time to muddy waters of the Fast & Furious investigation and cast a cloud over national handgun carry permit reciprocity: Loopy loner fires shots from an "assault-style rifle" at White House.*

Any more, they tend to sink quickly in the hurly-burly of the 24/7/365-hour news cycle unless they do serious damage, but I'm startin' to think L. Neil Smith is onto something with his half-serious theory about how these guys show up so handily, almost as if they were programmed for propaganda purposes. Or is there a "noise floor" of nutjobs that gets elevated when it suits the hoplophobic media? Hard to say for sure -- but this will bear watching.
* Bonus! The report informs us that a "bullet round" was found stuck in a (bullet-resistant) window at the White House. A what?

Is Your House Your House?

Despite the addlepated Indiana Supreme Court decision (have I mentioned that you should vote NO on Justice Steven David in November 2012 yet this month?), the Legislature appears to be giving the matter some attention.

My hopes aren't high -- most politicians would count flooding out your house as a big-win way to get rid of mice -- but hey, they noticed.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Occupy Turning A Buck? No?

...It's one thing to wave signs at bankers, it's another to smash their windows; it's one thing to have a "leaderless movement" and claim to be standing up for the little guy -- it's another when a medum-sized guy comes up with a kewl T-shirt that riffs off that movement and starts sellin' it, and the "leaderless movement" whines about not getting a share in the profit until the thing is withdrawn from sales.

Hip-hop artiste and clothing designer Jay-Z made himself an "Occupy All Streets" T, got tweeted wearing it, sold a bunch for $22 a pop...and then yanked it when an "OWS leader" (???) got all butthurt about not getting a slice of the action.

Gee, whose idea was the shirt? Seems OWS has the same notions about intellectual property as they do about real estate and cash money: it's only yours if they've decided not to take it from you. Yet.

Thugs. It's a pity -- they and many of the TEA parties had some common goals, like ending the Federal Reserve and lettin' failing banks fail; I'd've liked to see 'em get together where they could and maybe move the mess off top dead center but it wasn't to be and now, as the po-leece once again roust 'em from their comfy, expropriated park, OWS has dropped below self-parody and started digging bare-handed in the mud, still hoping that the bottom will drop out as they bore toward bedrock. --And maybe toward Bedrock, too.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Received This Date

...Addressed to "Roberta [X] and Tamara [K]," (awww) from "Central Indiana Labor Council AFL-CIO," a mass-mailing reminding us of the November election "just a few days away" and featuring a list of candidates who have "received endorsement and/or recommendation to support" from that organization.

(You'd never [not in a million, zillion years] guess what party they all are. Oh, shock.)

The "recommendation to support" listees all get a special asterisk. Darned if I know why -- what, you should vote rilly rilly hard for them? Treat 'em to a cuppa joe? Sorry, pols can earn their own or do without -- votes, coffee, whatever.

Anyway, CILC, thanks for your good-citizenship in telling me who to vote for. I'd sure hate to have to make up my own mind! Maybe next year, you might want to hire a crew who can get the thing in the mail on time?

Send it along. It's non-glossy paper and we can always use catbox liner.

"Libertarian" Des Not Mean "Extreme Republican"

Why is it that some folks -- the Left most visibly, but that may only be because they think they're slinging mud -- believe that libertarians (small-l and capital-L alike) are some kind of hyper-GOP?

Is it Barry Goldwater and Ron Paul? --Lovely men in many ways, but alas, neither one anywhere near their party's mainstream. In fact, despite radically different ways of talking about what government ought to do and what appear to be very different philosophies, the actual actions of Democrats and Republicans are remarkably similar. When big businesses start to tank, Congress and the President bail 'em out. Oh, with a little pro forma bickering, to be sure; with a different collection of pretty phrases to justify it -- but George W. Bush bailed out banks and Barack Obama bailed out the big carmakers, Congress colluding (and public opinion running against it, to a greater or lesser degree) in both instances.

In so doing, both men showed me that there is no place for me in their party. Business -- what Marx dubbed "capitalism" -- is about both reward and risk; the U.S., especially the post-FDR U. S., has removed the second part for the biggest companies. Unsurprisingly, many of those companies are deeply entangled with government. Result? Two parties, one rule.

Then there's that favorite canard, used (almost reflexively by MSNBC commentators) against Republicans and libertarians alike: "They're against regulation," most often with "...that keeps us safe," added. I guess Ronald Reagan started it -- even though his "unregulation" efforts were largely cosmetic and there's no evidence they reduced safety. I don't know if this opposition to regulation is actually true of Republicans: the EPA was a creation of Richard Nixon's administration, after all. It's not true of me -- I'm quite fond of ANSI and even more so of Underwriter's Laboratories, not to mention all their competitors. Oh, if things went my way, you'd probably want to keep your subscription to Consumer Reports up-to-date, to be sure; but what all these groups have in common is, they're private organizations who rely on end-user trust to stay afloat and work by consensus and sharing information; while this doesn't guarantee perfect immunity to regulatory capture, it is considerably better than a government regulator that operates with the force of law and, these days, is likely to have its own SWAT team. Once one of Uncle Sam's regulators has gotten into bed with some industry or group, they rarely get back out. The regulatory burden undergoes cancerous growth and the field of endeavor invariably tilts to favor larger and larger players (case in point: in most cities and towns, the local radio stations are now owned by one or two enormous companies, headquartered in some distant city).

Or take civil rights -- civil rights for everybody who refrains from initiating fraud or force against others. I'm in favor of it. The GOP wants to decide which couples can get married; the Dems favor quotas that resemble a bad James Watt punchline. Me, I favor people minding their own darn business and letting their fellow citizens mind theirs; I favor businesses hiring the competent, the skilled and talented;* I favor naming and/or shaming racists and haters for the very simple reason that they are always outnumbered, not, perhaps, so much by folks who have in their heart a deep lovingkindness for each and every person but by the vast majority of us who don't care about your skin color, religion, national origin or choice of adult partners, as long as you keep your lawn picked up and aren't too noisy when we are trying to sleep.

For that matter, I think we ought to help out the downtrodden; I just don't think it's effective to go about it by letting a government agency take our money at what amounts to gunpoint and skim off most of it to pay for nice people in nice suits in nice offices before applying one red cent to a poor child diggin' dinner outta dumpsters. We need lower taxes -- and a lot more charities with collection plates.

Alas, I am out of time and nowhere near the end of the list. I wanted to at least try. I get tired of being accused of being a superRepublician or a weak-kneed dupe of Democrats. I ain't neither. I'm me. I'm a libertarian and I wish hoi polloi had a slightly broader streak of not-meddling. But the majority of voters out there don't and the pols they vote into office are even worse that way.
* Interestingly, the behind-the-scenes parts of business I work in has small margin for fools and doesn't pay terribly well compared to the work; you get people who do it because they're good at it and they like it -- and you get a workplace slightly more diverse than an After-School Special. Ain't that many folks who both can do what we do and who will do it; it's a "level field" for anyone who makes the grade.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Ate Oh Clock? Reading!

And here I am, inside of my head blank as an eggshell.

Let's see, I recently read the remaining three books in Gregory Maguire's "The Wicked Years." Yes, there are sequels to Wicked, continuing his revisionist history of Oz. (Son Of A Witch, A Lion Among Men and Out Of Oz.)

Eminently readable books, though if you were looking for clear-cut heroes and villains and acts of unalloyed evil or goodness, better look elsewhere. If the original Oz books are read as a history for children, a history written as the 19th Century ticked over to the 20th with all the cultural and sociopolitical baggage that entails, then Maguire's books should be understood as a recently-written history for grown-ups. Events unfold with the complexity and ambiguity of real history, neatly fitted around L. Frank Baum's original work.

While the books are liable to do a little overwriting of your childhood memories of magical visits to Oz, I recommend them.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

2-D Goggles!

There's a new story arc beginning at Sydney Padua's brilliant webcomic featuring Charles Babbage and Lady Ada Lovelace.

If you loved reading famous modern poets in English class or loathed it, either way, this arc's for you.

As ever, Ms. Padua has done all her homework, so you don't have to -- and usual, the more you know, the funnier it is.

Rocket Launch?

Unretouched photo. Downtown Indy. Looks like they sent up a Gemini/Titian from the State Fairgounds, but you'd think that would have made the newspaper.Maybe.

Might work better with the entire snapshot:

Friday, November 11, 2011

Merry Christmas, Suc-, er, "Citizen!" Here's Your Bill

Claire says it's been "put on hold," but Dear Ol' Uncle Sam, mindful of the hard times occasioned by this here dep-, um, reces-, ah, that is, "minor economic downturn" and the impact of facing another holiday season still (unless you're one of the luckier or better-connected employees of a .gov) makin' what you made in 2008 -- if you've got a job at all -- in that very tender light, the benevolent an' ever-loving that feels your you pain, empathizes with your frustration and weeps the exact amount of tears specified somewhere in the CFR for each and every sparrow that falls, plop! on the corpse of a matchlessly quick-frozen Little Match Girl iced solidly to the stone under which a caryatid has been crushed flat, tryin' to pay off her home loan -- yeah, that has done A Thing To Help Cheer Your Ungrateful Self Up:

They levied a tax on Christmas trees, the real grown-in-dirt organic variety.

A tax.

On Christmas trees.

Oh, frabjous day!

Outcry followed. Wow, who would have thunk? It would have been a pittance -- fifteen of those base-metal-core cents -- but it was a pittance too far. Or at least it is so far.

Looks like this year, Uncle Sam won't hit you up for pocket change. Next year? I dunno. Maybe they're hopin' by next year,Occupy Christmas will have us all sleepin' in mangers and eating hay. Or maybe sleeping on hay and eating managers, which seems to be more the general intent.

11 November

...The man in the nice suit inside my TV almost said, "This is the first time Veteran's Day has fallen on 11-11-11 since 1911," but some dim sense of reality stopped him short.

It's Armistice Day. The day the guns fell silent.[1] And no matter how much Congress or your Social Studies teacher wants to retcon it to a safely generic holiday for "Veterans," that is why this day falls on this date. The Brits, somewhat more felicitously, call it "Remembrance Day," and it should indeed be that.

You can't express your gratitude to the men who fought the first mechanized war. Even the ones who were not ground in the gears are gone now; all that's left are scars on the landscape [2], redrawn maps that were scribbled over again a generation later, histories, monuments.

You can thank the men -- and women -- who, with that history as backdrop, still step up, (to paraphrase Patton) not to die for their country but to live for it, to fight for it and win for it. They're still there.

And the gears are still grinding.

Thank a veteran today. I don't care what you call this holiday, as long as you remember the past -- and don't lose sight of the present.
1. Mostly. In Africa, it took three more days.
2. Others have linked to the photos of then and now but I find it poignant that the "war for democracy" was mostly fought between monarchies on the soil of a republic, the only one among the major powers until the U.S. showed up. The marks left on France still show, and not only on the landscape. --Of course, France was not the only front and for "marks that still show" elsewhere, look no further than modern Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the former USSR, none of which are likely to have existed without WW I. (The Balkans, on the other hand... Sigh).

Thursday, November 10, 2011

This Side Up

And up and up and up....I feel dizzy!

National EAS Test: OOOPS!

So, FEMA and the FCC threw a party EAS Test and the clown never showed up -- or maybe the clowns were running it.

FEMA, having, perhaps, bumped up against hard reality more often than any Federal agency except the National Weather Service, warned going in, it's a test. They were looking for unsuspected weaknesses.

Found 'em. Here in de Hoosier Hardtland, we got the tricky part just fine: the blind-sent data bursts chortled along and the text it's supposed to make pop up on local station TV screens did just that. But the easy part, the 1920s-technology where a fellow in a far distant city speaks and it goes to broadcast stations and we all hear it? Failed. Thirty seconds of between-stations static is what we got -- and early word in the biz is, that's exactly what Uncle Sam sent to the big AM station that serves our area.

In other regions, the voice message was garbled, "echoey," or had a lot of noise. Early word is the entire state of Oregon received.... nothing at all! In some cases, stations that thought they were ready learned otherwise; but that was far less common than high-level failures at the originationg points serving entire regions,

You will, however be relieved to learn that in New York City, where "remain home, remain calm" is about the only possible emergency information that won't result in panic and gridlock, the system appears to have worked fine.*

Before we go off in a chorus of "Ha-HA!" like the kid in The Simpsons, I have to point out that nearly all the state-level systems (which are tested monthly) worked A-OK. If FEMA sent out noise or garble, they faithfully relayed it to a puzzled public, in exactly the same way they relay the clear and understandable monthly test message and weather alerts. Sure, you're online with Twitter, Facebook, blogs or news or listening to an iThing, but if you do have a TV or radio on and there's a typical state or local emergency -- tornadoes or locusts, tidal waves or wildfires -- the message will get to you.

However, if the Postal Service goes belly-up or Washington, D.C. goes down like Atlantis, I would not expect the EAS to carry the warning. At least not until they figure out what went wrong and go about the painful process of fixing it.

You might take some comfort that on 11 September 2001, when a national-level emergency did take place, the news was disseminated rapidly. Not by the government but by the various companies that run for-profit networks all day, every day: ABC/CBS/NBC/Fox/CNN etc. all jumped on the story as it happened -- and even pushed their scheduled commercials aside to do it. There wasn't any question of the message making it to you; it had been reaching you 24/7/365 to hawk soap flakes and cornflakes already and when the stakes suddenly got much higher, it was already in place, working.

Funny, that. (Oh, Adam Smiiiiiiiiiith....?)
* I'd like to mention that in the two most recent actual emergencies to afflict New York City, the World Trade Center attack and the 2003 Northeast blackout, NYC residents did extremely well, stepping up to the situation and doing what needed done, a far cry from the kind of chaos predicted in fiction.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Meanwhile, In Outer Space

I have finally posted the latest chapter at I Work On A Starship. Rannie Wu and a young man you might almost recognize cross paths for the first time!

--Are you sure that was a plain ol' asteroid that sailed by the other day, well inside the Moon's orbit? They've only been tracking that thing since early in the War; the way I hear it, the Edgers lost a big ship to a supposedly-random impact early on; the survivors scuttled the 'Drives and yelled for help and they've just left the hulk. Kind of a memorial.

On Elections

Well, The Accidental Mayor will remain in office. Considering his opponent had pledged to join the Bloomberg anti-civil-rights group, Illegal Mayors Against Guns, I'm not entirely displeased.

--And I'm not as happy as I could be, either. So, it seems, is a majority the electorate, who returned him with a smaller margin than last time and saddled him with an opposing-party majority on the City-County Council -- and at the various news sites, one of the most common comments was along the lines of, "You'd've won with a huge majority if you would fire Frank Straub."

Our ever-popular Public Safety Director is probably a big part of the reason Mayor Ballard didn't get the F.O.P. endorsement, too.

Well, he's got another four years. I sure hope he learns some new things -- and/or takes better advice.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Does Your Vote Count?

Maybe not -- what's the cynic's caution, "If voting could change anything, it would be illegal."

On the other hand, look here:No matter what the outcome, 20% of the registered voters in Marion County, Indiana will be picking our next Mayor and this year's crop of Councillors. Twenty percent -- and that's more like twelve percent of the adult population. (We're up to 25% at last check. A quarter of us to pick the fate of the rest?)

As one in a million, my vote might not be so much. One in a hundred twenty-five thousand? Yeah, that's startin' to look like something.

[Update: Factor of ten error! Sooooo lazy. Realized it as I hit the off button and have dug out my Eee to fix it from bed.] There are several races where ten one percent -- 1,234 voters -- will might tip the balance. We've got high schools with graduating classes that large around here! (With 99% of the results in, a bit over 29% turnout. You'd need a bit over 1,700 to swing a close election -- still not all that many.) [Update: Okay, you'd need 17,000 to have a big impact. Still, it's not enormous for a city of a million. There will be new City-County Councilors-At-Large seated with a tick over 11 percent of the vote. /Update]

You only get to pick the candidates they serve up (well, there is a spot to write in for the Mayoral contest) but you do get to pick. Even though the Libertarian hopefuls are getting trounced, it's an honest trouncing.

Vote. You might surprise the bastards.

Yes, It's A Real Headline


"Experts say Oklahoma quakes too powerful to be man-made."

Um, yes. Geez-o-peet, did they all cut Science class to go watch James Bond movies, or what? Matt Helm flicks, maybe?

I'm gonna go vote. I'm leaving the brightness control on the monitor turned all the way up, but I don't think it's going to help.

Monday, November 07, 2011


Not to complain, but the past weekend's "can't get warm" ailment progressed to dizzy spells today, along with mild disorientation. Gee, I'm having fun now!

--It amazes me that people take drugs in order to feel like this.

(Tam just chided me for claiming chills as "Blogoradosis," which she points out was in her case part of a 103-degree fever and flu. Good point. Never bothered to check my temp, either. What difference would it have made? "Oh, horrors, it's rilly rilly high, go sleep in ice cubes?" Not gonna.)

Monday Morning

...And what have I got? Bupkis!

Well, except for my homework: verifying my polling place, looking up the candidates, seeing who's incumbent and who's not; we've got a full slate (4) of Libertarians running for the at-large seats on the City-County Council, including Broad Ripple stalwart Bill Levin, who gets my vote immediately. (There's one incumbent LP candidate, but he's not at-large nor is he from our district; our incumbent is the painfully sincere Republican Ryan Vaughn. I'll vote for him, too, and hope he stays as dewey-eyed).

Interestingly -- especially if you study how these things affect results -- in every race, Mayoral, Council at-large and by district, the listing is in strict party order: Democrat, Republican, Libertarian. Bit of a stacked deck?

Anyway, I try to do some research and I usually go vote for people as crazy as I am. If that bothers you, there's only one defense: vote right back at me!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Tactical Microphone

Tam, on flashlights: "Sure, there are some good lights coming out of the Far East these days, but people don't understand -- the Surefire is my constant companion light, in my turse, my winter coat pocket, in my car. I've demo'd these things by pounding nails with them on -- incandescent versions!"

RX: "So, it's a go-to light, always ready-- Hey! They sell E-V 635 microphones by hammering nails with them, too. I wonder--"

Wonder no longer. There is, of course, a tactical black version of the 635 -- with an uprated rare-earth magnet, no less! And in all seriousness, if you need a mic that simply will work, that's the one. Probably still the go-to microphone of combat/riot journalism: it's a mic, a billy club and even an emergency earphone! (The latter trick terrifies the overcautious, and you really should turn the volume down before plugging into the headphone jack of your iThing, but it works a treat).


So, I'm reading "23 magical cooking tasks your Razetheon Radioarrange can do" online. None of them are at all new or usual -- I've been quick-nuking ice cream for decades -- and at least one is actively bad:

"Rub a potato with olive oil, put it on a suitable plate and microwave on high until soft, 12 to 15 minutes."

No. Do not. You know better, right? Do it their way and along about minute 8 to 10, that spud will explode, spraying the inside of your countertop EMF irradiator with a layer of mixed under- and overdone 'tater.

Fork it first, or at least stick a couple holes in the skin with a toothpick; zap it no more than five minutes at a stretch (three is better, IMO) and unless you bought the model with 3-D rotation, flip the tuber over after every increment. Continue until done.

Makes a perfectly acceptable baked potato if you do it right; otherwise, it's just Vegan Poodle Surprise.

Update: Ohboy! You can poach salmon with a microwave!

See, you go to the Pacific Northwest and refrain from getting a fishing license. Okay, now immerse your microwave (unplugged! Safety first!), with the door open, in a stream where salmon are. As soon as one swims in, slam the door short and yank the oven out of the water with the cord: instant yummy microwave-poached salmon!

(One of my uncles was going to poach a rhino in Africa, but he couldn't afford freight charges for the pan.)