Saturday, March 31, 2012

Saturday Miscellany

I'm off to the Columbus (Indiana) Hamfest -- an amateur-radio swapmeet.

In the meantime, there's a link at Retrotechnologist to an interesting collection of workshop tips and tricks. Enjoy!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Linguistic Patrol: The Acronymicon

See, here's the scene: y'drive your SUV vehicle up to the ATM machine; when you enter your PIN number while looking at the LED-diode illuminated LCD display,* it groans and clanks and spits out an ATM, where you punch in your PIN and get a big glob of cash that you stuff in your briefcase -- and then, I suppose, you put that little valise into a briefcase case, right?


I guess I'd better be just glad I was able to get home to my house without being chased by the IRS service or the IMPD department, 'cos it's not gonna get any better. Next thing you know, people will be writing in slang!
* Many thanks to Dave H for pointing out this necessity in comments!

Presidential Choices

Not the dreadful menu of "one from Column A (again!) or one of four from Column C," or even the various a la cart improbables, the choice you make about 'em.

Tam, this morning, "It's to the point where you want Romney to win just so Teh Won doesn't -- but not quite enough to vote for him."

Me, I'd be happy if we never had another second-term President in my lifetime. They get up to too much mischief.

Good Food

And I didn't have to cook it! Last night, Tam and I went to Pei Wei Asian Diner, a fairly recent addition at Glendale shopping center. It's a chain restaurant, but don't hold that against them.

The food was plentiful, nicely presented and tasty. Tam ordered their Pei Wei chicken and I had sesame beef. We'd started with appetizers, hot & sour soup for Tam and a couple of very good pork egg rolls, which we split. When the food arrived, big oval bowls piled high, we realized we were outmatched: it was enough for four!

Tam's chicken was accompanied by carrots and pea pods, the beef had onion and red bell pepper, nicely prepared with the appropriate sauces, spicy for mine and sweet and sour for hers. She went with white rice -- traditional "sticky" rice; I had the brown rice, which was more of a challenge to eat with chopsticks. But the sauce was thick enough to compensate. (And yes, they do provide knives, forks and spoons if you prefer.)

Interior decor is, well, "Asian diner," verging on "space-age Japan," appropriate without being pretentious. The drinks machines were pure outer space, touchscreen controlled, with drilldown menues (selecting "Dr Pepper" calls up a submenu of plain, cherry and cherry-vanilla, for instance) and a freeform front panel.

The place was clean and comfortable. The food was good. They have beer. We will be back. It's got tables enough for a blogmeet; there was a party of 8 or 10 near our booth last night.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

National Brotherhood Week!

Yeah, why not? Hooded sweatshirts have been politicized, tennis shoes/trainers were long, long ago and a whole generation of Americans took denim dungarees as their flag.

There is no damn thing you can be, do or wear that some other of your fellow nekkid apes won't take as an affront. --And it just gets worse from there.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012


In order to be a Good Samaritan, somebody's got to already be layin' in the ditch beat half to death when you happen by.

The Samaritan had better sense than to go following potential or possible beaters. Guys who do that are more akin to the folks in Matthew 6:5, prayin' on streetcorners, hopin' their Good Acts will be noticed.

Gibberish! Or, Roberta X Rants In Traffic

A bunch of dinosaur farmers, bulldoggers and recent claimers of hagship, with their hagseed yammering in the rear seat like performing polar bears on acid, vehicles inert as flies in frozen snot -- makes me feel like I've got a free lunch about to come up and for two pins, I'd lean over and heave it right through the nearest open car window! By jimbo, your distantest ancestors did not bother to invent the wheel so that you -- and you, too over there, Doctor Witling (somewhere Sherlock, having drained the tantalus and shot his needle's bolt, is trying to beat his brains out with a good briar pipe) -- could sit gawking at a green light until they went square! Wheels are to rrrrrroll. See the light? It's green! Grrrrrrreeeen!

I switched to the motorscooter to go fetch my prescription. At least on it, I already expect every driver to be an idiot. If I didn't have to carry a company laptop and a fancy digital-vid decoder tomorrow, I'd ride it to work. Why do the greater worries of a tiny two-wheeler add up to less stress?

The Victim Industry

Trayvon Martin's mother has trademarked the two most-used catchphrases that use her son's name.

Really don't know quite how to take that. It reminds me of a traffic-signal control box I pass on my way to work, which until recently had featured a tagger's symbol and a naughty word: They've been carefully painted out and "STAY CLASSY" has been scrawled across the thing in a contrasting hue.

Yeah, if only anyone bothered.

Fire Frank Straub: Update

It appears the City-County Council is considering climbing aboard the Fire Frank Straub bandwagon; he was initially approved by a 16-13 vote and he's up for reappointment with dim prospects of receiving a majority of approval votes.

It may not matter; our Mayor appoints the Public Safety Director and it is unclear what a disapproval vote from the Council even means -- and, loyal as a faithful dog, Mayor Ballard is reappointing Dr. Straub.

Let's see, the Public Safety department is $15 million in the hole, administrative salaries have more the doubled* and the number of actual policemen out there, you know, policing, has declined. Yeah, you're doing a heck of a job, Brownie! Er, Frank.
* Hey, did I tell you we got a 3% raise in my department? And darned happy to get it, too. Our first increase of any kind since 2007. Guess if I wanted to keep up with inflation, I should've gone to work for the government -- as an administrator.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Too Much Drama

I watch the news and look at the ijits all around me and I think, "Life is too short for this nonsense." And it is. It's all a bunch of noise and we have to go to sleep with it and wake up with it and fall to our knees and thank Fate or Heaven that we can go to a job with it, every damn day until we're too old to do it any more, at which point there's no distraction from the din at all.

And for the life of me, I don't know why.

Some Thoughts On the Martin/Zimmerman Mess

I tried to keep my fool mouth shut -- what do I know that those closer to the scene do not?

Anyone who tells you the outcome was anything but tragic is a fool or a villain.

Cries for lex talionis turn out, on closer inspection, to be calls for lex populii. Not a good idea and never has been; and yet the irony passes uncommented.

I find accusations of racism in Zimmerman's suspicion of Martin a bit overblown -- in my experience, the usual self-selected Neighborhood Watchman is suspicious of any unknown teenage male. And only slightly less so of everyone else.

On the other hand, had Zimmerman been black and Martin white, Zimmerman would probably be in jail right now. ...And if they'd both been African-American, would this have even made the news?

It is entirely normal, in a conflict between an adult and a teenager, to hold the adult to a higher standard -- and that is happening. In jail or out of it (there's a price on his head; where's he gonna run?), he'll be facing at least one grand jury and it will happen if there are marches and protests or not.

As for what happened, there's only one man who knows for sure; me, I am leaning towards "mutual and escalating panic." You know, at one time in most of the U.S., a busybody adult could ask a child or teen wandering by, "Do you live around here?" and the situation wasn't fraught with tension. We'd be better off looking for a way to bring that back, instead of letting loud voices mob everyone up into mutually-suspicious demographic subdivisions of our common humanity.

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Kindle Gadget

With the rise of inexpensive, lightweight flat-panel TVs and monitors (and an amazing array of mounting systems for them), I joked to my co-workers that the ultimate TV-watching-in-bed setup would be "a monitor on a microphone boom."

Good articulating boom arms (probably perfected by Luxo -- thanks, Kirk A! -- made by many, but exemplified by O. C. White) can be costly (compared to the price of a small monitor), but the high-end ones are designed to carry very heavy, expensive mics. Lightweight booms are more affordable (like these); my "aha!" moment came when Markertek popped up with a good sale price on the Rode version, after I'd bought my Kindle Fire...and dropped it on my face, watching TV in bed. They're heavy enough to hurt when the edge hits the bridge of your nose.

Once you've got the boom arm, the job is not done; you need a mounting for the monitor/Kindle/eReader/iThing and it needs one more degree of freedom, since the mic boom counts on the microphone clip to be able to tilt.

Enter The Gadget (Mk. II), made of scrap wood and items from the "junkbox:" (Mk. III will involve relocating the grooves for the rubber bands, er, "elastic retaining devices" to better match actual dimensions.)

On the back, the pivot and a mic-thread-to-base adapter: And a close look at the pivot, four brass angle brackets, a 10-32 bolt and a couple of knurled nuts:The assembly can be tilted on two axes and spins, making it easy to find a comfortable viewing position.

(Only drawback to the Rode version is the mic mount is natively 3/8" BSW, with an adapter; the coarse Whitworth threads are more difficult to lock with the supplied jam nut than U.S.-standard 5/8"-27 would be. You can just barely see the threads above the big chrome jam nut.)

I'm very happy with it. Given the Kindle Fire screen size, I can even watch (or read) without glasses!

You could also use a "gooseneck," the flexible mic-thread widget, plus flange-mount adapters at each end like the one I used between the pivot and the boom. Use at your own risk: it's less expensive but also less flexible -- an articulated-arm boom offers little resistance if you bump it with your head and is a lot easier to adjust to the right spot.

As ever, if you buy any of this from Amazon, please use the link at Tam's: she's saving up for a full tank of gas!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Two Moral Ambiguities Blindnesses

Just in time for Wernher von Braun's centenary, meet Stewart Nozette, the brilliant scientist who worked out how to check for ice on the Moon's South Pole and came up with a [redacted] number of super-clever ideas for [redacted] projects for [redacted] agencies -- oh, and who tried to sell out the secret stuff he knew for big, big bucks and got caught by the Feds. He described it as "a career move." He's headed off for 13 years in the hoosegow.

He's almost the amoral flip side of von Braun, who was going to get to the Moon -- and beyond -- and didn't (at least early on) much care what he had to do or who he had to use up to get there. (He was a very personable man -- I met him, when I was very young and he wasn't -- but his legacy is mixed.)

It's painful to realize the smaller-minded of the two men managed to do the lesser damage; but I don't think it was from caring more about the possibility.

After Action Report (Lessons Learned)

Off to Eagle Creek Park Pistol Range, open again for the season! (There was some question earlier this year if 'twould open on time -- there were fiddlin' details to be worked out.* Which have been.)

The place was jumping -- near full when I arrived. By the time I left, they'd opened the West bay and had it half occupied.

Tam and Shootin' Buddy were already there, with any number of nice toys; aside from the usual .22 trainers and carry-type sidearms, SB had a Colt revolver in .22 WRF, over a hundred years old! Shot like brand-new.

I had my Ruger Mk. II, a High-Standard 9-shooter revolver and the Star DK and Colt .32-20 seen earlier.

The High-Standard is a 6"-barrel R-101 "Sentinel" made in 1956 or '57 and is, in many ways, a revolver twin to the Ruger Mk. II: easy to shoot, reliable, fun and plenty accurate. They show up at shows around here reasonably often and (IMO) it's a gun worth owning. The center of this target has been well-chewed by both: The string of larger holes, climbing up from the bottom of the paper? Me, getting used to the Star DK. (My shots were, at least and in one case barely, on the paper) The tiny .380 proved to be amazingly docile; I had suspected it might be both jumpy and hammer-bitey. It isn't. Felt recoil is mild. I'd rather pocket carry a DAO but the DK is a gem. Control placement and function is just like a 1911 -- or any of Star's other SA semi-autos. (And On Secomd Thought -- an IWB holster carrying one of these, or the little Colt Mustang and Pony models of about the same size, would not be out of the question.)

The .32-20 Colt was a different kind of surprise. It's got problems. A dozen rounds in, with SB running it for a cylinder-ful, the cylinder (and cylinder latch) started sticking. Possibly merely accumulated gunk, but it's on the sidelines until I can look at it -- and if it takes anything more than careful opening up and cleaning, it'll probably go off to the 'smith, as the sproing factor is very high with DA revolvers.

All in all, a good day at the range. I can still shoot -- I won't win any prizes but I can put 'em where they need put.

To top the day off, SB took Tam and yr. crspndt. to lunch! Rick's Cafe Boatyard,†with a nice dam view, snug between Eagle Creek Reservoir with its various small craft and Eagle Creek Airport with an equally-varied assortment -- a two-seater Yak (18? Or possibly a 52?) was doing touch & goes while we ate. Food was fast, hot and tasty, too.
* I know what I heard, but all I heard were rumors. Nothing too surprising or odd, all unverified, so I shan't repeat it.

† Actually "RICK'S CΛFE BOΛTYΛRD," for no reason I can find. Do they realize how difficult that is to pronounce?

My Star And Colt

(I'll take "Corny Cowgirl Lines From A Will Rogers Movie" for $200, Alex.)

The tiny Star DK, shown here with full-size keys for scale: Other side:Modern .380 pocket pistols may be thinner side to side but top-to-bottom and front-to-back, this is a tiny firearm. About a 3.5-finger grip. How does it shoot? I'll be finding out.

Colt 32-20, 'cos I had been drooling over it since Tam showed it to me. Reblued but this one has a decent ratchet/extractor star:

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Refresco For Pauses

It's no secret my palate is quirky but I am at present enjoying a beverage I should've bought a case of: cucumber soda! (Caveat bibens! I know nothing about these business sites -- Thirstmonger looks to have the best price.)

Sounds goofy but it's light, sweet and refreshing, lacking the acid "bite" of most soft drinks. Goes right well with overpoweringly-spiced corn chips, that's for sure. Despite not being much of a drinker, I wonder how it would do with some V-8 (spicy-hot for the venturesome), a splash of vodka and a celery-stalk garnish?

Pondering some firearms photography -- stay tuned!


Stop inviting me there. I'd like to preserve a degree of compartmentalization.


Awake, in pain, cooking. Y'know what amuses Tam? Going into my room, handily within earshot of VFTP C3I and the Roberta X Difference Engine, and tuning in the WAY-LEFT-OF-MSNBC documentary channel. Ew. That stuff can't be doing the TV -- or my headache -- any good.

(Later, while eating, Tam reminds me that Current TV is a rich source of snarking material and besides, you've got to keep an eye on the Creepier Statists. Point.)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Wow, Or, Please Stay Off My Side

...I've just been accused of "...try[ing] hard to curry favor with [my] 'crew' who appear to hang on your every word...." (Or "...[my] every word," whaddevvah.)

Is this the case? Lookit, if any of you are hanging onto my every word, you skedaddle, right now! Go read a book, Alongside Night or L. Neil Smith or whatever suits your fancy. Watch a film. Something.

As for the guy who made the accusation, you git, too. (I bet you feel way important now. Yeah, you win: you ticked me off. It's a lot easier than you might have thought.)

I am not some flippin' prophetess or philosopher. This blog is a hobby; I started out writing it for myself and the flitting Googlebots and that remains my prime audience. There are bloggers more erudite, more comprehensive, more eloquent and there's a very long list of them more central to the general notion of an-cap libertarianism or the right to self-defense. Some few will be found in the sidebar here.

My opinion is just as good as anyone else's, but not any better; this blog happens to be my substitute for a big signboard in the front yard with my words on it -- but there are plenty of other yards and other signboards, all of them little more than words written on sand or shouted into the wind.

Don't try to chin yourself on them, please.

The City: Crime

Over at VFTP, Tam's got the latest on the Central Canal shootings (the alleged shooter, now in custody, is both underage and suspected to be a gang member, who'd've thought it?).

That leaves the me with lesser lights of crime, desperate, hardened dacoits like The Vacuum Bandit.

You, in back -- stop snickering. We're talking about a guy who calmly enters big box stores, loads up a high-end vac, and wheels it directly out to his car, cool as ice. He's hit store after store and supposedly sold the ill-gotten suckers on an auction site -- and no one knows where his nefarious plans might've led from there.

But you can relax for now: he was arrested yesterday. Rejoice! The city's vacuums are safe.

12 Hours Later

It's amazing what a good sleep will do -- I'm not exhausted, anyway, and I haven't had dizziness so far. (Let us not touch upon the headache or ear-ringing.)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Doc-O-Matic 2012 Report

Wow, it was like I knew the symptoms already or something: dx sinus infection, rx Amoxicillin twice a day for ten days.

Back home now and back in bed, after a short nap on the couch to prepare for the tricky assault on the East face of my bedroom.

(Just for Able, with great affection:

Entering the examining room pale as Death, stark naked and glistening with what I supposed to be animal fat, her iron-gray hair in direly snake-like dreadlocks and with a chicken bone through her nose, my fiftyish physician shrieked nonsense syllables, then ceremoniously twisted up and burned the nurse's intake report on a small brass altar inset in the side wall. She licked the still-hot ashes from the brazier, took up some of the resulting paste on her fingertips and traced lines down her face. She then turned to face me, shaking a curious bundle I recognized as a stethoscope, wound and braided with dark ivy in full leaf. Leaping straight up into the air, she hawked and spat a nasty gray blob of ash, sputum and mucus right at my feet before murmuring, "Probably sinus. Amoxicillin, well-tolerated, usually effective, if you're not better in five days, come back."

With that, she turned off the lights and left the room, never to be seen again. Awed, whispering nurses edged in a few minutes later and led me to the outer sanctum, where, with many a grandiloquent flourish, I was presented with a prescription and a bill.

--That's how we've always done it here, of course, but rarely so well.)

No, New York, No

Following a link at Unk's, I learned the Hoosier Marine who'd tried to have his firearm properly stowed so he could visit the Empire State Building and got arrested for his trouble, has plead out to a misdemeanor. (or "pled," which spellcheck Does. Not. Like.)

NYC's legal lights have, I think, realized the only way they're going to have a chance of keeping their archaic, repressive gun laws (in violation of Federal laws!) is to keep them from doing much harm to citizens of more-advanced states. This Marine, under close inspection, was not the ideal guy to fight for freedom over the matter, so he and his attorney likely made the right call.

But that's not what caught my eye. No, it was an example of how deep the rot goes: the Post article twice refers to his "Indiana-registered gun."

Gentlemen, ladies, New York reporters from every paper: that's not how we do it here. Indiana is a free state. Gun registration is not only not required, it's unconstitutional. The state of Indiana does "register" persons who have had a background check to clear them to carry a loaded handgun, open or concealed; we call it a License To Carry Handgun. It's not needed to carry one cased and unloaded. We do not register guns, nohow, no way. Try to restrain your fear -- wanna compare gun-death rates?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Also, Dammit

I am comin' down with something: dizzies off and on, exhausted, constant tinnitis, short-tempered, all my torn-up joints (knees, back) ache -- I've probably won the Inner Ear Infection Sweepstakes! Hooray!

In the old days, when I had a GP I knew, I'd just go in, he'd look me over and, if my guess was correct, I'd walk out with a 'scrip for Sure-Cure Mega-Antibiotic, 'cos he trusted me to take the whole course, and not breed stronger bugs by stopping as soon as I felt better. These days, if it gets bad enough, I'll trundle off to doc-in-a-box, where I'd better be on Death's sidewalk (or at least in front of the house next door to Death's) before they'll do anything at all, and it'll be some crummy almost-as-good.

Why is it the world gets crappier at the same time as my patience with it becomes steadily less?


Argh. Not all of you, but geesh. Some examples make me feel like a carp in a velocipede manufactury. "Nup, not that one, or that one, or...." What do you do with a drunken sailor, let alone the pennyfarthing he rode in on?

The Long Now Clocks In

Okay, here's the plot: a zillionaire businessman is setting up his own space program; he's also funding construction of an enormous all-mechanical clock, hidden inside a mountain, automatically set by sighting the noon sun, wound by the difference in temperature between daytime highs and nighttime lows, ticking once every ten seconds, tolling once every thousand years and designed to last ten thousand years--

Implausible? Too bad. It's not a book or a film; it's real. --You probably bought something from him this week: Jeff Bezos, of and Blue Origin, is also deeply involved in the Long Now Foundation's clock project.

And it is stunning. At the very least, he'll leave something to freak out the next civilization.

Earlier today, I wrote about my general suspicion and dislike of "Great Leaders." Flip side, I do think one man can change things for everyone, if he's standing in the right place, using the right lever -- and gets enough folks pitching in. Not all such movers are politicians and not all of the change wrought is for the worse. Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse? Scoot over.

Um, That Was The Point

A reader has taken me to task for riffing without attribution on Claire Wolfe's "America is at that awkward stage..." in which she suggests it's too late to vote and too early to "shoot the bastards."

It's famous. It's not some obscure quote from a Christopher Marlowe play. The thing points to itself.

I seem to recall Claire herself expressing misgivings at the way some readers had taken it, behaving as if they were waiting for her to give 'em word to go--

--Which was not, AFAIK, her point. Look, if ever there's a nice time to "shoot the bastards," it'll be obvious; but there is, in fact, a long frog-boiling time between, "things are a bit awry" and "OMG OMG!" And that's where we are, by Claire's quote or my smart-alec rephrasing thereof.

As for me, I strongly suspect that the number of occasions upon which the political situation could be improved by "shooting the bastards" are few and far between, especially compared to ones in which such actions make matters enormously worse -- WW I, anyone?

I don't have much faith in "Great Leaders" of any stripe; I view an FDR or a Churchill with only slightly less suspicion than I do a Hitler or a Stalin -- I do, however, have a bit more faith in the independent-minded yeomanry behind the first two and the orderly transfer of power that replaced those leaders in turn.

On the liberty-minded side of things, if you've got some Leader, Great or small, to revere and follow, perhaps you'd better rethink. If you want revolution, revolt yourself first.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Goat? Check. Rope? Check.

I have not commented on the Treyvon Martin/George Zimmerman shooting; the rest of the blogosphere and the lamestream media seem to have every angle covered and (despite what you may see in the LSM and from the Left -- but I repeat myself) the situation is crunching its way through the gears of the legal system while folks opine and fume. There will be a resolution. I suspect nobody will like it much.

But geez, how little things change at the heart of it -- there's an act of violence and the victim and the perp are of different "racial" or ethnic backgrounds, and we end up with lynch mobs and death threats. About the only improvement is, these days the po-lice are not too minded to step aside and let 'em string the accused up.

--I admit, that's a pretty good improvement, but it leaves the howling mob just as ready to mob up and howl as it ever was. The next time some Dem 'splains how their side is the smart, calm, rational side and the Right (and crazed, gun-totin' anarchocapitalists like me) are hot-blooded ijits ruled by emotion, laugh right in his or her face. --Because nobody is all that calm or rational and most days, I'm none too sure about "smart," either.

Look around at your fellow not-very-hairy primates. See 'em? Ghandi, Mother Theresa, Jefferson, Marx, Dali, all your co-workers, the guys who pick up the trash, your family doc, picture 'em? Push the right wrong buttons and they will rip you limb from limb -- and smile and count themselves doing $DEITY's work, too. Just like their ancestors would've in 10,000 B.C. (except back then, you might've ended up on the dinner menu, cos, hey, meat).

That's the world you live in. It ain't gonna change. It's wired right into their genes -- yours and mine, too.

I, For One, Welcome Our New Linguistical Overlords

A meme parsed.

It would only confuse matters to reveal I got there by way of Yakov Smirnov, painter. Yeah, he's the "Russian Reversal" guy, too. How 'bout that?

Also, the story about how the story about "Eskimos* have e-to-the-x words for snow" being incorrect is itself wrong. What kinda frikkin' complicated world is this, anyhow, and who would want to Overlord it if they knew all the details? This is why we haven't heard from the aliens; they can't even figure out where to begin.
* "Esquimeaux?" Howard Philips Lovecraft, this is your doing.

From The Early 1960s, By Way Of Film Noir?

It's Miss Lana Del Rey. Sure, it's contrived, schtick; but you've gotta admit, she goes at it wholeheartedly:

Blue Jeans may be even more typical of her oeuvre.

Monday, March 19, 2012

"Seen On eBay" Or "Great Name For A Band?"

Both, actually: Gopher Death. (Dead gopher not included. Less dealer prep and destination charges. Not a toy. Do not open can. Keep out of children. Do not taunt Gopher Death.)

Need more be said?

A Better Morning

...Despite a mild backache, I'm feeling better. There's nothing like 12+ hours of sleep when you're under the weather! My thanks to everyone who left good wishes yesterday.

Interesting items:

Those non-PC "morale patches" that show up at gun shows and (sometimes) on soldiers? Mil-spec Monkey makes a lot of 'em. Er, some are mildly NSFW. (FWIW, on the sales site, they appear to have the USSF-era patches for starships Lupine and Vulpine. And you thought the Hidden Frontier was fiction?)

I knew the Krasne family business was a source for hard-to-find magazines but I had no idea they sold gun-type leather, including some really nice carrying and saddle bags. Pricing seems decent, especially since from the photos, the stitching patterns look right and the hardware appears sturdy. (My two complaints about most leather items -- it's a little more work to sew straps and handle attachments properly but it makes a huge difference in durability.)

On Saturday, we saw (but I failed to photograph) what should be Tam's fave cartridge: the .25 Bacon & Bliss. Mmmmm, bacon. Blissful, indeed. It was in a nice, old-school collection of small-arms cartridges, which would've made a fine home-decor item.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

No BlogMeet For Me

Got home, wrote about bad happenings in The City, felt terrible and suffered entirely unwarranted gastrointestinal distress, followed by exhaustion and chills.

Decided that not sharing was genuine caring -- also, I could not keep my eyes open. Still can't, really, so it's back to the bunkhouse for me.

Hoping for a Complete Report from Tam. Or perhaps Brigid!
Update: Hours and much sleep later, I still feel like something found mashed on the road. Ugh.

So Basic, Even (Fire) Frank Straub Gets It

I felt a little sorry for the man, live on Teh Tube Sunday ayem. See, there was a multiple shooting last night: Along the Central Canal downtown, about 10:00 p.m., five teenagers were wounded by six shots fired by (allegedly) another teen, who jumped out of a car.

All are expected to recover, despite the rounds having a caliber starting with "4," they having had the luck to get shot across from a firehouse and while IMPD was making St. Paddy's Day rounds not too far away. And the police are saying the shooter is "someone connected to the victims," sur-prise.

Anyway, Fire Frank Straub was there on TV, lookin' distinctly uncomfortable, trying to explain how come Such Things Can Happen. Even he started with the basic problem: unsupervised teens wandering around the park-ish canal unsupervised, late at night, and other kids who think it is okay-fine to pop a cap into 'em. It's not impossible to do a drive-up shooting on a high-schooler home and snug abed, but it takes a helluva lot more effort. Kids/young adults rammycacking around at loose ends is already trouble looking for an outlet -- and you are probably not gonna stop it with a harsh curfew or (as a commenter at the news site suggested) deploying the National Guard (!).

Natcherly, he had to add, "If you're an adult and you want to have a gun at home, you have an obligation to secure it."

A moral obligation, I'd think, but let's be realistic: little Jimmy knows how to get into the liquor cabinet, he knows where the spare car keys are and if he wants to take your Benelli or Lorcin, he's gonna, come hell, high water or fireproof steel. You'd better start well back from there, at basics like "why we don't go shoot people at whom we are peeved," and "stay the hell outta other people's things, especially when they are your parents'." (Also, who thinks grabbing the home handgun is the only way young choirboys lay hold of guns? 'Cos it so very isn't.)

I don't know if that lack of parenting is lost on Fire Frank or not; he'd moved on to explaining his department's shrinking but still staggeringly-large budget and how we were not going to see as large a shortfall in basic cop-type cops as one might think, which made for even more squirming-under-bright-lights action.

Yes, I almost felt sorry for him. Rumor has it the poor guy's already had to endure the awkwardness of a major office redecoration -- which we are not to price in, say, laid-off officers. Oh, shucky-darn no.

Meantime, at the Indy 1500 yesterday (yes, that hotbed of G-U-N-S), I saw a pretty wide demographic cross-section of teen-agers, mostly with adult supervision. I suspect most of them had spent enough time on their feet, in heavy crowds, that by ten o'clock, they were out like lights. And nobody got shot at all. Hunh.

And I've got to wonder how the inner-city Scout troops are doing these days.

Fun Show!

Yesterday, the Data Viking showed up bright and early, and shepherded Tam and me off to the Indy 1500!

It was big and plenty crowded. We saw sereval old friends and a lot of interesting firearms (I'm starting to long for a Colt .22 revolver and saw a couple at affordable prices).

My heart was won, however, by a LNIB Star DK, a palm-sized .380.
(Not mine -- I'll post a photo later)

As nearly as I can tell, it has never been fired. This model has been something of a missing link in my Star collection, and nearly as scarce as the yeti. The price was right and the nice man even took a check. It helps to be a frequent flyer: "We see you at every show." Yup, and finds like that are why.

Speaking of finds, Tam found a-- But that's her story to tell.

Remember, BLOGMEET, 3:00 p.m. today at Broad Ripple Brew Pub!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

America: Beyond "Awkward"

The United States is past the awkward stage; it's too late to improve matters by shooting the bastards and voting is how we got there.

Fink Thast!

So, yesterday morning, fasting...

I was up, and chipper; I'd enjoyed a nice cuppa old-fashioned Red Chinese "white tea" (warm water) and was making ready for the shower (a/k/a "how can I be outta washcloths?")when Tam stepped into my room to comment on something stupid she'd heard the TV say; I turned to reply and all of a sudden, the floor dropped three feet straight down!

Except it didn't; it only felt that way, which I realized from the lack of sound effects and Tam "catlike reflexes" K's total non-reaction. I said something like "oh, no!" as my knees gave way and I sat down on the bed like a dropped marionette. The room started lurching this way and that, worse when I tried to sit up, and I started laughing.

'Cos crying would not have helped; my inner ear(?) had come unmoored from gravity. Turning my head, leaning, any rapid motion resulted in a frantic reach for the nearest grabbable large object -- walls, doorframes, the floor. I did my best to ride it out and in about 20 minutes, I could move if I wasn't too quick about it. Managed to shower by bracing myself in a corner. Things stayed kind of drifty 'til noon, fading off into what Og described yesterday as "the inevitable headache."

Hard to blame that on fasting (and my blood work, along about 1:15, was quite good on the tiny tabletop analyzer, fasting gluclose just where it should be, cholesterol not bad (my "good" cholesterol runs high-ish). Even my blood pressure was decent, which is quite an accomplishment considering my fairly dire "white coat syndrome" (my blood pressure is good at home, on multiple whachasphygopsychytacometers, and borderline hypertensive in nearly any clinical setting.

It was a nice day, too; until I lost a half-hour or more to my sense of balance being out of whack, I was seriously considering commuting on my motor scooter. With gas prices what they are, there's a whole lot more scootering and bicycling in my plans for this spring and summer.

--At least, there is if I can maintain a sense of which way is up!

Friday, March 16, 2012


Sunday! (Sunday, Sunday), 3:00 p.m. at the Broad Ripple Brew Pub!

...I was hoping to scout a different location but never had time. I'll be working from oh-dark-thirty 'til brunch that day, and likely reduced to monosyllabic grunts and grabbing at food by afternoon.

This & That

- Half-awake this morning, the TV announced, "The Indiana Pacers basketball team has picked up a new player at the very last minute..." and my first thought was, They've signed Payton Manning? (Tam, later: "I'll bet that sounded funnier inside your head." Fine. Fiiiine.)

- So, in our modern, post-privacy age (a/k/a New Paternalism), I've gotta take a little physical at work today -- height, weight, pulse rate, blood pressure and oxygenation and some basic blood work (cho-les-ter-ol, blood sugar, et cetera. And maybe you don't want that nice poppyseed bagel, either?). Which means I'm fasting until that 1 p.m. appointment. Mmmmm, baby, enjoying a nice cup of "white tea;" or as you may know it, warm water. Delightful. No Vitamin I on an empty stomach, either -- just risked a couple aspirin and a sugar-free antacid.

- Fringe Benefits Dep't: On the subject of ADA compliance, let me just say, as a somewhat clumsy person, that I like curb cuts -- and they mean that every block, there are three squares of actual decent sidewalk, instead of tilted, battered slabs. (OTOH, around Roseholme Cottage, many of the curved curbs at the corners are large lengths of what appears to be cut stone! I'd miss them.) In Indianapolis, you've got to add, "...where there are sidewalks." Outside of Downtown, they're kind of optional.

- On the subject of sidewalks -- wot izzit with yuppies and hipsters not using them when they're available? I keep seeing the silly ghits ambling down even busy roads, innocent of the heavy, hurtling machines passing within inches. Evolution in action?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Signs Of The Decline, Part Whatever

Heard On The News: "And don't be surprised if the pool is closed at the hotel you go to for Spring Break: today is the deadline for Federally-required pool lifts for the disabled!"

...In other words, if the crippled aren't happy, ain't no one gonna be happy. It appears that Uncle Sam is concerned persons of limited mobility might be missing out on participation in swim meets -- and no, I am not making that up.*

While there is no question that swimming, or even exercise in the water, can be of immense benefit (it was, for example, part of my Mom's physical therapy after some heart problems), I have my doubts that this Federal mandate on the leisure industry, already hard-hit by four years of recession, could hold up to any rational cost-benefit analysis. This isn't a ramp or lift to get access to the courthouse, public library or even the city pool, it's a flat mandate on "public accomodations and commercial facilities."

'Cos, you know, the bastids been burnin' wheelchairs in effigy and standing at the pool gate with an ax-handle, right? [...crickets...]

Or could it be the money wasn't there? It still isn't; some of those pools (already a high-maintenance, high-risk amenity) will stay closed. As for the rest, you'll be paying more for your room and all that goes with it, even if you never dip a toe in or need a lift yourself; and if you decide to stay at Poolless Arms across the street 'cos their rooms are cheaper, and all your cash-strapped buddies do, too?

Why, then we get an outcome that may surprise the Feds: Complaint Hotel, Inc goes under for want of guests and nobody at all will be swimming. Remember kids, the 99% swim in polluted rivers and stagnant quarries, or not at all. Why do you think you're all better than them?

Claire, I think your clock's broke.
* Would it have been too much damn work to start up a charity website where, if we were so minded, we could throw bucks into a fund to cover the cost of installin' this hardware at a series of hotels, motels and commercial-type pools to be determined by, I dunno, maybe a poll among disabled persons who would like to spend some quality time in the water? Did it really require the Federal bludgeon to accomplish this?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Busman's Holiday

Reading a 1922 article about RCA's "Radio Central" setup for global communications online, I encountered the following:
Diversion of a Radio Engineer.--In nearly all lines of business, when business hours are over, the individual seeks something totally different as a means of relaxation. While wandering around the radio station at Rocky Point, the author noticed a small aerial running from the Community House, where the engineers are quartered, to a small mast, some 150 feet away. On inquiring what this was, he was told that after watches, the engineers listen in on their own radio apparatus to the broadcasting stations and other types of radio traffic. One would think that after many hours spent on duty in the most powerful radio station of the world, the engineers would be glad to forget, at least for the time being, that such a business as radio existed.
At the receiving station at Riverhead, they go to an even greater extreme. About 200 yards from the receiving house, Mr. Tyrell and his associates have installed a complete amateur continuous wave station. All spare moments of the various operators of the receiving station are spent at their own amateur apparatus.

Some things never change. Did steam engineers build little tabletop engines in their free time, I wonder, or is this monomania a quirk of the RF trade? --If not, remind me never to live next door to a demolitions engineer!

(This will be crossposted at Retrotechnologist.)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

It's A Very Fine Stationary Steam Engine

Some of my earliest jobs were at radio stations. The broadcast kind, that is. They were, even then, quite impressive; even little "coffeepot" daytime-only AM stations and 3 kW FMs in small towns had impressive-seeming studios, transmitters bigger than the biggest deluxe refrigerator (mostly empty inside!) and tall towers in large, empty fields.

It was a substantial investment in plant and infrastructure. Licenses changed hands at staggeringly high prices, each one a semi-monopoly.

--Licenses aside, it was even that way for "underground" radio: Indianapolis's own Radio Free Naptown, one of the longest-lasting radio pirates in the U.S., had extensive studios and a relatively sophisticated transmitter, despite operating a few big steps outside the law. They were well before my time, but still (in)famous when I got into the biz.

Fast-forward 40 years: I've been getting e-mail that RFN will be returning to the "air"... via internet.

It's legal. There's no worry the FCC will bust down the door, handcuffs and warrants in hand. It doesn't even require much in the way of equipment; the people running it may be traditionalists, with a room (or three) of analog equipment, but all it really takes to be a real radio station, available to millions and sounding as professional as any, is a computer or two, a decent 'net connection, and a microphone. You could do it from your desk, without any fuss, muss or bother, let alone much of anything to identify it as a "radio studio."

Right now -- and assuming you didn't download a podcast or a bunch of music to your Personal Device -- old-fashioned over-the-air radio is still the main way to reach you on the move; but satellite radio (SiriusXM) gets around that and increasingly, your telephone is a WiFi hotspot: how long do you think it will be before your car radio notices? (It already happened to tuners and receivers.)

The old, impressive, hardware/plant-heavy radio as I knew it, as you know it, it's really already dead. Those towers, in many places now using up valuable suburban real-estate, are only so many dinosaurs and the only reason for the deejays and talk-show hosts to show up at the building is so the Program Director can make sure they're not too intoxicated to do their jobs. It stumbles on, but it's ending; they're in the content business, not the sending-out-high-power-RF business and they're starting to realize it.

...And in the wings? The only thing in commercial RF with bigger towers and larger content-creating facilities than radio would be television. It takes some screamin'-costly hardware to pump a full 720p/1080i high-definion, 5.1-channel sound video of a wrecked school bus into your TV -- and that's all before the Cable Company or Satellite TV Provider lays hold of it.

It's already short-circuited; there are more channels feeding directly into the pay provider than transmitting in clear over the air, ten times as many in most places. The Big Four (4.5?) TV networks send you dozens of streams, only one of which is mediated by Your Local Stations. And sitting right next to my TV is a little purple box the size of a powder compact that isn't looking at a geosync bird or wired up to pay-by-month co-ax: it streams HD vid right off the 'net, in (almost!) real time. As the phone companies have got into the delivering-TV biz and cable companies into the delivering-data biz, it's all starting to merge.

Right now, the servers, editors, format reformatters and ingest hardware it takes to generate and massage TV content still take up way more than one PC; but it is shrinking all the time. "Smart" effects mean the the fancy news-studio settings you see are more and more generated inside a computer, with a bunch of special-blue or special-green painted walls and boxes standing in so Joe Anchorguy doesn't put his hand through a "wall" and the software has surfaces to map onto. Sooner or later, you'll be able to stream high-quality, professional-looking TV from your desk -- and when there's fat, fast wireless access everywhere, that live report from London or Karachi doesn't take any more hardware than a tablet and a high-zoot camera, either.

...Leaving those big buildings and tall towers no more than the boiler-houses, engine rooms and smokestacks of an outmoded technology. In a generation, they'll be eyesores; in another, they'll be quaint. Maybe they'll even restore one or two, and fire it up once a year for nostalgia's sake. (Also.)

For now, Local Super Live-Action News had better look lively; there's something meaner and leaner in the egg, and when it hatches, there's no tellin' what all it's gonna consume.

Miserable Morning

Woke up with a world-class headache and full sinuses; woke up again, an hour later, ditto, and again an hour after that -- when the alarm went off, which is kind of like cayenne pepper under the eyelids, only in my ears.

Staggered around making some kind of breakfast -- not cold cereal, there was stuff in the fridge wanted using -- and coffee and hey, got through it despite.

The wastebasket lid had popped at the hinges (it does that -- time for a repair, halfway to replacement), but no problem.... Until, food cooked, plates loaded, coffee brewed, I went to throw away the coffee-grounds-filled filter. It hung up on the lid, slipped, dumped a good handful of wet grounds on the floor, and more when I moved the lid aside.

...And the remainder, unbeknownst to me, was all over the hip black wastebasket's hip black lid, deep sable and sepia, where it was contained until I moved it to get the giant wet glob of a coffee filter in the basket. Then the stuff, way more than the original amount, spilled all down the side of the fridge (in the door seal) and under it, too.

Naturally, by then I had cats (to whom coffee grounds smell and, as the long stream of Genuinely Bad Words I was uttering continued, Tam (who corralled the cats).

Did not need this.

Think I got it all and the food wasn't even cold. Why, I've even taken Vitamin I. Now, if only it has the desired effect.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Never Read Comments On The Internet. Never Read Comments On The....

Tam (quoting a commenter at CNN): "'...The French motto, "Liberté, égalité, fraternité" inspired the U. S. Founding Fathers...'"

RX: "The French! They're making time run backwards! They must be stopped!"

...Sigh. Were it only that easy.


Tam's posting about the latest mess in Afghanistan -- and it's been a long-lasting mess, just ask Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "Dr. Watson" -- got me to thinking.

It wasn't that long ago -- within living memory, if you lived somewhere where the food was reg'lar and the doctors weren't fictional -- that Afghanistan was well on the way to recovery from having been the chessboard of the Great Game, and looking like quite the modern nation. They were a-building their own future.

...Which is about when the Great Game, all done up in shiny-red Marxism, snuck back in. Revolution, turmoil and the Soviet Army followed. A generation of kids growing up like wild animals resulted and what was about the only semblance of order amid the chaos?

Religion -- and not the watered-down, once-a-week kind, either. Nope, it was hard and fast, harsh and pervasive; it handed out its own version of justice in that exact manner; if you were lucky, some local strongman was running whatever else there was to run and for a long, long time, that was all there was.

Result? A generation just as willing to be "democratized" as they'd care to be kicked off a cliff. Last time 'round when they clawed their way up from the wreckage of war, they had a King and a civil framework to build on. This time, they're starting over from scratch.

Don't be too surprised if it doesn't look like small-town Kansas. Don't be too surprised if occasionally the effect goes the other way and one of our own goes feral.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

It's The End! The End! Aaaargh!

Stansberry Associates has a new TEOTWAWKI vid out; they were pushin' it on the Ijit Tube this morning. I took a look.

Y'know how it's possible to be right in such a way that it looks like you're full of it? For instance, take a real figure, then say, "But if..." and outline a circumstance that's not gonna happen, like gummints suddenly having to pay the same kind of interest rate as you and me on previously-established debt, and then run with it as if it was the actual number? Yeah. Maybe not a real good way to go if the listener happens to be taking notes. They have a history of tellin' the truth a bit costumed; I'm assuming it's simply a bent for the dramatic.

But here's the thing: the sky really is falling. Uncle Sam's greenbacks are less and less obviously the Very Best Choice and their only saving grace so far is that everything else looks worse. The Euro is busy cuttin' itself off at the knees; Iceland's lookin' not Eurozonewards but West to the Loonie for their new monetary base. And the Fed, well, they have the Mint printing more U. $. Dollars just as quick as they can; more dollars chasing the same quantity of goods and services results in-- What is it called, class?

--It could be a whole lot worse than just your house payment turning into the cost of a case of booze; even if your pay chases within sounding distance of the rate of inflation (don't bank on it) and you own a very fine wheelbarrow, there could be worse in the wings. Right now, most international business is done in dollars. This helps keep our own homegrown currency as sound as -- gee, golly, as sound as the dollar. Everyone uses them; everyone has a vested interest in not lettin' 'em go lighter-than-hot-air and float away.

Alas, if way too many are out there, if the dear old $ gets inflated/devalued enough, no bank in the world will want to be left holding it when the music stops; no sheik or autocrat will price his $NATURAL RESOURCE in bucks if the value of 'em will evaporate before he can direct-dial Rolls-Royce or Bombardier.

There's still no serious contender for replacement; the next-most-traded currencies (Euro, Japanese Yen) aren't exactly in fighting form. But our old pals in Red China have been busy writing about the tottering dollar -- and wouldn't they just love to have banks of the world cherishing colorful Renminbi instead?

And what would that do to the price of all those colorful Chinese imports, from iPhones to Mall-Wart socks?

The punditry will no doubt advise sellin' short and buyin' gold. Me, I dunno; you can't eat it. Brass and lead and Parkerized or blued steel might be more-useful metals. And instead of stocks, we'd likely be better off with goats and chickens, with a garden and the distinctly non-1337 skills it takes to grow 'em up and turn 'em into food. Me, I'm thinking about getting the house re-insulated.

And we'll be wanting some expert advice before things fall apart. Me, I dunno from Wall Street -- I'm more interested in my street.


Tie-dyed, freak-range, er, free-range eggs, whupped up with a dash of Worcestershire, poured out into a peppered, greased skillet, sprinkled with a mixture of crunched-up corn chips and Rice Chex mixed with all manner of spices (little cayenne, little cajun, some sesame and garlic, whatever) and then two cheeses (Emmenthaler and Provolone Picante). Fold when it's time, sprinkle with chives and cook 'til done; serve with a generous smear of pesto and hot sauce to taste.



Gah. Blargh. I'm still mostly asleep and the sun is way over the yardarm.

Knew I'd run up a sleep debt last week but this is annoying -- and the move to daylight time makes it look even worse.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Disbelief, On A Meat Hook


I'd picked up a copy (ebook) of James Ellroy's American Tabloid based on a review and it has been pretty much as-promised, a sleazboid angle on events of the late 50s/early 60s, replete with Howard Hughes, J. Edgar Hoover, various Kennedys, Cuba, the Mob and bad cops of every sort. And the cast goes morally downhill from there, with a plot of wheels-in-wheels-in-dead bodies left in ditches....

But every so often, he gets something wrong -- a little wrong at first, room-bugging tech poorly described and obviously not understood, and then I flipped the page and a rogue FBI agent, off to shoot porn movies in Mexico with Jack Ruby (yes, the book is just that cat-litter gritty) snaps an (innocent, for once) picture with a Polaroid and the snapshot whirrs out--

No it didn't! BLAST YOU, ELLROY! You just stuck an SX-70 from 1972 into a guy's hands in 1959 -- and 13 years might look small from where you're sitting, but it's a huge leap from "set the iris, snap the shutter, pull the tab, wave the film around a little, pull out the fixing-compound sponge and coat the shot, then stick it to a pasteboard backing so it won't curl" to "just push a button and, hey-presto! out pops the snapshot," and that's the difference between a 1959 Polaroid Land Camera and an SX-70.

That dull thud? That was my disbelief, padded cuffs broken, dropping right onto the unpadded floor. Sheesh. It's not like five minutes of research could've told him when and how when it came to instant cameras? I'm almost afraid to finish the book. What's next, Bobby Kennedy with touch-tone phones in his office? (Dial, by the time he was Attorney General, FWIW, with something weird for the secure line(s); it's not like there aren't documentaries showing the office, phone bank, desk, stuffed tiger under a wall-hanger rifle and all.)

I need to write more. While "pulp hack" is kind of a high goal for me, at least I try to look stuff up; SF involves a lot of making things up but I work to riff from reality -- and avoid jarring anachronism.

Breakfast: Hot Scrambled...Salad?

Not quite, though I'm skating on the edge:
  • Bacon, fried and set aside to drain and ponder its inevitable fate
  • "Caribbean Style" rice with red beans, nuked and fried in the bacon fat with:
  • a Leek
  • Carrots, a couple
  • Celery, 3 stalks (half with the preceding ingredients, half later)
  • Hot pickled cherry peppers, 2, diced fine
  • Radishes, 2, one diced and the other halved, sliced thin, and set back for garnish
  • Get all the above cooked 'til the veggies are "bright," then push it to the sides of the wok and add some chopped cabbage (half a cup or a bit more; I used leftover coleslaw mix, with both green and purple cabbage) that has been very lightly sprinkled with good vinegar
  • Plus the remaining celery (less a taste!); saute lightly (the purple cabbage starts to fade) and add
  • One-quarter of a large, red sweet or bell pepper, diced. (Set another quarter back for garnish and save the remaining half for later) Stir it in and push to the sides of the wok. Eggs are next; if it looks like you'll need to add some fat or oil to keep them from sticking, do so.
  • Scramble two eggs in the center
  • When the eggs are done, turn the fire off and crumble the bacon in
  • Add a good cheese -- I shaved corners from the remainder of the Provolone Picante.
  • Mix well, garnish with radish and/or red pepper to taste, and enjoy!
Tam put Sriracha sauce on hers; I added a nice big dollop of pesto, instead. Either way, it's good! And good for you, too. --I suppose we could've had a V8, instead, but hey, it's the weekend.


Archer, the TV series. The recent, animated TV series. Yep, a cartoon; but you probably don't want the kids watching it until they're 21. Or 35. Maybe 42?

Tam got pointed at it and asked me last night to, "See if it's on that Rock On -- that Widgidoo? The purple thing next to the big TeeWee?"

"The Roku?"*


Of course it is, and popularly priced,* to boot. I bought the first episode just to check it out, and watching it, we laughed until our eyes watered. I bought the whole first season and we kept watching (each episode is an action-packed twenty minutes long), giggling, guffawing and sometimes having to backtrack to catch a missed line or punchline. ("Oh, we'll watch just one more." Five episodes later...!)

It's a spy spoof to end all spy spoofs. The weaponry is authentic ("Hey, that's a Deagle! Hey, who uses a Broomhandle Mauser for an assassination?" And so on) and even -- sometimes! -- runs out of bullets. The people are a bit larger-than-authentic, but the office dynamics will be only too familiar. Out of the office -- you've seen a Bond film or two, haven't you? Like that, only better. And animated. --Oh, and with Jeff Cooper's attitude towards the .25 ACP.

Archer. Even IMDB likes it. VFTP-recommended, TAORX-approved!

* Best of all, if you go to Tam's Amazon link to buy it, her next rent check probably won't bounce! And then I can buy the really good coffee and drink it until my eyes start buzzin'. Real loud. Oooooo! Yeah.

Friday, March 09, 2012

"Occupy Site R?"

Hey, looky: the White House has moved the G8 summit from Chicago to Camp David! As Wikipedia so drily puts it: "President Obama denied that the decision was motivated by demonstrations. [...] The new location will be inaccessible to the public."

NATO's still gathering in the City With Broad Gun Laws; I guess Generals are held to be better able to deal with rock-throwing, window-smashing peaceniks than economists and either way, we can probably count on seeing the worst of Chicago's Finest if things heat up. In some minds, it's '68 forever on both sides, oi!

Seen At Breakfast

So, I'm at the computer, enjoying a nice breakfast of corned beef hash with a chives-and-sharp-Provolone omelet (really good, especially together), chasing Tam's cat, Random Numbers, off the desk about once every two minutes, when, all of a sudden, thump! Huck the giant tomcat appears on the desk and moves rapidly to a place of refuge behind the monitor, over which he ponders my plate and the rapidly-diminishing comestibles upon it--

--Just as Rannie leaps up and says A Very Bad Word, turning so she can A) Keep an eye on The Boy and B) Stay within grab-and-go range of my plate. But it's a cat standoff; she doesn't dare try for a stolen snack because she'll have to turn her back on Huck to go for it.

Across the room, Tam turns to see what her cat is cussing about. So I ask, "Hey, will you come sit on my desk, too? Might as well go for a clean sweep!"

The only thing better (worse) is the Smallest Room, about walk-in closet size, if that -- one of us in the shower, one us at the mirror, Huck hiding between the shower curtains waiting to attack and Rannie eeling about underfoot. I'm starting to get the least inkling of how a submariner feels.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Bird Or Flower?

...Sometimes there might be some confusion
Despite Bob Wood's examples in profusion:

"How To Tell The Birds From The Flowers"

(First published in 1917, preceding The Snouters by no few decades.)

Yes, Robert W. Wood invented blacklight; how ever did you guess?

(This very cute book had a hard-fought argument as a backdrop, with figures including Teddy Roosevelt and Jack London duking it out, pen-to-pen and typewriter-to-typewriter.)

B-P: "Be Prepared!"

A nice link from Barron Barnett led me to this quote:
Then my idea that Scouting could be educative was strengthened also, through the following incident. General Lord Allenby was riding to his house after a field day when his little son shouted to him, "Father, I have shot you, you are not half a Scout. A Scout looks upward as well as around him - you never saw me." There was the boy, sitting up in a tree overhead; but far above him, near the top of the tree, was his new governess. " What on earth are you doing up there?" cried the General. "Oh, I am teaching him Scouting," she said. She had been trained at Miss Charlotte Mason's Collage for Teachers, and they had been using my book, Aids to Scouting, written for soldiers, as a textbook in the art of educating children.
That's Baden-Powell and he's speaking, in 1937, of events along about the turn of the century -- the 19th, that is, as it turned into the 20th. He's speaking to the origins of Scouting, and the appeal of being able to stand on your own two feet. RTWT.

(Great Moments in Scouting, 1909 edition: "...among the boys as they marched past, we found some groups of girls in Scout hats with staves and lanyards and haversacks, like the boys. 'Who are you?' we said. 'Oh, we are the Girl Scouts.' 'The devil you are!' 'No - Girl Scouts.'" Heh! See there, fellers?)

You can bet there are Scouts helping out in Southern Indiana and the other storm-struck areas right now. And you can learn a lot from 'em.

If You Are Reading This...

...It means the power grid and communications infrastructure was not wiped out by a magnetic storm resulting from a huge solar flare on 6 March, huzzah! --It also means if you live very far North, you should hie yourself outdoors right now, as there's liable to be a wondrous aurora.

The flare itself wasn't aimed directly at our little ball of mud, but it will pass right near, like a near-miss with birdshot. Dammit, watch where you're pointing that thing! We (probably) lucked out this time, but we have to keep on rolling those eight-sided dice -- and fate always wins in the end.

What would you do if ol' Sol put the lights out? Me, I'm fillin' up every container in the house with water. And then I'd dig a latrine. -- And fort up. Cities are not gonna be safe places, a few hours in.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Doin' The Mokita

It's not the latest dance craze; it's not a new mixed drink. Nope; it's one of them-there furrin' words* and it means, "What everyone knows but no one will mention," things like fascination of car wrecks or the person responsible for noisy/obnoxious flatulence in a large group.

Or -- what the heck -- the way Social Security went over the cliff a long time back, and is just whistling in the wind before it goes smash at the bottom. Even Huffies get it. And best of all, everyone gets to blame their most favoritest villains: the looting was done in a warm glow of bipartisanship, a little bit of a time! Of course, the real crime was making such a promise in the first place, and the changes in both retirement age and increasing lifespan that moved it from a kind of "last man's bottle" or tontine to a generational pyramid scheme. --But hey, on the bright side, you got a nifty little blue-and-white card and an official .gov tracking number, all your very own!

Another mokita -- dig that hint of mint and alum? -- is the way "capitalism" takes the rap for cronyism and mercantilism. Alan Greenspan is still tryin' to 'splain -- and just as naturally, the lamestream media thinks the big lede is that dour Uncle Alan has opined that capitalism needs a tune-up.

We've all got our own list of unfaced truths. Now at least you know what name to file it under.
* It's Kivila. Well, of course. Spoken on some island utopia in Papua New Guinea, no doubt far from the scourge of modern dentistry or internet access.


The Romans knew it; William Randolph Hearst knew it and you know it, too; but few will ever come right out and say it:

There's nothing that grabs eyeballs better than a fight.


Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Linguistic Patrol Once Again: Nuking Meaning

(Or whatever it was I used to call it.)

Some abuses of the language -- of plain sense -- are so egregious that, like the old firehorse responding one more time to the bell, I just gotta pull on the hip-boots, fire up the flambéthrower, get out the killing tweezers and go after them.

Such would be the case with a month-old, breathless bit of self-panicking from NDJworld: Fukishima Leaking Again.

It starts in a way that makes me itchy, "A new radioactive leak has been discovered..." Umm, how's that? The leak itself is radioactive, or is there radioactive material that is leaking? And just what is it? Steam? Water? Harsh looks? Molten lead?

Damifino and the next para. is no help; we're told Tepco "announced the radiation leak" and that it is "another radiation leak." Alpha, beta, gamma, hard X-rays, a big, glow-y dinosaur, what?

Who knows; the troubled site's previous history of "radioactive clouds" and "radioactive water" leaks is mentioned (and it's no joking matter, a massive mess), but nary a clue as to the nature of the February leak; for all the reader can tell, it could be strawberry jam.

"Reportedly, enough radiation leaked into the air to cause radiation sickness," avers the article. No! Wrong! It might be enough radioactive something, or even something radioactive enough, but radiation itself would just...radiate. Like light from a shaded lamp, or X-rays from the machine in a dentist's office, it travels in a straight line. It would hurt you only if you got in the path of the radiation, or if it was so terribly strong it was amping up the air as it passed by. (Hint: highly unlikely.) It would not be "leaking" as most of us understand leaks.

But wait! There's more! You can relax, because " one was exposed to the deadly toxin." Aaaaargh! No, no, nooooooooo! It's bad stuff, but not a "toxin." Toxin is a very well-defined word. Toxins are produced within living organisms. While you could argue that the Fukishima reactors have behaved with a degree of perversity somewhat akin to a living organism, they are not alive; they're lumps of metal and concrete, huge tanks and pools and, yes, leaks of water, and some of what comes out are poisons.

Is getting it right really too much to ask?


In recent days, I've heard some folks wondering how Russians could re-elect an authoritarian like the spymaster*-turned-politician, while others nod knowingly and murmur, "Russians, what'd'ya expect?"

Would that it was that simple; would that you could point to a nation out from under Czar and Commissar within living memory and sigh that they could know no better.

They're not the only ones! Any time you've wished aloud for a U.S. President to "grow a spine and show those so-and-sos," you've been wishing for a strongman; presidential election campaigns hammer over and over how their guy is a powerful leader who would set things right at home and abroad! --Bold claim for an office that was only supposed to be implementing laws passed by Congress, doing the Head-of-State waltz with kings and autocrats and making all the day-to-day gap-filling or crisis-driven decisions needed to keep the country running.

Most people miss Daddy sometimes, but there's a whole big section of the human race that longs for an über-Daddy. A strongman. Maybe you aren't that way but your neighbor, boss or coworkers are.

And guess what? The people who look to authority by default, the ones who feel, deep in their souls, that authority is to be deferred to simply because it exists, end up running things, since they're the people who can -- and will -- jump through all the hoops, working their way through the maze. Knowing what to kiss and what to kick -- and enjoying being a part of it -- they end up in charge. (See Kevin Baker's postings anent "administrative control bias" in the media and academia for one example of what results therefrom).

Meanwhile, ol' intractable you -- and me, too -- is on the outs. Doesn't make any difference what you know or how well you do it: if you lack that essential sense that those above you must be right, just 'cos they're up there while you're down below, you're not going to find the Ladder of Success an easy climb unless you figure a way to do it solo.

And while you are at it, those around you are looking for a new Man On Horseback.

The Constitution was supposed to limit this, or at least to limit the harm it among the elected and to the electorate; but the Founders and Framers had only an inkling of the innate drives and expectations they were up against.

So Russia gets a Putin. And we get demagogues, making promises they cannot possibly deliver without a compliant Congress and malleable courts -- and most of the discussion I'm hearing and seeing isn't about what despicable nonsense that is, but only how terribly awful it would be if the wrong man got the job.

From where I'm sitting, they're all wrong.
* An earlier version of this posting identified Putin as a former "spamaster." It was a typo. For the record -- and as spook-y as his is -- I do not think the man has been involved in spamming. Or bossing a spa.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Comfort Reading

Nice how & why he's a gunny post from American Mercenary.

Wimp! or, It's Not "Open Season On Cops"

...Despite what bedwetting opinionators may think. Nope; Indiana's legislature has fixed (rather, is in the process of fixing) a very grave wrong done by our state's Supreme Court back in 2011, when they decided you have no right to resist even an illegal police entry to your home. Led by the soon-to-be-ablegated* Steven H. David, they spat in the face of long-standing case and common law.

And the Legislature took steps to rectify the matter with SB 001. Yep, first on the list.

There may, indeed be times to fight back. In Indiana, if it was one of those times, the householder will have some possibility of redress. That's really all the law does; Officer Friendly can still go all Harless on you, or much worse (officer safety-wise, $BADGUY was prolly gonna shoot at first knock anyway). As ever, in the end we can only look to the good sense and goodwill of our fellowcritters. Doesn't always work -- as SB 001 recognizes and the Indiana Supreme Court did not.

(Mucho appreciato to Clare Wolfe, who caught this.)
* Yes, it's a real word. I don't always make them up.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

IDing An Honest Gunnie: Meme-Tagged

New Jovian Thunderbolt tagged me a week ago tomorrow with a meme and I've been hiding from it: "...things that indicate, to me, that a gun owner or shooter maybe is an honest one..."

It is an interesting question -- do I look like Diogenes' kid sister? Oversized bathrobe aside? (No, no, not "aside" like that! Oh, the salacity!). How can you tell, other than a nice long lived-through-it history with them, that anyone is honest?

Well, you can't; but most of us have workable substitutes.

First off, I try to be polite and fair to everyone I meet. --I do not always succeed; if your first words to me include wild accusations and scatological talk, I'm liable to jump salty. But in general interaction, we reap as we have sown and I try to be "kind, tolerant, genial" and possibly even "benevolent"[1] or at least beneficient. People who react in kind get a conditional okay.[2]

Next, how're they dressed? How do the carry themselves? Appropriate to the circumstances? Any tattoos? If so, izzit art or skinhead/gangity stuff? Hey, it's probably soooo unfair, but if I see a lotta ugly monochrome work on your skin, I'm liable to keep my distance until I know more. Your Mom might love you unconditionally but me, not so much.

Let's say this is at a range or similar gunny venue, what's their ordnance like? Well cared-for or all beat up? Decent quality or junk? If junk, do I get the impression it's the best they could afford and is handled to optimize its utility, or is the person just an idiot? A lot of shiny plating on an "affordable" firearm is a downcheck, barring countervailing evidence; d00d with a filthy, beat-up Glock had better be Mr. Gun School otherwise.

What's their gun-handling like? Safe or sloppy? If they're not safe, they could be a pillar of probity in every other way but I am still not trusting them. That goes double if they won't take a hint, quadruple if they argue about basics.

Do they know their own guns? (See preceding two). Again, this is subjective and variable; maybe it's Mr. Poor-But-Honest's first trip to the range with the gold-plated-trigger Lorcin that was the only thing in his price range at Cheap Used Guns Inc. Still, there's fumbling and fumbling, getting to know a new gun vs. empirical, street-y awkwardness. It's a clue.

Do they share? Not required but it's a useful parameter; the guy who's shooting something unusual and is willing to talk about it, maybe even offer others (who he has decided to trust) a chance to try it out.

Note that all of this can, in fact, be run as a setup for a scam; some version of the fiddle game,[3] for instance.

So how can you tell if someone is honest? Barring very long association, you can't; all you can do is make your best decision and rely on the odds to pick up the slack: most people are honest enough and as for the rest, well, it's difficult to cheat an honest person.

I'm supposed to tag others but by now, everyone I know well enough to do that to has already been bit. I guess I could "tag" some antis and people I've crossed words with, but why shovel coal in their engines? Nope, you, Dear Audience, I'll tag you! In comments or at your place (link back if you're minded): what're your criteria for an honest gunny?
1. Cripes, who left a distaff-equivalent of avuncular outta the language? "Amitable" would clatter 'round too much in the brainbox and "materternal" is even worse.

2. What's the old saying, "Be friendly to everyone you meet, and always have a plan to kill them." Just for practice. Um, mostly. Also, did you locate the exits?

3. Also known as a "pigeon drop." Relatedly, I think I lost my glass eye in here! $500 reward!

Lunch Menu

Toad-in-Hole with Surry sausage!

--But not plain ol' whitebread fried with henfruit in the center. Oh, no! Marbled rye (with a bit of Cajun seasoning sprinkled on), a big brown egg, and the top well-covered with diced leek and some diced hot pickled cherry pepper.

Little bitta bacon fat to start things, the Surries sizzlin' in the center an' smoky goodness sharing out to the eggs and bread. A couple of minutes with a lid over it all to ensure done-ness, then finished off in the open. Yum!

I'd've taken photos but it was just too tempting to wait.


Sho' nuf, Quick bowed up when challenged. It's a kind of hysteria.

That show's over, folks. Be sure and tip your waitperson -- and keep an ear open for Killing Fields type chatter. You can't whistle your way past that graveyard.


I'm currently watching former* GOP chairman Michael Steele on, of all venues, an MSNBC chat show. He has just "explained" that his party lost in '08 because of a dull primary race.

The whole roundtable is depressing; he's being treated as if he rode the short bus to the studio. Maybe he did.

"Who is Charlie Gordon?" is a lousy motto for a political party. Or an entire society.
* Bubblehead Les kindly pointed out that he and that job have parted ways.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

"...Where The House Used To Be..."

Tornadoes screamed through southern Indiana (and nearby states) yesterday, strewing schoolbuses like jackstraws. The little town of Maryville is described as "gone."

Local media has the skinny -- and links where you can donate to the Red Cross.

Even in downtown Indianapolis, we had chickpea-sized hail and winds that shook the roofs at work; satellite dishes were flexing and wobbling.

For all the talk of "Zombie Apocalypse," or more serious concerns about economic collapse, your region's version of extreme weather is the most likely civil emergency you will face. Have you made preparations? Do you have a plan? Do you realize it's unlikely to survive contact with reality intact? (You need that plan nevertheless: gotta start somewhere.) Being ready is more than what you have stocked up and thought through; it's an attitude.

Live helicopter images showed locals out within an hour of the disaster, checking on their neighbors, most walking carefully down the middle of streets, visibly wary of the many possible hazards. One woman opened her basement to a busload of high-school students as the storms bore down. That's a survival mindset; I wonder how many of those kids are lending a hand in the cleanup/recovery efforts already underway, but it's an easy bet it's more than would have been if they hadn't had shelter from the tornado.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Teh Point, You Fail To Grasp It

Man Who Named Blogosphere Unable To Take The Pebble From My Hand; Must Go Anyhow

Internationally-known San Franciscan Bill Quick has put me in my place, by gum! -- Um, well, he would've had I been standing where he decided I was, that is.

Y'see, he said my posting about a vicious, petty rant against Republicans (but it could have been from anywhen, about any despised Other) was "hysterical bullshit."

Ha ha, sez I, I already had a hysterectomy.

He seems to think I was decrying incivility qua incivility, and claiming such is what leads to the great horrors of politics. --Now, it is unfair to blame him; he likely read no deeper than Chas G. Hill's excerpt and besides, most adults read at no more than an eighth-grade level. Subtleties can be lost.

So fuck civility. Let me spell it out for him, in nice little words even denizens of of the Golden Typo State* can understand:

The problem, Bill, is not that the spew in question is uncivil, nor even that it is -- in your opinion -- expressive of "honest, deeply-felt disagreement..." I have no doubt the writer was sincere; it is obvious her feelings run to her very core. Whoopee.

The problem is, she's already decided anyone tagged with "Republican" is pure evil, to be hated, feared and driven out. Y'all aren't someone she's disagreeing with, Bill: she's decided you're vermin. A cockroach. You won't be having a shouting match with her; soon as she spots you, she's calling the Orkin man. She could be polite about it, but she's decided to stand on a chair and scream. No matter how the message is delivered, it's a toxic one.

not lets-go-vote-about-it-you-bastard, it's not ordinary political disagreement, even of the bar-fight variety: it's the dehumanizing talk that comes before they decide to ship folks off for terminal "re-education."

And that, dear Bill, is the problem.

Minor points: the "X" in my nom de 'net comes from algebra, not a sesquicentarian war -- a war most slave-owning nations managed to end slavery without having, I will note.

The Goldwater quote is a good one and one that I happen to agree with -- but "extremism" of the sort K7UGA referred to falls well short of describing domestic, mainstream political opponents as something other than human and comprises rather more than mere talk.

Which brings me to your closing, a grim reminder "that when talk is insufficient, it’s time to bring out the guns. Whether Miss X and her ilk approve or not." --Yeah, well, perhaps we differ in that I would like to not have to spend my declining years in house-to-house fighting, but if it comes to that, Mr. California, would you care to compare arms and ammunition? (Pretty sure I've got you beat there. I'm not all that great a shot but from what I see at the range, I'm not that bad.) My whole point was that her talk was at the next-step-is-shooting stage and I was kinda aiming, by exposing it as the genuine hate speech that it is, to maybe head things off: if you don't call folks out over this kind of behavior, it tends to spread.

I'm tickled to be, in your estimation, one of "those people folks," whatever that means. (And to have an "ilk," to boot. Ooo! Do you feed them, or just make sure they get sunlight and water?) Agnostic (former Buddhist, former Methodist), shooter, female, geek, Scots/Cherokee/German/Mongrel American and darned proud of it. Oh, and (shock, horror) a feeeelthy Libertarian. I wouldn't have much of a dog in your Donkey/Elephant fight except the Dems keep thinking I am one of you and your side comes up with the occasional Goldwater or Paul, flawed but not as badly as most of the pols. They'll ship me off to the same damn camps, Ghu rot the luck.

Dunno just what you are. Some guy who dents his head jumpin' off his own pile of hasty conclusions, near as I can tell. Your Mom should have kept after you about wearing that helmet.
* Just ask Snopes.