Saturday, June 30, 2012

If You Like Carl Bussjaeger's Science Fiction

...Here's an opportunity to get him to write some more: he's got a fundraiser going on! Toss some money in the hat, get books now -- and more books later.

There Aren't Enough Baseball Bats In The World

I haven't written about the Supremes ruling in re (part of) Obamacare, 'cos, well, it's depressing. No real surprise that one part of has upheld the expansion of another part of; it is the nature of the beast to grope toward totality, after all.

--But the whole-heartedness of it all, the it's-okay-to-tax-you-so-we'll-call-a-fine-a-tax cynicism makes me want to throw up.

And then, then, the very last straw came when Mitt "Mittens" Romney promised he'd fix it, by gum, if we'd just let him at the controls: he'd do his very best to toss out that nasty fine (how?) and the "individual mandate" that it enforces and leave the entire rest of Obamacare in place. When he said that, he showed just how little hope there is for the future: essentially, none.

In a better world, the entire Federal apparatus would get from the electorate what Caesar got from the Roman Senate, only with baseball bats, leaving nothing but bloody mush behind. That, of course, is not going to happen, and I am not suggesting it should. Besides, we'd run out of bats before the job was half done.

But I'm never voting for a Federal incumbent again; and if any member of the two halves of the Warfare/Welfare/Boot-on-our-neck party wants my vote, he'll have to promise to commit seppuku to get it.

Romney, Obama -- they're different faces of the same guy. Oh, their masks wear different shades of lip gloss but they're both gleefully shoveling tomorrow's babies into the fire to fuel the engines of bread, circuses and power for the sake of power and they don't realize -- or care -- how near the precipice they dance or how far the fall will be, just as long as they can keep on keepin' on. After all, the Feds have been dancing on the brink for a long, long time, and they've never fallen over it yet. Never, ever happen, right up unti-- Whups!

All those Politburo involuntary-retirees must be nigh unto laugh-sick with the anticipation of schadenfreude, praying they'll live long enough to see it.

Update: Day

...Managed to get myself civilised* enough to meet friends for a lunch -- or, in my case, breakfast -- and then, as the thoroughly enjoyable festivities ramped down, my headache returned with renewed vigor. Gak.

I plan on an afternoon of light housework -- very light. Tried to get to the bank earlier and misplaced ten whole minutes; unfortunate, as it was the ten between 11:48 and 11:58 am.
* Which is a little more civilized than "civilized," if you were keeping score, and less than "courtoise." Except, of course, in the Congo, where it's the other way 'round.

Drought Broke, Sinuses Broken

Pretty good storm came through yesterday afternoon -- a lot of wind and noise, little hail, fairish rain (where it rained at all) and a sudden 25-degree drop in temperature.

Early this morning, another storm hammered through, even louder and with more rain (unless you live very far south of I-70, in which case, you're outta luck).

My sinuses were not very happy with atmospheric conditions in the wake of the storm yesterday and this morning one side -- the left, of course -- is blocked and has brought a severe headache and dizziness along for the party.

I'm gonna go lay back down and find what serenity I can in the sure and certain knowledge that the flowers, grass, trees an' all the little critters have done been watered. I'd go look at 'em but it feels like my head is about to explode. Oh joyfulness.

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Tragedery Of The Semi-Commons

So, as I may have mentioned a few times, Indiana -- Indiana! -- is in a serious drought.

You, about all that's going to do to you is the better brands of canned tomatoes will be more costly and/or harder to find. (Also, corn prices will rise, but it's not like there's very much has corn in it, right? Right? Er... Ooops.)

At Roseholme Cottage, our lawn's gone Marine-service-shirt and it's going to stay that way, dormant 'til it rains; any grass (or weeds, mustn't forget the weeds, which held out green for the longest) that isn't adapted to Indiana's occasional drought will be replaced by breeds that are. We are -- um, Tam is -- watering the useful herbs and vegetables, by hand.

But a lot of the city seems to think a green lawn is essential to gettin' a good seat in the next life, or required by law, or something: they've been watering up a storm, sprinklers waving daily. Water usage is way up...and the two main reservoirs are a foot and a half low.

The water company doesn't like the trend; they've been asking people to knock it off, or at least cut back. Predictably, usage has kept increasing. "I'm already paying for something that falls free from the sky," J. Greenlawn'd Citizen seems to think, "I'll stop watering when I'm good'n ready."

Or maybe when the pumps start sucking mud. But the Water Co. doesn't like reaching that point and operate under internal rules and external regulations that are supposed to keep them from getting there. Citizens Water has already moved from gentle pleading to Stern Warnings, with rumblings of worse to come if we don't take our feet off the throttle. Perhaps unbeknownst to many Indyneapolitans, among the water-utility services for which they are actually paying, along with filtration and purification, fluoridation, pipes and pumping, is a nifty little thing out by the street, a round cover under which is a long pipe down to a security valve. Water is sold with some conditions attached and if push comes to shove, the guy with those fluttering sprinklers will be getting a visit from a water tech wielding a great long security wrench.

Don't like it? You're payin' 'em and they owe you that water? Tsk. Didn't bother to read the tariffs when you signed up, did you? Should'a put in a cistern -- and you'd be right there with the Water Co., checking the level, looking to the skies and shaking your head in concern, realizing The End Is In Sight and cutting back on lawn-watering.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

See, They Wouldn't Take "No."

So let's try, "Hell, NO!"

Correspondence reproduced vebatim, except the names have been changed and links removed to make it of negative utility to the sender.

--Oh! And to protect the guilty and the innocent alike.

Roberta X writes:

A) This is probably going on the Internet. Parts of it already have.* All links will be removed and names will be replaced by aliases.

B) What part of "Since you have so little regard for my work other than as a means to your end..." are you failing to understand? Money, barter, whatever, don't want it. I find the firm you purport to represent less charming than a barefoot encounter with a squashed dog turd on a sidewalk in August.

YOUR OFFER: DO. NOT. WANT. I WILL NOT LET YOU LEECH FROM MY TRAFFIC, NOR WILL I ALLOW YOU TO PUT LINKS YOU CONTROL ON MY BLOG. I try to treat my readers as something other than a resource to be exploited. YMMV, but not on a website I control.

Get -- as I have now said, what, thrice? -- lost.
* From my blog: "I Do Not Allow Guest Posts. Ever. Nor will I put your links in my posts. Sending me e-mail requesting either -- and most other blog-marketing 'services' -- will result in it being publicly mocked in a way that will not help your traffic." Goodness, think of the trouble you would have been spared if you had taken even five minutes to do a little reasearch.

--- On Thu, 6/28/12, Paste Eater wrote:

From: Paste Eater
Subject: Re: [Somekindofscam] The Adventures of Roberta X Partnership
To: "Roberta X"
Date: Thursday, June 28, 2012, 12:34 PM
I apologize for the inconvenience. I would like to point out that there would be no money involved, we are just trying to work with you so that we can benefit each other in getting closer to reaching our goals.

On Wed, Jun 27, 2012 at 7:54 PM, Roberta X wrote:
You obviously failed to read the sidebar of my blog, where this is explained. Since you have so little regard for my work other than as a means to your end, why should I treat you with any greater consideration than, say, a lunatic handing out religious tracts at the airport?

MY BLOG AIN'T FOR RENT. Neither are the eyeballs of my readers. This is a my hobby. H.O.B.B.Y. My employer is in the eyeball business. There is no way I can ethically aid your site's SEO efforts even if I wanted to, which I don't. Get lost.

And tell your pals to get lost, too; I get an inquiry note from a "Some Kind Of Scam" shill approximately monthly and they never, ever understand plain English saying, and I repeat, "Get lost."

I ought to bill you for my time.

--- On Wed, 6/27/12, Paste Eater wrote:

From: Paste Eater
Subject: Re: [Somekindofscam] The Adventures of Roberta X Partnership
To: "Roberta X"
Date: Wednesday, June 27, 2012, 11:49 AM

Thank you for the reply, I'd really appreciate a minute of your time to learn why this is not of interest to you.

On Wed, Jun 27, 2012 at 3:43 AM, Roberta X wrote:
Get lost.

--- On Tue, 6/26/12, Paste Eater wrote:

From: Paste Eater
Subject: [Somekindofscam] The Adventures of Roberta X Partnership
To: email
Date: Tuesday, June 26, 2012, 6:13 PM


My name is Paste Eater and I work on the business development team of Somekindofscam, an unbiased comparison engine founded by Smoker Of Dead Mice In A Merschaum (founder and former CEO of AnnoyingPopUps) and backed by Satan Himself with 10M unique visitors per month.

We are working with large online publishers including Worm-Eaters Digest, Snuffington Post, UnderARockCEO, and offer a variety of options to integrate our highly engaging content with your site.

For example, we could add a Guns Comparison that would live organically on your blog. Users can interact with these tools without ever leaving the site. We even have comparison for Federal Firearms Licensees, Best Guns Safes, and more.

I’d like to set up a quick call to discuss similar partnership ideas with you and would greatly appreciate 10 minutes of your time.

Please suggest a couple times that work best for you or let me know if you would like me to send some more information before you make time for a call.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Business Development, Somekindofscam
phone: (000) 000-0000
skype: Eater of Paste

Somekindofscam, a powerful tool for making quick and informed decisions.
Follow us on Faecesbook and Twerper.

[same thing three more times, as he fails to manage nested quotes.]


IMPD: I Wish This Came As A Surprise

IMPD officer arrives at training class, drunk. Ipse bibendum.

Sense -- Who Needs It?

Today is forecast to be the hottest day in Indiana since 1988. We're under burn-bans throughout the state -- and so of course the high-rent bedroom community of Carmel is commencing smoke-testing of sewer lines.

Keep an eye open for fires, kiiiids -- unless the evidence is wisping skyward from a Carmel manhole cover.

Ah, but at least we're saved from the scourge of ethanol. Demon Rum: bad for you, bad for your car and you can't even see the flames in sunlight.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

DIACF, F!nd-The-B3s+

About once a month, I get a bizzarely-skewed inquiry e-mail from what I'll call "F1nd +he B3s+." They assure me they work with big, bigtime websites, important players like -- gak -- HuffPo and WatchingCarsRust Golf Digest* and if I'd just accept the largess of them embedding some searchy-links in my website -- "integrate our highly engaging content with your site" like a tick up a cat's rectum -- why, all the nations of world would be mine, mine, mine and my readers would experience a whole new level of convenience, bliss and occasional incontinence.

Wait, I made up the part about incontinence. Also bliss.

And they would do all this for me -- and you, yes you, Dear Reader -- because I guess we're too dumb to work Bing or Google, and because of course, you'd use an online search-engine to search directly for a personal firearm. (Reviews, maybe, but face it, any Ring of Fire slagmaker can whomp up a glitzy website and hire some SEO flacks.)

My reply is always the same, "Get Lost" over a full quote of their message, and they never, ever take the hint; I always get back a wanly-grinning Dale-Carnegiesque, "Thank you for the reply, I'd really appreciate a minute of your time to learn why this is not of interest to you."

Well, see, buddy, I am neither HuffPo nor The Watching-Paint-Dry Intelligencer. This is my hobby. And what you see on this blog is what I think and see and say. Nobody else gets to generate the content. Go play search engine with a stacked deck somewhere else.
* Gentlemen, for as long as I have been seeing golf, I have been finding it indigestible. Just sayin'.

The Extraordinary Adventures Of Adele Blanc-Sec

...It's a French film... No, wait! Come back!

It's a gaslight fantasy directed by Luc Besson* and based, I'm told, on a series of graphic novels. Like, say, Watchmen, the film takes its unreal reality seriously; there are comedic elements but they grow naturally from the characters. The tech and sets are pretty much period, too.

Notwithstanding-- To enjoy the movie, you'll want to carefully remove your skepticism, cage it and cover the cage so it falls softly asleep. With that out of the way, how could you not like a film that involves a dashing and attractive young female journalist-adventurer, mummy-hunting, a telepathically reanimated and hatched pterodactyl egg, freak tennis accidents, a detective who vaguely resembles Tompson and Thompson rolled into one, a lovestruck zoologist, the President of France, a twin sister in a waking coma, no end of villains and a kind of "Edgar Rice Burroughs on absinthe" ambiance?

I sat down to watch it over dinner tonight, thinking I'd get a ways in, see what it was like and move on, to watch it all the way through later. Nope, hooked; it was just crazy and convoluted enough that I had to see how it played out. At an hour and 42 minutes, it's not like you're gonna have to take an intermission.

The Extraordinary Adventures Of Adele Blanc-Sec. Good job of English dubbing; the subtitles are a little better but you can pick either, both, or -- if your French is up to it -- none. Amazon has it on DVD -- you might want to buy via Tam's link.
* The Fifth Element, Nikita -- I hear he's pretty good.

When Laws Collide!

Indiana is in a drought. I don't know where you live -- if northwest or southeast, my words may smack of fantasy, but this state is so dry that most of the hardy weeds I cultivate in place of grass are bleached to tan, dormant if not dead, We haven't had measurable rain all month and we were well behind pace in May.

...With an eye to this, and mindful of the fires in Colorado and elsewhere, the majority of Indiana counties have some kind of burn ban in place and most of them are telling residents that includes fireworks.

:( I has a sad. But it beats a grassfire!

But wait: it turns out the law can't ban fireworks! Yes, Indiana has preemption, at least between 29 June and 9 July, during which time state law says local law may not prevent you from setting off fireworks even if there's an open-burn ban in place.

Me, I still hope you won't give little Tommy-Sue and Jenny-Fred a handful of sparklers and Ohio Blue Tips* and lock them outta the house 'til they've used 'em up, without even a bucket of water to toss 'em in, but you're on your own. The Law ain't gonna make you behave responsibly. --Which may be just as well, 'cos enforcing a ban on fireworks on Independence Day would be a whole lot more Sisyphean than upholding the Volstead Act ever was -- and just as futile.

The Glorious Fourth is coming (and never you mind the real date is the Second). Please don't burn anything down.
* Good old Blue Tips, I don't think you can get; but despite rumors to the contrary, strike-anywhere matches are still with us. Play responsibly -- don't set your britches on fire!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

$1000 Later...

...I kid; really it was a low, low $951.00 American. Roseholme now has a free-flowing sewer connection (in the "away from house, to sewer line" direction) and a whole new floor drain. With flood-stopping valve.

He did run a camera down the drain and after chasing the roots away, it looks, I am told, "okay." The roots will, of course, return, especially in this drought. (He offered to "come back and scope the drain when you can see it." What, his employer never heard of DVRs? DVD recorders? VHS tape?)

They tell me I could get a fancy, lifetime-guaranteed resin relining of my sewer connection for only $12,000.00 and change. That's nice. I could also sprout wings and fly to the tops of the trees -- in fantasyland. Here in reality, I don't have that kind of cash and if the drain does fail catastrophically, I will be having to take Desperate Measures. Which makes me just like most people.

...I'm Off...

But you knew that already, right? No, I'm off to the shower, to wash up quickly before the plumber arrives.

Wish us luck -- that drain's got me worried.

Monday, June 25, 2012

In Threes

So, disagreement over the details of a...words fail me but you know the guy; that's One. No fun but it happens, at which point (IMO) the important thing is to Shut Up. I'm not good at that.

Two came first and is worse: once again, the drains at Roseholme are direly slow. You can use the loo -- if no one else has in the last twenty minutes. Plumbers have been called and I hope a good snaking will fix it but this will be the third time. (OTOH, there was a magnetic business card on the original fridge when I moved in: a drain-cleaning company.) Hope for the best!

Three: Huck the Cat got very rough with Rannie not a half-hour ago: had her pinned and was kicking at her tummy, with much mutual screaming and attempts to bite. He freaked out when I dove in, and he ran off to the kitchen and onto the counter at the far end. --I won't put up with this behavior. He's used up his one chance. Sad. I hope I put enough of a scare in him.

Gabe Suarez Embraces The IngSoc Esthetic

See, the present is already a boot stamping on a human face, and if it is, why, that face just plain deserves it. Besides, it will only hurt worse if you clench up.

Pity we didn't have men like him in 1776; he'd've set those tinfoil-hatted fools straight. Yep.

h/t to Claire Wolfe.

Update: Hm. Fairly major disagreement here in Roseholme about what Mr. Suarez meant. And "fairly major" as in "irreconcilable reads." (Little bit of backing and filling at blog where he posts, too, which you can find for yourself, he's had enough links.)

Lookie, the Indiana law says you may resist unlawful entry by police; I think we all understand that A) if Johnny Law has a warrant with your home on it, you're as scrod as any other mild whitefish and that B) outnumbered and outgunned is not a good starting point. If it is possible to de-escalate the situation, you are much better off surviving to sue than making headlines in a blaze o' glory or getting shot down before you even got the bedside gun on-target.

But that doesn't make it right -- and that's what gets under my skin with his post, the persistent refrain of, "They wouldn't be kicking in your door if you didn't have it coming." Or, as he put it, "...some poor dudley-do-right getting victimized by those 'evil jackbooted thugs', read between the lines and then consider the source as well. Anyone from a war hero to a Pastor of a church can be involved in criminal actions that get them noticed..." Umm, wait -- I thought you were talking about unlawful police entry? Maybe wrong-address raids? And suddenly J. Random Presumed-Innocent is "...involved in criminal actions...?" Golly. One of these things is not like the others!

Nor ought you accept that living in the wrong neighborhood means you've got it coming. How practical is the advice to "work as much as possible and move out" for the 88-year-old retiree, living in the home she and the late Mr. Retiree bought in 1945? --And meth labs and basement pot farms show up in "nice" neighborhoods, too; so moving out isn't a solution.

That the police can mess folks up plenty bad, he and I don't disagree about; but he seems to take it as given, and to believe that only tinfoil-hatted loons would want to change it. I'm not on board with that -- and when it comes to voting and gettin' word out, I have just as much firepower as any sworn officer on a SWAT team. And so do you.

A Milestone, Plus Misc.

(I have a doctor's appointment at 0800,* so this posting has been pre-recorded and is made available via transcription from Roseholme Cottage C3I).

Sunday night, I opened and shelved the box of SF books from my old place marked "W3 - Z." Yes, the very last box. Of SF books, that is. "Mystery" (a couple of boxes) and "Technology - Popular Accounts" (one box) remain unshelved. Still, it's progress!

Hams may wonder that I did not work Field Day this past weekend. I thought about it and had tentative plans, but it's been decades. Still, maybe? Then Friday night, I could not download the rules from the League's website, and I'm not all that happy with my present level of CW (Morse Code) proficiency. Like shooting, it's a perishable skill; you retain the basics but speed and accuracy require practice. Maybe next year. At least I have been more active on the air recently.
* Fine-tuning the thyroid meds and other such issues. Plus I get to bring in my blood-pressure logbook. See, doc, it really is White Coat Syndrome, see? Either that or my BP monitor is reading low.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Chicago Pyschic Rift Update

Early Edition, that's the other fantasy/paranomral drama set in Chicago and forming, along with Kolchak: The Night Stalker, The Dresden Files, Special Unit 2, Due South, films including The Relic, Flatliners and Chain Reaction along with the Child's Play movies (plus a number of novels, including Fritz Lieber's The Sinful Ones) a chilling documentary of the terrifying truth about the City With Broad Shoulders (and a lycanthrope infestation).

This explains the gun thing up there -- the city administration is afraid that when it comes to the genuine horrors stalking the streets, unlike the made-up-for-tourists problems stemming from gangs, drugs and grinding poverty, firearms would just get 'em riled. Rahmbo's busy fightin' the real enemy. ...Or perhaps he has mistaken fantasy and reality?

(Speaking of books and such, there's a whole pile of good old fiction at, much of it at popular prices: free. --And his troubles with Amazon anent e-publishing pretty much mirror Carl Busjaeger's. Seems the big river, not so fond of tributaries it doesn't control and not at all happy to deal with one-man shops. Corporations: get big enough, they start actin' like governments).

A Return To The Range

Yep, back again with my flock of .22 revolvers. Took the owlhead top-break this time, which fired six rounds fine and promptly locked up. Grit in the gears? Maybe. I can find no real disassembly info on these and so I'm thinking it may just travel off to the gunsmiths at Coal Creek the next time Tam visits them. I'd like to get it to a decent level of reliability; it's too fun to be a paperweight.

The High-Standard Sentinel, on the other hand, continued to perform nicely. If there's a revolver equivalent of Ruger's Mk. II, this is probably it. Tam tells me the DA pull is not as smooth as a good Smith -- "There's a long pull and then a hitch, it gets crunchy and then it breaks." True but she's spoiled by her Model 19* K22 Combat Masterpiece and "Kit Gun." It's nice enough for me to keep my shots mostly in (or on the edge of) the black at seven yards. The H&R pull-pin was also along, and still a delight. It takes me a cylinder to really pick up the (very old-fashioned) sights properly but it's so much fun I don't care.

Also brought the .38 Colt (S&W, about the same as the British .380/200 but a lighter projectile) revolver. Recoil feels "slappier" than the .32-20 but it is just as much fun. Sights are a little more friendly than the H&R but you'd never mistake them for a gun made in the last twenty years. I have got to find a Webley Mk. IV (or, I suppose, the Enfield) -- the heavier revolver would mitigate recoil and give me a double excuse for stockpiling the short .38. (Tam points out that "Victory Model" S&Ws in .380/200, Broad Arrow marked and all, are not uncommon. Would I break my no-Smiths rule for one of those? Probably; I've already decided the .22 wheelgun collection is going to have to eventually include a Colt and a S&W.)
* Totally wrong. Totally mocked -- in a humorous way! -- for being wrong. It's a "pre-Model 18" so I didn't even have the number right. Is gun. Is shiny. Me like shiny. Bang-bang!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Galileo: Still Dead

And yet he keeps getting molestered by people who think A) He was a High And Noble Hero or B) that their Church is unfairly maligned 'cos they did, um, kind of lock him up for a long time over bein' annoying. Nobody is willin' to admit he might have been an argumentative guy who significantly advanced astronomy and physics, a proto-nerd of the purest quill, and leave it at that.

Here's the thing: he is still dead. He isn't coming back and neither is anyone he was directly involved with. Neither Earth nor the star it orbits is at the center of Everything; never was, still ain't.

These things are facts. Now leave the poor sunovagun alone, will ya? Go find something new to fight over.

(Prediction: more of the same in comments. There is no butthurt like one that involves people too dead to speak for themselves.)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Gak! Brain Bleach, Must Find...?

Yes, there's a special breed known as the Dorking Chicken -- but not, oh, thank you, Ghu, than kew, not in that way.

(Psuedoreleatedly, and to continue my frequent raillery of Canada, I'm given to understand that Dorking, Ontario is not very far from Punkeydoodles Corners. As one might expect.)

...Also, sorting out that troublesome nerd/dork/geek/dweeb matrix. At last.


It is possible to be an honorable and courageous soldier for an inept, corrupt or wicked regime; one need look no further than an honest Chicago policeman for proof. Possible, but difficult and even tragic, if the inherent contradiction becomes open conflict.

It's possible to be a good soldier -- a great officer -- in a fairly idiotic war, too, which is how I ended up looking up Canada's Rideau Canal, the best-preserved example of an old European-type canal to be found in North America. It is a monument to Imperial paranoia -- or prudence, depending on how you look it it -- bypassing a section of the St. Lawrence River especially vulnerable to American blockade, built following the War of 1812.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Physicist Looks At Prometheus

Spoiler: he's not impressed. Physics Today Editor Charles Day -- an actual smart guy -- takes the film to task over malprediction rather than plot, and in so doing, hits one of my problems with a lot of cinematic SF: the nuts and bolts of it are implausible; the characters are doing things in ways that have already become outmoded. --Or, worse yet, the science is simply, laughably wrong in ways no suspension of disbelief can remedy.

Or a combination of bad science and lousy technological applications (this ruins the film Sunlight for me, despite excellent sets and a good cast). Some of the least plausible SF manages to work because the writers know when they're lying -- from Stargate to Red Dwarf to Firefly, they get more right than wrong; and when they're deliberately wrong (stargates, stasis fields, ludicrous engines), they make a feature of it. Red Dwarf gets a little more leeway by way of being a comedy, and yet Dave Lister's underachieving Everyman is quite believable in a way that any Dr. Zarkov spouting pseudoscience can never be.

The core of making an SF film (or TV show, or novel, whatever) work is the same as any other film: the characters have to make sense; the plot can't depend on them being idiots at critical points, or pulling hitherto unsuspected abilities out of hats or hip-pockets or even (a-hem, Mr. Burroughs, you're excused by dint of being a trailblazer) on coincidence after coincidence. Nope, they've got to be real to the viewer -- and their world's got to be one in which they'd live, with a few dents in the walls and dust in the corners (or a darned good reason why not.)

Prometheus is undoubtedly a visual treat and rich on thrills; but thanks to Charles Day, I'm forewarned enough to not mind waiting for the video. Or at least to not throw popcorn at the screen.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Chicago's What War?

A WND columnist calls it a "race war," a sharp uptick in black-on-white attacks in downtown Chicago.

Yeah, sure; except the label gives zero real insight into "why," other than The Other is usually easier to maltreat, which is like predicting the Sun will rise in the east.

I would suggest something else. You see, in every case -- and as required by Illinois law and Windy City ordinance -- the victims were unarmed. If you were a hoodlum picking victims in Chicago, what kind of demographic predictions would you make about who would be most likely to not illegally carry a gun? Especially if you or your violently-inclined pals were?

Fix the damn laws over there, get a leaven of law-abiding folks legally armed, and watch the stats start to match the rest of the country. --Don't expect an outbreak of peace and brotherly love, but as the risks of attempting to stomp some innocent into the pavement go up, the number of attacks will decline.

Who knows, there might even be a loser or two decide strong-arming is a lousy career choice, and try honest work instead.

An Undeniable Truth

I have, on occasion, observed persons with harshly censorious reactions to the bagpipes. While I find bagpipes delightful, mine is a minority opinion; the British Crown defined the pipes as a "weapon of war," after all. But I had not realized this fear and loathing extended into interstellar space.

...At least it wasn't an accordion, ey?

(Which reminds me....)

Not Doin' Too Well

In fact, I'm sick. Sorry.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Another IMPD DUI


The latest incident is about as "minor" as a DUI hit-and-run can be, at least for the victim -- a construction worker got whacked by a pickup truck's side mirror and told his boss, who hightailed it after the truck, caught up...and lo, behind the wheel was an IMPD lieutenant, unaware that he'd hit anyone and, as it turned out, in no condition to be driving. (Details from Tam.)

At least it wasn't a squad car.

He'd been with the department for 35 years.

...Okay, look, it's a stressful job; we get that. Way too many public safety workers find life easier to take through the bottom of a bottle. But in light of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department's ongoing embarrassment over intoxicated officers, wouldn't it behoove department members to take extra care to at least observe the 11th Commandment, if not The Pledge?

Watch the watchmen? Guard the guardians? Oh, that's long past. We're gonna have to figure out who'll cut them off before they go a glass to far -- or confiscate their car keys if it's too late for that.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Most Something Woman In The World

She looks better waking up than you do after all day at the spa.

It is said that her touch can cure...bacon.

Clerks fight one another to wait on her.

In the altiplano, they claim she tames llamas with a stern look; in Tibet, they say the same thing regarding Lamas.

She has been known to bicycle without wearing a helmet -- or bothering to perspire.

She has never needed to iron anything.

She is...that annoying person they claimed you could grow up to be just like...if only you would apply yourself.

(I still dunno how one achieves a flawless complexion via sheer willpower but I remain somehow convinced I otta be able to).

Sunday, June 17, 2012

PS: .32-20 Cowboy Loads

Cowboy loads and plain ones; I'd also brought my Colt .32-20 to the range and ran through several different kinds of ammo, a couple of different "cowboy" loads, some Tam-surplus* Georgia Arms stuff and an old box of commercial pistol ammo.

Conclusion? It's fun to shoot and at 7 yards, any of 'em work fine. Ever since returning from Coal Creek Armory, the little revolver has just run and run, and shoots just exactly as well as the shooter can aim. Given the remarkable Colt DA trigger, that's better'n I have any right to expect as a relative newcomer to revolver shooting.

You can't even look at .32-20 for any less than $30 a box of 50 (!!!) but I'm getting at least 65 cents worth of fun from every round -- and saving all my brass.
* Tam is to obscure ammo as I am to older vacuum tubes; at gun shows, I mention, "I'm looking at a Nnnn," and she nods and avers, "I think I've got a couple hundred rounds for that," .38-200, or S&W Short or .117 Webley Electric or whatever.

Pull The Pin!

...Pull the pin, that is, to load it.

I rode my motorscooter to the range yesterday, my longest trip so far this year (I'll get back to that) and a fun one, given the sweeping curves along Kessler Boulevard. I did not so much enjoy the gusting breezes at the open field of the WXLW transmitter site,* but that's how it rolls.

"Pictures or it didn't happen," you say?Okay.

Besides the usual reasons (loud noise, small holes in distant pieces of paper and big fun), I wanted to check out a recent acquisition, an H&R model 623 "pull-pin" .22 revolver. It was inexpensive and simple; I didn't expect much. Anyway, chrome-plated like that, it was cute and collectible.Surprise! It shoots a treat! The sights are set up "cowboy," with point of aim just atop the skinny front blade rather than covered by it, but as soon as I had figured that out, the little plinker was turning out nice, tight groups.

Considering it's not unusually heavy, felt recoil is 'stonishing low, lower than the 6"-barrelled High Standard Sentinel I'd also brought. The "pull-pin" system is less frustrating than you'd think; pull the pin and the cylinder drops right out, then the pin is used to operate a conventional ejector star; loading is easy and you push the cylinder back in place and run the pin home. Or return to the frame empty and use a little loading notch on the right side, if you're the fretful sort or range rules require; either way, you do have to mind muzzle direction and finger proximity throughout the process. Fast? Not especially, though the guy with a Nagant revolver will envy you. --Which reminds me, DA trigger pull on the H&R 623 is like butter, smooth and easy. (I didn't try it in SA; that's just not how I use revolvers).

A great deal of fun and an excellent value. If you encounter an H&R pull-pin revolver for sale (they made several models, built the things for decades) and you were wanting a nice plinker, give it a look.

On scootering: the intersection of Kesseler Blvd. and Georgetown St. is accident-prone; I arranged to arrive the on red and went through with other traffic. But the worst I have seen and one reason I've not been riding to and from work other than low-thryroid-induced fatigue is the degree of damfoolishness I have observed this year. Evenings on my way home, some yahoo along College keeps popping out of a stopsigned cross street in the 4000s and making a sweeping 90 through traffic (two lanes coming from his left, one from the right) to slam-bang into a parking space. It's a festival of brakelights and singing tires and he'll survive unhurt just as long as everyone else has their wits about them -- but I have no interest in taking a small motorscooter though there. I figure I'll wait 'til he's made his appointment with Fate. Alas, he is only the worst of a lousy crop. It's offputting. Still, I hope to start riding to work more -- scooter, bicycle, whatever. Need to take a different route.
*A classic old-school building, now with a lot of open space around the teeny-weeny modern 5 kW transmitters; in its day, it housed a gigantic RCA transmitter, a nice workshop and kitchenette -- plus a miniscule apartment, just in case a transmitter operating engineer got snowed in out there in the sticks! Nowadays, you could just stroll over to the stripmall next door for lunch, or hike a little farther on city-plowed streets to a motel. The site is on the linked map, just a bit west of the intersection.

Good Morning!

I'm sleeping in. Rode the scooter to Eagle Creek Pistol Range yesterday midday and had a great time with an old H&R .22 revolver -- photo to follow. But I was plenty tired after the long trip in the heat. Still catching up!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

John Carter: Underpromoted By The Mouse

Kaor, Jasoomians!

Doggone it, if Walt's kids were gonna bother to make the film, why didn't they promote it worth a damn?

I watched John Carter on the Roku this afternoon.

While they rearranged the plot (or plots) of A Princess of Mars somewhat -- looks like they were after sharpening the conflict and playing up the wheels-within-wheels aspects Burroughs developed -- they treated the original characters with respect. Sadly, if you didn't already know Kantos Kan, as cheerfully go-to-hell a warrior as any before or since, you might overlook him and the complex personality of Tars Tarkas isn't given as much attention as I would have liked. (Some people have complained there were too many Tharks. I dunno; you do need enough to maintain a viable breeding population.) The original story has a kind of Victorian/Edwardian feel and ethos and it probably should have been treated as even more of a period piece than it was -- in this context, read "period piece" as "wholesome adventure," in which mad notions like Honor, Duty, Square Dealing and True Love drive the story. Captain John Carter of Virginia may be tormented but he's not angsty.

The Martian "dog" is a spot-on bit of Burroughs business, froggy face and all. --Wide shots of ancient, ruined Mars (whoa, is that a cliff or a building?) capture very much the sense of the planet I picked up from the books and Helium is plausible -- I'm not so sure about the crawling predator city of Zodanga, which I think gets more screen time than it merits. On the other hand, Dejah Thoris looks just about exactly as I pictured her. John Carter? Not as experienced-looking as he ought to be but the actor did his best; it's not the poor guy's fault nothing's uglied him up any.

But a better film than its box-office returns implied and a real treat for anyone familiar with the books. Sadly, we're not likely to get any more, at least this go-round. A lot of the blame for that has to go to Disney, which had changes at the top between approving the film and releasing it, and which seems to have shied away from spending very much to tell people about it.

...Dammit, it's Barsoom. How could they have treated this film like a red-headed stepchild? Yet they did; it's on pay-per-view now and will be at your local or online video store shortly. Buy it. Watch it. It's two and a quarter hours of good entertainment.

What Have I Been Reading?

Ah, what? --Richard A. Lupoff's fascinating work, Master of Adventure: the Worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Marblehead, a work of fiction in which Nazis try to recruit H. P. Lovecraft (do they succeed? Read it and find out!), followed by Tarzan of the Apes (Tarzan 3, Apes 0 but I haven't got to the final innings yet). Marblehead very gracefully weaves between pulp and fact; I would recommend it to any HPL fan.

Next, most of Dianne Day's "Fremont Jones" books, light detective fiction with a female protagonist set in turn-of-the-century San Francisco -- 19th turning to 20th, that is. I suspect her of occasional mild anachronism (very difficult to avoid, given the rate of change both technological and social) and would like it if the detecting were a bit harder-edged, but in a sub-sub genre so thoroughly dominated by Amelia Peabody* (a creation of Elizabeth Peters), Fremont manages to hold her own.

--And yet more detective fiction: a couple of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files books. I enjoyed the television series and while the fellow in the TV set is not quite the same Harry Dresden met in the books (as is so often the case), the in-print original is better drawn; very much the hard-boiled type...who just happens to be a wizard. I'll keep an eye open for these, which are a nice fit with the work and worlds of F. Paul Wilson (Repairman Jack) and Larry Correia (Monster Hunter, Hard Magic). Good stuff.

Paul Malmont's sequel to The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril (which followed a group of well-known pulp writers in the process of Averting Disaster) is The Astounding, the Amazing, and the Unknown, which picks up a bit after the previous book. The first one was fast-paced and fun and he has only gotten better. There is some overlap in characters but you'll know this batch from Campbell-era science fiction and most readers will recognize the time and place. Malmont quite deftly weaves in real events and locations -- and para-real ones -- to take the reader on, you'll forgive me, a Thrilling Adventure. He did his homework and it shows, but he never allows the story to falter over it. Highly recommended!

On the subject of hard-boiled detection and Astounding Thrilling Wonder Amazing Stories of Adventure, I chanced on mention of Ron Goulart's work documenting pulps, specifically Cheap Thrills!, a lavishly illustrated and lovingly written history of the pulps. I've enjoyed his often-zany fiction for years but had not realized his interest in and writings on the history of pulps and comics. Cheap Thrills! is good stuff.

...Plus a lot of items from the 99-cent bin at the Kindle store, which is putting many of the pulp-era writers back into print. There's quite a lot of Murray Leinster out there, much of it very enjoyable. (For example: Space Station and Space Tug, early 1950s YA novels, introduce large-scale MIM and heavy cargo launch via piloted, air-breathing jet engine first-stage boosters plus strap-on solid-fuel second stages -- and a ground-launched fully-assembled space station! Plot and characterization is a bit weak and pulpy, but it's good fun.)

As ever, if any of this appeals, try the Amazon link at Tam's -- helps her pay the rent and costs you not a cent more.
* Although it strains series canon significantly, I strongly recommend her H. Rider Haggard-esque The Last Camel Died At Noon, as over-the-top a Victorian adventure fantasy as you will ever read. Amelia herself is-- for me, reading those books is like spending time with Mom and her sisters; I barely knew my maternal grandmother but she must have had many traits in common with the fictional character.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Yats! Goooood Food

There is such a thing as a free dinner -- but it arrives unexpectedly and the pantheon member who is in charge of them is Joe at (the wonderful!) Yats.

When I drove home last night, there was a food truck (possibly Taco Lassi) at Fresh Market, a nice bike ride from Roseholme. Well, I have been being very good about what I eat and it was about time for a treat. So I pitched the idea to Tam, who agreed despite having spent a good chunk of the mid-day walking around Broad Ripple Village, hunting and/or gathering lunch.

We were, however, manifestly out of sync, with various tasks and ablutions to accomplish. It was twenty minutes later before we set off, perhaps not in as good a mood as we should'a and when we arrived -- no truck. See, there's this about food trucks: they only carry X much in the way of raw materials; when the cupboard is bare, that's it for the day. Business had been good....

"No problem," sez I, "we'll get Cajun takeout at Yats!" They're right down the block (and in three other places around town, too!). We parked the bikes, trotted in, scanned the blackboard and made our choices -- as owner Joe popped out of the kitchen with a big smile, to ask, "How ya doin'? Still got that scooter?" in his trademark Nawrlins growl. We were fine, and I still did, and there was much good feeling all 'round; he slipped back to work and we told the nice fellow behind the counter what we wanted. They'd just run out of my first choice -- not a problem, the menu is filled with tasty delights -- so I had to pick another; dug out my pocketbook as Tam ordered and when the counterman looked back at me, he shook his head. "Oh, no," says he, "your dinner's on Joe! -- be sure and get something to drink!"

And that's Broad Ripple and that's Joe -- Yat's was well over three-quarters full and the neighboring establishments (Jazz Kitchen's eclectic mix, Mediterranean at Sam's, pub grub at a couple other places) were doing as well, dinner-hour in full swing, and the pure glow of beneficence was shining down; we just happened to wander into it. It's the kind of thing that reminds you life's too short to not stop and enjoy it.

Pozole Stew and Sucka-tash for me (the latter with hominy!), Chili cheese étouffée with crawdiddies for Tam -- and after a feed like that, if you are not yourself suffused with the warm beneficent glow, you ain't human.

How Urban Legends Are Born

Remember? "Put a caffinated aspirin in a short Cola and you'll get high if you drink it!" --Yeah, or just chug a few triple espressos.

I'm waitin' for the first teen to show up at the ER burping soap bubbles, 'cos Medical Science has just discovered that some kinds of baby wash make the little blighters test positive for marijuana. Yup, newborn babies from nice, dope-free families -- you there, stop snickering, not everyone you know is a stoner -- are coming up positive for THC, much to the consternation of parents and social workers.

Turns out if you check 'em with a slower, better test, they test clean; the super-mild soap merely triggers a false positive result. But that's not gonna stop some kid from chuggin' a bottle of Baby Wash just to make sure; it's just a matter of time.

(In other news: hospitals are routinely screening newborns for dope? Geesh. Big Brother is watching and he wants you to wee in this cup. Which isn't too easy if they're watching.)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

What Profiteth It A Man...?

Yeah, yeah, Conan the Barbarian climbed to the top on a pile of skulls and rode through blood; Robert E. Howard lived in his Mom's house.

Politics makes people sociopathic -- somebody linked to an article on the subject recently but I can't find it again. Thing is, it's true; when we form up sides and fight over Ideas, it's wired right into us to forget that the men and women espousing ideas we oppose are still people and it's just as easy for them to do the same to us.

The problem is that unchecked, that's a short bus-ride to the killing fields and gulags, to death marches and concentration camps, to rock-throwing, city-burning riots.

There's damn-all you can do about the other guy when blood runs hot but we're each the keepers of our own heart and conscience. No matter the battle or the stakes, if you give in to the damn-fool notion that the other guy is a shadow-puppet of monstrous forces, to be brought down by any means, you lose. Even if you win, you still lose.

I'm tempted to call it Josh-Horowitz Syndrome, based on his histrionically-overblown loathing of the National Rifle Association, but that's too easy. (It's always easiest to see this happening to people on The Other Side; but they're not special; a spin of the radio dial finds demonization Right and Left). --I'm tempted to call it Carrie-Nation Syndrome, the belief that with an ax to smite the tools of the wicked -- and perhaps the wicked themselves -- a new and wonderful era can be brought to fruition. (How'd that work out? Oh, yeah, widespread scorn for law, police and the justice system, plus rise of the Mafia. Not exactly as predicted.) Again: too easy.

The real world is messy. People are always going to disagree about means, ends and basic philosophies. Accepting that you can't hammer 'em all into your own chosen mold, what do you do? Me, I dunno, but comin' up with ways to limit the damage we can do one another looks like a good first step; and perhaps that's the true genius of a Constitutionally-limited government. It would certainly explain why that notion is anathema to the farthest-out elements of the Left/Right political spectrum.

Fight? Sure -- fight over ideas. Not people; it's practically a foregone conclusion that J. Random Politician is a twisted, power-hungry jerk, but that's not because he's a member of $POLITICAL_PARTY, it's because practically all politicians are that way. And they always have been; which is another good reason to limit their power.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Summertime Quencher

Last night, I made fresh-squeezed lemon-limeade with garden mint. That plus water and sugar to taste. I thought it tasted pretty good; Tam says it's great. I just bruised the mint leaves slightly and threw them in the jug. Highly recommended!

Diary Entry From A Parallel World

Day 14, aboard the Suburbia et Suborbia, somewhere over Lower Ohio - Every hour, the howling and grabbing becomes worse, and it is all over bacon grease. On the zeppelin's main deck this morning, two of them were fighting over a cooked sausage skin while neglecting essential work. I fear I have fallen into the hands of cheesemongers and incompetent monkey smugglers. I will never book a flight through Ed's Bait & Travel again. Never!

Here And Gone In An Eyeblink

We're only temporary structures. We're only here for a little while -- which is why we ought to be nicer to one another; it's not like the annoying folks will be here forever.

The good ones often are gone before you you know it and so it is with Indiana Blogger John S Mengel, "Crazy Unc," who I only heard about after he'd left (fighting all the way!). There will be a memorial party for his friends in Seymour on the 16th.

Another good one lost: Indiana University's Elinor Ostrom, an economist who went out and looked at how people actually solved problems. This led her to the (perhaps surprising to many academics) conclusion that the "tragedy of the commons" didn't require Leviathan to avert, that normal folk were capable of self-organization in their long-term self-interest. --It's that whole "got out there and looked at the real world" thing that caught my eye. Theory's fine but practice is where most folks spend all their time. I couldn't tell you a thing about her politics but it sounds as if she was an honest observer, and that's a rare breed. One more voice pointing out we don't need to feed every dang thing through The Beast is a marvel -- a Nobel-laureate economist poli-sci Ph.D.* doing so and backing it with hard data is a treasure.
* But she won the dynamite money for economics. And may have snuck up on the idea of users managing their resources from the Left -- hey, I don't care how they get there, as long as they do.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Esperanto? Interlingua? No! Esce Tu Parla Lingua Franca Nova?

I was looking up info on a recently-passed and fascinating I.U. professor -- a woman who showed "the tragedy of the commons" doesn't require a government to prevent (shock!), about whom I'll have more in the morning -- and stumbled over an "auxiliary language" with the fastest learning curve I have ever seen. It looks to me as long as you can speak English or one of the major Continental languages, you could be up to basic competence in an afternoon; which means you could get a group of people with no common language on the same page in a screamin' hurry.

Might be a handy thing to bookmark. Thank you, Dr. Boeree. (Yeah, yeah, we talk English here in the 'States -- but every once in awhile, you need to buy some donuts or stove bolts [etc.] from someone who doesn't and who may not live here, either. Pointing works pretty well -- works a treat at the Mexican bakery, in fact -- and pictures and numbers will take you a long way but a pidgin like this is a quick next step.)

Speaking Of Holidays (And Their Names)

...Juneteenth is only a week away. This holiday is noteworthy in a couple of non-obvious ways:

- Nobody's renamed it. Well over a hundred years old and the lily-livered teacup-and-lace-curtain set who turned Decoration Day into Memorial Day, flipped Armistice Day to Veterans Day, watered Independence Day down to a mere "4th of July," smashed Washington and Lincoln's birthdays into "President's Day" and are going after Columbus Day have somehow managed to not tinker. Perhaps they find the joyous anarchy of the word off-putting (in which case, well done, emancipated Texans!).

- It also hasn't been slid to one end or the other of the week. It's stubbornly fixed on 19th June, year after year.

There's a lot to be said for that.

Update: So, I've been asked how one should celebrate. Well, gee. Traditionally, there's a parade, but you could hire someone who's never worked for wages to do a job they already know how to do. If the laws where you live will let you -- plenty of kids need their first lawnmowing job, y'know. Now imagine that kid is, oh, 45. Sort of give you some notion of the spirit of the day.

The Horror Of User Fees!

OMG! There's an office where you have to pay to use the fridge and microwave? Summon the militia! Fetch the People's Guard! Such creeping exploitation must be stamped out!

Yep, there is such an office. It's the state Medicaid office, where the downtrodden government employees must shell out $7.00 a year to use the breakroom appliances. Seven. Dollars. A. Year!

How can they bear up under the burden?

Why is easily answered: as a matter of policy, our doesn't supply refrigerators or microwaves to any of their offices unless it's staffed 24 hours a day. Offices working the more usual government hours can have appliances donated...but they are not owed 'em. So, one office collects dues? So what. If it cuts down on the orphaned half-bottles of milk and well-aged sandwiches, it may be a boon.

But breakroom appliances are certainly not a right.

Class, in these days of a lousy economy, what group is not feeling so much of a pinch? What (non-productive) sector of the economy keeps growing and growing? Hint: it's not manufacturing. It's not service industries. And you pay 'em under threat.

Seven bucks to rent fridge and 'wave space? Gee, it sure beats not havin' a job and having to hang out in the other place where you have to pay for the kitchen appliances and pay to keep 'em running: home. Or hanging out there 'til the bank forecloses on it, anyway. I wonder what the user fees are like for space at a trash-can fire under a bridge?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Yet More Starshipping

Bit of a space plague, apologies to George O. Smith. I think I had it this past weekend.

Just In Time For Stonewall Day*

...Outrage at a small-town church! Somebody posted a video on YouTube, showing a very young boy singing in the church about how "..ain't no homo gonna get into heaven..." to applause from parishioners and next thing y'know, Sunday dawns all crawling with protesters. And some counterprotesting and counter-counter protesting (one guy who wants both sides to go away!).

In fact, the only people who were missing were the congregation. And the preacher. They went elsewhere. Which is one way to deal with an irreconcilable difference.

All this over a five-year-old's opinion of who's got a ticket to an unprovable afterlife? Whew! I guess that means both religious conservatives and LGBT people have managed to fix all the serious issues!

...Um, right?


Motes, logs, eyes, all that sort of thing. Imagine if they'd'a all put the effort into feeding the hungry instead of worrying what'll happen to 'em after they're dead!

(Homework assignment: Pohl and Kornbluth's "The World Of Myrion Flowers." Off-topic? Are you sure?)
* I will note that PR flacks have managed to push an actual, you know, riot, into the background and renamed it Pride Day. Retconning: every group does it.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Free To...

Free to whatever.

Seems there has been some drama and back-and-forth about a female gun-blogger getting herself injured doing hand-to-hand training. Folks are saying it's a good idea, or a bad idea or--

Hey, you know what it is? It's somebody else's idea. It neither picks my pocket nor does it break my leg. I'm not even gonna say, "be careful out there." Make up your own mind about how careful you want to be. The only way most people learn is when reality walks up and whacks 'em; and, knowingly or not, we pick our own lessons. Some leave scars.

Edited to add -- Unk and I know the difference between "I wouldn't do that" and "You shouldn't do that" but this world has way too many folks who don't.

(Me, I might want not-hitting-people lessons. I have a temper and when I lose it, I'm a damn' savage. I'd blame bad examples but I think that's a cheap cop-out. Get me mad and I will step right into your personal space and it goes downhill from there. Since generally in the past I would get my rear kicked even in a hair-pulling match, I try to avoid losing my temper; and I avoid situations where I might. You know what I have learned about self-defense? How to work to dodge the necessity for it and how to recognize when I might have to. The next time someone points a firearm at me and asks for my purse, at least I'll have ended up there aware of the risk I was running. But I would prefer not to. I'm neither a wimp nor a Xena wannabe and I do not want to be a hybrid pirate/ninja, I just want to walk through this life in minimal blood and drama, ideally none at all: no highs, no lows, no standing up in court -- but I'm not takin' an early exit at the hands of a thug or lunatic. YMMV.)


The Nations You Never Heard Of! (I had, some)

There was a giant statue of The Mighty Og? --Lost in a windstorm, Sick Transit Glorioski Monday ("The bus is in the shop but the work week is starting with great weather").

Who thought this was a good name? No. Just no.

Robert Green Ingersoll, snarking with class: "Nations with a good soil can get along with an exceedingly poor religion...." ("...Reply To His Critics In The N. Y. 'Evening Telegram'," pg. 9, 1892)

Also, one man's plans for the prevention of uninvited aeronauts. Huzzah, says I, huzzah!

Road Trips I Should Take

Really ought to go see General Lew Wallace's Study in Crawfordsville. Fascinating building, filled with books and bookshelves, a lovely survival of a vanished time.

Lew Wallace? He wrote Ben-Hur -- the inspiration for which was a conversation with outspoken agnostic Robert Green Ingersoll.*

He did not, however, write it in that study; it came long after the book, which probably helped fund its construction.

FWIW, Ben-Hur was a best-seller and helped reverse a trend toward more conventional novels of everyday life in favor of historical/adventure fiction: we may have Lew Wallace to thank for Tarzan and John Carter of Mars, at least in part.
* The best-selling book is considered, "the most influential Christian book of the nineteenth century." Perhaps to the surprise of Colonel Ingersoll. Which only goes to show that while good oratory may be moving, it doesn't necessarily move the audience in the direction the orator intends.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Something New At I Work On A Starship

A little vignette, with photo illustrations: a visit to one of Lupine's main radar units. Which was not working. Because mo-rons can't find light switches and go flipping breakers at random instead. Yeah, that's smart.

Another "Aargh" Morning

Toast, juice and coffee for breakfast and shaddup, a feed like that is considered an indulgent luxury of the idle rich in some parts of the world.

...Up at my Mom's until nearly midnight, trying to sort out computer problems. Left with Malwarebytes chewing its way through the entire system, after a semi-successful Restore to the oldest restore point. I don't know yet if it's fixable without a total wipe and start over or not -- she's picked up something, won't leave the machine off (and doesn't know how to take if offline, downside of wi-fi) and in looking for help, somehow managed to fall into the clutches of a low-rated "service" one step above the malware-installers that advertise on TV and gave 'em online access to her computer before asking a family member if this was a good idea. --Btw, the answer to that would be "no."

(Lovely long three-party conversation with Mom and $Generic Indian Tech-ish Guy. After much faffing about and obfuscation, it came down to: "Miss it is a matter of trust. We support Microsoft. We are BBB-rated. You can Google us." "I did. You're telemarketers. BBB shows plenty of complaints. Online reviews don't say good things." "No, no, there are thousands of errors on this computer. I have found them. All businesses have some complaints. YOU HAVE TO TRUST ME!" "I don't. Mom, do NOT give these guys your credit card number. Raj? You're done here." "But it will only be $299.99 for six month warranty!" "Goodbye, Raj.")

Mom grew up in a somewhat more honest age, where the guy that fixed your furnace might pad the bill a little, but he didn't plant smokebombs in the cold-air return or cameras in the registers. It ain't that way any more.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

The Day After D-Day

Many of the gun-blogs marked 6 June -- and it's a day to never forget. And yet-- War is a terrible business; its first and most evident product is dead and injured people, mostly -- but by no means exclusively -- soldiers.

That's not to say there's nothing worse; there are many things worse. The good guys go to war to stop them and pay a steep price in the doing.

Ernie Pyle stepped ashore in Normandy the day after D-Day; stepped ashore, saw the aftermath and later, let you look through his eyes.

(Article found both at Indiana University's J-school and on Free Republic, btw. There's a lesson there.)

Wednesday, June 06, 2012


They're here!

It was balmy-cool as twilight came to a close. I took my bicycle out for a quick mile (just under -- the Monon trail is closed after dark, patrolled at the "downtown Broad Ripple" end by officers with no sense of humor about exposing oneself to a known trouble-spot, so I stayed on the roads). About once per block, a firefly would respond to my strobing bike headlight with a series of gentle, slow, look-at-me flashes, hovering hopefully just off the street.

Yeah, yeah, they're just bugs -- but they're kinda magical, too. Little floating, self-directed flashes of light? It's a wonder!

Overheard At The Bilderberg Group?

"Sometimes, I feel like a motherless child...other times, I think just a sandwich or a salad would be plenty."


Ipse dixit department: "When people say this is a secret government of the world I say that if we were a secret government of the world we should be bloody ashamed of ourselves." --Denis Healey, founding member/former Steering Committee member. Dammit, Denis, if not mine, at least where's your flying car? Helicopters don't count.

On Gov. Walker, Elections, Monarchs And Common Sense

When I started paying attention to the polling numbers last week, it was obvious to me that no matter how things turned out, there were going to be a lot of cheesed-off Wisconsonians after the votes were counted; a wide variety of sources had the race neck and neck in the home stretch.

At this point, the loser's pet media is too busy spinning to cough up the numbers, so best I can do is cite exit polls, which showed a five percent difference between challenger and incumbent.

With such a close vote, it is important to not read the results too deeply. Tom Barret had already lost once to Scott Walker and I never did see any evidence it was going to be different this time. The sobbing protester on CNN who proclaimed, "Democracy died tonight," need look no further than the mirror: when folks don't trust the results of elections, the game's just about up; I sure hope that's not a widespread sentiment. And the Dems noting, "We sent him a strong message--" What, stronger than packing the state capitol with protesters? Okay, then, as long as you own up that the message is, your side can't quite win on the issue of public-employee unions in the state where they were born.

On the other side of the Great Water, the Brits were cheering on the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. (A surprise to me, I thought you had to be on the throne 75 years to get one of those. Wrong-o: they changed the rules for Queen Victoria. I've probably missed this year's Swan Upping, too. -- Nope, six weeks to go.)

I had a dream the other night that Billie Thomas had been made King of (some part of) the U.S., ruling from Buckwheat Palace, and everything was o-tay -- we'd be on to HRH William II now, since Mr. Thomas passed away in 1980, the same year he'd received a standing ovation from fans when the Our Gang cast reunited at the Sons of the Desert convention. King Buckwheat, you muse? --I think we could do far worse; once the Little Rascals films had run their course, he finished school, did a stint in the Army and wound up back in Hollywood: "Even the big stars had to chase around and audition; it seemed like a rat race to me, with no security." He took a lab tech job at Technicolor instead and worked there until retirement.

If you're not gonna stand by elections even when the results don't go your way, even knowing there's a do-over every two, four or six years, and you're unwilling to give up this crazy idea of "Government" where we sort-of pick some bunch of guys in suits to go idle away in a fancy building, refraining from smoking and making up new rules (more every day!), then you'd better hope you're lucky enough get King Buckwheat and not Pol Pot or Idi Amin. Me, I'd be happy just scaling back the power of Governors and Legislators, Presidents and Senators to go messing about with your life -- and mine. But I guess it's too easy to fume about how the other guys stole the election and will probably roll out the tanks next Tuesday. Oh the predictable horror. Tuesday comes, tankless, and by then it's a whole new news cycle: ooh! Transit of Venus!* Smog alert! Elected Officials Behaving Badly! Shiny!
* I am so glad that turned out to not be a euphemism.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Full-Motion Tilt-Shift

Or, The French Forces as Toy Soldiers. Have a look!

Functional Art Is Functional

Look, the international-symbolic labeling clearly says "keys and large watch." I'm just following directions.

BlogMeet Images

The ol' gang:
The ol' Giant Tenderloin and (it's piped in, you know, and they use a cast-iron pipe) The...Butler...Dog! With fries.

You should'a been there! (I'm told we narrowly missed Og and maybe Partner and/or Rich of the Garage. Next time?)

Monday, June 04, 2012

Tam: Cartoon Graphic Narrative Heroine

Tam's in Day By Day! I don't know how she fit that into last weekend -- she said she was just going to the movies with Shootin' Buddy!

BlogMeet/Gun Show In Brief, And I'm Off

...Off to the doctor, that is, bright and early, for some more blood work (to see if the thyroid meds are doing what they should) and to talk about the...interesting...routine test I had earlier (and won't have to again for a decade). So I can't write a whole lot until maybe later.

Took my motorscooter to the gun show and then to the BlogMeet, hooray! --Longest trip of the season so far.

The Indy 1500 was another good one, though the big booksellers had been sidelined in the South by truck trouble. (I missed them -- they have a lot of good firearms-type books and one of the most wide-ranging politics sections I've seem, from Chomsky and Marx to Rand and way farther right). Table layout was a little more open; it appeared they'd made the center lane a bit narrower and widened the rest. Saw quite a few interesting arms, purchased only ammo. Colt revolvers seem to be trending up, though most of what I saw on offer was collector-grade, often too pretty to shoot.

The BlogMeet was good, too -- Tam, Nathan, Mr. and Mrs. Shomes, Old Grouch, The Jack, Don, and new attendee Fast Richard. The kitchen staff at Plump's Last Shot wondered at the sudeen uptick in orders for their bacon-wrapped, deep-fried Butler Dog -- yes, that was us. (Photo and links will have to wait, sorry). Interesting conversation this time, including How Not To Invade A Small Island and The Jack's recent ka-boom...which he covers in some detail. Link

Sunday, June 03, 2012

And The Best Part Is, He Put Scorn Quotes Around "Science-Based"

"He" is a real live, genuine college professor, with a Ph.D. (in a science, not English Lit or Education) and everything, sort of guy you'd think might be into that whole "science" thing, a fellow one might address as Dr. Lame, and he tells us that Dick Nixon's worst legacy, the poor, beat-up Environmental Protection Agency, has been reduced by intense lobbying and the horrors of Congressional oversight (you remember, that thing we elect Congressbeings to do?) to quivering like a high-bred chihuahua, hiding under the front stairs, wetting themselves. (Sound crazy? Sound disrespectful of actual victims of actual abuse? You're not the only one thinking that.)

Yes, amazingly, that "abused child" is very same agency you and I know as the gang who kicked the Sacketts out of their dream home before the foundation was dug. 'Cos the building lot -- in among others already built on -- was a "wetland." Threatened them with huge fines unless they turned it back into a scrubby vacant lot at their own expense. The EPA maintained the agency didn't have to answer for it in court, they'd made a decision and that was that: comply now or be fined and still have to comply. Eventually, the U. S. Supreme Court disagreed, at least on the "couldn't be taken to court over it" part -- and so now the happy couple, having already had to argue their way to the top, has the Court's blessing go sue...a Federal Agency with an army of attorneys and pet experts. Here's one pair of citizens experience of Dr. Lame's "Agency...too terrified to do it's job:"
“The EPA used bullying and threats of terrifying fines, and has made our life hell for the past five years. It said we could not go to court and challenge their bogus claim that our small lot had ‘wetlands’ on it. As this nightmare went on, we rubbed our eyes and started to wonder if we were living in some totalitarian country.”
Yeah, poor little EPA. Being forced to use "'science-based' studies" and actually stand up in court and defend their takings of private property, instead of relying on speculation and deeeeep intuitions about Mother Gaia.

My heart fair bleeds.

Or does that count as the unapproved discharge of an untested biologically-active fluid?

Good Morning To You

Good morning to you/We're all in our places with bright, shiny faces/good morning to you.

Brightest and shiniest of all, Tam's cat.

Rannie the cat begged bacon grease and a little of the skin from my half-a-mettwurst this morning. She's quite insistent about the grease -- I fried up three strips of bacon to divide between two adults (then realized the sands of time were about to run out on the remaining mettwurst) and by golly, she was going to get her fair share, no matter what names she had to call me! It's about as vocal as she gets, with the occasional swipe at my foot as I walk by if she thinks I haven't noticed her complaints.

Scraps of sausage skin, on the other hand, cause The Rannie to go bipedal and hold onto my hand with great and clawless delicacy, lest she miss out on any of it.

Afterward, it's time for a cat-bath. Roseholme Cottage features one of the few bacon-scented cats!

Meanwhile, Huck the Miniature Broad Ripple Biting Tiger has been prowling his domain. He spurns grease, preferring nice crunchy kibble. From a distance, moving through dappled sunlight on the oak floor, his stripes are an effective camouflage -- then when he moves closer, I find myself amazed all over again: his back is almost as high as the seat of the couch! For a housecat, he's huge. Which is why I think of him as a very tiny tiger, instead.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

American Taliban

It's out there. Mostly it hangs out in Margaret Atwood's most feverish worries, dark corners of The Internet and seedy little gatherings of wild-eyed lackwits.

But every once in awhile, it tries to send me fanmail.

It can just piss right off, too. There's a lovely scene in the Howard Koch script for The War Of The Worlds:
STRANGER: [...wild plans about grabbing power in the chaos the Martian invasion has produced...] We'd bring everybody down to their knees!
PIERSON: That's your plan?
STRANGER: You, and me, and a few more of us we'd own the world.
PIERSON: I see. . .
STRANGER: (FADING OUT) Say, what's the matter? . . . Where are you going?
PIERSON: Not to your world. . . Goodbye, stranger. . .

Yeah, what he said: "Not to your world. Goodbye, stranger. And get lost!"

The most recent screed hares off on a tangent I'd never seen laid out before: the loonies are a-tellin' me in the Christian Bible -- and I'm bettin' you had best get out your King James -- right there in the lists of rules about not paradin' yourself around in wool-cotton blends or enjoying a nice lobster bisque and how to be stonin' women to death for what men do to 'em, in alllllll those rules that it really does take an actual Rabbi to figure out, there is a spot where The Lord sayeth men are expressly forbidden from legislating -- and calls for His fave punishment for those who try: stoning to death.

So the American Taliban's take on this is first to suggest that millions of people should march on Washington and put things to rights (see "Army, Bonus" for how that works-- the Occupiers generally got off easy -- and please tell me why, if you can get that many people agreeing, they can't accomplish the same thing at the ballot box?) and second to suggest folks should "kill politicians one by one until the 'government' collapses," adding a list of all the addresses for every member of Congress, with advice like, "...Congress members are soft targets..." and "Don't worry too much about getting caught, but plan to get away. After the Revolution, all those unjustly imprisoned will be released."

Bull. Shit. Ladies, gentlemen, I direct your attention to Exhibit B, a very large stone carving of the phrase "USEFUL IDIOT." And as for "the Revolution," I would like you all to examine carefully Exhibit C: the nation of Afghanistan, a country once poised on the verge of their own unique modernity, torn by internal struggle and Soviet invasion, thrust back by an assortment of home-grown forces and when the by-the-book olde-tyme-religionists ended up on top, they closed schools, locked women into purdah, clamped down hard on a free press, gutted civic institutions and blew up priceless historical artifacts. Yes, that's a mindset you can trust with your future. If you'd like another example,* the Russian Revolution followed by the Communist takeover and the purges that followed: IMO, Communism is a religion, too, and the useful idiots got what they always get: short shrift at best, more often a bullet in the back.

Y'know what? My country has way more government than I think it ought; my country appears to me to be teetering on the brink while the politicians ignore the real issues -- but I will be damned if I will help push it over. Or sit back while you try.

History tells me we will be lucky to see Republic become Empire and luckier still if it is largely benevolent; it could just as easily become ongoing, bloody civil war. I guess those fans didn't pay much attention to my Memorial Day post, didn't realize which war was our bloodiest -- and on a per-capita basis, the War Between the States is still the bloodiest even if you only count the deaths on one side or the other. We were a century trying to recover and it can be argued that some portions of the States still haven't; the warpage to the Federal government as a result of that mess may be irreversible and the American Taliban wants to do it again?

No. Hell no. Add me to your "naughty" list. I ain't a-going back into the kitchen for no man nohow, let alone livin' by any of the other old sheepherder's zillion rules for wimmen in the Old Testament, and I'm not letting you or your dupes go annoy the innocents livin' in Dickie Lugar's old house or even the Senator himself: we voted him out fair and square, the way civilized people do it.

You wanna wash something up in lamb's blood, you stick to real baby sheep. It'll give you something to do while you wait for the FBI.

I know plenty of religious folk who aren't crazy and I thank their God or Gods each and every day for 'em, 'cos I figure they are counterbalancing the kind of loons who sent me that letter.
* Call that mess Exhibit D, I guess, and what's Exhibit A? The letter itself, filled to the brim with crazy, dire warnings, misread Bible quotes and blood.

Bisard Latest: IMPD Idiots, Not Crooks

That's what the FBI concluded: IMPD, the huge, streamlined, 21st-Century police force has Keystone Kops policies and procedures for handling certain types of evidence.

(All across the county, criminal defense attorneys are suddenly reviewing cases with an eye to appeal.)

So, the Feds claim, it wasn't the thin blue line being thicker than blood; it was just mental thickness? Like that's better?

Even inside IMPD, some police have a problem with that: "The families of the victims and the victims themselves have got to be just beside themselves. I mean, I don't blame them for not having any confidence in the police department. We're not making ourselves look very good here," says FOP nabob Bill Owensby.

Ipse dixit. And this doesn't even cover the most recent report of sloppy handling of the evidence.

(Dammit, most IMPD officers are honest enough, fair enough, decent enough -- but there are bad apples in that barrel and the rot will spread unless rooted out. It doesn't matter, really, if it's bumblers or malfeasers, they need to get the boot and quickly.)

Mixed (Up) Media

Headlines at a local Indy news site:Oh, mixed signals, are they?

Right. 'Cos A-U-G-E-R-I-N-G I-N is so hard to spell.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Friday Blank

...Which is what I'm drawing. So it's a good thing I'm a writer, not an artist.

The Indy 1500 Gun and Knife Show is on, starting this afternoon and running through Sunday late afternoon. You should go.

BlogMeet Sunday!

It's official:

Sunday, 3 June 2012, 3:00 p.m. at Plump's Last Shot.