Tuesday, April 30, 2013

"Those People -- They're All Alike"

     Or so it it seems; and it seems that way to a whole lot of "us's" when they look at even more "thems."  It turns out this is true any time you have an "us" and a "them." It's called "out-group homogeneity," meaning you can tell your cousins apart a whole lot better than tourists from Micronesia can -- and vice-versa.

     The Unwanted Blog was marvelling at the sameness of a bunch of Korean beauty-pageant contestants; on closer inspection they're really quite different to one another, or at least as different as any group of beauty pageant contestants ever is.  Still, in the official photos they're been filtered multiple times for general First World standards of "beauty" (nice smile, glowing complexion, neither too thin nor too plump, straight teeth, cute noses, pretty hair, etc. etc.), applied the very standard makeup and then, for those of us who don't happen to be Korean, run smack up against the out-group homogeneity effect. Bingo, at first glance they're peas in a pod -- even though they're not.

     It's interesting (or, if you happen to be doing business or swapping gossip across a social-cultural-political-racial gap of much significance, frustrating) and one bit of fallout is that it's also a lot harder to read out-group facial expressions and body language; time and familiarity will wear such barriers down but it's not fast.

     Which leads to an interesting conclusion: "bussing" schoolkids for the express purpose of establishing "racial balance" in schools may've been social-engineering voodoo that ended up with a lot of kids attending schools miles away from home -- but giving little [stereotyped first name A], [stereotyped first name B] through [stereotyped first name Z] a chance to look one another in the eye and spend a some time tryin' to figure out what the kids from the far side of town were getting at was probably time well spent; as adults, they'll be that much less likely to mistake a joke for a threat -- or a threat for a joke.

     And maybe "those people" won't seem quite so much alike.  Might even have to start treatin' 'em as individuals.

     (I've already had a couple of the "You don't know.  Those people were/are dreadful," responses.   A quick read of Tom Brown's School Days, set in early 19th-Century Britain and written within a few years of the setting with very little embellishment of reality -- or, for less-challenging fare, the "Flashman" novels, written in the 20th Cent., set in the 19th and featuring the chief bully from ...School Days with flashbacks, will show that children are all little savages, some a good deal less noble than others.  While it would be nice if one could identify the worst of the lot by the set of their ears or the color of their skin, that's not how it works; and meantime, having gone to school with a student body including persons unlike yourself, you'll at least be all the better at identifying your tormentor in a police line-up.  As for me "not knowing," my Junior High was one of two and my High School the one and only in a town of some 40,000 with a substantial nonwhite population and a history of segregation and lynchings; the most recent race riots at my high school were within two years of my delightful three years there. With over a thousand kids in each class, it was impossible to supervise closely. Imagine what a nice place it was to be shy, gawky, bookish and nearsighted.  I'm not arguing that social engineering was necessarily a good idea, only that it was not without some individual benefit.)

Slow News Day; Officer Bisard Scores A 0.22

     A 0.22 BAC, and he was driving?  Suspended IMPD Officer David Bisard shows how it's (not) done.  That's strictly for professionals, kids; don't try it on the roads -- or even safe at home.  This latest number comes after blood analysis work was completed.

     He is still behind bars, locked up "for his safety" with another officer accused of wrongdoing. (!) Prosecutors are asking to have his bond revoked on the charges from his 2010 crash.

     He's done worse to himself than opposing counsel could ever do.

     And how sad is it when he's the go-to story on a day when I haven't the least notion what to write?

Monday, April 29, 2013

Hommus: Chip Dip

     Sunday, I made a Hamburger Of Doom: good ground round, cooked with just a jot of Worcestershire, served on a nice, crusty artisanal* bun topped with Havarti, sliced orange cherry tomatoes (soooo much better than one big pulpy slice!), a thin bit of onion and a fried egg, along with real chili sauce (beats ketchup six ways from Sunday and snickers at catsup as effete) and brown mustard.

     I had a nice side salad planned and a genuine Moxie to wash everything down, but it needed something more.  Aha! Crinkly chips and French onion dip!  Ooooo!

     Y'know what dip our Fresh'n'Ferengi Market did not have?  Can you guess?  And by then, I was really hankering for the stuff.  What to do, what to do...  H'mm, what's got that taste and makes a good--  And there it was.  Floating on a sea of white light (okay, just the fluro tubes in the cooler): plain Greek hommus!

     If you ask me, it's better than most kinds of French onion dip/sour cream and onion dip.  The sesame-garlic taste works wonders on the humble potato chip and while the mouthfeel isn't quite the same, it does fine.  Besides, mashed chickpeas and sesame paste?  Way better than milk that's been allowed to turn! (YMMV -- ya milk-drinking mutant).

     It made the meal.  --Which was totally indulgent, jumped-up junk food.  "Moderation in all things," right?  Even moderation.
* In fact, I believe every bag contains the complete crust of at least one artisan; but I may have misread that.

Best Ad Slogan This Year

     "Awesome is a color.  We wear it every day."  --That's the tagline for tactical-geekette Espionage Cosmetics, and who's gonna argue when the CEO and Marketing Director's a Marine?  The colors are kinda super and I'm inclined to spend my makeup money with any firm that calls its principals "...the undefeated babes of baddass"

Sunday, April 28, 2013

You Can Spray For Bugthulhu, But It Only Annoys Him

   And it looks like he woke up already:
      Found in the back yard.  In the farthest corner.  That's still not far enough.

Tinfoil Hat, Not: Copy Or Scan Money?

     I guess you can try -- but those bills are cryin' "Stop!" at the machine.  Link goes to the EURion Constellation, and that's just the one that got found out; there are other schemes, count on it.

     The battle between coiners and counterfeiters is at least as old as money and if you count buying a pig in a poke only to let the cat outta the bag, it's probably older.  In the case of mediums-of-exchange, ain't nobody spozed to water it down but Teh Gummint.  They get bent all outta shape when there's competition.

(Suspended) IMPD Officer David Bisard, Arrested Again: DUI

     David Bisard was arrested yesterday after a property damage incident.  Both the citizen who reported it and the arresting officer thought he appeared to be under the influence.  An arrest is not a conviction, but this time we've got his breathalyzer numbers: 0.16, twice the legal limit.

     He's back in jail now.

     It is reported he asked the arresting officer to "give him a break" and promised to never drink again.  Too late; too late by years.

     "Quis custodiet ebrius custodes?"  And who guards us from them?  In this extreme, it appears their nominal peers are on that job, at least when the inebriated one is out of uniform and not driving a police car.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

History: Who Needs It?

     Not little girls, apparently.    The doll company American Girl -- started by a history teacher, bought up by toy giant Mattel, looks to be undergoing a slow, SWPL-friendly makeover.

     While the original article comes at this from the left, bemoaning the dolls aren't radical any more and ends by musing that what the girls of this world really need is an Occupy Wall Street doll* and the original doll line tends to look at history through a very contemporary filter, it is at least, dammit, to some degree historical, with time-period appropriate clothing and fact-based information, not some horribly bland point on the curve of stereotyping that runs from Honey Boo Boo to Marilyn Monroe and ends with kids that have a head fulla inoffensive, ahistoric, vanilla mush.

     Come to that, I'druther see 'em tryin' to Occupy Wall Street, too.  At least they'd stand for something, even if it was addled.  Kid gets interested in a little history, even slanted, they'll likely read further and start to build up a more accurate picture; but they've got to know it's there to be found, first.

     (Many of the remaining historical dolls are PC-ethnic, which you'd think would make The Atlantic happy as clams.  Dropped dolls include ones from the Revolutionary War and Westward Expansion  --They've got a Bobbi and Tam set, too, or close enough.)
* Great, give children one more excuse for not taking a bath?  #WRONG.

I Had "Sleep Late" For Breakfast

     It was delicious!

Friday, April 26, 2013

I'm Big-Apple Suspicious

     Are you wondering at the Bloomberg-convenient story that the Boston Marathon bombers were planning to detonate more bombs in new York City, or is it just me?

     Let's see -- a couple of young adult losers perform what one columnist described as an "idiocratic bombing," make a mess of their escape and then the survivor is interrogated intensely at a time when he can't speak.  So he's in a position where he's getting a whole lot of attention and asking leading questions is only too easy--

     So, he was gonna bomb Times Square, was he?  Why didn't they ask him about the whereabouts of Amelia Earhart or Judge Crater while they were at it?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

"Democracy Lost" Or, Editors Slept Through Civics Class

     Bemoaning the "undemocratic" results* of the latest push for gun control has become a common refrain on the Left.  Even granting their phoney-baloney poll results ("90% in favor of background checks"  -- extrapolated from a small sample via leading questions), it's a meaningless question.  Or worse; because if "Democracy wins," Constitutional government loses.

     "The right to keep and bear arms" like "religion," "the press," "peaceable assembly" and "petitioning the Government for the redress of grievances" is, by express Amendment, not up for a vote.  And yet it was, and the United States Senate was only saved from screwing up the Federal government even worse than it already is by the requirement for a (mild) supermajority.  --Sure, the party with a slim majority condemns this provision but they never forget that some day they, too, may want that power.

     Personally, I don't think it goes far enough.  If 60% is good, why not 75%?  If a measure is so bad that a quarter of Senators vote against it, it's probably pretty bad.

     And on the subject of bad ideas--  The Senate, or a good majority of them, are quite comfy with the notion that nothing is outside their legislative purview.  "There ought to be a law!" is their rallying-cry, not "Are we permitted to make a law about this?"  It doesn't bode well; in the long run, it means we will all lose -- everyone except those with the price of a Senator, anyway.  We can fight to slow the trend, as was so successfully done with the badly-drafted "Universal Background Checks" bill, but we're winning battles in a war we are all losing.

     Keep up the good fight but remember it's a long, long way from won and just as long as Congress believes there's nothing they can't lay holt of, it's not over.  They've been chip, chipping away at the 4th and 5th Amendments for a good long time now, to make you "safe."  Funny, I feel even less safe....
* Link goes to the Concord (NH) Monitor.  With all due respect to the Free State Project and the freely-armed granola-eaters of Vermont, I consider the Northeast a lost cause from Maine to Delaware.  They've largely destroyed or scorned their gun culture. It would take a generation or more to recover, if ever -- and that's not the direction things appear to be trending.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

My Own Worst Enemy

     So, yesterday I'm driving into work, doing a weekday ritual:

     1. Slide passenger seat forward.
     2. Remove small metal case from floor behind seat.
     3. Set case on passenger seat.
     4. Slide passenger seat back.

     I do this while the car is in motion and without looking; subsequent steps are performed only while stopped.

     This time, the completion of Step 4 was marked by, "Pssss...ssss...ssssssssssssssSs...."  Disconcerting.

     I slid the seat forward and reached without looking again, encountered something cylindrical, picked it up, and lifted it around towards me.

     Huge mistake.

     "ssssssssSsss!"  I sprayed "Instant TireFlator" on the right side of my face and got a little in my right eye!  Took a couple of seconds to work out what was going on: the side seam was slightly (!!!) popped and any flexing at all made it open.  "sssSss," indeed.

     I transferred it to my left hand ("SSsss...") and pulled over to the left-side curb, grateful I was on a one way road, and tossed it into a handy trashcan.  ("SSssssssss")  Cleaned my face and eye off as best I could with a paper towel, pondered the time it would take to get to work (less than five minutes, if I timed the lights right) and took off.

     Rinsed out my eye as soon as I arrived, looked up the MSDS for the stuff, and ran through a whole pint bottle of eyewash (naptha and ammonia, eeeee).

      "You have such interesting drives to work," one of my co-workers remarked.  Yeah, ain't they just?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Monday, April 22, 2013

Good Advice If Properly Followed

     Hint: Step one is listed at the top.
     Seen during the Great Peru Roadtrip, and could be yours for a low, low $30.  I passed but I may post a copy of it.

Have A Koch And A Smile

     ...While they have a newspaper.  Or five, including the Chicago Tribune and the L. A. Times.  Yes, the Koch brothers may be looking at buying Tribune Company's newspapers, which the bankrupt media company is selling while they still can, hoping to hang onto to their 23 TV stations (and a cable channel and a radio station) and maybe claw their way back into solvency.

     The Kochs are on the shortlist of possible buyers for the clanking, ink-spatted anachronisms.

     Imagine Reason Magazine as the Sunday supplement!

     Side note, it appears from the bidders cited that running a newspaper is more and more a billionaire's hobby rather than a business.  These days, even a major-market local paper couldn't make money if it was printed on flatbread during a famine; they need owners who can afford to break even or bear a small loss if they're going to continue.  If it's going that way (and it is), it'd be nice to have one or two -- or five -- who weren't owned by George Soro's golf buddies.  If nothing else, the return of some dynamic tension between publisher/owner and the newsroom would help keep 'em all on their toes.

A Little Column A, A Little Column B

     So, last week the Senate did something surprisingly good and stopped ill-considered gun control right in its tracks--

     While the House, that "last bastion of freedom," passed CISPA by better than 2 to 1, which will keep us free of them ol' cyberterrists with, among other things, warrantless searches and snitch-shield laws for your ISP, bank, etc., etc., etc.  Why ask a judge when collaborators are cheap?  It's still got to get through the Senate and if it makes it there, there's the rubber-stam- er, Presidential veto.  Better stop this in the Senate, which -- oh happy day!! -- would mean telling little Chuckie Schumer* "No! BAD boy!" all over again.

     Don't think this hasn't happened before; The Phone Companies have ben deeply in bed with various TLAs since long before you were born -- in bed with them and doing a very good job of keeping it on the down low.   Now the bed is getting bigger -- and official.

     Speaking of "warrantless searches," how 'bout all the wheel-spinnng in Boston? The fruitless shut-down of a major city, followed by Grampa calling the police after noticing the cover loose on his boat and a-- hey, is that a trail of blood?  And this after the photographs of the (alleged, as they say on TV) perps were so successfully crowdsourced, which you might think could be a Helpful Hint about How To Find Malefactors.  Here's hoping someone higher-up has a sudden stroke of insight.  Or of something.
* I'm violating my rule about not making fun of politicans by user-modding their names but if anyone has earned it, he has, having never met a Big Brotherism he didn't embrace; he's also the guy who back in 1991 opposed opening up that DARPAnet thing to the unwashed masses, arguing, "...it would be a waste of the taxpayer's money."  DARPAnet?  You're soaking in it!  It changed its first name to "inter" after moving out of the DOD's basement.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Grissom Air Musem

     Tam and I spent some time at the Grissom Air Museum yesterday, located right at the gate of the former Bunker Hill NAS ("U.S.S. Cornfield"), Bunker Hill AFB, Grissom AFB and present Grissom Air Reserve Base.  (Yes, kids, that's where they keep the reserve air.*)

     She's got pictures of planes all over her blog and Facebook, and knows enough about them to talk sense.  Me, well, I like to look at planes and I recognize some, but if push came to shove, I'd have to spend a lot of time with flashcards before you could send me out to spot MiGs.

     It's a photogenic place:
     In the center, the tower.  Tam did not so very much enjoy the climb.  Me, I'd kinda like to have one of these in the back yard, but I suppose the neighbors would object.

     Snapping the panorama:
      (She's well back from the edge; it was plenty windy and one of us is not so very fond of the heights.  Further, deponent sayeth not.)

     I like this, which shows that wasp-wasted high-speed shape to good advantage:

     It's a good museum, with seriously interactive exhibits indoors (three cockpit simulators you can climb right in: jet fighter, helicopter and transport!) and a small gift shop with interesting items, most of them child-friendly.  And it looks like there's a nice little eatery right across U.S. 31, too (hoping to try it next time I'm up that way).
* My Dad served in the reserve forces, but not the air; when my sibs and I were young, he would ruefully explain, "I was in the Navel Reserve -- four years of spending nearly every weekend plus two weeks a year, sorting, counting and stacking navels."  Then he'd make with the thousand yard stare until we'd go away.  --The stories got even more deceptive as we got older, since he'd actually worked in a gun turret: "I didn't want to tell you kids, but you see, the Navy trained me as a powder room attendant..." 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

So, You Hired An Engineer?

     Or a programmer.  Or most IT guys--  The CNN headline reads, "I hired someone with Asperger's -- now what?"

     Twenty years ago or earlier, many techies were just shy, awkward geeks.  Nobody told 'em they had a "syndrome" or expected them to, I don't know, freak out and start chewing up the carpet.  Nor did anyone think they were all that odd for not being especially sociable (outside their specialty) or athletic.

     The writer of the CNN article offers a well-informed layman's look at the topic and describes very high-functioning "Aspies" -- at which point, unless one has the empathy and breadth of friends of a slug, they're merely nerds.  Uber-nerds, perhaps, but still--  Not exotic space-aliens.

     As someone who comes painfully close to fitting the profile and who just spent over a dozen years working for a guy who manifestly did not (and wasn't comfy with folks who did), I'm both pleased and dismayed to read the CNN article.  As far as I know, I'm just a pretty typical example of Nerdus Technicalis; there's a jillion of us, mumblers who aren't good at eye contact but are happy to spend the day digging into and solving obscure problems that would bore most people to tears.  When did being detail-oriented become a "disability?" 

     Some disability.  Without nerds, our modern, high-tech world would grind to a halt.  Even low-tech doesn't fare so well -- what kind of personalities made armor for the knights of yore, do you suppose?

Drying Out

      That's what the basement is doing.  I ran the sump pump until right before leaving-for-work time, coiled up the hose and power cords, and by the time Tam was back from the doctor,* the floor drain was draining.  I left the dehumidifier on "always on."

     The basement was still pretty damp when I got home from work, but aside from a laundry basket that had ended up in a low spot, things were drying out.

     There's one rainstorm, and it was a doozy, with record flooding to the North of Indy -- Kokomo and Elwood were claiming it was the worst ever.  I don't know about that; photographs of the flooding in 1913 look even worse.  But it's awfully close.

     Here's hoping we don't get rainfall for quite that long and at that rate very often. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Basement Water Update

     Got the water level down to merely "wet" except at the floor drain -- which has valved itself off until the storm/sewer drains return to normal.  A pretty steady trickle of water still entering at all the cracks in the floor, of course.

     Had to tape up cracked spots in the sump pump hose; and it's full-manual, so I can't just leave it running.

     Were I rich--!  But I'm not.

It Rained Last Night

     It was a heavy rain: there's over an inch of water in the basement at Roseholme Cottage.  Seems to be steady. 

     My first efforts with the portable sump pump brought to mind that I was one hose clamp short last time.  The improvised coat-hanger-wire clamp is slightly out of round and, yes, a jet of water sprays out from the tiny gap thus created.

     This is suboptimal.

     So you'll excuse me if I post (while eating breakfast) and run.  I've got to go try taping the thing up; my life will get a lot more complicated if the water gets any higher.

     In the meanwhile, you might want to pop some popcorn, sit back, and enjoy the dimwit bomber (suspect) hunt near Boston.  Gee, that was even quicker than I figured.  (And, look, Ma: no "gun nuts" or "crazed rightwingers" involved!)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Good Morning--

     At least, it is here.  My heart goes out to the people in the town of West, Texas, where an explosion at a fertilizer plant has killed several, injured more and the mess isn't over.  The place is still burning.  Firefighters are exposed to all manner of hazards trying to end the danger, including anhydrous ammonia.  They're going in anyway; fireman were already running towards the fire when the explosion hit.

     For CNN, I have less compassion.  Writing of the dangers, they informed (?) web readers about the danger of anhydrous ammonia, "When exposed to humans, it can cause serious problems."

     I suspect the network of harboring animists.  This would explain much.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

"This Is Just Round One"

     That's what President of the United States says.  Your freedom is the problem; not lunatics, not schools with nobody who can muster a defense, nope, it's you and me and the guns we own.  We're icky.

     Okay.  I'm in it for the long haul.  And I will keep on reminding my Congressbeings that I expect them to stand against gun control and that I'll vote against them if they let me down.

     I wonder if Mr. Clinton remembers what went wrong when he went after guns?  --And if he'd tell Mr. Obama even if he did remember?

     N.B.: Indiana's Joe Donnelly voted for gun control.  Well, gee, Joe, you had to go and rob my chance of splittin' up my Senate votes.  Now howm'I supposed to keep Dan Coats humble?

Wanh Wanh WAHHHH

     [SFX: Sad, laughing trombone]

    Manchin-Toomey went down in flames -- okay, maybe not on fire, but it sank.  Seems there are at least 45 Senators who wanted to be re-elected and/or valued the basic human rights of free trade and self-defense.


     --Just remember, the fight's not over yet and now all sides have had their hornet's nests whacked.  Celebrate, but keep your eyes open.

Historical Artifact?

     I'm pretty sure they still have them hooked up.

Manchin-Toomey: Scrambling For Votes

     Call your Congressthing -- especially in Montana, North Dakota, Lousiana, Arkansas and...Indiana, where Joe Donnelly is still thinkin'.

     It's so cute when they do that.  Hey, Joe, think all you like, but listen, too, especially if you want to keep the job once your first stint is up!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Couldn't Do Anything, So We Went To The Zoo

     Tam and I went to the zoo today, only barely ahead of the rain -- it began to pour down as we approached the Oceans building, last stop on our trip before exiting though the Gift Shop.

     The very first creature encountered could be heard barking a long way off -- one of the graceful pinnipeds, cruising around the enclosure with the others and raising a ruckus.
     Why?  We're not sure, but we think he's a tattletale:
     The very largest of the brood (it's an assortment of rescued seals and sea lions) had snuck over the edge and was napping on the warm concrete of the dry moat between them and the visitors!  Tam and I asked the ticket-booth agent about this.  "Oh, he does that all the time.  It's all right."  --it's not like anyone is going to lift him back in like a kitten into a basket.  That's a whole lot of seal.

     Fruit bats, as it turns out, just love salad.  They love it enough to fight over it.
    The result looks like cats fencing with umbrellas!  --Or perhaps small dogs.  They have small-dog faces but move more like cats.
     (Not shown: smaller, straw-colored bats, all but one of whom had collected into a tight group and were being hectored by the remaining bat.  I checked for insignia or a clerical collar; didn't see any.)

     Hey, here's an idea: ducks on stilts.  Bright pink ducks on stilts, who stand on their heads to eat!
     Even the flamingos have their doubts.

     Cheetahs: so fast, they can show up twice in the same photo!

     Tigers, the big ones, are getting sleepy....

     Yowza!  That one is about the size of my head!

     Captain Nemo, the early years:
Future marine biologist and/or fisherman

     Where's Nemo?  (The other one):
Not actually Nemo.  Also, these critters have kinda freaky, PG-13 rated lives, really.

     This is going to confuse the fruit bats if they see it.
     The seahorse: a pipefish that grows on trees?
     Tam shoots a bear:

     In the Deserts dome, there are strategically placed heat lamps. Tortises like to bask under them. Lizards find there's nothing quite like a warm tortise on a chilly afternoon.  The terrapin had no comment:

     En route to the Indianapolis Zoo from downtown, we passed the Old Trails building, one of the few examples of Native American Deco architecture, ever:
     I'm told the faces are modeled on actual (as they said at the time) Indians.  PC or not, it's an architectural treasure.

How To Make Americans Angry

     You know what's the wrong way to try to motivate Americans?  Harm innocents.

     I was musing about incidents of highly-visible violence in this country and the popular reaction to them, from Ruby Ridge to the Haymarket bombing and riot, from Kent State to Oklahoma City, from the World Trade Center horror to yesterday's Boston Marathon bombing and there's really only one common thread: innocents were harmed.

     Judge it however you will, but most people in this country do not so very much mind if bank robbers and drug dealers shoot one another or the Feds fatally take down Dillinger on a public sidewalk, as long as no otherwise uninvolved bystanders get hurt.  Even when the "bystanders" hurt or killed are firmly on one side or another of the issue at hand -- Davad Koresh's followers, the police and labor agitators at Haymarket -- there's a strong sense of outrage.

     Acts of terrorism are generally presumed to be done to provoke ever more extreme reactions, thereby polarizing the largely-uncommitted masses.  In this country, that usually does not work; instead, we react to the perpetrators as we react to cockroaches.  Likewise, police actions of the "overwhelming force" sort are supposed to shut down a bad situation rapidly; and they, too, have a history of failure or at least undesired outcome when they extend to include innocents.

     The reaction cuts across party, ideology, socioeconomic class, region: do harm to folks who didn't have it coming, and you have incurred the wrath of not merely The Authorities but the majority of an entire nation.

     Whoever it was bombed the Boston Marathon, lone madman, political direct activist, whatever:  wherever you are, we're coming for you.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Boston Marathon Bombing

     Tam just called out, "There was an explosion at the JFK Library, too." (ETA: Networks now are saying it appears to be a simple fire in an equipment room, unrelated to the bombing.)

     Great.  Nevertheless. Ijits with explosives.  Blowing up innocents.  Not good.  Who the hell does this to a bunch of runners and people out having a good time?

     Media blames "gun nuts" in five...four...three...two....one...


     (Let's see, next thing after blaming you and me will be claims from the far Left and Right that this is some kind of inside job, followed in a few days by frame-by-frame analysis of blurry YouTube video purporting to show it was "faked."  Followed by There Ought To Be A Law, if the Prez doesn't just go and do that tonight, prolly linking it to the supposed "need" to pass Manchin-Toomey and "even tougher laws to keep Americans safe." Never let a crisis go to waste, ey?)

The Way I Hear It...

     ...That "green" planet-saving dishwasher soap does a bang-up job if you add half a teaspoon of trisodium phosphate to every load.

     Not that I would ever try; commercially putting that stuff in dish soap or laundry detergent has been banned here my whole adult life and it's only sold at home-supply stores for the express purpose of painting preparation.


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Feed Us! Feed Us!

     Especially, feed us your leftovers.
     How thrilled they were to learn that with canned corned beef, there is real, actual can grease -- and they each got a tiny taste of it.

Corned Beef Hash The Way It Used To Be

     It costs like the very dickens to get the deli to saw off 1/4-thick slices of corned beef for hash but it beats the canned stuff by miles.

     There's a compromise and it worked out well today: canned corned beef (not hash, just plan old corned beef), chopped up and cooked with diced fresh potatoes and a little onion.  Not everyone's a fan of the brand* I used this morning and there's no question about it being full of things you should not be having every morning -- still, it certainly was tasty.
* This was the Hormel version, about as processed as Spam.  Memory insists the Armour product had more meat-type texture.


     I slept for a bit over twelve hours and it felt good.  Woke semi-abruptly to Meet The Press, making approximately the noise spelled out above.

     This was the kind of sleep -- long, heavy and deep -- that one of the engineers I worked with back when I first started out referred to as "sleeping viciously," a sleep that refuses to let the sleeper go until he or she is truly rested.

     I'm up now-- planning on making home made corned beef hash.  With eggs on the side.  'Cos I can.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Man Behind Your iPhone

     He's also the man behind your radio, TV, garage-door opener, telephone....  He's James Clerk Maxwell and in the unlikely event you did hear about him, what you were told was probably wrong.

     In The Man Who Changed Everything, Basil Mahon provides a straightforward biography of a straightforward man, a Victorian described by his peers as "a perfect Christian gentleman," whose wide-ranging intellect gave us the concise beauty of Maxwell's Equations, linking electricity and magnetism and predicting the existence of radio waves a long generation before anyone intentionally created or detected one.

     He was far from the popular image of an eccentric genius (other than, perhaps, his propensity to write light verse to congratulate or, on rare occasion, criticize).  Modest and rather unassuming, Maxwell (one really should write "Clerk Maxwell," as the last name passed with a small estate to the second son of the Clerk family in the previous generation) did significant work on color perception and was the first to grasp that colored light was additive and the primary colors for light are thus red, blue and green:* Professor Maxwell is in your TV not once but twice.  He was also much of the impetus behind and the first director of the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge and gave us the first recorded example of the "thought experiment," Maxwell's Demon.

     He was a good man, well-liked by peers and students (the latter more in spite of than due to his abilities as an instructor); he died at the age of 48, leaving behind the foundations of a remade world.

     (The book can be purchased via the Amazon link at Tam's blog.)
* Pigments -- paint or ink -- are subtractive, with red blue and yellow as primaries.  Having got the process right, Maxwell was able to confirm that our color vision relies on only the three primary colors.

Friday, April 12, 2013

So Tired...

...The color has gone out of everything except one eye.
choto credit: Tam Keel

"Made Ya Look!"

     Title is the new Official Motto of North Korea.  Geez, it's like the [Adjective] Leader never gets past the childhod stage of raising a ruckus to get attention.

     ...I do think there's a lesson to be learned from places like North Korea: people mostly want to live in a functioning society; so much do we want that, that even when it's deeply flawed, we keep trying.  Look at the stoplight-replacing cops in North Korea as an example and an especially poignant one.  Yes, even in a place as bad as Stalinist Russia or Inner Chicago, some majority of people (by however slight a margin) get up and go to work at the power company, the water company, the supermarket and the interrogation center (whoopsie!) to lurch the place through another day.   Which argues all the more for minimizing the number of permanent, powerful institution in any society: get 'em wrong and there's still plenty of folks to prop them up and keep them going, 'cos "it's better than nothing!"

     Is it?  Really?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Indiana Gun Legislation

     Oh, yeah, we've got gun laws and knife laws on the docket here in Hoosierland:

      HB 1194 -- Hunting preserves. Could be good, could be bad.

      HB 1586 -- Lifetime unlimited handgun license fees.  Appears to waive part of the fees if you have a Utah permit.

      SB 0097 -- Possession of firearms on state property.  Legalizes campus carry!
      SB 0106 -- Lifetime senior hunting license.

      SB 0130 -- Indiana firearms freedom act.

      SB 0181 -- Knives with automatic blades.  Legalizes "automatic knives," a/k/a switchblades.

      SB 0199 -- Using silencer when hunting. Legalizes use of silencers, unless you are poaching or tresspassing.

      SB 0282 -- Lifetime hunting and fishing licenses.

      SB 0340 -- Ethical hunting. Does not look like a good one. Probably aimed at hunting preserves, etc.

      SB 0487 -- Shooting and hunting preserves. Could be good, could be bad.

      SB 0555 -- Indiana firearms reciprocity license.  Adds an extra License To Carry Firearm with training certification, for purposes of gaining reciprocity with states like Ohio.  Okay if it doesn't replace the present system.

      SB 0595 -- Sentencing for crimes involving a firearm. Removes "time served" credit.

     Grey ones haven't advanced out of committee -- thus far.  Mostly good bills, a few iffy ones.

The Toomey-Manchin-Schumer "Compromise" Gun Bill

     Nobody knows nuthin'.  I can tell you what Senator Toomey claims is in the bill -- better yet, point you at his press release -- but until you, me and the experts have a chance to read the actual language of  the actual thing, we're in the dark.

     And once it hits the floor, Senators can amend it.  And vote on it.

     ...If it passes, it goes over to the House, where they can weigh in drown it in the bathtub.  Glug, glug!

     Sadly, treason trials and public hangings don't look to be a part of the process.  I suppose the paradox of the last Congressthing left having to hang itself was too much for them to work around.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Sold Out?

     NBC is reporting a Senate "compromise" on the background checks infringement, with an announcement by Senators Manchin and Toohey, er, Toomey scheduled for 11:00 this morning.

     So, two Senators who won't be relected; wonder how many more are clamoring for a seat on the fail train?

     If it was mild enough to quell threats of a filibuster, is it mild enough to accept?  --No.  No, it is not.  Keep after the weasels; there's a House fight after this and we need to continue the citizen input: they seem a little hard of hearing to any voice outside the beltway.

I Thought They Bought Them At Gun Shows?

     Thieves ripped down the external window bars at 500 Guns here in Indy last night.  Then they broke the window and got at the internal bars, though they do not seem to have broken them.  They may have grabbed "several guns."  (Tam wonders how, as it's a ten-foot reach from the window to the nearest firearm.)

     The owner, wisely, is not talking to media.

     This is a fairly standard MO, often using a stolen SUV.  Family Indoor Shooting Range (formerly Popguns) and Don's Guns have been hit in the last few years using similar smash & grab tactics.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Texas Assault Knife?

     Current chatter has it the Texas mass knifing was done using an X-acto® knife or, as they must be hoping, some cheap knock-off. (For all lawful purposes, stick to the real thing; they really are better made.) Given that these little knives have no "sporting purpose," are slightly similar to some kinds of knives used by professional surgeons and that readily replaceable blades are sold in handy "magazines" or "clips" of 50 or more, should we be looking out for a push to ban "assault knives?"

     Great.  Bare shelves at the art-supply stores.  You already can't hardly find them at the drafting-supplies stockist.*

     ...Meanwhile, in Serbia, a country with approximately the same gun laws as New Jersey, there was a mass shooting -- yes, there are guns a-plenty left over from the Late Unpleasantness, but the one used in this was owned in accordance with all the registration, licensing and safe-storage laws they've got.  Background checks, testimonials, head-candler's report, ammunition-quantity limits, they've got 'em.  And the nutjob kept going until other men-wth-guns arrived to oppose him.

     One might almost suppose there was a moral here.
* Now there's a trade that went digital early, rapidly and often.

An Apology

     I have been quite short with commenters and friends recently, over a topic which I shan't broach.

     I am sorry to have hurt people's feelings. The particular experience leaves me very short-tempered and nearly two decades of exploring every option has convinced me that it is simply something to be endured.  This neither excuses nor justifies my reaction to well-meant comments but perhaps it goes a little way towards explaining them.

Monday, April 08, 2013


     Rannie-the-cat is convinced thwarting her innocent desires to do simple, pleasant things like steal bacon, shrimp or steak,* merely grope about on a plate of people food any time she thinks you're not paying attention or sleep in the bathtub at people-showering time is something humans do for the sheer joy of it. 

     Yes, Rannie.  Yes, we do.

     Or not.
* First grilled steaks of the season were served up Sunday night. Oh, that hardwood lump charcoal!

From Hoosierland, Under Pressure

     You can thank Indiana for the Roots-type supercharger -- even the ingrates in NYC admit it.  All that, and Nero Wolfe, too.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Call Or Write My Congressmen

One of them is on the fence over the Senate's ijit gun legislation and the other has a reputation for spinelessness.  They need to be chivvied along in the proper direction:

Senator Joe Donnelly (D)
B33 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
(202) 224-4814

Senator Dan Coats (R)
493 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
(202) 224-5623

     We probably can't fix what's wrong by voting but it'd be nice to not have to face it unarmed.

Fail, Fail, Fail

     Looks like I could not write my way out of a paper bag.

     Yesterday's vast and indulgent headache screed was to explain how come it is I do not want -- nor can I use -- either medical advice or pity.*  The response was mostly the latter, with a little of the former by other means.  Please knock it off.

     Medically, if it's not quackery and it can be tried, I've tried it.  Dealing with big facial nerves and sinuses, the outcome could have been so very (very!) much worse -- trigeminal neuralgia (a/k/a "the suicide disease" 'cos that's what sufferers often do) with facial tics, for example.  The cause could have been way worse, too, including one obscure disease for which I found several blogs by sufferers planning to document their struggles....and none had more than two entries.

     Sure, it's no fun to have headaches and some of mine come with an especially large "NO."  But it is as if I'd avoided a horrendous and possibly fatal auto accident by running my car into a ditch.  I'm gonna gripe about having to call a wrecker but I'm alive.

     Comments are off until I can keep myself from using the term "you people" and being unduly harsh.

     (Went through this last April, too.)
* Or whatever softer synonym you people prefer; I'm refusing it no matter the label.  Wow, I'm damn sorry I ever brought this up.  I just wanted to be able to vent without having to reply to messages asking if I had tried colloidal yogurt acupuncture or some bizarre high-five over something I have no choice about.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Lemme 'Splain About The Damnheadaches

    They are not going away.  Not ever.

     I never had just great teeth and to make matters worse, I tended to grind them in my sleep.  My dentist fitted me with a bite guard to sleep wearing in '95 or '96 and after a few months, it became obvious it was only making matters worse, by allowing me to bite down good and hard while grinding.  I stopped wearing it but it was too late.

     A couple of the upper molars on the left got very loose and in checking them out, the dentist realized one need root canal ASAP and the other was darned near as bad.  She redid the filling in the least-bad one and sent me off to the endodontist for the other.  They still hurt and were loose.

     Visiting West Baden Springs Hotel, 80% refurbished at the time and echoingly empty, my ex and I had lunch at the French Lick Springs Hotel, nothing fancy, nicely-made charbroiled burgers.  I bit down on a particularly crunchy bite and experienced a brief, incredibly agonizing pain, so bad I felt like I was jolted right out of my body.  We finished our tour after lunch; French Lick Spings Hotel was in full operation and it's a sprawling place with a lot of history, and there's a nice railroad museum just up the way that runs a trolly shuttle between the hotels.

     On the way home, I had the first migraine of my life.  (Before that day, I didn't even get headaches!)  The sun was almost down when we set out and it was nightmarish -- oncoming headlights caused stabbing pain, huge fuzzy balls of light that left glowing trails across my vision.  I was terrified.

     My teeth at upper left got looser and looser and would occasionally cause nasty jolts of pain.  One was pulled and it hurt horribly; the oral surgeon accused me of "histrionics" but it weas unbearable, despite having been numbed, and felt as if it took excessive force to remove.  Pain continued and the remaining tooth got looser and looser and eventually it had to be pulled, too.

     Meanwhile, I kept having horrible headaches.  I went from OTC remedies to my doctor to pain specialists and neurologists and worked my way though a long catalog of drugs, Vicodin, Imitrex, Abilify, one after another, singly and in combination, painkillers, antidepressants, off-label uses of all manner of drugs, and most of them didn't work any better than ibuprofen.  Some of them had terrifying side-effects.

     (Call me stupid.  It took me forever to connect the headaches and the dental problems.)

     Where my teeth were pulled wasn't healing.  There were splinters and shards of tooth (or maybe bone) coming out, hurting.  Some were so bad I pulled them out with tweezers, to stop the horrible jolting every time they were touched by chewed food or my tongue.  And there was the the strangest sensation, like a hole in my bone that the gum was trying to grow in -- the area just looked like a red spot.  The gum would heal some, and then a hole wold open in it and kind of drain and close again. My dentist couldn't make sense of it but wondered if it might possible be a very controversial (and possibly non-existant) condition called NICO.  This was pretty much a diagnosis of desperation.

     As for desperation, the oral surgeon and I had become a bit anatagonistic over the hole I was sure was in my bone.  It did not show up on x-rays, but, "just to shut you up," he agreed to look for it.  He numbed my mouth and opened up the gum over the bone....
    "Nope.  I'm right where you pointed, there's nothing."
    "Oh oo rwr 'ot!"
     "I'm not?"
     He sighed.  "Fine.  Here's a blunt pick.  Put it on the place."
     I did, with some fumbling -- the outside of my gum was numb but I was still feeling it.
     "That's farther back." Cutting, laying open the bone, "Okay, but there's a point where I'm going to refu--  Hey, would you look at that!"  To his assistant: "Get Dr. [Partner].  He needs to see this."

     It was a hole in the bone, a little over 1/8" in diameter, probably where a tooth root had gone through the bone -- and into a fairly major nerve bundle -- when I bit down on a crunchy burger, by then over a year earlier.  It was at such an angle and in such a position as to not show up well on standard dental x-rays.  If you knew it was there and were good at reading radiographs, you could just about see it.

     Getting that hole closed -- if it is -- was another long, long slog, with digressions into NICO and involving multiple surgeries by multiple oral surgeons, ENTs and endodontists.  At one point, one of the dental guys snagged a nerve and left that half of my face from the eye down pretty numb and hard-to-control, and the next knife-wielder in said, "I can fix that, I know what they did," and managed to do just that, while looking for any hidden ickies in my maxillary sinus.  Every surgery resulted in a month or more freedom from pain, just 'cos they were in there, rummaging around...and then it would come back.  Several attempts to close the hole failed; it went right through but didn't quite communicate with my sinus cavity, there was a layer of tissue intact and Ghu-only-knows getting at it via the hole in the bone.

     It was during that that time I gave up on the headache treatment and started figuring out they were related; they'd go away along with the pain in my face after surgery.  This was also when I learned that dental specialists and medical specialists act like members of competing trade unions and if you've got some problem that overlaps, it's nearly impossible to get them to speak with one another, look over the other profession's notes, anything: mostly, they want to argue over who's work it's not, and what a mess the other profession leaves.  It's very frustrating.

     Eventually, they got the hole in the bone closed and it mostly feels like it is staying closed.  That's dead, dead bone, and I have the radiographs to prove it; the bones in one's skull do mostly stop being active as you age and my left cheekbone's got hardly any blood in it at all.  Every once in awhile, at very long (and increasingly longer) intervals, a hole will open up in the gum back there and drain a bit.  Yep, it's probably inflammation, but it comes and goes and no high-zoot antibiotic or modern quackery will fix it; I've tried pretty much everything non-toxic.

     And I still get headaches.  90% of the time, two ibuprofens dull them for six hours.  9% of the time, it takes three.  1% or less of the time, I'm scrod and just have to ride it out.  From the premolar back on the upper left, I haven't got any teeth, haven't enough bone for dental implants and don't want to risk putting any bite pressure on that area with a partial plate.

     That's how it is.  It's not fixable.  No vitamin, no drug, no surgery will fix it.  I talk about it like you'd talk about the weather, or earthquakes, and for much the same reason.

     Please stop trying to tell me how to fix it.  I'll punch the next doctor or dentist who wants to go messing around in there (or at least flat refuse) and I get plenty annoyed at well-meaning non-medical types who offer advice.  It's just something I use for blog filler, or to explain why I am so darned clumsy sometimes: pain has a way of getting in the way of what I'm trying to do.

Another Day, Another Long To-Do List

     ...Another big headache.  Would that were a metaphor!  Hugely clumsy this morning, too, though better as the Vitamin I kicks in.

       Bank, drugstore, taxes.  Supermarket, home-improvement store (gravel rake, potting soil, short treated 4x4); Locally Grown Gardens (flowers, if they have any left; I am darned well gonna have some flower-type flowers out front this year).  Rake leaves, look at tree swing (it needs refinished, the polyurethane is coming up in strips.  Linseed oil or spar varnish?), clear off patio, remove crate-table from ham shack and replace with dumpster-bounty desk (in pieces, so add desk assembly to the list)...

     At least I can probably do the first three on my motorscooter, Deus volente.  And it could be worse -- consider, for example, the case of reporter Susannah Cahalan, who went scarily bonkers from what turned out to be a very obscure but treatable autoimmune disease; she recovered and wrote a fascinating book but OMG.  A migraine and some fumblefingers is nothing.  (If you want to read Brain On Fire, please use the Amazon link at Tam's blog. Costs you nothing extra and keeps another talented writer from starving.).

Friday, April 05, 2013

It's All Blogfodder

     Hey, This Is Not My Beautiful Starship:

     ...I woke up at 0330 yesterday, to take the coworker who is part of the inspiration for "Conan the Objectivist" at I Work On A Starship to the hospital for some (planned!) major surgery.  He came through it just fine and last I knew last evening, was propped up in bed, enjoying modern calf-massaging hospital socks* for entertainment and a delicious selection of clear liquids for dinner.  They have television but as usual, the "brightness" control doesn't make it any less dimwitted.

     The hospital itself is brand new and amazingly plush, with decorative (custom?) pressed glass panels (transparent, bubbly sea-green with a botanical motif) and dividers, paneling in the public spaces, terrazzo  floors, a nice little eatery (we do not say "cafeteria" these days) and a soaring five-story open lobby level cribbed from 1930s SF movies, right down to freaked-out lampposts defining hall-like areas from lounge-like areas while providing gently indirect illumination.  If you've got to be in hospital, there are worse ones to be in.
* Yes, the open-toed pressure socks of yore have been automated out of a job, or at least relegated to the minor leagues.
*   *   *

     Fun Things To Try In Your Spare Time:

     Google Poetics turns Google autocomplete suggestions into found poetry, with occasional impressive results.  Hey, why not?  --Progress has out-Warholed Warhol.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Two Writers Look At Gun Rights History

     Neither one of them an historian, really; on the one hand, some callow punk Johnathon Zimmerman at The Christian Science Monitor,* entirely unmatched to Henry Louis Mencken on the other.

     Jonathan attempts to claim, clinging to very thin reeds, that the very idea of an individual right to keep and bear arms is a recent thing, "a fabrication of modern times," and cites a Texan fuming about concealed arms in the far-off, ancient year of 1893, a century after the ink was dry on the Bill of Rights, and follows up with historical perspective from 1941, when men in periwigs and knee breeches still...er....

     Meanwhile, Mr. Mencken writes us from 1923, describing a proposed Federal limit on interstate traffic in revolvers as, "...one of the most absurd specimens of jackass legislation ever heard of, even in this paradise of legislative donkeyism. Its single and sole effect would be to exaggerate enormously all of the evils it proposes to put down" and reminds us, "[t]he real victim of moral legislation is always the honest, law-abiding, well-meaning citizen." Oddly, he seems to believe -- and demonstrate -- Americans had at that time a wide right to keep and bear arms, and takes issue with even the (in retrospect minor) gun laws of his day.

     Who's right?  My money's on H.L.
* The name bugs me.  Are they monitoring science as practiced by Christians?  Are they monitoring some science of that faith, textual analysis or Biblical archaeology or the like?  Is it a low, shallow-draft warship with a single revolving turret operated in defense of the faith?  What's it doing with a newspaper?

Because Sometimes I Need The Reminder, Is Why

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

New Story At I Work On A Starship

     This one, something of a three-pipe problem for those of you who hang out near Baker Street: A Worm Unknown To Science.

Seen On A Bumper

...So, the Most High not a big fan of puns, then?

Too Much Stuff

     I wanna climb in a box and tape it shut from the inside. Maybe mail it to Pago Pago.  Punch airholes or just doze off?  Decisions, decisions.

     (Later: better now.  Definitely airholes.  And juice and a bag lunch, maybe some comic books and a flashlight.) 

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Tam's Better And I'd Like To Strangle Her

     What with one thing (worked late to make up for the morning's Dr. appointments, Mom's printer had blown a gasket and she needed to be talked through resetting it over the phone) and another (barfing roommate, cat hork on the couch), I didn't get to bed until very late and woke up well after six, to the sound of Tamara emptying the dishwasher, and even then I did not wake up far.

     RX: [eyes shut against the dazzling brilliance of a 15-Watt incandescent lamp]  "Wha're you doing?"

     Tam: [all but whistling with chipperness] "Emptying the dishwasher."

     RX: "Stop that!  You had noro!"

     Tam: "I feel fine."

     RX: "You're still a carrier!"

     Tam: [vanishes into Roseholme C3I]

     I struggled awake and managed to grump my way through making breakfast, spilling coffee beans inside the cabinet, infuriating Rannie the cat (we bought the wrong brand of olive oil last time plus I keep walking right where the cat wants to be), burning toast, etc..  FWIW, you're still shedding viruses for 2 to 3 days after getting over Norwalk virus and its kin, which is one reason it burns through a population like a grassfire through dry pastureland on a windy day.

     There are few things I loathe more than throwing up.  Worse yet, I promised to take a co-worker to the hospital for some major-scary work this week -- I don't dare be ill. 

    Tam gets the last line: "While you're telling people how poorly I grasp the germ theory of disease, remind them we live in the same small house and 36 hours ago, we were sitting on the couch, watching Archer and grabbing at the same pizza."  (See, you're shedding virus for awhile before you have any symptoms, too.)


Monday, April 01, 2013

Tam Is ILL

     Could be norovirus: can't keep food down, muscle aches, no energy.  Also no fever and no redness at the surgery site on her nose, or I'd be taking her to hospital right now, probably over her objections.

     Stomach virus, not really anything we needed around here.

My Scheduling Brilliance

     It is not to be believed.  Today, I have a dental exam at the earliest possible time, followed by an eye exam with barely time to get from one to the other.  I hadn't realized they were on the same day until last week.

     Naturally, on Friday my employer announced an all-hands-on-deck staff meeting starting about a half-hour before my usual shift.

     It's not an art, it's a natural gift.

     In the meantime, h'mm, how about some really, really bad travel advice?  Probably SFW outside the UK, but you may attract attention by giggling loudly.