Monday, March 31, 2008

Ad bogosity.

Some of you may be aware of Toyota's strange new marketing campaign for the Matrix, having discovered it by clicking on fake banner ads for a Pub-Fighting School or Animal Lingerie. The best "ad" in the campaign is the one below, however. The image of Mr. Raccoon is, for some reason, just seared... seared into my subconscious:

...and yes, if you click on the above graphic, you go to the Toyota Matrix site. They've given me the creeping willies so well that the least I can do is spot 'em a link.

Today In Geek History: Supercomputer.

On this date in 1951, the first US-made commercial computer, a UNIVAC I, was sold to the U.S. Census Bureau. They had it up and running in time for a June 14th dedication ceremony, so I'm guessing the peripherals weren't plug-and-play.

The behemoth took more vacuum tubes than an internet's worth of audio geeks, occupied over 40 square yards of floorspace, and was dumber than your cell phone by several orders of magnitude.

Y'know what's going to grind me to a halt?

In a few months, when all the log-rolling, influence-peddling, chip-calling, glad-handing, and back-stabbing is over, and Hillary "Ms. Inevitable" Clinton still doesn't have the Democratic nomination, I'm going to have to put up with four years of the worst whining in certain circles since Ferraro followed Mondale into oblivion. The whole thing will be stone cold proof to them that the patriarchy still has the game rigged, or that American women who didn't vote for her are just too blinded by the media machine of our male overlords to select one of our own for the top job. Not for a moment will it be considered by those folks that it's because the first really serious woman contender for the Oval Office is the most divisive figure in American politics since Richard Nixon.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

You wanna see something really scary?

The U.S. Constitution set up a federal government with very limited powers. Among the most limited were police powers, which were almost exclusively left to the states. Nine out of ten federal law enforcement agencies exist via the most loopholeish of invisible penumbras (a polite way of stating that they're pretty much completely unconstitutional in anything approaching a strict reading.) Even the FBI is the Federal Bureau of Investigation and not the Federal Bureau of Enforcement because, as originally envisioned, it did the legwork and relied on locals to effect the busts.

A view of how far we've strayed from this was illustrated in an otherwise innocuous line from Breda's St. Paddy's Day post which has been itching at me ever since, such that I finally had to write about it.
Determined to find a sunny spot, we headed to the parade route. But before we turned the corner onto Superior Avenue, I noticed quite a few police cars - federal police cars. They read "Department of Homeland Security" on the side. Officers in what appeared to be riot gear were patrolling nearby.

" something happening?" I wondered. I realized then that we were outside of the U.S. Court House, right next to my first cousin. In a crowd of thousands, I found myself standing next to family. I was the flowergirl at his wedding and now he's as white haired as my father used to be...we laughed, both surprised at seeing the other. We both said "eejit" as we watched a man get ticketed by the Feds for drinking Guinness on the street.
Ponder that for a moment: The might and majesty of the Federal Government of the United States of America being used to bust a guy for violating an open container law. The Tenth Amendment might as well not exist these days.

Regardless of your view of open container laws, if this was anybody's business, it was that of the City of Cleveland or the State of Ohio, not the United States Department of Homeland Security. And the scary part is that we don't even bat an eye at it anymore.

Today In History: Royals 'R' Us.

Having fired their previous one, Otto, the Greeks went king shopping and on this day in 1863 they hired 17 year-old Prince Vilhelm of Denmark to be their king.

This must just be one of those European royalty things that doesn't make sense to someone unless they read a lot more British tabloids than I do. I mean, here's Vilhelm, a younger brother of the crown prince anyway, minding his own business and trying to get his feet wet in the Danish Navy, no doubt worried about looking like a complete twink aboard the new-fangled steam frigates, when:

"Vilhelm, sir."

"Huh? I mean, 'Yes?'"

"How would you like to be king?"

"Uh, isn't that kind of treasonous? What with my dad and older brother still being alive and all?"

"Not of Denmark; King of Greece, sir. They sent the job offer only just this morning."

"Greece? But I've never been there. I don't even speak Greek!"

"I'll hunt up a dictionary while you see to your things, sir."

Saturday, March 29, 2008

This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine!


The Democrat next door forgot to turn the light on her garage off, although the rest of her house is darker than three feet up a well-digger's butt at midnight. Save the TV, of course.

We, on the other hand, are lit up like the alarm board at Chernobyl.

Pride of pwnership.

Actual Bob Ricker phone transcript at the VPC blog. Rilly. Honest.


(H/T to Unc.)

Today In History: Surprise!

On this date in 1941, under the cover of darkness, a British battleship squadron closed to within 3,500 meters of an Italian fleet that had already been battered by air attacks during the day. Unlike their British opponents, the Italian warships were not equipped with radar, so it was a complete surprise when searchlight beams stabbed through the night and a veritable storm of 2,000-lb 15" shells blew the rigatoni out of Mussolini's fleet at what was, for battleships, point blank range.

BONUS!: Neat-o animation of the gunhouse and barbette (turret thingie to us non-navy types) on a British battleship.

Prepare to geek out.

LiberalCCW (after admittedly fair warning) provided linkage to this bunch of RC geeks with way more time and money than sense of perspective. It turns out that if you take bundles of hundred-dollar bills, shred them finely, and apply great pressure over time, the result is amazingly detailed 1/4 scale tanks. With movies.

I haven't seen such neato grownup toys since I stumbled across R/C model warship combat on the 'net.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Oh. My. God.

I suppose I have my friends at Atomic Nerds to thank for this latest blood pressure spike. If it wasn't for them I would have remained blissfully unaware of the kerfuffle at Lubbock airport that seems destined to go down in history as "Nipplegate".

More importantly, I wouldn't have known about the comments over at Hot Air. See, in the post over there it only took seven comments for some gonadless denizens of Vichy America to turn up and defend the low budget rent-a-cops of the TSA. Seven comments before some toadying sycophants lauded the TSA for defending the American skies from exploding boobies.

Folks, if the jihadis have you quivering under the dust ruffle in fear of nipple-ring-activated breast bombs, then it's time to grab a rusty bayonet and Daniel Pearl yourself live on Al Jazeera because they have won. If you can't see that your spineless defense of this farcical bit of security theater makes you unworthy to empty the colostomy bag of an Iwo vet, then you should just turn in your Lee Greenwood albums, exchange your dollars for dinars, and pull a burkha over your buzzcut, bro, because it's all over here in the Land of the Formerly Free and the Home of the Not-So-Brave.

Tomorrow night. Don't forget.

Better to light a candle than curse a hippie.

Mars needs women...

...and California needs moving trucks. In comments here, JT writes:
When the family and I made our move to The Former Republic 18 months ago, U-Haul quoted us ~$3000 for a one-way rental. I got a quote the same day for a one-way TX->CA rental. $250. I laughed merrily on that one.

You don't need to be an econ major to do the math behind that one. Sacramento's already tried taxing the pensions of folks who retire out of state (with their comically inflated Calidollars that go such a long way back in the states because we've foolishly pegged the exchange rate between CA and the US at 1:1.) How long before they just take another page from the Red playbook and build a wall along the border? Not the Cali/Mexican border to keep illegal aliens out, but the NV/AZ border to keep resource units... taxpayers... Californians with jobs in?

We're still waterboarding my muse...

...and she'll spill her guts any minute. In the meantime, have a meme:

The Caffeine Click Test - How Caffeinated Are You?

In my defense, I've only had two cans of Vault Zero, a Full Throttle Blue Demon, and one cup of coffee this morning, so I'm not quite up to speed yet.

Today in the news.

Glorious leader launches phallic symbol. He's so ronery. Again.

When the subprime mess augered in, it actually left a crater.

Single, unemployed mother of two eyes nutritious children. All Bush's fault.

Today In History: Those kooky French.

On this date in 1871 the inhabitants of Gay Paree, still somewhat disoriented from dining on zoo animals during a four month Prussian siege, declared the Commune and instituted a bunch of the fun stuff from the old days of tumbrels and guillotines and Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals, including rearranging the calendar to one with months named "Fog" and "Germination" and forgiving a slew of rents, debts, and interest.

As idealistic revolutions by fuzzy-headed academics often do, it ended with somewhere between 10,000 and all of them being killed by the army.

Coincidentally, on this day in 845AD, Viking raiders looted everything in not-so-Gay-at-the-time Paree that wasn't nailed down and raped most of what was left, and kept putting their feet on the little tables in medieval sidewalk cafes until they were paid to go away by the rather inauspiciously named French monarch, Chuck the Bald.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

I'm such a little angel.

The Blog-O-Cuss Meter - Do you cuss a lot in your blog or website?

Memery found at the Munchkin Wrangler, who is apparently a bigger pottymouth than angelic l'il ol' me. (Which should be pretty damned hilarious to anyone who knows us both in Real Life.)

Mysteries of the Universe #457,390:

How come the same lipstick that comes off actual lips in no time whatsoever will remain on a coffee cup through an hour-long blast with rotating jets of scalding hot soapy water?

Business Opportunity: Make a lip primer coat somehow involving glazed ceramic molecules.

It just keeps getting funnier...

"If we had sensible fire extinguisher laws like they do in England, we wouldn't have all these innocent fires getting extinguished."

"You must have done SOMEthing to provoke the fire, so you deserve whatever you get."

"Are you sure you have the judgement to know when a fire needs extinguishing? Firemen are trained for years to make those calls."

"It'll be like the Wild West, with civilians running around extinguishing barbecue grills and the smoker at Greasy Joe's Rib Joint by mistake."

Today In History: Great balls of fire.

On this date in 1977 a KLM 747 commenced its takeoff roll at Tenerife airport. Unfortunately, due to miscommunication and severe fog, a Pan Am 747 was taxiing the other way on the same runway. The result was the Tenerife Disaster, the largest loss of life in a single commercial airline incident to date. As a matter of fact, until an A380 in cattle-car configuration suffers a premature air/ground interface, it's pretty much got the lock on the gruesome record.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Does not compute.

We were unpacking the library in the attic and, RobertaX being RobertaX, we were sorting the books into piles by... well, we weren't being Dewey decimal system strict, but it would aid in organized shelving. And it was better than my plan of "Just get them out of the boxes and we can sort 'em later." Besides, it was kinda fun, with her hauling out books, calling out categories, and me running the books to the appropriate stack...

"History. History. Dinosaurs. Guns. General science. Guns. Guns. Novel. Large-format SF. More guns. Humor. Huh?!?" The "Huh" was the Book of Mormon, when I am pretty obviously disqualified by my vast consumption of caffeine and alcohol and my lack of special underwear. I can see where stumbling across that in a box of my books was kinda like running over an alligator. In Iowa.

Well, years back when I was rooming with Marko and still kinda convalescing from my big motorcycle accident, he was out of town on business and I was bored silly and two polite guys came to the door and said something along the lines of "Would you like a free book?" You mean a book like the kind with words in it and "free" as in "no money"? What kind of stupid question is that? Would I like a free book? Jeez, does a big snake crawl low to the ground? I have a hard enough time saying no to books that cost money (in fact I usually don't say "no" at a book store so much as "sorry, I seem to be out of cash,") so I don't much care what the book is about; if it's free, I'm your reader.

So obviously I was absolutely floored when I read at Breda's that they're having a hard time giving away free copies of Fahrenheit 451 at a library in Idaho. Hello? Ray Bradbury? Free? If I didn't already have a copy (and gas was, say, under $2/gallon) I'd be all about a roadtrip to Idaho Falls.

Getting truthier by the day.

Whatever else you say, you gotta admire her chutzpah.

And by chutzpah, I mean "ability to stand there and look you in the eye when caught flat-footed in a bald-faced lie."


I have checked my calendar three times to make sure that it is not the first day of April, but the date resolutely remains March 26th, therefore I am going to grudgingly accept this as a fact.

(I say "grudgingly", because you would be drummed out of the International Debater's Guild for coming up with an analogy so ham-fistedly silly.)

Apparently some experts in the Place Where Great Britain Used To Be have determined that publicly accessible fire extinguishers are a Bad Thing because, and I quote, "[t]he life-saving devices encourage untrained people to fight a fire rather than leave the building". I swear to you on my still-living mother's grave that I did not make that up as a joke. The comic possibilities beggar the imagination:

"You should give the fire what it wants to avoid getting hurt."

"We're the only ones qualified to use fire extinguishers safely."

"Just get to a safe place and call 911 and let the experts come take care of it."

"Try and reason with the fire."

"The fire will just take the extinguisher away from you and use it against you."

Oh, my god, the jokes are endless. For a fan of snark like me, I couldn't be happier if Santa left me a real live pony. I'll be chuckling to myself all day.

(Big Thanks to Eccentric Bounce.)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Pull the other one, it's got bells on it.

TSO over at The Sniper has some fun with an IVAW type who has better war stories than even Hillary's tales of dodging sniper fire.

Remember: The difference between a war story and a fairy tale is that the fairy tale starts with "Once upon a time..." while the war story starts out with "No sh!t, this really happened..."


My eternal thanks to the reader who sent me the link to this:

Speaking of "Fail", here's some lolprotestors:

The kid on the left (no pun intended) makes me think that there might have been something to that phrenology horse-puckey after all.

Skin that smokewagon.

As someone who owns a bunch of 3" and 5" Smith & Wesson N-frames, I was tickled pink to find a link to this website: Simply Rugged Holsters.

I reckon I'll put in an order for a sharkskin holster for my 5" 625 next month. I'll let y'all know how it goes.

I have to tell you, this guy has found a good niche market. If you have a 3" or 5" N-frame (or a Redhawk or Anaconda) your holster options from the big name mass production companies are somewhere between slim and none.

The really, honestly this time, last rifle.

Wherein young ColtCCO reveals that the ultimate carbine was actually the penultimate carbine (which bumped the previous iteration back to antepenultimate carbine).

Anyhow, he explains why.

On with the body count.

In comments to yesterday's post, RobK asked how come we weren't being told how many enemy KIA we had inflicted.

Well, see, because that would be a "body count", and it would be ghoulish and wrong. It's only decorous and proper to trumpet your own death totals on the front page.

Monday, March 24, 2008

For appeal to a broad audience...

...the budding lolcatter should remember that less is usually moar. A good, spartan example:

Preparing for the future...

More and more lately, I find myself drawn to the idea of buying guns to prepare for the future.

No, I don't mean hoarding high-capacity scary-looking guns in some "get-'em-while-I-can" effort just in case Hillary wins the White House; I mean buying old guns to prepare for my future. Seriously, if you're past a certain age, how will anybody take you seriously at gun shows if you don't have a table full of ancient Colts, Smith & Wessons, and South American Mausers on which you can hang crazily inflated price tags? Oh, and then I have to practice yelling every time someone under the age of thirty looks like they might be about to touch one. Wouldn't want a new generation getting interested in collecting, would we?

The truth exposed!

For those who doubted Faux News's place as a totally biased tool of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy, note which news source didn't have big "4000"-shaped cakes topped with 4,000 candles, all ready to be lit while 4,000 black balloons were released in front of the shiny "4000" logo that they just happened to have had whipped up for the occasion.

I'm frankly surprised that ABCNNBCBS didn't have a news truck on the lawn of the lucky mom in time for the early AM news cycle.

My Freudian slip is showing...

There is a box of Band-Aids on the vanity in the bathroom. The box says "Water Block" on it, but every time I see it out of the corner of my eye, my subconscious wonders what Johnson & Johnson knows about using self-adhesive gauze strips to treat "Writer's Block".

Sunday, March 23, 2008

And it's still Sunday!

The Sunday Smith is up. It's an itty bitty Airweight this week.

Top news in the Monkey House:

The ten most-viewed stories currently up at

10. Muslim converts on Easter.
Okay, I can see why this is being watched: A vocal anti-jihadist gets rather publicly baptized by the Pope hisownself. Pretty newsish.

9. China puts out its Tibet version.
We all do want to hear China's rationale for going all Tienanmen on the world's leading exporters of hippie philosophy and general Shirley MacLainery.

8. Pregnant woman tortured to death.
Gruesome, but it definitely has the "If it bleeds, it leads" thing going on in spades.

7. Former radical back in prison.
A clerical error that lets someone out of prison... whoops! ...a whole year early because of a typo is news in anybody's book.

6. Pope celebrates Mass in thunderstorm...
And isn't electrocuted, which I suppose we can take as a good annual evaluation from his boss. Lots of Catholics on the planet, which explains lots of eyeballs for this story.

5. Troops kill shaved militants.
I don't care how prudish you are, you clicked on this headline. You know you did.

4. Man goes on stabbing spree at mall.
He must have noticed the "No Guns Allowed" signs. Definitely news.

3. Richardson: Speech key to support.
A Friend Of Bill's jumping ship to Obama Nation in the middle of the campaign is pretty noteworthy. Lots of eyeballs will follow that.

2. Sailors trapped in sunken ship.
Ongoing drama! Sailors trapped in Davy Jones' locker! Heroic rescue attempts underway! Look!

But the number one most clicked-on, most popular, most eyeball-grabbing bit on CNN right now, in the midst of calamitous shipwrecks, tortured moms, shaved militants, missing felons, and presidential politics?

1. J.K. Rowling: I considered suicide.

Sigh. Y'know what? I'm suddenly considering it, too.


Today In History: What A Rush!

On this day in 1889, two million acres of the "Unassigned Lands" in the Oklahoma Territory were opened for homesteading. Fifty thousand people charged in for a slice of freedom and a piece of land to call their own. Plus a chance to form new cities, with their attendant municipal governments and neighborhood vigilance committees to keep the riffraff out.

Oh, cheer up, Kit!

Kit laments the tragedy of shopping:
But shopping just makes me depressed. The reward for having a perfect lean athletic body is that nobody makes clothes small enough to fit you.
I'm trying to feel sympathy here... trying... ... Sorry, Kit, it's just not happening. ;)

Seriously, though, the long, soul-destroying schleps through the mall looking for something that fits? Actually I do totally sympathize. That more than anything else nipped my fashionista phase in the bud. "Oh, that's cute! Too bad it's sized for the Lollipop Guild Ladies' Auxiliary." And the rare things that were cut long enough were, as often as not, for a woman of more... er, substance. It's no fun being out on the tag ends, as it were, of the various sizing bell curves.

7,500,000,000 years ago...

...a gigantic star, some forty times the size of our own Sol, blew itself apart in a titanic burst of radiation, flinging a sleet of gamma rays across the universe, and we just found out about it the other day. The mail sure does run slow in this neck of the woods.

Meaningless coincidences for $500, Alex.

It's Easter Sunday.

The "Word of the Day" on my iGoogle home page? Apostasy.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Today In Busybody History: For their own good.

On this date in 1630 the Massachusetts Bay Colony outlawed the possession of cards, dice, and gaming tables, forever stamping out the vice of gambling in the colonies. Or something.

Way too tactical for me.

General Intarw3bz Gun Observation: If your drop-thigh Fobus holster-wearin' self is carrying an AR that looks like it's been slathered in CAA and rolled in Yankee Hill, you are way too tactical for me.

Seriously, an Olyarms carbine with lo-rent plastic tactical gizmos looks, to the experienced eye, about as much like a military M4 as a J.C. Whitneyed Kia looks like an IMSA GTP car. Just stop, y'all.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Selective gullibility.

From the comments section at Unc's:

People were being advised, by people who operate (by nature of their profession) as authorities in financial matters to enter agreements against their own best interest.

Why is it that everyone thinks the man trying to sell them a $500 TV is a scummy ripoff artist, and the man trying to sell them a $5000 used car is a scummy ripoff artist, but the person trying to sell them a $500,000 mortgage is a financial professional and their bestest buddy?

Jeezo pete, folks! The man on the other side of the desk is not your friend. His job is to get money from you. Your job is to read the fine print and squeeze nickels 'til the buffalo craps, not to roll over and sign whatever's put in front of you.


First thought yesterday: "Wow. It's been, like, a month since I talked to the folks."

Second thought: "It would probably help if they had my phone number."

To any kin and such on my regular chat list who haven't received updated contact info: You know I'm scatterbrained. An elbow nudge via email wouldn't be taken amiss...

It was a beautiful thing.

Wayne "the Wobbler" LaPierre should watch SebastianPGP's disassembly of Rebecca Peters and take notes.

You can't make this stuff up.

I thought I felt a great disturbance in The Force yesterday, like thousands of economists silent, then suddenly laughing in derision. And I did. It turns out Hillary was in the state:
All Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton had to do to bring several thousand people in Anderson to their feet was mention the word "jobs."

In this one-time manufacturing powerhouse, the second of three Indiana cities to which Clinton brought her campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday, no issue seemed more important than helping the middle class get back on its feet.
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that part of the problem is that at some time in our past, manufacturing jobs became considered "middle class". It's one thing for a job to provide a "living wage", the term so beloved by the collectivists on the other side of the aisle. It's another thing to think that putting bolts in holes all day should pay enough for a bass boat, two cars, a used Harley, and a time-share in Destin. The mission of WidgetCo is not to finance its employee's children's college educations, folks; its mission is to produce widgets. If you price yourself out of the widget assembly market, then WidgetCo is going to go find people who are willing to make them cheaper. In a free country, this gives you two choices: Accept less money for making widgets, or find a new trade that offers the lush financial rewards you feel that you're worth.

Unfortunately, most Americans don't like the idea of a free country. At least for other people. Namely, the kind of people that pay salaries. This is why a presidential candidate can hop on a stump and propose all manner of things that are not only not part of the American way of life but actually repugnant to it, and still have people wave little plastic American flags and cheer. Because, dammit, those fat cats owe you a job! More importantly, they owe you the job you want at the pay rate you deserve! (The queasy part is that there's at least one person who read that and nodded their head, completely oblivious to its sardonic intent.)

While Hillary stopped short of promising, like a certain Democrat candidate of thirty-some years ago, not to rest until all Americans had above-average incomes, there were other moments of comedy gold. She lauded the economic prosperity of the '90s that she apparently helped bring about by being married to the guy in the Oval Office, and then reminded everyone that she was against NAFTA now. Also promised was that her administration would start "investing in manufacturing." This despite the fact that the only really constitutional way the federal government can "invest" in manufacturing is by investing in Boeing and General Dynamics Electric Boat division, and Democrats think the stuff that they manufacture is icky. Or at least they did when Reagan invested in a bunch of it.

Nonetheless, thousands of Hoosiers cheered as Clinton promised to lead them out of the wilderness of unemployment and into the Big Rock Candy Mountains. I can only shake my head and wander off in search of the alleged streams of alcohol that come trickling down the rocks. It's probably going to take a lot of drinking to make it through the next four years no matter who wins this clown show.

Today In History: A black day for France.

On this date in 1413, Henry V became the King of England. Almost immediately he put into operation his new plan for foreign policy, which he called the "Kill The French" Plan. It was a very successful plan: Within just a few short years he had totally pwned the King of France and married his daughter.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Your questions answered here.

Sure. A twelve-pack of Redhook Longhammer IPA at the Marsh on Keystone & 62nd, sometime around 4:15PM, why?

Middle of the day on a weekday?

Must be another Unemployed Hippies Against The War march.

Red October's come early this year.

People's Law Commissioner Steve Carter of Indiana has ordered the evil bourgeoise oil companies and their running dog lackeys at three petrol stations to return moneys that they took from the good proletariat of Hendricks County. It seems that these exploiters of the people cleverly entered into voluntary agreements with the honest proles, and then... here's where the exploitation happens, so watch closely... delivered the agreed-upon amount of goods at the agreed-upon price!

Such acts of capitalism cannot be allowed to stand, even if between consenting adults. The bourgeoise pigs have been ordered to refund money to anyone who shows up with a receipt and a sob story.

The People's Law Commissioner encourages you to use this handy online finking form to report any petrol station near you that you suspect of practicing capitalism. Do it for the People! Viva la Revolucion! Down the Bourgeoise!

Taking Pictures = Disorderly Conduct.

Apparently, using your cell phone to snap pictures of signs while standing in a public thoroughfare in Nashville can get you a visit with the police and the threat of arrest on bogus charges. Nice P-R work there, Officer Friendly.

If only they knew what kind of camera-wielding subversives actually lurked in their town!

(H/T to Unc.)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

American Government 101.

Attention all you microcephalic monosynaptic moronic mouthbreathing media idiots who have been driving me up the fricken' wall the last few days with your ill-informed ignorant invidious ingenuous inquiries about the Heller case:

The Second Amendment does not grant a collective right to keep and bear arms. The Second Amendment does not grant an individual right to keep and bear arms. The Second Amendment, like the other Amendments in the Bill of Rights, grants neither diddly nor squat.

What the Second Amendment does is bar the government from tampering with an existing right, just like the First and the Fourth and the Fifth and all those other sexy Amendments you love so much. The Bill of Rights could only be read as "Granting Rights" by someone whose reading comprehension compares unfavorably with that of a lobotomized flatworm. It "grants" nothing to nobody, unless by "Grant" you mean "Tell The Government To Bugger Off".

That is all, thank you.

Geek bait.

While apparently any Nigerian word salad can convince Aunt Edna to open an email and type in her bank account and Social Security numbers, the savvy nerd is a little harder to entice into clicking on junk mail.

Here's an example of a good lure for getting the monkey to stick his fist in the jar: College chick proves shes swallowed aigialosaur. You have to admit that it beats the depressingly routine "Refinance Your Viagra With Bigger Breasts In Seven Days!"

Be safe out there.

The Filipino government would like to remind you that if your religious festivities this weekend are going to include self-flagellation or tacking yourself to a two-by-four, please use clean whips and nails.

Spotted on teh intarw3bz.

A clever sigline I saw at
"I don’t blame home run hitters who are devoted to performance enhancing cleats on the fronts of their shoes as long as they use Spaulding baseball gloves."

Cute. :)

My God, it's full of stars!

RIP Arthur C. Clarke.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Paul Revere and the Time Warp.

Upon seeing his signal in the belfry of Old North Church, the prototypical American hero threw his leg over his horse and galloped off to alert the Minutemen to impending danger. So intent was he on his crucial task that he failed to notice the zone of shimmering light on the road until he rode through it. The cyan shimmer faded and was replaced by strobing flashes of blue and red. His path was blocked by two cumbersome wagons marked with "Massachusetts State Police", yet no horses were in sight. Two official-looking young men with unusual lanterns and practically shaved heads signaled him to a halt. "Stand aside!" he shouted, "I must warn the militia in Lexington and Concord; the army is coming to seize their arms!" The two men glanced sidelong at each other, as if to say "We've got a live one here..." and approached Revere, unsnapping their holsters and resting their hands on their pistols.

"Excuse me sir, may I see your license, registration and proof of insurance for your, uh, conveyance, there?" asked the younger one.

"What do you mean?" Paul half-yelled, disbelievingly. "Please, good sir, I must warn the militia..."

"I'm sure you must, sir. License, please?"

"A license? To travel? Have you lost your mind?"

The officers exchanged glances again. "Step down off the horse, please, sir. We're going to do a little field sobriety test."

Following the officer's instructions, and literally shaking from the stress of the delay to his vital ride, Revere's finger missed the tip of his nose by a good three inches. Worse, as he leaned back to try again, his coat fell open and he felt a hand snatch his flintlock pistol from his belt. "Lemme guess, sir," sighed the policeman, "you ain't got a license for this, either?"

"A license for a pistol? I've never heard such utter..."

"Didn't think so," muttered the officer, cuffing Paul Revere with his partner's assistance and then shoving him into the back of the squad car after a brief struggle and much shouting about "... but Liberty depends on..." and such.

(Back in the city his accomplices, a Mr. Newman and a Capt. Pulling, were proned out by a SWAT team in the belfry of the Old North Church when Bostonians, seeing the light of their blinking lanterns, mistook them for a terrorist bomb and called 911 on their cell phones...)

Of course you know that this means war.

Rannie has taken into sneaking into the other cat's litterbox to perform an eyeball-fogging ritual that we've come to describe as The Two Minutes' Hate. Slinky retaliates on the new cats' sand. The cycle of olfactory violence is perpetuated.

Squeaky's got a gun.

Well, another gun...

She has set foot upon the path of wheelgun righteousness.

The changing of the car?

So, I have spent my adult life in warm climes within a stone's throw of the southern end of the Appalachians. Roads have always been smoothly paved and curvy, snow and ice were things that made the news when they happened, and dwelling in the 'burbs made long commutes a fact of life. No more.

Now I'm living in a city in the middle of a state with the topography of a billiard table. The frost-heaved and potholed roads are only a shell crater away from those in downtown Beirut. Everyplace I need to go is within a mile or two of the house, via flat, straight roads on which my car is unlikely to need fourth gear. With its stiff suspension and low-profile tires on butter-soft alloy rims, the Z3 is something of a fish out of water here in my new neighborhood, despite its Sunday-afternoon top-down poseur potential on Broad Ripple Avenue. I'm seriously thinking about cashing it out while it's still got a fair bit of trade-in mojo.

You may have noticed that despite this blog being tagged with the moniker "booksBIKESboomsticks", I haven't done a lot of writing about bikes since the sale of the Zephyr last year. I've noticed it, too. I'm starting to feel the itch. RobertaX is nice enough to offer to let me use her spare scooter, a little Chinese-built 50cc number, but I'd feel a little silly in my Mighty Morphin Power Rangers riding gear on the thing, plus the fact that I'd need to re-learn the whole shift/brake thing on a scooter. Also I want my own bike.

Suzuki's super-motard style DR-Z400SM is calling my name; I think it would be a perfect around-the-neighborhood Urban Assault Vehicle. It's narrow, light, flickable, reasonably priced, and its 400cc single is insanely good on gas if your don't wring its little neck. That leaves the more challenging part: Picking a 4-wheeled vehicle.

I'm looking for something comfy enough for roadtrips, decent on gas, with at least the pretense of being fun-to-drive, and front-wheel drive for the icky season. It should be able to lope to Tennessee, Texas, or Georgia with room enough for long guns. I'd also prefer something with a rep for longevity. It would need to be fairly reasonably priced, with good used examples available in the $3k-$5k range. Perhaps a Saab 9000S? Volvo? Maxima? Who can say?

Anyhow, anybody want to buy a Bimmer?

Monday, March 17, 2008

It was all worth it.

I may carp and complain about an inefficient NASA bureaucracy that has done naught in decades but produce a flying garbage scow of a government jobs program, but despite all the failing O-rings, abandoned manned programs, and diaper-wearing stalkers, sometimes my chest is filled to bursting with the swelling pride that makes the vast tax sink worthwhile. I mean, do you people realize that we have successfully completed a Giant Space Robot? Decepticons, Cylons and Thetans beware!

Someday this planet may be reduced to a wasteland, with cockroaches, brainiac chimps and Charlton Heston slugging it out in the radioactive rubble, but future space alien visitors will say "Hell's bells, Marge-10Tz3! Will you look at that 2-ton space robot? The arms alone must be eleven foot apiece! These carbon-based guys were really somethin'!"

As a bonus, the headline to the article read "Spacewalkers resort to banging...", confirming what we knew all along: There really is a Hundred-Mile-High Club!

So very very very very very...

...very very very very wrong.

It's not nearly enough.

The drummer for the Swedish group ABBA has apparently taken a header through a plate glass wall at his house on Mallorca, bleeding out as a result.

Thanks to the earworms ABBA's fluffy pop has caused over the years, police are investigating everyone on the planet as possible suspects.

Sunday Smithery has once again been perpetrated.

See the result here.

The wearin' o' the green beer all down your shirt.

Today's the day that we all talk with bad Irish accents, drink too much beer, and watch the office lech get away with blatant sexual harassment on anyone who forgot to wear green and is too timid to punch back.

For some reason we never celebrate on April 28th, which is the Feast of St. Seamus, the man who put the snakes in Ireland in the first place.

Today In History: Philosopher king.

On this date in 180AD, the wise and learned Marcus Aurelius died, leaving Joachim Phoenix as sole head honcho in the entire empire. With his death came the ending of the era known as "The Five Good Emperors" and a resumption of that known as "The Usual Nutty, Venal, and Corrupt Emperors."

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Today In History: A new kind of rocket.

Mankind has been using simple black-powder propelled rockets for nearly a millennium but it wasn't until this date in 1926 that American inventor Robert Goddard launched the first liquid-fueled rocket.

In their adorable Teutonic way, the Germans saw the new technology and almost immediately went to work figuring out a way to use it to blow people up. Of course, it would need to be improved tremendously, because it would take a much larger, more complicated, and swoopier-looking rocket to carry a sufficiently lethal load of high explosives to a place with a large enough concentration of non-German people to make it worthwhile. Like London, for instance. On this date in 1942, they launched the first V-2 rocket. It thundered into the air above the launch pad and then blew up.

In dogged German fashion, however, they ironed the bugs out of the V-2 until it was dropping out of the skies over London with proper efficiency. So successful were they, that they managed to colonize the U.S. postwar space program and to populate bad '50s sci-fi, Antarctica, and even the far reaches of the internet with Space Nazis on the Moon.

Goin' to the fun show!

It's gun show day, hooray! If anyone else is going to be there, I'll be the tall blond chick in the black CCA baseball cap.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

I feel justified (and ancient.)

A few years back there was a publishing sensation in the Fantasy/SF world: A fantasy novel written by a fifteen year old kid! Awesome!

I read the cover blurb at the bookstore and reckoned I could save myself a few bucks. "Oh, look! Another hackneyed Tolkien ripoff D&D romp! Yawn."

Thanks to the Critical Bookworm, I feel smugly certain that I was righter than I knew.

(...and a totally unrelated PS to budding fantasy authors:
I know making up your own language makes you feel cool and all, can let you pad out your novel with appendices, dictionaries, & alphabet charts, and gives you reason to use the word "verisimilitude" in polite company, but harken to my warning: The Kindly Professor made up a language because he was a professor of linguistics, and then made up some stories to give it a home. Trying to make up a language to fit in your story when the last English course you took was Grammar/Comp 122 is unlikely to be anywhere near as successful...)

Today In History: The Ides of March.

On this date in 44BC, the Roman Senate expressed its displeasure with Julius Caesar by leaving him lying on the floor with more holes than the U.S. tax code.

Other famous types who checked out on this date include Odoacer, the first Germanic king of post-Roman Italy (who was, perhaps not coincidentally, shivved to death by supposed allies on the Ides), and H.P. Lovecraft, who had his soul devoured by the Outer Gods on this date in 1937.

It's not easy being green.

Chicago's much ballyhooed attempt at forcing unlicensed pharmaceutical distributors to dispense their wares in biodegradable paper containers rather than the industry standard plastic bags met a snag when two alderpersons raised objections, saying that the ban would criminalize harmless, legal behavior. Alderperson Freddrenna Lyle stated:
"[W]e've got enough laws we can't enforce. We don't want to make any more or criminalize legal conduct."
Right. Like that's ever stopped the Chicago government before. I wonder if her head spun around and she vomited green pea soup while she was possessed by the ghost of some long-dead Founding Father. Shiva knows she doesn't normally have any particular aversion to making laws.

Friday, March 14, 2008


Earl commented in the sinking dollar post:
I was wondering what that tin full of foreign currencies and coins was for, now I know, so I will have some money with value - oops, they changed to the Euro. Nevermind, I am almost broke, again.
I hadn't thought about that. Just great. My whole salsa jar full of Deutsche Marks and lire and francs might as well be full of tiddly-winks. Or Confederate money. At least all the kroner and kronor and GBP are still useful for something other than as coasters for very small drinks or leveling the odd piece of furniture.

It's all relative.

How appropriate that it's Einstein's birthday. This morning's headline story on NBC's Today was about the economy. "Gosh," they exclaim breathily, "Everything's going up!" Wheat futures are up. Gold is up. Oil is up. The Euro is up. Everything's going up, up, up!

What a splendid display of things being relative to the viewpoint of the observer: Standing on the deck of the U.S.S. Dollar and exclaiming "Captain! Look! Sea level is going up!"

Today In History: Happy Birthday and Good Riddance.

Happy birthday to Albert Einstein (b. 1879) and good riddance to Karl Marx (d. 1883).

Thursday, March 13, 2008

help me i am in hell

I found myself reading a Bed, Bath & Beyond sale paper while eating leftover spaghetti for lunch, and actually looking forward to the vanilla-flavor Yoplait Yo Plus digestive health formula I was going to have for dessert before I emptied the dishwasher and went downstairs to fold laundry.


Time out for a 30 minute break on the front porch with a beer, a cigarette, and some Florence King to read...

You still can't stop the signal.

Effin'-A right.

How shocked they'd be to find that on so many issues we're on the same page. The difference between us is that I plan on using something more, ummm... authoritative than an iPod to keep from being shoved into the cattle car.

(H/T to Unc.)

Annoying Web Design...

Most gun companies have fairly okay websites. A little confusing and button-happy, but tolerable. Today, however, I had to do battle with one of the worst.

I've long been considering what should be the next thing I do with my T/C Encore. I have a barrel in .405 Winchester, as well as a 209x50 muzzleloading barrel. I've been considering getting a barrel in a small game cartridge, such as .22 Hornet (yes, yes, I know it's impractical, but I don't have one yet, which should be all the excuse I need.) I'm also considering two other rifle barrels: One in a pistol caliber such as .357 Magnum or .44 Magnum, and one in a smaller deer caliber; probably .243, but maybe 6.5x55, 6.8 SPC, or 7x57.

This means I would need to go to T/C's website to check on what calibers are currently available. The website is total eye candy, complete with flash animations and sounds for darn near every movement of your mouse pointer. Annoying. The "off" switch for all the dancing baloney is buried 'way down at the bottom, too. To add insult to injury, navigation is murky if you're looking for a specific tidbit of information, such as a list of what calibers are available in what barrel lengths, contours, and finishes. Apparently, unless it's hidden very well on the main site someplace, the only way to get this chart is to download the .pdf of the 2008 catalog; which is not a simple black-on-white document, either, oh no. The catalog is a 55-page monstrosity with photographic backgrounds for every page, and even with a decent computer and a DSL connection, it's like taking Lake Michigan through a drinking straw. On the index page the very last graphic to load was... can you guess? That's right, the page numbers. Nice work, that.

Thanks for nothin', T/C; your web site is teh suXX0rz. I guess I'll just have to hope to find something interesting at the gun show this weekend.

You can't stop the signal.

Note the editorial sticker someone added to the Victim Disarmament sign at Vandy.


Beer: $4.35, CD by The Boss: $10.99, Steak knife: $9.99...

Headline reading "Woman stabs partner to death after fight over Bruce Springsteen": Priceless.

Today In History: ...and they've regretted the name ever since.

On this date in 1781, William Herschel, without even using his hands or a map, found Uranus.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

You keep using that word...

...I do not think it means what you think it means.

Other bloggers have roundly denounced the California court decision on home schooling, but I want to focus on one particular point of it:
"Specifically, the appeals court said, the trial court had found that "keeping the children at home deprived them of situations where ... they could develop emotionally in a broader world than the parents' 'cloistered' setting."
Call this objection ironic if you will, in light of a certain percentage of home-schoolers' views on the topic of anthropology, but at what point in the evolutionary history of the human race did it become "normal" to warehouse juvenile members of the species away all day with naught but the company of other juveniles of their exact same age? With no younger members to care for and no elders to emulate (save one harried and vastly outnumbered teacher per hour), is it any wonder that most every government kinderwarehouse has descended into an unfunny parody of a William Golding novel?

For the entire history of our species, save the last century-and-a-half in the West, the norm has been to have children in groups of mixed ages, with working adults around who provided examples of how a grownup was supposed to interface with the rest of the tribe. When it becomes more important to please your age-mates with your style of dress and taste in music than to impress your elders with your comportment, it's only a matter of time before you're all dancing around a pig's head in the jungle, looking for bones to stick through your nose.

Call me crazy...

...but this may be the coolest place to live I've ever seen.

More on the gun hobby thing...

From comments in the post at Unc's place:
It would have been funny if it wasn’t so pathetically frickin’ ignorant.

What’s next?

Computers: Not just for hackers anymore.

Not all car collectors are getaway drivers or illegal street racers.

Once thought to be the exclusive domain of pornographers and blackmail artists, photography is actually a hobby for ordinary people, too.

Not just for urban criminals and drug dealers anymore!

Although I'd started working in gun shops back in '93 or so, it wasn't until 2001 that I started doing any serious collecting. Soon I had sold off all the assorted effluvia I had bought over the years except for a handful of "working guns" and was focusing on collecting S&W revolvers and older military rifles. I was now no longer a "shooting hobbyist", I was a "gun collector" which is a different kettle of fish entirely.

While the shooting hobbyist may accumulate a couple of guns that interest them, for the most part the guns are utilized for shooting, not just for having. Rarely is there any particular level of obsession involved, either: They shoot and golf and tend vegetable gardens and have other hobbies. A serious collector, on the other hand, appears a little touched in the head to the outsider. The same gene that causes someone to fill their house with ceramic frogs, build a perfect O-gauge replica of the Topeka switchyards in their attic, or have a basement that looks like a Radio Shack delivery truck overturned in a broadcast studio is at work when grown adults quibble over the internet as to whether it's properly called the ".32 Single Action" or the "Model 1-1/2 Top Break".

Getting into collecting exposed me to a whole new kind of hobbyist. While my collection may seem large to those who do not collect, it isn't a patch on many I've seen. This is a hobby that is, due to its very nature, populated by folks with fairly serious levels of disposable income. Mostly older and mostly professionals, I have met doctors, lawyers, judges, and engineers, all equally enthusiastic about their particular niche of the hobby. Vintage Colts, old Winchesters, American martial arms; if it can be collected, there's someone out there collecting it.

It was pretty amusing, then, to be pointed at a Reuters piece that seemed to express surprise that normal people, not just "urban criminals and drug dealers", collected guns. Frankly, I can't see an "urban criminal" getting excited about finding the right bayonet to go with his Brazilian M1908/34 Mauser or a "drug dealer" painstakingly finding the proper Mark Twain book to serve as a prop in a photo of her newly-acquired 19th Century revolver (unless by "drug dealer" they meant "pharmacist"). Leave it to a reporter to get into a hand-wringing tizzy about harmless old duffers and their eccentric hobbies.

Thankfully, NRAhab saved me some trouble by giving the subtle hit piece the fisking it so richly deserves.

Overheard in the kitchen...

It's Girl Scout cookie time! Hooray!

Anyway, last night RobertaX and I were in the kitchen, doing some damage to a box of "all abouts"; cookies that are schmeared with a dollop of chocolate on the bottom and have some word related to girl scouting on the top. As we nosh, we're reading off the cookies to each other...

Me: "Courage."

RobertaX: "Confidence."

Me: "Friendship."

RobertaX: "Character."

Me: "'Nother courage."

RobertaX: "Waterboarding."

Me: "Huh?!?"

RobertaX: "Apparently they're a very up-to-date organization."

*Insert long pause as next row of cookies is divvied up.*

RobertaX: (obviously on some new train of through) "You know, somewhere on this planet there is a twisted individual paying a dominatrix to waterboard him."

Me: (still on previous conversation) "Dressed as a Girl Scout?!?!"

*'Nother long pause, this time for a helpless fit of the giggles."

Me: "This was mostly your schtick, I guess you get to blog it."

RobertaX: "No thanks. I don't think I want the Google hits I'd get from 'dominatrix', 'waterboarding' and 'Girl Scout'. Besides, my mom reads my blog."

Oh, and happy 96th birthday, Girl Scouts of the USA!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Gun geek bliss!

Why had nobody told me about this site before? How did I ever survive not knowing that my early 1904 manufactured Colt Pocket Hammerless has "plunge milled" slide serrations, while my later 1905-vintage gun has "triangular cut" ones? I mean, I noticed they were different and all, but now I know why.

Also, I have an uncontrollable urge now to go pull the nicer one out just so I can look at the pretty fire-blued small parts. They're like jewelry for the gun...


Proof that the goofy "what gun are you?" meme that is making the rounds is complete and utter bovine exhaust:

I am a: Walther, Model PPK in .380 auto
Firearms Training
What kind of handgun are YOU?

I wouldn't use ground-up PPK's to line my cat's litter box.

Plus, the quiz is hosted by the site for Iggy Piazza's gun camp. When you finish the quiz, there's another quiz where the Four Weapon Combat Master himself promises you a FREE GIFT (like maybe an e-meter or a prayer hankie, or the title to a half acre of desert scrub and a super triple platinum eternal lifetime gun camp membership) if you answer half of the questions correctly. The tone is set by the first question:
1) Which of the following handguns would you consider the best for general self defense?
Single Action Revolver, example: Colt Peacemaker
Double Action Revolver, example: Smith and Wesson Model 29
Double Action Semi-auto, example: Beretta 92F
Single Action Semi-auto, example: Colt 1911
Safe Action Semi-Auto, example: Glock
Action Adventure Hero Auto, example: UFP2000 though there's a "correct" answer other than "the gun I shoot the best and am most comfortable with carrying."

Another good one was:
8) What handgun would you recommend for a woman who wants to protect herself?
Pocket pistol
Small revolver
Single action semi-auto
Double action semi-auto
Safe action semi-auto
Oddly enough, 'let the li'l darlin' pick out what she can shoot best' was not an option. Oh, crap! I'm a woman who wants to protect herself! Maybe I've been carrying the wrong gun all along. I sure hope not.

My favorite, however, was question number nine:
9) What do you feel is the best handgun caliber for general self defense?
.45 ACP
.40 S&W
.357 magnum
.38 Special
I had no idea that there was a definitive answer to this question. Just think of the on-line arguments I could win if I knew the right answer to the "Bestest Caliber" question! I'd better submit my answers so I can get the correct ones from the horse's... er, mouth. I hurriedly tick off a random answer to #10 and then try to see how my (and I quote) "Weapons and Tactics Knowledge Stacks Up Against Front Sight Firearms Training Institute's Founder and Director, Four Weapons Combat Master, Dr. Ignatius Piazza". Mouse hand all a-tremble, I click the "view results" button and...

...get taken to a page where Dr. Piazza, DC, FWCM, ETC, wants my email address. Just so he can grade my paper, you know.

Fat chance, pal.

Someone talked!

After she and TD let loose a flurry of cryptic message posting, Squeaky Wheel finally leaks the news.

Gun nuttery...

Sebastian finds evidence that he's a gun nut... in the laundry room, of all places.

For me, the most damning evidence of gun nuttery was when I discovered a cartridge in my purse. Not just any cartridge, either. This was a big-bore rimfire cartridge that had to be a hundred years old, its copper alloy case green with verdigris, and I had no idea what caliber it was, when I had received it, or who gave it to me and where. It was just rolling around in the bottom of my purse... No doubt someone had known of my fondness for 19th Century firearms and handed it to me during a conversation and I had filed it away in my purse without filing it away in my memory.

Today In History: We Like Mike.

On this date in 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev was elected General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Just five years later, that and a quarter would buy you a cup of coffee, but not at the Moscow Hard Rock Cafe. I'll say this about the man: He always looked polished and unruffled as he dead-sticked it in with big pieces falling off...

An odd sense of priorites.

State Representative Sally Kerns of Oklahoma, a strong proponent of making sure that OK remains a leading exporter of comic material to the blogosphere, seems to have a bit of trouble distinguishing the relative dangers posed by Al-Qaeda versus those posed by gay cooties. Charles G. Hill at Dustbury gives her a chalk talk, highlighting some of the bigger differences.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Close the polls...

...we have us a winner:

Tippy-tappy on the keyboard and...

...the Sunday Smith is up. It's a shiny one, too. And I mean "shiny" in the Firefly sense of the word.

How has the internet changed you?

Saturday I picked up the newspaper. On the front page was what could have been a stock photo of the President that had been pulled out of a file because it was named "sadBush.jpg". Before I could consciously process the actual headline, my mind filled in the caption "Oh noes! Our economy is teh suxx0rz!"


I'm subconsciously seeing lolpoliticians now...

I blame the government, part two...

In a recent post, The Munchkin Wrangler compared the torque-y V6-powered Grand Caravan he uses for munchkin hauling duties to the VW minivan he borrowed from his brother the last time he visited Germany. Despite the Vee-Dub's smaller displacement, its powerplant didn't feel overwhelmed at all to Marko. Noting the cost of fuel these days, he wondered aloud why turbodiesel engines like the one in the VW Sharan weren't as ubiquitous here as they are in Europe.

Readers offered suggestions in comments, blaming the lack of diesels currently available in the US on everything from GM's godawful Oldsmobile experiment in the 70s, to shallow American consumers not perceiving the diesel as "bling-y" enough, to sunspots. If I'm typing about it here, you know who the real culprit is, right? That's right: The Government.

The evil, Kyoto-denying Bush administration, or at least its Environmental Protection arm, decided that diesels, even the VW ECOdiesels so beloved by the Gaia-worshiping, muesli-chomping wannabe-Euroweenie crowd, put out too many noxious emissions to be sold in this fair land, at least in passenger cars. Well, they do unless they're Mercedes BlueTec models, with the new piss Diesel Emissions Fluid injection system.

Today In History: Armageddon!

On this date in 1982, everyone on the Earth was killed as massive tidal forces ripped the planet's crust, triggering tsunamis and earthquakes of Biblical proportions during the great Syzygy.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

I blame the government.

Stupid Daylight Savings Time...

The Sunday Smith isn't finished, but it's beddie-bye time for me.

Tomorrow morning, then.


Having Rannie wandering around in this strange mood is like having a grenade rolling around on the floor of the house with the pin pulled. You never know when she's going to stop chirping, chortling, and purring and turn into a spitting, psychotic whirl of yowling claws.

Last night she took to hopping onto the bed and issuing wild-eyed death threats to Mittens, who was attempting to sleep next to mommy's head, as is her wont. Rannie wound up banished to the outer darkness. Or at least the living room, on the other side of a closed door.

There's only room for one self-absorbed bundle of neuroses in this house, cat. Keep it up and it's medical experiments for you.

Just another lazy Sunday.

I will consider my day an outstanding success if I can get the Sunday Smith written this afternoon. Now that the WiFi network is up'n'running, I need to look into freshening the batteries in the iBook (and maybe ditto the Wall Street, as well as installing OS X on the older G3) so's I can pester y'all from the coziness of the front porch.

Speaking of the front porch...

In other news, my short-sightedness has left me facing the prospect of a whole day with only two Long Hammer IPA's in the fridge. Indiana's alcohol laws are subtly different from those of the last two states I lived in:

1) Alcohol on Sundays: In the Metro Atlanta and Indianapolis areas, you will apparently burn in hell if you are allowed to purchase alcohol for off-premises consumption on a Sunday. Your immortal soul is safe in Knoxville, however, so long as you do so after 10:00AM (don't want the Baptists picking up a sixer on the way to church, I guess.)

2) Where To Buy: In Atlanta, hard liquor was available only at liquor stores, who also sold beer, mixers, chips, smokes, and whatnot. In Indy, you can get your whiskey at Kroger, or the CVS for that matter. In Knoxville, anything above an alcohol content of 6% (this includes wine and big beers) is only available at liquor stores, which are not allowed to sell anything but beverages with greater than 6% ABV; no chips, no mixers, no smokes, no newspapers, not bupkis.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Rollin', rollin', rollin'...

...keep them kitties rollin'!

Today we opened the door between the front and back halves of the house to bring the two cat herds together. Random Numbers is wandering around the new territory, yowling at nothing in particular. Tommy the geriatricat is feverishly loading his squirt gun at the watering hole, obviously preparatory to writing his name on something. Their staff is nervously standing by with towels to variously throw over combatants or mop up cat graffiti. Blogging may be light.

UPDATE: Random Numbers is still a seething, yowling mass of anger. She offered her editorial comment on the overall situation by invading the other cats' litter box. You don't want to know what eight pounds of psychotic fury compressed into an extruded pellet the size of your little finger smells like, trust me.

A New Game:

Awful B-Movie Title or Fair & Balanced News Headline? You Decide:

Sadistic Killer Lesbians Shared Blood Lust

(H/T to Brian J. Noggle)

I didn't do it, I didn't mean to do it, and I'll never do it again...

So, after getting caught with its hand in the cookie jar, the FBI offered up a flurry of explanations that would be familiar to the parent of any grade-schooler. Let's parse them, shall we?
The breach occurred before the FBI enacted broad new reforms in March 2007 to prevent future lapses, FBI Director Robert Mueller said.
Translation: We're big kids now and we don't do that any more. That was back when we were just little kids.
And it was caused, in part, by banks, telecommunication companies and other private businesses giving the FBI more personal client data than was requested.
Plus, it was the other kids' fault, too. Everyone was doing it. We didn't really want to; they made us.
The new audit, which examines use of national security letters issued in 2006, "will identify issues similar to those in the report issued last March," Mueller told senators. The privacy abuse "predates the reforms we now have in place," he said.

"We are committed to ensuring that we not only get this right, but maintain the vital trust of the American people,"
...and we'll never do it again. Honest!

(Hey, Mueller, you can only "maintain" what you actually have. The word you were looking for is "regain". Honest.)

Friday, March 07, 2008

The past is another country.

The Newbery Medal is presented each year by the American Library Association to the author of the outstanding American book for children. Winners from my childhood that I have loved included Bridge to Terebithia, A Wrinkle In Time, The Westing Game, The Grey King, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, The High King, and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Most of those books I have gone on and re-purchased and re-read as an adult, and loved them just as much.

The 2007 winner was a book by the title of The Higher Power, whose most notable feature was a row over the use of the word "scrotum" in a children's book.

Thanks to a good friend, I have just finished reading the 1942 Newbery winner, a book entitled The Matchlock Gun. I can only shake my head and agree with my friend that this wonderful little tale would never survive in a modern children's library. You see, from cover to cover the whole book would be deemed thoughtcrime in today's America.

Sad, really...

I'm so domestic...

I've spent the morning running a load through the dishwasher, washing dishes in the sink, and cleaning the kitchen. Of my own volition.

That sound you just heard was people fainting from Knoxville to Atlanta.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go fix some lunch and then go fold laundry...

More chicks with guns.

Atlanta's artsy, in-town Creative Loafing weekly has a piece up on GSU professor Nancy Floyd's new book, She's Got A Gun, including several excerpts:
I was curious – I wanted to know who these women were and what motivated them to pick up a gun. I wanted to know how they handled their difference at a mostly male shooting range, police precinct, or military base. Where did they get their training? What kinds of guns did they shoot? Even the clothing they wore and the types of carrying cases they chose interested me. Why were they entering, in many cases, troubled waters where "no women allowed" signs were posted in most people's minds?

Go see.

I've seen it a hundred times...

...and it keeps getting funnier every time I see it. :)

Today In History: Over the Rhine.

On this date in 1945, advance elements of the U.S. 9th Armored Division managed to seize the Ludendorff Bridge, which spanned the Rhine near the town of Remagen, intact. For the next 24 hours, American troops poured across the structure to establish a secure bridgehead on the far bank of the Rhine.

Despite frantic German efforts to destroy the bridge, including the use of early jet bombers and ballistic missiles, it remained standing for ten days. By the time it fell into the Rhine, its collapse was a moot point, since U.S. combat engineers had bridged the river and the lodgement on the far side had spread out far enough to be quite secure.

Lipstick on a pig.

re: HDTV.

Has anybody ever been sitting around and thought "Y'know, if only this vapid, content-free crap was more crisp and colorful, I'd totally watch it"?

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Tales of the Gun Show.

A couple of gun shows ago there was a guy wandering the floor towing around what looked from a distance like a Gew.88 "Commission Rifle" that was missing its barrel jacket. Getting closer, I could tell from the godawful wood that it had spent some time in China. I asked to look at it, and discovered that it was in fact a Chinese Type 88 "Hanyang" rifle; a crude Chinese copy of the Steyr copy of the German original. The wood was pretty beat up and it was missing a bottom metal screw, the buttplate, and a stock fitting out by the nosecap. The exterior was surprisingly un-rusted with no real pits and a smooth brown patina, while the action was caked with a sludgelike mix of old WD-40 varnish and dust.

I asked him what he wanted for it, more out of curiosity than anything else, and he said something about how he'd wanted $100, but these guys were telling him it wasn't worth that, so he'd take $75. I thanked him for his time and walked on.

I stopped at a table run by some crufflers I knew and asked them if they'd seen the abomination. They had. They asked if I'd looked down the bore. "No, why?" I replied

"Because the last person to stick a bore brush down it pulled what was left of the rifling out in a cloud of orange dust," they laughed.

It turned out they'd offered him $35 or $40 for it, which it was probably worth in spare parts, and he'd left in something of a huff. I smiled at the story and continued my stroll.

A couple of hours later, I ran into him again, still dragging the gun-shaped tomato stake with him. "No luck?" I inquired, sympathetically.

"Nah," he said, dejectedly, "They all say it's worthless 'cept maybe for spare parts."

I need this thing like I need a hole in my head... but I am such a sucker for a poor, neglected military rifle.

I rummaged through my pocket... A twenty, a five, and four ones.

"Will you take $29 for it?" He would and did.

The rifle, amazingly enough, headspaces fine, although I doubt I'll ever work up the nerve to shoot it. The bore is so awful it'll probably keyhole at seven yards anyway. But I didn't have a Hanyang 88, and now I do. It can keep my Chiang Kai Shek rifle (for which I had paid the princely sum of $55 back in '02) company in the safe.

I hear the tales of guys who bought rifles for $15 and $20 back in the day, but back then an Andrew Jackson was real money; nowadays twenty-nine bucks will barely buy a fancy lunch.

Who else has a cheap milsurp story?

Are you sure you know what you're doing?

When I was stocking gun store shelves, one type of item I tried to make sure to keep in inventory was gunsmithing tools: files, stones, and yes, even Dremels.
"But Tam," I'd hear, "there's a gunsmithing department out back! Why are you stocking that stuff?"

Exactly. And there's nothing like an overconfident DIY'er to keep them busy, too.

There are a hundred and eleventy ways to booger up your gun unless you know exactly what you are doing. While light primer strikes caused by backing out the strain screw on your S&W revolver to "make the trigger pull smoother" are fairly easily remedied, it can cost a lot of money to find out that it's hard to put metal back that shouldn't have been taken away in the first place.

Now, I like gunsmiths. A lot of my friends are gunsmiths. I don't want them to starve. But I think that they wouldn't mind me reminding folks to be sure and know what they're doing before they try and take metal away.

Besides, it's not like anyone listens, anyway. ;)

Speaking of Fire in the Belly...

...what happened to mine? I was reading through old threads on The Firing Line and found one from 2001 where some guy was complaining about how much money Bill Gates had in his Scrooge McDuck vault. Given today's demotion of Billy Boy to Number Three on the big list, I'll roll out this old fisking for your perusal:

He was not rich when he started. Big deal. He still has more money than he personally needs.
Needs? I wasn't aware that freedom was a needs-based condition. How many bullets do you need in your magazines? How many guns do you need to own? How fast does your car need to go? Do you really need that fast of a CPU in your PC? Part of the magic of this nation is that need doesn't enter into our economy, else Ben & Jerry's and Hagen Dazs would be Tango Uniform inside of a week.
Despite the hatred of welfare so often found amongst conservatives, there are indeed some people who truly need it.
We only guarantee the pursuit of happiness here. Catching it is up to you.
Why does it hurt that this man pay a vastly larger share of the costs
Why should we endorse using the guns of the state to extort a larger percentage of money from this person, simply because he has the audacity to have it, and we think it could be better spent elswhere? Down that line of thinking lies all sorts of nastiness, from the confiscation of farms from the kulaks to the looting of Foot Locker stores during urban riots.
when his wealth is made possible by our consumer environment and our money which is all created on a collective basis.
I don't know about you, but I'm not part of any "collective". Nothing gets done on a "collective basis"; there are only bazillions of individual human beings who make individual decisions to drive a Ford or eat at Burger King. I recall my purchases of various Microsoft products fairly well, and am quite sure that I was not under the control of the Hive Mind or ordered to purchase them by the State.
I believe something like 70% of all money in this nation is controlled by less than 1% of the population. That pisses me off.
I don't care if 70% of the cash in this land was controlled by one guy. More power to him! Look, prosperity is not a finite item like a Domino's pizza, whereby if Bill Gates has eight slices of pepperoni and extra cheese, then you and I have to eat the cardboard box; prosperity, wealth, capital, money, value is something that is created by effort, inspiration, intelligence, and sometimes pure dumb luck.

Think of a lottery winner; how much of his money came out of your pocket? Unless you bought a ticket, none. When you gave Microsponge your money, did you feel you got value in return? If not, return the product and demand a refund; if so, then what matters it to you how many other people made the same transaction? Why should the people who make the least use of this vast leviathan of a welfare state have to pony up the largest share of its cost in total dollars as well as percentages of income taken? Billy Boy probably pays more in taxes than everyone on this board put together, and for what? He's sure not gonna make use of public schools or hospitals. All the return he gets on those tax dollars is some indifferent pothole repair on his street, the Heathen Chinee Navy kept away from the coasts, and a horde of federal lawyers who are payed with his tax dollars hounding him with ridiculous charges for being too successful.

Once upon a time, America used to worship the underdog. We'd send our kids to play high school football so that they could learn that sometimes the other guy may be bigger and faster and stronger, but that what counted most was fire in the belly, the grit to get knocked down and get back up and try again.

Now, in everything from income taxes to Japanese car companies to the silly federal harassment of Microsoft, we're teaching our kids that if the other guy's bigger and faster and stronger, just whine to the ref and maybe he'll make the other team wear lead boots.

Capitolism works by our government producing a system and a currency, and then we use that system to divide up labor so we can get more done.
I'll leave you with a quote from noted hardcore conservative thinker, Hank Thoreau:
Yet this government never of itself furthered any enterprise, but by the alacrity with which it got out of its way. It does not keep the country free. It does not settle the West. It does not educate. The character inherent in the American people has done all that has been accomplished; and it would have done somewhat more, if the government had not sometimes got in its way. For government is an expedient, by which men would fain succeed in letting one another alone; and, as has been said, when it is most expedient, the governed are most let alone by it. Trade and commerce, if they were not made of india-rubber, would never manage to bounce over obstacles which legislators are continually putting in their way; and if one were to judge these men wholly by the effects of their actions and not partly by their intentions, they would deserve to be classed and punished with those mischievous persons who put obstructions on the railroads.

Sometimes getting the words out is such a pain in the butt...

Sometimes you just sit down at the computer and feel the snark surge from your fingertips to the keyboard like the electrical arc in a mad scientist's laboratory.

Other times you can't get the words out of your head with a shop vac.

Today my muse is apparently on vacation in the Bahamas, getting a nice tan and reading some cheesy Gresham on the beach, while I'm stuck here in the middle of a vast, frozen billiard table with my tongue tied in knots...


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

We need to add this to the presidential selection process.

"Okay, Senator McCain, you've clinched the nomination. Congratulations. Now for the next step: Put on these gloves..."

You gotta really want the job.

(Plus, it would be totally worth it to see McCain, Hillary, and Obama dancing around while their hands were shot full of neurotoxin by hundreds of pissed-off jungle ants. I might give up bayonet lugs for Lent just to see that.)


It appears to have precipitated an inch-and-a-half thick layer of clear ice BB's all over everything today, cleverly concealed under a light dusting of powder. I'm going to need an ice scraper or something to clear the front walk. Maybe this is a good reason to buy a flamethrower.

Today In History: Massacree!

On this date in 1770, government troops under Captain Thomas Preston opened fire into an unruly mob of civilians in the city of Boston, killing five. The incident outraged the public and fanned the flames of revolution against the central government.

In retrospect, the government should have claimed that the crowd may have had illegal guns, was manufacturing drugs, and was maybe even touching small children inappropriately. Then the redcoats could have shot another fifty or seventy-five and nobody would have revolted against anything.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

You're doing it even wronger.

Please report to the nearest Soylent Green vat and jump in. Oh, and do remember to strip first. Thank you for your cooperation.

Overheard in the living room...

So I'm piddling around in the dining room when I hear my roomie's voice wafting from the room with the big TeeWee:

"You never take out the trash! Oh yeah? Well, you snore! The sofa would look so much better over there!"

Suddenly confused, I stuck my head in the room and asked "What are you talking about?"

"Oh," she explained "the news crawler on the TV said 'California To Hear Gay Marriage Arguments' and I was wondering what made them different from regular marriage arguments."

Like night follows day.

Sure as god made little green apples, give a government a list of gun owners and the government will find a reason to use that list to round up the guns. It's happening in California even as we speak.

"Oh, Tamara," you say, "but it was illegal for these people to own guns!" Yeah, today it's a boilerplate restraining order, tomorrow a Prozac prescription, the day after will be membership in unpopular political or religious groups, and next week it'll be unpaid parking tickets. Once the .gov has a list of where the guns are, all they have to do is tinker with the requirements of ownership and they can round up as many as they want.

Registration leads to confiscation, with 100% correlation.

Each and every place, each and every time.