Saturday, May 31, 2008

I will only use my powers for Good...

I got home from the show today (report to follow tomorrow) and noticed that the power was still out. I left the car parked in the alley, hiked around the block to the front of the house, and opened the door while obviously fuming.

Roberta X was there and asked "What's wrong?"

"%^*#$@%^*&*@! Indy Power & Light! I can't %^*&^# believe the power is still out! I'm going to call those $%&@($%&^ right now."

At that exact instant, the power came back on.

It hasn't gone off again since.

Fear me.

Friday, May 30, 2008

And you think you have to wait for a plumber.

Think about this story next time you carp about a plumber's bill. And these guys can't just hop off the back porch and run behind a bush, either...

Fun show!

This weekend you should come see me at the fabulous Indy 1500 gun show. I will be using my mad, 1337 gun show skillz to help crew the tables of intergalactically-famous SF- and He-Man-Adventure author Michael Z. Williamson. Come say "Hi!", chat, maybe buy a sharp pointy thing. It will be cool; you'll love it.

Today In History: As ye sow...

On this date in 1942, the wind that the Luftwaffe had sown over Guernica, Rotterdam, Coventry, and Belgrade came back a whirlwind in the night skies of Cologne as the city became the victim of the RAF's first 1,000 bomber raid.

One of those thousand bombers was the Avro Manchester skippered by Flying Officer Leslie Thomas Manser. With the tail gunner wounded and an engine aflame, F.O. Manser kept his plane flying as long as he could. As the conflagration began to engulf the cockpit, he ordered the crew to jump, remaining at the controls of the doomed aircraft so that his men could bail out safely. He was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions.

O gullible for spacious lies!

Do you take your local paper?

Check the index; I'll bet it has an "Ancient Superstitious B.S." section. Probably right next to the comics and Dear Abby. Find it yet? In yesterday's Indy Star it was on page E3: The Horoscope.

Oddly, the newspaper no longer pays money for someone to read a sheep's liver every day, nor do they devote column inches to the shapes of flocks of birds or the number of two-headed calves born in the state, and we would rightfully laugh in their faces if they did, yet for some reason it makes perfect sense to print a quickie advice column for the gullible based on the position of certain heavenly bodies when they were born.

Some folks try to tart it up in scientific trappings; an attempt to draw a veil of respectability over something that is really naught but a vestige of primitive beliefs in auguries and auspices. "It's gravity!" they say "The planets and stars exerted gravitational effects on you when you were born and they do to this day." Try and explain to them that, thanks to the magic of the inverse square law, if they wanted to cast their horoscope for the day then they should be charting the exact position of their mom, the table, and the attending physician that delivered them and not the planet Jupiter, and you get a blank stare.

The horoscopes themselves have to be read to be believed. Let's check mine in the Star from yesterday:
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Ask for the terms of a pending financial agreement in writing.
Well. Good advice, no? All you Geminis and Capricorns can forget about the contracts; y'all just go on a handshake. Me, I need to get stuff in writing. I have to wonder, though, if that's just for yesterday. Do I need to have stuff written down today, too? What about next week? Everybody else's horoscope for the day is equally vague or else just plain good sense.

At the top of the column, in tiny print, it says "This column is for entertainment only" which is good, because I can't see it being useful for much else except taking up space that could be used for ads or editorial content or lining cat boxes. I'll tell you this, though: Watch what happens if they cut that "entertainment" column; imagine the howls of protest when Edna can't find out if "Haste makes waste in affairs of the heart," or George doesn't know if he should "Find more effective ways to communicate with your boss." And we let these people vote. Hell, sometimes we elect them President and give them the keys to the bombs. Kinda makes you stop and think for a moment, doesn't it?

Anyhow, that's my spin on astrology.

Better stuff can be found at Ambulance Driver, Atomic Nerds, Better and Better, the Lawdog Files, and the Munchkin Wrangler.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Overheard in the living room...

TeeWee Narrator: "On the island there is the saying 'Love enters through the kitchen...'"

Me: "...and stabs you in the shower."

It's the simple things.

Very simple things can really get me looking forward to tomorrow.

For example, knowing that I have onion & garlic bagels, cream cheese, and smoked salmon in the fridge has me almost as excited as Christmas used to when I was little. I want to go to bed so it will hurry up and be morning and I can chow down on them.

Y'know, after you've been doing this a while... can tell what the average weather was like in the US on a given day by looking at SiteMeter.

Fatuous Headline Of The Week:

From an article at the New York Times:
Power and Politics Attracted McCain to the Senate
Well thank you Captain Obvious. I thought he was attracted to the Senate by the chance to improve his flower-arranging skills like all those other politicians, you dolt. (Except for the Kennedys. It's the chance to meet hot babes that attracts them.)

My Exciting Day:

So far I have done two loads of laundry, watered and weeded the veggies and herbs in the back yard and the flowers out front, emptied the dishwasher, cooked lunch, finished a book, helped the termite guy, changed litter boxes, and blogged some.

Next up: Mowing the front yard, sweeping the sidewalks, hauling the trash 'round front, and getting all creative and writing 2,000-ish words. Maybe running to the grocery store.

It's so exciting to be me!

"Themes to me, we all want to talk about it... don't turn your pretty head and walk away."

Pardon the bad play on Joe Walsh lyrics.

Tomorrow we'll be trying a bit of a blog experiment: MattG, Lawdog, the Munchkin Wrangler, Ambulance Driver, the Atomic Nerds, and myself will all be offering our divergent thoughts on a convergent topic. None of us knows what the others will write about said topic, so it will be interesting for me, even if for no one else.

If enough folks find the coordinated ruminations of two Texas cops, a couple of bums freelance writers, a bayou medic, and a pair of certified twenty-pound brains from Los Alamos fascinating, then this may become a recurring feature. If it sucks, it was all my idea. If it rocks, Matt did it.

Kitchen notes:

1) Yes, the label on the salsa jar says "Medium", but the brand name is "Pain Is Good". Adjust expectations of "mediumness" accordingly. (It won't have you lunging for a water glass, but it's pretty zesty.)

2) Marsh had a sale on the little 3 oz. packets of Chicken of the Sea pink salmon; something like eight or ten for ten bucks, and so I stocked up. Dump one in a bowl, squirt in a dollop of honey mustard and a dollop of mayo, stir, glop onto bread, and yum!

That started my day with a giggle.

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota (AP) -- A convicted felon who became a motivational speaker -- and used his life experiences to warn teens about the dangers of drugs and crime -- is accused of going on a bender, threatening to kill his girlfriend and her son, and smashing a former prison buddy in the face with a statue of John Wayne.
Well, maybe he said something bad about the Duke...

I dunno why that kicked over my giggle box. You have to admit that the John Wayne statue adds the perfect Dada touch to the paragraph, though.

It's not really "hate", per se...

A commenter yesterday asked why I was hating on him for driving a pickup. Which, you know, I wasn't, but let's clear a few things up.

I do hate badly driven vehicles, and badly driven large vehicles especially. Actually "hate" probably isn't the right word. If there was some word that meant "Loathe, abhor, detest, despise, wish eternal damnation upon", then that would be about right. If you are way up there in a big truck, those of us way down here in Nazi roller skates are counting on you to not have your head crammed up your fourth point of contact because we can't see what's going on in front of you.

If you are driving smoothly, deftly, and safely, then we will all be fine. If, on the other hand, the only view you have of the road is through your belly button, and even that is obscured by your iPhone screen, then we are going to have problems, because we can't see through your little boat propellor hitch decoration to the school bus full of handicapped nuns you're about to plow into either, which means that we'll be following right behind you into the conflagration.

Now, as for not liking trucks, that's purely a personal thing with me. I wouldn't drive one as a daily vehicle because I enjoy driving and don't need the carrying mojo of a truck on any kind of regular basis. I also wouldn't drive most sedans, wagons, or econoboxes either, by choice. I'm not one of these weirdos who think any vehicle I wouldn't drive should be banned, however. Drive what you want, it's still mostly a free country. Just please drive it well.

...and the Morlocks amongst them.

KdT's new Geopoliticus site has an interesting rumination on our contribution to the Eloi culture across the pond.

Today In History: The end. For real, this time.

On this date in 1453, the Ottoman armies of Mehmed II captured Constantinople, sacking the city at the end of an almost two month long siege. Constantine XI, the last Roman emperor, is believed to have perished in the fighting or the subsequent rapine. His body was never identified.

With Islam ascendant in the city of Constantine the Great on the Golden Horn, the last vestiges of the empire of the caesars were finally swept away.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Like driving in a hole.

Thank $DEITY that the macho station wagons on stilts all you cell-phone-yammering, latte-sipping, rug-rat-swatting suburbanites have taken to driving have such crappy brakes, because I can't see what's happening on the road in front of you, and you're apparently not paying attention to it. If I leave a cut-in-front-of-me-please two-ish or three-ish car length gap between the snout of my roadster and the soccer ball sticker on the ass end of your family bus, the difference between your timid weejun on the drums and my panicked stab deep into the ABS discs should continue to more than make up for your attention-deficit driving.

I know that repeating this is fruitless and is probably just talking to hear my head roar, but Driving Is An Audience Participation Activity, Folks! The world beyond your windshield is really there and can have very real effects on your vehicle and its occupants if you don't use the provided controls to attempt to interact with it. The suction cup dealie in your window says "Precious Cargo" so drive like you believe it, okay?

Missing the point entirely.

I don't know whether the American Hunters & Shooters Association is a good organization or a bad one.
The point, Mr. Eblen, is that it's a synthetic one. Bogus. Astroturf all the way. It doesn't exist outside of a website and some donations from the political-minded on the left. It's a Q-Ship. A false flag operation. Disinformation. A Potemkin village. Imaginary as the day is long. The mailing list of their actual non-paid members would fit on the back of a postage stamp with room to spare.

Heck, you say you're all for a good compromise organization, and then you body slam the NRA for being hard-line and "no-compromise". Do you realize how clueless that makes you look?

(H/T to Unc.)

Commisar Obamaski.

Folks have apparently pointed out to Barry that while he may be in the Red Army, his uncle most certainly wasn't.

For the geeks... latest column is up at LEM.

Today In History: A very long run for a very short slide.

The Russo-Japanese War opened in February of 1904 with the Japanese launching a surprise assault on the Russian fleet at Port Arthur without benefit of a declaration of war, something that would grow to become a lovable Japanese trademark throughout the 20th Century. The remainder of the Tsar's Pacific squadron was soon either sunk or bottled up in Port Arthur.

A relief force consisting of most of the rest of the Russian navy set sail from the Baltic in October, its objective being the relief of besieged Port Arthur. Since they were in something of a tiff with Great Britain, the Suez canal was barred to them, and as a result the had to take the long way 'round Africa while Port Arthur fell to the Imperial Japanese Army.

After a seven month, 18,000-mile voyage, the mighty battleships of the Tsar's navy were sighted in the Tsushima Straits by the navy of a country that had been dragged kicking and screaming from a medieval agrarian existence not forty years before. Most of the Baltic Fleet ended their epic voyage on the bottom of the sea.

By the morning of May 28, the few surviving Russian ships surrendered to Admiral Togo, who had beaten their pants off with superior technology, superior seamanship, and superior tactics. To say the rest of the world was stunned would be something of an understatement.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Be there, or be an equilateral quadrangle.


...but somebody's gotta do it.

Og ponders the dirty jobs: A good read.

Tree rats!

Some &^*@# tree rat apparently buried its stash last fall in the flower pot on the front porch. I know this because my little nemophila sprouts get trampled and half-buried every two or three days by the verminous pest's digging activities.

Sadly, the good citizens of Broad Ripple would probably not take kindly to me taking up station on said porch with my trusty Benjamin Sheridan and putting an RWS .22 cal field pellet through his boiler room the next time he makes an appearance, and there are no good windows overlooking the pot to use for a sniper hide...

Not that I'm bitter or anything...

...but Bushhamster had spirited off the Masada before I got to their booth on Sunday.

Other than the SCAR, it's the first new rifle intro that has piqued my curiosity. (The AUG was a curiosity the first time around; if I wanted one, I'd have bought one then. The SIG 556 could be fine if they hadn't dropped the ball with the charging handle placement. On the other hand, it's not like my M4geries are inadequate or anything...)

Things I thought I'd never hear, No. 438:

Two years ago, I never thought I'd read the following at PDB's blog:

(FYI, Playtex Vent Aire bottles are the bomb diggedy shiznit.)

Baby rattles are breaking up that old gang of mine...

Color me unsurprised.

Unlike the do-gooders of the planet, I am less than surprised that there is yet another rape scandal involving UN peacekeeping troops in some poor corner of the world that, by rights, has seen enough misery without it being added to by the UN.

The very premise of the whole peacekeeping thing is flawed. You see, because a country is in the UN, we can't tell them:
"We're sorry, Mr. President-For-Life of Absurdistan, but you're a Third World hell hole whose army is stocked by illiterate gutter sweepings who were given a choice between prison or the infantry, and your patronage-based, class-conscious officer's corps is too professionally incompetent and riddled by graft and corruption to control them.
You can't even keep the peace in your own country, so we'll have to politely decline your request to send The President's Own 3rd Light Infantry Regiment to join the UN peacekeeping effort in Upper Revolta.
No, in a UN where Syria can sit on the Human Rights committee, we have to pretend that all countries are equal.

Not every country has the same military traditions shared, to one extent or another, by most of the Western democracies. My friend Oleg is from Russia, which compared to Backwoodistan or East Lemuria is practically the same as us culturally, and he was mildly surprised to meet a number of current and ex-servicemembers who were not only literate, but actually cultured, despite being NCOs or even junior enlisted men. The concept of a poetry-reading sergeant was foreign to his experience as a youth in the USSR. Imagine, then, the further gulf between civilization and the members of a military who are little more than street gangs with uniforms, and you wonder why anyone's shocked when they engage in a touch of rapine when sent to "keep the peace" in a foreign land.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The primordial jungle.

Spent another interminable period digging sprouted maple spinners out of the garden. Some especially devious ones had attempted to sprout right in the middle of some of the chives and the dill. Lordy, I cannot get over the success rate of these things; it seems a random maple helicopter that lands in the yard has a better chance of sprouting than seeds I carefully plant and nurture.

Things I Have Learned: Keep an eye on the soil over the garlic & scallions and make sure it stays good and broken up and doesn't set into concrete after the rains. The middle garlic plant and some of the scallions that have finally sprouted look like they were mulched with cinderblocks.

The carrots have sprouted.

Some random musings on banner ads...

" - is not a dirty website.": Color me skeptical.

"Congratulations! You are the XXXXXth visitor! Click here for your free XXXX. This is not a joke!": In a perfect world, anyone who clicked on this thing would receive an instant electric shock through their mouse button of at least... well, how many volts does it take to reliably sterilize someone, anyway?

How come the banner pimping Gatlinburg, TN shows scenic shots of peaceful mountains, rather than t-shirt shops, traffic jams, tchotchke vendors, outlet malls, and go-kart tracks?

Pretend you don't see this.

In the interest of good taste, I've been staying away from the whole grimly unfolding Senator Kennedy saga. I'll only pause for a moment to wonder why not one of his benighted generation could die in an unsympathetic or non-mediagenic fashion. Given their demonstrated proclivities, what are the odds of an entire cohort of this noted family of substance-abusing, philandering demagogues escaping jealous husbands, cirrhosis of the liver, ruptured aneurisms while sharing a bed with someone of tenuous morals, or Herpes Simplex 1, 2, 12, and 14 through 25, inclusive? Instead, the Evel Knievel of Chappaquidick appears headed for a grim end, one which I wouldn't wish on... well, even a Kennedy.

There have been darkly humorous side effects, however.

A David Broder column reprinted in the Indy Star the other day contained the line
"In his 46 years in the Senate, Kennedy has probably touched more people, in more cherished ways, than any other public figure."
...and before I could stop, I heard myself mutter "They never proved that in court!"

More locally, the Bolshevik wing of the Democrat party has been unmoored enough by the (as they see it) tragedy that they feel forced into public proclamations of their historical ignorance:
Tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of innocent people in Vietnam, Iraq and elsewhere have died because of the policy of perpetual war we have lived in under Republican rule for the last 40 years.
Because we all remember how those noted GOP dictators, JFK and LBJ, used the might of the Republican-dominated Congress under neocon strongmen John McCormack, Carl Albert, and Tip O'Neill to wage unconscionable wars...

Lord, please make my enemies ridiculous. Thank you.

Memorial Day 2008



Sunday, May 25, 2008

Can't stop the signal.

The future keeps coming.

Stop and think about the following for a second: My first reaction to today's news was "Ho hum. Another lander on Mars."

What was epochal in '76 seems as routine as a trip to the grocery store in '08.

Next we can try experimental animals or maybe politicians, and if they survive the rigors of the trip, we'll be ready for a manned expedition.


Walked to the local Greek restaurant and had the best gyro I've had in a while.

Waitron: "Would you like a regular or large?"

Me: "I'll take the large, with tzatziki and feta."

Good thing we didn't order an appetizer. I am so stuffed I literally can barely type...

That's one thing I missed about living in VaHi in Atlanta over these last six years I've spent in the 'burbs: Being able to walk to restaurants and such.

Bonus: With that car racing thing going on in town today, they were happy as dammit to see real, live customers in the restaurant. Service was excellent.

I'm burnin', I'm burnin' for you...

Ripping all my CD's into iTunes has started with various movie soundtracks, from FM to Reservoir Dogs to Romeo + Juliet to Mortal Combat to The Matrix.

If you play the songs in alphabetical order by artist, this winds up with Billy Joel to Biohazard to Book Of Love to Boston to Brian Eno to the Butthole Surfers. This can play havoc with setting a mood for the day...

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Over The Top.

Heartless Libertarian reports that the 82nd Airborne did not launch a mass bayonet charge on the Secret Service's positions, despite what many would consider reasonable provocation.

When you think your job title is "Lawmaker", what do you do?

Kevin hits a home run with his latest essay:
So, in balance our government has managed to accomplish some good, but the question I have is "how much and at what cost?"
Go and read the whole thing.

Le sigh.

Why do I get bursts of inspiration that make me write my best rants late on a Friday evening?

Write something good on a Monday morning and it can get noticed, linked, emailed, spread around; if it gets good enough word of mouth you can wind up basking in the glory of an Instalanche or some other bigtime linky love... Friday night? Not likely.

I should be more cynical and say to myself "Wow. I like that. I'll sit on it and save it for publication on Monday," but instead I get as excited as a four year old with a new fingerpainting and I wanna stick it on the fridge now! Nownownow!

Ah, the New Media...

From my vantage point, Dubya's primary sin is his role in turning a conservative Republican Party into a poor imitation of democrats. While not the first, nor only example, I'll cite his advocacy of Arlen Specter over Pat Toomey 1n 2004, allowing the Sphincter to prevail by a mere 15,000 votes. I could feel the "mo" shift, right then. It resonated. It's his Republican Party apparatus that foisted John McCain upon us.
(Italics mine.)

Huh? He calls himself "curmudgeonly", so I'm assuming that means that he was old enough to be watching GOP politics in the year 2000. You know, during the primaries...

While Col. Tighe may be the poster boy for the Big Government Compromise Wing of the GOP and the Shrub is definitely the front man for the Compromising Big Government Wing, there's no love lost between the two. Neither would "foist" the other anyplace except off the end of a plank.

(H/T to KdT)

Friday, May 23, 2008

See Atlas. See Atlas shrug. Shrug, Atlas, shrug!

Don't you love it when the other side reveals its true colors? Remember Hillary back in February of last year?

"The Democrats know what needs to be done. Again, we're working to try to push this agenda forward. The other day the oil companies reported the highest profits in the history of the world. I want to take those profits..." -Sen. Clinton
Well it just got worse.

There they sat, dragged as though naughty schoolboys before the headmasters, as people unwilling or unable to hold productive jobs harangued them in a display of hubris that would be absolutely unbelievable in the worst primetime political drama. The highlight came when Representative Maxine Waters actually threatened outright theft of the companies they hold in trust for the shareholders.

It’s a good thing that Mr. Hoffmeister‘s putative better was on her lofty perch several dozen feet away, because in light of her Bolshevik bluster, he had every right to slap her in the mouth.

Say what you will about overpaid American CEOs and greedy oil companies, those men hold productive jobs. Productive: that is the key word here. Those oil companies produce a useful product, purchased freely every day by people like you and me. Those companies produce jobs, jobs with paychecks that allow people to buy the homes and cars and iPods and toaster ovens that keep our economy afloat. They produce stock dividends that make our towering edifice of 401k’s and mutual funds and retirement packages possible.

And there they were, being blatantly threatened by this gerrymandered race-baiting footsoldier of the class war, this remora on the flank of Leviathan, this vacuous sinkhole of consumption that does nothing but suck in tax dollars and shit out red tape and misery. In a perfect world, they wouldn’t have sat for that. In a just world, they’d have stood as one and walked from that room and let little Maxine foam away at her tinpot Trotskyite fantasies. In an educated world, Rep. Waters would be hounded from office and reduced to asking if Mr. Hoffmeister would like fries with that; an occupation admirably suited to her self-evident lack of economic acumen.

In this world, however, her constituents will cheer her words, and vote her another term.

And this world will deserve everything it gets.

Gee, Mister Wizard!

One of the more common mechanical causes for firearms whoopsies is a rifle that "won't stay cocked". This is generally caused by our old pal Danny Dremel the Shadetree Gunsmith deciding that he's going to do a "trigger job" on his buddy's Remchester rifle. Not understanding the proper relationship between the size and angle of various mating surfaces in the rifle's lockwork, the end result is a rifle on which the trigger is pretty much superfluous, since the sear is tripped merely by the force of closing the bolt. Hopefully the defect is discovered before the rifle is loaded, and the problem can be fixed by a gunsmith before anybody has to go to the emergency room, but sometimes life is more exciting than that.

A few years ago, Savage came out with a unit called the "Accu-Trigger", which allowed easy and safe adjustment of the trigger down to ridiculously light pull weights with no danger of the rifle going off as the bolt was closed.

Now, I may have mentioned that I'm not the world's most mechanically-inclined individual. In fact, I couldn't even visualize the working relationship of the trigger mechanism on a 1911, which is probably the simplest trigger/sear/disconnector relationship in the handgun world, until I'd detail-stripped one a few times. So you can imagine that the trigger-within-a-trigger setup on the Savage seemed like pure voodoo to me. At the NRA show, however, Savage had a cool gigantic moving model of the Accu-Trigger setup.

Aah-hah! So that's how it works. Golly, Mister Wizard...

I was just thinking about this yesterday...

...and bracing myself for the coming national malaise.

(H/T to Another Gun Blog.)


The next time somebody makes incoherent mouth noises at me about "closing the gun show loophole", I'm going to ask if that will work as well as requiring a doctor's prescription to buy narcotics has. I mean, lord knows there are no more illicit face-to-face undocumented transactions of narcotics between criminals anymore...

(And incidentally, if you are in favor of permission slips for the latter to prevent irresponsible people from misusing them, then why aren't you in favor of the former?)

I'm in love with this t-shirt...

Retropolis Ladies' World Domination Society.


Wannabe a superstar?

Back before I even really knew what a "blog" was, Rachel Lucas was totally my hero. She wrote cool stuff on the internet just 'cause she felt like it! And it was there for me to read! It was totally awesome. I wanted to be just like Rachel when I grew up.

But, you know, not if it means getting her fan mail, I don't.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Overheard in the living room...

TeeWee tuned to Discovery channel show about life in 2057AD: "In the future, your clothes will be woven with thousands of biofeedback sensors. When you get dressed, you'll go online!"

Me: "It took me twenty goddam years to get a cell phone. It'll take a lot longer than that to get me to buy panties with an internet connection."

Watch where you point that thing, buddy!

Apparently, egregious violations of the Four Rules on the show floor at the NRA Meetings weren't limited to attendees.

Having someone point a long gun at your chest from a few feet away is disconcerting, to say the least. I once had a customer step off the range after finishing up with a rented MP-5. In describing a feeding issue, he took a firing stance with the weapon pointed dead at me from right across the counter. He seemed chagrined when I rather vigorously threw myself clear of the muzzle, and said to me "It's not loaded!"

Yeah, pal, but the one on my hip is, so watch where you point that thing, okay?

Decisions, decisions...

Win a triathlon, or contact a human being by phone at Win a triathlon, or contact a human being by phone at

Hmmm... Which is better cardiovascular exercise?

Strained comparison.

In an article on a supernova astronomers recently observed out towards the constellation Lynx, the reporter on the BBC's science beat felt he had to explain supernovae to his unenlightened readers. Reaching for that most strained-yet-common of metaphors, he typed:
Exploding stars, or supernovas, are some of the most spectacular events in the Universe, producing the same amount of energy as trillions of nuclear bombs detonating simultaneously.
Which makes as much sense as saying:
Nuclear bombs, or fusion devices, are the most powerful man-made explosives, producing the same amount of energy as trillions of firecrackers detonating simultaneously.
Except that a firecracker is probably closer to a Trident warhead by a few orders of magnitude than the Trident warhead is to a supernova.

(H/T to Marko)

Today In History: Not a real high grade of steel.

On this date in 1939, Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy signed the "Pact of Steel". (Which turned out to be more of an alloy of hubristic iron from outer space and papier-mâché, actually.)

Mmmmm, fashion! Fa-fa-fa-fa-fashion! I think.

Apparently there is some dude named Thom Browne who is a fashion designer. Mr. Browne is on a one man crusade to see that PeeWee Herman becomes the next fashion role model for the American male.

I'm underwhelmed.

(Although it's about time that some really awful sartorial crap was inflicted on guys. Their clothes have been too stable since the disappearance of skinny ties twenty years ago.)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

If it's good enough for Nancy Reagan...

If you want to make something sound serious enough for Joe Sixpack and Suzy Sofaspud to accept as indisputable fact, take a Greek or Latin root word and paste "-ology" on the end of it. Folks have used this to swallow all manner of pseudosciences: phrenology, cryptozoology, Scientology, sociology, psychology and, in this case, astrology.

Here, an article at AOhelL claims that several astrologers have looked at planets, taken calipers to skull bumps, measured tea leaves, weighed life lines, and whatever other nonsense it is they use, and determined that a young charismatic offering a Rorschach-campaign with a content-free message of hope and change can out-demagogue an aging, wavering weathervane with all the charisma of a tub of cold library paste.

What if you threw a party and nobody came?

Sebastian says that the Brady Bunch website is one weak, non-reader-having, big sucking void on the intarw3b.

Astroturf, indeed. Is there anyone who thinks about (or even cares about) gun control who isn't on the clock?

At play in the fields of the bored.

Spent most of the morning in the garden, weeding and making a disturbing discovery. You know those maple spinners or helicopters or whatever? How in Kali's name can trees be so fecund? Most of the things had already stuck taproots that looked creepily like part of an excited tomcat into the dirt and were sprouting for all they were worth.

With that fertility rate, why aren't we hacking our way to the garage in the morning with machetes and mowing the lawn with a chainsaw? Why isn't Indianapolis buried in a sea of maples? Do they just start growing and then say "Just kidding!" and die or something?

I also got out the shovel and started turning over a corner of the yard for a bitty corn patch, and planted some alyssum in the border along the sidewalk by the patio. Busybusybusy, that's me.

Oh, and the radishes have sprouted.

Tote a pistol? Want to learn something?

Get schooled by Grant Cunningham.

The HK booth.

"Dear NRA Convention Attendee:

By using your free time and hard-earned cash to attend the NRA's Annual Meeting here in Louisville, you have demonstrated that you are among the solid center in the fight to retain your Right to Keep and Bear Arms. To honor your commitment, we have set up a display here at the convention featuring one of our newest ubertactical rifles.

Like it? Want one? Tough. Unless your last name is "Police Department".

Because you still suck, and we still hate you.

Heckler & Koch
"In a world of compromise with politicians, we do.""

(The catalogs didn't feature any backwards ammo this year, however.)

So very cheerful. Only not.

Reading Cormac McCarthy's The Road. Very well-written, but... Boy, this makes the ending of Ol' Yeller look like H.R. Pufnstuf. Maybe I'll follow up by re-reading All Quiet On The Western Front and 1984. If you did that, you'd probably need to be cheered up just to commit suicide.

In other news, watched the movie Sunshine the other night. Lush cinematography ("light" is practically worthy of nomination for Best Supporting Actress), great effects, interesting story, not a physics textbook; I loved it. Think Alien meets The Enemy Stars.

Today In History: Early hit.

On this date in 1941, the German sub U-69 torpedoed and sank the SS Robin Moor, a US-flagged merchantman, in the South Atlantic.

Not having tagged into the cage match yet, the American government was understandably piqued. The Germans countered by pointing out that passing folding chairs to a wrassler in the ring hardly made one a "neutral" country.

Truth in advertising.

SnarkyBytes on honest product-naming practices.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Overheard in the office...

Roberta X: "Oh, my eyes! Rusty has a pic of rainbow-hued Cobras."

Me: "Cobras? Ick. Ick in any color. I don't think I'd even dignify them with the term "wretched, pulsating ball of f*@k". I usually save that for a better grade of gun."

Oh, that bowl.

Apparently, Indy is going to host some kind of bowl game in 2012. From the hype, I thought it was going to be an important one, like the Sugar Bowl or the Cotton Bowl, but apparently it will just be some Super thingummy with no SEC teams involved.

You can have my antiquated wallhanger when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.

When Heston first did his "Cold, dead hands" bit, he lofted a presentation muzzleloading rifle. While the gesture was admirable, the gun itself seemed kind of inoffensive; almost placatory. As the gesture became his trademark, he progressed to a Sharps. Marko mused at the time that at least he was moving up to cartridge-firing breechloaders now, and at this rate we'd see him waving a Krag-Jorgensen by 2012.

Alas, Heston passed, and it seems that the NRA has reset back to frontstuffers. Unc is disappointed, and offers a modest proposal.

(Then again, those flintlocks might be more dangerous than we give them credit for. Rumor has it that the ones on the walls of the Massachusetts statehouse are fitted with trigger locks, lest they hop off the walls and go on a slow, smoky rampage. Or something.

UPDATE: In comments, Bitter says the rumor is just that, and not based in fact. What it says about Massachusetts gun laws that one could believe such a thing is left as an exercise for the reader.)

Look! Stylin' knife!

The accounting staff here at VFTP Command Central (that would be me) has informed the Management (that would also be me) that our little weekend jaunt was a bit too frisky with the finances for a starving artist. As always, Our Loss Is Your Gain!

Available for your perusal at eBay is one fine example of fixed-blade steel: A Paragon Slim Battle Bowie, designed by Larry Harley. Look at that sexy blade shape! You should buy it. It would make you happy. Trust me.

Whateverday Smith.

New content at The Arms Room.

Being the last one in chronological order, this one was some time in the gestatin'.

Of course, since I started the Sunday Smith series, I acquired two older guns that fell outside the timescape I'd already established, so I suppose I could just start again at the beginning...

Vote early, and vote often...

...for a date in June for the Indy Blogger Thingy.

Sexy Stuff I Saw at the Show, Part 1: Lights

Leupold's new modular MX flashlights: Leupold quality, and Leupold (ouch!) price. Do Want.

Streamlight has a neat-o new interpretation of the old GI angle head clip-on, but with LEDs, and small, and light, and with a pivoting head. Neat. And reasonably priced. Also Do Want.

Pushing frontiers.

The GoogleHealth concept is out-of-left-field enough that I never saw it coming. The Googletron keeps thinking up new uses for the intarw3bz that not even science fiction authors predicted. What's next? "GoogleYou: Hire a bum to be steered around GoogleEarth doing your bidding!"

Of course, they want to store your health records for you, they've already taken pictures of your house, they know what your favorite kind of porn is... An evil Google would make the Ministry of Love in 1984 look like Helen Keller in a nun's habit.


Gun pr0n!

Not gonna do it.

Despite the fact that it seems to be a surefire comment generator and bona fide hit machine, we will not be discussing "Oh noes! Teh gayz are getting married in Kali!" here at VFTP.

Today In History: Grooving with a Pict.

On this date in 685, the army of King Ecgfrith of Northumbria got itself lured into the swamps of Dunnichen and shot up by the Picts under Bridei III, with Ecgfrith himself getting killed in the process. This pretty much destroyed Northumbria as an effective fighting force which was, in the turmoil of Dark Ages Britain, something of a handicap in the foreign policy field.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Geek trivia quiz... the other blog.

Marko, you can't play.

Sorry 'bout that.

My skull feels completely hoovered out after hammering south and then back north again yesterday with the swirl of meeting a couple dozen people sandwiched in the middle, hence the near-bupkis I have typed today. (Well, I got my LEM column typed, but that pretty much put paid to my creativity for the day.)

I did, however, get my photos off the camera and on the 'puter, so tomorrow should be full of gun talk. Please stay tuned...

R-rated, or 'What a difference an R makes.'

So I picked up my nametag totally bichen media credentials at the Press Room, and the first word out of my mouth was "Dammit!"

That's right, they had me down as "Broomsticks"?

I mused to xrlq and Kevin that adding that one letter totally alters the meaning. Instead of making me sound like a sportbike-riding, Heinlein-reading, shooter, it makes me sound like a mountain-bike-pedaling, granola-eating, used-book-store-owning, urban lesbian Wiccan. Not that there's anything wrong with the latter, it just ain't my particular milieu.


"I know it's a Beretta, but what have you done to it?"

Watching the hippies twitch.

So now that we have corn squeezins in our petrol, it seems that the very same squishy types who were all in favor of this are now all tore up because they can't pump their cake and feed it to poor people too.

This is a great year for watching liberals in a quandary. First came the primary voting in which they had to decide if they were a racist dog or a sexist pig, now they have to decide if they want to fiddle with biofuels while watching the poor go hungry. Ah, TANSTAAFL; always there like a garden rake waiting to smack the unwary in the face when they tread upon it.

The Big NRA Convention Report... going to be a whole bunch of little reports.

If I was the Old Media, I would have had to take copious notes and worry about things like conclusions and the three or eight or however many "W's" there are, but because I'm just one of those slacker blogger New Media types, I can riff this off the top of my head for the next day or so, typing in my pyjamas with a beer at my elbow as the muse hits.

First, though, I want to thank Bitter for being the crafty mastermind of this whole operation and helping us become better minions of the Triangle of Death. Take a bow, Bitter, 'cause you totally earned it.

Today In History: A little off the top.

On this day in 1536, Henry VIII had Anne Boleyn executed for adultery.

So he could commit some, I mean; not because she had committed some.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Fabulous NRA convention stuff to follow...

...but only after I've driven back down to Louisville.

Saw TD again yesterday and got to meet Squeaky in real life. It was cool! More later...

Overheard on I-65 South...

R: "Look, the Muscatuck river!"

T (singing): "How much musk would a muscatuck tuck if a muscatuck could tuck musk?"

R: "Ew!"

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Department of Irrelevance.

In the outer burbs of Houston, a 900-foot diameter sinkhole has created a lake in the middle of what was a subdivision, swallowing power poles and vehicles and providing a new home to a 'gator. Crude oil has bubbled from the ground to give it its own little oil slick. The hole could enlarge to engulf more of suburbia at any time. What does the government spokesperson quoted want us to know?
Danny Diaz, a Texas Parks and Wildlife game warden, said a patch of crude oil floating on the east side of the crater might irritate the alligator’s skin, but the reptile is using the water on the other side.
Well, thank you Mr. Diaz. I was afraid we were going to have to chuck some skin care products in there for the lizard. Let's hope it doesn't get a cocker spaniel stuck in its throat, because so few people know how to perform the Heimlich maneuver properly on prehistoric saurians.

Holy crap.

I had no idea that professional wrasslin' had such a huge history and lexicon, nor that it had enough fans who could type and connect to the internet, enough... and I can't say this with a straight enough face wrestling scholars (gawd, I laughed just typing that,) if you will, in order to give it a huge section of Wikipedia. The entries have an awful sort of trainwreck fascination to them.

Friday, May 16, 2008

It's always sad when a streak ends.

I've been a big girl doing my own laundry for more years than I care to name in public, and this is actually the first time I've ever had a sock fall into the wormhole.

Sigh. I liked that sock, too.

Overheard in the hallway...

Alpha Geekette RobertaX (heading out the door to the Hamvention): "Now to go mingle with the normals..."

Me: "How the ^%&* are you going to do that at a Ham convention?"

Think what you're missing!

Marko has canceled his satellite TeeWee service after some hilarious contretemps.

Just think what he's missing!
"Did time-traveling Nazis in flying saucers build the pyramids? Some scientists say ‘yes’. Next on the History Channel."
I'm beginning to think that you could take your garbage man, put him in a white lab coat on a Discovery Channel show, introduce him as the head professor of the phrenology department at Draw Tippy Turtle University, and folks will believe whatever asinine things come out of his cakehole.

If the shoe fits, Barry.

Speaking to the Knesset on the 60th anniversary of Israeli independence, Dubya's speech included the lines
"Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: 'Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."
Although no names were named, Sen. Hopeychangey immediately protested too much. The candidate endorsed by Hamas immediately shot back that he was not either a Nazi and that the Shrub was a big ol' meanie for calling him one.

Hey, if the shoe fits...

Today In History: Button holed.

Button Gwinnett, delegate from Georgia to the Second Continental Congress, signatory to the Declaration of Independence, and the man after whom the biggest swath of Atlanta's suburban sprawl is named, was as conscious of his honor as most gentlemen of his era.

When his biggest political rival began to publicly heckle him over a failed military expedition to British East Florida, Button challenged him to a duel. On this date in 1777, Button and Lachlan McIntosh met for grass before breakfast in the hamlet of Thunderbolt, Georgia. Gwinnett winged Gen. McIntosh in the leg, but in turn was shot in the hip and died of gangrene three days later.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

An Idea Whose Time Has Come: Electric Boobs.

Well, not really. I just wanted to say "electric boobs", since it will make Google no end of happy.

Actually it's an electric bra. Solar-powered. More of a solar-powered cami, actually. Just think how smug and ecologically superior you could feel when flashing people from your Prius and they're all wearing old-fashioned internal combustion lingerie. Or something.

(H/T to Dustbury.)

Bob Barr and the Libertarians.

What's kind of amusing is how many people who aren't going to vote for Col. Tighe because he's "not a real conservative" and they're sick of "choosing the lesser of two evils" are going to pull the lever for Bob "Daddy State" Barr because he's supposedly had some kind of Road-To-Damascus experience and weaseled his way into the Libertarian party.

Of course, what makes this doubly ironic is that, as anyone who's read Reason magazine for more than eight years knows, big-L libertarianism has been overrun by folks who don't know anything more about libertarian politics other than that they hate Chimpy McHitlerburton and the Iraq War and they don't want to be Democrats because that's what Mom and Dad are, and besides, the Clintons are such squares. Now these former Rage Against The Machine-listening WTO protesters are going to be voting for anti-porn, anti-gay, anti-drug Bob Barr. It's almost too delicious for words.

I'm starting my own fricking political party. And to keep idiot suckweasels out, I'm closing the enrollment right after I sign up, so everyone else can piss off.

Republics and Republicans.

"Nowadays, when all anyone seems to know about the Roman Empire is that it fell, comparisons are constantly offered between the Romans and the Americans which have little to do with historical reality. Most attractive is the one which assumes that the "fall of Rome," like the soon expected fall of America, was due to moral weakness and gross (preferably sexual) self-indulgence. The analogy would be less foolish if it were the case that Roman morality declined in the fifth century A.D., when the barbarians came. Actually, the first complaints about the city's moral decline were heard in the second century B.C. at a time when Rome was not falling but rising and there was as yet no such thing as an emperor. We live in a country founded by colonial gentlemen who not only understood Roman history but were fond of quoting it in Latin. Recently, the United States has produced a generation of leaders who do not even know that Rome was a republic and that it did not become a hereditary monarchy until the emperor Augustus gave up on the old constitution at about the time of Christ."
-from The End of Kings: A history of Republics and Republicans. The cause of my low writing output yesterday and last night. I probably won't type much until I finish the last fifty pages this morning. Two thumbs up. A must read. Thank you, staghounds.

Edwards throws his endorsement to Barry.

Says all five of his supporters should, too.

Today in History: "Put the boys in, and may God forgive me..."

On this day in 1864, the cadets of the Virginia Military Institute fixed bayonets and met the 34th Massachusetts in the middle of a muddy field near New Market, Virginia. Against all probability, the cadets carried the field and captured the Union front-line positions.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Fire Mission.

Target: zombies in the open.


Shooting is a hobby that involves having an explosion go off in a tube you're holding in your hands.

Sometimes the explosion gets out of the tube.

That's gonna leave a mark.

(via email from the Pergelator.)

Breaking News:

Frank Sinatra is still dead.

Signs of the times.

Death toll in China earthquake up to 15,000 and counting.

Another typhoon on the way to Myanmar, plus cholera and malaria.

Fires in Florida.

Gas and foreclosures up.

The dollar down.

A big, smiling Hillary.

The TeeWee cutting itself on in the mornings is supposed to help wake us up, not to chase me back under the covers.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Like a gun, only smaller.

Caleb likes his new Jetfire. Having owned three myself, I think he has excellent taste in mouseguns.

Yes, yes, I know the P-32 is lighter and thinner, but:

1) A Jetfire can be concealed anyplace short of a nudist colony, too, so the point is kinda moot.

2) Sure, the 950BS is chambered in the oft-reviled .25, but it's not like .32ACP is the Hammer of Thor, either.

3) The single action Jetfire shoots better for me on my worst days than the Kel-Tec does on my best. With these pipsqueak cartridges, accuracy is very important. From a Jetfire, Colt Vest Pocket, or a Baby Browning, I can put the bullet exactly where I want it; not so much with the Kel-Tec. Your results may vary.

Those times I just can't carry a gun, it's the next best thing.

Toiling in the fields.

Just finished weeding and turning the soil at the far end of the raised bed in the back yard. I put in a grape tomato start and am ready to plant some carrots and radishes. As I was cleaning fallen leaves and maple spinners out of the herb rows, I noticed that the last of my three garlic bulbs has sprouted. Yay! I was worried about the li'l guy.

Okay, maybe not big news to anybody else, but it was huge for me.

Today In History: "Pilot to bombardier..."

On this date in 1985, the Philadelphia Police Department displayed a tenuous grasp of Constitutionality and a complete innocence of the concept of "Public Relations" when it decided to branch out into the Close Air Support field.

I'd say that would be a wake-up call.

If you were to suddenly come to, and found yourself in the middle of a field, dressed as Darth Vader and swinging a crutch, that might be a sign that your drinking problem has gotten a little out of hand.

Which is not to say that most Star Wars nerds couldn't use a good beating with a crutch by the town drunk every now and again.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Look! Guns!

Great Scott! It's a post at The Arms Room!

Cat haiku.

Paws tucked daintily
Under her chin, she's sleeping
Dream mouse dies screaming

It just works. Mostly.

I am not a tenth the computer geek I once was.

I stopped using Microsoft's Internet Explorer and started using Firefox a few years ago, not because of security issues or lack of plug ins, or whatever, but for two simple reasons: 1) Every now and again (and I mean rarely.) IE v.WhateverItWas would just bail on me. It wouldn't lock up or crash the 'puter, or anything bad like that, it would just go away and I'd have to restart it. Nothing fatal, just annoying. 2) I got addicted to tabbed browsing, because it was so much handier than having a ton of windows open. In a usual browsing session, I have tabs open at VFTP, either Digital Fossils or The Arms Room, AOhelL, whatever blog or news article I'm writing about at the moment or planning to write about in the next few hours, Wikipedia, and Google. Six tabs are just easier to manage than six seperate windows. My Firefox install has always been bare-bones, with no extensions or plug-ins or any of that stuff. I've also been using Firefox on my road computer, the slime-lime green toilet seat iBook running OS 10.3, for at least a year. For all that time, it's been as stable as I could hope for on both the laptop and my Pentium 4/Win XP home computer; I have been a happy Firefox user.

Recently, I decided to do a little experiment over at my other blog. I unhooked my faithful Wintel box, and set up to use nothing but 8-year-old Macs for all my computing needs. I loaded up OS 10.3.9 on my G4 tower and my old G3 iMac, and downloaded the latest 10.3.9 updates for my iBook, too. I installed the latest version of Firefox (, and set off down the information superhighway, only to find out that Firefox no longer plays well with the Mac OS; the thing has turned into an unuseable freeze-o-matic in Blogger. A browser in which I can't load my own blog is worse than useless to me, so I've reluctantly started using Safari, which also has tabbed browsing. Of course, Safari doesn't have the handy inline spellchecker that Firefox does (I don't actually "spellcheck" because I trust my spelling, but I've gotten addicted to having typos underlined in red so that I can see them before I hit "publish",) and even worse, Safari doesn't support Blogger's WYSIWYG compose mode, and typing every post in straight html is the very definition of "tedious". I am now forced to choose between Safari, with tabbed browsing and crappy blogging, or downloading IE and having good blogging and no tabs. This both blows and sucks at the same time, a feat heretofore thought impossible. Thanks a whole hell of a lot, Mozilla.

I got yer "Zoom Zoom" right here.

Best window sticker evar.

(H/T to Dustbury.)

Today In History: They don't make wars like they used to...

Every time the US has deployed military force in the last two and a half decades it was, to see the protesters in their black body suits with white shoe-polish skeletons, about to be a veritable armageddon. The corpses of our boys and the poor enemy's alike would be piled in windrows, and the only winner would be the corpse-eating rats. Every commanding officer down to the lowliest second lieutenant knew that any casualty suffered by his unit might be the one that ticked over the news media's ghastly odometer and turned him into the digital age's George Armstrong Custer.

On this date in 1942 Marshal Timoshenko launched the almost 650,000 men under his command into a general offensive along the Donets, striking towards Karkhov and Dnepropetrovsk. Opposing him was von Bock's Army Group South, with a TO&E strength of almost a third of a million troops. By the time the dust had settled over the Second Battle of Karkhov some two weeks later, the Russian morning roll call list would be lighter by almost 200,000 names, while the Germans had lost "only" 40-60,000 KIA, wounded, and missing. And Second Karkhov was by no means the largest or fiercest action on the Eastern Front.

It's all a matter of scale, I guess.

Groovy Link of the Day.

RobertaX has discovered a link made of 100% pure free-range Awesome. Check it, yo.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Just give your attacker what he wants...

...and maybe instead of shooting you in the face, he'll just shoot you in the belly.

Hi, Dad!

Tell Mom "Happy Mother's Day". I'll call tonight.

How can people be this dumb?

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum are both fanning the old populist class warfare flames by talking about taxing the eeeevil oil companies.

Now, granted, it's been a long time since either of them worked for an organization that couldn't literally print money at will, so they may have forgotten a salient fact of the business world, which is that a corporation gets its money from... where? Class? Anyone? Its customers, that's right.

So if they want a bajillion dollars in taxes from the eeeevil oil companies, then those eeeevil oil companies are going to have to get the money from where? Anyone? Bueller? That's right, the idiots voting for Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. And me. And you.

Morons, the lot of 'em.


I noticed this morning that on this date in 1934, there had been one of the huge dust storms that characterized the Dust Bowl. While reading that article, I got distracted by a link to the Llano Estacado region of West Texas, an area of wall-to-wall f^%k-all. Except for Palo Duro Canyon, from which Col. Ranald Mackenzie evicted the Kiowa and Comanche in an eponymous battle in the 1870s. Col. Mackenzie had been a general during the War of Northern Agression, including being wounded at the Battle of Cedar Creek, where he had commanded a unit under General Phil Sheridan.

Sheridan, of course, had a distinguished career, and the air-droppable M551 tank was named after him. The tank was deployed for both Operation Just Cause and Operation Desert Storm, but saw the most service in Vietnam, where it was used by the 11th ACR, the Black Horse, during the invasion of Cambodia. The 11th is now best known as the OPFOR at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, near Barstow in California. Barstow probably wouldn't be a blip on anyone's consciousness if it weren't for the fact that Route 66 passes through. Route 66 was part of the National Highway system, and in the 1930s, it was crowded with westbound Okies fleeing the Dust Bowl.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Fashionably attired, heavily armed.

Phlegm Fatale sets out to bring something to the firing lines of Texas of which they had heretofore been somewhat short: Polka-Dots.

Today In History: War of Conquest.

On this date in 1940, in the middle of World War Two, a great big belligerent nation invaded a tiny neutral country with hardly any armed forces.

No, I 'm not talking about Germany and Luxembourg, although that happened on the same day. I'm talking about the British invasion of Iceland on May 10, 1940.

In July of 1941, the British withdrew their troops, leaving the occupation of Iceland to the neutral (wink, wink) United States.

Alert the Department of Irony.

Apparently an admiral is being ashcanned for engaging in a little extramarital affair back when he was an aide at the White House in 1990 (including some actual nookie at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue), and then allegedly engaging in some less-than-creative perjury to cover up.

Silly Navy officer! If he'd waited just a couple of years, National Command Authority might have lent him a cigar. And some better excuses.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Today In History: Armageddon.

Thutmose III was a Pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty in ancient Egypt. He ascended to the throne as a very young boy. Unfortunately, Hatshepsut was his co-Pharaoh. Also, his aunt and bummer of a stepmom, plus she was ambitious, shrewd, and smart as a whip. In other words, she wore a fake beard and ran the country while young Thutmose sulked in the wings.

To make matters worse, young Thutty Trey was hardly allowed to do anything fun. Aunt Hattie had silly notions about running a kingdom based on trade, diplomacy, skullduggery, and exploration, instead of the way young Thutmose wanted, which mostly involved galloping around in chariots and killing barbarians. One can imagine that this caused some sniggering among his friends: "Hey, Thut! C'mon and lets take a couple of chariot squadrons and go shoot up some Libyans."
"Nah. Can't. Mom won't let me play with the army. She says wars of expansion cost too much money."

In due time, however, Hatshepsut went the way of all flesh. With the old battleaxe gone, Egypt's vassals and client states in Canaan wasted no time in telling the Kingdom of the Nile to take their tribute demands and go piss up a rope, figuring that the boy who had spent the last twenty years as Junior King-In-Training in his stepmom's shadow would aquiesce meekly.

Seeing the chance he'd been waiting for all his life, Thutmose wrote back "Yeah. Me and my army, that's who." Coalescing around the king of the oasis city of Kadesh, the Canaanites challenged the Egyptians to battle on the plain in front of the walled city of Megiddo.

Thut mustered the Egyptian army, which consisted of three crack corps of charioteers and a mob of men good for not much other than standing around the baggage train with spears and who could be called "infantry" only in the sense that they were armed and on foot, and set off for Megiddo at the (for the time) breakneck pace of fifteen miles a day. They reached the last pass before the fortified city and made camp, and the next morning, May 9th, 1457 BC, Thutty Trey deployed his three chariot corps in an L-shaped formation, two to the west and one to the south of the city, leaving his spear-carriers to guard the camp.

The Canaanites had drawn up their chariot forces along the top of a shallow rise along the edge of the elevated plain and behind a shallow stream to await the Egyptian attack. For some unknown reason, as the Egyptians advanced, the rebels abandoned their positions and rolled forward to meet them, and their chariots were scattered by the onrushing Egyptians. Unit cohesion couldn't have been too good amongst the Canaanite charioteers, since their force was allegedly combined from the retinues of over three hundred princelings and chieftains. For whatever reason, they rushed back towards Megiddo, where they had left their own mob of footsoldiers.

Seeing their social betters in headlong flight before the enemy, the Canaanite footsloggers understandably panicked and slammed the city's gates right in their retreating faces. Their charioteers were forced to abandon their vehicles and be hauled over the town walls on ropes and bedsheets. Fortunately for them, the Egyptian advance had turned into a disorganized mob, looting the abandoned war cars after the owners had bailed. The city fell after a lengthy siege, and Thutmose went home feeling more manly than he ever had before.

This is the first actual organized battle in history for which we have any records with which to fix it in time and place, and therefore it marks the dawn of military history. One reason the records we do have are so sketchy is that they all come from the Egyptians, and if they are taken literally, one would think that Thutty himself wiped out most of the foe while his army gaped in slack-jawed wonder at their leader's prowess. Thus the battle of Megiddo also marks the dawn of military propaganda.

And what of our hero, young Thutmose III? Well, he set about spending the rest of his reign occupied with one glorious military campaign after another, whooping about the ancient Near East in his chariot, killing barbarians. And tearing down every statue of Hatshepsut he could find.

Next they'll change the Yeoman Warders to "Tofueaters".

Rachel Lucas on the latest depressing news from the place where Great Britain used to be.

There goes the economy.

The WIRED headline reads: Motion-Capture Suits Will Spice Up Virtual Sex

Allow me to quote Dennis Miller on this one:
"Folks, the day an unemployed ironworker can sit at home in his Barcalounger with a channel clicker in one hand and a Foster's in the other and f&*k Claudia Schiffer for $19.95, it's going to make crack look like Sanka."

More on Priest-Kings.

Lawdog has more on folks misunderstanding the concept of just what we're supposed to be hiring someone to do this November. (HINT: "Fixing the Economy" and "Affordable Health Care" are nowhere mentioned in Article II of the Constitution.)

Why Solomon Made The Big Bucks: Quandaries of Justice

A criminally negligent idiot sits in an Indiana jail today. If I were an official news agency, I'd have to say "alleged criminally negligent idiot", but I'm not, and I think in this case the facts pretty much speak for themselves.

A look at his record shows that his career arc probably would have landed him there sooner or later. Unemployed. Probably guilty of child abuse. Already lost some of his children to Protective Services. His idea of safe storage of a semiautomatic pistol was to remove the magazine and place it on a bookshelf, this despite the fact that his son had already accessed it once and fired off the round left in the chamber.

His son repeated his feat, climbing the bookcase, retrieving the pistol, and firing it again. This time the bullet struck and killed his sister. The idiot father was arrested at his daughter's burial service and spent the rest of his day in an orange jumpsuit, sobbing into the camera.

Something tells me, however, that this was the kind of guy who didn't put covers on the electical outlets. Or store dangerous chemicals in safe places. Or cook on the stove with the pot handles turned inwards. And if the child had been electrocuted, or drank a tall frosty glass of Drano, or died from severe burns after wearing a pot of boiling Ramen for a hat, would he still be free to get a chance to contribute to the death of another one of his children while we all shook our heads at the fateful "accident"? Are some kinds of negligence more heinous than others?

Thursday, May 08, 2008


The absolute coolest thing I have ever seen on the intarw3bz in all my born days:

"They're watching you, Neo."

Lock Mess Monster.

The issue of the internal lock that S&W added to their revolvers is one that has generated far more heat than light on the internet over the last several years. Initial resistance was mostly split along two lines: The first was aesthetic; the new lock appeared as an ugly little metal zit on the side of the gun just above the cylinder release, complete with an inscribed "L"-and-arrow indicating which direction to turn it to disable the gun, and a Rube Golberg-esque flag that popped up to indicate that the gun was locked. The second was philosophical; people refused to buy a gun that had a feature that was such an obvious nod to the anti-gun crowd and could render a sidearm inert at a time when it was needed most.

The issue was complicated when, after a year or so, rumors began to trickle down about revolvers that had spontaneously locked themselves when firing. Several prominent gun writers pooh-poohed these claims in print, predictably resulting in incendiary internet diatribes about "paid shills of the gun industry". The argument has smoldered fitfully along ever since.

Recently a thread on ARFcom, complete with pictures, concerning yet another spontaneously-locked revolver has triggered yet another flareup of "See? I told you so!" on the web, including posts from people on Evil Black Rifle gun boards who are no more likely to carry a S&W revolver than they are to sprout wings and fly.

As usual, the truth about the matter lies somewhere in the middle, and I'd like to offer a couple of thoughts on the matter. Remember, I'm just someone who worked in the retail firearms sales and repair industry from 1993 to 2007 and who has owned probably close to a hundred S&W revolvers, including three with the dreaded internal lock. My opinions are no more valid than anyone else with a keyboard and an internet connection:

1: Locks are not some demonic S&W invention. Springfield, Bersa, H&K, Glock, Taurus, Ruger, and S&W all have locks on some or all of their handgun lines. These locks are all done with varying degrees of mechanical aptitude and aesthetic obtrusiveness. Barring a significant change in the American political and legal climate, locks on handguns are with us to stay. A ban on handguns is more realistically likely than the disappearance of integral locks. Deal with it.

2: S&W are not the only locks that have failed. Over the years I have seen one failed S&W lock with my own eyes. I have also seen one Bersa, one HK USP9F, and a double handful of Tauruses that have suffered some manner of lock-related failure that rendered the gun inoperable.

3: Verifiable S&W lock failures seem confined to a narrow class of firearms. Almost to an incident, they seem to occur on flyweight Titanium/Scandium magnum revolvers shooting magnum loads. The recoil impulse on these guns is so savage that bullets are pulled from their crimps sometimes. It is therefore unsurprising to me that the gun could rotate under recoil briskly enough to leave the lock parts hanging in place under their own inertia, locking the weapon. This is a serious design flaw with the S&W lock and one that they should rectify, especially before some gnawed hiker corpse is found in bear country with his two-ounce riboflavin-framed .44 Magnum in his hand, locked up like Fort Knox.

If you absolutely must have a helium revolver chambered for he-man magnum loads, instructions are available on the big Smith & Wesson fan forum for disabling the lock by grinding off one little metal stud with your handy-dandy Dremel Tool, invaluable sidekick of shadetree gunsmiths everywhere.

From anecdotal evidence I have gathered, another component of these lock failures is that the locks on the subject weapons have all been used (or, in industry parlance, "fiddled with"). One reason I think that this is a component, if not a necessary prerequisite, is that the lock parts are manufactured via the MIM (metal injection molding) process, which is not known for turning out glass-smooth surfaces from the factory. Out of the box, this results in locks that have enough stiction that they are difficult to apply on purpose, let alone by accident. Were someone to take their new flyweight bear gun out and fiddle the lock back and forth to watch the little flag pop up and down, they would notice its application become a mite easier as the rough mating surfaces were bedded together by the repeated application of the key. One may rest assured that neither of the two lock-equipped revolvers I own has ever had the lock turned.

"What?" you say, "You own Smiths with locks?" Yes, I do, although I cordially dislike the little bugger on mostly aesthetic grounds. The two Smiths I own with locks are models that I wanted that had no pre-lock equivalents, so it was deal with the lock or deal without the gun. One is a steel-cylindered AirWeight .32 Magnum that is my everyday backup CCW gun, and the other is an all-steel large-frame .44 Special. Neither generates enough recoil impulse to make me worry about the lock at all. Incidentally, I also used to own a Titanium-cylinder .45 ACP revolver with the lock. The gun generated enough recoil to cause lightly-crimped ball ammo to jump its crimp, but in the thousand or so rounds I put through it before I traded it, it never had an issue with the lock. Again, I just don't think it had the Wheaties, recoil-wise.

One other reason I just can't get my dander up about this issue the way others have is that when an end user looks at those pictures on ARFcom, they see "OMG! A S&W LOCK FAILURE!!!1!!". I look at them and see "Ho hum. Another broken gun." Having worked in places with 'We Fix Busted Guns' signs out front for so long, I have seen so many firearms that have broken in so many ways that a new one fails to engage (pardon the pun) my interest. Frankly, if I had an AirLite .44 Magnum, I'd be as, or more, worried about the riboflavin cylinder failing or the little sheet metal tab in the topstrap getting eroded away and the frame getting flame-cut to uselessness as I would about the lock getting inadvertently activated.

A final grace note: I have to wonder how many people on those threads have shaken their heads at the sight of the jammed-up .41 Magnum S&W and pompously stated "Look at that! I'd never carry such an unreliable gun for self defense. Damn Smith & Wesson!" and then walked out their front door after stuffing their holster full of a semiautomatic pistol on which they have never performed One. Single. Malfunction. Clearance. Drill.



I am finding it extremely hard to be loquaciously funny when I have the skull-splittingest headache I've had in years. Luckily I just found some aspirin after searching all morning and giving up.

I am not a sickly child. I hate to whimper. But ouch.

Maybe not the best choice of words.

CNN headline: Incest dad: I cared for my secret family

Well yeah, see, that's the problem.

Overheard... the hallway:

Idiot Box: "...and tune in next week to see who America loves!"

T: "You know what I'd love? An airstrike on the American Idol studio. With cluster bombs."

R: "That'd be cool."

T: "I'd definitely tune in to watch that."
_____________________________________________ the office:

T (to geriatricat): "Uh, Tommy, get out from under the desk. I don't like the way you're nosing around down there."

R (to geriatricat): "Fresh litter, Tommy! The power strip is dangerous!"

T: "And do you have any idea how long the odor of burnt cat ass lingers in a room?"

The plants are happy, and I am sad.

It's raining outside. A quick check of's 10-day forecast shows that it's calling for rain seven out of those ten days. Glub.

Breda's got a gun.

A Bersa Thunder .380, to be specific. You can tell it was love at first shoot.

Plus, she dug around and found someone who makes custom wood grips for them. I wish I'd known about those; I'd have sold a blue jillion sets of those grips.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Grow-y stuff!

The Nepo... Necro... Nemophila is struggling along and the Delphinium is shooting up at a watch-it-grow pace. I'm pretty stoked about the Delphinium because A) it is supposed to have totally jawesome stalks of purple flowers come late spring, and B) How can you not like a plant whose common name is "Black Knight"? Among old herbal lore about this plant is that it will keep witches out of your barn. I told this to RobertaX, who asked if the lore said anything about it keeping Democrats out of the garage. The Scotch Moss we planted next to the front steps is hanging in there, although looking a little brown in some spots, and the Catnip is still unsprouted.

In the back yard, the dill and chives are coming in strong. Two out of three garlic bulbs have sprouted shoots, although some Mediterranean-flavored tree rat seems to have nibbled on one of them. Also, a few scattered scallions are poking up out of the dirt in their patch. I feel positively horticultural.

Tote a gun?

Read this. Now.

Xavier summed up the basic rules as neatly as I ever seen it done. Learn it. Live it.

Crass materialist that I am...

...I have added one of's cheesy "Buy Me Stuff!" buttons to my sidebar. In addition to demonstrating my total lack of shame, it's a pretty good look at the eclectic stuff that I consider to be fascinating reading.

Awesome. And by "awesome", I mean totally sweet!

The most absolutely cool thing I've read so far this week.

Bonus points for brilliantly describing the monosynaptics that seem to be going into convulsions over the whole thing.

Need further proof that idiots go into politics?

Gather 'round, Gentle Readers, and Auntie Tam will give you a free lesson in economics.

There is a thing called "Division of Labor" that makes an economy more productive. As an example, your corner automobile mechanic needs to put a rebuilt gizmo in your car to replace the broken one. Now, theoretically he could keep trained gizmo rebuilders in his employ, as well as all the parts necessary for rebuilding gizmos, and do it on the premises. However, it is much more economically feasible to have one or two gizmo rebuilders in town that specialize in nothing but gizmo rebuilding, and have all the local mechanics use their services.

He removes the gizmo from your car, sends it to the rebuilders, and installs a rebuilt one in its place. He charges a percentage over what the gizmo rebuilder to compensate him for his time in diagnosing the bad gizmo, replacing it, and a bit of that "profit" thing which is why he started the business in the first place. Thanks to the economies of scale, you still get your gizmo rebuilt more cheaply than if the mechanic had to do it himself.

In modern medicine, a large part of its success is based on the accuracy of diagnoses. These diagnoses are made possible by a bewildering array of tests and labwork. These tests and labwork require test kits and reagents and centrifuges and gas chromatographs and all manner of other stuff that would be impractical to keep in every doctor's office, along with the technicians to operate it all. It's more practical, and cheaper in the long run, to send your test samples off to the gizmo rebuilders.

Simple, right? Apparently not. For example, this piece of Basic Economics seems to have flown completely over the head of some legislators in Missouri.

You don't have to be a vote-pandering, dumb-as-a-stump, collectivist simpleton to get into politics. But it helps.

Yeah! What they said!

I'm bad and I'm nationwide international.

Go Team Me!

Today In History: Ode to Joy.

On this date in 1824, music reached its highest form of evolution with the premiere performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. Beethoven received five ovations after the debut performance; it was customary for the Emperor to receive three.

On Philips' website, they claim that it's a rather definitive piece of music.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Our man on the scene...

...with early exit polling in Indiana's 5th District.

Granted, "one" isn't much of a sample size, but Zogby and Gallup had to start somewhere, too. "One hundred percent of voters surveyed voted for McCain and Burton in the GOP primaries. Also thought poll workers were hot."

Cruel and unusual.

I'm getting a few Google hits on "Indiana alcohol on election day" for some reason. I am given to understand, via my native Hoosier roomie, that alcohol sales here are a no-go until the polls close. The people who wrote this law probably never envisioned the nightmare scenario of having to choose between Clinton and Obama while blind, stinking sober.

I know that the Limbaugh brigade of GOP monkey-wrenchers out there are going to need to be half in the bag before pulling a lever for Hillary.

Hints from Heloise:

Today's most recent inexplicable Google inquiry:
"turbo 400 engages at too high rpm"
When's the last time you checked your transmission fluid level? You're welcome.

My fellow Americans.

Mr. Paul Harmon is a fellow Hoosier and a Concerned American. He wrote the featured letter to the editor on today's Indianapolis Star editorial page. In the meat of his letter, which was all about how leadfeet should slow down on the interstate to save gas, Mr. Harmon stated:
President Jimmy Carter knew what he was doing when he lowered our speed limits. Maybe it's time to go back to driving slower.

Let's face the fact that with a Texan in the White House we aren't going to get an energy policy with any teeth.
Mr. Harmon is referring to the 55 mile-per-hour National Maximum Speed Law, or NMSL (rhymes with "numbskull"), which was enacted in 1974.

Who was president in 1974? Class? That's right.

Mr. Harmon is a fellow Hoosier, a Concerned American, and he no doubt votes. He is also apparently as dumb as an acre of fungus.

78 degrees and sunny.

Whichever one of the pompous suckweasels has the larger support base amongst the slackers, ne'er-do-wells, and welfare leeches is going to win this one, as they can safely venture to the polls without Mother Nature mussing their coiffures or raining on their iPods.

If it was raining, I'd give the sure nod to Hils, as the hard gynocratic core of her support would charge a wall of bayonets for der fuehrerette; Barry has more appeal among the college-age slacker crowd, who are more likely to be dissuaded into staying home and lighting another bhang by a little rain. I'm gonna say the weather throws this one to The Man From Hope And Change by a squeaker.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Well, that was gross.

Do you know how much funk can accumulate inside a keyboard in five years? I should have put it in a ziploc bag and sold it to an allergen lab; there must have been enough cat hair to kill a dozen asthmatics.

On the upside: My Logitech now sounds as loud and clicky as an IBM Model M compared to thirty minutes ago.

My head feels vacuumed out.

I promised LEM a second column this week and this morning I figured I'd dragged my heels long enough and so a little after noon I tossed an extension cord through the front window onto the porch, sat down with my old Duo 280c on my lap, and vomited forth the contents of my skull through my fingertips. A little over a thousand words later, I felt physically drained. I linked the Duo to the WallStreet, copied the file over, emailed it to myself, and then used the big desktop machine in the office to forward it on to the editor.

I should have blogged up the Indy Gunblogger Meetup we had yesterday, but RobertaX did such a fantastic job of it that I'd feel a little redundant. Plus, it's all I can do to string two coherent sentences together right now. Suffice it to say that I had a grand time and really enjoyed meeting everyone; conversation that agile doesn't happen every day, but hopefully we can get it to happen every month or two. Og is even funnier in person, if you can imagine that. The Old Grouch is misnamed. Caleb from Call Me Ahab is as smart as you'd think he is if you've been reading his stuff; give him another bit and he'll be Indy's answer to SayUncle. Mark Alger of BabyTrollBlog, who can actually write, said nice things about my writing and I hope I didn't blush too badly. And I met Frank W. James without squealing anything too fangirlish like "OMG! I've been reading your stuff since I was so new in the gun business that I barely knew which end the bullets came out of out of which the bullets came!" (True Story: The first time he commented on my blog, I immediately called Marko. "Dude! You are not going to believe who reads my blog!" Whoops. That was fangirlish, wasn't it? Oh, well.)

So with my skull lighter by a dozen paragraphs, I will sleep the Sleep of the Just tonight and awaken tomorrow ready to do something entirely less taxing, like yard work. The green stuff in the places that are Not Lawn is about sprouted enough for even my botanically ignorant self to tell the weeds from the hygrangiums and I am going to put on my gloves and go after the former with a vengeance and try not to pull out too many of the latter by mistake. An afternoon of that, and maybe I'll have enough stuff in my head to make it worth squaring off with the keyboard monster again on Wednesday.