Thursday, March 31, 2011

I keep writing and writing, when I should have been drawing pictures...

I'm always going on about buying a good belt and holster, and how the belt and holster are as much a part of the system as the pistol, and how holsters should be rigid and the mouth of the holster shouldn't collapse when the pistol is drawn...

...or else you could come dang close to blowing your own butt cheek off.

Gear is expendable. It will wear out from use. Do not get married to your magazines, your holster, your belt, your pistol, or any other piece of gear. Inspect it frequently and, if worn or defective, repair or replace. This dude's Galco leather holster was wore slap out, and yet he continued to use it, and is lucky he got off as lightly as he did.

(H/T to Sebastian.)

Watched the language take a kicking this morning.

The local TeeWee news station had a reporter down in Houston to cover the NCAA Final Four tourney. She was giving a live report in the dark stadium parking lot at 0mygod30 this morning, and somehow managed to work the word "just" into every sentence, like a verbal tic. Then they cut back to the newsroom, where the weather chick proceeded to do the same thing with "really". ("It's really only going to get up to about 45 today. But we'll really be watching this front move through which, really, is going to increase the chance for rain tomorrow afternoon..." Really?)

If the anchordude had started doing it with "meow" or "fnord", I'd have known they were screwing with me.

We then go to a commercial, where a satisfied-looking Cletus says of a local car dealer, by way of a testimonial: "I recommend all my friends to Joe Smith!" causing roomie to come running into the room, wondering why I was frothing "Speak English, you goober!" at the televisor.

Oh, it's going to be one of those days, I can just really tell.

Hey-hey, hi-hi! Two plus two should equal five!

So you're protesting budget cuts, and you want a tuition freeze? I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess that none of you are math majors, then.

Any other universal laws you'd like us to repeal while we're at it? Gravity, perhaps?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Bring me the Hebrew, Daniel.

In my dream, I was hanging out with my friend Staghounds. I think we were, like, next-door neighbors or something. We went to lots and lots of used book stores. Then we went to a horse race, except it was like the local dirt-track version of horse racing; very casual. And somehow a mascot pig got loose on the track, and it was faster than the horses, which the crowd seemed to find extremely peculiar.

We left when the horse racing was over and they had started a flat track motorcycle race; as we were leaving the stands, I looked over my shoulder and noticed they'd had a tremendous pileup on the back stretch, leaving the winner to wobble down the track on his own, even though his bike kept falling over.

Then we got a ride from Og in his Explorer. Staghounds was sitting up front, talking to Og, and I was riding in back. I noticed that since I was sitting up high, I could look down into the vehicles around me, which is always a novel sensation for me. There was a bronze-colored '64 Pontiac Catalina that kept following us and trying to pace us, but Og kept cutting it off. Looking down into the car, I realized that it was empty; nobody was driving it. "Og, dude, that car is driving itself!"

"I know," he growled, "That's why I'm not letting it pass!"

"Are you sure that's wise?" I asked. (I mean, by my way of thinking, pilotless demon cars have the right-of-way.)

When I looked back at the car, now there was somebody in it. Oh, there was still nobody driving it, but there was an old man in the passenger seat. He smiled and waved at me. And the car wasn't a Pontiac anymore, now it was a cream-and-maroon Austin Mini.

Then I was dropped off at my ex's place, except he lived in a small town now, and we had to go get him registered to vote, at the combination 7-11 and post office. We went back to his house, where an old roomie of mine was waiting, and the three of us played this awesome video game that was like a combination of System Shock and Left 4 Dead.

Then I woke up.

I thought that fact-free hysteria was what those other people did....

I mean, when you read cringeworthy hand-wringings like this:
The recent adventure into Libya, or shall I say ‘above Libya,’ is the first time in living memory we’ve seen the will of one man, even an American president, order and carry out an American military mission without even bothering to ask the American congress if it minds his messing about in a foreign country. In essence, one man in one day set in motion the power of the American military without any of the barest of rituals that normally come before.
...all you can do is mutter "Please stay off my side."

Because, you know, it's not the "first time in living memory", unless you're, like, eleven years old and therefore were born after Operation Desert Fox.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Do you need a 3-9x scope to draw a bead on your own foot?

NRA touts Kansas suppressor victory on their Facebook page.

Some posters there, who presumably don't have suppressors on their duck guns, object.

On a related note, if you take the noise suppressor off your car and put it on your gun, you can get a federal prison sentence and a traffic citation!

Someone needs to explain to these Bubbas and Cletii that a can is basic safety equipment, whether it's on your weed-whacker or your Walther.

You'd think it was an anti-gun piece.

The sneering condescension dripping off CNN's editorial on airport smoking lounges is of the type normally reserved for arugula-deprived yahoos in the snake-handling wastelands west of the Hudson who persist in owning guns.

The whole article proves that it's not about health or "secondhand smoke", it's about control. You can stuff the smokers into a fishbowl with a completely separate ventilation system (in a building surrounded by a haze of JP-4 fumes with rows of idling diesel buses out front,) and it's still not good enough. I guess humans have an inborn urge to control somebody; to feel a righteous and societally-sanctioned hate for somebody; to feel superior to somebody; to make somebody sit at the back of the bus. They've just been forced to shift fire to a new target: Niccers.
(Stop snickering, Fatty; they're coming for you next.)

This makes me sad.

Once upon a time, I used to love reading books and magazine articles about guns. The thrill, however, is largely gone.

Oh, sure, there are a few writers I still pay attention to when they write about hardware, but generally I'd rather read articles on training classes, shooting techniques, tactics or some esoteric piece by Pat Rogers on the proper clearance of Type XIIb malfunctions than yet another drooling, fawning review of yet another crappy, defective pistol I wouldn't let my cat pee on. (Or, worse, I could find myself yelling "WRONG!" every couple paragraphs, like for James Tarr's "Retro 1911" piece in the latest Shotgun News.)

This month's SWAT has a review of Todd Green's "Aim Fast Hit Fast" class, which was pretty cool and jibed with my experience at gun skul, as well as my monthly fix of awesome Pat Rogers and Louis Awerbuck content, and Concealed Carry Magazine had the usual lineup of good articles on legal topics and practical drills, plus that witty (and yet modest!) genius they have writing their back page column... But other than those two mags and the occasional Shotgun News, that's pretty much it for my gun periodical reading.

Guns were a lot cooler when I didn't know anything about them or shoot them very much. :(

Monday, March 28, 2011

You keep using that word...

If you want a check from the government you are, by definition, not an "anarchist". Oh, you can call yourself an anarchist while clamoring for a dole cheque, there, Nigel... You can call yourself Princess Griselda or a Bengal tiger, too, but that don't necessarily make it so. You can't smash the state and expect an allowance from it at the same time.

Incidentally, if thousands of protesters in the streets proves a government isn't legitimate, how long before Barack calls for Cameron to step down and we declare a No-Fly Zone over London?

Mmmm... Custom High Power...

The guy on the left is gunsmith Ashley Emerson, of Big Dot Express Sight fame, and the guy on the right is Denny Hansen, editor of S.W.A.T. Magazine, and the tasty, tasty gun in the middle is a sweet Novak Custom Browning High Power...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Saturday, March 26, 2011

I felt a great disturbance in the Force... though thousands of defense attorneys had thrown their hands up in exasperation and said "Screw it!"

The self-defense industry is rife with bad advice. From the strip-mall karate instructor to the guy at the gun shop telling you "And if'n you shoot 'em outside, make sure you drag 'em inside and put a knife in their hands before you call the cops!" when he probably can't even spell 'tampering'.

Still, of all the bad advice I've heard or read over the intertubes, the guy in this video takes the cake. Were I him, I would probably just sell all my guns now, because in this one video, he has handed any future prosecutor a slam-dunk murder conviction in pretty much any conceivable self-defense shooting scenario he could be involved in, short of his house being stormed in broad daylight by a platoon of chainsaw-wielding Hell's Angel zombies. And even then he'd look suspicious.

Friday, March 25, 2011

I have a strange bucket list.

I keep meaning to wander into a Christian Science Reading Room with my novel du jour and flop down and start reading. And when someone comes up to pester me, I'll look up in annoyance and say "Do you mind? I'm reading!"

How about you put your dog on and have him explain it, Ann?

The situation at Fukushima I is still in the red part of the suckometer, and keeping track of what's going on via TV anchors who have less hard science knowledge than your average Jack Russell terrier is supremely frustrating. Every time they hear a new term, like "meltdown" or "core breach", they repeat it endlessly, usually in various combinations with "disaster" or "catastrophe".

I'm waiting for one of these tired and frazzled-looking nuke types to tell them that the reactor's dilithium crystals have cracked and, yes, that's a very bad thing.

Still floating after all these years.

Yesterday morning, desperate for something to write about, I tapped the "Today In History" section of Wikipedia, and noticed that it marked the 132nd anniversary of the Battle of Topata, more of a skirmish really, that kicked off the War of the Pacific, which was an odd little war fought between Chile on one side and Peru and Bolivia on the other over who would control a godforsaken swath of coastal desert that contained nothing of value except massive deposits of bird crap and a handful of dumpy little seaports, one of which had the scenic-sounding name of "Clamville". 

Unfortunately, without those seaports Bolivia had no ocean access, and bird crap was its primary export, and so when a tax & tariff squabble erupted with Chile to the south, a full-scale Kinetic Military Action soon followed. Peru tried to intervene for peace, kind of like the US did in Europe in 1915, and with about as much success, getting sucked into the fighting on Bolivia's side. 

Because the war was being fought over a desert layered like hell's own bean dip with a geological epoch's worth of bird droppings and saltpeter, most of the first part of the war was fought at sea, and included several early ironclad duels, many featuring the ironclad Huáscar, which started the war as one of the Peruvian navy's most powerful ships but, like often happens to Italy, was occupied and forced to change sides. It ended up the war helping the Chilean navy drive the Peruvians from the ocean and blockade their ports. 

The war ended poorly for Bolivia, who lost all their beachfront property, but the Huáscar is still afloat, preserved by the Chilean navy as a museum ship; one of the few pre-Dreadnought era warships still in existence.

Huáscar fixin' to get boarded by the Chileans

Lemme see your REAL war face!

SIGarms is for some reason offering a special "Semper Fi USMC" version of the P238, just like Dan Daley carried when he went over the top at Belleau Wood. Or something.

What, exactly, the relationship is between bitty little .380s and the United States Marine Corps isn't fully explained, actually.

You don't scare me, Private Joker! Work on it!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

It's like a high-powered Fail machine.

The Connecticut legislature is apparently kicking around the idea for a magazine ban that is wrong in so very many ways:
Connecticut’s bill is worse than unenforceable; it is unconstitutional. Perhaps realizing that a grandfather clause would make the ban worthless, CT legislators stipulate that anyone who owns large-capacity magazines will have 90 days to turn them over to the government, without compensation, so the magazines can be destroyed. Citizens who fail to hand in their magazines will be guilty of a class D felony.
Dude, when your proposed gun law makes California's firearms laws look sensible by comparison, you're so far out in left field that you're actually up in the bleachers.

Even assuming you somehow get it passed, it's going to get shot down in a courtroom faster than the Libyan air force. You couldn't throw a rock at a copy of the Constitution without hitting a part this bill violates. That popping sound you hear? It's Alan Gura cracking his knuckles...

Tin Ear.

Sean Hannity makes remarks about Obama seeking approval from the United Nations rather than going to Congress. His guest on the show was Oliver North, who, utterly bereft of a sense of irony, said:
Unfortunately, you cannot lead that way, this is a man whose crisis of leadership is now affecting the future of this nation and national security of this country and putting young Americans in harm's way without anybody authorizing, except the United Nations.
You couldn't make this stuff up if you tried.

Same planet, different worlds.

I sometimes wonder what it would be like to spend five minutes looking at the world through, say, Dennis Kucinich-colored glasses.

I mean, just the other day, he said something like "I like my president, but I love my Constitution," and I'm sure he meant it, because Dennis, the Ron Paul of the Left, has always struck me as a sincere guy; sincerely wrong, but sincere nonetheless. Still, my first thought on hearing him say that was "Dennis Kucinich wouldn't know the Constitution if it gave him a paper cut on one butt cheek."

I had won the victory over myself...

At the gun show last weekend, I was shuffling down an aisle, hoping for something interesting to catch my eye after several tables full of new-production Glocks and Smiths and Springfields. I drew level with the table manned by the guy from whom I'd bought my .32 Safety Hammerless a few shows back.

"Hey!" he called out, "It's the gal who likes the old guns!" I smiled and nodded, glancing over his wares and remembering how he'd spent time painstakingly explaining to me how a top-break Smith was opened and how the thing on the back was a grip safety and...

"I've got some special ones you might like to see," he said, pulling a big Plano case out from under the table and popping the latches. He lifted the lid to reveal several absolutely gorgeous Model Number One-and-a-Half New Models, that wer...

"Now, these are .32 rimfire Smiths," he said "which are 'tip-ups' instead of 'top breaks', and that means they..." He proceeded to go on and demonstrate the reloading process for a tip-up Smith while I bit my tongue and ogled the absolutely cherry nickel plating on one he wasn't handling, which was... wait; the trigger and hammer were plated as well, rather than case-colored, which meant...

"Now this one," he continued "is the purtiest of the bunch, but you can see that the hammer and this little trigger piece are nickel-plated, too. That means it was refinished, because they're supposed to be blued." I continued to bite my tongue while he went on about grips being numbered to frames and the stamped star mark that would indicate a factory refinishing and lots of other fairly basic antique Smith trivia.

Not seeing anything that I couldn't live without, I nodded my thanks and continued on. Not too much later I ran across a table with a really rough Smith & Wesson Model Number Two (a.k.a. the "Old Army", despite the fact it had never been purchased by, you know, the Army.) This example was missing the leaf spring that doubled as a cylinder stop and rear sight, and was horribly pitted, but the owner had dragged it to almost two years worth of shows and its price had gradually been dropping to where it was practically worth it for parts. "Excuse me," I asked, "may I see that really ugly..."

"This is a Smith & Wesson No. 2," he replied, reaching for it. "It's sometimes called the Old Army, even though the Army never adopted it. Now, it's what's called a 'tip-up' Smith, which means it opens like..."

I found that I didn't even have to bite my tongue. Finally, after almost twenty years of snapping back and correcting blatant errors made in patronizing tones, I not only didn't have the energy, but didn't even want to any more. I just smiled pleasantly and let him talk. I had won the victory over myself. I loved Big Brother.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I suspected as much.

How many times have you yelled "Do all these partisan policy wonks come from some clone factory or something?" at the TeeWee screen?

As it turns out, yes they do.

I feel oddly vindicated.

Just when the world was getting entirely too serious...

...Pugsley shows up and lightens things up:
"I have always said, heard, that it would not be strange that there had been civilization on Mars, but maybe capitalism arrived there, imperialism arrived and finished off the planet," Chavez said in speech to mark World Water Day.
So basically Adam Smith wiped out the little green men. Alrighty, then.

He goes on to talk about how capitalism has destroyed forests and rivers on Earth, unlike the careful stewardship of socialism, which nurtures and preserves lush natural gardens like the Black Triangle in Eastern Europe and China's growing western deserts.

(H/T to RobertaX.)

Hey, look! A squirrel!

Given the speed with which Operation Odyssey Dawn drove Fukushima I off the front page (which had itself displaced the actual quake and tsunami that killed ~18,000 people) I find myself wondering, is CBS really going to re-hire Charlie Sheen?

Seriously, the news media has always had the attention span of a hyperactive Pekingese in desperate need of a Ritalin MilkBone, but it's more noticeable at some times than others, and lately it's been very... hey! Let's go ride our bikes!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike.

Oh look! There's a Wikipedia article entitled "List of political ideologies". Let's go look at that!

Wow, there sure are a lot of them...

The list contains everything from "Jewish anarchism" to "Ecofeminism" to "Islamic feminism" to "Queer nationalism" to "Christian communism" to "Libertarian socialism".

Each one of those dozens and dozens of links leads to its own Wikipedia article, no doubt assiduously maintained and argued over and edited and re-edited by people who consider themselves devotees of the purest form of said ideology and who denounce each other as "Splitters!" and each and every one of them sure that they have decoded the message on the back of the cosmic cereal box.

I think it might be simultaneously the funniest and most depressing thing I've stumbled across on the interwebs so far this week.

Wait, wait, I'm confused...

I thought that the official party line now was that the Arab people clamoring for democracy was a Good Thing and that the doddering and repressive oligarchs were the Bad Guys?

You know, except in those places where the populist Islamists are trying to overthrow a government that, while undoubtedly corrupt, repressive, and autocratic, is the only thing standing between the status quo and another terrorist haven of a failed state.

I would like to think that we pick which dictators and oligarchs we'll prop up and which we'll topple using a selection process at least as involved as the one by which we pick our college basketball teams, and which doesn't involve a dart board or a Magic 8 Ball, but I get less and less certain about that as time goes by.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Why I've had a big dumb grin on my face for the last three days...

Do you know what this is? This is the Last Hurrah of the Vietnam-protesting Baby Boomers. Those poor gray-haired bastards pulled their dusty love beads and tie-dyed banners out of the closet for one last charge into the breach to get Barack Obama elected and here we are, not three years later, lobbing cruise missiles at wogs. If irony had calories, I wouldn't need solid food for the next three months...

Awww, who's the sad clown? Who's the sad clown?

Is there any wine sweeter than the tears of a hippie?

Tab Clearing:

It's a good thing schadenfreude doesn't have calories, 'cause I'd weigh 300 pounds.


ToddG at, who has previously done extended (and extensively documented) tests of a S&W M&P9, an HK P30, and an HK45, decided that this year's subject would be a Gen 4 Glock 17.

Unfortunately, there were... issues.

Think about this the next time you hear someone say "I trust Brand X enough to just take one out of the box, load it up, and put it in my holster."

Two Minutes' Hate.

Watch as famous Smart Person Bill Maher warms up the crowd by denouncing Emmanuel Goldstein. See how the Smart crowd (which includes, I would be willing to bet, at least one graduate of a Women's Studies program,) cheers its approval.

Imagine the howls of outrage if this was some conservative commentator using that term to describe, say, Hillary or Michelle. For that matter, imagine a crowd full of arugula-deprived Dittohead squares reacting with approval to the use of the word "twat" in public.

Way to keep the discourse elevated, there, Bill. You wouldn't know the high ground if the quaestores ordered you hurled off of it.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

There's just no pleasing some people...

The Arab League, the very folks who were originally clamoring for a "No-Fly Zone" over Libya to protect civilians from Kha... Qa... Gaddafi's army, is now protesting the airstrikes on Libya:
"From the start we requested only that a no-fly zone be set up to protect Libyan civilians and avert any other developments or additional measures," Mussa added.
Apparently they flipped out when cruise missiles, anti-radiation missiles, and laser-guided bombs started pounding Libyan ADA sites, airfields, and command & control facilities.

"We didn't mean that kind of no-fly zone!" comes the Arab League response. What did you think we were going to use to ground the Libyan air force? Drum circles and folk songs?

You know what? Screw these people. While all our armed forces are in the neighborhood, we should just seize the oil fields and the pumping facilities, and let them go back to arguing about which one of Mohammed's cousin-in-law's nephew's brothers is the real Caliph out in the desert someplace.

Overheard in the Office:

Me: "P.J. O'Rourke has a Twitter account? Whoooooo!"

RX: "Tamara will be in her bunk."

Gotta get down to the big antiwar protest...

...but while I'm waiting for the new mocha-hued repaint job on my giant papier-mâché George Bush head to dry (luckily the big ears were easily repurposed) I'd like to leave you with this charming open letter to the Principled Antiwar Left, which snarks pretty much everything I wanted to snark, and gets in a last boot to the ribs with
P.S. Also, there’s no proof that Qaddafi had anything to do with 9/11.

Meanwhile, apparently Kha... Qa... Gaddafi has rolled out footage of gurneys full of dead human shields, which the media vampires (who, let's not forget, "Remember the Maine!"-ed us into this in the first place) are gleefully rebroadcasting, since Libyan State Propaganda TV doesn't have the signal strength to get its message out unaided. Thanks to advanced seeker technology, our bombs seem to home in unerringly on women, children, and Imam O'Flanagan from the Needy Orphans' Ministry.

Hey, CNN, since this war was half your idea in the first place, can't you at least go 72 hours before switching sides?

(H/T to Borepatch.)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

I just have one thing to say:


Overheard in the Office:

Roomie is slaving away over a hot keyboard...
RX: "What was her girlfriend's name?"

Me: "Whose?"

RX: "Eleanor Roosevelt."

Me: "Uhhh... FDR?"

RX: "No, no, no..."

Latest news from The Line of Death:

Barry has apparently indicated to Sarkozy that the US would consider contributing in a service and support role to The Coalition of the Willing, perhaps even to the extent of allowing French overflights through US airspace. You know, so they wouldn't have to dogleg around Spain and refuel...

Overheard in the Hallway:

Overhearing a talking head on the TeeWee, roomie blurts...
RX: "Winston Churchill did not win WWII! He was on the winning side, sure, but..."

Me: "Nonsense! He went down into Hitler's bunker with nothing but a knife in his teeth and a grenade!"

RX: "All the leaders back then were too old for that stuff. And you certainly wouldn't send Roosevelt in..."

'Cause he's a war machine...

Huck the red tabby has more courage and less common sense than any cat I've seen in years. He still has that kitten-like urge to play fight, and if you decide you've had enough before he's done, he will come at you as you try to pull back and walk away.

I did not know, however, that he had an NSN. Apparently he is a milspec cat, perhaps for use in clearing bunker complexes.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Oh, I'm gonna have fun with this.

Apparently that pack of worthless busybodies at the UN has decided that it's time for regime change in Tripoli, so they're authorizing everybody to whine to Uncle Sam to go get militarily involved and start bombing Libya.

Sorry, we've toppled our quota of genocidal Arab dictators for the decade and have had to listen to everybody tell us what jerks we were for doing it. Let Sarkozy show Kha... Qa... Gaddafi some choc et effroi.
As a side note, I was completely unaware that whether a government is "legitimate" or not is up to the UN Security Council...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

If the purpose of a movie trailer is to pique curiosity...

...then this one worked unbelievably well. I can't not see this movie.

(H/T to Ben Whitmer.)

Know nukes.

Someone who knows a bit about radioactive clouds explains why Chernobyl II is not going to be happening, concluding his post with:
Instead of spending money on potassium iodide tablets, how's about writing a check to the relief fund of your choice to help the folks on the other side of the Pacific who have no electricity, no food, no water, no shelter, and need to get their lives back on an even keel after witnessing so much death and destruction? You'll feel better, honest.

Meanwhile, in an editorial at CNN, one Patrick Doherty, director of the Smart Strategy Initiative at the New America Foundation, says that the Deepwater Horizon and Fukushima I incidents prove that we should move away from our dependence on oil and nukes and build our infrastructure in a way that is dependent on toxic heavy metals controlled by foreign powers with all the environmental concern of the old Warsaw Pact, and which doesn't work on still and cloudy days. Mr. Doherty's engineering credentials for designing this new infrastructure are impressive:
Before returning to Washington, Mr. Doherty spent ten years in the Middle East, Africa, the Balkans and the Caucuses working at the intersection of conflict and development. He served as Catholic Relief Services' European Regional Advisor for Peacebuilding, as a consultant to the Organization of African Unity, and advised the Israeli and the Palestinian Authority's education ministries. He also taught African politics at the University of the Witwatersrand. Mr. Doherty holds a master's degree in security studies from the Fletcher School, Tufts University, where he co-founded the Institute for Human Security, and a bachelor's degree from the School of International Service at American University.
You know, if he'd had a fine arts degree, I could at least think he'd operated something as technical as a kiln or had maybe gotten a rudimentary knowledge of chemistry by mixing pigments...

Meanwhile, in comments to an earlier post, reader docjim505 asks:
My grandfather ... worked at Oak Ridge during World War II and was exposed to beryllium and perhaps other things. He died of cancer at the age of 86. Did his exposures from forty years earlier cause the cancer? Or was it that he smoked most of his life AND worked variously as a coal miner and textile mill worker? Or did his heart disease, diabetes and plain old age do him in? How does one make that determination?
Well, that depends. Who are you getting your grant money from?

I'm going to sound like a pinko saying this...

The lights came on early at Rosehome Cottage this morning. After about five minutes of local news, I cut the TeeWee over to CNN because I wanted to see what was going on over in Japan.

I caught the last half of CNN World 1. Things were bad for the rebels in Libya, efforts were still ongoing to try and get things under control at the Fukushima plant, and rescue efforts in northern Japan were being hampered by a snowstorm that was making life miserable for the survivors. A camera crew hiked into the wreckage of a village that was cut off by the tsunami and hadn't been reached by SAR teams yet; it was eerie. The talking heads were some Indian chick out of London and a generically swarthy dude out of Abu Dhabi, both with the sort of English accent that causes my American-raised subconscious to automatically add 10 IQ points to the speaker.

The show ended, there was a commercial break, and then CNN American Morning came on. The IQ in the room dropped like the water level in a Japanese harbor at five minutes to three on Friday afternoon. The screen was instantly full of pneumatic blondes, all chattering "zomg! Teh nukes!!!1!one!" I walked off in disgust after about five minutes. I can hear the TV in the other room and, 37 minutes later, they are still on this story.

What kills me is that this is the same network, just two different shows with two different target demographics: One that gets its weather report in degrees Celcius and the other of which is apparently a herd of easily-panicked morons who like cleavage.

God help me, the older I get, the righter I think they are.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"What's the best gun for a _______?"

Breda kicked over a hornet's nest with a recent post dissecting the tired old saw that goes "This here Airweight snub-nosed revolver is the perfect gun for you, li'l lady!"

An Airweight revolver is a handy little gun. I've kept one in a coat or Shoot-Me vest pocket for years. It's light enough to not drag one side of the coat down noticeably, and I shoot it a lot more accurately than I do any of the dinky "credit card with a trigger" .32/.380 double-action autos. There are other advantages that I'm not going to bother with here, because they're immaterial to the point of this post which is that I shoot it well because I've done a lot of double-action revolver shooting.

And I do very little of that revolver shooting with that dinky Airweight snubbie. It hurts. The old-style hard plastic LaserGrips leave the backstrap exposed; the corner of the hump-back frame barks against the knuckle at the base of my thumb because I choke my grip up for better recoil control, so that after twenty-five or thirty rounds of full-house loads, I'm sporting a bruised knuckle.

"Put better grips on it! I put Hogues on mine, and..." I can hear someone typing it now. No, what's important about the gun is that it fits in my pocket and doesn't bind on the fabric inside, not whether or not it hurts my hand during long range sessions. I have an all-steel .22 Kit Gun that I can shoot for hours and get all the double-action J-frame trigger time I need; it's actually fun to shoot.

Why do people recommend Airweight J-frames to people, women or men, as a first, and possibly only, gun? It's about as narrow-purpose as a handgun can be, and tricky to shoot well: the sights are hard to see, not to mention the basic physics problem of trying to hold a sub-1lb. object steady with two fingers while pulling a 10+ lb. trigger, all the while knowing it's going to smack your hand like a ball bat when it does go off? I mean, if you were trying to frustrate a new shooter and turn them off on shooting as a pastime, could there be a better gun to give him or her?

Dear news media:

Remember back in '50s and early '60s, when we set off something like 900 atomic bombs in Nevada? And how we just let the fallout blow wherever and it landed all over the eastern US? And how it wiped out life as we know it and all that was left from Colorado to the Atlantic were six-legged rats battling two-headed cockroaches in the glowing ruins?

Yeah. Exactly. So shut up with the panic already.

(And Lester Holt of Today? Stop being such a big girl's blouse.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

House of Style.

As much as it's like chewing on a cat turd for me to admit this, Michael Jordan had a point in this old web article I stumbled across today.

Bangle's designs have now been exposed to time and, while I still hate the '02 7-series with a screaming purple passion, I have largely come to terms with the new 6-series, and the Z4 has... Vishnu save me from my fellow Z3 owners ... gotten to the point where I find it kind of attractive (although the unbroken Oldsmobilesque sweep of its dash is still deadly dull.) And, heresy of heresies, I now find myself thinking that the eagle-eyed E60 5-series is a dead-sexy-looking automobile.

Through a decade where a majority of other designers were looting their companies' vaults like Howard Carter with CAD software, here was someone who was at least trying something new. And if every Camry on the road is afflicted with a "me-too" case of Bangle Butt, well, that's hardly his fault, is it?

If stupidity were high-pressure geothermal steam...

...Yoko Ono would be Old Faithful.

Poor Mark David Chapman; three feet to the right and he could have been a hero....

This'll go good with those $100 speaker cables.

I have just seen a commercial for the "Fuel Doctor Fuel Efficiency Booster FD-47". For those of you who are unaware, this is a hollow plastic shell that plugs into your car's cigarette lighter and contains naught but three LEDs and a circuit board that apparently serves no other function except to painlessly separate the gullible from ~$50.

Personally, I think the government should slash taxes and entirely fund its operations by selling things like this, lottery tickets, and ziploc bags of rocks. Stupidity is the most abundant element in the universe after hydrogen, and it's infinitely renewable; when combined with gullibility, the reaction is phenomenally powerful. Isn't it time we put it to work?

Not to be tasteless or anything...

...but I would like to point out that Japan has survived large releases of radioactivity before. Two of them as a matter of fact.

Jesus wept! How about a sense of proportion here? Potentially ten thousand or more dead in an instant from a tidal wave and everybody's worried about a bump in thyroid cancers down the road? (And I'll point out that those '60s-vintage GE reactors compare to the current state of the art in the safety features department like a '60s-vintage Chevy does to the current product.)

Look, kids, it's nukes or nothing.

Solar's a supplement at best, and wind turbines are nothing but prayer wheels for suburbanite Buddhists. In the long term, it's either get comfortable with nukes or continue servicing King Abdullah, your choice.

Monday, March 14, 2011

QotD: Innocents Abroad Edition.

From the "Feather our own nest this vacation season" File, blogger An Ordinary American points out the foreign joys available here at home. The money quote:
China? You can have that too. I saw a Richard Gere movie where he got in deep doo-doo for something he supposedly said or did there. Besides, if you want to visit a communist state, there’s always California.

On second thought, you might find a little more freedom and better cost of living in China.
I LOL'ed...

Well, thank you, Captain Sunshine.

Les Jones brings the cheerful economic news of the day, and wraps up his post thusly:
None of this can go on forever. The Fed can’t print money forever. The U.S. can’t borrow huge fractions of GDP forever. Austerity is coming. The only question in my mind now is whether we’ll have a currency collapse and hyperinflation first.
This dour outlook seems to contradict our current official national fiscal policy of "Lalalalalalala! I can't hear you!"

It's relative.

Allegedly, sailors on the flight deck of CVN-76 took about a month's worth of radiation exposure in an hour. (If it had been CVN-65, they would have only gotten three weeks' worth.)

I will note that nowhere in the article does the New York Times mention that the sailors on the USS Ronald Reagan who were belowdecks didn't get any unusual levels of radiation at all. You know, down there with the pair of Westinghouse nuclear reactors that they conveniently forgot to mention powered the ship in question...

Yeah? So's the NBA.

Your tax dollars and mine have been spent on a report to determine that the officer corps of the US military is overwhelmingly composed of one skin tone and gender. The skin tone part is pretty easy to figure out, since it mirrors within a few percentage points the melanin spectrum of 40+ year-old US college grads in general, of which "people who are senior military officers" is a subset:
Seventy-seven percent of senior officers in the active-duty military are white, while only 8 percent are black, 5 percent are Hispanic...
On the other hand, only 16 percent of officers are women while out here in the broader society, over half of us use the restroom without the urinals.

The reason for this is that combat arms postings are still off-limits to women. Without getting into whether that will ever change or even whether it should ever change, that brings us to the conclusion of this inane report:
The report ordered by Congress in 2009 calls for greater diversity in the military’s leadership so it will better reflect the racial, ethnic and gender mix in the armed forces and in American society.
This is ridiculous. The purpose of the armed forces is to kill people and break their stuff. This isn't the frickin' Peace Corps we're running here, it is a warfighting machine. Much like the Los Angeles Lakers, it doesn't get its score at the end of the game graded on a curve based on how well it reflects "the racial, ethnic and gender mix" of America.

(H/T to Ed Rasimus.)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

After watching CNN and NBC this morning...

...I find myself wondering how many Muppeteers it would take to do an interview between Fareed Zakaria and Chuck Schumer. I hear it takes two guys just to control Fareed's eyebrows...

I know this makes me a contrarian...

...but I like DST. It takes an hour of daylight away from a part of the day when I wouldn't be using it anyway, and tacks it on at the end, when I can sit on the porch with a beer and a book and not have to bat moths out of my face for a whole extra hour.

But this switching back and forth stuff is for the birds...

I took a melatonin tablet last night and had a good night's sleep, didn't set any alarms, forgot to reset the clocks, and now I've effectively overslept and shot my plans for the morning down in flames. (I had been planning on going to the range this morning, but there's no way I'll have time now.) Way to get my day off to a surly start.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Techical difficulties...

I'm sure everybody's gotten to see plenty of talking heads in UTC -5:00 having horribly lagged conversations with field reporters in UTC +9:00 over the last couple of days.

Roomie put up a pretty cool post explaining things like the "Double Hop" and the "Amanpour Nod".

There's some men you just can't reach.

Despite the .gov wrapping as much of the west coast in Nerf padding as possible in preparation for Gaia's predicted aquatic love tap, the forces of Natural Selection managed a small victory.
Apparently, hearing that the tsunami was approaching and people should get away from low-lying coastal areas, some dude grabbed his camera, went to the the mouth of the Klamath river, and waded right out into the gaping maw of Charles Darwin.

Good work!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Deep survival.

I just finished reading The Long Walk, written by a Pole who'd been tossed into the gulag after the Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939.

After over a year of torture in communist prisons, including the infamous Lubyanka, he was shipped east to a labor camp in Siberia near Yakutsk. From there, in the spring of 1941, he and a few other prisoners escaped and set out on foot, crossing Siberia, Mongolia, the Gobi Desert, and the Himalayas before winding up in British India in early 1942.

It is a compelling tale of endurance that has apparently been made into a movie. The Russians claim it's a lie, but given the Soviets' track record with captured Polish officers, it's not surprising that they'd want to kick sand over this particular lump in the Russian historical litter box. I believe I'll be ordering the movie...

No excuse.

How many of us, if we negligently killed someone at work today, would still have a job tomorrow?

That is, those of us who aren't SWAT cops in Framingham, MA?
As he stepped to his left, (Duncan) lost his balance and began to fall over backwards,” the report states. “Officer Duncan realized that his right foot was off the floor and the tactical equipment that he was wearing was making his movements very awkward. While falling, Officer Duncan removed his left hand from his rifle, which was pointing down towards the ground and put his left arm out to try and catch himself. As he did so, he heard a shot.
...and by "heard a shot", he means "pulled the trigger because his finger was inside the trigger guard where it damned well shouldn't have been and everybody knows it".

So this guy violated Rules #2 and #3 and an innocent man is dead because of it. How do you suppose this scenario would play out in Framingham if the shooter had been Joe Homeowner instead of Johnny Law?

(H/T to Unc.)

I'm not sure I can improve on this one in any way.

The CNN headline reads:
Voodoo sex ceremony starts fatal fire.
Well, okay then. Further commentary would just be gilding the lily, I think.

Kids, be careful when you're performing your voodoo sex ceremonies, okay? Try and keep the candles away from flammable materials, and be sure not to knock them over when you're being ridden by a loa.

"New Civility" obviously means "You shut up!"

Boy, the "New Civility" has really reared its ugly head in Wisconsin, hasn't it?

At least I've gotten some yuks out of it. For example, check out this caption, from the linked CNN page:

Read that caption aloud. Roll it around on your tongue a bit. Savor the exotic bouquet of the complex layers of paradox and oxymoron... Mm-mmm!

Oh, no! There goes Tokyo!

What makes this earthquake and tsunami such big TV drama is the sheer amount of as-it's-happening footage.

Usually Mother Nature's special effects extravaganzas occur in backward lands full of howling savages, like Haiti or New Zealand. Japan, however, is a modern, technologically-advanced nation; where New Zealand has far more sheep than people, Japan has something like two or three hundred cameras for every human being: In addition to regular old camera-type-cameras, there are traffic-cams, news cams, phone-cams and, knowing the Japanese and their proclivities for both gadgetry and weirdness, you can probably buy an electric loo with a built-in toiletcam. This Argus-eyed array of lenses means that the airwaves and internets are being deluged with dramatic disaster footage that probably caused Jerry Bruckheimer to hurl a brick through his TV screen in a fit of envious pique.

And if it takes a burning oil refinery being hurled through the wreckage of a nuclear power plant to wash Charlie Sheen off the front page, then at least there's an upside.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Chump change.

With talk of replacing the $1 bill with a $1 coin circulating again, I find myself wondering what the impact will be on the... er... "exotic dancing" industry.

Are shoe models going to need to wear some kind of special coin receptacle? Is this not really about the money at all, but rather some kind of sneak flank attack from the Legion of Decency?

Solidarity forever!

In what is described as one of the largest demonstrations at the state capitol in 15 years, as many as 20,000 8,000 Hoosier union workers were spontaneously issued matching t-shirts and professionally printed grassroots signs, then given the day off work and voluntarily bussed to Indianapolis where they demanded more jobs for Georgians, Alabamans, and Tennesseans.

These people will not rest until they have successfully chased every manufacturing job out of the Rust Belt!

I just have one thing to say:

Who's the "Party of 'No'" now, bitches?


This makes my head hurt.

Fifty-five sixth graders will be left behind, or at least part of their scores will be, thanks to three teachers that decided to prep them for the science portion of the mandatory ISTEP+ standards test by showing them the questions and answers ahead of time.
"In their minds, they thought they were doing what was fair for the students..." said the school superintendent, Dr. Tom Warmke, indicating that the guilty teachers were ot-nay oo-tay ight-bray, if you know what I mean.

At least one of the teachers involved is probably going to get fired, which should give them plenty of free time to hang out down at the statehouse and protest education reform.

Well, that's a change of pace...

The Mexican government is all upset at US law enforcement agents standing by and allowing guns to be smuggled into Mexico, which is a change of pace from the usual American anger at Mexican law enforcement agents standing by and allowing drugs and illegal immigrants to be smuggled into the US.

In the Mexican government's defense, at least their cops are on the take and not doing it as a matter of agency policy.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Too bad you can't synthesize common sense.

Unc notes that there's a push to ban some kind of "bath salts" (wink-wink, nudge-nudge) that are really just a sort of snortable upper that isn't on any controlled substance list yet, kind of like the "incense" that also happens to mimic the effects of smoking a bowl that is the current bête noire of county commissions and state governments across our fair land.

The problem with this approach is this: There is a lot of money in selling people a buzz. That will never change. They can synthesize new intoxicating substances faster than you can synthesize new laws, plus the old stuff is still being sold and is now more profitable than ever. The money that flows through the hands of the dope cartels is measured in numbers not usually used outside of astronomical observatories or Bill Gates' accountant's office.

This whole Political-Narcotic complex does nothing but buy machine guns for police departments, encourage idiots to do riskier and riskier things in an attempt to get high, line the pockets of defense attorneys, and make it harder for me to get better when I catch a cold.

Cut it the heck out, already.

Cats and their ways.

Why is it that cats think Forbidden Water tastes so much better than the water in their bowl?

You know Forbidden Water: It's the stuff that drips from faucets, or is left in the tub after you take a shower, or sits in a bowl in the kitchen sink. Seriously, turn off the shower at Roseholme Cottage and almost faster than you can open the curtain, there will be a cat up on the edge of the tub, licking the spout. "Mm-mmm! Forbidden water!"

This, of course, makes it doubly important to keep the lid down on the cat jacuzzi...

Particle Physics For Dummies.

When the top review blurb on the back cover read "...not just physics for poets...", I was sold. And I wasn't disappointed, either.

You Are Here: A Portable History of the Universe is a very ambitious book, intending to give the layperson a thumbnail sketch of the current state of everything from astrophysics to the particle zoo to evolutionary biology. It works surprisingly well; I digested it in two big gulps. Too many popular science books are written by a twenty-pound brain who can't write his way out of a sack, assisted by a ghostwriter of dubious talents, whereas Potter is a writer who happens to have a degree in science; the difference this makes in readability is noticeable. Recommend.

That's good news.

The Maersk Alabama apparently had another encounter with pirates off the coast of Africa. This one, however, ended without all the hostages and lifeboats and SEAL snipers and other rigamarole, because:
"The captain followed the appropriate protocol and authorized an embarked security team to fire warning shots in order for the pirates to turn away," the statement said.
Well. It's good to see that common sense appears to be percolating through some skulls out there. I was afraid that, instead of providing armed security for their ships, they'd instead pressure the UN to pass a resolution banning the possession of firearms by pirates.

(And banning pirates from having guns would inevitably lead to a dangerous population explosion among ninjas, without their natural opponents to keep their numbers in check...)

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Overheard in the Hallway:

RX: "Oh my gawd, they've ruined the Bond franchise! Daniel Craig is appearing in drag to raise awareness for International Women's Day!"

Me: "He's still a better Bond than R..."

RX: "You'd better not say 'Roger Moore'! He was handsome!"

Me: "Daniel Craig in a dress is butcher than Roger Moore in a tux."

RX: "Ewwww!!!"

I know what I'll did this summer.

Memorial Day. Knoxville. Machine Guns. Tom Givens. Luckygunner sure does know how to put on a bloggershoot.

Did I want to come, they asked? Does a big snake crawl low to the ground?

Tab Clearing:

  • The On-the-Go Woman's Guide To Travel In Pakistan, Part 2: How To Not Get Raped (Probably).

  • Historical quibble: The Jomsvikings, a semi-legendary group of Danish mercenaries and freebooters, did not allow women or children in the camp, for which fact some folks think they had an interest in musical theater and decorated their longhouses with Judy Garland posters. However, many other historical groups didn't allow women or children in the camp, including the 1/7 Marines under Chesty Puller, Legio X Fretensis, and the Oakland Raiders, and none of them are known for statistically abnormal levels of buggery.

  • To take a page from Glenn Reynolds, "They told me if I voted for McCain that detainees would continue to be tried by military tribunals, and they were right!"

Monday, March 07, 2011

Overheard in the Hallway:

RX: "Exactly two point five Sagans ago..."

Me: "That'd be billions and billions and billions and billions and bill, right? No, wait, it'd be billions and billions and billions and billions and billions."

RX: "You were thinking of two point two-five Sagans."

File under "No, for real?"

  • Lady Gaga is apparently unaware of the fact that the latter half of her nom de yawp predates her act by a considerable margin and has other meanings beyond "egomaniacal pop star". Perhaps she can use her rock star money to buy a time machine and launch suits against everybody from Hanna-Barbera to the maker of Go GaGa diaper bags.

  • Hamid Karzai puts his foot down. There will be no more accidentally killing civilians while trying to kill people who kill civilians on purpose. Or something.

Because terrorists are hard to catch...

...and The Fast and the Furious fanbois are less likely to shout "Allahu akhbar!" and blow you to kingdom come when you try and arrest them, the Department of Homeland Security is busy launching a crackdown to keep the homeland secure from gray-market Nissan Skyline GT-Rs.

I'll sleep safer in my bed tonight, secure in the knowledge that rough men stand watch in the night, protecting me from cars that haven't had the full battery of NHTSA frontal offset barrier impact tests.

(Incidentally, I first became aware of the Skyline GT-R back in the early '90s when, in a "10 Best Cars You Can't Get Here" piece, Car & Driver described it as "...the only car, howling through the rain-soaked mountains near Nikko, to make our passenger throw up. Twice." I've had a low-level jones for one ever since.)

(H/T to Unc.)

Molon Lumen!

Over at the Newbius Papers, the idea is advanced that because hippies want to register your guns, then hippies should have to... register their compact florescent light bulbs. Because CFLs contain mercury, get it? So they're dangerous, like guns!

First, I like CFLs for a lot of applications, such as any light you basically want to leave burning. They're the berries for a back porch light. More importantly, though, I like freedom, so I don't like the idea of registering anything. Not guns, not CFLs, not even filthy hippies or nosy statists.

Telling people what kind of light bulbs they have to buy is for commies.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Burn the nest.

I hadn't thought about it, but this guy's absolutely right. Forget Berkeley; Madison has been the pink navel of America all the way back to the days when UCB was a sleepy little cow college.

I don't know what it is about Scandihoovians, even of the transplanted Midwestern variety, that makes them so bipolar: Either they're sailing up your rivers to burn your monasteries, or they're pinkos paddling around Lake Wobegon, there's hardly any middle ground.

(Via Twitter.)

All that hate's gonna burn you up, kid...

It is becoming a habit to turn on Chris Matthews on Sunday mornings, just to get my heart started. Here is a guy who lives in some perfect mirror universe of the one I inhabit, whose weltanschauung is so totally alien to mine that we would probably extract completely different meanings from the sentence "See Spot run."
Me: "The writer is telling me that I see a dog named Spot running."

Chris: "The crazy right-wingers are trying to milk votes from idiots by pandering to their belief that our extremely classy president is secretly a dog."

I'll say this, though: Whoever writes TV programming certainly believes that liberals are smarter than conservatives. As bad as Hardball is at parsing reality, at least Chris uses polysyllabic words in his lies. If you switch the channel over to Fox & Friends, running at the same time, 50 points of IQ gets sucked from the room every time one of those vacuous bubbleheads opens their cakehole to coo over some pointless human interest story. Seriously, the US government is apparently considering deploying military forces to yet another desert full of jerks who hate us, and you're wasting my time telling me about how firefighters saved a cute three-legged doggie by giving it CPR? Apparently the powers-that-be at Fox have decided that their target audience consists of the kind of people who have flocks of plaster ducks hanging on the wall.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

That was scary.

I had a dream that I went to Chicago, except it was a weird Chicago that flooded daily, and the buildings could all be hydraulically raised to keep them out of the floodwaters. In my dream, Og was trying to talk me into moving there to take this job. Also, I met Rahm Emanuel and he was a nice guy, which is how I knew I was dreaming; the John Hancock building being raised 100' on giant hydraulic pistons seemed plausible, but an affable, likable Rahm was obviously a figment of my imagination...

Friday, March 04, 2011

We're winning.

I've been a gun owner for my entire adult life, but it wasn't until the mid-'90s that I became a political gun owner.

At the time, we had CCW in Georgia, but for an ideal, there was that semi-mythical chimera known as "Vermont carry", whereby anyone who could legally own a gun could tote it, no permit required.

Then in 2003, it suddenly became known as "Vermont-Alaska carry", and then last year "Vermont-Alaska-Arizona carry" became too cumbersome, and so now it's just called "Constitutional carry", which turned out to be just in time, because "Vermont-Alaska-Arizona-Wyoming carry" would be way too much of a mouthful.

(H/T to Unc.)

Important tip:

To those who say things like "What's a Facebook?" in the comments section of a blog: You don't get bonus Luddite points for using the internet, but only a little bit. ;)

I had the weirdest dream...

We were in this scenic little town... well, maybe it was more of a small city... somewhere in the Appalachians. Bobbi had gotten a job there working on airplane radios for something that was like a state militia or something. I'm thinking that wherever this was was in some alternate Wookietopian future where the Free State Project succeeded or something.

Anyway, Bobbi had a Ford Taurus, and we were driving Michael Z. Williamson from the airfield to a Science Fiction convention in town. There were a lot of really neat old three- and four-story Victorian houses. Every element of the dream is pretty easily traceable to stuff from yesterday, except Mad Mike; I have no idea how he got in there.

I've seen the future, brother; it is murder...

So, in doing some research on the intertubes yesterday, I came across the website for EUFOR Althea. EUFOR Althea is the European Union military mission that has taken over responsibility for playing traffic cop in Bosnia-Califragilisticexpialidocious with the expiration of the NATO IFOR mission.

The website was the grimmest thing I've seen in a while. There's hardly any indication that you're on a military webpage at all, except for the occasional people in uniforms, and some of them are in various Euro nations' equivalent of Class A's, which in post-WWII Europe are usually styled to be slightly less martial-looking than your average train conductor. There are no guns, or jet fighters, or Leopard II tanks visible anywhere on the website to remind the locals what will happen if they don't stick to the Dayton Accords, but there is a link in the sidebar to a video on the successful EUFOR Althea Gender Conference.

It's like some strange Eloi vision of what a military is supposed to be; not that they showed any equipment so aggressive-looking as an Armored Personnel Carrier, but if they had, I'll bet it would have had a wheelchair lift.

Can you imagine what this looks like to the barbarians outside the walls?

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Car Musing I: On the success of "crossover" SUVs...

The success of the "crossover" car-based SUV-ette at the expense of the traditional truck-based SUV seems to have confused people. "It's not an SUV! It can hardly go off-road! It's just a tall station wagon!"

People buy crossovers exactly because they are “tall wagons”. They want room for stuff, AWD for bad weather, a bit of ground clearance (because they realized when they had that oh-so-fashionable 2WD Explorer or Cherokee a few years back that they liked being able to see over traffic and never having to worry about scraping the air dam on curbs,) and maybe they want enough off-roadability to get the ice chests to the picnic tables at the church picnic once a year.

What I don't get are people who buy full-on body-on-frame SUVs, slap on the Desert Duelers and the Warne winch and the full rack of KC Daylighters, all to get the ice chests to the picnic tables at the church picnic once a year.

Now, if you're actually taking your SUV off-road all the time, your priorities are different, just like mine are. I'm not terribly interested in wagons or SUVs or trucks or even sedans, because I don't care about hauling anything except ass. (Remember, I used a motorcycle for daily transportation for years, so to me, a two-seat roadster has amazing amounts of cargo capacity.) If I decided I needed something with some cargo space, it would be a wagon or a "crossover", because I prioritize on-road handling over off-road capability.

(Expanded from comments here.)

Because there's a Roman analog for everything.

In the late Roman empire, post-Diocletian, the Roman army looked very different than it did under the earlier Principate, and bore hardly any resemblance at all to the Republican legions that had turned the Mediterranean into a Roman lake.

The military was divided into two types of soldiers, one that stayed close to the Emperor and shuttled constantly from trouble-spot to trouble-spot, and another force that was strung all along the frontiers, divided between countless fortlets and watchtowers. These frontier troops spent their time working on fortifications and road maintenance when they weren't engaged in raiding the barbarians across the river or trying to drive off raids from those same tribesmen.

The frontier troops, known as limitanei, never saw much of the empire they were protecting. Since volunteering to spend your life filling potholes and fighting Franks in the chilly swamps of Germania Inferior wasn't the kind of thing that looks good on recruiting brochures, Diocletian simply decreed that if dad was a soldier, you were a soldier: In effect, garrisoning some godforsaken post in the ass end of nowhere became an hereditary life sentence that often as not ended with a retirement as a maimed veteran, eking out a living on the garrison farm, never having seen the Byzantium or Ravenna you'd spent your life protecting.

What got me thinking of this? This:
As one retired Marine Corps general noted in a condolence letter to Kelly a few days after his son's death: "Service to and sacrifice for the nation have become a legacy affair for a relatively small number of families."
A separate military class is always a risky thing for a country to have. How much worse to risk having a separate military class that feels alienated, overworked, and unappreciated?

Overheard in Roomie's Bedroom:

The TeeWee had cut on in alarm clock mode and the Today show was claiming that its next guest was going to be a woman who abandoned her husband and children to pursue her career and wrote a book about it...
Me: "So a woman ditching the fam to go be selfish is still controversial enough to rate a TeeWee interview and a book? In 2011? Really?"

RX: "Well..."

Me: "I mean, seriously, if it was a dude? When a guy leaves the wife and kids to go pursue his thing, is that even worth a mention?"

RX: "It'd depend on how he left them."

Me: "Oh, sure, I mean, chopped up and stuffed in a steamer trunk, yeah, that'd get some ink. But otherwise it's just a Billy Joel song."

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

It's not against the law to be a jerk.

The Supremes just decided Snyder v. Phelps in favor of the asshats from Kansas, which was the right thing to do.

The First Amendment protects jerks the same as it protects normal people. Maybe more, because there's no particular need to protect somebody waving a sign that says "I love mom and apple pie!"

One word too many.

In an article on gas station pricing, one station owner was quoted as saying
"Consumers don't understand how the business works," he said.
He could have left out the "the" and just said that consumers don't know how business works.

Seriously, a shockingly large percentage of the population has no clue how the part of business that makes it worthwhile, the part where the money changes hands, operates.
"Asking liberals where wages and prices come from is like asking six-year-olds where babies come from." -- Dr. Thomas Sowell
Which is a fine and funny quote, except it ain't just liberals. Go to any gun forum and read any discussion on pricing of guns or ammunition at the retail or wholesale levels, the audacity of dealers who charge for transfers, or (my favorite) "That idiot behind the counter who didn't know nothin' about __________!"
Yeah, Enrico Fermi, like it's easy to find ex-SEALs who are not only active in Cowboy Action Shooting, but also lifetime members of the S&W Collector's Association, certified reloading instructors, and have associate's degrees in Gunsmithing who are willing to work for part-time retail clerk wages. Oh, they should pay their help better? And sell you the gun for what you saw it for in that CDNN ad in Shotgun News?

Pop Quiz: "Profits are..."
  1. "...the money in the till at the end of the day."
  2. "...the difference between the cost of the gun on the shelf and the one in the Shotgun News ad."
  3. "...what you have left of the difference between the cost of the gun on the shelf and the one in the Shotgun News ad after you've paid the rent and the utilities and the employees."
Sadly, I'm afraid that, to the average Joe, the "Profit = Gouging" meme has taken permanent root. (Of course, I guess it's always been there: For example, look how many religions have called charging interest a sin...)

It does say "Live Free Or Die" right on the license plates...

Apparently some in the New Hampshire state legislature have decided to get their wookie on by introducing a bill that "makes the touching or viewing with a technological device of a person’s breasts or genitals by a government security agent without probable cause a sexual assault," and which would therefore land Agent Badtouch on the state's sexual offender registry.

You gotta love that kind of chutzpah.


Overslept. Sorry 'bout that.

Be right back. Chat amongst yourselves...

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Are you sure you want to go there?

Newt Gingrich says President Obama is trampling the Constitution by refusing to fight for the Defense of Marriage Act in court.
Newt Gingrich criticizing Barack Obama's position on the Sanctity of Marriage is like Nick Nolte giving PR advice to Donny Osmond .

(H/T to RobertaX.)

You both get muddy and the pig's still retarded.

A lot of people enjoy going out and doing verbal battle on the intertubes with people who hold diametrically-opposing views. For example, if it weren't for all the gun rights activists showing up to argue in the comments section, your average gun control blog would only be read by the author and his mom; it's almost like they're written solely out of masochism.

In these arguments, reams of statistics and the outcomes of all manner of surveys get lobbed back and forth, which is one of the reasons I never participate, and rarely even go read. See, I don't really care about the statistics or the efficacy (or lack thereof) of gun control laws. My right to own a gun (or anything else, for that matter) is not contingent on what other people do with that right. It wouldn't matter if everybody else on the planet misused their firearms every day, that doesn't have a thing to do with me or mine; group punishment doesn't belong outside of prison, basic training, or Mrs. Krabapple's third grade classroom.

Rights belong to individuals, not groups: Just because all the other kids jump off the bridge, it doesn't mean you can push me off, too.

As good a point as this is, I believe I'll pass.

LabRat raises a sensible question regarding various reactions to the shop selling human milk ice cream in The Place Where Great Britain Used To Be:
I’ve got limited comment- for one, human milk is higher in fat and MUCH higher in milk sugar than cow milk, so this is likely to be a very rich, sweet ice cream, and for two, I don’t get why it’s not disgusting to give a baby but apparently is terrible to give anyone else.
Which is a good point, but I'm perfectly comfortable with my irrational prejudices: It's okay for grownups to drink stuff from a cow's boobs but not a human's, we can eat piggies but not horsies, and we stand up for the Allelulia chorus of Handel's Messiah because That's Just How It Is Done.

The Audacity of Dope.

Charlie Sheen Fact: Where you and I are 70% water, Charlie is 70% Tanqueray. The rest is cocaine.
Apparently Charlie Sheen's publicist committed seppuku yesterday. Then Charlie called NBC's Today show back and said "Wait, bring the camera back! The train's still wrecking!"
Charlie Sheen Fact: To make a "Charlie Sheen", add 1 tsp Vermouth to 1 kiddie pool of vodka.
When asked about his publicist's departure, Sheen replied with affronted puzzlement. Raising his voice to be heard over the career flameout klaxons, he suggested that perhaps " got so gnarly that Stan just went, ‘I'm out.’ That's fine. That's how I roll. And if it's too gnarly for people, then buh-bye. There's the freakin' door, you know?

Charlie, that wasn't a "freakin' door" he used, it was an ejection seat.