Sunday, May 31, 2009

Remember when "spinning" involved yarn?

Okay, so I'm sure you've heard all about the "wise Latina woman" comment from last week? The one that instantly became such a big topic-of-the-week that North Korea set off another A-bomb and nobody even noticed? The offhand comment from WAY the HELL back when, which some RNC staffer must have been sitting on just forever, waiting to roll it in like a small stinky but very powerful grenade? The one that goes:
"I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."
Yeah, that one. Well, it isn't going away.

So Obama, possibly with visions of his very own early-term Nannygate dancing in his head, swung into action Friday to save the day:
"I'm sure she would have restated it," Obama flatly told NBC News, without indicating how he knew that.
Ew! A bit of AP snark there? Could there be trouble in paradise?
"If you look in the entire sweep of the essay that she wrote, what's clear is that she was simply saying that her life experiences will give her information about the struggles and hardships that people are going through, that will make her a good judge," Obama said in the broadcast interview. [...]
Obama told NBC that part of the job of a Supreme Court justice is to stand in somebody else's shoes and that Sotomayor will do that. "That breadth of experience, that knowledge of how the world works, is part of what we want for a justice who's going be effective," Obama said.
Uh...yeah. One problem there, Mr. Obananator, sir. To paraphrase David Codrea - oh hell, I'll quote him.
[S]he didn't say "good." She didn't say "effective." She said "better."

Attempt at an illustration for some stories...

...which just really didn't work out, did it? The stories are about a cedar rat named Shadow. I took it a couple of days ago when we had some sun, and just now sorted it out of the camera.

I don't know why I do these embarrassing things...

Now THIS is the sort of thing I get wadded up over...

Been seeing a lot of rat (once even a squirrel) incursions in the pantry for some time. Mostly they attacked dog food, which isn't that big a disaster; the jays eat as much dog food as the boys do, and not much can be done about it. But nobody eats my food except me and my friends (and Magnus, of course.)

So I used my only plastic tub to protect my beans and rice, and moved the flour to a high shelf where I hoped it would be safe till I could get more tubs. I got more earlier in the week, but wasn't quick enough to save a sack of flour. When I checked it this morning and saw white dust on a black plastic bag protecting a sack of salt from wet, I knew I had trouble.

Sure enough; right in the middle of the @#$%$! sack. Gorram it!

My working flour supply is always stored in a pail, but I didn't take enough care to protect the stored sacks. Now I've got enough plastic tubs, which the rodents don't seem to bother.

The pantry didn't used to have these problems, but traffic patterns change. My lair is 'way off to one corner of the property, and the pantry gets lots of quiet time that the beasties just love. Soon, I hope all this will be moved to the barn, which has lots more traffic. The rickety building we use for the pantry will be reprocessed into its parts, and

Who gives a shitdarn what they think?

Over the past few days of web-crawling I keep getting directed to a Forbes article from some guy named Bruce Bartlett, whom I've barely heard of, but who has apparently outraged Libertarians from sea to shining sea. This sunny, cool Sunday morning I was having coffee and Lew Rockwell and came upon this:
Bartlett's remarks were truly maddening and contorted. He separates libertarians into the unsophisticated rednecks and rubes who are only interested in not paying taxes, and in survivalism and gun culture; and effete, unprincipled, cosmopolitan metro-libertarians who don't mind paying taxes and who are not very career-oriented.

What a bizarre dichotomy. First, despite some unsavory characteristics of some metro-beltway libertarians, even most of them are in fact against taxes, and many of them are actual gun owners. And it is natural for think-tank and beltway types to be less "career-oriented" than typical professional working people. As for the anti-income-taxers, as noted, many of them are in fact metro-libertarians, but even outside the beltway, many of us are in fact sophisticated, educated, and professionals, and we are very principled and interested not only in tax abolition but in abolition of a depressingly wide array of state policies that violate rights.
Yes, you're ugly and your mother wears army boots. Seriously, while I haven't kept a journal or anything, I must have seen this guy Bartlett's article come up half a dozen times in the past three or four days and I don't even follow the sort of discussions that would normally notice its existence. Which means that the actual "Big-L" types must be immolating themselves in protest on Bartlett's front lawn.

But people. Read the first paragraph of this blasphemous article:
I recently attended a dinner with a group of prominent liberal and libertarian bloggers to see if there is a community of interest that might lead to closer cooperation on some issues.
Prominent bloggers.

Hm. Just how many "prominent bloggers" are there in this plane of reality, and how much influence do they actually wield? IOW, who really gives a shitdarn (sorry; it's Sunday) what "prominent bloggers," or Bruce Bartlett for that matter, say or think about anything? I know I live in a bubble and all, but is this really a serious concern?

People get wadded up over the darndest things. How're your preps coming?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Click's New Worshipper

This has been going on for some time now, but always when I was nowhere near the camera. I mentioned that Click was the only one of the animals that seemed afraid of Little Bear when he first arrived, even though LB wasn't doing anything to harass her. Well, both things have changed. LB is harassing Click, after a fashion, and Click is ... loving it.

Betcha didn't have enough to be afraid of this morning, so...

...let me fix that for you.

Maine Takes Aim at Dangers of 'Green' Lightbulbs
It can seem a green contradiction: Compact fluorescent lights – those spiral energy-efficient bulbs used to fight global warming – contain mercury, a toxic metal. If the bulb breaks, mercury vapor can harm infants, pregnant women and young children. If tossed in landfills or incinerators, discarded bulbs can pollute the environment.

Now, as sales balloon, Maine legislators have voted overwhelmingly for first-in-the-nation legislation requiring manufacturers to reduce the mercury in all fluorescent lights, and pay for recycling each bulb safely. That cost is estimated to be 50 cents to $1 per bulb.

Maine Governor John Baldacci, a supporter, is expected to sign the bill, which was passed over the last week. Similar bills regulating compact fluorescent lights -- or CFLs, as they are called -- are pending in Massachusetts and Vermont.

Scared yet? Whoooo! Compact Fluorescent bulbs contain mercury! Whoooo! There - is that scarier?

Note, though, the article mentions once that the bill applies not only to CFLs, but to all fluorescent lights. Because all fluorescent lights contain mercury. Always have. Yes, the ones that have been around since before you were born; the ones in your garage, that you have to smash because otherwise you can't close the lid on your garbage can. Let's try it again: Whoooo! All fluorescent bulbs contain mercury! Whoooo!

Scary, huh? don't seem scared. Well, that makes you smarter than some of the commenters below the article, because they shit bricks:
I'm so angry about this. My wife was 33 weeks pregnant when our cat knocked over a lamp and broke one of these bulbs. She did not know the dangers and cleaned it up. Only after picking up the pieces did she see the small sticker that reads, "contains mercury." How can this be acceptable? How can these bulbs be sold and how can there not be an extremely obvious warning label that describes the potential harm particularly to a fetus or small child on the packaging. Our daughter will be born in the next week, and we can only hope that this has not caused significant harm. I feel like we've regressed decades as it relates to health and safety with this product. Clearly this product should not be in households with pregnant women and young children, perhaps not at all.
This shit just makes me sad.

Of course if you're planning that off-the-grid gulch in your future, I guarantee your pantry will contain a supply of CFLs and you probably won't own a single 'old-fashioned' incandescent lamp. Those things suck juice like Little Bear sayin' hi to Momma. And yes, CFLs do have mercury in them, and yes, you should keep mercury out of your system as much as you can because it can hurt you.

You shouldn't shoot yourself in the foot with your handgun, either. Because bullets can hurt you. You shouldn't burn old (pre-1997) alkaline batteries - mercury. NiCad batteries - cadmium. Lead-Acid auto batteries - lead, and - um - liquid sulfuric acid, which I guarantee ain't good for you. Don't stand under Acme anvils. Stay out of the way of moving vehicles. Don't eat out of bulging cans. Wear a hat in the hot sun. If you go to lunch during a job interview, skip the soup. Am I really telling you anything you don't already know? Use common sense.

Exposure to a milligram or two of mercury vapor has been proven to cause ... well, exactly no health concerns whatsoever. You are far more likely to be damaged by the glass shards from a broken fluorescent bulb than by all the mercury in all the lamps in Wal-Mart.

When I was a kid, "fear-mongering" wasn't even a word. Now it's a way of life.

Friday, May 29, 2009

That song you woke up with...

I need to start a category for this. I wake up humming a totally irrelevant song, often one I haven't even thought of for years, and I don't...know...why! I must have a very colorful dream life; wish it would let me share.

Anyway, I always enjoyed this guy Deutschendorf's voice and some of his music, but the videos still get on my nerves. All that oily faux-sincerity, all that moony posturing... I don't know. I don't think I was a cynic in the seventies. I could listen to the albums, but never could take his TV performances.

Tourists - Feh!

So yesterday afternoon the boys and I heard engines - lots of engines. Something approached over the neighboring ridge, and it sounded like it was bringing friends. We ran up the driveway to see what was what. Ghost, always open to an opportunity to show off his legs, ran down and hunkered in the meadow, praying to his Speedy Perro fetish that it would be something chaseable. Oh, pleasepleaseplease...

Then not one, not two, but five of those damned 4-wheel ATVs appeared at the end of the ridge, crossed the wash, and headed up the road toward S&L's property. Now, S&L's driveway is not quite at the end of the road, but it's as far down the road as anybody ever actually goes; you can continue straight for another 20 yards or so and then face the impossible, heavily-rutted upgrade, or you can angle slightly right and up their driveway. The traffic pattern indicates that virtually everyone does that last thing, so virtually every tourist does - bypassing the easily-visible 'no trespassing' sign, around a couple of S-turns to the top of the ridge where a chain blocks further legitimate passage. I've never been entirely sure why S&L put their chain halfway up the driveway where it's not visible from the road, but every time I see an unfamiliar vehicle go that way I know what's coming next.

So the boys and I - sans Ghost, who had gleefully chased the five ATVs and knew they'd be back to chase again! Yay! - crouched on our own ridge and watched S&L's driveway. The ATVs actually stopped at the mouth of the driveway and read the no trespassing sign before proceeding to trespass - which I thought was nice of them, to at least acknowledge the sign's existence. Then like all tourists do they rode up the driveway till they got to the chain, and then turned around and came back. Why, I have often wondered, does a symbolic chain stop tourists, when the equally-symbolic sign never, ever does?

Now, whenever something like this happens the boys and I make ourselves clearly visible and as uninviting as possible: Them armed with lots of teeth and seismic, low-pitch barking and roaring; me armed with a nasty-looking rifle. So these tourists did what tourists always do after exploring the wonders of S&L's driveway: They rode back the way they came - ignoring the perfectly good BLM road up to the plateau that would have given them some actual adventure - and we went back to what we were doing. And that would have been the end of the matter - I'd forgotten all about it by bedtime - but along about 11:30 the boys woke me with a cacophony of barking that seemed to indicate more than a howl-off with the local coyotes. Even Magnus was out in the yard raising hell, and Magnus never bestirs himself after dark. Never. Also, I heard Magnus and Fritz, but...not...Ghost. Which meant Ghost had gone into combat mode. Something was actually present and nearby.

I went out and peered into the dark - we're only up to a half-moon, and it had already set - and couldn't see any lights that would indicate people up to no good. Animals don't usually concern me: As long as they stay off our ridge, it's their desert too. But I did remember all those ATVs, and I wondered if a few of those fellows had decided to check out S&L's property after dark. Grumbling, I got dressed, loaded the boys into the Jeep, and drove up to the chain. No sign that anything wheeled had bypassed the anchor posts, and nobody was likely to walk this far into the boonies. But we were already here, so we walked the remaining 200 yards or so, circled the house, and saw nothing out of order. I went home and back to bed, the boys settled down, and sure enough this morning I saw lots of cattle sign crossing the road from the meadow.

Cattle. I hate cattle almost as much as tourists.

Stupid cattle.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Here's a cheery fellow...

"The Worst Is Yet to Come": If You're Not Petrified, You're Not Paying Attention

Okay, this makes exactly no sense.

Remember that kerfuffle last year when HS Precision published a product endorsement by Lon (I Aim For The Stars, But Sometimes I Hit Nursing Mothers) Horiuchi, and then wondered why all their faithful customers surrounded their building with torches and pitchforks? Sure you do.

Here's another item for the "Never, Never Do This" file":
President Obama’s nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor shows that empathy has won out over excellence in the White House. Sotomayor has sterling credentials: Princeton, Yale Law School, former prosecutor, and federal trial and appellate judge. But credentials do not an excellent justice make. Justice Souter, whom Sotomayor would replace, had an equally fine c.v., but turned out to be a weak force on the high court.

Obama had some truly outstanding legal intellectuals and judges to choose from—Cass Sunstein, Elena Kagan, and Diane Wood come immediately to mind. The White House chose a judge distinguished from the other members of that list only by her race. Obama may say he wants to put someone on the Court with a rags-to-riches background, but locking in the political support of Hispanics must sit higher in his priorities.

Sotomayor’s record on the bench, at first glance, appears undistinguished. She will not bring to the table the firepower that many liberal academics are asking for. There are no opinions that suggest she would change the direction of constitutional law as have Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court, or Robert Bork and Richard Posner on the appeals courts. Liberals have missed their chance to put on the Court an intellectual leader who will bring about a progressive revolution in the law.

Personal to the American Enterprise Institute, because I know you just hang on my every word:

When you think John Yoo, what image comes first to mind? Thoughtful constitutional scholarship and commentary? Or a certain memo? See, after he pissed all over the Constitution in such an unambiguous and very public way, his opinion and attitude toward the document is, well, sort of established. Y'know? So...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Our Moment of Suicidal Depression...

Little Bear says hi!

Misadventures in Gardening

Okay, so the gulch has this garden plot, right? And the only thing it grows is a rosemary bush that clearly loves it there, and an occasional twig of asparagus. So I figure - Hey! I'm supposed to be this functioning survivalist, this genuine grizzled desert paranoid reclusehermit, and I should be raising something toward my own sustenance besides rosemary - which is very good in bread, but otherwise not all that terribly nutritious.

A neighbor gave me three tomato plants, and while I don't actually care for tomatoes there's still this perfectly good garden plot just sitting there. So I plant them, and they...don't die. That's a plus, I think, until I visit the neighbor's house again yesterday and theirs are going nuts and mine have basically...not died. Then I get these little plastic greenhouse thingies from Home Despot and plant a whole bunch of herb seeds, and everything's going great until I actually plant them, at which point they not only die immediately but actually vanish completely into the earth.

Ah, but we genuine grizzled desert hermits are not so easily thwarted, no we're not. So yesterday I caught a ride to the feed store in town to get some wormer meds for the boys, and the feed store finally had a few herb sets. So now I've planted sage and oregano and chives.
And started a timer for the death watch.

Rachel Maddow on "Prolonged Detention"

Well, I'm glad some talking head gets it...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

This'll be fun to watch...

Governator plans to completely eliminate welfare for families

You know, if this is the kind of threat you think you have to make, you might consider the quality of the people you're threatening...

Learning to Photograph Again

Photographing moving objects is a lot like shooting them with a rifle; which I guess is why they call it 'shooting'. When you've got your range and your lead, you squeeze the trigger (or shutter) and you want the gun (or camera) to fire NOW. Not two seconds from now; two seconds is a world away. Now.

I used to be heavily into high-power rockets. When I wasn't building, prepping and flying my own rockets, I took photos of other people's rockets for the club newsletter. I got pretty good at it.

I wasn't a professional-quality photographer by any stretch, but I had a decent 35mm camera body, a set of adequate lenses, and the other wherewithal, plus I knew enough about the rockets themselves to know how to frame the shot and when to snap the shutter. It was important to know that at the moment of full motor ignition, the rocket was going to go from stationary to really fast, really quick.

A basic film camera is a mechanical device, like a rifle. When you push the button, the camera doesn't take time to make up its mind. It just snaps the shutter. This is an advantage.

Which is why I'm having to learn how to take pictures all over again. A typical digital camera has the advantage of storing electronic images you can load directly into your computer; it has the disadvantage of being an almost entirely electronic device, which doesn't always behave the way you want/need it to. If you press the shutter button halfway, it automatically sets up the focus and exposure, which is great. But then when you press the button the rest of the way, it takes its dear time doing ... whatever the hell it's doing. Since I'm trying to take photos of a wiggly puppy, this can be infuriating. By the time the image is captured, the image you wanted is long gone.

I say this because I just got back from a photo walky that had me fuming and swearing. I need to take the time to learn how to use this new camera, and I need to get it right before I get so frustrated I just shoot myself in the head. With a rifle, not a camera.

Monday, May 25, 2009

An excellent weekend!

Well, the landlady's on her way home, and I hope she doesn't hit too much holiday traffic on the way. We had a great, very productive weekend making the barn less of a clutter collection and more of a ... er ... barn. That was great. Hung a bunch of cabinets, threw away a bunch of crap, sorted a bunch of tools and parts. Books are starting to gravitate toward shelves and out of boxes. Pretty cool.

The boys are taking a more proactive approach to living with Little Bear. He's generally a well-mannered puppy, but still a puppy and as such his favorite means of demonstrating affection is to, you know, bite you. Being dogs themselves, they find this behavior acceptable within reason, but he can exceed reasonable limits. Magnus, for example, is very large and not neutered. He is possessed of impressive - and to a puppy, apparently tempting - swingy bits. Saturday evening, while Magnus was distracted trying to get his full portion of attention from Mom, Little Bear closed in from the rear, and...

And Magnus demonstrated that while he may be an old dog, saggier and slower than he used to be, he is still a very impressive predator, rightful ruler of the pack, and not lightly to be bitten in the balls. He emitted a window-rattling roar, turned instantly on his own axis, and suddenly all there was to see of Little Bear was his spatula-size paws waving frantically in the air as he squealed and yipped for mercy. Magnus had him on his back, jaws at his throat, explaining in easily understandable terms exactly why this was not acceptable behavior. Earlier my landlady had asked me why I didn't discipline Little Bear when he made the other boys mad. I said I have my rules, and they have theirs. I'll stop him from chewing on the furniture or tugging on the blankets, but if they want him to stop biting them on the ass, they're big boys and perfectly capable of imparting that information. Seems to me that's what being part of a pack is all about, and I wouldn't really believe that they've accepted him into the pack until I see them start doing it. When Magnus had laid Little Bear down and administered his rough discipline, and it was clear he had no intention of actually harming him in the process, my landlady laughed and said, "Well, you were an infant but now you're a toddler. Suck it up."

In meteorological news, it appears that the Monsoon has come early this year. It started raining last Monday and hasn't missed a day since. A little spring rain isn't unusual, but normally it doesn't do this until late summer. This is only my third full year in this part of the desert, and of course there are variations I haven't seen yet. But everybody agrees this has been a weird year, weather-wise. First winter went on like it never planned to stop. Then it gave all that boring spring stuff a miss and went right into summer for a couple of weeks. Suddenly it's cool and wet. This morning, for the first time in a week, day broke cloud-free and gorgeous. Now it's nearly noon and very threatening clouds have rolled in; it's clearly planning to rain all afternoon. Saturday, right after my landlady arrived, we got a helluva downpour. The canyons finished filling and spilled into the wash. I've never seen the wash run in May, but like I say this is only my third year. Now I hear preliminary drops on the scriptorium's roof and a few bursts of wind, and it's time to decide whether I want to spend the rest of the day here or in the lair. No more workies today.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Rain! Rain!

All that planning. All that scheming, all those lists! Did I remember to build an ark? I did not.

And now I'm up to my keister in mud. If it keeps up like this the washes are going to be running by nightfall. Normally I wouldn't care, but my landlady's coming for the long weekend. Mud we can deal with; I'd just go get her in town with the Jeep. But if the washes run ... well, that would be bad.

Oh ye powers! Ixnay on the ainray!

Yesterday's Obama speech was simply breathtaking.

The sheer chutzpa of standing in front of a crowd, claiming you will now right all historical wrongs by closing Guantanamo and locking the prisoners in supermax prisons without trial instead, expecting (and receiving!) applause for having 're-established American principles'...

It's breathtaking.

H/T to Silver @ TMM

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

White flowers?

C.M. wrote yesterday:
If I may be so bold what kind of flowers/weeds are those tufts of white flowers?

I think you mean these:

And I'm not sure they qualify as flowers at all, plus I have no idea what they are. So - er - Well, I don't know.

These are kinda cool, though. The little cacti, the only ones we have around here, usually only produce one or two blossoms each but some of them are going crazy this spring. Maybe it's the sudden weather change - we had a couple extra months of winter, then just went straight to summer. Not really knowing, I'm gonna go ahead and guess that that's the reason for the red-flower explosion.

And the guys say hi!

Rain, rain...

It has threatened rain for the past couple of afternoons, but nothing beyond drizzle ever really came of it. Today was another gray one, and I assumed the 'threaten a downpour, deliver a sprinkle' trend would continue so I went ahead and watered the trees this morning. This damned near emptied the cistern, so I fired up the generator and plugged in the well pump.

Approximately 36.4 nanoseconds after I completed that task, the heavens opened. I am now sitting in the scriptorium, listening to the generator suck up my precious gasoline, just barely audible over the rain pounding on the barn's roof.

I've said it before; anybody who tries to predict the weather here is a damned fool. I'm no exception.

Now that I no longer have to live there...

The Golden State of California offers me an ever-full cornucopia of entertainment.

With other things going on here, I'd actually forgotten that Kali had scheduled yet another special election yesterday; something I'd have enjoyed watching. Kali's proposition system excites and endears observers (who don't have to live through it) on several levels: The individual propositions are often deceptively phrased so that "no" can mean "yes" and vice versa; funding measures provide opportunities for insanely misleading advertisement campaigns (1% of a funding measure can go to something like the prevention of warm puppy and rainbow extinction while 99% goes to further enhance the illiteracy of schoolchildren and pave over the Sequoias ; the advertisements will sing the praises of the 1% and pretend the 99% doesn't exist.) As long as you don't actually have to live there, all the sausage-making can be quite diverting.

None of it ever does a damned bit of good, and lately the chaos and disruption have reached monumental proportions even by California standards. There may be a few people in Tibet who aren't aware (in nauseating detail) of the financial hole Californians have dug for themselves through their government. Schwarzenegger's 2005 special election propositions for bringing the budget into some misleading semblance of control was resoundingly trashed by government "workers" unions, and since then the Governator has behaved like a broken toy. He was elected in a historic recall election to undo the financial damage blamed on Gray Davis, but he seems to have outdone him instead. The only solution (of course) Sacramento could come up with to fill in the deficit was a new round of even more outrageous taxation. Virtually all those propositions went down to defeat yesterday, no doubt leaving federal bailouts as the state government's only hope of even temporarily continuing solvency. The recriminations, of course, are already under way.

To paraphrase a certain fictional Rabbi: "May God bless and keep the California government - far away from us."

UPDATE: This is amazing. I hope to hell George Orwell patented the Memory Hole, because if he did his estate stands to make a fricking fortune. The second link above originally went to a Sacramento Bee article addressed to California voters, taking them to task (in extremely snarky terms) for their foolish votes on the propositions.

That article has apparently been pulled, or at least the link now goes to a different article entirely, addressed to California legislators, taking them to task (in somewhat snarky terms) for their foolish spending habits. That's just weird.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

TUAK is back in living color...

...thanks to a donor who shall remain nameless unless I get word different.

A friend came up from the city where my mail drop is, and brought this very welcome care package. Once ol' tech geek Joel figured out how to put the battery in right-side-up, we were flying in color again! Thanks, anonymous benefactor!

Seen in a local restaurant...

A friend and I came into town this morning. He wanted to get a tire fixed on his truck, and the fellow at the shop said it would be a little while so we walked down the street to get some restaurant breakfast.

I was halfway in the door when he called me back out, pointed at the window, and said, "Read this sign."

So I did. You might enjoy it, too...

Monday, May 18, 2009

Set tinfoil hats to Stun for this one...

From the ever-reliable Fox News [:-D], this heartwarming bit of technology to ruin your day:

It could be the ultimate in political control — but it won't be patented in Germany.

German media outlets reported last week that a Saudi inventor's application to patent a "killer chip," as the Swiss tabloids put it, had been denied.

The basic model would consist of a tiny GPS transceiver placed in a capsule and inserted under a person's skin, so that authorities could track him easily.

Model B would have an extra function — a dose of cyanide to remotely kill the wearer without muss or fuss if authorities deemed he'd become a public threat.

The inventor said the chip could be used to track terrorists, criminals, fugitives, illegal immigrants, political dissidents, domestic servants and foreigners overstaying their visas.

"The invention will probably be found to violate paragraph two of the German Patent Law — which does not allow inventions that transgress public order or good morals," German Patent and Trademark Office spokeswoman Stephanie Kr├╝ger told the English-language German-news Web site The Local.

Aphorism Overheard... TMM this morning...

"While dying for a righteous cause is noble, not dying is also noble - and you don't die."

"I Am Change"

Yeah? Well, I'm not, Lady.

So let's just ignore one another until we go away.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Break out the rifles, Myrtle, there's tax cheats about!

From the ever-perplexing AlterNet, this terrifying piece of shit:

A Lot of Our Money Is Buried in the Cayman Islands -- Let's Get It Back

The Cayman Islands are well known to those seeking sun, sand and sea--and for their hospitality to US corporations seeking to escape taxes, launder money and use other discreet financial services. The islands' tax dodgers help multinational corporations move jobs offshore; they also give aid and comfort to terrorists, drug dealers and divorcing spouses trying to hide money. Honest taxpayers have to make up for the revenues lost through this offshore cheating in three ways: we pay more in taxes, we get fewer government services and we incur rising government debt. Interest on that debt, which doubled under the Bush administration, now equals all the individual income taxes paid from New Year's to around June 10. And that cost means less government investment in research, education and the infrastructure on which commerce depends. Untaxed money hiding in the Caymans and other tax havens means the rest of us pay a higher price for less civilization.

In short, the Caymans, and other tax havens, are parasites that weaken the United States and other developed nations.

President Obama proposed on May 4 to crack down on offshore tax cheating; that proposal does not go nearly far enough. Instead of settling for a dime on the dollar, as Obama's plan would do, let's get serious about offshore tax cheating, both legalized and criminal. Let's do what we did to halt the imagined threats of communists in Grenada, depose a drug-dealing president in Panama and find those imaginary weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Let's invade the Caymans!

The islands, which belong to Britain, have no military and just 300 or so police. An invasion force composed of tax lawyers, forensic auditors and a handful of computer technicians could execute a hostile takeover without firing a shot.
It's "our" money, see - these "tax cheats" are burying it on some island paradise in ... well, wherever the hell the Caymans are. They've no right to do that, it's our money! So let's just send in the Marines, liberate those ones and zeros from those evil tax-cheating computers, and be done with it.

Let's by all means invade the Caymans.

Honest, at first I thought this guy was being ironic. The more I read, the more seriously psychotic the article became. And the comments. Oh god, the comments. I keep hoping I've fallen into some Bizarro world, that my own plane of reality isn't filled with such people. But ... well, probably not so much.

To review:
let's get serious about offshore tax cheating, both legalized and criminal. Let's do what we did to halt the imagined threats of communists in Grenada, depose a drug-dealing president in Panama and find those imaginary weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
It doesn't matter, then, if the "tax cheating" is even legal - send the Marines. It doesn't matter if every other time .gov has done that - 'imagined threats of communists', 'drug-dealing [and American-financed] presidents', 'imaginary weapons of mass destruction' - the causes have proven to be and are admitted by this invasion-happy moron to be fraudulent. That doesn't matter. This time it's the right thing to do. It's our money; the people who earned it are just holding it for us, and in this case attempting to hold it from us. Send the Marines.

I'm gonna go hang myself now. This is just too depressing.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Our Lady of Snarky Goodness

I really should put together a blogroll of some sort. Keep meaning to, but it's time-consuming and I'm lazy and you probably already have your favorites anyway. But here's a recommendation for those who might not already be aware.

Tamara K., a lady from Indianapolis, runs a blog called View From The Porch. She mostly writes about guns, which may or may not be a primary interest of yours, but she is a finely-honed mistress of the snarky quip and has become an almost-never-miss daily read of mine.

Examples from yesterday:
Did you hear? Ruger's gone carbon-neutral. Yup, they've wrapped ol' Bill “No Honest Man Needs A Handgun Smaller Than A Canned Ham” Ruger Sr.'s corpse in copper wire and lined the coffin with magnets, and now the whole plant is off the grid. They've broken with Bill's mandates by offering us Simple Civilians a whole slew of new guns.
The downside is that all of that name-brand bling costs money and most AR buyers simply DX half the factory parts on the gun in favor of the contents of pages 63 through 101, inclusive, of the Brownell's catalog. An AR with a street price north of one-and-a-half long is nice, but only when you've picked out the toppings yourself.

Check her out when you get a chance! Her gun interests go deeper and more detailed than mine, for example I couldn't really care less what-all Ruger's product line is up to today, so I won't claim to hang on ever word that passes her fingertips. But she is a very entertaining writer and I enjoy her blog a helluva lot. You might, too.

"Ghost, kick his ass!"

???Did I really say that???

Hell, I practically shouted it. Poor guys - Little Bear really is a good pup, he means no harm. But in the morning he's all rested and ready, and looking for some fun. He wants somebody to play with him! but there's nobody around but these aging, dour dogs who've lived a quiet life too long to welcome all this tomfoolery. But they're also too ingrained against just knocking a puppy down and sitting on him for their own goods. So we have the spectacle of poor Ghost driven to distraction, a bouncing puppy in his face no matter where he turns, desperately wanting a quiet scratch from Uncle Joel or some time to himself and clearly not going to get it, too restrained to do more than curl his lip and turn away. The others are a bit less inhibited in demonstrating their displeasure, but still won't take the little guy in hand. This isn't a matter for high justice; he isn't breaking any of my rules. Maintaining order within the pack is the dogs' responsibility: particularly Magnus'. I wait for the dogs to impose some order on him, and I wait in vain.

I'm not sure what the problem is. They really don't dislike Little Bear; he did his trick with the paw in the porch again yesterday evening, and they were all there and all concerned until the matter was resolved. Under other circumstances they show him little affection, and given his proclivity for tail-chewing I can hardly blame them. But there is a middle ground between grump'n'bear it and mounting his head on a pole. I do rather wish they'd seek it.

Friday, May 15, 2009

White House Czar Calls for End to 'War on Drugs'

You cannot, no matter how you try, make this shit up. Remember when The Onion was funny? Now it can't stay snarky enough to keep up with realitywhat passes for reality.

Here we go
WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration's new drug czar says he wants to banish the idea that the U.S. is fighting "a war on drugs," a move that would underscore a shift favoring treatment over incarceration in trying to reduce illicit drug use.

In his first interview since being confirmed to head the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, Gil Kerlikowske said Wednesday the bellicose analogy was a barrier to dealing with the nation's drug issues.

"Regardless of how you try to explain to people it's a 'war on drugs' or a 'war on a product,' people see a war as a war on them," he said. "We're not at war with people in this country."
Yeah. I believe that. Please allow Joelnac The Magnificent to examine the stars and predict your future life under this kinder, gentler rhetorical regime:


"Down! Down! Down on the f*cking floor, you motherf*ckers! We're here to treat your unfortunate drug pathology! Lemme see them diseased f*cking hands!"

BANG!BANG!BANG!YIPE!! "And it looks like your dog needed treatment, too!"

:-D Nancy Pelosi, May you live a thousand years!

This sort of comic relief is almost worth what you cost us.


Not, you know ... quite.

What did she know? When did she know it? Was she briefed? Was she informed that a briefing existed somewhere (but of course not around her)? Will she lose her place in her notes again? And of course, how how HOW can she make this all John Yoo's fault, since at this point she's reduced to winging it and stammering while wishing painful, lingering death on the staffer who couldn't invest in one fucking staple?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Ode to Little Bear

Yes, I'm in love. I used to write poems to women, but my woman days are behind me. So I guess I'll write poems to puppies.

I exaggerate just a tad, but he is growing at a frightening pace. I do believe he's at least doubled his weight in two weeks. And while by no means the puppy from hell, when he's in a frisky mood he bears watching. Closely.

Anyway ... *AHEM*

Little Bear, Little Bear, put that pillow down
I knew where all my shit was before you came around
I love my little furball, but swear to god it’s true
I’ll never have a damned nice thing, and all because of you

When you came to my home you were this tiny little thing
You smiled up at my face, and I said let the games begin
How could I know that underneath that little puppy snout
A giant megasaurus was just waiting to come out
I knew I was in trouble when you ate three sacks of food
But that was just the first day; you weren’t in an eating mood
And by the second week, when I had widened all the doors
I found I had to patch the cracks appearing in the floors

Little Bear, Little Bear, put that table down
I knew where all my shit was before you came around
I love my little furball, but swear to god it’s true
I’ll never have a damned nice thing, and all because of you

I love all of your little quirks, your little yaps and growls
I did overreact the day you chewed up all my towels
And when you dug that hole I laughed; you acted such a fool
I think the lava’s rather nice! I can’t wait till it cools
And how the big dogs cower when you hold them in your jaws
I do believe the way you’ve grown has broken nature’s laws
The coyotes have all left now though I asked them please to stay
They told me they were safer with the gangs down in LA

Little Bear, Little Bear, put that big truck down
I knew where all my transport was before you came around
I love my little furball, but swear to god it’s true
I’ll never have a damned nice thing, and all because of you

The neighbors all have moved away, they said they had to run
They couldn’t take the way you blocked their view of sky and sun
The way the earthquake shaking knocks their pots off of their shelves
If they move to Mozambique they think they just might save themselves
A preacher came to witness, but then ran with shouts and screams
‘Bout how you were a beast he had been seeing in his dreams
He read about you in his book, he warned me from his run
I couldn’t hear the chapter; what’s the name of that last one?

Little Bear, Little Bear, put that mountain down
I knew where all my landmarks were before you came around
I love my little furball, but swear to god it’s true
I’ll never have a damned nice thing, and all because of you

"Medical Tourism" - to CUBA??

Courtesy of C.M., this enlightening tidbit...

Sheesh! I knew Canadians who can afford it sometimes come to America for medical care - that didn't shock me. Americans used to brag about their medical system being the best in the world, and maybe it once was. Certainly it makes perfect sense for Canadians to come next store if they can't get what they need at home. That's the market at work.

But I didn't realize. Canada's system is so bad that Cuba is an improvement? Cuba? Seriously?

Say it's a parody site, C.M. C'mon. Lie to me.

When Nannies Collide...

MADDman Charles Hurley has been dumped from consideration as head of NHTSA.

No, not for any of the right reasons. It turns out environmentalists hate him. I could research the reasons why, but I'm sure it would be too depressing. Whatever: as long as I don't observe the sausage-making process too closely, I can consider it good news. I might want to drive again someday, and it's good to know this particular uber-nanny won't be around to complicate the procedure further.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Once upon a time, boys and girls, there was a book. You should read this book. You should have your kids read this book. You should mention me generously in your will for telling you about this book, or just send me money now.

Well, there was hope of a series (hence Rebelfire 1.0) but sales didn't happen so much and so the series didn't happen at all and so we're poorer than we might have been. But I was reminded of it this morning when I came upon a video made by an on-line acquaintance, to the tune of the song that accompanies the book. It's pretty good, too.

"The Stars are Aligned..."

May 13 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama said “the stars are aligned” for Congress to pass legislation to revamp the U.S. health-care system this year, which he said will help revive the economy and get budget deficits under control.

Oh, my aching pancreas. In this brave new world, one is reduced to hoping that change means a politician will change his tune once he stops being a candidate. Often the worst outcome is he really means his threatspromises.

According to Candidate Obama,
"Under the Obama health care plan, you will be able to keep your doctor and your health insurance if you want."
Uh...yeah. Not so fast, of course. Group health plan costs have been out of control for years, and a helluva lot of employers would love to dump it. They're stopped only by the prospect of being trampled to death as their work force stampedes to the doors, screaming for the classified ads. Give them an alternative, and...
While the public option is meant for the uninsured, employers will realize it's easier -- and cheaper -- to move employees into the government plan than continue workplace coverage.

The Lewin Group, a health-care policy research and consulting firm, estimates that enrollment in the public option will reach 131 million people if it's open to everyone and pays Medicare rates, as many expect. Fully two-thirds of the privately insured will move out of or lose coverage.
This couldn't be part of the plan, of course. Oh, hell no. It couldn't possibly be in the interests of our rulers to force socialized health care down our throats by destroying all alternatives. How could you think such a thing, you right-wing extremist, you? I should report you for thoughtcrime. I should report myself for thoughtcrime, for even wondering whether I should report you for thoughcrime.

Oh, hell - it doesn't matter. Forced on National Health, I'll likely be dead before they can drag me shrieking to Room 101 anyway.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

How Braveheart Should Have Ended...

Okay, I admit it: I'm the only freedomista I know who doesn't enjoy watching Braveheart. Maybe there are lots of us, hiding in closets all over this great land of ours. Maybe not, I don't know. I'm an individual and I say it loud: Yes, I'm aware that nobody actually knows anything about William Wallace and so making shit up to fill screen time is fine. Hell, the writers would have done that if Wallace had left a five-volume autobiography, right? That treacle about his lost love, I can even overlook that. The crazy Irish guy who says things like "you're fucked" - yeah, that's authentic dialogue right there, sure, but kinda funny, and let's face it you need a bit of comic relief when ol' Mel is about to depopulate medieval England with a broadsword in living color.

But come on. Don't trifle with my willing suspension of disbelief. He porks the Princess of Wales and ends up fathering the next king of England? Just because it's been two hours and you killed off the only other female character in the first act? No. I don't think so.


Just no.

This was mildly amusing, though...

At last, a few pix...

As of Saturday morning, at S&L's house and using their camera. He's growing at a frightening rate, like something out of a '50's B-movie. I may have to re-name him Clifford.

Naturally as soon as I tried to snap pictures LB became hyper-wiggly. Also the camera was unfamiliar, the sun was in my eyes, this glove is too big, I tripped on a rock, the umpire's blind, and the Democrats wrecked the economy. So you see, poor picture quality is totally not my fault.

Being too young to have committed crimes against any state but his own well-being, I have not yet blacked out his eyes. Next time for sure, though. We're a bunch of outlaws around here.

Monday, May 11, 2009

You Find Out Who Your Friends Are...

...When you've got your head stuck in the fuel filler tube of a '47 Jeep.

I was going to title this something like "Communication and Community", but then I decided that this ain't no essay we're doing here: This is life.

We had a little excitement last night. At the risk of making this the All-Little Bear-All-The-Time blog, as if Lew Rockwell were running him for president or something, yes. It involved something Little Bear did.

Visually, it was something absolutely hilarious. Toward the end somebody took a picture with one of those camera phones, and if I can get a copy on my 'pooter I'll post it. In every way but visual, there was nothing funny about this.

It was shaping up to be another quiet evening, just the way I like them. With the spring wind I haven't been able to keep my water heater reliable, and with the heat I was getting kinda ripe. So I rigged a field-expedient hot water source by stringing together a whole bunch of garden hose (we've got lots: Thanks, I) that runs back and forth in the sun. Works great! And with the weekenders gone there was no good reason to run it in through the bathroom window: I just took my shower in the yard. I was feeling very mellow and pleased with myself. That was about to change.

Along about seven I retired to the lair to read my book. None of the boys wanted to come in yet, it was just too nice out. But that was okay: The bugs aren't bad yet, so I've got the door bungied open and the doorway covered with a blanket. The boys can come and go as they please.

A few minutes after I reclined on my couch with my book, Little Bear started to scream. I heard Magnus and Fritz go crazy. Fortunately I was still wearing my leg, so I was able to bolt out into the yard without delay.

Off to one side of the yard is a ... well, you might call it a junk pile. We call it "the jeep". One of the stakeholders had bought this '47 parts jeep, took it apart, and used a bunch of it to resurrect a second jeep. The rest of it is pretty much just laying there next to my yard now, including the body tub which is sitting on the ground and very slowly returning to the earth. Normally, except for the occasional rat hunt, this pile of parts is not a source of much excitement. In fact I rarely give it much thought.

Except now there was a roiling pile of dogs at one side of the tub, and one of them was screaming. I hustled over, and saw...

Well, I saw Little Bear's head inside the tub. I saw Little Bear's body outside the tub, surrounded by two huge and very upset older dogs. For some reason (Why, why WHY did you think this was a good idea?) Little Bear had pushed his head through the filler tube on the side of the tub, and he couldn't get it back out. He did what any puppy would do in a case like this: He panicked and was practically killing himself trying to extricate his head.

Oh, shit! I had to beat Magnus and Fritz away from him; they were helplessly milling around, desperate but unable to do anything. I knelt and calmed the puppy, but no matter what I did I wasn't able to get his head out of there. There was a sharp flange around the inside of the tube, pressing against his throat. I don't know how he got his head in there, but getting it back out was impossible without killing him.

I wanted my telephone, but knew it was pointless. I've got one of those pay-as-you-go Tracfones, and like a crazy fool I'd let the time run out. There are two ways to add time to a Tracfone: You can do it on-line if you've got plastic (I don't), or you can go to town and buy time at the dollar store (I didn't). I was stuck! I couldn't save Little Bear without help, but I couldn't go get help without killing him: Left alone, he'd panic again and strangle himself.

The light was going and the moon wouldn't be up for hours. I tried again to get his head out, and failed again. I was wasting time: I had to chance running for help. So I jumped in the Jeep (the one that works) and raced to D&L's property. D came without delay: We raced back to the property. I grimly jumped out and ran back to the tub, half expecting to find the puppy dead. But bless him, he'd stayed calm enough and was still well. Magnus gave me hell when I got back ("We've got an emergency here and you just ran off for a Jeep ride? Are you crazy?") and D and I assessed the situation. We agreed that we were never going to get the little guy out of there without cutting that flange in a couple of places and prying it away from his neck. D reached for the telephone on his belt to call his wife L to bring his Sawzall and a metal blade, and only then seemed to notice that he wasn't wearing any pants. So he jumped in the Jeep and drove to J&H's house.

Now, J had only the other day taken delivery on a lovely set of reconditioned Ridgit cordless tools, of which he was very proud. J&H came in their big pickup, right behind D. We all crowded around the puppy and re-assessed the situation in the light of all this new capacity. The boys found this very exciting, and J wanted me to put them in Gitmo. I had strong doubts of the wisdom of this, but against my own judgment I complied. Magnus disapproved strongly, and Fritz disappeared entirely. When I returned to the tub I could hear Fritz huffing in the junipers but staying out of the way. Magnus raised holy hell from Gitmo for a few minutes but then went silent: I interpreted this (correctly) as meaning that he was concentrating on breaking out. He and Ghost showed up a little later but also stayed out of the way.

The problem was obvious: We could easily cut the flange with the Sawzall, but unfortunately we could also easily cut the puppy with it. We tried lubing him up with water (fail) and then with the last of my margarine (fail). We had to cut that flange away from him. By this time we were working by the light of three flashlights and getting nowhere. Finally we tried a low-tech approach: Just how stout was the metal of that flange? It was fifty years old and wasn't exactly made of unobtainium to begin with. So we clamped a big pair of pliers to it and pried - and to our delight the metal tore and bent out of the way easily. Okay! Just a matter of working carefully around Little Bear's throat.

Soon he was free and in my arms. Magnus had stayed out of the way while we were working, but now pushed humans away and insisted on his own inspection. Somehow Little Bear had escaped all injury, though he was exhausted and very quiet. Handshakes all around: D drove the Jeep back to his place while I sat in the shotgun seat and cradled Little Bear.

The lesson is obvious. Emergencies happen when they happen, and I had utterly failed to keep prepared for this one. It's all very well to wax poetic about "self-reliant" and "off-the-grid" living, and it does have its charms. But it also puts you in a position where you have none of the comfy cushion between life and death that it's so easy to grow used to, living in a city. Alone as I am and responsible for the boys, it was inexcusable of me to let that telephone go dead. If I hadn't had good relations with the neighbors, and if Little Bear hadn't stayed calm while I ran for help, he could have been killed. That would have been on my head. It won't happen again.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Magnus The Maternal

I mentioned that when Little Bear first joined us, Magnus (literally) drooled all over him in welcome. That enthusiasm cooled markedly within 24 hours: Magnus is an old dog and likes his quiet time. He doesn't welcome me disturbing him when he's trying to nap - which is most of the time - and was not prepared to put up with it from some little noob. So there were growls, and sometimes worse. He didn't reject the pup, just didn't want him crawling all over him.

But every now and then Magnus shows me a flash of warmer feeling. We were all clustered around the front of the lair yesterday evening, something that has quickly settled back into a habit since the precipitous arrival of summer. Magnus lay next to the low porch; Little Bear was doing something puppy-like on the porch itself. I was reading a book and paying no attention to either of them. Now, the porch is made of 2X6s, with maybe 2 inches between boards. Little Bear got one of his wide, flat paws between two boards and then turned himself around. I suspect it scared him more than it hurt him - suddenly his paw is in pain and unable to move. It didn't last but a second or two, but that was enough for him to cut loose with some fairly panicked yelps.

Magnus, right next the puppy, was on his feet in a flash. He whirled around, sniffed that little guy all over, and - apparently deciding it was a false alarm - licked his head for comfort and laid back down.

The incident only took a few moments, but it reassured me. Our little pack is disrupted a bit at the moment, and that has bothered me. I love my guys, and hate the thought that an action of mine has caused them all this turmoil. But it'll be all right. It's gonna be all right.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

How the Swine Flu Spreads


I got a kick out of it.

From Rex May, AKA Baloo. I've always liked his political comics.

Ghost the Paripatetic

My weekender neighbors S&L came in last night around 10. Ghost and Fritz have been spending major portions of their nights outdoors and raised hell when they passed, which is how I know. So I wondered if Ghost would be around when I woke in the morning.

Ghost has been funny lately, what with the puppy. He never offered any social commentary on Little Bear's arrival, as all the others did. He seemed to accept that the pup was here to stay no matter what he thought about it, and that was that. But he doesn't like it.

At first I thought it was just dislike of the new and annoying. Little Bear can be annoying, of course: He's a puppy. He loves to play, he doesn't yet understand or accept the conventions, he's compelled to chew. If you're an older dog and his idea of fun at the moment is to chew on your tail, well, you might not find that as heart-warming as your human would prefer. That's life. But Ghost's dissatisfaction seems to go deeper than that. At first, whenever the puppy would come around Ghost would just get up and leave. But then Little Bear started paying special attention to Ghost; I don't know, maybe it's because Ghost is smaller than Magnus or Fritz, but Little Bear seems to have adopted Uncle Ghost as his special friend. Since then, whenever Little Bear gets in a "play with me, Uncle Ghost!" mood, Ghost comes to me. Sometimes he climbs right into my lap, giving me the sad eyes routine. At first I interpreted this as "make it stop, Uncle Joel!", something I have no power or inclination to do. But last evening I had a bit of an epiphany concerning his behavior. Ghost likes to be special; he is as I've said very territorial but not really as part of the pack. He wants his own territory and the pack doesn't offer many opportunities for that. So yesterday evening, harassed by Little Bear, he gave me the whine and the eyes and then he went into the lair while we were all outside and climbed on my bed. When I went in a little later for something, he wanted attention. He wanted a lot of attention. And I decided that what he'd really been saying was "you still love me best, don't you, Uncle Joel?"

Now, Ghost makes the trip to S&L's house nearly every weekend but it's usually around mid-day when he hears the power tools and learns or remembers that they're there. This morning he was gone when I woke up. Since I wake up before daybreak, this worried me. He shouldn't be off the property in the dark, for Here There Be Monsters. I saddled up the Jeep and drove out to make sure he was okay. And sure enough, L told me that Ghost had shown up there around 2 in the morning. That's something he's never done before, and I don't much like it.

Friday, May 8, 2009

I may actually go see this one!

Trekkies Bash New Star Trek Film As 'Fun, Watchable'

My favorite time of the day...

...and winter lasted so long it took me some time to remember that it's not new!

It's post-Snacky Time. Nothing to do but sit and read, but it's too hot to go in the lair so we sit outdoors. The temperature in the shade is not unpleasant, and the lair shelters us from the wind. Ghost has dug himself a hole to curl in over there; Fritz is in his favored position at the foot of the porch. Magnus observes with fanatic, monomaniacal fervor as I consume a pot of soup. Click watches the world from the highest shelf of the cat-tower. Little Bear gives up his manful attempts to get somebody to play with him, and commences chasing his own tail and learning why we don't chew on cactus. All is right with the world, and it'll go on for hours until the dark drives me indoors. Aaaah.

I finish my pot of soup and set it down for Magnus to take his tithe. Little Bear, of course, has not learned (or does not yet respect) The Prime Directive. Earlier we had a game of "No, Stop," as I lightly punished him for chewing on my chair, then rewarded him for refraining from doing so. Now Magnus commences his own version of the lesson. Little Bear stumps over to the pot on his stiff little puppy legs and pushes his head into the pot next to Magnus'. The upper lip of the great jaws curls, exposing fangs of Jurassic magnitude. A low growl heterodynes into an oscillating, "is this the hill you want to die on" snarl, but no real violence is meant. A head as big as and heavier than the puppy swivels, knocking Little Bear away from the pot. Little Bear does not understand, or perhaps understanding does not agree. He stumps back to the pot. Lather, rinse, repeat. At last he stands on the porch, facing away from the pot. Magnus now leaves the pot, gently knocks the puppy off the porch (onto Fritz, who dares not complain) and proceeds to lick his head. Lesson given and reinforced, he turns back to his pot of soup. Fritz, who tolerates the puppy's existence but not his overtures, now seems to notice that Little Bear is lying on him full-length. He growls and shifts, dumping the puppy to the ground. Little Bear stumps off to look for fun elsewhere, then lies down and abruptly falls asleep.

This is my world. We don' need no steeking television.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

"If Kafka were alive today...

...he'd just film documentaries."

The city denied his claim to be reimbursed for the damage to the door. Leonard said he was told that since the warrant listed Leonard's address, the officers hadn't technically stormed the wrong house.

City Councilwoman Belinda Conaway connected Leonard with the police commissioner's office, who he said promised to follow through as a "good-faith measure." But for the past two weeks his calls have not been returned, he said.

Meanwhile, the old front door sat in the backyard for two months. Leonard said he called the city's bulk trash pickup, but no one came.

The city inspectors who issue tickets for garbage in residents' backyards did, however, and gave him a $50 fine. The door finally was picked up last Thursday.

H/T to Radley Balko, king of the Isolated Incident.

"They Hate Us For Our Freedom"

You don't want to be hated, do you?

Well then! The solution is clear!

H/T to canadian at TMM

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Another mass murder/gang rape in the news!

Oh...wait. It isn't in the news at all.

Gee, I wonder why?

Poor Li'l Guy...

I seem to have brought little Bear into a household determined not to nurture him. Even Magnus, who first greeted him with such enthusiasm, has turned grumpy. The other two boys started out that way.

Kirby made no secret of his opinion; the puppy cannot approach him (or sometimes even become visible to him) without a show of growls and teeth.

Ghost's approach is more nuanced but no less definite. When the puppy appears, he gets up and leaves. In fact both dogs have taken to sleeping outdoors - something that is fortunately now possible since the nights are mild enough that I can just cover the doorway with a blanket and leave the door open. That will continue until the bugs get bad, and then they can come inside at night or take their chances.

Bear shows no sign of even noticing any of this. His opinion is 'Gotta love me!' I felt kinda bad for him last evening; he was dancing around in front of Ghost, inviting him to play and refusing to get the hell out of his way until he did - something I've seen Ghost do with the other dogs 10,000 times - and it's the only time I've seen Ghost growl at the little guy.

This sort of puts me in the middle. I'm obviously giving Bear a lot of attention, since I want him to bond with me, while being careful not to alienate any of the others. Instead of praising them whenever they act accepting of the little guy, I'm reduced to doing so whenever they let him live.

Walky time is also an issue. The boys and I are used to taking pretty extensive walks, which I don't expect a 2-month-old puppy to keep up with. So Bear goes into Gitmo if we're taking a real walk. You wanna hear a puppy cry real loud? That'll do it.

I'm sure all this will sort itself out. It's only been a few days, and he will grow. The boys have had ample time and opportunity to hurt him if they really wanted to, and it's clear they don't. Magnus snapped at him this morning, and could have taken his head off but never actually made contact. Little Bear doesn't even seem to notice; if Magnus is in the way he just crawls right over him, ignoring the horrible snarls. But I admit I was hoping for a little more inclusiveness. Still, the boys have had it the way it was for quite a while, and I've noticed in the past that they like things the way they're used to things being; it takes them some time to get used to changes and find a new equilibrium.

In time, I'm sure they'll do more than just let him live. I hope.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

His Name is Bear

He narrowly avoided being named Piglet. He's got the little piggy snout, and the little piggy eyes, and when he's chewing contentedly on your hand or trying to untie your boots he's got this Arnold-the-pig grunting thing going on. But he'll grow out of all that.

On the other hand, his coat has exactly the texture of a bear rug. He has huge clawed paws on these tiny puppy legs, with all the cat-like grace that implies. He 'follows from in front,' forcing you to watch every step lest you step on him, and he trusts absolutely that you won't. He reminds me of a bear cub. Difference between the piglet and cub references is that when he grows he'll stop reminding me of a piglet. I don't expect that he'll stop reminding me of a bear.

His name is Bear.

Emotional Damage and the Love of Freedom

I was doing some forum-crawling with my second cup this morning, and came upon this:
...[I]t seems there may be a solid and perfectly rational explanation behind the correlation of nerdishness to libertarianism. If you spent your formative years getting picked on by the 'cool' kids (for playing D&D or watching Star Trek or listening to Dragonforce or whatever) you might get the idea that the majority's preferences and priorities are not always right, at least for you, and that maybe you'd prefer it if the majority just left you the hell alone.
This resonated with something I've been cogitating off and on for some time. Setting aside the specific reference to libertarianism (the discussion was about libertarianism but could as easily apply to any anti-state mindview) does it not strike you that many of the freedom-lovers with whom you're acquainted are really, below it all, damaged goods? I mean people who spent terrible childhoods, or did time for bullshit mala prohibita crimes, or got fucked over by the IRS, or something that left them shellshocked and angry and highly suspicious of if not violently antagonistic toward authority in general? People you agree with philosophically, in general, but might not be comfortable (I'm speaking of extreme cases here, not the average) leaving behind to watch your children? And that last bit not because they're evil people (freedomistas rarely are) but only because their overall judgment is sometimes rather suspect? People you enjoy sharing a beer with, but wouldn't really want to marry your sister? The sidekick hero in a Niven/Pournelle disaster potboiler, who makes good in the end but who is at bottom something of a ne'er-do-well.

Because I encounter a lot of people like that. Hell, I'm a person like that. And it makes me wonder sometimes.

I mean, my antiauthoritarian attitudes stem entirely from an unpleasant youth and a phobia about official forms - or officialese in general. I'm an introverted follower, but anyone who tries to lord it over me or is even associated with any such earns my immediate hostility - whether he's actually done evil to me or not. And the few hard-core freedomistas I've grown to know well have similar backgrounds.

Not really trying to make a point here. I'm just wondering. I believe that my viewpoint is right. I have no doubt about it at all. And yet sometimes it feels as though it's all just coming from emotional damage.

Do you know what I'm trying to say? Because I'm not sure I do.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Shouldn't forget this...

Click's Reaction...

Got an email from my landlady, with a suggested explanation for Click's surprising behavior toward the new puppy:

Yes, that's Ghost. And Click. At about the same age as my little guy.

Traumatic stress flashbacks are terrible things; I'll need to be more supportive while she gets over it...

Sunday, May 3, 2009

OMFG, Final update, I promise

So Magnus has fully accepted the puppy (not as enthusiastically as at first, perhaps, but his mind hasn't changed; the puppy can stay.)

Fritz is not in favor, but aware that he's not going to get a vote. Humph.

And the big question that remained was, what's Ghost's reaction going to be? There was some concern about this, because Ghost can be very territorial. Violently so. And he is the only one who has never seen a puppy join the pack.

Ghost's reaction was completely blase'. He walked up, smelled the newcomer's ass, and walked away without comment. He has, in the past couple of hours, taken to peeing on things in the puppy's presence. But other than that he seems to feel it requires no input from him. I expected something.

Click is certain that this is not a good thing; she acts as if she's afraid of the little guy, which is funny because as far as I've seen he hasn't even noticed her presence. He certainly isn't doing anything to bother her, and she's never been shy around any other dog even when they do get obnoxious.

When Ghost got home and refrained from doing anything antisocial, I decided we needed a brief group walky with all four dogs. It's a warm, sunny day; the puppy was in the shade and decided no, you guys go have fun. I'm going to stay right here. When I insisted, he went from shady spot to shady spot until he got to the edge of the yard, then absolutely refused to take another step. The rest of us went around the ridge, me anxious because he's too little to be left completely alone for very long. When we got back, he was snoozing in the shade. He followed as we all went into the cool of the barn, and that was that.

The puppy seems completely relaxed about all this. He cringed in a corner for less than an hour when he first arrived, but was very shortly exploring Gitmo and then crying for attention. After the first crate incident, Magnus' excessive attentions didn't intimidate him at all. He's not a yapper, in fact I've never yet heard him bark. I feared a hyperactive little monster like my neighbors D&L got recently, but that's not the case at all. He likes it when you pet him; he sleeps between my feet when I'm reading in the lair, but he's not a clinger or a jumper. If he gets lonely or scared he cries but otherwise he's very quiet. S&L visited a couple of times over the weekend, and each time commented on how completely he seems to have made himself at home. He's also - and this shocked me - at least conceptually housebroken. He doesn't always completely make it, but he does know he's supposed to go outside for his business. I'm now waiting for the other behavioral shoe to drop, because he seems...well, perfect. Therefore he's either got some congenital disease that will kill him right after I've decided I can't live without him, or he's just waiting to get big enough to jump on my couch so he can tear my throat out while I sleep. My life is like that, you know - lots of things are good, but nothing, I mean nothing is perfect.

I'm still not leaving him completely alone with the boys, but it does appear that all my anxiety concerning the boys' reaction was for nothing. Now if I could only settle on a name.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


Yeah, Ghost is weekending with S&L because I wanted a couple of days without having to deal with the Walky Issue. But the puppy has done so well, and he slept most of the morning and afternoon and he was getting restless, and it was an hour from Snacky Time anyway. So I figgered; why not a little walky, just to see how he does?

Sweartaya, those folks must have treated him very kindly. There's no way he's bonded to me yet, but he certainly behaved as if he was. He had a very good time down the driveway, but was clearly aware of just how uncharted the water was and figured his best chance was to stay close to me. Even when he got ahead, he kept looking back. If I was still plodding along, he was cool.

We only went to the end of the driveway and then circled back up the foot of the ridge. Magnus has been telling me for some time of a rat nest under a tumbled pile of irrigation pipe that has needed moving for a long time, so we went to work re-stacking it in a better place. Puppy alternated between helping Magnus watch for rats, me carry pipe, and Fritz grouse under a shady tree. For the record, Fritz wishes the puppy would go away. Not get hurt or anything, you know, just go. Away.

He'll come around.

As much as Magnus approves of the little guy, he just about clobbered him at Snacky Time. This only being his second time, the puppy is not aware that there are rules. Very important rules. He proceeded to attempt a violation of The Prime Directive, which of course is that Magnus can eat from anybody's plate unless I stop him, but NOBODY eats from Magnus' plate but Magnus. He hadn't gotten it that everybody gets a plate, and while he recognizes dry kibble as food he very much prefers canned food. He's gonna have to learn to get over that, but in the meantime I pulled him out from under a fiercely-snarling Magnus before things got ugly, and stuck his face in his own plate. He fits under Magnus very neatly, and normally Magnus would appreciate the compliment but there are social places he will never, ever be persuaded to go. Sharing his food, even with the puppy, would be right toward the top of that list of things that won't ever happen.

Just so we're clear:

This is your ruler:

This is your ruler on drugs:

Get the picture?

Meanwhile, out in the rest of the world...

I should stick with puppies. Puppies make my smile, and get me all upset and anxious in a good way. I make the mistake of peeking out at the rest of the world, and I get this...

The White House had offered Chrysler’s lenders a deal to take roughly 33 cents on a dollar to write off the company’s debt. Most took the deal, but a few holdouts said it wasn’t good enough — and their refusal to go along pushed the company into bankruptcy.

So Obama is calling them out. “A group of investment firms and hedge funds decided to hold out for the prospect of an unjustified taxpayer-funded bailout. They were hoping that everybody else would make sacrifices and they would have to make none,” Obama said.

Some of the hedge funds, Obama said, demanded returns twice as high as other lenders were getting.

“I don't stand with them,” Obama said. “I stand with Chrysler's employees and their families and communities. I stand with Chrysler's management, its dealers and its suppliers. I stand with the millions of Americans who own and want to buy Chrysler cars.”

It’s clear that the White House thinks the politics of battling unnamed “speculators” works in its favor.

I love this. Chrysler management steers the company into the swamp - again. The UAW, arguably a major reason any American automaker is in hot financial water, gets ownership. The feds screw over the investors at 33 cents on the dollar. A few investors balk and want to go to court because the arbitrators are all at the TARP trough. Surprise! They're to blame for it all! It's all so simple now!

DISCLOSURE: I used to work as a contractor in Detroit. I've done a lot of work for all of the American Big Three. I have opinions about the management of each company, or did back in the 'nineties. I used to get in trouble for expressing opinions (suicide for a contractor, but then I didn't become a hermit because of my great people skills) about management decisions in each company. Chrysler is not my dream corporate model by any tiniest stretch, and bankruptcy does not come as shocking news. They're a pack of %#@^ing idiots who deserve to sleep under park benches. At least, as I said, they were in the 'nineties. Evidence indicates that they haven't changed so very much since then.

That said, our story so far: Chrysler, unable to come to terms with its lenders, has filed for Chap 11 bankruptcy. In the restructuring, ownership goes 55% to the UAW, (HAH!)20% to fergodsake Fiat, because that's always worked so well in the past, and 25% to Uncle Sugar. Guess who's putting up the $6B in money to sweeten the pot? That's right. No, you don't get voting shares. But it's a free country, it says here, so you are permitted to bitch about it as long as you don't do anything annoying.

It has been pointed out that this is not new for Chrysler. In the early eighties, under Lee (that other messiah) Iaccoca, the fedgov kicked in $2B in loan guarantees and a whole raft of tax breaks. That actually didn't end badly; Chrysler never defaulted on its new loans so the guarantees never kicked in, Chrysler rebuilt its line-up to a bunch of things people actually wanted to buy, and life went on for a while. Then of course management led the company back into the crapper and Daimler Benz made arguably the biggest mistake of its corporate life bailing Chrysler out AGAIN. And now here we are. 55% UAW ownership, total fedgov control. What could go wrong?