Sunday, February 28, 2010

Oh, holy crap!

Weird weather today. Rain off and on ... rain? Well, it probably would have been snow flurries if it were a bit colder. No biggee, thought I, though I had almost two weeks' worth of laundry on the line that was surely not going to get dry today.

A while back we went for our afternoon walky and there was a dark line on the horizon. Looked like bad rain, but it was in the north so I didn't give it much thought. When we got back I put Beauty on her cable and brought the boys into the lair.

Then a few minutes ago I heard...thunder. Big-time. I went out to rescue Beauty, got W's dogs squared away, came outside...looked to the north, where that black line wasn't on the horizon anymore, and it wasn't a line. It was half the sky, flashing like the Day of Judgment, with dark streamers below it. Massive rainstorm, coming now.

Oh, man. I'd given up on the laundry ever getting dry, but this would have it wet and also in Nebraska. Ran around with hampers, shoved it back in the workshop where it had begun its day, still wet. Now the boys and I are warm and dry, with rain pounding the roof and flashies all around. Weird.


But..."Bear" means "Carry." Doesn't it?

See, I think this is funny.
IT APPEARS some Bay Area residents feel that simply having a right to bear arms is not enough. They also feel they must exercise that right in a public display that conjures visions of a modern-day Wild West.
I think he means "right to keep arms," since he clearly doesn't believe in a right to bear them. Or maybe he thinks "having" a right doesn't give you the "right" to exercise it. Logic should scream when it's tortured like that.

Anyway, speaking of tortured logic, this all comes to mind as I peruse the subject of "Unloaded Open Carry." For some time now, gun-rights activists in California have practiced what I presume is a sort of civil disobedience in the form of openly carrying unloaded handguns in public. This just barely qualifies as legal in the Peepulz Republik of Kalifornia, though many legal experts (read, cops) disagree.

If the purpose of the exercise is to agitate for increased/improved gun rights, then I fear I must (oh, take this dagger from my heart) agree with a part of what yon snarky anti-gun editorialist had to say.
More than anything else, we surmise, this display is meant as a not-so-subtle political statement. But we hope those carrying the weapons are more judicious with their firearms than they are with fashioning political statements. This one misses the target. Instead of some grand public lesson, this action is seen by many Bay Area residents as childish machismo.
See, this is California. I've lived in California. I've lived in a couple of different coastal regions of California, and up and down the coast the people are all the same. They're sheep. And I don't mean big, brawny butt-your-ass-into-next-week mountain sheep, I mean daddy-daddy-please-save-us-from-the-bad-man-with-the-unloaded-gun sheep. The purpose of political theater is to educate and change minds. You don't do that by frightening the herd, which is all this will accomplish. California Open Carry seems to be aware of this, though they don't agree about the efficacy of the practice. Their website freely states:
You may also have encounters with law enforcement officers. You must be prepared for this. Know all the laws. Carry the flyers and memos with you. Many Open Carriers carry personal voice recorders to record their police encounters. You may be detained. You legally must allow police officers to inspect your firearm to ensure that it is unloaded (where applicable per 12031). You may even be arrested. This shouldn’t happen if you follow all the laws, but from many of the experiences shared on the forums, it appears that many police officers do not know or do not understand the law. Remain patient, and if you can, share with them what you know. If however you are placed under arrest, immediately stop talking.

If you are unwilling to accept this risk of false arrest, or are unable to bear the significant financial burden for your legal defense, then don't Open Carry in California.
Damn straight you shouldn't. Hell, I once came close to getting busted for carrying an unloaded handgun in a range bag behind the seat of my pickup, and actually found myself in the position of explaining to a supervisor that a pickup truck does not possess a trunk, which is where California law says it should be kept.

As political theater, I think UOC is wrongheaded and doomed, but I do admire the cojones of anyone practicing it. I'm just not an activist. But California Open Carry does make one claim I think is just plain stupid and wrong:
Therefore, in California, there are three main reasons to Open Carry:

[And the first one is] # For those choosing to carry a firearm for self-defense, it is the only legal means available.
I don't know or care what the actual law says, but the "common-use" law is that a loaded magazine is the same as a loaded gun. It absolutely will get you busted in California. So those unloaded guns really are unloaded, and...that's a means of self-defense? Not on my planet.

I was a California gun-owner once, and have nothing but sympathy and fellow feeling. But there's really only one solution to Californians who want better gun laws. It's the solution I exercised, and one I strongly advocate.

Get the hell out of California. You're never going to find common ground with those ... creatures, and why live where you're not wanted?


Tam over at View From The Porch asked a question that reminded me of a great little treasure.
Which novels have the best wookie-suiter utopias? My standard proselytizing books have always been The Probability Broach, Alongside Night, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, and Voyage From Yesteryear.

Any others I should keep in stock?
Haven't read it in a couple of years, so it's way past time. Ladies and gentlemen, for any who aren't already familiar with it I present And Then There Were None, by Eric Frank Russell.

I don't actually pray, but it's a nice thought.

“A Rifleman’s Prayer

Oh Lord, I would live my life in freedom, peace and happiness, enjoying the simple pleasures of hearth and home. I would die an old, old man in my own bed, preferably of sexual overexertion.

But if that is not to be, Lord, if monsters such as this should find their way to my little corner of the world on my watch, then help me to sweep those bastards from the ramparts, because doing that is good, and right, and just.

And if in this I should fall, let me be found atop a pile of brass, behind the wall I made of their corpses.”

-Geek with a .45

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Fairly busy day today.

This being Saturday, it was shit-shoveling day at the neighbors. I've already hauled two trailer-loads of sand from the wash to fill holes dug by their stallion-from-hell, and estimated that I was only half done. So this time I drove the Jeep with its trailer into the wash itself and dug out more than twice as much as I've dug on the two previous trips. That, I figured, would do it and then some. And sonuvagun, I was right. I had some left over, but I knew just what I wanted to do with it.

One of their goats is incredibly pregnant, and gonna pop any minute. The poor thing is so big she can barely walk, and there's no telling how many kids there are in there. J's out of town at a trade show and won't be back till sometime late tomorrow, so I promised H I'd stay close to my phone. If ever there was an animal that was going to have trouble birthing, this was the one. I don't actually know anything about it, but sometimes just providing another set of hands and some moral support is a lot of help. So I might be running back there any time.

In the meantime, there were chores to do. I'd let my black-water tank get rather full, and needed to empty it. Little Bear (abetted, no doubt, by that hussy Beauty - I don't believe my innocent boy would do such a thing without the encouragement of Bad Companions) scattered garbage in not one but two locations and that needed to be cleaned up. I took the surplus dirt from the horse corral and spread it on a tiny, tiny portion of the driveway where the clay is thick and gets mighty slick when it's wet. I discovered, as I feared, that the effort of moving enough sand to actually correct the driveway will be formidable. Ah, well.

And since I'm here by myself, I need to do something about laundry. But the water is still turned off at the barn and I don't anticipate turning it back on for another month at least. So I gathered hoses from scattered locations and ran them from the valve house aaaaaallll the way to the barn's workshop, where the washing machine has been idle all winter. After much gurgling and spewing of dirty water, I got the combined hose clear and hooked it up to the machine. Step one was a pile of towels we'd used to sop up a - ahem - minor flood from last weekend that I still hadn't figured out. This was associated with another project that's too complex and perplexing to get into here. No lives were lost.

I got the towels going, came outside, and discovered that I was missing the usual three dogs. They'd been really good while I was doing the other chores, but while my back was turned in the barn they disappeared. Well, I had a fair idea where they'd gone - Ghost spent much of the day casting longing eyes at S&L's place, where all the grandkids were loudly visiting. So I disconnected the trailer from the Jeep and drove out there. Sure enough, there they all were. I visited with S&L for a few minutes, then called the dogs. Ghost prudently disappeared, but Beauty and Little Bear had been waiting impatiently for their Jeep ride and gave me no trouble at all. Now they're tied out in their respective yards, and I won't see Ghost until sometime tomorrow.

The weather's been warming up after a cold week, and I hope that tomorrow I'll be able to spend some time on the cabin. Finally got all the seams caulked up, and it's past time to start on interior insulation. Assuming, of course, that I don't have to play clueless midwife to an enormous goat.

In the capitol of the Land of the Free...

The second amendment of the US constitution absolutely applies. Yes, sir.

Of course, there are some common-sense regulations involved. This Examiner article by Kris Hammond outlines the steps law-abiding citizens need to follow if they want to own a handgun in Mordor-by-the-Potomac. And the fees they'll need to pay...
The registration process adds substantially to the cost of the firearm. If a firearm is purchased for $450, the new owner must thereafter contend with the following expenses:

* $22.50 Virginia sales tax
* $25 shipment fee
* $125 gun class fee (may be more depending on the instructor)
* $125 gun dealer transfer fee
* $12 passport photos
* $13 application fee
* $12 ballistics test fee
* $35 fingerprinting / FBI background check fee

The total fees and taxes are $369.50, nearly doubling the actual cost of a $450 firearm to $819.50.
That doesn't buy the "right" to actually carry the handgun, of course, because that privilege is reserved for your betters (and criminals, of course.) But never let it be said you can't own a handgun in DC. No, sir.

Where I live, there are two steps required for purchasing any sort of firearm.
  1. Find somebody who wants to sell the gun you want to buy.
  2. Buy it.

Victim sues victim?

Over at there's a great piece about a lawsuit Valerie Hunter seems to have launched against Sheryl Stack.
...whenever a lawyer says "it is not about the money," my ears hear "it is all about the money." This cynicism is deepened by the fact that, after the incident, Valerie Hunter allegedly and almost immediately called for people to honor her husband by sending donations to her grandchildren's college fund. In similar circumstances, I've heard of paying funeral costs or hospital bills through donations. But her children are adults responsible for educating their own kids and I do not believe the grandchildren were financially impoverished by the incident. Arguably, the opposite is true.

So...Valerie Hunter creates a furor of bad publicity in order to protect her family from bad publicity. She does not care about the money bit she immediately seeks it through various avenues. (Remember, the lawsuit etc. payoffs will be over-and-above whatever she receives as a settlement for her husband's death from insurance and the IRS, whatever pension or other benefits her husband is due, any fees from interviews or other media including books and movies, money from the Crime Victims Compensation fund, etc.) Meanwhile Sheryl Stack's house has been burned down and she is left with the debts that drove him to the brink of insanity to begin with.

Friday, February 26, 2010

When your enemy is digging his own grave...

...Let him!

I'm no more a fan of republicans than of democrats. But they've got the right idea here - the dems have somehow tied themselves to this "health care reform" thing, and the repubs want to make sure that in the event a bill actually passes the dems own it. Republican politicians may not be the sharpest knives in the rack, but it doesn't take Ludwig Von Mises to see that this bill would be a train wreck.

A mercifully brief round-up of the economic reasons why...

...And I must follow them, for I am their leader.

So at precisely 7:45 this morning an elite squad of the loudest coyotes started yipping and howling at a range of what seemed about 15 feet from the lair. Ghost, already sick of begging Uncle Joel to commence the morning walky already, went completely batshit with Beauty and Little Bear right behind. I opened the door and watched as the trio blasted down the ridge, over the meadow, across the road, over the other meadow, and into the maze of gullies and boulders between there and the big ridgeline in less time than it took to type this.

In the old days, when I wasn't really responsible for their safety, I'd have watched them go and placed internal bets as to when or whether they'd return. But I'm far too timid for that now; I grabbed my jacket, gloves and rifle and headed off in that direction.

On the way I passed W's lair, with Bruno barking on the porch. I invited him to come along, but didn't insist. Bruno's a classic pit bull, with a mouth full of horror-show teeth and a face that appears to be composed entirely of jaw muscles. But he's also a great coward - sorry, W - and I correctly didn't expect him to offer to come. Redgirl, of course, was inside Waiting For Vizinni.

At the foot of the driveway I paused and called, in the wan hope that they hadn't gone farther than I saw them go. No answer. Over a little rise and across a gully, a little off our beaten path, there's a meadow near the approach to the big ridge. It was in line with the path I saw them take, and a voice would carry there. I hiked to the middle of the meadow, stood there and called. No answer.

Now I had to choose: They either hadn't come this far - and I could find no tracks - in which case this was a fool's errand, or they'd done something truly insane and really taken off after the coyote pack. Beauty and Ghost can fight, but they're only two. I don't know if Little Bear would fight or roll over and try to surrender, which wouldn't go well for him. He's as big as the other two combined, and one day he'll be formidable. But it isn't this day. He's less than a year old still, and although he play-fights very competently he's used to surrendering to his elders when the going gets serious. If Ghost led him into battle, he made a mistake.

I thought about this while hiking on toward the ridge, in the direction of the coyotes. Insanity was the least likely alternative, but the safest assumption in terms of defending the dogs.

I was now a good distance from the property, definitely farther than the coyotes had been when they started this. I didn't expect to encounter any, because I never do. I rarely see coyotes when out walking; they damned well see me and keep a respectful distance. But I could still hear them, seemingly about as far away as they had originally been. I kept heading for the ridge, and came upon a set of fresh tracks.

The ground was still covered with frost, shining in a billion tiny crystals. But the dirt wasn't frozen, since it's been a while since it snowed and there wasn't enough moisture for that. The tracks were too torn up to tell if I was following a dog or a coyote, but they had disturbed the frost; definitely fresh. For the first time in a long time, my rifle seemed a personal comfort. Just because coyotes usually aren't aggressive doesn't mean they can't be, and it was likely that they were all around me now. I snicked off the safety and checked the chamber. I hadn't brought extra magazines, but if I couldn't get it done in thirty rounds I deserved to be food.

Now I was at the base of the ridge. Most of this face was sheer, but off to the right I knew there was a much easier slope. I wanted to get high enough that I could see and call for a good distance. I didn't have any further prayer of finding the dogs, but hopefully once I was there the dogs would find me.

By now the coyotes had shut up. I climbed to a plateau, stopped, caught my breath, and called. I was now much farther from home than I'd intended, probably farther than the dogs had come. I wished I'd planned better and grabbed a canteen. This was looking more and more like a fool's errand, and I began to make plans to return, get the Jeep, and cruise the wash trolling for the dogs. They always find the Jeep.

I waited. Then I heard the panting sound of a rapidly-approaching dog-like creature. Almost certainly one of mine. Almost; I shouldered the rifle.

Beauty cleared the brush first, from the direction I'd come. She was panting hard; I was right the first time, I'd overshot them by quite a ways and the little bastards had let me. I waited a few more moments and Ghost appeared, followed closely by Little Bear.

What do you do in a case like this? I always want to give them a good swift kick, but need to reward them for returning. So I fawned on them and told them what good dogs they were, and we headed slowly home.

I'm not really sure what a "meme" is...

...but here's my shot at rolling one along.

Seen at George Potter's Market Theocracy, via Unpopular Ideas Club:


was born in

Building 7

Remember "Russia's Viet Nam?"

I have just been reminded, via the Unpopular Ideas Club, that as of November 26, 2010, America (The Good Guys) will have been liberating Afghanistan exactly as long as Russia (The Bad Guys) did.

Let's compare what those hapless, brutal Russians did with what "our" glorious, humanitarian troops have accomplished:

  • The Russians established a frail, corrupt puppet government in Kabul and made deadly enemies of every other living Afghani they weren't directly paying off.
  • The Americans, by brilliant contrast, have done all that and also pissed off the Pakistanis and the Iranians, and that without even one rival superpower selling SAMs to the insurgents! Yay us!

Any bets that American troops will beat the Russians' longevity record? Given that Obama and the generals just escalated, it seems likely to me.

Riiiiight. You go first.

Seen on a comment thread somewhere:
Mandatory healthcare will inaugurate a blood letting this country hasn't seen since the War of Northern Aggression, and folks will resist - and I will help those innocent folks in their struggle for Liberty!
Yes, of course it's wookie-suit booolshit. I don't recall anybody going a-ramboing over mandatory car insurance.

But wouldn't it be ironic? If such a symptom-of-the-problem side-issue got the ball rolling after all these decades?


Thursday, February 25, 2010

One cold day.

Not much going on today. It's just plain cold. We took a walk up through the wash to the left canyon as far as the kettle and came back through the brush following the ridge. Beauty's been coming with us regular, and a couple of times I've convinced Bruno to come along but Redgirl has never come farther than halfway down the driveway and I had to coax her with treats even that far. Most times as soon as the pack comes by she just turns and pointedly goes back into W's lair. She's waiting for Vizinni.

I've been wanting to go into town to get W's mail and should have yesterday when I had the chance with J, but put it off till today when it turned out J was on his way to a trade show out of town. Probably worked out best, though; his wife H was waiting for a UPS delivery that turned out to be a set of tires for this late-60's muscle car J bought, so I was able to help her with the tires and felt like I'd paid her back for the ride. I swear, W gets more mail in a week than I have in the past three years.

Kinda feels like old times here. I've got two more weeks before W comes back, and I can spend that time all by myself. I've gotten kinda spoiled since last winter, which I spent mostly alone and came through looking like a Buchenwald inmate. Since then I've gotten used to higher income and regular trips to town. It's kinda nice to have a few weeks to myself, to remember what was nice about that time without the attendant danger of freezing or losing all my teeth to scurvy. Still got lots of propane, too. I run the heater whenever I want, this winter. Heh...I remember last winter I used to go hours and hours barely able to feel my fingers for fear of spending an unnecessary ounce of propane. It wasn't that I didn't have the money, it was the hassle of getting it from town. Back then, the body heat of the dogs was a major factor in getting through a morning. But the two biggest boys are gone now, and I do admit sometimes I sure miss them. Magnus the Magnificent, Fritz the...big beautiful dork. Yeah, there'll never be better dogs than them.

I do admit, this sure has been an easy winter compared to last year. But sometimes, when you're in the right mood, "easier" doesn't seem like "better."

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Ned Ludd Nanny Knows Best

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has gotten to enjoy his career of throwing transportation department money and his weight around the various state governments. But now he's got a new passion: Saving you from what you can't do...though you may have been doing it all along.
"It makes me crazy when I see people in Washington with a phone up to their ear and a can of soda on their lap thinking that they can do these things. They just simply can't. It does drive me a little crazy."
So he wants a New! Federal! Law! against texting while driving.

Now, full disclosure: I've been in cars while the drivers were texting away. I knew a kid who seemed to have supernatural ability to text, and he seemed to do it every waking moment. My moments in that particular shotgun seat are among my more terrifying memories. I think texting while driving is one of life's stupider decisions. But that doesn't mean this jackass has the right to make the decision for you. If I'd thought it was that big a problem, I'd have wrenched the cellphone out of the kid's hands. I don't need LaHood to help me with that.

Texting, of course, is only the beginning. What really bothers him isn't texting, but distraction.
he's no fan of car companies who pack steering wheels with high-tech gear, like Ford with its voice-activated Sync system that aids the use of hands-free phones and navigation systems. "I'm concerned that some of these car manufacturers are putting all these gadgets and bells and whistles in cars that are going to distract people."
Wait'll somebody tells him that the biggest distraction a driver can face is the kids in the (federally mandated) back seat...
"I'm not going to be dissuaded by people who say we can't do it," he says. "We can do it. We've done it in two other instances, with seat belts and drunk driving."
But enough of these half-measures. If I were him, I'd go whole-hog and demand hockey helmets in showers. With Federal monitors to perform random spot checks. That'd save some lives, boy.

So much for Weatherman Joel...

Yeah, my prediction about the temperature was...kinda way off. It warmed up nice by the time I got the sand spread in the corral. Duke the He-goat is getting older and becoming a pain in the rear: He's starting to do that urine-in-the-beard thing that gives them their lovely odor, and gets more aggressive about having his way every time I clash with him, which is pretty much every time I encounter him lately. Fortunately the simplest solution is to let him out of the pen entirely, since he won't wander far from his lady friends. Though we even had an argument about that today, because he wanted into a pen I needed to enter and was prepared to fight me for it. He's still a sucker for a twist of the collar, though. Neighbor lady had just finished bacon, eggs and bagels when I finished with the new bedding, so I got a second breakfast out of the deal. Sweet.

I brought back enough composted horseshit to finish the fruit trees and spread it out, but when I tried to water it in I found the valve still frozen in the valvehouse and the cistern damned near dry. So now I'm running the generator to fill the cistern, have candles going in both valvehouses, and the breadmaker is industriously beating dough. None of the dogs got their walky this morning, and now Ghost is giving me a hard time so I guess I'd better get at it.

Hey! The faucet just cut loose! Gonna be a good day after all. Things to do, gotta go.

It's cold.

Not as frozen-ammonia cold as yesterday morning, but with an overcast that promises we won't warm up the way we did yesterday. I've gotta go shovel shit in an hour. Gotta get some sand from the wash on the way to the neighbors'. I could put it off, but I need it for a horse corral and right now the horses are out of town which makes the chore 1000% easier. I'll hate myself if I put it off. I shall continue chanting that mantra until I actually have sand in the trailer, then I can turn it off.

Should have baked bread yesterday when we had good sunlight, 'cause now I've got to do it today when we don't. But it's really not a problem. Being the only one here is a real luxury with the new electrical upgrades - I'm not sure it's possible for one guy to kill it. Besides, W isn't around to yell at me. Heh.

Wait...he reads this blog.

Never mind. Joking!

You know what I hate?

I hate it when you wake up in the morning, notice the faucet dripping, and congratulate yourself for having remembered to set it to "drip" before retiring. Then two hours later you notice that it's no longer dripping.

I really hate that. *&^%! frozen pipes.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Stewart Rhodes on O'Reilly

I haven't paid much attention to Oath Keepers, because I never took no steenking oath. But I must say SR handled himself well in this clip, despite the freedom-loving Bill O trying hard to lead him off message.

Organic! All Natural!

Also free! This pile of two-year-old composted horseapples was, as I feared, not quite enough. I got the garden plot covered, plus about one and a half fruit trees. But that's okay; I need to get more sand from the wash to fill holes in one of the horse corrals while the ladies are gone elsewhere for romantic (?) duties. I'll bring back enough to finish fertilizing the fruit trees tomorrow.

Apropos of my earlier blathering...

Check out this great post on the IRS by William Grigg, who's been on a roll lately.
One of Yancey's supervisors considered taxpayers to be, at best, fodder for the firing squad. That official, Yancey recalls, ended a profanity-infused tirade by describing taxpayers unable to surrender every dime demanded by agents of federal extortion as "Deadbeats ... if it were up to me, I'd line 'em all up against a wall and shoot them."

Yancey's supervisor obviously shared the late Joseph Stack's view that "violence is the only answer" -- whether that violence is implicit or overt.

Let's talk about the weather.

Sunday, while the Landlady was still here, the weather got cloudy and blustery and the temperature started to fall. Yesterday was just friggin' miserable - cold with horizontal snow flurries. I couldn't leave W's door propped open because the wind and snow were coming from the north, and ended up in his lair watching a movie with his dogs during the afternoon.

Sometime after dark the sky cleared, and the temperature crashed. I woke up a little after midnight, let the boys out before I looked at the clock, and could barely get the door open. The windows were already growing ice flowers. I had to turn the heater on, and the lair stayed so cold I never did get deeply back to sleep.

And this morning...well, I still have hope the temperature will rise to the point where I can get something done. I've got a trailer-full of Organic! All-Natural! fertilizer than needs to be spread before I go shovel shit tomorrow. When I went to rescue W's dogs this morning, Beauty came with me like she usually does and then when I got to my door I nearly tripped over Redgirl who'd done a stealth approach between my feet. I've been leaving W's stove on with the door propped open, but I gather that last night it didn't really cut it. Practically had to pry his door open.

Winter's back. Yuck.


This morning I woke up to a comment on the Speed Camera post below, reminding me of a darker aspect of the story that I'd honestly forgotten though I did read about it at the time.
Destories, a Jeep tour operator, is charged with first-degree murder, drive-by shooting and firing a gun at a structure in the death of Doug Georgianni, 51.

Georgianni was doing paperwork on the night of April 19 last year inside a speed-camera van in north Phoenix when police say Destories pulled up behind the van and then slowly alongside it before firing.

Coincidentally, yesterday afternoon I learned that there was a fatality in that Austin suicide plane crash last week. A 68-year-old man named Vernon Hunter, an IRS supervisor in the building, is dead.

I confess that when I heard about both these deaths, my initial thought was a cold, "Oh, well. You took the king's shilling, now deal with the consequences." I have no love for speed cameras, whose only purpose is to squeeze money from people who are just trying to get where they need to go. My attitude toward the IRS goes a bit deeper than "no love." Both of these dead men were directly involved in what I consider armed robbery, though probably neither even owned a pair of jackboots. So, goes my first thoughts, screw'em.

My second thoughts are more ambivalent. If there has to be a shooting war, are these the kind of victims I'd prefer? Neither of these targets were chosen with any particular discrimination. In fact, if the Phoenix shooter is to believed, neither were really chosen at all. They just got in the way. I don't consider them entirely innocent victims, but I also have a hard time seeing them as legitimate targets. I hate it when I don't know what to think.

I wrote a book once whose anti-hero, Michael Owens, was a viciously sadistic but extremely discriminating killer. Once he chose a target there were no rules, but he chose his targets carefully and refused to prey on people he considered "non-combatants." Even so, he wasn't innocent of what the government blandly calls "collateral damage." Were Doug Georgianni and Vernon Hunter non-combatants? Certainly either of them would have said yes. Of course, either of them would probably have been shocked and angered at an accusation that they were hurting people. So ... What would Michael Owens do in their case? Personally, I think he'd have passed them by. Not because they were innocent - they weren't - but because they were unimportant.

The news sites are full right now of paeans to what a great guy Vernon Hunter was. Doug Georgianni had a wife and a family who've apparently dedicated their lives to the conviction of Destories. That's pretty much irrelevant, because everybody's got a family. Hell, even I can think of two or three people who'd be a little sorry to hear I'd died. Lon Horiuchi even has a friend or two, god knows why. Nice to snakes, maybe. That doesn't affect the question of whether they were righteous targets.

Thomas Patrick Destories and Andrew Joseph Stack (We know they're vile assassins, because they each have three names!) were no lantern-jawed folk heroes. They both come across as pathetic losers, and certainly aren't what anyone would choose as freedom-movement poster boys. Destories claims he just wanted to shoot up a camera van, and didn't know anyone was inside. Stack was mad at the IRS, and crashed his plane into a building that contained an IRS office. These guys were just kooks, lashing out blindly. Their actions never rise to the description of "tactics." Were their victims "innocent?" No, I don't think so. But they weren't very well chosen, either.

Monday, February 22, 2010


A monkey mask. Heh, heh, heeheehee...
...since the Grand Canyon State began enforcing speed limits with roadside cameras, motorists are raging against the machines: They have blocked out the lenses with Post-it notes or Silly String. During the Christmas holidays, they covered the cameras with boxes, complete with wrapping paper.

One dissenting citizen went after a camera with a pick ax.

LRC, We almost knew thee.

Lew Rockwell used to be one of my daily surf visits, back when I was supposed to be working in my gray cubicle. He tended to go off the deep end in selecting the articles he (mostly) ripped off from other sites, but you could skip past the four or five daily pieces about how the Government thinks you suck and wants to steal your stuff. LRC was a pretty good compiler, in its way. Still is, I suppose.

But during the late presidential campaign I lost my taste for the site, due to its All-Ron-Paul-All-The-Time editorial policy. Now, to fend off the angry mobs (I've only so much ammunition) I don't have anything special against Ron Paul. I'm sure he's a very fine fellow for a politician. But the spectacle of a site that spends all its time railing against government in general, a position I support, getting all moist in the crotch over a presidential candidate and then staying that way for years without showering is kind of inconsistent and hard to take - in addition to becoming a bit gamy over time. I stopped reading it for several months, until (I thought) the campaign was safely over.

As months went by, I was ready to let bygones be bygones if Lew would. But he just can't seem to let it alone. Ron Paul is to Lew Rockwell what William Shatner was to my redneck sister-in-law, back in 1968. (No, I didn't make that up.) He just can't let it go. Last Christmas, Lew posted this piece of...whatever it is. "Yes, Virginia, there is a Ron Paul." Lew! C'mon!

This rant comes about principally because there's no way to comment at LRC proper, and I needed to rant. This morning there were Three! Count'em! Three! articles on LRC about a stupid CPAC straw poll that gave RP the win for the 2012 prez nomination. Enough! It's early 2010, and I am not yet healed from the spillover noise of the last endless election. I'm sure as hell not going to spend the next three years on the next one.

In which, I must add, Ron Paul will NOT be the republican nominee unless every other republican in the country dies beforehand. Lew! Ron Paul may be a very fine fellow for a politician, but he's 75 years old and has the charisma of a canker sore. His claims to fame are voting no on everything and blathering on about the Fed. Yes, he's right about the Fed. He really is, Lew. But nobody but he and you cares, Lew. Nobody outside your echo cave is listening. He's Not! Going! To be! President!

To say nothing of the fact that I've never understood how you can rail about the evils of government out of one side of your mouth, and connive with Ron Paul or anyone else to rule it out of the other. It's at least inconsistent.

Please. Please, let it go. It's gotten embarrassing, Lew.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Ghost gets a rival - but what is it?

So S&L came back to their property this weekend after an absence of a few weeks (S's new solar power business is really taking off - and taking time away from the Great Project. Ghost was excited to see his weekend parents, but there was a change. A betrayal! They'd gone and gotten themselves a ... uh...

The landlady was up for the weekend as well, and between us we spent time on a sort of live-action caption contest.

(Click) "You brought me a rat? No, thanks. I've got lots, and this one barks."

(Ghost) "It kind of smells like a dog, but I can't really get jealous because that can't be a dog.

(Little Bear) "Is it good to eat?"

(Beauty) "Does it, like, inflate to full size or something?"

(Me) "I can't take imperious behavior seriously in an animal I'm afraid of accidentally squashing."

(W) "Where's the wind-up key?"

I mean, seriously, it's cute and all. But S&L can only let it out on a leash at night for fear the owls will get it. Did you know you have to wash a Shih Tzu's face after it eats? It's got all that fur around its mouth and no muzzle.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Speaking of existential crises...

Landlady sent this to me this morning.

U.S. Economy Grinds To Halt As Nation Realizes Money Just A Symbolic, Mutually Shared Illusion
"Though raising interest rates is unlikely at the moment, the Fed will of course act appropriately if we…if we…" said Bernanke, who then paused for a moment, looked down at his prepared statement, and shook his head in utter disbelief. "You know what? It doesn't matter. None of this—this so-called 'money'—really matters at all."

"It's just an illusion," a wide-eyed Bernanke added as he removed bills from his wallet and slowly spread them out before him. "Just look at it: Meaningless pieces of paper with numbers printed on them. Worthless."

According to witnesses, Finance Committee members sat in thunderstruck silence for several moments until Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) finally shouted out, "Oh my God, he's right. It's all a mirage. All of it—the money, our whole economy—it's all a lie!"

Screams then filled the Senate Chamber as lawmakers and members of the press ran for the exits, leaving in their wake aisles littered with the remains of torn currency.

Which, in turn, reminds me...

...of this self-serving plug in the form of an excerpt from the postscript to my book, Songs of Bad Men and Good.
“Dad,” said Robert, “Why did the people put up with things like evil rulers and SWATs and stuff? Why didn’t they just shoot some and drive the others away?”

“Well, of course in the end they did. But it had gone on for so long by then that it was at the cost of terrible suffering.”

“Why? Because the rulers had so many fighters?”

“No, not because of that. The people always far outnumbered the evil fighters, even though most of them couldn’t fight and weren’t allowed weapons. It was because the government had ruled for so long, and had taken over control of so much, that the people couldn’t get along without it. When they finally threw off the control, a lot of them just starved.”

“Huh?” The children couldn’t conceive of a whole continent of people who couldn’t even feed themselves.

“It’s true! Do any of you know what currency is?”

Heads shook all around.

“Well, it’s just one example. Instead of goods or services or precious metals, the people traded with something called currency. It was pieces of paper, which were worth whatever the government said they were.”

“You mean like promise notes?” Robert asked. “What’s wrong with that, as long as the promiser makes good?”

“No, these weren’t promise notes. The government wouldn’t redeem them for anything. People were supposed to believe that these pieces of paper were valuable themselves. And it had gone on for so long, Son, as the stars are my witness, they did believe it. They worked long hours at jobs, hired men all of them, because few had good homesteads where they raised their own keep. And at the end of a week of that, all they got was stacks of this paper. And they’d trade it for food and shelter and the other things they needed. It was the craziest thing.

“Well, when good people finally had enough and chased off the rulers, there was nobody left to say that all that paper had any value. So of course it reverted to what it was really worth, which was nothing. Nobody wanted to work as hired men if they weren’t even paid for it.

“And that was when the terrible times started. When those times finally ended, it was only the few who knew how to take care of themselves, or those who could learn in a mighty big hurry, who got through them. The strongest of those who couldn’t or wouldn’t turned aggressor themselves, and they spread misery and death among the productive until they were put down.

“That’s the lesson I want you to take away from this. The greatest evil wasn’t the government, bad as it must have been. There have always been aggressive men, and there always will be. That’s why we train when we’re not working; so we can always be ready to keep them at bay. But the greatest evil of those days was that people let it happen; that they liked it that way. They were like livestock. The government took care of them; it gave them easy lives. Hollow and empty, maybe, but easy. Easier than ours. But when that great system broke down, as it had to sooner or later, they had nothing at all.”

“Daddy,” said Marcy, “That’s a crazy story. Tell us one about Great-Grandpa!”

Dogs, dogs, dogs

Sometimes lately I find myself adrift in an existential funk as the baseball bat of reality whacks me on the back of my head and I realize that I exist to serve the needs of dogs.

Normally when I suffer this recurring epiphany, I'm thinking of politicians, bureaucrats and LEOs. Right now, I mean actual dogs. Fur. Four legs. Big soulful eyes. You know: Canines.

I went to bed late, so woke up well after my usual time. My first thought was that this could be a problem, because when Ghost and Little Bear go out for the first time in the dark they're usually eager to do their business and come back in. When it's already light, they're not always so tractable. This was an issue because I needed to get them squared away before I could go deal with W's dogs.

Fortunately the boys didn't give me the anticipated trouble, so I gave them their treats, locked them in the lair and went to open up W's lair. Beauty popped out at once but nobody else would move. I saw Bruno, her pit bull, lying on the couch and looking woebegone. He refused to move. Redgirl wouldn't come down from the bed. There were dark smears all over the floor. Somebody had had a bad night.

Sigh - okay, into each dog-nanny's life some diarrhea must come. I cleaned up the mess as best I quickly could, made a mental note to find W's mop when the temperature warmed up, and propped his door open. Neither Bruno nor Redgirl are prone to wander, as Beauty is. I collected Beauty and took her back to my lair.

A few minutes later I heard Bruno barking outside W's lair. He's not a big barker, so it required investigation. Ghost and Beauty started raising hell inside my own tiny lair. I opened the door and they bulleted outside with Little Bear in tow.

They raced down the path on the slope of the ridge, headed for the meadow. Little Bear paused at the summit. His body language said, "Wanna go! Wanna go!" But he didn't follow the older dogs. Ghost stopped near the bottom, turned around and stared at Little Bear as if to say, "Well, kid? You wanna join the posse or not? C'mon, there's coyotes to scare!" LB's big flag of a tail arced over his back and he charged down the slope, paws drumming on the ground like a horse's hooves. I watched the Three Caballeros charge off, leaving a line of dust. LB has gotten to the size where you could stuff Ghost and Beauty both into his hide and leave room for lunch. If I were going off to bark at coyotes I'd want him along.

I spent a moment smiling at LB's inclusion before remembering that I'd just sent the three dogs most likely to get me phone calls from the neighbors off into the wild unsupervised. The odds of this not working out well were significant. So I sloped on down toward the driveway in the direction they'd disappeared. Bruno and Redgirl had emerged onto W's porch, but as usual they didn't offer to come along. I walked the quarter-mile or so to the road; the dogs had either had their fun by now and would be interested in coming home, or they were miles away already. Mongo only pawn in game of life.

A few minutes later Beauty popped up over a rise, followed by the other two. They were quite pleased with themselves, and trotted back to me ready to get treats and come lie down for a while.

Just then the sun broke over the ridge. It's likely to be a long day, and maybe a string of them till I get this "combined pack" thing sorted out.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I've gotta pass this on...

It just kept me up past my bedtime.


Check out the "Ask Axe Cop" links - but only if your medication is handy.

Via Tam, whom I may someday forgive.

Oboy, here it comes.

It appears that some guy in Austin just flew his plane into an IRS-occupied building. He left a rambling suicide note on some web site.

It appears only the suicide pilot was killed. There goes civil aviation, what do you want to bet?

I see I got the lyrics wrong...

I remember actually being angry when I first heard this parody, which just shows how naive I was back then. The older I grow, the funnier it gets.

Joan Baez is the name
I've a house by the sea
My songs come rolling in on highway one
Just because I can't be there
Doesn't mean that I don't care
So next time, brothers, off a pig for me.

The road to apparent respectability

Driving on public roads is a problem for me, since my papers are not in order. A simple traffic stop can be a career move, and I avoid them carefully.

It's been this way for many years, but I did get nailed (special circumstances) a couple of years ago and that has made getting caught driving locally a particular problem. Mostly I solve the problem by simply not driving, but that is not always possible. When I can't avoid it, I depend on stealth and obscurity.

In this particular case, I needed to deliver something to a city far away. Getting out of town could be a real hazard, because my face is known to the local po-po and associated with a certain bright yellow Jeep - not a good combination. I am careful not to allow my well-known face to be associated with another, far less conspicuous vehicle.

In that vehicle, heavily-tinted windows rolled up, I can pass through the town at night with almost no qualms. Because it happens so seldom, I always work myself into a good case of nerves over it and always laugh at myself afterward. I spend hours working up elaborate routes circumventing the main drag, then shrug and cruise through the middle of town at the posted limit and nobody ever looks up. I fully understand the meaning of the proverb, "The wicked flee when there is no pursuer." Once I'm away from the locals, I always settle down. Yesterday my gray sedan cruised sedately though illegally past many HiPo speed traps and my heart never fluttered.

Obscurity involves not looking like a raggedy cedar rat in places where such people are not commonly encountered - like where I was going. Small alterations go a long way in that regard. I normally go months without trimming my beard, and since I'm not terribly hirsute that means it's normally ragged and ugly. It fits with my local persona, but not with Unremarkable Traveling Guy. Ten minutes with a mirror and a pair of barber shears takes care of that. My normal attire is military cast-offs and torn t-shirts, but I do maintain a dust-proof suitcase of clean slacks and shirts that only gets used on these forays. Trimmed, bathed, dressed in townie clothes and bereft of my usual bat-belt filled with lethal objects, I FEEL conspicuous as hell but in fact I'm invisible.

Hey, it's all good.


I got back to the property safe last night, and was met in the driveway by W's two girl dogs. Everybody else waited patiently for rescue from Gitmo by friendly forces, but Beauty and Redgirl apparently made an early break for freedom. Judging by the rubble they made of my carefully-stacked line of rocks, I at least made them work for it but they found one big rock they could roll away to expose a narrow space between concrete blocks. Note to self - no more round rocks.

Before leaving on his trip, W had cleaned out his refrigerator and apparently left some aromatic goodies in the garbage that had been much on Little Bear's mind all day. While I was sorting out W's dogs for the night, LB disappeared and would not respond to repeated calls. All black, he can be hard to see at night when he doesn't want to be. I didn't think (dumb me) to check the garbage area, and when LB finally came back he was carrying half a brick of cream cheese in the apparent wan hope that I'd let him keep it. ("It followed me home!")

So all's well. I'm hoping all the upset won't inspire the dogs to new flights of ... flight, but only time will tell. Right now, since I took care of my shit-shoveling duties on Tuesday before all hell broke loose, I've got two days to get the combined packs in some sort of order, prepare for Landlady's arrival on Friday night or Saturday, and generally unwind. W left me some things I need to finish in the barn, but that's a couple hours' work at most.

Ah, home.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The downside of being a hermit...

I've posted this lament before. Once in a while (as seldom as I can arrange) I need to leave my quiet desert home and go to a city. And I always find it terrifying. Today's one of those days.

Since I'm currently responsible for my dogs and W's, I can't stay overnight. It gets damned cold here overnight. Also, the two girls have demonstrated surprising willingness and ability to dig under the Gitmo fence no matter how many big stones I pile around the base. They seem to consider it a 'damage-acceptable' situation, and while I sympathize it does put them in greater danger while all the humans are gone.

So I can't stay overnight, which is both a trial and a relief. A trial because it gives me about twelve hours on the road plus time on target, and I'm not as young as I used to be. I'm unlikely to get home much before midnight, and that thought gave me considerable pause as I was nodding off around eight yesterday evening. A relief because ... well, I really did want an excuse not to overnight in the city. When I leave home, all I want is to go home.

I've often written about the infantilizing effect of on-grid living, how it encourages you to rely on the "big boys" for the necessities of life, how taking on those challenges for yourself allows you to grow up in ways many people can't imagine. I stand by that. But hermitage has its limiting influences as well. I used to navigate the hazards and hassles of city life as casually as most people do. But now they frighten me. I spend too much time in the quiet and solitude of the desert to be comfortable leaving it. What if I get lost? What if the dogs get out and/or get hurt? What if I don't have enough money to cover contingencies? What about traffic cops? What about traffic?

None of that's going to stop me, of course, but it does amuse and dismay me that the questions even arise. In many ways, a hermit's life has expanded and improved me. In a few others, I'm curiously diminished by it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Dispatch from Stupid Nation

"There are so many wrongs/To right with tedious songs..."

Johnny Cougar for Senator?

What do you say to that?

Mr. Policeman is not not NOT...

...Your friend.
It was a scene straight from a parent's worst nightmare: A critically injured son trapped in a vehicle draped with live wires, an anxious father and two police officers described by witnesses as having an "attitude."

The result: A man described by acquaintances as a pillar in his community, a volunteer and foster father known for his parenting abilities, now faces felony criminal charges for allegedly assaulting one of the officers.

Remember the lessons of the Prophet Cartman!

Addendum to the below:

That photo represents a landmark in my Linux use and more time spent than I care to confess to. But this old beardo did get her done.

Paranoid Recluse Checklist:

Item #178: Backup backup caches.

I don't fret much over "bug-out bags" and such, because I'm already where I want to be at The End Of The World As We Know It. Howsomever, in the quiet paranoid reveries of the night one does occasionally break into cold, mucky sweats over what would happen should one's quiet desert home suddenly and without notice become untenable.

Up till now I've done little about this question; small emergency water caches are as far as I ever took it. What if I really needed enough to Get The Hell Hence? These old ammo cases should finally put the question to rest, once I get them placed and stocked.

There's lots and lots of space to stash stuff out there. The question arises as to how one goes about finding it again, since within that vast expanse every bush and rock looks exactly like every other bush and rock. GPS geocaching is no solution, of course, because documentation is not the paranoid recluse's friend. But I flatter myself that after years of extensive walkies with the dogs, there are few people at most who know this area as well as I do. If I can't find my landmarks, my landmarks can't be found.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Hey, you! Citizen!

Get in line!

And now for something completely different.

This MP3 is distinctly NSFW. Also, it's really weird. Dan Rather sued the "creators" over it, which should tell you something about its merits right there. Scroll down the page for the audio.

"But 'states rights' is racist!"

Derek Sheriff has written a wonderful essay on Lew Rockwell titled "The Untold History of Nullification: Resisting Slavery". I highly recommend you read the whole thing.

Public School civics courses, when they mention Nullification at all, invariably tie it to the shameful conduct of the so-called "States' Rights" movement in the '50's and '60's, in which segregationists wanted to use Nullification to turn back civil rights legislation. That happened, and there's no point in denying it. I suspect a number of those segregationists also wore blue jeans, which does not in itself make jeans racist in nature.

Sheriff details the actions of Wisconsin abolitionists, who used Nullification effectively to fight fugitive slave laws prior to the War Between the States. It also mentions Nullification's origins in the Federalist Papers and the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions during the time of the Alien and Sedition Acts. It's a wonderful read.

I don't know what the future holds for the 10th Amendment movement. But I will note here that the efforts of the movement's opponents to tie State Nullification to racism, ignoring or denying its long and honorable history in this country, is very telling against them.

Seriously, RTWT.

You need to work on your impulse control, Rep. Jorgensen.

There's a bill in the Wyoming legislature that would remove the license requirement for (some) Wyoming residents to carry concealed weapons. That's a good thing, no doubt. I understand there's a similar bill in Arizona that might pass. Good thing, too. That's not what I want to talk about.

What I want to talk about is an "argument" against the bill, similar to hoplophobic statements I've heard for years and years.
Rep. Pete Jorgensen, D-Jackson, went further, saying that loosening gun control regulations, except for hunting, would be dangerous to everyone.

"I've been in situations in other countries working where I'm glad I didn't have a gun," said Jorgensen, who served overseas in the U.S. Army. "I've not sure I would've controlled myself."

The (I'm looking for a word other than "argument," because this isn't an argument, it's an admission of personal weakness) goes, "I don't want other people to carry guns, because I can imagine times in my past when, if I'd been carrying a gun, I'd have used it on people who annoyed or frightened me."

Huh. Y'know, I am by no means a paragon of human virtue. But I can't think of a single time I'd ever have shot someone just because of a momentary reflection that the world would be a cleaner/safer/better place without that person. Oh, I've had that thought in the past - plenty. In fact, I can think of a few people I still have that belief about. But they're all still above-ground and likely to stay that way, at least where actions of mine are concerned. And I do carry a gun.

There have been several times when I wanted to knock somebody down for annoying or frightening me, and a few times when I did. Looking back, some of those people didn't really need to get knocked down; I could have just left. But I never shot any of them. I was never (okay, seriously) tempted to shoot any of them. And my impulse control isn't as great as I'd like it to be.

I'm trying to make two points here: First, people don't really do this. Not as a rule. Normal, sane people do not draw guns on one another at every little disagreement. It's a canard that used to get raised every time someone suggested that their fellow creatures be "privileged" to act like non-declawed adults, and reality has shot it down (sorry) every time. Blood does not flow in the gutters when people carry the means of self-defense. It's a lie, and not a very credible one.

Second, whenever someone makes this claim they're talking about themselves, not about me. But the topic is always something they want to do to me. Except for conscription, nobody in the history of this country has ever passed a law forcing other people to carry a gun.* But there sure have been a lot of laws purporting to prevent it, and at the heart of a lot of them have been "arguments" made by sad, fearful little creatures with no impulse control, and who instead of growing up and developing some impulse control, just want to defang all their fellow creatures so that they don't have to fear getting what they deserve. Contemptible.

It seems that one of those pusillanimous creatures has gone and gotten himself elected to the Wyoming legislature.

*There have been a few tongue-in-cheek local laws forcing residents to own guns, but that's not the same thing. Also, I doubt those laws have ever been enforced, but I still think they're bad laws.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

End of an era!

A bad, bad era.

I pay as little attention to electoral politics on this blog as possible, but some things can't be escaped or at least - as in this case - deserve a good swift kick in passing.

This week the last Kennedy in public office announced that he's hanging up his top hat. The newsies can't get enough of the story.

Guy's 42 years old. His daddy bought him a seat in the Rhode Island HoR as a college graduation present, got him into Congress six years later, where the only thing he was good at was bulldozing metric shit-tons of pork to Rhode Island. He's a drunk, a drug addict, a mentally-ill woman-abuser. Any decent politician - if you'll forgive the oxymoron - with his personal deficits would have been quietly shuffled off by his party ten years ago. But he's a Kennedy, so bring on the crocodile tears. How ever will we get along?

What I do find a little sad - to the extent that I can muster any feeling for the guy at all - is that he apparently never wanted to be there in the first place. His dad's barely cold in the grave, and his first public statement in, like, ever is that he's not going to run for re-election. Imagine a person so empty of self-worth that the top priority of his life is keeping Ted fergoshsake Kennedy happy with him. Yeah, that's sad.

I liked Tam's take...

...on the Girard raid in Taxachusetts:
"It's very important to me that when [the po-po] do my junk-on-the-bunk display, folks on internet gun forums will say "Okay, that is an arsenal."

Friday, February 12, 2010

Now pay attention, people...

THIS is how to snark.
The bigger problem, of course, is practical. Regulating precipitation - or even banning it entirely - won't actually stop snow from falling. Virtually all meteorologists agree that, given certain atmospheric conditions, snow will continue to fall from the sky regardless of federal law.

To address this, Congress should appoint a blue-ribbon panel of experts (with at least one labor representative) to study the problem and submit recommendations in four years, at which time a more effective law would be passed.

The committee would be funded by a penny-per-shovel tax. Some might argue that this tax would exacerbate the snow problem by discouraging Americans from buying shovels, but that can also be fixed with legislation. Congress should simply mandate that all Americans purchase shovels.

Yes, there would have to be a Medicaid-style program for those who cannot afford shovels, and perhaps a carve-out for Nebraskans who already own shovels to get Ben Nelson's vote. But those minor details could be worked out in conference committee.


I prostrate myself in chastened servility, Your PeaceOfficeriness. Truly, I writhe blinded by the splendor of your special niche in society.

PS: Please stop protecting me, shithead.

Nothing new here, but still...

Get a load of this.
Since it is unacceptable for people to believe that government agents will carry out paramilitary raids to confiscate firearms, a paramilitary force was sent to Girard’s home to confiscate his firearms.

Now, that's just stupid.

I told you I might drop off the air because of pure cluelessness. When said affliction showed up, it turned out to be so stupid and so simple I don't know whether to be mad at myself or the fools who designed this box.

After W loaded the software on this new pooter, he warned me about an unobtrusive little switch on one of the front corners of the box. "My advice," he said, "is never flip this switch."

You have to look closely to even see it; it's small and black-on-black. If you really squint, you can see that one side is marked "on" and the other side "off". It also happens to be located riiiight where a person might grip the box while taking it on or off the docking port. What it does, for reasons surpassing my poor understanding, is completely disable any possibility of network connection.

I, of course, completely forgot about the senseless little switch until I went crying to W for aid this morning.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

It's the little things...

...that threaten to send you screaming into the street. It's fortunate at the moment that I have no street to scream in.

Wanna really screw somebody up? Just transpose the "OK" and "CANCEL" buttons, as Mint has perversely done. I keep thinking I've revised a setting or saved a bookmark or any of a dozen other little setting-up-house chores, then go back to find it undone because I blankly clicked the first button when I needed to click the second one.

And talk about the little the hell do you open a new file folder? Can any management issue be more elementary? Yet I cannot figure it out.

Not drinking yet. Contemplating, yes, but not drinking.

Gotta go shovel shit now, which for once will be a break.

Here's an interesting viewpoint...

From LRC, Mark Crovelli's article "What Has 'The Union" Ever Done for Colorado?" It's a (biased, granted) history of the many ways and times the Federal government has gotten Coloradoans killed in the name of "protecting" them from threats that, in hindsight, don't seem terribly threatening - to Coloradoans, anyway.

He sums it up thus:
Enough time has passed, and enough Coloradoan blood has been spilled on foreign soil, for Coloradoans to realize that the federal government has not, and never will, protect Colorado from foreign threats. For, the tragic history of the relationship between Coloradoans and the federal government reveals no foreign threats to Colorado except those provoked or imagined by the federal government. The historical record reveals, in other words, a federal government that is itself bathed in the blood of Coloradoans.
He ends his essay with a suggestion that, if we accept his logic, seems perfectly logical:
The time has come for Coloradoans to tell the federal government to go to hell if it thinks it is going to send more Coloradoans off to die in the name of "protecting" them.

The time has come for Coloradoans to secede from the bloodthirsty federal government in order to defend their very lives from their supposed "protector."

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Yay! New Pooter!

And it's a zippy thing! Plus I can actually see the screen.

Unca W spent about four hours loading Linux Mint and associated apps on it, moved all my email archives (a good thing since buried in there are a number of long-forgotten usernames and passwords) and even GPG works!

Mint seems close enough in operation to Windoze that I get more cognitive dissonance from a Mac than from this puppy. I'm having more trouble with the different keyboard action and having to keep my right thumb away from the slightly-differently-placed whatchacallit that you accidentally bump your thumb on and suddenly you're typing four lines up from where you wanted to be. Took my months to learn how to avoid that with the Dell, but today I'm remembering the many curses I cursed.

It'll even play commercial DVDs! I may marry it!

Wow, it's a target-rich morning.

If you can watch this video without fondling your AK47, it's possible you don't understand the situation.

H/T to The Smallest Minority

EDIT: Best Comment Ever - "New lyrics, 'The Green Police...are buried under my shed...'"

Have you ever misplaced a building?

I know...It happens to me all the time. I put it down for just a second, thinking about something else, you know, and then just can't seem to remember...

Hey, but I'm a piker. The state of Florida can't find 18,000 of them.

Where do you get the form?

Attention, South Carolinians! Ever feel like controlling, conducting, seizing or overthrowing the government of the United States, of South Carolina or of any political subdivision thereof? Better pay the 5$ registration fee.

H/T to WOG.

A New! Global! Crisis! YAY!

Global warming er...Climate Change isn't selling so well has been solved by our beloved masters, so but a New Global Crisis Looms! Know Fear! soil, including European and British soils, could vanish within about 60 years if drastic action was not taken.
We need Drastic Action, people! Drastic! Now! Tremble! After all...
"It is not an exaggeration to say that soil is the most precious resource we have got, and... (we) are not up to the task of securing it for our children never mind our grand children."
Seriously, it just never gets old.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

What do you do with a giant pile of horseshit?

No, no. Literal horseshit.

My neighbors that I shovel goat shit for are planning to reduce their goat flock, possibly getting out of the business entirely, and concentrate on horses. They're buying two more mares, so rather than a quick rake-out of one big stall I'll be required to shovel a lot more horseshit in the future. I've no philosophical problem with this, but there's a practical difficulty in that the corrals are quite far from the shitpile and it would take several trips with the little tilt-tub wagon I haul the shit and bedding with. I've only got one leg and it's no great shakes; for me the only part of the job I find hard is pulling that wagon.

I had this idea: what if instead of filling the wagon over and over, I brought the Jeep's trailer and filled it just once? I'd rather fork horseshit twice than have to deal with that wagon. Then I had another idea: I'm already planning to bring composted horseshit home for the garden and the fruit trees, so what if once I loaded the horseshit into the trailer I brought it home rather than emptying it into the neighbor's manure pile? I'm pretty sure the neighbors wouldn't object. It needs to cook for a year or so before it's good fertilizer, but then it's great fertilizer.

I mentioned it to W and he was all in favor, but there is this nagging little question - where do you put a giant steaming pile of horseshit, where it's not so close you have to look at it and smell it but not uselessly far away? It's something I'll need to discuss with Landlady; I've a feeling she might shoot the idea down entirely. She might be right to. After all, I can always get more from the neighbors; they've got mountains of the shit.

Little Bear strikes again

Despite rotten weather, the boys and I took a really long walky this morning. They were deprived yesterday because I had to work, and then I was feeling kind of puny all afternoon so the late walky was pretty short.

I don't know how he does it, but LB is getting good at catching rabbits. Today he scored a big cottontail, too big for even him to eat in one sitting, which caused him severe logistical trouble because we were a good mile from home and he was not letting it go. He kept running ahead so he could lie down and work on it, so the whole trip home he carried a steadily diminishing rabbit with him. When we got back to the property he kept trying to slink off, apparently convinced I'd take it away when we got to the lair. In fact I ended up having to leash him for the last part (he's gotten much better about leashes), then tied him outside until he finished it. Poor guy was soaked by the time I let him inside, because it's been coming down a wet, melty snow all morning, and now the whole lair smells like wet dog. Click was shocked - shocked! - at his condition, and after I toweled him off she made a mighty effort to clean him all over. She hasn't got nearly enough tongue for that, so she eventually gave up and now they're curled up together on my no-doubt very damp bed.

The wind started coming up by the time we got home, and now it's just a really good day to sit and read indoors. The boys are crashed, so maybe they'll leave me alone for a while. They were pretty disgruntled with my mismanagement earlier, but now they've had their fix and all they want is sleep.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

How odd.

Courtesy of David (Don't call me Dave) Codrea's Gun Rights Examiner, this oddity:

Setting aside the unlikelihood of Walt Whitman being happy to find his poem used to sell blue jeans, we have the further incongruity of Levi Strauss, a company whose management has been well-known for many years to be virulently anti-gun rights, should use a poem that reads, in part,
Come, my tan-faced children,
Follow well in order, get your weapons ready;
Have you your pistols? Have you your sharp edged axes? Pioneers! O pioneers!
David points out that more recent inquiry confirms the company is still a big booster of Oxfam, which in turn is still a big booster of the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA), which is welcome to burn in hell while waiting for one dime from me.

Nice poem, though.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Walkies and chores

Moved this morning's walky time up a bit, though it was still pretty cold for poor old Uncle Joel. We've been getting quite a bit of snow, most of which melted yesterday, which means your choices are to walk on frozen clay or melted clay. The first one's 'way better. It's a reasonably nice day and supposed to get into the fifties, so maybe we'll lose some moisture by the afternoon walky.

The boys have been putting up with their increased detention better than I really expected them to. I let Ghost out in the yard for a while only semi-supervised and didn't get any calls from people in Minnesota wanting me to come pick up my dog. They'll be going into Gitmo pretty quick, because W and I are going into town for laundry and the month's gasoline. I went to collect gas cans and found only two empty for all last month, after filling the generator's tank! That's phenomenal! We've needed the generator so little after the solar system's upgrade that we have to remember to use it to fill the cistern. But we're resolved to keep all the gas cans full every month anyway, so to town the empties go. Seriously, though, at this rate of use we could store six months' gas without even increasing the storage capacity. Used to be fifty gallons wasn't enough for two months.

It would be cool if we could go back in time and set up this well the way M did with his last summer. In that case the generator would be nothing but an emergency back-up. But at least for the present that ship has sailed.

It's also gonna be nice when winter ends so we can turn the barn water back on and do our laundry at home (not to mention hot showers). But this winter has been so mild compared to a year ago, I've got no room for complaints on that score.

Whoa! Cool!

So the boys woke me up a little early, hydraulic pressure painfully squeezing them against the lair's door. I let them out, watched them bullet toward the slope, and settled down to the construction of coffee & ciggie. Boot up my poor doomed ol' 'pooter and check the email and blog stats.

Holy crap, something happened late yesterday to suddenly drive traffic here. That usually means I offended somebody, which is always fun. Check the references, and there's a whole bunch of:

Claire What? She's my hero! No way I'm not clicking on that link!

Turns out she wrote a nice plug for TUAK! How'd she even know it existed? Nice! Thanks, Claire, long time no speak!

And welcome to new guests. C'mon in and set a spell. Look around, make yourselves at home! Mi blog es su blog.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

This is a test...

On the subject of my question from a couple of days back about how to compress .avi files from a digital camera.

Regular reader The Grey Lady contacted a friend who goes by "Andy The Chicken" ... no, I didn't ask. He contacted me. I sent him the shortest video clip I could contrive from the camera, shot at its lowest resolution. The size of that file was just under one Meg, as big as I can safely email with my poky satellite connection.

He promptly returned it to me in a different format, now sized 156K. I just got around to finding out if I can upload it to Blogger direct from my poor suffering old 'pooter. It took roughly forever, but it did go. And the result is... whole second of grainy video, and that's straining the hardware to the max. Probably I could do it with useably-long clips if I loaded it to a sharing site, but I don't have the compression software and won't worry about it now. We're gonna put this experiment aside until I get the new machine up and running, and learn the quirks of Linux. Then maybe I'll find out how to compress files myself, and we'll try it again harder.

But thanks, all! This is an education. It turns out (Per Andy) that the reason the files coming out of the camera are so big is that there's no compression at all - the file is saving every single frame with no use of the similarity between frames to keep the file size reasonable. So I'll set this aside and play with it later.

Can you tell Little Bear really doesn't like having his picture taken?

Perspectives on armed adults

I'm sorry - the more I think about it, the less I'm done pontificating on the subject. Bear with me, or just skip over this one.

Maybe ten years ago, in the course of a Usenet (that's "proto-internet," for you youngsters) argument over gun rights, I received the following message. I copied and saved it because...well, because I thought it was hilarious, if you must know.
"You are infringing on the rights of the unarmed people of the US to live a peaceful existence without fear of being gunned down by a citizen carrying a concealed weapon. You are interfering with their right to openly express their frustration if they feel so inclined. Always in their minds is the thought, 'He might have a gun'!"

A few years ago, a friend said to me (paraphrased, since I didn't save a transcript),
It makes me feel safer when you're armed.

So the first commenter did not know one single thing about me other than that I claimed to often carry a gun. Yet she was filled with terror at the mere thought that I or someone like me might be out there somewhere, just waiting to go postal at some carelessly 'open expression of her frustration.' The second knew as much about me as almost anyone knows, and actually felt safer at the sight of a loaded pistol on my belt. I should also point out that my friend is an occasional shooter, while my Usenet correspondent claimed only rarely to have ever seen a gun in her life.

So...(just repeating for emphasis here) a person with knowledge of guns and of me not only didn't get her knickers in a twist, but actually felt safer. The person who practically had a nervous breakdown at the thought, had no knowledge of either subject.

Uh huh.

What the hell does that say about the fearful one? Granting the possibility that my friend was dangerously delusional, it still seems more likely to me that it's my anonymous usenet correspondent who's got her worldview out of whack.

Forgive me, but it's just awfully hard to take people like that seriously. But when they're the ones screaming for laws against what I take as a natural right, I not only have to take them seriously, but in fact I react to them in pretty much the same way they react to me. Only in my case, it isn't driven by propaganda and ignorance. It comes from sad experience.

An interesting experience...

A few days ago W and I went into town. I stepped into the market for some sandwich stuff, noticing as I entered that there was this older (IE, about my age) guy I didn't recognize standing around the checkout lanes, chatting up the register ladies.

W was waiting, so I ran around filling up a little basket and hustled to the checkout. As I approached, the guy threw his hands in the air and loudly said something like, "Don't shoot! I'll marry her!" It took a second to register that he was talking to me, and another to figure out what he was talking about. I finally decided he was referring to my holstered pistol. I didn't say anything, just smiled a little uncertainly. Then, more quietly, he said, "I don't think we need..." he seemed to change his mind at that point - I was no longer smiling - and wandered off toward the deli counter.

The two ladies working the registers looked kind of embarrassed. When he was out of earshot the younger one said, "He sure likes to talk a lot." And that was where we left the incident.

Open carry around town is fairly unusual, but in years of doing it I've never been hassled by anyone or even - before this week - received a negative comment. On the rare occasion anyone brings it up at all it's likely to be a discussion of models and calibers. Most people who carry pistols get concealment licenses, but open carry isn't illegal or so unusual you're leaving yourself open to a "disturbing the peace" charge by doing it.

Truth is, living out in the boonies I carry a pistol almost every waking moment. Some walkies when I don't feel like strapping on a holster, or in winter when a heavy coat makes a holster less practical, I carry a rifle. I don't come to town very often, but when I do I don't take off the pistol. I guess if you do it enough, the whole "gun" thing just loses all its mystique and emotional freight. It's just something you put on in the morning, like your boots or your multitool. It's been that way so long that running into someone who felt strongly enough about it to even comment came as a bit of a shock.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

It's done!

Gods help me now. The new 'pooter's on its way.
Micron Transport T2400 - Intel Core 2 Duo T5500 1.66 GHz - 2 GB RAM - 80 GB HDD - 15.4" Display - DVD / CD-RW - WiFi - Dock - No Operating System Installed
Gotta go shovel goat shit now, to help pay for it.

Tam's right, too!

This is some first-rate snark right here.
When “cry like a little girl” becomes an inappropriate expression because the little girls are handling it better than you are, you know you really do need to put on your big-boy britches.

Huh. W's right.

My sentences do get kind of long and convoluted at times.

I have always depended...

...on the kindness of people who know what the hell they're doing.

At least in computer-related matters. My own competence in such matters has never risen to the level of the abacus, and I'd rather be tortured in a secret Yemeni interrogation cell than reconfigure a new computer. Yet, every now and then...

Well, this time we're jumping out of the plane blindfolded, and that weight on my back might be a parachute or an Acme-labeled anvil.

For the past several years I've been tapping away on a venerable Dell laptop, bought cheap from someone who refurbished a bunch of corporate cast-offs. It's been a faithful friend, but sometimes even the most dependable of friends just dies of old age. It's past time for a replacement, and inertia and finances may have caused me to wait too long. I'm a little surprised every time this old horse successfully boots up.

Also, though I've never been one of those who just hates hates hates Micro$oft on philosophical grounds, I have grown to loath its practices - especially since it decided the copy on my computer wasn't sufficiently "genuine" (no fault of mine) and forced me to work around a "genuine advantage" virus it planted on my machine some months ago and slowed everything to a crawl.

So - and you'd have to know my fear and loathing of new computer stuff to fully appreciate how radical this is for me - I'm kissing Micro$oft goodbye and going Linux. I've been assured this will be utterly painless, an assurance I take with as much salt as every other "this won't hurt a bit" I ever heard in a hospital.

The transition will take several days at least, possibly a couple of weeks. I don't have the "new" computer yet, so there'll be no immediate change. If I disappear entirely, bear with me - it's just my cluelessness at work.

And if there's a computer god out there somewhere, I'd like to state for the record right now I never meant all those horrible things I may have occasionally muttered against him and would appreciate his not holding them against me.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Bohemian Rhapsody as Bluegrass?


But you kind of almost works. It's probably a good thing Freddy Mercury is dead, or this would kill him.

Or...maybe he'd approve. Never met the man.

H/T to WRSA.

Does anybody know... affordable (free) way to reduce the size of an .avi file?

I've been playing with the video feature of this cool digital camera, but even a second or two of video goes ten meg and I can't upload or post it. A video of any length is many times that size. But YouTube videos can run 30 minutes or more. Unless they've got some compression I can't figure out, they must be immense!

I can't even pretend... pay attention to anything as distasteful and patently phony as the SOTU until the editorial remixes start showing up on YouTube.

And after they do my thinking for me, praise the lord I don't have to think about it anymore!

Geez, gotta go back to blankets!

When it got cold a couple of months ago, I was changing my sheets when it came to me that it might be more efficient to just get my cold-weather sleeping bag down from the loft. I generally sleep with no heat on, 'cause why waste propane on the unconscious? But when I get cold, I'm not unconscious anymore. With my mummy bag, I figured, there was no way I'd wake up cold. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

Mostly it works fine. Except sometimes, like last night, I wake up in a shock from some nightmare where I'm trapped and suffocating. I flail out, except I can't because my arms can't move. Instant panic, a wild thrashing as I try to get the damned bag unzipped. Click the cat, who was comfortably curled against my belly, goes flying. The boys, seeing Uncle Joel awake now, decide it's time to go outside even though it's probably only eleven at night. So I've got to convince them to go back to bed before I can compose myself.

Last night was particularly bad; I didn't think I was ever getting back to sleep and was afraid to zip the bag back up lest I slip right back into the nightmare. Usually I don't remember my dreams at all, but I had a terribly vivid memory of being waterboarded by Joni Mitchell. Weird and incongruous on top of the unpleasantness.

Enough already - I remember, every morning after a night like that, why I never really liked that bag. But then it all goes away and by the following evening I stuff myself back into the suffocating fartsack. This morning I'm digging out the sheets and blankets again. Just have to remember to wear a hoody to bed so my poor bald head doesn't keep me awake with cold.