Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Oh look, Alejandro! Our baby's started his own little revolution!

It's so cute and tiny!
Phoenix-based Nuestros Reconquistos claims that there will be a war very similar to the Civil War fought in the next five years. “La Raza and MEChA have already talked to Latinos and Phoenix and explained that Latinos need to arm themselves for war,” says Nuestros Reconquistos President Manuel Longoria.
Hey. Manuel. Over here.

(Puts fatherly arm around Manuel's shoulder) Look over there, kid. See the gun? Now - over at that guy. Gun. The longhair with the goatee? LOTS of guns. That raggedy old beardo with the limp? Don't even THINK about f*cking with him, he'll gut you and can your meat for winter.

See, if you wanna reconquer something for Ol' Mexico, you might wanna start with southern California - they've got laws there against people shooting back. Arizona probably isn't your best place to start.

On Grossman, S.L.A. Marshall, and Sheep (Ratio of Fire)

Tam brought up the work of S.L.A. Marshall, on which many of David Grossman's claims (principally that most people are physiologically and psychologically incapable of harming other people up-close-and-personal) are based. Marshall is famous for his widely-accepted assertion that only a small percentage of even trained soldiers actually fire their weapons in battle, let alone ferociously attack their enemy.

In answer to that lately-questioned assertion, and the highly remunerative programs based upon it, I found this interesting.
A parallel study to Marshall’s interviews, then, fully documented and straight from the subjects themselves [Canadian WWII combat vets] with no intermediary, presents data that is in direct contradiction to that of Marshall. The questionnaire respondents were exclusively Canadian, of course, and they cover a completely different set of subjects than Marshall’s interviews. They also apply only to the Canadian experience. However, Marshall strongly implied that his 15 to 25 percent ratio of fire was a universal condition of modern warfare, and Grossman has been very explicit in his championing of the universality of this phenomenon as a part of human nature. The evidence from the Canadian battle experience questionnaires indicates that non-participation in combat by riflemen was not a problem in the Canadian Army between 1943 and 1945; that infantry fire was usually quite effective; and that if there was a problem with the firing it was always due to too much fire rather than too little. Supposing Marshall was correct with respect to his claims, and there were problems with non-participation in the US Army, then either the Canadian Army was, by Grossman’s reckoning, many times more effective a fighting force (of which there is no evidence) or else claiming the universality of Marshall’s findings is factually incorrect. While it might be going too far to call S.L.A. Marshall a liar, he appears to have simply been wrong in his claims about the ratio of fire.

Although Grossman cites a few other pieces of evidence from military history to support his “killology” thesis, S.L.A. Marshall’s “hard data” is the centerpiece of his argument regarding the inability to kill: most of what remains is either derived from Marshall or anecdotal in nature. Since it is Marshall that forms the core of evidence underlying many of Grossman’s claims about killing in war, there are obvious problems inherent to reading the “killology” literature without reservation.
RTWT. This being the case, Grossman's "sheep, wolves and sheepdogs" metaphor, with its placid flocks of productive citizens all incapable of harming their fellow man in any way and desperately in need of a hard blue shell of professional "warriors," becomes ... oh, what's the word ... ah, yes. Bullshit.

This does, however, leave us with the undeniable reality of quite a large percentage of people who really do seem to fear and loathe the presence of fellow humans who are not defanged. That reality will need to be explained in some other way. Personally, I suggest a look at the "educational" system.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

You've earned a time-out, Kenny. Go to the rubber room.

Kenneth Melson is out at ATF. Fired? Oh, hell no! He hasn't sung about his DOJ masters' role in Gunwalker - at least not publicly - and they'd probably rather he didn't. He was the designated scapegoat from day one, but has proven too ready to play Elvis for them to throw him under a big bus. So now he's "Senior Adviser on Forensic Science, Office of Legal Programs." Whatever the $%^& that is. I'm guessing it's a job without a description.

Your government hard at work - covering its own ass.

More Frickin' Sheepdogs

Sheep dogs are someone’s property and they help control other property. It sounds like a liberal’s fantasy of society. You know, the flock carefully tended and controlled with the sheep dog doing the master’s bidding.
Yeah, over at SnarkyBytes there's a discussion brewing about that offensive "Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs" metaphor.

I can see why cops like the metaphor, it plays directly to the self-image they're encouraged to hold. But I've never understood why so many other people defend it. Every time it comes up, especially if the writer has the temerity to criticize it, people come out of the woodwork to tear into the writer as if Grossman had written the Gospels rather than a self-serving little analogy.

And nobody ever seems to ask, where's the shepherd in the metaphor? Sheepdogs don't work for themselves.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Operation Fast and Fretless

You know your scandal has arrived when Iowahawk starts lampooning it.
Responding to a Freedom of Information Act request, Justice Department officials admitted that the guitars were part of a complicated sting program known as "Operation Fast and Fretless," ostensibly designed to stem traffic of illegal guitars and amplifiers between the U.S. and Mexico. The multi-agency program - involving Justice, ICE, TSA, EPA, IRS, FDA, Fish & Wildlife, USDA, and the Bureau of Whiskey, Groupies & Hotel Rooms - reportedly encouraged border area pawn shops to sell the guitars to known drug kingpins.

Justice spokesman Gary Evans said the Nogales incident yesterday showed the program was a success. "By putting American guitars in the hands of Mexican gangs, I think we've proven what we've warned all along - that Mexican gangs have access to American guitars. Hopefully this will lead to sane and sensible guitar controls."

Somebody let Ian near a Lewis gun.

Video at Forgotten Weapons. Sound quality on this one leaves something to be desired, especially at the beginning. But what the hell? How often do you get to play with a Lewis gun?

QoD: "A Good Crisis Gone to Waste" Edition

He looked crestfallen and fell briefly silent when a weatherwoman told him that the rain was not going to get any worse. “Wow, because this isn’t so bad,” he said. “It’s an annoying rain but it isn’t even a sideways rain.”
- Toby Harnden, Perfect Storm of Hype

Seems it wasn't much of a storm, leaving talking heads unfulfilled and Bloomberg with much egg on his face. Yes there was death and destruction, and I really do try not to make fun of people who just died in horrific ways. But Irene is going to have the Darwin Award judges working overtime. How exactly do you drown in an automobile when Teddy Kennedy isn't at the wheel, and even in the absence of a big bridge? I'm guessing several consecutive mistakes, leading to a cascading state of oh shit.

Okay, I spent a good deal of my childhood in hurricane country and shouldn't laugh at the cluelessness of people who've never seen one. But ... I'm not a perfect person. Crushed in a tent? Whatinhell were you doing in a tent?

Here's a line-up of the known damage by state, if you care. Mordor-by-the-Potomac is still there, which is the only thing I really wanted to check on.

Now THIS is how to play with a ball.

I need to have a word with Little Bear. Boy's letting me down.

I'm gonna hire him out for building demolition.

There's something living under the Big Doghouse in Gitmo. The doghouse is in grave danger - possibly the whole power shed.

I don't know what it is, but Little Bear wants it bad. He wavers like a spiritual seeker between passionate beliefs - one minute he believes that if he only digs enough he can catch it: The next he's convinced that if he stands off and barks at it enough it'll come out to be eaten like a civilized creature. So far, frustration. But he hasn't given up.

He's getting on my nerves. I fully expect to find the building collapsed in ruins - possibly on top of him - when I return from this morning's geiger counters. If it lands on his head, it stands no chance of harming him.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hm. Must be Article 2, Section 5...

"He shall, as the occasion requires, personally Man the National Response Coordination Center to Protect the Citizenry from Hurricayns..."

This has nothing to do with the crap Bush had to take over his failure to protect N'Orleens from Katrina. Nothing at all.

But I thought Obama would be able to stop the hurricane by simply rebuking it? Worked for Jesus.

H/T to KurtP.

On Painting Stuff Green

I have a new project. Yeah, like I need another project, but this one's pretty simple. I'm gonna paint all my AK magazines green.

The reason for this is two-fold: First, a couple of my magazines rusted in the pouch where I keep them, and rust is inherently offensive. A sign of sloth and neglect. I am slothful and neglectful, but there's no reason to trumpet the fact.

The second reason is M. M has a LOT of AK magazines. Cases of them. Dozens, scores - I wouldn't be surprised by hundreds. I'm quite sure he doesn't know how many he's got. I, on the other hand, possess a pitiful handful. A dwindling handful.

No, I'm not accusing the thieving bastard of anything. But my sloth and neglect, coupled with his cheerfully acquisitive nature, is not working to my benefit. If I absently lay a magazine down, there's a highly significant probability that it will lay right there until M sees it. And M, who seems to own as many AK magazines as all the inhabitants of Mogadishu combined, naturally assumes it's his. Statistically, it probably is.

So today, having declared today a Day of Sloth except for some household chores, I instituted Joel's Green Magazine Project. I took the most offensive-looking of my mags, sanded it, cleaned it, hit it with a couple of coats of primer, and then painted the sumbitch green.

Once the paint has had a chance to set up and I reassemble it, I'll carry it around in the World's Ugliest Carbine for a while - just to check the viability of the whole idea. I ... don't possess the most durable camo paint imaginable.

ADDED: Hm! Folk art!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

On Bullets and Belly Laughs

Some time ago, a (strongly!) conservative reader posted a comment that's still back there somewhere. He commented not on any particular post, but to criticize the whole premise of the blog. How could I say the answer isn't bullets? Did I think the Evil Socialist Obama would yield to my devastating laughter?

I don't believe I replied back then, since he didn't sound like he planned to hang around for an answer anyway. But this morning I've been thinking about that, and a couple of points come to mind.

Friday, August 26, 2011

No thank you, Mr. Nagin. I think people will be happier if they work it out on their own.

Hurricane Irene advice offered by former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin

I did not make that up.

H/T to Unc.

The Wash Finally Ran.

For days we've been treated to afternoon thunderboomers, some of which dumped a lot of water. On all sides of us, but never quite here. Until yesterday afternoon. Around four we were the lucky winners.

A desert storm can dump an amazing amount of water in a short time. At least it amazes me. Gullies - dry for years - become brief but enthusiastic waterfalls. All that water works its way to the wash. After the first big dump, I watched water pour into the wash from the ridges on either side - including the one I was standing on. That water ran onto the wash for perhaps a hundred yards downstream from each gully, then soaked into the sand and disappeared. But more would come. Water was collecting, I suspected, on the much rockier and less permeable floor of the canyons upstream. When that water came downstream, it would come in a flood.

An hour later the real storm broke. This time I unplugged my 'pooter, because there was no interval at all between the lightning hits and the thunder. All I could do was huddle, wait, and kinda hope. I've found no damage, though I saw lightning strike the higher ridge to the east. I got a call around 8:30 from my neighbor J, who said there was a fire a mile to his south. In this patchy brush, as soaked as everything is, it's hard to imagine it would have spread much though you never know. I'll get a bigger update later this morning.

The rain fell and fell. It took a while, but the wash finally let go. Not a record by any means, not very deep. I've seen it make much bigger changes in the topography of the wash. But bank-to-bank, and that doesn't happen every year.

It's always pretty cool to watch.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


No more teachers, no more rule books, no more ... geiger counters for a while!

That's what I was promised yesterday. We were DONE! HAH!

Grumble. I'm getting awfully busy for a retired guy. I've got wood to cut (and I still haven't been able to get to town to pick up my saw), people waiting for me to come finish my kitchen and get the lumber out of their barn and workshop, hay to pitch (actually that hasn't shown up yet) and a couple of other paying gigs I don't wanna talk about here. But the one good thing about all of it - none of it involves geiger counters, of which I am heartily sick.

Today it's been overcast all day, so I can't work on the cabinet doors (not enough juice to the batteries.) So I cleaned up the last of the party mess that I can move myself, worked on filling in the leach pit at the Lair, and spent a few hours working for another customer. For tomorrow, I had other plans.

"Had" is the operative word in the previous sentence. Frickin' cell phones.

Frickin' geiger counters.

Look, it's not hard to keep straight. It's just three S's.

He said his son shot one of the bears, then called authorities to notify them of the kill. The other two bears ran off.

He said his son could have just buried the animal and not said anything to law enforcement. He said his son is being penalized for coming forward.
First he did the right thing, and then he turned around and ruined it by doing the "smart" thing. Did he really think government would pat him on the head for reporting the right thing?

H/T to Codrea at the Examiner.

"Once you renounce any sense of decency it just gets easier."


H/T to the Adaptive Curmudgeon.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I dunno what I think about this. What do you think?

Some of the locations they demoed are far too public, of course. But it's an idea I'd never considered. It seems kinda fragile, and I'd sure use a cable. But it does get me thinking of dead-drops that don't involve loose bricks, chalk marks and tiny pieces of paper.

Ian delivers the first one.

As promised, and sooner than I expected to see it.

I should have looked closer at how they were blocking scenes, though. Bastard's pointing a machine gun at my [Landlady's] Jeep! And there's some skinny old guy who wandered on set at one point, I dunno who he is.

Not like it was in the old Corps

Wait. I can:

  • Travel to exotic, far-away lands
  • Meet new, exciting people
  • And kill them

But I can't fart in front of them?

Now THIS is how to deface a sign.

Seen (along with a bunch of others) by ML and Claire.

QoD: "Piss off" Edition

... this is one of my biggest gripes about wading into fact- and data-laden poo-flinging arguments with anti-gunners about crime rates and murders-per-100k and so forth. The correct answer is "Where the hell do you get off thinking you can tell me I can't own a gun? I don't care if every other gun owner on the planet went out and murdered somebody last night. I didn't. So piss off."
- Tam

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Heard in a Geiger Counter Factory...

GC Guy's Mom: "Hey, I just heard there was an earthquake in Washington DC!"

Me: "Was anything nuclear-powered?  We need another meltdown!"

No, I'm not above profiting from the misfortune of others.  Why do you ask?

I admire your refusal to give up your fun, but...

Pull yer head outa the window, fergoshsake!

Go here and click for embiggenment.  See if lols don't ensue.

H/T to Balko.

Good news, bad news.

It seems the Washington Monument is not, in fact, tilting.

Whew.  Sure wouldn't want anything to happen to our masters' monuments.  Especially not the phallic ones, because our masters compensate for far too much already.

Good, Bad, I'm the Guy with the Insecticide.

Look, just because I'm a hermit doesn't mean I'm a gentle monk in harmony with nature, okay?  'Cause I'm not.  Sometimes I'm in direct conflict with nature, and when that happens I like to win.  Usually that involves one-on-one battle in which my single opponent really has no chance to score and may not even know he's in a battle until the .22 cracks or the trap snaps shut.  This time it involved a certain amount of genocide.

I really don't like to kill things, and certainly not in wholesale lots.  But this summer I was invaded by thousands of very industrious ants that just wouldn't be dissuaded.  They swarmed my sink and counter.  I watched them dissect and carry off the body of a horsefly (also killed by yours truly) in minutes.  These guys were positively scary.

I found and treated their entry point.  That kept them away for a day or two, but then they'd always come back in even greater numbers.  I did this again and again, and it just never got the point across.  So finally I followed them outside the RV, across the yard, and found their very extensive nest.  I identified three separate entrances, and then I nuked their numerous little aboriginal asses.

There are ant nests all over the place here - some of them huge, high constructions.  Mostly we coexist peacefully.  I'm happy to do that if they are.  But you really mustn't screw with Old Uncle Doom, okay?

I'm compensating for the fact that Daddy isn't here to defend me anymore*.

Gun Owners: Are You Compensating for Something?

That's a question guaranteed to raise my ire before I even click on the link. Turns out she doesn't mean it in a bad way...

*Also it's hard to get my gigantic penis out of my pants fast enough...

Monday, August 22, 2011

Even if you think they're nosy.

Why would ol' paranoid Joel feel ambivalence about nosy neighbors?
"...when the zombies show up, you want your neighbors to tell you about it. Even if you think they're nosy."

Is it a fundamental right or not? Just come out and scream it!

I haven't paid much attention to the Gunwalker Scandal here, not because I don't think it's important but just because it's so much more competently covered elsewhere.  But this Pajamas Media article that has been getting so much play everywhere makes some interesting peripheral points.
If a right to self-defense actually exists, it is in a very real sense the highest law of the land and all lesser laws must pay it deference. It fundamentally defines the social contract, the nature of the relationship between man and the state.

But if there is no such inalienable right, the entire nature of the social contract is changed. Each man’s worth is measured solely by his utility to the state, and as such the value of his life rides a roller coaster not unlike the stock market: dependent not only upon the preferences of the party in power but upon the whims of its political leaders and the permanent bureaucratic class. The proof of this analysis surrounds us.
I've made my own view on this subject known as unambiguously as possible, and won't belabor it here.

Except to repeat:
[Society] Ain't The Boss Of Me.

I expected this to be more condescending.

When I saw Claire had linked to a NYT article about dollar stores.

I expected the article to be condescending, that is: Not Claire.  She gets it.

I confess with some embarrassment that I was late coming to dollar stores.  Some stupid but deeply-held prejudice on my part, no doubt, that said, "But they're for poor people."

To which the rational response could only be, "Suck it up, Joel.  You are poor."

The little town near our neighborhood has only one supermarket but two dollar stores, which will probably tell you something about the local economy.  I find that entirely appropriate, and the stores are very useful for keeping up stocks of those everyday things that don't really require Full Costco Mobilization and big sacks'o'grain.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Somebody was having fun, though...

You see a picture like this, and you just know fun is about to ensue for somebody.

Naturally it's that bastard Ian. He gets all the fun. While he was gonna be in the gulch anyway he brought some friends and their toys. Expect new videos at Forgotten Weapons in the near future, set in a desert that will be more familiar to TUAK readers. Yes, that's a Bren gun*.

And did I get to shoot them? I did not! Not because they were being stingy with ammo, but just because time ran out and I had to go chauffeur houseguests around for the tour'o'cool houses. Curses!

*Yes, it's legal.

And if you think I was melting down...

You shoulda seen the poor boys.

Ghost just crawled under the sink and refused to come out for any reason less compelling than hamburger - and then he went straight back under the sink. Little Bear got his tail stepped on - I'm not sure he'd ever considered the concept of being stepped on as something that could conceivably happen - went into the dining room, laid down very flat, and gave me an intense treatment of The Eyes. Which either means "It would be really nice if one of those hot dogs rolled off the table," or "I'm very unhappy about this thing I don't understand, and I need you to fix it for me."

Finally around six I called LB to "go to bed," and he moved with alacrity. I didn't even glance at Ghost, assuming he planned to go home with S&L. But he trotted over and followed me up the hill like I was holding his leash. He Wanted To Go Home.

So did I, but I had to go back to the party.

I love my friends very much...

...and I even kinda like their friends. But get them all together in one chattering bunch for a four-hour party, and - OVERLOAD!

It's official. I'm a hermit.

I'm also a day late for shit-shoveling. And I hear somebody approaching the Scriptorium.


Friday, August 19, 2011

I don't need to keep myself humble...

I've got the patented Tam app to do that for me.

Gonna be a crazy weekend.

Got a call from GC Guy yesterday afternoon, and he wants me there today and Monday. A little warning would be nice.

It's gonna be a wild weekend anyway, as Landlady has a "farewell to the building inspector" party planned for Saturday afternoon. Last night I was lounging around in my underwear - one-legged - when people started showing up at my door. Including people I don't even know. My highly competent watchdogs warned me about this right after somebody yelled "Hello." So that was nice, and this morning hasn't been different.

Running to work now, and I don't know what my schedule will be like for ... oh, possibly several days. I'll update as possible.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Review of All the Honor Harrington Books. Even the Ones I Haven't Read.

A long time from now, in a galaxy that's right here, unto us a child will be born. And they will wrap her in swaddling clothes, and lay her in a manger, and they will name her Honor.

Wicked, false, tricksy rabbitses! They stole my Precious!

Beneath this generator is a rabbit - or some large rodent - having a very, very bad day.

I suppose I should go resolve the issue before LB has a coronary, or digs so much he gets a generator on his head...

I see something. So I'm saying something.

I picture Gerald Butler puttin' on his Leonidas face and bellowing a spittle-laden "This! Isn't! EAST GERMANY!" into the face of whoever's responsible for this atrocious policy just before kicking him/them into a big frickin' convenient well.

Want another approach, DHS? Did the creative juices just innocently run dry, and you're thrashing around in the throes of your desperate need to do something to thwart the horrifying epidemic of death and destruction caused by all those domestic terrorists? How about this?

H/T to SnarkyBytes.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Another red-letter day in the Lair's construction!

Of course I'm pleased and thrilled - and shocked - that it all actually went together without a hitch. But what I'm especially happy about is that it doesn't take up nearly as much of my limited floor space as I feared. Knowing intellectually that something's gonna be all right isn't the same as confirming that it is. I had terrible visions of having to sidle sideways between the kitchen counter and the bathroom, but it's actually still quite a comfortable space.

Now! Of course there's still a lot of carpentry to do, but pretty quick I need to make a decision. What color? Whatever color I decide to paint the kitchen cabinets will also go for the other exposed wood, such as the loft railings and ladder.

Libertarians with faith in the system, and their invisible candidate.

Stewart's a democrat, and even HE gets it. The only way Ron Paul is going to get air time is if he brings a submachine gun to a debate - and actually uses it on his opponents.


There's your political system. It's not republicans vs. democrats. It's the BOYN Party vs. all of us.

H/T to Craig.

Linin' up some work.

Got a call from my neighbor D, wanting to know if I'm ready to hang the Lair's kitchen cabinets. Fact is I've been ready for a couple of days, but I have had a problem. I've developed - Yes! Yet Another Phobia!

This is actually a good phobia, though before this morning it was getting in my way. I get nuts whenever I owe somebody money, and I owed D 88 bucks. He picked up some finishing stuff and additional lumber for me last week, I wildly underestimated the cost, and couldn't pay him back right away. He wanted to take it out in trade, but that meant having him carry me until I could do whatever deed he wanted and I can't handle that. I can't handle it because I need his help with the cabinets, but I CAN'T BRING MYSELF to ask additional favors of somebody I already owe money. So, you see, before I could make any further progress on the kitchen I had to pay D back the money I owed him.

Fortunately, this morning I finally got paid for two weeks of shit-shoveling and that put me over the top. D is all hot to get'er done, and he's meeting me at the lair this afternoon. So that's cool. Pix to follow.

I've also got a couple of additional gigs coming up. It's coming on wood-cutting season, and some neighbors want a bunch of juniper. It's also time to start cutting my own, of course, and I've got my chainsaw in the shop for servicing and a couple of new chains. So that'll help pay for the saw work - excellent timing! Probably start that next week or the week after, plus my other neighbor H is getting a trailerload of alfalfa for her horses and wants to hire me to help stack it in their storage container. That's probably going to be a deeply unpleasant gig, but it's cash.

Okay. See, even by my standards...

It's been a good summer for the mice. Which is to say, of course, it's been a bad summer for people who don't especially appreciate the virtues of mice. Click has taken this opportunity to go on some sort of predator sabbatical, or she's joined the Franciscans or something, I don't know, but she's not killing mice with anything like her normal gory abandon. So they're basically everywhere.

People who know me, know that I'm not an ... obsessively clean person. I live in an environment that's more-or-less literally made of dirt. The dirt gets everywhere, and I don't get worked up over it. But I do like my sheets and shirts clean, or at least not actively gritty, so I do wash laundry. Also I'm an amputee, which for various reasons keeps me honest, laundry-wise. And it's Monsoon, which means I need to wash clothes and get them hung out early, because hanging clothes to dry in the afternoon is just poking Murphy in the eye. Which is why I was doing laundry this morning, before shit-shoveling. And the cycle ended, and I pulled the clothes out of the tub, and what should I find at the bottom but a very wet, very dead mouse.

Even by my standards, that was fairly gross. So I removed the cadaver and started the load over. Which is making me late. Which is making me mad, because I've got a lot to do today.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Song in my Head...

This song didn't mean anything much to me in the 'sixties. Many years later, after fifteen or so years of marriage when we didn't really have a thing left in common but before we started admitting it, it got a lot more relevant.

TSA - The Gift that Keeps On Giving

Okay, we all know about the child-groping and the grandma-stripping. But take away the Hands of Blue and TSA goons probably get a lot less creepy, right? I mean, there are non-theater-related things you can do to make airline flight more secure, right? Things that somebody pretty much has to do in these paranoia-ruled days. And with all their databases and lavish funding, the TSA would seem to be the perfect fit for those mundane administrative tasks. Right? Surely the good goons and wogoons of the TSA won't screw up those necessary but non-confrontational things, when they have the luxury of practicing them out of the harsh public light. Right?

More than 10 percent of the TSA’s identification badges have errors that could compromise airport security, a new audit has found.

Omissions and inaccuracies ranging from birthdates and birthplaces to incorrect assessments of security threats abound in identification badges assigned to the approximately 900,000 people who have unescorted access to secure areas of airports, according to a report from the Department of Homeland Security inspector general.

“The safety of airport workers, passengers, and aircraft is at risk due to the vulnerabilities in the airport operator badging process,” the report said.
Oh, just shut the whole thing down and let the McDonald's employment glut get a little worse.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

You know your country is REALLY in trouble when...

The government starts making its cops look like extras in a George Lucas flick...

(No, I gather they're not British. British government never shows this much style.)

Ghost is on the job. Which doesn't mean the job will get done.

Ghost has taken personal charge of that pesky squirrel-in-the-pantry situation. Unfortunately, while Ghost has the size and the speed and theoretically the intelligence to deal with something so plebeian as a squirrel without the slightest problem, he just doesn't seem to have the killer instinct for it. He loves to chase, but the one time he actually caught a rabbit - more or less by accident, and with a massive assist from yours truly - he carried it around for a minute or two and then actually let it go.

Which doesn't mean he isn't delighted that I was thoughtful enough to install his very own squirrel, right in the very barn. It just means I'm not confident he'll actually kill it or chase it out. But he sure is having fun chasing it around.

My greatest hope is that the rodent will grow tired of this rudeness and pack his little furry bags. But in the meantime today I did get some use out of him. I was pretty sure I'd moved all the vulnerable foodstuffs out of the old pantry shelves and into the new, which are located in the part of the Scriptorium that used to be an apartment. It's got a concrete floor and actual doors that close - a much safer spot. There shouldn't have been anything left in the open part of the barn but canned goods and some 6-gallon pails. [Ed Note - Well, I do have a couple of blue tubs in there, and they're not rat-proof. But no sign of damage so far.] But Rocket J. has already found an opened #10 can of dry refried beans and a package of what look like hot peppers - must have been Claire's. Those have now been removed from his reach.

So he has provided incentive to take another look around. I'll give him a chance to leave on his own, able to spread tales of the strange place with horrible food (Dried Refried Beans? Yeash. Who does that?) and great danger.

If he doesn't take the hint, I'm gonna have to kill him.

So I'm sitting in the scriptorium...

Doing a quick catch-up on what's happening with the world before I head on down to the Lair. A movement flickers in the left corner of my eye and I turn just in time to see something tiny and gray-brown disappear at the other side of the wall.

A few seconds later a tiny field mouse, apparently having decided it made a mistake in moving away from the open door, re-appears. It stands staring at me for several seconds - they never seem to blink - as if wondering if it dares move the one foot closer to me it needs to come before it can make a break for the door.

They're cute little things, and truth be told I hate seeing them hurt. But they're almost as destructive as their larger cousins and it behooves me to see them dead on every possible occasion as a warning to their thousands of brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and what-have-you. But all I really want is for them to stay away, so I remained still until this one worked up the nerve to do the right thing. It scampered off through the door and vanished.

There's a big squirrel living under the pallet on which rests part of the pantry that still resides in the wilder part of the barn, and since the dogs can never reach it I'm afraid I'll have to take firmer measures. I'm constrained by the fact that Click has also gotten into the act, but since she usually ignores peanut butter she's probably safe from the T-Rex. I'm just afraid of finding out I'm wrong about that. Decisions, decisions.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Plywood and smooth finishes don't go together. Also, I really hate painting stuff, and I think this is going to take a lot of paint.

QoD: "Daddy Knows Best" Edition

This might be a good time to remind everyone that approximately 233 people re-boarded that plane with assault rifles, pistols, and machine guns–but nothing that could have been used as a weapon.
- Ian Bertram

Are the UK Riots "Anarchy in Action?"

Not hardly, though political "thinkers" of all possible stripes seem to be having difficulty finding a spin that works for them.
If true anarchy is present in the riots, and I believe it is, it’s to be found in ad hoc mutual aid societies springing up in affected neighborhoods. People are coming together to defend each others’ lives and possessions, in the absence of political government’s ability to do so or interest in doing so. Anarchy is not society without rules — it’s society without rulers. And it works, whenever it’s required, or even allowed, to.

Friday, August 12, 2011

No, I won't do it. It's summer 2011, and I won't talk about this yet! No! Oh, all right...

Balko asks the right question...

Why is Rick Perry the Poster Boy for Limited Government?

Seriously, I hear this asshat's praises sung every time I turn on the Intertubez. Did he do something heroically antigovernment one time, and I just missed it? Because he sure seems like the republican version of more of the same to me. Is it the hair? Is the hair really mesmerizing or something? It just looks like political hair, but maybe it's special in person.

Mayberry's taken a closer look at him than I have, and seems equally unimpressed.

Ian seems to have a 3-D printer. Gee, I wonder what he'll make?

In case you're wondering what the hell he's talking about, here's the first video in the series. Yeah, I'm just gonna keep plugging it till I've laid an ob on him.

Oh, this a product for which the time has come!

My stomach hurts. Seriously, I've just gotta get me one of these. If only they were already painted...

Maybe we'll re-do the hat in digital camo...

And here's something that isn't change at all. And I can believe in it.

Fundraisers Already Planned for "Super Committee" members.
Murray, also the head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, is set to host a reception on Sept. 13—just days before the deadline for the committee to hold its first meeting.

A few weeks later, as the panel continues meeting, the compromise-seeking chair of the Senate Finance Committee Max Baucus has planned a fundraiser for his re-election. The event is hosted by the influential National Association of Realtors, a group that would fiercely fight any attempt by the powerful panel to cut the mortgage tax deduction, which was proposed by the Senate’s ‘Gang of Six,’ another recent group working on deficit reduction.

The NAR has spent over $10 million lobbying this year alone, the seventh highest sum among all organizations, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The association is the fourth highest political giver at the federal level since 1989, according to the CRP.

The 12-member committee has an unusual amount of power. Tasked with finding $1.2 trillion in deficit cuts, the panel has until before Thanksgiving to vote on a plan. If they agree to one, it would get fast-tracked through Congress—without the usual obstruction of procedural rules.
Power=money. Money=power. Change you can believe in.

Here's some change I'd be willing to believe in...

Of course I'll believe it when I see it.

A government agency cutting jobs and insurance?
The financially strapped U.S. Postal Service is proposing to cut its workforce by 20 percent and to withdraw from the federal health and retirement plans because it believes it could provide benefits at a lower cost.

The layoffs would be achieved in part by breaking labor agreements, a proposal that drew swift fire from postal unions. The plan would require congressional approval but, if successful, could be precedent-setting, with possible ripple effects throughout government. It would also deliver a major blow to the nation’s labor movement.

In a notice informing employees of its proposals — with the headline “Financial crisis calls for significant actions” — the Postal Service said, “We will be insolvent next month due to significant declines in mail volume and retiree health benefit pre-funding costs imposed by Congress.”

During the past four years, the service lost $20 billion, including $8.5 billion in fiscal 2010. Over that period, mail volume dropped by 20 percent.
Hey, USPS? Say hello to your fellows from the buggy whip industry while you languish in the unemployment line. And if you could take some of those junk mail printers with you when you go? That'd be cool, too.

Not that junk mail - or any other sort of mail - has been a big problem for me lately. But I have memories.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I dunno if it's a good start, but it's certainly surprising.

Pennsylvania Judge Gets 28 Years in 'Kids for Cash' Case

And he's a weasel all the way down:
"I blame no one but myself for what happened," he said, and then denied he had ever incarcerated any juveniles in exchange for money.

H/T to Walls of the City.

It's made of metal. What's gonna catch fire?

All the country's serious problems having been dealt with, the Statue of Liberty gets (yet another) safety makeover.
The Statue of Liberty will close for a year at the end of October as it undergoes a $27.25 million renovation that will make the interior safer and more accessible, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced Wednesday.


The National Park Service, which manages the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island, said it will close the monument on Oct. 28, after the 125th anniversary of its dedication.

It will be closed the following day, and workers from Joseph A. Natoli Construction Corp., of Pine Brook, N.J., will install "code-compliant" stairways and upgrade electrical and fire suppression systems, elevators and bathrooms.

"But I've gotta go to the bathroom NOW!"

"Just cross your legs harder.  NPS says it'll re-open her any day now."

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Propaganda Fail

All tactics have rules, determined simply by what works, and propaganda is no exception. Clearly, as in this case, if you can get your target to stand still in front of a camera, you want to goad him/her into blurting the line you're looking for. In that matter our unidentified activist succeeds, in that she gets her soundbite: "If you scare me, your rights don't matter." That's not something you normally like to hear from somebody charged with enforcing the law (and - in theory - the rights of the innocent,) but frankly when coupled with the proviso "if you scare me" it's not the most outrageous thing I've ever heard a cop say. To be honest, if you scare me I'm not gonna give much of a shit about your rights either.

But the idea is to get your target talking. Then stand back and let him hang himself for the camera. This lady is already in full rant mode before she gets her quote, and just can't bring herself to shut up afterward. The emotional reaction I take away from the clip isn't aimed at the cop, but at her: "Lady, shut the &^%$ up!"

And for all that he does misguidedly supply the quote, the cop wins the round. She finally runs down. He allows a significant silence to ensue. Then: "Are we done?"

"Yeah. We're done."

And so we are. He looks like a patient, harassed guy with a camera in his face, and she looks like a harridan who won't shut the hell up and let him do his job. I'm pretty sure that's not how that was supposed to go.

H/T to The Grey Lady.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Understatement of the week

Seen via Balko, who concentrated on a most painfully entertaining euphemism:

Lopez said agents handcuffed him and ran him 10 feet across the living room, slamming him into a wall. The 3-foot crack and collapsed drywall remain, covered now by a calendar.

"I felt like they didn't respect me," [he said]

Of course everything you need to know, citizens, is located in the very first paragraph.
Federal immigration officials say an internal investigation of 12 incidents of alleged abuse and illegal conduct - including one in which a Cincinnati family claims its Fourth Amendment rights were violated - clears its agents of any wrongdoing.

For the record, should you find yourself wanting one...

This Product Is Stupid.

Seriously, it's like something you'd see in the back of an old comic book, in between the X-ray Specs and the Sea Monkeys. It won't help you. It labels you as having a bad case of mall ninjaitis, and a rather juvenile form of the disease at that.

It reminds me of those people I used to meet, who were so proud of their privilege to carry concealed weapons "legally" because they'd scored "Police Creds" for themselves. That was contemptible, but at least it did give them some practical benefit. This is just stupid.

If you find yourself wanting one, seek the help of a friend who'll give you a good swift slap until you change your mind.

On arriving at the fringes of a town, from a sun-baked quarry...

...My neighbor L announced that her faltering metabolism desperately required a Slushy, Right F'ing Now. I didn't hear anybody argue. That particular confection wasn't my favorite thing even when I was a kid, but a cold drink certainly seemed like a good thing. The few sips left in my canteen were positively hot.

So we turned left toward a convenience store, rather than right into the desert. We had spent ten hours moving rocks in the hot sun, including travel time, and none of us were at our best. Pawing through big piles of rock is a good way to make the acquaintance of scaled and fanged bad guys, and everybody was quite openly armed. And filthy, and sweat-encrusted, and not in the best of moods. It must have looked like an invasion of the hole-in-the-wall gang on a particularly bad day, and I can well imagine the effect our arrival might have had on the inhabitants of more genteel spaces.

Hardly anybody even looked up, including the cop who was hanging out at the soda dispenser. Which is one reason I like it here.

Oh, oh, oh.

My back hurts. Not as bad as it deserves to hurt, but yeah.

That was the hardest $50 I ever earned, as far as I can recall.

My demented neighbors D&L, the ones with the straw-bale house, needed some sandstone for interior accent walls. So we just went and got two trailer loads.

Which is like saying, "I detonated the atomic bomb, and it was rather loud."

Anyway, that's where I was yesterday. Sorry about the no-post thing, but I made a choice between you guys and a bathtub, and you guys lost.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Maybe I'll get Grandatter a rifle. Maybe I'll just stand over her with a rifle.

Insty's right - Let's take this one viral.

%^$#! Tractor.

Two weeks ago we pulled the injector pump out of Gulchendiggensmoothen. I told M I didn't know enough diesel-fu to be sure that was the problem, only the fuel was going into the pump just fine but didn't seem to be coming out with any enthusiasm. M took the pump to the city, got it rebuilt, and all he could learn was "a part was broken."

So we installed the pump this morning. Got it all hooked up, it didn't cause us much trouble. Bleeding the fuel system, the always-balky starter solenoid decided to pack it in once and for all. %^$#!

Pulled the starter off, so that M can take it to the city...

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Heh. I know what cognitive dissonance is. Is there such a thing as architectural dissonance?

I've been planning to tile the Secret Lair's kitchen counter. I think I already have enough tile for that, and it would match the woodstove surround and what I plan for the floor.

But Landlady has been following the kitchen's adventures on the blog, and this morning she asked, "What do you think about black granite?"

Under other circumstances that would be a very strange question. But it happens that there's a whole bunch of black granite countertop in the barn, where it's sat for years since it got demolished out of a fancy house in a city many miles away. Landlady always planned to use it in her own kitchen and still does, but the Meadow House used to be called the "Guest House." Her kitchen plans aren't as extensive as they were when she was married to a living guy.

And I've considered it all through the morning while shit-shoveling, and can't decide quite what I think about it. It just doesn't seem to fit.

I mean, here's the Lair. Granted it'll look better with some stucco and yard cleanup - we're not talking Snuffy Smith here. But still...

And here's a granite countertop...

Let's try that again. Cabin:



Which might not stop me from doing it.

I guess the jury just didn't understand how dangerous a cop's job is.

They threw the book at those Danziger Bridge cops. Took long enough, and I'd have preferred summary executions for murder under cover of authority, but that's just me. Poor babies sure didn't get their wrists slapped.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Symptom of not thinking it through...

A thought just popped into me head.

I know a perfectly nice lady who works at the DMV...and probably thinks she's performing a public service.

Weird, huh?

So when they say they're monitoring those who 'advance violent extremist narratives...'

...Are they talking about al Qaeda or DHS?
DHS's National Operations Center "will monitor activities on the social-media sites" using search engines, aggregators, and other tools, last year's announcement said. "The NOC will gather, store, analyze, and disseminate relevant and appropriate de-identified information to federal, state, local, and foreign governments, and private sector partners..."

In addition, the Electronic Frontier Foundation unearthed documents showing that DHS officials were sending "friend" requests to people applying for U.S. citizenship. DHS conducted extensive monitoring of social networks during Obama's inauguration.

In 2009, CIA investment arm In-Q-Tel invested in Visible Technologies, which monitors millions of posts on social-networking Web sites, Wired reported. Tax collectors, too, are "nabbing scofflaws by mining information posted on social-networking Web sites," according to The Wall Street Journal, and the FBI has previously supported legislation that would allow federal police to monitor the Internet for "illegal activity."
'Cause, y'know, there are some entities right there who certainly demonstrate violence and extremism, and ought to be carefully monitored. You can tell'em from the way they go by three letters*. The way all assassins have three names.

*Yeah, I know. In my heart, it'll always be ATF.

There's a story here...

But I think we're gonna have to get the rider drunk before he's willing to tell it.

And maybe pay for his dental work, so he can enunciate again...I see something like that and even before I start cussing whoever left the cover off, I think "Full-face helmets are good."

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Last Part Done.

Lookin' good. Now for the part I really don't like. I've got some puttying to do on knotholes and such, sanding sealer, and sanding. Paint. I hate paint, but sometimes it's inevitable. Probably hang them before I actually paint them, but all that other stuff has to be done first.

Get'em hung, then there's drawers and doors to make. This is the sort of project I find (especially) easy to procrastinate on, so I've got to stay with it. Makin'em was kinda fun, though.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Anybody speak Latin?

I'm hoping to get a coat of stucco on The Secret Lair before winter, which means I need to order its sign. Every secret lair has a sign. Doesn't yours? I've been carrying around this card from this company that makes sandstone signs, and I want one that says "The Ultimate Answer to Kings." In Latin. Gonna plant it in the stucco.

Trouble is, I don't speak Latin. The closest I've seen, as far as I know, is "Ultimum Responsum Regibus." But like I said I don't speak the language, so I can't vouch for the accuracy.

Anybody know?

Didn't get much carpentry done...

Got a call from my neighbor H this morning: "Are you coming over to shovel stalls today?" Well, yeah, guess I'd better do that if I want to keep the gig. Which I definitely do, because GC Guy told me we might be out of the geiger counter business except intermittently. So I shoveled shit, then got over to D&L's later than I'd planned.

Only had this one last small and simple cabinet to do, and the plywood for it was already cut out, so I figured I'd knock it out pretty quick. But an hour into the project D came in and said, "I gotta shut you down." I asked why, and he just pointed out the window. Big, low, dark clouds from horizon to horizon. D's shop works miraculously well when the sun's shining, which of course is most of the time except during Monsoon. But for some unfathomable reason they didn't want me using up all their finite juice.

So the boys got out of Gitmo early today, which just devastated them.

Everybody needs a suit of plate armor, Daughter.

Not sure why, but it's true. I know I've always felt the lack.

Daughter tries on a friend's (ill-fitting, for her) armor. All home-made. People do the damndest things, but some of them are cool.

Okay. Here's what we do...

We gather up all the militant "Your imaginary friend is stupid" atheists and all the off-their-meds "rape the unbeliever" "Christians." We get them all together in one spot. With me so far?

Okay, here's the good part. We put them all together in one big room. Seal the door with big, heavy stones or something. I mean really seal it good. Leave them in there till one side exterminates the other side. Then for the winning side, we refuse to open the door. Just kinda forget that room even exists, forever. Probably shouldn't pick a room that's just off the foyer, because that would be inconvenient.

Who's with me? Who's bloody with me?

H/T to Tam.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Making Nice Progress...

Coming along nicely. This main part is ready to hang. Tomorrow, the smaller cabinet over the stub counter. That should go together pretty quickly, because almost everything's already cut out and routed. Then we hang them and mount the counter base. Then...drawers and doors.

I learned a new extra-scary thing today: Ripping 1X2 lumber. As far as I can tell, you're pretty much supposed to leave fingers on the table.

Oh...if you're wondering about the teeny-tiny cabinet on the right: It was that or not have any usable space in the cabinet it butts up against. I figure it's good for small spice bottles and rifle magazines.

William Grigg on "Rogue" Cops

This is good.
That this was a gang-involved murder is indisputable. With all proper respect to Ron Thomas, however, the grieving father is desperately wrong about one detail: The murderers were not “rogue officers.” Once the gang assault on Kelly began, practically the only thing that could have saved his life would have been the timely intervention of a rogue officer.

Okay. This takes class.

I know - I've got readers who always complain that they can't download videos. Go someplace where you can and watch this. Do not take a mouthful of coffee before you hit Play. NSFW, BTW. I'm still chortling - and yes, I'm gonna burn in hell.

I can't watch it without thinking of the one time I came close to an "I just [bleep]ing shot myself" moment. For a second there I genuinely thought I had. (the bullet hit a rock, the rock hit my foot. It was many, many years ago.) Yes, my finger was where it doesn't belong, but that's very easy to do during holster drills, which is one reason for drills in the first place and is why Tam is always harping about not fiddling with the thing while it's in the frickin' holster.

I would NOT have made this video, nor consented to its existence. It requires a level of class I do not possess. If the video was made without the consent of Mr. "I just [bleep]ing shot myself," that also requires a level of class ... I do not possess. Which doesn't make it any less funny, alas.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Kitchen Continued

Sorry about the crappy photo, I forgot my camera. This is the bones for the main part of the overhead cabinets. I've got everything cut out except the 1X2s, but they'll only take a moment. This bit goes over the window and sink, of course.

I screwed a couple of bits up, dadoing on the wrong side of the plywood. But I'd pretty much already determined I'm gonna have to paint it instead of staining anyway, so in the end it won't matter. Much.

Better photos tomorrow, when it's done.

Relax, Citizens. It's for the children.

From Cory Doctorow:
Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee voted 19-10 for H.R. 1981, a data-retention bill that will require your ISP to spy on everything you do online and save records of it for 12 months. California Rep Zoe Lofgren, one of the Democrats who opposed the bill, called it a “data bank of every digital act by every American” that would “let us find out where every single American visited Web sites.”
Don't worry, though. It'll only be used against bad* people.

*Definition of "bad" subject to revision without notice.

I want a job where I get to take stuff from people at gunpoint and call myself the "good guy."

Wait. No, on second thought I don't. When I was a kid they called that armed robbery. Now it's called "police work."
"Any money seized ... is subject to forfeiture," said John Gill, special counsel to Nichols . "If we say gambling occurred, regardless of whether we prosecute a specific person, we can seize the property and the money."

In lieu of arrests, authorities still must take a detailed inventory of everything they took and who they took it from.

"If they've got 10 players around a poker table ... they have to give a receipt to each person saying, 'This is the amount we took from you,'" explained Knox County prosecutor Sean McDermott. "They can't just do a blanket total."

Then, the seizing law enforcement agency typically will file a forfeiture warrant with a local magistrate within 5 working days, laying out why there's reason to believe that the money or whatever else was being used as part of a criminal enterprise, McDermott said.

From there, the seized items may become evidence in a larger indictment. Or, in the absence of making a criminal case against someone, the DA's office files a complaint in civil court, arguing that the seizures be subject to forfeiture.

If it's the latter, things proceed much like any other civil case — the owner of said cash/property/poker table has 30 days to file an answer. If the person can prove they are, in fact, the owner (it helps if they signed that receipt,) then he or she can make their case to a judge that their cash and/or belongings were not being used as part of any crime and should be returned. And the state has the burden of proving otherwise.

That's the process, anyway.

"But they never do that," Gill said. "Most people don't want to come in and go through the public embarrassment.
Oh, I've a feeling it goes well past "embarrassment." The very people who profit from this legal theft also get to set all the rules concerning how much hassle and time the process involves - and the chances of success. Win/Win!

UPDATE: Claire reminds me that there have pretty much always been cops who were shakedown artists. True. Most of them at least used to have the grace to hide it behind figleaf rules, though. Now it's policy.