Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi...

...I exist, and I find it nauseating.

Okay, so yesterday I went out to collect firewood, right? And there's this big dead tree halfway down one of the wash embankments that's been mocking me. And I had all sorts of trouble with the chainsaw, which ... well, they need to be cleaned from time to time or they develop bizarre behavior problems. So I went home, cleaned the saw and got it working right.

And there's this big dead tree halfway down one of the wash embankments that's been mocking me. And I've already cut all the easy limbs off it, and so now I was working to free up the big, valuable ones whose ends are buried in the sand. Which of course means the whole weight of the tree is resting on them, so just about the time I got the first cut made in one of those big limbs the tree would slide down about an eighth of an inch, neatly trapping the chainsaw bar so that I thought I'd have to abandon the bar and chain at one point. But stubbornness can be your friend, except when it's your enemy, so I managed to get two of the big limbs off the tree and into the trailer, leaving the one that was holding the rest of the tree up, and ... well, you probably know what happened when I cut through the last one.

The good news is that I wasn't killed. If that was good news, because I took a loverly tumble down the embankment, and of course my first concern was the fact that I was holding a working chainsaw at the time, so I wasn't too focused on where I was going to land. Shouldn't have mattered - there was nothing down there but soft sand and it wasn't much of a drop.

Well, there was nothing down there but soft sand and a whole bunch of jagged tree limbs I'd industriously cut off to get to the big stuff. Ouch.

Bloodied but relatively unbowed, I went home and cut up what I had on the trailer. I'll try the tree again from above, next time.

And then I'm sitting in my chair with a good book and an adult beverage, and it's getting dark. The boys have had their time outdoors, and all should be well. And Little Bear is lying next to the door, which is where he usually lies in the evening, and he's staring at me.

He's just really fixedly staring at me.

And I should know by now that that's more important than he's making it look. Because the next thing that happens is that there's this truly horrible smell, and LB voids about a month's worth of what should really, really be done outside.

Over the course of the very long night, he does it three more times. I only successfully got downstairs quick enough to let him out once. Note to self: Paper towels.

So all morning I feel like a zombie, and I'm in a really foul mood. I'm yelling at the boys for things they didn't really do wrong, and feeling bad about that, and nothing is going quite right and it's just cloudy enough that the inverter's weeping about having to run the 'pooter and everything's taking twice as long as it should, and it's shit-shoveling day so I pack them up to take them to Gitmo.

And the trailer's still on the Jeep because I need to get more wood. And bouncing down the ridge road the hitch comes unstuck, and starts dragging and crashing into the Jeep then dragging more, and the dogs freak out, and...

Some days...

Wrong Finger.

Getting it right, doing it wrong

I have a family member who was in the navy, back in the 'sixties. They put him in one of those big missile submarines that submerged off the coast of Scotland and didn't see the light of day again for three months. It was all very hush-hush.

He tended the nuclear reactor. This made him a most valuable commodity when he got out, because commercial nuclear energy looked like it was going to be big at the time and trained reactor operators weren't exactly thick on the trees. He could have named his own ticket: I saw one of the headhunter letters. It was impressive.

And on the occasion that I saw it, he laughed, crumpled it up and threw it away. At the time he was fixing municipal traffic lights for a living and preferred to keep right on doing it. "I'd never go near one of those things," he told me. "Too big, too complicated. Every one is a disaster waiting to happen. Reactors are perfectly safe if they're small and modular, like on a ship. Scale them up the way the power companies have, and they're so complex something's got to go wrong."

History is on his side. The reactor at which he was offered the job was a place that later became famous as Three Mile Island.

Point being, he was certainly entitled to an opinion on the desirability of nuclear energy, and he was all in favor of it - but not the way it was being done. I thought about him this morning, after my own electrical power came up to the point where I could surf on my 'pooter using my home-made solar electric system with its scrounged and cobbled-together parts, the system that sort-of powers my little hermit's lair. The reason the subject came to mind is an article titled "Do Wind and Solar Work?"

The writer's answer to the question seems to be "no."
Slowly, information is leaking from nations that have spent heavily on wind and solar, such as Germany. This information should give pause to those touting solar and wind, including politicians. England is pulling back from wind, Germany has announced drastic cut-backs on its subsidies to solar, and Spain has announced the elimination of subsidies for renewable power. These actions are not the result of success. The erratic nature of these sources is well established. Further, electricity is rather unique among energy types – it cannot be stored on an affordable, commercial scale. [emphasis mine]
Reasons given for the failure are convincing, but the article is asking the wrong question. I've got neighbors for miles around who, if asked the same question, would answer "absolutely yes." It works for them, just as my scrounged and improvised solar works for me and I don't even know what I'm doing. But on a large-scale commercial basis, the answer is unequivocally no.

Design a means of generating electricity that would work marvelously well for individual households, and you free those households from dependence on a centralized grid. To those who think in terms of being "deciders," this is very clearly not a solution to any known problem. The problem is how you scale it up to augment the centralized grid, because of course the grid - like all solutions to all problems - absolutely must be centralized. All answers to all questions must involve dependency, or they're not answers at all.

And so once again we see billions of our own dollars, stripped away from us without the slightest hint of consent, poured down a rathole and/or into the pockets of well-connected charlatans.

But this time they made a mistake. All that R&D money did some good this time. Household-size fusion reactors will probably stay forever the stuff of wistful science fiction, but the wind and solar genie is free and gleeful in the real world and it's not going away. Prices have come 'way down for equipment that works ten times better than it did a decade ago. I'm living on the dregs of it, so don't let my travails influence any decision you might make. Wind and solar power has its problems, for sure. But it's practical, and it's more-or-less affordable, and it's here. Off-grid living can be a lot more comfortable than it used to be, and it's available to you.

We'll probably hear quite a lot more about the failures of wind and solar, with the next political administration. Do yourself a favor and don't listen to lies.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Yes, we're much safer now.

If you go on Twitter and say, 'I'm going to destroy America and dig up Marilyn Monroe,' I suppose you'd better mean that.
Leigh Van Bryan, 26, was handcuffed and kept under armed guard in a cell with Mexican drug dealers for 12 hours after landing in Los Angeles with pal Emily Bunting.
And let me guess. She then went on Twitter and gushed, "Best! Weekend! EVAR!" Or however an English chick would say it.

Question, though: How many "Tweets" are there on an average day? Millions? So did DHS have some reason to monitor this particular moron specially, or are there really keyword monitors set to catch "destroy America?" Would somebody really say that, if they meant it?

I'm just asking. Because if I were going to destroy America* next Thursday, I think I'd call it "step out for a pack of cigarettes" or something when I Tweeted about it. Just to throw the feds off the trail, y'know?

Dear god. I just used "tweeted" in a sentence.

Beam me the hell up, Scotty. Please. I'm begging you.


*Private to DHS: I'm not going to do that. It's a week from Tuesday.

I think breasts are nice too, but...

...that one may be taking things a little far.

No, seriously. It's exactly what it looks like, and you just have to go see for yourself.

The Caging of America

Via Claire, I saw this morning a rather long article on the extremely high rate of incarceration that Americans have grown used to.

The article goes off in too many directions to fisk here with any degree of thoroughness, and I strongly suggest you go read it yourself. A few points, though...

First, it does point out one horrifying explanation for the three-fold increase in prison population (per 100,000) in the past thirty years:
a growing number of American prisons are now contracted out as for-profit businesses to for-profit companies. The companies are paid by the state, and their profit depends on spending as little as possible on the prisoners and the prisons. It’s hard to imagine any greater disconnect between public good and private profit: the interest of private prisons lies not in the obvious social good of having the minimum necessary number of inmates but in having as many as possible, housed as cheaply as possible. No more chilling document exists in recent American life than the 2005 annual report of the biggest of these firms, the Corrections Corporation of America. Here the company (which spends millions lobbying legislators) is obliged to caution its investors about the risk that somehow, somewhere, someone might turn off the spigot of convicted men:

Our growth is generally dependent upon our ability to obtain new contracts to develop and manage new correctional and detention facilities. . . . The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction and sentencing practices or through the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by our criminal laws. For instance, any changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them.

Brecht could hardly have imagined such a document: a capitalist enterprise that feeds on the misery of man trying as hard as it can to be sure that nothing is done to decrease that misery.
Further on, though, it raises (and purports to answer) a question that has always interested me: What accounts for the dramatic decrease in violent crime in this country since the 'seventies? People in favor of the Prison State point to the dramatic increase in prison population, and ask "what's the problem?" In the context of the article, it's an interesting question.

The reason it's interesting is that different interest groups point to different possible causes for the decrease in violent crime. Gun-rights advocates, of course, point to the increase in concealed carry and its social acceptability. Predators find other lines of work, say these folks, because it's safer to do so. Maybe, to some extent.

Except the last part of the article spends a lot of time examining the violent crime rate in New York City, which has decreased at a rate roughly twice that of the rest of the country, and as we all know you're safer getting caught with a knapsack full of crack in NYC than with a handgun. Gun ownership certainly doesn't have anything to do with violent crime rates in NYC, or it would be through the roof. This is the principal reason I've always been very leery of using violent crime stats as an argument in favor of the right to keep and bear weapons - I hate it when anti-rights people misuse statistics, and I'd hate to get caught doing it myself.

And as the article points out at length, rates of incarceration don't seem to have anything to do with it, either, because the incarceration rate is lower in NYC than the national average.

So why, exactly is the incarceration rate so high, and why are so many of the prisoners inside for non-violent crimes?

Mostly, it seems, because it makes certain people feel better. And (the article doesn't go here) maybe this is one of those things Ayn Rand was right about:
There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.

Grandatter finds a use for a washtub...

It's for playing in, of course!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Musical Sunday...

What the hell, I've got nothin' going on upstairs today.

I used to play this song a lot, back around twelve years ago when my marriage was breaking up. As with much of Orbison, I label it "Music to Brood in the Dark by."

I may be obliged to defend
Every love, every ending
Or maybe there's no obligations now
Maybe I've a reason to believe
We all will be received in Graceland.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

"If only they were better writers."

I've been struggling my way through The First Circle, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.


Maybe I just need to go ahead and accept the fact that I'm not intellectual enough for these guys. In examining Libertarianism, years ago, I dutifully slogged through Hayek and Mises, Nozick and Garrett. Rothbard, LeFevre and Read, oh my! I assumed, naturally, that the fact none of it taught me anything or made me anything but sleepy was entirely my fault. If only I were smarter. If only I had more education. Secretly, in that part of my heart I keep from expressing while confessing my faults at Party meetings, I thought, "If only they were better writers."

I'm aware that the writings of academics are supposed to be turgid and opaque, because only thus may the reader confront and hopefully overcome his own faults. The Emperor's New Clothes are a marvel of dazzling beauty, if only you could see them. But such things are not for hoi polloi like me. The older I get, the less it bothers me.

Sometimes it's right out in the open, as with Atlas Shrugged. That book is a shibboleth for separating true Objectivists from false ones, because the true ones claim to believe it's great literature and nobody else is expected to believe it's anything but wooden drek with a great idea or two buried in a metric shit-ton of manure. Tell the truth: When you finally got stoned enough to actually read all eighty pages of the Galt speech, did you really hope to find anything unique in all the repetition? Yeah, I did too.

Okay, sure, but that's Rand. When it's a writer we're taught to take seriously, angst sets in. We assume the fault is in ourselves. C'mon, admit you read the whole Gulag Archipelago and didn't accomplish anything but finding the context for the "how we burned in the camps" quote. And getting really, really depressed, not so much because gulags are bad things but because you must be some kind of dolt.

I confess, comrades, that Archipelago is the only Solzhenitsyn book I'd ever read before this past week. I came on a tattered copy of The First Circle in a box of M's books, and figured I'd give it another go. It's been a very mild winter, and I needed to feed my masochism some other way. And I will say that The First Circle is not nearly as deadly a read as Archipelago. But if you read it as fiction rather than political commentary, you run the risk of heresies like "I thought Solzhenitsyn was supposed to be a great writer." Fiction has rules, after all, and for the most part they're very useful rules, put there for a purpose. Pacing, for example, is considered important because proper pacing will keep the reader turning pages and prevent him from slapping the damn thing shut and going out to mow the grass because that's less work. Solzhenitsyn doesn't seem to have approved of that rule.

On the other hand the book does have a few stunted little ponies buried in the horseshit. Giving up on the hope of entertaining fiction and reading it as allegory, one finds the story of the janitor Spiridon, as dogged a peasant as was ever born. To escape conscription in the Red Army, he joins a bunch of guerrillas calling themselves the Greens, who are promptly conscripted by the White Army. More-or-less voluntarily turning himself over to the Red Army as a POW in hopes of escaping the White Army, he finds himself fighting for the Red Army after all. He even manages to become a commissar of sorts, briefly. And so it goes: He's taken prisoner by the Germans, who actually treat him quite decently, and upon repatriation is promptly arrested as a traitor for having fallen prisoner. All the time his only actual objective was to keep his family somewhat together, because he doesn't give a leaping shit about any of these people. And in the end, everything having been said, he sums it up thus:
Therefore he was obliged to say to all the kings, priests, and promulgators of the good, the reasonable, and the eternal, all the writers and orators, all the scribblers and critics, all the prosecutors and judges who made Spiridon their business:

"Why don't you go to hell?"
Heh - truth is, that was sort of worth the trip. But if I judge the book as fiction, I still face that fact that the delightfully horrifying little storylet is just one of many stumbling blocks in what I presume is supposed to be an overall narrative of some sort.

Dammit, good fiction exists. I saw it once. But it sure wasn't "political" fiction. Writers with a "message" seem to believe the greatness of their message absolves them from the obligation to tell a story rewarding enough in itself to justify the reader's expense and effort. This is a violation of what I was taught was a tacit contract between writer and reader: The reader agrees to willingly suspend his disbelief and treat the narrative as something that could have actually happened. The writer promises not to treat the reader like a kid in a classroom, or simply not to bore the shit out of him.

I like that contract. I wish more writers believed in it.

Friday, January 27, 2012

People throw away the damndest things!

Allegedly it still works. It's a 4000-watt Trace inverter, that somebody just chucked out after an upgrade. Yeah, prices have come 'way down and all, but do you know what these things USED to cost?

I've got to do some research, since it didn't exactly come with a manual. But if I can get it online in the Lair it'll replace the inadequate 1500-watt RV inverter I'm using now, and also allow me to mount my old inverter in the Jeep as a sort-of backup power supply.

Whadaya think of me now, huh? Huh?

Hee. I have ALWAYS wanted to do that!

Conversations you don't hear every day...
“Are we talking about the penguin that just defecated on the floor?” state Senate President David Williams (R-Burkesville) asked.

“Actually, senator, I believe that’s your desk,” Stine replied.

Hm. Evidence that Ian is actually a 127-year-old Fascist poet?

You be the judge.

I'm not proclaiming that Ian is actually Ezra Pound. But look at some facts.

*Pound was committed to an asylum for being an "intellectual crackpot." Ian could be mistaken for an intellectual, if the light was bad. He hangs with me, so at a minimum he certainly associates with crackpots.

*Pound was fascinated by European dictators. Ian is fascinated by the weapons of European dictators.

*The resemblance is striking. And what's with those sunglasses? And the hair? Something to hide, Ian?

"The court finds that the officers did indeed use excessive force. Also, we don't care."

Arkansas: Passenger Gets $1 After Excessive Cop Tasering
The judge found payment in full of Kirby's $167 in medical bills covered his actual damages. The judge also ordered the city of Barling to revise its unconstitutional taser policy that allowed use of tasers against individuals passively resisting officer commands. On the question of pain and suffering, the judge found Kirby was only entitled to $1 in compensation.

"Although I concluded excessive force was used on plaintiff, I do not believe the evidence elicited shows the conduct was motivated by evil motive or intent or involved reckless or callous indifference to plaintiff's federally protected rights," Marschewski wrote. "At most, the evidence established that the defendants, in reacting to plaintiff's desire to leave the scene and failure to submit to their commands, failed to meet the situation at hand with an appropriate degree of force."
Oh, well then. As long as there was no bad motive, I guess it's okay. Thanks, Your Honor, I'm sure he'll have it framed.

H/T to Balko.

Doing my tiny bit to further the Streisand Effect...

Y'know what I hate? I hate stupid.

I've never owned a Glock. No special reason, I've just used 1911s as my main carry guns for so long that that's the way my hand curls. On those rare occasions when somebody's foolish enough to ask for recommendations on first guns, I suggest they look at Glocks. Took me a while to get over my antediluvian prejudice against "plastic guns," but they've clearly proven their chops as good defense guns and I have nothing to say against them.

And I've never read Barrett's book, and frankly couldn't care less about any kiss-and-tell about "unsavory" business deals. The law has gotten so all-encompassing that we're all criminals, one way or another. Do they produce a good gun? Will they sell it to me? Yes and yes, so next case.

I guess I'm just trying to say that I really, truly, genuinely and in every other way have no dog in this fight. But this is just stupid and despicable, and deserves comment. So here's my comment:

Thursday, January 26, 2012

In other news, pot calls kettle black. Film at eleven.

“There is something so grotesquely hypocritical about the Romney campaign,” [Gingrich] said.

An interesting take on that Megaupload business...

Not surprising, just interesting...
However, yesterday, a new theory surfaced that indicates Megaupload’s demise had less to do with piracy than previously thought. This theory stems from a 2011 article detailing Megaupload’s upcoming Megabox music store and DIY artist distribution service that would have completely disrupted the music industry.

TorrentFreak first reported about the service in early December 2011. Megabox was just in beta at that time with listed partners of 7digital, Gracenote, Rovi, and Amazon. Megaupload was in a heated marketing battle with the RIAA and MPAA who featured Kim Dotcom in an anti-piracy movie (5:10 mark). The site had just sued Universal Music Group for wrongly blocking Megaupload’s recent star-studded YouTube campaign. Things were getting vicious in December but the quiet launch of Megabox might have been the straw that broke the millionaire’s back.

Dotcom described Megabox as Megaupload’s iTunes competitor, which would even eventually offer free premium movies via Megamovie, a site set to launch in 2012.
"My politicians are bigger than your politicians" is the very model of fascism in practice. Seriously, look it up: The word has an actual definition, and not all uses of it are hyperbolic.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I gotta get better at this.

Sorry: Yesterday was just thick with clouds until late afternoon. Reminded me of my unlamented childhood in my unmissed home state. I had no 'tricity, so I had no 'pooter. These things happen.

Still, there were a couple of things I could get done, that don' need no steenking 'tricity.

Like baking bread, something I've wanted to get back into since moving into a place with an actual OVEN.

I'm going for simple, basic, easy-peasy white bread here, nothing fancy. I used to do this fairly regularly before I got my old, much-lamented breadmaker, but that was a long time ago and I'll confess I had problems.

Already starting to worry: The dough seems awfully dry after kneading, even though I added water. It's not taking that springy, amorphous shape I'm wanting. But extra kneading wasn't helping, so time to let it take its first rise and see what happens.

Meanwhile, let's cut some wood.
The weather was supposed to get nasty and stay nastier, so I figured I'd better cut and split all the logwood I cut the day before. Good haul, too: I split enough to fill the wheelbarrow about four times, which is several days' worth.

Back to the bread.

Wow, that didn't rise well at all. Ew. Punch it down, form it into loaves, let it rise again. I've only got one loaf pan, so I did it both ways.

And I found out that, unlike my previous oven, it's wise not to give the baking time a fudge factor because when this oven says 400 degrees that's really what it means.

Yeah, got a little done. Not as bad as it looks, though.

The texture is dreadful. I'm not doing the rising right. Now that I've got my 'pooter back, I need to do some research and find better ways to get the dough to rise than the cookbook says, because it's just not working for me. I want to get good at this!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Like Insty Said...

The problem isn't the way you treated Rand Paul. Screw him if he can't take a joke. The problem with treating him like everyone else is the way you treat everyone else.

So you see, Mr. Groper, sir, "We treated him like everyone else" isn't quite the defense you may imagine it is.



I got a call from my neighbor D early this morning. "Y'know that plywood you've got in my barn?"

Oboy. He talked to me about that six weeks, maybe two months ago and I forgot all about it. I promised to be there this morning to get it out of there. Had a few little things to do around the cabin, but then I put on my hat and gloves. This got the boys' attention.

"Wanna go for a ride?" Pandemonium.

So we drive through the wash to D&L's place. I back up to the barn, start loading wood, and they come out and help about halfway through.

D&L are building a big, beautiful straw-bale and earthbag house. Really, it's gorgeous. And all winter they've been inside, doing the ceilings. Tongue and groove one by sixes, stained to go with the post-and-beam structure that shows through everywhere. Beautiful. This very morning they officially finished the ceiling, and they were anxious that I should see it.

Then they had some glassware they'd found cleaning out their workshop, and thought I might want it. And L had some day-old biscuits they weren't going to eat, and did I want that?

Just nice folks. I like them a lot. We started swapping dog annoyance stories, and then L and I started on the horse stories, and D got impatient to get back to work so the boys and I said our goodbyes.

Since I had the trailer and need some wood, I'd brought the chainsaw. Once I dropped off the lumber and got it safe, we went out for a woodcutting expedition. Not a lot, but I know where there are some dead roadside junipers that would fill the trailer pretty easy with fairly straight logs. Still need to cut it up for stovewood: We're really supposed to get some bad weather, and I want to fill the wood rack before it comes on. And I'm hoping to bake some bread this afternoon, so I'm gonna log off and do that stuff.

But still: Hermit or not, there's nothing like neighbors to get a day off to a good start.

Oh, make up your mind!

Clouded up yesterday afternoon, and the weather report solemnly assured me that was the last sun I'd see for four days minimum. Around sundown the clouds went away, ensuring (no matter what the weatherman said) that it would be a cold night and it was.

This morning dawned mostly clear, but now I'm promised two days of afternoon rain and snow.

Proving, once again, that the only way around here to tell the weather is to look out your damn window. The only way to tell what it'll be in the future is to wait and see.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Looks like my beautiful weather's going away...

It's been a long string, and certainly by the odds winter should make an appearance at some point.

According to the weather report, the time has come. Since this will limit my electricity, things might get a bit scant around here for a few days. Just sayin'.


Okay, first my standard disclaimer: I'm sure that Ron Paul is a very fine fellow, for a politician. If held on my knees with an RPG to my head and forced to cast a vote, I'd vote for Ron Paul without hesitation.

If that sounds like I'm saying I'd prefer to be infested with mosquitoes than with ringworm, you caught me. To me, a parasite is a parasite but some are worse than others. Ron Paul is clearly not as bad as politicians come. I'm even not entirely displeased with Paul's surprising prominence in the primaries. I've been wrong before. I was wrong about the inevitable triumph of "gun control," and I could be wrong about the unstoppable downward trajectory of freedom in this country - though I've seen little evidence of it so far. I could be wrong about the effect of a Ron Paul presidency. Maybe it would be a good thing.

But For God's Sake!
Then I remind myself that my grandchildren won't know who Gingrich was. Or Romney, Santorum, or most other flash-in-the-pan men and women who for the lust of power thought themselves a centerpiece of history, only to be relegated to the dustbins of history only weeks, months, or maybe even a few years later. But when the name Ron Paul is mentioned to my grandchildren, a smile will creep across their faces, and they will recall, and speak with excited tones about a time where an idea was born, a message was spread, and a revolution took hold that shook the world. That's the time I'm living in right now. I will treasure every moment. Thanks for all you do."

This would embarrass me, if I were him. It's not "Yes, Virginia, There is a Ron Paul," but it is pretty lame.

Surely there must be some golden mean, in which a person can be credulous enough to still have faith in the political process, without going completely moonbat in the veneration of an individual.

I keep telling myself that. Still waiting for the evidence.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Could somebody tell me?

I'm reading this article about a "domestic terrorism" meeting at President Obama's Art Museum, Impregnable Fortress and Snack Shop. And the article contains the following sentence:
It's a delicate balance, as the violent extremism that has erupted across the U.S. in the past few years has been motivated by an ideology, whether a violent interpretation of Islam or white supremacist beliefs.
And I got to wondering - where's all this violent extremism going on? Are you people sneaking out and committing acts of violent extremism after I've gone to bed, or what? Because, seriously, I'm trying to think of stories I've read lately, y'know, of mayhem and bloodshed spread by Muslims and "white supremacists", and while I can think of a few it's not exactly what I'd call an "eruption." Or even much of a trickle. So wherefore all the official panic?

Or is this just a new "hobgoblin?"

Kind of a silly question, that last...


This has just turned into a "meh" day. Mid-morning the sun went away behind thick clouds. The wind came up, though it never turned into a real howler. The boys drove me crazy all morning, barking and carrying on as if scaring off Mongol hordes.

And the problem with that is, sometimes they're really barking at something I want to know about. Like the three riders who showed up in the wash.

Now, the washes have a sort of ambiguous status in our spread-out neighborhood. Technically, every square inch is private property and so should not be trespassed upon. In practice, though, a convention has arisen that makes them a sort of informal commons. Almost nobody finds them of use for anything except ATV/horse transport or as a source of sand, and so almost nobody minds when trespass occurs. I only know of one place where there's a fence across it, and ironically you have to cross that person's property before you encounter it.

I don't mind either...really. But as with the wash that passes through Landlady's property, the boys are an issue I wish more people would keep in mind. On their own territory, they will chase ATVs and hassle horses, and every time it happens I fear somebody's gonna get hurt. It's easier for everybody when people give them a wide berth.

So when three riders slowly made their way up the wash toward the Lair this morning, I was in for an extended period of barking. LB is loudest, but has proven so irresponsible that he spends most of his outdoor time cabled up and so wasn't going to be a problem. But Ghost took to the brush: He wasn't going to mess with three horses (which proves he has matured, because once he wouldn't have hesitated to cause all sorts of havoc) but he could still let the newcomers know they were trespassing. And so they prudently turned around as soon as they came in sight of the Lair, and though I think I know who they were (casually-known friendly neighbors) I never got close enough to identify them.

Having chased off the invading hordes, Ghost found himself a good vantage to keep watch.

I spent the time cutting wood and cleaning up around my increasingly-cluttered yard. Burned a bunch of firewood-related trash, moved some building materials from here to there, and organized my new chainsaw bin.

But all in all it's just a cloudy, windy, "meh" day - though the temperature is certainly nice. So mostly, except for taking the time to make a pot of killer spaghetti sauce, I'm just sitting around and letting Barbara Tuchman do my thinking for me.

I laughed out loud, though on reflection it's not that funny.

Courtesy of Tam.

Grumble. Also, Whine.

Busy day yesterday. Before shit-shoveling I thought I'd see what ravages our near-nonexistent winter hath wrought upon Gulchendiggensmoothen, whose fate is to stand out in all weathers.

He started right up and ran beautifully, as though just released from the amorous clutches of a squad of nubile Thai concubines trained in the art of massage. So I ran him up to J&H's place, where the manure pile was spreading out of control and needed to be whipped into a proper heap. While I was adding to it, J said he was going to town and wanted to know if I'd like to come along. I needed to pick up my sharpened chains and to buy some kerosene, so I happily signed on.

Now, in the little town nearest my desert lair the only place to buy kerosene is the airport, where they have mis-named it "jet fuel." This little town has a civil airport with an incongruously huge pair of runways, easily adequate for jets. And some fancy ones land here: For all that it's a small poor town in a large poor county, there's money out there somewhere.

Problem is, it's been years since I needed to buy kerosene there and the rules have changed. The fellow who ran the pumps couldn't or wouldn't say why with any coherence, but he seemed genuinely apologetic when he refused to fill my can. I was pretty clearly not the first ragged mendicant he'd turned away with money still clutched in his grubby fist.

Ew. That's a problem, and it blighted what would otherwise have been a pleasant and successful trip. NOBODY in this town sells kerosene! I know it isn't commonly used for heating fuel around here, since propane is much cheaper in the long run. But you'd think there'd be some market for it. I know for a damn fact that there are people out here whose infrastructures make my pathetic electrical system look like a gift from the gods of technology by comparison. They have to be lighting their hovels somehow. Unfortunately I'm not friends with any of those people, and to establish relations would involve unwise levels of social reciprocity. There are better ways - I hope - to find sources of kerosene.

J had a bunch of errands to run, I had a few, and we didn't get back into the desert until after four which is why blogging was so light yesterday.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

I'm not complaining, you understand...

...but this is almost ridiculous.

I mounted the outdoor sensor on the north side of the Lair, which never sees sun in the winter. Here it is late-mid-January, and in the sun it's almost unpleasantly warm.

Sheesh. I finally move into a place that can be heated in the winter, and Uncle Murphy rewards me with the mildest winter, by far, I've seen since I got here.

Not complaining! No! I just think it's ironic.


Just wow.

This guy's gonna (briefly) push Lee Paige off the internets. He needs to put an oar on his shoulder right now and start walking inland until somebody asks him what the funny-looking stick is for. Then - maybe - he'll find a place where he's not unemployable.


QoD: "Speaking Truth to Power" Edition...

Pro Libertate:
Although Rick Santorum’s politics are detestable, he is a robustly decent husband and father. That certainly isn't true of the human pustule called Newt Gingrich. Although sharply different in terms of their personal deportment, Santorum and Gingrich share a totalitarian worldview: They assume that while nobody is virtuous enough to govern himself, they belong to a consecrated caste that is holy enough to rule over others.

When regulation jumps the shark...

Put down the coffee and feast your eyes on this. Read carefully.

Again from Balko:
But if a vending machine is in violation of the notice requirement, there’s no notice to notify the consumer that the machine is in violation. And there’s no number posted for the consumer to call. The only way this serves any purpose whatsoever is if you have a consumer who sees the notice on a compliant machine, then goes to the effort of writing it down and keeping it on his person at all times, in case he happens upon a non-compliant machine. But then to report it, the consumer would have to find some way of identifying the non-compliant machine. Location, I guess. A serial number. Then what? Does the state then send out an inspector to verify?

And assuming all that happens, you then have a vending machine owner fined for nothing more than not complying with a law requiring the owner to post a notice about the requirement to post a notice. And “teacher, you forgot to collect the homework” guy gets a cash reward.
Your tax dollars at work. Or something.

This is interesting. I though SOPA hadn't passed yet?

Balko offered a link with the commentary,
# Also, the fact that Chris Dodd was recently a powerful politician is a pretty damned good argument against giving politicians more power.
I clicked the link, and got the following:
Sorry, has been banned.
A sign of the times, law or no law.

"Abuse of power?" Are you out of your frickin' ...

Chris Dodd, former senatevermin and current prez of the shitheels who wrote SOPA and PIPA in the first place, belches forth his opinion on those who blacked out their sites in protest yesterday...
"It is an irresponsible response and a disservice to people who rely on [these sites] for information and use their services," Dodd wrote. "It is also an abuse of power given the freedoms these companies enjoy in the marketplace today."
Well, when you want a matter put in perspective you should go to a master of that matter. If he calls it an abuse of power, I guess he'd know one when he sees one.

The would-be solons of the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America have been abusing power so long and so ham-handedly that I have no sympathy for their cause at all, even though I happen to be in strong favor of the concept of intellectual property and think piracy is theft. (Though - full disclosure - I'm hypocritical enough on the subject that my music playlist wouldn't bear a lot of open scrutiny.) They've dealt with the matter so very badly that my attitude is "Screw'em." Give them the power to actually shut down sites? You've got to be kidding. Even though it wouldn't work, and the smack-down from hackers would be very entertaining, that way lies madness.

Truth is, when I wrote yesterday's related screed I didn't know how widespread the blackout protest was, or how much attention it got. Had I done even a tiny bit of due diligence before opening my yap, I'd probably have had sense enough to keep it shut.

H/T to Claire, who got me re-thinking this and who has more and better to say about it. And many thanks to Senator Dodd, for being such a useful asshat.

Maybe you should offer him the use of your wife and daughters, too.

This was just a typical wrong-address puppycide story, until the second-to-last paragraph. Maybe a bit more over the top than usual, but not hard to fit in the matrix of my pre-existing beliefs.

The cop is at the wrong address. Maybe that's his fault, maybe not. I don't know. He shoots a dog that's chained in the garage. Okay, it's a recently rescued dog, which means it's probably screwed up in the head, and Shepherds can be excitable. He didn't have to shoot it, of course, but I can believe it did lunge at him and provide an excuse. It's not a "three cops on a Chihuahua" story so far.

Then the cop goes overboard, as they so commonly do...
“I said, ‘Why [did] you shoot my dog?’ And he said, ‘Well, I'll blow your brains out.’ I said, ‘Hold on a minute, you just killed my dog. Why you want to blow my brains out? My hands are up.’ I said, ‘I don't have no gun,’” Anthony Currie said.
This is getting serious, well above and beyond puppycide, which is serious enough for most days. I'm certainly not going to criticize the homeowner for not going all Molon Labe on the cop, because I wouldn't have, either.

But for crying out loud!
“Now that I know what he was dealing with and there's human error, I can understand why it happened.”
Wha? That's...very understanding of you. The poor guy was just having a bad day, after all. No need to get all vindictive and stuff. Can't we all just get along?

This is why the problem gets worse. As a very, very wise man once said, the equation is so damned lopsided. The result of resisting power is destruction; the result of using it is gratification without consequence. So of course it gets used - over and over, more and more.

And of course! Of course!
The first officer faces no disciplinary action, but he will have to go before the shooting review board and face an internal investigation.
After all, he was just having a bad day. A nice paid vacation will chill him right out. I'm sure they'd do the same for you or me.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

On the SOPA-protest blackout...

Six or seven years ago, a bunch of Aztlan types held a fairly successful strike, in which they urged all the Chicano day laborers to stay home for one day. They figured that'd show us Anglos how important they were.

It was successful, that is, in that lots of day laborers did stay home that day. Otherwise, not so much. The only noticeable effect was a slightly lighter traffic situation on I-5. Nobody complained.

If a bunch of bloggers I enjoy reading black out their blogs, it seems to me they're really only hurting themselves and the people who agree with them. I mean, think about it. If Joan Peterson decided to show us all by shutting down "commongunsense" for a day, would you care? Would you notice?

Maybe I'm missing the point. If so, please set me straight.

Hm. I see your point, but guess I'm just old-fashioned.

I haven't been following the story about that Italian cruise ship. In this story, it seems it spawned the usual tales of heroism...
'He shouted: "Jump, jump, jump". I can't swim so he gave me his life jacket.

'I froze and couldn’t jump, but he jumped off the ship and shouted upwards 'Come on, don't worry.

'I jumped off and the last thing I heard him say was that I would be fine. Then I never saw him again.'

And...not so much...
‘There was no “women and children first” policy. There were big men, crew members, pushing their way past us to get into the lifeboats. It was disgusting.’

And I'm sure it was.

Over at Vox Popoli, the writer attempts to turn this into a point about the unintended consequences of feminism, as it has been commonly practiced...
This was not so much predictable as predicted. Women have methodically attacked the concept of male duty and honor through every possible means for the past ninety years, and now they are whining that they don't get special treatment simply because a ship happens to be sinking. Why, exactly, should any man "prioritise women, expectant mothers and children"? On what grounds can they be reasonably expected to do so, those outdated traditional grounds that the schools teach is hateful, sexist, and bigoted?

Those big, burly crewmen shoving aside women as they prioritized their own escape should have been wearing t-shirts that said "this is what a feminist looks like". Enjoy the crash.

Okay. I, too, love the smell of schadenfreude in the morning. But the foolishness of others never, ever becomes an acceptable excuse for your own bad behavior.

Robert Heinlein, that most quotable of authors, wasn't right about everything but his batting average is better than 50% and I have to go with him on this:
All societies are based on rules to protect pregnant women and young children. All else is surplusage, excrescence, adornment, luxury, or folly, which can — and must — be dumped in emergency to preserve this prime function.
His emphasis is on "society," about which I don't really give a damn. But I do care about the one guy I have to live with, 24/7. I care what he thinks about me, and I HATE it when he wakes me up abruptly with some vivid memory of a hateful, dishonorable, or simply embarrassing thing I've done. If I'd ever pushed a woman out of the way to get myself on a lifeboat, I'm pretty sure I'd find it difficult to live with the memory. And that's coming from a guy who really doesn't care too much for feminism the way it was commonly practiced, y'know?

Guess I'm just old-fashioned. The wages of feminism be damned, a man does the right thing because that's the way he proves to himself that he's a proper man. It's a proof that needs to be renewed regularly, and never more than when he's terrified and there's a part of him that would trample his own mother to get himself out of danger. If he can later live with his own actions during those moments, then he knows he's okay and needs not be too concerned about smaller imperfections in his character, which all men have.

If he can't, then he carries the consequences with him always. That's a very high price to pay. It's not heroism. It's self interest.

Individual life is very important. My individual life is extremely important. But musings about "society" notwithstanding, every life - even mine - brings moments when it's not the most important thing. So get the hell out of the way and let the women and children on the boats.

Afterward, if you live, you can find and kill the guy who didn't supply enough damn boats.

I'm pretty sure I've met this lady.

QoD, from The Adaptive Curmudgeon...
I don’t care if you’re the goddamn genius wonderkind cancer curing God-king of all you survey. You are not “overqualified” at making coffee until you’re good… indeed excellent… at making coffee. The mistaken idea that you are is either hubris or just plain stupidity. Until you can snatch that pebble from the hand of the coffee slinging master…you are a novice. A student. A beginner. A work in progress. No human being is EVER rendered “overqualified” for a job which they can’t yet do well. An overpriced degree doesn’t make you overqualified to serve coffee unless you got a PhD in serving [redacted] coffee. Part of being a fully aware individual is understanding that.
Met her? I may have been married to her at one point. Certainly she's been in my classes.

"Overqualified," my ass. Shut up and quit whining.

Oh, Mr. Paige. You are truly the gift that keeps on giving.

In his endless quest to keep his privacy or something, this guy just can't keep his name (and video) out of the news.

Seriously, I want to bear this guy's children. He's a hoot that never gets old.

The search term "Agent loses appeal over accidental shooting video" gets 11,861 hits on Startingpage, and all from less than 24 hours ago. Way to let it die down, there, Mr. Only-One-Professional-Enough.

H/T to Weer'd.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Gad, I'm a moron...

Two days a week I go shit-shoveling. And when the weather's cool I COULD take the boys with me, but they have to stay in the Jeep because they're not civilized around horses - and H's horses would feel no obligation to be civilized around them. Alas, leave Little Bear in the Jeep for too long and he gets bored. And he chews things. Like the Jeep. Important parts, like the gear shift knob, which doesn't work so well without that button that lets you take it out of Park.

So, when I go shit-shoveling I still take the boys to Gitmo. They don't like it, but they don't give me any problem about it. They do like treats, and they always get one. This morning I dropped them off, went to J&H's, and didn't think a thing about it.

When I was done, I needed to stop at the Lair to pick up the trailer. I figured I'd just step in and check my email before the sun got too low and I had to make a choice between the 'pooter and the lights.

I wasn't inside five minutes when I heard something heavy hit the front stairs. Ghost started whining to get in. He wanted the water bowl real bad.

At last, I thought. He finally dug his way out. He's never done it before, but there's a first time for everything.


I got in a big rush to get my ass back to Gitmo. Grabbed my hat, headed out to the Jeep ... and there was LB, in the back of the Jeep whose door I'd helpfully left open.

It suddenly occurred to me that I'd forgotten a crucial step in the "drop the boys off at Gitmo" procedure. Sunday morning M and I moved LL's generator out of Gitmo to his dome. I forgot to check to see if the back gate was closed.

It wasn't.

So the boys had themselves a nice cavort while I was working, and when they heard the Jeep headed for the Lair they just followed me home. And now they're happy. And I feel stupid.

Normally, the best way to get me to ignore something...

...is to connect it with anything "Miss America"-related.

I believe the last time - possibly the only time - I watched a Miss America pageant was in 1972. I remember it because I'd recently been released from the hospital and couldn't get out of my chair to leave the room. It's not that I knock it, it's just that I don't care.

But it seems things have changed so much, that even the "aspirations" have. Remember "I want to work for world peace?"


The New Miss America's Cause: Children of the Incarcerated

Yes, it's come to this. Either we've turned into a nation of really vile people, or it's too damned easy to be declared a criminal and locked up in this country. So much so, that it's ceasing to be considered shameful.

Another example? Here's a lady facing twenty years for watching whales eat. Wow, keep your kids away from her.

H/T to Balko.

How to tell when somebody's not getting it. Or ever going to get it.

“Why can’t they just hire a lobbyist like everyone else?”
- Unnamed congressional staffer

As Claire said, "That should go down in history along with 'Let them eat cake.'”

Or as Mel Brooks said,

Yeah, Louis was that clueless, too. Poor fellow.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Funny sorta day...

The clouds blew out of here - temporarily, from the looks of things - around eleven. And I do mean blew.

I've often said that our little patch of paradise only has four kinds of weather:

*Too damn cold
*Too damn windy
*Too damn hot
*Too damn wet

Not that it has to be only one of those at any given time. This morning, as is often the case when it's cloudy overnight, the temperature was quite moderate. But when the wind started howling, the reading on a thermometer really stopped mattering. I went over to Landlady's this morning to wash some clothes, and by the time I finished a load the notion of hanging it on a line outside was ridiculous. I need those clothes, and don't want to donate them to Wyoming. I had trouble just getting it out of the washer intact.

I once saw wind so strong that it blew a car down the street, without benefit of driver. Of course that was at the height of a Florida hurricane. I'm assuming it was a manual and the poor schmuck forgot to set the brake. I was just a little kid, and at the time I was impressed. This morning, from a clear blue sky, the wind sent a gallon gasoline jug flying across my yard. While it was full of gas. What's the drag coefficient on a plastic gasoline jug? I'm guessing not that high. It knocked over a wheelbarrow of firewood - okay, they're pretty unstable anyway. It knocked over both burn barrels. My little cabin is smoky, because the smoke can't always make it up the pipe. The Secret Lair is framed with 2X6 lumber on concrete pilings - occasional gusts make it shake. And I'm down in a hollow. On top of Landlady's ridge, actual property damage is not unusual when the wind gets to acting up.

Not even Ghost wants to go outside today.

Post fast!

Cloudy morning. Inverter's crying like a little girl. Maybe later, but gotta go now.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Just a couple of quick things...

I was in a hurry yesterday, 'cause M and Landlady wanted to go to town and there was Mexican food involved, which meant I wanted to go to town. But I want to thank Donkey Buster and Claire for the great care packages. DB, the boys asked me to especially thank you.

Also, yesterday was a great (followed quickly by not so great, but never mind) day for M AKA Ian, because...

He finally got the letter from the principal permitting him to keep and bear this fine piece of WWI British engineering right here. Yup, his first gun with a giggle switch. He happy.

Unfortunately before LL and I got to play, he also suffered his first ever case mouth separation and we didn't have an extractor between us. So (sob) back to the city it goes. But it did go bang in a satisfyingly rapid manner, for a disappointingly short time.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Look what I got!

Claire just sent me this, courtesy of a reader who has her email addy and not mine.

Thanks, MJR! This is going on the sidebar somewhere, fer shur.

UPDATE: And another...

And look what the Landlady Express brought me today! (Thanks, Claire! I'm making a signpost for this.)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Did you ever notice...

...that when somebody describes himself as a "law-abiding citizen" there's always this tone of pride? I'd go so far as to call it smug. You can hear the "I don't have anything to hide, so I don't have anything to fear" subtext.

Yeah. How'd that work out for you, Mark?
On December 15, 2011 at approximately 5:15 a.m., I was at LaGuardia International airport preparing to check in for a flight out of the city. During a routine check-in, I requested a firearms declaration form from the ticket agent. It was my intent to declare and check my unloaded firearm.

I purchased this firearm legally, and I have a valid concealed carry permit for it issued in California. The unloaded gun was locked inside a TSA-approved travel case, and the case was locked inside my checked luggage. I carry the firearm for my personal safety, having received numerous threats due to my role in the Tea Party Patriots. I have checked this firearm at airports dozens of times before, all across the country.

As I traveled through LaGuardia that morning, I passed TSA signs telling me I had the right to check this unloaded firearm in my luggage, and that I am required by law to declare the firearm to the ticketing agent. This is exactly what I did.
Aaaand that's when he learned what handcuffs feel like.

And I know I should be more sympathetic. No, he didn't do anything wrong. Yes, he was abused. In addition to the time, expense, humiliation and fear, he probably lost a nice handgun. I don't know anything about him, but can't quite picture him tooling around the country with a Hi-Point. Don't write and tell me I should be more sympathetic, because I know that.

But at LaGuardia? in NYC? Seriously? You walked up to a counter and announced "I have a gun?"


Mark, welcome to America. Where've you been all this time?

Friday the Thirteenth gets off to a good start...

Got freakin' cold last night. For the first time since we moved into the Lair the temperature on the ground floor was in the thirties. High thirties, but still. Oddly, the Lair's water didn't freeze. Took forever for the fire to get the ground floor temp into a decent place, which is why I've developed the habit of reading in the loft in the morning.

LB went out on his cable and promptly got very excited about something desperately in need of chasing down the wash. Ghost went to look and clearly saw nothing. LB, per tradition, wrapped his cable around a tree. Later he settled down, or seemed to. I unclipped the cable from him, he headfaked toward the cabin door, then lit afterburners and disappeared down the wash, Ghost right behind. I got suckered.

Yeah, I went and looked for them but their tracks disappeared into the brush. It's been half an hour and I haven't seen or heard a sign of them. Hopefully they'll come back. Second prize, I get a call from D&L. Booby prize, my worst fears come true and I never see them again.

Sometimes I feel bad about keeping LB confined all the time. Then he takes the first momentary opportunity to remind me why I do. I do not beat that dog enough.

UPDATE: Well, that's an improvement. Got them back and it didn't even involve phone calls. Ghost came home alone, which isn't too unusual - he always remembers where he lives. He attacked the water bowl and then wanted right back out. Sometimes he narcs on Little Bear, so I paid attention to what he was paying attention to. He went haring off in what turned out to be a random direction, though, and after I followed him for ten or fifteen minutes LB came lumbering up from behind me. Figures.

From the looks of his hairy ass, which is now browner than black, LB had another of his, er, intestinal incidents so maybe I'm glad he took care of that out in the boonies. That dog can really mess up a yard.

Now I can get on with shit-shoveling and (hopefully, if the ground thaws just a little bit) clean up the awful mess LB made of Gitmo before Landlady comes this weekend.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Okay, now I'm scared.

I don't completely mind waking up with ridiculously dated songs in my head. The really bad ones are kind of entertaining. I wonder about the dreams I can't remember, though - something's putting these things in my head.

But, see, now I've got a problem. A couple of days ago I pissed off Catholic readers with one ill-chosen word. After this, what are the gays gonna want to do to me?

Mother and Son, a portrait.

I just need to put this tattoo on your arm. Don't worry, it's for your privacy.

Stop worrying, you stupid privacy freaks. The commerce department isn't even part of the government.

STANFORD, Calif.--President Obama is planning to hand the U.S. Commerce Department authority over a forthcoming cybersecurity effort to create an Internet ID for Americans, a White House official said here today.

It's "the absolute perfect spot in the U.S. government" to centralize efforts toward creating an "identity ecosystem" for the Internet, White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt said.

That news, first reported by CNET, effectively pushes the department to the forefront of the issue, beating out other potential candidates, including the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. The move also is likely to please privacy and civil-liberties groups that have raised concerns in the past over the dual roles of police and intelligence agencies.
Really? You think that's going to reassure anybody?

Oh, it gets better.
The Obama administration is currently drafting what it's calling the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, which Locke said will be released by the president in the next few months. (An early version was publicly released last summer.)

"We are not talking about a national ID card," Locke said at the Stanford event. "We are not talking about a government-controlled system.
Mr. Locke, either you fell on your head as a child or you think everybody else did. The government is "centralizing efforts" to enhance our privacy by ending it, to create an ID system which is "not a national ID card" because cards won't be involved, and "we are not talking about a government-controlled system" because, um ...

And of course...
Schmidt stressed today that anonymity and pseudonymity will remain possible on the Internet. "I don't have to get a credential, if I don't want to," he said. There's no chance that "a centralized database will emerge," and "we need the private sector to lead the implementation of this," he said.
File that with all the promises our grandparents heard about the income tax.

"There's no chance that 'a centralized database will emerge,'..." Fixed it for you, there, Schmidt. You're right about one thing, though: "...anonymity and pseudonymity will remain possible on the Internet." You bet your ass it will. That ship has sailed. Nobody trusts you, or the horse you rode in on.

H/T to KurtP.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The kid is all right.

He's gonna flunk the fifth grade, but he's all right.
by Daphne

A question on my fifth grader’s math worksheet.

The Jones family ate dinner out last Sunday. The bill was $25.50. Mr. Jones left a 50% tip. Do you think this is too much? Explain your answer,

His complete answer.

I honestly don’t care how much he paid.


H/T to John Venlet

CSGV has hurt and offended me. I'm a VICTIM!!

Aww! Diddums get your candles laughed at?

It seems the Coalition to Promote Victim Disarmament doesn't like gunbloggers' reaction to their candlelight photo opportunities. Missing the point entirely, they named the names of those bad, bad people.

And missed mine, which pisses me off. Not that I did more than link the original work of others, but still - isn't it the thought that counts? Hey, CSGV! Where's the hate? I'm evil, too!

H/T to Sebastian.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Songs I kinda think I shouldn't like, but do...

Today over at WRSA I saw a clip of that scene in Casa Blanca where, to drown out a bunch of evil vicious singing Nazis, the band and all the patrons of Rick's Café Américain break out into La Marseillaise.

And that got me to thinking about the song, which is one of those things that always get me right in the liberté, égalité, fraternité muscle, even though I'm not remotely French.

Makes me want to rush right out with my musket, form regiments and slaughter me some Prussians sans culottes, y'know? And I don't even particularly dislike Prussians*. I've always felt kinda like I'm betraying some principle every time I get a tear in my eye over it, since somehow the poor thing managed to become a sort of commie anthem, and I'm pretty sure I'm not remotely commie, either - I even heard it in China once. But I still like it.

Another example of this is Ave Maria, which is just damned near the most beautiful song I ever heard and I'd be surprised to learn I've had any Catholic ancestors since my Irish ones swam across the pond. And even if I were Catholic I'd probably still feel a little squeamish about Mariolotry, which (sorry, my Catholic friends) makes no sense at all in the context of Christianity.

But still...wow...

Guess I just ain't got no philosophical purity. After I betray the revolution and set myself up as President-for-Life, I'll have myself shot.

*This could possibly have to do with my never having met one. Pre-1947 I'm sure they were properly despicable, one and all. Even the little baby ones.

Well, they are good questions...

I won't hold my breath for the answers, though...

H/T to Codrea.

And yet, they defend it...

Hey, remember the TSA cupcake kerfuffle from a few weeks ago? No, of course you don't - there've probably been a thousand real outrages since then.

Yeah, but you cynical TSA-bashers should all be ashamed of yourselves. Ashamed, I say! Now that they've explained it, it's all so simple!

Just shut up, remove your shoes, belt, clothing, cupcakes and integument, drop them in the bin, and step through the Magic Irradiation Device.
This is done purely for the safety of everyone traveling.

"Modicum," perhaps?

See, this is why I don't miss TV, right here...

Monday, January 9, 2012

Naturally they'll still be available to representatives and senators...

Schumer says answer to armed robberies in pharmacies is to ban new painkillers.

No, I didn't entirely make that up.
ALBANY, N.Y. – Following fatal shootings in two New York pharmacy robberies, a U.S. senator is warning that a new batch of "super painkillers" now under review could force repeats of recent violent robberies that left six people dead.

"It's tremendously concerning that at the same time policymakers and law enforcement professionals are waging a war on the growing prescription drug crisis, new super-drugs could well be on their way, flooding the market," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. "The FDA needs to grab the reins and slow down the stampede to introduce these powerful narcotics."

What can you even say? They keep re-electing the schmoe.

Makes perfect sense to me.

"Candles Don't Stop Violence."

Hee. "The Brady Campaign ... has created too many victims."

Saturday, January 7, 2012

I can go with that...

Now that the activists have pretty much killed concealed carry bans (even in the current PC "law-abiding citizen" version requiring CCW licenses) and are doing so well that "constitutional carry" is not only not an absurd idea but actually a reality in a growing number of states, let's start agitating for a stake driven through the heart of NFA34!

I wanna shoot guns like Oleg Volk's when I grow up!

H/T to Linoge.

Friday, January 6, 2012

I'm a cedar rat and I'm okay...

Finally got around to completing the sink drain for the Secret Lair...

I've had the parts to do this for a couple of months, I think. But as soon as I got them I lost all my water, and for a while it made more sense to drain the sink into a big bucket so I'd have something to flush the toilet with. Then inertia set in, but I figured I'd better finish the damned thing because this gorgeous weather isn't going to last forever. So I spent considerable time under the cabin today, laying pipe. Then more time covering it up in the trench to the ditch I dug years ago, draining the gully behind the cabin when it rains. So far that ditch has worked pretty well keeping water from washing under the cabin.

Then it was time to do something about the stovewood supply, which has gotten kind of low...

It's not that I don't have wood, because I haul wood in once or twice a week. But it does have to be cut to size.

So to work we go.

And about an hour and a half later, there's a good week's worth. More, if it stays nice. Which can't be counted on.

There's a $1000 price on your head in Newark...

As Unc says, "What could possibly go wrong?" Wasn't planning to go there anyway...

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The answer is Yes.

This is a question I wish people didn't think they have to ask. Unfortunately, under the circumstances it was a very important question.
"I've got two guns in my hand. Is it OK to shoot him if he comes in this door?" asked McKinley, 18.
Now, at this point I'm supposed to get all snarky and anti-sheeplike-behavior, because that's my gig. But let's face it, it's a very important question. The lady's on the phone with a police dispatcher. Having already taken that step, the answer to the question is equally important. It's life and death. The jackass who's trying to break in brought a knife to a gunfight: He's not that big a problem as long as she's got the cojones to pull the trigger. (Which, by the way, she did.) But the next visitors she gets might be wearing armor and carrying rifles, and have even less compunction about killing her. History is very clear on this point. So yeah, the question is important. And so is the answer.

The answer she got, frankly, shocked me.
"Well, you have to do whatever you can do to protect yourself," dispatcher Diane Graham responded. "I can't tell you that you can do that, but you do what you have to do to protect your baby."
Now, at this point I'm supposed to get all snarky and anti-cop, because that's my gig. And no doubt in some other jurisdiction she'd have received a completely different answer. Can you imagine those words coming from the mouth of a Chicago PD dispatcher? Because I can't.
The dispatcher told HLN's Jane Velez-Mitchell on Wednesday she learned in training that she could not tell a caller to shoot someone, "(but) as a mother, I wanted her to protect her baby."
And I think that's very cool, and you're not going to hear that from me very much concerning somebody who works in a police station.

Then the story took a completely bizarre turn.
First Assistant District Attorney James Walters told CNN that McKinley will not be charged because she acted in self-defense.

"A person has the right to protect themselves, their family and their property," Walters said.
Wait. What? You're a DA! You're the guy I'm supposed to especially hate! You're supposed to make this poor, innocent woman's continued existence a living hell, for having the effrontery to defend herself with lethal force instead of being raped and murdered like a good little taxpayer! Tradition demands it! You're screwing with my understanding of the workings of the universe! What the **** is wrong with you?

Granted, again, this is Oklahoma City, a place I've lived near, and OKC has never been a good place to be a violent predator. But still - If I can't depend on cops and prosecutors to be despicable, what can I depend on?

This lady's encounter with the intruder, BTW, has a loverly happy ending...
Martin, 24, was found [dead as a doornail - J] between the door and a couch with a knife clutched in his gloved left hand, police said.
You go, girl. And kudos to the forces of law'n'order who decided not to be pricks that day.

Fixed it for you...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

You wanna talk improvisation? I gotcher improvisation right here...

I've got lots of water and barely enough electrical power to run a laptop. Landlady's got lots of electrical power, and no water. Between us, we're a homestead.

My washing machine is still over at her place, there being no dreaming way it'd ever run at the Lair. And that was fine, until the last cold snap when her pressure pump puked a seal - again. So now, until we can get that fixed she's got no water. Since I installed that check valve last week I've got water out the whazoo but that doesn't help with this heap of dirty laundry, which I really must deal with while the weather's nice. Sure I could wash it by hand, but that's like Plan Z. Been there, done that, hate it.

So here's a lovely irony: I'm driving the Jeep back and forth, hauling water in bottles from the Lair to Landlady's place, where I don't even live anymore. Pour enough into the washing machine to get the cycle going, then load up the empties and go get more for the rinse. Did it yesterday for one load and I'll do it again this morning after the first load comes off the line.

Hey, it works. Whadaya want from me?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Uncle Murphy maketh his countenance to shine upon me...

Of all the days to have electrical problems. Sheesh, everything's been fine, at least during the day, and now every time I turn my laptop on the inverter squeals like a little girl...

Installer must have kicked something loose. In the morning when it warms up I'll go over the PV panel connections.

First the water, now this. I'm gonna track down that guy Murphy wherever he hides, and vomit right on his best shoes.

UPDATE: Wow. As somebody said, it looks like it was designed by Dr. Seuss. My wiring job, that is, which had pretty thoroughly fallen apart and I got too busy yesterday afternoon to even notice but it's no wonder I've been having power problems. The six little old panels are a temporary measure anyway, since I now have a single modern panel that's rated better than all of them combined, but I need a few other things before I can install it. Like a new charge controller, but never mind.

Anyway, I'm now getting power into the batteries again.

Back in the saddle!

This post is brought to you from The Secret Lair!

Oh, for Crying! Out! Loud!

Today they're supposed to move the satellite dish and modem again, and the drama has already begun. At least this time they didn't keep me waiting.

About half an hour ago I got a call from some guy who wanted to know "What's the problem you're having?" When I told him there was no problem, we needed it moved, he said, "Then why'd they write out a service ticket?" Like I'd know.

Five minutes later I got a call from some dispatcher, telling me the service guy would be late. I said don't send him on a service ticket, it's a waste of everybody's time. She said, not very convincingly, that she'd look into it.

Just now I got a call from the service guy, saying he'd be late. I said don't come at all if ... etc. He said he'd "see what he could do."

We've been trying to get this thing moved to the Lair for weeks. Maybe I should just forget the whole thing and get some semaphore flags.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The song in my head takes an educational turn...

I don't know why this happens. It's irritating.

I wake up with a song in my head, with no plausible clue how it got there. Often it's something I couldn't possibly have heard for years. Often - indeed, usually - I don't even know the lyrics. This one, for example: The best I could come up with was "Lead us not into temptation/Don't destroy our reputation/When we yield to carnal love." Pretty sure that wasn't right. On these occasions, YouTube is my friend.

Here, though, I learned that "The Browns," whom I don't recall ever having heard of, didn't write the song and it was by far not the only version recorded. In fact their version was a bit truncated. Here's the Andrews Sisters, who are just a bit before my time...

And the whole thing is based on some French song. Here's Edith Piaf, of whom I'd never have heard if it weren't for Saving Private Ryan, (hey, I'm an uneducated American mutt) with what may be the original, and most beautiful version. Damn, that woman had a voice. Can't understand a word she says, though...

I did not know that. Or care all that much, to be honest...