Friday, July 31, 2009

When's the last time your jaw dropped?

Reset the clock.

Response to Joe Markowitz

This is a response to the comment Joe left at Who is to blame for Lily Burk's death?

Lily Burk was a neighbor of mine who car-pooled with my kids to school. So my family is very personally affected by this tragedy. I can certainly agree with you that Lily was entirely innocent, and the man who killed her was entirely to blame. But what conclusions follow from that?

To me, there is only one just conclusion. The murderer is imprisoned for life or executed. This conclusion is not the best one, I would have preferred to have this man imprisoned for life after his 10th conviction, but unfortunately we had to wait until his 11th.
Do you have any idea how many people out there have records similar to the suspect in this killing?

Yes, I do. A lot. They're out there right now, walking around free, just like this man was. I think people with 10 convictions should be permanently removed from civil society. How many crimes do you believe someone should commit before suffering this fate?
He did not have a particularly violent history, and his prior crimes were mostly fairly petty. Many thousands of people have a similar history, both inside and outside of prison. It is very difficult to predict which of them will become violent.

Actually there IS a tried and true method of predicting when criminals will become violent. You watch their rap sheet, and watch the crimes become more and more bold. I'm related to a few cops and have a few cop friends. If you know a cop, I highly recommend you ask them how to predict when these criminals will become violent. They'll tell you the same thing. They arrest the same people over and over, they testify against them in court, over and over, and when they finally get violent and get locked away for a long time, they see them outside on probation over and over. You talk about vicious circles later in your comment. This one is about as vicious as it gets.

By the way, please don't lessen theft because it's not violent. A human being's time on this Earth is finite, and the things a human obtains by using that time for labor do have value. If all your possessions, and those of your family are "just things," Then why not give them away? They are your right because you earned them. Anyone who would steal your lunch is stealing the time of your life you spent earning that lunch. I'm not saying repeated petty theft should be corrected with execution, but I'm also not saying judges should go easy because they're "just things."
We already have the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world. And some of the most severe sentences in the world. And that does not keep us safe.

Joe, I've taken the time to read your comment in full, repeatedly, in order to formulate my response. I would have preferred that you read my post a little bit more closely, as I've already covered this. Does it matter if our incarceration rate is 1% or 99% when everyone in jail broke the law and deserves to be in jail? If 99% of the population were serial killers, should the 1% try to get them released? These examples are hyperbole of course, but why should we not incarcerate people who knowingly and willingly break the law? If it is your contention that our incarceration of criminals and severe sentences doesn't keep us safe, are you suggesting that releasing them would make us safer?

But if you want to get into statistics, crime rates have actually been dropping in California (and Los Angeles in particular), and it is suspected that the three strikes laws are keeping people who repeatedly commit felonies away from their victims.

Just so you know, I have a lot of problems with the way we're deciding who goes to jail. From non-violent drug offenders to prostitution solicitors, I think there are a lot of people in jail for victimless crimes that should not be there. However, since you didn't qualify your statement, I'm forced to assume we're talking about criminals like Lily's murderer.
We can keep locking more and more people up for longer and longer stretches, but that will still not make us safe.

I disagree. Recidivism rates are quite high, and by locking up a repeat offender for longer you will necessarily limit his ability to commit crimes against the public during that time.
Because we have to let at least some of these criminals out eventually after they have served their time.

Yes, we must let them out after they've served the amount of time as determined by a judge or a jury, the amount of time is set by legal precedent, and by the determination of a jury of twelve citizens. If you want to change that amount of time, you need to either change the law, or change the way the juries think.
And if we just lock everybody up who has the potential of becoming violent, what will happen to their children?

No one said anything locking up everyone who had the potential of becoming violent. Technically everyone has the potential of becoming violent, but the people who we lock up have proven their potential by repeated offenses in the past. Unfortunately for people looking at this man's record, the District Attorneys plea down cases to get easy convictions. This basically hides the facts of the case, and lessens the outwardly apparent violence level of the criminal.

They want the easy convictions because they don't want to risk losing a case by trying for too many things, even if the facts are on their side, even if it is clear to them who the accused person is. They do this because they are an elected office, and want a record as spotless as possible. A 100% conviction rate doesn't matter if the attorney only tried one case, and let others walk because there was only a 50% chance of success.

As for the children remark; if you are advocating releasing violent offenders so they can be fathers to their children, then you are expressing a confusion of ideas that I cannot rightly comprehend.
The next generation of criminals are often the kids growing up with fathers in prison. They expect to follow in their fathers' footsteps.

This is another topic entirely, but I will indulge you. You will find no argument from me on this point. I may go so far as to say fatherlessness is the single greatest threat to the safety of our society. Speaking man to man, I'm sure we both understand the role a father plays in a boy's life. He is a moral compass, he is a provider, he is a role model. Unfortunately, we have an entire generation of women who think their children don't need a father, because the government will be their provider. They have children, and eschew the development of a relationship with a male figure because they don't think they need one. No consideration is given to the development of their male children. In my opinion, this is an extremely serious problem.
So what you are proposing may be something of a vicious circle.

I think I may be confused. I advocate locking up violent offenders. What is it you are advocating? Is it the release of these offenders in order to make their homes whole again? Who will bear the responsibility for these released offenders' actions? Please correct me on your point, but it seems to me your saying "Who cares about a few lost innocent lives, when we have the real possibility of turning around the lives of some murderers?"
Your answer--that we should not even try to understand evil, and we should not even try to prevent it--does not strike me as any kind of answer at all.

I said that understanding was a question for another time, not that we should just lock everyone up forever. This man murdered a girl full of potential that she was ready to give to the world. An entire life of possibility was ahead of her. All the explanations in the world will not change that, because what he did was irreversible. No matter how many apologies he says, tears he cries or Hail Marys he prays-- even if he means every single one-- it won't do a damn thing for Lily. This man deserves to be removed from society permanently. Do you disagree?

You claim you want to understand his crime, but you don't. You only want to make allowances for it. If I were to cut off your right index finger, and tell you that I did it for fun, should my punishment be any more severe than if I told you it was because my pastor sexually abused me as a child? I think not. The result was the same. The damage is done. You are without finger, and I preformed the action. I should be punished for my actions, not allowed to explain them away.

Certainly an index finger is very different than taking the life of Lily Burk, but should this man who, under whatever influence of his own doing, committed this murder of this innocent girl, be allowed to explain away his actions? I highly doubt he will be allowed to explain them away completely; but would you want this man doing exactly what I said needs to change by working a deal with the DA to plea down his charge to involuntary manslaughter under temporary insanity due to drug use, and serve his time out comfortably in a minimum security psychiatric treatment facility?

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm afraid that you would.

But if my answer does not strike you as a kind of answer at all, know that your answer; to be understanding and lenient, gets people killed. Your answer isn't an answer to me. In fact, your solution is the problem.
Note that I am not proposing letting any criminals off the hook, and I am not blaming the victim. I am merely suggesting that we have to think more carefully about policies that might actually help reduce crime.

By all means! You've said yourself that there are countless criminals walking the streets who have the exact same records as this man. Is this acceptable to you? Which ineffectual solution would you implement? Counseling? Half-way houses? Drug rehabilitation? These violent offenders have ignored every rehabilitation program that has been offered. How many more must fail before you admit that they don't want to be rehabilitated? How many more innocents must die before you realize that these people don't want to become contributing members of society?

Is your object to get him to understand his crimes? To understand the finality of what he has done? If he were to understand the real impact of his actions, honestly, truly comprehend what he had done, he would do the honorable thing and plead guilty and ask for the death penalty. Unfortunately, that seems unlikely.
For example, what we should be thinking about are ways to reduce the recidivism rate of those who are eventually released from prison. There are programs that do this with proven success, but they do not receive adequate funding or attention.

Please substantiate your claim. If you can, I'll become the program's biggest advocate. I do not believe your statement to be fact.
Beefing up these kinds of programs is a constructive thing that we can do that could actually reduce crime. Doing that does not blame the victim, and it does not let the criminal off the hook. But it does allow for the possibility that some criminals can become less violent if they are forced to acknowledge their destructive tendencies, and deal with them.

Acknowledge their destructive tendencies? Joe, I'd like you to watch this video. Get some headphones, and a clear 5 minutes.

Listen to what James Broadnax had to say about his actions.

You must watch the whole thing, beginning to end. Every part is important.

James Broadnax stole his grandmother's rifle, and traded it for a handgun so he could rob people. He then took a train with his cousin to a different part of Texas because "dat's where all the rich white folks stay at." Once there, they realized they had to rob someone to get a car because it was a long walk back. They stopped and talked to Matthew Butler and Stephen Swan who were standing outside their Christian music recording studio. They talked for a short while, then parted ways. James returned and asked for a cigarette. Then he shot them both. While they lay incapacitated on the ground, he executed them by shooting them both in the head. He then robbed them for $2, and the keys to an old Ford Crown Victoria. He and his cousin were caught by the police in the car on their way back.

This video was a source of a great spiritual awakening for me. I understood that evil existed in the world. But was the evil growing in James Broadnax for years before? Was the evil something that temporarily took him over when he "just blanked out?" Or was the evil something that took over completely once he made his decision, and sits in him still?

Joe, I think we all have our demons. We have the angel and the devil on our shoulder, but they aren't who we really are. Which shoulder we choose to listen to is a reflection of who we really are. Boys have been raised in the same situation as James, and have come out good. Most don't, but some do. Is it sad that most don't? Yes. Is it good that some do? Yes. But does it make a difference to Matthew Butler and Stephen Swan? No. Because they're dead. Their children are fatherless. Because James made a decision a long time ago to walk a path. He knew his final destination if he continued on that path, and he continued on it anyway.

Do I feel sorry for James? Yes. I feel great sorrow for him, and his position in life, and the outer influences that pressured him to choose his path. But on a jury I still would vote to give him life in prison or the death penalty. And were I armed when he attempted to kill me or my loved ones, I would kill him without a thought. I would kill, because I am a moral human being that protects the sanctity of life.

The loss of any life is a terrible thing, but his life was lost the moment he decided to take another.

He deserved to die. Not his victims.

Joe, if there were a rehabilitation button we could press, I would personally press it after every criminal served the time for his crime. But there is not, and we are left with imperfect solutions. We must do our best, but we must not forget that actions have consequences. The actions of a murderer certainly have consequences, but so do the actions of a society who releases an increasingly violent 10-time offender who goes on to murder a young girl. Our blind hope is to blame. Our blind hope that this man would turn himself around, despite facts to the contrary, is to blame. We all failed Lily. In so many ways.

We must continue to hope, but not blindly. We must remove failing programs, and try new ones. We must review our failing actions, and try new ones. We have to measure our hope against reality, and turn to new goals. Right now, our hope is not working, but we keep hoping that it will. While we blindly hope, people die. Lily dies.

But even now, after the deed is done, he doesn't deserve a second chance.

Lily does.

I understand what you're trying to do. To be honest, I used to think the same way. It's very noble and very selfless of you to overcome your anger and reach out your hand of understanding to his man in the hopes that he will change his life.

But I choose to save the life of the victim rather than the life of the murderer. I choose to do this by locking up repeat offenders, and violent criminals before they commit the ultimate act of violence.

But even so, killing this man will not bring Lily back. Nothing we do will bring Lily back. Even if we ignore the likelihood that his execution or life imprisonment will serve as a deterrent, and ignore the certainty that his execution or life imprisonment will prevent him from ever killing again; even if we ignore those things, what are we supposed to do with him?

What are we, as moral and human beings, in a society that values life, supposed to do with a man who murders an innocent girl?

If killing this murderer saves just one life, it will be worth it.

But if NOT killing this murderer costs just one MORE life?

Then we don't deserve to call ourselves moral.

Joe, in the spirit of Obama's beer "summit," I'd like to extend to you an invitation to meet you half way at a bar or restaurant for a beer. I live in Orange County, and I believe you live in Los Angeles. If you want to sit down and have a real conversation about this over a beer or a meal, just send me an e-mail.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Things I have in common with Prof. Henry Gates Jr.

1. Taste in beer.*

* except I don't choose to drink it because I need to identify myself by drinking a beer from a country with the same color skin as mine

More blackberry bold notes

I figured out the bedside mode weirdness, apparently when you put it in bedside mode, it dims the screen, turns off the bright LED, and provides a perfect clock to put on your nightstand before you go to bed. UNLESS! The blackberry uses the radio to connect or check something. Then the screen lights up to full brightness and annoys the crap out of you. Apparently the only way around this is to specify that radio be turned off while in bedside mode, but that seems a bit ham-handed. Why not just not have the radio trigger the screen brightening up? Whatever. I turned off the radio and probably started sleeping better because I wasn't waking up at every e-mail to check it, but it does get annoying when you wake up, unplug it, and carry it away without realizing that you're still in bedside mode (despite being out of the clock program), and the radio is still off. Annoying, but limited in impact.

Whenever the blackberry connects to certain networks, it seems to emit a three foot field of annoy-your-speakers-and-headphones. It's sporadic, but usually seems to happen whenever I'm on the phone at work, and I have to pick up the bold and move it to the desk next to me, like it's on time-out. Fortunately, I don't use the phone very much :) Not sure what makes it annoy nearby speakers sometimes and not other times, or why I've never had similar problems with other phones (at least, not since 1998). Once again, not a big deal, and really very sporadic, but annoying nonetheless.

Lastly, twice so far, has the red light begun blinking red for no reason, and refused to stop without intervention. This is particularly vexing because not all the icons change when there is an LED blinking event, so you're left digging through the programs to try and find what you need to check. I understand the LED is kind of a cover-all, and it definitely simplifies alerting, but a bit of text on the screen indicating the program that started the LED event would be nice. Anyways, the first time the LED began blinking for no reason, I read that pulling the battery would clear it, which it did, but the second time, I wanted to figure out a way to stop it without initiating a full reboot of the phone. In my annoyance I turned the phone off ("soft" off, not pull-the-battery off) twice, and on the second time it cleared it. Weird. It's been quite infrequent, so no big deal, just more minor annoyances.

Now for the good bits; I continue to be impressed with the battery life, and the speaker phone has been clear and notably not-annoying from the listener's side. Meanwhile the bold remains quite resilient to the junk in my pocket, resting on rough, hard surfaces, spills of food, and life in general. I've been quite impressed with the gmail notifications, which I receive so fast my blackberry trills, and I hit refresh on my gmail in my browser, and it hasn't gotten the message yet. Technically, it's not that important that blackberry alert the second the mail gets in instead of 5 minutes after it gets in, but fuck you, I want to know I have stupid joke e-mails in my mailbox RIGHT NOW! I really am impressed with the speed of delivery. The keyboard is proving to be more intuitive than I thought it would be. I keep surprising myself with how much I can type with just my left hand without looking. I think in a few more months I might even be able to touch type one handed somehow.

As for my implementation, I've found that calendar items work best for reminding me of things I need to be doing. While I can't specify more than one snooze time, I can click to open the event, and quickly change the alert time to an hour or a day in the future using the trackball. I've gotten used to the trackball, by the way, and am pretty good at seeing how many moves I need to make, and moving my thumb just the right amount before clicking it. It really speaks to the amount of testing that must have gone into figuring the exact sensitivity. Since the trackball is so sensitive, a better way to scroll up and down on long pages in the web browser, or when searching for an old e-mail is to use the spacebar for scrolling down, and shift+spacebar scrolling up.

Also, I like AT&T's ability to easily check your phone minutes, data plan, account balance, and pay your bill. Though I suspect this became an industry standard sometime after I stopped owning my personal cell phone, and using my work cell phone. Still good.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009



Consensual? There is no such thing as "consent" when you're under 18. That's why the crime is called "statutory" rape.

The sexism here is astounding. Felonies dropped down to misdemeanors?

Keep every element of the story the same, and change the trainer to male, and the 16 year old to female, and there is absolutely no question what the result would be.

This kind of double standard is disgusting.

Favorable sexism you'll never see feminists fighting against.

MSNBC PWNED by Paul Ryan

Fucking brilliant!

Why the fuck can't more Republicans be like this???

From HotAir

What an amazing woman.

The Memsahib, wife of Jim Rawles of SurvivalBlog fame, is dying. The doctors have given her two months, and she is working through her Bucket List.

There is an item on her list that she would like your help with.

Finding a woman to take care of Jim after she's gone.

I can't imagine the will it must have taken to write this.

What an amazing woman.

Jim is a lucky man to have had time with her.

Coming out of the closet

It was only about a year ago that I decided to "out" myself as a gun owner to friends, coworkers, and acquaintances. It was made clear to me that we were never going to progress our hobby if we continued to act like it was something that we should be ashamed of.

By acting like shooting paper or having a gun hanging on my wall was completely normal, the people who were surprised or shocked that I did such things began to act like it was completely normal too.

Good job Joe, for being open about your hobby, and refusing to be shamed into excuses and silence.

We're winning, and every heart and mind we can personally change counts.

Why health care is not a right

You cannot have a right to something that necessitates a financial obligation on someone else’s part. [snip] Calling it a "human right" sort of makes a mockery of the term, since actually treating it like a human right would make a whole class of professionals slaves to the rest of us.

Read the whole thing, it's short, and will arm you for future battles with the narrow minded individuals who believe this flawed idea.

Marko hits another one out of the park, and shows us all how professional writers deliver the goods.

Eloquent, concise, clear, and direct. Brilliant.

Of Choice and Want

"From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs"

Karl Marx said that. Then, millions of college students said the same.

"It's genius!" They cry, "If everyone just selflessly helps everyone else out, everyone will be happy! Utopia!"

But lets look at the requirements of the statement. Really dissect it.

"From each according to his ability"

Ability is something we're all born with. 90% of human beings have the ability to do pretty much anything. From the homeless man on the corner to the business executive, almost anyone has the ability to become a doctor (for example). Sure, some have to try harder than others, but we're talking about ability here. If you grab the manager of a Dairy Queen, put a gun to his head, and say "Become a doctor or I'll blow your brains out" and then follow him around with the gun for the years it takes to learn the profession, pay for his education, housing, and food, you have a pretty good chance of making that Dairy Queen manager a doctor.

But why didn't that Dairy Queen manager become a doctor in the first place? He technically had the ability, financial aid is not that difficult to get. Doctors graduate all the time with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, and work to pay that debt off in their practice. Immigrants come to America with nothing more than the shirt on their back, and get college educations by working on campus as janitors while sleeping in the janitor's closet. If the ability is there, why on Earth is this Dairy Queen manger not already a doctor?

Maybe because he didn't want to be a doctor. Maybe he thought it was too much work for not enough pay off. Maybe he hates the sight of blood. Maybe he thinks doctors are quacks. Or maybe he just prefers to work at the Dairy Queen.


The difference between all the doctors, Dairy Queen managers, computer techs, professional bowlers, and the people who aren't doctors, Dairy Queen managers, computer techs, professional bowlers, is that the people who are that profession, chose that profession, and chose to do the work to become that profession because they wanted to, or felt the need to.

But choice has nothing to do with ability.

If a socialist government worker decides you have the ability to become a doctor or the ability to dig ditches, you will have no choice in the matter, and there will be a gun to your head. As any college Marxist will tell you; the success of this ideology depends on everyone doing their part whether they like it or not. What do you think happens to the people who don't play along?

"to each according to his need"

Ahhh, "need." Was there ever a more subjective word? There's a game I like to play when people start talking about need. What kind of car do you drive? If it's not a geo metro, do you really need it? What kind of clothes are you wearing? Bourgeoisie cotton? You know, burlap covers you just as well. What kind of food do you eat? You know, humans can subsist entirely on rice and beans. Do you really need all that flavor?

Well, maybe you really do need all these things. Maybe you need a wagon because you have a lot of kids. Maybe you need cotton because burlap gives you hives. Maybe you need other foods because beans give you stomach cramps. But do you think you're going to get them when you get into the food line, or file the paperwork to get a car? Rest assured, YOU will be the LAST person to determine YOUR need. Otherwise the system doesn't work. Someone else must decide your needs, you may not.

But even if you don't need the car you drive, the clothes you wear, or the food you eat, why do you have them?


Look around you, look at what you're doing, look at who you're with, look at your life. Everything in it, every action you take, every thought you have, is because you want. But want is not a bad word. Some people want to help the homeless. Some people want to have a fast car. Some people work because they want to buy things they like. Some people want to eat thai food. Some people quit smoking because they want to live longer. Some people want to go surfing. Some people change because they want to find love.

Our lives are defined by our wants. We are driven by them! They are what make us unique!

But wants have nothing to do with needs.

Imagine a life without wants.
Imagine waking up in a bed you didn't want, taking a cold shower you didn't want, driving to a job you didn't want, in a car you didn't want, then returning to a home you didn't want, to a family or roommate you didn't want, eating a dinner you didn't want, and going back to sleep in that bed you didn't want knowing tomorrow was going to be exactly the same.

Imagine living a life you didn't want, without the choice to change it.

That, my supposedly well educated friend, is socialism.

Saw a man on the offramp with a sign today

But unlike the other people who sit by freeway offramps and onramps, he made me compulsively reach for my wallet.

The first reason I reached for my wallet was because he was playing the guitar. He was making an effort. He was exchanging his labor for currency.

The second reason was because he looked like someone I would see in a business meeting. He had a haircut with a well-kept goatee, he was wearing khaki slacks and a dress shirt with business-casual shoes.

He could have been any one of us on that offramp, heading in to the office on hump day, wishing for the freedom of the weekend.

Instead he had the freedom we craved, and wished he could go to work.

It hit a little close to home.

His sign read "lost job need money single parent" and his guitar case was open and had a few bills in it.

I didn't have any cash on me or in the car.

I know because I checked.

Who is to blame for Lily Burk's death?

Lily Burk, murdered for daring to trust in the world we live in.

I wrote that over here. But when I read it, I realized there was more to say.

Lily Burk was not just a victim of the world we live in, she was a victim of the society we created.

If you want to know who's fault this is, go to the nearest restroom, and take a hard look in the mirror. If you are 18 years old or over, you are one of the many decision makers in this society, and one of the many responsible for the shape of our society.

If we continue to elect district attorneys who would change a terrible crime to a lesser charge to get a guilty plea, and not have to risk putting a failure on his or her record, we will keep hearing these stories.

If we continue to yell and scream that there are "too many people" in jail, instead of asking why they're in jail, we will keep hearing these stories.

If we continue to allow judges to put violent drug addicts into worthless drug programs instead of jail, we will keep hearing these stories.

If we continue to claim a criminal's actions are due to his upbringing, and not choice he made the second he picked up the gun, knife, or screwdriver, we will keep hearing these stories.

If we continue to subconsciously blame the victim, we will keep hearing these stories.

You realize that right? The reason why Lily Burk's death hits so hard in a city where so many others die every day is because she was perfectly innocent.

When a mugger shoots a man there's a tiny part in the back of your brain that says, "He should have given the mugger what he wanted." When someone is murdered in a home invasion robbery that tiny part says, "They shouldn't have showed off their expensive stuff so much." And yes, even when a woman is brutally raped that tiny part says, "She shouldn't have dressed so sexy/been walking at night/been so unaware."

But these thoughts are not our real feelings. These thoughts are our brains trying to rationalize these horrible acts of evil because we simply can't fathom the mind, heart, or soul that would do such a thing.

Lily was 100% innocent.

That's why we are so taken by this murder. We can't even subconsciously rationalize the events.

But don't worry; there is a way to fix this.

You have to correct your subconscious.

You have to simplify this crime, and others like it.

You have to realize that evil exists in this world.

Pure, unadulterated, remorseless, inexplicable evil.

How it became evil is unimportant. Trying to understand it is pointless. How to prevent it is a question for another time.

What is important is that it exists, and that it is at work in our society.

What is important is that it is irreversibly changing lives.

What is important is that it is murdering our children.

But what is most important is what you will do to stop it.

Read the comments to continue this story.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Lily Burk - Victim of Trust

LA Times: Transient is charged with murder in Lily Burk's death

A horrible story, but not because of the circumstances.

LA Times: Slain girl had been 'looking forward to her life'

A horrible story, but not because of the victim.

LA Times: Suspect in Lily Burk's slaying has history of violent crimes, drug problems, police say

A horrible story, but not because of the failure of the justice system.

What makes this story particularly horrible is the fact that Lily and her mother had spent time volunteering for the homeless, and working to help homeless causes.

Investigators think it is likely this was the reason she may have given the piece of trash below the benefit of the doubt, and may have voluntarily offered to try to get him money. Before he murdered her to feed his drug habit.

Lily Burk, murdered for daring to trust in the world we live in.

I have more thoughts on this topic, but this post is not the place for it. Click here for Who is to blame for Lily Burk's death?

Bumper Sticker Time!

Those who can make you believe absurdities
can make you commit atrocities

I think I might need one of these...

Quote of The Jovian Thunderbolt

Personal weapons are what raised mankind out of the mud, and the rifle is the queen of personal weapons. The possession of a good rifle, as well as the skill to use it well, truly makes a man the monarch of all he surveys. It realizes the ancient dream of The Jovian Thunderbolt, and as such it is the embodiment of personal power. For this reason it exercises a curious influence over the minds of most men, and in its best examples it constitutes an object of affection unmatched by any other inanimate object
~Col. Jeff Cooper - The Art of the Rifle

Monday, July 27, 2009


A little chopped up, there's really more space between the river and the mountain face.

It's the worst recession since the great depression... watch this drive.

Quote of the reading of bills

"I love these members, they get up and say, 'Read the bill,'" said Conyers.

"What good is reading the bill if it's a thousand pages and you don't have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means after you read the bill?"

THAT, is a good question...

In fact? What good are YOU if you sign legislation you don't read?

"What are you trying to convince me of, exactly? That you're as useless as an asshole [on my elbow?]"

Unbelievable. The quote of the day comes from the HotAir article on this subject;
If the elected representatives don’t bother to read the legislation, then we have surrendered representative democracy and adopted an autocracy of Capitol Hill staffers and lobbyists.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Seriously... It's just a piece of cloth...

I was on a youtube wander, and found this video. At first it was kind of silly, then it was kind of funny, then it was fucking hilarious.

I got too much enjoyment out of it not to post it.

A parody of the right's overreaction at a piece of cloth Rachel Ray wore in a commercial.

Exit question: Who will be the first to bring back The Hitler Moustache?

If you can't laugh at yourself...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A very motivational poster

Katrina Motivational motivator poster selling canned goods, water purifiers, guns, and self-sufficiency since 2005
Katrina was the primary reason I became interested in firearms and preparedness. I just couldn't believe the degree to which the people weren't prepared, the degree to which the local governments weren't prepared, and the outlandish idea that the federal government and the president were supposed to save them.

Particularly worrying was that the police officers became looters themselves when confronted with the need to feed their own families.


Yeah right...

Your Serve - DJ Fear

Since I'm in the coding mood, and there was a request, I've decided to post an example of what is affectionately called "Happy Hardcore," which seems to have gotten its name from Anabolic Frolic's "Happy 2B Hardcore" albums.

These albums were all we listened to when we my friend and I did any kind of work, including some serious construction. The average 140 beats per minute is like brain crack. For people like me, it also shuts down the constant unnecessary thinking in my mind, and lets me focus 100% on my task.

So now; an example...

Your Serve - DJ Fear

direct link
For more information about Happy Hardcore music, consult your local library, or click here to pump it into your ears right now.

Born too slow - Crystal Method

File under "Songs you listen to when you want to get pulled over for speeding"

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

All Mine - Portishead (live, Roseland, NYC)

I'm going to watch this slack-jawed one more time...

Quote of Malpractice, Villainous Doctors, and Tonsils

If a privately employed doctor performs unnecessary surgery to remove your kid's tonsils because it makes him more money, a public plan would stop that. [paraphrased]
~Barack Obama


So which bit of magic stops malpractice? Because, that IS malpractice, and when a privately employed doctor performs malpractice, you get to sue for big money.

When a government doctor does the same thing, do you think you'll get to sue?

Hell, even if you do, you get to sue the same people who MAKE laws, and PRINT the money.

Good luck with that...

Sorry guys... This had to be done.

I just couldn't help myself...

Quote of the Obamacare

The real problem with health care is that government-run Medicare and Medicaid are going to bankrupt the country! That is why we need a government-run health care solution. [paraphrased]
~Barack Obama

He really needs to work on his Q&A. Jawing 8-minute rambling perplexities doesn't exactly instill confidence in the people whose health is at stake. When the press asks a short, pointed question, and you respond with a long rambling answer, people are only going to remember the question and that you failed to answer it clearly.

Simple Math



"Buck Ofama"

It's offensive, childish, and should have no place in American politics.

But hey; I didn't make the rules, nor was I the first to break them.

But then; goose, gander, etc.

But most importantly;

Never insult with style when you can insult with substance.

Well... Maybe not "never"... I mean...
Sometimes it's just fun to piss people off...
Er-- I mean-- exercise your right to free speech.
Because we all know what happens to rights unexercised.

Political Junkie, or Concerned Citizen?

This morning, for the first time ever, I got up, made a bee-line for the computer, and checked my favorite blogs for the latest on all things political. I wanted to know what the latest was on the economy, the health care bill, cap and trade, national CCW reciprocity, and on, and on, and on...

I zealously watched representatives be laughed at and mocked by their constituents when they tried to defend the indefensible, and convince the inconvincible.

I chuckled at the new RNC ad cleverly casting the health care reform bill as a pill with very nasty side-effects.

I read with concern as Obama continued to reveal his ineptitude and lack of understanding of the very bills he was pushing under dire threats of "collapse."

I smiled broadly as I read the national reciprocity amendment was defeated, but only by a scant two votes.

I began to get that political feeling. You know the feeling. The one that says, "Quit your job, and go work for a campaign you truly believe in. Become an active part of the solution. Get down in the trenches, and make a difference, even if it's a small one!"

But as I continued reading, all those stories put together didn't spur that feeling as much as this one did.

There, but for the grace of Google, go I.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Quote of the mind's painting

Scenes I've captured in my mind grow more beautiful with age, and were I to have a picture or capture their veneer I would know that they could never be more than that two dimensional box of canvas, paper, or photograph. Their scene would be forever preserved in that box and I could never forget; but they would never become more magical than they were when I witnessed the beauty with all my senses. They could never grow as they could if they were remembered with the beautiful, sad impermanence in a vessel incapable of such preciseness that might be found in the lens of a camera or the contrast of color or the sharp line of ink.

So it is always with a heavy heart that I force these beautiful things into such harsh boxes, and force them to become something more or less than they ever really were. But sometimes, it's the only way they can be communicated to others, and to let their beauty spread, and change hearts.

I suppose it's selfish to keep some of these scenes to myself, but whenever I get the feeling that I can reproduce them, I only end up angry and frustrated. I just don't have the heart, and don't know if I ever will.

Broke 2000 posts

2,024 posts to be exact.

That just blows my mind.

It took me four years to break 1000 posts, and it only took me 15 months to break 2000.

I'm not that good at extrapolation, but according to my calculations, by next year I should have eleventy billion posts.

As before, I will continue to maintain the *ahem* high standards this blog has enjoyed for almost 5 years now.


Yacht Club - Thes One

Dems annoyed at Obama's signing statement

Four senior House Democrats on Tuesday said they were "surprised" and "chagrined" by Obama's declaration in June that he doesn't have to comply with provisions in a war spending bill that puts conditions on aid provided to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

Surprised? Chagrined? Where was this when he started making signing statements mere weeks into his presidency?

How much longer can Obama supporters hold out???

It's going to get ugly... FAST...

Monday, July 20, 2009

That's rough.

Kevin got a referral and a click that was rough for me to read.

The idea of someone half a world away beginning to come to terms with the violence of the place they call home, having exhausted all other avenues besides a desperate google search for help, only to find a long, eloquently written post which answers their question in a way that can be summarized with the words, "You're screwed" is unreal.

Perspective: recession, obama, hell in a handbasket, socialism, deficit, inflation, etc, etc, etc... But at least we don't have to worry about militants hacking our limbs off, or truckloads of 7 year olds gunning us down with AK-47s.

A lack of intelligence or attention to detail?

I was walking through walmart to see if they still had any of the ammo they said they had that morning, which took me through the toy section of the store.

As I walked down the back aisle, I saw a kid (about 10) trying to get a rubber ball out of one of those cages with the open top. He was reaching between the bars of the cage, and trying to throw the ball up and out of the top of the cage, so he could play with it.

Only thing was, most of the bars were made of bungee cords.

As I walked past him, I saw that his arm was bending one of the "bars" slightly. He could actually feel the bars bending. I stopped, turned around, grabbed the two bungee cords he was reaching between, and spread them. The kid looked at me, then the ball, then removed it and said "Thanks!"

The kid was rather young, and I wasn't going to insult his intelligence, but I still got a little chuckle out of it.

I then continued to the ammo aisle, where the man in front of me cleaned them out of everything I wanted, so I left.

On the way back, I saw a man, in his 30s talking to his wife about getting a ball for their daughter. As I approached, I couldn't help but think to myself, "Wouldn't it be funny if he did the same thing that kid did?"

Then he did.

I was wrong...

It wasn't funny.

It was like watching a monkey use the round peg to bash the square peg into the round hole.

I didn't help him.

Friday, July 17, 2009

A Tale of Two Tools

Above are two tools. A handgun, and a hammer. Aside from a small degree of complexity, there is little difference between the two.

The hammer is a standard claw hammer purchased from Harbor Freight for $7. It has a rubberized grip to make it more comfortable to use, and blue paint to make it more attractive.

It can do many things depending on who is using it, and for what task.

A carpenter can build dinner table, a blacksmith can use it to shape metal into other tools, a camper can use it to drive a tent stake into the ground, a painter can use it to reseal his paint cans, a salvager can use it to break down furniture to reusable wood pieces, a sculptor could use it to make a timeless work of art, a humanitarian can use it to build homes for the homeless.

A thief could use it to break a window to get into a house, a mugger could use it to hit his target on the head, a home invader could use it to pry or smash open a home's telephone box to cut the phone lines, a mob enforcer could use it to threaten a shopkeep into paying "protection" money, an abusive husband can use it to break his wife's fingers, a terrorist could use it to smash the teeth of his captive.

The hammer does not object to being used to strike a defenseless woman, nor does it enjoy being used to build shelter for the needy. It is a tool.

The handgun is a Springfield Armory copy of a Model 1911 .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun. This particular model replicated the characteristics of the handgun issued to US soldiers in World War 2. It was purchased for $450 from a California gun shop. Aside from the Chip McCormic trigger, the NightHawk Custom 8 round magazine, and some polishing, it is just as it came from the factory.

It can do many things depending on who is using it, and for what task.

A security guard could use it to deter criminals, a police officer could use it to convince a criminal to give up, a reenactor could use it to honor the soldiers of WW2, a collector could place it in a display case, a senior citizen could use it to protect her home from the crime-heavy neighborhood she can't afford to move out of, a gun rights supporter could exercise his right to free speech by unloaded open carrying it to show support for CCW reform, an in-home nurse could use it to protect himself in the dangerous neighborhoods his work takes him to, a single mother working her second job as a waitress on the night shift could use it to feel secure on her walk to the bus stop, a farmer could use it to shoot the dangerous snakes on his land, a lone hiker could open carry it to show he is not an easy target to thieves, someone could trade it for a $200 gift card at a gun buy back, a father could reveal it to discourage the men surrounding him and his children, a professional target shooter could use it to set a new record, an artist could melt it down to make an anti-gun sculpture, a cafeteria worker could use it to stop a deranged murderer from continuing his killing spree.

A mugger could use it to convince his targets to give up their wallets, an idiot could use it to celebrate the new year by shooting it in the air, a gang member could shoot it at a house from his car to terrorize the occupants, a thug could brandish it to threaten someone, a mob enforcer could point it at a shopkeep to scare him into paying, a recently divorced father of three could use it to kill his family and himself, an anti-social lunatic could use it to kill as many innocent people as possible before killing himself.

The handgun does not object to being used to claim innocent lives, nor does it enjoy being used to protect them. It is a tool.

The moral and philosophical implications of the action taken with the tool lie with the human being using it. Because only a human can understand the moral and philosophical implications of the action taken.

Wanna get pissed off?

Read this:

From Wirecutter


Just saw a bumper sticker that made me double-take.
World peace before 2012
Obama for president


No, really...


Did this person honestly and truly believe that by electing Obama president that he would bring about world fucking peace?!

I can understand being accused of being a cult follower of Obama, but to advertise it on your bumper???

I mean, why not just slap this bumper sticker on your car?
World-wide utopia by 2012
Obama for president

Or this?
Create matter by 2012
Obama for president

How about this?
Lick your elbow by 2012
Obama for president

Or maybe this would be better?
Things beyond the realm of
possibility affect how I vote

But to be fair, putting such a bumper sticker on your car might decrease the amount of not-being-intentionally-rammed-by-other-cars you experience...

Wait a minute...


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Legitimate Knifery

About a month ago, I finally bit the bullet, and bought some steaks to grill on a small charcoal grill I got for free. Attempts to gather some soup-to-nuts beginner grilling information fell flat, since I was apparently supposed to be born with the natural ability to grill meat on fire as soon as my androgynous zygote checked the box for dangly bits.

But who am I to question thousands of years of male genetics? Especially when the steaks turned out surprisingly well. Then again, I guess it IS so easy a caveman can do it...

Anyways, I've been grilling more often, and have been having issues with tools. I've been using a $2 grill brush for moving the coals around, salad tongs for a variety of uses, and my EDC pocket knife for opening bags, meat packaging, for cutting into the meat to ensure it's cooked, and any other odd task it was suited for.

After digging into my pocket repeatedly, and repeatedly finding something to clean the blade on after each use for fear of juices gumming up the works, it was obvious that I needed a small fixed blade utility knife that I could use for these, and other tasks.

The requirements were few; sturdy, short plain blade, good steel, probably a standard or drop point blade, small overall length, and a hopefully ambidextrous clip-style sheath. I didn't want to go leather because most leather sheaths only offer belt loops, and are not ambidextrous. I figured a kydex friction retention sheath would fit better.

After a bit of searching, I wound up at an old favorite that had been on my list for a while.

The Ontario RAT-3 is short and sturdy, made with tool steel, with a good utility handle, and the finger choil I love.

The micarta sheath is ambidextrous, with a belt clip, and friction retention. Perfect to grab and clip to your waistband whenever you need it ready

As it happens, RAT split off from Ontario, in order to produce cutlery as they pleased. They remolded their offerings into the RC series, including the RC-3.

The RC-3 sported a slightly extended grip, thinner blade portion for a better factory edge, a MOLLE sheath attachment for expanded mounting possibilities, and a pointed pommel.

The extended grip is kind of lost on my small hands, and completely unnecessary when choking up on the blade. The thinner blade is actually the opposite of what I wanted, and I had no problem putting a new edge on if the factory edge wasn't very good (as was reported). The pommel looks like a glass breaker, but RAT only lists glass breaker as a feature on their Military RC-3, which is obviously more sharpened than the standard RC-3. So is it for style, or is there really an offensive pommel on a 4" utility knife? Even if it did have a glass breaker, it would be unnecessary for my purposes.

The RC-3 is not much more expensive than the RAT-3, and my knife snob sense kept telling me that more expensive = more better, but when I really looked at what I wanted it for, the RAT-3 was a better fit. Honestly, either would probably be fine, and I would like to support RAT's independence from Ontario.

Since Ontario's RAT series includes models that specifically do not overlap with RAT Cutlery's offerings, I'm guessing RAT now owns the IP to the RAT-3/RC-3 model designation. Maybe this means the RAT-3 is discontinued, and will lower in price, increasing the price differentiation. Normally any price under $200 for a knife-o-phile such as myself would be A-OK, but with the wedding and life right now, I can't spend the money on this fine knife just yet.

As an aside, I hope RAT comes up with a "new" model along the same lines as the RTAK. It's on my list, and I'd like to see what RAT would have done without Ontario's say.

How to call your representatives

I woke to an e-mail from the NRA saying that AB962 was still moving forward, and could be heard as early as Monday.

Basically AB962 would make it illegal for one person to give or sell more than 50 rounds of ammunition to another person without a "handgun ammunition vendor" registration. It would also block the mail ordering ammunition. There is also some fingerprinting bullshit, and a level of record keeping that would come close to literally burying Sacramento in paper within a month. (they truly have no idea how much ammunition is sold in California)

But before we start; lets deal with the idea that you should only call representatives from the district you're in. Here are my thoughts on the subject:
1. If what they do affects you; you get to bitch at them.
2. If you pay their salary; you are their boss.
3. Fuck 'em! Call them and bitch anyway.

The NRA e-mail included the phone numbers of those on the state senate appropriations committee, and since I was reading it on my phone, I could call with a button press, and press I did.

When I was done, I had the same nagging feeling that I hadn't accomplished anything.

While I believed I had the authority to call and bitch to representatives of districts I didn't live in, it was obvious that they didn't. The first question out of their mouth was either "what's your zip code?" or "what city are you in?", and the conversations got real short after the answer.

The real issue was that I was dealing with subordinates, and the subordinates were likely instructed to disregard calls from those who were not in their districts. While I tried to argue, "If what you vote affects me, you ARE my representative!" I usually didn't get halfway through the sentence before I was hung up on.

Then I remembered, Fuck 'em! Call them and bitch anyway.

If I couldn't speak directly to the state senator, then I would take steps to ensure my message got to them. I went back to the top of the list, and did a Google search on the first representative, and looked up their district info. I found the best way was to get the address of one of their non-Sacramento offices, so I could have the city and zipcode if I needed it.
State Senator Christine Kehoe (D-39), Chair
(916) 651-4039

San Diego Office
2445 Fifth Ave., Suite 200
San Diego, CA 92101

I flipped back to the e-mail, and started the call, then flipped back to the e-mail so I didn't fuck up the bill number. As the phone rang, I tried to get into character.
Sub: Office of Senator Christine Kehoe
Me: [forcefully] Hi, I'm calling to find out if the senator I voted for is supporting AB962.
*the difference in tone of the subordinate was immediately apparent*
Sub: Uh-- It's not yet out of committee, so she hasn't had a chance to really look at it yet. Can I ask where you're calling from?
*flip back to browser* go blackberry multitasking! :)
Me: My zip code is 92101.
Sub: Yeah, I'm pretty sure that's San Diego.
Me: Of course it's San Diego. How else would I have voted for her? I just want to find out if I'm going to vote for her next time or against her. I WILL vote Republican if my only Democrat choice is her. I do NOT want AB962 passing.
Sub: Well, she wasn't really around during other gun votes, though she did vote for the .50 caliber ban.
Me: I don't care about .50 calibers, frankly, I think she was right to ban them. What I DO care about is whether or not I'm going to be able to lend my friends in LA guns and ammo like I had to during the LA riots. The police left them high and dry, and they were afraid for their lives!
Sub: Well, the senator has some issues with the funding for the bill. It passed the blahblah committee with blahblah, but she's not sure where funding for something like this would come from in this financial crunch, blahblah.
Me: I don't really care about the circumstances, all I care is that she votes against it.
Sub: Ok, thanks for your call.

I feel much better now.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Quote of the most important accessory

Don't get too hung up on accessories. Simple is good. The best thing you can put on any firearm is wear. I had an instructor once say "Bond with your weapon until it wags it's barrel when it sees you coming."

Some genius from Oblio13, whose blog I am reading through with much satisfaction.


I woke up with an idea. Here it is...

Read full size


Monday, July 13, 2009

The truth about Canada's "free" healthcare

Vote this up, and pass it around.

People need to see this.

Rage-o-hol! Now in new flavors!

From a chat with JD of Ballistic Deanimation...
JD: I can use Word or Google docs...
actually, now that Wordpress doesn't completely hose the formatting that should be easy
then I can write now, and capture the all the rage and teeth-clenching stupidity as it happens!
ET: that's the best way!
bottle that shit, and sell it as a JD's rage tonic
JD: I'd have to have huge liability insurance
how I manage to keep from committing felonies daily boggles the mind...anyone not used to it is screwed
ET: just sell it with the disclaimer "not to be used by anyone ever for any reason
JD: never stand up in civil court
which would be fuel for more RAGE
JD: perpetuating the cycle into one big, angry circle
ET: Ragoholics anonymous; People addicted to Rage-o-hol
JD: Rageohol...the new energy drink
JD: Your daily drive? Much better with rageahol
JD: Your meeting with the boss? Rage it out
TPS reports?
ET: Now with 10% more "FFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUU"
In different flavors!
"Government waste Green Apple"
"Recidivist Pedophile early release program Red!"
JD: lol
ET: "Love Triangle Lemon!"
JD: Smelly Greenpeace Hippy Whale-hugger Kelp Flavored!
"Boss is younger than me Blue Raspberry!"
JD: My Wife Loves My Brother Pineapple
and then one simply named...
Obama Banana
ET: "Double parker Sour grapes"
JD: with a subtitle...BOHICA
ET: lol
JD: lol
Have you had your rage-o-hol this morning?
ET: "unexpected car maintenance cherry!"
"Over on your cell minutes melon!"
JD: Entitlement Complex Cherry! I'm drinking it right now!
ET: Contest: What's your recipe for rage???
this shit it gold
JD: blog this
I can' must
ET: It's the only way people will know!
JD: and buy our shit!

Friday, July 10, 2009

IOUs hit home

My company was just notified that one of our customers will have to cancel the service, and will likely close their doors because they can't pay their bills with state-issued IOUs.

The customer is a non-profit battered women's shelter.

They must now turn out the women who were living there because the only other place they could live was likely with the person who beat them.

Meanwhile, state union workers are enjoying their 90% pensions, that the Ca. supreme court has ruled may NOT be paid with IOUs.

Fuck you, California.

For the record...

I don't have a problem with BO checkin' out some chick's rear-gear, just as I didn't really have a problem with him making the special olympics bowling joke.

What I DO have a problem with, however, is the widely acknowledged public notion that Obama walks on water, can do no wrong, and offend no being large or small.

Revealing the double standard is my goal in raising these points, not saying he shouldn't be president because he got caught taking a peek at a beautiful member of the opposite sex, or made a self-deprecating joke.

Blackberry power update

The phone has been off power for about 16 hours, and was used sparingly for a short phone call, a few text messages, about 10 mins of internet access, and receipt of a few e-mails. It's at 80% power now.

I think it's safe to say that on minor use, the blackberry will last 1.5 to 2 days on battery power.

But that's not very interesting.

So I'm going to start playing Pandora, and see how long we can go from 80% :)
UPDATE: Two hours, and I'm at 55%, so about 12.5% an hour playing Pandora? Potentially 8 hours of Pandora playing off battery power? Nice.

Oh yeah, almost forgot, one more thing I like about the Bold. Separate memory threads are used in SMS and e-mail generation. This means that instead of the browser opening the e-mail app to send an e-mail, it has its own e-mail interface to the app. Same for SMS. This means when you open the contact screen, select "Send SMS," and begin writing the message, if you get an SMS before you finish, you can flip to Messages, read the new SMS, and flip back to Contacts, and finish your SMS. This is intelligent multitasking, and I love it.
UPDATE: oh yeah, one more thing, the speakers on the Bold are retardedly awesome. The quality of sound is fucking brilliant, even on the loudest setting. VERY impressed.

Fighting for Liberty is back!

The blog Fighting for Liberty was in limbo for a bit.

After a few admissions, it wasn't obvious if Liberty would continue writing.

Lucky for us, he chose to return!

But why didn't anyone tell me he came back?

Check him out at Fighting for Liberty.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Two Obama Jokes

While I see no reason to poke fun at a man who I honestly feel sorry for, I got too much of a kick out of these not to post them.

Q: What's the main problem with Barack Obama jokes?
A: His followers don't think they're funny and everyone else doesn't think they're jokes.

Q: What's the difference between a large pizza and the typical Obama backer?
A: The pizza can feed a family of four.

You spend 1/3 of your life on your bed. Buy a good mattress.

Over the last several months (kind of hard to remember specifically, but within the last 6 months), I've had progressively worse night's sleep. Our mattress was old, but I didn't believe that I could sleep on it fine for all those years, and then suddenly a switch flips, and I can't sleep on it.

The weird thing was that I had no problem getting 8 hours with REM sleep, but when I woke, I was no longer tired, but I was also not rested. I was fatigued, but couldn't go back to sleep. I snore, and after seeing what sleep apnea looks like, I decided to do a sleep study.

Kaiser is actually pretty good about it, all you have to do is get an appointment (took a month, they're in high demand), pick up the equipment, get instruction on how to use it, use it while you sleep at your home in your own bed (none of that sleep-at-the-hospital nonsense), then return it the next day.

Coincidentally, the day I did the study was the last day we had the old mattress. That day was a bad day. I felt like I hadn't slept for three days, and I probably could have slept standing up, so I didn't think it was a good indication of the restfulness of my sleep with the old mattress out of the equation. The nights since then have been much better, and the only exceptions could be explained with appointments and events modifying my sleep schedule. However, I was cautiously optimistic that the old mattress was the cause of all my problems.

Now I don't have to worry. I got the call this morning that the data from my sleep study had been reviewed, and that I was not having breathing problems while I slept.

So those months of suffering were just because I didn't want to buy a new mattress, because I didn't think a mattresses could suddenly (for lack of a better word) break.

Sleep on good mattresses folks. You spend one third of your life on 'em.

How much longer can Obama supporters hold out?

It has been about 6 months, (SIX MONTHS) since Barack Obama was inaugurated, and already polls have shifted severely, support has dropped sharply, and people are not happy with how things are running under the president who was whisked into office under tremendous public support, waving a banner of hope and change.


It's gonna get ugly.

How much longer can Obama supporters hold out?

And when they do finally cave in, will they turn on their idol for allowing them to be mislead? Or will they merely slink away to go sulk over the stuttering of their brilliant orator, and the flailing of their steady-handed economic genius? Maybe they'll blame the rest of the democrat party for taking command without a well-thought-out plan besides tax and spend?

But I suppose those questions are unimportant.

What IS important, I think, is whether or not the Republican party will have its act together by then. I'm going to go out on a limb here, and say "no."

What would be more interesting, would be if the Dems screw the pooch so badly that they can't win, and the Repubs remain dullards, and run another McCain, leaving the people to seriously question the two party system.

Should be interesting. Interesting is different. Different, when talking about the state of politics today, is good.

A cynical bit of my brain (ok, it's bigger than a "bit") still wants to make sure those idiots who think they can vote for politicians based on anything other than their policy will feel the pinch of their hasty decisions.

I want them to know that the person they vote for has the ability to affect their everyday lives.

Whether or not they can get a job, get health insurance, pay for their car and gas, and (most important no doubt) the price of the beer they "chug," and the amount of clubs that are open.

This is what I hope is going to happen in California. Once services start to suffer, and California begins to resemble a second-world nation, where some days you don't have power, some days your water doesn't work, some days the grocery store doesn't get resupplied, and most days you can't help but notice the increase in crime, maybe people will start paying closer attention to the people they vote for.

I imagine a future where politicians are afraid of even implying that they'll adopt the policies that led to the depression of 2010.

Heaven knows the pendulum of social alignment must be reaching the zenith of its leftward swing.

Era of conservatism on the horizon? One can only hope. Either way, we're in for a bumpy ride.

Blackberry power notes

Not sure exactly why, but the battery usage dropped considerably.

Out of the box, it needed to be charged every half day, and wouldn't make it through the night, but now, the battery meter just doesn't want to go down.

I think I'm going to give it a good charge, and see how long it runs off power (and keep track of all my interactions with it).

Also, the bedside mode is a bit squirrely. When it's on power, and in bedside mode, all the lights turn off, and the display dims heavily. But sometimes I wake up, and the display is at normal brightness, and I have to exit bedside mode, and enter it again. Odd.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Unnecessary cellular speakerphone usage

File under "Things I Hate"

I have no problem with people who need their hands free, and put their cell phone on the table with speakerphone on, that's understandable. Or when you want more than one person to listen, which is what speakerphone was actually intended for.

I'm talking about the people who walk around with their phone three inches from their face, with the speaker phone on, volume maxed out, talking to their phone at a high volume.

Why, god why?

1. You're holding the phone THREE INCHES FROM YOUR FACE ALREADY! Just close the gap, and push it against your face!

2. I don't care that your sister needs to be picked up because her car broke down, AND YET IT'S NOW TAKING UP SPACE IN MY BRAIN!

3. FUCK YOU. The next time I see another fuckktard like you doing that, I'm going to call someone on my phone, switch to speaker phone, turn up the volume on my phone and myself, and follow you around having a loud conversation about how I'm talking to this person on speakerphone, even though the phone is three inches from my face, and how I have a condition that prevents me from lowering the volume on my voice. If I'm feeling punchy, I might even throw in what a insensitive asshole I am for inconveniencing and annoying everyone around me.

Ahhh... That feels better...


JD sees what I see, and offers some advice.
When firing at a target on a pronounced downhill angle, you’ve got to aim low as the bullet strike will be higher.

He also has some choice words for the mentality at play in Iran. Or rather; the mentality that is NOT at play.

Give him a read.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Terin the Orcish Ranger

After a few false starts, I decided to try something new, and went with a new kind of character.

>Hello Terin, welcome to NetHack! You are a chaotic male orcish Ranger.

I must say that I liked infravision, auto-search, and cloak of displacement for a Ranger character. Maybe this is a winning pick. All my elvish Rangers started with an elvish cloak, instead of displacement, and I like displacement better than invisibility. Plus I lucked out and got a +2 cloak of displacement. At first, I was using my +0 arrows instead of my +2 arrows in order to keep them from breaking when used, but after a few close calls, I realized that I needed to focus on staying alive for the first part of the game, and I could always make more enchanted arrows if I manage to use them all up. Fortunately, the enchantment seemed to keep them from mulching as fast as the +0 arrows, and I'm betting that blessing them will make them even better. Still, I focused on using my dagger as much as possible, since it was better to throw daggers than arrows, and I could poison arrows without my god being mad at me for using such an underhanded tactic. Chaotic alignments have their perks, I suppose.

Sadly, the first few levels were not as fruitful as those of my recently departed previous characters. How I managed to mess up that Valk with the two general stores on the second and third level, I'll never know. But that didn't matter now. What mattered was Terin the Orcish Ranger.

I found a storage box on the first level, and began filling it up with everything I found lying around to keep it from being used against me, and for later perusal once I had an altar to help identify their cursed status. Since the pile was small, I used my dog Sirius to check for cursed items, and tried on the armor that was not cursed. I lucked out and found a +2 orcish helm, which I think gives me a +1 class bonus for being an orc and wearing an orcish item of armor.

We found the mines, and I realized the box was more useful there, so I laboriously moved the heavy box down two levels, and placed it next to the stairs to the mines. I found a ring, lucky for so soon into the game, and after it met Sirius' approval, I tried it on. Nothing. Normally I'd leave it on to see if any effects come up during play, but one of my recently failed characters' death by starvation hung in my memory, and I took it off. Rings increase your caloric usage to use their magic, and I was too fragile at the moment to risk starvation. My dog grew rather quickly, and was kicking butt and saving mine when I needed it for those first few levels, but once I was strong enough, we entered the mines to make our way to the town, and start working on my gem collection.

The going was rather easy, but a bit slow since the mines are dark. I quickly found a dwarvish mithril-coat, which dropped my armor class considerably, but while greedily chasing a pair of fleeing gnomes, I fell through a trap door, and two levels down into unexplored darkness. This was particularly bad because I hadn't found the down stairs on the level I was on, which meant I'd have to find the up stairs on this level, and the next, in the dark, unaided by my pet, and make it back in time to reunite with Sirius.

I passed on some good equipment in my search for the stairs, and was afraid I'd pay for it by facing weak gnomes with good armor and weapons upon my return, but I couldn't afford to be burdened, and I didn't dare take the chance of trying on cursed items. I wasn't that desperate yet. I needed Sirius to help me identify cursed items so I could use safe items, and get my armor class as low as possible, as quickly as possible, so I had to get back before he forgets about me, and goes feral.

After a lot of wandering in the dark, I made it back to Sirius, who still remembered me, and we fought our way down to gather up the items I had left lying around on my ascent. After gathering everything into piles on each level, we proceeded further, and found the next level was the mine town. Lying on the ground next to the stairs on the town level was an amulet. After a quick sniff by Sirius, I tried it on to no effect. I didn't think amulets made me as hungry as rings did (plus amulets usually have better effects), so I decided to keep wearing it in the hopes that some dungeon experience would reveal it's function to me. The town temple was a great place to identify things and try out new armor safely, but all the items were spread out. I needed to get everything down to the mine town. I wanted to run a clean dungeon, and the more items I checked, the more likely I was to find good stuff.

So, I started a campaign of tedium. Moving back up to the entrance of the mines, and slowly moving everything down level after level, unable to carry much, for fear of being trounced while lugging too much weight around. I ran into a kitten, who, after a tripe ration, was happy to call me master. This was particularly helpful, because as I was weighed down with items, I was quite slow, and monsters were able to pop around corners and get a few hits in before my next turn, but with two pets guarding me, I felt much more confident.

Still, this took a long time. A lot of moving back and forth, this pile to that pile, and on and on and on. But it was all going to be worth it, when everything was in the temple, tested for cursed/blessed status, and tried on by me.

On one of the last runs, I left the temple, and saw an ampersand down the hall from me. Ampersands are demons, and I figured this one would just be a succubus, or other minor-level demon. I checked the status and was startled to find it was a major demon called Nalfeshnee! What the shit!? There was no way I was ready to take on a major demon, but there was also no way I should run into one at this level either! I checked more information to see if I could get some other kind of hint.

>Not only do these demons do physical damage with their claws and bite, but they are capable of using magic as well.

That's not good. But it's also not what I was looking for. I need more information. I did a quick google image search to see what I was up against. OH FUCK! This is very not good.

Before considering my moves, I dumbly make a run for it. I take two turns, and he begins closing the the gap quickly. I go around the corner, switch to my bow, and make sure my +2 arrows are quivered. If only I'd had a way to bless them sooner. Sirius and my large cat are already rushing toward the corner, and I'm feel sorry that they likely won't survive this attack (nor, likely, will I), when around the corner comes... a blue jelly. wtf?

Blue jellies are very slow, so there's no way one was in that hallway ahead of that demon, which means... Its a chameleon! I unleash a salvo of +2 arrows at the blue jelly, and Sirius begins biting it as it changes form again into a rothe (a weak bison-like animal). Knowing I need to kill it before it turns into something even more nasty, I don't hold back, and hit it again with another salvo of +2 arrows. It falls, and leaves no corpse. Whew! Well, I guess a corpse might have been ok. Maybe one of my pets would have eaten it, and transformed into something powerful. Or maybe something weak. It's probably for the best it didn't leave a corpse.

That excitement aside, I finally finish moving everything to the temple, and gleefully begin processing all the equipment.

I'm so preoccupied with trying on new armor that I don't realize I've become hungry, and am startled by the message of hunger. Whoops! No problem, I've got plenty of rations! I tap 'e' to bring up the eating menu

>You don't have anything to eat.

What? I had tons of rations. I check my piles of stuff, and find no rations among them. Oh shit, I forgot how much food I ate while I was doing all that heavy lifting! I wrap my towel around my head, blinding me, and focus on my the telekinesis I picked up after eating a floating eye corpse. I spot a few edible monsters in the corner, but they are quite far away. I'm pretty sure I can make it to them. I'm sure I'll be fine. I step out of the temple, and spot a dingo in the opposite direction of the other monsters, and make a bee-line for it. I slash at the dingo with my dagger, and kill it, but it leaves no corpse. Damn! I make my way back toward the monsters in the corner, and faint from lack of food. Shit! I'm further along than I thought! Oh well, time to ask for some help. I pray to my god for his help.

>The voice of Mars booms: "Thou art arrogant, mortal!

He knocks knocks me down one experience level. Shit! I forgot I prayed to him for help when I got surrounded earlier! I asked for help again too soon! What am I going to do?! I hit 'e' again, and get the same message. I open my inventory, and double check for something that can get me out of this. I remove my unidentified amulet, to slow my hunger, but there's nothing to help. I turn my sights to the monsters in the corner of the map, and realize they're my closest source of food. I can do it. I can make it. I take a step... and faint from lack of food.

The next few turns consist mostly of me taking a few steps, and fainting. Fortunately, my large cat keeps me save while I'm helpless, but it also eats the corpses of anything that dies. I regain consciousness and take another step just as a tengu teleports between me and my large cat. What luck! It's like food delivery! I don't care if I get teleportitis when I eat him, I'm dying here! I make sure I have my bow ready, and my +2 arrows quivered. I'll have to risk missing and hitting my large cat, I need to drop this tengu! I fire, and miss the tengu, and my large cat, and promptly faint... My large cat fights with the tengu, and kills him! He leaves a corpse that I hope won't be rotten by the time I wake, and... my large cat eats the corpse! I'm so fucked! I regain consciousness, a few more steps toward my goal, and faint. I try to recall how many times I've fainted, and as near as I can figure, I'm not going to make it to the corner before starving to death.

I jab 'e' again.

>You don't have anything to eat.

I check my inventory again... Nothing! I think about digging through the floor in the hopes to land on a level near some monsters I can kill, and eat, but unless my pets are right next to me when I finish the hole, they won't follow me down, and I'll probably faint anyways once I'm down there, AND digging is hard work, and likely to make me even more hungry! Damnit! There's GOT to be a way out of this! I wrack my brain and decide to take another look around with telekinesis to see if any new monsters appeared nearby. I wrap my head in the towel, and focus on the location of monsters... Damnit! Nothing new! There's GOT to be something. I look at the nearby monsters, and see nothing. Just the priestess, who could kick my ass on my best day, a few soldiers I locked in a room on the far side of the map, and the two gnomes in the corner I'm trying to get to... Well... Technically, that's not ALL of them... My large cat is four spaces away...

I immediately cast the idea out of my head. I can't eat one of my pets! ... Wait... Can't I? I'm a chaotic character, so my god won't be pissed if I do, and I've got two pets... It just seems wrong... I think about it a bit longer. There's nothing else to do. If I don't eat, I'm going to die, and all that work will be for nothing. I start to eye my large cat. I might not even be able to kill it. It's faster than me, and easily tougher than me, especially in my state. I check my inventory, and spot a potion of sleep. Of course, if it was asleep... I hurl the potion of sleep at my poor large cat, it shatters, and leaves a cloud that puts my large cat to sleep.

Wait. What am I doing? Am I really going to eat my pet large cat? Just stop. Wait. Sleep on it... Ok.

I save the game, and try to think of a way out of my predicament.

Over the next few days I manage to generate exactly zero ideas to save Terin. Slowly, I come to terms with the extremely likely death of my Orcish Ranger, and actually allow myself to get excited about the prospect of starting a new Orcish Ranger.

When I think I'm ready to deal with it, I return to the game.

>You are lucky! Full moon tonight.

I don't think that luck is going to help Terin find food... I take one more look at my inventory with fresh eyes, and knowing death is imminent, I put on the unidentified amulet for a very remote possibility. I make sure I'm equipped properly and do the only thing I can do. I fire on my large cat. I loose two +2 arrows and faint. My large cat dances around, trying to get out of the way of my apparently accidental fired arrows. I regain consciousness, and fire off a few more arrows. My large cat moves around a corner, and I approach a few more steps, and faint. I regain consciousness, and take another step toward the corner when my large cat appears to see if I'm done accidentally hitting him. I'm not. I loose three more arrows, and my large cat retreats behind the corner. I faint again, sooner than last time, and regain consciousness. I round the corner, and see my large cat 5 spaces away. Even if I get him, I'm not sure I can make it over there to eat him (IF he leaves a corpse!) before dying of starvation. I quickly imagine my Orcish Ranger, inches from death, and feet from the object of his salvation, dragging himself forward only to die just before getting there. C'mon, you can get it! I fire a single arrow at my large cat, which misses my confused pet harmlessly.

I take another step, and faint for the last time.

>You die from starvation. But wait... Your medallion begins to glow!--More--
>You survived that attempt on your life.--More--
>You feel much better! The medallion crumbles to dust!

HOLY SHIT! It was an amulet of life saving! The chance of that was extremely slim! Good thing I put it on just in case!

I stand up; healed, and no longer hungry. I survived.

My large cat cautiously approaches me. I reassure him, and he purrs.

I hit 'C' and move the cursor to my large cat.

>What do you want to call your large cat?


Ok, I think I may have used up all my luck for today. I save and exit the game.

Monday, July 06, 2009

The Rip - Radiohead (Portishead cover)

This is all kinds of awesome. It's kind of skimpy on the volume, so you might need to turn it up.

They took down the vid, click here.

As she walks in the room,
Scented and tall,
Hesitating once more.
And as I take on myself,
And the bitterness I felt,
Realize that love lost, while
White horses,
They will take me away,
And the tenderness I feel,
Will send the dark underneath,
Will I follow?

Through the glory of life,
I'm scattered on the floor,
Disappointed and sore.
And in my thoughts I have bled,
For the riddles I've been fed,
Another lie moves over, while
White horses,
They will take me away,
And the tenderness I feel,
Will send the dark underneath,
Will I follow?

While, white horses,
They will take me away,
And the tenderness I feel,
Will send the dark underneath,
Will I follow?

Hat Tip StoutRepublican

What do you see?

Some people see a callous regime, drunk on power, gunning down unarmed protesters in the street from the rooftops.

Others see a perfect shot opportunity from a defensible position.

Don't count your chickens before they've hatched.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

[no specific reference to current day events, just insert any one of the many applicable ones]

Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.