Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Law Bleg

Working on something, and I can't find the law, amendment, or precedent that says that Constitutional protections extend to non-citizens in the United States.

Can anyone point me in the right direction?

A Modest Proposal

Apparently the Daytona 500 went off the other night, after a delay due to rain.  There seems to have been quite a few crashes, at least one of which included a fireball made when a racecar collided with a tank of jetfuel.

I'm not much of a NASCAR fan.  I watch it when I'm visiting friends and family and want to sit and drink beer with the menfolk, and I've worked at a couple of races at Kentucky Speedway.  I'm not really a "car" guy, and "Go fast, turn left" gets boring after a while.

But if NASCAR was to go back to its roots, I'd quickly become a fan.  Here's what I think should be done to jazz up the races:
  1. Quit racing on super speedways.  Race on two-lane country roads that are laid out to form a five mile course.  This should include hills, right and left turns, and trees.
  2. Make all cars have a trunk.  Put a couple hundred gallons of denatured alcohol in the trunk to replicate the rum-running experience for today's drivers.
  3. Race unless there are tornadoes in the area.  Rain, shine, snow, whatever.  Bootleggers had to get the moonshine to market no matter what, so today's drivers can do it.
  4. Every so often, put a chase car out there to take a lap.  Any car that gets passed by the chase car has to stop in pit row until the leader has done one lap.  That will simulate the experience of being chased by revenuers and county sheriffs.
These simple things would make NASCAR much more interesting to me.  

News Roundup

  • From the "Dumbass" Department - A man in New York is in trouble after a video of him shooting a gun showed up on Facebook, which appears to be a no-no for someone on parole.  I have issues with the "no guns for life" rule for felons, and if you want to put videos of yourself shooting on-line, more power to you. But if you're on parole or probation or some other kind of "you screwed up and the government gets to supervise your life for a while" program and the judge says don't touch guns, then don't touch guns.  Remember, if you're going to do something stupid, don't do it in front of a camera.
  • From the "What's in a Name?" Department - A young lady in Sweden has succeeded in convincing the name registration office to change her name from 'Quila' to 'Tequila'.  Apparently her parents had to use the shortened version when their original name was turned down.  My guess is they really liked drinking fermented cactus juice at about the time she was born.  I can sympathize with that.  You want your child's name to remind you of good times.  If I'd followed that model, Junior would be named Thor, Little Bear would have been named Jack, Girlie Bear would have been known as Modela, and Boo would be named Woodford.  At least one  child in my family would have been named Hamms or Pabst, or maybe even David.  Thinking about this, naming a boy MadDog would be pretty kickass, but a little sad.
  • From the "Nothing Good Happens After Midnight" Department - A man in Florida was arrested after he drove his van over someone else's car.  Since it happened at 5:05 AM and a crowd of people was there to encourage him, I'm pretty sure alcohol was involved.  Now, I've been up until 5 AM drinking before, so I'm not going to judge, (Actual quote - We better stop drinking.  We've got morning formation in an hour), but if you're still making a habit of it at 40, you might want to consider getting a sponsor.
  • From the "Crop Dusting" Department - A couple in New York were surprised to have their yard, deck, and bodies sprinkled with sewage from an airplane overhead.  For those of you who believe in omens, this is not considered a sign of good luck.  The worst part of it, outside of having to scrub their entire bodies with Pine-Sol and a Brillo pad, is that they're going to have areas in the lawn that grow much quicker than others.  No-one likes a spotty lawn.

Name of the Day

In Arizona, a man has been charged with a raft of crimes.  While what he is accused of is pretty ordinary, his name stands out:  Nubian T. Amon-Ra.

Someone please tell me that his mother didn't do that to him, and for the love all that is holy, please tell me that the 'T' stands for 'Tutankhamun'.  Just how big an ego do you need or how much weed do you have to smoke in order to consider changing your name to copy an ancient Egyptian god?

Maybe it's his secret identity, like in Batman. We could have a whole pantheon of arch-criminals named after gods:

  • Apollo - An athletic, attractive young man who uses his charms to get into the checking accounts of rich women.  His female counterpart could be Aphrodite, who would do the same thing to older men.  Heck, they could be in a friendly competition to see who can steal the most money from the richest people.
  • Thor - A bank robber who uses a gigantic hammer to just bash in the door on the vault rather than bother with what's in the teller's drawer.
  • Mercury - A lightly built man who runs numbers faster than anyone else.
  • Cthulhu - A big scary guy who runs protection rackets against whole continents
Heck, maybe we're looking at a public display of an entire underworld here.

Today's Earworm

30 Days of Twain - Day 28

If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything.

My Take - Telling lies is so exhausting because you have to keep all the lies straight.  I'm lazy, so I tell the truth.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Thought for the Day

I need to learn to swear in Hindi, Pashtu, Urdu, and Chinese.  It would help me to get my point across.

Today's Earworm

30 Days of Twain - Day 27

As I slowly grow wise I briskly grow cautious.

My Take - I think Heinlein was thinking of this when he said "Live and learn, or don't live long".  I'm always amazed at what I lived through as a younger man, mostly caused by my own stupidity and ego.  Age may not make me wiser, but it does make me more conscious of my ability to die.

Monday, February 27, 2012

An Old Friend Gets An Upgrade

Popular Mechanics has a quick blurb on the facelift our fleet of B-52 bombers is getting so that they can be more effective weapons and stay in the air until 2040.  This includes improved radar and radios, better brakes, and an improved ordnance carrying capacity.

I have a lifelong affection for these big mothers.  I was born a few miles from Minot Air Force Base, and I can't remember a time in my life I didn't hear those things rumbling overhead.  Heck, the team at my first school (Grades 1 through 12 all under the same roof) was the "Bombers", and there was a huge mural of a B-52 on the wall of the gym.  The terrain around the school must have reminded someone of somewhere overseas, because it was commonplace for a bomber to do a low-level practice run over the top of our playground.

A lot of my friends fathers either flew or maintained the bombers, and I knew something was up when all of the dads disappeared at odd intervals.  I remember one really bad Saturday sometime around 1980 when all the fathers ran out of their homes pulling on their uniforms and heading back to base as fast as they could.

So now we're going to keep the B-52 in the air until I'm almost 70 years old, which would make the airframes almost 90 years old by the time they're retired.  If they can make it that far, that's got to be some kind of record.  It would be like the Navy still flying Curtiss biplanes to patrol the coastline, or the Army keeping Grant tanks in the active force.  Here's hoping that these old, dependable aircraft continue to be an integral part of our air power for a long time.

H/T to Instapundit.

Quote of the Day

Use common sense.  If you jump a subway turnstyle, you might get away with a warning from the police.  But if you jump a subway turnstyle carrying a loaded gun and smoking a joint, maybe you need to get your ass kicked. -- Chris Rock, "How to not get your ass kicked by the police" - Link NSFW for language

Today's Earworm

30 Days of Twain - Day 26

Loyalty to petrified opinions never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul in this world — and never will.

Thought for the Day

Stepping into a hot shower while still drowsy and stepping on a wet, lifesize, silicone rubber frog that squishes under your foot just like the real thing is better than a cup of coffee.

Not as good as a bat with a nicotine habit, but it does the trick.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Today's Earworm

Johnny Cash, February 26, 1932 – September 12, 2003

News Roundup

  • From the "Bad Idea" Department - A judge in Georgia recently took his gun out to make a point during a trial.  A witness was being uncooperative, and the judge suggested the witness shoot her lawyer.  Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm DaddyBear's Den welcome to the honorable Judge David Barrett, the next bad example to be used ad nauseum by anti-gun organizations.  Keeping and recovering our rights is hard enough without giving those who oppose us even more  ammunition.
  • From the "Grand Theft WASR" Department - A teenager in Florida confessed to stealing an AK-47 clone and some ammunition from a house his mother works at as a housekeeper.  His excuse was that he really liked it and he didn't think his mom would buy one like it for him.  The young man probably ought to ask for incarceration, because coming home to his mother would be worse.  Better she have a while to cool off and find a new job before she lays into him.
  • From the "You Keep Using That Word" Department - The riots in Afghanistan over the disposal of Korans that were being used to send messages by internees at a prison in Afghanistan continue. So far four American soldiers have died, and seven more were wounded Sunday when "demonstrators" threw grenades at a NATO base.  Note to reporters and the U.S. government - when the bullets and hand grenades start flying, it's no longer a demonstration or protest, it's an attack.  The military leadership in Afghanistan and the Obama administration must have fill-in-the-blank forms for apologizing to foreign governments.  They issued apologies to Afghanistan, Muslims everywhere, the queen of Sheba, and Abe Vigoda within hours of the incident.  No word yet on whether they'll be apologizing to the families of the soldiers who are killed and wounded when 'peaceful protesters' start using deadly force instead of chanted slogans and our government wouldn't let them return effective fire.
  • From the "Welcome Home, Soldier" Department - The military has announced that the remains of the last missing soldier from fighting in Iraq have been identified.  SSG Ahmed Kousay Altaie went missing several years ago when he left his units base in Baghdad to visit family and was abducted.  No word yet on the circumstances of his death or the recovery of his remains.  SSG al-Taie, it's good to have you back.  

30 Days of Twain - Day 25

To create man was a fine and original idea; but to add the sheep was a tautology.

My Take - Some would be insulted by the idea that men are sheep, but after meeting people from around the world, that may be an overestimation.

Making your own luck

A Louisville Metro policeman probably owes his life to luck and good training:

The police badge Officer Washington was wearing actually deflected one of the bullets. That, combined with the fact that he was wearing a protective vest, kept his injuries from being much worse.
 I didn't know this, but LMPD doesn't require patrolmen to wear a vest all the time.  Officer Washington was trained to wear it in school, so he got in the habit of doing something smart that wasn't absolutely required.  That probably saved his life last night.

I'm Scandinavian enough to believe in luck.  But I'm enough of a realist to believe that we usually make our own luck.  You put on your seat belt, make sure your kids are belted into car seats, do a chamber check on your firearm before you put it in the holster, and a myriad of other things every day that if they're ever needed, someone is going to say "You were lucky you did X this morning.".

I'm glad Officer Washington is alive, and yeah, he got lucky when a wildly fired shot hit him in the badge and the vest.  But his training and good sense made his luck much more potent.  We can all learn from that.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

I love this smile

Girlie Bear had her first experience at shooting pistols today.  I took the red-dot sight off of the 22-A1 and she put about 100 rounds downrange.  I wasn't that worried about accuracy today and concentrated on grip, stance, and safety.  The target you see above was after her first couple of cycles through the two magazines I have for that pistol.  My only admonition on accuracy with her was to not shoot the lights, target holders, or wall, but she didn't do half bad for her first time out.

She seemed to have a great time, but was very serious about doing it right.  She was conscientious about proper grip on the pistol, taking her time with shots, and being safe.  She even got to do a couple malfunction drills when the pistol had FTF's.  I've found with the 22-A1 that you have to give it a very steady platform to fire or it doesn't fire the next round, so I showed her how to cycle the slide and to hold it very firmly.  The recoil on it is so light that she had no trouble controlling it.

I was really proud of how serious she was about safety on the range.  I wish the same could be said about the group next to us. It was a group of 5 or so adults, most of whom were first time shooters.  The guy supplying the guns had pretty much emptied the safe and had a large assortment of pistols, including a .50 AE Desert Eagle.  It looked like a really neat gun, until it started to stove pipe when one of the new shooters was using it. When that happened he turned it 90 degrees to the left to look at the ejection port, which turned the muzzle of that very fine pistol pointed directly at us.  The first reminder from me was measured and gentle, the next one less so, and the third time was a "Let's pack up and go talk to the range safety".

Girlie Bear had a great time, and is already asking when we can go back.  I told her that once she gets comfortable and accurate with the .22, I'll let her shoot .38's out of my Model 13, and then she can try any of my other pistols.  This may be the thing that gets me off my butt and buying a 9mm so that she can shoot something more than a .22 and not have her poor father eating ramen noodles so that he can afford the ammunition.

Breakfast this morning

I'll call this the "Clean out the 'fridge scramble"

Take one leftover baked potato, cut it in to quarters, then slice into 1/8 inch triangles.

Take the Italian peppers and red onions from three takeout salads that no-one wanted and coursely chop them.

Melt a spoonful of bacon grease in the bottom of a skillet and add onions, peppers, and potato.  Saute until potatoes start to brown and the onion softens.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add leftover chicken meat from burrito night, and continue to turn until the chicken is warmed through.

Beat three whole eggs and add to the hot mess in the skillet.  Cook with frequent stirring until the eggs are done to your liking.

Serve sprinkled with your favorite shredded cheese and hot breakfast beverage.  If you need a little more heat, a little salsa would be wonderful.

Makes enough to feed one adult.  No pictures because it didn't last that long.

Warning:  The steam from sauteing pepperoncini in bacon grease smells wonderful, but the experience of taking a good whiff of it directly from the pan is close to being maced.  However, if you are at all stuffed up, this will give you at least temporary relief.  Have tissues handy.

Today's Earworm

I got lucky and was able to work this concert when they came to Louisville a few years back.  Probably one of the best concerts I've ever seen.

30 Days of Twain - Day 24

To put it in rude, plain, unpalatable words — true patriotism, real patriotism: loyalty not to a Family and a Fiction, but a loyalty to the Nation itself!

Friday, February 24, 2012

News Roundup

  • From the "Good For Him" Department - A new police officer in Kingston, New York, did a good job recently by ticketing the illegally parked car of the town's mayor twice in a week.  The mayor admits his fault and seems to not hold a grudge against the officer.  For once, I read something about police that didn't make my blood boil either because of the crime committed or the actions of the police.  Will miracles never cease?
  •  From the "Get  a Rope" Department - A policeman in Texas has been suspended and will probably face charges after security cameras recorded him stealing food from a refrigerator in his office.  The food taken included energy drinks and 60 pounds of deer sausage.  As someone who has had to eat a half-frozen, half-lava vending machine burrito when his lunch was stolen from a communal refrigerator more than once, I support whatever punishment is meted out in this case, up to and including flogging.
  • From the "Hanging's Too Good" Department - A woman in California has admitted to stealing books and other materials from libraries and selling them on-line.  As someone who actually uses his library to find and read books (I know, who knew you could do that), I hope she spends her time on probation having to clean the bottom of an active cesspool.
  • From the "Qel Surpris" Department - Chelsea Clinton is expected to continue with her cub reporter gig at NBC News.  Why should she?  How many people do you know with absolutely no journalism experience who get a job on prime time TV with one of the major networks doing human interest stories while reading intro's and summation paragraphs from a teleprompter and woodenly taking part in chit chat with the anchor?  Critics have taken issue with the fluff pieces she's done, her inability to ask hard questions when doing interviews, her rather flat delivery, and question why she gets this plum job.  Let me think here.  Maybe it's because the media loves her mommy and daddy and want to make sure they stay on their good side.  Let's face it, if Ms. Clinton was doing what she was qualified to do, some poor soul currently running the Tilt-a-Whirl somewhere would be out of a job.  I look forward to the day when she's propped up by some Democrat machine or another and runs for office.  The debates alone would be worth the price of admission.

Today's Earworm

Never again is what you swore the time before.....

30 Days of Twain - Day 23

Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.

My Take - Obviously, this was written before the advent of Internet porn.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

What I was talking about earlier

This video of a ZSU-23-4 anti-aircraft gun being used in a direct fire role in Syria shows just how quickly this thing can be brought to bear in a fight.  I didn't realize that the turret could turn so quickly, or that the gun could elevate and depress so quickly.

You might want to turn down the volume if you're somewhere the sound of gunfire and "Allahu Akhbar!" will turn heads.

Quite a Day

I don't do a lot of "This Day In History" posts, but glancing at the list for today showed that this date has been a pretty exciting time.

1903 - The U.S. signed a permanent lease on Guantanamo Bay.
1942 - A Japanese sub shelled the coast of California, which I believe is the last time a foreign power attacked the U.S. mainland until 9/11.
1945 - The U.S. flag was raised over Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima by Marines fighting to capture the island.
1997 - Scottish scientists debuted their cloned sheep, Dolly.
2005 - Efforts to identify remains from the 9/11 attacks end.

I wonder what 2012 will add to this list?

Today's Earworm

Side note - This song always brings back the scent of pool chlorine to my memory.  Must have been on the PA a lot during one of my summers at the city pool.

News Roundup

  • From the "That'll Work" Department - The Obama administration has announced that its policy towards Syria is to provide humanitarian aid to those who oppose the Assad regime and to seek political consensus with other countries.  In the meantime, the Syrian armed forces are showing that D-30 towed artillery, BM-21 multiple rocket launchers, and ZSU-23-4 anti-aircraft guns are much more effective than band aids and MRE's at influencing the political process when a civilian populace has risen in revolt.  I have one word for Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton:  Srebrenica.  I'm not saying that the United States or NATO should become directly involved, but we should be pushing the Arab League to put boots and tracks on the ground with our logistical and intelligence support. 
  • From the "Beatdown" Department - A young Saudi man was arrested on Wednesday after becoming violent on a flight from Portland to Houston.  He was asked to shut off an electric cigarette, he refused, and the situation spiraled out of control from there.  The man was subdued by other passengers, handcuffed, and arrested when the flight returned to Portland.  This may not have been his first run-in with the law, but I'll bet that he preferred the manner in which he was subdued after leading the police on a little chase over the manner in which his adrenaline hyped fellow passengers power slammed him and forced his compliance at 30,000 feet.
  • From the "Broken Record" Department - The government of North Korea has decried South Korea hosting a nuclear weapons conference next month as a 'provocation', and has threatened dire consequences for the insult of its southern neighbor trying to further the cause of peace and stability.  The hermit kingdom also threatened retaliation when South Korea announced that it would be doing some artillery training this week.  In related news, North Korea has decried plans to change the recipe for yakisoba in the mess hall at Camp Red Cloud, planned maintenance on several buses in Pusan, and the fact that no-one has called them to see if they would like to go to the United Nations spring sock-hop.  All of these came with threats of dire consequences, including nuclear bombardment from the new Kim-Jong-Un model of bazooka, unless the activities are changed and North Korea is given a golden ticket to Mr. Wonka's factory and a year's supply of Rice-a-Roni, the San Fransisco Treat.
  • From the "Fricassee" Department - The Pennsylvania lottery commission has decided to retire Gus, a puppet groundhog that has been used to promote the lottery since 2004.  In related news, a new cookbook has been put out by the commission titled "Whistlepig - It's Not Just For February", which explains what they did with Gus.
  • From the "Ghost in the Machine" Department - Scientists at CERN have announced that the experiment last year that seemed to show that neutrinos could travel faster than the speed of light was faulty.  Apparently, a loose wire made it appear that the test particle arrived at the target faster than it actually travelled.  I, for one, am disappointed that it was just a bad wire.  My money was on the flux capacitor needing calibration.

30 Days of Twain - Day 22

It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world, and moral courage so rare.

My Take - It takes more guts to take an unpopular stand than it does to jump off a cliff.  I hope that I have both kinds of courage, but if I had to choose between them, I'd prefer to have the courage to stand up for what I believe in.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Today's Earworm

Same as it ever was.......

Thought for the Day

Apparently suggesting that Irish Woman take a vow of silence for Lent was not such a hot idea after all.

Giving up

I've had it with the new word verification system on Blogger.  I'm shutting it off and turning on comment moderation.

Moderation policy:  I will OK all comments that aren't obvious attempts to advertise products or similar spam.  I WILL NOT edit or delete comments that disagree with me or anyone else who comments.  However, keep it civil, not that this is a problem with you all.  I reserve the right to call out an assbag who uses my blog to attack someone or be blatantly offensive.

30 Days of Twain - Day 21

A man is never more truthful than when he acknowledges himself a liar.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

News Roundup

  • From the "Maury Povich" Department - A magazine in France is adding evidence to a man's claim to being Adolf Hitler's illegitimate son.  According to the man, who died several years ago, Hitler had a bit of a fling with his mother in 1918, and he was born the next year.  The new evidence includes paintings signed by Hitler that were found in the home of the man's mother.  I know this sounds irrational, but knowing that that genetic pool is still around is a bit disturbing.
  • From the "Organic Red Tape" Department - The Obama administration has unveiled plans for the government to start buying more "biobased" products.  Since they're going to be using more renewable, recyclable products, I'm guessing the paperless government revolution is over.
  • From the "Goofy" Department - A man was recently arrested at Disney's California Adventure park after fighting with a security guard.  This man will forever be known as the guy who got his ass beat by a mickey mouse security guard.
  • From the "Scrappy Nibbles" Department - 200 feral rabbits in Alberta have been captured, neutered or spayed, and released back into the wild.  A local animal rights group had complained about an earlier effort to euthanize the animals, who are descendants of pets that were released.  No word yet on the impact this will have on local families that need the meat.
  • From the "58th State" Department - Vice President Biden's office recently issued a memo noting that the VP will be visiting "Road Island".  Apparently he be travelling there via Wooostah, Looahvul, and New Yolk.
  • From the "Fashion Police" Department - A school district in Arizona has proposed a dress code for teachers that, among other things, restricts the wearing of jeans, sweatsuits, and showing cleavage.  After reading that article, am I the only one who has Van Halen running through his head?
  • From the "Shrinkage" Department - 30 men and women recently participated in a nude luge event in Germany.  Although they were required to wear underwear, gloves, and a helmet, they were otherwise nude.  I'd like to make a pithy comment about this, but the mental images I'm getting are either really good or really bad, and they take away my capacity for rational thought.

Your Daily Humor

I laughed so hard my sides hurt.

H/T and hearty thanks to Captain Tightpants!

Hazing or Correcting?

Over at This Ain't Hell, John Lilyea discusses the not guilty verdict for a Marine Sergeant who was accused of hazing one of his troops by making him dig a fighting position after finding him asleep on guard duty.  The young Marine later killed himself, and other members of the unit are being investigated and prosecuted over accusations of hazing.  It doesn't help that the guy was related to a Congresswoman who is apparently screaming from the rooftops over the verdict.

Lilyea makes a good point that making on-the-spot corrections is what NCO's do.  Whether it's a Petty Officer telling a seaman to re-mop and wax a floor in the barracks, a Tech Sergeant telling an airman to fix his uniform, a Staff Sergeant telling a private to tie down the antenna on his vehicle, or a Corporal telling a Lance Corporal to wake up when on guard duty, that's the job.  NCO's fix the small stuff so that officers can concentrate on getting their own jobs done.  Telling a private to get his entrenching tool out and dig a fighting position so that he won't fall asleep on guard duty might sound extreme, but if it's for a repeat offender, I don't consider it outside the realm of reason.

I was a Sergeant in the Army, and I made corrections to my soldiers every day.  Sometimes I had to be creative to get through to them, but get through to them I did.

Case in point (Warning:  "No kidding, there I was" story dead ahead)

When I was a team leader, we got in a brand new Private First Class I'll call PFC GildedTurd.  This guy was a recruiting poster in the flesh.  He was fit, he looked good, and he knew just the perfect way to salute and sound off to the officers.  He was intelligent, and could parrot chapter and verse from the study guides for Soldier of the Month boards.  The officers loved him because he made a great guy to put in front of a static display or Powerpoint presentation and give a briefing.

Problem was, he was a bag of shit.  Kind of rough way to describe a man, but that's probably the best way I can do it. 

The man was a womanizer.  He'd been sent to us because he got transferred to Huachuca from Fort Campbell due to family considerations.  By family considerations, I mean he whined to his branch manager that he had gotten his girlfriend pregnant while he was a student at Huachuca, he wanted to marry said strumpet, and she didn't want to leave Arizona for Kentucky.  Matrimony didn't seem to slow him down, as I, being his team leader, got multiple calls from irate husbands and fathers about him.  On at least one occasion he was sent home from a high profile exercise because after being caught with a married woman and being told to have nothing to with her, he went back for more and got caught again.

His image as the perfectly dressed soldier interfered with our mission of keeping six tracks, six generators, two five ton trucks, and two HMMWV's up and running in the motorpool.  He would show up in perfectly starched BDU's and spit shined jungle boots (with green canvas sides, because, and I quote, that's old school).  I would also show up to the motor pool with a pressed uniform and shined boots. Difference was, by the time the day was over, I'd look like I'd just stormed the beaches at Prudo Bay, and he'd still be as pressed and shiny as he was at first formation.  His track was always spotless, or at least the visible parts of it were, but it was also deadlined whenever someone else did the maintenance.  GildedTurd didn't want to get dirty and mess up his uniform and boots.  As his leader, I learned to double-check his work whenever it was done in a dusty or oily environment.

He was also something of a malingerer.  You could always tell when he was due a PT test because he'd show up with some injury that would keep him from doing PT or taking a PT test just long enough for him to go on an assignment for a few weeks.  Thing was, you could tell he was in shape, because on the odd occasion where he couldn't come up with an excuse to not take it, he scored pretty well on the test.  He wasn't maxing it out by any means, but neither was he in danger of failing it.

He had a problem with punctuality and being in the proper uniform.  He'd show up late to PT wearing BDU's, or not wearing the prescribed gloves, hat, and sweats during the winter.  His excuse seemed to be summed up with "I forgot" or "Only wusses wear that stuff". 

Now, as leaders, the squad leader and I counseled him, worked with him, chewed his butt, and did whatever we could to help him improve.  We could tell that if he would just learn that looking the part was only part of the solution, he could be a good soldier.

But after taking another in a long line of butt chewings because GildedTurd showed up to PT late and in the wrong uniform, I had had it.  I wrote him up, and prescribed something that in retrospect was a pretty silly solution to an equally silly problem:

I told a grown man, who was actually a year older than I was, that he could not be trusted to dress himself in the morning.  I directed him to meet me at our office one hour prior to PT every morning for a week and to bring every uniform he owned in his duffel bag.  I made him lay out every stitch he had, and would then make sure he had the proper uniform available to him.  I directed him to take it into another room and dress, and inspected him before we went to the PT field together 20 minutes early for formation. 

By doing this I hoped to get through to him that I was willing to inconvenience myself and him in order to get him to be where he was supposed to be and in the proper uniform.

Was it silly?  Yep. 

Was it a pain in both our asses?  Yep 

Did it get him to PT in the proper uniform five days in a row, a feat that he had been unable to accomplish in the year he had been with us?  Yep. 

Did he ever show up to PT late or in the wrong uniform again?  Nope.

Did he complain to high heaven and everyone who would listen that I was a big meanie and I didn't like him?  You betcha.  I got, and may lightning strike me if I exaggerate, telephone calls or in-person questioning from the Platoon Sergeant, Platoon Leader, First Sergeant, PFC GildedTurd's wife, and the battalion chaplain.  I heard that he had threatened to call the Inspector General and his Congressman, but I never heard of anything official on it.

Did I get a quiet talking to by the First Sergeant to check to make sure I wasn't taking the young man behind the barracks for an ass beating?  Yep

Did I have a not so quiet debate behind closed doors with the Platoon Sergeant over my authority as a leader to correct my soldier's deficiencies?  Yep

Did I correct his behavior, even if it was only one aspect of it, without putting a black mark on his permanent record and making my leadership problem into my commander's leadership problem?  Definitely

My point is this:  By the time a leader gets creative in trying to correct the behavior of a subordinate, it's almost always after trying all of the normal, sane methods.  There is a fine line between correcting a problem soldier often enough in a way that gets through to them and abusing or hazing them.  Every NCO has to learn where that line is and respect it.  But using somewhat unorthodox, but still legal, methods to fix defective soldiers is better than referring them to the commander for official punishment.

30 Days of Twain - Day 20

To promise not to do a thing is the surest way in the world to make a body want to go and do that very thing.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Quote of the Day

But I can, for I have come to realize that the same God that seemed to sit silently while hearts ceased beating, also blew life into everyone else around me that I love, now shaping their strong hands and putting spark in their vision. So it is, I don't clench my hands in anger in all that I've witnessed, but simply give thanks. God writes death on all our hearts, just as he writes life, our story penned as much by our actions as His creation, our heart a journal that only we keep, it's entries scribed by both man and God, it's ending as much as a mystery as we are. -- Brigid, "On Faith and Firearms"

Thought for the Day

You know what sucks about being a former Intel weenie?  Not being able to explain to your wife why you're interested in some weird detail in the news or why some things in the "Today in History" column piss you off.

Don't even get me started on why I can't watch the first 15 minutes of "Hunt for Red October" where Sean Connery is speaking Russian.

Blogs Roundup

  • This Ain't Hell tells the story of battlefield heroism on the part of one of his writers.
  • Notes from the Bunker discusses some observed price hikes on meat over the past couple of years.
  • Riverwalker makes good points about using a bike for transportation in a grid-down situation.
  • Officer "Smith" makes an excellent point.
  • OldNFO and LabRat do an excellent job in tag-teaming on a subject.

30 Days of Twain - Day 19

You can't depend on your judgment when your imagination is out of focus.

My Take - If you can't imagine what 'right' ought to look like, you're going to have a heck of a hard time knowing it when you see it.

Today's Earworm

I should have thought of this one before Valentine's Day, but better late than never.

Thoughts on the Weekend

  • Really, George Lucas?  You added a sub scene in the re-release of "The Phantom Menace" where JarJar calls Amidala 'hot'?  And he was speaking to a 9 year old Anakin?  Yeah, nothing creepy about that.
  • Taking Boo to a local establishment with video games, ticket prizes, blow-up confidence courses, and a two story inflatable slide may have been my best idea ever.  He was would wound up like a cheap watch after we got home, but he was asleep at 7:30 precisely and I haven't heard a peep out of him yet.
  • Taking a full-on face plant off of the end of the two story slide might be nature's way of telling you that it's time to go eat some pizza.*
  • I think Boo is going into a growth spurt.  At the restaurant, he ate three chicken fingers, a handful of corn chips, a quesadilla, and half a large pepperoni pizza washed down with a large glass of milk.  When we got home, he complained he was hungry.  I shudder at the thought of the teenage years.
  • Next time I take Boo there, I have to make sure I'm not on pager support, because it would have been a lot more fun if I'd been able to take advantage of the well-stocked bar.
  • Boo and Girlie Bear won enough tickets playing games to win a pen shaped like a flamingo and a dinosaur filled with silicone gel that you could squeeze and make bubbles with.  I thought that was kind of neat until I realized how much money I'd given Girlie Bear to entertain herself and that these two pieces of soft rubber kitch were all she had to show for it.
  • Taking a vacuum to a dog might not be the most fun thing I and Shadow have ever done together, but it's more effective than using the leaf blower to gather up all of the hair.  Guess it's going to be an early spring, because I could knit a litter of puppies out of what we swept up the other night.
  • Went out and laid out the spring project of moving everything on the north end of the back yard to the south end and everything on the south end to the north end with Irish Woman.  I started to object on some of the details, but held my tongue.  It's easier that way, and I now have plausible deniability.
  • Irish Woman put out bird feed this morning, and our front porch looked like something out of "The Birds".  I'm not looking forward to cleaning that sidewalk.
* He was fine.  I gave him a hug, told him to walk it off, and he was OK by the time we got back to the table.  Of course, the waterworks started as soon as he saw his mom, but we'll work on that.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

News Roundup

  • From the "Bad Night" Department - A police officer, his K9 partner, and a suspect in a crime were run over when the car the suspect had been driving rolled forward.  At the time, the officer was struggling with the suspect and the suspect had forgotten to put it in park when he bolted from the car.  Something tells me that by the time he gets out of jail, he's going to wish the darn thing had run over his head.
  • From the "That Explains It" Department - A British woman living in North Dakota has been diagnosed as being allergic to cold temperatures.  She reports that she and other members of her family have always had pain in their joints and other symptoms when the temperature drops.  Having lived in Grand Forks, I hope she has plans to spend the winter a bit further south. It gets so cold up there that you bring the brass monkey in for the night sometimes.  You know it's cold when International Falls is on the local forecast map every day.  Although I wish I'd known about this condition when I was living up there.  "Ma, I can't go out there and shovel the snow.  It's so cold that my joints will swell up and I won't be able to do anything for days but watch TV.".
  • From the "You First" Department - A new technology developed in Texas promises to bring a future where humans don't drive their cars.  Instead, an on-board computer would communicate with a coordinator computer to mesh it with other cars on the road, especially at intersections.  Nothing can go wrong here.  I will never allow me or my kids to use such technology.  I work with computers and I trust them about as far as I can see them, and even then I watch them closely.    What are you going to do when you look up from your morning paper to discover that your computer chauffeur is choking on its own lungs and you're speeding towards an intersection chock full of nuns and old people?
  • From the "Building Bridges" Department - Our long, local nightmare is finally over.  The I-64 bridge over the Ohio River re-opened Friday night.  It was closed last fall when workers found cracks in some of the supports.  What this has meant is that most of the traffic between Kentucky and Indiana has been going over two bridges instead of three.  Commutes that used to take 30 minutes have been averaging over two hours.   Now things should return to normal, at least until they start closing the other two bridges to repair all of the damage that the dramatic increase in traffic caused.  

30 Days of Twain - Day 18

In the beginning of a change, the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot.

My Take - It's become a proforma tactic of any politician on the national stage to be shown in camouflage clothing holding a shooting iron and sipping a cup of Folgers on the tailgate of a pickup.  Doesn't matter if he's the scion of a rich family, or if he married into money not once but twice.  They've got to get those shots of them supporting our gun rights in order to convince us rubes that they're looking out for us.  I have my problems with Rick Perry and Sarah Palin, but they at least could tell which end the bullets come out of before they decided to run for office.

Now that the momentum is behind those of us who believe in gun rights, it's easy for politicians of both the bluest liberal and metrocon conservative stripes to say they were for guns before they were against them.  I have a lot more respect for people who had the guts to stand up in 1994 and rail against the Brady Bill, or who complained about the gun laws in Massachusetts, DC, Chicago, New York, and California before it was what the cool kids were doing.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

I Blame Qui-Gon

This afternoon, Girlie Bear and I decided to do something out of the ordinary and went to the movies.  George Lucas recently re-released The Phantom Menace, the first episode in his six episode Star Wars saga and the fourth movie released in that series.  The movie has been re-done in 3D, which was OK, and as usual, a Lucas movie does really well in special effects and does OK in acting, dialogue, and story.

Of course, being a geek, I've seen it before, so the story wasn't exactly a surprise.  Lucas did a lot of the scenes, even ones that do nothing but plot exposition, in 3D, which was interesting.  Watching the scenes where tanks and droid soldiers march down the main street, complete with arch and the victory parade at the end tells me that Lucas has watched Triumph of the Will and movies from Paris in 1940 more than a few times.  So in addition to robbing Kurosawa blind, he also owes Leni Riefenstahl a beer.

But that's not what struck me as the credits rolled.

What hit me was that all of the turmoil of the remaining five movies was the fault of one character.  No, not Palpatine, the Naboo Senator, Republic Chancellor, Emperor of the Galaxy, Sith Lord, and collector of authentic Wookie and Ewok teddy bears.

No, all of it was brought about by Qui-Gon Jin.

Qui-Gon is the master Jedi Knight who is teaching Obi-Wan Kenobi to be a Jedi when the movie begins.  He and Obi-Wan are sent on a mission to 'convince' one faction in a trade dispute to stop leaning on another faction.  By convince, I mean 'show up wearing light sabers and force them to back down'.  You know, the same way that Vito Corleone and Luca Brazi got Johnny Fontaine that movie gig.  He fails when the people he was there to put the arm on tried to kill them both, launch a planetary invasion, and arrest/compost most of the opposing side in the dispute.  He convinces the leader of the losing side, Queen Amidala, to flee from the scene, lands on Tattooine to find parts, makes off with a slave he thinks might be the Jedi messiah, and deposits both of them on Coruscant, the Republic capital.  He picks a fight with the Jedi Council when they tell him that teaching the force to an emotionally unstable former slave is probably not the wisest thing to do.  He gives them the rhetorical finger and is sent back to Naboo with a ragtag band of people wearing red shirts.  On arrival, he follows the battle plan of a teenage girl, fights an evil Sith that looks like he was born out of a Larry Correia fever dream, and loses because his devoted Padwan was never good at wind sprints.  Obi-wan then goes on to finish the job by turning Darth Maul from an innie into an outie, saving the day. Obi-Wan makes a promise to Qui-Gon to teach Anakin Skywalker all of the skills he will need to bring down a democratic regime and murder just about everyone Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon know.

In all of those little plot points, all of the mistakes are made by Qui-Gon, and if he had zigged instead of zagged on any of them, Palpatine would have gone down as being the most affable evil Chancellor the Republic ever had, Anakin Skywalker would be the Jeff Gordon of the podracer circuit, and Amidala wouldn't have passed on the "worst hair styles in a quarter century" gene to her daughter.

Here are the biggest mistakes he made, in your hosts humble opinion:

  1. Didn't leave JarJar to get turned into cat meat.  When Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan trick the Gungun boss to let them go and give them transport so they could get to the Naboo capitol, Qui-Gon also asks that JarJar Binks be released to them.  It was done almost as an after thought.  If Qui-Gon hadn't done that, JarJar wouldn't have been there in the next movie to hand Palpatine dictatorial powers on a silver platter with a side of fries.  We would also have been spared two more movies worth of a bad Caribbean accent.
  2. Left Naboo with no air cover.  After freeing Queen Amidala and her entourage from the droid soldiers, they all decide to run like scalded dogs back to Coruscant.  In order to get to the Queen's ship, which apparently was kept ready to go with her wardrobe and hair goop, they have to defeat the droids guarding the hangar.  These droids are also guarding the pilots for the fighters that are housed there, because when you're decapitating a government, the last thing you want to do is massacre their elite pilots immediately.  After quickly dispatching the droids, the pilots are told to run, and they do.  Heaven forfend that they be inspired to jump in the cockpit and defend their queen as she runs to get help.  So the ship containing the soon-to-be government in exile takes off with no fighter escort.  This probably led directly to the ship being damaged, which necessitates the next stop in their journey:  Tattoine.  This is the home planet of everyone's favorite Sith Lord in waiting, Anakin Skywalker.
  3. Going through an elaborate scheme to get parts to fix the ship.  Following the Star Wars tradition of using hyperdrive engines made out of paper mache and Coke bottles, our ragtag band of Jedi knights, queens with weird clothes and hair, and amphibious Rastafarians touch down on Tattoine to get parts and make repairs.  Qui-Gon goes into town to find parts, where he meets Anakin and discovers that only one junk dealer has the necessary gear, or at least that's what the junk man says.  Qui-Gon doesn't seem to check with the competition to see if he might be telling a little fib in order to get the rube in the brown coat to make a purchase.  The junk man won't take the money they bring with them, and Jedi mind tricks don't work.  Apparently Qui-Gon isn't comfortable using the tactics he would have used on the Trade Federation on this slave-owning cheat of a junk dealer, so he has to find a less direct way of bilking the parts out of him.  He comes up with a convoluted plan to put a 9 year old into a dangerous podrace and cheat the junk dealer out of not only the parts, but also his slave.  I mean, it's not like he could have just whipped out that light saber and started singing off wings to get the parts or anything.  He could have gone to another junk dealer who would have taken his Republic money or fallen for Jedi mind tricks to buy the parts or make a three cornered deal for them with the first guy.  Or he could have just sold the broken ship for whatever he could get and arranged transport on another ship.  Or heck, just offered to trade R2D2, a valuable repair droid he had brought along with him on this run to Starship Depot, for the parts.  That would have gotten him back to Coruscant quicker, spared the galaxy the scourge of Darth Vader, and saved us from all of those "why did the Empire make all of the power receptacles the same size and shape as the USB ports?" jokes.
  4. Taking Anakin with him to Coruscant.  After winning the parts from the junk dealer, Qui-Gon cheats him out of Anakin's freedom.  He could have left him there to work as a tradesman or podracer long enough to buy his mother's freedom.  That way he could have felt better about saving one slave out of the scores that must have existed on Tattooine, and we'd have been spared Hayden Christensen in the next two films.  Instead he thinks that he can make a 9 year old former slave with separation anxiety into an elite mystical warrior that will enforce the will of a democratically elected government that didn't give enough of a damn about his plight as a slave to detail someone to free him and the rest of the human chattel on Tattooine.  The word you're looking for here is 'hubris', which is pretty much the reason the rest of the series had a plot line.
It goes on from there.  If he had failed to do any of these things, all of the unpleasantness in the remainder of the series wouldn't have happened.  No Sith takeover, no massacre of the Jedi, no clone troopers, no Rebellion, no Death Stars, nothing.  

So in the end, I have come to believe that the villain of the entire six movie series was not Palpatine.  He at least was honestly evil.  Qui-Gon was a so-called good guy enforcer who brought down a millennium old Republic because he was "just trying to do the right thing".  Kind of like someone taking money from hard working citizens to give to those who don't feel that work is really that necessary, or a politician that would try to tax his way out of fiscal armageddon.  But then again, those last two might be too out of left field for anyone to believe.  Faster than light ships, laser swords, and sentient robots that are used and abused as slaves but don't rise up and slaughter their former masters are more believable than that. 

30 Days of Twain - Day 17

H'aint we got all the fools in town on our side? And ain't that a big enough majority in any town?

Friday, February 17, 2012

30 Days of Twain - Day 16

Laws are sand, customs are rock. Laws can be evaded and punishment escaped, but an openly transgressed custom brings sure punishment.

My Take - Your average person probably can't recite the laws of their society too well, but they for sure can tell you just what the customs and taboos of the tribe are.  People will forgive breaking the law if it isn't too bad or you pay enough blood money.  Break customs and either learn to run from the mob really fast or be prepared to defend your life against the whole tribe.  To sum up:  learn the customs of the tribe before you worry about what their laws are.   The sheriff might give you crap for jaywalking, but he might just throw your butt in jail over spitting on the sidewalk.

Watch the Hands

When I've talked to people who know more than I do about self-defense, the thing that I've heard more than one person say is "Watch the hands".  Hands hold weapons, hands point guns, and hands are used to strike the first blow.  Mouths can say things that distract or incite you, eyes can fake you out about intentions.  If you pay attention to what the hands are doing, you have a better chance of knowing what someone is going to do in a confrontation.

President Obama and his supporters are cranking up the rhetoric machine to get their political base whipped up for the 2012 elections.  Their heads are making noises, and the mob is responding.  Maybe it's promises to finish the work he wanted to do this term but couldn't because of the evil opposition.  Maybe it's igniting jealousy about those perceived to have more.

But that's not what the hands are doing.

The hands are creating "Truth Squads" to disrupt and refute those who oppose the President.

The hands are describing people who prefer to pay cash or keep the government out of their lives as terrorists.

The hands are pushing the limits on constitutionality and decency to see just how far they can go to make us comply.

The hands are circumventing the Congress through executive fiat to do things that the representatives of the people won't vote for.

The hands are negotiating with the U.N. on treaties that could potentially impinge on our civil rights if the President and Secretary of State can get them through the Senate.

The hands are organizing unions and a rabble to create the perception of mass demonstrations against the President's opponents.

The hands are implementing economic and fiscal policies that will drive us to poverty and financial slavery for generations.

If we want to unseat President Obama in November, we need to stop listening to his rhetoric and start watching his actions.  We need to recognize and counteract them when they threaten the opposition and the integrity of the process.  We need to make sure that no matter who sits in the White House next January, there are enough Representatives and Senators who don't belong to the Cult of Obama that they can slowdown or stop harmful things that Obama tries to do in the event that he has a second term.

Because it's not his silver tongue that's going to do damage to the Republic, it's his hands.

Thought for the Day

Kevin linked to and commented on an incident in Tucson where a man overcame the magical incantation surrounding a restraining order and murdered his ex-girlfriend.

Things like this make my blood boil.  I am sick and tired of reading about women who are murdered by these animals because society has convinced them that a pice of paper will stop an abusive husband or boyfriend.

So I make this pledge:

If my children survive to adulthood before I die, and Irish Woman passes away before I do, I promise to create a charity with the proceeds from my estate that will pay for people who can legally own a firearm, have a protective order out against someone, and do not have and can't afford a gun of their own can go to a designated gun store, be given an inexpensive 9mm handgun, 200 rounds of ball ammunition, and 50 rounds of defensive ammunition.  They will also be given one hour of individual instruction on using said firearm safely and effectively, and will have their concealed carry class and permit fees covered so that they can take the gun with them when they leave the house.

In the meantime, I am making it known that any woman with a protective order in the Louisville area who can provide her own gun and ammunition can be my guest at a range and I will show them how to safely and effectively shoot it.  I'll bring a .22 pistol to get her started and then we'll transition to what she's got to defend herself.  I can't promise she'll be able to blow the balls off a gnat at 40 paces, but I think I can get her to the point she can put a magazine of 9mm into the chest of someone across the room.

I may not be able to do much, but I will do what I can.

Update - TinCan Assassin and Six have been gracious enough to link to this and echo the sentiment.  Thanks guys!  If enough people in danger seek out people who will help them to know efficient ways to defend themselves, maybe stories like this will become rarer.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Today's Earworm

Since my earlier post about semi-trucks, I've had this one running through my mind.  Since I can't get a wire hanger far enough into my ear canal to scratch my cerebellum and make it stop, all I have left is to share.

I'm so very sorry.

Something to look forward to

Looks like Irish Woman has only about a year until she starts seeing a lot less of me around the house.  Cabela's is opening a store just up the street from me.  No longer will I have to drive for 45 minutes to wander the aisles of what Irish Woman calls "The Dead Zoo".

Looks like they'll be hiring about 200 people.  I wonder if I could just work for store credit.

This here's the Atomic Duck

Mother Jones needs to check its shorts for skid marks.  Apparently the fact that the government is transporting nuclear weapons and other material over our nations highways in specially constructed and manned semi-trucks is causing an epic amount of PSH.  They claim that their major worry is that a road accident or terrorist attack could cause a huge amount of damage to the environment, with ancillary deaths among those filthy humans who also live along our nation's byways.

They make some good points.  The program to transport nuclear materials, including bombs, around the country has had issues, just like every other endeavor ever taken up by humans.  Some of the drivers have had problems with alcohol, some have turned out to be thieves, and some have a problem with following rules about firearms.  There have indeed been some accidents, just like every other organization that drives trucks across the country.  They can only point to one incident where any amount of cargo was leaked outside of its containment mechanism, and that caused no significant environmental impact or any human casualties.

What I don't see from Mother Jones is a better solution.  We as a nation have nuclear weapons, power stations, and research facilities.  Bombs, fuel rods, raw materials, and other nuclear materials need to be moved from the place where they're manufactured and maintained to the place where they're used and then to the place where they're destroyed or stored.  Putting them on an airplane would probably have a higher risk of accidents and would probably make it harder to contain the material after a crash.  There's a heck of a lot more kinetic energy in a C-17 crashing than there is in a Peterbilt jackknifing.  You could put them on trains, and that would probably have the same risk of accidents and containment failures as you would find on the interstates, and with trains you lose the flexibility of routes you have with trucks.  Nuclear cargo that gets backed up in a rail yard can't just make a right at the next exit and route around it so it's not sitting as a nice stationary target.

I have news for Mother Jones:  The government has been moving nuclear weapons and other material around on the roads of our country for two generations with only a very small number of minor incidents.  I grew up around SAC bases, and convoys with Minuteman missiles and their payloads moving from main bases out to silos and back were common.  To my knowledge, the young airmen who were driving them and providing security never killed anyone, lost a weapon, or caused us to worry about the groundwater.  Every so often you'd hear about a missile truck that went into a ditch, but I never saw even a small mushroom cloud or saw a missile streaking across the prairie because of it.

My gut tells me that the Mother Jones position comes down to "Don't move them because you don't have them".  It's the evolved position of the "No Nukes" crowd from the last century.  They want us to unilaterally destroy our nuclear weapons, shut down our research facilities, and turn nuclear power stations into research facilities for breeding a better manatee. 

To be honest, if we could safely give up our nuclear arsenal, I'd be all for it.  If you think that's going to be possible before a better way to turn cities into glowing holes comes along, I've got a bridge you might also be interested in. 

And until we come up with something better, I'm a big supporter of nuclear power.  It doesn't pollute like coal or natural gas, it doesn't kill wildlife like wind, it works on cloudy days, and what waste it creates can either be re-used or stored safely. Of course, that assumes that hippies don't make you store it in a shed behind the reactor because it would make kittens explode if you tried to have a safe, secure, centralized place to keep it out in the middle of nowhere.

So I wish Mother Jones and the other groups that are excreting masonry building materials over this luck.  If they have a better idea, I'd love to hear it.

30 Day s of Twain - Day 15

Humor is the great thing, the saving thing. The minute it crops up, all our hardnesses yield, all our irritations and resentments flit away and a sunny spirit takes their place.

My Take - I know that I'm on a downward slide in my attitude and outlook when I start to listen to more comedy than music on the iPod.  Laughter is the best catharsis I have, and when I'm feeling especially crummy, I want to laugh.  It could be a Bill Cosby routine I listened to in diapers, if it makes me laugh, I want to hear it.

And remember folks, if you aren't laughing, you ought to be crying.

To the Shores of Tripoli

The Burning of the U.S.S. Philadelphia
Details here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

News Roundup

  • From the "Airing It Out" Department - An 18 year old woman was arrested recently in Texas after taking police on a slow-speed chase wearing nothing but her cowboy boots.  You know, if 18 year old women driving around starkers is wrong, I don't want to be right. To me, that's as American as Mom, apple pie, and baseball. 
  • From the "Slow News Day" Department - Staff working for former President George H.W. Bush are reporting that he is making a habit of frequently wearing strange socks.  Apparently the issues in the Mid-East, the economy, and the latest escapades of reality TV have all been reported if the press can spend time reporting on the socks that an 87 year old man chooses to wear. 
  • From the "10 Feet Tall and Bulletproof" Department - A man in Russia is under arrest after stabbing a friend in the stomach with a kitchen knife.  At the time of the stabbing, the friend was under the mistaken belief that his abs were so hard a knife wouldn't penetrate.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again:  Vodka is a hell of a drug.  In their defense, how many of us men haven't been drinking with buddies and the "I'm so tough I can XYZ" conversation/argument starts up.  For me, that led to one armed pushups, parachute landing falls off of an old storm wall on Monterey beach, and rappelling off the side of a four story building using clothesline as rope and a padlock as a caribiner.  Yeah, I'm lucky I lived to see the age of 20.  Never thought to have someone stab me to prove my manhood.  Maybe that's what's wrong with me.
  • From the "Meta" Department - A man recently had a heart attack while eating at the Heart Attack Grill in Las Vegas.  This establishment is known for their artery clogging menu, so I guess it was just a matter of time before someone coded while dining there.  Let's face it, people who are in good shape aren't going to eat at that place very often.  Since I'm a disgusting widebody, it might be one of those places I try in the event I ever get to Nevada again.  I'll just be sure to take a lipitor, a lisinopril, and a couple of aspirin before heading over.
  • From the "Welcome to the Party" Department - A Pennsylvania man is being assisted by the ACLU in suing the Philadelphia police department for violating his rights under the 1st and 2nd Amendments.  Seems the man was legally open carrying in Philadelphia, and on three occasions was stopped and harassed by the police.  He recorded one of the incidents and posted the audio on the Internet.  Apparently the city fathers of Philadelphia didn't care for that, because they had him charged with two crimes and tried to arrest him at his place of employment.  Those charges were eventually dropped.  I wish the gentleman luck.  Usually when a city has to pay out a big hunk of money in lawsuits, they find a way to make sure that the thing that got them sued doesn't happen again.  Or at least they do something different that's just as heinous. Either way, I hope he succeeds, and I'm glad to see that the ACLU has decided that gun rights are just as important as the right to assemble or to speak.

30 Days of Twain - Day 14

It [the press] has scoffed at religion till it has made scoffing popular. It has defended official criminals, on party pretexts, until it has created a United States Senate whose members are incapable of determining what crime against law and the dignity of their own body is—they are so morally blind—and it has made light of dishonesty till we have as a result a Congress which contracts to work for a certain sum and then deliberately steals additional wages out of the public pocket and is pained and surprised that anybody should worry about a little thing like that.

My Take - That was written a century ago.  The press on either side of the political spectrum isn't any more ethical than it was then.  Our elected officials don't seem to be any more honest or driven to work for the public good than those of Twain's time.  Something tells me that if I were to look for public commentary about the Senate of Republican Rome, then I'd find the same kinds of complaints.  Goes to show that the vast majority of people who seek office are doing it for the wrong reasons. Question - How do you say "Vote them out, vote them all out" in Latin?

Thought for the Day

There once was a pistol from Ruger
To assemble it was truly a booger
While trying and failing
I started to wailing
And went back to shooting my Luger

*Inspired by this.

Nothing Says I Love You Like Coffee

Many thanks to Starbucks for treating me and people like me as if we were responsible adults!

And I paid cash for it too.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Quote of the Day

You keep trying to start a fight, but I'm just glad you're still alive! -- Mr. Incredible

Sounds like love to me!

30 Days of Twain - Day 13

Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.

My Take - Yeah, it's been said before, and it will continue to be repeated.  But it's one of my favorites.

Thought for the Day

To wives and sweethearts!   May they never meet!

Today's Earworm

My Take:  Yeah, it's a Hallmark Holiday, but it's also a good day to remember that your beloved isn't always looking to make you crazy.  Sometimes they actually want to make you happy, and it's always a good thing to reciprocate.

Now, if y'all will excuse me, I have to call the belly dancer service to have someone stop by Irish Woman's office this afternoon.

Better Off

Peter over at Bayou Renaissance Man links to a New York Times essay by a young woman who plans to break up with her boyfriend on the day that he deploys.  Now, she's been totally honest with the young man in that she has no desire to be a long-distance girlfriend and be there for him when he gets back.  She seems to care about him, as evidenced by the nightmares she reports about his well-being while deployed.  And they seem to only have been dating for a few months, so it's not like there is the obligation that a long relationship would give both of them.

But she is going to walk away from a man who loves her because she can't handle the loneliness of having someone she loves far from home.  She's honest enough to say that she doesn't think she can deal with the worry and anxiety of him being in harms way for so long.

So for her honesty, both with herself and with the soldier, I give her a lot of credit.  A lot of young people will get caught up in the rush of deployment and try to make something that hasn't fully mature permanent.  It's a romantic fantasy of the dashing young soldier marrying his sweetheart just before shipping off to some godforsaken battlefield, and there is no more overused female stereotype as the virtuous wife and girlfriend who sits by the fire, bravely pining away for Johnny to come marching home.

So I think they'll both be better off not being involved as he deploys.  She gets to clear her psyche so there won't be any guilt if she finds that anxiety and those nightmares fading over the coming months. He gets the security of knowing that no-one is cheating on him while he's away, and he comes home to a clean slate for his post-deployment reacclimatization. What man doesn't want to come home to an empty apartment and a schedule totally free of romantic entanglements?

Who knows, maybe she'll realize that she truly cares enough for him to try to keep their relationship working in some form while she's away, or maybe she'll discover some other toy to fascinate her for a while so that her self-doubt can work itself out.  Either way, she'll be able to say that she was strong for herself rather than for someone else.  She'll remember that this is the time when she was loyal to herself, instead of the man who loved her and would have gained strength from knowing that someone back home was there for him.  He can say that he knows that she was there only for the good times, not to be there as a friend, if not a lover.

So I wish them both luck.  I hope that in one way or another, she discovers she's made the right decision.  I also hope that if she follows through with her plan to let him go, he finds something or someone else to give him a reason to look forward to going home.

Monday, February 13, 2012

News Roundup

  • From the "Rocket Surgery" Department - The European Space Agency has announced that their latest rocket, the Vega, has made its maiden flight.  It is expected that the Vega will be used to lift satellites into orbit alongside its larger models, the Soyuz and the Ariane.  That is, it will be used for that purpose until the engine quits and it starts to rust through.  Once it reaches that state, it will probably be replaced with a more efficient Japanese rocket and sit on blocks in front of ESA headquarters until sold for scrap to pay for tickets to see Van Halen.
  •  From the "Self Correcting Problem" Department - A man has been going to high school athletic matches and jumping on the backs of athletes.  Apparently someone didn't get enough hugs as a kid, and now he needs attention.  The man has been convicted of several crimes connected to these acts, but that doesn't seem to deter him.  My guess is he will continue to do this until he jumps on the back of a rugby player or the fathers of the athletes he's messing with start wearing steel toed workboots to the games.  After that, the problem will be taken care of all by itself.
  • From the "Want Fries With That?" Department - A McDonalds manager in Australia is under arrest after throwing hot oil on a man who came across the counter at him.  Police are trying to decide if the man acted in self defense.  I'm not going to try to influence your views on this, but I plan on having McDonalds for lunch tomorrow to go with my Starbucks.
  • From the "Four Rules" Department - A woman in Florida was shot in the head after a parishioner at her church took his gun out to show it to someone else, but forgot that even when you take the magazine out of the gun, there may still be a bullet in the chamber.  Heck, I've found that bullets sometimes grow there all by themselves, even after you swear you checked it.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again:  By our dumbasses shall we be judged.  This idiot broke at least two of the Four Rules, and because of his bad judgement, a young woman is badly wounded.  Here's hoping she pulls through, and that this jerk serves as a good example of what not to do.

30 Days of Twain - Day 12

The funniest things are the forbidden.

Today's Earworm

Product Review - 5.11 Tactical Pants

Along with the polo shirt that 5.11 Tactical provided for review, they also included a pair of their their Tactical Pants.  These are cotton cargo pants that seem to be built for rough duty.  They are well-fitting, tough, and comfortable.  They are a bit of overkill for the guy who wants a pair of cargo pants to wear while heading down to Starbucks on Valentine's Day, but they make great pants for outdoor work, sports, and anything where you need something that will stand up to abuse and still look good.

The pants are made of a cotton material that is somewhere between denim and canvas in thickness and strength.  It's very comfortable and breathes very well, but is stiffer than the material in jeans or khakis.  It's also tough.  I wore these mens cargo pants while doing yard work, running around in concrete and steel buildings, moving wood and running the chain saw, and while doing construction work around the house, and all they did was get dirty.  In comparison, the name brand cargo pants I bought at Superdupermegamart at Christmas time have several holes ripped in them, and are very faded.

Speaking of getting dirty, I couldn't keep them dirty.  I got these things filthy with motor oil, chain oil, dirt, fake blood (semi-intentionally), real blood (unintentionally), and just about every other funky thing I could find.  The only thing that took more than one washing to come out was red clay soil, and that didn't stain permanently.  The only thing I noticed after 20+ cycles through the wash was that the edges of seams started to fade a bit.  The pants didn't wrinkle if folded or hung up promptly after being removed from the washer dryer, but did get wrinkly when left in the bottom of a gym bag for a few hours.  Then again, these aren't dress pants, so I didn't mind them wrinkling a bit.
Some minor fading along edges

The construction of the pants is designed for hard use.  All places where seams come together are reinforced with extra stitching and material.  The knees are doubled over, with an interior pocket for knee pads if those are necessary.   The closure for the pants is a snap, which seems to be pretty rugged.  I personally prefer the rivet type closure you find on jeans, but this snap does not seem to be as delicate and prone to breakage as you find with other snaps and sewn-on buttons.

Snap Closure.
 I was evil to this thing, but it never popped open
unexpectedly or broke
The pockets that have closures are secured with hook and loop material.  The patches of this material are put on with double and triple stitching, so they're not going to come off under rough usage.  However, like anything else using hook and loop, you're going to make an unmistakable noise when you open a pocket, which is less than optimal when trying to be quiet when hunting.

Left thigh cargo pockets

One thing that I found missing on these pants was a shallow hip pocket on either side for a wallet.  There are deep hip pockets that go down to mid thigh, and those are quite roomy and good for keeping tools, magazines, and other things you want handy but not sliding around.  I tried carrying my wallet in one of these pockets, but it wasn't comfortable having a wallet banging against my thigh while I was walking or pressed up against my leg when I'm driving or sitting.  I found that the wallet could easily go in one of the cargo pockets with no discomfort, though.  I'm just a creature of habit, and I always reach for my wallet on my hip.

Rear pockets

The other pocket issue I found was the width of the opening for the front pockets.  These are nice, deep pockets that beg to be used for pocket carry, but I found that the opening was very tight for my hands when retrieving keys or trying to practice a draw from a pocket holster.  Now, keep in mind that I have very large hands (No commercial glove maker makes gloves big enough for me), so someone with smaller hands might find them more usable.  One good part of these openings being so tight was that I never had a problem with the sundry small items I carried around in them falling out.  Once it was in the pocket, it stayed in the pocket.

One nice fixture for me was the pocket that sits on the front of the left thigh.  I found this very handy for carrying either the reloads for my carry gun or a pocket knife and flashlight.  Two single-stack magazines had a lot of room left in the pocket with them.  Two double stack magazines were held very snugly.

Additional thigh pocket on left side of pants

Single stack magazines left a lot of room

One other feature that I had to figure out was the strap of webbing across the right hip. I eventually had to ask 5.11 what it was for, and their answer made sense at once:  it's for carabiners.  These pants were originally designed for climbers, and this was a convenient place to put all of the carabiners and other things that clip on for that sport.  Lo and behold, it was perfect for clipping on a knife or keys with a carabiner.  It was loose enough that clipping things on was easy, but not so loose that things flopped around.

Der Strap
That "just right" model seems to work for the rest of the way that the pants fit.  They're snug where they need to be without being tight, and they're loose where they need to be without being floppy.  There was enough room underneath them for me to add a layer of thermal underwear when it was cold without looking like the Staypuft Marshmallow Man.  The pants moved very well as I stretched and worked with no binding.  I have it on good authority that they looked good on me.  However, these are definitely not pants for office wear.  These are work and play pants, either because you're kicking in doors, walking through the woods, or working around the house and yard.  I got no weird looks at the grocery store, but interestingly enough, got some quizzical looks at the gun store.

Overall, I'd rate these as a good value.  The one thing that I see missing from them is the aforementioned pocket for a wallet, and they definitely can't have double use as something you could wear to the office and then wear on the weekends.  They price out at $54.99, but I expect that they will last for years with proper care.

Disclaimer:  5.11 Tactical provided me with the materials for this review, but I received no other compensation for doing it.  I offered to return the pants when I was done with the evaluation.
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