Monday, March 29, 2010

Updated the Blog Roll

I cleaned up and added to my blog roll.  If I took you off or missed you, please drop me a comment and I'll add you.

It could happen here

Major news outlets are reporting that a pair of bombers have blown themselves up in two different subway stations in Moscow.  The FSB is going on the assumption that the perpetrators were Chechen.  Chechen rebels have threatened to bring their fight to Russian cities.  Russian forces recently killed several Chechen leaders, so this may be a revenge hit.

Here's the deal.  It's really hard to defend against either lone bombers or small groups of them.  Even if they are foreigners or have gone overseas for training, in a free society, the police cannot watch everyone all the time. 

What's to stop radicalized Muslims from adapting such small-scale terror tactics to strike the American homeland?  Nothing.   Talk about effective, cheap, economy of force tactics to strike fear in the root of your enemies society.

So far, except for 9/11, we've gotten lucky in the United States.  But those who would do us harm have struck targets overseas, including London, Madrid, and Bali. 

Al Qaeda so far seems to be continually going after the long bomb touchdown against us.  They succeeded on 9/11, and the government has reported on stopping several groups that were in the planning stage of other large scale attacks. 

But could they stop one or two people who learn how to make small wearable bombs and walk into the neighborhood Kroger and blow themselves up in the produce department?  Or the young woman with a child who walks into a school bus terminal in Louisville during the morning rush to get kids to school and taking out a group of kindergarteners waiting for their bus?

My guess is no.  My other guess is that if Al Qaeda ever does start using such tactics, it will break Americans out of their current state of not caring too much about these kinds of threats and either go or get off the pot.  We will either get serious about neutralizing the terrorists either military or socially,  or we will show that we do not deserve our role in the world. 

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Here's an idea

Saw this link on BlackfiveKim Zigfield over at Pajamas Media has an excellent write-up on why the United States should not send soldiers to march in Red Square on the 65th anniversary of VE day.

I have to say, I agree with her.  By appearing with Putin's government like this, we give his actions legitimacy.

But if we are going to send troops to march in front of a pro-Communist, former KGB agent who actively planned the destruction of US forces in West Germany, then I suggest a subtle snub go along with it.

In order to let the people who oppose the neo-communist regime in Moscow know we stand with them, we should send elements of the 27th Infantry Regiment to march.  You see, the 27th is known as the "Wolfhounds", a nickname they were given by Russian Bolsheviks they fought in Siberia during the Russian Civil War.  They can even bring along their Russian Wolfhound mascot.

What better way to appear at this event and still give a boost to those in Russia who want to continue down the road to freedom than to send a unit that spent most of its rich history fighting Communists?

I must love my son, for I would not do this but for him

OK, I indulge my children.  Actually, sometimes I verge on spoiling them.

Today, I rode that edge between indulgence and spoiling very closely.

BooBoo will be turning 2 soon, and as an early birthday present, Irish Woman and I took him to see a Sesame Street show.

Imagine a theater filled with about 300 children aged 0 to 5, along with their parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles.  Give the kids snow cones and cotton candy which is being hawked by vendors before the show.

Then turn down the lights and have Elmo, Big Bird, and Grover get up on stage and dance for an hour plus. 

BooBoo had a great time, and we enjoyed it through him.  But thank the Lord for Excedrin.  By the time the show was over, all of the adults were ready to go on a 3 day drunk.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

New Shooter

Irish Woman went to the range today for a beginner pistol class.

A friend of ours loaned me his Ruger Security Six for her to use, but the range provided Ruger .22 pistols. That was probably a better choice, but I thought that putting .38 rounds in the .357 would also give her a good experience.

She said she was a bit intimidated, and acknowledges that she needs a lot of practice with semi's and double action revolvers.  But she was able to pinpoint places where she needs practice, and has decided that she needs to go to a gun store and try on pistols to fit her small hands. 

She seems to have enjoyed herself, and is agreeable to doing it more.  I'll take her to my gun store one of these weekends and let her figure out what she likes.

And her shots got better as the class went on.

Her first few shots were off, but still hit the paper.  As you can see, her last 10 or so chewed up the X ring.  Not bad for a first time shooter at 15 feet.


Loaf of Texas Toast bread - $1.50.

One Dozen Eggs - $1.19

NetFlix subscription - $14.99

Watching the Muppet Show and eating french toast with your toddler - priceless

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

This is really cool

The year is 2030.  While doing a regular breast or testicular exam (I'm covering both sexes here, not those with both.  Get your mind out of the gutter), you find a lump.  You immediately go to your doctor for testing, and after multiple blood, tissue, and imaging tests, it's confirmed as cancer.

20 years ago, in 2010, that would have meant surgery to remove the affected area, chemotherapy to kill any cancerous tissue that was left behind, and possibly radiation therapy.  All of these give you a really good chance of survival, but you are sick and recovering for years, and will always live in fear that the cancer will return and you'll have to go through all of that again.

However, now you are sent to a nano-oncologist.  After a few tests to make sure they match your treatment with your specific malady and tissue type, they give you several infusions of "medicine".  You don't lose your hair or your lunch, you don't walk around nauseous and weak for months on end, and after a few months you are confirmed cancer free.

This is all because of research that was published in 2010 by the California Institute of Technology.  Microscopic particles that are designed to latch onto cancer cells release RNA into the cancer to cause it to starve itself to death by not producing protein.  After delivering their payload, the particles break down and are passed out of the body with the other waste.

No nasty side effects.  Only cancerous tissue is effected, and it's thoughout the body, so there could be less chance that cancer will lurk somewhere waiting for a chance to return.

I'm really excited about this.  My grandmother died of cancer.  She went through a lot trying to fight it.  Treatments like this will provide an easier treatment for me and my children in the event that it runs in the family.

Also, this method could be used to treat other medical problems.  I have arthritis.  The best medicines for my condition are called TNF Alpha blockers, for Tumor Necrosis Factor - Alpha.  Basically, my body creates inflamation by producing a substance normally used to fight off cancers and other diseases.  The medicines inhibit the action of this substance, thereby cutting down on the inflammation.  But the medicines have side effects, and eventually stop working as my body builds up a resistance to them.  It would be great if I gave myself a shot every so often to stop my body from over-producing TNF Alpha, with no side effects.  I might even be able to wear a patch like the ones used to help people stop smoking that slowly fed my body a stream of these particles.

Or if a diabetic, another condition that runs in my family, could be given particles that target the panceras, and induce it to create insulin at normal levels.

The use of this kind of technology would be revolutionary.  Research like this could lead to cures and treatments for diseases that people either die from or just have to live with.  Research like this is either done by companies that specialize in medical treatments, or is sponsored by them at universities.  But if the money won't be there to sell the resulting drugs, devices, or technologies, these companies won't pay for the research in the first place.  This is one more reason I don't like the government control of health care.  And I have skin in the game on this one.  Anything that improves my or my children's chances of having treatments for conditions that run in my family is good for us, and anything that threatens these treatments is bad for us.  So I'm not entirely idealistic or altruistic in my opposition to Obamacare.

H/T to Slashdot for the link.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Enough to make me ill

Watched the health care bill signing/victory lap/pep rally this afternoon during lunch.  It was bad enough to make me leave my dessert behind.  Even if it's crap, it's still history if for no other reason that it's the moment when the country started accelerating it's trip down the septic tube.

First, Joe "Foot-in-Mouth Disease" Biden got up and publicly fellated the president for all of the "hard work" that he had put in ramming through an unpopular, unworkable piece of legislation.  He then hugged the President and dropped the F-bomb before fading back into the furniture like the good little comedy relief he is.

Then the President got up and thanked all of the members of the Eleventy-First Congress who signed their political death warrants by voting for this piece of dreck.  He singled out "Dingy" Harry Reid and Nancy "The Joker" Pelosi as the best congressional leadership the universe has ever seen. It's good to see that medical marijuana use isn't restricted to just the terminally ill, but also the terminally narcissistic.  He then talked about how hard it had been to buck the will of the people who elected him in order to fulfill all of the freshman political science wet dreams he'd had while snorting coke at college.

There were multiple interruptions of his ex-cathedra pronouncements on how this was going to fix all of the problems in the world by the assembled masses clapping and calling for his immediate crowning and canonization.  It reminded me of the old films of the Soviet Congresses during the Stalin era, where those who didn't clap long or hard enough were escorted out of the Kremlin and taken to the Lubyanka. 

After signing the miscarriage of the public good, he glad handed all of the assembled drones and I tuned out.

It was about the weakest example of statesmanship I've ever seen.  So much for reaching across the aisle and trying to mend fences with the opposition.  So much for the dignity of the law making process.  And so much for my hope that any meaningful work will get done by this government until after the November elections.

I knew they were evil, but this is a new level

Heaven knows I've fallen victim to mammary related hypnotic possession in my life.  I've seen them used as weapons on multiple occasions, as well as an attractant that can cause the male of the species lose his judgement in a matter of seconds.

But I never thought I'd see them actually weaponized.

Guess next we'll have to have roving guards giving breast exams to likely suspects.  That "Booby Inspector" badge I used to own might have come in handy.

Yes, I'm childish.  What's your point?

Monday, March 22, 2010


Well, they went and rammed through their health care bill. I haven't commented because I try to not get angry about things like this and then come here and rant and rave.  I know that may come as a shock to some of you, but I do.

The few pro-life Democrats who seemed willing to stand up for their principles sold their souls to the Obama administration for 30 pieces of silver in the form of a promise to not use federal tax money to pay for abortions.

Cue Neville Chamberlain voice:  I hold here in my hand, a promise from Mr. Obama to not use your tax dollars to bring about the wholesale slaughter of unborn children.  We have health care reform in our day.

Everyone should be aware by now of my opposition to this bill.  I've sent letters to my senators and representative.  I've blogged about it here, and commented on other blogs.  Where I can, I've lent moral support to those who have the ability to go directly to Washington to protest.

But it didn't work.  Even though a large majority of American citizens are against this effort, it got rammed down our throats last night in the most partisan manner I've ever seen. 

Several of the various states have broadcast their intentions to sue the federal government to stop at least some parts of this new law.  Republican partisans are salivating at the chance to use it as a wedge issue in the upcoming elections.  I expect promises to repeal this law will be quick to come once the political ads start coming hard and fast.

I have a few predictions:

  1. There will be fewer doctors to take care of patients, especially in specialties that due to the high cost of mal-practice insurance already run with a low profit margin.  Why keep seeing patients when there's no way to make a decent living doing it.
  2. Within a year of this law coming into effect, if it's not overturned in court or repealed, my employer will stop offering me health insurance.  It'll be cheaper for them to either give me a little more money to buy my own or more likely just stop with no extra compensation.  Why pay for my insurance when they can just tell me to use what is available at government subsidized rates?  They'll save even more money because they won't have to hire people to administer insurance coverage anymore.
  3. The over-use of emergency departments will continue to rise, and most people will either forgo maintenance care or will have to resort to going to McClinics at their local pharmacies or grocery stores.  Nothing like the bedside manner of an over-worked PA at Kroger's.
  4. Even if the Republicans take back the House and Senate, they either won't repeal this law, or will only repeal those parts they find objectionable, and will keep the new taxes to pay for their own pet projects.

And that's just what I can think of off the top of my head.  As someone who's worked hard to have a job that provides "cadillac" health coverage, it's an insult to be told that now I'm expected to provide for all of those people in my life who blew off school, didn't apply themselves to get ahead in their jobs, and can now look forward to getting free health care paid for by all of us who work for a living.

I'm all about charity, and give regularly to causes that include providing medical care to the indigent, but I hate being forced.  So now that I'm being forced, I'm looking forward to watching the show as things go downhill. 


Well, hell must be freezing over.

Girlie Bear's mom called me a few minutes ago, and she's agreeing to try to teach the dog not to nip or bite.  She talked to Girlie Bear earlier this afternoon, and listened to her cry over her pet.

The woman may actually have a heart.  Hopefully she means it.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Just a damn shame

Got a call this afternoon from Girlie Bear.  She was spending the weekend with her mom.  Seems that she and Little Bear were wrestling, and their dog Buddy decided to get into the act.  Unfortunately, Buddy is a nipper, and decided to nip Girlie Bear in the arm.  The bite broke the skin, and when she or the dog tried to pull away, the wound tore.  Buddy's caught up on his shots, and he's not vicious.  He's just poorly trained and got carried away.

I ran over there to check it out, and took Girlie Bear for 3 stitches.  She was a trooper and didn't cry until her mom told her that she was taking the dog to the pound.

I asked Girlie Bear's mom to take Buddy to a no-kill shelter so that he could be better trained and adopted out, but I'm not hopeful.  She called the Shamrock Foundation, which is the agency we adopted Timmy from, but they won't take a dog who bites.  There are others, but since it's easier for her to just call the pound and have him carted off, I'm pretty sure that's what she'll do.  One of her neighbors does animal rescue work, and she says she'll also talk with her, but my gut tells she'll just send him off to the pound.  Hopefully he'll be adopted out from there, but they'll only keep him for a few days before euthanizing him.

I'd take the dog myself, but we're full up.  All of our family and friends are too.

Like the title says, this is just a damn shame.  Buddy is a good pet to Girlie Bear and Little Bear, but he hasn't been trained properly not to nip.  Now, because his owner didn't take the time to train him, he's losing a good home with two kids that he loves and that love him and will end up in a shelter.  The best thing that could happen for him is to get adopted and trained.  I'm going to hope that that will happen, because it upsets me to think of his end if he's not lucky.  People who don't treat their animals right and discard them when they become inconvenient just get under my skin.  People should treat the things in their life as if they mattered, not as if they're disposable.  A person who gets rid of a pet when they become difficult will get rid of a spouse or child when they become inconvenient.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Small World

I was listening to Vicious Circle this afternoon, and Christina mentioned that she went to DLI for Korean in '89 and '90.   I was at DLI during that time for Russian.  Small world.

The military community is small, and military linguists are even smaller.  We all tend to be stationed in the same places, get the same assignments, do the same tasks, and meet over and over again.

I run into someone I knew in the military every so often.  We spend a few minutes catching up and refreshing our knowledge of how mutual friendships are doing.  There are promises to keep in touch, and sometimes they are even kept.

I suppose any group of people is like that.  If you went to a university, you have a group of people that you knew through school that you run into and remember.  But the relationships I made in the military are the closest I've ever met.  I have a group of friends that I haven't seen since I left Arizona a decade ago, and I still remember that it's my turn to buy a round next time we get together.

So, here's to old friends and comrades, wherever they may be.  And here's to the small world of friends that we all have.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Good name for a team

Bad Ass of the Week has profiled a little cutie called the "Honey Badger" this week.  Basically, if you gave a rabid Rottweiler PCP and then electro-shocked him into a frenzy, it'd be this little puffball.

Favorite Quote:

He's a brutal, vicious killer who kicks asses, never backs down, never registers fear, destroys everything in its path and then adorably trots off into the sunset with his prey in his teeth and the severed nutsacks of his enemies still gripped between his dagger-like claws.
 Several  of my favorite sports teams, including the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux are being pressured to change their names because they might be deemed as offensive.  I say that if the NCAA wants to force a school to change the name of their team after decades of use, then I say using an animal that uses its teeth to de-nut his opponents would be a good choice for a new mascot.

Lost Another One

Learned this morning that Fess Parker has died.  When I was growing up, I watched "Davy Crockett" on TV every chance I had, and we played Davy Crockett more than we did Cowboys and Indians.  My mother freaked out when I told her I wanted a flint lock rifle for my birthday when I was 7.  I was probably the last kid in America to get a 'coon skin cap for Christmas.  Still looking for that flint lock rifle.

I wasn't aware that after he left acting, he became an entrepreneur and produced some high quality wine.  I'm going to have to look some of that up and see how it goes.  From what I can gather, it's quite good.

So, Mr. Parker, thanks for representing a great symbol for a young boy who needed it.  I hope you're in Heaven telling stories with that wonderful drawl and voice. 

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Deer O'Clock

Saw our carrot munching four legged neighbors tonight.  It was a doe with two yearlings, probably her fawns from last year.  They were in the yard at the end of our street, having a light snack before dark.  It was light enough that I could see them with the naked eye, but not light enough that the pictures I took with my phone could make them out.

I saw more as I was driving down the highway on my way into town.  Guess they're out and about now that the food is starting to grow again.

Good to see that the little ones made it through the winter.  Hopefully there will be a good crop this year.

Post St. Patrick's Day Hint

Here's one for you folks:

When walking through a crowd in Dublin, do not look at your dear Irish Woman of a wife and remark rather loudly "Man, there are a lot of Mics in this country."

It tends to annoy the locals.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

I hope all of you with a little Irish in you have a good day.  And if you don't, fake it.

Drown the shamrock one time for everyone who loves you, and twice for those who wish you ill.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Get thee behind me, Steve Jobs

The iPad is up for pre-order, with delivery in April.

Want, but not enough to drop a car payment on.  I'll wait until 2.0 comes out and then re-evaluate.

What's the Big Deal

Speaking of the Supreme Court, a group of workers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory is suing the government for forcing them to go through an intense background check, including looking at subjects such as their physical and mental health, their financial situation, and even their sexual orientation.  They object to having these aspects of their personal lives pried into by their employer.

I had a clearance when I was in the military.  The initial paperwork weighed in at almost 30 pages, and included questions about my sex life, health, financial situation, and even my political affiliations.

When the government  investigated my background, they spoke to people who never even occurred to me when I started the paperwork. These included my pediatrician, my first grade teacher, and my first priest.

Yes, that's intrusive and a bit paranoid.  The idea was to check my character and background as far back and as thoroughly as possible in order to accurately assess the risk of giving me access to classified information.

These checks are used more to weed out those who might be tempted or forced to divulge what they know.  The obvious threats of people who want to be hostile spies are easy to find.
If I was a closeted homosexual, then my fear of being exposed could be used as blackmail material.

If I was chronically bad with money, and was deep in debt, it would be easy to tempt me with money to betray the country.

If I was a member of the Communist party, my loyalty to the international struggle against capitalism might trump my loyalty to the country.

These federal employees are being asked to submit to a similar process.  Why?  Because they want to work on projects that can have dual uses.  If you can design a rocket that will deliver a communications sattelite to orbit, you can design a missile that will deliver a nuclear warhead to another continent.  If you work on the design of a surveillance satellite, you know its capabilities and can sell them to the highest bidder.  Even the receptionists and janitors at these facilities need clearances.  Understanding of technology is not necessary if you decide to steal it.

These scientists have no right to work for the government at the JPL or anywhere else.  If they don't want to go through the process of proving their reliability and stability, they can work somewhere else.  Of course, if you want to work in aerospace research without at least working indirectly for the government, your choice of employers is pretty limited.  But I've heard that Richard Branson is hiring.

Hat Tip to Slashdot, the keeper of all news geeky.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Interesting Thought

The Supreme Court recently agreed to hear a case in which a man whose son's funeral was picketed and intruded on by a "church" run by some scum named Phelps sued said scum.  Mr. Scum is saying that his rantings are protected 1st Amendment speech, and he shouldn't be sued for them.

Doing something like this at a Marine's funeral doesn't seem to be political speech to me.

There's been a bit of talk on the blogs that even though Phelps is roundly disliked and no one would cry if he were put into a portapotty and set ablaze, his speech should be protected.  Reminds me of the case back when I was a kid when neo-Nazi's wanted to demonstrate in a predominantly Jewish city.  The cry then was "If we restrict the speech of one, we restrict the speech of all".

I kind of agree.  I may hate what Phelps and his followers are spewing, and hope that the Almighty drops a frozen chunk of airliner sewage on his head, but I believe that the state should not do anything to restrict his spewing.

But what if the father of that slain serviceman could walk over to Phelps and his followers and demand satisfaction on the field of honor?  LawDog discusses the 18th century understanding of dueling and how it was a way for people other than the government to curb such antics.

Would Phelps and morons like him think twice about making a general nuisance of themselves if they knew that the people they were insulting could force them to put up or shut up with their own life?

If screaming "God Hates Fags!" at a family that is mourning the loss of their son could get you shot, stabbed, or beaten to death, would you stop bothering people at the funeral of their child?

Would the streets run red with the blood of the annoying?  Maybe.  But if being impolite or insulting becomes a potential death sentence, then maybe society would become more civil.  And families that are already mourning the violent death of their son or daughter could mourn in peace. 

Veteran's Benefits aren't Welfare

Over at This Aint Hell, there is a discussion about the high cost of an education in the US, and specifically about how there is a large portion of the population that think that higher education should be cost-free.  The author reports that at one point he was told that his GI Bill benefits were just welfare.  I've heard that before. 

When I was attending college after I left the Army, several of my classmates expressed similar feelings.  These young people still received checks from mumsy and dadsy every month, drove cars paid for by their parents, and were regularly absent from class because they were spending mom and dad's money on beer instead of studying.  And they always whined when their Pell Grant money was a couple of days late.

I found a way to shut down the conversations when I blurted out that the money I got every month from my investment in the GI Bill was repayment for all of the crap that I had done while in the Army.  And if they wanted some, they were welcome to get a haircut, show some guts, and take the oath of enlistment.  Until then, they were nothing more than leaches on the butt of society.

I got a reputation as being "hard to approach".  Qel Surpris.

Once a month, money was put into my bank account by the government in repayment for the 9 years worth of bad hours, forced labor, cold food, crappy co-workers, and time away from everyone I loved.

Every month, I'd look at my statement, and think "This one pays for X", where X was something like:
  • those 3 days I spent laying in a snow bank watching a road
  • eating MRE's for 35 days straight because my captain thought a field kitchen was for wimps
  • the 63 days in a row that I went without a shower and eventually bathed myself by rubbing newly fallen snow on my bare skin to get some of the funk off
  • almost getting shot by a moron who turned his rifle sideways across the firing line and banged it on the ground to clear a failure, thereby shooting a 5.56mm bullet between my elbow and my nose while I was in the firing position next to him
Eventually, I graduated, and I feel that I'm paid in full for those 9 years.

The benefits that veterans get are paid for in blood, sweat, and heartache.  Anyone who feels differently ought to man up and enlist so that they can have an informed opinion.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Quote of the day and a thought

Robert Heinlein - "Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards."

I've been writing since I was very young.  A lot of it amounts to not much more than navel gazing or spleen venting.  I try to keep a lot of both off of this page.

I try to keep things fun here, and when I'm serious about something, I want it to be something that readers will think is important too.

For your sake, I try to not let this become a surrogate Facebook page.  If I ever go that route, please let me know.  I may need an intervention.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

My morning jog

Yesterday morning, after everyone had gone off to work or school, I put on my sneakers and took our two labs out to the 1/2 acre they enjoy as their play yard.  Since I was only going to be out for a few minutes, I went out in a tee shirt and a pair of pajama pants.

Plans for coming back in and getting ready for work were thwarted when Bluegrass slipped her leash and took off like her butt was on fire.

For the next 1/2 hour, I tried to catch up to her.  She would run for a while, then stop to sniff whatever needed sniffing.  When she noticed that I was within 10 feet of her, she'd take off again.  Kind of like the "Fox and Hounds" runs I remember hating when I was in the Army.

Imagine if you will, a yellow labrador retriever running through a neighborhood, being pursued by a spitting mad Norwegian wearing old tennis shoes, checkered flannel pajama pants, and a ratty old tee shirt and shouting "Blue, come here Blue!".

Blue eventually made her way back to our house, and waited patiently for me to catch up before nuzzling my hand.  "Aren't I a good girl?  I came home.   Can I have a bone?"

I bit my tongue, praised her for coming home, and took her out back to spend the day with Shadow.

I then took my bruised public image in, got ready for work, and headed in.  I haven't run that much since I left Fort Campbell.  And I don't plan on doing it again soon. 

As for the dog, she is getting a new, tighter collar and will be on a much shorter leash.  But she is a good girl for coming home rather than running out into traffic.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Ooooh, looky, looky

The CMP Store has .30-06 ammunition for sale again! 192 and 200 round spam cans in en-bloc clips for $96 and $120 respectively. 

I bought two cans from them last year when I bought my Garand, and they had just started limiting customers to 10 cans a year.  They ran out during the great guns and ammo rush of '09, and have been advertising that they would get more 'soon' for about 6 or 8 months.  I guess 'soon' is now.

It's good ammo, and was specifically designed for the Garand.  Something to do with the burn rate of the powder.  I've been advised to get an adjustable gas plug if I want to use commercial ammunition so that I don't bend the op-rod.  I haven't used up the rounds I bought last year, so I haven't invested in one yet.

The price has gone up a bit from last year, but not much.  I'll have to start adding this to my list of things to save up for and buy periodically.  The Garand is so much fun to shoot that it is easy to burn through ammunition.

And for the record, I have no connection to either the CMP or Midway USA other than being a customer.

The continuing saga of Captain Dumbass and the Boy Blunder

Two more "accidents" in which animals in cages have caused grave bodily harm to morons who stick parts of their bodies too close to the bars.

In the first case, a woman in Wisconsin lost part of her hand when she reached through warning barriers and bars to try to feed two bears.  Her husband was also bitten when he tried to help her.  I don't ding him in the least for his injuries.  That's kinda the point of being a husband, to put yourself in danger if something or someone attacks your wife.  But this woman, who had her grandchild along to see the whole thing, is to blame for the entire incident.  Oh well, this is how therapists stay in business.

Authorities say that alcohol may have been involved.  No fooling?

Another woman in Florida lost her thumb when a jaguar bit it off.  Again, she put her hand in the cage.  In this case, she was visiting a private animal sanctuary, not a zoo.  The proprietor of the sanctuary has been cited for not having warnings and barriers up, but in her defense, warnings and barriers can't prevent a case of the galloping stupids.

Both stories say that the animals involved probably won't be euthanized.  Good.  It's not the animals' fault that their mommies never told them not to put their hands into an animal's cage.  Like Chris Rock said when discussing Siegfried and Roy, that tiger didn't go crazy, that tiger went tiger.  You can't expect a wild animal to not react non-violently to morons getting their booger-hooks within reach of claws and teeth.

In both of these cases an adult, who is entrusted by society with driving a car, purchasing and using firearms, and raising children, was dumb enough to think it would be a good idea to put their hand into an enclosure that contained a large predatory carnivore.  People like this don't belong at the top of the food chain, and shouldn't be allowed to swim in the gene pool.

Are we protecting the stupid too much? Will the human race become dumber as time goes on because we do too much to protect the idiots from their own idiocy?  Stupidity is supposed to be fatal, but we may be messing with that natural selection thing a bit here.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Great Short Story

Marko, the Munchkin Wrangler, has put a wonderful short story up on his page.  I'm definitely putting him on my list of authors to watch out for.

I've been hooked on military SF since I found my step-father's copy of Starship Troopers.  Read it through twice in one night.  Been re-reading it every so often since then.  I had a first sergeant once who was the biggest geek I've ever seen who also had a combat drop star on his jump wings and a Ranger regiment combat patch, and he required all of his NCO's to read Heinlein for professional development.

David Drake caught my eye when I saw a Hammer's Slammers book in the PX in Germany, and I've read everything I can find of his since then.  Even though I love the Slammers series, my favorite of his is Redliners.  It's a lot less about the technology and more about the people and the impact that combat has on them.  Less deux ex machina than the Slammers, even if Drake uses the Slammers to retell wonderful historical stories, such as the Nika Riots and the Odyssey.

I recently read Freehold by Michael Z. Williamson.  It's a good story with a real focus on the development and evolution of the main character.  It's highly political, and has a bit too much sex in it, but it made for really engrossing reading.

Of course, Roberta X. has her "I Work on a Starship" series, which are excellent short stories that I'd love to see printed in dead tree format so I can give them to my kids.

Speaking of something I pass onto my kids, Larry Correia's Monster Hunter International was a quasi-military SF yarn that I liked so much, I bought a copy for Junior Bear for Christmas. 

My favorite military SF occurs in the 'next century' kind of timeframe.  Maybe we have FTL drive and all the other high-tech goodies, but it's not a smooth 'let's go' kind of thing that's been around for centuries. People in the stories are still people with all their warts and cracks, not totally together self-actualized wonderkinder.  Technology may have changed, but it's still as buggy and cantankerous as it is today.  I grew up reading and watching Star Trek, but as an adult, I've lost a little interest.  After actually being in the military and seeing how unevenly things work in the real world, I find it hard to suspend my disbelief enough to get into something where everything mostly works.  And in the event that something does break, it's fixed in a couple of hours by people who intuitively know what's wrong and don't have to spend hours or days reading through manuals to find out what that !@#$!@# unpublished error code means.

Not to say I don't watch Star Trek, though.  Hey, I'm still a geek.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Moe, Larry, and Curly Strike Again

3 teachers in Los Angeles have been suspended because their students brought pictures of basketball player and freak Dennis Rodman, drag queen RuPaul, and OJ "The Slasher" Simpson to a Black History Month parade. 

The teachers' defense is that all three of these people were on the approved list of personalities to study for Black History Month.

OK, two things here folks:

1.  Just because you can doesn't mean you should.
2.  What grade A, whizbang bluntskull decided it would be OK for children to study two cross dressers and a convicted felon for Black History Month?

What, were Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall, and Frederick Douglas not available?  Did the school board all drop a tab of acid before coming up with the suggested set of appropriate African American icons to study?

What's next, an assembly devoted to Inspector Clouseau on Bastille Day?  The Frito Bandito drawing contest on Cinco de Mayo

We have these group-specific heritage months so that children in particular and society in general can learn about the good examples that each of the ingredients in our melting pot bring to the soup.  Not so we can stress the freaks and bad examples that come with every ethnic and cultural group.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

This sounds really good

A company in Texas is marketing a pickle juice popsicle.

As weird as that sounds, it actually might be good.

I'll definitely try them if they sell them around here.

I like popsicles, but the massive amounts of sugar in them makes them a rare treat for me.

Something salty, sour, and garlicy that's made of ice might be good on a hot, muggy Kentucky day.


Monday, March 1, 2010

Looting versus scrounging

Reuters is reporting that looting is becoming prevalent in Conception in Chile.  This city was devastated by the magnitude 8.8 earthquake that occurred over the weekend.

Reading about this, Haiti, and Katrina got me to thinking about the taking of things that don't belong to you during emergencies.

Here's my philosophy:

Taking essentials such as food, water, diapers, and medicine from abandoned stores when there is no legal way to get it is scrounging.  But if you back up a truck to the store and you and your buddies fill it up so you can profit from the ill-gotten supplies is looting.

Negotiating with a shop owner to basically get an IOU for the supplies that you want to get from him when money just isn't there is scrounging.  Threatening shop owners with a mob and just taking everything in the stores is looting.

Picking through rubble to find some clothing for you and your family after you got out of the house at 3 AM is scrounging.  Smashing a shop window to grab some designer clothing and a TV is looting.

Asking your neighbor who was lucky enough to not take significant damage from a disaster to take your family in in exchange for labor and what supplies you have is scrounging.  Running your neighbors off or killing them so you can take over their property is looting.

Scroungers can be forgiven so long as they are only taking what they need.  Looters should be used to decorate light poles.

Let's face it, both scrounging and looting are bad choices.  People who basically have to steal to get the necessities of life have no other choice.  Taking what's not yours when society in general is in a state of chaos tends to get one shot.

The lessons I take from all of these incidents is that I can only rely on those who I know I can trust, and I have to be able to provide for my family myself.  For me, that means having a means to house and feed them in the event we can no longer get food and shelter in the normal ways, knowing enough about first aid and health care to take care of minor injuries and illnesses and how to prevent what I can't treat, and to protect them from anyone who might seek to take those things away from us.  Counting on scrounging and charity to provide for your family should be the last resort, not the only choice.

Pet Craziness

Breda has a good rundown on how having one pet can quickly turn into having multiple pets.

I got Koshka shortly after Girlie Bear was born.  Our previous cat had recently died, and I have always had a cat when I was allowed to.

After Girlie Bear and Little Bear's mom and I split up, it was just Koshka and me. She was home alone all day, and was making a hobby of getting into everything and destroying anything left out.  She was bored, and needed something to keep her out of trouble.

When a co-worker at Fort Campbell mentioned that his cat had had kittens, I agreed to take one as soon as they were weaned.  So I got Annya.  She was young enough that she still allowed Koshka to pick her up by the scruff, give her baths, and basically mother her.  So my pet had a pet of her own to keep her busy.

When I met the Irish Woman, she was petless, but was thinking of getting a dog.  We eventually got her a yellow English Labrador puppy.  Bluegrass was as cute and fuzzy as you could ask.  She definitely fit in with our new family.

But as she got a few months older, she became harder to handle.  Puppy energy in a package that was getting big and muscular was hard to control at times.  Our vet suggested getting her a companion to play with.

So the Irish Woman came home one day with a black lab mix that was about Blue's age.  Shadow was very shy at first, and let Bluegrass bully him while they played.  Eventually, he got over his jitters and asserted his equality with her.  Basically, she nipped him one too many times, and he showed her who was boss by body slamming her and sitting on her for an hour or so. 

So the Irish Woman had a pet, and her pet had a pet.

We stayed at that balance of two cats and two dogs for several years.  I'd like to say they were blissful, but Annya decided she didn't like dogs, so there were continual yowling fits as the dogs tried to live in peace with her.

Eventually, Annya and Koshka reached middle age, and started getting fat from lack of exercise.  They had apparently gotten into some kind of "I leave you in peace to nap, and I'll leave you in peace to nap" deal with each other.  Since I didn't want to lose them to obesity, I thought having a younger cat around might help.

So we adopted Timmy.

He did exactly as I expected, and more.  His energy and outgoing personality kept the other cats on their toes and shed some of their weight.  Of course, he himself doesn't subscribe to any philosophy of eating right and exercising, so he's gotten a bit rotund.  As he's slowed down, the other cats are exacting their revenge on him.  He'll lose those pounds if he wants to survive being ambushed.  So my two cats have a pet to keep them active.

Last summer, I heard a quiet meowing from a bush in our yard, and found a small kitten.  She wouldn't let me get close enough to capture her, but she would eat if we left food out.  I kept putting food out in hopes that eventually she would come to me and I could take her to a shelter.  No luck, and after the neighbor caught her and took her to get spayed, he released her into the yards again.  No idea why he didn't just take her to a shelter, but now she won't come very close to us at all.  She does, however, love our dogs.

She spends her days playing with Shadow and Blue in the yard, and gets her naps cuddled up with them.  I continue to put food out for her, and she's been keeping the mouse population down in our detached garage and woodpile.  So our pets have another pet.  The kids named her Patches due to the pattern of her coat.

So here's the chart:

I have one pet, Koshka.

Koshka has one pet, Annya.

Koshka and Annya share a pet, Timmy.

The Irish Woman has one pet, Bluegrass.

Bluegrass has a pet, Shadow.

Shadow has a pet, Patches.

So I can honestly say that Irish Woman and I only have one pet apiece.  But our pets have pets, and those pets have pets.  That rounds out our managerie.

Yes, I live on the edge of madness.  Why do you ask?
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