Monday, May 29, 2006


Snuggle Bunny and Snuggle Monkey are also enjoying their wedded bliss. We expect a lot of small stuffed bunkies pretty soon. I built Snuggle Monkey for Amy when she was in grad school in North Carolina 7 hours away. He has a voice box with a message from me on it. She bought me Snuggle Bunny the following my birthday. Normally they're in jeans and t-shirts, but we bought them formal wear for the wedding.

Yes, I did make it through the ceremony although the circle dance at the reception was a challenge. They should use chairs with five point harnesses for those things. Trying to hold onto the chair and the handkerchief that connects you with your spouse is a non-trivial problem.

Right now Amy and I are at a farewell brunch her parents are hosting. Things are clearing out so we finally have a breather. We're both introverts so this stuff ain't easy for us. But hey we're only going to get married once.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Theological Epiphanies

Wandering around wikipedia can be interesting because you learn to put names to things you already believe but developed on your own. In some ways it can be very depressing because you learn that "original" ideas you formed all by your lonesome aren't quite as original as you thought. Turns out someone else thought it first. How annoying. Especially since Solomon even beat me to the "somebody has already thought of it" line of reasoning with Ecclessiastes.

Anyway, such was the case tonight. Turns out I have used Clarkian presuppositionalism on several different occassions. Although I can't be sure that I agree with all his tenets, I did independently derived his axiomatic outlook. I came to these conclusions largely by merging mathematical proofs and theology together to provide some basis for philosophical proofs.

One of these days I'll have to read more philosophy and theology and save myself some effort. Unfortunately it tends to bore the hell out of me. Also unfortunately it is not in any literal sense when the little devil on your shoulder packs up a leaves.

Michelle Malkin

Her latest segment on Hot Air about the confluence of arrogant members of both parties is quite good. She's easy on the eyes, funny, and brings up the whole checks and balances aspect of the recent Bill Jefferson sting.

Good Economics News

Larry Kudlow says the economy is in good shape. Growth is at 3.5 percent which isn't amazing but is steady. And steady is a good thing.
Economic pundits keep telling us about the impending slowdown. Well, they’ve been waiting for a slowdown for years. Actually, I’ve heard about this slowdown for 25 years, ever since Reagan restructured and revived American capitalism through low tax rates, deregulation, and disinflation.
I'm sure there will be an economic slowdown. I'm also sure that gravity will pull every object I throw into the air back to earth. Eventually the economy will need to rebalance and adjust to changing conditions. Predicting the downfall of the economy is great because eventually you get to be right.

But I have no idea when it will happen. Neither do most of these pundits. I'm betting a decline in some sectors, like real estate will happen sooner rather than later. With interest rates going up, the real estate market is going to have a shakeup. I'm also wondering about energy costs, but I don't know enough about that market yet. I'm betting more production is going to move stateside because US citizens are getting hit in the wallet by what is happening overseas.

Other than that, the economy is good and I can't complain.

Bad Wedding Advice

John is holding a contest for the worst possible wedding advice people can give us. He started things off by advising me that my wedding is on Saturday instead of Sunday. ;)

Street Justice

Anger: Almost getting sideswiped by an F-150 leaving work. Anti-lock brakes don't fail me now!

Patience: Not hitting the gas and passing him.

Satisfaction: Said F-150 getting pulled over by police cruiser a half-mile later.

Finally having hypersensitive traffic cops on base works for me not against me.

Towel Day

Are you a frood who really knows where your towel is?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Wedding Processionals

One of the weird disconnects in my impending nuptuals is the procession in. Jews have one way of doing it. Everyone processes in. Christians have at least two that I have found. Sometimes the groom and groomsman start up front, sometimes not. Anyway here's something I came up with which should work:
My Grandparents
Amy's Paternal Grandmother and her Husband
Amy's Maternal Grandmother and an Usher
My Mother and I
My Best Man and Groomsman (together or one after another)
My Father and Amy's Mother
The Bridesmaids
Amybear and Her Dad
One job done. Now I need to pick a good wedding prayer.

The Weak Dollar

I'm a car guy. In reading BBC Channel 4 an interview with GM Executive Bob Lutz I overturned this important economic tidbit:
Lutz explains that GM and other US giants have managed to hold their own against the Europeans and immensely strong Asians in recent times, largely thanks to the weakness of the American currency.
The falling dollar has been badmouthed quite a bit and for some good reason. After all a weaker dollar means imports into the US cost more and that isn't a good thing for maintaining our material quality of life.

But there is definitely a good side to the falling dollar, it makes American products more attractive on the international market. I don't think America's prolonged drop in industrial capacity is a good thing. Having an industrial base in heavy industry and consumer products is good and a falling dollar helps us with that.

I don't know that the weak dollar is a good thing, but I do think it is a cloud with a definite silver lining.

UPDATE: Ok I'm sort of a car guy. Not enought to, say, debate the finer qualities of various all-wheel drive schemes. But enough to know that engine output must be judged by more than horsepower alone.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


My church just sent me an email asking if I can usher on Sunday. While I have a nice suit for it, I think I'll be busy.

Google News

Newsbusters is exposing editorial bias at Google news in a piece Instapundit linked to this morning. Long story short, Google news is delisting conservative news sites and weblogs for "hate speech". When asked for specifics, Google references criticisms of Islam and Islamic terrorism.

This has been a problem at Google for quite a while. Google doesn't have an unbiased news system. Google has an unbiased news engine that is fed with data showing varying degrees of selection bias. Which means their results are biased as well. But there is always Yahoo! News.

Common Horse Sense

The fate of the thoroughbred Barbaro is blanketing the local news right now. I do care. Barbaro's story is yet another story of horse with Triple Crown potential who just didn't make it. Which sucks. And he was raised locally, which double sucks. And we still don't know whether Barbaro is going to make it or not. They still may have to put him down even after the surgery.

But ultimately he's just a horse. A talented and famous horse, but a horse. Why is he the lead story on the nightly news or the front page on every paper? Aren't people dying on the streets of Philadelphia? Lets have some perspective here.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Gonzales Gaffs

The Attorney General just said that he may take newspapers to task for publishing classified information. He is being rightfully lambasted for it.

Gonzales may be correct. There is legal precident for this. The Attorney General even noted laws passed in WWI and used in WWII. An American history survey will show that these sorts of trade offs occurred even early in the life of the nation. Look up the Alien and Sedition Acts for one example. In American history, civil liberties expand and contract in order to deal with threats to the nation.

But that misses the point. While legally viable, these techniques are not politically viable. Yes the government may be allowed to step on individual rights during wartime. (I emphasize "may" because I don't happen to like civil liberties infractions either.) Today, there doesn't seem to be much consensus that it is wartime. The war is on the news, but it doesn't effect most of us directly. As the administration initially wanted, everything is business as usual. These laws haven't been invoked within the lifetime of most Americans, certainly not within the lifetime of any baby boomers. It is just creating trouble the President doesn't need.

I really think the administration needs to shake up the cabinet level leadership. This current crop seems remarkably mediocre, mostly individuals like Gonzales who followed Bush up from Texas. Gen. Hayden might make a great head for the CIA, but I honestly don't think he is the man for the job considering his ties to recently exposed NSA programs. There are exceptions like Condi of course, so perhaps there is some hope.

Rings and Things

Wow thanks for the marital advice John.

Six days and counting...

Smoked Crack

Got his job back. Well that was the other guy, but you get the point. From LawDog:
During the height of the Katrina debacle, I stumbled across the hurricane contingency plan for New Orleans.

The city of New Orleans not only did not follow their own guidelines for what to do in case of a hit by a hurricane, they actively violated their own plan by doing things specifically warned against in the plan.
He goes on to mention that the plan specifically said (1) use those damn school busses that ended up under water (2) don't use the Superdome as a shelter. Oops. FEMA also held meetings with people like Ray Nagin to hammer local disaster planning home. Unfortunately they didn't seem to hammer hard enough.

I'd say to let the city of New Orleans rot, but I don't know whether that would actually help anyone. It seems that if you don't quarantine the area, the political sickness spreads. The idiots just jump across the city limit or the state line and screw the next place up. Case in point: all the transplants from Pennsylvania and Jersey moving into northern Delaware and turning the state Democrat.

What do you do? Help out the idiots anyway? Let them face the consequences of their political decisions? I wish I had the answer.

UPDATE: As John pointed out, Will Collier's piece is excellent. Collier points out that the election was a lose-lose for New Orleans. Nagin is an idiot, but his opponent Mitch Landrieu (also a Democrat) is as corrupt as they come. So they're screwed, at least until the next election cycle.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Cleaning House

Friday was errand day. Laundry, shopping, fixing stuff.

Saturday was for organizing. With the wedding coming and the lease on my place ending at the end of the month, I'm keeping myself busy getting rid of things I don't need. Amy's two bedroom is big, but it really isn't big enough for all of our stuff unless we get organized and keep it that way.

I'm not much of a materialist, but I am a paper packrat. I have bills, receipts, and class notes from college carefully filed away, but I no longer have room for them. All my bills from previous accounts are gone now. Well not gone but sitting in a big box marked "shred me". There is another large pile of note paper marked "recycle me".

At least I'm making progress.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Evolution of Dance

That is the title of comic Judson Laipply's six minute routine. It is pretty impressive when just consider that he's dancing for a solid six minutes. He does leave out the bunny hop, the achey breaky, and the electric slide to name a few.

Not Under Armour

Turns out that you probably don't want to wear Under Armour under your actual armor. The Marine Corps. recently banned it from use outside the wire in Iraq. Why? It's made from polyester. If you expose it to an open flame it will burn and melt. Onto your skin. Into the pores. Ouchie.

So if you might get hit with high explosives or incendiaries, it is a bad idea to wear on of these shirts. They should be ok for sporting events or if you only face mere bullets like most cops. Still there are other options which claim to be safer, like Potomac Field Gear's performance skivvies.

Potomac has a fire performance video on their site, but I remain unconvinced about their actual performance. The actual video shows cotton going up in smoke, cotton/polyester melting and burning, and then poly/nylon not really burning any more than their shirt does. The poly/nylon looks like it's burning alright, but actually on closer inspection it is the pants on the manequin that are actually burning off. They're melting holes in the poly/nylon on top, but the poly/nylon itself isn't really combusting.

So anyway, forewarned is forearmored.

The DaVinci Commode

Lawdog has an interesting take on the movie reaction. He's looking at protests across the pacific rim and has this to say:
So. Here we have a something-over-two-hour movie which deliberately runs counter to the accepted view of the Chief Religious Figure of a Major Religion -- and yet there are no bombs going off.

No riots. No burning cars.

Let's face it -- the Christians are letting us down here.

Heck, run some editorial cartoons involving Mahomet and the Muslims turn a couple of major European cities into something strongly resembling a frat house full of chimpanzees on methamphetamine.
I'm not going to go through a point by point refutation of the Da Vinci Code's poor understanding of both theology and church history. It's been overdone already and since you're already on the net, the answers are just a google away. My parents were watching a James Kennedy special, when I was home once. It was surprisingly good really. Instead of delving into church history, he refuted many of Dan Brown's claims (and showed clips of him claiming them) with direct bible citations. Instead simply giving the viewer a boring history lesson, his lesson was "this is what we believe, why we believe it, and why Dan Brown is wrong." It worked really well, so now I can't say all TV preachers are crap.

But I'm not surprised that the movie is getting bad reviews. Someone over that the Thinklings said that the book was good in a Santa Claus Meets the Martians kind of way. Not exactly high praise for it's literary content.

BTW, this post's title was stolen shamelessly from Faithmouse.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Wifely Wisdom and Motorcycles

Hmmm considering Amy is pretty much the only thing keeping me from buying a motorcycle maybe Joe Carter has it right.

Oh and on that topic it seems that scooters have gotten really popular with oil prices skyrocketing. It concerns me a little. It's true that the smaller displacement scooters don't really have the performance of motorcycles. I don't think you will find a 250cc scooter that could keep up with a Kawasaki EX250 in acceleration (0-60 in less than 6 seconds), top speed (100+ mph), cornering, or price ($3300 new) even though they have the same displacement. But even if they can't keep up, they are still going more than fast enough for someone to get hurt.

To date there has only been one real study of motorcycle accidents, the Hurt Report. Harry Hurt of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published his study in 1981, so it is a bit old. But most of the conclusions have to do with people instead of vehicles, so they're probably still valid.

Why am I bringing up the Hurt Report? Because the Hurt Report shows that typical motorcycle accidents occur a low speeds (<30 mph), on short trips near the home, and involved another vehicle. A car steers into the motorcycle's path because the driver doesn't see the motorcyclist. The accident is not the bikers fault although with training and experience, the biker may be able to avoid the accident.

Now when put all these together, you'll notice that these situations are just as applicable for scooter riders. We aren't talking high speed antics on the highway. We're talking moderate speeds on local roads with automobile traffic. Thankfully a bright colored scooter is more visible than a typical black cruiser. Unfortunately while lots of bikers wear their leather jackets, boots, and helmets whenever they ride (and most at least know they should), I can't remember seeing a scooter rider wearing a leather jacket, boots, or a full helmet. And that concerns me. I hope scooter riders don't turn into bikers without the vehicle performance or the responsibility.

Minister Alert

This time tomorrow John the Methodist may be an official minister candidate in the Methodist Church. Emphasis on "may." I'm sure he would appreciate any prayers on his behalf, including Baptist or even Catholic ones.

UPDATE: Hey he made it! Good praying everybody. Hopefully we can pray him through seminary before John or the UMC realize what they are getting into.


Alright last Friday Amybear and I went down to Virginia to get our marriage license. I think I've already mentioned it. Everything went fine, it cost us an hour of our time, $30 in cash, and none of our blood despite what you may have heard. In return a clerk at the County Courthouse have us a pile of papers on various subjects like changing Amy's name, getting copies of the official license once we're married, and picking an officiant to marry us with proper legal authority in the state of Virginia. They also gave us a big white envelope that said "Keep Sakes."

Now we expected this to contain something minorly sentimental and, above all, cheap. Maybe keychains. Maybe a certificate. Maybe an even cheaper piece of paper. Something like that. When we got to Amybear's parents place we opened it. It contained three things: a pamphlet on genetically transmitted disorders, a pamphlet on birth defects, and a card that said congratulations on getting married.

"Awww," we thought. "At least they got one out of three right."

Then we opened the card expecting to see sappy well wishing from the State. Nope. The inside of the card was a FAQ about HIV and AIDS awareness and transmission. Gee Virginia I didn't know you cared.

That "for lovers" slogan must be keeping the state up at night or something.

Wild Rides

The dirtbike to snowmobile conversion was cool and perhaps even slightly practical. The Baal and Hyanide tracked bikes are even cooler and probably even less practical.

I'd imagine these things would have pretty low ground pressure for their gross vehicle weight. I'd also imagine that their their gross vehicle weight must be pretty high considering all the track rollers, etc. And what happens if you shed the track in a corner? That and the center of gravity seems pretty high to me.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Why Golf?

The May 8th issue of Time Magazine has a great article from journalist Elizabeth Keenan who has been shooting for about 3 months. There is even a nice picture of her with her Lee Enfield. She makes two great statements in the thing. First, a statement from one of her shooting instructors:
It's got all the Zen you could want.
Good accurate shooting requires you to be in good shape and and to know yourself. You can't think too much or too little. It is just you, the target and the sights (or more importantly the front sight.) To drive this point home she mentions another zenlike sport.
Golf has targets just as small and distant—and makes people just as obsessive. The difference with shooting is that, well, you do it with guns. And bullets. Which were invented for one purpose: war.
I have also used the phrase "golf with explosions" to describe why I enjoy shooting so much. But that is equating shooting arts with sports. Granted they may be sports, but they are not just sports. While challenging and fun, most importantly shooting is a martial art in the truest sense. Unlike practicing swordplay (which I also dabble in) or Karate or most of other "martial" arts, shooting sports are still the arts of war. Not medieval warfare, but modern war. This makes them something especially useful to know.

Darth Vader Phone Home

This Robot Chicken segment referencing Star Wars is hilarious, but probably not safe for everyone's workplace.

UPDATE: This other RC Star Wars segment is also really funny (especially with Mark Hamill actually doing the voice of Luke Skywalker). Unlike the previous one, it is safe for work.

A Holiday Classic

I second Joe Cathey's recommendation of this fine Mother's Day short film.

Good Fiction or Good Literature?

Both the Thinklings and the Phantom Prof are reacting to a recent New York Times compilation of the Best Works of American Fiction in 25 Years. The list features the works of many authors but Philip Roth, Cormac McCarthy, and Don DeLillo are all mentioned multiple times. The winner was Toni Morrison with Beloved, one of Oprah's favorite books and least successful movies.

But where is the comedy? Like the Oscars, it seems that only dramatic fiction gets any respect. Comedy is very hard to write, yet nobody wins praise for it. What a shame. Instead everyone is praising what could be best called Pulitzer bait. You know, the literary equivalent of an Oliver Stone movie. The literature just seems so one note to me. Even Shakespeare wrote both comedies and tragedies.

Also the current critically popular literary trend is pretty bleak stuff. I can't imagine myself ever wanting to read Beloved. If I wanted to crawl into the head of an 18th century slave, I'll read the Slave Narratives. Maybe Beloved is a good book, but I've read enough reviews to know that I won't enjoy reading it. Which is why I read books these days.

UPDATE: My coworker Izzy had to read Beloved in high school. He didn't like it. I suspect it is the sort of novel only someone with a degree in English could love.

Monday, May 15, 2006

DCBA Aggregator

Ryan put together a summary page with the 5 latest links from each of the Delaware Conservative Blogger Alliance blogs. Man if we could harness college student procrastination as a viable fuel source, we could change the world.

Mostly Harmless Humor

What would happen if a large group of people all put on royal blue polo shirts and khaki pants and entered a New York City Best Buy? This.

Car Shopping

When we were down in DC this weekend doing wedding crap, we tried to help Amybear's parents out with some car shopping. We took a trip to their local Honda dealer and looked at a CR-V. We all hated the CR-V. Not enough engine. Weird controls. Truckish ride. My head was hitting the ceiling in the back. Oddly enough my brothers earlier model CR-V had fewer of these problems.

While they were touring the lot, I took the time to check out some other Honda makes and models. I tried to find a Fit so I could see if I fit, but alas either they aren't on the market yet or they are selling so fast they don't stay on the lot. Either way I had no luck.

The first car I tried on fit very well. I thought that they must have really made some improvements for the new Civic. The old one was way too small. Turns out I was actually sitting in an Accord. Oops, but that explained the roominess. The real new Civic wasn't nearly so nice. The dimensions were just a little awkward everywhere. I could physically fit, but everything was just slightly too small for my six foot frame. I'm sure it would fit Amybear very well though so if we ever have to replace her car, another Civic would probably be ok so long as I didn't have to drive it much.

The real surprise was when I slipped into an S2000. They're tiny. I expected the S2000 to fit like a Miata with not enough knee and head room. Boy was I wrong. It fit like a glove. Nice interior and everything was where it should be. The seats were wonderful too with just enough bolster to feel like you were planted, but not so much that they were intruding. Unfortunately I don't drive stick (but I'd be willing to learn) and I'm not going to spend over $30k for a normally aspirated four-cylinder with two seats and totally mediocre gas mileage (20/26 mpg). But if someone gave me an S2000 I certainly wouldn't turn it down.

How Not to Play the Political Game

Gee, the Presidents approval rating is at 30%. Why don't I join the dogpile on top of him? Yeah that'll win me some points with him and help me get my agenda passed.

Note to James Dobson, we live in a democracy. If the president doesn't have enough popular support, he can't do anything. If you actually want to get your agenda passed, now is the time distinguish yourself by helping him. Help him do something right for a change. Otherwise you are just further cementing yourself in the role of perennial political malcontent.

Old Warbirds

The Me 262 Project are a group of Americans dedicated to reproducing the first jet fighter to ever see combat. They're building two different versions of the Messerschmitt 262, a two seat trainer and a single seat fighter. One of the single seat aircraft has already been shipped to Germany and will be flown in the next ILA-Berlin airshow. It is the first 262 to fly over germany in 60 years.

Original 262s still exist although there are only a handful of them, but none of them are flying. The original aircraft was never very reliable and the loss of a single original would be too much of a loss. So reproductions are really the way to go here.

Their site tells the whole build story of the new aircraft. One of the interesting things is that they have been willing to make some design changes to increase reliability for the airshow circuit. The landing gear has been subtilely improved. More importantly, the plane's engines are modern General Electric J-85s instead of the original BMW and Jumo units. The original engines were notoriously problematic unlike the modern J-85. The shape of the engine nacelle exteriors will remain, including the original "bullet" pre-compressor but modern engines will be placed inside of them.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Flight 93

Several members of the Delaware Conservative Bloggers Alliance went to see the film Flight 93 yesterday. Unfortunately Amybear and I were out of town getting our marriage license so we couldn't make it. I haven't had time to parse all their reviews, but Ryan from Jokers to the Right has linked to their reviews on the DBCA blog.


Now here is a martial art I want to learn: Kabumei, the art of the sharpened grenade. Why? Because I want my martial art to be more extreme than your martial art.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Athiest Church Principles

Albert Mohler is telling the story of an athiest college professor Robert Jensen who has joined a St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Austin.
"Standing before the congregation of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas, I affirmed that I (1) endorsed the core principles in Christ's teaching; (2) intended to work to deepen my understanding and practice of the universal love at the heart of those principles; and (3) pledged to be a responsible member of the church and to the larger community."
Why did he become a member?
The cynical dimension of Jensen's reason for joining the church becomes immediately apparent when he explains that, "since a vast majority of Americans define a 'good American' as one who holds to some religious faith, clearly there's an advantage to being able to speak within a religious framework in the contemporary United States."
The pastor of the church, Jim Rigby, then goes on to talk about how by allowing Jensen to join he is building bridges and inviting new people in.

Honestly I don't know how to react. Mohler is angry. I'm just sad. I'm really ok with inviting Jensen into the pews. I would encourage him to attend his church regularly. But membership should involve a confession of faith that isn't:
"I don't believe Jesus Christ was the son of a God that I don't believe in, nor do I believe Jesus rose from the dead to ascend to a heaven that I don't believe exists."
What has become of the faith in this country? On one side we have fundamentalists without love. On the other side we have the mainliners without any sense. I pray that we find a middle road soon before it is too late.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Too Casual on Casual Day

I have tomorrow off. Amy and I are going to Virginia to get our marriage license and do wedding crap. I've gotten to the point where it is wedding "crap" now.

Anyway this means I'm wearing my casual day duds which consist of jeans, a collared short-sleeve shirt, and black timberlands. I didn't bother to shave today or yesterday. I also need a haircut. But that's enough about me.

So I'm in the bathroom at work. Into the urinal beside me pulls up a contractor installing furniture in the building next door. He's a blue collar guy with a pretty ruddy complexion. He starts talking to me like I am also a contractor installing furniture in my compound. "Hey buddy why do we have to pull furniture out of the truck in todays miserable weather. Should-a done it yesterday if we'd known. This job isn't in even our contract so you better believe they'll be paying extra..."

Now I don't really care about the intricacies of this guys contract dispute. More importantly, I'm in mid-stream here. Don't talk to me while I'm doing my business. Don't talk to me while you're doing your business, especially when you're leaning on top of the urinal for support. The man's is devoid of proper urinal etiquette. But what can I do? I'm just uh-huh-ing and yeah-don't-that-beat-all-ing while I look around like cornered dog. Finally I escape and realized that I really have to at least start shaving on casual days.

Shooting for Women

Kathy Jackson is a female shooter who has a great website for other female shooters (and us guys too). She gives a lot of good advice and answers some of the frequently asked questions on gun forums like "how can I get my wife to shoot more?" (get her involved and be respectful) and "what kind of gun should I buy for my wife?" (the one she wants even if it's none at all). She also addresses important concerns like gun ownership in a household with children and the Christian implications of firearms ownership. It's worth a read. Just glancing at a few articles it looks like I didn't totally screw up my trips to the range with Amy.

Hey Hey Hey Goodbye

Surprisingly it was bland rocker Chris Daughtry who was kicked off American Idol last night, not Katherine McPhee. Quite the shocker. I'm betting Taylor Hicks will go all the way because his voice is good, but his dancing isn't.

Reading about Writers

I like reading writers blogs. They obviously write well which makes for a good read. They often write about writing which makes it educational. They also blog frequently because blogging is an act of procrastinatation that keeps them from doing what they should be doing.

John Scalzi actually has a couple of blogs. One is in the blogroll, but he has started a Wednessday interview segment on the other. Yesterday's debut of the article is an interview with Chris Roberson, a sci-fi writer who's new novel Paragaea just came out. Roberson talks about being a writer and an editor, his general writing technique, and marketing himself. Part of his marketing technique is very interesting because the Paragaea website contains a free pre-quel to his current book. I will probably indulge myself of it shortly.

I like getting free stuff and I often have a hard time starting on new authors because frankly there are a lot of crappy writers out there. But I should read more and in order to do that I have to move to new authors. Free books help me do this by only requiring me to invest my time not my money.

Snow Biking

The SnoxCycle is a kit to turn a standard dirtbike into a very non-standard snowbike. Essentially it swaps the front tire out for a ski and the rear tire out for a track. That gives you better traction and control in the snow and only adds 24 pounds to the bike (net). It's sort of like the motorcycle equivalent to Mattracks.

I can't say that it is a great idea, but it is interesting and well engineered one. The real issue is the price: almost $3000. I haven't price snowmobiles, but I'm betting that is a hefty hunk of change towards one. I bet the snoxcycle hybrid won't best a dedicated vehicle either.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Energy Perspectives

That is the title of Department of Energy PDF a coworker pointed me to. It covers various topics that are of national interest right now like historical consumption of various energy resources like coal, natural gas, oil, and petroleum.

One interesting chart is Figure 2, which shows the energy consumption per person in the US. The interesting part is that since 1970 the chart has essentially been flat. However energy consumption is increasing. From this I can only conclude that increased demand for energy in the US is not because people are demanding more and more, it is largely because of population growth.

Scent and Sexuality

Kim du Toit is discussing new research into how people with different sexual preferences react to scent. The long and short of it is that the scientists monitored brain activity in straight men, straight women, and lesbians while they smelled male and female hormones. The straight men reacted to the female hormones. The straight women reacted to the male hormones. The lesbians didn't react to either one.

Like most research this raises a lot of questions like can this stimulus response be learned (most likely yes). The discussion over there is mostly about the political ramifications, but it also has some interesting analysis, like this one:
the brain loves to rewire, reorganize, and reprioritize. So studying it now may tell you nothing about what it looked like 5 or 10 years ago. THe fact that in lesbians neither smell actually gets to their sexual arousal center tells me that it sure as heck sounds like there’s a psychological block there preventing it from going there.

Things that go to your hypothalamus can only get there through the amygdala, which is the emotional center. If the amygdala doesn’t want to send it there, it’ll stay in the ‘scent area’.

So what they should do now is study things at the amygdalar and scent cortex level. Is it even getting to the amygdala (this would fit their theory) or is it getting to the amygdala but not moving on?


So Amy and I watched it last night. Sort of. I was doing laundry and she was playing her massive multiplayer RPG. But we were in the same room with it. I'm betting this will be the last week for Katherine McPhee. Which is sad because I actually like Kat. Taylor can sing but can't actually perform on stage. Chris "Flashy Lights" Daughtry is predictable and frankly not that talented vocally. Elliot is generally lacking in personality. Which leave pretty Kat McPhee who is usually easy on the eyes and often easy on the ears.

Unfortunately Katherine's performances yesterday were pretty lack luster and, unlike Taylor Hicks, I don't think she has the fan support to get away with it. Her only hope is that people are sick of Elliot. Chances are she'll just be out next week anyway though.

Whacking Day

"...And the Lord said, whack ye all the serpents which crawl on their bellies and thy town shall be a beacon unto others."

Today marks the founding of the city of Springfield in the state of *cough cough achoo* by Jebediah Springfield in 1775. Also on this date, Benedict Arnold and Ethan Allen took Fort Ticonderoga. This was back when Arnold wasn't a traitor and Ethan Allen wasn't making overpriced furniture. Representatives of the 13 colonies were also meeting in Philadelphia to raise the Continental Army under George Washington.

Via Paul Smith.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Winning the War

Michelle Malkin and Captain's Quarters are covering the latest inside information coming out of Al Qaeda in Iraq. There are several revelations:
  • Al Qaeda in Iraq doesn't think that they are capable of mounting a serious threat to the government above the level of a "daily annoyance."
  • Their "daily annoyances" are often seen as cowardly and are eroding their Sunni support.
  • AQ insurgents "not only do not have any organization or military capabilities, but also resist coordination."
  • "The only effect that AQ has made is to convince the media -- presumably the American media -- that the situation cannot be controlled, despite their acknowledgement that they represent nothing more than a nuisance."
  • "The Americans are winning the media war in Iraq" by advancing Iraqi national government and by getting muslim support in the Mosques.
  • The insurgents have finally run low on ammunition, and AQ cannot resupply them in Baghdad.
One of the big revelations is in their troop numbers at the end of the report. AQ only has about 100 insurgents in Baghdad. This explains the shift from suicide attacks, they no longer have the necessary manpower to spare.

David Blaine

I didn't watch it. Amy and I came home from our last premarital counseling session and shopping and then changed the channel. Evidentally he didn't succeed in breaking the world record for breath holding:
Krack, who is also a free-diving expert, said Blaine was disappointed he didn't set a new record. The stuntman was suffering from extreme fatigue, but did not appear to have sustained any brain damage, Krack said.
Perhaps any new brain damage? I saw one of David Blaine's street magic shows on TV. It was interesting but not amazing. Most of his work since then has been more like ascetic performance art than creating innovative illusions.

Oh and shopping was a mixed bag. I had no luck finding a good straw hat but Amybear did get her mom a Mothers Day present and herself a wireless networking card. We installed it last night and yes it turns out that toshiba's stock wireless cards are crap because the new one works perfectly.

Monday, May 08, 2006

R&D Well Spent

The vending machine at work has devil's food twinkies. What a grand innovation! Kids today live in a wonderful age. Which is probably why they're all so fat.

When I was in school my mother used to buy low-fat low-sugar health twinkies. No I'm not kidding. Such things did exist. They probably still do in some vile Hostess factory outlet somewhere. She did this because while I was badly underweight through my formative years, both my parents were not.

The diet snack cakes were pretty awful. The only thing a twinkie has going for it is the sin content. Sugar! Cream! Together! Woo Hoo! Low-fat and low-suger meant it that the food nazis had sucked out the Twinkie the Kid's fun-loving cowboy soul and left him a mere husk of himself only fit for some dietary form of Certified Public Accountancy.


I've criticized some of the Bush Administration's appointments before (like the abominable Harriet Myers). But I'm with Kim Priestap, the worst anyone is saying about Michael Hayden is that he's in the military. Well at least he's in the Air Force which counts as the military unless you're a Ranger or in the Marines.

Anyway, the whole "military control of civilian intelligence" horror scenario just doesn't work for me. When you make even a passing glance at a list of CIA directors, you'll notice several of them have been in the military although most have been Army or Navy. Unfortunately it seems to work for the Democrats and more than a few Republicans.

Aussies Do It Again

Ford has finally realized that the Crown Vic is done. The platform is so old it is still grandfathered by safety legislation written to fix the gas tank problems on the Pinto. The interesting thing is that Ford seems to be turning towards their Australian division for a replacement: the Ford Falcon. GM did something similar when they imported their Aussie Holden division's Monaro as the GTO.

If you want to see what we may not be missing for much longer, Car and Driver did a piece on the Turbocharger Inline 6 version of the Falcon a couple of years ago. They have a more recent article looking at the complete Aussie Ford lineup.

A lot of people have been badmouthing Ford lately. I think they are currently in better financial shape than GM. GM has some deep seated brand issues especially with Buick. I don't think the Ford/Lincoln/Mercury brands are as troubled. The General also has had some real trouble with new models not meeting expectations. Ford's US models line has the problem that they are just old. There are new versions of the Ranger and the Focus on the international market. But they're out there, not in the US. I think Ford has started to learn it's lesson with the success of the Fusion/Milan that are based on Mazda's 6 platform.

Turnabout is Fair Play...

Finally somebody said it:
Dear Joe,
My husband can never remember to put the lid back down on the toilet. How can I fix this problem?

Dear A.,
There are a few things you could do: 1) Install a urinal for him so that you won’t have to worry about it, 2) Use superglue to seal the seat in the down position, 3) Realize that maybe he would appreciate if you would put the seat up for him every once in awhile.

The Gospel of Myspace

I would like to join in with Locusts and Honey in thanking the Lord that he did not write the Gospels through the medium of sixteen year-old online diarist.
December 25

I wanted to get him the perfect thing for his birthday, so I asked Matthew and he said, well, myrrh is good, but then Luke said, oh please, everyone always gives him myrrh, I bet he wishes those wise men had brought scented candles, some imported marmalade, and a nice box of notecards...
And that's just a taste.

Ocho de Mayo

Did you know it's VE day? Remember to thank a veteran, preferably an older one. Hell, thank anyone older than 70 because chances are they were winning the war on the homefront at the time.

Winning the war on the homefront... how things have changed in 61 years.

Via Tamara.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Seis de Mayo

Well I hope everyone isn't too hung over from drinking cheap Mexican beer last night. Ah Corona, the budweiser of Mexico...

Amy's birthday was also yesterday so I treated her by switching all my computer equipment from my place over to hers, including the cable modem. Hence the no blogging yesterday as everything was in transit. But a couple of calls to Comcast later and she's a very happy camper.

Of course this has brought about yet another strain on our engagement. We have one computer with internet access and two total computer addicts. We think this one can be solved with counseling, prayer, and a router from Best Buy.

UPDATE: I picked up a Linksys 4 port wireless router at Best Buy on Sunday afternoon. Amy had a gift card from her birthday that covered most of it. Turns out this unit was actually cheaper than the wired-only option so we got something for nothing. The wired side of the house (my computers) are covered, but Amy's laptop has a really crappy on-board wireless unit. It's giving us some trouble. Currently she's just running it plugged in anyway which is fine.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Furry Bikes

I know, it sounds like some sort of anime thing that isn't safe for work. Nope. Somebody decided that rather than sand, putty, and repaint his Kawasaki Ninja 250, he would just wrap it in a heavy animal print fabric. Weird, but cheap.

The Ninja 250 is a pretty nice bike by the way. Small displacement so it's good for beginners, but it redlines at 14,000 RPM so it has enough power to be safe at highway speeds (unlike most other 250cc bikes). It's cheap to purchase, maintain, feed, and insure. It turns on a dime and it's fairly comfortable for longer trips.

The disadvantages are that it's carburated so it doesn't like cold mornings, the stock suspension sucks, and they haven't updated the bike's looks since 1989.

But don't worry Amybear, I won't be buying one. I'll just drool over pictures upon occasion.

Reaction Time

This simple game from King of Fools has me testing my reaction time. So far I'm just a Bobbing Bobcat. Enjoy wasting valuable time.

Update: Hey I made Rocketing Rabbit. Oh and Justin, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Spring has Sprung

You know how you can tell? The number of cops willing to do traffic duty. I must have driven through 3 speed traps this morning. You'd never see that many cops willing to get out of their cruisers on a blustery March morning. But May? They're out with their Smokey the Bear hats and the short uniform sleeves that probably show off their tattoos.

National Day of Prayer

Today is the National Day of Prayer so on your knees! A friend emailed me this prayer by Henry Blackaby, this years honorary Chairman of the event:
Oh Heavenly Father,

You have made Yourself known to us as a nation by Your mighty works throughout our history. From the beginning, You have been with us through many wars and conflicts; Your right arm has saved us. We have been amazingly and graciously blessed.

Today, we confess our sin of not responding to Your right to rule in our lives and our nation. Too often we have despised and rejected Your will while imposing our own, and we are now facing the consequences of our disobedience. Draw us back to Yourself that we may return to Your ways once again. Without You we can do nothing. You have promised that if we honor You, You will once again honor this great nation.

This is our fervent prayer. For Your honor and glory we pray, Amen.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Bagged Lettuce

Hmmm maybe Amy and I will be switching to buying heads of lettuce instead of bags. From Anna Venger:
The reporter was discussing with various health specialists and with lettuce growers several outbreaks of E. coli which seemed to be connected to bagged lettuce, of all things.

There were no definitive answers. Nonetheless, it might be wise to follow their suggestions. Wash bagged lettuce even if it says "pre-washed; ready to eat" on the packaging, and don't use it past its expiration date as E. coli tends to grow more rapidly the more decayed the food becomes.
I don't think that lettuce in bags is insufficiently washed but the expiration date may play a factor. The chopped and processed lettuce in most grocery store bags has a lot more surface area than larger leaves from heads of lettuce. That increases the rate of spoilage pretty quickly. That the plastic bags tend to hold in moisture and create a lovely damp environment for micro-organisms to grow doesn't hurt either. From my experience heads of lettuce tend to wilt and become unappetizing before they get bad for you. Bags of lettuce tend to spoil around the edges and decay.

I have to wonder if people just aren't keeping track of things enough. Amy and I have thrown out salad on a regular basis when we've lost confidence in it. And keep in mind that once you've opened a food product, the expiration date on the side has no bearing on its edibility. That is a sell-by date when the jar/can/drum is sealed, not a use by date after it has been opened.

I don't expect much adverse impact for me even if lettuce drops out of fashion. I get most of my vitamins in concentrated pill form. According to 1960s futurists it's how we should all be eating in the 21st century.

Bombardier Beetle Pt 2

A while back I mentioned the guy with more money than sense who put a jet engine in his VW New Beetle. Now I'm mentioning the video of the car in "action." By action, I mean spewing huge amounts of flame and creating horrible noise. I do not mean driving it on a road under jet power cause that would be illegal. I'm sure the owner would never dream of doing that.

Tuesday Shopping

Amybear and I started prepping for the honeymoon yesterday. I burn like crazy (dang Scottish blood) so I was looking for cool collared shirts and a nice brimmed straw hat. Amybear was also looking for a good hat. I had good luck with shirts at JCPenney's. She found something pretty good at Penney's as well and bought another one at Macy's with a more modest brim. I had no joy on the hat search. About all I figured out was that Panamas and Fedoras look ok, but anything cowboyish makes me look like a total dork. So far this one from Cabelas is still the frontrunner, but I just wish I could try one on.

Oh and we stopped off at build-a-bear so that we could dress our Monkey and Bunny appropriately for the wedding.

The CAFE Suit

So we have 9 states and 2 cities are suing the Bush Administration for not raising CAFE standards enough on SUVs. Who is involved?
  • California Attorney General Bill Lockyer (Democrat)
  • Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (Democrat)
  • Maine Attorney General G. Steven Rowe (Democrat)
  • Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas Reilly (Democrat)
  • New Jersey Attorney General Zulima Farber (Democrat)
  • New Mexico Attorney General Patricia Madrid (Democrat)
  • New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer (Democrat)
  • Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers (Democrat)
  • Rhode IslandAttorney General Patrick Lynch (Democrat)
  • Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrell (Democrat)
  • New York City Corporate Counsel (probably Democrat)
  • Washington DC Attorney General Robert J. Spagnoletti (Democrat)
Sensing the party affiliation? Uh huh.

The Federal response to this will hopefully be "frivolous lawsuit please dismiss". US auto manufacturers are in serious trouble right now. Placing big financial demands on them to design new vehicles that the marketplace doesn't necessarily want is stupid. More importantly, gas prices are doing far more for increasing demand for fuel efficient vehicles that any of this supply side crap ever did.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Oil Costs

Amid all the accusations of gouging, Wizbang led me to this article with actual numbers:
Based upon a $3.00 gallon of gasoline, the average break-down is as follows.
Gasoline Retailer$.01 per gallon
Oil Company$.08 per gallon
Refining$.29 per gallon
Marketing/Distribution$.32 per gallon
Taxes$.59 per gallon
Cost of Crude (delivered)$1.71 per gallon
What does this tell you? Well first stop yelling at your gas station attendant. He ain't making any money selling you gas. That's why the sodas and cigarettes cost so much in the first place.

Secondly, most if not all of the money is made before the oil ever gets to these shores. High global crude prices benefit the oil producers not the oil consumers and that is true even among corporations. Our lack of new refinery capacity isn't just because of environmental policies that hamstring refiners. It is also because there isn't much money in refining.

Lastly, a lot of people are using numbers like these to say that oil companies don't make any money. It's not exactly true. Stateside they're only making 8 cents per gallon, but the oil companies are also making some money pulling the crude out of the ground in foriegn lands. Since the expense of extracting crude from the ground doesn't change much, you can bet they're making a good living over there. That money they make needs to be balanced with expenses like exploration for new drilling of course.

That price data is good, but incomplete. You need to look at the whole price chain from when the oil comes out of the ground to when it gets burned in your car. Just looking at the prices stateside doesn't mean you aren't getting screwed by a faceless corporation (or that you are).

Free Comic Book Day

Don't forget it is Saturday. I'm sure I'll be hitting Captain Blue Hen at some point, if I can get out from under the almost in-laws.

UPDATE: I try to attend these sorts of things, but frankly I'm not into comics that much right now. I was starting to get into a company called CrossGen who made comics based on the Big Fat Fantasy style of literature. But they went under. My recent purchases have mostly been graphic novels and trade paperbacks of known excellence (like Hush Jim Lee's stint on Batman) with some manga thrown in. But none of those have been that recent. Truth be told, Amy has probably bought more comics (mostly manga) than I have in the past few months.

Oh but if you want a really good comic, I recommend Dark Horse's Conan. Quite excellent and based largely on Robert E. Howard's writings.

Monday, May 01, 2006


Everyone at work keep reminding me that this time next month I'll be married. I can't help but wonder why. Do they expect me to jump up, yell "Holy crap your right!" and flee the state?

UPDATE: A coworker slyly remarked that since I live across state lines I do technically flee the state every night.

Amy and I aren't having cold feet. We got over any cold feet we had years ago. Right now we're just sick of the planning and preparations. We just want to be married already. I offered to elope, but no. I should have offered louder while her dad was balancing her parents' checkbook. ;)

Bashing McCain

Unsettling quote number one:
"He [Michael Graham] also mentioned my abridgement of First Amendment rights, i.e. talking about campaign finance reform....I know that money corrupts....I would rather have a clean government than one where quote First Amendment rights are being respected, that has become corrupt. If I had my choice, I'd rather have the clean government."
If you abridge free speach rights, especially political free speech rights, then you already have a government who is corrupt. Free political speech is the guarrantee that the people can throw off corruption from their political officials.

Talking about Oil

Jon and McQ are dealing with misunderstandings about oil economics. Jon takes Tim Russert to task for not understanding basic laws of supply and demand.
MR. RUSSERT: Mr. Secretary, if, if demand is up but supply is down, why are the profits so high?

MR. BODMAN: For that reason.
Yes if supply drops while demand remains high, then prices go up. Duh. See every economics textbook ever for graphs.

As McQ points out, this supply shortage isn't going to just disappear.
Supply is so tight - because we are at max capacity - that any hint of trouble or problems in production will cause pricing to rise in the futures markets and thus at the pump...

But the main point to take away from all of this is this is the present pricing is here to stay and may go higher ... much higher. All the whining, crying, complaining... in the world aren't going to change that.
Maybe. I don't see this problem disappearing in the next year or two. But I think it is exceedingly unlikely that we will be dealing with this supply problem and accompanying price volatility for the next decade. I believe this to be the case for a few reasons.

First, price volatility can be a good thing for investing and day trading, but oil is a feedstock for most of our economy. Economies run on stability. Sudden unexpected bursts of nationwide inflation are not a good thing. The outcry for more stability from big oil's customers across the board will be loud and industries like to listen to their customers. Market forces or if necessary government action will com into play.

Two, the oil companies are current maximizing their profits by making more money per barrel. However profit is derived from the price multiplied by the amount sold. If the price gets too high (or supply too low), industry profits will drop and they don't want that. So I expect oil industry exploration to increase because shortages are bad for everyone, not just the consumer.

Three, the whole reason we went abroad for oil production is that the US capacity peaked. Now foreign capacity is peaking and we are having to look not at new countries but at new sources and supplements for oil. That means agricultural production of bio-diesel or ethanol. That hopefully means processing the heck out of our waste products for similar bio-fuels. It will also mean exploring new forms of soil for oil. Colorado is full of oil shales that are now becoming profitable to process. Canada is full of similar oil sands. I'm expecting US oil production to increase a lot by the end of the decade because these new domestic sources for oil are going to be under a lot economic and political pressure.

So yes in the short order we're a little screwed. Maybe you can buy a motorcycle. But I don't expect the current problems to continue forever.