Monday, July 31, 2006

Politics: Asymmetric Warfare

Michelle Malkin has this to say about Israeli warning leaflets:
Now, someone show me the warning leaflets Hezbollah dropped on all the cities in Israel it has lobbed missiles and rockets at, okay?

When has Hezbollah or any jihadi group dropped warning flyers before they commit their routine acts of intentional mass murder and terrorism against civilians?
Forget about leaflets they are dropping on Israel. What about evidence of them warning their fellow Lebanese that they are about to attract massive amounts of Israeli firepower to their neighborhoods?

Reviews: The Blue Rocks and Pirates 2

Amy and I spent Friday night at a church outing to the Wilmington Blue Rocks with about 270 other people from the congregation. For those not in Delaware, the Blue Rocks are a full-season Class-A minor league baseball team affiliated with the Boston Red Sox (formerly affiliated with the Kansas City Royals but they got traded). Amy and I love going to Blue Rocks games. I like the small park feel of Frawley Stadium. Amy likes watching Mr. Celery and now has a Property of Mr Celery t-shirt to show for it.

Friday night's game against the Kingston Indians was especially good. The Blue Rocks were out to an early 2-0 nothing lead thanks largely to an error by Kingston's third baseman. But the tide quickly shifted, an error by the Blue Rocks third baseman saw that lead erode away. Kingston slowly nibbled their way ahead. By the bottom of the ninth, the Rocks were down by two. But the home team pulled ahead on the last play of the game to squeak out a victory. And then there were fireworks. Good times.

Saturday we got work done. Literally for Amy since she had to work 3 hours in the morning. I slept in and then did chores.

We stopped by Jakes for dinner. The burgers were good and, more importantly, reasonably priced. While Red Robin and the Charcoal Pit also have good burgers and shakes, Jakes gives them to you at a superior price. Although the Charcoal Pit's triple-thick black-and-white is still the king of shakes in my mind.

We went from there to the F&G on mainstreet and finally saw Pirates. It was ok. Not great. But ok to good. The middle of the movie is just paced poorly. I remember having similar concerns with the first one. Keira Knightly was lovely and acted well, but her character was unevenly written. I think we'll wait for the rental on the third.

UPDATE: Oops, I got my farm systems backwards. The Blue Rocks are in the Carolina league which was High-A ball until the destinctions were dropped in 2002. Wikipedia has a good article on this. For comparison, the nearby Aberdeen Ironbirds are a short-season A team.

Guns: Xtrema2

This video may be shilling for berettas semi-automatic shotgun, but it contains some pretty impressive shooting nonetheless.

Unfortunately while Tim Bradley really can shoot that well with an Xtrema2 (although they probably editted out any misses), part of the reason is that he shoots so damn much. Practice, practice, practice. He isn't kidding when he says he shoots more in a day than many people do in a year.

You can buy the hardware, but you can't buy the software. The programming takes work and more work. Fortunately shooting clays is pretty fun, so it isn't very hard work.

Guns: Buying the First One

Armed Liberal at Winds of Change has good advice for wannabe new shooters: Think about it first.

I agree. A gun should not be an impulse buy. It is a deadly weapon that requires a proper mindset towards safety and training. Otherwise it can be as bit a threat to you as any burglar or terrorist.

Guns need to be stored properly so that strangers and especially children can't get to them easily. Firearms safety is something you learn and must practice. I know if I got to long between range visits the gun safety part of my brain gets a bit sluggish too.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Fun: Ebertisms

I find Roger Eberts movie reviews to be pretty hit or miss. Sometimes he gets it. Often he does not. But that doesn't mean that his glossary of movie terms (and a larger glossary on hosted by the Sun Times) isn't worth a read if you have nothing better to do.

Like his reviews, the glossary is hit or miss. Unlike the reviews, this is because the individual entries aren't usually written by Roger Ebert. Some examples:

Chamber Music: While the cop chambering a round before going to battle the bad guys is cliche, many armies and police forces do actually require a pistol to be carried with an empty chamber. This is to prevent accidental discharges in older weapons that lacked modern safeties. Since many places still have these weapons in their inventories, the training remains.

Clothes Make the Imposter: Actually, even in most secure locations, all you need to do is look like you fit in and people will assume you do. This is why most security training emphasized questioning people you don't recognize.

Doing Radio and Emergency Tour Guide: In real life, people say stupid things that are obvious all the time. Bill Engvall's "Here's Your Sign" comedy bit is all about that phenomenon.

I'm sure there are more, but I'm only up to "E" in the Sun Time glossary.

God & Politics: Iowa Prison Ministries

A federal judge in Iowa not only struck down prison's support of Prison Fellowship Ministry. Not only that but he fined the ministry $1.7 million dollars. Why? Because despite the fact that the ministry is positive and supported by the prison systems and is completely non-coercive (with unrefuted and irrefutable evidence and witnesses introduced in court to support this), the judge wanted to fine them. It really doesn't come down to anything else.

UPDATE: Michael the Leveller has two long comments, hopefully they won't have pull a disappearing act because of haloscan. Bob effectively responded to his first, but I'd like to discuss to his second. Michael's argument is essentially:
  • You can't give federal money to religious causes because it is essentially robbing people (via taxation) to support religious groups they themselves oppose.
  • Association religious groups so closely to the federal government compromises their objectivity and leads to bad things, much like the court Prophets of Isreal.
Michael is right on both counts of course, but he unfortunately doesn't know how right he is.

In the first point, the full extent of the truth is that you're robbing people anyway. You rob people through taxation and give them to secular programs that don't work (~75% recidivism rates). You rob people through taxation and give them to a religious programs they don't like that do work (~25% recidivism rate). But at the end of the day you're still robbing people. This is the problem with social spending and centralized government.

On the second point, the full extent of the truth is that federal dollars compromise both secular and religious groups alike. You end up with a biased program either way. Just because a program is secular doesn't make this phenomenon right. It still isn't. So why should we put up with it from either a secular or religious organization.

The correct answer of course is to stop robbing people at all. Stop giving them that tainted federal money. Give that money back to the citizens in tax breaks, open up the prisons as much as possible to all applicable outside organizations, and allow the citizens to support the organizations of their choice directly through charitable giving. But of course no one will consider that option. Instead we can choose between robbing from people and giving it to religion or robbing from people and wasting it outright. Given that choice a lot of people are going to come down for religion, because at least you get something for your money.

God Fun: Jesus & Burritos

Ask a silly question get some serious answers.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Politics: Extra! Extra! Conservative Loves America!

Ben Stein is thankful for being an American. When Polish Jews from his family were being beaten to death by anti-semites in post-war Poland, he was driving his dad's Impala trying to pick up girls (and failing miserably). Who does he have to thank?
God bless this glorious American military, every wife, every child, every parent, and endless prayers for them to return home safe, mission accomplished. God bless them every moment of every day for keeping safe this America, inside of which we live as powerfully as we live in our skin. This has to be the central fact of our lives: gratitude for the men and women who make this great life possible, who wear the uniform and cover it with glory.

Oh and about Poland. One of the sad facts about World War II is that while the Nazis get all the credit for being rabid anti-semites, the Russians have never been much better. And after the war, the Russians controlled vast swathes of Eastern Europe filled with Jews. Fortunately the Russians aren't as efficient as the Germans. A lot of the Jews were able to emigrate to Isreal or simply concealed their racial identities.

Fun: What is the Trouble with Imports?

Answer: They have to be imported. 4700 Mazdas, most of them 3s and CX-7s, were onboard the cargoship Cougar Ace when it capsized off the coast of Alaska. The cars were strapped down, but the ship has a massive (60 degree) portside list. Hope they had insurance.

Fun: The Hello-Kitty-Mobile

I think I've found Amybear's perfect car. Underneath all that pink paint is a mitsubishi "i" kei car, a japanese microcar with a 64 horsepower turbocharged 660cc three cylinder. It's not exactly a sports car, but it is certainly amusing. More pictures of the Kitty kei are here.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Reviews: BK Stackers

I needed a little more meat for my lunch today so I hitched a ride to Burger King and tried one of their stacker sandwiches. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Unlike their Chicken Fries, the stackers are not cheap. Also unlike the Chicken fries they are worth the price. The burgers seem to use the larger whopper-sized patties and you get a wonderfully unhealthy amount of bacon and cheese. Which is good because starting at two bucks and change for a double stacker, they need to offer me more than one of McDonald's double cheeseburgers from the dollar menu.

I can't say the same for the BK double croissandwich though. Paying an additional buck for such a small amount of bacon was not worth it. Live and learn.

God: The Power of Proverbs

From Steve over at Lamponian Wisdom:
So, I woke up around 4 AM this morning and couldn't get back to sleep. I started perusing through Proverbs and found a healthy admonition to bloggers everywhere, "A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions." (Proverbs 18:2). Here's hoping this blog does not become a platform for a fool.
Ditto that sentiment.

My minister liked to suggest that instead of reading horoscopes or Dear Abby, we should try to read a chapter of Proverbs a day. Since there are 31 chapters, that works out to a simple monthly schedule. I have to start doing that again.

Steve was my small group leader for several years by the way. He's just starting this whole blogging thing, but I hope he continues.

Politics: Showing Your Support

The Jewish Federation of Delaware is holding a pro-Israel rally at the Jewish Community Center on Garden of Eden Rd in Wilmington. That's just off Rt 202 close to the Circuit City. The event starts at 7pm.

Unfortunately, I don't think Amy and I will be going. My schedule makes it especially hard to get anywhere near wilmington before 8pm on a weekday. But we'll be there in spirit.

Via Hube at Colossus of Rhodey.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Politics: Can't We All Just Get Along?

Dr. Helen is asking questions and giving solutions to a problem that really impacts me. How do you keep differences in political orientation from tearing families apart? Can't we just have a peaceful thanksgiving?

My family is pretty conservative. We have differences of opinion on things, but generally we agree. Except my sister and brother in law who are moderate to liberal on just about everything. When you figure in that they're long distance and the rest of us are all local, you could say that our relationship is kind of strained.

But I love my sister, I just can't talk to her for more than a few minutes without getting into a fight. And that isn't fun for either of us.

Fun: Odds and Ends

Several internet phenomenon have crossed my nerdar lately. One, check out Chad Vader, Dark Day Manager of Sith. It definitely has its moments. "Yes, my master." "Just call me Randy, Chad."

One a more geological note, there is a really big hole in Mirna (Mirnyy on Google Maps), Russia. No it has nothing to do with porn, you sicko. It is a huge diamond mine 1.25 km wide by half a kilometer deep. For those of us who use English units, that's a lot of football fields. The open pit is so large that it effects airflow and they have to route air traffic around it. It must do interesting things with weather as well. Impressive.

Reviews: Sunday CDs

Amy and I picked up a three of CDs at Best Buy on Sunday. We hit the low price rack for U2's How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, and KT Tunstall's Eye to the Telescope. Most of them were $10 which suited me just fine.

To handle them in reverse order, our reaction to KT Tunstall's album was unanimous. It is almost entirely mediocre. Black Horse and a Cherry Tree is the only good song and you can hear it on the radio for free. We thought the album might be nice because BH&CT was such a catchy number, but the rest of the songs are decidedly inferior.

I've never really listened to Pink Floyd. I picked their most famous album after The Wall which I've heard isn't their best work. It was ok. I'm not going to bash Floyd, but it just didn't quite do it for me. I may pick up Piper at the Gates of Dawn later to give them another try.

The U2 album is great of course. It has some good rock numbers, some good slower stuff, and a lot Christian themes interwoven throughout. It is most interesting because it is almost like a Christian Rock album from another dimension. Catholic Rock perhaps? I wonder, does Ireland count as another dimension? Maybe for WASPs like me.

An aside, what is the proper name for a group of CDs? Lets see a pride of lions... A gaggle of geese... A mess of CDs? Looking at the back seat of my car, it sounds about right.

Monday, July 24, 2006

The Family Stone

One of M. Night Shamalamadingdong's problems is marketing. Signs wasn't a movie about aliens. It is a movie about faith. The Village wasn't a horror movie. Lady in the Water isn't either by all accounts. People think his movies are about plot twists when in reality the plot twists are what happen when he's discussing deeper themes. The plot twists because he reveals something deeper beneath what you've been seeing all along.

But I digress.

Amy and I rented two films this weekend, The Family Stone and Ultraviolet. Ultraviolet is by Equilibrium director Kurt Wimmer and it shows. The action is good, but the plot doesn't work very well. It just moves from one action set-piece to the next. The only reason to see this movie is watching Milla Jovovich wear tight clothes and kick ass. Frankly that was a good enough reason for me.

The Family Stone isn't what it appears to be. Based on marketing, we thought it was a romantic comedy with an impressive cast. It turned out to have a great cast with little romantic comedy in sight. Amy was really annoyed. I wasn't annoyed. I was in the next room surfing the internet and blogging about fajitas, because I realized I hated the film within fifteen minutes.

How did I know? Well the members of the Stone family were all stereotypes. Largely liberal stereotypes. There was the pothead slacker son, the gay son (complete with his african-american "husband"), the overachieving oldest son, the poor hippie daughter, the pregnant (married) daughter, the breast cancer survivor mom, and the college professor dad. Then there was Sarah Jessica Parker, the uptight successful businesswoman, girlfriend to the successful son. It was a film set in hollywood cliche-world where all real estate developers are bad and just want to tear down old historic neighborhoods for parking lots. A film where uptight conservative characters eventually "grow" into people who vote Democrat. And I wanted none of it.

Motivational Posters

LawDog lead me to this vast repository of RPG related motivational parody posters. I personally like:

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Electric Pachabel

I don't recall my wedding processional music sounding this funky.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Baptist Fajitas

I'm a fan of quick and easy dinners that taste good. I'm not a fan of heavily processed and frozen food. Most methods of packaging and preserving foods destroy flavor. To make up for this these foods are usually chock full of flavor enhancers like MSG or Sodium. So they're unhealthy but keep for a long long time.

My fajita recipe is something I developed because I was really sick of making Viola frozen dinners. It is pretty simple but yummy and there are easy ways to make it your own. This recipe will generally feed two adults with health appetites. The ingredients you need are:

1 package of Chicken Breasts (1 to 1.5 lbs)
4 to 6 oz. of your favorite salsa. We use whatever mild chunky salsa is on sale.
Appropriately sized flour tortillas. I like burrito size myself, but I have a big mouth.
Fajita fixins of choice. We use lettuce, cheese, and sour cream. You might want avacado or more tomato. Refried beans are doable but will take more time. You generally won't need any flavored taco sauce because of the salsa used in cooking.

Start by cutting the breasts into strips. My strips are usually a quarter to half to an inch wide and a few inches long. Placing them into a medium sized frying pan. Ideally the pan should be large enough that they're all in contact with the heated surface.

Turn a burner onto medium-high heat and cook the strips' exteriors, turning regularly. Once the outside are all white, turn down to medium heat and add the salsa. This will favor the chicken, keep it moist, and help it cook evenly. Let it cook for 5 to 8 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, prep the fixins. The salsa itself is going to cook down some, so if you want salsa for fajita fixins, then have extra. Grate the cheese, wash and size the lettuce, set the table.

When the chicken is done, we generally set it in the middle of the table on a trivet. Put a flour tortilla on your plate and build yourself something yummy from the various ingredients. I recommend you put the grated cheese next to the chicken, it gets all melty that way. Enjoy.

Truth in Comedy

This PhD comic is great. My thesis advisor had the exact same mindset. I remember hearing him give a post doc advice on the birth of his third child. He said "Don't worry you'll be back in the lab in no time, it will get you away from the kids."

Friday, July 21, 2006

Bad Math Humor

After the Great Flood was over, Noah got off and personally supervised the release of the animals on board. As each pair was released from the hold to go hopping, crawling and fluttering away, Noah said to them, "Go forth and multiply!"

At one point, a pair of snakes came slithering down the ramp together. Noah addressed them as he had all the others: "Go forth and multiply!" The snakes looked at one another in embarassment, and then replied, "We can't. We're adders."

Well, this set Noah to thinking. He bid the snakes to wait there for a little while. Then he went down to the hold, gathered up his carpentry tools and then set off into the forest. He returned later dragging along a bunch of fallen logs.

Then there was furious activity: Noah was sawing, planing, hammering away at the logs. When he was finished, he presented the snakes a newly built, rough-hewn table. He said to the snakes "Go forth and multiply! For even adders can multiply using log tables."
These and other horrible bible math jokes can be found over at the Curt Jester. I discovered him by way of Paul Smith.

More Bread and Circuses

In what will only end badly, San Francisco has bestowed a universal healthcare system on all residents. Employed or unemployed. Legal or illegal. They're paying for it by increasing taxes on business and everyone who actually has a job. Let the exodus from the city commense.

The Good Ole Days

Shrode's discussion of his various nicknames have me reveling in the lost days of my youth.

I have had several nicknames in my life. It seems like the sprung out of nowhere in high school and college. The two big ones were "Sunny" in high school and "Fireball" in college. I'm not exactly sure where Fireball came from (although I do have red hair), but Sunny was due to my inability to tan. I suppose I should thank my Scottish ancestry, but my teenage tendency to wear black didn't help conceal the fact that I was paler than most of the undead.

I have been fortunate enough to be the giver of nicknames. The most successful were in my bible study senior year in college. Going into the group a couple of the guys already had nicknames. One guy had a long nearly unpronounceable and certainly unspellable polish last name. Everyone just called him by the first syllable: "Swiz." I can't take credit for that one since he was just holding it over from high school, although we did let it perpetuate through college. It made sense.

Another member of the group informed us that his nickname was El Banyo because it sounded like his last name and he once made the mistake of answering to it in Spanish class. We didn't have the heart to call him The Bathroom. We called him "Poopshoot" for a while though. His real first name was Jim and that's just too simple a moniker to forsake for Poopshoot.

One of the younger guys introduced himself as "Philip, but I guess you can call me Phil if you want." To which I (as the study leader and head instigator) responded, "Can we call you Lip?" "No!" he said with this disgusted look on his face. All of the boys looked around at each other. "Right! 'Lip' it is!" To my knowledge Philip was called Lip at least through college. Since he met his wife at school, he may be called Lip for the rest of his life. Now that's an accomplishment if I do say so myself.

MS Viruses

There is a new virus out that infects Powerpoint. Supposedly it is capable of tying up massive amounts of computer resources creating colorful and often gaudy slideshows featuring poorly conceived sound effects and animatics.

Oh wait that is Powerpoint. The virus just lets people break into your computer. Sorry.

This joke shamelessly stolen from Tamara.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Friday vs. Monday

An illustration of American workplace behavior using arctic and antarctic wildlife. Hilarious.

The Tesla

That's what you get when you take a Lotus Elise turn it into an electric vehicle. It's an electric car that does zero to 60 in fourish seconds and has a 200 to 250 mile range. Wow. An electric car I would consider buying, well if it wasn't $80k to $100k.

They did a good job, in large part because they have been working closely with Lotus. The car gets its power from a bank of what are essentially laptop batteries mounted amidships where the Elise's engine would be. That keeps the weight centralized for good handling and using laptop batteries means there may be a readily available technology upgrade path. When you need to buy new batteries, you may just be able to plug in next generation components. That would be sweet.

It also has been restyled so it doesn't look like a giant bug like the Elise. Bonus.


Thy name is Scott Adams:
By the way, I can predict the news for the next 30 days:

1. It is hot!
2. There’s trouble in the Middle East!
3. The stock market is down, just like every summer!
4. Cars that will never come to market get great mileage!
5. Osama is still hiding!

But I’m just guessing.
Sounds dead on to me.

Much Like Camelot

Do not go to Geek with a .45s comment thread. It is a silly place.

Tip o' me hat to John the Methodist for the second link.

Cody, Wyoming

It appears I must go there. The siren song of the firearms museum calls unto me.

Team Fortress 2

I played Quake Team Fortress semi-religiously in college. From Friday night to Sunday morning, the engineering computer labs were dominated by people playing it. I kept playing it up until John Carmack open sourced the Quake code and everybody started cheating. Then it wasn't fun anymore because I'm not everybody.

So I must say that the teaser trailer for TF2 looks most excellent. It looks like the characters are all on a revamped Two Forts map, i.e. the map everyone used. Great. Someone might get me to spend my money on a First Person Shooter soon. That hasn't happened in a while.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Hyper Sexual Revolution

So Oprah and her best friend Gayle King are officially not gay. Not that there is anything wrong with being gay, say the two women, but they aren't gay. They're just very good friends. They go on to say:
"There isn't a definition in our culture for this kind of bond between women. So I get why people have to label it – how can you be this close without it being sexual?"
The sad thing is that there used to be a definition for close non-sexual relationships in our culture a generation ago. But not today. Today we can't comprehend wanting to really get to know someone unless we are also getting into their pants.

What is even worse is that we project our hypersexualized values back into the past. Suddenly everything in the past is about the sexual morals and behaviors of the present. Remember the movie Alexander? Same deal.

It's all so very annoying and so very small minded. Thank you sexual revolution.

Ms. American Spy

This right-wing parody song deserves a mention, not just because it makes fun of the left, but because it also might be longer than the Don McLean classic upon which it was based. That is an impressive feat in and of itself.

Via: The King

How Blissfully Unpretentious

Crime and Mystery writer Mickey Spillane died on Monday. I need to get around to readings some of his books, if only because I like his style:
Spillane had no pretensions about his writing, going about it with the philosophy that "If the public likes you, you're good."

He was known for blunt writing and blunt talk and had no trouble admitting that money was a prime motivator for his writing.

In 1995, when he was named a grandmaster of his craft by the Mystery Writers of America, he recalled the days when he didn't write mysteries.

"I used to write true confessions stories like 'I was a pregnant teen-ager' and 'My boyfriend said we stopped in time,"' he said. "I write when I feel the urgent need for money."

Spillane was immune to critics who thought his style was uncivil, and once said, "Those big-shot writers could never dig the fact that there are more salted peanuts consumed than caviar."
I like pulp and popular fiction. I respect a well spun yarn. On the other hand a lot of critical fiction is so dripping with pathos that it's almost unreadable. Which is why we have critics to tell us how good it is instead of actually wanting to find out for ourselves.

Doggy Blues

Sorry about the lack of blogging yesterday, I took Meg the Corgi back to the breeder. We're sad that things didn't work out, but I can read a dog's body language well enough to know that she's happier where she can run.

Amybear and I still looking to get a dog sometime in the future, but I think we're going to put a house above it on the current priority list.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Presidential Potty Mouth

Amybear and I generally wake up to local TV on channel 6. This morning the huge important breaking was that George Bush said the word "shit" in conversation with Tony Blair when he didn't realize his microphone was on.
“See, the irony is what they really need to do is to get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this sh*t and it’s over,” Bush told Blair as he chewed on a buttered roll before the Group of Eight leaders began their lunch.
Ok first, he's right that Syria is an important component in Hezbollah's logistical pipeline. Second, "shit"? Not the F-bomb? Not even a quality racial epithet like "raghead?" Come on. You can probably say worse than that on cable TV now. I know I've said worse in my Thursday bible study. But then again I've dropped the f-bomb in post titles.

Honestly I was more offended by Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's Elvis impersonation a few weeks ago. I respect his fandom and the quality of his haircut, but the man is not the King. Or the Emporer. Or whatever they call Elvis in Japan.

UPDATE: On the topic of defecation, Anna Venger founded a brand new study showing that, yes, some parents really think their kids shit don't stink.

Dog Days of Summer

Yes, it is quite hot outside. But that isn't what this is about. It's about Meg:

Amy and I have wanted a dog for quite a while. We both grew up with them and we think they would be a good first step towards parenthood (after the potted plants we also have). We've been talking to breeders and rescue groups for a while. Our search led us to Meg after a weekend trip to a Maryland corgi breeder outside of DC. Meg is at our place for a trial stay to see how she acclimates to our household.

Meg is a Cardigan Welsh Corgi. Corgi's are built like dachshunds. They're short-legged dogs, but not little dogs. She weighs around 30 lbs and can jump onto our bed with relative ease. It's just amazing considering how far the bed is above her head. She's also quick and walks at a faster pace than Amybear does. Her short little legs are just a blur when she does it. She's four years old, housebroken, and crate trained.

She's also very skittish. I don't know all of Meg's story, but she has been either neglected or abused in the past. Probably both. She spent several of her formative years bouncing from home to home. She has a slight limp that shows when she's tired. It's because she was hit by a car. She is very very shy and has spend a lot of her time at our place hiding under the dining room table. But Amy and I are slowly working her out of her shell with snuggling and attention.

Meg is accustomed to a fenced yard. She loves to run. Her favorite thing in the world is playing fetch. I'm not kidding. Meg usually looks like she is afraid of everything, complete with the tail between her legs. But if you take her off her leash and pick up her squeaky fetch ball, it's like she's a different dog. Her ears perk up, a wagging tail emerges from somewhere underneath her, and she starts barking at you to throw the damn ball already.

But the yard is a problem for us. Amybear and I don't have access to a fenced yard or dog park. We have a tennis court at our complex that isn't used much, but the rules say no pets on it. Fortunately I haven't read those rules and Meg still gets a few minutes of that freedom she lives for. Meg just isn't herself on a leash. She needs a yard to really be happy. She needs a yard to be herself. She also seems to need a yard to *ahem* do her doggy business, which she seems incapable of doing (she has probably been trained not to) on a leash.

Which is why we probably won't be keeping her. She really deserves better and it will probably be a while before we can give it to her. It's killing us inside. We don't want to be just another one of her former owners. But we don't have what she needs.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Hard Pretzels

Now I remember why I prefer soft pretzels with mustard. I guess Anna should be thankful, all she did was cut her hand on a hard pretzel. I know several people who indulged in hard pretzels only to break some important and expensive dental work.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Gun Rights, the Civil Right

Good news from the Senate:
Handing another victory to gun control opponents, the Senate votes to bar the confiscation of legally possessed firearms during an emergency.

Sen. David Vitter, R-La., proposed the gun provision amendment, which is attached to a domestic spending bill for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.

The Senate approved the amendment by a vote of 84-16. The House has already passed its own version of the spending bill. Negotiators will have to decide whether to keep the amendment.
The 16 nay voters were all the senators from California, Hawaii, Maryland, New York, and New Jersey along with Teddy Kennedy (D-Ma), Dodd (D-CT), Durbin (D-IL), Harkin (D-IA), Levin (D-MI), and Reed (D-RI). Thankfully both Biden and Carper have common sense.

UPDATE: From Anna Venger in the comments:
Here's an idea for a DCBA outting: Let those experienced with firearms practice target shooting while instructing the inexperienced in how to shoot and properly handle a firearm.
Sounds good to me. I'm thinking a Saturday afternoon at Ommelanden Public Range in Newcastle? I'll bring my stuff.

Although if we're going to do this I had better order those parts for my AR-15 so I can finally put some rounds through it.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Following the Money

Geek with a .45's take on this article was different from mine.

The big source of cash on the left is old money and dedicated philanthropists. Many many special interest causes are just chock full of spending from a relative few well endowed foundations. With gun control, most "violent policy centers" are endowed by liberal trusts like:
The Annie E. Casey Foundation, The David Bohnett Foundation, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, The Funders' Collaborative for Gun Violence Prevention, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The Joyce Foundation, The Overbrook Foundation, and The Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund
Compare this to the NRA which is funded by $20-25 donations and magazine subscriptions from working stiffs like me. But there are a lot of working stiffs like me. Several million actually. Which is why the NRA has several times more money right now than the lefty trusts combined. It is also why the NRA has more votes than the lefty causes too.

You see the NRA is actually a grass roots organization. It has millions of members who care enough to buy a membership (and many other things the NRA sells) and vote in elections. Although their policies may have some grass roots support, the foundations are not grass roots organizations. They're generally endowed trusts where the money comes from investments made a long time ago in board rooms far far away. At some level the NRA must reflect the will of its members or the money stops. The Foundations must only reflect the will of the foundations officers and no one else. Which do you think is more in touch with the person on the street?

The Mature Japanese State

Instapundit and Jules Crittenden are applauding Japanese escalation in military spending in the face of missile threats from North Korea. They're saying that Japan is finally growing up, whatever that means. My feelings are much more mixed.

Crittenden starts out his piece making statements like this:
Japan was content to allow the United States to handle its defense for six decades, while Japan prospered and assumed the appearance of a leading nation in the world.
First, the reason Japan doesn't have a "real military" is constitutional. The Japanese constitution says "The Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes." Why does it say that? Because we, the US of A, wrote their constitution after World War II. So if they haven't been a mature nation in terms of self defense capabilities, we have no one to blame but ourselves. Every once in a while Japan plays around with rewriting their constitution to make a more aggressive military action possible. And nobody likes it. Not me. Not you. Not even right wing political analysts.

You see the two main aggressor powers in WWII, Germany and Japan, largely learned their lessons after the war. The lesson Germany learned was that they, as a people, were capable of awful things. And they are shamed by the Nazis and the Holocaust to this day. When I was in grad school, I took some German interns to Aberdeen Proving Ground for a grant meeting. Several of them were ex-German army. We passed by the Ordnance Museum and I pointed out some of the German tanks on the display field. The interns looked at me like I had just shown them a picture of their grandparents eating a baby. Such is the German memory of WWII.

In contrast, the lesson Japan learned was that nuclear weapons suck and they'd rather not be hit by any more of them. Japan isn't especially shamed by their conduct in the war because the Japanese teach the war to their kids as "We tried to bring civilization to the great unwashed Asian masses and they didn't like it very much. And don't piss off Americans." The latter partly explains why Gaijin have superpowers in Japan. The part where they slaughtered and raped their way across the Pacific Rim isn't covered much. Rape of Nanking? Didn't she have it coming? (This also makes sense if you have ever had the misfortune of seeing Japanese porn.)

Japan is not some helpless nation completely dependent on the US for their own defense. They have the Japanese Self Defense Forces. While they are surprisingly ineffective against Godzilla or Gamera (startling when you consider the frequency of the attacks), the JSDF isn't a group to really screw with if you aren't a nuclear powered monster like China or Rodan. The JSDF includes a "navy" called the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force which is one of the most significant seo-going forces in the Pacific and Indian oceans (next to the US and maybe Singapore). They don't have raw offensive power, but we relied on them heavily for anti-mine, anti-submarine, and anti-piracy roles both in the Cold War and in the present.

Japan has hardly been an infant since WWII. Considering the last time they "grew up" they acted more like a teenager with 'roid rage, I'm not necessarily looking forward to an older more aggressive Japan.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Inciting a Flame War

I was going to call this post "Eating Crow," but I'm still trying to figure out how bad I screwed up. And yes, blogging on blogging is the last resort of someone with nothing to say. Or write. Or blog. Or whatever verb is correct in this case.

Anyway, for those new to the site, this is my take on blogging: this is my home. This is Jeff the Baptist. Not Delaware Baptist blog. Ultimately, it's about me. Don't come into my home and insult me. I don't put up with that from my sister in real life. I won't put up with it from Joe Username on the internet. But if I do actually know you and like you, then I'll put up with some elbows in the ribs and kicks in the shins. Proverbially. But that's up to me, not up to you.

My take on comments is that you are welcome to say what you want as long as you don't (1) insult me or my friends (2) use language any fouler than I do (3) troll/spam my site. It's in The Rules which have been around for a while. In the end, I don't go to your site and act like a jerk. I actually avoid doing so, even to crazy people like Mainstream Baptist. I mean it would be so easy to play with him. But I don't. So don't come to my site and do something I wouldn't.

When Mike M. from Down with Absolutes wrote what I took to be a troll, I went to his site to see who the heck he was. I was pretty sure I didn't know him. I was also pretty sure that he was actually trolling. So I figured I'd troll him right back. But not on his site. I don't insult people in their homes. I'd just edit his comment here "appropriately." I'd show you exactly what I did, but unfortunately when I edited his comment his original one was overwritten. If I haven't done it already, I'll take the new one down too.

Why? Because sometimes reciprocity is appropriate and sometime it isn't. Mike says I was rude. He's probably correct. Two wrongs don't make a right. And if I say don't insult me, where do I get off insulting other people? Shouldn't I be above that? Yes. Yes I should. Oops.

Now look, I'm not Rush Limbaugh. I don't have his money, drug problems, score of ex-wives, or physical girth. I also don't have his inability to apologize and insatiable need to always be right. In fact those things kind of piss me off about Rush. So Mike, sorry I edited your comment. If it was a troll I should have just deleted it. If it wasn't a troll (which I still kind of doubt), then I should have let it stand.

Mike, I'm sorry. I'll be a big boy and fess up. You're right I was a jerk. I apologize. If you want to tell all your readers that I caved under the might of your electronic onslaught in only an hour and a half, then go ahead. (UPDATE: His electronic onslaught currently stands at one comment. Ouch.)

And if anyone has suggestions for how I can be less of jerk and write a better blog, the comments are open.

Imagery Not for the Workplace

Did you want to hear the phrase "he was blasting out of his pull-ups" to describe a coworkers experience spending yesterday with her diarrhetic toddler? Hopefully passing that one on will get the image out of my head.

Hollywood Shoots Self in Foot

CleanFlicks is now out of business. Directors managed to convince a judge that editing out nudity and gratuitous violence dilutes their artistic vision and ruins their reputation. Of course CleanFlicks has been legally licensing the films they edit for decency, so the directors have just destroyed a potentially lucrative revenue stream.

I wonder who the studio execs are pissed of with? The small editing studio opening up a new market for their goods or the directors exerting control over said goods?

Via Instapundit.

Castle Comes to Mississippi

No not Mike Castle. Mississippi is about to pass their own version of the "Castle Doctrine." The castle doctrine is based around the logic that an individuals home is their castle. It removes any requirement to retreat in the face of threat when you are in your own home. Instead you may react with proportionate and even deadly force.

Kim du Toit notes that puts us at odds with most of the western world, where defending yourself against killer with lethal force is illegal. So it's good on both counts.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Gun Control and Politics

As a political issue, gun control is a loser. Or it is according to Oklahoma Representative Dan Boren and Bill Clinton. The respond to this:
Gun-control proponents should avoid efforts like the assault weapons ban that were more effective at agitating gun owners than at preventing gun violence, says Daniel Webster of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research.
Or in other words gun control advocates should stop backing policies that don't work.

One of the most frightening things about the big personalities in the gun control movement is how little they actually know about firearms. I don't want anyone writing firearms law who can't explain to me the difference between semi-automatic and full automatic, the difference between a magazine and a clip, and explain to me the four laws of firearms safety. If you can't do these things, then you don't know enough to write legislation on this subject.

UPDATE: Link fixed.

Diamond Pacifiers

I give you the world's most expensive Rave fashion statement.

The Problem with Judges

I share Hube's annoyance with the latest decisions to extend the Geneva Conventions to the Gitmo detainees.

For those not in the know, the Geneva Conventions clearly defines who they apply to and there are two groups: non-combatants and prisoners of war. Non-combatants are innocent civilians and soldiers who have surrendered. Prisoners of war is a broad category that includes various types of combatants with the following restrictions: they must carry their arms openly, be easily discerned from the general populace, follow the laws of war. If any of those are violated, then the Conventions don't apply.

Now the detainees generally don't carry their arms openly, conceal themselves within the general populace, and disregard the laws of war. So the conventions didn't apply until the Supreme Court decided that now they do.

I predict that this is going to have the opposite effect people want. Our soldiers are, by and large, going to simply take fewer prisoners. Despite what some people may think, it is actually much easier to kill someone than to take them prisoner. We have to go out of our way to do it. But now prisoners are no longer useful intelligence sources and are often going to be set free to return to the fight against US forces. Why risk it?

There is a video circulating on the internet of a UAV crew following a group militants who had just fired off a volley improvised mortars from a parking lot at a US military base. The aircrew asks if they can just kill them with ordnance on the UAV. They are told "no" because "live terrorists are more useful to us than dead terrorists." So they follow the terrorists' car for fifteen minutes while ground forces maneuver to cut them off and surround them with overwhelming force in order to take them prisoner. I predict commanders will be saying "yes" to requests to dust terrorists much more in the near future.

Doing the Switcheroo

Joanne Jacobs is airing complaints about Generation Y being impatient with their job prospects.
Generation Y college graduates are enjoying a strong job market, but employers complain they want it all now and switch jobs if they don't get what they want.
Consequently a lot of employers are losing money because they train people for their first two years of employment, often paying for graduate degrees, who then leave and take that training with them to a competing company. So the original company loses money.

Part of me says "Cry me a river." When I was growing up my Dad bounced from job to job every 5 to 10 years. He was an aerospace engineer and it was the nature of the industry. He was loyal to his company but they weren't especially loyal to their employees. That was the job climate my generation grew up in. Your company doesn't value you, so you had better value yourself and get the best job you can. I took a government job so I wouldn't have to bounce around between employers my whole career.

If you're a manager, you had better adapt to this because the kids today have already adapted. Either start paying your employees better in the short term (because they are certainly worth the money to someone else) or start putting contractual obligations on employment and training. When the government trains someone as an officer or a doctor, they require several years of service to recoup their expenditure. A friend of mine became a doctor through the US Navy and now he has to work 5 years as a doctor in the fleet. If you pay for a Master's, then inform the employee that this commits them to 2 additional years of employment or they have to pay you back.

Behind Enemy Lines

Anna Venger relates the tale of Rosi (not her real name) a Pakistani woman who's family has found Christ and suffered greatly because of it.
Rosi herself, though previously considering doing her duty to God by killing her father, had to flee her home after her own conversion to Christ. The difficulties she and her family have faced are hard to imagine as we live in a country in which we are free to believe as we wish and are not faced with possible death for changing religions or holding to no religion at all. I wonder if I would have the fortitude that her family had shown in similar circumstances.
When I was in my teens, my church (not my current one) hosted a former missionary to Egypt. Unlike most missionaries who are US nationals, this guy was a native Egyptian who received foreign monetary support. Even though Egypt and Turkey are the most westernized and secularized muslim nations, he was still imprisoned without cause. He was beaten by both his countrymen and by the police. I was reminded of Paul's words in 2nd Timothy 2:
Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God's word is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.
We in America have it so easy. I need to pray more to lend strength to those who do not.

Monday, July 10, 2006

UN Gun Control Fails Again

Not only did the gun banners at the latest conference fail to achieve any type of consensus, but the whole conference process has been aborted. Good. I hate the idea of third world dictators, who disarm their populations to keep them compliant, dictating firearms policy to you and me in the land of the free. No thank you.

In related news I took Sunshine, my M1 carbine, out to the range on Saturday. The weather was nice and I rezeroed her at 25 meters. By a coincidence of ballistics, that is a 100 yard zero for the carbine as well. The bad news is that I was shooting steel-cased wolf ammo. It was rather crappy stuff and not very accurate. I'm rather concerned that my point of impact might change when I switch to something stouter from a reputable manufacturer or remanufacturer.

I'm starting to realize how much fun shooting longarms can be. With pistols, my eyes and hands are worn out after an hour of shooting. With rifles, my enjoyment can last quite a bit longer because I'm planning my shots more and the recoil doesn't tire me out. I can't wait until I get around to completing my AR-15 and I can take that to the range.

UPDATE: In other related news, Dick's Sporting Goods has the Rossi .22lr/.410 or .22lr/20 guage matched pair on sale for $110. It's a long gun with an interchangeable shotgun and rifle barrel, two guns in one. It is perfect for teaching kids (especially since these are almost certainly the smaller "youth" models) or just getting out to the range for cheap fun.

Know the Creed

When I was in a freshman in college one of my bible study leaders had spent some time doing ministry abroad. He went to the sort of place where people don't have electric lights, let alone TVs or radio. Their knowledge of God was similarly darkened. And he told them about the gospel because otherwise they wouldn't ever hear the message.

When he came back, he said he was made physically ill because of the ease at which Americans could learn about Jesus. You can go to any bookstore and pick up a bible. You can hear about him on any radio or TV, even if you're watching a late night comedy show.

Stephen Colbert is a Catholic Democrat by the way. And the end of that bit reminded me of the last verse of Tom Lehrer's excellent song National Brotherhood Week.

Weekend at the Movies

Amy and I rented The Producers and Underworld: Evolution and then went to see Superman Returns in the theatre with my brother. The reviews:

The Producers

It was clever and nuanced, but maybe a little too nuanced. It was a chuckler. I wasn't ever in fear of damaging a rib. Amy fell asleep at several points.

Underworld: Evolution

Too violent for Amy, but a great movie. If you don't mind blood and gore (it is a vampire and werewolf movie), you will probably like the movie a lot.

If you haven't seen the first movie, then go watch it because Evolution opens immediate after the end of Underworld. The effects in this movie are greatly improved from the first movie which felt low budget. The monsters are great and the werewolves are much improved over the first film (where the prosthetics effected the actors movements too much).

Evolution has a larger more polished feel to it. The past is told in period flashbacks not using character dialog. The action is intense and well thought out. Unlike the first movie which is very urban story, this is more of a rural chase on an almost national scale. Very nice.

Superman Returns

Superman written and played badly is just a big wooden boy scout. Which is how he feels in this movie. The effects were great, but I thought the characters and story fell flat. Lex Luthor was evil in an insufficiently clever way and his grand master plan was just stupid. Clark was a dork. And I had no idea why the Planet employed Clark Kent, since he doesn't actually do anything useful in the entire movie except turn into Superman. Superman could do anything and so he didn't create dramatic tension because of course he was going to save the day. Lois at least had some of the right characterizations. She worked hard on her stories. She had an eye for what was important. But along with her poor spelling, she can't seem to do math very well.

I really missed Christopher Reeve, he brought a depth to the character that I never felt with the new guy. But I don't know whether this is the actor's fault or the script's fault. Superman in this movie is a man of action and too few words, because you never get under his skin. Kate Bosworth didn't do an amazing job either, but at least she had some material to work with, not so with Brandon Routh.

But most of the effects sequences are amazing which makes the movie worth a watch on the big screen. And there are many references to the original Reeve films.

For an opposing viewpoint on Superman Returns, read Hube's review.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Amazing Medical Breakthrough...

For Cistic Fibrosis suffers its salt water. Yes that's it. You would think someone would have discovered something so simple years ago.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Passing the Smell Test

The latest Dork Tower unfortunately has as a ring of truth. Some gamers stink. Some gamers also have either emotional issues or stunted social skills. Not all, but some and they're common enough that some groups have had to take steps.

My brother is a member of the Philadelphia Area Gaming Enthusiasts or PAGE. PAGE has a rule, to attend one of their regular weekly gatherings you have to be invited in by a member. Requiring an invitation has the advantage of keeping both the Vampire roleplayers hissing on the doorstep and keeping out the people that aren't actually fun to play with.

You can just show up to a PAGE event of course. People do. I haven't of course but I have family in the group. If you are a "normal" gamer, then someone in the group will walk up and introduce themselves. They are of course sniffing you out. Often times quite literally. If you seem a good enough sort, they'll invite you in. But if you are dressing in floorlength black and smell of the grave, then don't expect an invitation.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Gay Marriage

It seems New York State and Georgia have gotten in right. They both upheld marriage as an exclusively heterosexual construct. But with that in mind New York also said:
We do not predict what people will think generations from now, but we believe the present generation should have a chance to decide the issue through its elected representatives...”
I.e. if you want gay marriage you need to change the laws through the legislative process, not overturn them through judicial action. Exactly.

I'm not sure I like gay marriage. I don't think I would vote for it, but I can see why some people might. If those people won out, I could certainly live with it. After all they can't exactly force me to marry another man. But ultimately this is an issue that should not be decided using court orders. It is an issue to be decided through the representative political process of the state and national legislatures. It's really nice to see someone uphold that concept.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Ken Lay Dead at 64

He was vacationing in Colorado while awaiting sentencing on multiple fraud and conspiracy charges.

Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. Somehow I don't think people will miss him much.

...and the American Way

Geek with a .45 notes that those very words have been deliberately omitted from the current Superman movie. Now its just "truth, justice, and all that stuff." Well, Whoopie. You've got some really great rhetoric that is going to get me fighting the good fight. No wonder Supes ran off to Krypton to find his roots.

What is it with the US today? Once upon a time we knew what we stood for and we knew we were better off than 95% of humanity and so we tried to export what we had with all our hearts. Religion, government, education, goods. You name it and we either sold it or more often just gave it away.

Not today. Today it seems like vast swathes of Americans want the US to be someplace else. We should be modeled on the crumbling societies of Europe or on "international law" created by hordes tin pot dictators at the UN. Just being America isn't good enough.

What happened to the American Way? What is so wrong with the American Way that we shrink back from it? That emblems like "cowboy" that we embraced a generation ago are now epithets reserved for our political enemies?

Well I'm not ashamed damn it. I'm a gun nut and a god nut, a rugged individualist and a rampaging capitalist. If you have a problem with that, then by all means come get some. Or better yet, follow up on your threat to move to France the next time somebody like me actually gets elected to national office.

UPDATE: But then some people do get it. The funny thing is that they're immigrants like Dinesh D'Souza, who has a great piece in The American Enterprise.
The immigrant cannot help noticing that America is a country where the poor live comparatively well. This fact was dramatized in the 1980s, when CBS television broadcast an anti-Reagan documentary, “People Like Us,” which was intended to show the miseries of the poor during an American recession. The Soviet Union also broadcast the documentary, with the intention of embarrassing the Reagan administration. But it had the opposite effect. Ordinary people across the Soviet Union saw that the poorest Americans had television sets and cars. They arrived at the same conclusion that I witnessed in a friend of mine from Bombay who has been trying unsuccessfully to move to the United States for nearly a decade. I asked him, “Why are you so eager to come to America?” He replied, “Because I really want to live in a country where the poor people are fat.”
He goes on to discuss the benefits of limited government, opposing special interests, and our egalitarian social standing. It is a great read. I wish I could find a copy of the man's book somewhere.

Wedding Ramble

Amy and I were at Amy's cousin Jeff's wedding in Connecticut over the weekend. It was the first large-scale family gathering we attended after getting married ourselves so we were wondering what it would be like.

Long story short, it was an enjoyable few days. Their wedding ceremony was outdoors and luckily the weather was nearly perfect. It was both sunny and mild with a slight breeze. Considering the miserable humid overcast with sprinkles we had been having, it was an especially pleasant change.

As for the wedding itself, we couldn't help but think that we liked our wedding better. Their ceremony was very short. (Do you? Do you? Do the ring thing and let's go eat!) The reception was quite nice, but we didn't get to talk to the bride and groom much if at all. But then again our wedding was our wedding. It should have reflected what we wanted. We had some ceremony to our ceremony and we wanted people to feel at home at the reception so we spent time talking to everyone and playing host. It would be kind of a shame if we had liked someone elses wedding better than our own.

Oh and we consumed a ridiculous amount of food over the weekend, especially red meat. I had steak at the rehearsal dinner at J.Gilbert's. It was yummy, but smokier and charred more than I generally enjoy my steaks. The steak we had at the reception was both larger and yummier, in my humble opinion.

It's strange, but I'm finding I don't generally like the steaks prepared at "steak" places. Outback over spices their meat and then undercooks it. Lonestar seems to use poor cuts of meat and also seems to export talent to Sullivans as soon as possible. I generally enjoy cooking my own steaks at home. A little sirloin, some time in the Adolph's, then a good broil until medium/medium-well, and I have something Amy and I both really like.

Independence Day

Amy and I celebrated the holiday by sleeping in, being lazy, then driving to my parents for a cookout and the township's fireworks. Everything went well but the fireworks didn't start until 9:30. We didn't get home until after 11. So I'm sleepy.

I would have liked to celebrate the 4th with some fireworks of my own, but unfortunately that didn't happen either. Ommelanden is a state-run range so they were closed for the day. Other people were luckier than myself including this adorable little girl with her adorable rifle.