Thursday, March 29, 2007

Permanent Age

Kim du Toit has an interesting post and for once it isn't about politics or firearms (although I'm sure he'll get back to that):
What’s your permanent age?

I’ve observed that everyone has a permanent age that appears to be set at birth. For example, I’ve always been 42-years old. I was ill-suited for being a little kid, and didn’t enjoy most kid activities. By first grade I knew I wanted to be an adult, with an established career, car, house and a decent tennis game. I didn’t care for my awkward and unsettled twenties. And I’m not looking forward to the rocking chair. If I could be one age forever, it would be 42.
Kim is naturally an old curmudgeon so he puts his around 50. I figure that I really belong in my mid twenties. That way I don't feel guilty being slightly immature, watching anime, and making things go boom, but I still make a halfway decent living. And I can still relate to Amybear since her natural age is somewhere in her giggly tweens most of the time.


This whole US Attorney scandal is a non-starter for me. By law the President has always had the right to remove a US attorney at his discretion and it is a frequently used discretion. The only part of the "scandal" that I consider significant is the changes to the appointment process made in the PATRIOT act which unbalance the appointment of replacement US attorneys. It is not good for "temporary appointments" to last indefinitely. Those changes are being repealed as we speak.

Now on under-reported scandals, QandO has noticed some ethical irregularities in other areas. Turns out Diane Feinstein's husband Richard Blum owns several military construction contractors and holds a lot of stock in several military suppliers. Why is this a big deal? Because Feinstein chaired the military construction subcommittee for the last six years. Six years where her husband has made billions.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Frisco Bans Plastic Bags

I'm with Tamara, grocery store baggies are about the handiest things ever. Not only do they carry the food into my house, but they carry the trash, cat crap, and recycling out of the house. And I recycle any extra that happen to pile up. What isn't to like?

Toby the Wonder Dog

I heard about this story on the radio during my drive in. When Debbie Parkhurst started choking on an apple (Chew Debbie! Chew!) her 2 year-old golden retriever Toby pushed her to the ground and then jumped on her chest in a sort of canine Heimlich maneuver. This dislodged the apple and saved her life.

In a side note, Amy and I haven't cut Milo's claws in while. We're keeping them sharp in case he should need to perform open heart surgery on one of us. Hey, cat spit is also a powerful antiseptic so he's practically a furry first aid kit.

Making Your Knot

While trying on those 8 inch Belleville's last weekend, I wondered if there was a better way to lace and tie them. Turns out there are a lot of lacing and knotting options out there and Ian's Shoelace Site is a good place to start. He rates a number of lacing methods and lists the advantages and disadvantages for each. Turns out the standard criss cross that I've been using since I was a kid is a good all around method. It also turns out that I have been tying my shoes wrong for most of my life.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Shopping Fun

I just made a run to the supply room at work. It's great. I scratch the shopping itch, but yet I haven't actually spent any money. Now back to the office I share with two pregnant women.

Gnu Object Lessons

Amybear and I were watching an Animal Planet documentary on an African wildebeest migration a few weeks ago. In it a wildebeest calf gets separated from his mother largely because he ran off and wasn't paying attention to where he was or what he was doing. He then spends the next five or ten minutes of the show trying to find his mother. He's hungry, he's thirsty, he's bleating for his mommy. If he doesn't find her, he might not make it. Finally he manages to find her again and everything turns out alright.

Amybear was getting all teary-eyed through this part of the story, but I realized that this is exactly the kind of programming I want to watch with my kids. I wish they had showed a wildebeest calf that didn't make it back to mommy. Why? Because I want shows that I can use to scare my children into not being stupid. Hey son, do you remember that show on the wildebeest? Do you remember what happened to that little one who got lost? Then stay close to mommy and daddy at the store, ok? We don't want that happening to you.

Man, I hope shows like that stay in rotation for a long time.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Good Boots

While we were in Norfolk this weekend attending the bar-mitzvah of Amybear's cousin, we stopped at the local Navy Exchange for some shopping. Most PXs are essentially department stores for soldiers and they really don't have much to recommend them over a civilian store except for their tax free status. Not this one, it also had a uniform shop including uniform shoes. Finally, a place that might sell those paratrooper boots I've been wanting.

No such luck. They had some excellent Belleville flight line boots which did tickle my fancy. All leather. Vibram-soled. Well padded. Gore-tex lined and completely waterproof. And under $100. Amazing. The problem? Selection. The 9.5s (my normal size) was too big. Maybe I would have been ok with a couple pairs of socks, but I didn't want to risk it. There were no 9s to be had. I was not the only guy looking at these things and bemoaning the NEX's lack of 9s and 10s in regular width either.

When I got home, I looked up the civilians prices. They're $160 boots for the general public. Sniff. Sorry boys but I don't like you quite that much. Maybe I can get a government employee discount. I'll have to look.

More Letters to the Editor

Howard Gerlach, a member of my church, had a letter to the editor supporting adult stem cell research in Friday's News Journal.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Sermon Recaps

Steve is discussing this past Sunday's sermon at my church. It was good and very challenging. My senior pastor doesn't do that sort of sermon much. He prefers more of a broad scriptural exposition in his preaching. That isn't a bad thing, but generally I've shared a similar feeling to Steve. I ought to be doing something not just learning something. The missionary who spoke this week did a good job giving that sort of sermon.

My church has grown a lot over the last few years. This isn't a bad thing, but it isn't necessarily a good thing either. I keep getting the feeling that we are only growing in population, not in spiritual depth or ability. We have four services every Sunday. Services we struggle to sufficiently staff in terms of ushers, greeters, and nursery workers. Why should a church our size have trouble with that? It is a symptom. Everyone is coming to receive, not to give.

That said, I did have a few problems with the sermon. Some of the sermon seemed short sighted to me. You cannot live like a soldier forever. Sleeping in ditches and eating MREs is not sustainable. It wear soldiers down physically and emotionally. Eventually you have to rotate off the front line. The same thing happens with Christian missions and the pointy end of the spear in spiritual warfare. You can't do it forever and you need people to support you just to do it at all.

I also don't have a problem with making raising children a major focus of the church alongside missions and training adult disciples. The church's commitment to raising Christian children is essentially missions to the next generation. Christianity has taken 2000 years to get where we are. We don't know when Jesus is coming back. I would much rather plan for the long term.

Not-so-Concealed Carry

An editor in Roanoke, Virginia decided that publishing the names and addresses of every concealed carry permit holder in the state of Virginia would be an important public service. McQ at QandO had this to say:
I'd suggest that any criminal accessing the database isn't going to seek out those with concealed carry permits in order to engage in crime against them. Instead, a criminal is more likely to ensure the person whose house he's going to burgle isn't carrying.
Unfortunately this isn't the case. Few people are going to try to take on a concealed carry holder in a fair fight. If you are going to commit violent crime, you do it against someone who can't fight back. That much is true. But most criminals in heavy concealed carry states are starting to shy away from violent crime for that very obvious reason. Instead they're moving to property crime like breaking and entering instead.

So you have your list of gun owners. Now all you need to do is wait until no one is home and you've got a big score. It isn't hard to tell when no one is home either. You just pretend you're a delivery guy or taking a survey and knock on their front door. If no one answers, you go around back casing the joint as you go. Guns are a wonderful thing to steal too. They're small, light, and easily liquidated on the black market because criminals all want them. Most guns used in crimes have in fact been stolen from law abiding gun owners somewhere. Which means that yes, a publicized list of gun owners is a list of possible B&E targets.

Oh and a bunch of those people took out permits to protect themselves while already under threats of violence from someone. Maybe they have an abuse ex-boyfriend or spouse. Maybe the local street thugs too a dislike to them. Maybe they're ex-cops, etc. Many of the people on this list don't want to be found and this newspaperman just told everyone where they live. I mean how would he like it if someone widely publicized his address after what he did?

Oddly enough, I do want to be able to find names and identifying numbers for concealed carry holders. Why? Because it lets the public audit the state concealed carry system. This is especially true in states with "may issue" carry like Maryland or Delaware. Audits of permit holders in the tight-fisted states generally show that to get a concealed carry permit you have to be a powerful politician, a major campaign contributor, or know somebody in the system. Generally poor people that need to defend themselves don't make the list. You can't find out about this corruption in the system without access to the names in order to compare to lists of campaign contributors, family members, etc.

Morning Radio

I was really annoyed with people this morning. A woman called in to my usual morning show to ask for advice. One of her neighbors had an altercation with the police in the wee hours of the morning and had shattered the rear window of a cruiser. This left broken glass all over the street by her complex's mailboxes. Her question was: "Who has to pick this glass up?"

Now keep in mind, all that is needed to clean up the glass is a broom, a dustpan, and a trash can. Maybe some work gloves too. These are things you already have around the house. The only cost to this woman is her time and she spent about ten minutes talking about this on the radio. In the time this woman spent jawing with the hosts, she could have gone out and cleaned up the mess and everyone would be the better for it. Instead she spent her morning finding out who she could force to do it for her. Nothing got done and she's still going to have to do it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Prayer Requests

Elizabeth Crossan, wife of former Delaware GOP Executive Director Dave Crossan, died this morning. She had been fighting brain cancer since shortly after giving birth to their second child last June. She had her first brain surgery in July and has undergone radiation, chemo-therapy, and even more surgery since. Dave's a Christian and while he seems to be doing ok (I read his posts on Elizabeth's CarePage), I can't image the pain and loss he's coping with today.

In other news, blogger Kim du Toit is suffering from a major gout flareup. Not fun. His choices right now are be impaired by the pain or be impaired by the drugs to treat the pain. Sounds like wonderful choices right? Kim and his family aren't Christians either so now you have two things to pray for there.

UPDATE: The News Journal has Elizabeth Crossan's obituary which includes funeral details.

What's Better than Rita's Water Ice?

Free Rita's water ice. Mmm...

Test Launch

SpaceX performed their second test launch of the Falcon 1. Falcon 1 is designed as a low cost, high reliability orbiter for commercial space enterprises. Thus far the test program has been funding by DARPA and the Air Force.

The first stage of this test launch was completely successful, but the second stage of the launch unfortunately developed problems. Commentary and videos are available on the SpaceX website.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Letters to the Editor

A friend let me know that my senior pastor has a letter to the editor in yesterday's News Journal.
S.B. 5 will reduce life and death to a commodity

Last April, my unborn grandson had a rare heart disease that did not allow enough blood into the left side of his heart. Untreated, he would have half a heart at birth and face an early death.

Doctors passed a thin wire through my daughter-in-law's abdomen and uterus, and into the child's chest and grape-sized heart. They inflated a tiny balloon and enlarged his aortic valve.

For several hours it looked as if they succeeded, but his heart rate slowed. Alexander died. We saw him 36 hours later, stillborn, My family's features over four generations were unmistakable. We held him, prayed, wept and handed over his body for autopsy.

Not far from where that happened abortion was killing healthy, unborn children at Alexander's stage of development.

Embryonic stem cell research destroys human life at its earliest stage. Delaware Senate Bill 5 proposes to fund such research. Human life becomes a commodity.

Are we losing our soul in the name of freedom to pull human beings apart piece by piece and cell by cell?

Some say the gains are worth the sacrifice and moral discomfort. We can gain the whole world and still lose our soul as a people.

We have cause to be uneasy. We have cause to say no to Senate Bill 5.

Rev. Bo Matthews, Wilmington

First Day of Spring

Spring starts tonight at 8pm. Do you know what that means? Right, free Rita's water ice tomorrow!

The Highland Games

John brought up the games in the comment of my kilt post. The games are definitely worth a trip.

I've been to the Fair Hill Scottish Games twice. On the first visit I went with friends. We watched some of the sporting events, shopped a bit, and ate the good food. Good food meaning that I consumed very little haggis, but several bridies and meat pies. On the second visit my entire family went and we also watched the sheepdog herding demonstration. Honestly, I think that the sheepdog demonstration is more than worth the price of entry to the games all by itself. But I also know people who go every year just to see all the pipers. The point is that there is a lot to see and do.

The Fair Hill Scottish Games will be on May 19th at Fair Hill off Rt 273 in Elkton, Maryland. My family hasn't gone for several years and the consensus is that we should go again this year. We'll see if Amy's parents want to come up, too. Hopefully it won't rain, but if it does the games will just feel all the more Scottish. Tickets are available at the gate, but you can order them in advance for a reduced rate (info on the website).

Monday, March 19, 2007

Tarot Personality Test

You are The Emperor

Stability, power, protection, realization; a great person.

The Emperor is the great authority figure of the Tarot, so it represents fathers, father-figures and employers. There is a lot of aggression and violence too.

The Emperor naturally follows the Empress. Like an infant, he is filled with enthuiasm, energy, aggression. He is direct, guileless and all too often irresistible. Unfortunately, like a baby he can also be a tyrant. Impatient, demanding, controlling. In the best of circumstances, he signifies the leader that everyone wants to follow, sitting on a throne that indicates the solid foundation of an Empire he created, loves and rules with intelligence and enthusiasm. But that throne can also be a trap, a responsibility that has the Emperor feeling restless, bored and discontent.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Via Joan

Fighting the Last War

I saw this in a comment over at QandO:
When war starts, those in command are ready to fight the “last” war.
Sometimes I wonder if people really understand what it takes to fight "the next war." Since that is a big part of my job, you need to understand that it isn't easy.

Fixing the problems of the last war is easy because you know what they were. The enemy had better tanks. The enemy was more flexible or could blend into the populace, etc. You're dealing with known quantities not future hypotheticals.

Fixing those problems is also important because if everyone doesn't know those problems already, they soon will. Which means your next enemy will attempt to exploit your old failings. Part of the reasons the Islamic world started the War on Terror was because they thought the US had a glass jaw. They got that impression in US operations in Somalia and the Balkans. So they figured they'd bloody our noses and we'd run away like last time. It didn't work out that way, because we learned the lesson of the last war and they made some bad assumptions about American character. Preparing to fight the last war is not an entirely bad thing.

Fixing the problems of the next war is much harder in comparison. Preparing to fight the next war means guessing what the next war will look like. You have to do this before you can even attempt to understand your future shortcomings. We have a lot of people in the military trying to do this through intelligence gathering, analysis, wargaming, etc. It isn't easy, especially when you consider that your predictions need to made with enough lead time (a decade at least) so we can make a course correction. The military will need that much time to field a new system or institute new training. Not easy.

Also keep in mind that your enemies are watching you just like you are watching them. The whole situation is dynamic. The preparations you make a decade in advance will alter the military future you are planning to meet. When the next war comes, your preparations (and what your enemy understands of them) will shape how they fight you. You will miss the target by some amount. It is almost guaranteed.

When people talk about generals "fighting the last war," they make it sound so easy to fight the next war. Like the brass have their heads in the sand or up their asses. Let me tell you, most of them don't. The reason those people (college professors, journalists, etc.) make fighting the next war sound easy is because those people have no idea what it takes to do it. So, like a bad manager, they assume the task they are assigning must be easy out of total ignorance.

Some Fine Shooting

I ran across two files on a gun board showing just how quickly you can fire a single action revolver like they used in all those cowboy pictures. Widowmaker is shooting with a revolver in each hand "double duelist" style. That was probably 10 rounds in under 2 seconds. Deuce Stevens choses a more solid "traditional" grip, shoots one revolver dry, then switches to the other. He's slower at almost 3 seconds, but that's the grip and stance I'd probably go with if I really wanted to hit my targets. Oh and if you're listening, you can actually hear the metallic sound of the bullets hitting the metal plates they're using as targets.

Krazy Kiltedness

I'm at least partly of Scottish descent. For some reason, kilts have caught my fancy for the last few weeks. Amy is not amused by it. Anyway if you're looking for some website and forums on the subject, X Marks the Scot is probably the best kilt site out there. If you're just curious about kilts, there is a free e-book available in pdf.

Mighty Moes

My family is starting to assemble quite a wrecking crew for our post-church Sunday lunches. My immediate family is up to five people now and we usually have at least a friend or two tag along. The group generally rotates through the Olive Garden, Grand East Buffet, Macaroni Grill, and Red Lobster in Wilmington. This week we tried somewhere new and went to Moe's Southwest Grill in Brandywine Town Center. I recommend it.

I had the homewrecker burrito. That's a big burrito stuffed with rice, beans, meat, guacamole, sour cream, salsa, and anything else you care to ask for. The result is an immense burrito of the sort also served at Chipotle. But I found that the Moe's menu has a whole had a lot more to offer than Chipotle.

Anyway, I liked it and recommend it for a casual sit down.

Pet Food

Thanks for everyone who has contacted us about the pet food recall. Milo's food is unaffected because the recall only covers wet food and his diet is almost entirely dry food. What wet food he does receive as a treat is made by Royal Canin and not covered by the recall.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Traction Control Spikes

My favorite gizmo from Knight Rider is becoming a reality. No, not turbo boost or ejection seats. Definitely not Mr Feaney talking to me from my dashboard. No, someone has actually built a tire with retractable traction control spikes. Sweet.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Cooking Bio-Diesel

MakeBlog has a link on how to cook Bio-Diesel up in your kitchen or garage. You know, in case of Zombie attack when the only thing you scrounge to fuel your truck is old McDonald's fryer oil. It's no beer launching refrigerator, but it could save your life.

What's In a Name?

GetReligion has two fine articles questioning common definitions of words we use all the time, like "Evangelical" or "Devout Muslim."

The first is a story about the growing discord among Evangelicals about environmental policy. The arch-conservatives and political activists want the environment on the back burner. The young hipsters want it to take more prominence. Amid all of this the press is losing sight of the fact that these issues are largely outside of the core beliefs of Evangelicalism in the first place.

The second is a story about an Iraqi Muslim who owned a book shop in Baghdad and, unfortunately, died in a car bomb last week. The reporter referred to him as a "devout muslim" but was he? How does the reporter know? What makes a muslim devout, etc.?

Language is a tricky thing to get right.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The God Ghetto

I have to agree with Gavin Richardson and John the Methodist:
I cannot remember if I have talked about or other separate "clone" sites that try and give a "church friendly" replication of what is popular in culture. My personal perspective is to say, those are well and good, but, Christ didn't do all his preaching/teaching/discipling within the confines of the walls of the temple. God in the Old Testament wasn't exactly pleased when people made the temple his "home." they moved outside to where the people were. So I’m somewhat discouraged again to see the incarnation of another clone. "God Tube"
Yup. The way to be "in the world" but not "of the world" is not to recreate what the world does in a separate Jesus friendly area. That is not "in the world." Being in the world but not of the world means taking Christ to the Christless. It means putting Christian videos up on YouTube, not creating a GodTube just for our own purposes.

Monday, March 12, 2007


Just a reminder, Thursday the 15th is People Eat Tasty Animal's day. If you're doing your grocery shopping soon (like Amy and I will be tonight) go get yourself an appropriate hunk of meat.

Sticky Wicket That

David Morgan-Mar, author of the surprisingly regular Irregular Webcomic, also has an excellent explanation of the game of Cricket. I believe Morgan-Mar is Australian and like most citizens of commonwealth countries, he adores the game. Back when I was in grad school, a lot of the Indian grad students would play on the Mall on Sunday mornings.

I'm Free!

Everyone's favorite effeminate Lancastrian, John Inman, has died. Inman is famous worldwide for his role as Mr. Humphries on "Are You Being Served?" which shows up regularly on PBS in the states. Inman's health had been poor for a number of years.

Peace and Long Life

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

Via John the Methodist.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Free at Last!

In a two to one decision, the D.C. Circuit has struck down handgun ban in place in D.C. and upheld an individual constitutional right to bear arms. Howard Bashman has analysis of the majority decision and of course Instapundit has a lot of useful links as well.

Thinking Ahead

I see that this Amazon shopper is prepared for the Zombie apocalypse.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Questions from the Methodist

Is wealth compatible with the Christian faith?
Yes of course. While wealth can be a spiritual stumbling block, it can also be spiritually liberating. Solomon's proverbs give a very favorable impression of wealth. He takes the stance that rich people have more choices and effectively more freedom than the poor who must scrounge for their next meal and compromise their morals in order feed themselves or their family.

But money must not be your true love. You cannot allow it to be your God. Money is a thing and a gift given to us by God as a resource to use for his glory.

from Michael Spencer:
In my Baptist upbringing, we were frequently told that weekly communion turned the supper into a meaningless, rote ritual. Roman Catholics and those in the “Disciples of Christ” churches were examples. Of course, this same standard didn’t seem to apply to preaching, the offering, choir specials, hymns and, of course, the offering. It is was always obvious to me that the kinds of demeaning language used in describing frequent communion was not rooted in the Bible, but is simple prejudice: we don’t want to be like the Catholics.
I'm not a Southern Baptist. I don't think I could be. Among other things I drink too much. "Too much" meaning that I actually had a beer sometime before Christmas (mmm, Yeungling) and I have had the same bottle of Glenlivet in my possession since I was in Graduate School. Oh and the whole married to a Jew thing. Might be an issue.

Anyway, it is my understanding that the reason most Protestant denominations do not hold communion weekly has much more to do with organizational and traditional issues than anything theological. My current church holds communion the first Sunday of the month, but way back when I was PCA I think it was quarterly.

This whole thing got start because at many times in church history, there haven't been enough ministers to go around. The colonial period. The westward expansion. Even now some denominations like the Methodists are having trouble meeting their staffing needs. Many denominations solved this by having ministers "ride the circuit" to several churches. You had communion when you had a minister in town, otherwise not. Depending on the size of the circuit this meant you probably wouldn't have communion more than once a month and sometimes it was a lot longer than that depending on staffing and geography. Even though a lot of churches now have their own pastors, they rarely have communion more than once a month. Why? Well because once a month was good enough back in grandpa's day... etc. The exception became common and then became the new norm.

In short, our communion schedule is more about liturgical tradition than any theological reasoning.

Frankly, modern Protestant practice kind of stinks. The Christian sacrament of Communion harkens back to the Jewish sabbath ceremonies of breaking bread and sharing wine. While you may thing that this is a Passover activity, in fact an observant Jewish family will share the bread and wine once a week on the sabbath. I actually enjoy this part of the Friday dinner with Amy's family a lot, even though the prayers are in Hebrew and therefore completely unintelligible to me. It seems to me that a more frequent observance of Christian Communion wouldn't hurt anything (unless people are partaking improperly of course) and may serve to strengthen the bonds of the Church with God and with each other.

Jeff, how would you distinguish between a person living in luxury whose wealth is a stumbling block from a person living in luxury whose wealth is not a stumbling block?
By how they use their money of course. When you look at lessons like the Parable of the Talents, inequality in wealth or ability isn't necessarily a bad thing. What is bad is using that wealth or ability unwisely or inappropriately.

Don't be a glutton. Don't be a miser. Don't squander it. And above all be humble. You have been given much by God, so you must invest much for God. Invest in the less fortunately by giving to charity or investing in businesses that can train them or employ them. Invest to improve everyone's quality of life. If you have enough money to be comfortable, then do not be afraid to be generous.

But ultimately, and here is the tough part for a lot of Christians, we may not be able to tell. Just as ultimately it is God's money, so ultimately it is also God who judges who was the good servant and who buried the money in the ground. Not me and not you. And perhaps, as good Christians, we should remember that. The person you are most capable of judging is yourself. Think how you are using what God has given you. Take the plank from your own eye first and don't worry about what other people are doing. Have faith, God will sort them out soon enough.


I believe the proper term for this is intelligence coup.

Long Distance Relationships

This is every visit I had with Amy while she was in Grad School in North Carolina.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Hollywood: It Ain't the Real World

One of John Scalzi's blogs led me to a list of 9 Laws of Physics That Don’t Apply in Hollywood. Like most of these smart pants lists it is only right about two thirds of the time. Their observations about Hollywood sound, gravity, and automobile engineering are dead on. For instance, in the real world, cars are designed not to explode after a collision. What is off?
7. Shell Shock! Exploding Artillery Shells that Blow Straight Up
In the movies "artillery shells" blow up out of the ground where the pyrotechnics guy buried the charge. In real life, artillery shells are supposed to blow up overhead and rain deadly fragments down on everyone. Supposed to. In actuality, the technology to make shells reliably explode in the air is pretty modern. For most of the history of artillery, you had to guess the time of flight of your shell and set the fuze time accordingly. It was hard to do well, so a lot of shells augered into the earth and then blew up out of the ground like in the movies. The problem wouldn't be solved until the US and UK developed the proximity fuze in WWII. The proximity fuze wouldn't be widely disseminated until the Cold War. So even in most WWII movies, artillery shells blowing up out of the ground wasn't unusual at all.
8. The Sparking Bullet ... In real life, sparks do occur when you scrape steel or other hard metals on hard surfaces (such as brick) because little pieces of brittle materials are heated to glow and fly off. The problem here is that bullets are generally made of lead because it’s dense and soft, and you don’t want the bullets scarring the steel of the gun barrel.
In real real life a lot of commercial ammunition has a steel core in the middle of the copper jacketed lead slug. This is especially true with the cheap military surplus ammunition coming from Eastern Europe. If the guy in the movie is shooting an AK-47 or other machine gun, it could very well produce sparks. This is why Ommelanden has a magnet on the wall to test for steel core ammo that will chew up their backstops (and make nice sparks when it does it).
9. Sound Travels in Space ... For instance, in space the hero shouldn’t be able to shout out instructions to the other astronauts from a spot several yards away.
While it is true that you shouldn't be able to hear space ships flying around, most space suits have these things called radios that let you talk to other astronauts just fine.

See don't you feel enlightened? Aren't I so smart?


The more I think about it, the more a turbo-diesel seems like the right vehicular option for me with my long commute. I'd love to get a Mazda3 turbo-diesel, but I doubt they'll ever be offered in the US. On the other hand Volkswagen is coming out with a new Diesel Jetta which looks promising and might someday make it to these shores.

Talkin' about Hizzoner

Conservative City Journal columnist Steven Malanga makes a good case for Rudy Giuliani and the size of his conservative streak. Giuliani is very conservative in fiscal matters and has a strong streak of personal responsibility. The problem? As Kim du Toit puts it:
But I fear that while Giuliani would fight for his own agenda items—once again, a Good Thing—he would ameliorate his position with the enemy, and might compromise on issues which may not matter to him, but which are dear to the conservatives he might have to rely upon to get into the White House. Such issues, of course, are ones like gun control/a fresh AWB, abortion and others where he is, let’s be honest, no conservative.
Yup. Sir Rudy really needs to start shoring up his stance in other areas. I like his fiscal conservatism. I think he has shown a lot of executive leadership ability as Mayor of NYC. But there are areas where he is lacking like gun control and individual civil liberties. These are things I care about and if he doesn't start making some promises, he isn't going to get my vote. Without these things he is little more than a fiscally sound collectivist and I can't abide by that.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Cats = Stupid

I knew there was a good reason I didn't blog much while I was stuck at home yesterday.

Greenhouse Gasses and Hot Air

So if China surpasses the US in greenhouse gas output this year, does that mean the hippies will start bugging them instead of us?

A Cat's Passing

Methodist Blogger Beth Quick lost her male gray tabby cat on March 1st. Grayer, who was only three, died suddenly and inexplicably before she returned home Thursday evening. I'm so sorry.

At the risk of adding insult to Beth's injury, if you have a male cat and especially an orange or gray tabby like Milo or Grayer, have your vet check them for urinary crystals. Urine crystals and the resulting urinary infection can be very serious and potentially lethal in cats. The condition is most common in gray male tabbies although orange tabbies like Milo are almost as bad off. The treatment is easy, you just switch them over to a prescribed diet and it could save their life.

I doubt Grayer died of crystal problems. Milo started urinating inappropriately before his condition got serious. I doubt that sort of behavior would go unnoticed.

Real Estate Info

Knowing that Amy and I are in the housing market, a good friend sent me a link to the New Castle County Parcel Search tool. You can use it to gather a whole lot information about an piece of land like tax assessments, sewer assessments, and a map of the specific dimensions of both the parcel and the structure on the land. I'm definitely going to be using this later.

UDPATE: There is a property tool for Maryland as well, but it is vastly inferior to the Newcastle County tool.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Now That's a Lantern

Wow. Some people are reporting that this Taiwanese festival lantern is a life sized 1:1 model. Not exactly. The RX-78-2 Gundam is 18 meters (or about 60 feet) high. Judging from construction photos (the links on the first post), this sucker is about 24 feet high. Or would be if he were standing upright. Not exactly 1:1, but still quite impressive.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Income Taxes

I'm not looking forward to doing them this year. I'll be doing Amy's and mine. Besides getting married, she changed state residency. I work in Maryland, but live in Delaware. I also itemize. While I am not mathematically challenged, I've honestly had a difficult time getting everything right in the past. Let me tell you, any penalty you pay will swamp the totally tax deductable cost of getting some form of tax assistance.

Last year I had a coupon get my taxes done at Liberty Tax. It was great. I walked in, gave them my stuff, and I was done in under an hour. And instead of cost a couple hundred dollars, it was free. I have no complaints.

This year I have a 25$ coupon, but I'm also filing two returns instead of one. I'm thinking about using TurboTax or TaxCut. But I don't know whether either is robust enough to guide me through our new family's complexities. Instapundit has links to overviews of both brands of software.

Two People, Two Wheels, One Door

Currently fuel prices are raising the cost of commuting while the housing market is stagnating because of interest rates. This means that the option of moving closer to work may not be viable for a lot of people and long commutes may remain the norm. So I will bring up the microcars and microcar alternatives again.

Via Autoblog, the Monotracer is one such vehicle. It is a fully enclosed motorcycle with two seats and a plush interior. The problem? It costs fifty thousand euro. That's over seventy thousand dollars. So much for an economical alternative to cars I suppose.

Always Keep Learning

I like shooting guns, but I've never been trained to do it. With handguns this hasn't been a problem, but I know my rifle technique stinks. I can hit off of a bench at the range, but that really doesn't mean much. So I'm learning a whole lot on this thread at The High Road on iron sights and improving my shooting technique. Good stuff.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

GTA: Vice City Stories Coming for PS2!

I realize that I haven't been blogging much, but my blogging is probably going to drop precipitously on March 6th when GTA: VCS comes out. Sorry.

UPDATE: Physics Geek, Jesus Freak asked for game suggestions after his wife bought him a PS2. I really like the GTA series, but they're not well suited for a house with children in it. I also like the Sly Cooper and Spyro the Dragon games for good clean fun.

If and when you go game shopping, I highly suggest you do it off the Greatest Hits and used racks. The PS2 has been out for a long time. There are lots and lots of good games out there that you can buy for under $20. I never thought it made sense to buy games for $50 when I could just be patient and buy them for $20. The only games I buy new are GTA and that's because I know they will be excellent and I will get my money's worth.

He's Like Kitler!

That little mustache betrays their dark kitty hearts. From Paul.

Al Gore

People have really been picking on him lately, what with him being a total Learjet Liberal. He does seem to be a total "do as I say, not as I do" kind of conservation advocate. But he buys indulgences carbon offsets, so that makes it alright.

Oh and I didn't realize his son was such a delinquent. I guess it's ok for him to fill his car with reefer smoke as long as he doesn't inhale.

Kiss the Cook

In another food related post, Amybear and I have realized that banana bread is a wonderful food. Why? Because we buy fruit, but rarely end up eating it all before they start to go bad. With bananas, the best time to make banana bread is when the skins have turned so black you wouldn't dare put the bananas in your mouth. But you can process them into a form which is quite tasty.

Both Amy and I like to cook. I like to bake and I'm getting pretty good at making cookies and brownies, as the DCBA members that went to the New Years Party can attest. Our initial attempts at banana bread in our breadmaker resulted in something that was more of a sandwich bread than a desert bread. It was good but not great. Amybear did some research and we whipped up some honest to God desert bread last weekend. Good stuff.

But now when I buy bananas I'm almost rooting for them to wind up disgusting so we can cook with them. Somehow that doesn't seem like a good thing.

Cheesy Tots

If you haven't tried the new "cheesy tots" at Burger King, I highly recommend them. They're a mixture of potato flakes and cheese that are battered and fried. I know, your arteries are hardening just thinking about it. But that means they must taste good right? Get the 12 piece, the pricing structure makes it the best deal by far.

So in summary, Chicken Fries are crap, Stackers are pretty good, Cheesy Tots are excellent.