Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Vivid Political Imagery

From a coworker today:
What do I think is a good plan for Iraq? That's standing in front of a punch bowl full of turds and having someone say "Pick one."
I just had to write that one down somewhere. It is even funnier when you consider that he said it over cake and ice cream.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Ultimate Bible Quiz

You know the Bible 100%!

Wow! You are awesome! You are a true Biblical scholar, not just a hearer but a personal reader! The books, the characters, the events, the verses - you know it all! You are fantastic!

Ultimate Bible Quiz
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From Paul.

Making Change at the Offering Table

From Paul:
Yesterday at Mass, while I was taking up the collection, I saw something I'd never seen in my more than two decades of ushering. A guy held up a $20 bill and asked me if I had a ten he could take back as change. I was so stunned I just answered his question with a "I don't know. I don't keep track of what people put in." He then reached into the basket and found two fives, dropped the twenty in and sent me on my way.
Yeah, that sort of thing happened to me over a year ago. It's something they don't prepare you for in usher school, thats for sure.

Unlike Paul's reaction though, I don't want to invent new commandments. I'm no Pharisee. Live and let live, thats me. That and the mortifying gaze of my pastor and the entire congregation is more than enough deterrent for most people. They don't need God coming down on them too. My senior pastor once rebuked a ringtone during the service just by saying "Hello?" Yea, Jesus calls all service cellphone sinners to repent.


Kim du Toit airs his (and Trey Parker's) grievances about actors, actresses, and their big big mouths. Now I don't necessarily have a problem with big big mouths. I have one after all. But I would like make a few observations:

Actors are generally lefties. There are a lot of reasons for this, some will say it has to do with actors general level of education, etc. Frankly, I think it is because the entertainment industry is highly unionized. Not just the actors, but everyone on set and involved with the process from the grips to the projectionists are staunchly pro-union. So much so that a union projectionist will not show a picture made by a non-union studio. If you wondered why there isn't a right-wing alternative to Hollywood, it is because the unions also control mainstream distribution channels.

Another interesting fact is that actors don't tend to be normal people. And I don't mean in the filthy rich sense. I mean in the psychological sense. I watch a lot of Inside the Actors Studio on Bravo, mostly because it features long interviews with stars talking about something they should know a lot about: acting. They talk about process and a lot of other things. One of the things James Lipton brings up quite frequently is the actor's family life. He regularly notes that most actors are children of divorce. A lot of them admit to using performance as a way to work through their own internal demons and receive the positive feedback they didn't get as children.

When you see an star, remember that you're looking at a union member from a dysfunctional family who probably doesn't have a college degree. Have pity on the poor rich bastard.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Weekends at the Movies


At last a fun, unpretentious western! Salma Hayek and Penelope Cruz play women from different sides of the tracks out to take down an American who is ruining Old Mexico for the benefit of New Yorkers. The stars play off each other well and while the villain was an American, the movie made a point of not making his boss a typical western robber baron. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Guns, knives, cowboys. Except for Steve Zhan's butt. Could have done without that. Amy thought it was boring. If you liked Shanghai Noon, you'll probably like this movie.

The Last Kiss

This movie is well-crafted misery. No one is happy. Everyone is in a failed relationship. It's like someone decided that the romantic comedy (which is what we thought this was when we rented it) had become trite so now it is time for a romantic tragedy instead. Skip it.

Little Miss Sunshine

If you haven't seen this movie you might think that it is a goofy adventure in Volkswagen. To some extent it is, but those parts are really just the comic relief. They're the refreshing lime wedge that makes you forget you're drinking crappy Mexican beer. In actuality this is yet another movie that is dedicated to the concept that went people are most miserable, they are also most interesting.

All the characters are oddballs you don't generally find all in one place in real life, let alone in one family. And they all have their hopes and dreams dashed over the course of the film. But unlike The Last Kiss, it has those goofy scenes to make you smile so it is still bearable. And the ending doesn't suck.

UPDATE: Here are a few more...

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

This movie definitely had its moments. Like anytime Gary Cole is on screen as Ricky's dad. Or the boys, they're quality too. But in places it is almost cartoonish. Ricky walks off screen... Bam! he's healed from a broken arm or stabbing himself in the leg. Not a bad movie, but I expected to laugh harder than I did.

The Devil Wears Prada

Good solid movie. Anne Hathaway plays her usual role as a young awkward woman who learns to be suave and capable. But she's cute and she dresses well and the movie has a good moral. Amy and I both liked it.


Liked it. This is a good movie you can watch with your kids. No cursing, but good action and dramatic tension, a little romance, good acting and photography. Frankly a lot of different themes are developed well. Plus I'm a big Eagles fan so what wasn't to like. Amy fell asleep but wanted to know what happened in the movie whenever she woke up.

Dresden Files on TV, Take 2

Yesterday's episode saw some definite improvement. Bob the Skull still isn't quite himself, but they got Harry and Murphy's characters mostly right. Murphy was tough and annoyed with Harry and she didn't know what to believe for most of the episode. That's just about right for Murphy in the early books. Harry's tactics also seemed par for the course. Harry escalates the situation and things get worse. Then he makes the villain so angry that the villain screw up. Oh and the ghost seemed to break a lot of tech when she became active, also a good sign from the books.

Of course the devil is still in the details. Murphy is a police Lieutenant, yet she has a cubicle? Harry is a wizard means he should break high tech equipment just like the ghost, yet he still seems to do ok around his client's computer. Oh and the shield bracelet didn't work right. Harry isn't Wonder Woman. He doesn't deflect things with the bracelet itself, he uses it as a tool to create a force field around him. But it's a detail.

But it was a pretty good episode and I'm pretty happy with it.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Analysis Toys

Gapminder from Google lets you display any number of national statistics and map out how they change with time. For instance you can watch Zimbabwe die under Robert Mugabe. Neat nerdy stuff. Via Sandmonkey

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Blitzer vs. Cheney

No word whether the Vice President offered to take Wolf bird hunting after this oh so awkward exchange.

And the Winner of Miss Universe is...

The Dark Side of Saturn. This was the most popular image from the Cassini-Hugyens photo contest, but others are also worth a look. Ain't Creation grand?

Losing Family

John the Methodist lost one of his rabbits yesterday. Inlehain was only four, which is fairly young for a domesticated rabbit.

Pet Diary 2: The Dog

Amybear found this on a diary site and we though it was hilarious:
Day number 180


Day number 181


Day number 182

1:30 pm - ooooooo. bath. bummer.

Pet Diary 1: The Cat

Excerpts from a Cat's diary courtesy of one of Amybear's friends:
DAY 752 - My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while I am forced to eat dry cereal. The only thing that keeps me going is the hope of escape, and the mild satisfaction I get from ruining the occasional piece of furniture...Tomorrow I may eat another houseplant.

DAY 761 - Today my attempt to kill my captors by weaving around their feet while they were walking almost succeeded, must try this at the top of the stairs. In an attempt to disgust and repulse these vile oppressors, I once again induced myself to vomit on their favorite chair...must try this On their bed.

DAY 765 - Decapitated a mouse and brought them the headless body in attempt to make them aware of what I am capable of, and to try to strike fear into their hearts. They only cooed and condescended about what a good little cat I was... Not working according to plan.

DAY 768 - I am finally aware of how sadistic they are. For no good reason I was chosen for the water torture. This time however it included a burning foamy chemical called "shampoo." What sick minds could invent such a liquid. My only consolation is the piece of thumb still LODGED between my teeth.

DAY 771 - There was some sort of gathering of their accomplices. I was placed in solitary throughout the event, however, I could hear the noise and smell the foul odor of the glass tubes they call "beer.." More importantly I overheard that my confinement was due to MY power of "allergies." Must learn what this is and how to use it to my advantage.

DAY 774 - I am convinced the other captives are flunkies and maybe snitches. The dog is routinely released and seems more than happy to return. He is obviously a half-wit. The bird on the other hand has got to be an informant, and he speaks with them regularly. I am certain he reports my activities. Due to his current placement in the metal room his safety is assured. But I can wait, it is only a matter of time...

Galactica Plot Twist Revealed

Gasp! I should have known.

And in other comics, today's Dilbert is hilarious.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Some Titles Suck

Take this headline from Yahoo! News: U.S., Iraqi troops clash in Baghdad

Makes it sound like American and Iraqi troops are fighting each other, doesn't it? Nope. As usual US and Iraqi forces are fighting against insurgents side by side. The story was written by Kim Gamel of the Associated Press, but the funny thing is that she probably didn't write the title. That work is usually farmed out to others (like Dawn Eden) who are trying to make the piece catchy in five words or less. This time perhaps six words was too few because they left out an important object to "clash."

Republican Presidential Hopefuls

A lot of people are starting to opine about the upcoming presidential race: Tamara, Kim, Steve.

I'm uncomfortable with my prospective choices. Why? Take the gun rights stances of the various candidates (which Kim reposted from Dave Kopel). They're varied. Generally the Democrats are bad and the Republicans are good. Unfortunately most of the big name Republicans like McCain, Romney, and Giuliani are at the bottom of the list with the Democrats. Me no likey.

It is possible that if the Dems nominate someone particularly odious and the Republicans do likewise, I may vote third party for the first time in my life. And if I vote third party it will be as close to straight ticket as I can manage. But the thought of actually voting for some Libertarian nutjob (or Mike Protack) fills me with dread.

Gruesome and Truesome

Kim du Toit led me to this post with graphic pictures (and I'm not kidding) of what happened to a cop after he tried to "disarm" an assailant carrying a knife. The cop lived, but suffice it to say that disarming his foe didn't go so well for him.

Knives (especially large fixed-bladed knives) are classified as deadly weapons for a reason folks. If someone is threatening you with a knife and is within 7 yards of you, just shoot them. Make them pay the price from bringing a knife to a gunfight. If they break into a run, they can close the distance and stab you with it in about a second. Maybe two if they're really slow. For God's sake at least draw your gun on them. Once they're running then drawing, firing, and stopping them before they get to you with that knife is damn near impossible. If you have the gun out already, then you might be able to do it.

Oh and also keep in mind that most modern body armor protects against bullets (wholesale amounts of blunt trauma) not blades like knives. Blades slice through the kevlar fibers, bullets stretch them. It is a completely different damage mechanism. That cop probably was wearing a vest and look how much it didn't help him. Or not if you're planning on eating soon.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Japanese School Stories

Azrael has been posting new stories from his career as an English teacher in Japan over at Gaijin Smash. Previously he had just been reposting stuff from his previous site. Definitely worth a read.

Kitty Zeppelin

Darn viking cats and their loud rock music.

Monday, January 22, 2007

So That's Who Painted That...

My parents may still have Head of Christ hanging over the mantle on our non-functioning family room fireplace.

Rapid Prototyping on the Desktop

What with me being a really big nerd and all, you would think that I'd consider a project like Fab@home to be really cool. A 3D printer you can make at home with readily available parts on open source software! Faboo!

It just doesn't do anything for me. I can't help but think that the desktop CNC mills that I mentioned earlier are a better way to go right now. They are also driven with OS software and the hardware costs are similar, but you can make finished quality metal or plastic parts instead of slopping looking stuff made from hot glue.

Part of me wonders if Fab@home wouldn't work much better if they had based the unit around a desktop CNC design like Sherline produces. They could have replaced the cutting head and motor with an injector unit. Unfortunately I think their simple syringe injector design itself may be why the final part quality isn't impressing me much.

UPDATE: The RepRap project seems to have the right idea. Mostly. It's aiming for a final cost of about $400 and you can build things out of actual plastic. But I really would rather not have to make my own circuit boards. The Tommelise project is trying to emulate RepRap but it's even cheaper because he's using wood instead of metal. I'm not sure how I feel about that. I think I'd really prefer to have a metal frame and the RepRap metal frame design isn't difficult to produce.

UPDATE2: Sears sells (or perhaps sold since it isn't on their website anymore) a CNC woodworking mill for ~$1800. Interesting, but still not what I'm looking for. I'm rarely going to want to work large metal parts. I'm not trying to build a car here. On the other hand I live in a house (or will when I have something like this), so working large wooden parts is great. I suppose I could turn out some pistol grips with this, but...

Comparing Rights

Geek with a .45 compares the redtape surrounding two civil rights: keeping and bearing arms and voting.

Cat Pics

While this site doesn't have enough Orange Tabby pics, a lot of them a hilarous nonetheless. Via Tamara.

The Dresden Files

So far I've read the first four novels in Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series. They're good genre benders that are a blend of detective novel and modern-day fantasy. So when Sci-fi aired the first episode of TV show based on it, I was ready and waiting.

And now I'm officially disappointed. If they had made Dresden Files a magical take on a TV genre (like CSI with magic), it wouldn't have been the books, but it still could have been good. This episode was very monster of the week and I was waiting for Buffy to show up. And I like Buffy, but Harry isn't Angel. Characters like Bob the Skull and Murphy were different than the novels. Even Harry was different really. Harry isn't much of womanizer, yet you see him waking up with the blond in the first scene of the show. Harry isn't a finesse wizard, he's a brute powerhouse. Heck, he's not a finesse guy, he's a bull in a china shop. You don't see either of those things. And instead of just taking the skinwalker down with his blasting rod, he uses a typical Buffy-style magical trinket. And they got basic magical concepts wrong as well (like the magical threshold on a dwelling).

But I don't dislike all the changes. Bob is a ghost now. Oh well. Justin, Harry's evil mentor, is also his uncle. Interesting. And they have to fill up a lot of TV time, so this could make for a solid arc. Jeep instead of VW Bug, fine. Dropping out the pentacle in some scenes, sure as a symbol that is probably grief they don't need.

So I'm withholding judgement, but I'm getting pessimistic. The second episode doesn't look any better. Maybe it's because they're airing the show out of order. The serialization of the first Dresden novel, Storm Front, doesn't air until episode 5ish. It was shot as the initial two hour movie. Maybe they're trying to give people what they know (Buffy) to get them interested before they give them something they don't recognize. I don't know, but I'll continue to give it the benefit of the doubt for a bit.

Amy kind of liked it and is going to read some of the books now, so hey it couldn't be all bad right?

Friday, January 19, 2007

The 2nd Amendment

Ryan at Jokers to the Right has a brief discussion about why the Second Amendment exits:
The twin purposes of self and community defense may very well lie behind the Second Amendment’s language encompassing both the importance of a well-regulated militia and the right of citizens to keep and bear arms. As the constitutional and criminal law scholar Don Kates has noted in the journal Constitutional Commentary, thinkers at the time when the Constitution was written drew no real distinction between resisting burglars, foreign invaders or domestic tyrants: All were wrongdoers that good citizens had the right, and the duty, to oppose with force.
I'm more amazed that Delaware manages to have such a restrictive Gun Rights climate when our state version of the Second Amendment reads as follows:
A person has the right to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, home and State, and for hunting and recreational use.
Delaware has both complete prohibitions on some types of arms (most Federal Class III weapons) and a number of prohibitions on possession and open carry of arms. I wonder if any of these have been tested in court?

Dead Men Speak

Several conservative blogs, Michelle Malkin's among them, are reprinting 2nd Lt. Mark J. Daily's myspace post "Why I Joined". Daily and three of his soldiers were killed in action this week at the age of 23.

Thomas Jefferson said that ""The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." The biggest problem of this war is that we seem to be losing so many of the former and so few of the latter.

The Parts Box

Sometimes this sounds familiar:
If I dropped a barrel, an upper receiver, and a lower in there and shook the box real hard, another carbine would fall out.
I currently have a bunch of gun parts sitting around at home in a box. Mostly it's just grips, stocks, sights, or scopes. I can't assemble an extra gun with this stuff though.

But the AR is an easy gun to have this "problem" with. One of the reasons I built mine to spec was that I didn't want to have a lot of extra trigger and upper parts just lying around.

Bible Quiz Time

De at the Thinklings is right, the advanced Red Letter Quiz is tough. I pulled 10 out of 10 on beginner, 8 out of 10 on Intermediate, and about 5 of 10 on Advanced.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The New Baptist Covenant

Paul, being Catholic, asked what this whole thing is about. The answer is politics of course, both national and denominational.
Former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton have proposed the establishment of a broadly inclusive alternative Baptist movement to counter what they called a negative image of Baptists and to address poverty, the environment and global conflicts.
How broadly inclusive is it?
About 80 leaders of 40 moderate Baptist organizations claiming to represent 20 million Baptists in the United States, Canada and Mexico met at the Carter Center for the announcement. Leaders from the Southern Baptist Convention were not invited to attend.
Conservatives have a pretty strong hold on the Southern Baptist Convention right now. That would have me dancing with glee if it weren't for the fact that these folks are probably way to the right of me. The kind of folks LawDog might call "Shia Baptists". They are not the sort of people who react well to people dancing with joy at the suffering of others, but mostly because it involves dancing. In comparison, my Baptist church actually holds an annual dinner and dance for us young folks. (Coming up on February 3rd!) I suppose it's a good thing my church belongs to the Baptist General Conference.

So I'll admit that the conservatives aren't necessarily doing good things with the convention. There have been concerns with new restrictive rules governing SBC supported missionaries for instance. There was talk of pushing some type of formal creed onto some other SBC supported groups. And of course they're treating the Calvinists well. That last one was sarcastic by the way.

Of course this new organization isn't actually about those problems. It's about spreading peace, love, and understanding. But not the Peace of Christ, Love of God, or Understanding of Eternal Salvation. No, then we wouldn't be respecting people's beliefs. No this would mostly be through handout programs which will barely allude to the person of Christ, even by name. Oh and loud political statements which probably don't respect Romans 13 very much.

Now don't get me wrong, stewardship of the environment and feeding the hungry are important things. But they should not exist in a vacuum. Christ didn't just feed the hungry, he did it to show who his Father was. It was a means of leading people to him and therefore to God. Christians need to follow that example. I have a great fear that this group, like most liberal religious groups, will have aims that are deeply political and shallowly spiritual.

"24" is to Benefit Bush Administration

Or so says Keith Olbermann. If the Bush Administration wishes to respond, might I suggest: "Countdown with Keith Olbermann is to benefit the Democratic Party."

Lets face it, 24 is a dramatic program about fighting terrorists. Incidentally, it is largely made by Democrats. Countdown is a news show. It is also largely made by Democrats, some of them strongly partisan like Olbermann. Which one bothers you more fiction or "non-fiction" made by political partisans?

The political overtones of "24" are also decidedly mixed as far as I can tell (since I don't watch the show). Yes the terrorists are all Islamic, but all the "good" politicians seem to be Democrats. David Palmer, Wayne Palmer, and even Jim Prescott seem to be portrayed as principled men. Sure they can be manipulated into making bad decisions, but they are properly guilt ridden afterwards. The Republicans, John Keeler and especially Charles Logan, don't have such good luck. Keeler seems to be a dirty dealer in his election campaign in Season 4 and Logan is revealed as both a weak president and a primary conspirator to a number of terrorist plots in Season 5.

Via Felix.

Helms Deep in Candy

This nerd diarama would bother me if they made it out of candies I actually eat. Had it been chocolate, my wife and I would have probably snuck into their home and eaten their holiday's work.

Foul Weather

Heh. When I was in Grad School I once went to the lab in a hurricane. I had a meeting scheduled with someone. People thought I was crazy until I told them our adviser actually walked through the lab.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Hurrying Home

I got a call from an aggravated Amybear at work. It seems she couldn't get The Club we now use religiously off of her steering wheel. The lock wouldn't turn. And she had to drive to work. She's not happy.

I finish what I'm doing at work and hurry home. Yup the locks locked up tight alright. I spray a couple of short spurts of CLP into the keyhole on the lock and now it opens like a charm. Once more I have proven my manly worth to my wife. And finagled the afternoon off from work for a "family emergency." Any of my coworkers reading this are not to tell my boss that I'm already done fixing her car.

Now lets see if CLP can work its magic on the rough lock on our front door.

UPDATE: Amy is now requesting her own bottle of CLP. Steamboat Willy is wrong about CLP being good for everything. I think Ballistol holds the title for that. It cleans and protects smokeless, black powder, conditions leather, and does a host of other things. I heard some people even put it on crackers, but they might be joking about that. Might.

Russian Engineering

I believe this may be the first time Estonians have celebrated on seeing a Russian tank. A local historical society unearthed (literally!) a Russian T34 after 60 years and took pictures of the event. How did they know it was there?
...a local boy walking by the lake Kurtna Matasjarv noticed tank tracks leading into the lake, but not coming out anywhere. For two months he saw air bubbles emerging from the lake. This gave him reason to believe that there must be an armoured vehicle at the lake's bottom. A few years ago, he told the story to the leader of the local war history club "Otsing". Together with other club members, Mr Igor Shedunov initiated diving expeditions to the bottom of the lake about a year ago. At the depth of 7 metres they discovered the tank resting under a 3-metre layer of peat.
They pulled it out with a large bull dozer. The result?
After the tank surfaced, it turned out to be a 'trophy' tank, that had been captured by the German army in the course of the battle at Sinimaed (Blue Hills) about six weeks before it was sunk in the lake. Altogether, 116 shells were found on board. Remarkably, the tank was in good condition, with no rust, and all systems (except the engine) in working condition.
116 shells aren't as fun as you might think. The Army Ordnance Museum here at APG has a bunch of tanks parked on concrete pads in a field. By "parked" I mean slowly rusting away because of exposure to the elements. A storage compartment on one rusted out once a while back and several live rounds tumbled out of the tank. I think the curators had to call the base bomb squad.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Tower Defense

A coworker has been min/maxing his way through this game. It really is quite addictive and fun.

He's Baaaack...

I remember first seeing Troy Hurtubise on a TLC special (or Discover Channel or whatever, who can tell the difference?) about the Ursus armors he developed. It involved him getting hit by a truck while wearing one. He even asked a biker gang to try to beat him up.

Anyway, Hurtubise is back with a proposed military version of the aforementioned bear armor. Looks interesting at least...

Friday, January 12, 2007

Alaska Statehood

Ah that explains it. I had thought we were going to use it as a source of polar bears or something, but all that time we were just flanking Canada.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Everybody's Heard about the Surge

QandO currently has the best overall coverage on my normal reading list. They have a bullet point breakdown of the speech and general reaction piece. McQ also has general thoughts and analysis of the troop surge.

Hopping Mad

The price of hops is up 25% from this time last year. Thankfully, I'm a scotch drinker. Because its economical. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Nutjobs on the Right

From Tamara:
I have no real love for the peccadilloes and strange beliefs of the Right. From politicians with a tenuous grasp of the Constitution to preachers sticking their noses where they don't belong, I get a twinge of annoyance at least once a day. It remains largely an annoyance, however, as so much of what they hold dear has very little impact on me in my daily life
She continues a little later with:
The Left has had less influence at the national level for the last decade than an outboard motor would have on the course of a supertanker, but with the convulsion of November '06, that has all changed, and suddenly they're out to really get me good and surly, because they're not after my Good Times, they're after my money.

The sophisticated Blue State city-dwelling agnostic may mock the tent-revival evangelical's belief that "With God, everything is possible", yet he somehow leaves unexamined the fact that he believes the same thing, except that "God" is replaced by "legislative fiat".
Yeah. At least some people on the right, including Christian Nutjobs like me, are for smaller government. Which means I have no desire to spend your money to support my nutjob programs. I'm pretty confident we can fund our nutjob programs ourselves if the government would just get off of our back. At least we can if they're worth doing. And since we want them off our back, we're probably going to try to get them off yours as well just to be fair.

While that belief unfortunately isn't universal even among the Rightwing Christian Nutjobs, it is still fairly widespread. Even more unfortunately the nutjobs on the left have no such sense of propriety. They all want the government to do everything and therefore they want you to support and defend their nutjobbery by proxy.

As Hube has noticed, there are those who disagree with my assessment. But frankly I don't think those heralds of future Christian Fascism really get right-wing Christian Nutjobs like me. They fail to realize that we only have consensus across a some broad moral principles like abortion, homosexuality, and sex before marriage. You know, things most of the country had consensus on before the 1960s and 1970s stirred everything up. But on any kind of religious specifics, we'd rip each others throats out long before we could impose some sort of rules on the rest of the country. I don't mind praying with Catholics and Pentecostals, but I definitely don't want to give them the ability to legislate how I pray. I don't want to have to learn Latin for the Catholics or, uhh, pig latin (Esperanto? Hebrew?) for the Pentecostals.

Look, Wikipedia has a list of over 60 Baptist groups in the US. That means there are over 60 groups of Baptists that can't reach consensus on their church government. And thats just one denomination. If the Baptists are incapable of getting our differences worked out among ourselves, how the heck are we going to impose them on other people?

Hube once told me that he isn't a fan of organized religion. I told him I wasn't either, that's why I'm a Baptist.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

A Sad Day for Amy

The creator of Scooby Doo died today of heart failure at the age of 81. Man, those Japanese guys are dropping like flies.


From Paul:
The Eagles won!

The Giants lost!

The Cowboys lost!

The only thing that could make it better would be for the Yankees to somehow lose!
Amen to that brother.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Smalltime Survivalism

A recent thread at Kim du Toit's place on disaster preparedness has me looking forward to when Amy and I have a house. Kim and his wife have a good series of posts on this subject including:Why am waiting until we have a house? In a word, space. Right now, Amy and I have a healthy amount of emergency supplies around the apartment. I have my guns (but oddly enough I may not have enough holsters). I buy ammo in bulk to save money so I generally have plenty of it. We have portable radios (AM/FM and shortwave), a compass, flashlights, maps, tools, duct-tape, toilet paper, etc. We even have a decent stock of first aid supplies. Both Amy and I have basic first aid training.

But while we live close to enough running water to keep us happy, we don't have any way to make it potable should the faucets stop working. We don't have room to store more than a few days of food. Other than our fireplace, we don't have a place to cook food in the case of a power outage. And there aren't good solutions to the last two problems given the size of our apartment and the restrictions our complex's fire code puts on us.

But a house should give us the needed space to fix these problems pretty easily. A pantry full of canned goods will give you enough food for a while. A gas or charcoal grill will let you cook it. I might even look into a generator that could keep the fridge/freezer running for a few days if we didn't have power.

But then again we do live in Delaware. We don't have major natural disasters like hurricaines or earthquakes and even tornadoes are rare. A heavy snow or ice storm will only shut down the state for a few days at best. Even then we live within easy walking distance of our local grocery store. We live high enough above our nearby creek that I doubt we'll get flooded. Which basically leaves a riot or other breakdown in polite social order and I don't see that happening in Newark. So I'm not too worried.

UPDATE: Kim has a good list of solid survival supplies.

Pot Bellied Kitties

Get Fuzzy is right, "scruffy, averaged-sized, with a little pot belly" does describe every cat I've ever met. Except Milo, his special diet has given him quite a large pot belly now.

Other People Shooting

Dale Franks is a new NRA member and discusses his recent trip to the range over at QandO. His lovely wife (I assume) takes some pretty good pictures of the back of his head.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Rest in Peace Momofuku Ando

It seems the inventor of instant ramen noodles died yesterday at the age of 96. Phd has a tribute comic. Thanks for getting me through grad school Ando.

Friday, January 05, 2007

The Fruits of Meta-blogging

Have you ever realized that you don't have to read a blog because everything worth reading is meta-blogged by others you read more regularly? That was my experience with the Boars Head Tavern. The signal to noise ratio was pretty bad (largely because they don't thread) and whenever someone said something good (or perhaps something unusually foolish) it showed up on several of the other blogs I also read. So since I like to keep my blogroll lean, they disappeared.

There's a good example of this over at the Thinklings. Michael Spencer of the BHT and Internet Monk takes issue with Jay Bakker's theology. Bakker's church is pro-homosexual largely because he empathizes with them as a persecuted group and he feels (feel being the accurate word) that God does likewise. Now I agree that God feels for the persecuted, but I don't think he does it to the exclusion of things like morality or speaking the truth. Righteousness and love are not telling people that they aren't sinning. Righteousness and love are showing people how not to sin by introducing them to someone who never has.

The rest of the Thinklings post is equally good. Jared largely skirts over the Constructive Curmudgeon's 15 Refusals where he lists what are essentially anti-resolutions. I don't like these sorts of lists very much. Both the list and the list writer seem rigid and judgmental. Where is the love?

Jared unintentionally gives a very good counterpoint to the refusals a bit later:
  1. Loving our neighbors.
  2. Blessing our enemies.
  3. Reading our Bibles more frequently and deliberately.
  4. Worshiping with other believers weekly.
  5. Praying more fervently.
Yup, that's a pretty comprehensive to do list.

Samurai Cat

So this is what Miaowara Tomokato's armor would look like.

I don't think I could shoehorn Milo into that getup though. Most of the suits don't let the cat use his main weapon: his mouth. They also keep them from using their ears properly. On the other hand, given how much Milo loves wearing clothes, not being able to use his mouth isn't much of a disadvantage.

The samurai armor isn't the only one on that site. If you want to create some warped feudal version of Tom & Jerry, there are mouse armors as well.

Via MAKEblog.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Shot to the Head

Now this is an interesting story that has been sitting in my draft bin for a week or two:
In the middle of Joshua Bush's forehead, two inches above his eyes, lies the evidence that prosecutors say could send the teenager to prison for attempted murder: a 9 mm bullet, lodged just under the skin.
Bush is fighting a legal battle against having the bullet removed. Removal won't injure him, but considering the effort he is making, it probably will send him to jail.

For those not in the wound ballistics "know" head shots are tricky things. Not only is the head a smaller are more erratically moving target than the torso, but the skull is also round and fairly hard. It is covered in highly elastic skin and tissue that is easy to penetrate into, but hard to penetrate out of. When you combine these things together you can have bullets do wacky things, like penetrate the skin, skip off the hard bone of the skull, but not exit the head because of the elasticity of the skin. It is possible, but certainly not probable, for a bullet to do a complete 360 of someones head.

That probably isn't what happened to young Joshua though. He probably caught a ricochet in the forehead despite his prospective victim's statement that "I just can't believe I missed him at that distance." The assailant was standing in a darkened alley at the time.
Tammie Bush, the teen's mother, disputed allegations her son is a gang member.

"We know he's not a criminal," she said. "He's a good kid."
Keep in mind Bush admitted to being a part of the robbery, just not a part of the related robbery shooting. So he's already admitted to being a criminal at this point. Ah mothers...

Federal Crime Commission

Several police chiefs are reacting to increasing crime statistics by proposing a federal crime commission to look into what is going on, what works, and what doesn't. Here's Diamond Joe:
Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., instrumental in passing the Clinton administration program to hire 100,000 additional police officers, says more money for additional officers and resources — not a commission — is needed to drive down rising crime.

"We don't need a commission to tell us what works," says Biden.
Actually getting people together to figure out what works and then disseminate that information is extraordinarily useful. Commissions, either on crime or education, are programs I can really support. Instead of the Federal government passing a law that will almost certainly require them to meddle in local affairs, they produce a set of recommendations for what has worked in different areas. Local jurisdictions can adopt them or not (as they feel is appropriate). And the return on investment to the taxpayer is quite good.

Want an example? A recent statistical analysis of the Brady Campaign's state-by-state gun control ratings show that they are completely detached from actual violent crime statistics. Or, in other words, gun control doesn't work. Wouldn't that have been nice to know earlier?

Biden is right though, general recommendations from any commission are likely to be along the lines of lots of cops, lots of convictions, and lots of years in prison. Those things will certainly work, but isn't it also possible to have too many cops or the wrong kinds of cops? For instance, SWAT teams have been used to break into the homes of little old ladies or raid neighborhood card games in the last few years. Why? Largely to justify their existence to the tax payer. You have to wonder if there is a point of diminishing returns with some of these policies.

I have to wonder if we couldn't do better with a return to a more distributed approach to crime prevention. That is to say, instead of asking the federal or even local governments to get involved in the gritty details of our day to day lives, ask the citizens to get to know their neighbors and watch out for each other. Then empower them to defend themselves and each other with good laws that favor the innocent instead of the criminals. You just can't spend enough government money to protect everyone, but if you create a climate of individual empowerment where many people will spend their own money to protect themselves.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Medical Correlations

In another story from Instapundit, education is a leading determiner of longevity. It swamps health insurance and a many other factors. For Insty:
I'm not sure that the causal relationship is there. It may just be that idiots are more likely to drop out of school, and also to die young as a consequence of idiotic behavior. As John Wayne said, life is tough, and it's tougher when you're stupid.
Education correlates well, not because it increases life span but more likely because people with the determination and foresight to favor education also have the determination and foresight to eat right, exercise, etc.

There is a similar old saw in the self defense world: you are your best defense. This isn't because with training you can equal a commando or assassin or what-have-you. It is because ultimately hired security or whatever aren't going to be around every moment of the day. They aren't for the Queen of England, so they sure won't be for you. You and what you have on hand are the only defenses which will be present every second of every day. Wherever you go, there you are.

The Anti-Qaeda

Instapundit lead me to this TCS article on combating non-state terrorist groups using a similar distributed organization that holds itself above the law. It really worries me.

We've had such organizations before although never on an international scale. In the US such groups generally referred to themselves as Committees of Vigilance. A good Committee forms to deal with a specific threat, defeats it, and by doing so re-establishes legal order. Then they disband. A bad committee quickly degenerates into just another competing pack of thieves and killers. Vigilance Committees are never good things. But, I would argue, they have sometimes been necessary in the history of the Republic and, as such, have been necessary evils. The creation of a group like an Anti-Qaeda seems like making a similar monster.

That said, I have to wonder if the real lesson of this story and the war in general isn't a little different. To win an insurgent war, a nation must to either be willing to crush them and any related populations or be on the insurgents side. North Vietnam formed the Viet Cong to destabilize the South. Iran is backing Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi army. Why don't we start training pro-democratic insurgents in Iran and/or Syria? I'm not seeing a huge downside to it.

UPDATE: From Instapundit on January 4th:
It's been obvious that Iran is behind much of the internecine slaughter in Iraq. I don't understand why we haven't been returning the favor by fomenting insurrection in Iran -- or what made the mullahs so confident that we wouldn't. I continue to wonder if they've managed to deter us from significant action, somehow.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Foxtrot Ends Dailies

Bill Amend is taking the strip Sundays only for the foreseeable future. He wants to take some time off after doing the strip every day for almost twenty years. I've been a big fan of the strip (like Paul) for quite a while. My coworkers and I especially enjoyed the Halloween coloring strip that involved factoring large numbers to color in the proper numbered blocks. I guess that makes us techno-masochists or something.

UPDATE: It could be worse though, he could be pulling a prank like this.