Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Wii is Wonderful

The events of Thanksgiving were greatly soothed because my Wii occupied the time of the under 12 set. They're totally engrossed in Wii Sports especially bowling, boxing, and baseball. As any parents will tell you, anything that keeps the kids quiet and well behaved is a good thing. It had the added benefit of giving me clout over the children which was handy at times.

Of course the side-effect is that I'm now wii-giver to them. I walked in the door yesterday and the first words out of every child's mouth was "where's your wii? Did you bring your wii?" I haven't felt so objectified since we first got the cat. I'd neglect to bring the wii tonight to teach them a lesson, but then I'd get dirty looks for their parents because they'd have to deal with their own children again.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Marriage and the Slippery Slope

I read two posts discussing gay marriage this week, both are from a fairly Libertarian perspective. The first is recent one written by John the Methodist reflecting on a Florida ballot proposition. The other is an archived post by Megan McArdle which Kim du Toit linked to a few days ago. They're both good reads, but I'm afraid Megan McArdle's work largely trumps John's. Sorry John.

For example take this paragraph from Locusts and Honey:
Another argument is that gay marriage harms the marriages of heterosexual couples. I just don't see this works. The health of my marriage is dependent upon the emotional health of my wife and me, and our ability and willingness to commit to each other. If a gay couple next door gets married, I simply don't see how it affects us. If a heterosexual marriage is negatively impacted by the gay marriages of others, then it was pretty weak to begin with.
An almost direct response to this comes from Megan McArdle (although it's actually about divorce.)
That's ridiculous! said the reformers. People stay married because marriage is a bedrock institution of our society, not because of some law! The only people who get divorced will be people who have terrible problems! A few percentage points at most!

Oops. When the law changed, the institution changed. The marginal divorce made the next one easier. Again, the magnitude of the change swamped the dire predictions of the anti-reformist wing; no one could have imagined, in their wildest dreams, a day when half of all marriages ended in divorce.
I assume most of the people reading my blog are in a situation similar to my own. You have a lot of respect for the institution of marriage. If you're in one, you're probably committed to making it healthy and lasting. John is right, gay marriage isn't going to change that for us.

But that's only for us. What if you're the marginal case? Someone on the marriage fence. In that case gay marriage is just one more example of how marriage really doesn't mean anything in this day and age. Which is sad, because heterosexual marriage is the bedrock of civilized societies. Married people live longer, are less likely to live in poverty, have more successful and well-adjusted children, etc. It's a good thing. But to them gay marriage is just one more demonstration

And really that's struck me about Megan McArdle's post. Ignoring the bit about income tax, her piece largely documents the slippery slope that the institution of marriage has been on for almost a century. Gay marriage really isn't the start of a slippery slope, it's proof we're nearing its base.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bad Days for Pets

The Byrnes lost a cat to sudden onset kidney failure and have another that is unfortunately on its last legs. John the Methodist's rabbit Hyzenthlay died of cancer.

Milo had a miserable weekend, but is otherwise fine. We went to Amy's parents for a well-attended early Thanksgiving. It was fun for us and Amy got to see a lot of relatives for the first time in a while. Not so much for the cat. He likes his grandparents' place and his grandparents, but he was emotionally overwhelmed through sheer numbers. The three of us are back at home now and he's a lot happier.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

F'ing RINOs

While he may be the last great GOP politician in Delaware, where firearms rights are concerned, he is part of the problem. When I first heard of AWB renewals came out, I was inclined to follow the NRA's suggestions and contact my Congressman. After I did and Castle essentially responded with a message saying he though selling out my fundamental constitutional rights was a grand idea, I stopped bothering.

The Fool Speaks the Truth

My favorite line from yesterday's Big Bang Theory was from Sheldon who said, "I am not going to watch the Clone Wars TV series until I've seen the Clone Wars movie. I prefer to let George Lucas disappoint me in the order he intended."

I rewatched the Genndy Tartakovsky short series a while back and while the force powers were over-the-top (especially true in the first volume), they were still awesome and the characterizations were excellent. General Grievous is badass and defeats multiple Jedi at once. Padawan Skywalker impulsively duels Asajj Ventress only to resort to the Dark Side in order to defeat her. It is Samurai Jack in a time Long Long Ago in a Galaxy Far Far Away. I can live with that.

The current CGI Clone Wars is G.I. Joe, which is far less cool. The good guys kill robots, the bad guys kill clone mooks, and Grievous always escapes to menace another day. They do a few things right. The plots tend to take place in episode arcs rather than rushed single shots. More importantly they get the clones right, especially in episodes like Rookies. I haven't seen any Mandalorian chants, but the clones are shown as individuals and have faces. There is a lot of foreshadowing that the major set piece in the CGI series will be the Battle of Kamino (compared to the Battle of Coruscant in the Tartakovsky series). We'll see if they include some of the morally ambiguous actions taken on the Republic side.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Lightning Bolt! Lightning Bolt!

Was someone caught LARPing or was that Google Street View really performance art?

The Magic of the Internet

It has the power to turning one nerd into four:

I was really impressed until I found out he was lip syncing to a Utah-based acapella group called Moosebutter. If you'd like a counterpoint, there's always Hi-Fidelity's Star Trek barbershop:

They do at least one more Trek-based number.

Via Cassie and Miss Anon.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Obama Commentary from Across the Pond

Amy and I watch the Graham Norton show on BBC America Saturday nights. Norton's opening monologue dealt with Obama's win and the election of the first black president, since it was shot shortly after the election. British comedian Frank Skinner was a guest and made this wonderful statement about premature celebration:
You're not really sure what you're getting with Barack Obama... Robert Mugabe is a black president. They're not necessarily good, are they?
Skinner also remarked that Obama's mixed racial heritage is often overlooked, which is a shame for the growing numbers of interracial families out there.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Economy Night Vision

I must admit that the Eyeclops toy night vision optic looks really cool. I wondered if they worked as advertised since I actually saw the advertisement. Judging from the Amazon reviews, they do.

Yes, the optic is somewhat disorienting. Yes, it's a monocular with a narrow field of view and no depth perception. But guess what? All that is still true even with most current gen military systems. Trust me, I've almost fallen down a flight of stairs while stumbling around in the dark using military training units.

Now I'm not saying that the Eyeclops is equivalent to that military unit. It's a toy that is probably too fragile for a $70 item that you're going to give to a 10 year-old. I'm just saying I wish they'd had these when I was that accident prone 10 year-old.

Anti-Piracy Efforts

The Royal Navy has killed three pirates in a brief firefight after responding to an attack on a Danish cargo ship off the coast of Yemen. International sea law will hopefully still allow them to kill the other pirates on the dhow after a proper trial.

We'll see if the US Navy gets into the act anytime soon. The Navy has largely been sitting out the War on Terror (except for supporting the Marines) and anti-piracy efforts would be a great way for the service to become more relevant. Perhaps some of the littoral combat ships could be put to good use. A cheaper (and probably more effective) alternative would be to field some q-ships for anti-piracy operations in hotspots like the Gulf of Aden or the Strait of Malacca. Or maybe just smaller littoral vessels like Sea Fighter.

The High Road

I'm not sure if anyone here frequents The High Road firearms forum except me, but here is an important tidbit of information: it seems the current .org site has been caught up in a crisis of ownership. Or in other words, it has been stolen.

The long time technical administrator has claimed ownership he doesn't actually have and has hijacked the board (complete history). You may not realize this because he's also banned Oleg Volk (the actual owner) and any Oleg-supporting moderators while deleting any posts that mention what is going on. Oleg has set up a .us site as a temporary alternative to the hijacked original using an older version of the database. I suggest you use Oleg's site for the foreseeable future until things can get worked out and both sites are merged after the dust settles. Unfortunately "worked out" in this case means civil and possible criminal charges against Derek Zeanah, the old admin.

Monday, November 10, 2008

New Gun Shop

A few years ago, I spent a weekend visiting (or in some cases just trying to find) all the gun shops in Northern Delaware. It seems there is now a new one, Patriotic Firearms, which just opened in Meadowood Shopping Center on Kirkwood Highway. I'll have to put my day off tomorrow to good use.

UPDATE: Unfortunately the new gunshop isn't open yet. The display counters are in, but there isn't even any signage yet and definitely no actual product.

I hit two Dick's Sporting Goods and Walmart in search of ammo. Ammo sale prices at both are often quite competitive, especially since you don't need to pay for shipping. No dice. Who ever decided on how to price their .223 stock is an idiot. You can buy 20 rounds for $8 (if by the case), or 50 for $25 (no case price), or 200 for $95. This meant the good deal, a case of 20 round boxes, was gone and no one was buying the more expensive ammo. I did manage to pick up the last box of Winchester 147gr 9mm JHPs at Walmart. I've been wanting to run some of these through my hipower to see how it handles them.

Oh and I came real close to buying a "military" jacket at H&M today. It was essentially an all cotton M65-style shell with a button-in polyfill liner. It was a nice jacket, but I just couldn't get myself to buy it. Then I realized for what they wanted (~$80) I could just buy an M65 with a liner and get a better jacket.

Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga

Amy and I picked this up for Wii on Saturday because we heard it has a great cooperative play mode (it does) and we wanted something to play together. It's a compendium of Lego Star Wars: The Video Game and LSW II: The Original Trilogy. Since then we've played through the first few levels in Episode I. It's a fun platformer. Amy seems to be a darn good shooter, while I'm a better light-saber swinging Jedi. Works for me.

The levels themselves have a lot of replay value. You'll find new things each time and you'll gain access to new areas in free-play mode by using different characters. I've heard things only get better as the Original Trilogy levels are superior to the first game. We'll see what happens when we hit Episode IV.

If there is anything bad about this game, it's how hard it is to find a copy. We tried picking it up at Walmart and GameStop with no luck, but our local Best Buy had a ton of them. It has definitely been worth the $20 I spent once we found one.

Legend of the Seeker

I've watched the first three episodes of the new series based on Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth books. It's alright, but it just seems very pared-down compared to the books.

In the books Richard is an impressive character in his own right. He's smart, inquisitive, and driven. His ability to wield the Sword of Truth is supplied by these traits and by his capacity for righteous anger. If he hadn't been an impressive man, the sword would wield him, not the other way around. As the books progress he has to learn to temper that anger with mercy as he discovers who he really is.

In the TV show, he's just this guy. Not only is he short and wiry instead of a big leading man, but he really doesn't show us why we should be impressed. He's a nice guy and perhaps a do-gooder, but we don't see that drive or fury in him. He is given the sword largely because of prophecy, not because he already demonstrates the attributes that will make him a good Seeker for Truth.

The whole series is kind of like that. Many of the character's backstories have been sanitized for TV. The series has a very Hercules the Legendary Journeys feel to it. The characters walk through the woods a lot and deal with whatever problem comes up that week. It's understandable given that the production teams are largely the same. Perhaps the plot will deepen as it develops while the series progresses? I can only hope.

Friday, November 07, 2008

80s Trivia

Well I got an 87 on this 1980s cartoon trivia quiz. I missed the questions on Rainbow Brite and the Care Bears. I consider ignorance of those programs a virtue not a vice.

Thursday, November 06, 2008


Instapundit reports an Autoblog story about the credit crunch ruining GM hybrid sales. Yeah, I'm betting the $1.98 gas I saw on my drive to work today isn't going to help them much either.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Who is the President-Elect?

Obama won and I don't think anybody is really surprised. It was closer than the polling indicated, but his electoral college victory is undeniable. This is a good thing, because I don't think anyone wanted a repeat of 2000. I think we can all be happy that race relations have come far enough in this country that we have elected a Black president other than Bill Clinton (how did that work anyway?). This still leaves us with some significant questions. My big one is "How will President Obama govern?"

Policy wise, he's a deep lefty, but he's also a practical politician. If he has shown himself to be anything, it is a political opportunist. People were amazed that he had never heard Reverend Wright's racially charged bigotry. The man wasn't attending that church for the sermons, although I'm sure he heard them. He was attending it for the votes and power base it gave him. Where he worshiped was a political decision.

So which opportunities will he sieze upon now? Nobody really knows. Is he going to stand up to his own party in congress and govern in a clinton-era center-left manner? Is he going to tilt deeply socialist? The sad thing is we ought to know the answer to these questions. All we've had for two years is good oration, hopey-changey, blank-slate candidate, followed by policy flip-flop whenever he makes a bad call. The only thing he's stood for is that he isn't George Bush. Which I could already tell because I'm neither blind nor stupid. He has no executive experience to examine and the media hasn't challenged him on anything since the primaries. Even then they were in his corner against Hillary. Wonderful.

If this election has shown me anything, it's that I am no longer supporting anything the MSM puts out if I can help it. They were so deeply in the tank this election, that I don't care to consume their product anymore. It's the internet and maybe some Fox News or nothing.

Oh and it's also time to stock up on some guns. I expect Obama's first acts as President to be a crime bill that is heavy on the gun control and an education bill to replace NCLB that is a teachers union's wet dream.