Thursday, January 31, 2008

Just Like Chef Used to Make

Sometimes my local vending machine has selections that, while potentially tasty, have made interesting marketing choices. Like Crazy 8s from Cloverhill Bakery. Because of how these chocolate donut holes are manufactured, two of them are stuck together looking like a number 8. Or like a part of the male anatomy. They look like the sort of treat that should be sold in the Non-Metal, Non-Mcfarlane section of Spencer's Gifts.

Oh and for those wishing to be multi-cultural, they also come in glazed.

School Violence

From an attack on the Makor Haim High School in Israeli Kibbutz of Kfar Etzion:
The attack took place in the library when the two terrorists, dressed in black, burst into the room and ordered everyone to raise their hands and stand against the wall. The terrorists stabbed two students before their counselors were able to draw their personal handguns and kill the terrorists on the spot.
I can't say that arming teachers and counselors is a way to avoid school violence. What the counselors did was certainly violent. It is however a way to keep the violence short and ensure that most of it is directed at the killers instead of by them.

Perhaps this is a lesson from the International community the Democrats can embrace? Oh wait, it's Israel. They don't count.

Via Kim Du Toit.

Ah Fatherhood

Dadcentric has some great advise for fathers of infants. Like this one:
Wow he's got his baby benching more weight than I can. Via Incoherent Ramblings.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Christians regularly use words that don't see much use outside of Churches. Words like redemption or salvific or, uncommon even in Christian circles, propitiate. Paul Smith brings up one that is used in Catholic circles, but has taken on a completely different meaning in more worldly ones. With amusing results of course.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Amy and I netflixed the 2005 Oscar Winner this weekend. Crash is a series of intertwining character pieces centering on how race and racism can divide people. The film was well crafted and brilliantly edited. Its thesis is that things are f'ed up and the issues are complex. Well gee, that's helpful. In the end it lacks a defining moral and there are no answers.

Crash is like a brilliant portrait of a traffic accident; all wreckage, smoke, oil, and blood without any obvious order. You have no idea what exactly is going on, how things got this way, or what to do next. Just look on it in horror and thank God you aren't involved.

UPDATE: Rearrange, edit, there that flows a little better.

Spiritual Gifts

David Wayne critiques the modern practice of standardized Spiritual Gifts testing and John the Methodist adds his own two cents. Let me add mine...
  1. Even within the Bible, spiritual gifts are not clearly and definitively defined. Paul covers the topic several times. The moral of each passage is the same; that God has given you abilities to use for his glory and the betterment of the Church. But each list he gives is different. Do you compile a test for all of them mentioned across the various epistles? The core gifts that appear in multiple lists?

  2. Many of the gifts are charismatic in nature. Lots of denominations don't think people will start spouting Jeremiah style Prophecy, so they reinterpret it as "speaking God's truth" (e.g. scripture application). Is that correct? Maybe. We really don't know what the Old Testament College of Prophets looked like. Most of the prophets we have records for are not the everyday sort, they're the once in a generation world-changers. Demanding direct connection with God might be like saying everyone with the gift of Evangelism ought to be Billy Graham. Or it might not.

  3. Theological issues aside, most of these tests are actually based on aptitude or inclination not spiritual ability. They're often little more than personality tests. You like to talk to people? Be an evangelist or a pastor/shepherd. You're bookish? Then teach. You like to help meet physical needs: you're a servant. But is that the gift God has given you? Not necessarily. Worse yet, the whole structure of the test is driven by your own perceptions of yourself, which may or may not be accurate. Think of all those American Idol contestants who really think they can sing.
I've seen these tests become crutches and stumbling blocks to many. Some things are jobs every believer should be able to do, like evangelism. If I had a nickel for everyone who used the excuse "that's not my spiritual gift" to get out of a jobing they don't want, I'd have a healthy donation to the church building fund. As if Christ said "Go forth and make disciples of all nations... unless you're a Servant, you guys just show up at church workdays."

If you want to use these things in your church, just call them what they are, aptitude or personality tests. Explain to people that they can help them figure out their talents so they can use them to better the Kingdom, but that they aren't some sort of definitive source for spiritual insight and they don't absolve them of spiritual responsibility.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Don't Feed the Bears

The thesis to LawDog's current post is an admirable one:
Evil is not defeated by submitting to it. Evil is not defeated by running away from it; nor is evil defeated by ignoring it.

Evil is only defeated by fighting back.
He discusses how giving thieves money when threatened is something that generally encourages them to be criminals. Which means they're going to go off and rob someone else. It essentially rewards a thief for having the balls to threaten someone with violence. This is not a good thing. For some reason people don't seem to understand this so let me use a non-crime related illustration.

When people go hiking in the woods, it isn't uncommon for them to run across wild animals. This isn't so much of a problem when they're bunny rabbits or even deer, but it is a problem if you're in territory with bigger predators like bears. Why? Because bears will occasionally eat people if they look tasty or do something they don't like.

As an answer to this, the government issued a recommendation that people run away from bears. Which doesn't work because bears see running as a sign of weakness and they're quite a bit faster than humans. This was then modified to "drop your pack/food and run away." The bears would then go after the food in your pack and you would get away safely. This largely worked. For a while. Then the injury rates started to climb again until they passed previous levels. Well, why would that be?

The answer is that by giving the bears a free meal with no negative consequences, this technique actually encouraged the bears to start hanging around hiking trails to scare hikers. Hiker hippies: "Like whoa, a bear! Like, drop your pack and let's go!" Bear: "Mmm brownies... I wonder what the next guy will give me?"

Since that time, the government recommends you carry bear spray in bear country. Bears don't like getting hit with bear spray. Experienced woodsmen often recommend carrying firearms with an eye for deep penetration, so a 12 gauge loaded with slugs or a rifle in .45-70 might be a better idea. Combined with the "Don't Feed the Bears" signs they put up everywhere, this will hopefully discourage bears from hanging around humans. Everyone ends up happy.

My question is, do you think people are dumber than bears? Bears figured out that a display of violent intent would get them a free lunch. Don't you think people will? The answer is not to drop your pack or wallet and run. The answer is to actively discourage the bears.

And this is also why gun control fails. In the short term, the criminals get scared, but they're rarely prosecuted and they forget. Then the easy buck wins out. And gun control always makes it harder for law-abiding citizens to get guns, which makes the easy buck even easier because honest men and women can't fight back.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

That's Art?

No I'm not writing about a cross in a glass of urine, I'm writing about this wonderful site which covers the finer points of Rob Liefeld's art style. Good Lord, the man is a multi-million dollar earning comics artist and he can't draw feet. Or legs. Or human anatomy in general. Let the mockery commence.

So Easy a Bachelor Could Do It

One of my single male coworkers brought in some incredible chocolate-butterscotch fudge this morning. He says he made it based on this Paula Dean recipe from

A Rifle for the Wife

Amybear has a thing for Sanrio's Hello Kitty product franchise. So for my next rifle build, perhaps I'll try to build a Cute Pink Rifle (CPR) instead of an Evil Black one. Like these guys did:
That isn't a Photoshop, it is a rifle completely refinished by ArmoryAirbrush inside and out.

As a cat owner, I find this to be a very satisfying product on a philosophical level. Sure cats can be cute and fuzzy, but beneath that milk-lapping exterior there beats the heart of a household assassin, ready to dispatch any rodent, bird, or insect foolhardy enough to come within reach of his claws.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Doing What Ya Gotta Do

Such is the Clinton mantra about attack ads and using outright lies against their opponents. Unfortunately it isn't paying off very well in their primary battle against Barack Obama. I guess you can't do that sort of thing to other Democrats.

This morning I saw some actual journalism coming out of the mainstream media. What was it you ask? This morning's GMA showed clips of Hillary misrepresenting Obama alongside clips of what Obama actually said in those instances. They didn't match up at all. Then they did the same for Obama's claims about Clinton. Surprise, surprise he actually told the truth about his opponent.

Not that Obama got a complete pass. He was criticized for distancing himself from past political patron Antoin Rezko, who is currently under federal indictment. Obama claims he only did a few hours of work for Rezko, neglecting to mention that he's received $150,000 in political contributions from him over the years and Rezko helped him finance his house.

Stripping Shotguns

This post at Mr. Completely links to two videos (large and small) from Life, Liberty, Etc. showing how to disassemble a Mossberg 500. My 590 is more stoutly built but is essentially similar. The videos are good, but the resolution on the large video still isn't that hot. When you're taking guns apart, you often have to put parts in very specific places to get them to disassemble. The mossberg in the video looks like a big grainy field of black and I would have a hard time figuring out where those locations were if I didn't already know them.

They have similar videos on their front page and range bag sections which cover field stripping and detailed lower reciever assembly of AR-15s. Those would have been handy to have when I put Mabel together a while back.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

And in Other News

Fred Thompson is out of the race for President, not surprising considering his performance. At this point the only Republican presidential candidate I can stand is Rudy.

Also, Heath Ledger died of a drug overdose this afternoon. Drugs are bad m'kay.

Flunking Out of Electoral College

Geek with a .45 has two posts about recent trends in Maryland and New Jersey to disenfranchise their own state by apportioning their electors according to the results of the national popular vote. This would break down the districting system created by the electoral college that forces candidates to campaign widely instead of narrowly.

It is a stupid idea. Fortunately, once Maryland and Jersey vote one way and the national popular vote goes the other, they will probably turn on their state legislatures and demand a return to some sort of state-wide apportionment system.

If you don't want to go all-or-nothing, then using Congressional districts is probably the only other serious option. I don't like it, because the President will tend to be of the dominant Congressional Party using that methodology, but it might work. The MD/NJ system is just foolishness.

UPDATE: NJ isn't as stupid as I though, their law is designed so it only goes into effect once the majority of electoral votes are determined through the national popular vote. Unfortunately, it also creates a multi-state agreement which, unless Consented to by Congress, is probably Unconstitutional. But hey, when did the Constitution stop New Jersey from doing anything?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Interview Questions

Hube reports the Democratic candidates answers to that most common of job interview questions, "What is your biggest fault?":
John Edwards: My greatest weakness is that I care too much, Tim. For 54 years, I've been fighting. I emerged from the womb with my dukes up, ready to do battle with every fiber of my day-old being.

Hillary Clinton: My greatest weakness is that I get impatient — impatient with people who don't care as much about children as I do.

Barack Obama: My greatest weakness? Sometimes I misplace stuff. I'm a little disorganized. It's probably a good thing I'm not in charge of my own schedule.
Wow nobody said they were a perfectionist or worked too hard? I guess I've been giving the wrong answer for that all these years. I'd better steal a page from the professionals.

Have you ever had an interview for a position you realized you don't want? If that ever happens again, I'm just going to make something up and see what the interviewer does. "My biggest fault? I'm a pedophile. But I only indulge myself on my regular trips to Thailand. I figure I'm only there to smuggle heroine back to the States so it doesn't really count." Or "I'm incredibly flatulent, especially in enclosed spaces like elevators and interview offices. Must be my diet or something. Oh, excuse me."

UPDATE: Actually, were I ever in a political debate, my answer would probably be: "Can I just say I'm a caring, impatient, perfectionist, workaholic like everyone else? Oh wait, I know what my problem is! I don't tolerate wasting my time very well."

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Sarah Connor Chronicles

I watched the premier on Sunday, but not the next episode that they showed on Monday night. It was pretty good, but not amazing. The writing just wasn't wowing me.

The woman playing Sarah Connor seemed too young and her character seemed too stupid. The Sarah Connor of T2 was smart and dangerous and she acted like it. She would wear pants in earth-tones, not pastels and mini-skirts. She would have had a password system so her son would have known whether they were talking to a killer robot or a loved one.

John had the same problem. Young John in T2 was a delinquent, but he was also smart and resourceful. Older John of Chronicles didn't have the same fire. He defers to his mother a lot and came of as a whiner not a doer. Hopefully this will change.

Summer Glau did a good job as she always does. It's nice to see her play someone who isn't crazy for a change even if her character is some sort of reprogrammed killer robot.

The show isn't perfect, but it is worth watching. Plus it is way better than reality TV.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Romney's Out of the Race

For me at least. I heard Mitt Romney giving a pander to Michigan voters on the drive home from visiting family in Connecticut. Romney's statements were something like:
"Michigan has been in a one state recession for years and the Federal government has done nothing for you, I intend to change that."
That statement is just every kind of wrong. If you have only one state in financial difficulty, then by definition you do not have an interstate problem. So by definition the Federal government aught not have a role in fixing it.

The thing that bugs me about bad politics and failed policy is that they act like viruses. It's bad enough that the refuge populations from states like New Jersey and California are setting up shop elsewhere and repeating old mistakes on new ground. When the higher levels of government step in to prop up failed governments, things get even worse. Why should they change when the state or federal government will just fill their coffers with other people's money from less foolhardy states?

If you're in a long one-state recession, that means your state is screwed up not the nation. Don't expect my tax dollars to enable your failed policies. Put your house in order!

UPDATE: Fred Thompson's response to Romney's promises:
He basically promised the federal government would come in and bail out Michigan when he got elected President – very conservative notion, don't you think?
You know I like him more and more.

The Band Meme

From Squeaky Wheel Seeks Grease:
Here’s how it goes. You are about to have your own band’s CD cover. Follow these directions to the letter. It’s fun and requires no thought at all. Go to……
    The first article title on the page is the name of your band.
    The last four words of the very last quote is the title of your album.
    The third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.
  4. Use your graphics program of choice to throw them together, and post the result in your own journal because it’s more amusing that way.
I give you my debut album:

Sadly my album appears to be a James Bluntesque cheesecake pop piece. For alternatives see LawDog and Tamara.

The title is actually the end of this Thomas Sowell quote:
Much of the social history of the Western world over the past three decades has involved replacing what worked with what sounded good.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Great Quotes

This one comes from a poster over at Zombie Squad:
In most situations of female self defense, the woman isn't trying to kill an armed opponent an an act of mutual combat. She is trying to cause him to lose interest in her purse, or temporarily cause him to be unable to maintain an erection.
Very true. Most predators are actually cowards and opportunists. They're doing it for the easy score. Once they realize you aren't an easy score, they're going to lose interest very quickly.

UPDATE: There is another good quote about police response:
When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.
Unfortunately there are still crazies out there when presentation of a gun is not enough. Politics, Guns, and Beer is publicizing a YouTube advocacy piece featuring the audio track of a 911 call made when a crazed attacker was breaking into her home. I can't say it has a happy ending, because the nameless woman will probably see her attacker's face in her dreams for the rest of her life. But that is the only place she will see it. I guess that's a silver lining.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Be Prepared

A Boy Scout saves the life of his country's president. I hope that kid makes Eagle scout and his hand heals up ok.

Wars of Attrition

One of the most despicable legal tactics I know of is filing a mountain of motions in order to bankrupt your opponent. This is what has befallen Melody Byrne in her fight to retain custody of her children from her abusive ex-husband. Now she and her current husband Chris are out of money and need it in a hurry.

I wish they had come forward two weeks ago, I could have written them a generous check. Instead my church received it before the end of last year. Until I receive my next paycheck, anything I can give them will be limited. If you don't have this problem, please hit their tip jar with whatever you can spare.

This tactic is reprehensible and there should be work put into drafting laws to prevent it. Of course most of our politicians are lawyers or are financed by lawyers, so I don't see that happening any time soon.

UPDATE: I fixed the link to Melody's post. It's amazing what an extra set of quotation marks can do.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Bobby's Dating Suzie

Mainstream Baptist actually has something useful to say. It turns out Fox News has had the same man show up in several of their "random" post-debate focus groups. Dr. Prescott wonders how this could be. Perhaps the population size the draw from is very small or, more likely, these people are not random at all. Stupid, stupid Fox.

I've probably aired this particular bit of criticism before, but I want to like Fox News a lot more than I actually do. In theory, having a conservative news source to balance out the others is nice. I wouldn't call Fox balanced in and of itself, but it is more balanced than the major media and when taken with other sources its effect is at least balancing.

The problem is that Fox wanted to be be just like the rest only right-wing and it has done just that. Whenever I turn it on, it just seems like the televised equivalent of the New York Post. This is not a good thing. You see I don't want to watch garbage with a right-wing slant instead of a left-wing slant. Either way, I'm still watching garbage. No thank you.

At what point did the content of our major media outlets become indistinguishable from Junior High lunch tables? I don't care about Laci Peterson, Britney, or Britney's little sister. Can't we keep this stuff in the supermarket tabloids where it belongs?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Is He Living in My House?

Amybear and I have been playing Fairyland together recently. Mostly this was because I don't want her characters to get 'married' to other characters (and therefore other people) in game. I'm strangely possessive of my wife that way. When we play together we are in different rooms and different floors of the house because of the computer locations. We end up text messaging each other like we still live half a continent away from each other. It's odd really. I can't wait for the writers strike to be over so we can go back to prostrating ourselves before the one-eyed God in the same room. To whatever she wants to watch of course.

Harder Than I Thought

JustSayHi - Science Quiz
Free Online Dating from JustSayHi

Mostly because I haven't had any geology or biology since high school. Via AnarchAngel.

Monday, January 07, 2008

How I Get Through Boring Sermons at Church

Update: For those who didn't know, this is from the excellent xkcd webcomic.

The Nature of Conservatism

Joe Carter recently had something very insightful to say about the traditional 3-legged stool model of Conservatism (social, fiscal, defense):
Rural/suburban Republican-voting conservatives--for the sake of identification let's call them "Reagan conservatives"-- don’t make sharp distinctions between the three branches. You won't find, for instance, many "fiscal conservatives" in rural Oklahoma that are squishy on the life issues or think that we should shrink the Armed Forces. In fact, when you hear someone referring to themselves as a "economic conservative" or a "defense conservative" you can almost be assured that they are (a) a libertarian and (b) live or work in an urban area.
Almost completely correct. (b) would be better expressed as "lives in a blue county". Truth be told most people in America don't live in cities proper, but in "urban areas" that encompass both cities and their surrounding suburbs.

Joe brings up a good point though. I have to wonder how Conservatism on the blogosphere is distorted because most "conservative" bloggers aren't. Most of the big blogging names (like Glenn Reynolds, everyone at the Volokh Conspiracy, everyone at QandO, etc.) are really small-L libertarians. You have to wonder what effect this is having on the right side of the blogosphere as a whole.

As an aside, I'm probably going to de-list Evangelical Outpost soon. When I followed Instapundit's link there, I realized that I couldn't remember the last time I had actually visited the site. That's always a bad sign.

The Furry Alarm Clock

Until we bought the cat's automatic feeder, our mornings really were a lot like this:

On the other hand I have no sympathy for this person. When Amybear and I wake up at 8:24, it means the cat has let us sleep in for over two hours. We consider those occasions a precious gift from God.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Talky Talk Talk

Amy and I tuned in to American Gladiators on NBC. We started late and left early, but we both had the same thoughts: less talking more hitting. I don't really care what the competitor felt like when the burly beefcake speared him or that he's hoping to live up the reputation of the NYPD or whatever. I just want him to shut up so someone can hit him or the next guy.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Huckabee on Leno

Didn't watch it, but I heard about it this morning. The morning crew at Mix 106.5 seemed to think that Mike crossing the picket lines to be on Leno was a huge political misstep. Huh? I realize he doesn't have an especially Republican record in Arkansas, but he still has the R next to his name. Why would he be scared of union members who will vote against him anyway? If anything I think Republicans should step up and try to get as much talk show airtime as possible. The Democrats can't afford to piss the unions off, but the Republicans? Milk this for all it's worth.

Fun with Shotguns

After watching this video, I have to buy a bayonet for my Mossberg 590. Now where can I get a head of lettuce?

Dishing the Dog Dirt

Scott Adams tells an amusing story about taking his in-laws dog for a walk without out adequate preparation for poop retrieval:
Later, when my in-laws returned, I told the story. Larry, a laid-back gentleman from Arkansas, turned to his wife Cheryl and drawled “Mollie double-bagged him.” Let me tell you, the only thing that could have made my experience worse was finding out my in-laws have a name for it.
My last family dog was a border collie mix named Rocky. Rocky had the uncanny ability to poop exactly halfway through his walk around the neighborhood. This coupled with his ability to poop one more time than you had bags meant you would have to walk the entire route again to pick up after him. This tendency explained why my Dad lost a fair bit a weight while the dog was still alive.

It struck me that this is a pretty amazing dog ability. After all, he doesn't really know where he's going or how far the walk will be when you set out. Yet he could still poop halfway through it. Maybe he could read your body language or something. Perhaps it was tied to the find-his-way-home sense that dogs supposedly have. I'm willing to bet that the dog who traveled across 9 states to get home did a lot of pooping in state number 5.

Rocky's other super ability was Twinkie detection, but this is understandable for a canine of his girth. Imagine this: you're inside the kitchen. All the house's doors and windows are shut. The dog is in the backyard on his doggie run. You crinkle a Twinkie wrapper and he turns and stares at you with his big Twinkie-lusting puppy dog eyes. And he could do it every time.

The cat doesn't seem to have any potty-related skills other than being naturally neat. I'm thankful for this as my aunt's cats do more crapping around their litter boxes than actually in them. And Milo can open bathroom doors. It's kind of funny that my wife yells at me for looking at the cat while he's in his box, but this very same cat regularly barges in on her whenever she uses the bathroom.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

If You Can't Do... Criticize

I ran across a blog dedicated to mocking webcomics the author feels are inferior. I initially stumbled across them because of their criticism of VG Cats, a comic one of my coworkers is inexplicably nuts over. I noticed they had a critique of Sluggy Freelance that was also dead on: the strip is long in the tooth because the artist can't conclude a storyline to save his life.

That said, the critic doesn't seem to realize that making a strip is hard. Creating deep characterization in a handful of panels is difficult. Dilbert has pretty poor art and shallow characterization, but is wildly successful. TV is the same way. For every sitcom with some depth like The Office, there are a dozen successful series with characters little better than "fat girl," "lazy kid," or "trouble-maker."

Not Knowing Someone is Gone

I returned work today after a long holiday break. And I found out that one of my coworkers, an elderly veteran who fought in both Korea and Vietnam, died over a week ago. He was a major fixture in my workplace. Several others had close relations pass on. It's just odd hearing about them so far after the fact.