Friday, September 28, 2007

vote buying, once more.

Via pdb, we find out that Hil wants to give five thousand dollars to every newborn child. pdb rightly points out that those five grand per kid sum up to twenty billion dollars per year, every year. That money doesn't just materialize out of thin air, of course--it has to be confiscated from productive citizens first.

Like someone in the Comments section at pdb's blog points out, there'll be a jump in the purchases of $5K spinning rims among new parents. Hell, can you think of a better incentive for welfare mommas to pump out even more kids? Not only do they get increased payments from Uncle Sugar for each additional kid they can't feed to begin with, but now they'll get a nice lump sum payment on top of that, too. If I was in the habit of voting for whoever promises me the most money out of my neighbor's pocket, there's no way I wouldn't vote for Hil.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

quiet day.

I took the kids over to our weekly play date at a friend's house. We usually alternate between indoor playtime and trips to the zoo or the park.

When Quinn was sitting down for lunch with his little pal Greta, they started squealing at each other in turn. One of them started, and then the other responded, and for a few minutes, they had a great time having a squeal conversation and laughing their little heads off at each other.

It's kind of hard to have a bad day after watching a three-and-a-half year old and a two-and-a-half-year old conversing in high-pitched sounds and then sharing belly laughs.

In other news, the magic elf box under my desk is now a Core2Duo system, thanks to the humbling and amazing generosity of my friend Mark. Those new Intel Core 2 chips are something else...half the heat and two thirds the power consumption of the Pentium 4 line, and twice the performance. My old Pentium 4 runs at 2.8GHz, and the new C2D is clocked at 1.86GHz, but the C2D canes the P4 in every conceivable category by a very wide margin, despite running at a gigahertz less. I need to wait a few more days for the new video card to get here, but once that spare PCI-E slot holds some nVidia goodness, I'll be making MS Flight Simulator X my bitch.

(If you didn't understand half of the previous paragraph, you're probably not a computer geek, and you may safely disregard everything past "belly laughs".)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

bad form.

The Blogosphere is all over Iranian President Mahmoud Acnefacejihad, who made some pretty outrageous statements during his speech at Columbia University.

I have mixed feelings on the issue.

Sure, the guy is nuttier than a shithouse rat. He's a Holocaust denier, he wants to see the Jews wiped off the map, his Army's Quds Force is actively supporting Iraqi insurgents and probably actively participating in killing American soldiers, and he's putting together nukes in his basement while thumbing his nose at the League of Nat...err, United Nations.

That said, I think it's rude and boorish of Columbia University to invite the guy and then insult him--no matter how deserved those insults are. If you think he's that abhorrent, don't invite him, and don't give him a pulpit. Once you invite someone into your house, the laws of hospitality dictate that you not only treat them well, but also protect them to the best of your ability. Inviting someone with the sole purpose of insulting and denigrating them is just plain bad form. Again, it doesn't matter how much he deserves it--if you want to tear a guy a new one, you don't pretend to invite him over for beer and brats just so you can do it in your house and with a sympathetic audience on your side.

There's no difference between Columbia inviting Karl Rove and throwing him to a hostile crowd of "Bush is teh Hitler" college kids, and doing the same to old Mahmoud.

anyone have a spare $30 million i can borrow?

A piece of world history will be up for sale at Sotheby's later this year.

Just in case one of you folks out there is wondering just what exactly to get me for Christmas, and you have a spare $30 million or so rolling around between those sofa cushions....

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Three feral kids break into a rural home in North Carolina to burglarize it.

The only person in the house is the 12-year-old daughter, who's staying home from school with strep throat.

The intruders, surprised to find someone present, shoot her dead.

They are quickly captured, and found to be 16, 18, and 19 years old.

You know, whenever I read stuff like this, I want to crawl back into my bed and spend the day with the covers over my head. How do you deal with kids who not only think they're entitled to other people's stuff, but who also kill a seventh-grader without hesitation simply for being present? Follow the link and look at the picture...that girl couldn't have been a threat to those three, except maybe as a witness. A life snuffed out in a blink, all for some jewelry and a few household electronics to pawn.

What ticks me off almost as much is the snippet about the girl's classmates, and how the school is dealing with the situation. They bring in a bunch of grief counselors, and the principal is quoted as saying:

"Mostly, we just want to make sure the students are feeling safe, that they're feeling comfortable, that they can go on through the grief process..."

Are we not doing our children a great disservice when we lie to them in such a manner? Is it not wiser to make them aware of the evil that exists in the world--aware of the fact that life isn't safe? Don't we prepare them much better for real life if we tell them that there are people out there who will hurt or kill them without thinking twice about it? Instead, they coddle these kids, making sure they're "feeling safe and comfortable", and pretending that such events are really only bad dreams, and that it can't happen to them.

Life isn't safe. Sometimes, the wolves are at the door, and they won't listen to reason or compassion. That's a scary thought, but that's reality, and it won't go away by closing your eyes and wishing it weren't so.

Monday, September 24, 2007

on currywurst, again.

To the person who found my blog by Googling "currywurst recipe" (sadly, I am only ranked fifth), I have a piece of advice.

The four Google results before my blog all reference knackwurst as an ingredient for currywurst. This is the Berlin way to make a currywurst, and it is abominable. Proper currywurst, regardless of what Berliners may claim, is made with bratwurst.

There are two different variants of currywurst to be had in Germany. One is the Berliner kind made with knackwurst, which is only eaten in Berlin and surrounding areas. The other is the Ruhrgebiet kind made with bratwurst, which is eaten everywhere else in Germany. One is an abomination of which none speak save in hushed whispers. The other is the only true and proper currywurst.

so long, general motors.

The UAW is on strike! That'll show those fat cats over at GM.

You know, I'd pay good money to see the faces of the union folks if the GM high poobah held a press conference this evening and said, "You know what? Fuck it. We're packing it in. We can't make a shitty econobox cheaper than the Koreans even after they pay for shipping their cars to the US, because everyone in our American plants thinks they need to have a lifetime job making $38 an hour for wrenching on the same bolt a thousand times a day. I've had it."

Sunday, September 23, 2007

achtung mimen!

Legendary mime Marcel Marceau died at the age of 84 today.

I hear the funeral is going to be a quiet affair.

I wonder whether he had any last words...

Saturday, September 22, 2007

fashion disaster.

I guess I can rule out "fashion designer" as a possible future career for Quinn.

Then again, who knows? That look doesn't look too outrageous compared to what I see at the mall these days.

Friday, September 21, 2007

the banality of evil.

The other day, I read an article on a photo album that had recently been donated to the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington. The album belonged to the adjutant of the second (and last) commandant of the Auschwitz concentration camp, and it shows the SS officers of the camp leadership on various recreational outings. Pictures of pre-liberation Auschwitz are very rare, and these were the first and only ones that showed the SS leadership in their "free time". The newspapers, both here and in Germany, invariably commented on the fact that the evil of the subject matter is enhanced by the fact that not a single prisoner or concentration camp installation is seen on those pictures. Instead, they show a bunch of jolly SS officers and women guards and auxiliaries, singing to accordion music, eating blueberries, and hiking together.

Looking at those people, you'd never guess that their daytime job was to actively exterminate a few thousand people every day for five years--gassing, shooting, starving, suffocating, or fatally injecting over a million men, women, and children for the crime of belonging to the wrong religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or political affiliation. Their executioners look like normal people, no different from any accountant, businessman, or mill worker you've ever seen in pictures of the era.

They look like any of us.

Hannah Arendt coined the term "Banality of Evil" to describe the idea that most atrocities in history were not perpetrated by fanatics or sociopathic lunatics, but rather by "normal" people, regular folks who came to rationalize the normality of their actions. The scary thing about these pictures is that they could show any of us sitting in a lawn chair and eating blueberries while the chimneys of the extermination camp are smoking just a few miles away. Auschwitz was something that could have been perpetrated by anyone. If the Germans, the people of Schiller, Kant, and Goethe, could fall victim to a national hysteria that culminated in otherwise unremarkable and average people willingly shoving crying children into gas chambers, then anyone can.

I think that this is the most depressing and frightening thing about the nature of evil. The seed for it is in all of us, and all it takes to make it bloom is the right combination of circumstances. Give a person power over others, dehumanize the intended victims, offer increased social status for willingly following the orders to shoot, sanction their actions with societal approval, and even the most mild-mannered accountant will put on a uniform and kick the gold teeth from the mouths of his neighbors.

(And if you think Americans are immune to such things, just Google "lynching pictures", and sift through the hundreds of images of good God-fearing folk bringing their kids to a lynching and making a social event out of it.)

That's why I cannot tolerate the "bomb Mecca" crowd any more than I can stomach Holocaust deniers and bigots of any color and creed. A few weeks back, I read a thread on a gun discussion board about American Muslims, and someone stated that the next major terror attack by Muslim extremists may very well result in American Muslims being dragged out of their houses and shot by the curb. Someone else responded with, "Great--can't wait for that."

When I read stuff like that, I always think of the pictures of corpses piled high in Auschwitz-Birkenau. When you make peace with the idea of exterminating a whole population, then you are already on your way to claiming that uniform and standing guard over the Untermenschen.

Maybe it's human nature to claim allegiance to a tribe and then rationalize why the Others have to die. Maybe the duality of Man makes it inevitable that such things happen--light needs darkness to exist, and decency needs evil to define it. Without the Josef Mengeles of the world, we wouldn't have Maximilian Kolbes, Oskar Schindlers, or Edith Steins.

That's why I'll never tolerate my fellow countrymen going house to house and weeding out those who have the wrong religion, skin color, or sexual preference. That's why no act of terrorism will ever make me support putting American Muslims in concentration camps like the Nisei of World War II. It's not because I don't know that evil exists, but because I know that it's almost ludicrously easy to surrender to it once you feel that you have both a righteous cause, and the moral support of your society.

I look at the faces of those SS officers, laughing and having a good time at their hunting lodge only a few miles from the extermination camp, and I know one thing for sure: none of them were evil in their own minds. They were all, to the last man and woman, convinced that their cause was righteous, and that what they were doing every day was necessary and morally justified. None of them could have made it a week at their jobs if they hadn't thought their own actions to be normal. Like Robert Heinlein said: the enemy is never the enemy in his own eyes.

Evil is rampant in the world, but it's not tied to a nationality, religion, or skin color...and when you propose to fight it by wiping out a group that shares any of those identifiers, you are already well on the path of evil yourself. When you accept that premise, the most important groundwork is already laid--the tilling of your mind--and then putting on the uniform and herding the Others to the gas chamber at gunpoint is a comparatively easy step.

whaddaya know.

Mascara-wearing "Leave Britney Alone!" emo boy Chris Crocker lives in East Tennessee.

We're so blessed.

another foiled darwin award candidate.

Today's mind-bender: A MIT student is arrested for walking through Boston's Logan Airport with a "fake bomb" strapped to her chest.

Regardless of your position on the government's approach to fighting terrorism, one thing is pretty much a given. If you cannot understand that walking around a major airport with a contraption made of Play-Doh, wiring, and circuit board in plain sight on your chest can result in the premature cancellation of your birth certificate, you may want to get yourself sterilized and do us all the courtesy of not propagating your obviously defective genetic material.

Looks like the admission standards at MIT have dropped sharply in recent years. Of course, it could all just be a deliberate attempt to get publicity and provoke a police response, like Andrew "Don't Tase Me, Bro" Meyer's recent stunt at the Kerry Q&A. However, it's one thing to play "Zap the Douchebag" with campus police, and quite another to walk around with a Play-Doh bomb on your chest in an area that's crawling with jumpy cops who carry automatic weapons.

This is in Boston, where the cops shut down half the city over a Lite-Brite stuck to a'd think a MIT sophomore would be smart enough to figure out that wearing a wired sweater and holding a nice big lump of Play-Doh in her hand wouldn't be the smartest thing to do at an airport.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

how very odd.

Am I just being overly skittish, or would anyone else be freaked the hell out if you went to a friend's house for dinner and saw that the family kept a desiccated infant as a room decoration?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

i love america.

This is awesome.

Only in America can complete nutcases put on a suit, have their picture taken, cobble together a campaign website from the privacy of their rubber room at the county looney bin, and run for President of the United States.

I commented on Matt's blog that I'd vote for this dude if I could.

He can't be any worse than the selection of clowns running already, and with him at least you know beforehand you're getting a complete nutcase who will spend four years hiding in a toolshed at Camp David with a tinfoil helmet on his head.

If I had extra change floating around, I'd send the crazy bastard twenty bucks just for the amusement I got out of his campaign site.

that's why i'm a dog person.

Sneaky kitty.

It's amazing how something that large can be so stealthy, and so terrifyingly agile.

tales from the queen's realm.

Via my friend Mark, a long-suffering subject of the Queen, comes this outrageous little tale from the Place Formerly Known As Great Britain.

The Cliff Notes: a woman is accosted by two hoodlums while dropping her son off at his house. One of the yobs blocks the path behind her car with three dogs, and the other jumps onto her hood and grins through the windshield, telling her that "she's not going anywhere."

She revs the engine, asks the yob on the hood repeatedly to move off, and honks her horn for a minute. Then she puts the car in gear, and weaves the front end a bit at 10mph. When the yob on the hood of her car still hangs on, she gives the brakes a tap to fling him off, unhurt.

She drives a bit, pulls over by the side of the road, and dilligently calls 999 to report the matter to the police.

They show up...and arrest her, for "dangerous driving". She ends up having to hire a lawyer and spend the next 18 months defending herself against the charge.

The two yobs are not charged with anything.

It seems that the powers in charge of the UK have lost the ability to properly distinguish between offender and victim. My friend Mark asked whether 1-800-MARINES was still the proper number to dial to request an invasion...I told him to just leave a message with his name and the country to be invaded, and the Gator Navy would be dispatched within 24 hours.

Monday, September 17, 2007

let there be health care for all.

"A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always count on the enthusiastic support of Paul."

So the cat is out of the bag, officially. Senator Clinton unveiled her "Mandatory Health Care" proposal, once again proving that you can be a U.S. senator and not have the faintest clue about economics.

Some of the highlights:

--She'll offer federal subsidies for those who can't afford their own health insurance.

--She'll require insurers to insure anyone who applies for coverage.

--She'll bar insurers from charging higher premiums for people who have increased health care costs.

Now, any freshman economics major at Harvard can point out the flaws in that plan, so I have to surmise that Clinton either has nobody on staff who reads Wall Street Journal on occasion, or she's fully aware of the implications of her plan and decided to push it anyway. (That makes her either really daft or really deceitful...take your pick.)

"Federal subsidies" is a Thesaurus term for "everybody's wallets". Subsidies don't materialize out of thin air, they have to be taken from the paychecks of working folks. That means everybody with a paycheck gets to subsidize the health insurance of everybody without a paycheck, thereby removing a major incentive to actually get up in the morning and earn a paycheck.

The biggie, however, is the thing about requiring insurers to take anyone who applies, and then preventing them from charging higher premiums for higher health care costs.

Those costs don't just magically evaporate, of course. If the health insurance company has to take the 50-year-old smoker with Stage 1 lung cancer, and they're prevented from recouping some of the costs that person is sure to rack up in the next few years, then there are two possible options for the insurance. They can either fold altogether, because they're unwilling or unable to eat the costs involved in charging a lung cancer patient the exact same premium as they do a marathon runner who's never sick, or they can avoid violating the law by defraying the cost of the cancer patient's treatment. The only way to do that is to raise insurance premiums for everyone across the board, so everyone still pays the same amount. That brings us back to the previous point, as this would in effect require everyone to pay for everyone else's health care. I cannot for the life of me figure out how forcing me to pay for the consequences of someone else's bad lifestyle choices is "fair".

That plan would almost instantly decrease the availability of health care, make its administration subject to a new and exciting federal bureaucracy (how would you like to make your doctor's visit just like trips to the DMV?), increase the cost of health care to everyone except those who can't (or won't) work, and completely remove all incentives for moderation of consumption when it comes to health care.

You can't wish, vote, or legislate yourself free money. Someone has to pick up the tab in the end, and that someone is invariably the demographic who has something to loot--namely the folks who pull in a paycheck every week or two. The rest of the population will have no trouble voting themselves "free" health care.

Me, I'd rather have a crown or root canal treatment available at $600, than no crown or root canal treatment available at $0. Then again, I have at least a faint grasp on economics, something that seems to be a disqualifying property for a Congressperson.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

one hundred k.

At some point today, my little page counter thingie crested 100,000.

In honor of the occasion, I'll start a little contest.

When I was in the military, we used to have weekly armor recognition training. We'd sit in a room and look at pictures of tanks projected onto the wall in front of us. The pictures were often from a hundred or more yards away, or the vehicle was partially obscured by smoke or plantlife, and we'd only get five seconds per slide to recognize the vehicle and write down the type and variant before the next slide. We were also expected to write down the nationality of the vehicle for those variants which were unique to a specific country's armed forces--for example, a T-64 could only ever be Soviet because it was the one model they never exported to their Warsaw Pact satellite states.

This one won't be quite as difficult. Here's a picture of a Main Battle Tank from close range:

Your task is simple: name the model of the tank and its exact variant (i.e. Model M1 Abrams, variant M1A2). For this first edition of Armor Recognition Class, I kept it fairly easy--the AA armament should be a dead giveaway.

For additional bonus (bragging rights), identify the nationality of the MBT.

There's a prize, too!

The winner will receive my pristine extra copy of Robert A. Waters' "The Best Defense". You may claim it for yourself or designate a fence-sitting or otherwise needy friend to receive it in your stead.

First correct response comment takes the brass ring.

Friday, September 14, 2007

hey, it's all free money.

I believe I speak for all taxpayers when I ask, "What the fuck?"

Four fifty for a can of soda? Sixty-four bucks per person for catered meals per day? Is there nobody at the Department of Justice smart enough to grab a government minivan and drive to frakkin' Sam's Club?

Ah, but it's so much easier to spend the cash when it doesn't come out of your own wallet.

what has that rifle ever done to you?

Whoever did this sporterizing job needs to be taken out behind the barn and shot. Repeatedly. In the face.

Just in case the auction disappears in the next few days, here's a pilfered picture to record the butchery for posterity.

Yes, friends and neighbors, that is what used to be a perfectly fine U.S. M1 Garand, before someone got a hold of it and ruined it.

I'll grant that this is the most tasteful Bubba-izing I've seen in a long time, but it's still a major violation of surplus etiquette. You never sporterize a military surplus rifle. There are lots of Winchesters, Remingtons, Savages, and Marlins available for hunting use, and they make more every day, but the supply of milsurp rifles is finite, and dwindling every day.

Sporterizing a Garand (which may very well be a veteran of WWII or Korea) ranks right up there with dressing a survivor of Omaha Beach or Chosin Reservoir in Mossy Oak camo overalls and making him stand night watch at the local junk yard. It's just disrespectful.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

on the avoidance of physical exertion.

I just made a pit stop at the grocery store on the way home from the bookstore.

At ten o'clock in the evening, the parking lot at Ingles is almost empty. There were maybe a dozen cars in the lot, all parked either on the far side of the lot (employees), or in the spots near the doors (customers). The empty spots were no further than three rows of cars away from the doors of the store--yet there were three cars parked directly by the doors, in the clearly marked "NO PARKING-FIRE LANE" zone right next to the building.

No wonder they now carry jeans at WalMart approaching triple-digit waist sizes. If you can't be bothered to park your gorram truck in a proper parking spot twenty-five yards away from the door, and you absolutely have to hop right from the truck's cabin through the automatic doors onto the electric cart intended for handicapped folks, then you win some sort of prize for lazy, and you fully deserve the public humiliation when they have to cut down the walls of your bedroom so that the industrial lifting equipment can get your fat ass out of the house.

Put down the frakkin' Nachos, and at least walk a few dozen yards to the trough. Seriously.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

when do-it-yourselfers check out.

This guy takes the prize for Most Inventive Suicide of the Year.

Hell, make that "of the Decade."

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

dispatch from the munchkin zoo.

Quinn has adopted an interesting pattern of regression.

He's very sweet with his sister. Since we brought her home, he's never shown any hostility towards her, despite the fact that he's quite jealous of the attention she's receiving. Lately, he has been trying to reclaim some of that attention by falling back to baby behavior. He climbs into her little swing, despite the fact that he's completely outgrown it. (The little motor on the swing whines in a most pathetic fashion when the thing is occupied by a 25-pound toddler.) He wants to take his meals in the high chair now, even though he graduated to his own little meal table a few months ago. When he started that particular habit again, he wouldn't eat very much unless I fed him, but now he has at least reclaimed his autonomy in that respect.

On the plus side, he's already having fun with her. She'll sit in her chair and let out her little baby bird chirps and squeals, and he'll crack up like you wouldn't believe. Once they're a little older, I predict they'll keep each other busy enough to give daddy a break every now and then.

Here's Quinn keeping himself occupied with one of my Model M keyboards. He'll sit in front of it and depress every number and letter key in turn, complete with accurate narration.

"It's a letter Q key. It's a letter W key. It's a letter E key..."

That's usually good for ten minutes of shower time for daddy.

Here's Quinn with his cornucopia of ride buddies.

Whenever I tell him to get ready for a car trip, he'll start collecting his comfort objects to come along. We usually don't leave the house without him clutching the array of objects you see in his hands: the Schmusetuch (security blanket), the giraffe, the polar bear, and the fleece blanket. He'll leave them in the car once we get to our destination, although sometimes he'll insist on taking them along into the store, which means he takes up the entire upper deck of the grocery store cart with himself and his assorted stuffed pals.

Developmental psychology is an interesting field, that's for sure. You can read all the books in the baby and toddler section at Barnes & Noble and think you're prepared, but there's nothing in the world that will prepare you for this job. You only ever have all the answers on raising kids before you start having them.

Monday, September 10, 2007

guilty pleasures (culinary).

I noticed that pdb posted a picture of his tasty dinner sammich, so I'm going to have to put up a food picture of my own.

Here's what we have for lunch on occasion. It's one of the few culinary habits I brought over from Germany.

Behold, the mighty Currywurst.

Currywurst is the quintessential blue-collar lunch in Germany. You can get it at every Frittenbude (German "fast food" restaurants), and it's practically synonymous with working-class stiffs in the industrial Ruhr area. It doesn't look like much, and the list of ingredients makes the uninitiated shudder in revulsion, but the flavor combination is quite satisfying.

If you're a culinary adventurer, here's how to make your very own Currywurst.

First, find the right kind of sausage. You need Bratwurst, but not just any kind. For Currywurst, you need the fine kind, not the coarse kind that looks like someone stuffed ground beef into a skin. We tried out a bunch of different kinds, and the closest match to real German bratwurst I found so far is WalMart's deli bratwurst that comes in plastic packages of five. Our WalMart doesn't carry that kind anymore, but a very close second pick are Johnsonville Stadium Brats.

Second, you need to prepare the Bratwurst the proper way. It needs to be pan-fried in a little bit of oil, not just chucked on the barbecue. Fry it at medium heat until the skin is crispy, browned, and just starting to split. Fine Bratwurst is pre-cooked, so you can't undercook're just heating it up and imparting the proper texture to the skin. Put the whole thing on a plate, and slice it up into half-inch thick slices. Take a ketchup bottle and liberally douse your pile of Bratwurst slices. Then get some curry powder, and sprinkle a healthy dose of curry along the length of the ketchup-ed and sliced Bratwurst.

Serve with side dish...the proper choice here is french fries (mayonnaise and ketchup optional, but encouraged--a thusly adorned pile of french fries is called "Pommes rot-weiss", and will get you lots of street cred in the Fatherland.) In a pinch, you can substitute potato wedges, or any other crispy and fatty potato product. For a beverage, nothing goes with Currywurst like a cold Pilsner beer.

Jawohl! Now you, too, can lunch like a German steelworker!

Friday, September 7, 2007

interesting statistics...

From the D.C. Downsizer Dispatch comes an interesting bit of information regarding the "45 million Americans without health insurance". That number is used by the proponents of socialized medicine to advance the idea of spending a few hundred billion dollars of taxpayer money on a single-payer system boondoggle.

"The most commonly heard estimate for the number of Americans without health insurance is 45 million. That's a whopping, scary number. Alas, it is also highly misleading. John Stossel of ABC News has used research by the U.S. Census Bureau to expose the deeper truth behind this scary number. It turns out that . . .

* 37% of the un-insured live in households earning more than $50,000 a year (and 19% live in households earning more than $75,000). Can people at these income levels afford major medical insurance? Yes. Should they be subsidized by you and me? No. Subtract this group and the number of uninsured people drops to roughly 28 million.

* 20% of the un-insured are non-citizens. Should you and I pay to insure them through a top-down federal monopoly? We think not. Subtract this group and the number of un-insured people drops to roughly 19 million.

* 33% of the un-insured are already eligible for existing government programs. No new program is needed for people who are already covered by current programs. Subtract them and the number of uninsured people drops to roughly 4 million. This is much more likely to be the true size of the problem."

Remember that next time someone uses the "45 million uninsured" figure in a discussion about health care.

all hail the king, baby.

Another one of those "All the cool kids are doing it" Intarwebz tests: says I'm a Dorky Nerd King.  What are you?  Click here!

Um, yeah.

I have nothing to say in my defense.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

the good ol' boy system.

Apparently, New Jersey has a problem with corrupt public officials.

Huh. Of all the places...

In my opinion, there's only one just punishment for an elected official who uses his or her office for personal gain in such a fashion. It involves a short length of rope, and a tree.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

the war on terrah, again.

When I have something to mail, I usually weigh the item on our digital kitchen scale, and then calculate the postage on the USPS website. Then I either use whatever stamps we have around the house, or I tuck a check into the mailbox along with the item to be mailed.

Yesterday, I left a padded envelope for the mailman. It contained a little gift box of baby clothes for my brother's newest sprog. Total weight: fifteen ounces. The postage for First-Class Mail was $10.40, and I just happened to have a book of ninety-cent stamps around, so I plastered the front of the envelope with little pictures adding up to the required amount.

Today, the mailman brought the whole thing back. It wasn't because of a lack of postage, but rather because of a new directive from the Heimatsicherheit Ministry. Apparently, there's a new rule in place that requires anyone mailing a stamped overseas package weighing more than ten ounces to drop it off personally at the post office. This will presumably keep terrorists from sending Semtex through the mail anonymously, although the nice (and apologetic) postal employee was unable to tell me how exactly this is going to be accomplished. Mind you, the rule applies only to stamped mail, not metered.

So now I have to keep my gift packages under ten ounces, lest I have to saddle up the battle wagon and drag both kids to the post office with me, requiring a complex logistical ballet and an hour of my time to mail a frakkin' box of baby clothes.

the right to kill and eat deer.

The spirit and intent of the Second Amendment protects AR-15s and HK91s before Marlin .30-30s and bolt-cranked aught-sixes. The ability to go and shoot deer and such is just a fringe benefit of the ability to be a counterbalance to an armed government.

Next time some Fudd mouths off about how "you don't need an assault rifle to hunt", remind them of the fact that they're just hanging on the coat tails of the rest of us. If the Supremes ever uphold Miller in all its implications, it would mean that the government can ban deer guns, but not military weaponry.

Monday, September 3, 2007

men who don't understand "no", and the women who die to them.

"A competent and self-confident person is incapable of jealousy in anything. Jealousy is invariably a symptom of neurotic insecurity."

--Robert A. Heinlein

You know, I read stuff like this all the time. In fact, it seems that nary a day goes by when there's not at least one news item about a female being injured or killed by a male who has a hard time parsing the meaning of the word "no", or the phrase "not interested".

I have no respect at all for men who visit violence on women. Part of that may stem from an upbringing in a house where the title of Dad's Punching Bag was frequently passed back and forth between my mother and myself. (Dad didn't like the bookishness and "girly ways" of his oldest son, you see.) I've never had an ounce of tolerance or understanding for bullies, and that even extends to people who order around the hired help. Watching how your date treats the waiter can be an enlightening insight into his or her character--they'll put on a mask for you on the first few dates, but they'll tend to let their true personality peek out when talking to the guy who brings them their food.

With the sheer amount of horror stories in the news that involve women losing their lives at the hands of psychotic ex-boyfriends or -husbands, it's mind-boggling to see that the most ardent defenders of women's rights can usually be counted on to also ardently oppose the use of guns for self-defense. The whole problem with female victimization by males is the fact that males are usually physically stronger--they can bring more force to bear. The tool that is best suited to remove that force disparity is the firearm, but that tool is decried as a phallic symbol of violence.

Use your keys to scratch the guy, they'll tell you. (Your round-edged safety key for your Prius is certain to inflict disabling pain on the guy who's hopped up on adrenaline and testosterone.)

Use mace or pepper spray, they'll suggest. (Just make sure that you don't spray it into the wind, that you manage to point the usually unergonomic container in the right direction in all that excitement, and that your ex-beau isn't one of the numerous people who are impervious to that stuff when under the influence of adrenaline or alcohol.)

Scream for help or blow a whistle, they say. (And hope there's another strong male nearby who can use force on your behalf--if your attacker doesn't crank it up a notch to stop that inconvenient ruckus, that is.)

Oh, and then there's the magical Scroll of Protection, the Restraining Order.

Restraining orders are pieces of paper. They have no magical properties, and they're not bullet-proof. A restraining order always requires a gun to back it up. The only difference between a restraining order taken out by a gun-toting woman and one taken out by a pacifist, "non-violent" woman is whether the gun is already at the scene of the assault, or whether it needs to be carried there in the holster of a cop. That difference, however, may very well determine who gets carried off in the body bag when all is said and done.

If the feminist movement was truly about empowerment, they'd put legal concealed carry at the very top of their priority list for political action. There's nothing that empowers a person like allowing them possession of the tools to negate all differences in strength and size.

Not all men are violent and psychotic sons-of-bitches who have a hard time taking rejection. Hell, not even the majority of men fall into that category. There are, however, enough of them out there that my daughter will be taught from an early age to walk softly and carry a big stick.

She'll know that she always has the right to say "no", and "not interested", and she'll always have the means to back up that right if she happens to come across some knuckle-dragging simian who thinks that any woman he dates automatically becomes his property.

We all have the right to self-ownership, male or female. There's an astonishing number of females who have a special someone in their lives who has never learned that lesson, and who continues to be an uninvited presence.

Don't buy the bull about non-violence and the moral superiority of it. When the chips are down, it'll be your body in a bag, and you'll be just another news item. Never initiate force, but never shy away from it if someone else visits it upon you. By all means, take out a restraining order. But do yourself a favor and empower yourself. Buy a gun, learn how to use it, and take control of your fate--and if your persistent admirer decides to walk right through that restraining order and make sure that "if I can't have her, nobody else will," then shoot the bastard dead.