Monday, October 31, 2005

Right to Work

There was a discussion about right to work states on the NoR a few weeks back, and it was something I wanted to continue on my blog.

At the most basic level, a "right to work" state has labor legislation or regulation, that prevents most unions from forcing workers to join the union to work in their job. i.e. the Carpebters union can't stop you from working on a construction site just because you aren't a union member.

Most of the states back east are "closed shop" states, where unions control who works when and where in the unionized trades... and jsut about everything blue collar or public sector is unionized.

Unions do serve an important function.. or at least they did. The job of the union is to increase the bargaining power of the workers to parity with the employers. This allows the workers to negotiate on an equal footing.

The problem is, that in closed shop states, the unions are given a MORE THAN EQUAL footing in labor negotiations. Since the employer cannot get labor that is not controlled by the union, if the union chooses to reject his offer, he goes out of business; or at the very least loses a lot of money.

Basically, a union in a closed shop state can LEGALLY use EXTORTION against an employer.. no winder the mob loves unions so much.

Now unions also do a lot of good.. or at least they did. They helped improve working conditions, they ended the company town systems, and they improved wages for blue collar workers in relation to other workers. Unfortunately, mandatory monopolistic unions are an anti-competitive, regressive, market burden.

If we don't tolerate monopolies on resources or production, why should we tolerate them on labor?

So given the above, I absolutely support the right to work without union or guild or professional organization interference.

What I DON’T like is where, as in Arizona, employers can screw you every which way from sunday with very little recourse.

See, here’s my problem.

Twice I was terminated for political reasons, against company policy.
Twice they specified a deliberately vague reason for termination. In
neither case was my performance at issue. In both cases I had violated
no policy of the company, and in one case I had specifically cleared my
actions with the company before hand.

One of these was really blatantly religiously motivated.

I believe that a small business owner should be able to hire and fire
whoever they want, for whatever reason. That’s his (or her) business,
and so is who he employs. To my mind, there is no difference between a
sole proprietorship or limited partnership and private property. If the
owner doesnt want you in his house, you dont get to be there.

A large corporation however isn’t one persons company, it is a body
governed by policy. When one has not violated policy, when ones
performance has been exemplary, ones bosses boss shouldnt be able to
fire you because he disagrees with your politics or religion (or lack
thereof).

Should there be legal recourse here… I don’t know. Lord knows I wish
there was a hell of a lot less interference in private business, but
agian, the corporation is a whole ‘nother entity.

If a corporation is to recieve so many special protections from
government (and they do, in echange for a large amount of interference
and regulation) then there are certain standards of behavior one should
expect in return for those protections. One of them is that politics,
gender, religion, sexuality, and any other “identity politics” should
not be a factor in ones employment; unless they materially effect the
performance of the job.

Oh and yes, I think the “right” answer to the question I proposed above
isnt “if the corps get special treatement they should be held to a
special standard”

The RIGHT answer is that corporations should recieve no special
treatment.

The corporate veil, limitation of liability (especially where joint and
several would apply), and corporate bankruptcy are all powerful
disincentives to responsible governance.

The problem is, how do we get direct investment without them? The entire
purpose behind those principles (and many others) is to limit the risk
of investors, to allow for greater investment. Without those
protections investment in individual corporations would be FAR lower.

Of course there is still all that money out there, so perhaps a side
effect would be the creation of many smaller corporations. Theres no holy writ that everything has to be done by huge megacorps after all.

Friday, October 28, 2005

West bound and down

So we jsut had a 1018 mile run in 16 hours, including meal and gas stops.

I originally wrote 1600 miles because I was addled from lack of sleep.

Yeah, we were flyin the whole way. Thats an average of about 63 mph, and when you factor the 2 hours worth of stops it's more like 72mph.

After unloading the car, and getting ready to meet up with the folks here; I am VERY ready for food, shower, and the sleep of the dead.

But I have to clean a bunch of guns frist... damn... oh well, at least I love guns. Oh and we all grabbed our "new" SKS's. $90 from J&G, + $30 for the folding stock, andanother $30 for cheap scope and mount.

UPDATE: Ok so 6 hours, and three de-cosmod and restocked SKS's plus one pretty decent barbecue meal later, I'm finally getting ready for sleep.

And now we have to get up at 6:30...

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Miers Withdrawal

Ok, I just have two things to say here.

1. Thank god

2. I thought she was unconfirmable from the beginning, and that Bush knew that and she was his "sacrifical lamb". I'm not sure if this proves me right or not (in thinking it was intentional), but at least in effect it does

Now Bush is free to nominate the overqualified REAL conservatives and constructionists and say "but you said you wanted qualified, I gave you qualified... oh wait were you lying?"

UNFORTUNATELY since most of the opposition to Miers was on his side of the aisle, he wont have NEARLY the backlash effect he needs to get the next one to sail; but I think this will make a Janice Rogers Brown, or an Edith Clement both easier and more likely.

Hell, even an Alex Koczynski is possible, though I'm assuming he's still going to stick with a woman.

No second place winner

In a fight, there is no second place winner. Bill Jordan wrote those words more than 40 years ago, and they were as true then as they are today.

I’ve been involved in the martial arts since I was 5, and unfortunately I’ve seen more than my share of very serious fights.

Last week some guy was making threatening moves towards me after I beat him rather badly at poker.

I just looked him straight in the eye and said firmly, but quietly, and in a dead monotone “If you throw that punch I will kill you. There will be no fight, I will get up out of this chair and I will kill you. I’m not kidding, I’m not playing, I’m not exaggerating and I’m not bragging. If you throw just one punch I am going to kill you. Now turn around and walk out that fucking door right now”.

And he did.

He looked into my eyes and he KNEW that if he even moved an inch towards me I would kill him without even thinking twice, and that certainly saved his life.

Given the vagaries of the legal world, it probably saved mine as well.

I'm a very easy going guy. I will take an enourmous amount of abuse without fighting. I will take everything up to and including some physical contact if I believe that the contact is simple bluster and I can be sure there is no attempt to gain advantage, or make a hiddne attack, and that I can be sure there are no weapons in their hands.

I don’t fight unless it’s life or death, because every fight IS whether you want it to be or not. If he had thrown a punch I wouldn't have just hit him back, I would have taken out his throat, or his ribs, or his eyes, or broken an arm or a leg. If he kept coming (and some of them do for some reason, long beyond the time they should give up) or one of his three friends got involved, I would have broken his neck, or cruchedhis windpipe, or just taken out my knife and killed him with it, and them too if they moved in to the fight.

You fight until the threat is neutralized, or until you can retreat beyond the range of the threat. Nothing more, nothing less. I don’t fight to win, I don't fight to kill, I fight to stop; and if that means killing someone, then that is what I will do.

Once a grown man has thrown a punch that is it. It’s not “jsut a fistfight”, they are trying to kill you. I have seen too many fights end with someone dead, or near to it, intentional or not. An adult fight isn’t like in the schoolyard, every fight is life or death and you had better treat it that way, or your going to be the one they carry out.

Make that decision right now, not when your life is on the line. Make that decision that you will do whatever it takes to stop the threat, no matter what; or you WILL be the one they carry out.


Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Ennui

The Gun Guy writes about his most recent ELGS experience, at Wannamachers; the largest gun show in America:

Walking through the show, I felt for the first time a curious sense of disconnection from it all. It was as though I was walking through a mall—lots of neat stuff, but nothing I would really buy. I’ve always gone to gun shows with a sense of keen anticipation, even when I had no intention of buying anything, because there was always a chance of finding my “dream gun”.

Well, I don’t have a “dream gun” anymore.

And the reason I don’t have one is because I’ve had to sell the ones I already owned.

I’ve never bought a gun with the intention of selling it. I’ve always bought a gun with the intention of keeping it forever. Now, a couple of guns have turned out to be not what I thought they’d be (eg. P-08 Lugers), and I’ve sold them later without too much of a qualm. Almost all my guns, however, have been like my children: I love them, care for them, and they’ve been a part of my life—and most especially so in the case of the older guns which have some history behind them.

But my recent financial circumstances changed all that, and my beloved guns became just a commodity. When we needed the money to pay bills until we could start earning again, I thought about taking all of them to Collector’s, and selling them as a complete “set”, if you will. Ultimately, of course, I decided not to do that, but rather sell them to all my friends and Readers.

I’ve fired an enormous number of guns in my life, and owned a pretty fair number too. Now, when I look at another gun, I get a feeling of “been there, done that” instead of “oh wow!”, which I’d always felt in the past.

There had been a hint of that earlier, when I thought what guns I would acquire once my circumstances returned to normal and I could buy guns again. I finally came to realize that my passion has changed to dispassion, and I probably won’t buy many guns, or at least that many, ever again.
I have gone through a similar thing recently, where I had to sell all but the bare minimum from my collection.

It isn’t the first time I’ve had to sell guns, nor is it the time I most regret, but it is the most number of guns, and I think the most significant impact emotionally the sales have had.

I’ve gone down to no revolvers, no bolt action rifles, no .22 rifle…

From a hobby standpoint, I'm really in sad shape, with nothing but defensive and SHTF guns.

Hell I dont even have a single commie gun for practice right now; and that's a damn shame.

The thing is though, other than a very few pieces, I have no great desire for lots of guns at the moment either. I have the money to do so, but I simply don’t want to spend that much for guns (debt comes first for one thing).

I have a few very specific things I need to buy:

First step towards rebuilding, the .22 rifle and .45 revolver I’m gunsitting for The Gun Guy.

Now I need a good boltie hunting rifle,



a varmint upper for my AR,




a pocket pistol (I’m thinking Kel-Tec p3at),




and a .45 carbine of some kind (thinking of the Mech Tech CCU).



Also there's a hole in my SHTF arsenal with no SKS's or AK's to practice with right now.

That’s what I need, and there's a very limited list of what I WANT… well I suppose the others aren’t really NEEDS, but to complete the guns necessary for my gun hobbies and personal defense that’s what I need

Anywyay what I WANT:

I'd REALLY like a Robinson XCR, when and IF the 7.62x39 and .308 versions are available



The biggest reason is that it is magazine and ammunition compatible with both AR's AK's and at least from an ammo perspective my M14 (I think it uses FAL mags for .308).

Hmm, I'd like one of those .308 enfield conversions... and actually that could serve as a decent hunting rifle but that's not what I want it for.



I love the Enfield action, and I want it in a caliber compatible with my M14. The fact that it even takes the same mags is just a plus.

I think probably also a .357 revolver (replacing the 686p and 386p I'd sold), and a big bore revolver (.454 or summat) to replace the four revolvers I sold…

I’d really like a titanium compact 1911…

I’d like to replace the SIG p229 I sold a few months back…

And that’s about it really.

I could tell you, a few months ago any time I saw a lovely piece of firearms art and technology, the wallet began itching, but no more. Right at this moment, I have no real desire to buy lots of guns that I really like; and that's a new thing.

And I'm pretty sure it's not a good thing... though I suppose it will save me a lot of money.

This day is called the feast of Crispin

Henry V ; act four, scene three.
The Saint Crispins day speech

William Shakespeare


This day is called the feast of Crispin.

He that outlives this day, and comes safe home, Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named, and rouse him at the name of Crispin.

He that shall live this day, and see old age, will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours, and say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispin:' Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars, and say 'These wounds I had on Crispin's day.'

Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot, but he'll remember with advantages what feats he did that day:

Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words,
Harry the king,
Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot,
Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember'd.

This story shall the good man teach his son; And Crispin Crispin shall ne'er go by, from this day to the ending of the world, but we in it shall be remember'd;

We few,
we happy few,
we band of brothers;

For he to-day that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother;
be he ne'er so vile,this day shall gentle his condition: And gentlemen in England now a-bed shall think themselves accursed they were not here,

And hold their manhoods cheap
whiles any speaks that fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Everything Old is New Again

Some time around the turn of the first millenium, a type of armor known as scale mail came to be worn by the Roman Legions, the Byzantine armies... just about any fashionably dressed and well equipped soldier of an organized army.

The Roman implementation of scale mail was called the lorica squamata, and consisted of about 1" x 2" rectangular bronze plates, heat treated (as much as bronze can be), shaped into scales, and dished with a rolled lip to increase strength. The plates were riveted to thin flaps of leather, which were in turn riveted through another layer of leather and padding.

The end result was a quite strong, flexible, and reasonably lightweight and comfortable armor, which was quite effective against slashing cuts. Unfortunately it was only moderately effective against piercing thrusts from swords; and quite poor against crushing blows, and strong piercing thrusts from spikes, axes, spears and the like.

Oh well, you can't have it all right...

Fast forward to the 9th century, and the concept is repeated in ductile iron, which was heavier, stronger but more likely to crack, somewhat less flexible, but otherwise more effective than the earlier lorica squamata.

This scale mail was worn over thickly padded, quilted jackets, constructed in layers. The jacket itself was effective enough as armor, that it was generally issued to less "expensive" troops, and those who were behind the front line of battle (like archers).

The use of scale mail as a primary armor form lasted into the 12-14th centuries, when the metallurgy of weapons, and the earliest introduction of man portable firearms; required heavy plate armor for primary protection. For areas requiring flexibility or less protection however, scale mail remained current until the early 17th century, when armor as a whole was obsoleted by the wide adoption of firearms as military weapons.

Fast forward again to the early-mid 20th century, and folks are looking once again to protect those in combat from the horrors of new weapons technology. The machine gun, artillery, grenades, and anti-aircraft had escalated mass casualties to truly horrific levels, and understandably the concept of armoring combatants came back to the fore.

Unfortunately, technology wasn't up to the task of providing full armor protection against high velocity bullets; but they COULD protect against shell fragments, shrapnel, spalling etc...

The fun part though, they chose to do it with... wait for it...

Ayup, scale mail.

This version of scale mail consisted of hardened aluminum (or in some of the earlier implementations steel) plates sewn into canvas pockets over a kapok or other densely padded jacket. It didn't do much to protect against bullets, but it was half decent against ricochets, shell fragments, and the like, as it was designed to do.

From the first implementations in the WW1 years, through WW2 and Korea, the technology was refined to the point where it could sometimes resist medium caliber pistol rounds. In the process the focus of armor developement changed from scale mail, into many overlapping layers of high strength synthetic fabrics; which by the time of Viet Nam, proved to be more effective at stopping medium velocity threats, and were easier for combatants to wear.

Of course soldiers on the battlefield face far more damaging threats than medium caliber pistols, so the powers that be looked for more effective ways to protect them.

Around the same time ('69), a pizza shop owner in Detroit named Richard Davis got shot. He didn't like being shot, and he didn't like cops getting shot, so he went looking for a way to give folks a "Second Chance", thus modern civilian body armor is born.

Initially soft body armor was constructed using ballistic nylon (thus the name) in up to 60 layers, but in '73 Davis's company Second Chance, started using Kevlar, and the rest is (very inaccurately reported) history.

Body armor comes in multiple levels as described in this chart:

Armor Level Protects Against
Type I
(.22 LR; .380 ACP)
This armor protects against .22 caliber Long Rifle Lead Round Nose (LR LRN) bullets, with nominal masses of 2.6 g (40 gr) impacting at a maximum velocity of 320 m/s (1050 ft/s) or less, and .380 ACP Full Metal Jacketed Round Nose (FMJ RN) bullets, with nominal masses of 6.2 g (95 gr) impacting at a maximum velocity of 312 m/s (1025 ft/s) or less.
Type IIA
(9 mm; .40 S&W)
This armor protects against 9 mm Full Metal Jacketed Round Nose (FMJ RN) bullets, with nominal masses of 8.0 g (124 gr) impacting at a maximum velocity of 332 m/s (1090 ft/s) or less, and .40 S&W caliber Full Metal Jacketed (FMJ) bullets, with nominal masses of 11.7 g (180 gr) impacting at a maximum velocity of 312 m/s (1025 ft/s) or less. It also provides protection against the threats mentioned in [Type I].
Type II
(9 mm; .357 Magnum)
This armor protects against 9 mm Full Metal Jacketed Round Nose (FMJ RN) bullets, with nominal masses of 8.0 g (124 gr) impacting at a maximum velocity of 358 m/s (1175 ft/s) or less, and 357 Magnum Jacketed Soft Point (JSP) bullets, with nominal masses of 10.2 g (158 gr) impacting at a maximum velocity of 427 m/s (1400 ft/s) or less. It also provides protection against the threats mentioned in [Types I and IIA].
Type IIIA
(High Velocity 9 mm; .44 Magnum)
This armor protects against 9 mm Full Metal Jacketed Round Nose (FMJ RN) bullets, with nominal masses of 8.0 g (124 gr) impacting at a maximum velocity of 427 m/s (1400 ft/s) or less, and .44 Magnum Semi Jacketed Hollow Point (SJHP) bullets, with nominal masses of 15.6 g (240 gr) impacting at a maximum velocity of 427 m/s (1400 ft/s) or less. It also provides protection against most handgun threats, as well as the threats mentioned in [Types I, IIA, and II].
Type III
(Rifles)
This armor protects against 7.62 mm Full Metal Jacketed (FMJ) bullets (U.S. Military designation M80), with nominal masses of 9.6 g (148 gr) impacting at a maximum velocity of 838 m/s (2750 ft/s) or less [provided the projectile hits the hard trauma plate insert]. It also provides protection against the threats mentioned in [Types I, IIA, II, and IIIA].
Type IV
(Armor Piercing Rifle)
This armor protects against .30 caliber armor piercing (AP) bullets (U.S. Military designation M2 AP), with nominal masses of 10.8 g (166 gr) impacting at a maximum velocity of 869 m/s (2850 ft/s) or less [provided the projectile hits the hard trauma plate]. It also provides at least single hit protection against the threats mentioned in [Types I, IIA, II, IIIA, and III].

Unfortunately, as in the 16th century, the thick multiple layers of cloth and padding STILL couldnt stop higher velocity, higher energy threats; and so hard breastplates had to come back AGAIN, as the trauma plate, which provides level 3 and level 4 protection.

A trauma plate is a hardened steel, aluminum, ceramic, or composite plate slotted into the ballistic vest to protect the vital organs in the torso, much as a 13th-16th century breastplate.

S0, the eternal cycle of armor vs. weapon has come around full circle once more, and...

Scale Mail is back again

We’ve been trying to get armor based on this concept out to the world for a while now. Obviously it’s an old concept, but it works.

Each of the plates is just a larger trauma plate in minature, and you end up with something like six times the total hard armor area of a trauma plate, at about half the depth.

The overlapping plates, which are technically a leaf mail style (basically the same as scale mail, only larger), have a few advantages. Most importantly (and most obviously) is the flexibility. More flexibility means more comfort, and longer wear time.

The two biggest advantages of the dragon skin (or other leaf/scale mail designs) from a ballistic protection perspective are that the small overlapping plates present multiple fracture planes to the incoming projectile, and that less area is compromised with a hit.

Factor one is directly dependent on the overlapping nature of the plates. When a single plate is struck, the energy of the impact is primarily expended within that plate, and the plate underneath it recieves only a small fraction of the total impact energy. If the plates are structures so that at rest there are two layers of protection in all locations, then the advantage is quite large. A side benefit of this, is the reduction of secondary injury (bruising, crushing, and breakage) from the projectile impact; though for some potential injury types in some cases this flexibility is a disadvantage (ribcage crushing injuries for example).

Factor two is the lesser compromise area. A strike in one area of the armor only compromises approximately 2”, whereas with conventional composite armor (soft armor with large front and back trauma plates) a single hit compromises the trauma plates completely (though that is changing), and at least 8” square of the soft armor area. Again, if the armor is constructed with full overlap, the secondary plate will still be in place to provide degraded protection in the strike area.

So we understand the plusses, what are the minuses? Weight, long term durability, and difficulty of manufacture (which means COST).

Of course to provide this level of protection means weight and cost. LOTS of weight and cost.

The best available current soft armor protection weighs from approximately 4lbs up to 7-8 lbs for a minimal coverage vest, at lvl 3a WITHOUT TRAUMA PLATES. When the coverage is extended to LVL 3, and includes pauldrons, spaulders, tasses, and a gorget/collar (full coat protection) that weight goes up between 12 and 18 pounds to a toal of 19-26 lbs (or more for some EOD armor, up inot 40+lbs)

For comparison, the new military Interceptor system is 16 lbs, the PASGT it replaced was 24 - both figures including front and rear trauma plates; and both are extended coverage vests not full coats.

The equivalent minimal coverage vest using leaf mail weighs about 18lbs, and the extended coverage vest weighs 22lbs, BUT it doesnt require the heavy trauma plates to reach lvl 3 protection, and in fact provides close to lvl 4.

With conventional vests, minimal trauma plate protection weighs about 2lbs for a hardened aluminum stab shield, and getting up to level 4 protection can add up to 16lbs, just protecting an area the size of a sheet of paper.

The absolute best technology we can come up with for full coat coverage lvl 3a protection with lvl 3 soft over the main torso, and lvl 4 trauma plates; weighs about 24-28lbs total (this is more coverage and more protection than current U.S. service issue personal armor).

That same coverage using leaf mail style armor can weigh over 30lbs, BUT it offers level 3 or better protection over the entire covered area, not just the trauma plate area; and approaches lvl 4 protection.

There is also a slight mitigating factor here, in that the weight is more evenly distributed, and the armor itself is far more flexible, which significantly improves the wearability and comfort of the armor.

I noted above the long term durability issue, but didnt elaborate. With smaller, thinner plates that slide over each other, there is the potential for mechanical wear, abrasion of the carrier, and a greater chance of a plate fracturing incidentally.

There is one more disadvantage to the scale design. If a bullet of the right construction, hits the right spot, at the right angle and velicity, it could be channeled in between the plates and into the wearer rather than expending itself in the plates. This is a very minor probability, but it should be mentioned.

Oh and heres the info on our current service armor:

Personal Armor System for Ground Troops

The PASGT was current until 2004 and is being replaced by the interceptor armor system:

Interceptor Body Armor

One should note, neither the PASGT nor the Interceptor offer that maximum level of protection I talked about above. Both are level 3a secondary protection with level 3 primary protection front and rear center torso; though new trauma plates are becoming available with level 4 protection. Unfortunately those trauma plates are very thick, very heavy, and VERY expensive.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 10 - It's the meat stupid

My local Frys was having a special sale the other day, filet mignon for $5 a pound, and I took the opportunity to pick up about 4lbs (6 nice full filets - not medallions).

Perfect opportunity to dash out a quicky recipe...

Ingredients:

4 8-10oz filets
4 strips of thick cut black pepper bacon (optional)
4 tbsp crumbled aged feta, gorgonzola, bleu cheese, or aged parmaggiano or romano

Seasonings:

1/4 cup red wine, brandy/cognac, triple sec, or bourbon
1/4 cup light cream or half and half
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp cracked black pepper
2 tbsp vinegar based hot sauce
1tbsp dijon mustard
2 tsp salt
1/2 lemon, juiced

Preparation:

My favorite way to cook filet is to just to brush it with butter and olive oil, rub a bit of cracked black pepper and salt into it, squeeze some lemon juice over it (let it sit at least 20 minutes, or up to four hours to get to room temperature if you can), and then lightly grill it.

However, if it's not grill time, or you feel like cooking indoors... or you just want a spectacular meal with 10 minutes worth of actual effort, go for the skillet method.

Heck, you may end up never going back to the grill again.

To prep the filets, trim to less than 1/4" of fat around the outside (or less than 1/8" if you're going to use bacon, otherwise the fat won't sear), rub with more salt and pepper than you think you need, plus the optional addition of a strip of thick cut black pepper bacon wrapped around the outer edge and stuck with a toothpick; and let rest for at least 20 minutes, or until reaching room temperature.

About 20 minutes before cook time, turn your oven to it's maximum heat and move the top rack to the upper middle position.

Get an oven safe skillet (either cast iron, THICK aluminum, or THICK stainless. You want heat retention and heat spreading capability. Non stick is OK, if it is thick enough and can handle the heat, but most aren't and can't) just about smoking hot on your cook top, with browned butter and a little olive oil. Pan sear the filet on all sides till it crusts up (for an inch and a half to two inch thick, 8-10oz filet it should be about 2-3 minutes bottom and top, plus 30 seconds each on all four sides - 2 minutes for just past rare, 3 minutes for just past the middle of medium rare).

When the pan searing is done, deglaze the skillet with a little red wine, triple sec, brandy, or bourbon; and a little vinegar based hot sauce or even just balsamic vinegar, and glaze the filets in the pan with it (shake them around, turn them over, shake them around... maybe spoon a little over the op), then take them off the heat.

If the cuts aren't done to your liking (they should be perfectly medium rare, or just on the edge of rare based on the 2 minute cooking time above, or medium rare just below medium on the 3 minute time); stick your skillet into the hot oven, flip it over to broil, and place the steaks under the broiler for about 3-4 minutes, or until the glaze begins to chars a bit on the tips of the meat, then pull them out quick.

If you are using steaks other than filet, the same technique applies, you just need to adjust your timing; but don't turn the steak on its side like you do
with a filet, so you just do the total time split evenly across both sides.

For strip, presuming 2" thick or thereabouts, the same technique and
total timing applies. So 4 minutes is VERY rare, 6 minutes total cooking gets rare, 8 minutes is medium rare, 10 minutes is medium, and 12 minutes is medium well.

Please for the love of god though, if you want a steak done more than medium... just don't. Go have a hamburger or something. You don't LIKE steak, so don't waste it.

For ribeyes it's not much different, but you want to up the time a bit, to make sure you sear the fat thoroughly. Unless you like very rare, in which case 3 minutes on a side is just fine.

Actually, with ribeye or porterhouse, I prefer to deliberately undercook in the pan by at least one degree of doneness, and then finish in the oven; because it ends up more even that way, especially with a bone in steak.

Obviously, the thinner the steak, the less time per side. 1.5" needs about 30 seconds less on each side. 2.5" needs an extra minute on each side, or an extra 6 minutes in the oven after searing to avoid creating too thick a layer of char. 3" thick, you're definitely going to want 8 minutes in the oven after your 4 minutes per side.

Once you have a feel for your cookstop, pan, and cuts of meat, you can usually just sort of tell when something is done right; but until you get that experience, USE A GOOD INSTANT READ THERMOMETER.

Cook your meat until it's 5 degrees BELOW what the chart says; so by the time you serve it, it will be where it should be. That means get it off the heat at 125 for rare, 130 for medium rare, 135 for medium rare/medium (please, stop cooking here if you actually LIKE steak), 140 for medium, and 150 for medium well. Anything above 150 is hockey puck territory.

Remember, one minute on each side, or four minutes in the hot oven, is usually enough heat to hit the next degree of doneness.

At this point, whether you went into the oven or not, you're going to want to add a little cream or half and half to the pan sauce, and if needed a bit more acid (hot sauce, lemon juice, maybe a tiny bit of dijon mustard) to help emulsify the hot drippings and dairy.

To plate, pour a small disk of the sauce on to the plate, and put a filet right into it as artistically as you care to; and let them rest on the plate for a few minutes if you so desire (I usually don't bother for such a small piece of meat).

After you've got them all plated, drizzle the remaining pan sauce over them; and unless you feel like you're gilding the lily, crumble a bit of feta, gorgonzola, or bleu cheese over the top... or maybe few shreds of fresh grated parmigiana and romano.

Honestly, you can serve filets with basically anything, but my personal favorite is sourdough cheese toast, and freshly fried seasoned potato wedges. For a little balance to the meat, slice in half some grape tomatoes, and then quarter some cucumber slices, and toss in extra light salad oil with cider vinegar and cracked black pepper on the side.

And so that's what I had for lunch today.

Oh and yeah, that recipe serves two good sized guys, four women, or eight metrosexuals.



And be sure to check out:

Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 12 - Lard Ass Wings
Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 11 - Bacon Double Macaroni and Cheese
Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 10 - It's the meat stupid
Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 9 - Labor Day Potatos
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 8 - It's a pork fat thing
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 7 - It may not be Kosher...
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 6 - Andouille Guiness Chili
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 5 - Eazza the Ultimate Pizza
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 4 - Two Pound Meat Sauce
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 3 - Highbrow Hash
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 2 - MuscleCarbonara
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 1 - More Beef than Stew

More unsurprising shit


Yaknow I started off finding Alton Weird and irritating. No I still think he's weird, but he's fun.

HT: Warbs

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The "OH SHIT!" Test of basic skills

Aa reader of the NoR asked what personal weapons skills could a civilian acquire easily, that would properly perpare them for an SHTF situation.

Not necessarily survuval and tactics, but what weapons should you know the manual of arms for, and if you're really paranoid what should you keep spare parts, mags, manuals etc.. around for.

Now at first I though "Huh, not a very useful question" but then I thought about it again for a mintue, and I realized, it's probably a good idea.

See I acquired my first Glock for exactly one reason. If I needed to give a gun to someone to back me up in an emergency, the gun they would most likely be able to operate properly would be a Glock. It's the nearly universal gun at this point. Everyone can figure it out, and everyone can shoot it with at least some degree of facility. If I had to give a gun to someone who'd never fired one I'd choose a revolver, but the Glock would be a close second.

So I recognize the utilit of having "universal" gun skills. My picks are designed to give the most utility and cross platform knowledge, as well as to be the most likely scrounged weapons if in the US or operating near US forces.

Oh and it's not a bad buy list either, if you may have to equip folks at some point.

OK so what should you know in terms of basic firearms use for SHTF situations - in appx order (assuming you are an American, operating around US or US supported forces):

1. AR based systems (especially malfunction drills)
2. AK based systems
3. Pump action shotgun basics (any one of the three majors should let you operate and figger out t’others)
4. 1911 and other browning tilting link based handguns
5. Browning Hi-Power and the MANY modern handguns based on that system (especially in Europe)
6. Beretta M92
7. Glock
9. Revolver
9. Basic bolt action rifle. Rem 700 or Win model 70 (or both).
10. M1/M1A/M14 based systems

If you understand the manual of arms, and maintenance for each of these weapons you should be able to operate effectively most of the individual small arms you are likely to come into contact with.

Oh and a note: if you understand 4-7 above, there should be NO semiautomatic handgun you can’t figure out, except perhpas the Mauser M2, HKP7, and the gas operated guns like the Desert Eagle.

Also useful would be the HK personal weapons operating system, which is shared across most of their line (SMG’s, assault rifles, sniper rifles, machine guns).

The SKS is certainly a gun you ought to know, but honestly, if you can’t figure out how to work an SKS in just a few minutes, including cleaning, diassembly etc… I don’t think I want to hand you a gun.

Which is also why I recommend the SKS for a bulk buy if you need to gear up some folks. Personally I'd also get some synth stocks, and cheap red dots (with mounts) and youd be good to go.

Someone on the NoR forum recommended knowing the FAL, and while I agree it’s a useful thing to know, they aren’t nearly as common as they once were, nor as common as the other choices above when operating around U.S. forces. On the other hand if you are operating in Africa, and DON’T know the FAL, you are in deep shit.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The songs of the states

So I mentioned in a previous post that I was taught a pair of songs to memorize the fity states and their capitols.

Well of course some commenter asked for them, so here goes:

The 50 States That Rhyme Song
Tune: Turkey in the Straw

Alabama, and Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas
California, Colorado, Co-nnecticut and more
Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho
Illinois, Indi-a-na, I-o-wa still thrity five to go

Kansas, and Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine
Maryland, Massachusetts and good old Michigan
Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, and Montana
Nebraska's 27, number 28's Nevada

Next, New Hampshire, and New Jersey, and way down, New Mexico
There's New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio
Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, now let's see
Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee

Texas and there's Utah, Vermont, I'm almost through
Virginia and there's Washington, and West Virginia, too
Could Wisconsin be the last state or is it just 49?
No, Wyoming is the last state in The 50 States That Rhyme!
Now I think the BEST version of this next one is from "The Animaniacs". Ya gotta love it when Wakko growls out "And Nevada Carson City":
The 50 State Capitals Song
Tune: Turkey in the Straw

Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Indianapolis, Indiana;
And Columbus is the capital of Ohio
There's Montgomery, Alabama south of Helena, Montana
Then there's Denver, Colorado under Boise, Idaho.

Texas has Austin, then we go north to
Massachusetts, Boston; and Albany, New York
Tallahassee, Florida; and Washington, D.C.
Santa Fe, New Mexico; and Nashville, Tennessee
(Elvis used to hang out there a lot, ya know)

Trenton's in New Jersey north of Jefferson, Missouri
You got Richmond in Virginia, South Dakota has Pierre
Harrisburg's in Pennsylvania and Augusta's up in Maine
And here is Providence, Rhode Island next to Dover, Delaware.

Concord, New Hampshire, just a quick jaunt to
Montpelier which is up in Vermont
Hartford's in Connecticut, so pretty in the fall
And Kansas has Topeka, Minnesota has St. Paul

Juneau's in Alaska and there's Lincoln in Nebraska
And it's Raleigh out in North Carolina
And then there's Madison, Wisconsin and Olympia in Washington
Phoenix, Arizona and Lansing, Michigan

Here's Honolulu, Hawaii's a joy
Jackson, Mississippi and Springfield, Illinois
South Carolina with Columbia down the way
And Annapolis in Maryland on the Chesapeake Bay
(They have wonderful clam chowder.)

Cheyenne is in Wyoming and perhaps you make your home in
Salt Lake City out in Utah where the buffalo roam
Atlanta's down in Georgia and there's Bismarck, North Dakota
And you can live in Frankfort in your old Kentucky home.

Salem in Oregon, from there we join
Little Rock in Arkansas, Iowa's got Des Moines
Sacramento, California; Oklahoma and its city
Charleston, West Virginia and Nevada, Carson City.

And that's all the capitals, there are!
Ahhh, the turkey in the straw... it really is the universal childrens song.

Oh and just for gits and shiggles, let's go into that everlesting pit of horror... OFFICAL STATE SONGS. Let's just take my native, and adopted home states, Massachusetts, and Arizona:

Arizona
Written by Margaret Rowe Clifford
Composed by Maurice Blumenthal

Come to this land of sunshine
To this land where life is young.
Where the wide, wide world is waiting,
The songs that will now be sung.
Where the golden sun is flaming
Into warm, white shining day,
And the sons of men are blazing
Their priceless right of way.

chorus

Come stand beside the rivers
Within our valley broad.
Stand here with heads uncovered,
In the presence of our God!
While all around, about us
The brave, unconquered band,
As guardians and landmarks
The giant mountains stand.

chorus

Not alone for gold and silver
Is Arizona great.
But with graves of heroes sleeping,
All the land is consecrate!
O, come and live beside us
However far ye roam
Come and help us build up temples
And name those temples "home."

chorus

Sing the song that's in your hearts
Sing of the great Southwest,
Thank God, for Arizona
In splendid sunshine dressed.
For thy beauty and thy grandeur,
For thy regal robes so sheen
We hail thee Arizona
Our Goddess and our queen.
Wow... that's just... damn that's bad. I mean REALLY bad.
All Hail To Massachusetts
Written by Arthur J. Marsh

All hail to Massachusetts, the land of the free and the brave!
For Bunker Hill and Charlestown, and flag we love to wave;
For Lexington and Concord, and the shot heard 'round the world;
All hail to Massachusetts, we'll keep her flag unfurled.
She stands upright for freedom's light that shines from sea to sea;
All hail to Massachusetts! Our country 'tis of thee!

All hail to grand old Bay State, the home of the bean and the cod,
Where pilgrims found a landing and gave their thanks to God.
A land of opportunity in the good old U.S.A.
Where men live long and prosper, and people come to stay.
Don't sell her short but learn to court her industry and stride;
All hail to grand old Bay State! The land of pilgrim's pride!

All hail to Massachusetts, renowned in the Hall of Fame!
How proudly wave her banners emblazoned with her name!
In unity and brotherhood, sons and daughters go hand in hand;
All hail to Massachusetts, there is no finer land!
It's M-A-S-S-A-C-H-U-S-E-T-T-S.
All hail to Massachusetts! All hail! All hail! All hail!
Okay, that's not AS bad... still horrible, but not AS bad.

Oh and although "All Hail Massachusetts" is the OFFICIAL state song, "The Spirit of Massachusetts" has been the unofficial state song for more than 20 years.

More hero worship - Walter Williams

So a few months back I wrote a post "Citizen or Subject" about how the citizens of the UNited States have a duty to actively resist laws that are contrary to the constitution.

Well Walter Williams has a lovely little exposition about this very topic today.
" You say, "Hey, Williams, but it's the law!" In the late-1700s, the British Parliament enacted the Sugar Act, the Stamp Act and the Townshend Acts, and imposed other grievances that are enumerated in our Declaration of Independence. I'm happy that we didn't have today's Americans around at the time to bow before King George III and say, "It's the law.""
With smart folks around such as Williams and Thomas Sowell, why is it the only "black leaders" we ever see in the media are Louis Farrakhan, Jessie Jackson, and Al Sharpton?

Yet more evidence that John Stossel should be president

By now y'all should know I'm a big fan of libertarian, anti-idotarian, and consumer advocate John Stossell.

Well in this article,Myths About Gun Control Stossel takes on, in his classic "Give me a BREAK" style, gun control.

"Guns are dangerous. But myths are dangerous, too. Myths about guns are very dangerous, because they lead to bad laws. And bad laws kill people.

"Don't tell me this bill will not make a difference," said President Clinton, who signed the Brady Bill into law.

Sorry. Even the federal government can't say it has made a difference. The Centers for Disease Control did an extensive review of various types of gun control: waiting periods, registration and licensing, and bans on certain firearms. It found that the idea that gun control laws have reduced violent crime is simply a myth."

This is almsot as good as the Penn and Teller "Bullshit" episode on Gun Control.

" Talking to prisoners about guns emphasizes a few key lessons. First, criminals don't obey the law. (That's why we call them "criminals.") Second, no law can repeal the law of supply and demand. If there's money to be made selling something, someone will sell it."


Now just why is it that supposedly intelligent folks don't seem to understand that?

I always was good with geography

Could you pass third grade geography?

48/48 in less than half the required time.

They also taught me a song that rhymed and alphebetized the fifty states, and another for the capitols.

I still remember them 20+ years later.

HT: Eric the Grumbler

More bad beats

It was a night of bad beats.

First seating, I kept getting great hands. I had straight, I had flushes, I had sets, I had boats... and I had every single one of them beat by a higher hand.

I went out with the eights full of kings... and they had eights full of aces.

Second seating, second hand, I get fours full of threes. She gets fours full of fives.

Just not my night.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

A Sci-fi meme

John Scalzi, one of the first bloggers and a starting-to-be-successful Sci-Fi author in his own right; has recently published a book in the Rough Guide series: The Rough Guide to Science Fiction

Well, one of his readers, another blogger has started a fun little meme. In the book, Scalzi lists what he calls "The Canon", much as literati talk of the canon of western fiction etc... this list is about the greatest, most influential, most interesting, most appreciated or obesessed over films in SF history.

Heres Scalzi describing the list in his own words:

"the part of the book that's going to get most people's attention -- and raise hackles -- is The Canon, which features the 50 science fiction films I have deemed to be the most significant in the history of film. Note that "most significant" does not mean "best" or "most popular" or even "most influential." Some of the films may be all three of these, but not all of them are -- indeed, some films in The Canon aren't objectively very good, weren't blockbusters and may not have influenced other filmmakers to any significant degree. Be that as it may, I think they matter -- in one way or another, they are uniquely representative of some aspect of the science fiction film experience.

You ask: Why do I get to choose what films are in the canon? Well, you know: 15 years of film reviewing and following the business of cinema, and a lifelong interest in science fiction, gives me some amount of credibility. Being a published science fiction author doesn't hurt, either. Now, I didn't start this project thinking I knew it all -- some of you may recall I made an open call for people to suggest their thoughts on the most significant SF films -- but by the time I got down to the writing, I felt comfortable with the list I drew up, and in saying that these were the most significant SF films of all time.

Now, let me be clear: I don't expect everyone to agree with my selections for the Science Fiction Film Canon. Indeed, what fun would it be if everyone did? I hope that people use The Canon list as a springboard for starting a wide-ranging debate about what science fiction films truly matter. So if you think my list is crap, bully for you. Do better. Be aware I'm willing to fight to the death for this list; otherwise, bring it on."
The meme in question is simple. Just take the list, bold the ones youve seen and like, leave alone the ones you don't care about or havent seen, and strike out the ones you've seen and really dont like.

Without further adieu, the list:
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension!
Akira
Alien
Aliens
Alphaville
Back to the Future
Blade Runner
Brazil
Bride of Frankenstein
Brother From Another Planet
A Clockwork Orange
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Contact
The Damned
Destination Moon
The Day The Earth Stood Still
Delicatessen
Escape From New York
ET: The Extraterrestrial
Flash Gordon: Space Soldiers (serial)
The Fly (1985 version)
Forbidden Planet
Ghost in the Shell
Gojira/Godzilla
The Incredibles
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956 version)
Jurassic Park
Mad Max 2/The Road Warrior
The Matrix
Metropolis
On the Beach
Planet of the Apes (1968 version)
Robocop
Sleeper
Solaris (1972 version)
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
The Stepford Wives
Superman
Terminator 2: Judgement Day
The Thing From Another World
Things to Come
Tron
12 Monkeys
28 Days Later
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
2001: A Space Odyssey
La Voyage Dans la Lune
War of the Worlds (1953 version)


Yaknow, there needs to be more there, because some of those movies I like a bit, some I like for camp value, or cinematography or style, and some I think are frikken brilliant... Of course what I think is most interesting is jsut how many of them I HAVE seen. I revel in my geekitude.

It has a PHASE?

BTDT - Though my bosses were never so open about their assassination plans ...


Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Minimal content warning

Things are gonna be a bit light (and yes I know they already have been) around here the next few days.

I'm in the midst of writing a 60+ page business doc and it's taking all my time and more (lots more. I'm usually up til 2-3 am anyway, but I'm usually reading not writing). The original deadline was Friday, but now they want to do a presentation on thursday which means I need to be done tonight so we can edit and prep for the presentation tomorrow.

The shit of it is, I could write this as a one or two pager, and it wouldnt make a difference. In fact I WILL do that when I write the executive summary, which is all most of them are going to read anyway.

Gotta love the consulting business.

Monday, October 17, 2005

I have cousins

With each one of the "White" names...

Update on the NoR

See guys, it was jsut a tech problem. No black helicopters or JBT's:

The Gun Guy --
"Sorry about the interruption of service.

We have given pMachine Hosting (BBUTN) a blanket okay that, if they need to bring down the site/servers/whatever for maintenance, they can do it over weekends.

This, however, was an unanticipated event (typo in the new server bootup or some such, followed by a virus software issue). Personally, I blame the Democrats.

Sincere apologies to all those who were deprived of their fix this past weekend…"



So hopefully this kind of thing wont be hapnin too often, but if it does, I'll have a post up about it K...

No News on the NoR Yet

Okay guys, stop calling, emailing, IMing, txting, and commenting me about the status of the NoR for a while K...

As soon as I know something I'll put up a post here. You can comment on this post, but folks have left "Why is the NoR down" comments on every post I've made this week.

It's great to know how important the NoR is to everyone, and as soon as I have something to share, it'll be up there.

Thanks.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

A little Comparison

The Pats are about to go up agasint the Broncs in mile high.

A tough enough game under normal conditions, but take a look at these:

Patriots injured list

OUT RB Kevin Faulk (Foot)
T Matt Light (Ankle)
QUESTIONABLE OLB Tully Banta-Cain (Knee)
ILB Monty Beisel (Finger)
WR Troy Brown (Foot)
ILB Matt Chatham (Knee)
RB Corey Dillon (Ankle)
CB Randall Gay (Ankle)
DE Jarvis Green (Shoulder)
DE Marquise Hill (Ankle)
ILB Larry Izzo (Thigh)
OLB Willie McGinest (Finger)
CB Tyrone Poole (Ankle)
SS James Sanders (Ankle)
FS Guss Scott (Knee)
DE Richard Seymour (Knee)
CB Duane Starks (Thigh)
PROBABLE QB Tom Brady (Shoulder)

Broncos Injured List

QUESTIONABLE CB Roc Alexander (Hamstring)
CB Champ Bailey (Hamstring)
OLB Louis Green (Hamstring)
PROBABLE RB Tatum Bell (Toe)
G Cooper Carlisle (Ankle)
SS Nick Ferguson (Hand)



18 players injured, including Brady, Faulk, Starks, Seymour, McGinest, Green, Dillon... never mind Harrison and Bruschi; and people keep asking why the pats arent performing....

Shit it's a wonder they're at .600

Amazingly enough though, they're at +3.5 on a 47.5 over against the Broncos... I'm notn sure I get that one, but I'm hoping everones right.

Of course the general run of football this year hasnt been one of breakout performers. The Pats are #1 in the division, and tied for fifth in the conference with Jacksonville (behind Indy, Denver and miracle of miracles, Cincinatti).

Hell the NFC is looking even worse. The only team in the NFC with a better record is... TAMPA BAY.... it's a sign of the apocalypse I tell ya.

Remember the predictions I made last week about placement for this week? Yeah they were all correct. That said, cinci is keeping the hope alive for now. WHile the thought of them actually winning their division is I think laughable, they are in good position for a wildcard (I still think tennessee is going to kick their ass).

UPDATE: 28-20, it was a hard fought game, but soooo many mistakes, and no backfield... Wello you just cant win playing that way.

Oh and Robert, NFC east being the toughest division and Dallas all the way? Dude you are on crack. Philly is gonna stomp your ass, and the NFC south is definitely the tougher division this year. Hell most of the AFC is tougher than the NFC (of course it was t'other way around for ... 25 years or thereabouts).

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Not really pizza

Okay, so normally I DESPISE chain pizza.

Actually simply calling what Pizza Slut, Little Caesar, Papa Johns, and Spaminos "pizza" is generally significantly less than accurate, if not offensive.

And in fact, the subject of this post isn't really what I'd call a pizza. It's basically a steak and cheese sub served in slices, and it's DAMNED GOOD.

You should really try the Dominos steak fanatic pizza. I've had it twice jsut to make sure before recommending it, once regular crust, once "deep dish", and I'm lovin it.

I've always said that Dominos didn't so much serve it's deep dish pizza on a crust as it does on doughy bread. Well, add extra cheese sauce, and extra steak to the steak fanatic deep dish, have them do it "well done", and hey there you go with a half decent cheese steak.

I do think the regular crust is better with it though.

Actually there is a better "not a pizza" pizza out there, but it's a specialty thing they only do a couple times a year; the buffalo chicken pizza from Pizza slut. It's basically big chunks of grilled chicken smothered in buffalo sauce, with cheddar cheese and more buffalo sauce. The sauce sinks nicely into the deep dish crust and you end up with bufalo chicken goodness.

At one point I refused to do business with Pizza Slut because of their policy on drivers defending themselves. Unfortunately now every delivery pizza chain has followed suit, and while I'm a defender of gun rights and the right to self defense, I'm also a lazy pizza lover; and I'm not giving up my delivery pizza.

Oh and pizza slut has pretty good chicken nugget type things, and very tasty DEEP FRIED APPLE PIES.

Remember when McDOnalds had those deep fried pies? God I miss those. The pizza slut ones are better, except when they put too much cinammon and sugar on them.

Now if any pizza chain could figure out how to make actual buffalo wings that dont suck (hint, deep frying or broiling are a necessity. Skin should be CRISPY not slimy)

I wonder what the other options are..

An intersting test... seem like it may have been written by someone with some interest in military history but there are some odd questions, and some odd answers... anyway try it:

Julius Caesar
You scored 57 Wisdom, 81 Tactics, 59 Guts, and 50 Ruthlessness!

Roman military and political leader. He was instrumental in the
transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire. His
conquest of Gallia Comata extended the Roman world all the way to the
Atlantic Ocean, introducing Roman influence into what has become modern
France, an accomplishment of which direct consequences are visible to
this day. In 55 BC Caesar launched the first Roman invasion of Britain.
Caesar fought and won a civil war which left him undisputed master of
the Roman world, and began extensive reforms of Roman society and
government. He was proclaimed dictator for life, and heavily
centralized the already faltering government of the weak Republic.
Caesar's friend Marcus Brutus conspired with others to assassinate
Caesar in hopes of saving the Republic. The dramatic assassination on
the Ides of March was the catalyst for a second set of civil wars,
which marked the end of the Roman Republic and the beginning of the
Roman Empire under Caesar's grand-nephew and adopted son Octavian,
later known as Caesar Augustus.
Caesar's military campaigns are known in detail from his own written
Commentaries (Commentarii), and many details of his life are recorded
by later historians such as Suetonius, Plutarch, and Cassius Dio.



My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 27% on Unorthodox
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 85% on Tactics
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 65% on Guts
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 56% on Ruthlessness
Link: The Which Historic General Are You Test written by dasnyds on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the 32-Type Dating Test


HT: CowboyBlob

The perils of outsourcing and excessive management

So I'm inspired today by Francis Porrettos post on The Seductions of Management

Let's just consider this hypothetical:

So there's a contract for this company, and the company has literally outsourced their entire sharp end.

No seriously. All their operations, all their technicians, all their administrators, all their develpers, every department that actually DOES anything related to their end users is contracted out.

Even better they're "blackbox" contracts.

The whole company is nothing but middle managers, project managers, "architects" who are actually project managers...

They have plenty of good technically competent people, who have been turned into ineffective "architects" because all they ever do is "manage" and "architect" projects that are outsourced to other companies. Everyone who actually DID anything was either "promoted", laid off, quit, or retired.

Even better, they don't have anyone overseeing the operations of those outsourced companies. They get copious quantities of utterly meaningless reports which look great, they get status reports etc... but theres no actual operational control (hence the blackbox contract).

So the requirement for THIS particular contract is to produce an incredibly important multi-platform solution, in three phases. First phase is requirements gathering, second is competitive evaluation for COTS acquired components, and third is solution delivery.

The whole project was given a ridiculously compressed timeline. The initial requirement was specified two years earlier, to be completed by the end of that two years, or suffer contract penalties.

The project actually got started 11 weeks before the deadline, with requirements and evaluation given 5 weeks, and solution delivery the rest of the time.

Finally after three weeks of conflicting answers "Oh he's the one responsible for that" 'no, I don't have that, she does" "Oh not it's this person"... the team just gives it up as a bad job, and since they cant get directly on the systems (that whole blackbox thing again) they write requirements based on their professional experience and assumptions, and conduct competitive evaluations based on that.

So the evaluation report is delivered...

"Wow, you guys have done an amazing job collecting this informaiton, and getting this evaluation done. We dont generally see that kind of quality work."

The best bit is though, half the teams time is spent delivering status reports, writing status updates and email, updating project plans...

So as part of the solution evaluation, a basic timeline is produced for the delivery phase of the project.

The question comes from the PMO: "Was this estimate in actual work time, or in {insert company name here} time?"

From team: "We wrote that in 100% effort time. We have no way of accurately estimating any other time requirements"

PMO: "We're going to need to translate that
{insert company name here} into time"

The project team was completely stunned by the honesty of that statement.
Okay so hypothetical over.

I've seen it dozens of times, and so has just about any other contractor in a position similar to mine.

Folks, keep control over your operations, and recognize that 80% of all management "work" is simply justifying the existence of the management organization.

I've been an operations manager, and that SHOULD be a real job. Of course maybe half my time was wasted telling the next level of management what was going on, who spent half THEIR time doing the same thing etc...

If there is more than one layer of project management, i.e. you have dedicated project managers managing other dedicated project managers, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?

You're spending lots of money for absolutely nothing.

Ok I need to stop now before I break something.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Missed it by THAT much...

So I'm playing poker last night, high out of my mind on non-prescription decongestants and assorted pain relievers, cough suppressants etc...

I'm having an okay game, it's still early days with blinds at $100/$200, and I'm up maybe $1000 (to $5000 total).

So I get Q-J of diamonds in the pocket and another well known muscle player starts agressively raising pre-flop. We go through it till we're the only two left, and theres $2000 from each of us in the pot before the flop.

Flop comes out, A-d 4-c K-d, and I open the bet with $1000, he comes back at me with $2k and I know hes got the A, but I'm thinking... ok I'm four cards into the royal flush, which means I'm four cards into the straight, and four cards into the flush, any ten or any diamond and I'm in. I KNOW he doesnt have the kings or a set of aces because he would have pushed all in preflop if he had...

Fuck it, I'm not gonna miss the chance of a royal, I go all in, (another $1200 over his raise), and he calls me immediately.

He's got Ace diamond 4 spades and he's got me thinking "WTF was he doing putting 2K in the pot preflop with that?"

So we're two pair to the double draw. Any ten or diamond other than a 4 and I'm the winner

Brad: Oh shit, you bastard you're probably gonna draw that
Chris: Well I knew you had the ace...

Turn comes out and it's a blank (8-c) and he's getting a bit relieved....

River comes out, and it's a diamond...

the FOUR of diamonds...

I made my flush, but he made a full house.

Aww fuck

Pulling number out of their...

Warbs Co-Blogger Wilson had this little blurb up today:
A report was released yesterday (where is it? no idea) that says anyone with less than a 3.7% raise in salary last year essentially is making less money because of the increase in gas prices. How much gas are people buying? I guess I am in the dark. I have pretty much always worked from a home office, so I fill up the tank about twice a month. How often do normal people have to get gas?
Yeah, I'm'na call bullshit on that number.

The "average" person in America drives 12,000 miles a year, and gets 24-26 miles per gallon.

So the "average" person is buying something like 460-500 gallons a year.

Of course that "average" includes folks like Wilson, who buy maybe half that; and my grandmother who buys about 16 gallons a month. I generally drive more, and I only average 22mpg, so I buy about 900 gallons year.

Anecdotally, the average person who commutes to work fills up about once a week, after using about 3/4 of their tank. This is pretty consistent across vehicle types, but in a lot of areas commute times and distances are getting longer so that may be changing.

The average fuel capacity for passenger vehicles in America is 14 gallons, so given behavioral trends you can guess that the average commuter is buying about 12 gallons of gas a week, or about 600 gallons a year.

Of course if you're driving a hummer with 15mpg hwy, and a 30 gallon fuel tank, you're probably filling up about as often, it just costs you twice as much. But much as the leftists of this world would like to have us believe, not everyone drives hummers.

Aaaanyway...

Given the $1 average price per gallon differential over the last year, at 600 gallons of gas, that's about $600 more this year. In order for that to be the equivalent of offsetting a 3.7% raise, the individual in question would have to make about $16k a year.

Considering per capita household income in the U.S. is $42k, and personal per-capita income is I just under $25k this year, that analysis doesnt fly.

OK, maybe they're including inflation?

Inflation 2004-2005 was 2.7%, so for $600 price increase to amount to 1% of income, you would need to make $60,000 a year.

Maybe they are including the estimated effect of gas prices on the consumer price index (CPI)?

Well, according to best estimates, that's about .5% of real consumer price increases EXCLUDING GASOLINE (so far anyway). Of course since the average American household is currently spending more than 100% of their income annually (estimates vary based on interst rates etc...) that's a fair bit of direct impact.

The real percentage of income offset by the increase in gas prices looks like about 2-3% even taking into account all of that.

Somehow I don't think their 3.7% number has any basis in fact.

Funny coincidence though, the average year over year raise in the U.S. ?

About 4%

I wonder if that might have anything to do with how they came up with that number?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Catch 22

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Acidman is dying, or at least he believes he is dying. He's got pretty good reason to believe that, and so he's making ready for the end of his life. Rob has been very sick, for a very long time, and life has been more than unkind to him; he's ready to go.

Rob has made the decision that he is not going to seek treatment. He is ready to die. He doesn't particularly want to die, but he isn't going to fight against dying; he's just going to live until he doesn't anymore.

For some reason, a lot of folks seem to have a problem with that.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

We're talking about this over at the River Dogs place, and a commenter came up with the standard Catch 22 about the right to die:

Livey:

What people are failing to realize is that Rob does not have a terminal illness. His only illness is depression and alcoholism. Those illnesses prevent him from being of "sound mind."

If a person has a terminal medical condition, I'm all for the right to die. Hell I've been involved in more than a few. I do Home Health Care and Hospice.

If he was truly wishing to die, he would not have told everyone he was drinking himself to death. That is a cry for help. I understand that people don't understand depression.

Even people who are not of sound mind can seem like it. Alcoholics are not of sound mind. Neither are people suffering from depression.

All I asked is for his friends and family to get him to a doctor, find out what is wrong with him and if he is dying, than so be it. But drinking yourself to death just because you don't want to live anymore is just wrong.

Religion has nothing to do with it. It's a illness that can be treated.

If you are not crazy you do not want to die, therefore if you want to die, you must be crazy.

Except that is, excuse my language, utter bullshit.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
My mother is ready to die. She is in excruciating pain every moment, waking and asleep, in those rare few moments she is able to sleep at all.

My mother is ready to die, her illness is terminal, she will no longer seek theraputic treatment,though she continues palliative treatment. It is her desire to no longer fight the forces of nature.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
My mother is ready to die, and she is not insane. She is ready to die, and it is her right to choose as she has.

It is not your right to save someone from themselves. If someone wishes to die, they have the absolute right to do so. To force someone to live when they do not wish to is no different than slavery.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

"But what about the mentally ill, they can't decide for themselves"...

There are many things that the mentally ill should not be able to decide. This is not one of them. If they decide they want to die, then they should be allowed to die. It is the only decision they have left.

Not only that, but one could simply go one step further and say, as the commenter above, that anyone who has decided to die is, by definition; mentally ill.
And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Rob is ready to die.
My mother is ready to die.
We can stop them.
We should not.

Geek overload

Okay, so I'm going into total geek mode here.

I just got my City of Villains beta, AND both the Serenity and new Mage RPG's today. Oh and I grabbed a copy of supersystem 2 and I'm gonna re-read them both, plus I've got about 30 books in the queue.

And the next "Wheel of Time" from Jordan, and "Song of Ice and Fire" from George R.R. Martin are both out before the end of the month.

I don't even know where to begin, but it's gonna be fun.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Attempting to work today

So the fecal matter is vigorously rebounding off the rotating air movement device at the job, and against my better health, I'm working.

I predict I will be as efficient as Congress in September of an election year; but I have to be here for face time if nothing else.

Extremely haggard looking face time.

Ahhh the joys of corporate America.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Fever broke

I'm still feeling like I was tied up in a sack and tossed down a gravel hill, but I'm starting to feel better.

The fever finally broke around 5 am this morning, and I was able to sleep for a few hours straight through (rather than fever sleep which is so very not restful).

Through the miracle of modern pharmacology I am able to sit upright, and mostly breathe without spasming or coughing up bloody mucus(mostly).

It's times like this we are reminded jsut how disgusting a thing the human body can be.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

A Near Run Thing...

God DAMN that was close; and ugly.

Good offense in the first half, but the Pats just sort of collapsed in the second, and let Atlanta fight back to tie it.

A couple unanswered touchdowns will do that.

But Brady and the boys stepped up, brought it down to well within field goal range, ran the clock down to the minimum, and once again gave it to Vinateri for the win: 31-28.

So it's 3-2 pats, and a Miami loss (as predicted a few days ago)and we're back in the division lead, and third in the AFC.

Of course there are only three undefeated teams left coming in to week five; the Redskins, Bengals, and Colts.

I think we can safely say the 'skins record is a fluke (they are a bye team), and the Bengals is a miracle. Indy is good, but really it's been their schedule more than anything that's left them in this position. Not that their schedule has been EASY, but it hasnt been too hard either.

I'd expect that later today Denver and Jacksonville will reduce that undefeated count to 1, but the chances of SF beating Indy are... well miniscule might be a good way of describing it.

Injuries are such a factor this season, for so many teams, that I really don't know whats going to happen.

I'm thinking the AFC playoff picture is going to look something like this

East: Patriots (the division isn't looking as tough this year as in past years)
North: Steelers (Even though their perfomance so far... they are still the best team)
South: Colts (no question. By far the best team in the div)
West: Broncos (but I'm not confident in that pick. Denver has been too inconsistent lately)

The wildcard picture is pretty muddled. I think Cinci has a real shot (4 more wins and they are there), KC, Jax...

And I'm not even gonna try and TOUCH the NFC. That picutre is just way too screwed up. I mean, Tampa Bay leading the division, and the Packers trailing it?

102 degrees

Unfortunately not the outside temperature; but the "inside Chris's painfully achey body" temperature.

Argh...

My god, they made a sequel?

I was scanning tvguide.com for something to watch at 1:33 am (I've got the flu and feel like shit, but can't sleep), and I saw one of the most frightning things I've ever seen...

Dungeons & Dragons
: Wrath of the Dragon god

My god, what were they thinking. Was the first not enough evil? I find myself wondering why the massive suckage of that film did not create a singularity destroying the earth and erasing all memory of it from existence... but I digress.

Amazingly enough, Bruce Payne (who is actually a decent actor) came back from the first movie, reprising his role as Damodar (the evil blue guy).

From the IMDB text:
"Based on the phenomenally successful role-playing game, Dungeons & Dragons 2 takes you deeper into the dark and fantastical world of this fantasy epic. When the evil sorcerer Damodar braves a perilous whirlwind vortex to steal the elemental black orb he declares a sinister plan of vengeance against the kingdom of Ismir. Berek, a decorated warrior, and Melora, an amateur sorceress join four heroes representing Intelligence, Wisdom, Honor and Strength to battle against Damodar's growing army of gruesome creatures, flying harpies and an ice dragon to reach a vault room holding the orb. Together, they build their own army to retrieve the orb using elemental forces to defeat Damodar before he summons the sleeping black dragon whose omnipotent evil powers could lay waste to the entire kingdom."
Ok so I just HAVE to watch this. The cheez compels me...

"Well it's always been my great ambition to sully the virtue of a well bred mage".

So I'm reading the reviews on IMDB and apparently the D&D fanboys like this one...

I'm goin in, wish me luck...

UPDATE: My god, it is entirely a D&D campaign made into a movie. There is certainly a TON of cheez, but the fanboy gamer in me keeps seeing things that are directly D&d accurate/appropriate, and thus my disgust is being overcome by my fanboyness.

As punishment I will have to Storytell a game of:




As a metageek torture, I will play a 5th gen game master, running a white wolf Vampire/Werewolf crossover campaign only for freshman girls and members of the art club and poetry magazine staff; then have it planeshift into ravenloft.

Friday, October 07, 2005

A disappointing year...

Lesse the Red Sox get embarrasingly swept...

The Patriots are 2-2, and sad enough that puts them in second in the division (probably first this weekend when Miami gets smashed by Buffalo).

Injuries injuries injuries. The pats went up against San Diego with 19 injured last week. We've got the Falcons and the Broncos ahead of us, both away games. Oh and 10 on the injured list this week.

Color me discouraged.

Hmmm, never really thought about that

But I do love the muppets, and well... the patriotism thing...

sam jpeg
You are Sam the Eagle.
You are patriotic and devoted. And extremely anal.

HOBBIES:
Patriotism, Being appalled at what everyone else is
doing.
FAVORITE MUSIC:
The National Anthem of America

FAVORITE MOVIE:
"An American In....America"

LAST BOOK READ:
"Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus,
Eagles are from America"

QUOTE:
"Please stop that now! It's un-American!"


What Muppet are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Thursday, October 06, 2005

A question from a Marine...

This question was asked on the Nation of Riflemen a few days ago:
Woody -- "What’s with the division in Americans? Why is always Dummycrats or the idiots? I’m a Marine and am consequently surrounded by lots of Republicans. We engage in alot of political-themed conversations. They get pretty heated but they never end up in name calling. I’m not even a Democrat. I just go either way depending on the issue. I never understood why loving my Second Amendment rights outlines how I should feel about abortion or any other divisive issue."
Well, that's a bit of a tough answer.

I hate both republicans and democrats. I think they are both awful, and will bring about the eventual downfall of the country. The only reason I vote for republicans, is because they will at least “let” me be prepared for it when it happens, rather than being lead like a sheep to the slaughter.

I frequently call the republicans "The stupid party", and the democrats "The stupud and evil party".

The Republicans don't trust you with your dick, your veins, your nose, your lungs, your womb, or your soul.

The Democrats don't trust you with your soul, your brain, your speech, your pen, your language, your fists, your guns, your cars, your kids, or your money.

And they all want to control you.

I've said this before in my post on "liberal and conservative thinking"

Okay, so what I don't understand about the way both Liberals and Conservatives think, is this:

1. Liberals dont trust people to make the best decisions for themselves, their children, or society (Social spending, Education, "hate", Religion)

2. Based on this distrust, liberals believe that government should make legislation to force people to do that which they believe is correct

3. Conservatives dont trust people to make the best decisions for themselves, their children, or society (Drugs, Sex, "Love", Religion)

4. Based on this distrust, conservatives believe that government should make legislation to force people to do that which they believe is correct (or not do what they believe is incorrect)

5. The government is made up of comittees of people

6. The intelligence and wisdom of a commitee is almost invariably equal to that of the stupidest member, divided by the number of members in the committee

7. There are 435 members of the house of representatives and 100 members of the senate

8. There are 9 members of the supreme court

9. There is one president

10. If neither liberals, nor conservatives trust people to make good decisions for themselves or their children; why do they trust the government, with a collective IQ of (to be charitable) 120 divided by 545 ( 0.22) to implement legislation making decisions for OTHER peoples lives and children?


So why do I vote for either? Why don't I jsut vote libertarian?

Tactics, and crises.

I could not imagine a worse result from the 2000 elections than Al Gore becoming president. I voted against Gore.

I could not imagine a worse result from the 2004 elections than John Kerry becoming president. I voted against Kerry.

Give me a valid candidate, who isn't a tax evading, fraud commiting, pothead, anarchosocialist etc... and I'll vote for them.

But not when the stakes are so high that my vote will make a catastrophic result more likely.

I voted for Perot. Bill Clinton got two terms as president primarily because of him.I won't be doing that again any time soon; unless the options presented me are impossible for me to vote for.