Friday, October 30, 2009

Mood Music



The Warrior Song


I’ve got the reach and the teeth of a killin’ machine,
with a need to bleed you when the light goes green
best believe, I’m in a zone to be, from my Yin to my Yang to my Yang Tze

Put a grin on my chin when you come to me,
‘cuz I’ll win, I’m a one-of-a-kind and I’ll bring death

to the place you’re about to be: another river of blood runnin’ under my feet

Forged in a fire lit long ago, stand next to me, you’ll never stand alone
I’m last to leave, but the first to go, Lord, make me dead before you make me old

I feed on the fear of the devil inside of the enemy faces in my sights:
Aim with the hand, shoot with the mind, kill with a heart like arctic ice

I am a soldier and I’m marching on
I am a soldier and I’m marching on

I am a warrior and this is my song
I am a warrior and this is my song

I bask in the glow of the rising war, lay waste to the ground of an enemy shore
wade through the blood spilled on the floor, and if another one stands I’ll kill some more

bullet in the breach and a fire in me, like a cigarette thrown, to gasoline
if death don’t bring you fear, I swear, you’ll fear these marchin’ feet

Come to the nightmare, come to me, deep down in the dark where the devil be
in the maw with the jaws and the razor teeth, where the brimstone burns and the angel weeps

call to the gods if I cross your path and my silhouette hangs like a body bag
hope is a moment now long past, the shadow of death is the one I cast.

I am a soldier and I’m marching on
I am a warrior and this is my song
my eyes are steel and my gaze is long
I am a warrior and this is my song

now I live lean and I mean to inflict the grief,
and the least of me is still out of your reach

the killing machine’s gonna do the deed,
until the river runs dry and my last breath leaves

chin in the air with a head held high,
I’ll stand in the path of the enemy line

feel no fear,
know my pride:
for God and Country I’ll end your life


I am a soldier and I’m marching on
I am a warrior and this is my song
my eyes are steel and my gaze is long

I am a warrior and this is my song


The Warrior Song can be purchased on iTunes, and all profits go to the armed forces relief trust.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

And on the tail of that post...

I am reminded that I never posted the engagement photo (I did ask permission before posting):



Our friends, fellow forum members, and the kid's godparents JohnOC and Myrrhianna are to be married in April. Best wishes for them both, and hopes of babies soon!

Note from Chris: No, JohnOC is not my brother, he's just my friend; though he looks more like my brother "should", than my actual brother does. People ask us that all the time.

The REAL Post-Racial America

I did something extremely silly and masochistic this morning.

I chaperoned a school field trip. Wow it's been a long time since I've been on a school bus.

However, on that bus with 20 kids I noticed something. If I laid good money down, I'd guess between those 20 kids and their origins every continent except for Australia and Antarctica would be represented.

Seriously, every natural skin, hair, and eye color available made it onto that bus.

I sat behind daughter-the-younger and her seatmate. Daughter-the-younger bears round green eyes, brown hair, and freckled skin. Her seatmate? Almond-shaped brown eyes, latte-colored skin, and dark brown hair. I've heard tons about this girl before, but never once had I seen her and never once was I given any description other than "she's my friend".

These two girls are 5 and 6. My first introduction to race occurred at that age, when another kid asked me if I was white or not. These kids don't even know what that means.

Some would say, well sure the kids aren't racist. They've grown up with quotas and integration. They've been "taught" tolerance by the public school system, and school boundaries have forced their racist parents to deal with other races in the classroom.

Uh, no.

The school in question is a charter school with 75 students between Kindergarten and 12th grade. The 20 kids? The combination of K-3rd grade and 2 high-school students taking pictures for the yearbook.

No quotas. No integration. Open enrollment.

All of the kids attending this school? Their parents CHOSE to send them there.

Their parents arrange playdates. Volunteer together. Host mixed-race sleepovers.

AND NOBODY EVEN THINKS TWICE ABOUT IT.

The high school kids? Two girls, one African-American, one Mexican-American. Both ALL-American. Both conspiring and talking about boys together in the front seat.

We didn't need to elect a black president to make this country "post-racial". WE WERE ALREADY THERE.

These kids didn't sign themselves up for this school. These kids don't have their friends over without the permission of their parents.

My generation, the generation before me, and the generations before them ARE POST-RACIAL AMERICA.

Now can we stop hearing about how supposedly racist we all are?

Mel

NOTE: Life doesn't suck, we're not doomed, This isn't the end

Get some perspective, seriously.

That is all.

Yet more truth in comics

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pioneers, O Pioneers!

There's a vaguely creepy Levis commercial out there, using parts of Walt Whitmans poem, "Pioneers, O Pioneers":



To my mind, the visual imagery associated here, completely misses the point. The images here are more of the "teenage rebellion" thing, when in fact "O Pioneers" is about an entirely different sort of coming of age and exploration: that of our young nation (officially just 30 years old at Whitmans birth, and 76 at the publication of "Leaves of Grass" - the first published appearance of O Pioneers! - in 1865).

The ad campaign, titled "go forth", similarly mangles Whitmans poem "America"; in fact in a more abrasive and jarring way, though to less effect and impact (it's not as arresting a poem either, which might be part of it).

The cinematography, and direction of both ads, are... almost angry, and to my mind reminiscent of various French brutalist cinema verite from the 60s and 70s... Clearly, the ad agency, and creative director are very impressed with themselves.

In any event, entirely inappropriate to Whitman.

Whitman has a quality of longing that almost bleeds out of his words; not just in this poem of course, in many of his poems. He seemed to veer wildly from unbridled hope, to despair, to passion; at times expressing imagery and concepts in the same poem that seem almost hysterically opposed...

Perhaps this is unsurprising, as it has been theorized he was bi-polar; but that seems a prosaic and entirely un-romantic explanation for the man who bridged transcendentalist romanticism and realism.

Reading, you can almost see him looking off into the distant sunset, dreaming of where we will go as a nation, as a people... and yet sad because he is already too old, too far settled in life (though never in soul) to be a part of it; or perhaps too fearful.

Whitman looks on the future with hope, and optimism, and enthusiasm for unbridled possibility... and yet at the same time, with an edge of... perhaps, dread; and certainly trepidation... and sometimes resignation, sorrow, or even resentment.

One can imagine him thinking "we can do so much, achieve so much, be so great; and yet I fear we will not, we will throw it all away".

No matter what however, even in examining the past, Whitman always seems to be looking into the future.

This multifaceted nature is perhaps most clearly illustrated in "O Captain, My Captain":
O Captain my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weathered every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up--for you the flag is flung for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribboned wreaths for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck,
You've fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchored safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
... but this dichotomous expression is present in all his work to some degree or another.

There is a school of literary criticism and analysis out there that has; because of his apparent homosexuality or bisexuality, and his support various humanitarian and what at the time were viewed as "progressive" causes (notably the free soil movement); attempted to claim Whitman for the radical left.

Rubbish. Pure, utter, rubbish.

Whitman was in all things, an idealist. He believed in freedom, and humanity (however much abusive, and abused), and liberty. He believed in hope, and the betterment of man kind through the exploration and mastery of his nature and the world around him.

Whitman would no more support totalitarian collectivism, than he would fascism, or theocracy, or any other coercive restraint of human liberty, or human potential.

Whitman wasn't a socialist, or a communist, or a progressive, or a conservative... Whitman was a HUMANIST.

Just read, you'll see:

Pioneers! O Pioneers!
-- Walt Whitman

COME my tan-faced children,
Follow well in order, get your weapons ready,
Have you your pistols? have you your sharp-edged axes?
Pioneers! O pioneers!

For we cannot tarry here,
We must march my darlings, we must bear the brunt of danger,
We the youthful sinewy races, all the rest on us depend,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

O you youths, Western youths,
So impatient, full of action, full of manly pride and friendship,
Plain I see you Western youths, see you tramping with the foremost,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Have the elder races halted?
Do they droop and end their lesson, wearied over there beyond the seas?
We take up the task eternal, and the burden and the lesson,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

All the past we leave behind,
We debouch upon a newer mightier world, varied world,
Fresh and strong the world we seize, world of labor and the march,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

We detachments steady throwing,
Down the edges, through the passes, up the mountains steep,
Conquering, holding, daring, venturing as we go the unknown ways,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

We primeval forests felling,
We the rivers stemming, vexing we and piercing deep the mines within,
We the surface broad surveying, we the virgin soil upheaving,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Colorado men are we,
From the peaks gigantic, from the great sierras and the high plateaus,
From the mine and from the gully, from the hunting trail we come,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

From Nebraska, from Arkansas,
Central inland race are we, from Missouri, with the continental blood intervein'd,
All the hands of comrades clasping, all the Southern, all the Northern,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

O resistless restless race!
O beloved race in all! O my breast aches with tender love for all!
O I mourn and yet exult, I am rapt with love for all,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Raise the mighty mother mistress,
Waving high the delicate mistress, over all the starry mistress,
(bend your heads all,)
Raise the fang'd and warlike mistress, stern, impassive, weapon'd mistress,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

See my children, resolute children,
By those swarms upon our rear we must never yield or falter,
Ages back in ghostly millions frowning there behind us urging,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

On and on the compact ranks,
With accessions ever waiting, with the places of the dead quickly fill'd,
Through the battle, through defeat, moving yet and never stopping,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

O to die advancing on!
Are there some of us to droop and die? has the hour come?
Then upon the march we fittest die, soon and sure the gap is fill'd.
Pioneers! O pioneers!

All the pulses of the world,
Falling in they beat for us, with the Western movement beat,
Holding single or together, steady moving to the front, all for us,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Life's involv'd and varied pageants,
All the forms and shows, all the workmen at their work,
All the seamen and the landsmen, all the masters with their slaves,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

All the hapless silent lovers,
All the prisoners in the prisons, all the righteous and the wicked,
All the joyous, all the sorrowing, all the living, all the dying,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

I too with my soul and body,
We, a curious trio, picking, wandering on our way,
Through these shores amid the shadows, with the apparitions pressing,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Lo, the darting bowling orb!
Lo, the brother orbs around, all the clustering suns and planets,
All the dazzling days, all the mystic nights with dreams,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

These are of us, they are with us,
All for primal needed work, while the followers there in embryo wait behind,
We to-day's procession heading, we the route for travel clearing,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

O you daughters of the West!
O you young and elder daughters! O you mothers and you wives!
Never must you be divided, in our ranks you move united,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Minstrels latent on the prairies!
(Shrouded bards of other lands, you may rest, you have done your work,)
Soon I hear you coming warbling, soon you rise and tramp amid us,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Not for delectations sweet,
Not the cushion and the slipper, not the peaceful and the studious,
Not the riches safe and palling, not for us the tame enjoyment,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Do the feasters gluttonous feast?
Do the corpulent sleepers sleep? have they lock'd and bolted doors?
Still be ours the diet hard, and the blanket on the ground,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Has the night descended?
Was the road of late so toilsome? did we stop discouraged nodding on our way?
Yet a passing hour I yield you in your tracks to pause oblivious,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Till with sound of trumpet,
Far, far off the daybreak call-hark! how loud and clear I hear it wind,
Swift! to the head of the army!-swift! spring to your places,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Some lefties actually know how to make fun of themselves



Mostly Zimmerman makes fun of conservatives; but her really goes after assholes, whackjobs, and extremists of all stripes. A lefty with some perspective, and a sense of humor... Too bad that seems to be so rare these days.

Just a Mood

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

It's called Fan Service

And Nathan Fillion is REVELING in it here (replaced the youtube excerpt with the HULU link to the full episode:



There are multiple Firefly and Buffy shouts in there. Very fun.

Oh and this isn't the first time Castle has thrown the Whedonites a bone. A few weeks back they pulled a "hands of blue" moment.

Funny as hell... but they don't go far enough.



The guy is making a web series now, on the strength of the short.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Down In It

Pretty hate machine turns 20 today.

Damn... I'm old.

I remember hearing 'Head Like a Hole" on WFNX while I was on the way to the video store in east Milton, MA. I immediately went out and bought that tape, playing it over and over again.



It strikes me how appropriate the song is to the current political climate (irrespective of the fact that Reznor is politically, a nutjob... among many other ways).

So, this one goes out to you Barack...
Head Like a Hole
-- Nine Inch Nails

God money Ill do anything for you.
God money just tell me what you want me to.
God money nail me up against the wall.
God money dont want everything he wants it all.

No you cant take it
No you cant take it
No you cant take that away from me
No you cant take it
No you cant take it
No you cant take that away from me

Head like a hole.
Black as your soul.
Id rather die than give you control.
Head like a hole.
Black as your soul.
Id rather die than give you control.

Bow down before the one you serve.
Youre going to get what you deserve.
Bow down before the one you serve.
Youre going to get what you deserve.

God moneys not looking for the cure.
God moneys not concerned with the sick among the pure.
God money lets go dancing on the backs of the bruised.
God moneys not one to choose
No you cant take it
No you cant take it
No you cant take that away from me
No you cant take it
No you cant take it
No you cant take that away from me

Head like a hole.
Black as your soul.
Id rather die than give you control.
Head like a hole.
Black as your soul.
Id rather die than give you control.

Bow down before the one you serve.
Youre going to get what you deserve.
Bow down before the one you serve.
Youre going to get what you deserve.

Bow down before the one you serve.
Youre going to get what you deserve.
Bow down before the one you serve.
Youre going to get what you deserve.

Head like a hole.
Black as your soul.
Id rather die than give you control.
Head like a hole.
Black as your soul.
Id rather die than give you control.

Bow down before the one you serve.
Youre going to get what you deserve.
Bow down before the one you serve.
Youre going to get what you deserve.

You know who you are.


HT: Unc, again

Risk and Compliance

For the first time today, TASER international has acknowledged that the use of their electro-compliance device has a higher risk to the health of the restrainee than they have advertised
Taser: Don't shoot stun gun at chest

First time company has suggested there is any risk from its stun guns

AP - updated 8:23 a.m. PT, Wed., Oct . 21, 2009

PHOENIX - Taser International is advising police agencies across the nation not to shoot its stun guns at a suspect's chest.

The Arizona-based company says such action poses a risk — albeit extremely low — of an "adverse cardiac event."

The advisory was issued in an Oct. 12 training bulletin. It marks the first time that Taser has suggested there is any risk of a cardiac arrest related to the use of its 50,000-volt stun guns, The Arizona Republic reported.
Story continues below ↓advertisement | your ad here

Taser officials said Tuesday the bulletin does not state that Tasers can cause cardiac arrest. They said the advisory means only that law-enforcement agencies can avoid controversy if their officers aim at areas other than the chest.

Critics called it a stunning reversal for the company.
We have all of course seen or heard of such incidents as the intransigent elderly woman who was TASED a few months ago in Texas (and many other similar incidents involving the elderly or emotionally disturbed); and most famously of course, of Rodney King, who continued resisting arrest after multiple TASER hits (which is why the officers began beating him. What started as an attempt to physically restrain a violent and intoxicated offender, turned into an emotional free for all).

Less frequently, we hear of someone experiencing cardiac or respiratory arrest, seizures, or nervous system damage from the use of the TASER.

Civil liberties activists have claimed that TASERs have directly caused the death of at least 350 people this decade; and that unjustified use of the TASER device is rampant, with thousands of effective cases of police brutality every year.

I take those claims with a hefty grain of salt.

Unfortunately, it IS clear that there have been a not insignificant number of deaths, either directly or indirectly caused by TASER usage; and that the risks of TASER usage are in fact much higher than law enforcement agencies and individual officers have been trained, or led to believe.

Because of these risks, those same civil liberties activists have called for the TASER device to be banned.

For years, TASER international has utterly denied the possibility of any elevated risk of death or serious injury involved in the use of the TASER.

Today, for the first time, the company acknowledged those risks; but in response suggested something I believe is ridiculous, counterproductive, and may even be harmful. In order to avoid liability, they are advising law enforcement agencies to train their officers to avoid shooting restrainees in the chest...

This is patently ridiculous.

First, the TASER is most effective when shot into the chest (resuming a forward facing subject. The mid back is even more effective). The TASER device works by disrupting neuromuscular co-ordination, and hits outside of center mass are far less effective at causing systemic disruption. Other areas simply do not have the concentrations of nerve and muscle junctions that allow for effective immobilization.

When targeting peripheral areas of the body, effective immobilization may be limited to the localized area of the hit, or to one side of the body. Even hits to the abdomen or pelvis (as Taser international is recommending) are far less effective in immobilization, (especially on larger restrainees) though they are exceptionally painful.

It is entirely possible (though very difficult) to fight through a TASER hit to a peripheral area, whereas it is nearly impossible to do so with a chest hit (unless you are physically huge, wearing heavy clothing that the darts can't get full penetration on, or are very high).

It is also standard tactical doctrine for all projectile weapons training to aim for center mass; and it's damn near impossible to hit a limb in a stressful situation. You don't want to train officers to shoot for other targets under stress, it will just cause more problems.

Even after the department training officers and lawyers dutifully pass on the message from TASER; officers will, RIGHTLY, ignore this warning.

If you're going to restrict TASER usage to targeting peripheral areas of the body, you might as well ban their use entirely.

I believe banning TASERs would be a huge mistake, as would changing the targeting area for the device; but clearly something needs to change.

The problem with TASERs isn't their risks; it's their doctrine for use.

I've been a law enforcement trainer myself, and I've been through various less-lethal force training courses, including TASERs. I've been TASED several times, and have had several other electro-compliance devices demonstrated on me (to great effect).

Officers are trained to view TASERs as, and to use them as, a less harmful compliance option than direct physical contact; with less risk to both the officer, and the restrainee. The TASER is viewed as a less risky, and less harmful option in the continuum of force.

While the less risk to the officer part is true, the risk of great harm to the restrainee is very high. Much higher than that of chemical compliance techniques, and as high as PROPERLY EXECUTED physical restraint and compliance techniques

Improperly executed physical restraint and compliance techniques, unfortunately present nearly as high a risk of fatality as a shooting; and with much greater risk to the officer. Without extensive training, continuing practice, and exceptional strength and physical fitness; it is very difficult for officers to maintain proper physical restraint and compliance techniques. Even with proper technique, the risk to the officer remains much higher than non-contact restraint and compliance techniques.

It is these issues, which in fact prompted much of the development of less-lethal force technologies; including chemical restraints, and electro-compliance devices like the TASER.

So where does this leave us? Where does this leave law enforcement officers; who are simply looking for a way to effectively restrain subjects, with less risk to the officer, and the subject.

This improper perception of risk has created an environment; especially in smaller law enforcement organizations, with lower training budgets and more permissive attitudes towards the continuum of force; where TASER use is not considered serious.

In general, many officers would prefer to use the TASER than other means of enforcing physical compliance; because it presents the least risk to them, and the most compliant restrainee.

Combined this false perception of low risk, with a more permissive attitude, and the undoubted advantages to the officer; and it is understandable why in many jurisdictions it seems that taser usage is out of control, and suspects are being TASEd almost casually.

The use of the TASER should be understood to be (and officers should be trained to this effect) 1/2 step below the use of a firearm in the continuum of force. Officers should be trained in a more realistic assessment of the risks and dangers of the TASER (and other electro-compliance devices).

Additionally, TASER use in the line of duty, should be reviewed with the same diligence as the discharge of a firearm.

I don't want to take the TASER away from officers, as it is a useful and excellent tool that in general DOES increase the safety of both the officer, and the restrainee.

What I want, is for officers, and agencies, to understand, and take the risks and impact of TASER usage more seriously.

HT: Unc

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Oh this modern world



I'm guessing EVERY reaper operator will have this one up on their wall by this time tomorrow.

From Flu to Sinus

So, I'm an idiot.

As I usually do, I didnt wait long enough to recover from being sick. By Friday I was feeling well enough to head up to Paulden for Rumpshots Revenge this past weekend.

Unfortunately, by Sunday, I was feeling sick again. Monday got worse, and this morning I woke up with a full blown nasty sinus infection. One of the worst headaches of my life.

Oh well. I did it to myself again. As I've done before, and will almost certainly do again.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Brütal Legend is Brütally Awesome

Brütal Legend arrived on my doorstep Friday afternoon, and I managed to finish it early this evening after work.

That means two things, one good, one bad:

1. The game is awesome and engrossing. It's well paced, and involves you with a continuing progression of challenge that means you can play it for 6 hours straight and not get bored.

2. The game is really really short.

No, really really short. I got about 12 hours of game play out of it; and that was half sandbox time. There was only about six hours in the main storyline.

Oh and the side missions are pretty pointless and repetitive, so you can't really extend the play value with those. There's basically no replay value in the single player mode.

The game is kind of an odd fusion of genres; a combination of arcade style melee combat, the ever popular GTA style sandbox drive and fight mission gaming, and resource/unit management based real time strategy.

Oh and of course, METAL!!!!!

If you aren't a big fan of heavy metal, you're going to hate this game. EVERYTHING about this game is metal. The character names, the artwork, the dialog, and of course, the soundtrack; which is a world tour of the history of metal, with 108 songs from 75 bands, spread across the major metal genres (including two songs written just for the game)...

...Though admittedly, the list is heavily weighted towards early 80s metal (which I consider a GOOD thing).

Also, the voice actors are totaly metal; featuring Ozzy Osbourne, Rob Halford, Lemmy, Lita Ford and (debatably metal, and seriously irritating to many people) Jack Black as the main character.

Oh, and continuing his long tradition of kinky bastards, demons, and deliciously evil bad guys; Tim Curry voices the big bad.

If on the other hand you LOVE metal, as I do; the game is great fun.

Is it worth the $56 (for the PS3 anyway)? It was for me. 12 hours worth of entertainment is three fairly long books, 6 movies, maybe 3 dinners out... all of which are roughly comparable more or less in cost (unless you go for library books or rental movies anyway).

There's a different debate out there, as to the escalating costs of video games in general and as to whether those costs are justified; but that's an argument for a different post.

I say, if you like metal, don't hate Jack Black, and like sandbox games; go for it.

Oh, and "The Superfluous Umlauts" would be a great name for a rock band.

Found an anachronism in "Mad Men"

Rather an unusual event apparently, as the production designers are famously anal about continuity, and period accuracy.

At minute 35-37 (as aired), Betty is in Dons home study, and very clearly behind her head, is an omnibus edition of the W.E.B. Griffin books "The Corps: Semper Fi", "A Call to Arms", and "Counterattack"; published in 1986, 1987, and 1990 respectively.

As it happens, I noticed because I own all of those books (and every other book Griffin has ever published under his own name).

Oh and there was one other thing; not anachronisms, but an irritating discontinuity all the same.


The trip to drop off the brother of Dons love interest.

Theoretically, Don was supposed to take the brother from Ossining NY, to Bedford, MA; but instead Don dropped him off "20 miles outside of Framingham".

As it happens, I'm from the Boston area, and in fact lived and worked in the next town over from Framingham for a while. I've driven from Framingham to New York city, and through upstate New York many times.

From Ossining to about 20 miles southwest of Framingham (say, the pike south of Westborough), is about a 3 hour drive with no traffic; maybe two and a half hours if you're lucky. To Bedford, it would be about another 45 minutes or so.

Somehow I don't think an almost 8 hour round trip including at least one fuel stop) would be in the cards after a full day at work (and all the alcohol consumed in said workday). Especially since he started sometime after dinner time, and in full darkness etc... and returned to spend the rest of the night with his girlfriend.

If the scene with Betty immediately following Dons return to his girlfriend was timeline correct, Don would have returned a few minutes before 2am.

Given that it is September in this episode, and we know Don takes the 6:45 train (mentioned in previous episodes; and according to interviews with the writers of the show, they checked timetables from 1963 to be accurate)) and arrived at the girlfriends house in full dark, the earliest he could have left with the brother would have been 8pm.

It is just barely possible that he could have made that trip from 8pm to 2am... just... but then the girlfriend would have known he didn't go all the way to Bedford. He would have had to have at least got a cup of coffee... or driven 100mph the whole way, and made at least TWO gas stops...

Other shows, I don't much care about that sort of thing; but for a show like Mad Men, which are obsessive about continuity and period accuracy... Seriously, they could have checked a map; or just chose a better location (there was a VA hospital in New Haven CT, only 90 minutes from Ossining).

Friday, October 16, 2009

Not surprised, but he's one of us...

Craig Ferguson that is. I was pretty sure he was, given many of his previous statements about this country, citizenship etc...

But I think we can take this as pretty solid proof:



"Join or Die" and the 13 colonies (Though 13 weren't represented individually. New England and Massachusetts were split up into multiple colonies earlier, but not on the cartoon; and Franklin left Georgia and Delaware off entirely ), as published in the Pennsylvania Gazette, in 1754; the first known publicly printed exhortation to the formation of the American nation.

It's pretty clear that Ferguson isn't a liberal. It seems he's mostly a libertarian. OF course, he makes a lot of jokes on the lefty side of things, but look at where he works, and for whom.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Slept 13 of the last 24 hours

But no more than 5 in a row.

Or at least sort of slept. That strange combination of half awake disturbed sleep and stretches of deep "sleep of the dead" that I generally get when I'm sick.

Though if you know me, you know that number is a frikken miracle. I'm usually lucky to get 4-6 hours; and if I get more than 6 I tend to be groggy when I wake up. The only time I sleep more than 8 hours in 24, is when I'm sick.

The fever is mostly gone, though I've still got the hot and cold streaks, and the skin sensitivity. The joint and muscle pain, and sensitive skin are worse. The cough is about the same.

The kids are feeling fine, which is great. Nothing worse than miserable kids stuck in the house. Mel is slightly less miserable than I am.

Here's to another day of slamming fluids, savory soups and broths, and sleeping as much as I can force my body to accept.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A hundred and twenty six, and halfway...

between three and four tenths...

I feel like Cameron Frye today.

No, not the screaming freaking out neurotic thing (by the by, Alan Ruck was frikken brilliant in that movie, and is totally underrated), I'm just miserable sick at the moment.

The girls bus driver got sick yesterday, and one of the girls wasn't feeling well. Then I started feeling a bit iffy last night; and I woke up this morning with a fever, muscle and joint pain, and light and noise sensitivity.

Oh joy, sounds like flu.

The good news, is that the bus driver went to the hospital, and it isn't swine flu.

At any rate, I'm watching Ferris Beullers day off, and doing paperwork for work while I wallow in flulike misery.

I LOVE that move. No better movie for watching when you're home sick.

Oh and if you haven't seen it in a while, great cameos by... well, tons of folks actually; but really memorable ones by Kristy Swanson and Ben Stein (in the famous attendance scene), and Charlie Sheen (who I'm pretty sure was actually as high as the character he was playing.

It really is the epicenter of 80's teen movies.

Oh and as much as I love the Ferrari 250gt California (a 1961 short wheel base), is it sacrilege to say I love the later 275 spyder even more? The collectors may say so, but I think the 275 is prettier, and by the numbers it's a better performing car.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

En Vin Verite

If you have any interest at all in wine, you should really read some of the several excellent books and articles, or the also excellent documentary, about the 1976 Judgement of Paris.

If you have no interest in wine, you probably have no idea of the significance of that even; but perhaps you'll enjoy a story about the French being hoist on their own petard of arrogance and snobbery.

The judgment of Paris, in this case (it also refers to an earlier event in fine art), refers to a blind tasting of French and California wines, conducted in France in 1976.

It was expected by everyone, especially the organizer of the event; that the French would win handily. Even the U.S. vintners were sure the French would win; if only due to chauvinism and cheating (it was fully expected by the California vintners that the "blind test" would not be).

Instead, a California chardonnay ( Chateau Montelena) was the unanimous top choice of whites by all the judges, and a California Cabernet (Stags Leap) the top choice of reds (though only just edging out the next two French wines).

Prior to this result (and the famous George Tabor Time Magazine article documenting it, and linked up above), very few in the wine world took California wines... or for that matter, any wines not from France... seriously.

After?

Well, in every significant blind tasting since, American wines (mostly California, but some from Washington or Oregon) have beaten French wines.

Every time.

Not only that, but worldwide, California wines outsell French wines by as much as 8 to 1 in some years (French wine, because of the climate, tends to be strongly vintage dependent. Better California wines tend to be much more consistent), and have in general outsold French wines every year since 1982.

Funny thing though: I think the best of Oregon and Washington, and even the best of Chile and Australia; are now better than the best of the same varietals, out of either France OR California.

At any rate, I just watched a dramatization of the events surrounding the Judgement, called "Bottle Shock", and starring... everyone really (seriously, almost every role is a name, or a familiar face).

I know that the movie wasn't very true to the real events, but I enjoyed it very much. I especially enjoyed the performances of Bill Pullman and Alan Rickman (honestly, it's rare I don't like Rickman)... and I didn't absolutely hate Chris "Captain Kirk Jr." Pine.

I won't call it a great movie, but it was fun; and if you like wine, worth watching.

How do you fisk one giant 90 minute lie?

I just watched "who killed the electric car", with the idea that I would fisk it; and that it might at least be interesting.

Within the first three minutes however, there were so many blatant, ridiculous, and illogical flat out lies, that I realized there was no point.

You can't refute utter nonsense; you just dismiss it as that.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Grinding

Doing 10-12 hour days at the moment. We're gearing up for the year end freeze, trying to integrate the two banks together, and fighting a whole bunch of fires all at the same time.

We ended up having to work through the weekend. I only had to do some writing and get on a couple of calls; but a couple of my guys pulled doubles all weekend.

The good news is, we've been given the go ahead to do what we've been trying to get done for... oh, three years now... and push aside the politics and people who've been in the way. I actually get to save the company all that money I've been trying to save for so long.

Also, I know we've all been put in for exceptional service awards; which means a little extra bonus, and a few extra days off.

Still, it's a grind.

Prayers and Care to 3rd SF

Mel just got a status update from her cousin, a SFC with 3rd SF (2nd gen SF. His fathers a retired SgtMjr.), currently deployed to Kandahar province (or at least that's what he's cleared to say).

Seems he's doing alright. Missing home and missing comforts; but glad to be doing the job.

Our prayers go out to him, and his guys; and shortly our care package will as well.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Notes From the Census Front Lines

I'm not re-upping for the next portion of the Census.

I've never worked for a government agency before, and never will again.

No, this isn't about ACORN, that was a load of bull anyway, they were only hired to go out in the community and encourage people to fill out and return their surveys. All enumerators were/are hired by the bureau directly.

This isn't about the incompetence of those before me that I've encountered either, though I've learned that quality control is NOT my calling in life.

This isn't about the backgrounds checks that were messed up that resulted in felons working for the bureau either (though that does explain why I had to re-do my fingerprint cards and clearance).

This isn't even about feeling like the Census is an unnecessary invasion of privacy, because I don't. I've wracked my brain trying to figure out how to run a representative republic without an accurate census (you can't) and how to conduct one without invading privacy and yet prevent fraud (it's not possible).

No. This isn't about my perception of these problems.

This is about how the average person perceives these problems.

If you ever want to know how little trust in and regard for the federal government the average person has, put on a government i.d. and knock on doors. Seriously.

In the past few weeks I've been sworn at, openly derided, and questioned within an inch of my life. I haven't been attacked, but one co-worker walked onto a property (fence-less, no warning signs) only to have a door opened and large dogs sent after him.

Seriously.

Now before you say, "but that's what you get for walking onto private property and knocking on the doors of private homes" we weren't. That wasn't the mission.

We were knocking on the doors of businesses, most of them open to the public.

Nursing homes. Hospitals. Hotels. Places of business. NOT private homes.

And we were already getting this treatment.

Whatever goodwill the average person had for the organization that actually performs a CONSTITUTIONALLY MANDATED FUNCTION is completely gone.

I wonder how the average person feels about OTHER functions of the government. I don't really want to find out, at least not while wearing a federal i.d.

This certainly isn't worth the pay, and I'm not doing it again.

I had a disturbing thought: If this sort of stuff forces me out, what kind of people stay, and how much worse do they end up making the problem?

I'll tell you what though. Those people who keep saying a revolution is on the horizon, that the American people are a breath away from long lengths of rope and tall oak trees?

I'm starting to believe them.

Mel

What's Been Going On

Those who’ve known me for a few years have probably noticed a change. I’m not acting like myself, and I’m even more scatterbrained and irritable than usual. Extreme mood changes are prevalent and I’m more contrary and combative. Also, I’m WAY behind on projects. There’s no excuse for not having the cookbook done, but there are reasons.

First off, the cookbook is behind in part because of a massive technological failure. The proofs, layouts, and software all resided on Chris's laptop. Chris's laptop's hard drive decided to fry.

Thank god we still have the pictures, and I'm a big fan of working out my recipes longhand.

The cookbook is also behind in part because mid-process (and a much more intensive process it turned out to be) the camel's back broke.

We're moving. We're not announcing where on this blog (many of you know already anyway) but we're leaving this goddamn hellhole.

Oh, we were planning on moving, in about 2 years. Then the bank merger happened and Chris started working 12 hour days so we decided we needed a bit more family recreation. Floating in the middle of a lake started sounding pretty damn good (what's that? my cell phone has bad reception here. sorry!) so we started looking into boats.

The weekend after we got Zoe we went looking at boats and eventually ended up at Lake Pleasant looking at sailboats. The kids and I started really getting into the whole idea at that point, and we spent some time crawling over a couple of MacGregor 26 sailboats.

In 110 degree weather.

Sometime around the finishing of the second gallon of water on the way home, Chris made an announcement. He was tired of living somewhere he couldn't leave the house 5 months out of the year, where he couldn't do what he wanted to do.

We were moving. ASAP. Actually, as soon as our lease ends on February 28th.

Only one problem. We're moving out of state. We can't found the company yet.

So no ISBN number for the cookbook.

The last reason for the cookbook being behind is extremely personal.

I'm emotionally ill.

The facade of having it together? Completely fake. Emotional stability? Hah.

Healthy behavioral patterns? Now you're just being funny.

I literally had a block in my head that said, "you can't do this. You're a failure, you'll always be a failure. What are you thinking? You can't do anything good. Everything you touch goes to shit."

HAD a block in my head.

I’m dealing with decades of emotional illness, persistently bad coping behaviors, aftereffects of abuse and neglect, and general insanity all at once.

Note I wrote “dealing”. Not hiding. Not pretending. Not suppressing. Not just trying to keep myself together. Dealing.

I blame Tahoe. I blame the lull in court action. I blame not spending every day worrying whether or not my children will have food or clothing, and I blame Chris for making that possible.

I also blame the bank merger, the stress of which drove Chris to consider getting a boat, then had us at Lake Pleasant in 110 degree weather looking at boats. This led Chris to declaring that goddamnit, we’re finally leaving this goddamn hell of a state. This led to me having a direction.

In short, I blame everything that has lifted my emotional and mental load to the point that I have the “luxury” of leaving survival mode.

I don’t think I’ve spent this much time outright bawling since my mother died. Memories are resurfacing; insights into just how badly I’ve bungled things and WHY are a daily occurrence.

Many of these memories are less than happy; when I told people that my first marriage was emotionally and mentally abusive I didn’t even realize how much I was UNDERSTATING the problem. Memories are reaching the surface that I’ve haven’t touched since I left; if I had, I doubt I would have had the presence of mind to fight for the kids. I’d be too busy off in a corner somewhere either bawling or completely detached from the world.

I’m also remembering how I got there in the first place, and how stupid I was to willingly walk into such a situation, and WHY. Understanding where exactly I messed up is ego-bruising, to say the least.

All of this however is a good thing. For example, I now understand why I think everything that goes wrong is my fault; one of the problems in my first marriage was my ex-husband's unwillingness to admit fault. Getting pregnant even though he knew I'd run out of birth control, refused to buy more, and refused to use a condom? So totally my fault. Taking the kids away from him? My fault, to the point that we're still in court to "punish" me.

That's just one example of the degradation and dehumanization shoved down my throat. My ex in-laws wanted to bring me "down to their level". Enough verbal abuse, emotional abuse, shoving into unwinnable situations, and isolation will result in complete dehumanization.

I think I got out just in time, and one of these days I'll write about how I came to the decision to leave, but now right now.

I’ve been trying to tackle one surfacing memory at a time and one breakdown at a time. Every day I feel a bit lighter, a bit more stable. A bit more human. It's been a helluva roller coaster, but I'm finally getting somewhere.

Thankfully my friends seem to understand, and since all but one came after my life started improving they’re a constantly reminder that things have changed permanently for me. The one exception I’ve known for 12 years and has been my best friend since we were 15 and she's been nothing but a help. Plus, when I think that maybe my memories are false, that maybe I'm exaggerating,she's been there to correct me (and very often tell me I'm not, it really was that bad).

Just KNOWING that all of this had a reason, that I'm not imaging what happened, that despite being surrounded by the insane I've got some kind of footing in reality HELPS. Helps so much. I'm starting to trust my thoughts, my conclusions, my judgments again. It's not that I was insane because everyone else was right, but that everyone around me was insane and wrong. This doesn't just apply to my ex in-laws, but to my family and the way I was raised as well. My parents made everything needlessly complicated, and formed a tiny little petri dish of a world that had NOTHING to do with the outside world.

Everything I ever learned means squat. Reality is so much better. Reality is what I knew all along, but nobody around me was willing to admit to.

Now that I don't think of myself as insane (or at fault for everything, or worthless), I see just how difficult I've made this whole process, and how soon I should be able to start shipping out. Cookbooks will be out before Black Friday, hopefully WAY before if I can continue to be this mentally stable.

As a bonus, for those of you who've seen the house, I've made tremendous progress is getting organized. I even found my Book of All Knowledge, the notebook my oldest recipes are written in, so THEY'RE getting added as well.

There is one last stress, however, and it has nothing to do with my mental and emotional state, but rather my father's.

Chris and I never wrote about the full circumstances of my mother’s death. It’s not that “death by infection and metastatic breast and ovarian cancer” isn’t correct; it is. The circumstances are just much more complicated than a simple diagnosis.

In reality, what happened to my mother was a mixture of her own procrastination and ignoring of problems, my father’s outright denial, the first hospital’s apathetic care, the second hospital’s apathetic care (minus one doctor), and the ambulance ride to the third hospital.

My mother was admitted to the hospital with fluid in her abdomen, and 6 weeks later she was dead. I've never quite gotten over the shock.

I watched her as the doctors did tests, waited forever to get results, declared breast cancer and performed a mastectomy. After months of not being able to keep food down (even in the hospital) she developed an infection, went into respiratory arrest, and died in the ICU. That's the short version.

NONE of this was unavoidable. My mother assumed the lump was a spider bite, even though it persisted for a year, and never got a mammogram.My mother spent months without an appetite and gaining weight without food intake. She hid her health problems from my father (and everyone else). Not until her distended stomach turned into a source of acute pain did she go into the hospital. Once at the hospital she refused to be "a bother" and attempted to make everyone ELSE'S lives as easy as possible.

Since my father believed her when she said it wasn't a big deal, my dad took her in, then retreated into his work. He wasn’t there to help her make decisions because he thought she was mentally competent.

She wasn't. She's been hiding her pain for months, if not years, as became obvious once we tried to untangle the business's finances afterwards.

I visited the hospital every day to see if she needed anything. She was almost always fine. I tried to talk to the doctors, but I could never seem to reach one of them. She always said they were waiting for tests anyway.

Until the day they scheduled her for a mastectomy, that is.

The day of I waited outside the surgical unit with my oldest brother. When the surgeon came out, he said it was worse than they'd feared. He estimated the cancer had been there for a decade.

All of a sudden my mother gave up the pretense.

My dad had no clue what to do, and leaned on my and my brother. Neither of us had authority to do anything. (As a sidenote, both of us now have power of attorneys for both our father and youngest brother, depending on who is more available in the situation).

My mother's recovery did not go well. She still couldn't eat.

The hospital tried to discharge her. She hadn't eaten for 4 weeks and they tried to discharge her.

My father and I fought the discharge won. The first time.

The second time he took her to another hospital.

Another apathetic hospital.

My mother lost the ability to speak. She started hallucinating. She still didn't eat.

One week later, we finally got a break. My mother's oncologist went on vacation and someone filled in for her.

This doctor took one look at my mother, one look at her chart, and transferred her to the best cancer unit in the state.

Thank God for University Medical Center.

Unfortunately, during the 2 hour ambulance drive she went into respiratory arrest. The paramedics managed to keep her alive (they didn't know she had a DNR) and she made it to the ICU.

I never had the opportunity to talk to my mother again.

4 days later my father and I made the decision to take her off life support. My father called my middle brother and told him to come down to see his mother; my brother said he'd be there in a week, they were driving and his wife wanted to visit friends on the way. My father called me, one step from falling to pieces.

Chris called my brother. All of a sudden my brother and his wife and kids were on a plane to Tucson.

2 days later while I was giving my father a break from her bedside, she passed on.

Afterwards I drove my dad to his guest room at a friend’s house. Picked up his things. Picked up my brother’s luggage to take to the house. BABYSAT MY NEPHEW BECAUSE MY SISTER-IN-LAW WAS TOO BUSY BAWLING OVER THE DEATH TO COMFORT HER HUSBAND OR TAKE CARE OF HER CHILDREN. Drove my father, kids, and nephew to my dad’s house. Called the pastor to make arrangements for my grandparents to be informed and for the memorial service to be held. Called all the other family members to inform them. Did the grocery shopping with 3 kids in tow so there would be food in the house. All in the day she died.

I made the cremation arrangements.

If it weren’t for Chris, I would have been a complete wreck. As it was, that month and a half almost killed me.

6 weeks of hell that could have been avoided. If my mother had been proactive in her health, if my father had taken control, if the first hospital had done more, if, if.

Chris “forced” me through the grief process, in that he prodded me until I dealt with and accepted my mother’s death. It was the kindest thing he could have done for me.

I’ve done my best not to dwell on it since, and to get on with my life. I could rail against the unfairness of the situation and seek out someone to blame. But I don’t.

That’s evidently my father’s job.

Since my mother’s death, my father hasn’t been quite all there. He spends quite a bit of time railing against the hospitals, blaming them for her death. When he’s not busy being enraged, he’s busy in self-pity mode.

In July (13 months after her death) my father went on an extended trip to his childhood home for a reunion. My aunt (his sister) and I hoped it would do him some good, and she did her best while he was there to help him through the process.

When he got back he seemed better, happier. I thought that maybe, just maybe, this scapegoat hunt he’d been on would be over.

A few days ago I called him, and he told me he was just about done with his project. He’d been going over everything that happened, and he was ready to take his notes and journals to the media and take on the evil hospital.

…….

I’m pretty convinced at this point that my father has lost it. My hope that he would ever come back to reality and be a father and grandfather? Well that’s pretty much crushed. I can accept that, I knew it was a possibility.

Then he told me he needed me to read everything to make sure it was all accurate.

Yes, my father wants me to re-read my personal hell from day one in order to pursue his own version of vengeance.

I can’t do that. My memories are horrifying enough without reliving everything, much less while I’m dealing with other resurfacing memories.

I don’t know how to tell him that I can’t do it, without doing what I really want to do, which is tell him to look in the mirror and he’d find one of the people responsible there. Then, if he looked on the shelf he’d find another responsible party in the urn.

I don’t know how to tell him just how much worse this is making things for me and the kids. That it’s not bad enough that at 28 I’m motherless, my kids no longer have a grandmother, my unborn children will never have a grandmother, that for all intents and purposes they don’t have a grandfather. No, that’s not enough, I also have my father attempting to destroy me (intentionally or not) by having me relive the worst couple of months of my life.

I am completely heartbroken.

So if I seem a little out of sorts, crazy, or otherwise not like myself, that’s why.

The good news is, despite all of this, life is getting much better.

Crazy busy irritating work day

Which started at six am, and I was still getting emails at nine pm.

Long story short, somebody screwed up bad, didn't buy enough capacity to see us through the end of the year, which is killing some very important projects; but it's going to take 4-8 weeks to get that capacity online.

Meantime, we have to refactor EVERY DAMN PROJECT in the pipeline (about 90 for my group alone, several hundred including all the other teams).

Then once the capacity IS online, we need to swing back over to it.

Seamlessly and with zero risk.

Oh and did I mention one of our primary datacenters is completely out of power and cooling capacity, and that's going to effect several hundred more projects?

The next five months are going to suck so hard.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The Original "War on Terror"

The first recorded mention of the term "War on Terror" in the New York Times did not occur after 9/11 as many would assume... In fact it was in 1934, and wasn't even about the U.S.

You might be shocked as to exactly which nation it was about... or perhaps not...

War On Terror

(New York Times) December 4, 1934


Soviet Arrests 71 In War On ‘Terror’


Spurred by the assassination of Sergei M. Kiroff, the Soviet Government has struck its heaviest blow in years at those whom it regards as plotters of terroristic acts against Soviet officials.

With dramatic suddenness it was announced early this morning that seventy-one persons had been arrested and haled to trial before the military collegium of the Supreme Court of the USSR. Thirty-two of these were seized in the Moscow region and thirty-nene in the Leningrad region. They are stigmatized as “White Guards” and accused of plotting terroristic activities.

* * * * *

By the terms of a decree adopted by the central government immediately after the Kremlin received the news of M. Kiroff’s death, terrorists and plotters are to be tried swiftly and to be executed immediately without opportunity for appeal.

Now I'm not one of those pseudo-intellectual mental midgets who would compare the U.S. efforts directly to Stalins reign of terror (however they couched it as a "war on terror"); but one should at the least be able to recognize the historical irony.

It all comes down to parents...



HT: Hell in a Handbasket

Older than Dennis



Not 38, but indeed 40, and 40 shall be the number of the counting. Years that is, wink wink nudge nudge.

Yes, Monty Pythons Flying Circus hit it's 40th anniversary today.

...Yaknow, strange women lying in ponds distributing swords might result in a better system of government we have now. Perhaps we should have moistened bints pick our presidents... they couldn't do any worse.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Just met "Strong Arm Steady" at lunch

Which will mean absolutely nothing to most of my readers, but I happen to be a Talib Kweli fan, a Blackstar fan, a Dilated Peoples fan, a Jurassic 5 fan, and in general an underground fan; so I thought it was pretty cool.

Unfortunately, the underground thing has been basically dead since around 2003. Talib got dropped from distribution a few years ago, and the artists signed to his Blacksmith records label have been either locked out, or have had to get more commercial to get released.

Sadly, that commercialism includes "Strong Arm Steady"; the worst example of that being their former member Xzibit, who has gone so far as to star in several reality TV shows, and cheezy action movies (actually, he's not THAT bad of an actor. He's got decent personality and presence).

I'd put up an example of their work from youtube, but I'll be honest I can't find anything that I like. Most of their best stuff is freestyling, bootlegs, and underground sample mixes, or collaborations with other underground artists...

...Which kind of encapsulates the problems that underground has with commercial success in a nutshell...

Actually, there IS something put up, but it's not from SAS, it's a solo track from Mitchy called "Dr. Cube".



If you don't like underground, or just don't feel like watching the video, it's about how much of a bitch it is to try and be successful when you're an underground artist who wants to stay independent, and do the kind of work he wants to do, rather than squeeze themselves into the modern pop hip-hop machine and come out the other side looking like Young Jeezy or Lil Wayne

Anyway, the wife and I were eating lunch at the new chicken and waffle place about a half mile away (LoLo's. Decent fried chicken, but not very good waffles), and Krondon, Mitchy Slick, and Phil Da Agony walked in and sat down at the next table over from us.

Krondon is rather recognizable, being one of the very few albino rappers out there (and as far as I know the only black albino rapper. There are a couple of white and Asian albino rappers out there), and a couple of the restaurants staff knew who he was, but it was pretty low key.

Kron and Phil got on the phone with Talib while we were there (we couldn't help but overhear), and I started up a conversation with Mitchy about his watch (at first I thought it was a Lucien Piccard, but it turned out to be a custom Breitling Bentley GT. Beautiful watch).

Mitchy was jazzed about the new headphones he had just picked up (a pair of "beats by Dre"). I mentioned that I was a Sennheiser fan, and that I liked the flat response. He agreed that the beats were not good for mixing, but that for fun listening, the extra bass response was from the "beats" was nice.

I'll say this, from what I overheard, Krondon really knows how to take care of the business side of things; and they all seemed rather nice, for the few minutes that we were talking.

Yaknow, I'd been wondering that myself

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Gives me the giggles...

So, I had a fun thought, and posted it on Mad Mikes facebook wall:
"Is it too much to hope that we could convince Baen to have some kind of three way collaboration with you, Ringo, and Kratman?

I have no idea how it would be literarily (fun I'm guessing); I'd just want to be standing on the sidelines watching the heads of the far left explode at the stuff the three of you would write, and then say during promo events.

Y'all make Orson Scott Card look like Noam Chomsky; and look at all the head splodey that went on from his relatively mild public statements."
Remember who we're talking about here:

  • Ringo wrote the "Ghost" series which prominently features beer brewing, busty, BDSM loving, voluntary sex slaves

  • Kratman is one of the few authors out there who tell it like it is with regards to the muslim world (and he would know... he could be known more formally as Lt. Colonel Tom Kratman US Army retired) and wrote a series of books essentially about the necessity of exterminating all muslims

  • Mad Mike (Michael Z. Williamson, A.K.A. Crazy Einar) writes about radical libertarianismrevolting against the fascist empire of the U.N., and is the guy who almost singlehandedly popularized giving pink AR's to pre-teen girls.

  • All three are former active duty U.S. military (and Mad Mike is still in the reserves)
Let's just say that none of them are noted for their propensity to hold either mild opinions, or their tongues.

Seriously, I think it'd be a riot... possibly literally if they got in front of the right audience.

Friday, October 02, 2009

He may be a dirty old man...

...And he's turned into a political hack in the last few years, for which I can fault him greatly. I once watched Letterman nightly, but that stopped more than ten years ago; and he has become unwatchable over the past few years.

...but Letterman handled that with what I thought was good grace, and as much class as could be attached to such a tawdry and frankly ridiculous situation.

He was honest, and forthright, didn't try to pretend it didn't happen; and I think that's really important. I think it counts for something with the American people, and it certainly counts for something with me.

On the air tonight, Letterman said that yes, he had sex with people who worked for him, and (not in so many words, but it was clear) that it's nobody elses business but his, his family, and the people he had those relationships with. That it's up to them if they want to go public, but he wasn't going to talk about it.

So long as his relationships were consensual, and not sexual harassment (though in any power relationship that can be a hard determination); I agree it's none of anyone's damn business, excepting his wife (who was his girlfriend at the time. They only married a few months ago, but they were together for 23 years before that, and they have a six year old son).

I think it's clear that the audience agreed, and I'm willing to bet that America agrees.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Mel and the Girls Vs. Mass Culture: Bridal Edition

As most of our readers know our friends JohnOC and Myrrh are getting married this coming April.

I've been asked to be the acting Matron of Honor (vs. the actual Matron of Honor) a job which entails keeping Myrrh from getting too anxious, helping with decisions, and constantly saying "just because you're not making this difficult doesn't mean you're doing something wrong."

The only way Myrrh could be farther from being a Bridezilla is if she decided to get married in a nightgown. Seriously.

So the vast majority of preparations are done, documented, and deposited. In fact, once we visit with the florist today only 3 decisions will be left: menu (catering is already arranged), favors, and flower girl dresses.

Dear sweet Lord, the flower girl dresses.

In fact, clothing as a whole has been a bit of a bumpy ride.

Oh, the guys are easy. All the men will be in kilts, either bought or rented. John already has his (bought during OUR wedding planning actually), Chris's will be ordered soon, and the other two will be rented.

The wedding dress is already hanging in a closet. Due to serendipitous circumstances, Myrrh came across exactly what she wanted (modest and pretty) in her size, with perfect fit, never touched or tried on, and way under her budget. Of course she bought it already.

In fact, the odds of finding a modest dress were so low that math itself argued against the odds.

This isn't some ridiculous definition of "modest" either. Modest in this case meant something she'd be comfortable wearing in a Catholic church for an afternoon wedding instead of the equivalent of a cocktail dress with a train. In other words, something with sleeves that kept the *ahem* girls where they were supposed to be.

Contemporary wedding dresses are evidently allergic to sleeves and any neckline that doesn't require a plunging backless strapless bra.

But I digress.

After the dress was bought we brought our attention to bridesmaid dresses. Once again the goal being to dress like we were attending a Catholic ceremony instead of a club.

Finding a bridesmaid dress that is suitable for a church should not be difficult. Yet it is. Between strapless, spaghetti strap, halters, and OMG plunging necklines we determined the entire purpose of a bridesmaid dress is to pick up a groomsman.

2 of the 3 groomsmen are married or engaged. 2 of the 3 bridesmaids are married, and the third is a lesbian. Picking up the groomsmen wasn't a consideration.

Fortunately between the LDS and Catholics there seems to be a thriving niche market for form-fitting, pretty, and church-acceptable bridesmaid dresses out there and by looking at retailers tapping that market we were able to find bridesmaid dresses that fit our needs. It was a tedious, frustrating process but we managed it.

That leaves us with flower girl dresses for my daughters, who at the time of the wedding will be 6 and 8.

You'd think this would be easy, right? WRONG.

Yesterday after attending the cake testing and ordering the cake, Myrrh and I decided to drop by David's Bridal to pick something up and look at flower girl dresses.

We left in absolute shock.

Evidently everything I've written about wedding dresses and bridesmaid dresses applies to flower girl dresses. Sleeveless, spaghetti straps, halter tops (wtf?) attempts at creating cleavage (!!!!!!!) and my personal favorite, mini-bride syndrome.

A few of the worst offenders:





The last one really gets me. Picking up groomsmen I somewhat get, but who is my 6-year-old going to pick up with this one? A Kindergartener?

Yeah, I know. That's what I get for looking at David's. But David's isn't the only offender. These dresses are all over the place, at every wedding site across the country. Why would so many designers make so many of them if people weren't buying them?!?!?!?

So I thought that like before, I'd take a different tack and maybe hunt down some confirmation or first holy communion dresses instead. They'd be white, pretty, and suitable for church, right?

Wrong.



WTF, over?

What are all these people smoking anyway? Why are they dressing little girls like women? What happened sleeves, high necklines, and foofy skirts? Why would I dress my little girls to show more skin and (attempts at) cleavage than the bride for godsake?

Who in their right mind dresses little girls up as pedo-bait, or anything other than little girls?

What the hell are we thinking as a culture anyway?

I for one refuse to have any part in this. If I have to search every inch of the internet, if I have to visit every shop in the Valley, if I have to buy the fabric and sew it myself my girls will attend the wedding looking like what they are: little girls. Not little brides. Not little women. Little girls.

Why the hell do I have to buck the trend just to be a responsible parent?

Mel

Oh Great, Another one... And Another One... And Another One...

Looks like along with Smith and Wesson adding a piston model to their three year old AR line, SIG is getting into the piston AR game.

From American Rifleman and The Firearms Blog:


...The Sig 516 is the new AR. Here's a picture for you, but don't tell anyone because it doesn't exist.

Since we're talking about a new gun, here's what you need to know:

1. It's piston operated and has an adjustable gas regulator similar to the Ruger 556.
2. It has an ambidextrous safety.
3. Comes with Yankee Hill folding rear and front sights.
4. It's an AR.
...
It had been previously announced (see the firearms blog post above) that they would be producing select fire versions, it wasn't clear that they'd be selling complete civilian legal rifles. Now the NRA is unofficially saying they've confirmed it, with a December order date.

Looks like they're following the SR-556 mold, in adding premium parts to commodity forgings etc... I see at the least flip down front and rear sights (looks like Sampson, or Yankee Hill. NRA says Yankee Hill, but I can't find confirmation) , a decent rail system, ambidextrous safety, an ergo-grip with plug, a Crane SOPMOD clone stock, and Magpul mags.

Given the relative market failure of their home designed piston 5.5.6 rifle entry (they've sold as many as they've put together, but compared to AR's...) I wonder if this is them throwing in the towel on the SG-556... Of course, they actually share many parts and pieces, so maybe they'll keep them both going.

Better pics here at the M4 forums: http://m4carbine.net/showthread.php?t=37970

In the promo poster on M4carbine you can see an ambi mag release as well, and looking closer, the sights may be from Troy, contrary to the NRA report. I think the rails are (or at least licensed), and they may have sourced or licensed both from the same. Of course they may not have, just to avoid being too close to the SR-556.

Oh and the firearms blog just today posted that Stag Arms is popping out a piston AR as well.

Not much detail yet, but it seems primarily notable in that the list price is $1185, only a few dollars more than their non piston models of equivalent configuration; and several hundred dollars below the list price of every other piston AR I know of.

The Christian response, to Christian gun control advocates

Luke 22:36

"Then said he unto them, but now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one."

The Creepy-ass Obama Worship Breakdown