Monday, November 30, 2009

Another "truth in Venn diagrams" moment


Courtesy of GraphJam.com via "Mostly Cajun"

Two Hour War Games: Bad Plagiarist, No Donut

So it seems some staggering genius named Ed Teixeira of "Two Hour War Games" decided to rip off a friend of mine.

A friend of mine that used to own a machine gun store...

So Ed, you're theoretically a wargame designer right? Would you describe that as a tactical error on your part?

It seems that the mental midget in question decided to lift a little content...
"Origins - All Things Horror

Vampires terrorizing your town?

Call us!

It's been almost twelve weeks since your own personal nightmare took place. Looking back, it's hard to believe it really happened. When most people come face to face with a supernatural creature (we call them monsters) they run. They also die. Not you. For some reason you fought back. Fought back and killed it.

I guess you could consider that your interview.

Anyway, it was only a matter of days before they approached you in the hospital about working for the Company. Smooth talking operators, with money to burn, you fell for their pitch. After all, did you expect you'd be able to return to the nine to five grind once you found out that nightmares are real?

...

You're a highly trained monster killer. You work for a high paying, highly secret private company, whose job it is to kill monsters. Vampire terrorizing your town? Call us. Bad case of the walking dead? We're on it. Get the idea? Good? Now grab your gear and get going "newbie". "
Sound familiar to anyone?

It should, it's the plot of (and some direct quotes from) the first eight or nine chapters of Larry Correias best selling book "Monster Hunter International";

As it happens, the first seven of those chapters are available online for free, from Baen.

So not only did they plagiarize Larry, but they may not have even had the courtesy to buy his book to do it.

However, it seems that Ed has discovered his tactical error:
http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/twohourwargames/message/58321


" "Ed" Message #58321 of 58321
Tue Dec 1, 2009 12:57 am

There has been an issue with some of the content of ATH and of this moment it
has been pulled from circulation."
Let's just see if this guy does the right thing by Larry. If not, we googlebomb his unoriginal, thieving, plagiarizing ass back to the stone age.

Update:

It looks like Mr. Teixeira has done the right thing. He pulled the game, and has worked out an agreement with Larry, and will be working with Baen to deal with the copyright issue.

A comment from Ed Teixeira:
Ed Teixeira, on December 1st, 2009 at 1:00 am Said:

Larry,
Can you email me so I can talk to you. Seriously man, there was no offense intended. I’d like to show you what I have an get your opinions.

Ed
From Larry:
EDIT: Okay, before reading forward, everybody can relax. I spoke with the owner of the Two Hour Wargames after I posted this. Yes, he was inspired by the first part of MHI. He will be putting up a thing on his page about that is where he got the idea. He apologized, and will be linking to where people can get my book. Ed apologized, said that he read that bit and got fired up, and should not have used my stuff like that. I respect that he contacted me so quickly to apologize and to try to make things right.

I don’ t mind fan fiction, in fact I love it and there is some great MHI fan fic on the internet. I know of at least a dozen different gamer groups that are running their own MHI based campaigns and I think that is awesome, but when someone uses a writer’s creation to make money, then that is different. Baen Books owns the rights to MHI, and anything that ties in there needs to be cleared through them through proper channels.

Book Review: Hostile Intent by Michael Walsh

Hostile Intent by Michael Walsh

In short, one of the worst books I have ever finished reading.

I've STARTED to read worse books, but put them down at some point, never to return. This one I actually finished; because it has a lot of potential, but is ultimately worse for taking that potential and ruining it by amateurish mistakes, and what I can only call authorial laziness.

This book is a perfect illustration how a book can be reasonably well written, yet be awful.

Between the basic technical errors, the tropes, and the cliches... basically I only finished reading the book to see if it got any worse (it did. Continuously. With every page).

The book almost seems to be the result of a computer program taking every bad technothriller cliche, and combining them with "hard boiled" characters and dialog etc... to spit out the "optimal technothriller novel". Like one of those scriptwriting computer programs.

A sample of some of the more egregious idiocies:

"supercomputers powered by the Large Hadron Collider"

"running the Level Six double-bind ciphers through IMDB-Pro"

... really, they get MUCH worse, and litter the book, on nearly every page. There are even extended passages about cryptography, and high performance computing, that read like they were created by throwing buzzwords into a blender and pouring them out onto the page.

And yet, the actual "mechanics of writing" part, the pacing, the non technical dialog, the scene setting; all were reasonably well done.

Clearly, Walsh is a decent writer, who simply knows absolutely nothing about the subject he chose to write about. From his language choices, phrasing, pacing, and scene setting in fact, I'd peg him as a television screenwriter.

If Walsh would get a couple of good technical advisers who know guns and computers, and a group of beta readers, I'm willing to bet the sequel (and there is certainly a sequel, presuming the book earns out; and given that it's had good press and good blurbs I assume it will... probably already has) will be MUCH better.

A lot of folks on the right, conservative, or just anti-lefty side of things have been giving the book positive reviews, because it takes a big swing at leftist ideologies (and certain thinly disguised individuals); but to my mindthat kind of thinking is harmful.

Just because a book espouses a position or opinion you agree with doesn't mean you have to like it, or support it (or for that matter SHOULD, never mind "have to"). Judge a book by what it should be, not by its ideology, or the ideology of the author.

Books are art, and entertainment, and a means of distributing information. This book fails on all three counts.

It COULD be entertaining, if the fundamental errors were fixed (cliches and tropes are ok for the genre... otherwise they wouldn't have become cliches) but it isnt... unless, like me, you enjoy things that are "so bad they're good", and this book just about qualifies.

I'm dead serious though, if the guy would just get some technical advisers on guns, computers, the military, and private security... Hell, I volunteer, for free.

Michael Walsh, if you are out there, I DO know a hell of a lot about what you've chosen to write about, and I've got a bunch of friends who do too. We'll read your stuff, and tell you where you got it wrong.

Most of us read every other author in the genre too, and we get the political message, and the ideology you're working with, the way a BOS/NY/LA editor won't.

I think most of us would do it just so there's one less book full of gun and computer errors out there...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

New Crackberry

So, as I mentioned last week, my work laptop died horribly... again...

I also mentioned that I was on the crackberry from then, until my new work laptop arrives. Which was supposed to be this week, but I figured it wouldn't be.

As it happens, looks like I'm right about that, as it hasn't even arrived from the vendor to our desktop support folks (who have to reimage it with our corporate image, security software etc...), and they'll take a day or two with the thing before I can pick it up.


Anyway, the earliest I'll probably get the thing is Tuesday, so I will have been sans work PC for two weeks.

Joy.

As it happens, my blackberry has been getting progressively crappier as time went on. I don't install any third party apps... hell I don't even use the thing as a phone 90% of the time, I just use it for email and calender...

But ooooohhh how many email and calendar items I use it for.

I get about 300 emails a day, many of which are in rich text format, many of which have large attachments.

Also I have on average 30 or so meetings a week, and many of those ALSO have large attachments (which I hate, and attempt to discourage whenever possible, but for some reason "project managers' LOVE attaching crap to meeting invites).

At any rate, I would do a hard reset on the damn thing every day, and still within a couple hours, the response time on the POS would be completely unusable. I'd press a key or receive an email, and I'd get the hourglass spinning for 20 or thirty seconds.

The real problem is, I have a Blackberry Curve 8330, and it's a piece of crap. Slow processor, not much memory etc...

So I called up our blackberry support people (we have a department in verizon dedicated just to us, which is nice. Instead of the half hour on hold most people get, we get 30 seconds or so) and I described the problem, and what I was doing about it etc... and at first the rep was confused, but then I told her about the workload I was putting on the poor little bastard...

Yeah, about half way through the description, she's audibly nodding and saying "oh yeah, I know EXACTLY what the problem is".

Basically, the poor bastard can't handle it.

So, they arranged to upgrade me (again, we have our own department in Verizon. We get upgraded whenever we need to, don't need to wait two years. There are a few perks to being one of the largest companies in the world).

I got my new Blackberry Tour 9630 today.

DAMN...

It doesn't suck.

No, seriously... I know... A blackberry that doesn't suck didn't compute here either, but there it is.

Basically it's got twice the CPU and 8 times the ram my curve had (528mhz and 256mb ram, vs 225mhz and 32mb); plus it's a world phone with a GSM radio (and sim card) for international, and a 4 gb "media card" (they don't let you store apps on the card for some reason, so it really is just for media. Also a 2gb is standard, but they give us 4giggers for some reason).

No, it's still nowhere near as good a mobile computer as my iPhone and I doubt it's as good as the droid (and mobile computers is what the iPhone and Droid really are. The BB is really more of a smartphone); but as an email device that will only occasionally be used as a mobile computer , it aint bad.

Too bad they decided to change the cradle and the charging cord AGAIN.

Anybody got any app suggestions? Also are any of the visual voicemail solutions for BB on Verizon other than crap?

Friday, November 20, 2009

An Immutable Fact of Life

There is no going back. There is no standing still. There is only moving ever forward.

No matter what you do, no matter how hard you may wish it to be otherwise, or try to make it not so, there is only moving forward.

Attempting anything else will get you run over by the universe.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

More on economic literacy, and the reality of the situation

Yaknow why I check the Dow every day?

To see which way the sheep are going to be running tomorrow, so I can avoid their trail of shit.

Just take a look at the mishmash of crap in this article from Bloomberg; actually explaining nothing, just kinda throwing random facts at the wall to see what sticks; and showing just how divorced from anything real or rational both market moves, and the people who predict and report on the market, really are.

The DJIA, and more generally the stock market, are NOT indicators for the health of our economy.

In fact, the New York Stock Exchange is not a rational equities market by any stretch of the imagination (and thus any indicator based on it, is even less reliable); and the DJIA isn't even a rational or reliable indicator it it's value.

What the market (and the Dow) are really about, is psychology. They've always been psychology. They always will be psychology.

"Market plunges 300 points in two days"... yeah... after climbing 500 points in 7....

Actually, today the market dropped 200 points, then came back up by a hundred for a net down (not actually a loss really) of 93. The "explanation" linked above shows what happens when you try to explain market pscyhology, as if it was rationally driven. You end up shoehorning data into your causality slot, whether it fits or not, just so you don't have to say "it's based on merest whim".

But there's a larger point there; that I think most people who derive the sum total of their financial knowledge from the major news media (meaning, sadly, most people) don't really see or understand.

"The Market" is not the economy, and the economy is not the market. They are correlated, but not directly.

You know what it takes to be successful in a speculative market?

Step 1: Do what the other guy is going to do before he even knows he's going to do it.

Step 2: Stop doing it, and reverse yourself, before the other guy stops

They call it being in front of the trend.

Successful (at least in the short term. In the long term... read this speech from Warren Buffet...) investors don't invest based on how they believe a company is doing; they invest based on how they think the public, the press, and the other players in the market will react to the data they receive about the company, AND the companies related to it

Let me explain that last bit. One company could be reporting "good numbers" but two other companies in "the sector" (other companies in the same industry) could report "bad numbers"; then every company in the whole sector will go down because of the publics perception of risk; even the company that reported good numbers.

Most people are not smart investors. That, in fact, is why speculative markets even exist.

I am making a distinction here. Speculating in a market does not make a market speculative. If that markets moves are clearly based on rational responses to reliable and relevant data, that is a rational market.

Rational markets, require that all (or at least the large majority of) participants be informed, rational actors.

The stock market in America today, is NOT a rational market.

That first presumption, that the market is populated with informed actors, is so obvious and false as to not really require any explanation.

Most people don't even know what the DJIA IS, or what it means; they only "know" that when it goes up "it's good" and when it goes down "it's bad" (which in and of itself isn't really true, or at least not necessarily).

The DJIA, or "the Dow" stands for the Dow Jones Industrial Average... only it isn't an average at all. It's the sum total of the weighted prices (it's corrected for stock splits and the like, and higher priced stocks are given more weight in the average than lower priced stocks, regardless of market capitalization) of 30 stocks, picked by the Dow Jones company. Those companies are changed "as market conditions warrant", and have changed many times over since the index was created in 1896. Not coincidentally, it was created by one of the founding publishers of the Wall Street Journal.

Here's a link to the current list: http://www.bloomberg.com/markets/stocks/movers_index_dow.html

I've explained this to literally hundreds of people, who either look at me like I was a green headed martian; or they simply don't believe me.

It is simply against all "common sense" to these people, that this magic number, which is seemingly so important, and is supposed to be reflective of the performance of our economy; is essentially arbitrary, and completely divorced from the actual performance of the economy, or even of the companies that make up the index themselves.

Yes, taken over a an extended period, the long term trends in the economy, and the long term trends in the Dow, tend to correlate; but on any given day... or even in any given year, the DJIA may be completely divorced from the economic reality of the nation as a whole.

In fact, it is right now.

"The Dow" briefly touched just under 14,000 in 2007, before plunging to under 7000 (6547 actually) in the early 2009... where it had last been in '97 (two weeks later is was back up another thousand points of course, and three months after that another thousand).

How about this one. Any idea what the last "worst crash ever" was, back in '87?

The DJIA dropped from it's then historical peak of 2709 to 1766... which is actually what the all time PEAK had been less than two years before in 1986. As it happens, we went back over 2662 by 1990.

Ok first of all, 2700 to 14,000 in 20 years... Huh... Yeah and in the BIG crash of '29 it was 380. Not 3800, 380... and over the course of 3 years it crashed all the way down to 42. Not 4200, not 420... 42 . The DJIA it didn't see 380 again until 1956, and didn't hit 1,000 til 1966.

Does anyone actually believe that in less than 80 years, our economy grew 33,333%

No, of course not.

Does anyone really think the economy lost 50% of its value in a little over a year, either in 87-88 or 2007-2009? Well, obviously the people in the market didn't, because in the '87-'89 crash the market was back above it's peak in two years; and here it is late November of 2009 (7 months from the low), and we're back up over 10,000.

Neither does the federal government; reporting essentially null growth nor loss, from the stock market peak in 2007 to today (actually they report 6% growth, but that's not in constant dollars).

But.. But... This is the worst economy since THE GREAT DEPRESSION!!!!

No it isn't.

Not even close.

It's not the worst economy... it's not even the worst stock market. In real, constant dollar terms (2000 indexed), we're down about 3% from our peak.

On a constant dollar basis, our GDP peaked in Q2 2008 at $13.4153 trillion.

As of Q3 reporting results, we're down 3.4% from that peak (projections for Q4 are all over the place so I'm ignoring them right now).

Ok, but it IS actually the biggest constant dollar percentage decline we've had since WW2 right? We haven't had a constant dollar decline bigger than a percent between then and now?

Well, not exactly... You see that 3.4% is from the peak to the today. If the Q4 predictions are anywhere near correct, the 2008 annual, to 2009 annual, will be a decline of just about 1% plus or minus a couple points.

So when was the last time the economy was this "bad"?

Try Q3 of 2006, which was at that time the all time historical high. Or if the Q4 projections are right, 2007, which was ALSO the all time historical high.

Actually... that's when we hit that 14,000 DJIA peak... And as it happens, with the DJIA hovering a little above 10,000 at the moment, we're right back where we were in 2006.

So, the economy is as "bad" as it was in 2006 or 2007... Which pretty much everyone at the time considered a huge boom...

In fact it WAS a huge boom. Our GDP made the biggest jump since the GDP has been recorded, of 11% in one year (remember, this is in adjusted constant dollars, not "inflated funny money").

Starting in q3 2006, we had a two year boom (actually a bubble) both in stocks, and in GDP; and now after a year of correcting, we're back exactly where we were from about 2002 through Q2 2006.

Not only are we not worse off than we were 10 or 20 years ago, we're far BETTER off.

In real dollar terms, our economy has doubled since 1989... pentupled since 1969...

Umm... Ok well... the dollar isn't worth what it was... Right?

Yeah, I'm talking about inflation adjusted dollars. That doesn't fly.

Umm... ok, but the GDP per capita has fallen so we're all poorer than we were right?

Nope. Not even close.

US population in 1989 was 247 million, with a constant dollar GDP of 7.030 trillion; or $28,462 per capita.

US population est. today is 305 million, with a constant dollar GDP of 13.1 trillion; or $42,951 per capita.

And, as I keep reminding you, this is all in constant dollars. That means it's adjusted for inflation.

In constant dollars, we have just about 1.5 times the GDP per capita we had in 1989

However, if you looked at the stock market, it's 5 times what it was in 1989...

Disconnect much?

Ok, but that's the economy as a whole, what about individuals?

Using purchasing power dollars (normalised for both wages and inflation) we've "only" improved about 30%, not the 50% GDP has; which means that the "average person" can buy 30% more for each hour of labor than he could in 1989.

Yes, it's not the 50% that we saw in per capita GDP, which means that yes, income disparity has increased somewhat.

Everybody got richer, but the rich got richer than the poor did.

Actually... that's mostly inaccurate too; because it was primarily investors who got richer; and the majority of investment capital comes from the middle class, through mutual funds and other retirement accounts; and from pension funds (which are primarily for who the press likes to call the "working class" as if nobody else worked).

Not exactly the "rich get richer, poor get poorer" narrative the left wants to portray, which is why they harp so much now on "growing income disparity"; while ignoring the fact that the poor are genuinely better off than they were, with more income, and more purchasing power than they had 20 years ago.

So yes, we've devalued the currency through inflation; but wage increases, and productivity gains, have MORE than compensated for that.

Basically, we've made every slice of the pie cost more, and you're getting a smaller percentage of the pie in every slice; but it's MUCH bigger pie, and you got a bigger raise than the cost per slice increased; so you can actually afford much more pie for every hour you work today than you did in 1989.

So, ignore "the Dow". It's basically pointless and meaningless as any real indicator of anything other than what a speculator should NOT be doing (i.e. he should be doing whatever the other guy ISN'T).

Ignore the geniuses who tell us that we've lost a third, or half, or two thirds, or whatever wild ass number they make up... of our purchasing power through fiat money.
Note: this is not to say that current and projected fiscal policy won't change that soon.

The reason we have been able to maintain, and actually increase purchasing power (and therefore standard of living), even with significant inflation; is that we have simultaneously both increased wages, and improved productivity.

If we continue on our current debt financing path, along with health care "reform" and other spending programs, and our current weak dollar fiscal policy, as the fedgov plans; we ARE going to see MASSIVE inflation, without compensating wage or productivity growth.

This inflation WILL cause a large decline in both purchasing power and GDP; resulting in real declines in standard of living and overall economic power of the nation. It will also force huge rises in interest rates, freezing credit markets, causing a great deal of economic contraction, or at best stagnation; and likely far more job losses.


Specie currency not only would not solve the main problem (growth, or the lack thereof, inflation, and deflation), it would make it worse.

Specie currency is NOT inherently table as so many people believe (against all evidence and logic. In fact the more evidence showing how unstable it is, the more they take that as evidence of its value, strengthening their conviction. It's because they fundamentally and to their core believe in the inherent value fallacy); it is simply more difficult for governments to arbitrarily manipulate.

Specie currency and eliminating the federal reserve, the usual prescription these people give, would solve the problem of the government manipulating the currency through fiscal policy, and no other; and induce MANY other problems.

If you really want to know how things are really going, look at REAL unemployment (those people who actually want a job, and are looking for one, but don't have one), constant dollar wages (or purchasing power dollars), and constant dollar GDP.

Unemployment... that's a tough one.

Is unemployment bad right now? Yes.

How bad historically?

We have no idea.

The way numbers have been collected and tabulated has changed so much over the years, and the data so manipulated by governments and those with an agenda on both sides, you can't trust any of it.

What we can say, is that we've lost maybe a 1-3 percentage points of purchasing power, and maybe 3 percent more of our population are our of work than they were two years ago, when we were at an all time historic peak, that just so happens to have been a speculative, inflationary, and insupportable bubble...

So we've corrected, and we're back to about the same as we were 3-5 years ago; which is better than it was 10 years ago, 20 years ago, or 50 years ago...

And that's not really that bad.

Hey... Everybody in the whole world, Listen Up!

Stop agonizing about how hard life (or something like it) might be, and start actually living and doing it. You'll be a hell of a lot better off.

Trust me, your bellybutton is not a font of wisdom, and you will not find the answers you seek in fear, anxiety, tentativity, or half measures.

Do it, don't do it... whatever you do don't agonize over it.

You don't need to "take control of your own life"... that's just self help book, motivational speaker, dr. Phil, pop psychology bull.

Don't "take control of your life"...

Don't "improve your self actualization"...

Just shut up and live.

That is all.

I think we employ several of his clones

Dilbert.com

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Gack, another dead laptop

My work laptop ate itself yesterday.

Technically speaking, it's not 100% dead; but I'm getting intermittent I/O errors on the hard drive, and four reboots out of five, it wont load the full disk encryption software we use to secure our disks, so it can't boot up.

Even if the hard drive wasn't bad (and it seems unlikely that it isn't at this point), when you get disk errors like that on an encrypted volume, the encryption software tends to puke and garbage the whole drive.

In 4 years using this software, I've lost six drives to it; including one previous drive in this machine, which I've only had for 11 months.

At any rate, they're going to have to repair the thing, which is going to take over a week, because next week is a holiday week.

Joy.

However, as it happens, earlier this year we were thinking about going to Boston to visit my father for thanksgiving; and I took the whole week off.

So at least I wont be two full weeks without a laptop.

That said, I decided to see if I could short circuit the system.

We allocate a certain budget every year to laptop replacement. I asked my boss, and his boss, if we had any budget left; and if so could I skip around all the repair BS, and just get a new laptop, have this one repaired, and turned back in to the pool for allocation as a spare.

Given that our groups only current spare laptop is a ThinkPad T43 (from 2005), they agreed.

So, I'mna get a shiny new laptop. Again. For the second time this year on work machines, to go along with the second time this year for my personal laptops.

And, I'll most likely get it Friday or Monday, instead of two weeks from now.

Even better... and this I find funny as hell... Since I got my last work laptop we stopped buying the Dells and switched to HPs.

So the HP laptop I originally thought I was going to get when HP upgraded and replaced my previous one free of charge, was the Elitebook 8730. A 17" high performance machine with discrete graphics, and all the bells and whistles.

Funny enough, that's just exactly what work will be giving me this time around.

Not bad at all really... especially since all my power supplies will now work on both machines... plus they'll send me a new docking station and spare power supply.

Of course I'll have the usual several weeks of unproductivity while I fix everything HP and my own desktop support people did to screw my machine up... but I'd have to do that with the repaired laptop anyway, since it would just be re-imaged on the new drive.

In the meantime, I'm basically working off my crackberry... which is having it's own issues.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

We are not a Democracy, we are a Republic

This is as succinct, and as masterful a description of the relationship between the rights of man, and the government of a free state, as I have yet seen.

“I cannot, and will not, consent that the majority of any republican State may, in any way, rightfully restrict the humblest citizen of the United States in the free exercise of any one of his natural rights,” which are “those rights common to all men, and to protect which, not to confer, all good governments are instituted.

John A. Bingham (Judge, Congressman, and the principal author of the 14th amendment)
As quoted in the Appellants brief in McDonald v. City of Chicago(my emphasis added).

All too often one hears men say 'the constitution gives us the right" or even "the government gives us the right".

This is simply false. Governments cannot confer rights on someone. Rights are those things that are common to all men. Those things that we have, and which cannot be taken away from us but by force, fraud, or willing consent.

Governments exist, for the sole purpose of protecting and furthering those rights; and no other.

WAY better than the original

Monday, November 16, 2009

Yaknow what makes me feel old?

Most of the actors, actresses, and singers I see on a day to day basis are younger than me now.

Singers have been younger than me for 15 years now, I'm cool with that... But when the "strong leading man" actors are younger than you...

Ahhh well...

Wise Words

"Stupidity cannot be cured with money, or through education, or by legislation.
Stupidity is not a sin; the victim can't help being stupid. But, stupidity is the only
universal capital crime; the sentence is death, there is no appeal, and execution is
carried out automatically and without pity."

--Robert A. Heinlein

Sunday, November 15, 2009

That was a FUCKING FIRST DOWN!

And not having a challenge left... What. The. Fuck...

Going for it on fourth I can see, but without having a TO left to challenge in case something went wrong?

He had both feet down, and the ball under control, on the other side of the line. He was pushed back by the tackle. The ball should have been spotted about a yard further forward than it was; and if he had been able to challenge, the call would most likely have been reversed, and the game would have gone for New England.

Instead, WTF?

In fact, WTF was that whole 4th quarter?

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Tread is Below Lincolns Head

So, the other day, Steve mentioned his ordeal in finding new tires for his 3/4 ton Dodge Diesel (which I will take the credit/blame for forcing him to buy).

As it happens, I also have a 3/4 ton Dodge Diesel, and I also need tires for it.

As in REALLY need tires for it.

We measured our tires, and instead of 31.6" height as they are supposed to be (265/70-17), they're down to 29.6".

As in "yeah, the tires are going to come out of this paycheck".

They were dramatically under-inflated (even though we inflate them every couple weeks at worst) and are nearly bare of tread. Technically we're at a legal tread depth... just barely at 2/32"... but I'm not happy with that.

Well, that explains the speedometer error (between 2mph and 3mph over at indicated 75. Aint GPS grand).

At any rate, I'm looking for a good compromise tire for my truck.

What I want is tires that will have good rough road, ice, and snow performance, and acceptable light duty offroad performance; without being too noisy or having poor treadlife; and without hurting my city mileage very much.

With the torque of my diesel, and my gearing, it's not really the height of the tire I'm concerned about, it's the rolling resistance. Most tires with nice aggressive offroad tread patterns, are not only noisier than highway tires, but they have far higher rolling resistance.

Unfortunately, smooth, stiff tires, aren't any damn good offroad. Of course to offset that, taller tires means lower revs and better fuel economy, once the actual acceleration portion of the days program is over.

I've got a 2006 Dodge Ram 2500 with the 5.9 Cummins, 4x4, the super heavy duty suspension and tow package, and factory skidplates, and driveline guards.

Straight from the factory with these options, it has a built in almost 6" lift over the standard 1500 2wd with the smaller wheels and tires(245/60-16 is the stock "cheap" wheel and tire package).

Frankly, it's a tall truck already, I'm 6'2", and it's a bit of a climb up, even for me. I definitely need to fit some nerf bar steps. However, the offroad performance of the tires is crap.

Basically, I'd like to have some taller tires both for better offroad performance, and for highway cruising (as I noted above, taller tires means lower revs on the highway, presuming you've got the torque for it, and I do).

Oh and cosmetically, the current wheel and tire combo looks absolutely miniature in those massive wheel wells, especially with the factory lift. I'd like to fill the wells a bit more.

So, I'm wanting to trade up a bit in size from 265/70-17 (which works out to 31.6").

I've been thinking about either a 33"x12.5-17 (obviously 33"diameter... 285/70-17 is roughly equivalent in diameter at 32.7", but about an inch narrower), or 315/70-17 (34.4"x12.4); but I'm not sure about mounting those on my stock 17x8" heavy duty (e rated) rims.

Offroaders go with sidewalls that high and tread that wide on 8" wide rims all the time; but according to tire manufacturers, 295s or 11.5" are the largest tires that will fit on 8" rims.

I learned a rule of thumb a long time ago for street tires, and that was you could go as far over your rim size, as your sidewall series rounded up to the next even size (i.e. 265, 275 etc...), and one even size above that, without causing tread pattern issues (so on 8" rims with 40 series tires, you could go to 245s or 255s)... but that's for pure street tires, not heavy duty truck tires that will be used offroad.

AT/Offroad tires are supposed to balloon out a bit, and with that height of sidewall, the wheeling guys say you can go up to 100mm over the rim with the right tire design (with 100% offroad tires you can go more, but not with street tires).

So by their measurement, 315s (12.4") would be find, but by my rule of thumb and manufacturers recommendations 285s might be a better fit.

Given that, 285/70-17 may be the best choice (they'd also be a bit cheaper), but I'd really like a bit bigger.

Oh and before anyone asks, no, I don't want to change my wheels. For one thing, getting decent E rated wheels is EXPENSIVE (around $2k for a set of 5, including spare; and when you change size, you need to change the spare).

Hell,technically speaking, if I wanted to change wheels I could fit larger tires (up to maybe 37") on the truck without fender flares or more lift (seriously, the wheel arches are HUGE, and with the lift, the 17" in there now look like rollerskate wheels); but I don't really need anything so large, and I don't feel like the significantly higher cost, or the reduced fuel economy.

There's a further connundrum, about backspacing. I've talked with several guys online, and a couple different tire places and offroad places; and no-one can seem to agree what backspacing is required for my wheels and truck, for what size tire.

Some places say that 285 is the maximum that will fit without rubbing given my wheel spacing; but some say it's 315. Others say the 315 requires a 2" spacer. Still others say no, I don't need a spacer unless I go for the 33x12.5s (almost the same size as the 315s), and then it's only a 1" spacer.

I'd love to get a straight answer, but I've had two Dodge service managers even give me contradicting answers.

One thing I'm NOT going to do is anything that compromises my load rating. No spacers, no non E rated wheels (even if I were to change my wheels right now, which I'm not), and no non E rated tires.

Which brings me to the biggest problem: finding E rated tires worth buying in larger sizes.

It seems that most E or higher rated tires, are either in much larger size (i.e. F550 dually dump truck size), or in 16"; and most of them only go up to 265 or so.

Almost all the 17" and 18" wider and taller tires top out at D rating. Oh and by the by, you usually pay about $25 per tire extra (on $200+ tires) for the E rating over the D.

In doing some basic research, I identified two options, which have acceptable on and off road traction, without excessive wear and road noise:

Firestone Destination AT: the highest rated tires in the size range at TireRack, though I'm iffy on Firestone.

Bridgestone Dueler AT Revo 2: I've had earlier versions of this tire, with good results, though Bridgestone and Firestone are the same company.

There are some great Cepek options, but none of the sizes larger than 265/70 are E rated. There are a couple of decent Kumho options, but they're a little more aggressively treaded than I'd like for onroad performance.

I've also had strong recommendations from some forum readers for:

General Grabber AT2: Great offroad tire, with good onroad performance, and severe winter weather rated (the snowflake symbol). Unfortunately, the largest size they make in 17" is 265/70... though it is E rated.

Goodyear Wrangler ProGrade SilentArmor
: This looks like a serious option. They're considerably more expensive than the other possibilities (about $50 more each), but they seem to be damn near indestructible. They're also snow rated, and E-rated; and they have the kevlar armor and extra sidewall thickness (and toughness) for the silent armor system. Oh and a 50,000 mile warranty. The only issue being, the largest size they come in 17" is 285/70-17.

At this point I'm leaning strongly towards the Firestone Destination ATs, or the Wrangler pro-grades. The Wranglers seem to be the better tire, but at a much higher price.

Any more suggestions, or personal experience? I'm especially interested if someone else with a 2006 or so Dodge Ram 2500 4x4 can tell me if they know the ACTUAL maximum tire width for our truck.

Oh and I'm putting this up on "nobody reads blogs day" so I can gather info over the weekend and Monday; because I'm going to grab the tires next week most likely.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Quote of the Day

"You see that's the whole point of being the government. If you don't like something, you simply make up a law that makes it illegal." --Kenneth Brannagh in "Pirate Radio"

No Further Comment Necessary

Dilbert.com

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remembrance

In Flanders Fields
--Lt. Col. John McCrae, M.D. (1872-1918)
Royal Canadian Army

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
It is now the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month, at Compiegne...

First, today is Veterans Day


In America, Memorial Day is for the dead, and Veterans Day is for the living. As such, first I wish to give thanks.

I thank all of you, still serving to defend out country, and those of our friends and allies; and those who are fighting to preserve freedom, liberty, justice, and humanity.

Thank you cousin Jesse (USN, '97 - present, UDT) - Only one thing he ever wanted in life, to be a SEAL. He got his wish, and he's off god knows where doing god knows what; and couldn't be happier.

Thank you cousin Brian (USA, '95 - present, 3rd SF, SFC). Laying it down in the 'Stan, winning hearts and minds.

Thanks you Mike, and John, and Tom, and Tony, and Justin, and Shakes, and all my many friends still driving on.

May god bless you and keep you.

I thank all of you who have served in the past; for the risks you have taken, and the sacrifices you have made.

Thank you Dad (USA '66-'74 SFC) - a 15 year old Irish immigrant with a forged birth certificate; grew up on the streets, but became both a citizen, and a man in the Army. Almost 9 years in, almost all of it in SF, and almost all of that in SEA. By the end he was broken, and he only recently put himself together again. I love you dad.

Thank you uncle Patrick (USN '68-72 GM3) - My fathers brother, who spent most of those years sending steel over the coast of VN.

Thank you uncle Brian (USMC, '79-87 SSgt. USANG '88-92 SFC) - My mothers brother, who fought the war we pretended didn't happen in the phillipines, and then again in the gulf.

Thank you Ben (USA '97 - 2001, Cpl, Inf, Rgr, 3rdBt. 75th rgt.) - Lead the way, then lead his family.

Thank you cousin Johnathan (USN 2001 - 2007, AC1C) - dropped out of college after 9/11 to join the Navy, because in his own words, it was the right thing to do for his country.

Thank you cousin Robert (USAF 2004 - 2008, A1C, CCT) - Followed his brother down to Jax, and at 25, decided to follow me into the Air Force instead.

Thank you John, Troy, Mike, Tony, Randy and Zane; Soldier, Sailor, Sailor, Marine, Airman and Airman respectively.

It was more than fifteen years ago that I first put on my countries uniform, and almost ten when I last took it off. Every day I miss it.

Second, today is Remembrance Day (sometimes known as Armistice day):

This day, we celebrate the moment that the first great war of the last century was ended; in the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, of the year of our lord nineteen hundred and eighteen.

On this day I also give thanks; for those who laid down their lives, and for those who lived; to keep Europe free.

More than 90 years gone, and still every year we mark this day (though in America we reserve Memorial day for our dead, from all wars).

Remembrance day though; it still means something here as Armistice day; and it most certainly still means something around the world.. for now; for as long as the people remember... which I hope shall be always, but I fear shall be for not much longer.

Why is it called poppy day?

Britain, France, Belgium, Canada, Australia, Russia... and on the other side Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary (and the remains of the holy roman empire), Turkey (and the other ottomans)... an entire generation of young men in Europe were lost to the most futile, worst run war, in modern history.

In four years, 18 million men died (or went missing, which is mostly the same thing), and 22 million men were wounded.

In fact, Europe has never recovered from this greatest of historical mistakes. It was the direct aftermath of world war one that lead to world war two; which created the postmodern European culture that is slowly being destroyed from without and within by self hatred, depression, defeatism, socialism, and Islamic fascism...

But I digress; I was talking about why it is called poppy day.

Flanders is a region of Belgium; where the fighting in the great war was at it's worst, along with Wallonia, and northern France. The worst battles of the war were at Ypres, the Marne, the Somme, and Verdun.

At the Somme alone, the British lost 20,000 dead in one single day; and the allied forces (mostly British) lost 120,000 dead, and over 375,000 wounded total; with 100,000 dead and 350,000 wounded on the German side. The battle lasted from July 1st , til November 18th, 1916. Almost five solid months of the most brutal trench warfare ever seen; and nothing to show for it but blood, and mud.

Perhaps 200,000 total dead at the Marne (1st and 2nd), perhaps 50,000 at Ypres, Perhaps 300,000 total dead at Verdun... (10 months, and the bloodiest battle of the war, though The Somme had the bloodiest day); and nothing to show for it but blood and mud.

There was an amazing thing though; that blood, and that mud... it became magnificently fertile soil; and soon after the fighting ended, all over these horrific battlefields, poppies began to bloom.

In the first great war, as had been tradition for most of western history; those killed in battle were buried in the fields where they fell. Their memorials were raised there; a tribute to those who fought and died, and a reminder to those who did not.

And there, in Flanders and Wallonia, and in France, and in Luxembourg; there lay an entire generation of men. Millions upon millions of white crosses, millions upon millions of unmarked graves in farmers fields; surrounded by millions upon millions of poppies.

A symbol of life, of blood, of the fight for liberty and freedom. The poppies among those men who died were taken up; first by the French and the Belgians, then the Canadians and British and Americans.

Today, the poppy is a symbol of remembrance.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Important news, essential for the world to know

Home made fresh tortillas, even not particularly great examples thereof; are so much better than even the best store bought tortillas; as to be an entirely different class of food entirely.

Random Quote

"It was as if a great express train, had been lifted from my testicles"
-- Spider Robinson, supposedly quoting Bill Dunne

Monday, November 09, 2009

Failure to Train

Lebanon - 1983 - 241 (307)

Riyadh - 1996 - 19

Aden - 2000 - 17

Arlington - 2001 - 55 (254)

Killeen - 2009 - 12 (13)

We, the American people, and in particular our military leadership, have experienced a failure to train.

In 26 years, we have had five mass casualty events, perpetrated by Muslim terrorists, on service members in supposedly safe and secure facilities, outside of declared combat zones.

Soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines have been killed in their quarters, and their recreation spaces.

In most cases, this occurred while we were unarmed... or rather, disarmed by the policies of our leadership.

I speak of being disarmed both literally, and figuratively. We know who perpetrates terrorist attacks. We know how to deal with them... largely we know how to prevent the most common vectors.

We are not allowed to do so, for reasons of politics.

In 26 years, we have not had a mass casualty event that was NOT perpetrated by muslims (most of whom have been arabs). This does not, in any way, mean that all muslims, or all arabs, are terrorists, or that all terrorists are muslims (or arabs).

I'm Irish by ethnicity. My father is Irish born and raised. I know better.

But we are not allowed to say such things, because of politics.

There are many commentaries around the net today, and for the past few days, on the terrorist mass murder at Ft. Hood. They are full of those things that people say after such an event. They recognize the heroism. They mourn the dead. They ask "why?".

I'm not going to do that. Oh I honor our dead, and our heroes, and I mourn... but I don't need to join the chorus.

Other people can do that. They're good at it. I've got something just as important to do... something that maybe not everyone has the stomach for.

I choose instead to castigate, because we know the answer to that last question.

We know why. We know why he did it (why they did it in fact). We know why it was successful. We know why it was a mass casualty event, rather than a quick "suicide by soldier".

We even know how to prevent it... at least much of the time; and certainly we know how to end such things quickly.

I was serving in the Air Force (stateside) during the Khobar attacks. I remember. Though I did not know any of those who died personally, THEY KILLED MY BROTHERS.

I remember what our leadership did about it (and more importantly, what they did not).

I remember what we were not, under any circumstances, ALLOWED to do about it.

It has happened three times since. By the same perpetrators. With the same indicators. Allowed, because of the same policies.

We have failed to train.

Today, most American service members, in most American military facilities around the world, go about their days; not UN-armed, but DIS-armed.

Disarmed, both physically, and mentally.

Disarmed by politics, and political correctness.

Today, our service members cannot, in most places, carry weapons to defend themselves; though I am free to do so as a retired service member in most places... one notable exception being military installations.

Today, we are not able to use the most effective techniques to stop terrorism: including psychological and sociological profiling, taking consideration of ethnic, religious, and national background.

It can be, in fact, a crime to do so, in both cases.

The Israelis think we are mad.

Hell, the Saudis think we are mad...

The whole world does.

Yes, political correctness is all well and good for the papers and the public; but when it comes to soldiers defending themselves... Hypocrisy has it's uses after all. The world of realpolitik knows that... we pretend otherwise.

Already, the drumbeats have not only begun, but are in full force: "This is not about islam", "Armed soldiers couldn't have prevented this", "We can't use profiling", "It's racist to even think about that", "there could have been even more casualties with stray shots" etc... etc...

As it happens, I agree with that IN PART; in that this appears to not be a case of organized Islamicist terrorism.

But to say Islam has nothing to do with this, is simply blinding ones self, for the purposes of political correctness... or to make one feel less "racist", or whatever you want to call it (islam is not a race).

Simply put, were this terrorist a christian caucasian, he would have been stopped long before it ever went this far. We've become good at weeding out the bad ones... unless they are "minorities" in which case we are forced by political correctness to ignore the fact that they ARE bad ones, irrespective of their minority status.

Even if he hadn't been stopped before he started; if soldiers were allowed to go armed for self defense, his spree would have been stopped in the first minute.

We have failed to train.

There is verse in the bible (Romans 6:23) which says in part "The wages of sin is death".

The military has a variant on that... I call it the Sergeants maxim "The wages of stupidity is to be fucked up beyond all recognition".

In the Air Force, when you fail to train, you're done. You can't play, if you don't learn from your mistakes, if you don't learn to do the job, if you don't keep giving everything you've got.

You can't play if you quit; and if you fail to train, you have simply quit, passive aggressively.

If we intend to keep playing this game, we can no longer fail to train.

Anticipation

Y'ever get the feeling you're waiting for something... something big... something that's going to change everything... But you have no idea what is is?

Well...

I've been feeling that way for a while now... and getting stronger by the day.

Dunno what, dunno when, dunno where... but something...

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Just ordered this book

...and if you're a long range shooter, or you just want to know more about the science of shooting, you need it as well:



Brian Litz is the chief ballistician for Berger Bullets; the number one bullet manufacturer for shooters looking for long range bullets. He knows that which of he speaks.

well and then there's all this too:

"About the Author

Bryan Litz earned his Aerospace Engineering degree from the Pennsylvania State University in 2002. For the next 6 years, he worked for the US Air Force on air-to-air missile design, modeling and simulation. In 2008, Bryan became the Chief Ballistician for Berger bullets.

Bryan is also a very active and successful shooter. Some significant accomplishments include: US National Palma Champion (2008), firing member of the winning 2008 US Team in the Spirit of America International Rifle Match, and National Record Holder for the NRA iron sight midrange course (450-39X)."


You can order the book from him here: http://www.appliedballisticsllc.com/index_files/Book.htm

Even if you have no interest in the theory, Brian has done something invaluable for the shooting world. He has done real world testing on hundreds of different bullets under different conditions and velocities; and analyzed, tabulated, and published the results in this book.

If you want to know what your bullets are REALLY doing (vs. what their manufacturers claim they might be doing) you need this book.

"Special" Expectations

I love custom guns. I'm a big guy, with long arms, and big hands; most regular guns don't fit me too well. Plus like any other guy,m and any other engineer, I like neat toys.

As a result, I got into customization of guns, and from there into full custom buildups.

Now, as it happens, I participate in a few gun forums; and writing online, I get a lot of gun questions. Since people know I'm into custom guns, one of the more common questions I get is something like:

"I've got this spectacular, beautiful, unique, one of a kind thumpenblitzenboomer that cost me about $5,000. I never got to go on that safari and it's only been fired for sighting in. I need to sell it, what do you think it's worth".


When I tell them "About as much as a used Remchester thumpenblitzenboomer; or maybe if you're lucky and the rifle is really good, a little bit more than a new Remchester", they're flabbergasted.

I keep telling people their high end custom gun is worth exactly what any other used gun of its general type and configuration will get, in its stated condition.

MAYBE, if it's brand new in the box, never been fired except for sighters, in the ideal configuration for that kind of rifle with the BEST parts you can buy, and you find the right buyer; you MIGHT get as much as a new factory gun of equivalent configuration, or maybe a couple hundred more.

For some reason this offends them. Not only do they not believe me, but they get very angry at the thought.

Then they set their price on the thing to what they paid for it... Sometimes more than what they paid for it, because they think somehow it being so great and wonderful, everyone will see its enormous value.

Six months later and three times around on gunbroker; if they sell it at all, it sells for a little bit more than the Remchester.

Considering I've bought and sold, and currently own, more custom pieces than most of these folks would ever think of; that I worked behind a gun counter, that I've done gunsmithing... you think maybe they'd take a little advice...

They're not actually looking for advice of course. What they're looking for is validation that they made a good gun, or that they didn't blow their money; that they "made a good investment".

They're looking for their pride to be validated.

Sorry Charlie, it doesn't work that way. Fine firearms can be an excellent investment, but never for their first owner. He's the one who takes the 50% or more depreciation hit that makes it such a great investment for the second owner.

Even then, it's usually upland game guns in 16ga, or double rifles in safari calibers that end up appreciating in value (because of the buyers in that market), not tactical 1911s, or beanfield rifles.

They just don't see it. They can't. They've got their pride tied up in the gun you see.

Nope. They're all damn sure not only is it worth what they put into it, but actually MORE; because it's "Special" "unique", "one of a kind" etc...

Yeah...

You know what "One of a kind" actually means?

It means that the market for that gun has exactly one person in it, YOU; and you're lucky if you get 1/2 of what you paid selling it to anyone else.

I'm certainly not immune; the difference being, I don't have any expectation of getting anywhere near what I paid for my guns, if I ever sell them (the point being that you don't SELL custom guns, you sell the ones that you DIDN'T have specially made just for you, thus making them worthless to everyone else).

I have an absolutely gorgeous custom 10mm 1911. I LOVE this gun. It was a gift from friends who pooled together to buy it for me. It COST, about $3500 (well, it would have cost that if my friends hadn't wangled a special deal. It actually cost them a fair bit less, but still a pertty damn good bit of money).

It's WORTH, on the market today, if I'm lucky (not that I'd ever sell it) MAYBE $1500. Probably closer to $1200. Basically what you'd get from a very good used Les Baer or Wilson, or a new top line factory gun.

Yost custom Champion: Cost, $2,500, worth... probably $1,200 in 100% condition, and it isnt (it's a daily carry gun. There are dings and scratches etc...). Same as a top end factory gun.

Yost custom defender: Cost $2,200, worth... probably $900... Actually a little bit LESS than a top end factory gun, because custom gun buyers generally don't like officers models (they prefer 5" guns), so you're selling it to someone who's pricing you against a used Kimber.

Full custom AR, 24" custom ultraheavy barrel, LMT forgings, matched and lapped bolt and carrier, Chip McCormick trigger, tubb carrier weight. All Tubb and JP hard parts, ace stock, magpul grip, special hydraulic buffer with a tungsten weight setup ($200 just for the buffer) etc... The gun shoots 1/2 moa at 600 yards.

Cost, about $2500... worth... probably about $1200 if I hunt around for the right buyer, or $1,000 if I want to sell it quickly.

I'm in the middle of a custom 1000 yard rifle buildup. I'm using only the best parts for the job, hand fitted by the best people for the job.

My receiver and bolt alone are $900. The barrel blank (unfinished, unchambered) is $400. The trigger as $300. the bottom metal is $300. The stock is $700. Finishing it will probably run $400. I'll be putting in probably 40 hours of my own labor, plus probably another $500 in various craftsmans work (chambering, crowning, final bedding on the stock etc...).

It's taken me more than two years of saving for this. I haven't had a christmas or birthday present that wasn't related to this gun in that time. My friends and family have given me cash towards the gun instead of presents.

Before we even get into optics, we're talking about $3500 plus invested in the rifle, not including my own time. I have no idea yet what the optics are going to cost me; at least $1500, and maybe as much as $3,000.

When I'm done, I hope to have a rifle that can hit at 1000 yards, at under 1 moa. I think I'll be able to do it (presuming I can keep up my end on the trigger).

Obviously, rifles like this aren't available from the factory. The closest thing would be the Remington custom shops high end tactical rifles, at around $4,000. If I were buying it as a straight up package build from a custom smith I could expect anywhere from $4,000 to $6,000.

So, it's a $4000 gun right? And if I sell it it's $4000?

Sorry, no, not even close.

Even if I never fire it, and sell it new in the box (not a chance in hell by the way. I'm going to die owning this rifle), I'm going to get under $2000 for it. Maybe under $1500.

Why?

Because the people who want to buy a custom $4000 rifle, and have the money to buy a custom $4000 rifle, are going to be doing EXACTLY WHAT I DID. What they are NOT going to be doing, is buying it used from the guy who built it for himself.

So you aren't selling it to that market; you're selling to people who are comparing your gun against a factory Remington 700spr, or Weatherby sub-moa. Yes, you'll get a SMALL premium for the premium bits and bobs, but no more than a few hundred dollars.

You buy custom firearms because they are exactly what you want or need, for the job you want to do with them. You buy them for the pleasure of owning a fine piece of craftsmanship. You buy them for the pleasure of getting what you want with no compromises.

You DON'T buy them, thinking you're going to come out ahead, even, or even way down. You don't buy them thinking you're going to sell them at all. That's not the point, and if you do you're deluding yourself, because you'll be lucky to get 1/2 of what you put into it.

At least in money anyway. To me, the additional enjoyment is more than worth it.

Inspired by Tam

This is NOT my puppy Zoe


...but if I didn't know she had never been photographed for an album cover (Weezers new album Radittude) I would swear to you she was.

Seriously, even the chest, eye, and muzzle markings are identical. Hell, the expression on her face, and ridiculous over the top energy.

The only difference I can see is that this little pup has a neutering scar, and we haven't neutered Zoe yet (waiting until 9 months).

The dog is "Sidney", and is owned by the photographer, Jason Neely. The picture was originally published in the August 2009 national geographic magazine, and Neely is from Connecticut so there's no chance it's one of Zoes littermates. It's just one of those odd coincidences of life.

Tomorrow I'll try to get a similar pic (not flying through the air obviously) of Zoe to show how uncanny the resemblance is. In the meantime I'm pretty sure Myrr, JohnOC, or Kommander will be as amazed by this resemblance as much as I am.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Wishing to Come Round Right



Simple Gifts
(a Shaker work song)

Elder Joseph Brackett - 1848

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,

And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gain'd,
To bow and to bend we shan't be asham'd,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come round right.

Long damn day

So, my work day started at 6:30 this morning (I theoretically start at 8) with a call from the east coast. Then it was continuous calls up to a two and a half hour lunch meeting (which was at least good and useful... plus I got a free steak out of it).

While I was at lunch Mel texted me saying that the toothache she had gone in to see the dentist about was in fact two impacted and crumbling teeth with an abscessed gum underneath (which can be dangerous. Blood poisoning and systemic infection can result from an abscess like that)

She had to have emergency oral surgery. Two teeth extracted, and gum surgery. Thankfully, she has been peacefully in the arms of vicodin ever since.

She's ok, but for the pain. She's going to have to go back for several followups of the next couple weeks; and they're probably going to go for a couple dental implants.

With her and the kids both tucked safely into bed I went to my last meeting of the day, a three and hour dinner meeting, ending up at 9:30 (again, at least it was a productive and useful meeting... and I got another free steak).

Finally to come home, and have to deal with another crisis in my email. S'what I get for not taking the blackberry to dinner with me.

As I write this it's almost midnight, and I'm just now done for the day; with Mel in her vicodin induced semi-coma next to me, and the dogs piled on top of us (we couldn't keep them off the bed if we tried. They just pile on when we fall asleep anyway).

Oh, and I've still got the damned sinus infection as a leftover from the flu a few weeks ago... it's just hanging on, quietly making my head hurt as I grind away at the job.

Yaknow, I can't complain too much though. First of all, I have a great job, that's secure, with great benefits and that pays pretty well. A lot of folks can't say that.

Other people say "they don't pay me enough for this shit". I don't. I say they pay me EXACTLY enough for this shit. I wouldn't put up with it if they paid me any less, but I'm willing to put up with it without asking for more... presuming the workload doesn't get any worse, or more irritating anyway.

Gnight Gracie

Monday, November 02, 2009

Finland - Be afraid... Be VERY Afraid

So, in comments to this thread about some castrated Swede making an ass of himself at Stingray and LabRats place, a Finn posted this most excellent comic, (drawn by a Dane), which I think describes Suomi, and its relationship with the rest of northern Europe, quite well (click to embiggen):


Well, the first thing out to be that most Finns wouldn't WANT to be invited to a Scandinavian party, because they don't consider themselves Scandinavian.

Actually the very first thing is that it's not Finland, it's Suomi. Finland is the Swedish word for the place. As it happens, Sweden conquered about 1/3 of Europe in the 30 years war, so they got to name or rename a bunch of things, including Suomi.

That's OK, the rest of the world can call it Finland, they'll call it Suomi and everybody else can fuck off. Unless they're talking to foreigners of course, most of whom would have no idea what they were talking about if they called their own country by its proper name, so they'll use Finland for them.

Remarkably, most aren't particularly bitter about this fact. There are just so many other, better things to be bitter about.

So the actually the SECOND thing, is that most Finns (and Karelians, and Sami, and Lapps, and Kolans. Finns are only one ethnocultural group inside Suomi, in particular those who originated in the southern fens) don't consider themselves Scandanavian. Instead, they self identify as either their core ethnocultural group, or as Finns (in the geocultural sense, not the ethnic sense), or if they're more classically educated, as Fennoscandians.

To many Finns (yes, I'm going to use that name because it's just simpler that way), calling them Scandinavian is an insult... Frankly, because they consider Scandinavians ineffectual communist poofs who actually HELPED the NAZIs and the Russians in WW2 (that bit is kind of important).

You see, what got the Finn to post the cartoon was my comment “Let’s not even TALK about the Finns, and their “issues” with Russia, Germany…”.

Think of the thing you hate most in the world. Now multiply that by about 1000. Now imagine that thing invades your country, and rapes and murders your mother, sister, and baby brother.

Got that firmly fixed in your mind?

Ok, that's about how the Finns feel about Russia, and the Russians. They are only slightly less hostile towards the Germans.

Yes, still, today, 60 some years later. The Finns are as good as the Irish at holding grudges... maybe better; given that Finland has only been a country since the 15th century (and most og that time spent ruled by Russia or Sweden), and there are still grudges being written about in poetry that date 1000 years before that (more on Finnish poetry later).

I have given many people advice about traveling in Scandanavia over the years (most people not Scandinavian include Finland in Scandinavia); having been myself several times.

The first bit of advice I always give is “Never drink with a Finn, unless you feel like getting in a friendly knife fight. No seriously, there will be a knife fight, or at the very least a rock or iceball fight, but it will be friendly. You’ll only be cut up a little bit and then everyone will go back and drink some more… Unless you’re a Russian in which case you’ll end up wearing your testicles as earrings”.

Oh and I don't care who you are, or what you think your tolerance is; unless you are a hardcore alcoholic, that 5 foot 6 inch tall Finn is going to drink you under the table.

The funny thing is, everyone always thinks I’m joking.

Then I remind them that the Finns greatest national hero is Simo Häyhä and explain the story

For those who don't know, Hayha is the sniper with the most confirmed kills in all of history. He has 542 kills, most at night; about half with an iron sighted Mosin Nagant rifle, and half with a submachine gun at close range; all over the course of less than 100 days. He also got shot in the head, blowing about half his skull off; and he not only survived, he went back to hunting wolves for sport... his favorite hobby.

If that doesn’t convince them, I explain that every adult male in Finland still has access to a machine gun, in case the Russians come back (up until relatively recently stored at home). Yes, seriously, it's in case the Russians come back. That's also why they all learn to cross country ski. It's not for fun or fitness, it's so they can kill Russians better (more on that later).

I also mention that Finns own nearly as many guns per capita as Americans do, but drink 8 times as much hard alcohol per capita (we Americans are in general much bigger beer and wine drinkers, but Finns still drink about twice what we do per capita including all forms of alcohol).

That last bit MIGHT have a little bit to do with the fact that they have twice the suicide rate, and more than twice the murder rate (the highest in western Europe).

…and that everyone with any balls still carries a puukko (fuck the ‘77 law banning knife carry).

And that they swear as much as the Irish do (or rather, as a percentage of the total words they speak, they swear as frequently.... The Finns are a notably laconic people, while the Irish... aren't), but more creatively.

The Irish may not have invented the word fuck, but they are surely it's most prolific users; whereas the Finns are far more likely to damn you to hell for fucking a reindeer... or something similarly animalistic, theological, and scatological.

From all that, you’d think I disliked the Finns.

Not in the slightest. If you knew me well, you’d know those are all compliments.

I love the Finns. I love the attitude, the drinking, the no-nonsense acceptance that pretty much everything in life is going to fuck you over, so you might as well just deal with it and get on with your life.

Oh and the clear eyed knowledge that at every moment nature is trying her damndest to kill you; so you’d better kill her first.

Plus, they're are WAY less socialist than the rest of northern Europe (not that that is saying much anymore); and given their utter hatred of Russia and all things associated with it, are unlikely to go full commie, unlike Sweden (which is in a death race between communism and Sharia).

Seriously, Finns are about the least pussified people in Europe.

If you're going to understand the Finns, you need to get something they call "sisu"...

We'd call it, intestinal fortitude. Balls, strength of will, courage, keeping up your end, going on because you have to... the ability to withstand and persevere, and succeed no matter what gets thrown at you... It's hard to encapsulate in words, but that's sisu.

Sisu is the core of the Finnish character.

That, and pissing people off who don't have it, and don't get it.

Remember I mentioned Finnish poetry? Well, it primarily consists of drinking, fighting, fucking, hunting dangerous animals with knives, more drinking and fighting, and making fun of other people for being less manly, and not drinking and stabbing as well as the writer etc...

One of the more popular winter passtimes in Finnland (other than drinking... which given the 19 hour nights in winter can be epic), is to get into the hottest sauna you can possibly stand for as long as you can stand it, then running out naked through the snow and ice to jump into a semi frozen river, lake, or ocean; or failing that a convenient snow bank; then repeating that four or five times.

Then there's this thing called the "Eurovision song contest" every year. Most countries submit light pop tunes, sung by boy bands, pretty gay men, or pop princesses.

In fact, here's an article about how gay the whole thing really is.

Typical entries would be something like this (an entry from Sweden a couple years ago):



Many of the top scoring songs are drag performances, and in 1998 a transsexual actually won the thing (admittedly, a very good looking one).

Finland submitted this:



and they WON.

Oh and Simo Hayha? Yeah, dude is AWESOME, in the literal sense.

And there’s always what y’all did to the Russians in the winter war:



Nice piece of work that.

Did I mention that the Finns didn't like how unreliable and inaccurate the AK was, so they re-engineered it, and produced the finest AK variant available, the Valmet.

Yes, the machine guns the Finns plan to use to kill the Russians the next time they try to invade, are the Russians own guns, made better.

Any country whose unofficial motto is “Hakka Palle” (generally translated into English as “Hack them down”) is ok with me.

Seriously, don't fuck with the Finns. They're like drunken arctic badgers.

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