Friday, June 30, 2006- - -
Of course the programming is always best during Sweeps Week. Incidentally, my grandmother wore skirts almost that short back in the 1920's. Put rouge on her knees and scandalized the neighborhood! I've got to dig up those old pix..
I would too!
Another cute one from my dad:
Sister Mary, who worked for a home health agency, was out making her rounds visiting homebound patients when she ran out of gas. As luck would have it, a gas station was just a block away. She walked to the station to borrow a gas can and buy some gas.
The attendant told her the only can he owned had been loaned out but she could wait until it was returned. Since the nun was on the way to see a patient, she decided not to wait and walked back to her car. She looked for something in her car that she could fill with gas and spotted the bedpan she was taking to the patient. Always resourceful, she carried the bedpan to the station, filled it with gas, and carried the full bedpan back to her car.
As she was pouring the gas into her tank two men watched from across the street.
One of them turned to the other and said, "If it starts, I'm turning Catholic."
Osama bin.. Rappin'?
Another good reason to hunt this guy down.
CAIRO, Egypt (AP) -- Osama bin Laden called on President Bush in an audiotape released Friday to release the body of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and said Jordan should allow the slain terrorist to be buried in his homeland.Of course, in an audiotape we can't see if he was wearing bling.
In the 19-minute message, bin Laden paid tribute to al-Zarqawi and said the former al-Qaida in Iraq leader had been under orders to kill Iraqis who supported U.S. forces in the country. He also vowed more attacks against the United States in the Middle East and Africa.
In the tape, bin Laden effusively praised the Jordanian-born al-Zarqawi, often in rhyming couplets.
"We will continue to fight you and your allies everywhere, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and Sudan to run down your resources and kill your men until you return defeated to your nation," he said, addressing Bush.Keep fighting until we leave the Middle East? What about the new Caliphate, Osama, ol' buddy? It's encouraging to note that this sounds remarkably like he's getting ready to play the victim card, which isn't exactly in the forefront of the jihadi playbook.
A little bit of push-back
Washington - Gun-control groups erupted in anger at Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, R-Colo., Thursday after she sponsored an amendment that deleted funding for the federal trigger-lock law. One can only wish that Ms. Brady was right. If Congress really would do anything the "gun lobby" told them to they'd honor the spirit and the letter of the 2nd Amendment, and gun control really would mean "hitting your target".
"Lawn mowers can be dangerous," Musgrave argued. "Should we mandate that all lawn mowers be sold with a blade lock?"
Musgrave's amendment, prohibiting the expenditure of federal funds to enforce the law, passed 230-191. All of Colorado's representatives except Democrats Diana DeGette and Mark Udall voted for the amendment.
"Last year, in one of the few sound moves taken by Congress, a law was passed that said gun dealers should provide locks," said Sarah Brady of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. "Last night, in a tragic display of how many members of Congress will do anything the gun lobby tells them to do, a majority of the U.S. House voted to repeal the law.
"As someone who knows so many victims of unintentional shootings, and as a mother, this makes me ill," she said.
I think this was the right thing to do and I'm glad it passed by a healthy margin. Forcing private citizens to purchase a gun lock with every gun is nannyism at its worst, and don't think for a minute that the gun manufacturers and dealers threw in the locks for free. Even worse were the abominable built-in locks that some manufacturers were beginning to install. Just what I want, a mechanism built into the gun that might malfunction and cause it not to work when I need it -- but then, that's what they invented Loctite for, put a drop in the lock mechanism, make sure it's unlocked, and let it dry. Works on those damn crossbolt safeties they've been putting on lever actions too.
On the other hand, I think trigger locks, gun safes, and such are a very good idea if children or irresponsible adults are likely to be present. I also sleep better knowing that, with a few strategically placed exceptions, the guns are all secure in a big ol' safe. However, it was my choice to buy the safe, noit a dictate from Gun Grabbers, Inc.
Complacency at the Department of Veterans Affairs?
I'm shocked! Shocked!!
Washington - Federal officials reported Thursday that they have recovered a laptop and external hard drive - stolen May 3 from the Maryland home of a Department of Veterans Affairs employee - that contained the Social Security numbers of more than 26 million veterans and their spouses.I just received a letter from the VA informing me that I was one of the unfortunate 26 million on the database. If they'd only waited a few more days they could have saved themselves a stamp.
"The worst-case scenario may have been averted this time, but an even greater tragedy would be if this type (of) incident was allowed to happen again because of complacency in the workplace," said Joe Davis, a spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
silly mean season
CHEYENNE -- The Wyoming Republican Party's modified request for records of the administration of Democratic Gov. Dave Freudenthal hones in on the first lady's travel and activities.It's irrelevant to the article, but we all have out pet peaves and this is one of mine! One more time, to "hone" means to "sharpen". Thus, you hone a knife, or figuratively hone an argument. But you "home in" on something like a homing pigeon or a homing missile. In this case they're homing in on the first lady's travel:
Furthermore, [state GOP Chairman Drake] Hill is seeking log books and mileage information to show whether an employee of the Wyoming Highway Patrol or any state agency has driven Nancy Freudenthal to an event, as first lady or as a private attorney on behalf of clients.Sounds like a fishing expedition to me. I've got no problem with the state troopers providing security for the first lady, and she's still the first lady even when she's lawyering, right? I find it interesting though that a vehicle with license plate "S 1" blew by me going south out of Cheyenne a few weeks ago, with the gov at the wheel. He did have a passenger, but it didn't look like a state trooper. Still, I wouldn't blame Governor Freudenthal for wanting more security for his wife than he feels necessary for himself.
"Included within this request, please provide information relating to Ms. Freudenthal attending a meeting of the Platte County Commissioners as a private attorney appearing in a matter before the Platte County Commissioners with the use of a State Trooper vehicle along with a State Trooper as well as her use of a State Trooper vehicle and a State Trooper this past weekend in Wheatland for campaign activities," the letter reads.
[Pete Maxfield, the governor's attorney] said late Wednesday afternoon that he didn't know about the first lady's meeting with the Platte County Commission.
"I'm confident that anything that was done was done properly, but beyond that I don't know," Maxfield said.
He said the Wyoming Highway Patrol will have those records.
He said if Hill's claim is true, it's possible that, as a policy matter, the first lady is required to travel with security.
I suppose that from the state GOP's point of view the age of chivalry is dead. I doubt they'll get far with that argument though.
Thursday, June 29, 2006- - -
There's got to be a moral to this story
I suppose it's 'if you're going to be a jihadi, don't blog about it'.
Things that make you go What the F#$%??
Here's a twisted tale I wish the InstaPundit had elaborated on at a bit more length (although I suppose "Jeez" pretty much says it all):
In response to crime in their neighborhood, Michael and Janet Gannon bought a video and audio recording security system at WalMart and installed it at their home a couple years ago to monitor the front door and parking areas.
Last Tuesday, Michael Gannon brought a videocassette from the surveillance system to the Nashua, New Hampshire, police department, and asked to speak with someone in public relations, wanting to lodge a complaint against Detective Andrew Karlis, who had come to the family’s house while investigating their sons. According to Janet Gannon, "... Karlis showed up late at night, was rude, and refused to leave when they asked him."
Police instead arrested Gannon, charging him with two felony counts of violating state eavesdropping and wiretap law by using an electronic device to record Karlis without the detective’s consent.I'm assuming this means that every bank and retail business in New Hampshire that uses security cameras requires a consent form from every person that enters their premises in order to keep them on the right side of the state's eavesdropping and wiretap law? Why do I doubt that? What's most interesting about this case -- besides the fact that I doubt it's going to get very far through the court system -- is that the evidence of Gannon's crime is also the evidence he wanted to present to the police when he filed his complaint. That's an interesting twist.
The boy wasn’t home when Karlis went there, and the Gannons were “uncooperative” regarding his whereabouts, police reported.
Police reported that Gannon “has a history of being verbally abusive” toward police, and that after his arrest, he remarked that the officers “were a bunch of corrupt (expletives).”
Update: Check out the coverage and comments at Slashdot. It sounds like the video recording was okay but the audio recording might arguably be illegal. This hinges on whether the police had reason to believe that their conversation was private, which is dubious if signs were present alerting them to the presence of the cameras.
Got to love this, from the Slashdot comments: "By the way, isn't New Hampshire supposed to be the state all the Libertarians are moving to, and wasn't it chosen because it was the most Free to begin with? Jeez, if this kind of thing can happen there the rest of us are really screwed!"
Haw! And a little way farther comes this reply: "That's why the police are taking a hard line. God Damn hippies are movin' in."
I've been puzzling over this whole business of the NYTimes latest publication of national security secrets. Surely by now the Bush administration should be well aware of the paper's animosity toward him and the war on terror. Could Bush really be so stupid as to not know that asking the Times not to publish something is the surest way to see the topic make the front page? I've got to suspect that if the Prez were to call Bill Keller and beg him not to stick his head in an oven, Keller would be dead by nightfall just to spite the Bush administration.
So why even bother to ask the Times not to publish, unless the Prez is playing Br'er Rabbit: "Oh please, oh please Mr. Keller sir, don't throw our national security secrets into that nasty briar patch of a newspaper!" It would be useless to ask the NYTimes to publish disinformation to help the war effort and nothing would put them on a high horse faster. But leak disinformation to them and then beg them not to publish it? They'd go for it like hatchery trout hitting a big rubber bug.
It's all well and good to track terrorist finances through the international banking system, but I've got to wonder just how effective it really is. After all, they've been trying to track drug financing through the banking system and that's worked just wonderfully. I'm no expert on international banking and finance, but it occurs to me that electronic funds transfers can be nearly instantaneous. Even if the tracking is in real time a chunk of money could be moved half-way around the world and then withdrawn long before we could have people in place to see who withdraws it. So sure, it's useful to monitor the system, but I can't help but think that it would be even more useful to close the system to terrorists, or at least make them think it's closed to them. Make them put the cash in a bag and send it around the world by courier.
There can't be that many people the terrorists trust enough to hand them a big bag of money and an airline ticket, those people can be watched for. A terrorist traveling with a big bag 'o cash would be easy to spot if we were looking, and easier to follow in real time than a few pixels of financial data. There's always the possibility that the courier will get greedy and abscond with the funds. Or someone else along the line could get greedy, whack the courier and make off with the cash. Bottom line: If making life difficult for terrorist financiers is the goal, then convincing them that they can't just wire the money to Abu in Afghanistan is probably a move in the right direction. Granted, this gives a good deal more credit to the Bush administration and the intel community than they seem to have earned of late, but it seems to me that they could shut down the leakers if they really wanted to.
Wednesday, June 28, 2006- - -
Mike Compton cover story
The current cover story for Mandolin Magazine is an article on the famously bib-overalled Mike Compton. I knew most of this already from reading his on-line journal, still it's an interesting read. I'm particularly excited to hear that he's thinking about producing a CD of his original work, since his originals are my favorite tunes on his Stomp CD.
Update: I explored the Mandolin Magazine website a bit farther and found their list of articles. It appears that they haven't published anything since the winter of 2003 and the Compton article was in that last issue.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006- - -
Monday morning humor
From my favorite BLM archaeologist:
Five Surgeons are discussing the types of people they like to operate on.Dangerously close to the truth.
The first surgeon says: "I like to see accountants on my operating table, because when you open them up, everything inside is numbered."
The second responds: "Yeah, but you should try electricians! Everything inside them is color coded."
The third surgeon says: "No, I really think librarians are the best; everything inside them is in alphabetical order."
The fourth surgeon chimes in "You know, I like construction workers..those guys always understand when you have a few parts left over."
But the fifth surgeon shut them all up when he observed: "You're all wrong. Politicians are the easiest to operate on. There's no guts, no heart, no balls, no brains and no spine, and the head and the ass are interchangeable."
Just another shitty day in Paradise
Last night out at the Wringneck we had one of those rare evenings that are just.. luminous. The sky was bluer, the grass was greener, the air was sweeter (okay that was the cows you'd see if I were to look back over my shoulder), and the breeze was softer. Stupendously beautiful.
I can't believe it's nearly the end of June, the alfalfa is almost due for its second cutting, and the tipi poles are still leaning in a tree. We've been such drudges.
Monday, June 26, 2006- - -
Certainly not me!
Regarding the written explanation offered by Bill Keller, New York Times' editor, for his decision to reveal classified tactics in the WOT, Captain Ed opines: "Who would have thought we'd get nostalgic for Howell Raines?"
Saturday, June 24, 2006- - -
Lookin' good, but..
I've been working on the cittern. Here's the rim, stained and sealed. The next step would be to scrape the stain from the bindings and purflings, but I followed the directions on the finish and cut the seal coat 50/50 with water. That purty fiddleback grain is on a veneer that's 0.023" thick that I put on with water soluable hide glue .. oops, I should have known I was headed for a wreck. The seal coat soaked through the veneer and raised a couple of small blisters in the veneer on one side.
This is one of those times when I've learned that I really need to get my zen together, so I put the rim aside for a couple of weeks while I thought about how to recover from this wee screw-up. I've decided that I'll mask off the blistered area, dampen the raised veneer, and then gently warm it with the heat gun and try to press the raised area back down. If I can get it to about 160 degrees (F) the hide glue should re-bond.
Of course, I may totally screw up the veneer and/or discolor the stain and/or finish in the process of trying to save myself from the wreck. So.. I've ordered another veneer, another pair of bindings, and a fancy zippered back purfling to replace the ebony strips you can see in the photo (the veneers are about 1" shy of being long enough to go all the way around, but it's plenty wide to cut another bit to fill in). If my recovery efforts fail I'll use the heat gun to pull the veneer and bindings off, reattach another veneer with something a bit more waterproof (!) -- the new veneer has an even nicer figure! -- recut the binding channels to compensate for the loss of stock in sanding down the rim for the new veneer, and slap on another pair of bindings.
I think I have every contingency covered, except getting frustrated and flinging the whole works in the trash bin.. that's where the zen comes in. I'm gaining great respect for the master luthiers who make totally flawless, beautifully detailed instruments. Not only does it take great ability, it takes the patience of a monk.
Update: A bit more explanation might be in order. In this photo the lower half of the inside is masked off. This area will be between the resophonic cone and the cover plate (the back of the body is up in this shot). I want to leave this area clean, bare wood so the body can 'breathe' and not become mummified under layers of finish. It will also give me a nice white stripe inside the instrument where I can sign and date it when I'm finished.
If you look closely you can see a pair of thin, white/black/white purflings between the inner and outer bindings on the back of the instrument (the bindings and purflings are all a bit discolored from the stain, but this will scrape off, leaving bold, cream-colored highlights). These two purflings hide the glue lines where the three layers of maple were bonded to form the rim. This wasn't necessary, it's purely decorative.
Finally, looking closely you can see a narrow "zippered" purfling just below the inside binding. Another decorative touch that really looks nice. It also conceals the fact that I messed up and cut the inside binding channel a couple hundreths too deep in a moment of inattention. I suppose I could have filled it in with wood putty..
Update Dux: It has occurred to me that if I manage to rebond the veneer I'm going to have an extra veneer and a couple* of bindings left over. What to do, what to do.. How about a banjo cittern? There's another instrument you can't just order up. They make banjo mandolins and banjo guitars, but I've never seen a banjo cittern for sale -- an instrument with a banjo pot and hide head, and five courses of strings. Mike Compton plays a banjo octave mandolin on one cut of his Stomp CD and it sounds cool'r 'n hell. A banjo cittern would sound the same, except it would have a bit more reach on the bass end. I've got to have one.
As an aside, I've admitted that I'm a bit of an internet perv, but I don't care what you're wearing, I want to know what's playing on the soundtrack of your mind. Mine is stuck on Mike Compton's Big Indian Blues. When I manage to get that out of my head Compton's Black's Run creeps in. Compton and David Long play mostly tradional tunes and compositions by Bill Monroe on Stomp, but they also have several original compositions. Of the bunch I like their originals best, and particularly Big Indian and Black's Run.
I finally decided that if I was going to be running Big Indian through my head all day I might as well download the sheet music and learn the tune. It's terribly fun to play, but a bit over my head at present. I'm a gettin' there though.
* While a new veneer cost only $9 and bindings are about $5 each, I've found quite to my chagrin that celluloid bindings are now considered a hazmat substance and there's an extra $20 fee for shipping them. The dang fee would have been more than the cost of the veneer and bindings! I've decided that I like the look of ivoroid celluloid bindings. To make it worthwhile I ordered up a bunch of them, enough for at least two more instruments. My fate is sealed.
"Stroke of the pen. Law of the land."
In this case it is pretty cool:
Executive Order: Protecting the Property Rights of the American PeopleH/T: InstaPundit
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and to strengthen the rights of the American people against the taking of their private property, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Policy. It is the policy of the United States to protect the rights of Americans to their private property, including by limiting the taking of private property by the Federal Government to situations in which the taking is for public use, with just compensation, and for the purpose of benefiting the general public and not merely for the purpose of advancing the economic interest of private parties to be given ownership or use of the property taken.
Friday, June 23, 2006- - -
More good news from Iraq
While the headlines tell us that 'the Senate is rejecting troop withdrawl efforts' and 'the Iraqi government has declared a state of emergency' -- The war is going badly! There's no end in sight!, if we dig a little deeper we find this excellent news:
BALAD, Iraq -- The U.S. military has begun sending thousands of battered Humvees and other war-torn equipment home as more Iraqi units join the fight against insurgents and American units scheduled for Iraq duty have their orders canceled.Well yeah! If they're sending equipment home and cancelling deployment orders I'd say there's a pretty good chance that the number of troops in Iraq will decline. If true, that's just excellent news. Particularly because it's obviously not being forced by our back seat-drivin' politicians' demands for withdrawl deadlines, but rather appears to be driven by the military's assessment of the situation. This seems like headline news to me, not something that should be buried on page A10. But then I'm not one of those highly trained professionals who decide what we need to know.
In the last four months, the Army has tagged 7,000 Humvees and 17,000 other pieces of equipment to be shipped to the United States to be rebuilt. They then will be distributed among active and reserve units at home, or possibly returned to equip Iraqi security forces.
The military said the shipments will result in a reduction in the amount of U.S. equipment in Iraq, a cut made possible because the area patrolled by American troops is shrinking. The move also anticipates that the number of American troops in Iraq will decline.
Thursday, June 22, 2006- - -
Things that make you go Hmmm...
It seems that the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. has donated a Polaris Ranger utility vehicle to the Hot Springs County, Wyoming, search and rescue unit. This rather upset the Hot Springs County commissioners, who didn't think it appropriate that their search and rescue unit accept a donation from an evil tobacco company. So, after some negotiation they've arrived at a solution that is amenable to all parties: The utility vehicle will be donated to the Thermopolis Volunteer Fire Department to fight wildfires around Hot Springs County. No, I'm not making this up.
Some possibly encouraging news from Iraq
It seems that some 500 artillery shells filled with Sarin and mustard gases have turned up in Iraq since 2003, but their existence has been classified and kept largely secret until now. Why would this remain classified when releasing the information would have been politically useful to Bush et al. during the 2004 elections, and would have saved us all from a lot of flack from the bug-eyed yap dogs? My money is on Ed Morrissey's speculation that we didn't want to tip al Qaeda to the existence of this stuff. Makes sense, if al Zarq and his merry men believed there were no WMDs they wouldn't knock themselves out looking for them.
The bad news: They keep tripping over these things, so they suspect there's still more out there, although what they've found so far appears to be deteriorated with age and might not be usable.
The good news: If they kept this classified so the terrorists wouldn't go on an easter egg hunt, releasing the info now suggests that our intelligence assesses the terrorist threat in Iraq to be largely over. I haven't read any speculation on that, but that's the ultimate implication I draw from the fact that they're releasing the info now.
FoxNews had the report last night, but as of 7:15am MST the Denver Post, NYTimes, and Washington Post are all strangely silent. Since this all came out as a result of a news conference by Senators Santorum (R-PA) and Hoekstra (R-NY) releasing some unclassified bits of an intel report, it's not as if the MSM need to wait for corroboration of some leaked information -- the news conference is news, even if the information turns out to be incorrect (which seems unlikely). So.. it will be interesting to see how long it takes these folks to get around to mentioning this, and what spin, if any, they'll put on it when they do.
Update: If the NYTimes spins this one any harder they'll get dizzy and fall down. In an article entitled "For Diehards, Search for Iraq's W.M.D. Isn't Over" they do a bit of damage control:
The proponents include some members of Congress. Two Republicans, Representative Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania held a news conference on Wednesday to announce that, as Mr. Santorum put it, "We have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.""... as Mr. Santorum put it .."? "Diehards," "believers, some of whom have impressive credentials ," "amateur speculation and intrigue," and even "a kook"? I don't believe those are the terms I'd use if I were trying to do an impartial report on a controversial subject. I suppose it was too much to expect that they'd just report on the news conference straight up, but I've got to hand it to the NYTimes, this is a masterful piece of work. No one reading the article could get any impression other than that this new revelation is old news being dredged up by partisans desperate to prop up a sagging administration. Note that this isn't an editorial, it's "news." Could we be seeing a shark-jumping moment at the Times?
But hey, we can't accuse the NYTimes of not covering the story, can we? As of 5:45 am Friday, June 23rd, we have an eerie silence at the WaPo and DenverPost. Nothing from the LA Times, nothing from the AP wires.. In fact, a google search of the news produces only 16 hits, mostly from the margins of the industry. You'd almost think that Santorum and Hoekstra forgot to invite anyone to their news conference. Or all the reporters who attended are stymied by the fact that Merriam-Webster's on-line thesaurus doesn't have any entries for the term "batshit crazy."
Another update: Now that's bizarre. The second and final page of the Google Search for Santorum Hoekstra WMD lists "results 11-16 of 16". But the first page lists "results 1-10 of about 380". Ah! Here's the rest of the hit list. Another article by the NYTimes that dismisses the issue with a yawn and doesn't even mention Santorum or Hoekstra, entitled "Officials Discuss Report on Munitions". Nothing to see here, move along!
Here's the WaPo's take, in an article entitled "Democrats Criticize Claim on Iraqi Arms". The lede:
The assertion by two Republican lawmakers that a new intelligence study proves that chemical weapons were found in Iraq has triggered sharp criticism from Democrats that the GOP is distorting intelligence for political purposes.Lies and distortions! And if you actually believe it, well they have another article entitled "New Intel Report Reignites Iraq Arms Fight" with this lede:
Hundreds of chemical weapons found in Iraq were produced before the 1991 Gulf War and probably are so old they couldn't be used as designed, intelligence officials said Thursday.Nothing to worry about, Nevermind! This doesn't change the fact that Bush lied and there were no WMDs! Sigh. I mean! With objective, fact-checked reporting like this, why would anyone look elsewhere for their news? I can't wait to read the blogosphere's take on these reports. I"m sure everyone will be impressed.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006- - -
That's just mean!
Shield your eyes!
Oops, too late. My mother-in-law recently decided she wanted photos of us more recent than our wedding picture (funny, I don't think we've changed a bit in 20 years). So.. I've been dredging though CDs of photos. Photos of my wife are no problem, I snap one of her every now and then. Photos of me are another story, as my wife isn't nearly the shutter bug I am. But I finally found one that isn't too embarrassing, taken at Lake Havasu winter before last when we were trying out my new camera. You can just see the railing of London Bridge outside the window. Nice hat too. I can't wear it here in Wyoming or I'd spend most of my time chasing it, but it's a great tourist hat. And yes, it's true, I have no neck.
Update: [sigh] Yes dear, my beard used to be bright red, but then my nose used to be closer to the middle of my face too. About the third time it was broken they gave up trying to push it back toward the middle and settled for breathable. I suppose I shouldn't lead with my face but my head is the hardest part of my body.
There's an interesting StrategyPage article today on arming robots for combat use. It seems that packable robots weighing under 50# have been deployed to the Mideast:
So far, the Department of Defense has backed away from proposals to arm these MTRS (Man Transportable Robotic System), because of safety concerns. It's not that the armed robots would just be turned on, and turned lose [sic]. They would be controlled by their human operator, but there is a reluctance to having the troops equipped with an armed robot. Such systems are more prone to friendly fire incidents. But the troops want them, and the manufacturers of the robots, are spending their own money to develop armed versions of its UGVs.I've got to take exception to the idea that armed 'bots would be more prone to friendly fire incidents. When a man goes charging into a dimly lit area expecting armed resistance he's going to be experiencing the full effects of an adrenalin dump: Tunnel vision, impaired hearing, etc. (Massad Ayoob has described these effects in great detail in his books on personal defense.) I would think that a trooper sitting in the safety of his LAV while guiding a robot on a house-clearing mission would be more likely to take an extra second to surely identify his target before firing. Also, split screens and/or computer tech could choose almost instantly between a variety of daylight and night vision options for the 'bot, contributing immensely to proper target ID.
After all, if someone kills his 'bot the gunner, also be tracking the 'bot's progress, could always fire a couple of chaingun rounds through the wall to avenge the little fella. Then they toss another 'bot out the door and start in again. Collecting stray 'bot bits after an engagement would seem far preferable to having soldiers wounded or killed, which seems to me to be an incredible advantage. Certainly there would be situations where they would be of little use and I can see where the overly timid might rely too heavily on them, but I think they're a Great Idea.
H/T: InstaPundit (I'd trademark Mean MTRS though.)
Tuesday, June 20, 2006- - -
bluegrass jazz klezmer?
Here's another interesting musically oriented web site (turn your speakers on!). Andy Statman got his start in bluegrass, then migrated to avant-garde jazz, and finally found his roots in traditional hasidic music, before coming full circle with his soon-to-be released East Flatbush Blues which strikes me as progressive bluegrass. You can listen to samples from his albums here. If there's anyone with a wider repertoire I sure don't know who it would be.
I bought his Jazz mandolin book several months ago and I've been slowly working my way through it. I've got a pile of instructional material but it's one of my very favorites. He makes a big point of the connections between jazz, blues, and bluegrass and illustrates how each influenced the others. It's also not straight Bill Monroe-style bluegrass mandolin which is a welcome relief. Anyone who plays the mandolin must study Bill Monroe's music and technique, but browsing the mandolin instructional materials you'd almost get the impression that Monroe-style bluegrass was the only music you can play on a mandolin. I guess I just need a little more variety in my life. Check out Statman's site and put a little variety in your musical life!
Update: Incidentally, quite a lot of Andy Statman's klezmer music is available as free downloads at Amazon. Give it a listen. It's definitely not bluegrass.
Those trigger-happy hormones
Back in early May when the NYTimes reported that new research suggested that handling a gun stirs a hormonal reaction in men that primes them for aggression, these researchers were described as "psychologists at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill."
Now for the rest of the story: Today's Casper Star notes that the experiment was conducted by Jen Klinesmith, a senior psychology major at Knox College, who's apparently from Sheridan, Wyoming. I'd wondered when I first read the NYTimes report why they were making so much of a study that had only 30 subjects. Now we learn that the "researchers" are apparently a single undergrad (presumably under the supervision of her professors). To her credit, the results of her experiment will be published in the journal Psychological Science in July. [Strange. It seems the Casper Star has run this exact same story three days in a row, with three datelines.]
Amazing how much mileage you can get by confirming peoples' darkest suspicions about us gun-totin', knuckle-draggin', hairy ol' men. I wonder how far this story would have gone if it had been reported up-front as the results of research by an undergrad. More power to her, it's a pretty neat idea for an experiment, but I bet there's a lot of undergrads doing interesting stuff that don't get written up by the NYTimes.
Sunday, June 18, 2006- - -
Here's something a bit different
Gibson's Backstage Pass has an interview with Sam Bush, complete with a sample track, River's Gonna Run with Bush and Emmylou Harris, from his latest album Laps in Seven. There's even a mandolin lesson. Pretty cool. Be sure to turn on yer speakers (and wave your mouse around just under his chin on the first page of the interview to find the sample track, it's a bit hidden)!
H/T: Mandolin Cafe
A cute one from my dad:
A burglar broke into a house one night. He shined his flashlight around, looking for valuables, and when he picked up a CD player to place in his sack, a strange, disembodied voice echoed from the dark saying, "Jesus is watching you."
He nearly jumped out of his skin, clicked his flashlight out, and froze. When he heard nothing more after a bit, he shook his head, then clicked the light on and began searching for more valuables.
Just as he pulled the stereo out so he could disconnect the wires, clear as a bell he heard, "Jesus is watching you."
Freaked out, he shone his light around frantically, looking for the source of the voice. Finally, in the corner of the room, his flashlight beam came to rest on a parrot.
"Did you say that?" He hissed at the parrot.
"Yep," the parrot confessed, and then squawked, "I'm just trying to warn you."
The burglar relaxed. "Warn me, huh? Who in the world are you?"
"Moses," replied the bird.
"Moses?" the burglar laughed. "What kind of people would name a bird Moses?"
"The kind of people that would name a rottweiler Jesus."
WASHINGTON - The owner of the South Texas ranch where Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot a hunting companion chipped in on the gift of a shotgun for presidential aide Karl Rove last year.Is that purty, or what? And despite the article's hype, the Silver Pigeon II is only one step up from the "entry level" Silver Pigeon S. Let's hope Rove observes the proper form when shotgunning!
Specifically, a Beretta 687 Silver Pigeon II, a handsome 20-gauge shotgun worth $2,073 that Katharine Armstrong and 10 other friends gave the senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President Bush, according to financial disclosure forms released Friday for top White House aides.
Friday, June 16, 2006- - -
What a week!
Last Friday came the news that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is off to collect on his virgins. As if that wasn't enough good news, on Wednesday we learned that the hops in beer may help prevent prostate cancer although you would have to drink more than 17 beers to benefit. Worried about drinking that much beer? Well if you did drink that much you'd certainly need plenty of coffee which not only helps with the hangover, on Tuesday, we found it prevents liver damage. What a wonderful world.
"British Muslims fear repercussions over tomorrow's train bombing."
Mark Steyn, truly an infidel's infidel.
Oh, my aching back!
First it was Brokeback Mountain, then Brokeback Mounties, and now Brokeback football. I don't know how much more punishment I can take..
Those marvelous "Missing Links"
It seems paleontologists aren't much different: Investigators are reporting the find of a Missing Link, the oldest known ancestor of modern birds.
An archaeologist is the best husband a woman can have. The older she gets, the more interested he is in her.
-- Agatha Christie
The remains were dated to about 110 million years ago, making them the oldest for the group Ornithurae, which includes all modern birds and their closest extinct relatives. Previously, the oldest known fossils from this group were from about 99 million years ago.With a gap of ca. 10 million years, it would appear that there's still plenty of room for more missing links, which not only shows that paleontology is a marvelously fertile field with much work remaining to be done, but also suggests that "missing link" is a term with limited utility. After all, it would seem that most of our links are missing.
As an example, the recently updated Third Edition of Mammal Species of the World (D. E. Wilson and D. M. Reeder (eds). 2005) lists 5418 extant and historically extinct species of mammals (a list is available through the Smithsonian's National Museum of natural History). This list is thought to be relatively comprehensive as new mammal species are rarely discovered. In contrast, roughly 1000 species of dinosaurs have been named since 1824 (about half of these are though not to be valid as they were based on bits and scraps that are probably attributable to other, better-represented species). There is, as far as I know, little reason to believe that the Dinosauria were any less diverse than Mammalia, suggesting that only (very roughly*) 10% of dinosaurs have been discovered and named.
Remember this when someone tells you that missing links between humans and the other primates are proof of creationism and a refutation of evolution. Yes, there are an enormous number of missing links, but missing should not be take to mean absent. The entire paleontological record is more missing than not!
*This is speculation on my part and I am not a paleontologist. However, remember that the dinos were around for 165 million years, while the 5418 mammal species listed include only those that have lived in the last 500 years. If we included all the mammal species known to have lived throughout all of time there would be several times more of them. Thus, it seems entirely possible that many more than 5000 species of dinosaurs have existed at one time or another.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006- - -
Sioux will sue!
Charles E. Kupchella, President of my old alma mater, the University of North Dakota, has written a letter to the NCAA in response to their banning of the "Fighting Sioux" nickname and logo at NCAA-sponsored events:
Good for them! and President Kupchella has a good point. If all Indian names are to be done away with they'll have to change the name of the state to comply.
To begin with, you asserted that any use of American Indian images or nicknames was hostile and abusive. Later you changed this to hostile or abusive – as if this were meaningful in some way. Some of your initial rhetoric actually encompassed nicknames derived from any race or ethnic group. Many of us heard Myles Brand in a radio interview say that “Fighting Irish” was not a problem nickname because (his words) it was really about leprechauns and not real people. Really?
We explained that we have a beautiful logo designed by a respected American Indian artist and that we use the nickname with consummate respect – expecting and getting respect for the Sioux culture from our fans. We pointed out that we do not do tomahawk chops, we do not have white guys painted up like Indians, and our fans do not do Indian chants.
How far does the NCAA think its jurisdiction goes? Does it extend into history? Do you really expect us to airbrush all of the references to Sioux off the jerseys of our many national championship teams – on the many photographs and championship banners lining the walls of our sports venues?
And get this: even if we were to stop using the nickname we have used with pride for nearly eighty years, and decided to forgo any nickname – since they may all be at some future risk – and simply be known as the University of North Dakota and used the University’s seal or even the State Seal, we would still apparently be in violation of your policy. “Dakota” is what some of the Sioux actually call themselves. Our University Seal and the State Seal have images of American Indians on them.
H/T: Hugh Hewitt
Drink Up Shriners!
CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) - A main ingredient in beer may help prevent prostate cancer and enlargement, according to a new study.I suspect you might need only a couple of those 'strained through a bale of alfalfa' over-hopped American-style IPAs, but why take chances? Especially since the malting barley here in the Bighorn Basin is hip-pocket high, headed out, and beginning to ripen. It looks like another bumper crop so there will be plenty for everyone! Just remember: An eighteen-pack a day keeps the doctor away!
But researchers say don't rush out to stock the refrigerator because the ingredient is present in such small amounts that a person would have to drink more than 17 beers to benefit.
Oregon State University researchers say the compound xanthohumol, found in hops, inhibits a specific protein in the cells along the surface of the prostate gland.
H/T Best of the Web Today
Sunday, June 11, 2006- - -
A shiny new Charter Arms stainless .44 Bulldog. Just in time for Father's Day. My dad has wanted one of these for years, but never could catch up with one as Charter has been in and out of business. Although they've recently been producing guns the rumors at the gun shop were that they were history, again, and the boys at Wiki confirm that they've filed for bankruptcy. I tend to believe Charter's explanation that nuissance law suits just got to be too much, as Wiki's suggestion that they couldn't make it in a market 'flooded with product' doesn't jibe with my observation that you can't find the darn things.
On the other hand, this brief note suggests that Charter has a new distributor, so perhaps they're not dead yet. I hope not, as this is a decent little gun for the money and I'm still trying to find one for me! Dad's is a bit rough in the chambers around the extractors, but given the low pressure of the .44 Special I don't see that as a problem. Any load that expanded the case web in that area would probably be dangerous and would undoubtedly be impossible to handle in the wee beast. Other than that, it's quite a nice little gun. The barrel looks smooth and the action, while a bit stiff, should smooth up with a bit of shootin'. The matte finish is well done and the trigger pull isn't too heavy although it's a bit gritty out of the box.
These newer Charters have an extractor shroud and heavy-weight barrel, giving them a bit more heft at 22 oz that the originals, which were supposedly around 19 oz. (For comparison, my lightest .44 mag, a 4" S&W Mountain Gun, weighs 39.5 oz.) Despite the light weight, 5-shot cylinder, and 2-1/2" barrel the gun is considerably larger than my little .38 Chief's Special. I just wish they made one with a 4" barrel and adjustable sights, which wouldn't make it much bigger or heavier, but would make it a bit more useful out in the hills.
A bit too much aquavit eh, Wenche?
Angry hare attacks dogsled! Wenche Offerdal, who was driving the dogsled team in the Reisadalen area of Troms County, [Norway] had never seen anything like it.
Now if Jimmy Carter had been there I'd believe it.
Saturday, June 10, 2006- - -
One Baad kitty!
WEST MILFORD, N.J. -- A black bear picked the wrong New Jersey yard for a jaunt earlier this week, running into a territorial tabby who ran the furry beast up a tree -- twice.
Dean Barnett -- "... If your wife/girlfriend/date asks, “Does this outfit make me look fat?” I don’t care if the outfit in question makes her look like the Goodyear Blimp. The only possible answer is, “No, dear. You look beautiful.”
"Does this make you intellectually dishonest? Does it make you a liar? Does it mean your relationship is built on a foundation of untruth?
"In short, who cares? ..."
Friday, June 09, 2006- - -
Who'd a thunk it?
I never would have guessed you could be charged with a misdemeanor for giving a politician shit. If flag-burning is covered under the First Amendment surely this is protected speech, isn't it?
Someone should sponsor a constitutional amendment! Hey, at least it's a real problem, unlike gay marriage.
Thursday, June 08, 2006- - -
Now for something completely different
We occasionally find rock art here in Wyoming that has southwestern influences, but this recent find appears to have both southwestern and appalachian influences.
Only in California..
A new study finds iPods more popular than beer on California's college campuses. Sex didn't even make the list. Harrumph! Kids nowadays.
The ugliest sheep in the pen..
Australians are searching for ugly sheep. I seem to recall a joke about that but let's not go there.
It appears that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is off to collect on his 76 virgins. I hope he's vastly disappointed.
Update: 72 virgins? Whatever. Under the circumstances I suppose I was being magnanamous. Virginity is highly overrated anyway..
"Stroke of the pen. Law of the land. Kinda Cool."
Today is the 100th anniversary of the Antiquities Act which allows the president to designate National Monuments by executive order, a very Big Stick carved by Teddy Roosevelt.
Under the Clinton Administration that stick was used liberally, engendering many of the pen strokes of which Paul Begala quipped back in 1998. In all, the Clinton Administration created or expanded 21 monuments encompassing over 5.6 million acres, with much of this during his infamous parting shots in January of 2000 (1, 2).
Oddly enough, during the negotiations that led to the establishment of Grand Teton National Park, the state of Wyoming negotiated itself an exemption from the Act, making us the only state so shielded from such mischief. A strange turn of events considering that Devil's Tower in northeastern Wyoming was the first National Monument.
According to the Park Service:
The Antiquities Act is the first law to establish that archeological sites on public lands are important public resources. It obligates federal agencies that manage the public lands to preserve for present and future generations the historic, scientific, commemorative, and cultural values of the archaeological and historic sites and structures on these lands. It also authorizes the President to protect landmarks, structures, and objects of historic or scientific interest by designating them as National Monuments.Under this brief definition of the Act it's easy to see how inclusion of areas such as the 4000 acre Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks NM, pictured here, could be justified (created by the Clinton Administration, BTW). It's much harder to see how vast areas can be taken in by an act meant to preserve significant sites and landmarks.
Ah well, Happy Anniversary [clink]!!
Wednesday, June 07, 2006- - -
Okay, sanity is definitely not the word I was searching for..
First, the platform committee of the Albany County, Wyoming, Democratic Party voted unanimously in favor of presenting a resolution to the party's county convention to adopt a platform that calls for the impeachment of President Bush. Now, the state Republican Party has adopted a conservative platform opposing abortion, gambling and any "teaching or encouraging of homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle" in public schools.
Obviously I misspoke when I suggested that Wyoming might be the last bastion of sanity* in a thoroughly bizarre world. It's highly unlikely that we'll be sending a Democrat to DC in 2006 to wave this impeachment banner, nor are the fanny bandits about to take over our public schools, so the impeachment and anti-homosexuality planks are pure pander.
Likewise, far as I know, no one is supporting abortion and gambling in our public schools.. [Rimshot. Thud! Sound of body being dragged off stage.]
Tuesday, June 06, 2006- - -
Giving new meaning to the term sack lunch
It sounds like everyone had a ball at the Black Gold Cattle Co. Testicle Festival this past weekend.
Monday, June 05, 2006- - -
Why do you suppose they get elected?
Mickey Kaus wonders:
One thing I've never understood: When you report on a campaign, you notice that virtually all major candidates' "advance men" and women are astonishingly, scarily competent--full of energy, able to organize a three-factory tour with portable bleachers in ten minutes. Where do these people go when the governing starts? Are they so tired they sleep for four years?I don't find this puzzling at all. Given the current state of politics in the US there is a strong, even Darwinian selection for candidates who can run a good campaign -- else they wouldn't get elected, eh? -- but the skills necessary to run a political campaign apparently don't necessarily translate into the skills you need to, you know, run the country. Yes, there seems something wrong with this, but it's certainly easy to see it as a product of our political environment.
It's been hot and humid here at Coyote World Headquarters the last few days so when I saw that last photo it reminded me of this one. I feel cooler already! Got to love that Hobbit door!
Don't be alarmed by the For Sale sign in the front yard, I took this (B&W on actual film) photo for insurance purposes back when we bought the place in 1993. Looking at the old pix always startles me a bit because the juniper tree on the corner of the house is now twice that size. But then we feed it cats.
That's also about as much snow as I've ever seen in Worland. We usually get much less and lately mostly none at all.
What next, a stationwagon?
Mickey Kaus reports that affluent people are trading in their SUVs for large sedans. This makes perfect sense to me: A big sedan is much more comfy to drive and ride in than most SUVs, the suspension is softer and you sit lower between the wheels so you get less lateral lashing about. The tires are designed strictly for highway use so they're quieter. You might not get any better gas mileage, but you could host a bridge tournament in the trunk of the M-I-L's Caddie so you're not giving up much in cargo capacity with the bigger sedans I'm familiar with. Also, it seems just plain silly to pay for all the extra driveline components required for 4WD for a vehicle that will never leave the pavement. The folks who make SUVs have got to know that most of their products will never leave the road and I've tried quite a few of them in the last few years that appear never to have been designed to be taken off the road. In essence they're just big, boxy sedans. If I didn't actually need that Mad Max-lookin' monster for work I'd trade it for a Lincoln Towncar or some such in a heartbeat.
That's going to leave a scar.
Sunday, June 04, 2006- - -
So, what are you wearing right now?
Via Reason's Hit & Run comes Flame Warriors by Mike Reed. If you follow the comments in some of the more contentious blogs you'll recognize these archetypical charactors.
This goes a long way toward explaining why I don't have Comments; I'm afraid I've got too much Nanny in me to rest easy while playing host to such a crew. When I'm out and about I can see a good deal of Big Cat in me, admittedly with a large dash of Evil Clown. As with most Big Cats I don't enjoy flame wars, but still feel that everyone is entitled to my opinion. Thus, I tend to be a bit of a seagull, leaving a big, steaming comment before I soar off never to return. I suppose this would make me a lurker if I hung around to see the reaction to my deposit, but I don't do that for fear that I'd learn everyone else thinks I'm a boring old fart. I don't have to worry about that when I visit Megan McArdle's site though, she's got me pegged as a perv (and that is a pretty good likeness).
Update: Speaking of whom, I now understand why Megan doesn't post photos of herself; she wants us to love her for her considerable brain. Well, the jig's up. She has a review of Benjamin Friedman's new book The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth in the latest print edition of Reason that's earned her a thumbnail photo on the Contributors page. Funny, in all these years of blogging she's never mentioned that she's drop-dead gorgeous. (Hey, it can be hard work living up to our stereotypes but I try!)
Friday, June 02, 2006- - -
Don't get too cocky!
When reading something like Ace of Spades' post explaining why some people hate Jeff Goldstein (H/T Glenn Reynolds) -- short answer, because he's smart and they're not, which certainly is an appealing analysis -- I think it wise to bear in mind the old native American proverb that each creature is endowed with just enough brains to tan its own hide.