Sunday, October 31, 2010

Election Advice

Got your bag of salt handy? Here goes:

There are several questions on the ballot this year, but one of them, Amendment Q, draws my attention. This one says that the legislature should busy itself, in its copious spare time, with finding an official emergency backup location at which to meet should the current location, in the center of Denver, become unavailable.

So let's say that the legislation making Colorado an official sanctuary for UFO pilots becomes law, and a couple of illegal aliens (they have warrants out on them on their home planets) while attempting to land, step on the wrong pedal ( happens to Toyota owners all the time). The resultant surge from the engines reduces the capitol building, and several nearby government buildings to a glass-lined pit, several hundred feet deep.

Let us further speculate that this happens as the Governor is giving his State-of-the State address, and every parasite for miles around is in the chamber to hear it.

What's our hurry to replace this?

Vote NO on Q.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Science Marches Onward

We all know that when a new technology comes along with great promise, and an equally great price tag, there's nothing like a widely sought-after application to bring the price down to the point than the ordinary citizen can afford it.

Photography, comes to mind.

Now, in the field of stem cell research, it seems that ordinary fat cells, available everywhere, can be run through the white-lab-coat version of the Waring blender, and turned, in some part, into stem cells. These accommodating little fellows will cheerfully turn into whatever they find themselves next to. In Japan, that means boobs.

Here, the demand for breast augmentation is high enough to drive a rather large industry, implanting bags of gel. Think what the demand would be like if this procedure involved only transposing some excess bum to the balcony, and letting it grow. 100% organic, as it were.

They also suggest it will work on whatever needs a boost, like kidneys and hearts. Get it to produce brain cells, and the zombie chow industry takes off, making it practical to keep them as pets. Or factory workers.

Film at 11, which in this case probably means 2011.

Vibrations Slow Bone Aging

A study just out suggests that subjecting your body to a regimen of periods of vibration will slow bone aging, which takes the form of softening or porosity. Sources for this therapy cover the gamut from riding a Harley-Davidson to holding a purring cat in your lap.

I favor the motorcycle version myself, having subjected myself to this sort of vibration since I was 17 or so, I can attest that the bones in my head are as solid as ever.

A well-sheltered scientist does this sort of experiment by vibrating mice periodically, and comparing them to non-vibrated ones. Shaken vs stirred. An enterprising doctoral candidate could take this up a notch by offering the denizens of a biker bar a coupon good for a free beer in return for a quick bone density test.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Proofread Your Ballot

Reports are now in of voting machine irregularities in Nevada, North Carolina, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

In Nevada and N.C. the machine accepts your selection, then changes it to favor the Democrat. In New Jersey and Penn. the internally collected vote total doesn't add up, although one vote per machine is probably less than the total of bogus absentee ballots sent in.

When voting on a touch-screen machine, carefully proof-read your selections before pressing the "VOTE" button.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


In the face of the impending Fimbulvinter, let me put in a plug for a local event with a great long glorious history: Harry's Roamers Turkey Run.

This thing is now in it's 54th year and features turkeys as prizes in an old-fashioned poker run.

For anyone not familiar with the event, this is similar to a sports car rallye, with nebulous directions to 5 stopping points at which each participant picks up a random card. At the end, the best poker hand wins, so it's as possible to win with a mo-ped as a Boss Hoss.

The date for this is November 14th, and the inside joke is that the turkeys will be out in the weather riding motorcycles around Denver on that date. I have ridden this thing in weather ranging from the mid 70's to the mid 30's, and it was fun every time. Except maybe for the rain.

Start at Quincy's Bar & Restaurant, 14011 W. Quincy Ave. Doors open at 8:00 with breakfast available, including Bloody Mary's. $10/rider, $5/passenger, and a good time will be had by all. Ride starts at 10:30, and ends at 3:00.

I'll be there.


I took the empathy test. I probably should have stayed away. I love humanity, it's people I can't stand, and it isn't getting any better with age.

Your score: 17
0 - 32 = low (most people with Asperger Syndrome or high-functioning autism score about 20)
33 - 52 = average (most women score about 47 and most men score about 42)
53 - 63 is above average
64 - 80 is very high
80 is maximum
Support mental health, or I'll kill you.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Why We Win

Justice Scalia has been observed instructing newbie justice Elana Kagan in the fine art of trap and skeet. This, I suppose is the higher-class version of "come on out to the range. The first box of .22 is on me." which is only a step away from being a crack dealer only without the unpleasant consequences.

Of course it may not work.
Here's a liberal, obviously enjoying himself immensely, who still doesn't want the peasantry doing the same.

Global Warming

I'm for it. It was comparatively balmy this morning at 6:20 when I took the motorcycle in to work. 1 hour later the temp dropped and wind and heavy rain hit. By 4, the sun had come out, but it was colder than when I rode in in the morning. 14-24" in the high country, too. Hello, Broad Ripple? Here's your long range forecast.

Weather wonks
are calling for an unusually cold winter, followed by a cold summer, followed by the return of the ice sheets to Wisconsin.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Gun Fun

Went to the club IDPA-style* shoot. For those of you unfamiliar, it's best described as Dungeons and Dragons with live ammo.

One course of fire involved walking between two barrels, some 8-10 yards apart. There are 6 targets on one side at distances from 2 yards to 5 yards, and 2 no-shoots mixed in to keep you on your toes. You start at one barrel with the target group on your weak side, and at the signal, walk to the other barrel, placing one shot per target as you walk. You must be moving as you shoot, and using your weak hand only. Upon reaching the other barrel or firing your sixth shot, your time is noted, you reload, and walk back, this time strong hand only, and finally one more walk with the weak hand.

I drew the short straw and went first. I was told I did well on this, and was also told that this was attributed to my use of a Czech pistol from the cold war era which was reputedly at its best shooting prisoners as the guards walked by.

In keeping with the theme, I named the course the Feliks Dzierżyński memorial stage, after the man who made the practice a routine.

Global Warming

Over at Q&O, pundit Billie Hollie is noting that the media are blaming the Dems assorted problems on an "adverse political climate". Finally, something relating to climate that can, in part at least, be blamed on global warming.

Rational people have suspected all along that there might be something wrong with blaming todays weather on yesterdays trip to the grocery store in an SUV, and the massive dump of e-mails and cooked books from the climate poo-bahs themselves only confirms the suspicions.

While this is certainly not the Dems only source of the current out rush of faith, it's certainly a significant contributor. Without the fig leaf of AGW theory, Cap & Trade is exposed as the giant tax on energy use, to be imposed on everybody, that it is.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Micro Stamping

An OK legislator has introduced a bill to fund a study into incorporating microstamping into firearms presumably at some point in the future. The NRA has come out in favor of the study. This has some of the more rabid gunnies (and here you thought I was bad) panties in a knot.

I think the study would be useful in that it would let the Dem legislators vote for something that would likely do no harm, if done honestly, and still be able to tell their constituents they're doing something.

Again, done honestly, with close adult supervision, the study would conclude that microstamping is a colossal waste of time and money.

On the other hand, I was at a pistol match today, and to judge by the enthusiasm with which the spent brass was being policed, I'd guess that most of the shooters would pay a bit extra for a mod to their guns that would imprint their names and addresses along with a message like "if found, please return to Fred Gunnobbler, 40 Smith Ln, Freerange CO, 80380".

I mark my brass by painting the rear red using Dykem metal marker, which sticks well enough that it's the last thing removed in the tumbler. This serves a double purpose as I shoot 9x18 Makarov in my CZ, and reload using 9x19 (Luger) brass I find at the range. I trim the cases back 1mm to do this, and if they were used to reload 9x19, would probably yield less than satisfactory results.

Interesting Poll in Colorado

Interesting poll results out that raise some questions. I don't know who Magellan Strategies is or who they're working for. Some of their methodologies are here. It was a robo-call poll of likely voters, which lends some credibility to the results.

Magellan Strategies Releases Colorado Governor Survey

Hickenlooper (D) 44%,
Tancredo (C) 43%,
Maes (R) 9%,
Other, 2%

Does that include the 6000 bogus registrations the local SEIU just got caught with?

For every one caught, some others get away. What do you suppose the margin is on this?

In a hotly contested election, the Republican will need to win with 3% margin to keep the Dems from finding lost boxes of ballots at the last minute and making up the margin. Chicago is famous for this, and Colorado is not, but successful techniques will be implemented where needed.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Gun Show Report

Not many people, not much business, but that's par for the course this time of year. When Christmas gets closer, traffic picks up. Meantime Joan Peterson, she of the "Twenty Questions" post, opines:

The "bust" pictures? Hand grenades and RPGs are sold at gun shows all over the country. They could be sold by private sellers who may or may not require background checks.
I worked the show on Sunday. I guess they all sold out Friday night or Saturday. Damn.

I've never asked for a background check on a grenade or an RPG that I sold, and now I don't have any. I need to replenish my stock.

Myth Busters

It seems Obama will be appearing on Mythbusters. At first I wondered why, that myth was busted long ago. Then I hear he'll be on a re-re-make of the Archimedes Mirror episode in which the story of setting fire to attacking ships using focused mirrors from the city walls was largely debunked.

A lot of people disagreed, to the point that Mythbusters opened a contest to the viewers in which the most promising proposals from the viewers would be aired on the program.

Someone evidently claimed the feat could have been accomplished had the Greeks only had Obie's own shining luminescence to draw upon.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Bad Luck

It appears that there has been a fire at a military base, which spread to a munitions depot, which turns out to be the main storage area for intermediate range ballistic missiles. Preliminary reports have the fire out of control and doing extensive damage.

The good news is that it's Iran's base at which they store their longest range missile, the Shahab-3 with a range of some 2500 miles. This is roughly equivalent of the old Pershing 2 system which we destroyed at the behest of the Russkies.

Bummer, dudes, but you really shouldn't allow smoking near the fuel dumps.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Election Day

It is for me, anyway, as my ballot has arrived and I get to spend the weekend muttering to myself while filling it out:

More money? NO!

Another project? HELL NO!

You want to be re-elected? BITE ME!

Keep you on the bench? IN YOUR DREAMS!

Questions on the ballot are usually requests for a tax increase for some splendid and worthwhile boondoggle, like the worlds largest toy train set, a new athletic venue, or modern seaport facilities for the City of Denver. Generically, if you don't want to read the details of what the question would actually do, it's safest to vote NO on all of them.

This year is different. One question, 63, asks if we would like to opt out of Obamacare. Finally! a question I can support.

3 others are attempts to hamstring the government and roll back spending levels dramatically. The opponents scream: "But it will cripple the government, and stop all the splendid and worthwhile (see above) things they do."

Hold it right there. You had me at "cripple the government".

I'm not sure these were written as well as they could have been, and the governments and unions are spending lots of money to see them defeated, but the sentiment is good, so they get my vote.

Meantime here's my favorite 'toon for the upcoming elections:
Time to bring out your inner barbarian and help make the results make the Battle of Little Big Horn look like a stunning military victory.
"It was, wasn't it?" S. Bull

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Lockheed Martin has a new laser developed for the military. It works by combining the beams of several lower powered lasers into one very powerful beam, much like the planet-destroying weapon on the Death Star. Other uses have been suggested in the comments:
This also has commercial applications in Earth Based Beam Energy where instead of the huge uncontrolled solar arrays in space that will cost trillions of dollars just to launch, we simply beam the energy from anywhere in the world off a reflector in space to the customer.
Process this work order for a couple of megajoules to be delivered to Mohammed AlJihadi in north-west Pakistan. Push the big red button, and voila! another satisfied, or at least no longer complaining, customer.

Imagine the reactions of the multitudes at the big speech by Achmadimijad as, halfway through the speech, and with no evidence of any outside influence, Achmed suddenly turns in to 150 lbs of well-done steak.

I want one! So the better sort of laser pointers delvers 350mW (.35W) for about $120, which suggests I need about 3 million of them plus a lot of duct tape to bundle them together to get to 1 megawatt. At $360M/MW that's probably no more expensive than the one Martin's making.

Sounds like a worthy project. Bwahahahaha! Fools! I'll destroy them all! Franchises available.

On an equally serious note, Blogger informs me that this is post #1000. Gee, time flies when you're having fun.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Science Marches Onward

The Ig-Nobel prizes are out and there are some worthy recipients:
PEACE PRIZE: Stephan Bolliger, Steffen Ross, Lars Oesterhelweg, Michael Thali and Beat Kneubuehl of the University of Bern, Switzerland, for determining — by experiment — whether it is better to be smashed over the head with a full bottle of beer or with an empty bottle.
This one was from last year:

MANAGEMENT PRIZE: Alessandro Pluchino, Andrea Rapisarda, and Cesare Garofalo of the University of Catania, Italy, for demonstrating mathematically that organizations would become more efficient if they promoted people at random.
Which confirms a lot of suspicions.

The Future of Transportation, Milage

Volkswagen has poured a bunch of money into developing a rolling spaceship that delivers some 285 mpg of diesel with no help from batteries at all. Agin, My complaint is that they put too many wheels under it, which makes me ask what kind of mileage it gets sitting idling in the non-carpool lane with the rest of the peasants. With one less wheel in the back, I'd be down at the dealership, pushing money under their door until they opened.
Spiffy, no. Still, if you dig a bit you find someone has already been there. Here's a report of a car entered in a Shell Oil fuel economy contest in 1973 that got 276 MPG.
Not as spiff, but arguably capable of seating 4 adults.

I saw an ad, produced during the 1974 gas crisis, by Volkswagen, showing a VW Beetle that had been modified by the factory to get some outrageous number of miles per gallon using only the parts and pieces from a 74 Beetle. Admittedly not much was left of it, but I did appreciate the thinking that went into it. The finished car retained the outlines of the Beetle, and ran on a stock engine with 2 of the cylinders removed. Also removed was everything not absolutely necessary to hold the 4 wheels together, and support the jockey driving it.

Saving Lives

Virginia Postrel has a piece up that's near and dear to what's left of my head: Bicycle helmets.

It seems that while helmets do save lives, they aren't very efficient at it.
A new helmet law reduces bicycle deaths among the affected age group by about 19%. It doesn't affect older riders. Since serious bicycle accidents are rare, however, the absolute numbers are still small, about eight fewer deaths a year among kids 5 to 15 than would otherwise occur in the states with helmet laws. "It's not a ton of lives when you compare it to something like wearing your seat belt," says Prof. Stehr.
The affected age group is kids under 15. She also doesn't say if the reduction is overall or per state. Either way it's not a very big number. In any case helmets reduce death and injury in another, probably unintended way: They take a big bite out of the numbers of kids who actually ride bikes.
One reason for the drop is, of course, that more kids wear helmets when they get into accidents. But another is that many give up cycling altogether. Using surveys of parents, the professors find that about 650,000 fewer children ride bikes each year after helmet laws go into effect. That's about 81,000 fewer riders for every life saved. Helmets may save lives, but the dork factor also takes its toll.
People conduct their lives to a perceived level of risk. Get into a car, for example, with a full suite of crash protective devices, plus a 4-point seat belt and a mandatory helmet, and you'll be as safe at 100 mph as you used to be at 60. So you drive 100. It also helps that at 100 mph, fewer people see you swaddled in a rolling rubber room. If you think a mandatory helmet law would somehow benefit you by making cyclists wear them, think how much less likely you'll be to hit one if all the helmets were required to be bright pink.

Tax Time

Found this over at Theo Spark. I haven't done any checking on the provenience of this, but I seem to remember it's been proposed before. Got shot down the last time after too many congressmen began receiving death threats.

Starting in 2011 ”next year ”the W-2 tax form sent by your employer will be increased to show the value of whatever health insurance you are provided. It doesn't matter if you're retired. Your gross income WILL go up by the amount of insurance your employer paid for. So you'll be required to pay taxes on a larger sum of money that you actually received. Take the tax form you just finished for 2009 and see what $15,000.00 or $20,000.00 additional gross income does to your tax debt. That's what you'll pay next year. For many it puts you into a much higher bracket. This is how the government is going to buy insurance for
fifteen (15) percent that don't have insurance and it's only part of the tax increases, but it's not really a "tax increase" as such, it a redefinition of your taxable income.
Health insurance was originally provided to workers when FDRs wage controls held wages down to nonviable levels. It was not considered part of the wage because the benefits were pretty much the same across the board. If this actually happens, and your original insurer doesn't go out of business, your employer would be doing you a favor by dropping your insurance altogether, and throwing you to Obamacare.

Of course since unemployment insurance payments are taxable as income, I see no reason why federally provided health care should fare any differently.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Wit and Wisdom Of Harry Reid

In an interview, featuring strictly softball questions, Harry Reid sets some records.

When asked who the greatest living Americans might be, he unhesitatingly selects Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd. You're too modest, Harry. I was sort of hoping you'd be right up there with them. Or down there with them, depending on your theological bent.

The consummate politician, when he needs dirty work done, rather than dirtying his hands, he farms it out. Wouldn't pay a dime to see a cage match between Chuck Schumer, age 60, and John McCain, age 72 and unable to raise his arms over his shoulders, but figures McCain might be the winner. I'd go with McCain too, but only if we spotted him a .45.

Reid is currently 4 points behind
among likely voters in his re-election bid, which is not too bad after you factor in the 3-5 points vote fraud can get you.

Friday, October 8, 2010


California got caught cooking the books in order to strengthen their air pollution bureaucracy.
The pollution estimate in question was too high - by 340 percent, according to the California Air Resources Board, the state agency charged with researching and adopting air quality standards. The estimate was a key part in the creation of a regulation adopted by the Air Resources Board in 2007, a rule that forces businesses to cut diesel emissions by replacing or making costly upgrades to heavy-duty, diesel-fueled off-road vehicles used in construction and other industries.
If the overstatement has any basis in fact, construction must be about 1/3.4 or 29% of what it was projected to be.

I suppose if you choke an economy sufficiently, fuel usage will go down, as no one will be going to work any more, and the air will magically get cleaner. Just like in Zimbabwe.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Polls 2

Gallup has a poll out that suggests that both unemployment and underemployment are about a point each higher than the official government figures.
The nice thing about polls like this is that it doesn't matter if you're an adult, a registered voter, or a likely voter when the question is asked, you're either working or you aren't. Gallup is also influenced by part-time workers who say they are not looking for full-time work. These folks would likely take a full-time job, but why bother looking if there aren't any?

Gallup says the U-3 is now 10.1%, and the U-6 is up to 18.1%. Government figures are due out tomorrow. Any early bets on the "official" rates?

Three-Party Elections

I've talked about this before here, how three party elections most usually elect the least popular candidate, barring allowances being made, such as runoffs. Here in Colorado, we have one of those for Governor, as the Republicans have picked a really weak candidate, Dan Maes, and the Dems have a fairly popular one. The odd man in is Tom Tancredo, Constitution party candidate, who is within 6 points of beating the Democrat, with the Republican getting 15%.

A Republican who had the peoples best interests in mind would drop out, and throw the election to the Constitution party candidate.

As I understand it, if Maes drops out or otherwise polls less than 10% of the vote, it reduces the Republican Party to the status of a minor party, and reduces some sources of funding.

You would think that if the Republicans take back the Colo house, maybe the Senate, and Tancredo takes the Governors seat, that some kind of arrangement could be worked out.

On the other hand, perhaps that would be the first step in the disappearance of the Republican party from the political scene, and the rise of either the Constitution Party, or the establishment of the Tea Party as a bonna fide political party for the 2012 elections.

Make history, Danny Boy. Drop out.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Quote of the Day

"Folks, people are angry with good reason," he said recently in California. "Through no fault of their own, over 8 million people essentially woke up to find out that they don't have jobs."
Joe "Plugs" Biden

The other 9,021,976 have only themselves to blame for helping to elect the root cause of their current problems.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Quote of the Day

From Ace:
I had an astronomy prof way back in college who described the size of the Earth in this way: "The solar system is composed of our Star and the gas-giant planet Jupiter. The remaining 1% of the mass is miscellaneous leftover crap."
Gotta keep things in perspective, now.

Civics Test

These things are amusing if only to see if you outscore the average college professor. Professor of what, I wonder.

Some of the questions are painfully ambiguous:
30) Which of the following fiscal policy combinations would a government most likely follow to stimulate economic activity when the economy is in a severe recession?
The obvious answer is A, which is what they do regardless of what else is going on. The word in the question, "would" is wrong, and should be "should", in which case the correct answer is D. The test preparers think the answer should be C, although how running up a big deficit helps the economy is beyond me. It was tried in the 30's and didn't work then either.


You answered 27 out of 33 correctly — 81.82 %

Average score for this quiz during October: 76.8%

I'll admit to one brain fart, 2 cases of not having studied Greek philosophy, and am willing to argue the remaining 3. See above.

Take the quiz here.

Product Endorsement

My truck is getting pretty old, and losing performance. Part of that is due to the transmission. In the morning I put it in gear and step on the gas and the engine roars and the truck moves foreward slowly until things get warmer.

After that, out on the road,if I want to speed up, I step on the gas a bit, and the engine revs up a bit, but speed remains the same. Give it more gas, and the tranny shifts out of overdrive, but still no increase in speed. More gas yet, and the engine revs finally get to the point the tranny can no longer ignore, and speed begins to increase.

Add 2/3 of a bottle of Lucas Transmission Fix, and all this goes away. The stuff's like magic. Also like tar. I had to microwave my bottle for 2 minutes to get it to the point it would come out of the bottle and run down the filler tube, and even at that it was still slow, which accounts for the 2/3 bottle. I ran out of patience.

It's worth the wait, though. LTF is available at auto parts stores, and they are not paying me to say nice things about their product.


Early on polls are conducted at the behest of interest groups and candidates for the primary purpose of generating enthusiasm for the candidate or cause in question. These are recognizable by the phrase "adults" used to describe respondents.

Later the polling companies, in an effort to not look like complete idiots, adjust their methodology to edge closer to the actual state of things. Here you see words like "registered voters", although Mickey Mouse and Do-Wop Diddy are registered in more than one district. If these results show your lead shrinking, it's time to panic.

Last stage polls are of "likely voters", myself, for example, which gives the polls significant weight. If I tell a pollster that I will vote for X and against Y, you can count on levers being pulled and/or boxes being checked to that effect. When a pollster begins to use words like "historic", somebody's goose is likely well and truly cooked.

Personally, I'm hoping to see the word "biblical" come into more common use when projecting the upcoming elections, as in "political devastation of biblical proportions".

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sex Makes Women Happier

O.K. so you probably already knew that, but did you ever wonder about the actual mechanism of this? There's an article in Scientific American, no less that delves into the actual chemistry of sex, and discovers that men are walking dispensers of psychoactive drugs:
In fact, semen has a very complicated chemical profile, containing over 50 different compounds (including hormones, neurotransmitters, endorphins and immunosupressants) each with a special function and occurring in different concentrations within the seminal plasma. Perhaps the most striking of these compounds is the bundle of mood-enhancing chemicals in semen. There is good in this goo. Such anxiolytic chemicals include, but are by no means limited to, cortisol (known to increase affection), estrone (which elevates mood), prolactin (a natural antidepressant), oxytocin (also elevates mood), thyrotropin-releasing hormone (another antidepressant), melatonin (a sleep-inducing agent) and even serotonin (perhaps the most well-known antidepressant neurotransmitter).
Sex has a leveling effect on the male mind too, although the authors don't offer any suggestions regarding this.

Manufacturing Tanks In August

It's a positive sign indeed that after the Summer of Recovery put so many people back to work that the defense industry is now benefiting from Obama's embrace of the Bush doctrine that delivered a win in Iraq.

Oh wait! Did I misread that?

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Future of Transportation, For Sure

Here is a picture of a prototype from Lotus, which they call the City Car:
Snappy. Does anyone notice a vague resemblance to this:
Or is it just me.

More car pix from the Paris Auto Show here. Stormtroopers everywhere.