Sunday, August 28, 2011

More Gun Fun

The September e-postal match is over at True Blue Sams and involves a scene from an old western movie. I saw this scene, but don't remember the movie.
One cowboy emptied his pistol at a windmill and scored 4 or 5 hits on the moving vanes. The second fellow fired 6 shots and got only one hit. He covered for himself by claiming to be aiming at the gaps between the vanes.

For myself, I expect I should have no trouble at all firing 10 rounds at a windmill and never once hearing the annoying clank of a bullet hitting a vane, or anything else for that matter. Go get a target, have UPS run off several copies, and go on out to the range.

Alas, no high-end swag from "Top Windmill" this time, just bragging rights.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Legal News

Gov Rick Perry of Texas has sent the feds a $260,000 bill for the costs incurred incarcerating illegal aliens in Texas. This is not a new idea, as other governors have tried this in the past with varying degrees of success.

The next step in this process will be Attorney General Eric "Gunrunner" Holder filing suit against Governor Perry for election tampering for preventing all those undocumented voters from getting to the polls.

How's Your Weather

Around here, it's hot and dry. On the northern east coast, it's raining. Drudge is reporting:


Entire Atlantic City seniors home refuse evacuation orders...

BLOOMBERG: Staying behind 'is against the law'...

Might shut off power in low-lying areas...


Storm puts damper on The Hamptons...

Obama stranded, economy rebounds..

O.K. I may have made that last one up. Irene has come ashore in some places packing winds up to 33 mph. Mayor Bloomberg vows not to let this crisis go to waste.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Sauce For The Goose

A scientist in England has announced that he has figured out why so many of us are fat, and that he knows just what to do the save humanity from itself.

We are all familiar with the argument that the way to reduce our dependence on expensive foreign oil is to tax it and all its by-products to the skies, and with the higher prices will come reduced usage. Most of us also understand that there are other dominoes that fall in this sequence, but having accomplished job #1, who cares.

Prof.Boyd Swinburn figures that the same approach that made Europe what it is today economically, can make the whole world the picture of health that is found today in Somalia. Yup: Simply raise taxes on food, and people will eat less of it, and thus is obesity conquered.

D'wife tells me that the price of food has been going up as long as she can remember, and as far as she can tell, it hasn't done her any good at all. Of course there are two easy answers to this.
1. It's because the technique hasn't been tried hard enough. What we need is a 1-200% price increase in the cost of food to really show noticeable results. and...
2. It has helped. Think how much heavier you'd be without the steady increase in food prices all these years.

You suggest this. I have a well-developed sense of self preservation that prevents me.

Of course, committing 40% of our corn crop to motor fuel is a big step to accomplishing the same thing under the radar, as it were.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What Have I Been Reading?

O.K. this list is going around and frankly I'm too knackered to think of anything clever to write right now. At one time I got looking at my book collection and decided that I'd read all of them as many times as I would ever read them, and just boxed them up and sold them for $20/box, which works out to about $.20/ea. There were about 1500 all told.

The NPR's Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy novels with the ones I have read in bold:

1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien
2. The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
3. Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card
4. The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert
5. A Song Of Ice And Fire Series, by George R. R. Martin
6. 1984, by George Orwell
7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
8. The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov
9. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
10. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
11. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
12. The Wheel Of Time Series, by Robert Jordan
13. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
14. Neuromancer, by William Gibson
15. Watchmen, by Alan Moore
16. I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov
17. Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein

18. The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss
19. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
20. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
21. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick
22. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
23. The Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King
24. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke

25. The Stand, by Stephen King
26. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson
27. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury
28. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
29. The Sandman Series, by Neil Gaiman
30. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
31. Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein
32. Watership Down, by Richard Adams
33. Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey
34. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein
35. A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller
36. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells
37. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne
38. Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keys
39. The War Of The Worlds, by H.G. Wells
40. The Chronicles Of Amber, by Roger Zelazny
41. The Belgariad, by David Eddings
42. The Mists Of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley
43. The Mistborn Series, by Brandon Sanderson
44. Ringworld, by Larry Niven
45. The Left Hand Of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin
46. The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien
47. The Once And Future King, by T.H. White
48. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
49. Childhood’s End, by Arthur C. Clarke
50. Contact, by Carl Sagan
51. The Hyperion Cantos, by Dan Simmons
52. Stardust, by Neil Gaiman
53. Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson
54. World War Z, by Max Brooks
55. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle
56. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman
57. Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett
58. The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson
59. The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold
60. Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett
61. The Mote In God’s Eye, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
62. The Sword Of Truth, by Terry Goodkind
63. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy
64. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke
65. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson
66. The Riftwar Saga, by Raymond E. Feist
67. The Shannara Trilogy, by Terry Brooks
68. The Conan The Barbarian Series, by R.E. Howard
69. The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb
70. The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
71. The Way Of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson
72. A Journey To The Center Of The Earth, by Jules Verne
73. The Legend Of Drizzt Series, by R.A. Salvatore
74. Old Man’s War, by John Scalzi
75. The Diamond Age, by Neil Stephenson
76. Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke
77. The Kushiel’s Legacy Series, by Jacqueline Carey
78. The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin
79. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury
80. Wicked, by Gregory Maguire
81. The Malazan Book Of The Fallen Series, by Steven Erikson
82. The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde
83. The Culture Series, by Iain M. Banks
84. The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart
85. Anathem, by Neal Stephenson
86. The Codex Alera Series, by Jim Butcher
87. The Book Of The New Sun, by Gene Wolfe
88. The Thrawn Trilogy, by Timothy Zahn
89. The Outlander Series, by Diana Gabaldan
90. The Elric Saga, by Michael Moorcock
91. The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury
92. Sunshine, by Robin McKinley
93. A Fire Upon The Deep, by Vernor Vinge
94. The Caves Of Steel, by Isaac Asimov
95. The Mars Trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson
96. Lucifer’s Hammer, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
97. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis
98. Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville
99. The Xanth Series, by Piers Anthony
100. The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis

I count 53/100. Several of these I've heard of but had no inclination to read because of the genre, others I've never even heard of.

My nominees would be The Marching Morons, by C.M. Kornbluth, and The Weapon Shops of Isher, by A.E. Van Voght, a must-read for any gun nut.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Yes, that perennial favorite here in Colorado is back again, recovering from its death in Boulder after quite a few years ( twenty-some?) reincarnated in Longmont at Union Resevoir.

Come watch as budding Mad Scientists and crazed hippies compete with human-powered vehicles over land and water both for undying glory and the Commodore's Cup. Sporting from one to eight -galley slaves- pilots, some of these vehicles have never been wet before plunging into the water at the start line. See who wins the un-coveted Titanic Award for the best sinking in sight of the start line.

This Saturday.

The Next Killer App

Spanish computer experts have joined forces with Princeton psychology profs to develop software that can recognize facial expressions.

Where this becomes the killer app is this: A good interrogation expert knows what kinds of "tells" or changes in facial expression tip you off that the speaker is lying. Installing this app on your TV during election season, or for that matter any time a pol is getting some face time on the tube could show, say a small white dot on the lower edge of the screen that moved to the left when the "liar" hints began adding up, and to the right as they disappear or fail to show.

Running this software native to your own TV would even show the marker over the top of the lower-screen banners the news networks are so fond of putting up to distract people with the local weather report and news of the stock market.

Washington Tragedy

Washington was struck today by a modest (5.9) earthquake, temporarily bringing the government to a halt. Unfortunately, before the recovery could get going, everyone went back to work. Compounding the missed opportunity, the Congress was in recess, and the president was on vacation.

Next chance for a recovery will occur in a few days when hurricane Irene moves up the east coast. Reliable sources* are saying that a congressman who is videotaped standing outdoors during a Cat 4 or better hurricane has a better chance of getting re-elected.

*I know that the Donks have won at least 3 elections with dead candidates on the ballot in recent history.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Car For Sale

I've always wanted a nice midlife crisis car but was unable to afford a really nice one. Now the one I had in mind has come on the market, and no one told me so someone else got it.
When this baby hit the road, Gina Lollobrigida became obsolete.
Well, almost.

I believe I saw that car in the flesh at the Monterrey Grand Prix and took several pictures, which I have somewhere.

Fairness Doctrine RIP?

I'm not hearing the heartwrenching screams from the left, so I'm suspicious, but the FCC is announcing that the Fairness Doctrine in officially dead, this time for real.

It would be nice. The head of the FCC owes his job to the president, and the prez would sell his entire family to the cannibals to get Rush Limbaugh off the air. Well, O.K. not his family. Yours more likely.

Keep an ear to the ground on this one.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

E-Postal Match for August

If any of you have tried the August e-postal match and found that your scores could be counted on the thumbs of one hand, take heart. Danno has revised the scoring system in such a way as to get you into the single digits. Possibly into the doubles.

Remember what I keep telling you about these matches: If your scores suck, it's not because you're a terrible shot. Most likely it's because the target is harder than it looks.


The prez left on vacation telling us he would have a solution to the unemployment problem all worked out when he got back.
It's entirely possible he could have timed things a bit better.

H/T to Traction Control for the graph. The projections look even worse, but I'm having a hard time imagining an approval rating less than zero.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thr Republicans

What do you call a politician who supports state-controlled health care, an assault weapons ban, and a 5-day waiting period on handgun purchases?

In Massachusetts, you call him a Republican, of course.

Artificial Intelligence

Itty Bitty Machine Company has announced a new chip, presumably some king of processor, that mimics the human mind.
The scientists have built two working prototype designs. Both cores contain 256 neurons, one with 262,144 programmable synapses and the other with 65,536 learning synapses. The team has successfully demonstrated simple applications like navigation, machine vision, pattern recognition, associative memory and classification.
What I find interesting here is that the architecture is not defined in terms of junctions bits and bites any more.

In the future, instead of the Blue Screen of Death(TM) you get a Green screen of absent-mindedness that over time gets bluer and bluer as the chip progresses through dementia before eventually dying in the conventional manner.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Future of Transportation, Electrics

The Aptera, which I covered here a bit back, is only a step away from full production, with 2400 deposits for vehicles in hand. You have to admit the think has a certain kind of Jetsons charm about it:
and in this state, it's a motorcycle, which frees it from a huge load of federal regulation, and allows it to be driven in the carpool lanes with only one person on board. The drawbacks, at present, are that it's an electric, with a limited range although they talk about 100 miles between overnight charges. The usual caveat is that the best range comes at very modest speeds with no starting and stopping, and the top speed, whatever it is, usually cuts the range severely.

Still, the thing has a certain charm about it, and I could imagine a dedicated gearhead finding a water-cooled motorcycle engine that could be adapted in to replace the battery pack and electric motor.

Imagine a Yamaha VMAX engine. Imagine what this thing handles like at 200 mph.

O.K. let's be reasonable. How about a 600cc twin? Adequate torque, plenty of horses, and probably 50-60 mpg under normal conditions.

A 350cc single would probably work just fine.

Crashworthiness? Hey! Keep in mind that it's a motorcycle. Even so, the structure does wrap all the way around, and seat belts are probably included. Even so, in some states, you're required to wear a helmet while driving this on the streets. Might as well go for the big motor and make the helmet more of a necessity.

Oh and that "step away? It's a $122M loan from the DOE to get the line up and running. At $30K/ea, retail, that's a lot of vehicles to sell to pay it off. Still, I suppose they could get a bailout if sales didn't meet expectations.

I wonder what an engineless, batteryless platform, sold as a kit would run?

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Bringing running water indoors was a bad idea.

Whomever thought of it should be exhumed and flogged.

Detroit Depopulated

The Detroit police announced today that they have busted most of the remaining population of Detroit in a sweeping drug raid:
“Since July first, we have raided a total of 90 homes, arrested 616 individuals and confiscated 69 firearms,” Police Chief Ralph Godbee said. “We’ve taken in about $3.5 million worth of heroin, cocaine, marijuana, various pills, Oxycontin and things of that nature, and over $360,000 in cash and narcotic proceeds.”
Given the rapidly declining population of Detroit to begin with, this raid must have come close to completely depopulating the city.

It looks like about 1 person in 10 actually had a firearm, which is well below the national average of 1 in 3. Times are evidently so tough in Detroit that the thugs are hocking their stolen guns to raise money to live on.

The other item that jumped out at me was the new police standard of listing drug quantities in grams instead of the pounds I'm more accustomed to. The longer you look at this, the more it looks like a nickel and dime operation with really good press coverage.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

E-Postal Match for August

Did O.K. in the July match at Mr. Completely's, now here one at Sand Castle Scrolls based on the popular TV show Top Shot. Just split your bullet with the axe blade.

Oh yes, at the risk of reducing my shot at the swag, History Channel is offering some to be distributed by random drawing to the participants. Grab a pistol and perforate that paper.

The "axe blade edge" on the target is about as narrow as you would expect, so vertical variation in your shooting is fine, but the horizontal limit is just under 2 times your bullet caliber.

Good Luck.

Scottish Festival

These things are generally fun with plenty of alcohol, manly Scots doing manly Scottish things like throwing telephone poles, and a supporting cast of Irish folks doing Irish dances and did I mention the alcohol.

Since I used to have several British cars, I have a t-shirt that announces that if Lucas made guns, wars wouldn't start. Those of you who've owned classic Brit cars will get the joke. The only fellow who seemed to get it right off was an elderly gent in a kiltmakers tent who used to work for Jos. Lucas, and thought he had the right answers for everything electrical. He also had the thickest Scottish accent I've ever heard.

This might have been better done in mid-September too, especially with water bringing $3.00 a bottle and beer at $7 a glass. Of course if you play your cards right you can wind up with a free shot of Jameson, Famous Grouse, and Black Grouse. That last one has made my list of things it would be nice to get on my birthday.

Angus Mohr is also a pretty good cover band. A bagpipe really brings out the best in Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash.


Not much posting lately. I blame a high work load, surviving the RIF at work, work at work, and the stifling hot weather.

So the Republicans get suckered and nominate some folks who understand economics. The Dems nominate a dukes mixture of Marxists and moonbats who understand the value of a good sound bite.

Anyone on the committee is in line for some serious "campaign contributions" and at least one of them has already started seriously soliciting for them.

Study groups are what the president appoints or sets up when he's completely clueless and there's pressure for something to be done

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Global Riots, Cities In Flames

All over, it seems as the global economy breaks down after running out of other peoples money. In Israel, the theme is familiar, much like Greece. The rioters demands are, according to Reuters:
  • Increase personal tax brackets for top earners
  • Enshrine the right to housing in the law; introduce rent controls; boost mortgage relief
  • Stop further privatization of things such as health facilities
  • Provide free education for all from the age of three months
  • Raise the minimum wage to 50 percent of the average wage

In Israel this is easy to accomplish, after all the money is all in the hands of the rich Joooos. This is less so elsewhere.

In England, where the populace, except for the thugs, has been disarmed, and laws passed making self defense an actionable offense, the police have this advice:
One of the more depressing things about these riots is the way that the only thing that the Police can think of to say to us non-looters and non-arsonists is: "Don't join in" and "Let us handle it". If the bad guys start to torch your house, let them get on with it. If they attack your next door neighbour, don't join in on his side. Run away. Let the barbarians occupy and trash whatever territory they pick on and steal or destroy whatever property they want to.
What might be more helpful is to remind people that the policeman's job is to draw a chalk line around stationary bodies, presumably to help the detectives figure out how he got there. If it comes to the yobs body or mine, know where my preference lies. It's also worth noting that the sale of American-style baseball bats is up 5000% in England.

Monday, August 8, 2011

News Of The Day

The president gave a speech today on the economy, and in response, the Dow dropped over 600 points. Now that's what I call a big Bronx cheer.

Past corrections have run as much as a 25% loss to the 30 industrials. Anyone care to make book on how big this correction will be? The index has dropped 15% in the last 2-1/2 weeks, so how about another 10% in the next 5 days. Dow opens Aug 15 at 9555?

Some time between now and then might be an opportunity to get in to the market. Along about Wednesday, if you buy Bank of America, you may find out that your modest investment bought you the whole bank.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Liberals May Be Right

A bedrock belief of liberals is that most of humanity is too dumb to come in out of the rain without some nanny figure to tell them to. The thinking then suggests that the best form of government is one in which an elite cadre of exceptionally intelligent folks benignly show the rest of us what to do and where to go. All in our best interests of course.

Often enough, the voters go along with this and elect someone purporting to be smart enough to manage all our affairs. He or she seldom lives up to expectations, but the party simply says that the failed one simply didn’t try hard enough, and the next one will work out just fine.

Sure enough, the voters elect the next messiah, who works out about as well as the last one. If you think about this long enough you come to the inescapable conclusion that mankind is not ready for self-government, and that intervention by a passing band of benign aliens is our only hope.

Gun Show Report

The show seemed well-attended. My co-workers told me that Saturday was "a zoo". Noted also a larger than average number of young folks, under 20. The folks selling guns had people filling out 4473's too.

Saw at least 4 people wearing t-shirts saying "ammo, the currency of the future". I should get one for my financial adviser.

Guitar For Sale

Not from me. My brother makes custom acoustic guitars, and rather nice ones too. Pop on over and check them out.

Nice to see someone in the family is making something that doesn't involve copious amounts of mayhem.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Debt Limit

I haven't said much about this because I'm sure that if you get into the fine details, it will prove to be unimaginably complicated, which is how you do a mugging in Washington. Shamelessly swiped from Grouchy Old Cripple In Atlanta, is this lovely simplified version of how it works:
He also has some nice musical interludes like Hall of the Mountain King done on a 27-string guitar (?).

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Potential Tax Cut

The administration will fight it, tooth and nail, but here's an opportunity, a crisis even, and not to be wasted. It seems there's an 18.4 cent/gallon federal tax on gasoline. Big deal, I hear you say, there's a federal tax on everything. But wait! Due to a colossal oversight on someone's part, it's about to expire.

A bit of background: The tax is used to pay for transportation projects like building and maintaining the Interstate highway system, which is as they say, Splendid and Worthwhile. It also funds state and local transportation projects like local widenings and maintenance, which is also nice, but it's local work. When a state needs money for local roads, it goes to the Feds for part of the funding which makes the cost of the project seem lower as long as no one points out that it's local monies the fed is giving them back. The fed is also fond of attaching conditions to the use of the money like requiring that half of it be spent on high-speed monorails to serve underprivileged neighborhoods.

Write your congress-critter and encourage him/her/it to not support renewal of the tax. If you're worried about the interstate highway system, suggest that the Department of Education be abolished, a portion of its budget be allocated to the Dept of Transportation to cover the interstates, and the remainder be rebated to the taxpayers to help them pay for gas.

Oh yes, and as always, include a final line asking that the BATFE be abolished in its entirety.

Cart, Horse, Some Assembly Required

Here's the sort of headline that really jumps out at you, no?
Dems warn long-term jobless could derail recovery - A.P.
Just think, the only thing standing between us and a real recovery is all those long term unemployed who steadfastly refuse to get out there and get to work. Alas, there seems to be a fly in the soup:
The report from Congress' Joint Economic Committee says many of these workers suffer because their skill sets no longer fit the needs of hiring employers. It suggests more investment in job training.
I know how those folks feel. Before I became an engineer, I was a certified buggy mechanic, so if I lost my engineering job, I'd need retraining before I could be gainfully employed as a tire changers assistant at Discount Tires.

The important thought in this article is the last line. More "investment" in job training. Which of course needs more funding, which comes from a tax increase, but only on "millionaires and Billionaires".

Or maybe we need the recovery first, then the unemployed would disappear, ya think?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Correcting Errors

When the Wall St Journal makes a mistake, they correct it quickly and mention the correction, to wit:
"When Hillary Clinton ran naked through the White House" was the low point of the Clinton presidency, not the Obama presidency as we said in an item Monday.
What's interesting here is that the story is equally plausible either way.

It will take a lot of alcohol to erase that vision.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Budget Bill

It's pretty much obligatory on me to say something about this even though, like Obamacare, we have to pass the bill to find out what's in it.

One thing that is in it, apparently, is this little gem, noted at Powerline:
One of the diabolical aspects of the debt bill is that budgets for FY 2012 and 2013 will be “deemed” to be in effect, even though in fact, no budget will be proposed, reviewed in committee, debated or adopted. Will that make President Obama the first chief executive to serve an entire term without ever having a budget in place?
I believe it will, or at least I've never heard of such a thing. Always before, the power of the purse rested in the House, and no monies were spend without legislation authorizing it. Any more I guess the legislature assumes sufficient cash for everyone, the money is passed around according to seniority, and if they spend more than is actually available, the Treasury department is told to make up the shortage somehow.

I'm really looking forward to seeing Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid appearing on the New Modern Dancing With The Stars where they perform together doing the Hempen Jig to the accolades of the audience.