Friday, December 27, 2013

Whew! That Was a Close One!

A judge says whatever the NSA is doing is just peachy, constitutionally speaking:

A federal judge in New York has ruled that the National Security Agency's mass collection of phone data is constitutional, rejecting a challenge brought by the American Civil Liberties Union.
U.S. District Judge William Pauley's decision came just 11 days after a district judge in Washington ruled the opposite – that the agency's "almost Orwellian" surveillance program is likely unconstitutional. The ruling raises the likelihood that the issue will be settled by the Supreme Court.
In his 54-page decision, Pauley said there is no evidence that the government has used any of the data collected for purposes other than "investigating and disrupting" terror attacks.
None of this matters at all, in any practical sense.  If a whole army of federal judges -- and I'm sure there are enough of them to constitute at least a modest army -- were to declare the NSA constitutionally impermissible and order its activities to cease and desist, does anyone imagine that they'd go out of business?  Didn't think so.  Probably the only thing that would happen is that all of the judges' extramarital romances, porn-surfing habits, and other such peccadilloes would "leak."  In any case, it would be made abundantly clear that judges actually command no more divisions than does the Pope (thanks, Josef Stalin).

It's worth noticing, though, for purposes of sour amusement.  Ah, our Glorious Constitution!  Amendment 4 suggests that, absent probable cause "supported by oath or affirmation," and warrants "particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized," we're all secure against searches and seizures.  I say it suggests this because it certainly appears to be no more than a suggestion at best, and really, more like a bad joke.  In practice, it might as well say that nothing shall be searched or seized unless someone receiving a government paycheck feels like searching or seizing it, in which case, it's theirs.

And the judges!  One says the NSA crap is "almost Orwellian" and "likely unconstitutional."  Hmmmmm.  Can we conclude that it would become certainly unconstitutional if and only if it becomes fully Orwellian?  Doubleplus ungood, man.  Then there's the other judge.  Since the government is doing things for purposes he likes, obviously what they're doing is constitutional.  "Constitutional" means "having a purpose that a judge approves of."

Finally, don't forget: it doesn't matter what any judge thinks or writes.  The government has the guns.  It's going to do whatever it wants.

Get used to it.

But that's just the problem.  We are used to it.  And getting more used to it by the day.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

In Which I Agree With the NSA Director (About One Thing)

Check it out: one of the coldest and crappiest leftovers from the Dubya Administration seems to think Edward Snowden should be killed.

Pretty routine stuff.  And I'm sure his opinion is enthusiastically endorsed by the warm & cuddly progressives in the current O'Bomber junta, too.  Ho-hum.

One tiny little fragment of truth does appear at the end of this item:
NSA Director Keith Alexander, however, disagrees with Ledgett.
"I think people have to be held accountable for their actions," Alexander told CBS. "Because what we don't want is the next person to do the same thing, race off to Hong Kong and to Moscow with another set of data knowing they can strike the same deal."
Yes, people should be held accountable for their actions.  Which means that it's actually the John Boltons and the Keith Alexanders of this world that should have dates with a rope and that tall, strong oak.

[via the Lew Rockwell site]

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Regime to Itself: Anything Wrong?

Big surprise: the answer's "no."

Some of this is kind of funny, in a bumbling-totalitarian sort of way:

A participant in a White House-sponsored review of surveillance activities described as “shameful” an apparent decision to leave most of the National Security Agency’s controversial bulk spying intact.
Sascha Meinrath, director of the Open Technology Institute, said Friday that the review panel he advised is at risk of missing an opportunity to restore confidence in US surveillance practices.
“The review group was searching for ways to make the most modest pivot necessary to continue business as usual,” Meinrath said.
Headed by the CIA’s former deputy director, Michael Morrell, the review is expected to deliver its report to President Barack Obama on Sunday, the White House confirmed, although it is less clear when and how substantially its report will be available to the public.

"Less clear when and how substantially its report will be available to the public?" Less clear?

Well, let me clarify a little.

Our rulers will tell us exactly what they want to, and they'll do the telling exactly when they want to do it.  And there's no reason to want them to tell us, nor is there any reason to be in a hurry to hear.  Because what they tell us will fall into two basic categories.  The dominant one is the lies.  Yes, most of it will be untainted by any slightest flavor of truth.  Value: zero.

But then, there are the true parts.  There'll be some of that, because they actually do want us to know, in general, that they're doing whatever they want.  It's useful for intimidation, and inculcating a sense of futility and despair.  But it's also necessary to remember that our rulers are human, too, and they have feelings.  And, for a good, warm-blooded tyrant, it's more fun to have your way with people if they know you're doing it.

Now, as we all know so well, the cure for every evil in a glorious duh-mocracy such as ours is located in the voting booth.  Why, we have a two-party system!  If we find our liberties being violated by those creepy old war-and-secrecy-loving Republicans, all we have to do is put the warm, nurturing Democratic Party in charge!  All we have to do is ...

... oh, wait, that's right.  Sorry.  My mistake.  Never mind.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Meaning of Life

I'm going to tell you right here!  Well, not me, exactly.  I'll pass it along from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, from the end of chapter 30 ("The Old Doctor") of his novel, Cancer Ward.  I think this may be the most beautiful and profound couple of paragraphs I've ever read, anywhere.

He had to take frequent rests nowadays.  His body demanded this chance to recoup its strength and with the same urgency his inner self demanded silent contemplation free of external sounds, conversations, thoughts of work, free of everything that made him a doctor.  Particularly after the death of his wife, his inner consciousness had seemed to crave a pure transparency.  It was just this sort of silent immobility, without planned or even floating thoughts, which gave him a sense of purity and fulfillment.
At such moments an image of the whole meaning of existence -- his own during the long past and the short future ahead, that of his late wife, of his young granddaughter and of everyone in the world -- came into his mind.  The image he saw did not seem to be embodied in the work or activity which occupied them, which they believed was central to their lives, and by which they were known to others.  The meaning of existence was to preserve unspoiled, undisturbed and undistorted the image of eternity with which each person is born.
Like a silver moon in a calm, still pond.
And there you have it.  Every now and then, calm down.  Be still.  And become a perfect mirror for that which you neither made, nor dreamed up.  And I'll try to do the same.


Friday, November 15, 2013

Two Wheels, Human-Powered, Part IV: Tour de Gruene

Three posts in one day?  It's a Chestnut Tree Cafe record, for sure.  Most unlikely to be surpassed anytime soon.  Or ever.

I just got back from visiting my sister and her family in San Antonio, Texas, where I also rode in the Tour de Gruene.  Gruene is a small town near New Braunfels, which in turn is close to San Antonio.  The first thing I learned after arriving is the correct pronunciation of Gruene: you completely ignore the letter U and say "green."  It's that simple.

The Tour consists of recreational tours in several lengths, plus a set of individual and team time trials.  I tried too late to sign up for the individual time trials and was on standby in case someone didn't show up, but was not called.  Next year, I hope, I'll do better.  Meanwhile, my sister and her grandson (I believe that makes him my great-nephew) also wanted to ride.  They are not really experienced riders, so we opted for the shortest recreational tour, which was 35 miles.  (There were also routes of 45, 55, and 65 miles.)  My sister, who is senior to me by three years, was on a hybrid touring bike, while my great-nephew was using a mountain bike which he uses to go to and from school (a mile each way).

The team, ready to go.

I should stop here to note that this was the largest group ride I've ever seen.  Based on bib numbers, I think there must have been close to 3,000 people in all.

Now, my sister, as you can see, is quite fit.  But as it turns out, she must not have been feeling like cycling that particular morning, and she returned to the start after a few miles.  My great-nephew, however, was game to continue, so on we went, at an easy pace.  He was at a substantial disadvantage relative to the other riders: inexperienced, young (I don't think I saw anyone else who was near his tender age), and on a bike that is ill-suited to distance touring, given its heavy frame and wide, aggressively-treaded, low-pressure tires.  But he was undaunted.  "Quit" seems not to be in his vocabulary.

The touring route was promoted as "hilly."  Well, it was, although I was fresh off the Thriller Ride, and the slopes seemed pretty gentle to me.  My great-nephew, understandably, needed to walk his bike up a few of these hills.  But he was far from alone.  I saw lots and lots of twenty- and thirty-something riders on lightweight road bikes doing the same thing, when I hadn't even needed to shift to my smaller chainring yet (although I did need it for a couple of the hills).

Look at all those Texans behind the boy.  Many are walking their fancy road bikes up a modest hill.  Soft, they are -- very soft.

Quite a lot of the route followed the Guadalupe River.  It was very scenic, in an un-midwestern kind of way.  Trees in southern Texas tend to be kind of low and bushy.  But that makes for a very, very big sky.  I could get used to it, I think.

Lots of people go tubing on the Guadalupe.  Isn't that water nice and clear?  And this was one day after it flooded!

Check out that big sky.  It was a perfect day; high was 71°F, and not a cloud to be seen.
The Tour de Gruene is connected with a German-heritage festival in New Braunfels called "Wurstfest," and our Tour registration packets contained "free" admission tickets for Wurstfest.  It was a great time, later that evening.  Here we are, queued up for chow.  I enjoyed "pork chop on a stick."  Sounds unusual; tastes really good.

Mmmm, Wurstfest!  That's my younger great-nephew down in the corner, leaning on his big 35-mile-riding brother.

Looking forward to next year!  Hopefully, I make it into the time trials then.

Two Wheels, Human-Powered, Part III: Thriller Ride

Looking back a month, to October 12, the Cumberland Valley Cycling Club put on the 2013 edition of their Thriller Ride, and I was there.  "There" is London, Kentucky, right off I-75 a little north of the Tennessee state line, and they have hills.  Boy, do they have hills!  I'm sure there's places with more hills, but I don't know that I want to ride my bicycle in any of those places.  I found Laurel and Jackson Counties, KY, to be quite sufficiently challenging.  This was a 64-mile mass tour.  Now, if you ride much, and you're on decent equipment, 64 miles is not all that far to ride, as long as you don't mind devoting half the day to it.  But that's in the flatlands where I live.  In southeast Kentucky, those 64 miles often seem to aspire to verticality, and the tour gets a little challenging.  It's also breathtakingly pretty country.

It was about six hours' driving for me to get to London, so I elected to travel the day before so I could sleep on-site.  This was a good idea.  After the ride, I returned the same day, which was tiring but necessary, since the choir was singing at church and I was scheduled to be half the bass section (we have quite a small choir).  After I arrived in London, I realized that I didn't know when the starting time was for the ride on Saturday.  So I showed up at about 7:30 am, thinking that would surely be early enough.  It was.  I had an hour and a half to kill before the 9 am start.  I spent part of it napping in my truck.

I won a prize for being the first rider to check in: a certificate for $15 off from Road ID.  I used it, too.

As the proper start time approached, riders started to gather.

Hey, the sun's up!  Can you tell which way it is to the start?

It was a little chilly at the start, but we soon warmed up nicely.  This was partly because the air got warmer as time passed, but mostly because we didn't have far to go before we got to the first 12% uphill slope.  Twelve per cent doesn't sound like a lot, does it?  Yeah, well, go try it.  That's one meter of vertical for every eight meters of horizontal.  It'll get your attention.  I knew about the 12% because whoever had marked out the route had also painted the "12%" on the road surface.

Your humble reporter, laboring up one of the Thriller's hills.

The most severe slope wasn't labeled numerically, though.  I found out later it was a 17% gradient, but it was marked simply by the words "SWEET MOTHER."  Truer words have never been painted onto asphalt.

Every uphill implies a subsequent downhill.  These downhills, however, were simply a different sort of problem.  My highest available gear ratio didn't let me pedal long on most of those downhills, because I was just going too fast and the legs couldn't keep up.  So I'd freewheel down until my speed exceeded such values as 35 mph -- which doesn't sound like much to us motorists, but is scary-fast on a bike -- and then I'd start riding the brakes, wondering how bicycle brakes behave when they get hot.  (I didn't notice any particular problems, by the way.)  I'd never been on these roads, and lots of times, you couldn't really see what was coming up.  Frequently, there was a STOP sign at the bottoms of these hills.  You definitely had to keep your head up at all times.

The Thriller Ride was so named because Hallowe'en was coming up, and provided the general theme.  The captivating ladies at the SAG stops disguised themselves charmingly as witches, but I certainly didn't see a wart or a hooked nose anywhere.  What I did see, gratefully, included water, bananas, apple slices, orange segments, grapes, cookies, and everything else that you need to keep body and soul together on a challenging ride.

Witches?  I don't think so.  Angels of mercy, in disguise.

You meet nice people at these events.  Mr. Larry Erhardt and I seemed to be riding at about the same pace and in proximity, so we decided to ride the tour together.  He's from the Cincinnati area.  When I return to London next spring for the Redbud Ride, I'll be looking for him.  He takes a unique approach to the occasional problem of being chased by dogs.  I've seen some cyclists who carry pepper spray.  Larry carries dog treats.  He pretty much tosses one to every dog encountered, whether it chases or not.  Seems like a good thing.

Yes, I'm the one catching flies.  Lesson: either talk or get your picture taken, but not both at once.
The obligatory event T-shirt, modeled here by your humble reporter, reflected the Hallowe'en theme.  We rode past more than a few homes with elaborate decorations, too.  Those folks do love their Hallowe'en.

The nose on that skull ... yeah, looks like a set of TruckNutz to me, too.  What were they thinking of?
All in all, a great ride.  I hope to return next fall for another lap.

Two Wheels, Human-Powered, Part II: Tour de Donut

Question: how can you gain weight by riding in a 32-mile bicycle race?  Answer: enter the Tour de Donut.

Roger and Christina Bowersock put on this event on the Saturday after Labor Day each year, in (or, well, starting and ending in, anyway) the small town of Arcanum, Ohio, which is not far from Dayton.  It's a race, but probably not too serious a race for many of its participants.  And I was there for my second Tour de Donut on this past September 7.

How does the race work?  There's an entertaining video that explains it in some detail.  Briefly, though, there are two locations on the course at which the riders stop and eat donuts.  For each donut eaten (and held down, at least to the finish line), the rider gets five minutes deducted from his or her time.  The number of donuts is tracked by volunteer workers who mark them on the rider's bib.  All donuts must be eaten at the stop, not carried away.  At the finish, another volunteer records the number of donuts, and thus the rider is credited.

Wanting to sleep onsite the night before (Arcanum's a couple of hours from my home), I took advantage of a good deal offered by the Faith United Methodist Church, located about two blocks from the start-finish line.  For $25, you get sleeping-bag space on their floor plus a very good spaghetti supper, including bread, salad, and dessert, the night before.  Whoever makes the spaghetti sauce does an exceptionally fine job of it, too.

My Tour de Donut home-away-from-home, for the second time.  Highly recommended.

Timing is done by RFID chip, so there's no hurry about getting to the start line.  And that's just as well; as you can see, the population of Arcanum is swelled considerably by the Tour.  I was fairly near the front of the crowd, but I hear it takes about 15 minutes after the gun before the last rider crosses the timing mat.

More than a few folks are gathering for the 8:30 start.  It's quite the crowd to be a part of.

The 2012 Tour was my first, and I was on older, heavier equipment.  That year, I took 2 hours and 4 minutes (and some seconds) to get around the 32 miles, eating two donuts at each stop for a total of four.  That got me 35th place out of 163 men, aged 51 and up, in "raw" time, and 32nd place in net or donut-adjusted time.  This year, I was on my newer, lighter bike, and I opted for a different donut strategy:  I didn't stop at the first stop (it's optional), and I ate two donuts at the second stop, and did it all in 1 hour 44 minutes (and, again, some seconds).  This year, there were 211 men in my 51-and-up age category, and I came in 20th in raw time, but a poor 40th in donut-adjusted.

I took this just after finishing.  Note that there are relatively few riders in the shot.  Not to boast or anything, but that's because most of them are still out on the course, somewhere behind me!

Now, please don't laugh, but I went into this race intending to win it.  And when I finished, I thought maybe there was some chance I'd done that, because I'd been keeping track of who passed me.  Of those who did, it seemed to me that they were all younger folks.  I saw no fellow geezers go by.  On inspecting the results, however, I see that I can forget about ever winning this event, either in raw time or donut-adjusted.  The guy who won the raw time this year made no donut stops and finished in an hour and 19 minutes; that's 25 minutes quicker than my time.  Okay, knock off five minutes for the donut stop that I made and he didn't; he was still 20 minutes faster.  Now, I could train a lot harder and maybe reduce my time by a minute or three; but there's no way in this universe that I can ride that course 20 minutes faster than I did.  Whoever that guy is, he's just a way-better cyclist than me.  Similarly, the donut-adjusted winner finished just a couple of minutes quicker than I did.  But he did so while eating: twelve.  Twelve.  Freaking.  Donuts.  Again, there's no way for me.  If I had eaten a dozen donuts, I'd probably still be out there somewhere in Darke County, Ohio today.  And still puking, no doubt.

I'm here to tell you, though, that there's nothing like a race.  It's easy to find organized rides or tours; around here, you could do one most every weekend throughout the season.  And I enjoy them.  But a race -- that's different. I went pretty hard.  I turned that last corner and hit that last six blocks or so, on the brick-paved main drag in Arcanum, with the finish-line arch in sight, going as fast as I possibly could, with people in the area being nice enough to ring some cowbells and even cheer a little.  Across the finish line, I could just barely walk.  But that huge rush of endorphins you get at that point ... I'm not going to say that it's "better than sex," but I will say it's better than some sex.  It's amazingly gratifying.

So now you know how to gain weight while riding 32 miles.  And have a lot of fun in the bargain, too.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Oh Boy. We Got a Government Again. A Suggestion:

The Washington Post informs us that the museums, memorials, and other idolatrous altars to state power are again open for worship.

Please, people.  Ignore them.  Don't go near them.  Let them gather dust in silence.  Please.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

No Government! Oh, No! Nooooooo!

I see in the news this morning that we have no government.

Hmmmmm.  What does this mean?

To start with, why do I say "no government?"  What about the states and localities?  Don't we have all those multiple levels of supervision?  Well, of course we do.  But those aren't real government.  Those are just the local satraps.  Those are just provincial underlings.  Yes, of course they get to point guns at us -- that hardly makes them unique; pretty much everybody gets to point guns at us -- but in terms of Holy Policy, in terms of the Rules, these local underlings themselves rely completely on that swampy little corner of Virginia and Maryland for their own supervision.  So, I'm sorry; but in real terms, we have no government.

But once again: what does that mean?  Let's summarize.  Here, we read:
Monday afternoon, Mr. Obama had described the potential closures in the case of a shutdown. He noted that “every one of the parks and monuments” would be immediately closed. That process began early Tuesday as park officials restricted access to some of the country’s most iconic locations and barricades went up to keep out tourists.
About 8 a.m., the steps of the Lincoln Memorial were being taped off by National Park police and metal barricades erected, and tourists were being turned away. 
 [ ... ]

The National Zoo in Washington closed its gates to tourists. Zoo officials said they planned to flip off the two cameras that feed images to the popular “Giant Panda Cam” Web site for fans wanting to watch the rare new panda cub that was born last month. As of 6 a.m. Tuesday, however, images of the pandas were still streaming.
A message on the zoo’s Web site said that “all vehicle, pedestrian, and bicycle paths into the zoo will be closed. None of our live animal cams will broadcast.” The Web site added that “all the animals will continue to be fed and cared for. “
But, here:
The federal government was then left essentially to run out of money at midnight, the end of the fiscal year, although the president signed a measure late Monday that would allow members of the military to continue to be paid.
This basic concept will no doubt be familiar to everyone who remembers previous so-called "government shutdowns."  The government isn't shut down at all.  Instead, its functions are being separated.  Think of it in terms of the old economics-class "guns and butter."  The butter -- the nicey-nicey stuff, the national parks and the space program and all those things that they want you to think of, when you think of them -- that's all off, and in as showy a way as possible.  The guns, though: that's the true essence of government, and, believe you me, that's purely business-as-usual.  The drones will still fly and kill.  Our supervisors' bodyguards will still be getting their pistol practice in.  DEA goons will still kill anyone they feel like killing, as Officer Safety will continue to be Job One.  And perhaps the guy who hung the CLOSED sign on the National Zoo will then be off the job, but think for a moment: what if you or I decide to push through the tape and go have a close look at the zoo, or the Washington Monument, or whatever?  Think there won't be somebody with a gun still "working" who'll show us what a bad idea that is?  Those folks will be working overtime.  And getting paid for it, too.

Do you suppose O'Bomber will have to make his own coffee?  Do you suppose Michelle will be darting about in that vast, unfamiliar kitchen, whipping together a little grilled-cheese sandwich for the Presidential Lunch?  Do you think our legislative supervisors will have to go out to Subway for lunch, owing to the Senate Dining Room being closed and deserted?

Yeah, me neither.

Remember: guns 'n' butter.  No butter (for some); but lots and lots of guns.  In fact, I'll bet the rent money: more guns than ever.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Two Wheels, Human-Powered

Back in 2008, I was rehabbing a quadriceps tendon surgery and looking for some variety in my cardio exercise, and I went to a "spinning" (indoor cycling) class at my local YMCA branch.  I was immediately hooked.  It was intense cardio, it was fun, the instructor was (and remains) just about the most beautiful woman ever to walk the earth, and my knee got very much stronger, very fast.  I've been spinning at least three mornings a week at 5:15 am ever since, and my day-job retirement didn't change that at all.  But it wasn't until early last year that I bought the first actual bicycle I've owned since I was a kid.  I found it on Craigslist and paid $50 for it -- turns out, after I learned what ancient road bikes actually sell for, I overpaid substantially -- and rode it all the 2012 season and the first half of 2013 as well.

My ancient Huffy 626: weighs a ton, 1.25-inch tires, and I mostly loved it.
A few months ago, I got to hankering for something lighter and more modern, and I turned once again to the ever-reliable Craigslist.  There, I found a 2010 Raleigh Grand Sport for which I was able to negotiate an agreeable price.  Aluminum frame, carbon front fork, and modern shift arrangements: this one should see me through my riding days.

The new ride.  Lighter, faster, twitchier, and I completely love it.
When we were children, of course we all rode bicycles.  Why ride now as a grownup?  Well, there's the exercise; you can work as hard as you want, just by adjusting your speed.  There's always at least a small chance that your fellow-citizen, piloting a couple of tons of steel and plastic, perhaps daydreaming or texting or just really annoyed at being slowed down by cyclists, may end all your troubles very abruptly, using his or her front bumper or fender.  You may still like dogs; if so, you won't be riding very long before you're cured of that.  You may find races to enter, and there's absolutely nothing that can compare to the endorphin high you get just over the finish line of a race in which you had a satisfying finishing sprint ("satisfying" meaning you're pretty sure you're about to die) and you think you did well.  But here's the real reason: you'll be riding very early on summer mornings, right around sunrise, while very few cars are moving, the air is cool and still, and you'll see things that'll just knock your eyes out.  And since you're carrying your newfangled mobile phone in the pocket of your bike shorts, you might even grab a picture every now and then.

Looking north on Hand Road in northwest Allen County.

Looking east from the same spot.  Not quite sunrise yet.  Plenty of mist in the air.

From Old Lima Road.  Sun's just up now.

Another day (September 21, in fact, just a few days ago).  Westbound on Hursh Road, on the interstate overpass.  That moon will be setting soon.
So, if you're situated such that you could possibly get out and ride, allow me to recommend it.  If nothing else, it will develop your humility to be seen in public, wearing a bike helmet: headgear so supremely goofy that even those guys in the Tour de France look like clowns in them.  It builds character!

Friday, September 20, 2013

And Now, For Something Completely Different

I'm still antistate, but I find this morning that I can't bear to write about the hideous crimes of our rulers.  In fact, that's been the case for weeks now ... hence, no posts.  No doubt I'll be back at my old familiar lemonade stand soon enough.  Meanwhile, I'll discuss engineering.

I'll start by saying that my wife and I are the "owners" (slaves might be more like it) of one cat, but we have two cats living in our house, and have had since March of this year.  That's because my sister-in-law is also a cat-owner, but encountered profound medical problems in March that did not allow her to care for her cat.  So we acquired a long-term guest cat.  Ours is an upper-middle-aged male named Tybalt:

Yes, Tybalt's name was stolen from Shakespeare.
The guest cat is a young calico female:

Meet Eleanor, or Ellie as her friends call her.  No idea where that name came from.
Tybalt is and always has been devoted more or less exclusively to my wife; he's very much her cat.  Ellie, on the other hand, is fairly partial to me.  As a result, I'm not sure how I'm going to give her back when the time comes; I am smitten.  But that's a heartache for another day.  And I claimed I was going to discuss engineering, so I will do that now.

Cats have individual bathroom habits and practices, and when Ellie arrived, we found that her litterbox style differed substantially from Tybalt's.  Ellie is quite energetic and enthusiastic about burying her waste.  Indeed, she buries it so wholeheartedly that the litter tends to be launched from the box.  She's a thrower.  At first, I attempted to mitigate this tendency by spreading newspapers under her box.  It quickly became clear that, in order to be effective, this approach would require half the room to be carpeted in newspaper: unsatisfactory.  So I put on my engineer hat and dreamed up a solution: the Litter Retention Superstructure, or LRS.  Here we see the prototype.  As you can tell, I'm a better engineer than I am a craftsman.  Most things that I build look as though they were constructed by unusually-clumsy orcs.

LRS prototype, as implemented by the Fighting Uruk-Hai.
Now, as rough as this thing looks, it proved supremely functional.  It's big enough for both cats' litterboxes, the cats liked it, and the litter stays inside, where it's easily cleaned up using the little whiskbroom and dustpan visible at left.  A few months ago, when my sister-in-law's problems prematurely appeared to be over and I thought Ellie's return to her was imminent, I constructed LRS Production Model 1 with the intention of sending it home with her.  That didn't happen, so it's still stored in my garage.  It's scaled down for a single litterbox and constructed with a little more attention to detail and finish.  I must apologize for the garish primary-yellow color; but when you purchase your latex enamel by the one-quart can, you must choose from the colors found on the shelf, and the palette was pretty limited.

Hey, Grizhnak made himself a cat's-paw stencil!  Cute.
But now, here's the engineering lesson learned.  Notice that little platform attached to a corner of each LRS unit?  In the case of the prototype, it was obviously added after the original construction, no?  What happened was, I noticed that when a cat wanted to use the litterbox, he or she would first jump up and balance on an LRS wall edge in order to reconnoiter the interior and choose a place to land inside.  Reasonable, right?  So I thought, a cat would like it better if there was a larger and easier place to jump up on and look things over before going all the way in.  So I added the Hesitation Platform.  After I did so, both cats ignored it completely.  I'm guessing that, to a clever and agile creature such as a cat, balancing on the edge of a piece of 3/4-inch plywood is trivially easy.  By the time it was established that the cats had no use for a Hesitation Platform, I had already built LRS PM1 ("The Yellow Submarine") with one included.  This doesn't mean that the Hesitation Platform has no function, however.  The one on the prototype LRS has proven ideal as something against which I can bark my shin if I'm careless while walking past, or servicing the litterboxes within.  So it's a character-enhancement device for me.

Actually, two engineering lessons are available:

  • Never assume that your customer wants a particular design feature just because it seems desirable to you.
  • Sometimes, you have to incorporate a feature in order to discover what its true function really is.  Solzhenitsyn said, "Things know their place;" I will venture to add, "things know their function, too."

Monday, August 26, 2013

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Crooks Reforming Crooks

Don't be fooled by our supervisors pretending to investigate themselves:
The Obama administration on Wednesday declassified opinions from a secret court that oversees government surveillance showing the National Security Agency was broadly collecting domestic Internet communications of Americans and misrepresenting the scope of that effort to the court.
The three opinions include one from October 2011 by U.S. District Judge John Bates, who scolded government lawyers that the NSA had, for the third time in less than three years, belatedly acknowledged it was collecting more data than it was legally allowed to.
"NSA acquires valuable information through its upstream collection, but not without substantial intrusions on Fourth Amendment protected interests," Bates wrote.
 The FISA so-called "court" being misled by the NSA is an interesting concept, on the order of Tessio being misled by Clemenza.  Both are fully-integrated components of the same organized crime family.

The US regime is quite clear on who its enemies are.  Its enemies are anyone and anything other than itself, with a few minor exceptions: subordinate toadies like the UK regime.  Bradley Manning is the enemy.  Edward Snowden is the enemy.  Julian Assange is the enemy.  And, by the way, you're the enemy.  As am I.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

It's Very Simple, Really

Representative Morgan Griffith finds himself dealing with a real conundrum:
Rep. Griffith requested information about the NSA from the House Intelligence Committee six weeks ago, on June 25. He asked for "access to the classified FISA court order(s) referenced on Meet the Press this past weekend": a reference to my raising with host David Gregory the still-secret 2011 86-page ruling from the FISA court that found substantial parts of NSA domestic spying to be in violation of the Fourth Amendment as well as governing surveillance statutes.
In that same June 25 letter, Rep. Griffith also requested the semi-annual FISC "reviews and critiques" of the NSA. He stated the rationale for his request: "I took an oath to uphold the United States Constitution, and I intend to do so."
Almost three weeks later, on July 12, Rep. Griffith requested additional information from the Intelligence Committee based on press accounts he had read about Yahoo's unsuccessful efforts in court to resist joining the NSA's PRISM program. He specifically wanted to review the arguments made by Yahoo and the DOJ, as well as the FISC's ruling requiring Yahoo to participate in PRISM.
On July 22, he wrote another letter to the Committee seeking information. This time, it was prompted by press reports that that the FISA court had renewed its order compelling Verizon to turn over all phone records to the NSA. Rep. Griffith requested access to that court ruling.
The Congressman received no response to any of his requests. With a House vote looming on whether to defund the NSA's bulk collection program - it was scheduled for July 25 - he felt he needed the information more urgently than ever. He recounted his thinking to me: "How can I responsibly vote on a program I know very little about?"
Let me help him out.


Dear Representative Griffith,

You vote "no."  You vote to defund.  You vote "no" on any budget, or other form of appropriation, containing so much as a single penny for NSA.

You're very welcome,

   --- Jim Wetzel

Saturday, August 03, 2013

What's the Point?

I'm reading that The People's Deputies in the US Congress may soon be making some more well-intended efforts at putting some limits around our growing Stasi-style surveillance regime:
Members of Congress are considering 11 legislative measures to constrain the activities of the National Security Agency, in a major shift of political opinion in the eight weeks since the first revelations from whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The proposals range from repealing the legal foundations of key US surveillance powers to more moderate reforms of the secretive court proceedings for domestic spying. If enacted, the laws would represent the first rollback of the NSA's powers since 9/11.
The Guardian has spoken to six key lawmakers involved in the push to rein in the NSA, and those involved in the process argue there is now an emerging consensus that the bulk collection of millions of phone records needs to be overhauled or even ended.
Justin Amash, the Republican congressman whose measure to terminate the indiscriminate collection of phone data was narrowly defeated 10 days ago, said he was certain the next legislative push will succeed. "The people who voted no are, I think, hopeful to get another opportunity to vote yes on reforming this program and other programs," he said.
In the Senate, Democrat Ron Wyden said there was similarly "strong bipartisan support for fundamental reforms", a direct consequence of revelations about the nature and power of NSA surveillance. "Eight weeks ago, we wouldn't have had this debate in the Congress," he said. "Eight weeks ago there wouldn't have been this extraordinary vote."
All right, and I will go ahead and attribute good intentions to most or all of these legislators, Rep. Amash in particular. I have a question, though.  Amendment 4 of the US Constitution seems fairly clear and simple:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
If Amendment 4 is being ignored -- and it is -- by our commissariat, and if Amendment 4, like the rest of the Constitution, is effectively wastepaper as a result -- and it is -- then what makes these folks think anything they would pass, even if signed into "law," would fare any better?  If the triple-secret rubberstamp FISA court uses the Bill of Rights to wipe its highly-classified butt on, what higher use will they have for an Amash amendment, or its possible equivalent (even assuming the Peace Laureate signed it)?

Fellow subjects, the regime is lawless.  From the secret FISA court, to O'Bomber's kill lists, clear down to the local thug cops who beat, tase, and kill at will, basically for funsies and with no legal repercussions, they don't follow their own alleged rules.  I don't think they ever really have followed them, but they've lost any semblance of respect for, or fear of, the serfs.  We've reached a point at which they've ceased to make any real effort to cover up their lawlessness any more.  Something may stop this ... but it won't be laws, and it certainly won't be the fabled "ballot box."

Thursday, August 01, 2013

My Face: Unslapped

I'm not sure what it would mean to "trust" Vladimir Putin, the former chekist who was quoted, not so long ago, conditioning Edward Snowden's ability to stay in Russia on his refraining from "harming our American partners."  But I do note, both happily and cautiously, that Mr. Snowden seems to be at least temporarily fairly safe from extradition (or, more likely, rendition) back home to Mordor.

But oh, several Ringwraiths seem mightily unamused:

"Russia's action today is a disgrace and a deliberate effort to embarrass the United States. It is a slap in the face of all Americans," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. "Now is the time to fundamentally rethink our relationship with Putin's Russia."
Any time this senile, psychotic blockhead opens his cavernous mouth, anyone else's attempts to "embarrass the United States" must recede into the noise.  This sawed-off little tyrant is a nuclear-powered mega-embarrassment to any thinking person, American or otherwise.  As for crying about slapped American faces: speak for yourself, bedwetter.

Then there's South Carolina's proudest contribution to the Potomac braintrust, Lindsey Graham:

“Americans in Washington should consider this a game changer in our relationship with Russia. Mr. Snowden has been charged with serious crimes and has put American lives at risk at home and abroad,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said.
“Today’s action by the Russian government could not be more provocative and is a sign of Vladimir Putin’s clear lack of respect for President Obama,” he continued. “It is now time for Congress, hopefully in conjunction with the Administration, to make it clear to the Russian government that this provocative step in granting Snowden asylum will be met with a firm response.”
 Yeah, watch out, Putin!  If you don't give Supreme Drone Commander O'Bomber his props, then Senator Lispy Lindsey's gonna give you a ... well ... uhhh ... a firm response, that's what!

And, speaking of the Peace Laureate, his minion Jay Carney is very, very disappointed.  Extremely so, in fact:

"We are extremely disappointed that the Russian government would take this step despite our very clear and lawful requests in public and private that Mr. Snowden be expelled and returned to the United States," said White House spokesman Jay Carney.
"Mr. Snowden is not a whistleblower" or a dissident, Carney said. "He is accused of leaking classified information. He should be returned to the United States as soon as possible."
 "Leaking classified information."  These days, all that means is that he said something -- almost anything.  Since everything's classified, that is.  Mr. Snowden confirmed, for those of us who may have doubted, that our supervisors view us Americans as their real enemy.  And they are so, so very disappointed.

Mr. Snowden, one measure of the quality of a man is the character of his enemies.  By that measure, you are greatly honored that this bunch of bloody-handed clowns are all lusting so severely for your chitlins.

Read more here:

Read more here:

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Hot Dog!

If I were a much better American, deeply engaged with the political process which selects the optimum persons to lead us and guarantee that we remain the free-est people who have ever been, I suppose I'd be disturbed about the continuing candidacy of a fellow who is a serial photographer of his own sausage and transmitter of the resulting images to young ladies who, presumably, did not want them.  I'd think his candidacy detracts from the solemn dignity of the mayoralty of New York City.

But I'm not, and I don't.  I think it's great!  Sure hope he wins!  Vote Weiner!  Hot dog!

Similarly, a responsible American should have deplored the governorship of Jesse "The Body" Ventura.  And, no doubt, responsible Americans did.

But not me!

And then, speaking of governors, there was Jesse's co-star from that 1987 cinematic classic, "Predator."  Who could abide the idea that so high and responsible a public office as the governorship of the most populous administrative subunit of the monolithically-welded United State of America was infested by a 'roided-out bodybuilder and action-movie box office sensation who was said to have required his female co-stars to provide him with plo jops?

I could, that's who.  Ahhh-nuld!  The Governator!  U-S-A!  U-S-A!

And, speaking of plo jops, remember the 1990s?   When our glorious maximum national leader, the Imperator himself, had to wag his finger at us and emphasize the fact that he did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky?  Which was true, of course, given a suitably-exotic parsing of the term "sexual relations," but ... never mind.

I certainly do not wish to offend partisans of the Democratic flavor of the imperial ruling duopoly, so let's give equal time to Bubba's successor in The Exalted Office of the Presidency.  Yes, indeed, Dubya: a great War President, but only human.  He was, in the end, just one man.  I'm sure he could have defeated any single opponent in a fair fight, but, you know, early in the historic first term, one night Demon Rum and an Evil Pretzel ganged up on him, and carpet-burn city ensued.  Nobody laugh, now!  Actually, there's no need for anyone else to laugh, because I'm giggling enough for any ten normal, responsible people, thinking about The Decider, fuzzily trying to reconcile the biochemistry of ethanol to Newton's law of universal gravitation.  But that's just the way I am: irresponsible.

Wait.  Let's back up for a moment.  I'll make a self-aggrandizing claim here: I think it isn't so much that I'm irresponsible, as that I harbor the childish notion that things probably ought to look like what they really are.  Looked at the "cash" in your pocket lately?  Yeah, it's starting to actually look like something that's based on the full faith and credit of the United States government, isn't it?  You know, the same way that puddle of vodka-puke in the bar parking lot reflects the full sobriety and good judgment of the drunk who deposited it there.

I started to compare the new-version hundred-dollar bill to Monopoly money, but ... really, the Monopoly version looks a little more dignified and grown-up, to my eye.

If we are to be ruled by murderous buffoons -- and why, after all, should we expect anything to change now? -- they might as well look like murderous buffoons.  Although I've sworn off voting, maybe I should go to work as campaign manager for Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho. Doesn't he look like a dynamic leader to you?  A new kind of President for a new century, that's what we need.

Hot dog!!!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Halfway Correct, Anyway

Former prexy Jimmy Carter has stated at least a muted, halfway version of the truth:
Jimmy Carter has come out in support of Edward Snowden, saying the invasion of privacy the NSA whistleblower uncovered has gone too far and had become a restriction on civil rights.

Speaking at a closed-door event of the Atlantik Brucke in Atlanta, Carter railed against US intelligence services and said that the NSA domestic spying program uncovered by Snowden was “beneficial” for Americans to know about.

“America does not have a functioning democracy at this point in time,” the German newspaper Der Spiegel quoted the former US president as saying. There was some question on the validity of the source, however, as no American media outlets reported on the event and it was not clear where Der Spiegel got its source from.

But Jimmy Carter has been openly critical of the NSA in other settings.

“I believe the invasion of privacy has gone too far”, Carter told CNN. “And I believe the secrecy around it was excessive.”

In an article for The New York Times last year, Carter also warned that the United States would “forfeit its moral authority” if it continued to strip away the civil rights of its citizens.
 (Via Justin Raimondo.)

True, the US is not a functioning democracy at this point in time.  However, the US has not been a functioning democracy for quite a long time -- a couple of centuries, really.  The condition is, however, becoming more markedly noticeable recently.

True, Washington's invasion of everyone's privacy has gone too far.  However, the trouble with this formulation is that it implies that there exists some degree of privacy-invasion that does not go "too far."  (There is no such "acceptable" degree.)

And then, I must out-and-out disagree with Mr. Carter when he says that the US will forfeit its moral authority if it continues to violate the rights of its citizens.  No one can forfeit that which he does not have.

Still, Mr. Carter has spoken at least a muddied and timid approximation to the truth, and I applaud him for that.  It makes him much more truthful than 99.9% of all other "public figures."

Sunday, June 30, 2013

All Animals are Equal, but Some are Even More Equal Than Others

From today's issue of the local fishwrap:

A new law extends the charge of intimidation to include using social media to post threats.
•The crime is a D felony if the threat is lodged against an employee of a school, hospital or church. The prison sentence can range from six months to three years.
•The crime rises to a C felony if the target is a prosecutor, deputy prosecutor, judge or bailiff. It carries a prison sentence of three to eight years.
•Threats against individuals and threats intended to interfere with the occupancy of public buildings, such as bomb threats, would be misdemeanors.
 Hmmmmm.  Threaten an "individual" (a mere Mundane), and you're a misdemeanant.  Threaten one of the Priesthood of Coercion (" ... a prosecutor, deputy prosecutor, judge or bailiff ..."), and you're a "C" felon, heading off to 3-to-8 years in the Rape Gulag.  Clearly, some people are much more valuable than others.  Big surprise which is which, isn't it?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Here's to Childish Games

Way back when I was just an itty-bitty little optical engineer, the other kids and I would often be involved in a very simple game that we called "Keep Away."  It was played with a ball or some other easily-throwable object.  One of the kids was "it," and the idea was that the ball got tossed from one person to another while the "it" person tried to intercept the ball.  In other words, the ball was tossed around from person to person while being kept away from "it."

So, Edward Snowden is the ball, and the US is "it."  I just hope the other kids (China, Russia, Ecuador, and so on) are careful with Mr. Snowden.  It certainly is fun to see the Almighty US Hyperpower getting all mad and red-faced because the other kids won't let it grab the ball.

And, for those who still imagine that there's even the slightest, tiniest difference between the Jackass and Elephant caucuses in the War Party, just check out John Kerry in the above-linked news item.  I remember, not so many years ago, when he was being promoted as some sort of "peace" alternative to Gee Dumbya Bush as Killer-in-Chief.  Now, in his official capacity as flunky to the Great Pale-Beige-ish Hope, he's just a-snarlin' with the best of them.  Be sure to vote, now.  Voting changes things.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Waste Contest

Which do you like better: the glorious UK government's 3 to 4 million pounds to put a police blockade around the Ecuadorian embassy to prevent the escape of deadly truthteller Julian Assange, or 60 to 100 million dollars for the First Murderer and family to do an African safari trip?

Each has its merits, I suppose.  The O'Bomber trip has an order-of-magnitude higher cost, but there's always a faint chance that Commander Drone will screw up and drink the water or try to pet a black mamba or something.  And for our British cousins, they're getting off relatively cheap, and I suppose that every law-enforcer standing around an embassy is one fewer to annoy and harass normal people.

You pays your money and you takes your choice, I guess.  For sure, you pays your money; not doing so isn't among your choices.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Wag the What?

Glancing at CNN, I'm thinking that the Albanians are probably glad that Barry Levinson made the film that he did, back in 1997.  Of course it hasn't stopped American administrations from using their default change-the-subject maneuver, but at least the target won't be Albania.  The government probably thinks that would just be too obvious.  Given the attention span of the Uh-murrican public, however, I think they're being unnecessarily cautious.

Thursday, June 13, 2013


Mr. Snowden tells us that "our" government inhales every single bit of data that travels over the internet, and also every single bit of our phone records.  Obviously, this is completely impossible, since we're protected by our famous dead constitution, but somehow he says it's happening anyway.  Who'd-a thunk it?  Well, no one who's been even marginally awake during the entirety of this not-quite-so-new-anymore century is going to be particularly surprised ... but surprise is a little bit beside the point, I think.

Lots of Americans -- most, perhaps -- haven't figured out yet that "if you aren't doing anything wrong, if you don't have anything to hide, why should you care about surveillance?" is actually supposed to be an embarrassing thing to say ... the English translation, more or less, of baaaa, baaaa, baaaa.  But let us suppose, for the momentary purposes of discussion, that this bit of sheepthink actually represents a valid principle.  The government, along with its apologists, is greatly enthused -- obsessive, in fact -- about keeping its millions of secrets.  Why?  Government, if you aren't doing anything wrong, if you don't have bad things to hide, why do you object to exposure?  Let us see every single thing -- without exception! -- that you're doing.  In real time.  After all, this is the Information Age, when technology makes it all possible, no?  Let's go for it!

In keeping with the modern principle that everything has to be upside-down, we see that individuals aren't permitted to have privacy, while the ruling class seeks to enjoy total and absolute privacy.  It should, of course, be exactly the other way around.  There should be, on principle, no such thing as a government secret.  Not one.  Never-never-never.

I haven't come up with an individual response to the phone-records thing.  But PRISM, on the other hand ... bear with me a moment while I compose my new email signature file, optimized for the enjoyment of the screening software that our masters are no doubt employing.  Let's see ...
The above email is actually not related to terror, bombs, hijackings, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Pakistan, radical Islam, jihad, or any of that stuff.  It does not concern itself with anthrax or ricin or sarin or improvised explosive devices.  It expresses no particular opinion about whether Allah is the only God and Muhammad is his prophet (which, by the way, is not the case).  It is not aimed at bringing about Death to America.  On the other hand, it may well uselessly attract some special attention from one organ or another of the Security State.  It might make such an organ marginally less efficient by wasting a tiny bit of its time.  That would be a real shame.  And if most would-be free Americans were to do something similar with all their email ... wouldn't that be a pity?

Monday, May 20, 2013

I'm Easy

In last Friday's post by Arthur Silber, he talks about using the widespread anger over the current IRS "scandal" to achieve some meaningful protest against the national government's evil practices.  He specifically talks about two things: people refusing to file income-tax returns in numbers too large for the government to handle; and truly large numbers of people occupying places like Washington, DC and shutting them down for indefinite amounts of time.  He writes, in part,
Start with a series of ads that are seen and mentioned everywhere: on television, on millions of blogs, Tumblr posts, and tweets. The call to arms can be very simple and direct: NO MORE TAXES -- UNTIL YOU CHANGE! Perhaps it is structured around the no-more-taxes pledge -- and perhaps the day of arrival in Washington, D.C. (and other cities) is Tuesday, April 15, 2014. We have lots of lead time. It could be the story of the century -- and for once, that empty phrase might actually be true.

As a strategic matter, and to encourage as broad a coalition as possible, maybe the call to arms should remain that open-ended: UNTIL YOU CHANGE. I wouldn't presume to suggest a list of demands at any time, either now or months from now. And perhaps such a list isn't needed or advisable; that is how coalitions are splintered. That kind of open-endedness might also be a good idea with regard to the bastards running the government. If millions of people descended on Washington and other cities and actually shut them down indefinitely, if millions of people refused to file tax returns -- well, who knows what the bastards might offer. It might be more than anyone now thinks. In effect, the protesters would be demanding: STOP WHAT YOU'RE DOING NOW -- where "what you're doing" refers to the oppressive, abusive, murderous policies of this government. (As I'm writing this, I think one demand that I would hope everyone could agree on would be that the government unequivocally renounce its claim of a "right" to murder anyone and everyone it chooses. But even that demand might be inadvisable.)
 For myself, I'm inclined to think Mr. Silber has greatly overestimated both the extent and degree of public anger over the IRS business.  But his post did -- as usual -- provoke some thoughts.  When he suggests that it would be a mistake to make a specific list of demands, I suppose he's thinking in terms of the standard left-right paradigm, in which a "liberal" might demand an end to the wars and an expansion of government-provided medicine, while a "conservative" would demand an end to regulation and entitlements, but a continuation and expansion of wars and police-type activity.  That's one of the nice things about having, loosely, an anarchist's political philosophy: I can't think of any government activity or "service," the elimination of which would be any kind of dealbreaker for me.  In the enormous catalog that stretches from the post office and the weather service to torture prisons and CIA murder-drone operations, of course I find some items much more objectionable than others.  But there's nothing so innocuous that I'd part company with another protestor over its elimination.

It may be that there's enough people out there who would be willing to refuse to file income taxes that such refusal would become a relatively safe thing to do.  But even if there are, I don't see how any large fraction of those people are going to trust that the others are there and will act enough to act themselves.  No one wants to be that one guy in Tianenmen Square, facing a column of tanks by himself.  And I don't know what the solution to that problem is.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Simple Solutions to Vexing Problems

It seems that The Greatest Drone Warrior Chieftain the World Has Ever Known, Barack O'Bomber, is unsatisfied with the conduct of his vast murder empire.  So here's a public service from the management of The Chestnut Tree Cafe:

Dear Supreme Death Commander,

A reduction in the size of your built-to-fail jobs program and "defense" contractor profits machine by a factor of about 10,000 would also reduce the incidence of sex crime therein by at least the same factor.  Probably more, since you could then be a little more, shall we say, selective about who participates.  Yes, it's true that the mission would have to be scaled back by the same factor.  A military establishment whose scale is reduced by four orders of magnitude would have to restrict itself to the actual defense of actual US territory against the actual (microscopic) threat of invasion of said territory.  Is that a bad thing?

Admittedly, it's very bad for your corporate masters at LockMart / Gen Dyn / GE and so on.  Again, though: how bad is that for actual American people, as opposed to the astronomically-overcompensated minions of Hell?

You're welcome,

   --- Your friends at the Chestnut Tree Cafe

P.S.  No, no -- no medals for us, please.  Service is its own reward.  Thanks anyway!

Monday, May 06, 2013

How the Ruling Class Lives

Yes, I know, playing golf is undoubtedly one of the least-harmful things these sociopaths ever do.  I suppose that if they spent every second of every day on the course, the flushing-away of our liberties would pretty much cease.  And lots of Muslims would have a better chance of getting through the day alive, and just maybe attending a wedding without being Hellfire'd abruptly out of existence.

Still ... doesn't this gall you, just a bit?  Prexy and a handful of lawfakers tee it up, and that's considered work.  That's their jobs.  Political fundraising and schmoozing each other for "deals" -- in which they win, and you and I lose -- that's their version of working fingers to bone.  These sons of bitches wouldn't know work if it rose up out of the fourteenth fairway and bit them on their well-upholstered asses, which sounds like a pretty good idea, really.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

An Experiment

In the Fort Wayne, Indiana area -- surely a place fertile with red-state fascism -- how long will it be before some brave freedom-lover keys my pathetic, rusty 1998 Ford F150 two-wheel-drive half-ton pickup truck?

Turns out you can buy a do-it-yourself bumper sticker for under $6 from Cafe Press (a little cheaper, even, if you buy a significant quantity).  This internet ... kind of a good thing, in some ways.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Fun With Current Events

I'm thinking maybe it's time to start writing this blog again.  I've certainly had a lot of time away from it, and lots of stuff's been happening in my "real" life, but I'm not really here to write about that.  A friend sent me a screen capture from his television during the recent unpleasantness.  He proposes a caption contest.

The entries so far:

  • Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho, it’s off to kill we go.
  • Thank you for choosing Militarized Police State for all your security needs!
  • This shit ain’t ever going away.
  • It’s for the children.
  • Silly citizen, ARs are for cops.
  • There have been numerous reports that a shop in the neighborhood is selling 32 oz sodas.
I'd like to contribute an entry, but anything I can think of seems to involve such shopworn descriptions as "bucket-helmeted jack-booted thugs," as well as a significant collection of unworthy obscenities.

Trouble is, I can't work up much sympathy for my fellow Americanoes, as a group, since so many seem to be cheering their tiny little heads off at the concept of a city being "on lockdown."  Gee, we're so well-conditioned, we immediately understand the administrative / managerial jargon of totalitarianism, including "no-fly zone" and other such illiteracies.  I chatted briefly this morning with the nice lady at the front desk at my local YMCA, and she was expressing her sorrow that the second bombing suspect had been arrested alive, instead of being summarily executed by the stormtroopers, like the first suspect.  Her colleague, however, was conditionally pleased by the live capture ... his pleasure being conditioned on a heavy regimen of torture being visited upon Contestant #2.

I've changed my mind: I do have an entry for the caption contest:

  • And I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free.
As far as I know, the contest is still open.  I'll pass along any entries that appear as comments.