Sunday, December 30, 2007

Hot Sauce!

I got up this morning, and started making hot sauce.

I made a spicy barbecue sauce.
I made an Asian spicy dipping sauce.
I made a general-purpose flavorful hot sauce.

Last night, I made a small bottle's worth of flavorful but intensely spicy mustard-based hot sauce for a coworker.

Sadly, I am bottle deficient. Now, I'm asking my coworkers for any small glass bottles they have...

Saturday, December 29, 2007

I Am Legend

I knew almost nothing about I Am Legend, except that Will Smith was the lead. Jordy told me that Will Smith played the last man on Earth. I was reminded of Children of Men, except with a single male and unknown numbers of female inhabitants instead of a well-populated, infertile adult population.

I like Will Smith, and I automatically give any movie with Will an extra half a star rating. (Full disclosure statement.) If you don't know anything about this movie, stop reading. Go see it. You'll thank me.






Still here? Minor spoilers follow. I was astonished (and delighted) to find the post-apocalyptic film I was watching featured vampires. Will Smith plays another superman, fitness-model buff scientist warrior Robert Neville. This is a much more full-flavored performance from Smith than the high-budget B flick Independence Day or unabashed money-making vehicles like Bad Boys.

These are the vampires the vamps in Thirty Days of Night wanted to be, vicious and utterly inhuman (but perhaps evolving). They do vocalize some, but since they no longer have human language skills, this actually makes some sense.

Great acting from Smith, excellent plot, pretty good gun handling, good special effects. And a dog, loveable Sam. This is a 4.5 out of 5 stars. They really don't get much better than that. See this film.

Rated PG-13 for intense action and genuine fright but little gore.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Holiday Musing

six pack Corona light
six pack Hoegaarden
2 24 oz Coors Lite
1 framboise lambic
750 ml spiced rum
700 ml coconut rum
500 ml amaretto
750 ml wine
...and two visits to the bar, where I discovered "Dirty Hos" (Hoergaarden and framboise lambic, a thing of wonder and beauty). As you see, I remember the important things about our minivacation to Helen, Georgia.


I'm kidding. I don't remember.



No, I'm still kidding. Jordy, Christina, Scott and I had a lovely time on our visit to Helen. I was occupied at the last minute, and couldn't place the books I have to finish the two incomplete courses remaining from this semester, so I wasn't able to bring study materials with me. Perhaps that's just as well. We had several nice days enjoying the fireplace and beautiful location, and visited Anna Ruby Falls again before we left.

I aced my three instructional technology courses, and have two history courses to complete. I plan on having that done before classes start again in two weeks (fingers crossed).

Happy holidays, everyone. Whatever you celebrate, be well, and I wish you love, joy, and peace.

Friday, December 14, 2007

I Don't Care Who You Are


That's funny, right there.

(And if it's NOT FUNNY to you, get an attitude adjustment, 'cuz yours is out of whack.)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Job Interview and Why the Flu?

I had an interview with the Richmond County Board of Education. Unfortunately, there seem to be no immediate openings for high school or junior high history teachers. This is a shame, because being employed as a teacher would have helped me in a number of ways, including financially.

In other news, The New York Times reports that scientists have figured out why the flu spreads more in winter. The flu is spread through the air in droplets. The droplets accumulate more moisture and fall to the ground under higher humidity conditions. Temperatures in the low 40s also seemed to be ideal for flu transmission.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Niceties and Dolts

I will get back to my frantic academic work soonest, but I thought I'd make a quick post first.

I've been fairly heavily involved on internet discussion boards since about 1998. I've been a moderator or admin on two large boards. I want to play nice with people, but some people...I guess I think that some people occasionally can't understand politely circuitous dialog. What's particularly irksome, is when disinformation is what the obtuse poster is passing along.

One of my least favorite pieces of "information" is the propaganda that if you, the righteous citizen or service member, ever have to kill another human being, you will be emotionally shattered. FOR EVAR. Rubbish. This nonsense is fairly akin to the idea that no-one can be trusted with dangerous weapons. It's just another attempt to convince dogs we're actually sheep, virtually powerless to defend ourselves, and doomed to eternal regret should that defense ever happen.

Hogwash. Often, what people believe will happen, is what happens. If you believe that protecting your family and getting to go to bed in one piece is a good result, and that no-one has the right to hurt you, a killing need not be devastating.

I am not saying that actions don't have consequences, and there could still be traumatic results ("How the hell do I get blood out of drapes?!"), but I don't think defensive violence necessitates severe emotional trauma. So, anyway, here's my recent post:

I'm sorry, sir, I cannot believe you.

I'm not trying to thump my chest any, and it certainly wasn't in a home defense situation, but this:
Quote:
Every shooter that downed a bad guy was devastated emotionally. Especially if the wound was fatal. You never get over it

Just doesn't ring true to me. I don't believe it a bit. Yeah, traumatic events can affect us, but I absolutely refuse to believe anyone "has" to be devastated for doing what needed to be done. This repeated assertion of yours, even more than the ridiculous suggestion to use birdshot (I have a friend who was shot point blank in the abdomen with birdshot, and walked to the doctor), leads me to ask that you either stop telling us about your fabulous life/work experiences, or email me some credentials.

John, with a stack of bodies to his credit this year...most days, don't even think about 'em...it's sad about the women and kids*, but the shooters shouldn't have hid behind their families.

*some details of this story are incorrect- for instance, the rocket (actually, two rockets) were fired at Tagab Fire Base, not Bagram 30 miles away, etc...


Quote:
My sympathies to those who haven't had enough of life's experiences to recognize that fact.

Could you get off the cross? The kids want the wood for a treehouse.

I mean, seriously. I'd like to believe almost everyone is well-intentioned here. But it's the intarwebs, so everyone's a SEEL Special Farces commando with 28 years of serving high-risk warrants from High Altitude, Low Opening flight vectars!!!!1111 So, if you have something worthwhile to say, say it, and don't get all hurt if everyone (or almost everyone) thinks their view is just as valid as the next anonymous guy.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Apologies

I can't describe exactly how far behind I am in my studies in a way that will sound believable. I'll be back with more rambling ranting soon enough. Stay tuned.

Oh- and the thought suddenly hit me- WHAM!- yesterday: I'm about to turn 36. And I still have no children.

Monday, November 26, 2007

On the "Weaker Sex", Blissninnies, and Weapons

Breda at The Breda Fallacy discovered an article about female chimpanzees making spears to hunt bushbabies. This article does several things.

It gives the lie to outraged claims that humans are the only species to use weapons.
It is yet another bit of evidence to use while laughing at idiots who believe that it's somehow "unnatural" for humans to eat meat (since our closest genetic link hunts).
It yet another, perhaps unnecessary, proof that those who think violence (they would, of course, equate hunting with violence) is an exclusively male domain are fruitbats.

What is a DiscWorld?






Which Discworld Character are you like (with pics)
created with QuizFarm.com
You scored as Carrot Ironfounderson

You are Captain Carrot Ironfounderson of the City Watch in the greatest city on the Disc – Ankh-Morprok! A truly good natured, honest guy, who knows everyone, and is liked by all. Technically a dwarf, but only by adoption. You’d rather not be reminded that you are the true heir to the throne, but that does explain why people naturally follow your orders…


Carrot Ironfounderson


81%

Gytha (Nanny) Ogg


75%

Lord Havelock Vetinari


69%

The Librarian


69%

Greebo


56%

Commander Samuel Vimes


56%

Rincewind


56%

Cohen The Barbarian


44%

Esmerelda (Granny) Weatherwax


38%

Death


25%


Divinity Drive-By

I was posting a response to a friend, and it turned into a diatribe-y thing, so here it is. Please understand, I am not trying to steal anything that works for any reader. I am indeed responding to offensive ideas that somehow, merely by existing, I need "forgiveness". Anyway, without further ado, here 'tis:

I've read the Bible so many times. I believe I understand it fairly well.

I cannot speak for another's truth. For myself, I reject as untrue and evil a belief that I am nothing more than some entity's plaything, that my sole purpose in existence is for the amusement of some interuniversal dilettante.

It cannot be logical for something that fulfills its design function to be malfunctioning. Therefore, if humanity behaves as it does- and humanity has been created by a being that designed humanity to behave as it does- humanity needs makes no apologies nor beg forgiveness for doing exactly what it has been designed to do.

I do not mean to take away the power of forgiveness. Forgiveness is a powerful thing.

I ask no forgiveness for being me. I ask no forgiveness for living my life. I ask no forgiveness for believing things that help me be a whole person. And I sure as hell wouldn't feel the need to ask forgiveness from the creator of evil, if I wanted to believe the mythos. I believe I have some understanding of cause and effect, and I completely understand the impossibility of a personal deity-in this reality- who is both omnipotent and omnibenevolent.

Some people play with rats and mazes, to test hypotheses. Gods wouldn't need the rats or the mazes. Then again, true gods would be okay with isolation instead of adulation. Ultimately, we have made god in our image- and he doesn't get to criticize our humanity.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Y'All Hold My Beer


This is a (bad) picture of a cyst Davis cut out of my left heel 40 minutes ago. I had it before I entered Army service, and the Army not only didn't take care of it before I deployed, they released me without taking care of it. I've been so busy I haven't acted on it previously, and my Army med coverage expires in just over two weeks. There's no chance I would've gotten it removed in that time.

It's next to a penny for reference. Davis claims I was very brave. He's being generous. He says he's going to write Kershaw Knives and tell them how useful their blades are for impromptu surgery.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

IED Detection Improves

Joshua R. Farley, an Army engineer, has developed a model that should dramatically improve sensor detection of IEDs. Farley has improved detection by reducing the number of false positives sensors return.

Now we get to see if Farley's "virtual model" works as well with boots on the ground.

Now Hear This

The History Channel would like me to inform you that they will kick off a sale tomorrow.

That is all.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Not Quantifiable

"The Capricorn child is often far too serious for his own good. And frequently, it is the fault of one of the parents. This child needs mature but cheerful and happy handling that makes a point of not overstressing duty, responsibility and restriction. There are enough of these sobering elements in the Capricorn temperament already. Exaggeration will only create further problems for the youngster as he grows up...
Young Capricorn is very good at schoolwork and a willing little helper around the house. He enjoys running errands and completing small tasks for elders who display trust in him. He is extremely conscientious and wants to please. He usually enjoys study and reading and has a great capacity for sorting out detail and cataloging data. He is well suited for all kinds of hobbies connected with sciences such as chemistry, biology, astronomy, and the like where he can apply his considerable reasoning abilities."

After spending hours working on the history of military technology- and I'm including theory as a technology, a la' Lafayette Ronald Hubbard- I spent several long hours helping Jordy move and dispose of STUFF in her old bedroom. My god.
Anyway, one of the disposed items was an old astrology book. I know astrology is based on faulty understanding of how the stars moved, and woo-woo mysticism, and will surely be a cause of ridicule from the likes of my friends Marko and Tamara. At the same time, the chances of a random description just happening to fit young Johnny Shirley so well are pretty darn slim. I'm just sayin', There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Success?

I have received spam in Mandarin. I am not sure if this is related at all to my other blog, States of Matter, or just further proof that the PRC will eventually conquer us and take our Doritos. Dammit.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Oddities and Friends

Tommy Galloway was a good friend of mine in Atlanta. We met at the Bujinkan Atlanta Dojo is '97 or '98. I thought about Tommy as I sat in Elmyr in Little Five Points Tuesday evening.

The last I heard from Tommy, I think he was going to move to California to study kung fu. Oddly enough, I'm considering moving to Taiwan next year, where I would learn Mandarin and teach English in a local school. And study Tai Chi.

I Go to Hell

er, Atlanta.

So, despite having lots of stuff to do, I went to Atlanta Tuesday. With Jordy. To see Ani DiFranco.

Now, I like women. I like assertive women. I like assertive women with guitars. I like women who can stand on their own two feet. But...I don't like Ani DiFranco.

I waited with the crowd for DiFranco to appear. I was one of a relative few guys in the primarily bi/les crowd. First out was a spoken word guy who was actually pretty good, until he made light of thousands of American deaths on 9-11 (described in a poem about "My Town" as 'some brown guys came to town...OOGLY-BOOGLY!').

I'm fine with gay folks, people of every color of the rainbow, people who want to believe different things, or dress differently than me, people who choose to eat other stuff, you name it...but the deaths of thousands of my countrymen are no cause to fuckin' joke, bud.

Ani finally came on stage. Despite her annoying voice and that I have never found her lyrics poetic, I soldiered through until she chose to insult me, my political beliefs, and my rights:

the sun is settin on the century
and we are armed to the teeth
we are all working together now
to make our lives mercifully brief
schoolkids keep trying to teach us
what guns are all about
confuse liberty with weaponry
...in my humble opinion
here's what i suggest we do:

open fire on hollywood
open fire on MTV
open fire on NBC
and CBS and ABC
open fire on the NRA
and all the lies they told us
along the way
open fire on each weapons manufacturer
while he's giving head
to some republician senator


Mm, okay. Transference much? I mean, Ms. DiFranco, I get that you're so. Very. Angrrrrrrry. I suggest you find healthy ways to handle the aggressive tendencies you're transferring onto others. Only once you've found a way to be healthy yourself can you really help anyone else.

Anyway, after she got to the part about
if i hear one more time
about fool's rights
to his tools of rage
I'm gonna take all my friends
and i'm gonna move to canada
and we're gonna die of old age


Go! I yelled at the stage to encourage her, before I walked out. But you know it won't happen. I guess it's easy to try to combat nuclear power and individual weapons when you have no clue what you're talking about. Humans receive many times the radiation doses from coal power plants than from nukes. Hell, fish are being poisoned by mercury from coal ash. As older nuclear plants are closed down, and energy demands increase, still more coal power plants will be opened- and even more of our planet will be poisoned. But well-intentioned and empty-headed fools have nothing better to do with their time than protest opening new nuclear sites, instead of protesting inadequate safeguards and standards at coal plants. Dolts.

As I rushed back to Augusta to prepare for the presentation due that night, I mentioned to Jordy that I really wished all the U.S. celebrities that threatened to move to Canada a few years ago, would go. (She doesn't like having these conversations with me.) It's great when people have the courage of their convictions, but I hate people who are all talk.

It's not that I'm a Republican; I'm not. I think the Democrats want to take our firearms and financial freedoms, and the Republicans want to take our moral freedoms. Jordy somehow needs to be more upset at the Republicans, but as I tell her, it's easier to fight when you have guns and money. When you're broke and unarmed, anything can be taken from you.

Monday, November 12, 2007

5 Worth Considering

Ahab suggested five favorite airplanes.

This is very hard, but perhaps will tell a bit about me. There are other aircraft I could list, but some, like the SR-71, are everybody's baby.

#5: Little-sung workhorse, and true winner of the Battle of Britain, the Hawker Hurricane.

#4: On the list because it's different: the Pucara has the classic lines of a jet trainer and ground attack aircraft...but has twin props. Here's one the Limeys took during the little dust-up in the Falklands.

#3: One of the ultimate bad-asses, hitting ground targets and unmatched at knife fight range in the air, is the Harrier VSTOL craft. The US-built Harrier II is even better.

#2: An aircraft I WILL one day buy if I'm ever rich enough. It has gone everywhere and done everything, an attack bomber agile enough that the Blue Angels once flew them, with an incredible tour of duty that began in the 1950s: the A4 Skyhawk. Here's the pretty little girl.

#1: The ultimate hard-hitter, the flying tank, the one and only A-10. Who loves ya, baby.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Cybernetic Moths?

According to a 7 November 2007 LA Times story, scientists at the University of Arizona have finally used the brain of a living organism to directly control a robot.

Unfortunately, the slaved brain was only housed in a tobacco hornworm moth, not in a rapacious cybernetic dinosaur 100 feet tall.

Yay! Articles! Yay!

While I have been frequently meditating on the "I'm a failure" theme recently (odd that grad school would do that, huh), a minor success this month was my first article in SWAT magazine.

Now, if I could just sell 8 more articles, that'd be enough for a semester's tuition...

Image Making

(and Icon Breaking, INC.)

You know, it's great if unity comes to a previously war-torn place. It's wonderful if people can lose their petty differences and celebrate what is good and right in the world. Perhaps that's what this photo shows.








I just think it's funny because it looks like one guy is pushing up the panties of the guy in front of him.

Bunnies. Only Wrong

Courtesy of Joe Powell, I find this.
Yes, this is shameless pandering, but it looks funny. Enjoy.





If YOU like bunnies (and who doesn't, friends?) here are more.
Stolen from Tamara:

cash advance




If only...

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Airplanes Destroy the Atmosphere

The Friends of the Earth claim that air travel is "the world's fastest growing source of greenhouse gases" in a 6 November 2007 CNN article. The airline industry estimates air travel releases about 3% of overall greenhouse gases. The discrepancy between estimated impacts is due to the controversial idea of "radiative forcing", which is a belief that the high-altitude airline emissions cause disproportionate damage.

Environmental groups who argue this point were elated when the United Kingdom's aviation minister this year agreed that air travel was responsible for about 13% of greenhouse gas damage.

I'm not really certain what qualifies an aviation minister to assess environmental impact, but take it for what it's worth.

Monday, November 5, 2007

30 Days of Night

(Mild spoilers.)
Last night Jordy and I went to see 30 Days of Night, the vampire flick set in Barrow, Alaska. I was enthusiastic about the film after reading about it on Larry Correia's Monster Hunter blog.

The film is appropriately dark and atmospheric at the beginning, which fits both the real-life weather and helps to set the emotional tone. The crisis begins building, but stalls. The survivors seem unable to make the logical connections to combat what they are facing, and while these vamps are undeniably unloveable, unlike the sleek Eurotrash that often people other vampire films, they have the most annoying and pointless habit of vocalizing for no damn reason.

I stared at the one gay vampire about halfway through the movie as he prowls through a house in which Sheriff Eben Oleson and wife Stella are hiding.
"Mwrowr", he growled. "Mwrowr."
Shut the hell up I whispered through clenched teeth.

It could have been a good movie. It wasn't. Fortunately, Larry is a much better writer than movie reviewer. Buy his book, in which the vampires never pointlessly screech or growl.

New EMP Test Facility

The Alamogordo Daily News reported on 4 November 2007 that an "electromagnetic spectrum research capability" installation opened at White Sands on 24 October 2007.

The new installation features two test chambers, the larger of which is over 100 feet long. The previous EMVAF burned in 2001. The new installation wisely features safety features such as fire retardant materials.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Days of our Lives

They say Every morning's a new day. I suppose that's true, and I suppose it's a happy thought. A new day to learn from our mistakes, let go of past failures, and walk further down the path of our own personal evolution.

Woohoo.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

I Beg to Differ

Good friend Tamara, of the razor wit and deadly keyboard-fu, feels that Fred Phelps has the right to say nasty things about dead service members.

I don't agree- unless they're true. I agree so often with Tamara, she's like my larger, more erudite, separated-at-birth female identical twin, but I can't agree here. To my knowledge, slanderous statements have never been protected by 1st Amendment rights.

Libel is just written slander. Here is Retired Justice William J. Brennan, Jr's description in the landmark 1964 New York Times Co. v. Sullivan libel case: "knowledge that the [published information] was false" or that it was published "with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not." It's pretty obvious that "pastor" Phelps did indeed say malicious things "with reckless disregard" as to their truth. As such, his comments are in no way protected by free speech.

Readers may also find Don Brownlee's 1984 presentation of the "fighting words doctrine" helpful.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

Halloween is not my favorite holiday. I dislike the focus on things disturbing, grotesque, and evil. I do not hate all things about Halloween, though.

I like the crisp coolness that brings back the memories of the few times I was allowed to have fun like other, normal children. I am bemused by the fact that Halloween is the one holiday that seems to be acceptable for young women to wear absolutely scandalous outfits with little censure. Hell, I'm all for freedom, and I'm a guy. If you feel the need to wear a tiny little outfit, you go, girl. I salute your right and ability to do so.

Phelps Gets it in The End

Anti-homosexual/military/American and general douchebag Fred Phelps of the "Westboro Baptist Church" (whose continual existence either proves that Americans at heart are peaceful and forgiving, or that we've become weanies: not sure which) has been ordered to pay $10.9 million in damages to the family of Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who died in Iraq last March. Now if Phelps would just contract an incurable but slow case of flesh-eating bacteria...

This Will Not Be Pleasant

John R. Shirley
EDTD 6231
31 October 2007

“Classroom Discussion: Models for Leading Seminars and Deliberations”

Walter C. Parker, in his “Classroom Discussion” article immediately introduces the importance of free dialog for political purposes. Parker says that “dialogue is the basis of thinking”. Parker equates a lack of free dialog with “dumbing down” a population by an absence of expressiveness. Mr. Parker is concerned that when teachers talk about having a class discussion, this usually involves only “recitation” that the teacher effectively dominates.

According to Parker, there as several major obstacles to using effective discussion in class. He says lack of adequate time and large classes of students are more obvious obstacles, with a lack of effective models and “masked domination” being less obvious and even more challenging problems. He then goes on to give two statements, one from an African-American teacher, and another from a Euro-American “social scientist” to illustrate his point.

The problem with the statements Parker uses to prove his point is a high degree of bias. The first statement, from the teacher, generalizes about what “white people” do, in an offensive way that would not be accepted if it came from a Euro-American speaking of “black people”. What if that “white” teacher said of “black people”:

When you’re talking to black people, they still want it to be their way. You can try to talk to them, and give them examples, but they’re so headstrong...they just don’t listen well...

This quote, altered only by changing “white” to “black”, would be considered offensive and unfair if said about another group, but is somehow considered acceptable coming from the individual who made the statement, and being directed as it currently is? The second statement says that “power relations...are unjust.”

Generalizing what any “color” people do, based solely on the shade of their skin, is prejudicial and highly offensive, and should be well beneath serious consideration in this century. There are three obvious problems about the quote from the “social scientist”: the first, and most obvious, is that the term “social scientist” is an ambiguous term, and appears chosen to avoid giving the genuine academic and professional credentials of the individual in question. Is this person a sociologist? A psychologist? Perhaps this is an anthropologist who specializes in small-group learning environments. Any of these descriptions give academic credence to statements made by this individual, and works towards making statements made by this person academic evidence. Instead, the reader is given a misleading description of Elizabeth Ellsworth, an expert on pedagogical design (with a specialization in media).

The other problems with Dr. Ellsworth’s statement are related to logic. Ellsworth says that classroom dialog rules should assume that everyone has equal right to speak. It is amazing to me, as a relative academic fledgling, that someone with so poor a grasp of logic is allowed to have her own classroom, much less be considered an expert on teaching design. If everyone has equal right to speak, the teacher has no control over the class. If everyone has equal right to speak, there is no actual point in having a teacher, because everyone’s ideas are equally valid. The years of study and work the instructor has invested are without weight, despite his or her supposed expertise. This is blatantly ludicrous.

Dr. Ellsworth’s complete final quote in this article is “...at this historical moment, power relations between raced, classed, and gendered students and teachers are unjust.” “At this historical moment” is essentially meaningless, and is a “throwaway phrase” to make this statement sound more scholarly. Dr. Ellsworth has already said that an equal voice in the classroom is impossible because of these “unjust power relations”. The problem with this intensely true-sounding sound bite from a pedagogical expert is a poor understanding of language.

“Power” means possession of controlling influence . Since Dr. Ellsworth believes that there should be no “controlling influence” in the classroom, it logically follows that there cannot be just power relations”. Parker has wasted the reader’s time and weakened his own argument with his would-be-authoritative quotes.

Parker goes on to describe the methods of two teachers. One uses seminar, while the other uses deliberation. Both methods, as used by the teachers in the article, appear valid and potentially helpful. Either method appears to offer ways to help students gain a deeper understanding of subjects, while also helping them develop critical thinking/”habits of mind” skills. It is a shame that Parker’s introduction of prejudicial and flawed statements early in the article prove so distracting to the reader.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

More Afghan News

The NY Times is reporting that the Taliban ranks in Afghanistan and Pakistan are being swelled with foreign fighters who have come to fight the Great Satan. Since this is similar to the intel we received when I was deployed, I don't find this surprising, though it is somewhat darkly ironic to hear these newer fighters described as "more radical" than the Afghan Taliban.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Humanity

From Marko, we find the story of a Salem woman who was attacked by a scumbag, right next to an apartment building. Emo boy Keith Cole whines about someone being willing to take another's humanity, but evidently did absolutely nothing. A car with three young males and two females stopped and rendered assistance, in the form of calling the police while a royal ass-kicking was administered to 37-y/o Paul Landingham.

Mr. Cole, you're absolutely right, it's despicable that someone would do that to another. You know what's almost as bad? Whiny pansies that won't help someone desperately in need, but who have the gall to look pitiful for the tv cameras. Stop breathing my air.

Missed Opportunities

I applied for an assistantship at ASU Department of Educational Leadership. It wouldn't have paid much, but my tuition would have been waived. It seems all the assistantships have been filled, but if any more monies become available, I'm first on the list. Sigh.

The War at Home

Friend Oleg Volk's neighbor was killed in a robbery Friday night.

Throwing Stones

Friend Holly reports that Fred Phelps- "pastor" Phelps who torments grieving families with foolish and insensitive signs- is being sued by the father of Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder. Phelps and his flock of buzzards had the audacity to be present with signs at Snyder's recent funeral.

If you'd like to assist Albert Snyder in his punitive lawsuit against these SOBs, you can find more information here. To Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder, who died in a vehicle accident while on deployment doing his duty: I'm sorry, son. You deserved better.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Mexicans Missing the 'Merican Money

A NY Times article today reported that money sent from the US to Mexicans, mostly by illegal immigrants has fallen. Surprise! The US is already becoming more like Mexico.

I have nothing against anyone, from any country, coming LEGALLY to the US and working hard for what they have. I cheer and applaud such people when they succeed. What I hate is when people from other countries come to the US because the US is great, and then refuse to become integrated with our culture, and then try to turn the country into something resembling the country they just left. (Hello? If your country was so great, you wouldn't have left, would you?)

Even more than not doing simple things to integrate like, I don't know, learning the language, I despise folk who come here illegally, and then rake in money from social programs. Bleeding our economy without putting anything in. That really fries my bacon.

Be afraid. Very afraid.

And active, for that matter.

H.R. 1955 has passed the House and is now in Senate committee. This bill touts that it aims at combatting "radicalism", which sounds good until one reflects that this appears to be talking about our 1st Amendment rights. The bill description ends with this:

Prohibits the Department of Homeland Security's efforts to prevent ideologically-based violence and homegrown terrorism from violating the constitutional and civil rights, and civil liberties, of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. (emphasis mine)

Um...guys? You're admitting you're trying to sponsor a bill to allow terrorists to violate our rights? Either these politicians have folks who can't write working for them, or they're incredibly brazen. Probably both.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Buy MHI

Larry Correia is taking orders for Monster Hunter International. At $26 shipped (including possibly the coolest patch ever), MHI won't be the cheapest book you've ever purchased- but it may be the most entertaining.

Circumstantial Evidence

The site of what Syrian officials claimed was a warehouse, bombed by the Israeli air force on 6 September 2007, has been swept clean, according to a NY Times article. The hurried cleanup lends credence to claims that the site actually housed a North Korean-designed nuclear reactor.

A New Blog

After deciding a few days ago to add more of-interest news, I realized I am mostly blogging Sino-American stuff. Since forecasting Asian threats is a major interest of mine, I will henceforth only blog incredible, major, "Read it now!" Asian news stories here.

All other Asian news stories will be blogged on my new blog. I give you States of Matter. Enjoy.

Heal the World

Make it a better place
For you and for me
And the entire human race
...

Ken Caldeira, in a NY Times opinion piece, says that the earth will continue warming for decades, even if greenhouse gas emissions stopped tomorrow. Caldeira suggests that high-altitude sulfate particles would reflect back some of the sun's rays, cooling the earth. It's for the polar bears, man.

Mr. Caldeira is affiliated with the Department of Global Ecology at the Carnegie Institution of Washington.

Mornings

The mornings are finally, thankfully, cooler now. I love this, though the additional darkness and chill make it even harder to leave the warmth of my bed. Yesterday morning, I could hear birds chirping before I stepped out on the landing.

On the landing, as I looked around at the early fog, a small brown bird, like a sparrow, but sleeker, landed on the rail less than three feet away, and examined me.

"Good morning," I wished him. He scrutinized me, and flew on his way.

China Heads for the Moon

Chang'e 1, a Chinese satellite, lifted off Wednesday 24 October 2007 at 1805 local. The satellite is destined to orbit the moon for a year. A race of secondary world powers and developing nations seems to be happening, with Japan launching a lunar probe last month and India planning a lunar orbiter launch next year.

China alarmed potential higher-tech adversaries with a January test that destroyed Feng Yun, one of its own weather satellites. First reported by Aviation Week, the asat test was the first known live test to be conducted since Soviet and US tests in the mid-'80s.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Politics and Humor

What's funny about politics? Not too damn much. That's why I'm so impressed when someone can make a political point with humor, as this snip from buddy Larry Correia shows:

In Utah news, we’re having a vote on Referendum 1 next week. It is about whether we should have vouchers in school, which allows parents to take some of that education tax money per kid, and use it to send their kid to a school of their choosing. This of course freaks out the teacher’s unions, because you know, competition is great in every other facet of life in the friggin’ universe, but is BAD in education. I swear that I actually heard the following radio commercial from the teacher’s union.



Concerned Mother: I hear Referendum 1 will cause vouchers, and those will hurt Utah kids.

Concerned Father; Yes, because choice in education is BAD, and will hurt Utah kids. I feel this with my strong emotions.

Concerned Mother: Yes, because private, religious, and charter schools are allowed to beat Utah children with phonebooks. This will take money from public schools, which will cause outbreaks of hoof and mouth disease.

Concerned Father: And private schools teachers aren’t even required to be certified, or pay union dues! This means that Donald Rumsfeld will come to school and actually water board your children.

Concerned Mother: The governor is mad, insane, drunk with power, and must be stopped!

Concerned Child: Mommy… Donald Rumsfeld touched me inappropriately…

Concerned Mother: NOOOO!!!!

Concerned Announcer: Vote no on Referendum 1. Brought to you by the Utah Education Association, George Soros, and the Reptoids of the Hollow Earth.

A True Story

So, for background. At Fort Classified, we have an enormous Tesla coil, which radiates electrical energy outward. This is a historical and scientific curiosity, but is mostly used because it looks cool. Like several other displays on site, this is very dangerous, especially if someone gets very near the fence surrounding the coil. On to the story from, um, Dave.

since telling stories is the best thing to do when one is supposed to be studying...jilly comes to me yesterday with a huge box of florescent bulbs of all sizes. she says, "c'mon DAVE, i want you to help me with an experiment." i was the ONLY person on the top floor, guest or employee, but i didn't want to leave my post, just in case someone came up. so, i asked her what kind of experiment it was.

"well," she says, "i want to see if i can get these to light up if i hold it up towards the tesla coil."

"the big tesla coil?" i ask, a little apprehensively.

"Yep," she says, wide-eyed and nodding like a bobble-head, excited by the magnificence of her idea. "I was thinking that, if it worked, we could bring out this box each hour and let our guests hold the lightbulbs during the lightning storm."

"Umm..." i said, looking for something more polite than "bitch, are you crazy?" and settling for "i don't think that's such a good idea. you're gonna have to stand WAY too close. it's dangerous."

"No it's not," she says, still nodding and smiling. "C'mon, let's go," she says, turning to go.

follow, thinking, well, she's not taking no for an answer, maybe she'll chicken out before it gets too crazy. so, we get to the tesla coil and she pulls out a short bulb (what a 'tard) and holds it out over the rail. standing about two feet away from the rail, but extending the bulb over it.

"are you sure about this," i asked, pausing before unlocking the door. "we have our guests stand at least two feet from the rail for a reason--it's 600, 000 volts."

"it's okay," she said, getting a little uppity and agitated with my insubordination, "now go turn it on."

this is where it becomes morally compromising...everything i knew about the whole thing told me that it was a terrible and extremely dangerous idea...but she was so insistent, and so eager to be an idiot, that i felt like obliging her was just the thing to do. i flipped the switch and waited for the worst.

nothing happened. so, she got closer. i flipped the switch, nothing happened. she told me to leave it on, and she proceeded to get the longest bulb from the box and approached the railing until she was less than one foot from it, with the bulb extended about 2 feet shy of the neon bulbs hanging from the ceiling. i turned it off, i just couldn't watch anymore.

so, then she says, "i know why it didn't work," and goes scurrying off to the power station. meanwhile, i'm sitting on the box with the switches, with a bit of a cold sweat starting to form on my face. i'm realizing that i seriously could have been responsible for electrocuting her, but i didn't really feel all that bad about it. i wouldn't have felt personally guilty so much as complicitly guilty...but, still.

she came bounding out of the power station, with a plastic stool in hand. "i needed an insulator!" she exclaimed.

"i really don't think we should--" i said, but she cut me off.

"just flip the switch," she said, plopping the stool down about a foot from the railing and climbing onto it and sticking out the bulb.

flipped the switch. bulb lit up. she was happy. i was getting kind of sick.

"it worked!" she said, all proud of herself.

"it's a terrible idea," i said, trying not to be completely insulting. "i would not EVER ask a guest to do something so risky. it's ridiculous."

"yeah," she says, "i suppose you're right." then she left, carrying on in her merry, vacant way.

Life, Worth Living

Good cornbread may not, actually, be the only thing that makes it worthwhile to soldier through, but it surely does help. Buddy Matt G shares his recipe, guaranteeing that I will eventually wend my way back towards Texas to share some with him.

For any of you that will admit you add sugar to your cornbread: for shame.

More Chinese Energy Concerns

The Chinese are building more coal power plants, according to a NY Times article today. A lot more coal power plants.

In other recent news, the governments of China and Brazil sponsored a study that tells us something obvious- the Chinese are killing us. Specifically, the new coal power plant a week the Chinese are planning on opening for the next five years.

University of Tennessee officials are sucking up to our future Chinese overlords. I mean, gosh, why not share nuclear technology with them? Yes, it's true that nuclear power plants generate less waste than coal ones, but sharing nuclear tech with the nation probably most engaged in espionage against us seems kinda, I don't know, stupid.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Because You Suck. And We Hate You.

One of my favorite posters inspired by Larry Corriea.

Student Scores

Higher scores on standardized tests may be due to states manipulating data and making tests easier, according to an article yesterday in the Washington Post.

No Child Left Behind creates a frustrating problem for many educators, who find themselves "teaching to the test", instead of teaching material. This means that a large portion of teaching time will be spend specifically on learning how to pass a test. I wish I knew an easier/better way.

China's Energy Needs

China plans to build a 1500 KW wind power plant in Bohai Bay about 37 miles offshore of northern China. China has aggressively purchased oil recently, leading to concerns from the West.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Points of Light


Our Graduate Department of Education has emailed us that the lab requirements for observation in classrooms will be dialed back.

Thank Doug.

(This is Doug.)

Existence

I have often thought that the point of living, for humans, must be to live a good life and rear healthy children that enrich a society. Then again, that's basically saying our whole point of existence is to reproduce.

That seems almost pointless.

Just sayin'.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

This week in the news

I don't usually try to think about politics too much, because it depresses me. While we have had some positive changes for gun owners in particular during the last few years, we as Americans have actually lost more ground than we've gained. The Patriot Act, especially has encroached on our rights more than at any time since the McCarthy era of anti-commie hysteria.
Sources:
McCarran Act
HUAC
And, for the hell of it, here's a picture of Ronnie Reagan testifying before HUAC.

Larry Correia recaps our presidential choices here. If you want to laugh while you're crying, check it out.

Maybe statements like these- given over thirty years before he would become president- are why so many people feel Ronal Reagan was one of the greatest presidents ever:

"99 percent of us are pretty well aware of what is going on, and I think, within the bounds of our democratic rights and never once stepping over the rights given us by democracy, we have done a pretty good job in our business of keeping those people's activities curtailed. After all, we must recognize them at present as a political party. On that basis we have exposed their lies when we came across them, we have opposed their propaganda, and I can certainly testify that in the case of the Screen Actors Guild we have been eminently successful in preventing them from, with their usual tactics, trying to run a majority of an organization with a well organized minority. In opposing those people, the best thing to do is make democracy work."
(From)

In general, I think that's a good policy. Have something that works better than anything else.

MAT and Bureaucracy

We have just been advised that every education class in the MAT program now requires at least 15 lab hours in a middle or high school classroom. Those graduating from a MAT program after July 2008 will be forced to have 300 lab hours. This is due to Georgia State Certification requirements.

The problem with this idea- which might sound good at first- is that students in the MAT program will either have to be independently financially stable, or will have to be employed as a teacher to accumulate all these lab hours and still make enough money to survive. The problem is exacerbated by some counties claiming they will not hire current MAT students*, creating a Catch-22: students need to be teachers to get all the lab hours in, but will not be hired in some counties because they haven't finished the program yet. This is but another bureaucratic annoyance, in this case one that's a headache for the many students attempting to fill the vital need for teachers in this state.


*despite these students being able to work in schools according to GA law, if they have passed the GACE teacher cert

Monday, October 15, 2007

Confusion and Light

Jordy and I drove to UNCG. I think it would be fairly easy for me to get into their graduate program, but Jordy says they don't have the Master's program she's now planning on taking.

Our housewarming Saturday night was a great success. Almost everyone seemed to have a great time, nothing major was broken, and the police were not called. I'm going to give it a 4.5/5 stars.

Even more importantly than a good party- perhaps- Jordy rocked the GRE. And by rocked, I mean she beat my score by 80 points. Woo!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

An Overdue Addition

Hysterically funny and entertaining friend Larry Corriea has a blog that will henceforth be added to the links. Here is a classic post of his from THR. Read.

Dog Paddlin'

This weekend, I was the floor supervisor for the first time at Fort Classified. As I waited for my floor staff to arrive, I realized we had two birthdays, a special event in the movie theater, and we needed two people to help CEO Reginald Dumas at an event at a local school.
And I had five people. You do the math.

Since I didn't end up running the entire building by myself, I guess things must have worked out, mostly thanks to having coworkers that came through for me. Stressful, but if you can pull these things off, it certainly looks good.

I've been feeling like I'm drowning lately. I have lab hours of observation and participation I have to complete in a local high school, so I've been arriving at the school around 0715, sitting in a couple of classes, and then getting to work before 1000. I have two more classes beginning next Monday, and I'm already behind.

I reluctantly went to talk to Blue Leader today. He has been very willing to work with me on my hours, and I know I'm his Great White Hope. I hated to disappoint him by telling him I needed to reduce my hours, but he took it well. I'm dropping from five (or seven, this past week!) days a week down to three. I'll miss the money, of course, but I'm so relieved to know I'll have time to get all my work done.

Jordy and I leave Wednesday to meet with the Graduate Department at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. It's a nice area, and UNCG is our "safe school".

Monday, October 1, 2007

Chariots and Debt

Big Daddy and I spent most of two days this weekend looking at car lots. Jordy had to work, so when we finally ended getting geared up to buy a new Kia Spectra Saturday, she had to rush down to the dealership after leaving work.

The paperwork wasn't signed, but we took the car home. She was very happy. Sunday, Big Daddy said he wanted to look around at some other dealerships, to be sure we were getting the best deal possible. We drove a Toyota Yaris (a neat little ride) all the way down to Fort Classified, and Jordy came downstairs for a short test drive. The Yaris is a great vehicle, but she thought she liked the amenities of the Spectra better.

Jordy came down to the Toyota lot after leaving work, and I pointed out an 07 Chrysler Sebring with 20K miles. She liked its looks, and took it for a spin. Big Daddy, Ryan the Hungover Sales Guy, and I all knew how she felt about it when she started humming a few minutes into the drive!

We got a pretty decent price for the Sebring, but the horrible interest rate made the payments more than the low, low monthly payments for the Spectra, despite its higher sticker price. Still, Jordy loves the car and it should serve us well.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Moves

Sunday, two friends came over and helped move Jordy's bedroom suite. She helped for a while, but then had to leave for work. Jordy seems to have a magical ability to produce...stuff, and then, to make it disappear when she needs or wants it. I love that girl.

Anyway, with all three boy scout types here, no one had rope. We loaded everything on an eight-foot trailer, and it appeared to be wedged in fairly well, and headed out for The Nook. We had just pulled out of Little Momma's subdivision when our tow vehicle flashed its lights at us in the lead car.

It seems the mattress and the box mattress started to shake pretty violently almost immediately, so I ended up riding in the trailer, holding onto the mattress with one hand, and the box mattress with the other. I was feeling my inner redneck breaking free, I can tell you.

We made it to The Nook (only two miles away) with only the loss of my Molon Labe hat (later recovered).

That night, we had our first guests, as Doug, Faith, Christina and Scott dropped by to socialize and watch a movie. Everyone had a great time, and I finally, finally crunched into some Fiery Habanero Doritos. I've been trying to get my hands on these since before I left for Afghanistan. Doritos seems to be going nuts with the flavors now- I'm pretty sure they have Chocolate Chip Muenster Cheese now- but the Fiery Habanero Doritos are the best Doritos ever. Really. Spicy but not overwhelming, and flavorful. Great with red wine or a bubbly soda.

Clayfeet

Saturday, I went to a dear friend's house to retrieve some dishes he was kind enough to let me store when I left for Afghanistan. My god. I searched for over half an hour, straight, in one tiny room, until I found them. I know some folks who are widely respected, and read, in the blogosphere and online community. I love these people.

But I have stood in dirty kitchens, been knee-deep in hair balls, gun articles, and sturdy swords, and stared, amazed, at piles of empty Diet Mountain Dew bottles and discarded potato chip bags. I may be hanging out with someone who has mastered the new rhetoric, conquered the old-style battle reminiscence, or awed the world with artistic talent, but from where I'm standing, they have feet of clay.

Sigh. But I love them. Regardless of what you hear, reality is better than fantasy, and a real, live, steadfast friend is better than any imaginary icon. Even if they can't cook, or keep the world's most untidy home. Warts and all.

So, let's raise a glass to friendship...somewhere else, where I can see the floor!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Hospitals and Reports

Tuesday night Little Momma had to go back to the hospital. Her visit was prompted by a long-term medical issue she has, but with so much time spent in the hospital lately, she really hated going.
I was happy to be able to be there for her, but also missed being able to use that time for working on a report for my SPED class. Wednesday afternoon, I picked up the keys to The Nook, and after spending a couple of hours working on my paper, Jordy and I went to spend a little time in our new place.

And then I came back and worked until 0630.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Riding Home from Class

with the huge illustrated book of Muslim propaganda that Doc Nugget gave me- evidently sent to all members of the ASU history faculty (and perhaps all members of every department), a midsize black dog darted in front of the Grand AM. I slammed on the brakes and honked, fortunately missing the pup, who gave me a puzzled look.

The huge tome hit the floor of the car hard, ripping the binding. I looked at it briefly when I got home.

Every page is full of beautiful pictures, with some variation of "this XXXX has not changed in 100 Million billion years. This proves that evolution is not true." Every damn page.

Now, people should stand up for their beliefs, certainly, but show a little originality, hm? EVERY PAGE?! What the hell?

Anyway, I'm glad I didn't hit the dog.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Editorial

Geekwitha45 had this to add:

After the Danish cartoon thing was artificially whipped into a frenzy 3 or 4 months after publication, Jihadists where quoted as saying, "You have no right to insult Islam."

In full accordance with the laws and ethos of my culture, yes, I absolutely do have the right to fully, with malice aforesight, insult Islam, Christianity, Judiasm, Zoroastrianism, Communism, Paganism, Socialism, Heathenism, or any other damn ism I please.

-All your ism's are belong to me. Screw them, I say-.

Get it?

There are a lot of rights I -don't- have, for example, to incite violence against members of whatever ism, but I most certainly have the right to insult it.


That we are even discussing this, that we even have to re-establish the baseline meaning of freedom of speech amongst a liberty oriented crowd is extremely disheartening.

What has blurred this once universally held line is the concept of "Hate Speech". While I don't particularly hate anyone or thing, and therefore don't have a particular use for it, I categorically reject the concept of "Hate Speech", recognizing it for what it is: an attempt to redefine the meaning of freedom of speech, to chill public dissent and discourse, and to increment us towards the cognitive tyranny of political correctivism.

You Knew it was Coming

If you take an idiot..who thinks he can get away with murder, so to speak (because he has)...who feels slighted...

Can we really be surprised that OJ Simpson appears to have committed armed robbery? I saw some footage Friday afternoon about this on Fox, including some quotes from Simpson, who basically said, who cares, no-one got roughed up...

The Bounty on Chris Muir's Head

To the right on my blog page is my link to Chris Muir's Day by Day, a well-drawn political cartoon. Chris stays much more aware of politics on a, well, "day by day" basis than I do. He chiefly seems to use his work to lampoon the American political left, especially those who do not support our troops, and take extreme, ridiculous stances.

As probably every reader is aware, many radical Muslims have called for the execution of cartoonists who published art believed to be insulting to Mohammed. This became international news in late September 2005, when the Danish newspaper Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten released a page of cartoons about radical Islam. These cartoons evidently badly offended some Muslims, who threatened to kill everybody and their mother, bomb the newspaper in question, and did in fact lead to some deaths worldwide.

It is sad that cartoons, of all things, can lead to some groups' willingness to kill other human beings. In a world filled with violence, disease, and death, surely any thinking person has better things to do than try to kill people because they've laughed at his imaginary friend. What is even sadder and more ironic, are those who've apologized to these infantile terrorists for not taking them too seriously.

My own brother is one of many who created cartoons satirizing "the Prophet", not because of any inherent dislike of Islam, but in the name of freedom of the press. Chris Muir has thrown his hat into the ring today with this cartoon. Realist that he is, he must know there will now be people intent on killing him, if they can. Since he's willing to risk his life to back up his beliefs, take the time to check him out.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Travels and Travails

Little Momma is doing well after her last surgery. Jordy and I are riding up today to Hartwell, to meet with Jordy's two sisters and their families.

I hadn't planned on going, but Jordy's car is in the shop. Big Daddy told me I "should" go, even though I protested that I had lots of schoolwork to do, and that I was busy.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

May This be the Last

Surgery to close Little Momma's back has been postpone twice. She's scheduled to go into the hospital at 0600 tomorrow. Hopefully, this will be the last medical procedure she'll have to undergo for a LONG time.

Someone New

A friend I've talked to on the net since 'way back in 1998, and who I had the pleasure of meeting in the flesh at the end of '03, is finally starting a blog. Nothing there yet, but stay tuned. I know what he has to say will be worth your time.

http://jpg-expertwitness.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Thunder, Fire, and Smoke

Six years ago today, I was getting ready for my job at a wireless call center. I was the sole remainder of a small third-tier group with direct oversight over about forty-five reps, so I could basically choose my own hours. My friend Howard called and told me an airplane had crashed into the World Trade Center. He was unclear, and thought it might have been a small plane.

I worked in a large call center with about six hundred others, and there were monitors around the center that usually displayed news. I know I must have arrived around the time United Airlines Flight 175 crashed, though I cannot now remember if I made it in time to see it happen in real time. I think I did.

I do remember the frantic tracking of remaining flights. I remember the attack on the Pentagon. I remember the finding of the smoking ruin of Flight 93 (I suspected for quite some time that it had actually been shot down by interceptors). I remember explaining to customers on "escalated calls" for the next couple of days that my employer's system was not working for them because we had lost an antenna on the WTC, we had thousands of units in the area seeing heavy use by emergency services, and millions of people were overloading the New York phone system as they frantically tried to contact family and friends. Even more than those things, I remember the aching in my chest and the tears running down my face as I saw the video of thousands of innocent civilians dying as the monitors overhead showed those big commercial jets slamming into the Towers over and over and over again.

Perhaps every day changes our life, but that day led to very obvious changes in mine. I was not married, had no children, and wasn't in a serious relationship. I believed there were three potential responses to the aggression against my country. First, we could do nothing, which I believed would lead to more attacks. Second, I believed we could respond with Clintonesque air strikes (pointless) or a nuclear response which would alienate most of the world. The third option was to put boots on the ground, and this seemed to be the only realistic option. It seemed hypocritical for me to support sending others to fight, and some to die, if I was not at least willing to go, since I did not have the responsibilities of many others my age.

I definitely have paid some costs for my service. One of the saddest was the irreplaceable loss of hundreds of pictures and about five hundred letters that I had stored at a friend's. I know things about pain and fatigue that I had never known before, and I learned that when you're stretched too thin, you have nothing to give to anyone else, and eventually, even to yourself. Some of these costs I am not happy to have paid, but I've had some compensations, too. I've known the joy of brotherhood, the instant response to a threat against the group, and I've known the awful joy of facing your worst fears and continuing. I've seen friends and family gather to support me, and I've even seen total strangers show me love just because of what I symbolized.

When I entered service, I was assigned to an infantry unit in Washington State. After two years there, I left active duty, secure in my knowledge that I was not a hypocrite, and resolved to get on with my life, starting with finishing my BA. Most of you know I was reactivated later, fought successfully (and sometimes deviously) to stay in school long enough to graduate, and did a combat tour in Afghanistan, where I tried to do my job, keep my head down, and have as boring a stay as possible. I am troubled about many aspects of this so-called War on Terror, just as many aspects of the War on Drugs trouble me. Both "wars" continue to usurp freedoms, some of them freedoms that directly stem from rights acknowledged in the Constitution. I further doubt US presence can do much good in Iraq, and doubt the United States will have the commitment to stay for the very long time any satisfactory outcome in Afghanistan will require.

I am certain of this: our conflict in Afghanistan was begun righteously, after attack on civilians in my country. I am also certain that I'm not a god-damned hypocrite. I'm not too sure of anything else, but hug your husbands and wives, boy or girlfriends, and children tonight for all the US service members who can't, and count your blessings.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Additional SPED Thoughts

I wanted to make some additional comments about special education. Every right is an individual right. No such thing as "group rights" exists, only the right of each member of the group.

When it comes to considering individuals with disabilities, I definitely believe that these individuals do have rights, just as everyone else does. The problem comes when the assumption is made that the rights of some individuals (the ones with disabilities) outweigh the rights of all the other individuals, and that seems be the current reality.

An additional factor in the discussion is the "right" of "free" schooling to all citizens. I am not certain I believe in any such right, and of course schooling always costs someone. If you do believe that children should receive free schooling, I believe children with disabilities should receive the exact same sum per student for education as every other child in their district. If allowances for a student with special needs can be made for the same
budgetary allotment as other students, great. Do it. Help that kid learn at whatever level he can achieve. If special allowances cannot be made for the same costs, the family or other sources should provide the additional amount needed for the child's education.

The Brown vs. Board of Education case made the point that separate is inherently unequal, and this is true. We as humans are all inherently valuable because we're human. At the same time, we are not at all alike in ability. It is despicable to treat certain individuals as though they warranted special treatment because they have less ability. This is true whether that special treatment is a cruel institution or a budget that's six times as much for a student with special needs.

Landlords

Little Momma had mentioned that giving a deposit to hold the apartment would be a Very Good Thing.
"I don't think it'll be a problem," I told her. "He likes me."
But I started worrying...and, truth be told, the only reason I didn't put down a deposit initially was that I'd misplaced my rarely-used checkbook.

So, I called today, and told LL I'd drop by in about an hour with a deposit and the first month's rent (he said just the deposit was fine). I helped Big Daddy move a hot tub, and time crept by. I finally called LL back, apologized by being late, and checked to see if he would still be around. He had errands to take care of, but said I could drop the deposit by tomorrow, or the next day. Or whenever, assuring me he wouldn't rent to anyone else. Then he asked how Little Momma's latest surgery went (it's actually tomorrow).

See? He likes me.

Shoot 'Em Up

Friday night, I saw Shoot 'Em Up. Minor spoiler warning. What a ride. This movie stars the engaging Clive Owen, the luscious Monica Belluci, and the evil, evil, bad Paul Giamatti.

Shoot 'Em Up
makes few pretensions at reality. Clive Owen makes his first kill with a carrot as the movie opens, and the bullets unloaded as this movie blasts through its paces probably beggar even Starship Troopers. Don't watch this flick if you want realistic gunplay: Transformers and practically any cartoon are more realistic. (!) Don't go if you're looking for something more serious than R-rated comic opera, well acted, which is ironic. If you want to see a funny eighty minute explosion with some excellent sound bites that will soon adorn "witty" sig lines on UBBs across the WWW, this is the movie for you.

Despite my liking for this movie, an attempt to make this an anti-firearm morality play feebly raises its head. Unfortunately for any serious attempt at such a stance, evil genius Paul Giamatti makes the point early on that the high-tech thumbprint-enabling on his Desert Eagle helps keep firearms from being used by criminals. But, since the bad guys could be sponsored by the government, how helpful is the pie-in-the-sky thumbprinting scheme? Not so much. Also, it's hard to make a a sex-stereotyped sermon about people with firearms being "pussies with guns" when your hero can kill people with a carrot, and if the hero uses a tool consistently throughout the flick, can the tool be inherently evil? Not really.

3.5 out of 5 stars because the thunder of the guns handily overwhelms the traditional Hollywood hypocrisy. And because gunsmiths are superheroes.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Home Shopping

Jordy and I looked at another apartment yesterday. This is an incredibly cute garage apartment .3 mile from the ASU main gate, within easy walking distance of the college. The landlord is making some minor repairs to sheetrock and paint, but it should be ready before October, which would work well. That would give time for me to start moving my things into the new place as Little Momma becomes more independent, and needs less assistance.

While not perfect, I believe the little place will be a good match for our current needs, and the rent is reasonable enough to make some compromises worthwhile. And, did I mention it's incredibly cute? Jordy's very excited, and me...well, I'm very eager to have my own place again, free of yippy dogs and other folks' schedules.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Oddities and Disparities

One of the five classes I'm taking this semester is an introductory Special Education class. Our second chapter discussed the civil rights movement and its effect on special education. I am in favor of equal treatment, in so much as we can deliver it. I am in favor of fairness. The problem with dealing with students with disabilities is that they are not receiving "equal treatment", and in fact, each such child should have an Individual Education Plan in place.

I addressed the teacher tonight: "Doctor, am I correct in understanding you to say that the impact of the student with disabilities on the general education students may only be considered if it's a potential safety issue?"
"That is correct."
"So- if only the rights of the child with disabilities can legally be considered, doesn't this mean that the other students have fewer rights?"
She didn't disagree.

I am not arguing in favor of "the greater good" or any such nonsense. I do not advocate sacrificing rights of even majorities for minorities. But I do want fairness, in so much as it is possible to provide. Unfortunately, making exceptions and spending extra amounts on individual students can and will be taken to an extreme, and everyone will lose. Ultimately, we are alike in that we are all individuals. We could all profitably have our own IEP. It just is not practical, efficient, or cost effective.

The "right" of schooling- if you believe that any such right should exist at all- should be that reasonable accommodations will be made to students with exceptional challenges. We as a country and society have gone from deplorable treatment of certain individuals to equally ludicrous and extreme efforts arguably on their behalf. I'm not saying students with disabilities should not be helped if reasonably possible: I'm just saying let's use some common sense in this.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Evan Almighty

Watched Evan Almighty tonight. Jordy and I hadn't been to the theater in a while, so despite my 2,000 words of so of stuff due in the next 20 hours for my SPED class, we went.

Family friendly. Cute and unobjectionable to any but the most rabid atheists and fundamentalist Christians. (Odd, about that, huh? Of course, they are both rabid, so...) Personally, I would say the writers of this movie either have a deep faith in a powerful and benevolent deity, or can postulate well what such a personality would be like. Morgan Freeman plays his role perfectly, too, with an exquisite blend of humor and gentleness. Oddly enough, the funniest part of the movie comes at the credits, when Steve Carrell and Freeman prove they're actually excellent dancers.
This movie certainly isn't the funniest I've seen this year, but I didn't walk out of the flick swearing or looking for someone to crush, and that's a good thing. I'll give it 3 of 5 stars.

Idiots, Dolts, and other Fools

At my cushy job that is so top secret I am not allowed to mention it in publication without prior approval, there are two elevators in the main area. One elevator only travels down to the parking deck and up to the main first floor, while the other elevator rises from the first floor to the second floor, for those with challenges, or who are just too damn lazy to walk over to the escalator. Customers frequently become confused, and attempt to ride the parking elevator to the second floor, or take the second-floor elevator down. We floor staff must then helpfully assist them.

Just yesterday, two grown women and several children were in the second-story elevator, as it sat on the first floor.
"Are you trying to go to the second floor?" I politely asked.
"No, we want to go to the parking deck," the heavy-set, rather bulldog-looking woman replied.
"You need the other elevator for that, ma'am."
(Huffily)"Well, it's not like it says that anywhere."
Blink. No, actually, there is a 5x11" sign posted with clear instructions in each elevator, with letters half an inch high. It's just above the buttons you've been uselessly pressing.
Like Santa Claus, idiots are everywhere.

Yay/Bogus

I have received email notifying me that my GACE scores are in- and I evidently passed- but I'll have to wait until I receive my scores via snail mail to see how I actually performed. The email and site say *To preclude the use of GACE scores for purposes other than Georgia educator certification (e.g., employment, college admission screening), passing scores are not reported.

Whatever. Woohoo, I passed!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Returns, Co-Pilots, Send-offs

Little Momma was brought home from Walton Rehab yesterday morning. She felt a little weird and perhaps anxious at being out of a medical environment after the better part of two months in one. She still receives a dose of IV antibiotic every 18 hours, and I learned SASH yesterday: Saline, Antibiotic, Saline, Heparin.
We set up the hospital bed Friday night, but LM found it uncomfortable, so Big Daddy and I broke it down, and set the Sleep Number back up. We're doing pretty well, so far.

A Spyderco Co-Pilot II came in Friday from my friends at New Graham. The original Co-Pilot was designed to be a knife that could be taken onto airplanes, which is obviously no longer allowed in the US. This is a very elegant and useful gentleman's knife. A positive/negative is the extremely thin handle . This will be very easy to insert into a pocket, like a traditional pocketknife. Unfortunately, this same very flat profile will mean the clip will not hold the knife in place as well as a larger and thicker Spyderco.

I gave the Co-Pilot and a good RC flashlight to a friend of mine who's currently in the Army's Basic Leadership Course II, with the advice that he tie a lanyard to the Spydie if he planned on keeping it in his pocket.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Spyderco Dodo


This is one of the Little Big Knives of Spyderco, designed to offer real cutting performance in knives as visually inoffensive as possible. This knife has a 2 1/6" blade, with the sharpened area only 1 3/4" long. It manages to use that space effectively, with a downward curving tip that's great for opening boxes and detail work.

The Dodo is designed to look innocuous, and fit into environments that allow knives, but limit blade length. The handle is long enough for a very comfortable and firm grip, and comes to a point at the pommel, giving strike or pressure capability. The ball bearing lock is incredibly strong, and would only fail if the bearing is crushed (meaning the blade will fail first). CPM S30V steel is tough and holds its edge a very long time. An excellent, if odd-looking, knife at a very reasonable price.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Better, Faster, Bigger, Harder

I'm sorry I've posted so little lately. I have reasons, but no excuses. I'll make it up to you.

When I went to Walton Rehab after work yesterday, I found that Little Momma is coming home Saturday! That will have its own set of challenges, but at the same time, I'm hoping being back at home will help her heal inside and out.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Escaping Salem

I have just finished my first paper of the new term. Wow. I hope they get easier again- this was only 2000 words, but it was pretty rough.

If you can find Godbeer's Escaping Salem: The Other Witch Hunt of 1692 for a reasonable price, pick it up. Interesting reading, and it might make you feel a bit more kindly towards early Americans than thoughts of Salem Village.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Updated Matrimony Plans

Little Momma's unexpectedly extended hospital stay means less time for Jordy and I to do things, and certainly means Little Momma can't have much involvement in the wedding ceremony. We have decided to push back the ceremony until Spring. If you live in TX or TN, DISREGARD! THIS WAS ONLY A DRILL! (But keep those wedding invitations. I'm sure they'll be worth something someday.)

In other news, my Adductor Longus and Adductor Magnus are now recovered enough for me to walk without pain. Guess I won't do six sets on the Hip Adductor machine next time!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Shoes, ships, ceiling wax

Little Mama is finally out of the hospital proper, and in a rehabilitation center. She still isn't in great spirits, but has considerably improved in outlook. And is actually trying to have her drugs reduced.

I am taking 15 credits this semester. I was amazed to discover, at the very last minute, that I needed permission to take more than 12. Paugh!

I have finally made my first visit to the new ASU gym. It felt great to move a little weight. I seemed to have lost some upper body strength (not surprising), but my legs have become almost freakishly strong on some exercises. Yay me.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Cuttin' Time

Little Mama has been perpetually leaking blood from her incision. She was told yesterday that she would need an operation to be sure that her back wasn't infected. She wasn't happy. This was not a major surgery, but after three weeks in the hospital, she was understandably discouraged.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Seasons Change

Some dreams, are in the night time
And some seem like yesterday
But leaves turn brown and fade
Ships sail away
You long to say a
thousand words but
Seasons Change.


They are changing again.

I'll leave in forty minutes or so to talk to my counselor- if the bastard is actually available for once- and register for fall classes. I may save a few buck in fees because I'm a recent combat vet, though I don't qualify for Georgia's new HERO scholarship because I'm a graduate student.

Hospital Time

I've been putting in a good bit of time, here and there, at the hospital with the woman Jordy sometimes affectionately calls Little Momma. One back operation wasn't enough, so another was done. She's been in the hospital for over three weeks at this point.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Back 2 Good

I've had a lot going on since I've been back, with getting ready for school, finding (and working) a job, car, and domicile, and reintegrating back into regular society, but I've seemed to have had a lot of irritability recently. I'm hoping it's mostly just that I haven't been sleeping well lately.

Moronic Parents

A couple of days ago, I saw a young girl with jeans that had "apple bottom" emblazoned across them. What in the hell possesses parental units to think that buying clothes like this for a nine year-old is a good idea?

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Something to Piss Off Everyone...

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

July Movies

These haven't necessarily come out this month, but if you haven't seen some of these yet, perhaps this will help.

Disturbia stars young Shia LaBeouf as a good kid who's become troubled after losing his father in an accident. Placed on house arrest, he amuses himself by watching his neighbor's lives, until he realizes a neighbor bears resemblances to a serial killer. LaBeouf is no Keanu Reeves, thank god, so he and his fellow cast members are able to pull this flick off as funny and suspenseful. 3 out of 5 stars.

Spider-Man 32. Much action. Some really lame, fake CGI, balanced out by humorous elements in Tobey Maguire's performance. Bonus points for one of the most delightful bad guys ever, "That 70's Show"'s Topher Grace. 3 out of 5 stars.

Shia LaBeouf is back in another movie, blockbuster Transformers. Let's face it, the basic plot of this movie isn't given to believability. Giant robots, disguised as common machines, have come to Earth. Despite that, this movie is just a rip-roarin' good time. Shia LaBeouf is really, really good, with Megan Fox providing the hotness requisite in any summer blockbuster. There are a string of other good to great actors, and even Josh Duhamel is nicely transitioning from TV to the big screen.
What moves this movie from being watchable (good actors balancing out unbelievable storyline) to great fun are the best special effects ever. By that, I mean combat from several ton sensate robots and people actually looks real. Go. See. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Smokin' Aces completes our cinematic round-up. Wow. This movie is so bad, it impresses me. Grindhouse wasn't this bad, and it was trying. Let's start with the actors, assigning a numerical value to their presence in the film. Ben Affleck: negative value, but rendered null because of what happens to him. Jeremy Piven: no value. Ray Liotta: no value. Andy Garcia: value-less to negative. Ryan Reynolds: positive value. Alicia Keys: Idiot (she said soon after September 11 that it was hard to be patriotic when your ancestors were slaves. Hey! Bimbo! You're European and Jamaican extract. Which "ancestors" of yours were slaves in the US?!), but balanced onscreen by personal beauty. No value.
Looking at the DVD cover art and description, this movie looks like a nonstop action extravaganza, with bullets, blood, and laughs (I mean, Jeremy Piven and Ryan Reynolds! Reynolds by himself can usually make a movie funny). But it's not. The producers and director obviously could not decide what kind of movie they wanted to make, since most of the movie is a "suspenseful" slow build up to the climax. The problem with doing it the hard crime drama way, is that the movie is peopled with outrageous characters, like the three neo-Nazis who actually perform contract hits - sometimes with chain saws and submachine guns- while wearing leather that's a combination of bondage gear and 3rd Reich, and the hit team that's made of two women of color. This pair holds a beautiful, sleek young lady who gets in close, and a short, bullish sniper with a .50 BMG, who has a heavy crush on her partner.
Instead of nonstop action, the movie moves slowly, and tries to go from comic-book fun to high drama. Director Joe Carnahan should never be forgiven for this one. Cursed be his name. Do NOT watch this, unless you hate yourself. I'm going to award 1.5 out of 5 stars, but only because Ryan Reynolds is in this movie, and Ben Affleck dies.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Blame Lawdog

Lawdog suggested this.

I just couldn't help laughing at this particular one.


HallowE09