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
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


Gytha (Nanny) Ogg


Lord Havelock Vetinari


The Librarian




Commander Samuel Vimes




Cohen The Barbarian


Esmerelda (Granny) Weatherwax




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


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 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.


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.