Tuesday, March 31, 2009

You're Fired

VDH: The Good

Victor Davis Hanson has posted a three-part essay entitled "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly."

He begins with the bad:
  1. The End of Fiscal Sobriety
  2. Wall Street and the Democrats
  3. The Therapeutic Impulse
Continues with the ugly:
  1. The Corruption of the Press
  2. What Is Going On in Universities
  3. Europeanization
And finishes with the good:
  1. Technology
  2. Competent People
  3. Soldiers
I skipped the first two parts — my favorite whines are boring me lately — and went for the good stuff. It's worth reading.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Boo Hoo Hoo

"I can't... (sniff)... I can't believe you forgot our blogiversary!"

"No, I didn't, honey."

"You didn't? What do you mean you didn't?"

"Look. It's right there last Thursday. Don't you remember?"

"No."

"You must a slept through it."

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Unimpressed

John Steinbeck, writing from Dover, July 6, 1943:
There is a quality in the people of Dover that may well be the key to the coming German disaster. They are incorrigibly, incorruptibly unimpressed. The German, with his uniform and his pageantry and this threats and plans, does not impress these people at all. The Dover man has taken perhaps a little more pounding than most, not in great blitzes, but in every-day bombing and shelling, and still he is not impressed.

Jerry is like the weather to him. He complains about it and then promptly goes about what he was doing. Nothing in the world is as important as his garden and, in other days, his lobster pots. Weather and Jerry are alike in that they are inconvenient and sometimes make messes. Surveying a building wrecked by a big shell, he says, "Jerry was bad last night," as he would discuss a windstorm.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Floating Cannonball


One of those things you have to see to believe.

Via SnarkyBytes.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

No Income No Tax

Every year about this time I wonder why I bother working at all. Federal income tax, Social Security, Medicare, state income tax, property tax, not to mention the price of everything I buy includes the taxes on the business that made it. How much is the total tax burden? Who knows? Government spending as a percent of GDP is something like 40%, so a good guess is that forty cents of every dollar I earn ends up in a politician's pocket. Sixty cents I get to keep. Why bother working at all?

There's been a lot of talk lately about "going John Galt." Let me tell you, we've been going there for years, not in any big, dramatic fashion, but in little bits and pieces. "Shrugging," as my friend Vinnie calls it, a little at a time: work passed by, a promotion not sought, an opportunity foregone, a business not started, risks not taken. When your marginal rate goes over 28% (or more likely, as I say, 40%) why bother?

I have a solution to the income tax. No income, no tax. Simple as that. Let someone else pay. I quit.

I'm taking the day off. For one day at least, I won't have an income, and I won't pay a tax.

I'm kind of lucky that way, actually. I get paid by the hour and when I don't work, I don't get paid. When I don't get paid, Obama doesn't get paid, either. It's chump change, of course, something over $100 for every day I take off, but that's just my point: you don't shrug all at once, but every little bit counts.

Imagine if ten thousand people — out of a population of three hundred million — take the day off. That's a million bucks the IRS won't see. Chump change, I know, a lousy million bucks. Imagine if everybody that voted against Hope & Change decided to take the Wednesday April 15 off. That's six billion dollars in lost revenue.

That's something even this administration might notice.

Third Blogiversary

Topics in April ranged from Cute Diplomacy to Non-Deterministic Finite Automata, with Really Old Stuff, Astounding Science Fiction, and Graupel in between. I had a dream in which The Face Was Oddly Familiar, and Albert Hoffman died.

In May we started with a Big Bottom, went from NC to CA for $3.50, and took a Bad Karma Cure-All.

The month of June heralded our third annual Summer Reading List, started my Chandler kick, and brought days of Sun-Blessed, Windswept Liberty. I returned, du temps perdu, to the St. Joe's School Band.

July called for Boxed Wine Over Ice, hikes in Mt. Ashland Meadows, and 108° in Brookings, Oregon. My Chandler kick continued. In the background storm clouds gathered, but we ignored them. His Screaming Fans didn't.

In August we considered a Fifty-Foot Proboscis, Nagasaki Day, and Death By Blown Tire. We could no longer ignore the storm: Is Obama The Messiah? Or Else What? We read A Little Background and took some Notes On The Oration. Like, What, Me Worry?

Then McCain named Palin and all hell broke loose. It was a great time to be alive and blogging. The Week Aug 29 to Sept 4, 2008 — from the announcement to the acceptance speech — is a little slice of history, preserved for all time, and has its own link in the sidebar.

After The Speech the rest of September was anticlimactic. It was mostly all Palin all the time, with time off for Chihuahua jokes, Feline Squatters, and the Cranberry Festival Report.

October was gruelling. I Put The Field Sign Up and worried about those who Vote Dead In Ohio. I felt like Linus waiting for The Great Pumpkin. Then, just before Halloween, I Won!

As November opened I made My Predictions, followed by an ever-increasing Sense of Foreboding. On Wednesday the 5th it was apparent that Alaska had won. I was disappointed but Not Berry Blue, in spite of What I Said. There were still things to be thankful for.

In December I snapped the Christmas Kitty, posted my Diet Advice, and encouraged global warming with Christmas Power Lighting. This year's theme was Longfellow's Christmas Bells.
"The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men."
January brought a Balloon Slaughter and a Milk Jug Massacree. There's something about an incoming Democrat administration that makes you want to spend time at the range. Distractions also included a Pinhole Timewarp and Living In The Past. I prefer it there.

In February we decided to Tell The Paper Boy, "Scram, Kid." Maybe it was the The Defiance Impulse. Gamblers and Losers got me thinking about Guns and Butter. Then, jeez, to top it off, Paul Harvey died.

I really identified with Clint Eastwood: Get Off My Lawn. March is like that sometimes. I started dreaming about The Hula Hula Dance. We went on Our Hawai‘ian Hi‘atus. That led me to consider my solution to the income tax: No Income No Tax.

One of these days, mark my words, I'm going to quit.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Other News On Other Blogs

Sorry I've been such a slacker. Refer to my side bar for more interesting blogs.

Rogue Pundit covers the story of the Agness School spending $133,000 to educate its one and only student. Brigid has a nice story about becoming a hunter. And P.J. Conlon has the very definition of bad luck.
Mr. Yamaguchi was in Hiroshima on a business trip on Aug. 6, 1945, when an American B-29 dropped an atomic bomb on the city. He returned to Nagasaki, his hometown, before the second attack...
Mr. Yamaguchi is 93 years old, though, so I guess it wasn't all that bad.

Tune in tomorrow. I'm working up a rant.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

News I Missed

Via Newspaper Death Watch, photos from the last day of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

According to the Death Watch, this brings to twelve the number of major metropolitan dailies to cease publication in the last year.

I won't miss them. It's too late for that. I first started to miss reading a good newspaper over twenty years ago, during the Iran-Contra Affair, when I quit buying The Oregonian because to do so would constitute giving aid and comfort to our enemies, an act of treason. I can't wait to see their name in the Death Watch, and do a little dance on their grave.

Good News

Monday, March 23, 2009

Our Hawai‘ian Hi‘atus

The wooves went to Hawai‘i last week for our long-postponed vacation, a week at the home of my aunt in Hilo on the big island. We flew on Friday the 13th; tickets were cheaper on that date for some reason.

Once at an airshow I walked through a Pan Am DC-3. There were three rows of seats, one on the left and two on the right side of an aisle you could drive a golf cart down, and there was space enough between your seat and the one in front to set a card table, if you wanted one.

On Saturday we went to the farmer's market, and then to Akaka Falls, had lunch at the Gallery Cafe in Honomu, and went to the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden at Onomea Bay.

We spent a couple hours at the gardens and took over two hundred photographs. If you come to visit we will make you look at them all.

On Sunday we rented a 4-wheel drive from Harper's, the only agency on the island that will let you drive to the top of Mauna Kea, at 13,796 feet. We stopped at the Visitor's Center at about 9,000 feet to get acclimated, stretch our legs, and wait for the guided tour to the top. You can drive on your own if you want to, but if you want to see the inside of the observatories you have to go with the ranger. Thirty minutes before departure she warned us that winds at the top were 60 mph sustained and gusts to 70. If it got any worse they would have to close the road and cancel the tour. It didn't get worse — until we got to the top.

We had a nice tour of the Keck 1 Telescope, the world's largest, and a fascinating piece of equipment. During the question-and-answer afterward, a meteorologist popped his head out of a door down the hall and said we were getting gusts over 80 mph and we'd better get off the mountain while we still could. The temperature was 26 degrees.

Monday we drove highway 11 to Kealakekua Bay, rented kayaks, and paddled over to Cook's Monument. We spent the afternoon snorkeling.

Marielle turned fourteen and her great-aunt hosted a birthday luau, with chicken and pork with butterfish laulau, and kalua pork, and cake with macadamia nut and passion fruit frosting. She got her cell phone, and naturally, being the last to get one, hers was the newest and coolest model. Brother and sister were, quite properly, jealous.

Wednesday was warm, but drizzly. Hilo's on the wet side of the island; in fact it gets over 140 inches of rain a year, most of it during the week we were there. It's hard to work up enthusiasm for snorkeling under gray skies, even if the water is warm.

On Thursday afternoon we descended into the crater of Kilauea Iki, the smaller of the two great calderas of Kilauea, the larger being off-limits due to the venting of its poisonous gases and atmospheric conditions insufficient to disperse them. We had to make do with steam vents hot enough to cook your lunch; the molten pools of lava are now ten miles away, at Pu‘u O‘o, and viewable only by helicopter.

Kilauea is not as active now as when Mark Twain visited its floor, at night, in 1866, and lived — barely — to tell about it. The "hot spot" has moved on, but lava still flows into the sea, where it explodes on contact with the boiling water. We walked out on the lava at Kalapana after dark Wednesday night, and while the rangers would not let us come closer than a mile or two from the action, it was still as spectacular as the August wild fires in southern Oregon.

The floor of Kilauea Iki was quiet; the rain fell gently and seeped into the cracks in the lava, rising again a few minutes later as steam. The day was cool but never really cold. At least not there.

Friday we drove around the north side of the island again and spent the morning at Hapuna Beach, had lunch at Merriman's in Waimea, and returned to the beach at the Mauna Kea resort for the afternoon. Everyone snorkeled, everyone tanned (some of us severely), and everyone had fun.

Saturday we flew to Honolulu, and then to Portland. That was not so much fun. Next time I go to Hawaii I will go by boat.

Friday, March 13, 2009

On Hi’atus

Posting will be light to non-existent. More likely the latter.

Aloha!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Video Games Played by Killers

Tam nailed it:
If the presence of lots of young males with guns who played shoot-'em-up video games for fun caused massacres, I would have been knee-deep in blood at work for the last fifteen years. The skeet range at your local Scout camp would have devolved into a birdshot-peppered William Golding-esque nightmare. Fort Benning would have corpses stacked like cordwood. Your local police station would look like level 2 from Doom. Put your thinking caps on for a moment here, people.

Heading For The Gulch

I'm going to be unemployed for a week, too, as we throw fiscal responsibility to the wolves and fly off to some tropical paradise.

The nice thing about being a contract worker is that when I don't work, I don't get paid (unlike you salarymen), and when I don't get paid, neither do Barry and Nancy. Tough luck guys! Get your taxes from some other wage slave.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Hula Hula Dance

Mark Twain wrote about the old times there.
At night they feasted and the girls danced the lascivious hula hula dance that is said to exhibit the very perfection of educated motion of limb and arm, hand, head and body, and the exactest uniformity of movement and accuracy of "time." It was performed by a circle of girls with no raiment on them to speak of, who went through an infinite variety of motions and figures without prompting, and yet so true was their "time," and in such perfect concert did they move that when they were placed in a straight line, hands, arms, bodies, limbs and heads waved, swayed, gesticulated, bowed, stooped, whirled, squirmed, twisted and undulated as if they were part and parcel of a single individual; and it was difficult to believe they were not moved in a body by some exquisite piece of mechanism.
I gotta see that.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Two Crooks for the Road

J. Lynn Lunsford reviews Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde.
Jeff Guinn cuts through the sex and gunsmoke surrounding the gangster love story of Bonnie and Clyde, and he reveals a couple of kids from the wrong side of the river who were anything but the sharpest gangsters to roam the countryside....

Mr. Guinn notes that, without Bonnie, the media outside Texas "might have dismissed Clyde as a gun-toting punk." But Bonnie was a shutter-bug, taking photographs of the gang and sending them to newspapers. Bonnie was almost always pictured in the latest "flapper" outfits, wearing makeup at a time when a nice Southern girl would never touch the sinful stuff. Clyde liked to wear a suit, especially when involved in a hold-up. They both posed with guns. Bonnie "supplied the sex appeal, the oomph," Mr. Guinn says, "that allowed the two of them to transcend the small-scale thefts and needless killings that actually comprised their criminal careers."
Looks interesting. Toss it in the cart.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Back to Basics

Neo-neocon takes us back to basics — Lenin, Dostoevsky, and Machiavelli — to understand recent developments. Demons, on her recommendation, is in my shopping cart.

Micro-Targeting

Frank Greve for McClatchy Newspapers.
Remember when credit card applications flooded your mail? You see fewer of them now because credit card companies pre-screen candidates and pester only those who are likely to use a card.

Micro-targeting, the tactic's called, and its ability to spot likely prospects also makes it the hottest thing in politics these days, from election campaigns to lobbying....

Micro-targeting doesn't rely on their answers to questions, as polling does. Rather, it analyzes hundreds of details about individuals' lives to predict their political behavior.

Married couples who use different last names, for example, are more likely to be Democrats. So are Volvo drivers. Active duty military personnel are stauncher Republicans than veterans. So are long-distance versus short-distance commuters.
Critics worry that it will enable politicians to tell persuadable voters exactly what they want to hear. Personally, I love it when politicians tell me what I want to hear. I'd love it even more if they weren't lying!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Self-Orchestrating Orcs

In this week's Economist.
When the first film in the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy was released in 2001, much was made of its heavy reliance on computer-generated imagery (CGI). But what was perhaps most impressive were the epic battle scenes, which broke new ground in special effects by showing huge numbers of characters with an unprecedented degree of detail and realism. For this the trilogy's director, Peter Jackson, largely has Stephen Regelous to thank. Mr Regelous is the founder of Massive Software, based in Auckland, New Zealand. His firm's software made it possible to generate as many as half a million virtual actors in a single shot, each behaving in an independent and plausible manner.

That is because every character was, in effect, given a brain, says Diane Holland, Massive's chief executive. Each one was modelled as a software "agent" with its own desires, needs and goals, and the ability to perceive the environment and respond to the immediate surroundings in a believable way. Any given orc, for example, could work out which other fighters on the battlefield were in its line of sight, and hence whether it should flee or attack. This produced far more realistic results than orchestrating the motions of the digital extras in a scripted, choreographed way.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Thugs and Morons

Michael Williams made "Tax Cheat" stamps to enhance Timmy "Baby Face" Geithner's signature on the dollar bill. Now he's being audited by the IRS.
Honestly, we're scared. We haven't done anything wrong (and I've got the documents to prove it in storage) but now the IRS is coming after us and they can destroy our lives with a flick of their pen. I don't want to sound like a coward, but I'm so scared I'm literally shaking. We've got a seven-week-old daughter.
There are some lessons here for would-be critics:
  1. Sit down.
  2. Shut up.
  3. Don't make fun of any morons in the Obama administration.

Friday, March 06, 2009

50 Best Blogs for Gun Enthusiasts

The list is here.

I haven't been through it yet. Some of my favorites are on it; some are not. Some I've never seen before.

That Time Again

Expropriated from The People's Cube, which seems funnier than ever, in a grim sort of way.
Years ago, living in America made me feel as though I had traveled in a time machine from the past. But after the recent "revolutionary" changes have turned reality on its head — which is what "revolution" literally means — I'm getting an uneasy feeling I had come from your future.
— Oleg Atbashian, commissar of The People's Cube

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Nasty Mean Dirty Loggers

KCBY reports that Douglas County's unemployment rate hit 16.5 percent in January. Meanwhile first-graders are bringing home a booklet that trashes loggers.

Help The Forest, by Rita Cosby, shows a nasty looking logger cutting down a 24" diameter Douglas fir, leaving some equally nasty looking racoons to starve.* Published by Scott Foresman, and called "Earth Science," you can read it in all its glory here (PDF).

*Racoons eat Douglas fir. You knew that, didn't you?

Big Tent in the Wilderness

George Neumayr in The American Spectator.
That tattered Big Tent now flaps pathetically in the wilderness of political defeat and out of it crawls its wounded confederacy of country-club dunces. Have they learned anything? Not much. Wowed by Obama's popularity, they reflexively resume the me-too PC platitudes of "compassionate conservatism" and engage in what amounts to a big-government bidding war for the affection of the American people. Bad federal program A versus bad federal program B — that's the debate between the parties at this point.

If victory is the Big Tent Republicans goal, why don't they join the Democrats in calling for a one-party state? That way they could win every time.
He said "mau-mau". Is that racist? Or le mot juste?

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Dealing With The Rubes

T. Coddington Van Voorhees VII analyzes the conservative movement.
The sad fact of the matter, as we noted, is that one no longer finds admitted conservatives in any of America's prestige zip codes nor the faculty redoubts of her selective academies. During our Bermuda summit many gambits were proposed to win back America's elite electoral precincts from the left; sponsoring various hip hop colloquia at the better Ivies, supporting integration of gays into Nascar, endorsing state ownership of the means of production. Rod Dreher, whose sensational exegesis "Crunchy Cons" sold well over 200 copies last year, recommended a full embrace of the environmental movement, which as I understand is quite the rage among youthful voters and the trendsetting thespians of Hollywood. Good and bold ideas all, and necessary steps to get the movement started again. But there remains a daunting obstacle — namely, the benighted rubes who constitute so much of our so-called "base," and whose existence make it nigh on impossible to recruit their social betters.
The problem with excerpting Iowahawk, as some other blogger noted, is knowing where to stop.

Never mind. Just go over there and read it all.

International Satellite Imagery

One of my favorite stops on my tour of the daily weather pages is the International Satellite Imagery page of NOAA's Aviation Weather Center.

Sure, every weather page has satellite images, but they're usually tiny local snapshots. These are huge. My favorite is ICAO Area M — the north Pacific — spanning 150 degrees of longitude, from Bangkok to Billings.

This is where our weather comes from; this is where it forms.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Planning On It

It was Michael Kinsley, quoted in The Wall Street Journal last week, who first suggested it.
If it's not the actual, secret plan, it will be an overwhelming temptation: Don't pay the money back. So far, even as one piggy bank after another astounds us with its emptiness, there have been only the faintest whispers about the possibility of an actual default by the U.S. government. Somewhat louder whispers can be heard, though, about the gradual default known as inflation. Just three or four years of currency erosion at, say, 10 percent a year would slice the real value of our debt — public and private, U.S. bonds and jumbo mortgages — in half.
This prompted me to pull my old college textbook off the shelf and re-read portions of Chapter 7: Unemployment, Inflation, and Business Cycles.
A more important redistributional effect of unanticipated inflation is between age groupings. Persons under 35 years of age are more likely to be debtors. Inflation helps them pay back their housing mortgages, car loans, and other outstanding debts. In contrast, those over 50 years of age are more likely to have savings, paid-up life insurance policies, bonds, and other forms of fixed future income. Inflation eats away at the purchasing power of these savings. Thus, it tends to redistribute income from the old to the young.
Or as John Derbyshire put it this morning:
What fools we were to save! The future belongs to the feckless masses; and if there aren't enough of them to make the future happen, well, heck, the elites will import a few million more.

We've seen the light, though. No more saving for us. Following the portfolio review, we booked a family summer vacation in Hawaii. Can we afford it? No way. So what?

If you know money won't be worth squat four years from now, what's the logical action — save a bundle, or go in debt a bundle? Looks like a no-brainer to me.
It's true. This is how you cope. Dump cash and buy things. Things that will hold their value or even appreciate, like classic cars, fine paintings, good whiskey, and firearms. Commodities with a long shelf life. Buy in bulk while they're still cheap. And pile on as much debt as you can afford — at a fixed interest rate, of course. Then sit back and let Obama's inflation work its magic.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Get Off My Lawn

I don't see many movies — less than one a year on average — but Leslie and I went to see Gran Torino last night. It was worth it. I wouldn't mind seeing it again.

On a related note Ride Fast & Shoot Straight notes that the Civilian Marksmanship Program, which sells surplus M1 Garands, has been receiving 5,000 to 10,000 orders per month since last October. No doubt the Obmanation has something to do with that. But I'll bet the excellent product placement in Clint Eastwood's latest movie, where he uses it to great effect in keeping hoodlums off his lawn, has served to boost sales as well.