Saturday, July 31, 2010

Preflight Humor

gettin_airborne.jpgAlaska Air continues to improve the entertainment value of their preflight briefing. Here the instructional card graphically invites plump middle-aged ladies to (in the event of an emergency, of course) rip that door off and catch a little air on the way out.

Friday, July 30, 2010

We're Off...

In transit to a secure undisclosed location. We hope to arrive by Saturday afternoon.

As a last minute security measure we decided to let my sister's half-cousin Lenny keep an eye on things while we're gone. He hates staying in that group home and anyway prefers to be by himself.

Lenny's been pretty stable since he got out of rehab, as long as he remembers to take his medication and nobody ticks him off. He says he has some "projects" to keep him busy during the day, and nights after it cools off he plans to set out on the roof and work on our stray cat problem. I advised him that most other varmints, including the two-legged variety, are out of season, and he said he'd keep that in mind.

I sure hope he stays out of trouble.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

John Derbyshire

On "the narcissism of small differences."
It is my experience that among white Americans of all regions and classes, feelings about black people—much less Hispanic people—in the generality are never as strong as feelings about other white groups. The passion you can hear from a liberal college professor in Massachusetts when he is talking about, say, NASCAR fans, far exceeds anything he will exhibit in regards to black people, if he ever thinks about black people at all. And vice, to some degree, versa. This is the dark lie at the heart of all the babble about "racism."
In Taki's Magazine.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

No First Amendment Here

julea_ward_a_christian.jpgJulea Ward's Christian beliefs violate the American Counseling Association code of ethics.
A federal judge has ruled in favor of a public university that removed a Christian student from its graduate program in school counseling over her belief that homosexuality is morally wrong.
"Code of ethics." Ha. It's a code, all right. Nothing ethical about it.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Spare Me the Soundtrack

Uncle David sent a link to the Republican Governor's Association advertisement. I'm sure the message was great, but after about five seconds I had to shut it down. Let me tell you guys something. You have got to get some new music.

Thirty years ago when Vangelis composed the music for Blade Runner, it was awesome. Ten years later it had become a cliché. After twenty years it was boring. Now it's positively grating.

If I never again in my life hear synthsized strings fading in to the crack of doom, I may die happy.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My Poor Car!

Marianne LaPiedra surveys the damage to her BMW at
her home Monday in Encinitas, Calif., in an incident
authorities suspect was arson.
That photo made page A4 of The Wall Street Journal this morning, with no story. Just the caption. Like their readers wouldn't care. Because if they did, they could just google it like everybody else.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


radical_in_chief_thumb.jpgSimon & Schuster will publish Stanley Kurtz's new book on October 19. Given that reviews will appear in the preceeding few weeks, I'd say the timing is perfect.
Part biography, part history, part detective story, RADICAL-IN-CHIEF reveals the carefully hidden tale of Barack Obama's political past. Stanley Kurtz, whose research helped inject the Bill Ayers and ACORN issues into the 2008 presidential campaign, presents the results of more than two years of digging into President Obama's radical political world. The book is filled with previously unknown information about the president's past, tied together by a bold argument about what Obama's deepest political convictions really are.
Pre-order yours at Amazon today.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


golden_clouds_july_24_2010_thumb.jpgAnother day in paradise.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Coals to Newcastle

Firearms to Alaska.

The TSA guidelines are here, along with this dire warning.
Airlines may have their own additional requirements on the carriage of firearms and the amount of ammunition that you may have in your checked baggage.
Uh-oh, better check with Alaska Airlines.
The following items may be included in your normal baggage allowance.....
  • Shooting Equipment
    1. One rifle case with rifles, scopes, one shooting mat, noise suppressors and small tools, or
    2. One shotgun case with shotguns, or
    3. One pistol case with pistols, noise suppressors, one pistol telescope and small pistol tools
  • Ammunition—up to 50 lbs...
Well, that should be sufficient.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Commandeering the People

James Taranto discusses the constitutional challenge to ObamaCare with Randy Barnett, author of Restoring the Lost Constitution: The Presumption of Liberty. It is not an encouraging read. Barnett laughs at the end, but it is gallows humor.

Along the same lines, my current bedside read is The Citizen's Constitution: An Annotated Guide by Seth Lipsky. I want to understand what we had, and how we lost it.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

She Said It

If I am going to write to someone, I am going to write to them. In complete sentences. With punctuation. I am going to use the English language like Shakespeare and Milton by-gawd intended for it to be used, and I am damned well going to make it sit up and jump through little flaming hoops while I am at it! I am not going to be reduced to poking at buttons on a cell phone with my thumbs, turning out crap that looks like it was disgorged by an illiterate devolved protosimian fifth grader!

Heh. Protosimian fifth grader. Yeah, I've known a few of those.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


William Kristol applauds Palin's neologism.
The case for linguistic innovation is this: We need a word that captures and conjoins the meanings of refutation and repudiation. And we need it now. To save the country from the ravages of contemporary liberalism, we have to refute liberal arguments and see liberal politicians repudiated at the polls.

So the conservative agenda is, in a word, refudiation. Indeed, given the dramatic moment at which we have arrived, one might say that we now have the prospect of a grand refudiation of liberalism.

Friday, July 23, 2010

It’s Remembrance Day

In Papua New Guinea.

Friday, July 23, 2010

In the Mail Today

beethoven_late_string_quartets.jpgAfter two stressful and monetarily disappointing performances of his Ninth Symphony, Beethoven retired from the limelight to compose, among other things, five string quartets, known generally as the "late quartets" and considered quite challenging even for sophisticated listeners.

This set includes op. 95, composed some years earlier. According to the liner notes Beethoven himself declared it "written for a small circle of connoisseurs, and was never to be performed in public." I will respect his wishes and listen to it in the privacy of my own headphones.

Am I a snob? No. The truth is, I have about as much hope of understanding these quartets as a dog a dinner conversation. I may enjoy the company, take comfort in the presence of food, and bark happily at the laughter, but understand? No; I haven't the capacity.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

His Darkening Sky

Ahmadinejad_in_the_shade.jpgSometimes I think a subscription to The Weekly Standard would be worth it if it consisted only of an eight by ten color glossy of the magazine's cover, suitable for framing, delivered each week.

Jason Seiler's artwork is particularly good this week.

Little Ahmadinejad is busy painting "Death to Israel" on his brand-new a-bomb when a shadow crosses him. He looks up...

Ahmadinejad_close_up.jpgAnd says "Holy Golole!" or the Farsi equivalent thereof.
TTFN, Mahmoud!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Our Dystopian Near-Future

super_sad_true_love_story.jpgMatthew Kaminski reviews Gary Shteyngart's third novel.
In "Super Sad True Love Story," the death of letters helps bring about America's collapse. At the start, we see a country sapped by a military misadventure in Venezuela and deeply indebted to the People's Bank of China-Worldwide. The Chinese People's Capitalist Party is the new global hegemon.

Behind the scenes, a U.S. secretary of defense whose name evokes Rumsfeld rules a one-party (the Bipartisans) paramilitary state. Hot fashions for women are "TotalSurrender" skirts with a slit down the crotch or see-through "Onionskin" jeans. Consumption of pornography starts around age 6. News comes courtesy of FoxLiberty-Prime or FoxLiberty-Ultra, or any member of the Media, always capitalized, who streams whatever first comes to mind...
Not so far away, is it? At Amazon now.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hmmm... Let's See... What's My Motivation?

Rebecca Macatee wastes valuable space on the opinion page of The Wall Street Journal asking us to Stop Picking On Lindsay Lohan because, among other things, she's a "talented actress."

Well if she's such a talented actress, why doesn't she just act like a grown-up?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Caption Contest Winner

"Service engine soon," it said. So how was I to know
it meant, like, "Now!"
Thanks, Cowboy Blob.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Out My Office Window

out_my_office_window.jpgIn the late afternoon I whimper and chafe at the leg irons that bind me to my desk. Idly I lift my camera and snap at nothing. Nothing!

Nothing? Half the working world would dearly love to look out their office window and see what I see. What an ungrateful wretch I am, and how lucky — could I but see myself through others' eyes.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Blunt Talk From Boeing Vets

In the WSJ this morning.

A legend in the aerospace world, Mr. Sutter is Boeing's most renowned living veteran. He joined Boeing right after World War II, and had a guiding hand in every Boeing jetliner through the late 1980s. He is best known for leading the design team that developed the 747 jumbo jet, Boeing's signature product of the jet era. He retired from Boeing 23 years ago, but still keeps an office on Boeing's Renton campus and works at least a few days a week.

Quick-witted and sturdy, Mr. Sutter has a no-holds-barred attitude and strong opinions about the company's past, present and future. Asked whether the Sonic Cruiser—a short-lived proposal in 2001 for a large jet that would travel at nearly the speed of soundr—was a real effort or simply a smokescreen to confuse European rival Airbus, Mr. Sutter answered without hesitation. "It was a real effort," he said, ...

... "by people who were smoking marijuana."

Sunday, July 18, 2010

One more thing about that netbook...

I didn't give my readers any background, and Dave scoffed at the idea of my trying to do any "serious" work on a netbook. I agree with that 100%. Let me clarify. This is my wife's netbook. I'm just planning to borrow the use of it during the week we spend in Alaska. For that I require the bare minimum, and nothing more. Blog and surf, check email and crop photos. That's all I need.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Dream and The Nightmare

I have a desktop computer that I've had for over seven years now. It runs Windows 2000, an obsolete operating system. I have a fourteen-year-old text editor installed on it, the same editor that I have used for as long as I've been a contract software engineer, and Firefox, configured just the way I like it, and WinSCP, and the Java SDK, and my own custom-written blogging software, and a few other odds and ends.

In short I have a digital valet de chambre who knows me almost better than I know myself.

The Dream: Maybe we can buy one of those new fangled netbooks, and maybe I can teach it to do everything my faithful old valet has done for me all these years.

I mean, software is just software, right?

The Nightmare: It comes with Windows 7 Starter. First thing I notice is it won't let me change the desktop wallpaper. Now, that's not technical, it's just plain mean. But I can live without wallpaper. Next I try to install Java. Windows 7 Starter won't run Java. This is not negotiable. I need Java, or I can't blog.

Prominent on the Start Menu is an item named Windows Anytime Upgrade, a nasty little scam from the nastiest little software company in the world. $79.95, sucker. Lie back and enjoy it.

Next I need to install my Canon camera's DPP software. Wrong. It requres a minumum screen of 1024 × 768, and the dippy little screen on the netbook is 1024 × 600 tops. I googled the forums: Canon knows, but Canon don't care.

After this I need a break, and my old text editor installs fine and runs well. This software is obsolete and unsupported. It was written before Windows XP, and it still works great. There truly were giants in the earth in those days. WinSCP works too, but why shouldn't it? (Because Bill Gates doesn't hate it, that's why.)

The Awakening: Eighty bucks later, three out of four crucial systems work, and that's the best we're going to do. I think I'll name him Igor. He's stupid, incompetent, and hunchbacked, but he's doing the best he can.

I can't wait to get back home.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Don’t Delay — Get Yours Today!


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Evening 504 to Glendale

evening_504_thumb_8.JPGevening_504_thumb_8.JPGevening_504_thumb_8.JPGevening_504_thumb_8.JPGevening_504_thumb_8.JPGevening_504_thumb_8.JPGevening_504_thumb_8.JPGevening_504_thumb_8.JPGCentral Oregon and Pacific Railroad "CORP Job 504" runs between Medford and Glendale most evenings during the week.

Leslie and I just happened to be walking the bike path when we heard the whistle blow at the crossing two miles behind us. We quickly jogged the hundred yards to the bridge and set up the tripod and camera.

I set an aperture of 4.5 which gave me a shutter speed of 1.6 seconds, metering on the sky overhead.

"Here it comes!" she said. I selected continuous mode, pressed the shutter, and held it down.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Fill the Frame

signature_pumpkin.jpgBryan Peterson devotes six pages to the topic, including an exercise he assigns the students. Get in close. Fill the frame.

I think I did pretty good on this one.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Ted Hates Home Brew

According to David's Oregon Picayune,
...the Oregon State Fair has canceled this year's beer and wine competitions. The wine competition has been a fixture at the fair for 31 years, the beer contest for 22 years.
Why? The Oregon Liquor Control Commission has "reinterpreted" ORS 471.403...
... a statute that forbids the production of alcoholic beverages by anyone not licensed by the OLCC. But it "does not apply to the making or keeping of naturally fermented wines and fruit juices or beer in the home, for home consumption and not for sale."
Let's be perfectly clear about this. The OLCC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Oregon Governor Ted Kaczynski, a man who does not drink but looks like he could use one. He appointed every member of the board, and they serve at his pleasure. He told them to do this.

It's not just the State Fair either. The new law would ban...
...judged competitions, home-brewing club tasting nights, and even the taking of a six-pack of home-brewed beer to a neighbor's barbecue.
This in a state that tosses around medical marijuana permits like confetti. Thanks a lot Ted. I can't wait 'till you're gone.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Weekend Must-Read

Taranto linked to this last Thursday. It took me day to get around to reading it, and another two to pass it on to you. It's a little bit deeper and a lot more important than you might think. Read it all the way through.
After a decade in sober America
... is everyone in Britain drunk?
Well, yes, maybe... Could be it's better than the alternative.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sunrise Ascent

balloon_rally_sunrise_thumb.jpgHard to believe that after staying up ’till nearly midnight I'd pop out of bed at 5:30 in the morning. But photo ops like this don't come every day. Once again, the Rogue Valley Balloon Rally.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Evening Launch

balloon_rally_nightglow_thumb.jpgAt the Rogue Valley Balloon Rally.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Off-Label Leg Tonic

I suffer from nocturnal leg cramps lately, a common old geezer's complaint. Naturally, I've tried everything. Calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, vitamin B, vitamin E, hydration. Nothing seems to help, at least not consistently.

The only drug with proven efficacy for this malady is quinine, which is generally used to treat malaria. So naturally our FDA announced today that it will forbid the use of Qualaquin, a name-brand quinine drug, for "off-label" uses, that is, for treating anything other than malaria. You old guys can just suffer.

That leaves me two options. I could hang out in New Guinea until I contract malaria. That would only take a week or two, but I've already blown this year's travel budget on Alaska.

Or I could get my quinine from the local supermarket, in the form of tonic water, which contains quinine. To get a therapeutic dose I would have to consume somewhere between 18 and 36 ounces a day. In order to make tonic palatable, of course, you have to add Gordon's London Dry Gin and fresh squeezed limes.

Now that's a prescription I can live with.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

State Land Grab Thwarted

A Jackson County Circuit Court judge told the State of Oregon to go to hell, although, alas, not in so many words.
Based on a study of historic use, Judge Ron Grensky determined that, while historical documents conclude the lower portion of the river was deemed navigable because it had been used for commerce, the portion upstream from Grants Pass does not fall into that category.

"The court cannot help but conclude therefore that the upper portion of the Rogue River was neither used (nor) susceptible to use for travel and trade in the period of Oregon's statehood in 1859," Grensky concluded in the eight-page ruling released Friday.
Up until 2008 riverfront property lines generally ran to mid channel. Then the State of Oregon attempted a land grab with a bogus declaration of navigability. Ron Grensky called bull on that.

Elections do matter. Here in Oregon we elect our judges, although they generally run unoposed. When they don't, it's worth digging into things and making an informed choice. I voted for Ron Grensky and now I'm glad of it.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Shasta From Grouse Gap Shelter

shasta_july_fourth_thumb.jpgEven from Mount Ashland Meadows at nearly seven thousand feet, another seven thousand feet of mountain rises from the horizon, floating, apparently, in a clear blue sky.

We packed in hot dogs and roasted them over a small fire in the shelter's huge fire ring. For an hour or so we had the place to ourselves, before another family showed up.

Friday, July 2, 2010


epicklesology_1.gifAnd you shouldn't, either.

epicklesology_2.gifThe number of things I know is way more than I could ever believe. I had hoped, though, that I could eventually forget enough to make it manageable.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

D-a-v-i-d P-a-t-e-r-s-o-n. There. Next!

As the Senate sought to negotiate and further delay a late budget to head off 6,900 promised vetoes, Gov. David Paterson rifled through a 2-foot high stack of the Legislature's budget bills, voiding them at a rate of one every 3 seconds Thursday.
He told them that if they didn't send him a balanced budget, he'd veto every one of their bills. They didn't, and now he is.

He's legally blind; that's why he has to put his nose to the paper — just to see the dotted line. But he sees more clearly, I think, than President Bush ever did. I wish we had more like him.