Sunday, October 31, 2010

When the main gun pops, a tank stops being so humorous

A long time ago, my recruiter smiled at my ASVAB score and said 'Well, now.  Looks like you can pick your MOS: what do you want to spend the next four years doing?'

I briefly entertained armor. The idea of zooming around the battlefield in a 52-ton death-dealing machine was really appealing.  In hindsight, and having some experience with flat tires in January in Wisconsin, going infantry was a good idea.

Working on a tank is not like working on a '53 Chevy.  The parts weigh tons.  If the cupola needs work, a crane lifts it off.  If the crew watns to see the engine, a crane lifts the armor covers.  When the tracks break or wear out, which they constantly do, it is back-breaking work to replace them.  Tracks are deceptively fragile.

Maintenance is hard, knuckle-busting business:  In addition to bum ears, tankers tend to have scarred hands and joints that don't work just right.  Day in and day out the crews sweat over their machines.  If they aren't just repairing them, they are cleaning them with high pressure hose at the Birdbath, a concrete washing area.  It's not fun, not even interesting.  It's just work.  In some respects, being a tanker is like having one long flat tire in January.

The Litlest Statist

My son is 10, decked out with a crown, cape, breastplate, five o'clock shadow.

Monkey: Trick or Treat!

Older Dude on Porch: Oh, are you a knight?

Monkey: No. I'm the king, collecting taxes.

He wins scary costume of the night in my book.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Clearing Tabs

Unhappy with President Obama’s failure to get any real laughs on The Daily Show, Democrats are asking Vice-President Biden to appear on Jeopardy.

Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5. PDF at the link

So where does America stand relative to its position of five years ago when the Gathering Storm book was prepared? The unanimous view of the authors is that our nation's outlook has worsened. The present volume, Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited, explores the tipping point America now faces. Addressing America's competitiveness challenge will require many years if not decades; however, the requisite federal funding of much of that effort is about to terminate.

Malthus and capital
Why did agricultural civilization remain mired in the Malthusian trap for over 5,000 years? And how was it possible to eventually escape from it?

Barack Obama: the language a fella uses says a whole lot about his internal head space.
“If Latinos sit out the election instead of saying, 'We're going to punish our enemies and we're going to reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us,' if they don't see that kind of upsurge in voting in this election, then I think it's going to be harder."

Awesomely funny clip: Everything is amazing yet nobodys happy.

The greatest science-fiction story every written

John Carmack
... trends do matter. Small, nearly painless losses accumulate over the years, and the world can slowly change into something you don’t want while you weren’t paying attention. It doesn’t take a cataclysmic crash, just a slow accretion of over regulation, taxation, and dependency that chokes the vibrant processes that produce wealth and growth. Without growth, you get a zero sum game of fighting over the pie that breeds all sorts of problems in government and society.

My core thesis is that the federal government delivers very poor value for the resources it consumes, and that society as a whole would be better off with a government that was less ambitious. This is not to say that it doesn’t provide many valuable and even critical services, but that the cost of having the government provide them is much higher than you would tolerate from a company or individual you chose to do business with. For almost every task, it is a poor tool.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Law of Three

I don't believe half of what I see and none of what I hear.

But I do, I do, I do, believe that what you do comes back to you, three-fold.

Stuff like that will come back on you like deferred maintenance, like bad oysters, like a bad penny, ya dig that, my semi-anonymous stalker from Massachusetts?

Go find a priest: he'll give you the peace you need.

Meaty Emotion

My wife has discovered Korean soap opera: Cinderella's Sister on Hulu.

Kang-sook and her daughter Eun-jo are running away from the abusive Mr. Chang, whom they live with. Mr. Chang realizes that the two ran away with his diamond ring and sends gangsters to catch them. While running away from the gangsters, Eun-jo runs into Hyo-seon in a toilet stall on the train and tells her to keep the ring for her. Kang-sook later visits Hyo-seon's house to get her ring back and finds out that Hyo-seon's father is a rich widower. She successfully lures and marries him. Hyo-seon's father dies years later, and leaves his beloved daughter behind with a mean stepmother, an aloof stepsister, and a large inheritance. The melodramatic tale of two sisters forced to become family through marriage captured the attention of South Korea throughout its run, as it told the classic tale of Cinderella through the eyes of the stepsister, Eun-jo.

Joe Bob says 'check it out'.

My takeaway from casually watching up to episode 16 is that Korean is an excellent language for expressing strong emotion in.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Home, Again

Bi-Lateral knee surgery on the the 11th, home on the 15th. Patient is doing very, very, well. Playing nursemaid until November 1st, enjoying every bit of it.

dog on bed

Convalescence room - Convalescent not shown.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Clearing Tabs

Ken Langone:
My question to you was why, during a time when investment and dynamism are so critical to our country, was it necessary to vilify the very people who deliver that growth? Instead of offering a straight answer, you informed me that I was part of a "reckless" group that had made "bad decisions" and now required your guidance, if only I'd stop "resisting" it.

We entrust an M1A1 to a sergeant leading a team of enlisted - why are airplanes different?  It's Hap Arnold's fault.
As the Army Air Corps changed into the mighty Army Air Force (2.4 million troops and 80,000 aircraft at its peak), its capable and persuasive commander (General Hap Arnold), insisted that all pilots be officers. Actually, he wanted them all to be college graduates as well, until it was pointed out that the pool of college graduates was too small to provide the 200,000 pilots the Army Air Force eventually trained. But Arnold forced the issue on officers being pilots, and the navy had to go along to remain competitive in recruiting.

10 Search Engines to Explore the Invisible Web.

Transaction cost - am I the only one that finds this kind of stuff fascinating?
In economics and related disciplines, a transaction cost is a cost incurred in making an economic exchange (restated: the cost of participating in a market). For example, most people, when buying or selling a stock, must pay a commission to their broker; that commission is a transaction cost of doing the stock deal. Or consider buying a banana from a store; to purchase the banana, your costs will be not only the price of the banana itself, but also the energy and effort it requires to find out which of the various banana products you prefer, where to get them and at what price, the cost of traveling from your house to the store and back, the time waiting in line, and the effort of the paying itself; the costs above and beyond the cost of the banana are the transaction costs. When rationally evaluating a potential transaction, it is important to consider transaction costs that might prove significant.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Radio Voice

Heard on the radio this morning

"In response to violence in schools, Frank Lasee proposed to arm school teachers!"

Women with guns. Sheltering their charges from predators not by locking a door and hiding under a desk but shooting them dead, dead, dead. 

Sign me up.

Except that as the ad went on it became clear the radio voice was telling me this was bad, and Frank Lasee was living in some place called 'Crazy Town' and I sure don't want to live there.  The radio voice told me to vote for the other guy.

They didn't say who this was, which was very confusing.  Because they can't just say 'Lasee is a nut, vote for Joe Blow who is not' because of some crazy descision by the Supreme Court that, the radio voice told me earlier, allows shawdowy, clandestine, anonymous, evil conservative groups to flood a political race with money.  They are using this evil machination to attack a Republican candidate.

I will keep listening to NPR.  Perhaps the radio voice will clear this up, later.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Visiting Hours

Can you tell that the kids have been in for visiting hours?

Kids Are Allright

Number 3 is on the sticky: Get Better.

I have no idea what Evan wrote for Number 5.  Familiar with hanzi, I ain't.


"Ylma is having you work it out in the most gruesome way possible," I said, "using Saunt Lesper's Coordinates, so that when she teaches you how it's really done, it'll seem that much easier."

Barb was dumbfounded. I went on, "Like hitting yourself in the head with a hammer - it feels so good when you stop." This was the oldest joke in the world, but Barb hadn't heard it before, and he became so amused that he got physically excited an had to run back and forth across the kitchen several times to flame off energy.

Yeah, I'm reading Anathem. Only a quarter of the way in, I have confirmed a long-held opinion: anything Neal Stephenson can write, I'll consume.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Is a book different than a shoe?

President Obama nearly got "booked" during a rally in Philadelphia on Sunday, after someone in the crowd threw a paperback his way.

A flung book. A tome given the old heave-ho. A flinger-ino.

Blondie ventures: “Maybe a copy of that craptacular autobiography and they wanted a refund!”

If so they should talk to the author.

Pasty Update

Between my wife and I, we have friends and relations scattered from hell-to-breakfast across the country.

We love you all, but keeping in touch with just the phone takes forever.  It is inefficient. We miss people, sometimes, with important news and I am very sorry about that.

Happily, most of us have adapted to the interwebs and we use this new-fangled stuff to keep tabs on each other.

So. Late last week they had an opening at the hospital and Pasty was asked 'would you like us to schedule your knee replacement for Monday, or do you want to be in constant and irritating pain for another month until your scheduled appointment?'

Which put everything into a state of higedly-pigedly at the house.  We think it's worth it.

She's out of surgery, doctor says she is doing fine. She's in the recovery room, more updates when she's actually awake and in a real room.

I could never do that

"You were a Marine?  Oh, I could never do that, X."

Where X is a phrase like 'I could never stand the discipline' or 'I could not stand being yelled at' or 'I hate it when people tell me what to do'.

This is bullshit.

All of us put ourselves under discipline for one reason or another, and we do it willingly

If you can make the team, hold down a job, graduate college, learn a skill, you can certainly stand four years in the military.  Don't have to be an automaton, don't have to loose your individuality, neither.  Me, I had a problem with authority [1] for  few years, until I settled down: I did okay.

It's just that the consequences of screwing up in the military are more immediate.  Present a failure to adapt in the office, the consequences are slow or no promotion, loss of pay.  It's all very slow and gradual.  Failure to adapt in the military and you will find yourself doing many, many, push-ups with a metaphorical boot up your ass.

Funny - I have only heard this from younger people who have not found themselves, or older folks who are clearly losers.  Adults making a living . . . not so much.

[1] And I have the Page 11 entries [2] to prove it.
[2] Page 11 is page in the Serviceman's Record Book (SRB) where the bad stuff [3] is chronicled.
[3] The Corps, in it's wisdom, arranged the SRB very neatly.  Page 11 - the bad stuff - comes first.  The page with the good stuff, next.  The first thing your new C.O. sees as he pages through is the list of bad stuff, neatly typed and arranged line by line.  Which totally eliminates any kind of distance between one's youthful escapades and the present day.  The first thing any CO will say is 'Hmm.  I see offenses X, Y, and Z.  (long pause)  We going to have any problems?'[4]  [5]
[4] I do believe they rehearse this line at The Basic School.
[5] The one exception to this was Master Gunnery Sergent Howard, then the (so I was told) senior WM in the Marines, or at least in the 4000 MOS.  She said 'I see you had offenses X, Y, and Z.  (short pause)  Clean slate as far as I am concerned.  Don't fuck up anymore.'  Gob'less you Master Gunnery Sergeant Howard.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Chicken Anger

I wonder who my dear wife can be thinking of when she posted this

Message noted, dear one.



Aidan Cleaning Charlie's Cage

He's cleaning a bird cage.

I love the demonstrated flexibility and inventiveness.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Don't let the door hit you on the way out

Dude gets a map showing that certain (redneck) states (bumpkins) have (red states) more military (warrior class) personal (lower-income poorly educated rubes) than others. 

Disregarding common sense, cost of living, availability of ports, large tracts of land to be used for training areas, history, the obvious conclusion is that there is a growing social division of class and income between the military and 'the rest of us'.

Oh, there is some division going on.  But it is Mr. Florida and his peers that are receding out of the mainstream, not the military.

Burn Notice

Jurisdiction lacks a fire department.  Guy fails to pay the $75 bucks a year that would get the nearest department to respond.  House burns to the ground.  It is so very sad.  Clearly a failure of Libertarian ideals.

Except the fire-fighters work for the government.

And .. c'mon .. the victims would have paid out the nose for service and you think Fred's Fire Service Inc. would just ignore the found money?

Request from a Marine

“Lindsay Lohan, 24, is all over the news because she’s a celebrity drug addict. While Justin Allen 23, Brett Linley 29, Matthew Weikert 29, Justus Bartett 27, Dave Santos 21, Chase Stanley 21, Jesse Reed 26, Matthew Johnson 21, Zachary Fisher 24, Brandon King 23, Christopher Goeke 23, Sheldon Tate 27, they are all Marines who gave their lives this week, no media mention. Honor THEM by reposting…”


Tuesday, October 05, 2010


Noting Randy's interest, Doug Shaftoe squats alongside it to point out the features. "It's neutrally buoyant, so when we have it alongside like this, we have it in this foam cradle, which we will now take off." He begins jerking loose some quick release bungee cords, and molded segments of foam peel away from the ROV's hull. It drops lower in the water, nearly pulling the crewman over the side with it, and he lets go, keeping his arms extended so he can prevent it from bumping into them with each swell. "You'll notice there's no umbilical," Doug says. "Normally that is mandatory for an ROV. You need the umbilical for three reasons."

Randy grins, because he knows that Doug Shaftoe is about to enumerate the three reasons. Randy has spent almost no time around military people, but he is finding that he gets along with them surprisingly well. His favorite thing about them is their compulsive need to educate everyone around them, all the time. Randy does not need to know anything about the ROV, but Doug Shaftoe is going to give him a short course anyway. Randy supposes that when you are in a war, practical knowledge is a good thing to spread around.


I don't miss the Marines, much, but I do very much miss the culture of compulsive sharing. Out here in the civilian world sharing job-related knowledge is the exception, not the rule.  So much so that people act surprised when it happens.

Little Voice

When one does X, where X is a system start up that takes a real long time, and then one immediately opens that system's status page, and that shows the system is running just fine, thank you, and then one mutters "Wow - that was quick", one should pay attention to one's inner voice when it replies 'Mmm that was a little too quick.'

Monday, October 04, 2010

This Scout Could

Niece Heather spent a few minutes last night chuckling at Boy Scouts: only nerds, dorks, and goobers are Boy Scouts, in her world.

She's now in the backyard trying (trying) to start a fire in the out-of-doors fireplace.

Who's going to help her?

Not this Scout.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

In Your Heart You Know It's True

Progressives are vampires.  I can prove it.

Accept that vampires are real. Ignore the mystical mumb-jumbo krep about souls: merely hyper-intelligent apex predators.

Being not complete dummies, they wish to conserve their stock of prey, homo sapiens.

Western Civilization is about progress. More social integration, better technology, members are citizens, not serfs.  There are more of us, we're healthier.  But we're better armed, now, and can effectively fight back.   A society that can effectively organize to eliminate blood-sucking ghouls is, from vampire-kind's point of view, double-plus un-good.

Western Civilization is a danger to vampire-kind.

Eliminating this threat is tricky.  Push one way, anniliation and mass die-off.  Push too hard in another, you get a stronger culture.

The prudent thing for Vampires to do is slowly devolve this civilization into a mass of superstition, gullibility, and malleability.  People who will depend not on themselves for their needs and their thinking: the President, the pop star on teevee, someone.  They require prey smart enough to feed themselves, but not so smart they question what goes on around them: dumb down the schools, eliminate critical thinking.  

The end-game is a gentle decline into fuedalism and a new Dark Age.  Ideal hunting grounds for vampires. 

Serfs, not citizens.  Prey, not competition.

I submit that the actions of certain elements of the Progressive wing of politics in America are indistinguisible from the actions of blood-sucking ghouls.

Progressives are vampires, man.  The majority of humans in that wing are, at best, deluded dupes.

Friday, October 01, 2010


Sweet Jesus and His Disciples in a side car: I hate ignorant people.

Like this guy at Boots and Sabers.  Thinks that because you are in a family restaurant in Madison that you get a magic cloak preventing crazy people from loosing their shit around you.

A Son of Liberty: People don’t carry a firearm because their rights are threatened… they carry one because THEY feel threatened.

liberalssavetheword: In a culvers… madison. RIGHT.

Have I mentioned how much cute non-informative nicknames piss me off?  Sign your name or shut the hell up.

In a culvers… madison. RIGHT.

Do not be a nimrod

Violence happens everywhere, not just on dark cloudy nights on the wrong side of town. 

One of the worst massacres I have heard of happened in a Luby’s of all places: a cafeteria full of senior citizens and families on a budget eating lime jello and pretty good meatloaf.  Dude went mental, crashed his truck through the front window, started shooting people.  This was before Texas got some sane gun laws so he shot people dead for a real long time before the police arrived.

Think a Culver’s in Madison has a ward preventing insane people from strolling in?  What is it like in Happy Land?

What else pisses me off?  The Army.

Several hundred newbie troops at Missouri's Fort Leonard Wood and Oklahoma's Fort Sill will soon get either the popular Apple gimcrack or an Evo Android smart phone to make their transition into the Army go a little more smoothly.

They are giving IPods to recruits.  Yeah,we will give an expensive toy to a lazy, fat-headed civilian kid to make the transition to Army life easier.  Maybe they can have the drill sergeants make their beds for them and wake them up gently in the morning.  Maybe they can bring them a cup of water at night, just like mommy does.

 It is like they forgot that their job is to close with and destroy the enemy though fire and maneuver, or to repel the enemy's assault with fire and close combat. Actually go and and shoot people and hit them on the fucking head, slash open their guts with bayonet.

Except, oh wait, they are not teaching them to do that anymore.

When a US Army general made the decision recently to remove bayonet assaults from the array of skills soldiers must learn during basic training, it seemed like a no-brainer.

Because, in the future, all war fighting will happen in some magic happy place where you don't have to get dirty: Our Brave Soldiers will point their fingers and say 'phsssssh', loud noises being aggressive and we couldn't have that in Our Army, now could we? We are too busy stroking our IPODs and wishing for an imaginary future that ISN'T GOING TO HAPPEN.

Jack wagons.