Bubblegum Undisturbed

St. Peters considers smokeless tobacco ban on city property:

Smoke-filled meetings at City Hall disappeared years ago, but with a brand new Justice Center, city leaders have a new target — tobacco spit.

The city, which already bans smoking in its buildings, is considering prohibiting smokeless tobacco.

St. Peters Mayor Len Pagano said the idea of a ban came to him after he watched a man spit tobacco juice on the sidewalk in front of City Hall. The issue is cleanliness, he said.

“It’s really unsanitary to have something like that and spit it out on the ground,” Pagano said. “It’s like a blob of tar or something.”

Apparently, St. Peters has elected someone who has never stepped in gum on a public street. Either that, or one who sees tobacco as a convenient strop upon which to sharpen his statist mala fides.

The Great Leader Squares The Circle

They said Barack Obama could perform miracles, and lo! He has made this circle into a square:

One closing remark that I want to make: It is inexcusable for any Democrat or progressive right now to stand on the sidelines in this midterm election. There may be complaints about us not having gotten certain things done, not fast enough, making certain legislative compromises. But right now, we’ve got a choice between a Republican Party that has moved to the right of George Bush and is looking to lock in the same policies that got us into these disasters in the first place, versus an administration that, with some admitted warts, has been the most successful administration in a generation in moving progressive agendas forward.

The Republican Party has moved to the right of George W. Bush, and yet wants to impose the policies of the person whose policies the party has moved to the right of.

Say what you will about the President promising to stop the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet, but he certainly imposes his will upon mere logic.

Charlie Dooley Wants More Power, Democratic Voters

If you read between the lines in this short teaser from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, that’s what you can infer.

He talks about a city/county merger:

In a meeting Monday morning with Post-Dispatch editorial writers and reporters, St. Louis County Executive Charlie A. Dooley said a city-county merger would go a long way towards hearling the area’s economic malaise, while also making government more efficient.

Dooley, a Democrat who is running for re-election in November against Republican Bill Corrigan, said that such a union may be feasible in the not-too-distant future.

He said he would be willing to discuss the issue with St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay.

“We need to (merge),” Dooley said. “The chances now are better than before but the city officials of St. Louis are not all on the same page on this issue because they have constituencies that they answer to.”

He’s really preaching to the choir when he tells this to the Post-Dispatch, which has been cheerleading a reunion for years. Realistically, though, the city gets access to county tax dollars and puts its corrupt mitts into county development, and the county gets to be cool as defined by city dwellers and the Post-Dispatch by being associated with the cool city. I don’t see the citizens voting this in, but notice Dooley doesn’t mention talking to the citizens. He wants to talk to other Democratic elected officials to make it happen.

And what else does Dooley get? Hundreds of thousands of Democratic voters to vote in County elections. For people like him.

Dooley also has a plan to consolidate power into the hands of a few county officials:

Dooley also said that he would work to consolidate services among the county’s 91 municipalities, especially police and fire departments.

You like living in a municipality that handles its own affairs, elects its own officials, and holds them accountable? Dooley doesn’t want any of that. He wants you to bow to whomever your friends in Florissant, Arnold, and most importantly the city of St. Louis elect for you. All that delicious, delicious power and authority in the hands of a County Executive. Someone enlightended, like Dooley himself, no doubt.

Charlie Dooley is bold in making these pronouncements in an election year where the political winds are quite opposite of the proposals he’s making. Of course, he’s making them to the St. Louis daily paper whose circulation pretty much only includes the similar-minded these days.

(Cross-posted on 24th State.)

Only Because Realer Men Punched Them When The Real Men Didn’t Change The Radio Station

Apparently, a British survey of some sort REM most likely to make men cry:

EVERYBODY Hurts by REM is the song most likely to make grown men cry.

The teary ballad sung by Michael Stipe and used as a Haiti earthquake charity single earlier this year was named in a recent survey.

On one hand, this survey was taken in Britain, where we have secretly replaced Real Men with yobs on crystal, and apparently no one has noticed. On the same hand, they don’t have resonant patriotic songs over there.

Because, frankly, I cannot speak ex cathedra about what real men might or might not do, but there’s not an REM song in the world that moves me in any fashion whatsoever.

Songs that move me (and by move, I don’t mean make me cry, but make my breast well up and my eyes pinch a bit) include “The Star-Spangled Banner”, “God Bless America”, “God Bless the USA”, and some other patriotic songs when I think about the heritage I might pass onto my children. Sometimes I get twinged by songs about fathers and sons (not “The Living Years”, though). When I was a young man, the song that made me saddest in a romantic vein was “Hearts Away” by Nightranger. Go figure.

But “Everybody Hurts”? Come on, that’s a retread of Wilson Phillips “Hold On” if you slowed it down, made it more self-indulgent, and shaved Chynna Phillips’ head.

Maybe after a decade and a half of Labour in power in Britain, though, it’s a song everyone there can relate to.

Her Audience: People Who Don’t Understand Civics and Math

Nancy Pelosi: “I will still be Speaker in five weeks.

Yes, luv, some of us who are paying attention know you will be Speaker of the House until January, 2011. Whereupon some Republican will take the gavel and hopefully will have the class to not strike muscle-flexing poses immediately.

We’re the type of citizen she probably fears most: Understands civics, can perform basic arithmetic, and has a memory longer than 30 days.

(Cross-posted at 24th State. Link seen here.)

I Can’t Wait For The Fundamental National Transformation To Be Complete

America is undergoing a fundamental transformation, and frankly, I’m eager for it to finish because I’m tired of the confusion I have sometimes during the transition. It’s the second time the very basic nature of American life has changed this way since I can remember the 1970s and the alteration of basic behavior then. But even then, there was not confusion nor antics during the transition.

In the 1970s, restrooms transitioned from the continuous loop of damp towel paradigm to either air dryers or paper towel dispensers. Throughout this change, instructions or basics made it simple for people with wet hands to receive drying media. But in the early 21st century, the transition from tactilely operated drying mechanisms to automatic machinery is making things difficult for America, and by “America,” I mean me and my ability to project.

Because who hasn’t stood in the bathroom with dripping paws and just for a minute hasn’t confronted a strange machine that doesn’t make clear whether it requires one to operate a lever that the designers who have generously designed to look like a naturally occurring contour of the machine or it requires the user to trigger an electronic eye that the designers have generously hidden in a naturally occurring contour of the machine.

Frankly, I feel like Scotty in Star Trek IV when confronted with a 20th century computer. And I hate it when the men’s room door opens on me waving my hands and saying in a particularly poor Scottish accent, “Hello, towel dispenser….”

I will be glad when the towel dispenser transition concludes and we can have relative peace and certainty with our public restroom facilities. Relative peace, of course, because no doubt they will eventually cue off of our implanted chips to deliver the minimum amount of towel that we will use without attempting to trigger it again and to play our favorite dry tone. At least until the great water crises of the 21st century eliminate water-based handwashing entirely and replace it with nothing but alcohol-based sanitizer dispensers.

In The News Today

News story covering events:

A Chicago man has been charged with plotting to bomb a strip of crowded night spots around the time people were leaving a Dave Matthews concert at Wrigley Field over the weekend.

Sami Samir Hassoun, 22, was arrested as he placed a backpack containing what he thought were high-explosives in a trash can in front of Sluggers, about a block south of Wrigley Field, according to the FBI.

Houssoun had also discussed other violent plots in Chicago, including a biological attack on the city, poisoning Lake Michigan, attacking police officers, bombing the Willis Tower and assassinating Mayor Richard Daley, the FBI said.

Thoughtful analysis from the left, in this case, Eugene Robinson:

When did the American right become such a bunch of fraidy-cats and professional victims? Or is it all just an act?

Of course, he was not analyzing the related story. He was casting aspersions on the right, moored only in his preconceived notions.

On the plus side, when you stick your head that far into the sand, you can actually hear the earth’s core bubbling.

Book Report: The Bug by Ellen Ullman (2003)

Well, there it is. A novel about QA. Well, no, strike that, it’s a literary novel set in software development in the 1980s where a software defect is the MacGuffin and one of the main characters is a software tester.

Not by choice, oh, no. You can tell you’re reading a LITERARY book because the main character is clear to state that she has a doctorate in linguistics and only ends up working as a software tester when her academic career peters out. This is how you direct a book to an audience that does not work in the field the book covers, by saying ATTENTION! This character is the fish out of water and will explain to you the things you need to know because this character is just like you (in the field of academics or whoever reads Literary novels) except they work somewhere exotic (software development in the 1980s).

The book, as I mentioned, takes place at a database developer in 1984. They’re building a database from the ground up, including a GUI front end written from scratch that uses a mouse and everything. The main character, aforementioned, finds a defect that crashes the system, but is hard to replicate and appears to happen randomly, but usually in big demos. The book bounces back and forth between a first person double-effect narrator (since the story is told from present day ca. 2000ish after the dot.com bubble bursts, spurred when the narrator sees the one of the old screens still in use) and a limited omniscient narrator peering into the point of view of the developer to whom the defect is assigned.

The defect itself is a MacGuffin since the book deals mostly with the break-up of the tester’s and the developer’s personal relationship and the breakdown of the developer as he doesn’t think he’s a good developer and struggles to find this bug. That’s pretty much it. Enough technospeak and actual code and UNIX commands thrown into the mix, kind of like you’d find Hindi interspersed through a Kipling work to add authenticity. The tester finds self-actualization or empowerment by learning to code. The developer abruptly hangs himself, and even that did not cheer me. Uh, retroactive spoiler alert.

I didn’t care for it much, either for the plot nor the technical aptitude. The main characters are pathetic; I didn’t like either of them. The secondary characters are very, very stock and cardboard. The other testers are, essentially, the boss who is tough and fair minded and the other one whose dialogue mostly consists of her character tic of saying, “Meep.” The developers are mostly interchangeable except for their specialties, told to us of course. And I don’t know what the point of the frame story is, frankly. To show us the pathetic main character becomes rich but remains pathetic? Or to allow someone to feasibly set a book in 1984 when it’s written in 2002?

The best QA fiction is definitely genre fiction, mainly a thriller. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been written.

Books mentioned in this review:

What Kind Of Daddy Does That?

Now that I’m the Daddy, I can put my own damn art on the refrigerator:

A pastoral landscape in construction paper

Because let’s face it, the four-year-old and the two-year-old only have relatively rudimentary skills in construction paper pseudomosaic at this time. And that’s relative to my skill, which is rudimentary to most second graders.

And that thing in the foreground is not a windmill, curse your eyes! It’s a flower.

MORE ABSOLUTELY TRUE UNPROVEN RUMORS ABOUT CHRISTINE O’DONNELL!

Exclusive! Must credit MfBJN!

  • Christine O’Donnell once wrote bad poetry about how misunderstood she was and/or how much she loved someone!
  • Christine O’Donnell once played Dungeons and Dragons!
  • And she played a paladin! Everyone knows girls can’t play paladins!
  • Christine O’Donnell once posted on an Internet gun forum touting the quality of Taurus handguns!
  • Christine O’Donnell once said that the Washington Redskins were in the state of Washington!
  • Christine O’Donnell once smoked a joint! It was part of the chicken wing. AND SHE LIKED IT!
  • Christine O’Donnell is not a real brunette! She is a redhead who is trying to pass as normal.

Watch for more breaking truths as I invent them!

Finally, A Charity To Help Out Poor, Destitute Live Musicians and Concert Promoters

Hear the Music Live:

Hear the Music live was created to reach out to pre-teens and teens in foster homes and orphanages to give them the opportunity to attend a concert in their local area that they may otherwise never have the opportunity to see.

At Hear the Music Live, we understand that pre-teens and teens in foster care homes or orphanages may not have the opportunity to enjoy activities that other teens are experiencing. We hope to bring some joy to these teens through music. Hear the Music Live is the vision of our founder, Steven Nornhold who has a life-long passion for music and understands that some teens are missing out on some opportunities that many others take for granted.

You know, that’s not high on my list of funding priorities. I was 18 before I won tickets on a radio show and saw my first concert, and somehow I managed.

Still, when concert attendance declines as prices continue to go up, it’s good to see someone helping prop up the industry.

When Did I Become That Kind Of Guy?

We had some pretty fierce storms here in the Springfield area last week, and at one point the wind and rain lashed at the west side of our house. We have a walkout basement, and some water dripped in over the door. The next morning, I went out to inspect the door to see how the water was coming in. The door frame is inset from the brick exterior, and the mortar connecting the bricks to the lintel had broken down.

So I did what I was supposed to do: I grabbed a hammer, chisel, and wire brush and chipped out the broken mortar. I brushed the loose stuff out, sanded and painted the lintel, and then thought about the mortar. I found eighty pound bags of it at the hardware store, but that seemed a little excessive, so I used this caulk gun mortar patch to draw and shape a nice bead of caulk all the way across.

Still, at some point as I was tapping away, spraying mortar dust all over my tender little beading hands, I wondered How do I know how to do this?.

My background isn’t in the building trades. My other houses were asbestos shingle (later vinyl siding) and vinyl siding. My sainted mother never did anything like this when I was around. When I lived with my father, who had worked in the building trades and probably knew how to do this, I was a smart ass college kid with no time for that. And face it, my recent readings in Kipling, Epictetus, and handicrafts didn’t cover it.

But there I was.

Maybe I read it in one of the do-it-yourself magazines I took some years ago. Maybe I did see my father do it somewhere. Or maybe well water just has free-floating radical testosterone in it that naturally gives a man the ability to work with his hands.

It always impresses my wife when I do something handy around the house, making a small improvement or repair. Sometimes, though, it impresses even me.

It’s Only A Trade-off When You Have A Choice

The same old story:

Some longtime users were furious.

“My dishes were dirtier than before they were washed,” one wrote last week in the review section of the Web site for the Cascade line of dishwasher detergents. “It was horrible, and I won’t buy it again.”

“This is the worst product ever made for use as a dishwashing detergent!” another consumer wrote.

Like every other major detergent for automatic dishwashers, Procter & Gamble’s Cascade line recently underwent a makeover. Responding to laws that went into effect in 17 states in July, the nation’s detergent makers reformulated their products to reduce what had been the crucial ingredient, phosphates, to just a trace.

Right. Notice that in the named example, the corporation changed its formulation to comply with state law. Now, notice how the journalist slides into talking about consumer choices:

Yet now, with the content reduced, many consumers are finding the new formulas as appealing as low-flow showers, underscoring the tradeoffs that people often face today in a more environmentally conscious marketplace.

A tradeoff occurs when people make a decision. In some places, low-flow shower heads are still a customer choice. Unlike, say, low flow toilets and incandescent light bulbs.

Your governments are hard at work to eliminate the trade-offs entirely by making sure you don’t get to trade dirty dishes for ungreen conscience. You just get the dirty dishes, citizen, and unless you want to expose yourself to future reeducation or loss of dishwasher privilege entirely, you will accept it.

(Link seen on Instapundit.)

Another Public/Private Success Story

City collects special money to help developer out building a mostly empty development, then the developer goes bankrupt.

Pulaski foreclosed on a loan to Sappington Square LLC last year and is suing the corporation. In the meantime, a special one-cent sales tax that is designed to finance $2.5 million in public improvements at the site is still being collected, and the new agreement is needed to allow Pulaski Bank to access those funds as a developer.

How are cities going to make up for these losses on individual public-private partnerships? Volume.

I guess we know what happened to the people left unemployed by the Internet bubble of the late 1990s and who blew vast amounts of capital on things like Pets.com. They went back to school and got into government.

You Can’t Use A Gun To Fill A Carrying Case In St. Charles

Shotgun triggers lockdown at Francis Howell campus:

Francis Howell High School and Francis Howell Union, the district’s alternative high school, were shuttered about noon after security spotted a Remington shotgun in a nylon case in a silver Pontiac Grand Am that was parked in the rear of the campus, said Sheriff’s Lt. Dave Tiefenbrunn.



The brothers never entered the school and had no weapons on them when they were arrested, Tiefenbrunn said. Authorities withheld their names pending charges of misdemeanor trespassing and unlawful use of a weapon. [Emphasis added.]

Just having a weapon apparently is unlawful use to St. Charles prosecutors. How awesome is that?

Proper Decorum

If decorum is Latin for “something to hang on your wall”:


In case of prison riot, break glass
Click for full size

I made this out of a standing photo album frame, a piece of black felt, some fishing line, and a garbage-disposal-mangled spoon.

I’d had the concept for quite sometime; I’d intended to make it as a Christmas present for my employee back when I was leader of a QA department. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much of a workshop at the time, and it got kinda shelved. Eventually I acquired the frame which is perfect for it (and a workshop).

I got the spoon from my mother, so it’s one of the ones I ate cereal with for most of my youth. Wow, nostalgia is washing over me. I’ve got a personal relic post coming on sometime soon, but this isn’t it.