Contrast with an Economic Headline

The newspaper urges caution:

Isaac won't cure the draught

Urging caution, the headline reminds us that Isaac will not heal the fall of the lake levels. It won’t, in a couple of days, fill the reservoirs and the aquifer. As a matter of fact, it doesn’t even seem to indicate that it’s a step in the right direction, some good news amid a summer of only bad, or anything positive.

In short, it’s the opposite of all the economic headlines one gets, where every encouraging step means we’ve turned the corner into a new Gilded Age. Where a fall in the rate of increasing numbers of people seeking public assistance or unemployment benefits heralds a great recovery, regardless of the fact that the numbers of people unemployed increases.

Strange disparity there.

Range Report (II)

On Wednesday night, I went to Kohl’s and got the shams. Yea, verily, that does sound like a disease instead of decorative pillows, and it’s just a destructive to one’s manhood. So I went to the shooting range yesterday for the cure.

Actually, my mother-in-law had wanted for a very long time to take a basic handgun course and to practice with the little Smith and Wesson Combat Masterpiece her brother gave her for self-protection a decade ago, and I went along for lunch and for moral support.

We got a 30 minute talk about gun safety and how the revolver works, and then we got a chance to put some rounds down range. Well, seven yards down range. Is that far enough to be “down range”?

The instructor fired three to show how the gun works, and then my M-i-L and I alternated a couple of loads. She fired twelve, and I fired eleven. And I have to say I did pretty well for someone who hasn’t fired a gun in nearly four years:

Target August 30 2012

I put about half of my shots into the 10-ring or the X-ring. I think I like the wheel guns better, at least at the outset here, because you can see the mechanism working and know with better certainty when the bang is coming and you can pause en media res better to make sure you’re still lined up on the target.

Comes a self-defense situation, though, I think I’d still want more bullets.

Now my mother-in-law has expressed interest in taking a concealed carry class, and it’s entirely possible I’ll be along for moral support again. We’re a mutual excuse society in that.

So it was a good time, and almost enough to make one forget that one knows the difference between American and Euro shams. Although, in my defense, I have a beautiful wife who wanted the shams.

Book Report: You Can Tell You’re A Midwesterner When…. by Dale Grooms (2001)

Book coverThis book is a collection of 90 pages of 2-3 quips per page filling out the set-up You can tell you’re a Midwesterner when….. They’re almost akin to Jeff Foxworthy’s redneck series, but a little less absolutely funny. They skew a little northern Midwest than Missouri, and they’re about small town living more than big city quips. A couple of them ring true, with a deeper understanding and statement of small town America than others.

An amusing, short read that I browsed while watching the preseason football game. I’d better stock up on these sorts of things and coloring books, since this in only the 55th book I’ve read this year and will have to make tracks if I want to get close to 100.

Books mentioned in this review:

Republic, Missouri, Opts Not To Curtail Citizen Freedom

The city of Republic, Missouri, which has considered whether to mandate a trash collection service for its citizens instead of allowing residents to choose a trash hauler, has decided not to take that small bit of liberty after all:

A years long trash debate in the city of Republic created a stinky situation. City Council met Monday night to decide if the city should take over trash operations and sign business over to one company. Currently, it’s up to individuals to hire trash haulers. In a 2-6 decision, council silenced the situation and killed the measure.

The citizens’ freedom to choose overcame the government’s self-interest arguments (save money on the road wear) and the government’s benefits for citizens arguments (it would give the citizens a lower rate).

So a small victory for limited government this week in a small town in southwest Missouri. Maybe that explains why it’s so hard to find news coverage of it.

Cheyenne Is Okay

Last night, on our way home from dinner and some shopping (where my beautiful wife somehow walked out of a Kohls with several articles of clothing, two high-end pillows, and a king sized 8-piece bed set for twelve cents that she happened to have in her wallet), we saw a fire truck turning off of our road. Uh oh, I thought. They don’t tend to just cruise the neighborhood, and when my wife pointed out it was a Nixa fire truck, it meant something bad.

But not mortally bad as it turns out.

Fire crews were called out to a hay bale fire in the 4400 block of S. Farm Road 115 Wednesday afternoon.

. . . .

A horse trailer was also caught in the fire, but no animals or firefighters were injured.

It was Cheyenne‘s barn, if you’re keeping track.

Wither the Live Bloggers?

So the Republican National Convention has started up, not so much that one would notice from the live blogging going on.

Vodkapundit? Nothing.

Ace? Open threads, not Blog It Live action.

Instapundit? No notices of other bloggers live blogging it.

I see a lot of open threads on my usual haunts, but no live blogging.

What could account for this?

Has the medium grown up? Have the bloggers grown up? Or is it that the people who would usually treat the elections as a spectator sport deserving of traffic-driving instant commentary think that this election is vitally important and are out there working on the election?

If that’s the case, it bodes ill for the forces of complacency and stay-at-home-on-November-26.

Brian J.’s Children Are In School: A Dramatic Re-Creation

My children are back in school, including my youngest, who has begun a full-time Pre-Kindergarten program this year. For the first time in many years, I run errands without toddlers toddling behind me, without having to keep my head on a swivel to watch for malfeasance or just childfeasance. I can’t help myself, though, continuing to chant things like, “C’mon, laddies,” or “Stretch ’em, short legs,” as I’m moving through the store.

Even though there’s no one trailing me.

Suddenly, I am Exidor.

I used to be Mork, but now, with the inclusion of giving navigational instructions to people who aren’t there, I’ve elevated to a new plane.

The Stages of Aging on the Internet

The stages of Internet Aging:

  1. You’re young, and you read the hip sites like Fark and watch the Internet memes as they emerge.
     
  2. You’re middle-aged, and you see Internet memes going on all around you and recognize them as memes, but you have to read Know Your Meme to understand the source. When you reach this age, you often refer to formerly hip sites as “hip,” not knowing whether they’re still hip or not because you don’t visit them any more.
     
  3. You damn kids, get offa my blog!

I’m, thankfully, only middle-aged in Internet years (I had to visit KYM yesterday to try to glean the reasoning or source behind ERMAHGERD, and I couldn’t find any sense in it), although my blog’s traffic numbers might indicate I’d reached level 3 and succeeded.

Also, note that I have owned the domain names whatyourkidsnow.com from a time when I was in stage 1 and thought we’d start something like a KYM site for parents to understand their damn kids. None of the above stages say anything about not being lazy.

UPDATE: See also the stages of aging in celebrity news appreciation courtesy Tam K.

Also, note the tipping point in one’s music appreciation as demonstrated by the content of one’s musical library. At some point, and not some point when one’s body sags anywhere, that one will discover that more of the artists in his or her musical library are dead, many of old age and not drug overdoses or suicide at 28, than are alive. I’ve passed that tipping point already.

Book Report: Winning through Intimidation by Robert J. Ringer (1974)

Book coverThis book is a 1970s-era business book designed to help you understand the cut-throat world of business where everyone you do business with is out to get you, and how you can adopt a strong posture to defend yourself against these tactics and intimidate them into honoring their commitments. Ringer was a business real-estate salesman in the era where the Dirty Harry movies were contemporary commentaries and the apartment buildings he sold were bedecked in shag carpeting, avocado appliances, and bead curtains.

That said, it’s a worthwhile book once you re-orient the book’s focus to a more realistic worldview (where not all businesspeople are sharks). It has valuable lessons in attitude focus and sustenance (Theory of Sustenance of a Positive Attitude through the Assumption of a Negative Result) and a number of good lessons in professional image presentation and management. So you can still find something in the book worth remembering almost 30 years later. As a matter of fact, Ringer refocused and rereleased the book this century as To Be or Not To Be Intimidated.

It’s a quick enough read, engaging in prose and laden with a couple of life lessons and the philosophy interspersed with real-life stories of deals that Ringer closed and how they proved his pudding.

Additionally, he invokes Ayn Rand in the first sentence. Turns out, he’s still alive and an active advocate of laissez-faire capitalism with a very nice looking Web site and everything.

I’m glad to have read it, and I’m a bit amazed to find out how collectible this mass market paperback is.

(Oh, yeah, and I did a parallel review for IT industry folks over at QA Hates You if you’re so inclined.)

Books mentioned in this review:

Book Report: The Barrabas Creed by Jack Hild (1988)

Book coverThis book is definitely not one of the stronger entries in the series (contrast with Red Hammer Down, Point Blank, and Gulag War). Actually, I think I liked Gulag War the best and have been hopeful that these books would recapture some of its pulp glory, but for the most part, after it they’ve all been hackish.

This one, too, suffers from more problems than good parts. The books spends a good portion of the first half with the set-up, which is before the title characters appear. Apparently, there are some elements of the Bolivian armed forces double-crossing US anti-drug military forces and Bolivian military members in the field; the Swedish prime minister is assassinated; there’s a coup in Bolivia where a crooked general with the backing of a Swedish chemist who can make artificial cocaine throws out a democratic reformer. Then we have a chapter of the Washington contact for the SOBs being pulled away from a glorious dinner to tend to the problem. Then we have a long chapter of the team members on their own after their recent most adventure getting restless and awaiting the call from Barrabas. Then, some sixty percent of the way through the book, they get to Bolivia, split up into teams, and then we get some jump cuts between the teams, even the team that is essentially sitting around and doing nothing, and more not much exciting happens, until we reach a simplistic climax that is a bit deus ex maquina. Most of the team doesn’t get a lot of action, but they get a lot of pages.

Again, the book does have the feel of an eighties action film baked right into it, but it’s more akin to a straight-to-VHS action film than something that would star Chuck Norris.

Books mentioned in this review:

My Library Is Deep, As Are My Archives

Brian J., you ask, why do you keep everything like you do, especially books, pamphlets, and some ephemera (but not as much as Lileks)?

Because someday I might need it. For research.

Of course, when I was young, I imagined it would be for important works of literature that would speak to readers about the journey of man from life to death and the struggle for meaning along the way. But that was back in the 20th century. Now I know better, of course, and my 21st century sights are set more along the lines of After civilization collapses, my physical books will be the things that brings Man out of his new Dark Age, and by that I mean the bastard that shoots me down will warm himself for several days by burning my tomes.

Aside from that, though, I do go to the books now and then. Continue reading “My Library Is Deep, As Are My Archives”

Book Report: The Dumbest Moments in Business History edited by Adam Horowitz and the editors of Business 2.0 (2001)

Book cover I had hoped that this book would be akin to Dear Customer: You Are A Loser so I could get double duty out of it and to post a blog entry on QAHY about it (such as this, which apparently actually sold a copy of the title to my benefit).

Oh, but no.

Instead, this book is a collection of short anecdotes about bad business ideas throughout history (this just in: Tulip futures in Holland hundreds of years ago–what up with that?) and out-of-context quotes from luminaries and businessmen (hey, it’s 2001: let’s throw something in from Bill Gates! Hah! I didn’t get it, and neither will most people who weren’t at the Microsoft convention!). Worse, in a lot of cases, the anecdotes seem anti-capitalist (Martha Stewart got hers for insider trading on the ImClone thing! Neener neener neener! Although in truth she was convicted for conspiracy and obstruction of justice). I mean, what sort of magazine is Business 2.0 to revel in that?

Oh, a failed magazine. Right.

(Full disclosure: I was a subscriber there at the end, when they killed it and sent me Fortune magazine to fill the subscription instead.)

At any rate, it’s a brief read for an idea book, but not something worth spending a lot of review time on, and not something I enjoyed all that much, really.

Books mentioned in this review:

Things I Remember When I Remember To

A couple things that have just disappeared, and their disappearance has gone unnoticed for the most part until someone points it out.

  • When police used the word “suspect.” Now, of course, no one is ever a suspect. They are a “person of interest” until the time they are arrested. I don’t get it. Was the term “suspect” sexist or racist?
     
  • Rusty cars on the road. When I was growing up, it wasn’t uncommon to see cars with rust on them. A lot of rust on them. Partly that’s my cohort of the era, but also it’s because fiberglass and plastic have replaced metals in vehicle exteriors, so there’s nothing to rust except the three pins holding the cars together. Of course, one might say that one does not see as many old cars as one used to, but you know what? Old cars look a lot like the new cars. Sometime in 1993 or 1994, the design of cars changed forever to accommodate CAFE standards, and they’re all wind-tunnelled-to-death blobs of fuel efficiency, and Tauruses from 1998 look a lot like Camrys from 2012. And then the car starts to get to that breakdown point, it fails expensively from the inside, and in the course of a year or two, there’s a great Automobile Rapture that calls all instances of a model home. Remember Neons? Remember Saturns? The roads were lousy with them, and now they’re just….gone. Without rusting first.
     
  • Tags on shirts. Remember those? They used to itch, sometimes, but most importantly, they allowed you to dress in the dark since you could feel the tag and orient the shirt. Now, I spend many morning hours walking around in shirts that are inside out and backwards because the shirt manufacturers want to save a couple ha’ pennies’ worth of paper and a couple stitches.

If I were Andy Rooney, I could probably get 600 words out of each cantankerous thought. But Andy Rooney was a professional, and he got paid for it. If I were getting paid for it, I could stretch that out, too. But since you’re a freeloader, you get the steno version, gentle reader.

Who Really Destroyed the Death Star?

George Lucas started messing with the real story of Star Wars even before the whole “Greedo shot first” revision of history and the attempt to market Darth Vader: The Early Years as some sort of heroic epic.

No, Lucas altered the story of Star Wars even before it reached the cinema:

Luke Skywalker did not destroy the Death Star.

Come on, reason it out: Skywalker was a seventeen-year-old moisture farm boy suffering from post-concussion syndrome whose experience piloting a small attack craft was cruising along the surface of Tatooine in a hovercraft and a couple of hours riding on the Millennium Falcon. Lucas wants you to believe he just suited up, hopped into a short range attack fighter, fought dogfights in the three-dimensional and zero gravity environment of space, and blew up an attack station?

Banta crap. You want to know who really blew up the Death Star? Continue reading “Who Really Destroyed the Death Star?”

Don’t Blame Me; I Voted For Steelman

McCaskill got the opponent she wanted, and Todd Akin is showing why she wanted him.

This is a political blunder of the highest order. Regardless of how he prefaces it that it’s based on his knowledge (not revealed truth or expertise), regardless of whether his main point that abortion punishes the fetus for the crimes of a father, look at how bad it sounds on its face and then imagine how bad it will sound in McCaskill’s ads.

Todd Akin has been in Washington a long time, and it shows.

A lot of people have jumped on the terms “legitimate rape,” as though this is the most stupid or the most evil concept ever; however, it is not. Some claims of rape are not legitimate, such as the famous Duke La Crosse case. I’m no expert on these things, but I can imagine circumstances and have read claims of instances where a drunken hook-up or some other factor makes a woman reconsider a tryst and later claim it was rape. If that’s the case, it’s an actual rape. Ergo, there is legitimate rape, and there are illegitimate claims of rape. I can see what Akin might have been meaning to differentiate amid his scientific ignorance.

The condemnation is flowing from the social media (see the vigorous venom and condemnation for this blunder on PJMedia, Hot Air Headlines, and Mediaite). Soon, the nationwide money will flow copiously into McCaskill’s coffers, and some Republicans–me included–will wonder whether it’s better to write in Sarah Steelman than to vote for a man who’s already been in Washington long enough that he sometimes forgets where he “lives” in Missouri.

I Can Bring Home the Sizzlean

So the older child announces fifteen minutes before we leave for school that he has show and tell, and he needs something that begins with M. Although only six, the boy immediately comes up with “Money!” because he hopes that either I’ll give him some American money, and he will get to keep it, or that I’ll let him take some out of his piggy bank, and he’ll get to spend it.

Oh, but no.

Fortunately, my desk is a veritable Hammerspace (the term I discovered when trying to remember the source of the phrase Trenchcoat Schtick which I remembered from a single gaming session at Gencon in the late 1990s–apparently, I was playing a demo session of Tales from the Floating Vagabond).

As such, I was able to immediately lay my hands on a couple pieces of money for him to show and tell:

Foreign money for show and tell

The top is a 500 Afghanis note, and the bottom is a single Trinidad and Tobago dollar.

Where did I get these? They were on my desk.

Seriously, though, I don’t know where I got them. I used to have a little sack of foreign money that I’d acquired from traveling relatives and whatnot, but I sold that sometime in college or immediately post-college to raise some capital to invest in driving my little car to the Central West End for some coffee or some such. These new bills I have acquired sometime in the last two decades then.

They got onto my desk because they’d resided in the drawer of my office’s second desk, and I had recently (within the last six months) scoured those drawers for something else and came up with the bills, which I’d hoped to put into a more displayable form or something.

But now they’ve been to school and back to save the day, and they’re back on the desk in the sea of rubble which includes a single card from The Worst Case Scenario Game, an extraneous copy of Robert B. Parker’s Rough Weather (which I find a lot at yard sales and think I’ll fill out my collection with the books I’ve read from the library, only to discover it’s always Rough Weather for sale at garage sales), empty coin folders for Lincoln Cents 1959 to Present and Jefferson Nickels from 1962 to Present, and a copy of Dallas: The Television Role Playing Game.

My desk is, indeed, a wonderland.

A Nogglean Law

So, all spring and summer we watched them work one of the horses at the public stable at the end of our farm road, and I took to calling the horse Boots because its legs were black.

One day recently, I saw a woman riding the horse down the farm road, and I asked her what its name is. “Cheyenne,” she said, and I explained that I’d called it Boots and now I’d call it by its right name from now on. Later, I realized I hadn’t asked her name nor given her my name as she rode along, but who cares about the people, hey?

At any rate, it proves a data point that supports the Nogglean law that Cities in Wyoming make good names for horses.

Compare and contrast the potential horse names from cities in Wyoming and Illinois:

Wyoming city Illinois city
Cheyenne Chicago
Cody Carbondale
Laramie Sauget
Sheridan Rock Island
Casper Joilet
Baggs Moline

Q.E.D.

Today’s fun fact: There are almost as many incorporated municipalities in St. Louis County, Missouri (91) as there are in the entire state of Wyoming (99). How many are there in the state of Illinois? Too many.