Thebastidge: 04/01/2008 - 05/01/2008
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    Monday, April 28, 2008

    Some days...

    Sometimes it's just hard to find the motivation to go to work. Then you get there and all you want to do is go the hell home.

    Wednesday, April 23, 2008

    Definition of responsibility

    It's for the poor

    Public Restaurants: an analogy.

    Tuesday, April 22, 2008

    H. R. 5782

    Mr. Baird,

    I support H. R. 5782 and I urge you to do so also. Just as each state must recognize the driver's license from another state, Article 4, Section 1 of the US Constitution clearly indicates that a license to carry a concealed weapon should be accepted in every state.

    Trends in crime, gun ownership, and legally concealed weapons come together to show that several decades of gun control legislation have clearly failed and and should be repealed, not only on Constitutional grounds, but also as an acknolwedgment of this failure, and with an eye to moving forward to a more effective policy of individual empowerment and guaranteed civil rights.

    h/t Kim DuToit

    Sunday, April 20, 2008

    I was held captive as Condoleeza's love slave

    That's right, I was held hostage in the Embassy for a couple hours today. Apparently Condoleeza Rice was in town. Sadly, this means that they locked everything down to a ridiculous degree.

    Condi, baby: if you can't learn to travel a little lighter, I don't think we can take these vacations together any more. Srsly. Even though you're a good-looking older woman with a sophisticated way about you, I won't be trifled with.

    Soldiers all over the IZ missed chow because Condi swept through, Here's a tip: if your dog an pony show causes more problems than your visit is worth, then stay away.

    Just trying to get to the DFAC was a major pain in the arse, couldn't get to either of the places I normally go to, and ended up riding my bike all the way around the perimeter a couple times trying to find a place to go eat. I was pretty grumpy by that time. I have this weird compulsion to eat at least once a day. I could't even get into the PX to buy some nasty-ass Burger King. By 3:30 in the afternoon (having skipped breakfast) with nothing to eat, I was nearly ready to run a gauntlet of Peruvians and dare them to shoot me. Close to 4pm, I finally got a day-old sandwich. Whoo.

    Of course, by the afternoon the gods damned dust was kicking up again, and riding my biccycle was like a combination of emphysema and trying to see through sand.

    By the time I finally got into the Embassy, they had closed the DFACs and the Green Bean snack bar. Then they wouldn't let me out. Something about being restricted makes me pace like a caged animal. Even the smokin' hot Woman Marine exercising in the Palace atrium on the treadmill and skipping rope didn't really make up for it. I mean, that's almost as good as a trampoline, and it still didn't lighten my mood. That should tell you right there...

    Saturday, April 19, 2008

    Got the black lung, pop. {weak cough}

    It's been dust storms for the last 3 days. Yesterday morning dawned bright and blue (I was up unfortunately early) but then the clouds started rolling in mid-morning. Dust clouds, that is. The last few afternoons have been so filthy that visibility was down to about 150 meters. Less at times.

    This of course, is in the middle of the IZ, where most everything is paved over- gotta be hell out in the open. When I was traveling around more in late '06, we spent a few weeks at various places that could be considered 'open desert'.

    You know that scene in The Mummy where the wall of sand comes on with the face in it? Desert sandstorms in Iraq aren't quite that cool, but nearly as impressive.

    The dust literally looks like a mountain range on the horizon, where no mountains stood before. Then it rolls towards you in a very ominous dark cloud, with extravagant bolts of lightning flashing in it. The dust provides a constantly shifting path and generates so much static that it's extremely impressive when large sheets and balls and stabs of lightning start seemingly nowhere and everywhere and vanish into the same places. Then the front of it hits and while it doesn't exactly scour the flesh from your bones, it is quite painful on the more sensitive parts of your exposed skin. Breathing is a chore, and it can give some hitches in your breath for a day or two afterwards, not to mention crusty eyes, exotic nose boulders and lots of interesting stuff coughed seemingly out of the bottom of your lungs.

    Everybody not worried about their dignity wears dust masks. Sometimes it seems like a waste of time, and kind of a pansy move, then when you've been breathing the crap for a day and realize how much your lung capacity has diminished, you think, "Why didn't I do that?!? Stupid!"

    Wednesday, April 16, 2008

    BAG Day

    Fortunately, I have an automatic extension to file my taxes, because I haven't been able to do it yet. It's sort of complicated for me this year. And it makes me wince every time I look at the total I have paid.

    For my readers unfamiliar with the concept of BAG Day, it's a semi-official, semi-tongue-in-cheek reference to the April 15th tax deadline, being "Buy A Gun" day. Lest we forget, the American Revolution was spurred on largely by unfair taxation.

    I didn't BAG on April 15th this year, tho the one I most recently bought is just shipping about now. If I were home I certainly would have, I want an AR-15 and I'm researching it now, to build from components.

    Another concept you should all be familiar with, is Tax Freedom Day, which lands (Nationally) on April 23rd this year.

    If you've never thought about it before, don't worry, my local rag doesn't get it either. Even though we come in even later in Washington State than the national average.

    Tuesday, April 15, 2008

    Well, you asked...

    I use a professional networking site called www.linkedin.com. Today while checking in, I see that Senator McCain is using the feedback function on the site to ask a question:

    Our country is faced with challenges as we enter into the 21st century. I am prepared to effectively deal with these challenges and lead our country as President on Day 1. Please let me know what you view as the biggest challenge America faces and how you would like your President to address this challenge.

    Of course, I can't let that go by, so I answer:

    Avoiding socialist authoritarianism. Maintaining a limited government and shrinking the excesses you and your colleagues in Congress have foisted upon us. I have serious reservations about your ability to govern based upon solid principle rather than personal whim and ego, but I'll vote for you if you can put Constitutionalist judges on the Supreme Court. Only because the alternatives are worse.

    Monday, April 14, 2008

    The antithesis of freedom

    Saturday, April 12, 2008

    Definitional exclusion

    There's quite a bit of commentry about this already, most of it more in-depth than I feel like addressing.

    So I'll simply make one point, and then pass you on to those who have already so handily addressed the more techincal silliness.

    But I do have a couple things I feel compelled to address:

    The National Rifle Association in the United States of America has very few female members, but those that are members claim that guns empower them, protect them and give them more freedom in a country marked by the highest crime rate in the world.


    Lady you need to get out more. Can you seriously intend to exclude all the violence in Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Uganda, South Africa, etc...

    Unless you're completey talking out your hyperbolic ass... or maybe your statist, perpetually outraged victim outlook doesn't allow for oxyegen to reach your brain the possibility that government might commit crimes against its own people, or that anything factual needs to actually, you know, be true.

    The United States as a whole is just right up there among the safest places in the world, with a few shitty spots, which bad neighborhoods are notable for 1. non-integration of the African American populations into the mainstream, or 2. massive population of immmigrants. Think Washington DC, Atlanta, Los Angeles, NYC, Chicago, Baltimore. Even the vast majority of these cities are statistically safe at night for unarmed women and children. Contrast that to Cape Town, SA.

    Contrary to popular belief samurais did not rule with the sword. They ruled with highly effective training that made them very good men-at-arms. The katana and wakizashi swords were the tools of choice, but they were also trained with Japanese bows, spears and many other tools of the trade.


    They also prohibited ALL of those items AND training with them to the peasants, who had to make do with improvising weapons from farming implements if they were ever so bold as to do so. Effective "men-at-arms" do not spring from whole cloth, neither in feudal Japan nor in America today. The fact that a majority of military members today come not from inner cities but rather from the South, the West, and small towns all over is not because they are ignorant and without options, rather because there is a tradition of martial spirit and self-reliance in those places that fitsd well with the protective warrior ethos. They also have access to guns from a young age, and do not fear handling them, seeing them as merely another tool, neither good nor evil in and of themselves.

    The American government is certainly not threatening to kill its own citizens for the sake of gun control.


    Read up on the BATFE and their history of violence and mistakes, sometime. Keep in mind, that they are not a Law Enforcement agency, but rather a tax-revenue collection agency, and contrast that mission with their actions and tactics.

    Guns are addictive, hence all the Americans who own guns and love them so much. Its fun to twirl a fully loaded pistol on your finger and play cowboy with the mirror.


    WTF? As Don Gwinn says, here is where I stop kidding and say, "Get some therapy to help you work through your projection issues." Because that is just effing ridiculous.

    Actually the "training" is an illusion. People think that just because they can shoot a target that isn't moving that somehow they have great aim and shooting skill.


    If you really think that all police go through that much more training, again, you need to do some research. Anyway, what does that have to do with your thesis? I believe you were talking about crime, and safety. Shooting safely has far less to do with being able to shoot something than knowing when not to shoot.

    Big flashy guns are for men with small dicks. {...}Frankly the best tool against a rapist is laughter. Men can't stand it when you laugh at their equipment. Call it a combination of dick-envy and male ego, but men get really upset when you laugh at their pathetic private little pistol.


    Don't people ever get tired of this glib bullshit?

    I'll admit, the self-confidence thing is true: best not to look like a victim. Even better to have the ability to defend yourself when someone calls your bluff.

    Paradigm shifting

    Sometimes even the most empathetic person (and I am not that, tho I do try) can be surprised when other people make comments, especially ones that you find intelligent and well-spoken and informed, indicating they are only now coming around to a view one has accepted as obvious and true on the face of it without even having to think deeeply and formally about it:

    Not only does denouncing Islam as evil nonsense establish the mere right, of us civilisationers, to denounce Islam - along with our right to say anything else we might want to say - true or false, nice or nasty, sensible or daft. Such talk also, I am starting to believe, strikes a dagger into the heart of the enemy camp, by spreading doubt in it about basic beliefs


    Less immediately but just as emphatically, I reject Christianity as nonsense. I'm just not as worried about fanatical Christians attempting to convert me at the point of a sword at this point in history.

    Thursday, April 10, 2008

    All quiet

    The threatened fireworks have yet to appear, so it would seem there was much ado about nothing.

    Monday, April 07, 2008

    The calm before....

    So, dear friends, family, and assorted gentle readers,

    Not to worry, we have solid shelter both at home and at work, unlike some other poor bastards. For the next couple days while Moqtada Al Sadr and Maliki work out some squabbles, we'll be tucking into that shelter, turtling up, wearing our teflon/asbestos/kevlar underwear, etc.

    Saturday, April 05, 2008

    A typical day at the office

    My co-worker forwards me this trouble ticket:

    After the falling of a morter bomb on the logistic building, the UTP cable of the security CP of {redacted} camp was disconnected due to the explosion. So, we replaced the old cable with new one and it's working well again.


    Yes, this is a direct copy/paste from a ticket created by one of our Iraqi co-workers. Spelling isn't nearly as important as good communication.

    Note: UTP is "unshielded twisted pair", AKA "Cat5" or Ethernet cable- what you use to plug in your computer.

    CP is Command Post

    Thursday, April 03, 2008

    Nothing ever really dies...

    ... on the Internet.

    A friend just sent me an email I sent to him, in what was either late 98 or early 99:

    So here I am, groggily typing as I awake from yet another afternoon nap, which, as always, I was not going to take.

    I think I'll do some laundry....

    (we return to our hero as....)

    I'm thinking about my homework for tomorrow. Presentation on special purpose electronic devices. Whoo hoo! Pretty heady stuff. I'm surprised they let us talk about these things in mixed company. All in all I'd rather be (pause for turkey and cheese on whole wheat hoagie, with dijon mustard, kosher dill pickle and a pepsi) playing my bass, but if I start then I won't get around to my homework, which I'm putting off even now.

    Damn, I love mustard.

    Got my phone bill today, was surprised how much it was, given that I rarely call anyone. Hmm, of course that's my first bill here, and includes part of the connection fee, I guess it's not all that bad after all. The phone company, insurance, cable tv, they're all communists, out to destroy the American way of life anyway...

    Felt pretty patriotic for a second there, but it's over, I don't think it caused any permanent damage. Whoo! that was almost scary. Worked up a little frothing at the mouth action.

    About a week ago, I bought Jackie Chan's biography. Wow, that guy is (expletive deleted) insane! I love it! I tore through that book in about half a day, it was so intense. Can't wait for his next movie.

    Finally found a place where I could get some Korean food. The food was so-so, but the old lady running the place was too cool. When I spoke Korean to her nephew, he told her and she came out of the kitchen to chat. They had told the other customers (it was almost closing time) that they were out of rice, but they made a new batch for me. I had to laugh. When I asked about buying kimchi (I know, I'm sick and perverse like that) at the oriental market next door, she gave a "to go" burger container full of it. Unfortunately, I wasn't going straight home, and chucked it at the next garbage can. I didn' have the heart to tell her I couldn't take it, but leaving an open kimchi container in my car for 3-4 hours? Even I'm not that much of a glutton for punishment.

    I really need a bigger monitor.

    I may go to New Orleans again this weekend. My friend Dan and I have been talking about it, and I know if I don't go as often as I can while I'm here, I'll regret it.

    Well, I guess I should get off this demon machine, with its soul-destroying addictive powers, and do something productive.

    Remember to write me, I need my fix (slapping arm to make vein pop) I gotta have it!


    At the time I was attending the USAF's "Electronic Switching Systems and Computer Maintenance" course at Keesler AFB in lovely Biloxi MS. Not much like "Biloxi Blues" at that point, though I hear that it took a few steps back towards that after Katrina.

    The more things change, the more they stay the same. I think I need a sandwich.

    Wednesday, April 02, 2008

    Economic panic-mongering

    Arg. It kills me when I hear people constantly complaining about our economy.

    Folks, it's not only not bad news, it's actually pretty good. We not only haven't entered a national recession, a recession isn't really all that bad anyway. Which people would realize if they even knew what a recession really is. In fact, we have seen continued growth in GDP, though admittedly at a reduced rate of growth. The dollar has stabilized and is expected to recover against the Euro.

    With oil prices at historic highs, we still see gasoline prices at a lower percentage of our disposable income. Not to mention, a massive new oil deposit has been discovered in North Dakota.


    Unemployment is very low. The "normal" rate of unemployment is considered to be around 5%; the average "friction" of the job market as new employees enter the workforce, people change jobs, companies go in and out of business, and individuals find marginal gains to be had from working outside the home or in formal occupations rather than black market, grey market, and undeclared self-employment. All it takes to be "unemployed" is to declare an intent or desire to find formal work.

    Granted, some areas are harder hit than others. These mostly appear to be strongholds of labour unions and regulation which strangle growth and private industry. Some particular market segments are harder hit than others- new housing in particular. However, what else does one expect after unchecked booming growth, but that there will be a period of adjustment while things catch up? I personally plan to buy more real estate in the next year to 18 months, because I don't think the housing slump will last long at all. Population is still growing.

    This is the same tactic that is used to panic people about government spending "cuts" when it is really a situation like such:

    Congress votes an annual increase of 15% over five years, but doesn't increase the budget enough to cover it. The entitlement program whose ox is gored cries about "cuts" when really it is a case of not funding the further expansion of the program.

    That's what we have here. The economy has certainly slowed, but it hasn't decreased and is unlikely to do so. In fact, it is more likely by far to increase again rather than go negative. Panic-mongers and Chicken Littles will have you believe everything is in the crapper, but the truth is that we're riding along on greased rails.