Saturday, March 30, 2013

Witches (and very small rocks) Float!

So I read this article about a man in Pakistan being attacked by a mob for blasphemy then arrested for it. Some children sneaked into his house to look for a 'lost ball', saw him 'burning pages of a Koran', then reported it to their mother, who then called the police. The police when arresting him observed that he appeared 'mentally deranged'. From a Pakistani viewpoint, it was a perfect application of Sharia law in action. Of course, as Americans, we see this as just another application of an imperfect justice system.  Such a thing could never happen here in America.

We are of course blessed with the golden 'separation of church and state'. In the past 20 years or so this has come to mean that there can be no demonstration of religion in any official state functions. This takes the form of silly arguments over how many square inches of county government buildings can be devoted to manager scenes at Christmas, or if a cross shaped piece of iron can stand at Ground Zero. With such stalwart foundations, we see the imposition of a religious based law antithetical to our American sense of jurisprudence, and incorrectly believe that such a barbaric practice could never happen here.

First it is necessary to look at the etymology of the phrase 'separation of church and state' to determine if the above understanding of it's meaning poses any legal barrier to the adoption of Sharia law in the US. The phrase itself comes from the writings of Thomas Jefferson when debating the inclusion of the first amendment. He said:
"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between Church and State."
Which, as expressed in the Constitution reads:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Volumes could be written about how the entire meaning of that profound sentence has been eroded into nothing more than a vague echo of the stark rights that it expresses, but I will leave that for another time. Suffice it to say that there are two counter weighted principles stated there with respect to religion. To paraphrase, they are:

  1. No law shall establish a religion
  2. No law shall prohibit a person to worship as they want
Shockingly absent from this is any implication that a law, as long as it doesn't violate this or any other constitutional restriction, cannot be based on a religious tenet, as long as that tenet isn't explicitly referenced. Of course the second principle should serve to harness legislators, perhaps possessed by a religious fervor, from enacting religious based laws which criminalize other less popular religions. Unfortunately, this second principle (like most of the Constitution)  can easily be circumvented, whittled away for convenience and by omission to the point that it is meaningless. So in answer to the question, could Sharia law happen here, the answer is 'Yes!', without proper vigilance it can.

The skeptic may note that while it is theoretically possible, such an application of a purely religious set of laws could never happen here, given American's inherent belief in personal freedom. Considering the historical precedent, they are mistaken. Strict religious legal jeopardy has happened in America. For proof, I give you the Salem Witch Trials. They occurred in 1692-1693, a scant 80 years before the signing of the declaration. There is a startling similarity to the hysterical accusations of the Salem children in the historical record and the above account of the application of Sharia law. Fortunately, England wisely turned away from such arbitrary nonsense and the Witchcraft act of 1735 made it a
criminal offence to claim that any human being had magical powers or was guilty of practicing witchcraft
This did of course not really settle the matter, but threw the baby out with the bathwater. It quashed accusations of witchcraft, as the state has deemed that witchcraft by fiat did not exist. Of course this left Druids and other 'witch' based religions in something of a bind, as their core worship principles, if openly professed, were criminal. A sort of 'don't ask, don't tell' policy became the norm, but the 'free exercise thereof' clause of the Constitution certainly did not lead to the opening of Covens complete with maypoles between the Methodist and Baptist churches on Main street. One might say they were not even tolerated until the more enlightened age of the 1930s when Gardner founded his Bricket Woods coven. In summary, historically there is more than enough precedence for the imposition of a repressive religious law.

One may argue that in our highly litigious society, there is no way that Sharia law could stand the test of the courts. To counter that assertion, I have only to note the hideously long list of extra legal activities of the current administration that our system of checks and balances have failed to reign in to note the futility of attempting to reverse Sharia law should it be allowed to gain a foothold. No, the only hope that we may avoid the absurdity of the Pakistani example given above is vigilance. It profits neither the left or right to allow that barbarism a home here.

Make no mistake, I am not expressing a hostility toward Islam. While it is not not the religion I choose for myself, I respect those who choose to worship in that manner, and constitutionally have given a portion of my life to guarantee their right to do so. In fact, to hinder them would be antithetical to everything I have expressed here. On the other hand, I deeply believe that their 'religious rights' do have physical limits. As Jefferson opined:
the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions
Thus, they are free to express their opinions on any subject, but should not be allowed to infringe on my freedom of expression or worship without suffering some legal jeopardy themselves. I am similarly negatively disposed toward Baptist who, due to their belief that alcoholic beverages are evil, seek to remove wine from Catholic churches, or protestant chaplains attempting to prevent Wiccan covens from meeting in prisons. It is all needless power trips that has no place in a polite society, and certainly no legal standing. These things do happen though, and we all, Catholic, Protestant, Islamic, Unitarian, or Wiccan, should be vigilant of its insidious lure.

Saturday Goofy Links

So here's a small sample of the goofy stuff I gathered this week despite the projectile whatevers...

(wow - now there's someone that has way too much time on their hands!)

Actually I just wanted to mention this link about the Egyptians catching some guys trying to clip the undersea cables carrying the internet. The international internet is much more fragile than we imagine. If these bozos had managed to succeed, they would have had a significant impact of world wide traffic. Since these cables are lying just under a few feet of mud for thousands of miles, the threat is grave indeed. That is why I am thinking a space based system, similar to the GPS constellations is needed.

On the other hand (pun intended), with the advent of sharia law there, these guys will probably loose theirs - before they are beheaded (Mullah's gotta have their porn!)


I was not too bothered by this news that Amazon was buying Goodreads. Upon a friend's recommendation  I have been using Goodreads for a while now. They solved a problem that that I had that I assume is common for someone that reads a great deal. Namely, I often can't remember what books I have read, especially by authors like Clive Cussler who writes many similar but highly entertaining books. Goodreads lets me keep up with all that and has a recommendations link that suggest books that are similar based on the gene / authors I am currently reading. They already hock books, and Amazon, the indisputable leader of online book sellers, is naturally suited to their structure.

Having said that, I mostly get my books from the library, so cheapskates leeches like me are probably not (currently) worth it for them. However, with the advent of eBooks and it's accompanying low price (<$2.00) books, it is possible I may begin purchasing when I see a new book that I know I will like from good writer. That presumes that actually break down and buy myself some sort of eReader - an impulse I have stupidly resisted so far.

This golf with rockets looks like a great idea to me. However, I don't think golf course managers will ever allow it to become a real thing, but not because or the chance of fire or litter of cast off rocket engines. No, it will not be allowed because the influx of nerds onto the nation's golf courses cannot be tolerated...

I like the idea of this bacon scented sunscreen. I have never liked coconut and always disliked the smell of it in sunscreen. This seems like a great idea! I am not sure how the sand fleas and the like would react to it however... Lots of other - er - unusual bacon themed products at that site.

Finally there is this concept of extending GPS to areas where the actual GPS signal is not accessible. This seems like a natural since a GPS receiver is built into virtually every phone. Imagine being able to use GPS underground in the metro. No more wondering if an exit will dump me into a 'free mugging zone' or the entrance nearest the Smithsonian.  Alternatively, imagine a plant worker attempting to find and replace a faulty sensor in the electronically noisy environment that are today's modern plant. A GPS app receiving directions from local 'repeaters' would allow them to pinpoint the sensor location much more efficiently.

Ok - that's all the lighter stuff I have for now. I will probably post some more serious stuff in a bit (making up for lost time), so stay tuned!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Norovirus says 'what'?

On a little posting hiatus while I deal with the aftereffects of the flu... I will return in a few days.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Dangerous Triangles, The 'B' Word, and Bad Actors

Things that caught my eye today...

So a school in the UK has outlawed triangle shaped pastries because they were deemed more dangerous in a food fight that the square variety. I can almost see the point (pun intended) here. However, this does seem to be on the surface an extension of the 'bubble wrapped child' school of adolescent development. I suspect there is a great more to this story than just what looks to be apple turnovers. My guess is the removal of the pastry was more in response to the food fight than the shape of the food. That would actually make sense.

So now it comes out that Ted Cruz may not be able to run for president since he was born in Canada. I think the most interesting takeaway from this is that definition of what is a 'Natural Born Citizen' still is not settled! McCain fixed it for himself with a senate resolution. I suppose that if the Democrats were not in control of the senate, that would be an option for Cruz also. Still left out of the conversation is how does the vetting of such a thing occur? It will be interesting to see the hypocritical machinations of the left when trying to disqualify Cruz if he decides to run. Good luck in finding 'standing' to object!

So the captain doesn't like the IRS 'Star Trek' parody? Well, not exactly. It is more that he, like the rest of us, is disgusted that they spent so much money on it. Given that it's production cost were more than ten times what he made per episode back in the day ($5000), i'd say he has a right.

Finally, i've never laughed at Jim Carey or found him particularly funny. He has always been a parody of a TV funny man. My guess is this ad he made on guns is just a sad effort to reinvent his career ala 'The Dixie Chicks'.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sunday Link Dump

Here's where i dump to the links I have been collecting throughout the week, but haven't yet had time to comment on appropriately...

Fist up is the Egyptians. I had a friend that worked with them for a while when the US was selling them a few of the above Coastal Mine Hunters (Swiftships). While there were a great many stories he told about that experience,  one of the things that he talked about was their attribution to God when things broke (and on those, things were always breaking). Engines not working? Insha'Allah! Bad Weather? Insha'Allah! Ran out of gas? Insha'Allah! - take the rest of the day off... This was of course well before the Arab Spring and the ouster of Mubarak. From his stories I got the impression of the Egyptians as causal, a little lazy, but still good people. I guess the Arab Spring and all that followed from that changed their culture forever. So when I saw this article about how the Muslim Brotherhood is insulating themselves into their military, it really came as no surprise, but still saddened me.

I gotta say, that just because a guy puts his feet on his desk, it's not necessarily a sign of a lack of respect. There can be reasons. Back when I was much younger and more active, I sprained my ankle rather badly. Part of the remedy for it was to keep it elevated. Therefore, while working, I usually could be found with that bad ankle propped up on the corner of the desk, keyboard in my lap, working away. Once upper management once saw this and complained to my boss, who quickly explained the situation and backed them off. That being said, I too find this picture:

as noted in this article disturbing. As far as I know, he doesn't own that desk (or that Office) - he's just using it for a little while, and I know of no medical reason for that pose...

Finally there is this article about cyber attack on Florida voting process. First known case? Really? That whole massive fraud that was the last presidential election didn't clue you in that there might just be a problem there? (as noted here, even ostriches aren't that stupid)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Saturday Geeky Links & Comments

Here's some geeky stuff I looked at this week...

McFood hack

Basically, it says you can get a egg McMuffin style egg on any sandwich that has egg in it by asking for the 'round egg', though I doubt that would work in a breakfast burrito. Lets see if a reason that you would want to do this (beyond taste). First lets look at a 'real' egg. A sausage McMuffin is  370cal. A Suasage & Egg McMuffin is 450cal - implying the egg alone is 80cal. Now for the yellow stuff. A Sausage Biscuit is 430cal, while a Sausage & Egg Biscuit is 510.  Humm  - same 80cals. There is no caloric difference between the yellow stuff and a real egg! That being said, when I am forced to hit McD's for breakfast due to time constraints, I now always get the McMuffin (300cals, no meal - those damn hash browns are 150cals). Now when I want variety, do I ask for the 'non-round egg'? I still haven't figured out how to ask for sweetener in my coffee rather than sugar...

Silliest Egg Cooker Ever

I really don't see the point of this. I can cook an egg in a small saute pan in about 5 minutes from the time I walk in the kitchen to the time it's on my thin cut sandwich bread (including clean up). This is one of those things you give to as a wedding or Christmas gift to someone you really don't like that much...

Making your own yogurt

Looks like a lot of work but something worth trying (once). I guess there is some merit to doing this yourself and skipping additives you get in commercial yogurt.


Opening Jar using Duct Tape

I've actually used something similar to this to get a stuck oil filter off a car using a piece of rope wrapped around it. The principle is the same as it allows you to apply torque just the way you need it to a large round screw-top surface

FAVI SmartStick

All the TVs in our house are setup to access Netflix via a Roku, so this is a moot issue for me. One thing not noted here is the compact utility for road warriors using this in lieu of of the clunky (and expensive) choices available in most hotel room menus. Since it is running Andriod 4.0, and you can get additional apps, this would seem to be a good natural choice for a someone that spends a great deal of time on hotels where firing up the laptop or squinting at the tablet is not what you want to do after spending all day in a strange place.

Howto Arduino Charts

Nice guide for Arduino connections that takes the 'EE' degree out of Arduino experiments (somewhat).

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Little White Lie

I saw this a few days ago and decided to put off pontificating on it for a while to give my thoughts a while to settle so I could perhaps clearly express myself. I am hoping that enough time has passed so that is the case.

I don't normally watch this type of movie which is clearly in the 'chick flick' genre, but my wife wanted to watch something with me and I acquiesced. Flicking through the channels, I found some spring training baseball, but then realized it was the Orioles so that was out. Then 'The Help' was just starting and I remembered it was something that was supposed to be mildly entertaining. My wife had already seen it but thought it would be good to see again. I  somehow missed it when it came out in 2011, and again when it made the rental and pay-per-view circuit. I also recalled that it won some major award (one Academy Award), so I went along.

So I began watching it, half asleep and half amused. I mean it had everything that you would expect in a typical chick flick: A women who had lost her son to a tragic incident, a feisty and funny lady, and various women trying to good do in the face of adversity. All the right stuff but a poignant love story. However, the longer I watched it, the more uncomfortable I became. It took me a few days to come to the understanding that I was disturbed by how it showed a caricature of racism in the south.

In a nutshell, the mechanisms it used to depict racism rang hollow to me. I have no doubt that the incidents noted at some point happened somewhere at sometime in the South. What bothered me is how they were all packaged together, occurring at the same time and place, resulting a book effectively ghostwritten for the maids by the sympathetic white lady. The book is then read by the society women who are shocked to see their own racism reflected back at them. The contrived implication being this was representative and typical of most suburbs of the south at the time.

Now I am admittedly no expert on racism. I came of age in the south during the 70s, so perhaps I was a bit late to really see the south's true racist roots as depicted in the movie since they occurred 10 years before I reached a minimum age of reason and 200 miles south of where I grew up. But perhaps not. Full disclosure here - my mother never had a maid - ever.

While I did not consort with the beer and pickup kids, I did hang out with a civil war re-enactor, an erstwhile country musician or two, and a few hunting types (but thank god no duck hunters). I had one or two black friends in high school, but the demographics there were such that we did not have too many people of color going to our school until the advent of busing. While we were 'lilly white', we didn't really think of the people around us in terms skin color. When we did think about it at all, it was more of an economic awareness than a melanin issue. While I can't claim to be an expert on black and white issues in the south, I feel I do have a good idea of what it was like to be lower to middle class and white in the early seventies in the south, with an awareness of most of the things (good and bad) going on around me.

I thus compared the south as depicted in the movie against the south I grew up in. On the surface it was all there. The presumption of southern gentility, the accents, the ever present overshadowing of a mostly agrarian society gone partially industrial. What I could not resolve and ultimately found offensive was that there were only two white people (women) in the film that did not have a lack of moral character when it came to respect for their fellow (black) human beings, and one of those had the sexual morals of an alley cat. There were no depictions of any white men with a modicum of decency in race relations or any other human endeavor.

This is not the south that I know, and I find it repugnant to represent it in such a way. If a film was made that similarly unfairly displayed black men as always craven manipulative bastards and black women as mostly surface, petty, and vindictive in the face of gently laboring white men and long suffering but noble white women, I don't believe anyone would describe it as ""Appealing, entertaining, touching" or "a raucous rib-tickler". It is exceedingly sad this film was lionized in just those terms.

I am aware that by merely criticizing the film on this basis, I will raise the ire of those who believe that rejecting it's unfair representation of southerns is paramount to wearing a sheet and hanging nooses in my yard. I suppose that by that measure they will self identify as racist. In fact, this film seems predicated on the notion that any such criticism is unthinkable. That is not an isolated mindset. Consider this article on fear of white racist branding for example and the fury it raised in the PC establishment. I fear this Obama 'post-racial' America is just a different side of a very ugly coin.

Open Carry

I guess I have been doing a great deal of thinking about where search and seizure fits into out society. Yes, I do understand that police have a hard job and it is exceedingly difficult to keep the honest citizens safe and the bad guys in jail. On the other hand, I fear they have been given too much power over the individual in the form of a large number of laws where almost any action that a common citizen can take is an invitation to detention and being thrown into the legal maul.

Now obviously the individual in the above case was no boy scout.  He was hanging with his homies, if not doing bad things, they were thinking about it. Along comes the po-po and they bust him for a gun that he shouldn't have had. All perfectly reasonable and what most of us would want to happen. Now flip it a bit and say the guy arrested wasn't that one but some guy named Reginald that was walking down the other side of the street. He is returning from his classes at a state college, and has a gun that he openly carries because those very same homies are a threat to him. Should he be stopped and searched too? Most of us would say no. But, now we are asking police officers to start making value decision because they have the power to no only go after Reginald, the homies, but also Reginald's sister and mother who just happened to step outside for some air to talk to Reginald's pastor who is walking with him.

I don't know the answer to the above situation, but I am fairly sure that adding to the laws is not the answer. I am thinking that the state needs to look at rescinding some laws and simplifying the code, and open carry is a good counter-balance. Such a move has little support, so we are left with the mishmash of laws and court rulings on their limits, and an increasing descent into a Sylvester Stallone nightmare.

I do like something I saw in the comments at NC Gun Blog:
In Connecticut, straight from a cop: yep, open carry is legal, but if you open carry, you will be arrested and charged with breach of the peace and the firearm confiscated.
Then you’ll spend the next year or so getting the charge overturned and your firearm returned. In other words, the open carry statute is honored “more in the breach than the observance.”
The following comment noted this:
Then in Conneticut, there is no law, and the cops are just gangs in different colors. Simple.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Knives, Warrants, and Vampires

First, I can't see using a a knife like this::

But perhaps it is a more natural extension of your hand. However, I am thinking with your hand right over the blade, you don't have a fulcrum for cutting through harder material, requiring more force. What happens when you have to use force with a knife? You bleed, that's what... I am betting they won't last through the inevitable lawsuits for all the lost fingers these things will result in... But I bet you can look super cool using it..


 The President Barack Obama administration is claiming that authorities do not need court warrants to affix GPS devices to vehicles to monitor their every move
What is stunning here it that they are even trying to make the argument that they don't need a warrant. But it gets worse. The reason they are saying the warrant is not needed is because the car may move while they go and get a warrant. i.e.: the 'it's really just a bother'. I am guessing that what they would really want is GPS chips implanted in everyone so whenever they need to see what anyone is doing they can just flick a switch and find out - now wouldn't that be convenient? To bad there's this:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized
But i'm not a (spit) lawyer... so what do I know...

So basically there is a factual basis for vampires and it's too much corn? Bizzare! 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Union Goon Comeuppance, Jared and the Baseball Shooter

So I saw this story about how Obamacare is biting back on the unions. I remember unions packing the town hall meetings that I went to when Obamacare was going through and remembered thinking back then how naive these people were to trust their union bosses and the Democrats with something that mattered like their heath. I'll admit while they were frosty toward us protesters, they did not get physical or personally nasty. However, they were / are part of the problem. Now that they have joined the many people the 'Bamster has thrown under his bus, maybe they will become part of the solution. Wait, who am I kidding? All it will take is a few platitudes from 'dear leader' and they will go back to sleep again... until it's too late.

So did anyone check out where this guy was when it was going down? Na - he probably gets all his subs for free. Seriously, what genius decided that making fake Subway gift cards and selling them on E-Bay would be the way to make big money. What idiot would buy a gift card on EBay? I mean how do you know it has the money on it someone says? It's kinda like counterfeiting dollar bills or quarters...

(If you haven't watched this in a while, its really is worth watching again...)

So I didn't know that 'The Natural' was even based on a true story, much less that the lady who shot the player was real (and now dead). To me this movie was Redford's best, hands down.. though there are a couple of scenes in 'A River Runs Through It' that I really like too... Ok - now i'm ready for baseball to start - Go Nats!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sunday's Kitchen Sink Link Dump...

It's Sunday and time to bravely dump all those links I have been collecting all week of stuff that I just didn't have time to comment on, so I will divest of them now with (hopefully) brief comments. In no apparent order here they are

Do you want to play a game?

Cool idea to use a game to teach a system to dock by picking the 'winners'. Where have I seen that before? Oh yeah - here:

For robotic control, I think these guys have a fairly interesting approach. I will be looking into their concept / API for some ideas for a personal project I have on the back burner...


So the Russians are going to help the the ESA with a Mars mission? As noted in the above movie, there is much to like and dislike about the Russian space effort. They make things work, perhaps not in the most elegant way. On the other hand, sometimes finesse matters. I am aware of a constellation of commercial dead satellites whose rapid demise is at least partially attributable to Russian involvement.

On the other hand, I like this launch approach. The price point puts it in the sweet spot for most commercial ventures. However, in the commercial space game, talk is cheap and the follow through is rarely what is advertised. Inevitably the cost rises or the scope reduces as real hardware matures. It will be interesting to see if that is true with this method. My main concern is what happens between the point the satellite is released from the shuttle at 50 miles and where it reaches it's a target orbit at say 450 miles. there is a lot of cost and engineering to go that extra 400 miles.

Just for fun, Jerry Pournelle had a link to a cool optical illusion here. I'd advise reading the description before following his link - it will make the illusion even more cooler.


I think that in addition to preventing running backs from lowering their heads the NFL should consider banning wide receivers from using hot air balloons.


Not exactly the tech that we were led to believe was possible in Jurassic Park, but I find it laudable the guy is so devoted to bringing back an extinct species. The problem of course is what it if becomes an invasive species? Like we really need another class of flying rats to poop on our stuff? I say ok, as long as they keep them contained (which we know from the movies is impossible)

I didn't even know Grimm was back. I liked it at first, but then it got all 'Lost' like and was too much effort to follow. I will give it a try & hope for the best I guess.

So you think your 401K is safe from being snatched as 'revenue' to make up for the difference in tax income and massive spending? It could never happen? After all, that's money you personally didn't spend but saved for retirement. Well the depositors in Cyprus are finding out that it can happen. Sobering to think that fiscally we are probably much worse off than them... what will be our remedy?

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Twist, Fake Egg, and the Plague

First there is this debate that you never knew was going on. I myself a a twistee person, not because it is particularly more efficient than the clip, but because it retains a usefulness after the the bread is gone.  I have deployed it:
  • as a watch band holder
  • cat entertainment (hours and hours of entertainment)
  • cord organizer
  • ear bud slider 
  • twisting other bags closed
Oddly enough we don't use the kind of trash-bags that require twistees anymore, and when we did, I never used them - just too inconvenient to find them before taking out the kitchen trash.

No chicken eggs my ass!

This is stupid on so many levels. There is no way this is 'sustainable'. I guarantee that the amount of work involved to get to a plant based egg look-alike will never be cheaper or more energy efficient than a simple chicken pecking about in the yard. You want 'sustainable'? Lobby the zoning boards to allow small chicken coops in residential back yards. That's sustainable.

Lost souls of the plague

I never really though about where the bodies of all those plague victims went. I remember the few funerals I have been to and the careful and moving dignity provided to even the biggest bastards at their final resting place. These poor souls earthly shells were out of necessity probably not given what we in the civilized world would now consider a minimum indulgence. Now they are 'discovered' underfoot.

I do not count it a weakness that it is to the unknown lost that I offer one of my rare genuine prayers on All Souls day or on the occasion of strolling across some ancient battlefield.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Poopy Head, Cannibals and Catholics

This was too good to not link to:

See, a less cultured person would use a a more vulgar description of the legitimately elected congress critter, I'll just stick to calling him a poopyhead.


Previously I talked about how being a virtual cannibal landed a guy in jail based purely on his thoughts, not actions. So I am wondering when this guy who thinks aborted babies are similar to bacon will be arrested?


I was shocked to find out yesterday that Biden was catholic, today I learn that Pelosi claims to be Catholic too (as noted in this article). The thing that caught my eye there? This:
"Both Biden and Pelosi are Catholics and pro-abortion"

Pro-abortion Catholics? What's the point?

Of course the real point is Catholics get all the good press, as illustrated here:

Thursday, March 14, 2013


(I rounded it off and made 3)

Best day of the year in my book, and the joke never gets old. Sort of an engineer's Christmas. Since I got some other stuff going, will attach what I consider one of my best Geocaching logs from a couple years back (the cache page is here)... Oh - for the uninitiated, 'CO' here is 'Cache Owner'

What follows is the cumulative journal of my quest for this cache. Since logs are character limited, I had to break it up into pieces. I didn't record the exact dates, so I am logging these notes all on the day I did the final. As I recall, it's been about three weeks from the start to the end of the quest.

Stages 1 & 2:
We started off from the parking area at the 28 overpass. It was the day of the marathon after the runners had gone through - the morning after a night of rain. The trail was a muddy sloppy mess. We mud skated to stage 1 then circled for a while. Nothing. My wife finally found it laying on the ground. We sort of poked it back on a nearby tree and slimed away to stage two. 

Same deal with stage two. We finally found it in a sheltered location on the ground in the flood plain. How the heck did it stay there through the flood? We saw an amazing tree near here - so large three people could not hold hands and circle it. It was in a clearing by itself - as if all the other trees have moved back in respect... truly awesome... We headed for home - the rest of stages will have to wait for another day.

Stage 3:
With just me and the dog, decided to try for stage three. Looked & looked - nothing. Found some toilet paper in a likely location. I'll choose to believe that it was not used... 

Stage 3 redux - Stage 4: 
Armed with Stage 4 coordinates from CO, replaced stage 3 then on to stage 4 with the wife. She and the dog abandoned me at trail exit indicating they would walk while I pursued this foolishness... I searched & searched - nothing. I returned to the Jeep dejected - my wife was right again...

Stage 4 - 1st try:
Got word from CO that 4 - 5 - 6 had been replaced in the rain on Saturday - crazy fool! We jumped at the clear weather Sunday to go after them from Hemlock. Oops - the river is way up. We got word from other hikers that the stepping stones are under water making approach from that direction impossible. We went for long walk in other direction instead.
Stage 4 second try - 5 - 6 first try:Two days later I got a chance to go out again, just myself & Dog. Hummm - 2 miles as crow flies from Hemlock parking, 80+ degrees - what could go wrong? Long hot stroll to cache - Dog is "dogging" it as I didn't give him enough time to wade in the water along the way. I circle & circle - there! I copied coordinates and away we went. Dog really started slowing down, and I'm not doing so well myself. At stage 5 - circle, circle - Ugh! A collapsed makeshift tent - checking... good - no dead body visible.. circling - there! These markers are beginning to look a lot like grave markers that you see in minimalist graveyards. 
A long hot droopy walk back toward Hemlock. I decide to take horse trail shortcut. the first obstacle I came to was a small stream crossing. The dog happily wades in. I jump, hit the culvert on the other side, loose my balance, then grab and break a small branch before sinking half way up to my calf in mud. The next obstacle is a larger stream. This time I wade right through - hummm - feels good - I think I see why the dog likes this.
As I near Hemlock, I realise the coordinates that I got for stage 6 are wrong - it places the stage on the other side of the river. I'm ok with walking across a stream (now), swimming the river: not so much. With feet squishing, I make it back to the Jeep, pretty much dehydrated as all my water is now almost boiling hot. Who am I kidding - cramping muscles, etc - this is borderline heat exhaustion. The dog on the other hand is quite happy - he got a 10 minute swim at the stepping stones. The things we do for our pets... 
Stage 5 redux - 6 second try:Got correct coordinates for 6 from CO. Since I was sure that had copied them down correctly, I decided to return to 5 to check the sign, then get 6 on the way back to Hemlock. With just me and the dog, started out on a pleasantly cool day. Since it was so nice, we avoided to horse trail shortcut and took the long way to the cache. Well, that and I didn't want to walk for miles in squishy water shoes. The dog was not particularly happy about this turn of events so he made is displeasure known by insisting on stopping and sniffing every bush up and down the hills of the bypass.  

Upon arrival at stage 5 I verified that the wrong coordinates were on the stage. Note to wife: I am right again! Just in case, I had brought a sharpie with me to correct the issue. Unfortunately the signs are rather small so my correction may be hard to read. If your reading this for hints, the correct coordinates are XX XX.6XX XXX XX.XXX. We took the horse trail on the return. This time I made it around the first stream ford point without incident. Wading through the second stream was much less pleasant today - I told the dog he was crazy to like such cold water. 
I had a nice little climb to 6. I was starting to curse CO (again) when I spotted the stage a whole 10 feet from what my GPSr indicated was the perfect placement. The dog likes the challenge of climbing hills. However, he usually does not agree with my route selection. I am guessing that has something to do with the difference between having claws and squishy water filled shoes. 

Saw something unique on the way back. There was a tiny quarter sized turtle in the middle path. Dog blissfully walked right over it, then wanted to eat it when I stopped and looked at it. I resisted him and moved it off the path. About ten feet on was an large empty turtle shell. Circle of life and all that... Made it back to the Jeep without incident. 

Stage 7 - first attempt:Rainy crappy day. Wife actually agreed to accompany me & the dog today walking from Hemlock. As we made the turn at the river toward the cache, an odd thumping in my chest reminded me I had forgotten to take some critical meds. Proceeded to return to the Jeep shuffling like an old man on the way to bingo. Nuff said...
Stage 7 reduex & 8Nice day, so wife accompanied me & Dog so she could do her trail maintenance thing while & I continued on my quest. On the way to 7, passed a jogging group of several young ladies following a young man. About a minute behind them was an older gentleman who insisted he was "bringing up the rear, because someone has to". I choose to take this at face value and press on. Veered off the trail at likely location for 7 and after poking various tree holes with a stick, found stage 7 (dog was unimpressed). Loaded the new coordinates in the GPSr and was off... 

As I zeroed in on stage 8, passed wife struggling with moving a branch or something from the path - she should get some help with that... Spotted stage 8 from impressive distance of 4 feet. Recorded location for 9 in GPSr and settled down for victory drink of water before return trip to Hemlock (wife was unimpressed). 

Returned to Jeep and at Hemock with minimal pain & effort. Wife is strangely silent on trip home. I think she is in awe of my geoacaching prowess... 
Stage 9Lovely day for a stroll. The pollen seems a little thick, but the weather channel says air quality is "Good!" so mowing my lawn before the stroll should be no problem. Set out on quest for 9 and beyond from Bull Run Marina parking with Dog and wife. At trail turn off wife continues on leaving me & Dog to our own devices. A short time later later while getting cross with Dog for his hill climbing path selection, spot stage laying in the open.  

I copied the coordinates & replaced it in its likely hole (No Dog, I'm sure it's not a snake hole - snakes don't live in tree stumps). We proceeded down the trail toward next stage (and somewhere up ahead) wife. After going what seems a mile while getting marginally closer to the stage and no sign of wife, I decide to turn around. My eyes are getting blurry from the pollen and I must stop every once in a while to cough up clouds of the stuff.  

By the end of the trail Dog is acting as a seeing eye dog as my vision is completely blurry and I am gagging and spitting like a cobra. Somehow Dog finds the Jeep and we settle down to wait for wife. When she returns and gets in the Jeep she ask if I had a pleasant walk. I am strangely quiet on the trip home. 

Stage 10Another hot sticky day. Pursued this one with youngest offspring & Dog. Proceeded straight to this one from the trail turnoff. Jumped a deer near the GZ, which which very entertaining and educational for the dog and youngest offspring, what with all the jumping, barking, pulling, and cursing.  

At the GZ, while I was making the rather intricate route and direction calculation to assess the most likely tree hole for investigation, youngest child notes "hey, here it is in this tree!". Dog is unimpressed. 

After recording the next stage coordinates I assess it is too far to pursue in the time available today. We begin the trek back to main path. Youngest child, now full of wisdom, asserts that we seem to be going the wrong direction. I regale him with my unassailable logic and navigation methods. We are soon faced with a steep drop of the old road bed we are following down an unfamiliar hill. Recalculating, we return to the GZ. We then take the right road bed back to the main path and eventually the Jeep. 

Stage 11 - First try:Alone with Dog, took a quick spin out to try to find this one. After 30 minutes of digging unmentionable muck from various tree holes, Dog became bored. Returned to Jeep, then home to write another pleading missive to CO. 

Stage 11 & 12:CO responded to my missive with the remaining coordinates. Set out with Wife, Dog from Wolf Run Shoals to drop a replacement for 11, then go on to look for or replace 12. The cooler weather made the pollen effect a little more bearable. Wife stayed with me up to the cut off for Stage 12 then wondered on to do her trail maintenance thing. After much circling, I determined that Stage 12 was gone and I dropped a replacement. Near GZ was a large beech tree (I think) with an ominous deep hole visible at its roots. I don't think I want to poke a stick in there..  

I found an old car gauge near GZ. You have to wonder how these odd strata of civilisation come to be in the places you find them in. I also am in awe of the workmanship of the gauge, which has laid here for probably 20 years, yet is still intact and not rusted clean away. It is a rare piece of random fortune.
The Final(e):Wife & Dog accompanied me for the quick grab of the final stage from Fountainhead. As with all other stages, I mis-estimated the proper approach and came at it from the wrong direction. In any case, after investigating in all the wrong places to the point that Dog was bored enough to begin repeatedly sitting down, I made the find. After such a long quest I sort of expected that CO would have rigged up a hidden band, flashing lights, or a speaker in the trees intoning "CONGRATULATIONS!". Instead, all I heard was Wife asking from just a little ways away on the trail "Are you done over there yet?". I singed the log and dropped some fake money in the cache. 

After the find walked a little more with Wife to try to pick up another cache or two. As we were going down the trail, a tall guy we were passing stops and ask if I am me. It was the venerable CO. Turns the description I gave him in an earlier email as "fat guy with a big white dog", the etrex held discretely in my left hand, and that I had told him I might try for the final today, was enough for him to recognise me. CO & I had a good conversation about my journey here and his (much shorter) original quest for the cache. 

In addition to CO, the trail was thick with cachers - I also ran into don77ames. The conversation with Don was necessarily short as he was on the hunt to some challenging caches (and he stole my pen!). Yesterday I bumped into JohnMolineaux. We didn't talk long either as he also had a cache to do before the end of the day. 

As we returned to the Jeep, I reflected on how this trail, with it's mishmash of history, hills, and random beauty is truly a wonderful place to walk, and how fortunate I am to live close enough to walk it almost daily. I thank the kindly CO for his encouragement and support, & Wife, Dog, and other family members for their patience as I have pursued this quest. For those who have read this far, I encourage you to give this cache try - oh - and look out for the fat guy with the big white dog! 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Dogs, Docs, Virtual Stuff

It Ate What?

At first I was like - what? Is that Elton John's dog? Oh - right - pennies  - my bad (yeah - I am so ashamed for making that joke... that's another item for confession)

Seriously, why is this news? My daughter noted there was a dog that came into her place that ate a load of laundry, including two socks, and two T-shirts, and had to be opened up to get all that crap out. Dogs eat stuff, get over it...


Shootout at the Poop Pile

I sympathize with the cop on this. If you take your dog to an area with leash laws and you run them off leash, you'd better be able to control it verbally no matter what. If you can't, then if it's a choice of your dog potentially hurting my dog, or your dog getting hurt, your dog gets a boot in the ribs from me every time. If it comes after me, I will use all the tools at my disposal to defend myself, be it a knife or a gun. An off leash area is a different deal. You and your dog go there at your own risk.

Yes, I have kicked the crap out of a off leash dog in an area with leash laws (and marked as such) that was going after my passive dog, then dared the asshole owner to say anything to me, and yes I carry a knife for situations where an aggressive dog may escalate the encounter. Yeah - it's a thing with me...


Sick Fido Must Die Quickly

Another example of 'not knowing what's in the law until we pass it'. My daughter tells me that where she works they send all their test out and don't even do simple fecal counts in the office. They do X-rays, but of course get their supplies from the same place that human doctors do. Thus, with the 'tax', vets will end up bumping their rates for a whole host of things. If you don't think that is significant then either you don't own an animal or have been to the vet recently.


No question, but this guy is one sick individual. However, he didn't eat, kidnap, or torture anyone, nor did he actually pay anyone to do it. Yet he is going to jail. Whatever the written law says, he didn't actually do anything and his crime was in his head. It is chilling to realize the law has evolved to a point where it is possible thought crimes to result in jail time. I hope there is something more to this story...

At first I thought this was a great idea. Then, in retrospect I began to wonder if perhaps it wasn't such a great idea. I see two problems:

1) These bracelets are dependent on GPS for their tracking. It does not take a hacking master to create a device to spoof the GPS, and thus spoil the tracking advantage. A little box, strapped above the device and presto, the virtual inmate is freed. 
2) The point of locking up some non-violent offenders is to prevent them from hurting people in a non-violent way - say identity theft, check kiting, and the list goes on. If they are to be 'virtually' imprisoned this way, it is not a deterrence and does not secure society by removing them from it. 

Now for a large number of dregs pulled into the prison system by the drug war, this might make sense, assuming that the GPS spoofing issue can be solved. Perhaps a city wide tracking system using encrypted unspoofable positioning data in conjunction with the GPS. that won't stop them from running & using a spoofer for their getaway, but it will make it harder.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

God Save the Queen, Dr. Robot, and Tax Burgers

Things worth musing about today:


We Prefer the Queen

So it is no surprise that the Falkland Islands folks prefer to British rather than Argentinian. The thing that struck me when I read this was the attitude of the Argentinians. Consider this:
"They're British, we respect their identity and their way of life and that they want to continue to be British. But the territory they occupy is not British"
 The hubris there is a bit stunning. Essentially what they are saying is these people have lived there for almost 200 years, and Argentina accepts they are British, but we want them to give us their stuff and go away because we were there briefly back before 1822. Yeah - I think not.

I think most Americans don't pay too much to this and don't understand the dispute. I admittedly only have a surface understanding of it. In Virginia we have a little island (Tangiers) between us and Maryland that identifies with neither state, and to some degree, not the US either. The statement above shows that this kind of 'identity crisis' is not what this is about. They (the Argentinians) want not just the resident's obsequence, but their exit. The spoils? Not even on the islands - it's the rich oil fields they are really after...


Dr Robot - Report to Surgery

After reading this I thought 'Yes!' - this is exactly the proper use of robots - or more accurately, telebots. In theory, the surgeon doesn't even have to be in the room. Highly skilled surgeons can perform their work from remote locations, simulators can be constructed to allow them to safely hone their skills or even dry run tricky procedures from models constructed from scan data. too cool!


Back when I thought my body as good enough to eat anything, this was the go to place for burgers and fries - mostly LOTS of fries. I had two takeaways from this article. First, the owner went to a lot of trouble and expense to organize his stores as separate entities to avoid the Obamacare employee penalty. This is a successful businessman, surely following the best available advice of his attorneys and tax advisers only the find out that even organized that way, he was still stuck. Remember 'we have to pass it to know what's in it'? Now we see that even professionals whose job it is to know what's in it couldn't tell until it's actually implemented. This is not rule of law - it is something very different.

The second thing I got from this is is admiration for the owner. He didn't indicate he would 'cut cost', i.e. produce a cheaper product for the same price or start cutting back on the amount of fries that constitute a 'regular' order. Nope - changing the product that brought him success was not an option. He is going to walk the tightrope of price and number of employees. It's a congressional manufactured dilemma that no one should be facing.

Monday, March 11, 2013

I'll Have A NY Double, Fashionistas, and Lying Liars

Stuff that caught my eye today:

NY Drinking

After looking over what the judge said I have gained some hope. When I first heard that Nanny Bloomberg said that drinks can only be so big, I remember thinking 'who died and made him king?'. Turns out, the judge ruled that no one did. He directed his executive controlled health board to just make up the rule, when the rule making rightly belongs to the city council. That in a nutshell is how the the whole Obamacare and regulatory overreach of the EPA should have been handled on a national scale. That it wasn't indicates that we are still in serious trouble as a nation, and something is fundamentally broken in our system of checks and balances.

Faux Pas Fashion

This did get a smile out of me. The fact that the guy did not consciously wear the pro-Israel shirt to a tearful goodbye to the a communist despot makes it a little humorous. Not as funny as say wearing a 'If you voted for Obama because he's black your a racist' shirt and wondering southeast DC, but still funny. The fact that his persecution caused over half of the Jews in Venezuela to flee, and that he was good buddies with mid-east Jew killers makes it not so funny. That the people at not only knew that he despised Jews, but had that opinion too says much about his sad legacy.

Lying Liars

Who even knew that Zimmerman was even actually facing a second trial? Seriously, given all the corruption and nonsense that incident has generated, it really is about time for the prosecuting attorneys to just let this one go and hope that no one remembers what a sad spectacle this arrest and prosecution has been or their role in it. I hope to God that Zimmerman finds a way to go after the cops, the prosecution, and even the Judge in a civil action for political theater they have enjoined against him. Then there is this:

(f) a lawyer engages in any other intentional conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation that seriously adversely reflects on the lawyer's fitness to practice.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Drone Data, Border laptops, and Swearing

So I saw this and had some thoughts on it:

Drone Data Not Published Anymore

My first thought was why was the data published at all. Sure it didn't list specifics like what scum got whacked or when, but it did give a sense of the the overall capabilities for anyone that really wanted to cull through the data. That in itself is not a big deal I think. Knowing how military bureaucracies work, this data's presence probably was some intelligence weenie's way of showing:
  • how great he/she was at collating reports
  • how much stuff was reportedly getting done
  • justification for a contractor's enormous budget for but-sitting
Then the Rand Paul filibuster thing happened and suddenly people who should not be looking at the report suddenly were to find out answers like 'how many people did we kill and how efficient were we at it?'

I can imagine immediate word flowed down from the general staff to cull all unnecessary data from all public reports on drones. Chop, chop, out went the stats. In true (and typical) Air Force 'shooting yourself in the foot' manner, now the cover-up is stupider looking than the missing data. Their saving grace is that with larger cover-ups like Benghazi in place and taking ineffectual fire, this one will by and large be ignored.

Then there's this tidbit:

Court Says Only Causal Groping of Laptops at Border

I will admit that it's been years since i've subjected myself to the tender mercies of the TSA or crossed a border, so this is all pretty academic for me (currently). I am heartened that the court recognized there are limits. Unfortunately, I am thinking that only bureaucratic policy changes will change any TSA behavior. With the current leadership in the Attorney General's office and Homeland Security, I would expect more of a thumbed nose reaction to this ruling than any real adherence to the courts ruling by way of a policy change.

It is a sad commentary that the men & women responsible for securing the border are looking for child porn and thought crimes, while being forced to not profile obvious terrorist who should be occupying their time. The real worry is when the TSA extends their mandate to anywhere within 200 miles of say an airport serving international flights (a port of entry). Then they would have the ability to 'casually examine' any laptop in DC, even in Senator Paul's office, ala a legal Watergate style break in.

A strange new world indeed...

Finally this:

I believe this was a deliberate slap back at Rand Paul and others who were asking 'hey, what happened to our rights?'. The obvious answer is, 'We'll pick and choose your rights, here's a document without them that will do nicely for the swearing in of the head of the one agency whose mandate is to operate at the very edge of the laws that protect those rights. Oh, and Republicans that allowed him to be confirmed? Thanks for all the fish'.

Unfortunately I am beyond being offended by such blatant disregard of rights. I recall loosing my cherry on that one when I went to a town hall meeting that Senator Mark Warner and his buddy Howard Dean did during the Obamacare debate. A nice little old lady got up and asked 'Where in the constitution do you get the right to do this to us', and Senator laughed at her and the union thugs in the crowd booed. 

Rights? Rights? You don't need no stinking rights!