I don't mean to offend. It's probably going to happen anyway.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

Today is the day we commemorate the birth and life of a man who, regardless of your religious beliefs, changed the world we live in hugely. For me and my family it is a day of joyous celebration and kinship. If you are able, hug those who you love and care about. Today is a good day.

Merry Christmas to you all.

Sunday, December 23, 2012


I am a 20 year old man, born and raised an American. Today I must say I am disappointed in the face of our nation.

Tragedy is not something to be twisted to the gain of anything. Not personal wealth, not agenda, not pride, not social status, not anything. The phrase "Never let a crisis go to waste" (Rahm Emanuel, former White House Chief of Staff to Obama and current Mayor of Chicago) should be treated as the evil it is.

Americans no longer really know how to deal with grief. Far too often we feel we must be seen to be doing something. Here is an excellent breakdown of exactly that. I beg of you, America, be willing to stand back and let the grief happen. Stop sticking your noses in it, stop trying to be seen doing something, stop.

Practically no Americans feel the full weight of the grief these families are experiencing. Some feel more than others. Some feel nothing at all, and feel worse about that than they do about the event. This event has been so publicized that everyone feels they should feel something. Just.... stop. Stop talking about it, stop thinking about it, stop moping about it. What's done is done. If the families need anything in the coming times, they will turn to trusted, close people. There is nothing we as Americans can do. We are doing harm by trying.

I want to call out a few particularly guilty parties. The media has had huge coverage of these killings in  recent days. Watch this. By glorifying these killers, plastering their faces and names over everything, you promote their behavior. A proper reaction to this is to strike their existence from the record. Do not publicize the killers name. Do not have a trial by media for him. This man (for I have to recant a statement in my last post. He is still human, and a child of God, for all that his actions are just about as evil as it is possible for a human to be) committed an act of evil, is dead, and will be taken to account for his actions. There's nothing more we can do to or about him. There's nothing to be done to help the families. There's a great deal of harm to be done by over-coverage. Just stop.

The number of corporations and businesses that have made certain public gestures in the past few days rather annoy me. Cerberus sold off the Freedom Group of firearms manufacturers. Cheaper Than Dirt temporarily suspended sale of firearms. Walmart pulled the Bushmaster brand from their shelves. There are others. These gestures are meaningless in the grand scheme of things, and just serve as publicity efforts. Matthew 6:5, "And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward." If you feel compelled to do something, do it in secret. Do it in such a way that success is measured in how few people know you've done anything. THAT is service. That should be its own reward, if it is indeed a good thing you do.

President Obama, Joan Peterson, Diane Feinstein, and all others using this tragedy as an impetus for further gun control. Who the hell are you? You are manipulating this tragedy for the gain of your agenda. Tell me, would this attack have been any less evil had the killer used a gasoline or propane bomb? ANFO? A knife? A sword? A sharpened stick? Rocks? Evil is evil, and it will not be stopped by the laws of men. The tool is irrelevant to the will behind it. Stop dancing in blood.

Those on the other side of the argument, using this as further evidence of the need for armed teachers, armed guards, etc. you are equally reprehensible. If you can conclusively show that had there been an armed person in that school, then the attack wouldn't have happened, then we can talk. The fact that I agree with the theory does not change the fact that you too are guilty of dancing in blood.

Read this. That monster can be extended to all of humanity. There is evil in the world. It's part of what allows there to be good in the world. To shy away, to pretend it isn't there and will always be there for as long as humanity is humanity is foolish and naive. Pull it out. Face it as an individual. Come to grips with the fact that this world is not and cannot be perfect until the end of days. Figure out how you, my gentle reader, are going to deal with it. I get the feeling many of you already have, by the merit of my readership base.

Stop making this into a national issue. A tragedy befell a single community, though it hurts us all in different ways. Do not make this into more than it is.

Note: my personal religious sentiment does appear in this piece, though I endeavor to keep it largely secular and available to everyone. If you disagree with my religion, it does not mean you have to disagree with my larger point.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Absolute Evil

A few months ago, I tried to write a post about the differences between good and evil, and the fact that this world does in fact have some absolutes. I couldn't get it into any form I felt good enough to present to the world, so it died a lonely death.

It's time to go back to this topic.

This morning, a monster walked into a school in Connecticut and shot a great many people. According to initial reports, most of those people were children. This is, absolutely without question, Evil.

In our modern world, there is a trend towards explaining actions like these. Towards finding the "blame". Some blame guns. Some blame bad upbringings. Some blame mental illness, medications, or drugs. Some blame video games. If there was an unusual facet of the perpetrators life, odds are it will be at least considered as the thing to blame.  All of this is absolutely irrelevant.

The only thing to blame here is the perpetrator. What this monster did is Absolute Evil. Unquestioningly. The fault lies solely and entirely on it. Yes, 'it'. I think too highly of humanity to label this foul creature as among their number. I cannot express my utter revulsion for this being and its actions in words fit to print.

When I first heard about this, I wanted to crawl back in bed and hide away from the world. How could I bear being in a world like this? A world where innocent children, children not old in some cases to even know what a sin is, let alone be guilty of them, are murdered for simply being there. When such evil exists in the world, why bother getting out of bed? Quite simply, Edmund Burke put it best. "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing" (disputed attribution).  There will always be evil in this world, for as long as humans are human. Always. All we can do is stand against it as best we can. For there is good in the world, in addition to evil, should it only choose to be.

My tears, thoughts, and prayers go out to these families struck by the worst sort of tragedy. I cannot begin to fathom their loss. Nor can I fathom the pain caused by other acts of evil that happen around the world every single day. All I can say is that I will never back down. I will never step aside and allow evil to happen when I could have stopped it.

May God hold the souls of the deceased close to him, may their families find peace, and may the sins of the shooter weigh heavily upon his soul for all eternity.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


I just wrote a paper I think is pretty darn good about the aquarium industry for a class. I want to wait until I have it graded to post it here to avoid plagiarism claims, but in the next couple days I'll post that.

Until then, how are you all? Any fun holiday plans?

Monday, December 3, 2012


I know not everyone shares my fascination with fish, but I daresay it would take a hard heart not to appreciate this. In the past few days, one of my dwarf seahorses gave birth. I saw one first last night as I was turning off the light, and have found two more since.

Dwarf seahorses live up to their name. They are all of an inch long tip to tail full grown. As you can perhaps imagine, the fry are significantly smaller. I can't say with certainty, but it looks for the moment like they are less than 8mm long. Based on relative sizing there's no way they popped out of dad that size, so at a guess I'd say they are 2-5 days old. I'll monitor their growth over the next few days and try to find a trend line.

These things are obscenely cute.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

It can be a hard thing in the modern world to take eyes off of the all too obvious problems in the world and focus on the good. Israel and Palestine are still at each others throats, our government is still most of the way down the progressive slippery slope, and the economy is toast.

That doesn't mean there isn't still good. Keeping that perspective can be difficult, which is part of the reason I think Thanksgiving is such a great tradition. Take a look around you without the cynicism bred into us by experience and see those parts of your world that are good.

For me, I was able to travel a thousand miles in a couple hours, from a school that is paying me to be there and better myself, back to a loving family. That on its own should be more than enough, but I have been blessed in so many more ways.

Have a happy Thanksgiving everyone, and remember that there is still lots of good in the world if only you can care to see it.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


I don't get how the conflict in Israel is up for debate. We have one side that willingly gave land and existence to the other side and are just trying to live their lives, and that other side then starts lobbing mortars and rockets because they've got a case of the hips in re: the very existence of their enemy.

I get that Hamas wants Jerusalem, but guess what, you can't always get what you want. Firing explosives into populated areas should be a clear cut case of "these are the bad guys, ok?" but for some reason I will NEVER understand, many people sympathize with Palestine.

Israel has every right to exist. Israel has every right to defend that existence against all threats. I'd personally even say Israel has the right to be aggressive in that defense, to remove the threat entirely. Take Iran as another point. Iran is developing nuclear weapons. Iran has sworn to wipe Israel off the face of the planet. Israel is a small enough land area that a single nuke basically means game over. Israel does not have the option of reacting to threats.

I honestly don't see where the room for disagreement comes. The only possible place would be in debating Israel's right to exist, which I see as preposterous. No one debates that Poland should be allowed to exist. Why then is it so different for Israel?

Someone want to explain this to me?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Fallacy of the Quick Win

In a recent post, Oleg criticizes the 'marksman mindset' common to many discussions of a modern American revolution. The comment thread is really interesting, but I feel like it's missing some fairly important questions. There's rather a lot of discussion of various tactical and strategic subjects, but there's one question only tangentially mentioned at any point (at time of writing).

Who is the Enemy?

Some commenters were acting like the military is the thing to beat (as indeed was the tone of Oleg's original post) while others spoke of taking down the government establishment, while still others spoke of other strange permutations of organized violence.

If it comes to the point of needing violence to salvage this country, we have already lost.

Let me repeat that. Violence means we lose. Even should the military join the coup and every federal employee removed from office, if it comes to that point, it's all over. The fundamental nature of this country will be forever destroyed. A new country may arise from the ashes, with the same spirit as the old, but it will not be the United States.

Say then that this miracle coup has torn down the old Fed and placed a new, better .gov in place that will solve all the governmental problems in this country. Now what? Guess what? All the things we find so objectionable about the .gov today are representative of the minds of the people. Enough people are on the dole, enough people have no economic understanding, and enough people are single issue voters to stymie any attempt at a new government. At worst, you'd have another revolution on your hands as the rest of America decides it wants to go back to the way things were, and at best you restart the decline into our current predicament, with the added impetus of already having a population used to being ruled.

Who is the enemy? If anyone could conclusively show that one person was responsible for what's going on, I'd be right behind the mob going after them. That's sorta what happened with that whole British Monarchy thing, after all. Instead, we have a breakdown of the nation IN RESPONSE TO a breakdown of American society, not the other way around (though there is a bit of a vicious circle in it as well.)

There is no quick fix to this. It's not a case of "oh, well we just need to shoot all the bad guys then everything will be awesome again." If it were, it's possible half the country would end up dead. If this is going to be fixed, it's going to take work of the sort that lasts generations, not months. We didn't get here overnight, and we're not getting out overnight either.

It's also the sort of fight that's going to need to happen on pretty much every front at the same time. Electing principled politicians willing to do the unpopular, becoming active in governments from federal to township level, and, perhaps most importantly, doing our absolute best to raise new generations that will have the proper principles to move this nation in a good direction.

I'm not one to say that this country is beyond hope. She's in bad shape, but I don't think it's time to take her out behind the woodshed with the shotgun. It's going to take work, and she'll probably never again be entirely what she was, but it's not beyond hope. At least, that's what I keep telling myself.

Post Election Burnout

I just posted this on Teh Facebooks. It pretty well sums up some of my feelings on this election:

"I've had quite enough of all political junk on here. The people crowing about the victory, the people complaining about the defeat, and the people (myself included in this group) calling out one group or the other for whatever. Yeah, it's stupid to say you'll move to Canada because the wrong stuffed shirt is in office and the world is going to end. Yeah, it's stupid to claim that because the right shirt won, the world is going to be all happiness and rainbows and that this is a great time for freedom and 'murica and all that. I've had enough of it all. This election burned me out. For those of you who know me well, you know I'm pretty unflinching in my political stances, and I'm generally willing to discuss them. But no one posting now seems at all interested in discussion. Everyone, just shut up. Enough. Yes, I'd be saying this if Romney won as well in all likelihood."

As alluded to in my last post (potentially two back depending on when this goes live relative the the "quick win" post) I burned out early. I couldn't get enthusiastic about Romney, and I've had doubts as to whether he'd be any better than Obama. I quite simply loathe Obama and so much of what he stands for though, so my hopes went to what I saw as the lesser of two evils. My support went third party.

It was really disappointing to read more and more about the Johnson/Gray ticket and get more and more interested and excited, only to have floating in the back of my mind the absolute knowledge that they were NEVER going to win.

It's really hard to care about the direction the government is going when the inertia behind it is of most of the countries voting public. I sympathize with those people who keep saying they're moving to Canada or wherever. It's tempting to be able to wash your hands of the seemingly inevitable decline of this country. The only real problem with that is that there's not really anywhere better to run.

It's hard to care when the liberal notion of feelings over results becomes so widespread as to have any attempt at logical debate impossible.

To counter arguments that this will just continue to foster support for the tea party and other third parties, how likely does that really seem? The people who have bothered to find out more about the tea party and co. ALREADY SUPPORT THEM. Those who haven't won't be swayed in any case. I think that the mindset I have towards government is the best one. There's a reason I hold it. I know I'm distinctly in the minority on this one, and I have a hard time seeing how it's going to get better.

Lighter content may turn up once I'm not feeling quite so cynical.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Voter's Block

So. Tomorrow, November 6th, I will be voting for the first time. I am 20, and should have voted in the last round of elections, but I missed registration, so now's the time.

I'm voting for Gary Johnson.

I've been mulling over this for quite some time. I knew there was absolutely NO way I was ever going to vote for Obama. My distaste for the man and his policies runs too deep, and the potential for what he could do as a lame duck is frankly more frightening than I want to consider. The Romney question has been more troublesome.

Honestly, I have a hard time feeling much of anything. I certainly can't get enthusiastic about him. His record in Massachusetts is too wishy-washy, and he has seemed to be making an effort to appeal in disingenuous ways (such as his purchase of a Life NRA membership and some of the other firearms related stuff, especially in light of the Massachusetts AWB) but on his core principles, he seems a solid individual, and his effectiveness record is rather impressive. I can't work up a lather against him. I just disagree on enough practical issues to not care to vote for him.

I'm voting in Texas. I don't think there's much doubt in anyone's mind that Texas is going to Romney. My vote wouldn't matter much anyways voting for him. Enter Gary Johnson/Jim Gray. People, this is a ticket I can get behind. I'm not in 100% agreement with everything they've said, but unless I decide to run myself, that's probably not going to happen anyways. Their principles are well aligned with mine, and they seem just ridiculously intelligent.

They are not going to win.

As much as I wish they could, this country is too well seated in the two party system to allow a third party to get the kind of momentum needed to come into its own. A loss in this election though doesn't preclude winning the eventual war. If they get enough votes to catch the attention of the nation, there's a chance that it may be the start to a larger trend.

I'm not going to make any predictions for tomorrow. People much smarter and better versed in the issues are completely divided on who will win, and I'll leave that question for another 48 hours. I expect there to be cheating, and accusations of the same flying for days if not years. Time will tell.

I pray that this country can start to turn itself around. I've seen a number of internet posts saying "don't set this country back 50 years" and the like. People, that's precisely what I'd like to see (with obvious exceptions of certain social tendencies like racism and sexism.) Movement is not necessarily good. I want to move backwards. Forwards just leads off a cliff.

I still have a mental pile of posts I want to get into real form, and a few that are halfway there. I think I'm coming back.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Sorry everyone...

Sorry for the lack of posting. I've been having some blogger issues, but the main problem is a sudden drying of the wellspring of creativity. I've got plenty of things to talk about, but lately the time and inclination to actually post about them has dwindled. I'm not gone. Blogging has simply never been my priority, and the higher rated things are taking up more time than usual. I haven't forgotten about you all though. I'll be back, hopefully sooner rather than later.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Blogger troubles

I am having trouble with Blogger eating my posts. We'll hopefully be back up and running shortly.

Monday, September 17, 2012

DAB 2.0

All I can say is wow. I had a fantastic time throughout, and I hope everyone else had as much fun as I did. I'll have a more full account later, but real life has me swamped at the moment. Too many things I should have been doing this weekend instead of the blogmeet. Oh well. Worth it.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

And We're Back

There was an outbreak of real life there, but I think it's safely contained now.

I've had a few things percolating, but, unfortunately, none of them are quite coalescing into workable posts.

So, it's another hodge podge!

United States Ambassador to Libya murdered by angry crowd. I find this depressing on a huge number of levels, not least of which is that this sort of headline is becoming all too familiar. Add to that the highly unlikely nature of any retaliatory action against this blatant act of war, and it's just... gah.

The other thing that really irks me is our involvement in putting in place the very system whose constituents are now rampaging about murdering our diplomats. I said it then, and I say it now. We have/had NO business interfering in Libya, much less on the side of the rebels. (Nor anywhere else in the "Arab Spring", for that matter.)

Another September 11th has rolled around, and the recognizance has, predictably, decreased dramatically. As with December 7, 1942, time is balm for many wounds, and the nation has collectively moved on.

While I would say that the time for grief is past, I would absolutely not say that the time has come to forget, and, though it is not a very Christian thing of me to say, the time has not come for forgiveness either.

One of the posts I'm working on concerns this. I wanted to have it up for the 11th, but life got in the way.

My rhetoric class has actually been my most interesting course so far this year. I am rather fond of argument and analysis of the same (as some of you may have figured out by now) and it's a fun subject. There is absolutely no career in it I would care for of course, so that's the catch. I like engineering and biology more in any case.

I got a package of joy from the Fed-Ex truck. I am actually starting to get on the point where the dwarf seahorse project is becoming a reality. It is exciting. Pictures will come in due course.

Technology is fantastic.

The Dallas Area Blogmeet/shoot is this Saturday/Sunday. I am ridiculously excited. I don't know if you can still sign up to join us, but head over to BobS to find out.

On Sunday I heard an absolutely fantastic talk by Jeffery Holland, an apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I'll link to it once I find the transcript. It's good from a secular or religious perspective.

On that note, I am right now actively exploring my faith, and am shortly going to be baptized into the LDS church. I'm probably not going to talk about matters of faith particularly often or in depth, and I won't be using this space for proselytizing. All I ask is that you all remain respectful. I've never had a problem with an abusive or even rude commenter, and I hope to keep up that record as long as possible.

Thinking about the history of medicine, I have to wonder what the next huge leap will be. Penicillin and other antibiotics were one, and vaccines another (there are lots, of course.) The thing that strikes me though is that the people from before the discovery could never have predicted it. (As is true of any innovation, but the medical ones are particularly interesting to me right now.)

Firefly is a fantastic series, and anyone with access to Netflix should watch it. It doesn't take long.

I think that's enough brain flow for a while.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Political Ethics.... Right

Long time readers will perhaps remember at one point last year I decided to run a weekly feature on political ethics. Similarly, they may also remember that I stopped doing those fairly quickly.

Quite simply, I bit off more than I could chew. Questions of political ethics are exceedingly complicated, in the nature of politics. Political ideals are impossible, as the people in power are still people, and as such have interests of their own, potentially contrary to their political duties. While honorable politicians have, and potentially still do, existed, they are, unfortunately, the minority.

Similarly, the double bind, or lesser of two evils, situation is exceptionally common in political work, and even the most honorable of politicians may find themselves torn between competing ideals.

I came to realize fairly quickly that I just plain don't know enough and am too unqualified to really speak on these things.

I may come back to the topic from time to time (I still want to get through my topic list in some way or another) but making a weekly feature of it isn't feasible. I'm trying to resurrect it in some capacity or another though.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Hey, Nature! Part the second

I touched on this in passing in Hey, Nature!, but I feel it deserves a post of its own.

There's a special breed of arrogance that is endemic to the regulation of nature (and, coincidentally, regulation of most other things, but more on that later.) The science cannot give a full picture, yet regulators and an unfortunately large number of scientists try to make sweeping, grand plans based on incomplete information.

There are two things I want to complain about. First is the arrogance of assuming we can understand a complicated system, and second is the arrogance of assuming we can control that system. The first will be of greater brevity than the second, as I spent most of last post talking about complicated systems.

There are several handy 'insanity tests' that apply here. First off, altered reality testing, being the inability to distinguish reality from fantasy. We can see that as scientists talk about absolute truth, and "settled" science. Any scientist deserving of the title should know the extent of their own ignorance. Those who would regulate do not.

Global warming is an excellent example here. I'm not going to get too much into the actual studies and validity of the claims, because that's a kettle of worms even I'm not crazy enough to open. Head over to Borepatch for that, as he is better informed and better at presenting the information than I am.

Let's just stop and think for a minute about the system. Most claims of global warming are based on a series of computer models. Computers in this day and age are mindbogglingly powerful. (Seriously. Stop for a minute and consider the machine on which you're reading this.) Video games are approaching photo-realism, and mathematical models have come up with answers to age old mathematical puzzles. Silliness like taking the Ackermann function with Graham's number as the arguments is actually computable with modern processing. (I think. Maybe a bad example. That's a really, really big number) Here's the problem. Climate is even bigger.

Quite literally everything that happens on this planet (and on quite a few of our neighbors as well) is capable of altering climate in some manner. While the butterfly effect is rather an extreme case, the fundamental principle is sound. At the very least, every tree, every parking lot, every volcanic bubble, every air conditioner, and every methane spewing cow will have an effect on the system. As you can imagine, tracking all of these variables is essentially impossible.

What you may not imagine is just how difficult even basic tracking is. For instance, one of the most widely quoted studies on global warming disregards a very potent greenhouse gas.  Lest you think this gas is just found in such minor quantities as to be irrelevant, it's water vapor, which, last I checked, is rather a major component of weather and climate.

Computer models have their place, don't get me wrong, but the incredible arrogance needed to take their results as gospel is rather irksome. Like it or not, we have an incomplete understanding of our environment, and we likely always will. Attempts to control that which we do not understand is senseless.

The second insanity test that comes to mind is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. While certain measures have been somewhat effective, they tend to be in the direct interaction of humans and the environment. Entertainingly, hunting regulations (the evil hunting which environmentalists decry, by the way) tend to be among the best regulatory actions, as managed deer herds and stocked fishing lakes tend to be healthier and more robust than their wild counterparts. The distinction with those actions though is in the difference between management and regulation.

Management for the point of this exercise is a reactive process. As problems become apparent, such as a deer herd consisting of too many old deer who are unable to produce as many healthy offspring, the management process will make some change to the HUMAN interaction with the environment to counteract the problem, such as killing off only female deer 7 years or older one year. Reactions with a focus on human action and direct acknowledgement of the changing nature of the environment is management.

Regulation meanwhile is a proactive process. As environmentalists realized that spotted owls in California were dying off due to habitat destruction. The management solution would be to simply stop cutting down quite so many trees, if the survival of the spotted owl was deemed an appropriate thing to work on. Instead, the EPA put spotted owls on the endangered species list, there were bans placed on logging and other habitat destruction, they planted a great deal of new forest, and I believe they killed off some predators as well, though I am uncertain on that.

The net effect of this was, indeed, a resurgence in the population of spotted owls, to the point where there are actually too many of them. A non-native species of predatory owl has moved into the areas, and are preying on the spotted owls, as well as on everything else in the area. The solution to this has been to shoot the invading owls. This does not seem an ideal situation to me. By attempting to fix, not just manage, the environment ended up far more disrupted than it otherwise had been.

The best example of this is in the National Parks. Reading their history, particularly in the early days, is like a laundry list of failed practices. Wolves in Yellowstone were completely extirpated, then reintroduced, with massive chaos both times. Attempts to control the environment failed miserably, and pretty consistently made things worse.

It's hard to conceptualize on that sort of scale though, so let's take a smaller approach.

As I have established already, I am an amateur aquarist. I am staring at my 6 gallon nano-reef right now, and I spent a good bit of the evening planning out a species tank for dwarf seahorses. I am still distinctly an amateur, but there are some things I can say about the hobby.

One of the hardest things for people new to the hobby to get into their heads is that it is better for a tank to be stable at less than ideal conditions than to be constantly fluctuating closer to ideal values. The aquarium industry has supplements and equipment and testing material for pretty much every aspect of water chemistry you would care to know, and it would be very easy to spend thousands of dollars on maintenance stuff. For really advanced stuff, some of that can be useful, and it can be useful to correct for the unexpected chemical upsets in your system.

For most people's purposes though, screwing with your water chemistry will stress your inhabitants and kill things. I have known people who were so irritated at their pH being .2 outside of ideal that they spent loads of money to get the balancers and buffers, only for the abrupt change in pH to kill half their tank. Heck, I've done similar things myself (though thankfully not with my reef.)

Quite simply, apart from those things that are necessary by the aquarium's nature as a closed system (energy in, waste out) there are fairly few things that really should be fiddled with, and most of them (strontium, magnesium, calcium and the like) are included in the salt mixes people in the hobby use. It can be frustrating to see that despite your best efforts, your calcium levels are a little out of spec, but it's most often something that is truly well enough left on its own.

The thing to understand is that despite the fact that we as keepers can control most everything that goes into and comes out of our tanks, we do not control the tanks. They are living systems, and it is our job as keepers to maintain equilibrium, rather than create the ideal. Striving for perfection is impossible, and the damage done in the effort is potentially catastrophic.

I just spent perhaps more money than I should have on a new setup. I will be keeping dwarf seahorses, hippocampus zosterae, in a species only setup. Seahorses are generally considered to be difficult to expert only critters to keep, because of both their delicate nature and their specialized diets. They are native to estuaries and grass flats around florida. This is, correspondingly, their ideal environment.

For people who live on the Florida coast, this is a simple thing to recreate, as, well, you don't actually have to replicate anything, as the original is at your disposal. At some point, I want to live in a coastal location and put together a tank in this manner.

For now, though, I am sitting in Texas. Quite simply, I am incapable of replicating precisely Floridian water conditions, and even if I cared to, the water wouldn't keep if I were to order the water directly from Florida. We can, however, get a stable system that is close enough to the ideal for the creatures to thrive.

This is basically the point that I'd make for everything. Close enough in these matters really is good enough. There are too many unknowns to make perfection possible, and considering that the system is imperfect to begin with, it's just silly to try for it. Change is the way of things, and we are not separable from the world in which we live. The distinctions of artificial and natural are, well.... artificial.

Pride is considered a deadly sin for a reason. Environmentalists on the whole really need to take a step back and look at the big picture, and I mean the REALLY big picture. This planet will spin on long after we're gone. Thinking we have the capacity to threaten that is... arrogant. Thinking we can act without changing it is similarly arrogant. Nature has an interesting habit of swatting arrogance, and I'd rather not get swatted, myself.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Content Notice

Hey, Nature! part two is going up hopefully sometime this afternoon or tomorrow. Come back and check then.

 (I've been making the effort to keep something new up and going for my readers, so stay tuned. I've actually got things worth saying now. Maybe.)

Monday, September 3, 2012

I'm a Foodie

I went grocery shopping today. Sprouts is an easy bike ride away from my apartment, and has good food for cheap prices. Wandering around trying to plot what I'll be eating the next week or so, I came across swordfish steaks for $5.99/lb. "That seems a fair price," says I, so I grabbed a steak and wandered around trying to figure out what to do with it.

When I cook, I don't usually follow a recipe particularly closely. I'll use them as inspiration, but cooking someone else's food wholesale just seems sorta like cheating. 'Sides, so far I've been happier with the stuff I invented. This often means though that I don't really know what I'll be cooking till I start though. Here, I wandered around trying to figure out what sort of sauce I wanted to make as I passed by the jellies. One jar of apricot jelly later and I had my inspiration.

pan seared Swordfish
olive oil
corn meal

apricot jelly
orange juice
grated ginger
lemon juice

All of my measurements are of course hyper-specific, and cannot be deviated from even slightly. Take a dollop (metric) of apricot jelly, a splash (USCS) of orange juice, half a tablespoon butter, juice of half a lemon, and a drizzle and a half of honey, and mix and reduce in a small sauce pan.

Take a handful of corn meal, add a pinch of salt, a smidge of cayenne and a twist or two of black pepper, and rub onto both sides of your swordfish steak.

Sear steak on high heat in olive oil, roughly 2 min on a side for a .5-.75" steak.

Drizzle glaze over and serve with rice.

Serves one teenage boy with a remarkable appetite. YMMV.

This is... remarkable. In future, I would probably up the ginger from what I did, and perhaps the lemon juice as well, and tone down the orange juice. I'd also go with slightly more corn meal for structure. But certainly a good first effort.

It's remarkably easy, even in a dorm setting. From start to end, including rice, the cook time was about 20 minutes. It also is remarkably cheap (assuming that you can find the fish at decent prices) as I fed myself for under 12$ for all ingredients, most of which I still have 50-90% of. I'm pleased.


This post is of a philosophical bent, and from a perspective I have no authority on. I have never been in a self-defense situation, and, god willing, I never will be.

If I find myself in a self defense situation though, I am going to do my level best to end the threat as quickly and effectively as I am able to. The primary concern is my own safety (or the safety of those I am trying to protect) followed by the safety of everyone else around. Yes, this sounds harsh, to say that the safety of an innocent bystander means less to me than mine or that of those I care about, but accidents happen, and, like the situation outside the Empire State Building, sometimes removal of the threat is more important.

There is another set of concerns though. I don't want the goblin to suffer.

This sounds bizarre. Here I am, prepared to wreak potentially life-ending violence on someone who is threatening me or mine, and I am concerned with their comfort. I think it very important to remember though.

By their actions, in threatening my life, that person has given up their own rights. They have no right to comfort, life, death, or security in the moments of the attack. But it is by granting them a modicum of concern for their comfort that we maintain our humanity, and, in a cynical sense, the moral high ground. Killing another human being is never a good thing, but it can be a necessary evil, one whose blame falls solely on the goblin.

This is a very dangerous line. To cross it is to stoop to their level, such that the abyss might stare back.

This is why I say that guns are merciful. A mechanism as quick as any with good shot placement, they remove the period of suffering, given the assumption that the goblin will die. Considering that there is no real way to guarantee the end of the threat without real risk of that eventuality, it seems only proper to think given that assumption though. If they survive and recover, that is a good thing, as we are not in the business of condemnation. But it isn't possible to guarantee.

Shooting a person in the elbow with a .45 ball is going to really mess up that elbow. Shattered bone, severed ligaments, and probably massive circulatory damage, easily to the point of being life threatening if left untreated. It would also be massively painful, and to boot, it would not guarantee the end of the threat. How then is that a better option than shooting them once in the head?

Anti's often talk about our obsession with the gear we carry. The caliber wars, plastic v steel, 1911 or GLOCK, these discussions can seem highly callous when you consider that these tools are potentially to be used to end someone's life. They lend credence to the anti idea that we are all looking for a fight, and are trying to be as deadly as possible.

We do walk something of a razor's edge on this. It does happen that someone gets a little too into the self-defense mindset, and goes over. We as gun owners and self-defense advocates absolutely need to keep mindful of why we want to carry effective tools, and remember the principles of being merciful to the end. It is a thing of mercy to avoid causing unnecessary suffering. Better tools better allow us to avoid suffering. We are not in the business of punishment. But protecting ourselves sometimes requires the use of force. It is a huge responsibility, and we best live up to that responsibility by using the best tools possible. It's about mercy.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Ah, Facebook

I made a mistake. I made a political point on Facebook.

The discussion started out well, until yet another young liberal firebrand got his hands on the thread. The rhetoric and vitriol on display was... fascinating, disturbing, and more than a little frightening.

It started after a friend posted about his distaste for the treatment of Ron Paul and company at the RNC.  This friend was unable to support Romney in good faith because of it. I asked him which would be worse, Obama or Romney, and got into a position of having to elucidate my opposition to the man.

The names have been redacted to protect the guilty.

Persona A: \Excuse me, but what has Obama done that's so awful? Was it implementing a form of universal health care (which is something, I might add, almost EVERY other developed country has)? Was it allowing gays to serve their country without having to hide who they really are? Or was it finally ending a completely pointless war? If anything Obama's biggest crime is that he hasn't done enough.
 Scribbler: The healthcare bill is a completely awful piece of legislation that needs to be stricken from the books. The fact that everyone else has it is irrelevant. 95% of all medical innovation happens in the US for a reason. Ending DADT was basically a punt. More people have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan under Obama than under Bush because of the cripplingly restrictive rules of engagement.
Add to that a massive increase in both debt and deficit, the largest tax increase in US history, the complete suspension of fourth amendment rights (Obama has given himself the power to kill anyone on the 'battlefield' regardless of citizenship in drone strikes. Oh, and by the way, he declared the entire US a battlefield in the 'war on terror') a gunrunning sting that killed hundreds of Mexican civilians and at least one border patrol agent, a lawsuit against a US state for enforcing federal law, a plan to grant amnesty to thousands of illegal aliens, and a whole host of other things that I have neither the time nor inclination to list at the moment and I'd say there's plenty he's done that's objectionable.
Persona A: Medical innovation that is not available to the population at large is irrelevant. If you're underinsured or uninsured the quality of our healthcare system doesn't matter. For the millions of people who get insurance from the law, either be cause they couldn't afford it before or had preexisting conditions, the law is literally a life saver.

Your feelings towards DADT would be different if you yourself were gay. Try a little empathy.

The massive deficit was in large part caused by: 1. Two unfunded and unnecessary wars; 2. Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit; 3. Bush tax cuts; and 4. TARP, all of which were introduced during the Bush administration.

Taxes have actually been cut during the Obama administration and we are now collecting the lowest amount of taxes since the creation of the income tax.

The majority of fourth amendment violations perpetrated by Obama are continuations of practices introduced during the Bush administration with the introduction of the patriot act. While I agree with you that it's wrong, Obama doesn't deserve all the blame.

There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that there was any White House involvement in Operation Fast and Furious, and thus far all investigations to try and prove otherwise have been fruitless.

Your feelings towards DADT would be different if you yourself were gay. Try a little empathy.
The massive deficit was in large part caused by: 1. Two unfunded and unnecessary wars; 2. Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit; 3. Bush tax cuts; and 4. TARP, all of which were introduced during the Bush administration.
Taxes have actually been cut during the Obama administration and we are now collecting the lowest amount of taxes since the creation of the income tax.
The majority of fourth amendment violations perpetrated by Obama are continuations of practices introduced during the Bush administration with the introduction of the patriot act. While I agree with you that it's wrong, Obama doesn't deserve all the blame.
There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that there was any White House involvement in Operation Fast and Furious, and thus far all investigations to try and prove otherwise have been fruitless.
Any immigration plan that doesn't deal with millions of immigrants that are well integrated into our economy and can't simply be sent home is not a serious proposal to deal with a real problem
Scribbler: Medicine is not a right. I'm well familiar with the economics of the medical field and I can tell you this legislation will cripple care in this country. Gold standard to everyone is not the result. Everyone will just get lousy care, if the
y get it at all.

What I mean by punt is that it doesn't really address the issue. it actually opens the door to abuse. Also, you talk about empathy, but talk to people who have been in the military for a while. It's a complicated issue far beyond homophobia. In unit relationships complicate operations hugely. The same problems can apply to women in the military. The military isn't someplace you go for self-expression. Yu

Look through government spending at some point. No, Bush and earlier presidents are not exempt, but they are not to blame either. TARP yes was introduced under Bush, but guess what. The wildly ineffective and expensive bailouts aren't TARP. You also can't blame medicare costs for the deficit within moments of saying just how awesome government sponsored healthcare is. Internally inconsistent.

The specific "largest tax increase in US history" I was speaking of was the healthcare bill. The SCOTUS ruling of it as a tax means that.

Actually, while the patriot act has major problems, the problems I am speaking of have been entirely de-novo to Obama's tenure. The Patriot Act is problematic, but irrelevant.

There is evidence of at least White House involvement in suppressing Fast and Furious. Obama's one and only executive order (which, by the way, requires executive privilege over the documents, implying involvement) was blocking Issa's investigation. No, the investigation hasn't come to any conclusions, but that isn't a case of their uninvolvement, but the cover-up. The investigation isn't allowed to see all the evidence, so it seems premature to say the evidence doesn't exist.

What I mean by punt is that it doesn't really address the issue. it actually opens the door to abuse. Also, you talk about empathy, but talk to people who have been in the military for a while. It's a complicated issue far beyond homophobia. In unit relationships complicate operations hugely. The same problems can apply to women in the military. The military isn't someplace you go for self-expression. Yu
Look through government spending at some point. No, Bush and earlier presidents are not exempt, but they are not to blame either. TARP yes was introduced under Bush, but guess what. The wildly ineffective and expensive bailouts aren't TARP. You also can't blame medicare costs for the deficit within moments of saying just how awesome government sponsored healthcare is. Internally inconsistent.
The specific "largest tax increase in US history" I was speaking of was the healthcare bill. The SCOTUS ruling of it as a tax means that.
Actually, while the patriot act has major problems, the problems I am speaking of have been entirely de-novo to Obama's tenure. The Patriot Act is problematic, but irrelevant.
There is evidence of at least White House involvement in suppressing Fast and Furious. Obama's one and only executive order (which, by the way, requires executive privilege over the documents, implying involvement) was blocking Issa's investigation. No, the investigation hasn't come to any conclusions, but that isn't a case of their uninvolvement, but the cover-up. The investigation isn't allowed to see all the evidence, so it seems premature to say the evidence doesn't exist.
Actually, there are plenty of serious proposals that don't involve sweeping amnesty. Do we need immigration reform? Probably. But we have to start by enforcing the laws already on the books, which this administration has consistently blocked. 

‎*after "military isn't someplace you go for self-expression" should be "You are there to serve your country, not serve yourself."
At this point, the discussion was, well, a discussion. Things remained relatively civil. Then Persona B turns up.

Persona B: Scribbler, if you're so familiar with the medical field you would understand why you should slap yourself in the face for speaking like such an idiot. Either way, the legislation doesn't go far enough.
Persona A: I agree persona B. Single Payer or Bust!
Persona B: Well capitalism naturally leans towards collapse so we're just going to be stuck in the management of a system naturally bound to fail. Either way, David, given the fact that you've not tried to hide the fact that you're a classist bigot, I  wouldn't really be hugely interested in continuing this conversation except to ask you to justify: ". It's a lesser of two evils thing though. What we really need, badly, is a third party." By which, I mean to say, Mitt Romney, as the lesser of two evils.
I would know for certain except you speak in such a garbled, classist, uninformed way that I'm shocked anyone could agree with you thus far.
Persona A: I agree with you B. While Obama isn't perfect (I myself have a lot of problems with him) he certainly beats out Romney, who just wants to continue the cycles of failure that Bush and others before him began. Anyone who still believes in trickle down economics in this day and age isnt fit to run the country. 
Persona B: "95% of all medical innovation happens in the US for a reason." And yet we're leagues behind every other industrialized nation on Earth so far as a quality of care. In addition to this there should not be a field that revolves around making money off of sick people. Obama's crime in that regard was not socializing all of medicine and then taking the CEO's of the health insurance industries and showing them the wall. "the largest tax increase in US history, the complete suspension of fourth amendment rights (Obama has given himself the power to kill anyone on the 'battlefield' regardless of citizenship in drone strikes. Oh, and by the way, he declared the entire US a battlefield in the 'war on terror'" Half true. He changed the definition of enemy combatant to anyone killed in a drone strike, this is, of course, bad. But then again you cannot complain about what Obama has done within the wars while also ignoring the fact that only choice he had regarding Afghanistan was whether or not to invade and he voted, like he voted with Iraq, against such a proposal. History shows as soon as an imperialist army leaves there is genocide. To leave would to cause Rwanda all over again and while it appears you would be perfectly fine with a bunch of dark skinned people killing one another, I am against such a notion. "lawsuit against a US state for enforcing federal law, a plan to grant amnesty to thousands of illegal aliens, and a whole host of other things that I have neither the time nor inclination to list at the moment" - If you wont or refuse to say them then you don't know them. That's the end of the story. Go into detail or else I'll just have to assume, as if there was no evidence yet, that you're an idiotic jackass.

And civility is straight out the door in an ad hominem blaze of partially informed lunacy. I attempted to return to reasoned discourse, which perhaps was a mistake...

Scribbler: Let's suspend the ad hominem, ok? You have no idea who I am. I am well familiar with the medical system, as well as it's failings. Those failings can, in many cases, be traced back to legislative intervention. Other nations who have tried to institute socialized healthcare have had disastrous results. There shouldn't be a field around making money off of sick people? in that case, you are suggesting slavery. Doctors need to eat too. Also, your comment concerning "taking the CEO's of health insurance industries and showing them the wall" is in extremely poor taste and I find it simply sickening. 
I don't see how you claim to know me as a classist bigot. I don't think I've said anything against anyone except illegal aliens and this administration. I'm all about individual rights, with absolutely no regard to any delineation other than citizenship. 
I don't think we should have gotten involved in either country, nor the four additional countries we've entered into conflicts with under Obama. I tend to think it best for the US to have something of an isolationist foreign policy. As to US imperialism, I don't think that's the right analogy, as for all that we keep getting involved in places we really shouldn't, we aren't seeking to rule. 
I don't get where you get off on implying I'm a racist. I think it better for the US to not get involved in other countries wars, regardless of race of the inhabitants of, especially in the absence of treaty or other agreement. But that doesn't equate with not having a problem with people killing people. 
You speak of capitalism as a system naturally leaning towards collapse. I would counter that economics is a complicated system, far beyond our capability to regulate or run. A laissez-faire approach has it's problems, major ones at that, but it is a system that is functional given a certain initial set of assumptions about what a good outcome is, as well as the nature of what human rights are. So many of the problems with the trickle-down system and modern American capitalism are traceable to governmental intervention and action.
I call the world as I see it, and the world is an imperfect place. But please refrain from attacking me as a person based on my political views. I am not an idiot, nor do I think I am a jackass. You weaken your argument by the logical fallacies and personal attacks. You bring up some good points in places, but you end up coming across as an angry child if you can't divorce your arguments from your emotions. I am happy to discuss these issues, but I will not continue to attempt to reason in the face of such behavior. Prove yourself reasonable and we can reason. Otherwise, you are not worth my time. 
As to the other issues, there are plenty of other people who have summed up the other issues far better than I can, and if you truly want to know about them, I can point you to some good sources. I say I have neither the time nor inclination because quite simply the evidence covers terabytes of data, and facebook comment isn't exactly an ideal venue for such exchanges. 
Oh, I never answered your question as to why Romney is the lesser of two evils. He is a RINO of the first order, weak at best and capricious at worst, and has a record that I find hugely objectionable, but he has good business experience, is possessed of principles, (even though I don't agree with all of them) and has a record that I find less damaging than Obama's. The two parties are largely indistinguishable big governmental types, both of which are far too keen on shoving their particular ideologies down my throat. The particular nature of those ideologies is just icing. A third party isn't so much a third party as it is a legitimate second party.
Persona B: Scribbler, let me please suggest you refrain from acting like every other right winger and thinking that objectivity regarding your political opinion is a thing, that end of the spectrum is not based in any sort of analysis. When you talk about separating emotions from arguments it appears awfully hypocritical as the unrounded beliefs of your own ideology make it quite pleasantly clear that right-wing "theoreticians" have no intention of doing this themselves. Nextly, I don't need to know anything about you aside from your beliefs. On top of that, when you say things like "I am well familiar with the medical system" you are providing no evidence. To paraphrase Christopher Hitchens, what you put forward without evidence can be disproven without evidence. Therefore, I say, you are absolutely wrong. That's not ad homonym, that's me adopting your poor tactic of debate. So far as medical health and capitalism are concerned, as medical health within a capitalist society is based upon profit seeking it is not within the interests of the doctor to cure anybody. Within socialized medicine there is a *goal*. A fantastic example of this is the revolutionary research regarding breast cancer that is all but unavailable to anyone who doesn't go to a private millionaire clinic. Doctors do perfectly well in socialized healthcare systems as well. In England they make well over 100,000 pounds. The same is also true on average for doctors in Switzerland (who have the same health care system we are adopting), Denmark, and Canada "http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/15/how-much-do-doctors-in-other-countries-make/" On top of all of this, I don't give a fuck whether or not you found what I had to say in bad taste. I agree we should not have gotten involved but to suppose that what we are doing is not imperialistic is foolishly sunny-minded. Our new embassy in Iraq is a 21 building compound on an oil field. And your disregard for the lives of Arabs in the current situation, not in the hypothetical situation where we were never at war, is what makes me call you a racist. It's all fine and dandy to say you're ideological position is one in which the place and time we are in now would never have existed, unfortunately that is just an excuse not to have convictions. " I would counter that economics is a complicated system, far beyond our capability to regulate or run. A laissez-faire approach has it's problems, major ones at that, but it is a system that is functional given a certain initial set of assumptions about what a good outcome is, as well as the nature of what human rights are. So many of the problems with the trickle-down system and modern American capitalism are traceable to governmental intervention and action." You clearly have not done your reading. If you take a look at what happened in, let's take for example, Argentina and Chile, after these policies were adopted, laissez-faire, completely deregulated supply side economics, within a year they had between 320 and 329% inflation.
Scribbler: I have done extensive analysis into economics as well as other complex systems. It's sorta what I do. I am an empiricist. The only emotional aspect to any of this is a desire for people to be accountable for their actions, which, yes, is an unfounded belief. If you can't agree with that, then there's no point in discussion. I am a social liberal of pretty much the utmost degree, by which I mean I believe in the utmost level of personal liberty. So long as it doesn't infringe on other people's fundamental rights, I couldn't care less what people choose to do. 
As to my experience with the medical field, both my parents are doctors, and I have worked for a medical office in the billing department, as well as other administrative duties.. I have seen years of insurance pay slips, and I guarantee I am more familiar with the costs of doing business in the medical field than you. Do you find this acceptable? That infographic you sent me is hilariously bad, and not worth addressing. It completely disregards a huge percentage of the factors involved in medicine. I have spoken to doctors in socialist systems. They pretty much universally hate it. 
As to imperialism, I am not saying we don't have an interest in being the places we are, merely that we don't seek to rule. Mutual benefit, as opposed to direct exploitation. How much do you know about radical Islam? The fundamental roots of WHY these people are killing each other? I know rather a lot. I've read the Koran, and I've read a large body of varied works on the subject (from both sides of the political spectrum.) Quite simply, these people are going to keep killing each other until one side gets enough power on their own to quell the other side. I don't see the point in spending the lives of our soldiers in someone else's fight. I don't care what race they are. I don't want my money and my friends and fellow countrymen being spent on them. Call me a nationalist if you want, but don't call me a racist. 
As to Argentina, you bring up an interesting example. 20 years ago, their government had a platform largely identical to our current administration's, coming into a top 20 economy. Argentina is no longer a top 20 economy, due to their governmental actions. Yes, swinging from socialism to capitalism will change the value distributions at first, but the end result is far more stable and secure. Calling the immediate effects of a change to a system being representative of the net change is fallacious and shortsighted. The system is broken, no doubt, but I don't believe it beyond fixing. A third party has the potential to do just that. 
Your comments about these CEO's are intensely disturbing, and show me in no uncertain terms that you are beyond reasoning with. Anyone willing to kill people to further their ideological agenda is not worthy of any consideration. 
Basically, none of this is intended for you. I know you are incapable of hearing, much less understanding or appreciating, my arguments. To anyone else reading this though, I hope you've found the discussion edifying. 
I am unsubscribing from this post. It's not worth any more of my time or effort. I've made my points known. Anyone who wishes for me to clarify or discuss further can post to my wall or private message. 
Persona B: "I am a social liberal of pretty much the utmost degree, by which I mean I believe in the utmost level of personal liberty. So long as it doesn't infringe on other people's fundamental rights, I couldn't care less what people choose to do." This is an absolutely obnoxious belief that is quite prominent amongst liberals and is really one of the flaws of tolerance. Your inability to see it as an ideological category is absolutely appalling. Regarding your parents working as doctors and your job in a billing department, anecdote does not make evidence, which you, as an empiricist should undeniably understand. Just because you have spoken with doctors in "socialist systems" (you clearly have no understanding of what socialism is) does not make it fact. To paraphrase Husserl, experience is not by itself science. On top of that there is no mutual benefit to our being in Iraq, just a side note. My father is a professor of Theology, I too have read the Qur'an multiple times. Just because I have done this does not mean that I am more scientifically estitute regarding Islam. I would think you'd prefer to characterize yourself as a patriot then, because nationalism has always been characterized by social chauvinism and xenophobia. A third party has no potential. The economic epoch in which we live is coming to an end and it's time as revolutionary is over. "Anyone willing to kill people to further their ideological agenda is not worthy of any consideration." - this is in itself an ideological category.
Welp. That went well.

The real shame in it is that he seems like a not unintelligent kid (He's in high school) just hugely mislead. I have no doubts that he is parroting views he has heard elsewhere, considering how much of it parallels the bushwa of northern academia. There were so many points where he flirted with coherence and sensibility. Some of his counterarguments were actually effective, though that is more an effect of me not arguing the full point.

This combination is a very dangerous one, and one I see far too often. (and worry constantly that I'll fall into myself.) A smart kid gets a mentor, teacher, friend, or someone else who teaches them rationalist modes of thinking. They think that they come to full understandings of the issues they see. Someone, perhaps the same mentor, then feeds them the liberal line with an incomplete data set. They are young and impressionable to soak it up, yet independent and arrogant (coming from a system that constantly tells them they are special and unique) enough to be certain in it. They end up being a self-congratulatory pawn for the liberal establishment, and then they go around making more of themselves. It's possible to reason with them, sometimes. I still try at least. It does get frustrating though.

There are few things so dangerous as someone who is convinced they know the truth.

That is where I take solace. I am willing to reevaluate any of my opinions based on contrary evidence. I have done it publicly, and as often as someone has the preponderance of evidence and logic on their side. It frankly doesn't happen very often.

As I mentioned in my last comment above, I wasn't arguing for the sake of him. there came a point where I realized he was beyond convincing. But I know there are other people who will come to read this thread. I hope I maybe at least put my views out coherently. Perhaps someone along the way will read and consider.

Saturday, September 1, 2012


There are times when I have to wonder how equipped I am to defend myself. Considering that by a combination of state, and federal law and University policy, I am unable to even possess a firearm on campus (and by logical extension, anywhere, since I live on campus) much less carry one, I'm at rather a disadvantage out the door to a person determined to do me harm.

As mentioned in a previous post, I carry a knife among my daily pocket clutter. There's another one living in my bag, along with a mini multi-tool. If I found myself in a situation where I had to, I could use it to help protect me. I have major doubts as to whether I could use it to any particularly great effect. While it is hugely better than nothing, it's still a naught but a 3" bit of steel sharp on one side. Similarly, my capability for home defense (considering my home to be my room of my suite, though it could extend to the commons if need be) is limited to a 4" fixed blade knife I keep at my headboard.

It's not something I think on particularly often. Campus is a fairly low violence environment. I don't know the numbers offhand, but it's lower on campus than off. Now that I'm stopping to think though, I am woefully unprepared should anything happen. I like to think I would fight back if it came to it, but the tools at my disposal are so very limited.

There is a certain weird dichotomy I have noticed. People in the blogosphere and elsewhere talk about the combat mentality as being hugely critical in defense, and how the human mind is in the end the only weapon. I have heard it said that if you have the combat mentality, it doesn't matter what else you have. Simultaneously, we argue about how a 70lb grandmother is not going to be able to stand up to a 240lb, 6'3" mugger. This to me seems to be an obvious case of the middle ground being the real one. Combat mentality alone can't guarantee your safety. The new $12000 micro whizbang plasticool wundernine decked to the gills with defensive features won't save you if you aren't willing to use it.

Those of my readers who have met me in the flesh know that I am of a very slight build. I am 6'1" roundabouts and soaking wet I sometimes hit 140lb. I am stronger than I look, but that's really not saying too much. In a conflict involving physical abilities pitted against each other, I am at a fairly serious disadvantage. Now, give my opponent a gun, as would be the case, God forbid, if a shooter turned up on the UTD campus. I wouldn't go out without a fight, but in that case I see it as all to likely that I would, in fact, go out.

I suppose I am a little too conscious right now of my own vulnerability for comfort. It's not a pleasant feeling, especially as I'm not sure what else I could do to add security to my life without breaking rules and laws.

I actually had an experience recently with the campus police. I won't get into details, but they were called out to deal with some illegal activity. They arrived in a fairly timely manner and behaved with remarkable professionalism and composure, but fairly timely isn't acceptable in a life or death circumstance.

I am honestly unlikely to be at particular risk of violence. But that doesn't serve to change my ability to react should I find myself in that position. I suppose it's just one of those uncomfortable truths to this time of my life.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Dear Leader

In most revolutions, a person or group of personalities (almost like a cult, hmm) will emerge as figureheads and leaders. Their ideas and actions inspire the rest of the people to action.

Typically in successful revolutions, these people end up in power in the new government.

My question then is this. Is your glorious leader acting out of principle and service, or do they just want to be the ones holding the stick?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Gay Rights

Ooookay. I'm feeling controversial, so it's can-o-worms time.

I'm not particularly well versed in all the legal ins and outs of this issue, so if I misspoke at any point here, my apologies, and please, PLEASE correct me. I don't want to labor under false assumptions.

People have a tendency to talk about the right to marry. Yet, when asked to define marriage, they generally have no idea. Occasionally, I'll get an answer concerning hospital visitation, power of attorney, and inheritance type stuff, but more often I get answers concerning love, choosing who you're going to be with, and symbolism.

To that, I just have to ask why you would need the government to validate the relationship? If you know what the other person means to you, and vice versa, why does it matter if the government says yea or nay? Whatever you as individuals choose to do behind closed doors is no business of me or the government.

There are also answers concerning social acceptability of the relationship, in that 'marriage' legitimizes the relationship. My response to that is twofold. First off, who cares if it's socially approved? It's your life and your love. No one else's business. Second, you can't legislate social change. It happens on it's own, or not at all. The mind will always do its own thing.

Now, there are some technical aspects of the institution of marriage in this country that are somewhat different, mostly dealing with money, power of attorney, and custody. As far as I know though, there are ways of getting all those benefits through channels other than marriage. Contracts can be written up for property issues, power of attorney can be given outside of marriage, and custody is a messy issue all on its own. (Also an issue that is of somewhat less impact in a same-sex marriage, due to that whole biology thing.) There are certain non-legal conventions concerning marriage in this country, such as health insurance providence from employers, but most of those seem to be reflective of social issues rather than things the legislature should be involved in.

The astute reader will have noticed that apart from custody issues, none of this is specific to same-sex marriage. All of these arguments apply equally well to traditional marriage. My response to that is twofold.

First off, marriage as an institution has really hazy definitions, but classically, the one common element to the different definitions is that it is an institution between a man and a woman. Whether this is a good institution or not is not in question. Changing that fundamental definition would, well, fundamentally change the institution. Marriage is awesome and all, but the way to get that awesomeness into a same-sex relationship is not by changing the nature of marriage.

Secondly, I ask why government is involved in marriage at all? Why do people need the fed to tell them that they are married? If you want to get the legal benefits (such as they are) write a contract. If you want the spiritual side of it, get married in a church. If you want social acceptance, good luck, but don't look to the government. Marriage just doesn't make sense to me as a legal institution. In the pure rights based government we're supposed to have, there shouldn't be room for people to be treated differently under the law for any reason, including marriage status.

Yes, there are real issues to be dealt with on this, but they are reflective once again (in my mind) of the larger governmental problems that we're dealing with. It's just another place the government has spent too much time with it's nose in.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Hey, Nature!

This is a long one, and went in a direction I was not expecting.

One of my long time favorite authors is Michael Crichton. For all that his books are at heart pulpy thrillers, the creative setups and grounding in real cutting edge science, usually mixed with a high concentration of plausibility and scientific trivia, appeal to me on many levels.

One of the things I've always liked about Crichton's work is his take on nature. He is far more respectful towards nature than most hippy environmentalists, when you really get down to it. To me, it seems that comes from treating nature on it's own merits, as best he could. He seemed driven by a strong curiosity, coupled with desire to understand things, and then educate the world about the things he came to understand. I was quite saddened to hear he had died a few years ago, because beyond writing books I enjoyed, I felt like reading them helped to open my eyes to the wider scientific world.

Looking out the window, it's easy to see a static environment. The same trees, most of the same plants, the same buildings, the same lawns, all looking much the same as they always do this time of year, and from day to day.  From our perspective and experience, it is. But on scales both larger and smaller than the one we fit in, the world is completely foreign, confusing, and fascinating.

Have you ever looked at dirt under a microscope? Pond water? Have you ever really looked at a leaf? Watched a beetle move? Looked at charts of air currents? The world that we call nature is immensely complicated, and far more involved that we generally think about.

Complicated systems are, well, complicated. The sheer number of factors involved in the natural world is staggering well past the point of incomprehensibility. While it can nicely be broken down by broad generalizations of stimulus/response and exploitation of energy gradients, applying those generalizations is rather like using a microscope and trying see the entire Sistine Chapel roof.

The other thing that entertains me is the extension of Heisenberg's uncertainty to all scientific study, in that it is impossible to study anything without influencing it. Whether you're sitting in a blind watching deer behaviors or using an electron microscope to study the physiology of a soil mite, it requires interacting with the system under study, adding a whole new set of factors.

This I think is one of the pitfalls of human vanity. It is all too easy to see humanity as separate or different from the natural world, and all the other complicated systems we interact with. Even with entirely human systems, like economics, this arrogance leads some to think that by changing one factor, everything will function identically. See the bailouts.

The fundamental failing of environmental regulation is that it is impossible to properly regulate a complicated system. All attempts at regulation of complex systems change factors far beyond the original scope and intent of the regulation. Add into that the irregular nature of the systems to begin with, and it becomes almost farcical.

This is not to say that all forms of management are impossible, merely that management of the natural world pretty much has to be a reactive sort. If we find that we're having a net negative (more on this in a moment) effect on our environment, it's possible to react and change some part of our interaction. However, given again the complex nature of the system, it has to be a constant process of reaction and study.

Now, here's the big thing. How do you define a negative effect? The standard line of the environmentalist movement would have that be stasis. To me, that is stupid on quite a few levels. First off, the earth is not, nor has it ever been, static. The only constant thing about life on this planet is that it changes. Even the most foundational notions we have about what life is fail in the face of nature. Phosphorus in DNA can be replaced by arsenic in certain life forms, and prions have no genetic structure whatsoever (leading to debate about whether they are in fact life, but just go with me here.) The geological epochs have had such widely varied forms of life as to be completely unrecognizable by modern standards. To say that the way life is now is the best, and any deviation or change is a thing of evil is ignorant almost to the point of farce.

Other factors include yet again the problem of preserving something you don't understand (how can we tell if a species of Andorran singing beetle goes extinct if we never knew it existed in the first place?) incompetence in execution of the plans (Dallas is spraying for west nile mosquitos right now, and have had major problems actually getting it done due to weather problems) and a few others of minor importance.

The biggest reason is that if we're going for minimal human impact or stasis or however you want to define that mindset, it's rather rough on humanity. Back a few thousand years, humanity's influence on the system they were in was lower. It was NOT nonexistent, by definition, but the modern humanity has a greater effect, even if for no other reason than there being more of us now. (And no, that isn't the only reason.) The thing is, the human standard of living has increased hundredsfold since that time. The state of life in nature of Hobbes and Locke, being nasty, brutish, and short, isn't my idea of a good way to live.

This is why I say that the only reasonable standard for environmental programs is what is best for the present and future good of humans. It's honestly the standard that every other creature in history has been using (theoretically) and it encompasses a lot of the good varieties of environmentalism. The green sorts decry this sort of mindset as destructive, and claim it will be toxic for generations down the line. The thing is, clear cutting forests, hunting species to extinction, and toxifying our environment may be convenient in the present, but it's a little less so for generations down the line. The constitution opens with ordaining for ourselves and our posterity. Likewise, keeping in mind the effects of current action on our posterity will keep things livable. What is livable for a human is in fact pretty nicely livable for lots of creatures. See again that we are an inextricable part of the system with largely similar needs.

There's lots more I could get into with this, particularly in regards to global warming, but I think this is enough for one post. If people like this sort of thing, I'll write more. If people don't like it, I might just write more anyways.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Texas Once More

I once again find myself in Texas. Having unpacked my life from a series of boxes, I am now well ensconced in my new apartment. It's refreshing to be back.

One thing that struck me the past few days has been the number of "Help Wanted" type signs. While most of the ones I have seen have been for low pay, unskilled labor, I know a great many people up north are looking for any work, including of that sort. Whether this is just an anecdotal anomaly or reflective of Texas actually being in notably better shape, I am unsure, but I find it interesting nonetheless.

In other news, I am now possessed of a kitchen, and am in search of easy, tasty recipes. Any suggestions?

I'll try to have a real post up in the next couple days.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Is Knife

This topic has been covered to the point of being done to death, but oh well. I feel like ranting.

I carry a knife every day. My current piece is a Kershaw Crown, and I'm quite fond of it. It lives clipped to my pocket. The only times I am without a knife on my person are when I go into some area, such as an airport or amusement park, that specifically bans them. Interestingly enough, I haven't killed anyone yet. No one has ever been hurt by my blade, apart from a couple careless knicks to my own thumbs.

Why then do so many people give me the hairy eyeball when I pull my knife for something? Why do so many people comment about how there's no reason to carry a knife, as I use my knife to open a package or cut a tag for them?

A knife is one of, if not solely, the most useful tools mankind has ever created. At it's heart, a knife makes one thing and makes it into two. It creates space. Knives and their derivatives have at some point been involved in the construction of probably 99%+ of everything that people create. Cutting things is useful. Rare is the week where I don't use my knife for something. I probably use it for something more days than not. It is a phenomenal tool, with probably more varied uses than anything else I ever carry.

One of those potential uses of course is violence towards fellow man. While I acknowledge that my tool could be used as a weapon,* I do not carry it as one.** I have heard that a gentleman is never without a blade on his person. This has been true, in some form or another, for pretty much as long as there have been blades. Even the peace loving Sikh carry knives as part of their religious beliefs.

A knife is not a weapon. I am not carrying a knife because I am expecting to need to use it on a human being. Fear of a tool is just goofy. I'm getting tired of people freaking out about this.

This sorta got me thinking about a couple other things I want to touch on briefly. I do not carry a gun. This is not by any choice of my own. A combination of my age and my student status make carrying a gun illegal for me. But I would carry one if I could.

Here's the thing about carrying a gun. In that case, the gun is being treated as a weapon. Exceptionally few are the cases where a carry gun is used in another capacity in daily carry. However, that doesn't equate with expecting trouble, or expecting to use it on another human. It just means being prepared for that eventuality. A weapon is a legitimate purpose for a gun or knife. When talking to an anti in reasoned discourse** this point is a sticky one, because it's the foundational disparity between gunnies and antis. But guess what. If it comes to my life, or the lives of those I care about, or the life of the goblin threatening, I'd much rather it be the goblin, and I'd rather have the best tool for the purpose.

Only tangentially related, I've been thinking some about what I want to do with this blog. I am by nature a private person, so particularly personal content is unlikely. I don't want to become just another box spewing out the same tired stuff either. I like to think I sometimes have interesting things to say about stuff, but I don't like to put my scribbles up against the writing of the people who really know what they are talking about. Between these factors, it means that content can be a bit sparse. I write about things I find interesting that I think I can either add to the debate in or entertain with.

That was probably an overly long intro to this, but what would you, the readers, like to see here? Anything you'd particularly not want to see?

*I have lately come to the conclusion that a weapon is not an object. It is a use. No object can be by it's nature a weapon. Objects can only be used as one.

*No, really. It's possible! Ish!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Movie Review

I tend not to write movie reviews.  There are very few movies that I feel I can contribute any meaningful opinion to, and I don't watch very many movies in any case.

However, I'm short on blogfodder at the moment, and The Grey brought up enough stuff to think about that I think I can talk about it.

Note. Here be spoilers.

As movie premises go, it's one of the basic setups, albeit the one probably least done in hollywood. Man (well, men) vs. Nature, with an undercurrent of Man vs. Self.  A plane carrying a bunch of petroleum company employees, including a wolf killer played by Liam Neeson, goes down in the middle of nowhere, cold edition. They must fight to survive against the elements, and the wolves.

I don't mind saying this. Folks, wolves scare me. A lot. They are highly intelligent, better suited by far to their environment than we are, and there are usually a bunch of them. Add in territorial behavior, hunger, and a set of powerful natural weapons, they are the sort of creature that really should scare people.  Many of the oldest nightmares I can remember focus around wolves and their supernatural counterpart, werewolves, and I'm wary even of their domesticated brethren in dogs.

That being said, I had a problem with the wolves being the Big Bad Problem in this movie. Yes, wolves are dangerous, but the assorted other things throughout, like exposure, hunger, and exhaustion would probably have been more dangerous than a single wolf pack. I felt both like too much emphasis was placed on the wolves as problems, and that they became more horror-movie monster than realistic wolves.

I don't claim to be a wildlife expert, and if I am wrong, someone please correct me, but it seems to me that a wild wolf with little to no experience with humans will be wary, especially with fire involved. Having them turn up the first night and immediately start hunting the humans (at one point pouncing directly onto a large fire) seems to be stretching things. The cinematics also treated them more as monsters, making heavy use of the jump scare and the extreme close up of bared teeth and matted fur.

For all that the wolves didn't act quite like wolves, the people at times were just criminally stupid. Neeson put in a very good performance as John Ottway, but the character just doesn't act in an intelligent manner at times. Despite improving weapons at various points in the movie, those weapons are notably absent in the subsequent scenes. He also discards his rifle, despite it's only visible fault being a broken stock. At one point he, supposedly something of a wolf-expert by experience, simply tries to run. First off, he should know he can't outrun a wolf. Second, he should know that wolves instinctively chase fleeing prey. Third, the best success they had at avoiding the wolves was by standing their ground, making noise, and trying to look big (coincidentally being standard advice should one come across a predator in the wild.)

I suppose it makes sense to end the review with the ending. Everyone else having already died, by assorted causes, though mostly act of wolf, Neeson gives up, and spends a few minutes going through the wallets they had collected from the dead, while sitting in the middle of the wolf den. For some unknown reason, the wolves hang back and let him have his introspective moment and get some last minute weaponry handy before attacking.  Awfully respectful of them, I must say. Then of course Ottway dies. (Well, implied. It cuts to black as the wolf attacks)

I think movies where man doesn't always win are artistically powerful and incredibly dissatisfying. It makes a wonderful point about how nature is not this beneficent mother Gaea, and how weak humans are in it's face, but it is profoundly frustrating to sit through two hours of gut-wrenching tension only to have the humans lose. Even the internal struggles Ottway is going through concerning his wife's death, and his relationship with his dead father don't seem to come to any resolution, with the same words he used before almost committing suicide at the beginning of the movie being his last words before being nommed by wolves. A couple of other characters go through some modicum of personal growth before they snuff it, but Ottway doesn't seem to, and he dies in a weird mix of despair and defiance. I walked away from the tv feeling like the only point of the last two hours had been to pump up adrenaline and make the point that nature kills.

The movie does an excellent job of building tension, but absolutely nothing to relieve it. I would not recommend this movie.

EDIT: One parting thought. Don't get stuck in the northern emptiness. It won't end well for you.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Heeeere fishy fishy fishy

As fishermen go, I am distinctly in the amateur class. Despite now having an even dozen fishing rods, much of the minutia and technique is lost on me. I haven't ever really had a teacher or mentor for such things, and while I can cast and work lines and lures adequately, I am still in the range of flailing around like an idiot compared to people who actually know what they're doing.

Up until very recently, I was pretty much solely interested in bass fishing, with a bit of panfish thrown in for good measure. I, like many, had thought fly fishing too difficult and expensive, trolling for pike and walleye seemed dull and not a good test of skill, and being an Illinoisian, ocean fishing is a bit difficult.

I recently took out a subscription to Field & Stream magazine though, and while it informed me just how much I'd have to learn, it did make me rather more interested in fly fishing. While yes, high end fly equipment is mind-bendingly, jaw-droppingly expensive, low end, functional, entry level gear is quite affordable, and the sport is simply fascinating. It is quite different than bass fishing, seeming to be more about understanding the fish than being obnoxious and annoying enough to prompt a bite.

As the astute reader will have guessed, I bought myself a basic fly kit. After a few false starts based on bewilderingly incomprehensible instructions that came with the kit, my uncle (for lack of trying to remember exactly how he's related to me. Lots of family up that way...) took me out and showed me the proper form. I have a lot of bass-fishing habits to overcome it seems. After a few hours of flinging a piece of yarn around, my great uncle took me to his trout club for some hands on experience, where I promptly did essentially zero casting.  I was using a wet fly, which are typically fished downstream under the surface. Considering the very narrow nature of the stream, my technique was simple. Drop the fly in the water, play out line, and twitch merrily along the way.

Apparently, it worked. I came home with 5 beautiful rainbow trout. They were tasty.

This is probably a sign that I have yet another expensive hobby.


I am an addict.

Another thing about this whole experience that I found interesting was that this was the first time I have ever killed my dinner. In Florida, the captain killed and cleaned the catch, and in all previous meat-eating experiences, someone else did the dirty work.  Fishing with my great uncle, he showed me how to dispatch one fish, and I did the others. He cleaned one of them, and I did the rest. It was a weird feeling. On the one hand, I am quite fond of fish in their alive state. I have more fish tanks than perhaps is reasonable, and am getting more (see expensive hobbies.) Up to this point, I have been a strict catch-and-release fisherman.

There is an undeniable honesty to catching and killing it yourself. It is easy to walk into a grocery store and pick up a piece of shrink-wrapped flesh. It's clean, sterile, and easy.  Catching your own dinner is not. Cleaning a fish is messy. Catching them in the first place is a challenge. Fishing for dinner forces you to face the reality that in order for a human to eat, something else must die. After this, I think I'm both more aware of and more comfortable with this fact. And besides. Fresh caught trout is delicious.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Bad Juju

I think we may have finally broken a curse.

One of my high school roommates and I have been trying to go shooting together for a couple years now. The first time 'round, my dad simply couldn't get the time to take us to the range. Simple enough problem. Second time, we couldn't get a signed permission slip from his parents in time to make the trip. Dad is highly safety conscious, and requires any under-age shooter to bring along written permission. Simplifies things legally as well, come to that. Still not a major problem, but more difficult than just finding time.

The next two tries were remarkable in that I have literally never seen any range as crowded as our range was. Not only was every one of the 18 stations filled (a 75 ft range too. Not exactly prime shooting real estate for most places, though golden from Chicago standards) but there was at least an hour and a half wait. Being on a somewhat limited time frame on both occasions, we had to bag it without firing a single shot.

There may have been another attempt or two in there, but I don't recall, as my memory can be a touch squirrelly. By this time though, both of us were getting frustrated both at our apparent inability to go shooting, and the progressively more irritating obstacles.

As I mentioned in passing in my last post, I just spent a couple weeks in northern Michigan for some rest and relaxation. (Theoretically, that is) This friend of mine is currently studying at Michigan State, and while East Lansing is a bit out of the way, a very nice, free range was conveniently close to his apartment, so we decided to make a detour for some shooting.

The glitches started with transportation.  Dad has a very small car, as most of the time his commute is all of 4 minutes. A Mitsubishi Spyder is a really fun car to drive around, but not the most practical for road trips. It also can't fit rifles in the trunk.  Add two tall guys and luggage for two weeks to the normal range paraphernalia, and you have a fairly crowded situation. Not the sort of thing that is amenable to adding another person to the mix, certainly.

He luckily was able to secure transportation with a friend who had a car. Unluckily, the only time his friend was able to get him there was at about two, a full hour before earliest possible arrival. Being determined to not let anything get in the way of this attempt, he decided to just stick it out and wait in the parking lot.

The curse apparently disapproved of our working around this obstacle, so of course we didn't manage to leave the house until quite a while after anticipated. Range time was starting to get a little limited, as the range closed at 5, but it was still in doable range of getting there and having about an hour to shoot.

The juju couldn't give up quite that easily though. It's parting shot was, at long last, an attempt on our lives.  As mentioned above, dad has a small car. When a small convertible has a large SUV attempt to make a u-turn through it at 80 mph, the convertible loses.

In a piece of the most idiotic bit of driving I have ever heard of, much less seen, an SUV in the right lane wanted to make a u-turn through one of the 'Authorized Vehicles Only' strips that cross the median.  He slammed on his brakes, forcing the crossover behind him to slam on his brakes and swerve into the left lane, where, inconveniently, we were sitting. At this point, the suv was in the right lane, the crossover in the left, and we were on the shoulder, still at 80 mph. And the suv kept coming.

While the gap in the median is fairly large perpendicularly, the available space is significantly lower when coming in at an angle. In fact, said space was about 6 inches smaller than the width of the car.  I give huge credit to dad for keeping us alive and (relatively) unscathed through that. The left side of the car swiped a pole, shattering the driver's side mirror and spraying glass over us.  We ended up sitting in the median in a shimmering field of broken mirror, with assorted small cuts from flying glass. Most concerningly, a large fragment of glass bounced off my glasses. Had I not been wearing them, I would likely be blind in my left eye today.

As you can perhaps imagine, this shot our travel time to someplace warm that rhymes with bell.

We finally pulled into the range lot at 4:37. There was one last shooting period to the day, so we got my friend situated at the hundred yard line with his preferred introduction to centerfire shooting. A Mosin Nagant. (He asked, don't give me that look) Hot range was called, and in an absolutely classic fashion, he sighted, fired a shot, grinned like a maniac and said, "OW."

Made it through five shots before calling it quits too.

It seems that all that was needed to break the juju was him finally getting to shoot something. On the return trip, we made the same detour without incident, and introduced him to the wonderful world of handguns. Of course, he brought a new type of juju, and managed to jam, well, everything.

I'll still take that over flying shards of glass any day of the week.

In other news, I am back, and I will be posting more. There are lots of things to think about, talk about, and write about, but a northern Michigan vacation is not the time for it. Thanks for reading.