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

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Hat Tip to Lawdog

Though I have never mentioned this to the man himself, Lawdog was one of my prime inspirations to enter the blog-world.  His was the first blog I got to reading, and is still among my absolute favorites.  I am nowhere near the writer he is, but that's not saying much.

I have been re-reading his entire archive from day one, and I'm starting to see the influence crop up in my writing style, as evidenced by this recent exchange with a friend.

I am currently enjoying one of the simplest and finest summer beverages in existence.  Take lots of blueberries, throw in blender. render unto liquid. Take more blueberries (you know you didn't put enough in that first time) chuck them in with the first lot, and render unto liquid. Add a couple scoops vanilla ice cream, and a small quantity liquid cream. Blend the cheez-whiz out of it, decant, and enjoy.  Deliciousness.
I could make some point about the suggestibility of the human mind, the difference between homage and ripoff, or any of a number of different things, but mostly I just find this entertaining.

The smoothie really is good by the by. You should try it.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Memorial Day

From the very beginning of this nation, brave men and women have laid down their lives in service and protection of the principles and people of the United States of America.  From the fields at Lexington to the furthest southeast Asian rice paddy, Americans have died because they believed in something bigger than themselves.

Today is for them.

Two years ago today, I stood in the parade color guard in the most biblically horrific rain storm I have ever been in.  The rain left every one of us soaked through in seconds, the lightning and thunder were in absolute sync, and the cold left the boys shivering and soaked.  We marched the entire parade anyways.

Memorial Day isn't about us.  It is a day to remember and, more importantly, honor, the people who gave everything in service.  Take the time away from your picnics and parades and remember that Memorial Day is more than a three day weekend in May.  Remember that this country and the freedoms you enjoy are bought in blood of soliders.

Take a moment of silence. Teach your children why we have this day.  Lay a bouquet at a military grave.

Most importantly, remember why these men and women died. They died because they believed that this country was worth fighting for. Prove them right. Let their sacrifice not go in vain. 

Keep this country true to its values, and keep it a country worth fighting for, for ourselves, our past, and our posterity.

Sunday, May 20, 2012


First day actually out wandering the town, and I remembered why I like Texas so much.

There was an Art in the Park day, complete with live music.

Said live music was provided by a musical group called "Patchouli."

I can't make this up.


Saturday, May 19, 2012


Random thoughts are rattling around my head, so you all get treated to the resulting mess.

First off, I am now back in Chicago until mid-August. While I am happy to be home, the curtailment of liberty already has me annoyed, most notably in the fact that both of my EDC knives now qualify me as 'armed with a deadly weapon' which, while not technically illegal, is enough to cause more trouble than I'd care to get into.

There's been one minor change to my personal armory.  Previously I was the owner of a Savage BTVS, which is their bull-barrel stainless .22.  I got into shooting through target shooting through iron sights. While the BTVS was capable of accepting iron sights, it would involve not insignificant work, and it became more cost effective to buy a new rifle that comes with target irons and let dad have the scoped Savage (he puts far more stock in glass than I do.)  As such, I now have a Savage MKIIFVT which is in fact not a random string of roman numerals but essentially the same rifle as the BTVS in blued steel with peep rear and aperture front sights and an unfortunate synthetic stock.

I must confess to a small amount of Shadetree Gunsmithing, as the proper laminate thumbhole stock was not designed to accomodate the rear-sight side-mount.  One meeting with a screwdriver and dremel later, and the new rifle was complete.

Took it out today to wring it out and do basic sighting and function check, while dad brought along his new HBAR15.  That rifle is more accurate than me by a long shot (no pun intended,) at least for now.  Next week we're taking a trip up to a range in Wisconsin to do some proper shooting.

On the topic of dad's AR, both he and I rather like the thing.  It's the first EBR to make an appearance in the armory (because the Henry Survival AR7 doesn't count.)  The 20" bull barrel makes for interesting balance and changes the recoil some, but is entirely manageable.  We've had some issues with the glass, but hopefully that can be fixed in due course.

Trayvon Martin isn't a case anymore.  Unless there's some bizarre unforseen smoking gun, there is so much evidence in favor of Zimmerman's story as to make the case fairly cut-and-dried.  Zimmerman wasn't smart in his actions, but he was legally justified.

Ambulance Driver has spawned something of a 'holier than though' kerfuffle over his forcible transport of a man who threatened suicide.  My take on this is pretty simple.  In my mind, the right to life includes the right to throw it away.  If you are inclined to off yourself, you have every right to do so. But as soon as you involve other people, you give that up. Threatening murder (including your own) is a crime, and you are going to have to deal with that.

The particularly irate response of some of the more extreme people in the community got me thinking about why libertarians so frequently get bogged down in these self-aggrandizing "purer libertarian than you" discussions.  Libertarian ideals focus on the individual, which lends itself to a certain degree of egotism.  The same principles of competition that run the worlds markets also mean that libertarians will compete, even at the expense of the cohesiveness of the movement.  The funny thing is that while it makes us less effective, I'm not sure how much of a problem I have with it.

Building a containment system for 12g threadless CO2 cartridges out of materials available at Home Depot is interesting, difficult, and entertaining. Engineering projects are good fun.

Differential Equations are not good fun.  The only reason I did well in that class is that for the final I just gave up on trying to understand the formulae and just tried to be able to apply them.  This is something of a mental block with me.  I generally have a hard time with this.  I am usually pretty good at figuring these things out, but differential equations didn't work for me.

I am going to have a kitchen next year.  This is going to be fun.  I promise this won't turn into a cooking blog though.

Jo Nesbø has a remarkable ability to write soul-crushing books.  Both The Snowman and The Leopard were excellent, and well worth a read if you're into mysteries, but neither of them are what I would call happy books.

I think that's everything rattling around that is fit for general consumption.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Buying used

Rumors abound that the new XBOX to be released soon will have some variety of enforcement against used games.  Some sort of software theoretically will be able to tell when a game is bought used, and prevent that game from being used on any other console.

This is nothing new.  The game industry heavily frowns on the used game market.  One off activation keys and constant internet connectivity have been involved for some time.  The idea is that the publisher doesn't get anything from any subsequent sale of the game, and therefore it is immoral for a consumer to buy used.

This idea doesn't make sense to me.  It seems to me that there is a necessary treatment of video games as inherently different than any other item that can be bought.  Used bookstores are commonplace, and few people would call them immoral.  The publisher doesn't gain anything by that sale, but at point of sale, they no longer have anything to say about what is done with it, so long as the intellectual property rights are respected.  Libraries by this line of reasoning are equally reprehensible.

Ebooks seem to be following the same trend, as does software in general.  They are trying to make it such that each individual has no choice but to purchase the item at full price.  I don't get what makes electronic media different than other media.  A CD is transferrable, an MP3 album isn't.  I've heard it said that you are paying for the right to use it, and the other people haven't, but isn't that what a purchase is? Why should a computerized tool, like Microsoft Office, be treated any differently than a meatspace tool, like a drill?

All I can think of to explain the difference is that it's far easier for the publishers to control what happens with their product after point of sale, and that the publishers have the same sort of problem with the real-world versions, but can't make the same restrictions stick.

There is argument to buying used in anything being if not immoral at least not particularly fair.  Developers, publishers, manufacturers, and designers are dependent on direct sales of their product.  If half their market purchases secondhand, that cuts their revenue in half.  I don't think that this necessarily constitutes a breach of their rights.  I would say that as a consumer, should you want to continue seeing the same products developed, it would behoove you to buy direct, as that is subsidizing further development.  I don't see this as a moral imperative.

I suppose my biggest problem with this is the double standard.  Some items are seen as perfectly acceptable to buy used, while others have a moral stigma.  The electronic media groups seem less to be making a point about putting your money where your mouth is and more whining that their revenue streams are not as robust as they could be.

So, in summary: Games companies, (and other electronic media) stop whining about your product being treated as a commodity beyond your immediate control.  Gamers (and consumers in general) stop expecting to get new releases and updates/upgrades if you don't contribute to the companies that make them.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Final Blogshoot thoughts

There are just a couple more points that I think it proper to make concerning the Texas blogshoot.  Firstly, there are some additions to the blogroll that you all should take a look at.  The ones marked with asterisks are people I have met.

It's been said by other attendees, but the level of trust on display all day was astonishing.  I woke up that morning and got into a car with an armed person I had never met before, to go to a secluded location to meet with other strangers, who also had lots of guns.  There are people who reading that would practically have a heart attack.  Clearly though, I am alive and well (I'd say better even. Gotta love recoil therapy) for having been there.

Gunnies tend to be trustworthy, decent people.  Throughout the course of the day, expensive firearms, cameras and other items were left entirely unattended.  At the end of the day, the only thing missing was Borepatch's stapler, through no act of malice on anyone's part I am sure.  I was thoroughly impressed and pleased to note that not only was there a huge measure of trust on display, but that trust seemed to be entirely warranted.  People were safe, responsible, followed the four rules, and were respectful.

I don't know what fosters this sort of mindset.  I do know that I like it and appreciate it.  For whatever reason, a community of good, trustworthy people has coalesced through the internet around a shared love of guns and all things related to, becoming something far more than just a gun group.

This was, in a sense, my real induction into this community.  I've been on the GBC IRC channel for over a year now, and I've been blogging and commenting longer than that even, but this felt like I was really part of something.  I'll be going to any gathering I can now, and hopefully next time I'll have a few of my own toys to share.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Elections 2012

...In which I disagree vehemently with Borepatch.  He wrote here his reasoning for endorsing Barack Obama. Go read there.

While I understand his reasoning entirely, and think that a win for Obama would have precisely the effect he foresees, I cannot support that line of reasoning, for two reasons.

Frequently I hear people speaking of talking with votes.  Votes to a fringe candidate will have meaning to the party leadership as to the minds of their constituency.  The added level for me is that by voting, you are casting your lot in with your candidate.  You are making a statement that you approve of their plans, and you are shouldering some of the responsibility for placing that individual in office.  I personally absolutely refuse to allow my name to be used in support of Obama, and I will bear no responsibility for his actions over the next four years, should he emerge victorious.

For much the same reason, I will not vote for Romney.  There are people who have tried to tell me that giving my vote to anyone other than the two main parties is throwing it away, and as such I will be complicit in bringing to office either of the parties.  That reasoning doesn't fly with me.  As I see it, I am going to do everything in my power as an individual to prevent either of two men who I cannot in good conscience support.  That power is pretty much limited to voting, campaigning, and contributing.  Contributing is dicey, as I still haven't figured out which third party candidates I can support, but the other two options include negative action. I will not give my vote to a person I cannot support, and I will encourage other people to do the same.

The other problem I have is somewhat vague, and less logically based, but the one I think is more important.  What Borepatch is suggesting is manufacturing a crisis to convert more people to our cause.  To me, this reeks of manipulative skulduggery.  I don't want to be the soccer player that throws himself on the ground and calls foul on an opponent.

Obama really is the threat that we see him as.  It is no lie for me to say that I see him and the ideology he represents as perhaps the single greatest threat to the future of this country over the past century if not its entire history.  Giving him the opportunity to destroy more of this country so that other people will come to the same conclusion seems petty, passive agressive, subversive, and immoral, and as such, I cannot support voting for Obama.

Neither party is good for this country. I have no tolerance myself for voting for the lesser of two evils. I would rather send a vote to a candidate I can support in good conscience than a candidate who has the backing of establishment (and by extension, a reasonable hope of victory.)  The two party system needs to be broken, and that won't happen by voting for one of the parties because we dislike it less.

Just to be clear, none of this is meant as a criticism of Borepatch personally.  When I met him, he seemed like a genuinely nice guy, and he's clearly very intelligent.  My criticism is only directed at the plan of action he outlines, which I don't think is motivated by anything bad.