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Real-Life Super Powers

Audie came by late last night to work on sets for an hour or so. She’s trying to get up to speed for the exam next month, and it’s a good refresher for me, since I have to know all eighty-some sets from yellow on down cold. Eighty? Hold on…. (homina homina), no, 102. Jeebus. And if I somehow manage to pass, next year I get to pick up forty more for silver…

Anyway, it went very well, surprisingly well, even, until her ribs locked up, as they tend to, so we called it an evening, and she crashed over so that she could get in some Bannon time. (We’re “training” her kitten for her until she moves into her apartment this weekend. Yes, that includes the liberal application of a tiny, bright orange squirt gun, known as The Punisher.)

Well, this morning I was a slug. Could have gotten up early, decided “screw that,” and had something like six different dreams, including a dance contest, and before that something else that was either postapocalyptic, or else involved Cthulhu. Not sure. Postapocalyptic dance contest? Sounds Bollywood to me…

So she’s sitting upright in bed with a confused look when I come out in the hallway, and I say “good morning,” but don’t get a response. So I think “she’s sleepwalking again,” and go to wake her up. And Autumn gets this confused look on her face, and says “where’s my hair?”

Oh, shit, where IS her hair? It’s something like eight inches shorter than last night…

I call Anna in while telling her “I’ll go check…” But Anna’s already on it.

Turns out that she’s not merely a death-defyingly cute sleepwalker… she’s a sleepbarber. Did a pretty good job, too, with only one section a little longer than the other, in one of those complicated multilayered “make it shorter but make it look a lot fuller” sort of cuts.

I think this qualifies as a Real-Life Superpower. If I tried to cut my hair while I was asleep, I’d either wind up looking like the deranged scientist from Alien Resurrection in his final scene, or else Boris Karloff…

My twin has a Real-Life SuperPower, too, called “all dogs love me.” What’s yours?

Progress

Word to the whiny, petulant, cynical freaks who think that Progress is some illusory b.s. proposed by the EEEvil Corporate Masters:

Shut the fuck up and get a job.

I'm 34 today. My family is notably long-lived, but if I were living when my grandfather were the age I am now, I'd be truly ready for my mid-life crisis, because life expectancy for men hadn't managed to break the seventy mark, and anything past that was considered an outright Gift from God and the official mark of a Lucky Bastard.

Now there are folks out there who are concerned that Roberts, up for nomination to the Supreme Court, might, at fifty-something, be too young for the job.

What about if I were in my father's generation or just after? You think we have environmental problems now? How about an entire generation growing up not only breathing smog, but smog that was heavily-laced with lead fumes!! (Does that explain why Baby Boomers actually watched the Partridge Family?) That's right, Virginia, just in case you're too young to remember it, gasoline used to laced with lead, and only when I was a kid did you get to choose, based on your car, between leaded and unleaded…

So let's lay off the whiny, useful-idiot soviet agitprop, and spend some time actually employed, instead of cursing those who create, and those who do, simply because you're too lazy to get off your ass and pull down a paycheck.

Because if you keep mewling like that, I just might have to break your nose sometime in 2083.

State of the Russ Report

1. Am badly overdue to visit the Bairds, and am consistently failing to find a window.
2. Juggling projects again. “Unmitigated Geekery” being one example. Sewing trousers at lunch breaks. Am still of the opinion that men’s clothing is designed in a slipshod fashion that fits like crap, looks like complete ass, and actually teaches men to be physically stiff and inflexible.
3. We’re creating quite the little Geek Street on Burning Tree Lane. I love my neighborhood, with its nearby park, schools all the way from day-care to junior high, and the tons of little mom-n-pop restaurants. No little lefty bookstores, but Half-Price books is pretty squishy that way. On the other hand, all of the neighborhood’s benefits are the subtle, under-the-radar stuff, so we don’t have any yuppie scum, either: they’re all living in the overpriced chipboard-walled houses crapped out by space aliens in neighborhoods where it takes fifteen minutes to get to the grocery store. If we can keep our locals local, and get a couple of our buddies to relocate our way, we should have quite the colony.
4. It’s my birthday, so I’m 34 now. It’s odd to be just cruising along and suddenly be the center of attention. Embarrassing.
5. Go embarrass Jim over at Lemurland. It’s his birthday.
6. Fall is here! Tonight we’ll have lows in the 60s, and our highs for the rest of the week will be in the high 80s only. You know what this means? Well, besides trying to avoid heatstroke working out? It means yours truly can go to town with an axe and pick, and lay out the watering system for next year’s UberYard. With two years worth of lessons on what will grow here and what won’t, we should definitely be starting to look all Better Homes and Gardens by next spring. Hell of an official birthday present from God: the weather’s finally breaking…

That’s it for now, I think…

Yet More Unmitigated Geekery

Why am I only publishing at the rate of one article per year? What makes my work difficult?
In a word (or three): obtaining proper materials.

Talked yesterday to the CEO of Siegel's of California (a high-end leather retailer), regarding the differences between alum-tanned leather with an oil finish or oil combination-tan, versus Indian Tan leather (alum tannage with a russet veg-tan outside, resulting in the yellow-interior, red-exterior leather one commonly sees used for lacings on boots). This is in relation to trying to find an appropriate leather to reconstruct the Cuman "farsetto" referred to by Matteo Villani in the middle of the fourteenth century, which I believe to be the direct ancestor of the buff coat. Since some of you are curious about what goes into separating out legit experimental archaeological reconstructions from that stuff you see at RenFairs…

CEO: (snipped for brevity)…. Could you tell me more about the properties that you are trying to reproduce and the end use….

(more…)

Democrat provides handy advice…

Please, will you Democrats listen to this James Kroeger fellow over at Republican Nemesis, so he can tell you all about:

1. How swing voters are stupid and grow confused when faced with details.
2. How Republicans are evil shysters who convince Americans to vote against their own interests.
3. How “Image Campaigns” are the key to getting the electorate to vote Democrat.

An example that would provide a solid change of pace for Democratic campaigns:

Like it or not, the only way Democrats can win against the modern Republican Party is by defining them as a group that is [morally] defective and threatening.

I understand that this would be a bold new policy that would be a bit extreme to contemplate for many Democrats, but, trust me, this is definitely the way to go… and it would make for a refreshing sea-change from the disaster of the Kerry campaign…

Merkel’s toast.

Now that the Greens have said “no way” to a “Jamaica coalition” with the CDU and FPD, Germany’s pretty much stuck with a grand coalition. Merkel, whose reform credentials were weak to begin with (thus resulting in very high numbers for the Free Democrats), is not going to be credible after being in grand coalition with Schroeder’s gang. She’s already had to cut too many deals with the regional bosses, and there are many in the party who see her as a backstabber to begin with.

Either Merkel stays boss, but achieves absolutely nothing, in which case she’s toast long-term, or else for the coalition to work, there is a “double decapitation,” and she and Schroeder are both out immediately, and probably for good.

… next to “irony” in the dictionary…

Darwin candidate alert!

Palestinian pro-Hamas asswipes inadvertently administer themselves a taste of their own medicine

but of course, the fact that the masked men and their homemade weapons blew up in the middle of a rally of people all doing the “AK-47 monkey dance” isn’t their fault. No-ooooo…. and now they want revenge. On whom? Themselves? Of course not! They blame it on the joooooooooos….

You know, it’s not the kids’ fault that they were brainwashed. Ya gotta feel for the poor munchkins. But otherwise, listen to this tiny fucking fiddle….

If you live in Dallas, lay off the freaking gas!

This is a test of the common-sense-in-emergencies network. This is only a test.

Gas stations that are nowhere near highway I35 were empty last night, as I saw tons of locals making runs to top their cars up.

Guys, I know you don’t want to get caught paying five bucks per gallon for the next two weeks, but you’re creating the same shortage we’re trying to avoid!
Can we please leave some gas for the evacuees who actually need it?

Schlieffen never had it so good.

A little while ago, I posted a quick essay, Suddenly Desert Storm Looks Hopelessly Primitive, which tried to bring to light just how significantly the existence of true mil-spec beam weapons changes the military game and strategic balance..

Let's look at one angle of that essay: it's 2012. What could one of our opponents put up on the game board that might change the equation? It's a legitimate question, given the Chinese military's desperate fixation on the US as the hegemon to be toppled with shashoujian weaponry. Let's assume that the Israelis have, as usual, screwed us over on technology transfers, and have leaked China beam-weapon tech (call it 100kW), and that their UAV program has gone forward with Russian assistance to something that would be ambitious but not unthinkable given what we can put up now.

Let's try this: UAV tech meets the Soviet Tank Army.

(more…)

Republicans to Base: Shut up if you know what’s good for you.

“A Conservative Vision of Social Justice,” by Rick Santorum and Iain Smith (from Britain’s Conservatives), published in the Wall Street Journal this morning, and thankfully made available online, posits that conservatives should push the growth of the Nanny State. Let’s look at the rhetoric and see what’s going on.

For all the differences between the United States and Europe, we share a
common challenge: how to improve the social well-being of our citizens without a
massive growth in the size and intrusiveness of government. We’re convinced that
conservatism–properly understood–offers the surest road to social justice.


So far, so good. What’s going on here is a clarification of what it means to be conservative, and, naturally, an assertion that conservatives stand against the Nanny State.

In many conservative circles, “social justice” is synonymous with socialism
or radical individualism. No wonder: For decades, the political left has used it
as a Trojan horse for its big-state agenda. Yet the wreckage of their policies
is obvious. Compared to the U.S., most European economies are struggling with
inflation, unemployment, low growth and a declining tax base; nearly all
European societies are burdened with increased crime and family breakdown; and
there is a draining away of hope and opportunity.

Europe is a leftist basket-case and Social Justice is synonymous with socialism, yep yep yep. Social Justice is synonymous with radical individualism? Where’d that come from? Where has a spirit for the radical individual, oh, heck, even the moderately individual individual, shown its face on the political left?

Conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic and beyond are charting a new
vision of social justice. It recognizes that the problems caused or aggravated
by the growth in government cannot be corrected by a crude reduction in its
size. Policy must also deliberately foster the growth of what Edmund Burke
called “the little platoons” of civil society: families, neighborhood
associations, private enterprises, charities and churches. These are the real
source of economic growth and social vitality.

Hold on a second. First, one castigates the left for being big-government – while simultaneously accusing it of rampant libertarianism (or, for the Brits, classical liberalism). But, hold on a second, conservatives aren’t for the diminution of government, either, but instead for an activist government implementing their own social policy (naturally, a better one than the leftists come up with.) Since when is cutting pork and getting rid of ineffectual agencies “crude?” And, maybe that Burkean quote plays big in Britain, where people are used to being treated like sheep by their government… but the notion that families are units to be deployed in a great government march to victory is a notion that sits more comfortably with the Great Leap Forward, than with anything I’ve ever known as the Republican Party.

The social justice agenda we endorse is grounded in social conservatism.
That means helping the poor discover the dignity of work, rather than making
them wards of the state. It means locking up violent criminals, but offering
nonviolent offenders lots of help to become responsible citizens. It endorses a
policy of “zero tolerance” toward drug use and sexual trafficking, yet insists
that those struggling with all manner of addictions can start their lives
afresh.

So social justice means getting rid of the miasma of the welfare state… and a hodge-podge of blatantly self-contradictory pablum regarding crime. So, where does a non-violent pot-smoker stand in Mssrs. Santorum and Smith’s view? In jail for zero-tolerance? Or not locked up, because they’re not violent? Is the state going to help them to quit their habit via a well-meaning program? Or is the conservative idea of helping somebody with a drug addiction to lock them up in a metal cage surrounded by sodomite gang-rapists? What aid should we be giving to an embezzler or car thief in order to help him become “responsible?”

In America, this vision emerged a decade ago with bold conservative
initiatives aimed at empowering individuals and grassroots groups helping the
nation’s neediest, such as the Community Renewal Act and other antipoverty
initiatives. Today’s CARE Act is part of the same tradition. Likewise, the Bush
administration’s plan to create a Gulf Opportunity Zone after Hurricane Katrina
would offer tax relief and small-business loans to support a culture of
entrepreneurship.

I’m not a policy wonk, but how precisely do FEMA’s “pass go and collect two thousand dollars” cards equate here?

Britain and America have long enjoyed a healthy exchange of ideas. British
Conservatives are learning from America’s experiences with zero-tolerance
policing, welfare reform and school choice. George W. Bush’s vision of an
“ownership society” owes a great deal to the legacy of Margaret Thatcher. These
efforts seek to empower individuals and families, not bureaucracies, and unleash
the creativity and generosity of neighbor helping neighbor.

At this point, we can see Reagan rolling in his grave. Does Ms. Thatcher know her name is being taken in vain? The views of Santorum and Smith are in stark opposition to those of us who listened to the Gipper… why on earth do we need the government to “unleash” what already exists, except insofar as it’s busy dodging well-meaning but stupid ideas put out by conservatives in Washington?

The rest of the paragraph continues, with the notion that conservatives can do better than liberals at building just societies. Okay, fair enough, if one equates “liberals” with trade unions that are saved from well-deserved extinction only because they’ve managed to infest the government, or the Democratic Party’s collection of hyperbolic moonbat leftists. When Rick Perry got his “mandatory child seats until eight years” policy pushed through here in Texas, was that any less intrusive than similar well-meaning ideas that nevertheless make the State the master, and destroy individual creativity? Sure, it does great things for keeping the SUV market afloat, given one’s chances of successfully maintaining three child seats in the back of the Honda Accord hatchback we repeatedly took cross-country… sometimes, in the –gasp—front seat!

What happened to the Republican Party? You know, the party that used to at least give lip service to getting government out of our lives before screwing us over in the mid-term? Is this the best that a conservative movement can come up with? “We’re the nanny-state, but at least we’re better than that other nanny state?”

The Reagan Coalition used to be made up of conservatives and libertarians. To the point that many folks actually equate some of libertarianism’s (or liberalism, if you’re in Europe), with being conservatism. Now, I don’t mean the Libertarian Party. They were never in the coalition, and thus have no room to gripe… but once again, it seems like the Republicans have failed to learn from history. Bush Senior got his po-po whacked politically when he went big-government, and decided he’d balance out his (sudden, inexplicable) polling numbers by going big-government even faster. It seems very much like the Republicans’ “trouble with the base” is being, once again, healed through the sovereign expedient of ignoring that base completely and trying to spend his way back to high approval numbers. Well, guess what? Republicans can’t do that. That’s what Democrats do. There may be fewer Republicans who know the difference in political philosophies, thereby calling libertarianism what it is… but there are plenty of Republicans who think they’re conservative, and want Washington DC to get the hell out of their wallets, and the hell out of their way.

To which one can easily see a number of conservatives saying “we own your butts politically, so why should we care? We know you’re not voting for the Dems.” Well, the reason that the conservatives should care is a matter of numbers. There aren’t enough conservatives to win the Republicans office on their own. If the (small-l) libertarians stay home, guess what? The Democrats win. And why shouldn’t they? To paraphrase a Croatian politician, “Keep us in power. We’ve already stolen everything we want. What will these new guys want to steal?” We know how to stonewall and work around the Democrats’ version of the Nanny State… we’ve been listening to their arrogance and condescension for years. We know that the Clintons are shamelessly corrupt, power-mongering elitists who hold their electorate in disdain and believe that government is a piggy bank that exists in order for them to rightfully plunder it. Bill may be a world-class wuss, but does anybody seriously think that Senator Clinton will hold back and pull a John Kerry when it comes to foreign policy, or allow her hands to be tied by people like Jacques Chirac?

Is their well-known perfidy really all that distinguishable from the new brand that’s starting to come to light?

Tell me, Mr. Santorum, why are you taking rhetorical potshots at your own constituents? if we don’t like their Nanny State, why should we vote to let you implement yours?

He’s proud to be an Asshole from El Paso…

and he LOOOOOOOVES Texas!

Really, I think Kinky’s hit it right on the head. Given what the governor of this state actually does, how hard could it be?

Uh-oh.

Listening to the radio this morning as I talked to my overnight guest about her kitten’s propensity to walk on people’s faces at 3 a.m., they said “Hurricane Rita…… expected to reach Category Four by nightfall…”

It was Cat-4 by the time I left the house, less than forty minutes later. Not good.

Wet Weekend!

Well, at least not going this weekend means I don’t have to drive right through the remains of Hurricane Rita… if the NOAA is right, this sucker’s either going to drive right past us, and hit us with the nasty side of the storm, or else if they’re wrong, and it tilts more strongly clockwise (the normal error in path prediction), it’s likely to come right down on our heads.

Hopefully, this sucker won’t pick up power and still be a monster by the time it passes through the Hill Country… but either way, tonight’s the last day the lawn gets watered this week…

One-Shot Sinus Headache Relief.

Okay guys, you know who you are, listen up.
If this doesn’t apply to you, point it to somebody to whom it does. I’ve found the world’s simplest sinus headache cure. Much more effective than other methods to which I’ve been reduced, like sticking my nose in the vacuum cleaner, because OTC painkillers aren’t even slowing the pain down. (Don’t laugh. Okay, go ahead and laugh, but I get them bad.)

It’s a variant on something my Dad used to use for migraines.
The loose theory is that sinusitis involves the swelling (obviously) and irritation of the sinuses. So the first key to reducing sinus headache isn’t to pop pills, but to simply reduce the irritation.

How do you do that? Cut out the dryness from the equation. If you work in AC, the dryness of the air is one of the issues with which you’re having to deal. But since running humidifiers all the time isn’t much of an option, especially in the summer time, or in places where mold is a serious issue….

Step One: do you have a sinus headache? Is ragweed kicking your butt?
If yes, proceed to step two.
Step Two: get a paper towel or washcloth. Wet that sucker down with the hottest water you can get. If you’re at work in an office, that’s probably the hot water on the side of the coffee machine that some NPR listener is using to brew green tea at 8 a.m. while the rest of us are drowning in our coffee pools. At worst case, you may be forced to boil water. Go for it.
Step Three: Put this ridiculously hot cloth right on your nose. Yes, I know, it’s hot. Deal with it, you have to be in contact with the cloth for this to work.
Step Four: Inhale through the wet washcloth or paper towel. It should be close enough to your nostrils that you can literally hear the water burbling the fiber matrix as your inhalation strips it from the progressively-cooler towel.

Instant portable humidifier. It won’t last you all day, but I’ve found that I get a pretty consistent fifteen or twenty minutes of being able to breathe beautifully with no sinus pain at all, followed up with the pain camping out at a much more tolerable level for the next couple of hours. Which means that if you have a hot tap and can do this in a convenient fashion, it’s no sweat to “huff fabric” six or seven times a day.

And that’s a heck of a lot better than suffering through the alternative.

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