I is loose.

Class got cancelled today, so when the ladies kidnapped me to go to the Y, I did my baguazhang there.  Did a longer session than I’ve done in a long time, and though I’m still unsure about the proper alignments in the “base walking mode” for my current system (and with internal martial arts, you never try to simply ape your instructor’s movements when you’re clueless, because God only knows what bizarre internal linkages he happens to be working on), I’m trying to put in a much more constant practice than I have in some time, since I’m going to be out of the country for a month and then have to miss a crapload of classes.

So it was really nice when I finished up today, and my forearms had some of their old softness back.  I can’t feel all the way around my forearm bones yet, as those deep inner muscles are still too tight, but loosening is definitely starting to happen.  No idea if I can actually hit again yet, but that’ll come.

I used to do about two hours every single day… and missing something intellectually is one thing.  Getting a taste of one’s old physical state back, even if I now have a half-dozen training-related injuries I didn’t have back then, is a real treat.

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Small Pleasures

It doesn’t have to be right. It just has to be funny.

Also this.

“Russia is a nation with an unpredictable past.”

And it seems that the past is about to get yet another round of abuse.

I have a proposal regarding Russia:  expel them from the G-8, and allow them to return once they can prove that they actually belong there (and both Spain and Brazil might want to say something about that).

Otherwise, if the FSB insists on creating yet another paranoid round of “Zaire with Permafrost,” let them stew in their own irrelevance.

Happycrow’s Political Quote of the Year

The incredible rightness of FDR’s war policy obscures the flaws in his prior actions.

Puppy-Blender sure picked his link-line correctly.  The one thing that should have been done, and done immediately, a.k.a, repealing the Smoot-Hawley tariff that destroyed tens of millions of jobs and destroyed the U.S. economy so thoroughly that it wouldn’t recover to similar levels until the mid-to-late 1950s… never happened.  We had to do it the hard and ugly way, while fighting off Nazis who could never have come to power had we not gutted the world’s economy with one stroke of a legislative pen.

Can’t wait to get my copy of the book.

Damn I hate Microsoft

Just lost an hour and a half’s work, because I was focused on making a kick-ass Powerpoint presentation, rather than playing defense and saving every three minutes.

I’m *this* close to replacing this machine with a Mac and running on a user-friendly Linux GUI. I don’t have the time to learn a real Linux shell (and my neighbor’s attempts to do so have proven that to me quite dramatically), but losing work due to what appear to be random “I will explode now” errors just isn’t making sense.  I don’t have that kind of spare time.

Outside of an occasional game (the Total War series, for which I’m a historical consultant to several teams of modders), there’s nothing I do that a Mac wouldn’t handle just fine…

Pete Sessions and Earmarks, p2: I Dub Thee “Bacon Boy”

Day 3: No return call. Have called D.C., and I have been directed to a list (.pdf) of said earmarks. Of course, this is for FY2008… assuming that this is complete, it turns out that Pete Sessions is a “bacon boy.” When it comes to keeping the budget reined in, our local TX-32 Congresscritter is really no different than any Democrat, and definitely falls into the “Proud Appropriator” category.

It’s ten pages, and I’m not going to cite Defense earmarks, many of which would need FOIA requests to drill down on as to whether they’re really local, and some of which might be okay, and might be just pork, and I’m not qualified to say (**cough** Osprey **cough**), but here’s the local stuff:

  1. (U.S. Marshal’s office) “DFW Fugitive Apprehension Strike Team”: $100K
  2. Kickstart character development program. (After-school martial arts): $500K
  3. North Central Texas Regional Interoperability Project (oddly, not listed under DHS): $2.5MM
  4. Phoenix House Youth Drug Rehab Center: $1MM
  5. Dallas Trinity Lakes Project: $500K
  6. Dallas Floodway Extension (Army Corps of Engineers): $19MM
  7. Photovoltaic Energy Conversion Project: $700K
  8. Upper Trinity River Feasability Study: $1.9MM
  9. Center on Vision Loss: $500K
  10. Baylor Solid-Organ Transplant Research: $2MM
  11. Best Buddies (disability assistance): $250K
  12. InfantSEE (child eyecare for Dallas Area): $450K
  13. SMU Anti-infectives/Virological Research: $3.1MM
  14. UT-SW Obesity, Diabetes, Metabolism Research: $3MM
  15. UT-SW Medical Nanotech: $4MM
  16. Foreign Aid: Radio Station in Madagascar: $2.51MM
  17. Dallas Area Light Rail Expansion: $86MM
  18. Dallas Woodall Rogers Deck Plaza: $1MM
  19. NAFTRACS (national transport corridor): $5MM

Folks, that’s a lot of bacon: $137,010,000, for this year alone. Now, some of these things may simply be best performed with federal money here — the UT/Southwest medical tech research, for instance. But why on earth should we be taking 86 million in tax money from some poor kid in Mississippi, Montana, or West Virginia, in order to fund our light rail projects?

Blatant, Shameless Pork: 2, 4,5,7,8,9,17,18.

Let’s look the other way on the Corps of Engineers project for right now: it’s been known that flood control is desperately needed in parts of the city. Similarly, while I don’t think the FedGov has squat to do with #12, my anti-federalist leanings are likely to get shouted down in a hue and cry of “think of all the poor blind babies!”

But (#17) making the rest of the country pay through the nose (86MM!) so that the City of Dallas can have better commuter-rail is pork.

And #18 is not only pork, but fatback. Blatant, shameless, larded pork. These are not distressed neighborhoods being served here. This is a million in federal money being used directly and explicitly to improve the property values of downtown developers and REITs, some of the richest folks in DFW. This is truly shameless.

If you’re looking for a guy who “brings home the bacon” at other peoples’ expense, Sessions is your guy. If you’re looking for a fiscal conservative… look elsewhere.

Laptop posture critical…

or, live with a messed-up spine… I’ve felt the same issue this spring, doing lesson-planning on a machine, and having my already-hurt back scream for a day and a half…

Pete Sessions and Earmarks

Anderson Cooper published a list of results when trying to peg Congresscritters on their earmarks.

It seems that Rep. Sessions’ message mailbox is still full. Sessions talked a good line going against Frost (who was redistricted to death) about keeping a clean budget. So I’m going to start calling every day after work to see how regularly these folks actually clean up their boxes. I’m not an optimist: my experience dealing with Sessions’ office in the past has suggested that he’s very much an old-school Republican. (Aka, his staff’s job is to distract the rubes while he swaps favors and enjoys making deals with the country clubbers). Sessions’ associate from Denton, is even worse — Technogypsy caught them not even bothering to open constituents’ emails for over a year, if I remember correctly — and that in an election cycle.

So I’m inaugurating the official Pete Sessions Full Mailbox Count. This is Day 1.

DAY 2: Called too early, got a staffer who promised to get back w/ me once he heard from the DC folks. Will call again later to see if they’ve cleared their mailbox.

DAY 2 (late): We get results!! Message box cleared.

His number, btw, is (972) 392-0505, if you’re also in TX-32. Call after hours, hit “16” to be connected to the voicebox.

The Republicans just got their asses kicked in ’06 for telling voters “where ya gonna go?” (“Out for pizza, chump.” Ya really think you’re going to survive the MyDD crowd if your base doesn’t turn out? Yeah, and can I have your office coasters when they replace you?) So let’s see if they’re smart enough to learn from their mistakes… and if you’re tired of your congresscritters acting like they really don’t have to care, call your congresscritter after hours… let’s see who’s smart enough to at least pretend they care what the rubes have to say. Having picked up 56% against Pryor last time around in a blatantly gerrymandered district (come on: in what universe are Richardson, University Park, Irving, and Cockrell Hill the same district?), I’m guessing he’s feeling pretty secure.

Now, back to earmarks: Sessions apparentl wrangled 1.3MM in other peoples’ money for the Dallas Fire Department, for an Urban Search and Rescue Task Force. Of course, there has never been a credible terrorist threat to DFW, since the Feds came in and busted the Hamas goons hanging out with the Holy Land Foundation in Richardson. (I worked on Main in Dallas, and had a reliable source feeding me data.) 1.3MM is chump-change, and basically plausible, but if he’s going to give press releases on his site, why not simply act like he’s proud of bringing Dallas that bacon?

Semantics

Behold ladies and gentlemen, the topic of semantics is about to writhe under my laser-like gaze (bombast [BAM-baest] n. …].

Most arguments are lost before they start because of differences, however subtle, in semantics. Other times, there is cognitive sabotage because the person has an erroneous definition attached to a word and lack a concise tool to grasp a particular concept because of it.

Take for instance, the word technology. Technology describes the practical application of scientific knowledge. It is a process whose workings are understood by its human creator. It is rationally arrived at, improved and still improvable. It doesn’t require new material, and in fact can simply be the more effective means of using what you already have. Por Exemplo: Kung Fu and power-lifting are technologies of technique. We all have the same hands, the same heads, the same feet, but practitioners of either discipline can do some markedly amazing stuff with theirs after prolonged application of certain established techniques, be it lifting cars of breaking bricks .

As a word, it is the core of a humanist, rationalist creed, because it says that if you have the will, the patience, the discipline, and the mind, you can change or improve anything you put your hand to. It’s the drop-forged, 14 pound hammer in the mental toolbox of the practicing optimist. As a word, its beautiful. As an idea, it’s a jewel, a glittering diamond.

Technology is not, as post-modernists would have it, “the magic that works.”

I open the floor to other words that are getting semantically brutalized. Theology vis a vis Mythology is getting a work out thanks to Hitchens’ new book. Subjective and Objective get mugged every time they go for milk.

DragonSkin a victim of the Pentagon Wars?

I’m supposed to be asleep right now, but there’s a decent chance that MSNBC has just caught the Pentagon testing unit with its pants down over body armor testing.

I’d have blown right past it, except that this sort of thing has been seen before.  In fact, the parallels are downright eerie.

Moose

Yes, this is a moose.

Or, the fluffy part of a moose.

Supertoddler!

Bam-Bam lives.

“Little Pebbles is his number one fan,

Tear your arm off if he shakes-a your hand!”

Russians teach themselves the wrong lesson

Boy, do they not know us:

The Zapad-99 exercise ended with Russia victorious. Baffled by the limited preventive nuclear strike and faced with the choice to either begin an all-out global nuclear war or back down, NATO stopped its attack on Kaliningrad. After Zapad-99, Moscow accepted that preventive nuclear strikes would be the best way to stop a NATO attack that Russia’s weak conventional forces cannot repulse.

Nothing will bring out a lasting and overwhelming U.S. response than something with the black-and-white moral clarity of a “preventive nuclear strike.”  If Putin thinks we’re a problem now… wait until the gloves come off, and whoever’s in office has a 95% approval rating for anything that hits back.

“Speculist is a killing word.”

That’s got to be the quote of the day.

Am taking a breather before diving into reading quizzes (sorry, but summerterm is busy — just as much lecture as mayterm, with twice the grading — that’s why blogging is so slow), and checked out their latest.

Heat = vibrations = energy.

Which makes me wonder: shall we reverse global warming by converting the Texas sunshine directly into ZZ Top covers?

Sexual politics and college

Well, as my bud Technogypsy says, “the plural of anecdote is not evidence,” but I am teaching in three different counties at community college, and I am now definitely starting to see a huge difference in the student population of my classrooms.

Males are a distinct minority.  With the exception of one campus, where guys are trying to claw their way out of Poorville(tm), the guys are roughly about 20% of the room, and sometimes less.

Unless Reynolds, et. al., are somehow overlooking a serious ameliorating factor, something has definitely gone out of whack.  A lot of these gals (like the eight sorority chicks I taught last maymester) are self-admittedly looking to find a guy and never work again…. but that old-timey 1950s-style arrangement doesn’t fly any more, especially if the guys who’d do that sort of thing can’t make the grade.  Either they’re going to be awful lonely, or there are a lot of guys out there who aren’t going to stand a chance…

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