Archive | December, 2008

>A Modest Proposal

31 Dec

>…This one may Swiftly get me in a lot of trouble. Or it may get me friends I don’t want, which is just as bad. –Like either of those is anything new?

Courtesy of Mike-istan (RTWT!), I encountered this piece of, of, eww, “writing” by one Robert Smith, Junior writing in the Detroit News, of which the headline tells the tale: Ban All Guns! Yeah, that’ll work — it’s been such a success in United Kingdom that their normally-low rate of firearms deaths has been on the rise since the ban! (Look it up yourself; overall rates in Britain, Scotland, N. Ireland, Wales, etc. are still lowish but the trend’s backwards to what the gun-grabbers predict).

Mr. Smith makes much of the tragically high death rate of young, urban, African-American men; and he’s right: that group of citizens have a huge lead on any other demographic slice of the polity when it comes to getting shot and doing the shooting.

…And since we’re being all practical and common-sense, since men of wisdom like Mr. Smith assure us the presence of guns is to blame, let’s put our energy where it will do the most good and save the hardest-hit group first: Disarm All African-Americans!

What, that doesn’t sit too well? Makes you feel a bit uncomfortable? Seems rather, oh what do they call it, racist? But golly, it’s based on the very trends Robert Smith points out. Don’t you care about the price these young men are paying with blood?

I know! Let’s draw the line in a less-sensitive place! It’s mostly young, urban males that are shooting one another, so let’s ban guns in big cities!

That’s got to work — after all, it’s been such a success in Chicago, right? And in the District of Colombia and New York City? No? Young black men (men of every hue and age, in fact, plus no few of their sisters; what most of ’em have in common is a criminal history) are still shooting one another even in cities where it’s double-plus ultra illegal for minors and felons to buy and carry guns?

Golly gee. How unexpected — I mean, they have got laws ‘n’ bans ‘n’ everything on his Christmas list! And you tell us the perfect fix is a total gun ban, Mr. Smith? You’ll go house-to-house, will you, and round up every one of the estimated 9 guns per every ten adults in the U.S., and it’ll work, will it?

Sure, just like Prohibition removed all alcoholic beverages from distribution; exactly like The War On Drugs has wiped out the scourge of marijuana, the menace of crack, the horror of heroin, as it has ended the manufacture and sale of crystal meth and the abuse of prescription drugs… Just like those things, your Ban All Guns effort will “succeed.” And considering just how many of the firearms deaths (not to mention the deaths by stabbing, beating and being run over) of young men of every color are cited as “drug-related,” it seems likely that putting all guns in the same category as the common or garden variety crack rock will make guns an a even more lucrative item of underground commerce — and even more young men will die over them as well as by them.

I dunno. Seems to me there might be some teensy, weensy flaw in this plan.

Update: Codrea has his own, more succinct take on the article. Yeah, gun-banners? What he said goes for me, too.


>Plumbing Companies

31 Dec

>Most plumbers are all right — like any other trade, there are good ones and bad ones, but nearly all of them get leaky pipes and valves fixed; failure is just too obvious.

Plumbing companies, though…. Were the universe inherently just, there would be a very special little corner of Hell reserved for ’em. The best ones often go away, except for the ones that metastasize into vast, sloppy, it’s-not-my-problem, Call-One-Number conglomerates.

My old plumbing firm was a Type One. Small. Been there forever. Located here in Broad Ripple, Steck’s did a huge amount of work in the nineteen-teens through ’40s bungalows in the neighborhood. No old plumbing was a surprise to their guys and their plumbers were unfazed by the classic techniques — lead and oakum, soldered copper, galvanized-steel nightmares, reseatable valves, no problem. Nor were the wonders of modern plastic foreign to them; they used whatever it took to do the job. So, of course, when the principal retired, Steck’s vanished (at least their profitable and well-stocked supply house remains — you need plumbing stuff, get to Winthrop Supply!).

I found another outfit, one of the El Hugiod firms; their guys did good work (okay, a couple were just adequate and if I meet up with the nitwit who “fixed” our outside hydrant but removed the shutoff inside the basement and left the leaking fixture outside with no steady mounting, I’ll have harsh words, but mostly, they’re fine and occasionally outstanding). After several repairs small and large, I signed up to their Super-Valued-Customer Club, which promises 15% off and superfast service.

So they say. Big mistake, signing up. Money down the… Well, down the drain.

It’s 6:40 p.m. I’m waiting on them now. Funny, they called me at five pip emma at work to let me know the plumber was On His Way. –Maybe he’s driving from Oklahoma? Called them a few minutes ago — got, not the Ultra-Modern Dispatch Centre one might imagine but their answering service, who boredly asked for and took a basic who-what-why-where is he? message but, according to the call I just received from someone supposedly at the plumber’s HQ, delivered only a “call this number.”

And the best part? I have a hot water leak in the basement (low volume but the iron pipe, in a not very visible place, is in sad shape, wreathed in little sprays of crystallized rust; you can’t trust them at that point) and possibly thermostat problems with my water heater, since it doesn’t usually run for an hour-plus at a time the way it was when I found and investigated the leak.

At 9:15 this morning, I called up the Hugiod Plumbing-and-Dog-Grooming Outfit, they allowed as how I was indeed a member of the Sooooper Customer Discount Club…and that to get service today would cost an extra $50 for “emergency service.”

You know, tonight’s adventure, assuming the truck ever shows up at all, is going to be their swan song. I’ll find somebody else, somebody that may only be an average plumber but shows up in a timely manner and doesn’t have any nonsensical Best Friends Club.

Oh, yeah, my pager keeps going off. Something’s awry down at the Skunk Works and I’m tryin’ to talk guys through it ‘cos I have to, you know, wait for the service guy. Hey, Mr. Plumber, you want your football game? Live? Gonna cost ya extra for that!

Sheesh, I hope his truck didn’t get hit or something. Even so, it is way later than the originally-promised time when they called with the “on the way!” message. Nearly two hours ago. Swan. Song.

Update: They lost him. The actual dispatcher and I have spoken twice. They haven’t heard from him since he said he was on his way and he’s not replying to any means of communication.

>Morning Observation

30 Dec

>…No, not Orion; I’m pretty sure the Irishman[1] is out of sight by now. I eat oatmeal for breakfast nearly every weekday morning; days I don’t, I’m in a hurry and have granola instead. Usually eat right here at the computer, combining refueling with composing.

This morning, I’m out of oatmeal and the seal on the hippie-flakes bag had popped open sometime in the past, admitting the Imp Of Staleness. So I am enjoying a slab of ham on toast, with cheese and mustard. (Yum!)

It has been mentioned here and on Tam’s blog that my two very elderly cats spend most of their time on my (vast) desk. The desk was designed to hold a large CRT monitor; when I switched from the coal-fired Old Reliable to a newfangled and larger flat-panel[2], it left a nice cat-sized spot on the former monitor shelf, behind the warm new monitor; the cats like to doze there. Oatmeal won’t get their attention; granola in non-fat powdered milk, likewise. But a ham sammich? That’s a cat-magnet! Ahh, yes, their natural prey: the smoked ham. On marbled rye.

More to come later; this morning, I’m off to the dentist, thanks to a filling that escaped Sunday. It’s enough to shake one’s faith in cyanoacrylate.
1. ‘Cos, see, “O’Ryan….”
2. Oddly, this happened right after the first set of flat-screens survived long enough at work to be replaced in upgrading rather than because they’d failed. What a coincidence!


30 Dec

>…For your delectation: The Delahaye!

BBCAmerica’s “Top Gear” has been running promos for their season-opener, featuring a sleek Alfa-Romeo hardtop they describe as “the most beautiful car in the world.” Oh, I’ll grant it’s a lovely vehicle, but it’s no Delahaye. It’s about even with, say, a Cord 812.

>December BlogMeet: Kewl!

29 Dec

>Alas, I am short on time; suffice it to say the December BlogMeet was a grand time, with sixteen bloggers and readers from all over gathered for food, libations* and conversation. I counted 16 attendees — and failed to fully note everyone’s names. Hard cider is not, as it turns out, a memory-enhancing tipple. From memory (and in no partular order): Mr. and Mrs. Red, Brigid, Shermlock Shomes & son, Turk Turon, Carteach0, Og, Brigid…. Tam and Caleb were missed; she’s been visiting back across the Mason-Dixon line, and Caleb, it turns out, was busy taking the bronze in a combat pistol match that took longer than planned.

Oh, would you look at the time! Starships wait for no one. Links will have to be embedded later.


28 Dec

>I don’t care what your particular ism is; I’m sure you consider yourself quite an expert in it. I blogged about some very tentative notions I had, things I was working out, and found myself in a tempest of comments about my own lack of philosophical rigor, found my friends rudely taken to task for their beliefs in the comments of my blog, and was told I was too thin-skinned for the rough-and-tumble games the big boys play. (The implict assumption being I was even interested in such. Bzzt! Wrong!)

Gee, all this time I thought this was my little blog that I did for my own amusement. I had no idea I was teaching a philosophy class — or enrolled in one.

Because I wasn’t.

Looky here, if you want to share the superior virtues of your own political philosophy, go do it on your own blog.

If you want to show said superiority by pointing out the faults, flaws and failings of others in place of demonstrating the virtues of your own, you are, in my opinion, a fool and lousy salesman for your ideas. The Competition may indeed stink on ice but until you show you’re made of perfume, it’s your aroma, too.

This is a little blog. Not even D-list. I have never made any attempt to get links; never pointed out something I thought was especially good to the really big blogs, rarely asked for links (I did bother overworked Alphecca about gettin’ a reciprocal link), never advertised and never chose a topic based on how likely it was to get attention. If what I write gets traffic, yay-hooray. If it does not, so what? It saves me using up lots of paper or space on my computer’s HD.

That’s all it is. I don’t make any effort to be especially consistent. What you get is what was in my head when I sat down to write. And I didn’t do it for you, I did it for me. Anything you get from it is just gravy. (And it’s free, too — worth exactly what it costs).

I have enabled comment moderation. Your comments may not appear as rapidly as you might wish. And to this post, not at all.

(Update, Sunday morning: I recall encountering online Robert James Bindinotto, a bigtime Objectivist/Minarchist guy and as philosophically consistent as they make ’em. One of the really striking aspects of his interaction with others was that he was unfailingly polite, even when he was slapping them down. Such men are the standard by which I judge all men. A good many of them fall short).

>Indy BlogMeet Sunday

27 Dec

>The December BlogMeet! Bloggers and readers invited!

3:00 pm Sunday the 28th, Broad Ripple Brew Pub.

See you there!