Archive | June, 2009

>Frank W. James On Modern Political "Choices"

30 Jun


I’m slowly coming to the conclusion after listening to all the balderdash out of Washington DC and elsewhere that I’m neither a liberal or a conservative in terms of my political slant. I would opt for the term Libertarian, but I’m not sure that is safe either.

So far I haven’t seen anything that warms the cockles of my heart in terms of present political philosophy from anyone on either spectrum.

Amen, brother, amen!

RTWT. And politicians? When you’ve lost guys like Mr. James, you’ve lost this country’s heart.


>Count What?

30 Jun

>Britain’s Queen Elizabeth is preparing to have her swans counted.

Please oh please, let this be one of those charmingly British turns of speech for some common and unpleasant task, oh, pleeese. “‘Avin’ me swans counted,” she said, and everyone remembered how chilly the instruments always were, not to mention the noise….

Aw, rats, no. They’re counting. Actually counting. Swans. Unh, okay. I try not to judge. Even if the official name for this process is “Swan Upping,” painful as that sounds.


Holyhowlingheck, the Brits have got a Swan Warden! Do we even have, like, a cygnet Czar? Bet not.

UPDATE: Dustbury posted this and I am shamelessly stealing it. I howled.

>Say Again?

29 Jun

>Your WTF? moment of the day:

In a meeting with journalists last week, [Chief of Staff Rahm] Emanuel proposed that health-care legislation could be bipartisan without Republican votes.

In related news, Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia. Or:

The Obama administration is rushing towards a unilateral plan to imprison people without trial, according to a huge, new joint article from the Washington Post and ProPublica. The proposal would completely cut Congress out of the process by using an executive order to essentially bring Gitmo stateside.

Happy times. They tolja you’d miss Joe Stalin after he was gone.
The first linked article is more blather about the so-called “public option,” which fans of nationalizing health care see as a gateway drug to single-payer. Don’t be fooled– it is the first step in a massive reduction in health care available to productive citizens, cloaked in a flimsy veil of “fairness.” Why is it fair that you or I should work to pay for medical care for bums and addicts? Congress is ginnin’ up to roll right over those of us who work for a living and it’s time we stood up and told ’em STOP!


29 Jun

>Update: Check out the comments! Reader James E. Griffin — clearly a lost son of Wile E. Coyote — offers up a detailed plan to keep the good time rollin’. I was giggling before I ‘d read a quarter of it. I can see the Acme-brand gadgets already!

It’s not quite Schadenfreude when a friend rings you up to announce, “I’ve got a batch of croissants rising and my oven’s conked out,” for all that it is a delight that comes from another person’s bad luck.

Fresh from the oven — I’d never had but cold ones — croissants combine the best features of fresh-baked bread and flaky pastry, hot and soft and flavorful. She and Tam and I ate a couple apiece before any of us remembered our friend had brought a delicious salad, too. A mild rosé on the side and you could not ask for a better meal!

The repairman’s scheduled for today or tomorrow to fix our friend’s oven. Is it okay to be feeling a little wistful regret at that?

>Flag Display

29 Jun

>Because some folks — and they clearly don’t know who they are — stuck Federal flags on their cars after 11 September 2001 and drove around with them flapping in all weather until Old Glory had become a tattered rag, I’m posting this link to Respectful Ways To Display The Flag On The Fourth. It even has some nice, patriotic treats you can set out instead of, oh, candies with U. S. flags on ’em.

Me, I’ve flown the Gadsden Flag on patriotic holidays for many years now; I didn’t like the kind of things politicians and pundits were wrappin’ in the Stars and Stripes and since there were more of them than there are of me, I let them take it. But if you are gonna fly the national flag, please do so properly!

Than Kew.

>"Chicken Fingers?" Hah!

29 Jun

>Remember When Mutated Frogs Were Harbingers Of Environmental DOOOOOM?

Now, maybe not so much. Seems dragonfly nymphs may have a taste for frog’s legs (Ah, oui!) — and just to add to the fun, there’s a parasite that infects tadpoles that can cause ’em to grow extras! …Seems like there’d be some way to achieve homeostasis there but I guess not.

Moral of story: Go. Find. Out. Sure, they hand down some fine tales from on high, but they’re wrong a lot, too.

As for how this might apply to other things laid ‘pon us by Wiser Heads, like “public option” nationalized health care, the horror that is Cap-and-Trade, or the various and assorts lumps of “Government Stimulus” and related bailouts, I will leave for the reader to decide, with one bit of advice: if a politician says something, it’s mostly likely wrong.

>In Space, It’s Hard To Ignore The Phone

28 Jun

>Today should have been a day off. I still haven’t got out my nightgown, let alone my quarters, yet I’ve been working most of the last four hours.

It all goes back to the Power Room gang. Lupine Power & Light, as they are often known — and they do sell commercial power to the various subcontractors and merchants; even the functions of the ship proper generate a paper trail akin to billing. They have taken our recent string of power issues (UPS crashes, fried service transformers and other sorts of barbecue) very much to heart. Their most recent project has been a huge upgrade to the distribution system from the central fusion/MHD reactor, ripping out the last of the late-50s infrastructure and bringing the whole thing up to modern standards. Yay, hooray and it should have been transparent to the end user, most especially us.

By “should have been,” I would be saying not so much. By “us,” I mean the Command/Control core, where the Engineering Shop, the rack area, Drive and RF/Reaction Control and Master Control are to be found, where Navs, Imaging and Signals have their primary tech offices and where, one deck up, Officer’s Country can be found, all ipanelling, hushed voices, carpeting, incongrous displays and gazillions on the line. The important stuff’s all triply-backed up, right?

Right. Except for the few bits that aren’t. You install a new thing in an old rack and don’t check out where it’s powered, could be later on there are tooth marks where you sit down. Or maybe on someone else, whoever else it fails on.

If you get bit, then fake your way out of it and leave the next shift to get burned, you’ll learn there are worse things than tooth marks and once the heated wrath of the Chief has singed you to the bone, quiet, gentle Dr. Schmid is waiting, an otherworldy look in his eyes, as noble as Dr. Guillotine. 2/O and the big boss of Navs and Engineering and a man whose time, he refrains from pointing out, is not to be trifled with. What he might say or do, one should never find out firsthand.

…Let me draw a curtain across that scene, for it doesn’t — thank the Fates! — concern us, not this time. Suffice to say, there was a big ol’ glitch on the power and a couple of near-critical items took nasty hits that took ’em down, one of them a trick little Tweed “intelligent controller” that helps keep us from tearin’ the place apart with the realspace drives; and here we are, inbound yet, with some fine maneuvering a few days away. So that was A Bad Thing.

What was worse was just patching around it and leaving it for the next guys along with a pile of other, less-critical fubars while making no particular note. By the time my phone started beeping, dayshift was looking lunchwards and the perps were snug abed — unless the Chief had hold of them by then.

So I’ve been online, digging up files and notes: workarounds, software to reload and how we ran without it. That last gets us back to Navs some and piloting a whole lot — looks like at least half the star pilots have eased this contraption into orbit without such invisibly automated help and a quarter of that group date back to before the thing it replaced…which I have located in a Stores & Cargo index and sent for. Might be a bit more zero-G this planetfall than folks have gotten used to.

I’ve also spent time on the phone with Dr. Schmid, talking through resetting another important item the night-shift guys left about half-right and I’ve volunteered to just head on down to C&C twice. “Better take what’s left of your day off,” he said, “It looks like there might not be any more of them for awhile.” Ow.

What I’m wondering is, just what the dickens else messed up that the overnight crew had so little time to spend on these things? –And why didn’t they start callin’ for help when it happened?

I may be adventuring among the distant stars but from where I’m sitting right now, it sometimes bears a stunning likeness to Peoria.

P.S.: And after a morning spent that way and a middlin’ nice mid-day spent reading and housecleaning, I’m on the phone again — seems the Drive Control operator just tried to call up some seldom looked-at telemetry and the whole subsystem crashed. Yum.