Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Political Cartoonists Are Figuring Out Obama...

A nice collection via my nice cousin Mike D.  As always, click to enlarge.

My personal favorite: “The Great Financipator: Four score and seven hundred billion dollars ago...”:

Break in Our Weather...

And very welcome it is!  We had a couple of brief rainstorms last night, just enough to wet the surface and to produce that wonderful “rain smell” that we haven't had for a long while.  This morning I walked the dogs in crisp, cool air that reminds me of winter.  And to think just a few days ago we were in the hundreds!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Sense of Humor...

...even in wartime.  Via my mom:

Monday, September 28, 2009

Quote of the Day...

Mark Steyn lays it out for us:
When you make the free nations and the thug states members of the same club, the danger isn’t that they'll meet each other half-way but that the free world winds up going three-quarters, seven-eighths of the way. That’s what happened in New York last week. Barack Obama is not to blame for whichever vagary of United Nations protocol resulted in the president of the United States being the warm-up act for the Lunatic-for-Life in charge of Libya. But it is a pitiful reflection upon the state of the last superpower that, when it comes to the transnational mush drooled by the leader of the free world or the conspiracist ramblings of a terrorist pseudo-Bedouin running a one-man psycho-cult of a basket-case state, it’s more or less a toss-up as to which of them is more unreal. To be sure, Colonel Qaddafi peddled his thoughts on the laboratory origins of “swine flu” and the Zionist plot behind the Kennedy assassination. But, on the other hand, President Obama said: “No nation can or should try to dominate another nation.”
Read the whole thing to find out how dog-feces ice cream factors in.  Then read Gerson's piece...

The Birds and the Bees...

Via my cousin Mike D.:
A father asked his 10-year old son if he knew about the birds and the bees.

“I don't want to know!” the child said, bursting into tears.  “Promise me you won't tell me!”

Confused, the father asked what was wrong.

“When I was six,” the son replied, “I got the ‘There's no Easter Bunny’ speech.  At seven, I got the ‘There's no Tooth Fairy’ speech.  When I was eight, you hit me with the ‘There's no Santa’ speech.  If you're going to tell me that grown-ups don't really get laid, I'll have nothing left to live for!”

Saturday, September 26, 2009

World's Shortest Fairy Tale...

Jim M. continues his theme from last week:
Once upon a time, a guy asked a girl 'Will you marry me?' The girl said, 'NO!' And the guy lived happily ever after and rode motorcycles and went fishing and hunting and played golf a lot and drank beer and scotch and had money in the bank and left the toilet seat up and farted whenever he wanted.

Pocket Taser...

Don G. passed along this little story:
Pocket Taser Stun Gun, a great gift for the wife. A guy who purchased his lovely wife a pocket Taser for their anniversary submitted this:

Last weekend I saw something at Larry's Pistol & Pawn Shop that sparked my interest. The occasion was our 22nd Anniversary,  and I was looking for a little something "extra" for my wife.

What I came across was a 100,000-volt, pocket/purse-sized taser. The effects of the taser were supposed to be short lived, with no long-term adverse affect on the assailant, allowing her adequate time to retreat to safety...WAY TOO COOL!

Long story short, I bought the device, and brought it home. I loaded two triple-A batteries in the thing, and pushed the button. Nothing! I was disappointed. I learned, however, that if I pushed the button AND pressed it against a metal surface at the same time; I'd get the blue arc of electricity darting back and forth between the prongs.

Awesome!!! Unfortunately, I have yet to explain to the Wife what that burn spot is on the face of her microwave.

Okay, so I was home alone with this new toy, thinking to myself that it couldn't be all THAT bad, with only two triple-A batteries, right?!!! There I sat in my recliner with my cat, Gracie looking on intently (trusting little soul) while I was reading the directions, and thinking that I really needed to try this thing out on a flesh & blood moving target.

I must admit, I thought about zapping Gracie, (for only a fraction of a second) and then thought better of it. She's such a sweet cat. But, if I was going to give this thing to my wife to protect herself against a mugger, I did want some assurance that it would work as advertised. Am I wrong? So, there I sat in a pair of shorts and a tank top, with my reading glasses perched delicately on the bridge of my nose, directions in one hand, and taser in another. The directions said that a one-second burst would shock and disorient your assailant; a two-second burst was supposed to cause muscle spasms, and a major loss of bodily control; a three-second burst would purportedly make your assailant flop on the ground like a fish out of water. Any burst longer than three seconds would just be wasting the batteries.

All the while, I'm looking at this little device measuring about 5" long, less than 3/4 inch in circumference; (pretty cute really, and loaded with two little bitty, itsy, bitsy triple-A batteries) thinking to myself, "NO possible way!"

What happened next is almost beyond description, but I'll do my best. I'm sitting there alone, Gracie looking on with her head cocked to one side as if to say, "Don't do it master," reasoning that a one-second burst from such a tiny little ole thing couldn't POSSIBLY hurt all that bad...

I decided to give myself a one-second burst, just for the heck of it. I touched the prongs to my naked thigh, pushed the button, and HOLY MOTHER OF GOD, WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION @!@$$!%!

I'm pretty sure Jessie Ventura ran in through the side door, picked me up in the recliner, then body slammed us both on the carpet, over, and over, and over, and over again.

I vaguely recall waking up on my side, in the fetal position, with tears in my eyes, body soaking wet, both nipples on fire, testicles nowhere to be found, with my left arm tucked under my body in the oddest position, and tingling in my legs.

The cat was standing over me making meowing sounds I had never heard before, licking my face, and undoubtedly thinking to herself, "do it again, do it again!"

Note: If you ever feel compelled to "mug" yourself with a taser, one note of caution: there is NO SUCH THING as a "one-second burst", when you zap yourself. You will not let go of that thing until it is dislodged from your hand by a violent thrashing about on the floor. A three second burst would be considered conservative. SON-OF-A-%#&**%#... that hurt!!!

A minute or so later (I can't be sure, as time was a relative thing at that point), I collected my wits (what little I had left), sat up, and surveyed the landscape. My bent reading glasses were on the mantel of the fireplace. (How did they up get there???) My triceps, right thigh, and both nipples were still twitching. My face felt like it had been shot up with Novocain, and my bottom lip weighed 88 lbs. I'm still looking for my testicles. I'm offering a significant reward for their safe return.


That image of Gracie saying “Do it again!” will ring true to any animal owner. I'm positive that all of our seven cats and four dogs would do exactly that!

Paroled Arsonists in Our Midst?

Now comes word that authorities are suspicious that a paroled arsonist was responsible for setting “several” fires in East County:
On Monday, CAL FIRE Battalion Chief and acting Boulevard Fire Chief John Francois informed Boulevard Fire Board members that a paroled arsonist had been living in the community.  The arsonist is now back in custody for violating his parole terms.

“Several suspicious fires are still under investigation,” Donna Tisdale, Chair of the Boulevard Planning Group informed East County Magazine. Tisdale expressed shock that community members were kept in the dark about a potentially dangerous arsonist in their midst at the height of fire season—and she is now calling for reforms in the law to require that neighbors be notified if an arsonist is turned loose in their neighborhood.

So this sorry sack of poop is back in jail.  Good, though not good enough – some idiot might let him out again.

A few questions come right to mind:
  • What the hell were those “authorities” thinking when they released a convicted arsonist into a giant pile of fuel like East County?
  • Why are those aforementioned “authorities” still in a position where they could do this again?
  • How many more of these arsonists live amongst us?
  • Individuals in government need to be held accountable for their actions or inactions, just as individuals in companies are held accountable.  Who are the individuals in our government responsible for this kind of terminal stupidity?

Where Our Oil Comes From...

There were some surprises for me in the chart at right (click to enlarge).   For instance, I had no idea we imported significant amounts of oil from Angola and Columbia.

But the big surprise was that our (U.S.) total oil consumption declined last year.  It makes sense, given the recession, but somehow that little factoid had escaped my eye...

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Accidental Shooting in Lawson Valley...

From the San Diego Union-Tribune:
A man accidentally shot himself in the hand and his wife in the knee as he was taking apart his gun to clean it Thursday, sheriff's officials said.

The shooting was reported about 3:30 p.m. in a home on Lawson Valley Road in Jamul.
The 27-year-old man told deputies that he was taking apart his .40 caliber Springfield Armory semi-automatic pistol to clean it. In order to remove the barrel, he had to pull the trigger. He removed the magazine, but a round filled with "snakeshot" ammunition, similar to BBs, was still in the barrel and it went through his hand and into his wife's knee, the Sheriff's Department said.

Both were flown to Sharp Memorial Hospital for treatment. Authorities said the incident appears to be "purely accidental."
Anybody know anything more about this?

Friday, September 25, 2009

An Inspiration To Us All...

Via my cousin Mike D.:
As we get older we sometimes begin to doubt our ability to make a difference in the world.  It is at these  times that our hopes are boosted by the remarkable achievements of other Seniors who have found the courage to take on challenges that would make many of us wither.

Harold Sclumberg is such a person.

"I've often been asked, 'What do you old folks do now that you're retired'?   Well, I'm fortunate to have a chemical engineering background, and one of the things I enjoy most is turning beer, wine, Scotch, and margaritas into urine – I'm pretty good at it, too."

Cult of Personality in the Making?

More of my readers have written me about this video than anything else I've ever published.  On one level it seems perfectly innocent; just a bunch of schoolkids singing a song.  But then when you think about the words, and think about the influence this has on the kids, it seems very creepy.

As I watched it, the first thing I thought of were the videos that came out of North Korea a few years ago.  Those videos had many scenes of North Korean citizens paying homage to their leader, but the one that struck me hardest were the classroom scenes with the children mechanically singing the praises of their fearless leader. 

Then I thought back to my own school days.  I cannot remember ever being asked to sing the praises of Eisenhower, Kennedy, or Johnson.  Nope, didn't happen.  We recited the Pledge of Alleigance in the mornings; we learned about Eisenhower's service in WWII; we learned about PT-109.  But no creepy paeans to our leader.  No cult.

Viewing this video, I thought “This may not end well.”, meaning Obama's presidency.  Think about this...think about the combination of this video and the proposal being floated to remove the restriction on the number of terms an American President may serve.  That starts to smell a lot like Hugo Chavez.  Or imagine a few years from now some close associate of Obama announcing his run for President – while promising to retain Obama as (say) the Secretary of State (like Putin in Russia).  The kind of personality cult building shown in this video inclines people to be worried about such things.

As they should be.

Have You No Shame?

An excellent speech by Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel.  My favorite moment is when he asks the delegations gathered at the U.N. “Have you no shame?”

Thursday, September 24, 2009


From my cousin Mike D.:
An elderly man suffered a massive heart attack. The family drove wildly to get him to the emergency room.

After what seemed like a very long wait, the ER Doctor appeared, wearing his scrubs and a long face. Sadly, he said, "I'm afraid he is brain-dead, but his heart is still beating."

 "Oh, Dear God," cried his wife, her hands clasped against her cheeks with shock!
 "We've never had a Democrat in the family before!"

Quote of the Day...

This will resonate with any software engineer who has ever been responsible for shipping a product:
Shipping is a feature. A really important feature. Your product must have it.

Joel Spolsky, at Joel on Software.  This is a “don't miss” post for any developer...

It's amazing – and completely predictable – how many engineers forget this rather obvious fact.  To them this quote will seem like a revelation.  To others – those that Joel calls –duct tape programmers” – it will seem obvious.

Photo of the Day...

From a Tea Party, of course...

What Obama Didn't Do...

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, yesterday:
Ahmadinejad's declarations, particularly recently, particularly...not just the detention of Canadian citizens, not just the flagrant abuse of human rights, but his recent declarations - just disgraceful, insulting declarations denying the holocaust - there is no way I'm going to permit any official of the Government of Canada to be present and give any legitimacy to remarks by a leader like that.

President Ahmadinejad has said things, particularly about the state of Israel, the Jewish people, and the holocaust, that are absolutely repugnant. It is unfitting that somebody like that would be giving those kind of remarks before the United Nations General Assembly. Canada does not want to be equivocal at all in terms of our view on that; we find it disgraceful, unacceptable, and we're going to be absolutely clear on that. There are other things that bother us as well beyond these repugnant comments; also, obviously, the crackdown in Iran on all kinds, any kind of legitimate dissent; the fiasco around the elections is quite disturbing. As well, the holding of a Canadian journalist - Mr. Bahari, I think it is - without charge continues to be unacceptable (and) we continue to demand his release. But as I say, there are times when things are being said in this world that it is important that countries that have a moral compass stand up and make their views known, and our absence there will speak volumes about how Canada feels about the declarations of President Ahmadinejad.
No such condemnation passed Obama's lips – only words of conciliation and appeasement.

Later yesterday, the Canadian Foreign Minister walked out of Ahmadinejad's U.N. speech.

The U.S. delegation sat and listened.

I'm damned proud of the Canadians today...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

About Obamacare...

An Atmosphere of Violence...

Mexico is a very unsafe place these days.  These stories rarely makes the news here, despite the number of casualties (over 3,000 so far this year).  Many Americans have been injured or killed as well.  Along our border, the Border Patrol has seen a huge increase in the number of incidents involving gunfire, and especially those involving automatic weapons.  Naturally, this has made the Border Patrol – mainly armed with pistols – quite nervous.  So I'm not surprised to read this:
Four people were injured and the busiest border crossing in the U.S. was closed to northbound vehicle traffic for hours Tuesday after federal agents fired shots across nine lanes of traffic to stop three vans suspected of smuggling illegal immigrants from Mexico, authorities said.
But I sure don't like it.

So far as I've been able to discover, the violence in Mexico is 100% driven by the illegal drug trade with the U.S.  And there's a very simple and instantaneous cure for that: legalize these drugs.  Overnight the drug cartels will be out of business, much to the benefit of both Mexico and the U.S...

The Walking Wounded...

I spotted the chart at right in an article about Hyundai's recent market success – but there's something much more interesting visible in there.

To wit: the Big Three American auto makers have been steadily losing market share to the Asian Big Four for over ten years.  Most businesses that have lost market share for even a couple of years are in big trouble; to lose share for ten years is an extraordinary record of failure. 

And companies that have been failing like that are certain to be in very poor health.  The falling market share translates directly in to less cash on hand, less ability to borrow, lower share prices, etc., etc.  All bad.  The Big Three were in very bad shape before the recession ever started, which of course meant they were in worse condition to weather it.  Ford's little uptick last year is completely explained by the combination of their refusal to take bailout money and the cash-for-clunkers theft of our money.  Ford's current numbers (now that the cash-for-clunkers theft program is finished) are in the toilet.

In any righteous business environment, the Big Three would have been left on their own to flounder, or to weather the recession if they could wangle a way.  If there were to be any government involvement, it should only have been to somehow put them out of their misery.  Instead, our government has stolen a vast amount of our future earnings by borrowing to “bail out” these losers that will almost certainly fail anyway – probably taking even more of our stolen cash with them.

There's a reason why politicians so often make me think of trees, rope, and knot practice...

How to Hide a Ship of the Line...

At right is the Dutch man o'war Abraham Crijnssen during its passage through the East Indies in 1942 (World War II).

While we often think of camouflage as mainly colors and patterns, the experts say the most important element is the visual texture – illustrated quite nicely here...

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Tiny Cabin...

Via my mom:
A  government social worker from Washington, DC recently transferred to the Mountains of Kentucky.  She was on the first tour of her new  territory when she came upon the tiniest cabin she had ever seen in her life. Intrigued, she went up and knocked on the door. "Anybody  home?" she  asked.

"Yep," came a kid's voice through the  door.

"Is your father there?"  asked the social worker.

"Pa? Nope, he left afore Ma came in," said the kid.

"Well, is your mother there?" persisted the social worker..

"Ma? Nope, she left  just afore I got here,"  said the kid.

"But," protested the social worker, "are you never together as a family?"

"Sure, but not here," said the kid through the door. "This is the outhouse!"


And doesn't that level of competence somehow ring true for a government worker?

Hard Work, Not Luck...

Here's a great example of the interesting things that happen when you can successfully meld several different sciences and technologies.  At right is the Bunburra Rockhole, a meteorite recently discovered in Australia.  Finding this meteorite was the product of this fine collaboration.

A while back, some scientists had a clever idea: to set up a network of cameras in a remote area, and wait for them to capture a meteorite's trail of fire in the sky as it plunged through Earth's atmosphere.  Each camera would have a different perspective on this fiery trail, and by combining the information from all the cameras (using some clever software), the scientists could do two things.  First, they could predict with considerable accuracy where the meteorite fell to Earth.  And second, they could determine where it came from – something that is usually impossible to know.

The Bunburra Rockhole is the first product of this quest, and a very successful one at that:
The new meteorite, which is about the size of cricket ball, is the first to be retrieved since researchers from Imperial College London, Ondrejov Observatory in the Czech Republic, and the Western Australian Museum, set up a trial network of cameras in the Nullarbor Desert in Western Australia in 2006.

The researchers aim to use these cameras to find new meteorites, and work out where in the Solar System they came from, by tracking the fireballs that they form in the sky. The new meteorite was found on the first day of searching using the new network, by the first search expedition, within 100m of the predicted site of the fall. This is the first time a meteorite fall has been predicted using only the data from dedicated instruments.

The meteorite appears to have been following an unusual orbit, or path around the Sun, prior to falling to Earth in July 2007, according to the researchers' calculations. The team believes that it started out as part of an asteroid in the innermost main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. It then gradually evolved into an orbit around the Sun that was very similar to Earth's. The other meteorites that researchers have data for follow orbits that take them back, deep into the main asteroid belt.
Way cool!  Read all about it here...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Scott Adams Strikes Again...

I am in complete awe of Scott Adams' ability to find humor in the current business (and technology) world.  As a former (and recovering) manager and executive, I've been on all sides of this issue.  I was CEO of an enterprise software company when the “dot-com bubble” burst, and how to present the issue to employees was one of the many issues we wrestled with.

My favorite frame is the next-to-last one.  Getting middle-level managers to agree on which employees would be laid off in a downsizing was agonizingly difficult, and almost always required me to decide for many of them.  Scott Adams' solution to this challenge seems very attractive in the abstract...

Conservative Puppies For Sale...

So says Mark Steyn, in his inimitable fashion.  These golden retriever puppies are being sold by a friend of his.  One sentence in his puppy endorsement particularly caught my eye:
They're fun for young and old, and are genetically programmed to savage Howard Dean if he shows up late at night to push government health care on you.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Small Fire Near Jamul...


Here's a news article on the fire.  If it's accurate, the fire was started by someone burning brush (without a permit, of course).  Should this turn out to be true, I suspect the neighbors will be doing a bit of education on the culprit.

The fire was near Millar Ranch Road, which happens to be where some of my friends and co-workers live.  One of them (Aaron B.) took these photos from his yard.  In one you can see the fire plane dumping retardant; in the other you can see two fire planes flying by near his house.  Yikes!

Aaron tells me that the fire fighters were right on it, with two planes, and two choppers.  I'm sure there were ground firefighters involved as well.  The news report says it burned 14 acres.  I'm not sure if it burned any of the wildife sanctuary in the vally north of Millar Ranch Road.

Click to enlarge these photos.

This map shows the approximate location of the fire.

Original post:

According to KPBS, police had 94 closed between Steele Canyon Road and the bridge just north of Steele Canyon High School.  I drove through the area just after 2:00 pm, and it appeared the police were opening the road back up.  KPBS reported that there was a “small brush fire” but gave no further details.  I didn't see any fire personnel or aircraft, nor did I see any smoke (though it's a bit hazy today, so I might not have been able to see dispersed smoke).

Does anybody reading this know any more?  Please leave comments if you do...

Idea of the Day...

From my mom:
We need to start limiting all U.S. politicians to two terms: one term in office and one term in prison.

Illinois already has begun that plan.

Essentially, this is a presumption of guilt on the part of politicians.

Sounds right to me!

The Cowboy...

Via my mom:
A cowboy  appeared before St. Peter at the Pearly Gates. 'Have  you ever done anything of particular merit?' St. Peter asked.

'Well, I can think of one thing,' the cowboy offered. 'On a trip to the Black Hills out in South Dakota , I came upon a gang of bikers, who were threatening a young woman. I  directed them to leave her alone, but they wouldn't  listen.

So,  I approached the largest and most heavily tattooed biker and smacked him in  his face. Kicked his bike over, ripped out his nose ring, and threw it on the ground. I  yelled, 'Now, back off!! Or I'll kick the sh*t out of all of you!'

St. Peter was impressed, 'When did this happen?'

'Just a couple of minutes ago...'


Via Jim M. (who seems to have a theme going here):
A man owned a small ranch near San Antonio.  The Texas Dept of Labor claimed he was not paying proper wages to his help and sent an agent out to interview him.

"I need a list of your employees and how much you pay them," demanded the agent.

"Well," replied the rancher, "there's my farm hand who's been with me for 3 years.  I pay him $200 a week plus free room and board.  The cook has been here for 8 months, and I pay her $150 per week plus free room and board.  Then there's the half-wit. He works about 18 hours every day and does about 90% of all the work around here.  He makes about $10 per week, pays his own room and board, and I buy him a bottle of bourbon every Saturday night.  He also sleeps with my wife occasionally."

"That's the guy I want to talk to, the half-wit," says the agent.

"That would be me," replied the Rancher.

Southern Wisdom...

Via Jim M.:
Earl and Bubba are quietly sitting in a boat fishing, chewing tobacco and drinking beer when suddenly Bubba says,

"I think I'm gonna divorce my wife - she ain't spoke to me in over 2 months."

Earl spits, sips his beer and says, "Better think it over...women like that are hard to find."

al Qaeda Shows Us Again...

Shows us their true goals, that is: the elimination (by death) of all the “infidels” or their conversion to Islam.  The latest from Bekkay Herrach, a senior al Qaeda leader:
A senior al Qaeda leader has threatened to attack Germany just days before the nation will go to the polls to choose a new Chancellor.

Bekkay Harrach, alias Al Hafidh Abu Talha al Almani, resurfaced Friday in a chilling new video produced by al Qaeda's al Fajr Media Center and distributed across the major jihadi Web forums. Dressed in an ill-fitting black blazer, blue tie, and shoulder-length greased hair - looking more like a teenager dressed for his first job interview - he slammed Germany for its military presence in Afghanistan and warned that if Chancellor Angela Merkel is reelected on Sept. 27, Germany will be directly attacked.

His previous warning to Germany, on Jan. 17, 2009, coincided with a massive car bomb attack on the heavily guarded German embassy in Kabul that was orchestrated by the notorious Haqqani Network. Four Afghan civilians and an American soldier died in the attack.
Read the whole disturbing thing.