Saturday, October 16, 2004


I love to read, always have. Over the years there have been periods where I concentrated on a particular type of book, but I like all kinds of stuff. History, historical fiction, fantasy, sci-fi, wildlife, humor... There's just so much out there, there's not enough time in a life. Not to mention that you sometimes pick up one you've read before, and want to read it again.

Steve is a marvelous writer, funny as hell. And a pretty good cook. I got his cookbook, and I'm not sure which it's worth more as; cookbook or humor.

I wrote about Peter Hathaway Capstick before, and his many works. All worth reading.

Science fiction, there's a lot: David Drake, Steve Weber, Eric Flint, Lois McMaster Bujold, Elizabeth Moon, S.M. Sterling, John Ringo, Robert Heinlein among others. Drake has also written historical fiction/fantasy, 'The Dragon Lord' for instance.

Mysteries: James Doss, Tony Hillerman, Tamar Myers, James Maddox Roberts, Rex Stout.

Funny stuff: the above-mentioned Steve, who ought to make a book out of his blog writings, Patrick McManus, Bill Watterson(Calvin & Hobbes), Bill Amend(Foxtrot), Pete Abrams(Sluggy Freelance). Yeah, the last three are cartoonists; live with it.

History, I confess I have trouble remembering the author's names. One exception, Victor Davis Hanson, primarily because he writes a lot of columns that lots of blogs link to.

Fantasy: Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber are my favorites. There are many others, and I'm shorting some fine writers by not being able to remember their names right now. Howard is best known for creating Conan, and trust me, the short stories and novels he wrote are far different from the movies and comic books. He also wrote humor and created other memorable characters such as Solomon Kane. Fritz Leiber wrote humor and straight sci-fi as well, his most memorable characters- to me at least- being Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser; one of their books, happily 'Swords and Deviltry', first of the collections, introduced me to fantasy.

There are so many others, let us not leave out how-to and technical and, and... you get the point.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Choosing animals over humans

PBS had a show on a couple of days ago about a hunt for a monster crocodile that had developed bad table manners. As is often the case in Africa, they had no idea how many people it had actual eaten, just the ones that were reported. So far, so good. And it was a truly monstrous beast. OK. Then came the part that pissed me off.

The game ranger in charge in the area insisted that the croc not be killed, it HAD to be captured alive and unhurt. No matter how many people died while doing so. And they did.

Other experts were called in, one cage trap and several big spring snares were fabricated, the beast was spotted, and the traps were set. And this was a BIG sucker. It was hard for me to make a guess with nothing of known measure by it to compare, but at one time they had video of it by several 8 and 12 footers, and they looked like toys in comparison, their best guess being in excess of 18 feet. From what I've read, that would make it about 10 feet in girth, and the teeth looked as long as my fingers.

Now, I understand the desire to catch something this big, but while they were making all their attempts to-without injuring it- catch the thing, it kept killing people. And yes, they were very sorry about them, but capturing the lizard was far more important. Which is why I freakin' HATE enviro-weenies. You idiots, THE DAMN THING IS EATING PEOPLE! Just like happens every day in Africa & Asia, but YOU COULD HAVE STOPPED THIS ONE! Several times they were within about 150 yards, and once the ranger got video of the thing from no more than 20 yards, first from the rear and then moving up the side until it spooked. According to Capstick, directly from the rear & above is the ideal angle to kill a big croc, so there was at least one ideal opportunity, and several others, and they didn't take them. And people kept dieing.

At the end, they ran out of the time the government had given them, and later said that there had been no sightings for a while and no more people had been taken. It might have moved, but they feared most likely a poacher or the army had shot it. I damn well hope so. In this line of thought, some local citazen who got tired of neighbors being eaten and whacked the thing would be classed as a 'poacher'; personally I'd decorate him.

I don't give a damn how rare it is to see one that size, and the Nile crocodile is not endangered. When one is eating the locals, you kill it. Capstick wrote several times of the fatalistic attitude of bush Africans toward crocs, but this was a game ranger and the government. That they considered it more important to trap the beast than stop it killing the locals it amazing.

And stupid. Don't forget stupid.

Trust me, you don't want a career in shift work

Yes, somebody has to do it, but I'm really worn out with it being me.

My second full-time job was dispatcher with a law enforcement agency, a position that has to be manned 24/7. The shift changed every month; 7a.m. to 3, 3 to 11, 11 to 7. Days off varied, anything from weekends to Monday & Tuesday, or Wednesday & Thursday, etc. When my kids were small, the evening shift actually had advantages; you could spend much of the day with them. Also, I was younger then and got along well on less sleep. 11 to 7 always sucked, because I couldn't sleep well during the day, and sleeping in the evening with two kids around ain't the easiest thing. Days gave the evenings free, and often meant weekends off, very nice when your spouse had a normal-hours job.

What killed me was the changeover each month, just as your system got used to the one you had been on. Over time it wears you down, and you can't quite catch up. At that, our office was better than others. One agency I knew of regularly had people working two 11-7 shifts, then two 3 to 11, then one 7 to 3, all in one week. I think I'd have quit, and have no idea how those people did it.

I still have shift work, but we do three months on each shift. Some of it still sucks, but at least you have time to acclimate to one and stay there a while. But I'll still be damn glad when I retire. For that matter, if I can find something I'd like to do now, I'd sign my papers tomorrow.

How Europe sees us

Varifrank has a really nice piece about trying to explain to Europeans how our country works. Very good reading.

For the most part I really don't care what the rest of the world thinks of us. And the good opinion of the U.N.? Let's see, Sudan and Libya on the Human Rights Council? Crap on the U.N. I do realize that part of the problem with Europe is that it seems rare for many of them to really understand how this place works, and from their point of view it must be pretty strange. However, it works. Britain has reached the point you cannot defend yourself against attack without fearing a prison sentance; most places here, not a worry. Despite the efforts of a bunch of weenies, we don't have sauces, soups and stews being taxed differently depending on what size strainer they go through. Most of Europe, the ownership of arms is a privilege granted by the government under strict controls(after all, you can't just let the peasants run around with arms, makes them harder to control, don't you know?); most places here, nope, just obey the law in your use of them. One of the reasons a lot of us seriously distrust the idea of 'gun control', i.e. personal disarmament laws, is that for a long time such were directly aimed at keeping certain groups from owning arms; big difference between those and the current proposals is that instead of some clowns trying to keep certain groups helpless, now those clowns want everybody disarmed and dependant on the gummint for protection. Screw that.

Shortly after I married my first wife, her mother wrote back to her family in Germany about the marriage, and that she was moving to Oklahoma City with me. Mother-in-law'd sent them a map of Texas, where they lived, years before so they could see the places they went on trips. Shortly after notice of the move, they wrote back that OKC wasn't on the map, was it a new city? Mother-in-law wrote back that it was in the next state north and included a U.S. map. The shocked response was 'All that is ONE country?!?', matters of scale make a difference also.

I'm all for mutual understanding, it's just that understanding does not mean you have to change yourself according to someone else's thoughts.

Fine writers

Of columns, that is.

There are a number of people out there who do wonderful things with words. One I mentioned before, James Lileks. One of the others is Mark Steyn. For the first time he had a column for the London Telegraph pulled. I don't agree with that, but I can see why the column made a lot of people unhappy. It deals with a harsh subject: basically, shut up and die like a man, and family members should not cause more problems.

It is a harsh matter to deal with. Someone taken hostage, being abused and taped for publicity, then murdered. From what I understand, the dirtbags kept this man alive for a while precisely because he made statements critical of the British government, and his family helped.

Damn few people can know without question how they'd react in such a position, but I would hope they I could behave more like Fabrizio Quattrocchi. There died a man.

I once truly upset a friend of mine with a comment on the 23rd Psalm. I said that here is a warrior at peace with his God and himself, speaking his words as he moves into battle, prepared to die and unworried by it. She really didn't like that; she's one of the 'peace at any price' people, violence is always bad and should never be used no matter what. The idea that someone could someone could march toward death with peace and pride in their heart horrified her. Personally, the idea that you should quietly die or be a slave rather than fight, no matter what, is disgusting. 'Peace' is a fine thing; 'Freedom' a greater.

This brings me to pacifism. In some ways it seems a noble idea, but it doesn't work out that way. Being an actual pacifist means that in time of danger, you totally depend on others putting themselves in danger, 'dirtying their hands' with violence, to save you. And the 'I did not ask them to save me' line doesn't cut it. In a society that values the life of the individual, that values individual freedom, we cannot simply sit and see someone beaten or tortured or murdered because they say, "I don't want to be protected". We cannot say that these people can be safely beaten or killed because they don't want us to act, it would set the precedent that, as a matter of policy, not all will get protection from attack or harm because they are a different class of citazen, and not all get full protection. That is an abhorrent idea, and a society that will tolerate it as a matter of course is in the toilet.

We had that as both a matter of law and as custom in some areas for a long time; blacks were not real citazens. Hell, to many they were not real people. And that attitude is still causing problems. It's getting beaten down, and it stopped being a matter of law long ago. Same with Chinese and Japanese in some areas. No society that really gives a damn about the individual can allow it to be a matter of policy to make some people, for race or religeon or place of ancestral orgin or personal philosophy, second-class citazens.

So we cannot allow the "don't ever fight for me" attitude to cause us to let anyone be given less protection than others. And we cannot allow ourselves to be attacked with impunity because some people don't like the idea of us fighting back. And pacifists, whether they admit it or not, count on the protection of others for their very survival. Bunch of freeloaders.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Oh, my God

Read this article about the latest mass grave finding in Iraq. There are two particular things in this that get to me. First is:
"One trench contains only women and children while another contains only men. The body of one woman was found still clutching a baby. The infant had been shot in the back of the head and the woman in the face."

Second is:
"Mr Kehoe said that work to uncover graves around Iraq, where about 300,000 people are thought to have been killed during Saddam Hussein's regime, was slow as experienced European investigators were not taking part.
The Europeans, he said, were staying away as the evidence might be used eventually to put Saddam Hussein to death. "

Babies and mothers and men and children murdered by the hundreds, but them sophisticated Europeans know what's important. Can't be involved in anything that might lead to a death penalty for the one responsible. After all, the wogs are long dead, so we can't dirty our fingers by doing something that might cause a mass murderer to be hanged, now can we? And they were Kurds, anyway, really troublesome wogs.

Next time someone tells me I should really worry about the opinions of the Europeans, I may piss on their shoes. These people don't worry about the murders of CHILDREN! but we're supposed to act in accordance with what they say is right. Bullshit.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004


I started using this term to refer to people who, short version, think more of bugs and trees than humans. Also, those who are a walking contradiction.

My best example was when they were towing the Exxon Valdez back to port. There were people in small boats all over the harbor waving signs and blowing horns, and a news crew was talking to three clowns from Greenpeace. They were in their Zodiac(largely plastic, petroleum product), wearing their cold/wet weather gear(synthetics, mostly if not all petroleum products), being propelled around the harbor by an outboard motor( fueled with gas/oil mix, petroleum products), and the one doing the talking was saying that "this ship is a dinosaur, fossil fuels are dead', etc. Dipsticks riding in/covered with stuff from fossil fuels, and makes that statement.


I also get tired of these clowns talking about fuel cells and wind power and 'alternative fuels' and wanting to get rid of gas & diesel NOW! None of those things can take the place of fossil fuels, they have no capability of doing so for a long time if ever, and they scream like stuck pigs if you even mention the use of nuclear power for electricity.

Find an alternative fuel that can be used in standard or slightly modified gas & diesel engines, that is comparably priced, that is as or prefereably more efficient & cleaner than gas & diesel, and the world will beat a path to your door and then kick it down to throw money at you. And people are working on it. But until someone makes a breakthrough, we're stuck with fossil fuels, and could make a big difference in electrical output with nuclear.

PLEASE prove me wrong! Find something better, I'd love you to.

A new species found?

I love stuff like this; in or nearby an area researchers have been tramping through for years, something possibly entirely new is found.

It always amazes me when people say, "If it was there, we'd have found it by now". May sound good, but not true.
And sometimes it has been found, but the scientists just don't know it. A couple of years ago my daughter was reading some new information about the ceolocanth, a fish though extinct for millions of years until they found out fishermen off eastern Africa occasionally caught them. I had recently been found that they were also caught, not that rarely, off the coast of India. One of her friends is from India; she saw the picture and said, "Those things taste terrible!" Seems they were often found in the fish markets, but the people studying the things thought they only existed in the one area off Africa.

The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge near Lawton has a big wilderness area that is restricted access. Hunters and the occasional campers had occasionally reported seeing mountain lions. "Horsecrap" was the official verdict, they were extinct in the area. Until one of the rangers, back in that area one day, saw one kill a deer.

I've a great-uncle who lives down in southeast OK, and he says he's seen wolves back in the woods. Everyone tells me nonsense, he's seeing coyotes. Knowing Ray, I think there are wolves there.

Giant octopus? Why not? There was a report I once read of one attacking an ship in the Indian Ocean(I believe; it's been a long time since I read it). There were witness reports from people on other ships, including British Navy officers, who would generally not put a BS story in their ship's log. I took the information to school and showed it to the biology teacher, who had me report it to the class. All were amazed until I said the date, 1890-something. It was as though if it didn't happen now, it could not be accurate or true.

I like the idea of undiscovered, or not officially discovered, critters roaming around. It adds to life.

Followup: I mentioned Peter Capstick before. Writing specifically on leopards, he had a number of stories about how a big cat can live in an area and nobody knows it. Among other cases, the pair that were living in the maintenance tunnels of a stadium, staying fat on rats, cats, dogs and such. Somebody just happened to catch sight of one of them one day; they'd apparently been living there for months.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Gun shows

I like gun shows. Kim du Toit refers to them as Evil Loophole Gun Shows (ELGS for short) since they upset the delicate feelings of the Gun-Fearing Wussies (GFW). I like to look at all the stuff, I like to find parts or cleaning stuff I need, or reloading stuff, or books, or knives (yes, I make knives. There's still some nice stuff out there, and aside from colonial styles I do not make folders). Ammunition, clothing, medical stuff, at a good show you can find damn near anything.

One especially nice one is the Wanenmacher's Tulsa Arms Show. Held twice a year in Tulsa, OK, and it's bloody HUGE! Acres of tables; guns, parts, accessories, knives, gunsmithing & knifemaking tools, hunting stuff, camping stuff, survival stuff, books, ammo... Oh, it's marvelous! Best of all is to take the whole weekend, because you really need two days if you want to take your time. If can only do one day, get there when it opens so you have all day. A friend and I are planning to be there one day, and we've got a cart for all the stuff he wants to take; some to trade or sell, and some he's looking for parts for, and one or two he just wants to show to some people we'll meet there.

If you're near Tulsa that weekend, you should go if you can. Mostly what I'd like to find is a couple of parts, and some ammo. But I'll find some cleaning stuff, and maybe some odd collectable ammo, maybe a knife or a book or two...

I need more money and room.

House troubles

Ever noticed that when you have a problem, either you'll have several or a friend will also have something blow up/break?

I spent the day with a heating/ac crew in the house. A week ago I decided I should have the heater checked before I actually needed it, and was informed there was nothing wrong with it that a new furnace wouldn't take care of. So while they were taking out the furnace anyway, the a/c guy suggested I go ahead and replace the coil; since it was about as old as the furnace, would probably be a good idea to take care of it now. Very good idea, as it happens, since the old one was shot. And some of the ductwork was cracked...

Overall I'm happy. I don't have to worry about the furnace this winter, I don't have to worry about the coil come spring, and they replaced the ductwork at no additional charge. From what I can tell, good work and they cleaned up after themselves.

While I was dealing with this, a friend had the following: turned on the disposal and it fell off; turned off the shower, and the knob broke off; it rained, his roof leaked and part of his ceiling collapsed. Ain't it all fun?

Monday, October 11, 2004

Political stuff

Found, at Little Green Footballs, links to several good pieces.
On 'Who is Recruiting for Osama?', from Orson Scott Card.

On the last debate, 'It was a face-off without their faces on' from Mark Steyn.

And on the crap CBS news is trying to pull, 'CBS still parsing the truth' from Michael Goodwin. On this last, the stubbornness and arrogance is almost unbelievable; "We're CBS! You will listen to us and ignore all criticism from fools who are not professional journalists! Only WE know the truth!" Keep going, guys, you'll sink the whole place yet.

Terrorist as nuisances?

The Volokh Conspiracy has a post about the absolutely insane statement John Kerry made about how to deal with terrorism.

Maybe this idiot thinks we can push the terrorists down 'till they're nothing but a 'nuisance', but somehow this dumb Okie doubts it. Maybe because they keep talking about killing us all?

If I didn't know people who believe this, I wouldn't believe a U.S. Senator could say such a thing.

Old firearms

Head's Bunker has a nice post on old rifles, and some of the nice things about them. Overall, I have to agree. I've held a No. 4, MK1 Enfield, dated 1942, with a series of small 'x' markings along the bottom of the buttstock. Pacific Theatre, or India-Burma, or Europe? What might those markings mean, and what all has this piece been a witness to?

Right now there are some Martini-Henry rifles available, and if I had the money I'd be on the phone to make the order. It might be something that went straight to Nepal, or it might have seen service anywhere from Africa to God knows where. If I got one, I'd damn well find ammo to shoot it with; fairly straightforward to reload, and I could not own something like this without shooting it.

Link found at Alphecca

Remember, National Ammo Day/Week is Coming!

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Australia's election and the screaming from down under

I'd been aware of the split in Oz between the two major sides in the election, at least as nasty as the split here. Earlier I was looking at Whacking Day, reading the various letters and what can only be described as screaming and whining tirades about Howard's victory.

I think what really bothers me most about this, same as a lot of the noise at places like democraticunderground, is the attitude: if you don't vote the way we say you should, you are EVIL! Not in error, not mistaken, not posessed of a different opinion, YOU ARE EVIL! You want everybody to DIE! YOU are a Racist and a Bigot and must be DESTROYED! Etc.

I'm really tired of this crap. Every time I see a sign or bumper sticker that says "Democrats Care" I want to scream. Obviously, if you're not one of us, you don't care about things. I'm really sick of these clowns thinking that they have some kind of monopoly on concern for others, a monopoly on emotions(except hate, of course, the conservatives/republicans/anyone-not-a-progressive-thinker have all of THAT).

When I first registered to vote, I registered as a Democrat. Main reason was, as my mom put it, "If you're not, you'll never get to vote in the primaries", because there were rarely any Republicans running in local stuff. It's where I first ran into the attitude, "I don't care if he's a drunk/thief/incompetent/fool/liar, he's the Party Candidate, so I'll vote for him". I came to absolutely detest that attitude, and finally registered as Republican; I didn't have any particular liking for that party, it was just my way of protesting the virtual stranglehold the D party had in Oklahoma.

I still think that anyone who votes solely according to party is hanging a sign over their head that says "I have no need for a brain, I don't need to think; the Party does that for me!" That may be a good working line in Cuba, or in the Peoples Republic of China, but it's a damn lousy way for a free citazen of a country to think.

One of the things that used to drive me crazy was the way people would continue to vote for a party's candidate even though he was pushing ideas they hated; the most important thing was he was the party candidate; that trumped all else. That has been changing. Like Zell Miller, a lot of people who've been D's all their lives have been voting more for R's precisely because they can no longer stomach what the D party has become. The same thing has happened/is happening with the R's, and it's driving a lot of discontent with Bush. He's gone way over the line on spending in many cases, and been far too willing to play the 'let us talk nice about people, no matter what' game, been too willing to compromise on things in order to get along. I understand that there's often compromise involved, but when you compromise on serious things just to get along, that is a big problem. It's why I dropped my membership in the NRA and joined the GOA; they're a lItalicot less willing to play that game.

There's an example of the difference in the two sides when it comes to 2nd amendment rights.

FOR THE MOST PART, people fighting to preserve those rights acknowledge that those on the other side have good intentions; they have the wrong idea, but they do indeed want a good outcome. But most of the anti-gun ownership people seem to have a different idea; the NRA is an evil group that doesn't care if people die, as long as the protect the gun industry; gun owners are a bunch of racist fools who don't understand that guns are bad and we need to get rid of them; and the government will take care of you so you don't need a gun. It's the attitude that bothers me most, that same 'if you don't agree with us, you are either evil or a fool'. And whether it's about guns or everyday politics, I'm damn tired of it.