Monday, October 20, 2008

Lesson learned at Oktoberfest

When wandering around a Bravian themed tourist town in the middle of Oktoberfest, one should not absentmindedly begin whistling Die Fahne Hoch.

More on the whole weekend later, when I catch up on work, housework, and school stuff.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Universal Sufferage

...And why it's bugging me.

Some people should not be allowed to vote. At bare minimum potential voters should have to pass a civics test. Seriously, if YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW HOW MANY STATES WE HAVE, YOU HAVE NO BUSINESS PARTICIPATING IN THE GOVERNANCE OF THIS COUNTRY! If you don't know what a particular candidate is for and against, you should not be able to vote for them. These ignorant, lazy 'citizens' are the reason every political campaign always ends up looking like a high school popularity contest.

Seriously, how is anyone with two brain cells to rub together going to believe that the people Howard Stern's show interviewed aren't voting for Obama because he's black? They we're completely wrong on his policies and even who he picked for VP, but they're all for him. Or maybe they're just hungry for the sweet draught of Hope'n-Change (TM). They don't know anything that actually matters about what is going on, but they're pulling for Obama. I'm willing to bet there are some pulling for McCain/Palin too, just because his VP is a woman.

Does anyone who actually has any business having an opinion still oppose some additional requirement for suffrage? I don't mean that sarcastically either. Are there any well-informed, critically thinking, and literate people out there, who still want the lazy, the ignorant, and the irrational to be able to vote?

All I want is a written civics test. Some basic stuff like how the electoral college works, what a bicameral legislative is, what powers the executive does and doesn't have (that'd be the big one for most people), and maybe, I dunno, some basic idea of what our country is and who is running it. I know it would be opposed as a literacy test, which are verboten, but I think it's about time we got rid of that rule. To be illiterate in this day and age means you are either A.) an immigrant, in which case following naturalization you can take the test with a proctor reading the questions, or B.) too lazy, too stupid, or too cool to have learned in school, in which case... shouldn't get to vote.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The pitter patter of little jack booted feet

They came for Jessica, and we will not be silent.

Jessica Hughes of Lufkin, Texas, former Marine, mother of three, answered her cell phone in the car, coming home from the emergency room. Her 9-year-old had suffered a mild concussion, but was OK.

The caller was a female Obama volunteer who asked if Jessica would support Obama for president.

Jessica replied, "No, I don't support him. Your guy is a socialist who voted four times in the state Senate to let little babies die in hospital closets; I think you should find something better to do with your time." Then Jessica hung up.

The next day, a man and a woman in suits showed up at the door of her home, identifying themselves as members of the Secret Service.

That should get you wondering a bit. Go read the article, I'll wait.

I honestly doubt that they were real Secret Service agents, but whether they were or not the point is that the Obama campaign is embarked on a deliberate campaign of intimidation. Whether by misleading the real SS or sending lackeys to intimidate, the effect is the same. Let's not forget the radio stations threatened with litigation if they aired the NRA's ads which do nothing worse than point out how anti-gun Obama is. Can't have the chosen one's actual views get in the way of his coronation, can we?

My wife received a cold call from the Obama campaign yesterday, coincidentally. She expressed her opinion rather eloquently and included such phrases as, "No freaking way." Does that mean we could get a visit letting us we're know under suspicion?

If so, they better have SS credentials, which I'll make sure to write down the details of. If they don't, well then, they may just get provoked into a good old ass kicking.

This is still the United States, damnit. My colleagues and I didn't wear the uniform so some leg breaker from the city of dirty politics could intimidate and silence his opposition. Not now, not ever.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

100 things every man should know how to do

So Popular Mechanics recently posted a list of one hundred skills every man should have. Predictably the usual suspects have gotten all over the comments section, these skills don't apply to me, why isn't it for men and women, blah blah blah. As if everything written everywhere has to be appropriate for everyone. Whatever, there are some skills that some people, like me for instance, simply expect men to have. Not to say women cannot have them, they just don't have to.

Of course, I had a few objections over some of the included list and would have added a few different things. Since I don't really feel like blogging about politics, I've decided to make my own list with theirs as a starting point.

I'll start by outlining what I'd specifically object to and why.

"Using a stick welder." Certainly a useful skill, but your average automotive maintenance task won't require it. To wit, I've never used one and I've done all kinds of things to/for various vehicles, including Humvees and 800+ foot Navy vessels.

"Use a sewing machine." Not so much that I object to men needing to know how to sew, but it doesn't have to be a machine. I've mended all kinds of tears, rents, etc and sewed on uniform patches and never used a sewing machine. Hand sewing is FINE.

"Home brew beer." Again, a nice thing to know, but not really necessary or expected.

"Change a single pole switch." If every man knew how to safely work on a home's electrical wiring, then electricians would soon be out of work. Besides, being able to safely work with wiring is a professional skill, not something just anyone can do.

The 'Military' skills listed; "Shine shoes," "Make a drum tight bed," and "Drop and do a perfect pushup," seems largely unnecessary in normal life. Sure, I can do all three simultaneously...asleep, but I was actually in the military. I'd think a reasonably well made bed and the ability to shine dress shoes would be good enough.

"Skipper a boat." Maybe operate small watercraft I could agree with, but actual skippering requires USCG certifications, etc. Seems a bit much.

"Tackle steep drops on a mountain bike
." Why? Seriously. If you DO mountain bike, then yeah, obviously, but otherwise, wtf?

Under teach your kids; "Throw a spiral," and "Fly a stunt kite." Again, why? Maybe your kids don't like football and kites? How about "Be able to teach your kids to do the things you both enjoy?" I could get behind that. I'm teaching mine Jujitsu and how to shoot.

"Calibrate HDTV settings
." How about a more broad, "Know how to use, set, and set-up electronics you own."?

Under 'Master key workshop skills' are...actually nothing I really disagree with.

The amusing part is, other than home brewing beer, I actually know how to do everything on the list, and I'm learning the brewing.

So, here's the list I would make:

1. Simple to intermediate level preventative and corrective automotive maintenance. Brakes, fluids, belts, batteries, spark plugs, etc.
2. Be able to courteously and safely drive in heavy traffic.
3. Drive in adverse conditions such as snow, ice, heavy rain, or off road and safely handle a blow out.
4. Jump starting a car.
5. Hitching and driving with a trailer, especially parking.
6. Park in the middle of a given spot.

7. Know basic first aid
8. Treat hypothermia and heat trauma
9. Master treatment of ailments common to your specific location and profession. For example, an electrical plant worker should be an expert in treating electrical shock and someone living in Death Valley should be able to treat heat stroke while sleeping.
10. Escape a sinking car and assisting other passengers
11. Use fire extinguishers and evacuate a burning building

Around the house:
12. Carve a turkey
13. Be able to sew, either with a machine or by hand
14. Make a fire and safely put one out in any situation
15. Do laundry, including removing stains, ironing, and folding
16. Move heavy stuff without injury or damage
17. Grow food, including knowing what will grow locally and how to keep pests away
18. Read utility meters
19. Shovel, to clear paths, driveways, etc and to make holes
20. Solder wire
21. Mud, patch, and tape drywall
22. Split and stack firewood
23. Perform basic plumbing repairs. Trap cleaning, toilet flappers, washers, etc
24. Mix, form, and lay concrete
25. Paint a straight line
26. Use a chef's knife, peel vegetables and potatoes, make a salad, and cook a modest repertoire of meals
27. Prune bushes and small trees
28. Fell a tree
29. Replace a broken windowpane
30. Set up a ladder and work from it, safely
31. Sweat copper tubing
32. Change a diaper, feed and burp a baby and comfort one when crying
33. Grill with charcoal
34. Fold a flag
35. Shine shoes and dress presentably/professionally
36. Make a bed and maintain cleanliness in the home

37. Exercise within personal limitations and maintain fitness
38. Use a knife, both as a tool and as a weapon
39. Maintain constant situational awareness
40. Evaluate a threat
41. De-escalate a confrontation, especially verbally
42. Fight unarmed and with improvised weapons
43. Break out of a hold or joint lock when surprised
44. Defend your home and loved ones
45. Judge if a given battle is hopeless, and make an informed decision whether or not to fight it
46. Walk away whenever it's necessary and know when it is
47. Shoot accurately whether hunting, practicing, competing, or fighting for your life
48. Carry a handgun, concealed. In other words, not letting others know you have one

49. Run rapids in a canoe
50. Store food safely in the wild
51. Escape a rip current
52. Build or find a shelter in the wilderness
53. Find potable water
54. Survive floods, tornados, cold, heat, lightning, and any disaster specific to your location

Teach your kids (which means you have to know how to do them in the first place, presumably):
55. How to act
56. How to do the things you mutually enjoy
57. To form an informed opinion on an issue
58. To argue a position with facts and logic
59. About your system of government
60. Literature
61. History
62. To debate politely
63. How to argue in a hostile manner and when to do so
64. Honor and what it means
65. Duty and why it matters
66. To drive, stick and automatic
67. To swim
68. Hunting
69. Personal responsibility

70. Install hardware and software in a computer
71. Take decent pictures
Know how to use, set, and set-up electronics you own
73. Shoot a home movie
74. Ditch a hard drive
75. Keep your computer secure and malware free

Workshop skills:
76. Drill driver
77. Grease gun
78. Coolant hydrometer
79. Socket wrench
80. Test light
81. Brick trowel
82. Framing hammer
83. Wood chisel
84. Spade bit
85. Circular saw
86. Sledge hammer
87. Hacksaw
88. Torque wrench
89. Air wrench
90. Infrared thermometer
91. Sand blaster
92. Crosscut saw
93. Hand plane
94. Multimeter
95. Feeler gauges

96. Manage finances and balance a checkbook
97. Stay calm and be reassuring
98. Tell a joke or story
99. Paint, both indoors and outdoors
100. Take and follow orders as well as give them

Friday, October 3, 2008

Poetry Corner

Fire and Ice

Some say the world will end in fire;
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
-Robert Frost

This is how democracy dies...

...not to cries of acrimony and outrage, but to thunderous applause on the floor of the House.

Oh, I'm over-reacting, am I? If you think so, you haven't been paying attention. For over a week every Representative in support of the bailout has told the media that their offices have been swamped with letters, phonecalls, and e-mails from their constituents. This is a quote, "They've been split about 50/50 between 'No' and 'Hell no!'" This last delivered with a smugly superior smirk that seemed to just scream, "We know better than you do."

I understand that no one can expect our elected reps to be nothing more than voting apparatus of the people, that they are expected to bring a bit more expertise and calmer heads to the voting, but this is a blatant flaunting of the will of the people.

When our government so blatantly ignores the will of the people, resting assured that they know what's best for us, they can no longer be truly considered representative. Can they? Of bloody course not!

The worst part is the ones who talked to the media after the failure of the first bill, saying how the people are simply being vindictive towards Wall Street and that they would, foolishly it's implied, by willing to go to the bread line for it. That kind of unthinking arrogance permeates our elected 'Representatives.'

And why shouldn't it? After all, the recent record of the voters shows that our attention span for Congressional voting is shorter than an episode of American Idol. We'll vote on what they say in their campaigns about the war and the economy, etc, but pay no attention to the fact that in the past they've voted differently.

Of course, the question is, why would so many vote for something they knew was unpopular? At the very least, people like me will call them to task for it, what did they gain? Ask yourself this, who is funneling more money into their re-election coffers? We the People, or those same damn companies, who were so recently in dire financial straights? Of course we know the answer to that, don't we.

I'd love to know how much of that seven hundred Billion (BILLION) ends up going to re-election campaigns.

Tell you what I'm gonna do, I'm gonna try to get a hold of the complete list of who voted for that thing in both houses (yes, I know that should be capitalized, but F*** 'em).

Toss the bastards out in '08, '10 and '12.

Irate Wifey update

Following an unexpected upper GI scope on Tuesday, Wifey went in for laproscopic gall bladder removal on Wednesday. Still no solid diagnosis as to what the problem was, but everything except the gall bladder had been removed as a cause, so it had to go.

For the first time in weeks she's able to eat without a sharp, spasming pain in her abdomen. Now it's just a matter of trying to keep her from trying to do housework or anything else that might aggravate her still healing body. Not an easy task as she's stubborn enough to marry me and drugged to the gills on top of that. Oh well.

A hubby's job is never done.

Also, the reason I still wasn't around yesterday is that I had my finals, which I never did get to study for, because I still hadn't had sufficient time to finish my research paper which was due a week ago. Luckily the instructor knew what was going on and cut me a lot of slack.