Sunday, July 31, 2016

Well, That Was Disappointing

My man Gary Johnson has come out against religious freedom. Some Libertatian he turned out to be. Even Reason has reason to call foul.
If the state is going to suppress somebody's right to religious expression, it better make sure there's no other way to get what it wants.
And then they hit the nail on the head.
All in all, Johnson's position on religious freedom ends up coming across as though it's based on a fear that it's going to lead to outcomes that he finds detestable and not an analysis on principles that guide his thoughts.
Too bad they didn't hit Gary on the head and knock some sense into him. Who's he to say what I believe is detestable? The whole point of being Libertarian is the ability to live my life the way I want ad to tell the government to go away. I really don't need to pay attention to the opinions of idiots who have helped weaken the traditional family, consequently creating mountains of social problems.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

An Insect Question For Tim

A tiny bug landed in my wife's wine. She fished it out, but it looked like it was in a bad way. How long would it take for an insect to get a hangover?

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Cat

Our Maximum Leader is practically invisible!

Friday, July 29, 2016

The World Is At Peace

... and the recent attacks are just isolated incidents. It's kind of like Russia in 1941. I mean, just look at this map.

How peaceful! There was no war to be seen at all.
In fact if we zoom out, we see the same ... err ... well ...

On second thought, it looks like there was a whole lot of fighting going on. Hmm.
Well, fortunately, we live in the year 2016 where the world is pretty stable. Oh, sure, there are a few attacks being carried out by extremists, but on the whole, things are peaceful. Take a look at this map showing Islamic attacks over the past few decades. (Here's the awesome Google map with all of the data.)

Practically no violence at all!
Now, if we zoom out, we'll see the same ...err ... umm ... well ...

Actually, it looks like a world war with active fronts in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
What happens when the Taliban takes Afghanistan completely and those units are freed up to go on the offensive elsewhere?

Thursday, July 28, 2016

How Long Does It Take To Become An Electrical Engineer?

It takes about 23 years.

A friend of mine was on a talk show yesterday and the conversation wandered around to immigration. In this case, it was immigration laws for "extraordinary people" like Justin Bieber. It turns out that if you have a unique talent or skill, you come into the country through a different door than the poor, tired, unwashed, huddled masses with their goats. Something on the order of 84,000 of those are granted each year*.

The talk show host wondered why we were importing extraordinary people when we had so many here at home who only lacked an opportunity. The assertion was that with a little money and some schooling, there were plenty of Americans who could do the jobs those 84,000 were being brought in to do.

They can't, not most of them, no matter how much talent they've got. It's not about schooling or money, it's about parenting. Most of the underclass comes from broken homes. Without a father in the house, things go sideways for most children right from the start.

You can't fix a lousy foundation on your house with $5,000 of paint, wallpaper and new flowers in the garden. If the base is rotten, you're in for a long, expensive renovation process.

Houses are easier to fix than people. Houses don't fight you as you repair them. If a house is in a bad neighborhood, it makes no difference. Houses aren't subject to peer pressure. Even if every other house on the block is a mess, you can take one of them and restore it, given enough concentrated time and effort.

It's a fixer-upper!
The amount of concentrated time and effort to take a child who has been raised in a broken home and get them to the point where they are equipped to take advantage of opportunities is sizable. If they come from a neighborhood where there are almost no intact families, it's much harder. If they come from communities where there is almost no living memory of an intact family, you might as well give up and seek to get them to re-enter civilization by restoring traditional marriage and punting on the "extraordinary" part, hoping the next generation can reach that goal.

See also: Oakland.

* - My numbers may be muddled, that's just what I remember hearing them say and i don't feel like looking it up right now.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Why Acknowledging Islamic Extremism Is Crucial

At Mass this Sunday, we heard from a missionary who worked in Nigeria. She had helped build hospitals and schools and improved access to food for the poor. In the last few years, however, Boko Haram, the Islamic terror group, had destroyed much of what the Nigerians had built. They sacked villages, killed the men and enslaved the women and children. They had blown up Catholic churches at the rate of about one per week.

Think about that last one. A prolonged, weekly campaign of Catholic church bombings. How long could that go on before a serious dent in the availability of churches occurred? After 20? After 40? That's not a lone wolf slicing the head off a French priest, that's war.

Therein lies the point. This is a global war with an ideology, not a scattered, marginally connected series of psychotics acting out. Defeating ISIS in Iraq is a good thing, but it does nothing to stop Boko Haram or any of the other groups. The recent spate of killings in Europe are terrible, but they're even worse when you connect them, appropriately, with the Islamic offensives in Libya, Egypt, Nigeria, Yemen and elsewhere.

We're not fighting ISIS, we're fighting a brand of Islam. If you can't admit that, the public won't harden itself for the long struggle. When capturing a few more towns in Iraq doesn't put an end to the killings around the world, what happens?

When you accomplish a goal and it doesn't lead to the rewards you expected, it's exhausting. When you accomplish a subordinate goal along a path you already knew existed, you don't expect everything to change. You've got to define the enemy if you're going to lay out that path for he public.

Finally, dig the table below. In France, 20% of young Muslims are pretty much OK with suicide bombings. Think that's localized to Europe? In the US, the number is 15%. That's less, but it's still 1 in 6. With numbers like that, you've got a decent-sized, ideologically-prepared recruiting pool to do some serious damage.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Sometimes I Think We Deserve To Lose

Allahu akbar is Arabic for "I am unsure of my motives."

Monday, July 25, 2016

Weaponizing Refugees

... and I don't mean by giving them weapons.

Turkey is now an Islamic dictatorship.

Aside: Is that on the right side of history, as the progressives would say? I can't tell. We supported Erdogan during the coup because he was democratically elected, but it looks like those were the last real elections that will be held in Turkey for a long, long time. Was he on the right side of history during the coup and now he's on the wrong side? Inquiring minds want to know.

Back to the post: Turkey has a huge number of Islamic refugees and can pick up more any time it wants. It is strategically situated on the traditional invasion route for such people with plenty of avenues into Europe. With practically limitless light infantry at its disposal, none of which are its own citizens and whose lives therefore count for almost nothing, why not push the global caliphate along by sending them into Europe to be fruitful and multiply?

Today, Greece and Bulgaria. Tomorrow, all of Europe!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Great Eggplant Massacre Of 2016

... continues apace. Today, I bought a tray of 6 eggplant of 3 different varieties. I bought them at Home Depot along with a few other things. I walked over to where my wife had parked the car while she shopped at a nearby store. We packed everything in the car and drove off.

Everything but the eggplant.

By now, it's lying dead on the sidewalk outside of Marshall's. The total number of eggplant that I have killed is up to 10 for the year.

Keep Portland Weird

On Twitter, I follow the Magic Realism Bot, the output of a computer program that generates random story ideas. About 1 in 5 are really good; most are yawners. The good ones make up for the filler. This one seemed almost reasonable, given Portland's reputation.
Here's a bonus tweet suggesting the power of collectivism over magic.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

It's Caturday!

And how better to celebrate than to post a photo of our Maximum Leader, Maddi?

I think I've blogged before that she is the wiggliest cat I've ever met. Getting a good picture of her is nearly impossible because as soon as she thinks you're paying attention to her, she gets up and starts wriggling around in pleasure. She has a very loud purr, too, so there's a low rumbling noise accompanying her head bumps and rubbing as she careens from one object in the room to another.

I'll try to get a decent video of that to share later. In the meantime, happy Caturday to all!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Save Time, Save Money - Plant Eggplant!

... because they die immediately instead of hanging on for a while, causing you to waste your time trying to save them.

4 days after planting them, our egglplant (top 2 plants in the photo) are toast.
Yum! Toasted eggplant!
We typically struggle to raise eggplant. They're prone to insect attack and need regular bathing with Neem Oil to keep their leaves from being rasped into oblivion. We can usually get them to survive long enough to produce a bit, but these cut out the middleman and died almost immediately, being both rasped to bits and baked in the sun.

Note the two basil, doing just fine. It's not that we've got brown thumbs. All of our other plants are doing great. No, it's the eggplant. I swear we'd do better if we simply dumped them into a lit Weber grill right when we brought them home and didn't even bother planting them.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Grass Spider

We found this big brute trapped in one of our sinks the other day. Before dealing with it, I took a couple of photos with my Samsung Galaxy S7. Macro photography of insects can be tricky even with a DSLR, but the phone managed to take some splendid shots. I left this particularly large, so I think it's definitely worth a click.


Grass Spider, genus Agelenopsis

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


How can they have loins? They don't even have legs. They're fish.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Coming Apart On CNN

Charles Murray's fantastic book, Coming Apart, describes how the US has bifurcated into two, almost non-intersecting worlds. In the book, he creates fictional locales to illustrate the two sides, one is blue collar Fishtown and the other is professional, upscale Belmont. The people living in Belmont have lost touch with the way the rest of the world lives, but they still think they know what's best for everyone.

Coming Apart was one of those books that changed the way I saw the world. For example, check out as much as you can stomach of the ignorant Don Lemon of CNN arguing with Sheriff David Clarke over the recent cop killings by BLM folks.

Lemon is upscale Belmont, Clarke is blue collar Fishtown. He might not have a Harvard degree, but Clarke thoroughly understands crime and poverty. He spends a lot of his time working in the worst areas of his city and he has been taught the latest methods of policing and crime analysis. Lemon is a highly-paid talking head for one of the major networks. It's doubtful that he has visited a police station or prison lately. I would bet he doesn't even drive through the worst neighborhoods, much less know them intimately like Clarke.

And yet, he tries to lecture Clarke about crime. He thinks his suits, degrees and status make him the intellectual superior of the sheriff.

That, in a nutshell, is a big source of tsunami of discontent sweeping the nation and the one that drove Brexit. Credentialed, educated experts telling the rest of us not only what to do, but feeding us rubbish that we know from lived experience to be lies.

We can't figure out the motives of the cop killings or the Islamic attacks? Are you serious? Of course we can. It's all there in front of us. Meanwhile, the elite go home to their gated communities, aghast at the ignorant morons they have the misfortune to try to manage.

Monday, July 18, 2016

So Much For Trump As A Negotiator

Wouldn't you think that an expert deal-maker and negotiator, with the biggest deal of his life on the line, could have worked with all sides, bringing them to the table, helping each get something they wanted in exchange for peace and harmony during his nominating convention?

He's a fraud. Thanks a lot, Trumpkins. We could have had Ted Cruz.
Update: So Melania's speech on day 1 of his convention was plagiarized from a Michelle Obama speech? Wow. Talk about hiring the best people. Trump's so good that he hired Barack Obama's speechwriters. Strong!

This Is Not 1968

... because in 1968, you may have had violence in the streets, but at least you had a cohesive family structure at home.

First, we took away fathers, now we want to take away the police? That's not going to end well.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Where Do Transgendered People Come From?

Like all the rest of us, they come from the heterosexual union of one man and one woman.

That's what struck me while pondering Connecticut's new regulations against genderism. What is genderism? Well, in one sense, it's the acknowledgement that all babies come from the union of one man and one woman. All of them. Every single one. With no exceptions. To take that fact and shape it into anything at all, according to the "experts" in Connecticut, is a bad thing.
According the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF), which published an LGBT glossary of more than 250 terms, the belief that there are only two genders — male and female — should be treated as “genderism.”

The guide, which was published as part of the DCF’s Safe Harbors Project and was last updated July 7, defines “genderism” as: “The system of belief that there are only two genders (men and women) and that gender is inherently tied to one’s sex assigned at birth. It holds cisgender people as superior to transgender people, and punishes or excludes those who don’t conform to society’s expectations of gender.”
My favorite bit is the definition of a term new to me, gender-gifted.
Gender gifted: a person whose capacity for gender expression exceeds the binary.
Wow, talk about gifted! I wonder if they have x-ray vision, too.

In any case, the Q&A that is the title of this post popped into my head and it occurred to me that a fundamental flaw in the whole gender equality movement is its consequence, which is this underlying concept: I love people, but I am indifferent towards babies.

Working backwards, here's my logic.
  • I am indifferent to sexual orientations / genders / sex acts /  whatever.
  • Since acts have consequences, I must be indifferent towards the consequences of gender identification.
  • Since babies are a consequence of one particular type of sex act, I must be indifferent towards babies.
  • Since all people start as babies, I must be indifferent towards the existence of people.
Working forwards, I get this.
  • People are unique and special creations.
  • All people start as babies, so babies are special as well.
  • All babies come from the union of one man and one woman, therefore that union is special above all others.
  • I can accept all lifestyles, but I cannot be indifferent towards their relative merits.
Anyway, that's as far as my thinking took me before I went outside and worked in our garden while listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd.

I like Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Bringing Your Family Together By Screaming At Them

... is probably not going to work. Dig this,

There haven't been any significant developments in the last couple of years that would lead to worsening race relations. Cops have been accidentally shooting people as long as there have been cops. Dittos for bad apples in the police force using their status to further some evil aim.

Black Lives Matter (BLM) is based upon hand-picking that statistic and its accompanying anecdotes over all others. If the stat chosen was murder rates as a function of race, we'd have Black Lives Get Your Act Together (BLGYAT) since blacks murder people at a rate roughly 4 times that of whites, resulting in thousands more deaths per year.

He who picks the scoring method picks the winner.

Why aren't murder rates the metric of choice? A half dozen blacks killed by cops is pretty bad, but 4,000 blacks killed by other blacks is far worse. Something tells me we chose our metric with an end goal in mind.

Each of us are aware of many of these metrics. We may not know the numbers, but we know the reality - only an idiot would try to walk through the worst parts of Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis ... When BLM and the progressive elites in politics, the media and academia scream at the rest of us that we're racist pigs, in the back of our minds, we're thinking, "Wait a minute. I don't feel like a racist. How can I be something and not know it? And what about all the things they're doing?"

The problem isn't the stat chosen, it's the word "they're." As soon as we break into races, we can all find stats that make us the best and "them" the worst. I would argue that ideas and behaviors matter, but race does not. That is, it's proper to ponder the relative merits of Islam, Catholicism and Atheism, but not black, white and Hispanic. The former have objective meaning, the latter have none.

So just how far do we want to take this race stuff? We're now at the point where some blacks, enraged by the cherry-picked metrics rubbed in their noses by BLM, have taken to shooting white cops. Starting a fight doesn't end it, the other side gets a say, too. How long before the Klan rises again, made up of whites fed up with this garbage? Search #altright on Twitter and you'll see plenty of it. If you think the elites are going to stop such a movement, look at Trump. They were supposed to stop him, too, because of his inappropriate remarks, but a large portion of the public decided otherwise.

BLM and #altright are both similarly evil. They only thrive because they feed their followers cherry-picked stats designed to enrage. So long as one or the other gets approving airtime from the elites, race relations are going to keep getting worse.

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Caliphate Is Coming To France

Marseilles is roughly 30% Muslim. I don't know the stats for Nice, but as Nice is nearby, it's reasonable to assume a similar population.

The Muslims in France are having babies. The French are not. That means that the newborns in Marseilles and Nice are probably split about 50-50. You can't have any more 21-year-olds in 20 years than you have 1-year-olds today. Marseilles and Nice are within sight of Muslim parity and then majority.

Modern warfare in the West is fought at the ballot box. A voting majority can impose their will on the rest of the population like an invading army. I'm sure there are constitutional limits to what elected officials can do in France, but they exist here, too, and they appear pretty easy to brush aside. Amendments 1, 2 and 5 are all threatened these days and not by wild-eyed radicals. The California constitution briefly included a definition of marriage that was struck down by judicial whim. In the post-modern, secular West, a constitution doesn't provide much protection when the majority wants to exert its power.

If I was a French father and husband in Marseilles or Nice, I'd be seriously looking at moving north. You make different calculations when you've got a family to protect than you do when you're a member of the political, artistic or academic elite. They can talk and talk and talk about multiculturalism and lone wolves and legal processes, but when it's your wife and children, those words mean nothing. That 50-50 split mentioned above isn't going to take 20 years if the French start fleeing north.

I can't think of a single place where the Muslims have a majority that hasn't established some form of Sharia. I wouldn't be surprised if there were some, I just can't think of them. That's where Marseilles and Nice are headed right now. If yesterday's attack starts French flight out of those cities, the Caliphate is coming to southern France sooner rather than later. In any case, it's coming eventually.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Kitchen Shelves

Fulfilling a request by Kelly for a photo of the shelves I made in our kitchen, here's the story.

We've lived in this house for about 7 years. For 6 1/2 of those, we had a trash compactor taking up space in the kitchen. We never, ever used it. I kept meaning to take it out and replace it with shelves and it took that long to finally get around to it.

Removing it was easy. Taking a sample cabinet door to a wood store was easy. Buying the 3/4" cherry plywood was expensive, $80 for a 4' x 8' sheet, but easy. Cutting the plywood was hard.

First, I don't own a table saw. I wish I did, but I don't. I had to cut the sheet into shelves with a circular saw. Meh. I bought a device that was supposed to hold it straight at a specific distance from an edge, but it didn't work well at all. I ended up trying to cut long, straight lines by hand.

Second, the opening isn't square in any way, shape or form. The front is narrower than the back and the bottom is narrower than the top. Whoever did our cabinets, they weren't top-notch craftsmen.

Luckily, I had more than enough cherry plywood, so I was able to cut until I got pieces that fit. Installing them was easy. Staining them was a dirty job, but likewise easy.

Putting a polyurethane coating on them was a bit more difficult and I did a poor job of it. There were tiny bubbles in the finish, but by this stage in the process, I was way behind schedule and I just wanted to get the shelves in and go on to something else. Instead of sanding out the bubbles and doing another coat, I tossed them in and put pots and pans on them. You can tell I'm an amateur if you run your hands over their surfaces, but otherwise, I think they look pretty good.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

It's Hard To Be A Moron These Days

I've been struggling to process all of the violence and rancor that's been front and center in the news lately. Whether that's BLM and Obama raging about whitey or Trump howling about Mexican rapists, all I can think is, "What are we doing?"

I've dropped a few atomic bombs on myself during my lifetime. I've made tragically stupid decisions that have led to long-term problems. My blunders are many orders of magnitude larger in importance than anything anyone else has done to me. And by the way, when other people have "done things to me" it's almost always been because I put myself in a bad position.

Whatever my race might be and whatever the race of the people "doing things to me" might have been, those factors were inconsequential compared to my being a moron.

To review, I offer this one-question quiz.

In America, life is hardest on ____________.

A. Blacks
B. Whites
C. Hispanics
D. Gays
E. Transgendered Eskimos
F. Morons

Leave your answers in the comments. I'll have your quizzes graded by next class. The quiz counts as 5% of your grade this semester.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

President Carnac

Members of our police force are adrift in a sea of ignorance for they don't think they're racist. In fact, for almost all of them, there's no evidence they are racist at all as they put their lives on the line to protect us regardless of race. Our president, however, can see in a way that no other can see. He can divine what is in their hearts even though it is hidden to the police themselves. He sees the institutional racism, hovering over the police like a fog, governing their every action in mystical and subtle ways.

How magnificent is our President Carnac! How blessed are we that he shares his insights with us!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Nixxing More Built-In Shelves

With our sons moved out, we're re-purposing rooms. My new study has a long wall that is begging for bookshelves and my collection of Arthurian Legends books needs to be displayed again. After building closet built-in bookshelves where I played with colors and making some new shelves in the kitchen where I used cherry plywood with stain and polyurethane, I've been tempted to give it a try in my study.


Look at the picture below from the excellent Home Depot DIY page on building shelves.
When you buy bookshelves from a store, those holes have been drilled by a machine. Given the size of my wall and the number of shelves it will hold, I would be drilling and drilling and drilling and drilling and ...

Well, you get the picture. A full day would be spent doing what a machine does in a few minutes. If I use inexpensive materials, I might come out a little bit ahead in terms of dollar costs, but the wasted labor hours would instantly obliterate any savings. Unless I plan to use materials like cherry and make shelves that are top-notch, I'm wasting my time building these myself. I'm a complete amateur at woodworking, so top-notch is out of the question unless I plan to spend a lot of time re-doing work that ends up sub-par.

Buying pre-made bookshelves is definitely the answer. If I want different and funky, I can always go to a consignment shop and get some antiques.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Completed Garage Workbench

Yesterday, one of our boys came over and helped me construct my dream workbench. The thing is built like a battleship. The legs are twinned 2x4s which are stronger and more stable than 4x4s. The frame is lag-bolted to the wall studs and the top is a pair of 3/4" plywood sheets. I weigh about 200# and I can lay on top of the thing and move around all I want and the workbench doesn't budge. Once I get the power bar installed across the top and put on a couple more coats of Helmsman Spar Urethane, we'll be ready to rock.

Battleship photo included for reference.

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Wiggly Cat Slows Down

... but only for a moment.

Maddi, our new Maximum Leader, is the wiggliest cat I have ever met in my life. She cannot sit still for anything! She loves attention, particularly when you talk to her, but it gets her so excited that she has to walk around you and head bump things. She'll get within arm's reach once in a while, long enough for two pats and then she's off again. I finally got a photo of her on the couch, snoozing. If I try to sit down with her, she jumps up and wiggles away, purring happily.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Just Wondering

Did the Klan ever hold rallies, marches or cross-burnings to protest whites killing or raping other whites? I'm not much of a Klan historian, but I'd have to say the answer is pretty much no.

If not, then what's the difference between Black Lives Matter and the Klan? They both only get wound up when a member of an undesirable race does something to someone of their race. I don't recall seeing any BLM protests in Chicago where each weekend brings more intra-racial violence. Certainly no marches and demonstrations on the scale of what we've seen lately.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

It Sounds Much Better In The Original German

Dig this bit from Der Spiegel.
Brexit sheds light on the problems created when the idea of direct democracy is abused. In our complex 21st century world, we have no choice but to delegate authority for most decision-making to our elected representatives.
Honestly, guys, would it be possible for you to take a century off from this sort of thing?

It might be a little more palatable if the "elites" weren't incompetent.
This is the Deutsche Bank stock price over 15 years. Not good.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

You Must Prove Your Loyalty!

...if you want to get a cushy job as a gauleiter.

Even for a party hack like Eugene Robinson, this is a bit much.
Here’s what happened to Hillary Clinton on Tuesday: She learned that the FBI investigation into her emails would end without charges being filed. Her political opponents embarrassed themselves with hissy fits and tantrums. And the best campaigner in America fired up her supporters at a nationally televised rally in a crucial swing state.

That’s not a good day, it’s a great day.
For the vast majority of Americans, Hillary was exposed yesterday as so dishonest that, to borrow from Andrew Klavan, if a lie lied about being a lie, it would be more honest than Hillary. Absolutely everything she said about her emails over the last year was shown to be a lie.

Eugene Robinson wants to tell us it's a great day for Hillary because she's not going to jail? Who is the audience for that essay?

Something on the order of 85% of America know in their bones that Hillary is a liar. That is, if Eugene gathered 100 random Americans into a room and read them his essay about how Comey's massacre of her excuses was a great thing for Hillary, 85 of them would think he had completely lost his mind. So for whom was he writing?

Allow me to suggest that this was an act of loyalty and things like this are becoming commonplace in both parties. See also: Self-abasement for Trump, Sean Hannity's parade of. Eugene and Sean aren't writing or speaking to you. They are aiming above them at the party bosses that will hand out rewards and honors and privilege.

I think that if you start watching the news this way, it will make a lot more sense. Yes, there has always been a strong element of party loyalty in all political conversations, but never like this. This isn't an election so much as it is two parties demanding acts of masochism from us.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Hillary's Emails Confuse Me

So Hillary received a bunch of Secret and Top Secret emails on her Unclassified server. There's an air gap between the networks which means that someone had to deliberately, physically move data from one network to another to get it to Hillary's server. Intentionally moving data from a higher classification level to a lower one is a crime. Period.

No indictments are forthcoming even though the classified systems have logs which would show who did the deed. My only conclusion is nihilistic.

Update: Never mind, it all makes sense now. Here's part of what FBI Director Comey had to say.
To be clear, this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions. But that is not what we are deciding now.
 The Rule of Law is a fantasy. Whew. I feel a lot better now.

Monday, July 04, 2016

Happy 4th Of July!

We had a couple of American flags in the garage that were faded and tattered, but I knew you weren't supposed to throw them out. I looked it up online and found that the VFW will properly dispose of them for you. I brought them over to the local Hall which consisted of a bar with elderly couples seated around it, drinking Budweisers, chatting cheerfully. They were really grateful that I had the sense to bring in the flags rather then trashing them and when I bought them a round of beers, they were happier still.

I tipped my sweat-stained LSU cap to them, said, "Thank you, boys" and left.


Sunday, July 03, 2016

Building A Garage Workbench

With our kids having recently moved out, we're rearranging our house and getting rid of a lot of stuff. That means my dream workshop in the garage is finally within reach. I'm a jack-of-all-trades, master of none, so the workshop will be used for basic woodworking, rebuilding cars and other odds and ends. It's going to be strictly functional and not a glamorous man cave.

The first thing I want to make is a wall-mounted, 8' x 30" workbench. Thanks to the Interweb Tubes, I've found sound designs, material lists and am now working my way through suggestions for the workbench top. I stopped at Home Depot yesterday and viewed some options. Here's a partial list.

  • Stainless steel. This gets a lot of play on the forums, but I've worked on it before and unless I'm cooking, I don't see the point of it. It's cold, hard, noisy and glares in the light.
  • MDF or particle board. It's inexpensive, but it disintegrates under many conditions. It swells when wet and disintegrates. Dent it and it disintegrates. Bash the side and it disintegrates. Meh.
  • Corian. This is the low-end counter top you would use in a bathroom or kitchen. Hard and durable, you can easily get these with molded backsplashes. I looked at these at Home Depot, but wondered what would happen when I missed with a hammer blow. Cracking and chipping, for certain.
  • Plywood. This is what I'm leaning towards right now. From the forum linked above, the pros use two layers of it. The first is a base and the top is essentially disposable. I'm going to go with 2 layers of 3/4" plywood, which I can get for about $25 a sheet. I'll sand and varnish it so it will be easier to clean. If I bash it, it will just dent. If I need to further protect it during some work, I can always roll out a little auto trunk liner carpet or something like that. Since it's not conductive, I can do electrical work on it, too. One of the commenters on that forum recommended a layer of tempered hardboard on the top as a very disposable work surface.
This is tempered hardboard. I had to look it up.
My only concern now is how to design hard points into the the bench so I can affix clamps and vises to it. I'm not sure if I want a vice permanently attached. I think I'll learn about the topic, build the bench to that can be retrofitted and then use the bench for a while and see how it works.

Update: Here's how to mount a vise on a workbench. Pretty straightforward stuff. Bolt it as close to the edge as possible so the mouth of the vise hangs over the edge for working with tall things. You can reinforce the bench beneath the vise with 2x4s if you want. Definitely something I can retrofit. That's a good thing, because I don't own a vise.

Friday, July 01, 2016

Of Aztecs And Conquistadors

Yesterday's blog post wherein I discovered a site so warped that I couldn't come up with a quick response caused me to ponder the issues it raised. Thanks to Foxie's comment, I was able to finally put my finger on what I feel is the primary flaw in the logic that says the Aztecs were morally superior to the Conquistadors.

First, Foxie recommended looking at the Spanish behavior relative to all other civilizations. Here's what I came up with after about 5 minutes.
  • The Spanish conquered the Aztecs, stole their gold and converted them to Christianity. In the end, the descendants of the Aztecs enjoy the benefits of civilization created by Christian Europe. I doubt any of the residents of Central America would like to give those up and return to Aztec ways.
  • If an Aztec-like tribe had conquered the Aztecs, vivisection and mass slaughter would have been the result.
  • Had the Nazis visited the Aztecs, they would have thrown them into forced labor camps and then gassed them. No descendants.
  • In some parts of the Central America, the communists did come in contact with the descendants of the Aztecs and the predictable end result was poverty, violent political oppression and jails full of dissidents.
  • Had the Romans come in contact with the Aztecs, they would have defeated them in battle, taken slaves and hostages and then made them part of the Empire.
  • Had Geronimo come upon the Aztecs, he might have mistaken them for Mexicans and tried to kill them all.
  • Imperial Japan would have enslaved them like the Nazis, but not sent them to the gas chambers.
All in all, I'm not sure I see where the Spanish Conquistadors were all that bad. This misses the bigger point, however.

According to the authors, who extol the virtues of the Aztecs, invading, enslaving and killing is just fine. It must be, because the Aztecs did it on an industrial scale and are excused for it. If that's the way things are, then the Spanish are instantly absolved of all sins. 

This is the problem with moral relativism. It looks good so long as you're making excuses for your favorite victim group, but the logic is easy to turn around to where the perpetrators are pretty cool people, too.

At this point, what difference does it make?