Chicken Fried Steak

My favoritest blog right now is Hanzi Smatter. I have wasted a huge amount of potentially valuable time reading through the archives. The proprietor has a fabulous collection of misdrawn and mistranslated characters inked into the flesh of the unwary and the gullible.

J and I have a long running joke about people who get Hanzi or Kanji tattoos. When someone has characters tattooed on them, we refer to it as chicken fried steak. If I recall correctly, the original conversation was that the individual with the tattoo had no idea what it meant. Trusting the flash on a tattoo shop wall for an accurate translation guaranteed you were going to be walking around with a tattoo saying “Chicken Fried Steak – 3.99” for the rest of your life. As things turn out, that's not far from the truth. Judging from the archives, chicken fried steak would actually be a blessing compared to the meaning of some of the tattoos.

I’m contemplating emailing Tian and asking for a translation of chicken fried steak. The joke’s already been done, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still funny.


Calling Roland

Part of my news feed comes from The Economist. They’re generally sober and rational, and usually discuss economic issues better than anybody else in the game. Plus, they employ such lovely and talented reporters. However, the fuzzy headed euro-socialist does creep into the news reports from time to time. As an example, they have a piece about how the UN is going to help the Congo. The paragraph that made me laugh out loud was this one:

One of the main reasons for Mr Ban’s trip to Congo was to visit MONUC, the UN’s peacekeeping force there. It is the biggest UN deployment in the world, with 16,500 soldiers and 100 aircraft. Rick Neal of Refugees International, who has travelled extensively in Congo, hopes Mr Ban’s visit will do two things in particular. He hopes for a narrowing of MONUC’s focus to a primary mission of protecting civilians, and to get it to enforce the embargo on arms into Congo and the export of goods which are used to pay for more arms.

I just got one question: who’s going to protect the civilians from the UN? My candidate lacks a head, besides being fictional. I'm up for suggestions for non-fictional characters that might do some good, since I wouldn’t bet much on the kind of “protection” people are going to receive from the UN in any event.


Quick Hits

Adobe has released the PDF format as an open ISO specification. While a good move for the rest of us, and bad for Microsoft, I am unsure as to the long-term benefit to Adobe. I have a copy of Acrobat Professional available to me on my work laptop. I am here to tell you, I wouldn’t buy it myself. It’s way pricey for what it does, especially considering I have OpenOffice on my PC at home, which can save to a PDF natively without any plug-ins. I don’t know that Adobe is going to sell many copies of Acrobat Professional once competing apps come out with the same functionality. On the plus side, perhaps Microsoft will, in the distant future, build PDF functionality into a future release of Word and Excel. Thank Make for the news.

NASA administrator Michael Griffin gave a speech over the weekend on why we are in space, and why we should be in space. Good stuff, go read.

Bill Gates thinks we’ll all be wowed by Windows Vista. I think quoting the Fark headline is in order here:

Bill Gates claims Vista will "wow" its users. As in, "Wow, does this suck" or "Wow, WTF happened to all my data?"
Given everything I’ve read about Vista, DRM, and the unpleasant news that MS is integrating more functionality into the OS, I’m not enthusiastic about the new release. There’s a reason I spent a lot of time this weekend doing research here and here. I’m less than thrilled about the path forward for personal computers at the moment. Everybody is sucking off content providers in a death spiral to provide me with crippleware. I’m the guy paying for the equipment, not Warner or Sony or Vivendi Universal or anybody else. It should do what I want, not what they want.

Air America is apparently not dead yet. I’m entirely sure that no one cares given Air America reaches approximately six people at any given moment. Now that Al Franken is leaving, I’m sure his mom will quit listening, so that knocks it down to five. The leadership was incompetent at best, fraudulent at worst, and the product sucks. No wonder they’re not blazing up the airwaves. Everyone forgot the primary goal of a business is to make money, not be a bully pulpit for a particular ideology. I don’t even think we have an AA affiliate station down here, so I have to get my deranged leftist rantings from Commie Radio.

More news about my weekend cooking will be posted when I get around to uploading the pictures. I’m also thinking about this and this in an effort to determine if I have something to say. I think I do, so if time permits, expect thoughts on management and spectrum.


Ignorance Can Be Blissful

Somebody, for reasons entirely obscure to me, felt it was worth their time to interview Dennis Kucinich (D-Fatuous), yet another in a long line of donk failures. Putting aside the oddity of why anyone thinks he's relevant outside his district, I'll confess I have some fondness for the man. I think he's wrong on almost every issue, but his undoubtedly sincere about the goofier thinsg he believes and espouses. The goofy sincerity is, in a weird way, somewhat charming. He's like your harmless old crazy uncle babbling about flouridation in the water and the communist plot to infiltrate the local school board. Nuts, but funny and mostly harmless. Of course, just like your crazy uncle, you don't want Dennis in a position where he has any real authority.

Anyhow, Dennis makes the bizarre comment below in response to a question about his dietary habits:
I've been a vegan for about 12 years, but let me tell you, there's a place in Oregon that sells kielbasa made out of tofu and texturized protein. And they sell tofurkey too, so it's amazing what's possible when you determine to take a new direction in your diet. I wouldn't have believed it until I saw it but they do make kielbasa out of something other than what standard kielbasa is made of. You know how they say, Don't ever ask how laws or sausages are made? Well, I can attest to the wisdom of that with the exception of kielbasa made with tofu.
I can honestly say the process, nay, the very idea, of making kielbasa with tofu is probably far more frightening to me than either sausage making or the legislature. Tofu and texturized protein? There's something viscerally wrong here. I'm gonna go roast a chicken and try to forget that things like tofurkey and kielbasa with no meat exist.


High Holy Day

Yesterday, according to some of my sources, was John Moses Browning's birthday. Of course, I found another source that dates him two days before that. In any event, one of the most prolific firearms designers ever needs some festivities. Go shoot your 1911 variant in celebration.

You do have one, right? To not have a 1911 of some form makes you some kind of heretic. We'll have none of that around here!

Seriously, JMB did more to singlehandedly change the evolution of firearms than anyone before or since. A stunning number of his designs are still manufactured and in daily use by people at the sharp end of the stick. There's very few items designed in the beginning of last century still in daily use now. I'll be lucky indeed if anything I design is ever that widespread.


Ron Is Walking Slowly

As a correction to the earlier post, Ron Paul is in the process of forming an exploratory committee. I find this out from an interview Brian Doherty did for Reason.

I hope this pans out, because I really want to have a candidate I can vote for instead of one I can vote against.

Asshats In The Ring

Well, silly season has commenced in earnest way earlier than I thought it would. Candidates for the presidency are popping up like mushrooms after rain. The odor is rather similar, as well.

So far, we have the usual collection of career politicians making a play for an office they’re wholly unsuited to hold. The most recent announcements are from more detritus from the Clinton era, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-Carpetbagger) and Gov. Bill Richardson (D-Incompetent). I certainly hope no one is surprised to hear that HRC is running for the donk nomination. I’m a little surprised to hear about Bill Richardson. I hear he’s done a good job as governor of New Mexico. I don’t have the time or energy to follow NM politics, so I don’t have any real idea although I’m personally skeptical.

I just remember what Greg seems to have forgotten. Bill Richardson may look good on paper, but he was almost a complete failure at running the Department of Energy. I remember the whole grand fanfare about how he was taking responsibility for the agency and the security issues thereof. Then he spent the rest of his time trying to duck all of the fallout from the continuing security lapses. If DOE kicked his ass sideways, how in the hell is he going to handle being President? In any event, he’s a former Clinton apparatchik, so he’s suspect at best and dangerous at worst.

About HRC, I don’t think anything needs to be said, although that probably won’t stop one of us from saying it between now and the election.


Cutting Steel

Sometime ago, J managed to acquire for me two cabinets that I am in the process of turning into workbenches. These are heavy duty sheet metal cabinets, 48” x 22”, with 4 drawers and a door concealing shelves. The only thing lacking on them was tops. I built the first one a top using doubled 3/4” plywood and some laminated masonite. I trimmed the edges out with 1” x 2” pine and beveled ½ of the edge before I stupidly hit a nail and broke the router bit. The workbench works well for what I’ve done with it so far, although I think the masonite won’t hold up long term.

The second one I decided I wanted something a little more sturdy for the top. I’m still planning on doubled 3/4" plywood for the underside of the top. I went and talked to my purchasing guy at work, and he found me a 4’ x 8’ sheet of 11 gauge steel for $96. This struck me as a fabulous deal, so I got it and stuck it in my garage. Then I ran into a slight snag: I don’t have anything capable of cutting 11 gauge steel. Most tools I have give up the ghost at 18 gauge, and 11 is way past anything I have. What on earth to do?

My first impulse was to get a metal cutting blade for my circular saw. Metal cutting abrasive blades are about $5, so that’s good. Then I looked at my saw. My saw has a composite base plate, and I became concerned about damaging my base plate with sparks or rough edges of the steel. Considering that a replacement base plate is $52, I’m not in a hurry to damage it. Any other tool capable of cutting 11 gauge is not cheap.

Now that I’ve checked around, I find I can get a cheap Skil for less than the price of the replacement base plate. Sears seems to have the best price online, so I may swing by there at some point and check. Of course, I could just bite the bullet and buy one of these bad boys, but I think that’s probably overkill.

For right now, anyway.


Legal Analysis

More coverage of the phone nonsense, but an actual lawyer weighs in on the subject.


Consumer Complexity

I just want to buy a soldering iron to assemble my birthday present. I honestly had no idea how many different variations on a soldering iron were available for purchase. It's all so confusing. Temperature control? Wattage control? Digital rework stations? I know nuts and bolts and steel and machining, not electronics. The electronics are handed off to some other guy to handle. What's a poor mechanical type to do?

Actually, in this case I went and solicited advice from the sparkies and the folks at the Make forums. I'm leaning towards a digital temperature controlled station. This ought to give me enough to work with while I destroy some things on the way to learning how to solder well enough to assemble my clock.


More Unnamed Phone Goodness

So in my attempt to find any shred of information that backs up my prediction on the lawsuit between Cisco and Apple, I’ve been reading coverage of the iPhone, or ApplePhone, or iMobile, or whatever the frak Jobs & Co. finally name the thing on product release. No real info about the lawsuit so far, but I’m vastly entertained by all the Apple fanbois.

Having looked at the hype, I’m forced to conclude there’s a lot of people out there who are reflexive Apple junkies. The phone is not the latest and greatest, doesn’t have enough memory, and lacks expansion capacity. The touchscreen, while pretty, is sub-optimal for a phone interface. Yet there’s a horde of people who have announced their fervent desire to own this product, even at the ridiculous price point. There’s also a legion of people pronouncing it a revolution in cell phones that will change the face of the industry.

Seriously, people, WTF are you smoking? It’s a phone. No more, no less. I counted exactly one “new” feature on the damned thing. I’m not terribly impressed, but as specs can change before release, I could be wrong. At this point, it seems like an overly expensive phone with a few serious issues.

The biggest issue is the one currently keeping me away from iPods and the Zune: DRM. Whatever you can do with an iPhone in terms of a convergence media device, you can bet your ass somebody is going to make money off of how you fill it with media. If you think Jobs is going to let you move your music around willy-nilly without making a buck, you have not been paying attention to the whole iTunes debacle.

I don’t have the time or the energy to waste downloading illegal copies of music so I can save a few bucks. I already have a considerable investment in digital music, to the tune of 700+ compact discs. I’m not wasting my time with any system that tries to make everything proprietary and subject to limitations. We’re using Cowon iAudios and FLAC, and J and I are quite happy with it. I don’t get all the bells and whistles in terms of third-party accessories, but I can do whatever I want with the music I already purchased legitimately without having to deal with anybody’s bullshit concessions to the record industry. Fair use exists as a matter of law, no matter how much the RIAA tries to dissemble and obfuscate the issue. Why on earth would I lock myself into a crippled version of a music player because Apple thinks it makes them more money?

These are all old tired issues, but somehow they keep popping up. Why? Consumers are stupid. Quit buying crippleware and the crippleware will stop coming.


Empress Alexandra: 12 March 1993 - 13 January 2007

God summoned a beast from the fields and He said:

"Behold man created in my image.
You shall protect him in the wilderness, shepherd his flocks, watch over his children, and accompany him wherever he may go, even into harm’s way.
You shall be his companion, his ally, his slave.
I will endow you with these traits uncommon to other beasts: faithfulness, devotion, and understanding, surpassing those of man himself.

Lest it impair your courage, you shall never foresee your death.
Lest it impair your loyalty, you shall be blind to the faults of man.
Lest it impair your understanding, you are denied the power of words; your eyes shall convey the truth of your heart.
Lest man’s attachment to you grow too great, the span of your life shall be brief.

Walk by his side, sleep in his doorway, forage for him, ward off his enemies, carry his burdens, share his afflictions, love him, and comfort him.
And in return for this, man will fulfill your needs and wants, which shall be only sustenance, shelter, and affection.
So be silent and be a friend to man.
Guide him through the perils along the way to the land that I have promised him.
This shall be your destiny and your immortality."

So spoke the Lord.

--Anonymous, excerpted from Zell Miller’s “A Deficit of Decency”.

Vote Ron!

The libertarian portion of the blogosphere is abuzz with the news that Ron Paul is forming an exploratory committee. I’m still trying to find a statement from the man himself instead of second and third hand reports.

In any event, I have found my presidential candidate for the ’08 primaries. He will get his ass handed to him on a plate and won’t win the nomination, but he’s far better than any of the other pathetic asshats who are reportedly running.

Woo-hoo! Vote Ron!


Defanged by the Posse

Over at Lone Star Times yesterday, the official response to the border incursion in Arizona was posted. If I had to make a wild guess, some individual is misapplying the Posse Comitatus act to severely curtail the Guard’s response. However, if the Guard is not supposed to repel armed incursions into the U.S., why is the Guard in existence? Maybe I’m confused, but I always thought that was a primary mission of the Guard.

In any event, the US government should be raising holy hell about this with the Mexicans. I still think the appropriate response is pursuit and engagement, but that’s just me…

IP? We Don’t Care About Your IP…

Following directly on the heels of Apple’s announcement of the iPhone was the announcement of Cisco’s lawsuit against Apple for using the name.

Pardon me for a moment while I laugh uproariously. While I’m sure this will be settled for the exchange of cash and valuable prizes, Apple has stone cold screwed the proverbial pooch. You do not get to make your product announcement when you have yet to secure the rights to your product name. To do so displays a gross level of incompetence that is just astounding. Did Apple seriously think Cisco would just sit on their hands while Apple announced a product using Cisco’s trademark? Is Steve Jobs really that delusional?

I also applaud the release of the Logitech iPhone several weeks ago. This makes it functionally impossible for Apple to do anything but pay through the nose or rename the product. If I recall my trademark law correctly, as long as you have products commercially available, the trademark is not abandoned. Since Cisco has products out using the trademark, Apple’s case just got exponentially more difficult.

Cisco’s lawyers presumably have a stack of C&D letters ready to go out to everybody and their dog reminding them that Cisco owns the trademark for iPhone and that if you refer to the device in question by the appellation, you will mention that the trademark is not held by Apple. I know if was in charge over at Cisco, the C&Ds would be flying out the door by overnight express. I would also damn sure make the cost of doing so an integral part of the settlement. Hell, I would ask for an injunction against Apple to quit using the name until the court case is settled.

I’m going to be completely cynical about the outcome of this case and try to predict the future, all at the same time. Cisco has close to 20 billion in cash, Apple has 10. Cisco has more money on hand. Cisco’s operating cash flow is 8 billion and change as opposed to Apple’s 2 billion and change. Cisco brings in more money every quarter than Apple pulls in all year. In short, Cisco has more money and more resources. Cisco’s gonna win. Add to this analysis the issue that Cisco doesn’t need their iPhone products to ever take off in the market. Apple needs the iPhone product, if not necessarily the name, more than Cisco does. Apple has more to lose in this game than Cisco does, making it much more likely that they will settle.

I think I’m going to get me some popcorn and watch the show. This promises to be one of the more entertaining episodes of 2007.

Update: Cisco's General Counsel speaks!


High Definition

The living room television here at YPS was dying. So in an attempt to be technology proactive, I went and researched and picked a new TV that should last us a while. I went to Ikea and repurposed some cheap furniture into a TV stand and now we have a gloriously large HDTV sitting in the living room. Right about the time we purchased the TV and got the new, improved, more expensive cable box, (Thank you, local government granted cable monopoly!), I got the latest issue of MAKE. Cory Doctorow has a column about how some things really don’t need to been seen in HD. Later that same night, I turned on the high-def NBC affiliate to see a close-up of Jay Leno. The light bulb went off over my head.

A good tight close-up in HD makes otherwise relatively normal people appear pretty damn scary. First off, the screen itself is huge. So the person’s head appears twice normal size. Then there’s the resolution. In 1080i, I got way too much detail. I have no need to critique the make-up flaws of celebrities and talking heads, but I can do that in HD. Check out nostril hairs? Indeed. Watch the pancake make-up crumble during a live broadcast? Yup. Notice the flecks of spittle collecting in the corners of someone’s mouth? Oui.

All in all, it’s kind of unsettling. I think HD programming will shift away from tight close-ups on people’s heads. Otherwise, it’ll remain a niche market. Where it shines so far is the kind of things IMAX is good at showing. We watched a live broadcast from space. The interior shots were interesting, but the exterior shots were just spectacular. NASA could hang an HD camera up in orbit and I’d watch the footage with no soundtrack or commentary for hours. There are also movies that I want to see on the new set, like Hero. Some movies really do benefit from the big screen.

I’m still tweaking all the equipment for the best possible quality. I think I’m going to have upgrade some other system components. Such is the lot of the technophile, I suppose. It’s a never ending struggle to stay current. Now to get a next gen game console and see what it looks like…


Poor Behavior Rampant

In a new study, apparently 1/3 of parents don’t think their methods of disciplining their children work. From personal observation, I’m going to say the remaining two-thirds are wrong about how well their methods work. Children today are undisciplined little monsters. In an obligatory nod to me sounding like a grumpy old man, I’ll note the children should also stay off my lawn and turn that damn music down.

Anyhow, people have forgotten how to make their kids behave, or even that the children need to behave. Why? Because raising kids is hard work and most people aren’t up for it. Parenting means you have to do a lot of things that aren’t fun and you have to do them over and over and over. Why bother? Let the little brats run wild and when the kiddies end up as the dregs of society, you can scratch your head and wonder why.

These are the same asshats who feel it necessary to infringe upon my rights because they’re too lazy to see what junior is doing and enforce some boundaries. Instead, they’d rather have the government ban any inconvenient items junior might come across, be that pictures, speech, or anything else. I loathe anybody who makes a public policy argument by bringing up children.* Children are the problem of their parents, not society at large. Don’t you start telling me I can’t be an adult and enjoy the things adults enjoy because you’re too irresponsible to keep your children out of trouble. The government raises children about as well as the government does anything else: poorly. Raise your own damn kids and don’t expect the rest of us to do it for you.

* This is one of many, many reason why the new Speaker of the House should find something else to do to feed her ego instead of mucking up the country. Hey, the web page works now! Go see what sort of socialist dreck she’s pushing!


Paging Black Jack

I seem to recall a long time ago when incidents like this one happened, we had a solution. I seriously doubt anybody in a real position of authority now has the stones to do what we did back then. I’m thinking 1st Cavalry Division rolling hot through Nogales would get the point across to the Mexican government that we were serious about border security.

Unfortunately, as all have noticed, the United States is not serious when the border in question is the southern land border. Now, the criminals and thugs from Mexico have decided to act on the knowledge. I guess this is the result of spending decades imitating the three monkeys and refusing to acknowledge a problem even exists, much less what the solution should be. If you ignore problems long enough, they get worse.

Now we are the lovely position of having bands of gunmen attack government outposts and flee back to Mexico. Anybody want to take bets on what the response to this will be? I’m betting on a whole lot of jibber-jabber and nothing concrete that will do anything to either a) reduce the likelihood of it happening again or b) find whoever did it.

I’m glad to see the Mexican Revolution worked out so well for the peasantry in the long run. Viva la revolución corrupción! Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. People just keep getting fooled, don’t they?


Asshattery in 3…2…1…

The latest and leastest group of congresscritters has been sworn in and Nancy Pelosi will go down in history as the first fatuous simpering dolt woman to be Speaker of the House. Let’s be clear: I loathe Nancy Pelosi and all the principles she upholds (or pretends to uphold). In the first 100 hours, the donks under her leadership are going to attempt a bold and vital program of something or other designed, primarily, to ensure reelection in ’08.

In short, it will be business as usual. I will rely on my chosen sources to inform me if anything I deem particularly frightful happens. Then I can send nasty letters to a guy I didn’t (and won’t) vote for in the somewhat vain hope that he will hear my words, be convinced of the ineluctable rightness of my position on, well, everything and thus be moved to vote in accordance with my philosophy, which is better than his (and yours) because… well, you know that answer by now. In the meantime, I expect more expansion of the state, more infringement on your freedom, less possibility of ever getting the government back to a reasonable size, and generally one more minute closer to Wolfe time. I’m so excited at the array of possibilities before us I could almost vomit. Lucky for me (and my coworkers) I have a strong stomach.

I would tell you what the new speaker intends to do, but alas, her web link to A New Direction for America: the Book doesn’t work. Her webpage (linked above) as Speaker also contains no information. I suppose making sure the web pages were ready to go by today wasn’t high on the list of anyone on her team. I can’t back my pernicious cynicism about her intent up with anything concrete. Somehow, I remain confident it will be justified.


Hard Fact

In the comments to his most recent post describing his visit to a Hezbollah tent city, Michael Totten lays out a hard fact that many liberals and genteel folks don’t (or won’t) recognize.

Sometimes you just have to shoot people.

Unfortunately, the inability to admit this fact leads to greater problems. You can't really have discussions or negotiate with people who want to kill you. It's a waste of time and gets you nowhere.


Let Me Clear My Throat…

First off, I’d like to thank everyone for the fabulous Christmas and birthday presents. Y’all know who you are. Tools of all kinds were presented to me, along with some books. It’s all good. I can now set fire to food items in a staggering variety of ways outdoors. I got a new charcoal smoker, a new two-burner propane cart, and a portable propane grill. Add these to the charcoal grill, propane grill, and propane burner I already possessed and I am well-equipped for food production in the backyard. I may, if I decide I like you people, post some recipes. My smoked ribs are just fabulous, if I do say so myself. I also received a security bit set, a drill press, a new laptop case, a pocket knife, and some other stuff that escapes me right now. So all in all, a fine gift receiving occasion for me. I hope all of you got something you desired. Unless, of course, you desired the ever-elusive peace on earth and goodwill towards man. It would have been nice if you got it, but, as usual, you were sorely disappointed.

In other news, my pieces parts to finish the second (of five) AR-15 arrived over the Christmas break. (Judging from my posts, Christmas blogging break for me started in late November.) The actual parts arrived in December sometime. I now have a CMP competition rifle. I got the DPMS upper with the stainless barrel, NM sights, and free-float faux A2 handguards. All of this loveliness is mated up to a Double Star lower with DPMS parts and an A2 stock. Sweet! I have the build for the next one planned, but it’s going to be expensive since I’m going to build me a 6.5 Grendel SASS. That leaves two more lowers to build. I may decide on one of those and get it done first. The Grendel may have to go on the back burner, simply because of cost issues. I can build both remaining lowers out for the price of the Grendel, given the options I’ve decided on for it. Plus, once I get the rifle built, it’s time to worry about optics. The Grendel won’t be cheap. Good thing I got a raise from my beneficient corporate overlords.

The topic of guns brings me to my next point: the asshats at the NRA. The issue we received of America’s 1st Freedom has a lovely set of caricatures of prominent donks on the cover. The associated story has all kind of blather about how the donks are going to try something that will infringe on RKBA. Well, no shit, Sherlock. What was your first clue? However, I’m finding it hard to care what the NRA thinks about the issue given that they suggested I vote donk in the House election. Here’s a handy political tip for all you neophytes: if you’re concerned about the possibility of a donk Congress, don’t tell people to vote for donks. If you do suggest voting for donks, don’t act all surprised when they take over, you freakin’ retard.

Anyhow, here’s hoping you can get more of whatever you desire for the coming year, unless you desire for me to STFU, because that’s just not happening.