Good Call

I don't often link to Penny Arcade. They get all the traffic already and don't need my help. However, Gabe's commentary (bottom of the page) on Todd Goldman bears repeating in many contexts:
If you want to play the arrogant asshole and call people pedophiles I respect that. I really do. I’ve been overcompensating for my low self esteem by calling people names for twenty years. I know how it works and the only rule is if you can’t take it, don’t fucking dish it out.
Words to remember for everyone. If you're going to be rude and obnoxious, don't get all upset when folks decide to return the favor. A key element of public discourse today seems to be calling your opponents names and then acting like they have somehow lowered the standards of debate when they respond in kind. It doesn't work. People are generally bright enough to see the hypocrisy.

Of course, I'm fairly thick-skinned so it doesn't bother me much either way.


Fast and Furry

That's actually more a description of Dog v2.0 than anything I'm about to post. He has a tendency to just take off and start running around in circles through the house. It's fairly amusing.

Anyhow, an article on a free audiobook project here. A long article with pictures about how South Africans do barbecue here. Finally, somewhere buried in the madness of this comment thread is one of the best titles ever: Reptilian Space Pope.

I think I want to be the Reptilian Space Pope when I finally grow up. Good thing I've got plenty of time before that happens. In the meantime, I guess it's audiobooks and barbecue...

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PSA - Rabies Safety

Remember, kids, when engaging in ritual self-mutilation, don't share knives with your buddy! You don't know where he's been!

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Barbecue Fun

I learned a neat trick from John’s comment at Toolmonger. I won’t rehash the endless and somewhat pointless debate over gas v. charcoal, round 6,043, that prompted the comment. (The answer is, like it is for many supposedly binary options, get both. Different situations require different tools.) Anyhow, if you don’t like to click through links, the trick is to take your chimney, fill it with charcoal, place it on the propane burner, and light the burner. This cuts down tremendously on the time it takes to get the coals good and hot.

So what did I grill with this fine apparatus? Well, some steaks for me on Friday. J wanted chicken wings and I didn’t really feel enthused about the idea. So wings for her and beef for me. Nothing fancy, just salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Saturday we continued our experimentation with the bison available at Wal-mart. We had tried the bison steak and the bison sirloin, which are both tasty, if pricey. Saturday saw us try out the ground bison for burgers. More than you’d pay for ground chuck, but much tastier. I can heartily recommend the bison from Wal-Mart. I’m equally as sure there’s better bison out there, but Wal-Mart is 5 minutes from YPS Manor.

I’m also preparing for next weekend by corning a chuck roast. Submerge chuck roast on brine for 3 days. Flip. Wait three more days. Cook. My brine recipe follows:

1 cup salt
¼ cup sugar
2 tbsp Pickling Spice (try Penzey’s)
1 tbsp minced garlic
½ tsp ground black pepper

Mix above ingredients up with one gallon of high quality H2O. Simple, huh? You don’t really need the pickling spice according to some sources. I’ll smoke that up on Saturday for J, who likes the corned beef. This is also an exception to my rule about avoiding recipes that require me to start any earlier than the night before. I mean, seriously. You drop the beef in the liquid and walk off for a week. I can handle this level of prep. Larding my pot roast the night before with strips of fat soaked in cognac for 24 hours, as James Beard advises in one recipe that I’ll never get around to making? I’m not up for it.


Earth Day '07

So yesterday was Earth Day or something? I’m not up on my enviro-commie holidays. Anyhow, I spent the day using copious amounts of fossil fuels to do yardwork, after which I spread horrible toxins on the ground in an attempt to drive off the creatures of the earth. I don’t think that’s what the hippies intended.



18 and Loaded

Yay! Once again, somebody has validated my prediction almost immediately. Yesterday, I mentioned the continuing infantilization of young adults. Today, SayUncle steps up to the plate and tries to knock one out of the park about how young adults are irresponsible asshats and not to be trusted.

Some folks are blaming the college for banning CCW holders from carrying there. Could have a point but the facts are that most college kids are just that: kids. Eighteen, nineteen and twenty year-olds can’t lawfully carry anyway. And, honestly, who wants a bunch of kids who are away from their home for the first time and who (like I did in college) are probably consuming a bit too much of, well, anything strapped? Armed staff is a better sell and, honestly, is probably a bit more responsible. Not to say that all college kids are irresponsible but that your average 18-20 something probably isn’t the best candidate for packing heat.

Hmm. Let me see, let me see. Can I think of a group of young adults in the 18 to 20 range that contradict the assertion? Hmmm. 18-20, away from home for the first time, packing heat. I’ve got it! How about these guys? Then there’s this fine group.

Now I don’t definitively know that any of the fine paratroopers and marines pictured are under the age of 20. However, I am completely certain that there is a fair number elsewhere under the age of 20 and toting loaded weapons on a daily basis.

Enough snark. My larger point remains. Either college students are adults and can be trusted with the rights and responsibilities of adulthood or they are not. We let them vote, we let them volunteer for service, but then we turn around and say “No pistol or CCW for you! You’re too irresponsible!” It is, quite frankly, bullshit. It stinks of half-measures to appease morons who don’t ever want their precious little babies to grow up and are incapable of realizing they have. Will some morons abuse the privilege? Yes. Is that a reason to inflict further nanny-state measures on everybody else? No.

I also disagree with SayUncle’s assertion that “everything has changed”. Things will only change for the worse if we, collectively, let them. Quit assuming it’s a foregone conclusion that more asinine laws will be passed because of the incident.

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You, Yourself

I am, as I’m sure most of you are, saddened to hear that some whack-job decided to take out his frustrations on other people at Virginia Tech yesterday. The comment was made that we should not use the opportunity to try to score cheap political points, or more poetically, don’t dance in the blood of the dead. I figure that’s still good advice, although the people who push gun control as a solution haven’t really restrained themselves. Nor, I am sure, have some people on my side of the issue.

Me? I got no political points today that you can’t find elsewhere. Gun control failed, so the usual suspects will propose more gun control. Rational thinking is not going to be a part of the coming debate. Instead, we’ll continue with the infantilization of young adults by saying something needs to be done to protect the students. Given that I was in the Army at 17, I have this funny idea the students are adults and therefore have the obligation and ability to protect themselves.

Segueing neatly into my next point, if you depend on the police for protection you are a fool. The police cannot be everywhere all the time. They can only respond to a situation once it starts. Until they show up, you’re on your own. It seems to me that placing the campus on lockdown, while useful for maintaining order and making the cops’ job easier, did nothing to protect the greater population of Virginia Tech. Here’s where the “you are responsible” meme comes in. If it occurs to you that sitting passively and waiting for danger to come closer might be a bad plan, do something about it. Mount up and clear the AO by any means necessary. You are ultimately responsible for your own safety. Not me, not the cops, not a university, not the government. If your assessment of the situation means disregarding what some authority figure tells you, ignore them and do what you have to do.

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Struwwelpeter Redux

Oh, happy day! Feral House is publishing a new edition of the frightening beloved children’s classic. Run out and get copies for your kids! $24 is a small price to pay for the lifetime of therapy to come.


Aramark Blows

Let’s just state for the record that I think, in general, Aramark would have problems selling ice water at the concession stand in Hell. Saturday’s trip to Reliant Arena for the My Chemical Romance show did nothing to cure me of that impression. The t-shirt stand was staffed by 4 people who moved at half the speed of smell. I’ve seen stoned hippies run concessions better than the Aramark people were Saturday night.

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From the Duh Files: Rudy and the 2nd

Jacob Sullum dissects Rudy Giuliani's recently discovered support for the 2nd Amendment. Key quote:
his sudden interest in the Second Amendment, like his sudden interest in strict constructionism, is merely an affectation intended to allay the concerns of Republican primary voters.
You can go read the whole article, but I can sum it up for you: Rudy doesn't care about your right to keep and bear arms unless it continues to poll well. I mean, he did such a bang-up job as mayor of NYC in making sure that people who lived there could freely exercise their rights. Didn't he? Oh, wait, no, I'm hallucinating again. He didn't do a damn thing for the citizens of the city when he was mayor. So I'm sure if he gets elected to be even more important, he'll suddenly discover a reason to worry about it.

I got beachfront property in Arizona for sale if you buy that one.

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USPS Comes Through

I've got the day off so I went by the post office to pick up a package. Zooba came through with Mistral's Kiss, Diana Tregarde Investigates, and For A Few Demons More. Sweet! I know what I'm doing for the rest of the day...

Plus, the new Brownell's catalog came. Woo-hoo! Screw the internet, I got books!



Code of Misconduct

Okay, so I have followed at great distance the story about a blogging code of conduct. If you’re not up to speed, here’s the short version. Somebody made vile comments and threats against some tech blogger. She canceled a public appearance and the whole thing gained some traction. MSM news appearance, much blog posting, fluttering of hands, general attack of the vapors. Now some people are pushing a code of conduct that says something akin to “Don’t be mean”. I dunno, I didn’t get that far.

A longer and more detailed discussion about the proposed code is here. My comment consists of two related issues. One, the code is voluntary. Don’t like it? Don’t sign up, don’t adhere, and blog along your merry way. Two, adhering to the code puts a blogger at a disadvantage in the information universe. Adherence to the code means not linking to blogs that don’t adhere. Blogs that don’t sign on can link to anyone they choose. Anybody but me think that might not be the smartest idea ever? Artificially limiting the range of permissible commentary seems like it would incur a competitive disadvantage. If I have a choice between someone who doesn't limit the range of issues and items they address and someone who will limit the range of commentary in an attempt to comply with someone else's idea of civility, I know where I'm going.

Of course, I’m not on board because giving up unprovoked and gratuitous ad hominem posts about politicians, public figures, and anyone else who earns my ire just isn’t happening. Well, that plus the fact the whole thing strikes me as a 21st century version of a loyalty oath.

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Hindenburg Redux

So the kind folks at Hit and Run have posted a link to yet another article about hydrogen. The author, unsurprisingly, agrees with me, which means he must be brilliant and learned. Or completely insane. Anyhow, as I’ve been saying for a while, he says hydrogen is not the solution. Key quote:

The trouble is that making hydrogen requires more energy than the hydrogen so produced can provide. Hydrogen, therefore, is not a source of energy. It simply is a carrier of energy. And it is, as we shall see, an extremely poor one.

Ding! We have a winner. The article goes into painful detail about the what and the why, with lots of math. His proposed solution strikes me as flawed, but his takedown of hydrogen is masterful.

Just remember, folks, the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is a bitch. Any scheme which depends on repeatedly changing energy from one form to another is bound to fail because of conversion losses.



Weather Anomalies

Saturday the bottom fell out of the weather here in south Texas. It’s April and the temperature on Saturday night was in the low 30s. That ain’t right. Global warming? Hah! I laugh at your global warming. Anyhow, what was I doing in rainy 30-degree weather? Why, standing outside smoking meat, of course!

For Easter, the decision was made to have ribs and a turducken. Originally, we were going to have a couple of chickens, but then I suddenly remembered someone had presented me a gift certificate for a meat store here in town. So we dropped by and the only thing that looked good was a 10 pound turducken. So we picked that up Friday and went about our merry way. Plans were made to cook Saturday and reheat for Sunday.

Saturday dawned slightly cool, and just got worse. Because of my general sloth, I didn’t get started until 1ish. I’m busily trying to maintain a reasonable smoking temperature all day, while Dog v2.0 tries to assist, supervise, and generally get in the way. Somewhere about 8 o’clock, when the temperature really got nasty, D2 gave up and stayed inside. The turducken took right at about 8 hours to smoke to an internal temp of 165F, so I was finishing up at 9:30 or so. By that time, D2’s sitting inside watching me in the rain through the glass. When the little Scottish dog decides it’s too cold and wet outside, I know the weather is ugly. You can take the dog out of Scotland, but you can’t take the Scotland out of the dog. Every single Westie I have ever known loves it when the weather is cold and damp, despite the fact that all the Westies I know are born and raised on the Texas Gulf Coast. We don’t do cold and damp much around here, but when we do, Dog v2.0 wants to be outside in it.

For the turducken, I just thawed it and smoked it. It came preseasoned and stuffed, so I figured I would try the item as presented and see how it was. The ribs were done in the usual YPS style, to wit rubbed with the following spice mixture:

4 TB Sweet Paprika
1-2 TB Chipotle Powder
2 TB Ground Cumin
2 TB Dark Brown Sugar
2 TB Salt
1 TB Dried Oregano
1 TB Garlic Powder
1 TB Sugar
1 TB Ground Black Pepper
1 TB Ground White Pepper
1/2 - 1 1/2 tsp Ancho Chili Powder

This time around we put the chili powders on the low end of the scale. Smoking wood was hickory, because that’s the first bag I grabbed. The ribs were nice and tender Saturday night, but didn’t come off so well on Sunday. They toughened up a little. Of course, it may be that the baby backs didn’t have that problem. I smoked three racks of baby backs and one rack of spare ribs. I don’t usually screw with baby backs, because they’re too freaking small. If I’m going to spend my time smoking things, I want some damn meat at the end. So I left the baby backs to other people and ate spare ribs and turducken. I can highly recommend both.



Sickness And Health

I don’t often get cranked up about health care issues, because it’s not my primary field of expertise. Of course, my primary field of expertise is mechanical systems and design and I don’t talk about that much here either, so what the hell.

One of my biggest fundamental problems with the current health care debate in this country is assumption of a positive right. You do not have any claim, moral or otherwise, to anyone else’s time and effort and to advocate otherwise is to advocate for slavery. If you indeed had the right to “health care”, someone is then obligated to provide you with medical care. If they do not do so willingly, the gummint will, through threat or application of force, make them give you health care. I just mentioned the word for forcing someone to work for the benefit of another through the threat of force. If I recall my history correctly, we settled that issue definitively, along with several others, on April 9th, 1865.

Ergo, you have no right to receive medical care. This is to some a cold and heartless proposition, but life often is. Nothing in what I have said implies that if private citizen Bob, in his capacity as kind-hearted philanthropist, decides to treat indigent sufferers of his own accord he should not be afforded the freedom to do so. There is, as I have pointed out in the past, no moral good in forcing people to charity. If you remove the faculty of choice, there is no moral calculus involved for the person being forced.

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