Stimulant Abuse Is Bad

So, have I mentioned lately how hare-brained the stimulus is? No? Let's sum it up in one sentence.

Spending money we don't have on things that won't work is a monumentally stupid idea.

There, that was easy. A nicer version of the same concept can be found here. I realize my opinion is less than persuasive, but I would hope a couple hundred economists including three Nobel laureates might be more credible.

Then again, another Nobel prize-winning economist says if you oppose the stimulus, you're a dishonest hack. Hmm. Who to believe? The guy who spent the past eight years losing his mind spectacularly and publicly and was proven wrong repeatedly on several important issues? Or 200 or so of his peers who think the stimulus is bullshit?

In any event, it looks more and more certain the stimulus is going to happen because... because... hell, I don't have clue why it's gonna happen at this point. The venality and incompetence of our political class comes to mind for some reason, but there may be more to it than that. Gross stupidity may play a role, as well.

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Subpoena Power

So, Karl Rove has been subpoenaed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee. A random thought occurred to me, so I'm passing it along.

Where does the subpoena power of Congress originate? Is this something Congress gave themselves under the necessary and proper clause? I'm not seeing anything relevant in the appropriate passage.


Sea Kitten Up!

While I despise petards and the fuzzy-headed nonsense that passes for thinking in their daft little heads, I sometimes enjoy the glimpses into the strange landscape inside their mostly empty skulls. So I give you the sea kitten. People eat fish because they aren’t cute and cuddly, apparently. So we’ll make a marketing campaign to convince folks they really are!

The giant gaping flaw here, of course, is the actual creatures themselves. Of course, since PETA never gives a damn about the animals anyway, this makes perfect sense. Anyhow, fish are not cuddly, no matter how many cartoon whiskers you put on one. Fish also didn’t save convoys from Nazi u-boats in WW2, despite what you may have learned from watching The Incredible Mister Limpet back when you were but a wee sprog.

I guess next will be lake kittens and aquarium kittens?

Of course, like most other socialist propaganda efforts, the campaign is not aimed at you. It’s aimed at the children to encourage them to think correctly. It’s too late for the big people like you. You’ll just have to go up against the wall when the Revolution comes.

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Strange Affliction

One might, if one were paranoid about the possibility of further gun control legislation being enacted, have gone shopping recently for some things liable to fall under any new bans. In such an instance, one might have left work because the power went out and gone to pick up the 3 DPMS LR-308 lowers one had ordered. One might then be shopping for magazines, LPKs, and uppers online to see how much it'll cost to finish these builds out. In which case, one should get in a long damned line, because everybody else is panic buying, too. One might have also picked up a couple of 5.56 PMAGs while getting the transfer done.

Of course, we all know there's no reason to be paranoid about further gun control legislation, right? No reason at all. Hell, nobody has any interest in making gun owners get a license to own any handgun or semi-automatic weapon with a detachable magazine. Certainly nobody would think of making it a felony to continue to own the guns you already have if you didn't get such a license. So any fears you may have about upcoming legislation are just signs of your paranoia, which means you're crazy and unfit to own a gun.

So if one did all those things I mentioned above, take comfort in knowing there are others who share your strange mental affliction. In fact, there's a support group. It meets at the range every weekend. Look for the guys and gals with black rifles. You'll be among friends.

Also, contact your congresscritter and tell him to beat HR 45 to death with a stick. If said congresscritter accidentally gets in a few licks on Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Hoplophobe) in the process, that'd be just too bad.

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Not Encouraging

There's more of them then there are of us. I don't expect the trends to reverse, either.



Cynics Unite

So, despite my best attempts to avoid the self-congratulatory circle jerk in DC today, I appear to have failed. Here's the speech. There's a lot of useless dreck, a lot of lip service to our totems and icons, and a whole bunch of no particulars. Come to think of it, it's just like the campaign. My favorite tidbit so far:
What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them, that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long, no longer apply.
Really? The endless contention about what the government should be doing and how much it's going to cost and who should pay for it? Those arguments are over?

Bet not. Given some of his appointments, I'm guessing some of the arguments that had simmered down lately are gonna flare back up. I am once again reminded of George Bernard Shaw's famous line:
What is the use of straining after an amiable view of things, when a cynical view is most likely to be the true one?
Cynicism of the motives of the government and politicians is, in my experience, never misplaced.

Anyhow, I would be only slightly buzzed had I played my version of the Inaugural Speech Drinking Game. I was counting on hope and change for the win, and that would have only got me 5 drinks. Of course, if I slam 5 shots of Knob Creek in a row, that'll probably do it. As I have things to do later on today, it's just not an option. Have one for me instead.

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Sun'll Come Out

So, apropos of almost nothing, I note on 20 January 1649 Charles I of England went on trial for treason and other less specified high crimes. Bogarting the weed, maybe? He was executed 10 days later by having his 'ead whacked off in one blow.

In other history, here's an interesting piece on a Republican president who tried to stop a depression by spending all kinds of money and proposing scads of new programs. The parallels are explicit, mentioned, and hopefully will guide the wiser among us to consider treading lightly amidst the current economic troubles.

HAH! I crack myself up sometimes. The government intervention failboat is building up steam to take us off into glorious prosperity amid rainbows and puppies. Right until it sinks and takes what remains of the economy down with it. Hopefully, by then I will be sitting on an even larger pile of guns and ammo and laughing maniacally at the big government types.

I'm also going to take the opportunity for a pre-emptive "told you so". I didn't vote for Obamarama, I don't endorse a single one of his policies I have read about yet, and I don't hold out much hope for anything good to come out of his administration. All you fuckers that voted for him better get used to that phrase, because you'll hear it a lot. Incidentally, here's a handy way to keep score.

While we wait for action on the promises, here's an amusing bludgeoning of Thomas Friedman's new book. It doesn't compare to the rhetorical beatdown Matt Taibbi handed to Friedman last time, but it's still pretty good.

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A Bit Late

As the waning days of the Bush administration dwindle away, we're getting close to one of my favorite moments in any presidential administration: the last-minute pardons. It's always educational to see who gets the cut. Whether you pardon your co-conspirators to prevent them from testifying against you later, or you give a tax dodger a pass because his well-endowed ex-wife spent a few nights in the White House, it's all good. We'll see what W can come up with before he leaves.

Any way things go, if you think you might need a pardon, I think it's probably a bit late to get on the list. However, start planning ahead. Request your FBI file, so you can be prepared when the next guy gets ready to leave.



The Government Is Killing You, And For What?

The astute long-time reader of YPS, if such a beast is not mythical, may have figured out by now we view the War on [Some] Drugs with a hearty helping of loathing and disdain. Radley Balko points out many of the problems our decades long campaign against incorrect substances has caused. All of his points are valid, and he repeatedly brings up a point that I’m going to focus on today.

The government is killing innocent people so somebody else won’t get high. This is the alpha and omega of the war on drugs. In the minds of the people tasked with protecting your welfare, killing some of you so someone doesn’t smoke a joint is a perfectly acceptable trade-off. Because little Billy down the street might get high, the government is going to blow missionaries out of the sky and shoot little old ladies.

I feel so much safer because of this, don’t you?

I really don’t know what kind of bankrupt morality someone must have to think this is acceptable. I have a sneaking suspicion I’ll find out in the coming months because I intend to ask. I would like, if you are inclined to agree with us about the futility of the great crusade, you to bring this up with people when the topic arises. Ask folks if drugs are such a threat to our society that killing innocent people to stop drug use is justified. The answers may be illuminating. Plus, if it causes one person to think about the issue differently, it might be worth it.

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Off The Lawn

Houston, in a vain attempt to make the city nicer, kinda sorta thinks about banning cars parked in your lawn.

Two observations come immediately to mind. One, you've got to get a slight super-majority of neighborhood residents to go for it. Good luck with that. Two, I don't see anything that would prohibit what some of the craftier residents of Pasadena have done. I've seen several houses in Pasadena where they paved the entire front yard. I don't think Houston has quite thought through their clever plan in that regard.

I'll insert the standard libertarian disclaimer about the government shouldn't be involved. I'm too lazy today to make any argument for or against the proposal besides pointing out the practical issues.

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My Head Hurts

So instead of something substantial, I give you the two themes of the upcoming administration.

Hope and Change.

And a giant Squid.

The three themes of the new administration are Hope, Change, and Giant Squids. And an almost fanatical devotion to...

Ah, screw it, I'm going home.

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Governor Kay?

So, we got the mail inviting J to donate money to the exploratory committee for Kay Bailey Hutchison, who is thinking about fixin' to start runnin' for Governor. She was a mediocre senator, so I suppose she'd make a mediocre governor. Would she be better or worse than the current aggie with the shellaced hair we've got in Austin now? Who knows? I vote for slightly worse, with an off chance of better.

The problem with practical politics is the people that end up running for office. The best and the brightest don't get involved, only the venal, the busybodies, and the power-hungry.

In any event, since Rick Perry has a lock on the position for the moment, she'll have to beat him in the primary. The attempt and the campaign should make for some entertainment, which is really all I can hope for out of the whole mess. I'm certainly not going to get someone who is concerned about the creeping expansion of the state.

On the donk side, I notice one of the younger generation has signed up for "Bill White For Texas" on Facebook. I guess Bill White has decided he was such a success at straightening out Houston, he's gonna move on to Austin and fix the whole damn state. Funny, Houston doesn't seem fixed to me, just slightly less broken than when Lee P. was mayor. In any event, I don't think Bill White can win statewide. Of course, my predictions on these matters are notoriously flawed. I'll go with the complete opposite of what I really think: Kay takes the primary and Bill beats her in the general election. This way, I'm on the record as predicting the outcome should that circumstance come to pass. I'm also in there saying it's the opposite of what I think, so if goes differently, I can claim the actual outcome as my thoughts on the matter. I'll get the hang of this prognostication thing yet, if only by making so many predictions one of them has to come true.

Of course, the burning question now becomes: who gets the Senate seat? I guess we could also ask who gets to be Mayor of Houston, but that's definitely a booby prize by any stretch of the imagination.

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Plywood and Other Hazards

Continuing our accidental theme of chemistry for the week, I present to you the MSDS for UF Bonded Wood Products, aka plywood.

I note Georgia-Pacific feels it improbable that you folks out there will eat plywood, as the Ingestion hazard is "Not applicable under normal conditions of use." I guess G-P has a little more faith in y'all than some might.



The Modern Regulatory State, Licensing Edition

Some days, you follow the rabbit down the hole and end up in Wonderland. Other days, it’s more like an extended, Kafkaesque nightmare. It all depends on which rabbit you chase down which hole. Today’s adventure in absurdity comes courtesy of my somewhat beloved state of Texas. Actually, the exercise didn’t start out as an excursion into the excesses and absurdities of the regulatory state, it just ended up there. Let’s start from the beginning.

In an attempt to give me things that will entertain not only me but her as well, young N gave me books for both my birthday and Christmas. My birthday gift was a lovely tome on how to make fireworks and Christmas brought another addition to the chemistry library. So, as we were sitting around over the holidays, I mentioned that laboratory glassware was easily available from AS&S or United Nuclear. After a brief digression into young N’s fondness for lab glass, J offhandedly chimes in with “Most of that stuff is illegal or requires a corporate license to possess.”

Wait, what? I need a license for borosilicate glassware? Okay, I’ll bite. What, precisely, is illegal and what license are we talking about? "Lab glass and a corporate lab license." Umm, that's not really enough detail, dear. It’s off to the State of Texas website, home to all manner of strange and wondrous information. So, for all of you contemplating an exciting adventure in chemistry experiments and/or illicit manufacture of methamphetamines at home, be forewarned. The following items are illegal for you to own without the requisite permit in Texas:

(A) a condenser;

(B) a distilling apparatus;

(C) a vacuum drier;

(D) a three-neck or distilling flask;

(E) a tableting machine;

(F) an encapsulating machine;

(G) a filter, Buchner, or separatory funnel;

(H) an Erlenmeyer, two-neck, or single-neck flask;

(I) a round-bottom, Florence, thermometer, or filtering flask;

(J) a Soxhlet extractor;

(K) a transformer;

(L) a flask heater;

(M) a heating mantel; or

(N) an adaptor tube.

As a slight digression from my main point, I’ll point out the above is the chemical laboratory apparatus list. An entirely separate list covers which items the state considers to be drug paraphernalia. I’ll note in passing the drug paraphernalia list includes “a container or other object used or intended for use in storing or concealing a controlled substance”. Any object under the sun in which you can place another object can be considered drug paraphernalia. The abuses of common sense involved in that phrase alone are staggering, but not terribly surprising given the weapons grade idiocy displayed by most aspects of the War on [Some] Drugs.

Anyhow, if you decide to chump off and buy your junior scientist about the house a chemistry kit (available here and here, for example) you’re breaking the law, you criminal deviant. Why? Because both of those kits contain the dreaded Erlenmeyer flask, scourge of civilization! And probably a separatory or filter funnel as well, although I suppose one could do some basic lab work without a funnel. Of course, you’re golden if you go and apply for your Chemical Laboratory Apparatus Transfer License like a good little citizen. Be warned, however, by getting a license you consent to maintain and secure your lab apparatus in accordance with the regulations established by the Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety. You also consent to inspection of your apparatus and the premises it resides upon under a regulatory scheme decided upon by said director. Sounds cool, huh? I know giving the state carte blanche to come into my home and inspect the place and my stuff is high on my list of fun things to do things to avoid at all costs. (See also: FFL, Why T Doesn’t Have One)

To summarize the information I have found: buy a chemistry kit from Target, commit a felony. Or get a permit and consent to regulation and inspection of your chemistry kit and house. Any questions? If so, I suggest you get competent legal counsel. I also recommend you peruse the Controlled Substances Act in its entirety. There are some combinations of items which are sufficient to get you arrested for things much worse than simple possession of a chemistry kit. (It also gives a fair amount of insight into why trailer-park meth labs blow up with the regularity, too.) When you get done, rethink raising your sprog with an appreciation and understanding of science. It doesn’t appear to be a good idea.

Also, to call further attention to the ways in which Texas overreaches its bounds, here is a helpful list of licenses one might need from the state. Since it doesn’t include the aforementioned Chemical Laboratory Apparatus Transfer License, it is obviously incomplete even though it contains 508 items. The similar list of federal licenses is left as an exercise for the reader with more time than me.

In any event, my desire to conduct chemistry experiments at home with the child has undergone a rather sudden decrease in intensity. The downside just doesn’t seem worth it.

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New Year

So, I think this marks the official first post of the new year, unless you subscribe to some alternate calendaring methodology, in which case I can't help you. A bleak, but possibly accurate, view of the coming year can be found here. Nothing like jokes about babies drinking whiskey to start the year off right.

So, what does the year have in store? Rumor has it a new President will be sworn in soon. I remain dubious the change promised will be anything needed. Already cabinet picks are dropping out to spend more time with their ethical lapses families. After all, we wouldn't want the Obamarama to be tainted by the past actions of his cabinet. Let's wait until after the 20th and he can be tainted by the current actions of his shiny new cabinet.

In other news, my Longhorns are playing Ohio State tonight. I fully expect Texas to win. I will not rehash the patently absurd BCS rankings which brought us to this point. I will instead hope that Oklahoma gets the ass-whuppin' they so richly deserve.

I'm still processing the remainder of last year, so other deep thoughts will have to wait.

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