Petty Dictators

Here's is what the home of the free has fallen prey to: an endless array of petty functionaries and tinpot bureaucrats determined to save you from yourself and get some government revenue in the process.

Today's example is from the city on the bay, San Francisco. Apparently, infusing liquers or other alcoholic beverages requires a special license. This comes as a bit of a shock to most of the bar owners, who were, to the individual, reportedly unaware of the law.

Being a cynical bastard I might think the SF office of the state ABC has figured out a lucrative source of funding via fine for a chronically cash-strapped state. You may find an alternative explanation that doesn't rely on the nature of mankind in general and low-ranking government drones in particular. I'm willing to bet my explanation is more likely to be correct.

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So, in a random impulse purchase at the liquor store I bought a bottle of Seagram's 7 Dark Honey. This goes along with my bottle of Barenschweiger (sp?) and Wild Turkey American Honey. After acquiring 3 bottles of honey liqueur and/or whiskey I thought I had better figure out some drink recipes.

We assume all of our readers are bright enough to come up with the obvious mixers like Coke or what have you. May we suggest using cream soda? We've been through a number of brands after J's initial (and inspired) suggestion. The current favorite is Jones Cream Soda using real cane sugar. Throw some ice in a glass, throw some cream soda in, and top off with a generous amount of Seagram's Dark Honey. Adjust the booze/ice/cream soda ratio to your liking.

I might also suggest making a variation of an Irish Coffee. Here's your ingredient list:

  • 2 tablespoon(s) whipped cream
  • 1 oz. Seagram's 7 Dark Honey
  • 3 oz. fresh brewed coffee
  • 1 tsp. honey
You should, if you drink at all, be able to figure out how it's assembled.

While we're on the topic, we also heartily suggest using the Jones Cream Soda with other mixers. Take a highball glass and add a shot of 3 Olives Cherry Vodka, a shot of Stoli Vanil, and top off with the Jones. It's very nice. A shot of the Stoli Vanil works well with the Jones, too. You may find other uses if you try.



Terry Lowry, the Republican Party & the EEEVIL Libertarian Boogeymen

If you're not familiar with Mr. Terry Lowry and his activities, suffice it to say that he has long held an interesting reputation within local Republican activist circles. He's a semi-insider (precinct chair) who claims to host weekday radio programs on FM 100.7 and/or AM 1110 . The problem is if you visit either website, the timeslot he claims to inhabit on the FM frequency actually lists a radio show hosted by a Ms. Marsha Lambeth, and his claimed AM slot is hosted by a Mr. Ray Lucia. I'm sure at one point, he hosted a show somewhere, no doubt tuned into by a couple of family members and/or someone in the listening area with a busted radio. After all, he prints a fantabulous picture of himself over and over on his newsletter that looks about 25 years old where he sports what is I'm sure is his "trademark" stretch-mark hiding mustache and wearing some giant earmuff headphones around his neck. That has to make him radio legit, right?

Now, all joking aside, I'm betting on a personal level, Mr. Lowry is an amiable man; however, what he is really known for is his "Link Letter". This "publication", if you want to call it that, is an amateurish, 70's style, poorly printed mailer, which inside is basically nothing more than a collection of candidate ads, some tabloid-style rumor filled or reprinted articles, and a couple of pages dedicated to who Mr. Lowry personally endorses.

The dirty little secret about the "Link Letter" is, the trick to getting a personal endorsement from Mr. Lowry is having some cash that you're willing to hand over to Mr. Lowry. Oh, and taking him for a couple of meals doesn't hurt either. See, he explains on his "How are Endorsements Made?" page that he meets personally with every candidate, and from what I understand from a few resources, you almost can't get a "personal meeting" without buying the man a meal. Nice gig if you can get enough people to sign up, I guess. That summation made, I honestly think Big Jolly and The County Seat have captured the essence of the Link Letter from a far more interesting perspective than I ever could, so I'll leave the further information to them, if you're interested.

Now, I have to waste a little space to commend whoever compiles the mailing lists for the infamous "Link Letter". The last time there was a Republican primary in this State, the new and improved Y-P-S Manor was little more than a lump of dirt in the back of an obscure suburban neighborhood in South Montgomery County. This primary season, we actually received a "Link Letter" to the Manor, although I found it odd that it was addressed to the only individual in our household whose voting registration is listed "in suspense". Long story short, this person only used our address as a permanent one for a short period and no longer does so.

All this introductory stuff aside though and the point of my screed du jour, is that the common "scare" theme of Mr. Lowry's "Letter" this year is something I've heard in several circles: all "Christian Conservatives" need to "beware" because there's an evil Libertarian force trying to hijack the Republican party. From a personal perspective, and living with one of these "evil" Libertarians myself, I can convey the following message to all good, God fearing Republicans: true Libertarians wrote off the Republican party as worthless years ago. Most Libertarians are satisfied holding true to their never ending competition for ideological purity while steadfastly maintaining their hefty, but ideologically pure 1% voting block.

Now, ladies and gentlemen, here are the facts. Yes, there is a force trying to take over the party, but we've been here in one form or another all along.

Who are we?

Many of us were on the party "inside", (I personally haven't missed a Republican primary since I became of voting age and was myself a precinct chair & member of the HCRP) but the Republican party moved so far away from us and our ideals we could no longer tolerate the hypocrisy.

We've grown tired of the unkept promises, and of the officeholders who run on one set of issues and govern on another. Some us tried to hold our noses and vote for some abominable characters for the "good of the party" and some of us inevitably couldn't bear it. So we suffered while casting our ballots as the not-so ideologically pure 1%. Many of these folks I believe are the origins of the TEA party revolution, although I don't personally consider myself a TEA party activist.

Many of us are the children of Goldwater Conservatism and the Reagan Revolution.

We're sick of what the spoiled and sense of entitled Baby Boomers have done and continue to do to our country.

We're ready to combat the incremental Socialism and Communism that has oozed like some disease into our system.

We're ready for true constitutionalism and actual capitalism, not the crony variety where failure is "bailed out" by the so-called stewards of our hard earned money.

We're smart, we know who are the few good guys in government, and we back them. Unfortunately, most of those currently in power (regardless of party) are drunk with that power, and have time and time again proven their inability to provide the form of government we've tried to elect.

We don't want the absence of Government regulation, except where you think we need it; we want the Government out of our business.

We believe Government is evil and almost everything it touches fails.

We believe in the liberty and freedom granted to us by God, not by Government.

We believe the power to tax is the power to destroy.

Fundamentally, we believe that the promise of opportunity is as it was during the time of our founders.

We want the Federal Government to stick to the Enumerated Powers so eloquently stated in Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution, and we want our State governments to intrude upon us as little as possible.

We believe that our American Consitution is the most perfect system of Government ever codified.

We believe that our Founders provided us with an exit strategy and we're trying so very desperately to not use it.

So, to further our efforts, we voice our malcontent...and over the years we were placated and preached at by our so-called "leaders" and "voices" that a third party was not the answer. We've been told time and time again we need to change the party from within, at the primary level. Well, that's exactly what we're doing, and that means some of these self-proclaimed "voices" and "leaders" who are part of the problem have got to go.

We are our own leaders, we have our families, and we don't need you.

I can imagine the prospect of losing power to someone who has spent his or her life living off the spoils of Government largess, is very daunting. My goodness, Mr. or Mrs. Government official, you might actually have to GET A REAL JOB and live by the horrid laws to which you've subjected the rest of us.

So now to hang on your sacred power you've resorted to lying about us and calling us names.

We, the liberty minded voters of the Republican party, are the people who the wannabe hanger-oners and political extortionists like Terry Lowry are calling the "libertarians who are trying to hijack the party."

The truth is that those like Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, John McCain, Charlie Crist, Lindsay Graham, Chuck Hagel, Rick Perry, Kay Bailey Hutchison, and even Terry Lowry are the ones who hijacked and perverted the ideals of the Republican party, and now these people and those like them need to recognize that they've failed our country. It is time for them to step aside and give someone else a shot.

And if you don't, we'll do our best to put you aside.

...I'm J, and I approved this message.


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One Sentence Review: Market Forces

Some Brit disenchanted with globalization and the free market rewrote The Cold Cash War for the 21st century.



Friday Fun Links

I've been at a class the last two days where the amount of information delivered was far more than could have been accommodated in the time allotted. My brain hurts. So I give you links.

Cool clocks.

Make your own proxy server.

I've been using this program for unit conversions for years. If there's a better one, let me know.

Twilight explained.

And I think that's it for the week.

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Desperately Seeking Relevance

So, is it just me or is the Mount Vernon Statement an attempt by the same old people to remain relevant to the Tea Party movement?



Glowing Couture

One of the nice things about the geek inheriting the earth is the wide variety of clothing now available. The downside? Most of the items are t-shirts. There's an amazing variety of themes, motifs, catchphrases and icons you can get on a t-shirt. Speaking as someone with both a BSG-75 and a Stormtrooper Skull & Crossbones in the closet, I have no issue with the proliferation of t-shirts.

However, some of us have to go to work everyday in corporate America. At this point, your clothing choices dwindle dramatically. So it's always nice to see an item that works both as social signifier and tasteful clothing, like this scarf. I'm thinking about one for either iridium or silver to wear in those rare moments here in Houston when it's cold.

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I will freely admit I think a vast majority of my tax money goes to things that are either constitutionally suspect, generally worthless, or overpriced. However, if the government is going to spend my money on things, I expect results.

I'd say a megawatt class laser destroying a ballistic missile during boost in under 2 minutes qualifies. Besides, it's a megawatt class laser. That's cool in and of itself. For purposes of comparison, the little laser pointers everyone uses to annoy cats are in the milliwatt range. The laser they used on Thursday is a billion times more powerful. I'd like to think Ted Maiman would be impressed.

If that's not enough 'splodey goodness for the morning, somebody went and built himself a gauss pistol. (Thanks Tam!) A little unwieldy and a lot underpowered, but technology proceeds apace. I have confidence that someday we'll get the power density high enough for a smaller and more effective version. We may be building a dystopian nightmare after all, but we'll have some cool guns to enforce and/or revolt against the system.

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So, the afore-mentioned Michael Berry read part of yesterday's blog post on air. Which is cool and all, as I'm glad to be making a contribution to the public discourse. However, a link or something on his blog might have been nice.

UPDATE: The audio is at this link for a download. It's at about 1:15 in. Go here to get the streaming audio. Way to snip the entire argument, Michael.

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So I didn't listen to Debra Medina on Glenn Beck live this morning, unlike J. Instead I got the endless replay from Michael Berry on the way home. Apparently Mr. Berry has his knickers in a twist because Ms. Medina answered "I don't know" when asked if she thought the US government had any involvement with the 9/11 attacks. Apparently the only correct answer to the question is "no" or else Glenn Beck will mock you and the former city councilman will pile on.

First off, the irony of Glenn Beck mocking someone for not believing the official version of events should be lost on no one. How much time did Beck spend asking questions about a birth certificate? None, right?

Secondly, let's discuss some of the more glorious moments in the history of the United States. Shall we list the times the FBI illegally spied on citizens for expressing different political opinions? All 2000+ of them over 15 years? There are the multiple documented cases of the FBI killing citizens for no real good reasons. Fred Hampton and Vicki Weaver might have something more to say about that if they hadn't been shot dead. We could also discuss some of the more gruesome medical experiments the government decided to conduct on its citizens. Maybe I'm cynical, but given the government's past willingness to visit barbaric indignities upon innocent citizens and then try to cover it up I can see how someone might not believe the feds when they claim innocence.

Finally, I'll ask a reasonable doubt question. There were, in 2001, approximately 1.6 million federal employees. Neither Glenn Beck or Michael Berry or anybody else can say with absolute certainty none of those employees had anything to do with 9/11. If they did, they sure as hell wouldn't admit guilt after the fact, now would they? The evidence would have been shredded before close of business that day.

Now, I don't have any good evidence the government had any direct involvement. I don't think they did; however, I'm not willing to rule the possibility out either. I don't know if there was direct involvement or not, but apparently that's not an acceptable answer if you want to be a "legitimate" Republican candidate. Not being a Republican, it's not really my problem.

Now, admittedly, I'm a cynical bastard with a low opinion of the political process. Given that, you'll excuse me if I think this is yet another attempt to protect the mainstream candidates from insurgents outside the traditional party power structure. Team affiliation trumps principle for too many people anymore. It is more important to elect someone with the right letter after their name than someone who shares your beliefs and principles. I wish the GOP in Texas the best of luck with this approach, but I would think the entire Tea Party phenomenon has pointed out a significant subset of the electorate is sick of it.

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I must admit I am taking a great deal of joy watching the frozen contents of the heavens drop down upon the greater DC metro area. I am not, strangely for me, taking joy in the misery and suffering of those trapped in the snow, as documented here. I do feel for my friends trapped in the snow, and wish them all the best.

No, I'm just happy I don't live there anymore. From 1979 on and off through 1995 I lived in one of the sleepier Virginia suburbs of DC. I know all too well what the weather is doing to the area. As a result of that knowledge, I live on the Gulf Coast of Texas. It snows about once every 5 years down here. I am enjoying the validation of my lifestyle choice of not living where snow is a regular winter occurrence.

Yes, I may get hurricanes, but you know what? It's warm when they blow through here. For all of you trapped in the snow, I can only second the advice found here.
Stay inside. Dress warmly. Start drinking now.
On that note, I leave y'all to it.

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Medina on Beck

Disclaimer: I did not vote Perry in the last election. For the first time in my life, 4 years ago I actually voted Libertarian for Governor. I don't even remember that guy's name.

I believe Perry's a big talker during campaign time, a liar, and has been tragic for Texas. I attended a Perry rally some years ago where he looked us all in the face, made some promises, and when faced with actually keeping them, turned tail and ran like a frightened child.

I decided a couple of months ago that Debra Medina was the best candidate on the Republican ballot. She is the only candidate who actually follows the Republican Party of Texas' written platform. Kay Bailey Hutchison is covered in the stench of DC and she's pro Rowe v. Wade, so for me, not an option.

I listened to the Medina interview with Glenn Beck live on the radio. It was pretty obvious that Glenn kind of went into it with a chip on his shoulder, and Medina was nervous. Also obvious is that Medina is not terribly used to national exposure. She should've been more succinct, listened more to the actual questions, and answered them more directly. I think she talked too fast, over answered a little, and I don't think this was her best performance. I also know that she has been heavily criticized locally for not being more specific on questions, and I think in this instance she went too heavily in the opposite direction.

That said, I think Beck set her up, and not being a slick professional politician, she fell right into the trap. Beck shilled for the Perry campaign on this one, pure and simple. Beck's behavior and treatment of her was reprehensible, and shame on Pat Gray (a former Houstonian) for following right along like some pantywaste wanna-be who just wants to be accepted by the "in" crowd. Of course I guess Grey does what he must, since Beck signs his paychecks. In short, the Beck show treated Debra Medina as nasty as I've seen the mainstream media treat Sarah Palin.

I've seen several requests from posters on various sites to see transcripts from the interview. I honestly don't believe reading a transcript will do much justice to the tone which was apparent from the outset...just contemptuous. I was glad for the Medina campaign for her to get the exposure, but only really learned from listening that Glenn Beck has a streak of Chris Matthews or Joy Behar in him when someone doesn't share his exact orthodoxy.

I am re-evaluating whether I will continue to listen to Glenn Beck's program in the future. In my local market, Laura Ingraham shares the time slot on KSEV, and she still does a pretty good show.


A Morning Down the Rabbit Hole, Ballistics Edition

So, I’m going through my morning links as I drink coffee. Uncle posts a link up to an article sort of explaining ballistic coefficient. Being afflicted with a technical education, the explanation raised more questions than it answered. So I went looking for answers. That might have been a mistake. Several links and a fair amount of time later, I found all kinds of answers. In turn, I have way more questions. Isn’t that just always the way?

I’ll give you the short answer: Ballistic coefficient is an agreed upon lie. It fudges the real world into a single number that we’ve all agreed to use because it’s usually good enough for what we’re doing. Strangely, I’m reminded of API pressure calcs.

Of course, the caveat here is usually. The longer the range gets, the less useful BC becomes. And once you hit the transonic boundary, it becomes even less useful. What’s the most useful answer? Surprising absolutely no one, actual real world test data is the gold standard. Got a Doppler radar to measure bullet velocities in flight? No? Hmm. Neither do I. No wonder everybody uses BC, especially for cross-platform comparisons.

Anyhow, more on ballistic coefficient can be found on Wikipedia. You can also find a Marksmanship book on Wikibooks.

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Paper Rules

I was just reading an article over at New Scientist about the ephemeral nature of all digital data and how this might, in the short or long-term, end up screwing us all if we don't get better archival storage systems. We're currently coping with a variation of the problem at YPS Manor. We have stacks and stacks of 3.5" floppies around, and absolutely no idea what's on them. We have one machine left that even has a 3.5" drive, and its reliability is suspect. So added to the list of things to do is check out the 3.5" disks once we get a drive.

The article also notes the best material for archival purposes is still paper, if kept and stored correctly. Acid-free paper, I assume, but the article makes no mention. I recall somewhere near the end of Schismatrix a similar conclusion being reached about the need for paper as archival storage.

Of course, since I'm not giving up my books anytime soon (read that as "before death") it's not really relevant for me personally. However, it does add to my distrust of the Kindle and other e-books.

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More Mortgage Messiness

Johnny L. continues his quest to point out how stupid policy contributed to the mortgage crisis.

Ken Lewis isn't going to go gentle into that good night, either. I can't say as I really blame him, either. He got strong-armed into the Merrill Lynch deal and now they're going to try to bust him for it? I'd go scorched earth on Treasury and the Fed in a heartbeat.

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Dance Selfishly

So, today is Groundhog Day. And Candlemas. And Ayn Rand's birthday. Frankly, I have no idea what I'm supposed to do to celebrate. Do I light a candle and ask a groundhog if acting in my rational self-interest will bring on 6 more weeks of winter? I'm so confused.

I should have celebrated Imbolc yesterday instead of worrying about it today. Setting things on fire and drinking heavily seems to be the Celtic approach to all holidays.