Posts belonging to Category Random Ramblings

Americans increasingly in favor of gay marriage, gun rights –,0,5261310.story

More Americans are in favor of gay marriage, and more place the importance of gun owner rights above gun control, according to a new Pew Research Center poll. While support for gay marriage and gun owners is on the rise, that increase is one that bodes well for opposite ends of the political spectrum, providing mixed signals to those still complacent with the established social standards of the past decade and beyond.

I emphasized the part that I find interesting.  So why do these positions have to occupy opposite ends of the political spectrum?  Is it impossible to hold both opinions without being one or the other?

I would think that if one approaches life from the position of maximum liberty and minimum restraint that one might favor both positions.  I certainly do (in actuality I favor getting government out of both areas of interest).

The Stupid Bowl is Coming!

All you slovenly North Texans need to get your crap together and make sure you polish everything to a bright, shiny finish before the Stupid Bowl comes to town next month.  Also, you need to be on your best behavior.

Or at least that’s the message I’m getting from the various cities involved in this massive boondoggle.  While the level of rhetoric is steadily being ratcheted up to 11 (you can’t watch Fox 4 anymore without a “live” reporter breathlessly intoning on the latest 18-wheeler to arrive or the current status of tent construction), I was somewhat content to just ignore it all (even the creepy Slant 45 initiative), at least until Troy Aikman dropped the final straw on my back at the end of tonight’s 6:30pm news.

I mean it’s bad enough that the City of Arlington has a webpage dedicated to ratting out your messy neighbors (lest we offend any of the delicate sensibilities of the hoity-toity Stupid Bowl visitors as they visit Arlington’s Grand-Theft-Stadium), but now we’ve got Troy Aikman on TV telling us we all need to act appropriately when visitors come to town.

Unfortunately, I was not able to find a copy of this sanctimonious bullshit online, or I’d link it here, but it pissed me right the hell off to be lectured on hospitality and how to act by a guy whose claim to fame is that he could play a game that is more known for the misbehavior of its players than anything else.

Aikman, you can shove your commercial and your Stupid Bowl XLV nonsense up your ass (perhaps the commercial will make nice viewing for you until you get your head out of there).

Another Lesson

Aside from “don’t show your ass to the police in public,” there seems to me to be another lesson to be learned from the Cambridge Incident:  make sure your neighbors know you. 

Now you don’t have to go over and spend a lot of time with your neighbors, but it certainly helps if they at least know you by sight, if not by name.  It would have saved everyone a lot of grief if the neighbor who spotted Professor Gates breaking into his house knew that it was him, and not some random thief.  If I were to have to break into my house at some point, I know that at least the neighbors around me know that I belong here.  And if I saw one of my neighbors trying to get in through a window, I’d probably go over and see if I could help somehow.  But it sounds like in Professor Gates’ neighborhood no one knows anyone else, which is truly unfortunate. 

Grimly Amused

When I got my medical first responder certificate I built myself a first aid kit using the recommendations from the textbook.  I used several online suppliers to get some of the things you can’t find in stores so now I get emails from a couple of them with their specials.

I was slightly amused to open my email a few minutes ago to see that one of them was running a July 4th special on products for treating “burns, blisters, infections and 4th of July injuries,”  including the WaterJel 5’x6’ Fire Blanket

Let’s hope that none of us has the kind of 4th that requires a fire blanket.

Nothing New Under The Sun…

It would appear that modern man does not have a monopoly on bad taste:

The glittering “grills” of some hip-hop stars aren’t exactly unprecedented. Sophisticated dentistry allowed Native Americans to add bling to their teeth as far back as 2,500 years ago, a new study says.

Ancient peoples of southern North America went to “dentists”—among the earliest known—to beautify their chompers with notches, grooves, and semiprecious gems, according to a recent analysis of thousands of teeth examined from collections in Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (such as the skull above, found in Chiapas, Mexico).

Make sure to click on the link to the article to get a glimpse of an ancient skull with gem stones embedded in its teeth.  I wonder if the next discovery will be the remains of ox-carts with giant wheels and spinners.  raspberry

Funny Product Warning: Run Away!  Run Away!

As part of my pre-SCHIP cigar acquisition program I also bought a couple of inexpensive humidors through eBay.  They came with analog hygrometers but I decided that I would add a digital one to each humidor that also included a thermometer, since you have to maintain both humidity and temperature for optimal cigar storage.

I ordered two of the Western Humidor Caliber III units and they arrived today.  Analog hygrometers usually require calibration and there are a number of methods that usually involve water, salt, and plastic bags.  This digital one, though, does not require calibration and it had the following warning on the sheet that accompanied it:

WARNING:  This is an electronic instrument.  To maintain the warranty of this product and enjoy many years of error free operation, do not attempt to perform the following; DO NOT wrap this gauge in a wet towel to test the accuracy.  DO NOT attempt to perform the salt test.  DO NOT submerge the gauge in water!  DO NOT microwave or insert in an oven.  Should anyone suggest any of the above to test the accuracy of the CALIBER III ™, we recommend that you run from them immediately!  If you need help to any questions, please call us directly…

I have to give credit to the folks at Western Humidor for making my day with this product warning.

No Favors

Jeff, at Alphecca, had a post over the weekend in which he commented about people who abandon puppies and kittens.  Perhaps some people suffer under the delusion that pets can somehow be “returned to nature,” but that’s not the case for domesticated animals.  It’s a cowardly, evil practice, and it does the animals no favors to do so.

I wrote about this topic a few years ago and this occasion seems like a good reason to recycle that old post (it’s environmentally friendly!):

Donor Animals

A recent case of evil animal cruelty got me to thinking a little about a somewhat related topic: unwanted animals.

Growing up in a rural area of East Texas, we frequently would have dogs or cats show up at our house after their owners had dumped them nearby.  Some people have the mistaken idea that releasing an animal in the country is somehow better for them than taking them to a shelter or otherwise taking responsibility for them.  In case anyone is still operating under this delusion, I’d like to give a few details of the reality of life for an abandoned animal in the country.  They don’t end up living a life of luxury with Farmer Brown or Rancher Joe.  On rare occasions, an animal may make its way into someone’s home (like the old lady that used to live across the road who named her dog “Donor,” hence the title of this post, or my own dog, Boots.).  But this is the exception, since none of us have room for all the animals that show up.  Generally, it’s a nasty, brutish, and all too often, short, life.

The first hazard to Fluffy, after being dropped, terrified, on the road, is the road itself, especially the nearby highway.  We would often see dead cats and dogs along the road that were unfamiliar to us.  When you consider an animal that has lived inside or in someone’s yard all its life, it’s easy to see why it wouldn’t understand the dangers of roads.

Provided that Fluffy manages to avoid being pancaked on the highway, he will likely show up at someone’s nearby house.  However, people need to know that there is no organized animal control that people in the country can call to remove stray animals.  To get an idea of the problem, take a look at this post from (in fact, this is only a couple of miles up the road from where I grew up).  Generally, there will be a county humane society, but the animal has to be caught and taken to them.  People out in the country often have to take care of things themselves, and given the lack of availability of animal control, this is no exception.  We were the nice ones in the area, in that we’d generally just try to run stray animals off the property.  My mother’s dog was good at this, as she was genially territorial (i.e. she could be persuaded, on occasion, to put up with another dog).  Any animals that tried to stick around despite my mother’s dog were subject to being shot at with a BB-gun (only one or two pumps, though, as the intent was to scare them away, rather than to cause injuries). 

However, our neighbors were not so kind.  Any stray dogs found on their property were subject to being shot.  This was mostly defensive, since dogs (especially hungry, desperate ones) will often kill chickens and ducks.  In the country, any time livestock is subject to predation, you can expect the landowner to take decisive action against the predator.  They don’t have time to fuss around with traps or drive 30 miles to take the animal to the humane society (or for that matter to take the risk that the animal they’re trying to catch is rabid).

So, if Fluffy survived the highway, and learned to stay away from livestock, and avoided getting shot (and buried behind a barn somewhere), he’s home free, right?

Not exactly.  Out there in East Texas we have wolves, coyotes, bobcats, rattle snakes, copperheads, and water moccasins (cottonmouth).  I’ve personally seen rattlers (nearly stepped on one) and have had to shoot water moccasins.  I’ve heard the wolves at night.  Sometimes they would come right up to our front porch.  Other times we’d hear them and discover they’d been into the watermelons the next morning.  There is also rumored to be an occasional cougar (or some other similar big cat).  I haven’t seen it, but I’ve heard something screaming at night that’s hard to describe, but that I’ve been told is their call.  Oh, yeah, don’t forget the occasional rabid skunk or raccoon.  If Fluffy is lucky enough to avoid being attacked and/or eaten, there’s always rabies…  And if I see a rabid animal, it’s getting shot.  Period.  End of discussion. 

It seems to me that someone who truly cared about little Fluffy wouldn’t have abandoned him in the country.  It’s a fairly simple matter to just go ahead and take him to the shelter or find someone else to take him.  There’s no shame in admitting that you can’t care for him, or that you can’t stand him chewing on the furniture anymore.  In fact, that’s the adult way:  you admit your responsibility and take action to see that the animal is properly cared for.  Dumping an animal in the country is for pathetic cowards.

Genetic Fiddling

I noticed recently that a little girl was born in England who had been genetically engineered to lack the gene for breast cancer.  I can’t help but wonder what else that gene does in the human genome.  I certainly hope that the scientists who did this fully understood the implications of their actions.  Let’s hope that this gene doesn’t also control some subtle aspect of humanity that can’t be seen until the child is nearly grown.

Anyhow, once they get all the kinks worked out and cover all the big items, I have a few smaller items that could use their attention.  To start with they can get to work fixing the gene that causes hair to start growing out of our ears as we get older.  raspberry

Back To The Grind

My department was given a bonus week of time off last week, so I’m just now getting back into work after being gone for 2 1/2 weeks.  It hasn’t been made any easier by the fact that I somehow managed to turn my schedule around during the break so that I was going to bed at 12:00 or 1:00am and getting up at 8:00 or 9:00.  Today’s 6:00am alarm was physically painful and it doesn’t help that I feel like I’m coming down with something (hopefully not the flu, although I completely spazzed and forgot to get a shot so it’s possible). 

Anyhow, once I wrestle the email monster into submission, I might just be able to get something done (it’s not as bad as it could be—only about 175 emails—since most of my partners in crime were also away on vacation).  Regular programming should resume sometime late today or early tomorrow (I’ve got a couple of issues I’m fired up about, given that the Texas legislative session is starting, but haven’t got time for nanny slamming at the moment).

Johnnie Walker - Earworm

The latest Johnnie Walker “Striding Man” commercial features an interesting and energetic instrumental track.  It kept bugging me because I knew that I’d heard it somewhere before.  It turns out that they used a remix of a piece by Karl Jenkins (part of his “Adiemus” project) called In Caelum Fero.  I recognized it because it’s on an Adiemus CD from 1995 that I have in my collection.

In researching the above I also rediscovered the old Johnnie Walker Black ad featuring Never The Same by Supreme Beings of Leisure.  I’d forgotten how much I liked that song.