30 November 2007

Art on-line

Oddly enough, I was just thinking about doing some art again, because we'd seen the art exhibition at Jefferson Hospital of art done by patients. Having been one, I thought I'd contribute.
Then what shows up on the Blogger 'best of' site but this:

Papier Colles

Rico says check it out.
And check out my own electronic art:

(Click on the poster to download it in a larger format.)

29 November 2007

Paper targets

Aim for the center of mass...

Not really George Patton, but so what?

To all those whining, panty-waisted, pathetic maggots out there, it's time for a little refresher course on exactly why we Americans occasionally have to fight wars. See if you can tear yourself away from your "reality" TV and Starbucks for a minute, pull your head out of your flabby ass, and listen up. Abu Ghraib is not "torture" or an "atrocity". This is the kind of thing frat boys, sorority girls, and academy cadets do to newcomers. A little fun at someone else's expense. Certainly no reason to wring your hands or get your panties in a wad. Got that? Islam a peaceful religion? My ass! Millions of these sons-of-bitches are plotting, as we speak, to destroy our country and our way of life any way they can. Some of them are here among us now. They don't want to convert you and don't want to rule you. You are a vile infestation of Allah's paradise. They don't give a shit how "progressive" you are, how peace-loving you are, or how much you sympathize with their cause. They want your ass dead , and they think it is God's will for them to do it. And you think Bush and Cheney are your worst enemies? Some think if we give them a hug or listen to them, then they'll like us... and if you agree? Then you are a pathetic dumb ass! If they manage to get their hands on a nuke, chemical agents, or even some anthrax, you will wish to God we had hunted them down and killed them while we had the chance. Stop bitching about your damn health care, Social Security, gas prices, and your measly 3.25% unemployment rate... and start worrying about you, your family's, and your friends' asses. How many more Americans must be beheaded before you stop blaming Bush for all your troubles ? You've fallen asleep again, maggots! And you may not get another chance!

Opus, always one of my favorites

Click the cartoon to make it readable.

The French guy said what?

Seems that, amazingly, President Sarkozy of France gave a feel-good speech to Congress while in town recently:

"Ladies and gentlemen,
The men and women of my generation heard their grandparents talk about how, in 1917, America saved France at a time when it had reached the final limits of its strength, which it had exhausted in the most absurd and bloodiest of wars.
The men and women of my generation heard their parents talk about how, in 1944, America returned to free Europe from the horrifying tyranny that threatened to enslave it.
Fathers took their sons to see the vast cemeteries where, under thousands of white crosses so far from home, thousands of young American soldiers lay who had fallen not to defend their own freedom but the freedom of all others, not to defend their own families, their own homeland, but to defend humanity as a whole.
Fathers took their sons to the beaches where the young men of America had so heroically landed. They read them the admirable letters of farewell that those twenty-year-old soldiers had written to their families before the battle to tell them: “We don’t consider ourselves heroes. We want this war to be over. But however much dread we may feel, you can count on us.” Before they landed, Eisenhower told them: “The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.”
And as they listened to their fathers, watched movies, read history books and the letters of soldiers who died on the beaches of Normandy and Provence, as they visited the cemeteries where the star-spangled banner flies, the children of my generation understood that these young Americans, twenty years old, were true heroes to whom they owed the fact that they were free people and not slaves. France will never forget the sacrifice of your children.
To those twenty-year-old heroes who gave us everything, to the families of those who never returned, to the children who mourned fathers they barely got a chance to know, I want to express France’s eternal gratitude.
On behalf of my generation, which did not experience war but knows how much it owes to their courage and their sacrifice; on behalf of our children, who must never forget; to all the veterans who are here today and, notably the seven I had the honor to decorate yesterday evening, one of whom, Senator Inouye, belongs to your Congress, I want to express the deep, sincere gratitude of the French people. I want to tell you that whenever an American soldier falls somewhere in the world, I think of what the American army did for France. I think of them and I am sad, as one is sad to lose a member of one’s family."

That would be me, I guess

A badge one can wear proudly.
But remember to duck...

Careful with whom you fuck

Seems that Ann Coulter has some people who come by the house unannounced. Given the serious look she has here, I would suggest to those people that they go find someone else to pick on...

Rico says blonde, cute, and can shoot? Damn...

Me, too

Michelle Malkin reports in her blog that "hysterical opponents interpret my emphasis on the negative public safety and national security consequences of lax immigration enforcement as some sort of blanket indictment of all illegal aliens."
They don't use such wordy, polite phrases with me.
More like, "you are such a negative sumbitch"...
But it's really just me trying to tell the hard side of the story.
Everyone wants everyone to 'just get along'. Not gonna happen.
And if you don't think that there are millions of illegals who would come live here if they could, you're fooling yourself dangerously...
Doesn't anyone remember those shipfuls of illegal Chinese off the West Coast? The Chinese could send over a billion people and scarcely notice the difference. We would, of course...

Civil War for the day

Firing a carbine event at the N-SSA. Note the snappy shirts; seems to be a thing with N-SSA units.

Pull the tab, open the can of worms

When I was much younger, I did some volunteer work at Stanford Hospital, in their rehab facility. I was working on a collapsible cane project, not directly with the patients, but it was a great eye-opener anyway. That's when I found out what 'they' called 'us': TABs.
As in, the Temporarily Able Bodied.
Now that I'm not, of course, I get it.
Given all the things that befall us (accidents, disease, aging), you'd think that people would not be so cavalier about their condition, nor so prejorative about those who've gone before them to that place where things don't work so well.
But, being human, they don't. They think 'hey, I'm healthy, it can't happen to me'.
As the joke goes, want to know how to make God laugh? Tell Him your plans.
I had plans. Now I have different plans. I'm sure God has had a good laugh at both sets...

28 November 2007

Clowns and fools and Fred

Watched, as much as I could stomach anyway, the Republican debate on CNN tonight. Except for my man Fred, a collection of weasels and jerks. The fact that they're all middle-aged white men is not an excuse...

Rudi Guliani: may be out of the race anyway because of 'secret' funding as mayor; overrated for his 'efforts' after 9.11 in any case.
Mike Huckabee: another ex-governor wanting to move up; doesn't have what it takes; we don't want another president from Arkansas anyway.
Duncan Hunter: how any politician from California can afford to be against illegal immigration I don't know, but it's interesting that he tries; but he's another anti-abortion clown, so he needs to go down for that alone.
John McCain: been there, done that, got the t-shirt; go back to Arizona, John.
Ron Paul: they're kidding, right... If he was a Democrat, he'd be Dennis Kucinich.
Mitt Romney: Mormon clown, and a real stick; he's not the worst politician out of Massachusetts (the Kennedys having retired that title permanently), but he's close enough.
Tom Tancredo: no one takes anyone from Colorado seriously, and he's no exception; he says he doesn't believe in evolution and, in his case, he may be right.
Fred Thompson: looks and acts the part; if people open their eyes, maybe he'll go all the way.
All in all, not the best and the brightest, except for Fred...
But between the novelty of electing, for the first time as president, a woman, a black guy, or a guy named Fred, well, I'll take Fred.


Or trans-moggy-fication, if you're English. Seems that one of the little-known side effects of my recent brain injury was a profound switch in my pet alligience, from being a dog person (multiple dogs since I was a child) to being a cat person (I now have my very first cat, Flora). I have also, I believe, changed from being a Dog Person (chasing cars, barking at strangers, sticking my nose up skirts) to being a Cat Person (lolling about in the sunshine, eating whatever is put in front of me by my mistress, and being happy doing nothing all day).

Swatting the Taliban

Seems, according to an article in the Christian Science Monitor, that the Pakistanis are getting tired of the Taliban lolling about in their tribal areas, particularly now that they're using suicide bombers in the so-called 'settled areas' closer to the capital. They just sent 15,000 troops into Swat, in the NorthWest Frontier Province, barely 100 miles from Islamabad. They've killed fifteen militants since arriving last week, with more expected as the 'boots on the ground' settle in for the long war against terrorism. The Taliban has been beheading local security personnel and "imposing their own harsh brand of Islamic law" on the area. Maybe, just maybe, the rest of the Islamic world will get tired of this shit and decide to take out the problem. We can only hope...

The Welsh win again

According to the Census Bureau, who should know, there are a bunch of Smiths in this country, some 2.3 million.
However, there are a million and a half people named Williams, 1.3 million people named Jones (including members of my own family), over a million people named Davis (which is really Dafys and thus Welsh) and even over 750,000 people named Wilson (my middle name, which is Scottish or Irish in origin and, given all the redheaded cousins I have, logically so).
Thus, out of the top ten surnames, four are Celtic, two are Hispanic (Garcia and Rodriguez) and the rest are English (Smith, Johnson, Brown, and Miller).
We win.

A good Haka is one thing, but a full kilt is quite another

The old joke 'what do Scotsmen wear under their kilts?' must have an intimidating punchline... (And isn't that Russell Crowe doing the voiceover at the end?)

27 November 2007

Oh, don't you wish?

Not that you would want to, necessarily, but isn't it delicious to think so?

Harassment, the old school

They're at it again

The LA Times has an article today about rioting for a second night in Paris. Seems two 'Arab youths' were out on a motorcycle and ended up under the wheels of a police car. The investigation is on-going, but the initial report had the kids turning into the path of the car, which then ran over them.
The locals, predictably, went batshit.
They're burning buildings (including the local McDonald's and a police station and, horrors, the library) and cars and throwing the famous French garbage cans. (What would a riot be without a nice garbage can lofted through a plate glass window, I ask you...)
Numerous 'youths' have been arrested, forty officers and firefighters have been injured, and the general hoohah is on-going.
Ah, the French...

Civil War for the day

The Delaware Blues at Winchester in 2003, on a day when, for once, it didn't rain.

26 November 2007

How to handle irritating seatmates:
If you are on an airplane, sitting next to someone who really bothers you, follow these instructions carefully:
1. Quietly and calmly open your laptop case.
2. Remove your laptop.
3. Start up your laptop.
4. Make sure the person who is annoying you can see the screen.
5. Close your eyes, tilt your head upwards to the sky, and move your lips as if you are praying.
6. Then hit this link.

When you deplane, plan on spending some time with several large humorless gentlemen from Homeland Security discussing, at great length and in embarrassing detail, your sense of humor...

Civil War for the day

Confederate artillery firing at the 2004 Olustee reenactment in Florida.

25 November 2007

Immigration hasn't changed much

This from an article in Century magazine, circa 1888, written by T.T. Munger. While it bears a terribly florid Victorian tone, there are many parts that apply to today's immigration situation:

"It can hardly be said that this nation developed its institutions; it decreed them, and the struggle has been to live up to them. We are finding out that we have too much liberty and too little restriction; enough law but a vast amount of lawlessness."
"We turn it into a cry: 'It is a free country, keep it free; the asylum of the poor and oppressed, let them come; the refuge from tyranny, open all the ports; the land of equal rights, give every man an equal chance.' It will not be denied that these are brave words, full of noble sentiments, nor that the realization of them is to be sought. The only question is whether we can carry all this sail of lofty purpose and keep a steady keel; whether we must not ballast the ship of State with solid citizenship instead of filling its decks with a promiscuous throng. There is no question as to the value of liberty and equality and humanity as social factors, but only by what process they are to be realized."
"... those who would settle this question of immigration with the brief logic that we are free nation and must continue free; that, having started out as the asylum of the poor and oppressed, we should continue in this line, come what may."
"The Declaration of Independence has been thought to stand in the way of a restricted immigration. It is a brave utterance, but it is not a binding document. The organic law of the country offers no impediment to a sharply restricted immigration."
"It is a sound political principle that it is the first duty of a nation to secure the conditions necessary to its physical life."
"This nation began its career with a fair degree of homogeneousness. The Puritan and Cavalier, the Dutchman and Quaker, at least understood each other, and cooperated intelligently to the formation of the government. But we are today breeding a diversity in religions, languages, customs, conditions, blood, sentiments, and temperaments such as no nation, except possibly Russia, ever experienced. Granting the assimilating power of free institutions, of climate, food, education, and moral effort, the question remains whether the nation is able to digest the heterogeneous masses it is taking in. If we could rid ourselves of that blind optimism which seems to be the political vice of the American people, and look at this process with a calm and measuring eye, it would wear its proper cast of audacity."
"'Let them come' cries the political optimist. 'We can take care of them', indifferent to the possibility of a social compound that may explode, like carelessly mixed chemicals."
"Five hundred years of political training lie behind and enter into the American citizen; it has taken that time to teach men how to vote and to govern themselves, but are now creating their peers in as many months. These foreigners are not simply here, but they are here clad with citizenship, to act and to be used, make-weights to be thrown on the side of any party that may win them, the special tool of the saloon politician, open to bribery, ready to be massed in labor troubles and the chief factor in them."
"Capital and blind statesmanship are simply reaping what they have sown; they wanted cheap labor but, having got it, they are finding it dear."
"The statistics of foreign immigration and the sources of it are so well known that they scarcely need mention. In the last thiry years, seven and half millions of immigrants have come to us, a considerable fraction of the present population. They and their children number fifteen millions, or one-fourth of the people. During the last decade the immigration numbered about four millions.."
"It is urged that it is not just and merciful to close our ports against the poor, the ignorant, the oppressed, and the debased of other lands."
"It is not a slight thing for a man to change continents, language, citizenship, institutions, customs, hereditary surroundings, and present ties and throw himself into an environment new in every respect save the sky above him. Such an act should be made difficult, so that men shall not rashly undertake it..."
"Immigration is an act fraught with tremendous risks, not only to those who undertake it, but to those among whom it is consummated."
"It is the foreign element that poisons politics, blocks the wheels of industry, fills our prisons and hospitals, defies law, perplexes our schemes of education, lowers the grade of public virtue, confuses labor, supplants the caucus by the saloon, feeds the evil of drink, and turns municipal government into a farce and a shame."
"It is getting felt in many quarters that this process has gone far enough, and that it may be well to exchange our grand idealism for a little common sense and practical statesmanship. The passport seems to be the only available means of restricting immigration so as to exclude that which is undesirable."
"It is not proposed to prohibit foreign immigration; but it is proposed to make it, at least, not so easy a matter as it is at present."

Missed it this year, too

It being National Ammo Day, of course. But since the founder has extended it to a whole week, I still have today to rush out and buy some. You should, too.

A person you might never have suspected

How many Hollywood actors come to mind when you use the word 'conservative'?
Besides Arnold.
In any case, Arnold is governor of California now, and doesn't act much anymore.
How about Ron Silver?
Nope, me neither.
But his blog would indicate he is.
Certainly anyone who puts the phrase "the enemy, which is clearly a world-wide, malignant, metastatic Islamic jihadism" on their blog is no moonbat liberal.

Illegal immigration problems

Seems that folks are complaining (via Michelle Malkin's blog):
"I propose that detention centers large enough to house a hundred thousand or so illegals be built in the desert with proper facilities. The current neighborhoods housing them must be raided and these individuals rounded up. Those who can produce documentation and prove their nationality can be deported to the country of their origin."
A rabid Republican? Nope.
A fervent blogger? Nope.
Tarik Al Maeena, in an op-ed piece in Arab View.
About Mexicans in the US? Nope.
"The rising number of illegals from African and Asian communities has spawned minicities within the city."
New York City? Nope.
Los Angeles? Nope.
Try Jeddah, in Saudi Arabia.
Ain't globalization a bitch?

Pirate for the day

The good old days with my then-new-now-old-and-dear friend Ben in the pirate pub in St. Auggie.

Civil War for the day

A Burnside carbine, model 2 as I recall. A lovely little thing, and now that someone has figured out how to make cartridges for it, worth owning for N-SSA events.

Wake up call, again

However, you know it's really going to be an odd day when the refrain in your head upon waking is Whoopi Goldberg doing one of her characters:
"Around the world in eighty motherfuckin' days... Do, do, do, do, do, do, do do, do, do, do, do, do, dooo..."

24 November 2007

Civil War for the day

Steve Wright, former curator of the Civil War Library and Museum in Philadelphia, at the grave of Louis Wiechmann, one of the Lincoln assassins. Louis was lucky; he didn't hang.

23 November 2007

Poetry as wake-up call

You just know it's going to be an interesting day when what wakes you up, and gets you out of bed, is the constant repetition in your head of part a poem that you'd first read in a cottage, owned by the parents of your high school girlfriend, on the shores of Lake Tahoe.
It was, of course, Kubla Khan by Samuel Coleridge:

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.

That's all I could remember just now, but of course there was more:

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
But oh ! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place ! as holy and enchanted
As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced:
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail:
And 'mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean:
And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!
The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!
A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw:
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight 'twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

The balance, which is probably why I never tried to remember it, is clumsier than the beginning. But, hey, enough opium (actually laudanum, which is tincture of opium in alcohol, and no better for you) and you can write florid Victorian poetry, too...

Civil War for the day

Allan Pinkerton of the Secret Service on horseback. Antietam, Maryland, main eastern theater of the war, September-October 1862. Glass negative (wet collodion). Photograph by Alexander Gardner.
(Photo via the Shorpy site)

22 November 2007

Another tiresome circumlocution

"...said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media."

Maybe the media should stop quoting people who aren't authorized to speak to them...

Oops. Want some ice with that?

Seems that NASA made a little calculation mistake when it was doing the whole global-warming thing awhile back. There was a little 'anomaly' in their calculations, brought on by an apparent Y2K error. Seems that 1998 was not the warmest year on record, and we may not be looking at a long steady rise in temperature after all. Now, oddly enough, this correlates with an observation I made watching local television last night. We've been having an unusually warm Thanksgiving this year (for Philly), with temperatures in the 60s. But when they put up the local records on the local news, what year do you suppose had the highest Thanksgiving temperature? Did you guess 1931. Me, either. But, oddly enough, when NASA redid their calculations, one of the warmest years on record was (there's that coincidence) 1931... Maybe we won't have to relocate the polar bears after all. Though I still think it'd make a great Discovery Channel documentary...

Rush weighs in on the subject

Immigration, of course. I knew the punch line in advance, but it's still a good one. Rico says check it out...

Civil War for the day

For some truly splendid images of the Civil War (along with many many other old-time images), Rico says check it out: Shorpy

21 November 2007

New Zealand Blacks

Before the Haka is performed by the team, the Haka leader, normally an All Black of Maori descent, will instigate the Haka and spur on those who are to perform the Haka with the following:
Ringa pakia
Uma tiraha
Turi whatia
Hope whai ake
Waewae takahia kia kino

(English translation)
Slap the hands against the thighs
Puff out the chest
Bend the knees
Let the hip follow
Stamp the feet as hard as you can.

Ka Mate! Ka Mate!
Ka Ora! Ka Ora!
Tenei te ta ngata puhuru huru
Nana nei i tiki mai
Whakawhiti te ra
A upane ka upane!
A upane kaupane whiti te ra!

(English translation)
It is death! It is death!
It is life! It is life!
This is the hairy person
Who caused the sun to shine
Keep abreast! Keep abreast
The rank! Hold fast!
Into the sun that shines!

Toby Keith tells it

He's a good ol' boy who surely can sing, with the ugliest damn straw... Why can't someone convince him to buy a nicer cowboy hat?

SCOTUS not there yet

The Supreme Court of the United States (thus SCOTUS) has avoided dealing with the Second Amendment since the 1930s. But they've decided to hear an appeal from a DC Circuit Court ruling (2-1) that the virtual ban on guns in the District, especially handguns, violates the Second Amendment.
Now, they're preaching to the choir here, but we'll have to wait and see what the Supremes do with this one. A real political hot potato, especially in an election year, so the Democrats will surely be heard from on this one.
I'm in favor of amending the Constitution, personally, as long and painful a process as that would be.
It'd be simple, however. The Second Amendment now reads "A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." Since no one knows what "well-regulated"(*) nor "militia"(**) means these days, much less "the security of a free State", we'd merely edit it slightly, to clarify things once and for all:

"The right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

Seems clear and simple to me, anyway.
I can only imagine the screaming...

*well-regulated; it means to be well-trained, like a fine clock, regulated, and thus keeping good time. If you've ever seen 'Regulator' or 'Regulated' on the face of an old clock, that's what it meant. It doesn't mean 'overly burdened by stupid laws and regulations'.
**the militia is actually defined in the Constitution as "all able-bodied men between the ages of 18 and 45". It doesn't mean the National Guard, which didn't even exist in those days, nor anything other than every man able to come out of his house, armed, and help defend the country from invaders, domestic or foreign; they're also defined in the Constitution.
Everyone at the time knew, of course:
"I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people, except for a few public officials." George Mason, in Debates in Virginia Convention on Ratification of the Constitution, June 16, 1788
"The militia, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves, ... all men capable of bearing arms;..." Letters from the Federal Farmer to the Republic, 1788
"Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom? Congress shall have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birth-right of an American ... The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the People." Tench Coxe, 1788
From the Virginia submission to the Constitutional Debate of 1789: "a well regulated Militia composed of the body of the people trained to arms is the proper, natural and safe defence of a free State."
The House Committee Report, July 28, 1789: "A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, being the best security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."
The House Committe Report, August 24, 1789: "A well regulated militia, composed of the body of the People, being the best security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."
"...each and every able-bodied male citizen of the respective States, resident therein, who is or shall be of age of eighteen years and under the age of forty-five years (except as is herein after excepted) shall severally and respectively be enrolled in the militia..."
"...every citizen, so enrolled and notified, shall, within six months thereafter, provide himself with a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints, and a knapsack, a pouch, with a box therein, to contain not less than twenty four cartridges, suited to the bore of his musket or firelock, each cartridge to contain a proper quantity of power and ball; or with a good rifle, knapsack, shot-pouch, and power-horn, twenty balls suited to the bore of his rifle, and a quarter of a power of power; and shall appear so armed, accoutred and provided, when called out to exercise or into service..."
"...the Vice-President of the United States, the Officers, judicial and executives, of the government of the United States; the members of both houses of Congress, and their respective officers; all custom house officers, with the clerks; all post officers, and stage-drivers who are employed in the care and conveyance of the mail of the post office of the United States; all Ferrymen employed at any ferry on the post road; all inspectors of exports; all pilots, all mariners actually employed in the sea service of any citizen or merchant within the United States; and all persons who now are or may be hereafter exempted by the laws of the respective states, shall be and are hereby exempted from militia duty..."
Ultimately, of course "the Powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

Civil War for the day

Purloined (electronically, and thus legally) from the Civil War Library & Museum in Philadelphia.
I used it to 'sign' some orders allowing me to cross the lines at the 140th of Gettysburg.
Ended up handing it to a Confederate reenactor in officer's uniform, who turned to his aide and asked: "Jimmy, is that my signature?" A delicious moment...

20 November 2007

Another ghost of WW2

This one was found in Bosnia, of all places; it shows how tough these old warbirds are. The Douglas C-47 was found at an air base near Sarajevo, after a search that began last January. It will be shipped to a museum in Merville, Normandy, as a symbol of D-Day, the Houston Chronicle reported. (Courtesy of our embedded reporter in New Orleans.)

Civil War for the day

The boys of the Delaware Blues pretending to be at Gettysburg then at Gettysburg now.

Peace breaks out

While the Democrats are reluctant to admit that the recent troop surge in Iraq might actually be working, there's evidence on the ground that it is. From a recent New York Times article (courtesy of Michelle Malkin): "The security improvements in most neighborhoods are real. Days now pass without a car bomb, after a high of 44 in the city in February. The number of bodies appearing on Baghdad’s streets has plummeted to about 5 a day, from as many as 35 eight months ago, and suicide bombings across Iraq fell to 16 in October, half the number of last summer and down sharply from a recent peak of 59 in March, the American military says.
"As a result, for the first time in nearly two years, people are moving with freedom around much of this city. In more than 50 interviews across Baghdad, it became clear that while there were still no-go zones, more Iraqis now drive between Sunni and Shiite areas for work, shopping or school, a few even after dark. In the most stable neighborhoods of Baghdad, some secular women are also dressing as they wish. Wedding bands are playing in public again, and at a handful of once shuttered liquor stores customers now line up outside in a collective rebuke to religious vigilantes from the Shiite Mahdi Army.
"Iraqis are clearly surprised and relieved to see commerce and movement finally increase, five months after an extra 30,000 American troops arrived in the country. But the depth and sustainability of the changes remain open to question.
"By one revealing measure of security — whether people who fled their home have returned — the gains are still limited. About 20,000 Iraqis have gone back to their Baghdad homes, a fraction of the more than 4 million who fled nationwide, and the 1.4 million people in Baghdad who are still internally displaced, according to a recent Iraqi Red Crescent Society survey.
Iraqis sound uncertain about the future, but defiantly optimistic."

"Defiantly optimistic." That describes the Republicans pretty well...

19 November 2007

Civil War for the day

High water at Winchester; imagine having to cross this during the War (with your horses and wagon train), when they would have burned all the bridges...

18 November 2007

Why they need our support

Because, whether you support the war or not, they're our next-door neighbors, or the guy who lives down the block. Because, in so many ways, they're us...

Civil War for the day

Mike Benson of the Delaware Blues watches a mortar round head downrange at the Fall Nationals.

I forgot

(Seems the video was too large, by many times the limit. Sorry. It was a folksinger doing a long funny riff on what he forgets due to aging, rather than a brain injury like me...)
Having suffered on-going short-term memory loss from my brain injury, this is more poignant for me than for a lot of people. But all too bitterly true, I'm afraid…

17 November 2007

Chloe Sevigny

I couldn't get the video to upload. Sorry. It was hot... (Probably just as well. It certainly violated the Terms and Conditions of the Blogger folks, and probably the law in one or more states...) Apparently she's made a bunch of other movies, according to imdb.com, but I haven't seen any but this clip. Don't know if the woman can act, but she sure can suck...

Civil War for the day

Ready for the carbine event at the Fall Nationals, 2006.
Like Ron Paul for other things or not, at least this Texan understands the Second Amendment … However, until proven otherwise, I'm with Fred.

Too long

If this video is still in the YouTube section at the top of my blog, Rico says check it out, especially if you know any Marines (or their wives). It's hard to watch without tearing up, at least for me, and especially tough when you see the shots of the guys coming to see their kids at grade school and then the same guys, bound for their third tours in Iraq, with their kids in high school. That means this has been a long war. Too long. (Hell, World War Two was only four years for the Americans...) Let's either figure out how to get it over with, or just drop a fuckin' nuke on the place and come home...

Drunk's the word, apparently

We went to the fourth annual conference for the Angioma Alliance last weekend, down in DC. Fascinating. About 70 people showed, mixed about evenly between the afflicted like me and their caretakers like Chris. I was, in the whole spectrum, pretty well off. A lot of folks much worse than me, and some who'll never get better. The highlight for me, besides having our choice of surgeons (I did mention that the big mahaff in Phoenix thinks he can cut the landmine out of my head, didn't I?) confirmed by others who'd had great results using him, was when I overheard one of the women noting that her internal sensation was just like being drunk. Hey, me, too, I said. Unfortunately, my doc wants me to stop drinking, so I can only be angioma-drunk now, I guess. Doesn't taste as good as single malt, that's for damn sure...

16 November 2007

There's magic, and then there's magic

I'm always amazed by magicians. But this guy is really amazing. Even when you just know what's going to happen (okay, there'll be a live chick in there any second now), it's still a surprise.

Ghosts from the past

Seems this P-38 was sitting there all these years, just under the sand on a beach in Wales where it crash landed during WW2. A recent storm eroding the overlying burden and voila, there it was…

Civil War for the day

"Very nice looking piece. Can you hit anything?" (I know, I know, wrong movie.) That's me in the foreground (in my stylish if totally non-regulation red gloves for handling the powder and shot just in case there's a misfire, which would be bad for the guy with his hands in front of the muzzle), with my gun crew (3-inch Parrott rifle, and an original tube at that) at Fort Clinch in Florida. They never made a summer uniform for the Union army, but Florida would have been a damn good place to have one; it's why I like to do a Confederate 'impression' at summertime reenactments.

Still 'drunk' on life

The dubious joys of having a brain injury continue, alas.
My double vision is still at ten degrees to port, my balance is still compromised, and occasionally my behavior leaves something to be desired.
But we got back the results of the neurological exam and, while not necessarily totally logical, it was very interesting.
Seems that I am really, really smart, except where I'm dumb.
Without going into the minutiae of the report (which I need an interpreter for anyway), my verbal skills are in the high to really high range pretty much across the board. Not a surprise.
What was a surprise was how low the visual skills were; some quite low.
Being the graphics guy I was, I would have thought I'd've done better on that part.
Oddly enough, my old dear friend David, who's pretty damn smart about these things himself, always thought of me as being auditory, rather than visual, so he was right again, as usual...
But overall I continue to surprise even myself with how far I've come in a year.
Am I the 'old' Mark?
Nope. And may never be, for better or worse.
But the 'new' Mark (or what we might call Mark II, in my favorite British nomenclature) isn't so bad.
And beats the hell out of being Mark I Mod 0, trust me...

15 November 2007

All the comforts of home

Bath tents at the 140th of Gettysburg.

14 November 2007

Why we will win this one in the end

Regarding the news about the Marine who put two rounds (aka "double tap") in a wounded insurgent's head in Fallujah, here's a response from a Marine:

It's a safety issue, pure and simple.
After assaulting through a target, we put a security round in everybody's head. Sorry al-Reuters, there's no paddy wagon rolling around Fallujah picking up "prisoners" and offering them a hot cup o' Joe, falafel, and a blanket. There's no time to dick around on the target. You clear the space, dump the chumps, and move on.
Are corpsmen expected to treat wounded terrorists? Negative.
Hey, you Libs, worried about the defense budget? Well, it would be waste, fraud, and abuse for a corpsman to expend one man-minute or a battle dressing on a terrorist. It's much cheaper to just spend the $.02 on a 5.56mm FMJ.
By the way, in our view, terrorists who chop off civilian's heads are not prisoners, they are carcasses. Chopping off a civilian's head is another reason why these idiots are known as "unlawful combatants". It seems that most of the world's journalists have forgotten that fact.
Let me be very clear about this issue. I have looked around the web, and many people get this concept, but there are some stragglers.
Here is your typical Marine sitrep (situation report):
You just took fire from unlawful combatants (no uniform, thus breaking every Geneva Convention there is) shooting from a religious building, attempting to use the sanctuary status of their position as protection. But you're in Fallujah now, and the Marine Corps has decided that they're not playing that game this time. That was Najaf. So you set the mosque on fire and you hose down the terrorists with small arms, launch some AT4 rockets and some 40mm grenades into the building, and suddenly things quiet down.
So you run over there, and find some tangos (bad guys; 'tango' for 't' for 'terrorist', from the old British experience in Malaysia) wounded and pretending to be dead. You are aware that suicide martyrdom is really popular with these idiots, and they think taking some Marines with them would be really cool. So you can risk your life, and the lives of your fire team, by having them cover you while you bend down and search a guy that you think is pretending to be dead for some reason; most of the time these are the guys with the grenade or a vest made of explosives. Also, you don't know who or what is in the next room. You're already speaking English to the rest of your fire team or squad, which lets the terrorists know you are there and you are their enemy. You are speaking loudly because your hearing is poor from shooting at people for several days. So you know that there are many other rooms to enter, and that if anyone is still alive in those rooms, they know that Americans are in the mosque. Meanwhile (three seconds later), you still have this terrorist (that was just shooting at you from a mosque only minutes ago) playing possum. What do you do? You double tap his head, and you go to the next room, that's what.
What about the Geneva Convention and all that 'Law of Land Warfare' stuff? What about it? Without even addressing the issues at hand, your first thought should be: "I'd rather be judged by twelve than carried by six."
Bear in mind that this tactic of double-tapping a fallen terrorist is a perpetual mindset that is reinforced by experience on a minute-by-minute basis.
Second, you are fighting an unlawful combatant in a sanctuary, which is a double no-no on his part.
Third, tactically you are in no position to take prisoners, because there are more rooms to search and clear, and the behavior of said terrorist indicates that he is up to no good. Now, 'no good' in Fallujah is a very large place, and the low end of no-good and the high end of no-good are fundamentally the same: Marines who end up getting hurt or dead.
So there is no compelling reason for you to do anything but double-tap this idiot and get on with the mission.
If you are a veteran, then everything I have just written is self-evident.
If you are not a veteran, at least try to put yourself in the situation.
Remember, in Fallujah there is no yesterday, there is no tomorrow, there is only now, right now. Have you ever lived in now for a week? It is really, really not easy. If you have never lived in the now for longer than it takes to finish the big roller coaster at Six Flags, then shut your mouth about putting Marines in jail for 'war crimes'. Assuming you can even define a 'war crime' in a war like this...
Semper fi.

Rico gives a big Vietnam-era "alright, get some" to all that...
(My thanks to Kevin Kitterman for this post.)
People forget, or never wanted to think about in the first place, that this is a fucking war, not a 'police action'. If a cop on the street had to face determined crazy people who'd kill them rather than be taken prisoner, we would be shooting people on the street. We do it now; think about that poor sumbitch who was wired up with explosives and left to die, or the machine-gun bank robbers...
I know, I know, it violates their constitutional rights... Unfortunately for them, they don't have any constitutional rights, and would have given them up (see above example) by their behavior in any case.
Boo hoo... Dead terrorists. (Check out the 'Achmed the Dead Terrorist' video elsewhere in these rants for my take on that.) The only thing we're missing now is more of them...

But cruel and unusual punishment would be perfect...

Check out the word on the FBI site about scammers using the threat of failing to show up for jury duty to garner enough personal information to then hit your bank account and/or credit cards.
Public flogging should be brought back special for people like these.
Put it on pay-per-view and balance the budget...

Civil War for the day

Why it all happened. Or, rather, the problem given the greed of the Southern planters, who couldn't figure out any other economic way to grow their crops. Imagine how different the United States would be now without that war and its aftermath... This map, of course, represents the black percentage of population during the Civil War; the distribution would look totally different now.

13 November 2007

If you don't think we have a problem...

...you haven't been paying attention. In any case, Rico says: you better watch this. Fortunately, I'll be dead when the worst of this happens. But you may not, and your children certainly will be alive. So read it and weep, people...

If you want to know what we're really dealing with here

Rico says check it out...

Civil War for the day

Union officers in the trenches outside Richmond, plotting a battle.

12 November 2007

Hatred? Nah, not my style

I've been recently criticized by someone who knows me all too well (or thinks they do, anyway) for my supposely prejudiced comments about Others. I presume it was aimed at things I've said in this blog about certain ethnic groups (like the jihadis and illegal immigrants) and others who Aren't Me.
Now I can jump up and down and insist that I am, too, not prejudiced, but I don't think they're going to buy it from me.
Suffice it to say that I'm not, no matter what you (or they) may believe.
Do I think that there are bad people out there who are not only willing but actually trying to kill us? Yup.
Do I think that, maybe, just maybe, we should kill them before they get the chance? Yup.
Do I think that there are some people who shouldn't be allowed in this country just because they want to come, legally or not? Yup.
If that's prejudice, so be it. (If you want an explication of the problem, watch Alien Nation, starring James Caan and Mandy Patinkin; a great movie, and nary a Mexican in sight.)
If you want to live in a dangerous world with way too many people in it, many of whom don't like us, that's your choice.
Just don't expect me to support the notion.

You can have it if you really want it

There are those of you out there (and you know who you are) who see me with Steve and say "wow, the guy's got a personal trainer; he must be rolling in it."
That would be a normal reaction, though incredibly foolish in this case.
Want a personal trainer? You can have mine. I'll even pay the relative pittance that he, and the fee for attending the fitness center, costs me every week.
The deal, however, is that, in return, you must also take on all the physical pain and the deficits (poor balance, doubled vision, hydrocephalus, etc.) that forced me to need him in the first place.
No deal? Then shut the fuck up.

I'm helping...

Years ago there was a radio commercial for Round Table Pizza, in which the manager of a Round Table interviews a guy who'd previously worked for another pizza chain.

When asked about how to make pizza dough, the guy says, "Go to the freezer, get the box."
Toppings? "Go to the freezer, get the box."
Sauce? "Let me guess," the manager says. "Go to the freezer, get the box?" "No. Go to the kitchen, get the can."
The manager, realizing that he has hired a total incompetent, sends him to fold boxes. As the guy walks away, you hear him say (diminishing sound over footsteps) "Go to the back, get the box."
When he gets to 'the back', you hear him yell down the hall, "I'm helping!"

Given all the work that Chris has put into me over the last year, I'd like to think that now, finally, I'm helping...

Nerd is as nerd does

This is perhaps the ultimate sci-fi geek site.
It compares the size, as best as can be determined, of every science fiction vehicle known to man.
Except for the Death Star, however: "First, the Death Star is so friggin' huge that it doesn't fit on even the largest chart I've made. And that's even for the low-ball estimate of the size, which brings me to my second point: No one can agree just how big the Death Stars actually were, so there's no point in doing their sizes."
Rico says check it out.

Good start

Check out this article about an 'alleged' rape that was foiled by some quick-thinking young people. While rendering the guy's face like this was good work, I would suggest that two rounds of forty-five in the chest would have not only been faster, it would have saved the public a lot of money, what with the trial and incarceration and all...

Civil War for the day

Cavalry melee at the 140th of Antietam.

11 November 2007

Civil War for the day

Gun crew firing the big gun at Fort Clinch. (And a happy Veterans' Day.)

10 November 2007

Civil War for the day

Bivouac at the 140th of Gettysburg.

09 November 2007

Rico says check it out

Go view the Kevin Sites' videos from the Hot Zone.
Great stuff.
I wanted to do this when I was young.
Hell, I'd do it now, if I could...

Civil War for the day

A Blakeslee box holding Spencer tubes. Rico wants one, right after he gets his Spencer rifle...

08 November 2007

Self-delusion is an amazing thing

This is, graphically and technically, an amazing website, whether or not you care about the Book of Mormon.

I have a dear friend of many years who is a Mormon, and I still shake my head at such a powerful case of self-delusion.
I mean, reading any religious text can be hysterical, but check this out, at the beginning of chapter five on page 38:
"And now it came to pass that after I, Nephi, had made an end of speaking to my brethren, behold, they said unto me, Thou hast declared unto us hard things, more than that which we are able to bear."

It gets even funnier than that, if you can bring yourself to read the rest of it.

I know, I know, it's not nice to make fun of someone's sacred texts. But, man, this book sure makes that a 'hard thing', one that's 'more than that which we are able to bear'. I do not know how an otherwise intelligent, rational person can do anything but laugh themselves sick at this poorly written drivel. (It's not even good science fiction, fer gawd's sake...)

About damn time, too

Michelle Malkin writes of developing a 'culture of self-defense'.
She asks of the recent spate of school shootings, "What if just one student in one of those classrooms had been in lawful possession of a concealed weapon for the purpose of self-defense?"
Preaching to the choir, here. I have carried (illegally) in California and (legally, after I got my CCWs; I have one from Pennsylvania and one from Florida) in Pennsylvania and attendant CCW-recognizing states. The distinction was to me minimal, because I refuse to be a victim just because some bureaucrat thinks I should.
Could it have gone badly for me if my illegal possession had ever been revealed? Sure. California has no sense of humor about such things. But these are the risks you take if you want to have one when you need it, rather than need one and not have it.
Have I ever needed one? Well, I never shot anyone (yet), but I did point a weapon at another person (with the intent of using it if necessary) once or twice, and there were certainly moments when merely having one available was a comfort (including one memorable night in, gawd help me, Manhattan; now that, given the antique New York carry laws, would have been a bad place to have my weapon possession discovered...) There were also incidents (men abusing women, typically) where having one would have made all the difference in the world; for better or worse, while I was happy to have a gun handy, those incidents always resolved themselves before gunplay was required. Just as well; I don't need to shoot anyone, though I certainly remain willing to do so if needs be...
And (though we could; the statute of limitations has probably expired) we won't even mention an incident or two of taking a weapon across international borders...

(There's a lawsuit headed for the Supreme Court challenging any and all laws that contravene the Second Amendment. It's probably a forlorn hope to think the Supremes will rule correctly on this one, but we can live in hope...)

Civil War for the day

And this is what they thought they could pay for it all with...
(Oddly enough, if you have one it's probably worth more today than when it was new.)

Every once in awhile, good news

Nature plays some horrific jokes, but sometimes Man can beat it. This child (really two, with one twin half-absorbed by the other in the womb) had major surgery (it took more than 30 surgeons 27 hours to not only remove two of Lakshmi's arms and two of her legs but also to rebuild much of her body and save her organs, according to the article), and ended up losing the conjoined twin without, amazingly, losing her life. They did it in Bangalore, not New York City, too, which is even more amazing. But if you ever wondered where they came up with those images of gods with a bunch of arms and legs, this is probably it...

New one on me

From an ABC News on-line story: "Ideal Staffing's Mary Gurin, 36, of Carpentersville, Ill., and Norinye Benitez, 24, of Franklin Park, Ill., each face one count of harboring illegal aliens for financial gain, and an additional count of misuse of Social Security numbers."

"Harboring illegal aliens for financial gain" That's a crime? Hell, there are thousands of companies we can get with that one. Big ones, too. I'll be suggesting that to authorities periodically, I'm sure...

07 November 2007

Sleeping with the enemy

"Rudolph Giuliani scored a big coup Wednesday by winning the support of Pat Robertson, who, as one of the nation's best-known televangelists, could help Giuliani reassure Republican voters who have been wary of his support for abortion rights."

Not that I was a huge fan of Giuliani before (I always thought his 'hero of 9.11' act was overplayed), but this puts the whipped cream on the mooseturd pie for sure.
Pat Robertson? I guess Giuliani hopes that this endorsement will help him in the middle of the country, while still thinking that the big cities are locked up by his dubious New York charm...

As noted earlier, I'm with Fred.

Civil War for the day

The flag of the 7th Pennsylvania cavalry. I had it made, based on photos of an original in the museum in Harrisburg, and it's a thing of beauty.

Good marketing...

September 12, 2007
A mere 24 hours after having been launched, on the eve of the Frankfurt Motorshow, the five units of the special edition Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Pur Sang were sold.
The Pur Sang is based on one of the most legendary design elements of the Bugatti heritage, the two-tone theme. But instead of two paint colors, a pair of pure materials are used: carbon fibre and aluminium.
This emphasizes the shape and the lines of the car in a new and dramatic way.
The Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Pur Sang, priced at 1.4 million euros, represents the start of a new individualisation programme initiated by Bugatti Automobiles SA in order to satisfy increasing customer demands for personal and bespoke options.

"Increasing customer demands for personal and bespoke options."
Really? If Rico had two million bucks to spend on a car, he'd demand some serious bespoke, too...
As for 'pur sang', that translates from the French as 'thoroughbred', which sounds about right.

Ettore would be proud

The Bugatti site is not only incredibly beautiful, it's incredibly technically advanced. Rico says check it out...

Lust object going fast, very fast

How fast? 407 kph. That's fast. (253 mph, for the metric impaired.) And this in a car that has nearly 10,000 kilometers on it... (And no stupid rock music, either, unlike the other Bugatti video below.)

But 'Vlad the Impaler'? Nah. Only some stupid Brit would think of that comparison. (The reference is to Vlad Dracul, known to history as Vlad the Impaler, a Romanian prince who practiced that form of execution on the Turks when they tried to invade his country, thus saving Europe from being Islamic for another 500 years. But where's good old Vlad now when you need him... Vlad was also the archetype for Dracula, in the story of that name written by Bram Stoker, generating an innumerable series of movies and television shows about the guy, along with the George Hamilton imitation...)

But black, shiny, fast...
Darth Vader...
Now you're talking.

Only the Italians...

...would brag about it:
"Once more, the central role of Milan and Lombardy in the panorama of Islamic militants has been confirmed," the carabinieri said in a statement.

06 November 2007

Civil War for the day

And they thought we'd just let them go...

Halloween ain't fer sissies

My dear friend Tex Tyner and his missus Candy. She's not really dead, but fer damn sure looks that way here, and it was certainly the day for it...


One is $229 and the other is $25,000.
You decide.
If only there was a reliable on-line source for knockoffs...

Second Amendment promo

Trunk monkey, the complete set

05 November 2007

First as history...

...then as farce.
For those too young or history-deprived, Che Guevara was a proto-Communist who learned his trade with Fidel Castro in the revolution in Cuba and then tried to export it to South America. Didn't work out too well for him; he was executed by the Bolivian army on 9 October 1967.

Been there, done that

However, when I was in the Caymans and went to Stingray City, a damn stingray came and put a huge painful hickey on my side; took weeks to go away...

Lust object for the day

Rico wants one... (As soon as he has a spare couple of million; it's a million euros...)
But in the "what were they thinking?" category, I cannot imagine a worse fit between a commercial's theme music and potential buyers... They could have easily bought the rights to the theme music (number 110, with a ranking of 7.6 out of 10, on the list of great movie scores) for A Man and a Woman; now that was a car movie...

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