30 June 2008

OYAT

Coming back, if slowly
We're still languishing in Florida, enjoying the sun (mostly) and eating well. We also do some serious movie watching, courtesy of Blockbuster, and reading (on the beach and at home) from the local library. My brain is still making the long march back from angioma hell, and I worry sometimes that I won't make it all the way, but mostly my head seems to work the way it's supposed to. Chris, of course, continues to be an incredible support to me, encouraging me even when things seems bleak, and I can't tell you (or her, apparently) how much I owe her. (Though years from now, if I'm lucky, she might believe me.) Life continues to be interesting, though. And beats the hell out of being dead. I'm still awaiting a decision by the publisher about my novel (called "Skeleton Cay", soon to be a major motion picture coming to a screen near you; buy the book when you see it), so if you hear any distant screaming, that'll be me announcing he decided to buy the book. Stay tuned. Life will continue to be interesting.

Oops

The Wall Street Journal has an article about the resolution of the anthrax debacle back in 2001. Remember that? They ended up (reasonably, in Rico's opinion) fixating on Steven Hatfill, a bioweapons expert and former Army microbiologist. The FBI ripped up his life, including raiding his apartment in biohazard suits. (That'll fuck up your relationship with your neighbors.)
But here's still no reliable suspect, nor even a good line of investigation. While al Qaeda hasn't been ruled out, there's nothing tying them to this incident.
"In 2006, the FBI revised its assessment of the anthrax powder. While it was of exceptional purity and quality, scientists now say it lacked signs of the special milling process necessary for weaponization. In addition, the particular Ames strain of the anthrax used in the attacks – a clue seeming to point to a domestic source – has turned out to be far more common than originally believed, appearing in laboratories world-wide, including nations of the former Soviet Union."
Now the Justice Department, without admitting liability, is paying Hatfill $5.8 million for damage to his reputation.
Again, can you spell 'clusterfuck'?

One for righteousness

Two burglars decide to hit a house in the suburbs. Wrong house, because it was next door to Joe Horn's house. He didn't like it, and liked it less when they decided to come into his yard when they were done. Fortunately, the grand jury had its wits about it, and no-billed him this week.
In an all-too-expected response, a 'community activist' named Quanell X (no, Rico doesn't have to make these things up; reality is weird enough on its own) said "The message that the grand jury sent today is frightening".

Rico says no, the message the grand jury delivered is obvious: don't rob people's houses and expect to walk away. However, it is amazing that, while Horn maintains that he shot the men in self-defense, an autopsy report indicated that both men were shot in the back. Only in Texas...

Ah, the French

The Voice of America has an article about a military display in southern France that went wrong. Seems at least one of the participants had live rounds, rather than blanks, in his weapon. Fifteen civilians and two soldiers were wounded; none dead thus far, merde alors...
A senior military official told the Agence France-Presse news agency it was probably due to an accident. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who visited some of the wounded, vowed swift and tough punishment against those responsible for the incident, which he described as unacceptable negligence.
The sergeant who apparently fired the rounds was considered to have an excellent military record, and had not had any history of psychological or other problems. He fired the real bullets after a previous exercise in which he had fired fake ones. He was detained, along with three other soldiers.

Rico says he doesn't know how to say court martial in French, but he bets that Sarkozy does... (It's cour martiale, according to Babelfish, which also gives us baise de faisceau for clusterfuck, which this certainly was...)

In case they come back

(This is a rerun of a post from earlier this year, but too good not to reuse)

Go here to hear him sing it (and whoever they got is a dead ringer for Frank's voice):

Strangers on my flight,
turbans they're packin'.
Wonderin' if they might,
plan a hijackin'.
They could pull a stunt,
before this flight is through...

Something's on their minds.
I saw them mutter.
What that in their hands?
Looks like box cutters,
I'm gonna kick some ass,
if they make a move...

Strangers on my flight.
Two smelly people,
and they're not talking right;
and in a moment,
I will grab a baseball bat;
and that will be that.
Swing like Joe DiMaggio,
and rip them both a new a-hole...

And if they pick a fight,
and try to screw us,
I'll punch out their lights,
just like Joe Louis.
It would feel so right,
for strangers on my flight...

Ratta Tat Tat Tat,
Badda Bing Bang Boom,
Zooma Zooma Zoom.
Send those bastards to the moon...

Rico says if more people had had this attitude on 9/11, the Twin Towers would still be standing...

Could not care less

InfoWorld has an article about "the last chance to save Windows XP". Apparently they sent Ballmer a memory stick containing a 'dear Steve' letter from the editor-in-chief, along with 210,000 user signatures, imploring him to continue selling XP.
As a stalwart Mac OS user, Rico says this is all totally irrelevant to him.
But if Microsoft succeeds in shooting itself in the foot with this Vista transition, it won't break his heart...

That was stupid

In a new low in campaigning, General Wesley Clark (not a huge success as a soldier, in my less-than-humble opinion; see his history on Wikipedia), acting as a spokesman for the Obama campaign, dinged John McCain's ability to be commander-in-chief by saying "I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president". Clark, who ran for president himself in 2004, was shot one month into his service in Vietnam and never saw combat again; he served as a staff puke ("one of the Army's best and brightest") until he ran the 'war' in Kosovo. He was forced out of the Army in a political dogfight in 2000.
The McCain people are right; Obama should refute this bullshit.

Civil War for the day

Mike Benson of the Delaware Blues doing the messy part of N-SSA shooting: cleaning the guns. (Nice suspenders, though.)

29 June 2008

A job for Rico

The LA Times has an article about Richard Hooper: "Hooper, 53, has long had a fascination with weapons, even studying military history while attending college in the Cotswolds. "I was interested in firearms not necessarily because of shooting them particularly, but just because of the mechanics and the way that they've been built over the centuries," he says. "And the work of some of the antique ones in museums is phenomenal. . . . You sort of marvel at how crisp and precise the engineering is". At 19, Hooper began working at a London company that supplied different types of weaponry, reproductions and otherwise, for use in the film industry. After some two decades of stockpiling technique and information, he struck out on his own to become an independent armorer."

Rico says he always wanted to do guns in films; his own movies have plenty of guns in them.

45 years counts for something

I've had a (so far, day ain't over yet) successful reapproachment with my oldest friend. Still like playing with a porcupine (prickly, if cute), but we will persevere, because it's worth it in the long run.

Civil War for the day

The Delaware Blues on the obligatory rainy day at the N-SSA.

28 June 2008

Racing stripes on an iceberg?

Seems ice in Antarctica can form strange striped icebergs if it's 'contaminated' with dirt or differing kinds of water. This one is fairly mundane, but shows the effect well.

27 June 2008

A chink in the armor

Rico says his pun in the title is as bad as the one in the first paragraph...

A Chinese spy was caught 'red-handed', according to federal authorities, as she was about to board a plane at O'Hare bound for Beijing. Hanjuan Jin says she worked as a computer engineer for Schaumburg-based Motorola, a global leader in communications technology. Federal agents say Jin was also working as a spy for a Chinese company, and she has been charged in a corporate espionage case that reflects a growing national security problem.
Jin, a Chinese-born American citizen and graduate of the Illinois Institute of Technology, had been working at Motorola headquarters in Schaumburg since 1998. She was a software engineer, living in a comfortable townhouse not far from her job. Two years ago, according to a federal indictment handed up in April, Jin went on medical leave from Motorola. Despite claiming to be deathly ill, investigators say, she traveled from Chicago to Beijing where she agreed to work for a Chinese tech company that allegedly recruited her to steal Motorola secrets. According to the indictment, a Chinese executive told Jin, "You should share in the fruit of our collective effort," once she'd stolen top-secret Motorola files, schematics and military communication plans. When Jin returned to Motorola from medical leave in February of 2007, authorities say, she did just that, downloading hundreds of confidential documents from the company's supposedly secure internal network, including documents related to public safety organizations in Africa, the Middle East and Europe. Two days later, she arrived at O'Hare Airport with a one-way ticket to Beijing.
During the search of Jin and her bags at O'Hare, federal agents say they found a laptop computer and more than 30 compact data storage devices containing stolen Motorola files. Jin told Goudie the files had been given to her by a supervisor at Motorola to refresh her memory from the medical leave.
On its Web site, Motorola touts the company's internal security but declined to explain how an employee just off medical leave could nearly board a plane to Beijing with $600 million in corporate secrets. That is Motorola's own estimate quoted by the FBI. In a brief, generic statement, Motorola cited its "extensive policies, procedures and training in place to protect the security and confidentiality of the Company's intellectual property."
Motorola isn't alone. This month, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin asked for an investigation of whether senate computers are among dozens of government devices hacked into by the Chinese. And national security agencies are now warning all Americans attending the Beijing Olympics this summer to leave cell phones and laptops at home because, they say, there is a 100 percent likelihood that Chinese agents will scan and steal the contents. The FBI, apparently unimpressed by American corporate security, recently increased counterintelligence against Chinese infiltration of U.S. companies. FBI director Robert Mueller says he has "substantial concerns" that China is using scientists, students and "front companies" to steal U.S. military secrets, and that poses a threat to our national security. In the past year, there have been at least a dozen criminal cases of Chinese espionage brought in the U.S.

I'd be crying in my beer...

...if I liked beer enough to drink it. (And crying into one's whisky is a nasty thing; it makes it salty.)
But it hits me, every once in awhile, that I am disabled (or differently-abled, if one wants to be polite), and not liable to get all better any time soon (if ever).
But I have friends who are permanently in wheelchairs, or blind, or dead, so I can't whimper too badly.
Yet there are moments when I can remember when I was 'normal' (or what passed for it, anyway), and lament...

Going too far

The Bayou Renaissanceman has a piece about armed home invaders in Phoenix. The twist? They're active-duty members of the army. The Mexican army. Seems they discovered there are easy pickings on the northern side of the border. "One of the men captured said they were completely prepared to ambush Phoenix police, but ran out of ammunition. All were all dressed in military tactical gear and were armed with AR-15 assault rifles. Three other men involved in the invasion escaped."

Rico says this shit has gone way too far. These boys should be hunted down and exterminated like rabbits...

Nice gig, even if it is prison

According to the Bayou Renaissanceman, Brazilian prisons don't work quite the same way as they do in the US:
"With a plasma TV, a DVD player, 280,000 reais ($172,000) in cash, gym equipment, two refrigerators, and a couple of guns, Genilson Lino da Silva had everything he needed for a luxurious life in his Brazilian prison cell. It came to an end on Monday when his cell, which also contained a king-sized bed, was raided in a police operation against drug traffickers in the northern city of Salvador. "He was alone in all that comfort. It wasn't very big but the other cells had several prisoners in them," a spokesman for Bahian state authorities said on Tuesday. Officials said Da Silva, also known by his nickname "Leg," was serving time as the biggest drug trafficker in Bahia state. He was reported as saying the money in his cell was from old robberies and gambling in prison. 'We will investigate if the leaders of the prison were conniving in this', Paulo Gomes, a state prosecutor, told reporters."
Rico says if the leaders of the prison were in on the deal? If they weren't, they were missing the boat...

Pretty. Amazing.

The Daily Mail reports on the annual migration of stingrays from Mexico to Florida. Having seen a small formation of them in the water, Rico is impressed with this image no end...

Long way to go

The Bayou Renaissance Man says he only has a hundred thousand visitors to his site, but then he's only been blogging since January. The LawDog, however, just hit a million readers.

Rico says he may have only a percent of that, so far, but he's hoping...

Somebody likes it

Kurt Loder, from MTV, thought Wanted was at least worth watching:
Bekmambetov has a flamboyant talent for this sort of picture, no argument about that; and Wanted is certainly more rousing than many another movie unspooling at the omniplex these days. But the film's roiling camerawork and one-note cacophony grow monotonous; and while its conclusion leaves open the possibility of a sequel, I somehow doubt that one will be forthcoming.
Rico says he'll risk it. (Hey, it's Angelina Jolie, after all.)

Dot yo mama

If you have a hundred grand you don't know what to do with (and a lot of people do), you can now have your very own domain name.

Rico says he looks forward to .apple, among others...

Crying over spilt software

al-Reuters has an article about Bill Gates' departure from Microsoft:
"Bill Gates said a teary goodbye on Friday to Microsoft Corp, the software maker he built into the world's most valuable technology company based on the ambitious goal of placing a computer on every desk and in every home... Once the world's richest man, Gates' personal fortune has been estimated at about $58 billion, according to Forbes Magazine. He has slipped to third place, behind investor and good friend Warren Buffett and Mexican telecoms tycoon Carlos Slim."
Rico says third place ain't bad in this race... (But I still should have whacked him when I had the chance.)

Wanted may not be so

In what is, at best, a mixed review, the New York Daily News takes apart the new movie Wanted. Hey, Angelia Jolie and Morgan Freeman? Sounded like such a good thing. Apparently not:
"The fact that Timur Bekmambetov's amped-up action flick Wanted makes absolutely no sense is entirely irrelevant. Your brain, in fact, can take a two-hour hiatus. But your adrenal glands will be working overtime... You could fairly call Wanted, which is loosely based on a graphic novel of the same name, too long, too dumb and too outlandish. Or you could keep stuffing your face with popcorn and appreciate Bekmambetov's determination to give us our money's worth. And he does get points for casting the talented McAvoy, who deserves a chance to break out after supporting bigger stars in movies like Atonement. Also wise was the decision to balance McAvoy's everyman meekness with Jolie's intimidating cool. Whether speeding through tunnels or outracing a train, she meets every escalating threat with an imperious stare and a massive gun. Our era could use a few more iconic action heroes, and right now, no one fits the bill better than she does.
Rico says he's stupid enough to probably see it anyway...

Ain't chemistry fun?

"On Wednesday, the Phoenix lander performed the first ever wet chemistry experiments on the Martian surface. According to the scientists behind the Microscopy, Electrochemistry, and Conductivity Analyzer, the data coming back is like 'winning the lottery'. So far, the first round of wet-chemistry experiments are approximately 80 percent complete, and the lander has three more chemistry sets on board to use at a later date... This week's results are from a single scoop of Martian soil. The science pack was designed to understand the wet chemistry of the soil: what is dissolved in it, and how acidic or alkaline it is. The initial results showed that the soil is very basic, as the pH was measured at between eight and nine. In addition to the basic nature of the soil, the instrument found a host of salt components. Those identified so far include magnesium, sodium, potassium, and chlorine, and the analysis is not yet complete. According to co-investigator Sam Kounaves of Tufts University, science lead for the wet chemistry investigation, these salt findings are simply further evidence of water."

Money down a rathole

The New York Times has an article about Senator Obama contributing $2300 of his own money toward the debt of Hillary Clinton's campaign. The hope, of course, is that his donors will kick into her campaign pot as well.

Rico says she's not getting a dime of his money.

The Beeb and Bill

The BBC takes apart the Microsoft myth: "Microsoft has always been seen as a laggard when it comes to online life... In 1995 Mr Gates co-wrote a book entitled The Road Ahead which gave little mention to the rising tide of interest in the net and its looming influence... In early 2004, speaking at the World Economic Forum, Bill Gates predicted that within two years the problem of spam would be solved... In January 2002 Bill Gates sent out one of his regular memos that defined the priorities for Microsoft over the coming months and years. That memo was entitled 'Trustworthy Computing' and declared an intent to put the security and integrity of user's data at the heart of everything Microsoft did... Despite Microsoft's efforts, hi-tech crime is booming and Windows PCs are at the heart of it. Some anti-virus companies now report that there are more than one million items of malware in existence and Windows PCs are the target of choice for the bad guys... It is something of a myth that Microsoft is a hive of innovation that regularly pumps out products that take on the world. In reality, it is a good populariser of ideas but few can be said to have originated on Microsoft's campus or at the research labs it has set up around the world. The innovations that it has ridden to success on - the graphical user interface, the mouse, spreadsheets, the web, the web browser - all started life elsewhere. Even now the company regularly pays huge sums to snap up companies, such as Hotmail, that are experts in areas where it is lacking. Even so given its research budget - billions every year - Microsoft rarely wows the world with its new products. It's clear that there is a profound philosophical difference between Microsoft, for which read Bill Gates' approach to business, and the world of open source that has sprung up on and prospered alongside the net. This philosophical difference was sealed in 1976 when Mr Gates sent a letter to San Francisco's legendary Homebrew Computer Club in which he decried their rampant sharing of Microsoft's Basic for the Altair. Many of those who attended the Homebrew Meetings went on to be the leading lights that created the internet and defined its open source ethic of sharing for the greater good. By contrast Microsoft has jealously guarded the inner workings of its products."

Why the Second Amendment is important

Given the recent Supreme Court decision (click on the post title for details), here's a little gun history as a point of comparison:

The Soviet Union established gun control in 1929. From 1929 to 1953, about 20 million dissidents, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.
Turkey established gun control in 1911. From 1915 to 1917, 1.5 million Armenians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.
Germany established gun control in 1938. From 1939 to 1945, a total of 13 million Jews and others who were unable to defend themselves were rounded up and exterminated.
China established gun control in 1935. From 1948 to 1952, 20 million political dissidents, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.
Guatemala established gun control in 1964. From 1964 to 1981, 100,000 Mayan Indians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.
Uganda established gun control in 1970. From 1971 to 1979, 300,000 Christians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.
Cambodia established gun control in 1956. From 1975 to 1977, one million educated' people, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and exterminated.
Defenseless people rounded up and exterminated in the 20th Century because of gun control: 56 million and counting.

It has now been 12 months since gun owners in Australia were forced by a new law to surrender 640,381 personal firearms to be destroyed by their own government, a program that cost Australia taxpayers more than $500 million dollars. The first year results are now in:
Australia-wide, homicides are up 3.2 percent
Australia-wide, assaults are up 8.6 percent
Australia-wide, armed robberies are up 44 percent
In the state of Victoria alone, homicides with firearms are now up 300 percent. Note that while the law-abiding citizens turned them in, the criminals did not, and criminals still possess their guns!
While figures over the previous 25 years showed a steady decrease in armed robbery with firearms, this has changed drastically upward in the past 12 months, since criminals now are guaranteed that their prey is unarmed.
There has also been a dramatic increase in break-ins and assaults on the elderly.
Australian politicians are at a loss to explain why public safety has decreased after such monumental effort and expense in successfully "ridding Australian society of guns".

Guns in the hands of honest citizens save lives and property and, yes, gun-control laws adversely affect only the law-abiding citizens. The next time someone talks in favor of gun control, please remind them of these history lessons.

As a wise man once said:
Don't pick a fight with an old man. If he's too old to fight, he'll just kill you. (Note to bad guys: Rico has been too old to fight for a long time.)
If you find yourself in a fair fight, your tactics suck.
Carry a gun, because a cop is too heavy.
When seconds count, the cops are just minutes away.
A reporter did a human-interest piece on the Texas Rangers. The reporter recognized the Colt Model 1911 the Ranger was carrying and asked him 'Why do you carry a .45?' The Ranger responded, 'Because they don't make a .46.'
An armed man will kill an unarmed man with monotonous regularity.
The old sheriff was attending an awards dinner when a lady commented on his wearing his sidearm. 'Sheriff, I see you have your pistol. Are you expecting trouble?' 'No Ma'am. If I were expecting trouble, I would have brought my rifle.'
Beware the man who only has one gun. He probably knows how to use it.

Asked by a lady visiting if I had a gun in the house. I said I did. She said 'Well I certainly hope it isn't loaded!' To which I said, 'Of course it's loaded, it can't work without bullets!' She then asked, 'Are you that afraid of someone evil coming into your house?' My reply was, 'No, not at all. I'm not afraid of the house catching fire either, but I have fire extinguishers around, and they are all loaded too.' To which I'll add, having a gun in the house that isn't loaded is like having a car in the garage with no gas in the tank; it's there, but it's not very useable.

Rico says all good stuff and, no, the quotes aren't from him, but they could be...

Civil War for the day

Rico at Fort Clinch in Florida, with the (really well done) fake cannon.

26 June 2008

No surprise

al-Reuters has an article about a new HIV survey which "points to troubling signs of increases in new diagnoses among young men who have sex with men" (MSM). Of 214,379 diagnoses during the study period, 46 percent were among MSM. The rate of new diagnoses declined in all other transmission categories -- injection drug use, high-risk heterosexual contact, and other routes of transmission.

Rico says stupidity isn't easily cureable...

Green vegetables and ice

It appears that Martian soil is just like that on Earth, if a trifle alkaline: "We were all flabbergasted at the data we got back [from the wet chemistry tests]," said Samuel Kounaves, a professor at Tufts University and a research affiliate with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "We basically have found what appears to be the requirements to support life, whether in the past, present or future. We have elements that you might find in your backyard." Kounaves said in a conference call with the media that, though the findings are preliminary, they've found the minerals that are essential to life in the Martian soil. The dirt there is very alkaline, with a pH level of between eight and nine. They've also found magnesium, sodium, potassium and chloride. They're still waiting on analysis regarding evidence of sulfate in the soil. The minerals in the Martian soil, according to Kounaves, are typical of soils here on Earth. "Some kinds of Earth life would be happy to live in these soils," he added. "Asparagus, green beans, and turnips love alkaline soils."

Rico says he likes asparagus and green beans, but he'll pass on turnips, even on Mars...

She looked good when we went home

The real danger of alcohol consumption. Click here to see why you need to be careful.

Font frolics

The New York Times has an article about the ease of new font creation, using computers: "Good commercial and free programs make the job easier for a wide range of users. Some people with degenerating handwriting are freezing their script in a font. Scrapbookers are casting their lettering into a font so they can have a personal look. Battle re-enactors are even printing out orders in historically accurate typefaces."
There's FontStruct.com, a font design and sharing Web site that is a combination of a drawing program and a social network. FontStruct runs in a Web browser and builds fonts out of blocks, dots and other elements. Letters are edited on a checkerboard grid by adding or subtracting the marks from boxes. When all the letters are finished, the site will build a TrueType font file that can be downloaded and used on a Mac or PC.

Having done it the old way, hand drawing every letter, Rico says the new way is better.

Shoe's on the other foot now

The New York Times has an article about the reaction of gun control freaks over the recent Supreme Court decision: "Gun-control advocates across the country reacted with shock and outrage at the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the District of Columbia’s ban on handguns today, saying the ruling would threaten gun-control measures in other states."
“I consider this the opening salvo in a step-by-step process of providing relief for law-abiding Americans everywhere that have been deprived of freedom,” Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president of the N.R.A., said in a statement.

Rico says he's quite sure it will, and that's the whole damn point...

Couldn't agree less

"At the end of the month, Bill Gates is stepping down as chief software architect of Microsoft , and retiring from his day-to-day role at Microsoft, the company he co-founded and led for most of the past 30 years."

Rico says Lance Ulanoff (click on the post title to read his column in PC Magazine) is entitled to his opinion, misguided though it may be, about Bill Gates: "Say what you will about the intense, sometimes mean-spirited and quietly driven man, but without Bill Gates, there's likely no Microsoft, no Windows, no Office suite, and, perhaps, even a delay in the technology and Internet revolution."

You can also read Michael Miller's 'exit interview' with Gates here. (And what sick sense of humor or just bad programming put the 'upgrade to Mac' ad next to the Gates interview?)

Rico says he still regrets having the opportunity and not acting on it, but he did let Gates walk out of a room at Apple alive... (His apologies to all those forced to use Gates machines.)

Another ferry down

What idiot, given their history, would even get on a ferry in the Philippines? The most recent one went down with over 850 on board, and only 57 made it off alive. (They had to put armed guards on the beach to prevent looting from the sunken ferry.)

Five to four the right way, for once

SCOTUS finally voted on the Second Amendment and, amazingly, the Second Amendment won: "Undoubtedly some think that the Second Amendment is outmoded in a society where our standing army is the pride of our nation, where well-trained police forces provide personal security, and where gun violence is a serious problem," Justice Scalia wrote. "That is perhaps debatable, but what is not debatable is that it is not the role of this court to pronounce the Second Amendment extinct."

The high court’s ruling was the first since 1939 to deal with the scope of the Second Amendment, and the first ever to directly address the meaning of the amendment’s ambiguous, comma-laden text: “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.” Not surprisingly, Justice Scalia and Justice Stevens differed on the clarity (or lack thereof) of the Second Amendment. “The amendment’s prefatory clause announces a purpose, but does not limit or expand the scope of the second clause,” wrote Justice Scalia. “The operative clause’s text and history demonstrate that it connotes an individual right to keep and bear arms.” Not at all, Justice Stevens countered, asserting that the majority “stakes its holding on a strained and unpersuasive reading of the amendment’s text.” Justice Stevens read his dissent from the bench, an unmistakable signal that he deeply disagreed with the majority. Walter Dellinger, the lawyer who argued for the district on March 18, asserted that “the people” and “the militia” were essentially the same, and that the Second Amendment gave people the right to bear arms only in connection with their militia service.

Rico says the founding father were always too wordy, and he votes to amend the amendment to read more simply: "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

Given that there were 143 gun-related murders in Washington last year, compared with 135 in 1976 when the handgun ban was enacted, it doesn't seem to be achieving its goals, either...

Clueless

Two years ago the Democrats were arguing that we should leave Iraq because the war was lost; now they are saying we should leave Iraq because the war is won.
Rico says it must be tough to be so anti-war that you'll support losing one, no matter what.

If this works, the Middle East is doomed

Company officials want to make the first air-powered car to hit U.S. roads a $17,800, 75-hp equivalent, six-seat modified version of MDI’s CityCAT that, thanks to an even more radical engine, is said to travel as far as 1,000 miles at up to 96 m.p.h. with each fill-up.
According to BBC.com: The car will be driven by compressed air stored in carbon-fibre tanks. The tanks, built into the chassis, can be filled with air from a compressor in just three minutes — much quicker than a battery car. Alternatively, it can be plugged into the mains for four hours and an on-board compressor will do the job.
You put a set of tanks in the garage, solar cells on the roof to drive the compressor, and never ever go to a gas station again.

Rico wants one. Especially because it will piss off the ragheads no end...

Civil War for the day

The boys of the 56th Pennsylvania.

25 June 2008

Gee, and only a decade late

"About a year ago, T-Mobile USA launched Hotspot@Home, a service that encourages people to drop their landline by allowing customers to roam on to Wi-Fi to get unlimited phone calls for $10 a month. Today, it is launching a follow-on product called T-Mobile @Home, which allows people to have a home phone using VoIP."

Rico says this is the wave of the future; why hang all that wire just to deliver a signal when you can clutter up the radio spectrum instead?

Lucky

al-Reuters has a report about a Canadian woman who found a brand-new grenade, property of the Canadian army, in her backyard in Edmonton. "She took it to her local police station, where officers told her to carefully place it on the lawn. Police called in the bomb squad, which determined the item was a grenade, still in its packaging and belonging to the Canadian military. The technicians made sure the package was secure and called military personnel in to dispose of the ordnance."

Rico says someone's ass is going in a sling over this one... ('Can you spell court martial?')

Somebody's thinking

"John McCain said on Wednesday if elected he would set the United States on a path to wean itself from foreign oil by 2025, vowing to break the power of OPEC over Americans... "In recent days I have set before the American people an energy plan. And let it begin today with this commitment: In a world of hostile and unstable suppliers of oil, this nation will achieve strategic independence by 2025," he said.

Rico says we need to arrange for the Middle East to return to the sleepy, Middle Ages condition they enjoyed for so long...

If someone else had had one, of course...

...things would have been different.
But guns are bad, so only criminals (and idiots, in this case) have guns, and so a half dozen people are dead.
Stupid laws, stupid thinking, stupid outcome.

Absolute truth

Someone once asked what 'absolute truth' was.
The answer: a 5-to-4 decision by the Supreme Court.
Today we've got another one, and it's a beaut: you can't execute child rapists, because capital punishment is reserved for murderers: "Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion that 'evolving standards of decency' in the United States forbid capital punishment for any crime other than murder. Execution of Patrick Kennedy, the justices ruled, would be unconstitutional... In 1976 and a year later, the U.S. Supreme Court banned capital punishment for rape -- and, by implication, any other crime except murder. But 19 years later, Louisiana passed a law allowing execution for the sexual violation of a child under 12. State lawmakers argued that the earlier high court cases pertained only to adult women."

Rico says he's read the Constitution from beginning to end, and there's nothing in it about reserving capital punishment for anyone. There's stuff about cruel and unusual punishment, but no one Rico knows would consider death either cruel or unusual for a child rapist... (Rico guesses that makes him non-evolved in the 'standards of decency' department.)

Another great one gone

George Carlin is dead at 71. Too soon, too soon. But Heaven is laughing...

132 years ago

Courtesy of Wyatt Earp:
June 25, 1876 - The Battle of Little Bighorn. Commonly known as Custer’s Last Stand, American military engagement fought on June 25, 1876, in what is now Montana, between a regiment of the Seventh U.S. Cavalry led by Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer and a force of Sioux and Northern Cheyenne Indians. The discovery of gold in the nearby Black Hills in 1874 had led to an influx of white prospectors into Indian territory and to attacks on the prospectors by the Sioux, under Chiefs Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, and Gall.
In 1876 the army planned a campaign against the hostile Indians, then centered in southeastern Montana Territory. Custer’s regiment of 655 men formed the advance guard of a force under Gen. Alfred Howe Terry (1827–90). On June 25 Custer’s scouts located the Sioux on the Little Bighorn River. Unaware of the Indian strength, between 2500 and 4000 men, Custer disregarded arrangements to join Terry at the junction of the Bighorn and Little Bighorn rivers and prepared to attack at once.
In the hope of surrounding the Indians, he formed his troops into a frontal-assault force of about 260 men under his personal command and two flanking columns. The center column encountered the numerically superior Indians. Cut off from the flanking columns and completely surrounded, Custer and his men fought desperately but all were killed. Later Terry’s troops relieved the remainder of the regiment. The battlefield, now known as the Little Bighorn National Monument, was established as a national monument in 1886 and was known, until 1991, as the Custer Battlefield National Monument.

Civil War for the day

Antietam in 2002, the Sunday.

Best thing about coming home

Well, the best thing is the ladyfriend, of course, but Bud is pretty damned cute.

Well, I'm back, he said

That's my favorite line from Lord of the Rings (click on the post title to go to the Wikipedia listing if you don't know what I'm talking about, and if you don't know what I'm talking about, where have you been of late?), and Sam Gamgee summed up my recent expedition to California to sort out my storage locker there.
My father came and helped, as did my friend Tex, along with a couple of hired illegals (yup, gave money to Mexicans; Homeland Security can call me), and we sorted out, packed, gave stuff away, and shipped a bunch of stuff home.
Still reeling from all the hard work and the flight back, but it's good to be home.
My crap will be arriving next week, and then I get to do the whole thing in reverse...

19 June 2008

Run like hell

Rico says things got a little crowded at this remote strip... (That's a Russian An-12 plowing down the runway.)

That's billion with a 'b'

Five billion. That's the number of songs that have been purchased and downloaded from the iTunes Store, Apple said Thursday. (Actually, for the record, the press release says "over five billion.")

Rico says it's good for the stock price, at least...

Proxy battles are the best

In both Afghanistan and Iraq, our allies are carrying the fight to the bad guys: "Top officials in Afghanistan say local and NATO-led forces have driven Taliban militants from a troubled southern district, one day after a joint anti-insurgent offensive was launched. But NATO officials say they cannot immediately confirm Afghan claims of killing hundreds militants or if the area is now free of Taliban fighters." "Iraqi security forces launched an offensive Thursday against Shiite militants in a southeastern province that borders Iran, the government said. The operation aims to 'impose the law and confront outlaws', said Maysan province police Col. Mehdi al-Asadi. The government is trying to stamp out militants and establish its authority in Shiite-dominated areas, particularly the oil-rich south, where rival Shiite militias have been battling for control. The U.S. military said this week that the Amara push is "an Iraqi-initiated and -led operation. Coalition forces will provide support, as needed, much as they have in operations in and around Basra."

Rico says if this keeps up, we may actually be able to start bringing the boys (and girls) home in time for the election...

Other views of the world

Rico has touted the Sandbox blog before, but the same guy also writes as the Peripatetic Engineer on a wider range of issues. Rico says check it out.

Close but no cigar

According to the New York Times, the FDA may never be able to pinpoint exactly where all the salmonella-tainted tomatoes came from: "We may not ultimately know the farm where these came from", Dr. David Acheson, the agency’s associate commissioner for foods, told reporters in a conference call. "Some trace-backs that we thought were looking pretty good have been falling apart." The tainted tomatoes were probably grown in Mexico or central or southern Florida, Dr. Acheson said. The agency is looking for the genetic fingerprint of the rare strain of salmonella responsible for the illnesses, tracing the tomatoes back through the supply chain.

Cut 'em off and see how they like it

al-Reuters has a story about a speedboat attack on the Shell oilfields off Nigeria. This is a new development (along with a ship captain kidnapped by the same outlaws), and bodes ill for Nigerian production.

Rico says Shell and the others should stop paying royalties to Nigeria until they deal with the problem...

(Proving yet again that great minds think alike, see the post on the same situation at the Peripatetic Engineer.)

Why the competition isn't

Business Week has an article about why it's the software, stupid, in the wireless telephone market: "The most immediate impact of the iPhone has been on hardware design, encouraging a rash of imitators with big touchscreens. That includes the new Samsung Instinct, which Sprint Nextel has been billing as an iPhone killer. Even Research In Motion, whose executives have ridiculed the iPhone's lack of a physical keyboard, is rumored to be developing a touch-based BlackBerry. Such efforts largely miss the point. Certainly, the beautiful hardware design adds tremendously to the emotional appeal of Apple products. But it's the software that makes the iPhone stand out from the pack of wannabes."
"Despite its strong multimedia capabilities, the Instinct offers little more than the typical cell phone, and nothing near the iPhone's computerlike capabilities. Yes, good hardware design is critical. But in the end, it's the software that really makes the difference."

Rico says Apple always said they only got five percent, but it was the smartest (or best, depending) five percent. In the telephone game, it looks like a lot of people are smarter... (And Rico wants the white one.)

In a review in Information Week, Eric Zeman deconstructs the Instinct, and has this to say: "It's not as simple or easy to use as you-know-what." We, of course, know what you-know-what is, don't we?

Civil War for the day

The ugly little secret about reenactments (this being the 140th of Gettysburg): reenactors don't shit in the woods like real Civil War soldiers did.

18 June 2008

Right answer, wrong question

The AP has an article on the recent flooding in the Midwest: "Floodwaters breached another levee in Illinois on Wednesday and threatened more Mississippi River towns in Missouri after inundating much of Iowa for the past week... About 25,000 people in Cedar Rapids were forced from their homes, 19 buildings at the University of Iowa were flooded and water treatment plants in several cities were knocked out. Now the floodwaters are a problem for communities such as Gulfport and Clarksville, Missouri... Later in the week, the Mississippi is expected to threaten a host of others communities, leading officials to consider evacuation plans and begin sandbagging... But even as the water jeopardized scores of additional homes and businesses, officials said the damage could have been worse if the federal government had not purchased low-lying land after historic floods in 1993 that caused $12 billion in damage. Since then, the government bought out more than 9,000 homeowners, turning much of the land into parks and undeveloped areas that can be allowed to flood with less risk. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has moved or flood-proofed about 30,000 properties. The effort required whole communities to be moved, such as Rhineland, Missouri, and Valmeyer, Illinois... The federal government bought about a quarter of the homes in Chelsea, Iowa, after the 1993 floods, but most of the 300 residents stayed. At least ten homes are now inundated by the Iowa River to their first floors... The National Weather Service expects crests this week along some Mississippi River communities near St. Louis to come close to those of 1993. The river at Canton, Mo., could reach 27.5 feet on Thursday, just shy of the 27.88 mark of 1993 and more than 13 feet above flood stage. Crests at Quincy, Ill., and Hannibal, Mo., are expected to climb to about 15 feet above flood stage, narrowly short of the high water from 15 years ago. In St. Louis, the Mississippi is projected to crest Saturday at 39.8 feet, about 10 feet above flood stage but still a foot lower than in 1993.

Rico says maybe the problem isn't the rain, but the Corps. As in the Corps of Engineers, who get paid (and would do it for the love it of, Rico is sure) to put up flood control levees. We all remember the levee issue in New Orleans when the hurricane hit, but this is just a slow-motion version of the same event: "More than 250 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers employees are supporting flood fighting efforts in Indiana, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. State support includes providing liaisons in State Emergency Operation Centers, flood fight technical assistance, and on-site community support. As of 17 June, the Corps has delivered 57 truckloads of water to logistical staging areas in Iowa and Illinois, and deployed more than 12 million sandbags, 1,200 rolls of plastic and 88 water pumps to the region." Yet if people stepped way back from the problem, the solution may be fewer levees, not more.
What? Is Rico crazy? Nope. All levees do is push the water downstream and make it someone else's problem. They don't like it, either, so they build levees of their own, and so on and so on until you get to the Gulf of Mexico, whereupon you dump all that dirt you've made the river carry a thousand miles out into the alluvial plain, making Louisiana bigger. Let us remember, however, that the newest parts of Louisiana are made up of parts of Indiana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa, just misplaced farther south.
If we left the river alone, and tolerated some minor flooding in those northern states every spring, we'd keep the soil at home, avoid these catastrophic levee failures, and solve the tail-end problem at New Orleans and points south.
You heard it here first.

More yeehaw at Yahoo

The founders of media hosting website Flickr announced that they are leaving the company. The Flickr founders' departure follows suit with that of many of Yahoo!'s top executives, right after the fallout of a potential $47.5 billion acquisition deal with rival Microsoft.

Rico says he's just as glad he didn't buy any Yahoo stock...

Another great one gone

Cyd Charisse, famed dancer and actress, is dead at 86. She sang and danced with legends Gene Kelly in Singin' in the Rain, and Fred Astaire in Silk Stockings. Born Tula Ellice Finklea in 1921, Charisse began her career dancing with the Ballet Russe as a teenager. During a European tour she met Nico Charisse, a young French dancer with whom she had trained in Los Angeles. They married in Paris in 1939.

Shoulda gotten a Mac

PC World has the story of a hapless guy who worked for the Department of Industrial Accidents for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. They issued him a Dell Latitude in November of 2006, and he spent most of 2007 and 2008 defending himself against the same Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which accused him of downloading child pornography onto the machine. Last week, prosecutors dropped their year-old case after a state investigation of his computer determined there was insufficient evidence to prove he had downloaded the files. The Microsoft SMS (Systems Management Server) software used to keep his laptop up to date was not functional. Neither was its antivirus protection. And the laptop was crawling with malicious programs that were most likely responsible for the files on his PC.
The guy said in an interview: "I'm 53 years old and I don't think I've cried as much in my whole life as I did in the past 18 months... My days of surfing the Web are over, because I don't wish this on anybody."

Rico says he's not much for anyone who likes child pornography, but this does look like a case of mistaken downloading...

The Hillary we hardly knew, it seems

New York magazine has an article titled What Hillary Won by Losing the Democratic Nomination, by John Heilemann. Heilemann's thesis is that contrary to the view of some, Clinton did not damage the Democratic Party's chances of retaking the White House on Nov. 4 nor Barack Obama's odds of beating the Republican nominee, John McCain. She, in fact, made them stronger. Here's his core point:
"Hillary is today a more resonant, consequential and potent figure than she has ever been before. No longer merely a political persona, she has been elevated to a rarefied plane in our cultural consciousness.
"With her back against the wall, she both found her groove and let loose her raging id, turning herself into a character at once awful and wonderful, confounding and inspiring -- thus enlarging... herself to the point where she became iconic.
"She is bigger now than any woman in the country. Certainly, she is bigger than her husband. And although in the end she may wind up being dwarfed by Obama, for the moment she is something he is not: fully, poignantly human."

Rico says Hillary is certainly poignantly something, but he's not sure it's fully human...

(For a quasi-nostalgic look at the campaign, go here, but be warned: it's a campaign site that will hit you up for money to pay off Hillary's twenty million campaign debt. Note, however, the conspicuous lack of pictures of Bill...)

Congressional corruption? What a surprise

The Wall Street Journal has the story: "Countrywide Financial Corp.'s 'friends of Angelo' program provided sweetheart loans to key banking players in Washington, D.C. They included former Fannie Mae chief executive Jim Johnson, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D., N.D.) and Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D., Conn.)... In a free market, businesses take risks and reap either profits or losses. But markets only work when businesses are held accountable for their bad decisions. The message this proposed legislation sends to the market is clear: Big lenders like Countrywide who make bad bets can count on generous bailouts-- and responsible renters, homeowners and taxpayers who pay their bills on time can count on getting stuck with the tab."

Rico says this is why you need to throw the bastards out periodically, so they don't get used to playing with our money...

Like cockroaches, it's hard to kill them all

al-Reuters has a story about a new military operation in southern Afghanistan against the remaining Taliban insurgents, some of whom just broke out of jail last week: "Helicopter gunships and troops with small and heavy arms blasted a valley in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday as local and NATO forces launched a huge offensive against hundreds of Taliban insurgents.. in the lush valley of Arghandab, known for its juicy pomegranates as well as hashish production."

Rico says this is going to be a long-term operation, unfortunately...

Frozen with indecision

"The town of Turlock and much of the rest of the nation was shocked when a 27-year-old man beat and stomped his 2-year-old son to death on a rural road. But what was nearly as stunning for many people was that none of the motorists and their passengers who stopped and saw the attack tried to tackle the man."

Rico says he's not one of those people; his problem is wading into trouble. But, given the "we would have loved to knock his head off, too, but we had nothing to knock it off with" response from an on-looker, it's another case for carrying a firearm...

It's cheating that way

Seems that many of the Welsh placenames in the region aren't historic, dating from when the Welsh settled here nearly four hundred years ago, but were overlaid in a 'quaintness' drive much later, at the behest of the Pennsylvania Railroad when it created the Main Line in the late nineteenth century. Thus Athensville became Ardmore and Humphreysville became Bryn Mawr.

Rico says he's disappointed, but not surprised...

17 June 2008

Back in the shi'ite again

They're setting off car bombs in crowded markets in Baghdad again. Over fifty dead this time, the deadliest in more than three months. The crowd got pissed at Americans, as usual; with some in the neighborhood, they were easy targets for rocks.

Rico says these ragheads will never get it, will they?

Another great one gone

Stan Winston has died at 62. He was the renowned makeup, creature- and visual-effects wizard who did memorable work on Aliens, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and Jurassic Park. Winston, as the New Yorker described several years ago, was known for "almost single-handedly elevating the craft of creature making from the somewhat comic man-in-a-rubber-suit monsters of the 1950s and '60s to animatronics-- electronically animated, part-robot, part-puppet creatures that have terrified millions of moviegoers."
Steven Spielberg, who worked with Winston on numerous films, said in a statement: "Stan was a fearless and courageous artist/inventor, and for many projects, I rode his cutting edge from teddy bears to aliens to dinosaurs. My world would not have been the same without Stan. What I will miss most is his easy laugh every time he said to me, 'Nothing is impossible'."

Back to the left

Rico has voted Republican more than once (and once is a lot more than the ladyfriend approves of, unfortunately), but this election may break the pattern.
It wasn't always this way.
Rico was old enough to vote (after they changed the voting age) in Richard Nixon's second election. He voted for George McGovern, a Democrat.
He voted for Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, in 1976.
He voted for Jimmy Carter again in 1980, and for Walter Mondale in 1984.
He voted for George H.W. Bush, a Republican, in 1988, because he thought Dukakis was a loose cannon.
He voted for George H.W. Bush again in 1992, because Bill Clinton was a whack job.
He voted for Bill Clinton, a Democrat, in 1996, because Bob Dole wasn't up for the job.
He voted for George W. Bush, a Republican, in 2000, because Al Gore was an idiot, and in 2004, because John Kerry was no war hero.
This time he thinks he's going back to his roots and voting Democratic again.
John McCain is another cannon threatening to come loose, and Barack Obama will at least make politics interesting for the next few years.
But, in the end, he's just as happy the choice isn't between McCain and Clinton, because then he'd have to vote Republican again...

Ah, the French

"French President Nicolas Sarkozy says France will rejoin the NATO military command after a four-decade absence."

Rico says it takes them awhile to get over being pissed off (and de Gaulle has only been dead 38 years)...

Civil War for the day

The Third Pennsylvania Cavalry (dismounted), mustered in prior to reenacting the 140th of Gettyburg.

16 June 2008

Whiz, bang, boom

Yup, a tornado in Seymour, Texas in 1979. Rico says he's been thinking about tornadoes of late, what with the season coming on and all, and he wonders what it would take to get a volatile-liquid truck sucked up into a tornado like this one, such that it tore itself open at just the right moment, thus making one hell of a fuel-air bomb? Maybe, just maybe, you could snap off the tail at the base of the cloud and make the whole thing dissipate. (Or maybe just make one hell of a clip on the nightly news...) Worth a try, if Rico had his way.

Nasty women, them Iranian broads

Rico's just kidding, but the Iranians aren't.
al-Reuters has the story of yet another crackdown by Iranian police on women 'flouting Islamic dress codes': "Violators can receive lashes, fines or imprisonment... Police will seize women with tight coats and cropped trousers and also men with Western-style hair cut will be arrested."

Rico says he guesses Madonna's not getting invited to do a concert in Teheran...

Sneaking it out the back

al-Reuters has the story of Iran moving seventy-five billion dollars (that's with a 'b', people; that's a lot of money) out of European banks to avoid having it sanctioned by the EU.

Rico says bankers all over Europe are crying in their beers tonight...

Too late for Rico

al-Reuters has the story of the impending legal battle now that California has made same-sex marriages legal: "The landmark ruling goes into effect at the close of regular business on Monday and San Francisco and Los Angeles-area West Hollywood will marry one couple each."

Rico says if this had been implemented several years ago, when his ex-wife was living with her same-sex lover, things might have been different, alimony-wise...

Tiger, Tiger, burning bright

Tiger Woods is in an unusual Monday shootout with Rocco Mediate (ranked 158th) at Torrey Pines: Both players came to the course wearing red-- that's Tiger's traditional Sunday color-- and Woods noticed Mediate's apparel choice on the range. "Nice shirt," he said.

Rico says Rocco's sartorial choice isn't going to help him beat Mr. Woods...

Nor did it, as predicted. They ended up at the last putt on the sudden-death hole, but Tiger pulled it out and won.

Like we hadn't figured that out already

The Washington Post reports that MRI and PET scan studies are showing remarkable similarities between the brains of gay men and straight women, and between those of lesbians and straight men.

Rico says they paid someone a lot of money to figure this out...

Getting closer

Two More States, Part of Mexico Ruled Out as Salmonella Source
The FDA says Florida and Mexico supplied the bulk of tomatoes when the outbreak began. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has now exonerated 37 states, Puerto Rico and parts of Florida as the source of the outbreak, according to the agency Web site. Six countries -- Belgium, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Israel, and the Netherlands -- also have been ruled out as a contamination source.
The state of Baja California was the first area in Mexico to be certified safe, according to the FDA. Tomatoes grown there can only be exported to the United States if the state agriculture agency has inspected them. Mexico, which harvested 2.3 million metric tons of tomatoes in 2007, accounts for 84 percent of the tomatoes shipped to the United States, Bloomberg News said.
On Friday, the FDA said the bulk of the tomatoes available in the United States at the start of the ongoing salmonella outbreak came from Mexico and Florida.
The number of people sickened in the outbreak remains at 228 in 23 states, with at least 25 hospitalizations, health officials said. The particular type of salmonella involved, Salmonella Saintpaul, is virulent and relatively rare, accounting for only about 400 reported cases annually in the United States, Williams said.

Rico says when they finally find the source, somebody's ass is in trouble...

Good police work

As eyewitnesses watched in horror, a 27-year-old Turlock man punched and stomped a toddler to death on a darkened country road Saturday night in Stanislaus County before a police officer shot and killed the attacker.
Dan Robinson, chief of the Crows Landing Volunteer Fire Department, came upon the chaos driving home from a late dinner in Turlock. "The man wasn't screaming and wasn't loud, but was forceful, saying 'demons' were in the boy. "Give me the knife. Give me the knife," the man said as he grabbed for a pen in the fireman's front pocket. "There was a total hollowness in his eyes," Robinson said, "like I could see right through to the back of his head."
A Stanislaus County sheriff's helicopter flying in the area on another matter arrived about six minutes after the initial 911 call.
Officers in the helicopter could see the man beating a child on the road. Because patrol deputies were still several minutes away, they decided to land in a field near the man's vehicle. The helicopter's tactical flight officer, a Modesto police officer, ran toward the suspect with his gun drawn, but he was unable to reach the roadway because of an electric and barbed wire fence. When the flight officer first contacted the suspect and tried to get him to stop, the infant was on the ground and the suspect was kicking and stomping the child. The officer demanded that the man stop, but he just continued his assault. The officer, who has not been identified, then shot the man, who was pronounced dead at the scene. The toddler was taken to Emanuel Medical Center in Turlock, where he was pronounced dead shortly after arrival.

Rico says this is a weird one; either religion or drugs, or both, were involved...

Government for clusterfuck is politician



Rico says
it's worth sitting through this Texan explaining the problem with your new light bulbs... (That whirring noise is Thomas Edison in his grave.)

A beautiful soul

Having seen it first run in 1975, Rico wanted to see Dersu Uzala again. Needless to say, he didn't remember more than the general outline of the story: a Russian officer surveying Siberia chances upon a Goldi tribesman and befriends him. It starred indigenous actors, but was directed by Akira Kurosawa, in his only non-Japanese film (ignoring all the films made by others in the West from his movies or screenplays, including The Magnificent Seven (Seven Samurai) and Last Man Standing). Long (144 minutes), elegaic, but beautiful (all that Siberian countryside), and goes right to the heart. Rico says see it...

Hey, I resemble that remark

Sounds like a conversation at Rico's house...

Civil War for the day

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, commander of the 20th Maine at Little Round Top during Gettysburg, recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor, presiding officer at Appomattox, later governor of Maine.

15 June 2008

OYAT

FRIDAY, JUNE 15, 2007
Back from the dead
I graduated from Rehab today.
That makes tomorrow the famous "first day of the rest of my life".
Having nearly lost it, I intend to experience the remainder as intensely as possible.
Stay tuned; it will get interesting.

New delusional structure

Youvebeenleftbehind.com, for a mere forty bucks a year, will allow true believers to trigger messages to their loved ones when they are raptured: "The website, based in Massachusetts, is run by a small team of Christians who must log on every day to indicate that the rapture has not yet taken place. If enough of them fail to log in, however, the system assumes that the second coming is nigh and sends out messages from all its subscribers. "The people on my team are Christians who expect to be raptured," Mark Heard, the site's creator, told the Guardian. "They must continually log in to the system. The team is spread out as far apart in the US as is possible to prevent against more than one member being taken out by attack, natural disaster, or epidemic." The site suggests preparing messages which could prove useful to those who remain on earth, which are then fired off if the second coming of Jesus happens.


Rico says he doesn't expect any of his friends to pony up forty bucks a year to tell him they've been magically transported to Jesus but, just in case, he's telling them right now not to bother...

The Irish fuck it up for everybody else

"The rules are absolutely clear. If all 27 countries do not pass the Lisbon Treaty it cannot pass into law... Germany and France were determined to press ahead with European integration despite Ireland's rejection of the treaty in the referendum - 53.4 percent voted against the treaty."

Rico says this European unification thing is turning out to be harder than it looked...

Sore loser

Robert Mugabe is still vowing to defeat the opposition in Zimbabwe's election, even though he will probably lose the run-off: "The regime has unleashed thugs, war veterans, and police to beat up opposition supporters in a campaign of intimidation. Resorting to increasingly violent threats, Mr Mugabe in effect warned at the weekend of a return to a bush war like the one in which thousands of Zimbabweans died in the 1970s, if he does not get his way."

Rico says he hopes the Zimbabwean people wake up and get rid of this clown before he takes the whole operation into the toilet with him...

14 June 2008

Mangos? Why not?

A review in the New York Times of A Case of Exploding Mangoes covers the premise that the death of General Zia, then-president of Pakistan, was engineered by his enemies using something (nerve gas, maybe) hidden in a case of mangoes put the president's plane as he returned from a demonstration of tanks in the Punjab in 1988.

Rico says it sounds like an interesting book; he'll wait for it to come to his local library...

Him and what army?

Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, sounding ever more pugnacious, said that he was prepared to go to war if he lost a runoff election to the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Rico says the clown prince will be lucky if the army doesn't kill him themselves...

Morons

The AP has an article on two NASCAR officials suspended for allegedly exposing themselves to a co-worker: "Mauricia Grant filed her suit Tuesday, alleging 23 specific incidents of sexual harassment and 34 specific incidents of racial and gender discrimination during her time as a technical inspector for NASCAR's second-tier Nationwide Series... Grant's suit accuses both men of exposing themselves to her."

Rico says there are, unfortunately, grown men this stupid...

They blinked

The New York Times business section has the good news: "Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, is planning to increase its output next month by about a half-million barrels a day, according to analysts and oil traders who have been briefed by Saudi officials... The move was seen as a sign that the Saudis are becoming increasingly nervous about both the political and economic effect of high oil prices. In recent weeks, soaring fuel costs have incited demonstrations and protests from Italy to Indonesia... The current prices are also making alternative fuels more viable, threatening the long-term prospects of the oil-based economy.

Rico says it's time for that compressed-air-powered car...

Yeehaw at Yahoo

The New York Times zings Jerry Yang, the CEO of Yahoo, in a column by Joe Nocera: "Yahoo has no future."

Rico says he didn't like Yahoo anyway, and won't miss it when it's gone...

Not beyond a reasonable doubt, apparently

R. Kelly skated on his child pornography charge: "A high-powered defense team convinced the jury of nine men and three women that the identity of the girl was not conclusive... Mr. Kelly’s lawyers, who included Edward Genson, Sam Adam and his son, Sam Adam Jr., filed so many motions that they helped delay the start of the trial for six years. But once in court, the lawyers adopted a minimalist approach, limiting their side of the story to two days. Mr. Kelly did not testify. At the time this seemed to reveal a weakness of the defense’s case. The defense team never even denied that the tape had been shot in Mr. Kelly’s former home."

Rico says the case seemed flaky, but Kelly was still lucky...

What's Pashtun for clusterfuck again?

From the Voice of America: Afghan and foreign troops have launched a massive manhunt to recapture hundreds of prisoners, including suspected Taliban militants, who escaped a central prison in southern Afghanistan after a raid by Taliban insurgents on Friday night. Authorities say an investigation into the incident is underway and some prison officials are also being questioned to see if they had played any role. A Taliban spokesman told reporters by telephone from an undisclosed location that 30 insurgents and two suicide bombers took part in the Friday night attack on the prison in the southern city of Kandahar. The commando-style assault began with a fuel tanker loaded with explosives hitting the main gate while another suicide bomber blew up the back wall of the facility. The powerful explosions are said to have instantly killed at least 15 security guards and wounded many others. Afghan Deputy Justice Minister Mohammad Qasim Hashimzai says that heavily armed Taliban militants then stormed the compound and helped prisoners escape... Afghan officials say that there were nearly 1,200 prisoners, including up to 400 suspected Taliban militants, before the attack, and most of them are said to have been freed by the attackers... Under a program agreed to last year to transfer all local prisoners from U.S detention, the U.S. military has handed over an unspecified number of suspected Taliban fighters to Afghan custody.

Rico says this was a perfect opportunity for a nighttime assault by Apache helicopters; a little night-vision equipment and some heavy machine guns, and this bullshit would have been stopped fast...

Civil War for the day

The First New York Volunteer Engineers firing the cannon at Fort Clinch in Florida.

13 June 2008

Another good one gone

Tim Russert, television star, croaked from a heart attack. He was 58.

Rico says that, being 56, he doesn't like seeing statistics like that...

Finally, a good reason to be short

In returning from space, apparently "short people tend to recover more quickly than tall people".

Rico says yet another reason he's not going to be an astronaut...

Preventive maintenance

al-Reuters has a story out of Amsterdam, where researchers published a study showing fewer accidents and reports of fire and theft on a Friday the 13th over just any Friday.

Rico says he was extra careful today, anyway...

Ah, the Italians

al-Reuters has a story about the Roman couple who, having been out drinking all night, decided to have sex in the confessional at their local church: "They were cautioned for obscene acts in public and disturbing a religious function."

Rico says he's never tried anything in a confessional, but they'd better have been small people...

Ah, the Irish

al-Reuters has the story of the Irish handing defeat to their political leaders over the EU treaty.
"The pact, known as the Lisbon treaty, failed by a margin of 53.4 to 46.6 percent in the only EU country to put it to a popular vote... Prime Minister Brian Cowen called the vote "a source of disappointment to my colleagues in government and to me." "In a democracy, the will of the people as expressed at the ballot box is sovereign. The government accepts and respects the verdict of the Irish people." Mary Lou McDonald, a member of the EU parliament from Ireland's nationalist Sinn Fein party, which helped lead the "No" campaign, said it would be impossible for Irish leaders to wriggle out of the referendum result... It wasn't the first time Irish voters have shocked the EU. They almost wrecked the bloc's plans for eastward expansion in 2001 by rejecting the Nice treaty, but the government staged a second referendum in which that pact passed. The government has said it is not considering a re-run this time around.

Rico says he's always found the Irish to be a proud people, more than willing to tell their betters to eff off like this...

A unicorn, finally

The one-year-old roe deer — nicknamed, not surprisingly, 'Unicorn' — was born in captivity in the Center of Natural Sciences research center's park in the Tuscan town of Prato, near Florence, Italy. He is believed to have been born with a genetic flaw; his twin has two horns... Single-horned deer are rare but not unheard of — but even more unusual is the central positioning of the horn, experts said. "Generally, the horn is on one side (of the head) rather than being at the center. This looks like a complex case," said Fulvio Fraticelli, scientific director of Rome's zoo. He said the position of the horn could also be the result of a trauma early in the animal's life.

Silicon Valley is a silly valley

Forbes has an article about the Microsoft/Yahoo/Google tango. It's too complicated for Rico to really care to untangle, but it looks like the yahoos at Yahoo have about one chance left to not crash and burn.

Rico says he does not now, has not in years, and will not use Yahoo in the future for anything, so its loss won't matter to him...

It's getting deeper, and it's only June

The Los Angeles Times has an article about the anti-Obama crap going on in the blogosphere. First was the ugly rumor that his wife had said "whitey" in a speech from the pulpit of Trinity United Church of Christ. That was rapidly refuted, but the Obama campaign has had to put up fightthesmears in order to have a single source of reality.

Rico says it's sad that things have gotten so stupidly mean in this campaign, but in actuality he doesn't even care if Michelle Obama did call non-blacks 'whitey', from a pulpit or anywhere else. Unlike nigger, kike, spic, or any of the other slang words we use to denigrate others, being called 'whitey' doesn't sting, even a little bit.

That's why they call it felony stupid

No, really, the guy's a moron and is probably safer in jail than out. Seems he not only dropped his mobile phone at the scene of the crime, he then came back and asked if he could have it back, please. (Why does Rico hear Oliver Twist asking for 'more, please'?)

Rico says this guy's not long for this world...

(Item courtesy the Bayou Renaissance Man)

Civil War for the day

The 140th of Antietam, the Friday.

12 June 2008

Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do?

The Supreme Court has determined that the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay can sue over violations of their rights.

Rico says they should be moved onto something large and heavy, like an obsolete aircraft carrier from the mothball fleet at Suisun Bay, which could then sink mysteriously, during some convenient storm, in deep water off Florida... (I know, I know, that's not nice. Rico doesn't care, nor do the 3000 dead in the World Trade Center.)

What is it with cranes these days?

The AP reports that a large crane fell during construction of the Dallas Cowboys' new stadium in Arlington, Texas. Three workers were injured, but no one killed.

No Montezuma's Revenge? What fun is Mexico without it?

al-Reuters has a story about a patch version of a vaccine that protects against 'traveler's diarrhea'. Not only is it a good thing, but it doesn't require a needle to get it.

Rico says this is modern medicine at its finest; too bad he didn't have it when he last went to Mexico, and got the two-week version of the disease...

If you believe that, Rico's got some won ton here to sell you

The AP says that China denied accusations by two U.S. lawmakers that it hacked into congressional computers, saying that, as a developing country, it wasn't capable of sophisticated cybercrime. The allegations are the latest in a series of cybersecurity problems blamed on China. Reports last year cited officials in Germany, the United States, and Britain as saying government and military networks had been broken into by hackers backed by the Chinese military.

Rico says if Congress is getting hacked by Chinese cyberpirates, surely questions should be asked about computer security...

Even the smart boys lose sometimes

Seems Citigroup is shutting down a hedge fund it bought just last year for $800 million. Citigroup Vice Chairman Lewis Kaden said in an interview with Fortune magazine that the July 2007 Old Lane purchase was a way for the bank to recruit Vikram Pandit, CEO of Old Lane Partners, as well as John Havens, who was promoted in March to head investment banking, trading and hedge funds, and Brian Leach, who became chief risk officer. Pandit, Havens, and Leach all worked at Morgan Stanley, the second-biggest U.S. securities firm by market value, before they co-founded Old Lane. Pandit, 51, is one of Old Lane's investors. He received $165.2 million last year from Citigroup for his stake in Old Lane, then reinvested $100.3 million, after tax, into the fund, according to a March regulatory filing.

Rico says he once thought of working in the financial world; he's glad he didn't...

Oops, bad news for the Democrats

The Los Angeles Times has an article about Joe Lieberman crossing party lines to endorse John McCain for president. Admittedly, he's currently listed as an independent, but he caucuses with the Democrats, giving them their 51-49 majority in the Senate. He could, Rico supposes, just as easily caucus with the Republicans, making it a 50-50 deal and pissing off the Democrats...

Dodged a legal bullet

The AP says the judge dinged in the Los Angeles obscenity case "is more accustomed to appearing on lists to fill U.S. Supreme Court vacancies than headlines involving pornographic scandals... Kozinski, 57, was born in Romania to Holocaust survivors and came to America when he was 12."

Rico says that's just what we need on the Supreme Court, a porno junkie...

A writer with a similar name, Jerzy Kosinski, was also warped by a childhood during the Holocaust. Sixty years later, we're still paying the price for those fucking Nazis...
 

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