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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I'm Confused.

Wasn't it just a few months ago that the media was telling us that the NRA was responsible for ebola?
If only there was someone around who could educate the American public about the actual level of risk. Someone who was trusted as a public health expert and whose job it was to help us understand what we really need to worry about and what precautions we should take.

Actually, that is one of the primary responsibilities of the United States surgeon general. There’s just one problem: Thanks to Senate dysfunction and NRA opposition, we don’t have a surgeon general right now. In fact, we haven’t had a surgeon general for more than a year now — even though the president nominated the eminently qualified Dr. Vivek Murthy back in November 2013.
And yet:

Surgeon general nominee Vivek Murthy, opposed by gun lobby, confirmed
President Obama's pick to serve as the next surgeon general was confirmed Monday evening more than a year and half after being nominated, the first of nearly a half dozen of the president's picks set for confirmation this week as Democrats prepare to cede control of the U.S. Senate.

Senators voted 51 to 43 to confirm Vivek Murthy, a Harvard and Yale-educated doctor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, whose nomination had been in limbo amid concerns about his experience, and opposition from the gun lobby.
So, basically, the media was/is full of s**t. Back when they were claiming that the NRA was responsible for holding up Murthy's nomination, that was a big wet sack of horse manure lie. Nothing changed in the Senate from the time that first story came out. Heck, nothing changed in the Senate from the initial nomination of Murthy.

Except, of course, that in about a month the Senate gets handed over to the GOP. You know, the party that the American people overwhelmingly elected last month? And before the Senate changes hands, it's one big middle finger to the GOP and the people that elected them. Top. Men. They could have confirmed Murthy literally at any time after he was nominated. ANY. TIME. Yet they didn't, because by and large the Surgeon General position is a useless figurehead, and far better for it to be a bludgeon with which to beat the GOP about the head and shoulders should something go wrong.

Like, you know, letting a bunch of people from a region experiencing an ebola outbreak come to the U.S. with no rules of quarantine...

Don't change the rules. Keep them exactly as Harry Reid changed them. No more "nuclear option." They're the ones that removed it when they were in power. Let them deal with the consequences of their actions now that they are no longer the majority party. This is one of the few battles you can win - it is THEIR actions that did this. You quite literally need to do NOTHING - why should you change the rules back?

Just sit back and - for once - let the Democrats reap the consequences they have sown...

That is all.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Will Wonders Never Cease...

I finished my holiday shopping* yesterday. December 14th. There have been years when I didn't even start my Christmas shopping until December 14th. Heck, there were a couple years where I didn't start until the date started with a "2". This is a milestone for me, and I'm not sure if it's a good sign or not...

It's funny how your perception of things changes as you get older. When you're a kid (read: pre-teen), Christmas the grand-high exalted holiday, full of presents and chocolate. The countdown begins sometime after Halloween, and after Thanksgiving it gets into full swing. For a good solid month it's nothing but nail-biting anticipation.

Then you hit the teen years, and start having to buy presents for people. All of a sudden, this wonderful holiday starts to become work. Oh, sure, it' still pretty awesome, because you get presents and candy and all that, but there's now a price tag attached: you need to start thinking about others. Funny, that. This continues throughout your teenage years and into your 20s. Until...

You have kids of your own. Then the full magic of Christmas hits you all over again. When you see the pure, unmitigated joy in your child's eyes at a house lit up with Christmas lights or seeing Santa on a firetruck, you're five years old again yourself. You go from believing in Santa to not believing to becoming Santa. And that is both awesome and terrifying.

The saddest Christmas of my life was the first one where both kids had stopped believing.

But yeah. Somewhere along the line I became a grownup. Rather than getting together with a couple good friends the weekend before Christmas and making a grueling day of shopping, most of my shopping is done online. More and more retailers are realizing this and offering incentives like free shipping to entice the digital crowd. Between not having to fight the crowds at the malls and not having to drive all over creation in traffic (I do that enough Monday through Friday!), I'll even pony up for shipping when I have to...

Done with Christmas shopping on December 14th. If the 20-something me had ever been told that, he'd have laughed hysterically. Online shopping was in its infancy back then (boy, I wish I'd thought to grab a piece of Google or Amazon when they first started, eh?), and brick-and-mortar still ruled the Christmas roost. I'm not sure what the breakdown is overall, but I know that of my shopping, only gift cards were purchased in a store.

And now I've got over a week and a half to relax and watch all the other panicking... 

That is all.

*No, I'm not being politically correct. One of the presents I purchased is a Chanukah present...

Saturday, December 13, 2014

I Couldn't Resist...

...pointing out that it's 10:11, 12/13/14.

Hello, my name is Jay, and I'm a geek.

That is all.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Christmas Music...

'Tis the season. It just ain't Christmas until I hear some old favorites...

"Christmas in Hollis," Run DMC. Immortalized in that wonderful Christmas movie, "Diehard." Always been a fan of Run DMC.

"Twelve Days of Christmas," The Mackenzie Brothers. Take off, eh?

"Christmas Eve in Sarajevo," Trans Siberian Orchestra. Or, as SCI-FI likes to call it, "Christmas music, if it were performed by Klingons.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

That is all.

Friday Car Pr0n #60

This week's car pic was more of a struggle. The 1960s ushered in a much different era in car design. Vehicles were far more angular and boxy - compared to the chrome roamers of the 1950s - and we started to see the rise of the muscle car.

1960 Chevrolet Impala. To me, the '60 Impala straddled the two worlds. The front end was 1960s, with clean, straight lines. The rear end retained the big, albeit sideways, tailfins that exemplified the styling of the '50s. As the 1960s progressed, the Impala would square off, eventually turning into a clone of the Chevelle.

Greatest. Car. Ad. EVER.

It would ape the Chevelle until the mid-70s, when it turned into the Caprice, which it held through the 1980s, and then for a brief period in the 1990s, when it was the sport version of the Caprice, called the Impala SS. It was then turned into a generic sedan in the early 2000s, and has remained such ever since.

A shame they couldn't have let the badge go after the SS in the '90s...

That is all.

Thursday, December 11, 2014


So, apparently something happened to Sitemeter. For years and years, I lived and died by the numbers that would pop up when I clicked the link at the bottom of the page, sometimes checking multiple times a day. Why, it's almost like my sense of self-worth came from a number loosely tied to the number of times someone clicked on a website vaguely affiliated with me...

And apparently, Sitemeter's been dead for at least a week, because I got my weekly e-mail with stats and it was all zeros. Literally, an entire week with no visits whatsoever. Now, obviously I'm getting something, because comments, so it's just not registering anything.

I know in the past year since I stopped gunblogging and the DGC that the urge to blog is less. There's a zillion reasons why, but I think one of the bigger ones is getting the hell out of MA. Sure, the traffic's worse now, but I'm living in a free state (had two Ruger BX-25s mailed to the house from MidwayUSA this week. HOW DO YOU LIKE THAT, DEVAL?) and working in a job I really enjoy.

It was liberating seeing the Sitemeter record nothing but goose-eggs - and not realizing it for over a week.

That is all.

Buddy, The Chicken's Not the Only Thing That's NOT Free Range...

Skidmark sent these in. I had to post it just so y'all could get a good chuckle or two...

Ridicule heaped upon Berkeley rioter complaining about jail food
One of the Berkeley rioters became the target of hilarious mockery after complaining about the the quality of the fare served at the jailhouse.
Here's the meal in question:

Yeah, that's borderline torture, ain't it, bunky? A bologna sandwich, chips, an orange, and a cup of water to drink. You've got protein (bologna), fiber (wheat bread), and fruits - the only thing missing is something from the dairy family. That horrible lunch looks like what a lot of kids took to school back when I was growing up. Yet this doofus - in jail for being part of the riot - thinks this is akin to waterboarding. Hell, that meal is probably too good for school children, at least according to Michelle Obama...

And then there's this:

Berkeley protesters complain their successful #ShutItDown campaign means they have to walk home [photos]
Berkeley, Calif. endured more chaos and mayhem last night as police-brutality protesters were successful at bringing local car and rail traffic to a halt.
Apparently, the protestors shut down highways and train lines by blocking traffic. Without getting too much into how angry I would be if I was unable to get home to my family because a bunch of spoiled rich kids were playing protestor, nor defining just how many I could run over in the Earthf**ker before the tire treads got filled with soylent green and lost traction (lots), this is the kind of "protest" that is going to boil over one of these days, and it's not going to go well for the protestors. They're out there on the train tracks. TRAIN TRACKS. Trains are notorious for not giving a hairy rat's patoot what the color of the skin was on the person they just ran over...

So, yeah. After their big successful protest, which accomplished nothing except pissing people off that had absolutely zero to do with any of the cases they were protesting about, they came smack-dab face to face with actions that have consequences. They turned to get back on the subway trains to get back to their comfy suburban homes only to find that, hey, some dumbass blocked the train tracks and the trains aren't running. Enjoy your walk, @$$hole.

Let me play you "Hearts and Flowers" on the world's smallest violin, doofus.

That is all.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

LIfe's Hard. Get a Helmet

Oh, sweet merciful Vishnu, someone's in for a very rude awakening...

Columbia Law postpones finals over Eric Garner ‘trauma’
They’re a long way from being hard-nosed litigators.

A group of Columbia University law students demanded the school postpone their finals because of their “trauma” over the Eric Garner and Michael Brown grand jury decisions.

And the bleeding-heart higher-ups bought it.

In an email to the entire school, Interim Dean Robert Scott said the decisions “have shaken the faith of some in the integrity of the grand-jury system and in the law more generally.”
Right. So, naturally, the way to cope is to postpone your critical law school tests because... Um... Yeah, I don't get it. I mean, if one of the people involved was a family member I could understand it, but aside from that, you ain't facin' trauma, buttercup. I got hit by a car halfway through grad school and still finished on time. That was trauma, literally.

I'm not surprised that the students would pull something like this. Heck, given the climate today, I'd be a little disappointed in them if they hadn't. But for Columbia to postpone finals? I have to tell you, if I were a Columbia grad, this is the kind of thing I would bring up the next time they called looking for money.

That's a hint, folks...

I really do wonder what's going to happen when these precious snowflakes get out in the real world. What happens when they take a job as an assistant DA and something bad happens - you know, like their favorite TV show gets canceled. Are they going to expect paid days off from work? Almost assuredly. My sister works for a law firm in Boston, and puts in something like 180 hours a week (may be a slight exaggeration, but not much). She's going to face competition from these sniveling little weiners? I think she went out drinking when she heard this news... (Note: she really didn't, because she has a JOB and effing commitments that go with it...)

At some point, the real world is going to rise up and smack these self-absorbed idiots (it's all about meeeeee and my pwecious feewings!) right on the backside. They're going to encounter a boss, or a neighbor, or a potential suitor who doesn't think the sun rises and sets in the crack of their asses, and it's going to shake their worldview mightily.

I just hope I'm there to point and laugh.

That is all.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Not. Helping.

Heard this on the radio on the drive home yesterday. I still don't know what to make of it.

Berkeley protesters briefly block Oakland freeway
Hundreds of people marched from Berkeley to Oakland Sunday for the second night of demonstrations against a grand jury's decision not to indict a police officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner.

There were reports of some demonstrators throwing explosives at officers and assaulting each other. A group of demonstrators blocked all eastbound lanes of Highway 24 near 52nd Street at 8:45 p.m. in Oakland.
If this had been all there was to the story, I wouldn't have thought twice about it, except perhaps to comment on the spectre of societal unrest, a volatile political climate for the current party in the White House, and historical precedent (although, for all his faults, Mitt Romney is no Richard Nixon...).

No. Then there was this:
Protesters tonight could be heard yelling, "Fist up, Fight back," and "Turn it up, don't turn it down. Shut it down for Michael Brown."
(Emphasis mine).

That brought me to a full stop. For the older readers, imagine the sound a record needle makes when pulled off the record. For the younger readers, ask your parents. Just think about that line for a second, will you? These people are protesting what they feel are instances where the police have overstepped their bounds. In both cases, we have people resisting officers with physical force and refusing to follow the officers' directions.

Raising your fists? Fighting back? Isn't that what got Mike Brown killed? Even if you believe 100% that Brown was shot in the back by a racist cop, is showing overt menace to someone that potentially might do you harm going to help things? If they honestly believe that cops are just looking for an excuse to kill black people, is inciting them to raise their fists going to help things?

This just struck me as the worst idea in the history of bad ideas. Let's whip this crowd into a frenzy, telling them to attack police officers. Then, when they do attack the police officers - the ones we believe are terrible racists, what exactly is going to happen? Cops are, despite what anyone might tell you, still human. They do have the right to defend themselves. When they do defend against attack - and they will - more people are going to get hurt and/or killed.

Great. You've just agitated for a vicious circle of violence. Wonderful. This can't possibly end poorly, can it?

There are so many thoughts slamming together in my brain over this whole scenario. I can't help but wonder, with a bitter laugh, what the position was of some of these agitators some 20 years ago, when they were staking out Randy Weaver's house on Ruby Ridge. Did they think Weaver was asking for it? Did they think Weaver should have surrendered to the authorities? Or did they buy the ATF's claim that David Koresh started the fire inside the Waco compound? Fast forward - did Erik Scott really have his hand on his gun, like Las Vegas cops claimed?

Not to mention, I have to ask, how many of the professionally offended have personally donated camera time at events where gun control played some part. How many of them might have hinted, intimated, or even outright stated that only the police should own guns? It's the same side of the ideological coin.

The pro-gun control people are watching this go down with bemusement - we're told, over and over, that police are better, smarter, better trained. Ordinary people have no business owning guns; that's for professionals like police officers. "I'm the only one professional enough" and all that. We point out that only police can own new machine guns; that police are allowed to carry guns in all 50 states; that police are exempted from the draconian laws the rest of the population labors under. New York cops don't have to only load 7 rounds; Massachusetts cops can own Glocks; Maryland cops are issued "assault weapons."

I'm certain that those agitating for greater oversight on police will remember all this the next time, right?


I hope the police remember this, too. I hope they remember which side was hanging them out to dry, using them as the boogeyman. The next time some anti-gun politician wants a "Fraternal Order of Police" seal of approval on their latest gun-grabbing scheme, I hope the cops present said politician with video of "Fists up, fight back" and "Shut it down for Michael Brown." I hope they're tired of being used as props by people that would happily throw them under the bus.

And the agitators. Do they really believe that now is the time for violence? Because things are going to get really ugly for a LOT of people if that's the case. As much as the media is studiously ignoring it, we're seeing racial violence in many of these places - against folks with melanin deficiencies. A Bosnian man was beaten to death after attempting to stop teenagers from destroying his car. A Bosnian woman was pulled from her car and beaten unconscious. Both times the races of the attackers and the attackees did not match.

It doesn't take a political science major nor a student of history to see what's going to happen if this keeps going. There's no good end to any of this. Just lots more dead and broken people. What scares the living hell out of me, though, is what kind of monsters we might reanimate with renewed racial tension.

Let's not lose sight that all civil rights can and will be under attack. More demonstrations turn into riots, things get ugly, people get hurt. People get hurt, people start demanding that Something Must Be Done. That "something" is almost never the right thing. It wouldn't surprise me in the least to hear some nimrod claim we need more gun control so that there won't be more Michael Browns. Oh, wait. Someone already did.

I hope cooler heads will prevail; sadly, I fear that it may be only a hope and not reality.

That is all.

Monday, December 8, 2014

There's Something Happenin' Here...

I'm really not sure where this is going - if it's going anywhere at all.

First we had Trayvon Martin. This poor, innocent child, returning from a quick trip to the convenience store for some candy, was followed by some creepy white dude, who shot him dead for no apparent reason.

Then there was Mike Brown. For no reason other than he was walking down the street, Brown was shot dead, execution-style, in the back by a trigger-happy racist cop.

Next up we have a sordid tale of a young college student, viciously gang-raped by nameless and faceless fraternity brothers as part of some bizarre initiation ritual.

Problem is, in each of these stories, reality turned out to be nothing even remotely like the narrative. The media, desperately clinging to the "innocent boy vs. horrible racist man" narrative, kept showing pictures of  Trayvon Martin when he was 12. We saw the same tactic with Mike Brown, with his high school graduation picture being apparently the only photograph ever taken.

They did get smarter with the UVA case, though. Since it was a sexual assault, the alleged victim wasn't named - couldn't be named. With that anonymity, the story is easier to stick to - no need to find 5 year old pictures when you conveniently can't show the victim at all.

In all these cases, though, the narrative fell apart despite the best attempts of the media to maintain it. George Zimmerman may have made poor decisions the night he shot Martin, but he hardly attacked this darling young boy. Officer Wilson certainly didn't shoot Mike Brown in the back. And while something might have happened at UVA, it's hard to believe this horrific gang rape occurred as part of an initiation ritual in the fall - when pledging takes place in the spring.

It makes you wonder. Sure, part of the problem is the rush to be first. Why be right when you can be right now? How many mass shootings has the media reported on where they claim multiple shooters, yet the reality is the vast majority are single? The stories as we initially hear them are juicy - a young man shot dead for no reason, a racist police officer shooting a black teen in the back, a college coed brutalized by frat brothers.

I'd be surprised if the media didn't report these stories.

It's the later, when the evidence starts pouring in that suggests things didn't happen the way the media wanted it to happen, that's critical. Rather than report the facts as they come in, we're treated to a litany of excuses. How many times did we hear the grand jury testimony in the Wilson hearing contained "conflicting accounts," yet we never heard that the reason accounts were conflicting is that witnesses who agreed with the "shot in the back" narrative were confronted with hard-and-fast evidence proving it couldn't have happened the way they claimed.

In the UVA case, this woman made numerous accusations that could have been (and eventually were) followed up on and found lacking. The first and most glaring being the initiation angle - a quick call to the national charter would have yielded the critical information that pledging occurs in the spring, so something like this happening as an initiation ritual is quite unlikely in the fall. Simple follow-ups fell by the wayside in the rush to bring these salacious and outrageous stories to print.

Even more troubling, though, is the aftermath. "Hands up" has become a rallying cry, despite there being not a single shred of evidence that Brown ever put his hands up. All greek organizations were suspended as a result of the Rolling Stone interview and alleged sexual assault; when it was brought up that perhaps the UVA President owed the fraternity an apology, the thought was violently shouted down. Oh, sure, maybe *this* assault didn't happen, but those evil frats have been doing stuff like this for a long time.

"Everybody knows" isn't a reason. The list of things "everybody knows" that has turned out to be completely wrong is so long we could spend all day on it and not even scratch the surface. It's certainly no reason to indict an entire profession (police) or condemn a specific fraternity for crimes no one can prove ever happened. Other injustices committed by other groups, no matter how similar, should have zero bearing on the actual event.

Every time the media blows a story out of proportion, though, the *real* stories get lost. Worse, they end up making things worse for real stories - by the time we got around to Eric Garner being killed by NYPD, we were all "outraged-out" after Mike Brown. Eric Garner was killed "resisting" NYPD over the sale of loose cigarettes. He wasn't knocking over convenience stores or selling drugs; he was committing the unpardonable crime of taking tax dollars away from the state. And he died as a result of police attempts to apprehend him.

That's a WAY more sympathetic story than the reality of Mike Brown, isn't it?

In the same vein, our Rolling Stone interviewee whose story seems to have fallen apart upon review has almost certainly caused severe harm to real cases of rape. Some will fail to report what happened, fearing that increased scrutiny in the wake of the embarrassing UVA report might further victimize them. Others might get overlooked as coverage is denied, again with a gunshy media deciding that silence is golden - after all, you can't get a story wrong that you don't report.

I'd like to believe that each of these cases are nothing more than the media just doubling down on their own stupidity. It's tempting to think there's some grand conspiracy here, that the media has this master template for fomenting dissent and hate in some bizarre attempt to make headlines and sell newspapers. Reality, though, dictates that the far more logical reason is simply that they don't want to admit they're wrong, and they're willing to burn the village in order to save it. Rather than say, hey, we messed up and didn't fully investigate that story, they're digging deeper and deeper.

Because if it really is some sinister conspiracy, I'm terrified to think that people are dumb enough to fall for it...

That is all.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Two Images Come to Mind...

I saw this:

US chimpanzee Tommy 'has no human rights' - court
The appeals court in New York state said caged chimpanzee Tommy could not be recognised as a "legal person" as it "cannot bear any legal duties".

The Nonhuman Rights Project had argued that chimps who had such similar characteristics to the humans deserved basic rights, including freedom.
And two things came to mind:



I mean, REALLY?

The "Nonhuman Rights Project"??? Seriously? Look, I understand that some people love animals (no, not THAT way, you perverts). I understand the desire to protect them, and I know folks tend to anthropomorphize animals often, especially pets. But you want to start granting rights to chimps? OH HELL NO.

Try working on getting our basic rights restored to us humans first, then we can talk.

But you want a monkey to have "basic rights", that sounds reasonable, right? It's a primate, we're primates, we're practically related in the big gene pool of life. It's when you realize these people have no intention at stopping at the primate order. First monkeys, then pets, then cows and chickens. Before you know it, we're starving to death and thinking longingly about soylent green.

Nope. Ain't gonna happen. I agree we need to have rules so that animals are not mistreated, that's just basic good karma (and, not for nothing, deliberate cruelty to animals is one of the three hallmarks of serial killers...). Give them rights, though? That's a one-way ticket to Nopesville.

I shudder to think who would be courting the invertebrate vote...

That is all.

Another dispatch from...
(image courtesy of Robb Allen)

Friday Car Pr0n #59

Today's car pic has been pre-determined since, well, 1959. This is my favorite car in the entire world, hands down, #1 in the same sense that McDonald's is the #1 hamburger joint...

1959 Cadillac El Dorado Biarritz Convertible.

I don't know what it is about this car that just draws me to it. I suspect the tailfins:

Just look at 'em! One glance and you can tell this car was designed by the one, the only, the late great Harley Earl. You know, the man responsible for the Buick Y-Job concept car, the Corvette, and the Chevy Impala. That Harley Earl. There's just something about the cars Earl designed. Sure, they're dated - but that's one hell of a timeframe in American automotive design to be dated to.

Cars today are a hell of a lot better than they were in the 1950s. That's not up for debate. With engines that can go 100,000 miles without a tuneup, tires that don't need replacing at 10,000 miles, and displacement-to-horsepower ratios that would have been the holy grail of hot rodders 50 years ago, the cars available today have almost everything over the cars from Harley Earl's day. That missing piece, of course, is style.

It's like style had to die for reliability to live...

That is all.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

He's Right...

It's not often that I agree with the Democrat mayor of Boston on anything...

Mayor Walsh, area police, offer mixed response to use of body cameras
Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh said Monday he is not ready to embrace the use of body cameras by Boston police, saying community outreach and improving job and educational opportunities are his primary focus to strengthen trust between police and the communities they serve.

“The body camera is a tool that can be used, [but] it goes a lot deeper than that,” Walsh said in an interview after attending a meeting of mayors, police chiefs, and civil rights activists with President Obama at the White House.
I agree with him on this regard, but for a completely different reason.

Cameras aren't going to make a lick of difference. Look at the Brown case. What is the one defining image, one that has made it to law school campuses and the US Congress? Yep, the "hands up" image. You know, the one that is a complete and utter media fabrication. Never happened. Oh, some claimed it did - but these are also people that claimed Brown was shot in the back, despite any evidence supporting that claim whatsoever.

Facts. Don't. Matter.

The media decided, for whatever reason, that this story was going to be big. They allowed untruths to fester and go viral and in no small part made the riots and unrest worse than it had any right to be. They elevated Brown to the status of martyr, crafting the narrative that this poor innocent unarmed teenager was brutally murdered by a racist police officer for no reason.

Honestly, what difference would a body camera have made? The plethora of cameras outside the Costco in Las Vegas where Erik Scott was gunned down by cops didn't bring about any outrage. Scott, by all objective accounts was not threatening officers in any way when they opened fire, yet because it was a concealed carry holder, the media was silent. Well, other than clucking their tongues about one of "those people" getting "what was coming to them"...

Here's the thing. We had a story in SC where a state cop opened fire on a motorist. The cop was white, the motorist was black. The cop told the motorist to provide ID, the motorist complied, but apparently he moved a little too quick, so the cop opened fire. It's all caught on camera - and not only was the cop fired, he's facing criminal charges. Why? Because it was an egregious mistake on his part that led to someone catching a bullet when they didn't deserve it.

There was no hay to be made of this case, no drum to beat, so the story went nowhere.

We can't - or won't - equip all police officers with cameras. There's no doubt that somewhere, somehow, there will be another situation like what happened in Ferguson that the media can exploit for huge ratings, consequences be damned. Even when presented with overwhelming proof that Officer Wilson was correct in his use of force; even when confronted with irrefutable evidence that Brown was NOT shot in the back with his hands up, the narrative just changed to "well, there's still racism".

And that's the thing. There *is* still racism, or, more semantically correct, racial prejudice. There are almost certainly cases in this country where black men are shot by police with little or no provocation. Why focus on these marginal cases, where there are so many conflicting accounts and the facts don't add up? Is it a rush to sensationalize? Quick, blow this story out of proportion before we learn the truth?

It sure seems like the media and the "professionals" did everything in their power to make sure that Ferguson burned.

That is all.

Another dispatch from...
(image courtesy of Robb Allen)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

So This Is Christmas...

No, I'm not going to post that insipid John Lennon song. That and the '80s Live Aid dreck "Do They Know It's Christmas", I mean, really, could they *get* more patronizing?

No, this past weekend we decorated the new house for Christmas. Last year, we moved at Christmas - we signed on the 23rd of December, and all of our worldly possessions arrived the next day. Yes, we were unpacking boxes on Christmas Eve. We had a tree - I went to Target and bought a pre-lit, 4' tall Christmas tree so the kids would have something - and presents (we're not savages), but the house wasn't really decorated for Christmas.

That's the front. I had extra lights and another timer, so I hit the back as well:

Yeah, it's not much, but it's something. And I wanted to point out that on the last day of November, I was out in the backyard cooking on the grill. I kinda dig this Virginia thing a little...

TheBoy is 13. He'd rather play Madden '15 or watch "Family Guy" than trim the Christmas tree, but we did manage to enlist his help for a period of time. I remember being a 13 year old boy at Christmas. I would help my mom with the tree every year (Dad never put up the tree. Ever.), and every year I'd roll my eyes and try to get through it as quickly as I could, eager to get back to *my* video games or whatever was on TV.

Putting up the ornaments this year, I finally got it.

Christmas ornaments are a time capsule. They're a snapshot of life the year you received the ornament, and they bring with them a flood of memories. The "Quebec '96" ornament we bought on our honeymoon. The "New Home '99" ornament for the first Casa del G. The "Baby's First Christmas" in 2000 that we never got to use. The "Baby's First Christmas" in 2001 that we did. Everything comes rushing back in a flood of memories and bubble wrap, all Christmases past and the ones you hope are still to come.

And yes, I *am* a geek:

It's not Christmas without Kirk!

Of *course* I have a phaser. Does it surprise you that there's also a 1911? (Big thanks to the guys at Shotlock for those, BTW).

There are also Harleys, muscle cars, vintage Cadillacs, Buicks, and Lincolns, and pickup trucks of all makes and models on the tree. There are Hallmark ornaments, Boston Red Sox ornaments, numerous engraved "Make A Wish" ornaments, a couple Hubble Space Telescope ornaments from a friend who worked on the project; and countless others too numerous to catalog.

The most important ones, though - and any parent will tell you this - are the homemade ornaments. The Santa Clauses and snowmen and candy cane reindeer and the pictures... We made a few ornaments with pictures when TheBoy was a baby, and our MA house was featured. Unsurprisingly, the new house has many similar features, with an open concept from kitchen to family room, with the tree in the same approximate spot. La plus ca change, and all that.

I understand, mom, why you dragged the boxes out every year. I understand it now. Every Christmas is a gift; every ornament has its own story; and for a short while, once a year, you get a trip back in time courtesy of a plastic-and-wood creation. I hope we can cajole the kids into helping with the tree and decorating for a few more years, at least. If not, well, the tree will still go up, there will just be fewer to share the memories.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

That is all.

Monday, December 1, 2014

It's Better To Burn Out...

...than it is to rust, isn't that the way the song goes?

The Earthf**ker is showing its age. I noticed over the weekend that one of the tiny rust spots I saw over the summer is getting larger, about the size of a quarter now. This is not good. I'm supremely disappointed that my 2007 Dodge Ram is sprouting rot holes not even eight years into ownership. I expected that from the execrable cars of the 1980s. Not so much from a vehicle made well into the 2000s.

With that said, though, there's a few things that can be done. I can bring it to a body shop, have it ground down, refinished and repainted. Probably set me back a couple grand or so; I haven't priced a body shop in a while. Both rear fenders are showing spots, so both sides; the front fenders appear okay, but obviously will be on the horizon. If I were planning on keeping the truck another 6-8 years this is a not-terrible plan - even $2K is only a few months' car payments.

Another thought is fender flares. A quick look finds these, which are on Amazon for close to $500:

A peek at the instructions and it looks like a job that I could tackle myself easy enough; of course I'd want to treat the metal underneath before putting the flares on. How to accomplish that ranges from a full sand and bondo to literally just spraying clear coat and calling it done. The Earthf**ker is 8 years old and has close to 100K on the clock. I can't see keeping it more than half again as long; while the motor might hold up longer, Dodge is infamous for poor transmissions.

And, honestly, if it's starting to rot through in 8 years, I'm wondering what other corners were cut.

Right now it's running good, and I really do enjoy not having a car payment. I know that, left untreated, the small rust spots will blossom into full-blown rot holes and worse, so it's something that should be addressed in the early stages. This is a weird place for me to be; usually I've owned cars that were more rust than metal to begin with; I'm not used to having owned one vehicle so long that the body started to deteriorate. Letting the rust go is a short-term strategy; I think if I were planning on getting rid of the truck within a year I might just continue ignoring the problem.

Nothing's going to happen soon; I'd rather wait until spring and get another winter out of the way first. I might swing into a local body shop and see if they can give a quick estimate first - I'd prefer to stop the rust and get a full assessment of what kind of spread I'm looking at, too. If it's worse underneath than at the exterior, then I may just leave it be and start shopping for the replacement.

But damn, I'd like to hold onto the Earthf**ker a bit longer...

That is all.