Wednesday, December 31, 2008
For my friends and readers in the Northeast and Northwest, "Happy New year you poor bastards."
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
In The Forever War Haldeman told us Vietnam Really Sucked.
In Old Man's War John Scalzi says: maybe you're both right.
From the back cover blurb: On John Perry's 75th birthday, he did two things. First he visited his wife's grave, then he joined the army.
Well technically he joined the Colonial Defense Forces. I'm not going to say any more about the plot, because I am not certain what I could say that would not give something away.
Suffice it to say:
This is John Scalzi's first book. It was nominated for the Hugo award in 2006. It easily could have won, as it's better than at least two of the other nominees that year (both of which we also very good)
I bought Old Man's War on Saturday, today I went to the bookstore to buy the sequel. While standing in the SF section, I showed another customer the book. He started thumping the book and saying "yeah, yeah, yeah yeah".
At checkout one of the cashier's said, Oh Scalzi, yeah, have you read the first one?
Another cashier, said, what's he got, oh yeah.
First Cashier: Don't forget hte third one.
2nd Cashier: We have the third one?
Me :Yeah it's on the shelf.
2nd: I didn't know we had the third one, I looked
1st: It's there...
So two things:
1) If you have not yeat done so, go real Old Man's War - now.
2) From now on "yeah, yeah, yeah yeah" is apparently the sci fi reader's secret code for this series.
Monday, December 1, 2008
Sunday, November 23, 2008
The water meters are a good hundred feet down the road. Water company is pretty adamant that if it's on our side of the meter, it's our problem.
We have dirt roads in our neighborhood.
I get out my shovel and start digging. We get about 2- 2 1/2 feet down. No pipe. Let is set a while. Looks like clean water is coming in from the East. Dig another hole. Nope. Keep going.
Dig some more, Finally find the pipe around 4' from where we started. Mud mud everywhere. Get some tools and turn of the neighbor's water at the meter. Dig down untill I has some of the pipe clear.
Bail out the hole.
Hey, I can feel the water coming out. Looks like we found it. You know, there seems to be an awful lot of water coming out given that we shut off the water.
Walk back to the water meters and turn of MY water line.
Pipe pressure drops to nothing.
Bloody no good shoddy... if I ever find the guy who built this place...
We finally got the pipe unburied enough to find the leak. There was a crack in one of the pipe joins. Opinion on arizonashooting is to fix it with a compression fitting. Not the best solution, but gluing the pipe will require a LOT more digging. Really, a LOT more.
Drive to Home Depot. Once again Home Depot = Fail.
Drive to Lowe's. Buy 1 1/2" compression fitting and small (low profile hacksaw)
Go out for Chinese food. Hey, it's a pain to cook when the water is off.
Cut off bad join. The second I touched the pipe with the saw the join split in two and separated around a sixteenth of an inch. That's a lot of strain on that pipe to do that.
Wipe off the pipe with a wet towel and install the compression fitting.
Here is another pic showing how deep the pipe was:
I let it set overnight, no leaks we we backfilled the hole with 180 lbs of sand from the Home Depot. (At least they have freaking SAND!!!) I then put the dirt back in the hole, tamping carefully.
Ok, Ford suspension, watermain, enough projects already.
Friday, November 21, 2008
The biggest problem is that it is an upper end model, so it came stock with the 3rd row seat (+), 6 disc CD changer (+) and the air ride suspension from the Lincoln Navigator (big -)
When the air ride works, it's actually pretty cool. In theory it's great for towing, because you can load up a very heavy trailer, and the air bags will pump up until the rear is the right height. Thus you get all the advantages of a soft suspension for town driving and a hard suspension for towing.
The problem? You have pneumatic (air) components mounted to the bottom of an off-road viehicle. Let's face it, air lines and sharp rocks are never a good mix.
A couple weeks ago, the air suspension finally failed completely. I had resigned myself to replacing the rear air springs, but a quick perusal of the Ford forums convinced me to do something else: ditch the air ride and install a coil spring conversion.
The kit is basically 2 huge-ass coil springs, and a set of rubber seats for the springs. I opted to change out the rear shocks at the same time.
It took 4 hours start to finish.
1) Jack up the truck by the Frame as high as possible and put jack stands under it. It would have really helped if UI didn't have a full fuel tank (about 175 ls of fuel).
2) Jack up the rear axle, and remove the wheels.
3) Remove the nuts (18mm) attaching the sway bar, using 18mm socket wrench.
4) Remove air shocks. Pry off the bottom using a pry bar and pop off the valve at the top. Marvel at the amount of dirt and dust trap[ed by 180,000 miles.
5) Attempt to remove the bolt/nut attaching the bottom of the passenger side shock to the axle assembly.
6) Drive to Home Depot to get a 18mm box end wrench.
7) Drive to Lowe's where they actually HAVE an 18mm box end wrench.
8) Remove the bolt/nut attaching the bottom of the shock to the axle assembly.
9) Remove the screw and J-nut attaching the upper shock mount.
10) Repeat shock removal for the driver's side. Curse Ford repeatedly for placing the gas tank in the way.
11) Remove upper shock mount using a socket wrench, shallow socket, and piece of irrigation pipe on the wrench handle.
12) keep going, this is going to take a while.
13) Install the new shocks (top mount only). The J-nut is held in by the shock itselt. (this is the tricky part)
14) Drop the rear axle as far as it will go. Install new rear springs. Method: Mongo them into place.
15) Cut the shock retaining straps, and attach the bottom bolt/nut for the shocks.
16) Jack up the axle enough to attach the anit-sway bar.
17) drop the frame and put away your tools.
A) Do the passenger side first. Everything is easier to get to, so it's easier to figure out how the parts assemble/disassemble.
B) Home Depot's Tool selections sucks.
C) Coil springs can really increase your ride height.
D) The spring conversion kit is way better than replacing the air springs with more air springs.
Sorry that there are no pictures, but I did most of this after dark with a drop light.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
I wrote this as a response to a rather dear friend's comments in my wife's livejoural, but it's long enough, to be worth a post of it's own. So I'm pasting it here.
Review this post
My main point in my post on societies cracks is that Liberals and Conservatives really, really, DO NOT understand the way the other thinks. This is why when a conservative and a liberal argue it is like talking to a brick wall, their underling assumptions mean that they can't even agree upon what they are arguing about.
Government programs that are designed to help people ALWAYS, every time, no exception, make things worse. Yes they may help some people along the way, but the number one function of any bureaucratic organization is to perpetuate the organization.
Liberals need to accept the fact that they can't save/help everyone. Conservatives need to accept the fact that someone will always get a free ride. Only then can you truly start working towards solutions.
The government taxing you more in order to "spread the wealth" does actual, real, harm. It means that you have less money to spend at local businesses (which means fewer jobs), it means that you have less money for your retirement (which means fewer jobs down the road) ect.
If you want to help that single mother, help her. Bring her a lasagna to help her feed her family. Teach her a marketable skill so she can earn more money. Run a clothing drive so that she has an interview suit. Buy her a firearm (and a training class) so she can defend herself against her abusive ex-husband (not valid in California, Illinois, and New York).
But don't ever think that higher taxes are going to help her. Higher taxes just destroy jobs and rob folks of opportunity. You want to help people then actually HELP them.
The Red Cross, Salvation Army, and many other similar charitable organizations manage to take over 90% of their donations and get them to people in need. I can assure you that government programs are nowhere near as efficient. They are mostly efficient at employing government employees.
So that's the conundrum. How do you help those people who really could use a "hand up and not a hand-out"? Now, how do you do that without making things worse for everyone in line behind them?
I maintain that the way you help the most people is twofold.
First you accept the fact that "a rising tide lifts all boats". A tax structure that encourages large businesses to take their business out of the country, and penalizes small businesses for growing over 50 people, must as a point of fact increase unemployment and decrease opportunity.
Lowering the unemployment rate by a full percentage point clearly helps a lot more people out than any program (private or governmental) ever could.
Second you recognize that helping folks directly in your community, either through individual effort, or some group (religious or secular, private or incorperated), is THE most effective way of helping folks to realize the potential and opportunity.
Finally, you accept that there are just some folks who simply can't be helped, and there always will be. But you help more people my maximizing opertunity, than you do by punishing success.
The good news is that most manufacturers build components that are 100% compatible with each other, so if you buy a lower from one manufacturer and an upper from another manufacturer it fairly well guaranteed that they two parts will fit together without too much trouble.
The AR platform consists of two main sub-assemblies. These are known as the "upper" and "lower" half.
A complete lower half consists of a lower receiver, lower parts kit, and some sort of stock.
A complete upper half consists of the upper receiver, barrel, front sight base, gas tube, hand guards, bolt and bolt carrier, plus some misc. small parts.
The lower receiver is the firearm. This is the part that has the serial number, and thus this is the part that must be purchased either from an FFL, or from a private party in state. Everything else is just a part, and can be purchased over the internet, mail order, etc.
While it is generally cheaper to buy the upper and lower halves separately, there is nothing wrong with purchasing a complete rifle.
The first decision to be made is the barrel. Barrels come in a variety of lengths, weights, materials, and twist rates. Generally speaking, AR barrels come in 3 standard lengths, 20", 16", and 14.5-14.7". Other lengths such as 18" and 24" are available, but are much less common.
The classic rifle length barrel is 20". This is the length of a Vietnam era M-16 rifle that one might see when watching war movies involving the late un-pleasentness in South East Asia.
A 16" barrel is a "carbine" length barrel. This is the minimum length allowed (without a special tax stamp) in the united states. Any shorter and it becomes an SBR (short barreled Rifle)
The military M-4 carbine utilities a 14.5" barrel. Because the military uses this length, a lot of folks want this length barrel. If one attaches a muzzle device such as a flash suppressor, and has this permanently attached. and the overall length is over 16". Then this counts as being over the magical 16" for legal purposes.
I firmly recommend that the new AR buyer stick with either a 20" or 16" barrel. The velocity loss as one goes from 16" to 14.5" is actually quite significant, and dealing with a permanently attached flash-hider can be a small pain for certain disassembly tasks.
The next question is barrel twist. Early ARs had a 1 in 12 twist, that is one revolution of the rifling every 12 inches. (actually the earliest were 1 in 14, but they didn't work in extreme cold) This was fine for the 55 grain projectiles in use at the time. When the military switched to the 62 grain SS109 projectile, they needed a 1:9 twist to stabilize the heavier bullet. They actually picked 1:7, which was required to stabilize the tracer round, which is much longer, and requires a faster twist rate.
A couple years ago it was very hard to find a 1:7 twist barrel. Most manufacturers used 1:9. Match rifles generally used 1:8 (to stabilize the long low drag bullets used for shooting at 600-1000 yards). Nowadays 1:7 is reasonably common. Again, 1:7 is considered more desirable because it's what the military uses.
I actually think that for most folks, it doesn't matter that much. 1:9, 1:8, or 1:7 will stabilize just about any bullet the average person would reasonably use. A match rifle should be 1:8 or 1:7.
Barrels generally come either Hbar (heavy barrel) or GI profile (turned down under the handguards). You can save around a pound of weight by going with a GI profile.
Again, there are many other profiles. The M-4 profile is a GI profile with an extra turned down "notch" on the barrel to accommodate the M203 Grenade launcher. Since the average AR owner is NOT likely to have an M203, the notch is essentially decorative. Again its "desirable" because the .mil has the notch on their rifles.
TO BE CONTINUED...
Monday, October 27, 2008
Remind you of anybody...
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
Best part yet, this program would be run by the same goons who manage the giant Ponzi scheme known as "Social Security".
So let's see here.
Destroys Savings - Check
Confiscates Wealth - Check
Increases Taxes (On almost everyone) - Check
Stalin would be proud of these guys.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
I was talking to a friend ’s little girl, and she said she wanted to be President some day.
Both of her parents, liberal Democrats, were standing there, so I asked her, “If you were to be the President, what is the first thing you would do?”
She replied, “I’d give food and houses to all the homeless people.” “Wow - what a worthy goal.” I told her, “You don’t have to wait until you’re President to do that. You can come over to my house and mow, pull weeds, and sweep my sidewalks and driveway, and I’ll pay you $50.
Then I’ll take you over to the grocery store where the homeless guy hangs out, and you can give him the $50 to use toward food or a new house.”
She thought that over for a few seconds ’cause she’s only 6.
And while her Mom glared at me, she looked me straight in the eye and asked, “Why doesn’t the homeless guy come over and do the work, and you can just pay him the $50?”
And I said, “Welcome to the Republican Party.” Her folks still aren’t talking to me.
… Even children understand.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
2008 is no different.
Here is Mark's guide to and recommendations for the 2008 crop.
PROP 100: Amends the State Constitution to prevent any future taxes on the transfer of real property.
Reason: Prevents future taxes.
PROP 101: Amends the State Constitution to Prohibits laws that: restrict person's choice of private health care systems or private plans; interfere with person's or entity's right to pay directly for lawful medical services; impose a penalty or fine for choosing to obtain or decline health care coverage or for participatin in any health care system or plan.
Reason: Helps maintain freedom of choice in choosing your health care and how you pay for it.
PROP 102: Amends the State Constitution to define marriage as between a single man and a single woman.
Reason: The government should not be involved in sanctioning marriage, homosexual or heterosexual.
PROP 105: Amends the State Constitution to require a majority of REGISTERED voters to pass a tax increase via ballot initiative.
Reason: Essentially requires a supermajority to pass a new tax via the initiative process. Do I have to explain this? Taxes = Bad. Harder to pass taxes = good
PROP 200: Proposal to "reform" the payday loan industry.
Reason: The Payday Loan industry wrote this bill. Whether you think that people should have the right to make stupid decisions (and a Payday loan counts) or whether you think that the Payday Loansharks ought to be thrown in a nice active volcano somewhere, it's pretty clear that when an industry like this write their own "reform" law, it's a bad deal all around.
PROP 201: So called "Homeowners Bill of Rights" This would mandate a 10 year warranty on new construction and outlaw any method of redress except for a legal tort.
Reason: This is a dream proposition for the unions and the lawyers, and an open door to abusive lawsuits. If you want a 10 year warranty on a new house, that is what the purchase contract is for, write it into the contract, not state law.
PROP 202: Changes State Law regarding the Employer Sanctions law regarding hiring Illegal Aliens.
Reason: The actual function of this initiative would actually gut the current employer sanction law, while some might see this as a good thing, it also criminolizes anyone who hires more than 4 people and fails to withhold taxes. Better hope you always higher the same babysitter, because if you ever hire more than 3 you'd be a criminal.
PROP 300: Increases the Salary of the state legislature from $24K to $30K.
Reason: The legislature currently makes $240/day. Remember it is a 100-day part time legislature. They also get perdiem. Thus their real remuneration is more than the official $24K.
Bottom line, pay them too much and we get a fulltime legislature.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Obama repeatedly stumbled, talked about safe storage of nuclear "energy" when he meant nuclear waste. McCain came out and called for reprocessing of nuclear material, (which has been banned by executive order by Carter), and clearly showed that he was better on energy policy.
McCain also directly answered more questions (if that maters), especially the penultimate question on if he would assist Israel if they where attacked by Iran before we got UN "sanction". Obama never answered that one at all.
Points to Obama for looking calm and collected. Negative points for coming off as too cerebral. Carter was brilliant, and cerebral, and possibly the worst president of all time.
Negative points to McCain for thinking that anthropogenic global warming is real. However, since Obama also thinks it's real, it's a wash.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Biden did not put his foot in his mouth. For Biden this is a huge accomplishment. Frankly, Biden looked far more presidential than Obama did the other night.
Any chance we can re-do this election cycle and have a Palin-McCain and Biden-Obama race instead.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Here is my 4 point plan to get us out of the financial mess that we currently find ourselves in. Although the roots of the crisis can be found in the Clinton administration pressuring Freddy and Fanny into underwriting sub-prime debt, now is not the time for shrill fingerpointing, but the time to actually fix things.
The main points are the same as Dave Ramsey's 3 point plan, with some very minor modification. I actually don't like the 1st point, but I think it's necessary to unwind the consolidated dept instruments, and insurance is far preferable to outright purchase by the government.
Dear Senator Kyl,
I am writing to express my extreme displeasure with the current "bailout" or "rescue" package. The fact is that as conservatives we must recognize that the desire to do something in the face of crisis inevitably leads to the cure being worse than the disease.
FDR's meddling in the market did not cure the Great Depression, rather it caused it to last 10 years longer than necessary. This package (over 400 pages as I write this) is the wrong response, and will make the problem worse, not better.
We can solve this credit and liquidity problem with four straightforward steps.
A. Insure the subprime bonds/mortgages with an underlying FHA-type insurance. Government-insured and backed loans would have an instant market all over the world, creating immediate and needed liquidity.
B. In order for a company to accept the government-backed insurance, they must do two things:
1. Rewrite any mortgage that is more than three months delinquent to a 6% fixed-rate mortgage.
a. Roll all back payments with no late fees or legal costs into the balance. This brings homeowners current and allows them a chance to keep their homes.
b. Cancel all prepayment penalties to encourage refinancing or the sale of the property to pay off the bad loan. In the event of foreclosure or short sale, the borrower will not be held liable for any deficit balance. FHA does this now, and that encourages mortgage companies to go the extra mile while
working with the borrower—again limiting foreclosures and ruined lives.
2. Cancel ALL golden parachutes of EXISTING and FUTURE CEOs and executive team members as long as the company holds these government-insured bonds/mortgages. This keeps underperforming executives from being paid when they don’t do their jobs.
C. This backstop will cost less than $50 billion—a small fraction of the current proposal.
II. MARK TO MARKET
A. Remove mark to market accounting rules for two years on only subprime Tier III bonds/mortgages. This keeps companies from being forced to artificially mark down bonds/mortgages below the value of the underlying mortgages and real estate.
B. This move creates patience in the market and has an immediate stabilizing effect on failing and ailing banks—and it costs the taxpayer nothing.
III. CAPITAL GAINS TAX
A. Remove the capital gains tax completely. Investors will flood the real estate and stock market in search of tax-free profits, creating tremendous—and immediate—liquidity in the markets. Again, this costs the taxpayer nothing.
B. This will enable all Americans to have more stable jobs and retirement investments that go up instead of down. This is not a time for envy, and it’s not a time for politics. It’s time for all of us, as Americans, to
stand up, speak out, and fix this mess.
C. Long term we need to abolish the tax on dividends. Taxing dividends encourages the market to artificially inflate stock prices at the expense of dividends which causes long term instability.
IV. Repeal Sarbanes-Oxley
Sarbanes-Oxley results in millions of dollars in compliance costs for any business wanting to go public. It has done nothing to avert this crisis, but has done plenty to prevent growth in the economy by stifling business growth.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
The conservatives are deathly afraid that someone will get a free ride, that someone will benefit who does not "deserve" to. the problem is, when you expand the powers of govenrments to try to prevent folks from getting a free ride, you raise the cost of doing business, thus encouraging people to take the easy way.
There will ALWAYS be those who fall through the cracks
There will ALWAYS be those who get a free ride.
A libertarian understands that a free society, based upon the capitalistic principle of mutual exchange for mutual benefit, is the most effective way to reduce both problems.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Written = Pass
Oral = FAIL
I'm not surprised really. See my post on being ambushed.
I of course blame the department for their inability to communicate effectively what they expected. Certainly I was not expecting an ambush on topics completely unrelated to my research. Especially when the instructions stated explicitly that the Q/A period was supposed to derive from the research presented.
The next opportunity to take the oral portion of the comps will be this January. Unfortunately this means that I can't get my masters this December, as one of the requirements is that I have passed both the Oral and Written portions of the exam.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
The Dems were completly blindsided by the pic, which explains the whole "out of nowhere" meme. If they had been paying attention, they would have noticed that Sarah Palin was in the top three pics for the right wing bloggers.
They are rattled and flailing which explaines Obama's remarks earlier. Either he is a sexist pig, or he's too stupid to see why his remark is offensive. Or my personal chioice, he's an elitist snob.
Xavier goes with the sexist pig theory, and writes better than I can anyway.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Because the company has gone out of business several times, much of the history has been lost. However, since I promised some folks on arfcom some detail pictures of the differences between a Monson Produced and Palmer produced Model 15 .357 Magnum Revolver, I thought I'd reproduce the post here as well.
Images should be clickable.
1) Rear Face of the Cylinder. The Monson Gun is machined such that each chamber is recessed, similar to, but quite different than the way the old Smiths were made. The Palmer gun was clearly machined in one step.
2) Rear sights. The older unit has hex adjustments, and is machined out of a single piece of bar stock, the newer unit has slotted adjustment screws, and the rear sight blade is a separate part.
3) Hammer. The Monson unit is serrated, and nicely rounded, the Palmer unit is checkered and more squared off.
Both guns together. The Palmer gun is wearing Hogue stocks.
Clearly the Monson gun has those few extra little touches that make it a bit nicer. By the serial number the Monson DW is a reasonably early gun (early 80's) and many of the changes could have been introduced before the move to Palmer.
Monday, September 8, 2008
Yeah, I know.
The anarcho-capitalist, objectivist, phisicist, Atheist with a capitol "A" attempted to write a neo-Pagan filk song.
This is what came out instead:
The Knowledge Seekers
We are worshiping Prometheus in a new and modern way
And we light the flame of knowledge at the dawning of each day
From the largest wheeling galaxy, to the smallest grain of sand
We seek to know its measure, and we strive to understand.
Near my living room's a temple, in what some folk call a den
The walls are lined with bookcases. There's a notebook and a pen.
There's a sacrificial alter, it's called a shredder, by the door
And a stack of journal articles published the week before
We have seen the moons of Saturn, and heard the winds of Titan roar
And every day we find new things we'd never found before
The sun's missing neutrinos, water on the Moon and Mars
Or another planet orbiting about another distant star.
The universal building blocks we have cataloged in rows
And we've set them into columns, their secrets to expose
We sing a hymn to chemistry, our hearts and minds sublime
And we'll build a shrine to knowledge one atom at a time.
We've mapped the gods' blueprint for live, charted our DNA
Produced vaccines and medicines to keep the ancient scourge at bay
We learn, and craft experiments, peel mysteries away
Until like gods ourselves we shall make life itself one day.
We have delved the realm of atoms, split the nucleus in twain.
Knowledge is like a Genie; you can't put it back again.
A tool is what you make of it; it is neither good nor bad.
Though we may pray for greater wisdom, than the gods have ever had.
We are the knowledge seekers, and we seek to know it all
Know the universe itself down to each particle so small
And if learning is a journey, well our feet are on the road.
And we thank the god of knowledge, and the fire he bestowed.
We are worshiping Prometheus in a new and modern way
And we light the flame of knowledge at the dawning of each day
From the largest wheeling galaxy, to the smallest grain of sand
We seek to know its measure, and we strive... we strive... to understand.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
The Poisoned Pen is a nice independent locally owned bookstore in old town Scottsdale. The specialize in mysteries, but have a variety of authors come through.
If you are local, it's worth a visit.
Steve read a short passage from The Sword of the Lady from his Kindle, and answered a few questions from the crowd. There were only a dozen or so fans there, so I managed to get 5 books signed.
He was rather funny and engaging, it would be nice to get him as a Guest of Honor at one of the local cons. Last week at CopperCon would have been perfect, but the latest book was released the day AFTER the con.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
It was a very good speech. Not out of the ballpark, but definately someone you want batting for your team.
It was well delivered. It was snarky without being vitriolic. After the smear campaign of the past several days from the Dems and their media lapdogs they could have gone very negative. Instead they chose to use humor to give both Obama and the media some well deserved smackdown.
Palin has that Reagan touch of being able to be negative and funny at the same time, the Dems (especially after this weekend) have shown that they are only capable of slime.
I know it's not the function of the VP's speech, but I would have liked to see a bit more policy, especially energy policy, as that is Palin's strong suit. It's clear the delegates adore her. Some of them are probably thinking they have the ticket upside down.
Traditionally the VP speech is supposed to do 3 things:
1) Introduce yourself. Let the people, and the party know who you are.
2) Talk up your presidential candidate
3) Bash on the opposition.
Biden is in for trouble in the VP debate.
Monday, September 1, 2008
The main stream media is going to spin this as a ploy for Hillary Voters. This is only partially true. The democrats won't admit it, but they do pay "identity" politics. And nominating a female VP will pull some of those voters away from the Obama/Biden ticket. My guess is that most of those voters will be too young to remember Geraldine Ferraro.
The real reason to pick Palin is three fold.
1) She excites the base. The "clinging to their guns and God" crowd is absolutely giddy. The folks who were saying "McCain 08, because I love my country more than I hate John McCain" are doing the little happy dance. Palin gives the religious right someone to vote FOR, instead of just against the other guy. Same for the Gunnies. The pro 2nd amendment crowd does not trust McCain, and they never will. Palin goes Moose hunting for God's sake.
2) Executive experience. It would be a lot better if she were a 2nd term governor instead of a 1st termer. Regardless, she has more executive experience than McCain, Obama, and Biden combined.
3) Energy and the economy. This election is not going to turn on Iraq. It is going to turn on the economy and energy. Palin spearheaded the construction of the largest natural gas pipeline in the country. One that when finished will provide Billions of cubic feet of Natural gas. Palin comes from Alaska, and Alaskans overwhelmingly want to drill in the barren wasteland that is ANWR.
This country needs a comprehensive energy plan. That means:
Drill here, drill now.
More nuclear plants
Distributed Solar Voltaic
It also means cutting government spending. McCain has been a hawk on Pork and Earmarks, but Palin actually has a record of cutting government waste. Also of exposing government corruption. (Democratic AND Republican corruption)
4) Last, whether you like her or not, folks like Palin are the future of the GOP. I already hear people calling for a Palin/Jindal ticket in 2012. These folks are giddy. And again, they are doing the happy dance.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Go read it, it's well written, and well said indeed.
I read Atlas Shrugged in college. To this day I buy up used copies at book stores and give them away. This is not an altruistic act, it is entirely self-serving. If you don't understand, then you need to read some Ayn Rand.
Socialists see the world as a zero-sum game. If a socialist wants a bigger piece of the pie, he needs to steal it from someone else. It would never occur to him to bake his own, or to do some other useful labor in trade.
Capitalists understand that when two people voluntarily exchange goods, both win, and the pie gets bigger. If both sides did not come out ahead, the exchange would not occur.
Thus when Michelle Obama says, "someone is going to have to give up a piece of their pie so that someone else can have more." She is a socialist. And socialism my friends is Evil with a capital E.
It is evil because it devalues human endeavor.
It is evil because it devalues basic human rights.
It is evil because it stands in stark opposition to the human right to property, from which all other rights derive.
It stands against privacy, and ,as needs must, against the right to life itself.
As soon as someone says that someone else is more worthy of the fruits of your labor than you are, Then you know where they stand:
They would take your property. They would take your privacy (for how else would they know what to take). They would take your right to self defense (for after all you might resist). Indeed they would take your life itself should you stand against them.
And that, my friends, is why they are Evil.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
So today was the Physics Oral Comprehensive exam. *Bleah*
I was supposed to give a 20 minute presentation on the research I did last semester, then open it up for questions. The presentation is to 3 members of the faculty.
20 minute talk 2 hour block of time. - It's a TRAP. I know it's a trap. It has to be a trap right?
Oh boy. It was an ambush alright.
I give the presentation, we talk a bit. They ask a question about holography (WTF?)
Then it goes most seriously pear shaped.
Tell us about the uncertainty principle:
Ok, well the uncertainty principle can be formulated several ways, the traditional the one that is used is that the uncertainty in position of a particle and the uncertainty in it's momentum must be on the order of h-bar over two or greater.
White it on the board:
Mark writes delta x delta y ~ h-bar/2
What do the symbols mean.
But what is delta x?:
It's the uncertainty in the position. Look if you measure the location of something, you can only measure it with arbitrary precision, what the uncertainty principle says is that no mater precise you measure x, it is impossible to measure p to a precision greater than that given by this relation. We can term it in terms of energy and time, so say for example we know how much energy a process takes, like say an electronic transition in an atom, then we can determine how long the process takes.
No, go back to the first one, what is delta x?:
Sir, I have no clue what you are asking.
You know there is a way to prove that relationship?:
I'm sure there is.
We then discussed other variables.
We then had a fine performance of Mark forgetting the Schroedinger Equation, and trying to derive the kinetic energy of a particle in the forbidden region past a barrier. Oh, and doing simple derivatives wrong.
I think I gained bonus points by explaining that if you took the barrier to a finite width, then that was the criterion for quantum tunneling, I then pushed on and gave the example of real world tunneling. Take two copper wires, expose them to air, they are no longer copper, they have a surface of copper oxide (which is an insulator). Put them together and current flows anyway. The electrons tunnel right through the barrier.
They changed the subject to asking me how a micro-channel plate works. I explain how it is manufactured, and how it works like a photomultiplier tube. I go on to talk about the way that the MCP is used in night vision goggles, proximity focus etc.
Discuss the vacuum levels achieved in the devices. They don't believe me. We discuss how said levels are achieved, they still don't believe me.
We discuss the energy band diagram of GaAs doped with Zinc. I draw in the acceptor levels and the fermi level. Dr. Bauer asks why the doping is so heavy, I eplain that it increases the photoeficiency.
He objects that it increases the bandgap:
yes sir, it does. But it also makes more electrons available for transitions, thus increasing the photoeficiency.
He does not appear to believe me, even though this is a fundamental property of the Fermi Level and every single theory of how electrons behave in materials.
I say look, as soon as you excite an electron to the conduction band, there is enough voltage here that the work function really doesn't matter. Further, just as in your lab, the surface is Ceasiated to reduce the electron affinity...
Ja, Ja, but...Dr. Bauer says that what he really wants to know is, when an electron strikes the surface, how do the other electrons come out:
Um, you mean the spectrum?
Well, I don't know, I would presume that it is an Auger spectrum. (pronounced Au-je) Mark draws spectrum on board. Even if it was, there would be no way to measure it, as there is enough voltage here that the the original energy levels won't last long.
What do you know about Auger electrons:
Not much, I'm not an electron microscopist.
Auger Electrons are more than that:
Not Much. There is a strong spike at the original electron energy level, and a broad range of electrons of lower energy. The spike is from inelastic collisions and the rest is from multiple collisions.
Lets talk about statistical mechanics. What is the speed of the atoms in the atmosphere in this room:
*Blink* ... I have no idea...
If you had taken my 541 class you would know:
Well, in my class we spent most of our time doing Fermi and Bose-Einstein statistics.
I'm not used to thinking about large things like molecules.
Well, I'm used to dealing with photons and electrons, so yeah, molecules are large.
Do you know the speed of sound:
Think pause. You're going to hate this but, a bit over 1000 feet per second. At standard temperature and pressure. Mark waits while the board converts feet to meters in their heads. They say close enough.
I ask, did you say velocity or average velocity?
Very good. Well how would you find out?:
Well I would have to know the partition function.
Do you know kT at room temperature:
Sure it's 30 milli-electon volts... pause.. oh, well average energy is 3/2 kT. So Energy is 1/2 m v squared. So I can find it, I would need to know the mass of Nitrogen though. *I look around the room, no periodic table* uh oh.
Did I mention it's a trap?
We, go ahead and draw the periodic table:
*blink* *incredulous stare*
Oh just the first three rows:
Mark starts drawing, they comment it's a little odd, I say I left out the D-series and the actinides and lanthanides, I finally erase it and add a big gap for the D-series so that it looks more normal, I write in H, He, Li. I say Carbon has 4 P-shell electrons so it has to go here.
you put carbon in the wrong place:
What, oh, No carbon has four valance electrons, not P-shell electrons so it goes here, silicon goes here. I start drawing in roman numerals above the columns.
No go back and put in nitrogen:
I add nitrogen oxygen, fluorine. Start trying to figure out where neon goes.
no go back, what is the mass of nitrogen:
Well, Carbon is 12, so Nitrogen has to be 14. Call it one more proton and one more neutron, you can't do that in this part of the table. *points to lower portion* but up here it's safe enough to just figure one each.
That's why we asked:
Um, right. So Nitrogen is diatomic so N2 is 28 grams per Mol.
How much is that:
I write 28/6.022 x10^23.
So, to solve this I'd have to convert electron-volts to Joules, convert this to kilograms.
Never mind, do you know the Fermi energy of electrons in Copper:
*blink* Measured from the vacumm level?
No the Fermi energy:
Yes, but where are you measureing from? *Mark draws energy diagram on board. From here or here?
It's 7ev. Do you know how fast that is:
It's roughly a theth the speed of light.
Why do you say that?
Well I seem to recall that currents flow at about that velocity.
Well, if room temp is 35 milli-ev, then you can see it's rather fast:
They say something noncomitical about converting the energy to that of a photon:
Mark writes 1240 ev.nm on the board. This is one of my favorite numbers. Divide by 7 so. Call it roughly 180 nanometers. (I am not about to do long division on the board)
Pretty much at that point the ordeal ends as we have run out the clock.
BTW, did I mention, "It's a TRAP"
Friday, August 15, 2008
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Words and Music © 2003 Mark E. Horning Rev. 11-06-04
Strum, reasonably fast, 4/4 Time, Capo 2
Did you hear they're building spaceships, in the California sun?
Reliable, and cheap to build, the race is all but won.
The doubters - they can stay behind, their day is all but done,
The rest of us are going to the stars.
They built her as a secret, but I know they built her well,
and have laid up carbon fiber in a strong epoxy shell.
Aluminum and fiberglass make her light enough to sail,
and she rides a hybrid rocket with no turbo-pumps to fail.
Oh she's built by Scaled Composites, and good old Burt Rutan,
and if anyone can do it, I know that those folks can.
And they built her under budget, with no taxpayer funds.
The first truly private spacecraft, so they call her Space Ship One.
High above the desert, at Edwards AFB,
The X-15 broke through the sky, the black of space to see.
And 40 odd years later, in those self-same very skies,
A rocket-powered ship will roar, as through the sky she flies.
A hundred years since Kitty Hawk,
And Will and Orville Wright.
She's the greatest aviation jewel,
in a century of Flight.
Well I know she won't make orbit, but she's over half way there.
And once you are in orbit, you're halfway to anywhere.
Give them another decade; they'll build cities on the moon.
The future starts tomorrow. Make way for Space Ship Two!
Pack your bags; we're going to the stars.
Saturday, August 9, 2008
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Watch this space, I'll post a link.
Linky to Final Paper
Should be working now. FireFTP to the rescue.
Another reason why FireFox rocks.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
This is the one that is always requested as "The Weasel Song"
When Eagles Fall
Music and Lyrics © 2003 Mark E. Horning
Columbia has fallen, from a brilliant azure sky
and left a wake of smoke and flame, thirty-eight miles high,
and seven of our very best, are gone forevermore,
flesh and steel paid the supreme price to explore
Once again we'll turn away from that brilliant, starry road,
cast our eyes down from the sky to our earth and mud abode,
once again clip eaglet's wings, silence rockets roar,
yet in all my Earthbound years, I've never seen a weasel soar.
It happened many years ago, back when Challenger was lost.
And seven other astronauts paid that final cost.
And certainly we stumbled, perhaps we even fell,
for more than lives were lost that day, some dreams were lost as well.
SO, once again we'll turn away from that brilliant, starry road,
cast our eyes down from the sky to our earth and mud abode,
once again clip eaglet's wings, silence rockets roar,
yet in all my Earthbound years, I've never seen a weasel soar.
In each of man's endeavors, there's some risk and some reward
And those who've strived have often died, as our history records
And the high frontier is calling, but we all remember when
It took us two whole years before we'd rise to try again.
Do not turn away again from that brilliant, starry road,
Or cast your eyes down from the sky to this earth and mud abode,
Do not clip the eaglet's wings, or silence rockets roar,
for in all your Earthbound years, you'll never see a weasel soar.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
The proprietor of A. E. Isherman's Fine Arms and Armor knew them of old and greeted them beaming under the swinging sigh -- THE RIGHT TO BUY WEAPONS IS THE RIGHT TO BE FREE. (Page 231)
If you don't know why that's funny, you've neglected the classics.
Monday, July 14, 2008
A taste of the upcoming album:
Countdown Towards Tomorrow
Music and lyrics © Mark E. Horning 23 July 2004 4/4 time [5:36]
There's 5 seconds left, 'till we rocket toward tomorrow.
4 seconds left and this bird is set to soar
3 seconds left, the runway's clear before us.
2 seconds, 1 second, hear those engines' roar.
Well, I'm sitin' in the left hand seat, with a punk kid in the right
Who's never seen a good man die when a rocket fails in flight
He thinks he is the hottest thing, that's ever learned to fly
But I remember when I rode a missile through the sky.
But I guess I can not fault him, or heap on too much scorn.
We started flying rocket-planes before he was born.
And there's 5...
We go over the checklist, and the damn kid gets it right.
I'm feeling a bit generous, so I let him hit Ignite.
The folks on orbit need all of the supplies we provide,
But we pause for several seconds 'till I ram the throttles wide.
We’ve little time for speeches or traditions anymore
But the 5 second countdown honors those who went before.
We Count 5...
Bring her down from orbit, line her up and land her clean
Just another space flight and everything's routine.
Taxi to the fuel farm; fill her up with JP-8
Then re-fill the LOX tanks; check the oil while you wait.
Grab a cup of coffee, and a sandwich while you can
We've only got an hour, till we fly to space again.
When there'll be 5...
Well it isn't how it used to be, back in the days of old
When space was an adventure, and a wonder to behold
We've given up the romance, and we did it by design
the corporation's main concern must be bottom line
The benefits are lousy, we don't make what we're worth.
But still I've got the greatest job, on, or off, the Earth
And there's 5...
Yes there's 5...
Sunday, July 13, 2008
CopperCon 28 regretfully announces that our Filk GoH, Tom Smith is under Rehab for a surgically re-attached ligament in his leg. He will not be coming. I ask everyone to come and support the Con. There will be many 50- minute concerts and a wonderful Filk Circle and Filk Panels plus all of the other CopperCon SF activities.
Gary L. Swaty
Chairman of CopperCon 28
Saturday, July 5, 2008
I want the same thing in a firearm that I want in an automobile: control, performance, and ergonomics. I want a car with rear-wheel drive, manual clutch, and a floor shifter. Yes, it takes a bit more skill to use, but the end experience is far more satisfying than putting some front wheel drive import into "Drive", hitting the accerator and waiting for it to do something.
Similarly, I want a handgun with a single action trigger and manual thumb safety. That's why a 1911 will always be a better handgun than a Glock. It does what you tell it to, it points better, the trigger is MUCH better, and it does exactly what you tell it to.
A 1911 is like a Ford Mustang with a stick, if you actually like cars, it will always be better than a Civic.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Come on by and support a good cause.
Sunday, June 1, 2008
Interesting, but a little long in that it could have been edited a bit and not lost anything. Varley has a seriously odd sense of humor:
Brenda sat up, wide-eyed. "You're a Heinleiner!" she said.
It was MacDonald's turn to shrug. "I don't attend services, but I agree with a lot of what they say."
I didn't know we had services. Then again, maybe I wouldn't want to drink the soup. In all seriousness, Red Lightning is more tightly written. Actually Red Lightning reads a lot like a Heinlein Juvenile, but with more sex.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Best line of the night: when you make a program that is just big enough to prevent people from falling through the cracks, the cracks get bigger and trap more people.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Monday, May 19, 2008
Only one problem, I was admitted to the Ph.D. program over winter break, so I have only done one research rotation. Apparently this has upset their standard schedule. So, now I either have to expand my single paper or remind them that, no, I wasn't admitted to the piled higher and deeper program until winter.
Proof that one can be brilliant in ones chosen field, but have no clue when it comes to running a program.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
We managed to get decent recordings of most songs, but we need to redo the following:
Under Purple Fractal Trees
The Right Question
Cannon of the Lord
We do have a good copy of Jen singing "Lightyears up the line" so if I can get permissions for that I might swap it for Cannon.
We also need to do a lot of mixing.
Monday, May 5, 2008
the Guild D-4-12 is wearing new Martin silk & steels
the Larrivee D-03R-12 is wearing new Martin posphor bronze lights.
The Larrivee OM-o3RE now has Marin Marquis Phosphor bronze. The Marquis are silk wrapped at the base. I think they sound a bit more muted. Not certain.
Anyone else use the Marquis?
Sunday, May 4, 2008
Lots of people were buying. I could practically hear someone on horseback yelling "The Democrats are coming, the Democrats are coming." One vendor had primers, for reasonable $22-25 prices. Reasonable being defined as better than any of the local shops at any rate.
Picked up a nice old charter Bulldog for 3 bills. it's the old style, with the taper barrel. Not sure of the age, but Charter has been in and out of business 3-4 times since then.
I ended up working on my term paper all day long. It's mostly finished. Hopefully I can finish it off tomorrow, and that's it for the semester.
Damn but it takes a long time to get a Ph.D 6 units at a time.
Friday, May 2, 2008
Monday, April 28, 2008
Friday, April 25, 2008
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
LepreCon is coming up. I will have a concert slot. Actually, I will have two concert slots. The intent of having two concerts is to provide two opportunities to get a high quality recording. Said recordings to become a "live from LepreCon" album.
Originally I had planed to follow the advice of a good friend who told me, "The theme of your first album is 'hey I have an album'". Thus I had planned to put together all of my eclectic songs into one steaming pile of folk music and call it "Aggressively Bardic". After sorting songs into two piles, the "space" stuff and the "other" stuff, I realized that I didn't quite have enough songs for the Bardic album. (yet)
That means it's going to be the Space album.
Here is the tentative set list:
Countdown towards Tomorrow
When Eagles Fall
Space Ship One
Spaceflight in Mojave
The Right Question
Path of Sorrows
Honest Al's Used Rocket Lot
Don’t Need a Home
Guideposts in the Sky
Cannon of the LORD
Children of the Lightning
The Earth is Home no More
Under Purple Fractal Trees
A Libertarian Discourse regarding the Utilitarian Justification of increased Space Flight
That's 16 songs, for a full hour of music.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Rocket Song is the name of one of my filk songs, inspired by a trip out to Edwards AFB to see the shuttle land back in the early 1990s.
Can you hear the rockets singing in the dawn?
This first post shall be as much a placeholder as anything else. The blog itself shall be dedicated to guns, guitars, filk music and whatever else strikes my fancy.