Monday, September 27, 2010

Mourning in America

Someone over on the Republican side just earned his November bonus.

A bit of a history lesson, back in 1984 the Reagan campaign ran an add entitled "Morning in America". Actually it was titled "Prouder, Stronger, Better", but nobody remembers that. This advert, along with the "Bear in the Woods" add cemented the largest landslide victory since Nixon beat McGovern.

Well some folks still remember that add, and they don't much like the current President, or his policies.

Powerful stuff.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Lookin' like a nail

While I am not a big C&W fan, this guy has that sort of Charlie Daniels Band vibe I rather like.


About that new Republican "Pledge"

Picking between the R’s and D’s on fiscal responsibility is like picking between two drunks to drive the car.

One guy sideswipes a bridge abutment so you take the keys away and give it to the other guy who promptly drives into an oak tree. Then the first guy says "hey I’ve sobered up and found religion and am attending AA" so you give him the keys, even though we all know he’s got a flask in his hip pocket.

Seriously. That's the choice.

Let me make this as clear as I can:

The problem is the spending. It’s not earmarks, it’s spending.

the R’s missed a golden opportunity to be really bold and capture the attention of the American people. They could have proposed an actual Constitutional Amendment requiring a balanced budget. Regardless of whether they could have gotten it through the Senate (never happen) just bringing it to a vote would be a big bold statement that said “We are fiscally responsible and mean it this time”.

Or how about we eliminate the Dept. of Education which has never educated a single child.

Slash the Dept. of Agriculture which has more government employees than the US of A has Farmers.

Eliminate HUD.

Combine the DOE with the NRC and eliminate half the positions.

Cut every other .gov agency by 20 %.

Hey, I'm a libertarian, I'm just getting started. But no, let's give the keys back to the guy with the flask.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

On the O'Donnell Primary Victory

The Tea Party folks are acing more libertarian all the time. It appears they nominated a candidate who appears utterly unable to win over a shoe in for the Delaware Senate slot.

Why would they do that?

Because frankly, they are tired of voting for The Lesser of Two Democrats.

This is a clear case of the primary voters saying “No more Olympia Snows”. General election voters would have easily elected Castle. Primary voters on the other hand recognized Castle as someone who would stab them in the back on important issues.

Even if O'Donnell looses, the fiscal conservatives win, because that means that Castle did not get the seat, and the republican establishment is on notice that they need to nominate fiscal conservatives if they want to party folks to actually vote for them.

I predict that this time around thee Republicans will easily retake the House of Representatives, but will fall 2-3 seats short of taking the Senate. After that, I fully expect them to be back to their spendthrift ways, and the pendulum to swing back the other way in 2012.

If and only if they can actually get a handle on Federal spending will the voters reward them in 2012. This is why some of the folks winning primaries (e.g. O'Donnell) are somewhat “kooky”, right now the primary voters are acting like “single issue” voters.

Government spending is that issue, and it does not matter if someone has rather odd Christian viewpoints or dances skyclad in the woods about a copy of Great Expectations. Single issue: Stop the damn spending.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Amazing Grass

No not that kind of grass you damn hippie.

This kind of grass, as in Bermuda grass. I do this every once in a while for the kids. Jen helped make part of this as well.

It's kind of like a hedge maze, only, well...

Picture only shows about 1/2 of the maze actually.

Monday, September 6, 2010

I call this one Foldey

Harvey Leach, California Luthier kindly allowed me to borrow a VAOM-04 Voyage-Air guitar for the long weekend.

Harv (or as I like to call him Inlay Dancing God) invented the Voyage-Air folding neck guitar 10 years or so ago, and I remember reading about it on R.M.M.G.A back in the day when people hung out on Usenet instead of on internet Forums.

The Voyage-Air is a very cool concept. It involves a stout internal hinge that allows you to fold the neck of the guitar, thus allowing you to fit a full-size guitar into a backpack sized instrument.
Lots more info here:

The -04 series instruments have a solid spruce top and laminate back and sides, which IMHO is a pretty good combination for a travel instrument, as it adds a level of durability over an all solid box.

Initial thoughts upon inspection.

Folding guitars are cool. The hinge mechanism is ingenious. Neck angle, playability, and action are very good. When you realize that the neck join is the most important part of all of these things it's simply outstanding.

I like the neck feel. Feels like a slightly chunkier Tacoma neck, or maybe a satin finished Larrivee. The neck has a very thin, matte finish on it which is a good thing for moving up and down the neck.

Intonation is frankly outstanding, and was spot on to the 14th fret for most strings, and a couple of cents off for the A string. (odd since normally the B and high E go sharp if any)

Part of the way the guitar achieves this is via the use of a zero fret and captive nut. A zero fret allows for a nice low action without having to tweak the nut. It's also a good thing for playing lead guitar as your open strings technically are no longer "open" as they are actually fretted.

Since I was going to CopperCon I took the Voyage-Air with me. After all who better than a bunch of Sci-Fi fans to appreciate a folding guitar.

I showed the instrument to a lot of folks, introducing it either as Foldey (my wife's nickname), or The Origami Guitar (mine), and everyone thought it was the neatest thing since sliced bread and nuclear weapons. I handed out several cards for Harvey Leach which is sort of the point of this exercise.

The real question though is: how does it sound?

It sounds good, but not great. It sounds much better than my cheap plywood sacrificial instrument I bought to tempt the United Airline Gods, but can't hold a candle to my Larrivee OM-03R. Now in fairness, it really shouldn't be expected to, after all it's a solid top, not all solid.

Lightweight. Even in the case people were shocked at how little it weighed.
Counts as a carry-on for most airliners. You will have to gate check on the little commuter birds.
High playability marks.
Great padding on the backpack-carrier. Extremely comfortable.

My other guitars sound a bit better for the type of music I play.
Constant retuning. You are supposed to slack the strings before folding (I went down about a full step). That means every time you take it out of the case you have to re-tune. At one point I carried the guitar to a different building in my hand (and the case in another) so I wouldn't have to re-tune.
Lots of padding on the backpack carrier straps makes it hard to sling a book bag over your shoulder.

One very cool thing is that the Voyage-Air is available in multiple configurations, from all laminate to all solid, to a fully custom Harvey Leach creation.

Would I buy one?

At this point in my life, no. It's an awesome instrument for a college student or someone who travels a lot by aircraft and wants/needs to take a full sized instrument with them. At this point I'd rather take a traditional guitar and not deal with the tuning hassles. The solid top/lam sides is the sweet point on the pricing scale, once you get up to the all solid guitars you are talking some real money (around a grand and a half). Since you can buy some outstanding all solid guitars these days for under a grand from Larrivee, Breedlove, and even Martin the all solid Voyage-Air would be a hard sell to me.

What would convince me to buy one?

I think a 00 size rather than the 000/OM size would be pretty compelling (especially a deep-body (4 -4.5") 00. Even folded and stowed the 000/Om size is a reasonably large package. I'd also like to see a cedar top to get the most out of a solid top/ laminate sides combo.

Later this week I shall send Foldey off to the next person on the great 2010 Voyage-Air travel/trial list. I expect that person shall enjoy it as well. Though at this point I personally wouldn't buy one, it was nonetheless a neat experience.

I have been told that the instruction to "detune before folding" in the instructions was added at the behest of the lawyers, and is not actually required for the happiness and well being of the guitar. That makes the Voyage-Air quite a bit more attractive. It's also the sort of thing that makes one sympathetic to Dick the Butcher.

More CopperCon Thoughts

This is a seriously small convention. There are only 5 meeting rooms, and one of them is a bit off the beaten path. They are making good use of the convention space that they have, so that's good.

Pretty small attendance too. I think only about a dozen folks showed up to my concert, and I have yet to see more than 20 folks at a panel, and that was the best attended one.

On the other hand, this is a pretty great hotel from my perspective. Good blackout curtains so the room gets nice and dark. It's a bit spread out, but it's been here long enough that there are plenty of mature shade trees so it's not too bad. Lots of parking.

Parking is FREE (hint for the folks in LA and SD this is important)

Place definately has that " we were a nice place in the 60's and 70's but then the freeway passed us by". The location is on Main/Apache so this did used to be Us-60 until the freeway bypass in the 80's. Free breakfast if utterly uninspiring. Best thing from the kid's perspective is that the swimming pool is open 24 hrs. I appreciate that. The pool is sufficiently far from the rooms that the noise won't bother folsk so why not keep it open 24/7?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

And the 2010 Campbell ...

Hail Seanan, Queen of the Poison Frogs. Hail

I'm very pleased to note that my friend Seanan has won the 2010 Campbell Award for best new Writer

2010 Hugo Award Winners (and Campbell here)

Hail Seanan, oh great and powerful Queen of the Poison Frogs.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

CopperCon - Saturday

First real day of the Con. I had a panel scheduled for 0900. As expected not too many folks showed up.

Small convention in general. Small dealers' room, although there is one vendor of really nifty blown glass items. Definitely has "small con" vibe, although they are using their convention space pretty effectively.

Not even certain there is a separate art show. There is some art in the corner of the dealers' room, but currently no bid sheets.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Of Fish and Beacons

Today, I'm going to speak from the heart.
You, turn of the teleprompter.
No seriously, turn it off, I'm not going to use it today.

(I'm writing this free-form, no editing, other than fixing the spelling)
(no I'm not certain why today's rant turned into a political speech)

Let's get back to basics.

If you had to pick one single principle upon which this nation was founded, it would be the principle of self determination. A nation, born in blood and fire, fought a revolutionary war for this singular principle. The inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of property is fundamentally about the right of people to determine their own destiny. Sure, Jefferson wrote pursuit of happiness, but Locke and others from whom Jefferson cribbed spoke of property.

And not just a right of self determination, but an inalienable one. Whether one believes as the Christian Madison did that this right is a result of God's creation of man, or one believes as the Deist Jefferson did that it is simply a natural part of man's existence, or you conduct a rational basis as does the Militant Atheist who has perhaps read one too many treatises by Ayn Rand, the result is the same. A fundamental, inalienable right of self determination.

This singular principle is the one that has led this nation to greatness. It is this principle that caused Ronald Reagan to refer to these United States as a "shining beacon upon the hill". A beacon because it is a shining example to others, not an invitation to take the shininess part it out and redistribute it to the less-shiny.

Importantly, it is a path, not a destination. You have the right to try, but you also have the right to fail along the way. And just as importantly, if you do fail, the right to get up, dust yourself off, and try again.

Aye, we have stumbled along the way. That principle conveniently didn't apply to darker skinned folk in half the country at the founding. We solved that with another bloody war (the bloodiest in our history). But here is the important part, so important that the government education system goes to great lengths to hide it. While it is true that many in the North saw that war as a principled war to bring self determination to the slaves, almost everyone fighting on the other side saw it as defending their own right of self determination and self government.
After all, hardly anybody down there actually owned any slaves; that was a rich land-owner's pastime. Then as now, the rich could be a convenient excuse.

We stumbled again in WWII when we rounded up Americans and placed them in camps due to their ethnicity and descent. And though we didn't learn directly from that experience, Eichman and his buddies showed the entire world where that path leads.

But perhaps our greatest stumble along the path towards greatness was the implementation of the "Great Society" after the assassination of J.F.K.

Where the liberal sees giving people who are down and out a helping hand, the Libertarian sees people enslaved by a culture of dependency.

Consider the well trod parable of teaching a man to fish:

Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day.
Teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.

-What happens though, when you give a man a fish, and tell him that if he goes fishing you are going to take the fish away from him?

-What happens when you incentivize him to not provide for himself and his family?

-What happens when you use government policy to make it materially harder for him to even buy the tools to go fishing?

Because that is what we have done with the entitlements and entitlement mentality of Johnson's great society.

What you have done, is robbed him of his self determination, and of his pride and of his honor.

It is a fundamental law of nature that you cannot keep people from falling through the cracks using the force of government because every time you do that you make the cracks bigger and trap more people. That means that government is not the solution. The government is never the solution. The solution is to pave over the cracks. If someone needs a hand, you give them a hand up, not a handout, and under no circumstances whatsoever should you let the government ever be involved.

That means that the liberals in congress and holding the presidency must be fought tooth and nail and inch by inch. Not just no, but Hell NO! Because every single item on their agenda is the antithesis of self determination. It's not about leading by example and inspiring others to follow, but about spreading the shiny, and making the whole world a dimmer place as a result.

At some point you have to draw a line in the sand and say, no more, not a mile, not a yard, not an inch. Ask any Army infantryman and they will tell you that when you are pressed you win by taking up a defensive position and letting the enemy throw themselves against your
fortifications until they are weakened to the point where you attack their heart with maneuver and determination. Ask a Marine rifleman and they will tell you the same thing. Heck, ask any Marine, as we all know that every Marine is a riflemen first.

When pressed you fall back, regroup, then attack. And now is our time to attack. Now is the time to say: No more government programs that only enslave the people in a culture of dependency. No more government programs that only serve the interests of fat-cat bureaucrats. No more
government bailouts of failed policies. No more unconstitutional government mandates. No more.

It is time to once again elevate that principle that Jefferson so proudly elevated above all others as the most righteous reason to fight oppression in his time. It is time to once again say that
self-determination is the fundamental right, and that allowing people to pursue their own destiny, and succeed or fail on their own merits, is not only the right thing to do, but the only way out of the economic malaise we have found ourselves in.

It is time. Time to make this nation great again, not only as a shining beacon to others, but as a true land of opportunity for those already here.

Thank you, and good night.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Dove season

Today is the opening day of dove season when millions of people take out their shotgun they have not fired in over a year and attempt to engage small feathered targets with built in air-to-ground radar and ballistic armor under their feathers.

Sunrise was at 0600, I had my limit by 0645.

I'd call that a good hunt.

Got my first white-wing ever this morning as well.

Happy dove season everyone.