Showing posts with label Entropy enhancement. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Entropy enhancement. Show all posts

Jul 15, 2014

James. Clean Up Your Room RIGHT NOW

.. .and do a good job!

The threatened punishment for outright disobedience or a slap-dash effort was severe and credible.

"Or I won't buy bananas this week. "

(Can nine-year-olds today imagine a time when a banana was a special luxury? Of course not. It would come as a shock even to their parents that once upon a time all the United Fruit Company ships were commandeered by Roosevelt to carry war stuff to Churchill and Stalin.   The bananas were left to rot in the jungles, and the supply didn't become dependable until a couple years after the war.)

So I cleaned my room. In the process came joy. Under a  big pile of something in the closet I found my almost-new first baseman's glove, a treasure lost weeks before.

That didn't change my casual attitude toward housekeeping, but it implanted a valuable lesson. When you notice you've lost a few important things, start tidying your place.

Like yesterday. I noticed I was missing my Buck 501, a favorite little flashlight, the check book, and the old "Eversharp" pencil which, somehow, seems to improve my spelling.  (I do not fully reject either animism or a more generalized magic. That pencil harbors a spirit.)

I recalled the results of Mom's banana threat and set out to act like a normal, responsible adult human being. An hour or so later these things were neat and well-organized: The truck cab. A butt  pack, nerdy looking but useful as a go bag. The computer bag. The hard-side brief case. Two drawers.  All was found, and as a bonus the Ruger RST4 is back where it belongs, locked in the everyday van in case of an irresistible urge to do a little plinking on my way home from town.

This is the place where a guy should specify the moral of his story, which I suppose is "a place for everything and everything in its place, every hour of every day."

But screw it. Compulsiveness is for nerds who think butt packs look cool.

Oct 13, 2013

Enduring the gun show loophole

It's hard to be bored at a gun show. but we're managing it. Maybe the fine weather is keeping people outdoors. Maybe the promoter didn't promote well. Maybe folks already have all the guns they want.

Dunno, but my entire gross proceeds so far are represented by a single-action .22 from Germany -- better than an RG but a couple of parsecs shy of a Colt.

(Pretty enough and only forty-five bucks because it wouldn't stay cocked and the cylinder wouldn't rotate. Putting the trigger spring back where it belonged fixed the cock problem, and a new hand spring will put the rest in order. It will still be a POS, but a functional POS, and for the price that's about all a guy can ask. I see it living in an old sock under a front seat, like a spare Linus blankie.)


My co-conspirators at our three tables had just about the same level of excitement. Our traffic averaged four or five tire-kickers an hour, but Sundays are usually slower so perhaps we won't have to keep up the frenetic pace today.

The real disappointment is the dearth of anything very interesting. A guy gets tired of being surrounded by professional FFLs trying to move Glockszenklones and plastic assault rifles all dolled up in pretty pastels.

And I'm really getting tired of my junk boxes. I just threw a bunch of plastic grocery bags in the van. They'll rest beside the over-flowing totes with a notice that you can fill one up for, I dunno, ten bucks, maybe five, certainly less in the final hour. Or maybe some other hobbyist is as bored with his miscellaneous goodies as I am. We could exchange stuff on a pound-for-pound basis.


I knew this government shutdown would lead to tragic times.

Oct 9, 2013

Jim Chee, policy analyst

You don't go to Tony Hillerman's Sgt. Jim Chee for your political insights, at least not on purpose. So it's fun when you just happen to run across one.

Jim is working on a homicide on the Navajo reservation. The FBI is claiming jurisdiction and getting in the way of honest police work. He explains it as a life lesson to his young and lovely deputy, Ms. Bernadette Manuelito:

"It is a political law. Like physics. ... When a federal agency gets into something, the number of tax-paid people at work multiplies itself by five, raw number of hours taken to get it done multiplies by ten, and the chances of a successful conclusion must be divided by three."

Sep 9, 2013

Say, Tipper, is that the ice man I hear coming?

Or, There Goes the Northwest Passage Again as the Arctic freezes over in blatant defiance of the wishes of former Vice President Gore and clueless climate alarmists everywhere.

The "Mail" -- a British tab -- gets a big laugh from printing that it's stogy competitor, the BBC, carried reports that the Arctic Ocean would be ice free by the summer of 2013.

This is all very satisfying, but it plays havoc with my water ski franchise on Point Barrow. Besides, it means New York City will continue to exist.

Aug 23, 2013

The Bastard King of Handguns*

It was time for a chore, pawing through the parts inventory of a deceased friend. Little on the planet will humiliate a man more. You amble through life thinking you're a pretty savvy firearms enthusiast. Then you start examining box after box and find you can confidently identify perhaps one part in 100. Toward the end you babble about whether this gizmo is for a Daisy Red Ryder or a Holland and Holland .577 Nitro Express.

I did okay on the .45 ACP stuff and actually carried away two projects. One is simple enough, a small tray of  parts which I'll try to sell for the family. The other may constitute a career.

It appeared to be about three-fourths of an AMT-frame-based  Colt Commander clone. I brought it home half-minded to try to sell it with the other parts, half-inclined to finish it up and buy it myself. That's still the unsettled state of my ambition, but the build is looking iffier and iffier.

The new aluminum frame is cut for a 4 1/4-inch barrel. The slide is a butchered reblue of  an unmarked something for a 4 and 1/4 inch barrel. Among other issues, the slide safety cut is 1/8-inch to far aft, meaning the safety can be engaged only with the gun out of battery that much. Not to mention the the barrel is .38 Super and the slide .45.

If I decide to take on the project, I'll report the geekery with photos -- not in hopes of  acquiring your admiration, merely to illustrate that there are still men who like to audition for the role of Sisyphus.


Advertisement:   If any blog buddies are interested, the parts box holds a few GI:

triggers ... recoil spring plugs ... thumb safeties ... grip safeties ... and new  Coltish checkered walnut grip panels.  Also that barrel marked "Colt  .38 Super Match" looking lightly used.

Pricing: Check Brownell's. Knock off 40 per cent. Add about $5 for the USPS. Pay by  personal check made out to the family member, not me. Email me at  --   alongfordmick aht yahoo daught kahm.


*Referring only to the Commanderish project, not the sainted JMB's concept and execution of the world's only really necessary center-fire handgun.

Feb 10, 2013

Storm Nemo and the Runway Set

A diminutive and lovely American woman in a smart Connecticut home sat out Nemo with her elderly parents. Among other things she waded through deep snow to find and clear furnace vents; she used a pole to shake snow from her service electrical lines and nearby trees.

I wasn't there, more's the pity, but there's no doubt in my mind that she needed no last-minute dash for milk and toilet paper, meaning she was no candidate for a dramatic feature story on the horrors of being  suddenly trapped in her car in a storm well-advertised for days.

With preparations made and immediately necessary actions taken, she seemed to  enjoy her little break from the outside world, laughing and joking her way through white Armageddon, warm, secure, properly fed and I confidently guess, properly wined. After all, she bears an honest Irish surname.

Meanwhile, a million less sentient northeasterners suffered --  out of Perrier, down to the last pound of lox, the electric teevee won't work, that sort of deprivation. Never mind the frantically punched wireless devices seeking word on how much they might get from FEMA as a result of living in a place where it snowed.

Still,  the Irish girl and her like represent a useful cadre of citizens, people with at least a modest ability to see more than two commercials ahead and plan for survival in comfort when nature does what it routinely does.  Their existence suggests a remaining hope for America, even in the age of Mommy Dotguv on whom all  happiness depends. (Please, Your Ineptness, make the Republicans stop causing blizzards.)  It is a cozy thought, so you shouldn't screw it up by reading the news.


At New York's Fashion Week, women tottered on 4-inch heels through the snow to get to the tents to see designers' newest collections.

Jun 6, 2012

Dagnabbit it all anyhow

With the libertarian roof job all but done, I had planned to spend the afternoon playing in the reloading shack -- maybe cooking up a new .45 ACP load l've been thinking about.

Still up on the rooftop,  on my way to the ladder, I casually wiggled the chimney. It wiggled a little too much. With a good heave-ho, it wiggled right in two.

Already the materials are laid out for what could be a complete replacement from the stove on up. I am unhappy. I am not going to start right away. I am going to lie down and read a book and pout myself into a nap.

Apr 19, 2012

Working at the outermost boundaries of human thought...

I first heard that phrase decades ago from the lips of Kingman Brewster, president of  Yale. I was a a working-stiff reporter, and Connecticut Bureau Chief John Armstrong sent me over to interview him about a Yale tuition increase.

The charming Dr. Brewster explained that the new and complicated tuition structure would actually save money for the students even as it fattened Yale coffers.*  Besides, even if it didn't, it was a small price for student access to professors "working at the outermost boundaries of human thought."

I filed a report including but short-shrifting that bit of puffery and concentrated on trying to explain what the incredibly dense set of new tuition rules would actually mean to Yalies. But I never forgot about all that ivory tower outermosting, and I have since heard it repeated verbatim by academic after academic -- usually when they were in their fund-raising mode.


Now it is quite a long way in both time and space from Brewster-at-Yale to little Buena Vista college down in Storm Lake where a Ph.D'ed lady decided to outermost think about overdosing her students with coffee.

The study began Monday afternoon and after a couple of hours, the students began showing the effects of excessive caffeine ingestion and were taken to Buena Vista Regional Medical Center in Storm Lake. Medical authorities estimate the students ingested about 6,000 milligrams of caffeine.

A dose becomes a threat of  (sic) body functions at about 6,200 milligrams. The students remain hospitalized for observation. University Dean of Students Doctor Meg McKeon, in a University-wide e-mail, said the administration is very concerned and is conducting an investigation.

I don't usually think in milligrams, so I looked it up on the internet. The caffeine content of a cup of coffee varies from roughly 95mg to 200mg. The high-end concentration seems to be about what speed freaks use when they can't get hold of their meth contact.

So, Ms. Professor fed the kids the equivalent of some 30 cups of high-test Arbuckles in about two hours? Enough to send them to the emergency room.

Pardon me for suggesting that the outermost limits of common sense were violated. And for suggesting that, in addition to the suspension, this outermost thinker ought to be kicked soundly and repeatedly in her outermost ass.


*Dr. Brewster, needless to say, was a Keynesian.

Feb 29, 2012

The case of the runaway hoplophobes

"Those guns are scary, aren't they, Fauntleroy? We must  run and hide."

Thus spake one Iowa Democrat house member to another this morning, whereupon all 40 Democrats skeddaddled rather than debate reasonable gun control. At this writing they're still missing,  and the 60 Republicans down there are sitting around, twiddling their thumbs.

At issue are one bill and one resolution scheduled for consideration today. The latter would begin the process of amending the state Constitution to guarantee certain firearms rights.

The bill is a stand-your-ground measure permitting the citizen to defend himself anywhere and remove our current "duty to retreat."

May I say a word or two directly to my Democrat friends? Thank you.

"Guys and gals, you weren't elected to pitch hissy fits and hit the mattresses. You're being paid to debate and vote, even on things which require a change of your dainty linen. This point may not be lost on your constituents on a Tuesday about eight months from now."


My primary reaction, however, is an uncontrollable giggle. Life in the political monkey house, etc.

Oct 28, 2011

ALERT! Emergency Grips Nation; Senators Vow Action

The Big 12 crisis escalated sharply this week when Louisvile (a Kentucky school of sorts) became suspected of sabotaging University of West Virginia plans to join the conference.  It quickly became a matter of vital national interest .

Oct 23, 2011

The lesson of the standing willow

When a comely lady  distracts you as you install a fresh chain on your Stihl, you might might put it on backwards. You will discover this when you try to fell the middling-size willow that's leaning too far over your driveway.

No, moving to the other side of the tree is not a solution.

Jul 7, 2011

Into the lutefisk jungle

I face the future with fear, not for Camp J which will be under the care of an armed house-sitter whose only failings are a short temper, a surly disposition, and a lamentable territoriality. It's the best I could do for next week's short venture into the jungle of government-free Minnesota.

As always, I prepare for the northern safari with extreme care. Sidearm; check. Another sidearm; check. Body armor; check. Case of survival food; check.  Most importantly,  the precautions include 16-ounce disposable cups in the face of locked-down public pissoirs.


My intel always includes poring over the Star-Tribune, Minnesota's second most important newspaper*,  for the latest danger, and I discover my peril if some happenstance should require emergency admittance to a geriatric facility.

Under a headline shouting, "Care for elderly, disabled starting to show strain," it reports that a storm blew the roof from a Belleview nursing home. 

The facility needs state approval to rebuild. But administrator Jim Broich can't get the safety checks required by state law because the engineers who review plans were laid off.

I see. The rain will fall into the old folks'  little bed chambers because it is illegal to rebuild a roof without a public inspector on hand to inspect. After careful reflection, I deem this a splendid law.  The highly experimental state of roof-building technology requires such marvels as rafters, sheathing, and shingles -- all installed with inter-fibrous friction fasteners. No private citizen (such as, say, a journeyman carpenter) can be trusted with the job, and certainly no owner is qualified to say, "yep, it looks like it won't fall down, so I probably won't need to sue your ass off. Here's your check."


I'll also need to avoid camping in the state parks. However could I make it without a ranger to guide me to the showers?

Anarchy is such a horror.


*After the St. Cloud Times, in case you forgot.

May 9, 2011

...and the crick don't rise

Rivers are libertarians. The can be temporarily coerced in relatively small ways, but, in the end,  they will obey no laws but the laws of physics. Even one of the great journals of statist Washington is beginning to recognize that the Corps of Engineers is no match for Mother Nature.

You'll recall the dam and dike builders promising their latest gazillion-dollar projects will protect people from 100 or 200 or 500 year floods. Which they don't do very dependably.

A cynic might suggest what we really need is an continuous flood of common sense, i.e., "Don't build stuff on flood plains, or, if you must, don't come whining for handouts from smarter folk when the river reaches your  BarcaLounger."  

Sep 1, 2010

The Council on Foreign Relations has been a target of the Three-Neuron Right for decades. It's seen as an enclave of uberintellectuals using their formidable brain power to subvert the will of Rush Limbaugh followers everywhere.

The latest, referring to the so-called end of American combat operations in Iraq:

"We could end up with a situation where Iraq is a mess," said Steven Cook, a Mideast specialist at the Council on Foreign Relations.

If that represents CFR thinking, we can all quit worrying about being steamrollered by   the council's awesome intellect.  Unless, of course, we miss its point that Iraq was  an orderly and tranquil place prior to our adventure there.

May 16, 2010

Is this a trick question?

"What is the ticket price for an Atlanta to Las Vegas flight?"

Sounds simple enough for a top travel writer to answer, but never underestimate the complexity of the free market.

Lisa reports there were 2,472,916 potentially correct answers as of a few days ago. That's the number of times the price of an airplane ride from Atlanta to Vegas has changed so far this year.

This is too hard to keep track of. The government should do something.

Feb 9, 2010

Frank Magid, RIP

We should note the passing of Frank Magid, the Iowa "consultant" almost single-handedly responsible for the demise of journalism on television and the substitution of happy talk news.

He became rich by understanding that numbskulls vastly outnumber smart people and advising television stations (and later networks) on how to win the maximum number of fools to the nightly newscasts. He did it with "surveys." He asked viewers if anchor Jane was prettier than anchor Jill. He had folks discuss whether Dan really looked nicer in a sweater .

The sum total of his recorded wisdom about news broadcast content was: "If any story runs more than one minute, the Russians had better be in New York Harbor."

It worked, and the advertisers loved it. This explains things like "L'Oreal, because you're worth it."

Frank, not to speak ill of the dead, and I appreciate that lunch back in the '70s, but you have one Hell of a lot to answer for.

Feb 8, 2010

Jocko's Doc


We could save a lot of ink and air time and general exasperation among the literate classes by suspending the relevant Constitutional provisions for 30 minutes, declaring him guilty by acclamation, fining him 50 bucks, and handing him a carton of Luckies on his way down the court house steps. When the Founding Document is restored, leaders should talk up the stuff against double jeopardy.

Jan 19, 2010

At least my heart cockles are warmer.

The United Nations may soon issue a correction that could, but probably won't, tone down a little of the caterwauling about global warming.

Hand-wringers got a lot of mileage out of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report in 2007 saying:

Which would really put the old kabosh on the Kathmandu bobsledding industry with all the human anguish that portends.

One small problem has appeared. The laws of physics don't permit any such thing. Even if they did, the evidence is one, count-em one, obscure Indian science professor named Hasnein who, 11 years ago, took a call from the New Scientist. This magazine can safely be thought of as the Mechanix Illustrated of its field.

Flattered to be consulted, Professor Hasnain adjusted his bed sheet and popped off that the glaciers to his north were rapidly melting. The New Scientist journalist may or may not have added dramatic details, including the 2035 date for end of the glacier as we know it.

For a few years no one paid any attention, not even me, and I'm locally known as an enthusiastic advocate of healthy Himalayan glaciation. It's for the kids.

Then, in 2005, Professor Hasnain's words to the New Scientist were picked up in a World Wildlife Federation report forecasting the end of China, India, Nepal, and Cute Baby Pandas as we know them because my son drives a Suburban.

That got the U.N. climate worriers excited, and in 2007 they issued a report making Himalayan glacial death a pillar of high level scientific thought as that term is understood by the United Nations General Assembly.

In due course some thoughtful high school graduates started asking questions and, to state it briefly, Professor Hasnain eventually conceded his evidence came out of his ass. His concession may have been prompted by the term "inherently ludicrous" which other scientists applied to the notion.

The Times concludes:

"The revelation is the latest crack to appear in the scientific conensus over climate change. It follows the so-called climate-gate scandal, where British scientists apparently tried to prevent other researchers from accessing key date. Last week another row broke out when the Met Office criticised suggestions that sea levels were likely to rise 1.9m by 2100, suggesting much lower increases were likely."

Dec 31, 2009


My sympathy for the bereaved families is as sincere as humanly possible.

And so is my feeling that things just took a sharp turn for the worse in Afghanistan. The stiff personal pride of the agency and its well-known appetite for revenge are now important ingredients in the Mulligan stew of the Middle East.

Nov 26, 2009

Inscrutable my butt

News flash! China breathlessly announces it will go along with the climate gag and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 or 45 per cent in the next 15 years.

Funniest thing. This Middle Kingdom bulletin comes just as the world's most powerful climate hand wringers get ready to meet in Copenhagen and draw up a plan to make cold, dark American homes seem like fun -- and as the cap-and-tax Obama initiative clings vigorously to life.

The holdouts on de-industrializing the developed world have long pointed out that if China won't go along, emissions taxes in Europe and North America would have only one certain result: A richer China dominating a poorer West.

So China finally caves in to the degree of saying it will reduce emissions because it wants to be a by-gawd exemplary citizen of Planet Earth. And I will bet the farm that every year, China will announce that it is indeed reducing smokestack nasties, silencing the skeptics and adding to the pressure for a Kyoto-like economic death wish among the leftists in control of the U.S. government.

Premier Jiabao to nosy reporter: "That big black smog over Shanghai? Why, that's American pollution blown here from Los Angeles by the trade winds. As is well known, China no longer emits."