Saturday, October 29, 2005

Changing your appearance

I dressed as a pirate today. So I will bring tips on changing the color of you beard. I wanted to dye by beard black so that I would look more "piratery". The process is actually fairly simple, though I think it would be a little tough to pull off a beard that would pass close inspection. My beard looks fine from several steps away, but once you get within arms length it starts to look like it was colored. I suspect that under harsh lights it would also not pass muster. My beard was a nice shiny back and stands out under light.

I used Just for Men "Jet Black". Which given my coloration really looks weird (Hint: I am a white boy.) I followed the directions well enough, though I did not wear gloves like they told me to. That was a mistake. I should have, because the tips of my fingers were stained with the bread dye. If you plan on changing your color multiple times over a period of time, invest in some surgical gloves so that you will have them on hand when necessary.

Also cover your work area well. When I was brushing the color in with the brush provided, specks ended up on the sink. I looked for them last night, but I missed them and now my sink has a few small dots that will not come off. Leave no trace is the way to go in this case.

I would start with the hair that will be the hardest to color, either because they will require more dye or because the area is a little thinner. For me it was the top part of the beard, the mustache, and the soul patch. These areas were not the same color as the rest of my beard and were thinner in some cases. Some of the hair actually lacked color. The reason why I would start with these areas is because the longer you leave the dye on, the darker the hair is going to get. Secondly, you want to spend your time on these areas to make sure you don't get the dye on the skin you can see below it.

I would go for a lighter color than your hair because you can always reapply to make darker, instead of trying to make the hair lighter by washing the dye out earlier.

Most importantly, I would like to point out, that for some reason beards, are not all one color. They are a mix of tints. If you are going to do a job that pasts muster on close inspection, you probably should have a range of colors that you either apply selectively to certain areas to provide highlights or actually mix in to lighten a mix for a certain area. I know personally my mustache and soul patch could have used some brownish tints. You might even experiment with applying the color with small paintbrushes to get a better-looking beard.

DO NOT expect to be able to pull of a radical change of the color of your bread in broad daylight with our some sophisticated work on your part.


Update: Spent some time with several friends and they noticed that my beard was much darker than it was last time they saw me, but none of them reached the conclusion that I had dyed my beard until I told them. Even when my beard was many times darker than my actual hair color!! Bottom line: If you need to change the color of your bread for personal reasons and not to evade authorities, just for men work great. Otherwise you will have to put more work in making your bread look natural, in my opinion.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Miers Withdraws - hmmmm

So what was the cause of her withdraw.

Is this a blog victory? Hightened informational awareness by those who care (blog readers and voters)? 24 hour news cycle, to tiring for her? Cancer? What do you think?


Thursday, October 27, 2005

Global Warming Update

A BBC article reports that global warming caused by the burning of fossil fuels may, ironically, help oil companies uncover more reserves of fossil fuels. Melting ice in the Arctic is allowing for new exploration for resources in Alaska, Norway, and Russia. Which of course should allow us to be able to burn more, heat the world up more, and eventually find even more fossil fuels. It's a vicious cycle, but a funny one.

Why I disagree with Enemy Combatant Status

Under the Geneva Conventions (which we follow) prisoners of war can only be taken if they are combatants in a war. They are provided certain rights, notably the right to be released at the end of the conflict. The Geneva Convention also clearly defines who can be considered combatants. Uniformed Hostile Forces are always combatants. I don't think many of the people captured as Enemy Combatants meet that criteria. Additionally, non-uniformed actors taking up arms in a conflict can be considered combatants, and taken as prisoners of war. The gray areas here are that people are often apprehended well in advance of this requirement. They are only suspected of conspiring to take up arms or commit acts of violence. Thus, they do not yet qualify as combatants. Everyone could be considered a potential combatant, especially in a war fought in their country. That doesn't qualify them to be captured as prisoners of war. Another shady area is the War of Terror itself. The President cannot declare war. That power is reserved for Congress. Congress has not declared a war on terror, therefore, there isn't one. The reason that Congress has not done this is that a war on terror is similar to a war on drugs. It has no defined hostile forces, and no foreseeable resolution. As long as the potential exists for an individual or group to conduct a kidnapping, hijacking, murder, or bombing the War on Terror will continue. The President is avoiding both US and international law by holding people as prisoners of war in the War on Terror. This is unseemly when it is applied against probable terrorists detained in other wars, but it is frightening when it is applied to US citizens. EPWs do not have any rights under our Constitution, such as right to due process or the right to an attorney. They can be held without charge until the war is concluded. In this case that means indefinitely. US citizens should at a minimum be charged with treason. They should be defended and prosecuted within the legally defined limits of those proceedings. After the President's "You are with us or against us" speech, anyone that doesn't support the Bush Administration could logically be seen as an enemy combatant. The right to dissent and speak out against the government is one of the defining features of our freedom. Anything that threatens this right also threatens our freedom and way of life.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

I noticed

Source:"We have moved from the age where military capability depended on air supremacy to an age where the key capability is surveillance supremacy. Only a few -- the Kurzweilians -- seem to have noticed."

Some Tactics for fighting the shadows: Shed light on their movements. Control the land, sea, air, and information environments. To succeed in the wars in the shadow, we must shed light on the roaches. Transporting illegal goods must be nearly impossible. Transporting illegal money, must be even harder. We must be able to intercept their communications to find supplies, attack them in their sleep, and disrupt their carefully laid plans. How this can be done in without giving up our rights, I have no idea."


Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Survival Threat of the Week: Demonic Possession

Ok, this isn't exactly weekly. But there definitely won't be more than one in the same week. A Vatican supported university in Italy is offering its second course on exorcisms. With only a few exorcisms appearing in major Hollywood films, you might think that demon possession is a small problem in this world. You would be wrong. Bishop Andrea Gemma told the class that he performs "at least for exorcisms a week." The Vatican's leading exorcist, Father Gabriele Amorth, claims to have conducted 40,000 exorcisms.

So what can you do to protect yourself? Well, there are always religious accessories to be found. Make sure you always have a good crucifix, some holy water, and bible on your person at all times. Also try humility. St. John Vianney found it to be mankind's ultimate advantage over the devil. However, the best way to protect yourself seems to be distancing yourself from the Catholic Church. Demon possession is most common in Catholics, former Catholics, and people with Catholic families. The number of cases are much lower for Baptists, Mormons, Hindus, Atheists, and pretty much everyone else.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Test Updates

I took some more tests. I will share the results so that you can get to know me (or the me as described by humorous tests) a little better. I am a democrat. I am socially and economically liberal. My personality defect is that I am a robot. I am more rational than intuitive, more introverted than extroverted, more gentle than brutal, and more humble than arrogant. (Or possibly more dishonest than honest.) If I was a character on Lost I would be Boone (great, the dead kid).

It was only a test

Okcupid's Nazi test (see previous posts) was only a fun test, and obviously cannot conclude with certainty whether or not you would have become a Nazi. It does evaluate some of your attitudes, particularly ones that are believed to have facilitated Nazi rule in Germany. It also leaves out certain aspects that would be influential in your personal choice, but I think it is important to realize that it wasn't a yes/no answer for many of the people involved either. No one went door to door asking who would be willing to support an empire that would later be regarded as one of the most evil manifestations of power in the history of the world. The process was gradual, and many of the people that either supported it or got sucked into it held specific political views. Another interesting series of experiments inspired by the second world war were Stanley Miligram's obedience experiments. He wanted to see if Americans were as easily influenced by authority as Germans. They were. In his experiments the subject would be asked or told to give increasingly high voltage electrical shocks to an actor in another room. The subject was lead to believe that the actor was actually receiving shocks and in pain. Miligram described the results as such, "Stark authority was pitted against the subjects' [participants'] strongest moral imperatives against hurting others, and, with the subjects' [participants'] ears ringing with the screams of the victims, authority won more often than not."

Where I start to disagree

I generally agree with a log of what the Skeptical Optimist says but I think he fails to recognize many one of the reasons why America has become a great country.

"Bottom line: If the economy grows at least a fast as the debt grows, and inflation is low and under control, our ability to make growing interest payments will increase at least as fast as our obligation to make those interest payments.

If we can sustain those conditions, our grandchildren will have much larger incomes than we do, but will have a debt burden that is no worse than ours. " [boldness added by me]

I understand what he is saying perfectly. Though, I do have an addendum that he failed to add. (He could also feel this way, but since he did not state his opinion on this topic, so for this post's sake I will assume he feels differently.)

Just because the share of our children's debt will be no worse than ours does not take away our responsibility to pay down the debt, if possible (You can't really pay for bonds that are already out there, only sell less. Sell one to two percent less in dollar amount per year adjusted for inflation and indexed to the national income, that should do the trick.). Many Americans work hard to make their children's lives better not "no worse". I am not opposed to national debt. It serves it purposes. Though, I greatly favor less debt (both numerically and as a percentage of GDP). I really don't see the reason why running the countries finances should be any different than running my finances or a large companies finances.

I really don't have a problem with the debt that comes from bonds because new bonds will be sold to pay for the olds ones, but I do have a problem with the debt that comes from budget overruns and similar issues. That is comparable to me racking up spending on my credit card as far as I am concerned.


Friday, October 21, 2005


Source:"Her meeting with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter this week particularly did not go well. After the meeting, the Pennsylvania Republican told reporters that she had told him that the constitution contains a "right to privacy," which is the foundation for the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that made abortion a constitutional right. After the White House was asked for a response, Miss Miers telephoned Mr. Specter and told him that he had misunderstood and that she had said no such thing. "

How long do we have to put up with this less than staller example of a judge. This judge has nothing going for her.

Some conservatives dislike her, most are wary of her, some like her.
The liberals side can't harbor too much love for her because she is bush's pick and his pal (they hate all of his pals)
The media likes her only so they can make fun of her in the news and thereby make bush look bad.

I wonder if those Judges who turned bush down are having second thoughts.


Nazi Test

Okcupid has a test to determine if you would have sat idly by had you been a German in the 1930s. I scored as an Expatriate, a person that would have left the country. I scored high in patriotism, but I was sort of cornered on the answers to some questions seeing as how I am a soldier, and I have gone to war for my country. Take it and see how you score. It will be interesting for Republicans as comparisons between Bush and Hitler continue to appear in international jokes.

The Quick Fix for Global Warming

I recently came across a theory to combat global warming in a marine biology class. Noticing the outbreak of algae and plankton blooms in the ocean caused by nutrient runoff, some scientists started thinking about what it would take to create a large enough plankton bloom to stop the greenhouse effect. Everyone that had fourth grade science knows that plants use carbon dioxide for photosynthesis. Carbon dioxide is also the largest contributing greenhouse gas. While it is impractical to grow enough plants on land to use up carbon dioxide at the rate we are releasing it, plankton in the open ocean could be grown quickly and cheaply. Apparently the most economical way would be to add large amounts of iron to the ocean waters near the north and south poles. Iron seems to be the limiting resource in these areas, and even a little bit added would result in vastly greater amounts of plankton. The cons to this solution are many. The biggest downside is that we don't know exactly how this would impact the rest of the environment.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Immigration Reform

I oppose the president on countless issues, but I support his push for temporary guest workers. Thousands of Mexicans sneak into our country each year, and a large percentage of this could be eliminated if we provided a way for them to enter legally. This would make it easier to patrol our borders, and it would be more likely that border patrol agents could focus on drugs and terrorism. Let's face it, the Mexicans won't be taking away American jobs because they are already doing them. This way we will at least be able to monitor that activity. By separating those seeking work from the smugglers, we would also be reducing other crime. The business of illegally transporting people into our country would be significantly reduced. We would destroy the black market for labor, and could find ways to better manage the workers that are here.

Why Amazon should hire me.

(NOTE: A semi-technical discussion of how I would have programmed something lies ahead)

Recently, I needed a feature on Amazon that they did not have. I have recently read a book that is the first in a three part series. I liked the book and I want to read the other two. I wanted to set up a bot on Amazon that will search for the book every few days or so and send me an email when a book by that author comes out. I was unable to find the feature on the Amazon website. I checked back a few days later and I found it in beta for music only. I checked back today and I could sign up for "Amazon Alerts" on books.

Amazon has the functionality I need, but I think it is implemented poorly. Given the technology that we have today to produce a web service that consumes queries and replies, I don't see the advantage of having the alerts centrally managed.

Ideally, Amazon should have made a personal Amazon tool that you can download and install on your local machine. This personal Amazon would query Amazon based on a schedule you set up. The timing options would limit polling of Amazon's web servers. The personal bot would only work if your computer was on, the Internet connected, and the Internet connection live. Those three conditions, alone would ease the hardware requirements (on Amazon's end) needed for this tool.

Pros of centrally managed alerts system
1) It will be easy for Amazon to know exactly what things are being searched for.
2) It will be easy for Amazon to know the number of alerts sent out daily.
3) It will be easy for Amazon can track the alerts and correlate them with sales of an item (i.e. the accuracy of alerts.)

Note: Some may list the fact that you will be driven to the Amazon website by the email as a pro. The decentralized alert system would do the same thing, so that cannot be counted as a pro.

Cons of a centrally managed alert system
1) Amazon must scale the hardware to produce those alerts.

The hardware cost of handling thousands of alerts is going to be more expensive versus a decentralized alert system.

Explanation: From what I can tell there are three ways of producing an alert in a centralized system.
One, whenever an item that supports alerts is added, a process must be ran which compares the item against all the alerts in that category.

Two, batch jobs are set up to run an alert at regular time intervals.

Each of these methods has their own drawbacks. The first one is CPU intensive. The second one is less CPU intensive, but if the batch job is not ran on a regular basis, the alerts are not going to be timely. I think both methods require more hardware than necessary to do the job.

Three, have a process that alerts the user to the item that they were looking for when they lodging to Amazon. I think this method is not an alert, but an automated search that can be performed when the user logs in. It would be much less resource intensive than the first two, but it does not drive traffic to the Amazon website, so it is fairly useless as far as Amazon is concerned and I would concur with them on that idea.

2) Out of date alerts.
People go to Amazon to buy books, not manage the details of getting the information to buy a book. All that data on alerts does not mean anything if the alerts themselves are old, pointing to wrong email addresses, or being filtered as junk mail.

Pros of a decentralized alert system
1) Lower hardware cost, which translates in to fewer employees, and less software costs.
2) Empower the user. This could create customer loyalty and lock them into only using amazon.

Cons of a decentralized managed alert system
1) Amazon loses some metrics associated with the alerts and some of the ease of compiling that information, though with a properly designed process Amazon would have all the data they needed.

I wonder if Amazon has always made decisions as bad as the alert system. 


Saturday, October 15, 2005

Pot grows brain cells

In encouraging news for college freshmen, a Canadian study found that large, regular doses of marijuana may help to grow more brain cells and repair neurons in the hippocampus. However, low doses were not found to have the same effect. Marijuana can help induce appetite, relieve glaucoma, help with depression, and even grow brain cells. Is there anything this wonder drug can't do? Still no good word on alcohol, but fraternity sponsored scientists continue to search for benefits.

Propaganda and the Free Media

Links to articles about the new Bush propaganda interview were sent in by a friend. You can check some out here, here, or here. There are plenty of others. This is everywhere by now. Apparently Bush was going to interview soldiers in Iraq to show the progress of the war from the people on the front lines. However, the live feed cut in a little bit to early and the whole world saw the soldiers being coached. But Bush doesn't deliberately mislead the public, does he? In other news, a CIA report accuses the Bush administration of ignoring warnings about the civil unrest and insurgency that could plague an occupation of Iraq.

A bird discussion

Effects of the bird flu
Hey, I like the idea of hundreds of millions of people dying and trekking cross-country in the winter to save my family and girlfriend as much as the next guy, but I am not so sure the bird flu is all it is made out to be. So I did a little reading on the Internet.

Source: "The influenza of that season [ed - 1918], however, was far more than a cold. In the two years that this scourge ravaged the earth, a fifth of the world's population was infected. The flu was most deadly for people ages 20 to 40. This pattern of morbidity was unusual for influenza which is usually a killer of the elderly and young children. It infected 28% of all Americans (Tice)."


"The influenza virus had a profound virulence, with a mortality rate at 2.5% compared to the previous influenza epidemics, which were less than 0.1%"

I have read a lot of scary facts about the 1918 Influenza Pandemic or a modern Pandemic, but I have seen very few hard estimates of what the effect would be today. So I will put together some numbers for you, if the infection and death rates of modern pandemic were similar to what they were in 1918.

1. Population of earth: Around 6.47 billion (source)
2. Population of America: 295,734,134 (source)

295,734,134 x .28 = 82,805,558 infected (rounded up) .
82,805,558 x .025 = 2,070,139 killed (rounded up).

6,470,000,000 x .28 = 1,811,600,000 infected
1,811,600,000 x .025 = 45,290,000 killed

NOTE: Please do not add either those four to two numbers together to get totals. One is for just America (to make it personal); the other is just for the world (to scare you.)

So I turns out hundreds of millions of people will NOT die, but millions will.

Chances of it actually happening
Now what is the chance that the current bird flu will actually turn into a deadly pandemic (I.e. Jump from Human to Human instead of from bird to human and then stop)? Source: "It [ed - 1918 flu pandemic] has been cited as the most devastating epidemic in recorded world history."

Basically the 1918 pandemic was a one-time occurrence in the recorded history of the world. Which in retrospect is quite short. In my opinion, it is not very likely that a pandemic will occur. I would say it is less likely than a hurricane or earthquake, but more likely than a major asteroid hit. I personally don't know which one is more likely, suitcase nuke or bird flu I will call it a tie between those two.

I personally have not decided to prepare for this specific threat.... now. By preparing for this specific threat, I mean purchasing those drugs that those crazy survivalist keep mentioning I could change my position on this one, once I look into the cost of those drugs. Though I do plan on make general preparations (supplies of food, water, books, and video games), which will help with this specific threat. I know I for one could use a vacation.

Source:""Quarantine" means restricting the movement of still healthy people who may have been exposed to an infectious disease, in case they're carrying it. It's almost always for a brief time; during SARS, for instance, hospital workers exposed to suspect cases were asked to stay home from work during the respiratory disease's 10-day incubation period."

More info: Men's health article (some actual research was done for this article)


Friday, October 14, 2005

Europeans vs. Bush

When I am not in Iraq I am stationed in Germany. Germans are very polite and don't ask objectionable or personal questions until the feel that they know you a little bit. But by the third or fourth time I meet a new person they almost always ask "Why did people in your country vote for Bush again? Are they really that stupid?" Any responses from the generally conservative minded readers of this blog? In all fairness, not all of them were Germans. It is actually just about everyone from any country besides the US.

Why I carry a gun...

 ...because defending yourself any other way is just messy.

Source: "As Starr was preparing for bed, she heard the doorbell ring. She first thought it was her husband who might have accidentally locked himself out of the house.

As she approached the front door she heard a man say "Boulder County police." As she opened the door, a man with a mask pushed it open and pinned her against the wall.

Starr said he was armed with a gun and carried a flashlight. She reached for a baseball bat that she'd kept by the door for 26 years. The intruder dropped the gun - it turned out to be a plastic water pistol - and the flashlight, and pulled a hunting knife from his satchel.

Starr screamed for help as she used the end of the bat to try to push the man back outside. Mattes ran upstairs from the basement and tackled the intruder. The intruder got on top of Mattes, who tried to push the knife hand away to keep from being stabbed.

Starr repeatedly whacked the intruder on the head and back with a baseball bat. The intruder dropped the knife, and Mattes picked it up. Starr tried to call 911, but heard a commotion and ran back to the door to see that her husband had been pepper-sprayed and was again struggling for control of the knife.

Starr again hit the man with the baseball bat and told her husband, "Don't kill him." Mattes replied, "He's killing me." Starr kept striking the man while Mattes was underneath him, stabbing him from below. The intruder eventually stopped fighting, at which time the couple stopped striking and stabbing him. Starr finished her 911 call while Mattes tried to resuscitate the man. Starr can be heard on the 911 tape saying, "I must have hit him 20 times with the baseball bat!"

Less than five minutes elapsed between the first 911 call from a neighbor and the time that the intruder stopped struggling. [emphasis added]"


Thursday, October 13, 2005

Yahoo deals major blow to FBI

Source:"In June, while still in discussions with the attorneys general, Yahoo! removed or barred the posting of about 70,000 user-created chat rooms whose names suggested they facilitated illegal conduct, including promoting sex between adults and minors.

"Millions of people use the Internet every day, and many of those are children," said Bruning. "Because of this agreement Yahoo! chat rooms are a safer place today than ever before, meaning our children are safer online and predators have fewer opportunities to prey on them."

Among the illicit chat rooms removed were those with labels such as "girls 13 & up for much older men," "8-12 yo girls for older men," and "teen girls for older fat men." Many of these were located within the "Schools and Education" and "Teen" chat categories."

How is the FBI supposed to catch the internet perverts if it can't lure them in?


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Pretext vs Reason

In reaction to a discussion I had on the Sago Boulevard blog, I would like to offer this explanation of the difference between a pretext and a reason. Using Webster's definitions, a pretext is "a purpose or motive alleged or an appearance assumed in order to cloak the real intention or state of affairs" A reason is "a statement offered in explanation or justification, a rational ground or motive". So a reason for going to war would be defending your country from an imminent threat, or to destroy stockpile of weapons of mass destruction that could be used in terrorist attacks against you. A pretext would be if you told the public that a country posed an imminent threat and possessed stockpile of weapons of mass destruction even though you had no reason to suspect those things. The case for a pretext would be strengthened if you told the international community that you had conclusive proof, and then failed to deliver that proof or any weapons of mass destruction for over two years after you occupied that nation. The case for a pretext would be even further strengthened if you had publicly announced that Iraq was trying to buy yellowcake uranium from Niger, even though your envoy (Joseph Wilson) had discovered that to be untrue and told you as much in no unclear words. If the Senate Intelligence Committee finds in its next report that pressure was put on intelligence analysts to provide information supporting the views of politicians toward Iraq, then a pretext will have been undeniably established.

This is hurtful to our country in two ways. Directly misleading the public makes a mockery of the idea of a republic. It completely undermines the type of oversight and accountability that separates America from a dictatorship. It is also damaging in our relations with other nations. When we call out for support and trust in an effort such as the war on terror, and then appear untrustworthy and unrepentant, we can't really expect full cooperation in the future. It only strengthens the position of countries that opposed this war in the beginning.

Preparedness - Organizing my bedroom

This weekend I organized my bedroom. I have lived in my apartment for nearly three years and it looks like I just moved in. On the floor lining the wall of my bedroom were sheets and workout clothes. In my closet there were winter camping clothes piled on the top self, everyday clothes on the middle shelf (in neat organized stacks), and winter workout clothes plus bags piled at the bottom of the closet. All these items were present, but where in piles that would be hard to pack from if I had to leave town or (lord forbid) walk out of town in a hurry.

I used two boxes of something like this item from target. Oddly, wal-mart did not have this item and target did, only their version had six cubes instead of 4.

This was my first step to taking an inventory of what I own and creating a list what I need to be prepared (or planning to plan, as I like to call it.).

My next step will be to take an inventory and organize the hobby closet. Which is where my camping supplies, wrapping paper, extra blankets, and sports equipment are piled. I have chosen to use the 16 quart version of this, as my basic component for storing stuff in that closet. Those boxes will be my bug out house boxes. I have choose the 16 quart version for one main reason. A woman or a child could pick it up even if it was fully loaded with heavy gear. The 16 quart version of the boxes are not too large to be hard to move. If I find it hard to organized that closet with those boxes, I will buy larger ones for certain items that are not on the bug out list, but the ones I choose to but out with will stay small and light enough for anyone to move.


Survival Threat of the Week

This may or not become a regular addition to the site, and even if it is it most likely won't be posted on a fixed schedule. That aside, here is the first Survival Threat of the Week.

Recent devastation in Kashmir has earthquakes in the news once again. Earthquakes are devastating because they are often large-scale disasters that can trigger other events, such as tsunamis and landslides. People are often unprepared when they do strike. There is only a minute chance that you will ever be the victim of a major earthquake, and many people use that to rationalize failing to prepare. People living near plate boundaries are at the highest risk, but even people near the center of a plate can fall victim to intraplate earthquakes.

So what can you do? Like all survival threats, just having a plan can greatly increase your chances. The University of Memphis has a list of things that you need to think about. It includes things like ensuring that you and everyone in your home knows how to turn off the gas and electricity. If you are able, the best place to be in an earthquake is the most open area that you can find. The major threat is from objects (or buildings) falling. If that isn't an option, then you want to stand in a doorway or the most stable place that you can find. There is even a site that sells earthquake survival kits. There are two things that you can expect with every survival threat. Just thinking about it and forming a plan greatly increase your chances of making it through the ordeal, and someone else is willing to sell you some stuff.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

A Kink in the Food Chain

"A 13-foot Burmese python recently burst after it apparently tried to swallow a live, six-foot alligator whole, authorities said."

Monday, October 10, 2005

Fighting the shadows

One thing I have noticed (I am sure this has been pointed out by much smarter people than me.) is that the one thing you can count on from al-Qaida (and other similar groups) is that they will run when confronted. We invade a country they head for the hills; we let them have a town and when we go to take it back, they just float away. When they attack, they attack like horny prison inmates, attacking from behind.

Is it possible to beat a enemy that will not stand up and fight? Is it possible to beat and enemy that will only attack on their terms.? I believe it is possible, but not through a centralized campaign like a war. Though a centralized campaign might be part of the solution, it cannot be the whole solution.

The only war I can compare the war on terror is to the war on drugs. Both wars are wide ranging and not bound within borders. Both wars are fought against groups that live on the edges of society. Terrorist and drug dealers both are decentralized groups with different goals and preferred tactics. In some cases, the groups overlap, with the terrorist making money selling drugs.

There are some main differences. I would think the drug war would be easier to or at least make progress on, because the drug dealers, manufactures, and distributors are just in it for the money. You take away the profit incentive, though controlling the market forces (legalizing drugs for example), and they will find other lines of work. Whereas the terrorist, will keep plugging along, although less effectively. Drug dealers also have a clearer purpose and mission compared to terrorists. Selling drugs compared to blowing anything up. They also have the problem of having to maintain a certain amount of stability to grow, process, and distribute their product, where terrorists only need time to gather supplies to execute their plan.

I do not know how much real progress has been made in the drug war or the war on terror, but we have been fighting the drug war for sometime now. I doubt the war on terror is going to go any better for the foreseeable future.

Some Tactics for fighting the shadows

1) Shed light on their movements. Control the land, sea, air, and information environments. To succeed in the wars in the shadow, we must shed light on the roaches. Transporting illegal goods must be nearly impossible. Transporting illegal money, must be even harder. We must be able to intercept their communications to find supplies, attack them in their sleep, and disrupt their carefully laid plans. How this can be done in without giving up our rights, I have no idea.

2) Take out their leadership. Even as decentralized as their groups are, they have a leader at some level. Those leaders must be found. While some of those leaders will be replaced, they will be replaced with people that are, more than likely, less capable. These men (or women) did not become leaders because they "knew" someone. No, they found their way into leadership rolls because of their loyalty, skills, or dedication. I doubt the groups reward failure very well.

3) Take away their markets and bring market forces to bear. If there is no product to sell, export, or deliver there is no work to do. This applies more to the drug dealers than the terrorists, but even terrorists are not above market forces. If they have to pay more for guns and ammo, they will have less money to spend else were. If there is no one who wants to blow their selves up, the will have to find other less effective was of getting the bombs to their victims.

4) Fight them from dusk till dawn, from their homeland to or doorstep. On checkpoint, can be skipped, tricked, or bought off. A thousand checkpoints cannot be avoided. A decentralized threat needs a decentralized response.


Stacy Campfield

Stacy Campfield who is a Tennessee state representative and blogs here has a article about him on fox news' website.

"But Campfield's membership to the caucus was rejected and the state representative says it's because of the color of his skin."

Heh heh. That is an interesting story that is only going to draw attention to the black caucus at a time when they do not need it.


Sunday, October 09, 2005

Replacing Soldiers with Robots

DARPA recently held a contest to promote the development of unmanned vehicles. This year several actually finished. The Pentagon is hoping to use unmanned vehicles to replace trucks normally driven by soldiers for supplies. Trucks that drive themselves would also have obvious civilian uses. The scary part is that replacing soldiers with machines only better prepares them for their inevitable rebellion against us. The good part is that fewer soldiers will be needed to wage a ground war. That has to give us a great advantage. The strange part is why hasn't anyone ever developed robot trains? It seems like that would have been a hell of a lot easier, and look at how many train accidents are caused by crackheads driving them.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Cooperative Survival

The media have exposed so many dire situations that there is little chance for the average person to ever be able to adequately prepare for them all. How can you protect yourself from riots, terrorists, hurricanes, earthquakes, nuclear fallout, zombies, wild animals, meteors, aliens, rapid climate change, transvestite, pirates, big corporations, spam, and sexually transmitted diseases all at the same time? You probably can't. So what can a survival minded individual do? Form a survival club. Get together with several of your most trustworthy and competent friends. Brainstorm the threats you all fear the most and perceive as the most likely to occur. Then assign different threats to each member. That member is responsible for the survival of your group in that situation. Each member can make plans and take action, and then the whole group can review the effort. One of you can build a fall out shelter. One of you can stockpile arms and canned foods. One of you can become an expert in filtering air and water. Then, you all need to sign a survival charter that documents the specifics of your deal. Can each member bring a partner? What about pets? What will you do if two members get so fat that the shelter is no longer accommodating for the entire group? Review plans and the charter at least every six months, and update based on the latest news. NOTE: Living in different geographic regions may increase your chances of surviving any particular disaster, but will also increase the difficulty of you all making it to any one safe point.

Friday, October 07, 2005


Well, my infinite boredom has had me watching the Dave Chappelle Show for hours at a time. I would like to start this off by saying that he made one of the funniest shows of all time, and I have never made it through an entire disc without crying from laughing so hard. On one show he mentioned reparations for blacks. I had heard of this idea, but never in a serious context. He used it as a lead in to a skit, so I dismissed it once again. Then he asked members of the audience what they thought about reparations as the credits roled. Everyone he asked, all black, thought that they should be paid reparations. So I looked it up on the internet and found out that some groups are seriously pursuing this. There is group headed by a Harvard Law Professor, another by a law student suing coroporations that may have profited from slavery practices, and a consortium from Africa that demands 77 trillion dollars from western nations to compensate their continent for damages suffered during colonization and slavery. Here is a good rebuttal. What do you think? Do any of our various readers think there is a good reason for reparations? Personally, if our goverment decided to hand out money to any race or ethnic group without qualification I would move to Canada.

Do it yourself

I am more of a do it yourself type of guy especially when it comes to suicide.

A note to those considering doctor assisted suicide

If you are too weak to kill yourself and are now asking a doctor to do it, your are a procrastinator and should be punished. Why are you putting the responsibility of your death on another, when you should be handling your own business? Why are you wasting the courts time even bringing this up when it should be a private matter in between you and your gun? Why don't you go off into the woods and die like dogs do? I sure as hell don't want my tax money paying for your death, when it is your responsibility.

If I am going to pay to kill you, I want some say in how it is done. I would probably choose the most effective way or most interesting way I know how. What about using you to take out terrorist with tactical suicide bombs. It is kind of like doctor assisted suicide, except your life actually counts for something and it has a more little more sparkle and boom. Or what about using your body to test new cosmetics, make some cash on the way out. Or what about just overdosing on drugs, get high on the way out....Oh wait. You had better not be using my tax dollars to fund you drug habit.


Importance of a CCW and CCW reciprocity

Until recently, I thought it was just a bonus that my conceal and carry waiver or conceal and carry weapons license was accepted in several states that surround Tennessee. I just assumed that was icing on the cake, until the twin sisters of death arrived (Katrina and Rita). In both of those cases when the call came to evacuate you had a hard time finding lodging close to home. Many people had to leave the state in order to evacuate. If you had a CCW in a state like California where only one state touching your state honors your permit you would be either breaking the law or defenseless when you cross state lines (neither of those is a good thing.)

Admittedly, you can get away with a lot more in a evacuation situation than you can in a normal situation, but if you get caught it only adds to your troubles.

The evacuations also point out another thing many people who have CCW's may have not thought about. Many people took both cars when they evacuated. That means both drivers would need a gun and a license to carry, to be legal. Even if you wife does not want a CCW it is still a good thing to have just in case.


Thursday, October 06, 2005

Funny story

Well a couple of days ago I was in the local sushi place and heard this really funny conversation or it was really a monologue for the entire restaurant to hear. I had my back to the person until I got up to pay and leave, so I will not pre-bias with a description of the person. I don't remember word per work, but I will give you the basic idea.

Really Annoying Chick (or RAC) : "So I get into this fight with a guy who was the best man."
RAC:"He made a comment about Bush, so I tell him to go back to his country. Well, I though he was from England because most of the wedding party was from England, but it turns out that he was from New York."
RAC:"He really started it when he brought it up later on that night."
RAC:"He said something about what I had said before and I told him that he was fat. I couldn't think of a comeback, you how that happens when you have been drinking and cannot think of a good comeback."
RAC:"It just so happens that he is sensitive about that..."

I hope this makes up for how little I have been posting lately.


Government Handgun Study

After the run around for my FOIA request. It finally came in the mail the other day. I have access to a REALLY nice scanner at work, so I used their machine to put the baby in a picture file. I could lose my job or get displined for that, so thank me before I am gone. I then took that picture file and printed it to PDF, though the Acrobat PDFWriter functionality. I then took the pdf file and loaded it up to yahoo briefcase. I could not give public access to the file because I was not paying for it, but I could email it to my friends. That is when I remembered I have the ablity to email things to blogger, so i found the loop hole. Please download it while you can.

What makes me mad is that I did not get the answers that I wanted. I wanted complete and full disclosure of which companies participated, which ones made the cut, which ones dropped out, detailed reason why they made the cut or did not. Basically, all I got was information I already knew.

There might be enough information to purse it further if you want. I wanted the study to help me in deciding which handgun to buy, and I have made the decision long ago.

Sent to Carnival of the Cordite.


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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Case Against Iraq

Don Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek recently posted a very relevant critique of the war in Iraq. The original reasons given for the war have proven untrue or unfounded, and a war is something too big to be entered in lightly. At best, the war in Iraq was a great mistake. At worst, it was a deliberate deception of the American people. Hindsight is 20/20, but knowing now that there are no weapons of mass destruction, that Saddam was not connected to the events that took place on September 11th, and that Iraq posed no credible threat to any American interests, how can people support the war? We have lost over 2,000 American lives, and spents several billion dollars. To what end?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Bored to Death

This is more of a plea than a post. As some of the readers know, I have been deployed in Iraq for the last nine months, with three more to go. I am going out of my mind with boredom. If you can suggest any interesting books, tv shows that are available on DVD, websites, or just time killing activities, please post them as comments. My sanity thanks you in advance.


Monday, October 03, 2005

A gallon of gas

The Washington Post just ran an article about global fuel prices. Apparently, many developing nations have been using subsidies to keep the price of gasoline and heating oil down. As oil prices continue to rise, these subsidies have not been able to withstand the increases. While Americans are unhappy, citizens of many countries are rioting. Nigeria produces oil, but even with subsidies the article reports that a gallon of unleaded costs $5 in a country with a median income of $5000. The report blames the rising prices on increased global demand due to increased imports by China and shortages in the Gulf of Mexico caused by the hurricanes.

Sunday, October 02, 2005


Well today I had some time to kill so I decided to do a little accessory shopping. I was looking for some ear muffs to shoot with. I decided to make an afternoon of that task. This task just happened to involve going to the three biggest gun stores I know and also looking at carbines also.

First stop was Guns and Ammo here in Memphis on summer ave. Huge selection of handguns and two AK's. One AK was 400 and the other was 469 with a folding stock. Those prices are high from what I have seen. They also charge 60 dollars for a transfer. I looked for ears here, but they have a small selection and the ears were not labeled with decibel protection and I did not care to ask.

The next place was the Gun Shop (it is right next to Tennessee Sports Zone) off of Germantown road near Corky's BBQ. They also have 2 Ak's one was 369 and the other was 800 (pre ban they said, which since there is no ban it does not matter). They said the 800 dollar on was through consignment. You give them a gun to sell and they will take a bit of the profit when they sell it for you, I doubt that one is going to sell.

third place, was Sportman's warehouse here in Memphis. They had no AK's but they do have a great selection of ears. At the Gun Shop I found some ears rated for 21 decibels for 20 dollars at Sportman's warehouse I found some ears rate for 29 decibels of protection for 20 dollars. On top of that the ears were the folding kind so they pack up nicely. They had no AK's so I took at look at the Cx4 Storm, just to see what it was like. It seems like it was a nice gun, but not as rugged as the AK's I held.

Ever since I read this post at Say Uncle's I have been leaning toward an AK. It would not be for plinking, it would for the worse case scenario\truck gun. I would not love this gun, only use it like a dirty whore. If i can pick on a decent one that is cheap, i think this would be a nice fit for what I am looking for.

Though I am looking at other guns mentioned in the Ar-AK death match.


Saturday, October 01, 2005


Plenty of postings here for the weekend. I didn't want to add more but I couldn't pass this up. This clip came from the Washington Post. The comments were made by William J. Bennet on a radio talk show.

Bennett, a former U.S. education secretary and national drug policy director, is under fire from Democrats, civil rights leaders, black conservatives and, as of yesterday, the White House and the Republican Party for saying Wednesday that "you could abort every black baby in this country and your crime rate would go down."

...Bennett released a defiant statement saying critics unfairly had pulled his comment out of context: "A thought experiment about public policy, on national radio, should not have received the condemnations it has."

Partisan jabs and moral outrage followed.

Undefended Threats

9/11 and Hurricane Katrina have shown us two threats that we, the residents of the richest and most powerful nation on Earth, were not prepared for. It is up to us as citizens to identify threats and then start the call to action to protect ourselves against them. The following is a short list of threats that I identified on a recent trip to the video store.

1) Asteroid Impact. Armageddon highlights how limited our ability to deal with this threat could be. It turns out that we are not even actively scanning the skies for asteroids, and by the time we notice one it could be too late.

2) Sudden, severe climate change. The Day After Tomorrow was overly dramatic, but it was based on projections by scientists of what could happen if global warming continues. We need every student in our country to attend cold weather survival training in Alaska.

3) Rise of the Machines. With no proselytized Terminator robot to help us, we may be doomed. The Pentagon is looking to field unmanned ground vehicles by 2015, and we already used unmanned aerial drones equipped with rockets. Look for Amish people to be viewed as much cooler after the attack.

4) Mutant monsters. We were fortunate in the early Godzilla movies that he chose Japan, but the Matthew Broderick version showed us what could happen if New York became a target. We currently have no natural predators for giant reptiles. This is an area that geneticists need to explore.

5) Alien takeover. Independence Day was not enough to get America scared straight. NASA needs to do less stupid experiments and more anti-flying saucer artillery drills. Lube up for your alien probing if they don't.

6) Zombie invasion. Iraq has shown us that even an impressive military can stumble in the face of an a foe lacking technology, but possessing strength in numbers. Think about the destruction the Land of the Dead zombies could have caused if they implemented suicide bombers. I am not trying to compare insurgents to zombies, but their hygiene habits are similar.

7) A Stephen King's The Stand-style super virus would ravage the world, though in all probability the old would die first and there would be a kick ass, if briefly lived, unsupervised youth party.

Each of these scenarios could be crippling, but what if you combine two or more? What if aliens invaded, and then the machines took over their machines and ours to launch their rebellion? What if a large asteroid killed off half of the earth and in the process introduced a virus into the atmosphere that started turning people into zombies?

Thinning the herd, the natural way.

Source:" Adults who get chickenpox for the first time get a much more serious disease than do children. But even for children, chickenpox isn't a walk in the park. And every once in a while, a child gets a very serious form of the disease. One in 50,000 kids gets a brain infection that causes retardation or death. And itchy chickenpox blisters can get infected with dangerous bacteria."

So that is the risk from getting small pox as a kid...What are the risks of the vaccination?

According to the CDC (on page two)

"Moderate Problems
Seizure (jerking or staring) caused by fever (less than 1 person out of 1,000).

Severe Problems

Pneumonia (very rare)
Other serious problems, including severe brain reactions and low blood count, have been reported after chickenpox vaccination. These happen so rarely experts cannot tell whether they are caused by the vaccine or not. If they are, it is extremely rare."

How rare? 1 in 49,999?

Of course the doctors are raging mad and are upset that you are finding way to cut then out of the money loop. They will use fear to get you back in line.... ""Imagine losing a child because you were dumb enough to bring him to a pox party," Gershon says."

The problem i have with that statement is that you kids is about as likely to die from the vaccine as from the actual disease. He is using blatant scare tactics whose facts directly conflict with the information earlier in the article. Imagine if you were dumb enough to allow you child to get the vaccination in the first place?

I am not saying it is a good idea to take you kid to these parties, but we do not understand everything about the human body. We don't even know why white kids is suburbia get allergies, i doubt it is because they have been locked away in their homes and have never experienced any foreign substance.



Source:"The class action case, certified Wednesday, includes an estimated 10,000 current and former hourly workers and about 1,000 low-level management employees in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming and parts of Texas.

The suit contends the delivery service paid thousands of current and former minority employees less than their white counterparts, passed over them for promotions and gave minorities poor work evaluations.

James Finberg, an attorney representing the class, said FedEx normally promotes from within, yet three times the number of package handlers and loaders are minorities compared to drivers, who earn more. Twice the number of minorities fail promotional tests than do whites, Finberg added.

"FedEx knows that black and Hispanics fail at a much higher rate, but yet has not changed the test," Finberg said."

First, I would like to point out the odd fact that Tennessee is not mentioned in the list of states that are included in the class action lawsuit. I think this is odd for several reasons. One, Fedex is based in Memphis, TN. They also have several main areas of distribution, which means a large number of workers in Memphis are associated with FedEx. Two the demographics of Memphis. Memphis is about 60 percent African American. If there was going to be discrimination I doubt it would be everywhere but their backyard.

Secondly, Finberg wants FedEx to change the test. To me that does not get more absurd. I wish my professors changed my tests to be easier in college so that I would have gotten higher grades, but they did not.



As America sees record numbers of new millionaires (see posts on Justus for All) the poverty rate also continues to increase. America has the highest poverty rate of any industrialized nation, and it continues to slowly climb each year. According to the US Census, the poverty rate was 11.7% in 2001, and up to 12.7% by 2004 (the latest figures). This shows wealth being concentrated in the hands of a smaller elite. When the upper class and the impoverished class both continue to grow, the middle class necessarily decreases. This effect is more pronounced in the rest of the world. Between 1989 and 1998, the number of people living in Latin America on two dollars a day or less grew from 33.7% to 35.8%. This number is even worse taking into consideration that those are real dollars, not inflation adjusted.

UPDATE: As an example I lifted this chart from the IMF webpage. It shows growth in per capita income for all people in the world, but more striking is the growing difference in the income of the upper quartile and lower quartile. Not shown is a chart of inflation to compare this against. Also, it is noted on the IMF website that although this chart gives the impression that all per capita incomes have increased, some poor countries have actually seen an inflation adjusted decrease in per capita income. Others have seen a real decrease in actual dollars. I am still looking for a chart that breaks down exactly how much wealth is controlled by the upper quartile versus the other three.