Friday, July 31, 2009

Well, isn't this interesting...

...rock guitar legend Eric Clapton doing the old Don Williams hit "Tulsa Time," at Deep Tracks, Sirius Ch. 16. I'd heard Clapton was a country fan here and there, but I didn't expect this. Pretty good, though. A bit faster and more guitar-driven than the DW record, but I like it. I wonder what else Mr. Clapton listens to in his spare time...

One more reason Ron White is the man....

Just heard this bit on Sirius, and I laughed my ass off!

"I did not know that about myself." ROTFLMAO!

There's so much left unsaid and un-discussed here...

...that it's just not even funny...

WASHINGTON — Texas Democratic lawmakers Thursday defended President Barack Obama's stimulus package against criticism from Republican leaders, saying Texas is making economic progress with the help of recovery funds.
Texas state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, said that without the $16.5 billion in funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, steep cuts would have been made to the state's budget.
“We would have been in severe trouble if we had not had it,” Van de Putte told reporters in a Democratic National Committee-sponsored conference call.
Van de Putte said the stimulus money has led to the creation of about 69,000 transportation jobs, an $800 pay raise for public school teachers and accounts for $1.7 billion in other education funds.

So what happens when that money is spent? Another stimulus? Austin pols jetting back to Washington for another handout? And about those 69,000 jobs...I'm sure Ms. Van de Putte will forgive those of us who are skeptical about that. I suppose Jim Dunnam has a point about the state having to borrow money to pay unemployment benefits, but that is just as much the fault of him and his fellow legislators as it is the governor, because the Legislature didn't even think about certain ways to raise funds for the budget -- because of the stimulus money. And those methods would have been, again, another one of those ongoing infusions of cash into the economy as opposed to a one-time thing. And Mr Dunnam says Perry's out of touch with reality? I wonder if he's familiar with the phenomenon of projection...

Yep, that's the way it's done...


A male teen was fatally shot and two others are in custody after they apparently confronted a delivery driver late last night in southeast Houston.
The shooting occurred about 11 p.m. Thursdayin the 8600 block of Martin Luther King Blvd.
The teen, who has not been identified, was shot at least once, police said.
Investigators said a vendor was delivering products to a store when three confronted him and asked him to give them some of the items. He refused and they began beating him.
The vendor pulled out a handgun and shot one of them.

But remember folks, you don't need to carry a gun because the police will protect you! They will always get there in plenty of time!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Mmm, yeah, Merle doing western swing... Willie's Place, Sirius Ch. 64: " your hearrrrt, please just remember...right or wrong, I'm still in love with you...."
I had heard about Merle Haggard's Tribute to the Best Damn Fiddle Player in the World a few times over the years, as it was the record that got George Strait interested in Western swing. I finally picked it up about eight years ago, and, just like everything else Haggard touched over his career, it was solid gold. He actually recorded it with a few members of the Texas Playboys, and you can tell by listening to it they were having a ball. With the way Haggard sang it you can tell he really loved that music, too. I was honestly surprised to find out it was still in print, but from what I remember quite a few of Haggard's albums have been reissued on cd. I highly recommend that one.
...and for you know who...all those times I sang you the fat bug song? ("Roly Poly," for the rest of y'all...) Merle Haggard's version, from this album, was the one I was singing...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Wow, stop the presses...

...because not only am I NOT fuming at Froma Harrop's typical wrongheadedness, I actually agree with every single word she writes here:

Legalizing marijuana would save billions of dollars
California's costs of enforcing the marijuana ban — policing, the courts, jail time — at $981 million a year. Nationally, legalizing marijuana would save $7.7 billion a year on drug-war spending, according to Miron. And it could raise $6.2 billion annually in tax revenues.
A vain hope rose that President Obama's naming of Gil Kerlikowske as drug czar would lead to a more rational policy on drugs. As Seattle's police chief, Kerlikowske oversaw the city's annual Hempfest (a giant and mellow smoke-in) without bothering the celebrants.
But Kerlikowske announced this month that “marijuana is dangerous and has no medicinal benefit.” And to end any idea that the hip, liberal Obama administration would ease up on pot, he added, “Legalization is not in the president's vocabulary, and it's not in mine.”
A bill to “tax and regulate” marijuana like alcohol now before the California legislature has strong support. But it's not going anywhere as long as “legalization” is not in Obama's vocabulary. The word “hypocrisy” has apparently made the cut.

Yep, that's pretty much the long and short of it. One would think as enlightened libertarian types, the people in charge would start trying to pull us out of this Reefer Madness mentality. I guess it just goes to show you they're every bit the closed-minded authoritarian pricks they proclaim conservatives to be.

What was it I was just saying...

...about how the government spins job creation by way of federal grant money?

PORTLAND, Ore. — How much are politicians straining to convince people that the government is stimulating the economy? In Oregon, where lawmakers are spending $176 million to supplement the federal stimulus, Democrats are taking credit for a remarkable feat: creating 3,236 new jobs in the program's first three months.
But those jobs lasted on average only 35 hours, or about one work week. After that, those workers were effectively back unemployed, according to an Associated Press analysis of state spending and hiring data. By the state's accounting, a job is a job, whether it lasts three hours, three days, three months, or a lifetime.
At the federal level, President Barack Obama has said the federal stimulus has created 150,000 jobs, a number based on a misused formula and which is so murky it can't be verified.

Wow. Of course, none of this is surprising, as anyone with any grasp of economics knows. This sort of thing has often been likened to filling the deep end of the swimming pool by dipping water from the shallow end, and you could say that's more or less exactly what it is. I don't know who in the hell thought a one-time shot of money into the economy, especially one of this nature, was going to make for a sustained economic boost. Wouldn't tax cuts work better for that, considering they're effectively a multiple-year, sustained injection of money into the economy? Or is that the evil capitalist in me talking?

Just a question...

...raised by reading this story...
When that tiny town of Anguilla, Mississippi spends all that federal money to hire those cops, and they don't have any more to spend on those cops' salaries...what then? What I'm about to remember here has an admittedly biased source, but everyone remembers back in the 1990s when Bill Clinton was pushing his crime bill he was saying it would put 100,000 more cops on the streets? Well, I remember Rush Limbaugh saying that those 100,000 cops would only be on the streets for one year. I don't know where he got that, but it did make sense to me considering the money was going to run out sooner or later. And I seem to recall that number amounted to significantly less staffing increases when the money appropriated by the bill was finally doled out. Why is no one talking about any of that?

Another demonstration of 'when seconds count..."

"...the police are only minutes away..."

GRANTS PASS, Ore. — Everett Skinner and his family have started keeping their windows closed at night after a bear broke into their southwest Oregon home and he fatally shot it.
The bear ripped off a window screen and climbed into their den Saturday night, Skinner said.
Skinner's daughter Nicole awoke at about 11:30 p.m. to a strange shuffling sound and was the first to spot the bruin. She quickly retreated to her parents' room to get help.
Everett Skinner grabbed his shotgun and went to the den, where he and the bear saw each other at about the same time. He said the animal stood up and headed toward him, so he fired.

But remember, friends, Paul Helmke and Michael Beard say we don't need guns because it's the police's job to protect us! After all, they're the only ones professional enough! And of course we all know if Mr. Skinner had just given the bear what he wanted instead of shot him, everything would still have turned out juuuust fine....

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

There is so much I could say... Nick Anderson's most recent asininity, but Bill Whittle does it so much better here that I'll just direct you to him.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised at this...

...but still, I find it rather disheartening (emphasis mine -- ed.):

Many Republicans point to Sotomayor's stance on gun rights as a key reason they're voting against her. They complain that she refused to weigh in during her confirmation hearings on whether the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms applies to states as well as the federal government, a question on which the high court has yet to rule. Sotomayor was part of an appeals court panel that said this year that the amendment doesn't restrict state laws, citing previous Supreme Court precedent.
The National Rifle Association, which was slow to announce its opposition to Sotomayor and initially hung back from threatening senators against voting for her, announced last week that it would "score" her confirmation vote, calling her "hostile" to the Second Amendment. That means the NRA will include the vote on Sotomayor in its annual candidate ratings, which heavily influence voters in key battleground states.
Republicans and Democrats from conservative-leaning states generally fear bucking the NRA, and strategists speculate that the group's opposition has tipped the balance for some GOP senators who might otherwise have considered supporting Sotomayor. No Democrat has announced plans to vote no.
A group of Hispanic House Democrats wrote to NRA leaders Monday urging the group to reconsider its stance, saying it was putting some senators in an untenable position by forcing them to choose between defying the gun lobby and infuriating Hispanic constituents.

Wow. The NRA is actually going to grade senators this time around based on their votes for an anti-gun Supreme Court pick, and these Hispanic House Dems are asking them not to do that -- not based on her actual position, but on her race. And you know that's exactly the reason for this when you cut through the crap. Sotomayor shouldn't get a pass on her positions any more than a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant male would, and these Hispanic lawmakers should be ashamed of themselves for basically telling the NRA that she should. It just goes to show, I guess, that certain members of other racial groups don't really mind discrimination if it works for them as opposed to against them. Like I say, I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but it's still rather disgusting.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Texas Democratic Candidate for Senate Calls Out Houston Mayor...

...for supporting Mike Bloomberg's Mayors Against Guns:

(AUSTIN) — United States Senate candidate John Sharp today called on opponent Bill White to immediately denounce his position in a national anti-gun coalition founded by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, saying that the Houston Mayor’s continued membership in the group is a threat to the rights of law-abiding Texans to own guns.
“Mr. White’s war on guns is already making it impossible for him to be elected statewide in Texas,” Sharp said. “He should immediately disassociate himself from this anti-gun group so he doesn’t also hurt the chances of other Democrats running for public office.”
Sharp said a measure in the U.S. Senate last week that would have allowed legal gun owners with valid permits to carry concealed weapons from one state to another failed by just two votes after fierce opposition from the group, known as Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

Maybe it is just a political move, but it's still good to see. I hope if Sharp gets elected he sticks to his guns, so to speak.

In which I sing the praises of social networking sites

You might remember me ruminating on the use of a certain social-networking site not long ago in this space. But as you'll see, I don't think all of those type sites are for, as I referred to them, narcissistic blowhards.
I set up a MySpace account not long ago, and I've had a Facebook account for close to 4 years now. Well, late last week on Facebook I reconnected with an old teacher whose act of kindness when I was in about the third grade stuck with me all through the years. I was in the first few days at a new school, alone and quite bashful. I remember she was watching me those days, and she eventually called me over, asked me my name, introduced herself and talked to me. I don't remember what all was said (remember now, this was a good 20-plus years ago), but that stuck with me. I remembered she left the school not long after that, and I remember I hated that because she was so nice to me. Every so often between then and now I'd wonder whatever became of her. When I saw her picture on Facebook I thought, "I'd recognize that face anywhere." So I contacted her and wonder of wonders, she did remember me, and those days at the new school. I thought that was amazing.
And just yesterday, on MySpace, I reconnected with an old friend from the hometown that I hadn't spoken with in almost three years, and hadn't seen for longer than that. She actually said she still spoke of me often and wondered whatever became of me. It made me feel really good to know that, especially with all the crap that's been going on here in the last few months. I needed it. So yeah, those social networking sites do have a use...though I still don't get Twitter, with its obvious limitations.

You knew it would be 'for teh childrenses'...

...but still...

Police will be allowed to order blood drawn from a person suspected of driving while intoxicated without judicial review under certain circumstances, including instances in which the suspect is a repeat offender, a passenger died or in which a child under 15 was a passenger in the vehicle.
...isn't this sort of thing blatantly unconstitutional? See the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
I am not usually sympathetic to what a defense attorney has to say, but Doug Murphy is exactly right when he says that if you put too much power in one agency it will run amok. (see: The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms)
And of course the prosecutor would cite public safety as the overriding concern here. One wonders what other parts of the Bill of Rights he would suspend in the name of that. The Second Amendment immediately comes to mind, especially considering that certain other cities have done just that. And then I'm sure the Fifth Amendment has caused him all sorts of trouble too.
Then there's the law prof's mention that the Supreme Court has ruled in the past that this sort of thing is hunky-dory. Tell me again, the value of following the stare decisis doctrine...?

(Welcome, visitors from! Main page is here, pull up a seat & stay a while!)

More illegal drug-related death... Austin:

AUSTIN — A 19-year-old accused marijuana dealer told Austin police that he fatally shot a young couple from Houston in their condominium near the University of Texas last week to avoid paying the male victim thousands of dollars in drug money.
Police charged James Richard “Ricky” Thompson, from the Austin area, with two counts of capital murder in the July 21 shooting deaths of Stacy Marie Barnett, 22, and John Forest Goosey, 21, a young Houston couple that had just earned degrees from UT.

But remember, friends, it's better that popular mind-altering substances less dangerous than alcohol remain illegal, because, well, drugs'r'bad, hmkayy?
I really do wonder though, how many people look at this and blame the "easy availability of guns" as opposed to the insane drug laws in place in this country today. That couple might well have still have gotten shot, but it does deserve to be pointed out that if weed was legal and the guy who shot the couple had worked in a legit distribution channel he'd have had some form of legal recourse. I don't mean for that to sound as though I would justify his actions, though. For what he did he deserves to die and it's just that simple to me. But I don't see anything wrong with pointing out the circumstances, how they didn't have to be the way they were, and that they're only this way because our elected officials are either ignorant, a bunch of chickenshits, or both.

Ted, you're my hero, dude...

...because of comments like this:

I'm not at all surprised that B. Woodman is doing better with his 2 year Electronics degree than someone who went to Wellesley for a 4 year Medieval Lit degree.

I'm discussing with the Mrs. sending them to Vo-tech, and spotting them the difference in education cost to start their own business. Not sure if this is what we'll do, but it looks like the big universities are very near pulling every penny in future added salary out of their students. Not bad for a bunch of Marxists who all hate capitalism ...

and this:
I'm happy to explain it to the European Union "President":

Unlike the EU, we have an actual government, which is actually elected by the people. Since the people think that scum like these should not be around to be released from prison by a bunch of noblesse-oblige bureaucrats, we still use the - very popular - death penalty.

The scandal in the USA is that only 1000 of these animals have met justice.

The scandal in the EU is that unelected bureaucrats feel free to flout the very popular death penalty. Since the phony EU government is unelected in any meaningful way, the people in the EU get shafted. That's the scandal there.

And since the EU "president" is president of a phony government with about as much legitimacy as the local Kiwanis, we'll give his statement precisely as much attention as it deserves.

Apologies to the Kiwanis who, unlike the EU, actually do some good in the world.

No need to thank me, I was happy to help.

If you did not have a blog, friend, I'd hound you till you started one...LOLOL

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A harbinger of things to come, maybe... colleges and universities across the nation...

A record number of Houston ISD students are now classified as “gifted and talented” — an increase spurred by changes in how the school district tests and enrolls children in so-called Vanguard programs.
Some parents said this recent round of changes has watered down the Vanguard program. The district's brightest children are opting for private school because they aren't given seats in HISD's top programs or they don't find the classes rigorous enough.
In this era of standardized testing, many school districts have struggled to serve gifted children, Courtright said.
“Most teachers have given up some of their most creative activities and learning experiences because they're focused on doing the drills to prepare students for the test,” Courtright said. “They know what they would like to do, but they can't take the risk of the children not performing well on the test.”
Wouldn't they call this sort of thing "creative accounting" if it was done with money instead of kids? Hell, maybe even "Enron-style accounting" if the company in question failed big enough. I wonder if this is how they're going to try to get more kids in college too. It wouldn't surprise me in the least -- but a worthy question, again, is how many of those kids would be better off learning a trade. That may be where their true talents lie, and with programs that work like this those talents won't be nurtured and who knows what's going to happen? It'll be interesting to see what the college dropout rate looks like as the education changes get rolling on the state and federal level.

(Full disclosure time: I am by no means saying trade schools are for dummies -- far from it. Hell, you can look at some of the skills required for welders, plumbers, pipefitters and the like and it's quite obvious they all require a great modicum of intelligence and common sense. And you know what else? I have a college degree and with some of the salaries some of these trades pay I wish I had gone the trade school route because what I do doesn't pay shit. And if you'll remember, reader K.D. had this to say just yesterday:
"Those of us in the 'trenches' encourage our kids to get training after high school and many times, I suggest schools such as the electrical lineman school or the truck driving school at LIT. These kids now make more than I do, and I hold a master's."
That pretty much speaks for itself. Now, back to your regularly scheduled rant...)

And as far as the Houston program is concerned it would be fun to find out what college administrators who read this story will be thinking when they come upon an app from a student who graduated from this program....
...i.e., "This kid graduated from a gifted-and-talented program that administrators changed from the traditional method just to get more people in it to eliminate certain discrepancies whose only relevance was sociopolitical, not necessarily just because that traditional method wasn't working. They eliminated preferential admission for top-scoring gifted students, and we have parents here transferring their kids out of the program because they didn't feel the classes were demanding enough anymore after those changes were made."
I hate to call it "affirmative action," because that says something blatantly unfair and untrue about the kids who didn't make it in before. But this sort of thing just reeks of affirmative action's very worst stereotype. I could be way the hell off base, but it just doesn't seem to me that they're doing the GT program or the kids any favors. Again, I don't mean to say the kids that didn't make it in before the changes were made were stupid. They're just likely smart in ways the traditional GT curriculum wasn't meant to nurture, and there's not a thing wrong with that. I don't understand why Houston ISD administrators couldn't have found a better way to serve those kids.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Yet another lesson, maybe...

I find myself watching NCIS yet again, the episode in which Special Agent Caitlin Todd meets her demise at the hands of a sniper -- using a bolt-action .308 Winchester, perhaps not one that much different than Grandpa's old deer rifle the gun-control advocates say they don't want to take away. And, of course, said sniper has the shit scared out of everyone in the agency as he's stalking them. Jim Zumbo, way back when, said, "an assault rifle is a terrifying thing." How terrifying is it, though, to be stalked by someone who can put lead between your eyes from 300-plus yards away? And were such a campaign undertaken in the wake of some confiscation scheme, how long would it take for the, shall we say, more tame gun-control groups to start demanding their confiscation too?

Random hits from being out 'n' about....

When you're wondering why you don't have frigid air coming out of your truck's A/C vent, it helps to check the temp control -- and even more to flip it all the way to cold.
I hadn't been to Chick-Fil-A in years before today. It was expensive for fast food, but really good. I could get used to those waffle fries.
I saw something today I didn't expect to see. I'm sure you all know the stereotype of the Mac user, right? Tree-hugging pinkos and the like? Well, I went to one of the authorized Apple service providers in Beaumont today, to inquire about a new battery for my MacBook. I pulled up beside a Toyota truck, and it had an Apple decal in one corner of the back window...and an NRA sticker in the other corner. That was something I never thought I'd see. I bet the driver and I would get along well if we ever met. ;-)

"My intentions are true, won't you take me with you..."

"...and baby, you can sleep while I drive..."
I remember that Melissa Etheridge song being a very minor hit for Trisha Yearwood about 14 years ago. Well, I say minor hit...I think the only place I heard it was on Country Music Television when they played the video. And I just heard the original on Sirius. Not bad at all, but I still like the Trisha Yearwood version better.

Something else I never thought I'd see...

First, the lead graf to this story...

WASHINGTON — Texas Sen. John Cornyn announced Friday he will vote against Judge Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation as the first Hispanic on the U.S. Supreme Court, even though the decision could carry political risks among his Latino constituents.

And then, a comment:
Is the author actually suggesting that Latino voters are so narrowly focused on superficial properties (like the color of the Senators skin) that they are incapable of weighing issues on the merits of their positions? The very suggestion that a Latino voters only see skin color as criteria to the high court is in itself a racist suggestion. Latinos can think for themselves, they have moral standards, they can make value judgments based on the merits of the argument, they are capable of intellectual honesty. I'm tired of the MSM portraying us as disparate, ignorant groups of bigots who are incapable of making decisions based on reality rather than superficiality.

I am not really sure what to make of this observation. I don't know that the writer of the story was trying to make it sound as if Latinos put ethnicity at the top of the list for qualifications to the high court, but unless Latinos are the solid liberal voting bloc as might be suggested by their problem with many GOP positions -- and I am not so sure this is the case, considering from what I've read many Latinos are actually more conservative than their voting record would suggest -- then I don't know how the journalist was really that far off the mark. How else would one explain Senator Fischer's remark that Cornyn's "no vote will be a symbolic gesture to the largest growing demographic in Texas"? I got a kick out of another commenter basically referring to this:
Cornyn said he remained puzzled by Sotomayor's positions on the Second Amendment right to gun possession, government taking of private property and expanding constitutional rights based on foreign law...
as "baseless reasons." They look pretty legitimate to me. Especially (speaking of property rights) in light of this.
On a related note, a bit of googling brings me to this:
Kelo is now a precedent of the court. I must follow it. I am bound by a circuit — a Supreme Court decision, as a 2nd Circuit judge. As a Supreme Court judge, I must give it the deference that the doctrine of stare decisis would suggest.

I know I'm going to get in all sorts of trouble for this, but I really do wonder if she'd have given Dred Scott v. Sandford or Plessy v. Ferguson the deference they were due according to the stare decisis doctrine. Like I've said before, I can understand that doctrine. I can see how it maintains consistency in the law. But how long are we willing to tolerate decisions like the one handed down in Kelo v. New London? Why must it be assumed that every single decision handed down by the Supreme Court really upholds the Constitution when even a cursory glance at history will tell you that isn't the case? And why in the hell does no one ever talk about that either?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Funny stuff right here...

I like a lot of the acts the author of this comment to this story mentioned as Rock & Roll HOF inductees, but I do see exactly where he's coming from...

Just a sampling of the credibility of the “The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame”…
Not Inducted (meeting all criteria): Deep Purple, Bad Company, Cheap Trick, Supertramp, ELP, The Hollies, Badfinger, Blind Faith, The Moody Blues, Squeeze, Peter Frampton, Humble Pie, Little Feat, Kansas, ELO, The Scorpions, Sweet, Boston, The Cars, Nazareth. REO Speedwagon, Sammy Hagar, Steve Winwood, Joan Armatrading, Thin Lizzy, Yes & Judas Priest.
Inducted: LaVern Baker, Madonna, Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, Aretha Franklin, The Jackson Five, Michael Jackson, James Taylor, Little Walter, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Floyd Cramer, Parliament/Funkadelic, Etta James, Pete Seeger, Bessie Smith, Joni Mitchell, Miles Davis, Mahalia Jackson, Percy Sledge, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five…freaking Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five!!!

Quite a revealing list there, indeed. And even with the artists/bands I don't like that have and have not been inducted I can certainly give them their due as deserving. I do wonder how many of the inductees got to be that way for political reasons, and not necessarily just Dem/Rep/right- or left-wing. Food for thought...

I know he means well...

...but Clarence Page comes off as a little bit myopic here. I'm guessing he thinks all those attendees of the two-year college should be on a four-year degree track, which isn't a bad goal on the surface, but where does that leave trades like plumbing, welding, machining and such? It's always seemed to me that classes for those trades -- vo-tech classes or whatever you call them -- have gotten an unfairly bad rap, because in some cases that particular track can be every bit as lucrative as a college degree. And there are reasons for that. It seems to me that no one who's talking about higher-ed talks about that, and I haven't the foggiest idea as to why.

How many antis would say...

....that this was a legitimate defensive gun use...

An intruder might have managed to dodge a bullet and escape early this morning after trying to break into the apartment of a Houston police officer, who fired once, officials said.

...because of who the tenant was? That pisses me right the hell off. Why is his life worth more just because he wears a badge? Have none of those people ever heard of Sir Robert Peel's Nine Principles? Specifically No. 7?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Another random musical observation...

I haven't heard that many songs from Mott the Hoople, but damn, am I glad that "All The Young Dudes" was different than everything else I've heard from them. That song blows chunks, if you'll pardon the expression. I'd hate to have found out it was representative of their entire catalog.

Computer literacy has its advantages... shown here:

Q. My kid has MySpace IM that automatically pops up when the computer is starting up.Since she has done that, the computer is freezing up and is really really slow. How do I get rid of that altogether?
A:...It seems that the first thing that kids like to do when they get hold of our computers is to run out and install all of these little programs so they can chat and cavort with their friends, not realizing that they can sometimes cause an awful mess.

Yes indeed, but who leaves that door open in the first place? The first thing I'd be doing if I had kids and got a new computer would be to set them up with their own accounts -- ones that don't allow them to run out, download and install all that crap on them that slows them down. I wonder how many parents out there just get it out of the box, turn it on and leave it at that, letting the kids do to it what they will. More of them do that than not, no doubt about it. It'd be interesting to see the kids' reaction.
"But I wanna taaaaaallllk to my frieeeeends!"
"Well, ok. Here." *hands kid the phone*
Or, in the case of the friends living nearby, "Get on your bike and go see 'em."
"But that...I can't play on the computer that way!"
"And your point?"

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Man, they're rollin' here lately...

...the folks over at Country California, that is...this is good, and this is even better!
"...he was rubbing his chin and looking all reflective, like he thought he was coming up with that sh*t for the first time or saying something really deep or something. " ROTFLMAO!

This might be a bit controversial...

...but it's what I think and I can't really help that...
Reading this story...

A Montgomery County jury's recent decision to sentence a paroled murderer to life in prison is a comfort to the widow of the man he killed nearly 25 years ago, she said Tuesday.
Brian Keith Balentine received a life sentence last week for a March 2008 shoplifting case in Conroe. Prosecutors and Balentine's defense lawyer said the August 1984 murder of Leroy Larson, disclosed during the punishment phase of the trial, played a decisive role in the jury's decision. Balentine, 43, will return to a Texas prison, joining his older brother, who was also convicted in Larson's slaying.
“These are mean people,“ said the woman once known as Marilyn Larson. “Whatever happened to make them the way they are, I don't know, but, they should not be on the street.“

...really set the stage for me to get good and riled when I read this one...
LUCASVILLE, Ohio — A man who went on a 1992 Christmas holiday killing spree that left six people dead, including an 18-year-old mother gunned down at a pay phone, was executed Tuesday, the state's second execution in two weeks and the 1,000th lethal injection in the U.S. since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.
The European Union presidency, currently held by Sweden, released a statement noting the number and calling on the U.S. to halt executions, pending the abolition of the death penalty.
"The European Union is opposed to the use of capital punishment in all cases and under all circumstances," the statement said. "We believe that the abolition of the death penalty is essential to protect human dignity, and to the progressive development of human rights."
The death penalty is abolished in the European Union, and the United Nations General Assembly has called upon all countries that use it to stop executions and end the practice.

Human dignity? Human rights? Sorry, but this is wrong. Creatures who do things like what was discussed in these two stories have lost all rights to be called human. I would say these people are animals, but they're even worse than that -- because, for example, if you get mauled by a mountain lion, well, that lion's just reacting as per his natural instinct, and the same can't be said of Messrs. Balentine and Keene. None of this is to say they should be tortured and such, but when you do things like what these creatures did, you've forfeited your right to live. And if those in progressive, tolerant, oh-so-enlightened Europe don't agree, well, that's their problem. I do find their whinging about "human dignity" and "the development of human rights" rather hypocritical considering that, for example, if I were walking down a London avenue and some street thug came up, whipped out a knife and demanded my cell phone and iPod, I would have no other legal option than to "just give him what he wants" because if I resisted I might well get in trouble with the authorities. What about MY dignity? What about MY rights? To say nothing of the people who actually find themselves in such situations...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pull out the chainsaw here...

...'cause the hypocrisy's so thick here, you'd need that to cut it...

DALLAS — Black and white extremists are expected to demonstrate Tuesday in an eastern Texas town where murder charges were dropped against two white men accused in the death of a black friend run over by a vehicle and dragged beneath it.
Like a demonstration staged last month to protest the dismissal of charges, Tuesday's rally is likely to include the black power salutes and Nazi symbols typical of such clashes. The angry rhetoric already has begun.
"Caucasians in Paris must understand that they are the reason for Paris being the center of unsavory attention," one black protest leader, Jimmy Blackwell of the Tarrant County Local Organizing Committee, wrote in an editorial published last week in The Paris News. "We welcome the KKK because we want the world to see how real Americans act."

The KKK is representative of Real Americans? White people -- ALL the white people in Paris, no less -- are the reason for the attention the town's getting? And so many people, no doubt he included, have been telling us all not to paint people with such a broad brush? Cripes, what a thoroughgoing asshole. It brings to mind a piece of Bill Whittle's Sanctuary essay from a few years ago...
"I can't pretend to understand this. It is simply beyond my ability to grasp. Nor can I understand why so many rich people who so hate and despise this land do not simply move somewhere else."
Now how rich this bigoted asshole Jimmy Blackwell may be I do not know, but the point still stands. If he really sees that as the way things really are, if all the good is the exception to the rule...then what the hell is he still doing here?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Straw man alert..., seen at Country California:

I would hazard a guess that some members of the rabid keep-it-country purist crowd are also angry Yankee-haters and those who are suspicious of anyone who appears to be from somewhere else.

I would hazard a guess that Chet Flippo is still a flaming asshole -- with, apparently, a huge supply of a certain agricultural byproduct hidden somewhere or another, considering the size of the straw man he sets up in his column and what he uses to support said straw man. I don't think I'll ever quite understand those who accuse the traditionalists of saying the genre shouldn't evolve. Who is saying or implying this? I'd bet you a lot of those folks' tastes are more varied than people like Chet Flippo would give them credit for. No doubt the purists have been raising hell about the newer artists probably at least since the first amp was plugged in, but like I said over at CC, why does Chet Flippo seem to think it’s so wrong for people like me to think evolution of the genre shouldn’t be duets with ’80s rock acts like Def Leppard and the B-52s? And pointing to Willie Nelson’s duet with Julio Iglesias? Is this where I'm supposed to say, vis-a-vis my own position, quod erat demonstrandum? Because to put it mildly I thought that was a low point in the Red-Headed Stranger’s catalog. And Jennifer Nettles and Bon Jovi? I am sure you might be able to figure out what I think of that considering I am a fan of bands like Queensryche, Megadeth and Pantera. (Actually, I really don’t hate the hair metal, I just find it more than a little banal after hearing the more traditional metal.) And of course, the tune that was playing here one day comes to mind...

Well the folk scene's dead, but he's holdin' out in the village
He's been writin' songs speakin' out against wealth and privilege
He says 'I dont believe in money but a man could make him a killin'
'Cause some of that stuff don't sound much different than Dylan
I hear down there it's changed you see, they're not as backward as they used to be
He's gone country

...that is, washed-up singer from another genre looks to Nashville and sees the cash cow being milked, gets the dollar signs in his eyes and off he goes. It isn’t the evolution of the genre that’s the problem. It’s the bastardization of it. Really, what's next? A "country" cover of "Silent Lucidity," "Bringing On the Heartbreak" or "Nothing Else Matters"? And where exactly do the Texas-red dirt artists fit into Chet's paradigm? It seems to me he'd think they're holding the genre back, considering what he's advocating and how he supports it. And I guess I shouldn't be surprised considering where Chet Flippo's been for the last 30 years or however long it's been, but it's still very disappointing. Keeping in mind his earlier definition of "country" as "something that shows up on the Billboard country charts," I have to ask, who exactly is the narrow-minded contingent here?

One of the bright spots from mainstream '80s rock... Outlaw Country, Sirius Ch. 63: "Now every mornin' just before breakfast, I don't want no coffee or tea...just me and my good Buddy-Weiser, that's all I ever need, 'cause I drink alone..."
I suppose a lot of folks might be aghast at that song being played on a supposedly country channel, but I can sort of see why this song would be here -- it may be straight-up rock and roll, but it does have a heavy blues influence, and a pretty good country vibe to it. I could almost see one of the Texas-red dirt artists doing it. And it never was that far from blues to country to begin with. I got my fill of "Bad to the Bone" a long time ago, but I still love George Thorogood.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Coming Full Circle

Out in the boat today, my stepdad had his iPod. One of the albums he had on it was Van Halen's 1978 self-titled debut. I played it loud, and both my mother and I were singing along. I found out today that my mother had that LP record when it came out, as well as the eight-track apparently, because she told me that I sang along with that album in her Z28 Camaro that she was driving when I was but a toddler, standing in the back seat. She told me that my favorite cut was "Runnin' With the Devil." (Nowadays it's "You Really Got Me" -- with "Eruption" as the song's intro, of course.) I got a huge kick out of that. Funny how I find myself listening to that music now, coming full circle more than 30 years later...

More Random Short Takes: Journey & David Allan Coe

Journey sucks. Ten flavors of ass, and no offense to those of you who like them. Steve Perry was a major part of the reason for that. I can't imagine why anyone would wanna hear him singing solo.
On the other hand, while I do prefer Gary P. Nunn's version of "London Homesick Blues," David Allan Coe's version was very, very good.

More rock cover short takes -- Thin Lizzy, Skynyrd and Metallica

I love Lynyrd Skynyrd. "Tuesday's Gone" is my all-time favorite song from them, as I've mentioned before. And of course I love Metallica. So their cover of "Tuesday's Gone" might sound cool, yes?
Not so much. They just seemed way the hell out of their element. The same friend who told me once upon a time that the Load records were crap, told me that Skynyrd cover was "Metallica doing redneck music." And keeping in mind he was a fan of bands like Pantera, Maiden and the like, I'm sure you could imagine the tone in which he said it. I sorta didn't agree with that then, but now that I like that classic metal a lot more, I understand exactly where he was coming from -- even though I still love that "redneck music."
On the other hand, "Whiskey in the Jar" just sucks. Both the Thin Lizzy original and the Metallica cover. I don't know what the hell they were thinking when they pulled that one out. But then on the whole the older Garage Days records beat the living hell out of the new stuff the guys recorded to re-release with those older songs. I did like their interpretation of "Turn the Page" and the Mercyful Fate medley, though.

"...and that's the way it's ALWAYS been..."

Oh, man, this is rich.
I saw this essay from the Associated Press, and I just had to shake my head, for more reasons than one...

...Barely a generation has passed since Walter Cronkite disappeared from our evenings. But the notion of one man — a single, authoritative, empathetic man, morally reassuring and mild of temper — wrapping up the world after dinner for America seems incalculably quaint in the technological coliseum that is 21st-century communications.

We are now confronted with a rushing, 24-hour river of information, much of it chaotic and raw, with no one to shepherd us through it.
Today's model works more like this: Everyone vies to get his personalized, customized, agenda-driven version of "that's the way it is" enshrined in the cultural canon. We shout, cajole, maneuver, horse-trade. We demonize the opposition. We brand ideas as products and send them on their way, ready to do battle in the marketplace.
The coliseum is always open for business. If you've got a TV or a laptop, you're plugged in to the whole planet and can have your say. No one person can speak for us all — we don't even pretend that's the case anymore — and those who tried would be put in their places as fast as you can say Edward R. Murrow.
That can be a glorious expression of democracy, or it can lead, as it did Saturday morning, to the most e-mailed story on Yahoo! News being the one about the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile crashing into a house in Wisconsin. Democracy has a way of being quite democratic.

Oh my gosh, where does one even start with this line of crap? "No one to shepherd us" through the news to determine what's legit and what isn't? Who the hell do these people think they are? Do they think we're not smart enough to figure it out on our own? How ironic that a journalist would write something like this, as there are so many of them who know so little past the craft of journalism itself and are thus, shall we say, not really qualified themselves to "shepherd" anyone through anything.
And "agenda-driven"? I honestly don't believe anyone from a national media organization has any business whatsoever lamenting this, as they're the ones who have gotten the media to this point. How else to explain, for example, the fact that the go-to people for guns are people who would have to think about the question when you asked them which end the bullet came out of? "Agenda-driven"? TV news didn't have an agenda? I find this fatuous in the extreme, considering the fact that the anchors had less than 30 minutes every night to deliver the news. When you have those kinds of constraint forced on you, you almost HAVE to have an agenda because there's no way to deliver it all. What exactly were their qualifications to make that judgment call? Let alone, "speak for us all."
As for that most-emailed story the Associated Press journalist mentioned...that came from one of his fellow AP scribes. One wonders how he missed the irony.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

More random thoughts...

I was walking to the door of my residence this evening, with my phone clipped to one side of my blue jeans and my iPod clipped to the other (secured in a pouch like my phone -- let's just say you'll never catch me putting it in my pocket again if I can help it). What I'm about to talk about, I'd thought of this before, but I don't think I've ever thought about it from the perspective of it ever happening to me personally. So many of the anti-self-defense people will tell you to give the knife- or gun-wielding mugger what they want. In my case it might well have been what was hanging off my pockets. Which, when I thought about it, just really pissed me off. 'Cause I worked my ass off to get those. Yeah, it's just stuff, but the idea that I should just roll over and give it to somebody who threatens me with bodily injury because they're too damn lazy to go get their own, that fills me with a burning anger that words just can't describe. Who the hell do those people think they are who tell us not to defend ourselves? And why haven't they all been shunned as the dangers to civilization that they are? I just don't get it...

Something else I had almost forgotten...

...brought to you by the tune on Hair Nation, Sirius Ch. 23: "Music means a lot to me, like love I make it when I can....all I am is all I'll ever be, and that's just a boy from Texarkana..."
I remember hearing that Tesla tune on the radio way back when riding in the truck with my uncle and right before Jeff Keith belted out that line my uncle pointed at the radio and told me to listen. I think that was the first time I ever heard the town I grew up in mentioned in a song. My uncle told me that Keith went to Arkansas High School, which I later found out wasn't right -- he spent most of his childhood in Idabel, Oklahoma, about an hour northwest of T-town, and he's an Idabel HS grad. But he was born in Texarkana, which I thought was really cool.

Random hits on rock covers: G'n'R, Motley Crue, Aerosmith, the Beatles and Megadeth

From what I remember Aerosmith did the original "Mama Kin," although I could be wrong. But I like the Guns'n'Roses version a LOT better.
On the other hand, I like Aerosmith's "Come Together" much more than the Beatles original. But then, I like most Beatles covers better than the original records. Motley Crue's "Helter Skelter" is another. (I also liked MC's version of that song better than Aerosmith's.)
Speaking of the Crue...My work buddy who's a big metal fan from way back when told me Motley Crue did a cover of the Sex Pistols tune "Anarchy in the U.K." I haven't heard their version of it (or the original), but I have heard Megadeth's cover and really like it. The Megadeth records on which Dave Mustaine spoke instead of sang (ex.: "Sweating Bullets") I wasn't a big fan of, but that song is an exception. "'Cause Iiiiii wanna beeee....anarchyyyy! It's the only way to be!" Oh, hell yeah.

I suppose this might be wrong...

...but, when the name Walter Cronkite is mentioned, I don't think of his announcement of President Kennedy's assassination. I don't think of his being speechless at man landing on the moon. I don't think of his special report on Vietnam in which he declared the United States was "mired in stalemate." I think of his reaction to the tape Osama bin Laden released to the American media a few days before the November 2004 election:
"I'm a little inclined to think that Karl Rove, the political manager at the White House, who is a very clever man, he probably set up bin Laden to this thing."
That wasn't the first time I thought of him as Walter Crank-ite, either. I remember once upon a time he had a newspaper column, and it ran in the Beaumont Enterprise from time to time. And maybe I shouldn't have been surprised that he was more or less a clone of Bob Herbert, Paul Krugman and the like, but still more often than not I'd skim the column and think, "this man is one of the most respected journalists in the country and he pens this drivel?"

Friday, July 17, 2009

Liking a band for a song...

I think I might have talked about this before, albeit from a different angle (emphasis mine -- ed.)...

ZZ Top and Aerosmith come to town tonight as two bands with more than a few things in common. Both played up a certain regional pride: ZZT is that little ol' band from Texas, Aerosmith the bad boys from Boston. Both have had bunches of hits. Both were served well by MTV. Both made songs for soundtracks that were more profitable than respectable.

...but it did bring something to mind. I remember talking to an Aerosmith fan a few years ago, and we were talking about all the people who would come to the live show who were fans of the band because of songs like "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing," which wasn't really representative of the Aerosmith sound. I really do wonder sometimes how many people, for example, only liked the following bands for the following songs:
• Metallica, "Nothing Else Matters"
• Guns'n'Roses, "November Rain"
• Queensryche, "Silent Lucidity"
Of course, the folks who bought those songs' respective full-length albums were treated to some of the bands' more representative records, and I'm sure many of them liked those records too -- probably more people than, say, who were brought to the country format by the more poppy acts and ended up liking the more traditional artists -- but still I hate to think of all the people who never really got past those songs, because they missed out on some awesome music...
....sort of like the tune playing on the Boneyard, Sirius Ch. 19, as I was writing this...."Make his fight on the hill in the early day, constant chill deep inside...." Metallica's "For Whom The Bell Tolls" was my second favorite cut from Ride the Lightning after "Creeping Death." I could listen to that church bell-punctuated intro on a continuous loop for hours on end.

Making do with what you have at hand...

...this guy did it, and my hat's off to him...but it'll be interesting to see how long it'll be before certain groups start lamenting the dangers of chainsaws in national forests, and saying we should ban them, for teh childrenses....

It's also worth asking...

...why this guy was let out of prison in the first place...

Brian Keith Balentine said he had paid his debt to society.
But a Montgomery County jury thought otherwise on Thursday, sentencing the paroled murderer to life in prison for shoplifting five compact discs last year from a Wal-Mart in Conroe.
Jurors learned of Balentine's criminal past during the punishment phase of his robbery trial.
That past included murder — the shooting death 25 years ago of a man trying to protect his new wife — and for several subsequent counts of theft.

If you read on, you'll see the details of that shooting death, and what the then-teenager Mr. Balentine and his brother said they wanted to do to an innocent young woman who had just gotten married, just before they shot her husband to death as he was trying to protect her. Why was he let out? And why, again, do anti-gunners not only not have a problem with this but also want to make it more difficult for good people to protect themselves against such trash? Paid his debt to society? No, sir, the only way that creature AND his brother could have even gotten close to doing that is taking a round of .45 to the back of the head. And it's a sad commentary on American justice that they didn't get that.

Still not getting it...

They're still going at it...

WASHINGTON — Less than half of an estimated 18,000 American firearms used in Mexico's drug wars over the last three years have been traced back to licensed gun dealers — suggesting most are stolen or bought at gun shows where background checks are not required, a federal law enforcement official told Congress on Thursday.
Bill McMahon, deputy assistant director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said Mexican authorities say they have seized an estimated 100,000 firearms from gangland-style drug cartels and have submitted 20,000 to ATF to trace their origins. Ninety percent of the 20,000 — or 18,000 — were manufactured, imported or sold in the United States, McMahon said.
And only 44 percent, 7,900 of those weapons were traced back to retail transactions at federally licensed gun dealers in the United States, McMahon told members of the House Committee on Homeland Security.
Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., chair of the House subcommittee that oversees border issues, said the country needs to honor constitutional protections for gun ownership while closing the so-called gun show loophole that permits sales at gun shows without the paperwork and background checks required for firearms purchases at federally licensed gun dealers.
Republicans including Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, and Michael Rogers, R-Ala., emphasized that few guns seized in Mexico have actually been traced back to the United States.
McCaul noted that some military-style weapons reaching Mexican cartels via Central America were manufactured in Russia or China.

Now, did you see that? Out of 100,000 firearms, we only have data on 20,000 of them. I sure do think it'd be interesting to see what the trace results on those other 80,000 firearms would be. Assuming they had serial numbers to be tied to a paper trail, that is. I do love how they put McCaul's and Rogers' assertions at the back end of that story where it was least likely to be read by many, or discounted as not so important. And you know that many will discount what they say, as we don't have the full trace data to tell the tale. I seriously have to wonder why that is. no doubt many would say that's too much work for the ATF, but considering there were over 1.2 million background checks done in the month of April alone, I just don't buy that.
I also thought it was quite interesting to see the California representative talk about protecting constitutional rights while expanding the background checks as opposed to advocating for another semi-auto rifle ban as many in her delegation would do. Of course she probably recognizes what Senator Feinstein laments here -- that the NRA has a "stranglehold" on Congress and that talking of putting another ban in place would be futile. I'd bet on that before I'd bet on a California Democrat giving a damn about anybody's rights, but then maybe that's just me.
And, a final thought -- 44 percent of those 20,000 weapons were traced back to FFL retail transactions? You mean to tell me the Brady check and laws prohibiting straw buys failed THAT badly? Wow.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

She pointed to what, again?

...or, are we talking about the same Dianne Feinstein here?

Judiciary Committee Democrats told the Republicans: You fooled us once, but never again. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of Calif., for one, pointed to the long list of significant decisions on which Roberts and Alito have led or joined a 5-4 majority, overruling precedent and narrowing individual rights.
Narrowing individual rights? Keep in mind, now, this is the senator who said on national TV, AFTER the Democrats had their asses handed to them because of, among other reasons, their passage of the Clinton gun ban, "If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an out-right ban, I would have done it…Mr. and Mrs. America, turn ‘em all in, I would have done it…The votes were not here." I really don't think a politician who advocates violation of at least three amendments in the Bill of Rights -- the Second, Fourth AND Fifth -- has any business whatsoever lecturing anyone about narrowing individual rights. As for precedent...I've said it before, and I'll say it again: One wonders what these people who contend precedent should be respected at all costs would have said as Brown v. Board of Education was being argued. Would that some intrepid reporter asked them that. I guess overturning precedent is only bad when you agree with said precedent.

Mmmm, Stevie Ray....

Now playing at Outlaw Country, Sirius Ch. 63: "...Yeah, floodwaters keep rollin', man, it's about to drive poor me insane..."
The title track from Stevie Ray Vaughan's 1983 debut to this day remains my favorite song of his, although I like most if not all of his stuff. "Couldn't Stand the Weather," "When The House Is Rockin," ""Pride And Joy," Oh, yes. Stevie Ray was and is a Texas treasure, one that was taken from us far too soon.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Another great new supergroup now... the Boneyard, Sirius Ch. 19, Sammy Hagar, Joe Satriani, Chad Smith and Michael Anthony, also known as Chickenfoot: "Oh, yeah! Come on baby, tell me what you need..."
Damn, but Sammy Hagar sounds good for a senior citizen. I never thought anyone over 60 could rock like that. ;-) I saw their cd at Best Buy the last time I was there, for ten bucks. I shoulda bought it...they sound really good.

Oh man, this is just golden.

I guess I missed this at Country California when it was posted. But considering I've just recently discovered Danzig, and the band was mentioned in a comment here, I had to go looking for that original post. And here it is (in bold)...

Martina McBride’s new album Shine comes out March 24...
...what is a surprise is her odd choice of cover song to include as an iTunes bonus track for the deluxe edition of the album. McBride will offer her version of rock band Danzig’s “Dirty Black Summer,” a grinding, soulful song that some have interpreted to be about crossing over into the path of evil....
McBride’s management would not comment on the song, but one of her friends told us: “Martina is experimenting a little; you can only sing so many Lifetime-friendly songs about kids dressed as bags of leaves before you feel the need to branch out.”

BWAAAAAAHAHAHAHAAAA!!!!! I bet Jack Sparks would love that...

One wonders how far....

...some people will take their lines of reasoning...

In his article, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott worried that local governments like Chicago's are trampling the rights of American citizens to bear arms. I find it bizarre that Abbott is so concerned about Chicago, which is not located in Texas. Has it occurred to Abbott that Chicago's 3 million residents, through their duly elected officials, might actually want to keep their strict gun control law from 1982?

So if, say, a majority of Chicago's 3 million residents wanted to suspend the Fourth and Fifth Amendment, that would be okay, too? And considering the state of that city's political machine, I'd tend to question that whole "duly elected" part, too...

The attorney general is surely joking as he laments the unrealized promise of gun ownership protected by the Second Amendment. With 200 million firearms in private hands, one has to wonder how much more freedom we need and where the protection for the community fits in his constitutional analysis.

Wow, really? One really has to wonder how much more freedom we need? A citizen of the United States, of by-God TEXAS, actually said this? I tremble for the future, I really do. What one really has to wonder, from where I sit, is just how far people like this would take that whole "we're too free" logic (and I use that term in its loosest sense). One also has to wonder what the Founding Fathers would say.

Call me crazy...

...but I would really think that sending teams of snipers and personnel with other assorted armaments to kill al-Qaeda leaders with pinpoint surgical strikes is far, far preferable to using and putting at risk larger military units, no?

What do you want to bet...

...they could have pulled the whole thing off armed only with knives, as well-planned as they were and as unprepared as their victims were?

PENSACOLA, Fla. — An ex-convict who taught self-defense to children. A day laborer who served prison time for killing a man in a fight. An Air Force staff sergeant attached to an elite special operations unit.
Somehow, authorities say, they ended up part of a loosely connected group of seven men charged in the shooting deaths of Byrd and Melanie Billings, a wealthy Florida Panhandle couple known for adopting children with special needs.
The suspects, some dressed as ninjas, stole a safe and other items during the break-in Thursday at the sprawling Billings home west of Pensacola. Nine of the couple's 13 adopted children were home at the time. Three saw the intruders but were not hurt. Authorities would not say what was in the safe or what else was taken.
Some of the masked men entered through the front door, while others slipped in through an unlocked utility door in the back. They were in and out in under 10 minutes. The crime was captured by an extensive video surveillance system the Billings used to keep tabs on their many children.
Sooner or later we're gonna have to admit that the "easy availability of guns" isn't the problem, eh?

Just a question...

...prompted by this story...

More than a hundred incendiary devices — including homemade pipe bombs, explosive boxes with booby traps and altered tear gas devices — were found in the Baytown area home of the former police officer authorities said fatally shot a Chambers County deputy and then killed himself.
Ortez used a high-powered rifle to kill Detwiler, the sheriff said. He then turned the rifle on himself and took his life with a single shot to the head, investigators said.

High-powered rifle. I see this phrase so often and I just don't understand why. Is there really a such thing as a "low-powered rifle"? Hell, even a .22 will kill if you put the bullet in the right spot. And this, this was just great...

Investigators recovered an unknown number of guns, including rapid fire assault rifles, from his home.
Rapid-fire assault rifles. Huh. as opposed to, what, high-powered long-range sniper rifles? And of course, plenty of this same sort of assclownery in the comments...
Two hundred million guns in our society versus a valuable public servant and 3 fatherless children.
So it was the fault of the 50 million-plus gun owners that this guy was cut down? I guess to some people it is.
I've read elsewhere that the deputy's killer had a history of domestic violence and assault. Chalk up one more reason I am 110 percent in favor of women learning to shoot and defend themselves with firearms. Sure would have been nice if one of his victims had put him in the ground before last week.

One of the best songs from the '90s...

...from one of the greatest country singers of all time, at Prime Country, Sirius Ch. 61: "He's gone country, a new kind of walk...."
A No. 1 hit for Alan Jackson the week of Jan. 28, 1995, "Gone Country" was yet another classic from the pen of Beaumont native and Lamar University graduate Bob McDill. A lot of people -- including Jackson himself -- saw the song as a celebration of country music's renewed popularity in the wake of Garth Brooks and the like, but I read later that McDill was making fun of certain opportunistic mindsets when he wrote it. Which makes sense when you consider what the song says...
"He says, I don't believe in money, but a man could make him a killin', cause some-a that stuff don't sound much different than Dylan,
"'I hear down there, it's changed, you see, well, they're not as backward, as they used to be,' he's gone country..."
As long as McDill had been a Nashville hitmaker by that time (at least since the early '70s, going by this list) I find it a bit difficult to believe he'd really think people were backward during that time, but then maybe that's just my biases talking.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Another random rock observation....

....brought to you by Bad Company and "Shooting Star"...
If Bad Company was not the greatest supergroup of all time, then I do believe they were definitely in the top 3. I also like a lot of the work of Cream, and more recently Audioslave too, but on the whole I think BadCo is and has always been at the top of the list.
On the other hand, hearing what I've heard on Sirius from one of BadCo's forerunners, I've said this before and I'll say it again -- for them being just a one-hit act (at least in the States), Free was a damn good rock band. Paul Rodgers has always been a hell of a singer.

Ooooh, more Queensryche... the Boneyard, Sirius Ch. 19: "Last night the word came down, ten dead in Chinatown...Innocent, their only crime was being in the wrong place, at the wrong time...Too bad, people say, what's wrong with the kids today...I tell you right now they've got nothing to lose...They're building EMPIRE!"
This was the title track from that album I was talking about the other day, one of those songs I could never see Bon Jovi or Poison even thinking about doing. Like I've said, I don't understand why anyone would consider that album a sellout. It did have more of a mainstream sound, but even so all the songs were very well-written. I am really liking "Another Rainy Night," "Best I Can," and "The Thin Line" as well. I suppose I could give that cd a proper review....

Man, I had gotten to thinking...

...nobody made music like this anymore, at Willie's Place, Sirius Ch. 64: "My ex is out tonight, while my walls are closing in...Where are all the girls I use to cheat with?"
Once again, that's Merle Haggard's stepson Ron Williams doing an old Keith Whitley song, from his cd Texas Style, which came out about two years ago. Seriously, before I found out just who he was, I could have sworn he was one of those near-forgotten singers from the 1970s, like Mel Street. What I've heard of him sounds just like it was recorded back then. But it doesn't sound the least bit dated. I prefer the term "timeless."

Well, isn't this interesting...

One of my favorite Texas singers doing one of my favorite Texas country classics, just the way it was recorded, LIVE, at Outlaw Country, Sirius Ch. 63: "He sure does like his Falstaff beer....likes to chase it down with that Wiiiild Turkey liquor...."
Of course, that's the Ray Wylie Hubbard classic "Up Against The Wall Redneck." The definitive version was on Jerry Jeff Walker's 1973 live album Viva Terlingua, recorded in Luckenbach. I did not know this, but it seems that a bunch of Texas/Americana guys got together a few years ago and recorded almost a song-for-song remake of that entire album. Cory Morrow does the honors on this track and he did pretty well. The lineup looks quite solid...Tommy Alverson, Ed Burleson, Brian Burns, and the Derailers, among others. I might have to check that one out.

They had cameras...

...did they have alarms, too?

PENSACOLA, Fla. — Byrd and Melanie Billings had a growing brood of adopted children with autism, Down syndrome and other disabilities, and took care to make their nine-bedroom house a safe place for them, wiring it with surveillance cameras in every room.
It was those cameras that captured images of the masked men who shot the wealthy couple to death in a break-in executed with chilling precision.
Or how about any method of or plan for defense? Surely these people knew that with their wealth they'd be a juicy target to some people -- especially considering, as the story put it, that they lived in a "house set deep in the woods" -- where as the old saying goes, when seconds count the police are only minutes away. God only knows what the couple's odds would have been with the kind of operation detailed here, but at least they'd have had a fighting chance -- perhaps better than anyone could expect, considering that was their turf and that they knew it better than outsiders. The way it sounds here they were caught completely flat-footed. No doubt that camera footage will make it easier for a jury to give those creatures the needle, but ideally they'd have been put down like the rabid animals they were as they broke down the door.

Another band I've come to appreciate a LOT more in recent years... Classic Rewind, Sirius Ch. 15: "I won't take no prisoners, won't spare no lives, nobody's putting up a fight...I got my bell, I'm gonna take you to hell...I'm gonna get ya, Satan get ya...Hells bells..."
I don't know why, but for a long time I wasn't really that big on AC/DC. As I started getting into that old rock more, the more I liked them. They may be an Australian band, but they know how to make good old American rock and roll, and "Hells Bells" has gotten to be one of my favorites. I like a lot of the songs that Bon Scott sang lead on, but my preference is the Brian Johnson era, of which "Hells Bells" was a part, of course. Sometimes that getting a new lead singer works, and sometimes it doesn't; in the case of AC/DC, it worked perfectly. They couldn't have picked anyone better to replace Bon Scott after his untimely death. From what I understand Scott had actually seen Johnson perform on stage before and thought he was really good, though I am not sure if that played a part. At any rate, of course, AC/DC saw its biggest success after Johnson came on board, with the first Johnson-era record -- 1980's Back in Black -- selling more than 22 million copies in the United States alone. That was another of those times where good music actually sold well instead of being just a critical favorite. ;-) It was (and is) an awesome record, too..."Hells Bells," "Back In Black," "Rock And Roll Ain't Noise Pollution"...oh, hell yeah.

Ooooh, 7:25 am, at the Boneyard, Sirius Ch. 19: "inferno's coming, can we surviiiiive the blitzkrieg...."

Monday, July 13, 2009

Random thoughts on a new phenomenon

No offense to those of you who do it, but I just don't get the whole Twitter thing. (And I see I am not the only one...) I have a Facebook page and a blog, both of which I can see uses for vis-a-vis letting people know what I'm doing, thinking, or what have you, day-to-day. Beyond that, what's the point? I recall a blogger not so long ago who shall not be named who started off a post (or it might have been a sentence in a post) with something to the effect of, "Since most of you don't follow me on twitter..." And I got a huge kick out of that. I won't lie -- I thought, "Can you hear that clue phone ringin' there?" The whole thing just seems to me to have been created by and for narcissistic, egotistical blowhards. (Note: I am NOT saying everyone who Twits is a narcissistic, egotistical blowhard -- although I am sure many are...) When I went on my Neches River adventure yesterday I had my phone in the boat with me, and that's where it stayed when I got in the water. I suppose I could have Tweeted that, if I had a Twitter account...but why bother? It's just not that big of a deal to me that people don't know what I'm up to minute-by-minute. And if people really want to know, most of the time they can get ahold of me on my cell phone. I don't often agree with the points Wiley Miller makes in Non Sequitur, but I thought he nailed this one squarely in the X-ring. And I know it was about Facebook, but it's perhaps even more apt for Twitter.


Movin' on up...

Not me, but reader, commenter and blog-friend Bob S. Adjust your bookmarks & blogrolls accordingly.

...And your point...?

In the comments to Dwight Silverman's guide to buying a laptop on a budget, one commenter said...

...or you can just buy a Mac.

A response:
You do know that a Mac won't give you the same options and customizability as you can get with other PCs, right? Nor does it run Windows by default.

I am guessing this writer meant to make that sound like a bad thing. Perhaps it could be if you're the type who likes to tinker with hardware, build your own machines and things like that. And I can see the appeal in that sort of endeavor, but when you get right down to actually using the machine, in my experience the Macintosh will do everything a Windows computer will -- or at least everything I need a Windows computer to do. Don't know if I could play Counterstrike on it (thanks for that, Tam), but since I've never been a gamer that's not a concern for me. I have the MS Office Suite on my Mac with Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Entourage and have used Word and Excel in their intended environments and they've all done what I need them to do. I don't know about QuickBooks or other software like that, but it wouldn't surprise me if they had or were working on Mac versions for that. Yep, the Macs are more expensive, but that's just what happens when you're dealing with proprietary hardware and software. Even so, when I was music shopping at Best Buy last week I saw the 13-inch MacBook with the 2.13GHz Intel processor, 2GB of double-data-rate memory and a 160GB hard drive for $999. Seems like a bargain to me even at that price. YMMV, and often does, of course...but I'll probably never go back to Windows if I can help it.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Yeah, you can hunt with it...

A referral, from Google, "dan wesson razor back for hunting sidearm."
Yeah, you can use it for that. I've heard a lot of folks hunt with 10mm — including the Motor City Madman himself, Ted Nugent, who's done it with the Glock 20. If I remember correctly, Buffalo Bore loads its 10mm so hot (180 grains @ 1350 fps, 200gr @ 1200) for precisely that purpose. Double Tap also has some good hot'n'heavy loads for it as well. I've read of whitetail deer, hogs and javelina all being taken with the 10mm, albeit at all very short ranges, as in about 25-40 yards. Don't think I'd wanna get that close to a javelina or hog with that amount of firepower. Even if I was good at follow-up shots with that hot load. Also, if you're gonna be driving those hot loads through that gun on a regular basis, I'd suggest one of these.

In which I lapse into livejournal mode.

I was going to whine here about moving and losing/misplacing stuff, but where was the thing I was looking for? In the bottom drawer of the nightstand. Yeah, you know what I'm gonna be listening to at work here in a few. Before I go out on the river with the folks, that is. ;-)
Mood: excited
Music: AC/DC, "Let There Be Rock"

Texas AG does right by us.

and he explains his actions, in today's Houston Chronicle.

Americans breathed a sigh of relief last year when the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Second Amendment does, indeed, protect individuals from government infringement on their right to keep and bear arms. Unfortunately, some state and local governments still believe that prohibition does not apply to them.

Indeed they do, and I do not understand. I am quite familiar with the doctrine of selective incorporation, and I know that's exactly what this is an example of, but I have never understood why anyone would think selective incorporation was a good idea -- in theory OR in practice. Famed attorney Alan Dershowitz said this of those who try to read the Second Amendment out of the Constitution: "They're courting disaster by encouraging others to use the same means to eliminate portions of the Constitution they don't like." And this is exactly what the doctrine of selective incorporation does as well, because its very foundation rests upon the premise that some of the rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights are more equal than others. Call me crazy, but I don't think the Founding Fathers would have agreed with that.
Oh, and I thought this was quite interesting, considering the source...
The rights that the Constitution's framers wanted to protect from government abuse were referred to in the Declaration of Independence as "unalienable rights." They were also called "natural" rights, and to James Madison, they were "the great rights of mankind." Although it is commonly thought that we are entitled to free speech because the First Amendment gives it to us, this country's original citizens believed that as human beings, they were entitled to free speech, and they invented the First Amendment in order to protect it. The entire Bill of Rights was created to protect rights the original citizens believed were naturally theirs...

Given what they paint as their stalwart defense of the rest of the BofR, a it's worthy question as to just why the ACLU doesn't defend the 2A as ardently as the other nine amendments contained therein. It would seem, going from the words of chairperson Nadine Strossen, they believe some rights are more equal than others too. "...the fact that something is mentioned in the Constitution doesn't necessarily mean that it is a fundamental civil liberty." Really? As the man says, if that's the case, then why the hell did they put it in the Bill of Rights? Right behind freedom of speech, religion and assembly, no less?
Back to Greg Abbott's piece, though, I also thought it was pretty sharp of him to point out the use of gun control as a tool of racist governments to limit the liberties of blacks. That seems to be a lost point in the debate these days, especially with groups like the NAACP arguing for stricter gun control all the time. One wonders who the REAL Uncle Toms are now, hmmm? Like I've said before, no doubt the Deacons for Defense and Justice would so very proud...

Stories involving guns always make for interesting comments...

...and this story is no exception....

I tell my daughters, never date the insecure man that must own a gun. One day he will just decide to shoot you.

Huh. I wonder if he tells his daughters men with guns are compensating for small endowments too. Wouldn't surprise me a bit, but still I shudder to think of what kinds of men they'll be dating. Whoever those men may be, I hope they're good at hand-to-hand combat and don't mind the risk of getting cut and bleeding out. Odds are, though, if they're the type to eschew firearms as possessions of the eedle-nay icked-day, they won't be.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

More Texas music....

....but not what you might be thinking, at Faction, Sirius Ch. 28: "Here we come, reach for your gun, and you better listen well, my friend, you see...It's been slow down below, aimed at you, we're the cowboys from hell..."
I've only heard that first Pantera groove-thrash disc (1990's Cowboys From Hell), so I was thinking they had two different guitar players -- one on lead and one on rhythm. Imagine my surprise when I found out that Dimebag Darrell was playing both parts and that they used overdubs to create that sound. Shows how much I have to learn about that old music, I guess. I was thinking they were like Metallica in that respect, with frontman Phil Anselmo playing the rhythm guitar. A guy I work with told me that after Cowboys, though, Pantera went to recording as they played live, with no overdubbing. Either way they sounded bad-ass.

I thought it already was...

...was I missing something?

"The culture wars have been ongoing in this country for many years," Worthington said. "We can't afford for the university to become a political battleground."

Call me crazy, but I thought it already was a political battleground, at least to some extent. Seriously, what kind of debate would I stir up if, say, I walked into this guy's classroom wearing this shirt? Or what of professors such as Ward Churchill or Michael Bellesiles? ATR just threw a shit fit with a bunch of bloggers, but in the cases of the actions of the other two, if the students on their campuses are anywhere nearly as well-read and informed as they should be, there's going to be at least a little bit of conflict there. I can understand the desire of college administrators to minimize the risk of violent conflict, but clamping down on free speech isn't the way to do it. If you do it that way and don't address why they feel they have to settle heated debates with their fists, you'll still have a group of hot-tempered individuals under the dangerous delusion that's the way to go about it. I can only imagine how that sounds...and believe me, I know there are some things only violence will settle. Maybe they could start teaching students about the use of force continuum, initiation of force and things like that. Of course I may well be reading entirely too much into this whole thing. Reading that story again, I can't help but think they're just trying to avoid hurt feelings. They said the Missouri workshop was "tolerating offensive speech without allowing racial, ethnic, cultural and religious slurs or sexually explicit remarks." (I wonder if "gun nut" or "gun freak" counted as a cultural slur...) Well that's just peachy, but when you take away the slurs and sexually explicit remarks, what exactly is left that is offensive? Who gets to define that? And WHY do they get to define it? I honestly don't know where the line should be drawn, but I do think we as a society should grow the hell up, grow a thicker skin and work on just brushing things off. The alternative is something our forefathers fought and died to prevent, and we owe them and our progeny more than that.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Forgot to mention...

...this, from the 'Dog:

...The only two times that I've read Texas Monthly, I've been somewhat shocked by the sheer amount of left-wing bias it contained.
I don't know how one could call a magazine "Texas Monthly" when the only articles that I've ever read in "Texas Monthly" were embarrassed by Texas and Texans.

I haven't watched the video LawDog featured in that post, but his comments re: Texas Monthly were right on the money and have been at least ever since I ever saw the magazine some 20 years ago. I remember thinking, "Wow, for a magazine with such a name, it's certainly overstaffed with people with contempt for its namesake." A couple of the commenters described Texas Monthly as "reflect(ing) the left leaning liberals of Austin," "always apologizing for being in Texas," and "the organ of the pseudo-cosmopolitan smug Dallas scene." All of which described what I've seen in the publication to a tee. Don't know about the "Vanity Fair: the Texas Edition," though...for the simple reason that my fingertips have never flipped open the cover of that mag. It wouldn't surprise me, based on what I've heard about VF.

Wow, I sort of agree with Nancy Pelosi...

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday abruptly blocked an effort by Houston Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee to have the House of Representatives pass a resolution honoring pop star Michael Jackson as an international humanitarian.
Pelosi’s reasoning: She didn’t want to open up a congressional debate on the seamier side of the pop icon’s life.

...but then, on the other hand, the longer they debate penny-ante shit like this, the less time they have to wreck the economy any more than they already are with the healthcare and cap-and-tax schemes. Oh well. Every silver lining has its cloud. How about they debate a resolution declaring Sheila Jackson-Lee an embarrassment to the Texas congressional delegation? I bet they could charge for that debate. Yeah, I think it'd be that good. ;-)

Thursday, July 09, 2009

I guess I was just lucky that way

...if you wanna call it that...

...people flipped the hell out. I mean seriously. The second the word was let out that Michael Jackson died, his records started flying off the shelves again. Folks were sobbing in the streets. Every frickin’ radio station started playing his songs non-stop. MTV started playing actual videos again.

...because when Michael Jackson took his last breaths, I missed the nonstop radio airplay and the people crying in the streets. Oh, I saw the headlines and such via the Internet and print media, but beyond that I just thought, "What a shame." Which it was, of course, but there was a bit of overkill on the coverage of it all, it seemed. Another good thing about Sirius, indeed. Would that they'd had it during the O.J. Simpson trial...

Undercover cop cars? Not so much, really... least that's what I would think, around here.
JayG talks about 'em here. I know around here they don't seem to be that hard to spot. White Ford Crown Victorias, and if you look real hard you can see the lights in the grille. Honestly, you'd think they'd try harder to make 'em blend in...

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Get the popcorn. This will be good.

It would seem our beloved Mike B. has found Tam's blog and commented. This is going to be a blast to watch.

So this... apparently how simpering girly-man NYT columnist David Brooks defines "reticence, dispassion and the other traits associated with dignity"...

A fat lot of good...

...that's going to do...

OREGON CITY, Ore. — The last two defendants have been sentenced in a drug-fueled orgy that ended with the strangling death of a 15-year-old Texas girl.
Both are in the country illegally and will be deported to Mexico after they have served their sentences.
Now after they're deported, how long do you think it's going to be before they'll be back in the United States? With the tacit but full support of our government, of course, and the various and sundry Hispanic and open-borders lobbies.
UPDATE: Bob S. nailed it in comments:
"Served their sentences? Their sentence should end with the phrase 'hung by the neck until dead'."
Damn skippy, brother.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

You better believe I am listening...

I've seen here and there some people calling Empire Queensryche's sellout album. And to be honest I don't understand why. I've been playing it like crazy the last couple of days. It did have a more mainstream sensibility to it with songs like "Jet City Woman" (the song I bought the cd for) and "Silent Lucidity," but then you also have songs like the title track and "Resistance" to balance it out. It was no Mindcrime, indeed, but it it didn't have to be. I hear them a lot on the Hair Nation channel on Sirius, but I don't think that's quite fair; Queensryche was so far beyond bands like Poison and Bon Jovi they were just a speck on the hair bands' horizon, if that. You could call them the modern-day equivalent of Pink Floyd or Rush. Given the similarities between the voices of Geoff Tate and Rush frontman Geddy Lee, I don't think I can really explain why I like the 'Ryche so much more than Rush, but I do. And the recordings of both the bands are a lot alike, both lyrically and musically. For example, Rush had "Limelight" and that was a good song, indeed...but to my ear, Queensryche's "Anybody Listening?," Empire's last track, is so much better a take on that theme it's not even funny. That one song alone was worth the price of the whole disc. I could listen to it over and over...

(more here...)

Just a couple of things...

...that should not have surprised me:
• Gordon Lightfoot's "Early Morning Rain" lending itself so well to a bluegrass arrangement.
• Guns'n'Roses' "Nightrain" being written about a cheap bottle of wine.

I've said it before...

...and I'll say it again: For a group of people that sells itself as tolerant, open minded believers in the live-and-let-live philosophy, liberals sure do come off as a bunch of bigoted assholes sometimes.
(h/t PGP)

I've never heard anyone say this before...

...about ANYONE who did something like what the now-dead South Carolina serial killer did...

GAFFNEY, S.C. — The serial killer who terrorized a South Carolina community by shooting five people to death before police killed him Monday was a career criminal paroled just two months ago, authorities said.
Burris had a long rap sheet filled with convictions for larceny, forgery and breaking and entering in states across the Southeast, including Florida, Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland. He had been paroled from a North Carolina prison in April after serving nearly eight years for felony breaking and entering and larceny.
"Look at this," Lloyd said, waving a stapled copy of Burris' criminal record. "This is like 25 pages. At some point the criminal justice system is going to need to explain why this suspect was out on the street."
It's good to see a major South Carolina law enforcement official is going on record as saying that. If that's not one of the biggest white elephants in the room the anti-gunners don't want to talk about then I don't know what is. However. I don't know what the criminal justice system's explanation is going to be, but I don't see why it would be anything more substantive or more adequate than the explanations we have been getting for the last 30 years. Just yet more half-hearted rationalizations of the half-assed measures like background checks we've been getting. I see absolutely no explanation that would justify Patrick Burris being out on the street instead of locked up tighter than Dick's hatband. And if I were a relative of one of the victims I would be absolutely furious. It would seem that Mr. Burris is another one of the people with whom anti-gunners have no problem walking the streets as long as they allegedly can't get a gun. There are those who say that gun control advocates are mentally deficient, unstable or evil. Or some combination thereof. More and more I see exactly why they think that.