Friday, February 26, 2010

A Man After My Own Heart

Busy weekend coming up, so I'm going to cheat and post something I received via email. I don't know where it originated, but it serves as a heart-warming example of how bipartisanship can work - two people on opposite sides of the political spectrum interacting for the common good.
From a guy in Florida:

My neighbor is a "lefty" of sorts (Obama bumper stickers, gung-ho socialized medicine, "guns should be banned", etc.). So this past spring I put this sign up in my yard after one of his anti-gun rants at a neighborhood cocktail party.

The sign wasn't up more than an hour before he called the police and wanted them to make me take down the sign. Fortunately, the officer politely informed him that it was not their job to take such action without a court order and that he had to file a complaint "downtown" first, which would be reviewed by the city attorney to see if it violated any city, county, or state ordinances, which if there was a violation a court order would be sent to the offending party (me) to "remove the sign in seven days".

After several weeks he was informed that the sign was legal and there was nothing the city could do, which obviously made him madder. I tried to smooth things over by inviting him to go shooting with me and my friends at the hunt club but that seemed to make him even angrier.

I then asked him if he wanted to go to a Tea Party rally but again he declined my outreach efforts to bring about a better understanding between political and social opponents.

I am at a loss how to reconcile our long relationship (notice I did not say friendship), any suggestions would be welcome. Maybe I'll ask him if he want to go deer hunting, just a bunch of guys running through the woods chasing Bambi, then sitting around the campfire roasting marshmallows, drinking beer, and singing our favorite country songs.

Anyway, here's the sign that upset him so. (Click on the picture for a larger view.)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Credit Where Credit's Due

As posted earlier, I submitted my Texas Concealed Carry License (CCL) renewal about 30 days ago. I was very pleasantly surprised to receive it in the mail a few days ago. Immediately after obama was elected there was such a flood of people applying that processing times were in excess of six months (much like the run on firearms and ammo). The Texas Department of Safety (the licensing agency here) was the subject of much criticism - some deserved, some not. In any event, it seems that they've got their act together and are now functioning with about as much efficiency as one can expect from any government agency. Props to DPS.

Of course, We the People really shouldn't have to jump through government hoops to exercise our Constitutional rights, but that's a whole 'nother story...

Monday, February 22, 2010

Screw You We're From Texas

Texans are special. If you haven't figured that out yet, screw you.

I don't know where the original originated from (how do you like that phrasing) but I let Allen at The Whited Sepulchre do the heavy lifting on this one. I did, however, add a second link with a different set of images.


Male Adolescent Version

Texas Scenic Version

Music and Lyrics by Ray Wylie Hubbard.

Links to websites of various Texas singer-songwriters and their haunts are provided for visitors from out of state. If you're from Texas you shouldn't need them.

I got on my cowboy boots, jeans
And Hawaiian shirt, mirrored sunglasses
And a mobile phone
I guess I look like some Port Aransas
Dope dealer that's out on bail
Just trying to get home
Well I ain't in jail and I got me a guitar
Got a little band that's hotter than a rocket
Sometimes we're sloppy
We're always loud, tonight we're just ornery
And locked in the pocket

So screw you, we're from Texas
Screw you, we're from Texas
Screw you, we're from Texas
We're from Texas baby, so screw you

Now I love the USA
And the other states
Ahh, they're OK
Texas is the place I wanna be
And I don't care if I ever go to Delaware anyway
Cause we got Stubbs, and Gruene Hall and Antone's, and John T's
Country Store

We've got Willie and Jacky Jack, Robert Earl, Pat, Cory, Charlie and me
And so many more.

So screw you, we're from Texas
Screw you, we're from Texas
Screw you, we're from Texas
We're from Texas, screw you

Sing it with me--
Screw you, we're from Texas
Screw you, we're from Texas
Screw you, we're from Texas
We're from Texas, screw you!

Now Texas has gotten a bad reputation,
Because of what happened in Dallas and Waco
And our corporations well they are corrupt
And the politicians are swindlers and loco
But when it comes to music my friend
I believe these words are as true as St. John the Revelator's
Our Mr. Vaughan was the best that there ever was
And no band was cooler than the 13th Floor Elevators.

So screw you, we're from Texas
Screw you, we're from Texas
Screw you, we're from Texas
We're from Texas, screw you!

Screw you, we're from Texas
Screw you, we're from Texas
Screw you, we're from Texas
We're from Texas Screw you

Screw you, we're from Texas
Screw you, we're from Texas
Screw you, we're from Texas
We're from Texas Screw you

We're from Texas Screw you...

Students + Directions = Failure

One of the courses I teach is delivered online, without any FTF class meetings. Obviously this means that the exams are conducted online as well. The way we do it is to make the exams open-book, and to make them available during a limited time window, so that everyone has an opportunity to fit it into their schedule. The course delivery software restricts the exam to a 60 minute time limit, with only one attempt per student. Right-click is disabled, meaning the students can't copy or cut-and-paste the exam. The exam questions are also randomly selected from a test bank (50 question on the exam, 200 in the test bank). The order of the questions and the order of the answers are randomized. All in all, it's a pretty secure way to conduct an exam.

The exam schedule and procedures are stated in the syllabus. I also post multiple reminders in the week leading up to the exam. Nevertheless, there's always - and I mean ALWAYS - some student who can't read, can't comprehend, or can't be responsible enough to follow the exam process. For example, here's a direct quote from an email received from a student who missed the exam.
"I was the email about the test but on friday i forgot to take it my boss from work called so i can go to work and i remember but the test right when i got out of work but it was 1 am it was too late. Can i get another chance to take the test?"

Another example: here's what I posted regarding exam availability.
"You can take the exam between noon Thursday and 11:00 p.m. Friday."
Email from a student:
"do we have till friday 11:59 am or 11:59 pm?"

I should note that most of the class completed the exam with no problems (other than their grades, but that's another story).

It Must Be Universal

The urge that some people have to control the behavior of others must be a universal condition. There are, unfortunately, many more examples than I have the time or energy to cite, but the most recent one just blows me away.

Indonesia's leading Muslim clerics are considering a fatwa (religious edict) against riding a motorbike without a helmet. I acknowledge that wearing a helmet is probably the right thing to do from a safety standpoint, but I adamantly claim that this is a personal choice, not one subject to edicts by any government or religious conglomeration.

I'm a motorcycle rider, currently bike-less, but still licensed. When I was dirt bike riding I wore a helmet. When I was cruising country roads I didn't. But in either case it was MY choice. If something happened to me I was willing to accept the consequences. As indicated on my driver's license, I'm an organ donor. So one could argue that if I became brain dead (some of my students would say I already am) it was a net benefit to society.

In any event, it seems somewhat ironic, not to mention frightening, that a religion known for curtailing freedom of choice would find itself in agreement with many of our state governments. Just another indication that our freedoms are being eroded in the name of safety and security.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

I Take It Back

I tried, I really tried, to say something positive about obama. I supported him when he met with the Dalai Lama in spite of Chinese opposition. Then I saw the picture below. This is about as disrespectful and disgraceful a way to treat a guest as anything I've ever seen. Our bozo-in-chief bows to foreign leaders right and left, but then tosses this guy out the back door with the trash. Just another in a long line of obamanations.

Speaking of being disrespectful, the next photo was taken in the Oval Office. Pictured are Lawrence Summers (Chief Economics Adviser), Rahm Emanuel (Chief of Staff) and three unidentified individuals, along with you-know-who. The desk is known as the Resolute Desk, a gift from Queen Elizabeth to President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1880.

This picture is worth 1000 words in conveying obama's attitude of arrogance and entitlement. He domonstates yet once again that he is an immature self-centered narcissistic post turtle with no sense of honor, courtesy, or simple decency.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Give the Devil His Due

Obama met with the Dalai Lama in spite of Chinese objections. Good for him! Screw China, screw their abominable track record on human rights, and screw them for dumping all sorts of cheap, faulty, and even deadly products on the rest of the world (toothpaste, drywall, toxic toys v1.0 and v2.0, milk, dog food, and more).

Of course, much of the blame falls on 'us' (the buying public) due to our preference for low prices. Although I generally support the concept of limited government, this is one place where I'd welcome a little more comprehensive oversight. After all, one of the functions of government is to protect its citizens.

You get what you pay for...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

It's Time

It's an idea whose time has come. Let's urge - no, let's DEMAND - that every person who runs for office in Nov. pledge to support passing the 28th Amendment to the Constitution, as stated below.
"Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators or Representatives, and Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States.
Once this is ratified let's see how quickly those congress-weasels pass meaningful health care reform or fix Social Security when they're no longer subject to their gold-plated health and retirement benefits.

Fuck 'em all...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Barney Frank is an Idiot

I know this won't come as a shock to most thinking people, but the Frank-meister doesn't have a clue. Not only did he play a key role in causing the housing bubble that led to the recent recession, and not only did he pull a Pontius Pilate act and wash his hands of the whole thing, now he thinks the solution to the God-awful mess that is congress is to eliminate the filibuster rule. That'll really end the rabid partisanship that's driving the federal car off the cliff.

Personally, I think anything that slows down or stops congress from passing more laws is a good thing. As the saying goes, "No man's life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session."

Thought for the Day

Why do we have to call judges "Your Honor"?

They're lawyers, and here in Texas most of 'em are elected, so that makes them politicians as well.

I see nothing honorable about either profession...

Monday, February 15, 2010


I have borrowed the spirit of today's post from the fine folks at Gotta Get Drunk First. Check out the truly inspirational pictures on their right-hand sidebar. However, in place of images, we're going to use text.


While suturing up a cut on the hand of a rancher whose hand had been caught in the gate while working his cattle, the doctor struck up a conversation with the old man. Eventually the topic got around to Obama, and his being our president.

The rancher said, "Well, ya know, Obama is just a Post Turtle."

Not being familiar with the term, the doctor asked, "What's a Post Turtle?"

The rancher said, "When you're driving down a country road and you come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, that's a post turtle."

The rancher saw the puzzled look on the doctor's face so he continued to explain.

"You know he didn't get up there by himself, he doesn't belong up there, he doesn't know what to do while he's up there, he sure as heck ain't goin' anywhere, and you just wonder what kind of dumb ass put him up there in the first place."


1. Lincoln placed his hand on the Bible for his inauguration. Obama used the same Bible.
2. Lincoln came from Illinois. Obama comes from Illinois.
3. Lincoln served in the Illinois Legislature. Obama served in the Illinois Legislature.
4. Lincoln had very little experience before becoming President. Obama had very little experience before becoming President.
5. Lincoln rode the train from Philadelphia to Washington for his inauguration. Obama rode the train from Philadelphia to Washington for his inauguration.
6. Lincoln was a skinny lawyer. Obama is a skinny lawyer.
7. Lincoln was a Republican. Obama is a skinny lawyer.
8. Lincoln was highly respected. Obama is a skinny lawyer.
9. Lincoln was honest; so honest he was called Honest Abe. Obama is a skinny lawyer.
10. Lincoln saved the United States from fracturing into pieces. Obama is a skinny lawyer.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Great Minds Think Alike

There's a common theme running through recent political punditry, to wit: the lack of mature and effective leadership in the White House. Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal got it started with her observation of the contradiction inherent in obama's State of the Union speech. First was the acknowledgment that Washington is "a sick and broken place:" a black hole where good ideas, good intentions, and good tax dollars go to die. This is something that most Americans, regardless of political philosophy, agree on.

The contradiction occurs when, notwithstanding the foregoing, obama continues to insist that Washington is the solution to all our problems. How in the name of all that's holy can the institutionalized train wreck that is the federal government fix what's wrong with this country, when it is the source of most of the tribulations we must endure?

It brings to mind Homer Simpson's classic toast: "Here's to alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems."

Noonan concludes by quoting a FOB (Friend of Barack):
"To heal our country we need to get the arrogance out of the White House and the elitists out of the Congress. We need tough love. We need a real adult in the White House because we don't have adults in the Congress."
Remember, this is a friend of obama speaking, not one of his detractors.

Even the mainstream media is echoing the call for adult leadership in the White House. Rick Klein of ABC News plaintively asks "… doesn’t someone have to be the grown-up around here?"

Others are going beyond the advice to grow up and imploring obama to "man up." Beg, borrow, or steal a pair of cojones and show some leadership. Rein in Pelosi and her pack of congressional dogs. If you can't control your own party, how the hell do you expect to have any influence over the rest of the country? As David Reilly put it, "Obama’s lack of resolve even makes comparisons to Carter seem charitable."

Finally, we have observations that point out a worrisome and growing "reality gap" between obama-world and the world the rest of us live in. One disturbing / alarming / shocking / terrifying / insert-your-own-adjective-here indication is obama's revealing insight on the Israeli-Arab conflict: "This is just really hard. This is as intractable a problem as you get."

Really? You're just now noticing that? Are you really that ignorant, or did you think that you're so gifted, so talented, so spectacularly better than anyone else in history that you can succeed in bringing peace to a region where they've been at each others throats since Biblical times? My God, what unfathomable arrogance.

As Thomas Paine wrote about John Adams:
“It has been the political career of this man to begin with hypocrisy, proceed with arrogance, and finish with contempt.”
Sound like anyone we know...?

Another One Bites the Dust

Following in his late father's footsteps (including stints in rehab for substance abuse problems) Patrick Kennedy is retiring from congress. For the first time in almost half a century there won't be a Kennedy's bloated behind wasting space in D.C.

At last, our long national nightmare is ending...

UPDATE (2/15/2010): Evan Bayh announced his plans to retire from the Senate. I don't know when political positions became family property (Birch Bayh begat Evan; John F. Kennedy begat (figuratively, not literally) Bobby, who begat Teddy, who begat Patrick (literally, not figuratively) ; Joe Biden begat Beau Biden; George H. W. Bush begat George W. and Jeb; etc. etc. etc.).

Scott Brown got it right. It's "the people's seat," not a family heirloom to passed down from generation to generation.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Couldn't Say It Better Myself

The t-shirt below makes the point so well that even a lib should get it, although I doubt if many of them will.

I particularly like the Rosie O'Donnell reference...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

More Global Warming

The recent record snowstorms in the northeast are evidence, as we all know, of climate change (global warming is so passe). The good news is that all that snow has provided new recreational opportunities, as seen in the photo below.

Snorkeling in Massachusetts. Somehow I suspect that alcohol was involved...

Oh My Aching Butt

Two recent headlines:

Airport body scanners violate Islamic law, Muslims say

"Saying that body scanners violate Islamic law, Muslim-American groups are supporting a “fatwa” – a religious ruling – that forbids Muslims from going through the scanners at airports."
Fine with me. You don't want to be scanned, take the bus. Problem solved.

Feds push for tracking cell phones

"... the Obama administration has argued that warrantless tracking [of mobile phones] is permitted because Americans enjoy no "reasonable expectation of privacy" in their--or at least their cell phones'--whereabouts."
Of course, when the Bush administration conducted warrantless reviews of telco records (limited to overseas calls, not domestic ones) the libs screamed about invasion of privacy. To their credit, however, the ACLU and their brethren (excuse me - personren) are fussin' about this as well. In this case, at least, they're consistent.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Two Men Down - one good, one not so good

Two congressmen died recently, one active, and one former. I have similar sympathies for both their families, but totally different opinions of each.

The first, John Murtha (aka the King of Pork), generates diametrically opposed thoughts. Honor him for his service to our country as a U. S. Marine in Korea and Viet Nam. Excoriate him for his repugnant remarks about his brother Marines in Iraq. Despise him for his scandal-tainted and pork-wallowing terms in congress. Sounds to me like a good man who done gone bad. The country is better off for his military service, and better off now that he's gone.

On the other hand we have Charlie Wilson (aka Good Time Charlie). Almost a caricature of a small town politician and good ol' boy from Texas, Charlie was without a doubt fond of wine, women, and song. He was also without a doubt the primary U.S. architect of the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan. Immortalized in the book and later the excellent movie "Charlie Wilson's War," he was a bigger than life character the likes of which are fading from our political landscape, leaving us richer for having known him and poorer for his passing.

I have a weakness for good-time-loving good ol' boys from small Texas towns. Comes from growing up around 'em, I guess...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Oh Delicious Irony

February 9, 2010

The following Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works hearings have been postponed due to inclement weather this week:

- The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works will hold a hearing entitled, "Global Warming Impacts, Including Public Health, in the United States."

* * * * * * * * * *
(Note: The above was taken from the Senate's official website on Feb. 9, 2010 - link here - but somehow I doubt if it will stay there for long once 'they' realize how foolish it makes them look.)

The irony is just too obvious to comment on... (although that didn't stop one senator from tweeting "It's going to keep snowing in DC until Al Gore cries uncle."

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Better One

Another student excuse for missing an assignment (see below), but I'll probably accept this one. It meets all the criteria: it's compelling, verifiable, unlikely to reoccur, and best of all, entertaining.

"It happened 2 weeks ago but I had been over there since. When i got the call they told me that there had been a fight and that he had gotten stabbed. I had to rush home to see how he was doing, but as it turns out it was him that did the stabbing. He had been on the run for a while, but gave himself up to autorities. I know it won't happen again because he's gonna be in jail for quite some time."

That didn't take long

We've had the first dead grandmother of the new semester. It only took 4 weeks. That's a new record for me. The sad thing is that the student wasted a perfectly good grandparent in order to request an extension on a routine homework assignment. He didn't plan far enough ahead to use the poor thing to get out of an exam.

I wish I could have taken a picture of his face when I asked for her name and city so I could look up her online obituary. Expressions of disbelief, shock, and utter panic rapidly chased each other across his face before he muttered "Never mind" and fled.

If I was a better person I wouldn't take so much pleasure out of messing with my students. After all, it's not their fault that no one has challenged them or held them accountable before. I feel sorry for them, I fear for the future, but doggone it, it's just so much fun sometimes. It brightens an otherwise dreary day.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


Living and working in a part of the country where there is a large number of people who speak Spanish, and a large number of people who speak English that try to speak Spanish to the Spanish-speakers, I've come to the conclusion that the graph below does a pretty good job of representing how they try to do so.

funny graphs and charts
see more Funny Graphs

Hurray for Snow

Snow Storm Paralyzes Nation's Capital

Thank God!!! Now if only the paralysis would last for a while, the whole country would be better off.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

This whole "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) issue has opened a whole can of worms. I won't reinvent the wheel - others have produced ones far rounder than I can here and here - but I will add my $.02 worth.

First, a little background. I like to think I'm pretty tolerant when it comes to social issues. For example, I'm okay with gay marriage. As Kinky Friedman says, "I support gay marriage. I believe they have a right to be as miserable as the rest of us."

my military service was during the Viet Nam era, so I'm not all that familiar with conditions in today's armed services. Back then it was open squad bays, open latrines (that is, no stalls), open showers, etc.

I agree with those who say that a person's sexual orientation shouldn't matter, as long as they do their job. I could care less about the race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation of the person who is providing me cover fire, or dragging my fat ass back to the aid station, as long as they get the job done.

And yet, and yet...

Intellectual support for revoking DADT is one thing. Emotional reaction is another. The best example I can give of my visceral reaction is that of mixed-sex showering. How is gays and straights showering together different from men and women showering together? I respect and appreciate women. I can control my impulses and (non-automatic) reactions towards them, and trust that they can do the same towards me. (No, I don't think I'm God's gift to women, and I'm not concerned about being attacked in the shower by females who can't control themselves once they behold me in all my naked splendor. I'm more worried about them being able to control their gag reflexes.) I also think that most gays can control themselves when showering with straights.

The point I'm trying to make here is that there is a certain amount of uncomfortableness involved in performing bodily ablutions with individuals of a different sexual orientation. It's like my feelings towards snakes. I understand and respect their ecological role. I don't mind being around them under certain conditions. But there are other conditions where there is some unease (think Snakes on a Plane).

I've worked for and with gays - no problem. I've hung out with, socialized with, and partied with gays - again, no problem. So why the reluctance to overturn DADT? I honestly don't know.

I do know that I'm genuinely conflicted by DADT, and envy those who are so adamantly certain of their position, either pro or con.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

What type of handgun are you?

Ran across this quiz while randomly strolling the Internet. Gave it a try and was pleasantly surprised by the accuracy of the results.

I'm a bit of a traditionalist, I have fairly large hands (the better to hold you with), and have a mesomorphic body type (the better to soak up recoil). So a 1911 and I get along great. The biggest drawback is that it's kind of difficult to comfortably carry concealed (say that quickly three times).

So I usually go out and about accompanied by a Springfield XD in .45 ACP. It has good ergonomics and a high-capacity mag (13 rounds, compared to the 1911's 7 or 8). With a 4" barrel it's a little less cumbersome.

Neither my 1911 nor my XD are high-end customized specimens. They're just good, solid, basic tools that get the job done.

Anyway, follow the link below and take the quiz for yourself. Might be interesting...

What type of handgun are you?
Your Result: Colt Model 1911A1

resultDesigned by John Browning and adopted by the US military in 1911, the 1911 has spawned countless variants and is one of the most popular handguns of all time. Many experts consider the 1911 the epitome of fighting handgun design. It is most commonly chambered for the famous .45 ACP cartridge.
Shown above is an Ed Brown Special Forces Model.

Smith and Wesson Model 686
TC Encore
Springfield XD .45
Desert Eagle .50 Action Express
Glock 17
Heckler and Koch USP .40
Luger P'08 and Variants
FN M1900
Kel Tec P3AT
What type of handgun are you?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Dumb Birds:

Add another one to the grill. A couple more fluttered off with what must be major league headaches, judging from the thuds with which they hit.

Vagaries of Life:

Just found out that the oldest of the two kids my colleague and his wife accepted into their home is autistic. More karma points to them.

New Beginnings:

Regretfully, the new semester is living up to (down to?) expectations.

Student: "Can you post the due dates for assignments on-line?"
Me (thought): "RTFS."
Translation: Read the fucking syllabus. All the assignments and due dates are contained therein. Not only is it already posted online, I sacrificed a whole bunch of trees to print it and pass it out the first day of class, because if I don't you all piss and moan about the lack of handouts for you to ignore.

Student: "Is anything due next class?"
Me (thought): "RTFS."
Follow-up thought: This is a capstone course for graduating seniors. In a few months you all will be working in a professional capacity for some (luckless) (desperate) (hard-up) organization, and you still expect someone to lead you around by the hand and tell you what you need to do. No wonder the Indians, Chinese, and God knows who else are kicking our ass nowadays.

Me: What are the key points of the assigned case, and how are they relevant to the topic for today's class?
Students: Slack-jawed mouth-breathing glassy-eyed stares, while drool quietly drips from a corner of their mouths and pools on their desks.

I weep for our future...

Monday, February 1, 2010

Not Fun

Food poisoning is NOT fun.

Kicked in (or rather out) Tues. night.

Flat on my back all day Wed. Only got out of bed to, well, you know...

Rallied enough to teach class on Thurs., although with interesting sound effects from the digestive tract.

Back in bed on Fri.

Tottered around on Sat.

Felt better on Sun.

Felt good enough Mon. a.m to go to physical therapy (for recovery from the evil horse incident).

Should be able to resume normal activities tomorrow (Tues.). One week of my life down the tube, so to speak.

On the bright side, I lost 7 pounds...