Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Yes sir, right away sir!

Always read the fine print. I thought being a Castle Denizen was just going to be the usual -- you know, spiffy uniform, marching in parades, tuition assistance, and PX privileges. Boy was I wrong. I have been given WORK to do. (And it's not the first time, either.) Oppression!

(muttermutterMovieList?mutter) Fine. Now tell the nice MP to stop hammering on my helmet.

Favorite Infant Movie: "The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming!" I was quite critical of it as an infant, but it grew on me. I no longer wail when the jets fly overhead. And if hearink Russian Accent, am making big grin.

Favorite Childhood Movie: "Adventures of Sinbad". A useful life-lesson: invisibility isn't all it's cracked up to be, and neither are giant animated Kali statues.

Favorite Highschool Movie: "Top Secret". Rampant silliness, always a good thing.

Favorite College Movie: "Buckaroo Banzai". As a starving physics student, the idea of going on tour as a rock band to raise research funds appealed to me.

I Suppose It's a Chick Flick: "Enchanted April". Not only do you learn how to say "explosion" in Italian, you see the correct way to greet a lady if you have suddenly and forcefully been ejected from your nice hot bath by said explosion.

Most Quoted Movie: "Princess Bride". Many years ago I had read a story about a swordfight on a cliff with a masked man and a six-fingered sword, and loved it. Small happy squealing noises were made when I realized I was FINALLY going to know what happened next.

Favorite All-Time Movie: "Ladyhawke". Perfect in every way.

Favorite Action Movie: "XXX" a delicate skewering of the Bond-films, and fun all by itself.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

MemeSquash: "The military didn't have a plan for Iraq!"

Welcome to a new feature for Snark Patrol -- the Meme Squash! Where we take a favored (moonbat) meme and beat it to a bloody pulp for fun and edification. Today's meme is a favorite of the commentariat, namely that we didn't plan our invasion of Iraq.

I'm sure the first thousand times this showed up everyone who had ever been in uniform was gasping for air after laughing so hard. The military plans for EVERYTHING. We have contingency plans for invading Liechtenstein. Through some incomprehensible administrative mixup I do *not* have access to this plan, so I can't tell you what it involves. My educated guess is three dens of Cub Scouts, a fleet of tricycles, and some Super-Soakers. But don't quote me.

However. I DO have access to an actual Special Forces plan! For a Christmas Party! (sorry, Festive Holiday Celebration). I believe this should give some idea of the level of planning involved in a real war, if you extrapolate. They do everything except specify the location and elevation of the punch bowl using GPS coordinates.

This, on the other hand, is serious stuff. National Guard on hurricane duty. Read, and be amazed at how many crucial things he's juggling, simultaneously. The things he worries about, and has plans for.

Sure, stuff happens we weren't expecting in Iraq. That's a good definition of warfare in general. To quote the Book of the Word, "when you are short of everything except enemy, you are in combat." The funny thing is we get this meme-complaint from people who can't organize a three-person lunch. Who assume because *they* don't know what the plan is, there isn't one. Absolutely amazing ...

My backyard is a flipping biodiversity zone

I live in a sort of DMZ between suburbia and a -- shall we say, more rural environment? We tend to like trees around here too. No, we don't all hug them but we do keep them around if we can. The critters like this attitude too. Humans are great to visit for their version of junk food, and the larger predators tend to stay away from the two-legs. We have a well-established clan of the biggest damn raccoons I have ever seen. One of the junior members evidently wants to be an astronaut or a paratrooper, because he keeps falling out of trees. Once onto my roof, which, he discovered, has a pitch too steep for a young raccoon to traverse in safety. I found him huddled on the ridge, horribly embarrassed to be Caught in the Open just like Mom had told him never to be. He eventually fell off, and since I didn't find a body I'm assuming he made it intact. Some less adorable rodentia as well. I knew of their theoretical existence, having seen their dental attacks on edible stuff mistakenly stored in the garage, but it was a bit of a shock to actually *see* the rats. I'm sure they are nice as rats go, but I'd prefer they do more skulking in darkness so I can pretend they aren't there. A very hard-nosed mole has been throwing up hills. The ground is full of rocks here, so I'm impressed he's making any headway at all.

Then there's the usual assortment of birds -- flickers, woodpeckers, chickadees, hummingbirds, Stellar's Jays, and so on. This weekend I found a new visitor, a pheasant. She doesn't seem to want to leave, either, and it's understandable since I'm feeding her . Quite tame, and has clearly been fed by humans before. In fact she was running towards me when I went outside today, and followed me while I did yardwork. I hope she doesn't expect to come inside in the winter. Maybe I can make her a little pheasant-door into the crawlspace ...

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The engine coudna' take any more

Scotty has powered down.

An amazing man, who played an amazing character. In real life he was also amazing. He took part in D-day and was wounded there. He seemed to enjoy life, and it showed. We knew he was going, which gave us the chance to say goodbye and have some fun.

It's a sadder galaxy without ye, lad.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Test results are in ...

Not a surprise, really.

I am 70% Evil Genius.
Deceitful & Crazy!
Evil courses through my blood. Lies and deceit motivate my evil deeds. Crushing the weaklings and idiots that do nothing but interfere in my doings.
My score would have been higher, but having never been to a funeral (really!) I couldn't truthfully claim I laughed at one.

Thanks to Barb, who is quite a good Evil Overlord Advisor. I recommend her highly!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Adventures in Customer Support

I believe I have the credentials to speak on that most tenditious of topics, customer support for software. Been on both sides, having trained helpdesk techs, performed as the family helpdesk all by my lonesome (Hi, Mom!) and of course had many, many interactions with helpdesks in my role as Frustrated User.

If you want to know why helpdesk techs sometimes ask stupid questions, it is usually because someone else, calling the helpdesk, did exactly that stupid thing. You don't have to believe me, read this (some of it is out of date, but most of the problems are PEBCAK: Problem Exists Between Chair and Keyboard).

Then there's the other side: Problem Exists At Helpdesk. I've had some special moments with those folks. Recently I have been having severe problems with my work email. Some, not all, of the email sent to me never gets there. My tech, trying to get to the bottom of this, actually requested me to send him one of the emails I didn't get. (sigh) If I was able to deduce the existence of a specific missed mail, summon it by sheer brainpower from the ether to which it vanished and restore it to life and then send it to him I sure as hell wouldn't be stuck here -- I'd be off making a killing in the stock market.

I also had a run-in with another tech for a different issue, with similar comprehension problems. I'd purchased some software with one month of free support. When installed, the mouse and keyboard no longer felt any commitment to the communal whole, in fact refused to communicate and just sat and pouted at me. So, I fire up the free support (email only, of course). I begin to suspect, due to the turnaround, that the helpdesk is located in a foreign clime. Somewhere with a 12 hour time difference. Moreover, the tech assigned to me sees nothing wrong with telling me all sorts of helpful things to try and fix the problem, all of which involve using the keyboard. (again, sigh) (I did eventually get it fixed, but not with their help.) What part of "keyboard does not work" is hard to understand???

Friday, July 08, 2005

The Chicago Way

Oh look, the terrorists are back. I was beginning to think they didn't care about us any more. More likely, they are having problems finding recruits a) sufficiently dumb to conduct these attacks but b) smart enough to read a map. I wonder if the deranged left thinks these bozos now hate the Brits more than they hate Americans ... or maybe, just maybe, they aren't ABLE to blow us up they way they want.

I'm not advocating simple, mindless violence with my title. I'm advocating devious, subtle violence with an extra twist of the knife. So Jihadist Local #236 claims responsibility for detonating office workers and bus riders because of Britain's soldiers in Iraq? Very well. Let the number of British soldiers in Iraq be increased by the same number of dead and wounded from the attack, and should another take place, again take the number of dead and wounded -- and multiply it by five. We'd do the same, of course, if we are attacked. And make sure to tell Al Jazeera and anybody else who will listen that's why those extra soldiers are there.

(If I was Evil Overlord I would not allow any news media to broadcast the "claim of responsibility" until the Jihadist Local #236 had been rounded up, paraded through the streets as an example and a warning, and then sent to the salt mines. Remove the rewards for blowing up innocent civilians, you idiot journalists!)

Friday, July 01, 2005

Why you need to know math and science (and history, and ....)

Yes, you. I don't care if you plan to grow free-range potatoes for a living, if you vote, you need to understand why Kyoto is a stupid, dumb idea because it will affect you, and I don't mean in the global warming sense. Actually this is an excellent learning opportunity, if rational thinking could ever get a word in edgewise. It provides examples of so many unpleasant realities, in so many different fields!
  • Politics: If, as is argued, the Kyoto protocols are all about Saving the Planet and we all need to pull together and so on, why are China and India exempt from its provisions?[because they aren't the USA, essentially.]
  • Economics: If the United States were to implement the protocols and limitations on emissions contained therein, what would be the impact on our economy? Your job?[See above. If they really cared about the environment, no exceptions would be allowed. This is about making us as miserable as the Europeans.]
  • Logic: If everything worked as laid out in the Kyoto documents, how much would the global temperature abate? [not much] Would it still keep rising?[you betcha. In fact, the calculation is that it would only buy us 6 years of delay, assuming they are correct that us evil humans are the source.]
  • Ethics: Would it be better to take the calculated cost of implementing the Kyoto protocols and instead spend the money on fuel-efficient energy technology transfers, nuclear power plants, or even simply birth control?[Can we at least talk about this? Please?]
  • History: "Medieval Warm Period". Also "Little Ice Age". If you don't know what those are, they are real temperature variations in the Earth's average temperature, but they all occur before the United States came in to existence so they MUST BE IGNORED. Otherwise the common masses might think global temperature variations were, you know, normal.
  • Planetary Astronomy: If humans are completely and totally responsible for the temperature variations, why are the Martian ice-caps receding too? [errrrr ... ]
  • Science: This is the biggie. This is where the title comes from. Take a look at this (requires free PDF reader). Many people have seen the infamous graph of the "hocky stick" data, purportedly derived from tree-ring measurements to show that world temperatures have made a dramatic and sudden upturn in recent times. I've done some statistical analysis in my day but nothing on this scale. Can't comment on the details of the methodology. I CAN comment on deliberately leaving out data that doesn't support the desired outcome, or refusing to share the computer algorithm that derived the "hocky stick" graph. There is a word for that in the scientific community, and it is not a pretty one. We don't use it lightly, because it is the one sin you may not commit. Lots of scientists who specialize in this field have attempted to re-create that famous graph. Without success. That stinks like month-old fish, and it reminds me of something. Cold Fusion. Remember that?