Tuesday, May 30, 2006

More history, warts and all

Chemical warfare has been around for a long time. In WWI it was especially horrific, as they discovered it could be just as dangerous for the people using it as for the enemy. Here's Uncle Henry modeling the 1917 version of the MOPP suit:

As a Master Sergeant Uncle Henry trained troops on the newfangled Lewis machine guns. Due to the racial segregation in place at the time, he wasn't allowed to train the black soldiers -- he trained their officers, who then went back and trained the enlisted. When he was telling me about this his voice had a "would you believe it?" tone. He was a remarkably open-minded man for his time, and didn't see how skin color affected a guy's ability to operate machinery.

Monday, May 29, 2006


Two of my great-uncles served in the First World War. We were fortunate -- they both came back, alive and uninjured. Great-uncle Henry was a bit of an amateur photographer, too, and we have his photo album. Thought you might like to see a bit of it.

For everyone who has served ... thank you.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Getting close to nature

It is possible to have too much of a good thing. I enjoy all the little critters cavorting around the neighborhood, and seeing the great Cycle of Life in all its manifestations -- for example, when a stupid squirrel fails its saving throw scampering across the road, which then means the crows come to, er, recycle and this entertains my cats. Or when I get reamed out by the chickadees for not keeping the feeder topped up. You just haven't lived until you get told you are Not Meeting Expectations by something the size of an egg.

I thought I had evicted all the freeloaders last year with the Great Siding Removal project. Turns out I missed a few. Not spiders, but freaking RACCOONS. A nest of the suckers! My vestigal and unused (fortunately) chimney is, in their view, a desireable penthouse quite suitable for raising young'uns. There is a bit of a commute (up the camellia and across the roof) but the advantages to having brick defenses and a location few if any predators can reach outweigh the disadvantages.

What is truly impressive is how quiet they've been. I would never have known about my four-legged chimney inspectors if my neighbors had not observed Mom on her way home to the kids. I suppose I will wait until the sprouts are old enough to leave home before posting the eviction notice, but this has got to stop. I mean, they don't even bring me nuts and berries for rent.

Sigh. The contractor is going to *love* this job ....

Monday, May 15, 2006

Note the complete lack of bias

This article on political bloggers appeared today in our local birdcage-liner, which is the alleged second newspaper in the Seattle-metro area (they actually have a joint operation structure, which to me means we only really have *one* paper.) What drew my attention in this case was that I saw the dead-tree version of the same story. It's on the front page. The photo of Stefan Sharkansky (conservative) in the paper version is about half the size of that of David Goldstein (liberal), which is also placed centrally. The vast majority of the text covers the liberal/"progressive" view.

They even admit Sharkansky's blog gets well over twice as many hits as Goldstein's. Is this their way of "evening the playing field" or something?

Sigh. And they wonder why nobody wants their paper any more ....

Friday, May 12, 2006

Reality 101: A remedial course for trolls and moonbats

Hello everyone, I'm Professor Snarkatron. Yes, that is elitist and no, I'm not going to change it. Furthermore, we will not form a non-judgmental "learning circle." I will stand up here at the podium and lecture and you will sit in your chairs and refrain from chewing gum. If you are good, I have a bag of delicious and healthy TrollTreats(tm) to share. If you are bad, I found a use for that stupid free newspaper that shows up in my driveway. Now, let's begin!

Students, you are here in this class because you have demonstrated a complete lack of understanding of the term "reality." To help you understand the difference between reality and hallucinogen-worthy fantasy, contemplate the following concepts:

Which of these is really torture?
a) an electric drill being applied to a human being
b) watching someone eat peanut butter

Which of these is really suppression of dissent?
a) being beaten, arrested and thrown in a jail where they really do torture people, just for criticizing the government
b) having someone disagree with you

Which of these is really a violation of privacy?
a) every purchase you make is analyzed as to time, place, and objects purchased so when you, for example, buy beer and the cheapest brand of condoms in the store at 11:30 pm on a Friday you get automatic coupons for home pregnancy tests and infant formula
b) the numbers you call get tossed in with everyone else's phone calls in a ginourmous database that even a Cray has to think about analyzing

Everybody got that? OK, this will be on the midterm, so take notes. The bookstore said the elementary logic books are back in stock, and I really recommend you take advantage of that. Oh, and for extra credit, explain how global warming on Earth is entirely due to human activity, but global warming on Jupiter isn't.

Class dismissed!
(has anyone seen my pet troll? He hasn't shown up for simply ages!)

Monday, May 01, 2006

my very first troll!

I feel like I have finally arrived as a blogger. Everybody else has at least one, and sometimes more! Take a look at the little feller. He's shy, but I'm sure he'll be loads of fun.

Evidently you don't know the other definition of chickenhawk. A chickenhawk is also someone who hangs around bus and train stations looking for kids who've run away to the big city, so they can hook them into prostituting for them. In other words, a pimp; or in your case a "war pimp" who doesn't mind talking up a bullshit war on their website in the hopes of "hooking" someone into enlisting in your stead.You guys are idiots if you didn't know this, and we are going to make you regret this little tactic, war pimp. So go ahead and wear your urine-stained t-shirts, so we can point at you and laugh!
--Posted by Anonymous to
Snark Patrol at 5/01/2006 02:36:33 PM

See, this is what happens when trolls are cruelly left to fend for themselves in the big bad world. They think everybody lives like they do, knowing ... how shall I put this? ... That everyone knows the procedures for procuring child prostitutes. Not something I ever found a need for, but I'm sure Anonymous -- ah, that name!-- travels in different social circles.

Note, too, how bravely the troll upbraids me! Setting an example, even, by posting his real name! Anonymous, that should be easy to track down. So unusual.

I would like to point out that I have attracted a troll of excellent quality. Correct spelling and grammar, highly unusual in the common or garden variety troll. This one is a keeper.

Eagerly awaiting his next trick ("we are going to make you regret this little tactic..."),