Thursday, March 30, 2006

Thoughts on Drugs

In the abstract I can sympathize with those (coughInstapunditcough) who think the government should dump the whole War on Drugs and legalize. A good rule of thumb is less government is better.

In reality, however, one of the primary duties of a government is to protect the lives and property of its citizens. Ergo, I think the gummint is going to be in the drug interdiction business for a long time. Funny, but your friendly neighborhood dope peddler does not give the stuff away for free and if you are doing the chemical equivalent of roto-rootering your brain, holding down a paying job becomes, shall we say, difficult.

Which is why I, and everyone else in the Seattle-metro area, can't leave letters in our mailboxes for pickup any more. Hell, they had to come up with special reinforced and bolted-down USPS mailboxes because the crackheads were running them over with cars to steal the mail. Then they would go through and find any checks, wash them, and use them to finance their drug habits. More enterprising addicts would sell check-washing kits for just this purpose.

So no, I don't think the legalization of drugs would do any good. At least from my perspective. You can also ask the Dutch what they think of their liberal drug laws, and if they ever go out with the family for a walk in the park -- or if the comatose bodies and syringes spoil the atmosphere. I would also like to note Oxycontin is legal, and pharmacies have to take huge precautions or not stock it at all because people want to steal it.

Look at all the damage alcohol has done, and THAT's legal. We tried banning it once, but it had become so intertwined in our society it didn't work. It's worth the effort to prevent anything else from joining alcohol in the pantheon of socially-acceptable brain rotters.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Who can say when the dream arose? All we know is that it took years. Many lifetimes.

Fundamental work on the properties of silicon. Ultra-high vacuum technology (spun off from the space race, which they *may* have been involved with. Evidence is inconclusive, but note that a dog was launched at one point.)

The invention of semiconductors. Pushing back the frontiers of battery technology.

There were setbacks, of course. The first lasers were too large, too power-hungry, too easily broken. Grocery checkout scanners. Gun sights. Holographic security stickers. But their steely determination saw them through. They knew what they wanted, and eventually they got it.

Cheap, battery-powered laser pointers.

All hail the cats!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Comics to get through the week with

With the advent of web comics, the only thing a regular dead-tree newspaper is good for is cleaning windows. Here's a selection to try, featuring one that I can claim partial credit for (since I bribed Sgt. B for a Snarkatron drawing, little knowing he'd, er, take it and run. ALWAYS know where your weapon is pointing and what the backstop is. Wisdom that is not restricted to guns, I say.)

Sgt. Remington : I have been assured by the author that the epynomous character will be making an appearance soon. Meanwhile, the Castle and Denizens are being brought to demented life.

Schlock Mercenary
: Continuing the military theme, the adventures of a silicon-based amorph and a crew of space mercenaries.

Day by Day: Of course.

Girl Genius: Airships! Giant Robots! Huge Devices with Blinkenlights! Mad Science! (if the current story is too confusing, start with GG 101 instead.)

Radioactive Panda: Because the only thing better than Mad Science is MORE Mad Science!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Spring! Baby Eagles!

Some very clever folks have set up a webcam overlooking a bald eagle nest, where an egg is being firmly sat on. Take a look! I wonder when the little fuzzball will show up ...

Update: fixed the URL. Now I need to bribe the eaglet to harry a flock of pigeons (nervous, recently fed) over a certain hellaflopper pilot's newly washed car ....

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Anybody seen the fatwa forms?

Now I'm mad. Not content with ignoring genocide, skimming money from the Oil-For-Food program (whilst blaming the US for starving Iraqi moppets, nice touch), or putting slavering dictatorships in charge of the Human Rights Commission, the UN has finally gone too far.

They have insulted the Holy Legos. Don't they know how SACRED they are to us technogeeks? Don't they have any respect for our long-held cultural traditions? They must apologize! Abjectly!

And give their Legos to me. I don't have nearly enough, and their actions prove they are unworthy of them. Besides, it's offensive to me to even THINK of their slimy hands touching the Holy Legos.


Friday, March 17, 2006

Nothing Good or Bad, but Thinking Makes It So

Drugs, cults, and suicide. Always been with us, it seems, so they must answer some need, some problem. The common thread is thinking. Our hominid ancestors never realized the price for being able to figure out things like sharp-ended sticks, using fire, and complex verbal communication would lead to ski chalets, talk shows, and nearly exterminating the carnivores that used to eat them for lunch. Or that their descendents would sometimes want to turn their brains OFF. Ever tried looking at text and not reading it? I can't do it. Same way with thinking. The little voice in your head never stops. Always wondering, am I happy? Did I do the right thing? Is there something I should be doing instead of this? Will it ever get better?

Even Conan Doyle had his character Sherlock Holmes seek refuge from boredom in drugs. How many animals get bored? Or commit suicide? I've never heard of any. (Cats with catnip and/or laser pointers fall into the drug category, I think.) Cults -- someone else does your thinking for you. Everything you do, say, wear, is prescribed. No thinking. Ah, but you do have to pick your cult first! But once that is over you can coast, as long as you avoid worrying about whether you picked the right one.

This need to channel thinking cycles could also explain the popularity of TV shows, crossword puzzles, and sudoku. Which I would definitely advocate (yes, even the TV shows) as a healthy, socially acceptable alternative to scrambling your brain mentally, physically, or chemically.

Monday, March 13, 2006

The ports kerfuffle

I haven't had much to say about the whole ports contract mess, primarily due to a strong sense of ignorance on the whole subject. I've never managed a port myself, or even known someone who has. (Living in a port city I know that ports are important and a source of sailors on shore leave. If they are Russian sailors, they do not understand the concept of "you are too drunk, we won't serve you any more booze". Hilarity does not ensue.)

Now I see the blogosphere suffering from a bad case of twisted knickers (in both directions -- a neat trick), Congress displaying to the world a grand episode of nincompoopicity, and here is Snarkatron asking plaintively, "Do we have ANY facts to examine?"

This is how it looks to me. One camp mentions (correctly) that we have plenty of furriners running port contracts already (including the ChiComs) for years without disaster, that the UAE seems to be one of the good guys in the Mideast, that running the ports is not the same as OWNING the ports, and anyway the Coast Guard runs security. Further, any objection to UAE taking over the contract is based in isolationism, racism, and a blind disregard for the feelings of a trusted ally.

The other side points out that whoever is running the port will have access to an awful lot of information that could be put to Bad Use by Bad People, that for such a good ally UAE seems to be a nexus of a significant amount of dubious activity by Bad People, they refuse to do business with Israel, and they fund Hamas, among other disturbing extracurricular activities.

Me, I think the UAE seem very adept at telling people what they want to hear -- a useful survival skill when you are a little country with no power to speak of surrounded by highly irritable neighbors. Letting our Navy use their ports would fit in with that general behavior without necessarily telling us much about their true loyalties. Maybe both sides of the debate are right. Maybe there isn't a good, clear-cut option. But it sure would be nice to have, you know, actual verifiable facts instead of heated assertions to evaluate.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Idle Snarkage

1) The nicest thing the UN could do to commemorate Women's Day is to not rape any of them. I know, a lot to ask. How about not videotaping raping them?
2) During the current obesity crisis, clothing designers are requested to immediately cease and desist from perpetrating bare-midriff fashions. Thank you for your consideration.
3) The laws of Physics are enforced 24/7, punishment exacted immediately on the occasion of the infraction, and no consideration is given to color, gender, sexual orientation, political party, "feelings", fairness, stare decisis, bribery, species, or whether or not you were informed it would be on the quiz. I love science .....
4) Anybody who tells me I am a selfish, hedonistic person for not having children gets put last on the list of those I will do emergency babysitting for. Considering my evil nature, I am being considerate of society at large by failing to contribute to the gene pool.
5) Can I find a courageous politician willing to sponsor a bill that would allow recipients of unwanted telemarketing calls to send an invoice for time spent? My hourly rate is ... not cheap. And I have a chocolate habit to keep up.
6) Science and math should be required for graduation for all students not because we are sadistic, or because we want more science geeks, but because we live in a highly technology-dependent society and the little blighters need to be able to understand enough science to vote intelligently when the subject comes up. Enough math to be able to balance a checkbook would be nice too, even if it disqualifies them for running for Congress.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Number One Gun

My very first firearm. Isn't it cute? It's a Taurus PT-111 9mm.