Wednesday, December 31, 2008

And so it begins ...

2009 is going to be such fun, I can tell already. Books that can electrocute you. I *especially* love that one is called "Wiring Complete, Expert Advice from Start to Finish." Expert in what, exactly?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Bloggers: parasites, or symbiotes?

As newspapers crash and burn every day, they seem to be able to blame everyone except themselves. People are canceling subscriptions, advertisers are taking their business elsewhere, and bloggers are pointing and laughing. This provokes the newspapers into claiming bloggers would be nothing, nothing without them! Bloggers don't do the hard work of investigative reporting! (Actually, some bloggers DO. Yon, Totten, Malkin, and the horde at Pajamas Media--and the reason newspapers are getting hammered into the ground is they *don't*). Complaints are also made about the internet. Attempts by newspapers to put their content behind a firewall failed, to be charitable about it. So, maybe they don't have content people want? Or they thought they could charge the same rates when no paper or ink or printing presses or delivery boys were involved?

Sure, bloggers quote newspaper articles. Most of the blogs I read are quoting those articles to shoot them full of holes. They would LOVE it if the newspapers wrote accurate stories with logic connecting the data like pearls in a necklace! (After recovering from the shock, that is.)

Here's what I'd like to see, self-righteous newspapers. An edition wherein you use no wireservices. No articles originally published elsewhere. No syndicated columnists. Only content your actual employees generate.

It wouldn't take much paper, that's for sure.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Not Ready for the Ice Age, part II

A few resigned Snarkish observations ...
Made it in to the office today, for the first time in a week and a half. Barely. Oh, not because the roads are bad. Some back roads are still a trifle messy, but not the ones I use. No, the local bus entity decided that it was on holiday schedule this week. Not only did they neglect to inform the riders, or the news stations, they surprised their *drivers* with the information. Nothing makes a bus driver happier than getting up at O-dark-thirty, driving to the assembly point, and then being informed you aren't needed today, actually. A simple phone call the evening before and they could have slept in for a change. Oh, and the park n' ride lot? Completely untouched by snowplows. Parking was an exercise in creative guessing. On ice.

Now, downtown Seattle was nicely free of snow and ice. So what did we have instead? High winds. It made the building creak like a ship in a gale, plus going outside meant roping together for safety. Whitecaps on Elliot Bay, too. So all that sand they used instead of salt got in my eyes. They had better get their act together soon. I suspect this kind of weather is going to become more common in the coming years.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I'm dreaming of a brown Christmas

It is snowing again. At least an inch on top of the previous 11. What could possibly be better than that? Freezing rain predicted for tonight, thus producing the world's slickest surface for Christmas morning. The stupidity of Seattle has now achieved world notice. Thanks a bunch, guys, for making us a laughingstock--but at least *you* feel all smug about preserving the (saltwater) Puget Sound from the horrific threat of -- salt. Now, if I was a cruel person (ooo! I am!) I would point out that cars smashing into each other because they can't brake on the eco-decorative unsalted hilly Seattle streets can suffer loss of structural integrity, leading to leaking toxic fluids such as antifreeze, oil, transmission fluid, and gasoline. But that's all right, apparently. Snarkatron predicts a heavy downpour of lawsuits from injured Seattle drivers in the near future. Even the woo-woo liberal Seattle Times is getting grumpy about the slick streets.

However! I have heat, and power, and food, and wonderful neighbors that stop by to see if everything is all right. In the spirit of the festive season, I offer you, my (I think I'm up to eight now) readers .... Deck the Halls with Boston Charlie!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Not over yet

This is my backyard.

That's 6.5" of Global warming, with more on the way. Near as I can figure from the long-range forecast, it should stop snowing around April. I don't ever recall getting this much snow, and I was born here.

I think I will just give up and hibernate ...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

What do you mean, MORE snow?

Here in the (formerly) soggy corner of the map it is looking rather like Maine, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ontario, and other places I left for a very good reason. The prevalence of water in the solid form. I do not care for ice or snow, for static electricity that launches the cats when I try to pet them, or for the eternal surprise of the science-free mind that a big fancy SUV does not, in fact, exempt one from the laws of physics. (Hint: four-wheel-drive means NOTHING if you have no traction.) We got dumped on last Thursday, *plus* the temperatures have remained considerably below freezing. What does that mean? Well, we don't get snow much so we only have a handful of snowplows. We venerate the salmon and all its works, so salt is a big no-no. Oh, and we have lots of hills and roads set up with the assumption that vehicles will not go sliding off them. Add it all up: the local roads have all the snow that originally landed on them but it is now compacted to glacial ice. And we get little incidents like this. Fortunately no one was injured.

Now they are telling us another storm is on the way. Snow *and* high winds, bringing the distinct possibility of power outages. In below-freezing temperatures. The power companies are preparing for trouble and dispersing trucks ahead of the storm. I've seen several myself, one parked in a local grocery-store parking lot. I guess we'll see what happens. But if Solar Cycle 24 doesn't get with the program I'm probably going to have to get a generator next year. On account of all this global warming, see.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ice Age

The temperature at Snark Central this morning was 17 F. Just yesterday Seattle recorded its lowest temperature for that day at 19F. Fortunately I have cold weather experience, and any day I can get my car to start is a good one. However, this is NOT the kind of weather we are accustomed to here. Water in the solid form is a rare occurrence. The sad thing is we may be in for more of it in the years to come -- Solar Cycle 24 is being rather coy. If it doesn't show up soon, or if it shows up in a weak state, we could be in for some mini-ice-age action.

And if we get glaciers, the only thing to do is encourage Al Gore to throw himself into a nearby volcano to appease the angry snow gods. Isn't he always saying we have to do *something* to fix the climate issue? Lead by example, O Goracle! (Yeah I know that won't fix anything but neither will building thousands of new hybrid smugmobiles or destroying the world economy and that doesn't stop him from advocating it....)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sunday Funnies

-NEW DISCOVERY! No Need For Bushido, a wonderful story set in feudal Japan. The art style evolves greatly over the course of the story to date, but it has ninjas, and a blind wandering Taoist Priest that spouts terrific deranged wisdom quotes, a perennially drunk and combative ronin, a loud obnoxious princess, and a naive samurai. Also contains improv Kabuki!
-My Ninja Family. More sketches. I sense a story brewing eventually...
-Girl Genius is having a slight, silly excursion into a steampunk version of Cinderella. Very silly excursion.
-TwoLumps and a... strange Christmas tree.
-Crowfeathers and a very nasty giant worm with teeth!
-xkcd My life is never like "National Treasure" either, I am sorry to say.
-Lackadaisy has some art updates!
-Dresden Codak is still seized by artistic dread and indecision, and Argghhh-onauts has joined the Foreign Legion and forgotten to post.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Legal Drugs in Action

Holland ought to be a libertarian dream. Prostitution is legal, and so is possession and use of marijuana. Oh look, it seems even when those things are legal they still attract criminals and make the neighborhood go to, ah, pot. So the Dutch are shutting down some brothels and "coffee shops" where you could get a cuppa joe and a spliff. Seems the area had a problem with organized crime, who would have thought it? Given that organized crime can get a shakedown operation on garbage collection, which has always been legal in the US, how exactly is legalizing prostitution and drugs going to evade their notice? Oh yes, I know the approved story is how all that goes away as soon as dope is legal and look, Prohibition FAILED, lather-rinse-repeat. Actually, Prohibition had a big success which we don't even notice because we take it for granted -- public drunkenness is rather rare (New Orleans during Mardi Gras being a notable exception). That wasn't always the case.

The other hoary chestnut the legal-drugs crowd bring out to be admired is the prevalence of hemp in early American life. Even George Washington grew hemp! they say triumphantly, expecting that little factoid to destroy the flimsy house of cards erected by those notorious wet-blankets who won't let them get high. Hemp, the fiber != pot, the smokable drug. When you have a citation to say, a letter wherein Geo. expounds "Ye brownies of Martha's are in truth moft amazing and caufe Colours to be feen the like of which I have not previoufly perceived..." get back to me. Lots of evidence they grew hemp, none that they smoked it. Those guys actually got stuff DONE.