July 19th, 2007

#466: A week's worth of headlines

RFK Jr sez people who deny global warming are "traitors". Meanwhile, there is snow in Buenos Aires for the first time in decades and South America is suffering record, and deadly, cold spells. Neal Boortz opines that global warming must only apply to the northern hemisphere.... (And Australia had its coldest June since 1950.)

Speaking of Neal Boortz, he links to an article about a really, really stupid anti-gun law.

The always-interesting Mark Steyn comments about Britain's National Health System and its dependence on foreign doctors.

* * *

Some week.

Hugo Chavez has begun to re-write the Constitution of Venezuela, ensuring that his title as "President" really means "dictator for life, just like my hero, Fidel Castro".

The big news in the Philippines was related to the capsizing of a ferry. It didn't make the news here, that I can tell, because there was little or no loss of life involved.

There is an Islamist revolutionary group in the Philippines with--I am not making this up--the acronymical title of MILF. I don't recall what the letters stand for, and a Google search turns up a bunch of porn sites. (I didn't even bother to try it. If you don't believe me, go ahead and Google "MILF" and see what you get. But don't do it at work [or where kids can see] because I can guaran-god-damn-tee you that it'll be a firing offense.) My knowledge of radical politics says the title must be Militant Islamic Liberation Front, but don't quote me.

I learned of this because MILF had ambushed and killed 14 Philippine Marines; it was all over the news. Predictably, MILF blamed the Marines for the atrocity. "We tortured you and cut off your heads, but it's all your fault."

* * *

Democrats trying to set a timetable for an Islamic terror victory unconditional surrender to Al Qaeda a withdrawal of troops from Iraq failed, fortunately.

* * *

I have an enormous amount of anime to watch. I finished a buttload of downloads before I went to the Philippines but I haven't watched much of anything since June. That's going to change, but not right now.

* * *

The suitcase which American Airlines lost contains, among other things, the passport-style photographs of my fiancee which I needed to file the application for her visa. So I have to wait until she sends me new pictures (or until AA finds my suitcase and ships it to me) in order to file the paperwork. Obviously I want to get her here as quickly as possible since I started missing her the moment our last hug was over, but the visa will take months even in the best-case scenario.

It also has my Fiero Project brag book, the colored layouts of American Dawn, and a copy of my novel Sparks of the Tempest. To say nothing of the souvenirs, a nice picture with frame that my fiancee's aunt gave me, a nice tee shirt (same source), several books including volumes 1-5 of the excellent manga series I"s, and a bunch of dirty clothes which I like, including my favorite shirt and pair of sandals. Arggh.

A tracking device which uses a cell phone and GPS receiver would be a good thing to have in your luggage, I think. Make it not-too-expensive; you could trigger it by sending an SMS text message and it would then text you with its GPS coordinates. That would be really useful and really cool, and manufactured in bulk it shouldn't cost too much. Of course, the airlines, the FCC, and the FAA would never allow it.

On an unrelated note, I was also thinking about making a Faraday cage for electronic devices so you could use them at any time during a flight. I thought of calling it the "podCage"; it would envelop an iPod with a conductive casing that would prevent the leakage of any RFI, allowing a single port to admit a headphone cord. It would be flexible and allow one to see the display and manipulate the controls. But it could work for other devices as well, not just iPods, and could even be used with digital cameras.

Of course, putting a cell phone in a Faraday cage defeats the purpose of having a cell phone in the first place.

* * *

I managed to draw a few more pages of Megumi's Diary while on my trip, but unfortunately not as many as I'd hoped to get done.

I did manage to read several novels, including the rest of the extant "Dresden Files" books, except for the latest one, White Knight, which is only available in hardcover.

My fiancee is addicted to I"s, too. Heh.

#467: Got my suitcase.

It arrived about an hour ago. One of the zippers for the front pockets was damaged. You know how suitcases have two shuttles or zippers or whatever they're called? One is missing and the other is missing its fob, yet it was zipped shut with the remaining thingy in the middle of the zip. How they managed that, I don't know.

All my luggage was secured with TSA-approved locks. The damaged zipper was secured with a TSA-approved combination lock. The contents in the compartment which were secured with the damaged zipper were all intact; it looks to me like TSA fucked up my suitcase. Whom do I sue? Particularly since it was a TSA-approved lock which they could have opened with a key?

The other front compartment had been opened and improperly secured--the lock was dangling from one zipper/shuttle/thingy--and some of the contents of the upper compartment had been stowed in there.

I do think TSA is behind this stupidity, and not American Airlines. I'm willing to bet that TSA fucked up my luggage. According to the AA representative who called bare minutes after my lost suitcase was delivered, the large bag had been "delayed" at Los Angeles and sent to Chicago-O'Hare on the first possible flight. To me, that says "TSA is a bunch of incompetent thugs and goons".

Anyway, the important thing is that I have all my stuff. So the one thing that marred my trip has been--at least mostly--remedied.

I'm not really angry about the damage; the suitcase is usable and I can handle losing the use of the small front compartment--it will zip shut, just not conveniently and I can't lock it--and the seriously damaged suitcase is being repaired or replaced, which is fine. And I didn't lose anything.

This kind of stuff happens. That's really just about all you can say; nothing on this Earth is perfect and there will always be problems and errors. This time it happened to me, and the loss is small enough that I can shrug philosophically and remind myself that this is the first time I've ever had any trouble with airline travel. (Not that I fly a lot, of course.) The inconvenience was minor even at worst.

Still, I expect to travel lighter on my next trip to the Philippines. Maybe that will help.

#468: Al Gore, at it again.

Gore hosts a wedding reception serving an endangered species to guests. (Or maybe it's just "threatened" right now. Either way, it's close enough for government work. Literally.)

And not only is the fish endangered, but the practice of fishing for it kills members of an endangered species of birds! It's an environmentalist hypocrite two-fer!

Oh, but perhaps Al Gore is offsetting his species destruction by purchasing "extinction credits" from himself at a fat profit? (Is there such a thing?)

One might think that Al Gore would be a little more careful of his public image--but why should he? News like this won't get reported in the mainstream news, at least not in the US. The article doesn't say how many endangered fish were served at this reception, but how big is the typical "rich person" wedding these days? A hundred guests? Two hundred? (But let George Bush eat one chilean sea bass and see what happens....)

Al Gore could probably get away with serving baby harp seal with a side dish of komodo dragon and spotted owl garnish, grilled over giant redwood, with french fries fried in rendered humpback whale blubber, and still the media would shrug it off as "not news", since Al Gore is "just" an ex-vice-president who is clinging desperately to the public eye as a neo-eco-nazi.

I'm sure he would be "shocked, shocked!" that the menu had contained an endangered species if anyone took him to task for it. But no one will.

"Close enough for government work. Literally": The EPA has a history of ruining the value of land by finding an endangered species on it. Someone has a chunk of land they bought as an investment; then some jerk finds a bird or a flower or a rat or something and the EPA declares the land a "habitat" and makes it off-limits for development. The owner of the land suddenly finds himself with a worthless asset. The EPA doesn't have to pay anyone "fair market value" because it doesn't actually take ownership of the land, not in the legal sense, so "eminent domain" rules don't apply. End result: the EPA can ruin your investment with a stroke of the pen, and there's not a god damned thing you can do about it.

But of course these rules don't apply to Al Gore and his cronies, and they don't even pretend to follow them. (Does anyone think he would even bother with "carbon credits" if he wasn't making money on the deal?) Hence Al Gore flying on private jets which consume more fuel in a single cross-country trip than a Hummer H2 uses in its entire service life, spending $30,000 per year on electricity and gas for his mansions, and serving an endangered or threatened species to hundreds of guests.

Go, Al, go.