August 1st, 2012

#3511: So much for going to Bible study.

Yeah, I slept right through that. See the previous post, "panic attack" and "Xanax". *sigh*

Now it's just about 11 PM and all I've eaten today are peanut butter sandwiches, so I'm going to go cook some hamburgers and french fries.

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Damn it, I like how Steven thinks! "When you have nothing else to post, post cheesecake!"

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Weer'd talks about why writers should know something about the guns their characters use.

When I was in high school, I remember a lecture given by a former teacher who used to run the Creative Writing class, Mort Castle. He talked about one story a student had written, about a guy who was going to assassinate the President. How?

With a "long-range shotgun with telescopic sight", from quite a long way away, on the order of a mile. Mr. Castle then proceeded to explain to us what was wrong with that picture, including the fact that even if a few pellets managed to hit the President, they would hit him with the velocity of raindrops. "Bip...bip bip WTF is it raining?"

"Deer slug"? From a mile away? Are you sure? But slug barrels are rifled, aren't they?

For the most part, when I have a character in a story armed, either I don't mention any specifics, or he carries something which doesn't exist.

My favorite weapon for the latter case is a catalytic laser; it uses a cartridge filled with reactants which--when mixed in the correct fashion--emit a pulse of laser energy carrying a few dozen watts or so. The laser doesn't burn flesh so much as it vaporizes it, leaving a wound behind that bleeds and (in the case of higher-powered weapons) causing a subcutaneous inflation that really messes shit up. (Because the flesh is vaporizing very quickly, the wound is pressurized and the pressure has to go somewhere. Basically, the target blows up.) Each cartridge is good for a multiple of shots, and depending on the configuration a typical gun can fire anywhere from 20-100 rounds before it needs reloading. Some are built to have multiple cartridges installed which the gun will change as needed, so a really high-end laser rifle could fire perhaps 400 or so rounds before reloading.

That one is a military-grade weapon, though, and most people use (to borrow the term from Traveller) slugthrowing weapons. Firearms, basically, good old-fashioned powder plus bullet in a convenient cartridge. Kinetic energy weapons, in other words. These are simple, easily manufactured, inexpensive, and do the job handily, which is why most people carry them.

And there are few restrictions on personal weaponry. Generally, if you can carry it, it's legal for you to carry--no papers, no registration, and no shock and dismay from casual observers as it's normal for people to be armed. Most places disallow things like hand grenades and other explosives, but if you want to tote around a fully-automatic AK-47 no one's going to stop you, or even remark on it (except maybe to ask, "Ain't that thing heavy?" because practical considerations still apply). Just, be ready to be gunned down by about half the room if you start shooting at people.

And the violent crime rate is effectively zero. There's still crime, of course, but it tends to be things like drug trafficking and burglary--essentially crimes where the risk of having to point a gun at someone is relatively low--rather than mugging, rape, robbery, and the like. "Burglary" meaning breaking in while no one's around and stealing stuff, where "robbery" involves sticking a gun in someone's face and saying, "Give me all your money!" Because in my SF world, sticking a gun in someone's face is a good way to get ventilated yourself.

I do like the idea of people looking at our hypothetical AK-47 carrier and saying "Geeze, why do carry that?" Not being critical; just wondering what the carrier gets out of lugging around a fully-automatic carbine (because they are heavy and bulky, even when slung over a shoulder) when he'd be just as safe carrying a semiautomatic pistol which would be less obtrusive and easier to use for self-defense.

Oh well.

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Vox Day posts another bit on the Watts Up With That takedown of the BEST paper that claims global warming is real, happening now, and ALL YOUR FAULT!

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Liberal media is dying now that the public has a choice. Heh. Wish I could have shown this to Dad. He would have loved it.

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Oh well. Time to cook some food.

#3512: Yes, that will fix everything.

Pat Quinn wants to ban "assault weapons". Because that orange-hair maniac shot up that theater in Colorado, Pat Quinn wants to ban certain types of guns in Illinois. Emphasis added:
The Chicago Democrat used his amendatory veto power to gut a bill related to ammunition sales and add language prohibiting the manufacture, delivery, sale and possession of semi-automatic assault weapons and attachments. Illinois lawmakers could accept or override the changes, or not call a vote at all.

The proposal — which specifically bans the AK-47, AR-15 and TEC-9 — was first reported by The Associated Press.
Do you know how many AR-15s there are in Illinois? Pat Quinn sure as hell doesn't, and he'd have to make an illegal database of gun sale records to find out.

"Attachments"--what if you want to attach a scope to your AR-15? What if you want to attach a light to your AR-15? The AR-15 is highly modular and a lot of things you can attach to other firearms can be attached to one. Does Quinn mean to outlaw all of them? Because if you can attach it to a hunting rifle you can for damn sure attach it to an AR-15.

This is nothing more than a Democrat dancing in the blood of victims of gun control, because I can guaran-god-damn-tee you that the red-headed stepchild wouldn't have been shooting up that theater if it didn't have a "no guns allowed" policy.

Take a gander at one of Oleg's recent posts. That guy is holding what looks (to these admittedly untrained eyes) like an AR-15.

Oleg's post finishes this way: "So anyone speaking of banning some subset of firearms only wants to rape your rights 'a little'...an inch at a time. Don’t even try to negotiate with people are outright evil."

I think that applies to Pat Quinn and his latest extrusion rather nicely.

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Obama wants to avoid one of the consequences of his inaction on the budget deal. The federal government is going into automatic sequestration unless Congress passes a budget and Obama signs it but Obama's not interested in there being any kind of budget passed.

Two reasons: first, because if a budget is passed, the profligacy of Democrats (and to a lesser extent, Republicans) becomes obvious. Second, because Obama desperately needs to campaign against a "do-nothing Congress" and he can't do that if things are actually getting done.

But sequestration means thousands of workers losing their jobs, and Obama doesn't want those pink slips being mailed a few days before the election because lots of those workers vote Democrat...unless, of course, they're getting fired because the Democrats are playing politics.

And sequestration isn't even a budget control measure; it's a freakin' rounding error. It's a hundred billion per year out of a four thousand billion per year budget. It's a 2.5% cut to the federal budget and about an eight percent cut to the annual defict.

...so I have to wonder how much unemployment sequestration will actually spur, particularly when compared to the spectacular failures of Obamanomics. The phrase "fart in the breeze" comes to mind. I don't see how a measly 2.5% cut to the federal machine can possibly result in mass layoffs when it's such a paltry sum compared to the total budget.

From here, I'd think most contractors could simply rearrange things a bit and keep people on, and not have to lay off anyone. Then again, this is the world of government contracting we're talking about, and it's a place where common sense simply DOES NOT EXIST.

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Borepatch has a post up about the failed "temporary" tax Georgia asked its voters to approve...and which they voted against in overwhelming numbers because they simply do not trust their state government do to what it says it will do.

I keep thinking about the Illinois toll road system. See, when the roads went in, the toll booths were supposed to be temporary. Once the bonds were paid off, Illinois voters were told, the toll booths would disappear and the roads would become freeways.

Well, here's an insightful and useful graphic which shows the frequency with which government actually ends revenue sources, voluntarily:



I don't know how many decades it's been since then, but the toll booths are still there, and they only just doubled the tolls this past January. This has led me to come up with the following aphorism:

There is no such thing as a free lunch, an honest politician, or a temporary tax.

Words to live by.

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The government wants to ban overpriced small rare-earth magnets. Because stupid people swallow them, the magnets stick together in their guts, and they then need operations to get the magnets out.

Like the idiocy with the gasoline cans, this is just rife with stupidity.

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Apparently the filibuster is bad again. That's a "headline comments" thread at AoSHQ but the first bit is about the Republicans in the Senate successfully filbustering Obama's judicial nominees, EXACTLY THE SAME WAY DEMOCRATS DID TO GWB IN 2004 AND 2008.
...[T]he NYTimes editorial on Monday said that it's time to end the filibuster for judicial nominees. It's quite a contrast to a NYTimes editorial in 2005 that said it is "most important" for senators to have a "right of veto" over judicial nominees.
And then we wonder what's different between now and 2005?

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"You keep using that word. I don't think it means what you think it means." (Reason #1 why I refuse to watch The Princess Bride: I already know all the good quotes thanks to some friends who overwatched it when it was first released to videotape.)

#9 is "tolerance" and #10 is "diversity" but the descriptions of all of them are completely accurate.

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From Things worse than nuclear power, which I checked last night for the first time since April:

The statistics on the single worst nuclear event ever, Chernobyl, does not exactly add up to "nuclear power is far too dangerous for us to use, ever."

I especially like the stats on thyroid cancer. Belarus got the worst of the fallout, and thyroid cancer rates there are lower than in the United States.
Chernobyl was a horrible example of what a terribly poor reactor design can do in the hands of an arrogant Soviet Russia with poor safety standards. No U.S. reactor is allowed to have the instability characteristics of the RBMK which caused the Chernobyl accident (a net positive void coefficient). There is no possibility for a U.S. reactor to become rapidly unstable in that way.

So, things worse than Chernobyl? Sadly, many, many things that we eat, drink, and use every day without even thinking twice. Is mitigating the innumerable--at least MILLIONS of deaths-- due to pollution, ozone, greenhouse gases, and their complications worth not disposing of emission-free nuclear for coal, oil, or natural gas to have a steady supply of energy?
Coal mining has killed more people in calendar year 2012 thus far than Chernobyl has killed in the entire 26 year period since the event occurred.

(Incidentally--56? I thought it was 57. Damn it, I've been overstating the fatalities from Chernobyl by almost two percent!)

Also:
It's easy to find things that have killed more than 56 people or things that increase cancer risk- things which the majority of us are happy to use and accept the risk every day. Car accidents, plane accidents, cell phones, smoking, trans fats, obesity, tanning, sun exposure, pollution, and so many more things....
"Cell phones"? What do cell phones do that kill people? Cell phones do not increase cancer risk any more than any other typical consumer RF source does. I suppose there are some instances--possibly as many as 56--wherein a cell phone killed someone, but I'd wager lots of them are not exactly conventional uses of cell phones and they are probably wildly unlikely. (Tearful gay man: "My boyfriend set his phone to vibrate and had me stick it up his ass. It got stuck and he died while they were operating on him to get it out!")

I still laugh when I recall the picture I linked some months ago, of a guy smoking a cigarette while protesting a nuclear power plant. That cigarette, by itself, was about a million times more dangerous to his health than all the nuclear power plants in the world combined--including, by the way, Chernobyl and Fukushima!

They do not, however, lightly include willful exposure to solar radiation in that list.
UVB from the sun is known to cause damage to DNA. But now it has been shown in a just released groundbreaking MIT study, which exposed mice to levels of radiation 400 times that of background radiation via radioactive iodine for 5 weeks, that no DNA damage was detected.
Typical background radiation for a person living in the United States is around 100 millrem per year. 400 times that is 40,000 millrem per year.

According to this, though, my average annual dose is about 326 millirem.

Now: in 2003 I had a comparative perfusion scan which involved the injection of a radioactive tracer. From that one test I was exposed to 1,200 millirem of radiation.

(Future reference: Radiation dosage/exposure conversion calculator.)

I often go to this example: Heinlein had an angiogram in the late 1970s, before the Three Mile Island (3MI) incident. His exposure from that procedure was 25,000 millirem.

3MI released 1,500 millirem.

And so? "The radioactivity levels found in the dirt around Tokyo in recent months, according to informal tests by anti-nuclear activist Arnie Gundersen, range from near natural or background levels to a few times natural levels."

I am letting my offer to Japan's government stand: I will live on the evacuated land near the Fukushima power plant. I'll build a house there and grow food and maybe have a farm, and I promise not to sue them if I abruptly mutate into something entirely unlikely.

I won't; I'll live well, and prove to everyone that not only is the land safe, but that there's nothing to worry about from nuclear power even when disaster strikes.

Why? Because I'm not afraid of it, because I understand how much risk there actually is. Which is "slim to none". Why, I take a bigger risk every time I get into the shower!

* * *

Third day on synthroid, and I actually do feel like I've got more energy. When I woke up this morning there was none of the cloying fatigue that I've come to accept as a fact of life, and in fact I felt like doing something.

Even now, a couple of hours later, I still feel that way. I don't feel like laying back down, but have the urge to go do something useful--work on the Fiero, maybe, or cut the grass, or something.

This is progress. I hope things keep improving like this. It'd be nice not to have to struggle to find the motivation to do things....

#3513: Posting from Lemonzen's iPad

This thing is pretty nifty, I must admit. I can almost but not quite touch type with it. The keyboard arrangement is a little inconvenient.

Made the trip up here for movie time, but arrived feeling crummy--and I think it's the synthroid that's doing it to me.

The synthroid is speeding up my metabolism, and so I'm getting symptoms of hypoglycemia. Problem is, it's also making me sick to my stomach.

Argh etc. More anon.