Friday, February 29, 2008

Big Ol' scary Guns

I read this article in the Mohave Daily News this morning:

KINGMAN - Several state senators want a bill passed that allows college students to carry guns on campuses.

The article focused on opposition to the bill. Not very balanced journalism.

Mohave County District 2 Sup. Tom Sockwell of Bullhead City said other alternatives should be looked at before going to the extreme of allowing guns on campuses. Teachers in elementary and secondary schools should learn to identify strange behaviors in problem students, such as those who cannot make friends, before there is a shooting incident.

So Tom thinks it's "extreme" to "allow" victims the means to defend themselves. Implicit in the word "allow" is that our masters decide what is good for us little people. Since the news article doesn't give us Tom's exact quote, we don't know what slant the reporter put on it. Sloppy reporting. And what should we make of teachers identifying "strange behaviors in problem students"? What Carpenter sees is a whole lot more drugs passed out to children and parents being hauled in to 'splain why their kids don't have more friends.

District 1 Sup. Pete Byers, who is retiring from the county board this year, said he supports the right to bear arms. However, he said police officers arriving at a scene of a shooting incident on a campus would not know who the “bad guys” are and who the innocent people are and may shoot at the wrong person.

The police may be confused, but you can bet the victims know exactly who the "bad guys" are. Remember Columbine? The police didn't go into the school for almost 3 hours. A gun-packing potential victim would probably be glad to save the police some work.

“We certainly support a citizens' right to legally carry a concealed weapon. However, we do not feel that allowing the concealed carry of a firearm on school campuses is a safe decision,” Bullhead City Deputy Chief of Police Brian Williamson said. “School violence situations are hectic
, chaotic events that provide extraordinary challenges to responding law enforcement officers. Adding more unidentified people carrying guns and possibly engaging in the exchange of gunfire with a suspect may only further confuse the situation and add to the danger for all involved.”

First, would the Virginia Tech massacre have made the front page if a gun-toting student had busted a cap up that little creep's ass? Would that have added to the danger or lessened it? And since a concealed weapon requires a permit, Brian Williamson is all about supporting our right to permission. Huh? If it's a right, why do we need permission?

Williamson said another issue is one of general safety. There may be increased incidents of people leaving weapons unattended in backpacks, briefcases and purses to be picked up by a child or someone unfamiliar with its operation.

Oh, the careless citizens. If we allowed them to pack heat, they'd leave their Glocks laying around everywhere, and children and people "unfamiliar with its operation" would become familiar. Bodies strewn everywhere! Save us, Mr. Po-lice Man.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Beyond Hypocricy

In this news article (Defense Secretary Robert Gates Tells Turkey To "Wrap Up" Iraq Incursion) from The Huffpo, our Decider-in-Chief says yet another thing that jars the ears.

"It should not be long-lasting," Bush said at a White House news conference. "The Turks need to move, move quickly, achieve their objective and get out."

There is a word beyond hypocrite, something much worse. Prig is a word which has gone out of use, but fits magnificently.

Oh, Those Walls!

Here's the west retainer wall. We painted this one a few days ago.
Here's the east retainer wall. We just painted it yesterday. Both the retainers start off about 15 feet tall. At that height, the steel reinforcing is #7 (7/8") rebar and the footing is 13' wide. The walls end up looking curved, but are actually 4' segments, which made them easier to form.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Ralph's Bathroom

A load of 1-1/2" round rocks was delivered today. I'll shovel the rocks into the curbed area which will become Ralph's bathroom. We got round rocks because they're smoother and easier on Ralph's feet.
Here's Ralph inspecting his new toilet area. He approves and can't wait for me to finish.
This view is to the north of our soon-to-be-finished earth-sheltered home. This photo doesn't do the desert poppies justice. They are the most numerous desert bloom right now.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Carpenter and Ralph

Here's Carpenter and his son, Ralph, out smelling the flowers.
View to the east of our soon-to-be-finished earth-sheltered home.
A pretty Desert Poppy.
I don't know what these are, but they're abundant and pretty.
These look like small Desert Daisies.

Nice Economy, Jackass!

This cartoon is by David Rees. A collection of his 'toons can be found here. Click on the cartoon for a larger image.

Shoulders of Giants 3

What if, after brooding in the still watches of the night, you concluded that most of what you knew was wrong? Perhaps you discover, in the harsh glare of Truth, that governments do more harm than good, motherhood is immoral and apple pie is poison. Would you shout your newly discovered truth from the hilltop or would you just quietly keep things to yourself? Fred Woodworth decided to write a newsletter called The Match!. Fred's truth is that government is no damn good to anybody but those holding the reins. No matter how nobly started, every government turns into a police state, trampling individuality. It's inevitable and unrepairable. It doesn't matter how many times the citizens, striking fear into the hearts of politicians, turn out the rascals. The supply of rascals is endless. No matter how much our government robs our paychecks, no matter how much it enslaves us and limits our freedom, people can't imagine life without it. Fred Woodworth is a giant because he can imagine voluntary human cooperation without a government forcing us to "play nice".
Fred Woodworth has published The Match! since 1969. He doesn't approve of computers, so he can only be reached by mail. His style sheet is free, but donations are welcome. The address is:
The Match!
P.O. Box 3012
Tucson, AZ 85702

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Democracy Ain't What It Used To Be.

This is from Barry Crimmins website:

Americans should be bursting with pride. We've pulled together and accomplished something once thought impossible --
we've pile-driven George W. Bush's approval rating to an abysmal 19%. Bush's disapproval rating is a real tribute to the strength of our government. In any other democratic state (and most dictatorships!) 81% of the people would wield enough collective power to drive villains from office. But not in the U.S. of A!

Truly a sad state of affairs. Is it time to take up arms? But who would we take up arms against? My homies, the citizens of Arizona(McCain excepted), are no more to blame than I am for the wars that have bankrupted this country and robbed us of freedom. Driving the villains from office via ballot box doesn't work, so I suspect nothing will change after the 2008 elections.

This is from RangerAgainstWar's Blog:

The U.S. is not responsible for protecting people that will not bear arms in their own defense.

If they can not protect their own freedom, Ranger concludes they are not ready to be free.

What is sauce for the Iraqi is sauce for the American. Perhaps we hate ourselves for our freedom just like the rest of the world. Sigh.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

More Lifted 'Toons

Finishing Touches

Here's Deanne, painting the west retaining wall. Notice the steel strips are masked off. They won't get painted. We'll just let them rust.
Here's Dave, pulling off the masking tape over the steel strips.
Here's what the west retainer wall looks like now. In the next week we'll work on the east retainer wall.
Here's a typical Arizona sunset. Sunsets and sunrises are what put Arizona on the map.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Shoulders of Giants 2

I'm not particularly smart. I've never originated a new, brilliant idea. My skills as a carpenter are OK. I can do good work, but I'm slow. Anything I've accomplished in my life has been due to the character flaw of stubbornness. That said, I have one talent which sets me apart from my fellow humans. I'm a giant-spotter, and I have enough agility to climb up onto their shoulders. Giant-spotting is not difficult, it just takes, in the words of Richard Mitchell, being able to "choose the better from the worse". Mitchell said that our appetites and beliefs interfere with that choosing, and that the job of education is to lead us out of the condition of childhood long enough to do some choosing. He said that education is not just the handy knack of literacy or the ability to compete with the Japanese. Mitchell referred to "moments" of education, not a permanent thing at all. And this choosing is enormously important as we ponder the question of "what to do until the undertaker arrives". Richard Mitchell is not the first giant I spotted, but I was able to see lots of other giants by standing on his shoulders.
Richard Mitchell wrote at least 4 books and for 20+ years wrote a newsletter called The Underground Grammarian. You can read all his newsletters online here.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Shoulders of Giants

Newton, by Sir Godfrey Kneller, 1689

If I have seen further than others, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants.*

Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727), letter to Robert Hooke, February 5, 1675/1676. Newton was born on December 25 by the Julian Calendar, at a time when it mattered which calendar was used.

Mo' Flowers

I saw these flowers alongside a road in Bullhead City.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Spring in our Step

A little winter rain and the ground explodes in green and purple. These are just weeds and the flowers are small, but they're pretty. Seeing them in profusion only makes a warm winter day more enjoyable.

These little yellow guys only open up in full sun.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Excitement Builds

The finishing touches and final details on a home seem endless. Here's the curb for Ralph's bathroom. After I strip the forms, I'll fill the the inside of the curb with smooth rocks. Ralph won't dig in gravel, so he'll come back in the house clean.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Ralph's Yard

The curb form is ready to pour.
The curb is reinforced with 2-#5 bars, continuous. You can also see the PVC sleeves to allow for drainage.

Jupiter and Venus

Oooh, prittee! Ralph and I delight in our every-morning views of Jupiter and Venus as we take a walk down our dusty Arizona road. Jupiter is in the upper middle of the picture. A week ago the two planets appeared close together. They've been slowly gapping farther and farther apart.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Ralph's Special Piddle Place

Here's the current project. I'm going to pour a curb around an 8' x 11' area and fill with 3/4" gravel. Then our welder, who also happens to be our electrician, will weld up an enclosure. The curb and gravel are to discourage digging, as much for Ralph as for the indigenous coyote population. The enclosure is necessary for Ralph's safety, as we have not had success teaching Ralph how to shoot coyotes with a Glock. We'll also add a small, carpet-covered "patio" to aid Ralph in stepping down from the doggie door and to give him a place to chill and watch the outside world.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Anyone but Hillary

Hillary, shown here eating a baby, is probably not the best choice for president.

Do NOT vote for Hillary. Don't make me have to shoot this puppy.

What's Wrong with the U.S.A.?

Dubai is booming. Look at the cranes. The word prosperous just doesn't seem adequate. Dubai is not engaged in war anywhere.

This once-prosperous country is awash in red ink, mired in recession. Funny we don't call it a depression anymore.

Gee, do ya think the F-ing Iraq War could have anything to do with our economic travails?

Passive Solar Heat, Baby!

Look at that blue sky. No dismal, cloudy days in an Arizona winter. Plenty-O-Sun.

It does get cold, though. Look at that thermometer. Brrr!

With lows in the 30's, it's time to turn on the heater. We do this by opening the mini-blinds and letting the sun do its thing. Just letting the sun in the windows keeps our house a constant 70 degrees inside.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Thermal Mass and Passive Solar Heat

The first week of December, the temperature inside our house was a constant 68 degrees. In two months we've gained two degrees. Even though our A/C units are hooked up, we haven't used them. They're not needed in the winter. Passive solar heat and the thermal mass of our heavily insulated concrete structure keep the house at a constant, warm temperature. We eagerly anticipate testing the house this summer when the outside temperatures will hit 120 degrees.

Finishing the Exterior

Here's the front of our house. Today's project is caulking around windows.
The first step is to push backer rod into the gap between the window and finish stucco.
For caulking I use Sikaflex 1A in Capitol Tan. It comes premixed in the small tubes. The consistancy is like silicon caulking. I use a caulking gun to apply a large bead, then I strike it off with my finger.
Here's the Sikaflex applied between the rusting steel panel and retaining wall. Sikaflex stretches 50%, so it's an ideal product for any place that might have some movement. The gray concrete retainer wall will be painted the same color as the house stucco. We'll also paint the Sikaflex, as the Capitol Tan color doesn't closely enough match the house color. For a lot more pictures of our 2-year homebuilding project, see our photo web page.

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Animating Contest of Freedom

"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen."

- Samuel Adams, speech at the Philadelphia State House, August 1, 1776

Sam Adams was a career politician. He started off as a tax collector and ended up as governor of Massachusetts. When he was campaigning for office you can bet his stump speeches didn't have any vague crap about "hope and change".

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Ralph, an Underground Dog

What a difference a fresh-to-death haircut can make. Here's my son Ralph, soon to be America's premier underground dog, relaxing while his dad is building the coolest house in Arizona.

The Right Question

That, Detective Spooner, is the right question.

I, Robot

This country is falling apart and there's no shortage of great minds. The Republican candidates(Ron Paul excepted) say more war and tax rebate checks will fix things just fine. The Dems say a little less war, tax rebate checks, and universal health care will smooth the bumpy road the little people walk on. The Federal Reserve Board says lowering interest rates will save Wall Street and rescue the economy.
What is the one thing that ties all of these alleged solutions together? They all need to be funded by firing up the printing press. Whose printing press? That, Detective Spooner, is the right question.
Back in the old days, paper money represented stored gold and silver. A paper note couldn't be printed until the gold or silver it represented was deposited in a bank. That one-to-one relationship is what made the dollar a sound currency. Given that constraint, our government found it difficult to finance war and fund a huge standing army and military bases around the world.
Who benefits when a counterfeiter fires up a printing press? The first person to spend the new bills, of course. Everyone else suffers from the resulting inflation. So who is the first person to spend newly printed(and unearned) Federal Reserve Notes? And since the Federal Reserve is not a government entity, who is the owner? Go to the Fed's website and try to understand their FAQ about ownership.
OK, here's some simple math. If the total wealth in the U.S. is measured at (I'm guessing)10 trillion dollars(FRN's), and inflation is 10 per cent(another guess), how much did that "first person" steal? And what did he spend it on? That, Detective Spooner, is the right question.