Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Blog Shoot!

I've been remiss, but better late than never:  BLOG SHOOT SATURDAY, DEC 3!!!

Not too far from Charles Town, and it's supposed to be a nice place.  Murphy's Law has made the arrangements so I'm taking that as a guarantee.  I only have two pistols, a shotgun, and a Japanese rifle to play with, but I'll buy ammo if folks will let me play with their toys too.

We have a new Irish pub opening on Dec. 1 - I'm going to give it an official inspection on opening day (It will probably take me several hours to ensure that all their beer is good...) and check on space.  Mayhap we will end up back there to also inspect their food offerings.  Local friends of mine have been involved in its establishment and I have high hopes for it.  In any case, we will bang away at various targets from 9 to 2 and then thoroughly inspect SOMEBODIES food and drink offerings!

P.S. to Canada Jenn lurker - I live just down the street and I have a spare room if you really want to make the trip!


Shtoopid phone.  And shtoopid memory.  I took some pics while away last week.  I want to post them as part of  a blog.  I can't find the shtoopid chip that I need to copy them to my computer.  Until then, I thought this might entertain:

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Victorian Cholera, Global Warming, Settled Science

I like well written histories.  When I'm sick, I have a perverse tendency to read well written histories about illness:  bubonic plague, Spanish flu.  Or disasters:  the Johnstown Flood, the great London fire of 1666 (which followed the plague outbreak of 1665 - Charles II just couldn't catch a break).  Last Saturday's selection was The Ghost Map, by Steven Johnson - a tale of Victorian epidemiology.

This was one of my random grabs on one of the last days before Borders closed.  It got my attention because it was about a map I had heard of but never seen.  Created from carefully collected disease data, it provided a clear visual indication of the source of the disease.  Common enough now, with computer GIS programs handily generating confirmation of the old saying "A picture is worth a thousand words."  This map, however, was painstakingly created in 1854.

London of 1854 was a nasty place a-swim in muck.  The Great Stink had not yet caused the engineering marvel of the London sewer system to be built. Way too many humans and animals were crammed into way too small an area without a sanitation infrastructure and their garbage and effluvia was just dumped - in cellars, yards, alleys, streets, the river.  Mounds of what was euphemistically called "night soil" were piled high under houses, and when the mounds grew too high it was loaded up and carted to the Thames, which served as a very large open sewer.

There were some sewage systems, but they were piecemeal and scattered, and so dangerous that occasionally methane gas would build up enough that some poor sewer scavenger would blow himself up with the flame of his kerosene lamp. Such a feces-saturated environment is, of course,a perfect breeding ground for disease, and one of the diseases that loves it best is cholera.

Cholera is a nasty bacteria that works by a cycle of ingestion, reproduction, then production of a toxin that causes the host to violently and rapidly expel the fluids in its body.   With the fluids go new bacteria,  re-introducing the disease into the water source to start the cycle again.  It kills by dehydration caused by fierce diarrhea.  Even today, it's only treatment is re-hydration and food - there is no antibiotic for it.

In August of 1854, a five month old baby in Soho came down with cholera.  She survived nearly a week - surprising for an infant with a disease that can kill in a day's time.  Her mother did as was always done, washing the baby's soiled clothes in a bucket and tossing the water into the cistern in front of their tenement on Broad Street.  It must have been awful for the woman - her husband came down with it too, and in the end she lost both of them.  Within three days, 127 people had died - by the time the outbreak ran its course 616 people were dead.

We live in an environment where we don't even think about the availability of water - it's just there for the turning on of a tap.  We don't much think about its cleanliness, either.  Neither did the people of that era - water was just water.  It might smell, it might be cloudy, but it was just water.  It didn't come to the house, though - the source was the public pumps scattered throughout the area.

Disease was known to be spread through miasma - contaminated air.  Combating an outbreak consisted of burning pots of tar and other smoky fuels.  That had long been known - the science was settled.  There was an annoying gad fly by the name of Dr. John Snow who was suggesting that it was passed through water, but the authorities knew better.  In truth, the local health officials did go into the area in an attempt to find the source of the outbreak.  But here's the thing - all of their research was geared towards a predetermined answer.  The science was settled - disease spread through bad air - so their research was skewed to find that answer.

Dr. Snow, on the other hand, suspected that the disease was traveling through the water, and he carefully overlayed the cholera deaths on a street map that also showed the community pumps.

Snow's map, the map of ghosts, clearly showed the outbreak centered around the Broad Street pump.  And as it turned out, the crumbling cistern into which the mother had thrown the wash water from her dying baby's clothes was just a few feet away from the pump. 

Legend has it that removal of the Broad Street pump handle finally stopped the outbreak, but in truth it was probably burning itself out already - too many hosts dead or fled.  But that's not the important part of the story.  What got my attention was the well-meaning health officials trying to deal with it.  They were so convinced that they already knew what was happening that their research couldn't help but find it.  How many of our climate scientists have unwittingly fallen into the same sort of trap of believing that the science of one thing is so settled that their research is unwittingly geared to find more evidence of it?  How many times have we heard the circular arguments:  if it's hot it's global warming, and if it's cold it's global warming?

Unfortunately, we tend to think of those in the past as less intelligent and more flawed than we are, thinking that we don't make the same mistakes.  Truth is, human nature has remained the same, and the researchers of the past just dressed differently and had different tools, just as the researchers of the future will.   And thinking that any science is settled is just as liable to lead to bad science now as it was 150 years ago.

They're Scaring Folks

As noted by Guffaw,  the administration is trying to squeeze out hunters and target shooters on public lands.  From the "Washington Whispers" blog at www.usnews.com:
Gun owners who have historically been able to use public lands for target practice would be barred from potentially millions of acres under new rules drafted by the Interior Department, the first major move by the Obama administration to impose limits on firearms.
Officials say the administration is concerned about the potential clash between gun owners and encroaching urban populations who like to use same land for hiking and dog walking.
Bad enough, but here's the kicker (bolding is mine):
"It's not so much a safety issue. It's a social conflict issue," said Frank Jenks, a natural resource specialist with Interior's Bureau of Land Management, which oversees 245 million acres. He adds that urbanites "freak out" when they hear shooting on public lands.
It's not a safety issue.  It just scares city folks.  Next thing you know they'll be whining because they got some nature on their shoes.

And as to their discussion of trash, I have just two words:  Zuccotti Park.

What this administration can't get one way, they'll go for another way.

The full story can be read here.

And I'm not a hunter.  But I have sense enough to check the hunting seasons if I'm thinking of hiking in certain places at certain times of the year.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Mus musculus

From Wikipedia:

A mouse (plural: mice) is a small mammal belonging to the order of rodents. The best known mouse species is the common house mouse (Mus musculus). It is also a popular pet. In some places, certain kinds of field mice are also common. This rodent is eaten by large birds such as hawks and eagles. They are known to invade homes for food and occasionally shelter.
Being laid up has certain advantages:  cats get extra snuggling (I've got 3 - it does get crowded on the sofa), books get read (The Ghost Map, Lampiere's Dictionary), the Netflix queue gets attention (thumbs up to both "The Last Lovecraft" and the original "The Taking of Pelham 123").  And you notice things that you might not otherwise.  Like the flick of  a tail as a mouse slips out from the laundry room and behind the tv stand and the pitter patter of little feet in the ceiling.  Perry has nabbed one since someone left me Sunday's gift, but I've seen and heard at least two more since then.  That's a bit above the norm for the seasonal influx.

A couple years ago I ran into an very large, very fat copperhead as I was clearing brush next to my house.  I let him be and just keep an eye out when I'm working outside.  This boom in the mouse population makes me wonder if that version of the better mousetrap has moved on or died. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thoughtful Kitties

Diagnosis - bacterial infection of throat.  Doc said something about it being like having bronchitis in the throat.  I really didn't care about the details.  At that point I was at the "Just make it better pleeeeeaaaasssseee!" stage.  Although I couldn't say that because I pretty much completely lost my voice for two days.  Thanks to antibiotics, I'm feeling better today.  Not ready to dance a jig, but better.

The cats have been happy to have me to cuddle with for hours on end, and apparently they are aware enough of something being wrong that they felt they should help with my care.  So when I woke up yesterday morning I found that they very thoughtfully had left breakfast in bed next to me:

I really was appreciative.  They were probably somewhat puzzled by my tossing their gift out the door, though.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Hack, wheeze

And I'm thinking maybe strep - a trip to the urgent care may be in order.  Back when my groggy brain, much jostled by coughing, begins functioning again.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thank You

At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month I offer my sincere thanks to all those, living and dead, who have served.

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders Fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Occupy Wall Street and Antisemitism

Update 2:38 pm -

I give up on the links.  If you can get out to www.youtube.com/user/encounterbooks watch their videos.  They are great.

And because I went to the trouble of making a pretty picture for it when I was trying to link through www.wcbm.com:

Wizard Free

So over time we've been treated to things like this:
There are white niggers.  I've seen a lot of white niggers in my time; I'm going to use that word.  Sen. Robert Byrd (D) WV, 2001
Didn't hear much about it from liberals, although if you bring up Byrd's past, they tell you he left his racist past behind.  OK, I accept that - people do reform.  Except that his bigotry apparently still wasn't left completely behind in 2001, and he was a liberal darling then.

Occupy Wall Street has presented us with a stereotype of rich greedy Jews...

....that is reminiscent of pre-WWII German anti-Jewish propaganda:

And so far the only liberal discussion of it is how it doesn't exist, despite video after video showing it does.

Then I'm pretty sure I heard comments this past week about Republican women being fascinated by black men:

No, no discussion of that.  I won't even go where that full discussion, once considered an ignorant stereotype of two different groups of people, goes.

And now David Gregory appears to have lamented that there's no Grand Wizard in the Republican party to push Herman Cain out:

Doesn't seem to be much in the way of horror at stereotyping a whole group of people as akin to Klan members.

Um, could somebody explain to me again how it is that I, as a conservative, am the bigot?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

It Hadda Happen

Of course the Administration that thinks the answer to all things is meetings and taxes had to come up with this right at the Christmas Season - a board to study live Christmas tree use and a tax on the trees to fund the board.  The full story can be read at The Hill.

It's one of those things where I don't know whether to laugh or cry...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


I have to say, as annoyed as I am with this administration's treatment of Christianity, I can't get worked up about the refusal of the BLM to add FDR's D-Day prayer to the National WW II Memorial.  The memorial has been open for several years, and the design went through a process of approval for some time before that.  This should have been taken care of at jump - "Why didn't you take care of that before we left the house?"

Monday, November 7, 2011

No Bang

After non-stop yard work at church and at home this weekend - FINALLY a gorgeous weekend and me home at the same time - I loaded up a movie and decided to mess around with the old Browning last night.   As usual, pain in patoot to disassemble.  And to reassemble.  And once reassembled, disinclined to dry fire.  This is something that has been happening intermittently.  I'm not a gunsmith and I'm not about to take an old gun like that apart beyond a point without knowing what I'm doing.  But I did notice something after repeated fiddlings - slide and barrel assembly off, dry fires.  Slide and barrel assembly back on, nada.  So I'm thinking that once assembled there is pressure being put on something that shouldn't have pressure on it or the other way around - pressure is NOT being put where is SHOULD be put.  I went to bed with it still not being functional, but it flashed through my mind after I had turned the lights out that the firing pin assembly tends to pop out without being asked.  Tonight's job is to see if maybe it's the way the firing pin and spring are seating that's causing the problem.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Glad It's Friday...

Up late, missed train.  Drove 75 miles to office.  Just as I'm turning into garage my mind flashes on a memory.  Or, rather, a lack thereof.  As a teleworker I have a laptop on which my work life resides and which goes to-from the office.  The memory that's lacking is one of said laptop and bag being put into the suv as I dashed out the door.  Quick flopping of hand behind seat finds no bag and no computer.  #$%*!!!!

Fortunately there was an open shared computer and I had work I could do without my own files, but of course my own computer has a history of the websites I regularly use and the shared computer doesn't.  And having become reliant on my computer to pop up URLs I don't remember them.  I had to go to Rev. Paul's site and click on a reply I made in order to get over here to my own blog. 

Brewpub here I come...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I'm Offended

Your offense offends me.  I’ve gone along all my life remaining unoffended by the religious practices of others, even when I called myself an atheist.  The tassels of a prayer shawl peeking out from a business suit, prayers facing Mecca, the iconography of Buddhists, the careful vegetarianism of Jains, the consumption of peyote have never offended me.  But you see a cross, and your world has ended.  You hear the words “Jesus Christ”, and it is catastrophic for you.  Like a water-splashed Wicked Witch of the West you melt, screaming.  Rather than do what millions of us have done as we’ve shared this land with people who have different beliefs, you feel compelled to be offended.  And not just that, you feel compelled to behave in ways that you have protested as evil when Christians behaved that way – you seek to have Christian religious expression suppressed and removed from view.   You have given Saudi Arabia a run for its money as far as religious intolerance. 

Since the reasoning behind this offensive behavior is avoidance of offending, stop offending me by being offended.  And go do some reading on the human rights record of officially atheistic governments in the 20th century - the death toll is pretty offensive.  Or would that take time away from your being personally offended?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Scandal Drums

Soooo... why is everybody assuming that the scandal attacks on Herman Cain are actually originating from the Democrats?

Cain is off the Business as Usual plantation, and that's enough to make any of the Massas mad enough to send the patterrollers after him.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


I'm not a pilot, and don't play one on TV.  But this looks to me to be an absolutely beautiful landing.  Particularly considering the alternative.  Hats off to the pilot's steady hands.