Friday, March 25, 2011

Back at last.

As the post title says. I'm back. I've got some cleanup to do around here, and a couple posts in the works, awaiting editing and publishing.

Expect to see some more activity around here soon.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Well, I'm ticked.

Last Friday, some teenagers were trespassing in the pool of the vacant house next door. This is hardly the first time punks (and other folks) have been in there, and we're pretty fed up with them fouling up the place with garbage and the like. So, like the last time we caught them, we called the police to have them removed. The teenagers had a previous "acquaintance" with the police, and were charged with criminal trespass.

Well, tonight, I walked outside for a smoke, and saw that my truck's windshield had been smashed sometime this afternoon. I had music playing, and didn't hear it. I'm guessing it's the same punks, trying to "get back" at us for calling the cops on them (twice).

These punks were fortunate I didn't hear them, 'else they'd have found a rather irate redneck with a .45 objecting to their fun. Granted, a truck windshield isn't worth drawing steel over, but a man can put the fear into a punk without ever clearing leather.

Not all irate rednecks are as tolerant as I, and they're -really- fortunate they didn't vandalize some nutcase's truck.

Fortunately for me, they didn't monkey with anything inside the truck; as far as I can tell, all my tools, equipment, and whatnot are still there. Police are estimating about $150 for the windshield; I'll find out for sure what the cost will be in the morning when I have it replaced. If it goes over $150, I'll be calling the station for an addendum to the report, and a copy of the receipt, if necessary.

If these punks are caught, you can be sure I'll press charges AND file for recompense.

Monday, April 16, 2007

And this is why I carry...

I'm sure by now everyone and their fourth cousins thrice removed has heard of this awful slaughter, so I'll not rehash the details.

What's not being advertised on the airwaves is that this senseless massacre of college students was entirely preventable.

"A bill that would have given college students and employees the right to carry handguns on campus died with nary a shot being fired in the General Assembly.

House Bill 1572 didn't get through the House Committee on Militia, Police and Public Safety. It died Monday in the subcommittee stage, the first of several hurdles bills must overcome before becoming laws.

The bill was proposed by Del. Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah County, on behalf of the Virginia Citizens Defense League. Gilbert was unavailable Monday and spokesman Gary Frink would not comment on the bill's defeat other than to say the issue was dead for this General Assembly session.

Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker was happy to hear the bill was defeated. "I'm sure the university community is appreciative of the General Assembly's actions because this will help parents, students, faculty and visitors feel safe on our campus."

Del. Dave Nutter, R-Christiansburg, would not comment Monday because he was not part of the subcommittee that discussed the bill.

Most universities in Virginia require students and employees, other than police, to check their guns with police or campus security upon entering campus. The legislation was designed to prohibit public universities from making "rules or regulations limiting or abridging the ability of a student who possesses a valid concealed handgun permit ... from lawfully carrying a concealed handgun."

The legislation allowed for exceptions for participants in athletic events, storage of guns in residence halls and military training programs.

Last spring a Virginia Tech student was disciplined for bringing a handgun to class, despite having a concealed handgun permit. Some gun owners questioned the university's authority, while the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police came out against the presence of guns on campus.

In June, Tech's governing board approved a violence prevention policy reiterating its ban on students or employees carrying guns and prohibiting visitors from bringing them into campus facilities."

Didja get that? Duly licensed individuals, checked out and certified by the state, are prohibited from carrying their lawfully-owned weapons on-campus for personal protection. I daresay that, had even one of this nutcase's victims had a weapon, this wanton slaughter of innocents would have ended rather abruptly, with a great many lives saved.

Instead, we have students lined up against a wall and executed, by a lone madman. The prohibition against weapons on campus certainly didn't deter him; rather, if anything, it encouraged him, as he knew that there would not be anyone, not one person, capable of stopping him in his rampage.

This is why I carry, everywhere I can. It is my greatest fear that I will be forced to use my handgun in such a situation. No, strike that. It is my greatest fear that I, like these Virginia Tech students, will need a handgun, and be prohibited by law from having one.

Madmen do not heed the law. Criminals scoff at it. And those of us who do abide by said laws are rendered as defenseless as sheep by that self-same law.

Which is more tyrannical - the madman who wantonly murders many in defiance of the law, or the law itself which demands that the madman's victims be quietly slaughtered, the law that makes criminals out of anyone who DARES to possess the means to their own defense and the defense of others?

Know this: I carry a gun in dreaded anticipation of being placed, forced, into a situation like this. I carry a gun so that, should the unthinkable become reality, I can stop the carnage with one or two well-placed bullets into the brainpan of a predator.

I would have been glad to face the full force of the law, had I been in one of those classrooms in Virginia's halls of learning, for I would not have been unarmed, regardless of the law. If the price of saving thirty or more lives is the loss of my freedom, I will weep for freedom lost, but the cost of protecting my own legal reputation is pennies next to the enormity of lives saved. If the madman kills me as I attempt to protect my own life and the lives of those around me, I will die with honor, knowing that, law or no, I did the right thing.

To quote a tagline I saw on a forum somewhere: "Carry 24/7, or guess right." Virginia Tech's students followed the law, and guessed wrong.

To the bastard who committed this foul act, "Rot in Hell."
To the bastards in Virginia's legislature which allowed the conditions to be ripe for this slaughter, though, there is a special circle of Hell reserved for you and your ilk, a circle lower even than that of the killer, for YOU allowed this to happen.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

What the heck?

Okay, what's this? Blogger is promoting Algore's "carbon neutral" BS?

I got news for you, Blogger. Algore is a fraud. Carbon is a naturally occurring element, and a basic building block for all the nice, nifty little enzymes and other chemicals that make up your cellular structure.

CO2, or Carbon Dioxide, which all you greenie freaks are going gonzo over, is a natural part of the photosynthesis reaction that plants use to survive. It's a little simplistic, but the basic explanation is that CO2 is plants' version of O2, or Oxygen.

CO2 occurs naturally. You produce it every time you exhale. It is a natural byproduct of animal metabolic functions. Every man, woman, and child, every dog, cat, and whale, every zebra, every sparrow, every fish produces CO2.

What's more, CO2 is produced by other natural, non-organic occurrences as well. Lightning strikes and volcanoes are only two of the many non-organic producers of CO2. Do you know how many times lightning strikes each second? It's a bunch. And volcanoes, those prolific polluters of the natural world, expel with a single eruption more CO2 than man can produce in a hundred years.

Did ya get that? Not only does natural production of this basic molecule vastly outstrip man-made production, you are producing CO2 as you read this. It is impossible for you to be "Carbon Neutral," unless you die of asphyxiation.

Ya want a "Carbon Neutral" world? Start talking to Mother Nature. And if she doesn't listen, try holding your breath.

Friday, April 06, 2007

New Template

I've seen some folks claim they're copying Lawdog in their page template.

Well, I'm not gonna make any such claim. I can see why Lawdog chose this template; it's easy on the eyes, fairly simple to navigate, very few things to tweak (and thus, distract), and relatively aesthetically pleasing.

Blogger/Google, I'm somewhat mollified. Changing stuff on this IS easier.

That doesn't mean I've forgiven you for changing it without permission, though.

I hate you, Blogger/Google.

I had a post idea all ready to start typing, but that post shall have to wait until another day. I have a rant instead.

Thanks to the MORONS at Google/Blogger, I had to spend an interminable time fighting with the "New Blogger" system, just to be able to access my account. I didn't want a Google account, I didn't want to switch, and most of all, I didn't want the hassle.

Password resets, screenname discrepancies, and non-intuitive instructions added to the annoyance.

If anyone at Blogger/Google is reading this, know that I despise New Blogger. I don't care how nifty or neato-geewhiz it might be. I don't care what new features it has, how it's different from the old Blogger, how it's different from the new.

I do know that your supposed "optional" upgrade to the New Blogger is now evidently mandatory.

I do know that you did NOT consult me on this, but went ahead and "converted" the blog against my wishes.

I do know that you subjected me to hassle, annoyance, and frustration with your danged switchover, and provided ABSOLUTELY ZERO assistence with your stupid "help screens".

Yes, I know Blogger is hosted on your servers. But a landlord in an apartment complex doesn't arbitrarily rearrange his tenants' living rooms; he either allows them to live there, or evicts them.

I'd advise you to learn to do the same.

People did not WANT "New Blogger." It was a solution looking for a problem. Most of us were puttering along, quietly content with the old way. The hassle I just went through because of your stupid frivolity and capriciousness is representative of the hassle a great many people went through.

Just think about it. That much annoyance, frustration, and anger. All directed at you.

Hey, Google. When you acquired Blogger, did it ever occur to you guys to just let a good thing be? Did it ever occur to you that you didn't need to put your monkey-fingerprints all over it? Did the idea ever pop into your miniscule, two-cell brains that, just maybe, people liked Blogger the way it was? That Blogger had set it up that way deliberately?

Or was all this a ploy to get us to acquire Google accounts? If so, then for what purpose? To get us to give you our email addresses? Lord knows my spam filters are working hard as it is. Or is that giving you too much credit for intellingence? I'm inclined to think so, as I can come up with no earthly idea why you would do this, outside of spamming my inbox.

As I sit here right now, I don't see anything much different about this "New Blogger" - except for the fact that my introduction to it is as rude as the introduction to the class bully. While technically harmless, you folks at Blogger/Google have essentially stuck a saliva-coated finger in my ear, all the while giving me a wedgie. It's aggravating, annoying, and does absolutely nothing to endear me to you.

Jerks. Just better hope I never get the chance to blow a spitwad at the teacher and blame it on you.

Monday, December 11, 2006

A light Reflected

I sat on the front porch, having a smoke, doing some reading. As the final dregs of tobacco gasped their last tendrils of soot and nicoteine, I stood, intending to go back inside, and happened to glance toward my truck. Captured within the shiny surface of a window on the vehicle, I saw a light Reflected.

The porch light was on, casting a warm yellow glow upon my book, giving me ample illumination to read. I had not given it a second thought; one operates a switch, and electricity runs through a filament, which produces light and heat. But I saw something more in that Reflection of the porch light upon my truck.

The Reflection was not the source of the light; neither was it a perfect representation of that light, as the window is not only dirty, but curved somewhat, so that it might fit into the door when rolled down. The Reflection seen showed imperfections - a dimmer section caused by a patch of dirt, a curved line where the original was straight.

And yet that Reflection was clearly visible, showing a definite presence of light; in fact, a small area on the ground next to the vehicle was slightly brighter due to its redirection of the light produced by the electric fixture. The Reflection could neither produce its own light, nor could it perfectly capture the light shone upon it. Even so, the area around it was slightly brighter, contrasting the dark shadows even more, pointing out those shadows' darkness. Had the window been spotlessly clean, it could not exactly capture the light, due to the curve in the glass, but the surroundings would have borne witness to even greater light Reflected upon them.

Are we Christians not unlike that window, Reflecting God's goodness and love? We cannot straighten out the bent, imperfect nature of our very Humanity, but we can wipe away the dirt and bear witness to God, Reflecting His love and mercy upon those around us.

How dirty is your window?

Monday, November 06, 2006

Minimum wage, and the worth of work.

I had a discussion with a co-worker today, in regards to a local Democratic candidate's advertisement, in which he slams US Representative Henry Bonilla for not supporting another minimum wage hike. The co-worker was rather adamant in his insistance that such an increase was "a good thing," no matter what detriment it would have on the economy. Now, I can understand why he would say these things (he is not very well-to-do, and is supporting a family), but I must disagree totally with the idea of such an increase.

A little bit of explanation is in order, I believe.

Contrary to what most folks believe, the basic unit of currency in the United States (and, indeed, the world) is one hour of unskilled labor in the United States. The base value for the dollar is set upon this standard. As of right now, with the minimum wage set at $5.15 per hour, each dollar is worth 11.65 minutes of labor. Raise that minimum wage to $6 per hour, and the value per dollar is depreciated to only 10 minutes' work.

This has several key effects. Firstly, the employer must now charge his customers more, to make up for the price hike in the labor he purchases from his employees. Sure, these may be small-dollar items, but folks notice small hikes in prices. Add a buck onto your Number One Combo from McBurgerStore, and you'll likely not be terribly happy. Stores that increase prices will have a proportionate drop in clientele, who are unhappy with the increases.

Second, employers cannot hire as many people unless they do charge more. Those businesses that chose this option instead of price hikes will find themselves understaffed, and producing an inferior product. In many cases, employers will find themselves actually cutting a job or two. Those who are usually employed at minimum wage are the least advantaged among us - the poor, the uneducated, and oftentimes minorities. They will find jobs harder to find, and harder to keep; as a result of low-paying job scarcity, there will appear a surfeit of cheap labor, making each worker even more "disposable" to the employer.

Third, increasing the minimum wage devalues higher-paying jobs, hurting those workers. A job paying $12 an hour is $6.85 more valuable than a job at the current minimum wage. Raise the minimum to $6, and that $12 job is now only $6 more valuable; its worth has just been devalued by 85 cents. This really comes into play when the higher-paying job needs to purchase goods and services from lower-paying fields. Because of the higher cost of unskilled labor, those consuming the products of that labor must either pay proportionately higher prices or accept lower-quality products (which oftentimes incur their own expense, from downtime and repairs/replacements of the inferior products). These expenses too, are passed on to the workers of the higher-paying fields, in terms of lost jobs to make up for the higher costs, lost income from downtime due to shoddy products, and lost customers from the higher prices they too must now charge.
This effect ripples throughout the economy, affecting everyone.

Fourth, any increase in the minimum wage hurts fixed-income senior citizens. Their savings and retirement held a certain value when they retired; due to the higher prices from the wage increase, they must now pay more for the same amount of goods and services, depleting their budgeted funds faster than anticipated. Want to make sure Gramma has enough in her retirement fund to live on? Don't raise the minimum wage.

There are also ripples felt in the stock market. As companies suffer from higher costs and lower quality, their value on the market decreases. When all companies on the market suffer from those maladies, the value of the entire market slumps. This in turn is detrimental to more senior citizens, this time those living off of invested retirements. Once again, Gramma takes a hit in the pocketbook.

With costs rising and quality slumping, consumers will shift into a "save" mentality, rather than a "spend" one. As essential goods' costs rise, frivolities and luxuries will be cut back in compensation. Food, shelter, and transportation will delete what people spend on other, non-essential goods. Those companies who produce those non-essential goods will get hit, many needing to cut jobs so that they, too, can stay out of bankruptcy. A few companies will die, outright. These workers will join those already unemployed, creating a bigger strain on the unemployment system, as well as further straining individuals' budgets.

Now, there is one way to raise the minimum wage without causing this kind of havoc. Lower taxes in equal proportion to the wage hike, especially capital gains taxes. This allows the employers to pay more to each employee without cutting back on new hires. With less leeching from the government, each company has more to spend on its employees and on newer technology. With less taxes being bled from each company, there won't be any need to hike the prices on goods and services. While concurrent wage hikes and tax cuts might not send the economy into overdrive, it will prevent or at least slow the negative effects of the mandatory wage increase. Cut taxes enough, and the benefit realized from it will actually outpace the undesireable effects. Granted, the net benefit will still be less than from the tax cut alone, but I'll take what I can get.

Until or unless such a concurrent tax cut is proposed alongside a minimum wage increase, I will continue to oppose such increases. (And don't even think about proposing a tax increase; I'll slap you silly, I swear)