Archive for April, 2010

04/30/2010

What I’m reading now

by wfgodbold

I finished Anton Strout’s newest addition to his series about Simon Canderous, pyschometer extraordinaire, earlier today.  It was enjoyable, but no work of highbrow fiction.  I’m also a bit over halfway into Lindsey Davis’s second Marcus Didius Falco novel and maybe a quarter of the way through A Mighty Fortress by David Weber.

The Falco book is good, but I’m just not really in the mood for a mystery novel at the moment.  Davis really does a great job making the Roman Empire come alive.

The latest Safehold novel is okay, I guess.  I’m really starting to think that Weber only has a few different ideas, and is starting to run out.  It has the token character who is practically immortal, ship battles (actual ocean-going navy battles this time), overbearing centralized religion, and political maneuvering.

I don’t really have a problem with that; it’s his schtick, and he does it well.  On the other hand, this series is essentially Horatio Hornblower on Pardal, instead of in space.  In both cases, human society has had to abandon technology and has institutionalized a church to keep them from becoming too advanced.  In Heirs of Empire, the super-advanced long-lived characters sided with independent highlanders prone to doctrinal disagreement with the church, fought land battles, caused a schism, and took out the main headquarters of the church.  In the Safehold series, the super-advanced long-lived character allies with independent sea-going merchantmen prone to doctrinal disagreement with the church, they fight naval battles, form a competing branch of the church (hell, one of the books is even titled By Schism Rent Asunder), and are (at the point I’m at in the series, at least) engaging in a global naval campaign to try to break the temporal stranglehold the church has on the planet.  It seems like he enjoyed the premise he set up in Heirs of Empire, and decided to redo it writ large.

I may set both of those aside for now and read VDH’s newest, or one of the other books Amazon recently delivered.  I have quite a bit to work through.

04/29/2010

Two new pocketknives in the mail

by wfgodbold

I dropped my SOG Trident the other day, and a small piece of the blade tip snapped off (I dropped it on a tile floor and it landed tip down).  I should be able to resharpen it again, but this gave me the opportunity to order a couple replacement knives.  The trident has been great, but it’s a bit too long to carry everyday.

One knife in transit is an SOG Flash folder; I chose it primarily because it is a scaled down trident.  The other knife is a Kershaw Ken Onion Leek.  The Onion knives are reviewed generally well.  I liked the look of the leek the best, so I decided to try it out.

In the meantime, I’ve reverted to carrying my Spyderco Tasman Salt; it’s another great knife, especially for opening boxes and cutting through cardboard.  The assisted opening feature of the trident spoiled me, though.  Going back to a knife that you have to open manually is a bigger change than you might think, once you’ve gotten used to the knife opening with a quick flick of the wrist.

04/28/2010

Shopping for new headphones

by wfgodbold

My old headphones (I bought them in Japan several years ago) have finally gone to the great trash heap in the sky, so now I have to find new ones.  I would get another identical pair, but they didn’t hold up as well while exercising as I would have liked, so I’m on the market.  In the meantime, I’m using a cheap pair.

I’ll probably end up getting a pair of in ear headphones or earbuds; if I got a really nice pair of over the ear headphones, they’d probably be too bulky to wear exercising or doing anything but sitting around and listening to music.

This pair looks promising.  I’ll do some more research and make a decision about what to get in the next day or two.

04/27/2010

Why no one takes the news seriously

by wfgodbold

I was listening to the news on the radio, and the anchor reported on the current status of the Fort Hood shooter and Christmas Day bomber.

Of course, in both instances, the anchor referred to both Hasan and Abdulmutallab as the “alleged shooter” and “alleged bomber.”

This is absurd.

Dozens of people witnessed both men perpetrating their crimes, and yet the press refers to them only as “suspects.”  Prosecutors might be required to speak of the accused in this manner, but when their “alleged” actions have been in the news since the instant the incidents occurred (allegedly?), the media only succeeds in looking ridiculous.

Of course, when you have legal “professionals” claiming that being in the US illegally is not a crime (shouldn’t there be an allegedly in there somewhere?), the media looks less ridiculous, if only by comparison.

04/24/2010

Discovering sous vide

by wfgodbold

My friend Ryan sent me a link to an article on how to do low temperature vacuum cooking in the comfort of your own home, with nothing more expensive than a plastic beer cooler.

I tried it out last night, and again today, and it the method described worked really well; the steaks I cooked were juicy and tender, and cleanup was super easy.

Both steaks were inexpensive cuts.  The first I put in a ziploc bag with seasoned pepper, salt, and a few pieces of chopped leek; the second went in a bag with garlic pepper, salt, and a few pieces of diced pineapple.

The steak with leeks turned out better, I thought.  The seasoned pepper and leeks combined with the tenderness and juiciness of the steak made it one of the best steaks I think I’ve ever had.  The steak with pineapple chunks was okay, but they didn’t do as well as the leeks did in improving the flavor of the dish.  I probably should have tried bell peppers or something like that instead of pineapple, but the pineapple was already chopped and in the fridge.

Cooking this way was easy; just heat the water up to a few degrees over the temp you want to cook your meat at, then pour it into the cooler and add the ziploc bag that has the meat in it.  Let it sit for an hour or so and it’s done!  I seared it in a pan afterwards, and that was the only thing I had to clean.  I threw the bag in the trash and let the cooler dry, and that was it.

04/22/2010

Lower receiver complete!

by wfgodbold

All I have to do now is get a complete upper receiver and some ammunition, and I’ll be ready to go!

 

Complete lower receiver

 

I’m still leaning towards a 20″ Bison Armory complete upper, but I haven’t completely made up my mind.

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04/20/2010

Stop the presses! Corruption at the UN!

by wfgodbold

Apparently it is big news to some people that the UN workers sent to help Haitian earthquake recovery efforts are spending most of their budget on themselves instead of the Haitians.

Hasn’t the United Nations always been corrupt?  For that matter, hasn’t any government?

Changing the people in power doesn’t change much; too much of the corruption is entrenched in the ever-growing bureaucracies.  That isn’t likely to change any time soon; in the midst of the current recession, public sector employees are living large compared to their private sector counterparts.

Government is necessary; it is not necessary that it intrude onto every aspect of our lives.  But when they proudly announce that over 8000 regulations are written every year for more than 300 federal agencies, it becomes impossible for anyone to keep up with what is regulated and what is not.

The bureaucracy must be brought to heel; if it cannot be, then, as Cato the Elder would say, “Procuratio delenda est!”

04/19/2010

Unproductive weekends

by wfgodbold

Instead of doing any of the various chores I had that needed doing, or even working on assembling my lower receiver, I traveled to the frozen north and visited some of my college friends over the weekend.

And now, here it is Monday, and I’ve had too much good food, too much good booze, and all I have to show for it is a few more pounds on the scale and a higher balance on my credit card.

I did go see Kick-Ass, though, and it was uproariously funny; I don’t think I’ve laughed in the theater so much since seeing Tropic Thunder.  Sometimes you just need a bit of the old ultraviolence and a pre-teen heroine that turns the air blue when she speaks.

04/15/2010

Rifle update

by wfgodbold

In celebration of Buy a Gun Day, I thought I would post a progress report on the AR-15 style rifle I’m slowly putting together.

 

Lower receiver and parts

 

That’s one of the stripped Spike’s Tactical lower receivers I purchased before, along with olive drab green Magpul furniture and a CMMG lower parts kit.  The magazine is a C-products 25 round 6.8 mm SPC magazine, and the stock is a Magpul Utility Battle Rifle stock.

I haven’t ordered the upper receiver or parts yet, but I am leaning towards a complete upper from Bison Armory; probably with a 20″ barrel (that way if I decide that I’d rather have an 18″ barrel, I can have it cut down and rethreaded; it’s hard to do that if you want to go from 18″ to 20″).

I’ll most likely try to assemble the lower receiver this weekend; according to the internet, it shouldn’t be too difficult (and if you read something on the internet, it must be true!).

04/11/2010

Roland Martin is an idiot.

by wfgodbold

In an opinion piece discussing the recent controversy unleashed Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s declaration that April is Confederacy History Month (do we really need another month long history event?), Roland Martin (a political analyst for cnn.com) claims that Confederate soldiers were simply domestic terrorists.

This charge is patently ridiculous.  The Confederate States of America were in rebellion against the Union; that is impossible to deny.  But to compare their defense of the institution of slavery, when it was waged according to the laws of war of the day, to modern suicide bombings by Islamists who are intent on subjugating the rest of the world to Sharia, is absurd.  The Confederate army fought in pitched battles, with uniformed (when they could afford it) soldiers, to take military targets; Islamic terrorists attack civilian targets in a campaign orchestrated not to achieve military goals, but to instill terror in the general populace.

The goals of Islamists are just as heinous as the goals of the Confederacy; that is not in dispute.  Heinous goals, no matter how much Mr. Martin may wish, do not a terrorist make.  Nazi Germany was evil; the crimes perpetrated upon the Jews in WWII were vile; soldiers in the German army in WWII were not terrorists.

Fighting in an organized army on behalf of a terrible worldview is not terrorism, evil though it may be; but sending suicide bombers to detonate themselves at locations where Islamist clerics are rabble-rousing is terrorism, no matter how defensible the goal of the attack may be.

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