29 July 2007

"Now take Berwhale the Avenger and go upstairs and wash your hands for lunch."

A Bit of Fry and Laurie seasons 3 and 4 are out!

In other news, there is a bit of melodrama surrounding my quest for a decent condition, shootable Lee Enfield No4. I bought one a while ago and found it to be sorely lacking. The headspace was dangerously out of spec, meaning the gun could cause severe injury to the shooter if a failure occured, and the metal finish was pretty nasty, composed mostly of a protective layer of rust. It looked like some poor Tommy on a troop ship to North Africa had accidentally dropped it over the side ("Whoopsies! Oh, Butterfingers!") and then they fished it out a half-century later.
But I gave it another shot, and this time I got a much, much better looking rifle. It is a 1943 No4MkI that was built at the Birmingham Small Arms factory (as in, BSA motorcycles), like my 1918 No1MkIII* model. It is gorgeous, with a very nice metal finish still, and a well fitted stock with a lustrous, beautiful boiled linseed oil finish. Only trouble? I had this one checked out as well, and guess what, mateys. Too much headspace! Luckily though this one has a bolt head clearly marked "0" which means it can be swapped out for a "1", "2", or "3" bolt head to decrease excess headspace. I have "1" and "2" bolt heads on order now. Once that is cleared up, I'm of the belief this will make an excellent mid-range precision rifle. Well, as excellent as a 65 year old war-horse is going to get...especially with me behind the sights.

I'm getting closer to converting my Saiga Fun-Machine (the magazine fed semi-auto 12-gauge shotgun built on a Kalashnikov pattern) to a pistol grip/folding stock layout. I have to say, I have some fun guns (the Kel-Tec PLR-16 springs to mind) but this shotgun is way too much fun to shoot. Extremely fast cycling and a nice balance. Not a gun for traditionalists and those used to the feel of a traditional shotgun, but it feels perfect to me. Here's about what I'm after:

26 July 2007

I'm rooting for the underdog, now. Heretofore I had largely scoffed at the Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, the dreamboat of angry libertarians, and considered him with sympathy but with realistic doubt. But now, reading more on his views, I figure if there is any time a pragmatic conservative can afford the luxury of rooting for the unwinnable ideal, it is a year before the primaries. So, I'm officially a Ron Paul backer. Here is the Wikipedia spiel about his views:

Ron Paul's political positions are largely in line with his stance as a libertarian. He claims to be a Constitutionalist and a non-interventionist. He is an advocate of free trade, fewer taxes, smaller government, and strong national sovereignty.

Paul supports reduced government spending and reduced taxes. As congressman, he has never voted to raise taxes or to approve an unbalanced budget and has also called for the abolishment of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the federal income tax. Paul has been named "The Taxpayer's Best Friend" by the National Taxpayers Union every year he has been in Congress.

Paul also supports the U.S. converting to a free market health care system and increasing competition and thus opposes centralized universal health care. Paul is pro-life, yet most recently got a 65% pro-choice score from NARAL. Paul opposes "federal efforts to redefine marriage as something other than a union between one man and one woman" and has stated that he "would have voted for the Defense of Marriage Act" if he had been in Congress at the time." In addition, Paul has asserted that he does not think there should be any federal control over education and education should be handled at a local and state level. Paul opposes illegal immigration, voted "yes" on the Secure Fence Act of 2006, and opposes amnesty for illegal immigrants.

Paul supports a non-interventionist foreign policy and opposes foreign aid. He is the only 2008 Republican presidential candidate to have voted against the Iraq War Resolution in 2002. Paul voted for the Authorization for Use of Military Force which resulted in the War in Afghanistan in 2001, but suggested alternatives including giving the president authority to grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal.

I probably differ with him on foreign policy in some aspects, but I like his principled adherence to unpopular views. Hillary Clinton voted for the Iraq War and Ron Paul did not. How crazy is that?

Also, has anyone else noticed the bountiful presence of Ron Paul yard signs? It's only because it takes an angry libertarian nutjob to be riled up enough a year and a half before an election to put out a yard sign.

Last point on Ron Paul: I may be the only one that thinks this, but there is a somewhat porn-star like ring to the name. It may be "Ron", which makes me think of "Ron Burgundy", and it might be the first name for a last name. But definitely not as bookish or twerpy as "Newt". Newt used to be my front-runner but his personal history makes me trust him very, very little.

I watched "V for Vendetta" last night, motivated by its inclusion of the comic genius Stephen Fry, who managed not to ratchet up the gayness to Pride Parade level, thankfully. It was an OK movie, but a predictable "comic book" movie. The same cheesy action, dialogue, and stilted acting we expect from comic book movies. And it was quite silly with its over-reaching attempts to repaint "1984" in the context of the Patriot Act, basically manifesting itself as a typical leftist fantasy dreamworld. It had some interesting observations (don't quite remember them, tellingly) but all in all its parables would only have any meaning to those that already were predisposed to their message. So people who believe that Bill Kristol is coming in jackboots tomorrow to kick down the doors of loving, sweet, innocent gay people to cart them off to government camps to be terminated will find this movie to be a moving piece full of truth and wisdom, whereas to me, it's a fantasy designed to cater to activists with overactive imaginations. The final fight scene with the knives...pure dreamworld stuff. The idea that someone would absorb somewhere probably around 50+ full-powered pistol rounds in the torso, no matter with what sort of vest, and still be able to move at all (or even survive) is kind of laughable, and as the case showed the suspect was not stopped by shots to center mass, all trained policemen would know to retrain their aim on the head. The "Mozambique Drill" it is called, and it is commonly practiced: two to COM (center of mass) and one to the head. I know, I know, it's a comic book, and comic book heroes cannot be killed by bullets, they always fight in slow motion, and they die slowly in the arms of the heroine. Sorry, I shouldn't be so nitpicky.

Lastly, I was listening to some music this morning and I remembered the profound influence on me of the track "N.S.U." on the album "Live Cream". Not a great song persay, but as a bassist I remember the moment, listening to the track, that I kind of realized what it was about. Jack Bruce is awesome, and I had forgotten how awesome.

25 July 2007

Trivia is dead!

That little chestnut of Neufish wisdom struck me as I was walking in the parking lot at lunch today. Seems like a brilliant little observation of mine. How privileged you must feel to be reading this blog. So of course I google the exact phrase "trivia is dead" and find no less than 1,390 hits online, of people making the same word for word observation a good deal sooner than I did. I think the first was Nietzsche...or wait, that was God. No, not God saying trivia is dead, Nietzsche saying God is dead. Or maybe trivia saying Nietzsche was dead. Anyway, I'm sure if I had a wordier phrase, such as "Google and Wikipedia have jointly forced the obsolescence of trivia as we know it", I could have googled it and found no hits, and laboured on for a few more precious seconds in the glorious yet much-mistaken appreciation and admiration of my own breathtaking genius and insight.

So, yes, there is no new thought under the sun, but that won't prevent me from jabbering on about this unoriginal insight. Google and Wikipedia have made trivia irrelevant and obsolete. A global body of knowledge is now shared and accessible, enormously dwarfing what any one man could know. Motorized transport changed walking and general manual transport from a necessary and normal facet of life into a recreational pastime, exercise, or sport, and even so now trivia is relegated to the Nerd-Squad units of high school academic teams (you can guess what I lettered in)(no, it wasn't football) and classic game shows that fewer and fewer people seem to watch as the attrition of life expectancy takes its toll on our elder generations.

The fastest runner in the world couldn't overtake me on a motorbike. Likewise, the walking brain vaults of trivia that haunt Alex Trebek's dreams could be handily defeated by a kid with a broadband connection, a laptop, and an even remotely passable ability to use search tools.

Don't forget to bring a towel!

20 July 2007

(assumes Tennessee accent)


...except for the house!

10 July 2007

The Common Thread of Jazz, Gin, and Scrambled Eggs

With a title like that it looks like I've dug myself in pretty deep. Should be some crazy fantastic writing to dig myself out of that hole.

Anyways, the Theme today is Things That You Don't Remember How Much You Like Until You Experience Them Again. Jazz is very much like that, a form of music that I find intellectually interesting but generally boring EXCEPT when I am either playing it or listening to it. I find myself avoiding the "low FM" jazz stations when perusing the radio, meekly consenting to be aurally assaulted by another overplayed rock anthem on KY/FOX, but on those times I put in my Hal Melia CD, queue up a Miles Davis MP3, or switch over to crappy low FM jazz stations, I think, wow, this is what I've been missing. You forget the appeal of jazz pretty swiftly after you listen to it. At least I do.

Likewise scrambled eggs. When you've got a freaking carton of eggs in the fridge that will soon go bad, they sound like a practical option of cheap protein that would otherwise be wasted, but not a terrifically appealing dinner. But with a sufficient amount of cracked black pepper and a fiery enough salsa, they aren't bad. Aren't exactly wonderful, so maybe a bad example.

Which brings me to my last example...Tanqueray Rangpur, a new bottling of the famous Tanqueray Gin. This variant is fairly interesting because of the new ingredients it utilises; bay leaves, ginger, and a fruit erroneously called "rangpur lime". The rangpur is a hybrid of mandarin orange and lemon from Asia that offers a lime like flavour and aroma. Tanqueray Rangpur is lower in alcohol than normal Tanqueray, and all in all, it has a very soft and pleasing palate that doesn't need to be buried in a tall glass of tonic water. I'm not an "on the rocks" guy with spirits, usually preferring them served neat at room temperature, but that doesn't extend to white spirits such as gin and vodka...this gin seems to be at its best, in my opinion, with no mixers, no lime juice, no bitters, just on the rocks. Anyway, my point is, it is one of those spirits that is quite complex and rewarding, like jazz. The aroma is subtle and balances the traditional botanicals (read: juniper, juniper, and more juniper) of a London Dry with some more complex elements. The idea of a "lime flavoured gin" could be off-putting to some people, burnt by the nasty flavoured vodkas that are all the rage now, but it should be stressed this is not the same sort of product, a distilled spirit that is then flavoured with additives...on the contrary, the flavourings are added at the traditional times, like the juniper and other botanicals, before the final distillation. So what is bottled is the pure distilled product (probably cut with water to bottle strength, naturally), not a quasi-liqueur made with a base spirit and flavourings. Enough about the process; I just wanted to illustrate that something that does not sound all that great on its face (gin straight up? not too many takers out there, am I right?) can be really surprising. If you are a fan of complex and interesting drinks, I'd recommend picking up a bottle, and pouring a couple ounces over an ice cube or two. Might surprise you, it did me!

Also the White Album. That ranks up there in albums that you start to think aren't as good as they actually are (and subsequently remember on next listening).

Now I'm listening to Paul McCartney in Wings. Yep, I'm captive to my computer...waiting for drives to finish defragging on my servers at work.

Dang it, music has gone downhill. The final outro to McCartney's "Rock Show" has the greatest piano/bass groove. Shame the poor sod is most well known for "Ebony and Ivory", "Silly Love Songs", "Let Em In", and Guns 'N Roses' visceral and grotesque butchering of "Live and Let Die". I would probably rate him as the best musician of the latter 20th Century, and no, it is not just because we Rickenbacker-wielding bassists stick together.

Maybe it is.

02 July 2007

The Untimely Demise of "Farfour" - click for a video stream

Yes, the Jihadist Mickey Mouse was violently killed by the Interloping Jew for not selling his land. This would be a lot funnier if it wasn't so scary, that this is what kids are being taught over there. As it is, and it shouldn't be, it still is pretty dang funny.

Farfour was "martyred". A man in a low-rent Mickey Mouse suit squeaking in falsetto Arabic was "martyred" by a Jew. What will the Evil Zionist Oppressor do next? Bulldoze Goofy's doghouse? This shouldn't be funny, I know. It is sad and disturbing. But I'll call it sad, disturbing, and yet funny all the same.