consider the symbology

Uniformed, badged personnel, operating under the authority and power of an authoritarian set of laws granting them extra-Constitutional capacities, instruct you – an American citizen who has broken no laws and done no wrong – to adopt a position of submission – hands above your head – before entering a chamber that could, on quick glance, resemble a high-tech shower stall.  After that, you will be "allowed" to enter the secure side of the area these uniformed guards control. 

holocaustshowerWhat do you do? 

I dare say any educated student of history would tell the… entities… wearing the uniforms and wielding their authoritarian power to pack sand (in hopefully significantly more colorful language) and take their violations of basic human rights and shove them up their collective arses… not without cause, given what history has taught those who are willing to learn about such situations. 

Unfortunately, it would appear as though the average American is far from educated, or at least is willfully ignorant of inconvenient facets of history, given that this scene is replicated thousands (millions?) of times every day around the country, and disturbingly often with smiles on all parties’ faces at that: 

tsashower

Think about it. 

near enough to plugging your phone into a tree

Right now, the "prepper" side of my brain is currently leaning towards the "buy more ammunition" side of the spectrum (if only because ammo is something I can use right now), but one must not neglect the other aspects of keeping one’s family and one’s self safe and comfortable during times of emergency (though ammo can always be used as currency as well), and Jason helpfully pointed out that the Biolite stove he pointed me towards is currently available for purchase.

At $130, it is a fair bit above my "impulse purchase" limits, and over triple what I paid for the Coleman "dual fuel" stove (I bought ours years ago, when it was cheaper) we plan on relying on should the power go out and the pressure in the natural gas lines disappear, but, by the same token, the Biolite does not require anything more complicated than kindling, and can simultaneously charge electronic gadgets. For the time being, I think I will bide my time, read the few reviews of it there are out there, and hope that time will result in cheaper prices through increased mass production.

‘Course, if Biolite wanted to send me a stove for test, evaluation, and review purposes from the perspective of someone planning on sheltering in place rather than hiking up Mt. Rainier, I certainly would not mind…

race-baiting bores me

For me, the whole Martin/Zimmerman case is functionally over – the incident is being investigated, and if there is sufficient evidence to indicate that a murder transpired*, I have every reason to believe that Zimmerman will be charged, and that is exactly the way the system is supposed to work.

On the other hand, the fallout from this case has just begun, and I shudder to think how far the ripples will travel.

For instance, by way of Midwest Chick and Mike W., we learn that Spike Lee has endangered the lives of two innocent people completely and totally unconnected to the Trayvon Martin shooting. Oh, sure, he thought he was tweeting the address of George Zimmerman, but explain to me how that is any better again? Given the various and sundry ways people have wanted to kill Zimmerman, I hardly think providing those people his place of residence (which it was, in fact, not) is all that good of an idea, or even an idea that will help defuse an already nightmarish situation.

Spike has since apologized, but that does a fat lot of good for David and Elaine McClain who are now living in fear for their lives from the threat of the lynch mobs pointed to their front door.

Likewise, there is this wonderful comment from WizardPC:

Something that’s struck me in the last few days is how, despite all the media attention, no one who actually knows George Zimmerman has come forward and said “oh, yeah, that guy is totally a racist jerk!” Not his neighbors (the ones who bothered to meet him), not his coworkers, not even an ex girlfriend. If he really is evil incarnate like he’s being portrayed, I don’t think it’s possible for him to have hidden it so thoroughly.

The overwhelming majority of the mob demanding Zimmerman’s head on a silver platter are absolutely, incontrovertibly convinced that he was and is "racist" (whatever the hell that means any more); fine, where are the people from before the shooting who knew Zimmerman coming forward and saying, "Yeah, this kind of thing was only a matter of time…" or somesuch other stuff. *crickets chirping* Racism is not something that goes from "zero" to "murder" in a single night, so there should be a pattern; where is it?

And then there is this disturbing report from Bob Owens:

More disgusting is the obvious fact that ABC News used a strategically placed chyron (graphic) to cover up the back of Zimmerman’s head for their broadcast, covering up the video that would have disproven their story. View the video at the Daily Caller, and you’ll not that they did not even need a chyron, their was no need to transmit any additional visual data to explain the story.

The only logical reason the chyron exists is to cover-up Zimmerman’s wounds. ABC News doctored the video to sell a false narrative, in a dishonest attempt to brand a man a murderer. I’d be very interested to know if Zimmerman can pursue legal action against ABC for constructing this false narrative.

I know, I know, your first reaction to the media lying through their collective teeth is to whip out your surprised face, but bear with me a moment – ABC intentionally edited the video such that it appeared as though Zimmerman was largely unharmed, and thus, according to that video, completely removes his "self-defense" claim in his shooting of Martin. And, believe you me, it is working; all throughout today, various members of the Lynch Zimmerman Mob were tweeting about how the video does not show any injuries at all on Zimmerman, and how that is conclusive evidence that he unjustifiably shot down Martin in cold blood.

The question, of course, to all of this is "why?" Why is it so very important that Zimmerman be racist, why is it is so important that the shooting be a murder rather than self-defense, and why is it is so important for certain colors of people to flex their "lynch mob" muscles right now?

Unfortunately, I fear the answer is as simple as it appears on the surface – race is simply not that large of an issue any more. More and more, people are realizing that the concept of "race" is nothing more than a fabricated distinction created – and now perpetuated – by small-minded morons who were just looking for a reason to demonize and hate some other segment of humanity. For most people, this realization, and the acceptance of it, is a welcome one, given that it will eventually serve to drastically reduce some pointless and useless strife throughout our societies; however, two types of people still bitterly cling to the notion of "race"… or, rather, two sides of the same coin.

On the one side, we have people who genuinely dislike people of other skin tones or locational backgrounds – this is hardly a phenomena isolated to America, and it is likely one that is going to last for quite some time now. On the other side, though, we have a non-zero part of the population that, even today, needs to be discriminated against because they need to be victims. In our current society, being a victim – even in your own mind (*cough*JoanPeterson*cough*) – grants one special abilities and privileges, not the least of which is the moral high ground, and a rather disturbing number of folks know they would never gain those particular abilities by any other means than through self-exploitation.

Just look at what the term "racist" has become – a cudgel with which to silence opposition, regardless of whether they have any particular feelings regarding the skin tone or geographical ancestry of the person in question.

In the end, the wanna-be victims are almost as bad as the actual, honest-to-God racists, simply because they both are perpetuating the belief that a person’s coloration or genetic heritage has any bearing, whatsoever, on their worth as a human being… and, as this situation shows, neither are above using the threat of physical violence to get their ways.

Which brings us back to the "why"… and the answer: they want race-based riots, they want fear in the streets, and damned if they do not want something verging on a societal war again**. Again, "why?" Because situations like that give the wanna-be victims power.

Even though they are the ones calling for violence, quietly (or loudly) directing it, and generally doing everything they possibly can to rile up the masses, they are doing it For The Right Reasons (TM), so they are above reproach and questioning. And yet people listen to these professional victims, which only serves to inflate their egos and fulfill a long-seated desire for power they never would have sated any other way. They are not leaders; they are inciters, but, regardless, they need that jolt of, "People really care about me!" like a crack addict needs a hit.

In other words, I am of the opinion that this entire situation has been drastically blown out of proportions simply because some narcissistic assholes wanted to feel important. Yes, the Zimmerman/Martin shooting probably should have been better investigated by the police than it was, but that failing of the police department (not the Stand Your Ground law) does not warrant marches, threats against completely unrelated individuals, and non-stop playing of the race card. Once we start going down that path, motivations become suspect, and things have a tendency of getting rapidly out of control.

(* – Honestly, I am starting to doubt there is, but that should have no bearing on whether or not there actually is.

** – Note to self: never watch another thing with Roseanne Barr in it. Not that that would be hard.)

get a bearing on the bathroom

I was happily blessed with fairly effective night vision, which I guess makes up for my overall poor eyesight, but unfortunately Better Half was not so equipped in the Grand Character Building Roll in the Sky (I think we both agree her other stats make up for this), so we have a small army of these low-draw night lights stationed at strategic hallways, stairwells, and so forth around the house. Collectively, they pull all of around 70W of power a day, and last damned near forever, but that is still yet another power draw in the house, they are useless when the power goes out, and they take up outlet space (you never realize how many outlets we cram into newer houses/apartments until you move into an older one).

Well, here is an interesting alternative that has effectively none of the shortcomings. I am sure we all remember those cool glow-in-the-dark stick-up stars and whatnots we all probably had in our rooms as children, and how disappointing it was that they eventually stopped charging and illuminating. Well, apparently, the folks at The Amazing Light might have solved that problem using a particular mixture of "strontium, aluminum, and other rare earth elements"; I stress "might" simply because they make a big deal about their GITD equipment "last[ing] forever", and, being an engineer with at least a passing familiarity with thermodynamics*, I raise an eyebrow at that particular word.

Anywise, their systems come in sheets for illumination, tubes for replacing glow sticks, and spots, and given we use the night lights more as range markers than illumination sources, I am curious whether the latter would work to those purposes.

Well, only one way to find out, I guess. Next time we need a new night light, I will instead snag one of these, and see how well they perform equivalently. ‘Course, if the good folks at The Amazing Light want to send me some examples to review, I certainly would not be opposed to the idea…

(Courtesy of The Freeholder.)

(* – You must play the game. You can’t win. You can’t break even. You can’t quit.)

i kind of want one

I know I sound like more than a little Johnny-Come-Lately when I say something like this, but I actually came up with this idea a while ago, for an entirely different application, and, like most things I imagine, I had no idea what to do with it.

Thankfully, the folks at BioLite were not so encumbered.

My idea was not nearly so well-developed… Specifically, many years ago, I snagged a Dual Fuel Stove on the premise that should a natural disaster happen and we lose power, I have at least three gallons of gas in the garage for our lawnmower at any given time, and then somewhere around 20+ gallons sitting out in the driveway should we really, really need it to cook something. However, having studied thermodynamics and just looked at the design, I knew that a lot of the heat given off by the burner was being rather wasted, and I wondered how hard it would be to wrap a thermocouple "donut" around the base to direct the heat upwards better and provide some electricity for charging gadgets, which, during a disaster scenario, seems rather useful.

Of course, a stove that can run off twigs / wood is superior to one that requires liquid fuel, and a thermocouple-equipped stove that shunts some of that energy into a fan that increases its efficiency and output is in a whole different league. While this kind of thing is well-suited for its intended market – campers and the like – I can totally see a not-insignificant market amongst the "prepper" / "preparedness" / "survival" communities as well, considering that it satisfies three separate requirements (cooking, heating, and power) in a single, relatively inexpensive ($129) form.

And Lord knows the engineer in me likes multitasking gadgets…

(Courtesy of Jason.)

find a niche

More safes need 120V wall outlets, USB ports, and RJ45 ethernet sockets. No, really, Cannon seems to have integrated those features into most (all?) of their "gun safe" lines.

This is pretty awesome.

As WizardPC indicates, you would not want to shove a full-blown desktop PC in there due to heat concerns (and leaving your safe open to vent it seems somewhat counter-productive), but if you had some kind of "plug computer" concept hooked up to a mongo, energy-efficient external hard drive, you might be able to leave that running constantly, and, at the very least, you could definitely have it wake up for an hour a day to synchronize backups with your main computer(s). Granted, temperatures inside the safe during a house fire will likely reduce your little mini-puter to a little puddle of plastic, but the hard drive platter might be salvageable, and, at the least, it stands a better chance of surviving than a completely unprotected device does.

This year’s "gun" purchase (speaking of, I still need to touch on the last one of the previous year) will likely be a safe, along with its $250+ markup for in-home delivery – after all, these things typically weigh 3-5x me, and there is just no way I am going to wrangle that into place. Cannon realizing that the Venn diagram of "gun owner" and "geek" has a pretty significant overlap may have just made my choice a lot easier.

quote of the day – robb allen

Military members/veterans, employees in any business in the world, and countless other people are probably familiar with the Peter Principle, though they may have never actually heard it called that. The idea is fairly simple: "in a hierarchically structured administration, people tend to be promoted up to their ‘level of incompetence’".

In other words: you do well, you get promoted; you do well at you new job, you get promoted again; you do well at that job, you get promoted again; you finally reach the point where you cannot (or will not) actually do that job all too well… and you do not get promoted, but you do not get fired either. But you just keep on doing that job not-too-well until you get bored and leave, finally do something to get fired, or die. It can kind of be regarded as the bastard step-child of the "survival of the fittest" theory, only with greater implications for your actual life.

Personally, I would argue that the same Principle holds true for the federal government as whole, not just the individual employees and positions within it, or, as Robb expressed in a slightly different fashion:

The US Government isn’t too big to fail. It’s too big to succeed.

Our illustrious government has been slowly finagling its way into every single facet of our breathing lives over the past century, at least – what toilets we use, what light bulbs we can buy, what are children are supposed to eat, what our currencies are worth, what companies are allowed to do with their money, etc. etc. etc. Do you honestly believe that a hydra-like monster such as that is tenable over the long term? Do you really think that is the path towards the "success" desired by our Founding Fathers – a future where liberty and freedom were protected and preserved? Do you really think a bureaucratic disaster like that is going to do anything more than suck more and more power and control into itself until it finally collapses under the weight of its own authoritarianism?

If you do, might I ask where you got your lobotomy done?