Monday, 31 December 2012

07:33 – The Democrats and Republicans are still locked in a struggle at the top of Reichenbach Falls. I’m hoping that the Democrats are Moriarty and the Republicans Holmes, but I’m afraid they’re both going over the edge this time. Well, not afraid, really. I still think they’ll come to an agreement, but only to keep the old tax rates for middle-class taxpayers and perhaps to keep milk prices from doubling. And even that level of agreement may take another month or more, although I’m sure the tax rates will apply retroactively.

Housecleaning continues. Barbara has already gotten a lot done, and we’ll get more done today and tomorrow. Today we’re starting on the Augean Stables, AKA my office.

10:04 – After only a couple of hours, we’ve already cleaned up the floor of my office and the top of my main desk. Next up is my secondary desk or perhaps my tertiary desk.

Oh, and after finding purchase orders, invoices, packing lists, and assorted other paperwork scattered in piles all over my office, Barbara has decreed that from now on she’s taking over responsibility for all paperwork. In my defense, I keep copies of POs on my computer, and I’ve never been late paying an invoice. I just treat the paper itself with disdain. At least I do keep all of it.

14:22 – My office is about 90% clean. I still need to clean off my secondary desk and do a bit more on my tertiary desk. While we were cleaning my office, Barbara found an easter egg: five spare 30-round AR-15/Mini-14 magazines that I’d forgotten I had. Maybe I should see if a DC TV station wants to interview me.

And our business year is officially over. We just shipped our final science kit of 2012. Like the first kit of the year we shipped back in January, this one was a CK01AG chemistry kit.

72 thoughts on “Monday, 31 December 2012”

  1. Nobama made it pretty clear on Meet the Press yesterday, that he was waiting for his reinforcements to be sworn in at the New Year. Republicans are no match for Chicago-trained politicians, I tell you.

  2. And the fun times will continue. Bring it on, I say; let O’Bummer and his minions do their worst. This year will be the start of the Road to Perdition with this administration and its rumpswab media enablers.

    A good time to stock up on whatever stuff one still needs to get through a week, or preferably longer, of no Grid, no heat, no food, no water, etc. And if living in a large city, making definite plans to bail ASAP.

    Happy New Year!

  3. But, but,…

    “Obama is perhaps the most conservative president in American history.”

    Or so I’m told.

    “He’s far to the right of Nixon and significantly more conservative than Reagan. Obamacare is a wholesale adoption of the Heritage Foundation’s wet dream for healthcare, a proposal that was too radically conservative for either Bush to get behind.”

    Y’all got nothing to worry about.

    (Yes, I too wonder what planet the author of the above is on.)

  4. As I keep saying, “conservative” and “liberal” are meaningless appellations. The divide that really matters is statist versus non-statist (libertarian).

  5. That’s a good dividing line; another one is the line between those who believe human nature is infinitely malleable and can be changed through science, sociology or the tender ministrations of the State, and those who know that it has never changed and won’t change; been the same since prehistory.

    Still another divide between those in the West who are outraged by the destructive changes that have taken place in the last hundred years and those who are outraged that we are outraged.

    O’Bummer is “conservative” like Lenin and Mao were conservative. And Bob’s right; those labels don’t mean diddly anymore.

  6. Well, I think both dimensions are important. And given that 99% of congresspersons are extreme statists it makes the left verses right appellations very important.

  7. The Tea Party turned out to be a pee party and has been a joke from the start; one-issue boneheads with funny hats, who, once they imbibed the toxic vapors of Mordor, were quickly turned, as expected.

    This system is too broke to fix; a complete power cycle/reboot is called for now.

  8. Great little show, that Dinner for One. They used to play it at Christmas Eve on Berlin TV, just as US TV played It’s a Wonderful Life.

    Hey Dave! In your promotion of Fred’s columns, you obviously forgot the one where he questions religion and the Old and New Testaments, just like so many of us here.

  9. As I understand it, the farm bill has been extended, since it’s expiration would have meant that milk price supports would have gone to over $7/gallon later this month. A sure way to get the ire of constituents.

  10. Said farm bill has not passed either house of Congress according to the news reports that I am seeing. I’m a spectator in this fight since I am violently allergic to milk.

  11. My office is about 90% clean. I still need to clean off my secondary desk and do a bit more on my tertiary desk.

    Oh gosh, we are moving in the first week of February..
    This is going to be grim. We have been in our present house for 8 years and are losing a bedroom, bathroom and game room. I am hoping to have enough mental stamina to just start throwing things out and not moving them again. My son (who moved out 3 years ago) has an entire walk in closet full of stuff that he has not worn since he was 10. Those will be going away in the middle of the night. My closet needs to be half thrown out or goodwilled. I shall not discuss the wife’s closet but I do have an opinion should she ask. My experience is that she will move it all and not ask me about anything.

  12. “…you obviously forgot the one where he questions religion and the Old and New Testaments, just like so many of us here.”

    Naw, I saw that one; I don’t post links to every single one of his columns, homes. However, if I may venture a little theory; some guys come back from the shit, i.e. various wars and suchlike, and no longer, if they ever did, believe in much of anything. Some of the stuff we see/saw is so bad that we wonder what kind of God would allow…etc., etc. I was that way myself for eleven years. And both he and I also saw years of street cop stuff. Fred clearly does not believe; I do. YMMV.

    @Lynn; My advice, which you probably don’t need, is to be utterly ruthless. Esp. with regard to items owned by or otherwise hitherto controlled by, female residents. Dump it when they’re not around; chances are real good they won’t miss it. We just moved this past October to our new house and I am still finding tons of shit that should have long since been dumped, years ago, in fact. As it was I got rid of truckloads of stuff, but evidently a lot of junk survived and made the journey with us, to my continued chagrin and frustration. Let me repeat: RUTHLESS.

  13. Hi OFD, that sounds good. RUTHLESS is excellent unless I get caught. BTW, the wife has suggested that I move my 4,000 scifi books to the storage building on our business property. All I had to answer was “my precious!”. She also suggested that the gun safe go there too. I had to bite my tongue about her wedding dress that takes up six inches in her closet. It is a size six and that was 31 years ago.

    I am reading “The Shack” right now.
    It is a fictional attempt to explain why God allows there to be evil in the world. The book is very down on organized religion. Very down. Very very down.

  14. I remember hearing about “The Shack” a while back; it’s kinda weird that a character’s name is the same as the daughter of the late John Phillips, one of the most soulful voices of pop rock back in The Glorious Sixties. She had a truckload of issues and problems growing up, as I recall. Anyway, I’ve been reading progressively more difficult Roman Catholic theology along with stuff about contemporary physics, and there is ample explanation for why omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God “allows” evil in this world. It may not be any more comfortable for those of us who’ve seen and heard terrible things or who have suffered grievous loss, but again, YMMV.

    I would agree, tentatively, with your wife’s suggestion as to where to store the sci-fi books for now; you can’t possibly be reading all through them near where you ordinarily sit; however: I would hold this in abeyance as a possible bargaining chip for the nonce. The gun safe, empty though it is, should stay in the main residence with easy and fast access to you and whoever else with that responsibility (finger keypads, retinal recognition, whatever). I offer no advice on the wedding dress; you will have to fly by the seat of your pants on that one, homes. (you don’t still wear the same size pants you had thirty-one years ago, do you??)

    Do the major dumping on the sly; make sure they’re outta the house and/or put knockout drops in their cocoa or vino or whatever at night. They won’t miss it. I have successfully done this with daughter’s piles of junk over the years; bagged it up and tossed it and none the wiser.

  15. This is what we did: sell furniture and toss everything but about a half-dozen boxes of pictures and memorabilia of our kids. Put that in storage at my parents. Give away all our dishes and cookware to our kids in the US. Pack 2 suitcases of clothes and personal stuff under the airline limit. Move across the ocean. Amazingly, we had everything we needed (this coincided with my switching to a laptop as my only computer, which works and I highly recommend).

    After being there for 10 years, I came back with only 4 suitcases, 2 of which contained tech stuff I acquired while in Germany, and which cost considerably more there than in the US. Had I been able to buy the stuff in the US, I would not have bothered, but Creative blew off all the Henry Kloss designed stuff they bought with the purchase of Cambridge Soundworks, so it was irreplaceable and came with me.

    You can get by with a LOT less stuff than you think. But that 4,000 book collection is impressive. Still, I would try to get digital copies and sell the book of what is on digital. But I am more of a minimalist every day I live. I do not get lost in books or movies anymore, and really cannot sit still to watch/read stuff that is marginal or worse. Jeri always said she could tell what I really thought about a movie by how many times I looked at my watch during the showing. Last fiction book I thoroughly enjoyed was Ender’s Game, but after sailing through it, I was really unhappy with the way he dispensed with the main character as a deteriorating decrepit at the end. I would really rather play with my own imagination than be subjected to somebody else’s.

  16. RBT, the problem with your Reichenbach Falls analogy is that it assumes one of the sides is good and only one is bad. A better analogy is Hitler invading Stalinist Russia: evil vs evil, with the leaders mainly living in comfort if not luxury and the ordinary schlubs suffering and dying.

    … Dammit. And now I’ve gotten myself all pissed off and depressed again.

  17. Yeah, in line somewhat with Chuck’s tale of crossing the ocean blue with whatever stuff; we also had several yahd sales and got rid of SOME stuff but not nearly enuff and didn’t make piles of dough or anything. You can try that, plus Craigslist and see what you get for cash and what you end up getting rid of. But in general, go through the house room by room and divide in tres partes, like Gaul: stuff you will need immediately on moving into the new place; stuff you will mos def be using throughout life; and get rid of the rest.

    Evil vs. Evil, writ large in Europe and Russia lo these seventy-plus years ago. The correct moves for us would have been to A: not piss off or scare Japan, and B: let the Nazis and Communists go at it and stay the hell out.

  18. Lynn, give her a chance to keep some of it, say 1/4, and toss the rest. If she refuses to co-operate just toss it all.

    Many years ago my parents were visiting, they stayed for three weeks. Mum said she needed some cleaning rags, and asked if she could use some favourite old t-shirts of mine that I hadn’t worn for years. I said no, of course.

    One day, while I was at work, she took executive action, and tore them up in to cleani9ng rags. I was as mad as hell but what could I do?

  19. Arrrgh! I don’t often download a torrent, but when I do, I have used microTorrent (uT), the once lean, no-nonsense little program that was bought by big corporate conglomerate interest bit-torrent and turned into bloatware. Guess what? They just put in an ad banner. That is why I am more and more interested in Emma Goldman and her views as time goes on. These huge conglomerate interests have only greed on their mind. Don’t believe it?

    My dad used to wish we would have another Great Depression. He used to talk about the days when a business would do ANYTHING to get a sale, including having the owner’s kid deliver the goods on his bicycle, if necessary.

    A user found a way to disable the ads, but apparently they keep coming back after a period of time. Go to Advanced settings and scroll through the massive listing and change “sponsored_torrent_offer_enabled” to false. And keep doing that periodically if you want to use uT without ads. Grrr.

    Meanwhile, let me be the last to wish everyone a Happy New Year!

  20. Lynn McGuire says at 31 December 2012 at 19:21

    my 4,000 scifi books

    4,000 books? Only four thousand books?
    What the hell have you been doing with your life?
    Only four thousand books, for crying out loud!
    That’s pathetic, honestly!
    In fact, in the words of a well-known puddy-tat, that’s “dethpickabel”.
    You’d better extract the digit and get on with it. Science fiction and fantasy books are like land – you need to buy in bulk while you can – they’re not making much more of them.

  21. Happiest and most peaceful and prosperous new year to all y’all on this here board, from your friend in Retroville, northern Vermont!

  22. A very Happy New Year to you David, Bob our Host and the rest of those here on this website.

    Have a great 2013


  23. Hi Don, like the sarcasm! Actually, I used to have more but we got flooded in Dallas in 1989. Got three inches of water in the house but 15 inches of water in the garage. I had a couple of thousand books in books in the garage. All that cardboard and paper soaked up that water quite well. Lost most of my Heinleins and Asimovs that way.

    Did I mention that the flood was at 5 am? Was quite exciting to swing my feet out of bed into water. I got Pam up, she grabbed the 2 year old and I grabbed the 5 year old and we ran for high ground up the street. In the middle of the 8 inch per hour rainstorm. Did not grab a single book.

    And BTW, the new books in SciFi and Fantasy are better than ever. That is the land that never stops growing unlike real land. I’ve got about 300 books in my SBR (strategic book reserve) and 2/3 of them are newly published in the last year or so.

  24. Lynn, I wouldn’t have any idea how many books I have, except that it’s “way too many.”

    Many years ago when my parents were visiting they invited one of my neighbors in for afternoon tea. The neighbor, who didn’t read much, was astonished to see one of my large book cases, stuffed with books. My folks decided not to mention the four or five similar sized bookcases in other rooms.

    Once I mentioned to my father that I needed to get a new bookcase or two, his reply was “why don’t you sell some books,” which sounded like rank heresy to me.

    I only have, at most, 200 SF and fantasy books. Yes, I know I should read more widely. My favourite SF authors are Frank Herbert (Dune saga), Asimov and Iain M. Banks – a Scottish atheist (don’t hold that against him) who has written some marvelous stuff about The Culture – an anarchist utopia about 10,000 years ahead of us technologically.

  25. I lost interest in and gave up on SF and Fantasy decades ago; just didn’t do anything for me anymore and I discovered that actual human history was even stranger and more fun to read and think about. Maybe I’ll take a look at a couple of contemporary writers to see wussup widdat.

  26. I have tons of history books too. US, Indian, Medieval, English, Roman, etc. I don’t buy that many books nowadays but 20-30 years ago I was the Australian version of Imelda Marcos in bookshops.

    Also have lots of maths, physics, biology, computer science, and even a few chemistry books. I don’t envy my executors…

  27. I have a 72″ double book case in my bedroom, stuffed. A-Di. I have four 72″ single book cases in my study, all stuffed. Di-Z. I am contemplating a minor purge. After all, I must be RUTHLESS.

  28. RUTHLESS is the word, homie. Go for it. I was ruthless with my own stuff and expected no less from everyone else and needless to say, little or no cooperation on that score; it is unbelievable the junk we kept and moved up here, which I am still discovering. I am tossing it now, while they’re not here, you can bet on it.

    Pretend you’re a pirate on the Spanish Main or wherever; no mercy, no quarter.

  29. Sounds like you’re cruising for a bruising when the girls get home.

  30. One wonders who will get home first, the garbage truck or the girls? I also wonder if they know that they are in a race?

  31. Can I riff on Samsung monitors for a moment? My wife gave me the Samsung 27″ LED monitor from Sams Club for my birthday last June. It is dead over here beside my desk with no power light. My Dad’s beloved Samsung 275T died on Thanksgiving also.

    We have about 20 or so Samsung monitors at the office. I bought 5 more of the Samsung 2433BW and 943bt monitors for the office as more people are doubling up and we had a couple of interns last summer. All are OK so far.

    So, why are the personal Samsung monitors dying and the business ones still running? They are the same monitors, mostly ordered from Amazon. They are all left on 24×7.

  32. One of my Samsungs died a few years ago for no apparent reason. Out of warranty, of course. Otherwise I’m happy, they’re the only brand I buy now.

    Saw The Hobbit (hi Chuck!) part 1 last Saturday. Gollum’s incessant whining about the loss of “my precious” might be a foretaste of what Dave is in for, only twice as bad.

  33. Sigh. I went to the Samsung site and went through their checklist prepatory to sending back in the six month old. First item: power issues. First question: did you try plugging directly to the wall? Could not remember doing so, so did. Of course, the monitor now works. And it now works plugged into my ups. Go figure.

  34. And yes, I liked “The Hobbit”. Saw it in Real3D with my Dad. Was good except when the dwarves broke into song in Bilbo’s house. If you have any kind of bladder issues, do not take a drink, the sucker is a solid 3 hours long. And the Dinner scene in Bilbo’s house (before the song!) is excellent. Even the fish head eating.

  35. I was annoyed that The Hobbit was so long and that they took so many liberties with the book. Stuff not in the book was put in the film. I mean, The Lord of the Rings was split in three, which I understood. It’s a huge book, but The Hobbit book is tiny by comparison. It could easily have fit into one film.

    Greg (with cast iron bladder. One of the few things about me that isn’t going wrong.)

  36. Iain M. Banks has just written a new book, The Hydrogen Sonata. HB and Kindle only at the moment. The Kindle price is the same as the HB price. Who do his publishers think they’re dealing with? I won’t pay more than $4.99 for a Kindle book. Period.

  37. I think $4.99 is too high. The “natural” price of an ebook is half the price of a used paperback, given that you can resell the used paperback for half what you paid for it. I’ll pay $2.99 because that’s the minimum price Amazon set to pay the author the 70% royalty rate rather than 35%, but that’s as high as I’ll generally go for Kindle fiction.

  38. I’m sure this is old news here but having had the Kindle for PC on my now defunct Windows box I didn’t have my books anymore; last night I got Amazon Cloud working on this Ubuntu machine and voila, instantly got them all back. Took all of about ten seconds and a couple of mouse clicks.

  39. $4.99 *is* too high, but I will pay over the odds for something I really want. But if the decision is marginal I’ll walk away and teach people not to be greedy.

  40. …you can resell the used paperback for half what you paid for it.

    Can you back that up? Unless the realities of the used book market have changed a whole lot since I haunted used paperback stores it is way off. I recall them offering a 25% store credit (no cash, ever) for the books they would take – and they were selective. The store I am thinking of sold them for half the cover price plus $1, which made some of the oldest ones cost more than cover. (Example: The Virginian by Owen Wister, $0.35 cover price Pocket Book).

    (I miss the cent sign. I know it is there somewhere if I hit enough keys, but I can never remember the magic formula.)

    Baen has been the most rational publisher when it comes to eBooks. With the death of Baen himself behind us a while they have finally succumbed to reality and started selling through Amazon, with a price increase (and better cut for authors). The typical deal is $10 for the eBook until the paperback comes out, then it drops to $7. And no DRM.

  41. I think $4.99 is too high. The “natural” price of an ebook is half the price of a used paperback, given that you can resell the used paperback for half what you paid for it. I’ll pay $2.99 because that’s the minimum price Amazon set to pay the author the 70% royalty rate rather than 35%, but that’s as high as I’ll generally go for Kindle fiction.

    My wife paved the way for the Kindle Fire by buying me a Nook Tablet as an anniversary gift a few months before the Kindle Fire was announced. I’ve only paid more than $2.99 for a fiction book once. That was for the first entry in Kathy Reichs’ series of Temperance Brennan novels.

  42. Around here, at least the last time I checked, most used bookstores allowed you to trade used paperbacks 2 for 1. They wouldn’t take junk like obsolete technical books, but they would take nearly any fiction paperback and most non-fiction. Admittedly, it’s been a few years since I was in a used bookstore or indeed any bookstore. Which is a good indication of how far bookstores have gone down the drain. I used to buy 100+ books a year at bookstores.

    There’s nothing reasonable about $7 for an ebook (mass-market, not technical and other specialty titles, but general fiction), let alone $10. There may be no DRM on Baen books, but are you allowed to resell them? What you’re paying for when you “buy” an ebook is simply the right to read the book. You can do that at a library for $0, or you can do it by buying a used paperback for $3 or $4. That puts the natural price for an ebook somewhere between $0 and $1.50 to $2, with perhaps a small increase for recently-released books. But most people aren’t willing to pay much, if any, extra for a recent title.

    I subscribe to a site that sends one or two emails a day listing free Kindle books, typically with 25 to 50 titles a day. I’m very selective about what I’ll take, even for free, but even at that my virtual TBR stack has close to 1,000 titles in it. Barbara does a second pass to check for books we might like. If we like one of the free ones, we’ll buy the other titles in the series as long as they’re $2.99 or less. Sometimes, if we really like a series, we’ll go $3.99, but not often. If an author’s other titles are at $3.99 or more, I email the author and explain that I’d have ordered all of the remaining series titles if they were priced at $2.99 or less, but there’s no way I’ll order them at $3.99 or more. Several have responded by reducing their “standard” prices to $2.99.

  43. Oh, yeah. I also point out to the authors that they make about $0.70 royalty on a paperback, but only the first time it’s sold. On a $2.99 ebook, they make a $2.04 royalty, which is close to what they make on a hardback, but they get that ebook royalty every time someone buys a copy. There aren’t any “used” ebooks. Pricing a fiction ebook higher than $2.99 is simply greedy.

  44. The Hydrogen Sonata I mentioned is AU$18.17 on Kindle and either AU$16.38 or 16.15 in HB. Geez.

    Who sets the price? Iain Banks or his publisher? If the latter he should tell them to FROAD.

  45. Indie authors set their own prices. Trad-published authors have absolutely nothing to say about price. Even Robert Heinlein, who late in his career probably had more control over his books than any other author before or since, didn’t get to set the cover price. That’s something that publishers will never give up.

    Trad publishers do everything possible to protect hardback sales, including pricing ebooks at ridiculous levels. If Banks had indie-published that book at $2.99, he’d get $2.04 royalty per copy sold, and he’d sell a shitload of copies. At $18, the royalty rate is only 35% instead of 70%, which makes the royalty paid to the author only 17.5% (14.9% after the agent’s commission) and he’ll sell a tiny fraction of the number of copies at $18 that he’d sell at $2.99.

    Note how desperate the publishers are to kill ebooks. Not just the ridiculous $18 cover price that kills sales volume, but the fact that they’d actually have gotten a higher per copy royalty from Amazon if they’d priced it at $9.99 and gotten the 70% rate.

  46. I’d say that most of the e-books I’ve got from Amazon have been either free or .99 cents, sometimes $1.99, and that’s it. And I’ve got some great stuff that I’ve never seen in used bookstores over half a century. One example: The Summa Theologica, which was published in five hardback volumes by the Dominicans a long time ago and costs several hundred bucks; $1.99 on Kindle. Plus a very good selection of American Revolution-era primary texts.

  47. Yep. Books have gone from a scarcity model to one of plenty. It’s a win-win-lose situation. Readers and authors both win; traditional publishers lose big time. They’re no longer the gatekeepers. They’ve been disintermediated.

  48. Good riddance to the publishers, the MSM, newspapers and airlines. All going down. Of course once the airlines are kaput, Mrs. OFD will have to find another line of work; she’s headed out again Friday at O-Dark-Thirty for Babylon West.

  49. The only books I’ve bought in the past two years are books that would be terrible to use on my Kindle, or are just not available as ebooks.

    While there are plenty of ebooks available for free, I’ve found that many of them aren’t worth that price. Indeed, after reading a few of them, I want the authors to reimburse me for my time.

  50. Good riddance to the publishers, the MSM, newspapers and airlines. All going down. Of course once the airlines are kaput, Mrs. OFD will have to find another line of work; she’s headed out again Friday at O-Dark-Thirty for Babylon West.

    Speaking of airlines, Mary Chervenak flew down to Florida over New Years and just got back this morning. Well, presumably she got back. Before she left, she stopped over at our house to drop off a garage door remote. She mentioned that she was flying American because it was the only choice. Apparently, AA is late departing/arriving nearly 100% of the time. I found that shocking enough, but then she mentioned that 30% of the time the flight doesn’t depart at all and is simply canceled.

    That’s a level of service that back in the USSR days I would have associated with Aeroflot. I’d have found it unimaginable that a US airline could perform so poorly and still remain in business.

  51. While there are plenty of ebooks available for free, I’ve found that many of them aren’t worth that price. Indeed, after reading a few of them, I want the authors to reimburse me for my time.

    Oh, there’s no doubt that there’s a lot of self-published garbage out there, but on the other hand trad publishers crank out some real stinkers as well. The site I get notifications from does first-level screening. I think they only consider self-pubbed ebooks that have 3.5 stars or higher on Amazon. I then do second-level screening by clicking only on those that sound both decent and interesting. That’s maybe 20% or 25% of the mystery titles on average. I then do third-level screening by reading the Amazon description and looking at a couple of the worst reviews. Only if it passes that do I bother to download the free ebook, which is probably half to a third of those I bothered to bring up on the Amazon site. Barbara then does fourth-level screening, so by the time one actually ends up on either of our Kindles it’s gone through some pretty decent vetting.

  52. I hear these tales all the time from Mrs. OFD; missed, late and canceled flights, crappy airports, onerous and humiliating security shit (which she gets to mostly bypass now as a frequent biz traveler and well-known, thankfully). And bad air on the planes themselves; she invariably comes back with respiratory ailments, cold, flu-type stuff, etc. And food/refreshments is a bad joke. Luckily I haven’t been in a commercial aircraft since 1994 and no interest or need to do so now.

  53. Boy, that’s quite a level of vetting youse guys do down there for e-books. I know pretty much what I want and what to look for and don’t worry about other reader reviews; how many losers like me are there out there who are reading Mercy Otis Warren’s History of the American Revolution (anti-Federalist from Boston, of all places) not to mention the Summa? And I am still looking out for the Reverend Michael Wigglesworth’s “Days of Judgement, Days of Doom” while I already have Reverend Cotton Mather’s “Magna Christi Americana.” There won’t be many other reader reviews to help me vet.

  54. “…five spare 30-round AR-15/Mini-14 magazines that I’d forgotten I had. Maybe I should see if a DC TV station wants to interview me.”

    Oh by all means! Tell them you got them from that guy Lynn down in Texas, who has a gigantic arsenal at his house.

  55. I had one 30 round mag for my mini-14 now laying at the bottom of the Brazos river. It would not feed the last 2 or 3 bullets due to weak spring pressure. My USMC son says that they did not use 30 round mags for the same reason.

    And my 50 round mag for my 10-22 had the same problem. And, it takes a long time to feed fifty long 22s into the mag. A long time. That 10-22 can sure pop them out though. Too bad it is laying at the bottom of the Brazos river.

    Here is the only way to fire a lot of rounds, “Happiness is a belt fed weapon”.
    That is my USMC son in California after severely cleaning a M249 with piano wire brush that had not been cleaned for a year or so. They are getting ready to defend a hilltop in 10 F weather against a possible infiltrating force.

  56. I’ve never loaded 30-round mags to more than 28 rounds for just that reason. The Ramline 30-round AR-15/Mini-14 mags seem to work reliably at 28 rounds, as did the MAC-10 mags.

    As for loading mags quickly, that’s what stripper clips/mag loaders are for. You just align the stripper clip with the top of the mag and press straight down to load all of the rounds in the clip into the mag.

  57. I’ll have to check that out on my home box I guess. Won’t open in this Windows vm for some reason. I have VLC running on Ubuntu (plus the Movie Player that comes with it) so should be able to see it there.

    Yeah, those hi-cap mags tend to have those problems; I like standard factory 20-round mags but I only load them with 18, thanks to my ancient USAF training with the M16 piece of shit.

    I wonder if a dive team, maybe from the local FD or PD, could drop a couple of people in the Brazos down there, maybe recover your stuff; a little cleanup and Bob’s yer uncle!

  58. They would not have to dive the Brazos river right now. It is about three foot deep at most with our ongoing drought. Very easy to see the alligators and water moccasins.

  59. Oh, so I better call the local authorities back right away and tell them to back off. Back WAY off. I don’t mind gators but moccasins? Fuggettaboutit. Buggers chase your frigging canoe. All pissed off, too.

  60. RBT wrote:

    “I found that shocking enough, but then she mentioned that 30% of the time the flight doesn’t depart at all and is simply canceled.

    That’s a level of service that back in the USSR days I would have associated with Aeroflot. I’d have found it unimaginable that a US airline could perform so poorly and still remain in business.”

    Hey! You stole one of my lines.

    I flew with AA in 2003 from LAX to Dulles and while I had no complaints about the flight (it left and arrived on time, they wanted to charge for headphones, which I never use) checking in was a nightmare. I was supposed to have a boarding pass already printed and waiting for me in the secure area (I’d just arrived on Qantas from Sydney), but it wasn’t there, so I had to exit the secure area wait in line for an hour or so to get my boarding pass and go back into the secure area – of course they wanted to examine my shoes.

    While I was waiting to check in (I had six hours before my flight left so I wasn’t concerned) other people were getting frantic as the departure times for their flights approached. AA had staff going through the lines, asking when your flight was departing, and promoting you to the front of the queue if necessary. I don’t know if people actually missed flights, but the tension in the line was just incredible. One customer tied up a check in counter for about half an hour, goodness knows what the problem was. That meant there was only one active check in counter most of the time.

    That was when I concluded that AA was staffed with Aeroflot rejects.

  61. One customer tied up a check in counter for about half an hour, goodness knows what the problem was.

    This continually amazes me, and it seems to be airlines everywhere. Even if you have all of your documents in order, only normal luggage, etc: the check-in process takes too long. It ought to be a matter of 30 seconds or less, but even simple cases take anywhere up to 5 minutes.

    The number of agents working also seems to be nearly constant, regardless of actual need. If you are at the airport “between” flights, you’ll often see the agents sitting at their stations bored. Wait until the next departure is coming up, and you see the same – now grossly inadequate – number of agents waiting on horrendous queues of customers.

    Some airlines here, most notably Easyjet, now have self-checkin stations that work sort of like ATMs. As long as your needs are absolutely standard, these work wonders: you can be done in under a minute. Which brings up the first question again: why does service by a trained agent take so ridiculously long?

    The airlines in the US can get away with crappy service because they are, in fact, State-run companies. How many times have they gone bankrupt, only to be rescued again, and again, and again? They have no risk: No matter how poorly they serve their customers, the companies will stay in business and the executives will get their bonuses. Genuine competition is impossible, when poor competitors aren’t allowed to die.

  62. All a matter of degree, I guess. I started flying for business back in the late ’60’s. Back then, there was plenty of competition, and regulation was such that tickets were mandated good for passage between two points on any airline. Many a time, there was a wait on some airline, or I got to the airport early, and the airline across the lobby had an earlier flight to where I was going. I just took my ticket across the hall and without further ado or payment, I was quickly on a different flight of a completely different airline. Try that today. And if I missed a flight—no problem. The ticket was still good for full value and I just hopped on the next flight. Boy, miss a flight today, and you pay dearly.

    Of course, back then there were not even any security checks at all. And seats were at least 1/3 bigger than today. Flying was a pleasure then: a chance to get away from the office pressure and read a good book while being waited on hand and foot with food, snacks, drinks, and any comfort you might want. Now, flying is no better than traveling with the squealing pigs loaded from top to stern of semi-trailers, headed for market.

  63. Wow, flying back then must have been almost a pleasure. Nowadays I regard it as just a means to an end. Some airlines try to make it seem glamorous and exciting, but I just want to get to my destination. My elder nephew has just flown from Adelaide to Oslo, and was upgraded to business. He said he couldn’t reach the seat in front of him. We’re all insanely jealous.

    My problem is that I hate flying and hate driving long distances. For Christmas I drove from Canberra to Adelaide, 1200 km, 12.5-13.5 hours, stayed two weeks and then drove back. Very tedious and uninteresting. I wish there was a direct train line.

  64. Nah. Unlike you I’m a social person. Anyway, in a few months the whole problem will go away.

  65. My problem is that I hate flying and hate driving long distances. For Christmas I drove from Canberra to Adelaide, 1200 km, 12.5-13.5 hours, stayed two weeks and then drove back. Very tedious and uninteresting. I wish there was a direct train line.

    Greg, you should have tried that with an 18 month old toddler who never sleeps more than 30 minutes in the car.

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