Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Tam's sweet little cat, Mittens, passed away today.

Tam could use some cheering up.

I had Mittens on my lap Sunday night and she seemed fine. Poor little kitty.

September Indy Blogmeet Report

The September Indy Blogmeet was a roaring success! I met two new bloggers: Days of our Trailers and Shermlock Shomes. They've actually been blogging longer than I have so they're not new in that sense, but you get the idea.

Bloggers attending were:
View From The Porch
Adventures of Roberta X
Days of Our Trailers
Call Me Ahab
Hell In A Handbasket
Home On The Range
Old Grouch
Shermlock Shomes

After several hours of scintillating conversation, spiced with good food and beverages (try the Porter) we walked up the Monon Trail to the art center and posed, rather spontaneously, actually, for the photo above. (Geez! I look like Sidney fuckin' Greenstreet fer chrissakes!)

And then it was time to say our farewells.

I was out on the 6:05 A.M. flight to Reagan National (passed through the Indy airport's "puffer" machine even after having fired nearly a hundred rounds of 10mm at bowling pins on Saturday... why not an even hundred, you ask? Well, remind me to tell you the story of the "human speed-loading event" at the shoot) and to work on time! Whew! Long day!

And worth it a thousand times over!

This Looks Good!

Obama's Bold New Look

From The Peoples' Cube.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Corsets! They Lace In Front!

I love those old advertising banners that they used to paint on brick buildings. This one is in Chicago, just a few steps from Michigan Ave.

This Guy Makes Vacuum Tubes in His Workshop!

Watch this video.
This is absolutely amazing!
He makes vacuum tubes from scratch, and they work!
Where can I get a spot-welder like that?!
Wow! Zut alors!

via Boing-Boing.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

"Another Gun-Related Death!!"

This shooting is a sad example of what the gun-control lobby would call
1) An innocent victim of gun violence, i.e. guns can only cause harm
2) A shooting death in a residence, i.e. you shouldn't keep a gun in the house
3) The homicide of a child, i.e. someone under 21.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Chicago Police fatally shot a man early Friday after he refused to stop stabbing another man at his Near West Side home.

Tyrone K. Bell, 20, of the 100 block of North Bell Avenue, was shot at his home and was dead on the scene, said the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.

Independent Police Review Authority spokesman Mark Payne said a Chicago Police officer fatally shot Bell inside a building about 1:30 a.m.

via Second City Cop.

Evolutionists Flock to Darwin-Shaped Wall Stain

From The Onion.

Henry Z. Steinway, Piano Maker, Dies at 93

From the NYT.

Pecuniae Fugit

Ammunition as money in colonial Massachusetts.

From The Volokh Conspiracy.

Fusion-Powered Boombox

Theraminists For Obama

Having lost the feminist vote, the Dems are going after the Theraminist Lobby.

Crony Capitalism

From The Volokh Conspiracy.

My sentiments exactly!

They've been enjoying the "rewards" for so long and now it's time for them to experience the "risk".

How Libertarian Can You Be?

Not more than 100%, I'll wager.

The Tall Guy

Jeff Goldblum

Emma Thompson

This is a 1989 romantic comedy, set in London. Jeff Goldblum plays a down-on-his-luck American actor, desperate for work. Emma Thompson is a nurse and his girlfriend. He wins the title role in an unintentionally campy musical based on "The Elephant Man," which features such hit songs as Ain't Gonna Follow The Herd, I'm Packin' My Trunk, and Somewhere Up In Heaven There's An Angel With Big Ears.

The phony musical numbers are very funny but the best thing about the movie is the absolutely hilarious love scene. The two of them utterly destroy an apartment.

On the bed, on the floor, on the table, under the table ...

... on the breakfast ...

... on the toast ...

... on the piano ...

... and on the wall.

And, yes, that really is Emma and not a body double. Brave woman! I added that black rectangle 'cause I don't want my blog to get a bad 'rep' (unlike some blogs I could name!).

What a mess!

"What happened? Where am I?"

One of the funniest, sweetest, sexiest love scenes in the movies.

Broad Ripple At Last!

Made it over the treacherous Dalandzadgad Gap and down the Monon Trail to Broad Ripple.
The border guards hardly glanced at my Letters Of Transit; they just wanted to be paid.
And I just want one of those delicious Broad Ripple Porters.

This is the beautiful view from the bridge just a few blocks north of the Brew Pub.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Caravan: Day 13

Gateway to Dalandzadgad

Day Thirteen: At last we have reached Dalandzadgad! We will rest here for a day while the caravan owners barter with the locals. It will be wonderful to have a bath and sleep in a bed after two weeks. My camel was beginning to complain about my smell. I had to leave behind a change of clothes in order to bring along the sat-fone.

This is still a major silk trading city. Legend credits Xiling, the wife of Emperor Huangdi, with first unraveling the mile or so of thread from a silkworm's cocoon, and places that event 4,650 years ago.

And you can buy beer here! I saw a "Carlsberg" sign. In spite of the strong Islamic influence, this is a live-and-let-live city.

Dalandzadgad is the only city in Turonistan to have electricity twenty-four hours a day. This is due to the hydroelectric dam built in 1948. So Dalandzadgad is the “Las Vegas” of Turonistan. There is even an airport, with flights to Ulan Bator. But the only runway is hard-packed sand, and the only airline is Aero Mongolia, and the airport has no radar or other navigational aids. Visual flight rules only! Airport security? Fuggetaboudit! They don't even have a fence around the runway; anybody and his brother could be driving a Toyota across the runway while you're trying to land!

The control tower at Dalandzadgad Airport

So travel by camel is much safer than flying, even allowing for the occasional massacre. You could take a Land Rover convoy, but all of those things are getting stolen and hijacked. Some say the thieves sell 'em to the Americans, some say they sell 'em to the Talib. Knowing the locals: probably both.

This afternoon I went to a Kazak fair. First, 50 youngsters galloped round and round a flag-marked course in a grueling mini-marathon; then women pursued men on horseback and beat them with their riding whips in what we were told was an ancient, and no doubt endearing, form of Kazak courtship; and finally there was a game of ulak tartish, a battle-game involving a goat's carcass. Not too different from Broad Ripple!

Tomorrow we will leave Turonistan and cross the frontier at the Dalandzadgad Gap, near the Turkamen Uygur Autonomous Region, formerly Persian Turkestan.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Caravan: Day 12

Day Twelve: Finally! We have had no fresh water for eight days. We will rest here for half a day and then press on to Dalandzadgad and the frontier. The Taklamakan is a glacier-fed river, and the water is crystal clear.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Caravan: Day 11

Day Eleven: In Ghenghis Khan’s time, this was the mighty city of Qaghystrka in the Uygur kingdom of Khocho. Now it is an empty ruin. We arrived just as the sun was beginning to set.

Do you think that, in 2,000 years, there may be cities in North America that look like this?

The two figures in this picture ran away when we tried to approach them. Not far from here, Marco Polo wrote of terrifying mirages - "hosts of men coming toward them" - which caused merchants, "suspecting they were robbers," to take flight and lose their way; modern Swedish explorer Sven Hedin called it "the most dangerous desert in the world."

Speaking of which, still no explanation for those gunshots a few nights ago. The owners of this caravan are Fatimids, and they can be extremely harsh with those that cross them. The drivers seem very relaxed and some of them even dozed off on their camels, so whatever it was, the danger seems to have passed.

Running very low on water.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Caravan: Day 10

Oh, yeah, I've got your desert!

It is hot and dry and dusty and there are flies.

This picture was taken by my friend, Seppi. That's me on camel #2. The guy leading us is the "Patron". The others are some Iranians. We are at the tail end of the caravan, but today we have the wind at our backs, so the guys in front are now eating our dust!

This was the only tree I saw all day, the only tree visible, in any direction, all the way to the horizon.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Caravan: Day 9

Day Nine: The terrain is very harsh, but the elevation is more reasonable and it is not too cold. We were hoping to find water here but the scouts say the wells ahead are dry. That is total B.S. That oasis is huge. I think the caravan owners just don't want to pay what the locals are charging for water. This is bad ju-ju; one Moslem does not refuse hospitality to another. The locals are probably Twelvers, who don't like Fatimids, or maybe it's just an old tribal feud. Whatever. The caravan owners will come back this way on their return trip, and they will have plenty of water, and they will settle accounts then.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Caravan: Day 8

Today we passed by this little village. All the kids came out and ran beside the camels, giggling and begging for candy. The grown-ups gave us a wide berth.

See the bullhorn on the roof? That's gotta be the mosque.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Caravan: Day 7

Day Seven: Last night we heard gunshots. My Pashtu is not very good, but I think I overheard one of the caravan drivers telling another that we lost two camels. Maybe he said we lost two men; or two rifles. I wanted to ask him about it. Best thing to do, tho', is not to ask; best thing to do is keep your eyes straight ahead and your mouth shut. Shooting at night is unusual for people like these: the muzzle flashes give your position away, and you can't aim worth a damn. Probably they were just scaring off some thieves. Nothing to worry about.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Caravan: Day 6

Outside of Kizil we passed this cave house that is apparently still occupied.

Passed most of the day today trying to teach the Iranians how to talk like pirates. Managed "Yarrr!"

Friday, September 19, 2008

Caravan: Day 5

Day Five: The midpoint of the descent. These are the ruins of a Buddhist monastery, built into these rock formations beginning in the fourth century.
During the Han Dynasty, nearly a thousand troops were stationed here to protect travelers, monks, pilgrims and trade caravans.

Around the ninth century the rivers dried up and these dwellings were abandoned.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Caravan: Day 4

Day Four: Leaving Hotan with the main body of the caravan. At this point we are in the foothills and descending sharply. There will be no more water for several days. These hills are so steep that the direct rays of the sun do not reach the floor of the valleys until mid-morning. So opportunities to use the solar panel have been few. This evening I have just a few minutes of air time before sunset.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Caravan: Day 3

Resting in Hotan and joining up with the main caravan.
This is a map of the oasis that is our next stop after we leave Hotan. To the north is the Taxkorgan Desert, and to the south is the Karakorgan Range. As you can see, it is a big oasis, but this is a very big caravan.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Caravan: Day 2

Day Two: The approach to the Heavenly Pass.

Over the Pass and now traveling the Qyzylorda Valley. It's the highest “valley” in Asia: over 4,000 meters! This is a frozen lake. The English explorer Robert Conway disappeared into those mountains seventy years ago.

After two day’s difficult travel we have reached Hotan. We will rest here for a day. Hotan has quite a history. According to al-Biruni, an 11th-century Arab scholar and scientist, this was the city of the so-called Stone Tower, where the Roman geographer Ptolemy said Western and Chinese merchants met regularly in the first century to exchange goods.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Caravan: Day 1

Daybreak on Day One: saddle up! The main body of the caravan is two days' ride from here.

Just a few kilometers outside of Bishkek we saw some herdsmen.

We like to say that our people are born in a saddle. Notice that these guys don’t carry rifles; traveling light and fast is the way to go for a small group like this one. With horses, these scouts can stay out of harm’s way. The rest of us, tied down with the main caravan, have our Enfields, still very popular thanks to the British.

First night’s camp, in the foothills of the Hotan Range. After breakfast we will begin the climb to the Heavenly Pass.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


The caravan scouts arrived in Bishkek last night in a driving downpour. We should be seeing the lead camels any day now. The scouts say the main caravan is almost five kilometers long. Blogging will be light for the next two weeks. I will bring the sat-fone and solar panel and try to post from the road.
We stocked up on fresh pomegranates and other essentials. Like .303 British. The caravan provides the rifles, but passengers must bring their own ammunition. There's an old joke, “No ammo, no ride!” In Dari, it rhymes. It's sort of like your American bumper sticker that says, “Ass, gas or grass – nobody rides for free”. Except here in Turonistan, they are very, very serious about it: no ammo, no ride.
It is time to say farewell to the familiar streets of Bishkek. But we are filled with hopeful expectation for our eventual arrival in Indianapolis for the September Blogmeet.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Palin: 1, Gibson: 0

You wanna know about the Bush Doctrine?

The term was coined by columnist Charles Krauthammer in his June 4, 2001 column. In his column today, "Charlie Gibson's Gaffe", he says that ABC's Charles Gibson was wrong when he claimed that "The Bush Doctrine" was about "anticipatory self-defense". That is, indeed one of the facets of Bush foreign policy, but Krauthammer's term originally referred to Bush's hostility to the ABM and Kyoto treaties. Probably the single overarching policy of The Bush Doctrine today, Krauthammer says, is support for democracy worldwide. And this isn't even really a signature policy of the Bush Administration: it takes pieces of JFK's inaugural address ("... bear any burden, meet any hardship ..."), the Truman Doctrine, and Woodrow Wilson's "14 Points".

But Charlie Gibson was WAY off. And Palin's response, "In what respect, Charlie?" was closer to the truth than Gibson was. But Gibson looked down his nose, sighed, and corrected her.

Here's the link to Krauthammer's column.

New York Times Endorses Palin!

Well not exactly. Judge for yourself:
One might even say demography is destiny: this candidate was chosen because he could deliver Texas, that one because he personified rectitude, that one because he appealed to the other wing of the party. On occasion, Americans find it necessary to rationalize this rough-and-ready process. What a splendid system, we say to ourselves, that takes little-known men, tests them in high office and permits them to grow into statesmen. This rationale may even be right, but then let it also be fair. Why shouldn’t a little-known woman have the same opportunity to grow? We may even be gradually elevating our standards for choosing Vice Presidential candidates. But that should be done fairly, also. Meanwhile, the indispensable credential for a Woman Who is the same as for a Man Who - one who helps the ticket.
Only this was written in 1984, and they said it about Geraldine Ferraro, Democratic candidate for Vice-President.

From a comment in the Volokh Conspiracy.

Olympic Champion Kim Rhode's Shotgun Is Stolen

From the L.A. Times.

Yes, But I Didn't Mean Her!

In an interview, she said:

Q: You are a mother of five and were a homemaker for many years before entering politics. You say in your book that the skills you honed doing those things were the same ones you needed when you got to Congress. How so?

A: Absolutely, and this is what I want women to know, so they recognize the value of their own path, their unique experience. I've been in politics a while, over 20 years in the Congress of the United States, and this is a very rough-and-tumble.... I shouldn't say 'rough,' let me say a very challenging arena to be in. But as challenging as it is, nothing is as challenging as raising a family -- nothing. That experience forced me to be disciplined, diplomatic, focused, and successful, and I brought that discipline and focus to the Congress. Also, having a family keeps you focused on the future, which is the biggest inspiration in politics. In order to do what it takes to succeed in politics, you have to be inspired by your constituents, the power of your ideas, and the fact that you speak on behalf of children and their future, whether you have children of your own or not. It makes all the difference in the world.

No, not Sarah Palin.

Nancy Pelosi.

Via the Volokh Conspiracy.
And don't miss the comments from the people who thought they were reading Palin's words. Priceless!

I like this comment: "[In Presidential succession] Pelosi is third in line. It's hard to argue that experience as a mother makes you qualified for third in line but not second."


CBS News Investigates!!

From Rumor Watch:
Rumor: Sarah and Todd Palin’s business partner Scott Richter sought to have his divorce records sealed because he had something to hide.
False: Richter did appeal to a judge in Palmer, Alaska to seal his records citing concern for his own privacy since his phone number appeared in the documents and he wanted to avoid unnecessary phone calls from reporters. His request was denied but the rumor sent at least a dozen national reporters, including CBS News, to the courthouse. What did we turn up?