Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Scammers Get Even More Stupid

This showed up in my Junk folder this morning.

Dear sir/ Madam,
My name is General Wilson Scott, a US [united State of America]Army General presently in Iraq.
I need your urgent assistance to help me carry out a transaction. Please dont discard this email,as the first thing that may come to your mind is Scam.Please this is not Scam,it is real and genuine,I got your contact from a directory on the internet.
There is no point for me to tell you of the story of Iraq,as I am sure you are aware of it because is not a strange event.
As a US Army General in Iraq,I was opportune to make so huge amount of money $6,5M USD ]six million and five hunderd thousand Dollars]and also acquire 200 kILO Gramme of Gold.Although the money and Gold is acquired during the War crises,I managed to arrange the money and the Gold in a box,with the help of a Diplomat who moved it down to China. The Dilpomat does not know there is money in the Box,he thought it is only Gold that is in the box.
Base on my present situaion,I can not come out of Iraq to invest the money in a relaible business,hence I am contacting you to help me to pick up the money and GOLD from the Diplomat in China. If you can help me I will give you the Diplomat contact in China,for you to contact him and arrange with him to get the box containing the money delivered to you,so that you can help me to invest the money in a reliable business on my behalf,so that after I leave Iraq I will come over to your country to meet with you.
I am prepared to give you 20% of the total money if you can help me.
Please I want this transaction to be private becasue as a US Army General it is not permited for us to acquire such money and valuables,hence I want it private.
I want you to reply me through my private email: [etc etc etc]

Wow. Don't generals have to know how to spell? *wry face* The sent-from line was obviously hacked; I'm guessing the Nigerians have gotten even more stupid. I hope the military goes after them, instead of the civilian authorities. Jeez!!!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

An Anniversary We Forget But Ought To Remember

The Radio Patriot: "OBVIOUSLY A MAJOR MALFUNCTION" --I remember watching the very first shuttle liftoff on TV before going that morning to tour the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum in Washington. I also remember watching the replays of this over and over again. I've been to Christa McAulliffe's old school, too. And in most of the history survey texts now it barely even gets a passing mention.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Gardening is a cruel mistress

Planting season for 'maters and such begins March 1ish around here. That's sooner than we tend to think. So this afternoonI decided to run my tiller in the vegetable beds again to keep the furrows re-established and keep the weedies down somewhat. But I can't just fire-and-go because I've still got the broccoli going and I need to get between the rows. No problem, the tiller's outer tines are detachable. Only... the left outer tine had managed to get frozen to the axle, and no amount of oomphing and twisting would free it.

I got serious about it. A big hammer, a can of WD-40, and a railroad spike for leverage. Mountains have been moved with such tools. And it would...not...budge...a...millimeter. I decided, after an hour of hammering and a quarter-can of WD-40 (and one bruised thumb), that force plus chemistry was insufficient. Clearly, thermodynamics would be required.

I grabbed a firestarter log and set it ablaze and used it as a torch to heat the outer tine housing, hoping that it would heat faster than the inner axle and thus expand (breaking the rust hold); then, after first removing the open flame (a very critical thing, to be sure) I shot WD-40 onto the juncture of the two pieces, The effect was much like in soldering copper plumbing, and the WD-40 worked its way inside. More banging. One more incident involving profanity. But it finally began to move, a half-millimeter at a go, and after another half-hour, I finally managed to get the tine off. Dancing and singing! Relubed everything, got the tiller started, re-furrowed the new bed --and then without warning the spark plug literally disintegrated and fell inside the engine compartment.

I'm through gardening for the day.

UPDATE: all this intrigue allowed me today to play a rousing round of "Part, Part, Who Stocks The Part?" as I attempted to track down the correct spark plug for a Briggs & Stratton L-head engine in the 135200 series. This would've been a piece of cake, except I left the iPhone at home and couldn't just pull up the B/S webpage and look at the manuals. And no one actually keeps fitment charts anymore, it's all hyper-specialized browsers that allow no outside flexibility! Ugh!!! I did find it, though, and finished the tilling today after a brief engine teardown to make sure no nasty bits were in the compression chamber.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

“To Don’t” List for the Right

Big Hollywood » Blog Archive » My “To Don’t” List for the Right: read it. Of course, El Rushbo is being trumpeted all over CNN right now as saying that he hopes Obama fails. Any publicity is good publicity, I suppose. (Oh, and as long as you're over at Big Hollywood, read the article about Mickey Mouse written by ...Dirk Benedict (! Yes, the Faceman!!!)

Back To Work

School has started up for me again, with the usual intendant headaches of which classes am I teaching, and where. I only just found out that I'm scheduled to teach a section of Texas History, for which I am not quite prepared. (Next week, you bet! This week, not so much...)

Back to work for the nation as well. I don't think even the most fawning Obamaniac can confirm the MSM as being "impartial", not after the huge collective giddy squeal of coverage of the Inauguration. Boy I hope for their sakes they haven't set the whole nation up for a big let-down.

Good luck and Godspeed, Mr. President Obama. Remember that Washington didn't want the job when it was offered to him...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Crisis Averted; or, How I Harangued The Rogue Solon And Made Him See Wisdom

A certain state legislator was proposing that my state reduce the minimum number of history hours required for any undergraduate degree from six to three. Goring the sacred bison that is my livelihood was bound to get a response. But even if I didn't teach it, I'd still defend it, along these lines which I sent unto Aforesaid Solon:

The amount of historical ignorance among high school graduates will fill you with horror. Frequently college history is the only place where these students actually learn something (anything!) about our country. Reducing the graduation requirement from six hours to three will do nothing to remedy this....If anything, the colleges will respond by revamping their curriculae so that American history is reduced to a single-semester survey. I have trouble getting everything into two semesters; how much more will be left out for our students to guess at or be utterly misinformed? (Will we end up like California, where students aren't even required to take college-level history if they had enough of it in high school? How well is that working???) ... Our country is already short-changed on its heritage, I don't want to see it further shorted.

And lo! I received an email shortly thereafter, wherein the Wise Solon admitted his prematurity and promised to kill the bill himself (i.e., not give it a hearing). Mind you, his initial defense was that he had been prompted by the board of regents at the big state school in his home district to do this in order to speed up graduation rates among undergraduates --and this was my alma mater!

I'm going to have a bone to pick with someone....

(NB his response email was "canned", as the head of the political science department at my alma mater had gotten wind of this and had convinced him of the wrong-headedness of the proposal a while back. Still, I bet my missive was more temperate than most, yet still forceful. And no, we're not going to play Name That Party.)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

It's called "fiduciary relations"; look it up.

Washington Court: Teachers Can Have Sex With 18-Year-Old Students. One can only hope that the Washington state legislature will quickly close this loophole. Also, find out how many teaching college professors know the meaning of "fiduciary relationship," because they're obviously not teaching it to future teachers.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Huzzah! I'm CATNIP again!

10 Sexy Careers You Never Thought Of : #10 University Professors

Behold the power of intellect: Someone who wasn't even on your romantic radar suddenly becomes the target of your affection when you find out he or she is intelligent -- or at least could be. Being a professor doesn't make anyone an automatic genius, but chances are these academics have expertise in at least one field, can speak a second or third language and have ambition (seeing as they spent a hefty portion of their time earning a few degrees). Plus, if anyone can make glasses go from nerdy to sexy, they can.

The Mrs. figured this out long ago. Good thing for me.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Two Stupid Economic Propositions Likely To Be Put Forward In 2009

--assuming they're not already out there....

1) "Everyone says deflation is a problem, but the government can solve the problem by printing more money." Ask the Weimar government how well that worked. Or the Argentines. Or any one of a dozen African countries.

2) "Wait a second! Deflation is a good thing! It will be a boon for people living on fixed incomes!" Oh nelly, if this one gains ground it could mean one muthah of a policy debate. Given the increasing number of people who will be retiring and living on fixed incomes --especially government income like Social Security-- there will be a temptation to argue that deflation is a great thing. And large numbers of people will believe it. The only problem is that in a deflationary environment, government income in nominal terms should decline, while obligations remain constant. Good luck asking politicians to cut subsidies to the "we always vote, not just when our ultra-hip guy is the nominee" elderly.

--Yes, these are mutually exclusive propositions. But mark my words, they will both be put forward, and by people who actually believe in them.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Housewarming: The Wrong Kind

4:30 AM this morning: Mrs. Mojo and I hear sirens coming to our subdivision. "Hmm, it must be near-by." Mrs. got up to check on the baby and came rushing back to the bedroom. "The house across the cul-de-sac is burning down!" So I got dressed, ran outside and saw this:

Img 0034

Naturally, this turned into a block party, as everyone came outside to drink coffee and watch the events unfold.

Img 0036

"Wow, Wee One, look at the swirly flasher on the front of the snorkel truck!"

Img 0037

The snorkel truck goes to work on the fire.

Img 0038

Hmm, guess I better drag the trash cans down to the end of the street if I want my garbage picked up this morning.

Img 0039

The snorkel truck opens up a full can of WhoopAss on the fire.

Img 0040

The dreary aftermath. The back fenceline neighbor is talking to the arson investigator. At or around 2AM she said she heard glass breaking and her dog went ballistic. She reported the fire at 4:30AM when she saw flames. The house burnt quickly and evenly. It is a total loss. The house itself has been vacant for the better part of two years --in fact, over the summer it appeared on the foreclosure auction list that the county put out. One may draw what conclusions one will.