Thursday, November 29, 2007

That's Not What 911 Is For, Kiddo


Very often, I think I've had a long, hard day until I talk to my wife. Then I find out that SHE has had a hard day.

Take today, for instance.

Work was of course hectic and exhausting. She's understaffed and doing the work of several people. No surprise there; that's what she's famous for. That's why they pay her the big . . . well, anyway, that's normal.

Her first inkling that today would be worse than usual was when she picked up the baby and pulled out in front of the babysitter's house to wait for the boys' school bus to arrive. It did not arrive. She waited some more, and then yet more, and still there was no cheerful yellow bus growling along the street to spill happy pups into her lap. That can't be good, right?
While she waited, she called the school. She called every school number she had, but nobody was there to answer any of the phones. She began to worry. She left the babysitter's house and headed back to ours.
We live a few miles from the babysitter's house, but only about 5-10 minutes' walk from the school. The boys could actually walk to school every day, if only we could trust them alone in the house for an hour after I left for school each morning. But we have the Hyena rule in my house; if I wouldn't trust two wild Hyenas to do something alone, then there's no way I can trust those boys to do it, either, and for similar reasons.

So mama bear pulled into the driveway to find, to her relief, Kane standing in the driveway. With the telephone.
"Here, mom," he said mildly as he held the phone out to her, "This lady wants to talk to you." Still processing, she took the phone and put it to her ear while asking him where his brother was.

"Ma'am, this is Macoupin County 911, we're calling back because we had a hangup from this number. What is your name and address?"

The boys had signed up to help set up band stands after school. Apparently they did mention it to mama bear before I got home from meetings last night, but it must have been en passant. Since they were staying late, they couldn't ride the bus, so they needed mom to pick them up from school. I don't get out of school early enough to do that, but she does--IF she knows she's supposed to do it! Technically, she's allowed to leave school that early, but it means she doesn't have time to set up the room for the next day.
In any case, the boys found themselves standing around the empty school yard and increasingly concerned that mom might not be coming. They had no phone, something we're rethinking now, but they say they didn't know our cell numbers anyway. So they did the logical thing; they set off to walk home. Ten minutes later they were at our house, which is not bad when you consider that they had to walk past the park with the biggest playground and a skate park to get here. But when they got home, there were still no parents in sight. This was perplexing and unusual; what to do?

Kane decided that the simplest solution was to call 911 and report that his parents were missing. He inquired as to whether we had been involved in car accidents. When the nice lady said something about an emergency line, he panicked and hung up on her. Problem solved!
When the 911 lady called back, he was beginning to think he might be in trouble, but then MOM pulled into the drive and it became clear what must be done: let mom handle it!
(He's watched me for years and obviously learned my approach to problem solving.)

In the end, we all got the chance to be scared with no permanent harm done. The boys now have their little cards with every phone number they could ever need. They know they have permission to walk home if anything like this ever happens again, and their bus driver will no longer allow them to skip riding the bus home unless they have a signed note from us. I actually think they handled this incident pretty well aside from the 911 call. Momma's beating herself up, but I'd pay good money for a recording of the conversation where they claim they "told her all about" staying after school and asked for a ride. They certainly could be telling the truth, but, you know, fool me 1,000 times, shame on me, amirite?

Bleg: Pick My Video Card

Awhile back, I mentioned that I need a new computer.

Then Tigerdirect had a pretty good sale the weekend after Thanksgiving. They called it "Pink Friday." YOu didn't have to spend the night in the freezing cold with stupid people on a sidewalk, which I like, and they gave $100,000 to the Susan G. Komen foundation to kill breast cancer, which is good, too.

Plus, they sold this barebone kit with case, motherboard, a gig of ram on one stick, and an Athlon 64 3500--for $100 after a rebate. One hundred dollars. Plus, the processor and motherboard use the AM2 socket, so if I ever need to upgrade to one of the dual-core X2 Athlons, I can drop it in.

This seemed like a great deal to me, so I picked it up and threw a processor cooler in too. I've got a 160GB hard drive just sitting around unused, and I've got a fast DVD burner sitting in an external case that never gets used, either. That leaves a few sundries more or less, depending on whether I scavenge from my current machine. It's outmoded, but it still works.

The main reason for upgrading to the new machine is to edit home video and burn DVD discs that I can send off to grandparents. I want to be able to create reasonably nice videos, and I want to be able to burn them to a DVD format that will play in most standard DVD players.

What video card and what software do I need, here? I'd like to keep things cheap on the video card, but I want good performance. I don't play games, so video editing is my only concern. I was thinking something like a GeForce 8500 Ultra Silent (just because it's under $100 and I want something quiet.) I don't know anything at all about video processors or what I should be looking for. I think I want PCI-Express and lots of video RAM, right?

As far as software goes, I just want it to be dummy-proof. I don't need to do anything fancy, just add a title here and there, maybe music, and edit things right.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Governor Rod Blagojevich Is Still a Jackass

"JCAR's role is merely advisory - it does not have the constitutional authority to suspend the regulation," Abby Ottenhoff said in an e-mail.
Right. Which is why your guy spent millions of taxpayer dollars trying to bribe them--because they don't matter? It is to laugh.

OK, let's see if I can explain this without rambling. Remember when Rod Blagojevich decided he was going to put the hurt on all the Illinois legislators who pissed him off? And so he cut all their earmarked projects out of the state budget, calling it $500 million worth of "pork?" You have to keep in mind that Illinois hasn't had a capital spending plan for years, so all the stuff your state government probably spends money on, like roads, bridges, and schools, really only gets funded in our budgets through these earmarks. We're not talking about legislators building memorials to themselves or the International Museum of Allergies.

Anyway, Blagojevich thought he would kill two birds with one stone. See, while he wanted to punish and hurt most legislators, especially the House members from his own party, there were a few legislators he knew he needed. These were the members of JCAR, the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules. You see, Blago wanted to implement a radical state health-care plan designed to cover everybody in Illinois. While that's a nice thought, the legislature was swayed by the fact that we've been running billions in deficits in Illinois and are teetering on the brink of ruin. Apparently, imminent bankruptcy is all the excuse they needed not to spend huge amounts of money they don't have. Quitters!
That being the case, they refused to implement the Governor's plan, and they even had the gall to refuse (by a vote of 107 to ZERO) to implement the massive value-added-tax scheme he'd counted on to pay for it all by multiplying our taxes. These people aren't exactly heroes, mind you, but they can count votes, and they know what an angry phone call means. They told Blago to sod off. His one big hope was that he'd be able to implement the plan anyway by using the money he'd cut from the "pork projects" to pay for it.
The only problem is that he doesn't have the power to do that under the state constitution, but Blago doesn't let details distract him from the big picture. He just needed JCAR to look the other way and declare that his unconstitutional actions were constitutional, and he'd be home free. The feds do it all the time with the Supreme Court, so how hard can it be?

Well, to that end, he put all the funding for the "pork" projects belonging to members of JCAR back into the budget. It was a bald attempt to curry favor with absolutely no guile or apology. He was so open about it that he actually approved the funding for JCAR member projects that couldn't go forward without the funding he'd vetoed for another legislator; the most famous example was the "half-a-bridge" in St. Charles.

All was somewhat quiet on this front until last week, when JCAR met. They considered Blago's case and decided that since what he wanted to do was unconstitutional, he wouldn't be allowed to do it.
Now, at this point, Blago has actually failed to bribe Illinois politicians. That's like going to the petting zoo and finding that the geese and the goats don't want the feed you just bought out of the machine. People have been feeding these animals pellets for decades, but they just turn their noses up at you. How is it even possible?

Blagojevich fell back on what he knows: schoolyard taunts.
"Governor, your plan is unconstitutional. You don't have the power to take money from . . ."
"Nuh-uh! You're unconstitutional!"
"Yes, but . . . wait, what?"
"You heard me! Unconstitutional! Your whole committee is unconstitutional, so you can't even tell me that what I'm doing is unconstitutional! You're unconstitutional more! You're unconstitutional first! All your decisions are null and void, so I can go ahead and do whatever I want! I'm the boss! Me! Boss! See? Boss!"
"Is there . . . . is there someone else we could talk to, Governor?"

Governor Rod Blagojevich Is Equal to FAIL

I have to go to work (where Blogspot is banned, thank whatever, so I sometimes get work done) and I just don't have time to explain what Governor Rod Blagojevich has done now. Suffice it to say that this guy is literally too dumb to bribe Illinois politicians. I'll let that sink in and maybe I can explain it tonight for those of you from outside Illinois.

Klutzo's Autopsy Holds No Surprises

So, they did the autopsy on the evil clown who died in Sangamon County Jail the other day, and to my complete lack of surprise it turns out that he had a "pre-existing heart condition." I'm guessing that this must be the same heart problem that was mentioned to the public when he was arrested--the same one causing the classing cardiac symptoms before he was hit with a Taser. Of course, the local media is still playing this as a story about whether the Taser is a lethal weapon or not, and local idiots are calling the radio station as fast as they can dial to proclaim that the deputies should have just locked the cell door and left him in there until he calmed down (this while he was showing signs of cardiac troubles capable of ruining his whole day!) Maybe they Tased him too quickly. I don't pretend to know that. But what I don't believe is that a guy with heart problems should be able to jump into a brawl with multiple young cops and expect that his heart will hold up to the strain.

The best part of the morning TeeVee news report today was their attempt to sound somewhat unbiased while giving Amnesty International airtime for their "study" that purported to "prove" that Tasers are deadly weapons. "The study is not scientific, but Amnesty International says that they have gathered cases in which people died after being shocked with the devices."

Oh, well then. A "not scientific" study of anecdotes, that assumes that correlation is causation? Why didn't you say so in the first place? I'm TOTALLY on board with you now. Let's go back to shooting people and beating them with sticks right away before someone gets hurt!

Monday, November 19, 2007

In Other News: Robyn Ringler Still Irrelevant

You know, when Robyn Ringler started deleting comments, then announced that she wouldn't accept comments anymore because gun owners are just too mean for "reasoned discourse," some of us just failed to get the message. A few of us even persisted in being mean (defined here as pointing out what Robyn said and giving our opinion of her thoughts.) I joked at the time that Robyn was taking her ball and going home.

Today I checked back in with Robyn when I logged in with my wife's laptop and noticed that Robyn's RSS feed is still there. You will share my amazement that she hasn't posted anything since the lame joke she put there in September when she told everyone to sod off:

To those of you wondering—yes, I did write the blurb under my photograph. Sorry I told you. I just couldn’t let some poor innocent hack take the blame! As you continue to read my blog, you’ll just have to decide whether I could really be so arrogant or whether there just might be a small possibility that I have a wonderful sense of humor!

But, Robyn, what if I can tell you're joking and I still see no evidence of a sense of humor?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Le Clown Est Mort.

It is with the heaviest of hearts that I bring you sad, sad tidings:

Klutzo the Klown, the man who brought terror and disgust to children from Illinois to the Philippines, is dead.

Yes, yes, I know, it's terrible news. And it is certainly [i]not[/i] funny. I'm talking to you, Lawdog. Wipe that smirk off your face.

Even worse is that this misunderstood man died after being shocked with a TASER by minions of the state just because he was fighting them. Can you imagine such a thing? Amnesty International is apparently not happy about such shenanigans and goings-on. You have to hand it to these people--it's not easy being the pro-clown-child-molestation lobby, but I guess they figured that if they didn't do it, who would?

All joking aside, the rest of us are less concerned. This is the second time Klutzo has had to be restrained because he was fighting the deputies in the jail. They don't get paid enough to put up with his nonsense. I don't know what Amnesty International expected the deputies to do (the guy HAD to be put into the chair, because he was having medical issues and had to be transported to the local hospital. EMS response was apparently pretty prompt, because the ambulance was already en route to transport him to the hospital--and they were called and told to respond signal one when Klutzo's distress became clear.
Just to make it clear, I don't think you can say honestly that the deputies killed this guy by tasing him on his leg. Is it possible? Maybe. Could he have gotten asphyxiated positionally or something? Could be, certainly, but nobody seems to be suggesting that at this point. What we do know is that this guy was not in good health and probably wasn't in shape to be struggling with a mob of cops. But then, that was his choice, wasn't it? Somebody out there is apparently making a big deal out of the fact that the deputy with the TASER said in the report that he fired the TASER into Klutzo's leg, while information "downloaded from the TASER" indicated that it was pushed into the leg and used in the hand like a traditional stun gun. I confess I don't see the significance; as far as I know, the effect on the body should have been exactly the same either way. The voltage is the same, the amperage is the same, and I believe the duration is the same, so why does it matter where the unit was? Since no one is alleging that he wasn't tased in the leg, I'd guess that the marks from the probes bear that part out. I don't know why the deputy would say he was further back if he wasn't, of course, unless it was a simple mistake. What would he have to gain by lying about that?

For now, I'm not shedding any tears. Clowns deserve to be tased, and child molesters deserve death. Klutzo made his choices in life, and the consequences came, just like they always do sooner or later.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

A Place for Everything, and Everything In Its Place

Our beloved former Governor, His Gubernatorial Highness King George Ryan, is finally in his place.

His place, it nearly goes without saying, is in federal prison with the rest of the felons. Schadenfreude is a terrible thing, it is true, but is it as terrible as knowing that you have committed a whole bunch of crimes and gotten some good people killed in the process?
Well, George says he may be going to prison after being convicted of racketeering by a jury of his peers, "but my conscience is clear." In other words, he claims to feel no remorse. Well, whatever. You don't have to feel sorry as long as you have to do your time, big man.