Friday, November 27, 2009

"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."

You know, this is a great line on a great show, but it has caused one relatively unimportant but irritating unintended consequence:

It taught a couple of generations of city folks that turkeys are flightless birds.

See, the thing is, turkeys can fly. That's why the domestic ones get their wing feathers clipped, I suppose--I don't know. All I know is that I can take you out to the woods and sit you down under a tree where turkeys are roosted, and when dawn comes, you'll see them fly down.

They're not always graceful, and they make an awful racket, but I promise you that turkeys can fly.

Monday, November 9, 2009

You know how I know you're a nerd?

The other day, I watched the original V miniseries on the SciFi channel (Motto: Our name used to make a lot of sense.) That's not the nerdy part.

The dashing hero was Mike Donovan, played by a tall, gruff-voiced 80's action hero. He threw giant haymakers, shot pistols by laying them across his left forearm and point shooting, and shot rifles without using the sights . . . and his acting style was a cross between Captain Kirk and MacGuyver. But that's not the nerdiest part.

I thought to myself, "Hey . . . he looks a lot like the captain in the brown leather coat from Out of Gas . . . I always wondered if I'd seen that guy somewhere before . . . . but no, they're about the same age. No way that guy stayed that young that long. So I went through the credits and found that the actor's name was Marc Singer. And even that is not the nerdiest part.

The nerdiest part was when I thought about it for a couple of minutes and then it hit me--Oh yeah! Marc Singer! He played the immortal who went crazy out in the mountains and kidnapped Tessa in that Highlander episode! Remember that guy? The one with the crazy raspy voice and the battle-ax?

If you said yes, you're a huge nerd, too. If you had to Google at any step, there's hope for you. Walk away now. It's too late for the rest of us.

UPDATE: Maybe there's hope for me yet . . . I had no idea Marc Singer was The Beastmaster until I Googled for images (by the way, I don't steal images--all the photos that come from the web are links back to the pages from which they came.)

The importantance of punctuation illustrated in ninjas

On a gun forum, tattoos were the subject of discussion recently. One member said that he liked tattoos, but in his "current career path, they represent a security risk." Inevitably, someone asked him whether he was studying to become a mall ninja.

"No, I'm not a mall . . . ninja," was his reply. I found myself trying to figure out what the ellipses were meant to convey. This is why the best writers read their work aloud early in the process . . . . hearing it spoken will alert you to mistakes, even small mistakes of emphasis, that your brain would gloss over if you were reading silently. His pause was . . . interesting. I found myself wondering where the emphasis was supposed to be, because it makes a difference. Observe:
"No, I'm not a mall ninja," he said with the cool sternness of a rottweiler contemplating a squirrel. Where did these little punks pick up this ridiculous lingo?

"No, I'm not a mall ninja," he said with the cool sternness of a rottweiler contemplating a squirrel. It was beginning to seem likely that he'd have to kill another one. Hatsumi would be displeased.

See what I'm saying? Punctuation, kids. Emphasis. Learn it, love it, live it.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Hey, U.S. Army: carry your guns, people.

I'm dead serious. I'm aware that the Army figures that it's made up largely of teenaged idiots who would shoot each other on a dare, but look--security is an issue. And although there are questionable people in any military, we don't have a conscript force who are going to shoot their Commissars in the backskyis.

Do soldiers matter, or do they not?

Why even ask Roland Burris that question?

I can see a tree and a concrete parking barrier right behind him, and either of them could have explained it better. Don't be lazy, reporter guy.

So Roland Burris says the Constitution contains a clause empowering Congress to "provide for" the health of American citizens. Turns out he was thinking of the preamble to the Constitution, which A) Doesn't say that, and B) is a preamble.

Seriously, children and politicians everywhere, I realize that the preamble to the U.S. Constitution says the words ". . . promote the general welfare . . ." But the thing is, those ellipses aren't just random, they kind of matter. Specifically, the ones right before the phrase that justifies a huge amount of our federal government stand in for the words "in order to," among others. They were never meant to bestow any power upon any part of the federal government. That is done very explicitly later on in the clauses designed for the purpose. All the preamble says about the general welfare is that it's one reason for the powers and limitations that will be created in the main body of the document.
To say that the powers and limitations put on Congress in Article One (By the Beard of Odin's Manservant, it's right there on the same page, people) are irrelevant because of the clause that was only supposed to explain why those powers and limitations are there in the first place is perverse.

And here's what the Roland Burrises of the world may genuinely not understand: when the preamble says that the Constitution is ordained in order to accomplish some objective, such as promoting the general welfare, it means that the limits on federal powers contained in the Constitution were conceived for that purpose just as much as any of the powers. The Constitution is a document of strict limits on the federal government for a reason. If nothing else, it should worry us that we're using laws that were intended to limit federal power as our excuse to remove all limits on federal power. When you use Super Glue as a solvent, bad things happen.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

"Sniper no sniping, sniper no sniping!"

"Aw, maaaan!"
I think I've been home with the baby too long. He doesn't even bat an eye when I have slips like that . . . . .

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Gun Nuts Under Siege . . . .

Victim selection continues to be a glaring weakness for thugs in the midwest.

You have no doubt read repeatedly by now of the misunderstood youth with limited economic options who tried to self-realize and redistribute Ahab's wealth in a more equitable manner, only to be met with a face full of hot coffee and the wrong end of a Beretta.

Recently I learned that a good friend from central Illinois was the target of a home-invasion robbery. Details are scant because there's an investigation ongoing, but at least two thugs tried to break into his house in the middle of the night. When trickery failed (as trickery often fails the stupid) they tried to resort to force. He trumped their attempts with superior armament and good planning, and by the time the police arrived they were in disarray. One escaped, one captured, no one shot. It's assumed that he was targeted at random, because believe me, if they'd known who they were trying to rob, they'd have stayed home that night.

Sorry to be so sketchy with details, but when he's at liberty to talk about the case we'll know everything. He's not exactly the shy retiring type. What I notice most about these cases is the lack of gunshot wounds. What's up with that? The Brady Campaign would have you believe that anyone who practices shooting as much as Ahab does, or advocates for gun owners as strenuously as my friend does (Illinois Governor George Ryan used to have him arrested fairly regularly) has been waiting all his life for an excuse to shoot someone--an excuse as good as "he had a knife!" or "I told him to leave, and he tried to break the door in!" Legally, either man could have shot his assailant and gotten away with it. So why didn't they?
Because it's not about the fun and excitement of killing people. It's about the willingness to go through the ordeal of shooting someone if that's what it takes to keep yourself and other innocents safe.