Thursday, November 29, 2007

They're so stupid

I'd like y'all to meet Joe Critter. Don't mind the vacant look in his eyes -- we're not sure if that's normal, or a result of his ... ahem ... arrest.

A couple of days ago, Joe here (being, well, a critter) decided to improve his financial lot in life by relieving a local construction contractor of a ... thingummy. It was a very nice thingummy, as thingummies go, with 18 volt batteries and whole bunch of attachable wozzits and even a couple of doohickies.

Joe attempted to resell his acquired thingummy, but -- unfortunately -- the previous (rightful) owner had etched his name and the name of his company rather flamboyantly upon the side of the thingummy. All of the local item redistributing/financial centres thereabouts know the gentleman whose name was so clearly attached to the afore-mentioned thingummy, and none of them were dumb enough to glom onto the thingummy.

Finally, pushed to the brink of desperation, Joe was cruising the main street and noticed an extremely large diesel pick-up truck with a familiar name emblazoned on the side parked at a local fast-food eatery. The same name, as a matter-of-fact, as the one etched into the side of the thingummy.

Joe ponders for a while and comes up with a plan so cunning, so brilliant, so Machiavellian, as to defy description by lesser minds.

In furtherance of this fiendishly clever plot, Joe parked his 1980-something Subaru Justy punkmobile beside the diesel truck, then leaned upon the horn until such time as he attracted the attention of the construction crew inside.

Once he had their attention, he drew them outside by the wicked tactic of waving frantically from the inside of the Justy. One should point out at this time that Young Joe was smart enough to keep the car in 'REVERSE' in case Murphy should frown upon his crafty machinations.

Foot pressed firmly upon the clutch, Joe waved the thingummy at the construction crew and announced that said thingummy had fallen from the truck some streets back, and for the paltry sum of one hundred dollars American, he'd relinquish possession.

Cunning, wot?

The Head Sasquatch of the construction crew contemplated this generous offer for a moment, then delicately opined that it would be difficult for the thingummy to have just fallen off the truck, considering that it had been stolen from a construction site two days previous.

Joe, no fool he, immediately realized that the game was twigged, and being the debonair gangsta, he made sure to give the gorilla pack a good look at his extended social digit before popping his foot off the clutch.

I would imagine the sounds of the local police dispatch number being dialled into a cell-phone right outside of the drivers side door probably clued him into the fact that Things Weren't Quite Right.

Or maybe it was the gold-toothed grin belonging to the shaved yeti holding the front end of the Justy (and coincidentally enough, the rapidly-spinning front tyres) up off of the parking lot.


Now, a lesser man would have simply folded like a paper hat. Maybe even grovelled a bit, to appeal to the soft, gentle side of the WWE rejects surrounding his ride.

Not our Joe, though. Nope. Our Joe is tough man, street tough. He don't take no [deleted] from citizens. No, sir! Our Joe quickly demonstrated that the proper way to treat such disrespect is to roll up both windows, engage both door-locks and make gang signs and obscene gestures at the foolish wage-slaves, while simultaneously shrieking threats towards those responsible for such outrageous conduct!

Of course, as anyone knows, being threatened with Gang Violence should be responded to by retreating and abject apologies.

Only complete and total savages would don a full-face helmet, fire up a Husqvarna hydraulic saw and commence to convertible-ize the Subaru -- free of charge. An act which was apparently met with lusty cheers and shouted recommendations -- some of which were Not Politically Correct -- from the rest of the cafe patrons.

*scratch, scratch*

Ripping both doors off -- by hand -- was a nice touch, I think.

Anyhoo, responding officers report that Joe was found sitting
very still in the drivers seat, and detectives announced that they cleared seven burglary cases before they could get him to stop confessing.



Wednesday, November 28, 2007



4 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon of cardamom seeds
10 cloves
1 large piece of ginger
1 half lemon
2 cups vodka

Break your cinnamon sticks and crack your cardamom seeds; toss 'em into a jug. Give the piece of ginger root a good couple of whacks, zest the lemon half and pop 'em both into the jug; take the rest of the spices and throw them in there, too. Pour in the vodka, cover and leave overnight.

The next day, take:

1 bottle of red wine
1/2 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Mix the wine, sugar and vanilla in a saucepan.

Strain the vodka, and discard the spices. Add the spiced vodka to the saucepan and heat just until it begins to steam -- any warmer and you'll start evaporating your alcohol.

Voila! LawDog's Bathtub Glögg!

(You may want to add sugar to taste.)


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Abby ... Normal?

In light of the spectacular success of the Pink Flamingo Christmas Tree of last year, we here at Rancho LawDog have decided to go with a more traditional approach this year:Don't look at me like that -- Christmas Dragons have to be traditional somewhere.

And yes, Mom found matching tree lights:For the more faint-of-heart, we have located *gack* cute dragons:"Normal". Hah! I spit upon your normal! Ptui!


Sunday, November 25, 2007

[Deleted]! [Deleted]! [Deleted]!

So ... there I was.

Watching Terry Prachett's
Hogfather on the TeeVee, and just as Susan (Death's Granddaughter) and Bilious (The God of Hangovers) head off on Binky (Death's horse) ...

... the picture went right down the khazi.


Something DirectTeeVee neglects to mention in their ads is that if you have heavy cloud-cover, the signal tends to, shall we say --
break up -- on it's way to your dish.

Since it is, as I type, snowing, it's safe to say that we've got heavy cloud-cover.


Great. Just great. And I was so enjoying that movie, too.

A quick run around the Intarwebz reveals that a
Hogfather DVD is available. In England. In the PAL/SECAM format.

Since American TeeVees run on the NTSC format, this doesn't perzackly help me any.

Bugger 'em all.



Thursday, November 22, 2007


Apparently some scum-sucking invertebrate decided to hack the Skywritings blog.

Scully, the author over there, decided to go ahead and shut down, rather than go to the effort of retrieving all of her prose and poetry that was cacked.

This got me to thinking -- usually a Bad Thing.

I don't have any of this saved, except betwixt Ye Olde Ears. Methinks I might ought to do something about that.

Bearing in mind that my computer-ical and internet-ish knowledge compares favourably to that of a Neandertal, anyone got any advice for saving this stuff?

Bear in mind, if you please, that any instruction needs to be along the lines of:

"1)Offer box of KFC Crispy to Magic Box Elves.

2)Mash yellow button.

3)Sit on hands until pretty blinking lights stop."


Happy Thanksgiving.

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"For food that stays our hunger,
For rest that brings us ease,
For homes where memories linger,
We give our thanks for these."

Happy Turkey Day, everyone!


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Suggested Beowulf

"Do you know about any good recorded reading (or should I say storytelling?) of Beowulf? If so, could you point me to the source?"

karla (threadbndr):
"I'm like Uke - any source for an audio book reading done right?"

Ky Person:
"I'd love to hear Beowulf read by someone who knows what he's doing."

All righty, then.

I'm kind of hesitant to suggest this -- for a number of reasons. The gentleman reciting Beowulf is doing so in the original language.

To me, being familiar with the story, this is fantastic. I am afraid, though, that folks who aren't familiar with Beowulf are going to hear a language they don't quite understand, and will give up watching and listening -- maybe to give up on the story altogether. Which would be a tragedy.

The DVD has an English subtitle option, however, so all may not be lost.

This version of the saga ends too soon. It finishes after the defeat of Grendel's mother -- which, to be fair, is the popular ending. To the best of my knowledge, the gentleman has not done a complete telling of the tale -- something I hope he chooses to attend to in the future.


The gentleman's name is Benjamin Bagby, and he recites Beowulf the way it was meant to be done -- in Old English, with proper flair, and accompanied by a harp when required.

Here is the opening of the saga:

Mr. Bagby's rendition of Beowulf is available from his web-site, or from popular on-line sellers.

I suggest viewing the DVD at night, with the lights off or down low for proper effect.


Monday, November 19, 2007


The current Internet story of the day involves Joe Horn.

For those Gentle Readers who may be living under a staircase somewhere, Mr. Horn is the South Texas gentleman who discovered two men breaking into his neighbors house.

He then dialled 911 and had a conversation with the dispatcher in which he told the dispatcher some stuff he probably shouldn't have, before going outside and killing both men.

Now, I'm not going to get into whether Mr. Horn was justified or not in taking those men's lives -- this is Texas, and a Grand Jury of twelve good men and true will determine if Mr. Horn was justified or not.

No, what I am interested in is that during his conversation with Mr. Horn, the dispatcher told Mr. Horn that killing those men "wasn't worth it".

Some folks on the Internet have a bit of a problem with that. There's some thought that this wasn't the dispatchers business.

You know, near as I can tell the only person who has a right to say if it was the dispatchers business to beg Mr. Horn not to go outside ... is Mr. Horn.

Mr. Horn's lawyer and his family state that he "is crushed". The New Black Panther Party and the Millions More Movement are protesting outside of his house. Mr Horn's face is on the TeeVee and in newspapers around the world, where people Mr. Horn doesn't know -- and will never meet -- are calling Mr. Horn a murderer and demanding his arrest.

The local Houston paper reports that their poll finds that 60% of their readers feel Mr. Horn was justified in his killing of the two men.

Sounds good, yes?

60% means that 40% think Mr. Horn wasn't justified.

Two out of every five people he meets think that he is a murderer -- and that's a lot of people. That amount of ill-will can weigh on a man's mind.

Killing another human being is the ultimate taboo. To take the life of some mother's son leaves a stain -- no matter how small -- on your soul.

And everyone -- no matter how foul a critter -- was, at some time, some mothers baby. Don't think that this seemingly irrelevant fact won't jump up and steal your breath in the long hours spent wrestling with your conscience afterwards.

The guilt and self-doubt that can plague a man for even the most justified of killings can be overwhelming.

It is possible -- even likely -- that a man who has been forced to take a life in the most justified of circumstances; circumstances such that no one can find fault in his decision -- it is possible for that man to be wracked by guilt and self-doubt regarding his actions; it is possible for him to spend the darkest hours of the nights torturing his soul with
'What I Could Have Done Differently' questions.

Unfortunately for Mr. Horn, his shooting wasn't so clean. There is some doubt as to his justification; nearly half the people who have heard of this event are finding fault and are naming him 'murderer'.

No matter how stoic you are, each whisper of 'murderer' will lodge itself in your psyche.

Mr. Horn is going to be bombarded with the grief of the dead men's loved ones. False or not, that grief and those tears are all over the TeeVee, and false or not, each tear becomes a burden, if only a tiny one.

Some of the people who believe that Mr. Horn wasn't justified in his actions are going to uncork their vitriol and their loathing for Mr. Horn through phone calls, speech, and the printed word.

His own conscience is liable to replay the faces of those dead men at three in the morning.

Seeing as how these men were minorities, the powerful minority lobbies and national civil rights organizations will probably supply the funding and the lawyers for any resulting Federal lawsuit.

Against these lobbies and these organizations, Mr. Horn will have ... his retirement? Donations from family, friends and strangers?


Whether Mr. Horn was justified in his actions, or not, will be decided by a Grand Jury.

Whether the dispatcher was justified in advising Mr. Horn not to proceed -- is up to Mr. Horn.

And I think his answer today, or next month, or next year might be different than his answer on that fateful day.


Friday, November 16, 2007

Come home.

A week or so ago, I linked to a Michael Yon picture and short article about a Christian church in Baghdad.

Today, Michael posts a follow-up to that story.

Shlemon Warduni, an auxiliary bishop for the Catholic Diocese, performed the first Mass held at that church since it was shut down.

From the article:
Today, Muslims mostly filled the front pews of St John’s. Muslims who want their Christian friends and neighbors to come home. The Christians who might see these photos likely will recognize their friends here. The Muslims in this neighborhood worry that other people will take the homes of their Christian neighbors, and that the Christians will never come back. And so they came to St John’s today in force, and they showed their faces, and they said, “Come back to Iraq. Come home.” They wanted the cameras to catch it. They wanted to spread the word: Come home. Muslims keep telling me to get it on the news. “Tell the Christians to come home to their country Iraq.”

Come home.

Are there any two words in any language that hold more hope, more comfort, than 'come home'?


Thursday, November 15, 2007


By way of La Femme, I am delighted to discover a quiz which purports to inform you as to which Discworld character you most resemble.

Various Gentle Readers have made statements to this effect regarding your Humble Scribe, so I felt it my duty to confirm or deny certain suspicions:

Which Discworld Character are you like (with pics)
created with
You scored as Commander Samuel Vimes

You are Samuel Vimes! Captain of Ankh-Morpork’s city Watch! You are a knight, married to the very wealthy, noble lady Sybil Ramkin. You often walk the streets at night, and are able to tell where you are by the feel of the cobbles under your boots. You always do what is right – that is, what needs to be done – to keep the city safe, even when it seems bad.

Commander Samuel Vimes


Esmerelda (Granny) Weatherwax


Carrot Ironfounderson






Lord Havelock Vetinari


Gytha (Nanny) Ogg


The Librarian


Cohen The Barbarian




Huh. I always figured myself for Fred Colon, actually.



This damned song has been stuck in my head for three days. I heard a short clip of the violins coming from the TeeVee room, and it was ear-worm time.

I've been chasing people around the office, humming the violin part and trying to find the name of the tune.

And, maybe I was getting a little intense ... but it was driving me nuts.

Anyhoo, this evening, after three hours of intense Tafiti-fu, I found it.

Lux Æterna, by Clint Mansell.



Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Nowell Codex

The Nowell Codex is a manuscript of old Britannia dating from the first millennium A.D. -- before the Norman invasion and conquest of England in 1066.

This manuscript contains several pieces: a telling of the life of Saint Christopher; a description of foreign lands and even more foreign animals; a copy of a letter from Alexander to Aristotle; and a poetic translation of the Book of Judith.

What makes it famous is an untitled epic poem from the 8th century which tells the story of a Geatish hero and his slaying of a monster, the mother of the monster and a dragon.

This epic saga is, of course, the story of Beowulf.

Beowulf was originally strictly an oral story, probably told to the sound of harp music. Read from paper, the story of Beowulf is odd and confusing -- most people don't finish the saga.

Recited out loud, by someone who is not only familiar and fond of the story, but well-versed in the tricks of the story-tellers art, Beowulf is thrilling, mournful, haunting, gripping and everything in-between.

I see that Hollywood has taken another hack at this ancient saga. Half of me really, really wants to go see this movie.

The other half of me is terrified that Hollywood is going to turn one of the earliest and finest examples of Western literature into unwatchable screaming drek.


I'm probably going to go see it, but I swear I'm going to be packing a horsewhip and a trout. If that same pompous, illiterate, hack poseur Philistine shows up and kvetches about the "simplistic plot", "lack of personal growth" or even mentions the words "interpersonal dynamics of the main characters" during this movie like he did for 'Troy', I'm going to beat him to death right there in the peanut gallery.


That's two ...

By way of Larry Correia we discover that STI International has decided that it will no longer sell guns in California.

Previous to this, Ronnie Barrett, of Barrett Firearms Company announced that he would no longer sell any of his rifles to California government agencies, nor would he service the rifles currently held by California agencies.

Now, I realize that STI and Barrett are both niche firearm companies. There simply aren't all that many L.E. agencies in California who are going to be buying one of the big .50's from Barrett, and I seriously doubt if many agencies in California Nerf-land will authorize the carry of a cocked-and-locked STI m1911 clone.

No, I imagine that any reaction from the California gummint is along the lines of: "Goody-goody gum drops! That means fewer guns in our Bubble-Wrap Utopia!"

However, this development gives me a faint hope that one or more of the big suppliers for law enforcement agencies -- Glock, SIG-Sauer, Smith & Wesson -- will follow along and refuse to sell or service California government agencies.

A long shot, I admit. But the State of California has been dancing with the gun-control devil for too long unscorched. It's time for them to start feeling the burn.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Hey, I lived!

Sorry to be away for so long, but whatthehellever I caught started off in my sinuses, trampolined off my gut, and stuck the landing in my lungs.

Nasty crud.

Anyhoo, I notice that I've got some e-mail regarding a post over at AD's place.

On Oct 29, AD sent me an e-mail telling me that my buddy MattG had suggested that I'd be an "ideal collaborator" on one of AD's "Perspectives" stories, and AD wanted to know if I'd be interested.

Hell, yes. And honoured to boot. Thank you, gentlemen,

Fortunately, AD caught me in a creative mood, and I punted three stories his way for consideration that evening -- before the North Texas Green Mung virus caught up with me.

Apparently, one of them was good enough, and we're a go.

Have patience, though. Creative types like AD are delicate flowers, and if you stress them they go all emo on you -- and when
that happens they're just impossible to work with*.


*Oh, I'm going to catch hell for that one. :-)

Veterans Day


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Okay, one more thing ...

Photographs, as the old saying goes, are worth a thousand words.

This photo by Michael Yon is a powerful, powerful thing. The short article underneath, while helpful, doesn't have the sheer visceral impact of the photo.

If the Universe is just, this photo -- and Michael Yon -- will become as iconic as others have throughout the decades.


Troll Filter

By way of Gentle Reader Shane, we discover that the Internet boffins are attempting to invent a filter similar to a spam blocker, but aimed at Internet trolls.

Having been a staff member at a couple of on-line forums who prided themselves on their civility, I can say with some feeling: about bloody time. Sort of.

I am all for a troll filter -- with two caveats.

1) It has to be voluntary. I have no problem with Joe Private downloading a troll filter for his bulletin board, or if A Mega Corp installs a troll filter on their homepage.

do have a problem with folks insisting that the government start mandating this kind of thing (no doubt "for the good of the children"). Private, voluntary use -- excellent! Government mandated use -- sod off, do.

2) It has to be accurate. Any troll filter needs to be certain that it is, indeed, filtering out the cyber-chaff, and not the wheat. And Goddess only knows that every time you think you've made something stupid-proof, the Universe comes up with Stupid, MkII, Improved.

To this end, the people working on this thing are encouraging the public to help them in de-bugging the software -- very, very cool idea.

If you want to help these guys put together a troll filter, go to their homepage at and click on "How you can help".

And since I feel like five pounds of Alpo stuffed into a three-pound sack, I'm going to take my fever-ridden butt back to bed.



Monday, November 05, 2007

In lieu of actually thinking ...

One tends to believe that it might be a good idea to go remind the Pakistani police that Shakespeare's play 'The Second Part of King Henry the Sixth'* is allegory, rather than wishful thinking. Please stop beating the lawyers -- some folks over here are getting ideas, and drool is damned hard to mop up.


In other news, we notice that a 25-year-old teacher, formerly working in Nebraska, apparently decided that she wanted icing on her criminal cake: not only was the boy a mere 13 years old, but he was also an illegal immigrant. And for the trifecta, it seems that the (gold) star-crossed lovers decided to flee to Mexico.

My whole, complete and entire view of that sordid little situation can be summed up quite nicely in the following conversation:

Co-Worker: "You got to admit, part of you thinks that kid is a stud."

LawDog: "Really."

CW: "Ya, he's really a bit lucky."

LD: "You've got a daughter in sixth grade, don't you?"

CW: "Yeah, why?"

LD: "So, when the football coach takes her to Canada for some wild and kinky chandelier sex ..."

CW: "I'd kill that mother-[deleted]!"

LD: "And you don't see the irony there, do you?"


We are also informed that convicted murderer and flamboyant bounty-hunter Duane "Dog" Chapman is in hot water over a taped phone conversation with his son in which Mr. Chapman used racial epithets and rather unflattering language to describe the girlfriend of the son.

Welcome to a sharp, sharp lesson in the free market, Duane.

While we here at Rancho LawDog figure Duane Chapman is getting everything he deserved, we can't help but also point out that if Mr. Chapman had chanted his end of the phone conversation over a heavy bass beat and record scratching -- he'd probably wind up being nominated for a Grammy Award in the Rap Category.

The latest news story says that the son with whom Mr. Chapman was having the phone conversation sold the recording of the conversation to a tabloid for fifteen thousand US dollars. The story goes on to say that there's "still some friction" betwixt Mr. Chapman and the son.

No! Really? Who'd'a thunk it?


In other news, it seems that the Hollywood Screenwriters Union has called a strike. The aether is ablaze with dire predictions of no new TeeVee shows until the strike is resolved.

*blink, blink*

First off, we didn't realize that a lot of today's programmes actually
had writing. We were under the impression -- from the quality, you understand -- that the actors were pretty much ad-libbing the whole thing; and secondly:

No new TeeVee shows is bad news ... why?


Ugh. I'm for bed. See y'all later.


Act IV, Scene II: "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers".


I don't know why I bother getting a 'flu shot -- it doesn't seem to make the least bit of difference.

First day of work, I wake up this morning and it feels like my eyeballs are packed in sand. Hot sand.

This evening the headache and the fever hit -- along with the clogged sinuses.



Thursday, November 01, 2007

Oh. My. Gawd.

By way of National Review On-Line we get the above video.

Oh. My. Gawd.

It is, near as I can tell, genuine and un-faked. If anyone has any proof otherwise, please let me know.

I have always known the Brit military as scrappy chaps, but this -- this raises the bar.

Well done, gentlemen!


Meditations on the First Amendment

Well, Fred Phelps and his gaggle of catamites took a nasty hit in Federal court today.

Almost $12 million in hits, to be exact.

As amusing and gratifying as that is, there are a surprising number of folks protesting the verdict on First Amendment grounds.


One more time from the top, ladies and gentlemen:

"The First Amendment

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

The Federal Governments only role in this trial was as arbitrator between two private parties -- as it should be.

Was the plaintiff in this case -- the grieving father -- was he actually Congress? Did the Federal Government actually file suit? Provide the finances to sue? Have anything to do with the lawsuit
other than to arbitrate?


Then how does the First Amendment -- like the other original ten amendments a check to government power-grabbing -- how does the First Amendment restriction against the government abridging the freedom of speech apply in a private dispute between two private citizens?

When you say that the decision in this case violates Fred Phelp's First Amendment rights, you are saying:

"That private citizen can't sue that other private citizen because Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech"

*blink, blink*

Read that again.

Whole bunch of people (myself among them) consider that the expansion of certain Constitutional issues to be one of the worst evils of the modern American government. The Interstate Commerce Clause, for example, was never meant to be used as a justification for what it covers now.

On that same note, anyone who complains about the slow creep of the Federal Government into areas that don't concern it -- well, folks, that includes the slow creep of the First Amendment out of government regulation and into private citizen regulation.

This grieving father was hurt by Phelps and -- as provided for in our system of Government -- turned to civil litigation to provide relief.

A jury of his peers listened to his case, debated it and found justification for damages and relief. That is how our system works.

To say:

"That private citizen should not be allowed to sue that other private citizen because Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech"

-- and make no mistake, that is EXACTLY what those arguing against this verdict on First Amendment grounds are saying -- not only defies logic, but it goes against the very bedrock our legal system is founded on.

"Your Rights End Where Mine Begin" is a uniquely American sentiment, and Phelps just got tutored on it -- and his First Amendment rights were neither damaged, nor trampled on during the process.

This is good, and I hope every other person who suffered because those pestilential parasites got stupid at their grief sues the whole stinking Phelps clan into the poorhouse.


Really cool factoid of the day:

Tole is having a wee spot of trouble with trees taking over his main sewer line. After seeing a photo of the problem, I was put in mind of a Gary Larson 'Far Side' cartoon with two cavemen looking at a hole in the floor of a cave, with one caveman saying, "Ooo, this not be cheap."

I went looking through the Intarwebz for a copy of the cartoon to e-mail to him, but alas I couldn't find one.

What I found instead, was one of those little touches that gives me hope for the human race.

In 1982, Gary Larson drew a 'Far Side' cartoon of a bunch of cavemen at a lecture. The lecturer is pointing to the wickedly spiked tail of a stegosaurus and saying, "Now this end is called the thagomizer, after the late Thag Simmons."

As per the usual with 'Far Side' cartoons, this was very funny -- although I really can't tell you why.

Anyhoo, apparently paleontologists have the same sense of humour that I do because those spikes are now commonly referred to as the "thagomizer" in reference books, museum exhibits -- and Discover Magazine.

There may be some hope for people after all.