Thursday, March 28, 2013

Fun family times

Long time Gentle Readers know that I have a wee problem with tree-rats living in my eaves.  Visions of the scaffy little buggers chewing through an electrical wire and burning the house down around our ears does not make for restful sleeping.


Today the First Tree Rat of Spring stuck its' head out of the eaves for a Bullseye Cosmic Weather Report and took a 20-grain Super Colibri twixt the running lights.

Miss Praline, who knows what the swearing-running-grabbing Magic Skwirl Stick means, was waiting for the little furry bastard and nailed his carcass in mid-air.

Miss Mochi, however, is new and does did not know what the commotion was about ... until Praline smacked her up side the head with a graphically deceased skwirl while making sure the tree-rat was properly Done For in True Terrier Fashion.

I swear, I almost heard the 'click' when the light went on her little dachsie head.

All of a sudden we're having a major tug-of-war between the 15-pound Jack Russell Terrier on one end and the 17-pound dachshund on the other; I'm trying to find a place to lay the rifle and yelling, "Drop it!", the two of them decide that rotating around each other is the best way to frustrate Daddy; and on the deck Chuy rolls over to let the sun warm his belly fur.

Smart dog, Chuy.

Giving up, I lightly (I hope) toss the Henry into a thick-ish patch of weeds (I really should mow the blasted lawn, but it does tend to make nice padding) lunge and grab Praline. Praline, being the sweet-natured little thing she is, drops her end of the skwirl.

This ... may have been a miscalculation on my part.

Mochi is every bit as sweet-natured as Praline, however, Mochi is a guttersnipe. Mochi had a hard, hard life before we got her and Mochi understands that one simply does not give up that much free protein.

She pivot-turned, drew a bead on the entrance to her extensive network of tunnels under the Morgan building and kicked her "skattle, skattle, skattle" into afterburner. And I'm here to tell you -- short as that little things legs are, under proper motivation she can flat move.

Since I am not gormless, I've got a pretty good idea of what's on her mind -- get the goodie into the Dachsie-cave where Daddy doesn't fit and it can be enjoyed at leisure -- so I take about three steps and do a running dive, both hands up and block the entrance.

Knocking the wind out of meself in the process, I might add.

Up on the deck, Chuy gives a sedate sneeze and luxuriously scratches his back.

Mochi bounces off my out-stretched hands, blinks, recalculates, and we're for a full-on sprint around the Morgan building. Somewhere in the third (maybe fourth, it's hard to keep track when you're wheezing that badly) lap she meets Praline coming around widdershins and there's a full frontal collision.

I take advantage, skid to my knees, scoop up Mochi and her prize and ...

... discover just how strong the jaw muscles of a dachshund are.

Chuy rolls over and stretches leisurely.

Somewhere in-between the "Mochi, drop it!" "Praline! Not! Helping!" "MOCHI! Give up the [redacted] rat!" I finally get her jaws parted, and out of sheer desperation I fling the skwirl over the fence.

And there is peace in my kingdom. I stagger to my feet, pet the pups, pick up the Henry, and ...

... In the tree above my head is another sodding tree rat. Shaking his metaphorical fist at me, cursing my lineage until the end of time, and running ...

... for that damned hole in the eaves.

It was a Zen moment. The entire world narrowed down to that squirrel's ear. My weight came down on my right foot, right hand pulling the rifle into my shoulder. Left thumb eared the hammer back. Squirrel bouncing off the end of the tree branch. Smooth exhale of breath. Rifle tracking. Focus moving from skwirl ear to front sight, brief close of right eye -- front sight exactly where it needed to be. Smooth pull on trigger.

The squirrel abruptly cartwheeled in mid-air. Up in Heaven Col Jeff Cooper grunted appreciatively, angels sang sweetly, and the sun shone down on me. Bee-yoo-tee-ful shot. Couldn't have been done better in a Hollywood film.


And then that tiny little voice in the back of my head yelled, "Oh, you're a silly daft bugger, ain't'cha?" as two furry rockets, one ginger coloured and one white, shot past me.

How-ever-the-hell many dusty minutes later, I'm down on one knee. I've got the skwirl by the tail with my right hand, I've got Praline trapped under the deck with my knee and I've got Mochi snaffled by the collar with my left hand --

-- and Chuy scratches himself happily behind one ear, strolls over to the side of the deck, meditatively removes the rather-bloody carcass from my hand and jauntily ambles towards the open door of the house. Presumably towards his very favourite nest on the bed containing Herself's Very Good, Multiple Thread Count sheets and other good linens.



I [redacted] hate skwirls.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Dancing monkey dances.

In 1998 the British medical journal The Lancet printed an article by Andrew Wakefield in which he claimed that Autism Spectrum Disorders could be caused by the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella -- referred to as the MMR Vaccine.

Ben Goldacre later named this article one of the "Three all-time classic bogus science stories" in his book Bad Science.

Andrew Wakefield ignored data, manipulated evidence, presented fraudulent results, and basically lied his arse off for this article -- and apparently all for the sake of a paycheck of less than 500,000 pounds by lawyers looking for evidence to use against vaccine manufacturers in civil litigation.

Wakefield's fraud was discovered -- unfortunately not before a drastic drop in childhood immunisations resulted in severe, permanent injuries and death in children throughout the UK from easily-preventable measles and mumps -- and Wakefield was pilloried, stripped of his medical licence and had to pay a goodly amount of legal costs for other people.

Not nearly enough in my opinion, but there you go.

Any-the-hoo. Researcher lied, kids died, researcher exposed: Truth and Justice win out in the end ...

... except for one dancing monkey on this side of the pond named Jim Carrey -- apparently famous for making his butt talk (how apropos), genitalia jokes, and a rubber face.

Mr Carrey seems to have decided that the medical expertise gained by making ones' butt talk (and medical fraud such as that perpetrated by Andrew Wakefield) should be tied to any fame that he does have for the purpose of scaring parents into not vaccinating their children against easily-preventable, life-altering childhood diseases.

Wrap your mind around that, Gentle Reader.

So, the news that this particular butt-talking dancing monkey has decided to apply the same level and variety of cogitation and rational thought to the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States as he has to childhood immunisations means ...

... not a whole hell of a lot to me.

If anything the pure chutzpah of a man who is perfectly okay with children getting -- or dying from -- measles (one of the leading causes of death amongst children globally), but is having a conniption fit over me owning an AR-15 is mildly amusing.

I'll wager that the sum total of people killed by privately-held AR15s last year is a fraction of the number of children who died from complications of measles in the same time frame. Yet Jim Carrey wants parents to stop immunising -- saving -- children from this disease.

Yet at the same time he thinks me owning an AR15 is morally repugnant?!


Shut your piehole and dance, monkey.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Damned global warming

It's North by-Gawd Texas; it's the last of March and I'm sitting here in a flannel robe, heater running to beat all and I'm freezing.

Bloody hell.


Speaking of freezing (and the fate reserved for "journalists" who can't even be arsed to look up simple rules of the language) would folks kindly remind the sodding Mainstream Media that the proper appellation is: "Pope Francis" NOT "Pope Francis I"? He can't be an "I" until there is a "II". Schmucks.

The new pontiff seems to be a good-natured, salt-of-the-earth, unassuming sort. The Vatican might do to keep a weather-eye out -- those salt-of-the-earth folks have a nasty habit of turning your whole world up-side down in spite of your best efforts, and frequently before you know what's happening (see Pope John XXIII [oops]).

Governor Hickenlooper of Colorado seems to be hell-bent on following the kamikaze model in his political career, at least I hope so. The State of Colorado is already panicking a bit over the prospect of a boycott of hunting and/or fishing in Colorado -- a boycott I am considering throwing my weight behind -- and Magpul is making good on its' promise to remove revenue from the State of Colorado if Hickenlooper got stupid.

Which reminds me -- I need to order something from Magpul.

I note that the POTUS has been taking a guided tour of Petra. Gorgeous place, and one that I'd like to visit my-own-self someday -- but doesn't the President have a sodding job to do?! Sequestration, and all that?! Sweet haploid Christ on a flaming pogo stick -- you're getting paid good tax-payer money to tend to this country. ACT LIKE YOU'RE ACTUALLY CONCERNED.

Speaking of, does anyone have access to a comparison of the numbers of vacations and the cost of each between Presidents Bush and Obama? I ask, because I have a distinct memory of the Media, and liberals in general(but I repeat myself) lambasting President Bush over his vacations. Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander and all that. If Bush was a meanie for taking too many vacations, and deserved the scorn of the Media, then if President Obama has been taking a similar number of vacations then he deserves the same amount of scorn.

Yeah. That's going to happen. *spit*

Russia is making cooing noises with China, while giving us the old cold shoulder. Seems the President Obama's promise of "more flexibility" after his election isn't impressing the Russians. I'd insert a massive "DERP!" here, but it just doesn't seem sporting. Fish in a barrel, don't you know?

Senator Dianne Feinstein seems to have gotten her knickers into a bit of a knot after an object lesson in political liabilities and realities. "Stormed from his office"! Wow. That's what I like to see in my elected officials: The emotional stability and maturity of a tantrum-throwing three-year-old. It's a set-back. Deal with it, buttercup.

Took the fur-children in to the V-E-T yesterday. Chuy is about 18 pounds (unknown how much of that is blue-jay); Mochi is a svelte 17 pounds; and Miss Praline is at the lower end at 15 and change. I must have looked a bit startled, because the V-E-T assured me that "Dachsies are just more ... dense ... than Jack Russells."


Not sure, but is "dense" something like "big-boned"?

Ah, well. Off to have fun in Oklahoma later.



Wednesday, March 06, 2013

06 MAR 1836

2200 hours, D-1, one hundred and seventy-seven years ago General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna ordered that the artillery barrage which had fallen upon the Alamo Mission near San Antonio de Bexar for twelve days be halted.

As he suspected, the exhausted defenders soon fell into a deep sleep, for most, the only sleep that they had managed during the course of the siege.

Just after 0000 hours, 06 MAR 1836, 1800 hundred Mexican infantry troops formed into four columns. 500 Mexican cavalry rode into position around the besieged mission, to prevent the escape of, well, anyone -- be they Texan defenders, or Mexican troopies.

At about 0530 hours, the three Texan sentries posted outside of the walls were silently killed, followed by the music of the Mexican bugles sounding the charge. This woke the defenders, and for the next fifteen minutes it really sucked to be a Mexican soldier. The columns they were arranged in only allowed the front line of troops to fire safely. Those firing muskets from any position behind the front line, often as not fired through the front line of Mexican soldiers. Their own artillery behind them inflicted massive blue-on-blue casualties, while the defenders opened up with their own cannon -- loaded with nails, chopped horse-shoes and even the hinges from the doors of the building.

Not to say that they were all ineffective. Colonel William B. Travis was killed during this time by a lucky shot to the head as he stood on top of the wall to get a better shot into the massed formation below him with his shotgun.

Pushed on by their reinforcing elements, the Mexicans mounted three different assaults, finally getting General Juan Amador over the wall, where he got a postern door open, which allowed the attackers to swarm the Mission.

One band of defenders -- Davy Crockett for certain, and probably his frontiersmen volunteers -- took up a position behind a low wall in front of the chapel, and made the Valkyries earn their overtime pay. When the Mexicans pressed too close to reload, the frontiersmen swung their rifles as clubs or switched to tomahawks and knives and exacted a terrible toll before being overrun.

An American slave named Ben, who was a cook for the Mexican army during the attack, states that Crockett went down swinging his rifle and was found surrounded by sixteen dead Mexican soldiers.

For the next hour or so, the Mexican army discovered exactly how bad Military Operations in Interior Urban Environments sucks, as they fought room-to-room in the Alamo. Just the attempt to replace the Texas flag on the roof of one building cost four Mexicans the ferryman's fee, before the fifth finally managed to replace the flag of Texas with the flag of Mexico.

Room by room, in the dark and confusion, the Mexicans died, but replacements kept coming, sparing no defenders. Colonel Jim Bowie, too sick to rise from his bed, still managed to kill three or four Mexican troops with his pistols and famous knife, before being shot and bayoneted.

At about 0630 hours 06 MAR 1836, the last 11 defenders of the Alamo were killed manning the pair of 12-pounder cannon stationed in the chapel.

Surveying the scene after the bullets stopped banging and the bodies quit bouncing, General Santa Anna remarked, "It is but a small affair." Hearing this, a staff officer stated, "Another victory like this, and we'll go to the devil."

When Jim Bowie's mother was informed of his death, she very calmly announced: "I'll wager no wounds were found in his back."


189 defenders of the Alamo died this day 177 years ago. They took a full third of the attacking force with them.

When news of the Alamo got out, men flocked to the Texas army, and on the afternoon of 21 APR 1836, Texas remembered the Alamo, and took a full 18 minutes to toad-stomp the crap out of  the Mexican army at the Battle of San Jacinto, taking General Santa Anna prisoner in the process.

We still remember the Alamo.