Surly Curmudgeon

   The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort.
-- Robert A. Heinlein
  • Somewhere in the crusty outer layer of small towns surrounding the warm creamy center that is Oklahoma City.
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    Saturday, August 30, 2008


    I was pretty well done with the election before yesterday. I have no use for Obama, I'm not real hip to McCain, and Bob Barr is not likely to appear on the Oklahoma ballot.

    Now that McCain has named Alaska governor Sarah Palin to the VP spot however, I think I'm falling into his camp. I still hate his foreign policy goals of policing the world and deploying troops to any country where they're using harsh language. I still don't think he's got a clue when it comes to the economy. But Sarah Palin is a strong, libertarian-leaning candidate (she supported Ron Paul), she's got a great pro-gun record, and she's from one of our most rural states -- having just been there, I'm inclined to say our most rural.

    The Obama/Biden ticket is big-city liberal all the way. The traditional success formula for Democrats is to have someone from a southern state. Clinton was from Arkansas, Carter from Georgia, Johnson from Texas. This helps shore up the rural vote, and reassures small town folks that their needs will be taken into consideration. Whether that happens in practice is of course another topic altogether, but hey, at least we get the nod. So what did we get from Obama, boy wonder from Chicago? A senator from the great suburb of Delaware. Whee.

    As long as he doesn't screw up his campaign too badly, and as long as Barr isn't on the ballot in Oklahoma, and since he is pretty well projected to win Oklahoma by a landslide anyway, McCain probably has my vote, if only to see Palin in the White House in some capacity. Now if only there were a way to swap the ticket so Palin was actually the Presidential candidate. THAT would be a race I'd like to see.

    Posted by Tom, 8/30/2008 6:21:18 AM (Permalink). 6 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Bill Collectors

    As if to underscore my previous entry, last night while on the way to St. Louis to visit the O-Dawg, we passed no less than 10 cops setting a speed trap on I-44 between Tulsa and Oklahoma City. This was within a 5-mile stretch of road. They were literally lined up in their speed trap spot, like candy bars in a vending machine.

    "Public safety" you say? Pshaw. Nobody was driving especially fast on that stretch of road. I habitually set my cruise control at exactly the speed limit, and while some were passing me, it wasn't in any way that was dangerous. The only way anyone could have found reason to pull someone over is with a radar gun, and then only after whatever arbitrary margin they give before deciding the ticket can be written big enough.

    So in the span of a few minutes, I saw more cops in Oklahoma than I did in a whole week in Alaska, and every one of them were engaged in an activity that had nothing to do with "protecting" or "serving" and everything to do with "revenue stream".

    Don't get me wrong, I'm all about following the law. I just think the law should have something to do with actual harm to others, not hypothetical "danger".

    Posted by Tom, 8/30/2008 6:05:48 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Wednesday, August 27, 2008

    Restaurants are ticking me off...

    ...almost as much as that Kelly Brownell guy. Reason magazine recently had yet another article mentioning him:

    In a 2007 survey of California voters, 84 percent said they thought the government should force restaurant chains to display calorie numbers on their menus and menu boards. That may happen soon: The state Assembly is considering a bill, already approved by the state Senate, that would make California the first state to impose such a menu mandate.

    Yet the desires that people express in polls are often at odds with the preferences they reveal in the marketplace. The restaurant business is highly competitive. If customers really were clamoring for conspicuous calorie counts, restaurants would provide them voluntarily. A legal requirement is necessary not because consumers want impossible-to-ignore nutritional information but because, by and large, they don't.


    Yale obesity researcher Kelly Brownell recently told the Los Angeles Times, "there's still the issue of the consumer's right to know." What about the consumer's right not to know? The same research that supporters of menu mandates like to cite indicates that most consumers prefer to avoid calorie counts, enjoying their food in blissful ignorance. There's a difference between informing people and nagging them.

    Brownell, pictured here, seems likely to be the kind of guy who blames others for his own failures, as he's clearly toting around a few extra pounds himself.

    But that's not the issue here. The issue is that I've started going to restaurants and asking for nutritional info for the menu items, only to be told the same thing: "it's on our website". This would of course be fine if they had a computer sitting in the lobby or at my table, available so I could browse said website and make an informed decision about my meal. And while I do have an iPhone which makes things easier, it's still not fast enough when I'm at the counter at McAlister's Deli with a line of people behind me stretched out the door.

    That was today's scene, which I ended by simply not ordering anything. This of course put me in a black mood, which made Mrs. Curmudgeon wish she was eating lunch without me.

    Much as I hate to admit it, Kelly Brownell has a point: I do have a right to know what I'm purchasing, at a level of detail that matters. But I still disagree with mandating by law that restaurants provide me the information. I'd rather take the free market approach, and simply tell them I'm not going to order anything because I don't know what's in it. I might call a few establishments and follow up on that. If they want my business, it shouldn't be any trouble for them to print out a few dozen copies of their nutritional info from their website, and have it available for those who ask. There's no need to clutter up the regular menu with the information, and there's no need to mandate that it be available. But it does irk me when they don't have it, or say something useless like "it's on the website."

    Posted by Tom, 8/27/2008 5:22:56 PM (Permalink). 4 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Reflections on Alaska

    I'll yap about the scenery in another post, once I get some pictures picked out. This is about the commerce and culture.

    One of the key things I noticed about Alaska was how few cops I saw. In Oklahoma (and just about every other state), there's practically a cop every mile. Speed traps abound. Speed limits are set far lower than a road reasonably needs, presumably to feed the sharks waiting with their radar guns.

    In Alaska, I think we saw half a dozen cops the whole trip, and speed limits were generally what they needed to be: if it says "45 mph" with a curve symbol, you probably want to take that curve at 45. It was a refreshing kind of realism. I only saw one that would be a "speed trap" cop, but that was in a school zone, so I can give him a pass. The others were doing real police stuff, like racing to an accident scene, or the guy at the hotel where we stayed our first night.

    In short, police presence seemed vastly reduced over the lower 48. This goes along with the culture up there, which expects folks to take care of themselves. In my mind, it's the difference between a "public service" and a "revenue stream". Cops in the lower 48 are bill collectors. In Alaska, they seem to deal with real issues.

    Another difference is in the price of food. Dining out in Alaska is hellaciously expensive. With one exception, we generally paid $25 - $30 per plate. The food was good, but not that good. Fish and crab were the order of the day... we saw some people eating steak or prime rib, but it didn't look to me like they knew how to cook it. Want steak? Go to Texas or Oklahoma.

    Anyway, the best place we went to, price/quality-wise, was the Moose's Tooth in Anchorage. It's a micro-brewery/pizzeria, and it has some excellent sandwich-wrap-type-things done in pizza dough rather than tortillas. We paid slightly less than we would at a Chili's or similar restaurant.

    Finally, the quality of goods sold is pretty incredible. They have a department store called Fred Meyer in Soldotna, very much like a Wal-Mart. But where you'd find crappy store brands and off-brands at Wal-Mart, Fred Meyer had a giant section devoted to Columbia Sportswear, and another to Carhartt. Their cold-weather gear selection is unequaled anywhere I've seen in the lower 48, and it's all reasonably priced. They say the nearby town of Kenai is getting a Wal-Mart, but I don't think that will be an improvement.

    Posted by Tom, 8/27/2008 7:50:05 AM (Permalink). 1 Comment. Leave a comment...

    Monday, August 25, 2008

    Alaskan Humor

    One of the things "they" will tell you, if you ask, is how to stay safe from bears while hiking. Attach some bells to your pack. This will warn the bears that you're coming, and allow them to get out of the way. Bears don't like to be surprised, and that's apparently how a lot of maulings happen.

    They also advise carrying pepper spray, which is easier to use than a gun. It's supposedly somewhat more effective, presumably for that reason.

    Finally, they tell you to look out for signs of bears in the area, including claw marks on trees, footprints, and especially for fresh bear poo.

    "Ah", says the greenhorn. "How will I know it's bear poo, as opposed to something else?"

    "It'll have bells in it, and smell like pepper spray."

    Posted by Tom, 8/25/2008 5:38:15 PM (Permalink). 1 Comment. Leave a comment...

    Sunday, August 24, 2008

    Lo, I have been to the mountain

    One of the many high points of the trip to Alaska was the final day in Anchorage, just before we got on the plane to come home. We stopped in at Wild West Guns, makers of the Alaskan CoPilot, a big-bore lever-action rifle that comes apart in the middle for storage and transport.

    WWG is located in what looks to be a converted office building, with a small showroom up front and a workshop in the back. What I found most interesting about their stock was the fact that they carry very few small or medium-bore handguns, and their rifles seem to start in the .30-caliber range and go straight up into the big boys from there.

    The fine folks there allowed me to fondle the top-shelf version of the CoPilot, with a Kevlar stock, hard chrome finish and matching scout scope. It's light, compact, and packs a whallop in their custom chamberings of .457 Wild West Magnum or .50 Alaskan. The latter requires deep pockets to feed, at $72/box, but the .457 WWM is made to accept standard .45-70 loads, which is still expensive but much less so.

    I'm not much of a rifleman (yet), but I hope to be when I grow up. In my inexperienced hands though, the CoPilot felt marvelously light and settled easily into my shoulder. The Scout scope makes it feel a little front-heavy, but not in a way that's distracting so much as noticeable. And the forward mounting does make it much easier to look at, rather than through the scope, which I've read is desirable. But the real mojo is in the smile the little bugger puts on your face:


    Some day...

    Posted by Tom, 8/24/2008 11:57:39 AM (Permalink). 1 Comment. Leave a comment...

    Thursday, August 21, 2008

    Fear itself

    It's cloudy but not cold, though the river water is freezing. I know this because our trip began with a swim to the far side of the river, and my dry suit has a hole in it just above my right ankle. When I did my swim, I had left my neoprene gloves off, and the water was so cold it burned my fingers.

    Now, my gloved fingers wrap white-knuckle tight around the T-grip of my paddle as I strain to hear and understand the instructions of our guide. His name is Alfred, he looks kind of like Val Kilmer's long-lost brother, and he sounds like Mr. Rogers. Already the water is moving fast, and I am just starting to hear the distant rumble as the first canyon draws near.

    I fight against my stomach, which flip-flops like it's running for office. The second I have it settled down, my back muscles crawl and convulse with an involuntary shiver. I realize I'm terrified, but somehow Alfred's voice keeps me from totally flipping out. We're coming up on the first rapid now, and I don't like my foot position. One bad hit from the wrong side, and my left knee is going to dislocate like a chicken wing. It's too late to fix it as we crest the first wave, and as I grit my teeth and focus on my paddling, I notice almost unconsciously that I have to pee.

    Two hours later, we emerge from the bottom of the second canyon. The first was pure terror, but each rapid gets a little easier, and I can feel my confidence returning. We've only signed up for two canyons, but Alfred offers to take us through the third, which is also the most difficult. Feeling good about the trip so far, and having survived the class III and IV whitewater of the first two, I elect not to press my luck with the class V section. I've done what I came to do. There will be plenty of opportunities in the future to do more.

    I don't know why I decided to do this now, but I'm glad I did. It was time to get over that hump. As the saying goes, there's a difference between living and just being alive.

    Posted by Tom, 8/21/2008 5:22:43 PM (Permalink). 1 Comment. Leave a comment...

    Wednesday, August 20, 2008

    More travel

    We went on an 8-hour Kenai Fjords cruise after losing our kayak trip to weather. As promised, the seas picked up on the way back, allowing a couple people to enjoy lunch for the second time. We had dinner at the lodge on Fox Island, with all the food being excellent. I'm not a fan of salmon, but this was some truly exceptional stuff.

    Yesterday we took a short hike before packing up and leaving Seward for Soldotna. It's good to see my old friend Richard again, and he's been treating us to a personal tour of this end of the Kenai. Amazingly, the western side of the peninsula reminds me a lot of Oklahoma, with its shorter trees and low, rolling hills.

    After talking to one of our fellow Fjords tourists, we've decided to abandon our quest to book a bear viewing tour and just hope for a chance encounter. We're spending the money instead on a whitewater rafting trip down Six Mile Creek. This scares the bejeebers out of me, as our last trip back in the early 90's nearly got me drowned. That's why it was our last trip.

    Part of the reason I've been working out and getting myself in shape has been to get to this moment, though I never imagined it'd be so soon. I was horribly out of shape during that last trip, a factor that contributed to my trouble in the water. I've had nightmares about whitewater from time to time ever since, and it's high time they stopped. I believe in facing my fears head-on, so yesterday when we drove past a bunch of rafting compnies on the way here, I saw an opportunity to tackle this one.

    My Dad always told me to grab the world by the butt, and it worked for my fears of flying and bridges. Besides, I'm told that if I give in to fear, the terrorists have already won.

    Now if I could just do something to settle my nerves...

    Posted by Tom, 8/20/2008 8:27:09 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Monday, August 18, 2008

    Smoke on the water, fire in the sky

    Kayak tour called due to approaching storm. Apparently it's not as entertaining (or moreso, depending on your perspective) trying to paddle in high waves and 20-knot winds.

    Now searching for Plan B.

    Posted by Tom, 8/18/2008 8:28:28 AM (Permalink). 3 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Sunday, August 17, 2008


    The drive down the Seward Highway contains some of the most breathtaking scenery I've ever had occasion to witness. The mountains rise into the clouds on all sides, cradling the valleys and highway between them. It's difficult to be surrounded by all this and not want to be a part of it.

    This much I understood before getting on the plane in Oklahoma. Alaska is beautiful, there is no doubt. Other places are too, in their own ways. Natural beauty is a wondrous thing, but honestly I couldn't say I could prefer one place over another merely on the basis of its terrain. Friends who've been to Alaska before me have told me of its beauty, and while they've been proven right, their descriptions were insufficient.

    What my various friends completely failed to mention, and are perhaps completely -- I would say criminally -- blind to, are the other, far more important aspects of Alaska's character and culture. These make the difference between a mere vacation and something more akin to a religious pilgrimage.

    Our ATV tour yesterday took us to the terminal moraine of the Knik Glacier. In the lower 48, this would already be cause for apoplexy. Add to that the fact that our guide made a point of telling us he was carrying a gun for the purpose of defending us in case we ran across a bear. I'm not sure which would have been more alarming in the lower 48... the fact that he had a GUN (!!!), or the fact that his stated purpose was to shoot one of "those beautiful, protected creatures" should the occasion arise.

    And that's not all. In the hustle of folks unloading ATV's and dirtbikes for an afternoon of fun in the area, my eye passed over multiple kids, no older than 15 or 16, on machines of their own with a rifle or shotgun strapped across the handlebars and no one batting an eye. On top of that is the fact that I was toting my Glock (concealed, out of habit) with no permit required to do so. Even had I simply worn a plainly visible belt holster, the scene at the parking lot convinced me it would have been unremarkable.

    Compare this to the issues the Open Carry movement is experiencing in the lower 48. People are given to panic the instant they see someone wearing a gun, however peacefully they may otherwise be acting. And children with guns? It's a full-blown catastrophe!

    Now, having witnessed all this, and pondered the implications of the underlying cultural norms, I can't help it. Every time I take a breath here in Alaska, under the odors of trees and surf and fish and clean mountain air and yes, even the exhaust of ATV's, there is another fragrance that apparently only I can detect. It has long been my dream to sample it, and now that I have, I wonder how bad the addiction will become. It's the smell of freedom.

    Posted by Tom, 8/17/2008 6:09:24 PM (Permalink). 1 Comment. Leave a comment...

    Saturday, August 16, 2008

    Beware the internet

    What I wanted was an inexpensive hotel in Anchorage. What we got was a flophouse in Strippertown. The room is listed as nonsmoking, but the odor disagrees. And it doesn't fill me with confidence, showing up to a hotel where the local constabulary is on-scene, investigating something, especially when Mr. Glock is in my lost bag. (note to self: cross "Red Roof Inn" off the list of chains providing/guaranteeing a certain minimum level of quality)

    But it turns out the cop was present to help with some guy who got drunk, locked the deadbolt to his room, and fell asleep, forgetting his family was unable to enter the room once he'd dozed off. And my bag -- and gun -- showed up in the wee hours of the morning. And despite Alaska's rugged character, it's still civilized enough to provide me with my morning Dr. Pepper.

    So, despite inauspicious beginnings, we are awake, safe, and ready to spend the day tearing through the countryside on our scheduled ATV tour.

    And the mountains look amazing.

    Posted by Tom, 8/16/2008 8:27:32 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Friday, August 15, 2008

    Tales of the iPhone

    Arrived in Alaska, my bag didn't. Mrs. Curmudgeon's did, which is a relief. She requires somewhat more debris than I do, to make it through the day. All I need is some clean underwear and socks. Enter iPhone. Google maps, search "walmart". A quick stop, and I'll be ready for our ATV tour in the morning.

    Posted by Tom, 8/15/2008 11:25:27 PM (Permalink). 1 Comment. Leave a comment...

    Thursday, August 14, 2008

    Open letter to Applebee's

    Dear Restaurant Folks:

    Ever since you hired that Tyler Florence guy, the quality of the food has been going downhill. It tastes like something that's pretending to be hoity-toity, and fails miserably at it. The latest offense was the steak and portobello combination, with the "wine sauce". The mushrooms were so bitter I couldn't eat them. The steak was all right, but the sauce ruined it. And FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, will you people PLEASE discover a different vegetable besides broccoli? How difficult would it be to add some cauliflower and carrots, or sliced squash, or SOMETHING to your "seasonal vegetables" side dish?

    I think I'm done eating at your restaurants until you find a new master chef and send some people to explore the produce aisle of your local supermarket.


    Surly Curmudgeon

    Posted by Tom, 8/14/2008 5:55:49 PM (Permalink). 4 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Wednesday, August 13, 2008

    Tales of the iPhone

    We're at a restaurant for lunch, and the waitress informs me that there are no menus available with nutritional info on the various choices. Enter the handy-dandy iPhone and a nifty little site called The Daily Plate. Diet saved for another day!

    Posted by Tom, 8/13/2008 12:21:02 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Tuesday, August 12, 2008

    How I Lift

    After my last post, some expressed concern that I was "overdoing it". So I thought I'd discuss a little bit of how I approach lifting.

    Common sense tells us that the maximum a person can lift is good for only one lift. To get two or more lifts in a row, without rest, requires that we reduce the weight. As it happens, weightlifters have a shorthand for this: xRM. Reading backwards, this is the Maximum weight a person can lift for x number of Repetitions. As x increases, the weight decreases. Thus, an 8RM is lower than a 5RM which is lower than a 3RM, and so forth.

    Generally speaking, I've been focused on my 5RM and 3RM levels. This, according to the books, articles and websites I've been reading, is the optimal spot for building raw strength. The 8RM to 12RM range is where you get into building size and mass -- how you get the big muscles that look good on the beach.

    It's widely considered kind of dangerous to go for a 1RM. At that level, your body is so maxed out that the slightest mistake leading to failure can be catastrophic. I, more than anyone I know, am paranoid about injury. I know that if I screw myself up bad enough (say, a torn rotator cuff or something that requires surgery), I'll probably never lift again. So I am highly motivated to stay "within my limits". Believe it or not, some would say I play it too cautious.

    What this means in practice is that I'll almost never attempt a lift that I'm not convinced I can do right up front. And even if I think I can do more, I never go more than 10 pounds over the last personal best. So when I attempted my 315-pound deadlift, it was with the knowledge that the week before, I had done 305 pounds for 5 repetitions. Put simply, I KNEW I could get 3 out of 315. It wasn't a matter of "I hope I don't kill myself" so much as a matter of doing what I knew I could do. Also, after I set a new personal best, I generally back off and work up my 5RM to that level before attempting a new personal best.

    At times, I get stuck. One lift or another gets to the point where I don't know if I can get more weight without help. So I find it. I've hired a trainer in the past, to check my form and give me tips. I've spent time with my uncle, who's lifted for a lot longer than I have. And I'm constantly watching videos on the internet about proper form and technique. I am as safe as I believe I can be, while still making progress. I'm about to hire a trainer for one of my lifts, because I'm stuck. I'll take what he teaches me and use it to get my lift to where I want it, and then I'll push on to the next milestone.

    There are men in their 40's and 50's doing much more weight than I am at 37. It's my goal to be one of them when I'm their age. The only way to do that is to push. I have to do it reasonably and safely, but I still have to push. I hope those who worry will still celebrate with me when I hit the next goal and keep going.

    Posted by Tom, 8/12/2008 6:59:37 AM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Saturday, August 9, 2008

    I belong to the 3 Plate Club

    Two years ago when this picture was taken, I was fat and weak and spent 2 months in agony because that jackhammer helped throw my back out.

    According to the bathroom scale, I'm still a fat bastard. I believe its exact words were "get off me! For the love of God, get off me!"

    But I've endeavored to do something about the weak part.

    On the bodybuilding/weightlifting forums, when people talk about a number of "plates", they're generally using shorthand for "pairs of 45-pound olympic plates". That's using a 45-pound bar, so 1 "plate" is actually 1 pair, 45 x 2 = 90 pounds plus 45 for the bar makes it 135.

    Today I joined the 3 plate club. 3 pairs of 45-pound plates, plus a bar, is 315 pounds. I've said previously that I ordinarily don't like discussing my numbers, but I'm just damn proud of this one.

    And since the mantra of the internet is "video or it didn't happen"... I recorded the attempt.

    Warning: video may be too intense for women and small children.

    On second thought, Dad, don't you dare watch it without Mom.

    EDIT: Embedded object removed for iPhone usability reasons.

    Get your own personal copy of the movie, suitable for framing, here.

    Because h.264 is a relatively new codec, and some might not be able to view it, here's an MPEG-4 version, cut down because it doesn't compress as well. If you can't see the video, you probably need to update QuickTime.

    I'm also working on sorting out the whole YouTube thing, but it's not as simple as it first appears.

    Posted by Tom, 8/9/2008 4:50:51 AM (Permalink). 4 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Tuesday, August 5, 2008

    Hayne Hung Out to Dry

    Dr. Stephen Hayne, the Mississippi medical examiner whose fraudulent autopsies and testimony have potentially put hundreds or thousands of innocent people behind bars or on death row, has been canned. It remains to be seen whether his license to practice is revoked (as it should be), or criminal charges pressed (as they should be).

    Dr. Hayne's work was first dragged into the light of day by libertarian investigative reporter Radley Balko, in his Reason Magazine piece CSI: Mississippi. Reading this article and comparing it to almost any other story in the major media, it's easy to see why journalists have lost the respect of the public. They simply don't do the work any more. Radley Balko is a HERO. 99% of the journalists out there are vacuous morons filing fluff pieces about celebutantes and political candidates. Balko made a difference.

    Ever since I first saw Balko's piece, I've been praying for the world to somehow make sense for once. Today my eyes welled up with tears of joy when I saw that my prayers had been answered. Thank God for men like Radley Balko, and ask Him to give us more. Who says libertarians can't have an impact?

    To be sure, there is a lot of work left to do. We need investigations of the various DA's offices that continued to use Hayne even after his malpractice was brought to light. And we need continued vigilance in every other state where the word of the "CSI" types is considered beyond reproach, to the detriment of Justice. But this is an awesome victory for liberty. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

    FOLLOWUP: Reason has a new post covering the press conference held by the Mississippi Department of Public Safety. The state is basically whitewashing Hayne's record, saying he's done a fine job and all that hooey:

    Mississippi Official Fires Dr. Hayne, Then Praises Him

    So flanked by Mississippi Lieutenant Governor Phil Bryant and several state legislators and county coroners, [Mississippi Commissioner of Public Safety Steve] Simpson talked about the new arrangement, and how this was a great step forward for Mississippi's crime investigations. But he didn't even mention Hayne in his opening statement. Of course, Hayne immediately came up in the Q&A. And there Simpson went out of his way to say that even though Hayne would no longer be performing autopsies in the state, he "has not been terminated." Simpson went on to say that Hayne "was not let go because of any allegation of incompetence by anybody." He repeatedly praised Hayne's work over the years, feigned ignorance on Hayne's culpability in the DNA exonerations of Levon Brooks and Kennedy Brewer, and took a somewhat dismissive tone when someone mentioned the Innocence Project's demands for a comprehensive review of Hayne's work over the last 20 years. Simpson also explicitly said that the Department of Public Safety isn't currently investigating any cases involving Dr. Hayne.


    Balko talks about how this was likely done to prevent a rush of appeals and lawsuits. Personally, I find it to be more evidence of the State's pernicious desire to be seen as immaculate and infallible. Admitting up front that Dr. Hayne is a quack is also admitting that the State didn't care so long as it was winning cases, Justice be damned. Individuals tend to be slow to admit fault. It's my experience that Government almost never does.

    Posted by Tom, 8/5/2008 5:34:01 PM (Permalink). 0 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Monday, August 4, 2008

    This stuff just drives me buggy

    A Minneapolis family is outraged that members of the SWAT team that mistakenly raided their house and fired upon them last December have been awarded medals for their bravery under fire.

    Vang Khang and his family had the fright of a lifetime when they believed their home was being invaded by burglars, or worse. It was actually a SWAT team, conducting a high-risk search warrant -- on the wrong house.


    Because the house is located in a part of town known for gang violence, Khang said he feared an intrusion when his home was forcefully entered. With his legally owned hunting shotgun, he fired at what he thought were unknown invaders from behind the second-floor bedroom door where he, his wife, and four of their six children huddled for safety, according to Heffelfinger.

    When police responded by firing 22 rounds, bullets landed within inches of the family's heads, Heffelfinger said.

    On Monday, Police chief Tim Dolan awarded all eight SWAT team members medals for "bravery in action under fire," police spokesman Sgt. Jesse Garcia told

    So let's get this straight:

    1: You have a "gang informant", someone who's already losing contact with the truth.
    2: You take his word for it that such-and-such a house is a den of thieves.
    3: You do no further investigation -- you know, what they call "police work" -- to corroborate his story.
    4: You go all jackboots on the family living there.
    5: When it goes south on you, you give yourself a medal.

    Government in action, folks. See rest of story here.

    I have a few questions:

    1: Are these the "highly trained police officers" I keep hearing about?
    2: How much bigger would the medals have been, had they killed some of the Khang children?
    3: Speaking of medals, isn't this kind of like giving out awards for "participation"? Apparently our police forces now have the same self-esteem issues as 10-year-old soccer players. Strangely, this doesn't fill me with confidence.
    4: I find it astounding that there are still people out there with the attitude that government should be able to do "whatever it takes to keep us safe." Who's keeping us safe from government?

    Posted by Tom, 8/4/2008 5:43:35 AM (Permalink). 2 Comments. Leave a comment...

    Sunday, August 3, 2008


    This week was a good one with the Iron. I think next week might be a big day for my dead lift.

    Posted by Tom, 8/3/2008 6:35:13 AM (Permalink). 1 Comment. Leave a comment...