Thursday, April 28, 2005

Coming soon to The Freehold

You may have noticed that I have a personal website in addition to this blog. It's meant to be an information resource on a few subjects of interest to yours truly. However, since this blog thing started devouring a sizeable chunk of my spare time, it's been a bit ignored.

Due to a recent health issue (I pinched a nerve in my back. Getting old seriously sucks--you just start falling apart, it seems.) my summer plans, which included a serious dose of home renovation, have to be changed. (No, I didn't learn my lesson from the Man Room saga 1 2 3.)

After a course of steroids (there goes my career in baseball) the doc says that I have to be a good boy and avoid doing strenuous stuff for a while--several months. I'm not totally laid up, but heavy work is a no-no. Unless, of course, I want to keep on screwing up my back, in which case I'll find myself face-down on a table, under bright lights, unconscious, with a man hovering intensely over me, holding sharp objects that he intends to use in the vicinity of my spine.

PASS!

So, I'll just have to spend the summer hanging out at the campground, fishing, playing on the golf cart, going to the range, reading and writing. (Gee, pinching a nerve isn't all bad, if you can get past that pain thing.)

Since I'll be offline (one does have to make some sacrifices to live the "RV lifestyle"), I'm planning on working on some things for the web site. Given some current trends, I think I'm going to concentrate on theSurvivalism section of the site first, although the whole thing will get some attention.

I also plan on working on a piece of fiction of a survivalist nature. I've already started on that, and it's progressing, though slower than I'd like. Stay tuned; I'll eventually be asking for your input.

Ding dong! BATFE calling!

(Via 45-caliber Justice)

James H. Jeffries, III, a lawyer practicing firearms law in the nearby city of Greensboro, NC, has these thoughts on what to do if the BATF knocks on (knocks down, perhaps?) your door.

Gun owners, please read. There may be a test later.

Big Brother is watching your money

Here's another bit of the Patriot Act (a bleeding misnamed pile of stinking chicken crap if there ever was one) that most of us may have missed--the Feds want to track the flow of our finances in much greater detail.

Of course, this is all for our own protection from the terrorists. It couldn't have anything to do with causing

...even citizens with no criminal intent or ties will have to become more efficient law abiders, bank officials said. Small breaches of the law, or just indifference, will no longer go unnoticed.

Maybe I'm too cynical, but somehow I don't think this is an unintended consequence of trying to track money laundering by terrorists. I think this is a completely desired side effect. Sure they catch some terrorists (some of the stupid ones, anyway), but I will wager that they will catch far more "regular folks" who may or may not be doing anything wrong:

For example, Tripathi said, the software will remember that a customer is a 30-year-old engineer who is paid on the fifth of every month.

"It will study the profiles of other engineers in the same age group and build a pattern based on common traits like, say, the monthly periodicity of salary," said Tripathi. "If another customer comes along, says he is an engineer and receives deposits every week, the software will raise what we call a red flag. He is suspect."

Tripathi is Hanuman Tripathi, managing director of InfrasoftTech, and Indian firm hoping to get a piece of this software gold mine. And given the amount of overseas outsourcing going on it the information technology area, I'll just bet a lot of this processing work will take place in India as well. But I'm sure that our personal financial information will be well protected, just like Citibank's is with their Indian outsourcing partner.

It looks like we're going to have to watch our backs in more ways than one.

Lies, damn lies and polls

According to an Elon College poll published in the Raleigh News & Observer, it seems that 49% of my fellow North Carolinians support H1183, the Tuition Giveaway to Illegal Aliens Bill. (The sponsors are free to call it whatever suits them. I have a terrible habit of callin' 'em like I see 'em.)

Having studied a bit on the subject of statistics and the proper methodology for polling, I know that this number could have been achieved in a number of ways, some legitimate, some not. I have to hope that 49% of the population (with a margin of error of 3.38%) doesn't actually believe that giving benefits to illegal aliens, benefits paid for by legal residents who pay taxes, is really a good idea. Because if 49% really do think this is a good idea, this state is on its way down the same toilet that California and others have already flushed themselves down.

One thing in the article does make me smile:
The poll showed that women, younger adults ages 18 to 34 and nonwhite respondents were more likely to favor the proposal, Vercellotti said. So were people who described themselves as politically moderate or liberal.

Who would have suspected....

Greetings to the visitors from AOL

Sitemeter says I've gotten a huge influx of new visitors, all hailing from AOL and all reading this post. I'm happy to have you stop by, and hope you'll visit again.

One favor--if any of you find your way here, would someone tell me where the link came from? I'm curious.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Important reading

(Via Jerry Pournelle)

Go here, then scroll down and look for the phrase "lengthy analysis of Iraq". I've been able to validate a fair proportion of the text as legitimate articles from various MSM sources.

It would seem that we are within sight of winning the war in Iraq. Interesting how the MSM wants us all to believe that we're losing, but then has articles that, when you synthesize them, say we're winning. I wonder if we have unknown allies within their walls?

High School orientation

Tonight was high school orientation for my daughter. Aside for making me feel old, it was interesting from a number of standpoints. The principal seems to be about as no-nonsense as her middle school principal (whose father was a Marine DI, so you can imagine how he runs things-hah!)

The guidance councilors were not nearly as touchy-feely as I would expect, which is also a plus. The school has a lot of extracurricular activities, including a large and active Junior ROTC program (bonus points!). However, emphasis is on the academic side, as it should be. They have a large number of Advanced Placement (AP) and honors courses, plus a cooperative program with the local community college where students can earn high school and college transfer credits.

Perhaps most noteworthy, however, was the prayer that began the program. Yes, I said a prayer, as in invoking the assistance of the Almighty. (I hope some ACLU dupe reads that and shits his pants.)

Have I mentioned lately that I like living in a small town?

Good news for digital photographers

WARNING: Geek Alert

If you own a digital camera, you may have noticed the only way to get pictures off it are as jpeg files. (This isn't true for all cameras, but it is for quite a few, such as Kodak and Nikon.) This is Ok for your garden-variety snapshot, but if you need to do any advanced editing, it's a problem, since jpegs use a "lossy" compression algorithm--you really can't edit them.

The problem has been that some part of the uncompressed picture was encrypted. Well, that may not be a problem any longer. c|net's news.com reports that Dave Coffin has succeeded in downloading the uncompressed images. This is a major breakthrough for amateur digital photographers, since until now they have pretty much been at the mercy of the manufacturers, who of course were usually more than happy to gouge them for the necessary software. (An exception has been Canon, who get a big kudos for not being a greedy bunch of corporate so-and-sos.)

You can get a Windows version of the software here, but you might want to hurry. Mr. Coffin may well be in violation of the DMCA *spit*, and since he's tweaking some large corporate interests, well, you can figure out for yourself what might happen.

Monday, April 25, 2005

The Rites of Spring

Here at Chez Freehold we are deeply engaged in the Rites Of Spring--getting ready for RV season.

I'm sorry, we don't do anything as mundane as "camping". Camping involves sleeping on the ground, going potty in the bushes (or at best in a pit toilet) and a notable lack of bathing. All of the Manly virtues in one place.

The females of Clan Freehold have a thing about a lack of bathing and proper bathroom facilities. Girls.

So I'm spending most of my spare time this week fixing, cleaning and PMing a 30' box on wheels where I'll spend at least 3 out of 4 weekends for the next 6 months. But on the plus side, it's rained a fair amount, so all of the mud holes should be, well, muddy. This bodes well for mud-boggin' in the golf cart! Yee-haw!

I'll send pictures if at all possible. Trust me when I tell you that you won't believe what you can accomplish in a properly set up golf cart. Really.

I'm not the only one...

It would seem that Capt. Teach at the Pirate's cove is miffed at our legislators over their "Let's give the illegal aliens in-state tuition!" lunacy. Especially since the bill would be in violation of a 1996 federal immigration reform law.

I'm still waiting to see where I can go get a refund for these geniuses.

We're going to try a bit of metablogging

This is an experiment. Normally, I'll comment on each post I link to, but since I'm doing this on my lunch hour, time is limited. So...

The Airborne Combat Engineer is Still waiting on the increase in assault weapon shootings. I suspect he'll still be waiting this time next decade.

Geek With A .45 happens on a fortuitous buy on the way to the range. I own one myself, it's a Fun Gun. The Geek also has what seems to be the obligatory Best Buy customer disservice experience.

Vox Popoli is hard to read. Hey, no pain, no gain.

The Blue Ridge blog laments a late season snow. Make sure you check out all her photos.

And finally, Varifrank has these thoughts on what happens to Holland without the Dutch.

That's it for now. Hopefully more tonight.