Friday, December 30, 2016

Thursday, December 29, 2016

I'm a Bad Fan - Bowl Game Edition

I'm a bad fan.

I was generally aware that the Gamecocks were playing in the Birmingham Bowl. I knew that it was today, and I knew that the opposing team was USF. However, I had no idea what time the game was. I just never thought to look. I assumed it was a night game.

This morning, a friend texted me and asked me what I was doing for the game. I responded that I was working most of the day, and then would watch the game (assuming it was a night game) he reminded me that the game was at 2:00PM.

As Rick Perry would say: "Oops."

Go Gamecocks!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Obama Makes Last Minute Change to Classify People Receiving SSI as "Mental Defectives" Thus Making Them Ineligible to Own Guns

Giving a big middle finger to due process.

So the Social Security Agency can now prohibit you from gun ownership without you having a chance to present your own evidence, cross-examine witnesses, or attend any sort of formal hearing...because this is simply some government employees sitting in a room looking at documents then making a decision about someone's second amendment rights.

Supplemental Security Income helps blind, disabled, and elderly people with little to no income. Previously, it was understood that "mentally defective" referred to one's mental health. Citizens who have been institutionalized against their will are restricted from owning a firearm. The new definition of "mentally defective" has nothing to do with being mentally ill.
What an absolutely spiteful person.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Goodbye Princess

Carrie Fisher was obviously iconic for her role in Star Wars. I'm sorry to hear she passed away, and at 60, which is young. I'm sure that everyone will be seeing pictures of her from Star Wars, but I also really, really liked her as a supporting actress in When Harry Met Sally.

I just saw Rogue One earlier this month, and she makes an appearance there (as her younger self) through some special effects. I guess that's the thing about movie stars with iconic roles - you never really think of them as aging.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Long Weekend Open Thread

Happy Friday, boys and girls. Everyone is starting to check out for the long weekend, so I thought it would be nice to put up an Open Thread.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Five Rules for Getting Toys for Your Five Year Old Boy

Let's talk toys for a second, shall we?

Christmas is a fun time for your five year old boy. Boys this age are usually getting started in sports, so there's all sorts of sports related things he wants. Maybe he wants his first baseball glove, or maybe he wants a basketball. Reading is also starting to become a thing at that age.

Boys this age also are into all sorts of vehicles and action figures. Legos, trucks, dinosaurs, things that shoot any sort of projectile are good. Anything that zooms, crashes, or has some sort of appeal to the prehistoric reptilian brain we men have - you're good.

Accordingly, as a parent of a five year old boy, I've got some rules for you. I'm not going to address safety, because I'm starting with the assumption that no one is getting a five year old an actual sword, knife, gun, or motorcycle. So there.

In reality, if you have a five year old, you probably are hoping for a toy that your son will love so much, he'll take it into his room (or outside) and play with for hours...possibly without you. I can remember playing with legos in my room for hours, building castles, spaceships (lots of spaceships) and all sorts of other things without once asking my dad to come help me. And I think my dad was cool with that. In fact, he probably enjoyed having me spend a little time on my own using my imagination, rather than having him build lots of things for me.

Rule No. 1: Thou shall get your boy something that he can play with on his own, or at the least, with your preferred level of parental assistance. For instance, if you're thinking about legos, pay attention to the age range! Don't get your five year old a lego set that is for ages 9-13 and expect to have him assemble it like a mini-McGuyver. You're going to need to be in there...pretty much constantly. And you may have to basically do it for him.

Remember, five year old boys are still developing their fine motor skills, and manipulating those little pieces can be difficult. Getting him something that has an axle and a wishbone suspension isn't a good idea. So, legos are great, but just be aware of the age range and be aware of how much you want to be involved.

Transformers are another area that might need parental involvement during play time. Our son loves Transformers. Up until now, he's had these kind of Transformers that go from vehicle mode to robot move in one move. This is great because the coolest thing about Transformers is that they Transform super-fast in the shows. For instance, in the cartoons Optimus Prime jumps up, and transforms in the air before he hits the ground. Accordingly, our son can take him all over and transform him on his own, have all sorts of imaginary Transformer adventures on his own, and really get into it without coming to me for assistance at all.

If you give him a Transformer that is too complicated and takes too many moves, it's like handing your kid a Rubik's Cube and telling him to have fun. Guess what? He's going to hand it back to you and ask you to do it after he gets frustrated. So again, keep in mind your child's limitations and how much you want to be involved with the toy. It's easy to get frustrated when you're five.

Caveat: Now, this rule is balanced with how much you want to challenge your child, how much you may or may not mind helping out, and how much you may or may not want your child to play independently. So I'm not saying don't get legos or transformers, I'm just saying you may need to manage your child's expectations. Our son actually got a pretty complicated Transformer recently, and it turned out great. He loves it even though he can't transform it on his own. He's so into Transformers, it doesn't matter that he has to take it to me to go from one mode to the other. He also doesn't change it from mode-to-mode every five minutes.

This brings me to Rule No. 2: Thou shall not get your five year old son overly fragile toys. Everyone remember the wisdom of the Old Skin Horse in The Velveteen Rabbit?

'When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.'

'It doesn't happen all at once,' said the Skin Horse. 'You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby.
Your five year old boy is a tornado. He's full of energy: playing, running, jumping, and karate-chopping his way through life. Don't get him a delicate collector's edition Hess Truck that you're going to fuss at him for getting sand and grit in the wheels. Probably don't get him anything that you want to be a "collector's item" if you want him to actually play with it.

Don't get him anything that has multiple pieces to be a complete set, where you're going to get upset if one piece gets lost. (Because one piece will certainly get lost.) Don't get him some super expensive telescope, because he'll probably end up using it as a light saber when you're not looking.

You know what's super durable? Those big steel Tonka trucks. Those things are bomb-proof, which is about the same as being kid-proof. They don't have motor that's going to break, they aren't electronic, so no worries about water, and they won't crack like cheap plastic. Try to find older ones that are almost all metal, if you can.

Some of our boy's favorite gifts are things that are virtually impossible to break. I know this because they've "flown" off of the top of the clubhouse, been stepped on, gotten wet in the bathtub, been slammed in a door, been muddy, and been slept with.Go with something tough. The worst thing is having a toy that breaks on Christmas Morning.

Caveat: This doesn't mean the concept of respecting your toys goes out the window. You should still teach your child not to leave toys out in the yard overnight, not to intentionally try to break toys, or otherwise be disrespectful of toys. It's just that life happens.

Rule No. 3: Books are never a bad idea. Yes, I know that books aren't durable Tonka Trucks, but you also want to balance out some of that running around with the time when he's going to be in bed looking at books. Five is prime time for learning to read, and books open up a wonderful world of reading that will lead to infinite adventures for you boy. Even if your five year old isn't reading, if you get him a book on dinosaurs with lots of pictures, I promise you he will sit down and look at it.

Rule No. 4: Not everything has to be an amazing, whiz-bang, super-toy. Pay attention to the stuff your kid is interested in. Yes, television commercials will be showing remote controlled dinosaurs that light up and shoot laser beams and stuff, but kids are really not that complicated. Also, they want to be just like their dads, so getting your boy stuff that is "like dad's" is always a safe bet.

If you're a handy guy, getting your son a real tape measure that is "just like dad's" is huge. If you're a sporty dad, getting your son a jersey of the team you like is an easy winner, because he wants to cheer for whoever is "your" team. Whatever you're into, he's probably interested in it, because five year olds are big into being "just like dad". For instance, one Christmas we got our son some pants that matched mine and he thought it was the coolest thing ever.

Rule No. 5: Finally, thou shalt have your boy remember to be grateful for all gifts. Yes, children build up huge expectations for Christmas gifts. It's just how things are. Christmas Morning is a huge day, so make sure your boy keeps things in perspective. Remind him that everyone should be grateful for everything they get and that acquiring things is not the point. This is a life-long goal, because eventually your five year old is going to be thirty-five. You want to raise a young man with a true spirit of thankfulness and gratitude.

With that, I'll throw it open, what else do people think about when buying gifts for kids?

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Happy Winter Solstice

One way to look at today is as the first day of winter. True enough, the season of "winter" starts today. Being a glass half-full kind of guy, I like to look at today as the winter solstice, when after today, the daylight hours start increasing on the march back to warmth and summer.

Even though it's going to be cold for several more months, I take heart in the return of the sunshine.

If you're really far up north, this is what you see today, with the sun barely getting up over the horizon.

It may be the first day of winter, but don't worry: Summer is coming.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Monday, December 19, 2016

What's on Your Bookshelves These Days?

Brad had started a discussion about what books he was reading, and it turned into talking about what happened to be sitting on your bookshelves, nightstand, desk.

Here are my bookshelves. (Not pictured are the Aubrey-Maturin books 1-9 that I have on my Kindle right now, books in my closet, books I've donated, and books that are otherwise scattered about.)

The Churchill books are first editions, and were a gift to me from my sister-in-law.

Yes, more military history. I know you're shocked.
Sort of mix here. Everything from my personal bible, next to shotgun books, and some Tom Wolfe.

So what's on your bookshelf, nightstand these days?

Friday, December 16, 2016

Season 2 of The Man in the High Castle is Out

This is the US in the alternate history where we lose WWII

This is the alternate history, based on Phillip K. Dick's book where Japan and Germany win WWII, and have occupied the USA. Season one was great in a bit of a scary way. It's sort of like reading 1984. You're in this dystopian world where you have characters struggling against the system.

And according to Gizmodo, season two is "too good to binge".

Oh yeah? Challenge accepted, Katie.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

"Dunkirk" Movie Trailer

Most Americans who are casual WWII historians don't know about the Battle of Dunkirk because the United States hadn't joined the war yet. It happend in 1940, well before Pearl Harbor got the US into the war.

However, the Battle of Dunkirk (and the ensuing evacuation) was a huge moment in the early part of WWII. Essentially, the German Army had the British Expeditionary Force and the French army completely surrounded with their backs to the English Channel. The Germans assumed the channel was a backstop, but the British used it as an escape route.

Although the evacuation was mostly successful, the British loss of materiel was enormous, as massive amounts of artillery, tanks, trucks, cars, and ammunition was simply abandoned in France as the men evacuated back to England. It was one of those battles where the success was simply not being entirely annihilated. Also, the evacuation was done in part with the assistance of hundreds of small non-military vessels such as fishing boats, pleasure boats, etc. It was an amazing display of the British flexibility and ingenuity to avoid a complete defeat.

Accordingly, the movie Dunkirk  is going to be one that shows courage in the face of overwhelming odds, and it looks pretty good.

Christopher Nolan is directing it, and I've liked all his movies. Also, Kenneth Branagh is in this move, and he's a great actor.

I categorize movies into ones that I see in theaters (the best, I don't do this often); ones I wait to get on PPV (a large category); and ones that I wait until they are just out for free.

I may go see this in theaters. Thoughts?

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Rick Perry to Head Dept. of Energy

Don't worry. I'll shut the DOE down in an orderly fashion.

Yeah, it's the one agency that Rick Perry famously forgot, but it's also an agency he said he would close down.

Yes, the left is having a lot of fun with the irony, but I think it's a good pick. As someone who wants the federal government to be less intrusive in my life, I want the people at the head of federal agencies to be predisposed against using their power rather than being thrilled with their ability to inflict regulations on us.

So far, I'm pretty impressed with the Cabinet nominees.

The Real Issue With Russia Isn't the Hacking

I apologize for not having a post yesterday. I really try to put at least something up every single day to keep the blog fresh and tidy. Yesterday, I was in a CLE all day and then had to get a bit of work done afterwards, and then get home to do the dad thing.

In any event, it seems like the news is mostly centered on Democrats going nuts about the Russians "hacking the election" which seems to be an imprecise way of putting it. Yes, the Russians hacked the people at the DNC and then released their private e-mails. Essentially, this revealed to everyone what we all had already guessed - that the DNC put their thumb on the scale to help Hillary win the primary.

But okay, whatever. I'm not in the Democratic party, so it's none of my business. And frankly, I don't have a big problem with the party choosing one candidate over the other. That's sort of the point of the party, right? The guys in the smoke-filled backrooms help pick the candidate that they think is best? But I digress...

Anyway, the e-mails simply revealed what we all pretty much assumed. None were really a big deal, and I don't think anything swayed anyone's vote. Do you know anyone who was going to vote for Hillary, but then changed their vote to Trump because of something they saw on Wikileaks from the DNC?

I mean, it's just silly. So in any event, I think this whole thing of the Russians "hacked the election" is simply a Democratic campaign to make Trump seem illegitimate, sort of like the birthers did with Obama, and how Gore did with the Florida recount.

It's all politics, which means it's entirely non-substantive. And stuff like this is why people hate politics.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not a Trump fan. I think he's a seriously flawed guy, but he's our guy at this point. We all need to come to grips with that. If you want to oppose him on something (and I'm sure I'll oppose him on many things) that's fine.

But I'm just not sure what the point is with going on about the Russians. It's something we knew then, and it hasn't changed. What's more concerning than what the Russians did, is how we are going to deal with them going forward. Are we going to give Putin leeway to do what he wants, or are we going to stand up for freedom in Eastern Europe and the Baltic States? Are we going to let Russia be the dominant foreign player in the middle-east?

That's where the rubber meets the road.

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Browning Hi-Power (A Love Story)

It's more Brad Pitt, not so much John Wayne
The first handgun I ever purchased was a Browning Hi-Power. It's still my favorite one. So, when I ran across this piece, I knew that I wasn't alone in my appreciation of the Hi-Power.

The Hi-Power was different. Whereas the 1911 is John Wayne, a big brawler with hams for fists, the Hi-Power is Brad Pitt’s Tyler Durden in Fight Club. It’s lean, sleeker, all tendon and muscle. The way the slide and frame narrow towards the muzzle, the sides stepping down in that iconic Browning look. Everything about the pistol seemed refined to me, deadlier. It was a Fairbairn-Sykes to a Bowie knife. The Hi-Power would leisurely, coldly, smoke a cigarette while it watched its victim bleed out. The 1911 would spout off some 1940’s patriotic John Wayne/Captain America lines before stomping out to go punch some more Nazis and Japs in the face. I was at that point in my life where I was tired of punching Nazis and Japs. I wanted to spike my hair, flip the collar of my jacket up, and smoke a cigarette. It was so different. I was in love.

Here's my Hi-Power. It's still going strong, and I still love her. I'm never selling this gun.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

South Carolina May Not Be the Biggest State, But...

This morning, I was driving the kids to school and having a conversation in the car with our five-year-old son about states. He eventually asked me "Which state is the biggest?" and I replied, "Well, California is big. Texas is another big state."

He sort of got a bit dejected about that, as it seemed he was hoping for South Carolina to be one of the biggest states. I thought about it, and trying to think of something positive about South Carolina, I said, "Well, South Carolina is one of the oldest states."

He perked up, and said in the assertive voice he uses when making a logical conclusion of figuring something out, "Ohhhh, so that's why our roads have so many cracks in them."

Kids. Gotta love 'em.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

December 7, 2016

Good morning, campers. Seventy-five years ago, the United States was attacked at Pearl Harbor, 2,403 Americans were killed and 1,178 were wounded, and America's entered WWII. Take a moment to remember what happened three-quarters of a century ago.

Fortunately for the United States, our aircraft carriers were untouched by the attack.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Then and Now; Two Marines in Okinawa - About a Half Century Apart

I was thinking about my father-in-law today. He's not doing so well. Here's a picture of him from a long time ago, back when he was in Okinawa.

My Father-in-Law, James Barber, in Okinawa in the early 1960s
And just for perspective, time-capsule purposes, here's a picture of one of my friends, Steve, from earlier this year in Okinawa, celebrating the USMC's Birthday.

My friend, Steven Kasdan (center) in Okinawa a few weeks ago
Anyway, keep my father-in-law in your prayers.

Social Justice Warriors Change Lyrics to "Baby It's Cold Outside"

Most notably, when Liza sings, “I ought to say no, no, no,” Lemanksi responds with “You reserve the right to say no.”

Progressive aren't happy unless they are banning/prohibiting something fun, huh? The Puritans called and said, "Whoa, back off, dudes!"

Also, I always thought the song was pretty clear that she's fine with the idea of staying but is trying to put up a plausible resistance to save her reputation. But maybe that's just my privilege showing.

Whatever. These people annoy me so much (and I don't even really like this song that much). Here's the version I like best.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Why Mattis Makes a Great Pick for Secretary of Defense

It looks like it's going to be the "Warrior Monk" for Secretary of Defense.

Here's why I think Mattis will be an excellent Secretary of Defense:

First, Mattis is going to stop/reverse the idiotic social engineering that gets put on the armed services. He's not going to be worried about the politically correct stuff.

Second, I think he's going to be pushing for sensible ROE policies for the men and women who are at the tip of the spear. If we send an Iowa kid into some hell-hole on the far side of the world, he's going to make sure that the kid from Iowa has rules in place to engage the enemy that make sense.

Oh, and he cares about his Marines. Go find the story that everyone will be telling you in the next few days and weeks about Mattis and Christmas guard duty. Just remember I told you here, first.

Third, I think he's going to honestly focus on war-fighting and making the military the best that it can be at killing the enemy and breaking their things. That's what the military does, campers - it's there to kill people and break things. The military isn't there to be some social experiment, or be some progressive enclave of social justice. However, Mattis is going to try and avoid conflict if possible because he knows the cost. He's seen it firsthand. But, as he's said, "there are some assholes in the world that just need to be shot".

Fourth, he's also going to do this job with a sense of history, so he's not going to ever find himself at a loss for a sense of how things can go wrong. He's such a student of history, he carried his own personal copy of the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius throughout his deployments.

Finally, and most importantly, he's going to tell things to his boss (the President) like it is. He's not going to live in a fantasy world, he's not going to hide the truth, and he's not going to avoid the hard questions. I think President Trump is getting someone in Mattis who is not going to be intimidated by the oval office and try and cover things up or mask the hard choice. Mattis is too smart for that, and he's not a political hack. He's a professional war-fighter. Trump is getting someone who will force him to think and make tough decisions rather than provide easy outs.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

No, we shouldn't get rid of states: My case for states from over on Brad's Blog

I gave this some thought. I had my two drinks as recommended by the federal government while doing it. After giving it considerable thought, I don’t think it’s a good idea to get rid of states.

Our system of government entirely revolves around the idea of many states working together with a federal government in a balance that can be sometimes frustrating, sometimes inefficient, but ultimately provides for a great deal of diversity and freedom for the people.

We don’t have a “one-size-fits-all” set of laws in all aspects of our lives because the people in different areas of our vast country have different beliefs, cultures, and ideas. Federalism allows us to have these different cultures, beliefs, and ideas flourish together. The people of New York can have very strict gun control, while the people of Wyoming don’t. The people of Texas can have zero income taxes, while the people of Connecticut have high ones. The folks in Louisiana have some really weird real estate laws. (By the by, South Carolina has some weird laws, too.) But that weirdness makes us great.

It’s the motto of our country – e pluribus unum. Out of many…one. At our core, we are many people in one country all living together. We have different cultures, ideas, and beliefs. And this diversity is to be celebrated and protected – even thought it’s not super-efficient. However, as you’ll probably agree: Government isn’t like running a business.

Federalism allows for diversity of culture, ideas, and beliefs. Is it easy? Nope. For example, it’s it a pain in the behind for me to have to understand that the concealed carry laws in South Carolina don’t in another state. However, I respect that the people in New York have a different point of view than I do on this issue, and I don’t begrudge them the right to restrict the carrying of firearms, as wrong-headed as I think their belief might be.

Bud, I think you’re a very passionate person, I know you believe in what you believe in very deeply. That’s why you have such strong reactions to people who don’t share your viewpoint.

If you’ll permit me to give you a bit of friendly criticism, you go wrong when you think that you have a monopoly on what is right and what is good. No one does. That’s why I often in a half-joking way, occasionally state that “I’m just a moron” or “Your mileage may vary” at the end of some of my comments. Half of that is me just joking around. But the other half of it is me realizing that I don’t have the ordained wisdom of perfection in what is right and good.

What flows from your thinking thinking you have a monopoly on the right way of thinking is your desire to simply eliminate states and all the differences that they carry.

My advice is to realize that not everyone shares your exact culture, beliefs, and values – and realize that’s okay. So, let’s keep the states, and our state laws, and our differences.

But hey, I’m just a moron, and your mileage may vary.