Thursday, August 28, 2014

Appeals Court reviews same-sex marriage in my home turf


The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments yesterday from Wisconsin and my home state of Indiana, defending their same-sex marriage bans. One of the three judges on the panel was conservative judge Richard Posner. Mark Joseph Stern of Slate put together several audio clips of Judge Posner questioning the hapless state lawyers, who were unable to defend their state’s position against same-sex marriage in any way that made sense.


If you still think that banning same-sex marriage is right because it’s better for the children, or because only heterosexual couples can procreate, please check out the article linked below. If you support equality for all Americans, check out the article because it’s fricking awesome.


Posner kicks total ass.



Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Fun with Signs - The Plot Thickens

Someone from another shop on my floor came by today to ask about the hallway signs. He went through the history of the changes (indicating that they had figured out that Room 237 referred to The Shining by Googling it) and then suggested that, since the sign was closest to my office, I might be behind it or know who was. I denied it and I think he believed me.

But then he surprised me. He said that two more "signs" had been posted on the floor referencing the thermal exhaust port.


It looks like I have a copy cat, or more accurately, someone glomming on to my prank. Down the hall from me, someone taped up two  *laminated* signs on other people's walls.

They're very low quality, but clearly a reference to my hall sign and I DIDN'T DO THESE. Kind of cool, but very odd.

We'll see what happens when I change my sign tomorrow night to a non-Star Wars reference.

Friday, August 22, 2014

This is a stupid talking-point, please let it go

For six years now, conservative commentators have been harping on President Obama’s “excessive” taking of vacations. I remember them even doing this during the first year of his Presidency. This ridiculous criticism has been debunked time and again, but they won’t let it go. Of course, we WANT Presidents to take some vacation time as it helps them to recharge and relax from what is actually a pretty brutal job.

But this talking point should be laid to rest forever, especially from hypocritical conservatives who NOT ONCE criticized their guy for taking too many vacations.

As of August 25, 2014:
During his eight-year presidency, Bush did take 879 days of vacation, including 77 trips to his Texas ranch. So far, Obama has taken about 150 days off. Link
There’s a couple of charts here that you should look at. They’re from 2013 but show the amount of days and numbers of vacations taken by Obama, Clinton, Bush and Reagan. They are illuminating.

Now can we please stop?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Fun with Signs

In April, my shop moved to a new building to consolidate with the rest of our Bureau. My shop had been in the headquarters building on Pennsylvania Ave. for decades, but they wanted to move us and so we moved to the new satellite building.

A couple of weeks ago, wall signs suddenly appeared to direct folk to various features on the floor. I immediately noticed (that's the kind of person I am) that there were two empty slots on the one nearest my office. So, after some experimentation with font and font size, I mocked up a new entry.

Obviously, I didn't quite get the spacing right. Getting the sign apart, sliding the piece out, taking it into my office, putting the new sign in, and putting the whole thing together takes time and I'm trying to do this without anyone seeing. So, the result wasn't optimal.

Still, over the next few days, I could hear people in the hall noticing and talking about it, wondering if we had an aviary and where it was.

The next week, I struck again, and nailed the spacing and font. I didn't want to give up the game yet, so I was subtle with my choice of sign.

Again, people were talking in the hall. They seemed to conclude that the Aviary sign was a mistake, but wondered about Room 237 not having enough digits. I don't think anyone actually got the movie reference.

After being away from work last Friday, I waited until Tuesday evening to change the sign. Infuriatingly, the font seems wrong again. It's too dark. (Maybe someone changed the toner).

I went with a more obvious movie reference this time, figuring that the jig would be up once the sign changed three times. It wasn't until late afternoon that people started to notice. They think someone involved with the building is doing it and "having fun". They're half right.

I have about a dozen more of these, increasingly silly, ready to go.

Ipecac Eats Burgers #11 - Wings Etc.

While in Indiana, after our experience at the Flippin' Cow, the next burgers I had were for lunch at Wings Etc. Yeah, I wasn't in the mood for wings.

This is their "Hangar Full of Burgers", aka three mini-hamburger sliders. They look pretty good, actually, and are festooned with ketchup, mustard, mayo and pickle.

These were decent, but not great, burgers. When the meat is so thin and small, it's tough not to overcook. These were a little bit dry as a result.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tanked up on weed

From the American Family Association:
On his radio program today, [Bryan Fischer] sought to bolster this narrative by citing a few new bits of recently released information, such as the report that Brown was shot six times in his front and had marijuana in his system, claiming that this proves that Brown was "tanked up" on pot, which made him go berserk and attack the police officer.
"We know now he did have marijuana in his system," Fischer explained, "and we've had stories, remember, we've had stories from Colorado, people going berserk on marijuana and killing people, hyped up on marijuana. So it's more dangerous than people think"
I have no personal experience with marijuana at all, but I am smart enough to know that marijuana does not make you violent or hyper. You'll also notice that those on the side of gunning down an unarmed teenager are all conservatives. What with the family values and all.

Another black man killed? Follow the usual script.

This article is spot on. We’ve seen it time and time again, from Trayvon Martin to Michael Brown to the next victim. As soon as someone kills a black man, the police and media start the character assassination – he’s violent, on drugs, a thief - to make the death seem not only justified, but desirable. It’s a horrible thing to do to a victim, his family and entire communities, tarnishing a life cut tragically short, but it happens all the time in America.
The niggerization of Michael Brown has begun in earnest. The police and the Right-wing media have decided that like all other black people who have been killed by the police and white (identified) vigilantes, Brown is guilty of causing his own execution-style murder.
Writing about the behavior of the police department in Ferguson, Missouri and their efforts to derail, obfuscate, lie, and dissemble about the murder of Michael Brown is an experience akin to Bill Murray's in the movie Groundhog Day. It is a cultural script that plays out repeatedly in the United States--the events of which are only a surprise to the naive, willfully ignorant, dishonest, and/or stupid.Black people who have had violence visited upon them by the white racial state and its agents are forced into a type of bizarro world. Like women who are the victims of sexual assault, black victims are forced to defend their right to exist; rapine logic as applied to women is a neat analogy for white racial logic as it applies to black victims of white police (and other) abuse. In this framework, Michael Brown, Renisha McBride, and Trayvon Martin were somehow asking to be killed.

So long as this practice continues in America, we will not have justice. We will not have peace. We will continue to victimize those who are already victims. And to millions of Americans it won’t matter at all, because of the color of the victim’s skin.

This must change.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

On race in America

Electing a black President did not end racism. We do not live in a "post-racial" society. As the events in Ferguson, Missouri, have shown over the past week, we still have loads of segregation and institutional racism in twenty-first century America.

I am a white male and I've never been confronted by a cop for walking down my street. I've never been followed through a store because they thought I might steal something. I've never been pulled over for driving while white. I've never been turned down for a job for my skin color. I've never had anyone curse at me for being white.

I really don't have any idea of the amount of crap the average black American goes through week after week, year after year. But I have ears and I can read. Too many people say Black Americans are being "too sensitive" and "whiny" about having to put up with this daily abuse. (They say the same things about women as well). But I believe people when they say these things happen. How can you not? Frequent incidents like those in Ferguson confirm it.

So here's a tip. If you happen to find yourself having the types of thoughts that have been rampant on Facebook and comments in news stories about the tragic killing of an unarmed teen, how he was "asking for it" or that "those people are animals" or that black parents should "teach their children how to behave", just STFU.

If you were constantly hassled by the police, you'd be pissed off too.

If your son was shot dead by police for jaywalking, you'd be pissed off too.

If the police responded to an injustice by ignoring Constitutional freedoms and acting like a freaking army of occupation, you'd be pissed off too.

Until you've walked a mile in their shoes, you don't get to condescend.

Until we extend economic opportunity and equal rights to everyone, and while we continue to militarize our police, we will continue to create these types of situations.

Ferguson is our fault, not Michael Brown's. He's the victim.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Yeah, I think the old man's right

It's been cloudy for the past week, so, to my unhappiness, I missed both the "Super Moon" and the Perseid meteor shower. Tonight was the first clear night in some time and when I looked out my bathroom window a few minutes ago I could see a very bright, but normal sized, moon.

"That's no super moon," I said out loud to myself.

Before, almost involuntarily, following up with, "It's a super space station."

I'm such a geek.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

I'm sure the militias are about to spring into action

From Balloon Juice:
At the Bundy ranch, white anti-government militia wanna-bes pointed loaded firearms at federal employees and law enforcement officers in the support of a criminal, and nothing happened.

In Ferguson, MO, a young African American was killed by a police officer for jaywalking, and the city and county police have attacked the mostly African American citizens with baton rounds, tear gas, armored vehicles, and riot gear while threatening them with automatic rifles.
Where are all the 2nd Amendment open carry zealots to defend people who are actually under attack by an out of control government?
Exactly. Where’s the outrage on the right for jackbooted thugs taking away freedoms? Isn’t this what they’ve been talking about since 2008?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Ipecac Eats Burgers #10 - Flippin Cow

While we were in Indiana a couple of weeks ago, we went to a recently opened hamburger place in Elkhart, right on Simonton lake, called Flippin' Cow. See? Because they flip hamburgers on the grill? Flippin' cow?

Anyway, one of their burgers won the Best Burger in Elkhart County contest so it seemed like a no brainer to visit.

By the way, here's the award winning burger in Carol's hands, the Stella Moo:

That's a double steak burger with brisket, bacon, jack cheese and a bunch of other stuff.  

And because it was also amazing, here's Ben's burger, the Cheesy Uncle, which has mac and cheese and bacon.

Here's my regular hamburger.  I got the usual: ketchup, mustard, mayo, lettuce, pickle, onion. It doesn't look nearly as impressive as the specialty burgers.

Even though it was not as pretty as the other burgers, the taste was great. We will be returning on future visits.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Ian Fleming and James Bond

As I’ve written before, for the past few months I’ve been reading all of the Ian Fleming James Bond novels. As of last week, I was down to a single short-story, “007 in New York”, which is the last story in a book of Bond short-stories released after Fleming’s death.

Before I started the story, I discovered that today, August 12, 2014, is the fiftieth anniversary of Fleming’s death. I put aside my Kindle so I could finish the final Bond story on the anniversary. This afternoon, I read that story, an odd little narrative of Bond daydreaming about what he’ll do in New York City while on an assignment. The story ends suddenly on a humorous note, with absolutely no action, and with a recipe for scrambled eggs! So now I’m done.

I loved reading the Bond novels. Not only were they well written, interesting and exciting in their own right, but comparing them to the movies was a lot of fun. There are, of course, many differences and seeing the choices made by the filmmakers when adapting the stories was a fascinating lesson in filmmaking. The films Casino Royale, From Russia with Love, and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service are the closest to the source material, while Moonraker, Diamonds are Forever and The Man with the Golden Gun are probably the farthest. The films Goldfinger and Doctor No made notable improvements on excellent novels because the process of filmmaking resulted in tighter, more logical and action-packed stories. Reading these novels has made me excited to see all the Bond films again (even the Roger Moore ones).

Thanks, Ian Fleming.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Screwing your own citizens

Because of the Supreme Court, each state in the U.S. has the option of refusing to enact the Medicaid expansion contained in Obamacare, a program that costs the states nothing for several years and then only 5% after that. How is that working out for the 24 Republican-controlled states that opted out?
The 24 states that have refused to expand Medicaid are losing out on some $423.6 billion between now and 2022, according to a new study [pdf] from the Urban Institute and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The Urban Institute researchers have made projections for just how much money each state is implicitly giving up by refusing to expand Medicaid. Georgia is a good example. According to the Urban report, Georgia would have to spend an additional $2.5 billion over the course of a decade in order to finance its share of the Medicaid expansion. But the state is giving up more than ten times that—$33.5 billion—in federal funds.
Not only are these states hurting, and even killing, their own constituents, but they’re screwing themselves out of billions of dollars in direct economic benefits. More of their citizens will get sick and die and the economic impact from lost work and having to cover people in emergency rooms will take an additional toll. In any sane universe, the citizens would vote out their Republican overlords and demand the expansion. But instead, they’ll just reelect them.

But at least they stuck it to the President, right?

The Apparently Kid

I'm sure this has been all over Facebook, but I love this kid, so here it is again.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Lord of the Rings (again) and The Hobbit

Yesterday, for the third time in my life, I sat down and watched all three Extended Editions of the Lord of the Rings trilogy back to back. The movies ran from 10:30 in the morning to 10:30 at night. While we've done big group viewing parties in the past, this time it was just my family. Rachel and Ben were there for the entire thing, Carol missed part of the Two Towers.

My thoughts are pretty much the same as the last two times we did this. Fantastic films. Given that we're in the home stretch for The Hobbit trilogy, I was thinking about those films and the differences between the two.

The Lord of the Rings has only a few action sequences that are "over the top" (in the sense of being outrageous or unbelievable) and they all involve Legolas. In Fellowship, there's no moment  that makes you go "No way, that couldn't happen". In the Two Towers, there are two such moments, when a standing Legolas mounts a running horse, and when he surfs down the stairs at Helms Deep, killing as he goes. In Return of the King, there's only one, the famous "That still only counts as one," sequence where Legolas takes down an entire Oliphaunt and its crew.

But you know what? None of these was so over the top that they take you out of the film. All three moments are Jackson stretching his legs and having a bit of fun. None of them are so ridiculous that they show the seams of the filmmaking.

By contrast, the first two Hobbit movies are ripe with such moments. The encounter with the Trolls when the Dwarves wail on the trolls for three minutes and do absolutely no damage, the stone giants fighting on the mountains (carrying the Dwarves and Bilbo along for the ride), Bilbo's impossibly long fall, the dwarves escape and impossibly long fall from Goblin Town, the fight with the spiders, the ridiculous barrel fight, the fight with Smaug, and the impossible giant gold statue. All of these are so CGI and so over the top, they completely take you out of the film.

When I was a kid, the Rankin Bass Hobbit movie was on TV. It's really excellent and if you haven't seen it, you should. The sequence in Goblin Town was portrayed very closely to the way it's described in the book. Goblin Town consists of caves and as the dwarves escape, they're running through darkened tunnels. As a kid, it thrilled me. In Jackson's movie, Goblin Town is a huge, CGI monstrosity that not only couldn't exist in real life, it doesn't make any sense for the movie. And the action sequences that take place in Goblin Town are the same - unrealistic, and mostly unthrilling.

I appreciate that The Hobbit films have a different, lighter and more storybook, tone than The Lord of the Rings. It was absolutely the right choice. And I do love them, flaws and all. But the impossible, CGI action sequences take away from the story rather than add anything.

Some day, we'll have an all day watching of the Extended Editions of The Hobbit films.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Ipecac Eats Burgers #9 - Sonic Drive-In

On our way to Indiana, we stopped at one of my favorite places to eat, Sonic Drive-In, in this case, the Sonic in Hagerstown. I enjoy Sonic for the nostalgia of eating in a drive-in restaurant, the quality of their food, and because of the choices available on their huge menu. We've eaten at out of state Sonics for years. We're only just getting them in Maryland and the nearest one is still 25 minutes away so we don't go very often. This is a good thing because I would gain a LOT of weight.

This is the Sonic Cheeseburger, with no cheese. They don't actually have a Sonic Hamburger on the menu so I always say Cheeseburger without cheese. Often, it confuses them. Once, they gave me a kid's hamburger as something "comparable" according to them. I sent it back.

This is one of my favorite burgers. I love the taste and the burger is never dry. Plus, you're eating in your car!

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

All blind people are Daredevil

From the NRA (National Rifle Association) on Guns for Blind People:
Every law-abiding, blind individual should be able to have whatever guns they want. And if you disagree with that statement, you haven’t thought it all the way through and you don’t take your rights seriously enough. [...]
Do you think because they’re blind, they’re going to start shooting in every direction and kill everyone? Fact is, it’s been proven that people that lack vision have an increased awareness of their hearing and spatial surroundings.
You can’t make this stuff up.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy

Along with most of America, we saw Guardians this weekend. I am totally unfamiliar with the comic, but I enjoyed the movie a lot. Chris Pratt pretty much wins movies this year for his fun portray of "Star-Lord" here and his awesome voice portrayal of Emmet in The Lego Movie. (I smiled whenever Emmet's voice came through strongly). The rest of the cast is also good, with Zoe Saldana proving once again that she's one of the most photogenic, interesting people on the planet (or any planet). There was a bit too much verbal exposition in the movie, a problem shared by lots of science fiction movies, but it didn't bog down the story too much.

We've now hit the "second phase" of Marvel superhero movies and the fact that the universe in Guardians is the same as we've been seeing in the Iron Man, Thor and Captain America movies is all kinds of cool. Make sure you stick around for the post-credits scene for a somewhat stunning (and terrifying) character reveal.

Meanwhile, DC Comics can't even pull off a good Superman movie.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

2014 Summer Vacation Over

We're back from Indiana.

We (all save Rachel who stayed here to work) had a nice time visiting our family. Nothing terribly dramatic happened. We ate out a lot. We played a couple of games. We watched The Lego Movie (my eighth time) with my brother and his wife and they enjoyed it.

The trip home last night was really "good" for an 8+ hour drive. I felt "in the zone" so much that the traffic seemed like a well-choreographed dance with no surprises or close calls and I was actually wide awake, never having to fight off sleep. Often this drive, which we've made over 50 times, is incredibly tedious. But last night was actually kind of nice and went by quickly.

Now, back to life.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Delayed release

In Indiana visiting family.

Lots of outrageous crap going on like this and this and this. But no time to comment.

Outrage on hold.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Ipecac Eats Burgers #8 - Smashburger

Within the last year, a Smashburger opened in Germantown. Not surprisingly, I am always happy to see new hamburger places so we tried it out as soon as it opened. Since then, it's become one of my favorites.

The "Classic Smash"

This burger suffers from the proliferation of vegetable additives, so I have to tear off a bunch of lettuce before proceeding.

I really like Smashburgers. The meat has a great flavor and the whole thing is a great size. The egg bun isn't my favorite, but it's not thick and chewy which some buns tend to be. Overall, one of my favorites.

Friday, July 25, 2014


The trailer for Fifty Shades of Grey, the movie based on the bestsling book, came out this week.

I just realized that the guy's name is Grey.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Lunch Haunts - Under the Highway

My shop moved from our offices on Pennsylvania Ave. to the Constitution Center near L'Enfant Plaza a couple of months ago. I have just begun to explore the area in earnest.

Last month, I visited my favorite Smithsonian Museum, the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, and afterwards stopped at Independence Ave. and L'Enfant Plaza to take some pictures.

These first couple below are underneath the Department of Energy (DOE) which sits astride L'Enfant Plaza. I really like this type of broad boulevard with expansive views.

Looking the other way, you can see the newly repaired Washington Monument.

Interestingly, if I stood in the same place but turned the camera a bit to the left, the Washington Monument faded from view. I imagine it's due to the clearly changing contrast.

And here's the entrance to DOE. I also really like this type of overhanging building. It seems so retro-sixties futuristic.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

If these people are agin' it, I'm fer it

I don't know a lot about Common Core, the state educational standards enacted a few years ago to "inject some consistency into academic standards." I know that they rely on standardized testing, and that might be a good or a bad thing. Like I said, I'm not particularly knowledgeable about it.

But I do know that Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin and guest fake historian, David Barton, held a nationwide, live Fathom Events simulcast in theaters around the nation on Tuesday night to rally against Common Core. These are people who want to take taxpayer money, fund it into charter schools, kill the public schools, and teach creationism and fundamentalist Christianity.

That right there tells me that I should support Common Core. Because if those asshats are against it, I can't imagine I wouldn't be for it.

Oh, and "The event was sponsored by FreedomWorks, the tea party umbrella organization, and Liberty University, the Christian university founded by Jerry Falwell."

Yeah, I nailed it.

Ipecac Eats Burgers #7 - Woodside Deli

Woodside Deli is a small chain of Delis with locations in Silver Spring, Rockville and Germantown, MD. We go to the Germantown location on occasion and the last time we did, I ordered their Hamburger Royale. (In France, this burger is called a Quarter Pounder. Go figure.)

The Royale is a nice-sized burger, and not too big. As befits a deli, the pickle that comes along is really good. Unfortunately, whole pickles really don't work for me as I don't like having to slice them up to get them on the burger. In this case, however, I did.

The only real problem with the burger was the somewhat elastic consistency of the patty. I suspect it had been frozen, which isn't a huge problem for me, but the process does affect the texture of the burger. This was a decent but not great burger.