Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Agitator

Glenn Reynolds linked to this story about the over exuberant police force in Evansville, Indiana whose SWAT force tossed a pair of flash bangs through an old lady's front window in an effort to track down someone who was posting mean messages about them on the Internet (the police, not the old lady).  Proving that they couldn't even rise to the level of 'all thumbs', police chief Billy Bolin's force's target wasn't even at the house they raided and looted all the tech gear from; and then insult on injury they refused to produce a search warrant.  The story reported that "Authorities say it should prove their point, though". What point is that?  That they're nothing but a bunch of idiot thugs that are protected by the courts? Not to sit by idly, I figured out the police chief's e-mail address (hint: first initial, last name, i.e. and sent the following missive:
Looks like from this story that you are doing your best to give police a bad name everywhere.
"Authorities say it should prove their point, though."
Oh it sure does, just not the one that they want!
Your SWAT team should be dismantled. Using flash bangs against an Internet troll? I guess you would have carpet bombed the neighborhood had there been an actual threat?
Born from the crack wars, The Sandmich has cooled quite a bit towards the existence of militarized police forces like SWAT units.  It seems like a solution in search of a problem 99.9% of the time, be it no-knock raids on pot heads, or worse, the wrong houses entirely or bungling up the few things they're supposed to get right.  I fail to see what they're supposed to do that an ordinary police force can't.  (It might be argued that the existence of SWAT units provide their own deterrent, but I'd need some convincing of that).
Later I was reading that the busy bodies on the Parma Heights city council (the city where my underwater house unfortunately resides) decided to cash in on the 'texting' ban craziness.  The PD reports:
Texting or typing on electronic wireless communication devices while driving in Parma Heights is prohibited after City Council passed an ordinance banning those practices. The ordinance defines electronic wireless communication devices as including wireless telephones, text-message devices, personal digital assistants, computers, iPads or any similar device that is used to communicate text or data.
It goes without saying that I think this stuff is nanny-state bullshky, so I fired off an e-mail to my council person Marie Gallo (who is no doubt in the process of trying to have my street moved out of her district):
So changing the song on my iPod is an offense, but changing the radio station on the radio is not? Or does a radio with bluetooth in it count since it has wireless capabilities?
I'm starting to think that council is in session too much if they have time for this, aren't the laws regarding reckless vehicle operation enough? Guess not.
However, as an interesting addendum to that bit (none of these e-mails have gotten replies BTW), on the way home I was passed by a car that was violating the law in a MOST flagrant fashion. I was sure to alert the council person:
By the way, I noticed that the Parma Heights police officers utilize wireless enabled laptops in their vehicles; will they be giving themselves a citation each time they use the car, or only once per shift?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Beer Self Esteem

A friend linked to these dissolvable labels and it got me thinking about some beer labels that I had to remove.  For my latest four gallon batch of home brewed beer, I needed to clean up the many used beer bottles that I had sitting around.  Being occasionally extra anal, I also wanted the labels off the beer so that there would be no doubt that the product therein was my own.  It was interesting though how the different breweries affixed their labels and there seemed to be, in my mind, a correlation between the difficulty of the removal of the label, and the brewery's self esteem (or lack thereof).  First I soaked all the bottles in a tub of water and then went to remove the labels.  From highest self esteem to least:
  1. Russian beer: the fine Russian breweries obviously know that their stuff sells itself as the labels fell off the bottle when I removed them from the water.  These are mild flavored beers with roughly the same alcohol content as wine.
  2. Oregon micro-brews: these beers had great taste and a desire to recycle as their labels scraped off with minimum effort.
  3. Sam Adams: A bit of work with the plastic scraper was need to get the labels off of these bottles of somewhat drinkable beer.
  4. Dos Equis: Starting a trend in Mexican beer that desires never to be forgotten, the Dos Equis labels were like the Sam Adams labels with twice the glue.
  5. Modelo: kindly donated to my cause by my brother-in-law, these beers must have been intolerably awful as they had gold foil glued to the neck and a front and back label adhered with some sort of epoxy resin.  I gave up on the plastic scraper and used a razor blade.
  6. Corona:  The label cannot be removed as it is painted on.  This is done so that someone will not mistakenly think that they were double charged for their Bud Light.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Rot of Federal Law Enforcement

There's stories aplenty on this, such the government's inability to keep people from walking across a patch of dirt:

Each year illegal immigrants leave behind an estimated 2,000 tons of trash—including soiled diapers, plastic bottles and abandoned vehicles—in public Arizona lands along the border, Darwin said, and it’s becoming tougher to clean up the huge mess. “These are dangerous areas,” Darwin told the panel. “These are known areas of illegal immigration, illegal drug trafficking.”
Of course the Obama Overlord doesn't help when he goes out and gives lawbreakers get out of jail free cards, and health care, and a free education, and so on.  Makes one wonder why they try to stay within the letter of the law anyway.  "Destroyers of civilization", that's what Obama and his ilk are.

On the same token, one was to wonder why law enforcement bothers.  From this story John Derbyshire makes the following point:
Back to that [illegal immigrant] Hispanic couple in the forest. An outfit called the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project complained to the Agriculture Department about their treatment. You know, of course, that any group with "immigrant rights" in its title would not lift a finger to help me, who is certainly an immigrant; its entire purpose is to make a nuisance of itself on behalf of illegal Mexican immigrants.
That complaint went through the bureaucratic machinery, and this week we got a ruling from Dr. Leonard's office. Ruling: The Forest Service violated the Hispanic woman's civil rights by calling the Border Patrol to translate for them. It was, said the office, "humiliating" to Hispanics and furthermore was an illicit way to capture more illegal immigrants, which of course nobody in our federal government wants to do.
Got that? If a law enforcement officer from one Federal agency calls for assistance from the Border Patrol, which of course is another federal agency, someone's civil rights just got violated.
This makes sense to the federal government in the Age of Obama.
And then on top of that Stacy "the other" McCain notes that the FBI can't be bothered to properly investigate the left's harassment via law enforcement of their critics:

Is the FBI incompetent? Or — I hesitate to suggest this — has the Justice Department become so corrupted that even the FBI’s hard-won reputation for integrity has been compromised?
A question worth pondering perhaps, but don't worry as the FBI are hard at work tracking down crimethink (h/t Glenn Reynolds):

“Two FBI agents showed up here with a picture of Zimmerman asked me if I recognized him,” said gun dealer Khaled Akkawi, who was listed as a witness in the case. “They were pretty much asking along the lines of if he had made racial comments or anything."
So Obama/Holder have pretty much set out:
  • Black Panthers and lefties can harass whoever they want with impunity, along with that person's family and neighbors.
  • Illegal immigrant and other favored law breakers (Jon Corzine, etc.) get a pass.
  • Anyone who dares to take issue with Obama or who he views as an enemy will have their taxes audited, the SWAT team 'mistakenly' sent to their house, cleverly edited "news" stories done to vilify them, and federal law enforcement sent around to see if they had any 'naughty thoughts'.
Well, what could possibly go wrong.

Read more here:

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Attack of the Summer Movies

Or at least some of them.  I was amazed when I was outside of a nearby theater and I realized that I could sit through all eight movies on their marquee.  I might not love them, such as schlock like Battleship, but I could sit through them.  Alas time is short so I've only seen four.

  • That Snow White Movie - Whereas teen girls could trick their boyfriends (maybe) into seeing a vampire movie, the crew that brought us Twilight has given us a movie where the boyfriends can turn the tables.  Featuring a Lord of the Rings level of medieval themed action, and 2D characters to hold place settings throughout the movie, this one ranks as 'watchable'.
  • The Avengers - Actually better than I thought it was going to be, and I thought that it was going to be pretty good.  I'm puzzled how Joss Whedon pulled off a a great look at so many complex characters, including the villain, while the Snow White and the Huntsman director couldn't pull off the same feat with half the cast.  This is obviously a movie that shouldn't be missed.
  • Men in Black 3/III - This one was definitely a surprise.  Rather than pulling the same action/comedy movie stunt and adding more characters to the storyline, this one is actually a bit stripped down and relies heavily on the modern day Abbot-Costello routine of Smith-Jones (who is aped well by Josh Brolin for better than half the movie).  I wasn't a big fan of the other two, but this one I genuinely liked and I consider it the best of the MiB bunch.
  • Prometheus - What was that deal the bit at the beginning?  And the bit at the end?  And all the bits in between?  Shorter than it wanted to be, and longer than it should have been, Prometheus makes the case that Ridley Scott has actually only made one good movie, Alien.  I know, I'm a fan of Blade Runner too (well, you probably aren't), but let's face it, the directors cut of that film is art house sci-fi.  In fact, that may have been where Ridley Scott went wrong as he may have internalized Phillip K Dick's writing strategy for his novels: a string of set pieces and ideas that are strung together in a barely coherent form.  Although I have to admit, I have no idea where Ridley Scott picked up his love of staring.  Tolerable to sit through once, but like Gladiator, you'll wonder why you did.
Staring...staring!!!  I hated that woman-character from her first appearance.  Guess who lives through the whole movie!  Prometheus would have been much better in it was just the android character (right) walking around the set as the eye candy is the only reason to show up.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Drunk Blogging

Whenever I'm ill disciplined and feel that I need proper guidance, I miss my sister.  Whenever I feel that I lack the proper motivation to clean and craft my house I miss my sister.  Whenever I feel a little short in the 'brain focus department, I miss my sister.

As well, whenever I need an honest discussion I miss my sister.  Whenever someone that will tell me that my laid back attitude is okay I miss my sister.  Whenever I need blunt insight I miss my sister.  Whenever I want to get my drink on I miss my sister.

Did I mention that I have two sisters? ;-)

On a different note, that post about US Airways was my 1000th post, believe it or not.  I scanned through, well, half the posts.  I still stand by my thought that I'm genuinely proud of probably no more than a dozen of those posts.  I found several named after songs, movies, video game characters, and even anime in an effort to be cute, but I'm afraid that creating genuine, intellectually challenging content is much harder than I thought it would be ;-)

Anyway, the bourbon has run out of my glass, be back later....

Monday, June 04, 2012

US Airways Fail

Over the past several times, whenever I've flown out of Cleveland-Hopkins (CLE), I find myself flying the reconstituted United-Continental airlines.  Since I have their credit card, I can check a bag for free, and their service (such as it is in the modern airline industry) has grown predictable to me.  Over the past six months on several flights they've gotten me to where I needed to be within the time that they promised, and although the flights have been packed I've never had to wait through an airline lottery because they overbooked.  Of interest as well is that Mrs. Sandmich had a flight that was delayed slightly due to maintenance issues and it still got to Cleveland on time.

When purchasing her ticket for a flight to New York, our guest daughter Sally purchased it from US Airways.  I was going to denigrate this decision out of hand, but a quick check of flights in the future, booked with the same lead time that she used, shows that US Airways is $100 cheaper (about 1/3 less expensive).  This sounds like a steal, if they actually happen to get you to where you are going.

Sally had a brief layover in Philadelphia on her way to New York and she called to say that the flight was delayed by an hour, which already sounded ridiculous as a cab ride was within striking distance of beating the flight at that point.  She later called to say that it was canceled and when Mrs. Sandmich called US Airways it turns out that the cancellation was due to "congestion"; in other words US Airways over-scheduled their gates and the small flight from Philly to New York drew the short straw and was canceled. I have to wonder if this is something that they're in the habit of doing: playing the lottery with their customers time in the off-chance that they can get every flight in and out of the airports in a too-tight time window in the hopes that they'll win big bucks.

With her flight canceled, Sally was given the next best option: a flight to Reagan National in DC that was departing in about thirty minutes (she found out that her flight in Philly had been canceled around 8pm), and then a 7am flight from Washington to New York.  Now the main issue that I have with this is that Philly to New York is two friggin' hours away driving, but it was going to take US Airways nearly 12 hours, and more than 18 hours total to fly her there (which is actually more time than driving from Cleveland to New York!).  Sally initially said that she would take that ticket, but then seconds later when she conferred with her uncle in New York, she said that she would cancel out and try to get her bags since her uncle said that he would drive down from New York to get her.  Mrs. Sandmich was on the phone with US Airways and got them to cancel her two checked bag fees and, generously enough, her flight from Philly to New York.

That left me puzzled.  US Airways said that they couldn't refund the flight from Cleveland to Philly since that was "consumed".  They're not selling milk though, they're selling a destination; as if they get the option of getting you to a destination whenever they feel like it and however they want to go about it once you set foot on their plane.  It's like with any sold service: half finished isn't "half finished", it's completely unfinished.  Would anyone buy a half done haircut or a half done engine rebuild, it'd be better for the service not to have been performed at all!

To add insult on injury, one of Sally's bags found it's way onto the flight to DC (I should point out that Sally said that she could have more easily understood if both her bags went).  US Airways was kind enough to fly it up to New York and and charge her $50 for the honor of having her baggage get to her too late to accompany her on her flight to China so that she then has to pay again to have it shipped to China.  Mrs. Sandmich called to complain but US Airways stands steadfastly by their crappy customer service, that they went over and above in getting someone half way to her destination and getting her baggage all messed up.