Wednesday, December 31, 2014

China Travels One

Well so much for live blogging since the Chinese government has done it's best to rob every bit of fun that they can out of the Internet.  I write this passage using a bit of light technical chicanery that allows me to remote on to my home computer.  Otherwise, Google, VPN sites, Twitter, and others are outright inaccessible while other huge swaths of the internet crawl since no one bothers to set up distributed caching servers on the other side of the Great Firewall.  It brings to mind the description that I read of this book where the author puts forward the idea that China will be perpetually bottled up in a no man's land between the third and first worlds due to their government.

Along those lines, one might be afraid of police in America since they're so citation happy, but Chinese police, oof, I don't care for those dudes eyeballing me at all.  It may be better for clueless natives, but I can feel those dudes sizing up my organs whenever I walk by them.  I should point out that one needn't come to the Far East for such a fun experience though!  Before getting on our flight bound for Toronto, (where the connector to our China flight was located), some U.S. stormtroopers stood in the terminal tunnel interrogating citizens as to how much money (specifically) they had on them.  These are the jackasses that shouldn't exist: State troopers who can take your cash for laughs under the guise of trying to stop drug money laundering (something which has obviously been a rousing success).

The flight?  Ah yes, fifteen hours in an aluminum tuna can.  Mrs. Sandmich expected the usual spartan airline experience and packed about ten pounds of food (I exaggerate of course, it was probably only 9.5 pounds).  Little did we know that Air Canada serves two and a half meals along with a rolling beverage service (I sucked down four beers without much thought before my bladder told me that I should probably hold off).  As usual I couldn't sleep, so I hit the ground ready to pretend whatever time it was supposed to be.  So let's make with some photos, presented in no particular order:

$100 water pots, a basic requirement due to water quality.  I remarked to Mrs. Sandwich that we go into our American appliance stores and find inexpensive Chinese appliances whereas in China they have crazy expensive Japanese appliances.  Anyone in the mood for a $200 electric rice pressure cooker, or perhaps a $700, 50 liter hot water tank?  I have the store you then.

A major intersection in town, note the lack of any traffic signs

Part of a typical, Chinese construction production.  I don't know enough about large scale production to know if their approach (which appears to be heavy with the use of wood staves) is good or bad.

Sally's dad's new house.  The construction is glass and concrete.  Even small houses are built this way so I guess cement is easier to come by than timber.

Older ladies exercising in the evening in the city's main square (it's a "town" by East Asian standards, but would be a major metropolis anywhere in America).

Santa is everywhere

A winterized scooter (some are electric jobbies that are completely silent)

The arrival area of the Shanghai airport.  Maybe I don't travel enough but I've never seen that many people waiting directly outside of an arrival gate.

In what at one point in time was probably a fishing village.  Every spare piece of dirt in this area had a vegetable of some sort growing in it and the gardens were quite impressive.

Well that's enough of that.  It took me all day to crank out this post over my painful faux vpn connection and I doubt that I'll have the patience to do more until I get back, sorry!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

December Notes


So they finally won a prime time game and, alas, my travels will prevent me from seeing the next two Bengals games.  Argh!  Perhaps though, the secret to the Bengals success will be me not watching them in their playoff appearance, though more likely their success will be related to how much they can get away with not having the inconsistent Andy Dalton throw the ball.  Yeah Marvin Lewis isn't as good as the NFL coaching elite and Dalton certainly isn't as good as even near-elite quarterbacks, but they sure go to the playoffs a lot.  A special thanks to Mike Brown for not pulling a Dan Snyder and firing everyone because the team didn't go 15 and 1.  That's a recipe for eventually going 1 and 15.  (If they manage to beat Pittsburgh on Sunday night, something I that doubt will happen, the Bengals will have won four AFC North titles under Lewis, which is four more than the Browns over the same time frame, which is even more remarkable given how many Super Bowl wins his division opponents have racked up).


Yeah the Chinese language is it's own special form of screwed up.  The grammar isn't automatically intuitive, but isn't bad (and is forgiving if it gets goofed), the vocabulary is limited since it lacks noun/verb conjugations (for the most part, certainly nothing like the screwball 'past pluperfect/action verb' combinations needed in Spanish for something like "I was going to the store yesterday because I was going to buy some meat for tomorrow, but then I changed my mind and decided that I would get it next week.").  However what it does have is tones which even those who know nothing of the language are passingly familiar with due to recurrent jokes ("You'll ask for water in China and get in trouble because you actually asked if their mom is a horse, haha!").

It's not so bad since (hopefully) since context should clue natives into the desired word, but the problem is that the sentence structure needs to be (mostly) correct so that the context can be properly ascertained.  There's a few examples (the derivations of 'ma' are rather notorious) however even something as simple as water (shuǐ), whom (shuí), and sleep (shuì) can get confusing, especially since (and this is really hard) one has to remember NOT to put the English tones on the word (for questions, etc.) since they're the same.  Oh well, not quite sure why I'm bothering since I'm sure I will forget it all shortly, except for the word for beer.

International Womanizing

Along those lines, it seems that every piece of language training software circles around the idea of the salaryman sitting in the bar ("Ask the woman if she would like a drink/Ask her where she would like to go to get a drink/Order two beers/etc.").  Really?  Does that crap work?  "Hey baby, I can barely speak your language, but let's forget about that and go get wasted at the hotel!".  I need the domesticated version with fun stuff like "I need to do laundry", "Please cook something that walks", and inevitably, "I have dysentery".  I guess that kind of thing won't sell too many volumes though.

Man Cave Game Review

I didn't play that many games of note this year.  I guess if I had to pick one winner out it would be Borderlands 2 since I sunk some serious time into that game (though it only really shined when I was playing online with people who aren't jerks, which can take some doin').  I'd like to speak for a moment about game called Bulletstorm, though.  In fact that Wikipedia article sums up the noise surounding the game when it was released some years ago:
[T]he game was targeted because of its profanity, crude behavior (examples of which including the game's skill-shot system, which has a move that rewards players for shooting at an enemy's genitals), and sexual innuendo. [Foul language as well].
When playing through the game the reason for such hatred became obvious: they hated it because it was a game unabashedly targeted towards men, heaven forbid!  I could describe the following scene that sums the game up nicely, but it's best to just check it out yourself, crank it up!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Fall Movie Time

John Wick

Keanu in the process of removing brains from Russian mobsters

Don't let the sandwich score fool you, this movie was an enjoyable romp and it's single fault was that it was just too easy to make: Keanu get's cheesed off, Keanu kills everything that moves.  Revenge crime movies like this used to be more prevalent back in the Death Wish/Dirty Harry days, but their current scarcity has made them all the more delicious (note in the picture this is the first time that I've seen the Kel-tec shotgun outside of an NRA mag; BTW, don't shoot a shotgun like that, you'll be deaf).

During the course of the movie there is a scene where someone is playing a shooter video game (spoiler: he dies) which I found interesting since the loose justification for the slaughter in the movie can only be compared to some video games where the protagonist's lack of caffeine or whatnot is used a justification for killing off enough combatants to field a respectable third world army.


True Astronaut 

This is a hard review since I knew within minutes that viewers of this movie would either love it or hate it. I will admit that I bring a lot of baggage to this movie in that I'm both a Christopher Nolan fan  and a sic-fi fan.  If you're a fan of neither then, well, you'll have to wait for the next Madea movie, loser.

My fear was that with the long runtime of this movie that this would be an overindulgent art flick.  This fear wasn't entirely misplaced since the Nolan's third Batman movie suffered from the fact that the director was given too wide of a berth in which to dock his epic comic book film.  Somehow, though, Interstellar doesn't waste any scenes and the length of the movie is hidden behind excellent movie making.  It may not be the most entertaining Nolan film (something that's given to personal preference), but be it dialog, soundtrack, character development, special effects, set design, story, editing, etc., this may be Nolan's strongest film to date, which is saying something considering his already impressive back catalog.

Of special note is that this is a big movie and probably only the largest, most outrageously expensive, home TVs would be able to do it any justice; if you're given to see it, try to check it out on the big screen.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

All Right!

Looks like I'm going to make my blog post for the month.  I am, of course, liquored up at the Denver airport, so enjoy! (This should get worse as it goes along...)
I get a couple of complimentary passes to the United Club with the credit card that my work is kind enough to cover the service fee for.  Anyway, I accidentally scammed a few extra passes (that's what they get for using USPS) and upon this visit their bottom shelf beer taps are busted so their top shelf one's are free, yay!  So much for avoiding beer to lose weight.  (Note for future, go to western United Club since it's more empty than the east, even though it's like a one minute walk between the two).
Speaking of beer, I was at work out here and wanted to pick up a growler on the way back to my "place of rest" (PoR) and I wanted the brewery to be close.  It turned out there was a new one right around the corner.  It was, of course, crowded, even though it wasn't even five o'clock yet.  I'll also point out that this is one of four (that I know of) microbrews that's within ten minutes of my work (to say nothing of the countless breweries that I pass on my way back to my PoR).  I'll also (also) point out that this place is in the middle of an industrial park, miles away from any restaurant, etc.  Isn't there a saturation point for micro-breweries?  Especially in health-minded Colorado?  I mean, in perpetually drunk Cleveland, maybe, but who in Colorado is drinking all this beer?
I've recently kicked my workout up a slight notch to 30 minutes of weights and 50 minutes of cardio, every other day.  My ever skinny brother got back from his run and he remarked that he worked out for 45 minutes.  "Not much", I thought.
"How far did you go?", I asked him.
"Six miles.", said he.
"Were you on a bike?!?", said I.
I've been in Colorado for a week for work and my boss came in from Cleveland late on my second to the last day.  I've had conversations like this before but it came up again:
Boss: "Hey, you been missing us?"
Me: "..."
Me: "Oh yeah, beennnn, hating every moment of this living hell away from my bosses and Cleveland weather, can't wait to get back!"
Boss: "Yep, can get kind of lonely out here."
Me: "Oh yeah, so much camaraderie back in the home office where no one bothers to show up for work."
Boss: "Of course there are more people out here.."
Me: "yeah..."
Boss: "...and you do have a lot of equipment out here to maintain..."
Me: "Look, just...stop now unless you really want to know I was lying and that I want you to go away and me to stay."
As usual Hertz had me penciled in for a Chevy Malibu (hooray), but instead I ended up with a Toyota Camry (or, given my bro-in-law's employment situation, the 'Joe Mobile').  Nice set of wheels, but my favorite part was going over 400 miles on a tank of juice (14.620 gallons).  Also nice is that it had no problem getting up to someone else tells me...
I recently found myself quality checking a college course for my alma mater.  There was a time delay between when they said that I was approved and when I started and in the interim I had forgotten why I had agreed to do it.  Aggravation set in when I realized how much of a PIA it is check both the coursework AND the technical underpinnings of an online course.  "What was I thinking?!?" was all I could think.  I ended up combing through old emails and discovered that the reward for the QA job was a $200 American Express card.  As anyone who knows my methodical nature when it comes to software QA, I knew this amount wasn't going to come close to minimum wage (maybe, MAYBE, half).  My mistake; WGU will have to do what they usually do: have the students QA the coursework.
Lastly, there's a subject that my one brother felt that I should bring up: clinical depression (have fun guessing the brother, ha!).  Oh so much fun!  The reason being that he appears to get spells of this from time to time and his theory is that it is genetic since I suffer from the same symptoms, absent narcos.  I could go around and ask all my siblings, but that's like, work, and given the stigma of clinical depression I might not get honest answers even from those that I love the most.

"Depression" is actually a bad word for clinical depression since it really doesn't involve being "depressed" per se.  My brother referred to it as his 'little dark friend' which is more apt.  For those not in the know, it's like staring into a pit of nothing, not darkness, because that's something.  It's just a void that cannot be filled, with anything; a mental blind spot.  People see things that make them feel angry, happy, sad, ambivalent, but, imagine, if you can, seeing something that makes you feel nothing.

When I would have symptoms I would often have a 'dual brain' issue where I was crying on one hand, but had no idea what I was crying about on the other.  The classic physiological cause is a lack of dopamine processing in the brain, which can also lead to lack of sleep, PLMD, and other, remarkably less fun, symptoms.  I never had thoughts of self-destruction; I'll must be point out that such thoughts can result from the symptoms of clinical depression (imagine not sleeping, at all, for years), but aren't from clinical depression itself.

Please note that this is not the same as people being depressed about something.  Of course someone could have both (oof!).

Anyway, I bring this up because what sticks in the back of my mind is a friend of a friend who had severe mental health issues like this and ended up committing suicide.  To those who don't know what it's like, this is taboo.  However, to those who do, unfortunate that it is, this poor person died from severe clinical depression just as sure as if they were to die from an inoperable, malignant tumor: it was beyond their power and everyone else's to avoid.

Drugs and other therapies do have their limits, but it's worth a shot to chase off any 'little dark friends'.
Oop, gotta got, especially now that I've switched to bottom shelf gin and tonics.  Later Sandmich fans!  (both of you).  Check my Twitter feed for (mildly) more frequent updates.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014


At least it's not a chocolate fountain I suppose...

Monday, September 01, 2014

Drunk Blogging 3.1

Hot on the heels of the LA school districts flame out with their iPad program, the local school district has decided to double down and do iPads and MacBook Airs.  Upon mentioning this to my boss she informed me that all the students at the local parochial high school will be getting Google SpyBooks Chrome Books, or whatever they're called.  Ordinarily I am very much against technology in the classroom, seeing it as little more than a gimmick with which to make the school seem 'edgy'.  Upon further thought though, I am of the mind that, perhaps, the time has come where it might work (though not in LA of course).  The issue I see is that by the time many of these kids even hit kindergarten they have now spent their early formative years reading and learning already on tablets.  I can see such children receiving their basket of hard-copy books and wondering "WTF is this?  Fred Flintstone's school?"

The problem is that many schools are a little behind the tech curve and that accepting technology is more disruptive than they may be willing to accept.  It can work, but not within the current paradigm, which since it is on the verge of failure, maybe the time has come where our robot teachers will finally be accepted.
How about that ISIS?  I can almost, sorry not happening.  The main issue with governance by fundamental Islam is that it's self defeating: even the communists accepted the fact that technology would need to be stolen at the very least.  With Islam it's all or nothing.  It can feed off of the world in which it exists so long as it is not the sole arbiter.  Within any isolated sphere in which it does exist, ignorance reigns and it becomes easy prey for those who, you know, don't have a religious aversion to reading a manual on 'how to drive a tank'.
I have a very insightful brother, and let me preface this by saying that this isn't like my previous 'sister' drunk blog where I didn't even know the answer when I was quizzed about it later.  This one is pretty obvious.  For the purposes of this post I'll refer to my brother as 'Jimmy'.  Anyway, after a few Knob Creeks I was thinking that I would have made a very poor Jimmy, despite the fact that I received some very light training in that vein.  If everyone was a 'Jimmy' it would probably make for a better world, but then it would make for very poor employment prospects for Jimmy.  Or would it?  Perhaps he would be that much more wise to the world?  Eh, guess it doesn't matter, I'm just that much more thankful for him.  I mean, I guess I can provide...whisky tips if my siblings ask for them, but, you know, if you want real wisdom....

Thursday, August 28, 2014

IT Garbage

At work I occasionally get computer related stuff that has to be junked, so I wonder what URL I should check to dispose of my IT related scrap...
Must be a joy to tell people their e-mail address.

Monday, August 11, 2014

It's On!

This post put it much better than I could:
As if that weren’t enough trouble for the world, the president of Azerbaijan is threatening war with Armenia, the World Health Organization last week declared a global health emergency for the ebola epidemic on the West African coast, all-out war looms between Russia and the Ukraine, Secretary of State John Kerry continues to broker a nuclear deal with Iran, the results of the Afghanistan presidential election remain in flux, Boko Haram continues its terror attacks in Nigeria, a bloody civil war still rages in South Sudan, attempts at a ceasefire continue to break down in the Central African Republic as an Islamic insurgency fuels sectarian clashes that have left thousands dead, and attacks by the Somali terror group Al-Shabaab in Kenya exacerbate deep political divisions.
Although I must point out that he missed the situation in the Ukraine, the ongoing rock disputes in East Asia, the re-bankruptcy of Argentina and the fact that nuclear arms are secured under the failed state of Pakistan.  It should also be pointed out that there's a looming death of the Financial Bubble to End All Financial bubbles.

The news is certainly full of items that are no fun but fear not: in charge of it all we have the worst elites in possibly the history of the world that are going to guide us through these perils.

And on an unrelated note:

Thursday, July 03, 2014


First off, setting up the bomb:
Bockscar, the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima as seen by the Sandmich at Wright-Pat
Ooof, the only thing more difficult than dropping that bomb was getting the picture of that plane out of iPhoto, Ha! ha, um, next...


I wanted to mention the noise about places like Target and Starbucks frowning on people 'open carrying' firearms in their store.  This puts them in the same category as radical companies like, oh, the nearby gun shop.  Open carry has it's place, I suppose, but as a self defense measure it's stupid.  Adherents liken it to having security sign on the front lawn and a big dog in the house.  It's all that, along with a post-it on the sign with the alarm code and a side of bacon to feed the dog.  The effective deterrent of concealed carry is the possible threat but if a criminal can see where the firearm is they can plan how to negate it (or worse, take control of it).  This would get complicated, along with much else, if everyone was open-carrying, but you see what I'm getting at, perhaps....

Lastly, some video game noise:
Devil May Cry 5


I was like a lot of other people in that my love of the previous games biased me towards wanting to hate this game.  The previous games were strange ducks in that they were English language games developed by some great minds within Capcom in Japan.  After the last title was (in my mind unfairly) maligned Capcom turned the game over to a British development studio.  I have to say that the results are fairly spectacular.

I'll step back for a second and note that I played this game with a note of sadness in that one day in the not too distant future I will be too old and slow to play a race car of a game like DMC5.  This game has the smoothest combo system of any brawler ever (including the likes of God of War and its many, many clones).  With the exception of a few boss fights there was never a time where an enemy landed a hit on me where I could blame the game.  The developers give the players all the tools that they need to completely control any situation, provided that your reflexes are up to snuff.  Some days are better than others: on one particular replay through a level I played like my hair was on fire and was slicing and crushing enemies like they had something bad about a pizza that I had made and it turned out at the end that I had played through the whole level without being touched.  Unfortunately most of the time I found myself grunting "oof, should'a caught that, perhaps twenty years ago...".  

Anyway, top notch art, music, challenges, and most of all, gameplay; it's not to be missed if you still have the chops to pull it off.

Unfortunately, I do have to shave some points off since the later boss fights feature copious 'unfair' hits and something about the story didn't sit right with me; just a light touch of Bush Derangement Syndrome along with a force play at the end to make sure that the story fit with the Devil May Cry canon.

Remember Me
NeoParis can never hope to be as good as NeoTokyo

Which brings us to the brawler made by a French studio.  The French aren't too dissimilar from the Japanese in that they can't help but bring a whole truckload of their historical baggage to any story-telling experience.  At different times in the story class warfare is played up, along with smugness within the rebel cause, snooty indifference from the ruling hierarchy and, of course, a storming of the NeoBastille.  Unlike DMC5's ultra smooth combo system, the system used here is all French dictate which features a series of button presses which must be pushed in the proper order and timing in order to work.  Where DMC5 rewards button pressing ingenuity and freedom, Remember Me punishes any drifting from the rigid control scheme.  With that being said, this game is gorgeous as some art department poured their heart and soul into this title (rarely has in-game art so closely matched the concept art).  As well, whereas most video games get loose with the story as the game progresses, I thought this one actually tightened up and surprised with an ending that inferred the superiority of individuality over the statist "ends justifies the ends meme" that can crop up at times (Asian games being especially egregious offenders in that department).

Points chopped off for the nasty combo scheme and, ugh, copious 'expository dialog'.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Drunken Airport Blogging

As if there was any other kind of 'airport blogging'.  I recall the famous professional skeptic James Randi remarking about how he never drank because he did not ever want anything clouding his mind.  Now that's some dedication, bordering on mental illness in my mind.

When I was at my departure airport (and not sauced, not good for business to show up drunk despite what Bill Clinton's memories might say) I again thought about my love of the airport.  There's the term 'future shock', and I would think that airports would be a perfect manifestation of that: being able to near-instantly transport to anywhere.  It's a credit to the human race that many people who sit in airports wonder where their stinking 'space ports' are; and if there were space ports, nothing less than trans-dimensional gateways would do!

The view from the Timberline restaurant at DEN
Yes, with airports the fact that I could show up and go anywhere, anytime....
Well almost anywhere.
Mrs. Sandmich and I used some frequent flier miles to purchase round trip tickets to China for "Sally's" sister's wedding.  After moving miles around, etc. it ended up setting us back $200 for the tickets.  Okay, not bad.  However, what is bad is the $200 per person fee plus four pages of documentation (per person) for a travel visa in order to enter the 'peoples paradise'.  I saw that and thought "why doesn't China just pull the trigger and ban travel outright?".  As documented by The Sandmich, they're already recalcitrant about letting their own people leave, but what does it say to a two week visitor when there is a novella worth of information and a flight-worthy fee just to get in?  Compare this to places like the Dominican Republic which has signs at their airport that basically say "Got money?  Come on in!".  If it wasn't for a friend of the family getting married and the fact that I might be missing out on the biggest party that I'll ever attend in my life I'd tell those ChiComms to screw off.
On that note, how about some language?

While traveling in Colorado on my latest spell I thought of my hour long travel both ways to my brother's family's place where I stay, to the plant where I work.  I thought that I could stay at a hotel instead and be there in fifteen minutes, and then since I was by myself I could drive up to see my brother's family and drive back that night and...well that doesn't make any sense, best just to stay an hour away.  I can't complain much at all since there's someone who actually works at that plant who makes that drive every day of their lives.  The drive I could do, the $60 a week gas bill I could not though.

Anyway, while driving I feel like I should expand my mind by listening to language classes from iTunes U.  Last time I tried to relearn some Spanish (especially helpful in Colorado), but my mind begged for mercy and a return to A State of Trance.  "No room in the inn" I could hear the gray matter screaming.

Not to be deterred completely, since I scheduled the trip to China I decided to do some Chinese audio lessons.  What a cluster-F of a language.  In the past, while listening to Sally talk to her dad it sounded like she was constantly asking him questions (the tone most typically heard in English when someone says "Really?").  It turns out that is one of four vowel accents used to differentiate vowels and words.  For instance, the words (as pronounced in English) "pa", "pa?" and "pa?!" are three different words (there's a forth that's barely different from the first).

"Okay" I figured, I get it, nothing too bad.  Then I listened to the lesson that taught how to count from zero to ten (which is actually irrelevant when it comes to East Asian languages).  But I remarked to my brother that if I listened to that lesson all week to and from his house that I might be able to count to three.  It's odd since two of the numbers are the same as Japanese.  It's almost as if the Japanese said "nice language you got there Chinamen, we'll take these handful of words and you can keep the rest of that hot mess".
So I of course purchased the HD version of Final Fantasy X (review forthcoming).  I played it all the time at home.
Back into the...whatever it's called
Also of course, when visiting someplace as scenic and interesting as Colorado I would want to do something more interesting than playing any silly video game...until I learned that my brother who turned me onto the game more than a decade ago was playing it as well.  I'm sure my sister-in-law was amused to no end to see her husband and 'future version of husband' sitting around for hours on end playing a redux of a twelve year old video game that we'd both played already a couple times between us already.
'Beautiful People'
Just to wrap this back up before I wolf down a steak at the Timberline that isn't past due, I thought I'd make another airport remark.  Most, I would say north of 90% of the people, dress and prepare themselves as if flying is still something special.  I recall a whole article in United's Hemisphere's that detailed how men should properly dress for transportation via air flight.  I can't say as I follow any of the advice (typical jeans-dockers-untucked dress shirt hipster look), but it's nice to know that somewhere in the universe, some level of standard is being maintained.

Thankfully they didn't mention anything about the proper sobriety level as I get ready to stumble to the gate; ready for a three hour flight of illegal bootlegs of amazing BluRay rips of Cowboy Bebop and trips to the bathroom...

Monday, April 28, 2014

Pseudo Cash

 More than a few people know of the cover Johnny Cash did of Nine Inch Nails Hurt.  Recorded late in life, I can recall the DJ who played in when I first heard it remarking that it sounded like Cash poured soul into it and produced a product that was in many ways better than the (already pretty good) original.

Cash had made another somewhat famous cover in the late ninties that I wasn't aware of: Soundgarden's Rusty Cage.  The reason I didn't know of it was because I always thought it was a Cash song from the moment I heard, it having a sound much like his original works (though with the volume turned up).  Likewise, U2 produced a song titled The Wanderer which they commissioned Cash to sing, and also which I thought was a Cash song given it's sound, but was in fact original.

Anyway, I bring this up because Amazon has an album out on sale that has all those and more for a mere $5.  If nothing else, it's worth checking out The Wanderer, perhaps one of the few pieces of modern art that has a mild anti-socialist message to it.

Feigned Outrage

Last week that Bundy character in Nevada made some comments that (very sloppily) equated blacks being on the government welfare cycle to slavery.  This point isn't new by any stretch and it has in fact been made by black people themselves.  The point has already been made that Bundy is not the model case for fighting Federal power (though maybe perhaps for taking issue with it); and it's rather unfair to expect that every American will posses pundit-levels of verbosity and quick thinking when a reporter starts quizzing them.  Never the less, that didn't keep the self righteous prigs who make up the current incarnation of National Review from writing pages long critiques about how outraged ("outraged!") they were at the remarks.

Do they really care?  It's not as if Bundy was positioning himself to be a spokesperson for their cabal.  The best I can figure is that they did it so that when they show up someplace and some high-minded idiot makes mention of it they can then mention their screed that they posted to denounce such an animal; and then they can all be friends.  Heaven forbid they're challenged on this and they say "I...just don't care, sorry".  I guess if you're in the pundit business though, you better have a well formed opinion on everything, and it better be the 'correct' one.

Along those lines is the owner of the Clippers who, I guess, made some very racist remarks.  I haven't listened to them so I'll take their word for it.  Sportscasters are the worst when it comes to speaking to such things though.  Steve Sailer had mentioned in the past that sportscasters work in profession where racial differences are glaringly obvious for all to see, so therefore they have to engage in a never ending kabuki-a-thon where they pretend that racial differences do not exist.  We can now expect years of sports commentators talking about how much they hate 'Jimmy "The Greek"/Richie Incognito/Whoever Owns the Clippers' in order to prove, not how much they hate them, but that they themselves would never be guilty of such crimethink.

That's irritating enough, but what irritates me more is why someone who hates black people so much thought that it would be a great idea to buy an NBA team.

Friday, April 11, 2014


So GM has put two engineers on paid leave, and then named them publicly, because that's what a classy joint does to people who have little to no responsibility for the screwed up nature of their organization.

A little back story first though.  I work for a company that has at times been a third tier (in terms of position, not quality) supplier to the automotive industry.  It's something we generally don't do because the buyer (or I should say, the buying committee) will want everything under the sun; generally yearly price cuts and the ability to shove warranty claims down the chain in a 'guilty until proven innocent' agreement.  Some people were surprised by the word that GM wanted Delphi to eat warranty claims even if the issue was because of GM's design.  However, this is par for the course for the big three especially. 

More to the point however, the rot of government ownership is showing through in GM's production.  Sure they aren't technically owned by the government anymore, but I'm sure there's a feeling that another bailout will be in the offing for when they screw up again.  What would one expect of a government owned car company?  Perhaps dangerous design defects?  That are then covered up?  That are then scapegoated out to a few employees that drew the short straws?  And then without fixing any of the issues that led to the problems to begin with?  It's very difficult to overstate how huge and incompetent the bureaucracies are at these organizations even when they're not involved with the government.

Put a fork in that beast.  A real bankruptcy with a real clearing of the air may (may) have set GM on the road to future success, but there's no where to go but down for a government manufacturing business.  It won't be long before GM cars are (completely) manufactured elsewhere and rebadged under their old brands like the French and British government car makers of old.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Spot the Spam

"It looks odd, but I'm desperate for business so..."

Fober LTR is the most famous manufacturer of paints and wall hung gas boilers from Romanian market.More about us you can find visiting our website" "
We are interested in purchasing some barrel type commutators for electric forklift's motor.
i'd like to send you a drawing with dimensions of that item, so please send me your email's adress., to contact you directly .
Hopping in your early reply,
Kind Regards,
Purchasing Dept.
eng.Cristina Butnar
"Paints and 'wall hung gas boilers'?  What could possibly go wrong?"

[Update: I changed the name of the company, but this message actually turned out to be legit.]

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Full Bluff

ZH notes a Russian advisor who said:
"We hold a decent amount of treasury bonds – more than $200 billion – and if the United States dares to freeze accounts of Russian businesses and citizens, we can no longer view America as a reliable partner,” he said. “We will encourage everybody to dump US Treasury bonds, get rid of dollars as an unreliable currency and leave the US market.”
Sooo, you sell your US Treasuries in your quest to destroy the dollar and in doing so you now no longer have ~$200 billion in Treasuries but ~$200 billion in US dollars.  Now Mr. Ruskie, what are you going to by with all those greenbacks since the whole reason that you bought Treasuries to begin with wasn't out of kindness but because you did not want to buy anything else.

The hope on his part, I guess, is to drive up interest rates to the point that America would have to fully monetize it's debt and radically devalue, if not destroy, the dollar.  This could only happen if they were to cause a panic since the Federal Reserve, as ZH notes, would have those Treasuries sponged from the marketplace in three months tops.

Thursday, February 20, 2014


There have been reports of speed issues with the Netflix streaming service (a service which consumes more bandwidth than even the hog-rific bittorrent).  Supposedly some ISPs are throttling the service and of course Netflix has the opinion that this is out of spite.

However, professional ass Karl Denninger has what is probably the best take on the situation.  Mulling it over I figured that his point could be simplified even more.

One can imagine their local city streets and what would happen if, say, their neighbors got addicted to furniture.  Every day big box trucks are clogging the streets to deliver another furniture fix.  Of course it wouldn't be long before the city would slap down time and/or axle restrictions; throttling the deliveries if you would.  This isn't out of spite, but a self defense mechanism since streets are expensive and not everyone wants to pay outrageous sums so that their neighbors can get a weekly batch of sofas.

Some have come back at Denninger with the, not outrageous come-back, of "well myself and my neighbors all love furniture and we pay a proper amount for streets sufficient for the trucks so they shouldn't throttle deliveries".  In his point though, Denniger carries this analogy out to the Netflix business model: what about the next town over, do they want to pay for roads so that neighboring towns can feed their furniture addiction?  What about the state?  Do they want to extract extreme taxes from the populace in order to supersize the highways to accommodate an ocean of box trucks?  Highways all the way back to whatever far-off warehouse that the furniture originates from?  Or perhaps, should the furniture factory shoulder some of that cost?

In the real world trucks pay a ton of taxes to cover their size and weight so that (hopefully) the roads that they're on can be properly maintained.  Netflix, though, wants to play the crooked property developer where they build a giant mall and pawn all the infrastructure costs off onto others.

*Full disclosure: The Sandmich household subscribes to Netflix and other video streaming services; give me truckload of furniture dammit!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Kokopelli Gun

I never put this together until this trip to Colorado, but not too infrequently I see little lawn ornaments, stickers, etc. of what turns out to be something called kokopelli:

However over at one of the plants, someone put their metal working skills to good work improving the model:

The rifle is mightier than the flute.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Monday, January 06, 2014

Notable Quotables

While plowing through e-books I'll regularly highlight portions that I find clever.  Below are a few quotes that I'm pulling from my various e-readers.

In the book The Forever War a space marine recounts his first encounter with the extraterrestrials that he's tasked with fighting:
I didn't want to see them dead, but I'd just as soon not have seen them in any condition.
An interesting metaphor to be sure; I'm sure troops sent to Africa carry a similar train of thought!

In a passage in Martian Time Slip PKD predicts the dawn of academic "paper chasing" wherein people become more and more educated for more and more menial work (keep in mind the book was written in 1964):
He himself had emigrated due to his having only a B.A.  Every door had been shut to him, and then he had come to Mars as nothing but a union plumber, and within a few short years, look at him.  On Earth, a plumber with only a B.A. would be raking up dead locusts in Africa as part of a U.S. foreign aid work gang.
Only those with their PhDs in plumbing will be accepted!

In Metro 2033 the protagonist who lives in a post-apocalyptic Moscow metro system, comes to the realization that mankind will never reach the heights that he once had:
Only now did he start to sense how far man now was from his former achievements and conquests.  Like a proud soaring bird, mortally wounded and dropping to the ground in order to hide in a crevice and, having concealed itself there, dies quietly....
Now, when Artyom himself was able to evaluate from what heights mankind had fallen into the precipice, his faith in a beautiful future evaporated once and for all.
One does not have to survive a nuclear war to have that opinion.  I'm sure inhabitants of Europe during the dark ages didn't have that different of an attitude.
Within the Metro system in the book are various factions which adhere to every ideology under the sun. The most successful and enviable clan is the one that controls the ring and when the protagonist, who had survived fascists, cultists, communists and other near-do-wells comes in contact with this clan it turns out to be controlled by a clan which espouses free markets and individual success.  This clan is careful to keep its success close to the vest and is leery of letting anyone in, to which the protagonist remarks in regard to immigration:
The number of places in paradise is limited; only in hell is entry open to all.
In the book Roadside Picnic a comment is made in regards to the inevitability of the types of "trades" that some men fall into:
Pigs can always find mud.
Elsewhere in the book a comment is made in regards to the deviation to ignorance (or more kindly, "normalcy bias") that the vast majority of people default to:
He knew that billions and billions didn't know a thing and didn't want to know and, even if they did find out, would act horrified for ten minutes and immediately forget all about it.
At the back of the book, the author makes some comments in regards to getting his book published.
On commie control freaks who kept the book from being published for many years:
I don't even want to mention them here-let them be swallowed up by the past, like evil spirits, and disappear...
A statement on small minded control freaks (PC zealots, I'm looking at you):
The only people who boggle at what is perfectly natural are those who are the worst swine and the finest experts in filth.  In their utterly contemptible pseudo-morality they ignore the contents and madly attack individual words.

In Starship Troopers, the character played in the movie by Michael Ironside goes on a pages long rant against communism, all of which is very good but too much to quote in full.  However, along the way he also makes some social commentary; on the failure of criminal justice, specifically in regards to juveniles:
As for 'unusual', punishment must be unusual or it serves no purpose.
On social workers:
...except that the time-tested method of instilling social virtue and respect for law in the minds of the young did not appeal to the pre-scientific pseudo-professional class who called themselves 'social workers' or sometimes 'child psychologists.'  It was too simple for them, apparently, since anybody could do it, using only the patience and firmness needed in training a puppy.
What inspired this post was an excellent line from the PKD novel Counter-Clock World:
I mean, we all lie to ourselves; we tell our own selves more lies than we ever do other people. 

Sunday, January 05, 2014

(Not) At the Game

The Doctor sends me a link about the NFL blacking out local games if they're not sold out.  I know out-of-towners are always amazed by the fact that for the entire time that I've lived in Cleveland and watching the expansion Browns these past 15 (15?) years there has never been a locally blacked out game.  In this case it's interesting because even though the games are not blacked-out, the Browns have no issue selling tickets to fans who don't mind paying exorbitant fees to go freeze while watching a mediocre team.

A few weeks ago I almost sucked it up to go see the Bengals throttle Minnesota but I called off when Mrs. Sandmich said that she wasn't interested.  And why should she be?  The best and least expensive tickets I could find were on the NFL's resale service for $80 a piece (original price closed in on $100).  Add in parking, beer, driving to and from Cincy and the total toll would be closing in on $300.  My fallback plan illustrates the issue that the NFL faces as instead I went to BW3 and got to watch every game in HD and racked up only ('only') an $80 tab after tip for myself and Mrs. Sandmich.

The article at the link though points out the fact that the NFL derives some government favors in the fact that they can selectively blackout their games (point probably being that the NFL can choose not to broadcast the game at all, but ordinarily wouldn't be able to selectively blackout individual markets).  The question hanging in the air though is whether there is even direct correlation between blackouts and sellouts.  

In Ohio the two teams suggests that there may not be.  Cleveland fans seem to show up no matter what.  On the other side of the coin is Cincinnati which has fielded a respectable team for the past ten or so years but regularly doesn't sell out games.  Some of this might be political (many years of intentionally poor PR by Bengals owner Mike Brown has turned many potential fans into enemies) or the janus style* of play and coaching of the Bengals; but the point stands: blackouts do not help the Cincinnati Bengals sellout games any more than the threat of blackouts hurt the Browns chance of selling out games.  The point could easily be made that blackouts hurt ticket sales since a game that's not on doesn't exist to the casual fan.

Of course the game that shocked a lot of people this week was the Green Bay game which also needed corporate saviors to sell-out.  This is a team that has no issue selling out regular season games but couldn't get their fans to show up in horrible weather for a playoff game.  Many a commentator pointed out that in December, even "sold out" stadiums would be half empty (I know the Browns always suffer from this late in the season when "sold out" games are embarrassingly empty), so the actual interest in attending may be overstated.

What's the fix?  This seems to be one of those sports conundrums like the 'designated hitter' or 'all-star games' for which there isn't a very good answer.  Ideas that I've heard include more TV screens so that those at the games can watch other games or angles of the current game, more personalized service, official support for more vibrant tailgating (most munis seem to discourage tailgating), more manageable prices (riiight), and more indoor venues (because despite the love of "real football weather", no one actually likes to sit in it).  

I must confess that I'm probably not the best person to help with this since none of these ideas get rid of what I hate most about attending sports games in general and pro events in particular.  Whenever I get free tickets (typically from a vendor) my mind despairs at the crowds, traffic, parking, etc. that make even lightly attended Indians games a painful maze to navigate**.  Homebodies, alas, are probably not the target audience for sports game attendance.

*Marvin Lewis has been a great coach for the Bengals compared to what they had previously and is far preferable to what other teams, and especially the Browns, find themselves going through year after year.  That being said, it seems like he can never get his team to show up when it really matters.

**It's interesting that when it comes to parking and traffic, Cincinnati has, in my experience, been pretty good in this regard.  The number of highways and parking garages make getting in and out for games rather effortless, but that fact doesn't seem to help Bengals ticket sales either.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Year End Notes

Video Gaming 2013

Running a year late as usual, my favorite video game of the year was Far Cry 3, many a critic's game of the year for last year (2012).  The gameplay is so solid that I played this game through several times on every difficulty despite my issues with its story.  I even picked up the O-K Blood Dragon version which is a re-do of the game with a somewhat 80s theme (as visualized by people who were born in 1985).  All good fun.

I also played through the Bioshock series and got to the end without seeing what all the hype was about.  Sure they had a deeper story than most video games, but lets face it, that's not saying much.  Beyond that the combat is clumsy and crowded (a lot of fights felt like I was dropped into my bathroom with a dozen Al Qaeda dudes) and the well done artwork seems to go nowhere, like an end unto itself.

Running up for my game-of-the-year-that-I-played was Infamous 2.  A minor tweak to the "evil" (and/or "good) ending would have made it one of the greatest games ever, but the fact that it took an easy way out turned the game into a bit of a retread.

A closer runner-up is the latest iteration of Deus Ex.  Yeah all the endings were dumb, but this game felt like one of those great PC games from the late nineties/early singles.  It has that rare combination of linear gameplay and freedom of movement that makes a game completely engaging.

Death by Lethargy

Unfortunately at the moment I'm suffering from rather painful lower back pain.  I know that you're thinking that I pulled a muscle while moving a dresser full of clothes or hauling orphans out of a burning building, but it's actually more mundane.  I get a week and a half off for Christmas and this year we decided to be lazy homebodies.  Not that I'm usually a model of overactivity, but I guess my non-stop video gaming/football watching couch potatoism (with occasional trips to the liquor store gym) took a toll and my back got bent out of shape from sitting on the couch too much.  Oof, a lesson that I should travel during my break to be sure!
Another Year, Another Dollar

How about that Obamacare?  How about that (lack of) global warming?  How about that knockout game?  It seems like the media occasionally, and begrudgingly gets off their duff when issues get too big to ignore.  Still in the "ignore" bin is the poor state of the economy and the overhang of worldwide debt.  My workplace is going to match even more 401K money.  I'm torn on this since it's free money from work but every government on the planet has telegraphed the fact that they plan on destroying these plans in some way, shape, or form.  I dunno, I guess I'm stuck with the status quo for now since alternative options aren't all that great either (ironic!).