Butchers take on Vegans

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Butchers take on Vegans - Imgur


If Beer Ads Were Honest

Monday, October 21, 2013

Continuing on the beer theme:

If Beer Ads Were Forced to Be Honest -- powered by Cracked.com


Your beer may be furloughed.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

It's bad enough that people are being laid off, we may default on our debts, children aren't receiving medical treatment, ,but now this government shutdown may impact our beer. This means war. From the Detroit News:

"...the shutdown has closed an obscure agency that quietly approves new breweries, recipes and labels, which could create huge delays throughout the rapidly growing craft industry, whose customers expect a constant supply of inventive and seasonal beers."
I hate fall, but love me some seasonal beer. Damn you Republicans, Damn you all to hell!


In the HOPper

Thursday, October 03, 2013

This weekend, I keg the Wheat Ale I brewed, and in another week, I keg the Saison.  Those ought to turn out fine, and perhaps we'll hold a few bonfires and invite people to help drain the kegs ASAP.

This is important because of the next 3 beers I have coming-up:

1) Spiced Pumpkin Ale.  This will be my first attempt at a pumpkin ale - including using real pumpkin in it.  Going for a hint of pumpkin pie, not this-beer-is-too-sweet pumpkin pie.

2) Bourbon Barrel Porter.  I brew porters frequently; most notably my Maple Syrup Porter.  In this, I have some bourbon barrel oak spirals that I will put in the fermenter to infuse that bourbon-y character I'm after.

3) Spiced Winter Ale.  Nice basic copper-colored Brit "bitter" brewed with beautiful, aromatic mulling spices.  Looking forward to this one!

More details as they come, but you should all at least be informed of what my kegs will contain this Fall/Winter.


Sci-Fi In Six

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

I recently stumbled across a great Tumblr called Sci-Fi in Six.  It is just that:  science fiction stories told in six paragraphs or less (I highlighted this Tumblr on my last post here, Another List of Power).

I've sifted through a gob of these.  Like any site of this nature, some are poor, some are wonderful, intriguing, deep, or fun.  I'm considering submitting one of my own.  What do you think:

Ensign MacGould stood surrounded by the throng, a grin starting to spread across her face. What started as hair-raising, skin-crawling fear was fading quickly, replaced by amusement. 

A taller being adorned (so to speak) with much more...foliage...than the others, made its way with what could only be described as reverence through the seething mass who even only moments ago seemed so threatening. The well-adorned being stopped, wide...eyed, and promptly fell on its face in front of her. It held up its appendages and spoke, or rather, made some noises that MacGould associated with a bad cold and the sounds of vomiting. 

Immediately, the throng around her fell to their faces, and repeated the sounds, gag for gag, hock for hock. Over and over and over.

And MacGould stood in her impeccable white uniform surrounded by the sounds of a sick-bay after an epidemic wondering if, all these millennia and millennia ago and worlds away, this is how it all started. 

She grinned benevolently. And maybe opened her palms just a little. 

’What's the harm,’ she mused. 


Another List of Power

Saturday, September 28, 2013

In this next installment of self-aggrandizement, I'll share some of my favorite web sites.  From science and social-science blogs to my favorite webcomix, the list below is what occupies my internet time when I'm not watching the YouTube vids I shared last week.

This week:  Best of the Web.

The Best (IMO) of the Web

Besides for our favorite blog friends (Streak, Mrs. Furious, Mr. Furious, us), here's a couple blogs I enjoy in no particular order:

What If?
From the cartoonist of XKCD (see below) comes his blog whereby he answers wild and weird questions from whomever emails him.  He picks the most fun or intriguing, and using a combination of good science and wild-assed guesses, he does his best to answer.  This site is so fun.  My favorite:  the first one that kicked-off this site.  Relativistic Baseball.

It's Okay to be Smart
This is the Tumblr that started the YouTube Channel I shared last week.  Joe got his start blogging his thoughts, linking to cool and engaging science, and generally celebrating what we know and can know about the universe.

The Drunken Moogle
The blend of Geek culture and adult beverages.  This guy makes up mixed drinks based on popular video game and geek culture.  He also links to interesting nerd-related drinking apparati (pint glasses with superhero capes, shot glasses etched with Game of Thrones sigils, etc).  I might or might not have some of the glassware listed there...

One of my favorites, second only to What If, above.  It's a blog run by women, whereby they discuss feminism, atheism, secularism, science, pseudoscience, and skepticism.  Their commentary on feminism is especially thoughtful and engaging and makes me think really hard about my privilege and how I might come across, and my own latent sexism that I don't even recognize.  Challenging stuff.  I love their takedown of internet trolls.  They have a daily "Skepchick Quickies" post that always links to fun, angering, enlightening bits, beautiful of teh interwebz.  They've created some spin-off sites as well; one of them is Mad Art Lab.  Beautiful art based on scientific principles.

Sci-Fi in Six
Quite simply: science fiction stories told in 6 paragraphs or less.  Fun! Little tastes of much bigger stories.  Concepts come to fruition in just a few sentences.  Worlds revealed that make you curious for more.  Love this kind of stuff.

Tiny Little Love Stories
Whoever runs this blog is sick.  A sick, sick bastard with a sick sense of humor.  And I love it.

What I really enjoy about webcomix is that they can be examinations and critiques of our world presented in a way that finally makes sense.  Humor blasts through things that make us so mad or concerned.  Laughter in recognition of our own faults is wonderful medicine.  Here's some of my faves.

Questionable Content
It's hard to describe why I like this comic so much, but I'm hooked.  It takes place in an alternate Earth, where much is the same as ours but there are other advancements that are much different.  It allows Jeph Jacques, the author, to introduce interesting concepts, characters, and technology without it being a big deal why.  Other than that, it's a "slice of life" comic with characters I like a lot.

The comic is over now, or at least for now.  It's storyline has been resolved, but left open if Nate Piekos, the author, ever comes back to it.  I hope he does.  But it's worth going to the beginning and reading through.  Fantasy comic, funny, subtly picks fun of typical fantasy tropes while being an engaging comic.

Smart-assed, snarky humor mixed with old hand-drawn comics in the Victorian style.  Bizarre and hilarious comic.

Do I really need to describe XKCD?  If you're not reading it, you're not a nerd.  And you don't care.  This is the grand-daddy of webcomix.  Sometimes, to get the math or computer programmer humor, I have to use Google, but that's not often with this one.  Brilliant.

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal
Sometimes updated multiple times a day, this comic is hilarious, twisted, sick, poignant, and everything in between.  I love how the author plays on common concepts.

The Oatmeal
Another funny, insightful comic.  One of the best, actually.

Enjoy all this as much as I do!


ATK List of Power

Sunday, September 22, 2013

It takes a ton of work to be as nerdy as possible.  From SCIENCE to fantasy/sci-fi to video games to the best of nerd tv, I figured it's finally high-time to come out of the basement (closets are reserved for other comings-out; nerds seem to be basement-based), engage in some self-aggrandizement, and share with anyone who cares (which is really no one) the various ways I find to entertain myself and stay on top of being the biggest nerd.

This post: YouTube Channels.

The Best (IMO) of YouTube

Founded by nerd icon Wil Wheaton and his equally nerdy friend Felicia Day (of The Guild fame), Geek and Sundry is kind of an uber-collection of various contributors.  My personal favorites on the channel are Wil Wheaton's TableTop, in which he plays wonderful board games with his friends (tv and movie stars, fellow YouTube-rs, etc), and Felicia Day's 5-minute-episodes of The Guild, a fun bit of fic that follows a group of MUD users who are online "friends" in a world much like World of Warcraft.  

TableTop has introduced me to many of the board- and card-games I own; it is actually a great way to see how some games work in a crowd; kind of a risk-free play test.

Using stop-animation whiteboard illustrations, physics concepts, chemistry, and science in general is explained in 1- or 2-minute clips.  Never have Relativity and other complicated concepts been explained so simply and elegantly.  Bonus:  my kids watch it with me, and are able to "get it."

Join Destin and his various underwater and high-speed cameras as he demonstrates and explains physics stuff.  This usually involves guns, bullets, explosions, and breaking things.

Another "use short vids to explain awesome science" site, but well-edited, well-done, and engaging.  Kind of Myth Busters-like in editing and use of science (just without the prove/disprove aspect).

Minute Physics, but this time:  biology!

These guys find a fun or a my-mind-just-got-blown fact, and explain it.  Sometimes deep, always well and simply explained.

VSauce with an animated whiteboard.

A few teachers offer "crash courses" in higher-level concepts - including biology, US History, economics, world history, ecology, and chem. "Reconstruction and 1876;" "Westward Expansion;" and "Equilibrium Equations" are just a handful of the many vids on this channel.

PhD Biologist Joe Hansen's YouTube channel, based on material from his very popular Tumblr of the same name.  He won a big grant from PBS to make his Tumblr content available in vid format.  I like his videos quite a bit, and he's got a decent online presentation style.  His Tumblr site sometimes waxes a tad philosophical - drippy sometimes - but I'm almost always guilty of the same. 

A couple more that I watch on occasion:
These couple of sites are less accessible than the ones above, so I watch them less often, but they are no less fascinating when I'm in the mood:

My kids have responded well to Minute Physics, ASAP Science, Minute Earth, and Smarter Every Day.

There you have it.  These channels are what I call church on a Sunday morning.  A hot cup of coffee, kids playing quietly as the house wakes up, and these vids.  Thought-provoking, fun, fascinating, funny, and celebratory of geek culture.  I hope you like them.


Syria Question

Friday, September 06, 2013

Am I the only lefty who thinks it was a bad idea for President Obama to ask Congress for a resolution authorizing military action in Syria? (Over Syria?) I am not asking if the military action itself is a bad idea, I just don't think the President should have gone to Congress about it.

What do ATK's 1.6 million liberal readers and 2.3 conservatives think?


Game Review

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

The Geekbox "Comedy Button" reviews church as if it were a video game.


I Have Tracked Him Down

Monday, August 19, 2013

I know that things have been pretty slow around here. I have started a new job and managed to track down a real, honest to good superhero. He is hiding out in the Far East. Here is his ID:


You Can Be My Wingman Anytime

Monday, July 22, 2013

Joel and I caught the Sunday morning viewing of Pacific Rim.

Everything you need to know about this movie can be gleaned from Top Gun.

In fact, I am 90% certain you could take the lines from Top Gun, voice it over this movie, and it would largely make sense.

Fortunately, Joel and I are Top Gun fans, so we enjoyed the movie for its entertainment value and for the fact that we tried to pick which Top Gun lines and characters would apply to a given scene or character in Pacific Rim.

The acting was actually decent (nothing like this unspeakable travesty), and the story was well-conceived, though formulaic.  But you can't go into a Giant Summertime CGI Blockbuster expecting Oscar material, except for maybe the CGI.  Largely, the storyline for Pacific Rim was a delivery vehicle for CGI fights between giant 50-story robots and 50-story alien creatures.

And. It. Was. Awesome.

But it had it all:  diamond-in-the-rough hot-shot pilot with a personal tragedy, the Ice Man, the incredulous Commander always busting the hero's balls, the uncertain "co-pilot" (each robot is piloted by 2 troops, who must be able to establish a mental and emotional link for the robot to move), the forces of good on the brink of defeat, a faceless bureaucracy ready to dismantle the world's best chance of defense, on and on.  There's actually, as Joel and I discussed, plenty of room for a series based on this, given the rich back story only hinted-at in the first 15 minutes of the movie.  Pacific Rim for sure has way more style points and predictably-satisfying scenes and outcomes, but damn...it's fun! And I can't say enough about the CGI. These fights looked and felt real without the herky-jerky, hard-to-follow Transformers fight scenes.

Now, I kept it short on the review because that's not really my goal with this post.  Go see Pacific Rim; I plan to take my 8-year-old to see it, who will probably go apeshit for it.  My goal is this, reiterated from the 2nd sentence of this post:  everything you need to know about this movie can be gleaned from Top Gun.

Pick any movie about pilots, piloting big machines, and maverick-y heroes, and they all stem from Top Gun.  Top Gun, IMO, is the progenitor of that type of movie.  These pilot/co-pilot, fantastic machinery flicks follow the Top Gun formula devised by late MSU professor Jim Cash.

This led our discussion to:  all cop movies stem from Lethal Weapon (the uptight 'gimmie your badge and your gun' commander whose past turns out to be strangely similar to the hero's, the cop-on-the-edge, the reluctant but faithful partner who is wounded or dies, etc).

No point on a summer Monday other than:  discuss.


My Mid-Life Crisis

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

So my team of maniacs has now signed up for the Iron Warrior Dash on September 21 in Walker, MI.  Ity is the same day as the Warrior Dash, with a couple key differences:

  1. The Warrior Dash is a 5k; the Iron Warrior Dash is 15.6 miles.
  2. The Warrior Dash has 12 obstacles; the Iron Warrior Dash has 24.
  3. The entire Warrior Dash if, again, a 5k; the Iron Warrior Dash has a 5k smack in the middle of it just for fun.
The Tough Mudder was a really good time, and weighed-in at 12.4 miles.  Not too shabby.  But it also wasn't a timed event; rather, it was a "can you finish" event.  Yes, apparently, these 40-year-olds can indeed, thank you very much.  The Iron Warrior, however, is a timed event, so not only is it about finishing, it's about racing as well, so we're all training a little harder to get our run times a tad faster.

I took a look at the obstacles for this event, and they look a good deal more physically demanding than the Mudder, which varied in terms of difficulty and relative misery.  Really, the obstacles along the Mudder were more designed to make you dirtier, wetter, and more miserable as you went along.  These look to do the same, but involve much more climbing, hanging, and relative strength/endurance.  Lucky for us, at least 2 of us on our team have years of experience being wet, dirty, miserable, and tired.

Bob asked how one trains for this.

First, I have gone over to the insane asylum and do Crossfit.  Here's my gym.  Regular gym guys who like to scream through 8 bench presses and then sit on the bench for 5 minutes between sets flexing or watching Sports Center like to disparage Crossfit because it involves a lot of leaping, Olympic-style lifts, and bad decisions; they think it looks silly or that they get better results.  But I submit:  the Marine Corps was the first branch to switch their entire fitness regimen to Crossfit, and now all the branches use it to keep the troops in top shape.  I've never been in such good shape (down to 184 lbs now!!).  And the guys who crushed the Tough Mudder?  Every one of them wore a Crossfit gym's shirt.  Every guy who was walking by mile 4 and skipped obstacles?  Muscley-looking dudes in Fitness World shirts.  But I digress:  a typical Crossfit "WOD" (WorkOut of the Day) might look like:

2 times:

  • 200 M run
  • 30 jumping jacks
  • 20 air squats
  • 10 lunges

  • 5 x 1 push press (think: standing military press), increase weight every set to achieve 1-rep maximum (mine is 180#)
15 minutes, As Many Rounds As Possible (AMRAP); each round consists of:

  • 12 push press (50% of max)
  • 12 pull-ups
  • 24 air squats
Done.  In and out of the gym in 40 minutes.  And it's all I can take.  Check out my gym's site for more examples of just how well Crossfit conditions your entire body.

Then, I mix-in running.  I kinda-sorta use this site as a rough week-by-week guide of how far and how many times a week I need to be running to get myself to the half-marathon mark.  But as aggressively as Crossfit works me, I break-down my Crossfit and Running schedule: odd weeks - Crossfit 3 days, run 4 days; even weeks - Crossfit 4 days, run 3.  2/3 of my runs in a week are 5k, some at a slower pace to "feel" the pace I need to survive a half marathon, and some at a blistering pace to push myself and my limits, which ultimately makes the "slower" pace faster and faster.  Then the remaining runs I have in a week are longer distance, starting at 6, then 8, then 10 miles.

Then the week before the race?  1 or 2 light jogs, some nice brisk walks around the neighborhood to keep the hips and ankles mobile, some light, basic, "open gym" work at the gym just doing some light basics, a solid deep tissue massage and hot tub soak about 3 days before.  The day before?  Nothing much at all, and eat only meals I am really familiar with and have eaten many times before.  Hydrate like MAD to the point where I have to piss on the hour every hour.

Now, with diabetes, I have to watch my sugar.  Hours and hours of physical exertion can threaten to leave me hypoglycemic.  So I load up on good, diabetes-friendly carbs (whole grains) and protein bars and shakes to further slow the absorption of the carbs.  For instance, the night before the Mudder:

  • Dinner:  grilled salmon over a double-helping of mixed greens, Sesame dressing, whole-grain roll
  • Snack: Popcorn (it's a whole grain!)

  • Race time: 11:40 am
  • Breakfast (6:30 am): 1/2 C Egg Beaters mixed with 2 T hummus, 1 C low-fat Greek yogurt topped with 1/2 C granola
  • 8:30 - Protein bar, with dark chocolate
  • 10:30 - Another protein bar with dark chocolate
  • 11:20 - Gu packet
Every 45 approximate minutes of race time: Gu packet

"Hypoglycemic" is a blood-sugar level of less than 70.  45 minutes after the race, after I was finally hosed-off enough to do so (but my body was still, after all that, burning energy like crazy), my reading was 83.  The race company offered Cliff protein bars just past the finish line; in the future, I'll take advantage of that just to get my levels to a comfy 100 or so.

And that is how I prepare for these "adventure races."


Too Many Craft Beers?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Time Magazine Asks: Are There Too Many Craft Beers?


Don't the big two or three beer producers in the U.S. have like 90% of the market share?

No, there aren't too many craft breweries as long as they are making a few bucks and there are more Coors drinkers to convert.



Wednesday, July 03, 2013


Tough Mudder 2013
12.6 miles
20 obstacles

My team of 4 - a distance runner, a Marine, a Ranger, and a Navy Corpsman - did it in just over 3 hours.  Loved it so much, we're headed here in September.

Smitty's mid-life crisis apparently consists of joining Crossfit gyms and running in "adventure races."


Still The One

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Mrs. Smitty and I woke up this morning, nearly 24 hours after SCOTUS' DOMA decision, and we found our marriage still intact.


What's Love Got To Do With It

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What is love?

Well, apparently, according to SCOTUS, love is love.

This is a good day.


Progress Check

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Good news from the doc.

I took a blood test recently.  The best, most ideal indicator of how "under control" diabetes is is the A1C test.  It's in essence how much of your red blood cells have sugar attached.  When sugar is attached to your blood cells, it's harder for them to squeeze into smaller capillaries like in your feet.  One reason why diabetics with out of control disease lose their feet:  blood isn't getting in there.

The A1C is a better indicator than the day-to-day glucose test I take, because that's a reading based on hour-by-hour eating and fasting.  The A1C is like a 3-month snapshot average, thus providing a really good glimpse of just how under control the disease is.  I can fake a day's worth of little finger-prick tests if I do shit like eat a boatload of sugar then take a couple shots of vodka, or eat a loaf of bread then do an hours-worth of wind-sprints.  You can cheat the gluco-meter.  You can't cheat the A1C.

A "normal" non-diabetic person would have an A1C result of somewhere between 4.5% and 6%.

My blood test:  4.8%.


The doctor has put me on metformin, an oral drug with huge benefits.  He has also taken me off of insulin.  Further, my metformin dose is half the regular dose.  The goal is to even some day work me off of metformin.

Metformin isn't fake insulin.  In fact, it works specifically with my body's own insulin, which I'm producing some of.  From a med journal:

Many people may wonder, "How does it work?" Metformin belongs to a class of drugs known as biguanide medications and works in several ways. The medicine reduces the amount of sugar made by the liver, limits the amount of sugar absorbed into the body from the diet, and makes insulin receptors more sensitive (helping the body respond better to its own insulin). All of these effects cause a decrease in blood sugar levels. Since metformin does not increase the amount of insulin produced by the body, it is less likely to cause dangerously low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), as many other diabetes medications can do.

It also reduces my long-term risk of heart disease, a common co-occurring disorder with diabetics, and vastly reduces pancreatic cancer risk.

This is huge.  No more shots.  My body is working again.  Other diabetic risks diminish both because of my diet and exercise and because of this med.  I tend not to get hypoglycemic during my completely insane workouts now.  

I'm really pleased, and really proud.


Some Good News About Crime

Friday, May 24, 2013

Despite the best efforts of the NRA to get rid of all gun laws and arm criminals, there is research that suggests we are on track to having the lowest murder rate in 100 years. This is also reflected in data that just looks at gun crimes. Interestingly enough, the same study shows that Americans believe that gun crime has been going up. This doesn't come as a huge surprise. Media saturation of violent events probably leads many people to believe such events are commonplace. I am not going to speculate to why this has gone down. As Jay has said on more than one occasion, it is very difficult to pick out causal factors when you are dealing with something this complex.


Craft Beer Week

Monday, May 13, 2013

Christmas is nice and all, but around these parts of the web, our Season of Joy is American Craft Beer Week!

This is a week of celebrations and revelry from Coast to Coast, border to border.  Click here to find events near you.

There's a manifesto.

At 8:00pm EST this Thursday, there's a nation-wide toast.

And don't forget to change your Facebook and Twitter profile pics in acknowledgment of celebration of the holiest week here at ATK.


As of last Thursday evening, home brewing is legal in all 50 states!

From the presser:

On Thursday, May 9, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley signed homebrew legalization bill HB9 into law, making Alabama the 50th state to legalize homebrewing.

Post-Prohibition, homebrewing was not federally legal until President Jimmy Carter signed H.R. 1337 on October 14, 1978, which officially went into effect on February 1, 1979. Shortly after that bill was signed, the American Homebrewers Association was formed by Charlie Papazian and Charlie Matzen to promote and celebrate homebrewing. Since then, the AHA has taken a leading role in advocating for homebrew rights and supporting the legislative efforts of local homebrew communities.
Celebrate beer!


Brew Day!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Last Sunday was again Brew Day at the Smitty household.  Joined by a few of our beer buddies from this blog, we took care of my "world famous" Maple Syrup Porter.

I had intended to do 2 brews simultaneously, but due to a small error (I didn't have the right ball vales and barbed fittings for my smaller set of mash/lauter tuns), we had to skip the American Wheat Ale and stick with the Porter.  Oh well...gives me an excuse to brew again!

My top-secret recipe, for those of you wishing to try my favorite brew:
9 lb Maris Otter
1 lb English Brown Malt
1 lb Crystal 40L
10 oz. English Chocolate Malt
1.25 oz English Fuggles (60 min)
0.5 oz. English Fuggles (10 min)
32 oz Grade B maple syrup (end of boil)
1 smackpack White Labs London Ale (WLP013)

Mash 18 Q water for 60 min at 154 degrees (water in tun @ 166 degrees)
Mashout 6Q at 175 degrees for 10 minutes
Sparge 23.25 Q water at 170 degrees

1 week primary, 2 weeks secondary.

Force carbonate 10.2 psi at 45 degrees for 1-2 weeks; desired volumes:  2.1.

And here, less than a day later, is some beautifully active fermentation!


Today in Science History

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Continuing in our chain of sciencey threads...

If you had the controls of the mars rover and could place historic tire tracks on the Martian surface, what would you do?

Head to the nearest high value science target? Sign your name? Write: “Hi mom”?


I’d do what the folks at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory did.  I’d draw a giant phallus.

Source:  link


Evolutionary Regression

On a whim, on one of my favorite blogs (It's Okay To Be Smart), I decided to take the science test offered at a link in one of Joe's posts.

My result:

13 out of 13.

I outscored 93% of the test-takers.

I am not writing this to brag or pat myself on the back.

I am writing this because if somebody gets any one of these questions wrong, it's no wonder we lag the way we do in our science scores.  I expected to get the score I did, because the questions are so easy, I'm pretty sure Smitty Jr knows the answers. Everyone on this blog will get 13 of 13.

Seriously:  "Lasers work by focusing sound waves.  True or false."  That kind of stuff.

But the bulk of test-takers got between 3 and 6 wrong.  And the 1% that got 0 or 1 question correct...I hope they are still in elementary school, or trolls.

Take the test.


Dick of the Week

Friday, April 19, 2013

Co-opting a theme from long-time beer buddy Mr. Furious, I present to you this week's Dick of the Week:

To do what with, Nate?  Cuddle it close like a blankie?

I think law enforcement is doing a fine job.


A close second-place Dick of the Week.


I Can't Think of a Title

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

First, this thought from occasional kegger Bry_Mac:


And then, there's this:

Report: 8-year-old boy killed in Boston Marathon blasts identified

Here's my guy, who turns 8 in a month and a half:

Nope.  Can't imagine.

I trust the FBI and Boston's Finest are doing everything they can to find the perpetrator terrorist responsible for this.

No politics.  No statements.  Just...find them. It won't bring the 8 year old back, it won't heal his mommy's traumatic head injury and it won't give his little sister her leg back.  It won't make the world, governed by randomness, make any more sense.  But we have a system of justice, and this is a person or these are some people in dire need of some....justice.  If you catch my drift.


This is the stuff of my dreams.

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Fusion Driven Rocket - on to Mars in 30 days.

"NASA, and plenty of private individuals, want to put mankind on Mars. Now a team at the University of Washington, with funding from the space agency, is about to start building a fusion engine that could get humans there in just 30 days and make other forms of space travel obsolete.
'Using existing rocket fuels, it’s nearly impossible for humans to explore much beyond Earth,' said lead researcher John Slough, a UW research associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics in a statement. 'We are hoping to give us a much more powerful source of energy in space that could eventually lead to making interplanetary travel commonplace.'
The proposed Fusion Driven Rocket (FDR) is a 150-ton system that uses magnetism to compress lithium or aluminum metal bands around a deuterium-tritium fuel pellet to initiate fusion. The resultant microsecond reaction forces the propellant mass out at 30 kilometers per second, and would be able to pulse every minute or so and not cause g-force damage to the spacecraft’s occupants."
The Register



Dysfunctional Family Fun

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

We've now discussed politics, guns, and now religion on ATK.

Anything else to ruin our family Thanksgiving dinner?


The Scale of the Universe.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

We interupt this broadcast of insults, flamewars and name calling to post an important link of nerdly goodness. You may have seen this view of the universe, but this one is new and improved and otherwise awesome. See the scale and hugeness of the universe here.


Tyranny of the Lunatics

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Via Streak, in another "gun culture" post, he draws our attention to this article regarding a constitutional amendment in North Carolina for "gun freedom."

In yet another one of Streak's posts, I kinda derided myself for not deriding the nuttier fringe of gun enthusiasts, collectors, and the like.  Being steeped in gun culture myself, owning guns, and generally believing in responsible gun ownership, perhaps, like the Jimmy Carter post below, it is more impactful for people of a certain predilection to participate in "policing their own."  

So here it goes.

A Republican lawmaker in North Carolina is proposing an amendment to the state's constitution allowing residents to carry concealed weapons, in an effort to block federal "tyranny."

Fellow gun enthusiasts, owners, sporters, supporters, collectors, sellers and others:  this shit is stupid.  There a number of reasons, but let me select a few more quotes from the HuffPo article linked above, and respond in kind as to why the things you say and do are not helpful to the average gun-owning collector, enthusiast, etc.  In fact, they opposite-of-help our cause.  Stop helping.

To wit:

he wanted the North Carolina Constitution to provide more gun rights

Look.  The federal constitution and nearly two hundred years of court decisions already grant those of us with guns every "right" we can imagine.  We can own them.  We can own lots of them.  Though we may have to jump through a couple hoops, it's possible to own current military-style weapons as well.  There are actually very few places we can't take them.  So, by saying we need more, you make us sound greedy (at the very least), and paranoid.  Most of us, actually, are fine with reasonable restrictions, and don't feel like we need more.  We have about as much as one can have in terms of "rights."

along with legislation he plans to introduce that would allow teachers to carry guns. The amendment would block concealed guns from schools, courthouses, federal buildings and buildings prohibiting guns, which Pittman said he included to help gain passage.

Ah, guns in schools.  I understand each family introduces weapons to their kids as varying times, and that's our "right," if you will.  My oldest, at 8, gets a BB gun, and perhaps, if he shows proper discipline, we'll discuss a .22 when he's maybe 12.  But the presence of guns in schools is something that makes a lot of gun owners nervous.  Accidental discharges, bad aim...no amount of training on a course at your local gun club prepares people to fire under pressure.  I spent 8 years in the Marines, and there are still some people I don't think can handle firing under stress.  I want my sons' teacher's first reaction to be to get my kids the fuck out of the room, not B.R.A.S.S. principles or where the gun is.  Many, many normal, regular gun owners feel the same.

As for courthouses and the like, why?  Just...why?  What is it about your life that makes you either so miserable or so afraid that if you're not armed every moment, that you're in peril?  I think I know.  It's paranoia mixed with guilt over not having had the balls to enlist and get to play with the Really Big Guns.  You need help, not more guns.  

Pittman told the crowd that he wanted to fight President Barack Obama's gun control proposals.

"I hope and pray that never happens, that we never actually have to fight the government for our freedom," Pittman said. "But if we do, if they're going to be coming at us with fully automatic weapons, we ought to at least have semiautomatic weapons to respond. I want you to have the ability to deter those who wold impose tyranny upon you."

You guys, seriously.  When non-gun owners see this rhetoric, they think we're all nuts.  That the only reason we own guns is because we fear a government attack.  Most of us don't.  Most of us recognize that the rule of law works here.  Most of us feel like the only guys who feel that the government is just waiting for the right moment to strike wear Army Surplus cammies and write weird, disjointed screeds.  Also, that fails to take into account that our troops are A) sworn to uphold the constitution; and 2) sworn to obey lawful orders.  So for your delusion to come true, that means American troops would have no problem at all firing on....other fellow Americans.  No.  That's just fucking stupid.

Also, back to this part:

But if we do, if they're going to be coming at us with fully automatic weapons, we ought to at least have semiautomatic weapons to respond

Let's pretend like I and other normal, not-paranoid gun owners are wrong.  Let's pretend like somehow, American troops don't care about firing on other fellow Americans.  Again, I spent time in the Marines.  Been deployed a couple times.  Our firepower and training is un-fucking-stoppable.  You and your fat-fuck buddies with a couple Bushmasters and Remington 870s are absolutely no match whatsoever for several well-trained regiments.  Hell, even a solid platoon will fuck up a small town.  Have you seen what a MK-19 does?  It's a rapid-fire , belt-fed 40mm grenade launcher that fires 325 grenades a minute.  

If you wanted to play macho tough guy, you should have enlisted or become a cop.  All of this shit about "more guns" and "guns in schools to protect our kids" 1) fails along the same statistical lines as "ban guns"; and B) just makes us all sound crazy, when most of us aren't.

So stop helping us, please.  You don't represent the bulk of normal people, but you're the only ones who get any play, so the perception is that all gun owners are this paranoid, jealous, and misguided.  Please stop.


All WOMen Created Equal

Monday, April 01, 2013

Our fellow kegger Streak has, when he's not posting about gun culture and getting in fights with Steve, done some posts about conservatism, religion, and modern religious "values" that run counter to what we common chaff perceive as, well, religious values.

In that vein, and because the legislature is on Spring Break and I finally have time to write things, I offer the following post written by Jimmy Carter: Losing my religion for equality; Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God.

In it, Carter makes the case that he eventually left the Southern Baptist Convention after it "carefully selected  Bible verses" that women must be subservient to their husbands and are thus prohibited from certain roles or professions.  I'm a sucker for Carter, so no surprise I was a fan of this post.  Before I start my list of favorite quotes from his post, I want to put this in a bit of context for why, other than to scream "I AGREE," I am taking up valuable blog space with a post like this.

IMO, the point isn't that Carter "left" his religion by resigning the Conference; in fact, I believe Carter still believes quite strongly.  It never makes me dance a merry jig when someone's faith collapses or they are forced to "leave" a certain sect because they tire of its oppressiveness or backwards-looking philosophy. I "left" my faith long, long ago, if it can be said "never really having it" is a form of "leaving," so I no longer need to see other people losing faith to justify my own departure anymore.  I'll not dance on the Southern Baptist Convention's eventual grave, nor will I rejoice in Carter's obvious pain in having to leave behind and organization that he thought had done so much good for so many decades.

For me, the value of Carter's statement here is more about an increasing number of people not only recognizing that their faith is starting to grow incongruous with its own actual perported value system, but also doing something about it.  It is having the guts, really, to look an entire institution in the face and say "you're wrong."  It's to believe strongly enough in the freedom that life or religion are supposed to celebrate to recognize when cultural leaders have finally gone astray.

So no, it's not that Carter resigned anything.  It's that he needs to send a powerful message to the powers-that-be that they are no longer in-touch with the tenets of their own myths.  And instead of grumbling or hoping it gets better, he, a former President Of The Most Powerful Country On Earth, vocally severed ties.  That's powerful.


At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

The same discriminatory thinking lies behind the continuing gender gap in pay and why there are still so few women in office in the West. The root of this prejudice lies deep in our histories, but its impact is felt every day. It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us....It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. We need to challenge these self-serving and outdated attitudes and practices - as we are seeing in Iran where women are at the forefront of the battle for democracy and freedom.

In Iran, fellow keggers, against an oppressive regime, where they can be killed, women want freedom and are willing to stand up.  We're not Iran.  Nobody has anything to fear here but the scorn of the witch doctors.

And my favorite zinger:  The carefully selected verses found in the Holy Scriptures to justify the superiority of men owe more to time and place - and the determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence - than eternal truths. Similar biblical excerpts could be found to support the approval of slavery and the timid acquiescence to oppressive rulers.

"And the timid acquiesence to oppressive rulers."  Poetry.  And that is what, but resigning and forming a new group and publishing his thoughts, Carter has rejected:  timid acquiesence.  Respect.


Zero-Sum Game

Thursday, March 28, 2013

For today in infinite regression, I offer the following post:

I am in the middle of reading Dr. Lawrence Krauss' "A Universe From Nothing."  The book, as you can imagine, has sparked a firestorm of bitching from the theological community: it turns out that nothing isn't nothing; nothing is full of something, and that that something "creates" what we see.  Often, lots, and proveable.

He is judging you, while you think about this...
Krauss doesn't hide his disdain for theology, noting that it isn't a "real" scientific or academic discipline, especially when they kvetch at him.  He poses the following challenge, with regard to the contributions of theology as an academic focus (he is not talking about the value of religion, but the value of studying something that cannot be proven, and what that study contributes to our species):
In regards to theology not being a real subject, I put this challenge out to all theologians. Name me one piece of knowledge theology has contributed to human society in the last 500 years.



Monday, March 25, 2013

This is real.

This actually exists.

A Cthulhucon.

For those of you who are fans of the paranoid, weird, macabre, doomed, depressing, haunted tales of HP Lovecraft, this seems like a truly inspired gathering.  There's even a screenplay contest!  My favorite title:  "Call Girl of Cthulhu."  That's got promise.

Unfortunately, it's in Portland, OR, and I don't think I'm burning any vacation time to get there.  Additionally, I can kinda guess at the general condition of the attendees, which while probably somewhat cleaner than a GenCon or DragonCon, is probably a lot more....Rob Zombie.  Conjecture, sure, but it takes a very different person to wrap your whole life around horror and occult movies than that of who wraps their whole life around gaming systems.  Whatever.

I got into Lovecraft about a decade ago, starting with the collected works entitled Necronomicron (which is also a grimoire mentioned in several of his stories).  I now have several Lovecraft collections, and though the infamous Cthulhu is mentioned only a few times in Lovecraft's actual stories, "his" mythos drives much of where the author was coming from.  Our source of underlying anxiety, common among all of mankind, is the evil presence of Cthulhu, waiting to return.  That's reflected, then, in all of Lovecraft's stories.

Lovecraft was also heavily influenced by science, in that given the scientific advancements of the early 20th Century, he came to view humanity as increasingly insignificant in a vast universe.  He sprinkled into that sentiment that not only are we insignificant, the universe is also actually out to get us, but only because we're a cosmic pebble among greater forces that render everything we believe sort of silly.  Themes like that allow for the creation of truly awful horrors which we cannot overcome, and glimpsing the true nature of those forces would drive our puny brains mad.  That's some damn good fiction, you ask me.

And now?  There are games (Arkham Horror, Cthulhu Dice, and Elder Signs to not even scratch the surface), a webcomic based on the much-beleagured University of his stories, car decals, a Presidential bid and...the Con!  And that doesn't even begin to get into how deeply Cthulhu pervades gamer, geek, and horror fiction cultures.



Sunday, March 24, 2013

So as many of you on this blog know, I have 3 kids:  Smitty Jr (7), and the WonderTwins (4).  All boys.  Our house (and this is not meant to be a statement about boys-versus-girls, but just a statement of fact) is chaos.  It is loud.  At dinner, all 5 of us attempt at various moments to talk over one another.  They can't even play board games without yelling and squealing.

Much of the time, their energy is joyous.  It fills me with energy.  It makes me laugh.  Their inquisitiveness astounds me and drives me to keep teaching them and showing them.

But sometimes, I lose my shit.  Sometimes that one last word or yelp snaps a little something in my brain.  A "what" suddenly becomes a "WHAT." Some days, I just don't have it in me to be all over them, and instead I retreat into books and blogs.

But that stuff isn't a failure.  It's a good example.  But sometimes, regardless of knowing that, I feel like a half-assed parent.

A good friend sent me this post, and near the end of it I think are what should be the 7 Commandments of Parenthood:

You are not a terrible parent if you can’t figure out a way for your children to eat as healthy as your friend’s children do. She’s obviously using a bizarre and probably illegal form of hypnotism.
You are not a terrible parent if you yell at your kids sometimes. You have little dictators living in your house. If someone else talked to you like that, they’d be put in prison.
You are not a terrible parent if you can’t figure out how to calmly give them appropriate consequences in real time for every single act of terrorism that they so creatively devise.
You are not a terrible parent if you’d rather be at work.
You are not a terrible parent if you just can’t wait for them to go to bed.
You are not a terrible parent if the sound of their voices sometimes makes you want to drink and never stop.
You’re not a terrible parent.
Yeah.  That.  All of that.
So to my fellow parents out there, read this guy's blog post, and feel better about the fact that you are, indeed, a fine parent.


Our Weird Libido

Thursday, March 21, 2013

At long last, an internet porn cache has finally decided to study what people in the world like to jerk-off to.

And we are a truly fucked-up species.

The website PornMD has collected the most-searched search terms on its site, and compiled it for us by rank and location.  Here's a snapshot of U.S. searches:

Pretty normal, nothing shocking
Some searches from around the globe:
WTF with toilets and shitting, people??
And finally some searches from what we consider "oppressive regimes" (ironic, given America's notable sexual repression):
Already creeped-out by "mom" and "family," but prostate??
Go ahead and play around (pun intended) with the fully interactive map and have a look-see as to what starts boners popping in our ever-shrinking globe:

Note:  the interactive map doesn't show all the way across, so you lose the data.  Follow this link.


Channeling Wilford Brimley

Monday, March 11, 2013

Sometimes, life ain't fair.

A year and a half ago, I embarked on a serious mission to get in peak physical shape, adopt healthier eating habits, and lose weight.  I was nearly 220 pounds, almost 40 pounds heavier than I needed to be or should be.  Drinking beer added calories, but I had no balance in the food I chose to eat.  Working out 3 times a week yielded slow, incremental weight gain and no marked improvement in muscle mass and athletic performance.  I was lazy, and slowly becoming someone I was not proud of.

I did it.  I eat healthy now, and enjoy an occasional sin, but it's OK, because "sin" was no longer the bulk of my dining experience.  I did the Insanity workout, then dove right into Crossfit training, and was nearing the shape I was in coming out of Infantry School in the Marines.  I was down 30 pounds.  I remembered what it was like to earn something again, and that makes your mind as tough as your body.

My reward for all this hard work and discipline:  2 weeks ago, I was diagnosed with diabetes.

What.  The.  Fuck.

A normal person, when they wake up in the morning, has a glucose level of around 100, and after a meal, about 120.  2 hours after a meal on the day I was diagnosed, I was 514.  My low point was 489.

I went in to the doctor because the night of the Super Bowl, I went to bed fine, and woke up the next morning no longer able to see very far.  My head felt cloudy and I was a tad confused.  Thinking was like thinking through mud.  I chalked it up to getting sick.

But day by day, symptoms racked-up.  Cotton-mouth.  Couldn't drink enough water.  No matter how much I chugged, I needed more and more.  I'd wake up on the hour, every hour, at night to piss a quart at a time (no wonder I was so dehydrated) - my body was pissing-out the sugar it couldn't process.

Finally, I bit the bullet and did the one thing you should never ever under any circumstances do:  I checked out Web MD, because all the symptoms sounded real familiar.  The next morning, I called to doc to get in that very afternoon.

When I got in, I told the doc that I'd bet him $10 I was diabetic.  I told him my symptoms, and said "just go get the glucometer."  514.  Arterial blood draws confirmed it.  My pancreas is broke.

Since then, I take a daily shot of insulin, and check my glucose 4 times a day.

My diet is already healthy, and a diabetic diet looks a lot like the Paleo diet, or simply a diet of someone who eats healthy and loses weight...my diet already!  Low in sugar, low in carbs, if you must eat carbs, make 'em whole grain. No big deal there.

I had to take a break from exercise so we could get the sugars to a control level, and then I could get back to the gym, as hard exercise drops your blood sugar.  I'm easing back into exercise; some light cardio last week, now amping-up the cardio and adding some resistance.  Eventually, as I figure out my sugar levels, I can hit Crossfit and Insanity and all that other crap again, because I'll have a better understanding of exercise, my dosage of insulin, and what I need to eat before and after a workout so I don't "go hypo (hypoglycemic)" and pass out!

My glucose is dropping to normal ranges.  No permanent damage was done, as we caught it early on.  Had I not been in such good shape, and thus attuned to how my body was feeling, it coulda been worse.  Only slight eye damage, and not retinal bleeding; my lenses got warped by how much sugar was in my blood and how fast I got rid of it, so from now on, I'll be a tad far-sighted.

I feel good again.  I'm glad we caught this.  I'm pissed and life isn't fucking fair that I worked so hard to not be in this position, but here I am anyway.  The rest of my life is needles and poking and disciplined dieting and watching my blood and nerding around with what certain foods and activities do to my glucose (it gives me something to tinker with!) and sometimes feeling fuzzy and sometimes feeling weak and shaky if I miss a meal and so on.  Needles and shots...forever.

But at least I can still drink beer.


Deep Concealment

Thursday, March 07, 2013

This is being submitted without comment.

Police say woman hid loaded gun inside her vagina


Crimes Against Humanity

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Most of us probably do not give one flying fuck that Pope Benedict XVI is the first Pope in over 600 years to step down, or, retire.  I laughed out loud when, in a recent report, NPR stated "with many Catholics still shaken by the Pope's announcement..."  No, Sylvia.  More like "with many Catholics still shrugging."

I, for one, think the guy is misguided in his focus and for the head of a church that vaunts its views on peace, community, and life, he was the ultimate relativist.  In a time where politicians and cultural leaders use fear as a means to an end, should not the church urge peace and be a place of solace and community?

I, though, am not the only one to be so disappointed.
In my opinion, I offer the following statements and sentiments from the retiring pope as "evidence," if you will, of engaging in the same sort of fear-based, dog-whistle-laced demogoguery that our politicians are guilty of:
Sex Scandal
  • As Pope, he refused to open Vatican records to outside scrutiny;
  • In an interview around the time he became pope, instead of taking charge of the sex abuse scandals just starting to break, Ratzinger blamed Americans for a plot to undermine the church:
    • “In the Church, priests also are sinners. But I am personally convinced that the constant presence in the press of the sins of Catholic priests, especially in the United States, is a planned campaign, as the percentage of these offenses among priests is not higher than in other categories, and perhaps it is even lower … In the United States, there is constant news on this topic, but less than 1 percent of priests are guilty of acts of this type. The constant presence of these news items does not correspond to the objectivity of the information nor to the statistical objectivity of the facts.” 
  •  Before he was Pope, Ratzinger was the Vatican's chief "doctrinal enforcer."  But mounting evidence shows that he chose not to act, or acted covertly, as allegations of sex abuse escalated. It wasn't until the abuse broke in the media that the Vatican finally started to act, under Ratzinger's order.  
Gay Marriage

  • During the 2013 World Day of Peace, the Pope's message of hope and call for world peace consisted of...wait...what?  An appeal to the existential threat of gay marriage??
    • "There is also a need to acknowledge and promote the natural structure of marriage as the union of a man and a woman in the face of attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different types of union. Such attempts actually harm and help to destabilize marriage, obscuring its specific nature and its indispensable role in society.These principles are not truths of faith, nor are they simply a corollary of the right to religious freedom. They are inscribed in human nature itself, accessible to reason and thus common to all humanity. The Church’s efforts to promote them are not therefore confessional in character, but addressed to all people, whatever their religious affiliation. Efforts of this kind are all the more necessary the more these principles are denied or misunderstood, since this constitutes an offence against the truth of the human person, with serious harm to justice and peace."
  • Let's not  forget the Pope's Christmas speech, where he took time out of celebrating the pagan-timed birth of Jesus to remind us that gay marriage is a threat to humanity:
    • "There is no denying the crisis that threatens it [the family] to its foundations — especially in the Western world,” the Pope is quoted as saying. “When such commitment is repudiated, the key figures of human existence likewise vanish: father, mother, child — essential elements of the experience of being human are lost"
Moral Relativism

  • Benedict liked to make grand statements about moral relativism:
    • "We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as definitive and has as its highest value one’s own ego and one’s own desires"
  • But he sure likes to pardon excommunicated priests who are "convicted" holocaust deniers, speaking of moral relativism.
  • Oh, and let's not forget that some death is OK for Benedict's church, just not ever abortion and euthanasia, but some death is OK because not everyone in his flock might agree with, say, anti-death penalty or anti-war sentiments:
    • Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion, even among Catholics, about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not, however, with regard to abortion and euthanasia.

Some leadership.  This guy was anything but a source of peace, using the tactics and words of fear and division for some gain that I can't see yet.  What I do see is that his tactics have led to decline.  Fortunately for the world, these archaic views are also on the decline; perhaps what we see in Benedict is some of the last gasps of a dying mindset.


Without Comment, Part II

Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Brazilian man has accused his wife of trying to kill him by putting poison in her vagina and inviting him to have oral sex with her.


Submitted Without Comment

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Donna Lange, Washington Woman, Accused Of Using Her Breasts To Smother And Kill Boyfriend


I Love that the President is a Nerd.

Friday, January 11, 2013

As Smitty knows, the White House has a policy that says that any policy proposal placed on the White House website that receives the support of 25,000 people, will receive consideration and a response from the White House.  This summer the White House released the recipe for its Honey Porter and Honey Ale after beer brewers petitioned the White House for its release.

Recently a bunch of nerds gathered the support of over 34,000 people in asking the federal government to begin the construction of our very own Death Star.

The White House did not disappoint.  Well, they might have disappointed people by shooting down the death star concept, but at least the denial was a very creative Star Wars-laden response.

Read it here.


Reasonable People (aka ones not named Alex Jones or Piers Morgan) Debate Gun Policy

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

There are intelligent people that debate gun policy. It isn't as sensational and is probably kind of boring to most people, but it does happen. The following is the first part of a discussion with former State Representative, Joan Bauer; Cooley Law Professor, Steve Dulan; President and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy, Gilda Jacobs; and MSU Anthropology Professor, Anthony Kolenic. I disagree with a few of the panelists, but I think they made their points intelligently and without ridiculous hyperbole and shouting.


Claims, No Take Backs

The video below is an example of what we discussed earlier.  If one side of the gun debate has to claim Dirty Fucking Hippies and no-guns-ever pacifists, then the other side has to claim this guy:

More fun here:

This guy is not helpful.  High comedy and a laugh-riot, for sure, but not helpful in the Great Gun Debate.



Potential Drunks

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