mytopleft

Friday, August 30, 2013

Actual temp conversation of indeterminate number

Several of the temps on this project have a long-standing arrangement where they go get breakfast shortly after arrival -- in other words, once they're on the clock. These folks have been on the project since it started almost two years ago, so they have some routines. This morning, one of those routines was disrupted, leading to the following conversation:

Temp 1: Mike, did you really turn down going to breakfast with us because it was too early, then go get breakfast 5 minutes after we got back?
Temp 2: I think you're on the feces list, here.
Temp 3: (to Temp 2) I'm always on that list. (To Temp 1) Watching him (referring to Temp 4) eat made me hungry.
Temp 2: That's weird. Watching him eat always kills my appetite and makes me want to hide my fingers.
Temp 4: And makes you want to avert your eyes.
It played better live. Maybe it was a location joke -- you had to be there. But I found it interesting how temps will fall into real-job routines if the job goes on long enough. These folks have been working together -- and going to get stuff to eat together -- for almost two years. Sure, it could end tomorrow, but for today, these guys have settled into the routines that you see among people with "real" jobs. I find it interesting. Maybe I'm easily amused.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Trust is the basis of any good relationship. Which is why temps and management don't have a good relationship.

Displaying the faith and trust that agency management has in temps, some guy from the agency is going around today putting plastic lock boxes over all of the thermostats. To my knowledge, no one has ever messed with the one in our room, but, apparently, someone did in some room, so all of the thermostats go under lock and key. After all, that was why the agency guy said he was putting up lock boxes: somebody was messing with thermostats without permission. In typical temp fashion, temps are going around saying, "This is all you guys' fault," blaming people from other projects. No doubt, the people doing this include some of the temps who messed with the thermostats in the first place. That won't stop them from blaming others and convincing themselves that their actions were, of course, justified. And they wonder why management doesn't trust us.

On the other hand, it is entirely possible that management decided to lock up all the thermostats simply because they don't trust us, and that no one messed with any thermostats. After all, remember Rule No. 1: They're lying. No wonder this profession is dysfunctional.

Document review haiku No. 2

Today I faced two obstacles that needed to be surmounted. First, with no wi-fi at work, I needed to find a wireless way to download a couple pending books to my Kindle. Also, because I was taking the commuter bus today (something I have to do when Mrs. Wolves keeps the car) I needed to break a $20 so I would have exact change for the bus (the ride is $3.50 -- they would cheerfully take my $20 and keep it, although I suspect the driver would make change before turning in the bank). Clever boy that I am, I went to Barnes & Noble, a block away, and used their free wi-fi to solve problem No. 1. As I stood outside the Barnes & Noble afterword, I realized that the bar across the street -- where I used to spend a lot of time when I worked at the now-defunct law firm that used to be across the other street -- provided the perfect opportunity to obtain change for a $20 while also getting something I actually wanted. So I went it, drank a quick draft beer and went back to work. Which gave us this haiku:

Drinking beer at three
Facilitates document
review quite nicely.

Not only am I apparently a poet, there is a chance I am Japanese. Or not. But I have been to Japan. Maybe that's it.

Document review haiku

A recent Posse List posting for an upcoming gig asked applicants to submit a one- or two-sentence description of their document review experience. We tossed around a few efforts yesterday. Mine was "You fucking kidding? Read my resume, dipshits." Clearly not well-designed if landing the gig is the goal, but I liked it.

Today, it hit me: why not a haiku instead:

Many documents
have I reviewed in my time
They all sucked real bad.

Add poet to the list of accomplishments, bitches.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

If you write it, they will come

Yeah, we've been over this before. You don't post, you don't get traffic. Yesterday was a pretty good day by this blog's standards and far better than any day in weeks, maybe months. Why? I put up a bunch of content. That's how it works. I know this intellectually, but sometimes it is difficult to kick my butt into gear when I get home late at night or have umpty-ump errands to run on the weekends. Nonetheless, I will endeavor to persevere.


Seafood porn!

Lots of seafood recipes are very simple: steam something, broil something, squeeze some lemon over it, bingo, done. This is not one of those recipes, and I am giving up sleep to bring you the masterpiece that I ate Sunday night. OK, everybody at Chez Wolves ate it, but still. In any event, prepare to take notes.

First, you're going to need a host of ingredaments, many of them spice-like in nature. you will require 1-1/4 or so pounds of scallops (pieces are OK to save money), 1 tablespoon of butter, 1 clove of mince garlic, 1 beaten egg, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, some Parmesan cheese (grated OK, but I prefer shredded), 1/4 cup of white wine, 1 cup of chopped onion, 1 tablespoon of flour, a tablespoon of parsley (if fresh, chopped) and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper:


Not everything is there, but you get the idea (the scallops were in the refridgerator).

For starters, grab that white wine. I find that it is most economical to use the individual serving bottles, which cost more per serving but mean you don't have to risk a bunch of opened white wine going bad before you need it. On the other hand, if you're a white wine drinker, pour one glass into this recipe and drink the other three from the bottle while you cook. It's OK with me.


You will mix the wine with 1/4 cup of water in a frying pan and bring it to a boil. You will add the scallops and reduce to low heat.


You will cover and cook for 3-5 minutes.


You will then drain the scallops, reserving the liquid and setting the scallops aside in an appropriate vessel. That means a bowl, people.

While all this was going on, you were multitasking. You got out your onions and garlic (grown in your garden if you are a badass):

and you chopped those bad boys up:

Having done that while stuff was cooking (or before stuff started cooking if you plan ahead) you will now toss your tablespoon of butter into the skillet that you just took the scallops out of, over medium heat. The butter melts, you toss in the chopped onions and garlic and saute them.


 When the onions get translucent, you will add the flour:


You will stir in the flour, cook for one minute, and then stir in the liquid you reserved from when you cooked the scallops.


Stir it up nice.

You will stir this until thickened.

You will remove this thickened mixture from the heat and let it cool. While it cools, you will beat the crap out of that egg, and add parsley, salt and pepper.


You will wisk this mixture into the onion-garlic mixture once the latter is cool.

Once that is thoroughly mixed, you will fold in the scallops


and you will mix it up right:


Once you get it mixed up right, you will pour that stuff into a baking dish, and you will sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top of it.


You will broil that bad boy until it is golden brown.


You will served it with something along the lines of long grain and wild rice, corn on the cob and maybe green beans steamed fresh from your garden. Or with whatever. The rest is up to you. Bon appetit.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Sometimes it takes a lion-tamer

Dealing with temps is not always easy. Not all temps, just the ones who gave us the reputation we have. If you've been reading this blog, you know what I mean. If you have not, neither one of us has the time for an explanation. You should consider reading old posts to catch up.

In any event, I was having a conversation today with another long-time contract attorney, and he was lamenting the fact that he all-too-frequently encounters other temps he knows while riding the Metro home at night and they ask him very pointed questions about whatever project he is on at the time. Apparently, this had happened to him yet again the night before, and the following conversation ensued:

Other Temp: This guy was asking me really specific questions about the project. I kept telling him, I can't answer that. You know I can't tell you that. He kept on. Anybody could hear. The partner from the firm was probably sitting in the next seat, waiting to see how I would answer. 

Me: You're taking the wrong approach. This never happens to me. I just ask them, "why are you talking to me? What did I do to make you think I want you to talk to me? Tell me, so I can stop doing it." After that, I really don't have a lot of problems with that kind of thing.

Other Temp (speaking to other temps in the room): He really does that. He takes no prisoners.

I guess this makes me an asshole. But we work in a profession with strict rules about confidentiality. Being on the bottom rung of the ladder doesn't change those rules. I have no patience for a temp who wants me to ignore those rules where anyone can hear, to the possible detriment of my law license. While my approach might make me an asshole, it also keeps other temps from striking up work-related conversations with me on the Metro. So I view that as net positive. Not only do I not want to talk about work -- one of the few good things about temping is that you don't have to think about it at all once you leave the job each night -- I sure as hell don't want to talk about it with other temps.


You never write, you never call

Sorry about that. Driving myself into the ground like a tent peg trying to get my hours (because every project ends tomorrow) is not conducive to posting. Working on that. Traffic has reflected my lack of attention (or maybe just reflects summertime. Fuck if I know). Still a lot higher than when I started, but I promise more posts. Thank you for continuing to visit.

The more things change . . .

. . . the more they stay the same. Once upon a time I put up a post about the seven personal characteristics that tend to surface in temp attorneys. The list is not particularly PC, but it is descriptive. On the other hand it is not exhaustive, and for lack of a better category, I included an eighth category as a sort of catch-all: bad things happen to good people. In drafting that list, I drew upon years of experience, both working as a supervisor of temps at Big Law firms (rarely, thank God) and working with temps for Big Law firms (way too many years of my life, thank you very much). Because of the collapse of Big Law, which poured a bunch of people into category 8 and kind of blurred the lines, I left out one category from my list because I wasn't sure it fit. Over the years, I have become sure, yet I have not included this characteristic in the list of what tends to make a temp.

That characteristic is lack of social skills. The reason I never included this in the deadly seven (if you have three or more of these characteristics, went to law school and came to The Big City (DC, New York, LA) you are almost undoubtedly a temp) is because, frankly, Big Law attorneys are not necessarily noted for their social skills. Lack of social skills is no bar to entry to the Big Law orbit. There are, however, limits to that statement, and last week I encountered one of those limits.

In the kitchen area, we have a machine that dispenses chilled, filtered water. If you've ever read about DC's public water system, you know why "filtered" is important. Like pretty much everything in the public sector in DC, the water is corrupt. But I digress. Our water dispenser is, alas, located next to the kitchen garbage cans, limited as the agency is by the need to put the dispenser near a water supply.

In any event, I was busy filling a bottle with some nice, cold, filtered DC water when I sensed a presence over my left shoulder, standing in front of the garbage cans next to me. I also heard a strange "tick, tick, tick" sound that I could not identify. When my bottle was full, I stood up and turned to my left, intending to exit the area but also so I could see what the hell that sound was. There, standing in front of me, God and everybody, was some temp, cheerfully flossing his teeth into the trash cans. Face with the choice of puking or running, I chose to flee.

Upon relating this story to some more human temps, I learned that this guy does this every fucking day. Even temps are disgusted by this temp. And temps wonder why Big Law holds us in contempt? One guy flossing his teeth into the kitchen trash can is enough to overshadow a dozen Oliver Wendell Holmes clones. (Not to suggest there are any of those in Temp Town.) Unfortunately, he's probably not alone. As much as the influx of Big Law refugees has changed the social makeup of Temp Town, the archetypes that originally made Temp Town what it is remain with us.While no longer the majority of temps, there are still enough of these folks to remind Big Law why they hold us in thinly veiled contempt.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Nanny-state mayor seeks to ban what he does not understand

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is famously anti-gun (and anti-big drinks, anti-salt, anti-butter, anti-fuck-you-name-it-if-it's-any-damn-good). Maybe Bloomberg is so big on banning guns because he knows fuck-all about them. Bloomberg held a press conference Monday about some big gun seizure by city police and put out a couple photos. Anybody see a problem here?


Anybody? Bueller? Bueller? Maybe it will help if you see the gun table from a better angle:


Yeah, every single fucking one of those guns is pointed toward the audience. Treat every gun as if it were loaded? Anti-gun fucks never learn that kind of rule. Rule No. 1 is "Every gun is loaded." Rule No. 2 is "Never point a gun at something you do not intend to shoot." This raises the question: Why should you ever listen to politicians who demonstrably know nothing about that which they seek to ban? Hat-tip to Instapundit for the link to The Blaze

Monday, August 19, 2013

Everyday food porn

Wasn't sure what to call this post, since it is food porn, but not game food, not exotic and basically nothing more than what is often called comfort food these days. Didn't want to call it "comfort food porn," though, because that just sounded wrong. Take out the food -- what is comfort porn? Porn involving well-padded furniture and no foreign objects? Hell, I don't know, I just didn't like the sound of it.

Anyway, Sunday night I fixed a roast chicken. Nothing weird, exotic or complicated, but food porn is food porn, and we're still a few weeks away from game food porn. Only two weeks until Labor Day food porn, though, so stay tuned.

The chicken is important, but a roast chicken  starts with the vegetables. I usually go with potatoes, carrots, onions and celery. Other people throw in garlic, mushrooms and all kinds of other stuff, but the basics are always good. In this case, the potatoes, carrots and onions all came from the home garden:


Also had celery, but had to buy that -- didn't grow celery this year. Anyway, you'll want about a half-dozen medium potatoes, a half-dozen carrots, the equivalent of two medium onions and about a half-dozen celery ribs. Peel the carrots, clean up the celery, cut the celery ribs in half and split them lengthwise:


Chop those suckers up. I usually just cut chop them all perpendicular to the long axis, so that you have nice, cute circular slices of carrot and smiley-face celery slices. However, you can cut your carrots into slices, as is most commonly seen for veggie dips. Note the carrots on the left:


Take your pick. Now, get your onions.


Quarter them.


You can peel your potatoes or not. I left the skins on. Cut them into chunks, though -- smaller than quarters, but size is up to you.

Now, get out the bird. Mine was a five-pound roaster. Put it in a roasting pan on a rack.


Salt and pepper the bird to taste, then baste it with some olive oil. Or butter. Yes, I was drinking beer at the time. It is not necessary for the recipe. Also, I had jarred some tomatoes, as you also can see. Please, don't feel as if you are not worthy to enter my kitchen simply because you do not grow and can your own vegetables. But therapy will help.


Put all those chopped-up vegetables in the roasting pan surround the chicken.


Add about 1-1/2 cups of chicken broth to the roasting pan to keep the vegetables moist. You can tent the chicken with aluminum foil, but be sure to take the tent off for long enough to brown the chicken.

 Preheat the oven to 325 F. Allow about 15 minutes per pound of bird, and don't be afraid to go 20 minutes per pound. You can make gravy -- I did from the drippings (and, of course, the chicken broth you put into the vegetables) although it is not required. Fix some kind of bread, and bon appetit.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

New Navy ship reminds us it is not safe to go into the water

Secretary of the Navy Ray Maybus recently announced that the newest addition to the fleet will be a littoral combat ship to be named the USS Indianapolis. Littoral combat ships are designed to operate close to shore in support of ground combat. They're pretty futuristic and don't look much like traditional Navy vessels.

The name for this newest ship, though, is pretty cool and a nice nod to the past for such a futuristic ship. The original Indianapolis was a World War II cruiser with a unique place in history. Not only was it one of the last US ships sunk by a Japanese submarine, it went down on its way back from delivering the Hiroshima atomic bomb to the island of Tinian. The aftermath added a horrific chapter to Navy lore:
The cruiser Indianapolis sank just after midnight July 30, 1945, after being struck by two Japanese torpedoes. While about 900 men of a crew of roughly 1,200 made it into the water alive, they were not rescued for days. After shark attacks and the elements, fewer than 320 men survived, according to the survivors’ group. Fifteen of the nearly 40 men still alive attended a reunion Aug. 1 in Indianapolis.
The Indianapolis will be the 17th littoral combat ship in the fleet. These things are bad-ass, extremely high-tech and, we hope, will provide a near-shore combat ability for the Navy for decades to come. Plus they look cool:



Mabus made the announcement at a gathering of the survivors of the sinking of the original Indianapolis. Only about 40 remain. I suppose one of the most famous references to the original Indianapolis is the brilliant scene in Jaws where Robert Shaw as Quint delivers a monologue about his experience on the ship:




We certainly hope the new Indianapolis fares better, but if it doesn't, we hope it gets a treatment this good in a future movie. Damn, Robert Shaw was good.

President orders gun control study, which tells him he's all wet on gun control. Study buried.

Back in January, when the president was pushing gun control because the economy was great and everybody already had a job, Barry -- sorry, Barack -- ordered the Centers for Disease Control to perform a study on gun violence. I'm sure Barry thought it would support all of his positions on gun violence and give credence to his efforts to impose strict gun control measures. After all, Barry knows the truth, and the head of the CDC works for Barry, so the CDC damn well better provide evidence supporting Barry's version of the truth.

Yeah, not so much. Instead, as The New American reports, the study refuted pretty much every position Barry holds with respect to guns and gun violence and left Barry standing there with a slack jaw and his dick in his hand:
Obama had announced at the beginning of the year his push for three major gun control initiatives — universal background checks, a ban on “assault weapons,” and a ban on “high-capacity” magazines — to prevent future mass shootings, no doubt hoping that the CDC study would oblige him by providing evidence that additional gun control measures were justified to reduce gun violence. On the contrary, that study refuted nearly all the standard anti-gun narrative and instead supported many of the positions taken by gun ownership supporters.
For example, the majority of gun-related deaths between 2000 and 2010 were due to suicide and not criminal violence:
Between the years 2000-2010 firearm-related suicides significantly outnumbered homicides for all age groups, annually accounting for 61 percent of the more than 335,600 people who died from firearms related violence in the United States.
That's so weird. Reading the lamestream media, I thought that pretty much every gun death was a case of me killing you. Instead, it was me killing me -- something that stricter gun control, constitutional rights notwithstanding, is not going to stop. People who want to kill themselves, will.

Also in the study, which you would never know reading the lamestream media, is that defensive use of firearms is common. To hear the lamestreams tell it, buying a gun is virtually a death sentence: even if somebody breaks into your home, attempts to mug you or whatever, and you pull your trusty sidearm, that criminal will doubtless use his ninja skills to disarm you and kill you. Being armed damn sure won't help you in any way. Or, maybe it will:
In addition, defensive use of guns “is a common occurrence,” according to the study:
Almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million per year, in the context of about 300,000 violent crimes involving firearms in 2008.
Sounds to me like successful defensive use of firearms is more common -- a lot more common -- than violent crimes committed with firearms. But hey, it's just a study commissioned by the nation's biggest proponent of gun control, so you have to take that with a grain of salt. After all, finding that defensive gun uses are more common than gun crimes doesn't really support the gun-control narrative. Oh, wait, that's what Barry was hoping this study would do. Never mind.

Naturally, you won't hear a peep from the lamestreams about this study.  It doesn't support their gun-control narrative, so they won't talk about it. And you can be damn sure Barry won't talk about the study he ordered, because it makes him look like the moronic idealogue that he is, totally uninterested in actual facts.

Here's the actual study in PDF format, which makes it a little bit of a pain in the ass to read. But it is enlightening, and while I know Barry will never actually read it -- he already knows the truth and doesn't need some silly little study to give him actual facts -- but boy howdy would he be pissed to find out how much of what he knows is wrong. Except Barry would doubtless conclude that the study he ordered was itself wrong, as he is incapable of error.

Maybe they were trying to get it wrong

As Hot Air points out, MSNBC isn't even trying to pretend to be a news organization anymore. Or even an organization with any connection to reality, apparently. In talking about President Obama's bus tour to promote his so-called jobs agenda (how many pivots toward the economy does this make?), MSNBC ran this graphic to show where the president is going:


Problem? Well, yeah. Anyone with even  a passing knowledge of geography knows that Buffalo is on the shores of Lake Erie and thus cannot possibly be where MSNBC put it. How well did they do with the other cities on their graphic? Um, must have gone to unionized-teachers public schools:


Oh-for-fucking-four. And these are the people who like to call themselves the reality-based community?

Which Captain are we getting today?

One of the project managers was out today, which apparently made the remaining project manager feel like he should walk the floor more, bucking up the troops or something. Personally, I prefer the other project manager, who just doesn't give a fuck and stays in his office. But this one likes to be out and about amongst the temps, which led to this comment today:
Temp 1: Man, he's just out there like a captain pacing his quarterdeck. The problem is, you never know if you're going to get Captain Bligh or Captain Stubing, Queeg or Kangaroo.
What's that? You don't know who Captain Stubing is? Damn whippersnappers. Here:


Now, all you young punks get the hell off my lawn.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Priorities, people. Priorities.

I realize the Boston Marathon bombing is fading in the public consciousness already, but this is somewhat of an update. The family of two of the victims of that terrorist attack has released a photo and a statement regarding their loss. Daily Pundit calls this photo "The Picture Rolling Stone Should Have Had On The Cover":


Jane Richard is seven years old and lost a leg in the Boston Marathon bombing. Her eight-year-old brother, Martin, died in the bombing. Rolling Stone thought it would be cool to make one of the dickweeds responsible for the bombing look like a rock star on its cover, using the oh-so-sexy picture shown above. Rolling Stone was wrong. Nothing we can do to that fuck is bad enough, and unlike Rolling Stone I don't give a rat's ass how he reached the point where he thought it was a good idea to kill Jane's brother and take her leg. All Rolling Stone did was add a few members to the Let's Fuck The Cute Terrorist Fan Club, ignoring the Islamist asshole's victims. I hope they feed that fucker nothing but pork products while he awaits his inevitable execution. Give him bacon sheets for his bed, for fuck's sake.

Oddly enough, Jane's family doesn't seem vindictive at all. They've issued a statement and the above photo:
As so many things have been, returning home without Martin certainly made that important milestone bittersweet, but we know he was with us, as he is every moment of every day,' the family said in a statement released on Thursday.An hour doesn't go by that we don't feel the agony of Martin's death and the senseless way it came about. The pain is constant and even the sweetest moments can become heartbreaking when we are struck by the realization that "Martin would have loved this..." But it is not all heartbreak for our family, as we are making progress on this long, difficult and painful road forward... Jane continues to be an incredible source of inspiration - and exhaustion. The loss of her leg has not slowed her one bit, or deterred her in any way.
They are better people than I am. I'd be looking for a way to unite that fuck with his 72 virgins. As for Rolling Stone? To the extent not already true: dead to me.

Breitbart's Big Government site put this up first, near as I can tell. Thanks to Instapundit for pointing me to Daily Pundit.

Monday, August 12, 2013

No way to run a railroad

There is (was?) a project at the agency I'm working at that just underwent a string of communications from the agency that pretty much affirmed for me that I need to find another way to make a living. Apparently, this project was drawing to a close. A number of people on the project had been told that they would be working another four weeks or so on the privilege log. These folks went home Friday night secure in the knowledge that they still had a project for another month, more or less.

Imagine their surprise when they got an email from the agency that night saying "Yeah, you're fired," just like everybody else on the project. No more work, done, go home, stay there.

Naturally, having been told they were being kept on for another four weeks or so to work on privilege issues, the privilege people deluged the agency with emails demanding clarification. Surely the "You're fired" email did not apply to those people told they would be working on privilege issues for four more weeks.

In response, they received an email that said, "No, really, you're fired. Seriously you guys."

Disheartened, no doubt they resigned themselves to their fate, victims of Rule No. 1. Then the people who thought they had a privilege gig got another email. This one said, "Disregard the previous email. You're not fired."

No doubt there was much rejoicing. Unemployment avoided, starvation averted, the ability to pay bills maintained. What's not to like?

And then came email No. 4, which said "Disregard the previous email. You're still fired."

That's the last I heard about that project. Quite a weekend, I guess. Glad my project continues apace, but it still makes me want to find a new way to make a living. Not sure my chain could take a yank like that.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Cosmic disappointment

Went out tonight to see the Perseid meteor shower. About three-quarter overcast, so not much in the way of clear sky. Think I saw a couple meteors in my peripheral vision, but nothing for sure. Bummer that after a summer of damn near no overcast, tonight had to be socked in. Alas. I might try again later, although it already is pretty late. Poot. Maybe next year.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

My apologies

I fixed enchiladas tonight and was about halfway through when I realized this would have been a good food porn post. Rather than produce a post that left out photos of the early steps, I decided I would simply have to make enchiladas again soon and document the process for a food porn post. Stay tuned.

At least it's something he's good at

Thomas Sowell is easily one of the smartest guys walking the planet today. He has a recent column of random observations, just a short paragraph each, that proves this once again. I found this one particularly amusing:
Despite political differences, it is hard not to feel sorry for White House press secretary Jay Carney for all the absurdities his job requires him to say with a straight face. What is he going to do when this administration is over? Wear a disguise, change his name, or be put into a witness-protection program?
Let's face it: few press secretaries have every been required to spew the demonstrably false statements that Carney does. They all have to spin; often they have to dodge. All have occasionally lied with a caveat. None, I think, has had to simply ignore facts the way Carney has. Fortunately, his background as a reporter at Time magazine prepared him for this.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

This is gorgeous

Trust me, follow the link to an astounding photo from a guy I am coming to view as my personal Arctic photographer.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Knowledge of U.S. geography not required to be president

You may insert your "57 states" joke here, as Instapundit says, but Barry really, truly is not real up on U.S. geography. Unlike the 57-states comment, Barry can't cop a "tired" plea due to the rough campaign schedule: this is part of his scripted spiel:
LENO:  You mentioned infrastructure.  Why is that a partisan issue?  I live in a town, the bridge is falling apart, it’s not safe.  How does that become Republican or Democrat?  How do you not just fix the bridge?  (Laughter and applause.)
THE PRESIDENT:  I don’t know.  As you know, for the last three years, I’ve said, let’s work together.  Let’s find a financing mechanism and let’s go ahead and fix our bridges, fix our roads, sewer systems, our ports.  [You know], the Panama [Canal] is being widened so that these big supertankers can come in.  Now, that will be finished in 2015.  If we don’t deepen our ports all along the Gulf — places like Charleston, South Carolina, or Savannah, Georgia, or Jacksonville, Florida — if we don’t do that, those ships are going to go someplace else.  And we’ll lose jobs.  Businesses won’t locate here.
Problem? None of the ports mentioned is on the Gulf of Mexico. They all are Atlantic seaboard ports.

Barry being a moron aside, ports are privately funded for the most part. The ports authority that coordinates activity and licenses berths, pierage, etc., often is a public entity, but shipping companies fund port facilities, as they should. If there is money to be made by dredging or whatever, it will happen. Why can't Barry grasp this simple concept? And how does he not know where Charleston is?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

How's that smart power working out?

I don't think the Egyptian military wants to date the U.S. anymore. I wasn't sure before, as you can see at the link, but I am now (sorry about the link to Slate). An interview with Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt’s defense minister, armed forces commander, and deputy prime minister and the guy who is driving everything in Egypt right now, yielded this quote about the U.S. and the Obama administration's so-called smart power:
You left the Egyptians, you turned your back on the Egyptians, and they won’t forget that. Now you want to continue turning your backs on Egyptians? The U.S. interest and the popular will of the Egyptians don’t have to conflict. We always asked the U.S. officials to provide advice to the former president to overcome his problems.
We fucked our 30-year ally Hosni Mubarak in favor of a popular uprising, then we fucked the democracy-minded people behind that uprising in favor of the Islamist, West-hating  Muslim Brotherhood. Any surprise the pro-democracy forces in Egypt don't want us to fuck them again?

Please, step away from the phone

Smart phones doubtless will be the death of Western society as we know it. All these people wandering around, eyes glued to their smart phone as they do whatever it is that can't wait until they stop walking, are going to be killed, either in traffic or by me. Mostly in traffic, probably, but I'm about ready to start claiming my fair share. And then once they sit down, they get to doing all the stuff on their smart phone that they decided could wait until they weren't walking anymore. Probably Angry Birds, Words with Friends, or something equally vital.

While we eagerly await those deaths, though, it is becoming clear that what we have lacked in our modern vocabulary has been a word -- a single word, not "wandering-around-eyes-glued-to-your-smart-phone-running-into-people-because-apparently-you-can't-stop-doing-something-meaningless," which is way too long for common usage -- to describe this behavior. Until now.

And that word is "phonesturbation." So, if you are a phonesturbator who is constantly walking around phonesturbating, you might want to lift your eyes from the screen and pay attention to where you're going. It might not make you go blind, or grow hair on your palms. But it might.

Maybe a little tone-deaf

Heard an advertisement on the radio yesterday. It started out, "How do federal IT professionals describe themselves? Competent? Customer-focused? Dedicated? . . . " I still don't know what the ad was for, because I was laughing too hard to hear the rest of it. Only inside the Beltway would an advertiser not realize that those are not the words that come to mind when people think of the federal government.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Obamacare rally goes so local that only one person shows

I don't want to link to The Politico, so I won't. However, it remains possible for me to provide information on the Democratic Party newsletter that is Politico. As Breitbart's Big Journalism site notes, Politico realized one of its headlines was too honest, and so substituted a more favorable, less honest headline without noting that they had done so:

This was the original headline:
--
Here is today's headline, which currently holds a prominent top-spot on Politico's home page:
 
It would appear that going local is what we call it when, as Spinal Tap said, their "appeal is becoming more selective."

Kind of makes you want to visit

Romeo Alpha Foxtrot has some more good pics here and, of course, all over his blog. As always, I recommend a visit. A little taste of the Great White North:


The highway that wasn't. Definitely check out the rest of RAF's stuff.

Long-term food porn

At times, the bounty of the garden exceeds the capacity of the stomach. Fresh produce is, above all, a use-it-or-lose-it proposition. You have to cook it, eat it, preserve it or toss it. Usually, things like beans, peas, strawberries, and such aren't a problem, especially with two families eating them, as is the case with our growing project. Also, neighbors can find themselves the beneficiaries of a bountiful harvest. Potatoes, onions, garlic, carrots -- these things last a while, even after harvest, allowing demand to catch up to supply.

Still, there are times when spoilage threatens, particularly with crops like tomatoes, beans, zucchini and peppers, which have a bad habit of producing at a tremendous pace once they start to come in. We've already dealt with how to handle and over-supply of zucchini: make bread, people, then freeze it or give it away. Today, we deal with the problem of peppers. Not bell peppers, which have been more sparse this year (I have a method of dealing with those, as well, but I have to have a lot of them to demonstrate it here. Maybe next year.) but hot peppers.

This year, we planted a variety of peppers, including jalapenos, habaneros, banana peppers and some long, green string-bean looking ones whose name escapes me. They are varying degrees of hot. You can preserve these one of two ways: pickling, which I have in the past found dissatisfying -- Peter Piper may have picked a peck of pickled peppers, but they what the fuck did he do with them? Yeah, I don't know, either -- or drying. This post deals with drying.

If you have a food dehydrator -- I do, but it was busy this weekend -- you can dry your peppers in that, but it takes longer. The method I used, totally valid, is to dry peppers in the oven at low temperature. Still takes a good while -- about 12 hours at 200 degrees F -- but the method should be available to everyone. Side note: Yes, you can make chili powder this way, but only if you grew enough chili peppers. The pepper I am producing here is more generic hot pepper, for use in spicy foods, Mexican food, etc. You can add it to chili to turn up the heat, but this is not chili powder, per se.

Anyway, get a broiling pan with the rack, so that air can circulate under the peppers. Place your peppers on the pan thusly:


Yes, I dried more peppers than that. This is just a sampling. Anyway, set your oven temp at 200, put the peppers in, and check back in after about 8 hours. Could take up to 12 hours, but start checking at 8. As peppers become crispy, take them out. Not all peppers will dry at the same rate. When it's done, you'll have a bunch of dried peppers that look like this:


Now, you will need a mortar and pestle. Everybody has one, right? Jeez.


You will take your dried peppers, remove the stems by pinching off the top of the pepper -- this should also pull most of the seeds out for you, as well. Crunch those suckers up and put them in the bowl of the mortar -- or the pestle, whichever it is. (I kid -- the mortar is the bowl.)


Grind that crap like your life depends on it or, as Xavier used to say, work that sucker to death:


When that sucker is worked, it looks like this:


This pepper is hot; don't touch your eyes or mouth, morons. Store it in an airtight jar -- a mason jar works, or one of those funky jars with the hinge, rubber seal and clamping mechanism. You know what I'm talking about. Anyway, you want something hot, throw this pepper in. It lasts forever.

My walk of shame

July ended with fewer than a post-per-day average, the first time that has happened on this blog since August 2012. I hang my head in shame. I look for someone to blame. I vow things can't stay the same. Then I seek a dame. I could easily turn this into a blues song. Anyway, I'll try to be better about posting. On the other hand, you try posting daily on a blog while working 12 hours a day and commuting 4. Yeah, suck it. Sorry, that wasn't very reader-friendly.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

I wasn't going to do anything with this, but now I am

A friend of mine recently emailed me what amounted to a meme, an internet thing that started on Facebook. The essence of the meme is questioning why so many people were agitating for "Justice for Travon," referring to Travon Martin, of course, while no one seems to be upset about the shooting death of Antonio West (or Antonio Santiago, a confusion that apparently stems from the different last names of his parents, which may or may not indicate that they are not married. Dunno.) First, here is the text of the email sent to me:
Hello. Don’t recognize me? That’s OK; I understand.
 My name was Antonio West. I was the 13-month old child who was shot in the face at point blank range by two black teens, who were attempting to rob my mother, who was also shot. I think my murder and my mommy’s wounding made the news for maybe a day, and then disappeared. A Grand Jury of my mommy's peers from Brunswick, Georgia ruled the black teens who murdered me will not face the death penalty... too bad it was me who got the death sentence from my killers instead, because Mommy didn’t have the money they demanded. See, my family made the mistake of being white in a 73% non-white neighborhood, but my murder wasn’t ruled a ‘hate crime’. Oh, and President Obama didn’t take a single moment to acknowledge my murder. He couldn’t have any children who could possibly look like me - so why should he care?I’m one of the youngest murder victims in our great Nation's history, but the media didn’t care to cover the story of my being killed in cold blood.There isn’t a white equivalent of Al Sharpton, because if there was he would be branded a ‘racist’. So no one’s rushing to Brunswick, Georgia to demonstrate and demand ‘justice’ for me. There’s no ‘White Panther’ party, either, to put a bounty on the lives of the two black teens who murdered me. I have no voice, I have no representation, and unlike those who shot me in the face while I sat innocently in my stroller - I no longer have my life.
The email included this photo, from Facebook:


Of course you include that picture. He's a cute kid. Or was. I assume a bullet to the face detracted from his cuteness.

In any event, I was not going to pass along this meme. After all, arrests were made, and somebody is likely to be punished for the crime. Case closed.

Then I saw this. I don't know what the rest of the site looks like, how it leans philosophically or anything else about it. I only know that the person who wrote the linked article is a moron. His/her main point seems to be this:
However, the material difference in the cases is significant — while George Zimmerman was known the night of the shooting to be Martin’s killer, he was not arrested. In the Antonio West case, the arrest of two black teens was immediate, and the boys were charged in the murder of West-Santiago right away. The protests at first over Trayvon Martin were due to a lack of arrest, and then again when Zimmerman was not convicted.
The flawed logic here is awesome. Does this pinhead think that this case will suddenly garner more attention if the shooters are not convicted? It won't. Does this pinhead believe that shooting a guy who is sitting on top of you and pounding away on you, telling you that "you're going to die tonight" is the same as shooting a 13-month -old toddler in a stroller?  Zimmerman was not arrested immediately because the police believed -- and a jury confirmed -- that it appeared he killed Trayvon in self-defense. Any chance the turds who shot Antonio West acted in self-defense?

Like it or not, the meme going around points out that that Trayvon Martin's shooting got publicity because it suited a political cause, not because it was outrageous. Weeks passed before "outrage" developed over the lack of an arrest in the Martin shooting, even though police knew who pulled the trigger. That's because it was that long before race hucksters like Al Sharpton heard about the story and decided to make hay out of it. Please stop telling me that Trayvon is the new Emmett Till.

And if you want to be outraged, please note that 700 or so people were killed in Chicago between the time George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin and when he was acquitted of second-degree murder in that shooting. A little more than a year, 700 homicides in a single city. Outrage, anyone?, And, BTW, most were shooting deaths, in a city where guns are illegally illegal. Hmmmmm.

Chapter the umpty-umpth, in which our Fearless Blogger finds validation

I went to happy hour with a couple guys I know today. Yeah, I went back to work afterward and billed for some sloppy coding, but that's not the point here. One of they guys invited friends from elsewhere, one of whom was a young woman who sat next to me. We talked. She, apparently, used to work a lot at the agency for which I was working when this blog was begun. She obviously had read this post, because the following conversation ensued:

Her: There was this blog that gave one of our project managers the nickname Death, and we . . .

Me: That was no "this blog." That was my blog.

Her: Oh my God! That was you!? Because after that, anytime he said something we didn't like we'd say, "Shut up, Death."

Nice to know someone is reading.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

I'm detecting a pattern here

Here we are, the last day of the month, and I am trying desperately to up my post count. Let's face it, I haven't done enough posting this month, and traffic is down accordingly (although not as much as I have implied -- six months ago I would have been happy with current traffic levels, but having built traffic above that, I am no happy to be back down again). Nonetheless, I vow to once again meet the average I have maintained since the beginning of the year of at least one post per day. Not going to hit that for this month, but I will strive for it in the future. Especially since when I don't post, people don't bother to come by.

TNR writer sticks to his guns: Big Law is dying

There seems to be a battle between former New Republic writers now working for the Washington Post and current New Republic writers who believe that Big Law is on the ropes. Look here and  here for earlier posts, but basically TNR's Noam Scheiber -- not a name known to me -- contends that Big Law's business model is dead and almost none of the major firms that have relied on that model for decades will continue to do so. Nor will the big firms bounce back:
This is why, to move to the third objection, it doesn’t strike me as very plausible that the industry will simply bounce back the way it has after previous recessions. The world I describe in the piece is basically the world the legal profession has been drifting toward for two decades.* In fact, there are good reasons to think the trajectory has taken a turn for the worse lately—that the legal profession won’t even grow at the same rate as the economy. For example, legal expenses didn't used to be a big enough share of a corporation’s bottom line to be worth vetting very closely, which encouraged firms to pad their bills. Now, according to The Wall Street Journal, clients are using sophisticated legal software to do the job for them, allowing them to effortlessly flag all sorts of dubious charges. That can’t be good for big law firms.
Scheiber's view that the practice of law will change in response to changes in technology and economics -- especially the practice of law on the multi-million dollar corporate scale, where even small efficiency advances can save millions -- shouldn't be shocking. Contract attorneys already are seeing jobs disappear or be shortened by some of the technological changes Scheiber talks about:
Similarly, corporations now have more alternatives to hiring law firms than ever before—like contract attorneys and the “legal process outsourcers” who procure them—and they’re using them increasingly often. Between 2004 and 2010, according to data collected by Bill Henderson of Indiana University, law firm employment dropped by 4 percent, or about 47,000 jobs. During the same period, employment in “all other legal services” (like outsourcers) increased by 50%, or about 8,000 jobs. Obviously, some of that change was driven by the pinch of the recession. But it’s hard to imagine clients reversing these trends as the economy recovers. Recent history suggests that outsourced jobs tend to stay outsourced, whatever the original reason for the move.
All in all, I think it trends out as bad news for everybody thinking about spending -- or who already spent -- lots of money on a law degree. The Big Law jobs are going away, and the new, efficiency- and technology-based model is going to provide more contract attorney jobs, but not necessarily with the kind of hours and rates that used to make contract work attractive, to the extent anything did.  How's that exit strategy coming?

Hat tip to Instapundit for this article.

Of course, WaPo could be wrong

I am not normally a big fan of the uber-lefty New Republic. However, I find it ironic that the WaPo author of the article about  a study claiming law school is totally worth the money is a former New Republic author (as are all but one of the other authors on that WaPo "blog") in light of this article in, you guessed it, The New Republic. In this article, a writer for TNR makes the case that the high-paying Big Law jobs that make it possible for the WaPo-cited study to contend that law school is worth the money are, in fact, disappearing.
“Stable” is not the way anyone would describe a legal career today. In the past decade, twelve major firms with more than 1,000 partners between them [sic] have collapsed entirely. The surviving lawyers live in fear of suffering a similar fate, driving them to ever-more humiliating lengths to edge out rivals for business. “They were cold-calling,” says the lawyer whose firm once turned down no-name clients. And the competition isn’t just external. Partners routinely make pitches behind the backs of colleagues with ties to a client. They hoard work for themselves even when it requires the expertise of a fellow partner. They seize credit for business that younger colleagues bring in.
And then there are the indignities inflicted on new lawyers, known as associates. The odds are increasingly long that a recent law-school grad will find a job. Five years ago, during a recession, American law schools produced 43,600 graduates and 75 percent had positions as lawyers within nine months. Last year, the numbers were 46,500 and 64 percent. In addition to the emotional toll unemployment exacts, it is often financially ruinous. The average law student graduates $100,000 in debt.
 I guess there are studies that can prove either side of this case. But I don't think one-third of medical school graduates find themselves no working as doctors. Just sayin'. My advice to anyone thinking about going to law school remains, "You call that thinking?"

Editor's note: The reason I put in the [sic] notation above is to let you know that the use of "between them" was in the original text. When discussing aggregate numbers involving 12 separate entities, the proper usage would be "among them." And the Ninja Grammarian strikes again.

WaPo: Law school totes worth the money, if you can get a job

This is a couple weeks old, but I've been meaning to comment on it because it is so full of shit. The author -- I hesitate to call him a blogger, because he is an employee of the Washington Post and simply publishes on what loosely qualifies as a blog -- manages to find a study that shows, apparently, that everybody should go to law school because it is so totally worth it. First, of course, they set up the bad news:
The numbers the skeptics cite are sobering: 12.8 percent of members of the class of 2012 were still unemployed in February 2013. Only 64.4 percent got jobs that actually required passing the bar. The median starting salary — $61,245 — was about 15 percent below the 2009 median. At law firms, starting salaries were down 30.8 percent.
Then they let you know that all that bad news doesn't matter:
That all sounds really bad. But they get away from the central question here: is the amount of money law graduates make greater than the amount they would have made if they hadn’t gone? And is that premium greater than the cost of law school? The answer to both questions, a new study finds, is yes. Seton Hall’s Michael Simkovic and Rutgers’s Frank McIntyre conclude, “For most law school graduates, the net present value of a law degree typically exceeds its cost by hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
Value versus cost, right? Well, the study has already established that  more than 35 percent of 2012 law school grads fucked up -- they spent a lot of fucking money to get a degree that did nothing to help them get the job they got. Except, of course, for the 12.8 percent who really fucked up by spending all that money on law school and didn't get a job at all. But hey, no problem, right, because they acknowledge that law school has costs. The argument, apparently, is that those costs are outweighed by the benefits:
Of course, law school has costs too. But the average tuition for three years is about $90,000, far less than even the 25th percentile of law school grads earn. Even if you assume an annual tuition of $60,000 — above what even the most expensive law schools charge for tuition, fees, and books — that comes to $180,000, below the $350,000 premium that students at the 25th percentile get. The annual rate of return at the median, in real terms, is about 13 percent, well above, say, stock or bond returns. “These results suggest that even at the 25th percentile, the value of a law degree exceeds typical net-tuition costs by hundreds of thousands of dollars,” the authors write.
The problem with that logic is that "students at the 25th percentile" have to go to the most expensive schools to have any shot at the high-paying jobs, and those high-paying jobs are becoming more and more scarce.

No one seems to disagree that there are fewer law jobs at all levels. This study seems to say law school is worth it if you get a job, ignoring that a disturbing -- and growing -- percentage of law grads aren't getting the law jobs that make law school worth it. Just ask that barrista with a J.D. next time you go to Starbucks.