Pizza, ready to eat?

A military research lab in Massachusetts, tasked with developing ever better field rations for our deployed troops, apparently are closing in on perfecting a recipe for that oft-desired meal: pizza.


According to the report, the lab is perfecting a recipe which will give a field ration pizza a three-year shelf life and not require refrigeration.

This may well be the finest development in military foodstuffs since Tactical Bacon.

Read all about it here: Pizza That Lasts Years? It Could Soon Be a Reality

And since you’re here, don’t forget about those tactical sandwiches. mmmMMMmmm.


It’s the War on Christmas, Charlie Brown!

After a long cease-fire, hostilities once more are heating up, with reports coming in from checkout lanes and talking heads stationed all along the front lines. “Remember the 25th!” and all that jazz.

Yep, the “War on Christmas” is back. It never really went away. It was just in remission.


From my observation post here on the periphery of the conflict, I see the first battles of every new campaign unfold each year with clockwork precision on The Day After Thanksgiving. Code named “Black Friday,” it usually is the first wave of any renewed assault, though I’ve been receiving reports detailing the increasing numbers of early reconnaissance patrols and other probing actions. However, after initial contact with the enemy, legions of soldiers now are descending upon unsuspecting civilian marketplaces in order to seize territory and secure supply routes.

During more recent engagements, pre-emptive strikes have been launched in the hours before B-Day to devastating effect, simultaneously securing footholds on numerous mercantile beachheads. What do these brave souls face upon taking the fight to the enemy? The harshest invective ever to assail human ears, rivaling even the worst oratory ever offered by Tokyo Rose, Hanoi Hannah or Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf, and embodied by such offending salutations as “Happy Holidays!” or even the dreaded “Seasons Greetings.”

This bit of rambling was brought about after reading an article a Facebook friend linked a few weeks ago. Would you like to know more? The Sarah Palin War On Christmas Soundboard

Yeah, that’s entertainment.

Don’t believe the lies posted by the godless heathens! The fight must continue, or all will be lost! See your local recruiter and find out how you, too, can serve the war effort.

Or, you know, not.

Let that be your last lobster trap.

It is obvious to the most simpleminded that Lokai is of an inferior breed.

The obvious visual evidence, Commissioner, is that he is of the same breed as yourself.

Are you blind, Captain Nemo? Well, look at me. Look at me!

You’re brown on one side and orange on the other.

I am brown on the right side.

I fail to see the significant difference.

Lokai is orange on the right side. All of his people are orange on the right side.

lobster 2-tone lobster, orange and brown, shown in Maine

Sorry. I saw the story on the news, and the dialogue from the episode just popped into my head.

If you make a Star Trek video, the internet will lose its shit.

Apparently, I’m supposed to be outraged over this:

According to various news stories I’ve read, this is one of two “in-house” training videos created by/for the Internal Revenue Service three years ago. This one, the Trek spoof, was created as part of some kind of opening presentation at a training and leadership conference. The second one (which I’ve not seen) apparently was a riff on Gilligan’s Island.

The total cost to make both videos reportedly was in the neighborhood of $60,000. If I’m to believe some of the comments I’ve been reading, this also is the exact amount needed to execute 25,000 kittens. Or, something.

You know this shit is serious because CONGRESS GOT INVOLVED, wanting to know what was what. You know Congress, those bold advocates and champions for at least a portion of our citizenry. Apparently, somebody within those hallowed halls has expressed grave concern over possible misuse of taxpayer dollars, and so on and so forth. Aside from their own salaries, of course.

Having watched the video, my first reaction is that it’s horrific, but no more so than…oh…every other corporate training video in the history of the medium. Given the subject matter and the fact that you’re having to make yet another lame-assed corporate training video, I can understand the desire to pump into the mix anything which might resemble humor or whimsy, because at the end of it all, we’re still talking about a corporate training video, and those suck.

(He’s ready for his close up.)

Predictably, Trekkies have knots in their red shirts, because the parody video is rife with various errors and other affronts to Star Trek, such as incorrect uniforms, inaccurate set design, incorrect use of Trek terminology in the dialogue, and so forth. My initial response to this was that I had seen such observations before, namely back when the first of Hustler’s Star Trek porn parodies was released. Of course, in that case, the sets and uniforms and whatnot actually did look a damned sight better than what the IRS gave us, and there was that whole added advantage of having people boning each other.

Um, so I’ve heard.

(Yes, this is a real movie. So, I’m told.)

The big uproar stems from the fact that the money involved–again, a total of $60,000, spread across this and the other video–seems to have constituted the commissioning of an egregious sin on the part of the IRS, aided and abetted as it was with the use of taxpayer dollars. This, of course, is different from all the other evil and skullduggery they perpetrate that’s funded through charitable donations and bake sales. “Massive waste” and other terms are being thrown about, with calls for investigations and beheadings. Okay, I’m not sure about the beheadings, but I’m willing to bet that at least one person out there thinks that’s not a bad idea.


Now, I don’t know about the money, and whether it may have been too much to spend for such an endeavor. In some ways, I think we all can agree that it certainly wasn’t enough…know what I mean? Anyhoo, as I know nothing about the costs involved in the creation of such a production, I have no way to know how much is too much. I’m assuming some of the work had to be contracted, likely to some private sector outfit, so there’s something of an “Okay, cool” factor for throwing some money at whatever local businesses may have been hired. That part doesn’t bug me at all, really.

As for the people shouting and wailing about this…are you fucking serious? This is what’s got undies wedged into ass cracks? Get a grip, people. It’s a corporate training video. Every company of any size makes these things, and as we’ve already discussed, they all suck. There are laws in place requiring such productions to suck. That’s their whole reason for being, for fuck’s sake.

As for the money, it’s almost certain that whatever group produced this thing has funds allocated for training…again, just like any other decent-sized company. This, presumably, would include creating videos or whatever other “aids” might be required, and this is what somebody thought might be a different and perhaps even fun way to mix up the tired old cliche’ that is the sucky corporate training video.

Congress has seen fit to “rebuke” the IRS for this bit of weirdness from years past, and the IRS has offered up an explanation: ABC News: IRS Regrets Making Star Trek Video

No apologies have been extended to the Star Trek community, of course, for all of the various canon and continuity violations the video contains. This is worse than President Obama’s “Jedi Mind Meld” gaffe earlier this month. I mean, even Brannon Braga has been overheard saying he could not believe such grievous errors were allowed to go unchecked. That’s how serious this is, yo!

Meanwhile, as people are up in arms and crying about this sort of stupid shit, Congress goes and slides this one right by us:

‘Monsanto Protection Act’ slips silently through US Congress

Priorities, people.

Me? I’d be curious to see a nickel by nickel accounting of the money Hoover’d up by firms like Haliburton during the period when these shitty videos were being produced. Or, maybe we could see a final tally on the TARP funds diverted as bonuses to the CEOs and other executives of companies which at the time were drowning in the very debt those people had created as a consequence of their piss-poor decision making and greed. How about the money shoveled as federal subsidies to the oil companies? I know they’ve been struggling in this sluggish economy, but maybe it’s time to see if they can make it on their own for a while, okay?

So, fuck Congress and their “rebukes.”

(But, yeah, that video does suck something fierce, right?)

Lost? My wife and her search dog can find you.

Those of you who read this space with any frequency know that I’ve mentioned the volunteer work my wife performs as part of a search and rescue team of dogs and their specially-trained handlers. The team assists law enforcement to find lost or missing persons, alive or deceased, depending on the situation. They train the dogs to make finds both on land as well as in the water. There’s a lot of work and training involved, for the dog as well as the handler. The typical window for training a dog for operational status can last as long as 18 months, and that’s just to get started. For the handlers, their training and certifications, in addition to learning how to work the dog, also involve such subjects as first aid, land navigation, rappelling, and wilderness survival, just to name a few off the top of my head.

I brag a lot to folks about Michi and the work she does. Currently, she’s in the process of training her second dog for the program, Snickers. Her first search dog, Whistle, had a pretty good knack for this kind of work, but Snickers seems to have a natural affinity for it.

Last Saturday, a local small-town paper, the Lee’s Summit Tribune, published a very nice article on the team, in which Michi and Snickers received some nice coverage. Michi also is interviewed in the piece, and the reporter, Mary Pechar, even acted as a “lost person” as part of her research for the article:

Lee’s Summit Tribune: “Search and Rescue – Hard Working Dogs”

The print edition of the article features three photos, two of which are Snickers in action, but the web version has this photo:

Photo Credit: Fred Poese/Lee’s Summit Tribune

To learn more about the team and their work, check out their website: MoSAR: Missouri Search and Rescue K-9

Thanks very much to Mary Pechar and the Lee’s Summit Tribune for the great article!

“Brainwashing,” defined.

A little public service announcement.

This, contrary to what One Million Moms Six Moms With Too Much Time On Their Hands and a Shitty Website* and some other folks might think, is not brainwashing:

DC Comics’ New Gay Green Lantern & Marvel’s First Same-Sex Marriage

On the other hand, this very much is brainwashing:

Toddler Sings in Church: ‘Ain’t No Homos Gonna Make It to Heaven’

You’re welcome.

* = term coined by Paul Constant at The Stranger

The coolest thing you’ll read today, and maybe tomorrow, too.

I’ve read a few of Harry Turtledove’s books, but I wouldn’t consider myself a hardcore fan. You know what? You don’t have to be a fan of Mr. Turtledove in order to be a fan of what he did for one person.

Nachu Bhatnagar is a young man suffering from terminal cancer. He has endured the pain and stress of chemotherapy and radiation treatment and the toll they’ve taken on his already embattled body, as well as the loss of his father. His friend, trying to lift Bhatnagar’s spirits, asked him what he might want to do before he dies, to which Bhatnagar replied that one thing he would regret missing out on was seeing how Mr. Turtledove’s alternate history series The War That Came Early might end.

Bhatnagar’s friend wrote a letter to Mr. Turtledove explaining the situation, and the author responded not only by providing the young man with an advance copy of the series’ forthcoming novel, but also agreeing to share his plans for the rest of the story to him and him alone.

Read the whole story–including the original letter to Mr. Turtledove–and watch some accompanying video here: io9: Sci-fi author spoils his entire book series for terminally ill fan

Thanks to Mr. Turtledove for such a simple yet wonderful gesture, and best wishes to Nachu Bhatnagar as he continues his fight.

Curfew! Gesundheit!

Those of you who don’t live in or near the Kansas City area but perhaps have a news fetish for the goings-on in other parts of the country/world may be aware that our fair town is experiencing some “issues” of late. We seem to have a problem with the young’uns.

You see, the Country Club Plaza, the city’s premiere shopping district, has been the locale of choice for large groups of teenagers on the weekends. We’ve had a handful of incidents where one of those trendy flash mobs broke out and caused no small amount of grief to other shoppers, business owners, security, and police. Things got a bit crazier this past weekend when somebody decided to fire a gun. Three teens were injured (none fatally, thank goodness), and naturally folks in the area were a little upset. Our mayor, who was actually on site to see for himself what all the fuss was about in the wake of past incidents, was perhaps fifty yards from where the shots were fired. His bodyguards (two officers from the KCPD) tossed him to the ground and drew their weapons, fearing for his safety. As of today, folks are up in arms about the incident, and calls for a curfew — the Plaza itself, if not the entire city — abound.

Check out what some folks have had to say, as relayed via, aka the website for the The Kansas City Star:

Kansas City working on new curfew
Plaza mayhem prompts call for change
KC mayor, bodyguards reject excuses for Plaza shooting
Mayer sends letter: New curfew possible

There’s already a city-wide curfew for unaccompanied minors supposedly in effect: 11pm during the week and midnight on weekends, with exceptions for those traveling to/from work. This new version would drop it to 9pm every night.

At first blush, this seems like a good idea. I don’t know that it needs to be a blanket thing, but some kind of graduated scale based on age might not be a bad idea. A 16-year old doesn’t need to be hassled on their way to or from their job at the movie theater or McDonald’s, after all. On the other hand, a 12 or 13-year old kid has no business being out and about, unsupervised, at midnight on a Saturday night. I also don’t think it should only be for certain parts of town. All that will do is send the shenanigans to some other location.

Then again, there’s conflicting information as to the effectiveness of such curfews as they work in other cities. Enforcing such laws would seem to place an additional strain on already stressed police departments. I’ve read some material by “anti-curfew” groups wondering why parents can’t be trusted to lay down and enforce such restrictions themselves, without the need for additional laws and cops to back them up.

Well, if it was that simple, we wouldn’t be talking about this shit, would we?

Some people are saying that the city needs to be better at providing “things to do” for these wayward youths, so as to discourage such unruly behavior. Personally, I think that’s horseshit, at least to a degree. The city (and, by extension, the city’s police force) isn’t a babysitting service, and neither are the business owners at the Plaza, or the malls, or the theaters, or wherever else kids hang out. You want to be out in public? Don’t act like an idiot.

(This advice goes for adults, too, but that’s a topic for a different day.)

Anyway, I’m not convinced that an outright curfew is really part of a solution. There are plenty of good kids out there, who just want to hang with their friends, go to the movies or eat or whatever, and don’t hassle people while they do it. They shouldn’t be punished just because they’re of a certain age. But hey, if the cops have to haul your underage ass to the station or back to your house because you were bored and looking for something to do, so you decided to start some shit at the mall? Here’s something you can do: community service — mowing grass or clearing brush in the city-maintained areas, or picking up trash, or painting buildings, or whatever. Somewhere in this town is a very long list of very unglamorous yet necessary jobs that need doing, but for which the budget is either too small or nonexistent. Surely these dots can be connected by someone with the proper administrative savvy over at City Hall, right?

What else? Oh, yeah! The parents. I agree with Mayor James, in that a big part of this problem starts right there at home. So, with that in mind, I say to parents: Hey, dumbasses! DO YOUR JOB! You bred ’em, so their antics are on you. That doesn’t translate to you dumping them off at the mall or the Plaza or wherever while you head on over to the Power & Light to get in on the 2-for-1 draw action, or to one of the casinos, or back to your place to bone your neighbors during the apartment complex’s swingers party. Stop making the rest of us look bad. That, or allow those of us who take our parenting duties seriously the option of lining up to smack you in the genitals with a baseball bat.

On the other hand, I have no doubt that there are some parents out there who are well-meaning people, but they’re in a tight spot or just overwhelmed and could use a break. Maybe they’re working overnight and/or double shifts just to make ends meet, and they get snookered by their crafty spawn. They might not deserve to be tarred and feathered, and it’d be nice if there were always mechanisms in place via schools, churches, community centers, the YMCA, or whatever which could offer to kids some alternative to simply wandering around and into trouble. It’s not an easy problem to fix, I’ll grant you, but there are enough good parents out there facing this sort of challenge who find a way to make it work, because they know it’s what they’re supposed to be doing. No reality TV show for these folks, or some other flavor of fleeting fame designed to celebrate the dysfunctional or self-absorbed or just plain narcissistic among us. Nope, all they get are the simple rewards to be savored from having raised a good kid.

Yeah, I know: How boring.

Some idiots are clamoring for the parents to face jail time if their kids violate the curfew. Um…how does that solve the problem of unmonitored minors? Better idea: Fine the parent(s) of teens who get arrested for breaking a real law. If it’s a misdemeanor or even if no formal charges are filed, fine them just because a cop had to haul their kids to the station and wait for a parent to come get them. That money can then be pumped into funding the aforementioned community service programs, and some of these ideas to give kids “alternatives” to acting like morons in public venues. If the parent(s) can’t pay the fines, then put their asses to work right next to their community-serving offspring. Consider it city-sponsored family time.

I wonder how many parents are thinking that a bat to the junk’s sounding pretty good right now.

R-NY seeks SWF. WTF?

You know, there are some people who, quite simply, are too stupid to be allowed outside their home without a leash.

Unfortunately, it appears that…sometimes…we elect such people to public office.

Adding yet more weight to the prevailing theory that many males just do not have enough blood to power both their brain AND their dick, we have this latest example of an elected official doing something he really ought not to be doing. At least, he shouldn’t be doing it where other people might be able to see, point, and mock.

The Huffington Post: Rep. Chris Lee Resigns After Craigslist Photos Come to Light

We’ll set aside for the moment that this is yet another trooper who’s broken ranks and gone rogue from the “Family Values(tm)” brigade. We’ll forego commenting on how he doesn’t believe gays and lesbians should marry, as that would certainly taint the sacred institution of holy matrimony such as what he undoubtedly shares with his wife. We won’t even delve too deeply into the fact that he’s doing all of this while at the same time coming down on the “Bigoted Asshole and 3rd Degree Douchebag” side of issues like “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and abortion rights.

No. Instead, let’s talk about what utter moron this guy seems to be.

To borrow one of my favorite epithets from Spartacus: Blood and Sand, how in the name of Jupiter’s Cock is a UNITED STATES CONGRESSMAN, at this point in the 21st century, so ignorant about how computers and the internet work? Particularly when he’s going to have something like this posted to his own page on the House of Representatives website:

Congressman Chris Lee – Tonawanda News: Teen Internet safety must be a priority
(Thanks to bill_leisner for the link.)

Oh, but no. This guy, he goes prowling for a girlfriend on the internet, using his real name, an e-Mail address that features his real name and which can be tracked back to him, and then posts a photo of himself to his prospective booty call. Does he expect that the lady on the other end won’t at least do the preliminary “Google His Ass” move before agreeing to meet with him?

Tell me that didn’t have “trainwreck” stamped all over it. I mean, the jokes are beating the shit out of each other in order to be the first ones to write themselves.


Karma. It’s a bitch.

A local indie paper here in Kansas City, The Pitch, has a knack for reporting stories from the metro area that always bring a smile to my face, and sometimes they even elicit an outright belly laugh.

Today brought one of those stories.

This is one I read in the paper’s online edition: It seems that during last week’s major snow storm, a preacher’s car got stuck in the snow. While one passerby stopped to render legitimate assistance, a couple of douchebags opportunists decided to take advantage of the preacher’s predicament and rob him at gunpoint. Said douchebags opportunists apparently already had done this to someone else earlier in the day.

C’mon, you see where this is going…. Three men allegedly rob a preacher stuck in the snow, subsequently get stuck in the snow

I love stories like this.