Archive for May, 2011

Peel: Not Just For Bananas

May 31, 2011 - 12:37 pm Comments Off

So continuing the theme of “Shit In My Spam Filter What Pisses Me Off,” today’s offering comes to us courtesy of an online purveyor of tacticool uselessness, Express Police Supply (deliberately un-linked). The subject line offers the enticement of “Now selling Civilian Firearms!” Investigating the link leads to confirmation that this is not in fact a new brand of firearm, etc, but in fact simply firearms that regular schmoes can purchase. Now, members of the law enforcement community who are regular readers of this blog obviously need not be told this, so kindly pardon a moment while I spell something out for the terminally worthless in the Us Vs Them segments of law enforcement.

POLICE ARE CIVILIANS YOU FUCKING TWATWAFFLES

Now I realize, unfortunately, that there are a truly saddening number (n > 0) of serving police officers who when confronted with the name “Robert Peel” would first assume it was an alias and try to find arrest warrants for it, and would take a good half hour of increasingly un-subtle hints before the connection to “The police are the public and the public are the police” was made, if made at all. And do let me point out that there are some excellent serving po-po so this is not a universal problem.

But if you look at an ad like that and have thoughts run through your precious little pea along the lines of “What do civilians need with a gun like that?” or consider cage-checks a for-points sport, or have entered on a report “The suspect was repeatedly subdued,” then I cordially invite you to swallow the muzzle of your undoubtedly rail-farm patrol rifle. With the fun switch that civilians have to pay extra for cranked all the way over.

No Means NO, Wayne.

May 27, 2011 - 10:38 am Comments Off

Look, I’m realistic enough to know that compared to the real 2A heros like Alan Gura and the 2nd Amendment Foundation, the NRA’s chief concern is with perpetuating the NRA, sort of like the NAACP. But at some point you gotta step back and look at your marketing. This morning in my spam filter, the NRA went from obnoxious buddy pushing their shoddy Mary Kay wine by the copy machine into… well, this:

From: Wayne LaPierre
Subj: I wrote this for you

I honestly couldn’t tell you what it has in it beyond that. The notion of Wafflin’ Wayne there personally scribing missives to lil’ ol’ me was creeptastic enough in and of itself to send visions of GLaDOS dancing through my head.

Seriously, Wayne. I just don’t like you that way. And after that? There is no fuckin’ way in hell I’m even touching any wine from you.

Update: Ok, I cowboy’d up and clicked it before deleting. It got worse.

Dear Stingray,
I’ve written a new book about safety strategies for you and your family.

Good for you, buddy. Just pay no mind to the sound of the shotgun charging, fresh mags seating, and the door being barricaded at the rally point.

Size Queens

May 26, 2011 - 4:44 pm Comments Off

Scratching about for content while fixing up the place to host guests (no content 4 u tomorrow, sorry), a friend asked me in the spirit of helpfulness whether the fixation on penis size men and women alike in many cultures seem to have is likely to be cultural, or genetic. So okay, an easy enough question to answer.

In terms of aiding the evolutionary success of its owner, a phallus has one purpose: deliver sperm to egg. This can either be a low-demand task that you don’t necessarily need any intromittent organ for at all- see most birds, fish, and many reptiles- or it can be a towering chore that requires the penile equivalent of advanced technology (elephants, rhinos). Whether it can move on its own, impress rivals, or otherwise do tricks are all highly secondary to this purpose, unless you are a female hyena, in which case zoologists have a long list of questions to ask you.

Most primates have relatively small penises in relation to their body size, with the most notable exception being humans. Why we ARE the exception has likely the most to do with our unique bipedal posture; a critter that locomotes on its knuckles, or swings about in trees, simply has an easier angle of penetration than we do. Anyone who has had heterosexual intercourse probably remembers the bit no one tells you about, which is that penetration requires more than just “lie on top of girl, thrust”.

In order to accomplish the task at hand, the penis needs to be big enough to penetrate far enough to give the sperm a fighting chance at reaching the end of their swim, and that big only. More is not necessarily better for fertilization purposes- too girthy and it simply may not fit (locker-room joking aside, this can be an actual problem for anatomically mismatched couples), too long and he may bang into the cervix, which can be very painful for the woman and is not mood-enhancing. Correspondingly, the average human penis is just about as big around and as long as the average human vagina is broad and deep- and just as there is some direct selective pressure on the human penis getting too small, there is a direct upper limit on how much larger the vagina can get- we’re already seriously pushing against the limits for what kind of opening we can fit in our pelvises without compromising the owner’s ability to walk and run, and the dangers of childbirth for mothers relative to other species show it.

In strict terms of fertilization success, bigger is not better, average is exactly best. If our cultural patterns don’t reflect that, it may be a strong hint that cultural patterns are extremely unreliable reflectors of directly linked biological fitness benefits.

So why the cultural patterns, which are admittedly common and widespread? Probably because the penis is a really obvious and “standout” difference between men and women, and because cultures in general tend to find things to hang virility off of and display it. (Okay I promise I’ll stop with the bad puns now.) There’s also the idea that bigger really does make sex better, which perhaps a majority of men, a smaller majority of virginal women, and a minority of experienced women who enjoy the sensation a lot all share- which goes less to “we are attracted to features that will directly increase our fitness” than it does to “we are attracted to features we think will gratify us sexually and emotionally and fitness is a payoff afterward”.

In any case, “culture, imagined virility display” is a much more sensible answer to why men are so much more interested in measuring penises than women tend to be.

Look Sexy For Me

May 25, 2011 - 4:34 pm Comments Off

Time for yet another edition of “you can keep your stereotypes close to your heart because IT’S SCIENCE NOW”. Today’s questionable venture: Women Find Happy Men Less Attractive.

Women find happy guys significantly less sexually attractive than swaggering or brooding men, according to a new University of British Columbia study that helps to explain the enduring allure of “bad boys” and other iconic gender types.

This may be a bit early in the article for this kind of nuance, but I generally find that when you’re describing something as “iconic”- meaning it has a very prominent cultural profile- I also find that making assumptions that they must be driven primarily by subconscious biological programming is kind of iffy to begin with.

The study — which may cause men to smile less on dates, and inspire online daters to update their profile photos — finds dramatic gender differences in how men and women rank the sexual attractiveness of non-verbal expressions of commonly displayed emotions, including happiness, pride, and shame.

You! The dating pool! Discard everything you know and act on these findings immediately! There is no way you can lose on this!

Very few studies have explored the relationship between emotions and attraction, and this is the first to report a significant gender difference in the attractiveness of smiles. The study, published online in the American Psychological Association journal Emotion, is also the first to investigate the attractiveness of displays of pride and shame.

Which actually does make me a bit more forgiving, given they haven’t had a lot of people screwing this up and discussing it and hashing it out, but it still really could have been approached better.

“While showing a happy face is considered essential to friendly social interactions, including those involving sexual attraction — few studies have actually examined whether a smile is, in fact, attractive,” says Prof. Jessica Tracy of UBC’s Dept. of Psychology. “This study finds that men and women respond very differently to displays of emotion, including smiles.”

What they haven’t gotten around to mentioning yet and I think is probably the most important thing about this whole damn study is they didn’t actually use people making displays of emotion. They got some volunteers to strike a pose associated with some emotion and used the still photographs of these people.

In a series of studies, more than 1,000 adult participants rated the sexual attractiveness of hundreds of images of the opposite sex engaged in universal displays of happiness (broad smiles), pride (raised heads, puffed-up chests) and shame (lowered heads, averted eyes).

If you’re studying innate, instinctive reactions to displays of emotion, wouldn’t it strike you that it might be slightly important that these displays be genuine? There aren’t that many samples of the photos included, but we’re not talking about about candid shots of people after winning an important game, or getting an award, or laughing their asses off, or getting chewed out by the boss in front of their co-workers. They’re pretty damn obviously just somebody striking a pose, and not professional models or actors, either. Primates have some of the most advanced and complex neurological ability in the world to read and process extremely minute differences in expression and inflection; this is in a lot of ways what our brains are built for, especially detection of insincerity.

Even if the displays in the photographs WERE genuine, there’s the small matter that we’re also not really designed to process people or emotions as still images; photography is such a hard art to master precisely BECAUSE catching a shot of a person with good expression is so difficult. As every political candidate knows, it’s remarkably easy to catch a still shot of someone looking goofy or fanatical or evil or generally insane, because as your face moves through words and expressions, often the still shots strike the viewer as weird and distorted, when they seem normal as part of a living, moving person’s expressions.

Either way I think assuming that still photos of posed models asked to strike a pose represent a 1:1 correlation to “displays of emotion” is just a little questionable.

The study found that women were least attracted to smiling, happy men, preferring those who looked proud and powerful or moody and ashamed. In contrast, male participants were most sexually attracted to women who looked happy, and least attracted to women who appeared proud and confident.

Here’s a question I have that’s not answered in the article: they say how many subjects they used to rate the photos, but how many models did they use?

“It is important to remember that this study explored first-impressions of sexual attraction to images of the opposite sex,” says Alec Beall, a UBC psychology graduate student and study co-author. “We were not asking participants if they thought these targets would make a good boyfriend or wife — we wanted their gut reactions on carnal, sexual attraction.” He says previous studies have found positive emotional traits and a nice personality to be highly desirable in a relationship partners.

Here’s a question for the audience at large: how often have you felt gut-level, carnal sexual attraction to a photo of a stranger that had no other context at all and wasn’t clearly designed to BE sexual?

Tracy and Beall say that other studies suggest that what people find attractive has been shaped by centuries of evolutionary and cultural forces. For example, evolutionary theories suggest females are attracted to male displays of pride because they imply status, competence and an ability to provide for a partner and offspring.

According to Beall, the pride expression accentuates typically masculine physical features, such as upper body size and muscularity. “Previous research has shown that these features are among the most attractive male physical characteristics, as judged by women,” he says.

Yeah, but it also accentuates the breasts and the shape of your upper body in general, which would theoretically make the same expression on a woman more attractive and yet somehow doesn’t.

Which doesn’t mean they’re WRONG, but does kinda highlight the just-so nature of the reasoning being employed. It’s almost as if the studies exist to give the researchers exercise in fitting assumptions to data rather than testing assumptions.

The researchers say more work is needed to understand the differing responses to happiness, but suggest the phenomenon can also be understood according to principles of evolutionary psychology, as well as socio-cultural gender norms.

For example, past research has associated smiling with a lack of dominance, which is consistent with traditional gender norms of the “submissive and vulnerable” woman, but inconsistent with “strong, silent” man, the researchers say. “Previous research has also suggested that happiness is a particularly feminine-appearing expression,” Beall adds.

Am I the only one seeing a certain amount of circularity to it, as well? At least this time they’re acknowledging that culturally enforced gender norms likely have as much if not more to do with any potential result than the programming of our inner apes.

Displays of shame, Tracy says, have been associated with an awareness of social norms and appeasement behaviors, which elicits trust in others. This may explain shame’s surprising attractiveness to both genders, she says, given that both men and women prefer a partner they can trust.

I like how there is no irony at all in this statement given the earlier “obviously women would prefer more successful men” above.

I’ve already outlined my primary complaint about this whole thing, i.e. the unnaturalness of both the poses and of still images in general, but let me give an alternative and much more parsimonious theory about why they got the results they did:

The “shame” pose was rated more attractive because it’s the easiest pose in the whole repetoire to be photographed in without distorting your features or otherwise looking goofy or stilted. The “neutral” pose might theoretically be, but it’s also the one we associate with mug shots and driver’s license photos; it’s also not exactly neutral. In a normal social setting, someone who gives you a neutral look is usually not wanting to have any sort of interaction with you at all.

I could continue taking this further- maybe the smiling women are rating higher than the smiling men because women and girls get told to “smile!” a lot more often over the course of their lives and are therefore much more likely to be practiced at faking a grin that looks good enough for photographic purpose, whereas the guys are more likely to look forced and goofy rather than happy when asked to do the same.

This is easy, isn’t it? And equally plausible if not moreso, because it requires less explanation and also fits neatly with existing cultural gender norms without having to make guesses about relative mating success in the unknown past.

Either way… I wouldn’t smile any less or look shamed any more while on a first date, based on this.

Dog Ways

May 24, 2011 - 3:20 pm Comments Off

Via Smartdogs, an interesting and insightful review of Cesar Millan’s latest book. I realize a book review of a dog training book doesn’t sound that inherently interesting, but trust me, it is- it’s also a larger discussion about different and sometimes conflicting approaches and philosophies in dog training in general, as well as the larger subject of humans living with dogs. The review is where the real meat lies, so if you like the bits I touch on here, go read it.

I’ve not been a fan of Millan in the past, not because I thought he was always wrong- far from it- but because my major impression of him was based on his TV show when he was first gaining fame, in which his style was confrontational in a way that could be very dangerous for a lot of novice pet owners, and he put a lot of emphasis on DOE-minance and gave off some “dogs are just like wolves!” talk that was just flat bullshit, especially based on some of the things we’ve learned later about both dogs and wolves. (Short version: dogs really aren’t just like wolves, they’re just like dogs. Wild wolves aren’t nearly as rigidly heirarchical as we used to think.) Judging by the review, though, Millan’s matured quite a bit since that time. I may even wind up buying or borrowing this one.

One of the things I particularly liked was the distinction drawn between training a dog in the sense of teaching it to respond to commands and training it in the sense of teaching it what the rules are to live within your household and the human world at large. Often the former is a means to an end for the latter- it’s FAR easier to teach a dog not to jump by commanding it to sit or down when greeting someone, for example, than it is to start from trying to punish the jumping. What the dog really needs is a rule- this is how we greet people like a civilized animal- and the command gives a shortcut to teaching the rule by giving you something you can communicate more easily than “humans don’t like it when you put your paws on them”, and then giving the dog a way to get it what it wants- a greeting and some attention- without running afoul of the rules.

The discussion of behaviorism fits in well with this; behaviorism isn’t ethology and is inadequate when it comes to a universal approach to figuring out why a dog (or monkey or dolphin or rat) will do the things it does and how to convince it to do other things, but what it DOES represent is a sort of mammalian common speak for how to create commands, teach simple behaviors, and establish some sort of grounds for communication. Ethology likewise won’t tell you a damn thing about how to teach a dog to perform highly specific and chosen behaviors, but if you’re paying attention you WILL learn something about what it wants and needs and what sorts of communication will be likely to make sense to it.

I keep harping on “communication”, but that really is what you need before you can do anything else, no matter how you do it; you need to convince the dog that humans are intelligent social animals that can be communicated with and made sense of. If you have ever met anyone with little animal experience who thinks of them as basically four-legged biological machines with no real brain or personality, a dog who has never really had the chance to make sense of humans for whatever reason feels roughly the same- humans are tall, make constant noise that means nothing, and must be lived around rather than with.

Little-wolf talk aside, a dog must learn all sorts of things about humans in order to live as a reasonable family pet that its canine background does not prepare it for. Any dog learns that the faces humans make mean different things than the faces dogs make; that the things we do with our arms and hands mean different things than the things they do with their legs and paws. *Many* aspects of human life have no wild-wolf-in-the-woods analogue whatsover, and a dog that lives with humans has to learn how to learn things that are simply instinctually alien to them. The whole reason it works as well as it does is one instinct we’ve bred powerfully into them is a desire and capacity to watch us closely and *try* to make sense of us.

If anything I’m particularly sensitive to these distinctions because of how different (by breeding) my various dogs have been; I grew up with herding breeds (Shetland sheepdog, German shepherd) that were extremely “biddable”- eager to please humans for its own sake- and moved on to dogs (Akitas) that generally want a reason to do something beyond “it would make a human happy”. They’re happy enough when I’m happy, but when our interests conflict- that’s not enough on its own.

The herders all excelled at taught behaviors- the clearest and most direct “I want you to do this thing, now do it”- but the Akitas have been better at learning the shape of the rules in their world. Housebreaking was faster and easier, as was teaching the fuzzy concept of “Don’t destroy my stuff, here’s your stuff that you can bash on instead” as well as “furniture is not for you” and others. Part of it is that I’m simply a better trainer now than I was then, but part of it is that while the herders were generally always waiting for me to tell them to do something and were a bit anxious when no one was (leading to outlets like chewing), the Akitas are always watching the way we do everything in general, and are not fussed if no one is giving them directions.

In any case, Millan still isn’t without flaw (the book/review contains some of the weirdest shit I’ve ever heard Ian Dunbar say, for example), but the review and perhaps the book as well are well worth your time, especially when it comes to pondering on what it is we really want and need from dogs, and what constitutes a sensible way to communicate that to the dog.

Gotta Catch 'Em

May 20, 2011 - 3:31 pm Comments Off

A fun little post pointing out one of the more eyecatching named genes out there. Or, at least it was until Nintendo decided that having a gene that causes cancer named after one of their products wasn’t something they wanted to be involved with.

It stands out in scientific literature, but having a geneticist name a gene after Pokemon isn’t actually that unusual. Hunting down genes is often boring and always very time-consuming work, and they don’t really offer much in the way of intrinsic inspiration as far as naming goes; a dog might have spots or other odd markings, but you can’t call every gene “Proteinface”. Usually they get slapped with easily-forgotten letter and number combinations referencing some of its proteins and/or position on a chromosome, but every once in awhile somebody decides to swim against the tide and name it after whatever their kid has been talking about at dinner all month. Still, given what goes into finding and positively identifying a gene, I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if the geneticist in question WAS a fan of a game whose ultimate point involves spending a tremendous amount of time tracking down hundreds of critters simply for the sake of having them.

Those that study whole organisms have this problem too. This stinkhorn is still my all-time favorite, though.

Seek And Ye Shall Find

May 19, 2011 - 3:56 pm Comments Off

…Because search terms are the easiest punted blog content on the planet, that’s why. What can we at the nerd ranch help you with today?

a blod of skin can out of my vigina

….Oh my, er. Well. It probably wasn’t skin, it was probably shed uterine lining; as you go through the glorious and slightly inexplicable experience of menstruation over the course of your life as a woman, you will come to be familiar with the multifarious things your uterus can and will spit out other than blood.

If you are very young, and given the spelling I hope so, it could also have been your hymen. No, you didn’t lose your virginity. Contrary to patriarchal tribal standards the thing isn’t that durable; if that really were the standard I lost mine to a ten-speed bike when I was nine.

man eaten by bear

They do that sometimes but really not nearly as often as you’d think given the population of bears and population of humans. I suggest avoiding grizzly and polar bear country, as they are far more likely to look at a human and see a Happy Meal rather than a confusing and distressing biped. They have more evolutionary experience with us, being Old World migrants.

why is an organism without incisors and canines a better suited herbavore?

Thank god, a question I can answer.

That’s because mammals have specialized teeth, and it really does depend on what kind of herbivore you’re talking about. Canine teeth are specifically suited for tearing through meat (sometimes in the case of a still-living animal, as in the case of primates with huge canines designed for fighting other primates), and thus are of very little use to a herbivore. Incisors are designed for chopping; you’re not likely to see any herbivore without or with underdeveloped incisors that eats plants with any kind of significant woody fiber or tubers. What really marks an herbivore is big, broad molars, for grinding- which is the bulk of what you’re going to have to do with plant food.

Note dogs and cats have tiny incisors, and horses and rabbits have huge ones. You’re much more likely to see small incisors on a dedicated carnivore.

most powerful guard dog

…You wouldn’t want. They’re bred for fighting off wolves and bears and aren’t really pets as you’d understand the term. Unlike a big, powerful gun, a big, powerful guard dog has a mind of its own and is likely to conclude you’re not fit to do things like tell them not to eat the neighbor children.

how to fuck with someone’s mind

A surprisingly common term.

It’s easy: behave in unexpected ways. Easiest way is to deviate subtly enough from common social scripts that you confuse people but don’t cause them to default to thinking you’re simply insane. It’s not really a terribly high-order or productive skill, though, except in terms of getting rid of unwanted roommates or seatmates on the bus.

$1 dollar non negotiable steel token.

Defensive hollowpoints usually qualify.

bluebird mad

The Bluebird of Happiness’s ne’er-do-well brother showed up, I see.

women don’t want childish men

Films of Judd Apatow aside, this is generally true. Works the other way round too.

chimpanzees frequently engage in sex 20 or more times a day. should there be no male around, the female of the species will take care of business by any means necessary.

This is… um… really curiously specific. I’m just… going to back away from it. (When do these fantasy chimps have time for anything ELSE?)

The “by any means necessary” thing is kind of weird, too. Masturbation isn’t really that dramatic even for a species without vibrators.

horse shipping crate

The horse usually appreciates it if you use a trailer rather than a crate. So does FedEx.

What Was The Question Again?

May 18, 2011 - 5:16 pm Comments Off

I’ve only been home a day or so and am still catching up, so I don’t have much in the way of backlogged ideas for blogfodder. Mostly, I’ve been enjoying being in my own bed with my own pets with my own spouse in my own household. Phoenix is a nice city as cities go, but it’s not really “home” anymore.

That said, while surfing around at other people’s places, I ran across a question I’ve seen a lot, that seems to crop up on surveys and inane first-date interviews everywhere- “Do you believe in true love?”

What struck me as odd about the question on the eleventy-billionth reading is that I have no idea what it’s even supposed to mean. What the fuck IS “true love”, anyway?

If it’s “a deeply and sincerely felt emotional affectionate and romantic attachment”, then not only do I believe in true love, I think it’s pretty common. It can probably be differentiated somewhat from lust and infatuation, but millions of happily married and otherwise long-time couples across the face of the earth make the question somewhat trivial.

If it’s “a bond that can never be broken no matter what because love always comes through”, then that strikes me as not only a fictional thing, but still a silly question. Relationships require work, romances no exception, and if anything it’s much easier to hurt the other person and damage or destroy the relationship when you are so intimate that you know all the vulnerable points that can be hit. I’d chalk this up to the difference between fantasy and reality, but what makes the question really bizarre is that this is exactly what the fantasies are ABOUT- every single love story isn’t about two people forgiving each other for anything and effortlessly getting along with each other, they’re about conflict and misunderstanding and going to lengths to demonstrate one’s dedication.

The underlying question- and the one that gets our attention again and again- is always “will the bond survive the pressures on it”, and what the pressures are depends on the setting, culture, and the sophistication of the fantasy; immature and youthful fantasies tend to rely mostly on very dramatic outside pressures (RIVAL CLAN OF VAMPIRES!), but still tend to feature stupid misunderstandings and other user-generated errors. More mature ones tend to focus on pressures like a job that takes all of one person’s time, monomanias, and the sheer passage of time and lessening of newness, but even in fiction “and so they were incredibly attracted to each other and thus they stayed together forever” never makes the cut. Love stories often continue to qualify as such when external pressures keep a couple apart, and are certainly not an unfavored genre.

So if it’s not love as most of us experience it (note we rarely witter on about “true sadness”, or “true amusement”), and it’s not “romances that don’t require work”, nor is it “romances foreordained to end happily”, what the hell is it supposed to BE?

The world needs an answer to this. We have surveys to fill out.

Nerd Approved

May 16, 2011 - 2:50 pm Comments Off

Now granted this will be of interest to a fairly limited segment of the audience, but for those who would appreciate it, I’d be doing a disservice not to cover it. Anybody who has ever water cooled a computer in the past has no doubt had to deal with hose barbs, those funky worm-drive clamps, leak testing, Teflon tape, and all the other happy horseshit that comes along with making sure your cooling loop isn’t going to piss all over your brand new video card.

Those days are gone.

To elaborate, LabRat’s computer was getting more than a little long in the tooth, so it was time for a full overhaul. After seeing a good review of the Koolance quick-connect fittings elsewhere, I decided I was tired of trying to fit a screwdriver in to the little bit of space between CPU waterblock and capacitors to tighten a clamp and hope it was good enough, so I mentally laid out the loop and ordered enough to do the job.

Yeah, I know the loop from the radiator to the waterblock is fubar. I was trying to do a long sweeping bend so it wouldn’t kink with the side on, but that didn’t work, so there’s another 90-degree fitting en route. I’LL MAKE IT PRETTY I SWEAR!

But anyway, the things really do work as advertised. Break the connection, and not a single drop spills.

That’s it. It’s barely even wet, and the system is still totally full. This means another cool thing, you can pre-fill a lot of the rig. After roughing hose lengths, I added the fittings to the radiator and plugged in the tubes as appropriate and was able to fill that giant thing all the way, which made bleeding the loop a lot faster and easier.

The clips used to secure the hose on the barb-side of the fitting are really stiff, which is a good thing. Not stiff enough to make you worry about pinching through the hose, but I did have to use a pair of channel-locks to get them on and in place. Once it was seated properly, just looking at it you can tell you’re not going to have to worry about leaks from that point, especially if you got a good square cut on your hose.

The downside to these, obviously, is the price. There’s no getting around that. Consider, however, what your time is worth, and how long you’d have to spend tweaking hose clamps, snipping tiny lengths of Teflon tape, rocking the whole chassis back and forth to get all the air out, and not to mention stuffing paper towels around to run longer leak-tests. Including having to replace two regular barbs with 90-degree barbs, I think I’m maybe $80 in fittings all together, but that they saved me quite literally hours of effort and spilled coolant, they’re worth every cent. Especially when you consider that even though I fucked up the radiator to waterblock line, an error that otherwise would entail draining the whole system to fix, I just disconnect two parts, drain the coolant from that segment of line, fit the proper length hose, and top off the reservoir. I’d call that an improvement.

Koolance Quick-Connect fittings: Nerd Approved.

FTC disclaimer: The FTC can lick my chocolate starfish.

Bad Form, But Satisfying.

May 13, 2011 - 5:55 pm Comments Off

Yesterday involved taking LabRat to the airport so she could go look after her mother for a bit. I’ve been opposed to her flying, but at the end of the day it’s her call, and I can see the reasons that led to her decision even if I wouldn’t have reached the same conclusion myself.

Expecting the highest professionalism the TSA is capable of, I opted to come in and watch her clear security to make sure they didn’t discover that my Kindle was suddenly on the banned objects list, or some similar effort to make the skies safer. With a mid-week mid-afternoon flight, the lines weren’t too bad, so I picked a vantage spot where I could see the goons and watch with quiet anger the violation of my wife near the entrance point to the maze-like line path.

She proceeds along. Everything seems to be going as smoothly as it could, and I didn’t even try to kick Tom Parsons’s kids when they got into line, simply stood waiting for the “They’re not banning anything” wave or the more likely “Here, take this home for me” walk. About ten minutes in, as she’s nearing the look-at-my-tits machine, a blue-gloved shaved-headed squirt, young enough I doubt both balls had dropped yet (or really, ever will) began striding at me With Purpose. Posted a day after the fact in order to avoid having this simply turn into a Carlin-esque litany of compound curses, dialog is slightly paraphrased, but accurate enough for government work.

“Sir, I’m going to have to ask you to either enter the line for processing to board your flight, or to leave. You cannot loiter observing a security checkpoint.”
“I’m waiting on my wife to get through with her stuff intact.”
“I’m sorry sir you will have to either enter the line for processing or leave immediately.”
At this point, I saw LabRat raise her arms to make sure the highly professional security apparatus had a clear view of her crotch.
“And as soon as you fucking little thieving perverts decide whether or not something shiny in my wife’s carry-on is banned all of a sudden or not, I’ll be on my way. Now either get a real cop and charge me with something or go fuck yourself you petty little shit.”

He turned an interesting shade of purple, and scampered (no, really. Totally different walk than the one on his way up to me. Kinda funny, really.) off, presumably to find help in either charging me with contempt of Stasi thug or someone a little better than half my size to help him pig-pile me. LabRat waved back that apparently none of the stuff in her bag was cool enough for them to want to steal this week, so away I walked.

I probably could’ve handled that better.