Twenty-first Century Shmoo

We were repairing some cracks in the concrete porch here at chez Fûz, because the earth beneath it was not compacted properly. Twice, by the way: twice did the earth subside and cause the porch to crack in half, twice did we show this lousy work to the builder, twice was it repoured under the builder's warranty.

We tired of this when it cracked the third time, so Barbaloot called in the mudjackers, who bored holes through the porch slab and pumped in a cement-sand mixture under pressure. We are told that it will not move again, but it's not exactly where we wanted it. A crack remained, more than a cent and a half wide, showing where the roving half of the slab used to be part of the rest of the house. The mudjackers told us to fill the big void with expanding foam, and finish the crack with cement caulk.

Expanding foam, after a few minutes of working with it, impresses me as the Twenty-first Century's shmoo, a Swiss Army substance so to speak (duct tape is the Twentieth's). It will do just about any damn thing.

We're always looking out for useful tools and substances in case of emergencies. We'd appreciate any comments our readers may leave here, describing the unique uses to which this wonder substance has been put.

Firstborn's broken ankle suggests: could you set a fracture with it? How about it, Dave? Grunt Doc?

Could you use it to fashion expedient insulated housing? A flotation device? There are some limitations: once you start the can, you'd better finish it, because it glues its own can shut.

Is this stuff worth the weight and the bucks to stuff a can of it into a bugout kit, or a crisis kit you'd keep in your car or at work?


"Dad . . . our secret mission!"

The pumpkins grew well in our backyard this year. They volunteered from seeds left from last year's Hallowe'en jack, and Barbaloot cultivated them into giant smothering vines that dominated the irrigated bed.

I planted the idea with Firstborn that this form of wealth must be shared with the community. By the dark of night, we would secretly plant seeds from this year's crop at various places around the housing development, along the trails and footpaths that snake through the various filings and under the powerlines. She liked the idea so much that I couldn't beg her off of it any longer, cast or no cast.

Tonight we did it, with a red-filtered flashlight and one of Barbaloot's garden trowels, and the tap-clunk of Firstborn's walking cast.

We smelled but did not encounter a skunk. That was useful cover, though, because any neighborhood dogs we disturbed were disregarded as still apesh1t over the skunk.

The strongest argument in favor of human cloning I've heard so far

We need a large number of Alex Kozinski clones to write more court opinions like this one:
We reverse Stewart’s conviction for machinegun possession under section
922(o) as an unlawful extension of Congress’s commerce power . . .

Iraqification? (revised much)

The buzz today is that the United States is pressing for the provisional government of Iraq to take form and take charge as quickly as possible, to "Iraqify" the occupation of Iraq and relieve the US and coalition of much of the political burden that comes with that occupation.

That would be a mistake, for one big reason. Modern "Iraq" is much like Yugoslavia. It was a political creation fusing different peoples with different religious and ethnic traditions. When the strong leader who forcefully held this mess together departed the scene, centrifugal forces flung them apart. Many of the people held together involuntarily as Iraqis didn't want to be Iraqis in the first place, they were forced into it; the rule of Saddam Hussein merely aggravated it. Guarantees of individual rights under a brand-spankin' new constitution will not assure the minorities that they can safely assign their loyalty to the provisional Iraqi government.

Don't try to build or rebuild a democratically governed Iraq. We should, instead, partition The Country Formerly Known as Iraq along those ethnic lines again. While the country is still reeling from its violent recovery from Saddam Hussein, we have the opportunity to draw some wide chalk lines on the map, to shove these people back into ethnic/religious cantons. Provide incentives for people to move themselves into cantons that identify with them.

The canton will issue passports that don't even mention "Iraq" on them, to people who can verify their birth there, through a combination of family members witnessing for each other, and whatever Iraqi official documents can be rounded up. Each canton's passport will have to be unique in size, shape, color, everything to impress on the bearer that he's no longer Iraqi. He's a Baghdadi, or a marsh Arab, or a Kurd, or so forth. Self-erasing temporary passports can be issued to people who can't prove their birth or affiliation with the canton, to help sort out the interlopers from neighboring provocateur countries.

Regulate the hell out of movement of goods and people between these cantons. Allow unfettered telecom and commerce from any one province directly to the rest of the world that speaks the same language and observes the same religious customs, but limit the bandwidth among each other (direct all telecomms from one canton to another through a coalition-controlled portal), until they've settled down.

Build quickly on each province's independence, give it incentive to control its own borders, let it issue its own currency or use a Western one. Westernize it out of sight of its like provinces. Make it a damned-independent canton with a government so close to the governed that merging it with other like provinces would be perceived by the guy in the street as a step backward.

Some of those cantons will be delighted to have budding independence and might need occasional restraint---the Kurds in particular. Some will want to do some stupid things with that independence, such as the Shi'a maybe getting cozy with Iran.

Some of those cantons will remain holdouts of Saddam's loyalists, if not Saddam himself. As the other cantons mellow out and can be managed by coalition partners, US forces can withdraw and concentrate our forces on those holdouts.

Divide and liberate this stretch of land, and quit calling it Iraq altogether.

Sauce for the gander

We've had an official change of heart regarding Rush Limbaugh's pain-med dependence, prompted by Swen's report.

If anyone is bothering to tabulate the blogosphere's sentiments, put me down for Send him up.


Two broken tarsals

Chez Fûz now nurses a Firstborn child who broke two bones in her ankle while playing in the school playground.

She's a trouper about it. She winced and barely slept the night after it happened. Now she hobbles around as if it were only a heavy weight on her foot, barely an inconvenience.

Thank you, I think

TriCare, DoD's servicemember health insurance, is now available to drill-status National Guardsmen and Reservists. It was included in the DoD supplemental appropriations for our occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, which President Bush signed into law.

I think the President opposed it, as did SecDef. Barbaloot on the other hand likes the idea.

Fûz is ambivalent. On the one hand, it's very inexpensive insurance at the prices being quoted, for a household that seeks to control costs until I find permanent employment. On the other hand, it further cements the relationship between health care and employment, a shotgun wedding arranged by US tax code.

I was content, Barbaloot somewhat less so, with the private-sector bought-by-my-own-goldurned-money catastrophic health care. The insurer actually checked my health out, asking me about various and sundry conditions before quoting. Barbaloot's reservations concern their refusal to cover one or two conditions, not even quoting a high premium to cover them. Overall, though, it did what we needed it to do, except pay for birthing Tadpole, who wasn't foreseen at the time anyway.

I could not use the fact that I carried my own health care as a bargaining chip with an employer---save money on your health plan and split the difference with me through my salary? Why, that's against the law, Fûz. Even the insurer's application warned me against it.

TriCare, offered as a benefit where I'd pay thirty percent of what the DoD pays for it and they pay the rest, is worth almost all of what I gross as a drill-status Guardsman. It was pushed through by some powerful lobbies, not just those lobbying for the National Guard, but by some members of Congress who are otherwise No Friends of Mine: Senator Patrick Leahy and Representative Diana DeGette, to name two.

Both worked for giving TriCare to the Guard, but are active against my RKBA, in ways that interfere with my ability to train privately to save my own a$$ and those of my team through the application of rifle fire. My AR's are very sensitive and take exception to phrases like "no legitimate sporting purpose" or "weapon of choice of gang-bangers."

Forgive me if I imply any disrespect to them and to anyone else who voted specifically to make me eligible for TriCare when I come off active duty. None was intended. But I can't get very excited about taking up a benefit that almost exceeds the dollar value of my normal peacetime level of service (which level of service I'd like to get back to before I retire, by the way) and in a way that furthers the nationalization of health care. There's got to be something in it for them and their agenda. So I'm grateful, but with serious reservations.

Next time Congress wants to do drill-status Guardsmen a favor, fund a live-fire shooting range, equipped for sidearm, carbine, shotgun and LMG, on every Guard and Reserve facility. Staff it (hire retirees and disabled vets! Another lobby to pander to!) so we can sign in on our own time, sign out a piece and work with it any time from 0500 to 2300. We'll police our own brass and clean the pieces; hell, we'd even buy our own practice ammo from the Gummint, at five-percent over Uncle Sugar's price, to defray range operation costs if necessary.

Possibly some answers

Barbaloot and I have been distracted for some months now, because Middlechild's teacher has raised concerns with us about her behavior in school. Her academic progress is good, but she disrupts class, cannot pay attention, shows affection at inappropriate moments, and becomes absorbed in fantasy play.

Asperger's syndrome? The onset of autism? Dammit, what?

A psychologist has seen her and compared notes with the teacher. Barbaloot's sister independently guessed too. The consensus is sensory integration dysfunction.

Easily treated by an occupational therapist, such as Barbaloot's sister, though there may be an underlying cause we can't see. Federal monies are released to school districts to provide therapy, including a so-called sensory diet. By the end of the school year, the behavior might be resolved and the academic progress will not be at risk. Other kids in her class will no longer be molested.

Ah, the catch. Federal monies are strung with a gamut of meetings, conferences, and paperwork that can take weeks to grind through. To me, this condition sounds like a developmental or even medical one, which schools would be wise to detect, and possibly treat, but it is primarily medical and not educational. The FedGov has too much influence on how medicine is practiced today.

At any rate, we've begun the process and are anxious to learn what we as parents need to do for a bright but out-of-sync child.


More fun than you thought you could have wearing a helmet

A mountain-bike/pistol biathlon of sorts will be conducted by the Wildlife Hunters' Association of Colorado, on 6 December. I've got plans but wish I hadn't. More info forthcoming.

Update: direct from an organizer. Entries accepted up to the start of the event. Awards for the winners, men’s and women’s classes.
Questions? Please call 303-795-9677 and ask for Bill (or leave a message), or e-mail BLLEW(at)RMI.NET
Call anyway; I need a head count. Please arrive at least a half hour before the scheduled start. Assistance with timekeeping and scoring gratefully accepted.