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Repost – A Grim Anniversary

Today is the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attack at Beslan.  Right now, relations with Russia aren’t very good, but I think we should pause to remember that the fanatics that want to kill us also lash out at other great powers.

 

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Here in the U.S., we are preparing for the anniversary of the September 11th attacks.  But we are not alone in remembering savagery against innocents this week.  In Russia, families are remembering the hundreds who died at Beslan.

C.J. Chivers over at Esquire did an excellent write-up of the attack back in 2006.  It goes beyond the dry facts to show the small, heroic acts by ordinary people that saved lives.  Every person who thinks about personal security and the lengths that barbarians will go to in order to incite terror should read it.

As a parent, I cannot imagine the shock and anguish of knowing that no matter what you did, your children were probably going to die.  I also dread the thought that our schools are just as wide open and unprotected.

For my friends in Russia, I remember the innocents of Beslan.  They were not soldiers, they were not politicians, they were school-children, parents, and teachers.  I hope that your leaders have learned from the experience, and I hope that my leaders at least think about the possibility of something similar happening here.

Today’s Earworm

Movie Quotes – Day 244

I shall never understand the weird process by which a body with a voice suddenly fancies itself as a mind. — All About Eve

Just because you can express an opinion doesn’t mean that you will be taken seriously.  In order to be more than background noise, you must know what you’re talking about.  Learn about your subject, respect the informed opinions of others, and articulate your knowledge and experience in a way that others can understand and respect.

Musings

  • Formula for an exciting evening – Take two six-year-old boys, give them pizza, ice cream, and popcorn, season with a Siamese cat and a Labrador Retriever, shake well, and let sleep out in the living room.
  • I listened to the audiobook of Larry Correia’s Hard Magic this weekend.  Now everything I read sounds like Bronson Pinchot in my head.
  • The stereo at the pool was playing the Miami Vice theme song this morning.  I happened to be wearing a brightly colored tee-shirt and a two-day beard.  I’m sorry to report that Moonshine did not turn into an alligator while we were away.
  • Note to self – When reading political news stories, which is just about all news stories these days, just read the story and do not read the comments.
    • The stupid runs deep on both sides of the aisle this year.
  • I’m drawing the line at not buying gummy eyeballs for Halloween.
  • By the way, if you makecorndogs in the oven as a treat, and leave about seven of them on the stove, you must realize thatcorndogs are like crack to Labrador Retrievers.
    • Of course, I got the “Who, me?  I don’t know what you’re talking about!” look, but he’ll crack under interrogation.
  • Started cleaning out the garden beds tonight.  The cucumbers are done, and the tomatoes aren’t far behind.  We should know if the potato box worked in about three weeks.
    • When pulling a weed out of your pepper patch, make sure you’re not grasping a pepper plant that’s covered in almost mature chilis.

Today’s Earworm

Product Review – Sony Noise Canceling Headphones

On a recent trip, I was seated at that wonderful spot on an airplane where I can hear not only the engines and slipstream, but also every noise made by the other people in the magic flying tube.  I was trying to listen to a history podcast on my phone, but eventually had to give up.  The foam tips of the earbuds just didn’t block out enough sound, and the voice of the narrator was drowned out by white noise.

Upon landing at my destination, I spent some time poking around for a better solution, and found the time sink that is noise-canceling headsets.  Price points went anywhere from “nice dinner out with the wife” to “car payment”, promises were almost as astronomical, and online forums reminded me of the worst of the “Glock versus 1911″ debates.

In other words, what you decide to get depends mainly on who you believe and how much money you’re willing to part with.  I settled on what seemed a reasonable price from a manufacturer I have used before, and bought a pair of Sony MDR-NC13 earbuds.

The NC13 is a comfortable set of earbuds, with a small (pack of gum sized) battery pack that clips to your shirt.  Its noise canceling function worked extremely well on my return trip, and it allowed me to listen to my podcasts and music with about equal ability to hear the playback.  Most of the ambient noise was eliminated, and even the quietest music or speech came through clearly.  Sound quality was slightly better than the cheap earbuds I had been using, but wasn’t in the “you’re in the lecture hall” sound promised by higher-priced options.

The NC13’s come with a AAA battery, an adaptor to allow the earbuds to be used for in-seat airline audio, a device for gathering up extraneous wire, and a selection of soft earbuds in small, medium, and large.

The positive things I found about the earbuds were that they do a good job of delivering decent sound in high noise environments, such as on an airplane or while mowing the lawn.  The earbuds themselves are remarkably comfortable in the ear.  The dual capability of the set to either work as normal or noise-canceling headphones saves on battery power.  I’ve been using the set pretty regularly since May, and I’m still using the battery they came with.  The price point of between $60 and $80, depending on vendor and shipping, is toward the lower end of the price spread for noise-canceling headphones.

The things I wasn’t so happy about is the lack of any controls or a microphone on the headset.  I’ve become accustomed to headsets with start/stop, volume, and forward/reverse controls on the cord.  The lack of a microphone to use on a smart phone also is also a negative.  If I’m listening to music with the NC-13’s and the phone rings, rather than clicking on a button and starting the conversation, I have to remove my phone from my pocket, disconnect the headset, and then answer the phone.  I know, it’s a small inconvenience, but when I can get that from a cheap pair of $20 name-brand earbuds, I expect to get it from a $70 pair of noise-canceling earbuds.

So, I’d give this headset about a 7 out of 10.  The price was decent, as was the quality of the sound they produce and the amount of noise they remove.  However, the lack of what really ought to be standard features in this age of smart devices brings it down quite  a bit.

Movie Quotes – Day 243

My name is Addison DeWitt. My native habitat is the theater. In it I toil not, neither do I spin. I am a critic and commentator. I am essential to the theatre. — All About Eve

Giving criticism is easy, taking it is much more difficult.  But it’s an essential part of improvement and success.  Even if you have the personal integrity to look at your own work and be able to point out where you have done poorly, getting the perspective of someone else can show you things you never considered.

Of course, how comments are given makes a huge difference.  “You are crossing your thumbs when you bring your support hand up.” is better than “You’re holding it wrong!” or worse.  Criticism needs to be constructive and helpful if it is to be heeded.

Movie Quotes – Day 242

Well, boys, we got three engines out, we got more holes in us than a horse trader’s mule, the radio is gone and we’re leaking fuel and if we was flying any lower why we’d need sleigh bells on this thing… but we got one little budge on them Rooskies. At this height why they might harpoon us but they dang sure ain’t gonna spot us on no radar screen! — Dr. Strangelove:  or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

When are you out of the fight?  At what point do you pack it in and accept defeat?  It is completely up to you.  You decide when you’ve had enough and want to stop trying, not the one who is hurting you.  This is true in violent situations, but it is even more true in just every-day relationships.  Are you going to let an abusive boyfriend beat you into submission, or are you going to stand up and stop taking it?  Are you going to let a cheating wife get away with it one more time, or are you going to stand up and stop taking it?  Yes, you’ve been knocked down.  Yes, you’re bruised, bloody, and beat up.  But you are not finished until you say so.

Blogs Roundup

  • Graybeard does a good job explaining the difference between .308 and 7.62x51mm.  He also gives us a good graphic on the subject.
  • Ex Bootneck points us to the different field rations used around the world.  I miss the five fingers of death, myself.
  • Drang explains why sometimes the stupid directions are stupid for a good reason, not just because sometimes soldiers are, well, stupid.
  • Some people have all the luck.  This month, at least in the gun department, its Pediem.
  • Marko reminds us of Peel’s rules for policing.  Remember, police are fighting a low-level conflict all the time, and they need the trust and cooperation of the people to be successful.  Once they lose that, they aren’t much more than an occupying force.
  • Captain Tightpants gives us his views on the Ferguson, Missouri, Kerfluffle of 2014.
  • One of Raindogblue’s compatriots is in a bad way, and could use our thoughts and prayers.
  • Mrs. Homegrown gives some good pointers on using worms to aid in composting.
  • Commander Zero weighs in on the .40 versus 9mm versus .45 ACP debate, and the graphic he uses is worth your price of admission all by itself.

I Believe

Haven’t done one of these in a while, so here goes.

 

I believe that if someone else has to pay for you to exercise your rights, then maybe you need to reevaluate what is and what isn’t a right.

I believe that spreading fear in order to move the masses one way or the other has become a growth industry in American politics.

I believe that stupidity should hurt, and real stupidity should be fatal.

I believe that there is a happy medium between Barney Fife and a jackbooted thug, and that we have swung way over into the jackbooted thug side of things in a lot of places.

I believe in American trucks, Texas barbecue, and Kentucky bourbon, but I’m a true internationalist when it comes to firearms.

I believe that if you let your vote be taken for granted, then you get the politicians you deserve.

I believe that running a lawnmower before 7 AM and after 7 PM ought to be a hanging offense.

I believe that if you can’t play by the rules, then you should go play your games somewhere else.

 

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