Tornado Season “Advice”

(Originally posted on 2016-04-30)

Fort Smith Arkansas border street: On the OK side? This is tornado country! On the Arkansas side? Meh.

To be clear: the street was directly on the border. The north side? No shelters. The south side? Shelters.

Did Oklahoma offer tax breaks for building shelters? (Yes, but…) Do Arkansas people realize that they aren’t going into that hail just to get to an outdoor shelter? “We’ll just fire a few warning shots, shake our fists at the air, stay away from trailer parks, and lie in a ditch anyway.”

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Motorcycle oil filters exposed!

(Originally posted on 2008-01-23 as /archives/158)

Toby Creek is a geek: in the best possible way.  Read along as he “exposes” motorcycle oil filters, and by “expose” I mean that he literally cuts them open and shows us what’s inside.

Read Toby’s Fram review.  It begins with the words: “If anything, the Fram will show you how NOT to build a high performance oil filter.”

Here is my next filter (I copied the picture from


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Amanda & Jack Palmer: 1952 Vincent Black Lightning

(Originally posted on 2016-05-05)

Amanda & Jack Palmer cover Richard Thompson‘s 1952 Vincent Black Lightning if this video. The video is quite good. The art is by David Mack of Kabuki fame. Watch it.

I was aware of the Dresden Dolls, but I didn’t start listening to Amanda Palmer until after she married Neil Gaiman, because: Neil Gaiman. I suspect that this true for many people. Most of her music is pay what you want so there’s every reason to buy it if you like it, and pay exactly what it is worth to you.

Here’s what a stock Vincent Black Shadow looks like. The image is by brett Jordan:

brett Jordan’s Vincent Black Shadow, licensed via Creative Commons

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The Price of Atheism

(Originally posted on 2007-08-07 as /archives/73)

If this bigotry had occurred in [insert arbitrary name of state here], then I wouldn’t think twice about posting it without an explanation, but it occurred in Oklahoma, and I used to live there.  I met some good people in Oklahoma.  Have no doubt that I respect them.

When people say things like, “This is a Christian nation.  92% of Americans believe in God, so atheists should be quiet” they are saying a hateful thing.  If you don’t recognize that as hate speech, then try this version on for size: “This is a [insert arbitrary skin color here] nation…”

“Now the argument that America is a ‘Christian nation’, created by Christians for Christians and traditionally, therefore rightly, dominated by a Christian majority, could just as easily be extended to calling America a ‘white male nation’ and a demand to once again disenfranchise women and minorities. I’m sure we could find a biblical basis for that, as was done in the past, as well as plenty of precedent in law, so long as we went back before the 20th century for our rhetoric” … “No difference in the basic bigoted impulse, or the structure of the argument.” – Bruce Springsteen, Lawrence KS,

SOMA listserv, 2007-08-06

My interest in this video is not religious; if it inspires anyone to recognize and confront their own prejudices, then that is a very good thing.

So, with all that out of the way, “enjoy” the film.

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How To Shoot Fireworks

(Originally posted on 2016-07-06)

This is why you should use a camera with a bulb setting. You open the shutter when you hear the first pop, and close it when the light dims to get something like this:

© 2013, Paul Danger Kile, All Rights Reserved

In this video Richard Harrington tells us how to shoot fireworks (for Macphun):

This infographic covers the same information (below):

By Richard Harrington, and Macphun.

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Train Snow Bomb

(Originally posted on Jan 28, 2016 as /archives/10709)

I lived immediately next to the tracks in Potsdam NY (30 Larnard St. Potsdam NY). The driveway was next to the tracks. The end of the driveway was where the road and the tracks intersected. When the train came through the newly plowed street’s snow would explode. I made sure I was there when it did. It looked like this.

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Are emergency rooms really that big a drag on the medical system?

(Originally posted in 2009 as /archives/2634)

By Thierry Geoffroy (Thierry Geoffroy) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

My how things have changed since I wrote this essay in 2009. Governor Romney pandered to the voters in the 2012 Presidential Election—by continuously insulted the President of the United States for adopting a national health care plan—that is almost exactly like Governor Romney’s plan for Massachusetts. Massachusetts’ plan works, and Romney knows it; that’s why he signed-it, and that’s why the United States adopted it.

Our country has adopted Governor Romney’s and Massachusetts’ health care plan, and Governor Romney pandered to the Republican voters by insulting the

This is a new version of my contributions to Are emergency rooms really that big a drag on the medical system? on The Straight Dope board (A message board for fans of The Straight Dope).  I highly recommend The Straight Dope.   If your favorite newspaper doesn’t carry it, then go here. Everyone knows The Straight Dope has a different purpose, but it is Snopes equal in the fight against ignorance.

Emergency rooms shouldn’t be free, but they must help everyone, and some never pay the bill. If a patient doesn’t pay her bill, then who ends up paying it? The hospital does at first, but ultimately we all do. As Shodan said, “If you are mandated to treat everyone whether they can pay or not, you have to charge those who pay more to cover for those who don’t.” We now have a national health care system without a detailed policy for those that cannot pay. The patients, the insurance companies, and the Physicians have little means of controlling those costs.

I was in poverty for many years. I am certainly not against care for the poor. Being “against” national health care is meaningless. We have had it for some time (whether we are talking about Medicaid, Medicare, or yes, those that simply don’t pay). The question is whether we want control over what is happening, or not, and “not” is just bad business.

How bad is the problem? Go here to read Malcolm Gladwell’s Million Dollar Murray. Here is a teaser quote: “Culhane estimates that in New York at least sixty-two million dollars was being spent annually to shelter just those twenty-five hundred hard-core homeless.”

Being against national health care is unreasonable. We have it, we just do it really badly. Lets stop doing it badly.

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