What Is a Snooki?

Alright. I’ve completely had it up to here reading references to this ‘Snooki’ character. Who the eff is ‘Snooki’ and why should I care anything about him? Finally, I had to Google the name yesterday. It’s not that I actually had any interest in knowing so much as I was annoyed at seeing and hearing references with absolutely no background info. So, I decided that it was about time to find out who Snooki is once and for all so maybe I could get the jokes at least.

Seriously? So, Snooki is some obnoxious Chilean girl playing an Italian girl on a game show? Is she noteworthy because she is obnoxious, or because she was on a game show? I don’t watch much on TeeVee, but I certainly don’t make it a practice to sit around and watch vapid, melodramatic ‘reality’ shows. I did watch the first season of Top Shot, and largely regretted it. I put a little too much faith in it breaking the mold, but it went the same soap-opera-ish, melodramatic direction as every other one of these game shows.

The Real World may have originally been as close to a ‘reality show’ as any of them, and ‘reality’ it was not. For classification on these shows, one has to look no further than American Gladiator or possibly as far as Japanese game shows. Yes, ‘reality’ TeeVee is no more than warmed-over Japanese game shows where the contestants are kept in quarters together as a side act. And, when I say ‘warmed-over,’ I mean that they didn’t even include the charming wackiness that has been typical in the Japanese shows. They kept the banal absurdity and somehow left out the appeal. Only American producers could manage such a feat.

But wait, it gets even worse! Do they even play games or have ‘challenges’ on Jersey Shore? Not that I can tell. Apparently, it’s all the charm of obnoxious twenty-somethings being dramatic and acting poorly without the charm of the unimaginative games? As in, it’s a bunch of New York brats pretending like they are from New Jersey? Why is this entertainment? Seriously, what’s the appeal? Is it like watching a train wreck or someone falling down a flight of stairs? Painful to watch, but you just can’t turn away for some reason?

So, please refrain from asking me if I saw the last episode of Big House or Survival. I didn’t. I’m telling you right now. It’s no secret that Jennifer and I are not sports fans, but I am about a thousand times more likely to have watched the last college game than any of that drivel. After reading the Wiki on Snooki (which was the most helpful ‘document’ I could find), I don’t understand why she is even worth mention. I just don’t get it. I should have known that it was a lost cause when Wiki was more informative than anything else on the interwebtron. My mistake, I guess. You know what? The more I write about this, the more my head hurts so I better wrap it up. I repeat myself and yet, I just don’t get it. So, to you millions of people that willingly subject yourselves to this brain-draining faux-tainment, my thoughts and prayers are with you. God help us all!

No More Funding!

Some people that I care about have asserted that Planned Parenthood is a fine, upstanding organization that does a lot of good work in communities and provides services that otherwise wouldn’t be there. I respectfully disagree, but that is not the point that I want to make right now. Despite my wookie-suited ‘get off my lawn’ stance on politics, I do enjoy listening to NPR – especially their art-based features. I don’t think that private organizations such as these should receive funding from taxpayer’s money. I will assert that if given enough funding, I could make some really amazing things happen for my community, but nobody cares about that. The government is never going to hand me piles of cash so I can do my stuff. I’m at peace with that too. If I want to do said amazing things, I’m going to have to come up with my own capital for it, which is fair. If it is going to take more money than I can make for myself, I can approach a private entity (individual or company) and argue my case to receive private funding, and attempt to convince them to give me money. If they see my goals as worthy enough and viable enough, they may just fund me and my psychotic experiments. This is how a free market works.

Jennifer and I have a laser printer. It is an HP Color LaserJet 4550 with the network server, a duplexor and the expanded tray. It was made in Japan in the 90’s, from what I recall. The toner cartridges will yield over a case of paper’s worth of print jobs. Recently, it became clear that we needed to replace the toner cartridges, so I began shopping for them. If I buy the new cartridges from HP, they’ll cost about $550.00 before shipping. I’ve used the less expensive third-party refurbished cartridges before, and that was a mistake. That’s actually why we need to replace what’s in there. The refurbs have turned into a toner leaking nightmare, and the inside of the printer looks like the food fight scene in Hook. It’s a great printer and all, and I’d love to be able to use it again, but I’m not going with any more third party refurbished supplies, nor am I going to spend the better part of a grand to get it back in working order. So, I looked for new old stock on Amazon and eBay. I figured that since this model printer has been out on the market for over a decade in corporate settings, surely there are some new, HP-branded cartridges sitting in some corporate closets that will be sold off for whatever they can get for them.

Sure enough, I found all three color and one black cartridge on eBay for a combined price of $62.36 after shipping. These are brand-new, in the box, HP-branded cartridges. The black, cyan, and yellow came from one seller, and the magenta I had to buy from another. The magenta has arrived, and I’m still waiting for the other three to come in. The magenta cartridge was delivered via UPS Ground several days after my payment to the seller, and it has the address label for the previous owner on the original unopened box. It was originally sent to Planned Parenthood League in Boston, MA. They presumably paid $146.99 for this cartridge and then sold it in a lot to a reseller who sold it to me at a profit for $19.00. Obviously this sort of waste goes on in the government, as is evidenced by any number of government overstock websites such as this one or this one. It doesn’t take too much digging to find a ten-year-old generator that originally sold to the government for over $10,000.00 that you can buy still in the crate for well under $1,000.00. Budgeting principles that have been in practice for decades need to be severely reformed to get this sort of waste under control on the government side of it. But for a “private” company to be doing the same thing?

When they have no accountability with their capital, the waste will occur. It doesn’t matter that they spent the $146.99 on a toner cartridge that they never used, and basically gave it away in a lot equipment sale. Nobody cares. With federal tax funding organizations like these, that’s your money. When I can buy brand-new expensive equipment for ten cents on the dollar, the other 90% of the cost has been subsidized by your tax dollars in effect. I find it too interesting that NPR and PBS receive tax money to do their thing, and they sell commercial spots like the truly private radio stations, and they beg on their pledge drive every year for further private donations. They try to give the guilt trip that they provide a service, and you should give donations if you appreciate that service. No. You already got my donation. It’s in that Federal money of yours. If the station was run better, I’m sure that it could run just on the sponsorships, like the local private news radio stations.

It’s not at all that I’m unwilling to spend my money. I might be tempted to make a pledge to a radio station that I enjoy listening to if I had the choice. I’d likely give them more money than what is currently getting to them from my taxes as it is. But, when I didn’t even get the choice on my initial investment, don’t come back looking for more. Similarly, it is no secret that Planned Parenthood has had some shady dealings, and I would like to have the opportunity to not support them on that. Conversely, there are a lot of good people that would gladly donate to fund Planned Parenthood, and good for them. Too bad for us though. We don’t get to choose how our money is spent. The Nanny State does. It is unconscionable that I am forced to subsidize things that I find morally objectionable. Beyond that, I don’t want the government to make sure that I’m healthy and have a retirement plan, or that I get enough food and don’t smoke too much. It’s none of their damned business! Where did we go so wrong that we’ve forgotten that they work for us and not the other way around?

I say shut it all down. Anything funded by the government is a money hole, including private organizations that receive tax money. Pull the plug on every one of them. Either that, or I should be able to claim a real-life 1:1 deduction on my taxes for charitable donations that I can document, because I would gladly give to the point that I didn’t pay tax, with a little overage just to make it audit-proof. Frankly, if the State and Fed were not stealing the money from the citizens, I’d be willing to bet that the charitable organizations would pull in more funding anyway. But, I guess we’ll never know, because we won’t be given the opportunity to find out.

‘Cut’ Shells – Do NOT Try This at Home!

I cannot in good conscience recommend this kind of thing for reasons that I’ll enumerate after the embedded video. Fred at Guns and Coffee embedded the following video (H/T to Tam‘s Twitter feed)…

I’ve heard of this before. I heard someone refer to it as an “Alabama bear ball”. In my most humble of opinions, this is dangerous and completely inadvisable. Here is a snapshot of a 12-gauge shell and a 20-gauge shell sitting on the muzzles of a 12-gauge and 20-gauge shotgun, respectively.

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Without looking on the interwebtron for figures, and simply using my cheap, plastic dial calipers, I measure the bore size of the 20-gauge at .62-inch at the muzzle as compared to the diameter of the 20-gauge hull at .68-inch around the plastic. Similarly, the 12-gauge bore measures .73-inch and the hull diameter measures .79-inch. So, the plastic hull is .06-inch bigger than the bore on each bore gauge. When you cut the plastic so that it travels down the bore loaded with lead, it has to compress past the forcing cone between the chamber and bore. I know that six hundredths of an inch is not a large number, but it’s not exactly insignificant either. For the same reason that we don’t load and fire 3-inch shells in a 2.75-inch chambered gun, firing cut shells subjects the gun to far more pressure than it is designed to endure. It just isn’t safe.

The gentleman doing the shooting in the above video comments that this was fairly common practice during the depression. Fortunately we are not in a depression, and ammo of various types is still relatively easy to come by. When sumdood on the interwebtron posts a YouTube video showing how handy his modded ammo can be, ask yourself how much a box of slugs really costs. Weigh the price difference between birdshot and slugs against the price and sentimental value of a gun, and possibly your own health and well-being. I know that slugs are a bit more expensive than birdshot, but they are cheap as compared to the risk of a catastrophic failure due to misusing guns and ammunition. Granted, I think that this is a perfectly valid tidbit to keep in the back of your mind in case of a TEOTWAWKI scenario, but it is entirely too risky a practice in a world where good ammo is available for a variety of applications at reasonable prices. If you simply want the pellets to stay together and hit harder at short distances, look at Federal’s Flitecontrol offerings. Please do stay safe and have fun!