too much news not to rant about.

A citizen wonders: how flexible is the Massachusetts Turnpike's toll system?

Flying will soon suck even more.

I couldn't even keep a straight face when I found out about the new undersecretary of defense.


Mmm, Star Wars.

If you've ever had the misfortune to listen to Dr. Laura Schlessinger's call-in radio show, you'll know that she's a rude, spiteful bitch whose callousness and ignorance don't deserve to be called "conservatism", even in America. She has drawn particular criticism for called homosexuality an abomination, quoting from the Bible. Some time ago a meme went over the Internet, an open letter to Dr. Laura. This in turn led to a thoroughly brilliant moment on the TV show "The West Wing". The letter is more interesting than the script, and well worth it. (To round it out, here's

The reality of love, and my place in the universe and what I am capable of feeling and perceiving, strike me at odd times. Just a word in a book at the right time can bring everything back, and suddenly I am myself again, and the irritation and separation fall away, at least for a time.

I have a Flaking Rule about aikido. This says that if I intend to go to class, and I don't, because I let the Sloth Fairies get me, then I have to go the next night. I've broken it in the past--it's my rule, after all--but felt nice to follow it tonight.

Non sequitur story time: in Mexico, after we'd been kicked off the boat and retreated to Guanajuato to enjoy ourselves and stop being pissed off (that part of the adventure started with sleeping in the street for the only time in my life, but never mind that right now), I went to the grocery store. I ran most of the errands, because I speak pretty fluent Spanish, and on my way in or out of the store I was struck by the security guard. Now here, in America, the Land of the Lawsuit, our security guards often enough don't carry guns, and are unlikely to use them if they do; and the guns are carry are usually revolvers, often small .38s.

Not in Mexico.

Mexico is a bit rougher around the edges than the US, what with the nasty prison/judicial system and the endemic bribery. Although I'm not entirely sure of the extent of it, it's vastly more difficult to sue anybody in Mexico: for example, the McDonald's super-hot coffee liability suit from a few years back, that led to companies putting instructions and disclaimers on packs of toothpicks? I don't think you could even file the papers for that one. At the resort/marina in Puerto Vallarta they let me borrow their pneumatic metal grinder to work on a part for the boat. A resort here might not have let me near the shop.

So Mexican security guards look a lot like American paramilitary police: bulletproof vests, shiny new combat shotguns resting comfortably on their shoulders, at least one sidearm. They're always around banks, but this guy, in front of a grocery store in a very, very quiet town, was armed with an Uzi, of all things, or a cheap knockoff thereof. And there was something about him, something ill at ease, as if somewhere inside he sensed the kind of overkill he represented. And he was bored. Kind person that I am, I decided to satisfy my curiosity and make his day more interesting at the same time.

"Is that fully automatic?"
[confused look] "Huh?"
"When you fire it, do the bullets come out constantly or a few at a time?"
[more confusion] "Uh, two."
"Ah, neat. Thank you!"

I got the impression that people don't talk to him very often, and maybe that's one reason he likes the job.