July 2008

This is a special section of the 12 Angry Men Blog where we celebrate the best Troll to be found anywhere that week. While there are many varieties of troll, ranging from the fuzzy-haired dashboard decorations to the waylayer of the Billy Goats Gruff, we enjoy a well-executed jabbing that leaves an adversary stammering for a response. Any moron can produce a flame—mere sewage dumped upon the city square—but to produce a good Troll is a work worthy of the celebration of men.

The Troll of the Week segment will be written frequently enough to be termed “periodic”, but the actual label “of the week” is merely idealistic ambition, and it is not to be taken seriously.

Our inaugural Troll of the Week set the bar high, and it has been exceedingly difficult to find company worthy of it. But we’ve soldiered on and found a few. Usually solitary but sometimes, as now feeding off one another. Every troll desires attention, of course, but sometimes the attention desired is that of a particular individual, one who has (the troll feels) wronged him in some deep and fundamental way. This is amusing enough when it involves serious matter, but when the deep and terrible wrong is over something truly trivial, like a cup of expresso, well, much like losing an eye, then it’s hilarious.

Context and Execution of Trolls:

On July 13th, Jeff Simmermon (who will live up to his name) walked into Murky Coffee (which presumably lives up to its name) in Arlington, VA. His goal was a simple one: enjoy some coffee, some free WiFi, and the ambiance of a coffee shop while waiting for his girlfriend. A simple dream, and one that a high-class coffee palace like Murky Coffee would be happy to fulfill—or so you’d think. But soon an ugly problem reared its head, for, you see, Jeff wanted a triple expresso over ice (horrors)! Yes, that’s right, he wanted the highly trained and deeply passionate barista to go to all the work of producing three cups of perfect expresso and then dump it over ice. Naturally, the barista complained:

And the guy at the counter looked me in the eye with a straight face and said “I’m sorry, we can’t serve iced espresso here. It’s against our policy.”

Jeff’s reaction was, perhaps, all to familiar to some of us:

The whole world turned brown and chunky for a second. Flecks of corn floated past my pupils, and it took me a second to blink it all away.

“Okay,” I said, “I’ll have a triple espresso and a cup of ice, please.”

After that, the whole tawdry drama played itself out:

He rolled his eyes and rang it up, took my money, gave me change. I stood there and waited. Then the barista called me over to the bar. I reached for it, and he leaned over and locked his eyes with mine, saying “Hey man. What you’re about to do … that’s really, really Not Okay.”

I could hear the capital letters in his voice, could see the gravity of the situation in his eyes.

He continued: “This is our store policy, to preserve the integrity of the coffee. It’s about the quality of the drink, and diluting the espresso is really not cool with us. So I mean, you’re going to do what you’re going to do, and I can’t stop you, but”

First Troll, complete. A customer, eager to exchange money for goods and services, is met not with service or understanding but with condescension and accusations of gross immorality. The first cup’s raised to you, David the Barista!

Not to be outdone, however, Jeff was quick to reply and meet Troll with Troll:

I interrupted. “You’re goddamned right you can’t stop me,” I said. “I happen to have a personal policy that prohibits me from indulging stupid bullshit like this — and another personal policy of doing what I want with the products I pay for.” Then I looked him right in his big wide eyes and poured the espresso onto the ice.

Now, that might have been the end of it (since David didn’t rise to the occasion and punch Jeff in the face or anything). But, true Troll that he is, Jeff couldn’t leave it there. He headed back up to the register and confronted his nemesis once again:

“I would like the strongest iced beverage your policy will allow,” I said.

“How about an Americano with four shots and light on the water” asked the barista.

I’d never had one before — so I said, “sure.”

Then he turned around and filled up a plastic cup with ice, filled it 3/4 of the way with water and carefully added four shots of espresso. He stirred it gravely and handed it to me, saying “enjoy.” And you know what? I really did. You’ve got to admire someone’s dedication to craft, and rigid adherence to a strict quality control policy. I was really, really impressed. So impressed that I swallowed my rage like so much cold coffee, opened up my wallet, and left a tip in the tip jar.

Jeff’s tip, of course, was his masterwork:

The Troll de la resistance

It was that tip, perhaps, that turned what was already a fine Double Header into a Triple Play. For not only were armchair baristas and amateur consumer advocates across the Internet now lining up behind Jeff or David, but Nick Cho, the owner of Murky Coffee, literally The Man whose word was law for David, threw his hat into the ring, issuing a truly professional, well-reasoned, and temperate letter.

We could try to sum things up, but I really think that Nick’s words speak for themselves as no one else’s could:

I suppose some sort of two-cents is warranted here.

Okay, we don’t do espresso over ice. Why? Number one, because we don’t do it. Number two, because we don’t do it. Mostly for quality reasons. Also, because more than half the time, it’s abused (Google “ghetto latte”).


David, the barista in question, is respectful, passionate, and cares about making good coffee, and he cares about murky’s policies. Nobody’s perfect, and maybe David could have chosen different words or a slightly different tack in responding to Jeff Simmermon’s request. But that’s life. At murky, we try to treat people with common courtesy, and expect the same from our customers.


To Mr. Simmermon, you overplayed your hand with your vulgar tip-schtick. While I certainly won’t bemoan you your right to free-speech, I have to respond to you in your own dialect: F*@k you, Jeff Simmermon. Considering your public threat of arson, you’ll understand when I say that if you ever show your face at my shop, I’ll punch you in your dick.

Owner, murky coffee

Way to elevate the dialog, Nick! Well Trolled, sir, well Trolled.

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For their combined efforts showing off the promise of Web 2.0 to replace not only infomercials, conspiracy shows, and Prime Time television, but daytime TV as well, we award co-Trolls of the Week to Nick Cho, Jeff Simmermon, and the unsung David the Barista! As always they will receive an honorary beer at the Man Lunch, but after lunch, if they’d like, we’d be happy to take them to our local snooty coffeeshop and offer them each the coffee beverage of their choice…even if that choice is expresso over ice—crema be damned!

(NOTE: In case you’re wondering why our first Murky Coffee link was a link to a response to an update to Nick’s letter instead of their main page…that is their main page. ‘Nuff Said!)

(SECOND NOTE: Some might argue that one or more of these Trolls are really candidates for Douche of the Week. That is debatable, of course, but we prefer to think more kindly of them. Remember the rule: a Douche is oblivious, a Troll knows he’s Trolling. Of course, sometimes it can be darn hard to tell, and nothing screams Douchery like a botched attempt at Trollery. We prefer to think that each and every one of these fine folks realized his actions were, perhaps, just a bit, slightly, over-the-top—but they just couldn’t stop themselves. Always a problem, as true Trolls everywhere know all too well!)

As a bit of variety for our readers, I’ve decided to throw together a periodic humor piece inspired by Simon Travaglia BOFH. It’s not exactly an angry rant… but it is Friday — you deserve a few laughs. For those new to the HoS series, the first episode is here.

It’s late on a Friday afternoon and I’m stuck in the lab helping Javier try to find the leak the cooling system for his most recent experimental apparatus. He’s got a conference presentation in two weeks and desperately needs results. Unfortunately, the first year who’s supposed to be helping with this is AWOL, hence I’ve been roped into saving Javier’s bacon. We’ve just about managed to narrow the leak down to one particular subsystem when the first year wanders into the lab… six hours late. He has a look on his face like he’s just seen his life’s work been eviscerated by a small army of ninjas. Either that, or he just had a meeting with The Advisor. I’m not sure which.

“Look everyone, Eeyore just walked in! And about six hours too late,” I complain.

“Very funny,” says the first year, or TFY for short, sounding about as deflated as he looks.

“Why are you late long-faced one?” Javier asks.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” whines TFY as he sinks into a chair at the table right next to the apparatus.

Javier gives me a hand gesture indicating that I should get the hell away from the device, which I do with haste, covering my nose since I know what’s coming. You see, one of the best ways to leak test a cooling system is to flush it with ammonia, because you can smell the stuff at fairly low levels (even below 25ppm). Granted, that doesn’t work on copper pipes (since ammonia will corrode them), but the stuff Javier’s using is steel anyway. Anyway, any pressurized system has a pressure release valve, which in this case, is about 24 inches from TFY’s face.

Javier decides to release the pressure.

After a minute-and-a-half long coughing fest TFY has recovered enough to yell, “What the hell was that for?”

“To give you something to whine about,” responds Javier. “Don’t come in here and ruin my afternoon with this ‘woe is me’ attitude. Especially since you were supposed to be here hours ago to help me with this thing.”

This appears to be a little much for TFY who breaks down into tears. Javier engages Manly Defense Protocol #16, locking the lab door and turning on the loudest bit of experimental apparatus we have.

As annoying as TFY is, there’s an unwritten rule of manly solidarity here — men don’t let people see (or hear) other men cry.

After a few minutes of crying, we manage to get the story out of him. It appears that he was planning to go to the one really posh dance his old fraternity holds each year with his girlfriend tonight. He had an elegant dinner planned, flowers and all. The one problem is that she just broke up with him to go with another guy.

“That sucks,” Javier and I say in unison.

“No f@!#ing kidding,” TFY says. “The worst part is that this dude is a total scumbag and won’t treat her right like I do.”

“So you actually want her back?” I say, incredulously.

“With all my heart,” he mournfully responds.

Javier pulls me aside for a quick consultation. “Listen man,” he whispers, “Women who don’t respect men don’t get no respect, you know what I’m saying?”

“Yeah,” I agree, though I’m pretty sure that rule applies much more generally.

“We need to help this boy out.”

“Why? He fell for some heart-breaking floozy and now pays the price. It’s an expensive but important lesson to learn.”

Javier responds, “Under normal circumstances, maybe, but I’m gonna need TFY’s help to get my results for the conference. He’s useless to me in this state.”

No matter how much TFY really needs to learn this lesson, I know it’s more important to help Javier out. Especially since I’ll be helping Javier out if TFY stays in his funk.

“Is getting her back worth say, 200 bucks?” I ask TFY.


“If I can make it clear to her that she’s made a terrible, terrible mistake, is that worth 200 bucks?” I respond.

“Yeah,” he says, half-crying.

“Then pay up,” I say.

“Why? How?” he asks.

“Don’t ask. You don’t want to know,” I retort, speaking nothing but the truth.

“Fine,” he says, pulling the cash out of his wallet (damn!).

“Javier, head home and get dressed up frat-boy style. Meet me at The Supine Bovine in an hour.”

“Si, Señor,” Javier says.

“I’ll call you when it’s done,” I say to TFY. “And don’t pitch the flowers, you’re going to need them after all.”

I’m halfway home before the plan completely crystalizes in my head, but if this guy is half the sleezebag that TFY says he is, then the TFY’s ex-girlfriend will be giving him a swift kick to the nuts by the evening’s end.

I’m actually beginning to look forward to this.

(To be continued…)

A lot of time has been spent recently, mostly by folks who have nothing better to do with their time, arguing about the citizenship of Obama and McCain. While the accusations against Obama are completely without merit and were caused by a hoax, and gullible Republicans (hey, if you’ll vote for Dubya, you’ll pretty much buy into anything I guess), the questions about McCain’s status are unfortunately very real. Now this isn’t to say that I think McCain should be ineligible for the presidency. I’m pretty sure McCain bleeds red, white, and blue, and personally wouldn’t be upset if he was elected. He’s a fine citizen and would probably make a pretty good president. The problem, as always is Congress.

The problem with McCain’s questionable status stems from those crazy kooks on Capitol Hill, as John Adams reminds us in the musical 1776:

…one useless man is called a disgrace, …two are called a law firm, and …three or more become a Congress!

You see, back in 1790, Congress had the whole issue solved and cleared up. The United States Naturalization Law of March 26, 1790 stated that “the children of citizens of the United States that may be born beyond Sea, or out of the limits of the United States, shall be considered as natural born Citizens.” There we go, case closed, all with a simple easy to understand law that is hard to abuse. This could have been the end of the story, but no, we have a whole Congress of useless men in this country which meant that 5 years later, things got more complicated.

In 1795, Congress complicated immigration issues by issuing the United States Naturalization Act of January 29, 1795. This act, which says nothing of natural born Citizens, explicitly repealed the US Naturalization Law of 1790, throwing the question of who was a natural born Citizen back up into the air.

But don’t worry, the Act of 1795 isn’t in play any longer either, today we have 8 USC 1401 to define Citizenship for us, and with a name like “8 USC 1401” you know it’s liable to be easy to understand! And simple and easy it is… if you’re a lawyer… maybe. 8 USC 1401 is written in essay format, and does not conform to the 500 word limit. To sum up the verbose law:

  • A person born outside the US whose parents are both US citizens is a citizen

    • IF one of them is a resident of a US State, Territory, or Possession prior to the birth.
    • OR one of them was physically present in a US State, Territory, or Possession for a period of no less than one year prior birth.

  • OR A person born outside the US whose parents include a citizen and a US national (but non-citizen)

    • IF the parent who is a citizen was physically present in a US State, Territory, or Possession for a period of no less than one year prior birth.

  • OR a person born outside the US whose parents include a citizen and an alien

    • IF the parent who is a citizen was physically present in a US State, Territory, or Possession for a period of no less than five years prior birth, at least two years of which must have been after the parent turned 14 years of age
    • PROVIDED that the citizen was honorably serving in the US Military, or working for the US Government those periods may be used to fulfill the five years if the person was born after December 24, 1952.

  • OR a person born outside the US whose parents were an alien father and a citizen mother, and the individual was born before May 24, 1934.

Clear enough? To make matters worse that just includes folks born OUTSIDE of the US. Aptly named 8 USC 1401 also covers every other case of citizenship, but makes absolutely no mention of what it means to be a naturally born Citizen.

I don’t know about you folks, but I thought the law of 1790 did a fine enough job defining things, why we need the obfuscated 8 USC 1401 is beyond me. Thanks to Congress we’ve eschewed a simple and fair law that would make it clear McCain is a natural born citizen, in favor of a confusing loopy law that leaves his status as subject to inane and stupid Internet debate.

-Angry Midwesterner

The LA times is flabbergasted that amongst large numbers of entries in a database:

  1. There are similar entries
  2. People who have been banking on people’s bad understanding of the statistics of large numbers are reluctant to have them re-educated about the reality of the situation.

Here is the story.

The FBI DNA database has some close matches (strangers matching at 9 points of the DNA profile). Defense attorneys are jumping on this trying to make DNA not be the nail in the coffin for their clients. Prosecutors have been lazily overstating the uniqueness of a 9-point match. The FBI, rather than just acknowledge that a higher match level might be necessary to ensure uniqueness, is seeking court orders to stop wide match searching in its database. This to me seems retarded from the FBI. Wouldn’t you rather crawl the database once, find all of your close matches, then resolve those cases (a few hundred out of 65,000+) so that you can be aware that any of the people involved in those matches will require 11 or 12 point matches if they are on trial. The FBI should just crawl their own database (Google iFBI !) once, and publish the numerical results to DA’s offices nation-wide.

It would seem that you’d want to eliminate the uncertainties that you can, so they don’t bite you in the butt unexpectedly.

The complaints about tying up the database or violating the right to privacy are ludicrous. My laptop could do billions of comparisons in a day. Depending on how hard a comparison is, this shouldn’t take more than overnight, unless the FBI database is running on a TI-85 graphing calculator. Borrow time on a DoE supercomputer overnight and get it done. Doing numerical compilation of the results while havingthe names stripped off the numbers would be sufficient to not violate someone’s privacy. Yes, the whole DNA strand is mostly unique (twins being the outliers), and the profile is apparently less, but still significantly unique. But the counts of comparisons between profiles aren’t unique. It’s analogous to comparing the names of the people in the database and returning the amount of matches among the letters of the names. The names might be private, but the match numbers won’t be.

As a bit of variety for our readers, I’ve decided to throw together a periodic humor piece inspired by Simon Travaglia BOFH. It’s not exactly an angry rant… but it is Friday — you deserve a few laughs. For those new to the HoS series, the first episode is here.

It’s 9am in the morning, a quite unusual hour for me to be awake, let alone dressed in a suit and tie, when I stroll into the department chair’s office to meet with the expulsion committee. After shaking the hands of all the committee members and thanking them for their time and consideration of my case, I sit down to face my accusors, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, the department’s morbidly obese systems administrators with a penchant for mafia-like theatrics (see this episode). The two of them have stupid grins on their faces. I smile back as I ope my briefcase just enough for them to see the Fritos and Mountain Dew sitting inside. Tweedle Dum hastily suppresses his drool reflex.

This means he skipped breakfast. I’m going to enjoy this.

The Department Chair clears his throat. “We’re here to begin the expulsion proceedings. For transparency, these proceedings, they will be audio-taped. We will begin by letting the accusers present their case and then let the accused rebut it. Let me remind all in attendance that the Honor Code is in effect.”

Now the Uni “Honor Code” was worth about as much as a few sheets of bog paper, if the (unprosecuted) blatant plagiarism on undergraduate research papers was anything to go measure by. But that was largely irrelevant, since Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum’s “open-and-shut” case was about to be blown as wide open as Ashley Alexandra Dupre‘s legs, and I wasn’t going to have to utter a single un-truth. Anyway, I reach into my briefcase to crinkle the Frito’s bag again just to get to Tweedle Dum. I sit back and watch the proceedings commence.

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum outline their case more or less as expected. They present the log files of the Nessus scans, cross-referenced with connection-level traffic logs from the router (Impressive! I need to give these two more credit) and the IP allocation list, to show which machines had open SSH connections into the server at the time (my home machine, Li’s office machine and the one in the lab). They make no mention of a mercy deal as of yet, probably expecting me to embarrass myself and then offer “clemency” if I turn over the root password. Like hell.

I open my statement by thanking the two admins for their diligent efforts in defense of the department’s system. OK. I just violated the “honor code” with a bald-faced lie. But while the admins are doubtful, the profs on the committee nod along as if they believe it… except for the Department Chair, who seems to detect the irony in my statement despite my best efforts in hiding it. Drat.

I then present my own evidence, including the system logs that show the local privilege exploit run on my box enabling someone to achieve root access. I note that Amy, Li and I were the only people logged in at the time, and an external penetration being ruled out due to their detailed connection logs. As it’s unlikely that I rooted my own box, I therefore submit that either Amy or Li would have had to have done the dirty deed.

I smile as Tweedle Dee steps up to respond, “Those logs could easily been faked.”

“True,” I concede. “Anyone with root access can fake logs on a computer.”

I can see the Department Chair smile as I prepare my response.

“For that matter, your logs could be equally as fake as you feel mine to be.”

Tweedle Dee shifts nervously before finding his response, “But ours aren’t fake!”

I’m surprised he didn’t foresee my use of the he-said she-said defense, as I smile and response, “And neither are mine.”

Tweedle Dum picks up, “Be that as it may, I…”

I open a Mountain Dew as Tweedle Dum, evidently thirsty in addition to being hungry, looks longingly in my direction. I take a long gulp of a product I actually despise, but brought along anyway for it’s sysadmin neutralizing powers.

“Pardon me, I was getting a bit parched. Please continue,” I note.

Tweedle Dum gazes longingly at the can containing the unnaturally yellow-green drain cleaner he desires so greatly. An elbow in the ribs from Tweedle Dee gets him back to the task at hand.

“Be that as it may,” Tweedle Dum begins again, “I think you still have a problem.”

Sometimes I just can’t help myself. Sadly, this is one of those times. “Indeed I do. I have been brought before this committee and charged capriciously by two admins who are far more interested in settling personal scores than tracking down the actual security violator.”

The room descends into an icy silence as I finish my outburst. The admins glare at my angry as the seconds tick by. Finally the Department Chair interrupts the standoff, saying, “Do you have anything further to say in your defense?”

“No, Mr. Chairman, sir,” I mumble.

“Well then, all three of you get out of here while we confer.”

This was not how it was supposed to go. I walk out of the room, leaving my briefcase behind. Thankfully, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum are as shaken up as I was by my outburst. Mindful of the fact that we’re just outside the Chair’s office, we all stand in a sullen silence. After a few minutes (which felt like a few eternities) of waiting, we are shown back into the room.

“The previous outburst aside,” the department chair begins, “Given the lack of firm evidence tying the accused to the offense, we cannot in good conscience expel him.”

I smile at the committee.

“But given the compromise of his machine,” Tweedle Dee butts in, only to be cut off rapidly by the Department Chair.

“I was just getting to that. You who stand accused, do you have anything to say about that?”

“As far as I can tell, it was a local exploit which our Linux vendor hadn’t gotten around to patching yet. The department systems would’ve been just as vulnerable to the same exploit — so long as the exploiter had an account on the system,” I remark.

“True,” echos Tweedle Dum, “but we…”

Crinkle, Crinkle, goes the Fritos bag. To add insult to injury, I have a little more Mountain Dew. Ahhh….

One elbow-reboot later and Tweedle Dum restarts, “But we’re constantly monitoring for security patches, since it’s our job to do so. We’re far better suiting to handle that role for all department systems than grad students are.”

The Chair winks at me and gives me a your-going-to-go-along-with-what-I’m-about-to-say-no-questions-asked look. I nod back and the chair says, “A point well noted. Would it be fair then to punish the perpetrator of the Nessus attack by removing their root access?”

Tweedle Dee smiles and says, “And get them to make a binding promise to never do it again?”

“Fair enough,” says the Chair.

“And you how do you feel about that?” asks the Chair, still giving me that look.

“Uh, sounds fair to me,” I say, sinking down in my chair to try to affect a defeated attitude.

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum are positively ecstatic for about 6.2 seconds.

“Good,” says the chair. “Then as per this signed confession I received this morning, you are to apply this punishment to Li immediately.”

“What?” the two obese admins shout.

The Chair smiles. “The confession tells all and my secretary has verified it to be genuine. Now get the heck out of my office.”

The two admins look perplexed as they shuffle to the door.

Feeling a little sympathy for the shafting they received, I pitch the bag of Fritos to Tweedle Dum.

“Except you,” says the Chair, glaring at me.

“Sir?” I ask.

“How did you get that confession anyway?”

“Uh, I guess you can say, I appealed to his softer side.”

“With a pitchfork no doubt. My secretary said he was a complete wreck this morning.”

“The thought of being expelled can cause a man to do strange things.”

“Indeed it can,” observes the Chair.

“Why do you think I let you off scott free? And don’t give me the I’m 100% innocent shit.”

“No idea, sir.”

“I’ll tell you. I’m no cream-puff, and I wouldn’t hesitate to have you dragged off to prison if that would serve as an example of the consequences of breaking the rules.”

“So then why, sir?”

“Because I’ve been looking for a way to humble those two for quite a while. They seemed to be developing a root==god complex, and they needed to be cut down a few notches. Besides, this gives me the perfect excuse to shaft them come raise season and put that dosh to better use. You were merely convenient, that’s all.”

I’m stunned. I never knew the chair was such a ruthless bastard.

Almost as if he could read my mind, he responds, “That’s how I got to be chair.”

“Is that all, sir?”

“Almost. You should probably head to the restroom. The laxative I put in your Mountain Dew should be kicking in any minute now.”


Despite the mounting evidence that more or less proves that current hybrids are less about energy efficiency and more about conspicuous consumerism, I have to admit I normally have a soft spot for hybrid cars. Not because I have any remaining delusions about their being good for the environment, or good for my wallet, but because… well, they’re nifty gadgets. That CVT is pretty damn cool, and the electric-gas motor linkage isn’t too shabby either. But this was all before I visited the Bay Area. Now the sight of a Prius fills me with a desire to go out and club some snooty hippies.

The Bay Area, being in California, sucks. One of the major ways it sucks is the serious traffic problems. If the highways and freeways are the arteries of the San Francisco Metropolitan Area, I’m surprised it hasn’t had a heart attack yet. You would think that California, being the home of supposed greenies and environmentally friendly folks, would have decent public transit, but no, you would be wrong. California has a huge car culture, the people out here love to drive (poorly), and can’t be asked to take a train or bus. This means all 7.2 million people are on the roads during rush hour, creating a problem of unimaginable proportions.

Much like the rest of the country, the Bay Area tries to alleviate the congestion using dedicated HOV lanes, and much like the rest of the country they allow hybrids to drive in these car pool lanes. The one big difference between the Bay Area and the rest of America is the level of conspicuous “green” consumption going on out here. All of the hippies, and their flower children have a Prius out here, and given the abnormal concentration of hippies, this means there are a lot of Prius’ on the road, and since these folks all want their “independence” it means all of these Prius’ are single occupancy vehicles. I guess it must make Gaia cry when you car pool, almost as much as when you shower.

Let’s get this straight people, your Prius is NOT a car pool. Those HOV lanes are there to reduce traffic, and since all of you nancy boys are driving single occupancy hybrids you’re not helping the problem in the slightest. Furthermore, you’re not helping the environment. Your Prius get’s a lousy 44 person miles per gallon [pmpg] (and that’s if we’re being generous), my Saturn SL1 get’s 32 pmpg if I drive it alone too (actual performance), but given that I regularly carpool my performance is much closer to 64-128 pmpg, and is a SULEV to boot. This means when I carpool, I do a hell of a lot more to reduce traffic, pollution, and gas consumption than you do. Not to mention the fact that, when I send my car off to die it won’t leave a lot of nasty reactive battery waste behind, just clean readily recyclable metals and plastic.

Please folks, think of the commute time, the environment, or just our plain good old energy dependence, and get your Prius out of the damn car pool lane. It’s for High Occupancy Vehicles, not Keeping Up with the Joneses.

-Angry Midwesterner

Not a headline today (except perhaps in Saint Louie) but in case you missed it, Anheuser-Busch—controller of 48% of the American market—has accepted the InBev offer for $52 billion. Milwaukee-based Miller was purchased a few years ago by SAB, a South African based brewery firm, and Molson (Canadian) owns Coor’s. That’s right, none of the big three American breweries are, well, how shall I say this?, American anymore. Given that industrial beer companies like AB have appointed themselves guardians of American manhood (the “Man Law” commercials are a Miller product), the prospect of the leading purveyor of American industrial lager being purchased by a Belgian company seems to be sending mini-shock waves. Belgians, lest you forget, are the next best thing to being French and any good red-blooded American working-class (or faux-working class) male knows that the French are the scum of the earth. (Never mind the decidedly negative view of their northern cousins among the French.)

Personally I won’t touch American industrial lager so I don’t care, aside from thinking it’s kind of funny. Budweiser is foul, foul tasting beer and Bud Lite beer is just a watered down version of the same. Maize (“corn”) and rice simply don’t belong anywhere near beer, period. (Bud has rice; Miller has corn.) The Germans got that right back in 1516, before they even knew about maize, although they’re—typically—a little over the top in its enforcement. Give me a nice local brewery anytime, the kind that hasn’t forgotten how (or, more likely, relearned) to make a good traditional ale or lager. But that’s just me. I don’t really qualify for “real American” anyway.

Given how much money people shell out for what AB is selling, I’m sure InBev is going to leave things well alone—just as Molson and SAB have done—but I laugh a little at the fact that the next time Billy Bob waxes eloquent down at the bar to his friends about “them damn furriners!”, chances are very good that a bit of his money is going to buy stinky cheese and mayonnaise-coated pommes frites.

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In case you missed it, George Will had a nice little piece on beer and civilization the other day.

As a bit of variety for our readers, I’ve decided to throw together a periodic humor piece inspired by Simon Travaglia BOFH. It’s not exactly an angry rant… but it is Friday — you deserve a few laughs. For those new to the HoS series, the first episode is here.

It’s a little after 5, and I’ve snaffled the spare keys from Jimmy the Janitor’s formerly locked desk. Using them to open up the breaker panel in Li’s hallway, I pop the breaker so I can activate Plans #5 and #6 against Li and begin Operation: Confession. After gluing the lock mechanism shut and rigging up the handle, I reset the breaker and head to my observation post (a conference room on the same floor), armed with my laptop, a burrito and a large coke. Webcams with microphones are my friends.

The first 25 minutes or so are uneventful as the pepper spray starts to begin its release. Then suddenly…


In-A-Gadda-Da-Vita starts as scheduled. Excellent. I can hear the sound of shuffling papers and feet as Li wonders who exactly could be playing his least favorite song in the world. The shuffling stops. Evidently Li is going to try ignoring his predicament. A test of wills it will be then. Or perhaps a test of tear ducts, when the pepper spray starts to work it’s effect.

We’re about an hour and a half into the experience when I first start hearing the sounds of tissue use from Li. I’m starting to get excited, when suddenly…


In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida drowns out any sound from Li that the mic might pick up. Unfortunate.

After another half hour, Li gets his first taste of Phase #6 Something like:


Car batteries evidently cause quite the shock. The phone starts slamming against the hook as Plan #2 also appears to be a success.


That would be Li pitching his cell phone across the office as the jammer (Phase #4) works it’s magic. It’s about time for me to slip a couple of door wedges in place so even if Li manages to bust up the glued-shut lock with a few good kicks, the door still won’t open.


Just in time too. Now that I can hear his tears, it’s time to send him the letter. This is the tricky part. The letter can’t actually impersonate a law enforcement officer, since that’s a felony. Instead, I had to carefully craft the letter to be intimidating without quite saying who the intimidater is. The letter reads as follows:

“Mr. Chen,
It has come to our attention that you have been engaged in inappropriate use of computer resources, namely the use of a local root exploit against a university computer, and the execution of a network vulnerability test suite against Department systems. You can choose to lie and claim you were innocent, in which case you will spend the entire evening in this room. Upon release in the morning, paperwork will be filed with ICE requesting the revocation of your visa and your deportation to China. Your academic career will be over and you will likely never be able to enter the United States again.

If you are, however, a wise man and sign the attached confession and pledge to never again do such acts, we will ensure your immediate release and continued academic progress.

Informing any other person of your current predicament either now or at any time in the future will result in your expulsion from the University and deportation. The authorities are not pleased with your conduct, but if you confess, they will ignore it. This time. You have precisely one hour to reply.”

A number of my readers have complained that they would feel a little squeamish about reading a graphic torture scene. To them I say: You’re a bunch of wimps. But this is a family publication, and my editors tell me that I’ve reached the limits of even what Jack Bauer is allowed to do on network television, so I’ll have to cut the rest of the fascinating account of breaking Li. Let’s just say that it took a lot more effort to get what I want than I had expected. I had to resort to the ultimate deterrent, something far worse than the likes of even tubgirl: goatse (ed – Links removed to spare your immortal soul. Please do not google for that word. Ever. We mean it. We will not be held liable for you gouging your own eyes out) .

I drop the signed confession in the mailbox of the department secretary and head home for the evening, full of the knowledge that my biggest test will come in the morning at the expulsion hearing…

Wish me luck, dear readers.

Barely is the ink dry on the Supreme Court decision District of Columbia v. Heller when Chicago is up in arms. Mayor Daley is declaring the decision “frightening” and vowing to fight to keep Chicago’s gun ban. Chicago liberals are going so far as to call for the repeal of the 2nd amendment. The 12 Angry Men chimed in on the decision and readers will note my opinion. But I wanted to specifically look at the State of Illinois and the individual right (as established by Justice Scalia) to “keep and bear arms”, specifically the “bear” part.

Illinois is a “no carry” state. Individuals in Illinois can own weapons but cannot carry them concealed. Given the law enforcement attitude, it is also right stupid to carry a weapon unconcealed — even though it is technically legal (but practically impossible). However, many law enforcement personnel throughout the state have a right to carry weapons. These are the class of public servants which Mayor Daley wants you to believe are endangered by DC v. Heller. For the recond, I list those who have a right to, and do carry in urban areas throughout Illinois.

Federal Personnel

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation Agents
  • Federal District Court Employees
  • Internal Revenue Service Agents
  • Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) Agents
  • Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Agents
  • US Federal Marshals
  • US Air Marshal Service Agents
  • US Special Investigators
  • Transportation Security Agency (TSA) Agents
  • US Secret Service Agents
  • Federal Prison Guards
  • US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agents
  • US Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General Agents
  • US Postal Inspector Service Agents

State of Illinois Personnel

  • City Police
  • County Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs
  • University Police
  • Community College Police
  • Township & County SWAT
  • Illinois State Police
  • Secretary of State Police
  • Illinois Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement (Conservation Police)
  • Illinois Bureau of Revenue Agents
  • Illinois National Guard Members (on duty)
  • Illinois Department of Corrections Agents
  • Illinois Attorney General’s Police
  • Illinois Department of Trasportation Police
  • Capitol Police

In fact, it is virtually impossible to obtain a complete list of all of the agencies, both at the Federal and State level, who authorize their agents to carry weapons. I have read that this group constitutes almost 25% of the population of the Unites States. I doubt this, but as the list shows, it it a far from insignificant number. With all these law enforcement agencies, is there any chance of abuse of power? Naw!

If gun control advocates want to repeal the 2nd amendment and remove all the guns, then at least afterwards, the law enforcement people should emulate the Bobbies of England and go about their business un-armed.

La Louisiane, Child of the Mississippi, Bayou State, Acadiana. Despite being a Midwesterner, I love Louisiana. I love the Jazz and good times that roll on down the Big Muddy into The Crescent City, I love the quiet grace and beauty of Bâton Rouge, and I love the rural charm and down home Cajun culture of Lafayette. Louisiana is full of culture, grace, good food, great times, and some of the friendliest people south of the Mason Dixon. I also love that compared to Louisiana, Illinois looks corruption free. From New Orleans to Bossier, the politicians in the Pelican State make the rest of us look clean and honest by comparison. Or at least they used to.

Bobby Jindal, recently elected Governor of Louisiana called the state legislature to special session in Baton Rouge and introduced a series of reforms aimed at beheading the state wide problem of corruption and cronyism. These measures included the grand Rasoir National, his financial disclosure laws. These laws have ensured that more than good times are rolling these days, the heads of officials are rolling as well.

Hey Mr. Legislator, lock up all the doors
When the police comes around
Just tell em that the joint is closed
Let the good times roll, let the good times roll

Hey tell everybody
Mr. Jindal’s in town
No matter whether rainy weather
Birds of a feather gotta stick together
So get your State under control
Go out and get together and let the good times roll

– With apologies to B. B. King

And boy oh boy, are the heads rolling now. In light of the new laws on financial disclosure politicians from all over La Louisiane are tripping over themselves to quit rather than disclose their financial ties. At last count 146 members of the Government have quit, including ten out of eleven members of the State Board of Ethics, even the head of the board itself. Sounds to me like Jindal’s law hit too close to the mark for these rats, and they’ve decided to get off the ship of corruption before it sinks to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.

Old Jindal said we could take ’em by surprise
If we called a special session and we looked ’em in the eye
We held our fire ’til we see’d their faces well.
Then we opened up with reform laws and really gave ’em hell.

Yeah, they ran through the briars and they ran through the brambles
And they ran through the bushes where a rabbit couldn’t go.
They ran so fast that the hounds couldn’t catch ’em
Down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.

– With apologies to Jimmie Driftwood

Bravo Jindal, let’s hope these reforms stick but good, and even if they don’t laissez le bon têtes rouler!

-Angry Midwesterner

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