The key insight of Adam Smith’s “Wealth of Nations” is misleadingly simple: If an exchange between two parties is voluntary, it will not take place unless both believe they will benefit from it. Most economic fallacies derive from the neglect of this simple insight, from the tendency to assume that there is a fixed pie, that one party can gain only at the expense of another.
First, an article from Active Response Training on spotting a bad guy.
An article from Techradar asking how influential Babylon 5 was for today’s tv shows.
From Flatfile, we have listicle of common Excel mistakes.
From Popular Mechanics, an article about a very long missile shot.. This is interesting considering that I grew up with Tomcats and Phoenix missiles.
Finally, scientists and zookeepers in South Florida identified a new species of spider. The best part of the article is when they say it’s probably already in danger of being wiped out.
The village of Redencion, Panama, 3 February 2011, 1210 hours local: Countdown: 10 months, 28 days
Eric Stahl stood on the small church’s steps and looked across the plaza. Standing in loose fitting black fatigues was Giant. The leader of the Truth held his infamous whip in his gloved right hand. The whip twitched like a downed power line. The Zombie Strike files were thin on the man, if you could call a seven-foot humanoid who wielded dark powers and could survive whatever destroyed the heart of Mexico City, a man. One thing Stahl couldn’t deny, Giant had presence. Even from a hundred feet away, Stahl could feel the pulsing of energy coming from Giant. It was all Stahl could do to see past Giant to measure the other Truthers he’d brought along.
There were ten of them. Two were definitely minions. They wore the almost standard ninja costume of a tight fitting black jumpsuit with black masks. The taller one was caressing a gold statue of what looked like a Greek hoplite about the size of an Academy Award Oscar. Four others were in jeans with brightly colored capes and feathered headdresses. From what Stahl remembered, the costumes looked suspiciously like traditional Aztec get-ups for their holy men. That made those four sorcerers. The last four looked like mercenaries. They were decked out in jungle cammies with expensive-looking gear, including Belgian-made F2000’s. The mercs had camo-painted faces and floppy hats. Stahl swore under his breath. The presence of the mercs meant the Truth was getting smart.
“Hello Mateo. It’s so nice to see you again,” Giant oozed sarcastically. His voice was deep but artificial.
“One of these days Mikhail, I’m going to find something that kills you,” Cortez said, using the only other name known for Giant. If the Truth’s leader was surprised by Cortez using the name, he didn’t show it.
“What is Zombie Strike doing here?” Giant asked, ignoring Cortez’s threat. “I was expecting Jesuit monks.”
“Someone thought he saw a Sasquatch and asked us to kill it. Oh, look. It was you.” Cortez said, bringing up his carbine. The rest of Zombie Strike followed their leader, each drawing a bead on one of the Truth. Stahl placed the holographic reticle of his M4 on the merc leader. Giant and his followers ignored the weapons aimed at them.
“Was that humor?” Giant asked, “I can never tell with you Americans.” Stahl traded questioning glances with the cowboy, Collins. Giant sounded like he was from the Midwest. If Giant wasn’t an American, where exactly had he come from? Tredegar looked like he was going to burst with questions. Give the FBI agent a crumb, and he wanted the whole cake. Sometimes his curiosity got the better of him. McLintock kept Tredegar stable on the line.
“You will leave now,” Father Rodriguez commanded, striding into the plaza. “You have completed the deed Heavenly Father compelled you to finish. Your role is completed.”
“Compelled me?” Giant bellowed indignantly, “Your God has no control over those sworn to Xipe Totec. It was the Flayed One’s own power that sealed the tear. He has told us how to stop the Little Death!” Giant paused in his rant. He looked over the Zombie Strike team.
“So that’s why you’re here, Mateo. This priest brought you in to stop the Little Death instead of the Jesuits. Priest, your resourcefulness is unexpected.” Giant’s eyes pulsed with purple energy as he glared at the priest. Cortez fired a single round at Giant. Brilliant purple sparks crackled as the bullet stopped a few inches from Giant’s head. The Truth’s leader tore his eyes from the priest to look at Cortez.
“Giant, I may not be able to kill you, but I can hurt you pretty bad,” Cortez said in a neutral, controlled voice. The team tensed as it recognized their leader’s tone. Cortez’s rage was up, and bad stuff was going to happen. Giant cocked his head, as if seeing Cortez in a new light.
“Mateo, please, go home,” Giant said sincerely, “It is not time for you to face the Death, even the Little Death. If you go out now, you will die. If you die, so does the world. I can’t kill you, but I can hurt you.” Giant’s eyes danced with amusement as he threw Cortez’s words back at him.
“Why don’t I believe you?” Cortez asked.
“Mateo, I’ve seen the prophecies. They are quite specific. Even more than those your God handed down in Revelations. Your role in all of this has already been determined. They also warn against you fighting the Death before it is time.”
“I’ve already fought against the vampires, Mikhail,” Cortez said, spitting out Giant’s name, “My team’s killed several of them.”
“What? How did you do that?” one of the sorcerers blurted out.
“Amazing what can be accomplished with the judicious application of firepower,” Stahl said, keeping his weapon trained on the merc leader.
“Mateo, did you kill any of the vampires yourself?” Giant asked. The big man stared at Cortez for a moment and then shook his head. “Thank the Flayed One, no. Your aura is clean. Now, if you will excuse me, I have to raise a small force to deal with the Little Death.” Giant turned and started to walk away from the plaza.
“I will not let you defile the bodies of my flock!” the priest screamed. The tiny man started to charge, but Mountain grabbed him. The medic forced the priest to the ground as Sport fired all five grenade rounds out of his XM25. The plaza rocked with thunderous sound as the grenades exploded right behind Giant. These weren’t the normal fragmentation grenades. These were designed to generate incredible walls of pressure and force. The Truth’s energy shields were great for stopping bullets, fragments, and such. They weren’t so good at stopping energy transfer. The shock wave of the five grenades hit the shield and passed through with only a small loss of energy. Giant was thrown off his feet and slammed into the bank building. The minion with the statue held it like a protective ward. The gold statue glowed as the shock wave flowed around them and knocked down the mercs and sorcerers instead.
Collins brought up his lever-action and racked off two rounds. The first round hit center upper mass on the second minion. The minion jerked as the round bisected his spinal cord and fell to the ground. The second round tore the first minion’s right shoulder apart. The .500 S&W round shattered the ball socket and shredded the flesh and muscle to little more than tatters. For a brief moment everyone stopped and stared at the two minions.
The Zombie Strike team recovered first and opened fire. Stahl fired off a short burst at one of the mercs. The man rolled just in time for the three rounds to pass over him. Another merc returned fire, forcing Stahl to dive for cover. Not that there was a whole bunch in the town plaza. Stahl raced behind the MRAP. Bullets sparked and clanged off the big armored truck. Stahl heard the distinctive booms of the cowboy’s lever action and the crackle of lighter small arms. Stahl leaned out from behind cover and fired a long burst at a merc in a doorway. The man ducked back into the building as the bullets shredded the wood around him. Stahl cursed and took a deep breath. He was a better shot than that. Time to calm down and focus on the killing.
“STOP!” The voice was louder than an artillery shell going off. Stahl let go of his weapon as his head rang with sound. As his eyes cleared, Stahl saw one of the sorcerers standing in the middle of the plaza with his hands outstretched. “You imbeciles, we are wasting time!”
“Get out of the way Wallace!” Giant said angrily. His whip was flicking back and forth angrily as he stormed towards Zombie Strike.
“Mikhail, stop. We can’t waste the time to fight these people. Zombie Strike’s appearance changes things.” Giant stopped, but his whip continued its angry dance. Wallace turned to Zombie Strike. “I’m offering truce. We need to put our fight aside and join forces, before the Little Death becomes too powerful.”
[Zombie Strike Part 7 Chapter 70]
The big news last week was the Supreme Court granting cert on the case of NYS Rifle & Pistol Association v. Corlett. The Volokh Conspiracy had the most interesting take. Quote:
- As soon as I saw the grant, I started to scratch my head. Why did the Court rewrite the QP? Here is how Paul Clement framed the issue for the petitioners:*
Whether the Second Amendment allows the government to prohibit ordinary law-abiding citizens from carrying handguns outside the home for self-defense.
There are at least five major differences between Clement’s QP and the Court’s QP.
Listening to the Advisory Opinions podcast, David French asserted that some of the court are looking to establish a floor on the right to bear – which will be lower than what most in the RKBA arena want. As in, may-issue will probably be struck down, but the door will be left open to the states to determine the conditions upon which they shall issue the license.
Then it will be up to the lower courts to determine what’s an unreasonable burden. And won’t that be fun?
Forgot to make today’s post. Busy.
The village of Redencion, Panama, 3 February 2011, 1120 hours local : Countdown: 10 months, 28 days
Former Chief Warrant Officer Eric Stahl followed Father Rodriguez into the church. He felt a wash of unfamiliar energy as he crossed the threshold. For a moment, Stahl felt warm, cold, blissful, and alone all at once. It was perhaps the weirdest sensation he’d ever encountered. This, after over a year fighting the undead and their minion masters. The chief looked back at the others as they walked through the threshold. Cortez, McLintock, the Brits, and the cowboy, Collins passed through without any sign of discomfort. Tredegar looked queasy, but stepped through without an issue. The Steve looked as if someone hit him with a live wire. He actually flinched as he stepped into the church. The strangest one was the girl, Montgomery and her pet dog. They just stood at the threshold.
“Come on Jess,” Cortez said.
“Um, I can’t. Neither can Billy,” Montgomery said, motioning to the dog. Father Rodriguez turned around in surprise at the comment. The tiny priest studied the girl for a moment and then shook his head.
“I am sorry, Little Wolf,” the priest said. Stahl could hear the capital letters as he addressed Montgomery. “I wasn’t very specific when I called down the blessing on the church. I was trying to protect my flock, and I only asked for believers to be allowed in.”
“I believe in God,” Montgomery protested.
“Yes, but your loyalty is to Wolf, and you are bonded to one of his sons. That takes precedence,” the priest explained. “I will try to modify the blessing on the church, but it may take some time.” Father Rodriguez sounded contrite over the incident.
“Don’t worry about it,” Montgomery said, “Billy and I will keep watch outside.” Before anyone could stop her, Montgomery and Billy trotted back out into the town’s plaza.
“Mountain, go with them,” Stahl ordered. He didn’t want the girl out there on her own. Granted, that dog of hers was scary, but the chief would feel better with one of the other shooters out there.
“The Steve, Chief,” Mountain corrected. He cocked his head suspiciously at the door way before bulling his way through. The medic let out a yip as he went through the invisible barrier. The boy may not be right in the head, but he was solid enough. Plus, it kept the medic from making another stupid comment to the priest.
“Father, Zombie Strike killed eight of the vampires so far,” Tredegar said, “That leaves another fifty-eight in this world. According to the papers you sent, we need to move quickly to kill them before they grow too powerful.” The priest nodded absently as he led them out of the narthex. The sanctuary was crammed with people. The pews were pushed to the sides so that they could spread blankets on the stone floor. Several of the people rushed up to Father Rodriguez as he led the team across the sanctuary. He blessed them in Spanish and sent them back to their families. The chief felt the villagers’ suspicious eyes on them as they walked. It was obvious they didn’t trust heavily armed men, especially those walking on sacred ground. Behind the sanctuary was Father Rodriguez’s quarters. It was a plain affair, true to the spirit of Jesuit order. The team crammed into the small space as the priest sat on his small cot.
“How did you seal the tear?” Stahl asked after everyone was situated.
“I didn’t. Others did,” Father Rodriguez answered cryptically.
“Who?” Stahl pressed.
“The ones chosen by God to complete that task,” Father Rodriguez said, as if that explained everything. “You have been chosen to remove the host remaining on this Earth.”
“Chief, stand down,” Cortez ordered. Stahl traded looks with his team leader. The chief nodded slightly. He didn’t like it, but orders were like that sometimes. He’d talk it out with Cortez later. “You were saying Father?”
“Thank you, my son. The ones you killed were the weakest of the host. The others fed on some of my flock before I could banish them. Unfortunately, I could not destroy them. They have their link to this Earth, and that is all they need. That, as they say, is the bad news. The good news is that this host is supposed to be the eyes for the rest of them. Spies, if you will.”
“Why does the Truth need vampire spies?” asked McLintock, “They have plenty of human ones.” Father Rodriguez looked at the big man quizzically.
“No, the host holds no loyalty to Xipe Totec or the Flayed One’s chosen acolytes,” Father Rodriguez answered.
“What?” Cortez asked, surprised, “Is this something from Satan then?”
“No, Lucifer follows the plan set out by God,” Father Rodriguez said, “This host is beyond the realm of God or man.” A cold, unsettled feeling ran down Stahl’s spine. As he looked at the faces of his teammates, Stahl could see they were just as uneasy about the priest’s words.
“So how do we stop them?” asked Tredegar. “Your notes aren’t very clear on that matter.”
“Until they change, you can kill them by inflicting many deadly wounds on them. Their corporeal bodies cannot take the stress. Holy power will also cause their Earthly bodies to immolate and destroy themselves.”
“If holy power can kill them, why didn’t you bag any?” Collins asked. It wasn’t accusatory, just a simple question.
“I had a choice. Kill a few of the host or protect my flock,” Father Rodriguez answered. The cowboy nodded in appreciation.
“Okay, so we have to do this the hard way,” Cortez said. “Not the first time. Father, do you know where the vampires are?”
“I can do better than that,” the priest said, digging into his jacket. He withdrew a tarnished locket wrapped with a silver chain. “Let this swing on its chain, and it will lead it to you to the host. When you get close, you must wrap the amulet and hide it away. If you don’t the host will know you are close as well.” Father Rodriguez handed the amulet to Cortez. The team leader reverently tucked the amulet into a pocket.
“Boss, you need to get out here,” Mountain said, over the radio, breaking the solemn atmosphere. Instinctively, the team gripped their weapons.
“What is it?” Cortez demanded.
“Giant’s out here, and he brought along some friends.”
[Zombie Strike Part 7 Chapter 69]
- People have been warning us that language was going to the dogs ever since Latin started turning into French. Yet the dogs in question never seem to emerge yelping on the horizon.*
There’s a local brouhaha about changing the name of a local road. Thankfully, it’s not over if the road was named after a problematic person, but because it’s named after a problematic reptile
From the article:
- A debate is brewing over the possibility of changing the name of Moccasin Wallow Road in Parrish.*
”Moccasin wallow, that’s where the moccasin’s wallow,” said Pat Neal, president of Neal Communities. “That’s where the cottonmouth is, a venomous snake, the only venomous snake in Florida.”
That’s one of the main reasons the developer is hoping the name changes. He would like to see it changed to a name like North River Road. His North River Ranch development is now being built in Parrish.
The story is pretty much set out as developer versus locals, and I’m usually leery of those kind of tropey narratives. Still, I haven’t heard any local outcry against the current name. Yeah, both my brother and I found the name amusing when we each came down here for the first time. However, that’s one of the charms of living in a small town-ish area.
I’m one of the 3.000 signatures on a local petition to keep the road name. I know Parrish is slowly turning from “old Florida small town” to “new Florida suburban center along the 75 corridor.” Yet, as it becomes more uniform with other areas, it would be nice to keep some of our uniqueness. Like a road name “Moccasin Wallow.”