Somehow it has been two years or so since I’ve posted a bunch of random photos. So here’s a bunch of random photos. Many of these have made an appearance at one point or another on Facebook, but I was long overdue for cross-posting the ones I really like here. Enjoy! . . . Continued

In April and May, Melissa and I traveled to Houston, Texas, and then from there traveled with Melissa’s mom, dad, and brother to Taipei, Taiwan (Republic of China) and Hong Kong (a special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China). This was primarily a trip to spend time with Melissa’s extended family, although we also did some of the usual tourist things as well.

This was my (and Melissa’s) first time out of the western hemisphere, so it was kind-of a ‘big deal’ for us. Of course, for Melissa, it was a visit to her ancestral homeland, so it was probably a bigger deal for her than for me! Although I’m at least part English, so I can claim an ancestral connection to Hong Kong . . . sort-of. Hooray for colonialism!

Regardless, we had a good time. Lots of great people and great food. Although the air quality was pretty epically bad and we all got sinus infections. Oh well. I didn’t bring my camera on this trip; I mainly wanted to just enjoy it and soak it up. But of course I did take shots on my phone of things I found interesting, and I’ve included some of those photos below. Enjoy! . . . Continued

Neil Gorsuch has been confirmed by a 54-45 majority in the United States Senate and will become the next Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

Gorsuch was President Donald Trump’s (R) first Supreme Court nominee, and his confirmation ends an unusually lengthy vacancy on the court. Justice Antonin Scalia died of natural causes in February of 2016, and although President Barack Obama (D) nominated Merrick Garland to the seat the following month, the Senate never acted on that nomination. Gorsuch, like Scalia, is generally regarded as a textualist, so his confirmation is unlikely to cause any major shift in the court’s ideological balance.

The U.S. Constitution charges the Senate with providing “advice and consent” on judicial nominations, and it remains an unanswered legal question whether inaction actually fulfills that requirement. Republicans simply never considered the Garland nomination, and Democrats mounted a “filibuster” in an attempt to prevent Gorsuch’s from going to a vote.

Republicans broke the filibuster by invoking the so-called “nuclear option,” a rule change that prohibits senators from obstructing Supreme Court nominations. Democrats made a similar rule change in 2013, but it only applied to cabinet and lower court appointments.

Gorsuch will be sworn-in by Chief Justice John Roberts on Monday.

Maybe I’m weird, but I read the manuals that come with most of the products I own. I don’t always read them before I start playing around with the product, but I almost always do sooner-or-later. Sometimes it’s a waste of time and I learn nothing new. Other times, I discover useful new features and capabilities that I might not have ever found otherwise.

I am especially diligent with the manuals for the automobiles I’ve owned over the years. Cars are complicated machines . . . and they’re among the most expensive products that most people own. When I get one, I want to know all of its ins-and-outs. I want to understand how its features work. And I can learn a lot of those things from the manual. Not everything, of course; most cars have ‘undocumented’ features and hacks that you can find in the service manual or enthusiast forums. Those are even more fun. But the regular owner’s manual can still provide a wealth of useful information.

Of course, in a modern car manual, there are a lot of disclaimers and legalese. It’s not uncommon to find a description of a feature, and then a warning instructing you to never-ever-ever use that feature unless you’ve signed a waiver, parked in a bubble-wrap sphere, and put on a helmet.

It wasn’t always that way. As I have mentioned before, I am the proud owner of a 1977 Jeep J-10 pickup (which is currently being restored). Its owner’s manual—which is actually an owner’s manual for the entire 1977 Jeep product line—does have some legalese warnings here-and-there, but overall it just tells you how the vehicles work and how you should take care of them. To a modern reader (like myself), it’s a bit disconcerting. But perhaps even more disconcerting are the features and oddities that are completely absent from modern cars . . . some of which deserved to land in the dustbin of automotive history, and others that ought to make a comeback.

Read on for some examples. . . . Continued

For April Fools Day 2017, Off on a Tangent went to Russia. Since basically all the news can talk about is uncorroborated and evidence-free claims of collusion between the Russian government and the 2016 Trump presidential campaign, and since we seem to think that Russia now has some kind of out-sized influence on American politics, I figured it was time for me to move there. The web site became По касательной, the site was partially translated into the Russian language, and there were Russian flags all over the place.

You can view the site in all its glory by clicking here, or just read on for the content of the announcement itself. . . . Continued

Scott Bradford has been building web sites and using them to say what he thinks since 1995, which tended to get him in trouble with power-tripping assistant principals at the time. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from George Mason University, but has spent most of his career (so far) working on public- and private-sector web sites. He is not a member of any political party, and brands himself an ‘independent constitutional conservative.’ In addition to holding down a day job and blogging about challenging subjects like politics, religion, and technology, Scott is also a devout Catholic, gun-owner, bike rider, and music lover with a wife, two cats, and a dog.