Friday, September 30, 2011

ATV Snow Plow Recommendations

It's time.  Winter is coming--and the time to buy a snow plow is before the snow starts to fall.  Way before.

I know nothing about ATVs, and next to nothing about snow plows.  Educate me in the comments.  I would hope to buy a used ATV and snow plow.  I am not going to be using it for much else--no high speed thrill seeking, no adventures in the forest, no loading it up with hunting dogs (is there such a thing as a hunting cat?) and disappearing into the forest.

Keyboards & Wrists

The Microsoft Natural Ergonomic 4000 arrived at home today, and I am very pleased.  One nuisance: I have a dual boot Ubuntu Linux/Windows PC sharing a monitor, keyboard, and mouse with my primary notebook through a KVM switch.  It turns out that the new keyboard is incompatible with the KVM switch.  The KVM switch expects a PS/2 connector, and the new keyboard is USB.  I have a couple of working USB-PS/2 connectors, which I was using with the previous keyboard--and the new keyboard does not work with it.  I have searched a bit, and discovered that I am not the only person with this problem.

I have a spare flat panel monitor, and the old keyboard, but it seems a bit absurd that this doesn't work.  Perhaps I need to buy a KVM switch intended for USB connectors.  (The PS/2 connector is so 1980s now.)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I Am So Surprised!

Who would have ever thought that this would be coming next?  From the September 28, 2011 Washington Times:
With homosexuals now able to serve openly in the military, the gay rights movement’s next battleground is to persuade the Obama administration to end the armed forces’ ban on “transgenders,” a group that includes transsexuals and cross-dressers.
The SLDN says “transgender” is commonly identified as an umbrella term for “transsexuals, cross-dressers, gender-queer people, intersex people, and other gender-variant individuals.”
Transgenders are not banned by law, but rather by a Defense Department instruction, “Medical Standards for Appointment, Enlistment or Induction in the Military Service.”
It lists scores of medical conditions that make one ineligible, including: “Current or history of psychosexual conditions, including but not limited to transsexualism, exhibitionism, transvestism, voyeurism, and other paraphilias.”
 Is Chas Bono too old to join up?

Would You Have Ever Believed This Yield?

On September 22, the 30 year Treasury bond yield was down to 2.78%.

It's Nice To Known That Vegans Are Never The Victims of Shark Attacks

I mean, what other conclusion can you draw from the slogan "PAYBACK IS HELL" on this People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals billboard?

Natural Rights Theory, Intelligent Design, Newton, & Revolution

From Carl Becker's The Declaration of Independence: A Study in the History of Political Ideas (1922):
An important, but less noticed, channel through which the fundamental ideas of that philosophy — God, Nature, Reason — were made familiar to the average man, was the church. Both in England and America preachers and theologians laid firm hold of the Newtonian conception of the universe as an effective weapon against infidelity. Dr. Richard Bentley studied Newton in order to preach a 'Confusion of Atheism,' deriving a proof of Divine Providence from the physical construction of the universe as demonstrated by that 'divine theorist,' Sir Isaac Newton.2 What a powerful support to Revelation (and to Revolution) was that famous argument from design! The sermons of the century are filled with it — proving the existence and the goodness of God from the intelligence which the delicately adjusted mechanism of Nature everywhere exhibited.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


The hand specialist concluded that my problem is not carpal tunnel syndrome.  He was even reluctant to call it tendonitis--just that I was using the hand too much with a bad keyboard and chair.  This is very good news.

What Wakes You Up In The Morning?

This morning, my wife was awakened by a mountain lion yowl.

UPDATE: I see another Boise County resident had a less pleasant encounter with one a few days ago:
A 10-year-old Boise County resident was not seriously injured in a mountain lion attack last week, Idaho Department of Fish and Game officials said Friday.
Fortunately, his father scared it off with a 9mm.  Fish & Game tracked it down and killed it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

How Many Concealed Carry Licenses Are There?

I have removed this posting since it is the guts of an upcoming Shotgun News article, and a paper that will be appearing from the Cato Institute soon--and I don't want to steal any thunder from the Cato Institute paper.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Respect For Differences Of Opinion Ends At Arson

One of the animal rights' groups is taking credit for an arson attack.  From the September 26, 2011 Idaho Statesman:

The group message from the "The Arson Unit" criticizes the business owner for "oppressing innocent life."
The communique obtained by the Associated Press reads: "In the early morning hours of September 26th, a visit was paid to the Rocky Mountain Firework & Fur Company, a shop that (quite foolishly) sells both highly flammable and explosive toys, and the chemically-treated skins of thousands of tortured animals (among some other nasty things, like trapping supplies). A hole was drilled into their storage space, and several gallons of fuel were pumped through, as well as multiple other charges being set beneath an adjoining structure. Ignition devices were set to finish up our work, once we were safely on our way. By oppressing innocent life, you've lost your rights. We've come to take you down a notch. Stay in business, and we'll be back. Yours truly, The Arson Unit"

Under the best of conditions, I find the notion of animal rights absurd. When a group escalates to arson, my sympathy drops way, way down. You can't really expect much support for freedom of speech rights if you back actions like that. Of course, someone that sets fire to a firework factory is probably a few fries short of a Happy Meal, anyway.

How Much Worse Can Fast & Furious Get?

From September 26, 2011 Fox News:

In June 2010, however, the ATF dramatically upped the ante, making the U.S. government the actual "seller" of guns. 
According to documents obtained by Fox News, Agent John Dodson was ordered to buy six semi-automatic Draco pistols -- two of those were purchased at the Lone Wolf gun store in Peoria, Ariz. An unusual sale, Dodson was sent to the store with a letter of approval from David Voth, an ATF group supervisor.
Dodson then sold the weapons to known illegal buyers, while fellow agents watched from their cars nearby.
Read more:
Not only were there no arrests--but Dodson was specifically ordered to not keep watching the house. Dodson wanted to keep the house under surveillance to prevent the guns from going to Mexico--and his supervisor told him to not do so.  How much more criminal does the government have to get before a special prosecutor gets brought into this?

Needed: Reports By State Showing Number of Concealed Carry Permits Currently Active

Many states have reports online showing the number of active concealed carry permits that they have issued.  As an example, here is Texas' report for year end 2010: 461,724 active permits.  Please add in the comments section URLs for similar reports for other states, and I will move this information into the main body of this posting.  I need this information for an upcoming Cato Institute paper.

Arizona: effective 9/25/2011: 162,101

California 2007: 40,296

Colorado 12/31/2010: 114,049 (although not clear how many of these are currently active--at least some may not have renewed).  I received a response from the office that produces this report--those are concealed weapon license background checks run--not necessarily a count of permits actually issued.

Florida: 8/31/2011: 845,828 ordinary folks and 525 for judges

Georgia 2008 p. 43: The courts processed 101,684 firearms licenses in 2008, but nothing identifies how many were issued (although it is likely the vast majority of applications were approved); licenses are valid for five years.  If we assume that nearly all applications are approved (based on the experience of other states), and assuming that about 20% of licensees fail to renew, die, or move out of state, it seems a good guess that there are at least 406,000 active licenses.

Indiana 12/1/2009: "more than 318,000 handgun permit holders in Indiana"

Kansas 4/1/2011: 32,268

Kentucky 2010: It's a bit unclear from the language what is the current active number, but it would appear to be 191,555

Louisiana 2009, p. 1: 40,302 That's the number originally issued: have to take away 344 permits revoked.

Maryland 2/6/11: "about 47,000"

Michigan 9/7/2011: 283,764 (a slightly confusing report, since it totals new and renewals, but I think this is the number currently active).  I'm not so sure now: it is not clear whether renewals includes some of the new applications, or if this is just current activity.

Minnesota 8/31/2011: 86,854

Missouri 9/13/2011, p. 4: 124,577

Nebraska 9/26/2011: 15,279

North Carolina 6/30/2011: 228,072

Ohio 6/30/2011: 243,121 active

Pennsylvania 2010, p. 6: 142,477.  This is the number issued in 2010, and licenses are good for five years.  Assume that about 20% of licensees fail to renew, die, or move out of state; this yields about 569,000 valid licenses.

Rhode Island 2009: 4,148

South Carolina FY 2009-2010: 118,236

South Dakota 2011: 58,287

Tennessee 1/1/2011, p. 261: 307,816

Utah 3/31/2011: 293,651

Virginia 12/31/2010, p. 13: 238,395

Washington 05/19/2011: 337,503

Wyoming 2010 p. 62: 21,792

My spreadsheet totals 5,477,213 licensees in the twenty-five states for which we have either an exact number, or a reasonable estimate based on annual issuance, number of years for which licenses are issued, and an assumption that 80% of licenses renew or remain a resident.  (Colorado's data is just not useful as it stands.)

Some states, such as Washington, issue permits to non-residents, and this may create some "double counting."  This total does not include data from a number of states that are shall issue and where gun ownership is very common, such as Colorado, West Virginia, Oregon, Nevada, New Mexico.  It also includes several states that are emphatically not shall-issue, such as California and Maryland.

Zambia's Operating Principles

I mentioned a few days ago Zambia's new president being sworn in on a Bible.  Now we see where this leads!  (For Democrats, cue the scary theme music.)  From September 25, 2011 Voice of America:

The new president of Zambia, Michael Sata, says his government will be governed by the Biblical 10 Commandments.
Mr. Sata pointed specifically to the commandment “thou shall not steal” during a speech at a Roman Catholic church in the capital, Lusaka, on Sunday.
The president, who is Catholic, also said the government will have closer ties with the church.

The article indicates that the Zambian constitution declares Zambia a Christian nation.  This appears to be the provision in question in the 1996 Constitution:

DECLARE the Republic a Christian nation while upholding the right of every person to enjoy that person's freedom of conscience or religion;
Unsurprisingly, foreign governments think that they know better:
Pressure from overseas governments and NGOs to drop the “Christian Nation” clause in Zambia’s constitution, has drawn sharp protest from church leaders in the Central African country.
The former Executive Director of the Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia, Bishop Paul Mususu, told the Times of Zambia last week that it was wrong for foreigners to dictate the terms of the constitution and promote a secular state that would support gay rights.
“It is not proper for us to get rid of what we have cherished over the years. We shall be sinking so low if we allow things like homosexuality and pornography in the name of freedom of expression,” Bishop Mususu said.
Sweden and a number of NGOs working in Zambia have urged lawmakers to adopt a secular constitution and Bill of Rights that would grant civil protections to homosexuals.  

My Wife's First Book Now In Paperback

A different cover, and fixed a few minor formatting issues in the Kindle edition as well.

This has been a very valuable dress rehearsal for My Brother Ron.  As soon as my new keyboard arrives at home, that will appear in Kindle and print editions also.  (The weekend using a traditional keyboard to prepare for classes has demonstrated that the keyboard makes a huge difference to my wrist problems.)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Wow! I Guess It Helps To Know the Right People

If you want more evidence of the environment that Obama came out of, take a look at this September 22, 2011 MSNBC news story about a labor union official:
A retired Chicago labor leader secured a $158,000 public pension — roughly five times greater than what a typical retired public-service worker in the Windy City receives — after being rehired for just one day of active duty on the city payroll, local news reports said. 
became eligible for the especially lucrative pension deal only because the city rehired the former Streets and Sanitation Department worker for one day in 1994, before granting him an indefinite leave of absence, according to the investigation. He retired from the city job in 2004 at age 50.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Obviously, One Of Those Racist Tea Partiers...

Take a look at the picture of Zambia's new president at September 23, 2011 Voice of America, being sworn into office after winning elections.  (And for Africa, a somewhat wondrous result--the losing president leaving office, and giving a conciliatory speech encouraging Zambians to rally round his opponent.)  What is that book he is holding in his hand!  To hear the left tell it, he must be suspect!

Op-Ed Pieces That Make My Day

It's a September 18, 2011 Chicago Tribune column calling for Obama to not run for re-election, so that Hilary Clinton can be the nominee.  The argument is essentially that it is for the good of the Democratic Party, so that the Republicans won't have such an easy win next year.

It's hard to argue with the logic; Hilary Clinton used to be the most hated Democratic politician in America, but Obama has managed to make her look moderate, competent, and intelligent by comparison.  The good news is that Obama's ego will never allow it, and the racial politics of the Democratic Party (especially the "overwhelmingly rich and white but profoundly guilty about it" progressive wing) would turn the resulting primary campaign into a circular firing squad.

Why I Am Not Quite As Gung-Ho On Government Contracted Services As I Used To Be

This September 23, 2011 Wall Street Journal article is about a case involving state court judges who sentenced juveniles to a for-profit juvenile prison because he was getting kickbacks from the Mafioso who made a profit on it.  It was a corruption problem pervasive in county government in that part of Pennsylvania:
In sentencing Mr. Conahan, Judge Kosik spoke of the deep-rooted political culture that produced him, one in which corruption is tacitly accepted. The federal government's four-year investigation of public corruption in Luzerne and Lackawanna counties has snared more than 30 people, including state lawmakers, county officials, school-board members and others.
Government contracted services can be a cost-effective strategy--but there needs to be a lot more attention paid to the problem of corruption because of the profit motives for the contractors.  Government employees have their own incentives to featherbed, but those are typically relatively small potatoes compared to something like this.

I See Ads Like This And I Have To Wonder...

Why would you buy a car this expensive (a 2010 Ferrari, now available used for the bargain price of $304,800), and then sell it after only 1576 miles?  Was the ride too rough?  Or are you having to liberate some cash because it is looking like Obama might not be a shoe-in for re-election next year?  Or did you not realize that the car insurance would be a bit more than the BMW you traded in?  Or did the wife figure out that you never drove your new toy because a much younger woman was driving it?

Spontaneous Human Combustion Death in Ireland

Reported by September 23, 2011 BBC -- not the Weekly World News.

I've decided to blame it on global warming.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wrist Progress

This morning, I switched over to the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic 4000 keyboard at work--and either I was already making great progress, or the keyboard makes an enormous difference.  Ordinarily, by about 11:30, I am taking my second dose of ibuprofen for the day.  I had no pain until after 1:00 PM, and that's when I took my ibuprofen.  About 7:00 PM (almost six hours later!) I was again ready to take some ibuprofen.

Maybe it is just coincidence, but I have ordered up one for home as well.  I may even cancel the hand specialist appointment Tuesday if this keeps up!

The Solyndra Scandal Just Gets Worse

So, where did that $535 million in U.S. guaranteed loans to Solyndra go?  The Other McCain points out that while the Washington Post is covering the story of Solyndra's spending on lobbyists in Washington, it is leaving out some interesting names:

Carney further reports that Solyndra’s lobbyists included Andy Quinn, former chief of staff for top Democrat Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland.
So it turns out the “green jobs” meant well-paid employment for lots of well-connected D.C. lobbyists. Good thing Nancy Pelosi drained the swamp and got rid of the Culture of Corruption, huh?

No Fan Of The Death Penalty...

But even less a fan of the lying scum that are the mainstream media.  The variance between Ann Coulter's column about the Troy Davis execution and the mainstream media was so extreme that I went and looked at the federal court evidentiary hearing opinion from last year.  Yeah, I know, eyewitness testimony is not terribly reliable.  But this many witnesses were all coerced, bullied, or manipulated into lying in such a consistent way?  Including a U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel?  If Troy Davis wasn't the brutal thug and murderer, then this has to be among the most elaborate conspiracies ever put together to frame an innocent man.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

They Haven't Thought This Through

I look at news reports like this and just stand back aghast:

NEW YORK (Reuters) - An animal rights group, which is no stranger to attention-grabbing campaigns featuring nude women, plans to launch a pornography website to raise awareness about veganism.
The nonprofit organisation, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) whose controversial campaigns draw criticism from women's rights groups, said it hopes to publicize veganism through a mix of pornography and graphic footage of animal suffering.
Pavlov demonstrated that if you ring a bell while providing food to a dog, eventually the two reactions become combined in the dog's mind: when the dog hears the bell, after a while, it will start to salivate, even if there is no food supplied. 

These clueless twits don't realize that much of sexual excitement is a learned response.  These twerps are going to create a generation of young men (and maybe young women) who will become sexually stimulated by the sight of animal suffering.  It's bad enough that we have a disturbing number of young men who have been Pavlovian conditioned by Internet porn to think that women are all five seconds from tearing off their clothes and having hot monkey sex with the UPS delivery guy on the receptionist's desk.

I Saw This At Work On Someone's Wall, And I Busted Up

It's from a 1981 book, World of Tomorrow: School, Work, and Play about how computers in the future will largely eliminate crime, but at the cost of a new type of criminal.

Along the way, I found this amusing blog called Paleofuture, filled with past images of the future.  Here you can see 1958's notion of what teaching in the future will look like.  Online instruction looks nothing like this--and in fact, is so far in advance of this as to seem ludicrous.  A little more on target is this 1959 prediction about the electronic home future of the future which includes discussion of the then futuristic idea of a VCR that plays back in 3D on flat screen televisions.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Networking Fun

The Cisco Linksys E1200 lasted five days...then stopped working on the WAN side.  My ISP came out, looked over the configuration, and finally decided that the Cisco router was bad.  It was flashing its little heart out on the WAN LED, but it could no longer hear the packets coming in on the WAN side.  They had a spare D-Link router in the truck, so that's what I am using now.

The only good thing about all this is how painless Amazon makes it to return defective products.  It asks you a couple of questions, and prints out a return postage paid form for the box.  This is as good as it gets, I suppose.

On an unrelated network issue--I noticed that the Intel PRO/100 VE Ethernet port on my HP DV5100 refuses to do anything better than 10 Mbps.  I thought that the problem was a 10BaseT cable.  No.  I can take the same cable and plug it into another HP laptop, and it is doing 100 Mbps over the same cable to the same router.  I can see the Intel PRO/100 VE port start out at 100 Mbps, then claim that the network cable is disconnected, and switch back down to 10 Mbps.  I have run Repair (which clears all the various local networking information), I have downloaded the latest version of the drivers from HP and Intel (and of course, these are several years old by now).  No luck.

It isn't exactly critical; the wireless card gives me 54 Mbps.  Still, it is a bit weird that this port or perhaps port and driver combination under Windows XP Pro can't stay at 100 Mbps.  I have searched extensively for others having this same problem, without success.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Lack of Blogging

Still fighting with my wrists.  They are getting better, but not terribly quickly.  I am taking Monday and Tuesday off work to give them a chance to rest--so there won't be much blogging here for a while.  I have an appointment with a hand specialist for next week.  I dread the thought of cortisone injections, and I dread even more the surgery, which I understand only works for some.  If health insurance were not incredibly expensive, I would look for a way to retire instead.

I need the day job for health insurance, but the other stuff that I do (writing and teaching, mostly) is what is really important (in my strange definition of importance).  Unfortunately, those other activities have no significant economic value.

Until my carpal tunnel syndrome heals, things that pay have to take priority.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Adventures in Network Antiquity

I have an HP J2610A 10BaseT hub that I no longer need (except, perhaps, if I want to cause a serious case of the slows to my network).  There are so many collectors of weird things out there...I wonder if I can sell it on eBay.  Some years ago, I sold an empty HP21 calculator box (yes, just the box and manual) for more than $200 to a Hong Kong collector of HP stuff.  I hope that I am that lucky again!

UPDATE: What the heck, I've listed it on eBay: starting bid, $5.

Annoying Discoveries in Network Land

I had a Belkin Wireless G Plus MIMO Router that started to misbehave (at least, the misbehavior became more common) after I switched to High Valley Internet.  Since I wasn't sure if it was a problem on their end or with my router, I borrowed another Belkin wireless router from my daughter.  (She recently switched providers, and they included a router in the CPE that provides her service.)  This was a much newer router (firmware dated 2011 instead of 2002, if that tells you anything), and it worked perfectly.

I also ordered a brand new Cisco Linksys E1200 router, because my daughter will likely need that router again.  It arrived yesterday.  I installed it.  It did not work, using either the autoconfiguration CD, or when I set everything by hand.  So I called up High Frontier's network guy--and he could see the ARP table filling in from their side, so there was some communication going on--but not both directions.  Weirdly enough, when we set a static IP address for the WAN side, even using the web interface to the router, I could not ping the WAN side's gateway.  Weird!

I put my daughter's Belkin router back in--works perfectly.  Something's wrong with the Cisco Linksys router, right?  I replaced the Belkin with the new router again, so that I could call up Cisco customer service and politely request a replacement.  But this time, when I was installing it, I noticed that the instructions made rather a strong point of using the included Ethernet cable for the WAN to CPE connection.  Why?  Sure enough: problem solved.  It appears that this might be a crossover cable--which means the Cisco Linksys E1200 router has different requirements from many other routers out there. 

The guy at High Frontier thought this was very odd, because many routers have the WAN port setup to autodetect and switch, depending on whether the cable is crossover or straight-through.  Even more odd: there used to be a convention that crossover Ethernet cables were a distinctive color, often red.  This is the same color as all the other Ethernet cables that I can find.

Fascinating, and a warning to other router buyers: if the instructions seem unusually insistent on using the supplied cable...use the supplied cable.

Poor, Poor Righthaven

They are asking a federal judge to delay enforcement of a $34,000 judgment against them because it would push them into bankruptcy.  From the ever useful Steven Green at Vegas Inc.:

Despite its backing by the billionaire Warren Stephens family, Las Vegas copyright lawsuit filer Righthaven LLC warned today it may have to file for bankruptcy because of a series of setbacks in its litigation campaign.

The warning came in an emergency request by Righthaven to a federal judge in Las Vegas that he stay his order that Righthaven pay $34,045 in legal fees to attorneys who successfully defended Kentucky message board poster Wayne Hoehn against a Righthaven lawsuit.
Gee, if only Righthaven had been similarly concerned about the people it was suing in its no-warning lawsuits....

In addition, MediaNews Group, owner of the Denver Post (and many other newspapers) is dropping its contract with Righthaven at the end of the month.  The new CEO calls the Righthaven contract (done by his predecessor) a "dumb idea."

Of course, Righthaven going bankrupt doesn't solve the problem.  Its newspaper partners are still on the hook for damages they caused, and Righthaven's CEO, Steve Gibson, is potentially at personal risk.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The New York Times Says Something Nice About Sarah Palin

Startlingly nice, actually.  From the September 9, 2011 New York Times:

She made three interlocking points. First, that the United States is now governed by a “permanent political class,” drawn from both parties, that is increasingly cut off from the concerns of regular people. Second, that these Republicans and Democrats have allied with big business to mutual advantage to create what she called “corporate crony capitalism.” Third, that the real political divide in the United States may no longer be between friends and foes of Big Government, but between friends and foes of vast, remote, unaccountable institutions (both public and private).
In supporting her first point, about the permanent political class, she attacked both parties’ tendency to talk of spending cuts while spending more and more; to stoke public anxiety about a credit downgrade, but take a vacation anyway; to arrive in Washington of modest means and then somehow ride the gravy train to fabulous wealth. She observed that 7 of the 10 wealthiest counties in the United States happen to be suburbs of the nation’s capital.
Her second point, about money in politics, helped to explain the first. The permanent class stays in power because it positions itself between two deep troughs: the money spent by the government and the money spent by big companies to secure decisions from government that help them make more money.
Ms. Palin’s third point was more striking still: in contrast to the sweeping paeans to capitalism and the free market delivered by the Republican presidential candidates whose ranks she has yet to join, she sought to make a distinction between good capitalists and bad ones. The good ones, in her telling, are those small businesses that take risks and sink and swim in the churning market; the bad ones are well-connected megacorporations that live off bailouts, dodge taxes and profit terrifically while creating no jobs.
Strangely, she was saying things that liberals might like, if not for Ms. Palin’s having said them.

I don't know why this New York Times columnist found this so strange: these are essential conservative ideas.  Perhaps they just aren't getting out enough to know what conservatives think.  And as the columnist admits, she and her peers are so intent on hating Sarah Palin that they have a hard time listening to what she says. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Book Publishing

I mentioned a while back that I had used my wife's first book project as something of a dry run for my next book.  Yes, I am procrastinating on My Brother Ron, largely because I have found out that August is not a good time to launch a book--everyone is on vacation.  Apparently fall and winter work better.  And I've been busy.

A co-worker was so impressed with what I had to say about the Kindle that he went out and bought one.  Then he bought my wife's book.  He was so impressed that as I was leaving work yesterday, I heard him hyping it to another co-worker--and he is now interested in using it for the Bible study he leads at the prison.  (The parallels between Jonah in the belly of the great fish and prison should be obvious.)

Looking Over The Republican Debate Transcript

Which you can read at the New York Times in full.  (They may be Godless Communists, but at least they have the transcript like a real newspaper from my youth!)

1. Perry argues that he did a great job creating jobs in Texas--a position for which he seems to want to take all the credit.  Romney says he did a great job creating jobs in Massachusetts.  Perry says Romney didn't do that good a job; Romney parries Perry by pointing out that Texas has oil in the ground, right to work laws, and Massachusetts is a hard place to make jobs.  I agree with Romney's defense; being governor of Massachusetts, with a bunch of raging Democrats in control, makes it very hard to make jobs.

2. Both Perry and Romney engage in what I consider really stupid comparisons of job growth.  What makes them stupid is that they are comparing different periods of time.  Perry points out that Texas created more jobs in the last three months than Romney did in four years--but look at the years, and the total population of the respective states.  Romney's crack back at Perry that Governor Bush created more jobs than Perry is the same sort of stunt; Romney should have said that and pointed out Governor Bush had a very different national economic climate--just like Romney did.

3. Santorum, even though he can't be a serious candidate (there's still enormous rage among the people that run this country about his remarks after the Lawrence decision), raises an interesting idea about how to get jobs going again in the U.S.: eliminate the corporate income tax as a method of encouraging companies to put people to work here.  He doesn't point out that what we lose on the corporate income tax revenues is likely to be made up in increased personal income tax revenues and reduced unemployment payments and food stamps.

He also mentions the problem of repatriation of assets.  He has a good point, but I am guessing that almost no one in the audience knows what he is talking about.  (I read an article recently about how many U.S. corporations have foreign assets that they would like to return to America, but the tax structure strongly discourages that.)

4. Herman Cain is also not a serious candidate, but I have to give him credit for proposing what he calls a bold plan to rejuvenate the economy: "I call it my 9-9-9 economic growth plan. Throw out the current tax code, a 9 percent tax on corporate income, our 9 percent tax on personal income and a 9 percent national sales tax."  Maybe the percentages need to be adjusted, but wiping out the current complex and often corrupted tax code with something simple would do a lot of good.  A national sales tax would also discourage consumption and thus encourage saving.

5. I have not had much impression of Gov. Huntsman, but he sure left one here.  He thinks that pressuring China (where I used to be U.S. Ambassador) to stop their currency rate games would lead to a trade war.  I think Huntsman went native.

6. Bachman didn't say much, but what she said was important: ObamaCare is killing jobs.

7. Ron Paul gave one of those presentations about the virtues of the free market that will guarantee him the support of the 5% of the population that already understands libertarian ideology, and cause the 50% that don't have a clue to write him off as a hopeless kook.  I actually largely agree with him on this issue, but this format does not provide the opportunity to explain it adequately.

8. Bachman argues that getting the government out of the way would dramatically increase oil production and drive down gasoline prices.  Huntsman's response is that this is unrealistic, that this is a free market, and the government can't dictate prices.  He is clearly not listening to what she said.

9. Ron Paul has been talking to other hard money sorts so long that he doesn't realize that his point that gasoline can be ten cents a gallon, because he has a dime made of silver, and it was only worth ten cents when it was minted, just sounds stupid:
OK, you can buy a gallon of gasoline today for a silver dime. A silver dime is worth $3.50. It's all about inflation and too many regulations.
10. Ooooh!  Mean nasty Gov. Perry calls Social Security a Ponzi scheme!
It is a Ponzi scheme to tell our kids that are 25 or 30 years old today, you're paying into a program that's going to be there. Anybody that's for the status quo with Social Security today is involved with a monstrous lie to our kids, and it's not right.
Well, it is!  The only way that it could work was if we had a continuously growing population.  That stopped some years ago; unraveling this mess is very important, but as long as the Democrats use discussion of it as a way to scare retirees, we are not going to be able to have an honest talk about it.  Romney's response, however, just makes my eyes roll:
We have always had, at the heart of our party, a recognition that we want to care for those in need, and our seniors have the need of Social Security.
This would be true if Romney was a Democrat.  Republicans opposed Social Security at the start, and for many of the right reasons.  Romney is also trying to make it sound as though Perry's criticisms are a case for abolishing the program.  Perry was very clear that for those who have retired or are about to retire, there's no way to end the program.  But something is going to have to be fixed going forward on this.  Romney either doesn't understand this, or is trying to scare people.

11. Cain points out that Chile switched from a system like ours to one that was fiscally sound:
Give them a choice with an account with their name on it, and over time we would eliminate the current broken system that we have. That is a solution to the problem. Rather than continuing to talk about how broken it is, let's just fix it using the Chilean model.
12. Perry claims to feel like a pinata as other candidates take him to task for writing an executive order mandating Gardisil vaccinations for 12 year old girls in Texas.  His defense is a reminder that at his core, he is still fundamentally a pragmatist, not driven by ideology:
I hate cancer. We passed a $3 billion cancer initiative that same legislative session of which we're trying to find over the next 10 years cures to cancers. Cervical cancer is caused by HPV. We wanted to bring that to the attention of these thousands of -- of -- of -- tens of thousands of young people in our state. We allowed for an opt-out.
I don't know what's more strong for parental rights than having that opt-out. There's a long list of diseases that cost our state and cost our country. It was on that list.
Am I disappointed?  Yes.  Am I surprised?  No.  I would prefer that he was more blunt in admitting that he let his concern about cancer take precedence over everything else.  Admitting mistakes is such an unpolitical action, it would do him some good.

13. Romney, to my surprise, says what I feel about immigration reform:

And they said, when employers are willing to hire people who are here illegally, that's a magnet, and it draws them in. And we went in and talked about sanctuary cities, giving tuition breaks to the kids of illegal aliens, employers that, employers that knowingly hire people who are here illegally. Those things also have to be stopped.
If we want to secure the border, we have to make sure we have a fence, technologically, determining where people are, enough agents to oversee it, and turn off that magnet. We can't talk about amnesty, we cannot give amnesty to those who have come here illegally.

We've got 4.7 million people waiting in line legally. Let those people come in first, and those that are here illegally, they shouldn't have a special deal.

You Doubtless Saw Coverage of the IHOP Shooting Spree in Carson City

From September 7, 2011 ABC News:
A third National Guard member has died from injuries suffered in a shooting rampage that took place at a Nevada IHOP restaurant, according to the Carson City, Nev. sheriff. The shooting spree has now left five people dead, including the shooter, and left seven wounded.
There is some reason to think the shooter was targeting National Guard members. But why?
Investigators are also looking into Sencion's mental health history, as his family members have indicated that he had a history of mental illness.
Keep on eye on this story. I would be very surprised if Sencion was not well known to police for previous mental illness problems. I would be surprised if there is not a history of observational holds, followed by release because he was not an imminent danger.

UPDATE: Yup.  This September 7, 2011 Reuters story confirms it:

Eduardo Sencion, 32, had been taken into custody in South Lake Tahoe in 2000 under a California law that allows police to hold a person who presents a danger to themselves or others, South Lake Tahoe police spokesman Lt. David Stevenson said.
Sencion, who worked in South Lake Tahoe at his family's market, was held so he could receive psychiatric evaluation and care, Stevenson said.
Stevenson declined to elaborate on the incident that prompted police to detain Sencion, but said a report did not name any victims and that no weapons were involved.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Guy Who Killed the Grizzly Bear in Boundary County, Idaho

He accepted a plea bargain.  From the September 7, 2011 Idaho Statesman:

As part of a deal, Hill agreed his actions violated a regulation of the Endangered Species Act and paid a $1,000 fine.

Read more:
He should not have needed to pay anything.  But sometimes that's the best that you can hope for when dealing with the federal government.

This Must Be The Doing of the National Grenade Association

From the September 6, 2011 Wall Street Journal:
Federal authorities are probing why the U.S. in 2010 let go an Arizona man accused of supplying grenades to a Mexican drug cartel, a case that played a role in the ouster last week of the nation's top firearms regulator and the U.S. attorney in Phoenix.
U.S. officials said missteps in the case, which hasn't been previously disclosed, are being investigated by the Justice Department and Congress. Federal agents in 2009-10 at the Phoenix office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives led the case against the suspect, who they believed was dealing grenades to cartels in Mexico. The case was overseen by prosecutors in the Arizona U.S. attorney's office, the U.S. officials said.
It gets worse from there.  I shudder to think what bad shape we would be in as a nation if Obama and his henchmen were competent.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Mountain Lion Just Off Campus

Perhaps time to reconsider the concealed weapons on campus ban?  (Obviously, mountain lions in downtown Boise are quite rare; this by itself isn't much of an argument for the change.)  From the September 6, 2011 Idaho Statesman:

In addition, a mountain lion was spotted off campus at Ninth and Myrtle streets, Zang said.

Such sightings are rare. "I don't think I've ever heard of a bobcat on campus," said university spokeswoman Kathleen Tuck, who has worked 11 years for Boise State. She hasn't seen a mountain lion on campus in that time either.

Bobcats are about twice the size of house cats. Mountain lions, also known as cougars, are larger. They can be 3 to 5 feet tall and can weigh 130 pounds or more.

A 70-pound mountain lion was spotted a month ago in Kuna. That led a state Fish and Game official to caution people to keep their pets inside at night.

Read more:

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Applying Default PowerPoint 2010 Notes Master Layout To All Slides

 I mentioned some weeks back a problem with PowerPoint 2010 not converting OpenOffice Impress files correctly; the notes text does not wrap correctly.  I am still having this problem.  The the only solution that I have found to this problem involves creating a new slide, then copying the title and contents of the slide that is problematic into the new slide, then copying the contents of the notes section into the new slide. This involves a lot of copy and paste operations and moving the mouse; I suspect that this may have played some part in the carpal tunnel syndrome I'm now suffering.

The problem appears to be that the text box in which the notes text appears is not dimensioned to fit onto an 8.5 x 11 page. There is a notion in PowerPoint 2010 of a master note layout. There should be some way to apply the master note layout to all existing slides, thus overriding the erroneous text box dimensions. Unfortunately, I am not having much luck in finding the process for applying the master note layout to all existing slides. More sophisticated actions, such as applying a theme to all slides, seems to be easy to find instructions for doing. If you could give me any clues on how to apply the master node layout to all slides in a presentation, it would be greatly appreciated.

UPDATE: On the off chance that someone else runs into this same problem from importing from OpenOffice Impress into PowerPoint 2010, the magic solution is:

1. View -> Notes Page
2. Right mouse click in the text of the notes--not in the blank area outside the text:
3. Format Shape -> Text Box -> Vertical Alignment Top  and check Wrap Text in Shape.

You still have to do this slide by slide, but it is much faster than copying and pasting into new slides!

UPDATE 2: I then created a keyboard macro using AutoHotKey (which I have used before), to turn the entire set of operations into a single keystroke. #space::Send {RButton}#o{Down}{Down}{Down}{Down}{Down}{Down}{Down}{Down}{Down}{Down}{Down}{Down}{Down}{Down}{Tab}T{Up}{Up}{Up}{Tab}{Tab}{Tab}{Tab}{Tab}{Tab}{Tab}{Space}{Tab}{Tab}{Enter} .  Now I only have to hit the window button and once I positioned in the notes text and it does all the reformatting of that slide. This is dramatically faster.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


We noticed some most peculiar stuff on our driveway this afternoon--something that looked like berries had been run through a food processor inexpertly.  Then, we ran into our neighbors at the market, and they believe that they saw a bear around dawn.  This looks like what I would imagine bear scat to look like--and we know that in the past, there have been black bears here.

Great Political Ad!

At least, very humorous.  It's from a guy named Roger Williams who is running for Congress in Texas.  I found this at PowerLineBlog.

I Guess The Population Isn't Quite As Sheep-Like As I Assume

Fox News commissioned a survey of 911 registered voters in the United States and it finds something rather interesting.  The poll asked voters if they believed that something equivalent to the Arab spring uprisings could happen in the United States within the next 10 years and a majority, 51% of the surveyed voters, responded that this was "very" or "somewhat" likely.

Unfortunately, while the answers given by those polled are somewhat vague and uncertain as to their meaning, it is very interesting that 10% of the polls indicated that they wanted to see "revolutionary" change of our system of government and 23% wanted "dramatic" change.  This is something that should scare the left quite impressively, because it indicates that the leftist domination of our government is beginning to generate an enormous resentment and rage.

Friday, September 2, 2011

This Is A Test of Dragon NaturallySpeaking

The Dragon NaturallySpeaking program arrived yesterday and I am running it through its paces right now. One of the promises of Dragon NaturallySpeaking is the ability to control movement of the mouse, and selecting windows.  So far, I am not impressed. Theoretically, you can tell it to list all windows, and then select a window. That works. When you try to select a folder in my documents and open it, the results are much less certain and much less gratifying.

It seems to do a pretty good job entering ordinary text like this, but even this has required a lot of corrections. You may corrections by saying the word "correct" followed by the word that you would like to correct.  So far, the experience of using Dragon naturally speaking to enter text in blogger, has underwhelmed me. It makes many mistakes, which does not surprise me, because this is intrinsically a difficult thing to do. If the goal is to reduce my use of my hands, to help me get past this problem with carpal tunnel syndrome, this just isn't going to work. The other frustration about this, is that much of the time it sort of works, and other times it just drives me crazy. Frequently I will tell it I want to make a correction of some sort, and it successfully finds the word that was misspelled or mis-capitalized and takes me back there. But very often it fails to find it. Sometimes it takes me to the very beginning of this blog entry without any particular reason for that to happen.

UPDATE: I am increasingly unimpressed with this product. It does a pretty good job of accepting simply text like this. But anything more complicated such as recognizing commands to delete a mail item, seem to be beyond it. It ends up saying "unknown text field" or similar messages. The inability of the program to consistently handle editing in a position prior to the current cursor spot, seems to be a serious deficiency. Nor is it obvious how to improve the accuracy of how the Dragon NaturallySpeaking which program interprets what you say.  I have just spent 5 min. trying to tell it to correct the phrase NaturallySpeaking so I could set the capitalization correct on it, and it would not let me do it. Yet just a few minutes ago it works absolutely perfectly. I made no change to how I spoke and yet sometimes it understands me and sometimes it does not. I am going to make a few more attempts to use this but if there is not substantial improvement in performance I will have to return it; it is utterly useless.

UPDATE 2: I am now using Dragon, in PowerPoint 2010, to make notes for my online lectures. While I am still a little frustrated with a few aspects of this, it is working much better for that, then for blogging. by no means am I free of using the keyboard or the mouse, but is far less intensive than what I was doing before. So perhaps I will be keeping this after all.

UPDATE 3:  I don't know if it is actually learning or if I am getting more patient. But I guess this is what that film Training Your Dragon was all about right?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

It Still Sounds Like It Came From The Onion

The EEOC has ruled that an employer may not transfer a truck driver with an admitted alcoholism problem from his job driving trucks--that's a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  (Alcoholism is a disability; they were supposed to make a "reasonable accommodation," I guess.)  To quote from the EEOC press release: "The ADA mandates that persons with disabilities have an equal opportunity to achieve in the workplace."

The only thing better: I was recently told by someone who cleans up a restaurant that he trained someone to do the job when he wasn't around who sounds like the punch line of an ADA joke: The trainee was 4' 6" (so had to climb up on ladders), spoke no English, and was deaf.  As a result, as he trained her, there were two interpreters: one translating from her native tongue's sign language (something Asian), and then a second translator to translate into English.

How Big Were The Bush Tax Cuts In Creating Our Deficit?

Super-Economy points out some of the smoke-and-mirrors used by apologists for the Obama Administration, trying to exaggerate the effect of the Bush tax cuts on the deficit problem.  (Remember: English isn't his first language.)
1. Don’t confuse the “Bush Tax Cuts” with “Bush Tax Cuts For The Rich”. Obama’s plan to repeal the Bush Tax Cuts only for those making $250.000 per year will raise one quarter as much revenue as the entire tax cut. 
2. Don’t accept analyses which add the AMT-fix to the Bush-tax cuts. This is an accounting trick. Every modern administration, including Obama, passes an AMT-fix. The Alternative Minimum Tax was designed not to allow the rich to use too many deductions, but wasn’t inflation indexed. Therefore in order to prevent it from hurting the middle class each administration has to pass a law postponing it. 
Over the next decade, the Total Bush tax cuts reduce revenue by about 1.7% of GDP per year (0.4% of which represents tax cuts for the rich). During this period the deficit is expected to average about6.7% of GDP. 

Also, Super-Economy graphs non-defense spending as a percentage of gross domestic product, and points out that the Obama Administration has done something really quite unprecedented--and worse, this is apparently not a temporary response to the recession:
The 2008 crisis was used to justify the expansion of government. But if the expansion was merely temporary, it would not have caused the U.S debt to be downgraded. As the Presidents chief of staff said: "Never let a serious crisis go to waste. What I mean by that is it's an opportunity to do things you couldn't do before." Using the crises as a pretext, the plan was to expand the size and score of government permanently. 
Thus according to the latest CBO long term budget outlook, and using the Whitehouse own estimate for defense spending, non-defense federal spending is projected to be 19.6% in 2016, when the recession is projected to be long over. Spending in 2016 is projected to be 4 percentage points higher than the historic average, with deficits of 6% of GDP.  
Of course, since Obama's policies have worked out so well for creating jobs for young people, this is just fine!

Astonishing Posting About International School Comparisons

I am not in a position to check the accuracy of the claims, but this is a very thought-provoking posting by a Kurdish Iranian who immigrated as a child to Sweden, and is now working on his Ph.D. in Public Policy at the University of Chicago.  He compared scores from a test given in multiple countries, and discovered that amazingly enough, if you control for demographic differences, American schools actually slightly outscore European schools.  White, non-immigrant American scores compare very well to white, non-immigrant European scores.  Asian-American scores are better than Asian scores:
Of course, the biggest myth that the media reporting of PISA scores propagates is that the American public school system is horrible.
The liberal left in U.S and in Europe loves this myth, because they get to demand more government spending, and at the same time get to gloat about how much smarter Europeans are than Americans. The right also kind of likes the myth, because they get to blame social problems on the government, and scare the public about Chinese competitiveness.
We all know that Asian students beat Americans students, which "proves" that they must have a better education system. This inference is considered common sense among public intellectuals. Well, expect for the fact that Asian kids in the American school system actually score slightly better than Asian kids in North-East-Asia! 
So maybe it’s not that there is something magical about Asian schools, and has more to do with the extraordinary focus on education in Asian culture, with their self-discipline and with their favorable home environment. 
This guy's English isn't perfect, but it's good enough to understand his point.  He does point out that we are spending a lot more pupil than just about any European country, so it isn't surprising that our students are outscoring the European students on this test--but it does suggest that our schools are not the big problem, but that we have a very large immigrant population, with many of the problems that immigrant children usually have in school:
In almost all European countries, immigrants from third world countries score lower than native born kids. 
Why? No one know exactly why. Language, culture, home environment, income of parents, the education level of the parents and social problems in the neighborhood and peer groups norms are among likely explanations. But it is generally not true that the schools themselves are worse for immigrants than natives. In welfare states, immigrants often (thought not always) go to the same or similar schools and have as much or likely more resources per student.
Well worth reading and pondering.