Saturday, March 31, 2012

Obviously, It's Time to Sentence Them, Then Hold a Trial

I'm sure that this is just a coincidence after all the dishonest reporting by ABC and NBC about what happened in Florida:
PALMDALE, Calif. (AP) - Seven black teens have been arrested on suspicion that they committed a hate crime when they attacked a 15-year-old Hispanic boy while he was walking home from school in Southern California, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office.

The video shows as many as 10 boys surrounding the victim and challenging him to a fight. The suspects then began hitting the teen while others watched.
During the beating, the teens made racially derogatory statements that were captured on the video, Ford said.
I have no idea what happened.  It does sound like a hate crime.  But guess what?  That's what we have a criminal justice system for--to try and figure out what happened.  What disgusts me is the way that the left is using its control of the news media to incite racial hatred, because it is about the only tool that they have left to fix the general election.

I'm Supposed To Be On GunTalk Radio Sunday

I go on at 1:05 PM Mountain Daylight Time, but listeners tell me that it broadcasts here in Boise in the evening, so I am guessing that it is live in some places and recorded elsewhere.

And NBC Lies By Omission As Well

These guys are making a strong case for revoking their broadcast license.  March 31, 2012 Washington Post reports that NBC has launched an internal investigation concerning their careful editing of the 911 call from Zimmerman:

As exposed by Fox News and media watchdog site NewsBusters, the “Today” segment took this approach to a key part of the dispatcher call:

Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.
Here’s how the actual conversation went down:
Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.
Dispatcher: OK, and this guy — is he black, white or Hispanic?
Zimmerman: He looks black.
See the difference?  In one, Zimmerman is portrayed as describing Martin as "up to no good" because he "looks black."  The actual conversation has Zimmerman describing Martin in response to the dispatcher's request.  This is an immoral act of dishonesty.  Someone needs to be fired.

Remember when NBC was got "improving" a story about exploding GM truck gas tanks by adding a model rocket motor to make the visuals more exciting?  The difference is that this time, they are playing with racially inflamed sentiment, and it won't be a truck that might explode, but cities.

More On The Rapidly Expanding Gun Culture

I was headed home from the hospital, visiting my daughter and her new son, and I heard Boise Gun Company advertising that they were having a grand opening sale at their new Nampa store, just off the freeway.  Since this was on my way home, I thought I would at least stop in and entering the drawing for merchandise.

Now, first of all, I was listening to 96.1 BOB FM.  (I have no idea what their actual call sign is.)  This is a station that claims, "We play anything."  And they do--a wide range of music from many eras.  They are not a country and western station.  They are not an oldies station--if anything, their playlist and their mildly suggestive promotional materials are not my cup of tea, but probably are for a lot of 20s and 30s.  This did not used to be an obvious demographic for firearms.

Once in the store, I was struck by how young the crowd was--and it was "bump into people because there was no way to avoid it."  Mostly these were 20s and 30s, and a few in their 40s and even antiques like myself. A lot of them were women, and some of them women who were not obviously there with their mate.  The store itself is largely handguns and battle rifles.  I saw only a few of what might be characterized as sporting arms.  (I guess most of their inventory would only qualify as sporting arms if zombie hunting becomes classed as a sport.)

I did not buy anything--the last thing I need is more guns.  (Well, if an AR-10A2 fell into my hands at a steal deal price, I might find a way to get everyone else in the gun safe to behave well enough to make room for one more.)

I was in another gun store recently that was also a rather eye-opening experience on the rapidly growing gun culture.  When I was first buying guns was in the early 1980s, in Los Angeles.  (If you knew what Los Angeles was like in the early 1980s, you will not find this a startling coincidence.)  Just about every gun store had handguns, and sporting long guns in large quantities--and usually, there would be a few tactical rifles and shotguns: AR-15s, Ruger Mini-14s, a Springfield Armory M1A, an AK-47.  But there were not a lot of these guns.  They had a pretty small customer base among gun stores, and this was even before there were any assault weapon laws.

I wandered into Ambush Tactical on Chinden Blvd. in Boise a couple of weeks ago to ask some questions about top sling adapters for AR-15s.  This is a store that is almost entirely focused on tactical weapons.  They have handguns, of course, but it seems that most of their inventory were tactical rifles, shotguns, and related accessories.  The staff was knowledgeable and friendly, and not all pushy.  I have since figured out a simpler solution for my top sling adapter, but if I had not, I would have been quite happy to give them the business.  What is so eye-opening is that there is enough business in the Boise metropolitan area to keep a store devoted so overwhelmingly to tactical weaponry.

The political class needs to be paying attention.  I suspect that it is not going to end well for them.  As I have pointed out elsewhere, it may not end well for anyone.

Improving on the Centering Tool

As I have previously mentioned, the centering tool, while better than just measuring with a micrometer, is still in the hundredths of an inch (sometimes many hundredths) accuracy for determining the center of a round rod.  I had occasion to use this again this evening, and I decided to see what I might be doing wrong that could explain this.

One possible explanation is that I am using an awl to draw the radius line, and depending on where your hand is when scratching along the radius marker of the centering tool, the tip of the awl can be either directly below the diagonal marker on the tool, or many hundredths of an inch to the one side or the other, depending on whether the awl is exactly vertical or at an angle.  Unfortunately, because there is nothing that clamps the centering tool onto the rod, and I am somewhat disabled in only having two hands (instead of the far more useful three or four hands), you may not get exactly the same angle with the awl each time.  What this means is that if you draw several radius lines, some of them are going to be more remote from the true radius than others.

One solution to improve the accuracy of my center point was to take the micrometer, measure the maximum diameter of the rod, and move the micrometer to half of that diameter.  Then I put one jaw on the edge of the rod, and pivoted the other side so that its jaw scribed a line through the center of the rod.  By doing this twice, the intersection of these two circles with the radius lines gave me something pretty decent--perhaps as accurate as .01" to .03".  That's better, but not as good as I would like.

I am thinking that what I may want to do is take a piece of aluminum square tube 5" to 6" long, and drill a hole in each leg, then drill and tap into the sides of the centering tool so that I can screw the right angle onto the centering tool.  Then I can drill and tap some 1/4"-20 holes in the square tube walls to lock the rod that I want to center in position.  Then I can put the whole assembly in a vise, and use the awl to scribe the radius lines without having to hold the centering tool on the end of rod with one hand, while holding the rod firmly with the second hand, and scribing with my non-existent third hand.

Or perhaps I will take the next step: start with a square tube large enough to handle the rod, drill and tap the 1/4"-20 holes to hold the rod in position, and machine an end plate perhaps 1/8" thick that looks like this:

I would cut two 45 degree slots that were just wide enough to accept the tip of the awl.  They would be in immediate contact with the rod, so it would be almost impossible to get anything but a directly vertical relationship between the awl point and the rod.  This should make it possible to get a center that is thousandths of an inch accurate, not hundredths, and with very little effort.  

In addition, by having two radius lines, there is no need to rotate the rod to get two crossing radii.  You could still rotate it after drawing these two lines, and quickly scribe two more crossing radii lines, improving accuracy, but it wouldn't be necessary.

Of course, like the Groz centering tool, it would work with any polygon with an even number of sides: squares, rectangles, hexagons, octagons.  I don't have much occasion to need to center pentagons or heptagons, and nonagons and undecagons are, shall we say, not common machining problems, except for the machine shop in Flatland.

Friday, March 30, 2012

My Daughter Is Having a C-Section At The Moment

Grandson Titus is on his way.

UPDATE: Two weeks early, but healthy, 7 lbs. 3 ozs. and 21 inches long.

Federal Judge Strikes Down Massachusetts Ban on Permanent Residents Having Handguns

Of Arms and the Law has a copy of Fletcher v. Haas (D.Mass. 2012), which strikes down Massachusetts' ban on permanent resident aliens possessing handguns in their homes, or obtaining a carry permit.  Wow!  What a concept: "right of the people" means the same in the Second Amendment that it does elsewhere in the Bill of Rights!

Mandatory Cell Phones

During the oral arguments Tuesday before the Supreme Court, some of the justices asked, if Congress can require you to buy health insurance, what else can it require you to buy?  Solicitor-General Verrilli gave a number of rambling answers that essentially tried to distinguish health insurance from other things because of the peculiarities of health insurance its effects on the larger economy.  And there's some truth to this; you are not likely to go years on end without buying food, then suddenly, need to buy $25,000 worth of it in one month.  But what is really fascinating is Justice Breyer's defense of the unlimited authority of the national government to make you buy things, starting on page 15:

Well, yes, I thought the answer to that was, since McCulloch versus Maryland, when the Court said Congress could create the Bank of the United States which did not previously exist, which job was to create commerce that did not previously exist, since that time the answer has been, yes. I would have thought that your answer -- can the government, in fact, require you to buy cell phones or buy burials that, if we propose comparable situations, if we have, for example, a uniform United States system of paying for every burial such as Medicare Burial, Medicaid Burial, Ship Burial, ERISA Burial and Emergency Burial beside the side of the road, and Congress wanted to rationalize that system, wouldn't the answer be, yes, of course, they could.
I'm trying to imagine Congress trying to justify, in the interest of public safety, requiring everyone to own a cell phone, with the absurd contracts that most cell phone companies love to use to lock in teenagers and young adults.

Even more entertaining is what happened when Justice Kennedy asked Verrilli to explain what, by Verrilli's very broad definition of Congressional authority to regulate interstate commerce, would not be within the government's authority, starting on page 16:

GENERAL VERRILLI: Yes. The -- the rationale purely under the Commerce Clause that we're advocating here would not justify forced purchases of commodities for the purpose of stimulating demand.  We -- the -- it would not justify purchases of insurance for the purposes -- in situations in which insurance doesn't serve as the method of payment for service -­
JUSTICE KENNEDY: But why not? If Congress -- if Congress says that the interstate commerce is affected, isn't, according to your view, that the end of the analysis.
 GENERAL VERRILLI: No. The -- we think that in a -- when -- the difference between those situations and this situation is that in those situations, Your Honor, Congress would be moving to create commerce.
Here Congress is regulating existing commerce, economic activity that is already going on, people's participation in the health care market, and is regulating to deal with existing effects of existing commerce.
 And yet the justification in Wickard v. Filburn (1942) for regulating the amount of wheat that a farmer could grow, grind into wheat, and make into bread on his own farm was that home-grown and consumed wheat was a significant fraction of total demand, and therefore it was within the government's authority to regulate such non-interstate activity, because it influenced total demand.  Is there anything  that the interstate commerce clause can't control, since all of us influence the national economy, at least in a very small way?

UPDATE: Powerlineblog points out another mistake that Justice Breyer made.  Breyer was under the impression that the government forced Filburn to go buy wheat.  They did not.  They limited the amount that Breyer could grow.  In practice, this might have the same net effect--but:
The distinction between the case vaguely recalled by Justice Breyer and the one decided by the Supreme Court in the Wickard case might be the difference between a pass or a fail on a fairly graded Con law exam in law school. It goes to the heart of the Obamacare case. Justice Breyer has apparently been pursuing other intersts over the past few months. 
But Breyer has a good excuse.  He obviously wasn't expecting this case to show up this week.

The Winning Ticket For 2012

Instapundit took a picture of the bumper sticker for what would certainly be the winning ticket for 2012 if they were on the ballot.  And who knows?  All those guns being bought around the country might be the best indication.

ABC, As Usual, Engaged In Deception

As a number of people point out, careful examination of the video of Zimmerman at the police station actually does support his claim of injuries to the back of the head and that he has a bandage on his nose.  (Hint: it is likely that the paramedics cleaned up both injuries while trying to figure out how badly he was hurt.)  It appears that ABC News actually did things to hide those injuries on the video.  This is not surprising; creating a race war is a fundamental part of how liberals operate.

Loving Mother Earth...At 186 MPH

Watts Up With That? has some priceless tweets from Jose Canseco (Mr. Steroidal Baseball) that are both expressing sorrow about Al Gore's death and the importance of doing more to prevent global warming...and
I didn't know a Cadillac cts v with 556 horsepower could186mph till today . wow I was flying
This right up there with Laurie David's concern about global warming while flying around in her own private jet.

If Canseco starts to feel guilty about that CTS-V, I will be glad to take it off his hands, and promise never to drive it 186.

No Wonder Ammo Is In Short Supply

The Department of Homeland Security is buying 450 million rounds of .40 S&W.  My first reaction is: That's a lot of ammunition.  But then again, if you consume 1000 rounds a quarter for training, and you have tens of thousands of officers, this isn't so shocking.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Centering Tool Again

I mentioned a few days back the need to find the center of a rod.  I ended up buying the Groz tool for this, and it works--but I confess, my experiences so far suggest that this approach to finding the center of a round rod is at best accurate to hundredths of inch.  It is definitely inferior to using a lathe--but then again, I did not have that option.

When I bought this tool at Woodcrafters here in Boise, they salesman mentioned that it works on a lot of shapes besides round.  And sure enough, it does.  I am rebuilding some wind chimes for my wife.  Wind chimes  up here have to be very strong to survive our weather conditions, so I am rebuilding these sets with aluminum replacing the wood, and galvanized steel picture cord replacing the twine.  The center finder works pretty well for finding the exact center of a square or rectangle, as you might expect, and in the same way: put it in the corner, scratch a line along the diagonal, turn it 90 degrees, and repeat.  Where the lines cross is the center point--at least, accurately enough for wind chime work.

Le Coq Rogue, Boise

I was looking for some place a bit special to take my wife on our 32nd anniversary (today), and several co-workers recommended Le Coq Rouge, a French restaurant in a very unassuming neighborhood in South Boise, on Maple Grove.  This is a very small restaurant--perhaps fifteen tables at most.  Their menu changes frequently, so don't expect to find what we had six months from now.  Plan on making reservations, or you are likely to be disappointed.  They have live music, but fortunately, not so loud as to overpower our conversation. (And yes, even after 32 years of marriage, we have a lot to talk about.)

One nice aspect was that when I explained that my wife was gluten-intolerant, they said that they would have a gluten-free menu for her.  And they did.  Or rather, they had gone through their regular menu, and highlighted in yellow everything that could be prepared gluten-free, in many cases, simply by replacing the potato gratin with rice.  Only a few items could not be provided gluten-free.  Very nice that there were so many options, and very nice that they were prepared to put some work into figuring out how to solve this problem.

My first reaction was: gee, it's a bit pricey, but then again, it's a French restaurant.  Had I realized how large the servings were, however, my wife and I would have split one dinner, and been more than satisfied with the size of our meal, and its cost-effectiveness.  Unless you are running marathons on a regular basis, ordering off the $49 meal menu (which includes a first course, an entree, and a dessert), would be completely insane.

What I ordered had first course of ravoli aux truffles in a sage and butter sauce.  Awesome, but subtle.  There was French bread on the table, and this was quite decent, although not quite so dramatically different from what you get in a number of more pedestrian restaurants.

The entree that I ordered was schweizerschnitzel (okay, I understand the the owner is French, but her husband the chef is German).  This was a wonderfully subtle and flavorful dish, with carrots and Brussels sprouts that were just cooked enough to not be crunchy, but not cooked to the point of mushiness--just about as flawless as vegetables can be.

My wife's first course was petite coquille, a broiled scallops dish with (I think) Gruyere cheese, and her entree was filet d'Agneau, a lamb dish.  I was traumatized by a fish at a young age, so I have to take her word for how yummy the scallops were, but the fillet d'Agneau was quite good.

Dessert was probably the least astonishing part of the meal; as good as you would get in many good restaurants around here, but not the standout sensation of the rest of the meal.  The lemon meringue pie was very profoundly lemony, but I have had equivalent or at least very similar elsewhere.  The cream puff was a bit disappointing, perhaps because I was expecting something a bit more of a standout compared to what you get in some high-end donut shops.

All in all, a fine place if you don't plan to eat there every day (or even every month).  Split a meal here, and you should be able to get out the door for $65 - $70.

Idaho Aquarium

One aspect of Boise that I rather like is that even though it is still a small town, it makes a serious attempt at providing some of the cultural aspects of a bigger town: the Idaho Shakespeare Festival; ballet; opera.  One recent such attempt is the Idaho Aquarium.  It is a strip mall, in between a mattress discounter and two bail bonds.

Okay, you aren't going to mistake it for the Monterey Bay Aquarium--not even close.  But we went through their exhibits last weekend with my daughter and her family, and it was an interesting diversion, although a bit expensive ($9 per adult).  For a lot of people in this area, this is likely to be an eye-opening experience.

Refilling HP Inkjet Cartridges

I know that there are vendors who refill HP inkjet cartridges, or at least take used ones in trade for refilled ones.  Does anyone have any experiences (positive or negative) with mail order vendors like this, or ones in Boise?  HP, of course, would have you believe that the experiences will refills are negative.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

PJMedia Article

About the Trayvon Martin case.  What's amazing is how much new information has appeared since I wrote this piece over the weekend, which makes Zimmerman seem even less likely to be in the wrong in any sense.

Incitement to Riot?

MSNBC reports that director Spike Lee retweeted the address of George Zimmerman to 240,000 followers. If it was the right address, this would have been reprehensible, especially since at least some of those 240,000 followers might well have decided to engage in their form of racial justice.  But:

Elaine McClain, 70, the owner of the misidentified house in Sanford, Florida, and her husband David McClain, 72, tell news outlets they're now "living in fear." The address spread on Twitter, accompanied by threats of violence, and the couple are now staying at a hotel "to avoid the spotlight and possible danger," reports the Orlando Sentinel. 
Oh, and Mrs. McClain? She reportedly has a heart condition. Awesome. 
 It is becoming increasingly apparent that the leader of the left lacks the emotional maturity and intelligence to behave like adults.

Pot. Kettle. Black.

Steve Green at Vegas inc. reports on the latest signs of a break with reality from Steve Gibson of Righthaven:

The CEO of copyright lawsuit filer Righthaven LLC is complaining that he's the victim of ''unconscionable'' ambush tactics by opposing attorneys in one of several lawsuits filed by the company.
Steven Gibson, who is facing a fine of $500 per day over Righthaven's failure to turn over financial information in the case, says the attorneys are unfairly trying to pin the blame on him for not producing the data. He claims the responsibility lies not with him or the company but with an attorney who has represented Righthaven, Shawn Mangano.
This is the guy who filed lawsuits without warning demanding $75,000 (later $150,000) for copyright infringements that likely would have resulted in, at most, $200 penalties under the copyright law--but relied on the fact that defendants could not afford to spend $30,000 or more to defend themselves--and he is complaining about "unconscionable" tactics?  And now he is blaming an employee for the failure of Righthaven to turn over documents related to Gibson and his wife's personal finances?

If there is anyone who is an argument for jail time for litigation abuse, it is Steve Gibson.  But he does seem to be trying to rewrite the old definition of chutzpah: the man convicted of murdering his parents who throws himself on the mercy of the court because he's an orphan.

Flying Is Just Losing Its Magic

First the attendant rants about 9/11 on an American Airlines flight: now this:

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Passengers aboard an early morning flight from New York bound for Las Vegas first noticed something wrong when the plane's top pilot came out of the cockpit, didn't close the door and tried to force his way into an occupied bathroom.
The JetBlue captain's co-workers tried to calm him as he became more jittery, coaxing him to the back of the plane while making sure — above all — that he didn't get back near the plane's controls.
Then, he sprinted up the cabin's aisle — ranting about a bomb, screaming "They're going to take us down!" and urging confused passengers to pray.
It appears that the captain had some sort of emotional or mental illness breakdown.  Fortunately, the passengers and other crew were able to restrain him.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Zombies, Ammo, & Obama

Zombies, Ammo, and Obama
In case you haven’t noticed, zombies are a really hot cultural icon at the moment.  If this focus was purely a matter of entertainment, I would find it a bit bizarre, but no more weird than the romantic vampire theme that seems to have taken hold of the imagination of teenaged girls.  Ammunition manufacturers are even cashing in on this, with Hornady offering Zombie Max in a number of the common handgun, rifle, and shotgun calibers.  I would like to be amused, but I think this reflects a very serious issue—and one that the political class is ignoring to their peril.

Americans are arming in a really big way—and not for plinking or hunting. FBI background checks for firearms sales hit 1.266 million in February, “a gain of 31.4 per cent over the same month in 2011.”  At least some of those background checks were for people buying more than one gun at a time.  Many of these are going to first time gun owners. Publicly traded gun manufacturers, such as Sturm, Ruger, and Smith & Wesson, are flying high (to my pleasure, since I own shares of both).  Sturm, Ruger actually had to announce that it was no longer accepting new firearms orders, because it was so backlogged with existing demand. The ammunition shortages that we saw in 2008 and 2009, seem to be returning—at least based on the number of categories of ammunition showing up as “Out of Stock” at Cheaper Than Dirt!  At least Obama can make some part of the U.S. economy grow!

What is driving this enormous demand?  Guns are either an essential tool, or a luxury item.  For some Americans, that first gun, whether it is a rifle or a handgun, is something you buy because you live in a bad neighborhood, and need protection.  People may sacrifice a bit to buy their first gun, as I did when I bought a Colt Government Model handgun in 1981.  Normally, this volume of sales would make sense only in a very strong economy, or when people were not worried about their jobs.  But in this economy?  And with murder rates as low as they were in the early 1960s?   Americans are worried—and with these sales numbers, I think the zombie fixation and the gun buying mania are telling us something—something that is a bit worrisome.

My theory is that the focus on zombie apocalypse is how decent, law-abiding Americans confront a very dark fear: the collapse of American civilization.  Zombie movies put individuals up against merciless savages where there is no one to rely upon but yourself.  There is no government.  There is little to no community left—just you and a few friends against monsters.  I suspect that the possibility of economic collapse, as the national budget disaster spirals out of control, has a lot of people scared witless.  I don’t think this is subconscious, but a polite way for Americans to speak their fears in a way that sounds cute, instead of paranoid.

It is also apparent that fear of what the second Obama Administration will do with respect to gun control is driving much of the gun-buying frenzy.  If gun owners were a tiny minority (like Jews in Nazi Germany), I supposed that I could understand the sense of, “I have no other solution but to stock up and prepare for a police state.”  But the scale of these purchases tells me that gun ownership is extremely mainstream, and likely about to cross over into majority status, if it has not already.  More than 1.2 million gun sales a month means more than 14 million a year and guns are not consumables. 

If fear of Obama’s possible gun control actions, or of the coming budget apocalypse, is driving this, why does Obama have any chance to getting re-elected at all in November?  Perhaps many Americans have bought into the nihilist bumper sticker, “If voting changed anything, it would be illegal.”  I certainly run into many well-paid professionals who have stopped voting because they have concluded that we are beyond the point where elections can fix anything.  Or perhaps, like zombies, they are expecting the graveyards of Chicago to disgorge so many dead voters that it won’t matter who really wins in November, anyway.

All of this has me quite fearful for my country.  If you can cough up $500 for another gun, or $25 for a couple of boxes of ammunition, can you cough up $25 to help some candidate for Congress who isn’t corrupt enough to get money from PACs?  If you can spend several hours burning through 500 rounds of ammunition to get proficient with your new Ruger LCP, can you spend an hour voting in November to unseat Obama?

Don’t kid yourself: if America is reduced to a Mad Max situation, you are going to wish that you had spent the time trying to clean up the disaster without bloodshed. The real world will not end as positively as a Hollywood movie.

When Is 1000 < 25?

When it's 1000 Catholics protesting Obama's oppressive policies, as opposed to 25 leftists supporting them.  From the PJ Tatler:

There was a large political protest in San Francisco a couple days ago. In fact, it was one of the largest ones this year and far out-drew any OccupySF protests since the earliest days of that movement.
And yet, the protest was almost completely ignored by the mainstream media.
Because it was organized by Catholic groups strongly opposing President Obama and his contraception mandate for religious organizations. Any event that opposes Obama is deemed by the media to be irrelevant and trivial, and can safely be swept under the rug.
But thankfully the mainstream media no longer has a monopoly on the narrative, and in this case Larry in SF from the Fund47 blog was once again on the scene to bring us exclusive coverage of the protest, along with photographic proof that it numbered over a thousand people — far in excess of the few dozens that comprise the typical media-saturated Occupy protests these days.
Tiny protests by the left get covered by San Francisco newspapers; fair sized ones by Catholics get ignored.

Choir Boy Martin Loses His Halo

This is so reminiscent of Tom Wolfe's Bonfire of the Vanities, right down to the involvement of Al Sharpton, who is clearly the model for Wolfe's "Rev. Bacon."  The March 26, 2012 Sun-Sentinel reports on Trayvon Martin's history of suspensions from school:
SANFORD — Trayvon, who claimed that an unnamed friend had given him the jewelry, was not disciplined because of the discovery, but was instead suspended for graffiti, according to a Miami-Dade Schools Police report obtained by The Miami Herald.

Miami Gardens teenager Trayvon Martin was suspended from school in October in an incident in which he was found in possession of women’s jewelry and a screwdriver that a schools security staffer described as a “burglary tool,” The Miami Herald has learned.
It doesn't justify Martin's death, but it makes Zimmerman's claim of being attacked by Martin a lot more believable, doesn't it?

UPDATE: This guy has spent some time combing through Trayvon Martin's social media activities.  Martin was either a small scale drug dealer, or was trying very hard to give that impression.  The tattoos, the gold teeth, the gang signs in pictures of his friends, and a tweet that seems to indicate Martin attacked a bus driver, are making Zimmerman look more and more like the victim.  But will it matter?  Probably not.  Racism is at the core of America today--the need to portray every black person as a victim, and every white person as an oppressor.

Monday, March 26, 2012

More Reasons To Never Do Business With Network Solutions

I mentioned a few days ago my frustration with Network Solutions, and why I am moving my domain registration to my web hosting service.  Now my new domain registrar reports that Network Solutions claims that my domain is still locked (even though Network Solutions gave me the unlock codes, which I provided my new registrar).  So I am going through the process again, and hoping that this is just incompetence by Network Solutions, and not an intentional effort to force me to stay with them.  Realistically: if someone like Network Solutions simply can't ever quite get around to allowing the registration to move, what can you do?

Blood Money

I was prepared to believe that Trayvon Martin's parents, in their grief, were prepared to believe the worst of not only George Zimmerman, but also of Sanford Police Department.  But seeing this brazen attempt at profiting from his death makes me believe the worst of Trayvon Martin's mother:

MARCH 26 (TSG) — The mother of Trayvon Martin has filed two applications to secure trademarks containing her late son’s name, records show.
Sabrina Fulton is seeking marks for the phrases “I Am Trayvon” and “Justice for Trayvon,” according to filings made last week with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. In both instances, Fulton is seeking the trademarks for use on “Digital materials, namely, CDs and DVDs featuring Trayvon Martin,” and other products.

Even ABC News Is Covering This

The U.S. has been working on a ballistic missile defense system with our European allies, primarily for protection against Iran.  The Russians don't like it, because it might impair their ability to threaten their former allies in Eastern Europe.  So what did the microphones accidentally catch Obama saying?

The exchange:
President Obama: On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space.
President Medvedev: Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you…
President Obama: This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.
President Medvedev: I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir.
Yup.  Give me after the election, when I can scrap the defense system that might be necessary if Iran gets nuclear weapons, and to make it easier for Russia to threaten its former allies into submission.  What amazes me is that there is not a Democratic primary challenger to this dangerous fool.

Solicitor-General Humpty-Dumpty

From Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland:
Humpty Dumpty. And only one for birthday presents, you know. There's glory for you!
Alice. I don't know what you mean by " glory."
Humpty Dumpty (contemptuously). Of course you don't —till I tell you. I meant " there's a nice knock-down argument for you!"
Alice. But "glory " doesn't mean " a nice knock-down argument."
Humpty Dumpty. When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.
Alice. The question is, whether you can make words mean so many different things.
Humpty Dumpty. The question is, which is to be master, that's all. They've a temper, some of them — particularly verbs, they're the proudest — adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs. However, I can manage the whole lot of them! Impenetrability! That's what I say!
From the oral arguments (pp. 31-32) before the Supreme Court today about the constitutionality of Obamacare:
JUSTICE ALITO: [Solicitor] General Verrilli, today you are arguing that the penalty is not a tax. Tomorrow you are going to be back and you will be arguing that the penalty is a tax.   Has the Court ever held that something that is a tax for purposes of the taxing power under the Constitution is not a tax under the Anti-Injunction Act?
 GENERAL VERRILLI: No, Justice Alito, but the Court has held in the license tax cases that something can be a constitutional exercise of the taxing power whether or not it is called a tax. And that's because the nature of the inquiry that we will conduct tomorrow is different from the nature of the inquiry that we will conduct today. 
Today it's not a tax.  Tomorrow it is.  What is the meaning of "is"?

Ammo Shortages Again?

I have heard reports of ammo again being in short supply--I guess signs that a lot of Americans think Obama is going to win re-election and take some drastic steps.  If you go to Cheaper Than Dirt, yes, many of the most cost-effective priced ammo products are out of stock.  If you go to Lucky Gunner, they do not seem to have this problem, and they are only slightly more expensive (fractions of a penny per round more expensive).

If you think about it for a minute, you have to wonder: if there are so many people so worried about Obama's re-election to drive gun company stock prices into the stratosphere, and create severe shortages of ammunition--how could Obama possibly win re-election?  There is a real serious disconnect here, unless the problem is that dead people don't buy guns or ammo, but they do certainly vote.

Decline & Fall of Christianity

Walter Russell Mead points to the recent statement of the Saudi Arabian grand mufti about the obligation to destroy all Christian churches in the Arabian peninsula as evidence of the rapidly changing status of Christianity:
For many Muslims, however, the rise of tolerance in Christianity looks less like maturity and self confidence than like the senescence of a religion in decline. Christianity, these critics say, is losing its hold on the western mind. The rise in religious tolerance is the result of necessity — the churches are weak, the believers indifferent, and so Christians no longer have the inner conviction to stand up for their faith. Just as Christian countries tolerate a range of vices and practices that in the past, when their faith was stronger, they opposed (homosexuality, abortion, sexual immorality of all kinds, blasphemy and obscenity), so now they also don’t care very much about what religion people profess because their own faith doesn’t mean all that much to the shrinking minority that still has one. 
Of course, they are right.  Protestant churches have so abandoned Christian values in their desire to increase the size of their congregations that most no longer stand for anything at all.  The Catholic Church's tolerance--even active protection--for pedophile priests has destroyed any credibility that it still had.

Leftist intellectuals have become enamored of Islam because it is non-Western, and perceived as the only credible way of destroying Christianity, which is perceived as a threat to homosexuality, women's equality, and abortion.  That Islam is going to be more of a threat to all three of the idols of the left, once it achieves ascendancy here, seems to have escaped the left.  My guess is that the left thinks of Islam as a fire that you use to burn the rats out of the house, but does not realize that there won't be a house at the end.

UPDATE: A commenter made a rather disturbing point, which seems to be confirmed in this December 12, 2011 Daily Mail article:

An Orthodox Jewish community has had to face up to claims of child sex abuse after 83 men and two women were arrested.
An initiative was set up to encourage victims to come forward despite pressure from the close-knit religious society to hush up the crimes.
Some 117 male and female victims have approached authorities in Brooklyn, New York since 2006. There were 89 accusers under the age of 17.
The Orthodox Jewish organisation Agudath Israel of America, which has its headquarters in Manhattan, rules that anyone who claims to have been  sexually abused by another Jew must consult rabbis first.
Only then is the decision made whether to go to secular authorities.

Read more:
 I am aware many religious communities seek the resolve internal disputes within the congregation first.  But requiring you to get approval of the rabbi before going to secular authorities is a recipe for disaster.

Rising Bond Yields

The stock market is rising, and so are bond yields.  The 30 year Treasuries are now at 3.33% yield--a rate not seen in some time.  Partly this is because the economy seems to be recovering a bit, and perhaps movers and shakers in the bond markets are concerned that the "quantatitive easing" is going to finally turn into price inflation on a big scale, as money velocity increases.  Either way, it probably means an Obama victory in November, since most Americans seem to love him so much.  Of course, here in my part of Idaho, the Obama 2012 bumper stickers clearly outnumber those for Republican candidates.

UPDATE: I see that 30 year Treasuries actually yielded 3.48% on March 19.

Castle Nut Wrench Question

I need to install a top sling adapter on an AR-15.  The castle nut wrench made by Tapco looks like the right tool for this--but just to be sure--this is the same castle nut for the collapsible stock and the fixed stock, right?  Any preferences out there for the AR-15 top sling adapters?  I have a top sling that uses the snap clip latch, so it should not be the kind that accepts the sling itself.

UPDATE: Very useful suggestions from all--but it turns out that the top sling that I bought can be made to do what I want, anyway.  I snapped the clip on end of the sling onto the front sling, under the front handguard, and wrapped the sling around the handguard, so that it braced the handguard, and the rear clip to the rear sling position.  I know have a completely functional ready position sling.  It makes it comfortable to carry with the sling over my left shoulder, so that my hands can be free if needed.  It is comfortable and fast to bring to the shoulder for firing, and even provides some bracing when in position.  It is at least possible to fire from the hip, although that is generally more useful for making movies than in the real world.

I do hope that I never have a real world situation where this makes sense, but watching the country arm itself to the level that it is doing tells me that a lot of Americans have figured out that something a lot worse than zombie apocalypse is coming our way soon.

Smith & Wesson Holding Company (SWHC)

Unlike Ruger, they don't pay a dividend, but the shares are cheap (under $8 per share at the moment), and it seems like a reasonably good bet that the same madness driving Ruger's stock up will do something good for other firearms manufacturers.  SWHC is the only other firearms maker that is publicly traded.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Effectiveness of Ultrasound Requirements On Willingness to Abort

One of the justifications for the ultrasound requirements that some states (including Idaho) are considering is that if women considering an abortion, seeing that the "fetal tissue" looks like a very, very small baby, and has a heartbeat, may cause some women to change their minds.

One of my readers pointed me to this, which reports that 72% of women who were planning an abortion change their minds after seeing the ultrasound.  I am a bit skeptical, partly because this survey was done of women who had gone to a pro-life pregnancy counseling service--where I would not expect women who were terribly committed to abortion to go.  It would be like doing a survey of people going to a steakhouse, and discovering that a large fraction were committed vegetarians.  In addition, this is only a press release, not the full study.

I am curious to see studies on both studies of this--but I am not finding much actual data on either side of this.  If you know of any, please let me know.

UPDATE: Never mind, found them.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Is There A Place To File Fraudulent Emails?

I get a lot of, "You must contact us at once about your account with " fill in a bank or credit card company with whom I have never had any business.  I generally ignore them, but I do find myself wondering: is there any agency making an effort to track down these criminals?  I don't get taken by these frauds, but there are a lot of people who do.  I know that we're not going to send SEAL Team 6 after them, but these identity thieves will keep doing this until someone drags them into criminal court somewhere.  Is there any agency that pursues these crooks?

Vacuum Cleaners

Some years back, we had just moved into an enormous, 2800 square foot house in California--in many respects, a middle class dream home, with a 9 1/2 feet deep heated inground pool.  This was twice the size of our previous house, and we needed a better vacuum cleaner.  A couple from church we knew were trying desperately to get out of their financial hole, and as a favor, we let him come over and do the sales pitch on a Kirby vacuum cleaner.

If you have ever owned one, you know that Kirby's are solid, industrial grade vacuum cleaners.  And they are priced accordingly.  I was feeling pretty darn rich at the time, so I spent the $1000 to buy it.  We used that vacuum cleaner for six years in that house, and for another five years in our house in Boise, after we left California.  At our new house in the mountains, the Kirby had one great failing: it was so heavy that it was beginning to make us nervous when it went over the tiles that make up most of our current house.  So we reluctantly sold it (even though it still worked great) and bought a typical consumer bag vacuum cleaner--something that only cost $100 or so, and like most vacuum cleaners in that range, it never really worked all that well, and then gave up the ghost after a couple of years, and we bought another one.

Of course, none of the cheap vacuum cleaners are spectacular, and a year or so ago, we bought a Hoover Wind Tunnel.  My wife was interested in one of those Dyson vacuum cleaners, which are very cleverly marketed--but by that point, I was a state employee, and she had the good sense to not spend the pretty hefty money required for the Dyson.  The Hoover Wind Tunnel is a bagless machine, and it worked pretty well--but it still has two serious defects:

1. It does not pick up a lot of small pieces, especially on the tile floors.

2. It often seems to throw dust behind the vacuum cleaner, for no apparent reason.

So I started doing some digging, and I found that the Shark vacuum cleaner was enjoying similarly positive reviews to the Dyson, and at a much more reasonable price.  Worse, some of the complaints about Dyson warranty repair made me wonder if the warranty was worth much.

We bought a Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional NV356, largely because the next step down, the NV22, seemed to have a small number of very serious complaints from consumers at Amazon, while the NV356, with similarly high average reviews, did not have any of the very serious complaints.  It seems like spending an extra $50 was probably worth it.

My wife had vacuumed the family room and kitchen on Thursday with the Hoover.  While we had not vacuumed the dining room and living room recently enough to remember exactly when, they were not particularly dirty.  So you can imagine my surprise when we did those four rooms with the Shark.

Ooooh!  Yes, we should have named the cat "Dander."  But look at how much the Hoover failed to get, but the Shark picked up!  The Shark is aptly named; it has powerful suction, indeed, so much that on carpet, you can actually feel it being somewhat propelled forward by the suction. 

Some other interesting aspects of it: they have a single switch that controls on, off, and whether you are on hard floors or carpet.  It turns out that at least some of why stuff was not being picked up by the Hoover, or was being thrown behind it, appears to be that the carpet beater parts of the Hoover's head grabbed stuff from hard floors and threw it.  On carpet, small particles and dust are sufficiently anchored that this is not a problem, but on hard floors, they just go flying.  Switching the Shark from carpet to hard floor seems to solve this problem.

One of the selling points of the Dyson Ball models is that they are apparently easier to maneuver than conventional vacuum cleaners.  The Shark seems to have a pivoting or steering mechanism that while not as elegant looking as Dyson's spherical approach, works very well indeed--much better than conventional vacuum cleaners.

A criticism of some reviewers of the Shark Navigator was how small the cleaning head is.  Indeed, it is very narrow compared to most other vacuums.  In practice, this is not a big problem, and it is actually something of an advantage.  One pass is all it takes on carpet, and the narrower head means that I can get into places that are ordinarily difficult to reach.  The head also pulls up dirt right to the front of the head--something that many other vacuums that I have owned can't do. 

Bad Nuclear Accident In The Next Valley...

Well, at least that's what it looks like!  It's actually a night shot of Bogus Basin ski resort, 10 second exposure, that my son was doing for one of his photography classes:

And here was the time exposure picture that he was actually trying to take, a 40 second night shot with the headlights of vehicles on state highway 55:

Hard to believe that this was March 2, and today it was so warm that I did not need a jacket.

I'm Not A Hunter....

Probably for the best for our visitors:

Of course, these goldfinches wouldn't even make a decent appetizer, and they are so pretty anyway:

You see stuff like this, and you wonder if someone is putting LSD in the water coolers at the New York Times.  From the March 23, 2012 New York Times:
President Bush grew up in Midland and spent 11 years as a West Texas oilman, albeit without much success, before entering politics. Vice President Dick Cheney had been chief executive of the oil field contractor Halliburton. The Bush administration worked from the start on finding ways to unlock the nation’s energy reserves and reverse decades of declining output, with Mr. Cheney leading a White House energy task force that met in secret with top oil executives.

“Ramping up production was a high priority,” said Gale Norton, a member of the task force and the secretary of the Interior at the time. “We hated being at the mercy of other countries, and we were determined to change that.”
The article also reports that Obama continued these policies, to the upset of the environmentalists that helped elect him.

The Pragmatic Case For Romney

The Pragmatic Case For Romney
There is much that I like about Rick Santorum.  I agree with him on some issues.  I am a social conservative, although I disagree with Santorum about some particular details.  I like the fact that he seems to pretty consistently stick to his positions, even when it is not popular.  I get the impression that there are many Republicans who, even when they disagree with Santorum, at least respect his integrity in telling people what he thinks, not what his audience wants to hear.  I reluctantly supported Santorum in the Republican presidential caucuses here in Idaho in March.  But there is a strong case, regrettably, for why, of the remaining nominees, Romney is the best choice even for social conservatives.

I know that Romney is not a social conservative.  Here is a very painful truth that many social conservatives may not want to hear: this is no longer a Christian nation.  When I grew up, it was a hypocritical Christian nation.  Christian values were widely stated, and even widely held, but as with most situations where a strong majority imposed its view through law, there were a lot of hypocrites: people who went to church, pretended that faith was important, but did not let it get in the way of doing what they wanted to do.  To the extent that American society was civilized when I was young, it was largely because much evil was driven underground.  “Hypocrisy is the compliment that vice pays to virtue,” as Victorians sometimes said.  There is much to be said in favor of having those vices hiding in the shadows instead of marching down Main Street, but let’s not pretend that everything was wonderful in the 1950s.
Do we have any chance of getting back to a society built around Juedo-Christian values?  Maybe, but not by a direct frontal assault.  When I was in grad school, another grad student (and a graying member of the New Left) pointed out that part of how socialism went from a radical, dangerous idea in 1870 to control of the British government after World War II was not by sudden change, but by the use of a trimtab. 
What is a trimtab?  It’s a part of the rudder on a very large ship.  If you try to move the rudder on an ocean liner that is already under way, the amount of force required to interrupt the flow of water is enormous.  Instead, a trimtab is a small part of the rudder that, when moved, causes that flow of water past the rudder to form eddies, breaking up the even flow.  This reduces the force required to move the rudder as a whole.
If you are over 50, you have noticed that American society has undergone a dramatic change since 1965.  It did not change over night, but by a series of cumulative changes, each of which built upon a previous change.  Same-sex marriage in 1960 would have been inconceivable.  (Homosexual sex, even in private, was still a criminal offense in every state.)  Publicly advertised live sex shows would have been inconceivable.  Ditto for abortion on demand, antidiscrimination laws for homosexuals, and the government giving out condoms and lube to 12 year olds.
It is not just about sex.  Gun control laws were adopted one slice at a time, until in some states, gun control advocates had ¼ or 1/3 of the loaf—and we are now whittling that back—but again, we getting those rights back, not in giant revolutionary steps, but evolutionarily, in one slice at a time.  Decriminalization of marijuana possession (which used to be a felony) was also done through the trimtab principle: one slice at a time, through leftist control of the entertainment media, and steady chiseling away at the old consensus.
My guess is that President Romney is going to appoint a few social conservative judges to the federal courts—which is to say, he will appoint some.  There is no danger that Obama will appoint any.  Romney won’t appoint as many social conservative judges as President Santorum, no question—but President Santorum does not seem like a realistic possibility in a country where most people operate on the “if it feels good, do it” principle.  I know what sort of country I live in, and it is not one where social conservatives have enough votes to elect someone like Santorum.  This is especially true when running against Obama, who remains popular, presumably because of the great job he has done on ending the recession and putting everyone back to work.  (Yes, that’s sarcasm, for those readers who honestly think that he has been successful at this.  I see liberals actually making that argument.)
Think of Romney as a trimtab on the way towards a more conservative America.  Romney might destabilize the leftist flow around the national rudder enough that we can start to turn direction—and our next president could be a bit more conservative.  The one thing that I am sure of is that while Romney won’t be any social conservative’s dream President of the United States, this country can’t afford four more years of Obama, and that’s the realistic choice.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Isn't This The Lunch Most Hunters Pack?

I am reading Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals  (2006), and it is most thought provoking and often quite entertaining.  At one point, this suburban Jewish boy decides to become a hunter so that he truly understand the sensation of killing his own meat (after a quite interesting refutation of animal rights theory by an otherwise pretty left sort).  He has been led into hunting by a couple of people he knows from the San Francisco Bay Area, both of them immigrants to America from traditional European cultures.  He explains that his first attempt at wild pig hunting, in north Sonoma County, was not successful, because of too good a lunch: 
Being Europeans, as well as accomplished cooks, Angelo and Jean-Pierre take lunch very seriously, even when out in the woods some distance from civilization. "So I brought with me a few little things to nibble on," Jean-Pierre mumbled. "Me, too," chimed Angelo. And out of their packs came course after course of the most astonishing picnic, which they proceeded to layout on the hood of Angelo's SUV: a terrine of lobster and halibut en gelee, artisanal salami and prosciutto and mortadella, Angelo's homemade pate of boar and home-cured olives, cornichons, chicken salad, a generous selection of cheeses and breads, fresh strawberries and pastries, silverware and napkins, and, naturally, a bottle each of red and white wine.