Thursday, February 28, 2013

H219: Idaho House Committee

I was listening to Kevin Miller's program on 580 KIDO this morning.  He had a couple members of the lower house on the program.  Rep. Hartgen is one of the sponsors of H219, a bill that criminalizes enforcement of any new federal gun control law, and prohibits state or local law enforcement from such enforcement.  There is a hearing tomorrow morning (9:00 AM, I gather) in the House State Affairs Committee; I gather that he wants us to fill the meeting room to show support for the bill.

I called into the program on my way to work and explained that this isn't crazy, nor is it nullification.  The U.S. Supreme Court in Printz v. U.S. (1997) held that the Tenth Amendment means that state and local officials are not obligated to enforce federal law:
We adhere to that principle today, and conclude categorically, as we concluded categorically in New York: "The Federal Government may not compel the States to enact or administer a federal regulatory program." Id., at 188. The mandatory obligation imposed on CLEOs to perform background checks on prospective handgun purchasers plainly runs afoul of that rule.

Letter to Senators Risch & Crapo of Idaho

If you live in another state, you might want to adapt this material for use on your U.S. Senators.

Dear Senator Crapo:

Once again, Democrats are intent on gun control, because the alternative is to look at the root cause of these random acts of mass murder: the deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill, starting in the 1960s and 1970s.

Senator Feinstein's assault weapons and high capacity magazine ban is doomed to failure, for the same reason that the 1994 federal ban failed: the banned weapons are functionally equivalent to many protected weapons, and the size of the magazine doesn't much matter when the killer is shooting at unarmed victims.  This bill is a waste of time.

The national background check requirement is not as obviously wrong, but it still suffers from a fundamental set of problems.  One is that many states (including Idaho) are not turning over involuntary mental health commitment records to the national background check system.  We have read that 14 states have filed less than five such records in the entire twenty years that the national background check system has existed.

Secondly, because many people with serious mental illness problems are never involuntarily committed, even if states were filing these records, the effect would be seriously compromised.  The core problem involves mentally ill people in need of treatment.

Thirdly, during Senate Judiciary Committee hearings yesterday, both a police chief and U.S. Attorney arguing for the national background check requirement admitted that they put NO effort into prosecuting people who lie on gun purchase applications.  Why should we expect any more effort to be made on private party transfers done without a background check?  What's the point of such a law?

If necessary for political purposes, allow the current background check system to be available to private parties.  We suspect that the vast majority of law-abiding citizens would be happy to take advantage of it -- and the ones who would not be willing to do so, are likely as not going to break the new law anyway -- and they won't be prosecuted.

Remember what the Brady Law and the 1994 federal assault weapons ban did for the Democrats: it caused them to lose control of both houses of Congress.  Republicans who vote for these measures can expect to be retiring next year.

Very Truly Yours,

Clayton & Rhonda Cramer

Your U.S. Senators Need Their Phones Melted...

and their email inboxes full.  NOW.  From February 28, 2013 Politco:

The Senate Judiciary Committee postponed a markup for new gun control legislation for one week, delaying action on a controversial proposal to ban assault weapons.
The postponement also allows more time for bipartisan negotiations between Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) to reach a deal to expand background checks for all gun purchases. Those talks have stalled over Coburn’s objections to permanent record keeping of gun purchases becoming a part of background checks.

Read more:
A national background check is not per se a problem; if it creates registration records, it is.  The bigger problem is that because many states are not sharing involuntary commitment records with the national background check system, this is going to be a lot of expense with little or nothing to show for it.  The gun control advocates have already admitted that they aren't bothering to prosecute people who lie on background checks; why would they bother to prosecute people who do transfers with background checks?

Who Can Afford A New Car?

There's a new study out that says the only place in America where the average household can afford to buy the average new car is...Washington, DC.

The typical new vehicle is now more expensive than ever, averaging $30,500 in 2012, according to data, and heading up again as makers curb the incentives that helped make their products more affordable during the recession when they were desperate for sales.
According to the 2013 Car Affordability Study by, only in Washington could the typical household swing the payments, the median income there running $86,680 a year. At the other extreme, Tampa, Fla., was at the bottom of the 25 large cities included in the study, with a median household income of $43,832.
The study looked at a variety of household expenses, such as food and housing, and when it comes to purchasing a new vehicle, it considered more than just the basic purchase price, down payment and monthly note, factoring in such essentials as taxes and insurance.
Of course, there are people outside of the great suction pump of wealth who can afford new cars: people with very good jobs, or buying the cheapest new cars, but unsurprisingly, the generation that elected Obama, then re-elected him, are generally the ones injured by the policies that continue to suck all the wealth of this nation up, and drop it on a favored few in the nation's capital.

I wish that I had some confidence that the under 30s would figure out that they injured themselves by how they voted, but it doesn't seem like they are going to figure it out.

UPDATE: I should explain that my concern isn't entirely abstract.  A relative has his first job out of college, working as a production assistant at a TV station.  The pay and the hours are so miserable that he is borrowing a car for the moment, but at some point, he is going to have to buy one, and even the cheapest new cars are too expensive for someone who graduated cum laude, and he has to look at cars with more than 100,000 miles to even get into the right price range.

I am also upset that there was a time when a car like this would set me to drooling because it used to be something that I could seriously consider buying.  No more.  There's no point in considering trading in the Corvette and the Jaguar to buy something like this.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

How GM Will Meet The Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards For 2045

It is a 6.09 cubic inch V8, available in both standard and supercharged versions.

Horseshoe Bend School District Supplemental Levy

I mentioned a week or so ago that there was apparently a supplemental levy (a special tax increase) vote coming up in the Horseshoe Bend Unified School District.  I also mentioned that it almost seemed like a secret election because of the lack of discussion of it.

Yesterday I received a flyer in the mail from the Friends of Horseshoe Bend Schools that gave me quite a bit more information upon which to make a decision as to how I would vote. It is a reminder of the famous saying by Mark Twain that it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than open your mouth and remove all doubt.

Here's the first page of the flyer:

One of the problems is that Idaho has reduced its direct funding to local school districts. Our district is not the only one having this problem, and other districts are also requesting supplemental levees. 

Another one of the problems is a drop in student enrollment: "from 305 students in 2008 to 276 students in 2013."  I am also led to believe, by things I have been told by people who are associated with the district, that there has been a decline in Average Daily Attendance, but I'm not sure if this is based on the decline in enrollment, or a decline in the percentage of students who are actually present on any given day.  The district went to a four-day schedule since 2008; I find myself wondering if, even at the same enrolled student count, there may have been a reduction in ADA because of the shortened week. Consider what happens if a student misses one day out of five because of illness, compared to missing one day out of four because of illness. All other things being equal, a shortened number of days means a lower ADA. Perhaps state law compensates for this, but I do not know enough to be sure.

Another part of the problem of funding is because of reduced funds coming from timber sales. Something that is not widely recognized in the urban environmentalist circles is that rural districts have long been dependent on national forest timber sales to support schools as partial compensation for national forest lands not paying property taxes. The environmentalists have been getting their way on protecting spotted owls by reducing harvest on national forest lands, and I believe this is part of the problem (although probably not the entire problem, perhaps not even a big part of the problem).

However, the rest of the flyer wipes out my sympathy very quickly. The supplemental levy would cost $13.72 per month per $100,000 assessed property value.  For us, that would be more than a $400 increase in property taxes -- almost a 50% increase of our property taxes. This would hurt, even though much of that increase would bring about a reduction in federal income taxes owed. For many other property owners in this district, especially the ones with houses that are closer to the average in value, about $100,000, this might be the difference between continuing to own, or selling and moving, or even worse: foreclosure. This is an astonishing increase to request, and I cannot imagine that many property owners in this district are going to be willing to almost double their property taxes without a spectacularly compelling argument.  This flyer makes a spectacularly compelling argument, but in the opposite direction.

One of the explanations for where the money would be spent from the supplemental levy is "Fully Fund the District Athletics."  On the reverse side of the flyer is the list of actions that the district will have to take if the levy does not pass:

Note that again we are being told "No district-funded athletics."  We are not talking about eliminating physical education; we're talking about sending the football team and other sports teams on bus rides to other school districts, which in this part of Idaho is always a long drive. If a school district has plenty of money, I don't really have a big objection to an athletic program, but it is a luxury, and in some respects, a somewhat deceptive luxury. 

I had a student several years ago who by his own admission never really learned how to write because he could pitch a 98 mph fastball, and as a result he was allowed to graduate near the top of his high school class, in spite of never really learning the basic skills that a high school student needs.  He was a bit upset about all of this; to his credit, he blamed himself for taking the easy way out rather than blaming the school. This was actually a pretty mature response on his part; he was manning up instead of directing blame outward.  Nonetheless, when schools encourage teenagers and parents to think that athletics are a way out, a method of getting a college scholarship instead of developing the fundamental skills of composition, math, and science, they are doing not only those students, but the entire society, a disservice. I would be curious to see how much of the $60,000 deficit the district has can be eliminated by making the athletic programs entirely privately funded.

The flyer is quite proud that the schools have a 100% graduation rate for the past two years, and that 100% of the graduates were accepted into some sort of "higher education program" (which could mean quite a number of things actually). They are also proud that a current student is a National Merit Scholar. For a district with this number of graduating seniors that is actually pretty decent.  

I am not having much luck finding a detailed budget for the school, which would enable me to look a little bit more carefully at where the money is going.  The pitiful sums that are being paid to the classified staff just make me want to cry; the certified and administrative staff contracts are not quite so tragically low, but they do not seem particularly outrageous either. The only really impressive salary is the Special Ed teacher, and she's only making 53,000 a year and change.  (In rural Idaho, that is actually a decent, although not spectacular salary.)  Even the administrators are often one-half or one-third time, as is appropriate for such a small district. (There are other districts in the state that are also quite small, but which what I have read, have full-time administrative staffs.)  

I find that I have many unanswered questions as a result of trying to figure out what their problem is, and how to solve it.  I do know that the supplemental levy is simply breathtaking, and I find myself wondering if the seal of the Friends of Horseshoe Bend Schools on the second page of the flyer may be describing the real state of things: an enormous building that is about to drag all those people off the edge of the cliff.

I see that of the five trustee positions (school board for those of you outside of Idaho), position three is currently vacant.  There are rumors that most of the remaining positions will be vacant for the May 21 school trustee elections, and I have been encouraged by some people to run for the position of my district. I am beginning to think that the only way to get the level of information that I need might be to do this.

Testimony Before Senate Committee Concerning Assault Weapons Ban

From my friend David Hardy -- you will hear him discuss the mental illness part of the problem about three minutes in, and mention my work in this area:

And the testimony of another friend, Professor Nicholas Johnson, explaining why the guns protected by the assault weapon ban are even more deadly at close range than the banned weapons:

Amazing How Young The Human Brain Develops

From February 26, 2013 Medical Xpress:
A team of French researchers has discovered that the human brain is capable of distinguishing between different types of syllables as early as three months prior to full term birth. As they describe in their paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team found via brain scans that babies born up to three months premature are capable of some language processing.
Read more at:
Can they understand the syllables that form the phrase "partial-birth abortion"?

How Did That Happen?

Donna Brazile is "a veteran Democratic political strategist, adjunct professor, author, and syndicated columnist."  As you might expect, she was a big promoter of Obamacare.  Her Tweet today:
Just got off the phone with my health care provider asking them to explain why my premium jumped up. No good answer!
There is an answer...but it isn't a "good" answer because it isn't the one that she wants to hear: Obamacare, by mandating coverage (of children up to 26, of contraceptives, of pre-existing conditions) increased costs.  What a shocker!  We warned you!

There were actions that could have been taken to reduce health care costs, but the Democrats weren't interested, because those would have involved:

1. More competition: allow small businesses and individuals to form interstate pools for insurance.

2. Tax credits to make it easier for middle income and some low income workers to buy their own health insurance, funded by treating group health insurance benefits above that level as income.

3. Allow all medical expenses to be treated as deductions from income -- not just the expenses exceeding 7.5% AGI.  Allow anyone to pay the medical bills of others, and get that same deduction.  You want to see gobs of charity?  Let a rich person do good for others while reducing his own tax bill.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Anthony Who Responded To My "Check My Math" Posting

Please email me at my first name at  I would like to see the method that you used to compute the truss deflections.  It would appear that I might be be able to use somewhat small carbon fiber tubes and still accomplish my goals.

A True Serrurier Truss?

What I have been considering building is a half-Serrurier truss, in the style that has become popular because of Kriege and Berry's work that led to the Obsession telesocpe.  This article here, as well as the Wikipedia article on the Serrurier truss, point out that a true Serrurier truss has many advantages over the half-Serrurier truss.

One of the advantages is balance point for the telescope is simplified; you can put the place where the telescope attaches to the mount in a more central location (which is not so important for my equatorial mount).  Another advantage is the two halves of a true Serrurier truss work together, allowing much better stiffness for the size of the tubes relative to a half-Serrurier truss.  A third advantage is that the length of the tubes is substantially shorter, which both simplifies getting this into a automobile, if that becomes necessary, and simplifies finding off-the-shelf carbon fiber tubes.  The downside is that it increases the number of connectors and adds another piece of tube at the pivot point of the telescope -- and this will, I am afraid, increase weight.

Or will it?  I don't need as long as a base to reach from the mirror section to the mount saddle -- I can construct a hexagonal center ring out of a piece of aluminum (or maybe even carbon fiber plate) that is 2" wide and mount that to the equatorial mount saddle plate.  The carbon fiber tubes can be much smaller to achieve the required stiffness.  The big advantage of this approach is that the tubes can still sag, but because the two ends are sagging the same amount, the optical path of the primary and secondary mirrors remains in parallel.

UPDATE: Perhaps I am making this too complicated.  I had dismissed a solid carbon fiber composite tube because it would cost me $3200.  (That's a bit rich for this.)  But I did not even consider the possibility of making a carbon fiber hexagon or octagonal tube form carbon fiber plate.  Perhaps I should have.  Simpler, less portable, but it would only weigh several pounds, and would drop the total weight of the telescope down to about 45 pounds.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Idaho Laws Moving Forward

Two bills introduced in the Idaho legislature: one prohibits Idaho police officers from enforcing any new federal firearms laws; the other makes it a criminal matter for any law enforcement officer (including federal law enforcement) to do so.  From KIVI.  Interestingly enough:
The Fraternal Order of Police says they endorse the legislation, saying it will clear up any confusion over what local police can do. They say they support Idaho's current gun rights.
The other useful bill moving forward passed out of the House State Affairs committee.  It creates an "enhanced" concealed weapons license, one that requires eight hours of instruction.  The claim is that it will expand the number of states that recognize Idaho carry permits.  From February 18, 2013 KTVB:
 A separate bill would create a new category of concealed weapons permit that requires more training, including live-fire instruction. Not only would it allow Idaho concealed weapons permits to be recognized in more states, such an "enhanced permit" could persuade more school boards to allow people to carry concealed weapons on their campuses, which [Rep. Judy Boyle] said her hometown school board already has.
This would be a big win for those of us who already have completed such training -- a lot more states would recognize our Idaho permits, reducing the number of out of state permits that I carry. 

As The Photographs From The Day of Resistance Rally Demonstrate...

The little black cocktail party dress has been replaced with the little black rifle.

Monkey Business (1952) and Sabrina (1954)

Not the Marx Brothers movie, but a Howard Hawks comedy starring Cary Grant, Ginger Rogers, and Marilyn Monroe (in one of her first roles, I think).  My wife and I watched it last night, and while not a "laugh until your sides ache" film, it was still quite a bit of fun.  UPDATE: not one of Monroe's first roles.  It wasn't a very demanding part, but she did it well.

One aspect that was especially gratifying is that the plot revolves around a scientist's efforts to create a "youth serum" that will restore people to a younger state of health.  Because this was made in 1952, there are some hints that it produces some libidinous effects on the married couple (played by Grant and Rogers) who end up with it, but done with enough subtlety that I suspect that many children and some teenagers watched the film when it came out and completely missed this part.  Of course, to be subtle with such subject matter requires a skilled screenwriter.  You can see why this is not done today.

We also enjoyed Sabrina (1954) the other evening, with Audrey Hepburn, William Holden, and Humphrey Bogart.  This is something of a Cinderella story, with some very entertaining twists to it.

Checking My Math

It has been almost a year since I made plans to rebuild the big telescope into a half-Suerrier truss using carbon fiber composite tubes.  In the meantime, several unexpected expenses came up, including expanding ScopeRoller's working space, a snow plow so that UPS can deliver materials to ScopeRoller, etc. In addition to the costs, I was also seriously busy teaching classes and trying to save the American Republic, so even had I felt like buying the materials, I would not have had the time.

The time is now coming available, because I am only teaching one class this semester.  Because carbon fiber composite tubing is pretty darn expensive, I want to make sure that I have the math right.  If I order too small a set of tubes, the truss isn't going to be stiff enough; if the tubes are thicker than they need to be, it will be slightly heavier and much more expensive than it needs to be.

I have checked my math several times, but I still do not believe the results that I have getting.  Or perhaps carbon fiber composite really is magic!

To calculate deflection caused by a load on a hollow tube, I use the cantilever beam, end load formula:

∆ = PL^3/3EI

where P = force, L = length, E = Young's modulus, and I =area moment of inertia

In this case, the force of the upper cage assembly is 10 pounds, or 4.54 kg.  The length of each side of the truss is 62 inches, or 1.575 meters.  The area moment of inertia for hollowing tubing is calculated by:

Ix = π (do4 - di4) / 64         (5)
do = cylinder outside diameter
di = cylinder inside diameter

For a piece of tubing that 0.25" ID (.00635 meters) and .378" OD (.01 meters), that gives an area moment of inertia of .256.

There seems to be considerable difference of opinion about the Young's modulus of carbon fiber composite, but I am using 138 gigapascals, because a number of vendors make this claim.

Plugging this in says that a piece of carbon fiber composite tube that is incredibly small will have 0.00000 meters of deflection with a 4.54 kg weight at the end.  For anyone who experience with long pieces of small carbon fiber composite tubing -- does this seem even slightly plausible?  It seems outside the realm of my experience.

UPDATE: I my formula in the spreadsheet for area moment of inertia wrong, and yes, newtons, not kg.  This means that the deflection from a single tube is enormous. The truss calculations I did a while back indicate that I don't need anything this stiff (cumulative benefits of how this stuff works).  Does it seem plausible that a truss consisting of six tubes (three triangles) each of 0.553" ID, .0625" OD could be stiff enough to hold ten pounds of weight with deflection measured in thousandths of an inch?

The temptation is strong to build a very small scale model of this, perhaps using carbon fiber tubing, and see how well the math from TDT4WIN mentioned here actually models reality.

Another "Joker" Mentally Ill Killer?

From February 25, 2013 France24:

AFP - A nursery killer who carried out murders disguised as Batman villain 'The Joker' told a court on Monday he was left "no choice" but to stab to death two toddlers and their minder at a Belgian creche -- despite saying he knew murder was wrong.
"I was aware that you should not (kill) but I did not see any other choice," Kim De Gelder told the court in Ghent, which is considering whether the 24-year-old can be held responsible for his knife rampage.
"I was pushed towards this choice, perhaps from outside. It came directly," De Gelder said in reply to lengthy questioning by the presiding judge.
De Gelder is charged with killing the two infants and their 54-year-old carer in an attack on the Fable Land nursery in the town of Dendermonde in January 2009, as well as the attempted murder of 22 others at the creche -- including 16 babies and toddlers.
His defense attorney says that he is paranoid schizophrenic -- and unlike some crimes where a person might claim insanity to avoid responsibility for his actions, this sure sounds plausible.  Why else would you kill babies?

Horseshoe Bend School District Bond Levy Election March 12

It is beginning to look like it might be a secret election.  I am hearing about it from people that work for the district, and are concerned about the scale of the tax increase that may result.  This school board meeting minutes indicates that it will be a supplemental levy of $300,000 for two years.  I can't tell how much of a property tax increase this is, or exactly what it is for.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Why Islam May Be The Dominant Religion in America in 50 Years

I found this in the lunchroom at work.

What would John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church, say about this?

When Christian churches drift off into New Age ideas, they are no longer Christianity.

How To Fan Paranoia

Conduct military training exercises in big cities with helicopters and gunfire (blanks, apparently, but machine guns are still pretty scary) without bothering to tell the neighbors or even the fire department -- like in Houston.

Or Miami:

Robert Small at American Thinker points to the rather astonishing number of these exercises happening in urban areas in recent months.   The argument is that these exercises are required for the military to maintain ability to fight in urban environments overseas -- but I thought Obama was getting us out of those overseas battles, and how many urban environments does Afghanistan have?

The combination of the vast quantities of ammo that Homeland Security is buying (supposedly, to get a better price) and these sort of urban exercises are making some of my friends who aren't particularly paranoid just a big concerned.  It makes statements like Small's in that American Thinker article not completely ridiculous:
After reading Malcolm's article on air last Friday, radio host Mark Levin dismissed internet chatter about the DHS preparing for domestic insurrection.  He thinks it more likely that the government's preparing for a catastrophe of their own making: "the collapse of our financial system, the collapse of our society, and the potential for widespread violence" in the streets that accompanies such crises. 

That would certainly explain the Black Hawks as well.  It's clear from his inaugural and SOTU addresses that Obama intends to double down on government spending, taxes, regulations, executive orders, collectivism, and unchecked immigration with no budget proposals or plan for reducing our national debt in sight.  He's determined to accelerate America forward Thelma and Louise-like into the canyon of fundamental transformation, and both local law enforcement and the military will need to be ready at the scene when it all comes crashing down.

A domestic crisis would also justify the billions of dollars in military surplus the DOD has been gifting to local governments through its Law Enforcement Support Office (LESO).  Chicago Channel 7's I-Team has been investigating "weapons of war" that are "ending up in Chicago and the suburbs."  Law enforcement is being so broadly defined that M-16 rifles and a humvee went to a Catholic university, and an "arsenal of combat rifles" went to Brookfield zoo.  What sense does it make to arm a zoo unless someone envisions a scenario where desperate, starving urbanites are forced to turn it into a hunting ground after grocery shelves run empty?
Read more:
UPDATE: Here's a January 30, 2013 Houston Chronicle article about Special Forces training at Galveston County's courthouse.

UPDATE 2: A reader suggests that our government is preparing for Iranian terror attacks in the U.S. in the event of intervention against Iran.  This is a plausible explanation, especially because some of these are joint exercises with local police, but why not say so?  "We are conducting military readiness drills for urban combat against foreign terrorist groups in the unlikely event that such take place."

Movie Tax Subsidies

Glenn Reynolds has a piece in the February 23, 2013 Wall Street Journal about the various tax subsidies that governments provide to the movie industry -- and how unsuccessful they turn out to be at their supposed function:
About $1.5 billion in tax credits and exemptions, grants, waived fees and other financial inducements went to the film industry in 2010, according to data analyzed by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Politicians like to offer this largess because they get photo-ops with celebrities, but the economic payoff is minuscule. George Mason University's Adam Thierer has called this "a growing cronyism fiasco" and noted that the number of states involved skyrocketed to 45 in 2009 from five in 2002.

In its 2012 study "State Film Studies: Not Much Bang For Too Many Bucks," the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that film-related jobs tend to go to out-of-staters who jet in, then leave. "The revenue generated by economic activity induced by film subsidies," the study notes, "falls far short of the subsidies' direct costs to the state. To balance its budget, the state must therefore cut spending or raise revenues elsewhere, dampening the subsidies' positive economic impact."...

The $1.5 billion in subsidies that states provide, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, "would have paid for the salaries of 23,500 middle school teachers, 26,600 firefighters, and 22,800 police patrol officers."
I would make one more point: like the same "incentives" that many state and local governments offer to large firms to move in and "create jobs," these are often tax advantages that a big firm will get, because they are big, but a small firm, especially one that is already doing business and employing people in a particular location, will generally not get.  A small firm does not have the political pull that a large firm does.  A $100 million dollar incentive to a firm might employ 10,000 people, but likely at the expense of raising taxes on a hundred small firms that might employ 100 people each.  Why should the big dog get the benefit, just because it is big?

Day of Resistance: Idaho

I'm not a great judge of crowd size, but this event was inside the rotunda of the Idaho State Capitol; my estimate (based on counting those standing in my sector, then multiplying by sixteen sectors per floor, and three floors) is about 1000 people.

Here the crowd was just beginning to come into the building about 11:40 or so.

There were, of course, people in costume, probably less effective in swaying public opinion than they think:

"Ben Franklin" was holding a sign with a quote that I have often seen attributed to Franklin, but that is so modern that I am quite sure he never said it.

Some of those dressed in Colonial officer's uniforms had interesting arms on-board, which at least were making a point about what the Founders would have owned, had they access to modern weapons:

There were, of course, many signs, some that are so old that they are now cliched, and some that were often pretty clever.  One kid was carrying this sign:

Another, while not particularly deep, certainly is true and not cliched:

When we arrived, there was a drum circle playing in the rotunda.  Drum circle?  What?  When did the gun rights movement go all New Age?  I was told that these were Snake River Alliance, one of the local far left groups here in Idaho.  I wondered at first if they were going to try and drown us out with their drumming (which was really, really excellent, by the way), but they stopped when our event started, so I suspect that they were simply trying to drive the bad karma of crazed gun nuts out of the building or something.  Maybe they thought it would retune our chakras to make us give up the gun.  Who knows.

There were some people on our side wearing some clothing that made valid, if not spectacularly deep points.  Sometimes important ideas aren't that complicated -- and if they are, it means a lawyer is billing by the hour to justify that complexity:

One nice aspect of this is the number of families that were present -- mothers, fathers, kids.  

This mother isn't going to let anyone endanger her children or her constitutional freedoms:

Even more pleasing was the number of really quite attractive young ladies that were present.  I'm happily married, but I had a friend many years who was arrested at an antiwar demonstration not because he opposed the Vietnam War, but because that was where all the really hot chicks were.  It's a silly way to enlarge our numbers, but it works, and the media can't tell who is there for the cause, and who is there for the hot chicks!

Some were dressed and armed for immediate revolutionary activity:

Others looked like they might be ready to strike the first blow for the revolution with the fashion police:

What?  Not camo heels?

Not what you expected to show up at a pro-gun rally?  Leave your prejudices behind!

As is usually the case with right-wing events here in Idaho, it was more racially diverse than our institutions of higher education, with black, Hispanic, and Asians present.  One mildly surprising combination was this family: two black kids, obviously adopted by a white couple:

I am generally not keen on open carry, but at an event like this, it wasn't terribly shocking or startling -- even the Snake River Alliance did not seem particularly freaked by a collection of "assault weapons" that should, if some are to be believed, have led to at least 20,000 deaths before the event was over:

"I Miss Chicago"

A friend sent this to me:

 I was in LA recently and saw a bumper sticker on a parked car that read, "I miss Chicago."

So I broke a window, stole the radio, shot out two tires, opened the trunk and put in a dead body. Then I left a note that read: "I hope this helps!"

Friday, February 22, 2013

A Reader Pointed Out This Craigslist Ad To Me...

From: [?]
Posted: 2013-02-21, 10:21PM MST


idaho "doctors" have been forcing monthly injections for hallucination or voices that i dont hear or see for the last 3 years i have been telling them this and they put me on a second medication the entire time the medication has been causing blurred vision. the doctor's name is [name deleted] of region 4 department of health and welfare.

i want to trade my 99 20th century edition sunburst american strat for a pistol of your choice i'm going to kill myself with it though
I would very much hope that no one would respond to an ad like this (which was pretty quickly flagged and removed) but it is a worrisome reminder that there are mentally ill people out there who are likely to be dangerous with a gun -- and who might be prevented from getting one if there were a national background check requirement on gun sales.  But then again, they might just use a knife. 

I have forwarded the full ad to my contacts at Idaho Dept. of Health & Welfare to make sure that the doctor mentioned in the ad was aware that there might be a dangerous lunatic obsessed with her, and to see if there is anything that can be done before this person follows through with the suicide.

Upcoming Interviews

I signed up for another month of the PR firm's services -- and they keep knocking down the cost to make it affordable.  I have a suspicion that they may believe in what I am doing -- that this may be more than a money-making action for them.

Of course, even at the reduced price, it doesn't pay for itself in book sales -- but it might pay for itself if I consider the larger picture of a better society, and one that doesn't waste its time going down the hopeless road of gun control, when the real problem is a bit deeper.

3/6: 3:10 PM (15 min.), KCAA 1050 AM, San Bernadino, California

2/25: 9:20 AM ET (20 min.), WWPR 1490 AM, Tampa Bay, Florida

2/20: 10:00 AM PT (15 min.), Cody Talks, national

         3:30 PM CT (15 min.), Charles Butler Show, Chicago (not sure what station)

2/19: 6:34 AM ET, WVHU 800 AM, Huntington, West Virginia

         9:00 AM (45 min.), "Rewiring Your Brain", national

What A Shocker: Maserati/Range Rover Running Gun Battle in Las Vegas...

involved a rapper.  From the February 22, 2013 Los Angeles Times:
One of the victims in a spectacular predawn shooting and crash on the Las Vegas Strip has been identified as Kenneth Cherry Jr., an aspiring rapper known as Kenny Clutch.
His attorney, Vicki Greco, said his death was shocking.
"Out of everyone I know in the rapping industry, there is no way I would have ever, ever expected to find that he was shot on the Las Vegas Strip in such an aggressive manner," Greco said.
Yes, because rappers are known for their peaceful style and love-filled lyrics.  Oh yeah, Mr. Sweetness has a history:
The newspaper reported that Cherry had several arrests in Oakland and Berkeley, many for gun charges. He was convicted on a gun charge in 2007, stemming from an arrest in Berkeley, sources told the Tribune, although details on that conviction weren't immediately available. 
As one of the comments pointed out, how does someone only qualify as an "aspiring rapper" when he's driving a Maserati?  What do you drive once you are successful as a rapper?  A clapped out Toyota?

UPDATE: February 21, 2013 CBS Bay Area describes him as "a well-known pimp." That explains the Maserati. His death gets less and less shocking by the minute, and less and less tragic.  The tragic part is the two people in a cab that he hit, who burned to death, after the guys in the Range Rover plugged Kenny Cherry.

Opel GT

I have a co-worker who specializes in driving and restoring 1960s British cars -- like a 1964 1/2 Ford Cortina, and MG roadsters.  I was mentioning that if the forces of fascism ever stopped long enough for me to have a hobby again, and I had more money than I knew what to do with -- I might be tempted to buy an Opel GT and spend the money restoring it.

This is an Opel GT:

It was a very cool looking car, sort of a 5/8ths scale model Corvette, because one of the designers for the 1968 Corvette then went to work for GM's German division, Opel.  There are a few of them for sale on eBay at the moment, some in terrible shape, some that look like an unhealthy fascination has been in play by the owner!  (They looked fast, but they really were not -- at best, they had a 1.9L four cylinder, and these are days when that meant carburetors, not fuel injection.)

Anyway, in the midst of this discussion, my co-worker mentioned that some years back he had seen one for sale that was pretty much in fine shape -- except for the Freddie Krueger painting on the hood.  I confess, there is something worse to do to an Opel GT:

Recommendations on Which Of These Has The Least Hassle Carry Permit Process

Nevada has substantially reduced its concealed carry permit reciprocity list the last few years.  Only the following states' licenses are now recognized by Nevada:

New Mexico
North Carolina
Rhode Island
South Carolina*
West Virginia

I am headed to Nevada in April to visit some friends.  Theoretically, I could get a Nevada non-resident license, but Winnemucca is the closest sheriff's office, and that's a five hour drive each way.  Which of the states above are the easiest to get to issue a non-resident license?  Even cost of the license really isn't an issue -- it is the amount of time that I have to spend.

The Increasing Division Between Leaders and People

The February 20, 2013 Forbes has a very thoughtful essay by Angelo Codevilla titled, "As Country Club Republicans Link Up With The Democratic Ruling Class, Millions Of Voters Are Orphaned".  I highly recommend that you read it.  His point is that the Republican Party is increasingly divided between much of the leadership, who are trying to become part of the ruling elite class (which is primarily Democrats), and what he calls the "country party": the largely conservative mass of the population (including many people who identify themselves as Democrats) and perhaps 2/3 of Republicans in Congress.

Many of us no longer have any significant representation in the political system because so much of the Republican Party is either trying to be part of the mandarin class who imagine themselves well-educated, when they merely attended elite schools, or have been to some extent co-opted by the elite system of wealth, patronage, and government promotion of corrupt, semi-fascist capitalism.  (And yes, at times, Rep. Labrador shows signs of being co-opted by these same forces -- the ones that keep insisting that there is a severe shortage of high-tech workers, and therefore we need a lot more foreign workers here on H1B or permanent resident status.)

I understand the reasoning of those who argue that a third party needs to form: a party committed to a smaller, less intrusive national government, one that balances its books by cutting spending, and returning more authority to the states.  But starting third parties that actually take power is really hard; the last success in the U.S. was before the Civil War.  Is there a way to perhaps drive the the country club Republicans out of the party?

Colorado Legislators Considering Repeal of Adultery Laws

From February 22, 2013 Fox News:
The crime of adultery is still in Colorado's law books, but some Democratic lawmakers say it's an outdated 19th-century holdover that no longer has a purpose.
Read more:
The article goes on to say that about half the states still have laws criminalizing adultery.  I suppose in a society where every form of sexual behavior is not only legal, but actually held up as a fine and wonderful model for kids, why not?  And for most legislators, I'm sure, it sure makes them feel better about what they are doing behind closed doors.

Another Consequence of Obamacare

From February 22, 2013 Marketwatch:
By denying coverage to spouses, employers not only save the annual premiums, but also the new fees that went into effect as part of the Affordable Care Act. This year, companies have to pay $1 or $2 “per life” covered on their plans, a sum that jumps to $65 in 2014. And health law guidelines proposed recently mandate coverage of employees’ dependent children (up to age 26), but husbands and wives are optional. “The question about whether it’s obligatory to cover the family of the employee is being thought through more than ever before,” says Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health....
Firms that recently decided to drop spouses from their plans range from private insurance agencies to school systems and universities like Ball State, as well as large companies like pump and valve manufacturer Flowserve. Wisconsin-based furniture company KI carved out spouses this year when couples flocked to its plan for the first time during open enrollment. “Now, each employer is responsible for its own employee,” says Timothy Van Severen, corporate risk manager for KI, which insures about 1,700 employees in its health plan. “We were going to see a higher claim cost if we didn’t do that, because of the migration coming back to us.”
The article indicates that women are more likely to lose coverage than men, because, amazingly enough, there are still more men than women who work full-time.  Just another example of the Democrats screaming about a Republican "War on Women" to distract attention from the consequences of their own policies. But as long as partial-birth abortions and free contraception are the defining aspects of health care, women will continue to vote Democrat.

Ammunition Recall

Presented as a public service, and because my readers are more likely than the average to have such ammunition:

Olin Corporation, through its Winchester Division, is recalling one (1) lot of its 5.56mm M855 62 Grain PENE centerfire rifle ammunition.
Symbol Number: ZGQ3308
Lot Number: WCC10M106-004
Through extensive evaluation Winchester has determined the above lot of 5.56mm M855 ammunition may contain incorrect propellant. Incorrect propellant in this ammunition may cause firearm damage, rendering the firearm inoperable, and subject the shooter or bystanders to a risk of serious personal injury when fired.
DO NOT USE WINCHESTER® SYMBOL NUMBER ZGQ3308 LOT NUMBER WCC10M106-004 5.56mm M855 62 GRAIN PENE AMMUNITION. The ammunition Symbol Number and Lot Number are ink stamped on the outside of the 900-round shipping container, and on the outside of the 30-round carton as indicated here:

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Day of Resistance Rally: February 23

Okay, I missed the last one.  February 23 is going to be Day of Resistance, a nationwide campaign of citizens expressing their refusal to go along with attempts to disarm law-abiding adults.   Most state capitals seem to be organized already; for those of us in Idaho, the rally will be at the State Capitol from noon to 1:30 PM.

Remember: camouflage and ghillie suits are not the most effective way to make a positive impression.  Nor are they likely to be effective for their intended purpose in that location; although I suppose camouflage that looks like automobiles and statues might work!  Who knows, I might even wear a suit.  I am not going to be carrying a gun, at least openly, and I think it probably would not be the wisest PR campaign if everyone is wander around with black rifles. 

Next: Instructions On What To Do When It Starts Raining

From February 21, 2013 KPIX Channel 5, San Francisco Bay Area:

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) – Law enforcement agencies have begun adopting a new policy on so-called “active shooters,” encouraging civilians to take safety into their own hands and take down gunmen who threaten them at work or school.
This approach is gaining momentum in the wake of tragic incidents inNewtown, Connecticut and the Oikos University shooting in Oakland.
Which is more tragic?  That the police in liberal California are finally encouraging the idea of self-defense?  Or that there are people who need advice this glaringly obvious?

Of course, this could catch on -- and pretty soon (I mean, before the century ends), decent people in California might start asking, "Why do I need to be politically connected to get a concealed weapon permit here?"

PJMedia Articles

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

If Only There Were a Republican Party Still...

This article at Yahoo about McCain having to defend his support for amnesty for illegal aliens from angry constituents at town hall meetings is fascinating because there are currently more than 14,000 comments there -- and I have yet to find one that supports amnesty or any other part of the "reform" that is being proposed.  One comment captures it perfectly:
Why do we need more immigrants when we don't have enough jobs for citizens?
Why indeed?  Republican politicians want corporations that hire illegal aliens to have a supply of cheap labor, and Republican politicians like McCain are too stupid to figure out that Democratic politicians want tens of millions more reliable Democratic voters.

I no longer give money to Republican Party organizations because they are too stupid to breathe without directions.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Is This A Consequence of Cash For Clunkers?

My son is about to get his first job after graduating (cum laude, let me mention) and wow!  Chevrolet's base sedan used to have an MSRP just under (barely under) $10,000.  Not now.  And the situation with Nissan, Suzuki, and the other slightly better but more expensive cars has also gone up dramatically.  A few years ago you could buy a year or two old car, still under factory warranty, and save a couple thousand dollars.  Not any more!

You would almost think that the car makers aren't hurting.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Colorado and Washington State Residents Take Notice

In both of your states, quite draconian assault weapon laws are now working their way rapidly through the state legislatures.  This is what you get for electing Democrats and believing that they were not trying to take your guns.

In Washington State, the bill currently working its way up the Legislature allows for warrantless searches of people's homes for assault weapons.  Even gun control advocates like this Seattle Times columnist are freaked out about this.  Thanks to Shall Not Be Questioned for the link.

If you live in Colorado and have not already contacted your state senator or the governor, it is time. It is even past time. The lower House has passed a ban on magazines holding more than 15 rounds, banned private party sales without a background check, and banned concealed carry on college campuses by permit holders. Several manufacturers are now preparing to move out of Colorado, taking among the few reliable sources of employment in this collapsing economy with them.

New York City Going After The Root

I am not at all happy with the headline, or the tone of the article, but it appears from this February 18, 2013 New York Post article that the New York City police are using the existing involuntary outpatient commitment law (Kendra's Law) to hospitalize some dangerous and homeless mentally ill people:

The city is making a major push to sweep the streets of dangerous, mentally ill New Yorkers — and has even compiled a most-wanted list, The Post has learned.

The measure follows a pair of high-profile subway-shove fatalities from December allegedly involving mentally ill individuals.

The city has already drawn up a list of 25 targets, sources said.

“After the Queens subway attack [of immigrant Sunando Sen], the [city] decided to take a proactive approach to track down the most dangerous mental-health patients that currently have mental-hygiene warrants” out for them, a law-enforcement source said.

Those warrants mean that the patients are not wanted for a crime but instead are being sought because they are not getting their court-ordered treatment.  

In the past, persons who were subject to existing involuntary outpatient commitment who were a problem and could be easily located were picked up in hospitalized. This article indicates that those who could not easily be located, such as those who were now homeless, were not actively pursued. After these high-profile murders, NYPD is now actively looking for those that are not easy to find.

It makes you wonder what would happen if the rest of the country cared as much about this problem as NYPD now seems to care.

Insider Corruption: If These Were Republicans...

I do not agree with the claim at the beginning of this article about the Glass-Steagal Act:
When Bill Clinton signed the repeal of the Glass-Stegall Act, which made it possible for Wall Street to combine banking and investment businesses and create the casino that gambled away the prosperity and futures of millions of Americans, Citibank CEO Sandy Weill crowed to his Wall Street buddies, “We’ve just made the President of the United States an insider.”
but the rest of Mike Krauss' February 17, 2013 article that appeared in several obscure Philadelphia papers is a reminder how hopelessly corrupt our political system is, and that as long as the players in this particular piece of corruption are Democrats, the mainstream media will simply ignore it:
The president’s nominee to succeed Geithner at Treasury is another Wall Street errand boy, Jack Lew, who has moved back and forth between active duty on Wall Street and reserve duty in the government, keeping the Homeland (Wall Street) safe, moving up the Washington stairway to heaven.

Mr. Lew earned millions as the Chief Operating Officer of the failed division of Citicorp that led to the bank’s collapse. This failure may seem an odd credential, until you understand how the game is played. Investors may have lost big, but the players on Wall Street walked away with their winnings.

The failed Lew left Citicorp in 2010 for a turn at “government service” in the State Department, and in a filing reported he had a stake in a Citigroup investment vehicle in the Cayman Islands, which federal officials suggested was a tax scam: almost 19,000 corporations were registered at the address.

But it went unremarked upon at the time, I mean, who isn’t invested in off-shore tax dodges? You are, right?

The New York Times and Wall Street Journal report that another Forbes listed billionaire, Penny Pritzker, who also crashed a bank, is on the “short list” to be the next secretary of Commerce.

As Pam Martens reported in her blog Wall Street on Parade, Pritzker ran a bank that her family and others acquired in a “sweetheart deal” during the S&L debacle. According to the Government Accountability Office, they ran it into the ground — with securitized sub-prime loans.

“The high concentration of risky assets and the improper valuation of these assets ultimately led to (the bank’s) failure.”
 I really wish that there was a Republican Party that was not simultaneously corrupted and stupid to provide an alternative to the Democrats, but at least when Republicans are in power, the mainstream media wake up and start paying attention to corruption. 

I talk to people occasionally who are so enraged by this sort of crookedness that they look forward to a violent revolution to overthrow this completely crooked and incompetent system of government. That is likely to be worse than the current disaster, but I can understand their rage. What makes this especially offensive is that these are not people who are trying to get rich by these crooked arrangements: these are people that are already obscenely rich, and a few hundred million dollars in savings isn't enough to make them happy. They have to continue looking for new ways to make millions of dollars a year while injuring the American economy.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Polishing Aluminum

I mentioned recent fun with metal a couple of days ago; I was not entirely thrilled with the finish that the aluminum parts had. I had sanded starting with #80 sandpaper, then #220, #320, #400, #1500, finally #3000. While this began to give the aluminum something of a mirror finish, it was still not a genuine mirror finish. So I used a product called Mr. Metal Polish, and it certainly got me close to what I wanted.

It is certainly good enough for what I'm shipping the customer, but I found myself wondering how much work would be required to achieve a true mirror finish. So I went to Harbor Freight today and bought a buffer. The results were quite interesting.  I started with a piece of aluminum scrap that had not been sanded at all, I was surprised to see that the buffer, in conjunction with Mr. Metal Polish produced a pretty impressive reflective surface. On the other hand, a piece of scrap that it been sanded on the lathe to at least #400 did not improve at all.

My next step, based on previous experiments a year or two ago, was to pull out some Mother's Mag Polish and try that.  The unsanded scrap now achieved a really impressive mirror finish, once I had washed it and wiped it with a paper towel. The scrap that a been sanded on the lathe did not improve at all. I then sanded the scrap with #1500 sandpaper, and buffed it again with Mother's Mag Polish. Now it was a pretty respectable mirror finish, although no better than the unsanded scrap, and perhaps even a little worse; it was hard to tell.

My guess is that the unsanded aluminum, while it is a unattractive and dull finish, is actually pretty smooth, and buffing with the Mother's Mag Polish takes it to a very nice shine.  By comparison, even the scrap sanded with #1500 sandpaper is probably much rougher of a surface then the mill surface of aluminum.  This suggests that it is a waste of time to sand aluminum to make it shiny (which it does certainly do), and it makes more sense to invest less time into buffing the mill surface with Mother's Mag Polish.

Amazingly enough, the current container of Mother's Mag Polish appears to be one that I bought in the late 1970s when I first owned a car with mag wheels.  And yes, this says something about how much I care about beautifully polished mag wheels on my cars. Or perhaps it says something about how long a jar of Mother's Mag Polish lasts.

Interesting Use of Blogger

Someone we know makes absolutely beautiful stuff out of hardwoods. My wife volunteered to put together a website to help him sell his products. We ended up figuring out a way to do this using Blogger because it was cheap and easy.  This is anywhere near as nice as a regular e-commerce website, but it was astonishing what you could do by just fiddling with Blogger templates.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Clever Design For Toilet Seats

Just when you think that there is nothing new under the Sun, you get a surprise.  We have been in this house seven years now, and a couple of the toilet seats were beginning to show some wear.  We went to Home Depot to buy couple of replacements and I found a very interesting and clever improvement on a traditional design, made by Bemis here in the United States.

Traditionally, toilet seats are attached to the toilet bowl by two fairly long screws that go through the back of the toilet seat, through the porcelain, and then into a couple of nylon or plastic nuts. You would not want to unscrew these very often, because it is sort of annoying to do, but it also means that there are areas near the toilet seat hinges that are hard to really get clean.

Instead, the screws go into a couple of quick release assemblies that can be moved from the top. Here is one of those quick releases in the locked position:

To remove the entire toilet seat, you just rotate the two quick releases to this position:

That you can lift the entire toilet seat off and do a very thorough cleaning across the entire top of the bowl.

Fun With Metal

You have probably noticed that I have been posting relatively little here of late.  There are several reasons:

1. I have been trying to get my wrist problems to go away. That means minimal typing. I do enough of it at work, and the programs that I use at work are really not suited to using voice recognition software like Dragon Naturally Speaking. I cannot claim to be terribly surprised by this; Dragon has a lot of support for many common business applications, but debugging tools and database management development products are not high runners in frequency of use.

2. What little time I spend on the computer, I tend to spend doing things that can be done with Dragon, such as writing articles for PJMedia, or writing a science fiction novel.  There is not a lot of time left for blogging.

3. I have been getting a small number of orders to ScopeRoller, and I have been filling those as quick as I can. Astonishingly enough, work in the shop does not seem to cause me any wrist problems, probably because I'm not sitting in front of a keyboard.

One customer has a type of mount called a DiscMount.  This is apparently a very popular new design, and he wanted castors for it. This was interesting design problem, because the legs are wood, rectangular, and apparently a rather nice piece of finished wood at that. Ordinarily I would solve this problem by looking for a rectangular aluminum tube just a little larger than the leg, but the legs are actually a slightly oddball size (at least, relative to the standard sizes of rectangular aluminum tube out there).

I came up with a pretty clever solution I think, and I am getting ready to ship it to the customer this week.

The problem was that the standard sizes of rectangular aluminum tubing were either too narrow or too tall, so I put spacers on the inside to being too wide, and then used a sheet of aluminum to correct for being too tall. The sheet of aluminum is clamped down to the leg by bolts, thus distributing the load over 6 in.². As long as the customer uses reasonable force in tightening down the bolts, it will not mar the legs. At the same time, the level of force required is really not all that much: these are primarily held onto the legs by gravity, and clamping force is only if the user lifts this off the ground.

These are made almost entirely of aluminum, with steel for the screws, and a piece of acetal into which the casters are threaded. I'm very tempted to switch from acetal to aluminum, even though it is more work to cut and machine, because aluminum is much less expensive, and all the scrap can be recycled.

For some reason, when I took the picture above, I found myself thinking of some sort of mechanized alien life form. For those of you who saw the film Short Circuit, my wife immediately thought that these must be the children of Number Five.