Saturday, May 31, 2014

Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park

Mammoth Hot Springs in the north end of the park, and unlike the Old Faithful area, where everything is bubbling not because it is boiling, here the bubbling is because of carbon dioxide.

Unfortunately, I bumped the controls on the Pentax, and I have a bunch of grossly overexposed pictures because of it.  This one came out okay:

Here's a video of the water moving across the terraces, leaving beautiful mineral deposits:

Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep & Moose

The first herd we saw were about where I would expect -- on the side of a hill, high up, and hard to photograph, but eventually we got lucky:

This picture here was with the 500mm lens, unintentionally set to 1600 speed.  (This caused problems the next day or two, but I did not realize that I had knocked it from the default settings until much later.)

And here's one that was just trotting along the road, near the east entrance:

A bit farther from the park, we found this moose at the side of the road:

Most Of Yellowstone Lake Is Frozen This Time Of Year

But along the north shore, lots of hot springs and steam vents, both in the lake and just onshore, help defrost it:

And here's a use for the video feature of the Canon, recording both motion and the very loud sound of the steam vents:


Yes, those steam vents are loud. And they smell very strongly as well, of hydrogen sulfide. (The Canon doesn't have Smell-O-Vision.)


I shot these with the Canon Powershot, using digital zoom, I think, which may explain the image quality:

These were with the Pentax, but at the extreme edge of what the 100-300mm lens could do:

I should have pulled out the 500mm lens.

Mountain Goats

We Stayed at the Green Creek Inn & RV Park, Wapiti

This was a mistake, not so much because of the Green Creek Inn, as the location.  Like everything about Yellowstone, it was a bit expensive because Yellowstone is barely a six month vacation destination, and prices reflect the need to make your profit in the six months that Yellowstone is readily accessible.

The biggest mistake to staying in Wapiti, which is only about 20 miles east of Yellowstone's east entrance, is that the east entrance is easily an hour from the center of the park, and these are very slow roads.  Wapiti makes sense for one night coming to the park, or coming away from the park, but as a point from which to plan excursions, not so much.

The hosts were very friendly and helpful (including finding a spare charger for my Motorola cell phone).  The area around the Green Creek Inn is quite scenic, including this bizarre log cabin built almost without mechanical assistance, before it killed the builder:

Elk, Bison

Shortly after we entered Yellowstone.

Cow and calf, happily grazing:

On Our Way to Yellowstone We Stopped at Hagerman National Monument

Hagerman has some of the early horse fossils, but we ended up wasting several hours trying to find the national monument.  The visitors center is quite a distance from the boundaries of the national monument, and our Garmin was not smart enough to know the difference, leading us on a wild fossil horse chase.  But for eastern Idaho, it's pretty interesting terrain:

There are some lovely wildflowers out there:

It is also the land of vaguely alien looking windmills:

There are a lot of ferociously anti-windmill billboards in that part of Idaho.  As I understand the upset, because windmills provide only intermittent and therefore untrustworthy electricity, the utilities have to have standby power available to make up for wind shortfalls.  This apparently drives up electricity prices, in spite of the promise of "free" energy.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Alan Gura Is Now Blogging

Alan is the attorney who won D.C. v. Heller (2008) and McDonald v. Chicago (2010).  I have been privileged to work with Alan on these cases.  His blog Reality-Based Litigation is worth checking out, especially if you have a difficult, argumentative teenager:
If I had a dollar for every time I’d heard that someone’s offspring would make a great lawyer because “she drives me nuts with all her arguing, she just argues all the time,” I’d have a free latte just this week. I do like latte. But the “let’s send the obnoxious kid to law school” thing is grating.
I’m never sure how to respond. The exasperated parent is obviously looking for some encouragement, a silver lining in a clouded relationship. He wants validation, not, well… more arguing. And who am I to crush this parent’s dream? They’ll do what they want anyway. But the truth is, notwithstanding the adversarial nature of our legal system and the disputatious character of television lawyers, one cannot counsel Snowflake to pursue a legal career simply because she just slammed her bedroom door in dad’s face. It’s just not a useful data point.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Windows 7 Not Updating Clock

I have been trying to figure out why.  Any suggestions?  This isn't when the computer reboots; that would suggest that the lithium battery on the motherboard needs replacing.  The PC has been up for several days, and it was claiming it was Tuesday morning.

UPDATE: It appears that if I hit the Update Now button in Internet Time Settings, it updates, even if it is way out of sync.  But it appears as though whatever task is responsible for running sync isn't doing it.  Odd.

Monstrous & Devious At The Same Time

From May 28, 2014 KXLY:
TWIN FALLS, Idaho - A south-central Idaho man who posed online as a woman asking to be raped in her home in a ploy that resulted in the woman fending off two rape attempts by men who broke into her home has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.
His defense?  PTSD from his service in Iraq.  And the connection between PTSD and trying to get other people to unknowingly commit felonies against a third person is?

Illinois' Firearms Owners Identification Act of 1967: Need Help Finding It

The University of Connecticut Law Review has handed me back by law review article with a stack of edits and requests.  One of the items that they want is the session law that created the 1967 Firearms Owners Identification Card, which appears to be the first Illinois law that prohibited mental patients from possessing firearms. I am having a heck of a time finding it.  It appears to start at page 2600 on the 1967 session laws -- but I can't find it online.

UPDATE: Thanks to both readers who scanned copies and sent them!

Elliott Rodger's My Twisted Life

It is compelling to read, rather like watching video of a horrendous traffic accident.  As a commenter pointed out, this is the logical, although extreme outcome of our post-Christian society.  His life is defined by material possessions, money, and sex -- and there is nothing else that matters.  If he can't have those things, no one else will, either.  He ended up with tickets to a private, invitation-only Katy Perry concert:
I couldn’t help but feel a bitter form of envy at all of the rich kids at the concert. They grew up in lavish mansions, indulged in excessive opulence, and will never have to worry about anything in their pleasurable, hedonistic lives.  I would take great pleasure in watching all of those rich families burn alive.  Looking at all of them really drilled in my mind the importance of wealth. Wealth is one of the most important defining factors of self-worth and superiority. I hated and envied all of those kids for being born into wealth, while I had to struggle to find a way to claim wealth for myself. I had to be ruthless,and do whatever it takes to attain such wealth. After all, it was my only hope of ever being worthy of getting a girlfriend and living the life of gratification that I desire.

I notice that his father was big on The Secret, one of those New Age ideas that is very popular with those who want "spirituality" without anything that involves real change.  Of course, Rodger bought into this "positive thinking" nonsense, and was so disappointed when it didn't help him win the lottery.

Some people see a pity party in his ramblings.  Yes, no question.  But I read stuff like this, and I shudder to think what might have happened if someone, anyone, can befriended this weird but smart guy and told him that there is a meaning to life, and it's not found in things, money, or sex:
Within the following days, I spent a lot of time at the park, watching the wind blow through the trees and the children playing in the fields. I questioned the very fabric of reality.  Why did this all exist?  I wondered.  How did life come to be? What was the nature of reality? What was my place in all of it?
There was no point to my life anymore. I was never going to lose my virginity. I was never going to get a girlfriend. Because girls are repulsed by me, I was never going to have children and pass on my genes.The only way that I could have been worthy enough to beautiful girls is if I became wealthy at a young age, and the faith I had in that happened had just been crushed. There was no hope left.
Admittedly, this kid was not going to hear answers to these questions from his parents, or in the Hollywood culture of lust, greed, and selfishness.  And certainly not in college classes.

UPDATE: I do not know exactly how to categorize this self-grandiosity, but as much as he does not fit into the typical madness of such mass murderers, it is hard to read this and not start looking for something that describes this kind of bizarre thinking as some form of mental illness:
The ultimate evil behind sexuality is the human female. They are the main instigators of sex. They control which men get it and which men don’t.  Women are flawed creatures, and my mistreatment at their hands has made me realize this sad truth. There is something very twisted and wrong with the way their brains are wired. They think like beasts, and in truth, they are beasts. Women are incapable of having morals or thinking rationally. They are completely controlled by their depraved emotions and vile sexual impulses. Because of this, the men who do get to experience the pleasures of sex and the privilege of breeding are the men who women are sexually attracted to… the stupid, degenerate, obnoxious men. I have observed this all my life. The most beautiful of women choose to mate with the most brutal of men, instead of magnificent gentlemen like myself....
Women are like a plague. They don’t deserve to have any rights. Their wickedness must be contained in order prevent future generations from falling to degeneracy. Women are vicious, evil, barbaric animals, and they need to be treated as such....
All this from a guy who went on a murder spree because there were no women who recognized him as a "magnificent gentleman."  Projection is the formal term for this.
In order to completely abolish sex, women themselves would have to be abolished. All women must be quarantined like the plague they are, so that they can be used in a manner that actually benefits a civilized society. In order carry this out, there must exist a new and powerful type of government, under the control of one divine ruler, such as myself. The ruler that establishes this new order would have complete control over every aspect of society, in order to direct it towards a good and pure place. At the disposal of this government, there needs to be a highly trained army of fanatically loyal troops, in order to enforce such revolutionary laws.
The first strike against women will be to quarantine all of them in concentration camps. At these camps, the vast majority of the female population will be deliberately starved to death. That would be an efficient and fitting way to kill them all off. I would take great pleasure and satisfaction inc ondemning every single woman on earth to starve to death. I would have an enormous tower built just for myself, where I can oversee the entire concentration camp and gleefully watch them all die.  If I can’t have them, no one will, I’d imagine thinking to myself as I oversee this. Women represent everything that is unfair with this world, and in order to make the world a fair place, they must all be eradicated. A few women would be spared, however, for the sake of reproduction. These women would be kept and bred in secret labs. There, they will be artificially inseminated with sperm samples in order to produce offspring. Their depraved nature will slowly be bred out of them in time.
There has to be a term for someone with thinking this bizarre, hateful, and fantastical.  I must confess, it does remind me a bit of how the Weather Underground used to glibly discuss among themselves having to "eliminate" 25 million Americans who could not be "re-educated" to socialism.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Elliott Rodger's Autobiography

is here.  It is better written than I would have expected.

UPDATE: Not surprising: we know from news accounts that he was in therapy, almost daily, from age 8 onward.  His parents divorced when he was age 7.

New PJMedia Article

California Has Enough Laws

In the case of Elliot Rodger, all they had to do was enforce them.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Yellowstone: A National Park Americans Can Take Pride In

I have not been to Yellowstone since our children were young, and it is still astonishing how breathtaking it is -- and in spite of all the other things the national government does that are sleazy, corrupt, or stupid, Yellowstone is something to be proud of.  The admission charge of $25 is one of the great entertainment bargains of all time.

My wife and I used two different cameras for this expedition: a Pentax K10D with a 28-55mm kit lens (although we made little use of it); some with a 70-200mm Tamron lens; quite a bit with a Pentax 100-300mm lens; and a bit using a 500mm Phoenix lens, for the pictures that you can't get close enough safely to shoot otherwise!

We pretty quickly figured out that it made more sense to use the Canon PowerShot A1400 for everything close.  As long as there was strong sunlight, the Canon did a fine job on landscapes and those wild animals so close that we worried about them ramming the car!  This allowed us to leave the long lens on the Pentax.  In addition, we shot some video with the Canon, and as long as I didn't get stupid on the digital zoom, it turned in some very nice images.

Anyway, we returned with 500+ images and videos, not all of which I am going to show you, partly because I do not have the time, and partly because at least half of all pictures either turned out to be out of focus, badly composed, or out of the range of the lens.  (Remember: a great photographer takes 1000 pictures at least for every masterpiece.)

 As you might expect, my wife was driven just crazy by the little wild animal babies: "the cute-o-meter is in the red zone."  But even before we reached the cute wild animal babies, we were seeing many reminders that the bison have been busy reproducing for the last twenty years, such as this bison with a tracking collar, sensibly using a hard packed surface:

This did not require a long lens!

Everywhere we went: bison babies:

Something that my wife noticed was that the babies were often inside a circle of bisons, rather like the way that musk ox protect their young from wolf packs.  Not surprisingly, she dubbed these "daycare circles."  Although the difference is that the mothers are providing the daycare, not someone else.

I will have more pictures of bighorn sheep, mountain goats, elk, moose, vidoes of erupting geysers, mudpots, etc. over the next few days.

Just In Case Someone Tries To Portray This As "Right-Wing Extremism"

After Jared Loughner shot Rep. Giffords, the left made an attempt to portray this as a right-wing extremist influenced by Sarah Palin's "hate-mongering."  But the reality was that Loughner, while his rhetoric was fiercely anti-government, was more left than right.  The truth is that he was crazy, not even so much a leftist.  In case anyway tries that same stunt with Elliott Rodger, it appears that the only political leanings that can be gleaned from his social media is progressive.

Let me again emphasize: what characterizes most of these mass murderers is not left vs. right, but crazy vs. sane.  If there is a political direction associated with these crazy killers, I suspect that it appears left because it appeals to their sense of victimhood.

How Precise Can You Be With Ordinary Tools?

I recently prepared a ScopeRoller order for a customer in Spain.  The sleeve part of the product I make by cutting sections off a 2" O.D. aluminum tube using a chop saw.  I use a stop to hold the tube in position for cutting each piece, and because one end is a 30 degree angle, and the other is a right angle, I do a slice at the 30 degree angle, then move the blade to the 90 degree angle to cut the next section.  (You may recall from geometry class a theorem appropriate to proving that these will end up consistent from one section to the next.)

Before putting this order together, I decided to measure how precisely each of these sleeves matched in length.  Unless the sleeves are more than a tenth of an inch difference, few customers would ever notice.  The design means that even rather larger differences would make no functional difference.  To my pleasure, the three sleeves that I had lying on the workbench were within 0.010" in length!

Monday, May 26, 2014

More Signs That The UCSB Shooter Had a Serious Mental lllness Problem

May 24, 2014 The Blaze has some long and very sad quotes from his manifesto:
And then it gets really weird, with fantasies of setting up concentration camps to starve all women to death (except for a few "breeding stock").

UPDATE: I don't know how to describe what the various news accounts are describing, but it sounds quite severe.  The May 26, 2014 Telegraph reports that he emailed the manifesto to his therapist, who contacted Rodger's parents, who contacted police.  Also:
Simon Astaire, a family friend, said their son had been seeing therapists since the age of eight, including virtually “every day” while at high school.
I'm not sure where CrimeFileNews is getting this information, but the proprietor is a retired cop, and has all sorts of inside information:
Rodger had steadfastly refused to take his prescribed anti-psychotic medications.  Instead of institutionalizing Rodger his keepers knowingly let this time bomb walk our streets.

Rodger’s family repeatedly did all they could to warn police of the very real danger.  We’ve yet to hear their repeated 911 calls they made in effort to get police to have Rodger picked up for a 5150 psychiatric hold and examination.
 Of course, a Welfare & Institutions sec. 5150 hold means that you can't possess a firearm for five years (with some exceptions).  All handgun purchases in California are registered.  If Santa Barbara police had held Rodger under 5150, they would have confiscated his guns.  (But not, presumably, the hammers and machetes that he apparently used to murder his roommates.)

Captain Obvious Out Planting Signs

Just outside the east entrance to Yellowstone is a sign: "BEARS ARE DANGEROUS/DO NOT APPROACH/$5000 FINE".

Of course, we had to warn an Italian tourist who was getting way too close to a moose because he was trying to get a close-up picture with an iPad.  At least the moose's reaction as the tourist approached made for some good pictures.  Fortunately, we did not have the "opportunity" to get some pictures of the moose stomping the tourist.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Great Hatpin Peril

Bitter at Shall Not Be Questioned has a nice piece about the great hatpin peril at the start of the 20th century, and efforts of local governments to protect obnoxious mashers from women.

Vacationing in Yellowstone -- And Watching The Horror in Santa Barbara

The descriptions of this young man who went on a murder rampage bring back painful memories.  He stabbed to death three, and shot to death three or four others (news accounts are conflicting).  For, n some odd (actually, not so odd) reason, some news outlet are referring to seven killed a drive-by.

His YouTube videos were so disturbing that police talked him on several occasions before this tragedy.  Some accounts describe them as the work of a "madman."   As I read the history of conflicts, I find myself suspecting that this may be literally correct.  He complained that women only wanted brutes, not "the supreme gentlemen" like himself, and it appears that he had trouble making friends.  This USA Today article suggests a person with serious conflicts over pretty minor things.  Someone who would go on a rampage like this is obviously pretty disturbed.

It was my experience when I was 19, 20, 21, that yes, "bad boys" had a much easier time getting girlfriends because so many girls that age were rebelling against Mom and Dad, looking for guys "the kind you don't bring home to mother" (to quote Rick James' Superfreak).  Not being a doper also put me at a real disadvantage, too.  But I also sense from the quotes from this guy that he was completely unaware that he might have had serious problems that could have been an obstacle for him, and that the core problem might have been him, not them.  (How many young men fully appreciate how much they need to mature?)

Of course, where you go to meet the opposite sex matters, too.  I was not having much luck finding the girl for me until I started attending church -- and at a Bible study, I met the woman I married in 1980, and we're still together.  You don't fish for trout in a sewer, and expect to get good results.

Friday, May 23, 2014

You Mean Polite Signs Don't Work?

 From May 22, 2014

A Durham, North Carolina restaurant with a sign on its front door reading, "No Weapons, No Concealed Firearms," was robbed at gunpoint on May 19. published a photograph of the sign on May 21, making "The Pit" restaurant a self-declared gun free zone--the same kind of zone Michael Bloomberg and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America pressure other restaurants into becoming.

According to Durham's ABC 11, around 9 PM "three men wearing hoodies entered the restaurant through the back doors with pistols, and forced several staff members to lie on the floor." The armed men "also assaulted two employees during the crime."
I could have sworn armed robbers obey such signs.  Isn't it in their code of honor, or their labor union contract?

The open carry stunts like the one that caused Chipotle's to request people not carry guns into their restaurants are really, really stupid.  To be blunt, if someone carried an AR-15 into a restaurant with the muzzle down, my first question would be, "Is this a lunatic about to go on a rampage?  Or is it a stupid open carry stunt?"  If the former, having to sit and evaluate the circumstances and behavior is likely to lead to some sort of tragic consequences.

I don't think open carry is a spectacularly wise strategy, at least in urban settings, but I spoke at a meeting of this evening, and there was not a long gun apparent.  A number of people had handguns openly carried in holsters, and my guess is that most of the other patrons of the Fuddrucker's either did not notice, or perhaps assumed that these were off-duty police.  There was no panic -- or even apparent notice.  But then again, Americans are used to seeing people (usually police) carrying handguns.  Rifles in urban settings, no, and AR-15s?  Oh boy.

I understand the reasoning behind the open carry strategy: desensitize people to the presence of guns so that they do not automatically associate guns with crime.  But desensitization involves slow, subtle steps.  As an example, introduce one gay character into a television series.  A couple of years later, another one, and then another.  That's part of how the under 35 generation bought into the whole "gay is just fine" thing.  (Of course, none of the characters are like those in the movie Cruising.  The BBC series Downton Abbey must have scored a first by having an evil gay character.)

Of course, it did not help that much of the under 35 generation grew up in homes where Jesus Christ and the sanctity of marriage was preached, until the day that Mom or Dad filed divorce papers.  Showing up in a restaurant with an AR-15 effectively in a patrol position is rather like the anal sex on top of floats in the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade in the 1980s and 1990s.  You wonder what might have happened to the gay rights movement if most of America had seen video of what was happening.  I dare say that it would not have "desensitized" most Americans.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Oregon's Health Exchange Gets Subpoenas

The federal criminal investigation of Oregon's health insurance exchange took a step into public view Tuesday when the U.S. Attorney's office issued broad subpoenas seeking information from Cover Oregon and the Oregon Health Authority.
While the Federal Bureau of Investigation's interest in the exchange debacle had beenpreviously reported, the legal demands dated May 13 indicate things may have moved beyond a preliminary inquiry to a full-blown investigation.
It appears that Oregon government spent at least $250 million to build a non-functioning online exchange.  My guess is that the subpoenas are looking for evidence of criminal behavior.  It is quite entertaining to read the comments from readers, overwhelmingly furious at what looks like money passed to political buddies.  There is nothing quite as entertaining as watching Democrats who actually work for a living getting livid at the discovery that their beloved party redistributes wealth to the billionaires to produce a useless website.

Angelina Jolie: Not Just A Pretty Face

From the May 21, 2014 Washington Times comes a hint that Hollywood actresses shouldn't be whining about how their lives are:
“I have much more support than most people, most women in this world. And I have the financial means to have a home and health care and food,” she said.
“I actually feel that women in my position, when we have all at our disposal to help us, shouldn’t complain. Consider all the people who really struggle and don’t have the financial means, don’t have the support, and many people are single raising children. That’s hard.”

Read more: Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter

Decline And Fall, Part 103030323019

The May 21, 2014 Houston Chronicle has a news story about a bunch of people arrested for trading child p0rn in the New York City area.  There's a description of those arrested that sounds like the start to a very complicated joke -- but there's nothing funny about this:
NEW YORK (AP) — A police officer, a paramedic, a rabbi, a nurse and a Boy Scout leader were among at least 70 people arrested in the New York City...
The police officer was the police chief of Mount Pleasant, N.Y.  Societies thrive or die based on how common the sick and twisted are.  They seem to be getting more common.

Another Mass Knife Murder

From May 21, 2014 Fox News:
4 killed, dozens injured in Taiwan subway stabbing spree
TAIPEI, Taiwan – A university student wielding a knife attacked riders aboard a subway train in Taiwan's capital on Wednesday, killing four people and injuring at least 21 others, police and local media said.
The seemingly random attack occurred at about 4 p.m. at the start of the evening rush hour aboard a train on Taipei's Banqiao line, which leads to the city's southwestern suburbs.
It is amazing the damage that one person with a knife can cause, especially in a society where nearly everyone is disarmed.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

501(c)(3) Law: A Lawyer's Relief Act

I mentioned a while back that I was hoping that John Lott's attempt to get a 501(c)(3) foundation funded to pay for research on crime-related questions would be successful, and I was somewhat tempted to try and pursue a similar strategy, so that I could work full-time on public policy issues, instead of doing it in my spare time, catch-as-catch-can.

The more time I spend reading about 501(c)(3) law in the area of "private inurements," the more I find myself wondering how so many 501(c)(3) foundations manage to pay their directors such extraordinary salaries. My suspicion is that many of these very high salaries only survive because there are squadrons of lawyers and consultants available to defend them.  I suspect that any 501(c)(3) set up to fund the type of research that I do would rapidly produce an IRS audit (if not auto da fe).

Not The Usual Response When Killing in Self-Defense

From May 17, 2014 Idaho Statesman:
A Blaine County sheriff's report says Romanchuk's wife reported her husband missing in January. She said he had lent money to a neighbor and later confronted him over the loan.
The report says after initially denying knowing Romanchuk or receiving money from him, Blankenship told a deputy on Wednesday he killed a man in self-defense and buried him in his backyard.
Maybe I'm just cynical, but this is not exactly the standard response, and for some odd reason, it makes law enforcement just a little skeptical of the self-defense claim.

Read more here:

This Must Have Been a Lovely Evening

Boise County Sheriff's Department busted dozens of Boise teens getting drunk and using drugs deep in the forest.  They must have been having a really great time.  From the May 19, 2014 Idaho Statesman:
Several fires were burning at the party site late Saturday, and some trees had been knocked over, according to the news release. Boise County Sheriff and Boise National Forest officers who went to the party said that bottles, cans, piles of vomit and other kinds of trash were strewn about. [emphasis added]
Loads of fun, I'm sure.  A few of the teenagers had to be taken to hospitals.  Getting piles of vomit loaded in this particular area is a really bad idea.  Quoting Boise County Sheriff Roeber:
“It’s not like you are five minutes away from medical treatment when you are up in the mountains,” Roeber said. “It can take hours to get to emergency medical care - and the parties just seem to get farther and farther in.”
The article points out the risks involved with trying to drive away from this event on Bogus Basin Road -- a mildly hazardous road when you are completely sober.

Read more here:

Read more here:

"A Moose Bit My Sister Once"

You may recall this line from the subtitles at the start of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  But seriously, moose cause far more serious injuries than grizzly bears, as this May 20, 2014 USA Today story reports.  I guess the difference is that getting stomped by a moose, while it produces enormous pain and injury, does not provoke the primal fear of being eaten.  Moose don't eat people; grizzlies sometimes do.

Bear spray works on moose, as well as bison; I'll be carrying a .44 Magnum when I visit Yellowstone this weekend as backup.

Things Not Allowed On A Catholic University Campus

Support for traditional marriage.  From the May 2, 2014 University Herald:
"Notre Dame police officers told us that we only had proper permission to have a table - but that nobody was allowed to actually man the table, which was the whole point of having a table in the first place. How can a table man itself? So we were forced to leave," John Ritchie, spokesman for TFP Student Action, said in a statement.
Ritchie said that police officers arrived soon after volunteers started distributing pro-family literature, 10 Reasons Why Same-Sex "Marriage" is Harmful and Must Be Opposed.
It was well received by majority of the Catholic academic institute's campus community. However, several pro-homosexual/leftist students tore up the fliers, yelled obscenities and engaged in other unethical behavior. The opponents also claimed that messages related to religious conservatives did not merit to be endorsed.
The University of Notre Dame Security Police Department said that separate permissions are required to organize a table and manage the table with volunteers.
Dennis Brown, Notre Dame Spokesman, said that the decision to expel Traditional Marriage Group from campus was in accordance with the school's policies and not based on the content of TFP handout.
Notre Dame has excuses for why, but it is pretty apparent that Notre Dame's Catholicism is much like public university liberalism -- a long, long time ago, and no longer relevant to what they do today.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Concrete Pavers For Driveways

We have pretty much given up on having professionals do the asphalt paving we need.  It appears that if the project won't be $5000 to $6000 for a day's work, it isn't worth their while to drive twenty minutes to where live.  I guess the local economy is recovering.

It appears that we need to do this ourselves.  I am leaning towards use of concrete pavers for the apron on the telescope garage.  (Amazingly enough, telescopes on casters are actually more demanding on the surface than an automobile on pneumatic tires, which spread a lot more load over a lot more area.)

From what I have read, 2 3/8" thick pavers are sufficient for automobiles, but we are getting some damage to the chip seal surface between the telescope garage and the poured asphalt driveway from the UPS trucks.  I think what may make the most sense is to use 4" thick red brick pavers (which will match the color scheme on the concrete around the house) for the garage apron, and then, over several months, extend this until it meets the asphalt driveway.

This also has the advantage that we can expend the money for this in relatively smaller chunks.  The garage apron will be 25' wide and 3' long, or 225 of the 4" x 4" x 8" brick pavers.  These are $0.49 each, so about $130 with sales tax.  Extending this three feet at a time is a tolerable expensive each month.

This Makes No Sense: Please, Tell Me What Insane Tax Incentives Are Causing This

Zerohedge has an article about the massive new car lots around the world where manufacturers are storing new cars that they can't sell.  They show part of a 57,000 car lot in Maryland and claim:
The car industry would never sell these cars at massive reductions in their prices to get rid of them, no they still want every buck.  If they were to price these cars for a couple of thousand they would sell them.  However, nobody would then buy any expensive cars and then they  would end up being unsold.  Its quite a pickle we have gotten ourselves into.
The whole article makes no sense, unless there is some sort of insane tax incentive that various governments are providing to keep the factories churning out far more cars than they manufacturers can sell.  I am reminded of the vast number of "see-through" high rises built in the U.S. in the early 1980s because tax incentives were so strong that it made sense to build commercial office buildings even if you never rented out the space.  Is that going on?

It is really hard to believe that a 15% reduction in price on new cars would not immediately sell much of this backlog.  Or an I missing something?  It is beginning to sound like the sort of Keynesian terror of underconsumption that drove a sci-fi story I read many years ago, where the top of the socioeconomic elite were allowed to live in small houses and consume very little, but the lower you were, the more you obliged to consume.

A reader tells me that the article is flat-out false.

UPDATE: Not really the same problem, but apparently many state and local governments do not understand the concept of making use of existing assets before buying new ones.  This report from November 25, 2013 Channel 10 in Columbus, Ohio, reports:
10 Investigates has learned some Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (DRC) cars have not been checked out for use in at least two years.
The DRC maintains a lot full of cars at its headquarters on 770 West Broad street in Columbus.
At the adjoining parking lot, 10 Investigates' reporter Paul Aker used video recordings to document numerous cars that did not move all summer.
The recordings began on August 20. By mid-November, many of those cars still had not moved....
10 Investigates analyzed fleet records and compared those to check out logs. The station's investigation revealed 20 cars that had not been checked out for use in at least two years. Others seemed to get very limited use. In one case, a car was checked out only two times in the two year period.
A similar, perhaps even more embarrassing situation was covered April 27, 2012 by ABC News:
Miami-Dade County is under fire for letting hundreds of new cars–Toyota Prius hybrids, pickup trucks, vans and police patrol vehicles–sit, unused, in a county garage.  For six years.
Back in 2006, the county added 908 new cars to its 7,300-car fleet. A year later, after the recession hit, they reduced their fleet by 947. Some of the remaining cars were sold, but the others were warehoused in the Earlington Heights Metrorail station parking garage, said County spokesperson Suzy Trutie.
By the spring of 2008, the number of idle vehicles–worth an estimated $4 million– had grown to 1,200, the Miami Herald reported.
According to Trutie, brand new car and trucks sitting idle year after year was no big deal.  “They were in storage in the garage,” she said. “We always have an inventory of cars in storage because we are constantly upgrading our fleet. This is what we always do. This is not new. It’s part of our every day operations.” 
 This makes sense for boxes of staples, or copy paper, or hammers -- items that don't cost much, and don't degrade if they are not regularly serviced.  But cars?

UPDATE 2: Here's an account that a reader provided that shows that this wasn't as silly as it sounds.  Why, you could get the impression that mainstream journalists are sometimes as careful and accurate about stuff like this as they are about gun control!

Another Reminder That Environmentalism Is Not Only Economically Destructive, But Primarily A Subsidy to Big Business

From, a detailed article about what happens when European countries reduce the outrageous subsidies for electric vehicles, and who the big beneficiaries of them are:
Also lost in all the hype is that the Dutch subsidies greatly favour corporations and private business. Private purchasers are, according to Peter Monk and Zifei Yang, authors of the ICCT’s Driving Electrification white paper, eligible for much less (1,800 euros for a privately bought Renault Zoe versus 6,100 euros for a company car, and 20,900 euros for a privately owned plug-in Volvo V60 versus 38,300 euros — out of a purchase price of 51,571 euros — for the company-leased alternative). Small wonder that, depending on the exact nature of your vehicle, up to three quarters of Dutch plug-in sales are to corporations and private businesses. Yes, Holland’s green car revolution is really just a corporate tax dodge.
And the Dutch really have been following the money. As of Jan. 1, the government has reduced its corporate welfare program, and sales of anything that requires an electrical umbilical cord have plummeted. EV and PHEV sales in December were 9,309; in January they were 404. Sales of best-selling models were particularly hard hit; Mitsubishi’s hybrid Outlander dropped to 83 in January compared with 4,988 just the month before. This drop was made all the more calamitous for Mitsu’s electrification prospects since, of the 8,197 Outlander PHEVs sold in Europe last year, 8,009 were to Holland. Other marques saw equally precipitous losses; BMW’s i3 from 225 to 15 units, Tesla’s Model S from 578 to seven and Nissan’s Leaf from … well, you get the idea.
Is there any question why environmentalists back crony capitalism so consistently?  It's a way to redistribute wealth from the middle class to the obscenely rich, contributing to the divide between rich and poor...and environmentalists are almost always rich.  Who else can afford these policies?

210.8 Pounds This Morning

In spite of having a very satisfying bacon cheeseburger at Burgers and Brew Saturday at lunch.  But that meant that dinner was several slices of canned pineapple and a small quantity of ice cream.

This is what I weighed after leaving the hospital from the aortic valve replacement.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Someone That Does Need Magazine Limits?

From May 6, 2014 CBS Miami:
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – On December 10, more than two dozen police officers from across Miami Dade County converged on a blue Volvo that had crashed in the backyard of a townhouse on 65th Street just off 27th Avenue.

As the car was wedged helplessly between a light pole and a tree, nearly a minute passed before officers opened up – firing approximately 50 bullets at the car and the two unarmed men inside the vehicle.

The two men inside the car survived that initial volley of gunfire, according to witnesses, who said they could see the men moving inside the Volvo. Everything went quiet for nearly two minutes before the officers opened up a second time – unleashing an unrelenting torrent of bullets that lasted almost 25 seconds. By the time it was over, the two men inside the car were dead.

CBS4 News has learned a total of 23 officers fired a total of at least 377 rounds.

Bullets were sprayed everywhere. They hit the Volvo, other cars in the lot, fence posts and neighboring businesses. They blasted holes in a townhouse where a 12-year-old dove to the ground for cover and a four month old slept in his crib.
Wow.  So much for more superior police training and discipline -- killing two unarmed men.

Twenty-Five Books A Year

Sebastian at Shall Not Be Questioned points out a pretty serious flaw in Professor Volokh's defense of "substantial burden" argument about magazine limits:
Professor Eugene Volokh is famously known for liking substantial burden analysis when it comes to the Second Amendment, particularly when it comes to deciding the constitutionality of magazine bans.

I came across an interesting statistic this morning that got me thinking. According to a Pew Poll released earlier in the year, the typical American reads five books a year, just like a typical self-defense shooting only involves two shots. For the sake of argument, it would not be too substantial a burden on a person’s First Amendment right to limit the number of books Americans can buy in one year to twenty-five books.
Sebastian points to the absurdities that would result from using such a model for the First Amendment -- and even comes up with a plausible governmental interest in limiting the number of books that each of us can buy each year -- reducing global warming.  This is certainly as plausible a claim as the idea that limiting magazine capacity to 10 (or 5 in a few more years) will reduce mass murders -- that is to say, it is unsupported by facts and evidence, but it makes the proponent feel good.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Today's New Word: Breastaurant

My son used it to describe a restaurant here in Boise that works on the Hooters model of how they hire and dress their waitresses, but without Hooters' reputation for customer service.  One particular waitress ended up in a discussion with a friend of my son who works for a high reputation local brew pub: she was quite insistent that solar temperature, not cellar temperature, was very important for wine.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Instead of Judenrein...

There's another group that has to worry about whether they will driven out of business or otherwise made financially insolvent.  First it was HGTV deciding that the Benham brothers were too conservative to have a television show.  Then it was Sun Trust Bank deciding that the Benham brothers didn't need to bank with them anymore.  But at least Sun Trust reversed course after enough outrage:
After an uproar from conservative customers, SunTrust Banks announced Friday afternoon that the decision to end its relationship with real estate entrepreneurs David and Jason Benham had been reversed.
Earlier Friday, The Daily Caller reported that SunTrust Banks had pulled all of its listed properties with the Benham brothers’ bank-owned property business.
The move came just a week after HGTV announced it was canceling a planned home renovation show hosted by the Benhams because of their conservative views on abortion and gay marriage.

Read more:
It is amazing the power the Gaystapo has.

I Really Wonder What Planet Some of Obama's Officials Live On

Bridget Johnson at PJMedia reports on a State Department official who says that calling Boko Haram Muslim is "just not accurate."  Hmmm.  The leader says that Allah told him to sell the girls into slavery.  The leader says that the girls have all converted to Islam since being taken captive.  Yeah, I guess Boko Haram isn't really Muslim.

And this horrifying reminder of what happens when Muslims who take their religion seriously are in charge, from May 15, 2014 BBC:
A Sudanese court has sentenced a woman to hang for apostasy - the abandonment of her religious faith - after she married a Christian man.
Amnesty International condemned the sentence, handed down by a judge in Khartoum, as "appalling and abhorrent".
Local media report the sentence on the woman, who is pregnant, would not be carried out for two years after she had given birth.
Sudan has a majority Muslim population, which is governed by Islamic law.
"We gave you three days to recant but you insist on not returning to Islam. I sentence you to be hanged to death," the judge told the woman, AFP reports.
Islam is not a variant of Christianity or Judaism.  Unfortunately, the left just does not get it.  They keep calling Republicans "the American Taliban."

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Debate Must Have Been Pretty Entertaining

The May 15, 2014 Daily Mail covers the Idaho governor's Republican primary debate, and has great fun feeling superior to us.  You might get the impression that Idaho is filled crazy fools from reading this.  It was a clever strategy of Gov. Otter to insist that all the fringe candidates be invited -- it distracted attention from his only serious opposition, Russ Fulcher,

"You Keep Using That Word. I Do Not Think You Know the Meaning of That Word."

A great line from the Princess Bride.  And reading this May 14, 2014 Idaho Statesman article about Russ Fulcher's Republican primary challenge to Gov. Otter, it comes to mind:
Otter: Otter said "traditional marriage in Idaho is one of our base, core, deep, tap root principles."

He declined to say whether he would sign a bill to expand the Idaho Human Rights Act, but said proponents should have received a legislative hearing this year.

Otter said he has "very close relatives" who are gay and are loved and respected in his family. "I have always supported human rights for everyone, individual rights for everyone. I made my bones in early politics - everybody called me a libertarian. And there's no true libertarian that wants to put a shackle on anybody."
The expansion of the Idaho Human Rights Act would actually put a shackle on individuals and businesses who chose not to bake a gay wedding cake, or photograph a gay "commitment ceremony."  Like many people who fancy themselves libertarians, Gov. Otter really means not "more liberty" but "more power for some, less liberty for others."

You can see why I am voting for Fulcher -- along with the rest of the sleazy, but perhaps not truly unlawful connections to Idaho state government contracting.

UPDATE: I originally wrote "more liberty for some, less for others" but adding sexual orientation doesn't actually create more liberty for some; power to order others about is not liberty.

Read more here:

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Election Campaign Ads: Technically True, But Very Misleading

I have been hearing stacks of campaign ads on the radio and seeing lots of flyers in the mail, and I am pretty disgusted.

I am in the 1st Congressional District, so I don't have a strong feeling about the Simpson v. Smith primary race, but Simpson's ads are sounding increasingly desperate, such as telling us that Smith wants to take away your "constitutional right to vote for U.S. Senate!"  I suspect that Smith at some point has argued that popular election of U.S. Senators was a mistake; there were sound reasons why the Constitution originally provided for state legislatures to select them.  Lots of people who have thought about this share this concern.  But phrased the way that it is is terribly misleading.  And ditto for some of the other overwrought statements.  I had no strong feelings about this race (other than Smith is a trial attorney, one strike against him), but the more I hear of Simpson's ads, the more I dislike Simpson.

Chris Troupis is running for Attorney-General in the Republican primary against Wasden.  What little I know of Troupis I like -- but someone keeps sending out attack Wasden pieces that misrepresent what Wasden's office did on Second Amendment rights.  This really disturbs me, because Troupis is a social conservative and rather loud Christian.  (He used to, at least in prior campaigns, shorten his first name from Christopher to Christ instead of Chris.)

Those Programs Promoting Self-Esteem Really Work!

Fifty-five percent of Americans think that they are smarter than the average American, according to a new survey by YouGov, a research organization that uses online polling. In other words, as YouGov cleverly points out, the average American thinks that he or she is smarter than the average American.
A humble 34 percent of citizens say they are about as smart as everyone else, while a dispirited 4 percent say they are less intelligent than most people.
Lake Woebegon (where most kids are above average) has arrived.  It explains a lot about the last couple of elections, too.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Finally, Progress in Colorado

Colorado House Bill 14-1386 removes the requirement for "imminent" danger to self or others for emergency hospitalization.  I have been pushing such a change for some time.  It would have likely have meant that instead of boobytrapping his apartment and shooting up a theater, James Holmes would have been in a hospital, being treated for schizophrenia.

Unfortunately, as this May 2, 2014 Denver Post article points out, Rocky Mountain Gun Owners is fighting this tooth and nail.  They do not seem to understand that an emergency commitment is not what gets you added to the firearms disability list.

UPDATE: Just spent about 90 minutes being interviewed by a reporter from the Denver Post about the proposed change and the larger problem of deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill.

Income Inequality: Not Quite What It Appears

It is an article of faith in some circles that income inequality is rapidly rising (in spite of the Zero -- it could not be because of the Zero and his policies, could it?).

The Gini coefficient is one of the commonly accepted measures of the income inequality.  In a society where everyone has the same income, the Gini coefficient is 0.  A Gini coefficient of 1 would mean that one person had all the income, and everyone else had none.  Pretty obviously, a Gini coefficient of 0 never happens, outside of a dystopian novel, and a Gini coefficient of 1 never happens, either.

Anyway, a lot of handwringing leftists like to point to the rising Gini coefficient over the last thirty years as a really, really bad thing -- doubtless the result of Ronald Reagan.  But this article shows a rather different story.  Most importantly

The green line shows the Gini coefficient for individuals -- and you will notice that it is essentially flat since 1962.  Income inequality for individuals hasn't changed much.  What has changed most impressively since 1970, and even more so since 1992, is income inequality for households and families.  (Yes, the .01% who back Obama are vastly richer than they used to be, but relative to the vast majority of the population, I doubt that they are contributing that much to these figures.)

It doesn't take much thinking to see how income inequality for individuals was largely unchanged, but increased substantially for households and families.  In 1962, most women were homemakers.  While there were single  mothers, they were atypical, because divorce was difficult and more importantly, socially frowned upon.

Since 1970, and increasingly since the 1980s, households where both husband and wife are working, usually full-time, has gone from unusual to normal.  There are a lot more single mothers than there used to be, and of course, compared to a family with two full-time workers, the single mothers are going to have a much lower family or household income.

If the progressives really want to do something about income inequality, the solution is obvious, isn't it?  Pass laws requiring women who are married to stay home and bake cookies.  Problem solved!  Somehow, I don't see this becoming the progressive cause.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Two Planets?

Or two Antarcticas?   Watts Up With That? points to an article in the May 12, 2014 Australian about how Antarctic sea ice is at record expanse.  (Unfortunately the article in the Australian is behind a paywall.)  All the mainstream media are reporting stories like this:
The huge West Antarctic ice sheet is starting a glacially slow collapse in an unstoppable way, two new studies show. Alarmed scientists say that means even more sea level rise than they figured.

The worrisome outcomes won't be seen soon. Scientists are talking hundreds of years, but over that time the melt that has started could eventually add 4 to 12 feet to current sea levels.
Could they both  be true?  It seems a bit unlikely.  But the Democrats are aware that they are at real risk of losing control of the Senate in November, so they need a distraction.

Voter Enthusiasm Down

May 12, 2014 Gallup reports:
PRINCETON, NJ -- A majority of U.S. registered voters, 53%, say they are less enthusiastic about voting than in previous elections, while 35% are more enthusiastic. This 18-percentage-point enthusiasm deficit is larger than what Gallup has measured in prior midterm election years, particularly in 2010 when there was record midterm enthusiasm.
Gee, I wonder why? Could it be that the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, is still busily stumping for a measure intended to guarantee Democrats control over Congress for the next several decades (or until the place starts to look like Mad Max)? 

Third parties do not really work very well in American politics.  The last successful third party was the Republicans -- and that was more than 150 years ago.  But when so much of the Republican Party is fighting to find a way to get out ahead of the Democrats on gay marriage, open borders, and redistributing money to the billionaire class -- how much enthusiasm can voters actually develop?

Good News! Harvard Is Relocating The Satanic Mass Off Campus!

From the May 12, 2014 Harvard Crimson:
The Harvard Extension School Cultural Studies Club said it will relocate its reenactment of a Satanic black mass ritual, scheduled for Monday night, to an off-campus site, citing in an email that “misinterpretations about the nature of the event were harming perceptions about Harvard and adversely impacting the student community.”
Imagine if a Harvard club had put on a play about Mohammed as child molesting transsexual to understand the level of offense.  Of course, you would have to imagine Harvard doing that -- because Harvard would be far, far too culturally sensitive to allow something like that.

For Those Who Visit Pennsylvania With A Concealed Weapon

Michael Bloomberg's puppet as Pennsylvania Attorney-General is busily tearing up concealed carry reciprocity agreements with other states.  Shall Not Be Questioned describes how she recently decided to scrap such arrangements with both Utah and Idaho, apparently because both states issue to non-residents.  But Shall Not Be Questioned points out that so does Pennsylvania, and the statute that defines reciprocity with other states indicates that Pennsylvania will reciprocate with other states with substantially similar laws. 

If Pennsylvania Attorney-General Kane wanted to argue that the problem is non-resident licenses (which is the objection that Philadelphia has to Pennsylvania residents of the wrong skin color carrying on Florida non-resident licenses), then she could change the agreement so that Pennsylvania only recognizes resident Idaho or Utah licenses.  I would not be thrilled about this, but Pennsylvania would not be the only state to make this distinction.  Pennsylvania police could look at an out-of-state license's address, and say, "Gee, this is an Idaho license.  Is the address on the license in Idaho?" 

Bloomberg keeps telling the lie that his groups aren't hostile to gun ownership -- they want criminals and the mentally ill not to have guns.  But a concealed weapon license is a pretty darn effective filter for that.  It is clear that Bloomberg's stooges are hostile to self-defense.

The Guy Executed (Badly) In Oklahoma Last Week?

I mentioned that he shot his victim, and had her buried alive.  Ann Coulter has the rest of the details of the crime -- and that's actually among the least evil things this monster did.  As Coulter points out:
This week we will review some facts about the case that The New York Times edited out of its capacious articles on Lockett. This is the information that was not fit to print. Next week, we'll discuss the death penalty, with particular reference to Clayton Lockett. 
The main category of facts you won't read about Lockett in the Times, or elsewhere in the NFM (Non-Fox Media), is what he did to his victims -- which is to say, his last four victims. It may surprise you to learn that Locket had a long felony record. 
In 1999, Lockett and two confederates broke into Bobby Bornt's house to rob him. Bornt recognized Lockett as the man he had hired a few weeks earlier to cover a tattoo. 
Lockett savagely beat Bornt for 15 minutes with a shotgun, as Bornt's 9-month old son wailed in the next room. The three men bound Bornt's hands together with duct tape and set about searching his home for something to steal. Indeed, Lockett pushed Bornt off the couch, complaining that he was bleeding too much into what he called "my couch."
And then the details become so gross that I will not quote them.  Lockett was no loss to humanity.