Monday, June 30, 2014

Are Allergies Increasing?

My first reaction was, "Probably not.  More like increasingly neurotic parents turning little things into disasters."  But to my surprise, a number of studies do show that various types of allergic reactions are on the rise in Western nations.  This study shows an 18% increase in food allergies among under 18s in the U.S. from 1997 to 2007.  This study, while showing no increase in Switzerland adolescents after 1992, indicates that there was a definite increase before then.  Similarly, this study of German children showed a large increase in the latter half of the 20th century, but nothing since the start of the new century.  This study of a variety of allergic reactions in British children shows a noticeable increase in many forms of allergies, although perhaps decline in the last few years.  What was especially startling, however, was this:
Among adults, national surveys have found that there has been no recent increase in the population geometric mean total IgE (45 in men and 30 in women in 1995–6 and 42 in men and 27 in women in 2001).
Why allergies increasing among children, but not adults?   It isn't like the children don't generally grow up to be adults.

More On Solar

One of the great frustrations there for a while on solar power was that if you bought enough of a charge controller to handle a really big array, then you were spending a pile of money for a charge controller.  If you wanted to start small and build up your solar panel array, you could save money by buying a small charge controller, but then you would have to upgrade it.

I am not immediately sure of the output capacity of the Battery Tender that I currently have at work in the telescope garage, but I suspect, based on the current version of it, that is probably 9W or 10W.  That isn't going to work if I want to add a 40W panel.  I know that there are problems if you try to combine two different power output panels to a single charge controller--often you end up with the lower output panel limiting the output of the higher output panel.  But I presume that it is possible to feed the output of two different charge controllers into the same storage battery -- or do you end up with that same problem of the lesser source limiting the greater source?  Or is it necessary to use a diode to prevent power from working its way back from the battery to the other charge controller?

Because of the manner in which I will be using these, it might just be simpler to use the low output system for lighting, and the high output system for running an automatic garage door opener.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Before The Fall Semester Starts (Although That's Probably Least Reason For The Enhanced Permit)

Next classes: 
Sunday July 20th, Saturday July 26th,  
Sunday August 10th,    Saturday August 23rd
Idaho Concealed Weapon License Class
NRA Personal Protection Handgun Course
12 hour course 8am - 8pm
Course exceeds Idaho 18-3302K ENHANCED Concealed Weapon License requirement
Certificate recognized by all states as firearms training. 
(Although NOT for certain states' CCW requirements, see list at bottom of page)
$150 course fee
Includes NRA handbook, flyers & NRA Course Completion & Idaho State Police Training Certificates
Classes are small (7 at most).  PAID advance registration is required to reserve your seat. 
Class is open to Instructor-approved citizens who have no felonies or other legal disabler. 
Liability Release form signature required. 
Course consists of approximately 4 hours classroom, 4 hours on the range, 4 hours legal instruction.
Includes Basic Handgun Safety, Familiarization, Hands-on Firearms Handling & Firing Instruction.  
Several hours will be spent on the firing range bringing student skills up to standards.
Personal security & avoiding violent confrontations will be covered in depth.
Idaho State Law and Federal Law regarding firearms, concealed weapons, 
self-defense and after-event issues will be taught by a licensed Idaho defense attorney
 (who has formerly served as a prosecutor and as a deputy attorney general)  
A written test will be administered (it is possible to fail this course) 
Instructor reserves the right to dismiss anyone, anytime, without refund.
BRING: warm jacket & hat (it gets cold and windy at the desert shooting range), 
eye and ear protection and your handgun  
(if you do not have a handgun or eye/ear protection, I have a few loaners, let me know) 
2 boxes of 50 rounds of target ammunition as Idaho law requires at least 98 rounds for training,
a lunch/snacks, a notepad, highlighter, pencil, stickynotes. 

Group classes, individual lessons available 
DEFEND your Constitutional Firearm Rights, Join the NRA discounted memberships available, CALL ME
For further information on the above courses contact:
T. Allen Hoover
NRA Certified Instructor    NRA Training Counselor
(208) 631 3003     PO Box 6232 Boise ID 83707
Idaho (and as of July 1, at Boise State University and Idaho colleges)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Texas Stand Your Ground Law vs. Florida Stand Your Ground Law

I am reading through Texas Penal Code 9.31, which is the use of force statute, amended in 2007 to be a Stand Your Ground law.  It is noticeably more full of carefully thought out exceptions than Florida's law, and reading the case law associated with it, I can see why.  Obviously, the cases that were appealed were generally persons who were convicted, but wow!  What a bunch of losers!  And generally convicted because of the care of Texas law on this.

Solar Power in the Telescope Garage

I had mentioned a couple of months back that the 5W solar panel that I bought for solar power inventions a few years back seemed to be dead.  I went out to the telescope garage this afternoon, and discovered that it was apparently a problem of having the polarity to the battery minder wrong.  Once it was in direct sunlight after the polarity reversal, the tender showed that it was charging the 12V battery.

Measuring the power output, I found about 1.8W, which reflects what I have long suspected: that Harbor Freight's specifications on products may have a wide range of output.  Or perhaps it was because it was late afternoon.  On the other hand, at 8:20 PM, the battery minder still showed that it was charging the battery.

UPDATE: Never assume that your components work.  It was kinda Rube Goldberg, but attached to the battery terminals I put a alligator clamp to cigarette lighter adapter, then a 12 VDC cigarette lighter plug to 110 VAC converter, then I plugged in a lamp with a CFL bulb.  And nothing.  But after testing each component, I discovered the 12 VDC -> 110 VAC converter (originally purchased for a 2001 East Coast trip to recharge the Hi-8 camcorder) no longer works.  It would not power a cell phone recharger, for example. 

Of course, I don't have a 12 VDC light anywhere to try on a direct connection, but if I get serious about powering lamps, I am going to need something that does the 12 VDC -> 110 VAC conversion in a way that gives more than just one plug.

Browning Hi-Power Magazine Disconnect: Any Gunsmiths That Do This?

I could not find any gunsmiths in Boise that will remove the magazine disconnect, so I tried to do it myself.  Not because I am a cheapskate (although I am)--I would have gladly paid $50 to have it done--but gunsmiths around here are all skittish about the legal liability.  This makes no sense to me--how does making the gun more likely to hit the intended target dangerous?

These instructions were simple and clear.  Unfortunately, they do not work on later Hi-Powers.  By the time I was done, I managed to reassemble the gun, but the trigger no longer fires.  Yet recent articles like this indicate that gunsmiths routinely remove the magazine disconnector.  Any suggestions?

UPDATE: I found a local gunsmith willing to do this.  No need to ship it off.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Reality Is Optional: Doctors Abusing Children By Labeling Them Female or Male

Slate (as usual) is running articles for the reality-optional universe, such as this gem that tells us that doctors arbitrarily deciding that newborns are boys or girls is a form of abuse.  Even Ann Althouse, who supports gay marriage and all the rest of the sexually correct agenda, is taken aback by its insanity.  Doctors who actually study the problem of gender confusion have long known that gender reassignment surgery is garbage.  John Hopkins Medical School (hardly a center of right-wing reaction) stopped doing adult gender reassignment in 1989 because their own follow-up studies found that it wasn't helping people.  The problem wasn't their in their bodies, but in their minds.  This recent press release from Johns Hopkins indicates that the evidence in favor of infant gender reassignment for those born with intermediate sexual organs isn't effective, either.

But now that the LGB are in complete control, the T has to have their chance to run the society, too.

Great comment on Althouse's blog:
This is just the start! So many arbitrary and ignorant assignments are made for us in the first few weeks after birth - assignments that lock us into roles which we are not able to fulfill, and which do us tremendous damage throughout the rest of our misery-filled lives.
I, for instance, am stuck forever in my current role as a white male human - a role decided for me, without my input, in fact without knowledgeable input at all.
Only recently, after a lifetime of confusion, have I realized that I am actually a giraffe . . .

Great Way To Ingratiate Yourself With Your Constituents

A comment Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., made to political blog Politico has sparked fierce backlash from conservative groups. 
 Rahall, speaking to reporter Erica Martinson for a series on how national policy issues are affecting 2014 midterm elections, said substance abuse is a big reason coal miners can’t find jobs in Southern West Virginia.  
“Times are tough,” he told Martinson. “People turn to drugs — no question about it. Our coal companies can’t hire coal miners because they can’t pass a drug test.”
Even if generally true, this would be a really effective way to upset a lot unemployed coal miners, not just the dopers, but especially the ones who aren't.  But:
“As someone who screens and drug tests hundreds and hundreds of coal miners for potential employment in the mines, I can tell you that Nick Rahall’s comments are totally wrong and deeply offensive to the miners with whom I work,” Mike Grose of Elite Coal Services said in a statement issued by the Jenkins campaign.

“Since 2013, out of several hundred potential miners we’ve drug tested, just eight have tested positive. These hard-working men seeking employment are not the drug addicts Nick Rahall’s comments make them out to be.”
Remember when President Obama promised in 2008 to raise taxes on coal so much as to drive it out of business?  Rep. Rahall, there are consequences to your choice of president.

Why Does This Sound Like a Scene From a Cheech & Chong Movie?

From the June 27, 2014 Frederick (Va.) News-Post:
A trip to Sonic intended as a treat ended with a surprise twist for a Frederick woman.
Carla McFarland said she went to Sonic on Guilford Drive on Wednesday with her 6-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son after a trip to the library and a morning spent packing boxes. After passing chicken strips and fries to her children, McFarland, 35, reached into the bag for her own food and found a small plastic bag containing what appeared to be marijuana in a third container holding her own fries.
“I just kind of sat there in my car in shock,” McFarland said Thursday. “I kept thinking, what if my kids had eaten it?”
McFarland contacted Sonic's management and called police. McFarland said a manager also called police and told her that an employee took responsibility for the bag, saying that it must have slipped from her apron. The manager told her the employee had been fired. 

Really An Important Article About The Problem of Fraud in Science

The April 28, 2014 Pacific Standard has a lengthy article well worth reading in full about the problems of fraud and non-replicability in the social sciences.  A couple of disturbing excerpts:
Another recent incident was unsettling precisely because it could not simply be dismissed as deviant. Around the same time that Simmons published his tour de force, a paper by the respected Cornell psychologist Daryl Bem claimed to have found evidence that some people can react to events that are about to occur in the near future—a finding as ludicrous-sounding as Simmons’, but one that has been presented by its author as completely legitimate. Bem’s paper set off a frenzy of efforts within the field to debunk his findings. His colleagues’ concern wasn’t just that his paper seemed unbelievable, but that it threatened the whole enterprise of social psychology. After all, if you can follow all the methods and protocols of science and end up with an impossible result, perhaps there is something wrong with those methods and protocols in the first place.
Something unprecedented has occurred in the last couple of decades in the social sciences. Overlaid on the usual academic incentives of tenure, advancement, grants, and prizes are the glittering rewards of celebrity, best-selling books, magazine profiles, TED talks, and TV appearances. A whole industry has grown up around marketing the surprising-yet-oddly-intuitive findings of social psychology, behavioral economics, and related fields. The success of authors who popularize academic work—Malcolm Gladwell, the Freakonomics guys, and the now-disgraced Jonah Lehrer—has stoked an enormous appetite for usable wisdom from the social sciences. And the whole ecosystem feeds on new, dramatic findings from the lab. “We are living in an age that glorifies the single study,” says Nina Strohminger, a Duke post-doc in social psychology. “It’s a folly perpetuated not just by scientists, but by academic journals, the media, granting agencies—we’re all complicit in this hunger for fast, definitive answers.”
This article focuses on social psychology -- a field where, to be blunt, leftist politics is pretty darn thick, as some of the examples of non-reproducible experiments suggest.  I suppose if I could have some confidence that other points of view were widely represented (even 25% of the time), I would not be so darn skeptical of a lot of the stuff that comes out of the field.  The political monoculture of many academic disciplines makes them just too easy for both fraud and self-delusion to take over.

I am also pleased to see that part of the Reproducibility Project is demanding that studies supply the data pre-publication, as a way to more rapidly discover error, non-reproducibility, or fraud.  This has long been one of the problems with the gun control ideologues -- too often, "researchers" in this field will not share data.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

That Clock Not Updating Problem Turned Out To Be...

Seagate Manager, a not terribly useful hard disk management tool.  When I killed its task in the background, my clock started updating again.  I noticed that this problem appeared shortly after I installed the latest version on May 31.

BATFE Has Not Been Happy With Some of the 80% Machined AR-15 Lower Receivers

I hope this 0% machined version will make them happy.

It Makes You Wonder What Sort of Environmental Decisions This Government Employee Makes

Environmental Protection Agency workers have done some odd things recently....
It appears, however, that a regional office has reached a new low: Management for Region 8 in Denver, Colo., wrote an email earlier this year to all staff in the area pleading with them to stop inappropriate bathroom behavior, including defecating in the hallway.  
In the email, obtained by Government Executive, Deputy Regional Administrator Howard Cantor mentioned “several incidents” in the building, including clogging the toilets with paper towels and “an individual placing feces in the hallway” outside the restroom.
I'm guessing that the employee in question has some serious psychological problems.  Do you think it might be affecting their work performance?  Would anyone at EPA notice those?

Dalrymple On Dependency

Anthony Daniels long wrote under the nom de plume of Theodore Dalrymple, probably because he was an employee of the British government as a psychiatrist.  A very tragic discussion of the welfare state by Daniels is in the May/June 2014 Imprimis, published by Hillsdale College.  It is well worth reading in full, because it describes where we are headed.  A couple of choice segments:
I remember a population that was terrified of falling into dependence on the state, because such dependence, apart from being unpleasant in itself, signified personal failure and humiliation. But there has been an astonishing gestalt switch in my lifetime. Independence has now come to mean independence of the people to whom one is related and dependence on the state. Mothers would say to me that they were pleased to be independent, by which they meant independent of the fathers of their children -- usually more than one -- who in general were violent swine. Of course, the mothers knew them to be violent swine before they had children by them, but the question of whether a man would be a suitable father is no longer a question because there are no fathers: The state would provide.
 While Daniels is talking about what has happened in Britain, we are seeing the same situation with the rapidly rising disability rates in the U.S.:
One of the curious features of England in the recent past is that it has consistently maintained very high levels of state-subsidized idleness while importing almost equivalent numbers of foreigners to do unskilled work....
The governments of Britain, of both political parties, managed to lessen the official rate of unemployment by the simple expedient of shifting people from the ranks of the unemployed to the ranks of the sick.  This happened on such a huge scale that, by 2006--a year of economic boom, remember--the British welfare state had achieved the remarkable feat of producing more invalids than the First World War.  But it is known that the majority of those invalids had no real disease.

Some Things Were Not Meant To Be Mailed

The June 26, 2014 Idaho Statesman has an article about the job of the postal inspectors dealing with various unlawful items shipped through the mail.  I noticed this sign that might be interpreted as "drugs are bad for you":
Solmon said he's noticed an increase in drug mailings over the past year, particularly of marijuana. The legalization of recreational pot in Washington and Colorado isn't helping.
"Everybody thinks it's OK to send a pound (of pot) to Uncle Bob in the mail," Solmon said. "We're getting swamped."
I have to ask myself: "Do the people in Colorado and Washington not realize that in most other states, marijuana is not lawful?"  Perhaps too many days with bloodshot eyes and Twinkies for breakfast are interfering with normal intellectual processes.

Read more here:

Abortion Law Buffer Zone Struck Down By U.S. Supreme Court, 9-0

I have long felt that these buffer zone no-free-speech zones outside of abortion clinics were bizarre.  You could burn an American flag as protected free speech, but not hand out anti-abortion literature or verbally express your disapproval of abortion on public sidewalks.  The U.S. Supreme Court decided that wow, free speech even applies to abortion.  From the June 26, 2014 San Jose Mercury-News:
The high court justices unanimously concluded that a 35-foot zone around clinics that provide abortion services prevents protesters from any free speech rights, even though the justices made it clear such laws serve the state's "legitimate interests." The ruling hinged on the fact that the law, broader than most in other states and cities, restricted speech in public areas such as sidewalks and street entrances.
"The buffer zones burden substantially more speech than necessary," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court.
The ruling has been closely watched in California, which has a long history of court battles over regulation of protests outside abortion clinics. San Francisco, which has a 25-foot buffer zone around clinics, backed Massachusetts in the case, joined by 17 other U.S. cities. California was among 13 states also urging the Supreme Court to uphold the law.
The comments on this article are pretty interesting and disturbing as well.  You would get the impression that Christianity still plays some significant part in influencing Americans.  Perhaps someone is posting through a time-worm-hole from 1985.

When Your Government Won't Protect You...

A Wall Street Journal article in the June 27, 2014 Australian:
MANY people in northern Nigeria, frustrated by a five-year insurgency and what they call a lack of military protection, are ordering what passes for bulletproof clothing, buying homemade muskets and organising ragtag militias.
The move towards self protection — born of years of suicide ­attacks, shooting rampages and mass abductions of girls and boys — underscores what limited headway the military has made against Boko Haram, the Islamist insurgency whose war against the government has left more than 14,000 people dead in three years, according to New York’s Council on Foreign Relations.
It appears that they are buying home-made pistols and muskets.  I suspect that this is partly because of Nigerian gun control (which is pretty severe), and partly because of severe poverty. 

So Glad We Had a President Committed To The Little Guys During This Disaster

The richest 5 percent had 24 times the wealth of the median household in 2013 — up substantially from 16.5 times as much in 2007, according to a study by University of Michigan researchers.
Substantial gains in the stock market have enabled richer Americans to regain much of their wealth. Stock prices had plunged by nearly half during the recession but have recovered all their losses and set new highs. And roughly 10 percent of households own 80 percent of stocks.
By contrast, middle-class Americans remain further behind because whatever wealth they have is derived mainly from home equity. Home prices have only partially recovered from the housing bust. In the first quarter of this year, 18.8 percent of homeowners with a mortgage still owed more on their homes than they were worth, according to real estate data provider Zillow. An additional 18.1 percent have so little equity that it wouldn't be enough to cover closing costs and make a down payment, Zillow calculates.
Just imagine if one of those evil, wealth-loving Republicans had been President!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Another Reminder of the Weaponizing of IRS

From June 25, 2014 Fox News, one of the emails that survived the convenient hard disk crash:
Congressional investigators have uncovered emails showing ex-IRS official Lois Lerner targeted a sitting Republican senator for a proposed internal audit, a discovery one GOP lawmaker called "shocking." 
The emails were published late Wednesday by the House Ways and Means Committee and pertain to the woman at the heart of the scandal over IRS targeting of Tea Party groups. 
The emails appear to show Lerner mistakenly received an invitation intended for Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, in 2012. 
The event organizer, whose name is not disclosed, apparently offered to pay for Grassley's wife to attend the event, which caught Lerner's attention. The December 2012 emails show that in response, Lerner suggested to an IRS colleague that the case be referred for an audit. 
Fortunately, the person to whom Lerner sent the email pointed out that this wasn't illegal, and it appears that the proposal for what was obviously a politically motivated audit went nowhere.

Why Automated Inclusion of Warnings Is Sometimes Unintentionally Hilarious

I searched for tritium night sights for a Firestar 9mm pistol. Amazon has them, but with this warning:
WARNING:CHOKING HAZARD -- Small parts. Not for children under 3 yrs.
Yes, I can picture lots of people spending $175 for sights for a pistol for their toddler.

Beware Lunatic Fringe Sorts Who Blithely Talk About Murder

Unsurprisingly, they are progressive sorts.  Bearing Arms points to this disturbing argument from a progressive sort about why the government should be "mowing down" people who by their own admission are not serious criminals:
Namely, at what point does the federal government literally go to war with its own citizens? Because we're not talking about bank robbers here, we're talking about (mostly) non-criminal cranks -- scofflaws and political malcontents. So what line has to be crossed in the good old U.S. of A. before we start mowing them down to make our point? Because you can't talk about the Bundy ranch without talking about Ruby Ridge, and Waco.
So here's the political corner into which we've painted ourselves.
Do we have the ATF and BLM agents roll up in armored tanks? Do we use drone strikes? I can see the administration's reluctance to have that confrontation -- after all, it's not as if gun control advocates were flooding the White House switchboard, screaming to 'take them out!' And then we do have the militia types all over the country, just waiting for an excuse to start their own local uprising. [emphasis added]
There are some pretty extreme people out there whose actions are certainly provocative.  But I expect the government to be a bit better behaved than that.  The government has effectively a legal monopoly on initiating violence, and if they can't behave better than a small group of "political malcontents," we might be better with responsible adults in charge.  But notice the progressive willingness to "start mowing them down to make our point"?  This is the same thinking that gave us Mao's Red Guards, the Cheka, the SS, and any number of other progressive thugs who just couldn't wait to get their hands bloody.  Although I suspect that Susie Madrak, the progressive quoted above, would not want to dirty her own hands--she will rely on hired hands to do the dirty work.

People like Susie Madrak are a strong argument for a heavily armed population.

More Insight Than I Would Expect

A Minnesota teenager gets caught before the crime, and gives a chilling confession about why he was planning mass murder:
In the audio recordings released Tuesday, John LaDue, 17, appeared calm as he detailed his plans to set off bombs in his Waseca, Minnesota, school hallways.
“I was not bullied at all,” he told the police. “I don’t think I’ve ever been bullied in my life. I have good parents. I live in a good town. I think I’m just really mentally ill. And no one’s noticed, and I’ve been trying to hide it.”
Police said he wanted to kill his parents and his older sister.
“They did nothing wrong,” LaDue said, according to NBC affiliate KARE in Minneapolis. “I just want as many victims as possible.”

Yes, I think that's a pretty good description; he thinks he's mentally ill.  This guy does not seem to be even be engaged in the sort of weird self-pitying of the Isla Vista killer.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Limited Blogging: Arm and Neck Problems; Corvette Maintenance

I took the day off work because of neck and arm problems, which I think are rotator cuff muscle weakness.  I used to do exercises for this, but because I was having problems, sort of fell out of the habit.  I guess that I need to get back to it.  Unfortunately, I have been busily working on a presentation for the Texas Bar Association in September, and in combination with my day job, it seems to be too much for my body to do.

Instead, I spent the day icing my neck and left arm, and doing things that did not involve sitting in front of a computer, including reading the new textbook that we are using for U.S. History this fall.  Interesting items that I learned today: Lewis Tappan, one of the radical abolitionists who helped fund the Harper's Ferry raid, started a credit reporting agency that eventually became today's Dun & Bradstreet!

I also spent part of the day trying to make the weird squeaking and popping noises from the removable roof panel on the Corvette go away.  These problems were only severe on really bad roads, but they were present even on reasonably paved ones.  It turns out that there were four tricks:

1. Put O-rings on the pins where the roof panel slides into the body at rear of the panel.  This means that there is less room for this part of the panel to move around.

2. At the rear of the roof panel is a hook that grabs onto the body.  By removing a 2mm Allen head wrench, I was able to turn the hook clockwise one turn, making it latch the rear of the panel more securely to the body.  (This is an adjustment needed because of wear and age.)

3. The front of the roof panel has two latches which attach to corresponding brackets.  I loosened the 10mm bolts holding those brackets to the body, and moved each bracket down 1.5mm.  (Yes, using a micrometer.)

4. Spray silicone grease on the rubber seals (including the one that my wife and I replaced Saturday) to reduce the squeaking of rubber against rubber.

The net effect of all this is that the popping and squeaking on really bad roads, like the one between my driveway and the old highway, is about 20% of what it used to be.  On good roads, it is now almost completely gone.  Perhaps taking those front brackets down another 0.5mm would help, but it is so good now that I don't consider it objectionable on a removable roof panel car.  Of course, the downside of all this is that the installation and removal of the panel is a tighter than it was before, but unless I am trying to do remove or install in a rainstorm, or a riot, it is well worth it.

Monday, June 23, 2014

When Environmentalists Show That They Believe Their Own Claims...

From June 23, 2014 Telegraph:
One of Greenpeace’s most senior executives commutes 250 miles to work by plane, despite the environmental group’s campaign to curb air travel, it has emerged.
Pascal Husting, Greenpeace International’s international programme director, said he began "commuting between Luxembourg and Amsterdam" when he took the job in 2012 and currently made the round trip about twice a month.
The flights, at 250 euros for a round trip, are funded by Greenpeace, despite its campaign to curb "the growth in aviation", which it says "is ruining our chances of stopping dangerous climate change”.
One could almost get the impression that the global warming thing is all a big scam. 

How Anti-Violence Programs Turn Into Slush Funds

Days of Our Trailers links to two devastating news accounts of how Illinois Governor Quinn's Neighborhood Recovery Initiative to deal with the violence problem in Chicago is now producing federal and state criminal investigations of how the money was spent. From May 1, 2014 NBC Chicago:
Earlier this week, it was revealed that Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez had called a criminal investigation of the NRI. Quinn released more than 1,000 documents in response to a subpoena from Alvarez's office requesting the names and identities of people who received grants for projects linked to the program, for months the subject of controversy over alleged financial wrongdoing.
Although Quinn pulled the plug on the NRI last year, state money continues to flow into community anti-violence organizations from a different agency he oversees called the Criminal Justice Information Authority (CJIA).
It is about what you would expect from Chicago: gang members paid to distribute anti-violence flyers (that will give it credibility); political hacks with connections getting paid very well but who now can't remember how much they received; efforts directed not at the most violent parts of the city, but the parts with the most pull.

The June 21, 2014 Chicago Sun-Times reports that even the study to see how well the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative worked was flawed and possibly corrupt:
The state spent almost half a million dollars on a flawed study of Gov. Pat Quinn’s now-defunct anti-violence program — the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative — after officials rejected a more rigorous evaluation that would have been free, auditors say.
The $498,351 study by the University of Illinois at Chicago didn’t even examine whether the program helped reduce violence, according to Auditor General William Holland’s office.
Funny, but I would think that knowing whether a program designed to reduce violence actually reduced violence would be kind of important.  So what did this half a million dollar study actually measure?
But Shaw decided to award a no-bid contract to UIC to do a less rigorous “process evaluation” at a cost of nearly $500,000, auditors said. 
It does not seem to say it directly, but it appears that this study was really trying to figure out if all the money that was being spent was going where it was supposed to go.  If the primary goal is to buy people off, then I suppose that matters more than whether an anti-violence program actually reduces violence.  And there are serious questions whether this study even produced meaningful data on what it was supposed to measure.

I am beginning to wonder if Chicago deserves what it gives itself.

Replacing the Corvette's Halo Seal

And you thought Corvettes had devil horns, not haloes! :-)  The halo seal is the piece of rubber that goes from the bottom of the driver's door, over the top of the car, to the bottom of the passenger's door, behind the driver's head, where the removable top goes.  This seal degrades over time because of ozone and UV damage, and the constant removal and installation of the removable top.  Side effects of the degradation include water leaks (which have not been a problem for me), and wind noise (which has).

I bought a replacement halo seal from Midamerica Motorworks (the upgraded quality one for $119.95).  The Chevy dealer would have replaced the seal for something approaching $400, so I figured that if I couldn't do it, I was only out $120.  If I could do it, it would be a big savings.

My wife and I spent two hours on this operation, and I am so glad that I had her help.  She has spatial intelligence that I often lack.  At one point, we were supposed to be able to press the seal into a channel, but we just could not get it to pop in and stay in.  At this point, she suggested spraying the channel and the seal with cooking spray, and sliding it in from the side.  It took a couple of tries, but this solved the problem.

Anyway, the car is noticeably quieter from wind noise than it was before.  There is still a bit of a rattle and squeak problem on gravel roads, but this indicates that O-rings are a quick and easy solution that works for many, and lithium grease on the weatherstripping will solve most of the squeaks.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Help Joseph Wilcox's Family

The hero who tried to stop the Millers rampage in Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago was Joseph Wilcox.  He left a family trying to rebuild from this tragedy.  Make checks to "Wilcox Family" and mail them to:

Trauma Intervention Program
500 North Casino Center Boulevard
Las Vegas, NV 89101
Alternatively, Wells Fargo Bank and Bank of America customers can transfers funds to:
Joseph R. Wilcox Memorial Fund 
account number 8485852688

Friday, June 20, 2014

Irrational Car Lust

If I had more money than sense, I would immediately buy this beauty on eBay:

Yeah, yeah, I know, it would be a money sink beyond belief, and the 1970 Opel GT was not even much of a sports car then.  Today, it would be as sporty as most SUVs.  They are still pretty and cute.

Bad Boys Still In Demand

Elliott Rodger's whining about how women preferred brutes instead of "magnificent gentlemen" like himself was a bit hard to take seriously -- but the harsh reality is that bad boys are still in high demand by young women of limited taste.  (Dorothy Parker observed that most women would rather be beautiful rather than intelligent because most men can see better than they can think.  The situation has crossed gender lines, I fear.) See the coverage of the drooling over a guy being held on felony weapons charges in Stockton:
Meeks' police mugshot generated 10,914 likes and 2,400 comments from Wednesday night to Thursday morning, many from women claiming to admire his looks.
"Hottttttt," Melissa Stiles wrote.
"Omg come to mama," Nicole Seba Lorena Elena commented.
"Holy [heck] i would arrest him too..hottest bad boy I've seen," Ellie Abbey wrote.
"He can kidnap me anyday... Hold me against my will lol," Jessica Gutierrez commented.
Some with more sense observed:
"$900,000 in bail and 6 felonies. You ladies are desperate," Amber Gomes wrote. 

Kansas Opens State Capitol The Concealed Carry

Gunwatch reports that the Kansas legislature has decided to allow concealed carry licensees to carry into the statehouse.  Glad to hear that.  A number of states recognize the safety advantages of allowing their most carefully checked citizens to be armed.  Like Idaho.

No Surprise Here; NATO Chief Says Russia Supporting Anti-Fracking Groups

From June 19, 2014 Telegraph:
Russia is secretly working with environmental groups campaigning against fracking in an attempt to maintain Europe's dependence on energy imports from Moscow, the secretary-general of Nato has said.
Speaking at the Chatham House foreign affairs think-tank in London, Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Russia was mounting a sophisticated disinformation campaign aimed at undermining attempts to exploit alternative energy sources such as shale gas.
He said: "I have met allies who can report that Russia, as part of their sophisticated information and disinformation operations, engaged actively with so-called non-governmental organisations - environmental organisations working against shale gas - to maintain European dependence on imported Russian gas. That is my interpretation."

Gun Control Failure: Florida Prison Inmates Shoot Themselves To Sue Prison

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has charged seven people based upon a scheme by two inmates to sue the Florida Department of Corrections after self-inflicting gunshot wounds.  Five are in custody and two are at-large.
FDLE began its investigation in March after two inmates were shot with a .25 caliber Beretta semi-automatic pistol inside Columbia Correctional Institution in Lake City.  Inmates Kirk Cartwright, 33, and Deshandre Billups, 26, told investigators they were shot by an unknown person while praying inside their cell.  However, investigators found that the inmates conspired to bring a gun into the prison through the mail, and shoot themselves with the intent of suing the prison system.

Cartwright and Billups are accused of smuggling contraband items into the prison without detection of staff.  Investigators said the pair routinely smuggled in cellphones and drugs which they sold to other inmates or kept for themselves.  According to FDLE, Family members and friends of the two inmates, along with inmate Tony Underwood, 21, helped in the scheme.]
Amazingly enough, this is not the first time that I have seen this.  Some years ago, there was an epidemic of shootings in New York City jails involving smuggled in guns.  Think about it: a prison can't even keep guns outside, when those responsible for searches and inspections have a powerful incentive to be really, really careful about this, for fear of getting shot themselves.  How in the world do the gun control advocates think they can make this work at a national level?

Colorado's Idiot Governor

The June 20, 2014 Denver Post is reporting Governor Hickenlooper's contradictory, confusing, and now non-statements about the 15 round magazine limit bill he signed last year:
After several days of fallout over his comments on gun control laws to a recent gathering of county sheriffs, Gov. John Hickenlooper has managed to baffle both victims-rights advocates and Second Amendment supporters.
The governor's conflicting comments on his support for a controversial 2013 law limiting ammunition magazines has added traction to the argument from critics that he's unwilling to take definitive stances in his role as leader of the state.
It appears that Hickenlooper is telling lie after lie to not be held responsible for signing a bill that was strictly symbolic and served no actual value in improving public safety -- and which has most of the state's sheriffs suing to have it overturned.  Yet, this last session, the Colorado legislature considered (and failed to pass) a bill that would likely have prevented the Aurora tragedy: removing the requirement for imminent danger for an emergency mental health lockup.  James Holmes' psychiatrist had contacted police about Holmes. This breaking of doctor/patient confidentiality indicates that she believed that she was subject to Tarasoff warning requirements, and thus she believed Holmes was dangerous to others. Yet because of the requirement for imminent danger (for those not previously hospitalized), nothing happened until it was way too late.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Some Ideas Are Terrorism, According To Hilary Clinton

From a June 17, 2014 event where Hilary Clinton spoke in Maryland, from the CNN transcript, where she addresses the question of gun control:
I'm well aware that this is a hot political subject. And again, I will speak out no matter what role I find myself in. But I believe that we need a more thoughtful conversation. We cannot let a minority of people -- and that's what it is, it is a minority of people -- hold a viewpoint that terrorizes the majority of people.
 Viewpoints that terrorize a majority of people?  By this definition, support for same-sex marriage (until about ten years ago), unlimited abortion on demand, decriminalizing marijuana, decriminalizing homosexual (until about twenty years ago) are each of them a "viewpoint that terrorizes the majority of people."

The fascist nature of the Democratic Party is fully exposed.

Straight People Not Allowed

The June 18, 2014 British Independent reports on plans to build an LGBT-only housing community in the Netherlands.  Hey, if someone wants to ghettoize themselves and keep out straight people, fine, freedom of association and all.  But I am sure that the reverse would never be allowed.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Georgia's New Gun Law

A Wall Street Journal reporter called to ask some questions about the problems of data analysis and the new Georgia gun control law.  I had to study fast to make sure that I understood it.  Just about all of it makes sense, as long as you are a responsible adult.  For a number of years, you have been allowed to carry concealed in a bar, but you couldn't drink.  Now you can drink -- although not to intoxication.  A beer with dinner shouldn't really be a problem, although I do worry that it might impair your performance if you actually have to draw a weapon.  And of course, there are irresponsible sorts for whom, "One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor" is not just a funny saying.  I suspect that Georgia licensees that irresponsible are pretty rare, and will be weeded out pretty quickly, hopefully without gunfire.

Another provision that must seem pretty terrifying to the gun control crowd repeals the requirement that persons who have voluntarily committed themselves to a mental hospital are ineligible for a concealed carry license.  Sometimes people voluntarily commit themselves to avoid being involuntarily committed.  On the other hand, there are people with serious depression or anxiety problems who might be reluctant to seek treatment for fear of being disqualified from a concealed carry license in the future.  I suspect that this is another one of those provisions that will be a net gain, but you don't have to be a hoplophobe to be slightly nervous.

It also appears that even involuntary commits might get a license, at the discretion of a judge, based on the recommendations of those treating him.  Again, I can understand some nervousness; it rather depends on how sensibly judges in Georgia use that discretion.  Some people have short-term problems that lead to involuntary commitment, and those problems are cured or go away.

My Son Was Sent Out By Channel 6 To Film This Segment About a B-25

Cool story, especially the 93 year old World War II Army Air Corps veteran.

This Might Actually Be A Medication-Related Mass Murder

This June 17, 2014 Richmond Times-Dispatch article is about what is actually a surprisingly common type of mass murder, but one that is seldom given national coverage: a domestic violence incident.  What makes this so weird is: no previous criminal or mental illness history; no history of domestic disputes.  Instead, there is this very disturbing description:
In a post from July 2012 about an ongoing problem with double vision, which apparently developed after he was hit in the head some weeks earlier, Jernigan complained that the medication he was taking may cause mood changes, sadness and suicidal thoughts.
“I’ve got a great wife and kids,” Jernigan wrote less than two months earlier. “God could not give me anything better than them. I have a great new job, money and a new house. Everyone close to me is so happy for us. So why am I so down and stressed?”
Or, perhaps, there was some neurological damage from being hit in the head? 

UPDATE: A reader commented on a bad hallucinatory experience he had with Percocet.  I had a co-worker many years ago who was given Percocet after his finger was crushed in a car door. He sat up, reading, then turned off the lights.  At this point, he noticed that the wall of his bedroom was full of cubbyholes with little creatures in them, with sharp fangs, discussing how to eat him.

He turned on the light. They went away.

He turned off the light.  They came back.

He turned on the light and read for a bit longer.  The next time he turned off the light, they were gone.

Imagine if such hallucinations went on for weeks.

IRS "Lost" Two Years Of Lois Lerner's Emails

June 16, 2014 The Hill has an article about how the IRS claims that it has lost all of Lois Lerner's emails from 2009 to 2011 -- the period when IRS was busily auditing Tea Party associated non-profits.  How convenient!  And how utterly unbelievable.  There must be some really impeachment-worthy stuff in those emails.

Not that anyone under 35 cares about criminal misuse of the IRS.

UPDATE: Even more convenient: six other IRS employees involved in the auditing of non-profits also have emails that can't be found.  These emails must have impeachable offenses in them.

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Las Vegas Killers & Their Occupy Past

From June 10, 2014 CBS Chicago:
While living in Lafayette, Jerad and his wife Amanda took part in last November’s “Million Mask March” – a gathering of protesters from the Occupy movement, anarchists, and hacktivists.
Nick Wertz, one of the organizers of the Lafayette march, said it attracted many people upset over a lot of issues.
“Everyone there just seem kind of like normal people. At least they were going to stick up with what they thought was right,” he said.
I won't claim that the Millers involvement with this Occupy-related demonstration makes them Occutards, but it certainly blows holes in the claims that they were "right-wingers."  A better description is very angry people looking for any cause to let them vent their rage.

Totalitarian Governments & Guns

It is an article of faith in some circles that totalitarian governments have nothing to fear from privately owned guns.  This June 12, 2014 Telegraph article lists some of the new rules that the ISIS government has announced:
No drugs, no alcohol and no cigarettes allowed," it added.
No public gathering other than those organised by ISIS will be allowed at any stage. No guns will be allowed outside of its ranks.
All tribal leaders and sheikhs in the area have been warned not to co-operate with the state.
In a warning to the police, soldiers and other "kaffr" bodies the choice is to repent or face the ultimate punishment. The group said it will open "special places" for repentance.
Outlining its sectarian bias it declared all shrines, graveyards and monuments will be destroyed.
Finally all women must dress in concealing clothing that preserve decency. Females should only go outside "if necessary". [emphasis added]

Is It Really A War If One Side Pretends It Isn't?

After the torture murders of non-Muslims at the mall in Nairobi a few months, now we have this, from the June 16, 2014 Daily Mail:
Somali militants who murdered 48 people in a Kenyan village as they watched the World Cup went door to door asking residents if they were Muslim or spoke Somali - and shot them dead if either answer was 'no', witnesses revealed today.
The attack on the coastal village of Mpeketoni, about 30-miles southwest of the tourist centre of Lamu, came at the end of a weekend of bloodshed that has exposed the world to the shocking depravity of terrorists, apparently emboldened by each other's acts.
Witnesses told how about 30 gunmen - believed to be members of Somali terror group al-Shabaab - arrived in the town in minibuses at 8pm yesterday before bursting into residents homes, shooting dead any man they thought was not Muslim.
'They came to our house at around 8pm and asked us in Swahili whether we were Muslims,' said Anne Gathigi. 'My husband told them we were Christians and they shot him in the head and chest.'

Read more: Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

From the June 13, 2014 Washington Post:
The first thing you hear is the music. It lilts and sways. Then you see the Islamist militants. They’re knocking at a policeman’s door. It’s the middle of the night, but the cop soon answers. He’s blindfolded and cuffed. They take him to the bedroom. And then, reports say, they decapitate him with a knife. 
Another video captures militants with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) herding hundreds of boys and Iraqi soldiers down a highway to an unknown fate.   “Repent,” ISIS told inhabitants of its newly conquered territory on Thursday. “But anyone who insists upon apostasy faces death.”
Death was everywhere in the sacked the city of Mosul, a strategically vital oil hub and Iraq’s largest northern city. One reporter said an Iraqi woman in Mosul claimed to have seen a “row of decapitated soldiers and policemen” on the street. Other reports spoke of “mass beheadings,” though The Washington Post was not able to confirm the tales.
But the United Nations Human Rights chief, Navi Pillay, said the summary executions “may run into the hundreds” and that she was “extremely alarmed.”
This June 13, 2014 Associated Press report in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune describes many of these decapitation videos that the Islamists are uploading as part of their campaign of both terror and recruitment. That there are any significant number of Muslims who would find the chance to slowly cut a conscious person's head off with a knife so attractive that these are recruiting videos says a lot about the state of Islam in that part of the world.

There is a war between the most insane of Islamists and non-Muslims (and any Muslims not insane enough for the Islamists).  So far, this war is being fought mostly in the Third World, but it is a pretty strong certainty that it is going to come to our shores again.  And I am sure that the left will continue to blame Bush, rather than recognize that this war has been going on for 1500 years, waxing and waning as non-Muslim societies have shown the strength of character to fight it.

Finally Dragged The Scope Out Saturday Night

We finally are getting some clear nights (although far less than usual).  My sister and her grandson were visiting from Southern California, so I dragged the big scope out across the wonderful new asphalt surface, and set it up.

Ring Nebula (M57): with 17.5" of aperture, you get not just a delicate smoke ring around a star, you actually get color: greenish to me, bluish to my sister.

Saturn was pretty awesome -- the rings are quite a more open than the last time I looked at them.

The Moon was as usual overwhelming as it came up over the mountains.

Two downsides:

1. I did not drag the scope out early enough, and the mirror was still adjusting to the outside temperature.  You could see the slight changes affecting image over time.

2. I either have forgotten how to use the Sky Commander, or something has gone wrong.  I could not get it to switch to show me a list of planets.  (Saturn was a bit fainter than usual, and it took a while to identify the non-twinkler between Antares and Mars as Saturn.)

UPDATE: Yes, re-reading the Sky Commander manual reminded what I was doing wrong.

Some Cases Are Just Too Stupid To Bring To The Supreme Court

This isn't really a Second Amendment issue.  A guy named Bruce Abramski offered to buy a gun from a dealer for his uncle.  Abramski had no intention of buying the gun for himself; this is the legal definition of a strawman purchase, a federal crime.  Abramski's defense was essentially that his uncle wasn't a prohibited person.  His uncle could have bought the gun from a dealer and passed the background check.

Now, there might be a good argument that the law is stupid; it should only treat a strawman purchase as a serious crime if the ultimate destination of the gun is a prohibited person.  But that isn't what the law says.  Now, Justice Scalia makes the argument in the dissent that the false statement made by Abramski was not material to the lawfulness of the sale.  I suppose if Abramski had not know about the strawman purchase prohibition, or it had not been prominently featured in the question on the Form 4473, I would be a bit more sympathetic.  But this is a pretty simple question: are you buying this gun for yourself, or for someone else?

Anyway, Abramski lost before the Supreme Court 5-4 -- and so now has a federal felony that will forever prohibit him from owning a gun.  Don't do someone a favor by buying them a gun.  The consequences can be quite serious.

UPDATE: A commenter over at Shall Not Be Questioned pointed to this very disturbing 2010 Roanoke Times article about Abramski.  It appears that the strawman purchase was because  he was trying to take advantage of his law enforcement officer discount to get his uncle a deal on a gun.  And then there were bank robbery charges that were dropped.  And a court-ordered mental health evaluation.

UPDATE 2: This is really a very minor technical violation.  He transferred the gun to his uncle through another Federal Firearms Licensee, who had to do the background check.  I suspect that all the other weirdness (the bank robbery charge, threats against police officers, mental health evaluation) caused what was at most a technical violation of the law to be turned into a completely overblown case, rather like the Chemical Weapons Treaty case that the Supreme Court disposed of last month.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Wilcox Fund

I wish that there was a way to make a contribution online -- I suspect that a lot of people would kick in $5 or $10 if it was a PayPal account, but for the hero who tried (and failed) to stop the killers in Las Vegas:

A memorial fund has been set up for Joseph Wilcox at Wells Fargo. Those who wish to contribute to the Joseph R. Wilcox Memorial Fund can do so using account number 8485852688.

I suspect that any Wells Fargo branch could accept a contribution.

A Father's Day Gift

Whenever you find yourself frustrated with childrearing, there comes a moment when your child appreciates what you have done:
Dear Dad,

I was a terrible kid.  I cringe when I think of our fights when I was an awful teenager; one who was cruel and angry.  I resented the way you yelled and got so frustrated at us.  I struggled with your logical, detached way of looking at things when I was so emotional. 

I resented your quick temper and how simple discussions escalated into fights in our driveway (I shudder to think of what the neighbors thought).  I struggled with feeling frustrated as a young adult, how I both loved you and felt rejected at the same time.

Deep down, I wanted you to be proud of me and verbalize that.  A lot.  I wanted to feel like you were proud of me, even when I wasn’t living up to my potential.

I promised myself that when I was a parent, I would be different.  I wouldn’t be the “yeller.”  I would be calm all. the. time.  I would smother my children in kisses and tell them I was proud daily.  Or hourly.

Everything changed when I had my daughter.  I was blessed with a tiny version of myself.  A tiny, stubborn little girl, who was convinced she knew what was best for her at age two.  All of the facets that make me a good adult – tenacity, intelligence, no fear of standing up for myself – were incredibly frustrating packaged in a child with limited verbal skills and insight.  Suddenly, I realized how short my fuse really was.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Corvette Radiator Repairs

Ouch!  The bill was $785, but I had a 10% off coupon that made it merely painful.  On the plus side, even today, when I was driving home in 96o weather, with the air conditioning on, the cooling system stayed between 192o and 210o.  Across the Sahara at 100 MPH?  Not even slightly worried.

The other plus is that the engine feels a bit peppier -- which is not surprising.  Engine output is partly determined by the difference in temperature   I have a vague memory that Carnot cycle explains this.  But I can feel a bit more punch, now that the engine is running 350 - 450 cooler.

The bad news is that they say I should have a tuneup soon (about $700) and the harmonic balancer is degrading (about $820), and should be replaced in six months or a year.

Heroes Don't Always Get To Take The Applause

Mr. Wilcox, a concealed carry licensee who tried to stop the neo-Nazi pair in Las Vegas a few days ago, died a hero.  At least that is what Las Vegas police called him.  In this case, his family has lost a loved one, and a breadwinner.  The radio station 94.1 (I presume in Las Vegas) has raised more than $13,000 to help out his family.  If anyone is aware of a more permanent, long-term arrangement to provide them with assistance, please let me know. 

Being a hero is costly; let's do what we can to help out a grieving family.

Cantor's Loss: A Reminder That Money Matters, But Not Entirely

Megan McArdle at Bloomberg News points out that in spite of the bellyaching from the left about the Citizens United decision, money isn't always the decider of elections.  Cantor, the incumbent (which is already a big advantage) outspent his challenger better than 40:1 -- and still was decisively clobbered.

She also points out that for all the whining the left does about too much money in politics, removing it would change our governmental system in a way that the left doesn't like:
Brat’s politics are actually emblematic of what I imagine even more outsider-amenable, money-prone politics would look like. There has been a lot of ink spilled lamenting research by Martin Gilens showing that politicians seem to be more responsive to the concerns of the elite than to the concerns of middle- and low-income voters. When this is soberly discussed at think-tank panels, you tend to hear a lot about the minimum wage and unemployment benefits. You tend to hear less about gay rights, abortion and free speech, issues where our politics is also much more responsive to elites than the poor. Liberal positions on immigration, foreign aid and free trade also find more support among the rich than the poor.
If it is true that money can at least help buy elections, and if this is a factor in the fact that American politics leans toward the concerns of the wealthy, then getting the money out of politics would produce a Congress more inclined to raise the minimum wage, as well as create more generous unemployment benefits and richer national health-care benefits -- but also one that is more nativist and socially conservative. If Brat did indeed win because he went after Cantor on immigration, this exemplifies what those candidates would look like.
No great surprise.  Leftist politics are really the politics of rich people -- those who can easily afford income tax increases (because they usually include special tax breaks that few people who work for a living can afford), most Americans working at minimum wage, or close to it, and gay marriage.