Saturday, November 30, 2013

Tracing Samuel McIlvaine's Route Into Kentucky

While we were in Indiana, I suddenly decided that since Kentucky was not far away, we would try to retrace the path that Samuel McIlvaine took when his Indiana 10th Volunteer Infantry went to save the Union from those secesh traitors!  I did not have a copy of the published version of his diary with me, but this did not much matter.

I knew that he marched through Louisville, and through Bardstown on several occasions, so we headed through Lafayette, Indianapolis, and then Louisville.

The trees were beginning to turn as we drove south:

Here's the bridge at Louisville, as you enter Kentucky:

Once you enter Kentucky, even the rest stops try to get that Southern mansion feel:

Once you enter Bardstown, you see lots of well-preserved early 19th century and even late 18th century buildings.  These are on the main drag of town; I am sure that Samuel marched past some of these:

Every place has something for which it is famous, and Bardstown is no exception:

More fine mansions as we left town, although as Samuel reminded his diary, the curse of slavery hung over this beautiful land.

Do I Feel Great!

Along with the interval training approach, I spent today walking at a constant speed.  After eleven minutes warming up (2.5 MPH, then 3.0, then 3.5), I walked for nineteen minutes at 4.0 MPH on the treadmill.  My pulse varied between 108 and 143, but at no point was I ever tired or in any discomfort.  I could feel that this was demanding -- but I did not break a sweat.  I am convinced that I could walk at 4.0 MPH for a couple of hours without problem.  For a man of almost 57, and one carrying about 30-40 more pounds than I should, I feel pretty darn good.

If I Were a Medieval Pheasant, I Would Be Afraid, Too

In an otherwise very well-written paper: "fearful pheasants began accusing poor women of witchcraft by means of controlling the weather."  If I were a pheasant during the Middle Ages, I would be afraid as well.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Shameful Black Friday Behavior

One of the strongest criticisms of the materialist focus is how badly people are starting to behave.  When I was young, scenes like might have been plausible because food was in short supply.  But watching scenes like this, I can find myself in agreement with (and that does not happen often):
If Americans behave like this over electronic slave goods, imagine how they will react when the food runs out.

Twelve Years a Slave Review Up At PJMedia

We Need Movies That Tell the Truth About Slavery

Windows 7 File Sharing With XP PCs: This Started Out As A Request For Help...

But when I went through this magic sequence, the problem went away!  Documenting a problem is the first step towards solving it.

The XP boxes and the Windows 7 box are all in the workgroup named WORKGROUP.  (The Windows 7 HomeGroup feature only works between Windows 7 PCs.)  The XP PCs can see each other, and Windows 7 can see the PC directories.  The XP PCs can see Users\Default and Users\Public directories on the Windows 7 box -- but they can't see the Users\Clayton Cramer there.  I have done this from that directory on the Windows 7 PC:

1. Right click.

2. Properties

3. Sharing

4. Share... Add Everyone Read/Write Share Close

5. Advanced Sharing... Permissions Full Control OK

6. OK

7. Close

Password protection is turned off.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Almost Done With Windows 7 Install

This time, since I was confident that it would run okay on this older dual core notebook, I remove the extra partition, and did a standard install of Windows 7 on top of Windows XP.  Not too surprisingly, it took longer to install on top of an existing Windows XP load.  I am still struggling a bit with file sharing permissions from one of the XP systems to this, but not the other.  And I still haven't finished getting the HP device drivers installed for the printers.

UPDATE: The drivers for the HP printers are installed, everything is working fine -- although there is still something a bit wrong with file sharing -- I can't seem to change from "Nobody" to "Homegroup (Read/Write)" on the Windows 7 PC.  

I was pleased to see that the Windows 7 installer made a copy of all my old XP files. This is especially important because it appears that my backup to the external hard disk missed a lot of file.

But this is likely the last that I will post today.  The smell of turkey is permeating the entire house.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Why Blue Laws Exist

It used to be the case that many states, especially in the Northeast, had laws that prohibited Sunday selling, and some other holidays.  The goal was simple: to enforce the Sabbath, and provide some protection for employees whose employers might otherwise require them to work on holidays.

I am not keen on the government telling businesses when they can and can't be open, but articles like this should be a reminder to those who think that there should be no laws enforcing moral codes what the consequences will be in the liberal utopia.  From November 27, 2013 NBC News:
After working his way up from cook to general manager at the company, Tony Rohr was fired, he said, for refusing to open his Elkhart, Ind., store on Thanksgiving, which he was told was mandatory.

"I just decided I wasn't going to agree to it," Rohr said. "All of these people the whole year had been told they were going to have the day off."

He said that in his 10 years with the company, this was the first time any location has asked him to work on Thanksgiving.
Many spots are opening on the national holiday in an effort to squeeze out extra sales from holiday shoppers.
UPDATE: A reader points out that the marginal profit from being open one day that few people will be ordering pizza might have been $1000; the ill-will it will build for that franchisee and Pizza Hut in general, will cost far more than $1000.  And especially in a place like Elkhart, Ind., where family doubtless means more to most of the inhabitants than making a little extra money.  (In Democrat-controlled areas, of course, the equation might yield a different result.)  Doing the right thing in this case would likely have been more profitable, in the long run, than chasing a few extra dollars.

I am reminded of Adam Smith's observations in Theory of Moral Sentiments where he explained why Invisible Hand is capitalized in his later work, The Wealth of Nations: he believed that God had created a system whereby enlightened self-interest (as opposed to short-term greed), which is inherent in all of us, leads inevitably to a better result for all than the imposition of rules from on high.

Overuse of "Tactical"

Everyone wants a "tactical" rifle.  But I think this may be a misuse of the adjective: The Ruger 10/22 Tactical Autoloading Rifle:

Of course, you really should go out and buy several dozen to keep my Sturm, Ruger stock flying high.

Newest Law Review Article Out By Dave Kopel, Myself, and Joe Olson

In 47:1 University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform 167-215 (2013).

Nice Collection of Books in The Picture

A reader pointed me to Instapundit's review of the Laserlyte practice system which includes a picture of the target on a bookshelf -- and I completely failed to notice the book just left of the target.

Just A Reminder: If You Are Buying From Amazon Anyway....

Click the Amazon search tool on the right side of the blog and it throws a few pennies into my pocket.  Can you buy a jet through Amazon?  That would throw more than a few pennies...

Unintentional Honesty, Perhaps Caused By Language Deficiency?

Yes, I'm tempted to buy a 3D printer, not for guns, but for telescope accessory manufacturing.  This description of the FlashForge 3D printer on Amazon has some unintentional honesty.  I wonder if this is because "English is my second language, and the subtle meaning of 'craze' is lost on me."
Manufactured and sold in China, the FlashForge Creator is a high quality, dual extruder, 3D printer that provides an affordable way to join the desktop 3D printing craze.
I would love to see one of these in action.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Mustaches and Transphobia

I have always regarded the whole "transgender" this as bizarre.  Yes, there are a few people who are born with quite confused plumbing, and a few who I suspect legitimately have some hormonal difficulties that may lead to confusion -- but does anyone else find it plausible that much of the "transgender" stuff is some form of confusion caused by sexual abuse?  One of the comments on this article about how growing mustaches is "transphobic" captures my reaction perfectly:
Maybe I want to live the remainder of my life as a great white shark. Shall I demand that I be referred to as trans-species? Should I have laws protecting my choice to live as a fish? Does it matter one whit that I am NOT A FISH? Why shouldn't I have special consideration for my fabulous fishiness? The illogical supposition that is 'transgendered' dictates that my choice to live the life of an aquatic carnivore should be respected and protected by special laws, special laws that protect my special lifestyle choices.

Who Buys Something Like This... and Only Drives It 693 Miles?


2012 Ferrari 458 Spider Base - $354,995
And yes, if you go look at the picture, you may not stop panting.  But who buys a car that costs as much as a modest house in some parts of California, and then drives it 693 miles in a year?  What's the point of a car like this if not to drive it?  I'm a bit annoyed that someone would spend this absurd amount of money on a car, but then to not drive it?

Long-Term Capital Gains Rates Are Still Lower Than Ordinary Income!

Well, at least for me and most of my readers.  I somehow thought the Obamanation of Desolation had managed to get the lower long-term capital gain tax rates back up to the standard income tax rates, but it turns out that long-term capital gain tax rates are still 15% for most of us, and qualified dividends are at that same rate.

Fishing In A Very Small Pond

I see some interesting job ads.  There's not any point in applying for them because of my age, but they are sometimes amusing to read, like this ad that appeared on Boise Craig's List:
 If you're looking to help make a difference in a company, developing existing and new software in Object Pascal (in addition to a host of other technologies),
Object Pascal?  What?  I thought Pascal had joined Etruscan and RPG II in the dead languages category, and now an employer is looking for people with Object Pascal experience?  Are they going to be waiting for a while?

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Friend Had An Unfortunate Encounter With A Tornado

You will have to click the link to see it.  Safe for work, unless you are an insurance company.

Statistics on Unaffordable Care Act Applications

Kaiser Family Foundation has a table of statistics from the various states show how many people applied for insurance through the various exchanges, how many applied for Medicaid, and so on.  What is pretty astonishing is how few people actually signed up in the first month (or more, for some states), considering that there was supposedly a major crisis of uninsured people in the U.S., and the presumed urgency of the need for health insurance.  In the whole country: 202,942 selected one of the market place plans, and 510,586 where "Determined or Assessed Eligible for Medicaid/CHIP."  As a percentage of the U.S. population, these are .06% and 0.16% of the population.  This raises one of several possibilities:

1. Demand is huge and really screwed up -- but this seems to include phone and paper signups as well.

2. There are far fewer people who are uninsured than popular media and common sense suggests.

3. Many of these uninsured Americans are not spectacularly concerned about getting health insurance.

4. Many of these uninsured Americans are illegal aliens, and thus ineligible.

Twelve Years a Slave (2013)

I will be trying to sell a review of this film to PJMedia, so I will keep this short: a few liberties with the book, but a powerful film based on the true story of Solomon Northup, a free black from Syracuse New York, kidnapped in 1841 and sold into slavery.  R-rated for unflinching and quite accurate violence.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Vast Quantities of Spam

Reinstalling Thunderbird under Windows 7 means that it is starting over with spam rules to filter out spam.  The sheer quantity of this trash that was previously arriving and being Bayesian filtered away is astonishing; it is hard to distinguish from a weird form of denial of service attack.  I am beginning to see why a lot of people switch to gmail or other spam filtering oriented email systems.

I Am Really Tired of Getting Emails From the Future

One of the best signs that a piece of email is spam is that the date sent is somewhere decades in the future.  I get a lot of these time traveler spams.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Installing Windows 7. Finally.

What made this complicated is that I was not completely sure that Windows 7 would run on this somewhat antiquated HP Pavilion DX5126 laptop, so I needed to install it on a second disk drive.  What's the easier way to do that?  Repartition the existing hard disk (which had 300 GB free at least) into two drives, and install Windows 7 on the second drive.

Theoretically, Windows has a way to do that with Windows XP.  But even after adding the needed program to the Windows Firewall exception list, and running Disk Management as admin, the "Shrink Partition" menu choice was not appearing.  Hmmm.

So I hunted around.  Partition Magic is supposed to do this.  I was having trouble finding a copy that I was sure was a legitimate version, and not a version that would turn my PC into a hacker battle station.  I ended up downloading EaseUS Partition Master Free Edition from  It claimed that it could repartition my XP hard disk without damaging anything, and I must confess, this was the most worrisome part of the operation.  But it worked -- I now have a 100 GB Windows 7 partition, which should be sufficient to verify that everything works.  After rebooting, Windows XP was still there and running.  

I am now installing Windows 7 Professional to the 100 GB partition.  So far, everything looks good.

UPDATE: I am now blogging from Windows 7 Professional.  I will install a few other programs before getting over confident about this. 

UPDATE 2: Disappointingly, the one program that stopped working on Windows XP -- Corel VideoStudio X6 -- still won't work under Windows 7.  I'll make another attempt at getting some support from them, but their technical support is essentially useless, except for the 90 days after you buy the product -- at which point it usually stops working.  You almost get the impression that they really want you to buy the latest version. 

Windows 7 does seem a good bit faster than XP, but that may be because my version of XP is so jacked up at the moment. 

UPDATE 3: Now Corel VideoStudio X6 is working.  I don't know what changed. 

UPDATE 4: How to mix Windows XP and Windows 7 PCs together on a single home network.  You need to download one program on the XP boxes, and then do a reboot.  (They don't tell you that you have to do a reboot, but apparently, you do.)

The Hunger Games (2012)

I was looking for something to watch while treadmilling last night, and The Hunger Games (2012) showed up on the list of Netflix suggestions.  I had heard some fairly negative criticisms of the movie, so I did not rush out to see it, but in retrospect, that was a serious mistake.

There are not many movies that I give five stars to on the Netflix rating scheme, but this is one!  If you watched Rollerball (1975), you will see some obvious parallels, not in plot, but in the overall theme: the battle of the individual against the omnipotent state and the supremacy of a higher moral good over simple survival.  But unlike Rollerball, the violence is more suggested than shown, making it more palatable to both teens and many adults.

One other interesting difference: Rollerball is set in a dystopia where corporate control has essentially replaced representative government.  The Hunger Games is, as others have observed, something of an extrapolation from our current society, where The Capitol City lives high on the hog, enjoying the benefits of high technology, while those who live in the districts that rebelled decades before live on the edge of starvation.  The only technology that the districts enjoy is that which is necessary to keep the propaganda going in defense of the status quo.  While the Obama Administration with its crony capitalism has been much more blatant and unapologetic in this than previous presidents, it is a quantitative difference, not a qualitative one.

The District of Criminals has been separating itself from most of the country for many years by its destruction of free enterprise in the rest of America.  Yet the response of liberals to this destruction is to point out that many of the more conservative states are net beneficiaries of federal spending, with no awareness that federal regulation plays a part in destroying entrepreneurship in states that are largely owned by the federal government, and much of the wealth production on the coasts is the result of federal assistance through copyright law and bailouts to favored business sectors. 

In The Hunger Games, we see an extrapolation of this problem -- and in some ways that startled me.  The fashions of the Capitol City are just a bit more absurd than much of what passes for fashion today in our coastal cities: false eyelashes that are inches long; androgynous fashion and transgenderism.  I suppose that it would have been too direct a social criticism to have Capitol City residents with extreme body piercing and completely tattooed.  (Reminder to all: you can't pawn or sell tattoos or body piercings.  Whatever money you spend on this is down that rathole forever.  At least your iPhone has some resale value, and as a phone has some practical utility.)

There are some parts of The Hunger Game that look predictable... and then catch you by surprise.  I won't describe them, but just warn you: do not make any assumptions in the first ten minutes about who is going to be a participant.

The performances of the actors really impressed me as well.  Stanley Tucci's performance is just astonishing in its smarminess as the host for the televised version of the death match. Donald Sutherland as President Snow manages to convey both a world-weariness and Machiavellian evil; Wes Bentley as Seneca Crane beautifully portrays someone who aspires to be like President Snow, but lacks his hard-edged evil, and pays a price for failing to be consistently evil.  Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen and Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark both do astonishing jobs of playing their parts without overplaying them.

One interesting aspect of the character names: most of the names appear to be derived from names of our time, suggesting that this is a future many centuries away.  The technology of the Capitol City suggests a society that has advanced only a little from the one we have now (perhaps because of the civil war explained in the first few seconds of the film).  Yet the first names of many of the Capitol City residents are Roman: Caesar; Seneca; Claudius.  This seems almost a little heavy-handed, although I am not sure how much of the target audience for this film has even a clue who any of these people were.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Good News At The Doctor's Office This Morning

It was supposed to be a blood draw to check cholesterol numbers, but I have been having some problems with the home blood pressure device (can you spell the formal name for it without looking it up?)  The numbers are so high relative to what the doctor's office shows that I took it in for calibration.

The doctor's blood pressure device showed 122/80, which is about as perfect as I can expect.  (Admittedly, I had taken my metropolol before I left the house.)  Pulse was 65. The problem with the Wal-Green's blood measure device (which showed 140/90) is that the cuff is too small for my arm -- just barely.

Health Insurance Subsidy

I am using the Kaiser Foundation's health exchange insurance subsidy calculator, and it is amazing how sensitive the subsidy is to income level.  At $50,000 per year, Silver coverage is $11,872 per year -- but the subsidy knocks this down to $4,750 per year.  At $70,000 per year income, there is no subsidy.  You would be well advised to pay off your mortgage and have a bit less income in exchange for a bigger insurance subsidy.

UPDATE: The more I play with this calculator, the more stupid the results get.  At $63,000 modified AGI, you get no subsidy: silver coverage where I live comes to $11,872 per year, no subsidy.  At $62,000, you get a $5,982 subsidy from Uncle Sam.  That is a very steep cliff!  Making $1000 more loses you $5982 in benefits.  I suspect one of two things is going to happen to a a lot of couples making what is really, even in Idaho, a very modest combined income:

1. There is going to be a lot of "I really don't want a raise, sir" discussions with employers.

2. A lot of couples who thought that they were going to get this big subsidy on their health insurance are going to make a few hundred dollars more than they had expected, and end up with a huge bill.

Some Criminals Are Too Stupid To Stay Out of Jail

The Shekel points to a said reminder that really smart criminals run for public office:
So a Detroit female is heading into Wayne County Circuit Court to face home invasion, larceny, assault to do bodily harm less than murder, etc.
And, to top it all off, on the way into court she gets caught at the metal detectors carrying a concealed, loaded, unregistered pistol in her purse. You would have thought all the no weapons signs at the door would have been a clue that she's not supposed to do that.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Opinions of Git?

The distributed version control system.

The Virtues of Coffee For Improving Endothelial Function

I had always assumed that because caffeine raises blood pressure, that it must be bad for your heart.  Curiously, it does some good for endothelial function.  From November 20, 2013 WebMD:
WEDNESDAY, Nov. 20, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Coffee seems to offer a mysterious benefit to heart health -- one that doctors have been at pains to explain.
Now, a small, new study from Japan suggests that the caffeine in a cup of coffee might help your small blood vessels work better, which could ease strain on theheart.
A cup of caffeinated coffee caused a 30 percent increase in blood flow through the small vessels of people's fingertips, compared with a cup of decaf, according to the research, which is scheduled for presentation Wednesday at the American Heart Association's annual meeting in Dallas.
These microvessels regulate the ease with which blood flows through the circulatory system and the body's tissues, said lead researcher Dr. Masato Tsutsui, a cardiologist and professor in the pharmacology department at the University of the Ryukyus, in Okinawa.
Apparently, there is quite a bit of research demonstrating "an association between coffee drinking and lower risk of heart attackheart disease and stroke...."  I don't drink a lot of coffee, but I do drink tea in the mornings.  This gives me some hope.  The article includes this astonishing piece of information:
Tsutsui pointed to a landmark U.S. National Institutes of Health study that showed that, overall, drinking six or more cups of coffee a day reduced men's risk of early death by 10 percent and women's risk by 15 percent.
My mother used to drink that much coffee a day when she worked at the Malibu branch of the Los Angeles County library system.  And she just celebrated her 97th birthday.

Homicide Risk Associated With Who You Know

Arms and the Law linked to this November 14, 2013 U.S. News & World Report article about a recent study of homicides in a high risk neighborhood in Chicago:
Andrew Papachristos, an associate professor of sociology at Yale, analyzed police and gun homiciderecords from 2006 to 2011 for people living in a high-crime neighborhood in Chicago. He found that 41 percent of all gun homicides occurred within a network of less than 4 percent of the neighborhood's population, and that the closer one is connected to a homicide victim, the greater that person's chances were for becoming a victim. Each social tie removed from a homicide victim decreased a person's odds of becoming a victim by 57 percent.
"What the findings essentially tell you is that the people who are most at risk of becoming a victim are sort of surrounded by victims within a few handshakes," Papachristos says. "These are young men who are actively engaged in the behaviors that got them in this network."...
Overall, the community's five-year homicide rate was 39.7 per 100,000 people, which was still much higher than the averages of other areas of Chicago (14.7 per 100,000). But being a part of that network of co-offenders, essentially just being arrested, raised the rate to by nearly 50 percent, to 55.2 per 100,000. What's more, being in a network with a homicide victim increased the homicide rate by 900 percent, to 554.1 per 100,000.
This is not terribly surprising.  Most urban murders are gang-related.  Living in gang-dominated neighborhoods is still quite dangerous, but the less association you have with gang members, the safer you are.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Adventures in Indiana

In Indiana, we rented a Chrysler 300.  Originally, I had reserved an economy car, but the shock of $3.05 per gallon gasoline, and that the only economy car they had was a New Beetle -- that made this an easy choice:

 It does what Chrysler has long tried to do: be a near-luxury car -- not quite a Cadillac, but not priced like one, either.

Compared to the last Chrysler I drove, the ride was a decent compromise between road feel and ride, perhaps a bit harsher than the traditional "floating on air" Chrysler customer expected.  Because it is front-wheel drive, cornering was strong on understeer.  This was unfortunate, because it has enough power to delude you (until the first serious corner) into thinking you might be driving a sport sedan.

It was very quiet -- even more quiet than my Jaguar, which is a reasonably quiet car.  The navigation system had something weird about it.  It was a Garmin in-dash unit, and usually worked okay -- but there were times that I am convinced that county roads in Indiana confused it horribly.

Gas mileage was better than I expected: 27 MPG on what was almost entirely highway driving.

Indiana Tech is in Fort Wayne, Indiana, which turned out to be a much rougher place than I expected.  Unfortunately, it is too close to Chicago and Detroit, and gangs have been expanding into the area for some years, apparently.  (More about that later.)

Like a lot of Midwestern cities, it has a lot of 1920s buildings, some quite neat in an art deco sort of way, like this hotel:

I guess that it should not surprise me, but there are a surprising number of Catholic churches in this part of Indiana, such as this cathedral and adjoining buildings:

Fort Wayne has a gorgeous county courthouse, but you only get to see the outside:

The inside looked very promising -- but no cameras, cell phones, or other devices capable of making an image are allowed inside.  There are a lot of different rules in different states.  Oregon, for example, allows concealed handgun licenses to carry inside courthouses unless they have metal detectors.  Idaho does not allow it (although we are allowed to carry concealed and openly inside the state capitol).  Why no cameras?

I asked one of our native guides, a law student at Indiana Tech, and the son of a local judge.  It seems that people that testified in criminal trials were being photographed secretly in the courtrooms, and were sometimes dead within a day.  It is a sobering reminder that when you are dealing with gangs, all sorts of horrible things happen.

The trees were turning, but had not been stripped of their leaves yet (as was the case in Connecticut the next week):

Yet Another Reason To Pay Off The Mortgage

Legal Insurrection points to a November 4, 2013 New York Times article about how a couple of PhDs who live in Albuquerque and paint for a living are going to get essentially free health insurance:
For Mark and Elisabeth Horst, both artists in Albuquerque, the risks of signing up for a bronze plan were outweighed by the prospect of getting it free. The Horsts, who make $24,000 a year between them, qualified for $612 in monthly subsidies, but the cost of a bronze plan was $581 a month.
Mark Horst's PhD is from Yale; Elizabeth Horst closed down her psychology practice to live the good life.  As Legal Insurrection points out:
More power to the Horsts. But don’t ask me to subsidize their lifestyle choice.  
Paying off the mortgage?  I would then have no mortgage payment and less taxable interest income.  A lower total income means a bigger subsidy on health insurance.  Those who still have to work will be overjoyed at the chance to subsidize early retirees, right?  Of course, that assumes that the Obamacare madness survives until I retire in a year or two.

UPDATE: I thought that there might be a way to really mess with the Unaffordable Care Act for millionaires.  Just invest your assets in municipal bonds.  The interest on most such bonds is exempt from federal income tax, and if the bonds are from your state of residence, exempt from state income tax as well.  Your Adjusted Gross Income does not include tax-exempt interest.  My thought was that a millionaire could, by having all income tax-exempt, get pretty much the entire health insurance paid for by working stiffs.  But it turns out that the calculation of subsidy is based not only AGI but Modified AGI, which includes tax-free interest.  (The people that wrote this bill were not quite as stupid as I assumed.)

Another 50 to 100 Million Cancellations Just Before the Election Next Year

Under the health care law, businesses with fewer than 50 workers do not have to provide health coverage. But if they do, the policies will still have to meet the benefit standards set by ObamaCare. 
As reported by AEI's Scott Gottlieb, some businesses got around this by renewing their policies before the end of 2013. But the relief is temporary, and they are expected to have to offer in-compliance plans for 2015. According to Gottlieb, that means beginning in October 2014 the cancellation notices will start to go out. 
Then, businesses will have to either find a new plan -- which could be considerably more expensive -- or send workers onto the ObamaCare exchanges. 
Wow!  What will the Republican National Committee do to make sure that Democrats retain control of the Senate, rather than support conservative Republicans?

Always Good To Look Back At Previous Predictions

A reader pointed out that on election day in 2012, I pointed out the absurdity of young people overwhelmingly voting for Obama:
I hope young people look forward to a future with expensive but available health insurance, but no jobs.
His comment on that posting:
Looks like they won't even get that much. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

University of Connecticut Symposium

The whole symposium is here.  I start about 2:20 into it.  It looks like you may have to have Microsoft Silverlight installed to see it.  I have no idea what is going to happen on Macs or Linux.

John Wycliffe and the Gettysburg Address

Fascinating article from the November 19, 2013 Telegraph:
On November 19, 1863, at the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, President Abraham Lincoln, weak and lightheaded with an oncoming case of smallpox, made a speech that lasted for just over two minutes, and ended with his hope “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Those words have been quoted ever since as the supreme vindication of representative government. Indeed, they are often quoted as proof of American exceptionalism. But the words were not Lincoln’s. Most of his hearers would have recognised their source, as our generation typically does not. They came from the prologue to what was probably the earliest translation of the Bible into the English language: “This Bible is for the government of the people, for the people and by the people.” The author was the theologian John Wycliffe, sometimes called “the Morning Star of the Reformation.” Astonishingly, they had first appeared in 1384.

More Beds

From the November 19, 2013 New York Daily News:
After allegedly attacking his father, the 24-year-old reportedly shot himself. He died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. Police confirmed that early indications are that Gus Deeds attacked his father before shooting himself, Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corrine Geller said. 
Law enforcement sources are investigating what led to the violence. Just a day earlier, Gus Deeds had been evaluated under an emergency custody order for mental health issues, ...
Health officials said that no psychiatric bed was available for Deeds and so he was released.
Read more:
I have mentioned before the work by UC Berkeley Steven Segal concerning murder and mental illness.  He found that 20% of the state to state variation in murder rates could be explained by availability of psychiatric beds.  Even in states with relatively sensible involuntary commitment laws (like Virginia and Idaho), a lack of beds is very important.

The November 19, 2013 Washington Post has more details, and more importantly, details on the problems of a shortage of psychiatric beds.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Difference Between Chicago And San Francisco

From November 17, 2013 CBS Chicago:
CHICAGO (CBS) – A 31-year-old woman is undergoing a psychiatric evaluation after she jumped a turnstile and boarded an ‘L’ train — naked. WBBM’s Bob Roberts explains....

She boarded at Granville, told riders she was the goddess of the train, said she was heading to the motorman’s compartment to run it and told everyone else to get off.
The November 17, 2013 San Francisco Chronicle reports on a nude protest group (with a photograph that showed a most artful use of microphones and cameras to make the photograph safe for work):
A Russian-born emigre by way of Hungary, who describes herself as a "Russian-style revolutionary," Taub is the public face of public nudity in San Francisco. The wedding shower was just a teaser for the Berkeley resident's latest protest against the San Francisco nudity ban put into law Feb. 1. "I always wanted to be free from body shame from the time I was a child," she said.

Taub, who was born Oxana Chornenky, and three other body freedom activists got themselves arrested that day in front of City Hall, and convicted for violating the ordinance. Taub appealed her conviction and appeared before a three-judge panel on Friday. Before the court's decision was even rendered, Taub had organized Sunday's protest against it. When the presiding judge adjourned the court in order to begin deliberations, she asked if she could make a statement.

"They said no, so I started yelling at them," said Taub. She was still in a yelling mood when she arrived for Sunday's protest at Jane Warner Plaza, the parklet where the F-Market Muni streetcar makes its turnaround, at Market and Castro streets.

Taub, 44, arrived clothed and followed by her three children and new fiance Smith, 20, who described his occupation as "a traveler." Asked how they met, he said, "I ran into her in Montana at the Rainbow Gathering."
The comments from readers show that this sort of lunacy, at least in San Francisco, is only a bit outre.

The Billionaires Are Upset With Us Again

From November 18, 2013 The Hill:
The advocacy group backed by Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg is launching a new round of ads aimed at keeping the pressure on Congress to pass immigration reform.

The ads from Silicon Valley’s — backed by executives from Google, Yahoo, AOL, Microsoft, Instagram and Dropbox — highlight what the groups says is bipartisan support for swift movement on legislation. said the videos are "part of a large national buy, targeting cable and online outlets across the country."

“With this new round of ads, we want to make clear to Washington that delay on critical immigration reforms is unacceptable,” President Joe Green said in a statement...

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) has been a vocal critic of Zuckerberg’s attempts to increase the availability of H-1B visas.

“Mark Zuckerberg made a glaring omission from his ad: the tech lobby’s push for a large increase in temporary guest workers to replace American workers – a central pillar of the Senate bill,” a spokesman for Sessions said Monday.
The billionaires are upset that they haven't managed to drive software engineering wages down to $10 per hour.  It isn't like anyone is really hiring Americans anyway.   And those people who work at unskilled or semiskilled jobs?  The billionaires won't be happy until that bunch is literally at the "will work for food" stage.

I really wish that the Democrats had an opposition political party.

Flying With Guns on United Airlines

I asked them if I could check my handgun for inspection in an appropriate case, then place the gun case inside checked luggage, both for improved security, and to not end up with a separate charge for each bag.  I did not receive a response until I was already in Connecticut (and after getting lost on foot in what appeared to be the ghetto of New Haven, I was a bit regretful that I did not bring a gun).  Here is the helpful answer:
Thank you for contacting United Airlines.

Yes, you may place the hardsided gun case inside your checked bag once 
it has been examined. You must place the Firearm declaration notice on 
top or near the gun case inside the checked bag not inside the gun case.
You will not be charged a separate bag fee for the gun if it is placed 
inside your checked bag.

It is always a privilege to serve you and we look forward to our next 
opportunity to welcome you aboard.

Michelle Wallace 
Customer Care

Global Warming Protest Impaired By Snow Storm

From the November 16, 2013 Calgary Sun, news coverage of a protest against oil sands development:
Chantal Chagnon with the Idle No More movement, said they’re trying to get the attention of the energy industry and the Canadian Parliament to the growing global opposition to “pipelines, tar sands expansions and other polices that contribute to runaway climate change.”
“We’re seeing theeffects of global warming and we can’t keep denying it because obviously something is happening,” Chagnon said.
It would have been a bigger demonstration, but:
Originally about 300 people were slated to participate in the Calgary protest, but due to a snow storm only about 50 showed up.
I don't know when it normally starts snowing in Calgary, but mid-November?  

Back From Connecticut

It's taking a while to get everything organized.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Springfield Armory National Historic Site

We drove to Springfield, Massachusetts Saturday to visit the Springfield Armory National Historical Site.  It is a free museum showing both the range of firearms that were made here and the manufacturing techniques and devices that were developed and utilized here.  If you are in the area, well worth visiting.  There was a nice little 15 minute video about the history of the Armory and its part in advancing manufacturing techniques which sufficiently impressed my wife and I that we bought a copy, which I will use the next time that I teach U.S. History.

I took gobs of pictures, but I don't have the cable for transferring pictures with me, and this notebook doesn't have an SDHC reader on it.  (I could have brought the SDHC to USB converter, but forgot.)

If Connecticut's Citizens & Police Obey Gun Control Laws Like They Obey Traffic Laws...

Then Gov. Malloy's assault weapons law will be a complete waste of time.  I am used to a certain amount of not obeying speed limits and traffic laws everywhere, but Connecticut seems rather remarkable on this.  Worse, we had a Hartford Police Department patrol vehicle tailgate us -- like one car length at 35 MPH on an onramp, and he did not back off at any point.  We were obeying the speed limit (which alone would be suspicious behavior in Connecticut), and he kept tailgating for at least half a mile.  At first we wondered if he was trying to intimidate my wife into breaking the speed limit so that he could write her a ticket, but apparently not.  Perhaps he was responding to an emergency call, but even this does not justify tailgating.  If he needed to get past us, then turn on the lights to let us know to pull over, okay?

One of the employees at Enterprise car rental here told us that the state police commonly drive 80 to 90, even when not responding to a call, and few people drive less than 80 on the interstates (which was also our experience).  We had multiple situations where we were driving 10 to 15 MPH over the limit and we we being passed by more (often far more) cars than we passed.  Some were driving in a manner that was really quite reckless -- lots of abrupt lane changes, cutting in and out of traffic in order to drive 80 or 90.

Let me emphasize that I am not wildly enthusiastic about obeying laws, no matter how silly.  But in a state where most drivers (including police) ignore the laws, why should we assume that one more law is going to make much of a difference in criminal behavior?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Interesting Bizarre Claims Of The Day

One of the gun control advocates (not the serious scholars, but the politicians brought in to make the case for gun control), claimed that the federal assault weapons ban was beginning to work when Congress let it expire after ten years.  Yeah, that's a really effective law -- one that still doesn't have a clear advantage after ten years in effect throughout the entire nation.

Connecticut Law Review Symposium

I am encouraged to report increasing evidence that gun control is an old white guy's movement.  The panelists at the symposium were generally either clearly pro-gun, or giving data that gave serious doubts as to either the need for or effectiveness of broad gun control laws.  The most notable exception was Professor Penrose of Texas A&M, who argued that our Constitution is really suited to an eighteenth century world, not a 21st century world, and proposed amending the Constitution to repeal the Second Amendment and allow states to pass whatever gun control laws they wanted.  In conversation afterwards, she agreed that overturning Roe v. Wade (1973) and Lawrence v. Texas (2004) were appropriate, because states should be free to pass their own laws on abortion and homosexuality.  Professor Merkel last week make the same argument at the Indiana Tech Law School symposium in opposing judicial review -- that the majority should be trusted to make their own laws, instead of letting judges overturn state laws.  It is amazing how much gun control advocates are willing to give up in order to justify restrictive gun control laws: abandoning "free to choose" and gay sex just to ban guns.  Oh my!

The only really vigorous supporters of traditional gun control other than Penrose (and even she was careful not to directly say what she was supporting, other than "states rights,") were Richard Aborn (formerly chair of Handgun Control, Inc.), Senator Blumenthal (D-CT) and Governor Malloy of Connecticut, all of whom spoke at this event.  It was most entertaining to listen to Aborn argue that gun rights groups keep using "gun bans" to scare their members into opposing "reasonable gun control."  Then Aborn launched in an explanation of why assault weapons needed to be banned, and yes, he used the word "ban."  A rather blue collar member of the audience proceeded to take Aborn apart by pointing out that guns that were not "assault weapons" under the 1993 Connecticut assault weapons ban are now assault weapons under the 2013 law, and this incremental approach to banning makes it impossible to trust Aborn when he says that he doesn't support banning guns -- except for the guns that he wants banned twenty years ago, and then today, and who knows what ten years from now?

I was startled to see Aborn admit that he has no problem with concealed weapon permit laws, insisting that he has no problem with lawful gun owners, just with illegal guns.  And what are illegal guns?  They are legal guns that are now owned by people that are not allowed to own guns.  And assault weapons, if he has his way.  But notice carefully: illegal guns are the problem -- not illegal gun owners.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Surviving An Active Shooter Event

Good video: "Run, Hide, Fight" that actually encourages you to use improvised weapons to fight back if running and hiding are impractical.

What Do You Know? Sarah Palin Was Right

The November 12, 2013 New York Post reports that it isn't just that people are being forced out of health insurance plans that they liked -- the new, far more expensive Unaffordable Care Act-compliant plans actually eliminate coverage for many cancer patients:
To keep costs down, the White House designed ObamaCare plans as cut-rate HMOs. The low profit margins have forced insurers to downsize the number of doctors and hospitals in their networks — and to slash what they cover for out-of-network treatment.
So most ObamaCare plans don’t include the vast majority of the best cancer doctors and cancer centers. That’s a huge problem for these patients. As Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former Medicare official, writes: “Cancer patients often need the help of specialized doctors and cancer institutions that won’t make it into many of these cheapened networks.”
All across the country, leading cancer centers — including New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering — are excluded by the largest plans. In Washington state, the largest exchange plans exclude world-class cancer care for kids such as the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. California’s state-of-the-art Cedars-Sinai cancer center isn’t in any ObamaCare plan. Only a few plans include the Mayo Clinic.
And if you want a doctor outside such networks, you’ll generally have to pay the full cost of care.
This is apparently how Obamacare is going to reduce health care costs -- by making cancer care so expensive that many people won't be able to get it.   Remember how Sarah Palin was an idiot for suggesting that "death panels" were going to determine who would live and who would die?  It appears that Obamacare is going to make the situation very bad indeed for those in the later stages of cancer.

If voters under 35 paid any attention, Obamacare would be the death knell of the Democratic Party.  But I am sure that this will all turn out to be Bush's fault.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Oxford, Indiana

It's about 20 miles west of Lafayette -- a place where you can buy houses for $19,000.  We visited there because my great-great-great-grandfather Samuel McIlvaine left from there to fight the Civil War.  He did not make it back.

This is farming country still, with items that we don't have around here, like grain elevators:

The fall colors were appearing:

Unlike northeastern Indiana, around Fort Wayne, which is gently rolling hills, this part is flat as a pancake:

Ah, here's the city limit sign, with Oxford's only claim to fame -- the birthplace of Dan Patch, a famous race horse from the turn of the twentieth century:

On the outskirts of town we found St. Patrick's Catholic Church,

and what seems to have been both the Catholic cemetery in modern times, and the original cemetery when the town was first settled.  I know because I found two ancestors' headstones.  These pictures don't capture the detail; I wish that I had arrived with less direct sunlight on it, or with appropriate materials to take a rubbing of the stone.  (Yes, that's a hint for my readers that live nearby and need an educational trip for their kids some weekend.)  This is a McIlvain, although I can't remember the first name.  The death date looks to be 1838, so the generation before Samuel, I am guessing:

This is a McConnell; Samuel married an Elizabeth McConnell -- at the time, a very large and important family in Benton County.

Again, I think this is the generation before Elizabeth.

There were no McIlvain or McConnell listings in the local phone book.  There was one trace, however, of the McConnell influence:

This is a very tired town.  There is a grain elevator, but one obviously long unused:

I do not know if the train ran through here when Samuel still lived outside of Oxford, but it is quite easy to look down these tracks and imagine that Samuel saw a similar sight.  His son Silas, a train engineer, likely did so.

Oxford itself still has brick streets in places, and much of downtown is late nineteenth century:

I know that Samuel and family were Presbyterians, and we found what would have been the church he attended, based on the date on the cornerstone.  (It is now a community center, not a church.)

There are a lot of lovely old homes in Oxford (and more than a few that need serious work, but we didn't photograph those):

We shot all these photos with the HP Photosmart E427 camera.  It isn't spectacular, but it is compact.  The Canon A1400 PowerShot that I just bought is even more compact, and far higher resolution.