Friday, February 28, 2014

Idaho Concealed Carry on Campus Bill Passes Out Of House Committee

From February 28, 2014 AP:
A bill to allow students, staff and visitors to carry guns on Idaho's college campuses passed out of a legislative committee Friday afternoon, despite objections from students, multiple police chiefs and leaders of all eight of the state's public colleges.

The measure would allow retired law enforcement officers and those with Idaho's new enhanced concealed carry permit to bring their firearms onto campus. Concealed weapons would still be barred from dormitories, stadiums and concert halls.

The 11-3 party-line vote sends the issue forward to debate on the House floor. The bill passed the Senate earlier this month.
The level of rage on this from the opponents leaves me pretty mystified.  I wonder if this might be a reminder that their little ponds of liberalism are surrounded by what is still a pro-self-defense state?

It Reads Like Something The Klan Might Have Used To Justify Their Reign of Terror

From the February 28, 2014 Christian Science Monitor:
When President Obama announced “My Brother’s Keeper” Thursday, he identified school discipline reform as one key to supporting the success of young men of color.

School suspensions and expulsions, which occur more often among black and Latino boys, make dropping out of school – and the host of risk factors that come with that – more likely.

“My administration has been working with schools on alternatives to the so-called zero-tolerance guidelines – not because teachers or administrators or fellow students should have to put up with bad behavior, but because there are ways to modify bad behavior that lead to good behavior,” Mr. Obama said in announcing My Brother's Keeper.
It seems as though Obama is arguing that blacks and Hispanics just can't control themselves -- and we need to relax the rules to keep them in school.  Do you suppose that the culture that worships gang members might have something to do with this?

I See Too Many of These Incidents To Feel Comfortable

You know, in 1800 I would be a bit forgiving.  Maybe in 1900.  Today?
A Mississippi man that was thought to be dead (and declared so) was found alive and kicking in a body bag at a funeral home, according to reports.

Funeral home employees noticed the man kicking inside the body bag after he was declared dead by the coroner, TIME reported. The elderly man’s name is Walter Williams. His pulse had ceased on Wednesday, according to reports.
Yu can read the original February 28, 2014 Time magazine account here.  Apparently the funeral home was getting ready to embalm him when they noticed him kicking in the body bag.

Peruta Being Appealed En Banc

But not by County of San Diego, who was the defendant, but the California Attorney-General, who has filed as an intervenor because County of San Diego chose not to fight.  Count on Kamala Harris to defend a law originally passed as part of a scheme to disarm Chinese and Mexican residents of California, and which today disproportionately disarms blacks and Hispanics.

I understand that there is some question as to whether the California Attorney-General is entitled to file as an intervenor after the decision.

When Lettuce Gets Uppity

"The Romains were amongst the first to be influenced by him."

Roger L. Simon On Hollywood

How Conservatives Can Take Back (Some of) Hollywood for Oscar Time

It is a great piece, and makes many of the points that I have made in the past. Until conservatives are willing to risk making some money, instead of just throwing it all away on political campaigns that we do not win, we are doomed to failure.

Russ Fulcher, Running Against Otter in the Idaho Primary

I heard Russ Fulcher speak at a meeting of Idaho Carry last night.  (I have repeatedly tried to arrange a speaking engagement at a meeting of Idaho Carry, but what point would there be to having me speak to a gun rights group?  What would I know about the subject?)

My impression was positive, although an elected official who can't speak effectively to a friendly crowd is pretty rare indeed.  Fulcher said all the right things, from my perspective.  I do confess to concern that because so many Republicans in Idaho are RINOs, a lot may not turn out to vote in the general election.  Remember that RINOs would rather see a Democrat hold the office, than a conservative Republican get elected.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

More On That National Science Foundation Science Ignorance Survey

James Lindgren over at Volokh Conspiracy digs into the numbers from the 2012 version of the survey, and discovers, contrary to what many smug liberals might want to believe, the ignorance is pretty bipartisan.  Yes,the predictable conservative Republicans don't believe in evolution (although most could correctly describe it), but a thin majority of Democrats did not know that the Earth goes around the Sun, and even fewer knew that it takes one year.  Conservatives Republicans were less likely to believe in astrology than Democrats.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Early Athenian Social Surgery

In an otherwise pretty impressive paper so far, one unfortunate word choice: "In Athens the freemen can be cauterized into three classes..."

Uganda's New Law Against Homosexuality: There's A Logical Flaw There

I know people who have changed their orientation from gay to straight.  What are the chances of that happening if you lock up a homosexual for life in a sex-segregated prison?

I wonder how long it will be before we hear the opponents of foreign intervention in Afghanistan arguing the necessity of regime change in Uganda and Nigeria (but not Iran or Saudi Arabia, both of which execute homosexuals).

Lottery Isn't The Only Way To Retire Young

From February 26, 2014
A CALIFORNIAN couple out walking their dog on their stumbled across a modern-day bonanza: $10 million in rare, mint-condition gold coins buried in the shadow of an old tree.
Nearly all of the 1427 coins, dating from 1847 to 1894, are in uncirculated, mint condition, said David Hall, co-founder of Professional Coin Grading Service of Santa Ana, which recently authenticated them.
Although the face value of the gold pieces only adds up to about $27,000, some of them are so rare that coin experts say they could fetch nearly $1 million apiece.
The article makes a strong case that because the coins in each can are roughly the same dates that this was not the proceeds of robbery, but someone who was stashing the money year by year.  I wonder if whoever did this died without telling his heirs where the gold was buried.

I have sent my wife out to start walking our property...just in case.

Arizona Governor Brewer's Contact Page Is A Bit Overloaded, It Seems

Her contact page is overwhelmed, it appears.  I am trying to contact her to ask her to sign SB1062 (what I call the right to diversity of opinion bill), but all the big corporate interests are screaming at her not to do so; the NFL is threatening to pull the SuperBowl.  Heck, I am willing to vacation in Arizona next winter if she signs this bill.

Is it really so scary to allow businesses the freedom to engage in acts with consenting adults?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Saturday, February 22, 2014

It Is Hard Not To See This As Child Abuse

An article over at Mommyish:
When I got pregnant, my partner and I knew we wanted to be thoughtful about the ways we helped our kids construct their gender and the way they viewed gender in general. Whatever sex our baby was born, we had every intentions of gender-bending the hell out of it.
Yeah, great idea.  Many years ago, my wife and I attended a class on identifying child sexual abuse in Southern California.  Over lunch, we talked with a woman whose husband was raised by a woman who really had wanted a daughter.  So when her son was growing up, she dressed her son in girl's clothes, bought him girl toys (like Barbies), and painted his nails.  Dad was a macho Marine, and had no idea why hsi son was such a little pansy.  (I think he was away a lot of deployments.)

Now, her husband had decided that he really would be more comfortable as a woman.  His pastor, of course, thought that this was a good idea. 

Gee, do you think the mother's gender-bending might have done him some harm?

Not Completely Useless Yet

There are times that the continuous drumbeat of "People over 40 are too stupid to hire" really gets to me.  The other night, my wife was participating in a poetry reading in the coffee shop part of a Hastings in Nampa, along with other faculty and students from College of Western Idaho.  Over in a corner of the coffee shop, a couple of Boise State students were working on their chemistry homework. 

As I listened to them struggling to understand valence and chemical compounds, I joined them, and walked through the process of understanding how electrons are transferred, and the importance of the columns on the period table.  I cannot imagine that their instructor did not cover all this in class -- but not everything that is transmitted is properly received.  I could see the lights turning on when I explained them how the loosely bound electrons in the outer shells of the more electropositive atoms are anxious to be taken away, and the more tightly bound electrons of the electronegative atoms are anxious to complete their shells, and how this forms ionic bonds.  Then I explained covalent bonding and electronegativity.  I could see the lights turning on. We also went over how to use atomic weights to solve some of the mass calculation problems, and explained some of the practical applications of chemistry, especially for making stuff blow up real good!

I have not studied chemistry since 1975.  It is nice to know that I have not forgotten it all.

Friday, February 21, 2014

San Diego Sheriff's Office Will Not Appeal the Peruta Decision

I just received a copy of the press release sent out by the San Diego Sheriff's Department, acknowledging that they are going shall-issue, and will not appeal the decision.  They did remind everyone that the decision is not yet final.  But without the defendant to appeal the case, what will stop it?

Pretty clearly, they decided that it was safer to not take this to the Supreme Court, which would strike down restrictive concealed carry permit laws across the U.S.

Of course, our side can appeal the decisions in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th circuits!

UPDATE: My mistake.  I knew that the Supreme Court had denied cert in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th circuits.  I just plumb forgot.  There is a 1st Circuit case still working its way up, I think.  In the meantime, the California Attorney-General hyas filed as an intervenor, asking for an en banc review.

Does Anyone Else Find This Troubling?

Research Design for the Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs is a research project by the FCC.  A number of conservative websites and Fox News found this troubling because it involves putting researchers into not only radio and television station newsrooms (which are under FCC regulatory authority), but also in newspaper newsrooms.  Here's the introduction from the FCC's description of the research:
Social Solutions has been tasked with the development of a research design that can be used to identify and understand the critical information needs (CINs) of the American public (with special emphasis on vulnerable/disadvantaged populations). 
What is especially disturbing is this:
General Population Survey: Utilizing a multi-level sampling method, this survey will measure community members’ actual and perceived critical information needs (n=4392).  
Wait a minute: actual and perceived needs?  You mean community members think that they need certain information, but someone else (the government) knows what information they actually need?  If this were limited to radio and television news, you could argue that FCC has regulatory authority on this; broadcast news is not subject to the same protections under the First Amendment as newspapers.  But this intrusion into newspaper newsrooms looks like it could have a chilling effect on freedom of the press.

Big Brother is coming.  I will be curious to see how many progressives decide that it is for a good cause, and play along.

UPDATE: Good news: February 21, 2014 Ars Technica reports tht the FCC has backed down.

House of Cards: Profoundly Subversive

Peggy Noonan's Wall Street Journal column asks a really important question, and gives the answer:
Watching Season 2 of “House of Cards.” Not to be a scold or humorless, but do Washington politicians understand how they make themselves look when they embrace the show and become part of its promotion by spouting its famous lines? Congressmen only work three days a week. Each shot must have taken two hours or so—the setup, the crew, the rehearsal, the learning the line. How do they have time for that? Why do they think it’s good for them?
“House of Cards” very famously does nothing to enhance Washington’s reputation. It reinforces the idea that the capital has no room for clean people. The earnest, the diligent, the idealistic, they have no place there. Why would powerful members of Congress align themselves with this message? Why do they become part of it? I guess they think they’re showing they’re in on the joke and hip to the culture. I guess they think they’re impressing people with their surprising groovelocity.
Or maybe they’re just stupid.
 If you have not watched it, House of Cards is perhaps the most mercilessly subversive television show about politics that I have ever seen.  (If you are familar with Shakespeare's Richard III, you will recognize the essential plot outline.)  Interestingly enough, while it is not partisan in the same sense that West Wing was reported to be (evil, ignorant Republicans, well-intentioned Democrats), it is primarily focused on a Democratic Administration, and a Democratic member of Congress moving his way up, through criminal actions and hardball politics.  I don't know if any members of Congress are quite as criminal as Frank Underwood, but the manipulation, log-rolling of favors for votes, and the general moral turpitude of most of the players, is very accurate.  And the Republicans are nearly villagers in the opera, they are so unimportant.

Raymond Tusk is a very obvious Warren Buffett-like character -- fabulously rich because of business acumen and knowing how to grease the levers of power in Washington, trying to get even richer, while pretending to be looking out for the public good.

The only people that do not seem to be utterly crooked is one Congresscritter who is far enough left to still be idealistic and a Tea Party Senator who is unwilling to go along with entitlement reform because of some of the dirty stuff in the bill.

I don't know how many Americans actually watch House of Cards, but it should provoke considerable skepticism of Big Government, no matter which party is in charge.  Sadly, I know that many state legislatures are every bit this sleazy.  (Maybe all?  I don't know quite enough about Idaho's legislative insides to know for sure.)

Amusing side note: Texas senator Wendy Davis, Democratic gubernatorial nominee and general all-around sleazy politician, was married to... Frank Underwood.  (Not the fictional character; Wendy Davis would fit right in with the fictional character, however.)

Progress From Peruta

Shall Not Be Questioned pointed me to this February 20, 2014 Los Angeles Times report that the Orange County Sheriff's Department is going shall-issue in response to Peruta:
The ruling is not yet final, and if successfully appealed, may never take effect. But Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens announced on the department's website that the county has decided to comply anyway.
"Regardless of what her personal positions are, she feels she needs to abide by what the law is," Lt. Jeff Hallock, a sheriff spokesman, said Thursday.
He said the department has received "a huge influx" of requests for permits to carry concealed guns since the 9th Circuit ruling. He cautioned, though, that the new relaxed rules might be "revisited" if the court decision is appealed or overturned.
The Orange County Sheriff's Department, which handles gun carry permits for the county's cities, will now give residents permits if they simply cite a need for personal safety or self-defense, as long as other conditions are met, the department said. Those conditions include an interview, background check, completion of a firearms training course and a fee.,0,1864878.story#ixzz2tywOXkf2
And when Orange County issues many hundreds of permits and the sky doesn't fall?

Record Gun Production in 2012

February 20, 2014 Bloomberg News reports that U.S. gun production set a new record for 2012 (8.57 million guns) -- but what is amazing is how the gun control groups insist that gun ownership is dropping:
Brian Malte, senior policy director of the Washington-based Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said gun-rights groups “demonized” Obama during the 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, leading many gun owners to buy more firearms.
“We see the percentage of households owning guns declining,” he said, “and that indicates that those who already own guns are buying more of them.”
It is certainly possible that all those guns are concentrating in a smaller and smaller number of homes -- but everywhere I go, I run into people who have never owned a gun before, but are now buying one.  Which is more likely?  That people who already have more than a dozen guns are buying nearly all the newly made ones, or that the market is dramatically expanding?  I am one of those people who has more than a dozen guns (but I don't know immediately remember how many), and I have not bought a gun in almost twenty years.  Maybe I am just weird.

UPDATE: As one of the commenters points out, the General Social Survey is the one that keeps showing this dramatic decline in gun ownership.  The Gallup Poll in 2011 showed 47% of American households admit to a gun, the highest number since 1993 (when it was 54%).  This report indicates that 39% of American households had a gun in 2013, reversing a four decades long decline.  This report from the Pew Research Group points out that there is a very large gap between the Gallup numbers and the GSS numbers, with GSS showing a pretty consistent decline, while Gallup's data going back to 1972 shows no consistent decline:
A Gallup survey in May 1972 found 43% reporting having a gun in their home. The percentage subsequently fluctuated a great deal, reaching a high of 51% in 1993 and a low of 34% in 1999 – but the percentage saying they had a gun in their home last year was the same as it was 40 years earlier (43%).
To be blunt, when large national surveys differ by 9 points on a question this simple, this is statistically significant, and suggests that either the way the question is being asked, or the assumptions being used to weight the raw data, are problematic.

This July 25, 2012 Guardian article points out that telephone surveys consistently show higher gun ownership rates than the GSS, and do not show the decline the GSS data shows.  The article suggests several possible reasons -- none of which are obviously right or wrong, and thus it is difficult to tell the actual rate.

UPDATE 2: Several readers made the point about the problems of phone surveys on this, but none made it with more with than this:
"Hi, I am calling you to ask if you have expensive jewelry or gold stored in your home."

"Err... no"


H1B Madness

Steve Sailer has a very sharply worded column about Mark Zuckerberg's whining about not being able to hire enough qualified Americans:
Mark Zuckerberg lobbied Congress all last year for more immigration to keep himself from being driven into poverty by having to pay crushing salaries to American engineers. Yesterday, though, Facebook somehow scrounged together the scratch to acquire a small startup called WhatsApp for $19 billion. 
But what is amazing is that the two founders of WhatsApp tried to get jobs with Facebook -- but both were Americans, worse, old Americans -- in their late 30s.  No wonder Facebook wouldn't hire them!

UPDATE: Bloomberg News report in the February 21, 2014 San Francisco Chronicle reports that one of the founders could not get a job at Facebook.

A Reader Points To This Disturbing Article About New York State's Plan to Shut Down Mental Hospitals

What is especially disturbing is that if a Republican were considering this with respect to private prisons, it would be rightly identified as either ideological craziness or corruption:
Two trade associations representing New York’s community-based mental-health industry—Mental Health America (MHA) and the New York State Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services (NYAPRS)—are eyeing the money Albany spends on inpatient psychiatric care and lobbying the Cuomo administration to close its state-run psychiatric hospitals. In January, New York governor Andrew Cuomo issued a partial reprieve to three of the nine state psychiatric hospitals he previously slated for closure. But the governor is moving ahead with plans to close other state psychiatric hospitals, which will force hundreds of seriously mentally ill patients into jails, shelters, prisons, and morgues. This will come at a high cost to taxpayers and put the public, the police, and the patients themselves at considerable risk. Just as Governor Cuomo would never cede control of tax policy to banking interests, he should not cede control of mental health policy to the mental-health industry. The hospitals should remain open.


And that is all it is -- but I am sure that somewhere, someone takes this seriously.

1947 & 1948
This'll make you scratch your head and say "Hmmmm"!!
The year was 1947. Some of you will recall that on July 8, 1947, a little more than 65 years ago,numerous witnesses claimed that an Unidentified Flying Object, (UFO), with five aliens aboard,
crashed onto a sheep and mule ranch just outside Roswell , New Mexico .
This is a well-known incident that many say has long been covered-up by the U.S. Air Force, as well as other Federal Agencies and Organizations.
However, what you may NOT know is that in the month of April, year 1948, nine months after the historic day, the following people were born:
Barrack Obama Sr.
Albert A. Gore, Jr.
Hillary Rodham
William J. Clinton
John F. Kerry
Howard Dean
Nancy Pelosi
Dianne Feinstein
Charles E. Schumer
Barbara Boxer
Joe Biden
This is the obvious consequence of aliens breeding with sheep and jack-asses.
I truly hope this bit of information clears up a lot of things for you. It certainly did for me.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Mental Illness & Murder: The Earlier We Provide Treatment, The Better

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A Louisiana father accused of beheading his disabled 7-year-old son was ruled not guilty by reason of insanity Friday, after several experts on mental illness concluded he was delusional and believed that his son was no longer real but had been replaced with a CPR dummy.
State District Judge John LeBlanc made the rare decision in the case against Jeremiah Wright, 32, of Thibodaux. Wright will not face a capital murder trial and will be returned to the state mental hospital in Jackson. That is where he had been held for much of the 2½ years since his son, Jori Lirette, was killed on Aug. 14, 2011. The boy's head was left in the driveway of the home from which Lirette's mother, Jesslyn Lirette, planned to evict Wright.
"It was the only ruling, really, that the court could make," said Lafourche Parish District Attorney Camille "Cam" Morvant. "There was indisputable testimony from experts that Mr. Wright was psychotic and delusional and suffered from a major mental disorder at the time of the crime."
From the February 20, 2014 Salt Lake Tribune:
On Thursday, Evans — mostly healed from the gunshot wound — stood before 2nd District Judge W. Brent West and asked him to punish Jennings harshly for the June 16 crime.
"I ask that you sentence him to the maximum prison time the law allows," Evans said, an audible slur still apparent due to gunshot damage to his teeth and tongue.
Tara Evans told West that after Jennings shot her husband, her son-in-law turned and pointed the gun at her chest. If it weren’t for a number of unarmed parishioners who rushed toward the shooter, she said she felt he would have tried to kill her too....
His attorney, Michael Bouwhuis, said Thursday that while his client was found competent for trial, he definitely is mentally ill. The attorney said that doctors believe Jennings has auditory hallucinations and a psychotic disorder.
 In this case, it appears that meth may have played some part in his psychosis; yet another reason why legalizing meth is a really bad idea.

From February 19, 2014 CBS Philadelphia:
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A Philadelphia woman has been found guilty of shooting her mother, dousing her with gasoline and setting her on fire inside a home back in 2007.
On Dec. 20, 2007, Jahina Damon is said to have shot her mother, poured gasoline on her and then set the body on fire inside a home in the 6000 block of Cobbs Creek Parkway. Another woman was badly burned in the house fire that ensued, but she survived.
On Wednesday, 35-year-old Damon was found guilty but mentally ill of First Degree Murder, Attempted Murder, and other related charges.
 From February 20, 2014 ABC San Francisco:
DeWitt is talking about the beating death two years ago of 67-year-old Berkeley Hills resident Peter Cukor. DeWitt's son Daniel was charged with the crime, but declared mentally incompetent to stand trial. She says the family had tried for years to get help.
"We can have as many good programs as we want in our community, but if they are voluntary and they don't understand they are ill, these people, they will not walk in and ask for help," said DeWitt.
That's why DeWitt is leading a grassroots effort to get Laura's Law implemented in Alameda County.
The 2002 law calls for involuntary community based, court-ordered outpatient treatment for certain individuals with a documented history of serious mental illness.
 The problem isn't just here.  From January 23, 2014 BBC:
Triple killer Joanna Dennehy has been diagnosed with three different personality disorders, a jury has heard.
Dennehy, 31, has admitted stabbing three men and dumping their bodies in ditches in Cambridgeshire last year.
Two men are on trial at Cambridge Crown Court, where they deny related charges.
The court has been told psychiatrists who assessed her found her to have psychopathic, anti-social and emotional instability disorders.
Lukasz Slaboszewski, 31, John Chapman, 56, and Kevin Lee, 48, were found dumped in ditches near Peterborough in March and April.
 Here's an Australian tragedy where a mentally ill man murdered his son with a knife in public, before being shot to death by police, from February 15, 2014 The Age:
On Wednesday he took the train to Tyabb with the concealed knife. His plan, police believe, was to commit ''suicide by cop'' after killing Luke.
Initial investigations indicate he didn't kill his son as an act of revenge or out of murderous rage, but through the fog of his mental illness he saw it as the only possible release for both of them.
The savagery of the attack showed he was determined to kill the 11-year-old.
Anderson made no attempt to escape. He waited for the police, fought through the pain of the capsicum foam sprayed on him and then, still carrying the knife, ran at one officer screaming that he wanted to be killed. That policeman fired one shot that hit Anderson in the chest. He died in hospital about six hours later.
His plan, borne from madness, was now complete.
There were five warrants out for Anderson's arrest when he smashed his son with a cricket bat and then attacked him with a knife. But he was never looking at serious jail time. Such relatively minor offences usually result in immediate bail.
The police computer system - a 20-year disaster - failed to notify operational police that he was wanted, but this murder cannot be written off as a law-enforcement failure. The senseless death of someone so innocent has again raised the iceberg-deep issue of domestic violence.
But the real issue is our inability to deal with the mentally ill, and the problem is getting worse. It is a massive problem, so much so that all police are being retrained to deal with the deeply disturbed.

Read more:
From Canada:
Officials say 37 year-old Ken Barter should not be released from a mental care facility, where he has been confined since killing his friend.
Nathan Mayrhofer, 32, was at Barter’s apartment for a night of drinking.
Barter, who was not taking his medications, thought his friend was trying to hypnotize him.
He killed Mayrhofer with a hammer, dismembered the body and placed it in his fridge and freezer.
Barter was found not guilty of second degree murder by reason of a mental disorder.
I could keep going.  There's no shortage of news stories like this in the last few weeks.  We need to do a better job of providing mental health care to those in need, not just for their benefit, but for the safety of the rest of us.

"Ukraine Protesters Arm Themselves With Homemade Weapons"

From February 20, 2014 NBC News:
An anti-government protester shoots an improvised weapon during clashes with riot police in Independence Square in Kiev on Thursday. 
Great picture: it looks like a homemade Claymore.  It makes you wonder what the situation would be like if the protesters were as well armed as your average Californian.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Third Clear Night Observing With The New Telescope

It is absurd that it has taken this long to get a third clear night.  And it was so cold that without my gloves on, shooting pains were going through my hands.  That's too cold.  Optics are spectacular. 

I need to spend a bit more time reading the Sky Commander digital setting circles instructions.  (My wife asks if Sky Commander is Buzz Lightyear's superior.)  Trying to make sense of them in the dark is a bit much.  Worse, I tried to do one-star setup, and it was pointing me in what was obviously the wrong direction for M42.  (When in doubt, try it on an object that you can actually see.)

I really do not want to wait for spring.  Perhaps I need some thin but still very warm gloves for this.  And start earlier in the evening.

Cracked Windshields And Unexpected, Unintentioned Repairs

Never be in too much of a hurry to get something fixed that isn't essential.  A few weeks back, the automatic headlights on the Jaguar started behaving oddly.  They would stop part-way through the drive to work, even if it was still dark out.  Then, after ten minutes.  Finally, they stopped working at all, and I had to turn the headlights on and off when I started and stopped the car.  (First World Problem, especially driving a Jaguar.)

I had been putting it off until the next oil change, figuring that I would drop the car off, pay too much for an oil change, and way too much to have them replace the rearview mirror that contains the light sensor.  It might just be a loose connection, but I do not have enormous confidence that a Jaguar mechanic would spend the time finding it.  It probably would not be any cheaper, once you figure their labor rate, than replacing the mirror.

Anyway, Safelite repaired a rock chip on the windshield in early January.  The insurance company covers the entire cost, because the repair is dramatically cheaper than a new windshield, and most of the time, that is enough.  (Our cars experience rock chip problems a lot because of the roads we drive on to and from Boise.) 

Normally, these repairs work well.  In this case, the crack grew.  Safelite came out and replaced the windshield.  Because the windshield had to come out, the rearview mirror had to come off.  When they put it back together, what do you know?  The automatic headlights work again!

Nice Little Surprise From ABC-CLIO

This is the company that bought up Greenwood Publishing Group, who published my second, fourth, and fifth books.  The nice little surprise is that after several years of royalty statements that said, "We don't write checks before $50" there was finally a check for $118!  Even these books that I wrote fifteen to twenty years ago are still selling, especially as e-books.

Bathroom Scales: Do They Really Need This Much Precision?

I have not used a bathroom scale in a long time.  Far more important than the number is whether your clothes are loose or tight, because muscle is denser than fat.  If you weigh the same amount, but you waistline is an inch smaller, it means that you have more muscle than you used to have.

But I need a bathroom scale to weigh my telescope.  (I am getting ready to order an equatorial platform, which provides an alternative form of equatorial mount tracking for a Dobsonian mount.)  As I look at bathroom scales on Amazon, I find myself asking: why bother with high precision bathroom scales that give you weight in 0.2 pound increments?  Does a fraction of a pound really matter?

Even more troubling: the scales that go up to 440 pounds.  If you need this scale, it is probably time for more than a scale.

I think I'll order this one, which is not only cheap, accurate within a pound, and most importantly: requires no batteries.  One less thing that will become useless with the coming collapse of civilization.

UPDATE: The customer reviews of the simple scale are dramatically different.  Some say it is accurate and cheap. Others say it is cheaply made and often varies as much as 60 pounds from day to day.  Hmmmm.  Reviews give high marks to this digital scale, and it's only $20.

Monday, February 17, 2014

5 Tips For A Strong Marriage

Thinking of getting married?  Having trouble with the marriage that you already have?  This may help: 5 Tips For A Strong Marriage, from my daughter and son-in-law, who are both social workers.

Marriage is more important than just your needs.  I am convinced that much of the collapse of American culture can be tied to the collapse of marriages.  Too many kids are growing up with rage, disappointment, and hurt because Mom and Dad couldn't work it out -- and when Mom and Dad go to church and still get divorced, it does enormous damage to the kids' understanding of the Christian faith.  Divorce destroys so much, and not just all the money that ends up with the divorce lawyers.

Solar Panel in the Telescope Garage

We finally had sunlight in abundance in conjunction with time in abundance.  (Today is a state employee holiday.)  I had not ordered a deep discharge storage battery, because I wanted to make sure that the rest of the parts that I was going to use for this project were in good working order.  I hooked up the solar panel to the inverter (which is claimed to be 5-45W capacity).  Then I plugged in a lamp with one of the curly CFL bulbs (since these typically only consume about 23W).  Curiously, the lamp just flickered on and off.  What?

Then I looked carefully at the back of the panel.  I thought (perhaps because of absurd optimism) that this was 15W output solar panel.  No, the promised output was 5W.  I suppose that I should consider it impressive that it even provided enough current to flicker a 23W CFL.

Anyway, this at least demonstrates that these parts are working, so I guess that I will buy a storage battery.  Perhaps I will buy one with a little more capacity, since a 5W panel is going to take a long time to build up much capacity.  But this is primarily an experiment; if I can use this to operate LED lights in the telescope garage, then it may make sense to buy a 35W panel, and build up enough charge to run an electric garage door opener (which has pretty substantial peak amperage requirements).

Using Cute Little Animals To Sell Obamacare

Rick Moran over at PJMedia points to the absurd ads that the White House is running trying to get young people, especially young women, to sign up on the exchanges.  My first reaction is: "You're joking, right?  Do you really think that adult women are so shallow and stupid that cute little kitten pictures are going to get them to sign up for health insurance?"  But after I thought about it for a while, I realized: if someone was shallow and stupid enough to vote for Obama not just once, but twice, maybe this will work.  Until they see what the insurance is going to cost them, and how high the deductibles are.

The comments are uproariously funny, like:
My cat had told me that she buries more useful things in her box than Obama has produced in five years in office.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

New York Grave Robbing Statute

From 1789, at 2:219:

The Adams-Farwell: An Early Radial Automobile Engine Design

A reader sent this to me.  I am still a bit confused how this can work: the crankshaft is stationary, and the radial cylinders move!  If the crankshaft is stationary, how does it impart motion to the wheels?  Still fascinating.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

New York's 1787 Buggery Statute

New York's 1787 buggery statute, vol. 1, p. 336 here.

Slightly revised in 1788 at vol. 2, p. 73 to exclude benefit of clergy:

New York State Abolishes Trial By Combat

Hey, don't laugh.  They did it earlier than England did.

The 9/11 Truther Stuff Gets Wilder and Wilder

The latest spam claims that thermonuclear devices were placed in the basements to bring down the buildings.  And that's why they collapsed?

The Western Heritage of Faith and Reason

That was the title of a textbook my wife used in college, back when dinosaurs ruled the Earth.  By that, it referred to the fact that Western Civilization was based on both the Judeo-Christian tradition of faith, and the Greek tradition of reason and logic.  It has been apparent for some time that the faith half of the heritage is vast vanishing, but now it appears that the scientific part of Western Civ is going away, too.  From February 15, 2014 Telegraph:
One in four Americans are completely unfamiliar with Nicolaus Copernicus's 1543 theory that the Earth circles the Sun, according to a study by the National Science Foundation.
The survey, released on Friday at an annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, asked 2,200 people nine factual questions about physical and biological science, with the average score being just 5.8 correct answers.
Now, I understand why the questions about evolution and the Big Bang gave answers the NSF found abhorrent -- because the faith half of Western Civilization is not completely dead.  But some of the other answers make me wonder what's left of the scientific tradition:
A total of 42 per cent of Americans said that astrology is either "very scientific" or "sort of scientific".

Belief in astrology over science seems to be growing. In 2004, 66 per cent of Americans thought astrology was nonsense. "Fewer Americans rejected astrology in 2012 than in recent years," the 2014 Science and Engineering Indicators report said.

"The comparable percentage has not been this low since 1983."
I am beginning to think that Mad Max world could be here in another thirty or forty years, as Christianity dies, the secular-scientific tradition fades away, and Islam becomes the dominant religion.

The Importance of Magazine Rotation -- Or At Least, Not Buying Aftermarket Magazines (UPDATE)

No, no, I don't mean rotating between Popular Science and Scientific American.  I pulled out my operational (as opposed to emergency stockpile backup) Browning Hi-Power this evening, because I will be taking a firearms training class on Sunday.  I have both genuine Browning magazines for it (13 rounds) and some aftermarket magazines.

When I first bought these, more than twenty years ago, Ram-Line made a Browning Hi-Power magazine that was only a fraction of an inch longer than the factory magazines, but they held 15 rounds.  At the time, I was regularly going into a very, very rough part of San Francisco (25% of the city's robberies in about ten square blocks) to use the law library.  (They could not take cash for photocopies on the second floor, because they had been robbed too many times -- and yet to get to the second floor, I had to show ID to a California State Police officer on the first.)  An extra two rounds before having to do a reload might have been conceivably useful.  If that sounds paranoid -- San Francisco was a very rough place, with serious gang problems in the early 1990s.  Today, as bad as it is, seems like a giant step forward.

Unfortunately, the next time I ordered some of these Ram-Line wonder magazines for the Browning -- they would not feed reliably.  They would not lock open the slide.  They did not even very reliably lock in place.  I was disappointed, and ended up ordering a dozen spare factory magazines.  I would rather have 13 completely reliable rounds than 15 that might work, and might not. 

Anyway, I have had these magazines loaded all this time (a mistake on a gun that you are not regularly carrying).  While all the factory Browning magazines still seemed to be fully springy, and lock the slide open solidly, one of the Ram-Line magazines was reluctant to give up the last several rounds.  More definitively, that same magazine would not lock the slide open when empty.  It is abundantly clear that the magazine spring has taken a set, as they say.  The other Ram-Line magazine seems to work perfectly, but I am going to test it tomorrow at Impact Guns in Boise.  Any questions about it, I won't use it for class.

It is a good argument for:

1. Do not leave magazines loaded for long periods of time unless you are regularly carrying the magazine, or you rely on it the magazine as a defensive gun for your home or business.  (And where I live?  Don't make me laugh.)

2. If your factory magazines are solid, top-notch, and completely reliable, think long and hard about whether the minor advantages of an aftermarket magazine are worth it.

3. Have plenty of spare magazines that are never loaded.  I used to think that it was silly that I have a dozen spare Browning magazines, and a dozen Ram-Line 25/22 magazines for the Ruger 10/22, and a dozen magazines for the light and heavy battle rifles -- but while magazine springs do not frequently wear out, it does happen.  Fatigue happens; keep spares.

I suspect that there is a replacement spring available for this magazine.  I suspect that it isn't very expensive, either.  I just need to find it!

UPDATE: I went to Brownell's website, chatted with a customer service rep in Windham, Maine, and he figured out which Wolff springs to send me to fix this. Outstanding!

UPDATE 2: Well, maybe not so outstanding.  It turns out that this Ram-Line magazine does not use a conventional coil spring.  It seems to be a weird kind that is permanently attached to the follower, and unrolls as the follower goes down the magazine.  This means that these Wolff springs are not useful to me.  These are 20 year old magazines, and I guess that Ram-Line was still experimenting at the time, so I can't get too upset with Brownell's for not knowing that.  I am seeing about returning the springs.  On the off chance that anyone needs part number 78673 Wolff springs (the 3-pack), I could sell them to you for what they cost me, $17.29.

Disassembling the Ram-Line magazine (which I should have done before placing the order) was mildly entertaining.  When I tried to put one of the Wolff springs in and replace the base plate, all I did was launch the base plate and parts to the far side of the room.  Some of the parts have still not reappeared.

In retrospect, I should have just thrown away this Ram-Line magazine, and ordered one of the Mec-Gar 15 round magazines for the Browning.  It would have only been a few dollars more.

We Are Apparently Short of Unskilled Workers in America

At least, that seems to be what the CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is saying.  In the February 13, 2014 Fresno Bee:
If companies can't find talent on U.S. soil, or if it becomes too costly and burdensome, they will move their operations elsewhere. It's in our own best interests to welcome the world's brightest minds and hardest workers into our economy.

Immigrants can help bridge a growing skills gap in science, technology, engineering and math - the so-called STEM fields that are vital to a modern, competitive economy.
I could see his point if the private sector was willing to hire workers over 40 for these jobs, but they do not.  So it isn't talent they want; it is low wage workers.  And since you can't hire software engineers for minimum wage yet, we are clearly short of skilled workers!  But then he goes on to discuss unskilled workers:
Immigration can also address labor shortages in lesser-skilled fields where there are insufficient numbers of either qualified or willing U.S. workers to fill positions.

Many studies have concluded that the greatest percentage of job growth in the United States through 2020 is expected in low- and moderate-skilled jobs that cannot be automated or outsourced. Services like home health and nursing home care, landscaping and hospitality cannot be provided without capable staff ready to do the work.
Maybe if you paid them better than minimum wage?

Read more here:

Read more here:

Need Some Help On Colorado Law

I am working on a paper for the Independence Institute of Colorado.  The paper is primarily aimed at influencing Colorado legislators (with whom the Independence Institute has some influence), but it will likely be used in other states as well.  Several advocacy groups report that Colorado law authorizes court-ordered outpatient treatment.  But what section of Colorado law does that?  I can't find any clear statement of this in statute.  Anyone here sufficiently knowledgeable in Colorado mental health law to clarify this?

UPDATE: It took some digging through the case law, but I found it.

Colorado law already provides for outpatient treatment orders for those found incompetent to stand trial,[i] as well as for involuntary civil commitment.[ii]

[i] Colo. Rev. Stats. § 16-8.5-111(a) (2008) (“As a condition of bond, the court may require the defendant to obtain any treatment or habilitation services that are available to the defendant, such as inpatient or outpatient treatment at a community mental health center or in any other appropriate treatment setting, as determined by the court.”)
[ii] Colo. Rev. Stats. § 27-65-107 (2010) (“The respondent for short-term treatment or his or her attorney may at any time file a written request that the certification for short-term treatment or the treatment be reviewed by the court or that the treatment be on an outpatient basis.”)