Saturday, April 10, 2021

Strict Scrutiny and Free Exercise of Religion

 Tandon v. Newsom (2021) granted relief from California's ban on in-home religious services until the Court hears the case, overturning the 9th Circuit's unwillingness to strike down the ban in the meantime.

First, government regulations are not neutral and generally applicable, and therefore trigger strict scrutiny under the Free Exercise Clause, whenever they treat any comparable secular activity more favorably than religious exercise. Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo, 592 U. S. ___, ___–___ (2020) (per curiam) (slip op., at 3–4). It is no answer that a State treats some comparable secular businesses or other activities as poorly as or even less favorably than the religious exercise at issue. Id., at ___–___ (KAVANAUGH, J., concurring) (slip op., at 2–3).

Second, whether two activities are comparable for purposes of the Free Exercise Clause must be judged against the asserted government interest that justifies the regulation at issue. Id., at ___ (per curiam) (slip op., at 3) (describing secular activities treated more favorably than religious worship that either “have contributed to the spread of COVID–19” or “could” have presented similar risks). Comparability is concerned with the risks various activities pose, not the reasons why people gather. Id., at ___ (GORSUCH, J., concurring) (slip op., at 2). 

Third, the government has the burden to establish that the challenged law satisfies strict scrutiny. To do so in this context, it must do more than assert that certain risk factors “are always present in worship, or always absent from the other secular activities” the government may allow. 

This is interesting because the insistence of courts of appeals to apply intermediate scrutiny to the Second Amendment is usually couched in public safety terms.  Bu this is also a public safety claim.  Perhaps the Court will get past its fear of court packing at some point and recognize that strict scrutiny applies here as well. 

Realistic War Movies Are Hard For Me to Not Watch

All sorts of good stuff is on YouTube for free.  I had forgotten had good Tora! Tora! Tora! wasI have tread enough of the history of the war to recognize how much it was effectively a docudrama. 

I just finished watching The Longest Day (1962).  While not as gritty as The Big Red One's unflinching portrayal of D-Day it has the same docudrama accuracy with good guys going down in combat, and the confusion and decision errors by the Germans that turned what might have been a devastating defeat of the greatest seaborne invasion in history into a victory for civilization, which America is now doing its best to destroy. 

The cast is a who's who of American, British, and German actors of the time, some not yet well-known such as Robert Wagner and Sean Connery.  Already famous: Peter Lawford; Richard Burton; Richard Widmark; John Wayne.

Some of the surprises were Red Buttons, mostly a comic actor at the time, and one real life WW2 hero: Eddie Albert who received the Bronze Star at the Battle of Tarawa.  Curiously, he toured Mexico as a clown before WW2 working for Army Intelligence.

I started out wondering went a 1962 film of this budget was filmed in black and white.  Part way through it became clear: they integrated real D-Day footage into the film and the U.S. military was not farsighted enough to film in color.  Tremendously well done and entertaining.  It really makes you appreciate the courage and self-sacrifice of so many Americans, Canadians, Britons, and Free French.

Friday, April 9, 2021


My earliest memory is just before two which would be 1958.  I know it is that age because I described the house and the family providing daycare to my mother; she immediate knew when and where.  It was a 1950s refrigerator, the kind where the door and frame were all rounded.  The father pulled a beer out of the fridge and handed it to me, knowing I would take it like a soft drink.  It was yucky!  His wife reprimanded him.  I still hate beer today, probably for that reason. 

The next memories are I think from about four.  Because my father was on the run from the FBI, he lived in San Pedro, working at Todd Shipyards far from where our mother was raising me and my four siblings in Chula Vista.   These days, withholding reporting would have put the FBI at his employer at the second paycheck.  Back then, pretty much nothing was computerized. 

Friday nights we would all get into a car whose make and appearance is a complete blank.   Some sort of four door sedan, either 1940s or 1950s at best; the opening line of the Steve Martin film The Jerk immediately comes to mind. 

We drove up U.S. 101 from Chula Vista to San Pedro.   It was a long slow drive because lots of it went through cities along the way as surface streets.  I suspect it was only about three or four hours but I always fell asleep. 

My father rented a cottage on top of a hill that was walking distance to the shipyard.  (We had one crummy car in our family.)  It was built in the 1920s or 1930s.  Housing in Southern California was still cheap.  There was an arbor with figs, I think, growing over the sidewalk from parking to the front door.  It was very high above the surrounding flats, maybe 200 feet.  There were two roads to the top, one on the south side of the hill, one on the north.  I think there were a few other similarly decrepit cottages up there. 

We would arrive in what seemed the dead of night.  A vivid memory that I can still smell: pot roast.  My father would put a pot roast, carrots, onions, potatoes in the oven at a very low heat before he went off to work on swing shift.  By the time we arrived the smell was unimaginably good.  Stare at the roast hard and it would disassemble. 

There was a basement accessible from the outside.   I have some memory of wanting to get inside but it was kept locked.  I doubt they were any secrets.  The area was infested with black widow spiders and I am sure that my mother was being protective.  

There were not enough beds.   I remember sleeping on the floor next to my sister Marilyn who drilled me on times tables up to 12x12.  I do not remember learning to read.  My sister Susan remembers my brother Ron teaching me to read before I was two. I have to take her word for that because I do not remember a time when I was not reading books.  By first grade I was reading and understanding my brother's high school chemistry textbook.  Nor surprisingly, I skipped kindergarten.

First grade was at St. John's Episcopal elementary school.  I have a vague recollection that my mother was a clerk for a school system and my tuition was therefore paid by her employer. 

I recall that Mrs. Fuqua (yes, Hawaiian) was using phonetics to teach reading.  I played along because she turned the process into a game.  

I have one embarrassing memory.  I was reluctant to raise my hand to go to the bathroom during class, producing a large puddle under my desk.   I think other students laughed but Mrs. Fuqua was the model of a good teacher in handling it.

We lived in the Woodland Apartments in Chula Vista which from Google Maps still seem to be there next to the charter school.  Back then it was my sister Marilyn's junior high.  I recall vividly standing in the cold gluing matchbooks to a student government campaign poster for her.  (I think the idea was that she was unmatched for the office.)

We lived in a two bedroom apartment on the second floor.  My eldest sister Carolyn had already gone off to UCLA.  Susan and Marilyn shared one bedroom.  My brother and I shared the other bedroom.  My mother slept in the living room I think partly to shield us from FBI agents who, without search warrants, demanded to search the apartment for my father.   Perhaps an arrest warrant authorized a search.  They kept threatening to take away her children if she did nor reveal where my father was.  I think it was an empty threat.  They never took us.  My skepticism of Big Government was learned young. 

I have another vivid memory.  My father was moving out of the cottage.   He had taken a fall at work, suffered amnesia and wandered the streets of San Pedro for several days before he received medical care and his memory returned.

I believe we were going to meet my mother somewhere because my father had no car which is why he lived walking distance to his welding job at the shipyard.  We walked or rather he carried me on his shoulders for much of a mile or two to the ferry terminal.   I remember him getting me a Hostess chocolate pie from a convenience store.  Do you remember them?

The ferry took us across some body of water associated with the Navy base, which back then, was open for us to walk down the docks looking at warships. 

There are two ugly memories of the time.  My family caught a fish off the end of San Pedro pier.  They attempted to clean it on the kitchen table.  I was just old enough to see over the top as fish guts and smell went everywhere.   To this day, I cannot eat any ocean dweller if it looks or smells like fish.  Fish sticks, or fish and chips are okay.

The other traumatic memory:   We were driving north on U.S. 99.  Seatbelts were not yet required and the few cars that had them as an option were expensive.  I was asleep on the back seat and a drunken Marine from Camp Pendleton rear ended us.  I either went unconscious or I blotted the trauma from my memory.  My next memory is being in the back of Uncle Lloyd's pickup truck near Long Beach as the Sun rose.  I was plagued until adolescence with night terrors where I was in the back seat and some indescribable monster appeared at the window. 

Lots of other memories of Chula Vista if these are interesting.

Finally Proof It Was Not Water

Some fatigue and mild muscle pain this afternoon.  At first I thought it was gardening excess, but I did not do that much lifting. 

Cheap Starter for Astronomy

Orion is advertising their 20x80mm astronomical binoculars for $159.  This is easily the greatest bargain in astronomical instruments today. 

Thursday, April 8, 2021

It Must Be Wonderful to Live in a World Where Everything You Imagine Can Be Real

4/7/21 White House press release of Biden's remarks:

Imagine a world where you and your family can travel coast to coast without a single tank of gas, or in a high-speed train, close to as fast as you can go across the country in a plane. 

Europe and China have some high speed trains but not jet speed.   Wind resistance, Mr. President, or are you proposing 3000 miles of vacuum tube?

And this gem:
We’re going to talk about commercial aircraft flying at subsonic speeds — supersonic speeds.  Be able to, figuratively, if you may — if we decided to do it, traverse the world in about an hour, travel 21,000 miles an hour. 

And what is a 21,000 mph flight going to cost?  And what defense contractor is whispering in Biden's ear: "Just 20 trillion dollars to get started."

2nd Shot

Head and arms fell off; otherwise doing well.  (Typing this with my toes ) 

Roghani's provided a complimentary dessert because it was our anniversary.   Flourless chocolate cake so I did not fall asleep until 3 AM. Nap now because of that not the vaccine. 

Twelve hours later:  Aside from a slight fatigue (which I might imagined) and a sore arm, I feel fine.

More States Telling Biden Where to Go

 4/7/21 Arizona channel 15:

PHOENIX — On Thursday President Biden is expected to announce a series of executive actions addressing gun violence. No matter what those actions are, there is a very good chance that in Arizona, they’ll be ignored.

The group Moms Demand Action assembled outside the executive tower on Tuesday. They were hoping to convince the governor to veto HB 2111. In his office, nine floors up, Governor Ducey signed the bill.

“We know there is nothing silly about anything that would make us less safe and that’s what this law will ultimately do,” Steffanie Richardson of Moms Demand Action said. “So we were trying to prevent that. We wanted the governor to recognize that and veto it. Unfortunately, he signed into law.”

HB 2111 is a pre-emptive strike by the Arizona Legislature to block any type of federal gun reform that its supporters say endangers the second amendment. During a February committee hearing, the bill’s sponsor State Representative Leo Biasiucci of Lake Havasu City said, “we in the state of Arizona don’t want the federal government to infringe on our second amendment rights regardless whether it’s banning background checks or AR15’s it’s up to the state to decide that.”

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

New Laptop

The Lenovo X140E works well but video editing running Brave Thunderbird Access Word and Excel pushes the limits of a quad core processor and 16GB of RAM.  I am looking at a Lenovo 128GB RAM 1TB SSD hexcore.  128GB so Windows 28 will not over stress its RAM capacity.  I really like the 14" screen I have now.  Yes it is a slight pain to use, but the package size makes it very easy to use on an airplane tray table (whenever that starts to happen again).  The 15" or (15.6" screens to be precise) take up more space admittedly with an easier to read screen.  Also, the 14" models seem to not have either 64GB or 128GB RAM available.  They also have the higher resolution UHD or 4K (not quite identical but close).  I do not know if any of my monitors can even get close to that.  But if I can get my Word document and a 20th century newspaper front page legible on one screen it might be worth going to a 4K monitor for office use.

I Would Never Have Guessed It

There are laptops assembled in the U.S. often with globally sourced parts including some U.S. parts.

That includes Lenovos made in North Carolina.   Yes I know money still flows to China and likely some espionage software the other way.  It was still a surprise. 

Dressed Up For 41st Anniversary Dinner Out

Lovely meal at Roghani's in Eagle.  A expensive but spectacular French restaurant.  Plan on spending $100 plus wine for two.  Not something you do every week, but for a special occasion, a nice little extravagance.   Like eating at John Ash in Sonoma County although I think I like Roghani's more although John Ash has a more impressive setting. 

Nerd Squared Video

 If you are a software engineer, or a space enthusiast, or just warped, you will enjoy this video about the Apollo Guidance Computer developed in the early 1960s to land the LM on the Moon.

It Is A Good Thing, No One in the Biden Administration Knows Anything About Gun Laws

 4/7/21 Politico:

Biden will direct the administration to begin the process of requiring buyers of so-called ghost guns — homemade or makeshift firearms that lack serial numbers — to undergo background checks, according to three people who have spoken to the White House about the plans. He is expected to be joined at the event by Attorney General Merrick Garland.

If you are not a licensed maker you may not sell a ghost gun already. Perhaps they want to require 80% receiver sellers to do so.  But those are not firearms.  I have a 0% AR-15 lower that I bought at the local metals store.

Other executive actions remain unclear. But stakeholders have speculated that the president could announce regulations on concealed assault-style firearms; prohibitions on firearm purchases for those convicted of domestic violence against their partners; and federal guidance on home storage safety measures.

The domestic violence provision has been the law since the 1990s.  These guys are idiots.  The gun banners know this as well.  This is to make reporters cheer Biden's courage.  Adding concealable rifle caliber handguns as short-barreled rifles by regulation will run into the same problem as the bump stock ban by regulation did.  Can anyone remember any other concealable rifle caliber mass murders?  Apparently the Dayton mass murder in 2019 as well.

I don't see how by Executive Order Biden can bring concealable AWs under NFA regulation.  NFA applies to machineguns, suppressors, and short-barrelled rifles.

18 USC 921(a)(7) The term “rifle” means a weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder and designed or redesigned and made or remade to use the energy of an explosive to fire only a single projectile through a rifled bore for each single pull of the trigger.

The AR-15 pistols are not intended to be fired from the shoulder, nor can they be.

18 USC 921(a)(8) The term “short-barreled rifle” means a rifle having one or more barrels less than sixteen inches in length and any weapon made from a rifle (whether by alteration, modification, or otherwise) if such weapon, as modified, has an overall length of less than twenty-six inches.

Regardless of barrel length they are not rifles under subsection 7 so regardless of barrel length they can not be regulated as short-barreled rifles.

So what is the purpose?  Their gun banning friends know this is crap.  The target is reporters who know nothing about gun laws ("There are gun laws?").  To quote the 5/8/16 New York Times interview of aspiring novelist turned deputy national security adviser for strategic communications by President Obama: "The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.”

UPDATE: From the White House release

The Justice Department, within 60 days, will issue a proposed rule to make clear when a device marketed as a stabilizing brace effectively turns a pistol into a short-barreled rifle subject to the requirements of the National Firearms Act. The alleged shooter in the Boulder tragedy last month appears to have used a pistol with an arm brace, which can make a firearm more stable and accurate while still being concealable.

This seems marginally within the NFA, but one that I suspect courts will uphold. 

Mental Illness & Murder

 As regular readers know, mental illness and mass murder are closely related.  Even individual murders, also.  4/6/21 Free Beacon:

The Nation of Islam said it is investigating what caused one of its followers to stage a deadly assault against U.S. Capitol police last week, calling the deceased attacker a "brother with such great potential" who could have been a "star in the mission of the resurrection of our people."

The group distanced itself from the attack by its supporter Noah Green, saying it "absolutely disavow[s] this act that resulted in the senseless loss of life," and indicated that it was looking into a number of potential explanations for "what caused this"—including mental illness, depression, Green's own claims that his food was being poisoned, and that he was under "mind control."

"I am sure, had [Green] been blessed to come through the crisis that he was going through, he would have been a star in the mission of the resurrection of our people," said Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. "We need to know what happened to our brother."

Green, a 25-year-old Nation of Islam supporter, killed Officer William Evans after ramming his car through a barrier at the Capitol on Friday. Green attacked a second officer with a knife before being shot and killed by police.

The Nation of Islam described Green as a young man who "struggled in his early life but overcame much as a student to graduate with a degree in finance. He had a wonderful, noble idea to help the black and brown people through his knowledge of finance."

The organization added that "our research is continuing into what happened to this young man and we cannot rest until we find out what caused him to take a turn like this. We are saddened by the loss of this brother with such great potential."

In a social media post before the attack, Green claimed that he "suffered multiple home break-ins, food poisoning, assaults, unauthorized operations in the hospital, mind control."

The Anti-Semitism of the Left Sticks Its Ugly Microcephalic Head Out Again

 4/7/21 Free Beacon quoting 4/7/21 Jerusalen Post:

Union leader Randi Weingarten criticized Jews as "part of the ownership class" dedicated to denying opportunities to others in an interview released on Friday.

Weingarten—who is herself Jewish and draws a six-figure salary as head of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT)—took aim at American Jews in an interview with the Jerusalem Post. When asked about parents critical of the AFT's resistance to school reopening, Weingarten took aim squarely at Jewish critics.

"American Jews are now part of the ownership class," Weingarten said. "Jews were immigrants from somewhere else. And they needed the right to have public education. And they needed power to have enough income and wealth for their families that they could put their kids through college and their kids could do better than they have done."

"What I hear when I hear that question is that those who are in the ownership class now want to take that ladder of opportunity away from those who do not have it," she said.

Weingarten's comments come after months of political conflict about whether to reopen school system as vaccinations ramp up and the coronavirus crisis recedes.

How, exactly, does not putting kids with no parents at home and no computer (overwhelmingly BIPOC) back in a classroom take away "that ladder of opportunity."  It seems that her strategy does that.


Exercise Question

 I am finding that even using 400 more calories a day than I eat, working out seems to make me smaller in the waist, but heavier.  Is this food converting to muscle which is denser than fat?

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Telescope Garage Slab

Just about any task that pays well involves more than materials.   Watching these guys put down the shed slab is a reminder that some things cannot be ordered on Amazon and that the people who work with their hands who the Democrats hate so much deserve respect, not contempt. 

I have never watched this process before.  Pour

Sliding across to get an even height.
Smoothing the surface by pushing the big chunks under or to the side.

What All States Should Do

4/6/21 Inside Higher Education reports (unsurprisingly ) that employers really want people with liberal arts degrees.  Employers under 40 want more evidence of community involvement and practical application (burning down federal buildings?).  They contrast this with 3/17/21 First Coast News about Florida is discussing reducing financial aid for students majoring in fields that have limited job opportunities.  Students are complaining that this, "would toy with their ability to attend school for their passions and interests."  Not toying with but not wasting money on education in degrees such as "gender studies" and "gay studies" that lead to jobs at Starbucks. 

The Inside Higher Education article points to a 2018 Gallup survey that found an unusually larger drop in confidence in the highest education system.  Can you imagine that or why?

Sunday, April 4, 2021

"I Can't Breathe!"

 The 1 hour+ body cam video of George Floyd's arrest is here.  Starting at about 10:00, he is complaining about claustrophobia as they attempt to force him into the back seat.  Then he says, "I can't breathe."  His behavior shows a person high as a kite, freaked out by claustrophobia, and unsurprisingly having trouble breathing.  (The occluded arteries doubtless aggravated the breathing distress.)  The carefully edited version of his arrest used to provoke race riots and race guilt is worse than the edit of the Rodney King arrest.  6/5/20 San Jose Mercury-News:

George Floyd had drugs in his system and severe heart disease when a Minneapolis police officer put a knee to his neck, but independent experts said the medical problems revealed in the full autopsy report don’t change the conclusion that the handcuffed man’s death was a homicide.

“He has some underlying conditions” that made it more likely he would not fare well under stress, said Dr. Gregory Davis, medical examiner for Jefferson County, Ala., and a pathology professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. But the circumstances of Floyd’s May 25 death are not ignored in Wednesday’s report, which said “restraint and neck compression are part of why he died,” Davis said.

Dr. Stephen Nelson, chairman of Florida’s medical examiners commission, agreed. Even if someone with severe heart disease died of a heart attack during a purse-snatching, “we’d still call it a homicide,” he said.

“Is this stress associated with his interaction with law enforcement enough to put him over the edge? Yes, it is,” Nelson said.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Iowa Constitutional Carry

4/2/21 Des Moines Register reports the governor has signed a constitutional carry law.

Building a Breeder Reactor at Home

I watched this video about a teenager who built a functioning breeder reactor in the garden shed.  Eventually it became a Superfund site.  He served on the USS Enterprise but not in the reactor section.  Tragic ending.  Like many really brilliant people (such as my older brother) he eventually had a schizophrenic breakdown and died young of an alcohol Fentanyl mixture. Still fascinating what a smart kid who was a terrible student could do: making plutonium at home.  There is enough detail there to make a truly scary YouTube video.

Went Shooting Today

I had three goals: verify that the 6 round Mustang magazines work; verify that the Firestar feeds and ejects properly; try out the Marlin Camp Carbine that I have not fired in many years. 

Everything worked as expected.  I really should have looked over the Promag OE Colt magazines.  They are identical right down to the Colt stamp in the base.  No wonder they worked. 

The Firestar had been a concern after the last trip had one failure to extract out of 14 rounds.  This time, even using the Russian made Brown Bear FMJs which I have found unreliable on feed and eject in the past worked fine for three magazines.  Accuracy was only so-so.  See picture of bent support on the self-healing spinner.  But the spinner and ball did indeed do pretty good job of self-healing.   I was able to move the ball from 25 to 50 yards with the Marlin.
4" diameter for the spinner and the ball is a little small for a 2.75" barrel gun. They are cheap enough to buy the 6" versions. 

The Marlin was as I remember it.  No recoil and adequately accurate for 25 to 50 yard self defense. 

When I returned home to clean the guns, I found the Marlin filled with coarse grained powder.  I must not have cleaned it the last time shot it.  Unlike many pistols which will become ill behaved if not kept clean, the Marlin functioned perfectly.   Why did I not clean it last time?

Once clean, the reassembly reminded me why.  The AR-15 and even the slightly clumsier M1A are dead simple compared to the Marlin. 

Also, the LCM for the Marlin turned out to be 21 rounds. 

Booming Idaho Economy

And not just building homes to deal with our emerging house gridlock!

Today I saw a billboard for Lactalis a local cheese maker promising higher wages and a $750 signing bonus.

As much as the boom is making this area a low-crime San Jose, at least everyone who wants a job has one.

Friday, April 2, 2021

I Have Made This Point Before

 The Government Model that you are not carrying because of weight or bulk is less effective than the mouse gun that you actually have with you.  Remember: your goal is to make the bad guy ask himself: Do I want to bleed to death in five hours, explain to a police officer in an ER why I have a gunshot wound, or look for an easier target?  A mass murderer is a situation where the .45 or even the 9mm JHP matters a lot more; he is probably planning suicide anyway.  But mass murder is pretty darn rare.

If you draw a gun, plan to use it.  But if you draw on someone who intends you great bodily harm, I suspect most will suddenly remember an appointment elsewhere.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

"Someday we will go to the Moon!"

 Several years ago, I saw the claim Los Angeles inner-city schools were so badly funded that they used science books with that hopeful sentence.  My first reaction was, "That's absurd."  Then I thought about how badly some public school systems work, and I found myself wondering, "Is this why black kids are doing so poorly in college?"

I tried to find that article.  What came up was 2/8/11 Winston-Salem Journal:

When Gina Webster took over as media coordinator at Walkertown Middle School in 2000, she found the offerings needed more than a bit of updating.

The average copyright date of print materials was 1961, and there were such titles as "Let's Visit the USSR" and "We Live in West Germany," she said.

One book contained the sentence: "Someday we will go to the moon."

What are the chances that two different districts had the same out of date science book?  Or is this a story the left uses to justify higher spending and avoid confronting cultural problems in the ghetto?  Has anyone seen similar claims?

Good COVID News

16% of the U.S. is fully vaccinated.  28.5% have received the first dose

Won't the left be furious once they lose excuses to control us so tightly.