Thursday, July 31, 2008

To Serve Man

The aliens are only doing this because they want to serve man.

For them, I guess, beefy conservatives are an improvement over vegan liberals.

The Relative Costs of Transit

There is an interesting article here, that looks into the cost of transport in terms of BTU/passenger-mile, suggesting that driving your car might be an improvement over taking the train. What needs further looking into is the cost/passenger mile. Gasoline produces125,000 BTU/gallon, diesel produces 139,000 BTUs, or about 12% more, at about 20% more dollars/gallon. Motorcycles are carried on the chart as getting 60 mpg. Mine does more like 40, and burns premium to boot. Most bikes are happier on the higher octane stuff, but to each his own. My truck gets better mileage on mid-grade, enough so that it costs me less to drive using mid-grade than bottom-shelf regular.

Scooters famously get some 80 mpg, but many are 2-strokes that require oil be mixed in with the gas. The special oil adds up to $1.50 or so per gallon to the fuel costs, which suggests that driving costs are 80 miles per $5.50 or $.06875/mile. If your fuel only cost $4.00/gal from the pump, you could burn it at 58 mpg, as you would with a middle-sized (350cc) 4-stroke motorcycle, for the same price, and be legal on the freeways.

The electric bicycle looks pretty good in this study, but the fact that it is limited to very short hops between charges is not factored in.

There is an extensive discussion of the equivalent costs of walking versus riding a bicycle, vs. driving a car here, some of which gets a bit silly. After all, wouldn’t you burn more calories in your car if you were listening to a heavy metal/thrash station and fidgeting/banging your head energetically along with the music while you drove?

Commentary on the original article is here. Feel free to jigger up your own figures supporting whatever Uniform Standard Dollars Per Mile your favorite mode of transport costs.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Nationalized Health Care

On a state level, such as what you find in Mass. or Oregon. From Oregon, here's proof that this sort of thing leads only to shortages and rationing.

Opponents of physician-assisted suicide are fired up this summer, and rightfully so, over an ethically questionable provision of the Oregon Health Plan.

The conflict came to light in a recent report in The Register-Guard of Eugene. The newspaper described the sad plight of Barbara Wagner, a 64-year-old Springfield woman with lung cancer.

After her oncologist prescribed a cancer drug that would cost $4,000 a month, the newspaper reported, "Wagner was notified that the Oregon Health Plan wouldn't cover the treatment, but that it would cover palliative, or comfort, care, including, if she chose, doctor-assisted suicide."

RTWT. Perhaps they thought that if they helped this lady shuffle off the mortal coil by subsidizing the purchase of a handgun, they'd be getting more bang for the taxpayers buck. Perhaps her doctor could assist her by advising against the purchase of a .25 auto.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Work is the Curse of the Drinking Class

Posting will be sparse the next few days.
13 hour days at work will do that to you.


Went out to prep the Honda last Friday, and noticed a bit of Bondo flaking off the right front frame down tube. This is not a place one usually associates with Bondo, so I chipped it off, and found it was covering a 360 deg. fracture of the frame tube. I mean it almost looked like someone had cut the tube in two with a hacksaw.
Finding this somewhat disconcerting, and thinking it probably had something to do with the remarkably mundane handling the bikes had been exhibiting, I made a quick check of the rest of the frame. Of the four backbone tubes, 2 were fractured completely through, and the other two were fractured about 2/3 of the way around.
It appears the bike had been in an accident with the prior owner, who, of course, assured me it hadn't, and the stresses induced in the modest bending of the frame had resulted in the fractures, over time.
I pushed things back toward where they belong, and welded up the damage as best I could, which results in a much better handling bike, but nevertheless, one that needs a new frame.
One more unwanted item on my "to do" list.

Small Gods

My squirrel trap is working impressively well, bagging one every couple days, I'm up to eight in 2 weeks now. The problem is disposing of the bodies. I got 2 in quick succession near the beginning of last week, and facing 5 days of 90+ degree weather, elected to bury them. Then something came round, and dug one up. Again, Friday PM, after trash pickup, I got another, and thought to myself: "Self, I bet if I just leave this one under the Walnut tree where the other one was dug up, I bet he'll be gone tomorrow morning."
Sure enough, it worked. Likewise with the next one.
One of Terry Pratchetts characters from the Discworld series is Offler, the crocodile god. His followers have a small statue of him in their houses with a platform in front of the figuring, and honor him by leaving a small bowl of food there at night. In the morning, the food is gone, and life goes on with minimal disturbance for the follower.
This is getting to be like being a follower of Offler. Leave the offering, and in the morning the offering is gone, and my peaches continue uneaten.
My only worry at this point is what happens if the supply of squirrels dries up, and Offler doesn't get fed? Does he come looking for me or what?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Squirrel Trap

Got another one Friday PM, just after the trash pickup. Dumped the water and the squirrel out on an under-watered walnut tree where I had buried the last 2 (see comments in Squirrel Gun post below) and figured I'd bury the varmint the next day. Suspected I wouldn't have to. I was right. If you feed them, they will come.

Guns and crime

Violence in Chattanooga is apparently reaching levels heretofore not seen outside of Falluja, and the Chattanooga PD is “gunning up” with Bushmaster “urban assault rifles” which have an operative range between 400 and 696 meters (440-760 yds, 2.5-4.3 city blocks). Watch the video clip for a demonstration of the guns "range and effectiveness" at 25 yds on the police range.

They also fire rounds that either do not penetrate past the intended target, assuming you hit the target, or else penetrate through some implied levels of cover, depending on which ammo the gun is loaded with when the officer brings it into play. This is described as an improvement in public safety as you will now be able to proceed about your business while the gunfight rages, knowing that the cops never miss, their bullets never over penetrate, and if they do miss, they also claim that the strays quickly disintegrate in the air in embarrassment. What effect this has on the guns effective range is not mentioned.

Columbine is trotted out as justification for all this, notwithstanding that by the time the cops actually entered the school, the shooters had finished for the day, and courteously offed themselves. Additional justification is the increasing number of mass-murdering psychopaths the officers are allegedly encountering, although the only cited use of the weapon so far was against a suspect in a house, who came out peacefully when ordered. A revolver was found in the house, which in Chattanooga is considered a “powerful and dangerous weapon”.

The rifles are to be kept locked up inside the officers patrol cars until needed, and will eventually be issued to all patrol officers including the bicycle officers who patrol downtown.

Monies for this upgrade to the police “tacticoolness quotient” comes from federal forfeitures from gun dealers, purchasing agents, and anyone else who can’t produce an a permit to carry over $10K in cash. People like this are described as “drug dealers”.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Annonymous Gods

The 4th circuit has ruled that prayers in public places must be strictly non-denominational to the point that the Deity being supplicated may not be named. Hmmmm:

"O He-that-must-never-be-named*, we beseech you to reach across the vasty void and take those who meet here today to make the weightiest of decisions, and draw them near to your scaly breast that they may see, in your gaping maw the wisest course of action. With fondest hopes that they may be pleasing to your palette, Amen."

*Lest he interpret the naming as a summons, which the Scriptures assure us, will make anything Al Gore has threatened us with look like a walk in the Elysian Fields.

Dorwin Award

In the spirit of the Darwin Awards, this one goes to the politician who can speak the longest without saying anything. You can probably think of people with looooong careers in the government who have never actually said anything that wasn't hedged to the max, but we'll limit this to whatever they said, or didn't say, at one sitting.

Extracted by Watchman's Words from Asimov's Foundation series.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Cruise the Antarctic in a plane with Terrain Following Radar. Keep between the peaks and follow the valleys or go directly over the peaks to get a view of the terrain. Left-right steering using your mouse, no up-and-down. You can't crash. After a while you begin to wish for a 20mm on the space bar or something, but still, fun for a while.

Squirrel Gun

Squirrel trap, to be more correct, even if the parts came off my squirrel gun.
Progress report; Got 2 more the next day and two more the day after. Didn't see one all weekend. This thing is like a black hole for squirrels.

Here it is Tuesday, and 2 new ones have shown up. I don't expect them to be here long. If I was into that Foxfire stuff, I could have a squirrel coat by winter.

It could always be worse. Over the weekend we discovered that the fellow behind the man across the street from me has 2 adult and six baby skunks living under his backyard shed,
and the folks down the block have a family of four foxes under their front deck.
Wifey-poo said something about a coon on the back porch. Can the lions and bears be far behind?


Darling Daughter, as you may know, has a learners permit, which means she can ride her bike only in the company of dually licensed riders. So she went off yesterday with B.F., and several co-workers for a short jaunt around town. Two of this motley crew have sport bikes, and have discovered how easily they get up on one wheel. One of them is so good, he wants to become a riding instructor.
The instructor wannabe was demoing his skills on the rear wheel, when he over-cooked it just a bit, and demonstrated the meaning of the phrase "ass over teakettle", and "parked in a tree".
He was not seriously injured, just seriously embarrassed, and once the road rash was scrubbed away by the helpful medics at the local e-room, he was back assessing the damage to the bike, which did not fare so well.
What are friends for if not to help. I get a call to hurry up and come retrieve a crashed bike, I believe, on the theory that if the evidence is gone before the police show up, then no one will have to explain very much of what was going on. Nice thinking, but I'm 11 miles away, and need to uncap the truck before I can get going. Did I mention this happened in rush hour traffic? By the time I get there, the light show rivals the 4th of July, and the ambulance is ready to leave. I show up, loading ramp and all and the nice (burley) firemen helped me load the bike and everything.
The crew, the motley one, had been warning our hero for some time about his flirtation with disaster, and, as soon as it appeared he was OK, began carefully documenting the damage to the bike, hes gear (he was wearing all of it), and his dignity with their cell phones. They're also lamenting that none of them have a Facebook page to post them on. Who knows, they may get one, now that they have some good material.
Our "instructor" is showing great promise, as by his example, the other sportbike rider has learned to keep both wheels firmly on the ground at all times.
It also appears that the word "motley" isn't being abused here, as 2 of the 6 in the crew, upon assuring themselves that our hero was essentially undamaged, decided that, since their own circumstances would not bear too close a scrutiny by the police, they could hear their mommies calling them to dinner. Or something.

The experiences of my own wasted youth being such that absolutely none of this was the least bit novel or surprising, I had to laugh.

War in Iraq

At some point it becomes just impossible to hide the truth. When you hear about the commercial success of the first KFC to open in Falluja, you've got to believe the good guys are winning.

Obama probably thinks a fried chicken franchise is racist.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Future economies

I read science fiction a lot, and over time some things begin to pop out at you. The flying car, which I've been promised since the 40's, still isn't here yet. You read about flying cars, but you never read about the schmuck working in the flying car factory.
You see the starship captain ask for, and get, a cup of tea from the matter generator, and think;"wow, everything is free for the asking. No it's not. The matter in the form of tea, formerly existed as energy in the starship's engines. No engine, no tea.
Imagine a future in which Quai-chaing and Mei-lee are sitting in their apartment in Hei Lung somewhere, bemoaning the fact that everything on the shelves at the local Wal-Mart is marked Made in Aldebaran any more. And talk about lax border control, half the aliens on the streets are there illegally.
The possibilities here, just go on and on.

Alternative Energy

A friend of mine sent me a link to a piece by Steven Den Beste on alternative energy in which he sets forth his criteria for an energy source to be viable. He doesn’t use the word viable, but in the end this is what he’s looking for. A generator on a bicycle is an alternative energy source, it just isn’t viable unless that’s all the energy you need, and you have the spare time to do the pedaling.

A truly viable energy source is one that produces enough surplus energy, after supplying the surrounding society, to support the manufacture of its own replacement. Machines wear out, after all.

Always remember, when you hear someone going on about alternative energy, that the word they’re leaving out is “viable”.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

What's News

What do you know about what's going on? Here's a quiz from the liberals at the Pew Research center to find out just how much, or how little you actually know. It's 12 questions, so it'll be quick.
I got 91% or 11/12.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Global Warming

Right Wing News has an excerpt of an article highly critical of global warming.
Go here, and see a summary of an article in Physics and Society, a learned journal of the 10,000-strong American Physical Society, containing what is described as mathematical proof that the underlying theory behind AGW is baloney.
Bottom line; AGW is bunk. Imagine my surprise.
I wonder if the candidates will consider waffling a bit on their positions regarding taxing and regulating us out of this non-problem.

Squirrel Gun

I am become Shiva, destroyer of squirrels.

OK that's probably a bit melodramatic, but you've got to get your victories where you can.
Monday as I'm playing with the dog, I notice that my incipient bumper crop of peaches has been reduced to rather pedestrian pickins. The Squirrels sit in my peach tree and eat the small, hard, green peaches down to the pits, and drop the pits on the lawn in a pile.
I set up the pipe-and-bucket trap last night, and this afternoon I have not one but TWO of the peach-eating little varmints in the bucket. Bag and tag and trash day is Friday morning. I'm impressed with how fast this works.
Wifey-poo says she'll never be able to use that bucket again.
Large, delicious peaches later this year.

Sarkozy to Irish:

"All you dumb Micks get back in the booth, and this time pull the YES lever."

Irish to Sarkozy: "(redacted)"

Me: If the Irish keep this up, my health may suffer from all the toasts I need to drink.

Up the Irish! Saving Europe once a fortnight.

Gun Control Works

Except in Chicago, home of some of the most draconian gun control outside of D.C. where Gov Blagojevich thinks he may need to call in the National Guard to try to slow down the murder rate.

"Blagojevich said there's been a child shot nearly every day since June 26"

Keeping in mind that any gangsta under the age of 21 is a child for statistical purposes.

So how's that Gun control working out again, Rod?

Monday, July 14, 2008


Over at Right Side of the Rainbow, which I visit regularly, they're celebrating the opening the box of the new I-phone with the kind of speechless adoration usually reserved for the ceremonial undressing of your prom date.
After all the pomp, stomp, and pictures, I was disappointed to find the thing didn't even come with 2 spare magazines.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Galen and I trotted the CZ 82s out to the range today to try out some reloads. We are using Meister Bullets 93gr RNL bullets, and Hodgdon Titegroup powder. I use Titegroup in my .357 and get good results and economy from it.

There is no specific load data for this bullet for Titegroup powder, although they list data for similar weight jacketed bullets. Available info says that the softer bullets seat better in the elliptically rifled barrel of the CZ, and will generate higher pressures and velocities than jacketed bullets. Other peoples test data bears this out. Hodgdon publishes load data for the 9x18 that calls for generally more powder than we used, but with jacketed bullets, that delivered velocities ranging from 828 to 1053 fps.

We started with a set of bullets loaded to 3.2, 3.4, and 3.6g as well as 2 boxes of S&Bs to use as a baseline. Results as follows:

S&B 95gr JRN Gun #1 Av Vel = 957 Hi=985 Lo 925

S&B 95gr JRN Gun #2 Av Vel= 1017 Hi 1053 Lo=998

Rel#1 93g RNL 3.2g Titegroup Av Vel 1082 Hi=1110 Lo=1065

Rel#2 93g RNL 3.4g Titegroup Av Vel 1177 Hi=1204 Lo=1141

The S&Bs came from 2 different boxes, and were fired in 2 different guns, which may explain the modest discrepancy. The reloads were fired from both guns with one gun consistently delivering 10-30fps greater than the other with the RNL bullets. The figures above are combined averages.

We decided to forgo the 3.6gr rounds, as we had reached our target of 1100 fps with 3.2g of powder. The 3.4 loadings are relegated into the “+P” category, and are not recommended by us. Maybe CZ will have something to say on the topic. Our position is that the 93gr bullets perform quite well at 3.2 g and maybe up to 3.3, but without some kind of official sanction, that’s about it. You could probably load these bullets as low as 2.8 gr, but that’s a test for another day.

The bullets, as expected, leave a bit of lead residue in the barrel, and down the magazine well as well as being noticeably smokier than the jacketed S&Bs. Even so, this is not very much smoke. Experience suggests that half or more of this is the blue grease the bullets come with.

Groupings were consistently at 6” at 30 ft, but I would ascribe this to the shooters rather than the guns, as I’ve seen both of us do 2” groups at that range.

This is what we got today at the range. This disclaimer applies. Not only does it apply, it is not even the half of it.

Global Warming

The actual plan for today is to go to the range and try out the loads we worked up for the CZ 82. I'll have a report on that later. Meantime, as one of my old girlfriends remarked, "The best planned lays of mice and men gang aft agley."

It'll work out, but in the meantime, here's some musical tributes to global warming from a group called M4GW. That's Minnesotans for Global Warming. Very well done parodies from Bare Naked Ladies and John Lennon.

Humor Down Under

Bayou Renaissance Man has a post up about an Aussie TV contest between advertising agencies. The challenge was to produce an ad to sell something unsellable, in this case, the military conquest of New Zealand. Go look, they're great.

The Kiwis reaction ranged from indignant to amused and some proposed an equal time response. For myself, after viewing the first ad, the obvious answer is to begin promoting Kiwi breweries as part of the national defense. If the beaches were lined with cases of beer, the Australian army would be stopped in its tracks at the shoreline, and would probably be abjectly apologetic when brought before local magistrates the next morning on misdemeanor charges of drunk and disorderly, public urination, and the like.

What is it good for?
Taking Monday off! Yeah!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Squirrel Gun

I've now gotten 2 of the tree rats with the Squirrel gun I described earlier, just not quite the way I had in mind.

It turns out that if you lean the 4 in barrel against the fence, with peanut butter dabbed in the inside, the rodents will go to such extremes to get it that they will fall down the barrel, and be unable to escape. At this point, you may do with them what you will: Transport them to Siberia, cook them and eat them*, or whatever.
If you put the bottom of the pipe into a 5-gallon bucket of water, you just need to dispose of the bodies. Fitting them with little concrete overshoes and tossing them into the municipal park pond where they can "sleep with the crawdads" is probably more dramatic than is really necessary.

*I bagged an urban squirrel once, and in my familys best hilbilly tradition, cooked it. That old saw about "you are what you eat" is truer than you think. Woods squirrels are a tasty treat. Urban squirrels that feed in the trash cans, taste like it.

Friday, July 11, 2008


The continuing saga. The bullets arrived today. All 35 pounds of them. Wifey-poo even managed to drag the box indoors, wasn't that sweet?
Sometime this weekend, the 4 of us who purchased the CZs will gather in the basement where we will load up some ammo. Topics to be covered will include conversion of 9x19 Luger casings to 9x18 Makarov casings, and exactly how much powder to use. I have some data already, so we're not groping in the dark on that one.
The bullets are round nose lead, and unplated, so we'll see how big a mess they leave in the guns.

Don't worry, Mon

Be happy, mon, have a drink and get back to enjoying life. Booze is Gods way of telling us he wants us to be happy. Just be careful not to OD on the stuff, even if you are an Orthodox Viking.

What’s an Orthodox Viking you ask?

We believe that everything is OK as long as you do it to excess.

Anything worth doing is worth over-doing.

Anything worth shooting once is worth shooting again. And again. And maybe again.

Stuff like that.

The Last Mosque

Dr. Vernon Chong, Major General, USAF, Retired

Has an article on the GWOT, which I got via a newsletter today. Alas, no link to the article itself. The topic is a treatise on how real the war is, and how seriously we should all take it. Here’s a short excerpt:

Muslim terrorists and the U.S.A. :

A different spin on the war in Iraq : This WAR is REAL

To get out of a difficulty, one usually must go through it. Our country is now facing the most serious threat to its existence, as we know it, that we have faced in your lifetime and mine (which includes WWII).

The deadly seriousness is greatly compounded by the fact that there are very few of us who think we can possibly lose this war and even fewer who realize what losing really means.

First, let's examine a few basics:

1 When did the threat to us start?

Many will say September 11, 2001. The answer, as far as the United States is concerned, is 1979, 22 years prior to September 2001, with the following attacks on us:


America’s war with Islam started shortly after we became an independent nation. Up to that point, the Bey of Algiers had been extorting the jizra* from England, France, and several other countries that you would have thought were powerful enough not to have to put up with this kind of blackmail.

When we became independent, England informed the Bey that we were no longer included in the protection payment, and his merry men began taking American ships and cargoes and selling the crews into slavery. Our Secretary of State met with their Ambassador in London to ask why, and was told that the Koran demanded that the infidel be forced to either convert, pay the jizra, or die.

This sparked the "Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute" speech in congress, and the building of the Constitution and Constellation. To the horror of the Euroweenies, we sailed over there and settled the Beys hash, at not inconsiderable cost to ourselves. We have been at war with Islamists from the beginning, and ever since, on and off.

The rest of the world has been at war with Islam since the 7th century, on and off.

We can hope for an Islamic reformation, of which there are some tentative signs, but being rather cynical, my take is that this will not end until the last mosque is converted into a McDonalds.

* Nice country you got here. Be a shame if anything happened to it.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Blow Up The World

Pictures were taken, and can be viewed here.
The heavy-looking rifle being fired from the tall stand is a 2-ga. 1.312" dia, 1/2 lb of lead per shot.
Regarding my mortar:

Here it is, and it works really well. Here's some info:
1. I built it from a solid billet. Wall thickness is approx equal to bore diameter. Overall diameter is 7".
2. Barrel length is 14 inches. It's as big as I could get on my little lathe.
3. There is a powder pocket in the bottom of the bore. This makes ignition more reliable. It's about 1" deep x 1" dia.
4. Here's a print of a barrel someone else is making. Note the 1" barrel wall thickness.
5. I use a film can (35mm still camera! about 500 gr.) full of ffg powder, with a pop can full of cement. This weighs about 1.5 lb. Works well in a short barrel.
6. This gun, coincidentally, also fits a tennis ball nicely, with no wadding. A tennis ball filled with lead weighs about 6 lb. The recoil from this will break a 1" oak axle.
I build a cannon once from the injection tube from an injection molding machine. It was 4130 or something like it, and hardened. 6' long with a wall of 1.5 inch, as I remember. Worked well, but remember that this was NOT pipe in any sense of the word. More like hydraulic cylinder.
Using modern steels, you want to try to keep the wall thickness to at least half the bore diameter, and keep the loadings modest. These things are for fun, not actual warfare.
Mine uses #11 percussion caps. Yes, they will reach that far.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Obama Throws Self Under Bus

" This is not the Barrack (*) Obama I once knew." he said.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Traffic Report

Here’s a Tam-a-Lanche:

As Sharp as a Marble said; If I could only keep them. I mean, geez, they followed me home.

The hoops I had to jump through to get that chart up there, you'd think a computer would make it easier.

Gun Insanity

3 years for possession of a BB gun.
Nowhere else but New Jersey.

What's Wrong With This Picture?

We hear that the last of Saddams 1.2M lbs of yellowcake have been transferred to

Canada, now we hear from an operative who was close enough to know that

Ahamadamnjihadi is even crazier than you hoped he wasn’t, and Obama has 3 positions a day on any issue you choose, which, I suppose is a change from his previous position of not having a position. Additionally the Democrat-controlled congressional approval ratings are in the single digits,

The Republican candidate should be running 30 points ahead right now.

Pity there isn’t one.

Sunday, July 6, 2008


Ride Fast has a post up on motorcycles, which is inspiring this one. Back in the 70s we had a gas crises, with prices spiraling to 50 cents a gallon, and people deciding that their GTO took too much gas. These folks would motor on down to the local MC shop, and say something like “I need something that uses less gas than my GTO. How much is that red one there?” The “red one” frequently turned out to be way more powerful than any novice should be messing with, but the dealerships weren’t going to turn away the sale, so newbies were turned loose on the streets with dangerously overpowered bikes. Sometimes the techs would place side bets on how far the bike would get before being brought back with crash damage. The winner at the Harley shop was 3 blocks.

I’ve been riding motorcycles for (mumble, mumble) years now, and I’ve learned a couple of things. There are 2 time periods when you are most likely to have an accident on a motorcycle: Right after you take possession, and don’t know what you’re doing, and about 2 months later, when you think you do.

Remember the Pontiac commercial for the G8, I think it was, in which the car was driving through a city populated by large chrome balls, about 50 ft in diameter? Remember how the Pontiac rolled down the streets, neatly avoiding being flattened at every intersection by the mindlessly rolling hazards? OK that’s you on a motorcycle, and every single car on the road is a 2-ton ball bearing moving along of its own volition. No, it’s not going to stop for you, or get out of your way. It has no idea you’re even there, so drive accordingly. Defensive driving doesn’t come close to describing it, think barking moonbat paranoia.

Braking: 70% of your braking ability is in your front wheel, so make extensive use of it. NOTE: Situational awareness is important here, you don’t want to be grabbing the front brake on questionable surfaces, so try to avoid them if there’s a chance you’ll be needing to stop. Questionable surfaces include the obvious such as road sand left over from last winter, and slow-drying puddles which can have algae or dust in them. Less obvious are the painted markings in the form of center lines or cross walk markings, which are slippery when wet.

My experience with loud pipes is that they are only audible from behind. Coming at you they're not so loud. Plus, they cover up other noises you might want to hear as you drive.

Running your lights in the daytime is problematic. I recently say an accident in which a kid in a cage turned left in from of not one, but two large bikes with lights on, and bagged them both.

Back when the idea first became popular, the Air Force jumped on the bandwagon, and began requiring us to switch on our lights when we entered the base. This resulted in a big rash of rear end near misses, as the difference between a motorcycle tail light and a brake light was not that significant. The solution was to add a couple of marker lamps to the back fender and wire them to the brake lamp circuit so there would be a notable difference between a tail lamp and a brake. If your bike does not have more brake lights than tail lights, it sure wouldn’t hurt to get this corrected.

Lastly, when you’re riding down the road, position yourself where you’ll have the most room to move, should you need to. On a 2-lane road, this means near the center line. On a 4-lane road, this means near the lane divider, so you can change lanes with only a 3 or 4 foot move, and have the rest of your lane available should the car in the next lane move over into you.

Remember: There is no such thing as a fender-bender on a motorcycle.

Thought For the Day

Adversity is opportunity, wrapped in that plastic packaging that's so hard to get open.

Landmark day

Sometime today I will receive my 1000th visitor. Whoever you are, thank you for your support.
1000 down, 999,000 to go.

Thanks once more to Tam for the Tam-a-Lanche, as well as Ride Fast and Say Uncle for the mentions and support.

Saturday, July 5, 2008


Over at the Volokh Conspiracy there’s a lively discussion on the Kellerman study which claimed to prove that simply having a gun in your dwelling increased your odds of being killed by a gun by some astronomical amount, usually quoted by the antis as 43:1 but lately somewhat less.

The comments to this are the best reading on the topic I’ve ever seen with various legal types and a few statisticians chiming in. Volokhs position is that Kellermans study is essentially meaningless because there were so many variables that were simply ignored.

There are several classes of job that entail the use, or at least, possession of a firearm, among which are policeman, drug dealer, robber, security guard, and others that may occur to you. These folks carry guns because they regularly come in contact with people of a socially dubious sort that a reasonable man would not want to do business with without some assurance that all the men present, especially our reasonable man, were, at least arguably, equal. Kellermans study did not take any of this into consideration, so the class of “gun owner” frequently included criminals of various sorts, and police. Since no one was included in the study who did not also make it into the obituary column, there is a disproportionate number of criminals included in the study. Kellerman also included suicides, and actually did differentiate them, blaming the gun for the suicide.

The top 21 countries for suicide rates are:

#1 Lithuania: 81.9 per 100,000 people

#2 Russia: 74.1 per 100,000 people

#3 Latvia: 71.4 per 100,000 people

#4 Estonia: 64.6 per 100,000 people

#5 Belarus: 55.7 per 100,000 people

#6 Hungary: 55.5 per 100,000 people

#7 Sri Lanka: 46.9 per 100,000 people

#8 Slovenia: 45.1 per 100,000 people

#9 Finland: 43.4 per 100,000 people

#10 Kazakhstan: 39.7 per 100,000 people

#11 Ukraine: 38.2 per 100,000 people

#12 Belgium: 37.3 per 100,000 people

#13 Croatia: 34.6 per 100,000 people

#14 Austria: 34.2 per 100,000 people

#15 Luxembourg: 30.8 per 100,000 people

#16 France: 30.4 per 100,000 people

#17 Switzerland: 29.5 per 100,000 people

#18 Moldova: 29.5 per 100,000 people

#19 Czech Republic: 28.1 per 100,000 people

#20 Bulgaria: 25.3 per 100,000 people

#21 Japan: 25 per 100,000 people

The US comes in at #30

Gun control ranges from a lot (Japan) to essentially none (several places. Sure it’s illegal, so what?)

Snowdog99 commented:

Epidemiological studies are 99% horsesh*t for many of the very reasons Eugene cites in his post - that is (in essence), that the chain of causation is difficult if not impossible to accurately characterize empirically.

It reminds me of a "study" done a few years ago, whereupon the researchers found that young teenage women sporting tattoos were more likely to give birth out-of-wedlock. The media dutifully interpreted these results to mean: "tattoos cause unplanned pregnancy."

At this point the light bulb came on over my head. All I need to do is copy all the Brady Bunch propaganda, and do a word substitution of “tattoo” for “gun” and “unplanned pregnancy” for “death” and apply for a boatload of federal money for my foundation; the “Billll Foundation for the Prevention of Unplanned Pregnancy”

I have visions of a large, imposing structure filled with hotties in white lab coats…..

Saturday Humor

Because it's Saturday, of course, I'm swiping this from the comments at Grouchy Old Cripple:

Got in a car accident today. Rear-ended another guy. He got out of his car and came walking back towards me. The guy was a dwarf, you know, one of the little people. Seeing him, I started to chuckle. He started screaming "I AM NOT HAPPY!".

So I said, "Well that leaves just 6 other choices."

Then the fight started...... :o)

Friday, July 4, 2008

Safety Nazis

There is no adversity that cannot be turned into opportunity.

Walter in Denver has a post about government safety Nazis suggesting that drivers and passengers in golf carts be forced to wear helmets. You look dorky enough in a golf cart as it is, never mind images of centenarians tooling around Sun City with their pants unzipped. Pile onto that information that golf now takes second place to shooting as an economic phenomenon, and it’s easy to see a lot of resistance to helmets on the golf course. Especially the ugly white kind the kids on the really short busses have to wear.

The obvious solution to this is to spiff up the equipment so that helmets don’t look so out of place. Sure, there’s a significant investment required by the course operators, but consider the payoff. Simply trade in some of the funky old E-Z-Go carts and replace them with Tesla roadsters. Add a couple of bag racks to the back bumper and you’re off. This is the sort of thing that makes those spiffy custom painted Bell full-face jobs look right at home on the links. Speeds up play, too.

If this seems a bit pricey (think Pebble Beach), consider that all the parts necessary to build an electric motorcycle are already there in a golf cart. Foursomes can now swoop from hole to hole in packs on 2-wheelers styled as scooters, road cruisers, or crotch-rockets, depending on your taste or athletic ability. Pricing on these should be quite modest compared to the Tesla.

Doesn’t that give you visions of Tiger Woods in a NASCAR-style fire suit covered with sponsor patches?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Fighting Robots

In 1984 I was asked if I would like to be in charge of a new event at Milehicon, called the “Critter Crawl”. I was told it would involve windup toys. This was too much like chum in the water for me, so I agreed. Then I asked what it would involve, and was told “anything you like”. So I had been had.

The original Critter Crawl was announced to be a contest for self-propelled toys, similar to a beauty contest, in which the contestants would be set to traveling along a vaguely defined runway to the approval of the audience, most applause wins. I encouraged people to build something as opposed to simply buying a windup Godzilla, and we had 2 constructed, and several off the shelf entries. The next year was similar to the first, and I admit, some of the purchased entries were quite spectacular, still, it was basically a beauty contest.

For the third year, I notified the Con-Com that the rules would be changing and the contest would become more interesting, and definitely more violent. The Denver Mad Scientists Club put together a set of rules for a contest called the Critter Crunch that allowed for a maximum amount of innovation and minimum restrictions, that has defined robot fighting ever since. The book “Gearheads” by Brad Stone, which researched the topic, says that this was the first organized robot fighting event ever, and all others are derivations. Under these rules, it’s possible to build a competitive machine for about $50.

Over time arms, armor, and control systems have evolved to the point that most of the machines can ignore the occasional flamethrower, and could probably operate under water, for a limited time at least. One of our members has developed a simple robot vision system based on the thermion, and makes plans and kits available over the internet. Last year saw the first victory of a fully autonomous machine over a human-controlled one.

Two crunches will be held in the Denver area this year, at Milehicon, and Worldcon.

The Frankenstein rule shown at the Critter Crunch rules link has been modified from its original wording which was: Frankenstein Rule: Should any critter prove to be excessively obnoxious, the audience may, at its discretion, light torches, take up pitchforks, and deposit the offending machine, and its operator in the nearest body of water.

The would-be builder is commended to contact the Denver Mad Scientists club, and Keith Laumers books on the likely end result, “Bolo”.

Chicago Protection Racket

"Nice campaign you got there. Be a shame if anything happened to it."

Shamelessly ripped from the WSJ online:

Ministry of Truth
"Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has scrubbed all negative ads from her campaign Web site and YouTube page, leaving visitors with only the warm and fuzzy moments from her bid for the presidency," the Washington Times reports:

Gone are the attack ads accusing Sen. Barack Obama of insulting Pennsylvanians, ducking debates and making misleading assertions about gas prices. In their place are some of the campaign's best and most positive ads and multiple "Hillary I Know" testimonials that have a shelf life should the former first lady ever run again.
The whitewashing took place quietly in the past few days as Mr. Obama cut his former rival a check to help relieve her campaign debt and as the Clinton family moved to fully embrace Mr. Obama as the presumptive Democratic nominee.

You get the kind of government you pay for, I guess.

Wind Power

As an engineer, I have never thought of most "alternative energy" schemes as much more than curiosities suitable for the better-off to install in their back yards as conversation pieces. Here's some confirmation on the wind power front.

It seems that not only is wind power unreliable, it's unreliable on a nation wide, and sometimes trans-national basis. Also, those gigantic wind turbines require some base of input power to keep the innards in working order whether they're running or not, so when a large high-pressure feature moves across your wind farm, not only is the whole system becalmed, it becomes a net user of power from other sources. On top of that, the mega-watts you thought the wind would provide now need to be provided by some other means, so wind power only makes sense if you have the conventional generating capacity to replace it when it stops producing.

Texas has a large wind farm located in west Texas, and spliced into the state grid. I remember, not long ago, that there were brownouts in Texas when the west Texas wind stopped blowing for a couple of days. When someone proposes putting in a wind farm, be sure and ask if the proposed price includes a coal-fired plant of the same capacity to take over when the wind drops.

There's a fellow with a ranch, located along I-25 south of Castle Rock, who has a windmill on his property. When the wind blows, he probably powers his spread, and even has some power left over to sell to Excell Energy, which they are required to buy at retail rates, which the government has mandated. It works because he's on the grid, and has a 100% backup should his system fail. I have to wonder, though, how long it will take to pay off the investment in the system.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Burglary for Dummies

Here's a cartoon that sums up the situation. In reality it's much worse from the burglars perspective as only one house in three has gun owners inside. Unfortunately, it's not marked.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Bumper Stickers

I have a bumper sticker that reads

Limit Terms:
Declare politicians
a game species.

People come whining to me with "Geeez, Billll, you shouldn't advocate wholesale slaughter of our beloved elected representatives."

To which I answer:
Look, hippie, the phrase "game species" implies the need for a special hunting license, a specific season, and bag and possession limits, say one federal Senator or Representative, and no more than two of the local variety. One might buy a bull tag, for example that requires the hunter to listen carefully for the same old bull before shooting. And a word of warning, we are talking dangerous game here. The Republicans shoot back.

Lawyers, on the other hand, should be declared varmints. See 'em, shoot 'em. It's not like they're in any danger of extinction due to natural causes.

Heller decision

Got an e-mail just now from Colo RKBA noting that careful review of the Heller decision has uncovered an "Easter Egg" in footnote #27. The right to bear arms is enshrined as a
"specific enumerated right" such as free speech,
the guarantee against double jeopardy or the right to counsel (the
Court's list of examples).

This means that gun laws are subject to the "strict scrutiny" level of question, which means there must be a REALLY good reason for the law, and it must address that reason in the narrowest possible manner.

That should help.

Suicide Prevention

Thanks to Sebastian for pointing me to this proposed study, which expects to find an increase in suicides in D.C. as guns finally become available to the law-abiding.

I'm going to go out on a limb here, and suggest that the suicide rate in D.C. should drop, post-Heller, assuming that D.C.s newly liberalized gun laws actually result in guns getting into homes legally.

Before, all you had to look forward to was the kick at the door and an ugly death at the hands of some critter. After, there's hope of survival: you can now shoot back.