Saturday, July 31, 2010

Toyota Exonerated

The NHTSA report showing that all but one sudden acceleration cases involving Toyotas were the result of the drivers stomping on the wrong pedal is being withheld at the direction of a secretaty to the CEO of two of Toyotas biggest competitors.

The evil robber baron responsible should be tarred, feathered, and ridden out of town on a rail.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Squirrel Trap

I was commenting to a friend about how well my fruit trees were doing, absent the predations of some 25 squirrels, and he remarked that his garden was under attack by the fuzzy rodents. He didn't quite approve of my trap, saying that id seemed a bit inhumane to drown the little buggers.

Go here to see the trap in great detail. Most people should be able to figure out how to build one just like it.

I point out here, that the operative part of the trap is the 4 foot piece of 4 in ABS pipe with the peanut butter in it. Anything else is open to the demented imagination of the trapper. As we discussed possible improvements, it will be noted that while all of them provided a swifter demise for the rodent, within the space of 10 minutes or so methods were being proposed along the lines of Monty Python meets Joseph Mengele.

Placing something along the lines of a land mine at the bottom of the tube, for example, will certainly provide a quick demise. Using a shotgun shell as the explosive has the additional advantage of not damaging the pipe, and depositing the carcass 2 or 3 yards (suburban yards, not the 3 footers) away for someone else to dispose of. Place a Remington 1100 in the bottom of the pipe, and all you have to do is reload from time to time.

Put some wires in the tube, and electrify them. This produces squirrel flambe, ready-to-eat. In France this is probably a delicacy. Of course the French probably remove the fur and guts first. A cream sauce and a glass of white wine helps too.

In England, where the American gray squirrel is out-competing the native red, they bring £3.50 a squirrel, or about $5. Problem with this is that urban squirrels eat trash, and taste like it.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

GDP and Crystal Balls

Hot Air has a piece on the release of Q2 GDP tomorrow. People who are qualified to guess on the topic are calling for a number between 2 and 3%, close to first quarters number of 2.7%.

Me, I'm calling for an announced number over 3.5%, which will turn out to be bogus, and will be revised downward over the following months in Friday afternoon press releases until it gets down to 2.7%.

My reasoning is that we already know the government lies about stuff like this, and my drive times on the chunk of road I time myself on haven't changed. Traffic is no heavier now than 6 months ago.

Update: I blew it. The government is admitting to 2.4%, which suggests it's probably closer to 1.4%.

Are You A Hippie?

Well, Are you, punk?

You are 9% hippie.

Ok, you conservative soul. Do you even believe in global warming? Loosen that necktie a little, and try some organic food. It actually does taste better. And go to a farmer's market--they're fun.

Are you a hippie?
Take More Quizzes

I know several of my readers would score higher than I did. I have to quibble with some of the questions, though:
How do you get around town? No box for "Motorcycle, rain or shine and down to 20 degrees. ( Well, O.K. 35 degrees).
Do you recycle? No spot for "If there's money in it, sure." This includes monetary savings. I reload.
How do you make a living? Answers are geared to 20-somethings. Dope smuggling and gun running were not listed, even though it's how Joe Kennedy made his.

My observation from my wasted youth, when hippies were REAL hippies, is that the hippies were nearly all leftists. When they wanted something, especially if it was something you couldn't readily buy at the market, you bought it from a capitalist member of the Young Republicans. The ones I hung with formed associations going by names like Teadrinkers, Gents, Knights, Barhoppers, Hells Angels, and the like. They threw the best parties, too.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What's the Persian Word For Pimp?

Imam, apparently.

In their defense, the pimps cut is only 5%.

Stiff qualifications too:
We ask that all the sisters who are interested in applying, to furnish two full-length photographs (fully hijabed and properly veiled), their academic diplomas, proof of their virginity and a certificate of good physical and psychological health which they can obtain through the health and human services of the township of their residence.
No telling if there's a discount for second and subsequent "marriages" or what.

Crazy About You

One in five Californians say they need mental health care

Headline, L.A. Times

Other four in denial.


There is a move afoot to ban all oil tanker traffic from the part of the Gulf of Mexico that falls under our jurisdiction.

I infer from this that the EPA effort to shut down all the oil refineries in Texas has come to naught. Shutting the Texas refineries completely would cost us about 30% of the refined petrolium products produced in this country, including feed stocks for plastics. If you deprive them of imported oil, they still run, but at much reduced capacity.

Stalin starved 7 million people to death by depriving them of food. O'Bama must be planning to freeze the red states to death by cutting off the fuel.

Barney Frank

Barney has run sufficiently afoul of the House Ethics Committee that he's being called out to explain some of his less savory deals. Him being a Democrat and all, all I can think is there must be video footage of him burying the hobos in his back yard or something.

He's been called on to resign, but says that would be un-American. Un-Democratic perhaps, since all it takes is a parking ticket to a Republican, and the press is screaming for his resignation, and his head on a stick.

Whatever it is he did, it must be good. He's asking for time. I'd say give him ten years. If he asks for more time, give him 15.

Everything you need to know about Islam, you should have learned in 2001. Everything you need to know about Democrats, you should have learned in 2010.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

World History

Moonbattery has an excellent, if rather lengthy (1:25) video of the history of the Soviet Union from about 1930 to present. It's riveting. Especially the parts showing what good friends the Russians and the Germans were. It seems that their common enemies were denounced as Fascists.

Todays Democrats need to watch this and perhaps they'll quit calling Republicans Nazis.

Of course calling someone a fascist evokes visions of Mussolini, who, at the end of the day, was also a socialist.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The MSM Strikes Back

Cue the Darth Vader theme music.

As Many of you know, a newspaper in Las Vegas has filed a suit, out of the clear blue air, against some 80 bloggers and other internet presences, claiming copyright infringement over quoting and/or citing of the papers articles. Clayton Cramer of the Armed Citizen, has taken his blog down and gone private as a result, so score one for the paper.
Other defendants include, the Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and the Democrat National Committee of Nevada.
The whole point of the lawsuit is to get rid of competing news sources. If you have a monopoly, you can say anything and no one can call you on it. If you don't, then either your standards must go up, or your client base shrinks.

Most comments on the topic don't think the Review-Journal's suit has much merit, if any, but Las Vegas is a lot more like Chicago that most people realize, so anything could happen.

Think of this action as a reconnaissance in force. If successful, the MSM will reap the reward of supporting the President.

The Perils of Modern Life

Tamera is having anxiety problems lately, what with face-eating monkeys, killer clowns, and the like, and wonders about the killer space robots. I found them. They're massing in San Diego.
It seems Fred Phelps &cc decided to picket a comics convention. This was a really bad idea. Never play mumbletypeg with someone crazier than you are.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

2012 Presidential Race

Here's a depressing thought.....

I could stop right there, I suppose, but let's get more specific. Here's a proposal that the 2012 race might well come down to Hillary v Gingrich.

The Hillary part is certainly plausible, with Hill beating O'Bama on a platform of being less corrupt, or at least of not being O'Bama, which may be enough. She has money, friends, and a willingness to pull out all the stops, short of fitting her current boss with concrete overshoes and dropping him in the Des Moines river during the early caucuses.

Newt, on the other hand, may well be qualified to be President, although this alone will get you nowhere. He's also in the geezers demographic, and will get wherever he's going by virtue of his seniority, much like Bob Dole did. For 2012, at the rate things are going, Bob Dole could probably beat the Bamster, assuming he lives that long.

Hopefully 2012 will be the exception to the rule that the Dems pick someone so whack-o that no one in their right mind would vote for them, and the Repubs pick someone so uninteresting that the whack-job wins anyway.

Into The Future

Congressman Udall (D-Endangered) sent me his latest re-election letter, touting his position on renewable energy.
With a national RES, we could see the same success across the country. According to a study by Navigant Consulting, a national 25 percent by 2025 standard would create an additional 274,000 jobs nationwide.
Udall wants Colorado to get 30% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. Currently we get about 5% of our energy from such sources, and 95% from conventional sources. The quickest way to get the renewables up to 30% would be to reduce the others to 10% from 95%. Voila! Instant Greenness. The governor has already signed the bill.

He also says this will add jobs, amounting to (locally, 274,000/50=) 5480 new ones by then. So 365 new jobs per year, presumably including picking up the bodies of those who froze to death or starved, and transporting them, by human-drawn carts, to the recycling centers where they will be turned into something useful, like food or clothing for the living.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Routine Maintenance

While washing the motorcycle the other day, I noticed that the left front frame downtube had cracked in two. Some history: when I bought the bike, is was definitely a fixer-upper, and had suffered a good deal of neglect. Eventually I got most of this fixed, and had a smooth-running engine, and a nasty vibration in the handlebars. One day I noticed some Bondo had flaked off the right front downtube, revealing that the repair job to the crack there had failed. The bike has four backbone tubes, and two down tubes holding the front forks to the rest of the bike, and inspection revealed that two of the backbone tubes had cracked completely through, and the other two were 3/4 gone. I straightened things out a bit, and welded them back together, insofar as I could reach the cracks. That was about a year ago.
Honda V65 Magna
With this repair, I have now had to completely re-weld every single structural member holding the front to the rear on that bike. Face it, it may be time to consider finding a new frame. Or maybe a new bike. Or maybe you'll see a news story about some dude whose bike disintegrated while he was riding to work.

I rather like the performance, though.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Health Care Update

As time passes, we slowly but steadily learn what's in the bill. By 2014, all health care records will be in electronic form. Presumably the job of converting all that data into electronic format will be given to a union based company who will farm the job out to the Chinese.
If you want to know what's in your record, and the U.S. server is down, you will be able to get your records from the Great Wall Software Services Co. in China.

Of course anyone else will also, so expect your e-mail spam to begin including snake-oil remedies tailored specifically to your ailments. Since your body mass index is in there too, expect a lot of weight-loss junk along with.

My approach is to have my doctor enter me as a new patient with no past history into the new database. That way I have no pre-existing conditions, and the Chinese have no useful information. BMI is a calculation based on your height squared divided by your weight, plus a bit of a fudge factor. At 5'8" and 170 pounds, my BMI is 25.8, and I'm considered a bit overweight. The obvious solution is to enter your height in hands, and your weight in stones. This will get you down a couple of points, and might make the difference in the decision to cut off your food allocation.

Makers Faire

John M, one of my regular readers, attended the mini-Maker Faire in Aspen on the 10th, got his picture in Atlantic magazine, and reportedly had a great time. Unfortunately I found the trip to be a bit much for one day, and wimped out.

Not to worry, Both of us made the mini Maker Faire at Club Workshop the 17th, and both of us had a great time. John brought his fighting robot, and I brought the Pedal Air Gun. We jointly represented the Denver Mad Scientists Club, and both had a great time. We also now have an idea what it would be like to have 15 hyperactive kids.

The big theme at the Club Workshop gig was robots. My favorites were the tennis-ball sized black plastic ball you can drive around the floor, controlling it from your Droid. Cat toy? Sure there's an app for that. The other was the small walking biped equipped with airsoft guns. Yet another Droid app.

You shoulda been there.

Dispelling False Stereotypes

First the Stereotype that Republicans are less the spendthrifts than Democrats, and secondly, the notion that a divided legislature produces gridlock, reducing spending.
At this point I'd have to think our only hope is a nuclear strike on the House of Representatives during the State of the Union speech this coming January.

Thanks to Power Line blog for the graphic here.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Economics 101

It now appears that the great seafloor gusher brought in by BP has been brought under control. Keep your fingers crossed.

I have a question, though. If crude is bringing some $80/bbl, and a bbl of oil is 44 gallons (I don't know why. Probably dates to oil being stored on the whale boats in wooden casks.) then why is nobody out there in the gulf with a barge, collecting all that free crude to sell to the recyclers (refiners) in Houston?

Let's see:
Assume a barge 20 x 50 filled to a depth of 4 ft, which is probably very conservative. That's 4000 cu ft, or 683 bbl of crude at $80/bbl = $54.7K for cruising around in the soup at 4 knots for a few days. Easy money methinks.

Separating oil from water is not that hard, and a clever person could convert a barge to a collector in fairly short order that didn't discharge anything at all, just didn't take the water aboard. I'm sure it would be declared illegal.

Or maybe they are. Last I heard, the Coast Guard was holding the barges hostage to an inspection for the correct number of fire extinguishers on board each one.

I guess if there's money to be made, the government will find a way to keep you from making it.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Maker Faire

Not the big one in San Jose, but the local version over at Club Workshop:
This Saturday
July 17th
10:00 - 4:00pm
Robotics Expo & Mini Maker Faire

Club Workshop
999 Vallejo Street
Denver, CO 80204

I may be able to make this one depending on when my Saturday morning 8:00 breaks up.

I'll stay indoors in the shade this time.

Great Tragedies

Great Tragedies produce great change, supposedly, or at least the Washington Post would have us believe. They may be right, although they're whining like mad that the gulf oil spill hasn't produced a huge outcry against BP in particular, and the use of fire in general.

I think they're missing the real story here. It's not so much the spill that's the tragedy, but the governments blundering at every opportunity. When the spill was skimmable, no skimmers were sent, and still aren't, even though thousands of them are available. No containment barriers were brought in, though thousands of feet are available.

BP gets paid to bring oil to refineries, not to let it run off into the ocean, and I'm sure they're doing their level best to get the stuff into tankers and onto the market. The government is, at the same time, shaking BP down for monies that they may need for the repairs.

The change being produced is a negative reaction to the government instead of the traditional negative reaction to the oil companies. The administration is now widely seen as being incapable of managing its way out of an oil-soaked paper bag.

Remember: An oil-soaked bird is made of tar and feathers.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Fun With Engineering

From Wondermark:
Sometimes success IS measured in decibels.

Go there to see this in a larger, and definitely more readable format.

When Fun Is Outlawed...

...only the outlaws will have fun.

In Oregon, the state legislature has decided, in a fit of mommy-knows-best-ism, that while it may be OK to brew your own beer at home, it shall be illegal to transport it outside your home for any reason. This has caused the cancellation of the statewide home brewers festival, and as we all know,


This looks a lot like a sop to the local beer distributors who find that Schlitz and Oly have a hard time competing with Sasquatch Stout.

Durn burn politicians, you gotta watch 'em every minute, and tar and feather one every once in a while to keep them honest.

Taking Care Of Business

As any politician will tell you, the secret to keeping your job is taking care of your constituents. And whether it's Muslim Extremists, Illegal aliens, Black Panthers, or just run-of-the-mill felons, this administration knows who its friends are and how to take care of them.

It's almost as though we had elected a stereotypical crooked politician from Chicago or something.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

When I am Dictator

Things will be different. I'm working on a cabinet even as I sit here, and thinking Rush Limbaugh would make a great press secretary. Part-time, of course, and since I can't possibly match his pay scale, the side benefit is that he gets to treat the press any way he likes.

It's the sort of thing that might make the once-a-week pressers fun to watch.

Secretary of State. This is a job for someone representing our countries interests to people who frequently don't share them, to say the least. In the past I thought this would be a good position for a slimy double-dealing crooked used-car dealer. Dick Nixon came to mind. Since then the bar has been re-positioned, and Tricky Dick is now St. Richard, the Morally Upright. Plan B involves someone of good moral character who is able to convey our countries position to foreigners using that nuance stuff by the bucket full, but without accidentally conveying the wrong message. Enter General James Mattis, who on at least one occasion said:
I come in peace. I didn't bring artillery. But I'm pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you f*ck with me, I'll kill you all.
What could be more statesmanlike?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Fun With Science

Popsci has an article up describing what the Earth might look like without it's spin.

It appears that the centripetal force due to the planets spin causes the waters of the oceans to be drawn down to the equator, and actually results in a slight bulge on the oceans surface. Stop the rotation, gently, I presume, and the water runs back up to the poles, leaving an equatorial continent.

Down in the comments are lot's of geekey nitpicking as to what else would happen, but let's look at one outcome at a time.

Back To School

I blame the summer heat. I makes me slow and lazy. It also lets me get outdoors and do things rather than sitting in front of a screen. Heck, I do that at work.

Anyway, a judge in Iowa has ordered a sheriff there to take a course in Constitutional content, resulting in his decision to refuse a carry permit to someone he disagreed with politically.

Iowa is the latest state to go over to "shall issue" status, although I'm not certain the new law has taken effect yet. In any case, the fact that this came out of federal court suggests that it's been cooking through the system for some time.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Scorched Earth

After wrecking the car, I suppose some car thieves think to destroy the evidence by burning the vehicle. This appears to be a Democratic strategy, scheduled for later this year, between the massacre and the actual end of terms in January.

In the House, where the blood is expected to be particularly deep, this shouldn't be much of a problem. In the Senate, one vote shy of enough, and with only 1/3 of the seats up for grabs, the motivation will be greatly reduced. Some of the Senatorial Dems who aren't up for re-election until 2012 are probably thinking that if a Republican majority in the House can keep the Bozo-in-Chief in check for 2 years, they may not be relegated to the same fate ad their brethren this year.

Ever notice how oil-soaked pelicans remind one of tar and feathers?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Everybody Needs A Gun

Unfortunately, not everybody can afford one, but help is on the way.

Go here for an extensive listing of gun and equipment giveaways, raffles, and other marketing ploys. I haven't visited them all, but it won't hurt to take a look.

H/T to Uncle for the tip.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Better Parties

Political parties, that is. In this country we have two major political parties, the Evil party, which is currently in control, and the Stupid party. I tend to align myself with the Stupid party because they're less evil.

There have been many suggestions as to how the parties might be improved, with the obvious ones like not giving high party positions to the most Evil or Stupid persons in the party being roundly ignored. After all who's going to vote themselves out of a position of power.

Roger, the Real King of France, has a suggestion for the Repubs:
The solution to this long-standing problem of GOP incompetence is easy. My preference would be to turn the party over to Sarah Palin to remake entirely, with fresh people with fresh (read "tea party") ideas. Absent that, and likely more palatable to weak sisters, is to turn the party over to Karl Rove, with the caveat that nobody who served in the Bush Administration (either one), or was a Speaker of the House, is allowed in the building. Victory follows.
Sarah Palin is a nice person. Possibly too nice. My preference for party leader is Mr. Rove. To my mind he's the first of a long line of Sith Lords, which is exactly what the party needs at this point. RINOs to the aft airlock, and "We Brake For Nobody" on our bumper sticker.

I'm not holding my breath on this one.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Economic Modeling

As you all know, I have 4 fruit trees in my back yard. Last year they produced prolifically, and the local squirrel population thrived. I got 1 peach. Somehow this seemed less than fair.

This year I started a program of squirrel control early, using the squirrel trap I wrote about here earlier. Here it is, halfway through the growing season, and I have 4 trees heavily laden with fruit. It looks like I'm going to do well this year.

I've also noted that trying to control squirrels is like trying to dig a fox hole in a pond, but I'll report now that if you shovel fast enough, even that begins to look possible. This year I've gotten about 20 squirrels for my efforts, and the influx has notably abated. I'm beginning to think of this as an example of how well an economy can do when it doesn't have to support a large population of welfare recipients. Not that I'm advocating drowning welfare recipients, government employees, and other non-productive parasites mind you, just noting that the productive population is noticeably more productive when they don't have to support a large non-productive population.

Independence Day

For some time now I have not gone to any of the public fireworks displays around here. They have ceased to have any significance for me, and seem more like a municipal celebration of the municipal government. Especially in view of the municipal disapproval of any individual celebrations of this type.

Driving to work through Denver, the overhead traffic signs, plus all the spares they usually use to warn you the the road ahead is effectively closed due to construction, were placed along side the major arteries, notifying the public that all fireworks of any kind are forbidden in Denver, and that the police would be strictly enforcing the ordinance. The city gets to celebrate, not you.

On a happier note, the BBQ I went to was attended by several folks who retain the knowledge of how fireworks are made, and are not so concerned with the inherent hazards of the things. If you know they're dangerous, you know not to hold them in your hand after lighting the fuse. That or else you will quickly learn. Darwinism in action. When the builder says to light the fuse, then get away, he's probably not kidding, and it is advisable to ask him how far. It doesn't hurt to add 10-20% to that number either.
Individual fireworks are a defiant statement of individual liberty, and I completely support them. Of course with individual liberty comes individual responsibility. You are expected to put out any fires you start, render first aid to any of your mates who fail to heed the warnings, and bury anything that might need burying in the aftermath.

Have a nice Independence Day.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Shooting Bowling Pins

Went out to the club match to shoot the Wiley wild bowling pins, and incidentally defend my title, which I somehow won last time.

This time I found myself cast as the organizer and scorekeeper as well, which means standing in the sun (low to mid 90s) recording results, and calling up the next shooters This also means I don't get to sit down in the rather sparse shade for about 4 hours.

To my credit, the whole thing ran fairly smoothly and quickly, and we got through 10 rounds of 10 matches in 4 hours with nobody getting bored and going home early. On the other side, the quality of my shooting began deteriorating somewhere about round 6 or 7, and the glorious trophy is now adorning someone else's mantel.

We use an abbreviated form of the Round Robin, which is more of a "Semicircular Robin" or maybe "Slice of a Robin Pie", instead of trying to get everyone to shoot against everyone else, which would entail some 400 match-ups for the 20 people we had today. Requires only 100 match-ups at just under 2-1/2 minutes each. I highly recommend finding a non-participant to act as scorekeeper, or maybe handicapping the previous match winner with the job while I sit in the shade with a couple gallons of lemonade.

Come to think of it, that's exactly what we did this time.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Gun Law

What do you call 5 gun laws in the bottom of the shredder bin?

Wisconsin Army National Guard JAG officer, and Jackson County District Attorney, Gerald R. Fox has something to say about the US Supreme Court's decision in McDonald v. Chicago released earlier this week and holding that the Second Amendment's protections apply against state regulation. In a press release Fox declared 5 Wisconsin state statutes unconstitutional:

"I hereby declare that this office will no longer accept law enforcement referrals for violations of the following statutes:

Section 167.31, prohibiting uncased or loaded firearms in vehicles;

Section 941.23, prohibiting the carrying of concealed weapons, including firearms;

Section 941.235, prohibiting the possession of firearms in public buildings;

Section 941.237, prohibiting the possession of firearms in establishments where alcohol may be sold or served; and,

Section 941.24, prohibiting the possession of knives that open with a button, or by gravity, or thrust, or movement."

A good start.

Although I have to question the reach of a county district attorney in declaring state law unconstitutional. I'm guessing his interpretation may be valid in his county only. I'm also guessing that the state attorney general probably has some interesting things to say about this too. Still, you've got to admire his approach.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Here's a part of the stimulus package you probably didn't think much about. It's based on the theory that if you pay people not to work, everyone will soon be back to work.

What could go wrong?

Got Gas?

If not, then consider filling up soon. It seems that the administration has prodded the EPA to over rule Texas, and shut down every oil refinery in Texas. That would be about 1/3 of all the refineries in the U.S.

That should make him popular.