Monday, February 28, 2011

Reward Your Friends, Punish Your Enemies

The EPA, whose charter is to regulate everything not produced for resale in a factory, is proposing a re-jiggering of the rules on dust. Yes, the EPA regulates dust.

The new proposed regulations would be much easier on urban areas, most of which voted Democratic, and penalizes rural areas who didn't. Imagine my surprise.

Side note: In order to get paid for not growing crops, a farmer is required to disc or plow his land to leave bare brown dirt exposed. This is lest he use a fallow field as grazing pasture. Now imagine that the wind might blow out there. Can you say "Dust Bowl"?

The Agriculture department pays you to do it, and the EPA fines you for having done it.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Constitutional Carry #4

Wyoming is apparently about to become the 4th state to adopt "constitutional carry" which allows anyone not otherwise prohibited from purchasing a gun in the first place to carry a gun concealed.

The bill has passed the legislature, and has been sent to the (Republican) governor. I'm guessing it will be signed.

Amusingly, during the debate phase, some representatives of the law enforcement community objected to it saying it would encourage dangerous people who couldn't pass a background check to begin carrying concealed firearms. Evidently in Wyoming, the felons are law-abiding enough as to refrain from carrying weapons without a permit. I knew the folks up there were a pretty hard-nosed bunch, but this exceeds my expectations.

Anyway, congratulations to the people of Wyoming. Colorado has such a bill in the legislature, but given the legislative makeup, I don't see it getting anywhere. Maybe next time.

Common Sense Gun Laws

Over at the Huffy Pest, Paul Clolery is suggesting that single-shot weapons are sufficient, and that should be the limit for the peasantry, lest high political officials get winged. He cites Alex Hamilton.

I have noted that a 105mm howitzer is a single-shot weapon, and some of you may recall my position that any weapon that can be operated by a single parson, and borne on, in, or by a half-ton pickup would also be a reasonable restriction.

Clolery concludes with:
There have been calls to ratchet-down the rhetoric in the aftermath of the Tucson slayings. This call for polite discussion of ideas should be used as an opening to discuss gun laws and their impact on this society. If we don't seize this opportunity, the concept of a civil society will become as fanciful as a unicorn.
So we may conclude that the disgusting behavior of the union thugs in Wisconsin, for example, is a result of the existence of 31-round magazines, somewhere.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Service Advisor

My daughter works as one, and tells me some fairly strange tales about the position. You are the point of contact, the face of the agency between the customer and the dealership. I can imagine some brands doing this better than others:

Mercedes-Benz: When you pull in to the agency, your car wirelessly tells the agencys computer what it needs, and by the time you roll to a stop, a liveried attendant is there to slip the work order under the wiper blade, and escort you to the waiting room for coffee and pastries. Price is not mentioned.

Japanese: A nicely dressed attendant greets Susy Soccermom, and asks the vehicles mileage so as to set up the correct XX,000 mile standard service. Asks if she would like to include tire rotation and a carwash, which costs extra.

Domestic: Joe Badwrench greets the customer and asks if he wants the deluxe service or just the regular replacement of all the visibly leaking duct tape repairs.

O.K. this isn't entirely fair, as it ignores the male customers at the Japanese place, and everybody except the low-end pickup drivers at the domestic places. Maybe later I'll be handed some insights on these.

In my defense, I currently drive a low-end domestic pickup. There is no duct tape anywhere on or in the vehicle.

The Economics of Dog Turd Polishing

Sarah Hoyt has a piece here that describes growing up and getting your primary education in Portugal. Over there, Marx is thought to be a demigod who had the whole world figured out. Alas, there were some shortcomings to his thinking, and in spite of some 100 million people being killed to make it so, it still ain't so.

The comments to the article are worth a read too. My favorite is from ManekiNeko, who visited China to look into a manufacturing center for his company. We hear all the time how evil it is that we wear sneakers made in some South Asian "sweatshop" by exploited peasants making $.50/hour. Here's the story from the point of view of that exploited peasant:

When China first opened up their economic zone in ShenZhen province (a few hours from Hong Kong), multinational businesses rushed in and set up shop for the cheap labor. The company I worked for at the time sent me to China in the early 1990's to see the facilities. I recall walking through a factory there, and stopped in the break room. There were a few workers on break, and a very large map of China on the wall. I spoke to one of their workers (via an interpreter) with the following exchange:

Me (pointing to southeastern corner of the map) "We're here, where do you come from?"

Worker (points to the upper left corner of China) "I come from a small village here."

Me: "How long was the train ride to get here?"

Worker: "No train. I walked. About two months."

Me: "Why did you walk so long and so far?"

Worker: "Wages in my village are (US equivalent $0.50/hour). Here in this factory I make (USD $2.12).

I went back to my hotel and looked up the distance between the two locations - and determined he walked the equivalent distance of Cheyenne, Wyoming to Los Angeles, CA in order to quadruple his salary.

So yes, this one individual definitely voted for industrialization with his feet.

How hard do you suppose it would be in this country to find someone from, say Detroit, who took what he could fit in his car, including his family, abandoned whatever he could not fit into it, and drove to Texas in search of work?

The article is not terribly long, and is well worth the read.

A Day At The Range

I was expecting temps to start out in the 20's and eventually creep into the low 40's, but instead got numbers some 15 degrees higher.

Now about the wind. Blowing dust, blinding dust, gritty teeth, wondering if an ultrasonic dip tank might be the ticket for gun cleaning. At one point, one of those "I wanna be a tornado when I grow up" dust devils came over the backstop, and passed directly over the explanation of the upcoming stage. One of the targets was ripped from the stand and came to earth some 400 yards away.

Other than that, a good time was had by all.

Switched the Hi Point back to the Iron sights. With dust and grit in my eyes, groups that were taller than they were wide are now wider than they are tall. The barrel burnishing doesn't seem to have accomplished much. Next up: A trigger job.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Quote of the Day

H/T to Taranto for this headline:

"John McCain Ranked Most Conservative Senator in 2010"--headline,, Feb. 24
One assumes they mean the most conservative Democrat senator.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Flash Mobs

These things have popped up in the news a couple of times in the last couple of months, when large numbers of people, unified by an electronic summons / twitter / whatever, all descend on a single location to do something artsy. then leave to see if they made the news.

The government has noticed, and has a contract out to develop software to create a new kind of "flash mob" that may only exist on a flash drive somewhere. The thinking is that by creating realistic interactions between virtual people, the real ones can be led in the right direction.

I can see this working. 4 or 5 "alpha" twitterers put out messages endorsing some government policy, and the "beta" personalities fall into step behind, and the easily let real people, whom we'll call "twits", join the groupthink.

In a less benign environment, the "alphas" might call for a protest against the government at a specific time and place, the "betas" respond enthusiastically, and the police are waiting to pick up the "twits". Of course this can backfire when 250,000 "twits" show up with the local equivalent of ball bats.

Next killer app: Software to identify the virtual people.

Quote of the Day

The situation in Wisconsin is deteriorating to the point that any day now I expect to hear that the president has requested hudna with Governor Walker. Hudna is an Arabic word that describes what some people will tell you is a truce. In reality, the truth is a bit more complex. Imagine that two people or groups have been exchanging gunfire for some time, and one side is getting the worst of it. The weaker side will request a hudna.

Request For Hudna
Most esteemed enemy:
We have been exchanging fire for some time now, and I am badly wounded and low on ammunition. In the name of Allah, the merciful and benevolent, I request that you cease shooting back at me while I seek medical attention and additional ammunition.

In western society this is known as an offer to compromise.

“Bipartisanship is another term of date rape. I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”

Grover Norquist, the Sid Vicious of the GOP

I could get to like 'ol Grover.

The Future (?) of Transportation

Actually this looks more like something that came and went fairly quickly, and no, that's not a comment on its speed.

Definitely a work in progress, although the ad says it has some 2000 miles on it, a coat of gloss black, and some polished brass trim and you're ready for the local steam punk convention.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

In Search Of Accuracy 2

So I got out to the range with the Hi-Point, and went through the barrel lapping procedure. Using Dave Tubbs bullets, I set out some 9 targets made from paper plates with a cross drawn on them with one of those markers the taggers find so handy. The procedure here is to work your way through 50 bullets in 5 sets of 10, each set being a finer abrasive than the one before it. Thorough cleaning is recommended between each group of 10, as well as a very slow rate of fire to avoid heating the barrel.

First off, I shot a baseline target using my own 155gr hand loads. Let me suggest that everything I said about the sight rail on the Hi Point carbine seems to be borne out as I could only get two of five shots onto the first plate at 50 yards. The gun needs a 4X scope that will mount all the way back on the rail where there's some actual support. It shoots way better than this with the iron sights it came with.

Next item is to note that the gun really likes the 180 grain bullets I got from Tubbs. Moving from one target to the next as I went from one set of bullets to the next produced reliable groups of about 2 inches. I forgot my chrony, of course, so I have no velocity data for the 180s but I seem to remember shooting some Wally World 180s and getting 1150-1200 fps. Recoil is noticeably less with the heavier bullets.

Tubbs says that you will notice the improvements as you go in the form of a shinier barrel bore, and easier passage of the bore brush down the barrel. He's absolutely right.

Following the regimen with the lapping, I tried once more with my hand loads. Once bitten, twice shy, I did this at 25 yards. Harsher recoil and all, the first 3 shots grouped under 1 inch. #4 flew wide, and the remaining six grouped about 3 inches below the first four. Did I mention that the sight rail on the Hi Point is structurally very similar to the diving board at the public swimming pool?

I did get some chrony info using another members chrony afterward. My bullets now run some 15 fps faster than before the lapping at about 1365 fps.

Further testing is indicated using a sight that doesn't rely so much on the relatively unsupported front end of the rail. One of those very short 4X "tactical" (black) jobs intended for a shotgun or an AR would seem to be called for. Maybe the Barska red dot, which by now has seen service on half the guns I've got.

Friday, February 18, 2011

2012 Elections

Right Wing News has a survey of conservative bloggers up on the topic of presidential candidates. Somehow I didn't get included in the survey, which explains why Attilla the Hun didn't get any votes.

Interesting to note, of the top ten vote getters, we have 7 governors, 1 representative, 1 businessman, and 1 career diplomat.

I find this encouraging in that the field is heavily weighted in favor of people with actual executive experience. Of course what 63 bloggers want means little enough, even counting their readers as supporters to some degree. If I were a complete cynic, I'd tell you that Mitt Romney will be the party nominee, and the game is over based on the Republican tactic of nominating the guy who finished second behind the fellow they nominated the last time. Depressing, but over the last 50 years or so, a reliable predictor.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mad Science

At its best. This fellow deserves a DMSC Peabody Award for extremely clever thinking for designing a clock that catches flies and other insects, and converts the bodies to the energy required to run the clock.

Thinking bigger, at one time I had the conversion factors that allowed you to figure out how many hippies it took to produce the energy equivalent of one barrel of oil. One of my hippie (ex) friends took this personally, and accused me of being a socialist*, this being the worst insult he could come up with.

The thought processes of the left surpasseth all comprehension.

*The German National Socialist Workers Party, specifically.

Castle Doctrine

In the isles where Great Britain used to be:
Residents in Surrey and Kent villages have been ordered by police to remove wire mesh from their windows as burglars could be injured.
The doctrine here is that dead men file no lawsuits. If I had to install hardware cloth over my windows to keep the local lowlifes out, and the police informed me that one of the choirboys might sue me if he was injured trying to break through my defenses, I think I'd amp up the defenses a bit.

In England, standard wall current is 220V, and hardware cloth is conductive. I had often thought that a decent living might be made for an enterprising fellow with a discreet cleanup service too.

H/T to Days Of Our Trailers for the lead.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Contagion Spreads

Iran in flames.

Rioting wide spread.

Obama on golf course.

Clapper assures Iranian administration "peaceful and generally secular".

Good luck to the Iranian people. You are, unfortunately, on your own.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

What Do Women Want?

Forget it. There are things that man was not meant to know, and that's right up there at the top of the list.

Way back when wearing animal skins was just becoming fashionable, men quickly learned that the best response to the question "Does this bear skin make my butt look fat?" was to quickly stuff a chunk of mastodon meat into your mouth and smile while mumbling unintelligibly. This would allow his woman to assume he had said whatever she wanted to hear, and not begin beating him with his own club.

Today, some women have discovered a supplement to chicken feed.

Originally they were used by farmers to bulk up chickens - but it was discovered that when taken by women they enhance the size of thighs, hips and bottom.

Now scores of online sites are also offering "herbal" versions of the tablets with names like Star Curves, Big Beautiful Butt Formula, and Brand New Booty pills.

Normally reducing the thighs, hips, and bottoms is a multi-billion dollar business, at least in the West, but who knew there were parts of England where malnutrition was so endemic that this sort of thing might become popular. In places like this, the answer to the question "Do these pills make my butt look big?" might well be "Yes", but given the vagueries of the fair sex, I still recommend the mastodon meat gambit.

Unemployment at 10.3%

Gallup is out with another report on the unemployment rate. Unlike the government, they are not trying to make themselves look good in the face of bad news, so the numbers are not massaged to give a different result. What's interesting to note is how steady the rate has been for the last year, at a pretty constant level right around 10%.

Underemployment is running at 19.7% and has been holding pretty steady for the last year as well, which means there are a lot of part timers and people working below their training out there. The underlying problem with this is that in a lot of cases, if you don't keep your skills up-to-date, after a year, you become noticeably less employable in your preferred position.

I know in my line of work, employers always want 5 years experience using the current year version of the software.

Friday, February 11, 2011

CPAC report

I'm not there, so all this is second hand. Sarah Palin isn't there either, and so far this is sort of looking like a smart move.

So far, Don Trump, erstwhile presidential candidate, has addressed the multitudes to the effect that Ron Paul, as a potential presidential candidate is unelectable. Big Deal. It's not like Mr. Trump is particularly electable.

Think about the characteristics you'd like to see in a President. For example, executive experience. Yes, Trump has that, but being a near absolute dictator in an industrial setting is not the same as being a successful big-city mayor or state governor. This is not to say that Bill Gates might not be a passable president, but somehow I just have a hard time seeing it.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I Get Results

Following my complaint that the Republican party isn't really serious about controlling spending, the party has decided to up the amount to be cut from this years budget from some $32B to a whole #100B.

This sounds great until you look at the situation and conclude that if the government is planning to spent some $1,500B it doesn't have, over and above what it actually does have, $100B still doesn't amount to much. Still, for someone whose place on the internet food chain is probably somewhere near pond scum, it's a good start.

Keep those cards and letters and e-mails flowing to your congressanimals, and remind them that as long as there's ethanol in your gas tank, Daniel Schorr is still employed, or the BATFE still exists, they aren't done.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Caption Contest

Wizbang had a caption contest featuring this picture of traffic on Chicagos Lake Shore Drive:
Being the quick-witted fellow I am, and now that the contest is over it occurs to me that :
"The blizzard highlighted the benefits of mass transit, the passengers having a much higher survival rate due to a better food supply."

Sunday, February 6, 2011

See Something, Say Something

Hello, DHS? I'd like to report terrorist threats against a political speech.
Yes, the organizers felt they had to cancel the speech, the threat level was so high.
Yes, the speaker? Why Sarah Palin... Hello? Hello?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Gun Stuff

Ever the optimists, the house Republicans have introduced a constitutional carry bill. There's a petition to sign to show support which will be submitted when the bill gets assigned to a committee.

Since the Senate is still under the control of the Dems, and the Governor is a member of Bloombergs anti-gun club, this has little or no chance of passing.

The way political maneuvering works, this could well pass the house, forcing the Dems there to go on record with a position which will be used against them in '12. In the Senate, while the Dems don't like guns, they also don't want to be seen opposing them, so the bill will be assigned to the Veterans Affairs committee where it will never see the light of day, and the Dems will be able to avoid actually having to vote on it.

Still, you gotta keep the heat on.

Advances in Medicine

Dealing with antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

No-brainer here. Anyone at Livermore can kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria using lots of radiation or laser light to "mess with their genes".

The trick is to not mess with the genes of the host.

Things You Don't Hear...

...surfing around the web.

Israelis to Egyptian rioters: "don't damage the pyramids, we will not rebuild"
Found in an obscure corner of the Peoples Cube.

The National Budget

Here's where the rummer meets the road, or as we say in flyover country, where the tea meets the cup. The initial budget proposal from John Boehner proposes $100B in budget cuts. This proposal has to get through at least 2 committees before it gets to the house floor, and at least one of them wants to "prorate" this to $32B on account of 1/4 of the year having already passed.

Last I looked, 3/4 of $100B was $75B, so there must be some FICA withholding or something included in this calculation.

Frankly, I'm disappointed. In addition to the monies it actually has, the government is proposing to spend some $1,500B it hasn't got, and put this on our tabs. That would be an extra $5000 from every person in the country. But wait, everybody doesn't pay taxes. In fact, only the employed pay taxes, and the current employment figures suggest that only 64.2% of the population is actually employed. And that number is dropping.

At this point, I conclude the Republicans aren't really serious about the spending, being willing to play carefully around the edges, but avoid making any serious cuts that might offend their friends, the Democrats. Until I see cuts in the $750B range, I'm going to be losing a lot of faith in the party.

Thursday, February 3, 2011