Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Mayors Against Illegal Guns, 2

I read this stuff so you don't have to. At least if you're as lazy as I am. Executive summary, based on an admittedly quick perusal:

First 4 or 5 pages is the literary equivalent of the fanfare of trumpets and shouting of heralds when some self-important blowhard enters the room.

Next 25 pages is a long sad whine explaining how much better off we would doubtless be if only the BATFE were given a paltry 1 or 2 hundred million more dollars so they could afford to buy more jackboots and hire more thugs. Think of the extra jobs this would save or create. Includes the usual half-truths, bogus surveys and outright lies.

Pages 32 through 55 are footnotes. If you think this is a lot of footnotes, you're right. Footnotes are a wonderful place to put bogus references to support your thesis in the main body, since no one but lawyers gets engrossed with footnotes.

Most of what they propose has been proposed before, just not all at once in one document. The biggest reason most of it is not implemented is lack of enforcement funding. Very little of this requires any legislative effort, which is what makes it scary. Folks, do everyone a favor when you write your representatives in Washington. Include at the bottom of every petition a post script. Here's an example:

Hon Senator Jack S. Phogbottom:

I write you today to urge your support for the Mothers, Widows, Orphans, and Apple Pie enabling act of 2010. This legislation is of paramount importance to the continued existence of the country, blah, blah, blah.

Yours truly
Joe Sixpack

P.S. Please cut off all funding to, and abolish the BATFE, or else expect to have to find an honest job after the upcoming election.

Lasers and Railguns

Two topics near to my heart, the military forges onward, developing a laser almost as good as its tracking system, capable of hitting small, fast-moving targets at short distances.

Railguns are fun in that almost anybody with the inclination can build one at home, although probably nowhere near as powerful as the ones the Navy is playing with. It's hard to guess the cal;iber of the one in the video, but they're claiming to have gotten 8200+ fps out of it.

For comparison, pistols deliver about 1000 fps, rifles range from 2500 to 3300 fps, and yes, I know some are notably faster. Rifle bullets, however, start coming apart from the stresses at speeds over 4000 fps.

To whet your appetite, they also say that the 8200 fps figure was obtained at 1/3 the maximum power setting. The downside to these things is that the rails take a large amount of damage every time the gun is fired. Sort of like driving a fuel rail dragster to work. Great fun, for a little while.

Have no fear, both systems will rapidly get better. I guarantee it.

Mayors Against Illegal Guns

MAIG is Mayor Bloombergs personal hobby horse. It is rabidly anti gun. It has skilled people to propose the methodology without having to involve weak-minded politicians who have to actually run for their offices instead of simply dropping a couple hundred million of their own money into a campaign and, in effect buying it.

It has been known to invoke the membership, sometimes without informing the membership first, and sometimes without informing the members that they are members, apparently by inheriting the membership card from a predecessor.

Colorado has only one member mayor.

John Hickenlooper, of Denver.

Bet you didn't think he was that rabidly anti-gun. I bet even he didn't know he was that rabidly anti-gun.

Feel free to drop him a line and encourage him to resign the group. Be polite. Be professional. If you get a form letter back telling you how good he thinks MAIG is, then send him one telling him what a scumbag he is, but not until, OK?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Star Formation

Something to think about. Solar systems are created when the debris, dust, and cosmic dust bunnies in some area of space fall together. We expect solar systems to be anchored by a sun, but it is just as likely that the dust ball prove to be on the small size and create a sub-sol system, anchored by a large entity like Jupiter, with "planets" ranging from pretty good sized down to ring structures.

Being small, these sub-suns would have little or no thermal signature, making them the potholes along the interstellar space ways. Admittedly the odds of your proto-Enterprise, while making a test run to the Centauri system, hitting one of these is vanishingly small, remember that Murphy never sleeps. Brown dwarf stars would be at the upper end of this group.

The odds of anyone finding the wreckage is equally small.

I suppose some budding astronomer could get his PhD by actually finding one of these, although I'm not sure exactly how. Some budding Science-Fiction writer could probably parley this into a novel, with the low-key sub-solar system being the location for some evil genius' base or something.

This post brought to you by inspiration from XKCD, which sometimes diverges from geeky humor to geeky science.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Red Dot Sights

Greg of the Colo RKBA newsletter included a bit on the use of red dots in his newsletter:

"Red-dot, non-magnifying, optical sights (particularly the Aimpoint T1) changes the game much more than I ever imagined! With 'normal' shooting positions, their value is seldom truly realized. It is in the roll-over-prone position, shooting support-side shoulder, around cover, in low light, when you're out of breath, that they really shine! Improvised positions, particularly around cover and obstacles, do not lend themselves well to tediously aligning front and rear sights. Being able to simply '(1) put the thing
(2) on the thing, and (3) pull the thing' magnificently simplifies achieving consistent hits."
To which I would like to add my $.02. I got a Barska 30mm job
for about $20 and mounted it successively onto several of my guns, including pistols.
What I found was that with the tubular units, since you can't see the front sight, sometimes getting the pistol on target takes a bit longer as you wave the gun about trying to find the dot. With practice, however, you learn to get the gun pointed correctly automatically so that when you look through the tube, there the dot is, and when you take the sight off and go back to iron sights, you get on target faster as the pointing is now much more automatic.

And A Happy New Year

There's playing with the new Christmas toys, then there's Really Having Fun with the new Christmas toys.

Also nice training video for all you wannabe A-10 pilots.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Pack, Not A Herd

The NW253 saga comes to something of an end, with the perp in custody, and several of his associates also being held and questioned. Details of the event here and here.

As Boris Badenov says, "I love story weeth happy eending!".

The passengers swarmed the wannabe shoe bomber and subdued him for the authorities on arrival. Frankly I thing the only proper ending is the pilot calling the destination airport to request a "wet cleanup on aisle one".

Congratulations and Merry Christmas to the passengers, and here's hoping Abdul the Bul-Bul gets plenty of swimming lessons at Gitmo.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Hope all of you got what you had in mind, with all the right accessories.
A properly manly tool, no? There's more of this at Free Market Fairy Tales. The vacuum is particularly appealing as D'wife hates having to push hers, and has trouble emptying the bag and then properly re-assembling the thing. With this one, the dirt catcher looks big enough that I'll only have to empty it once a year.

Gun Law: Making It Up As You Go Along

Clayton Cramer is preparing a book on 2A court rulings and is rather appalled at what he finds so far.

It isn't at all unusual to find cases that cite one set of decisions to prove that there is no right to concealed carry, and another set of decisions to prove that their is no right to open carry--with no awareness that the "no right to concealed carry" decisions often directly say that concealed carry can be prohibited only if open carry is allowed (or vice versa).
Gee, judges making the precedent up to suit themselves, or possibly the politicians who got them their judgeship's in the first place. Who'd-a thunk it?

Puts me in mind of a Will Rogers quote: "We revere the hell out of judges. No matter how crooked."

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Or possibly the lack of same.

I remember thinking, back in October when the press breathlessly announced that the economy was growing at 3.5%, that I wasn't seeing much evidence of this. I mean, shouldn't there have been an uptick in help wanted ads?

Sailor Curt found a fellow who thought the same thing, and was skilled enough to do some serious looking at the economy at the time, and he didn't find anything either. The number has since been revised down twice, and the official word is that the economy only grew at 2.2% in the 3rd quarter.

Better than nothing, though, right? Well maybe not. Karl Denninger is unknown to me, so his opinion carries as much weight as mine right now, but it may well turn out that he's an economic boffin of the first order. In any case, he appears to have done his homework, and continued to keep an eye on the official heralds of the government.

Here, for example, he notes that in the GDP report, it turns out that government growth was 8% in an industry that makes up 30% of the economy. This means that government contribution was 2.4% for the 3rd quarter, and the rest of the economy was down .2%, which is more in keeping with my own observations and reports on the gun shows.

Health Control

We all know it's not really about any kind of "care" now, don't we? Anyway I wrote my Senators on the topic, politely and diplomatically suggesting that voting for this bill might have side effects, such as unemployment, tomatoes, and possibly even tar and feathers. I may have used too much nuance, as they both voted for it.

I got canned reply from both of them, and a somewhat more elaborate second reply from Sen Udall, the senior senator. Bennett hasn't gotten all his canned replies printed up yet, as junior senators have to wait at the copier until the senior senators lackys are done.

I wrote Sen Udall back:

Dear Sen. Udall:

Thank you for your Christmas wishes. May your Christmas be a happy one too.

Sen Reid has mentioned that the Health Control bill contained something for every Senator in the Senate, and it would speak poorly of any Senator who didn't get anything for his vote.

Since you voted for the bill, may I ask what you got for Colorado. Sen Nelson got some 50 million a year in perpetuity, making Sen Landreau look like a piker with a $300M one time donation. I hope your efforts were in the "solid B+" category.

I'm like a kid a Christmas, shoveling my way through that huge pile of manure, secure in the belief that there's a pony under there somewhere, right Mo.

What Do You Know?

This ought to be the qualifier to see if you get to vote. Yes, I know, it discriminates against people who can't read, can't speak English, yada, yada.

I got 11/12.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

He Knows If You've Been Naughty..

He knows if you've been nice.

And he's out of patience with you naughty varmints, so, as the song goes;"Sleep with one eye open..."

Christmas Gift Ideas

Some of your favorite vices may, in fact, be good for you. Many of them make great stocking stuffers too.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Guns and Crime

The FBI is reporting that violent crime, especially murder is down 10% this year. You suppose that this
could have had anything to do with it? 2009 number is extrapolated from 11 reported months.

Is There Nothing This Man Can't Do?

After accomplishing the seemingly impossible, in making Jimmy Carter look good by comparison, O'Bama has surpassed all expectations once again.

After 8 years of incessant hammering by the press, Bushes approval/disapproval numbers were at 29/43. Today, after only 11 months of fawning adulation by the press, O'bama is holding down approval/disapproval numbers of 25/46.
Now I ask you: Who would have thought he could have done it?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Call Of Cthulhu

Just what you need to get you through the coming Ice Age, AKA winter of '09-10.
I like Lovecraft, I'm just not sure I like him that much. Still, imagine this under a motorcycle helmet, blasting down the road, leaving people in your wake wondering why the crazy old coot on the bike dyed his beard green.

Get one here, or tell someone you know who knits to get busy.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Health Care Prize

Ben Nelson (D-NE) has famously sold out for a promise to Nebraska that the Fed.gov (you and me) would pick up the states Medicare bills, in light of the anticipated increase in Medicare costs resulting from the Health Control Bill. Initial commentary suggests that NE is paying out about $45M/yr to cover this at present.

The agreement extends to perpetuity.

NE has a population of about 1.7M, of which those over 65 are currently eligible for Medicare. Looking at age distributions:

It looks as though about 6.1% of the population are currently eligible. Under the new health bill, the eligibility age goes down to 50, which makes the eligible population jump to about 13.5%. Lessee, 13.5 divided by 6.1, times 45 M equals 99.5M.

In 3 years, Nelson will have equaled the bribe given to Mary Landreau (D-Big Easy). 4 other states have reportedly gotten similar deals, including Vermont, Florida, Louisiana, and Montana. Our wet-behind-the-ears Senators have gotten us nothing, so in addition to the upcoming state tax increase, we get to pay other states bills.

The above numbers suggest that Colorado, with a population of 5M needs about 132M to cover Medicare now, and will need an additional 160M shortly to cover the additional demand.

Say, Gov Romer, how's that budget coming?

Disclaimer: Size of Sen Nelsons bribe extracted from news reports, most of which agree. Population data is from U.S.Census dept, which is not yet a subsidiary of ACORN. Calculations were done on a TI calculator, and are guaranteed to be at least as good as measuring tree rings.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


At this late date, it is becoming increasingly apparent to me that the health care bill is a done deal. Any remaining Senators with "deep philosophical objections" to anything in or out of it, are simply holding out for a bigger bribe. Bribes will be apportioned according to seniority in whatever quantity the Distinguished personages want, and the cloture vote will be 60-40, on strict party lines. (1)

Following this, some minimal debate will be allowed, with Dems splitting into two camps, the larger one pointing out the crying need for government health control (care will be an afterthought), and the smaller one demanding some sort of changes to be added. Republicans will also split into two camps, generally along the same thought processes, with the RINOs crying that they could not only write a smaller bill, but could be better trusted to manage the nations health, and the larger group, coming down against the whole thing.

In the end, all the Republicans will vote against, and Harry will allow the "Blue Dogs" that can possibly be saved in the upcoming elections to vote against, but only enough that the bill passes by two votes or so. A masterpiece of Kabuki theater.

The bill then goes to conference committee, from which Republicans will be effectively excluded, and everything taken out will be put back in. The House will approve this, with selected members permitted to vote against in order to preserve their jobs(2), and the Dear Leader will sign it.

That's what my crystal ball says.

(1) Anyone care to make side bets as to weather the promised bribes are actually delivered or deliverable?

(2) See Wayne LaPetomaine.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Controling The Internet

The Devil is reporting that Parliament in England is currently considering legislation which would allow the British Secretary of State to control use of the internet by speeding up, slowing down, or cutting off the internet service of anybody, for any reason, or even pretty much no reason at all.
(1) The Secretary of State may at any time by order impose a technical obligation on internet service providers if the Secretary of State considers it appropriate in view of—
A technical obligation is, as mentioned above, speeding up, slowing down, or shutting off. This sort of thing could easily be copied here, substituting the DHS for the SoS, who, in England, serves a different function from the SoS here.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Grading On The Curve

O'bama has rated his first 11 months in office a solid B+. Oddly, Tiger Woods had the same rating for his marriage.

For myself, I rated my first year in college a solid A. Unfortunately the faculty had other opinions and I wound up doing four years in the Air Force. The (paid!) vacation was helpful. I did much better afterword.

Roach Guns

For when a mouse gun is overkill:
Real Guns has the complete skinny on this.

Interestingly, they also have a calculator that suggests a rifling rate based on length and diameter of your bullet. For grins, I ran my 2-1/2 bore guns through it and am informed that 1 turn in about 150-180 inches will do the trick. That works out to about 45 degrees of twist over the 23 inches of the barrel.

Grenades Are Safe

So says the Army. Unfortunately, they mean this only in an ecological sense, so the advice that "Once the pin has been pulled, Mr. Grenade is no longer your friend!" holds true. Still, it's a step in the right direction.

Any day now I'll be expecting to find grenades available at the gun show, along with the rocket launchers and automatic weapons. No questions asked.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Getting Married

Not me, having been married for some time now*, but I wish I could have had this topper on a cake at my wedding:
It summarizes everything I hoped a marriage would turn out to be. A couple competently covering each others backs.

Actually, at the time I was probably thinking of Conan and Red Sonja. In retrospect, I would have made a better Bond in a tux than a Conan in a fur Speedo.

There's a whole collection of unconventional toppers here.

*January 1st will be 30 years. Seems like forever. Oh wait...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Star Wars

Yeah! Duck you suckas!

Sign of the Times

Two days ago, people lined up in Colorado Springs before sunrise, in bitter cold, to get a place in the next line to have Sarah Palin sign their copy of her book. The mall owner let them in out of the cold.

The bookstore could have helped by providing a burn barrel into which the people could toss remaindered copies of Earth In The Balance to try to keep warm. A singularly good use for it.

Is there an editorial cartoonist in the house?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Medical Marijuana and the Great Experiment

We in Colorado now have a chance to perform two of the great un-run experiments of all time. Medical Marijuana is now legal, and for the most part, unregulated. The Dems are proposing vast new fields of regulation covering the stuff, so we'll soon see if, with government help, even dope dealers regularly go broke.

Secondly, we get to test the hypotheses that if drugs were legalized, the Libertarian party would never be heard from again.

The challenge facing the Donks currently running the state is to keep the jackboot of regulation planted firmly enough that nobody dealing pot makes any money, while at the same time, making enough of it available to eliminate one of their staunchest enemies.

Now taking bets.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Global Warming

Now here's a problem well on its way to solving itself. At the rate the winter is progressing, by January, the white crystals falling out of the sky will be CO2. All that will remain is to hire one illegal alien to shovel it into a city truck, and give raises to the guy with the "slow" sign, the truck driver, and an intern to take notes on how many shovels full of CO2 it takes to fill a city truck.

Also raises will go to a county clerical type to agglomerate the data together, a state-level wonk to massage the numbers, and a director-level personage to present the power point presentation to the feds showing how many jobs were "saved or created" in the prevention of global warming, and the stimulus money spigots will be wide open.

Oh yes, did I forget to include the guys at the landfill who will be covering the crystals up? Bonus! I bet that comes to 100-150 jobs per county times 85 counties, one per congressional district. Do the math, and don't forget the fudge factors, and you've got 850,000 new jobs here in Colorado alone.

As an extra added bonus, the CO2 removed from the atmosphere will stop the evil warming in its tracks, keeping temperatures this low all year round, which means: permanent employment for all. I tell you it doesn't get any better that this.

CSU Gun Ban

The board of governors at CSU has voted to ban guns in any form from the campus. I am informed by a friend with a Law Degree that this is equivalent to a local mayor ordaining a municipal assault weapons ban in the face of a state preemption law.

A student despairingly asked what is to be done, as even though what they do is illegal, it takes a long time to correct the problem, and as we know, by the time the problem is corrected, the public has forgotten who was responsible, and the guilty parties get reelected. Is the solution to enroll at another school?

To paraphrase Margret Thatcher, while leaving town is the path of least resistance, the problem with it is that you eventually run out of other peoples towns to run to.

Gun Show Report

Worked Saturday instead of Sunday this time. Seemed to be fairly well attended, but I didn't see a huge amount of money changing hands. If you're looking for a gun, it seems like a favorable time.

Problem is that after the buying panic in the first half of the year, people are now worried about being employed in the first half of next year, and aren't buying as much. Notable observation was the large number of people carrying guns to sell. If what you're looking for seems hard to find, I'd say wait till next month, then check the pawn shops.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Engineering Math

It is widely known that engineers are good with numbers. The better you are, the more money you can expect to make in this line of work, as XKCD points out here:

A clever engineer knows how to work with the available resources.

And of course, by the time you've been in the biz for a while, you have derived, using your own calculator, the famous truth, used by statisticians the world over: 44.6% of all statistics are made up on the spot.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Copenhagen Confrence

OK, this is too good not to report. iOwn The World, among others, is noting that the mayor of Copenhagen's efforts to discourage the local sex trade has resulted in the local girls offering a freebie to anyone with the mayors postcard.

Elsewhere, which now I can't find, I saw that Brazil was sending a 700 person delegation to Copenhagen. New converts to the "green" cause, I'm sure.

Found it here.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Going Postal, Mr. Bond?

The deadline being over, the details of our special mission can now be revealed. 3 of us visited the range, just a few days after a significant snow storm to try our luck. The mud was unbelievable.

Paula and I both used a Remington Nylon 66 .22 rifle with a BSA scope
(class 6). Paulas rifle target had 26 holes in it, 1 too many. This is
my fault. I put up multiple targets, and she lost track (repeatedly) of
which one she was supposed to be aiming at.

I used a Ruger Mk 1 .22,Paula used a Ruger Mk 2, and James used his Ruger Mk 2, a newer version with a heavy barrel. I submitted the targets, and the results are here.

Looks like I won class 1, and finished a respectable 3rd with the rifle.

The Icons on the target are:
Upper Left: Blimp from View To A Kill
Lower Left: Habitat Atlantis from The Spy Who Loved Me
Center: The boat Disco Volante from Thunderball
Lower Right: Death Sphere from Moonraker
Upper Right: Lifeboat from Diamonds are Forever
Bond Girl: From the movie poster for For Your Eyes Only

Disclosure and credit: Anonymous, who posted to my blog identified 4 of
the icons, and thanks for the assist, whoever you are.

I'm not sure how this part was scored, but I got 8 tiebreaker points for those answers. Danno got 11 and Engineering Johnson got 9, so there may be some problem with my answers.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Air Guns

They come in all sizes, from BBs to pea shooters, to pumpkin-caliber units, and in varying degrees of complexity. Ready Line has one constructed by the writers nephews, who are in engineering school.

It looks complicated enough to have been made from pilfered parts from somebody's prototype FTL drive.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Workshop

The removal of the pumpkin gun from the inventory brings up the question of "What's next?".

Currently the can crusher is on the bench
The exit ports have been cut away, and some guarding has been added. It runs well now. A larger magazine feed is in order.

The 2-bore muskets are languishing in the shop. Since I got called back to work for a while, I can't work on them. Oh well, Money will get you through times of no muskets better than muskets will get you through times of no money.


Basically a silly guessing game of no import at all, but anything for a laugh. Penetrating Insights (I never heard of them either) reports that a new Obama poster is showing up in Downey, a suburb of Los Angeles.
That would be it on the right. When the middle one came out, people actually got busted for "posting bills" or whatever it's called for putting them up. Sure, it's illegal, like littering, but you seldom hear about people getting ticketed for it.

Anyway, the new one has everyone baffled as to what TWAP might possible stand for. Perhaps The Worst American President ever could enlighten us?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Quote of the Day

Here lies a reproduction of one of the e-mails brought to light in the East Anglia global warming kerfuffle. The author is offering a course of labor to a colleague, involving an attempt to reconcile the works of several competing, and very thin-skinned post-docs.

After going through six complex steps, which may or may not involve some or all of the others, step 7 is:

7) Publish, retire, and don't leave a forwarding address.
Probably good advice, as some of the people whose data you'd be massaging control your share of the government millions they get to come up with results, and if you suggest that any of what they have so far is anything but pure gospel, you'll soon discover how nice it is, comparitively, to be a mini-skirted hooker in Mecca.

Which brings us to the actual quote. The writer is already familiar with the available data and notes:

We know with certainty that we know f**k-all.
Edward Cook
Which is what many of us suspected all along.

Gives me an idea for a book: "Pontificating for Fun and Prophet"

Sunday, November 29, 2009

End of an Era

After all these years, the Bomberos, the second most powerful air cannon in Colorado* is leavinbg for a new home in Nebraska.
Good bye and good luck. You folks in Kansas be very afraid.

P.S. If any of you know who those folks in Arvada who have the new centrifugal machine are, let me know. We need to meet.

*#1 is Johnny Pumpkinseed, also a product of the Denver Mad Scientists Club.

The Future of Transportation

Say Anything, who posts out of South Dakota, has a piece noting an unintended consequence of government planning in the fuels / agriculture industry. It seems that the mandate for ethanol in motor fuel demanded a certain amount of ethanol to mix with the fuel, and production was based on predictions of fuel demand.

Guess what? Fuel demand has dropped, but nobody adjusted the ethanol quotas. Now we have a surplus of ethanol to go with the shortage of animal food that goes along with converting corn to likker.

In the face of a recession that drives up the cost of everything, including food and fuel, the obvious solution to this problem is another government stimulus program. This time, everyone will be entitled to a free quart of government moonshine to help get them through the hard times. That would be 1 quart per registered voter in the household.

OK, in some places in Chicago, that would amount to enough cheap booze to keep a low-rent bar open for the whole year. Everyone in the bar will be counted as a job created or saved, I guess, so win-win.

Friday, November 27, 2009


It's a whole lot more fun if you don't need it.

Etymology Of Names

A -gate scandal is one in which the media will relentlessly pursue the (conservative) guilty party until he or she is publicly ruined and driven out of town, as it were.

A -quiddick scandal is one which the media will pointedly ignore until the (leftist) central party dies in high public office, which he holds all his life. No mention of the scandal will be permitted in the eulogy either.

Hence "Climaquiddick".

In a way the scandal was predictable. A researcher frequently is an academic who gets his money from the government. If you're looking for government money, the surest way to get it is come up with a problem that will be best solved with more government intervention. The larger the disaster which can be expected to ensue if more government intervention is not applied, the more grant money you can ask for with a straight face, and expect to get.

I know that industry isn't real big on never-ending studies, as they generally want to get a product to market at some point, and get on with the business of making money. Still, you have to wonder if GM or Chrysler aren't missing an opportunity here:
"Buy a Chevrolet and save the earth!"
"Buick! Keeping the worlds oceans down!" (Picture Tiger Woods up to his ankles in a water hazard here.)
"Don't let Jeep drown!" (Picture of a Jeep on an ice floe, possibly with a polar bear behind the wheel.)

I should be in marketing.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Turkey with the fixins, Newcastle beer, and a visit from a new puppy.

To top it off, the Science channel had on 2 hours of this years Punkin Chunkin, including coverage of a centrifugal machine from right up the road.

Maybe it will inspire someone to buy our pumpkin cannon.

Hope all of you had a nice Turkey Day too, and thanks for stopping by and reading my rants.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tilting At Windmills

The continuing saga.

A few years ago I observed that the real hardcore politicians were the people who never saw a constituent problem that couldn't be turned into a revenue enhancement, usually without fixing the problem. Last weeks shot was to the Littleton councilman who also reps Littleton to the DRCOG. James Taylor responded to my petition for assistance by suggesting that the HOV lane be turned into a HOT (High occupancy / Toll) lane.

Sure, if the taxpayers are inconvenienced by congestion and pollution while 1/3 of a roadway they paid for goes essentially unused, just charge them for the privilege of using it.

In Chicago it works like this:
A businessman is selling fruit from a pushcart when a stranger bumps the cart, spilling the merchandise. The businessman protests this, but the stranger has an easy solution. Simply pay him $20/day, and he guarantees that the inconvenience will never happen again. The merchant, of course, happily pays the tariff, secure in the knowledge that his problem is solved.


When most of us take a job, there is an underlying assumption of loyalty the whomever has his name on the bottom of our paychecks. We provide our services in the hope that the enterprise will succeed and our contribution will be recognized downstream. In the case of government workers, the loyalty too often goes to the agency whose name appears on the check rather than the people the agency is supposed to serve, and whose money is behind the check.

Perhaps government checks should be written from the people of (insert city, state, of country here) rather than just City of Springfield, to remind the recipients of who exactly they are working for.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Musical Interlude

I like good music, well blended harmonies, full, rich chording, and the image of Al Gore spending time in the joint with a couple of roommates who look like they may have been born there.

M4GW have several bits like this. Go here for a top lever look / listen.

Monday, November 23, 2009

When Things Go Wrong

Now I admit I've had things go wrong, once or twice. Usually it has to do with something completely unforeseen. I mean like I've never ever heard anyone suggest that "you could see that coming". At least not that I can remember.

Now this:

Was there ever any doubt? Whatsoever?

Found at Jawa Report.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Global Warming

Who knew that nuclear weapons were measured in Megabytes?

Science and Technology Marching Forward

Computer World is announcing that Intel is predicting that chips implanted into the human brain will soon be used to replace the keyboard and mouse as an interface at your computer. To me this sounds promising. Just think, a small implant, and I never misplace a tool again, or forget that last item on the grocery list.

With the addition of a small hole in the top center of the head, one of those camera memory cards can be dropped in to provide the recipient with spell check, XL and a dictionary, rendering high school grads employable for the first time in ages.

Some people worry that these chips might eventually extend to include processors, operating under government control, but given the slow reaction of government to the introduction of new technology, what would more likely happen is that enhanced cognitive abilities will render the Democratic party obsolete before they can mandate specific software.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Star Wars

Not that funkey movie, but the real thing. Boeing, who seems to have picked up a lot of the old laser-based programs, is working on the refinement of the concepts to forms that can be profitably used on todays battlefield.
Boeing leads the way in developing laser weapon systems for a variety of U.S. Air Force, Army and Navy applications. These systems include the Airborne Laser, Advanced Tactical Laser, Free Electron Laser, High Energy Laser Technology Demonstrator and Tactical Relay Mirror System.
Having worked on some of the Star Wars stuff back in the day, I can tell you that making it actually work as advertised was more of a timing challenge than a technological one.

The congress, dominated by Democrats, didn't want the Soviet Union to think we were acting too aggressively toward it. The President (Reagan) was industriously banging away at their foundations with any sledgehammer he could lay his hands on. The ground-based laser system decsribed at the link traces its ancestry back to the R2D2-like air defense systems now mounted on most Navy boats. The Armys version was a 40mm gun on a tracked vehicle with a radar to direct it, and a computer to prioritize targets called DAVID. The review of the DAVID systim I saw showed a very aggressive system that would find anything that moved in the air, point the gun at it, and demand that the operator either pull the trigger or designate the target as friendly. Operators were warned to fasten their seat belts securely, because the machine didn't waste time moving from one potential target to the next. When they said "neck-snapping speed" they weren't kidding.

Recent versions of this have been able to pick off targets down to small mortar shells and RPG rounds, as moving mirrors and prisms is easier than swinging a 40mm gun barrel. It would seem that the target acquisition system is about ready for showtime, and the laser is quickly catching up. It's not that big lasers are difficult to build, as such, but that the support systems for them are prohibitively bulky. Progress is being made here, too.

If Boeing wants to do a real-life test, they could park their system just north of the Gaza border with Israel, and take pot-shots at the Iranian rockets Hamas is launching. If this works, they will quickly be able to expand to shooting at the mortar shells Hamas will certainly be aiming at their test rig, too.

H/T to Bijou Renaissance Man, who has some further details and pictures.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Or lack of same. Go here to see a county-by-county map of the whole country as it changes from yellow to red to purple to black with the rising unemployment rate. Whoever put this together had plenty of time on his hands. Possibly he was unemployed.

The animation shows the country being overwhelmed as if by some fast-spreading plague.

In spite of the assurances of the powers that be wafting about my nether regions, I'll find it easier to believe that the recession is ending when the black tide shows signs of receding.

Postal Match

Last chance this year to "go postal" and win undying fame and glory. To find out what that's worth, go to the CBOT and search either one of those commodities.

Anyway this months match is for the James Bond fans. Here's the target:
The complete rules are here. The fun part is that there's an advantage if you can name all six Bond movies for which an image is pictured. All five vehicles, and the girl. I have three ID'd, but I haven't been to a Bond flick since he wrecked the Aston Martin, so think of this as a bit of an online trivia contest.

First person to correctly name all six flicks, will get credit for having named them when I send in the targets. This is recognition second only to not finishing last in the match, so give it your best guess. I'm going out this weekend to prove that I can hit an 8-1/2 x 11 sheet of paper at 11 yards without using a scope, and at 25 yards with one.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Term Limits

Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) is floating a bill to amend the constitution to limit members of congress to 12 years in either house. This legislation is sorely needed, as has been painfully obvious since forever.

Take a minute and drop your Senator a note asking for support on this. Two thirds of both the House and Senate and three quarters of the states would need to approve the amendment for it to take effect, which is mighty steep odds. Still, a vote would serve to smoke out the members most in need of retirement.

Appeal to the Pols self-interest. When writing to your Reps, point out that this would free up that Senate seat they've been eying, possibly before they themselves die of old age, their childhood dream unrealized.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Future of Transportation

The Aptera is at the point at which it will either shortly enter production, or the dustbin.
It seems that the financial powers that be have come to the point that the founders of the company have been let go.

At this point in a company's life, someone has decided that the beta test unit has developed about all the buzz its going to and it's time to either produce a production device and sell it, or call it quits. The idea people get annoyed when this happens as there is always something else that can be refined and added. The money people like to point out that R&D does not bring anything in until some of it goes out to the customer.

When it gets cold around here, I get to appreciate an enclosed vehicle with a heater. I'm sure the Aptera gets some astronomical number of miles to the gallon, and even reaches freeway speeds eventually.

I'm looking foreword to seeing the first one with a Hyabusa or V-max engine. 200 hp in that? Yowza!

Cafe Scientifique

This is an organization that presents lecturers on varied topics, open to the public, and frequently held at drinking establishments. Tonight's lecture was

Gravity's Fatal Attraction: How Black Holes Rule the Universe
As the Universe evolves, could it be the ultimate fate of all matter to be "swallowed" by black holes?Mitch Begelman, Professor of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences, JILA Fellow, University of Colorado, Boulder.

The problem with lecturing on the topic of black holes, is that there is really very little that can actually be known about them as such. Mass and spin are about it. The interesting stuff comes when you consider what goes on just outside one of them.

Having taken college physics myself, a lot of the lecture was a bit old hat, still there was some new stuff discussed. The packed house seemed to be quite enthralled however, so don't mind me. I was just a bit disappointed that the Dr. didn't bring one along to demonstrate with.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Over at Volokh, there's a discussion of it, mostly as relates to applying it to overly exuberant miscreants of the type who believe in making up in quantity, for example, what their deeds lack in quality. Also brought up is the subject of physician-assisted suicide.

This is a touchy area, and peoples opinions vary greatly depending on how the question is phrased.

Folks, if you're looking for help in shuffling off the mortal coil, you probably shouldn't be consulting with a physician in the first place. Doctors, after all, get paid to keep you alive. Talk to an Engineer. One who has had to sit through weekly production planning meetings will probably sympathize with you.

Engineers actually get paid good money to come up with devices specifically designed to hasten the demise of humanity, sometimes in wholesale quantities. They are also the ones who understand some of the "undocumented features" of otherwise innocuous devices you can find almost anywhere.

Just remember to ask discretely, as this sort of service is not always looked on favorably by the local authorities, and expect to have to pay in advance.


It's beginning already! in Las Vegas!
LAS VEGAS (AP) - For the second time in three days a home invasion suspect has been shot and killed by a Las Vegas homeowner.
Third time's the charm fellah, just make sure you don't run low on ammo.

Remember, zombie defense is a valid reason to own a gun.

And lots of ammo.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Middle East Diplomacy

Mark:"Is this a game of chance?"
W.C.Fields:"Not the way I play it, no."

It's how they play it in that part of the world, as Omar reports.
Thirty Mahdi Army commanders assasinated in Damascus
Unknown gunmen assassinated 30 Mahdi Army commanders in the Syrian capital Damascus. The killings, made in the past few weeks, were all made "quietly, inside the victims apartments",
All the usual suspects (everybody) are being blamed. The survivors are beating feet to Iran, and probably to whatever other places look less dangerous at the moment. Mookie Al-Sadr may miss them. Nobody else will.

Speaking of danger in the middle east, it also seems that Egypt and Algeria are on the verge of an impromptu war in the streets of Cairo. Fatalities are widely expected. Of course since it's only over a soccer game, the governments seem relatively unconcerned. Soccer hooligans, hah! There's plenty more where those came from.

Gun Sales

Looking at the graphs of U.S. gun manufacturing from the VPCs lamentation, I notice that manufacturing, and presumably sales, trend upwards when the Democrats hold the legislature, and peak when they also hold the presidency.

Additionally, sales decline when Republicans hold the legislature, and reach a minimum when they hold the presidency as well.

Noting only a small blip following 9/11, I have to conclude that the American people fear the Democrats far more than the armies of Allah.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

2 Bore In The Workshop

This is an ongoing project at this point. The gun is 1-1/4" diameter bore which technically makes it a 2-1/2 bore, however I've noticed that when you have a gun this big, they get called "2-bore" over a range of sizes.
The barrel O.D. is 2 inches. The stock is still a slab of wood, but the lock mechanism is coming along nicely. The CAD model above has been transparentized to help me visualize how all the parts are going to play together when it's finished. Hopefully I will have 2 of these ready to try out this Spring.

Sights haven't been worked out yet, but will probably be clamped to the barrel in front, and fastened securely to the barrel plug in the back, and yes, there will be some wood under the barrel.

As this is a smooth bore, 1-1/4" lead balls would be the expected projectiles, but in the interest of preserving my shoulder, I'm thinking of making some plastic sabots to carry 1" or 1-1/8" steel balls.

Projects like this fall into the category of "Why engineers should never be unemployed" and currently, my part-time gig has come back on line. The good news is that I'm bringing in some income. The bad news is that the delivery date for these cannons will move out a bit. Not to worry, progress reports will be posted when progress happens.

"Big Boomers" Threat or Menace?

The VPC has its latest whine up:

1. Big boomers are rifle power designed into handguns. During the 1990 to 1999
period, 20 law enforcement officers were killed by gunshot wounds as a result of
rounds penetrating their body armor. All of these rounds were fired from rifles.
So they admit right up front that the vests worn by LEOs work as advertised.However, the big boomer handguns that are now being designed and marketed by the firearms industry have elevated the power of handguns to the level of rifles. Big boomers have thus become “vest busters” and present a deadly challenge to law enforcement body armor’s life-saving record.
The vests were never intended to protect against rounds like the .44 magnum and other cartridges of that class.
2. Big boomers—a serious new threat to America’s public safety officers—are the gun industry’s latest attempt to stop its steady market decline. The American firearms industry has been sagging for decades.

Which would explain why I can't find the gun I want at the gun show, and all the dealers on line all list it as "out of stock". Ditto ammo. The manufacturers all seem to have a significant backlog in production, too. Say, does this "serious new threat" include the 45-70 revolver? I seem to remember that one as having gone into production in the 1800s.

The article drones on and on, shoveling it high and deep.
The gun industry’s cumulative loss of market ground is reflected in a 2006 study, “Public Attitudes Towards the Regulation of Firearms,” released by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago analyzing the prevalence of household firearms. The NORC survey data shows that during the period 1972 to 2006, the percentage of American households that reported having any guns in the home dropped nearly 20 percentage points: from a high of 54 percent in 1977 to 34.5 percent in 2006.
"Hi, Mr or Mrs homeowner, I'm from NORC, not to be confused with NARK, and would like to know how many guns you have in your house."

Yeah, right.

Their graph showing handgun production, shows a huge spike coincident with passage of the AWB, which took a big drop, as Republicans took over the House and Senate in 94. Production showed a steady decline for the next 12 years, with hardly a noticeable blip following 9/11, but began another uptick in 2006 when the Dems took over the congress. They stopped collecting data in 06 for some reason, but I saw frenzied buying at the gun shows peaking only a couple months ago.

One other thing is that if domestic firearm production is declining, then what about imports? Domestic production of everything has been in decline for some years now, but NICS checks are running about 12 million/year or more.
Does this look like an industry in decline to you?
Thanks to Ammoland for the graphic.

Opportunities For The Differently Abled

It seems that the effort to stop the Ft.Hood shooter resulted in his now being unable to walk. I had been hoping that he would be, by now, unable to breathe, but you take what you can get.

Mind-boggling possibilities present themselves. In addition to car bombs, vest bombs, bicycle bombs, and motorcycle bombs, we now get to look foreword to wheelchair bombs.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mind Control

No, not that kind of mind control. This one works the other way. Seems a mechanic in Germany lost both arms in an accident, but has been fitted with advanced prostheses that allow him to control his arms with his mind.
Using the nerves that previously controlled the healthy limbs, the 22-year-old Austrian merely has to think what he wants his arms to do and the command is obeyed.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Quoting Mao

Anita Dunn was forced out of her post as communications director after quoting Mao Tse-dung who said, among other things, that
"Every Communist must grasp the truth; "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun." ."

A famous quote, the preamble usually left off, for obvious reasons. He also said:

Our principle is that the Party commands the gun, and the gun must never be allowed to command the Party.

"Problems of War and Strategy" (November 6, 1938), Selected Works, Vol. II, p. 224.

Once you have shot your way into the presidential palace, the first thing to do is to sandbag the windows, and disarm the peasants.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Missing The Point

In all the commentary going on about the Ft. Hood attack, no one seems to be picking up on the obvious point of the thing. That Maj. Hasan was executing a terrorist attack on the U.S. is not really debatable. As they note at the military academies, strategy and tactics are for amateurs, professionals talk logistics.

So let's consider the logistics of the attack. To put a soldier in the field requires ten or more supporters off the field. Someone has to inspire the fellow, someone has to train him, to turn an otherwise ordinary Joe into a weapon in his own right, and supply him with anything he needs over and above what he brings to the game himself. Peripherally, we hear he attended the same Mosque as two of the 9/11 people, and was preached to by the same Imam. When the same institution spits out 3 terrorists in a row, it's time to give the place a really close look. Who's in there, what are they saying, and who is paying them to say it.

To stop the attacks, it is necessary to do more than kill the man in the field. You have to wipe out the base that trained him, and the political leadership who inspired him, otherwise you're just playing whack-a-mole. Monitoring the sermons of suspected radicals is quite within reason. Reviewing their immigration status wouldn't hurt either. Freedom of religion is a limited right, just like all the others, and human sacrifice is over the line.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Health Care

The health care bill, all 1900 pages of it, passed the house today in what was undoubtedly a carefully choreographed vote. Job one in politics is getting yourself re-elected, so the opposing dems undoubtedly all came from otherwise Red districts (cough) Markey (cough).

A triumphant Speaker Nancy Pelosi likened the legislation to the passage of Social Security in 1935 and Medicare 30 years later.
Both of which stand today as paragons of careful financial management and long term planning.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

We're From The Government

And we're here to help.

Saw an article somewhere, and now can't find the thing again, that notes that the federal lead law that effectively bans garage sales and home made crafts without a lead test, extends to metallic alloys that contain lead, pretty much without regard to the amount.

This will extend the ban to include certain alloys of brass and steel. Yes, steel, to which, in some cases, small quantities of lead are added to make it easier to machine. So if you have children in your home, and inspection reveals brass plumbing fixtures, doorknobs, or house keys, run for your life, you're all gonna die!

Hunting The Wiley Wild Bowling Pin

Shot a bowling pin match today. Finished about halfway down, which sounds unexciting until you remember that not that long ago I was finishing dead last. Folks, try not to injure your head, recovery takes forever.

Pin matches are a contrast between the auto loaders and the revolvers. With an auto, speed is king. 5 rounds to knock over 5 pins, then 10 rounds or more to get them off the table. With a revolver, you bring the biggest one you've got, preferably with the number 4 in the size, or the word "magnum" in the name. Both, if you can manage.

Take your time, remembering that there's only 5 pins, and you have a spare bullet if you need it. No matter how hard you try, you can't miss fast enough to win.

I had two 5-round tables today, that's 5 rounds, and 5 pins on the ground. Yay me!

Ft. Hood

People are criticizing Obama for his apparent lack of concern about the Ft. Hood shooting. Give the man some slack. People get killed at that rate back in Chicago all the time.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Elections

The topic has been written to death, in most cases, but it's never too late to have some fun with it.

Chris Christie won in New Jersey because all the "spare" ballots that are usually "found" in the trunks of cars, were stored in cars that were inadvertently sold under the "Cash for Clunkers" program.

You can bet the party hack responsible for "finding" those extra ballots is in the trunk of his own car right now heading for the crusher.

Ft. Hood

Ross Kaminsky has a post on the topic over at Rossputin on the topic. What struck me is that the shootewr was a doctor of psychaietry, which suggest no more than a $0.50 taxi ride to the booby hatch anyway. He also is taking a survey which should bring in some interesting commentary.

1. Of course. I notice that when I hear about a mass murder or bomb plot, it's almost never a Methodist. I also understand that the Koran and the Hadith place a religious obligation on their followers to perform such acts.
1a. Thursdays acts merely confirm my observations.

2. Devout followers of any religion have a tendency to think of Gods law as being superior to any secular law. History is full of examples. When religious law comes into conflict with secular law regarding killing people or paying taxes, the outcome is generally not happy.

3. Legally surveilling Muslims would be extremely difficult at best, from a legal standpoint. Should we? Interesting question. Everyone has the right to practice the religion of their choice, however some restrictions apply. Satanists are prohibited from practicing human sacrifice, for example. Don't know if the prohibition extends to advocating it, but if so then such a prohibition should logically extend to the advocacy of murder against practitioners of other religions.
Can an ordinary citizen be sanctioned for advocating violence against other citizens, for whatever reason? (Big discussion of this, re: "Fighting words" at Volokh)
Can a "holy man" be sanctioned for advocating violence against practitioners of other religions? Can a religion be sanctioned for including the same in its basic dogma?
If Boulder passes a strong "hate speech" law, can I demand that Islam be banned in Boulder under it?

I've commented on Islam before here at casa Billll, and called it like I saw it, which will probably keep me from getting elected to high public office, at least as a Democrat, or in Boulder county, should that ever happen.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Harrys Roamers Turkey Run

I'll promote this because I've always had fun on this. It's a chance to get on your motorcycle and enjoy the kind of weather we've come to expect in Colorado in mid-November.
Balmy weather. Note the chaps on the luggage rack.
I've ridden this event is everything from shirt-sleeve warmth to snow with ice on the pavement, which was, shall we say, challenging.
Note the bike-fu masters technique; Foot well to the rear, forks at full lock, bike leaning strongly to the near side. In his defense, we were pulling onto the roadway here at a twisty section that made seeing oncoming traffic from either direction difficult. The traffic tended to take the posted limit as only an advisory, too. We bikers, of course, were paragons of virtue at all times.

The event is November 15th, regardless of weather, starting at G.I. Jodys watering hole on the NE corner of Ken Caryl and Simms. Doors open at 9:30, registration starts at 10, first bike out at 11, everybody in by 3 PM.

Cost is $10/rider, $5/ passenger, or extra hand.

High-quality frozen turkeys are the prizes. This is a poker run format ride. If you don't know what a poker run is, come on out and find out. As W.C.Fields said, "This is not a game of chance. Not the way I play it, no."

09 Elections

All in all, not bad. Not as good as it could have been, Bloomberg joins Danny Ortega in getting term limits swept aside, and NY-23 didn't work out in spite of polls showing Hoffman leading easily right up to the end.

Considering that both the GOP and the Dems (but I repeat myself) were running against him up until 1 week before the election, I'd say Hoffman did quite well.

Of course we must remember that in politics, 2nd place is equivalent to a train ticket to Siberia.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Swine Flu Plot

I love a good conspiracy. Here at Right Wing News is a report in the comments that the Swine Flue vaccine, to be given to the detainees at Gitmo, is made from ..... Swine.

OK, it has now been reported in a usually* reliable source that the swine flu vaccine is made from pigs. If this post is referenced in another blog** then one could say that it has been widely reported that...

Rioting begins in 3,...2,...1,...

*I admit the original post is probably more reliable than the comments.

**This one, for example. Given the size of the internet, it doesn't take much to make a report "wide".

Monday, November 2, 2009

Quote of the Week

From Megan Mcardle at the Atlantic, in the comments:

"If Obama’s skin was any thinner, he’d have a reservoir tip on the top of his head."
I always thought of him as a bit of a bubblehead.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


It's way early to be naming candidates, but never too early to demonstrate why conservatives are generally happier than liberals. BigFurHat, over at I Own The World suggests this pair:
No, not the lottery. The 2012 presidential election. It’s Michelle Bachmann and the conservative celebrity Janine Turner. I have the campaign all laid out. It will be called Bachmann/Turner Overdrive. And the campaign song is Takin’ Care Of Business. Boom. Instant win.
We could do worse, and if we're not careful, we probably will. Frankly this rather fanciful ticket sounds better than one headed up by either Huckabee or Romney.

Pumpkin Season

Since 2 people have tipped me to this, I guess I need to weigh in on it. Seems the Cal State U at Fullerton, which is down in Orange county, held a punkin chunkin contest for the engineering students, and one team built an air cannon.
Impressive machine for something built in a hurry with a grade at stake.
The contest was held on the football field at about the 30 yard line, with targets set up somewhere near the goal line.

When we built our first air cannon, the barrel was 40 ft long. You do the math on these things, and the preliminary results are so fantastic you tend not to believe them. The math said that at 100 psi, the pumpkin would travel about 3 miles. Since that requires supersonic muzzle velocities, and that wasn't possible with an air gun, we wrote that off completely. The compressor we had available initially was capable of only putting 18 psi into the tanks, so our first shot was (empirically) predicted to just fall lamely out of the barrel. Instead it went about a block, fortunately hitting nothing breakable.

For our second effort, we arranged for 800 feet to the fence, and another 200 or so visible beyond it. I'm pretty sure we made 2200 feet that day, again, hitting nothing breakable. After that all our testing was done out at the gun range where we had over a mile.

Looking downrange at Fullerton:
You can see the "castles" used as targets on the right. Note the scoreboard, way back there. Now visit the link, and click up picture #4, a close-up of the scoreboard.

Air cannons are a lot of fun. I'll sell you mine for $1500 and you can terrorize your neighborhood for a half-mile radius.

Thanks to Jed and AKA Angrywhiteman for the tips on this one.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Sausage and Legislation

In the past, it was relatively easy for a legislator to slip an amendment into an otherwise unrelated bill to the benefit of his constituents or himself, and have the bit slip through unnoticed. All you had to do was apportion the available legislation among the legislators so that a declaration of support for the state trash haulers didn't contain $40Bn worth of pork divided among the legislators in amounts varying by seniority.

The internet has provided the taxpayers with (dare I say) an Army of Davids in their defense. While it is certain that a very large bill might well be whooped through before anyone, or even any 10 people could plausibly read it, it is increasingly unlikely that even a 1990 pg bill can be voted on before 1000 people read 2 pages each, and report the most egregious flaws.

You gotta love it when only 2 days after the thing is dropped on selected desks, Limbaugh is reading a long list of items sure to annoy the intended victims of the thing. You knew the lawyers wouldn't get left out, and sure enough, Brietbart discovers this from page 1431-1433 of the bill:

Section 2531, entitled “Medical Liability Alternatives,” establishes an incentive program for states to adopt and implement alternatives to medical liability litigation. [But]…… a state is not eligible for the incentive payments if that state puts a law on the books that limits attorneys’ fees or imposes caps on damages.

A politician is one who never sees a constituent problem that cannot be turned into a revenue source without actually fixing the problem.

Happy Halloween

There's a problem with the festivities in Clinton, N.J. with a haunted house called Asylum of Terror.

CLINTON -- Every fall, the Red Mill Museum here hosts a haunted house. But this year’s "Asylum of Terror," has angered mental health advocates who said the theme perpetuates ugly stereotypes.
Evidently the thought of an institution full of lunatics that lacks the marble columns out front and the big gold dome on the roof, drives advocates for the deranged, crazy.

DARPA Challenge

While humming the tune to "99 Red Ballons", find 10 of them in the shortest time.

To mark the 40th anniversary of the Internet, DARPA has announced the DARPA Network Challenge, a competition that will explore the role the Internet and social networking plays in the timely communication, wide area team-building and urgent mobilization required to solve broad scope, time-critical problems.

The challenge is to be the first to submit the locations of ten moored, 8 foot, red weather balloons located at ten fixed locations in the continental United States. Balloons will be in readily accessible locations and visible from nearby roadways.

An interesting challenge, especially if you think a bit about what this will prove to DARPA. What we have here is an experiment to see if 20,000,000 geeks can find something faster than 2,000 intelligence analysts in windowless rooms with access to spy satellites. If you're interested, there's a picture of a sample balloon at the link above. I imagine that one found floating over a car dealership, apartment complex, or furniture store will probably not be the balloon you are looking for, although this suggests a great exercise in deception.

What makes this interesting to me is an effort I made a couple weeks ago to find an Iranian Nuke site located "SE of Qom, Iran". Using Google Earth, I found a suspicious looking site rather quickly, and when someone published a released picture shortly thereafter, sure enough, that was it. New construction shows up on satellite photos like a fly on a plate, and "new" means anything less than 1 or 2 years old, especially if no landscaping effort has gone along with it.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


In next years elections several interesting things will be on the ballot, not leat of which is a chance to remove several State Supreme court justices. Clear the Bench has details. Regarding voting, Heinlein said:
1987 - from To Sail Beyond the Sunset
If you are part of a society that votes, then do so. There may be no candidates and no measures you want to vote for ... but there are certain to be ones you want to vote against. In case of doubt, vote against. By this rule you will rarely go wrong. If this is too blind for your taste, consult some well-meaning fool (there is always one around) and ask his advice. Then vote the other way. This enables you to be a good citizen (if such is your wish) without spending the enormous amount of time on it that a truly intelligent exercise of franchise requires.
I summarized this to my daughter as "when in doubt, vote against all the incumbents, vote NO on all the questions, and vote NO to retain all the judges." Do this, and you will seldom regret the way you voted.

Global Warming

They're saying that we got 23" of global warming in the last 2 days, with another couple inches expected overnight.
No, I do not have a camper on my truck.
Just the snow stacks up that high.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Future of Transportation

Everybody is probably familiar with the local water works modus operendi of first telling us that there's a water shortage and asking us to use less, then telling us that water sales are down and a price increase is required.

Now the transportation bureaucracies have discovered the same trick, only with added improvements. First they tell us to use less gasoline and drive less, so we buy more efficient cars and perhaps even drive less. Then they tell us that revenue from the gasoline taxes are coming up short, and more money is needed, so the price of a registration is doubled, and maybe the gas tax is squeezed up a bit. Problem with this is that people notice this sort of thing, and sometimes remember who was in office when it happened.

The new solution, proposed in England, and now in D.C. is to fit everyones vehicle with a GPS unit, and tax the drivers by the mile. As an added bonus, there is now a complete record of everywhere you went, and when, stored in your car.
"Vehicles would be fitted with a GPS transponder device similar to an E-ZPass, perhaps as part of the registration process," Orr and Rivlin explained. "This device would record the type of vehicle, the distance traveled, and the time and location of travel."

Despite the privacy issues, DC officials insist that tolling is necessary for making up for the shortfall in gasoline tax revenues. The proposed mileage tax would solve this problem by increasing motorist taxation levels by a factor of ten. The additional revenue would be diverted to spending on buses and rail service.

Somehow this information is downloaded to a government bureau somewhere where it is securely (!) stored, and the data is crunched into a bill you get for using the roads. No word on what happens to the data afterword, but some interesting scenarios come to mind:

1. Postcards come in the mail; Dear Mr. Smith: We see your 2007 Toyota Camry is approaching its 30,000 mile service date. We at Fonebone Motors would be happy to perform this service at a reasonable price...

2. You sell your car. Notification must come quickly otherwise the buyer would be well advised to buy after 5 PM Friday in order to charge the 2000 mile trip to the coast to you before the bureaucrats can get back to work on Monday and note the change of ownership into the computer.

The possibilities are just endless. Glenn suggests tar and feathers.

The Workshop

This time it's a couple of suggestions. Why does no-one...

1. Put a bolt head on gas-powered stuff that can be engaged by a socket wrench in a cordless drill. Engage the bolt, push down to engage to the motor, and pull the trigger on your drill to start the gas-powered thingy. A rubber friction wheel would provide all the connection you need, and would disengage when the engine started. Voila! an affordable electric starter for mowers or snow blowers or whatever.

2. A nozzle for the can of engine starter fluid that wouldn't snap off when you drop the can from your wet, icy hands. Not that anyone needs engine starting fluid in the winter, say for use on a recalcitant snow blower or something.


Never let it be said that I'm unwilling to admit it when I make a mistake. Hell, it happens so seldom, I'm mildly surprised they don't declare a national holiday when it happens. Anyway in the piece I wrote a few days ago regarding a proposed new gun law, I mentioned a proposed tax on the unarmed in Vermont.

It seems the phenomenon of "too good to check" can affect almost anybody, as Jeff Soyer, of Vermont points out.

Fred Maslack did, in fact, while a State Representative, introduce such a bill — in 2000. This was during the run up to the vote to allow civil unions and Maslack wanted to be sure residents of Vermont understood the state’s Constitution. Although a Republican, Maslack was, like most Vermont elected officials, that quirky combination of libertarian values. He also supported a bill in 1996 to legalize medical marijuana.

Anyway, he is no longer serving in the State House.

Thus the story falls into the same category as anything you hear about SB-2099, which was also introduced around 2001, and died in committee. Google is your friend.

Respecting Their Rights

The UN is carping about the use by the US of UAVs to target specific people, saying that this looks too much like organized assassination, you know like the use of a suicide bomber to kill Ms. Bhutto, or renegade soldiers to kill Anwar Sadat.

Philip Alston said that unless the Obama administration explains the legal basis for targeting particular individuals and the measures it is taking to comply with international humanitarian law which prohibits arbitrary executions, “it will increasingly be perceived as carrying out indiscriminate killings in violation of international law.”

Alston, the U.N. Human Rights Council’s investigator on extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions, raised the issue of U.S. Predator drones in a report to the General Assembly’s human rights committee and at a news conference afterwards, saying he has become increasingly concerned at the dramatic increase in their use, especially in Afghanistan and Pakistan, since June.

Bummer, dude.

The simple and obvious solution is to make sure that the people targeted by the Hellfire missiles, increasingly Al-Q and Talib leaders, are fully informed of their rights first. This is easily accomplished by printing the famous admonition
You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.
on the nose of every Hellfire missile in current use. Of course, this will need to be translated into Arabic, Farsi, and 3 or 4 of the local dialects in use along the Afghan-Pakistan border.