Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Daily Grind

Local TV channel 7 has posted a list of the 10 most dangerous places to drive in Denver:
The following is a list of the top 10 accident locations in Denver in 2009 according Denver police.
  • I-25 at I-70 -- 195 crashes
  • I-25 at Alameda Avenue -- 192 crashes
  • I-25 at 6th Avenue -- 177 crashes
  • I-25 at 20th Avenue -- 176 crashes
  • I-25 at Santa Fe Drive -- 128 crashes
  • I-70 at Quebec Street -- 118 crashes
  • I-25 at Colfax Avenue -- 105 crashes
  • I-25 at Hampden Avenue -- 93 crashes
  • I-70 at Peoria Street -- 88 crashes
  • I-70 at Quebec Street -- 84 crashes
This is per the Denver police, and I know it doesn't include a couple of places I know about just outside of Denver, notably I25 just north of town and I-25 just south of town and at Monument Hill.

Ignoring that, my daily commute takes me through locations 1 through 5 as well as #7. Both ways.

Oh well, a life unrisked, they say, is not worth living, so absent a straight razor to shave with, I drive to work on the municipal deathtraps, on a motorcycle. Uphill. Both ways. Barefoot. In the snow.

O.K. that last part may be stretching it a bit. #7 is under construction. I'd think that CDOT would post pretty pictures showing the smoothly flowing traffic that's sure to follow completion, but right now I'm going with a new football stadium and parking garage going up there.

#5 is under construction as well. It looks like the XL pipeline, carrying crude from Canada to Houston will be routed under the center median of I-25 at some point.

The European Debt Crisis

People in expensive suits have been traveling to expensive resorts to stand in front of expensive cameras and assure us that everything's under control and not to worry.

Other people, is more modest suits, have been opining from their workplaces that this is nonsense and that the whole house of cards will be coming down pretty shortly now.

The gist of the problem is that governments have been spending money they don't have and now find themselves in the position of being unable to pay it back. We peasants understand that this usually means that someone is going to lose a lot of money and as things roll down hill, we are likely to find ourselves near the bottom.

Here's an animation that seems to sum things up nicely:

The remaining question is what to do about this if only to avoid being at the bottom of the rubble heap when the dust settles.

H/T to Perry at Samizdata for this one.

Political Debate

Here's the Quote Of The Campaign, so far anyway:
At a million-dollar San Francisco fundraiser today, President Obama warned his recession-battered supporters that if he loses the 2012 election it could herald a new, painful era of self-reliance in America. - ABC News
So there's your choice, America; Four more years of the messiah-in-chief, or self reliance. What'll it be?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Local Issues, Prop 103

In the off-year elections coming up there is a big tax increase called Prop 103. The proponents assure us the money will go to education to keep the teachers and diversity administrators employed.

University profs are salivating at the thought of big bonuses in the face of 8.2% unemployment.

The revenues will go into the general fund where the legislature will earmark the extra revenue for education. I have no doubt that education will be served with this measure.

Vote for it. You'll learn.

Guns and Crime

Here is the results of a survey asking residents all across the country if they currently have a gun in, on, or about the premises, including your car. Now before you rush over to see how your state compares to the rest of the country, ask yourself, where would I be most likely to get shot? Now don't just think of the Michigan upper peninsula during deer season, think on average, all year round.

Now go look.

In general, it looks as though the harder the state government makes it to own a gun, the fewer people actually do. Now imagine you've gotten a phone call:

"Hi, I'm from the Nosy Survey Company. Do you have any guns around your house?"

You answer:"......"

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Or how transparently you can run a cover-up.

The DOJ has proposed new federal regs, which don't require Congressional approval, which would allow beleaguered Federal agencies to respond to FOIA requests for documents by denying that the documents exist. Doesn't exactly inspire confidence, does it? But wait, there's more!

The doctrine apparently extends to even live people whom the phone answerers can describe as being in Iraq, or possibly on the moon. I suppose this is how the witless protection program works in Washington.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

More Gun Control

One of my favorite observations is that the oldest gun control law in the U.S. came from Virginia Colony in 1644 and stated that "No person of color shall appear in public armed, even with a club."

Now in the course of tracking down my own ancestors I find one described as a Burgess from Henrico and Charles City, a justice from Charles City, a captain of militia, and a sheriff. Oh yes, and owner of an 850 acre tobacco plantation, all in Virginia colony.

All this in the time period from 1633 to about 1663. I'm almost afraid to dig any further lest I find out he wrote the damn thing. OTOH, the morality of owning slaves notwithstanding, the instinct for self-preservation is a strong one.


Visited MileHiCon last weekend where I saw the Critter Crunch, a contest of fighting robots. You remember the TV shows about that a few years back? They're gone, but the art goes on.

By now I've seen at least 3 levels of fully autonomous fighting 'bots entered, with each generation getting a bit better than the one before. Terminator 1.0 is long obsolete, and the current crop are at Terminator 1.5. Sure they have a long way to go yet, but remember that technological progress is frequently exponential. The military's current crop of drones are not so much autonomous as they are teleoperated from a base in Nevada.

How long before the deployment of the Bolo Mk 1?

Gun Control

It seems that support for gun control is at an all-time low in the U.S. This does not prevent certain people from engaging in some wishful thinking:
This finding is confirmed by other recent polling that shows that Americans support measures to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals. According to one poll, 89 percent of respondents support requiring all gun buyers to pass a background check at gun shows, 94 percent support requiring gun owners to alert police if their guns are lost or stolen, and 69 percent support requiring those buying ammunition to pass a criminal background check. Another poll showed 86 percent of respondents supported background checks for every gun buyer
"Other recent polling" appears to have been done around the water cooler at the Brady H.Q.

How would you like to pay $10 for a Brady Check before buying a $12 box of ammo? I think this would make bulk purchases vastly more popular. Of course if you buy 1000 rounds of pistol ammo you run the risk of being identified as a terrorist, even after the background check.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Future of Energy

The EPA has announced that since the country is now getting significant amounts of gas and oil from fracking, that it will soon have in place a complete set of rules and regulations to control the practice.

What do you bet this will amount to a moratorium on the practice?

After all, every barrel of oil we produce and every cubic foot of natural gas is one less ray of sunshine or one less puff of hot air dedicated to making this country as Green as say, North Korea.

It's also one less barrel of oil that Saudi Arabia will be able to sell us.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Energy and Environment

First off, we now hear that cellulosic ethanol is about to hit the market. Oh goody! this means that the additive that reduces your fuel economy and adds to pollution via enhanced evaporation and increased consumption will now be less likely to be made from stuff you would otherwise eat. This should bring down the price of food.

Good thing. You'll need that money to give to the government:
As Poet exec Greg Hartgraves points out, production of cellulosic ethanol is expensive and that means those floodgates need to be helped open with federal monies. Without an energy policy mandating its production, U.S. firms are likely to shy away from the cellulosic biofuel, he said.
But with sufficient financial incentives, the race is on.

If you turn away from motor fuel, which is what ethanol is, we get into the even greener pastures of photovoltaic solar energy. The good news is that manufacturing techniques are getting better and better, enabling those with a supply of the (very) rare earth materials required to partly offset the cost of the underlying product.

The bad news is that most of the mines producing rare earths are in China, and believe me they haven't heard of the EPA there. Of course if your miners all die by age 40, the up side is that there are more where they came from and with their self-induced shortage of women, reducing the supply of men just makes sense.

Absent any progress in the field of converting unicorn farts into limitless energy, it now appears that "energy efficiency" is simply political doublespeak for shutting down your economy. The less industry you have, the less energy you use all around.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Day At The Range

It's always nice when you can spent the whole day at the range with no particular pressure on yourself. Start at 8:30 to help with setup, 9:30 to 2 PM, 4 stages of an IDPA shoot, 2-3, one stage of a carbine side match, in which the Hi Point performed flawlessly, knockdown, set up for an e-postal match, shoot 4 targets, and roll on out at 4 PM, leaving with more brass than I arrived with.

Life is good.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Important Advice

Kevin Williamson at NRO has some advice for the upcoming (ongoing) election. It's not exhaustive by any stretch, but it's a good start:

1. There is no austerity.

Austerity means a program is growing at 5% instead of 6% annually. Anything less than 5% growth is "draconian slashing".

2. There was no deregulation.

The last piece of genuine deregulation I saw was the demise of the "fairness doctrine" at the FCC.

3. You can’t trust Republicans on spending.

Or pretty much anyone else for that matter.

Seven more items at the link. Check 'em out.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Happy Birthday

To Jeff who is 9.

That's in blog years. In human years, that's about 63.


It becomes clearer to we ignorant masses when our betters explain things to us using short words in short sentences:

"It's very clear that private-sector jobs have been doing just fine; it's the public-sector jobs where we've lost huge numbers, and that's what this legislation is all about,"
Harry Reid
Now it's clear. If not for the evil Republicans, all those holders of degrees in gay black feminist history who are Occupying Wall Street would be holding jobs with the government administering the opportunities of unborn whales to receive grants to sell solar powered machine guns to Mexican drug traffickers.


Found at Forbes in an article on foot-dragging by the lower courts on gun control issues:
The Gun Control Act of 1968 was “passed not to control guns, but to control Blacks, and inasmuch as a majority of congress did not want to do the former but were ashamed to show that their goal was the latter, the result was that they did neither.
Robert Sherrill in his book The Saturday Night Special (1972)

Indeed, the earliest weapons control law I ever found in this country was from Virginia colony in 1644 which declared that "No person of color shall appear in public armed, even with a club."

It's not about guns, it's about control.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


OWS is quite a movement I must admit. Beginning in New York for a few hundred dollars a week per person, and spreading across the country with union help, vaguely connected to dying socialist movements in Greece and other European countries.

Some have even tried to connect it to the Arab uprisings in North Africa, after all they all seem to hate Jews, right?

Nice crisis someone manufactured there. Be a shame if anything happened to it. Just don't let it go to waste now, hear?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Ethanol Follies

It has been announced that we've passed a milestone in the field of energy production in that more U.S. grown corn is now burned in our gas tanks than is fed to animals. The breakdown is approximately this:
20% - fed directly to humans. Corn flakes, Corn bread, sweeteners in everything.
39.8% fed to animals - Beef, Pork, Chicken
40.2% burned in cars as an additive to gasoline. 5% less milage, increased evaporative emissions, and we send less money to countries that hate us to buy their oil. Like Canada.

We even export some of it which is like the farmers acting as brokers to exchange taxpayer subsidies to foreigners in exchange for foreign currency.

Have I mentioned that when I'm dictator, the Agriculture will be joining the Energy and Education departments on the ol' ash heap of history?

The Future of Transportation, Electrics

We've come a long way, baby. Back in 1896 the Roberts Electric could get you from here to there in silent luxury as long as there was no more than 40 miles away, 20 if you planned on coming back. It also occurs to me that in 1896, finding an outlet to plug the thing into was also a bit of an iffy proposition.

Today you get headlights, tail lights, a radio, a heater, wipers, horn, 360 degree airbags, and some 1500 lb of federally mandated crash protection and a range of.....40 miles. Optional is a gasoline motor that runs a generator that will keep your Chevy Volt moving as long as you can find gasoline.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Who's Paying The Protesters

Remember way back when ACORN was caught repeatedly fomenting vote fraud? Several of their people went to jail, and the congress voted to cut off their funding. Funding, you ask? Yes, we can, since they're a community activist group, but not with a big scandal surrounding them.

ACORN is an umbrella group with many sub-groups under the acorn hat. This makes it easier to deny collusion when one group is caught doing something illegal. In this case, it was the umbrella organization that got caught, so it "disbanded" into its various subsets, and continued on its way. Federal money now flows in smaller amounts to the subsidiaries.
The one on the upper right, the Working Families Party, is running ads on Craigslist for protesters at $22/hr.

OWS: Your tax dollars at work.

Your First Car

Found this meme over at Robb Allens, and what the heck:
1. What was your first car? Model, year, color, condition?
2. What adventures did you have in it, good or bad?
3. What happened to it, what's the end of the story?

My first car was a 57 Renault Dauphene.
Like this one only black. I got it for $50 because it needed a head gasket, and by forging my mothers signature on the papers. Mom was, shall we say, less than amused. The repair work was easy for me, I believe it took about half a day to fix. What I should have done was sell it and move on to something bigger and more profitable. But no.

Since I couldn't put it on the street legally, I decided it might make a nice autocrosser, but why run H production when with a bit of work you can run H Modified? So I did a bit of work on it:
Minor stuff like flipping the tranny upside down and mounting the motor midships. This leaves about 3 inches ground clearance, but that's a plus. It worked, but not as well as I'd hoped and it wound up getting passed on to a friend who planned to put the drive train onto a go-kart. I understand he had less success than I did.

The dapper fellow sitting on the coachwork is my younger brother.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Gettum Young

No, not the founder of the religious cult, but here.

And before I start getting flak about being religiously intolerant, here's my definition of a cult, based on observation of other peoples definitions:

A cult is any religion that is younger or smaller than yours.

Leaves lots of room, no?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Political Humor

The Egyptian military, who are standing in for a real government until one they like can be elected, have announced a ban on religious slogans in the upcoming elections.

The Muslim Brotherhood, who is looking to take over the country after the elections, is protesting that disallowing their slogan, "Kill the Christians, Kill the Jews, vote for us or we'll kill you!" will cut into their expected support.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Drinking And Driving

I'm not sure this is really legal in Colorado but having a designated driver is a plus, and having a sober bartender has to count for something.

Are there seat belts for the customers or do you just lose your seat when you fall off the stool? More here.

Thanks to Robert for this one.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Political Humor

The problem with political jokes, it's said, is that they all too often get elected. This one recently showed up in my mail box, and yes, it's funny, but alas, pretty much completely made up.
The guest of honor here is, apparently one Tom "Black Jack" Ketchum, who is shown here being retired from his career as a train robber.

The accompanying text that goes with the picture describes him as a long-lost great uncle of some prominent politician:
"'Remus (insert name here), horse thief, sent to (Insert State) Territorial Prison 1885, escaped 1887, robbed the (Name of Railroad) six times. Caught by Pinkerton detectives, convicted and hanged in 1889."
It's a great story, and the fellow pictured actually did rob trains. The rest of the gag goes that the sitting politician to whom this fellow is supposedly related to is aware of the black sheep, and will acknowledge him with a cleaned up biography that looks like this:
"Remus (insert pols name) was a famous cowboy in the (Insert state) Territory . His business empire grew to include acquisition of valuable equestrian assets and intimate dealings with the (insert railroad) railroad. Beginning in 1883, he devoted several years of his life to government service, finally taking leave to resume his dealings with the railroad. In 1887, he was a key player in a vital investigation run by the renowned Pinkerton Detective Agency. In 1889, Remus passed away during an important civic function held in his honor when the platform upon which he was standing collapsed."
The picture and text may be adapted to any sitting pol or person of importance, or even yourself if you find your own ancestry to be rather more humdrum than you'd wish. The version I got attributed this to an uncle of Harry Reid, but it's been done for the Bushes and the Gores.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

It's National CB Radio Day

And that's a big 10-4, over.

Sorry, I couldn't resist.

The Future of Transportation, Interplanetary

How cool is this? Here's a microbe that eats pee and craps rocket fuel. Hydrazine, to be specific.

Makes you want to run right out to the Mad Scientists Supply store, buy a bunch of petri dishes, and get right to work re-arranging them genetically to produce something the size of a cow with this kind of talent. You thought regular cow farts were bad? Trust me, you don't want to be anywhere near these babies.

If nothing else, it seems like the basis for a good B movie.

If You're Catching Flak...

You must be over the target, say the bomber pilots. So here's CBS news catching flak from the White House over their coverage of the Fast and Furious gun running scandal.
They will tell you that I'm the only reporter--as they told me--that is not reasonable. They say the Washington Post is reasonable, the LA Times is reasonable, the New York Times is reasonable, I'm the only one who thinks this is a story, and they think I'm unfair and biased by pursuing it.
Being fair and reasonable evidently means ignoring a government agency passing arms to a criminal enterprise in a foreign country.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


As a result of a generous and benign U.S. agricultural assistance program to Yemen, Mr Al-Awlaki and three of his close personal friends are now improving the fertility of the land in Yemen.

Somehow, the ACLU has their panties in a knot over this. To them I say: Don't worry, mon, be happy mon, Mr Al-Awlaki's absentee ballot will be mailed to his American mosque as always, and filled out according to his wishes by his stay-home associates, just like always. The party will not lose a single vote.

Playing Chicken

Here's the latest in fast food in China:
Yup, Obama Fried Chicken. Presumably made with local chickens as there's a 50-100% tariff on U.S. chicken there. Have no fear, there are branches in Brooklyn and Harlem.

Secret herbs and spices? Hah! You'll have to eat it to find out what's in it.

Supercommittee 2

I'd brag about how well I can call them, but this was too much like shooting fish in a barrel. Crippled fish, in a small barrel, with a grenade launcher at that.

Seems the members of the supercommittee are getting oodles of attention from lobbyists to the point that probably none of them will have to worry about the next election. Some people are complaining about this and rightly so, but it's the most natural thing in the world under crony capitalism.

The pols pass laws to "encourage" business to act in ways that are contrary to what would ordinarily be their best interests. In the case of financial institutions, making loans with a low chance of getting paid back, to people the pols are trying to curry favor with. They get the banks to engage in what would otherwise be suicidal behavior by offering to buy the bad loans from them, thus shielding the banks. The taxpayer assumes the risk, and gets to make up the losses, and the banks become the scapegoats for the losses, giving the hippies something to protest over.

Absent the government incentives, none of this would be happening. If your bank goes this route, however, threatening to remove the incentives would be a shock to the operational model which the bank directors don't want to see. Fair enough, bank directors, or for that matter any managers don't like to see big changes. Predictability makes their job easier and reduces their Maalox consumption.

As long as the media is willing to ignore this, it goes on and gets bigger, although nine-figure grants to companies with party fundraisers on the boards, who take the money, pass a percentage to the pols, then either go broke or move to China may prove the straw that breaks the camels back.

One could almost wonder if, post 2013, several high-ranking pols don't find themselves retired with their primary income source from being a director with an otherwise defunct solar panel company headquartered in the Cayman Islands.