Thursday, March 31, 2016

Don't Know Much About Government

I like to think I know more than the average bear, but that clears a rather low bar. Here's an article from George Korda bemoaning the fact:
There’s a problem when American citizens are asked such questions as who was the first president of the United States, who won the Civil War, or are asked to describe ISIS; and the answers come back along the lines of Abraham Roosevelt, the French, and a British rock group.
Americans’ obliviousness of their governmental institutions and their country’s past runs deep, as illustrated by a survey conducted by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. It was unveiled in Sept. 2014 with a news release titled "Americans know surprisingly little about their government, survey finds.
Part of this I think comes from Americans deep-seated distrust and dislike of government in general which leads us to equate studying government to becoming an expert on say tapeworms. The problem here is that if you don't know at least a little about tapeworms, you won't know when you have a problem with them and need treatment.

The other part of the problem is that the tapeworms control the educational system and have an interest in the public knowing as little as possible about them.

The Politics Of Beer

We in Colorado have an initiative coming up this fall that will do away with a prohibition-era law allowing grocery stores to sell 3.2% (by weight) beer but not full strength beers and table wines. In its place, the corner grocery will be selling full strength beers which means the craft beers, and the table wines.

The craft beer industry opposes this as the groceries will not carry everybody's brews and the liquor stores back this since a large part of their business seems to involve craft beers and vin ordinaire for the masses.

It has been widely suggested that if the groceries begin selling this sort of stuff, they will be selling at a significant discount versus the liquor stores which would be a win for drinkers.

Groceries do not have unlimited shelf space so what would be created would be an A-list of products that would make the grocery list and a B-list of smaller volume products relegated to the liquor stores. One craft brewery has joined the open markets gang and is being blacklisted by the liquor stores.

St. Patricks Brewing Co. located in my own 'burb of Littleton has come down on the side of the free market.
 Haven't been there. May have to visit soon. The website looks like they operate similarly to Boggy Draw with beer on the inside and a food truck on the outside.

Gun Law - New Hamster

A proposed change to the concealed carry law in New Hampshire has been proposed to remove the word "suitable" from the current statute and replace it with reference to a citizens ability to pass state and federal background checks. The Dems in the legislature, predictably oppose the change. This should surprise no one who didn't sleep through American History.

In a lot of places, but most notably the post civil war south, firearms were closely regulated to keep them out of "the wrong hands". The local sheriff got to determine who was of "good character" and thus entitled to own a firearm. Oddly enough, blacks were hardly ever judged to be "suitable" for the right privilege.

The word "suitable" in the N.H. statute is thus a dog whistle, reminding all concerned of the past  and present policies of the Democratic party. Move to the back of the bus boy, and don't forget, vote Quimby.

Monday, March 28, 2016

QOTD - Culture

Getting awfully tired of it, I am, but here's one in the form of a tweet from Scott Adams that finds a welcoming home in my head:
Pundits say Trump has destroyed the Republican party. I say that’s one party down, one to go. The job is only half done.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Modern Warfare

With androids becoming more and more realistic, putting them to use on the battlefield is getting closer to reality. Here's a suggestion for dealing with the rape epidemic although this portends enough collateral damage to make it's use in Europe problematic.

I would not favor filling an expensive android with explosives but would favor setting up the internal workings to insure that the rapist would NEVER try that again. Possibly inspired by the tune “Charlotte the Harlot”. NSFW!

Update note: The original Charlotte, not the modern one.

Opportunity Knocks

Here's a story about an English prof and the Univ. of North Dakota who is such a hoplophobe that she called 911 over ROTC students drilling on campus with  rifles. The story doesn't go into enough detail to confirm that the guns in question were those replica rifles they seem to have so many of or not but given that it was ROTC, that would be the way to bet.

The police contact the University people and confirm that this is ongoing ROTC practice and has been going on for a while now but the prof is completely traumatized and promises to call 911 every day she spots this activity.

I'm thinking that the second or third time she does this she'll get at least a ticket for making a false report which should result in a stiff enough fine to slow her down. She should calm down anyway as these young men are training to be officers in the same force that she will expect to ride to her rescue when she discovers there is an active cell of the Young Republicans meeting on campus.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Getting Around - Not

Yesterday it was 70 deg.
Today not so much. Scroll down and note the snow prediction which was I believe 3-5" at last update.
Quick jaunt to the store? I measured 18" on the roof of the car.
Probably not unless you have the official Colorado State Alternative transportation:

Yeah that'll work if you can't wait til tomorrow when it's supposed to be 58 deg and sunny. Try to stock up, Friday night through Saturday evening we're supposed to get another 1-3 which given the accuracy of the last guess should come in at 9-12".

Arizona Oopsie

The hazards of being an early adopter is that you wind up with stuff like a Beta videotape recorder or some other thing that doesn't catch on. Arizona has early voting which if you do it will significantly reduce the number of nagging phone calls you get asking that you support this candidate or that one. Here's the problem:
Rubio was on the ballot when the ballots were printed, and was an early favorite in AZ but dropped out last week. That "All Others" line isn't about 200 unknowns pulling down 5,000 votes each, it's mostly early votes for Rubio which now don't count except to make Trump look better.

AZ is a winner take all state so the result may well have been no different with Rubio listed as a candidate still this points out the problem inherent to 3-way races in that the least popular candidate is frequently the winner.

Smart Gun Technology In Belgium?

At the Brussels airport, terrorists wheeled in 3 bombs, but only 2 went off. Now look at this picture:
It has been speculated that the black gloves worn on the left hands of the 2 fellows on the left contained the detonators for the bombs. The man on the right is reportedly the master bomb maker, but seems to have forgotten his glove. This is nothing less than smart gun technology in action. You need your gun and Zut alors! you took off the bracelet/ring/glove required to make it work and now you can't find it.

His fallback strategy was to leave his bomb at the airport and take a taxi home where he was later arrested.

Springtime In The Rockies

March is usually our snowiest month and since we didn't get much the first half, Mother Nature is making up for the lost time:
The middle school robotics class is cancelled as most of the area schools not on spring break are closed so I get to fix another pot of coffee and consider the upcoming week. The weather page is optimized for IE so the text gets over run in Firefox but we're supposed to get 5-8 today and I'm seeing 3 or 4" of heavy wet slushee already. The next hit set for Saturday is currently pegged at 1-3 which is what todays dump was when it was 3 days out. Next week is another 5-8. with one more just peeking around the corner.

Did I mention that the fruit trees are just beginning to bloom? The power is showing occasional very short flickers so I'd best hit publish before the place goes dark.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

QOTD - Election Speeches

 Bill Clinton recently remarked on the " the awful legacy of the last eight years behind us" making people wonder if Bill is really trying to get Hill elected or not. James Taranto of the WSJ has a theory:
Our favorite theory, though, is that he has continued to lead, shall we say, a complicated private life, and would rather not return to the White House lest it come under scrutiny again. That would also explain why he looks so tired of late.

Monday, March 21, 2016

SCOTUS Upholds Heller 8-0

I never thought I'd see that kind on unanimity from the current court, but there you are. The case at issue was from Massachusetts and ruled that a stun gun was a "dangerous and unusual weapon not in general use at the time of writing of the second amendment".

Scotus seemed to think that "in general use" meant "currently in general use" and overturned the conviction. Score one for the good guys.D'wife commented that if she were dealing with a "violent and abusive" person, a stun gun would be low on her list of choices, but we're talking about Massachusetts here where a criminals life is more valuable than yours.

Friday, March 18, 2016

People Like Smart Guns? -Suspicions Confirmed

You've heard the survey cited over and over, that most people would be interested in buying a smart gun if they were only available. In fact the survey I found says 59% although I've heard politicians call it as high as 95%. Did the little bullshit alarms go off in your head when you heard this? Good, you're right.

Here's a story that even cites the methodology used to generate that 59% number. Money quote:
Non-owners of guns and people identifying as "liberal" were most likely to consider buying smart guns, while owners of multiple guns were least likely.
(A) 2013 study funded by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a gun makers trade association, showed only 14 percent of people would consider smart guns.
In other words, people who know nothing about guns and would probably never consider buying one, would consider buying a smart gun if they had to buy one at all. Meantime, people who own and shoot guns want nothing to do with them. I'm sure the other surveys were conducted in a similar manner and while a survey of 400 people conducted on the 8th floor of the New York Times building shows a large percentage in favor of smart guns, I doubt that number would hold up if the survey were conducted say at a gun show.

H/T to Page Nine for the link.

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Red Light cameras don't just benefit the town in which they're installed and the vendor, American Traffic Solutions, now it appears anyone can take advantage of their presence to redistribute your wealth.

Remember when you are asked to send in your "fine" that your fair village probably does NOT have a traffic fines account with a bank in Nigeria.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Banning Businesses - What Could Go Wrong?

Colorado business journal is reporting that the greenies will be collecting signatures to put a constitutional amendment on the Colorado ballot this fall that would allow any municipality in the state to ban any business it doesn't like for any reason at all or no reason whatever. The stated reason for this is to allow towns to unilaterally ban oil and gas exploration without having to pay landowners for the lost income. Here's the text:
“Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning a right to local self-government, and, in connection therewith, declaring that the people have an inherent right to local self-government in counties and municipalities, including the power to enact laws to establish, protect, and secure rights of natural persons, communities, and nature, as well as the power to define or eliminate the rights and powers of corporations or business entities to prevent them from interfering with those rights; and exempting such local laws from preemption or nullification by any federal, state, or international law if the local laws do not restrict fundamental rights or weaken legal protections for natural persons, their local communities, or nature?”
Under the greenies stated purpose, this violates the 5th amendment to the U.S. constitution if the municipalities don't pony up a plausible mount to compensate landowners for lost mineral rights. Of course if compensation is offered, the amount is subject to litigation with neither side able to definitively say how much oil and gas might be recoverable and at what retail price. Welfare for tort lawyers for sure.

Moving beyond this narrow focus, it allows any municipality anywhere to ban any business of any sort for any reason or none at all. Any business the city council or county commission decides it doesn't approve of can be summarily banned. Ban gun stores in Boulder county? Sure! Ranges of any type at all? Absolutely! Wal-Mart? Yup! keeps the riff raff out of the area if they can't afford to shop here. Adult toy stores? Gone without even needing to invoke scripture.

One supposes that the Budweiser folks up near Ft Collins could start a campaign to pressure the city council in Golden to ban any business with over 1000 employees that lacks union representation for the employees. For you out-of-staters, this rather narrowly defines the Coors brewery. It would also make it possible for a town or a county to ban charter schools.

Funding to get this on the ballot and get it passed will come from out of state, notably Tom Styer and George Soros, probably others, and largely filtered through the usual front groups. So who is going to fund the informational commercials against this?

What we need is a constitutional amendment calling for all ballot questions to have 3 options available to the voters; Yes, No, and Hell No. Should the third option win, the sponsors and principal supporters of the failing question will be subject to tarring and feathering. Stupidity should be painful.

Death to P.C.

If the Lord had not meant us to tell ethnic jokes, then why did he divide all of humanity into so many ethnic subdivisions, each one sillier than the next?

Here's Bruce Tinsley's observation:
Yes, indeed and on Cinco de Mayo, Todo lo que necesito es un gran sombrero, pantalón y camisa blancos , sandalias y un burrito. If you've lived in the southwest longer than a few years, you should have no trouble with that last line.My 3rd language is Spanglish.. Cinco in Denver is a zoo even bigger than St. Patricks day and travel on Federal boulevard between Colfax and I-70 is pretty much impossible.

For May 1st, I suggest a Che t-shirt, ragged jeans a Bernie button and a big joint. Dressing up during Black History Month as any of the more colorful (!) stereotypes available is not recommended as they are pretty proprietary about that although curling your hair and announcing to anyone who will listen that you identify as black might get you a high profile job in the grievance biz.

Oddly enough you hardly ever see the Crackers wearing conical hats for Chinese New Year or a kippah for the Jewish one. Middle eastern holidays don't lend them selves to parody by excess. You're not allowed to drink, and after you've blown yourself up once, what do you do for an encore next year?

Columbus Day is for Italians although around here the Native American Grievance Committee has been working very hard to throw cold water on it. Still, you get to march in the parade and drink Chianti and mama mia! those Italians sure know how to cook. The NAGC has been less successful back east where the Italian communities have mastered the art of persuasion:"Nice tipi you got there, Tonto. Be a shame if anything were to happen to it."

I like everyone and this morning for breakfast I had Haggis with hash browns topped with Swiss cheese and a dollop of Cholula sauce rolled into a tortilla for an international breakfast burrito accompanied by a cup or 3 of Colombian coffee.

I blame this post on the coffee.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Gun Law - Ireland

Found here at TTAG:
According to Irish law requires that a citizen must have “A good reason for wanting a firearm. Hunting and target shooting qualify as do certain other activities like humane dispatch of large animals. Personal protection does not qualify as a good reason.”

Emphasis mine.
Always good to know exactly where on the food chain you actually are. Somehow I find "Below the chickens" to be less than satisfactory. I seem to remember that in some New England states personal protection is also NOT a valid reason for wanting a firearm.

Shooting Season

Yes, I know that's all year round but for me anyway it really kicks off when the IDPA matches resume, shortly after the glaciers retreat from the ranges. This one was a classifier, which is about the least interesting match format there is. The good news is that I'm not worried about my classification status so I'm just there to have fun. That and try out my new exalted (?) status of Safety Officer. I'm proud to say that I Did All Right. Even if I seemed to have miscounted the number of rounds in one of my mags at one point, forcing a reload where none was expected. I sure didn't expect it.

A number of folks were there from the Arvada Rifle and Pistol club, some to practice being SO's and some just to see what it's all about. Tuesday we'll be trying a mini-match indoors at ARPC to demonstrate indoor stage setup and show the Directors that we won't actually be shooting the place up by shooting from holsters.

"Nothing is more difficult that instituting a new order of things."
                                                   Niccolo Machiavelli

Bernies Bolshies

The disruption at the Trump Chicago rally by the supporters of Bernie Sanders showcases the sort of think not seen since the Bolsheviks stormed the Winter Palace or the Brownshirts attempted the Beer Hall Putsch. Having succeeded is suppressing political speech, they can now be held up as the poster children for the Democratic Party by Trump or anyone else on the right as a warning as to what you get if a Democrat is elected.

Bernies Bolshies or Bernies Brownshirts, take your pick, I'm sure they will be available to whomever gets the D party nomination to key cars, disrupt assemblies and the like. Bomb throwing at slight extra charge.


Here's a piece on the development of sexbots and some of the implications of them becoming generally available. What it boils down to is that for men, you had us at the word "sex". For women the attraction is more nuanced. Notwithstanding that some 80% of the toys in the neighborhood sex shop are tailored for women, women are less approving of keeping Commander Data in the closet for those lonely nights.

Suggestion: To penetrate the women's market*, a new male form sexbot will need to be able, in addition to the basic stuff, to take out the trash, run the vacuum, and wash her car. "I bought it for the house cleaning" will be the female equivalent to "I only subscribe to read the articles".

*So to speak.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Burning Chrome

This was originally the title of a short story by William Gibson that told the tale of a daring hacker and a very successful (wealthy) nightclub chain called Chrome. The hacker discovered that the clubs security wasn't as good as they thought and set about transferring the clubs entire monetary assets to Parts Unknown. It cost him as I remember, 20% off the top, but hiring the services of a really big reputable bank doesn't come cheap.

That story was written in 1982. Today it seems, someone, suspected to be Chinese, hacked into the N.Y. Fed and transferred some $100M from the national account of Bangladesh to Parts Mostly Unknown.

This might be an individual effort which would net someone enough in multiple accounts worldwide to get airline tickets out of China, multiple new passports, multiple additional airline tickets, and a comfortable retirement in one of the better suburbs of Parts Unknown.

This might also be a test run on the part of the Chinese government to see how hard it might be to electronically bankrupt a bothersome foreign government. Then again it might be an inside job, some drone in the Bangladeshi government looking to retire early on his own terms.

Bank heists usually only make the local papers but $100M is a nice haul even in N.Y. Think we'll hear about this on the evening news?

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Business Opportunity

It is indeed an ill wind that blows nobody good, and here's the first legitimate business opportunity I've seen from the field of renewable energy. Seems we've built acres and acres of windmills all over the country at costs they are unable to repay over their rather limited lifespans. Now we have an ever growing forest of "old growth" windmills standing there motionless. So what to do?

The pedestals seem to be the most durable parts so there's the possibility of replacing the expensive blades and generators with newer stuff. Even with the discount for not having to build, erect, and connect to the grid, I have my doubts. If this was a viable option, you'd think you'd see work crews out there replacing the Yuppie prayer wheels with new ones, but evidently not.

So how about a windjack* company? Here's a crew that for a modest sum will go out to your non-producing wind farm, topple the non-producing towers, and recycle the aluminum and copper scrap. Removing the concrete pediments would be an option as concrete, while it does recycle, has limited uses and the farms are typically a long ways from any real demand.

Watching the towers topple and the pediments being blown up out of the ground might be a nice rubbernecker draw for a while. A big sign declaring "Your tax dollars at work" would be frosting on the cake.

*Sort of like a lumberjack company.

Look On The Bright Side Of Life

As the tune goes. The worst president in the history of the country has disapproval ratings in the 40-50% range depending on the day of the week, and the two front running candidates to replace him have disapproval ratings higher than that. Aren't we supposed to be replacing him with someone we like better?

Still, it's not all bad. Here's an example I found at Politics and Finance for how some parts of this might work out after all:
An electoral Easter egg although historically one should not bet heavily on liberals keeping any promises to leave the country if a Republican wins.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Politics As Usual

Monday afternoon, all the Senate gun bills will be publicly put to death in the House Veterans Affairs Committee (Kill Committee). This will include a repeal of the magazine ban and a bill for constitutional carry. Still, if you have the time I'd like to invite you to come down to the State Capitol on Monday, March 7th, and join us for the 1:45 hearing in Room 271.

Really, someone needs to take up the cause of rapists, muggers, burglars, and new-high-score wannabes. It's bad enough they run the risk of meeting a CCW in the course of their work without the added risk of the intended victim having enough ammo to compensate for the possibility of multiple assailants or an excess of adrenaline. The high score competitors have it good in that their targets, including schools, are designated target rich environments gun free zones. Allowing CCW holders to carry in schools puts the high score competitors at risk of getting stymied at or near the front door.

Someone please bring a balaclava and come on down to the capitol to plead the case for these endangered souls.

40% chance of rain on Monday, so what else you got to do? Best way to get there is by bus as there is little or no parking within a mile or so of the capitol. Getting in is much like getting to your airline boarding gate so don't bring small pocket knives or nail clippers. Unless you are a lawmaker, the capitol is a gun free zone, just like your kids school except it has multiple armed guards at every entrance.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Protecting Birds From Windmills

The obvious solution would be to either make the windmills more visible, like the ones that used to dot the landscape 150 years ago. There's one along those lines located just off the I-25 freeway, just south of 6th avenue which seems to have been installed as an art project. It's highly visible, having a large number of blades, closely spaced like the intake of a jet engine, but painted a very visible white color so as to be hard to miss.
I'd be willing to guess that this rig has bagged very few birds.

This is too easy.

Overthinking the problem to a fare-the-well, folks have concluded, with the help of government monies, that the best way to prevent bird kills is to fit each 400 foot high windmill with a radar set which can detect when a large bird is flying towards it, and add software to stop the mill until the bird is safely past the device.

And you thought the availability of power from these things was spotty before.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Colorado Caucuses

Last night was Colorado Caucuses night for both parties. I can't speak for the whole state, but where I was some 15 or so precincts met and it was definitely well attended, about 5 times what we had last time. No official presidential candidate voting occurred, but unofficially it looked like a pretty even split between Cruz and Trump. The official results of the unofficial voting may or may not be released later.

On the Dem side it appears the law and order wing of the party triumphed over the Chicago Rules wing with the doctrinaire Marxist triumphing over the felon. Still Mr. Sanders' victory speaks badly of the educational system in place here. As soon as a candidate announces he or she is a socialist, the correct response is to laugh them out of the room.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

On Not Voting For Trump

Super Tuesday and caucus day here so off I go to count ballots and all. Meantime I keep seeing the media gushing about this or that pol who comes out either for or adamantly against Trump to the point that they swear they'll NEVER vote for him.

Point 1: All pols, when campaigning, try to become all things to every one and show themselves as being as individual as possible.

Point 2: All pols, once elected, fall into formation and march pretty much in lockstep to the party line.

So whether you ultimately get Trump, Cruz, or Rubio, you get the GOP party line with only minor variation. Same thing on the Dem side. Protestations that one would never vote the party candidate are a signal of self defeat. There is a Larson cartoon which now that I need it, I can't find, that shows 5 lions around a dead antelope, 4 of them eating hungrily, and the fifth one, his mane done in a ponytail, stating:"Antelope without Bearnaise sauce? I'd rather starve."

The caption observes that the yuppie variant of lion quickly became extinct. Here we have the model for the Whig party in 1852 and quite possibly the Republican party today. For myself, I favor Ted Cruz although he's #4 on my original preference list, 1 through 3 having dropped out. Trump and Rubio were never really on that list but considering the alternatives and keeping point #2 in mind, I'll pull the lever for Micky Mouse if that's who the party nominates.

Something to think about: Trump signed an agreement to support the party nominee. No one else in the party did.