Monday, May 31, 2010

This Guy Is Glad The Law Changed, I'm Sure

A backpacker in Denali National Park, Alaska, apparently took advantage of the change in federal law allowing the carrying of firearms in national parks.  From May 31, 2010 Associated Press:
ANCHORAGE, Alaska— A backpacker shot and killed a grizzly bear with his handgun in Alaska's Denali National Park, officials said.

A man and woman reported that they were hiking Friday evening when the bear emerged from trailside brush and charged the woman, park spokeswoman Kris Fister said in a statement.

The man fired nine rounds from his .45 caliber, semiautomatic pistol at the animal, which then stopped and walked into the brush.
My first reaction is, "Why are you carrying a .45 caliber pistol in grizzly bear country?  Did you want to upset the grizzly bear?"  But it apparently worked, somewhat to my surprise.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Why Everyone Needs A Tap & Die Set

If you don't know what a tap & die set is (and there are many who do not): A tap is a hardened steel tool that cuts threads in a drilled hole.  (A chart like this will tell you what size the hole should be into which you turn the tap to make various sizes of threads.)  A die is a hardened steel tool that cuts threads onto an existing stem.  The hexagonal things in this picture are dies.  While you can use a die to thread a part that has never had threads, most consumers use a die to rethread a part whose threads have been damaged.  (Usually a threaded part attached to something really, really hard to replace!)

Some years ago, my best friend gave me a Black & Decker ratcheting screwdriver set.  It was a little orange case that had a ratcheting handle into which you could insert zillions of different bits: all the different sizes of Philips bits; standard screw head bits; hexagonal bits; some that I have never seen before. 

If you didn't know that there are different sizes of screwdriver bits--well, I didn't really fully understand this, and why it mattered, until a few years ago.  You already know that some screwdriver blades are too thick to go into the screw head.  If you insist on using the wrong size bit, sometimes you accomplishing nothing; sometimes you chew up the head of the screw--and then you have drill out the screw, or use a Vise-Grip to grab hold and unscrew it.  (Brutal, ugly, and sometimes the head breaks off the screw.)

Anyway, a very nice set.  When you put the various bits into the handle, there was a spring loaded ball bearing that held the bit in place with friction.  One day several years ago, I noticed that the bits were no longer staying in the handle--just falling right out.  The ball bearing was missing--and for the life of me, I can't figure out how it could have stayed there.

I tried to buy a replacement handle--but that didn't seem to be available, and the bits were not the same dimensions as other, similar handles.  Even worse: most off them didn't have the neat ratcheting capability.  I could buy an entire replacement set (handle and bits)--but these were a bit spendy, and I would have a bunch of bits that were duplicates.

I was looking at this earlier this evening, and I noticed that the little hole in which the ball bearing had resided was .099" diameter.  This was just a bit smaller than the hole size you use with a 6-32 tap.  (The number 6-32 means a #6 sized screw, with 32 threads per inch.)  I grabbed my 6-32 tap, and tapped this hole.  Then I turned a 6-32 screw into the hole.  Friction between the screw and the bits holds the bits in place just fine, and you don't have to loosen the screw to remove the bit.  The only improvement I might make is to replace this conventional 6-32 screw with a 6-32 set screw so that there is nothing sticking out from the side.

Obese Children

Michelle Obama is concerned about the growing child obesity problem—and well she should. And of course, the government has to be part of this problem. “BMI measurement for all children” and “Improving access to healthy, affordable food, by eliminating ‘food deserts’ in urban and rural America.”

There is absolutely no question that there is a very serious child obesity problem—one that will bankrupt Obamacare (and practically any other health care system that you can imagine). But once again, today’s liberals are intent on the government solving a problem that a previous generation of liberals a generation ago unwittingly created.

Let us marvel in the first generation in the history of mankind where obesity is a problem of poverty. Throughout history, getting enough calories in your diet to even be chubby usually meant you were nobility, if not royalty. King Henry VIII went from a fit and vigorous young man to a guy who needed armor with a 54 inch waistline. If you were a peasant—even what today might be considered middle class—you worked too hard and food was too expensive for obesity to be common.

I’ve seen the change in my lifetime—and Michelle Obama acknowledges the problem is part of a “30-year trend.” When I was in elementary school, I had very few classmates who were even chubby. There was one kid out of 400 in my elementary school who would be considered fat (and probably not even obese)—and he was from Turkey. There are many causes of the increasing obesity problem, and this article focuses on one very substantial cause—but let me emphasize that it is not the only cause—just one that liberals caused.

One of the advantages kids had back then was mothers who were home, and actively involved in child rearing. Even mothers who had to work full-time (like mine) still managed to play an active role in encouraging healthy dietary habits. I was limited to one soft drink a day. Dinner included reasonable portions of meat, a starch, and vegetables—and as much as I hated overcooked vegetables, I was expected to eat them. Desserts were infrequent in our house—perhaps once a week. Nearly every other kid that I knew came from a similar home, with parents making similar efforts to encourage self-discipline and healthy eating.

Today, large numbers of elementary school kids are getting themselves ready for school without a parent. When my wife substituted at our son’s elementary school in California, kids were showing up at school with donuts for breakfast—because both parents had left the house hours earlier, expecting their kids to make their own way. After school, too many elementary school kids are returning to empty homes, and eating for comfort. I recall when my wife and I were out looking at houses one day in California, the realtor let us into one house where a fairly fat elementary school kid was sitting in front of the TV with a huge bowl of potato chips. Many unsupervised kids get in lots of trouble: early sex; smoking; alcohol. Are we surprised that bad eating habits are part of the problem?

When I was 10, most elementary school kids came home to a mother. Today, this is a surprisingly rare situation. When my wife was staying home to raise our children in the 1980s and early 1990s, she described the various neighborhoods in which we lived as ghost towns from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM—at which point the kids would come home to empty houses.

This transformation didn’t just “happen.” It was the result of a conscious decision by liberals to actively promote the idea that no woman was really “fulfilled” unless she had a full-time career—and staying home and raising kids wasn’t part of the career track. Through active propaganda campaigns and passage of laws banning sex discrimination in employment, liberals destroyed the postwar social consensus that a man would normally be the primary breadwinner.

Part of what helped destroy that postwar consensus was that there were a lot of well-educated women who wanted to be more than just mothers. Another factor was the rise of no-fault divorce, which made it much easier for guys to dump their families. Women who had been content to be homemakers now had no choice but full-time employment.

One unfortunate side effect of this dramatic increase in the number of women in the workforce was unsurprising: an increasing competition for resources. What happens to pay scales if you increase the number of workers competing for the same number of jobs? This graph shows what happened to family income for one income families, two income families, and so on, inflation adjusted. Note how one income family incomes stop growing in the early 1970s—while two income families do not. Many Moms wanted a traditional family, where they stayed home and kept the kids out of trouble (including with food). Now these traditional families were competing for housing and other resources with “modern” two wage earner families.

Especially for those with low skilled, low wage jobs before every woman working became the social goal—this was devastating. It was bad for male primary breadwinners, who often could no longer raise a family on one income. It also meant that when divorce happened (often aggravated by financial struggles), a mother joining the workforce with even less job skills than her husband was utterly impoverished. Even if child support payments came in (and often they did not), it was simply impossible to raise a family on her low skill wages—and who will supervise the eating habits of her children while she is away at work?

Some years ago, I watched a fascinating debate about feminism organized by William F. Buckley, with a surprising participant: Professor Elizabeth Fox-Genovese. Professor Fox-Genovese was a nationally recognized expert on labor history, and definitely a liberal—but she made the point that feminism for women such as herself, with graduate degrees working in high status positions, had been a major win. For the majority of women—those trying to raise kids in a trailer park with low wages and no father—it had been a major disaster. I would argue that while childhood obesity has many roots, the good deed of 1960s liberalism—the insistence that every woman with small children should be working, and her kids in daycare—is a big part of the problem.

The Most Shocking Expression of Racism I've Seen In A Long Time

RealClearPolitics has this absolutely amazing clip of liberal Bill Maher complaining that Obama isn't a a real black President--and then engages in stereotyping of black men as violent criminals.  That Bill Maher hasn't been pulled from the air by HBO shows that "racism" is just a political tool of the left; it's clearly not something that really bothers them.

UPDATE: By the way: the language is a bit raw.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Precision Machining

I am increasingly pleased with my ability to make stuff very accurately.  I received an order for some ScopeRollers for the Celestron CI-700 tripod a few days ago.  Much of the work on machining a part is the setup: putting the cutting tool in place; installing the drill chuck in the tailstock; positioning the tailstock; zeroing the handwheels.  Therefore, if you are going to make three parts, making nine identical parts isn't even twice the work. I wasn't putting any extraordinary effort into this, but because I have become fairly adept at this, I turned out nine perfectly squared cylinders that ranged from 3.599" to 3.602" in length; that's a .08% variance in length.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Hyperinflation? Or Destructive Deflation?

I can't figure out what is going to happen--but if you have been fortunate enough to sell your overpriced home on the coast and have a few hundred thousand dollars burning a hole in your pocket--heck, look what you can buy for pocket change

109 Valley View  Horseshoe Bend, ID 83629

3 Bed, 2.5 Bath | 1,230 Sq Ft on 0.06 Acres (2,613 Sq Ft Lot)
It's half of a duplex, built in 2003. The other half is also in foreclosure, for $79,900.  I drove by it after dinner; it looks pretty darn nice from the outside.  I can remember when that would have been a down payment on, literally, a ghetto house in California.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

New PajamasMedia Article Up

"Rand Paul and the Civil Rights Act of 1964"

Idaho Election Results

Raul Labrador won the Republican nomination for U.S. House seat 1.  This is good news--but it is still an uphill struggle.  The incumbent, Walt Minnick (DINO-ID), is personally very wealthy (he is a Democrat, after all) and had lots of funding from Portland and Seattle ecocrazies the last time around.  We're going to have to work to get Labrador elected.

I expected this would be the case, but Marla Lawson failed to unseat State Senator Tim Corder in my district.  She did well, however: 41.7% of the vote, which is five points better than I managed against Corder in 2008.  Perhaps because she has lived here a long time, perhaps because there is actually something of a Republican Party organization in this county now (although they seem to prefer not to have anything to do with me), perhaps because the country is moving to the right again.  Realistically, I think the only way that a liberal Republican like Corder can be defeated in the primary would be by an LDS, Elmore County resident.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Literacy Rates By State and County

I ran into this very interesting web site recently, the National Center for Education Statistics' State and County Estimates of Basic Literacy.  The next time you see someone looking down their nose at us illiterate knuckledraggers here in Flyover Country--have them take a look at this!  It measures what is defined as basic literacy (in English) of adults in every county in the U.S.  The blue states don't do so well: California, 23% lack basic literacy; New York, 22%, D.C., 19%; New Jersey, 17%.  Many of the red states are astonishingly better off: Idaho, 11%; Alaska, 9%; Kansas, 8%.

Now, some of this is probably tied to large populations of recent immigrants who can't read English.  A number of the southern border states are almost up there with the blue states: Texas, 19%; New Mexico, 16%.  But Arizona only has 13% adult illiteracy--and this was a survey from 2003, before Arizona started passing laws to punish those who employ illegal aliens.

Somewhat to my surprise, the Old South states that are commonly derided in some circles as "the Bible Belt" really aren't so bad.  North Carolina: 14%; Alabama, 15%; Mississippi, 16%.  These aren't great numbers--but they aren't California or New York, either.

You can also break these statistics out by county.  I was startled to see that Boise County (where I live) is actually better than the state as a whole: 9% for Boise County, vs. 11% for the whole state.  The real shocker is Clark County, up in the upper northeast corner near Montana, with a 37% adult illiteracy rate--although the tiny population means the 95% confidence interval is huge for that county.

If They Found Something, Why Aren't They Blowing the Whistle?

I've mentioned before that I find Obama and the DNC's willingness to spend money rather than reveal Obama's long form birth certificate really curious--more curious than the fairly weird and weak evidence that has been presented. 

One of the claims made by "birthers" is that Obama received financial aid as a foreign student--and I would not be at all surprised if checking this claim is the reason that nine people might have illegally accessed his student loan records.  From the May 25, 2010 Iowa Independent:
Nine former workers at a Department of Education contractor in Coralville who allegedly tried to access the student loan records of President Barack Obama pleaded not guilty in a federal court Monday, the Associated Press reports.

The indictments were handed up in U.S. District Court in Davenport. Authorities say that between July 26, 2007, and March 13, 2009, the defendants accessed the records while employed at Vangent Inc., which contracts to handle incoming calls for a variety of agencies, including calls on federal student aid for the U.S. Department of Education and calls regarding Medicare and Medicaid for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
If these nine people actually accessed Obama's student loan records, I would think that this was probably the reason--to see if there was any truth to such claims.  (Can you imagine anything more boring to look at than somewhat's student loan records?)  However: if there was anything in those records that suggested that Obama received student aid as a foreign student, I would expect at least one of the accused to have gone public with it by now.  Why would you get yourself fired, and get yourself in a pile of legal trouble, if you had what would have to be the single most devastating piece of news in American history, and didn't use it?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

RSS Feed Link

The link on the left column of the blog labeled "RSS Feed" was pointing to an old atom.xml file.  I have updated it, and it ought to work now.

Someone Else Is Getting Unseasonably Late Snow

Someone writes about the snowfall over the weekend, with a picture:
This is Lake Arrowhead Village at 10 AM, May 23. I have had weekend homes in the Lake Arrowhead area for 35 years. I have been planning to move up there for retirement. It is at about 5000 feet in the San Bernardino Mountains, approximately an hour and 45 minutes from my home in south Orange County. The latest I have ever seen it snow was March 18.

Charles Djou (R-HI)

Just savor the moment, of a Republican member of the House of Representatives from Hawaii.  If you don't know about Hawaii's Democratic propensity (or is it addiction?), this is akin to San Francisco electing a Republican to replace Nancy Pelosi.

I admit, it might be tough for him to win re-election in November.  Djou only received 40% of the vote, and the two Democrats split most of the rest of the vote:
The two Democrats also turned their eyes toward the party primary in September, as both vowed to continue the fight for the right to face Djou in a one-on-one vote in November.
If they had any sense, one of them would have dropped out, and the other would almost certainly have beaten Djou. But what was it Will Rogers said? "I am not a member of an organized political party. I am a Democrat."

California Home Protection Bill of Rights

In 1984, the California legislature passed the California Home Protection Bill of rights, which added California Penal Code sec. 198.5:
Any person using force intended or likely to cause death or great bodily injury within his or her residence shall be presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily injury to self, family, or a member of the household when that force is used against another person, not a member of the family or household, who unlawfully and forcibly enters or has unlawfully and forcibly entered the residence and the person using the force knew or had reason to believe that an unlawful and forcible entry occurred.

As used in this section, great bodily injury means a significant or substantial physical injury.
Effectively, if a stranger forces way into your home, the presumption is that they intend a resident great bodily injury. If you use deadly force against someone forcing entry into your home, this presumption puts you at great legal advantage if the prosecutor decides to pursue criminal charges against you.

I can remember when California passed this "castle doctrine" law.  My recollection is that the motivation for passage of this law was a case out of Los Angeles in 1982 or 1983.  A burglar forced entry into someone's home, and the woman of the house either stabbed or shot the burglar--and the district attorney prosecuted her, because she didn't have proof that the burglar intended her death or great bodily injury.

If this seems utterly bizarre: actually, it is not.  There are a lot of people out there who are so horrified by deadly force that they are prepared to make the most absurd excuses.  A co-worker, many years ago, explained that there are all sorts of perfectly innocent reasons why someone might force entry into your home.  "Maybe there's been a traffic accident, and they need medical supplies."  (Not a dummy; he's now a multimillionaire.)

Anyway, I have seen the case that caused the legislature to pass 198.5, but I can't find it now.  If you know the details, please let me know.

District 22 State Senate Republican Primary

It's jousting against windmills, but I am definitely going to vote for Marla Lawson for state senate. I couldn't unseat Tim Corder in the 2008 primary, and the same issues will doubtless prevent Lawson from doing so this time around. But we do need to remind Corder that we would like a pro-gun Republican in the seat, and not one who sounds like he should be representing the Boise North End as a Democrat.

The Boise County Clerk Race

Ordinarily, I tend not to worry too much about a job like County Clerk.  Ordinarily, this isn't a job where there are challengers.  But this time around, there's a positive death match under way!  This May 22, 2010 Idaho Statesman article describes it well:

Two of the three Republicans candidates for the four-year job, which pays $44,200 a year, know each other well.

Incumbent Boise County Clerk Constance "Conni" Swearingen is the former boss of Michelle Armfield, who worked in the clerk's office for six years until she was fired in January.

"I terminated her for cause," Swearingen said.

Armfield says she was wrongfully terminated, and she's filed a lawsuit against Swearingen and Boise County. But she's also running for Swearingen's position.

I really don't know who is right in the Armfield vs. Swearingen battle, but it was smart politics of Mary Prisco to put a copy of Armfield's complaint on her campaign webpage. Prisco certainly has the educational and private sector experience qualifications for the position.

The Ward-Labrador Race: Dead Heat

From the May 22, 2010 Spokane Spokesman-Review:
The Idaho Statesman and KBOI TV Channel 2 have commissioned a statewide poll by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research, a national polling company based in Washington, D.C., in advance of Tuesday’s primary election, and the results are darn interesting. In the 1st District congressional race, among likely voters in Idaho’s Republican primary in the district, the poll found 31 percent favoring Vaughn Ward, 28 percent for Raul Labrador, 37 percent undecided and 4 percent for Harley Brown. That’s a statistical dead heat - the difference between Ward and Labrador falls within the poll’s margin of error. You can read the Statesman’s full coverage of the poll here.
For reasons that I explained here, I think Labrador would be a more effective Congresscritter than Ward, and so far, Ward's campaign comedy of errors suggests that Labrador is going to be more effective running against Walt Minnick (DINO-ID).  If Ward gets the nomination, I'll get a Ward yard sign, and perhaps even contribute some money to the campaign.  But I think Labrador is going to be more effective.

Governor's Race

I have no wild enthusiasm for Governor Otter, who is running for re-election in the Republican primary.  But the news coverage that I have seen suggests that he has a sincere desire to make the state government operate within its limits.  The battle between Otter and the legislature last year over gas tax and road improvements suggests that Otter is part of the wing of the Republican Party that recognizes that government can perform a legitimately positive function in growing the economy by making road improvements.  I wouldn't want this to go too far--we don't need four lane highways in every corner of the state--but he represents a useful counterbalance to those members of the legislature who don't seem to see the economic growth advantages of building transportation infrastructure.

Otter's most serious opponent is Rex Rammel.  As I mentioned some months back:
I've been aware of a politician named Rex Rammel who is running for governor against Otter, but I didn't have much of an impression, positive or negative. Purportedly he's a conservative of some sort. Listening to him interviewed by Nate Shelman on KBOI AM 670 this evening Rammel certainly made an impression on me alright: and not a good one.

Rammel's position of how to deal with the budget shortfall is to eliminate the personal and corporate income taxes and increase sales tax rates as a way to create jobs. While I'm no fan of income taxes because they encourage a variety of manipulative and economical inefficient tax shelters, it is generally very high marginal rates that create this sort of idiocy. Federal income tax rates can be a real problem, because the marginal rates are high enough to make people do dumb things. But Idaho personal income tax rates (like most states) are pretty low. It is hard to imagine that our 8% state income rate is making much of a difference in how anyone in this state decides what investments to make, how many people to hire, what factories to build.

Even more absurd: because state income taxes are deductible on your Form 1040, Schedule A, those Idahoans in the top marginal state income tax bracket (as I was until last year) were reducing their federal income tax by 35-40% of their highest marginal state income tax rate. Eliminating the Idaho state income tax would put perhaps $5000 in the pocket of the top 5% of the state's income earners--but probably $2000-$2300 of it would end up paid as federal income tax, instead. The gain for the taxpayers, even for the high end Idaho taxpayers, isn't as impressive as it first sounds.

The notion that reducing personal and corporate state income taxes is going to be a big win for creating new jobs here, or moving existing jobs from other states, is really hare-brained. Yes, they do probably impair job growth a bit--but it is a minor factor when you consider how low the rates are. (At the federal level, it is a stronger argument, where the marginal rates are much higher.) In a thriving economy, there might be a stronger argument for eliminating these taxes to encourage growth--but the only thing growing in Idaho (and much of the rest of the country), is discouragement about jobs.


Then Rammel proposed that the loss of about 1.25 billion dollars from our budget by eliminating these two taxes could be handled by turning all the public schools back to the local governments, and wiping out those parts of the state board of education handling K-12. Again, I am skeptical of the value of much of the centralized state bureaucracy, but I am very skeptical that's this is where most of the money being spent on public education in this state is going.

There's a case for pretty radical transformation of our education system, perhaps using vouchers to create more competition for schools. I just don't get the impression that Rammel has given much thought to what he is talking about.
It also appears that Otter has the race in the bag, anyway. The May 22, 2010 Spokane Spokesman-Review reports on a statewide poll:
In the governor’s race, the poll showed Gov. Butch Otter with 60 percent, 25 percent undecided, and none of the five GOP challengers rising beyond single digits, with Rex Rammell highest at 6 percent followed by Sharon Ullman at 4 percent.

Reasons To Vote Against John Bradbury For Idaho Supreme Court

I'm not sure that I have a strong reason yet to vote for Justice Roger Burdick, who is seeking confirmation for another term on the Idaho Supreme Court.  But I do have some reasons to vote against Judge John Bradbury, who is trying for that seat.  From the May 23, 2010 Magic Valley Times-News:

Female judges

Bradbury said that if there were fewer retirements and more elections, the court system would have more female judges. He points to the Legislature, where female legislators are more commonplace compared to the judiciary.

“Only one woman out of 22 in the last three years has been appointed,” he said. “… You can’t look at these statistics and have many women lawyers want to go through the ordeal when they see what the results have been. I think the first thing that you’ve got to do is let them know that the system is opened up.”

Burdick disagrees, saying a survey in 2008 of every lawyer and judge has results showing that women aren’t attracted to judge positions because contested elections and lower salaries. Burdick also points out that the Judicial Council, not the Idaho Supreme Court, selects two to four candidates to the governor to pick for appointments.
I do agree with Bradley that the practice of judges retiring before their term is up is not good. The reason that this is done is so that the governor can appoint someone to the position--who then has the advantage of incumbency. A couple of years back, one of the Idaho Supreme Court justices actually said directly that this is a good thing because the voters are knowledgeable enough to make good decisions on stuff like this. But Bradbury's argument that it would increase the number of women on the bench is exactly the kind of quota-driven thinking that ignores individuals, and glorifies identity politics.

I'm not impressed with this discussion from Bradbury v. Idaho Judicial Council (Ida. 2009):

Petitioner was elected in 2002 for a district judge position with resident chambers in Idaho County. He took office in January 2003. Idaho Code section 1-809 requires that district judges actually reside at the place designated as their resident chambers. On December 20, 2002, Petitioner purchased a house in Grangeville, Idaho County, and on October 16, 2003, he changed his voter registration to Idaho County.

On May 2, 2006, the Council notified Petitioner that it was conducting an inquiry into whether he was actually residing in Idaho County. Petitioner responded by letter on May 4, 2006, stating that he owned a fully furnished home in Grangeville, that he had a homeowner's exemption on that home, and that he was registered to vote and did vote in Idaho County. He also stated that he had a fully furnished home in Lewiston and that the home at which he stayed depended upon where his work was. By letter dated April 17, 2007, the Council informed Petitioner that, based upon his response, the Council was closing the file. The Council noted in its subsequent findings that Petitioner had not informed the Council "that he spent practically none of his nights in Grangeville, or, that in the prior six (6) months he had spent fewer than ten (10) evenings in Grangeville."

On September 12, 2007, the Council sent Petitioner a letter stating that it had received additional information and was re-opening the inquiry into whether he was actually residing in Idaho County. On October 31, 2007, Robert G. Hamlin, the Executive Director of the Council, interviewed Petitioner regarding the issue of whether he actually resided in Idaho County. That interview was recorded and transcribed by a court reporter. During that interview, Petitioner stated, "And my Constitutional duty is to do my job, and I think it trumps whatever the statutory obligation might be." He continued, "And I want to do my job. And I want to comply with the law. But I can't do both, as much as I want to." When asked, "So do you—you spend most of your time in Lewiston?" Petitioner answered, "Yeah, I do." Hamlin followed up by asking, "How many days—let me rephrase that, how many evenings a week do you spend in Grangeville?" Petitioner answered, "Practically none." He said that he got most of his personal mail in Lewiston and had registered his vehicles in Nez Perce County. He told Hamlin he spent most of his weekends at his ranch in Clearwater County where he is building a house. He also stated, "I can tell you that I would live in Grangeville if I could do my work and live in Grangeville."
Bradbury sounds more and more like one of those, "Why should I have to obey the law?" sorts that so dominate Democratic Party politics.  I think I will be voting to confirm Burdick.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Robin Hood As Everyman

My friend Dan Gifford has written a piece over at Big Hollywood about how the legend of Robin Hood and his battle against the forces of oppression has been reinterpreted by Hollywood over the years:
I grew up watching  “The Adventures of Robin Hood,” starring Richard Greene during the 50s without ever realizing its stories about the exploitation of serfs and ill gotten capitalist wealth were written by blacklisted communist Hollywood writers who were spreading Soviet agitprop.
Perhaps I was just too young to see whatever propaganda was intended by the Richard Greene series (which was still in re-runs when I was watching TV in the 1960s).  Or perhaps it was done with sufficient skill that I did not recognize it, rather like the poem, "Little Boxes" (1962) by Malvina Reynolds, which one of my elementary school teachers read to us as some sort of indictment of middle class suburbia.

I look back on "Little Boxes" now with considerable disgust. The poem was making fun of the bourgeois conformity of suburbia and materialism.  This is an easy position to take, if you already have a house--but for a whole generation of Americans growing up after World War II, the dream of owning a home of your own was not just that "evil" of materialism.  It was freedom from apartment living.

A home of your own meant that you were not dependent on a landlord who could arbitrarily evict you, or raise the rent, or create rules on a whim.  It was the relative peace and quiet of not living cheek by jowl with others.  It was not having to tell children to be quiet, or not to jump up and down, for fear of disturbing the tenants in the apartment next door or downstairs.  It was--dare I say it--an attempt to free members of the working classes from the misery and oppression that characterized tenement life when Jacob Riis was documenting How The Other Half Lives.

The Wikipedia article about "Little Boxes" quotes Tom Lehrer as calling the musical version "the most sanctimonious song ever written."  In many ways, "Little Boxes" is the type of thinking that brings to mind the saying, "A developer is someone who wants to build a house in the forest; an environmentalist already has a house there."

When Will The Global Warming End?

I almost didn't get home today. We have snow, and it is sticking.

And it is late May.


A couple miles down the old highway from us, an osprey has a nest.  Unfortunately, a 200mm zoom on a digital SLR (roughly equivalent to a 300mm zoom on a 35mm film camera) really isn't quite enough--I should probably either buy the 1.4x teleconverter, or a longer lens.  As a result, these pictures aren't great, but give you some idea of the cute little baby ospreys as they grow.

Click to enlarge

Here is a couple of weeks later. Mom is no longer in the nest. Instead, she was some distance away, screeching up a storm to distract us from her babies. (We weren't very close, as this picture shows--but mother birds, like human mothers, are pretty insistent about protecting their young.)

Click to enlarge

And here's a Western Tanager--we have a lot of them around the house, although this one was near the osprey nest. Again, it's a tiny but intensely colored bird, and I need a longer zoom!

UPDATE: My wife informs me that closer examination of Mom says that these are red-tailed hawks--not ospreys.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Redfield Rides Again

Redfield, as a U.S. riflescope manufacturer, went away in 1998.  But Leupold, the premiere U.S. riflescope maker, bought the name and the rights--and is now making Redfield riflescopes in Beaverton, Oregon, as sort of a feature-reduced, mass market version of the Leupold scopes--and at very reasonable prices, cheap enough to compete with the Chinese optics, and certainly better made.  This is very attractive.  Leupold has a spectacular reputation for the optical quality and mechanical durability of its products (which is why you find a lot of their high end stuff in use by the U.S. military).

When I was a gun dealer, I once sold a very high end combo--a Browning A-Bolt Stainless Stalker rifle with a Leupold scope on it.   The scope wasn't much less expensive than the rifle--and both the rifle and the scope were exquisite works of art.  There may be a Redfield like this in my future.

Looks Like I Have A Publisher For My Next Book

They said they want to publish it (although with a different title)--but their booklist is already full for 2010 and 2011.  I'm seeing if we can go ahead and do a contract for January 2012 publication.  First few chapters are here.

No, You Aren't Seeing Double

One of my readers made several requests for changes on my blog to bring it into compliance with conventions in the blogosphere.  One of them was to make the title of each post also a permalink, along with the permalink at the bottom.  For some reason, lost in the past, I have never used the Title field of Blogger, preferring to make the first line of each posting the title.  Changing the template to make it automatically put a permalink on the Title of each posting means that there will be duplicate titles on all my old postings--going back for years.  But going forward, it will be easier and faster for me.

People Who Confuse Guns & Sex

People Who Confuse Guns & Sex

I've never found the anti-gunners "guns are a penis substitute" argument to even rise to the level of worth serious debate.  The most that I will do is make fun of the argument: "Then what does it say about most gun owners that they want the smallest possible handgun?  And what does it say about women gun owners?  For that matter, what does it say about you, wanting to take away our guns?"  But count on Mayor Daley of Chicago to combine vulgarity, sexual innuendo, and perversion in a single sentence.  From the May 20, 2010 Chicago Sun-Times:

Often when Mayor Daley makes the case for what he calls "common sense gun laws," he stands before a table full of guns seized by Chicago Police.

The show-and-tell was the same today, when Daley was asked how effective Chicago's strictest-in-the-nation handgun ban can possibly be when the city's homicide rate is rising and an off-duty Chicago Police officer was gunned down during an attempted robbery.

The mayor picked up a rifle from the table and sarcastically told the Chicago Reader reporter, "If I put this up your butt, you'll find out how effective it is. If we put a round up your, you-know. . . . [Confiscating] this gun saved many lives. It could save your life."
As a commenter over at Arms and the Law observed (sarcastically):
Say what you will about Mayor Daley, he is always a classy guy.

Milspec Brownies

Milspec Brownies

Yes, there is a military specification for making brownies.  Reason's Hit and Run has a funny piece that Radley Balko (guest-blogging at Instapundit) uses it as a jumping off point to argue that government health care isn't likely to be cheaper or more efficient:
The Pentagon's brownie recipe is 26 pages long. Just grab a copy of document MIL-C-44072C and gather your ingredients: water that conforms to the "National Primary Drinking Water Regulations (Copies are available from the Office of Drinking Water, Environmental Protection Agency, WH550D, 401 M Street, S.W., Washington, DC 20460)," and some eggs in compliance with "Regulations Governing the Inspection of Eggs and Egg Products (7 CFR Part 59)," and you're ready to go!
To the credit of Katherine Mangu-Ward over at Hit and Run, she recognizes that a 26 page military specification on making brownies for MREs (Meals Rejected by Ethiopians) isn't really as silly as it sounds.  When you are contracting to have someone make several million brownies, the last thing you want is someone getting...creative in the ingredient list or manufacturing process.  (And no, I wasn't referring to the herbal variant when I mentioned creative ingredients.) 

It isn't just the U.S. government with detailed official specifications for how to make things.  Here's the British National Standard for making tea.  I shudder to imagine the British National Standard for black pudding.  That might be too unpleasant to read.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Attaching Your Wanted Poster To Resume

Attaching Your Wanted Poster To Resume

I'm not the only person who found Bellesiles's publisher's press release bizarre.  From the May 19, 2010 Inside Higher Education:
These sentences have absorbed and rewarded my attention for days on end. They are a masterpiece of evasion. The paragraph is, in its way, quite impressive. Every word of it is misleading, including “and” and “the.”

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Why I Am Planning To Vote For Raul Labrador For Congress

Why I Am Planning To Vote For Raul Labrador For Congress

We had a bond election today in the Horseshoe Bend school district.  Next Tuesday is the primary election.  (If there were any sanity, both elections would have been held on the same day--but at least the bond election was pitifully cheaply run.)

I had originally planned to vote for Vaughn Ward in the Republican primary for U.S. House seat 1.  I saw a swarm of news stories in the Idaho Statesman that were generally so petty as to make me more inclined to vote for Ward.  Dan Popkey, the Idaho Statesman's political columnist, made a big deal of Ward being late on his property taxes.  Even Rep. Walt Minnick (DINO-ID) pointed out how easy it is to miss such deadlines.  It was pretty clear that Popkey was just trying to weaken what was considered the stronger Republican candidate.

But since then, Ward has managed to demonstrate that he is not ready for prime time.  He ran an ad with him in uniform.  That's a complete no-no.  If Ward was an enlisted man, I could be charitable and assume that he didn't know, or forgot.  But he's an officer (Major).  He ought to know better.

Then Ward's campaign was caught plagiarizing stuff for his campaign from other Republican campaigns around the country.  Okay, mistakes happen; busy campaign staff may not understand that if you are going to reuse someone else's stuff, you should attribute it.  (Unless, of course, you are Sen. Joe Biden, now V.P. Joe Biden.)  But then they tried again--and the same problem!

Now, if conservative Republicans around the country had been smart, they would have organized a common platform, and pledged themselves to it--rather like 1994's Contract With America (a brilliant idea from Newt Gingrich).  Then everyone could have signed onto it, creating a powerful collection of campaign materials that would have strengthened all of them--and would have been far less expensive than everyone inventing the wheel individually.  This would have been very powerful--but there's a reason that Republicans are called the Stupid Party.  (As distinguished from their enemies, the Sneaky, Cunning, Shark-like Corrupt Party.)

Again, all these failings might not be a sign of Vaughn Ward's personal failings--but it does suggest that he can't manage his Congressional primary campaign.  That means he isn't going to do a particularly stellar job running the general election campaign, or running a Congressional office.

I'm planning to vote for Raul Labrador next Tuesday.  I'm hard pressed to see any major areas where Ward's positions are better than Labrador's.   Labrador has experience as a member of the Idaho legislature--which is a good stepping stone to the U.S. House.  That we have a strong supporter of stopping illegal immigration with an Hispanic name just sweetens the pot a bit, because it gives us a chance to watch messy brain explosions from Democrats on the coasts who simply refuse to believe that our concerns aren't racism.

A Very Useful Site

A Very Useful Site

Looking for the best price on ammunition?  This site keeps track of who is offering what prices for ammunition.  Very useful.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Yet Another Reason For Students Not To Use Wikipedia

Yet Another Reason For Students Not To Use Wikipedia

One of the reasons that I tell students not use Wikipedia when doing research papers is that it is only as accurate as the people editing the articles.  For some subjects, this isn't a problem; there's no political significance to the date when Cretans go from Bronze Age to Iron Age, or Newton's universal law of gravitation equation.  In the non-political areas, Wikipedia is pretty darn impressive.  I often use it myself as a "first look," but I don't rely on Wikipedia alone.

The problem is in any area of history, there is a very real risk that Wikipedia's entries have been politically motivated, or reflects honest but ignorant editors.  Trusting Wikipedia as a source is less than ideal.  (Of course, even serious published books are often wrong, as I have pointed out before.)

There is a new and troubling scandal involving child pornography and Wikipedia.  The first article, from April 27, 2010 Fox News, is troubling:
The parent company of Wikipedia is knowingly distributing child pornography, the co-founder of the online encyclopedia says, and he's imploring the FBI to investigate.

 Larry Sanger, who left Wikipedia in 2002, said Wikimedia Commons (the parent company of Wiki products including Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Wikinews and Wikiquote) is rife with renderings of children performing sexual acts.

Sanger sent a letter to the FBI earlier this month outlining his concerns and identifying two specific Wikimedia Commons categories he believes violate federal obscenity law.
Now, there was an update to the article that indicated:
In response to the content mentioned in Larry Sanger’s letter to the FBI, Moeller wrote:

“It’s a false claim related largely to some historic early 20th century drawings, as described in the summary published by the Wikipedia Signpost. The Wikimedia Foundation’s General Counsel examined the drawings and concluded that they do not violate federal laws; we have not received any communication from the FBI to the contrary, and when and if we are asked by authorities to remove images that are illegal, we will do so.”
This is a plausible claim. There are certain situations where really gruesome and awful stuff needs to be available for scientific or scholarly research. As an example, some years ago, I was at a friend's house who had a truly disgusting book. It was a diagnostic manual for identifying child sexual abuse, with photographs. It was enough to make me ill, and I didn't need more than a quick flip through it to know that I didn't need to look at it anymore.

It is plausible that Wikipedia had some material of historic significance--but I confess that having such material online seems quite questionable.  Once upon a time, some of the most grotesque history of the twelve Caesars, when translated into English, would leave certain sections in Greek, as a way of limiting access to a relatively small subset of highly educated people.  (Then Bob Guccione decided to make a movie about Caligula, making this horrible stuff available to those with too little sense.)  Not everything that is necessary for serious research has to be online--and there is some material that should not be online.  Child pornography is one of those examples.

But what troubles me is what happened when Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, had the unmitigated nerve to take gobs of this horrifying stuff online.  From May 14, 2010 Fox News:

After much pressure from within the Wikipedia community, co-founder Jimmy Wales has relinquished his top-level control over the encyclopedia's content, as well as all of its parent company's projects.

Though he remains the president of the Wikimedia Foundation, Wales is no longer able to delete files, remove administrators, assign projects or edit any content, sources say. Essentially, they say, he has gone from having free reign over the content and people involved in the websites to having the same capabilities of a low-level administrator.

“He had the highest level of control, he was our leader,” a source told

When asked who was in charge now, the source said, “No one. It’s chaos.”

Wales deleted gobs of this trash--and managed to infuriate the rest of the Wikipedia community--so much so that he no longer has any control.  Now, I can't tell if Jimmy Wales did this because he was repulsed by the prospect that his creation was carrying child pornography, or simply that he recognized that it was bad publicity for what is fundamentally a neat and useful idea. But the reaction of the Wikimedia "community" makes me wonder what sort of a community this is.

Windshield Wonder Really Works

Windshield Wonder Really Works

You've probably seen the TV ads for something called the Windshield Wonder that has a little pivoting head to make it easier to get to the narrow little space at the bottom of the windshield.  My wife bought one--and this really does work very well indeed!   Not only useful for getting into that narrow little spot at the bottom of the windshield, but also useful for the Jaguar X-Type's back window, which is a little clumsy to get to with your hands.

It's made out of cheap plastic, but then again, it was only $10.  The only real deficiency was that the screw that holds the hand together for the extension pole was loose, so I had to tighten that up.  But the "microfiber" cloth really does a nice job of cleaning the glass with just tap water--as long as you don't get the cloth beyond damp.

Rimfire Cartridges Just Aren't That Well Sealed

Rimfire Cartridges Just Aren't That Well Sealed

Over the years, the only problems I have had with factory ammo failing to fire have been .22 LR.  One batch I had kept in the trunk of my car--and appears that they got wet.  Yesterday, I took some friends out to familiarize them with handguns--and the only failures to fire were .22 LR in magazines that I sometimes carry in my pocket.  About half the cartridges would not fire, even with repeated strikes.  (The American Arms PX-22, being a PPK clone, has a double action trigger.)

I'm guessing that sweat from carrying them in my pocket had neutralized them.  While this was a good drill for teaching my friends how to clear failures, it was a sobering reminder that any .22 LR pistol that you carry as a backup gun should be fired every month--so that you always have fresh ammunition in your gun.

There's a school of thought that says .25 ACP makes no sense, because it has about the same power as .22 LR, but costs 10x as much.  The difference is that .25 ACP, being a centerfire cartridge, is probably much better sealed.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

I'm Still Impressed How Rapidly Islam Won The War Started on 9/11

I'm Still Impressed How Rapidly Islam Won The War Started on 9/11

Of course, it's easier when the left is on their side.  From the May 13, 2010 New York Post:

A mosque rises over Ground Zero. And fed-up New Yorkers are crying, "No!"
A chorus of critics -- from neighbors to those who lost loved ones on 9/11 to me -- feel as if they've received a swift kick in the teeth.
Plans are under way for a Muslim house of worship, topped by a 13-story cultural center with a swimming pool, in a building damaged by the fuselage of a jet flown by extremists into the World Trade Center.
The opening date shall live in infamy: Sept. 11, 2011. The 10th anniversary of the day a hole was punched in the city's heart.

RSS Feeds

RSS Feeds

A couple of readers complained that their RSS feed wasn't working--and hasn't been since I switched from ftp blogging to using blogspot.  Try using this atom.xml for your ATOM feed.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Lying Doesn't Work So Well in the Age of Google

Lying Doesn't Work So Well in the Age of Google

I have been receiving emails for some days from someone who was concerned that my PajamasMedia piece about marijuana and increased psychosis risk was being "misused" by evil people whose primary goal is "HARM MAXIMIZATION"--people whose primary goal is to throw as many people into prison as possible for drug abuse. 

I wasn't quite sure where this guy was going, but I tried to engage in a polite conversation, explaining that while I don't support decriminalization, the primary goal needs to be reducing demand by making kids, especially, aware of the substantial risks involved in using marijuana.  Education has to be the primary strategy in reducing pot use, because interdiction doesn't work--and leads to its own set of problems.

The latest email insists:
I am a volunteer medical patient advocate who specializes in human rights. I personally feel that decriminalization is a moral imperative and is inevitable given the facts but if you want to argue against decriminalization I am sure I can find a decrim activist to engage you.
Intriguing description of himself: "volunteer medical patient advocate who specializes in human rights."  (Rather like the whimsical way that certain persons driving their Cadillacs on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley used to be called "self-employed, mobile, alternative pharmaceutical retailers.")  So I Googled his name: Michael Kravitz. And what did I find?
Hey, that guy is pretty good: I was sitting in the crime subcommittee chamber of the Virginia House listening to my mentor Eric Sterling speak to the Members, when the Army veteran who would soon address the Members on the issue of medical marijuana whispered about how good Eric was. I smiled. Read this analysis by the event’s organizer Michael Kravitz.

“Eric Sterling, was the star witness in favor of Decriminalization HB1134. Eric rebuffed the straw men* that Delegate Bell threw in his way of 43 year olds selling to 3rd graders etc. with righteous indignation and roundly scolded the Delegates for their grade school pranks* of putting a tray of brownies* in the Delegates lounge or disrupting Delegate Morgan’s House floor speech with Cheech and Chong jokes showing that he was paying close attention to local politics which hit pay dirt as Delegate Bell’s posse* had pulled those pranks. Eric said that such jokes and pranks showed they believed that marijuana use wasn’t a real problem and referred to real problems such as swine flu.”
I'm not going to bother talking to this guy anymore. His emails are full of the religious fanaticism that turns everyone who disagrees with him into evil.  And this is not surprising; there are a lot of people for whom marijuana is a god.  Pretending that he is not a "decrim advocate" when his organization's blog makes it clear that he organizes events for marijuana decriminalization just shows how far the pot worshipers are prepared to go to accomplish their ends.

Semester Over!

Semester Over!

I've enjoyed teaching, but I'm glad to be back down to just a full-time job (the day job that provides health insurance).  As inevitably happens, the handing out of grades isn't beautiful--with a fairly normal distribution of grades. 

I tell students at the start of every semester that I don't believe in grading on a curve.  If everyone studies hard and learns the required material, I would be overjoyed to hand out nothing but As.  But it never works out that way.  Some students simply don't have the memory.  Some aren't interested in enough, perhaps because they are too busy with other classes or responsibilities at work or with family.  Some get sick--one student was out for two weeks with surgery, although he made a game effort at keeping up, and passed the class.  Another was knocked out in a lacrosse game, and out most of a week (but still got an A).

National Bankruptcy

National Bankruptcy

Remember when Democrats were criticizing Republicans for running up absurd deficits?  Obama is making those deficits look downright responsible.  (Something that I didn't think was even possible.)  From the May 12, 2010 Washington Post:
The Treasury Department said Wednesday that the federal deficit for April soared to $82.7 billion, the largest imbalance for that month on record. That was significantly higher than last year's April deficit of $20 billion and above the $30 billion deficit that private-sector economists had expected.

The government generally runs surpluses in April, as millions of taxpayers file their income tax returns. But income tax payments were down this April, reflecting the impact of the recession, which has pushed millions of people out of work.

Total revenue for April was down 7.9 percent from a year ago, dipping to $245.3 billion.
The article goes on to blame the recession, but let's stop fooling ourselves: that "stimulus" bill was huge.

The disaster in Greece is likely to be the disaster in Portugal, Spain, and California next.  If we don't get some adult supervision in Congress after the November elections, the U.S. is headed down the same path.  And when I say "adult supervision," I don't mean Republicans.  I think Republican control of the House after November is a given; I'm just not sufficiently confident that it will be adult Republicans.

What to do?  Buying stocks right now seems incredibly risky.  Buying bonds used to be considered safe--after all, what's safer than U.S. Treasury bonds?  Right now, it seems to be ammo, rifles, and a few years worth of canned and dried food.  Even the traditional safe investment--real estate--doesn't seem all that safe.  Houses near the bankrupt Tamarack resort in central Idaho are still priced as though the economy hasn't collapsed, along with the Tamarack-driven local economy.  Raw land prices are about the only thing that seems to be settling back to reality.

The people that are out of work?  I feel very sorry for them.  I feel bad for young people who are finishing up college--and have relatively few options available to them.  And for a lot of people in my cohort--the May 12, 2010 New York Times is announcing that their jobs are gone, and aren't coming back.

Blaming Bush isn't going to work any longer for Obama--this is now the Democrats' disaster.  Some radical change is required--the sort of radical change that will offend the Ivy Leaguers that have been in control of Congress, the courts, and the White House for most of my lifetime.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The War Against AIDS in Africa

The War Against AIDS in Africa

This May 9, 2010 New York Times article about how the war on AIDS is being lost in Africa includes a rather startling statement:
Science has produced no magic bullet — no cure, no vaccine, no widely accepted female condom. Every proposal for controlling the epidemic with current tools — like circumcising every man in the third world, giving a daily prophylactic pill to everyone contemplating sex or testing billions of people and treating all the estimated 33 million who would test positive — is wildly impractical.

And, most devastating of all, old-fashioned prevention has flopped. Too few people, particularly in Africa, are using the “ABC” approach pioneered here in Uganda: abstain, be faithful, use condoms.
Wow!  A strategy that works, and 2/3 of it is something those nasty, narrow-minded, evil Christians promote.  (And most evangelicals regard the last 1/3 as better than not even trying.)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

When You Are In A Hole, Stop Digging

When You Are In A Hole, Stop Digging

Michael Bellesiles has a new book out.  In light of his public humiliation for being exposed as a fraud, the last thing you would think to do is remind everyone of it:
1877 is also notable as the comeback book for a celebrated U.S. historian. Michael Bellesiles is perhaps most famous as the target of an infamous “swiftboating” campaign by the National Rifle Association, following the publication of his Bancroft Prize-winning book Arming America (Knopf, 2000) — “the best kind of non-fiction,” according to the Chicago Tribune — which made daring claims about gun ownership in early America. In what became the history profession’s most talked-about and notorious case of the past generation, Arming America was eventually discredited after an unprecedented and controversial review called into question its sources, charges which Bellesiles and his many prominent supporters have always rejected.”
I'm just amazed. Maybe 1877 is a fine book. But the extent of his exposure from scholars across the spectrum was so overwhelming that the smartest thing he could do is not remind anyone of Arming America. It's rather like deciding to go straight--but include a copy of the Wanted poster for bank robbery with your resume.  The History News Network coverage includes this:
Randolph Roth, who teaches at The Ohio State University, had this to say:
I hope and expect that Michael Bellesiles' new book will be judged on its merits.  I am disappointed, however, in the promotional campaign for the book.  Mr. Bellesiles may indeed have been the target of the NRA's ire, but he was not "swift-boated" by anyone.  Many people found Arming America deeply flawed—among them scholars of unquestioned skill and integrity such as James Lindgren, Gloria Main, Laurel Ulrich, and Clayton Cramer.  Some of them are conservatives, some liberals, some contrarians, but they all followed the evidence where it led, regardless of their personal views about guns or gun control.  The evidence, quantitative and qualitative, undid Arming America.

Slavery Reparations

Slavery Reparations

PajamasMedia published a piece by me today about slavery reparations.  Let me emphasize that the subtitle that implies Professor Gates has just become honest about this was not written by me, and I have no basis for believing that he has suddenly become honest about this subject.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Please Explain This One

Please Explain This One

Chastity Bono has completed the transition to being male. In some ideal world, what Chastity/Chaz does in private would be completely irrelevant to anyone else.  But unfortunately, the continual yammering and hammering by the transgender crowd for governmental action means that nothing is really private anymore: the personal is the political.

This transition raises several interesting questions about "Chaz" Bono and her/his relationship with "partner" Jennifer Elia.

1. If Chastity is now a man, then he is having sex with a woman (Jennifer Elia).  Does that mean Chaz Bono has changed from being a lesbian to a heterosexual man?

2. If Jennifer Elia is now having sex with Chaz Bono, a man, does that mean that Jennifer Elia has changed from being a lesbian to a heterosexual (or at least a bisexual)?

3. Wait a minute: I thought that the claims that you could change your sexual orientation from gay to straight were just lies.  But here we have two lesbians changing their sexual orientation!  Or is Chaz not really a man?

4. A number of trouble makers like myself have long suspected that there is a connection, for at least some homosexuals, between childhood sexual abuse, and adult sexual confusion.  Even those championing homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle have sometimes made damaging admissions in this area.  If a woman preferring another woman is a natural, completely healthy and normal orientation, isn't there something just a bit weird about Jennifer Elia being a lesbian, now is "partner" to an ersatz man?  Isn't this exactly what you might expect if Elia's sexual orientation was the result of a traumatic or destructive relationship with a real man?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Rest Will Be Short

The Rest Will Be Short

I have been tasked with a monograph on armed self-defense that will bring in some money, compensating for the loss of teaching at CWI over the summer.  In addition, I am supposed to teach State & Local Government in the summer quarter, starting in June at ITT Technical Institute.  And the ScopeRoller business is picking up.  I shipped two orders today: one to Italy, one to Canada, and I have another order to prepare for a university in Oklahoma.  But wow!  After writing a final exam for my students, and completing the order for Canada, I had nothing to do today!  I actually goofed off, watching re-runs of Forever Knight for a couple of hours.  (Okay, I didn't completely goof off--I balanced the checkbook, and completed the hand assembly parts of the Canadian order while watching Forever Knight.)

Talk About Stirring Up A Race War

Talk About Stirring Up A Race War

This guy is apparently a UCLA professor stirring up race hatred:

It's past time to close the border and deport illegal immigrants.  Fortunately, most of the forty million that this guy is counting on aren't buying his racist rhetoric.  Imagine if someone stood up and delivered a speech talking about the importance of white people overthrowing the current system and throwing every member of "la Raza" (including huge numbers of American citizens, natural born, and naturalized) out of the United States?  Would anyone make excuses for such a transparent call to racism?  Of course not.

The Semester Is Almost Over

The Semester Is Almost Over

Which means, at least for a few weeks (until the summer term starts at ITT Technical Institute), I have some time to blog. This arrived in my email:
Let me see if I got this right.

If you cross the North Korean border illegally you get 12 years at hard labor.

If you cross the Iranian border  illegally you are detained indefinitely.

If you cross the Afghan border illegally, you get shot.

If you cross the Saudi Arabian border illegally, you will be jailed.

If you cross the Chinese border illegally, you may never be heard from again.

If you cross the Venezulan border illegally, you will be branded a spy and your fate will be sealed.

If you cross the Cuban border illegally you will be thrown into political prison to rot.
And the author could have mentioned that if you cross the southern border of Mexico illegally, you are subject to a two year prison sentence.

If you cross the U.S. border illegally you get:

* A JOB,

This is very funny, but not entirely correct. If an illegal alien applies for welfare or food stamps, and their status is discovered, they will be denied these benefits. (But widespread document fraud means that it may not be discovered.) If any alien registers to vote, they are breaking the law--and this does not seem to actually be terribly common. (Legal immigrants voting before they have become citizens--that played a part in the Dornan v. Sanchez Congressional race some years ago, but it was hundreds of such unlawful votes, not tens of thousands.)

This list also conflates those things that the government provides (free education, at least K-12), those things that are theoretically not available to illegal immigrants, and and those things that are provided because some businesses are too stupid to think clearly. (Why, oh why, would you make a house loan to someone who might be deported on a few days notice?)

Still, there is a rather interesting point to this rant above: the U.S. is vastly more hospitable to illegal immigrants than many other countries.  Now, at this point, liberals will start saying, "Of course we are: because we are morally superior."  But much of the time when this debate about illegal immigration comes up, liberals are screeching that America is a racist, hate-filled country that treats illegal immigrants like garbage.  Which is it?

UPDATE: A reader tells me that in Texas, illegal aliens get to pay in-state tuition.  I was at a going away party for a friend recently, who, because he does silly things like obey immigration laws, is having to leave the U.S.  He was here on an H-1B visa, and his job evaporated--nor could he get another job.  But since he isn't illegally present here, he has to leave the country. 

At the going away party, I was chatting with a young lady who is just graduating high school.  She was running into a problem that because she isn't a permanent resident, she doesn't qualify for in-state tuition at Boise State University.  She has no accent.  She has lived in Idaho for many years with her parents, who are here on an H-1B visa.

There is an argument that someone who is not a permanent resident does not enjoy the benefits as a permanent resident.  But it seems absurd that someone who has followed the law is no better off than a person who has entered the country unlawfully.

I Smell Victory in Hawaii

I Smell Victory in Hawaii

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that the Democrats may lose a House seat in a special election to Republican Charles Djou.  This May 7, 2010 Washington Post article confirms that Djou is looking like the likely winner:

HONOLULU -- Across the country, Democrats are on the defense, laboring to put out political fires sparked by angry voters and emboldened Republicans. Even Hawaii, the bluest of blue states, where a Democratic machine has controlled politics for the five decades since statehood, has become a dangerous hot spot for the party in power.

But here's the catch: The Democrats started this fire themselves.

Democrats here might lose a House seat in a special election this month because of a feud between two candidates that has inflamed tensions within Hawaii's ethnic voting blocs and between the state's Democratic establishment and the party's national leaders.
Two Democrats, one backed by the national party, one by local Democrats, are likely to split the non-Republican vote, giving Djou the plurality required.  What a tragedy this will be. :-)

My Daughter's Cooking Blog

My Daughter's Cooking Blog

The Hungry Health Nut: Life's Too Short to Eat Tiny Portions.  She is, indeed, a great cook, and she has the time to devote to this now.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Just So You Know Where The Left Is Going

Just So You Know Where The Left Is Going

There was a time when people in Britain could be punished for not believing Christian doctrine.  Now they get punished for stating it.  From the May 1, 2010 Daily Mail:

A Christian street preacher has been arrested and charged with a public-order offence after saying that homosexuality was sinful.

Dale Mcalpine was handing out leaflets to shoppers when he told a passer-by and a gay police community support officer that, as a Christian, he believed homosexuality was one of a number of sins that go against the word of God.

Mr Mcalpine said that he did not repeat his remarks on homosexuality when he preached from the top of a stepladder after his leafleting.

But he has been told that police officers are alleging they heard him making his remarks to a member of the public in a loud voice that could be overheard by others.

Freedom of religion; homosexuality: pick one.

Made Enough Money?

Made Enough Money?

I can't take Obama seriously when he talks about people who have made enough money--since he apparently made $5.5 million last year--but I confess that there are times when you can understand why, in a nation where millions of people can't afford health insurance, some people see red (and start to think red) when you see ads like this:

2007 Ferrari F430 Spider - $199,900 (obo)

About This F430

Mileage: 2,950
Body Style: Convertible
Exterior Color: Red
Interior Color: Beige
VIN: ZFFEW59AX70151484
Engine: 8 Cylinders
Transmission: Automanual
Get a CARFAX Record Check
Features: Remote Keyless Entry, Leather Interior, Power Seats, CD Changer, Premium Sound
Selling Points: Loaded with all the right and necessary options with a 253k sticker. I also am selling my 07 F430 Coupe with custom interior from the Ferrari factory.
How cute! Matching Ferraris!  A convertible for the nice days, and a coupe for the rainy days!

I suppose if Ferraris were reasonably cheap (you know, $30,000 for a slightly used one), I could consider owning one.  But when someone has $400,000 worth of transportation, reality really should arrive.

Monday, May 3, 2010

British Sniper Takes Out Two Taliban From 8120 Feet

From the May 2, 2010 Daily Mail:

An army sniper has earned a place in military history by killing two Taliban machine gunners from more than a mile and a half away. 

Craig Harrison's record breaking shots felled the insurgents with consecutive bullets  -  even though they were 3,200ft beyond the official range of his rifle. 

The Household Cavalry veteran's kills from a distance of 8,120ft beat the previous record by 150ft. 

He was using the British-built L115A3 Long Range Rifle, the Army's most powerful sniper weapon. 

Read more:

Another Bond Called

Another Bond Called

A few days ago, it was Fannie Mae 6.5% bonds being called.  No great surprise on that.  Now, some 5.5% Ford bonds due next year are being called.  What's going on?  If you are expecting interest rates to rise dramatically, I don't think that you call existing bonds.  This almost looks like a dramatic reduction in interest rates is coming.  Or am I missing something?  Or is it just that Ford is flush with cash and doesn't need to borrow money?  Or are they able to borrow so much so cheaply between now and next year that it makes sense to call the bond?

The Scientific Revolution

The Scientific Revolution

After a number of weeks of covering witchcraft trials, people being burned at stake for heresy, religious intolerance, unique forms of torture invented during the Thirty Years War--it is so nice to spend a week teaching the Scientific Revolution on the 17th and 18th centuries.  The only torture or unpleasant death is the threat implicit in Galileo's trial by the Inquisition.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

John Eastman for California Attorney-General

John Eastman for California Attorney-General

Professor Volokh endorsed Professor John Eastman for California Attorney-General.  To my surprise, because of Volokh's endorsement, Eastman is a rock hard conservative.  See where he stands on illegal immigration, religious liberty, and same-sex marriage.  Eastman is fighting the Los Angeles County District Attorney for the Republican nomination; the winner gets to take on the looney-tunes San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, who will be the Democratic nominee.  (See here for why I consider her looney-tunes.)

I've made a small contribution to Professor Eastman's campaign; feel free to do likewise.

How Hard Is This?

How Hard Is This?

The question of the constitutionality of the Arizona law.  We have a surprisingly similar case already decided by the Supreme Court involving a state attempting to regulate the arrival of immigrants.  From New York v. Miln (1837):
In February, 1824, the Legislature of New York passed "an act concerning passengers in vessels arriving in the port of New York." By one of the provisions of the law, the master of every vessel arriving in New York from any foreign port or from a port of any of the states of the United States other than New York is required, under certain penalties prescribed in the law, within twenty-four hours after his arrival, to make a report in writing containing the names, ages, and last legal settlement of every person who shall have been on board the vessel commanded by him during the voyage, and if any of the passengers shall have gone on board any other vessel or shall, during the voyage, have been landed at any place with a view to proceed to New fork, the same shall be stated in the report.


The act of the Legislature of New York is not a regulation of commerce, but of police, and, being so, it was passed in the exercise of a power which rightfully belonged to the state. The State of New York possessed the power to pass this law before the adoption of the Constitution of the United States. The law was "intended to prevent the state's being burdened with an influx of foreigners and to prevent their becoming paupers, and who would be chargeable as such." The end and means here used are within the competency of the states, since a portion of their powers were surrendered to the federal government.
Is there any question that the problem of pauperism and public charge is a motivator for Arizona's law?

It is obvious that the passengers laws of the United States only affect, through the power over navigation, the passengers whilst on their voyage and until they shall have landed; after that, and when they shall have ceased to have any connection with the ship, and when therefore they have ceased to be passengers, the acts of Congress applying to them as such, and only professing to legislate in relation to them as such, have then performed their office, and can with no propriety of language be said to come into conflict with the law of a state, whose operation only begins where that of the laws of Congress end, whose operation is not even on the same subject, because although the person on whom it operates is the same, yet, having ceased to be a passenger, he no longer stands in the only relation in which the laws of Congress either professed or intended to act upon him.

A state has the same undeniable and unlimited jurisdiction over all persons and things within its territorial limits as any foreign nation when that jurisdiction is not surrendered or restrained by the Constitution of the United States.

It is not only the right but the bounden and solemn duty of a state to advance the safety, happiness, and prosperity of its people and to provide for its general welfare by any and every act of legislation which it may deem to be conducive to these ends where the power over the particular subject or the manner of its exercise are not surrendered or restrained by the Constitution of the United States.

All those powers which relate to merely municipal legislation or which may more properly be called internal police are not surrendered or restrained, and consequently in relation to these the authority of a state is complete, unqualified, and exclusive.
Is there any question that Arizona's interest in dealing with public education expenses, public medical care, and criminals unlawfully present in Arizona falls under the police powers of the state?
Persons are not the subjects of commerce, and not being imported goods, they do not fall within the reasoning founded upon the construction of a power given to Congress to regulate commerce and the prohibition of the states from imposing a duty on imported goods.
I understand that there is some question as to whether Congress, by regulating immigration, has a legitimate basis for action, but unless Congress acts (and for practical purposes, they have not acted), the state seems free to do so.

How Often Have You Wanted To Say This?

How Often Have You Wanted To Say This?

I think all of us, at one time or another.  From the London Quarterly Review (1835):

Newton was now president of the Royal Society, and Halley obtained that professorship, which in 1698 had been refused to him by Bishop Stillingfleet, in consequence of his being an infidel, which he was at no pains to conceal. This, as appears on the authority of Dr. Maskelyne, was well known to Sir Isaac Newton, who, however, we are told, ' never permitted immorality and impiety to pass unreproved ;' and when Halley ventured to throw out any thing disrespectful to religion, invariably checked him, saying, ' I have studied these things—you have not.'
 Apparently astrologers (yes, there are gobs of them who insist that we should taken them seriously) have taken to quoting this out of context as a proof by authority that you should listen to them.