Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Chicago: Yeah, that oughta work.

From an article in the Chicago Sun-Times(full article here)

Cops knocking on doors of potential shooters, victims
Working from a list of people deemed most likely to become shooters or victims, a Chicago Police commander is expected to start knocking on their doors Friday and deliver letters warning them not to commit any violent crimes.

The “custom notifications” are a pilot program in the Austin District on the West Side. Austin District Cmdr. Barbara West plans to deliver letters to 20 people on a so-called “heat list,” officials said.
Wow.  Just Wow.  Who comes up with this stuff?  A couple of comments I have read about this program were spot-on:

"How many of these functionally illiterate gang-bangers will even be able to read these letters?"

"The U.N. has had great success with their sternly worded letters to rogue regimes all over the world, haven't they?"

Saturday, July 06, 2013

A Mid-Season Tigers Post

Looking just at numbers, you would think everything is fine here, but the Tigers are a strange hot-and-cold team that often disappears in the late innings, and too often they have lost games they should have won because they couldn't score runs late.

The Big 3 of Jackson, Cabrera, and Fielder continue to perform well (Cabrera at his usual MVP level), Jhonny Peralta has been a nice surprise so far, and Victor Martinez seems to be finding himself after missing last season and getting off to a slow start this year.  Alex Avila needs to start hitting, period.  Sub-.200 just doesn't cut it on a team built to go deep in the playoffs, no matter how good you are defensively - just ask Brandon Inge about that.

Thankfully, Delmon Young and his brutal defense is gone this year.  Andy Dirks has played a solid left field in his place.  Torii Hunter has solidified right field, while Austin Jackson continues to be one of the best center fielders in baseball.  A lot of the hits and errors from last year have been turned into outs this year because of this crew, with Matt Tuiasosopo filling in ably in left against left-handed pitching.  Glad to see him coming off the DL today.  I agree with Jim Leyland - Avisail Garcia needs a lot more at-bats in Toledo rather than riding the pine in Detroit.

At the beginning of spring training, who would have thought that:
  1. Rick Porcello would not only be in the rotation, but be one of the most consistent pitchers on the staff.  Except for a couple of bad outings, he has been steady and solid - just what you want from your fifth starter.
  2. Justin Verlander would be scuffling and trying to find himself.  And he's still 9-5, and if he hits his stride, could win 20 again.
  3. Max Schertzer would be lights out and undefeated on the season.  Last year after the All-Star break he seemed to finally get himself consistently at a high level, and that has carried over to this season.  Better than Verlander at this point, and should start the All-Star game this year.
  4. Doug Fister would struggle as much as he has.  Thought he would be much better than this, but the lack of run support has seemed to bite him as much as anyone on the staff. 
  5. Jose Valverde would have ever been seen in Detroit again.
We all saw the bullpen issues coming, and it will be a continuing source of nervousness for the rest of the season unless some of those prospects we have on the farm go for a good closer before the trade deadline.  There isn't a lot of help out there though, so what we have may be all we get.  Thankfully, the Jose Valverde experiment seems to be over, although he did accept assignment to Toledo, so he could still get back.  I hope not - he just doesn't seem to have it any more.

A lot of people think Jim Leyland is the biggest problem with this team, but honestly I don't see it.  I remember people were critical of Sparky Anderson when he managed here, too. Sparky was one of the best of all time and got flamed a whole lot in Detroit.  I'm not saying Leyland is in Sparky's league, but he sure is getting the same treatment.  But people were wrong about Sparky and they are just as wrong about Leyland.

Zimmerman is guilty because...

I had no particular desire to post about George Zimmerman today, or any other day for that matter.  I have not actively sought out news about him, but you can hardly miss the headlines, and occasionally I stumble across something about him in articles I am reading for other reasons.  Such was the case today, when I was reading a talk radio summary published on WND.com.  They were talking about how Michael Savage has passed Rush Limbaugh in listenership this week because of the high number of internet listeners he has.  Then they talked about Savage's conclusion that Zimmerman is guilty because his gun had the safety off and a round in the chamber, and therefore Zimmerman was out looking for a violent confrontation.

It is this kind of willful ignorance that keeps me from taking Michael Savage seriously.  Honestly, I want to, because I love his passion and the unconventional viewpoints he takes on the issues of the day.  But I also see him make careless and uninformed mistakes that shade him toward the crackpot side of the spectrum for me.  So let's explore Dr. Savage's conclusion.

By all accounts, the pistol that Zimmerman used was a KelTec PF-9.  Here's a picture of one:

From the KelTec Website:
The PF-9 is a semi-automatic, locked breech pistol, chambered for the 9mm Luger cartridge. It has been developed from our highly successful P-11 and P-3AT pistols with maximum concealability in mind. The PF-9 has a single stack magazine holding 7 rounds. It is one of the lightest and flattest 9 mm ever made. Firing mechanism is Double-Action Only with an automatic hammer block safety.
A cursory look at this picture gives us the first indication of Dr. Savage's ignorance.  There is no external safety anywhere on this gun!  For those reading this that don't know anything about firearms, that little tab above the center of the grip, where you might think a safety would be, is the slide release lever, which automatically holds the slide open when you have fired the last round, or can be manually engaged if necessary. You have to push it down to release the slide from the locked position.  The hammer block safety mentioned in the description is an internal safety which only releases when the trigger is pulled a specific distance, and is there to keep the gun from going off if it is dropped.  So there was no safety there for Zimmerman to turn off, because the gun wasn't made with one.

While visiting the KelTec website, I also looked at the pictures and descriptions of all their pistols to see if any of them did in fact have an external safety.  There are three listed that do, two of which have barrel lengths in excess of nine inches and are not concealable with anything less than a trench coat, and one which is a .22 Magnum - not even close the the caliber (9mm Luger) that police say was used in the shooting.  The three other pistols manufactured by KelTec do not have external safeties.

It should be noted that many of the most popular carry pistols today do not have external safeties.  So again, applying Dr. Savage's logic, thousands upon thousands of Americans are out on the streets every day looking to have a violent encounter because they bought a pistol that has no external safety.  That's like saying a gun is an assault rifle because it's painted black.  It is utter foolishness.

Dr. Savage then goes further into ignorance by concluding that carrying your gun with a round in the chamber means you are looking for a violent confrontation.  If this is true, then a very large percentage of people who carry a pistol, either openly or concealed (which includes police officers, by the way), are actually looking for a violent confrontation every day.  Why?  Because they consider it normal to carry their weapon with a round in the chamber, and would consider any other method foolish.  They take steps to carry it that way safely (they aren't stupid, after all), but they know that if you need that pistol, you are going to need it immediately, and even the second it would take to rack the slide to chamber a round could mean the difference between going home or going to the morgue.  That is the simple choice.  But Dr. Savage would label them all as looking for trouble every time they carry their gun with a round in the chamber.  That conclusion doesn't pass the sniff test either, Doc.

I don't know if Zimmerman is guilty or not.  From the little I have heard and read of the trial, the case is pretty weak, but that remains for the jury to decide.  I do know that Zimmerman was colossally stupid in the way he handled himself in the first few weeks after the shooting, and brought a lot more trouble onto himself than he had to.  He should have lawyered up and shut up.