Saturday, December 27, 2014

NYPD Police Officer Funeral Today

I was at a small family gathering today with a bunch of relatives I don't get to see very often (and some who, because of their age, I may never see again).  At the restaurant there were a few TV's hanging in corners, and one of them had CNN coverage of the funeral of one of the NYPD officers assassinated this past week.  I was trying to keep my head in the conversations at the table rather than watching the TV, when I caught sight of Shotgun Joe Biden speaking there, shortly followed by Red Bill DiBlasio, the marxist mayor of NYC and chief apologist for the assassin. 

I was very surprised that these two men, who have done more to promote racial disharmony over the last few years than anyone this side of the Sharpton/Jackson syndicate, were even allowed into the building, let alone given a microphone.

I feel very sorry for the wife and family of this slain officer.  They, and their loved one, deserved better than these two clowns at this ceremony. 

I noted that many officers from departments other than NYPD continued turning their backs in disgust on DiBlasio.  Good for them.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Gubenatorial La-La Land

I read with interest the articles in the papers yesterday reporting on Governor Snyder (RINO-MI) and his assertion that the driving public is clamoring for his new 1.2 Billion dollar gas tax hike.

Well Gov. Snyder, here is at least one Michigan voter who is most emphatically NOT clamoring for your latest tax increase.  You have consistently hiked taxes and fees on all kinds of things over the last four years, but you haven't done one thing to decrease the size and scope of state government over those four years.  More agencies, more projects, the bridge to nowhere, on and on the list goes.  Big Government Rick has never seen a state program he didn't want to expand.

Now, before my readers think I am a complete left-wing loon (which would be silly since left-wing loons *like* big government) I am not going to launch into some anti-capitalist, anti-business screed criticizing his business tax cuts.  That was necessary and needed to be done, and all you hand-wringers out there who think it unfair need to understand what the real engine of the economy is, and it isn't an ever-expanding government full of social programs.

I do, however, expect the Governor to understand (and not violate) basic laws of economics, one of which is "you can't tax your way to prosperity".  He seems to have not gotten the memo on that one.

Look, I'm as frustrated by the state of Michigan roads as the next guy, but laying another tax hike on the backs of already stretched Michiganders is not the way to fix the problem.  If you want to re-allocate how some tax monies are distributed - go for it.  Certainly downsize departments and stop or delay non-imperative projects within those departments and redirect that money toward roads.  There are a host of things you could do without raising taxes one penny, and you have majorities in both houses to get it implemented.

Yes, you would have all kinds of special interests whining and complaining about how the world would end if we don't build that bike trail from Iron Mountain to Escanaba, but don't you think it would be a real feather in your cap if you could say at the end of the day that you got those billions of dollars to fix the roads without raising taxes?  If you do indeed have aspirations to national office, that would be a huge card to play, wouldn't it?

Monday, November 03, 2014

Alan Trammell returning to Tigers

Just read this in the paper. Returning as Special Assistant to the GM. 

There aren't many players who embody what being a Detroit Tiger means, but Tram is one of them. I couldn't be happier for him to be back with this organization. Good on the Tigers for picking him up. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Random Thought: Nations

Is anyone besides me tired of every team or group having a "Nation" of followers?  "Spartan Nation", "Bulldog Nation", this Nation and that Nation and the other Nation. 


Thus endeth the rant.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

State Senator Elbert Guillory's new anti-Landrieu ad: A Good Thing?

The headlines read "Democrat turned Republican lambastes Landrieu", or words to that effect.  Louisiana State Senator Elbert Guillory has produced an ad in support of Landrieu's Republican opponent in the U.S. Senate race in Louisiana, and it has gone viral on the internet. Republicans are all excited about it because, it seems, a black man has seen the light and come out from the evil empire of the Democrat party.

But as I listened to Guillory's ad, and to his subsequent interview with Neil Cavuto on Fox News, it seemed that Guillory had only changed his party and not his stripes.  I heard the same old class warfare cliches, victim-speak, and big-government rhetoric we hear all the time from the Dems, just repackaged and redirected toward a Dem.

Friends, the answers that the black community seeks are the same ones that the white community seeks, that the hispanic community seeks, that the asian community seeks, and thus are not specific to any community or other labeled group that seeks to elevate itself over others.  The answer will look different depending on the person, but it will be comprised of the same elements.  Among these are:
  • Responsibility - being responsible for yourself and those who depend on you, rather than expecting others to take care of you.  This includes things like self-control, self-discipline, self-respect, and respecting others. It also means not taking from others what you can provide for yourself.  The level also increases as your standing increases, that is, the better you do the more responsibility you are going to have to have.
  • Work Ethic - working hard at whatever you are doing, whether it's bagging groceries, sweeping floors, pouring concrete, or writing software.  Do your work and take pride in doing it right.  The reward is in the doing, but the other rewards will come too.
So, Sen. Guillory, I agree with you when you say Mary Landrieu is not representing her constituents well, but please understand - a Republican welfare state and a Republican class war is just as vile and despicable as the Democrat versions we have been force fed since the 1960's.  We must disband the welfare state and get past the class warfare in order to advance American society, not just putting a new wrapper on the old one and calling it good.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Sandy Hook: It was those damned homeschoolers

An article in the Connecticut Post is describing the conclusions reached by a commission appointed by Gov. Dannel Malloy to investigate the shooting.  And, as would be expected, the answer is:  More government, less freedom, and less privacy, in the form of greater scrutiny of homeschoolers.

May I remind readers of the following massacres that were committed by young people already under the observation and influence of public educators and the state:

  • On March 21, 2005, Red Lake Senior High School student Jeffrey Weise killed five students, one teacher, one security guard, and then committed suicide.
  • On April 20, 1999, Columbine High School students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12 students and one teacher, and wounded 21 others before committing suicide.
  • On March 5, 2001, student Charles Andrew Williams killed two students and wounding 13 others at Santana High School in California.
  • On February 27, 2012, TJ Lane walked into the Chardon High School cafeteria and fired into a group of students sitting at a lunch table. Three students died in the attack. His “emotional disability” was such that he wore a t-shirt with “Killer” scrawled on it to his sentencing.
How did all that government scrutiny work out for those people?  All that oversight?  All those rules, regulations, and procedures?  All those professionals?  Yeah, that's what I thought.  But more of that stuff that doesn't work is somehow the answer in Connecticut.

Dear readers, the government cannot save you or protect you from an evil person who is committed to performing an evil act upon others, as all these incidents show.  The wise person takes steps to protect and defend himself and those he is responsible for from these evildoers.  This very expensive report isn't worth the paper it's printed on.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Lake Freighters

One of the coolest things about living in Michigan is our Merchant Marine.  Well, I guess we kind of co-own them with Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, Illinois, and Ontario.

Regardless of who actually owns them, the sight of them gliding over the big lakes or through the Detroit or St. Marys rivers is one of the most impressive things you will ever see.

Today, I stumbled across this YouTube video about one of the biggest on the lakes - the Paul R. Tregurtha.  It's a full 45 minutes long, but it gives you an inside look at one of these behemoths.  I also found it funny that the Captain looks like someone you would meet in deer camp, not on the bridge of a 1000-footer.

So, here she is:

Saturday, July 12, 2014

2014 ID4 Match at CCRC

ID4 is an annual match held at my club, and this year I took my daughter to shoot in it:
It's similar to an NRA High-Power match, I guess.  The course of fire is:
  1. 10 rounds plus 2 sighters in 10 minutes, Prone position.
  2. 10 rounds in 2 minutes, Prone.
  3. 10 rounds in 10 minutes, Offhand position, no sling.
All of these are shot at 200 yards, no optical sights or shooting coats, but shooting gloves are allowed. 

There are several classifications based on what era your rifle comes from:
  • Early Wars - 45/70 Springfield or other single-shot military.  Even flintlocks!
  • WW I - 30/40 Krag, Springfield 03, etc.
  • WW II: Springfield 03-A3, M1 Garand, M1 Carbine, and I saw some Mausers in there too (6.5 Swedes mostly).
  • You can shoot an AR, but you would only shoot for score, and not be eligible for any prizes.
Lauren was the only girl there, and one of two 'yutes.  She was high youth, scoring 222 1X (out of 300) with a borrowed M1 Carbine she had never shot before. She even got a plaque, although it was the "Early Wars" plaque, since there were no competitors in that classification.  So they considered the word "Early" to mean "Youth" in this instance.  That was darn nice of them I thought.  She was 10th out of the 13 shooters there, overall.

No, I didn't shoot, as I don't have a rifle that fits in those categories that I have ammo for.  I need to get one of my two Krags working and shoot that someday!

Thanks to Bob Steketee for running the match today, and to CCRC for sponsoring it, and letting the Youth shoot for free.  And to Dale, who I think is from the Brighton area, for letting us use his M1 Carbine.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

This Post is for you, Murphy's Law

We were picking up and dropping off kids at camps today, and we visited the USS Silversides museum in Muskegon, MI. I'm also posting the pictures from my iPod Touch, to show it can be done from an Apple device. 

Sorry, no inside pictures. I was busy explaining how the different parts of a submarine work to my wife and daughter. They were amazed at the size of the heads, and how cramped everything was. And laughing at 6'3" me getting through the hatches between compartments. 

Conning tower. 

From the bow, facing aft. 

From the stern, facing forward.  Notice the fog coming in off of Lake Michigan at about 1:30pm. It was probably 78 degrees and sunny, but the wind was out of the northwest and coming in off the lake. Kind of cool to watch, it didn't make it very far onshore. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Michigan Politicians and how to Fix the Roads

The big news story out of Lansing this week centers around road repair funding, and how to pay to fill in all the extra potholes and repair the crumbling roads that were created by the long, hard, cold winter here in Michigan. 

Most of the smoke and fire centered around the gasoline tax, and how it is inadequate to fund the couple of billion dollars needed to do everything that needs to be done.  Michigan has a flat 15-cents per gallon gas tax (in addition to what the feds charge us) which is decried as a decreasing pot since cars today are so much more fuel efficient, thus using less gas.  One proposal is to repeal that flat tax and replace it with a 15% wholesale gasoline surcharge, so the higher the wholesale price goes, the more tax revenue it (supposedly) churns out.

The other plan that has gotten a lot of churn is one to repeal the gas tax all together and add an extra percent to the state sales tax.

After debating these and other proposals, and all kinds of wheeling and dealing, the pols left for their summer break without doing anything of any substance.  To me, this was the best of all possible outcomes for Michigan taxpayers.

I am as frustrated by the decrepit state of the roads here as the next guy, but I am more frustrated by a political class that is unwilling to do anything but add to the tax burden of an already over-taxed populace.  The hand of government at all levels keeps reaching deeper and deeper into the pockets of its citizens for more and more "necessary" or "compassionate" projects, or "investments in our future" that never seem to pay off, but always seem to require more money than originally projected.

To all you takers in Lansing I say enough!  I say if you want to fix the roads, then cut  some new park that you want to build, or office allowances for legislators, or taxpayer-funded junkets to "open up new markets", or any combination of a hundred things you could cut if you really thought about it for, oh, five minutes or so. 

The other important thing for you economic illiterates over there to consider is this:  one of the axioms of economics is if you want less of something, tax it.  So while the dollar signs keep rolling before your eyes, consider that if you increase the gas tax, you will get less driving because nobody can afford the gas to do anything but drive to work every day.  Those dollars are not going to roll in, and in two years, when you realize it, you will be back in our pockets again wanting even more.

So good for you, legislators, for doing nothing.  It's the best thing you could have done for all of us.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Zapping batteries

Among the several projects I had set for myself while at my in-laws during the holiday weekend was to "zap" the NiCd batteries from my two cordless drills.

There are dozens of YouTube videos on how to do this, using everything from a Mig welder to another battery.  My dead batteries were 14.4 volt, and I used a 19.2 volt battery that my father-in-law had laying around doing nothing.

The first thing I had to do was determine the positive and negative contacts on the battery, since they weren't marked.  I used a multi-tester for that (YouTube is your friend on that one, too!)

I took the multitester and checked the voltage being delivered from the dead battery.  It was about 7 volts.

Once that was done I hooked the negative terminals from both batteries together.  Then I put the wire onto the positive terminal of the 19.2 battery, then used the other end an just touched the positive terminal of the dead battery 10 or 12 times.  Each touch was about a half-second each.

I then tested the voltage delivery again, and it was now around 15 volts.  That was a very positive sign.

Then I put it in the charger.  Before when I tried to charge it, the charger told me the battery was faulty.  Now, it began charging.  Another very positive sign.  So I repeated the process on the other three batteries I had and got similar results.  So it really does work.  For how long I don't know, but for a little while at least I don't have to buy new batteries for two otherwise functional drills.

A couple of things I found while doing this project:
  • Don't let the ends of the wires from the source battery touch.  All kinds of heat and smoke will result.  Ask me how I know.
  • Apparently, the source battery has to be of a higher voltage than the dead battery. I did see one video where someone used a car battery for zapping and it seemed to work, but most of the videos said you need a higher voltage.
  • Two of my batteries had two terminals and two of them had four.  As long as you find positive and negative it doesn't seem to matter which ones you use.
  • For the wires, I used some test leads I found, which had alligator clips on the ends and they worked nicely because the terminals on the batteries were blade-types.  If you don't have blade type terminals you will have to get creative with your wiring.  The test leads weren't very heavy duty.  If I were using the welder I probably would have wanted to use heavier wire.
  • One video had some separate wires he connected to the dead batteries terminals rather than touching them with the wires directly connected to the source battery.  Sometimes this will generate sparks and it can damage the terminals, which means you will have some touch-up work to do after zapping. Touching the wires rather than directly touching the battery terminals makes sure this doesn't happen.

Home on the Range: Steampunked - ePostal Match Time

Home on the Range: Steampunked - ePostal Match Time

This looks like fun - I think the kids and I are going to try this one!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Suburban Skunks

So the Mrs. and I went grocery shopping last night about 10pm (our only free time available to do it!), and as I was making a trip through the garage to bring in another armload I noticed movement in the driveway.  Another two steps and it was confirmed - a skunk was waddling up my driveway heading for my side yard.  I quickly grabbed the remainder of the groceries in the trunk, took them inside, and closed the garage door.  He didn't seem interested in coming in the garage, but I didn't want to take any chances of coming out to a trapped skunk in there this morning!

I'm really not liking skunks in my neighborhood, and they are more and more frequent visitors.  The problem is - you can't shoot them to get rid of them.  They don't live in my yard so I can't trap them and take them somewhere else.  They probably smell my compost pile, but they are in other parts of the neighborhood too, so it isn't just me they are attracted to.

They seem to be nocturnal, as my other encounters with them have been at night also.  I guess that's both good and bad, since in the dark you don't really know they are there until you are right on top of them, but you aren't out in the yard much after dark, either, so your chances of an encounter are reduced.

Wish I knew of a repellant.  I would spread it around my yard!

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Facebook app suckage

Just a vent post tonight. I have the Facebook app on my iTouch, and this must be the worst app in the world. Why? It always crashes on my first attempt to load it, and even if it does load it crashes when you try to scroll through posts, or it crashes when you try to follow a link in a post. Or it crashes when you try to reply to a post. It is a crashomatic. 

Of course, there is no way to send feedback to Facebook about their app, and it would probably crash too if you tried. 

I'm ready to dump Facebook altogether. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Question of the Day: Freedom.

This question was posed as part of a discussion I was reading today, and it really struck me:

I don't know....I think the cold war definitions of freedom and oppression may no longer be valid. Are Americans truly "free" with Obama as president? Being able to cast a vote doesn't make anyone free. being able to make and keep money and be unmolested in your daily life by the machinations of government is being free. If we actually measured "our freedom" against other people in other countries I think most Americans would totally shocked.
Thoughts anyone?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Oklahoma Sheriffs Visiting State Capitol Ordered to Disarm

This from "The Blaze" (Source Article)

Wagoner County Sheriff Bob Colbert traveled to Oklahoma City, the state’s capitol, earlier this week with 40 other sheriffs from around the state like they do every year — to meet with politicians and lobby.

Everything was going fine in the state capitol building on Tuesday. More than that, “everybody in that building knew who we were,” Colbert told KTUL-TV in Tulsa.

“One of the senators, who they wouldn’t tell us, complained because we were armed in the building,” Colbert added to the station.

Then he said the sheriffs were given a choice — disarm or leave.

“So we all packed up and left,” Colbert told KTUL.

Colbert said he doesn’t know which senator complained, but he has his own beefs about the treatment he and his associates received.

“We’re the people that protect these people,” he told KTUL.

In addition, Colbert said politicians should be more concerned about improving state business than law enforcement officers who happen to be carrying guns.

“If the state troopers are satisfied that we’re OK in that building,” he told KTUL, “I’m pretty sure that the legislators should have something else to worry about such as the economy or something.”

While Colbert acknowledged that some lawmakers have called to apologize about the incident, the insult will be felt for a while.

“Pretty sad day for me,” he told KTUL.

BizPac Review noted that a different account of the incident was reported in The Oklahoman, a paper which serves Oklahoma City.

When the sheriffs entered the Senate gallery, “the sergeant at arms asked the sheriffs to take off their guns or leave the building,” the Oklahoman said. “But a state Senate official says the sheriffs were only questioned briefly before being allowed back into the Senate gallery, still wearing their service weapons.”
I have a couple of comments on this:

  1. Sheriff Colbert, I hope this opens your eyes to the state of things for millions of law-abiding gun owners every day who are forced, under penalty of law, to disarm themselves before going into places like churches, restaurants, government offices, post offices, and yes, even State Capitol buildings, because the presence of that gun on their hip is somehow "threatening", even though no one can see it.  
  2. Sheriff Colbert also needs to educate himself about the legalities of his statement "we're the people who protect these people".  In fact Sheriff, the Supreme Court has ruled this is not true, and you have no legal duty to protect anyone. (Castle Rock v. Gonzales, DeShaney v. Winnebago County). You may have one in your own ethos, but that is not a legal matter.
  3. Someone needs to out the Senator who complained.  I suggest looking for the one who has a package of adult diapers in their office.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Sunday Symposium

Sitting in the Music Building at Alma College today, where my daughter is attending a Woodwind Symposium for Flutes, Saxophones, and Clarinets.  Her teacher, Dr. Miller, is one of the presenters today.  She was pretty excited about coming, and it was by invitation so there are only a half-dozen of each instrument here, making for lots of individual attention for everyone.

Dr. Miller is also going to talk about performance anxiety this afternoon.  This is what she did her doctoral dissertation on so she should have some good information to pass along to everyone.  I'm planning to attend that one!

I am grateful that we are able to provide these kinds of experiences for our kids - they may well have had them when I was her age, but I was never interested in pursuing them the way they are.  I wish I would have been!

We had a snowy drive up this morning, as another inch or so fell overnight.  Road crews were out, and I was able to average about 60MPH, with very light traffic.  The Camry handled it well, but I realized when I got up here that I hadn't transferred my snow brush from the old car yet, so I went and bought a cheap scraper after dropping Lauren off, just in case.  Of course, now the sun is out, and I probably won't need it, but it's good to have it anyway.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Sochi Olympics

Gee, the winter Olympics start today.  I can feel a huge wave of indifference rising up within me.  I have decided that I will not be watching any of these games on TV or internet.  They may come up in headlines that I see in the various publications I read, but I will not read the articles, or watch video replays.

I did read the article this morning about 3 of the media hotels not being finished yet, and was humored.  That may well be the extent of my reading unless the Chechens get restive.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

The Great Debate: Ham v. Nye

So I watched with great interest the live stream of the debate tonight between Bill Nye ("The Science Guy") and Ken Ham (Answers in Genesis).  I may get into more details and specific thoughts later, but I have some first impressions that I thought I would post.

The question the two gentlemen were debating was this:  "Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern, scientific era?"

Frankly, no debate like this has a winner or a loser - it is always a platform to try to promote your own viewpoint or your own agenda.  In that sense it was just as you might have expected.  I can report that neither Ham nor Nye had an epiphany and converted to the other side.

As my blog headings indicate, I am a Christian, and so you might guess what my rooting interest is in this debate, but in this post I'm mostly thinking about my impressions of the men themselves and how they handled the debate, rather than anything specific about their position on the topic being debated.

I was actually impressed by Bill Nye.  He has received great criticism from what he called the "mainstream science community" for even showing up for this debate, and I half expected him to be something of the vile lunatic that Richard Dawkins has been, and I was pleasantly surprised - he was affable, polite, and even respectful.  I give you full marks there, Mr. Nye.

However, it was very obvious from the start that Nye could not for an instant admit that anything "scientific" could come from a creationist viewpoint, or his entire argument would collapse.  Even when Ham offered up such trivial names as Sir Isaac Newton or Michael Faraday, or even Dr. Raymond Damadian (inventor of the MRI), Nye could not admit that anything good or useful could ever come from creationist scientists.  He kept asserting that there was nothing of a "predictive nature" that comes from creationism - that you can't take the tenets of creationism and say that "based on these things being true, that thing will happen".  Ham continued to give examples, but Nye wouldn't hear or acknowledge them.  This condescension got a little annoying after a while.

In some ways, Ken Ham was disappointing.  Even though he has been a public speaker for decades on these topics, he is not a very polished speaker.  His speech is sometimes halting, sometimes stumbling, and sometimes hard to follow.  I would have thought that with all the practice he has gotten he would have been better at this.  Nye certainly came off better in that area of the debate.  Ham made his points and got his message across, but Nye was much more polished.

I found myself wanting more details about all the points that were being made, that would have made things a whole lot clearer, especially when they were talking about radiometric dating, or about increasing complexity in organisms over time.  So all I really got was a 10,000 foot flyover on this topic, rather than anything to really sink my teeth into, and in that sense it was kind of disappointing.  I guess I wanted a more knock-down, drag-out than I got!  But as I said earlier - no debate like this is won or lost.  It's just a platform.

Finally, the moderator.  If you've ever watched a Presidential debate, the moderator is as much of a player as the debaters (see Candy Crowley), often to the detriment of one or the other side of the debate.  Tom Foreman, of CNN, was tonights moderator, and he did an excellent job of staying out of the way and letting the two principals have at it.  He injected just the right amount of lightness and humor and did a fine job.  Frankly, when I saw he was from CNN I was saying to myself "uh-oh!".  But kudos to you, too, Mr. Foreman.  You did a fine job.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

"He picked the wrong house in the wrong neighborhood"

Well this just crossed my inbox, and I thought I would share it.

This video forcefully and pointedly answers the questions "Why do you need a gun?" and "Why do you need more than 10 rounds?"