Friday, April 27, 2007

The Curse of The Fox - Drive to be Cancelled

Checking Fox's Drive website you see the following message: Final 2 Episodes to Air This Summer Stay Tuned.

Fox strikes yet again killing another great show before it gains its footing.

Let's see - Drive, Firefly, and so many more.

Sigh, bother and damn.

The curse of the Fox strikes again. Hopefully there is a clause somwhere in the show's contract that lets a more appreciative channel take it over.

Its pretty much confirmed that it is cancelled- see this wonderfully scathing reporting on Fox's latest folly - an article with which I agree 100%.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Excellent new fraud prevention service by Oakland County Register of Deeds

With Mortgage Fraud now on the rise as the housing spree cools down, and with Michigan as one of the top ten leading states for fraud (another fact this State can be "proud" of), Oakland County has taken a welcome and proactive step to help fight this kind of fraud.

As reported in the Oakland Press, The County Clerk's office is offering a free online service where residents of the county can check if there has been any filings made on their property.

Residents can go to Fraudcheck, enter their information and get a listing of documents filed on their property.

Excellent work on the part of Oakland County Clerk Ruth Johnson. Hopefully other counties will follow her lead in helping to prevent this insidious type of fraud.

Michigan's State Flower in Full Bloom

And a flower of terrible beauty it is.

It is a perennial flower, impervious to rain, snow, harsh weather conditions and rough soils. Practically unkillable with no known natural predators, where one is somehow destroyed, dozens more spring up in its place.

Popping up everywhere in Michigan with a vicious fecundity, this flower brings with it encumberances as everywhere traffic snarls while people ponder its terrible beauty and portent-laden meaning.

The Michigan state flower of course looks like this:

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Detroit's Jewish Presence and History Memorialized

The City of Detroit has a Jewish presence dating back to 1762.

As reported in the Detroit Free Press, this presence has now been memorialized with a historical marker on the shoreline near the Renaissance Center.

After more than 200 years, Chapman Abraham touched ground along the Detroit River once again on Monday.

This time, the fur trader who was Detroit's first Jewish settler arrived at Tri-Centennial State Park just east of the Renaissance Center in the form of a gold-and-green Michigan Historic Site marker that workers installed on the shoreline.

Come Sunday afternoon, a couple of costumed voyageurs will cruise up to the site in a canoe to illustrate what it might have looked like when Abraham landed in 1762.

"On Sunday, we're celebrating ways that the Jewish community has been active in Detroit," Ellen Cole, president of the Jewish Historical Society of Michigan, said as she prepared for the events that are expected to draw hundreds of people to the riverfront.

On the other side of the marker that honors Chapman Abraham there's a description of the Jewish families who sent men to serve in the Civil War, Cole said.

Impressively, as reported in the article, Jews from Detroit disproportionately contributed soldiers to the Union cause in the civil war, with 150 families sending 188 men.

An interesting story of historical interest well reported by the Detroit Free Press.

Beating a Train is a Fool's Game

Trying to save a few minutes by ignoring the gates and trying to beat a train thorugh a rail crossing is simply not smart. For a few minutes saved you're risking being struck by a multi-ton speeding train that cannot stop on a time as a matter of simple physics.

Sadly, as Reported in the Detroit Free Press this driver found out this wasn't smart the hard way:
Pontiac police said a 56-year-old Pontiac woman died Tuesday evening when she tried to beat a passing train with her vehicle on the city’s east side.

Etoi Houston was killed after her Dodge Dakota stalled on railroad tracks at the intersection of Sanford Street and South Boulevard and an Amtrak train struck her car, said Pontiac Police Chief Val Gross.
. . .
Gross said witnesses told police the car went around the crossing gates and tried to beat the train before it crossed. He said the train dragged the car for about a quarter mile before a conductor was able to stop at Paddock and Woodward.
Be smart and don't try to outrun a multi-ton behemoth just so you can get to where you want to go a few minutes faster. The time saved by such foolishness just isn't worth your life.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Excellent Analysis of Armed Citizen Defense to Mass Shootings and Media Undercoverage

At the Classically Liberal Blog there is an excellent analysis of media coverage (in this case the lack therof) of how armed civillians helped stop ongoing mass shootings.

To have it most simply put, the killers do not stop killing until someone with a gun arrives to stop them. Having someone with a gun at the location, able to respond dramatically cuts down on the killers ability to assault more potential victims as the killer has much less time than would be otherwise available to him - i.e. while the police are informed, respond and finally react to the situation.

Read the descriptions of the incidents on Classically Liberal, then question why there is a clear lack of coverage of these heroes who helped stop the mass-kilers from continuing their attack.

Granholm's China Hypocrisy

Or simply Politics as usual

After lambasting Dick DeVos when he was running against her for the governorship of Michigan for daring to have opened a factory in China (a condition of doing business there) as the head of Amway-Alticore, and raising accusations that DeVos was up to outsourcing jobs from Michigan and being cozy with China, Granholm goes forth to do the same thing.

As reported in the Detroit news article Meet China's new friend: Granholm
The Michigan Economic Development Corp. announced this week that it plans an investment mission to China later this month. It has the full support of Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who was last seen running re-election ads complaining that her opponent's former company sold teddy bears made in China. And she criticized Michigan-based Alticor for locating a factory in China, which is a legal requirement for any American company that wants to sell in the country with the world's largest population. That was then; this is now: "We are working aggressively in China to sell Michigan as the best place in North America to do business and attract new jobs to the state," Granholm said in a statement. If only she had been so forthright during the campaign.

Indeed, but after all that's politics as usual, smear your opponent for something you are about to do yourself. granholm will of course argue she's pushing to have China invest here rather than Amway opening up the Chinese market to a Michigan corporation's products, but that rings hollow as both would lead to a better economic situation for Michigan, a state that both needs investment here, and a place for its corporations to do business elsewhere.

Monday, April 23, 2007

NBC's Irresponsible Airing of VTU killer's tape

Rather than devoting the majority of its airtime to the victims of the killer at Virginia Technical University, instead NBC and with the rest of themediapiling on gave massive coverage of the killer's video taped ranting.

While the killer may have created this massacre and video as the ultimate post-modern English project, there is no excuse for NBC to broadcast his rantings, as they held no real information of value.

The problem is the glorification by notoriety of these deranged mass shooters.

Quick, now without googling/wiki'ing do the following:

1. Name the killer at VTU

2. Now, name the victims.

1. Name the killers at Columbine

2. Now name the victims

3. Name the killer at Thurston High in Oregon

4. Now, name the victims.

How did you do? Remember more of the killers names than their innocent victims? Why - due to the incessant media coverage of these sociopaths, and concordantundercoverage of their victim's lives.

While the media itself is not responsible for these killings, certainly the massive coverage of them is leading to copycats, especially among the deranged seeking their claim to fame.

It would be far better if the names of the killers were reviled and suffered damnatio
(a total eradication from memory) and not given the publicity they clearly craved and instead focus on the innocents who were killed. While it won't stop all, it may stop those who believe that this act of mayhem is the key to fame and publicity.

Providing such publicity sends the message to these deranged individuals that the
way to achieve fame is to go out while taking as many people with you as possible in order to knock Don Imus out of the news and to get attention. Since these killers seem to think its "all about me and my greivances" real, or imagined, the message that if you go and kill enough people you'll get a massive airing of your delusions and dislikes is not a message that the media should send.

Dive Report Saturday and Sunday

Diving in a wetsuit is much more pleasant when the sun is shining.

Saturday and Sunday both had excellent weathe - sunshine and temps in the 76 degree F plus range. The water was also a bit warmer at around 45-46 degrees, and that made all the diffefence in the dives comfort-wise.

On Saturday the dive went well - I did the basic 5 skills (1. reg out & in; 2. reg out, change, clip off and reverse; 3. Long hose deployment; 4. mask flood and clear; and 5. mask removal, replacement and clear). The buoyancy was getting better, but still plenty to work on.

And on Sunday it all went to hell. It was Earth Day and the divers go out and clear trash off the bottom of the lake. The plan was to do a dive working on the buoyancy skills, then make our way back picking up trash as we went.

It did not work out that way.

Sunday started off decent, get in the water, swim out and quickly lose sight of everybody in the silt, which after not nearly enough time looking, I surfaced. This was a sign and I should have understood right then that the dive was not going to get any better.

So off we went and at the designated spot I began the basic skills while hovering. Skills 1 and 2 went ok, with being a little too buoyant from taking too deep a breath.

Skill 3 began well enough - reg out, full longhose deployment, and as I went to switch back and stow the hose it all went to hell in the prverbial handbasket. I began a really wicked out of control spin towards the surface (we're talking full 360 degree circles here). With thoughts of WTF? Oh F!, oh F!, Oh F-ity F! (this is a family audience blog so I'll keep the exact transcript censored), I kept heading up, spinning all the way, dumping air like hell from the wing, finally I was able to get it under control and descended back down.

We called the dive shortly thereafter, cause it was not going to get any better, not to mention that all those gyrations caused me to go through air like crazy, dropping me down to turnaround pressure much too quickly.

Lessons learned - I suck at hovering, while ok during movement. As my instructor said, even a trained monkey can be neutral while moving, to which I reply - "oo, oo, oo, eek eek eek!"

More practice, lots more practice is needed, as this precision buoyancy stuff ain't easy, no matter how easy they make it look. The plus side, for the first time this dive season I was at a comfortable temperature both in the water and on departure.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Dive Report - stating the obvious: 41 degree water in a wetsuit is cold!

So last night I went Scuba diving with my fellow DIR scuba divers in Union Lake, Michigan. All of them wore drysuits while I continued on with my humble Henderson Hyperstretch 7mm Farmer John Wetsuit. Some of the divers were looking at me quizzically at my sanity to dive wet, some admiringly at my endurance and fortitude, and others pityingly as they adjusted their drysuit seals before we proceeded in.

The water was a balmy 41 degrees Fahrenheit. i.e. as soon as I stepped in the reaction was "Yeouch that's cold". followed by "I really need a drysuit for this". Thankfully with the wetsuit it was bearable and I went on with the dive.

Visibility was very good for Union Lake with the viz exceeding 6 feet. Plenty of sunken boats to see each of which had a story many of such I suspect most likely had alcohol involved in one form or another. In addition to the boats there was other assorted stuff on the bottom, including the remains of a Model T Ford.

The downside to wearing so much neoprene is that after the suit compresses as you descend, on the way back up when you ascend to about 15 feet, the bubbles in the neoprene expand and make you very buoyant very quickly, which makes it hard to maintain your depth.

On getting out of the water I experienced the other significant downside to the wetsuit - it was darn cold. The ambient air temperature was similarly in the low 40s and I had a little shivering going on as I fevereshly jumped in my car, set the heater to full blast and changed. Luckily I followed the advice of both Terry and Lagniappe's keeper and poured a thermos of hot water into my wetsuit after I left the water but before I started to change - it helped a lot.

Not a bad dive, but as is the case for this time of year, getting out of the water in a wetsuit simply sucks. On the plus side, the diving practice is paying off and I'm getting better at my buoyancy control - if I cna hack it in the 40s, the 60s and 70s water temps of summer will be feeling positively tropical.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Obama, Edwards snub Fox and Detroit to play to their base

In the Washington Post Obama to Skip Fox-Sponsored Debate its reported that both Barak Obama and John Edwards are not going to attend the Democratic presidential debate sponsored by Fox and the Congressional Black Congress (hardly a stronghold of the right) to be held in Detroit (Detroit is a liberal stronghold).
Democrats have been under pressure from liberal activists to avoid Fox-hosted debates. . . . Democratic critics complain that the network displays a conservative bias in its news broadcasts.
yeesh, its democratic debate, its not even going to have any republiucans participate, whats the complaint?

Barak's representative gave the following non-explanation:
Obama, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, will take part in a different debate hosted by the CBC Institute and CNN in January.

"CNN seemed like a more appropriate host," Obama spokesman Bill Burton said.
Nice to see acknowledgement of CNN's liberal bias by the left, but this banning of Fox from hosting Democratic Party debates is petty and vindictive at best, and kow-towing to the far-left nutroots in an effort to make a few cheap political percentage points in the presidential primary race at worst.

Let's see if Hillary Clinton follows the trend or defies the complainers and shows up on Fox, debates and gets her message across.

Update: Ah, that was quick, Clinton, not one to dissappoint expectations when it comes to playing to the base, showed the same level of courage as her fellow candidates and is also skipping the debate: As reported in the Washington Post
Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.) yesterday joined former North Carolina senator John Edwards (D) in deciding to skip a debate scheduled for September that Fox News is co-sponsoring with the Congressional Black Caucus.

Liberal activists, particularly the online group, have called for Democratic presidential candidates not to participate in debates by Fox

Michigan Dems upset about AG's Proposed Gym make a Mountain out of a Treadmill

Much Dem ado about fitness, signifying how petty Michigan politics continues to be.

The Detroit Free Press Reports in Gym pumps up anger of Dems, that the Democrats are in a tizzy as Attorney General Michael Cox has plans to install a fitness center in the Attorney General's Headquarter's office in Lansing.
But it's Democrats who are exercised over Attorney General Mike Cox's plans for a gym, noting that the state faces a $686-million budget shortfall and that Cox plans to let go of 21 full-time secretarial and clerical workers, effective April 20.

"It's just outrageous that he would spend tens of thousands of dollars on facilities like this when he's laying off attorney general employees," said Mark Brewer, chair of the Michigan Democratic Party.
Talk about apples and oranges, a deficit for the entire state in the amount of 686 Million, a deficit that is certainly not AG Cox's fault nor of his making, but rather than of the current Democrat Governor 9and to be fair others as well), and "tens of thousands of dollars" for excercise equipment for which there is a perfectly good reason:
Rusty Hills, a spokesman for Cox, a Republican, made no apologies. He said the gym would be geared, initially at least, to the 37 gun-toting investigators on staff.

"We buy books for attorneys, we have no problem buying weights for cops," Hills said. "We want the cops on our payroll to be in better shape than the criminals they're chasing."

Hills said the investigators' cases include child support, cold-case homicides, Internet predators and consumer and health-care fraud.

"They execute search warrants, transport prisoners, conduct interviews in the field," Hills said. "They are in situations that are dangerous with people who are very dangerous. We don't make a lot of arrests in Bloomfield Hills."

Hills said the Attorney General's Office has yet to determine where the funding will come from in its budget, or how much the gym will end up costing.
Indeed, excercise facilities for use by the entire Ag's office, not just the investigators would make sense: fit employees equals lower occurences of injuries and health problems and thus lower insurance claims, thus reducing health costs for the department and saving the department money. Given that health care is a major expense statewise and always a large compoent of employee expenses, its amazing Cox is not being lauded for progressive thinking by encouraging his employees to get in shape and offering them an oppotunity to do so.

The tens of thousands of dolaars will likely offer a far greater savings in reduced health costs and lost time from work accidents.

In addition, it appears in the comments accompanying the article in the Free press that the money for the gym may not even be from public funds but from private sources. If so, its not just the Dems making a mountain out of a treadmill, but a wholly false smear by the Dems against a very popular and effective Attorney General.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Tanks but no Tanks?

Canada may be updating its 20-year old Leopard C2 tank fleet by leasing 20 (yes twenty) Leopard C6 tanks from Germany. The main reason for the long-overdue replacement is that the C2 tanks lack air conditioning, making them unsuitable for operations in Afghanistan in the summer. This has the lib-left and the Toronto (red) Star all-a-flutter.

In Whether new or old, tanks just not for this war Star columnist James Travers opines that the tanks will not help win the hearts and minds of Afghanistanis and that's the vital point of Canada's participation.

Tanks, contra Travers, are an excellent force protection option and perfect for kicking Taliban ass and disrupting their actions, which is indeed a mission in addition to nation building that the lib-left in Canada dearly loves.

Travers undercuts his own arguments with the fact he reports that
It's no coincidence that Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor stressed this week that Canadian casualties have dropped since September when the nearly 30-year old Leopards were pressed into service. While the reasons for that happy decline have more to do with changed enemy tactics and limited winter fighting, any equipment that saves soldiers' lives is both welcome and a persuasive part of the continuing military campaign for more procurement.

Travers notes that the Tanks can be vulnerable to mines and antitank weapons - true, but the presence of a tank in a mutually-supporting combined arms unit can offer protection to the rest of the force while that force screens the tank from the mine and RPG threat, and reduces the overall threat that would exist if the tanks were not present.

Travers then states the long-held but erroneous belief that Tanks cannot operate in urban environments:
Designed for set-piece, Cold War confrontations, the 55-tonne behemoths are hardly the weapons of choice in the close and often urban encounters of today's hearts-and-minds wars.
(not that Afghanistan is completely full of cities, its not, but Travers seems to make you want to think with this objection that a city or village is the only place the tank would operate). Tanks can do well in Urban or village settings - read Thunder Run the story of how US tanks won the battle of Baghdad and helped bring a quick end to the Saddam regime - victory for armor in the ultimate urban environment.

Canadians in Afghanistan need tanks for protection and force flexibility. While Travers argues the touchy-feely objection that such tanks will be
weapons that alienate soldiers from the Afghans they must make friends.

In the best-case scenario, modern tanks will keep troops cooler and safer. In the worst, Canada will lease expensive weapons it decided it didn't need and lose a war that must be fought and won among the people.

The tanks aren't for nation-building but for defeating those who seek to prevent any nation-building or any progress at all beyond the level of medieval fundamentalist Islam in Afghanistan. The best way to win the "hearts and minds of the people" is to decisively defeat the Taliban and Al-Qaeda elements at every possible encounter - showing the people that they are no longer a viable threat. For that you want the best weapons available - including tanks.

Oh Canada, and the Kyoto Forests for the Trees

I've just spent a week in Toronto, and I've had a chance to examine the view of events in Canada especially by reading the Toronto (red) Star

One interesting bit of news is that Canada is removing its forests from the Kyoto carbon calculation as
the federal government has decided against using Canada's forests in the calculations for totalling up the country's greenhouse-gas emissions.
So the Kyoto treaty apparently lets you practice Enron-type accounting when totaling up your co2 emissions.

The reason:
"The problem is that ultimately we're going to have to include our forests because forests and ecosystems can be bigger emitters (of greenhouse gas) than industry," said Brinkman.

In 2003, Brinkman said, forest fires in Europe, the United States, Australia and Canada sent more emissions into the atmosphere globally than any other source, including industry.

Brinkman, a recognized specialist in sustainable forest management, is married to Joyce Murray, who is contesting the federal Liberal nomination in Vancouver Quadra riding.

Yes, you read that right: forests "sent more emissions into the atmosphere globally than any other source, including industry."

But don't worry it can all still be blamed on Global Warming and the general catch-all of "climate change" (ie it isn't getting provably warmer, but were se:
Louise Comeau, a climate-change expert in Ottawa, said Canada had always assumed it would realize a greenhouse-gas benefit from managed forests.

But she said damage caused by climate change has turned that assumption on its head. "We've got more trees being destroyed than we have growing, and so our forests are turning into a source of emissions as opposed to a sink for carbon."

Forests account for 402 million hectares of Canada's 909-million-hectare land area. Managed forests take up 240 million hectares.

Canada, a nice place if you like trees, but it forests are an evil source of arboreal CO2 emissions, exempted from Kyoto, so environmentally conscious visitors beware.