Friday, November 28, 2008

With security like this no wonder the Somali Pirates are having a field day

Once, Britannia ruled the waves, now British security gets rolled into the waves.

Somali pirates hijack ship, British guards escape
Somali pirates hijacked a chemical tanker with dozens of Indian crew members Friday and a helicopter rescued three British security guards who had jumped into the sea,

The British security for this chemical tanker was of course unarmed.
The company said it was aware of the incident on the chemical tanker it identified as M/V BISCAGLIA.

"We have been informed by coalition military authorities that three of our unarmed security staff were rescued from the water by a coalition helicopter and are currently on board a coalition warship in the Gulf of Aden," the company statement said.

Unarmed in pirated infested waters. That unarmed security certainly helped didn't it, must have been quite the deterrent effect eh?

What happened did they say "Stop or I'll say stop again?" and the Pirates responded by saying "Jump?".

Happy Thanksgiving

I had a great Thanksgiving.

We had some friends over and Natasha made a wonderful feast. We're still dealing with a few days worth of leftovers but I was restrained and didn't eat myself into a stupor.

We do have much to be thankful for. Even with the economy in this state continuing to amaze us all by continually finding new lows, I've still got a job, we've got a (massively depreciating) roof over our heads, food on the table, two healthy happy kids and a good bunch of friends. Many people have much less and the majority of the world would be thrilled to have the opportunities we have living here and now.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dive #103 Into the Cold and Dark we go

Yesterday the few, the brave, the foolhardy showed up at Union Lake at 6:45 for a dive.

Rob G and myself, everyone else didn't show. So it was up to us.

The Dive:
Bottom Time: 46 minutes
Water Temperature: 45 degrees
Visibility was 20 plus feet.

It was dark with only our lights for illumination.

Lots of big fish were hanging around the sunken boats, including some that decided divers were not a problem as they held their ground and would wait until you almost touched them before moving away.

There was also some very large crayfish, including one on the bottom of one of the boats that looked almost as big as a lobster. We declined to catch any lakefood and instead just navigated from boat to boat and swam forth enjoying ourselves.

Rob repaired a few of the lines that are strung underwater marking the diver navigation routes and I practiced my back kick and buoyancy, both of which keep on improving.

By the end of the dive we were both on the decidedly cold side so after we got out we went to the Library Pub for coffee with a fortifying shot of Jameson's Irish Whiskey. A good way to end a good dive.

A Worthy Cause - Michigan Friends of the IDF

On Monday the 17th, after work I volunteered at the Michigan Friends of the Israel Defense Forces fundraiser dinner.

I worked on registration, checking off and making sure the people showing up at the event were actually supposed to be there.

The event was a huge success - over 700 people showed up to participate and money was raised for the cause.

MFIDF raises funds for medical, educational and recreational needs of Israel's soldiers, providing them with essential downtime and care during their fight in the everpresent war that Israel finds itself in with the Arabs.

The honored guest was A Alfred Taubman - a very successful Jewish businessman here in Michigan, who not only was a pilot in the US Air Force in World War 2 but has done a great deal for philanthropy both here in the United States and Israel, and his honors are well deserved.

There were quite a number of very distinguished guests in attendance from Israel including:

-The second Israeli female combat fighter pilot, Lieutenant N. (Israel does not reveal Air Force officer's names and I'm not about to do so here). She is the second operational female fighter pilot and flies an F-16, aged 24 (I now feel old). In case you're wondering she had to do the same qualifiers as males to get her wings, including the famous 120 km solo land navigation escape and evasion exercise. I'm quite sure that any arab fighter jock that goes up against her will get the shock of his life. How embarrassing it will be for them to get shot down by a woman, and a Jewish one at that.

- A captain in Sayeret Matkal, arguably Israel's best spec ops unit, Captain Y. (Israel does not reveal Special Operator' s names and you guessed it I'm not about to do so here). the Captain told us about his traingin, a bit about the Unit and a brief description of the non-classified part of an operation he took place in during the second Lebanon war - ie went in to Hezballah land, accomplished the mission, was ambushed on the way to the extraction point, fought their way out and made it back.

With soldiers like these Israel is in good hands, and its good for us to help them as they're on the frontlines not just for Israel but for the West against the Islamic threat.

So I heartily endorse the organization as they are very good at getting the funds to where its needed not spending on excessive overhead and the money really makes a difference.

You can click this donation link to make a donation to the Friends of the israel Defense Forces, and I am certainly doing so. (I will post about another worthy charity to which I'm donating this year shortly).

Sunday, November 09, 2008

I don't condone this but I really, really, understand.

Man Shoots Girlfriend’s Computer After Installing Windows Vista
Friday night in Columbia South Carolina, ex-law enforcement officer Ray Jackson lost his temper while trying to repair his girlfriend’s computer.
After installing Windows Vista on the girlfriend’s 2 year old computer Jackson was trying to get some of her older programs to work with the new operating system. “He couldn’t get anything to work like it was supposed to”, said girlfriend Wanda White. “He just kept screaming at it and smacking the side of the computer”.
White had heard enough cursing from her boyfriend and went next door to her friend’s apartment. After about 20 minutes White and her friend heard gun shots from the apartment where Jackson was working. ..... When she opened the door there sat Jackson with his pistol in his hand. He had just shot the computer 5 times and missed once. The miss had gone into the neighbors apartment and the bullet was lodged into their refrigerator.

He's not the only one:
Man Shoots Computer in Somerset County, NJ
Man Shoots Computer in Issaquah, Washington
Man Shoots Laptop in Lafayette, Colorado

I'm certainly considering it, but even as it would be extremely cathartic, it would void the warranty pretty seriously.

But for all of you considering the same (and I know there's a lot of you out there) remember this:

1. Have a safe backstop (i.e. one that bullets cannot travel through like a concrete or brick wall). You are 100% responsible for where those bullets may end up, and they can pass through a computer and on to who knows where. Remember your enemy is the computer not some innocent bystander on the other side of a thin interior wall somewhere. Don't miss and be careful, Mr. Ricochet is not your friend.

2. It is much, much, better and safer for all concerned to do this at a shooting range, and there's less chance of you being arrested for firing a gun in city limits, reckless endangerment, or whatever other charge police can come up with to lock you up until you calm down.

3. Make sure it is your computer you are shooting, respect other's malfunctioning frustrating and worthless computer property.

4. The Lafayette shooter, in hanging the shot-up computer over the bar as a trophy had a stroke of pure genius, for that artistry alone the judge should let him off.

5. Save yourself the headache and don't get Vista (hard to do as they preload it on everything but its worth avoiding the trouble).

As you can guess, this gorram HP Vista 64 computer is still not working. Even after 4 destructive rebuilds it still will without warning fail to boot as it finds some kind of conflict, then it does a system restore and removes whatever programs I've installed and remains unstable.

I now know about half the technical support people in India, and I've finally made it to level two technical support after rebuilding this piece of crap 4 times.

Make no mistake, the Indian techs are very nice and they do try to be helpful, and for the average problem I'm sure they're fine, but they start out on script and it takes about 20 minutes each for them to read the service ticket case notes and for me to explain what is in the note and that I've been through this already. I've done 4 destructive rebuilds including rebuilding off completely new discs they shipped to me, and the problem still keeps recurring. I'm now an expert at rebuilding a Vista computer and getting it to the point that it will crash with elan. Funnily enough when i ask if they have an XP image that is compatible with this computer they say installing X on it would void the warranty -- Ha!.

I've now spent untold hours messing with this thing. I'm now trying to decide whether to return it to Costco completely or just ship the desktop box to HP and let them try redoing it. The problem of course is Costco no longer offers this same package with the nice big monitor and good hardware configuration it came with at this price (its been about 60 days of me messing around with tech support trying to get this to work) I have 30 days left to return it to Costco. And of course both Dell and HP and all other Costco computer vendors ship all their machines with Vista, and their better machines with Vista 64, so if its not some hardware conflict I'll probably see this again. Spit.

Given the amount of troubleshooting and rebuilding, I'm seriously considering wasting more time and money and just building a computer from scratch. At least I'll be troubleshooting my own mistakes rather than Vista and HPs. When I spend extra and buy a computer from a manufacturer I do expect it to work and be stable, not to be a beta tester and constantly rebuilding the operating system.

Friday, November 07, 2008

I thought under Obama the waters were supposed to stop rising

With Obama, hopes for Great Lakes rise

Yeah, cheap shot at a badly written headline, but appropos.

Mind you all the expectations people have for Obama are getting to be quite something: heal the planet, stop the rise of the oceans, clean the great lakes, save the economy, make straw without bricks, make energy and gasoline without coal or oil, pay his workers for their campaign work, for every child a new pony.

The letdown amongst the Obamaniacs when he can't deliver nirvana is going to be quite the spectacle.

With Obama having Economic Advisors like these no wonder the stock market is dropping like a rock

Obama to meet with economic advisers today in Chicago

the composition of the Transition Economic Advisory Board also was announced, including not only Granholm and Bonior, long an ally of organized labor, but investment whiz Warren Buffett, a former Fed chairman and two former treasury secretaries.

The group is set to meet today in Chicago with a news conference to follow.

Among those attending: former Treasury Secretaries Lawrence Summers and Robert Rubin, former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, former Commerce Secretary Bill Daley and, from the business world, Buffett, Google chairman Eric Schmidt and the heads of Xerox, Hyatt and Time Warner.

Granholm? Granholm? A Governor of a state that is leading the way in a recession, that had a one-state recession long before the rest of the country decided to join the party is who you want on your economic advisory board? A Governor who raises taxes in the midst of a state in recession, that leads the nation in unemployment and foreclosure -- that's who you want in your brain trust.

Given her dealing with the recession in our state was by raising taxes and otherwise governing ineffectively and going on jaunts overseas, the mind boggles as to the advice she will be giving to Obama.

Hold on America as it looks like your about to experience Pure Michigan. Granholm was right in five years you really will be "blown away".

You will not be thanking us for sharing, really.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Oh joy, Old Europe loves us again

Suddenly, it may be cool to be an American again
Wow we're back to having the adoration of old Europe.

....But my best friend and training partner — who is French — just gave me his stamp of approval.

"Will you wear your Stars and Stripes shirt now? You're allowed!" he told me.

Don't expect this love fest to last. As soon as America acts in any way in its own interest, or contrary to old European interests (old meaning Poland and the rest of eastern Europe is probably not very happy right now), the deal is off.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

So the One Won, now what?

Do we take the high road and congratulate the Democrats on their historic victory?

Do we respond with vitriol in the same manner they did when Bush won in 2000 and again in 2004?

Let's stick to the high road. Yes the Democrats won, regardless of if it was fair and square or if a goodly portion of it was bought and frauded for its done, now we have to deal with it.

Interestingly, the victory itself is a damning indictment of the left's belief that America is a thoroughly racist country - after all the majority voted for a black man to the highest post in the land. That is no small thing and a good sign that in America anyone can truly make it to the top and we're still the land of opportunity.

Let's stick to the high road, but with vigilance, no need to follow the Democrats down the derangement syndrome road. I'm quite sure that Fox News, unlike CBS will not run footage of the president speaking with the caption "Snipers Wanted'. Nor should it, we're not as crazy as the Democrats and a good thing to -- there were riots predicted if Obama lost - McCain lost and we all went to sleep, not into the streets. This is as it should be.

Certainly Republicans should take time to regroup and rethink but should not roll over. Expect President Obama to come out of the gate swinging towards the bleachers in left field and be ready to stop or at least hold the Hope and Change Steam roller to a base hit rather than a home run. Be a loyal opposition, but loyal opposition does not mean be a bunch of cowed spineless jellyfish.

The Democrats showed the way and turn about is fair play - filibuster in the Senate early and often, use the ideological test for judicial appointments, dissent is still the highest form of patriotism right? Holler loudly what effect each poisonous proposal is going to have on the economy and the government and get the message out any way it can. Fight to contain the damage as much as possible, and put the blame where it belongs.

Don't give up, and strengthen the Republican bench and message for the 2010 and 2012. Quit putting up Bob Dole clones or media selected favorites (The media loved McCain in the primary but had no trouble turning on him in an instant once he won -- too old, temper etc right? funny how none of that was raised by the media in the primaries) and acting like Democrat party lite -- it doesn't work.

Have a clear and positive message how the Republicans can be and are better for America, show how free market economics are the right prescription for the problems we face not this overegulation and misregulation and corporatism that caused this mess and quit campaigning with one hand tied behind your back out of some mistaken belief in the marquess of queensbury rules when you opponent disregards all rules in a quest to win. Give voters a cohesive program to vote for and be proactive not reactive.

It is not over, it is just the beginning of new challenges and new chances. The country will survive 4 or even 8 years of Obama and hoepfully become the wiser for it. The left now has to govern rather than complain and they have no excuse if they make a hash of it anymore. The right has a chance to rebuild, move forward and regain its principles.

May these challenges we are about to face lead to a stronger and better America.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Reported Vote Fraud in Pontiac

Details are sketchy but Right Michigan is reporting on voter fraud occurring in Pontiac, Michigan -- an Obama stronghold. Hijinks include excluding Republican poll watches from the polls and mixing provisional ballots in with regular ballots - making any audit or fraud investigation impossible.

Combine this with intimidation by Black Panthers against non-Obama voters in Philadelphia and other frauds elsewhwere and this could be the high-tide (or the standard to be set for the future) of Democrat election fraud, where they put it all on the line to win. After all if you can't win fairly then cheat your way to victory as the ends justifies the means right?

Election 2008 - a heavy turnout report

So this morning Natasha and I went to our Electoral Precinct to do our civic duty.

The line was absolutely packed, with some recognizable neighbors.

We were told by the lady at the door that the wait to vote was approximately 20 minutes.

That was very approximate as it took over an hour.

it was complicated by the fact that two precincts shared the same entrance and a ton of people had no clue which precinct they were in -- the precinct maps were of course farther inside past the line splits. This should not be that complicated - your voter registration card has your precinct on it and the Michigan Secretary of State Web page will let you look yourself up, check your precinct and even get a nifty example ballot listing all the candidates as they appear on the ballot. Proper preparation prevents poor performance you know.

First there was the line where you fill out the voter identification slip - we did this while in line.

Then you got in line by groups of last names for you to show id and get your slip checked.

Then you got in line to get your ballot and then you waited for a spot to vote.

Natasha commented that in the Soviet Union, with compulsory voting (if you didn't vote you were in deep trouble) it went a lot faster. I pointed out that back in the USSR you only had to vote and didn't need to choose as there was nothing to choose. She noted that was a good point.

At least the lines remind us of the great efficiencies of government and if you love the efficiency of long waits in line to vote, just wait for the efficiency and long lines for government health care.

Should be quite a race. Onethe interesting comments I heard two voters say -- these were a couple youngsters who were in voting for Obama -- they then asked "Do I have to fill out the back? (of the ballot). They were politely told its their choice to do as much or as little as they want and the ballot will still be ok if the back choices are made or not. I think most of us in line waiting wereof the opinion they should quit wasting time as if you're that clueless just vote and leave please and get out of the way of those who actually looked at the issues beforehand.

Well the voting has been done, now to watch the counting and asociated punditry.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Election 2008 - Decision time

It seems that every election becomes more and more crucial - and the polarization between the two sides becomes greater as the moderate middle is forced to give way as we face even starker swings to our lives at each electoral challenge.

Part of the polarization is due to the fear of both sides losing their cherished rights and entitlements, and because the power of the federal government and its effect upon us all becomes more and more pronounced, so do our rights become in jeopardy as soon as the opposing ideology takes power.

An unchecked Democrat dominance of the executive and legislative branches combined with the multiple judicial vacancies that such dominance would fill would be disastrous for the right and the middle as the left reshapes America to fit its image. Think the 70's only with more government spending, higher taxes and even lower thermostats in winter as our nations energy supplies are reduced by greenish extremism against coal and excessive taxes on oil with no viable alternative - certainly not the lefts bugbear of nbuclear power- provided to replace these energy sources. Think of Michigan's one-state recession under Democrat rule spread nationwide.

Part of the greatest thing about America is you generally have the right to be left alone as long as you're not harming others. Given Michelle Obama's statement that
Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your divisions. That you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zone . . . Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual - uninvolved, uninformed
this cherished and time-honored right to be left alone is in jeopardy and that my friends is un-American.

Given Barack Obama's continuing lowering of his definition of the "wealthy" doomed to be subject to his taxation grab keeps dropping from 250,000, to 200,000 to 150,000 to 120,000 to 70,000 you're looking at paying even more of your income -- before you ever receive it -- to the government to pay for his massive expansionist plans. On top of that he will without a doubt let the Bush tax cuts expire -- that IS a tax increase - you'll know it when you go to pay your taxes.

Given that Barack Obama is terrible on the 2nd amendment your right to own firearms is in jeopardy. He is for an assault weapons ban, for a national ban on concealed carry and multiple other restrictions and even confiscation. With a Democrat Congress there will be no brakes on these bans. Given we're still dealing with restrictions from the Clinton and Bush I eras, don't expect them to go away under Obama, or for them to put in a sunset clause this time. Expect leftist to push their agenda including gun control hard in the first 100 days of an Obama presidency.

On the first amendment Obama is similarly bad in terms of those who are critical of him, including having supporters form truth squads to prosecute those who might speak out against him with "false criticisms". Do you expect this will really go away if he gains office? Given how the media is so in the tank for him that they're withholding negative video footage, audio, and stories about him do you really think they will fill their role as watchdog of the government or instead behave as loving lapdogs adoring their chosen one?

On foreign policy Obama will be a nightmare - bringing back the 70s pattern of American appeasement and failure, complete with policy advisors (Brzezinski ) from that era as well. He seems set on betraying our allies abroad all to appease "world opinion". Much like someone in search of someone to say they're proud of him, indeed Obaam having grown up without a father will likely try gain his father's praise by pursuing his father's left wing goals, and the opinions and accolades of the international left wing will be a nice surrogate source of a father's pride for one seeming so in need of dreams from his father.

Yes McCain has run a lackluster campaign, yes he is wishy-washy as all hell, reveling in being a "maverick" which generally meant going with the press and against other Republicans- but I think the press treatment of him has hopefully opened his eyes. Sarah Palin, a Jacksonian choice indeed for Vice President has at least given hope that McCain will not fall captive to the Democrats calls for bipartisanship (meaning do what they the Democrats want -- otherwise you're a bitter partisan meanie). In any event there is no repeat NO viable alternative to an obamanable four year period ahead other than voting for McCain Palin.

McCain has the experience, wisdom and capability to govern reasonably and moderately and to face down the oncoming Democrat majority. Indeed, the left likely faces little risk to loss of their freedoms in a McCain presidency given his very moderate stance on just about everything. America under McCain will hold the line.

My vote is for McCain, and I certainly hope yours is too. America will be far too out of balance with the Democrats so ascendant. I am not going to stand by and let these freedoms dissappear in the face of this leftist resurgence, instead I will vote for McCain, for America and for the preservation of the freedoms I cherish.

Regardless of the polls or predictions or Obama's gandiose attempt to act as if this election is a mere formality -- it will not be so -- if you do not give up hope, you do not sit on your hands, you get up and get to the polls and vote. its not over until its over, and maybe not even then.

McCain / Palin 2008!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Essential Ancient Coin Books

I've added a new list to this blog, a list of books on ancient coins that I deem are essential for a serious collector of ancient coins.

So far I've added:

Seaby Roman Silver Coins and their values Volume I.

If you plan to collect Roman Silver coins, the set started by Seaby that covers all Roman Silver coinage from the republic to the fall of the empire is absolutely vital. Excellent descriptions, pictures, values and cataloging information.

Roman Coins & Their Values Volume I

Roman Coins and Their Values, Vol II, The Accession of Nerva to the Overthrow of the Severan Dynasty AD 96 - AD 235

Roman Coins and Their Values III: The Accession of Maximinus I to the Death of Carinus AD 235 - 285: v. 3

Now expanded to three Volumes, Sear's Roman Coins and Their Values is the bible for the Roman Coin Collector. If you can find get the previous single volume 4th edition from 1988, it is nice and portable for taking with you to coins shows and auctions, even as the prices are long out of date, the relative values remain pretty much the same and you can adjust accordingly.

If you plan to venture into more than just silver Roman coinage and include the bronzes or gold coins in your collection then you really need David R. Sear's Roman Coins and Their Values to get the most out of your collecting experience -- not only to avoid expensive mispurchases but to also learn about the history of the coins you purchase and to catalog them in a meaningful way.

The voting denarius of L. Cassius Longinus

Image copyright Andreas Pangerl, used with permission.

A silver denarius of the Roman Republic dating to approximately 63 B.C.E.

Obverse (not shown): veiled bust of Vesta facing left, kylix behind.
Reverse: Male voter dropping a tablet inscribed with a v into an urn

Reference: Seaby Roman Silver Coins Cassia 10, Sear 295

This coin commemorates the passing of the lex Cassia tabellaria, a law related to the method of voting in Roman elections that was passed in 137 BCE by and ancestor of L. Cassius Longinus, L Cassius Ravilla.

L. Cassius Longinus was an ancestor of C. Cassius Longinus, he, the Shakespearean Cassius of "the lean and hungry look" who was one of the assassins of Julius Caesar.

A very timely coin post, given how important elections were in the Roman Republic and now that this coming Tuesday we face a momentousness election in troubling times, times of troubled money markets and financial and political crises.

Take your time to learn and understand the issues and candidates, and vote your conscience, calculations or political beliefs accordingly.

HP and Vista is a neverending adventure in reboot and reformat

Of course the destructive recovery done last week didn't last for long and didn't fix the problem.

After backing up all my data and doing a destructive restore things started off rather auspiciously.

Programs installed without issue. I restarted after each program was installed to see if a certain program was at fault. No problems. Everything went on great, it looked like I had all my data back and programs rinning fine.

The HP update ran. I foolishly accepted installing the updates it recommended for the computer.

You can guess what happened next.

Yep, after the restart, straight to the black screen of death.

Every program installed since, every Microsoft update installed since causes the same thing.

So I called HP support again.

Of course, they have no record of the online chat assistance or the service call I made last week.

After discussion with the tech, they've decided since I already did a destructive software recovery from the partition they will ship me the recovery by disc.

So I get to do a whole new reformat.

Anybody want to place a bet on whether this fixes the problem?

Given that I had XP running on a system for about 7 years without having to reformat without this kind of trouble I certainly can't recommend Vista 64 for anyone at this point as in less than 2 months its been causing all sorts of issues. On the upside, I'm getting really good at backing up and restoring my data grrr.