Friday, October 30, 2009

Ford's UAW workers start to wake up to what their no vote really means

The Detroit News: Sterling Heights Ford UAW local may ask for revote -
Workers fear 'no' vote will lose axle work for site

Ford Motor Co. could shift work promised to its Sterling Heights axle factory as part of a tentative agreement with the United Auto Workers to a German supplier after the local union voted overwhelmingly against the deal, according to a union source.

Now, some workers there are organizing a petition urging UAW President Ron Gettelfinger to call for a revote.

Spurred on by union dissidents who say the time for concessions is over, rank-and-file members at plants across the country have cast their ballots against the proposed contract changes, which were negotiated by Ford and UAW leaders earlier this month. While the union has not released any numbers, people familiar with the situation said about 3,000 more workers have so far voted against ratification than have voted in favor of it.
Ooops,They just learned that when you vote to make yourself uncompetitive, you can't be surprised when management moves the work to where the company can be competitive.

As always, elections have consequences:
Under the terms of the agreement, Sterling Axle was supposed to get new rear-wheel drive work that would have added about 100 jobs. Now, union sources fear that work will be given to Getrag Corp., a German supplier with a nonunion factory in North Carolina. Local union leaders also were told Ford is considering outsourcing other components made at the plant, where 80 percent of workers voted against ratification.

Some workers are waking up to reality:
"I don't think people here really understood that the work we had been promised was contingent on ratification," said Sterling Axle UAW member Brian Pannebecker, who voted in favor of the agreement and is now helping to organize a petition in support of revote.

Hopefully the UAW Workers start to realize that shafting Ford with an uncompetitive agreement means a whole lot of drive-shafts will be built without them.

More Obama Foreign Diplomacy "Success"

First - Who would have thought Iran would perform yet another rope-a-dope and undermine and stall negotiations ewhile it develops nuclear capability - Iran undermines heart of Western nuclear offer

Of course, Obama continues his "smart diplomacy" but not ready to push for sanctions, but really he might just eventually get around to it, eventually, any time now.
He wouldn't say whether the Obama administration believes it now is time to pursue tougher sanctions against Tehran, but added: "the president's time is not unlimited."
Obama's tough and smart diplomacy - all carrot and no stick.

Second, (via Fausta's blog) - Honduras gets thrown under the Obama diplomacy bus - Honduran government caves into US pressure, agrees to Zelaya’s restitution. So the Obama administration pressured a country that was acting according to its constitution to prevent its president from becoming a Chavez-like dictator to reinstate that same President. Nice.

Under Obama, it now seems it is better to be an undemocratic adversary of the United States rather than a democratic ally.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Why would the FBI tip off Islamic leaders in advance of their raid on Islamic Extremists?

The news of the FBI raid on the radical bunch of Islamic extremists planning a violent conspiracy has been pretty well reported. The FBI did a darn good job, all the FBI agents are thankfuly safe (except unfortunatelt for an FBI dog which was killed) and most of the suspects are in custody. So it's a win for the good guys.

There are some questions about the raid though.

If these particular "radical" Islamists, have nothing to do with mainstram Islam, why then is the head of the puported-to-be-mainstream American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee being briefed on it in advance and then why is he concerned about the FBI use of informants in mosques?

Imad Hamad, regional director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, said Arena briefed him on the raids late Wednesday afternoon. The case has renewed concerns about use of FBI informants inside mosques, Hamad said.

"So far in this particular case, we don't have any of the facts but what the government said," Hamad said. "It is premature to render any judgment."

Also, if this sect is not "mainstream", why was the Muslim Alliance in North America having the chief suspect Luqman Ameen Abdullah, who was kiled in the raid
"on an advisory board for the Muslim Alliance, and he often met with local imams, said local Muslims.

Indeed, Why is the FBI tipping off Islamic leaders prior to a raid?

Doesn't this increase the chance that a sympathetic co-religionist would tip off the subject of the raid thus resulting in them going into hiding or otherwise destroying evidence, not to mention giving them an opportunity to ambush FBI agents, completely and unecessarily putting these agents' lives in danger?

Also isn't it funny how mainstream Muslims are concerned that there may be informants among them that might report criminal activities to the FBI?
Hamad said he and other Arab-American leaders have had ongoing talks with the FBI about its use of informants, and authorities insist that they use such sources only when they have specific allegations rather than during a “witch hunt.”

Still, the tensions will be aggravated by this week’s events. And those who already are skeptical of the FBI’s tactics will doubt the allegations contained in the indictment.

“The case – regardless of the facts, regardless of the allegations, regardless of what went right and what went wrong – brings back that issue of informants,” Hamad said.
How about this - don't commit criminal conspiracies against America and you won't have to worry about informants reporting on your nefarious plans to the FBI?

One would think mainstram muslims would encourage the reporting of criminal acts to the lawful authorities of this country, but apparently not.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Time for Royal Oak Township to fold as it runs out of people to tax

Royal Oak Township, a township now all of .56 square miles in size - Yes, really, less than a full square mile and its still a surviving (barely) township! - is going to try and raise taxes yet again to keep surviving as a dysfunctional entity.

Squeeze tightens in Royal Oak Twp. - Town seeks to raise taxes to keep basic services running

Royal Oak Township, the poorest community in Oakland County, is also among the most taxed in the state -- and it's getting ready to ask residents to open their wallets even wider.

This tiny community bordering Eight Mile -- once a proud 36 square miles when it was formed in 1921 -- is now down to 0.56 square miles after years of annexations by neighboring cities. And now, it's fighting for its financial life.

At half a square mile, and with some of the highest mileages, special assessments and overall taxes in Michigan, its time for it to gracefully fold into the surrounding communities that have developed around it.

After all, that's what townships are supposed to do as cities grown around them, become absorbed and gain from economies of scale rather than having a

a $1.2 million annual budget that also pays for 14 full- and part-time workers including two public works employees, a code enforcement officer, Morgan's secretary, a part-time deputy supervisor, a full-time deputy clerk and a full-time deputy treasurer.
for .56 square miles!

Of course the reason its been hanging on, and supported all this time is that it is Michigan's historically Black run township and some people think that race alone is enough to maintain a ridiculously expensive historical oddity that should have been folded long ago into the City of Royal Oak.

Royal Oak Township has some of the highest poverty levels in all of Oakland County - insanely high taxes may have something to do with that by driving away the productive and business property owners until only those who can't leave are left.

It is long past time the township quit its futile struggle tax itself to survival and remain in its half mile square existence and instead saved its residents' monies and futures by relegating itself to history.

UAW set to kill the Blue Oval that laid the Golden Egg

Of course, it doesn't help matters that the UAW is now a major shareholder in Ford's two top American competitors - GM and Chrysler. So its no surprise they're not willing to give Ford the same breaks they gave themselves as co-owners.

The UAW seems to be arguing that since Ford isn't in as bad a shape as GM or Chrysler it shouldn't get the same deal they received from the UAW.

That the UAW is now having two sets of bargaining patterns, one with their co-owned, government run GM and Chrysler that is favorable to these automakers and now a separate deal with Ford that will put it at a disadvantage doesn't bode well -UAW, Ford deal is in jeopardy

If the proposed agreement is ratified, Ford workers -- like their counterparts at GM and Chrysler -- would not be able to take to the picket lines if they are unable to reach an agreement on any increase to wages and benefits during the next round of national contract talks in 2011.

As The Detroit News first reported Saturday, this was demanded by the Obama administration as a condition of its bailout of GM and Chrysler. The White House did not want to invest billions in taxpayer dollars to make those companies competitive only to see the gains reversed in the next round of negotiations.

If Ford does not receive a similar commitment from the UAW, it will be at a clear disadvantage once bargaining begins.

As ably noted in the Detroit News - UAW workers may derail Ford's success
Here, in the week before Ford Motor Co. hopes to maybe, sorta' report encouraging third-quarter earnings, a faction of its United Auto Workers membership is on course to torpedo a revised labor agreement -- proving, yet again, that bankruptcies and painful retrenchments aren't enough to shake some real-world sense into a deeply engrained sense of entitlement.

I mean, who'd have thought that the Blue Oval, still controlled by its founding family, had unwittingly become a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation masquerading as a struggling titan of Wall Street? Or that some in the UAW mistakenly believe they're "co-determined," in the German corporate sense, to steer Ford's corporate strategy?

Deep into voting on contract terms that include a qualified "no-strike" clause, it's not looking good for FoMoCo right about now. Nor is it looking good for UAW President Ron Gettelfinger and the head of his Ford Department, Bob King, both of whom have their fairly significant credibility strapped to a deal that could go down to defeat.

If it does, what it says about a chunk of the union's rank-and-file will extend far beyond what it means for their employer, now beset with the heaviest debt load and least competitive work rules of Detroit's three automakers. Let me repeat that: Ford, the darling of Motown, now is carrying more debt and less competitive work rules than its rivals.

Rejecting Ford's proposed deal would keep it that way for two more years -- at least. What that says is that too many around here still don't get how precarious Ford's comparatively promising future really is.

They don't get that you can't force unequal terms on competing entities -- in this case, breaking the "pattern" that has bound UAW members together since the days of Walter Reuther -- and expect Ford to compete fairly with rivals from General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC to Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co.
. . . .
And it bolsters the anti-Detroit argument, aired so effectively during last year's auto bailout hearings in Congress, that too many of this town's auto folks still operate in a parallel universe unhinged from the real world inhabited by the rest of us.
It is a very good editorial, so go forth and read the whole thing.

The UAW shortsightedly seems determined to kill the last surviving non-government owned American car manufacturer.

Monday, October 26, 2009

On EPIRBS - they're not to be used just because

The Detroit news reports on the Yuppie 911 phenomenon - people venturing into the great outdoors unprepared and then triggering their emergency personal locator beacons for stupid reasons, or for getting into situations for which they failed to adequately prepare.

This of course takes up important search and rescue resources that could best be used for real emergencies.

One set of interpid outdoorspeople triggered their EPIRB three times in two days:
The Grand Canyon's Royal Arch loop, the National Park Service warns, "has a million ways to get into serious trouble" for those lacking skill and good judgment. One evening the fathers-and-sons team activated their beacon when they ran out of water.

Rescuers, who did not know the nature of the call, could not launch the helicopter until morning. When the rescuers arrived, the group had found a stream and declined help.

That night, they activated the emergency beacon again. This time the Arizona Department of Public Safety helicopter, which has night vision capabilities, launched into emergency mode.

When rescuers found them, the hikers were worried they might become dehydrated because the water they found tasted salty. They declined an evacuation, and the crew left water.

The following morning the group called for help again. This time, according to a park service report, rescuers took them out and cited the leader for "creating a hazardous condition" for the rescue teams.
Hopefully in addition to being ticketed they were assessed with the cost of the three rescue attempts. Other similar stories can be read at the Detroit News link above.

EPIRBS are highly useful for real emergencies, and people should have the option of having one, but should be held responsible for its use.

But EPIRBS are not to be used lightly, should be prevented from going off accidentally, should be used only for serious emergences, and certainly should not be used for being afraid of a thunderstorm or anything less than a real life threatening situation.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Hello Kitty! Our new feline friend

Before taking the kids and going to the pet store, which was holding an adoption day event for placement of rescued animals, I was warned that we could go look, but don't get anything while Natasha was out working.

We've been thinking about getting a new pet since we lost Tova, and the kids have been clamoring for a kitty.

Having always been dog people I was somewhat skeptical about getting a kitty, but have enjoyed them at friends' houses.

So off we went to the pet store. Natasha and the kids had seen the kitties earlier in the week and had a few favorites.

We got to see them. Plenty of kitties and dogs were being shown to be adopted - apparently the amounts of people abandoning their pets is becoming epidemic, not to mention abandoning any kittens or puppies their pets have.

So in we went, and we met a few kitties, but I held firm. Until of course I saw this one kitty. The cat immediately came over to the bars and started purring and licking my hand - ruh, roh.

So we take the kitty out to the play room and the kids love her, she's great with them, very cuddly and playful.

Oh, she had just been saved from the Livingston County animal shelter where she was due to be euthanized if she wasn't adopted.

You can see where this is going.

I call Natasha that we have a great new pet - she says "Didn't I just say don't sign anything?" -- and off I go shopping with one of the very helpful and knowledgeable rescue person for kitty necessities. The Pet store - PetSmart - is brilliant to hold these events - these kitties need homes, the new homes need things, and voila -- you just happen to be at a pet store that has them.

The kids are ecstatic, the wife arrives a little flabbergasted at the speed of events but her heart melts at one look (ok maybe two) upon the kitty. She melts further once we get then kitty home, kitty proof the basement and set everything up, and then the kitty jumps in her lap, snuggles in, and purrs happily away.

This cat is smart - already potty-trained, and she will come when you call and jumps in your lap if you hit your legs.

So meet our adopted rescue cat and newest member of the family - Sabrina (well named by Abby).

She's a very happy cat.

Friday - Court and "Sovereign Moors" redux

On Friday I had the pleasure of appearing in Wayne County Circuit Court on a summary disposition motion for a very weird landlord-tenant case. For 15 years my client was a commercial tenant paying rent, but never payed all the rent and never paid on time, and it was accepted and all was well until after 13 years the landlord turns around and sues for about $1.25 million in backrent.

The long and the short of it - I got about half a win at the motion, getting one of two companies involved as defendants dismissed, as well as knocking out 7 years, and more importantly $400 thousand in damages due to my friend and yours, the six year statute of limitations on contracts. You really can't wait for 15 years and then sue claiming you're owed the unpaid amounts of rent due from all those years, it just doesn't work.

The rest of the motion I realistically wouldn't have won and sure enough, I didn't so on to trial on that portion.

But, while I was waiting in the packed courtroom I got a chance to see yet another sovereign moor in action.

He's the plaintiff suing the Michigan Attorney General, Wayne County Prosecutor Kim Worthy and (now ex-)Wayne County Sheriff Evans for something unspecified. Of course the three of them being ably represented by a decent attorney who has raised the affirmative defense of immunity. The motion for which the moor and the attorney are in front of the court on is the attorney's motion to get the case dismissed on that basis.

So in comes our moor. He comes in all slick and asks to make an offer of proof, but first asks the judge to state her name, which the judge does. He then asks "as part of the record" that the judge make everyone in the room identify themselves for the record.

The judge doesn't buy it and points out that's unnecessary. The moor then goes on as how he's a sovereign citizen and it is required . The judge points out there are rules in court and he can follow them or not and she's not going to waste everyone's time.

He then asks to make an offer of proof. The judge asks what for, he says that under the constitution he can make on offer of proof and he wants her to swear to uphold the constitution.

The judge assures him the constitution is just fine and dandy in her court and indeed the law of the land but he needs to give some reason why the case should not be dismissed under the doctrine of immunity.

He then states there's no such thing as immunity in the constitution and the state laws and statutes don't apply.

She then reasonably points out that as plaintiff he filed this case in The State of Michigan in the Wayne County Circuit Court, so state law certainly applies because he's in - yes, you guessed it - state court!

He apparently never considered this issue when he brought his complaint in state court. Sucks to be him.

The court grants the attorney's motion to dismiss, the moor requests to make an offer of proof. The court indicates she's put it all on the record, the defendants are immune from his suit and they're done.

He doesn't get it.

She repeats herself and calls the next case. He interrupts and tries to keep going, she in no uncertain terms lets him know he's done.

He finally realizes he lost, hopefully has by now realized that there are no magic words in court and one can't walk in and declare "constitution", "sovereign citizen" and "offer of proof" and expect to be either taken seriously, nor have a chance of winning. The term "offer of proof" does has a specific meaning and he's not using it right.

Just 'cause you read on the internet that you have a surefire way of winning in court if you use a few magic words doesn't mean it is so.

Indeed, just maybe he'll go file the frivolous complaint in federal court next time.

At least it broke up a rather dull string of everyday motions and gave everyone in the room a few laughs.

Update: The Providential Commenter Scott asks in the comments - what's a Moor?

Good question.

The Sovereign Moor movement is quite interesting. It is a black nationalist/seperatist movement that typically claims they arrived here not as slaves but as Moors and were here before the arrival of Columbus, and thus the laws of the United States do not apply. The real descendants of the Moors, typically get a bit annoyed by this claim.

In short it is a very nonsensical claim as to their origins and similarly nonsensical that they are not citizens of the US or whatever state they are in. This argument somehow lets them weasel out of paying for stuff on contracts they enter into. Even better, they get funny legal advice on the internet that doesn't work in reality.

To make things even moor interesting and ironic, the whole sovereign citizen movement originally developed as a white seperatist/supremacist doctrine. So we have blacks adopting a crackpot theory developed by a bunch of miscreants that certainly don't regard blacks as particularly desirable to say the least.

In short, going into court and then claiming you're not a citizen but rather "sovereign" and that the court has no jurisdiction over you when you do actually live within the geographic jurisdcition of the court is a losing argument, no matter how entertaining it is to watch.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Michigan to restore Dueling to its former honorable function in society

Michigan Senate to delete dueling as an archaic crime

As tracked by Michigan Votes, Senate Bill 761 along with tie-barred SB 762 and SB 763 will eliminate the felony charge of dueling in Michigan, prohibited by MCL 750.151, and the sentencing guidelines reflecting the punishment for dueling as well as for some other archaic crimes.

As it stands now, MCL 750.171 states:

Engaging in or challenging to fight duel—Any person who shall engage in a duel with any deadly weapon, although no homicide ensue, or who shall challenge another to fight such duel, or shall send or deliver any written or verbal message, purporting or intended to be such challenge, although no duel ensue, shall be guilty of a felony, punishable by imprisonment in the state prison not more than 10 years or by a fine of not more than 5,000 dollars, and shall also be incapable of holding or of being elected or appointed to any place of honor, profit or trust, under the constitution or laws of this state.

Yes, the crime of dueling is quite archaic, and there hasn't been a decent formal duel in Michigan in remembered history. Besides, removing the penalty for engaging in this conduct may help encourage politeness in civil society, not to mention keeping the rowdies in line at the Michigan Renaissance Festival, and amongst our road-rage crazed drivers, something that is sorely needed.

In addition to dueling the crimes of teaching polygamy, promising to sell grain at a fictitious price, making a false protest on a boat, engaging in prizefights, and lastly taking a women against her will and forcing her to marry.

The removal of the last crime may help encourage people to move to Michigan and help turn around the loss of population - now you really can "take this woman to be your lawful wedded wife!", and then duel with her outraged clan for her honor. Thus should be entertaining.

(On a serious note, there are plenty of sufficient crimes still on the books that address all of this activity so removing the archaic ones helps to clean up a rather cumbersome laundry list of possible crimes with which someone can be charged for their bad conduct.)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Ooops, Obama's Fairey admits to cover-up, lying about source of HOPE Image

The iconic HOPE image of Obama in Soviet style colors and icongrapy by Christopher Fairey, a centerpiece of last year's Obama presidential campaign propaganda is the center of a lawsuit, initiated by Fairey where he claimed he adapted the image from a photo and it constituted fair use. He was then countersued by AP, the owners of the photo who claimed he used a different photo that had far less adaptation for his icon.

Unsurprisingly, it turns out AP was right and Fairey deliberately lied about it.

Artist admits using key AP photo for 'HOPE' poster You can see the photo actually used at the link and note the complete similarity save the coloration.
"Shepard Fairey has now been forced to admit that he sued the AP under false pretenses by lying about which AP photograph he used," said AP vice president and general counsel Srinandan R. Kasi. "Mr. Fairey has also now admitted to the AP that he fabricated and attempted to destroy other evidence in an effort to bolster his fair use case and cover up his previous lies and omissions."

. . .
Fairey, 39, had claimed he based his "HOPE" drawing on a photo of then-Sen. Obama seated next to Clooney. The photo was taken in April 2006 by Mannie Garcia, on assignment for the AP, at the National Press Club in Washington.

Fairey now says he started with a solo photograph of Obama — taken at the same event, by the same photographer. The AP has long maintained that Fairey used the solo shot for the poster.

Fairey sued the not-for-profit news cooperative in February, arguing that he didn't violate copyright law because he dramatically changed the image. The AP countersued in March, saying the uncredited, uncompensated use of an AP photo violated copyright laws and signaled a threat to journalism.

Fairey, a Los Angeles-based street artist with a long, often proud history of breaking rules, said in a statement Friday that he was wrong about which photo he used and that he tried to hide his error.

"In an attempt to conceal my mistake, I submitted false images and deleted other images," said Fairey. "I sincerely apologize for my lapse in judgment, and I take full responsibility for my actions, which were mine alone."

He said he was taking steps to correct the information and regretted that he didn't come forward sooner.

In addition to indicating they plan to withdraw from the case, attorneys for Fairey filed papers Friday in federal court in Manhattan stating that he misled them. They also amended the original court documents, reflecting that Fairey used a different picture.
Fairey's lawyers have done the proper and ethical thing by withdrawing from the case and alerting the court to the misrepresentation in the pleadings. Amazingly enough he apparently intends to continue with the suit even after admitting lying about the photo used and spoliation of evidence in an effort to cover it up.

Inevitably, cover ups just get you in more trouble. I always tell my clients that you don't lie about the facts, you deal with them. Lying doesn't work. Lying to the court never sits well with the judge and its something you should never, ever do. I'd expect Fairey's credibility is pretty much shot at this point which will, and certainly should harm his case.

Of course, Fairey made some good money off of AP's photo:
Fairey also used the AP photograph for an image designed specially for the Obama inaugural committee, which charged anywhere from $100 for a poster to $500 for a poster signed by the artist. It is unclear how much, in total, Fairey may have earned from the design.

Fairey has said that he first designed the image in early 2008, after he was encouraged by the Obama campaign to come up with some kind of artwork.
I'd expect AP will pursue Fairey to disgorge any profits he made from the image.

Yet another prominent Obama supporter in hot water.

It's certainly well past time to stop believing in the Obama Fairey.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Obama's Stimulus has "created or saved" 400 jobs in Michigan at a bargain price!

Today, the Detroit Free press announces that President Obama's stimulus has "created or saved" all of 400 jobs (yes a whopping four hundred jobs!) in this woebegone State of Michigan.

So far, stimulus contracts aren't big boost for Michigan jobs

Despite Michigan's worst-in-the-nation unemployment rate, not many jobs -- 400 or so -- have been created or saved in the state so far by federal contracts under the stimulus bill, according to new data released Thursday by the Obama administration.

These jobs were created or saved at a cost of about $300,000 per job. Are these high-paying professional jobs or high-end manufacturing or technical jobs in high demand getting such princely wages - nope it's for construction contracts.

So far, the jobs saved or created in Michigan by federal contracts under the federal stimulus bill have cost about $300,000 apiece.
. . .
Contract spending represents a sliver of overall stimulus spending. Most of the money has gone for direct grants (mainly to help state and local governments and schools avoid layoffs), tax breaks, loans and other programs.

And while only about 400 jobs have been saved or created so far in Michigan through some $120 million in contracts, according to new data posted Thursday by the federal government on, more are expected.

In other words, most of the stimulus money has gene to maintain the states out of whack levels of spending, and the cost of jobs being created or saved is completely out of touch with private sector economics.

With jobs being created at a bargain rate of $300,000 per job, it should only cost $300,000,000,000.00 to get the million Michigan workers whose jobs were lost recently back to work. Never mind that it would be cheaper and just as ridiculous to just mail out checks for 50,000 to each of the million unemployed people, as it would only cost 50,000,000,000.00 and probably "stimulate" the economy more - either that or lead to massive inflation which the stimulus will already do, but at least a million workers will have more gain from it than they would under this stimulus program.

But either way, that's just petty cash to the Obama Administration these days, really.

Update: In addition, the blogprof has a similar and very interesting take on this waste in the making by looking at the entire amount spent - Disaster: Hard Stimulus Data Reveals That Michigan "Saved Or Created" Only 397 Jobs For 620 Million Stimulus Dollars, FAR Short Of 19,500 Claim

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Judaea Capta - An Historically Important Denarius of Vespasian

Obverse: Head of Vespasian, facing right.

Reverse: Jewess weeping under a Roman trophy
Inscription: IVDAEA

After victory was declared by Vespasian in the Jewish war in 70 CE, a large and varied series of coins commemorating the victory was struck by the Roman mints. The Jewish War pretty clearly made an impression on the Romans and they certainly wanted to commemorate a victory in a hard fought, long and bitter war. This series of coins was struck over 25 years and through the reign of three Roman Emperors - Vespasian and his sons Titus and Domitian.

This silver denarius is from that series, and is in fact one of the more common types of coin reverses featured on the Judaea Capta denarii. A lovely historic coin marking the most important victory of one of the The Twelve Caesars, and the winner of the civil war and the last man standing in the tumult and civil war during the Year of the Four Emperors, 69 CE (for an excellent book on this dramatic year read 69 A.D.: The Year of Four Emperors).

In the year of the Four Emperors, Otho, Galba, Vitellius, and Vespasian were all emperor in the same year in quick succession, and only Vespasian survived past that year and died of natural causes in 79 CE. Vespasian was one of Rome's most capable generals and certainly lived in very interesting times, and he lost no chance to emphasize his military virtue to the Roman people and importantly the Roman legions with this series of coins, many of which would have gone to the soldier's pay. lest the soldiers thin they could unseat him as they had the previous four emperors of Rome.

Here's an interesting and brief article on the Judaea Capta series of coins, complete with some photos of some very nice examples of the coins in the series.

This example of the Judaea Capta denarii coins are relatively common and affordable and an excellent and must-have addition to any Roman or Jewish coin collection.

Scientists Create Desktop Black Hole

Chinese Scientists have created a Desktop Black Hole.

The Chinese have announced that a Laptop Black Hole is due out next year, and Apple will be rolling out an iHole shortly.

Thanks to Instapundit for highlighting this discovery for the rest of us.

City of Pontiac Police - Don't Bother Us With Trifles

Trifles like burglary, assault and similar 'minor' crimes.

Detroit Free Press: Who can you call if cops won't come?

When a burglar attempted to steal tools from a warehouse he owns in Pontiac, Leon Jukowski did what any reasonable property owner would: He called his local police.

Three days later, an old friend on the force paid Jukowski a sheepish "courtesy call" to explain that the Pontiac department no longer had the resources to investigate B&Es.

"So what I am I supposed to do? Have one of my employees drag the burglar off the street and beat the crap out of him?" asked Jukowski, a former deputy mayor who is running, against the advice of many of his saner friends, for mayor of the cash-strapped city.

His friend from the police department smiled ruefully. "We don't really send people out for that anymore, either," he said.

Pontiac, in between being a location for the shooting of the Red Dawn remake, is undergoing a severe financial and mismanagement mess putting it in the rusty triangle of Flint, Detroit and Pontiac. The lack of police protection is a result of the economy and mismanagement on the part of the city.

Not having sufficient police resources to protect your citizens from serious felonies is not a good thing. Considering that governments first duty is the maintenance of law and order and the protection of its citizens Pontiac's inability to do so is disheartening to say the least.

This is certainly not going to help lure businesses and people to live in Pontiac, where they can be faced with uninvestigated property and personal crimes and certainly not when a crime is in progress and there is no response.

Time for Pontiac to get the Oakland County Sheriff in to do the policing function or cut other unnecessary areas to give the Pontiac Police the resources and support they need, especially as they're done to 65 sworn officers from 170 three years ago, and crime hasn't dropped in lockstep, if anything its increased given the lack of deterrence of police presence and follow-up.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Words That Just Do Not Go Together

I'll Have the Corned Beef on Rice Paper, thanks.

(Photo of Saigon Deli Express in the Embarcadero Center, San Francisco)

Some Michigan Legislative Reforms You May have Overlooked

In the midst of a budget crisis, record unemployment, a housing crisis and the rest its good to see the Michigan Legislature working to fix some mistakes.

Mich. lawmaker introduces baby-sitting bill
A Michigan lawmaker has crafted a bill that would exempt baby-sitting from the state's day care regulations.

Republican Rep. Brian Calley of Portland introduced the bill Tuesday in Lansing.

It comes after the Michigan Department of Human Services ordered a Barry County woman last month to stop watching her friend's three children before they got on their school bus.

Yes, really, the Department of Human Services instead of going after child abusers and the like instead decided to crack down on a lady who watched kids for free at her house by the school bus stop so they didn't have to stand out in the rain and cold.

We knew the Democrats wanted a nanny state but reprimanding the real nannys is ridiculous! Good to see the law is being clarified to get rid of the current administrative officialdom overreach.

In other pending legislation, you may soon be able to publicly display your bad taste by hanging fuzzy dice off your rear-view mirror without fear of getting a ticket from your friendly neighborhood traffic cop:

State Senate- Hang those fuzzy dice

The chamber voted unanimously for a measure that strikes down a law that says items dangling from the rearview mirror are a no-no.

"We understand there are many distractions in cars, such as cell phones or GPS systems, but we did not feel that a rosary or air freshener was in the same league," said Sen. Ron Jelinek, R-Three Oaks, sponsor of the bill. "This will help make it legal to do what thousands of Michigan residents already do -- hang a memento from their mirror."

The chamber voted unanimously for a measure that strikes down a law that says items dangling from the rearview mirror are a no-no.

"We understand there are many distractions in cars, such as cell phones or GPS systems, but we did not feel that a rosary or air freshener was in the same league," said Sen. Ron Jelinek, R-Three Oaks, sponsor of the bill. "This will help make it legal to do what thousands of Michigan residents already do -- hang a memento from their mirror."

While Civil Libertarians appreciated the bill, the Fashion Police were unavailable for comment.

In Other Health Care News, GOP suffers from Rinoitis

RINOitis- What happens when nominally "Republican" senators run off to join the Democrats in a fest of "bipartisanship" - otherwise known as doing what the Democrats want and being feted by the media for their "courage" in deserting to the Democrats.

Another GOP senator open to health care overhaul
A second Republican senator signaled Wednesday she's open to voting for sweeping health care legislation this year, putting President Barack Obama closer to a historic achievement that has eluded generations of Democratic leaders.

But Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, told The Associated Press that the bill approved Tuesday by the Finance Committee needs substantial improvements to make coverage more affordable, contain costs and protect Medicare. Nevertheless, she joined her Maine GOP colleague Sen. Olympia Snowe in endorsing the goal of far-reaching changes.

My hope is we that can fix the flaws in the bill and come together with a truly bipartisan bill that could garner widespread support," Collins said in an interview.
Of Course, one can always find a Republican to break ranks and provide cover for the Democrats partisan march through Congress
The 10-year, $829 billion Finance bill was approved by the committee Tuesday on a 14-9 vote, after Snowe broke ranks with her Republican colleagues to support Chairman Max Baucus' middle-of-the-road plan.

Snowe and Collins, two RINOitis Republicans that never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity to help the Republicans hold the line but instead consistently work to help the Democrats out with their agenda.

Michigan House Democrats' Anti-Doctors Plot

A great new proposal to solve Michigan's medicare and budget deficit - single out a group of people based on their profession and levy a 3% tax on their income.

The Detroit News Editorial: Physician tax would be unhealthy
Michigan doctors would be hit with a 3 percent gross receipts tax under a plan by House Democrats to create new state revenues and avoid some of the painful cuts in the 2010 state budget. This poorly considered plan to revise an already passed departmental budget for community health, shifting more of the cost of Medicaid from the state to the federal government, should be dropped.

The goal is to leverage additional federal funds with the state physician tax. The proposal is strongly opposed by the state's two major physician organizations, which point out that doctors already pay income, personal property, small business and sales taxes.

They see it as a hindrance to physician recruitment and are rightly skeptical the promised federal bounty would materialize, once they've anted up the $300 million to $400 million this proposed levy is designed to raise. Skepticism is understandable when lawmakers continue to shift funds around and dream up boutique taxes to balance the budget without making needed government reforms. . . .

Hmmm, everyone remember back in Econ 101 where you learn that when you tax something you get less of it? Once Michigan scares the great doctors away, the state's outstanding health care system is going to decline.

Of course its politically appealing for the Democrats to go after "rich" doctors, (never-mind the crushing student debt a lot of them are starting out with so if this passes new doctors are less likely to come here - great). But once we get started with doctors what stops the Dems from going after lawyers, accountants, architects and heck there's a lot of well off skilled tradesmen and small businessmen just waiting to be taxed.

Just slightly more sophisticated approach to class warfare from the Democrats folks, nothing useful to see here.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Canadian Cottage Country

These past few days I've been away at a family gathering to celebrate my Dad's 65th Birthday.

We went up on Friday to their cottage near Huntsville, Ontario. Unfortunately this was over the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend so traffic to the Great White North was jammed to say the least, and it was a 9 hour drive in traffic extravaganza, complete with a constant chilly and drizzling rain.

The kids loved spending time with their Papa and Bubbie and playing with their cousins and the cottage was packed with seven adults and seven kids. We all had a great time and it was nice to catch up and to celebrate his birthday.

On Saturday, after breakfast, we went to Dorset, about 40km away from the cottage to climb the scenic lookout tower. It turned out lots of other cottage-goers had the same idea to see the beautiful fall colors of the area so there was a decent wait before we could get in to the park and head to the tower.

The scenic tower, 30 meters / 100 feet high is on the site of the historic fire watch tower that was used from 1922-1961 where rangers would constantly view the forest for potential fires and Yogi Bear. The manning of the towers as fire watches ended in 1961 when aircraft replaced eyes on the ground in this role.

Interestingly, the tower is not the original fire watch tower but was placed in this spot in 1967. This replacement tower has an interesting history all of its own - it is a surplus DEW Line Radar Tower that used to house a radar to warn of Soviet bomber attack.

The view from the tower is quite simply spectacular:

Did I mention it is 128 steps up to the top, and 128 steps down, all performed by yours truly while holding a squirming 35 pound 3 year old who is busy hanging on for dear life to at various times one's neck, shirt, jacket, arm and shoulder? The quads and supporting arms reminded me for a solid day afterward, however she enjoyed it and was never in any danger of being dropped.

The next day of course it decided to snow, a wet slushy snow that was quite cold. We hardy few bundled up and went out for a walk, then into town and once back the snow had stopped so we played some street soccer with the kids and of course the little kids won. We then watched a Toronto Maple Leafs game that ended in their crushing defeat to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

On Monday we drove to Toronto to celebrate my niece's birthday and a good time was had by all.

Today we drove home, made decent time except for a very long delay at the border.

It seemed this was inspect everybody very thoroughly day and we had a very enthusiastic Border Patrol officer and she asked us a ton of questions about where we were, asked the kids who the people were in the van (correct answer given - Mommy and Daddy) and she looked inside the van, and saw Leah sleeping and remarked how cute she was. No big deal but certainly one of the most enthusiastic and thorough questionings we've ever gone through. This had Abby very worried and she even talked about it before going to bed tonight as she was concerned the "Police Officer" might take her toys away. I explained to her that her toys were fine and ok to bring back to the US and no one was going to take them away and the officer was doing a good job making sure no one brought in anything that was unsafe and that everyone was who they said they were.

So now I'm back and normal blogging will resume shortly.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Ancient Coin Post - A Year One Shekel of the Jewish Revolt Agaiants Rome

Obverse: Chalice with smooth rim, pearl on each side, the base is flat with pearled ends.

Hebrew inscription: Shekel of Israel , Year 1.

Reverse: Stem with pearled base and three pomegranates.

Hebrew inscription: Jerusalem the Holy

Silver, 13.51 grams

Date: 66 CE

My most expensive coin and perhaps one of the most historically significant.

This silver shekel coin dates to the first year of the (first) Jewish Revolt against Rome. The war began after continued abuse by the Roman Procurator Gessius Florus led the Jews to revolt.

The Jews drove the Romans from Judaea, at least for a time, and began striking their own silver and bronze coinage.

These shekels were issued for 4 more years, ending in the fifth year. The price of these shekels today steadily rises year by issued year, with the Year 4 shekel in the ten thousand dollar plus range and the Year 5 shekel selling in the hundreds of thousands of dollars due to its rarity. As you can guess, by Year 4, the war was not going well for the Jews and by Year 5 there was no question that Rome had the upper hand.

These thick silver coins are tangible connections to that great war. An account of the war at the time The Jewish War by Josephus is an interesting read. Written immediately after the war, he recounts the history that led to it, and the major battles and events that took place.

A great coin with incredible connections to history.