Monday, March 29, 2010

Happy Passover!

So a Happy Passover to my readers as the holiday approaches tonight.

Passover follows the standard Jewish holiday format:
1. They (in this case the Egyptians) tried to kill/enslave us
2. God delivered us from them and they failed.
3. Lets eat!

In essence, the entire holiday is focused around a special meal and prayers commemorating the Exodus from Egypt.

One interesting factoid before it begins tonight is the strange ahistoric appellation that the French use in naming Passover - La Pâque Juive.

Translated straight from the French it would read as Jewish Easter.

Methinks not.

Anyone else see the problem with the labelling?

Considering that Passover was celebrated long before Easter, and indeed the tale of Jesus' last supper was a Passover Seder, the French as usual, have it bass-ackwards.

Happy Passover!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Dives # 119 and 120 at Gilboa

Two good dives at Gilboa Saturday.

After a 2 and a half hour drive after getting up an ugly early hour for a Saturday, I got to Gilboa Quarry at 9am, the scheduled start time for our dust-off dives....

And joined the group of my fellow divers for this dive waiting outside the gate as it didn't open till 10. Sadly the website did not mention the late starts for March.


Well, James knows the owner of the quarry who came and opened it up at about 9:45 and after the world's longest waiver and paying the entrance fee, off to the diving spot we went.

Dive 1 : Basic skills and train wrecks.

And a train wreck it was. We all went down to the platform at 28 feet and started working on some basic skills - kicks, regulator removal and retrieval, and valve drills for those of us in doubletanks.

I sucked. Ok kicks but buoyancy control was off as was the valve drill. I need to practice more later.

On the good side, all the gear worked fine after the maintenance overhaul and the regulators breathed perfectly.

Dive 2 supposed to be an 8 minute skill dive - 1 minute descent per ten feet, stop at 40, come up ten feet each minute. Should be easy right? Not so much.

I'm in a team with Wes and John Mills for this exercise. John is in double tanks as am I, and Wes is in a single. Down we go and at 30 feet, here comes James. First he simulates Wes having an Out-Of-Air, so Wes swims to John and gets his long hose.

James then fails John's right valve post by blowing bubbles on that side.

The right valve post is where Wes happends to be breathing from.

John starts to shut it down, recalls Wes is on it, signals to Wes that he's out of air and points him to me. I then give Wes my long hose and he breathes off my tanks as we resume the ascent.

All of this is on video, and I swear the camera adds 10 pounds of lift! The extra lift of course messes up your buoyancy control nicely.

After the two skill dives we had a lesurely dive around the area- through the jet plane, in through the cargo jhatch of thehelicopter and up into the crew compartment - all good stuff.

By then the 43 degree water was getting a little chilly so it was time to get out.

We then went to a local restaurant, took over one of the TVs and hooked James' video camera to it and critiqued the dives. A decent learning experience and lots of points on where to improve.

The drive home sucked, especially due to construction on 275, with the signs warning of the construction and multiple lane closures happening right after the last possible exit before themess (thanks MDOT!). Of course no construction was occuring but two lanes were shut and about 35 minutes later I got past that couple miles of mess, having killed my return time completely. The things we do to get a good dive in.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

This Old Colt - A Colt Official Police Revolver

I just acquired this Colt Official Police Revolver.

Made in 1956, it has proudly served the Hamtramck Police Department in Michigan until now. Hamtramck is a city with a majority Polish population that is almost completely surrounded by the City of Detroit. While the revolver is unmarked, it was acquired by my friendly local FFL from the Police department in a trade and now this .38 special revolver rests in my collection.

It has some good, honest holster wear and clearly has seen some use but that's all real character wear and it is in nice condition with perfect cylinder timing and a nice crisp trigger and has the original Colt grips.

First made in 1927, the Colt Official Police Revolver was one of the best selling firearms for police of all time, with over 400,000 produced. Made during the time when police were transitioning from .32 to .38 special, the Colt quickly gained a following, especially as it could handle the heavier .38-44 loads that comparable Smith and Wesson revolvers could not. The pistol also served in World War 2 as the Colt Commando and was produced for then British in .38-200 caliber.

There's a few interesting features that readily distinguish the Colt revolvers' operation from Smith and Wesson's guns.

First, the cylinder release on a Colt works by pulling it back toward the grip. On the Smith you push it forward to open the cylinder.

More importantly, the Colt cylinder revolves in a clockwise fashion while the Smith rotates counter-clockwise. This is important if you have less than 6 cartridges to load and want to make sure your first shot goes bang rather than click. It is also an important feature to keep in mind if you're dumb enough to play Russian roulette.

This blog of course is completely against people doing such a stupid thing and recommends that you find some non-firearm method of removing yourself from the gene pool if you really are dumb enough to try Russian roulette for real to prevent your death being one used by the media and antis against responsible gun owners. You have been warned.

The Colt Official Police fits the hand well with the sights lining up nicely when raised. The rampant colt on the grips and on the frame memorialize when Colt was the top name in American firearms. Now outdated in terms of stopping power and capacity and replaced in policeman's holsters by higher capacity, more ergonomic polymer semi-autos, the Colt Official Police takes us back in time to when officers with revolvers on their hips and far less technology and resources than the officers of today have patrolled the streets to keep them safe. A nice piece of American history indeed.

Monday, March 22, 2010

You know you're a drunken fool when...

You call 911 on yourself for driving while drunk. Really.

The Detroit News: Police: Drunken driver called 911 on herself

East Lansing -- Police say a drunken driver called 911 and chatted with an emergency dispatcher for 20 minutes before she was pulled over and arrested in a Meijer parking lot in East Lansing.

Police Capt. Tom Johnstone said today that the 27-year-old Charlotte resident placed the call at 5:40 a.m. on March 13.

Johnstone says the woman admitted to being drunk and had difficulty expressing herself but was able to convey that "she shouldn't be behind the wheel."
Wow, ya think?

That's the nice thing about Mondays - you get all the weird crime reports from the weekend to scratch your head at and marvel at how anyone can be that dumb.

According to the report, the 911 operator was instrumental in getting this idiot to pull over. Nicely done in getting this moron to stop before she killed someone or herself.

The Pool is Open! - Dive # 118 Union Lake in March

With the last of the ice clearing from Union Lake it was dive time yet again in Michigan.

On Sunday the 21st, I dove with the incredible Reichy and two other divers, Matt and Dave, both good divers but not DIR trained. Nice guys and nice to meet and dive with them. Matt brought a nice camera setup along, and given he's going to got the DIR route should be a good diving buddy:

We'll see if he releases more pics. That's Reichy and me in formation approaching the speedboat.

The water was clear and cold, and cold. Did I mention cold, as in the ice just melted?

The details:
Bottom time: 38 minutes
Air temp: 38 degrees (previous optimistic number corrected)
Water temp: 41 degrees at the surface.
Max depth: around 30 feet.
Visibility: Excellent for Union Lake.

Yes, the water temp was warmer than the air temp - you really felt that when you got out too.

Ice cream headaches for all, especially on the deco stops on the way back up.

Some crayfish the size of small lobsters wandered around the bottom, waving their antennae and occasionally rearing up and clicking their claws in a threat gesture when you got closer to them. Some bass were seen and some small bait fish. We visited a few of the sunken speedboats and the wreck of the Model T Ford.

A darn good dive indeed, excellent buoyancy control and decent trim on my part. I actually achieved perfect weightlessness at 26 feet - no movement and just hanging in the same spot perfectly - very zen-like. Not bad for the first dive of the season. Excellent control on the ascent as well - Reichy and myself did a very controlled ascent

The one problem I had was a primary regulator with a persistent small freeflow. Basically it kept feeding air even when I wasn't trying to get a breath. Annoying in that it wasted gas and kept filling my mouth with air. Not too much of a problem on this dive as it was planned to be short, but even so, in 38 minutes I went from 2100 psi to 1100 psi in the tanks, still way above the red line of minimum breathing gas, but it was something to keep an eye on. Of course I have now taken that regulator in for service and I am getting the rest of the gear's annual inspection and maintenance done as well.

As we left the water, James, Chad, John and the rest showed up. James had announced the start time as 9am but the gang showed up at 11:00 - sleeping in when there's diving to be done - simply shameful. So we chatted and let them know what a lovely warm time they had to look forward to, and watched them get in the water. Then our dive team debriefed the dive and then headed of on our separate ways.

A very cool dive to open the season.

Next Saturday: Gilboa Quarry.

Friday, March 19, 2010

New Detroit City Council Marks Progress By Honoring a Cop-Killer

Meet the new City of Detroit Council, same bad leftist craziness as the old City of Detroit Council.

The Detroit News: Blast from Detroit City Council's past

Detroit's new City Council members haven't shaken off all of the peculiarities of the old body, which was notorious for weighing in on the side of leftists on national and international issues that had no relevance to Detroit.

Last week, the New Jersey Former Troopers Association sent a scathing letter to President Charles Pugh denouncing a resolution the council passed honoring the 60th birthday of Assata Shakur. Who is Assata Shakur and why was she recognized by Detroit's leaders?

She is the convicted murderer of New Jersey Trooper Werner Foerster and was in a New Jersey women's prison before escaping and fleeing to Cuba, where she was granted asylum by the communist regime.

As to why the Detroit City Council would feel kinship with a convict who gunned down another state's trooper during a routine traffic stop, better ask Pugh.
The interesting part is that this cop killer and current waste of Cuban living space is not even from Detroit. Assata Shakur/JoAnne Deborah Byron lived in New York and did most of her crimes in New York state and New Jersey with no record in Detroit.

So the Detroit City Council, with a myriad of problems confronting it including needing to address the City's crime rate, a lack of city services, and a city that still hasn't recovered from the riots of the 60s, and of course, the Council's own ongoing corruption scandal, takes the time out to celebrate a 70's-era radical Black-power cop-killer.

Pathetic. Not unexpected given the makeup of the Council, but pathetic all the same.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Defying Expectations and Piquing The Interest Of Seafood Lovers Everywhere - NASA Finds Shrimp Deep Under Antarctic Ice

So much for that whole scientific certainty thing, and a testament to the point of both how much we still don't know about the world. Life, even in the harshest of environments adapts, evolves, overcomes, and finds a way.

The Detorit News: NASA finds shrimp dinner on ice beneath Antarctica
In a surprising discovery about where higher life can thrive, scientists for the first time found a shrimp-like creature and a jellyfish frolicking beneath a massive Antarctic ice sheet.

Six hundred feet below the ice where no light shines, scientists had figured nothing much more than a few microbes could exist.

That's why a NASA team was surprised when they lowered a video camera to get the first long look at the underbelly of an ice sheet in Antarctica. A curious shrimp-like creature came swimming by and then parked itself on the camera's cable. Scientists also pulled up a tentacle they believe came from a foot-long jellyfish.

"We were operating on the presumption that nothing's there," said NASA ice scientist Robert Bindschadler, who will be presenting the initial findings and a video at an American Geophysical Union meeting Wednesday. "It was a shrimp you'd enjoy having on your plate."
Of course it was just one shrimp-relative, so we're hardly looking at under ice sea farming any time soon.

Yet another example of the need to constantly test your presumptions and expectations when dealing with the life and earth sciences. There's always something new and awesome out there and so much we just don't know.

So much for the "Robber will just take your gun away" canard

Instead its often the opposite:

The Detroit Free Press: Party store customer swipes masked man's gun, kills him

Three men were robbing the Super Y party store at the corner of Middlebelt and Ecorse roads at 9:30 p.m. Saturday when the customer, 37, and his fiancee, 35, both from Highland Park, walked in, Romulus Police Chief Michael St. Andre said.

The couple made a random stop at the store as the robbery was taking place, St. Andre said.

“They were ambushed and the female was ordered to the ground at gunpoint,” St. Andre said. “He began pleading with the suspect not to shoot her.”

Instead, one gunman pointed his weapon at the man, who grabbed it. They struggled, and the witness shot the gunman twice, according to investigators. The gunman then stumbled out the front door, collapsed and died, St. Andre said.
So much for the old canard that you shouldn't have a gun the bad guy will just take it from you. Instead, the bad guy got his taken from him.

Excellently and bravely done on the part of the quite heroic unnamed customer.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

According to her Dad, Rep Tlaib (D-Detroit) was an undocumented representative, and now she wants worker's comp for undocumented illegals

Apparently Tlaib seems to think being an "undocumented alien" is about the same no-big-deal thing as being an undocumented out-of-district Representative.

From the blogprof: Priorities: With MI in economic hell, Democrat introduces bill to extend workers' compensation rights to illegal immigrants

Yeah - you read that right. With Michigan having lead the country in unemployment for darn near 4 years now - straight - a Democrat bill has been introduced in the legislature to extend workers comp to illegal immigrants. Illegal. From MLive: Workers' compensation for illegal immigrants? State Rep. Rashida Tlaib introduces bill. Now guess from what part of Michigan the legislation originated. ...Wait for it...

State Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit)
Amazing, with Michigan in its worse economic condtion in just about ever, she wants to extend workers comp to people who shouldn't even be working. Of course there's now an interesting question as to whether Rep Tlaib is legitimately (D-Detroit) or is an undocumented representative herself. Thanks to her really annoying her father, the allegation has now come out from her dad that she was really living in Dearborn and gave a non-resident address when she ran for her Detroit legislative seat.

From The Detroit News: Rep. Tlaib's father: She didn't live in city
He says 12th District freshman lied about residency on election form; daughter claims dad is 'vindictive'
Now Tlaib's father is piping in. He said his daughter misrepresented her residency when she signed an election affidavit in 2008 with the Wayne County Clerk claiming she was a citizen of Detroit.

According to that affidavit, Tlaib claimed she lived at 9123 Rathbone in Detroit. That house is owned in part by her father, Harbi Elabed, and he now says she did not live there and he was only recently made aware that she had claimed so. "She lied," said Elabed, 61, an immigrant from Jerusalem and father of 14 who prides himself on Old World values of parental fealty. "She lied big-time to get elected. I never teach her that way. I teach her the right way. It's my house. She didn't live there. She lived in Dearborn in her house with her husband and boy."

Dearborn is not a part of the 12th House District that Tlaib was elected to represent.
Oops, you know its bad when your own dad drops the dime on you and throws open the whole question as to whether you were really qualified to be a representative of a district at the time she ran.

So an illegally residented representative wants illegal residents to get workers compensation, it all makes perfect sense.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

New Troubles And Worries About American Jihadis At Home And Abroad

First we have Jihad Jane herself, plotting to kill a Swedish Artist for the mere offense of drawing a cartoon that was insulting to Muslims. From The Detroit News: 'Jihad Jane' shows changing threat
U.S. suspect was recruited by overseas terrorists, officials say

The self-dubbed "Jihad Jane" who thought her blond, all-American profile would help mask her plan to kill a Swedish cartoonist is a rare case of a U.S. woman inciting foreign terrorism and shows the latest evolution of the global threat, authorities say.

The suburban Philadelphia woman, Colleen R. LaRose, was accused in Tuesday's indictment of trying to recruit jihadist fighters, and pledging to murder the artist, marry a terrorism suspect so he could move to Europe and martyr herself if necessary.
Sounds like a real winner here. Let me guess, the handsome foreigner swept this loser with poor self esteem off her feet on the internet and got her on the heady path to jihad and Islam along with a nice hijab for just the right look.

Then we have an America Jihadi in Yemen

The Detroit News: Yemen holds NJ man after al-Qaida sweep, shootout
Abdel-Hadi Shehata, imam of the Islamic Society of Delaware, said Mobley used to live one floor below him in an aging apartment complex in Newark and occasionally visited the society's Newark mosque to pray. Shehata said Mobley, who had a wife and young daughter, moved to Yemen about two years ago.

"I think to learn Arabic or something like that ... and to learn more about the religion Islam," he said.
And apparently he did.

He was raised in New Jersey, where he was on the high school wrestling team and earned a black belt in karate. Nearly a decade later, Sharif Mobley is a former nuclear plant worker under arrest in Yemen, suspected of being an al-Qaida member and accused of killing a guard in an attempt to break out of a hospital.

While some acquaintances were startled by the news out of the Middle East on Thursday, a former classmate said that Mobley had strong religious views in high school, often trying to convert friends to Islam, and became increasingly radical, especially after they graduated in 2002.
The radicalization of Americans is quite dangerous given that we won't ethnically profile or religiously profile, so American jihadis have an easier task at getting through the security systems currently in place.

Adding to the fun is that we're apparently allowing Somalis in the US to go to Somalia and fight on the terrorists' side. Anyone worried at all about the consequence of that?
Somali-Americans have become a particular concern to American security officials. Young Somali-American men have been traveling from the U.S. to fight jihad in Somalia, raising fears they are receiving terror training and returning to the U.S. ready to launch attacks.

Americans are valuable to terrorist groups, in part because they can travel easily, without arousing much suspicion.
Adding to the fun is that Mobley is one of these Somali-American jihadis who just happened to turn up in Yemen and kill some people while hanging with Al Qaeda and learning about Islam. Unfortunately for Mobley he has a whole lot less constitutional protections while doing the jihad in Yemen than Jihad Jane, safely charged in the US. In both cases, let's hope someone is paying attention to the recruitment of Americans to the War on America and lesser included infidels.

Update (3/15/10): Apparently I was prescient and pretty close to the mark with my comment that "Let me guess, the handsome foreigner swept this loser with poor self esteem off her feet on the Internet and got her on the heady path to jihad and Islam " regarding Jihad Jane:
Mother of 'Jihad Jamie' Describes Daughter as 'Lonely and Insecure'
Mott said Paulin-Ramirez, who fled the country with her six-year-old son, was "lonely and wanted to get someone to love her."

"Jamie is not an evil person," Mott said in an interview Monday with Fox News. "She was sucked into something that she had no idea what she was getting herself into."

Mott blamed her daughter's Algerian husband for her alleged involvement in the plot, saying the man embraced radical views that did not represent Islam.
Nice to see I called it right, but apparently it was her Algerian husband with a yet oh-so-common "misunderstanding" of Islam that pushed her onto the path of being a little jihadi...

Out of Contention for Mother of The Year.....

And the rest of the family isn't in the running for any awards either....

The Detroit News: Brawl erupts at sentencing of Detroit mom for murder

A courtroom melee injured deputies and resulted in four arrests today during the sentencing of a woman convicted of driving her son to a recreation center to shoot and kill another teen.

"Basically, a riot erupted," said Wayne County Circuit Judge Daniel Ryan.

Ryan said he had just sentenced Taranisha Davis, 35, at about 11:30 a.m. to serve 22 1/2 -40 years in prison for her conviction on murder charges when she attacked a deputy. Members of Davis's family quickly jumped over benches and railings into the well of the court to join the fight.
What kind of mom drives her fifteen-year old to his hit?
Ryan had already sentenced Davis's son, 15-year-old Tremaine Davis, to serve 10-25 years for shooting and killing Demitry Jackson. The 19-year-old was an innocent bystander who had come to the Considine Little Rock Family Center on Oct. 8 to play basketball.

Tremaine Davis had been punched in the face at a bus stop earlier and was driven by his mother back to the center to take revenge. Witnesses said he pulled a handgun from under the hood of his mother's minivan, after she released the hood latch inside the van.

Jackson hadn't been involved in the earlier incident....several Davis family members were being held in custody and may face charges of assault on a police officer and contempt of court.

The mom more than did the driving, she helped in the setup that killed a complete innocent - real people person material we got here? The rest of the family deserves some decent prison time for jumping in, one hopes they don't fall down the stairs while being escorted by Wayne County Deputies...

Attacking the deputies at her sentencing probably isn't going to get her any time off for good behavior under Governor Granholm's new early release plan, but you never know.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

RIP: Corey Haim - December 23, 1971 - May 10, 2010

'Lost Boys' actor Corey Haim dead at 38

Having grown up with Corey and going to the same middle and high school in Toronto, it is a real shock to hear that he's died.

Corey was a real nice guy, and that's how I'll remember him. We were in drama classes after school together and he certainly had some real acting talent even then. Great sense of humor, quick on the improv, and a good guy to have around.

Even after his career started in Hollywood and he came to Toronto to visit he was still the same good guy he had always been, the success in the early phase of his career didn't make him act differently with his friends.

It's too damn bad that drugs wrecked his life and all that potential.

Rest in Peace.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

That's Gotta Be Embarrassing: Montana School Superintendent Has A Negligent Discharge of A Musket in School.

The Detroit News: Superintendent accidentally fires gun during class

The superintendent of a rural Montana school district says he was showing students his black powder muzzleloader when he accidentally fired the weapon into a classroom wall during a history lesson.

Dwain Haggard, who used to be a Civil War re-enactor, was showing the gun to five students in Reed Point High School's American history class Friday when it fired.

No one was injured, and Haggard says he can't explain how the weapon was loaded.

He says he usually fires a cap during the demonstration, but this time there was a loud bang and the room filled with smoke.

The ball shot through the "o" in the word "North" on a wall map.
Perhaps it was a Confederate Musket then?

The only real way to tell if a civil war era musket is really loaded or not is to take it to a safe place, point it in a safe direction and pull the trigger. Just putting a rod down the barrel is not enough as you could possible miss the bullet.

Luckily no one was hurt as the Superintendent, while violating Rule #1, remembered the other rules of gun safety and kept it pointed in a safe direction on firing the "unloaded" gun.

Remember the Rules Of Gun Safety:

1. All guns are always loaded.
2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.

Monday, March 08, 2010

The Swiss Narrowly Escape Their Animal Attorney Overlords

Swiss voters reject giving abused animals a lawyer

The result was emphatic: Swiss voters don't think abused animals need to have their own lawyers.

It's a proposal that would never even come near a referendum in other countries, but the measure's defeat Sunday disappointed animal rights advocates, who say Switzerland's elaborate animal welfare laws aren't being enforced.

Talk about animal rights gone amok or a-lawyer, court appointed attorneys for animals - what will those Swiss think of next?

In Switzerland there apparently already is a non-court-appointed attorney for animals, he's just not paid for by tax dollars:

According to the country's only animal lawyer, Antoine F. Goetschel, public prosecutors are often unsure about animal rights and shy away from pursuing cases even if there is clear evidence of abuse. He said the cost of Sunday's measure would have been less than 1 Swiss franc ($1) per person a year. . . .
Goetschel said he represents about 150-200 animals annually in Zurich, while in other cantons (states), only a handful of cases go to court each year.

Most of his clients are dogs, cows and cats, Goetschel told The Associated Press in a recent interview. Many cases involve the serious abuse of animals, such as deliberate wounding, rape and neglect.
How do these animals sign a retainer letter I wonder? Talk about your case is a real dog.

In any case, its not like there aren't perfectly overgood Swiss laws that define animal care with Swiss-watch-like precision:
Switzerland tightened its laws two years ago and now has among the strictest rules anywhere when it comes to caring for pets and farm animals.

The country's 160-page animal protection law states exactly how much space owners must give Mongolian gerbils (233 square inches) and what water temperature is required for African clawed frogs (18-22 degrees Celsius; 64-72 degrees Fahrenheit)

It stipulates that pigs, budgies, goldfish and other social animals cannot be kept alone. Horses and cows must have regular exercise outside their stalls and dog owners have to take a training course to learn how to properly look after their pets.

Like in other countries, the law also forbids killing animals in a cruel fashion or for fun.

That's a pretty specific and overbearing piece of formalistic legislation right down to the square footage for gerbils. It doesn't sound like the law comes with inspectors that check your house to ensure your aquarium is at the right temperature, but that you would be violating the law if you're off a bit is quite scary. Very European in its formalism and state control over individual activities. Also very European in that it assumes people need to be instructed and compelled by law in order for them to behave properly. There oughta be a law, and the Swiss have it in spades.

Of course the law gets taken by extremists to extremes:
But in one high-profile case last month, Goetschel represented a dead pike after an animal protection group accused the angler who caught it of cruelty for taking 10 minutes to haul the fish in.

The angler was found not guilty.
Quite a fishy case indeed, and a good example of a law passed with noble intentions gone amok. Prosecuting an angler over a dead pike being caught presumably to be consumed by said angler is pretty darn frivilous. Besides, Pike chowder is tasty.

While there is no such thing as animal rights, there certainly are obligations that people take on when the obtain a pet or animal, such as not abusing them and caring for them appropriately. After all what the heck is the point of having a pet if you abuse it or don't treat it properly?

Thankfully the Swiss are saved, at least for now, from having their own money used to have themselves prosecuted in the name of various caught fish and assorted roadkill.

Moose bites can be pretty nasty, but they're worse when they come at you with a summons and complaint.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Craziness Concerning Coca-Cola

There's a lot of silly myths a rumors floating about the Internets and the world in general.

Some of the strangest are those dealing with Coca-Cola. So much so that Coke on its website has a whole section devoted to knocking down these myths. Of course, there's the standard drinking Diet Coke and Mentos will kill you myth along with many others.

The very interesting myths on the site are those spun in the Muslim world, where the credulous fellahin apparently will believe anything.

Such wonders as:

Rumor: Anti-Muslim messages appear in graphics (No Mohammed, No Mecca)

Some people have been lead to believe that the Coca-Cola trademark can be translated to "No Mohammed, No Mecca" in Arabic when it is reversed and read from left to right.

Our Response: This claim is not true. The Coca-Cola trademark was created in 1886 in Atlanta, Georgia, at a time and place where there was little knowledge of Arabic.

The allegation has been brought before a number of senior Muslim clerics in the Middle East who researched it in detail and refuted the rumor outright.

During the late 1990s, a special committee of authorities in Saudi Arabia, with representatives from the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Trade, was formed to review the rumors against the Coca-Cola logo. The committee determined that there is no basis to these false allegations and that the Coca-Cola trademark does not connote anything defamatory to Islam.

More recently, in May 2000, the Grand Mufti of Al-Azhar (the Islamic world's foremost institute) Sheikh Nasr Farid Wassel, said that "the trademark does not injure Islam or Muslims directly or indirectly." Moreover, he stated that Islam is against "the propagation of empty rumors and intended lies that affect either public or private interests."

Rumor: The Coca-Cola Company is a Jewish company. (Variations of this rumor suggest that the Company is affiliated with the Mormon religion.)

Our Response: No. The Coca-Cola Company is not affiliated with any specific religion or ethnic group. We also do not support or oppose governments, political or religious causes. The Coca-Cola Company is a publicly listed company, with shareowners of different religions and ethnic groups all over the world. Anyone can buy Coca-Cola shares through their financial institution.

We believe the origins of this rumor date back to 1967, when the Arab League pronounced a boycott against companies for conducting business in Israel, following the tensions in the Middle East. The Coca-Cola Company and its bottling partners were present in many Arab and Muslim countries before Coca-Cola was introduced in Israel, and came back to the Arab countries as soon as the boycott was lifted.

Spreading such allegations is an attempt to exploit a delicate situation in the Middle East, and to falsely suggest that the Coca-Cola business takes sides

Pretty funny stuff. It must be the great Judaeo-Mormon plot to corrupt Islam and replace their precious bodily fluids with cola-flavored carbonated water, but only if you stand on your head while reading the label backwards.

Unfortunately, the Muslim world tends to believe a great many false rumors - some of them far more harmful and disturbing than those concerning Coca Cola.

Too bad they don't get some rational sense of disbelief, chill, and drink a nice cold Coke.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

In The Land Of The Illiterates The School Board President Is King

Can you qualify to be the president of the School Board if you can't write in English? In Detroit - Yes you can!

Does DPS leader's writing send wrong message?

The president of the Detroit school board, Otis Mathis, is waging a legal battle to steer the academic future of 90,000 children, in the nation's lowest-achieving big city district.

He also acknowledges he has difficulty composing a coherent English sentence. Here's a sample from an e-mail he sent to friends and supporters on Sunday night, uncorrected for errors of spelling, grammar, punctuation and usage. It begins:

If you saw Sunday's Free Press that shown Robert Bobb the emergency financial manager for Detroit Public Schools, move Mark Twain to Boynton which have three times the number seats then students and was one of the reason's he gave for closing school to many empty seats.

The rest of the e-mail, and others that Mathis has written, demonstrate what one of his school board colleagues describes, carefully, as "his communication issues." But if these deficits have limited Mathis, as he admits they have, they have not stopped him from graduating from high school and college. In January, his peers elected him president by a 10-1 vote over Tyrone Winfrey, a University of Michigan academic officer.....Can Mathis read?

"Yes, I can read. I'm capable of reading a lot of information and regurgitation," says Mathis, who told me he sometimes needs to read documents two or three times to fully comprehend their contents but then masters -- and memorizes -- them.

Indeed, Mr. Mathis couldn't graduate from Wayne State University in Detroit as he couldn't pass the English proficiency test. He only passed when they removed the requirement for the test:
He graduated from Southwestern High School in 1973 with what he says was a 1.8 grade-point average but was previously reported as a .98 average. After serving in the Navy, Wayne State placed him in a special program to help academically unqualified students move forward, on the G.I. Bill.

He stayed at Wayne for 15 years, as a student and a counselor, becoming a virtual "prisoner of Wayne," as he jokes, unable to graduate.

Mathis and another student unsuccessfully challenged the use of an English proficiency test as a requirement for graduation. In 1992, when the case went to trial, the lawsuit gained national attention. Mathis said then his failure to pass the test "made me feel stupid." The requirement was eventually dropped in 2007, and Mathis applied to get his degree the next year, after his election.

However, illiteracy in Detroit School Board officials may not be a bug - it could be a feature!
"I know he's a terrible writer. Oh wow, I've seen his e-mails," says Ida Byrd-Hill, a parent and activist who runs a nonprofit and is a member of Mensa, the high-IQ group.

"His job, though, is to represent the community. His lack of writing skills is prevalent in the community. If anybody does, he understands the struggles of what it's like to go through an institution and not be properly prepared."
Pick you're jaw up off floor there, I'll wait.

The Detroit Public Schools have a graduation rate of 24%, and many of them are as likely as not functionally illiterate due to the policy of social promotions as the School Board President himself.

Detroit Public Schools doesn't need leadership that reflects the illiteracy of the community, it needs leadership that can teach the kids in its care to read, write, think and improve themselves.

Hamas Afraid To Mess With The Zohan

As you may recall, the comedy You Don't Mess With the Zohan starred Adam Sandler as an Israeli commando that only wanted to be a hairdresser.

Hamas apparently is worried that could really happen:

The Detroit NewsHamas bans men from women's hair salons

Gaza's Islamic militant Hamas government has banned men from working in women's hair salons.

Thursday's announcement comes amid a Hamas campaign to impose Islamic customs on Gaza's 1.5 million people.

Since seizing Gaza in 2007, Hamas has taken gradual steps in that direction while avoiding a frontal assault on secularism. However, the movement is under growing pressure from more radical Islamist groups to prove its fundamentalist credentials.

The Hamas Interior Ministry says those violating the new ban face legal consequences, but will not elaborate.

Islamic tradition forbids women from showing their hair to men who are not their husbands or blood relatives.

Still, until now allowances were made for male hairdressers working in women's salons in Gaza City.
Now not so much, and the stylists are about to face a little medieval style misogyny to "protect" them from the deadly effect of women's hair rays. Hmm, theocratic, misogynistic and anti-west, let's give 'em a state!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Detroit Police Using Broken (Car) Windows Theory To Fight Crime

The Detroit News: Detroit police crackdown crosses line, critics say
Obeying stop signs is no longer optional in the city, and police now are pulling over motorists for violations like cracked windshields or busted tail lights.

Detroit police often overlooked such infractions in the past, but Police Chief Warren Evans has ordered officers on his Mobile Strike Force to stop motorists in high-crime areas for any legal reason in hopes of finding unregistered guns.

In addition, officers on the strike force, made up of specialized units like the Gang Squad and the Fugitive Apprehension Team, are knocking on doors of known parole and probation violators and their relatives in high-crime areas.

The tactics have been credited with cutting crime and getting guns off the street, but civil rights advocates say the aggressive policing may be crossing the line and has led to an increased number of civilian complaints against the department.
It appears that Chief Evans is using the very effective Broken Windows Theory of crime prevention - cracking down on small infractions that leads to busts for large ones, and increasing deterrence as a result.

Of course the criminals aren't happy about it:
We're asking officers to make legal stops of cars that look suspicious that have broken traffic laws," Evans said. "Is that too much to ask?"

But Ron Scott, director of the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, said Evans' approach could lead to racial profiling or other abuses. "What do they deem suspicious -- young African-American men who happen to be driving in a high-crime area?" he said.
Considering the city is about 90% African American (As is Chief Evans btw) and young men do commit the disproportionate share of crime so I guess the non-politically correct answer to such a stupid question is "Statistically speaking, yes indeed".

Evans insists his methods are working. Detroit police confiscated 20 percent more unregistered firearms in 2009 over the previous year, 2nd Deputy Chief John Roach said. Cocaine seizures are up 479 percent, while there has been a 115 percent increase in the amount of heroin confiscated during that time, Roach said.

Meanwhile, murders have dropped since Evans took over. There were 379 homicides in Detroit last year, up from 375 in 2008. But in the first six months after Evans became chief in July 2009, there were 179 murders in the city -- a 20 percent decline from the same period in 2008.

Evans said the approach is a significant reason for the drop in homicides, because it is getting violent criminals off the street.

"If you stop someone for a traffic violation it often leads to other things," Evans said.
And of course increased citizen complaints from the thugs and thug-lites that get nabbed -
But there also has been an uptick in citizen complaints since Evans took over as chief in July. There were 1,732 citizen complaints to the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners in 2009, down from the 1,736 complaints logged in 2008, according to figures released by the police commission. But during the second half of 2009 -- Evans' first six months as police chief -- the commission received 10 percent more citizen complaints over the same period in 2008.
Then again, they're complaining that the Detroit Police Department is actually enforcing the law in the City of Detroit -
During a Feb. 26 night patrol, Evans and Jones pulled over eight vehicles. Violations ranged from broken windows to failing to obey stop signs. Of the eight vehicles stopped, only two had the required paperwork: driver's license, registration and proof of insurance. One motorist was in possession of an unregistered gun, which was confiscated. Another stop netted a carload of teenage boys smoking marijuana. They told police they were headed to a strip club.

Griffin said he recently rode along with a Mobile Strike Force crew. "Every person they stopped, whether it was for a broken headlight or whatever, they asked the question, 'Do you think you'd get away with this if you were driving in the suburbs?' And every one of them said no.

"So they knew they were breaking the law," Griffin said. "They just thought they could get away with it in Detroit."
Its certainly time that Detroit followed the lead of New York and LA in adopting real effective law enforcement.

Until Detroit gets crime and corruption under control it is not going to even have a chance at a real recovery.

Kudos to Chief Evans for trying to tackle the crime problem using some proven and effective methods.

A Book and A Movie: Reviews of I,Sniper and Dead Snow

Just finished both I, Sniper and Dead Snow.

First I, Sniper:

The title dates you culturally - when you first hear I, Sniper did you think I, Robot or iPhone?

Continuing the Bob Lee Swagger series, Stephen Hunter writes a heck of a good book. Someone is killing a bunch of 60s leftists that suspiciously resemble Jane Fonda, Bill Ayers, and Bernadine Dorn and maybe Bill Maher. The blame gets placed on Vietnam-era sniper Carl Hitchcock (a thinly veiled homage to the great Carlos Hathcock) and its up to fellow Sniper legend Bob Lee Swagger to find the truth and restore the honor of his fellow marine sniper. It then gets better from there - excellent realistic gunfights, a plot twist and a subplot twist that you don't see coming.

If you haven't read any of the Bob Lee Swagger series, I'd suggest waiting on reading this book until you do. Recurring characters and a wonderfully interwoven storyline makes the book an excellent continuation of the series, but I'd suggest you start with the first book Point of Impact and work your way forward and enjoy the read. Its a great series and Hunter keeps producing books you can't put down.

Next, Dead Snow:

This movie has got Nazis, it's got Zombies, It's got Nazi Zombies - Brilliant!

This film is the epitome of the Norwegian Zombie Genre. As far as I know it is also the only extant Norwegian Zombie movie but that makes it the epitome now doesn't it?

As many a classic zombie movie begins, a bunch of Norwegian teens go forth in winter and decide to search for lost Nazi gold. Unfortunately the gold does not rest by itself and the undead Nazis rise to protect it and much mayhem ensues.

The only thing that could have made the movie better was if it had Vidkun Quisling reanimated as a zombie alongside his Nazi compatriots and if he then addressed the live Norwegians before beating on them in imitable zombie fashion:


Damn fun movie to watch.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Toyota's President Gets Called On The Capter By The Chinese

Or is he just being called on the floor mats?

Toyota's president to visit China today
Toyota President Akio Toyoda will speak today in China about his company's quality problems, seeking to boost confidence and ease consumer worries in the world's biggest auto market.

Toyoda, who testified at a U.S. Congressional hearing last week about the spate of global recalls plaguing Toyota Motor Corp., will speak to reporters at a Beijing hotel, company spokeswoman Ririko Takeuchi said.

The number of vehicles being recalled in China is small compared with the 8.5 million vehicles recalled worldwide since October for sticky gas pedals, faulty floor mats and glitches in braking software.

That China is taking the Japanese to task for automobile quality is, if not the definition of ironic, given the simply amazing quality of Chinese automobiles and other consumer goods, then you can see it from here.

Kids Say The Darndest Things

So as I'm getting ready for work this morning and the kids are discussing how they can't share Abby's new (and only) lip gloss:

Abby (6 years old): And we especially can't share my lip gloss.

Leah: (3 Years) Why?

Abby: Cause I have a . . .(pointing to a cut on her lip), I can't remember what its called.

Leah (helpfully): a heart attack?

Abby: No, heart attacks only happen to old people, I'm not old, and my left arm feels fine and my chest is not hurting so its not a heart attack.

Leah: Oh, okay.

Some days you don't want to leave home because you really want to hear what will come next....