Thursday, July 26, 2007

Lightning, Scuba Diving, and a media mistake

Sad story of a diver killed off of Florida on Tuesday from the Associated Press via the Detroit Free Press:
July 23, 2007


DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. — Lightning struck a diver’s oxygen tank as he surfaced off Florida’s Atlantic coast, killing him, authorities said.

The 36-year-old man was diving with three others Sunday off a boat near Deerfield Beach, about 40 miles north of Miami. He had surfaced about 30 feet from the boat when lightning struck his tank, said Deerfield Beach Fire Chief Gary Fernaays.

The other divers struggled to get the man back into the boat and radioed for help, Fernaays said. The victim, whose name was not immediately released, was rushed to the beach, where a rescue crew gave him CPR. He was pronounced dead at North Broward Medical Center in Pompano Beach.

A severe thunderstorm warning had been in effect Sunday for Broward County.
The Broward County Medical Examiner’s Office planned an autopsy to determine if the man died by electrocution or drowned.
Ths is a sad situation, given that the metal of the tank is very attractive to lightning, its not good to be getting in or out of the water during a storm. If you under and deep enough you should be ok.

The mistake the AP makes is calling the gas tank an oxygen tank which doesn't make sense. Divers typically don't use pure oxygen as 100% oxygen at depths below 20 feet is toxic and can lead to convulsions and seizures underwater resulting in death.

The tank on a diver's back normally has either compressed air or a blend of air and more oxygen (called Nitrox) or helium (called Triox, Trimix or heliox depending on the helium and O2 and nitrogen percentages). Its unlikely that the diver was struck on a decompression bottle which would typically be oxygen.

While it seems like a small matter it is a very annoying misnomer and a grating inaccuracy to declare the gas tank on the diver's back as an oxygen tank.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Michigan Supreme Court Upholds Photo ID Law for Voters

Interestingly the law requiring photo ID for voters in Michigan dates back to 1996 and it has never been enforced as a prior (Democrat) Attorney General held it was unconstitutional (and very disadvantageous to democrat vote fraud efforts.

The Michigan Supreme Court in a 5 (Republican appointees) - 2 (Democrat appointees) decision has now ruled that the law is constitutional and valid, as reported in the Detroit Free Press.

A good ruling and a good start against voter fraud and for cleaner elections in Michigan.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Michigan gas prices highest in nation thanks to our sales tax

Michigan currently has the highest gas prices in the nation according to the Detroit News.

One reason is that we're at the end of the gas pipeline and its more expensive to ship it here from the refineries.

The other reason is that Michigan levies a 6% sales tax on top of the price of gas amnd all other federal and state taxes levied upon it. Yes, we're paying a tax on a tax. Further addding insult to injury, the only tax the sales tax is levied upon is the 19 cents road tax that is a fixed amount that doesn't change with the price of gas.

So gas can go up, we pay more taxes, the state gets more money and our roads worsen all at the same time.

Some of this windfall the state is experiencing from the increased take in sales taxes should be directed back towards fixing the roads and building new ones to enhance our infrastructure, which badly needs it. -- good luck on that happening.

Instead the state wants to raise the Road Tax on top of the already exorbitant take it is getting from the sales tax, thereby ensuring that Michigan is #1 in something - namely the price of gasoline.

Nunc Est Bibendum - Beer Blogging

As noted in yesterdays post, the weeather for the past few days has been rather cool for July. Courtesy of we can check the temps. Yesterday it did finally get up to 80 degrees, while the normal temp was 83, and the low, oh my the low was 48 degrees with the normal temp being 62 degrees. Must be all that Global Warming going around.

Regardless, after a day of meeting with students from an intro to law class and then a vigorous 30 minute walk around the neighborhood while pushing the baby in a rather heavy stroller at a brisk pace a fine drink was in order.

Nunc Est Bibendum - latin for "its time to drink", and since I had built up a bit of a sweat and by late afternoon it actuall hit 80 a summer beer was in order.

Sam Adams Cherry Wheat fit the bill nicely for an adult beverage on a fine day when all is right in this small corner of the world.

A Wheat Ale brewed with real Michigan Cherries, when served chilled is simply the perfect beer for a Michigan Summer's day. Lip-smackingly good, Sam Adams certainly ranks up there with the finest of beers, in fact I've tried quite a few of their varieties over time and none have dissappointed.

Be sure of course to drink responsibly.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Warm Weather is Not a Sign of Global Warming

Talk about confusing weather with climate. Marney Rich Keenan at the Detroit news certainly does when she writes
It seemed only fitting that days after the Live Earth concerts aimed to raise awareness of global warming, the nation was hit by a blistering heat wave. Detroit's high was 96; Washington, D.C., topped 100 degrees. t was Live Earth's figurative exclamation point, as if to say, "Now do you get it?".........
She ends the article that if you don't drink the Global Warming kool-aid that
Because the next time we get hit with a suffocating heat wave, (August is expected to be brutal) if you disregard all things green, you have no right to complain.

Wow the summer is hot, that's why its called....summer.

Are we to take her to task in the winter and following her logic declare that cold weather is proof that there is no such thing as global warming?

As usual its emotions not facts driving the GW hysteria. One has to admit that Al Gore is a genius - the surest way to sucess is to find a crowd and get in front of it, and by playing up to these ex-hippies fears why playing down the scientific lack of data on global warming, he's doing it admirably.

Speaking of emotions they certainly seem to be what's driving Keenan
Actually, I felt hopeful. Because, for a long time, I've been concerned about the new generation's lack of passion, wondering whatever happened to my youth's hallmark peace demonstrations, antiwar activists, sit-ins for social justice, urban renewal movements, not to mention the guilt of handing to my children the disgrace of our benign neglect for our planet.
Sorry but we're not going back to the flower-power age. You folks tried it and messed this place up quite nicely with your abandonment of the Vietnamese, your affirmative action gone overboard, your urban renewal that turned our urban centers into war zones and your constant nay saying and leftist down-on-America spirit that continues even today.

No thanks, there's a new generation coming along, one not indoctrinated by the left or at least one that questions the leftist dogma that you accepted as fact, one that thinks as well as emotes, and one that can recognize that while there are problems with this country, all-in-all it is a place to be proud of and a great place to call home.

And we like our summers hot here in Michigan, it makes up for the miserably cold winters, thank you very much.

Update (7/15/07): In the days since Ms.Keenan's polemic appeared, the Detroit area has been having unseasonably cool weather in the 60s and 70s. Obviously this means absolutely nothing as weather does not equal climate, but it is nice to see that the Gore effect still exists and even extends to his acolytes). (The Gore effect - wherever Al Gore appears to talk about global warming, unseasonably cool or cold weather including snow storms will appear).

Ford Going back to Soybeans

An interesting article in the Detroit Free Press today, that Ford will be using a new foam made from 40-50% soybeans in its Mustang Seat Cushions.

The benefits seem clear - reduced use of petroleum and it apparently uses less energy to produce, making it an economically viable choice.

As a historical aside, this is not the first time Ford has used soybeans in its vehicles. Around the time of the Great Depression, Ford began using soy as a way to get money to farmers so they could afford his vehcles. Some of the products Ford made from soy at the time were:

o Enamels used on Ford Bodies
o House Paints
o Varnishes
o Linoleum and Oil Cloth
o Printers Ink
o Glycerin
o Fatty Acids
o Soap
o Foundry Sand Cores
o Vegetable Shortening
o Oleomargarine
o Diesel Fuel


o Molded Parts
o Horn Buttons
o Gear Shift Knobs
o Distributor Parts
o Light Switch Assembly
o Timing Gears
o Glues and Adhesives
o Water Paints
o Core Bonds
o Plywood Glues


o Mbers–Pressed Boards
o Furfural
Source Copy of a publication of The Edison Institute of Technology Dearborn, Michigan at

Nice to see Ford going back to its roots.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Detroit News Gets it Wrong on Prison "Reform"

The Detroit News Editorial Follow Texas' lead in reforming state prisons has a fatal flaw: it doesn't seem to graps the correlation between higher incarceration rates and lower crime rates.
Like Texas, Michigan's exploding prison population and costs are not being driven by rising crime rates. In fact, the state's crime rate has been declining since 1981, according to a soon-to-be-released analysis conducted by the Citizens Research Council of Michigan.(emphasis added)

Yet Michigan's incarceration rate is now 45 percent higher than the average of the other seven Great Lake states, the CRC reports.

Like Texas, Michigan prison costs continue to skyrocket due to a back-up in granting parole, as well as rising health care costs and growth in the number of people imprisoned since the 1980s.
it seems the Detroit news can't understand that when criminals are incarcerated they are not capable of going out and committing more crimes, hence the existence of a high incarceration rate coupled with a lower crime rate.

While the article does point out some useful alternatives to incarceration, such as increased drug treatment programs, which probably should be adopted by the State, the cost of incarcerating criminals while expensive and easily measurable as a budget line-item, is still cheaper than the cost that the criminals can inflict on innocents outside the prison walls - costs measured in lives, injuries and stolen or destroyed property. Such costs are not as easily measured as the State budget for prisons, but they are real and far more painful then dedicating a portion of the budget to public safety and if necessary cutting other, unnecessary State programs.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

It's a Boat, It's a Car, It's Aquada!

It's a very cool Car / Boat amphibious vehicle that truly works.

Certainly the Aquada is the ultimate convertible.
Drive on in, the water is fine.
Push the blue land/water button as you drive down the boat ramp and as soon as the car reaches two feet of water, the wheels fold up under the wheel wells, the red and green navigation lights switch on and more than 2,000 pounds of thrust rumble in waiting.
Now if it came with a dive platform.....

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Dive Report: The Nellie Lyon

Last Sunday, courtesy of Jerry's friends we were given a deluxe boat ride on Lake St. Clair to the mouth of the St. Clair River where the wreck of the Nellie Lyon lies.

The Nellie Lyon, a sandsucker barge, sank in 1911 and was discovered in 2005 by the US Geological Survey and the Fish and Wildlife Service during a survey. It is certainly off the beaten path for divers, and we soon found out why.

Problem one was locating the wreck, and after a few dives searching we found it. Why was it hard to find?

Problem two was the absolutely lousy visibility, of approximately 1-3 feet. There was a lot of particulate running through the water that day and it was hard to keep the others in the dive team in sight.

Problem three was the current of at least 6 knots. You can swim all you like against it, but you don't get anywhere.

Once we found the wreck, we could only see little pieces of it with our lights - deck planking, steam pipes and other features a foot at a time. Finally we were separated and two of us were pushed off the wreck by the current and were picked up by the boat. One of the divers was able to take a few pictures with his Canon camera in an underwater case, and he'll hopefully send them to me soon and I'll post them up here so you can get an idea of what the experience was like.

The Nellie Lyon is a very cool wreck, but hopefully the next time we dive it the visibility will be better. It is certainly not a beginner's wreck dive.

For a really good write up of the wreck including some pictures see Ray's Scuba Page, which is an excellent Great Lakes Diving resource.