Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Dangers of Ice Fishing

As the season of winter approaches, with its freezing of the lakes and subsequent opening of the season of ice fishing, I thought it best to post this cautionary video.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Michigan's AG Mike Cox on the Second Amendment

Now that the Supreme Court has finally accepted a Second Amendment case for review, the first since the 1930s, we starting to see people's true stances on the Second Amendment.

Thankfully, Michigan's Attorney General, Mike Cox, unlike his most recent past two predecessors, is a friend of both the Constitution and the Individual rights view.

The Wall Street Journal carried his very well-written column on the subject:
Second Amendment Showdown
The Supreme Court has a historic opportunity to affirm the individual right to keep and bear arms.

Friday, November 23, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

The Supreme Court has agreed to take up a case that will affect millions of Americans and could also have an impact on the 2008 elections. That case, Parker v. D.C., should settle the decades-old argument whether the right "to keep and bear arms" of the Constitution's Second Amendment is an individual right--that all Americans enjoy--or only a collective right that states may regulate freely. Legal, historical and even empirical reasons all command a decision that recognizes the Second Amendment guarantee as an individual right.

The amendment reads: "A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." If "the right of the people" to keep and bear arms was merely an incident of, or subordinate to, a governmental (i.e., a collective) purpose--that of ensuring an efficient or "well regulated" militia--it would be logical to conclude, as does the District of Columbia--that government can outlaw the individual ownership of guns. But this collective interpretation is incorrect.

To analyze what "the right of the people" means, look elsewhere within the Bill of Rights for guidance. The First Amendment speaks of "the right of the people peaceably to assemble . . ." No one seriously argues that the right to assemble or associate with your fellow citizens is predicated on the number of citizens or the assent of a government. It is an individual right.

The Fourth Amendment says, "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated . . ." The "people" here does not refer to a collectivity, either.

The rights guaranteed in the Bill of Right are individual. The Third and Fifth Amendments protect individual property owners; the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments protect potential individual criminal defendants from unreasonable searches, involuntary incrimination, appearing in court without an attorney, excessive bail, and cruel and unusual punishments.

The Ninth Amendment protects individual rights not otherwise enumerated in the Bill of Rights. The 10th Amendment states, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people." Here, "the people" are separate from "the states"; thus, the Second Amendment must be about more than simply a "state" militia when it uses the term "the people." .....

Read the whole outstanding article.

Michigan's citizens should be glad for such an outstanding Attorney General, and thankful that we had the votes to reelect him to this post of importance and influence.

An Excellent Diving Thanksgiving and Abby's Birthday

An exceptionally fine weekend, and it is not over yet.

It happily started with Wednesday night going to the hockey game and watching the Red Wings crush the St. Louis Blues 3-0. Then on Thursday having the day off from work for Thanksgiving gave me much to be thankful for.

Thanksgiving, which is perhaps the ultimate American secular holiday with religious overtones, where one can gather with family, relax and reflect and enjoy.

And as a diver's thanksgiving it began, I and the rest of my dive team hit the cool (46 degree F) waters of Union Lake for a 9am dive. The visibility was quite good, and as I had just purchased and installed (with the help of my knowledgeable dive team friends) a set of Diving Concepts dry gloves, the dive was much more comfortable. When the water gets this cold, dry gloves add to your comfort and overall feeling of warmth immeasurably. The viz was good, plenty of fish were about and I actually began to have a back kick, a technique I've been working on for quite awhile, and while I certainly don't have it down yet, its nice to know its finally starting to come together.

After diving I came home while my dear wife got some time off to herself, and then she went shopping for Thanksgiving Dinner.

I prevailed upon her to buy a turkey and she outdid herslf - she bought all the vital parts of a fine traditional family dinner- a 14 pound fresh turkey, squash, potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing and more.

She then made perhaps the finest most succulent Turkey yet. Interestingly enough the Turkey seems to have led its previous life as a far-left Democrat as one had to open the legs and reach into the nether cavity to pull its neck out of its ass, an affliction that seems to have taken over the Democratic left as of late, but I digress. Indeed it was a most noble bird, served perfectly and we're still eating excellent leftovers with no end in sight. Thanks for a very fine Thanksgiving 'Tash.

Then, today the 24th was Abby's 4th birthday, a day ful of great excitement, beginning with her waking us at 6am to announce it was her birthday. Much like the army, having little kids means you do more before 9am than most people do all day.

First she received her present - a Fisher Price real digital camera (in pink of course):

She then took 60 pictures in about as many seconds, getting better with the camera all the while. This is a great product for kids - pretty tough, very simple to use, and easy to take pictures including viewing them on an LCD screen on the camera and a USB port for easy transfer to the PC for saving and printing.

We then had a 4th Birthday breakfast, including a cake with layers made by her Baba (Russian for grandmother of course) and a cream filing by Tash.

After that we watched Raffi and then went to the Olive Garden for Abby's favorite lunch - a cheese and black olive pizza.

We then drove to the Livonia YMCA and fulfilled her next birthday wish - she wanted to go swimming and swimming we went, and everyone had a good time.

She was then officially tired out and proclaimed it the best birthday ever. She gets a party tomorrow, so this weekend is not done yet.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

More Government waste - Clinton Firearms destruction policy still alive and well

Under 41 CFR 101-42.1102-10, Firearms from Federal agencies can only be transferred to State law enforcement which must abide by the same regulation for disposal, or smelted down.

This leads to an incredibly wasteful and spiteful destruction of fine, collectible firearms.

For example, the United States Park Police is transitioning from the HK P7 M8 and M13 in 9mm to the HK USP in 40 S&W. With approximately 600 officers, this is a large purchase, and a large number of P7s, marked with United States Park Police markings that will face destruction. Indeed, even officers are not being allowed to purchase their old service firearms but all will have tio be turned in and destroyed.

Based on good information from an anonymous source with knowledge of the transition, it is known that Glock Inc offered to trade a Glock 22 and a Glock 27 for each P7, at no cost to the agency. HK apparently offered a similar trade-in deal for their USP 40s.

Unfortunately, due to this Clintonian regulation, the P7s are going to be destroyed and the department has to spend some serious money, reequipping its officers with the new firearms rather than obtaining the same firearms without any cost to the Agency or the taxpayer.

Given the value of the P7s on the collector market are probably in the range of $600-700 dollars at least, and we're talking about a minimum of 600 firearms, that's a seriously wasteful and spiteful destruction of firearms, depriving collectors of rare firearms marked from a Federal law enforcement agency.

Multiply this waste by each armed federal agency and this is a serious wasteful legacy from the Clinton war on guns that has yet to be repealed or even addressed.

Abuse of Alcohol- Historic Fine Whiskey to be destroyed

While the raison d'etre of government is waste this needs to be halted: From WSMV Nashville:

Vintage Whiskey May Be Poured Out
Law Requires Officials Destroy Whiskey That Cannot Be Sold Legally
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Here's a sobering thought: Hundreds of bottles of Jack Daniel's whiskey, some of it almost 100 years old, may be unceremoniously poured down a drain because authorities suspect it was being sold by someone without a license.

Officials seized 2,400 bottles late last month during warehouse raids in Nashville and Lynchburg, the southern Tennessee town where the whiskey is distilled.

"Punish the person, not the whiskey," said an outraged Kyle MacDonald, 28, a Jack Daniel's drinker from British Columbia who promotes the whiskey on his blog. "Jack never did anything wrong, and the whiskey itself is innocent."

Investigators are also looking into whether some of the bottles had been stolen from the distillery. No one has been arrested.

Authorities are still determining how much of the liquor will be disposed of, and how much can be sold at auction.

Tennessee law requires officials to destroy whiskey that cannot be sold legally in the state, such as bottles designed for sale overseas and those with broken seals.

"We'd pour it out," said Danielle Elks, executive director of the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

“If it's forfeited to the ABC, we will divide the alcohol into sellable and unsellable alcohol. The alcohol that's available for sale will be auctioned off to the licensees in the state, and the funds will go to the state,” she said.

The estimated value of the liquor is $1 million, possibly driven up by the value of the antique bottles, which range from 3-liter bottles to half-pints.

One seized bottle dates to 1914, with its seal unbroken. Elks said it is worth $10,000 on the collectors market. Investigators are looking into whether the liquor was being sold for the value of the bottles rather than the whiskey.

"Someone was making a great deal of profit," she said.

Tennessee whiskeys age in charred white oak barrels, but the maturing process that gives them character mostly stops when it is bottled. A bottled whiskey can deteriorate over a long period of time, especially if it is opened or exposed to sunlight and heat.

Christopher Carlsson, a spirits connoisseur and collector in Rochester, N.Y., said old vintages of whiskey in their original containers are highly prized.

"A lot of these bottles are priceless," he said. "It's like having a rare painting. It's heavily collected."


For now, the whiskey is being stored in a Nashville vault.

Elks acknowledged that pouring out the whiskey would not be a happy hour for her.

"It'd kill me," she said.

Officials with Jack Daniel’s agree.

“Certainly we would be all in favor of the bottles being auctioned off in some way in which the proceeds could go to charity. We've had some discussions with ABC in Tennessee about that particularly, with the oldest bottle that dates back to 1914,” said Jack Daniel’s spokesman Phil Lynch.

But not everyone’s motives are so noble. Some just wish that enormous stash of Tennessee sipping whiskey could be put to good use.
. . .

Attorneys are currently researching Tennessee law to see if the bottles that aren't sold at auction could somehow be preserved for historical purposes.

Pouring a million dollars, literally down the drain is unconscionable and the law should be changed immediately to prevent such waste. At the very least convert it into E85 rather than pour it down the drain - some lucky car would get some very vintage fuel.

This is Jack Daniels Whiskey - a signature American and indeed Tennessean product, for the State of Tennessee to desecrate such a fine and historic item is simply awful. Indeed, the Executive Director of the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission even acknowledged it would be a terrible fate for such fine alcohol.

While my personal favorite is Irish Whiskey, specifically Bushmill's or Jameson's, Jack Daniels is an American icon and a fine and noble whiskey that can stand on its own merits and such historic whiskey, especially the 1914 bottle should be preserved. At least give it to the Jack Daniels Distillery with the condition that it must be kept there in a museum to show the history of their fine product, auction it off for charity in the state, or simply, since its already seized, make any buyer pay the appropriate tax on the alcohol and reintroduce it into the stream of alcoholic commerce.

Save Jack!

Monday, November 05, 2007

King Tut's face unwrapped and displayed

After more than 3,000 years, and just missing coming out for Halloween, he's looking rather well preserved, those Egyptian mummification techniques have withstood the test of time rather nicely indeed.

For the first time, the Cairo museum unwrapped King Tutankhamun's mummy and revealed his face to the world:

From the Associated Press:

By ANNA JOHNSON, Associated Press Writer Sun Nov 4, 2:09 PM ET

LUXOR, Egypt - King Tut's buck-toothed face was unveiled Sunday for the first time in public — more than 3,000 years after the youngest and most famous pharaoh to rule ancient Egypt was shrouded in linen and buried in his golden underground tomb.

Archeologists carefully lifted the fragile mummy out of a quartz sarcophagus decorated with stone-carved protective goddesses, momentarily pulling aside a beige covering to reveal a leathery black body.

The linen was then replaced over Tut's narrow body so only his face and tiny feet were exposed, and the 19-year-old king, whose life and death has captivated people for nearly a century, was moved to a simple glass climate-controlled case to keep it from turning to dust.

I remember when King Tut's mummy and a sample of the treasures found in his tomb were on a traveling exhibit and visiting it at the museum as a child - very impressive artifacts and something that certainly piqued my interest in history.

Whether this will spur a new interest in mummies or even a new sequel to The Mummy movies is open to question.

Friday, November 02, 2007

ex-Saudi Ambassador claims Saudis knew of the 9/11 plot beforehand and US could have avoided 9/11 by consulting with Saudi Arabia

From Little Green Footballs, referring to a report from CNN.
Saudi Arabia could have helped the United States prevent al Qaeda's 2001 attacks on New York and Washington if American officials had consulted Saudi authorities in a "credible" way, the kingdom's former ambassador said in a documentary aired Thursday.

Prince Bandar said that Saudi intelligence was "actively following" most of the 9/11 plotters "with precision."

. . .

Speaking to the Arabic satellite network Al-Arabiya on Thursday, Bandar -- now Abdullah's national security adviser -- said Saudi intelligence was "actively following" most of the September 11, 2001, plotters "with precision."

"If U.S. security authorities had engaged their Saudi counterparts in a serious and credible manner, in my opinion, we would have avoided what happened," he said.
So our dear "allies" the Saudis were actively following the plotters with precision.

maybe the translation was wrong and instead of following he meant funding?

Any credible reason for the Saudis not to pass on to US intelligence the identities of these precise plotters and details of the plot?

This doesn't say much for the Saudi side of the vaunted US-Saudi relationship when after knowing the plotters and tracking them with precision the Saudis sit idly by and watch a few thousand infidels get killed.

If his statements are true and why would he lie about this, it is well past time the US reexamines its relationship with the Saudis, and their poisonous wahhabbism.

Interestingly Bandar isn't giving the standard Arab line of the "Jews knew about it beforehand", its instead "We the Saudis knew about it beforehand, and if only you asked it wouldn't have happened". Since this is coming from the royal family and former official mouthpiece of the Saudis it should raise at least some question as to the Saudi government passively permitting or perhaps even actively assisting in the carrying out of the 9/11 attacks.