Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve - Happy New Year to You

So its 7pm, Dec 31, 2008, 5 hours until the New Year.

The kids are freshly bathed, in their New Year's dresses and excited to receive their New Year presents. New Year is a big holiday for us and its a very good time.

The feast has been well prepared by Natasha and her Mom, visiting here for the holidays.

So we'll have our traditional New Year's Feast, declare New Year to take place at 10 pm for the kids, watch 2009 come into town at midnight with the kids tucked in their beds. A quite family friendly night, that's for us.

2008 has brought quite a number of changes and challenges - political, economic and familial. All in all it was a good year, could have been better but no use complaining, and it could have been worse so no worries.

So happy New Year to you and yours and may it be a peaceful and successful one for you. May 2009 be better than 2008.

IDF Gaza Operations footage on YouTube

You can see footage of Gaza operations on the Israeli Defense Forces YouTube channel.

Good stuff.

Go get 'em IDF, good luck, and may God bless you all and may you send the terrorists to their just desserts.

Also, its not too late to make a donation to the Friends of the IDF and do some good and get a charitable deduction on your taxes for 2008!

The eye almost has it

I visited the doctor this morning before work and there's some decent improvement - the eye is seeing normally again. On the downside there's a bit a scaring he wants to treat but it looks like the infection is gone and the corneal tear is healing pretty well.

It still feels like there's a bump on the eye but that will hopefully go away with further treatment.

At least I'm down to only taking 1 drop three times a day rather than three different drops.

On with the end of 2008....

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Some Mideast Irony

Sometimes the irony that is the instanity of the islamist Middle East just writes itself: Suicide bomber hits anti-Israel protest in Iraq

Typically its the suicide bombers attacking Israelis. Failing to be sucessful in that, now that Israel has a security fence and is activly preventing these terorrists from reaching civillians and taking military action against Hamas in Gaza, they atttack their fellow arabs in Iraq no less, while they are protesting and condemning Israel.

One civilian was killed and 16 were wounded when a suicide bomber blew himself up when he rode his bicycle into the middle of an anti-Israeli demonstration in the city," local police Major Wael Rasheed told AFP.

Talk about your ironic target selection.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Snow does stop the mail

The US Postal Service:
Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds

In Michigan, not so much.

Snow stops 'em from delivering mail quite nicely.

On Friday, as I blogged before, we had a wicked storm with blowing winds and dumping over a foot of snow. No mail delivered to my street that day and I have no complaints, I wasn't about to go out in that either.

Saturday our street wasn't plowed...but the day was clear - no mail.

Monday our street wasn't plowed...but the day was clear - no mail.

We went to the Post Office and picked up some mail and were told that until the Oakland County Road Commission plows the mail does not get through.

Ok our street does have the hill from hell, and as they don't plow it, it gets a nice sheet of ice and you need to take a running start from the end of the street to get to the top and onto the main road unless you have 4 wheel drive, but what about the mail must go through?

Can the mail person get out of the vehicle at the top of the road and deliver it on foot?

Nope, as the post office related its a vehicle route they by rule will not get out to do deliveries and until the RCOC plows its no mail.

Sure enough there was no mail. There was also no plowing.

Finally nature intervened with this lovely snow melt and mild temperatures, melting the road ice sheet and lo, there was mail delivery again, and it was good.

But a cherished myth of Post Office dependability and reliability is sadly dashed however. Snow does stop the mail.

My new CZ 82

The CZ vz 82 Pistol:

I just received this from SOG Inc as a Curio and Relic. In my humble opinion, its the best value in curio and relic firearms at this time.

Designed in Czechoslovakia by the famous Ceska Zbrojovka (CZ) company to be the military sidearm in 9mm Makarov caliber for the Czech army to replace the CZ52, its a very impressive firearm.

It has a 12 round double-stack magazine, double action / single action operation with ambidextrous safety and magazine release and truly excellent three-dot fixed sights for a military firearm. The trigger pull is nice and smooth in both double and single action. It is one of the first pistols fielded with a polygonal rifling barrel - making it seem to almost be smoothbore at first glance as there are no traditional lands and grooves visible. It is a blowback firearm, with a fixed barrel that gives impressive accuracy.

It is easy to field strip and clean, following the Walther PP and Makarov take down procedure - make sure its empty, pull down on the trigger guard, pull the slide all the way back, lift the rear and gently slide the slide off the frame. Remove the spring from the barrel and there you have it. Easy to clean and reassembly takes place in reverse order.

Here's a video of Czech troops demonstrating field stripping the CZ vz 82:

Size wise, it has a 3.8" barrel, is all metal, weighing 28 ounces. It is small enough to disappear in a front jeans pocket, even with the double stack grip. It is very ergonomic and comfortable.

Accuracy was very good indeed hitting coffee cans with aplomb out to 50 yards in low light while holding a surefire light. No failures to function, just a nice smooth trigger and it went bang every time.

With it being in 9x18 Makarov, with a decent hollowpoint like Hornady's XTP, I'd have no problem carrying it as a nice compact Concealed Carry firearm.

Mine has the standard Czech military black paint baked on finish. It has some definite character wear - some scratches, some wear points on the grip but mechanically is perfect making it a very nice addition to my collection. Mine has a stamp indicating it was made in 1985 and has a Czech military acceptance stamp - a nice piece of Cold War Eastern European history.

The pistol came with 2 12 round magazines, a lanyard loop, cleaning rod and a huge ambidextrous holster that holds the pistol, spare magazine, cleaning rod and lanyard in a very clever design - great for military use, useless for CCW as its real big.

In short this is a can't miss purchase for the Curio and Relic FFL holder.

It is also a decent affordable choice for a self defense CCW pistol for those on a budget who can shoot well. 9mm makarov ammo is readily available, relatively inexpensive and effective in capable hands, and the CZ 82, with its negligible recoil, excellent ergonomics, capacity and accuracy make it a perfect platform for the cartridge.

I'd highly recommend the CZ vz. 82.

Update 1/24/09 I had an opportunity to take the vz.82 pistol out to an indoor pistol range and shoot it at some targets in decent lighting conditions.

Feeding was flawless, including firing 25 rounds of the Hornady XTP hollowpoints. Accuracy was ridiculously good, tearing the X out of a target at 7 yards in a very tight group. No real recoil allowed for very quick shot-to-shot times. Over 225 rounds through it and not a single problem. To say that I'm pleased and impressed with this purchase would be an understatement.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Trials, tribulations, and a real boring dark room

There's a reason I haven't been blogging.

Last Thursday, I began a trial couple hours away in Port Huron. It turned into a 16 hour day with 2 hours of travel to and from, and a return to the office at night to get some prep done before returning to trial expected to begin on Friday morning.

A snowstorm was predicted for Friday morning.

So Thursday night I get the car ready, make sure all the fluids are at the right levels, get the car packed with all the trial stuff, and go to bed with a slight eye ache. I suppose its just eye strain from a long day and long drive in darkness to and from the trial.

I get up around 5, shower, down a quick breakfast and get the Jeep out and hit the road.

Its already snowing - heavily. No lane markers remain visible, everything is a nice sheet of white and its still coming down. The eye hurts some more.

I press on, getting to the highway in 4 wheel drive. The snow gets worse, speed is down to about 30, visibility 10 feet and dropping. Its not getting better.

I keep on going but the visibility keeps dropping, cars are skidding wildly, some already in the ditches. In the time so far I've gotten just about a third of the way, less than what it normally takes to get half the way there.

Time to reconsider.

I call the partner on the file and let him know the score, he's on a different highway heading there and wants to press on. Since the conditions and visibility are nearing zero I decide I'm done spinning for the day, let the partner know that I'm not willing to get in a wreck for the client as that will not help anyone, and try to reach the opposing counsel, after a while I reach him and we agree to adjourn because we're all in near zero viz.

I call the court and leave a message and then begin the adventure in returning home. The snow is blowing so badly I can't even see the highway off ramps, I finally make one and get home in an hour, using the caution sharp curve yellow signs to let me know I'm still on the road.

I get home, talk with the court who finally gets in around 9:30 and they're happy to cancel as the Court is closing at 11:30 due to the bad weather so its just as well we didn't try to keep making it there - we would have been stuck there with no trial to be had. We schedule a new date and go from there.

Oh yeah, the eye is now hurting quite a bit. I take out contacts, put some drops in and get on with working from home as I'm done driving for the day and the street is totally snowed in and the snow keeps blowing making any thought of getting out ridiculous.

Still no eye relief, I keep the drops flowing, try a cool compress, ice and even finally advil with no relief.

Finally Saturday morning I'm almost doubled over in pain with the sensation of red-hot needle being shoved in my eye- "Honey, it's time to visit the emergency room - NOW."

So we drive over, with the road not yet plowed in my trusty jeep, get to the ER with almost no waiting, and I'm in a fair bit of pain.

They do some more checks, I'm sure my vision is fine but when they check it the eye isn't seeing much at all - this begins to be worrisome.

They look at the eye with the equipment and some dye and find out I've got a torn cornea. They figure it happened while I was photocopying Thursday night- some toner or staple fragment got under the contact lens and my eye was so strained I didn't feel it as it tore the cornea.

The doc then gives me one drop of tetracaine in the eye - lovely stuff, it numbs the pain and makes it a bearable ache in the eye rather than a constant stabbing pain. But then the doc tells me it will only last a half hour and he won't give me more as it could make it worse - I consider grabbing the eye drop bottle that is just in arm's reach and making a run for it but better sense prevails.

The doc prescribes an antibiotic drop, says to take Advil regularly and keep the eye shut in the dark, no reading, no tv, no computer, no nothing and to get an appointment with an ophthalmologist immediately.

So I stay in a dark room, dealing with the aches by popping Advil and taking the antibiotic drops on schedule for all of Saturday and Sunday, bored beyond belief, but catching up on my sleep and listening to a book on CD when I'm awake.

On Monday I go to the eye doctor and he confirms the situation, gives me another drop to take and wants me back on Tuesday - no reading, tv, computer, driving nothing. Obviously, work is out of the question - a lawyer that can't read, drive or use a computer is not a lot of help around the office. I do some work over the phone.

On Tuesday I go back and the eye seems to be responding well, he prescribes another drop that I should start to take in three days as due to the holidays he won't be in, and off I go. Now he tells me I can keep the eye open but no reading, computer, but I can see TV if my eye is up to it in small amounts, and then slowly add reading and computer over time.

So now its Sunday and I've been able to do a little TV watching, a little computer and a little reading, all with breaks and the eye is a lot better vision wise. A lousy thing to happen over the holidays but I'm getting through it and it seems to be healing up decently, i'm off the Advil and just doing the drops.

Its still achy, I've got lots of stuff to do piling up at work and another eye doc appointment tomorrow. Got lots to blog about including a visit from Lagniappe and his keeper, finding out that snow WILL stop the mail, and other goodies, but it will have to wait as I need to take a break after typing all this.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

When the shoe's off the other foot

Yes we've all seen the video of an Arab reporter cursing President Bush and throwing his shoes at him (and missing from 15 feet away).

Throwing a shoe at someone is considered a grand insult in the Arab world, apparently even sitting with the soles of your shoes facing another can be taken as insulting.

This of course makes this shoe throwing coward with bad aim a hero in the Arab world.

Very typical. The Iraqis were shamed because when the Americans came and liberated them from Saddam Hussein it happened so quickly and easily, - the Arabs couldn't do it themselves.

They certainly wouldn't have thrown shoes at Saddam - they would have been fed feet-first into a plastic shredder by Saddam's minions. Heck they even beat Saddam's statues with shoes once he had been removed from power.

This "brave" reporter's act was an act of weakness and pathetic, not to mention lousy aim.

Now once the real threat of death is gone for making a political statement and Iraqis are free to vote for their own leaders, now this guy decides to be brave.

Sort of like a bully that only picks a fight when he knows his opponent will not fight back.

His fellow Arabs and the leftists here (see the lovely lefties' comments online to the Detroit Free Press report of the story) think he's all that now.

Everyone else calls him a coward, and with bad aim at that.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Don't try this at home or on the range - a 9 is not the same as a 9.

Shooting for a Darwin award:

He's darn lucky the pistol didn't a) blow apart into pieces ripping his hand into shreds and/or b) send the slide flying off the frame, ripping back toward him at high velocity.

It's a testament to the design strength and quality of the Hungarian FEG PA-63 pistol that he got away with it that time, the next time he may be far less lucky.

Here's why there's a major problem with this clip, and why you should never do this:

The 9x18 and 9x19 are completely different cartridges

The 9x18 Makarov is designed to work in blowback pistols, ie the action is kept shut by the weight of the slide and spring until the pressure drives it open.

The 9x19 (otherwise called the 9mm Luger, 9mm parabellum, or 9mm NATO) is designed to work in recoil operated firearms, where the action is locked together until fired when at a certain point under recoil the parts unlock and separate with the slide moving backwards to eject the case and reload the barrel.

So why is this a problem?
Simple -- it's the pressure difference.

The pressure the 9x18 Makarov generates when fired is about 23,200 psi.
The pressure the 9x19 Luger generates when fired is about 35,000 psi.

The PA-63 is a blowback pistol designed for the 9x18 Makarov, it is not designed to take the pressure from a 9x19 Luger, a cartridge designed to be used in recoil operated firearms.

You'll notice the action when this fellow loads the pistol with the 9x19 does not even fully close, leaving the brass exposed. This is known as firing a gun out of battery and it is a great way to blow the pistol up, likely inflicting serious injury on the hand holding it as well. When the bullet does not properly fit, it's a signal that it's time to quit.

There are lots of 9mm cartridges out there, and while they often sound alike, they are not interchangeable. (Yes the Soviets did design the 9x18 Makarov pistol to fire the 9x17 aka .380 ACP in exigent circumstances, but its not going to be very accurate, and the 9x17 is a lower pressure cartridge than the 9x18, and just because it can doesn't mean you should, the Soviets have a much lower value assigned to their troops than you hopefully assign to yourself). 9x17, 9x18, 9x19, 9x21, 9x23 are all different with very different operating pressures and even bullet sizes. Do not interchange them and do not put a high pressure round in a pistol designed for low pressure blowback operation.

Never force a cartridge into a firearm's chamber. Use only the same caliber the gun is designed for (and marked for on the slide). If it doesn't fit it's time to quit. If brass is still showing when the cartridge is loaded something is wrong - stop, do not squeeze the trigger, unload and figure out why its not working properly, the hand you save will be your own.

This has got to be embarrasing

US anti-kidnapping expert kidnapped in Mexico

"I'm not just the president of the firm, I'm also a client."

Seriously though, kidnapping in Mexico is getting way out of hand, and probably isn't going to help their image for tourism any. Hopefully, Mr. Batista will be released safe and unharmed.

Time for Detroit Township?

As Detroit continues to decline in size, more and more of the city is becoming "de-urbanized".

As reported in the Detroit Free Press: Acres of barren blocks offer chance to reinvent Detroit
Detroit, where the population peaked at 2 million in the early 1950s, is home to about 900,000 today and is still losing people. The depopulation and demolition of abandoned properties has left the city dotted with thousands of vacant parcels, ranging from single home lots to open fields of many acres.
The article then on to give suggestions from "experts" of turning these current wastelands into urban farms (as long as they're not corporate of course), parks etc.

Instead how about some real vision?

These areas, or large contiguous areas, should be removed from the purview of the Detroit City Council and Mayor's office and turned over to a Detroit Township, an entity separate from the City to be created and start over.

This would get rid of the in-built corruption that has brought about this desolation, remove the crippling city income and high property taxes that affect these properties and make a chance to start fresh with new leaders, new residents, new businesses, and new ideas.

Otherwise Detroit will be left with this unused wasteland while the current leadership dithers. The City of Detroit created this problem, and they're not going to fix it, so its time to take the abandoned areas away and start over.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Time for Fair Tax in Michigan?

Right Michigan has a very interesting article on the Michigan Fair Tax proposal.

The proposal is to end the current State income tax of 4% and take the state sale tax of 6% and raise it to 9.75%. It also gets rid of the business income tax, which would make the state more attractive for business and of course, jobs. On the downside, it continues to let cities levy income taxes.

A good feature is it requires a majority vote of the citizenry to increase or add any other tax. I'd prefer requiring a super-majority but its at least a good limit.

A nice summary from the proponents of the Fair Tax Proposal can be read at their website.

From my review of the proposal language so far it seems like a tax proposal that would be a real win for Michigan to adopt. Certainly in this economic situation that Michigan finds itself in, bold tax reform would be a good start to get on the road to recovery.

Obamas' plan to save the economy - improve government energy efficiency

Obama also said he wants to install energy-saving light bulbs and replace old heating systems in federal buildings to cut costs and create jobs.

So I guess know we'll finally be able to answer that age old question -

How many Democrats does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Hackel - A Democrat that I could happily endorse for Governor

Hackel mulls run for Governor
As a demonstration that this blog is not all Republican all the time, I indeed would heartily endorse The Sheriff of Macomb County, Mark Hackel, if he chose to run for Governor of this State in 2010.

He's a different kind of Democrat from the run of the mill sort, Macomb Democrats typically are.

I can say that he would make a great governor - he has true integrity, smarts, excellent presence, leadership and administrative skills and would not be a dogmatic sort but a practical and effective leader. He's done a great job as the head of the Macomb County Sheriff's Office and has proven he can assemble a very capable staff and handle a very demanding executive position.

Given Michigan's recent electoral history of putting Democrats in the governor's seat (not to mention the legislature, presidential and Senatorial races etc), Sheriff Hackel would be the best one for the job.

One Wayne County Commissioner's Hiring Practice - Why Wait

Until someone has been charged with a felony and remove them from office?

Instead hire them with felony records at public expense.

Ware defends felony hires as filling need
Wayne County Commission Chairwoman Jewel Ware is speaking out and standing behind her controversial practice of giving former felons a second chance on the taxpayers' dime.
At least they come ready to work while in office right?
Ware has carte blanche on hiring staffers for the panel. Since becoming commission chairwoman in 2004, Ware has hired seven people who are convicted felons, records provided to The Detroit News show. None still work for the commission or her staff.

Most did not cause problems, but others were a thorn in Ware's side, including one staffer whose contract was not renewed after allegations arose of missing checks from the commissioner,.
An interesting list of those she hired is on the Detroit News' webpage - charges range from larceny - an important qualification to have before taking public office, to multiple appointments for violent offenders including those convicted of 2nd degree murder, assault with intent to murder and other similar charges.

Of course there is likely more to the story since the article reports that
Ware said Terrance Dortch and Kwasi Akwamu -- the central figures in the controversy, who also spent time in jail with her husband -- are being singled out for unfair treatment.
It goes on that these two are the center of an audit investigation -
Ware faces ,an auditor general probe of claims that Dortch and Akwamu were no-show employees who collected county salaries to work for her husband, Jesse Long-Bey, at his resort in Idlewild in northern Michigan. The investigation -- which will scrutinize payroll records of the commission's 72 staffers -- emerged after an anonymous letter was widely circulated that included the claims.

Ware denies wrongdoing, saying some workers pitched in at the resort, Morton's Motel, on their own time.

Apparently you don't need to be a felon to work in Wayne County (The County where Detroit is located), but it helps. Humorously enough, her platform page at the Wayne County website still says
The Commission also pledges to support Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick on the city's new neighborhood re-development program.
It goes on to say:
Wayne County will build on its many stregnths (sic), including its oustanding transportation network, its tremendous diversity and its strong work ethic.

This looks good for Kwame, since he is now a convicted felon (with a strong work ethic), he can probably sign on to get a job with Ware and the County Commission once he's out.

Oh, we can also play name that party, because nowhere in the article does it mention that she is a Democrat, but you probably guessed that by now.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Good on the US Dept of the Interior - CCW to be OK in National Parks

In a parting gift from the Bush Administration, after long foot dragging, the Department of the Interior has passed a regulation that concealed carry is allowed in a national park as long as the surrounding state permits such carry and if you're from out of state, recognizes your carry permit. Its not in effect yet but should be effective shortly.

In a very well written Final Rule, the Department lays out the scope of the rule and rationale for it. While not perfect its certainly much better than the status quo and a major benefit to law abiding firearms owners and indeed to all visitors to such parks who will benefit from the positive externality of law abiding citizens being able to carry concealed firearms to deter criminal attack.

Well done.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Those Bratz were up to no good

Judge bars MGA from making, selling Bratz dolls

The Bratz dolls, the bane of every girl child's parents who seek to prevent them from getting on the road to inappropriate wear and behavior are going down, or at least being put in a time out:

By GILLIAN FLACCUS Associated Press Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) - The rowdy Bratz dolls have been evicted. Barbie has regained control of the dollhouse.

Toy giant Mattel Inc., after a four-year legal dispute with MGA Entertainment Inc., touted its win in the case Wednesday after a federal judge banned MGA from making and selling its pouty-lipped and hugely popular Bratz dolls.

"It's a pretty sweeping victory," Mattel attorney Michael Zeller said. "They have no right to use Bratz for any goods or services at all."

U.S. District Judge Stephen Larson rocked the toy industry with his order that MGA must immediately stop manufacturing Bratz. He allowed MGA to wait until the holiday season ends to remove the toys from store shelves.

The decision was a stunning defeat for MGA, which exploded onto the tween scene in 2001 with the edgy dolls and made hundreds of millions in profits, giving Mattel's more classic doll-diva Barbie a run for her money.

The ruling, issued in federal court in Riverside, followed a jury's finding that Bratz designer Carter Bryant developed the concept for the dolls while working for Mattel.

The same jury later awarded Mattel $10 million for copyright infringement and $90 million for breach of contract after a lengthy trial stemming from Mattel's 2004 lawsuit ended in August.
. . .
Mattel has fought to neutralize the Bratz line for years. The dolls - with their huge lips, pug noses, almond-shaped eyes and coquettish figures - were an instant hit with young girls. MGA had taken Bryant's original four dolls and spun out a line of more than 40 characters, complete with accessories and related toys such as Bratz Boyz, Bratz Petz and Baby Bratz.

Coquettish - meaning "A woman who makes teasing sexual or romantic overtures; a flirt."

Yep, that's just what you want preschool and gradeschool girls to be exposed to as a norm for dress and behavior. No thanks, we'll stick to the princess and doctor/professional/smart and appropriately dressed Barbie lines thank you very much.

Mind you, I'm still waiting for CCW Barbie accessorized with a Glock, Sig, or PPK that all the best dressed, self-confident, and safe women are carrying these days.

While not CCW Barbie, Scott of Providentia Blog passes along some law enforcement Barbie pics: