Saturday, November 28, 2009

Dive 118 - Another Day, Another Dive

So this morning, 6 divers went to Maceday Lake to see if the visibility had improved any since a few of them dove there last week -

It had not.

Previously I've dove Maceday with excellent visibility. Today, not so much. The viz was about 5 feet, meaning you can see five feet away from you and then nothing in the haze.

I had suggested we do the dive in buddy teams but they wanted to stay as a group of 6. Down we went and it was fun from the start.

I dropped down to 35 feet and tied the flag off on the post that is conveniently placed at that locaton. Then, we went looking for the two sunken boats that none of the other divers had seen, which sit at 86 feet. On a day with good viz you can see both boats. Today was not that day. Instead we were slowly searching until we found the first boat at 86 feet.

At least two of us did anyways (John and myself). The other four got lost quite quickly in the viz, with divers 3 and 4 separating off and ending up way out there, and 5 and 6 heading back in relatively quickly (one was in a 7 mil wetsuit and was cold).

John and I then followed the line from the first boat to the second boat, which none of them had seen and we hung around for a while and then came across diver 6 and we surfaced going up the float line, which we left attached as we didn't know if the other divers were out of the water yet.

Of course we didn't see 3 and 4 anywhere on the surface and didn't see any bubbles breaking the surface of the water either. Since 6 and I were the only ones in doubles with plenty of air left, we went to search for them in case they got lost.

Of course, the viz sucked and finding them was a losing proposition. We then we signaled by diver 2 that 3 and 4 were ok. They had come up away from the float and headed in without us seeing them.

All in all, a good dive, after all, I found the boats!.

The details: 38 minutes, 45 cool degrees, and 87 feet maximum depth on the dive computer.

Maceday is cold, dark and silty, and a nice spot to go diving to practice handling depths and ascents from the deep. Its a different world from the 30-40 feet depths of Union Lake and there's a real difference in pressure, both physical from the water and mental from seeing the numbers on your dive computer.

On the downside, getting to and from the water is a pain and a half, especially in doubles as its a good walk down a steep path to the water and then have to go up the trail when you're done the dive - getting to and from the water is more than half the fun.

Also today a good lesson was learned: A group of 6 divers is too big. Next time we're in teams of two or three max even if were all together -- much easier to manage.

Great dive, good bunch of people and fun stuff to see. A good way to spend a morning.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Dive 2009

So while most of you were still snug in your beds on this cool Thanksgiving Day morning, I joined the fearless (or folhardy) few and at 8:30 am began our traditional Thanksgiving Day dive.

The water was a brisk 42 degrees and 46 at the surface.

We had an excellent turnout and the dock was packed with cars with over 20 divers in the water during the morning.

One diver on the way as we were going in was moving like a train wreck, while towing a float with 3/4" thick bright yellow polypropylene floaty rope - yes the rope that has "major entanglement hazard" as its main selling feature - the stuff is designed to ensnare you and really wreck your underwater day. Of course he's blissfully whipping through our formation like were not even there while towing this rope that is just everywhere. That guy had the situational awareness of a dead water-buffalo.

Once we got past Mr. I'll entangle you in my line, the dive was great. Some nice big Bass were frolicking by the sunken boats, buoyancy and trim were decent and a good time was had by all. Rob was getting a little low on air while diving an AL80 so I shared hair from my double tanks and we swam around some more.

48 minute dive. Started with 3000 psi in my doubles, ended with 2000 even after the air share. Also met and dove with Scott and John for the first time- good guys and nice new additions to our dive team.

The tradition continues.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Outrageous Lawfare Stupidity of the Day: SEALS Charged with Assault for Capturing Wanted Terrorist

You've got to be kidding. Not sure if this is a result of the Eurofication of our military and the desire to turn the American way of war into a law enforcement and court-dominated system in the hope it will have everyone like us or what.

Navy SEALs Face Assault Charges for Capturing Most-Wanted Terrorist
Navy SEALs have secretly captured one of the most wanted terrorists in Iraq — the alleged mastermind of the murder and mutilation of four Blackwater USA security guards in Fallujah in 2004. And three of the SEALs who captured him are now facing criminal charges, sources told

The three, all members of the Navy's elite commando unit, have refused non-judicial punishment — called an admiral's mast — and have requested a trial by court-martial.

Ahmed Hashim Abed, whom the military code-named "Objective Amber," told investigators he was punched by his captors — and he had the bloody lip to prove it.

Now, instead of being lauded for bringing to justice a high-value target, three of the SEAL commandos, all enlisted, face assault charges and have retained lawyers.
A bloody lip? And we charge three of America's elite soldiers with assault for capturing this scumbag?

Has our defense establishment gone nuts?

The scumbag is no average guy off the street either:
The source said intelligence briefings provided to the SEALs stated that "Objective Amber" planned the 2004 Fallujah ambush, and "they had been tracking this guy for some time."

The Fallujah atrocity came to symbolize the brutality of the enemy in Iraq and the degree to which a homegrown insurgency was extending its grip over Iraq.

The four Blackwater agents were transporting supplies for a catering company when they were ambushed and killed by gunfire and grenades. Insurgents burned the bodies and dragged them through the city. They hanged two of the bodies on a bridge over the Euphrates River for the world press to photograph.

Intelligence sources identified Abed as the ringleader, but he had evaded capture until September.
So for capturing a terrorist, and he gets a little hurt during capture and now based on his allegation of "abuse" were prosecuting our troops?


hat tip: Solomonia. (If you don't read his blog yet, you owe it to yourself to start).

Monday, November 23, 2009

SANS to Lawyers: Watch your data

As if the legal profession doesn't have enough on its plate, Lawyers needs to be on the lookout for hackers: SANS NewsBites Vol. 11 Num. 91 : Hackers now targeting law firms to get secret corporate negotiating information

Interesting story in the Washington Post this morning by Lolita Baldor of the Associate Press on an FBI announcement that attackers are now targeting law firms with the same advanced techniques they are using against government and defense contractors.
An almost identical announcement was made in a private letter to the
heads of the 300 largest companies in the United Kingdom, from the head
of MI5. The UK announcement was made two years ago.
The SANS Institute is a great cyber security resource and Lawyers need to keep their IT people on their toes and their servers secure to protect their clients' data.

Thanks to Scott of Providentia for the tip.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Now who could have guessed - 9/11 Defendants seeking a show trial

Fox News: The five men facing trial in the Sept. 11 attacks will plead not guilty so that they can air their criticisms of U.S. foreign policy, the lawyer for one of the defendants said Sunday.

Nice Job There Obama and Holder after all I'm sure you considered this possibility when you decided to put terorrists, captured overseas, who already confessed to their acts a civil hearing in New York, right ?
Scott Fenstermaker, the lawyer for accused terrorist Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, said the men would not deny their role in the 2001 attacks but "would explain what happened and why they did it."

The U.S. Justice Department announced earlier this month that Ali and four other men accused of murdering nearly 3,000 people in the nation's deadliest terrorist attack will face a civilian federal trial just blocks from the World Trade Center site.

Ali, also known as Ammar al-Baluchi, is a nephew of professed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Mohammed, Ali and the others will explain "their assessment of American foreign policy," Fenstermaker said.

"Their assessment is negative," he said.

Who could have guessed?

Ancient Coin Post - A Denarius of Caracalla

Obverse: Laureate and drapped bust of Caracalla facing right.

Reverse: Trophy with two captives seated at base
Inscription: PART MAX PONT TRP V

This silver coin, slightly larger than a dime, can be dated to precisely 202 AD, as Caracalla had the Tribunician Power, for the 5th time in 202 AD, hence the TRP V on the coin.

M. Aurelius Antonius, better known as Caracalla, was the son of he Emperor Septimius Severus and was Emperor from 198-217 AD. After Severus's death he ruled jointly with his brother Geta until 212 AD when Caracalla had him assassinated so he could rule alone.

The trophy shows off Caracalla's military virtues, important for the loyalty of his soldiers as well as the Praetorian Guard. Caracalla participated in campaigns against the Alamanni in Germany in 213, and two expeditions to Britain in 208 and 210 AD. He was also involved in campaigns against the Parthians, hence the PART MAX - Parthicus Maximus - on the coin inscription.

Caracallas' granting of extra pay also didn't hurt in gaining the troops loyalty either. Caracalla raised the annual pay of an average legionary to 675 denarii and he followed the lesson given him by his father Septimius Severus who had told him to always mind the soldiers and ignore everyone else.

Caracalla however didn't need too much retirement planning as in 217 AD he was assassinated by his Praetorian Guard Prefect Macrinus, which then set off further turmoil and a series of very short lived emperors.

Not until 36 years later, in 253 AD will we find a Roman Emperor that will last for 10 years on the throne. Quite a number of the short lived emperors did strike coins until they were struck down themselves and thus leave behind artifacts of their short lived reigns.

Holder: Holding Hands Rather Than Stopping Future Attacks

So after Fort Hood, what did AG Holder do? Focus on the agencies failure to again connect the dots regarding the definitley strange activity of Major jihadi Hassan?

Nope, instead:
About 24 hours after hearing of the shootings at Ft. Hood, Texas, federal officials were on the phone with Imad Hamad, the Dearborn-based director with the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. Their goal: to check for any backlash against local Arab Americans, Muslims and other minorities.

The swift actions were part of a little-known program called the Incident Community Coordination Team, created to ensure open dialogue between law enforcement and minority communities during high-profile incidents.

How about instead of rushing off and kissing terrorist supporters backsides here in Detroit and investing time and money against a non-existent "backlash" you properly screened against potential jihadis at the outset and you know prevented the "lash" in the first place?

Maybe open a federal investigation into Hassan's enablers? if you have to treat this as solely a law-enforcement problem rather than terrorism how about charging his Imam and others who supported him under RICO or other conspiracy charges hmm?

Not like there was no clue that Major Hassan wasn't exactly on the straight and patriotic narrow, now was there? Do all US Army majors do "research" by emailing known Al Qaeda operatives (and coincidentally Imams?)

Instead as related in the Detroit Free Press Holder and Obama is all about political correctness over protecting Americans:
Reaching out to Arab Americans and Muslims, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder strongly declared in a Detroit speech Thursday night that their full rights must be protected while the country battles security threats.

“We are committed to protecting the rights of all Americans, including Muslims,” Holder told a crowd of hundreds at the Detroit Marriot in the Renaissance Center. “This is not blind adherence to political correctness. It is devotion to our founding documents.”

In recent days, conservatives have assailed the Obama administration for what it sees as a political correctness in dealing with the issue of Islamic extremism.

No kidding, pretending that there is not a serious contingent of Muslims on America that both support terrorism in the name of Islam and are in favor of attacks on Americans is simply blindness brguht on by both political correctness and a desire to return to the blissful days of September 10th.

The current Ultra-Low Intensity Conflict by Muslims against Americans here continues: an attack here, an attack there, plausible denial of any connection or unifying force behind these attacks save all the attackers were adherents of Islam and did so in the name of Islam as much as everyone tries to ignore that or pretend it is incidental to their actions.

Until we wake up and realize that while we're not at war with Islam, a solid portion of Islam is at war with us and take appropriate measures, these attacks will continue as there is no repercussion or deterrent to their continued attacks.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Not Good News - Tamilflu resistant Swine Flu reported in North Carolina

Now this could really suck if it becomes prevalent:

Tamiflu-resistant swine flu cluster reported in NC
Four North Carolina patients at a single hospital tested positive for a type of swine flu that is resistant to Tamiflu, health officials said Friday.

The cases reported at Duke University Medical Center over six weeks make up the biggest cluster seen so far in the U.S.

Tamiflu — made by Switzerland's Roche Group — is one of two flu medicines that help against swine flu, and health officials have been closely watching for signs that the virus is mutating, making the drugs ineffective.

More than 50 resistant cases have been reported in the world since April, including 21 in the U.S. Almost all in the U.S. were isolated, said officials with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The BBC reported another cluster of five Tamiflu-resistant cases this week in Wales, in the United Kingdom.

The CDC has sent three disease investigators to North Carolina to help in the investigation there, said Dave Daigle, a CDC spokesman. CDC testing confirmed the Tamiflu-resistant cases.

All four cases at the hospital were very ill patients in an isolated cancer unit on the hospital's ninth floor, and it is believed they all caught the flu while at the hospital, said Dr. Daniel Sexton, professor of medicine and director of the Duke Infection Control Outreach Network.

Three of the four patients died and one is recovering, he said. Flu seems to have been a factor in each death, but they were very sick so it was hard to say that it was the primary cause, he added....

It is really not good news if one of the two leading antiviral medications (the other being Relenza) becomes ineffective in dealing with the flu.

The Swine Flu Blues 3 - Fever Free and Coughing

Well, woke up today feeling lousy but no fever.

Of course my digital thermometer says I'm 94 degrees so I just may be dead and not know it, or I need a new thermometer.

The cough remains but I'm clearly on the mend. Hopefully it clears up so I can get to work Monday and get out of this house.

In other news, apparently the H1N1 vaccine works well on adults in one dose even if it fails miserably for kids. Natasha after being exposed to all three of us in full flu mode is still 100% fever free. Good to know they got something right with the vaccine.

The only lingering effect so far is a profound belief that Christopher Walken is a horribly neglected and underrated actor. I mean the man has only won ONE Oscar - where's the justice in that?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

When in a Hole, Even Ex-Mayors of Detroit should stop Digging

Once again, its not the crime but the cover-up, or in this case an apparent failure to be candid about his financial ability to pay his court ordered restitution that is plaguing the ex-mayor of Detroit, Kwame Kilpatrick. The story keeps changing and spinning and it may end up with his returning to jail if he can't get his story straight.

Kilpatrick's friends helped pay part of his restitution, hearing reveals

One would have thought that he would have learned after already being caught committing perjury and lying to cover it up. As his former honor keeps trying to brazen it out, its not going to get any better.
New doubts surfaced Wednesday about former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's claim that he doesn't know how his rent is paid on his million-dollar Texas home when an FBI agent testified that Kilpatrick was intimately involved in the lease negotiations.

And Kilpatrick, who testified three weeks ago that he didn't know whether his wife, Carlita Kilpatrick, had a job, said Wednesday on the witness stand: "At this particular time, I have the only income in the home."

Kilpatrick raised more eyebrows during the third day of his restitution hearing when he testified that he has borrowed thousands of dollars from friends to make his restitution payments.

"There's so many different people giving you so much money that you can't even keep it straight, is that what you're telling us, sir?" asked Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Athina Siringas, drawing a rebuke from Wayne County Circuit Judge David Groner.

The revelations stood out on a day in which prosecutors sought to convince Groner that Kilpatrick has violated his probation by hiding his assets.

They also tried to prove that a $240,000 loan Kilpatrick received from local business leaders was really a gift that should have been reported to the court.

But the top Compuware attorney who drafted the deal testified that the business leaders always had intended only to lend Kilpatrick the money.
Doubts raised on rent claim

Three weeks ago, Kilpatrick said he didn't know who was paying his rent.

On Wednesday, an FBI agent testified that Kilpatrick approved the deal.

Lying doesn't work because it can be hard to keep your story straight, especially if someone checks up on it. That's why you tell the truth under oath as when its followed up and you're found to be lying, its not going to go well:

Siringas also grilled Kilpatrick on how he pays his monthly restitution to the city.

He said he might borrow $1,000, go to the ATM, withdraw money here and there. He said he stockpiles the money.

"Stockpile?" Siringas asked.

Kilpatrick caught himself.

"I shouldn't have said that," he said, chuckling.
Ooops, that had to hurt.

It also seems that Kwame's friends who were appointed to office by him have been generous in helping him out now:
Another surprising development Wednesday came when Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Athina Siringas divulged that the mother of longtime Kilpatrick friends DeDan and Kandia Milton paid $12,500 toward Kilpatrick's restitution.

Even Kilpatrick was surprised about one aspect of the revelation: He testified that he thought the Miltons' mother, Sandra Ramsey, loaned him only $10,000. He learned from prosecutors that an additional $2,500 he thought DeDan Milton had loaned him had actually come from Ramsey.

Ramsey and her sons were all high-ranking political appointees during Kilpatrick's nearly two terms as mayor.

DeDan Milton was an assistant to Kilpatrick who later represented Kilpatrick on one of the city's pension boards. Kandia Milton had risen to deputy mayor by the time Kilpatrick resigned in September 2008.

Siringas slammed Kilpatrick for borrowing the money from Ramsey shortly after receiving a $150,000 installment of a $240,000 loan from four prominent local businessmen.

Kilpatrick said Ramsey helped him make the payment because "to leave town, to get to my wife and children, I had to pay that. ... She gave me some money."
Nice to have such loyalty.

And the gift/loan from the four Detroit Businessmen continues to be in question, with the loan documents only being created after the IRS and FBI started investigating:
Prosecutors argued Wednesday that a $240,000 loan to Kilpatrick from four prominent businessmen was actually a gift.

As evidence, the prosecution called as a witness Compuware lawyer Daniel Follis, who testified that the repayment terms on the loan -- the promissory notes -- weren't completed until after the FBI and IRS came calling.

Siringas argued that was evidence the loan was a gift.

Schwartz attacked the prosecution's theory that it was a gift with Follis' testimony that not one of the business leaders who made the loan to Kilpatrick ever said to Follis that the money was a gift.
The real question is who put these businessmen up to these "gift/loans" and what were they either promised to receive in return or threatened with to ensure their compliance:
John Rakolta Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of the Walbridge construction company, reiterated Wednesday that he never agreed to lend any money to Kilpatrick.

"I was asked and declined the opportunity to participate in the loan after consulting with my closest advisers. I know Pete, Jim, Roger and Dan very well, and I have the utmost respect for them both professionally and personally. They are men of honor and integrity and have worked tirelessly for the betterment of the city of Detroit," Rakolta said in a statement issued Tuesday.
You'll note it does not identify who asked him for his donation, and curiously there is no follow-up.

You can be sure that Kwame's Kontortions aren't done yet.

Swine Flue Blues 2 - So far So Good

The fever is lower today. No serious complications to report, it just feels as yucky and lethargy inducing as any other flu. Captain Trips this is not.

The only weird effect with this flu so far is that this scene from SNL keeps going through my mind:

Contagious isn't it?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Swine Flu Blues - A Personal experience with H1N1

Well, I went to bed yesterday feeling pretty lousy and running a fever and felt worse and more feverish this morning.

I was quite sure what I had, thanks to the two lovable little disease vectors in my house.

So I called ahead and then went to the doctor and after they had masked up they started to examine me.

The test for swine flu, for those of you who are curious, involves shoving a swab all the way up your nose until it feels like its stirring your brains. The swab is then put in a test tube and tah da! I've officially got H1N1A, and the case gets reported as a statistic to Oakland County Community Health! Yay me!

The doc told me the CDC is not recommending Tamilflu for my age group and general good state of health, but recommended talking plenty of ibuprofen, zinc and vitamin C, and a prescription anti-cough medication. As long as I don't have trouble breathing it should be just fine. I was also given a N95 mask to wear while walking out of the office to the car. The kids, showing the compassion for which they are famous, have hand drawn a cute pig snout on the mask to recognize my swine flu.

It feels just like any other flu - chills, sweats, coughs, sneezes, general lethargy and wanting to sleep a lot. No going to work until I'm fever free for 24 hours which apparently takes a few days so I'll be working from home for a while. Blogging will be fit in in between bouts of passing out.

Armed Maersk Alabama Repels Pirates, International Community Appalled

An interesting example of the ideological fallacy of those who believe that "you don't need a gun the police will save you" on the high seas.

Maersk Alabama repels 2nd pirate attack with guns

Somali pirates attacked the Maersk Alabama on Wednesday for the second time in seven months and were thwarted by private guards on board the U.S.-flagged ship who fired off guns and a high-decibel noise device.

. . .

Pirates hijacked the Maersk Alabama last April and took ship captain Richard Phillips hostage, holding him at gunpoint in a lifeboat for five days. Navy SEAL sharpshooters freed Phillips while killing three pirates in a daring nighttime attack.

Four suspected pirates in a skiff attacked the ship again on Wednesday around 6:30 a.m. local time, firing on the ship with automatic weapons from about 300 yards (meters) away, a statement from the U.S. Fifth Fleet in Bahrain said.

An on-board security team repelled the attack by using evasive maneuvers, small-arms fire and a Long Range Acoustic Device, which can beam earsplitting alarm tones, the fleet said.

The difference in reaction to this successful repelling of pirates by force of arms certainly highlights the tension between the let the navy/police handle it folks and the self-reliant types:
Vice Adm. Bill Gortney of the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, said the Maersk Alabama had followed the maritime industry's "best practices" in having a security team on board.

"This is a great example of how merchant mariners can take proactive action to prevent being attacked and why we recommend that ships follow industry best practices if they're in high-risk areas," Gortney said in a statement.

However, Roger Middleton, a piracy expert at the London-based think tank Chatham House, said the international maritime community was still "solidly against" armed guards aboard vessels at sea, but that American ships have taken a different line than the rest of the international community.

"Shipping companies are still pretty much overwhelmingly opposed to the idea of armed guards," Middleton said. "Lots of private security companies employee people who don't have maritime experience. Also, there's the idea that it's the responsibility of states and navies to provide security. I would think it's a step backward if we start privatizing security of the shipping trade."
An interesting parallel, after all its a big ocean out there and the Navy while it does a fantastic job (as was seen in its freeing of the Maersk Alabama in the first encounter) it can't be everywhere at once, and like in America when seconds count the police are at best minutes away - or even hours by sea to get a naval ship in position to intercept an attack.

Unless the Navy forms and orders merchantmen into convoys through the pirate infested waters they will not be able to guarantee their security and leaves the unarmed ships open to attack.

You'll note above that the American admiral on the scene gets it.

Ceratinly the deterrence effect of an armed civillian ship worked:
The owners of the Maersk Alabama have spent a considerable amount of money since the April hijacking to make the vessel pirate-proof, Murphy said, including structural features and safety equipment. The most dramatic change is what he called a security force of "highly trained ex-military personnel."

"Somali pirates understand one thing and only one thing, and that's force," said Capt. Joseph Murphy, who teaches maritime security at the school. "They analyze risk very carefully, and when the risk is too high they are going to step back. They are not going to jeopardize themselves."

The wife of the Maersk Alabama's captain, Paul Rochford, told WBZ-AM radio in Boston that she was "really happy" there were weapons on board for this attack.

"It probably surprised the pirates. They were probably shocked," Kimberly Rochford. "I'm really happy at least it didn't turn out like the last time."

A self-proclaimed pirate told The Associated Press from the Somali pirate town of Haradhere that colleagues out at sea had called around 9 a.m. — 2 1/2 hours after the attack.

"They told us that they got in trouble with an American ship, then we lost them. We have been trying to locate them since," said a self-described pirate who gave his name as Abdi Nor.
Yeah, mess with armed and prepared Americans rather than squishy others and you're probably not going to like what happens dear pirates.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pirates Of The Situational Irony

Somali pirates hijack ship, 28 North Korean crew

Talk about a corrundrum. The crew from North Korea, the arguably most moserable place on earth being captured by pirates from Somalia, another country that while high on the sucky locale list keeps vying for the top spot but doesn't quite achieve such a dubious distinction. Is their capture a step up for the crew?

So once the matter is resolved do the North Korean crew press for asylum in Somalia or elsewhere? Did the pirates just unwittingly and unintentionally free a bunch of North Koreans from having to return to a life of misery under a super-totalitarian regime? How much can the North Koreans offer the Somalis to not be released back to North Korea? Time will tell, and hopefully they'll be released unharmed and not returned to North Korea.

Monday, November 16, 2009

One Vaccine shot doesn't do it - Kids now with Swine Flu

Yes, even with the vaccination extravaganza and their each getting a shot, both my kids have now been diagnosed by their doctor with swine flu.

Apparently one shot for kids is insufficient and only gets them a 63% resistant to not getting the flu. A second shot increases that to 75%.

Of course they're diagnosed 11 days after getting the flu shot, so no time to get a second shot even if we could have found one.

Basically it is a pandemic and it sucks. The pediatrician's usual caseload is 17 patients per day, today she had 34 many with the flu.

At the moment the kids are a bit cranky, tired and cold with fevers and bundled up in blankets watching Dora. They'll be at home the next 7 days so they don't spread it to anyone else.

On the upside the doctor prescribed Tamilflu for them and Meijer, showing an amazing example of good corporate citizenship, was giving away the pediatric Tamilflu dosages for free. Good on Meijer for this, and yes, good corporate citizenship like this should be rewarded. It didn't hurt as a start that my wife then spent about $107 shopping in Meijer while waiting for the prescriptions to be made (each pediatric dose is specially mixed and takes time to be mixed to fill the script.).

Hopefully, this too shall pass with no lingering effects and we'll all look back on it as no big deal beyond a case of the cruds and an inconvenience.

How low can he go (and take his country with him?)? The Obama Bow.

First was the bow to the King of Saudi Arabia:

Now comes news of the extra-deep bow to the Emperor of Japan:

You know it's bad when even the LA Times raises some criticism of Obama's extra obsequious bending: How low will he go? Obama gives Japan's Emperor Akihito a wow bow

You'll note it is not mandatory to bow before the emperor, nor necessary to do the inferior to superior bow.

The bow Obama gave was without question one of the inferior to a superior. It is the "here's my neck, you may cut it off if you wish master" bow.

There's a time and appropriate place for it: typically this is the polite bow of a student in a dojo bowing before a master. This was not dojo and Obama is not the Emperor's student. (We could get some fun Star Wars themes going here of Darth Obama bowing before the Emperor..... nah.)

Obama seems by his words and deeds to believe that he has to grovel and scrape to 'restore' America's image in the world, but this is getting ridiculous. Sadly it gives the impression to both our allies and our enemies of weakness, and Obama's acts on the world stage only seems to confirm this impression.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Obama Says he's the First Pacific President - No, But He's a Shoe-in for First Pacifist

He's not the first Pacific President (Good read at Ed via Instapudit.)

But if he meant first pacifist president, insofar as his pacifism involves his surrender of America's interests abroad, he certainly qualifies.

He's shown his pacifism by throwing Eastern Europe's missile defense under the bus for an ethereal promise from Russia to impose sanctions on Iran,eventually, sometime, maybe.

Then dithering on Afghanistan, as if he wants that effort to fail as well.

Now he proposes to have Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other 9/11 terrorists tried as civilians in a civil court setting in New York of all places. Oh and he's now only an alleged terorist. Brilliant. For a number of reasons beginning with the stupidity of fighting a war against terrorists by using criminal courts, to issues with evidence and the circus such a prosecution will bring it shows Obama to be profoundly unserious and pacifistic in dealing with the threats facing the USA.

A Glock and Crimson Trace Lasergrips - A Great Combination

As I await my new/used Detroit PD Glock 22 to arrive at my friendly neighborhood FFL, and given Lagniappe's Keeper's positive review of it, I'm looking forward to it.

I already have a couple Glocks, one of which now has a Crimson Trace Lasersight on it.

For quite some time I was skeptical of laser sights on firearms, considering them a gimmick and unnecessary. But I had the opportunity as an NRA instructor to obtain one for a discount as a training tool and decided to see what the pros and cons were for myself.

Installation was quite simple and the assembly instructions easy to follow. The sight comes with a Glock disassembly tool that is embossed with the Crimson Trace logo. One pin is removed from the rear of the frame and the lasergrip is slid into place and a pin supplied with the sight locks it in place.

Once installed it is activated by simply holding the firearm as the switch is in the rear of the grip.

The downside to this arrangement is that together with no off switch, the laser is on every time you hold the gun in a firing grip. You can cover the laser port with your finger to block it while holding it but it doesn't work as nicely as a dedicated off switch. The laser of course has two points of light - from the emitter on your firearm and on your target.

The other downside to the sight was the zeroing instructions. They were quite unclear as to which adjustment socket adjusted vertical as opposed to horizontal positioning of the laser, not to mention which direction you turned the adjustment screw with the supplied mini Allen keys moved the direction of the point of impact. It took a bit of fiddling to get it on target for as supplied it would hit the 7 ring to the right and high when lasing the x ring at 7 yards -- way, way off in other words. Now after multiple rounds spent zeroing, it is right on target.

The benefits - very quick target acquisition and amazing accuracy. With the laser new zeroed and placed on the X, 5 shots hit the X with all rounds touching each other - quite impressive. Target-focused shooting is simple indeed -- put the laser on the target, practice good trigger control and the target is hit. The laser works great indoors and at night. Outdoors during the day the laser washes out after a relatively short distance.

The laser has also been helpful teaching students trigger control and sight alignment - have them shoot without it, explain why they are missing what they are aiming at by jerking the trigger, then let them use the laser to practice trigger control. The same goes for sight alignment. There was an immediate improvement even after using the lasergrips when they went back to the non-laser sighted firearm. You can tell someone what they need to do to improve but when you show them, and then they can immediately try it themselves, it makes learning a lot quicker.

The lasersight also makes a great kitten play toy, as Sabrina ran all over following the little red dot tonight when I got back from the range. Lots of kitten fun.

I strongly advise removing the slide entirely from the gun if you use the laser in this manner. It still works well as a laser this way and you avoid the possibility of a cat-astrophe. A cat only laser is now on the shopping list.

Lasersights are another tool in your defensive toolbox, not a cure-all nor perfect for all situations, but definitely an excellent tool that does have a place on a defensive handgun for self defense. Given the ease of installation and use of the Crimson Trace Lasergrips, I'd recommend them.

Friday, November 13, 2009

CPR Recertification and Michigan's "Good Samaritan" law

Today I completed my Red Cross CPR and AED recertifications offered through my law firm.

Surprisingly, while quite a number of secretaries and paralegals attended the recertification sessions I was the only lawyer.

It's important that once you've received first aid training that you attend the annual receetifications to get the latest updates in technique and review and refresh your training - a necessary task indeed as its easy to forget and thankfully I have not needed to administer CPR or use an AED on anyone this year.

It is also important to keep your certifications up-to-date because failure to do so may open yu to liability if you do administer first aid.

Michigan has a "good samaritan" statute that essentially relieves you from civil legal liability if you render first aid with a very important exception.

The statute, MCL 333.20965 states:
333.20965 Immunity from liability.

(1) Unless an act or omission is the result of gross negligence or willful misconduct, the acts or omissions of a medical first responder, emergency medical technician, emergency medical technician specialist, paramedic, medical director of a medical control authority or his or her designee, or, subject to subsection (5), an individual acting as a clinical preceptor of a department-approved education program sponsor while providing services to a patient outside a hospital, in a hospital before transferring patient care to hospital personnel, or in a clinical setting that are consistent with the individual's licensure or additional training required by the medical control authority including, but not limited to, services described in subsection (2) or consistent with an approved procedure for that particular education program do not impose liability in the treatment of a patient on those individuals or any of the following persons:
. . .

(2) Subsection (1) applies to services consisting of the use of an automated external defibrillator on an individual who is in or is exhibiting symptoms of cardiac distress.
Thus in Michigan you need not fear being sued for rendering first aid so long as you are not grossly negligent nor committing willful misconduct.

There's a darn good argument to be made that if you cause an injury while providing first aid with an expired certification for administering such aid, your actions do amount to gross negligence or willful misconduct.

Keep your first aid certifications current, apply care with consent and in accordance with your training, get the professionals there as soon as possible, and you'll be ok legal-wise, and hopefully you will help someone in distress be ok as well.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Some Detroit City Council members get CPL permits

Detroit Council members carry guns for safety
Councilman Kwame Kenyatta said he has had death threats in the past and when in public, Kenyatta usually carries a concealed weapon.

Councilman-elect Gary Brown, a former deputy police chief and officer who was involved in narcotics investigations, said he arms himself when he feels the need to ensure his safety.

Several incoming council members, including Council President-elect Charles Pugh, said they have concealed weapons permits and carry guns for safety in a city known for its hard-nosed crime and tough neighborhoods.

It turns out quite a few members of the new Detroit City Council have acquired or will be getting CPL permits: Kwame Kenyatta, Gary Brown, James Tate, Charles Pugh, Rev. Andre Spivey.

Given that it is Detroit, having a CPL for self-defense only makes sense. This is a positive demonstration of law abiding citizens being able to carry firearms for protection.

It is of course fun to watch the antis get the vapors from the idea of council members being able to carry guns:
But Reggie "Reg" Davis, the former radio deejay elected last week to the City Charter Commission, was critical of public officials who carry weapons, calling it a "disgrace" because it sends the wrong message.

He said he will fight to keep council members from bringing guns to City Hall.

"You need to be like Gandhi, be the change that you wish to see," said Davis, whose younger brother was gunned down in Detroit. "The people elected you to show them a different way to go and you're walking around carrying guns. That is the most ignorant way to do things. If I'm a City Council person, I don't want guns."

or the reaction of Council member Saunteel Jenkins -
Jenkins, whose 14-year-old brother was a victim of gun violence, said carrying guns sends the wrong message.

"When I say I'm anti-violence I mean it," she said the next day. "It's an indication of the failure of leadership in this city when people think that the only way to protect themselves is to strap on a gun. That's exactly where we don't want to be in this city, taking the law into our own hands. It made me kind of sad.

"I wished I had spoken up" at the studio "and said, 'This is no joking matter.' ... We don't want this to be what we become."

My favorite reaction so far is Council member Jo Ann Watson's
Watson, who with member Ken Cockrel Jr., didn't attend the conversation, said later that her "preference of protection is spiritual."
Good for vampires maybe, not so good for goblins. You'll note a reverend will be getitng a carry permit, so he's a bit more realistic than Ms. Watson.

Of course, the council members can't carry in the city council building itself mind you – there’s a court in there that makes the whole building off-limits to the standard permit holder, notwithstanding the fact that the City of Detroit ordinance has no force and effect due to state preemption law. However ex-Detroit Police Deputy Chief Brown, as he likely gets a carry permit that exempts him from the no-carry zones being a former police officer can carry in the building and given the thugs that get arraigned there, some of whom he's proabably locked up a time or two before, he probably should. Mind you so should the rest of us who have to go there to court for work - it gets interesting sometimes and we can't carry there or more importantly to or from there from where are vehicles are, leaving us pretty open to parties who want to take court proceedings "outside".

Generally having a CPL is a private matter. The benefits to knowing that these City Council members have them is that one: deterrence of any thug trying to attack them, which is helpful and proper; and two: knowing that they have the permits we can rightly call them hypocrites if they support gun control and the banning of firearm possession or carrying by law-abiding citizens.

After all their safety and protection matters, but so does every other law abiding citizens' safety, especially given these two stories that accompanied these reports on the same day:
7 arrested in robberies, carjackings in Detroit
and an apparent self-defense from attack by a CPL permit holder in Detroit: Man shot after apparent road rage attack in Detroit.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Oakland County H1N1 Swine Flu Immunization Follies

Oakland County's immunization process hasn't exactly been run perfectly.

Yesterday, my wife on finding out from a neighbor that they still had immuniztion shots available took the kids to the Pontiac Silverdome where there was a mass immunization clinic going on.

After almost 3 hours waiting, 50 minutes of it outside in the cold the kids were immunized (at least partially, they aparently are supposed to receive a second shot at some point to get further resistance but who knows when and where that will be available), but likely exposed to tons of germs from the lots of people they were stuck hanging around with. On the upside, one of the nice people in line with her turns out to be a university student and after chatting Natasha gave her a lift back to her dorm to spare her from having to walk back in the cold. On the downside this morning Natasha has cold-like symptoms.

Mass immunization clinics are not a great idea. Certainly, not an efficient use of time nor great for exposing potentially sick people to each other, not to mention have them stand out in the cold to weaken their immune systems before mixing with hundreds of strangers.

But they do make for great press and publicity, which was apparently the point:

Michiganians clamor for H1N1 vaccine
Clinic at The Palace draws hundreds as state health officials add six to swine flu death toll

The virus is rampant. The vaccine is scarce. Oakland and Macomb county health departments are only holding mass clinics to administer the vaccine. Wayne County is taking appointments, but the wait is so long that the next available appointment isn't until January.

State health officials are recommending residents call their doctor but they don't know how many physicians have the vaccine. The Michigan Medical Society also doesn't know how many providers have gotten the vaccine, and some residents say their doctors don't have the shot.

Amazingly, one of the workers at the event told my wife when she asked why they're doing them en masse like this was that "They wanted it for the media coverage". No explanation as to who they were but apparently a nice mass immunization event gives the impression that officials are doing something. Great reason, that.

First, why not begin the immunizations at the greatest vector for flu transmission and some of the most at risk populations? Schools! Have the parents send in permission forms, have the kids immunized indoors in comfort in their classrooms or nurses' office and have it done quickly and efficiently. Have immunization at colleges and universities to get the at risk population of students vaccinated quickly and efficently without having to require them to make it to the Palace.

The last bit of brilliance at the immunization extravaganza - no gloves. When asked, the person giving the vaccine told my wife they weren't required to be worn by direction from the CDC, and besides they would have to take them off after each shot. So instead you have potential disease transmission from the shot giver to everyone she comes in contact with. Perfect.

Hopefully next time instead of these mass immunizations they'll plan smarter for efficiency with less focus on looking pretty for the media.

Interesting Book of the Day

Just finished reading The Housing Boom and Bust
by Thomas Sowell.

There's also a new updated editioncoming out shortly.

The short and concise(192 pages) book is very well written and it cogently and succinctly without wasting any words explains the cause of the housing boom and bust and the aftermath. Sowell points out the various persons and entities at fault: Democrats, Republicans, President Bush, Sen. Chris Dodd, Rep. Barney Frank, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Wall Street banks, and the failure of the rating agencies to properly rate the secuties that were formed from packages of risky subprime loans.

He excoriates the politicians like Dodd and Frank whose policies on pushing risky lending standards and blocked regulation of two of their largest donors - Frannie Mae and Freddie Mac helped cause the crisis -- and who then turned around and blame the free market and a lack of regulation for the crisis.

He also analyzes the failed responses to the bust and how the political unpredictability is causing yet more harm to occur.

In short, Mr. Sowell describes a perfect storm of meddling politicians, risk-taking bankers and irresponsible borrowers that caused shockwaves and consequences that have not yet ended. Reading the book is like watching a train wreck in slow motion as it is carefully described.

Well worth a read, and you'll not look at the housing crisis the same way afterwards.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

MSU Students set up us the bomb.

Oh, for the good ol' days when getting bombed in college meant you were drunk off of your posterior.

4 MSU students face felonies for setting off bomb

Four Michigan State University freshmen face 20-year felonies after police say they detonated a commercial-grade explosive Sunday at a home on the 400 block of Grove Street.

Olivia M. Hudson of Okemos, Darby D. Dudley of Mason, Sasha N. Savage of Okemos and Nikolai E. Wasielewski of Rossford, Ohio, have been charged with placing explosives and causing property damage, and possession of bombs with unlawful intent -- causing property damage.

East Lansing 54-B District Court Judge Richard Ball arraigned the suspects, all 18 years old, on Monday. All were released on $2,500 cash bond. If convicted of the charges, they each face 20 years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

A hearing is set for Nov. 10 and a preliminary exam on Nov. 13.

Late Sunday, the explosive -- a type of firework used for large municipal displays -- was intentionally thrown at a home on Grove, less than one block from the East Lansing Police Department, police said.

"It was thrown in the direction of a specific address," East Lansing Police Capt. Tom Johnstone said. "Officers on duty heard the explosion and went in the direction of the smoke."
On viewing the poictures, they do not appear to be the smartest set of criminal masterminds that MSU has yet to produce. That their car was observed at the scene and more mortar bomb fireworks were found inside the car when they returned to their dorm kinda confirms it.

Something tells me that these freshmens' university careers are about to come to an abrupt halt, aside from possible correspondence courses for prisoner extension programs.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Union Members don't think Ford first

The Detroit News: UAW won't renegotiate after Ford deal fails
The United Auto Workers said Monday it will not return to the bargaining table with Ford Motor Co. to renegotiate concessions that were soundly rejected by a majority of 41,000 Ford workers.

The official tally released Monday by the UAW: 70 percent of production workers and 75 percent of skilled trades workers voted against the proposed changes.

. . .

Ford issued a statement saying it was "disappointed."

"The additional modifications we sought recently were designed to honor pattern bargaining and provide Ford with similar additional efficiencies as those ratified this year for our domestic competitors," said the statement by Joe Hinrichs, group vice president of global manufacturing and labor affairs.
Now the UAW-owned (partially) GM and Chrysler have a tremendous competitive advantage over the non-beholden Ford. Each of the Big Three having the UAW as its workers but two with a set of friendly terms for the government aid recipients GM and Chrysler ,and a not-so-favorable deal to Ford.

Expect Ford to have to ship work to non-union plants and overseas to keep competitive as it can't afford to do otherwise. Not good in the end for Michigan or the union workers themselves, but shortsightedness is what we've come to expect from all parts of the Big Three from management to workers.

Obama Administration pushes Unions on the Airlines

The Detroit News: Airlines oppose union rule change
The National Mediation Board proposed a rule change Monday that would allow airline and railroad workers to unionize, even if a majority of workers don't participate in the election.

The change would overturn more than 75 years of precedent. It would eliminate a requirement that a majority of workers must participate in a unionization election for it to be valid.
Unsurprisingly, the change does not have a parallel provision to decertify a union without a majority, thus tipping the balance firmly towards the unions.

It's not like airlines are flush with cash and ripe for plucking by unions, they're hanging on by their wingtips and increaed labor costs through pushed-through unionization without even a majority of workers approving the change is just plane wrong.

Yet another example of payback to Obama's union backers.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Michigan's Inefficient Spending on Roads - The Fort Street Rebuild As An Example

Part of the reason Michigan's roads are in such terrible condition, compared to other states is not just that work and maintenance has simply not been done, but the sheer cost of the repairs.

To repair 1.2 miles of one road including an overpass will cost approximately $40 Million dollars.

Crumbling Fort Street to undergo overhaul
Drivers who've put up with a bumpy stretch of Fort Street and one of the region's most notoriously decrepit bridges will have a chance to see plans next week for $40 million in upgrades to the roadway and the overpass in southwest Detroit....That's what the Michigan Department of Transportation has in store for Fort between Schaefer Highway and Oakwood Boulevard in Detroit -- roughly between the Fort-Schaefer I-75 exit and the Rouge River. The project is scheduled to begin next summer and last through late 2011.
$40 Million dollars to repair all of 1.2 miles? At that rate the state will run out of money long before it runs out of roads to fix.

Certainly it is time the state looks into how to control the costs of road maintenance. I remember when $1 million per mile was absurd, but $40 million is just plain nuts. Whether it means streamlining the process, dropping favored clauses and padding from contracts and getting real performance bids, or reexamining all the costs involved, something needs to be done.

Making matters worse on the Fort street project is the overpass itself, namely that
Despite its condition, the overpass is on the National Register of Historic Places, MDOT spokesman Rob Morosi said , and can't be redesigned.
An overpass as a historic site? Yes, it really is:
Fort Street--Pleasant Street and Norfolk & Western Railroad Viaduct [Image]

Link will open in a new browser window
Link will open in a new browser window
Publisher: National Park Service
Published: 02/18/2000
Access: Public access
Restrictions: Public domain
Is Part Of: Highway Bridges of Michigan MPS
Format/Size: Physical document with text, photos and map
Language: eng: English
Note: Fort St. over Pleasant St. and N&W RR.
Item No.: 00000116 NRIS (National Register Information System)
Subject: EVENT
Subject: 1925-1949
Keywords: Wayne County Road Commission;1928
Place: MICHIGAN -- Wayne County -- Detroit

Record Number: 133203
Record Owner: National Register of Historic Places
No idea what it or its designer did for it to be so designated, but who knows how much extra that adds to the cost of repair, not to mention it can't be updated for safety or improved traffic flow.

In any case, $40 million for 1.2 miles is simply too much.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Ancient Coin Post - An As of Domitian

Obverse: Head of Domitian facing right
Inscription: Caesar Avg F Domitianus Cos Des II

Reverse: Victory facing right placing a laurel on a Roman legionary standard
Inscription: Victoria Avgvsti

Domitian is not making a donkey of himself, this bronze coin is known as an As.

An As, a bronze coin, was worth 1/10th of a silver denarius. Due to inflation, the As was struck relatively infrequently, disappearing from circulation and finally being completely dropped from usage in the 3rd century AD.

This particular coin was struck in 72-73 AD, and it can be dated quite precisely as the coin notes that it was struck when Domitian had been Designated a Consul for a second time (COS DES II), which occurred in 72 CE. At the time Domitian was a Caesar under the Emperor Vespasian, his father.

It is part of the Jewish War Victory Coinage series struck after the Roman victory in the First Jewish War. On the reverse of the coin, the goddess Victory is decorating a legionary standard with a laurel, a symbol of victory.

As for Domitian, he became Emperor after the death of his brother Titus, who had succeeded Vespasian. Domitian is the last of Suetonius' The Twelve Caesars . Suetonius, writing in the age of Nerva finished his racy and interesting chronicle with the death of Domitian. Domitian ruled for 15 years, finally being assassinated in a palace conspiracy and he was replaced as Emperor by Nerva. Domitian suffered the damnatio memoriae, or the removal of references to him in public records, the melting down of his coinage and the defacement and removal of his image in public artwork.

This was my first ancient Roman coin purchase back in 1990, and it marked the end of my modern coin collecting habit and the start of years into the study and collecting of ancient coinage.

As an interesting aside, the British Museum Catalog number for this coin is BMC II p.144, *, meaning that it is in the second volume of the British Museum Catalog, which is an excellent reference for Roman Coins as the British Museum has one of the finest collections anywhere. However, the * in the catalog number means they lack an example of this coin in their collection, so I have at least one coin that they lack.

Loans so the Mayor can leave - Kwame's Kontributions in the news

It turns out that several prominent Detroit businessmen made substantial loans or outright gifts to now ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

Roger Penske, Dan Gilbert, Jim Nicholson and Peter Karmanos gave Kwame $240,000

Also, it turns out magnate Matty Maroun gave Kwame a gift of $50,000. Maroun owns considerable Detroit property and the bridge that is the international crossing between Detroit and Windsor. He also made some major donations to Kirkpatrick's mother, Congresswoman (for life / D-Detroit) Carolyn Kilpatrick. Pay to play anyone or just business as usual in the D?

The loans were apparently part of a deal, agreement or simple understanding in return for him to resign as mayor of Detroit, not to mention ending a serious Democrat scandal in Michigan in an election year, and possibly even agreeing not to attend the Democrat convention due to potential embarasment over Obama's endoresement and friendship with Kwame -

You could say that Kwame, like Blagojevich, knew the position he held was a valuable thing, and he got some value for leaving and both sparing the City, Obama, and the Democratic establishment some high-profile embarrassment during a crucial election. At least Kwame made some cash and a nice well-paying job after his exit in exchange for his valuable thing.

It should be interesting to see what happens if the court decides to have the businessmen testify under oath as to the reasons for their generous gifts, and if any of them were quietly promised either favors if they made these "gifts" or disfavor if they failed to do so.