Monday, September 26, 2011

On vehicles, and the value of Paying Attention

So, on the way to the USPSA match yesterday and going to pick up my friend Rob for his first match, I was minding my own business. Stopped at a red light with a car to my front, a car (A Kia Sportage) to my rear and a Police car ahead in the left lane with a car behind it.

The light turns green. The officer floors it, and the car behind her proceeds in her wake. The car ahead of me pauses, considers and takes its sweet time deciding to move, and then finally begins to roll forward. I take my foot off the brake, and I'm about to hit the gas and


The whole RAV4 jumps forward and I'm pressed against my seat belt from the impact.

The lady driving the Kia Sportage decided not to wait for the traffic in front of her to move.

This, I think, is about to suck.

So we pull over and I indicate we should get off the main road so we make the turn rather than going through as planned.

Flashing lights then appear. The officer actually heard the bang and came back. So we all pull into a parking lot and get out to inspect the damage.

Amazingly, it seems by RAV4 is unmarked.

It appears Mrs. Kia rammed into my tire cover on the rear of the car. The tire cover must have flexed to avoid cracking or denting, and once I get a car wash we'll see if there are any scratches. Both the flexing and the dirt likely acted as a buffer to the impact. I had figured on massive damage given the sound and the feeling but there is nothing really visible at first glance.

Her Kia however looks quite the worse for wear - the plastic grill is badly cracked and the hood has a nice fold in it. Did I mention she's got plently of prior dents in the vehicle from what look like plentiful prior accidents?

So she tells the officer the following story:

She's on her way to church and saw the light turn green, then looked down and reached down to get something while hitting the gas.

She also mentions she's originally from Chicago and couldn't believe the guy in front of me didn't hurry up and go when the light turned green.

Brilliant. This kind of driving attitude and attention to detail could explain a lot of the pre-existing damage on her car.

So we all hand over our licenses, registration, insurance and I produced my CPL as required, no big deal.

The lady begins to claim she can't find her license or insurance or registration.

Another police car shows up and the officers confer.

After awhile, losing all the time advantage of leaving early for the match, the second officer comes up, hands me my paperwork and a copy of the accident receipt in case I need to pull the accident report and says I'm free to go.

She gets to stick around a while longer.

So the score is now RAV4 - 1 Kia Sportage - 0, with an own-goal no less.

Top Shot now casting - with some notable conditions

So Top Shot, the reality TV shooting show is now issuing an open casting call for the next season.

However, there are certain minimum qualifications and restrictions that must be met in order to be considered.

Most notably:

•Participant must never have been convicted of or have charges pending against him or her for any of the following misdemeanors:
•Transferring guns to criminal street gang members

This pretty much eliminates all potential shooters from the US Department of Justice as contestants.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Go Roman Around

This is very cool.

René Voorburg of has created an awesome interactive online map that allows you to plot routes using the Roman roads, cities, water routes, and forts as shown on the Tabula Peutingeriana. The Tabula, also known as the Peutinger map, is a medieval copy of a Roman Road map from 300 AD.

Now you can see how to travel from Jerusalem to Rome (Romani Ite Domum!).

So how do you say Google maps in Latin anyway?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Your Life May Exist Just So You Can Receive A Darwin Award....

Findlaw: Police: Pa. man may have drowned trying to get gun

Police in Massachusetts say a Pennsylvania man with rope, a pulley, a flashlight attached to a headband and glow sticks may have drowned in a river while trying to retrieve a gun.

Haverhill (HAY'-vruhl) police say divers found a Glock semiautomatic pistol Wednesday in the Merrimack River. It was near the spot where the body of 30-year-old Matthew Bleistein of Lancaster, Pa., was found suspended by a rope around his waist on Saturday.

Investigators think Bleistein used with the rope and pulley to hoist himself over a wall
Doesn't sound like he thought through the plan too well now does it?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

With All Deliberate Speed, But Not Yet

The Detroit Free Press: Obama administration insists on Guantanamo closure

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said today that the Obama administration will do its utmost to close the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay before next year's presidential elections despite political opposition.

Holder said at the European Parliament that even if the current administration fails to close it ahead of elections, it will continue to press ahead if it wins the November 2012 presidential vote.
After all, they've been doing their utmost to close it the past four years, really they have, nudge nudge, wink wink - know what I mean?
The campaign promise to close Guantanamo has been a major problem for President Barack Obama since he took office. He had promised to close the prison within a year but it remains open as his campaign for re-election gets under way.

That delay over the past 4 years failure to close it has been all Bush's fault.

"We will be pressing for the closure of the facility between now and then — and after that election, we will try to close it as well," Holder said. "Some people have made this a political issue without looking at, I think, the real benefits that would flow from the closure of the facility."

Ah, the old push it through after an election during a lame duck period trick. Nice way to make someone else clean up the mess of your politically correct decision to shut it down on the way out.

Ed Morrissey at HotAir also has a take on this latest pronouncement from Mr. Holder.

Dive 192 - Return to the Wexford

A friend and fellow diver, Dave, offered to take us on his boat on Sunday to go dive the Wexford.

As the Wexford is my favorite wreck, and I hadn't been to it in years, how could I refuse?

So I picked up James at 0620 on Sunday (The 0 stands for oh my gosh its early) and we drove to Grand Bend, Ontario to meet David, His dive buddy Michele and his cousin. The start was most auspicious, traffic was light I was one of two cars at the Canadian border that morning and we made it to Grand Bend in great time by 8:30 and the weather promised to be most cooperative - sunny and with waves of only 2-4 feet.

View from the Grand Bend Marina
We were early so we had time to have breakfast at the Back'n Time Classic Diner which was awesome.  A Great Canadian breakfast of two eggs, ample slices of some of the best pea-meal (back) bacon ever, home fries and toast along with bottomless cups of coffee set us in a great mood for the day and put an end to any chance of being hungry.  If you visit Grand Bend, you must go there for breakfast.

One of the current challenges in diving the Wexford is that charters from the US won't go to it anymore as you now have to dock the boat at a Canadian port first and clear customs, go back to the dive site and then go home which is a hassle, so an offer to go was pretty awesome.

Dave's boat is however more of a super speedboat than a dedicated dive boat, which was to have some consequences later.

The Boat - Can you tell what's missing by looking at this picture?

So we loaded some gear on the boat and changed into our drysuits as Dave got the boat in the water at the dock.  We then loaded our doubles be carefully hopping from the dock onto the boat and placed them in the back.

With 4 divers and Dave's cousin to act as the boat tender it was kinda crowded with tanks and gear.  Dave had us depart Grand Bend in style  with all of us standing in the front of the boat to counter the weight of the tanks in the back we made it to the wreck site in 6 minutes going about 60 mph!

We then tied into the wreck buoy on the stern of the Wexford and prepared to dive. Maneuvering in the boat to prepare to dive and get the doubles on was a bit difficult.  The set of doubles weigh about 135 pounds and having to get the gear on, stand on a seat and then step up to the side of the boat took some coordination.  James and I then did backwards rolls off the side to get in the water.  Dave and Michele, both in singles, got geared up after us and went in off the stern. The dive then began at 11:45 am.

James and I then kicked over to the down line to the wreck and at 10 feet did a modified valve drill to make sure we could reach our valves and a modified S-drill to make sure our longhoses weren't obstructed, and then we descended to the Wexford.

The S.S. Wexford prior to the Great Storm of 1913

 The Wexford, which sank in the great Storm of 1913 and wasn't discovered until 2000 is one of the finest wrecks at recreational depths in the Great Lakes.  The only ship discovered that sank from the storm of 1913 that lies upright, she's a delight to visit.  The visibility was decent even with some interesting current moving particulate around and many small lake perch swam around her zebra mussel encrusted hull.

An entry into the cargo holds, seen from above on the descent to the wreck

James above the entry to the cargo hold

Intact porthole on the Wexford seen from the inside of the ship, staring out into Lake Huron

Into the cargo hold

A School of Lake Perch

Above another cargo hold

In the second hold

Leaving the wreck of the Wexford

An excellent dive indeed, but a new task loomed ahead.....getting back on the boat.

The answer to the question posed below the picture of what's missing from Dave's boat above is: a ladder!

Getting back on was to prove to be more than half the fun.

We each took turns getting up, with James going first. Holding onto the bar pictured at the stern, we passed up our cameras and removed our fins and handed them up.

Then with one foot on an engine, a hand on the bar and another hand on the cleat to the right, we had to pull ourselves up and then scramble up the rear deck before we fell back into the water.

Did I mention we did this with about 135 pounds of unwieldy tanks strapped to our backs with the waves rocking the boat up and down and lifting the stern up and out of the water and then threatening to roll us back in?

Darn good thing I had been doing some pushups recently, or Dave would have had to tow me back to Grand Bend.

Then once up on the platform at the stern, the tanks squished us onto the back, making it difficult to crawl off the swim platform, we then had to turn sideways and pull ourselves up so we could get into the boat itself. With a great deal of exertion, we made it.

In this case, getting back was truly more than half the fun.

We then headed back to Grand Bend at a rocking 60mph with a bit more wave action for some bumps on the way (on occasion, both feet left the deck of the boat) and then we drove home tired and with aching muscles but happy after a visit to the finest recreational level wreck in the Great Lakes.

The Dive Details
Dive time: 44 minutes
Max Depth: 79 feet
Average depth: 55 feet
Water Temperature: 66
Gas mix: Nitrox 32
Gas used: 1800 psi

Any time you can dive the Wexford it is a great dive.

But, next time I do it from Dave's boat, we're either all chipping in and buying him a ladder or I'm doing it in a single with an H Valve.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Netflix, Just As We Got to Know Ya, You Go Off Qwik

Apparently Netflix is in a big hurry to separate its DVD mailing line from its streaming line of business.

So quick of a hurry in fact, that in the same month that they raise prices and have separate options that cleave the DVDs from the streaming choices without a lot of explanation, annoying a lot of their subscribers, they're now going all the way and slicing DVDs from Netflix entirely.

The DVD shipment side will not longer be called Netflix but instead will be called Qwikster.

In an email just received from Netflix (and also viewable on their blog)here's the deal:

Many members love our DVD service, as I do, because nearly every movie ever made is published on DVD. DVD is a great option for those who want the huge and comprehensive selection of movies.

I also love our streaming service because it is integrated into my TV, and I can watch anytime I want. The benefits of our streaming service are really quite different from the benefits of DVD by mail. We need to focus on rapid improvement as streaming technology and the market evolves, without maintaining compatibility with our DVD by mail service.

So we realized that streaming and DVD by mail are really becoming two different businesses, with very different cost structures, that need to be marketed differently, and we need to let each grow and operate independently.

It’s hard to write this after over 10 years of mailing DVDs with pride, but we think it is necessary: In a few weeks, we will rename our DVD by mail service to “Qwikster”. We chose the name Qwikster because it refers to quick delivery. We will keep the name “Netflix” for streaming.

Qwikster will be the same website and DVD service that everyone is used to. It is just a new name, and DVD members will go to to access their DVD queues and choose movies. One improvement we will make at launch is to add a video games upgrade option, similar to our upgrade option for Blu-ray, for those who want to rent Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360 games. Members have been asking for video games for many years, but now that DVD by mail has its own team, we are finally getting it done. Other improvements will follow. A negative of the renaming and separation is that the and websites will not be integrated.

There are no pricing changes (we’re done with that!). If you subscribe to both services you will have two entries on your credit card statement, one for Qwikster and one for Netflix. The total will be the same as your current charges. We will let you know in a few weeks when the website is up and ready.

Netflix seems to be in a heckuva hurry to dispense with the DVD model that made it famous and changed the entire movie rental industry to instead concentrate on streaming.

My bet is the streaming overhead is lower and probably appears cooler as a competitior to Comcast's On Demand and other services.

Netflix doesn't seem to like stocking all the DVDs, which is why quite a number of Movies and TV Shows are not showing up as possible options via DVD, and DVDs disappear as unavaialble, and are only viewable by streaming.

Hard to say if this is a great business move for them, and I wonder if they'll be selling off the Qwikster brand in time. The name change certainly dilutes the goodwill Netflix has built up in the DVD business under the Netflix name. The name itself is not very unique or inspiring: Qwickster is too reminiscent of Quixtar, Amway's foray into online world.

For now I'll keep getting my DVDs from Qwikster, the DVD by mail service formerly known as Netflix or TDBMSFKAN - Hey they coulda called it FKAN-DVDs and gotten their view of the DVD by mail business across nicely).

With luck they will transfer my current movie queue without a problem as it would be a pain to restore. Lets see what happens next.

Why Does GM Give The UAW Workers $5000 Each In Bonuses When Taxpayer Loans Are Outstanding?

Instapundit links to Mickey Kaus who cogently wonders why GM is giving UAW Union workers at General Motors $5,000 bonuses instead of using the profits to pay back the taxpayer bailouts.

Simple, the UAW is an Obama core constituency of course.

The average American taxpayer, not so much.....

Saturday, September 17, 2011

T28 of the Trojan Horsemen crashes at Martinsburg, WV Airshow

As just relayed to me by phone by Murphy's Law who is at the scene, a T-28 of the Trojan Horsemen augured in just now during the Thunder Over the Blue Ridge Open House and Air Show.

According to ML, the aircraft hit the end of the runway during a low, high-speed pass with another aircraft and crashed in a huge fireball with the pilot still on board. The airshow is now closed for the day.


Losing a historic warbird is bad, losing the pilot is much worse.

Update: Martinsburg's The Journal has the story.

Further Update: It is confirmed that the pilot was John "Jack" Mangan. RIP.

Really Mayor Bloomberg, if you have nothing nice to say...

Bloomberg: Economy Woes Will Lead to 'Riots'

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned Friday there could be “riots” in the streets of U.S. cities if the economy doesn’t pick up soon.

The lack of jobs is making people increasingly desperate, Bloomberg said on his weekly WOR radio show.

"We have a lot of kids graduating college, can't find jobs," Bloomberg said, according to the New York Daily News. "That's what happened in Cairo. That's what happened in Madrid. You don't want those kinds of riots here."
Mr. Bloomberg, you, like many politicians, just don't know when to shut up.

You really don't want to be pre-making justifications and excuses for people to do something stupid like rioting, nor giving morons ideas that its a good time for a riot.

After all, a riot is an ugly thing:

Stick to your war on salt. While dumb and scientifically dubious, nobody is likely to trash your city over it.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Maiestas Minuta Praesidi Obami

The Romans had a cover-all charge called Maiestas, which was short for maiestas minuta populi Romani - the crime of diminishing the greatness of the People of Rome.

The punishment for the charge was death or banishment and confiscation of the transgressors property as punishment for actions ranging from libel and slander of the emperor up through more serious (and often trumped-up) treason and conspiracy charges.

Basically, it was a great way of silencing political enemies of the emperor and enriching the public purse at the same time by taking their property.

Now it appears that Obama is gearing up to make a charge of diminishing the greatness of President Obama.

He even offers a helpful, if not downright creepy site, hosted on his rather creepily named by allowing his supporters to submit reports of attacks on the greatness of Obama. It's gathering a fair bit of attention these days.

So you may want to go early and self-report: Attention, Citizens

Tam points out the impressive tone deafness of it all.

I'm not sure if it is tone deafness. It may just be they simply no longer care what their critics and opponents think and just want to fire up and aggrandize their suporters and hope that is enough to carry him through 2012.

Most Americans get a little concerned when their President and his staff starts requesting reports so that an enemies list of critics of the President can be assembled.

As much as Obama and some of his more diehard supporters would prefer otherwise, no one elected him Emperor.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Apparently, Putting Explosives In Your Underwear Causes Brain Damage

Underwear bomber shouts 'Osama's alive' as he enters court during jury selection

“Osama’s alive,” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab shouted as he entered a courtroom in Detroit this morning. “I’m forced to wear prison clothes.”

Abdulmutallab, wearing khaki prison pants, a white T-shirt and black skull cap, refused to stand when U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds, who was in another room with prospective jurors, asked him to stand with others in her courtroom several floors away.

While Edmunds briefed jurors about the allegations against him, Abdulmutallab hollered “jihad” and stared at the ceiling when she told jurors about the alleged plot to blow up the plane with a bomb in his underwear.

Ok, the brain damage may very well have been pre-existing....

He's also going with some lovable and oh so wacky legal theories:
Edmunds conducted a hearing to decide several requests from Abdulmutallab, including one to be released claiming he’s being unlawfully detained by the U.S. government. Specifically, he has argued in court documents "all Muslims should only be ruled by the law of the Quran."

She denied the request.
Who coulda seen that ruling coming?

As an exercise in lawfare, it is certainly succeeding in tying up US government resources and promises to continue to do so:
In September, Abdulmutallab fired his govern­ment-ap­pointed lawyers and suggested that he wanted to plead guilty to some charges. He has said noth­ing about a plea since.

Chambers has said that a plea is unlikely.

"We will challenge everything," Chambers said earlier this year, noting his client "has a full understanding of his situation."

Yep, he's going to waste court resources, turn the trial into a circus and demonstrate how the civillian justice system has a difficult time dealing with international terrorist Islamists.

With Visibility So Bad You Couldn't See A Cannon In Front Of Your Face

Detroit Free Press: 200-year-old cannon still stuck in the Detroit River

200-year-old cannon resting on the bottom of the Detroit River will stay there a little longer, after weather, high waves and poor visibility foiled an attempt to raise it Wednesday.

Detroit police divers spent a frustrating day searching a 25-foot-by-25-foot patch of river bottom without success, said Joel Stone, curator at the Detroit Historical Museum. Underwater visibility was so poor, they were forced to search by touch.

The cannon was found in late July, and the site was marked by GPS, about 20 feet underwater and about 200 feet from the seawall behind Cobo Center.

That had to be annoying, searching 625 square feet for a cannon and not finding it has got to suck. I can certainly understand how hard it can be to find stuff in lousy visibility, and it sounds like they had it pretty bad.

Hopefully they'll recover it the next time and it is certainly a great training excercise for the divers involved.

Now, if they would just call for some volunteers next time....

Meanwhile, in other underwater exploration news, Students on a school trip discover two wrecks in Lake Huron:

Detroit Free Press: Saginaw high school students find 2 Lake Huron shipwrecks.

That had to be an awesome experience.

PLO wants Palestinian State to be Judenrein

USA Today: PLO ambassador says Palestinian state should be free of Jews

The Palestine Liberation Organization's ambassador to the United States said Tuesday that any future Palestinian state it seeks with help from the United Nations and the United States should be free of Jews.

Note, not free of Israelis, but Jews, period.

Amazing that they are finally saying in English what they have been stating in Arabic all this time.

And, they and their apologists claim with a straight face that Israel is an "apartheid state".

The palestinian Arabs have a history of terrorism, corruption, anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism.

Such lovely people, let's give them a state.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Diver Down

The Detroit Free Press: Canadian, U.S. officials search water near Blue Water Bridge for missing diver

Canadian and U.S. rescuers continue to search for a diver missing from near the Blue Water Bridge since Monday afternoon.

An instructor and two students went into the Canadian side of the St. Clair River near the Blue Water Bridge Monday afternoon, and only two of the three men resurfaced, U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Justin Westmiller said today.
The St. Clair River can have lousy visibility and strong currents, not to mention lake freighter traffic coming through to add to the difficulties of the diving there.

Let's hope this ends with a rescue rather than a recovery, but after having searched this long it looks like the authorities are moving into the recovery phase.

Update:  It is now confirmed that the body recovered in the St. Clair River is Winelmus Bardoel, 48, the missing diver from Ingersol, Ontario. RIP.  Not the hoped-for ending to the situation.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Kwame Krony Kracks

As US District Attorney Barbara McQuade pushes forward in her corruption investigation, a key aide of Kwame Kilpatrick has pled guilty and apparently agreed to testify against the tainted former mayor.

The Detroit Free Press: Kwame Kilpatrick aide Derrick Miller pleads guilty in stunning setback for former mayor

Derrick Miller, one of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's closest friends and trusted aides, pleaded guilty to bribery and lying on his taxes this morning in U.S. District Court in downtown Detroit.

As part of his guilty plea, he will be cooperating in the case against Kilpatrick and is expected to testify at the ex-mayor’s trial, which is scheduled for September 2012.

Kilpatrick; his father, Bernard Kilpatrick; Miller, longtime pal and controversial contractor Bobby Ferguson and former head of Detroit's water and sewerage department Victor Mercado were indicted in December on charges they perverted the city’s contracting system by shaking down city contractors to steer millions in public funds into their own pockets.

The lying on his taxes part comes from not reporting the hundreds of thousands of dollars he received as bribes, pay-to-play fees (ie you pay him or you don't get a shot at doing busienss with the city), and kickbacks from developers.

When you read the article and look at the influence Miller was peddling its amazing both how much money he was receiving and how cheap at times it could be to do "business" with him and make out like a bandit at the expense of the city.

For example, in return for a $10,000 dollar bribe, he allegedly
authorized that at least $4.4 million in U.S. Department of Homeland Security funds be paid to Security Communications Alert Network to install security cameras and television screens in the city to detect potential threats to the public.
Not a bad return on an investment.

Of course these sweetheart deals increased the cost and financial strain upon both the city of Detroit, and in the case of the massive corruption going on at the Water Depertment, to the entire region.

Kudos to USDA McQuade for her determined and fruitful pursuit of this wretched hive of scum and villany.

The investigation is not over yet, and I bet we haven't even seen the tip of the iceberg of the corruption under the Kwame regime.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11/01 - 9/11/11

10 Years.

Murphy's Law has a fitting tribute to the fire and police personnel lost that day.

10 years later there is still no completed replacement standing for these magnificent buildings. To put this in perspective, it only took 7 years to build them both originally.

Instead, we now have two large man-made fountains, each an acre in size with 30 foot deep holes in the ground like eternal scars where each tower once stood.

This does not seem to be a befitting way to remember those who died in the towers and the towers themselves.

America can and should do it better than that.

10 years later we're still fighting the same war on Islamist extremists, and the holes in the Manhattan landscape remain.

10 Years later, not Forgotten, not Forgiven.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

So, What's in the Library?

Now that Brigid, Murphy's Law, North, Expatriate Owl and others have posted their collections I suppose I ought to do the same.

Enter the Library:

Ancient History: From Mesopotamia, Ancient Israel, Greece and Rome through the Dark Ages. A heavy focus on warfare with most of the definitive works about the Roman legions being in the collection, but also on religion, architecture, technology and everyday life in antiquity, as well as its culture and works in both the original and translation of ancient authors and playwrights.

Numismatics: The definitive reference guides, handbooks, scholarly treatises, and copies of collections of Ancient Roman, Greek and Jewish coins. The auction and sale catalogs are stored separately and run to 3 banker's boxes of some of the finest photographic representations of coins anywhere. Many of these tomes on coinage are rare.

In this Library, abridged versions are frowned upon:

Modern History and Warfare: Running from where the ancient collection ends through the modern day including American history from the Colonial days forward, history of Israel, Canada, the world at large and today's wars. Victor Davis Hanson and John Keegan feature prominently

Political Thought and Economics: A heavy does of libertarian material but running the gamut from Smith to Marx to Milton Friedman.

Cookbooks: Man doth not live by reading books alone, and recipe books ranging from Apicius' Roman Cookery (yes, recipes that have survived from Ancient Rome) through America's Test Kitchen provide plentiful tasty recipes to sustain one between reading bouts.

Light Reading: Some John Ringo, Some Larry Correia, and some S.M. Stirling now reside upstairs for some current light reads, with most of the light reading and fiction, including the classics, residing downstairs.

Downstairs also has the Legal tomes, books on Scuba Diving and the firearms books.

Nothing like sitting in a room surrounded by books reading on a comfortable couch, or even surfing the internet, blogging, or working online in such a room.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

If it was Said in Detroit and Neither the Detroit News nor the Free Press Deigns to mention it, was it really spoken?

Labor day wasn't all festivals and family time.

It was also the kickoff of Obama's new re=election campaign and shoring up his unionized labor base.

So at Obama's rally in Detroit who should step up to be his attack dog but Teamsters President James Hoffa:

The Blogprof: Happy Labor Day: Union Boss Jim Hoffa Threatens Tea Party At Taxpayer-Funded Obama Rally

Note the rhetoric:

"President Obama, this is your army we are ready to march lets take these son of a bitches out and give America back to America where we belong. Thank you very much.

Ah, that lovely Democrat ungrammatical and uncivil discourse that we all know and love. You'll note Obama doesn't seem to mind such harsh rhetoric in his presence.

Funnily enough, neither the Detroit News nor the Detroit Free Press deigned mention this part of Hoffa's speech in their initial reports and it took until 4:41 pm today for the Free Press to mention the controversy, and the Detroit News finally added it to a side story.

Funny how that happened.

Dive 188 - Reel Around The Lake

So last night, after attending both the Temple Israel Labor Day fair and Arts, Beats and Eats with the family, I met up with Keith, Chad and Brando and hit the waters of Union Lake. Brando had brought his scooter and was coming in off the bank and the rest of us entered beside the boat dock.

I had brough my dive reel along as I was planning on doing so line work for practice. It was clipped off to my rear D ring and it gets carried along behind you as you fin away.

The reel practice was not to be.

Heading out in about 1 foot of visibility (full on SFA conditions), I was finning like heck to keep up with the dimming glow of Chad's light. Keith had disappeared off to my left almost as the dive started (he lost us then hooked over to the underwater mirror), so I'm focussing on keeping Chad in sight as he searches for Brando.

I then realize that I'm missing something.

I reach back and only the double ended clip that was holding the reel in place is there.

I can hear a little B.B. King in the background "The reel is gone, the reel is gone away, the reel is gone baby"

Oh crap. That's an expensive piece of equipment to lose, and with the viz being so bad and overgrown vegitation everywhere finding it is like the needle in the proverbial haystack, or the reel in the proverbial lake.

So I finally catch up with Chad and rendevous with Keith and frantically signal that I'm hosed. He doesn't get it immediately, then I reach back and show him the bare double ended clip where the reel should be. His eyes widen and he clearly understands.

So we continue the dive without it, and go to the boats, and I do an excellent no-mask line drill.

The water is getting a touch colder and my bare face can feel it, but its ok. I apparently did it well, keeping in trim and staying level while following the line. I get my mask back on and we then all search a bit for the reel. No luck, this sucks.

At this point I'm suspecting it is near the boat dock and it fell off as I departed rather than in the weeds.

So we surface near Brando's entry point and we discuss things.

Chad and Brando want to chase after a boat prop Brando saw at 16 feet and couldn't grab while maneuving a scooter and a camera, and I really want to start backtracking towards the boatdock to look for Mr. Reel.

So Keith and I head out towards the boat dock carefully searching the lake bottom for the errant reel.

Sure enough, just a few feet fromt her boat dock, I see a black shape with a white spool appear out of the cloudy viz...its the reel!

A shout of triumph was heard underwater then.

I show it to Keith and he's pretty impressed I found it.

I'm quite ecstatic.

So we then wait for Chad and Brandon to come back up, they don't find the prop but they're happy after a good dive.

So the dive comes to a happy end and we get out.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Detroit: Since it didn't work last time, lets do it again, but bigger.

The Detroit News: Lessons from the People Mover

he rail system circles downtown Detroit and was built in 1987 on the theory that it would help fill office buildings and draw new restaurants, residents and retail outlets. It was also supposed to connect to hoped-for subway and rail lines.

But like many government projects built without regard for a return on investment, the People Mover never delivered on its promise.

Ridership never reached the 12 million annual passengers predicted before it opened, let alone the 20 million needed to break even. So the city has kicked in huge subsidies to keep if from shutting down and standing as yet another reminder of Detroit's struggles.

Read that last paragraph again.

Detroit knew it would take 20 million riders for the People Mover just to break even and they opened it predicting it would get 12 million and then it didn't even reach that. It was opened with a prediction that it would lose money, but they under-predicted the loss. Currently the city is subsidizing each rider's trip by $2.

This is known as Governmental Math: "We lose money on every rider, but we make it up in volume!"

So they're going to do it again, only bigger, using federal transit dollars as well as some private investors and city money:
Detroit is now moving ahead with plans to build a light rail system up Woodward Avenue from downtown. It's an ambitious project funded with private and federal dollars.

Once again, the promise is that the rail line will hasten downtown's recovery and spark pockets of development around the stations.

It's an enticing project. But we hope the city will be more realistic in its ridership estimates, as well as projections of spin-off economic benefits, before taking on annual operating subsidies that could dwarf what it takes to keep the People Mover-to-nowhere spinning nearly empty cars around downtown.

Any bets on who gets to cough up the annual subsidy when the rail line fails to reach the break-even point?

Sunday, September 04, 2011

The Perils of a Catch and Release Combatant Policy

Fox News: NATO Kills Ex-Gitmo Detainee in Afghanistan

NATO and Afghan forces killed a former Guantanamo detainee who had become a key Al Qaeda affiliate after returning to Afghanistan, officials said Saturday.

Sabar Lal Melma, who was released from Guantanamo in 2007 after five years of detention, had been organizing attacks in eastern Kunar province and funding insurgent operations, NATO spokesman Capt. Justin Brockhoff said.

That brings us to over 151 detainees confirmed or suspected of returning to the fight after their being released from Guantanamo.

Catch and release of enemy combatants tends to present problems, but this one finally resulted in a happy ending.

A War You Probably Never Heard Of.....

Ecuador and Peru went at it back in 1995 in the Cenepa War.

After losing in wars to Peru over the disputed jungle territories in 1941 and 1981, Ecuador prevailed in 1995.

Ecuador won through the use of superior air power, including use of Kfir fighter-bombers and superior use of special and regular forces in prepared positions equipped with anti-air weapons as well as artillery against mainly Peruvian conscripts.

Around 500 soldiers died in the conflict, the majority of them Peruvians.

The war ended after two months of fighting with a final resolution of the long disputed border between the countries.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Green Day Singer Tossed Off Plane For Wearing Sagging Pants

Foxnews:Green Day Front Man Kicked Off Plane Because of Saggy Pants

Apparently airlines these days are very concerned that their passengers wear pants that aren't properly worn.

Billie Joe Armstrong might also have been kicked off because he was an American Idiot on Holiday.

Now pull up your pants.

Coins of Gallienus: The Praetorians, the VII Legion, and Inflation

In the coins of the Roman Emperor Gallienus, who lived from AD ca. 213 - AD 268 and was Emperor from 253-268, we can visibly see the effects of inflation on the Roman coinage.

Gallienus as emperor had to deal with incursions into the Empire from the Persians and the Goths, slaughtering 50,000 Goths at the battle of Naissus in what is today Yugoslavia. He also had to handle a conflict with Palmyra and he also had to contend with the rebellions of Macrianus and Quietus in the east, Mussius Aemilianus in Egypt, Regalianus in Illyrica, Postumus and Aureolus in the west.

Ensuring the loyalty of the armies during these crises grew increasingly expensive as well as a vital necessity. Inflation occurred with the precious metal content of the coinage steadily decreasing as the Roman fisc tried to keep up with a multitude of expenses both military and civilian.

The Antoninianus, itself an answer to inflation supplanting the denarius, goes from a silver coin to a silver-washed bronze piece.

The coinage of Gallienus bears a multitude of interesting motifs, from wild animals to a series honoring the Roman Legions by name and number, one of only 4 such striking of Legionary coins series in the Roman coinage.

The Legionary series was meant to show the loyalty of the armies and Praetorian cohort was to the emperor even in the face of the numerous rebellions occurring against him.

The Praetorian Cohort Antoninianus:

Obverse: GALLIENVS AVG, Emperor draped bust, facing right with radiate crown.

Reverse: COHH PRAET VI P VI F, radiate lion walking right.

This coin honored the Praetorian cohort.

The Legionary Antoninianus of the 7th Legion:

Emperor draped bust, facing right with radiate crown.

Reverse: LEG VII CL VI P VI F, (Legion VII Claudia Pia Fidelis) bull walking right.

In September 268, Gallienus was killed in his camp by his own officers. Included in the plot to assassinate him was the commander of the Praetorian Guard, Heraclianus.

Gallienus was succeeded to the purple by Claudius II Gothicus, one of Gallienus' officers and conspirators who arranged his assassination.

Friday, September 02, 2011

The Sound Of Silencers Can Now Return To Michigan

Michigan's firearms laws are oftentimes weird, and the history of how they became so is often quite convoluted.

One of the interesting twists is that up until Former Attorney General Frank Kelley issued an Attorney General opinion in 1977, silencers, machineguns and short barrel rifles could be owned in Michigan by civillians as long as the proper ATF forms were filled out, taxes paid and approval given.

Mr. Kelley, being a Democrat, didn't like that and his opinion became binding law in Michigan.

Michigan law states that "if the person is licensed or approved to possess, manufacture, or sell such a device by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives," and Mr. Kelley's AG Opinion interpreted that to mean because the ATF form of approval, complete with background check and law enforcement sign-off was an approval of a tax form, it was not a license as such and thus civillians couldn't own them as an ATF "license" as such did not exist.

Former Attorney General Mike Cox, a few short years back in 2005 wrote an opinion that machineguns could again be legal for Michigan civillians to own as the ATF form and process was in fact meeting the status of "license" under Michgian law. Pretty reasonable, after all, if it looks like a license, requires paperwork and fingerprints like a license, and you get a form back permitting ownership, then heck, it is a license regardless of what you otherwise call it.

Now the current Michigan AG, Bill Schuette, has, following the same good reasoning and reading comprehension exhibited by Mr. Cox, ruled that silencers can now again be owned by Michigan civillians. So, many thanks to Attorney General Schuette for a well-reasoned opinion.

Now if someone could just ask him about SBRs we'll be right back to where we were prior to 1977.

Why You Need Checks and Balances on Those Writing the Checks

Accountant pleads guilty to $1.1M foundation theft

A woman who was an accountant at Munson Healthcare in northern Michigan has pleaded guilty to embezzling $1.1 million from a hospital foundation.

Lots and lots of embezzelment schemes are being detected now that the economy is weak and businesses are keeping closer track of their expenses, and the IRS is noting missing tax payments.

A lot of the fraud happens in the accounting department, because that's where the money is.

I had a client who was ripped off over $300,000 due to the bookeeper's writing checks to herself and falsely entering the checks into the books as going to payroll taxes and rent, which certainly helped destroy the company.

This creates a double whammy: Not only are you out the money they've stolen, you're also liable for unpaid federal taxes and penalties (and unpaid payroll taxes can result in personal liability for the owner of the business), and the federal taxes don't go away.

Often, the first sign businesses get when they've been embezzled in this manner is a federal tax lien for the taxes they up until then believed they had paid.

Businesses really need to have mechanisms in place to distribute the accounting functions of bill payment so that one person alone isn't handling the bookeeping and check writting without some oversight. There always has to be confirmation that the money is actually going where it needs to be paid rather than in a dishonest but trusted employees's pocket.

It is much better to prevent embezzlement before it starts than have to chase after money that is most likely already gone and spent.

One Gaffe, Two Realities

The issue of President Obama trying to hold his latest pronouncement on jobs (in between his vacations) at the same time as the prescheduled Republican debate on MSNBC is an interesting demonstration on how one event can be differently interpreted depending on your worldview.

So let's look at the chronology as noted by Instapundit (with lots of links to others commenting on the issue in detail):

1. The Republicans set a date for a debate to be covered on MSNBC and Politco.

2. Obama and the White House, aware of the Republican event, then decide to upstage them by holding Obama's talk in the House of Representatives at the same time and request the Republicans cancel their event.

3. Republicans say no, Democrat partisans are aghast at their temerity.

So the Detroit Free Press, being aghast at such effrontery, blames the Republicans for the conflict.

The Detroit Free Press: Why Americans hate Washington

Just hours after President Barack Obama announced his plans to address Congress next Wednesday on a new initiative to jump-start the stagnant jobs market, House Speaker John Boehner countered with a request that the president postpone his speech until Thursday, so as not to cannibalize the potential TV audience for a Wednesday debate among the Republicans vying for the chance to oppose Obama in the 2012 election.

Although superficially courteous, Boehner's suggestion bore some distinctly unfriendly implications: first, that a debate among Republicans was more urgent than anything the Democratic president had to say, and second, that the White House had selected its favored date in a calculated attempt to detract from the GOP's event.

Interesting. So the Freep's view is the Republicans should roll over and cancel their event so they can act as props and background to the President's latest and greatest pronouncement blaming Republicans for the economy and how his latest jobs plan (its coming! any day now!) will rectify the mess he's made worse.

Got it.

The Free Press then goes on to snidely state it would have been content to just watch snippets of the Republican debate later to make way for the much more important White house pronouncement:
We have no way of knowing whether the White House was consciously attempting to preempt the Republican debate or simply failed to recognize the GOP's previously scheduled event as a significant calendar conflict. (For the record, we were among the majority of Americans who would have been satisfied to see taped highlights of the debate the next day.)
The Freep however doesn't seem like it could have similarly held off to see "taped highlights" of Obama's speech. The Freep couldn't wait breathlessly for one more day for his speech to be aired (even the editors at the Freep need to breathe on occasion). Come on now Freep, how often do you really need to watch Obama's head do the giraffe-watching-tennis-thing between the teleprompters and hear him say "I", and "let me be clear" yet again?

The Detroit Free Press, yet another "objective" member of the Media well and truly in the tank for Obama and ready to interpret every event for his benefit.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

WBPD officers, unlike the IMPD, don't drive drunk, but do chaffeur some who do

Unlike Tam's IMPD, West Bloomfield Officers don't drive impaired.

However, under some circumstances, they give those who are allegedly impaired rides home rather than arrest them.

At least they do if you happen to be the Township Supervisor's husband.

The Detroit Free Press: Officer suspended, West Bloomfield in uproar over lenient traffic stop of supervisor's husband

A West Bloomfield Township police officer was suspended Monday as officials investigate a traffic stop in which the officer pulled over the husband of Supervisor Michele Economou Ureste, performed a blood-alcohol test and drove him home.
The PBT at the roadside allegedly showed he was at .11, however no blood test or station test was done and he was driven home.

The Township Supervisor was also in the car, and I'm sure that had nothing at all to do with the results of the stop being a ride home rather than a ride to a cell.

Average Joes, or even Jalen Rose don't receive such lenient treatment.

In West Bloomfield, some impaired are more equal than others, and now that this has come to light the officer gets all of a five day suspension.

The plot further thickens when it turns out the reason for the officer lettign this one slide was that he worried about a millage for the police not being approved if he arrested the Supervisor's husband. Now, I wonder who gave him that concern?
The officer was suspended Monday, the same day the Township board -- including the supervisor -- voted to approve a three-year police department contract. The department had been working without a contract since December.

Earlier in the summer, the board agreed to place a millage request on the November ballot, asking for 2.85 mills to fund public safety.

Patton said the officer cited that millage when confronted about the traffic stop.

"He was worried about the millage," the chief said the officer stated.

The officer has been on the force for three years, Diamond said today.
I suspect that this officer got placed in a no-win situation and the five day suspension was a wrist slap for getting caught out.

Meanwhile, the prosecutors have decided that Mr. Economou can't be charged due to a lack of evidence as conveniently no blood test or station test was performed.

The Economous deny he was drunk and claim he was just tired and are now claiming they've been defamed by the incident.