Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Last Hour Of December - Последний час декабря

As we enter the final hour of 2013, the family is sitting down to a traditional Russian small feast of delicacies and vodka (for those old enough to imbibe). Champagne waits patiently to be opened in an hour's time.

The kids have napped and been awoken and permitted to stay up to greet the New Year, and they'll get some New Year's presents as well.

In this last hour of December we can say goodbye to the old year and both the good and bad that it contained and look forward to the next.

The title of this post comes from the song title, "Последний час декабря" (Last Hour of December) from one of Natasha's favorite bands - Secret, a rock band she listened to growing up in Moscow back when it was still the Soviet Union.

May you all have a healthier, happier, and more prosperous year in 2014!

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 30, 2013

McBride Case Gets A Little Stranger

Over At Legal insurrection, Andrew Branca has an interesting revelation about the Renisha McBride shooting case.

One of the most interesting things that came out of the preliminary exam is that the police put the screen door back into place before photographing it.

After reading Mr. Branca's article you'll note that putting the screen back up makes for a ridiculous and unwieldy shooting angle.

As such, it is likely that Ms. McBride may have already broken the screen trying to get into the house before she was shot.

As such there may be somewhat of a tenuous self-defense claim here, as well explained by Mr. Branca if his scenario is correct, but it seems that the statement that it was an accidental shooting is probably going to get the shooter a manslaughter conviction.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

How About "No" For An Answer?

NBC Miami: Diver's Father Wants Tampa-Area Eagle Nest Sink Cave Closed After Deaths

After the completely self-inflicted, negligent and totally avoidable deaths of a father and son cave diving, the surviving grand-father and father of the duo wants the cave closed to all divers.

A Florida man wants the state to close an underwater cave system after his son and grandson died there in a diving accident on Christmas Day.

Chester Spivey Jr. says the 300-foot deep Eagle Nest Sink cave in the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area is too dangerous for diving. Thirty-five-year-old Darrin Spivey and his 15-year-old son, Dillon Sanchez, were found dead Wednesday.

No the cave should not be closed, and No, it is not too dangerous for diving by trained and experienced divers.

It is however too dangerous to un-certified and untrained divers as in this case.

Understand that when these two proceeded un-certified and untrained to get into the cave system they had to pass by this sign:

Warnings do not get much clearer than that.

When you're dumb enough to ignore them and proceed past that sign without training and knowing how to handle the cave, you're proceeding at your own risk and it is likely that you will indeed die. Even a seven-year-old on reading that sign knew it meant you don't go past it.

We don't permanently shut down highways when idiot fathers get drunk and kill themselves and their kids while DWI because they ran off the road at a curve. We don't close down bridges because people jump off of them. Similarly we shouldn't close a cave system because some idiots sadly decided it was a good location to commit suicide.

The father/grandfather is clearly grieving their untimely and unnecessary deaths, and likely very much in denial that his offspring sadly died of a case of terminal stupidity.

However, he, like far too many others, instead of placing the blame correctly on the person(s) making poor decisions when a tragedy strikes, is seeking to shift the blame to an inanimate object.

Hopefully saner minds prevail and the cave will remain open, and their deaths can be used as a lesson for others to learn to not go into caves without training, the appropriate gear, and a dive plan.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Friday Range Time

As Murphy's Law mentions, yesterday we went to my favorite outdoor range to get some shooting in.

The weather was cool but with no wind it was downright comfortable.

We had Proud Hillbilly's Son-In-Law D. came with us, as well as did ML's Spud.

D. is waiting on issuance of his CPL permit, and decided to come along to get more practice in.

Here he is rockin' his revolver.

As expected, he shot very well indeed and I'm quite sure he'll be a very competent CPL holder. I figure I can talk him into coming to a USPSA match with me and we should have a great time.

He also generously let the Spud try out his revolver:

I then let the Spud try out the Tavor:

Overall Spud did well and paid attention and only had to do 20 push ups in the snow for minor safety infractions or for failing to pay attention.

The Tavor worked great as expected, and D., ML, and Spud all enjoyed firing it. ML fired it left-handed and there was no issue with brass hitting him even with the Tavor setup for standard right-side ejection.

Murphy's Law came up with his J-Frame and then made the J Frame Challenge - 5 shots to knock down 3 steel poppers from the distance as shown. D., ML, and I all did it successfully, and Spud almost made it.

I did bring another fun item out but since I neglected to take any pictures I'll do a separate post about it later.

We all had a great time.

I did have a weird failure with the M&P 40C - shooting Federal 180gr 40 S&W (purple box), my standard carry magazine worked 100%. However, in both the magazine with the finger extension and a 15 rounder, the slide was visibly dragging and slow to close and almost felt like the slide was stalling while dragging over the round in the magazine before loading it. You could actually see it hesitate for a long moment with the slide back and then move it's way back into battery with a "snick" sound. However, loading the magazine with Winchester white box 165 grain in the exact same magazine resolved the problem and there was no hesitation of any kind and it functioned 100% without a hiccup.

I'm thinking the Federal Purple Box stuff is underpowered, but if anyone has got any ideas as to what may be causing this that would be helpful.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Hello, Anarcho-Tyranny? Meet Racially-Based Selective Federal Enforcement

You've heard by know of the knockout game.

Known variously as knockout, "knockout king", "point 'em out, knock 'em out", "bomb", or charmingly and descriptively as "Polar Bear Hunting", it typically takes the form of Black no-goodnik yutes sucker-punching a White, Jewish or Asian victim, and trying to knock them out with one punch. Serious injuries and death have resulted from these attacks.

So do we get any federal hate crime charges on any of these Black on White/Jewish/Asian assaults? No.

Instead, the first announced Federal hate crime charge in a knockout game episode, after these assaults have been going on for years, was just announced with much fanfare by Eric Holder. This first ever use of hate crime laws to charge knockout game assailants is made is only now with the very first reported rare instance where a White guy assaults a Black guy:

The Washington Times: Feds charge white man with hate crime in first ‘knockout’ prosecution

The Obama administration filed a federal hate-crimes charge Thursday against a man whom authorities accused of using the “knockout game” to target a black man, videotaping it, and then bragging about the assault to strangers.

The charge marks the first time the administration has taken action on a “knockout” case after the game became an Internet and media phenomenon. It chose a case in which the person accused is white, even though most other cases reported in the news have involved black assailants.

Now, there is no doubt that the assailant being charged in this instance should indeed be charged with assault, and probably also should be charged with a hate crime, is an idiot, and is not deserving of any sympathy or leniency whatsoever.

What is rather curious however, is that after overlooking numerous Black on White/Jewish/Asian attacks, the Department of Justice finally takes an interest in the matter when the racial composition is more politically correct.

A politicized, racially-based and selective enforcement of hate crime and other laws does not bode well for American justice.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

This Is Why You Do Not Cave Dive Without Knowing How To Cave Dive.

People who aren't trained in Cave Diving should not try to go diving in a cave.

The main cause of death in cave diving is untrained divers venturing into overhead environments and dying there - typically due to silting out the environment and being unable to see the exit or otherwise getting lost and then running out of breathing gas when they don't even know how to make a survivable gas consumption plan and dive plan.

The Detroit Free Press: Father, teen son drown during 'extremely dangerous' underwater cave dive

Reading the article, we find out they had just got new gear and decided to test it by going into a cave. To add to the predictable disaster, the father was not a certified cave diver and the son was not even a certified diver.

The result is a Christmas Day forever ruined for their fiancee and mother.

A father and son who went diving on Christmas Day with new dive equipment were found dead in an underwater cave at a north Florida wildlife refuge.

The Hernando County Sheriff's Office said Thursday that Holly King called authorities on Christmas after her fiancé, Darrin Spivey, and his son Dillon Sanchez didn't return home after a planned dive.

Sanchez had received new diving equipment for Christmas, and the two men wanted to try it out, King told deputies.

The men had told King that they were going to dive the 300-foot deep Eagle Nest Sink cave in the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area in western Hernando County, about an hour and a half north of downtown Tampa.

A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission sign near the pond entrance to the cave reads: "Cave diving in this area is extremely dangerous — even life threatening!! Do not dive unless you are a certified cave diver!!"

According to the Sheriff's office, Spivey was a certified diver; however, he was not a certified cave diver. Sanchez was not a certified diver, authorities said.

So they ignored the posted warnings, didn't know their equipment, and I guarantee didn't have a guidelines and then headed into one of the more complex cave systems in Florida.

To put it in firearms terms: They went into a gun store, bought a pistol, and then without even knowing how to load it challenged Jerry Miculek to a shoot-out thinking they would beat him. They lost.

Owning dive gear does not make you a diver.

Being a certified open water diver does not make you an overhead environment diver.

Do not go into overhead environments without training in how to handle them, a minimum of three lights, a guideline and a competent dive plan. No cave is worth your death.

Lots Of Toronto Still Without Power

The ice storm while pretty sure knocked the electric service to Toronto's residents for a loop. Even now, some are still out of power and many people I knew lost power days after the ice storm itself had passed as ice-covered trees kept crashing down taking more power lines with them.

While 80% of those knocked out have their power back on, apparently including my sister-in-law and niece's place, and they're now heading homeward, many are still without.

The Star: Ice storm: 54,000 customers in Toronto still without power

It's a pretty massive job, and about the only way it might go any faster is if Toronto's Mayor Rob Fiord starts sharing his crack with the electrical workers.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas To All, And To All A Good Night.

237 Years ago today at the Battle of Trenton, George Washington introduced the world to the American Way of War:

To The Enemies of America - Annoy us enough and we'll silently cross an icy river, to kill you in your sleep, on Christmas.

Merry Christmas.

COSI Day 2 - A Dose Of Knowledge And Culture

In the morning we had breakfast at the hotel, went for a swim and then headed back to COSI.

On Day 2 We did the second floor. Before we went up however we did the energy exhibit.

At the exhibit there is a torture devise where you put your hands on some copper plates whicle someone else cranks a generator so you can feel what electric current feels like.

Tash and Abby lasted less than a second, I did a bit more. Leah on the other hand could have kept her hands on the plates for hours - she didn't feel it at all, which was kinda strange but certainly a neat trick.

Up on the second floor is a very extensive exhibit about the human body and health.

We did tests of strength, hear rate both resting and active and flexibility.

After those we signed up for a lab to make hand sanitizer. After being dressed in a lab coat, safety glasses and gloves, You had a choice of using alcohol, tea tree oil and witch hazel or any combination in a test tube with an aloe base to design your own sanitizer.

Then you got to test your formula using a petri dish that you first touched with your unwashed hands in one section, left a section alone for a control and the third you touched after using your sanitizer.

The lab was run by students from OSU's College of Pharmacology and they did a great job leading the kids through the scientific method. Then the dishes were incubated and you could check online later to see how you did.

Leah did a sanitizer with more alcohol than anything else, and it showed in the results:

Tash deliberately omitted the alcohol:

The lesson: Alcohol kills germs kids, tea tree oil and witch hazel alone aren't going to cut it.

Next we went to the Progress Exhibit with walkable streetscapes and shop interiors from 1898 and 1962.

Next the kids got to explore Space. After landing the lunar lander on the moon and crash-landing the space shuttle a few times they jumped in the Gemini capsule for liftoff and re-entry:

Whoever designed the Gemini simulator had a sense of humor - take a look at some of the labels on the lights and buttons:

For the finale at COSI, the kids headed outside and between the two of them lifted a Honda off the ground into the air:

Give your kids a place to stand, and they will move the car. Then tomorrow, they'll move the world.

After COSI we headed to the Cheesecake Factory. In Columbus there was no waiting at all and we were immediately seated. Compare that to the 2-3 hour wait currently at the Michigan Cheesecake Factory in Novi Michigan. Great food, great service - I had the Hibachi Steak which seriously rocked, and Stupendous Cheesecake! The family shared two slices - a Peppermint Bark and a Smores Cheesecake. Verily they were ambrosia upon the plates. If you've got a Cheesecake Factory near you, it's worth it, except for the long waits at the new Michigan location. Hilariously enough, at the restaurant we ran into some friends from Michigan that happened to have just arrived that day and they were taking their kids to COSI the next day - what were the odds of that?

After that we headed back to the Hotel. In the morning, we had breakfast and hit the road and headed back home. With no driving rain while driving this time, we made it home in great time.

COSI is really worth a visit, and Columbus is quite the nice city to visit.

An Unwanted Christmas Present From Obama

I'm sure the timing was just a coincidence.

Just grabbed the mail today, it was delivered late yesterday and we didn't get around to it until today.

Inside was an invoice from my health insurance company.

The invoice was for some reason higher than we were used to, and reading the invoice we found out there was an extra charge being applied for coverage stating January 1, and why:

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), all health insurance companies are required to collect and pay new taxes and fees to help pay for programs that are mandated under the ACA. These taxes and fees have been added to your invoice and range between 5 to 7 percent of the total premium that you pay. For more information, go to _______ and search keywords: taxes and fees.

So not only are the insurance rates going up in general under Obamacare, but my plan is now, on top of those increases, being taxed 7% to further subsidize those who don't pay for their own health care and cover more of the unsustainable costs of Obamacare, so I'm getting dinged twice for this boondoggle and paying more to get less.

Merry Christmas, right?

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all my Christian friends and readers out there.

We had a wonderful Christmas eve at our traditional-get together with Murphy's Law and his family and this time fortunately also with Proud Hillbilly's family here in Michigan. PH's grand-daughter is really cute and getting bigger and more interactive all the time. Her two-fisted eating style was admired by all.

The kids got to meet the new dog Belle and she was very well behaved (with one misdogmeanor infraction occurring in Murphy's Law's Mom's bedroom...again...), as was Murphy.

Murphy discovered that Leah liked to play tug and he had a ball gently pulling on his toy as she held it. Gentle was a relative term, he was able to pull her right out of her chair on numerous occasions as she held on to the toybut they both enjoyed the game immensely.

A great time was had by all.

Hope you all have a very Merry Christmas out there.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

At COSI Day 1

So we piled in the car and started to drive to Columbus, Ohio.

A nice warm day and just as we crossed the Ohio state line it started to rain, and it kept raining al the way to Columbus. Not a light rain either, but flood advisory type rain.

Rain notwithstanding and while it was still pouring, we arrived at COSI.

As a result, the first set of doors at the front were held open by people running back and forth, and we similalry dashed into the entrance, past the second set of glass door and headed in.

The second set of doors were clear.

Why does this matter? Well it was only at the end of the day as we were leaving, with the front doors closed that I saw this sign, which had previously been invisible as it was only the side of the door and not the front nor back that was visible on entry:

It's a Good Thing, considering I wouldn't have realized that it was improper to do so until I left that day, that I wasn't carrying my M&P 40c concealed in a Vanguard holster completely concealed under a sweater then, now wasn't it?

So we got our tickets and also signed up for an extra Adventure in the Valley of the Unknown for the kids, which is what we did first.

The adventure is an interactive exhibit where kids have to solve puzzles, seek hidden symbols and try to reason their way into the locked observatory to find knowledge.

The maze had numerous tricky puzzles to solve including on that closed sets of doors, trapping you inside until you figured out the right sequence, a laser-beam filled passageway that you ahd to maneuver through to get a hidden symbol and much more. The layered puzzles took quite a bit of time and the kids found it interesting and at times scary.

The staff at the Adventure exhibit were very good at pateintly assiting them find the missing symbols when needed and coaching them on steps to figure puzzles out while leaving it up to them to solve them.

But they persevered and made it into the observatory where they could find the following stele:

They then had to decode the stele. here's a hint, the first line reads: Seek

The second reads: Challenge of the worthy.

Abby really got into decoding the stele, the kid's got a future with the NSA methinks.

She then went on to decode the second stele:

By this point Leah was bored so she and Tash headed to the Curious George exhibit while Abby kept on decoding.

My bet is Borepatch can decode these with one hand tied behind his back without breaking a sweat....

We had lunch in the COSI cafeteria and the food was surprisingly decently priced, and quite tasty. This was a refreshing change from the average museum or science center cafe with subpar food at way over par prices.

Next we did the Ocean exhibit, where they proceeded to get a bit wet while doing the hands-on experiments.

They got soaked the most positioning a ball on a water spout so it would hang suspended on the water and not fall off, and they managed to do it after only a few tries:

They even went into a research submarine:

After that they had frozen yogurt made by a robot.

This answers the question as to what fast food places will do if minimum wage is pushed up to $15/hr - get robots:

Give a robot a properly setup workstation and simple parameters and can easily make a frozen yogurt to order - or flip burgers for that matter.

After the frozen yogurt they declared they were all done, so after about 5 hours at COSI the rain had stopped and we headed to the hotel and went for a swim in the pool. Then we had dinner, went to bed and prepared for COSI day 2. it was a fantastic first day at COSI.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Traditionally, Isn't It The Other Way Around?

Most of the time the flow of refugees is from the US to Canada, right?

Tonight we got to take in refugees that just arrived a few minutes ago from Toronto.

After the ice storm they just experienced, they're all without power and heat at their homes. People are still losing power their as trees keep coming down taking power lines down with them, and there's no good estimate on when it will be back on. So we said sure, drive on over, and here they are.

So it's a packed house with my mother-in-law, sister-in-law and niece along with us here.

Hey, family means they've got to take you in, and vice versa right?

Back Home

Just returned form the wilds of Columbus Ohio, after taking the kids on a two day tour of the COSI - Center of Science and Industry.

The kids had a great time doing lots of hands-on science activities, and the weather there was in the mid-60s and just beautiful and we had a great time.

A more detailed report to follow.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

More Results Of That Smart Diplomacy - The Pivot To Asia Wobbles

Oh, that Obama-declared Pivot to Asia? Well Japan seems to not put much stock by it, and seeing Obama's faithfulness toward the United States' traditional allies elsewhere, is now looking to its own defense.

The Detroit News: Japan boosts its military forces over island dispute

From 2014-2019, Japan plans to buy three drones, as well as 28 F-35A fighters, 17 Osprey aircraft and five destroyers, including two with Aegis anti-ballistic-missile systems. The purchases will cost $247 billion, up 5 percent from the previous plan.

Broader defense program guidelines also adopted Tuesday say Japan is “gravely concerned” about China’s growing maritime and military presence in the East China Sea, and its lack of transparency and “high-handed” approach. Late last month, China said all aircraft entering a vast zone over the East China Seat must identify themselves and follow Chinese instructions.

While Japan’s alliance with the U.S. remains the cornerstone of its defense, Japan also should seek increased security cooperation with South Korea, Australia, Southeast Asia and India, the guidelines say.

“Up until now, Japan focused too much on the Japan-U.S. security alliance,” Isozaki said. “I don’t think that alone is enough to protect the peace in this region.

So we now have a former staunch ally, Japan, looking elsewhere for protection and seeking to be able to project more of its own naval and air power due to the the administration's fumbling foreign policy record.

What could possibly go wrong?

Meanwhile, the Administration managed to fumble the arrest in New York of an Indian Diplomat, kicking off protests in India and sanctions against our diplomats there.

Regardless of whether the arrest based on an alleged visa fraud, for false filing regarding employment of a nanny by the diplomat, was proper or not it sure wasn't handled very well. The administration is behind the publicity and diplomacy curve on this quite badly.

Ah, the glories of Obama's smart diplomacy.

United Kingdom To Go Drastic With Plastic Bank Notes

The United Kingdom will begin issuing polymer banknotes in 2016 to both increase durability over paper and make counterfeiting more difficult.

The Detroit News: UK to issue plastic bank notes in 2016

The first note to be issued, the 5 pound, will feature the portrait of Winston Churchill, certainly a worthy and deserving gentleman to be so featured.

Hopefully the polymer notes won't have the crinkle and melting issues reported with the Canadian polymer bills.

The Bank of England has a nice video up on the new banknotes and decision to move to polymer.

Expect the US Treasury to catch up and start considering moving to polymer soon.

In the meantime, if you're looking for last minute gifts, the Treasury's Bureau of Engraving and Printing still has uncut sheets of US bills for sale. The sheets make rather unique gifts and collectibles, and in case of fiscal emergency can be cut and spent just like a regular banknote.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Uighur, Please.

Muslim terrorists aren't just attacking the West. They're playing in China as well, but their tactics seem a little off, and they're facing an opponent with far fewer qualms and gentlemanly rules than in the West.

In this instance they brought knives (ok, and some explosives) to a gunfight:

The Detroit Free Press: 16 die in attack on police officers in west China

It seems like their tactics really weren't well thought out on this one.

The region's official news portal Tianshan Net reported Monday that knife-wielding assailants hurled explosive devices at police in Shufu county of Kashgar prefecture.

Tianshan Net says two police officers died in the attack while 14 attackers were shot and killed. Another two assailants were arrested.

Xinjiang has long been home to a simmering rebellion against Chinese rule among parts of the Muslim Uighur population.

So the score is Police 14, Uighur terrorists 2, a rather spectacular failure on the Uighurs' part, assuming you beleive the report.

Silly Uighurs, knives work well against unarmed opponents, but against numerous trained and armed enemies, not so much.

Note the Free Press photo of the Chinese Paramilitary police with those nifty-looking QBZ-95 bullpups.

Some Blogroll Additions

Time to update Ye Olde Blogroll with some excellent blogs I've been reading, a couple of which have also kindly added me to their blogroll so it's certainly more than time that I added them to mine.

Chant Du Depart an American blog with a French name and lots of military goodness and smart commentary.

Sticks and Stones. Jay has a Tavor, with a cup holder. It doth not get better than that.

The Adventures of Roberta X. I've been reading Tam's blog for years and clicking over to Roberta's on many occasion, might as well make it a proper fixture worthy of its content with its own direct spot on the blogroll.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Snow and Winter Boot Blogging

With yet a few more inches of global warming falling upon the Driveway of Doom™ and the snow falling continuously all day today up until now, it was time to break out the Bates boots and give them a go.

This was especially so as the plow company had failed to fully mark the driveway and left the upper 15 feet unploughed. Apparently, they had not marked the driveway fully and couldn't figure out where the top was even though I had already shoveled a strip along the garage the night before and they could have used that as a marker to line up with their existing flags, but no.

Note the cleared strip at the top by me, the lower area pushed by them, and the sad unploughed middle looking all snow-covered and forlorn.

Here's a nice view of the driveway from the upper side to help you appreciate the angle of ascent and descent.

So it was time to break out the new boots and clear the driveway.

I had mentioned the boots before when Amazon had them on a pre-Black Friday sale, and I've worn them around the house to break them in a bit and get used to them.

The boots have a nice appearance, with leather and nylon intermixed. While you wouldn't wear them to the office, they'll do nicely for walks, hikes and snow-shoveling duty.

The side-zip is rather generous and makes removing the boots easy even while still tied. The side-zip feature assists in getting them on, but I've found my feet won't fit in while the laces are still tied shut, so I have to unlace, sit down, get the foot in and then zip and tie up. The boots are not as fast to put on as I had hoped, but they are reasonably quick to take off, again as long as you're seated or standing leaning on something for support.

The Thinsulate insulation is excellent - so far it has kept my feet warm while walking, snow-shoveling and even prolonged sledding with no problems.

The boot offers excellent ankle support which helps when the dog decides to run over snow-covered hill and dale and you can't see the rocks you know are there. They're very comfortable and feel darn good and they're tall enough to keep the snow out.

The tread on the boots is almost magic, with a sure grip even climbing up the Driveway of Doom™. No problems with slipping and between the ankle support and the aggressive tread its been a definite upgrade from the worn-out slip-o-matic boots I wore last year

Out with the kids today sledding there was no problem walking up or down any of the hills or through the mounds of snow on the unploughed streets and sidewalks. Hours outside and the feet stayed warm, toasty, and dry,

Fit seems dead on and no rubbing points or blisters have occurred. The boots aren't heavy and are a joy to walk in, and best of all, they really are waterproof even when covered in snow. While they're not going to win any fashion awards, the Bates GX-8 GTX Boots are very utilitarian and just what I need for what promises to be a long and snowy winter. Recommended.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Why Will The Chinese Navy Of The Future Have Glass Bottoms?

To see the current Chinese Navy if they keep this up: Foxnews: Chinese naval vessel tries to force U.S. warship to stop in international waters

A Chinese naval vessel tried to force a U.S. guided missile warship to stop in international waters recently, causing a tense military standoff in the latest case of Chinese maritime harassment, according to defense officials.

The guided missile cruiser USS Cowpens, which recently took part in disaster relief operations in the Philippines, was confronted by Chinese warships in the South China Sea near Beijing’s new aircraft carrier Liaoning, according to officials familiar with the incident.

“On December 5th, while lawfully operating in international waters in the South China Sea, USS Cowpens and a PLA Navy vessel had an encounter that required maneuvering to avoid a collision,” a Navy official said.

Good to see our current appeasement policy regarding Chinese expansionism and saber-rattling is getting great results and enhancing deterrence of international incidents.

About That Whole Global Warming Thing....

We have massive snowstorms in Jerusalem and Cairo, with snow in Cairo being the first in 112 years, hardly the first indication that the world's climate system is heating up.

There has been no actual measured increase in the Earth's temperature in 15 years.

Here, we're in the middle of a snowstorm that has been dropping global warming non-stop, rendering the driveway of Doom™ pretty much impassable.

So in the face of evidence that it appears the Earth is cooling, possibly due to reduced solar activity, rather than warming, what do the warmists do?

Claim that the cold temperatures and snow are proof of global warming, of course.

Keep on ignoring the snow-encrusted elephant in the room warmists, you're doing just fine.

Vacuous, Vapid, Verbose, And Claiming To Be Your Betters

Tam points out an illustration of the extreme oddity of the modern sub-species homo progressivus:

Why We Fight

What she's found is some quite well-off people, credentialed but not learned, with a rather stunning lack of self-awareness. This lack is combined with an overdose of pontificating smug resulting in them spouting nonsense and nodding wisely to each other all the while about how profound they find their nonsense.

To top it all off, note that Gerry Canavan's, is an assistant prof at Marquette University, and he has a blog which proclaims himself to be "the smartest kid on earth". Yes, dwell on that oxymoron for awhile.

Ned Resnikoff is a reporter with yep, you guessed it, MSNBC.

The others in the conversation contribute as a part of the rogues' gallery of those who are part of the well-credentialed progressive elites who have learned nothing and forgotten nothing.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Money Can Buy You Tricks, And Some Junk Science To Keep You Out Of The Clink

So in Texas, if you've got lots of money, you can drive drastically drunk, kill 4 people and then get...10 years probation.

The Detroit Free Press: Texas teen's defense in fatal drunken-driving crash: Affluenza

A judge’s decision to give 16-year-old Ethan Couch 10 years of probation for the fatal accident sparked outrage from relatives of those killed and has led to questions about the defense strategy. A psychologist testified in Couch’s trial in a Fort Worth juvenile court that as a result of “affluenza,” the boy should not receive the maximum 20-year prison sentence prosecutors were seeking.

And here I was thinking Wayne County, where a conviction of committing assault with intent to commit murder gets you probation was the definition of messed up.

Texas uses the Daubert standard for expert testimony. It's quite hard to see how a diagnosis of "Affluenza" (in reality the the name of a movie about how spoiling kids rotten leads to bad consequences), which is not a recognized psychological nor psychiatric diagnosis by any means, could pass the Daubert test to be admissible as evidence. Methinks the family's case of "affluenza" bought them the best junk science and "justice" money could buy.

Let's note what 16-year-old Ethan Couch did that night:

Authorities said the teen and friends were seen on surveillance video stealing two cases of beer from a store. He had seven passengers in his Ford F-350, was speeding and had a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit, according to trial testimony. His truck slammed into the four pedestrians, killing Brian Jennings, 43, Breanna Mitchell, 24, Shelby Boyles, 21, and her mother, Hollie Boyles, 52.

Texas justice failed, and failed very, very badly this case.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Meanwhile In Detroit - Got Change For The Bus?

How Bad is it in Detroit?

It's so bad, it costs them $1 million to count $14 million in fares a year - and they count the fares by hand, in a room with money cast about willy-nilly.

The Detroit News: Detroit to hire help to get disorganized bus fare counting on track

The city is hiring an armored car company to handle the daily collection of bus-fare revenue after officials discovered a disorganized cash-counting operation within the Department of Transportation, The Detroit News has learned.

. . .

The plan is to scrap the current cash system that involves employees counting bus-fare revenue each day at the DDOT central office on Warren Avenue.

“There literally is a room where employees sit around a table and just count money. It wasn’t well organized,” said Gary Brown, the city’s chief restructuring officer. “There was money on the floor, and in bags, and the money’s been there a couple weeks.”

Read that last paragraph again. A city with a longstanding history of corruption and incompetence that's been on the verge of bankruptcy and now finally is in bankruptcy has, as a matter of ongoing practice, having cash money just lying around for weeks in a disorganized mess.

Anyone want to take a bet that some of that money has been sticking to various fingers and going elsewhere then back into the transportation department's coffers?

Tell me again how its such a great idea to get into a regional transportation agreement with an agency like that?

Crazy Currency Coincidence

One of my Facebook friends posted a rather interesting picture.

With the revamping and redesigning of the currency lately, now all of our bills have color schemes that match those of Monopoly money. Yes, really.

The new 100 bill has very visible yellow areas to it at the watermarks, matching the monopoly bill even more so than the older bill pictured.

Just a coincidence? Or is this an inside-the-Treasury joke on the declining value of the dollar?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

So, How Bad Is It In Detroit? So Bad That Serious Crime Covers All

When you try to answer the question "So, How Bad Is It In Detroit?" Your answer may just be underestimating how bad it really is there.

Looking at the interactive map provided by the Detroit News of the reported murders and shootings that have taken place in Detroit since May 2012 is rather sobering. The dots indicating a murder or shooting cover, well, just about the entire city.

Even zooming in makes the city look like it has a case of multicolored measles, with no vaccine in sight.

But some bright news is set for the future.

After decades of neglect under one -party rule and being quite unable to account where millions of dollars for repairs have disappeared rather being actually used for restoring the street lights - they may just get the city's streetlights back up and running by 2016!

Monday, December 09, 2013

Obamacare Will Bend The Health Care Cost Curve - By Raising Costs, And Taxes Too

Remember the heady days when it was promised that Obamacare would be just awesome; that if you liked your insurance you could keep your insurance; that there would be no tax increases; that it would have a super-efficient and easy to use website; that it would bend healthcare costs downward; and that the entire thing would be funded on Unicorn farts and skittles?

Well, it seems that costs are instead going up, due to taxes and costs imposed by, you guessed it, Obamacare.

The Detroit News: Workers' health care fees may rise under Obamacare

Health care costs are expected to rise in 2014 for many workers, including those at one Royal Oak company, because of new, obscure federal fees and taxes imposed on insurers and employers.

Across the nation, the fees and taxes imposed next year through the Affordable Care Act will generate about $20 billion, based on Joint Committee on Taxation estimates, and could affect nearly 60 percent of Americans who receive insurance through their workplace.

It’s uncertain how many employees could pay the higher fees and taxes because employers are deciding whether to absorb the cost or pass along all or part of it.

Sadly, while the Democrats and credulous fools (but I repeat myself) voted for Obama and his lie-powered healthcare plan (twice), the rest of us get to suffer under the government and healthcare plan they deserve.

Trotter & Co Find Another One: Wreck Of The Keystone State Discovered

A Civil War-era shipwreck has just been discovered in lake Huron by prolific shipwreck finder David Trotter and his crew.

The Detroit Free Press: Great Lakes shipwreck hunter finds Keystone State, lost in Lake Huron for 152 years

The wreck, a steamer on route from Detroit to Milwaukee in the early months of the Civil War, sank in November 1861.

Now lying upright on the bottom in 175 feet of water, both sidewheels are intact and visible on the 300 foot-long ship. From the pictures and video it looks to be in great shape.

Yet another great discovery of a long-lost shipwreck in Michigan waters.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Sunday Instructional: An Excellent CPL Class

Today I conducted an NRA certified class that is required for the Michigan Concealed Pistol License class for four students.

Interestingly enough, two of the participants are related to bloggers I know, and the two others were acquaintances I knew from elsewhere so it was a very comfortable environment and everyone got on quite well.

There was great discussion, they absorbed the material most attentively and carefully listening to all of it and especially to the Michigan legal section, and everyone enjoyed the class.

At 8.5 hours, it was a bit longer than the required 8 hours and we worked straight through lunch to make sure all the material was covered and everyone fully understood the material.

At the range, they did quite well, except for one getting lost along the way to the range (how you miss it when the route was left form the parking lot, right turn at the first street, a left when that street runs out followed by a right into the parking lot of the range is beyond me....) but the participant manged to find it eventually.

I was able to make some pointers to a couple of them that visibly improved their shooting, which is a nice feeling. One of the attendants, the son-in-law of one of the bloggers I know, needed no pointers whatsoever. He blasted his way most competently through the shooting portion with safety, speed, and accuracy, so both he and the blogger should be proud.

It was a darn good class and I had a very enjoyable time teaching it.

Now I'm home doing the final paperwork for it, and that's a day.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Ban Guns in Detroit Venues? Police Baffled That The Guns Are Then Stolen From Cars.

Having a Conceled Pistol License in Michigan makes you quite aware that there are places where you cannot legally bring in your firearm such as a bar or sports stadium.

If you do, you face escalating criminal penalties, all the way up to a felony with more jail time than if, for example, instead of merely carrying your firearm into a prohibited place, you had gone ahead and committed assault less than murder.

So, what's a law abiding toter to do? Why, you leave your gun locked in your car.

The Predictable Result, courtesy of The Detroit News: Downtown Detroit gun thefts draw notice

New light was shed on an old problem at a recent meeting of police officials: Guns are being stolen from vehicles downtown, in part because nightclubs and the NFL ban firearms.

Thank goodness Detroit's own Inspector Clouseau is finally aware of the problem:

Police Chief James Craig said the thefts were news to him. “I’m just now hearing about this,” he said.

Such information sharing is central to the COMPSTAT (computer statistics) policing model. A new “dashboard system” database set up by Wayne State University’s Center for Urban Studies allows every member of the police force to review reports of all crimes investigated in the city, including firearm information and the backgrounds of victims and suspects.

First Precinct Capt. Steve Dolunt added that guns are being stolen from Lions fans who leave them in their vehicles because of the NFL’s firearms prohibition. Because of a new rule barring off-duty police officers from carrying weapons into football stadiums, Dolunt said a Detroit police officer’s gun was stolen from his car earlier this season.

Yeah, those gun free zones are just loads of safety for all, now aren't they?

So of course, the good inspector, who was nearly car jacked himself remember, has the following brilliant advice:

“Let’s find a solution to this,” Craig said. “We need to educate people not to leave their guns in their cars.”

How about an actual solution Chief, of fixing the law so law-abiding citizens are no longer legally required to leave their guns in their cars when they go to various venues. Then gun thefts from cars will be significantly reduced as the guns won't be in the cars and we'll all be safer as a result, ok?

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

First World Problems: Anti-Military Wussies All Upset Fighter Jets Are Depicted Escorting Santa

Instead of being happy that NORAD is vigilantly watching and can intercept incursions into our airspace, some "child advocates" can't handle that NORAD's site contains the image of an F-18 escorting Santa's sleigh.

Pentagon's Santa tracking experience adds armed jet escorts, riles up child advocates

Capitalizing on the popularity of its virtual “Track Santa Claus” event, which allows users to track the fictitious travel path of his sleigh, the US military has ignited some controversy through the addition of armed jet fighters.

Some 22 million people last year were reached by the holiday event put on by NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, which allowed children and families observing Christmas to either navigate to a special website or call via telephone to receive “real-time” updates of Santa Claus as he traveled across the globe delivering gifts.

The picture at the article depicts a Canadian CF-18 escorting the sleigh.

Oh noes, wail the hoplophobes! Think of the children being harmed by viewing such images, not to mention their shock at the sudden realization that our peaceful neighbor to the north actually has an air force:

According to Allen Kanner, cofounder of the Boston-based Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood and a child and family psychologist, “children associate Santa with gifts and fun and everything else that is positive about Christmas.”

“They are associating this with the military in children’s minds. It is completely out of line.”

Geez, NORAD, after all is a military organization that exists to track and defend North America's airspace, and some people think children can't handle the image of a military jet on the Santa watch site?

C'mon now, it's not like they shoot him down with a Stinger for violating the Washington DC ADIZ and show pictures of chunks of charred reindeer falling out of the sky for realism or anything like that.

Amy Hagopian, professor of public health at the University of Washington, also likens NORAD’s efforts to an ad campaign.

“I think people are quite aware of the military’s true mission,” said Hagopian, who has delved into the topic of youth military recruitment.

“If the military wants to keep its ranks stocked, it needs to appeal to children. The military knows it can’t appeal to adults to volunteer. It is like the ad industry,” Hagopian told the Globe.

Yeah, like the US and Canadian air forces are facing recruitment shortages - oh wait, they're not.

Some people just have to be killjoys for the season, not to mention gratuitously prejudiced against the military, and view kids as the perfect vehicle for their progressive tirades.

If kids can handle the scary concept of a bearded stranger coming down their chimneys, entering their houses and creeping around, they can probably handle the concept that the stranger is being carefully watched by our military as he travels around the country to be sure he doesn't do anything untoward on his flight plan.

Hopefully It's Just A Dishonest Mistake

Fox News: Truck carrying radioactive material stolen in Mexico

A cargo truck hauling extremely dangerous radioactive material from used medical equipment was stolen from a gas station in central Mexico, and authorities sent out an alert in six central states and the capital to find it, Mexican officials said Wednesday.

The truck was carrying a metal container of cobalt-60 headed to a nuclear waste facility in the state of Mexico, said Juan Eibenschutz, director general of the National Commission of Nuclear Safety and Safeguards. Though the container is heavily sealed in lead, designed to be difficult to break and to survive accidents intact, he said it contains an amount of radioactive material that could do serious damage if opened.

One would think they would provide more security on such a shipment than a sleepy driver, but that's all they had protecting the cargo.

Apparently, it is the largest amount of cobalt-60 stolen in Mexico in quite some time. Radioactive material has been stolen before by thieves in Mexico who mistakenly thought it was valuable rather than for nefarious purposes.

Hopefully this is no different, and not a part of a terrorist's dirty bomb plot. If not, this could get ugly, especially as our southern border is rather porous to say the least.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

OC In School In The WB? Not The Best Idea.

Deciding to make a point in one of the most Democrat controlled areas may not be the brightest of ideas, especially if it leads to more restrictions on firearms.

The Detroit News: West Bloomfield board asks for ban on openly carried firearms in schools

The West Bloomfield Board of Education is asking state lawmakers to add public schools to the list of places where people can’t openly carry firearms.

At a regular meeting earlier this week, the board adopted a resolution urging the Legislature to prohibit visitors from carrying firearms openly in schools, which is legal in Michigan with a concealed weapons permit.

The resolution came after a parent who was openly carrying a firearm attended an event earlier this month at Scotch Elementary, district spokeswoman Pamela Zajac said.

The parent contacted West Bloomfield Police Chief Michael Patton, the superintendent and the principal of the school to alert them of his intent to carry at the event, Zajac said. There was no incident during the parent’s visit, she said, which was believed to be on Nov. 8.

Yes, the open carrier did everything perfectly legally and went above and beyond the aw in politely notifying police he was going to open carry at the meeting. You can open carry in a school zone in Michigan so long as you have a Concealed Pistol License

Unfortunately he's scaring the (Democratic) horses, which may lead to restictions on our rights.

“He is law-abiding,” Zajac said. “It was disturbing. Seeing a weapon on our elementary school grounds is upsetting to some parents.”

Patton said police were notified of the incident, which the gun-toting parent recorded with cellphone video and posted on You Tube, but no report was filed because there was no wrongdoing. He would not identify the parent. The video was later removed, he said.

“He had a handgun in a holster on his hip,” Patton said. “It was holstered the entire time, and he wasn’t handling it at any point.

It should also be noted that concealed carry on school grounds is not allowed. It would have been allowed had our Governed not vetoed the CPL reform bill that would have permitted that and thus avoided scaring the sheeple.

I can empathize with the idea that he's legally exercising his constitutional rights and that some people want to take the "in your face" approach to pushing our firearms rights.

However, I think that tactically choosing one of the most sheep-rich Democrat areas in Michigan to flaunt open carry in a school zone was a bad idea and probably isn't going to win much support for the cause and likely is going to backfire.

Detroit Officially Goes Bankrupt

Detroit News: Detroit eligible for bankruptcy
A federal judge has ruled Detroit is eligible to file for the nation’s largest Chapter 9 bankruptcy to help dig out from under $18 billion in debt and that city pension payments can be cut to help make that happen.
Not only that, but the pension plans are also ruled to be fair game, as they

As Instapundit often says, something that won't go on forever, won't. 

Under-funded pension plan obligations that depend on other people's money will stop once they've run out of other people's money.  Detroit has now officially run out of other people's money.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Surviving On The Scraps Of The Past

An interesting article in the Detroit Free Press about individuals in Detroit's Delray district legally prospecting in an old scrapyard for scrap metal to sell.

The Detroit Free Press: John Carlisle: Delray's diggers find scrap metal, pride and fellowship
It was morning in Delray in southwest Detroit, on a littered abandoned corner lot not far from the river. A half-dozen young men stood in holes they’d dug in the ground, chopping at the soil, yanking out anything remotely metallic that a scrapyard might give them a few dollars for — from thick steel beams and small copper fittings down to jagged shards of slag.
This was a scrapyard half a century ago, and over the years, tons of steel and copper and aluminum wound up buried in the lot. Since it closed, the neighborhood’s residents have been mining here, with the blessing of the lot’s current owner, since he’d have to pay to remove all that debris anyway if anything is ever done with the property.
Some of the workers there are making some decent money prospecting, and they're certainly doing both hard and legal work. 

It's a sad commentary on Detroit's current state that these hard workers' most economically viable course of action in the city is to dig in the dirt to find and sell the detritus that was manufactured and buried here long ago.