The boldest

I was almost asleep a few minutes ago and the phone rang.  Xenia was calling.  It must be one of three dire emergencies I thought.  Those were, not necessarily in the matter of importance to her: 1) Someone is hurt or is very sick or dead; 2) Her Internet connection is down; 3) Her website is down.

I was wrong.  She wanted to know if I had read her Live Journal recently.  “How recently?”  I had read the posting from yesterday sometime.  Nope that wasn’t it.  She wanted to know if I had read it in the last 10 minutes.  “No, why?”  I couldn’t imagine what was so important.  She told me she posted the email she got from her English teacher on her anthology that I quoted from the other day.

I was wide awake now.  Did I need to immediately drive home and be ready to dance on the English teachers desk with muddy boots when he showed up tomorrow morning?  I couldn’t quite tell from Xenia’s tone of voice.  It could be she was very happy with what he said and it could be she was smug with the knowledge that someone was going to get what they deserved for trashing the hard work of Daddy’s little girl.

The important part is as follows (emphasis in the original email):

Xenia:

This just may be the most beautiful anthology I’ve ever read.

It is the boldest.

That’s my girl he’s talking about!

Update: This is the teachers blog posting on the topic.

Sensitive issues

Maybe the TV news people left something out that would make things a little more clear but the way it’s spelled out now Mayor Kiss doesn’t make a lick of sense:

“From the perspective of being mayor,” he said, “I haven’t looked at public safety in terms of whether there are initiatives we would like to take. At least an element of that is that we’ve had two recent shootings in which handguns were involved.”

Kiss said it was possible that Burlington might seek a charter change related to guns or a member of the Legislature from the city might propose a bill.

Despite the likelihood of opposition, Kiss said it was timely to talk about handguns, given the recent shootings. “We could see where that went, without prejudging the process,” Kiss said. I don’t want to be afraid of bringing up issues that are sensitive.”

He doesn’t want to be afraid of bring up issues that are sensitive?  Okay then Mister Mayor, why don’t you bring up reinstating slavery?  Never mind that should he start pushing for such a thing I would probably be among those looking for a clear shot to put a .30 caliber hole in his cranial vault.  That is if he wasn’t almost immediately impeached and unable to get any job with a higher status than shoveling pig manure.  It would make about as much sense.  Vermont has one of the lowest crime rates in the country and among the most relaxed gun laws.  Why would he want to change what is working well?

I have Just One Question for you Mayor Kiss.

Indefensible

The felons at PNNL didn’t allow me to see the evidence against me, confront my accusers, or present a defense of any sort but I didn’t know such things existed in criminal courts of law of modern countries.  So this, from Ireland, really surprised me:

His lawyers had sought to have his conviction quashed after the Supreme Court last week overturned a 1935 law that made it an indefensible crime for any man to have sex with a girl under the age of 15.

I can see the point but one should always be allowed to defend themselves.  They could have been framed for example.  Their DNA could have been planted by someone else, the pictures could have been edited, whatever evidence is used should be subject to question.

Something like this even happens in the U.S. under certain circumstances.  The freedoms we take for granted are not as secure as you might think.

Quote of the day–The Potowmack Institute

The “armed populace at large” becomes the libertarian fantasy of some people, arrested in political adolescence, who have an extreme difficulty accommodating to public authority and giving the “consent of the governed”. The fantasy is that this is a viable concept. The right to be armed outside of the law is a right and a fantasy that has to be maintained by defeating legislation. It succeeds because everyone else fails.

The Potowmack Institute
As revised on November 11, 2005
[They completely neglect to consider the concept of inalienable rights such as freedom of speech and other rights guaranteed by our Bill of Rights so it's no wonder they arrive at the wrong conclusion in regards to firearms.  Thanks to Lyle for pointing these guys out.--Joe]

Weekend in Orofino–day three

We walked from our motel to the Ponderosa and had breakfast.  Then walked up the street to the church where we got married:

From our motel room balcony we watch the VFW do a 21-gun salute on the bridege for Memorial Day.  Then we drove to my parents place and said hi before driving back to Moscow.

It has been a wonderful weekend.

Weekend in Orofino–day two

We got up a little earlier on Sunday and drove up the Lochsa river:

We stopped to watch the rafters going through the white water:

Even though it was raining we hiked up the trail to Jerry Johnson Hotsprings:

We expected that because of the rain we would be the only ones there.  There were six people in the first pool and eight in the second.  We sat in the first pool for several hours and talked and talked to a couple from Montanna that come to the springs several times a year.  People came and went but mostly came and about 17:30 there must have been 15 people in the pool and standing around.  The other couple, Marty and Cheryl, invited us back to their camper for dinner.  We hiked back down the trail with them:

We ate with them and talked and talked and finally about 22:00 we left on our two hour drive back to Orofino and our motel room.

Quote of the day–John A. Logan

The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

John A. Logan
Commander-in-Chief
N.P. CHIPMAN
Adjutant General General Orders No.11
WASHINGTON, D.C.
May 5, 1868

Weekend in Orofino–day one

We drove down to Orofino last night (after my five hour drive from the Seattle area) and checked into the Lodge at River’s Edge.  It is, literally, on the rivers edge.  This is the view from our balcony:

I looked around at the other balconies, but mine was the only one with a beautiful woman on it.

I didn’t look in the other rooms but my bed had a woman it in.  Although I doubt most rooms were furnished as well as this one I was pleased with my good fortune:

It rained today which meant that going for the walk didn’t quite work out as we had planned.  We ended up telling housekeeping to go away and not come back and we didn’t leave the motel until almost 1:00 PM.

We drove to the Dent campground to eat our picnic lunch.  But the rain hadn’t stopped and the wind was picking up.  We ate in the Jeep as the rain came down:

On the way back we stopped at Canyon Creek Campground and walked out to the water’s edge.  We saw a trail to go hiking on but it was too wet and we left after taking a few pictures:

 

We drove back to our motel and then had dinner at the nearby restaurant.  Excellent food, the waitress was the daughter of one of our high school classmates (Danny Reed), and we had a wonderful view from our table:

After dinner we went to Lisa’s graduation.

Update: I forgot to add the following picture and explanation.  We stopped at the pullout and took some pictures in the road where we first kissed each other–over 30 years ago:

 

Lisa graduates from Orofino High School

Our niece, Lisa Huffman, graduated tonight from the same school Barb and I graduated from 33 years ago.  And 30 years ago, to the day, her parents graduated from the same school.  Lisa, being validictorian, gave a very nice speech and mentioned her parents graduating 30 years ago.  She said quite a bit about her parents and I saw her mother wiping tears from her eyes.

Here are a couple pictures taken with my crappy camera phone:


Mom, Lisa’s grandmother, is looking at the camera with her dad and mom (red and white) just to the right.


Lisa in the center of the picture.

Quote of the day–Noah Webster

Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretence, raised in the United States. A military force, at the command of Congress, can execute no laws, but such as the people perceive to be just and constitutional; for they will possess the power.

Noah Webster
An Examination of The Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution
Philadelphia, 1787

The bigot at Seattle University

In one of the most fact free editorials I have seen in a long time the bigot known as William Crane said this at the Spectator, the school newspaper for Seattle University:

Those who are ineligible to buy firearms at a local store will simply go to a gun show and purchase a firearm there.

Concealed weapon permits are also available to any eligible gun owner with no further background check or training needed.

Overall, firearms killed 11,829 people in the United States in 2002, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. This number far outweighs any potential benefit firearm possession has in Washington State or the United States.

The corroboration between firearm regulations and a reduction in firearm violence is clear.

I was not particularily gentle in my online response. It has to go through a moderator and hasn’t shown up yet on their site. I repeat it here in case the moderator decides my opinion is not worthy of being published:

Please have Mr. Crane do some research before expressing his bigoted opinions.

There is no gun show loophole. The laws are the same at a gun show as they are at any gun shop. And even if there were such a loophole according to several government studies only a very small portion of guns used in crime are purchased at gun shows. And most Washington state gun shows already voluntarily require a background check before attendees can purchase a firearm.

Concealed Pistol License do require a background check.

Firearms are used to defend innocent life from grave injury and/or death between two and three million times each year in the U.S. This far outweighs the number of murders committed with firearms. Guns in the hands of private citizens save more innocent lives from harm than are injured by guns in the hands of criminals.

Crane states:

The corroboration between firearm regulations and a reduction in firearm violence is clear.

I presume he means correlation, not corroboration, but regardless Crane is wrong. Please see the CDC report on this very topic for more details.

As for the other misleading, bigoted, and inaccurate statements made by Mr. Crane, I have Just One Question for Crane:

Can you demonstrate just one time, one place, throughout all of human history, where restricting the access of handheld weapons to the average person made them safer?

Living in a make believe world

“Smart guns” are not only a dumb idea but may be impossible with todays biometric technology.  Biometrics is something I studied and successfully researched for a different application.  I’m not a stranger to biometric technology.  New Jersey thinks they can find a solution for their “smart guns” but I think they are living in a make believe world.  Here’s what they have to say about their smart gun research:

The prototype, developed at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark, has pressure sensors embedded in the gun handle that recognize a person’s unique grip.

The team says a commercial model is up to five years away, but if it works, it will trigger a singular – and controversial – state law. Within three years, all handguns sold in New Jersey would have to be personalized, with this or some other recognition technology.

Michael Recce, who dreamed up the grip-recognition concept in 1999, said the only obstacles are time and money. “It’s an engineering problem, not a scientific problem,” he said.

Inside the grip, 16 ceramic discs generate a charge when pressed. They are called piezoelectric sensors, from the Greek piezo, for “pressure.” Barbecue lighters use a similar feature.

Once the shooter squeezes the trigger, the grip sensors spring into action, recording the pressure for one-tenth of a second. In that moment, the pressure applied by each finger varies enough that engineers can distinguish between shooters with a high degree of reliability. A grip’s signature does not vary significantly from firing to firing, even in stressful situations, researchers have found.

A year and a half ago, a prototype recognized authorized users nine out of 10 times. Now, the rate lies between 95 and 99 percent, said Michael Cody, a computer science engineer on the team.

The goal: at least 99.95 percent – or good enough that the recognition process fails less often than a regular gun would jam or fail. A higher success rate will require better placement of the 16 sensors; currently, four or five do most of the work.

Recognition of the authorized users isn’t enough.  It must also reject unauthorized users.  It could be they are quoting the cross-over point where both the successful rejects and the successful accepts are the same.  It’s common to distill the performance down to a single number when in fact you will seldom run your biometric device at that point on the operating curve. 

Typically you will allow a much higher rate of failure for correct rejections that you will allow failure to accept correctly.  For example you might be perfectly happy the gun rejects 90% of the unauthorized users as long as it accepts correct users greater than 99.9% of the time.  I don’t know if it is the failure of the reporter to understand the subtleties of biometrics or if it is the failure of the engineers to understand the problem.  For the time being I’ll give the benefit of doubt to the engineers on that point.

What I seriously doubt is that Reece and his team have done is evaluate real stress and adverse shooting conditions.  What is the grip like when your hands are numb and swollen from the cold?  Or slippery with blood?  Or with gloves on?  Or after you have been stabbed and/or shot by your attacker(s)?  Add in shooting strong hand only, weak hand only, and with both hands and you have a very large set of variables that you can’t program into baseline template for the authorized user without allowing a very high percentage of random people to be able to shoot the gun as well.

I believe, short of nearly instant DNA analysis, biometrics cannot solve this problem.  And even if we had DNA sensors that could respond in milliseconds it wouldn’t solve the glove and other problems.  The “magic decoder ring” type of solution is the only thing I see as viable.

Recce estimated that his revolving team of graduate students and postdocs could develop a market-ready product in five years, and that a private company could do so in three.

Estimated cost: an additional $5 million. To date, the school has received $4.4 million in state and federal funds, said Donald H. Sebastian, a university senior vice president who oversees the research.

A 2005 study by a committee of the National Academy of Engineering was less optimistic, predicting that any of the various smart guns would need five to 10 years and $30 million.

The committee recognizes the problem is much, much bigger than Reece realizes or cares to admit. 

Keep spending NJ money.  That’s fine with me.  That’s less money they have to spend on enforcing their stupid and tyrannical gun laws.

No interest in the facts

He didn’t answer Just One Question when I ask the other day.  He didn’t even look at it (I checked my logs).  He knows what he wants to believe and that’s all that is important.  And he calls Chris Cox evil?  What can be more evil than insisting we ignore the facts and do things his way?  The way that has enabled the murder of at least 60 million people by their own governments in the 20th century?  His name is Michael Daly and he says:

Staring down barrel of NRA’s evil lobbyist

The devil does not wear Prada.

The Devil wears an off-the-rack suit and tie and speaks with a honeyed Southern accent.

That much remained clear yesterday as you gazed at the congealed blood on W. 22nd St., where four more New Yorkers had been shot with an illegal gun. The figure who immediately leapt to mind was the guy in the suit you had seen over the weekend at the National Rifle Association’s annual gathering in Milwaukee.

His name is Chris Cox, and he is the NRA’s chief lobbyist. He leads the charge to block Bloomberg’s effort in Washington to get the federal legislation that is the only way to stem the flow of illegal guns into New York.

Considering the 2nd Amendment says the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed and the 14th amendment says the Bill of Rights apply to the states and cities as well as the Feds, just what is an illegal gun?  Michael Daly has mental problems.

Quote of the day–Jeff Cooper

We pray that it will not come to shooting in South Africa, but if it does – God forbid – consider who is likely to win between a group armed primarily with AK47s and no skill in their use and another group armed with sporting rifles and considerable skill in their use. Numbers would not matter particularly in such a confrontation. Formal armies can defeat other formal armies, and they can put down mobs of agitators, as in China. They cannot defeat a population completely armed with simple old-fashioned rifles. What the disarmers never recognize is that episodes like Tiananmen Square can never occur if every citizen maintains his own rifle in his house, as in Switzerland.
   
Jeff Cooper
Jeff Cooper’s Commentaries
Vol. 1, No. 10
15 November 1993

Knife amnesty

They have done all they could (and failed) with guns and crimes committed with guns and now they are working on knives.  A “knife amnesty” program is now underway in the UK.  Can you believe it?

A NATIONWIDE knife amnesty aimed at reducing knife crime comes into force today.

For the next five weeks people will be able to hand in offensive weapons such as flick knives, butterfly knives and swords without fear of reprisal.

Secure bins will be left in police stations and other public places such as supermarkets, schools and youth clubs, to encourage people to hand in their weapons.

It is hoped the amnesty, which ends on June 30, will lead to fewer people carrying knives.

 

Kent Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Dave Ainsworth said: “We obviously want to reduce the number of knives and lethal weapons on our streets that are designed to kill or maim, such as combat knives, flick knives and swords.

“Knives can damage and destroy lives, leaving families and communities devastated.”

Wrong.  People with knives damage and destroy lives.  And they don’t need knives to do it.  These people have severe mental problems.

 

“In a survey, 46 per cent of youngsters in Newcastle said they carried around a knife with them. That’s a horrifying statistic.

“We have got to get the message through: this is illegal, it is very, very dangerous. You could end up yourself being injured or, worse still, on impulse inflicting some mortal injury on a friend.”

I remember getting a Christmas present from my teacher when I was in the first grade and six years old.  It was a knife and all the boys in the classroom got them.  One guy cut his finger a few weeks later but that was the only problem that occurred and that was minor.  The people in the U.K. are totally bonkers.

Making progress

From the May 23, 2006 edition of the Washington Post–Federal Law Negates D.C. Suit Against Gunmakers, Judge Rules:

A lawsuit in the District against gunmakers was dismissed yesterday by a D.C. Superior Court judge who ruled that the suit was precisely the sort of claim that a new federal law was intended to block.

In a 37-page opinion, Judge Brook Hedge wrote that the city and the federal government had two competing policies, and only one could prevail.

“The Court is faced with a classic tension between two elected branches of different governments, two equally clear legislative judgments, but each enforcing opposite policies,” Hedge wrote.

“At bottom,” she said, the federal law was enacted “to prohibit the very types of lawsuits the Strict Liability Act allows.”

And unless she was persuaded that the federal law was unconstitutional — which she was not — the federal law would prevail, she wrote.

And from the National Shooting Sports Foundation news release:

This is the third case against the gun industry to be dismissed based on the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act signed into law by President Bush last October.

In March, Los Angeles-based federal district court judge Audrey B. Collins became the first judge in the nation to dismiss a case based on the new legislation. Collins dismissed a public-nuisance lawsuit filed against Glock and gun distributor RSR by victims and family members of the now infamous “Jewish Daycare Center” shooting in Los Angeles in 1999 by Buford Furrow, a crazed homicidal maniac.

Last Friday, Los Angeles County superior court judge Charles W. Stoll dismissed a case filed on October 18, 2005, against three firearm manufacturers and a distributor following a gang shooting of a Los Angeles police officer during a traffic stop.

Links are via a post at Alphecca.

Just because we have made progress doesn’t mean we can back off.  We need to keep pushing and drive the bigots into political extinction.

Explosive components go through airport security

Yet another example of how our right to not be searched without a court order are being violated without any benefit:

CBS4) DENVER Nearly 5 years after Sept. 11, 2001, how difficult would it be for terrorists to get explosives aboard a plane? With billions being spent on airport security, one would hope it would be nearly impossible. But what CBS4 found may have you questioning whether we are really safer.

CBS4 demonstrated 3 years ago how explosive chemicals placed on luggage, a computer and a person could pass through security. The CBS4 Investigates wanted to see what, if anything, has changed. CBS4 began the test by purchasing those same explosive chemicals.

After this, the CBS4 team placed even more of the chemicals on the bag. Investigators also packed a lead-lined sack designed to protect film from X-rays. Then an electronic object was placed beneath it. This was to see if security would open the luggage to see what the lead bag was hiding.

The team then went to Denver International Airport.

A CBS4 employee who carried the bag with her purchased a one way ticket in hopes of being placed in the security line for extra screening. She was not.

The bag was placed on the conveyor and passed through the X-ray machine. The Transportation Security Administration screener spotted the lead-lined bag and wanted a second look. They let it through. They did not open it to see what was beneath the lead lined bag. And no one seemed to notice all that powder.

From watching the video I’m pretty sure I know what powdered chemical they used for the tests.  If I am correct there is no way the explosive detectors can flag it as dangerous without generating false positives on a very high percentage of the passengers.  It’s an unsolvable problem with the current paradigm.  If people wish to increase security, rather than just make some people feel good, they need to switch paradigms.  Here are my suggestions for increasing airplane security.