Friday, January 31, 2014

A Formula for Happiness?

On the NY Times Opinion page, Arthur Brooks of the American Enterprise Institute talks about controlling one's own happiness:

Beneath these averages are some demographic differences. For many years, researchers found that women were happier than men, although recent studies contend that the gap has narrowed or may even have been reversed. Political junkies might be interested to learn that conservative women are particularly blissful: about 40 percent say they are very happy. That makes them slightly happier than conservative men and significantly happier than liberal women. The unhappiest of all are liberal men; only about a fifth consider themselves very happy.
That part is interesting.  The leftist's response may be that "ignorance is bliss."  I tend to think, though, that, in general, a conservative person is one who believes that happiness is choice, as Minirth and Meier said in their book title many years ago

I battle depression all of the time, at least in part because of my "You can sleep when you're dead" approach to getting things done.  Once I figured that out, I know when everything seems black I need to take a nap or something.

Another trick I have learned is that insanity may be caused by dehydration.  If I find myself going into a rage, I probably need a drink of water.  "A thirsty throat and a crazy head are one," he counseled (Ismail the Afghan, from Talbot Mundy's King -- of the Khyber Rifles).

Back to happiness which, Brooks asserts, is not a matter of financial success for most Americans.  It may be related to work, though only when we earn it:
In other words, the secret to happiness through work is earned success.
That would go a long way toward explaining why leftist males are both leftists and unhappy.  Many are employed in the public sector and find no creative challenge by which true success may be measured.  The average government worker just has to show up and avoid causing trouble to be a "success" -- after all, the first word in success is sucks.  

As Brooks points out, there are many factors that go into determining whether or not a person is happy, including genetics and recent events -- all the "this, too, shall pass" stuff.  No matter what our genes and circumstances incline us toward, we can make the choice to look up and find happiness in faith, in relationships, in our own creative outlets.  Maybe even something as stupid as blogging.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


The Rocky  City Times reports that over 150 sharks have been flash frozen on the Gulf Coast by Winter Storm Leon:

The largest area of concentration appears to be around Gulfport, Mississippi, which has seen at least 67 of the frozen animals. Wildlife officials say that the sharks, who migrate to this area during the winter, were caught off guard by the most severe winter storm in several decades.

“Like many of us, I suspect the sharks did not believe that the area would actually receive any winter weather,” Mississippi Department of Wildlife spokesperson Matt Shepherd tells us. “It is like a Shark-slushy out there. The animals all appear to be alive, so please do not approach any frozen sharks. They will probably thaw later in the week and swim back out into the gulf.”

Yes, you're your first instinct is correct.  It is a joke site.  (I started to say, "you're correct", changed it and never fixed the contraction.)

However, it is true that the South is very cold today.  Cities like Atlanta are not well prepared to deal with snow and ice.  Temperatures in the low 20s are reported across the nearly subtropical panhandle of Florida.  Things are pretty rough in the Southeast.

I was at about 5 degrees this morning.  We'll get up around 40 by afternoon, so we'll survive.  I read where Lileks said that the cold in Minnesota would kill off the ash-borers.  I had some on one of my little ash trees along the driveway this year.  Maybe it will kill ours off, too. 

I remember Leon -- he was the guy who was waitin' at the station.  Might need to bring the 4WD.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Caffeine Use Disorder

Really?  Don't you people have anything better to do?

We quote from the article on EurekAlert:

... a recent study coauthored by American University psychology professor Laura Juliano indicates that more people are dependent on caffeine to the point that they suffer withdrawal symptoms and are unable to reduce caffeine consumption even if they have another condition that may be impacted by caffeine—such as a pregnancy, a heart condition, or a bleeding disorder.

These symptoms combined are a condition called "Caffeine Use Disorder." And according to the study Juliano coauthored, even though caffeine is the most commonly used drug in the world—and is found in everything from coffee, tea, and soda, to OTC pain relievers, chocolate, and now a whole host of food and beverage products branded with some form of the word "energy"—health professionals have been slow to characterize problematic caffeine use and acknowledge that some cases may call for treatment.

"The negative effects of caffeine are often not recognized as such because it is a socially acceptable and widely consumed drug that is well integrated into our customs and routines," Juliano said. "And while many people can consume caffeine without harm, for some it produces negative effects, physical dependence, interferes with daily functioning, and can be difficult to give up, which are signs of problematic use."

 Come after my coffee and you'll find out why I have guns.

(Click to embiggen.)

Updated with some free market sanity on by Peter Klein.  He uses the example of coffee price volatility to explain why there is no need for government agricultural subsidies. 

Geoff Lawton on Permaculture

... and other stuff at Surviving the Coming Crisis.

In order to view the videos, you'll have to give an email for confirmation, which signs you up.  I keep a few extra email accounts around for that sort of thing.

I haven't watched all of the videos, and some people have commented that Mr. Lawton is a leftist hippie flake.  He also uses the videos to get people to take his courses.  Caveats aside, the ones I've watched have good information, professionally presented. 

The emphasis is on design and how to set things up to get the most out of what one has.  One of the lessons, five acre abundance on a budget, for example, shows how to make use of surface water with an understanding of drainage and catchment.  It's an essential for sustainability and self-sufficiency. 

 If a person had any sense, looking at the way Lawton channeled water and talking to a good bulldozer man, it wouldn't be hard to figure out and implement a workable design on a given piece of property. 

By the way, I opened the first video not even knowing Lawton's first name, and I happened to have the sound off.  I knew by the way his mouth moved that he was speaking a form of English other than 'Merikan, and I was not surprised to find out that he lives in Australia. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

What Mike Huckabee Said

Human Events has the actual quote from Huckabee.

Our party stands for the recognition of the equality of women and the capacity of women.  That’s not a war on them, it’s a war for them.  And if the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control, because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of government, then so be it.  Let’s take that discussion all across America, because women are far more than Democrats have made them to be.  And women across America have to stand up and say, ‘Enough of that nonsense.’”
 Emphasis by Human Events.

So, in other words, the Huckster pretty much said the exact opposite of what he is accused of saying.  He contends that it is the Democrat Party which believes women are mindless, helpless victims of libido who must be furnished with government birth control to prevent their being naught but baby factories.  I would say that is a reasonable rhetorical depiction of the Democrats' policy approach.

I really do not like Mike Huckabee as a politician.  He's too much of a compassionate (big-government) conservative for me, but there is nothing wrong with what he said.  In no way could his words be construed to mean what the media claimed he said.  This is a deliberate, calculated lie on the part of the press.  Even they are not stupid enough to be able to miss the point Huckabee made.  They didn't like it, didn't like that it was too close to the truth, didn't like that it was a counter to the Democrat rhetoric, so they lied.

It happens a lot.

UPDATED from NRO -- when your national committee chairman can't or won't read plain English, it is no wonder that Republicans lose support and elections:

Mike Huckabee isn’t getting flak from just the Left and the media for last week’s “libido” comments — Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus said Huckabee needs to be more careful with his choice of words and what he wants to portray.
Reince Priebus is a dolt.  The left and the media are lying, making it up -- not just taking it out of context, but completely reversing the meaning.  They are not on your side, and they are not going to be on your side.  Quit deluding yourself.

Friday, January 24, 2014

On Starbucks, Bad Coffee, and the Abattoir of Investing

Denninger explains the current price-to-earnings ratio of Starbucks in simple terms.

A commenter, Capeman, disagrees on the quality of Starbucks:  You're clearly wrong on this Karl. Starbucks coffee tastes nothing like battery acid... it tastes like burnt ass.

I am happily unable to confirm that comparison.  I have, occasionally, gotten Starbucks' coffee, unembellished, or in a double espresso, in desperation, when trapped at a mall or an airport. I didn't think it was that bad.  I drink multiple cups pots of coffee every day and never complain, unless it is decaff, which tastes and smells like someone filtered it through a well-used ashtray full of old cigarette butts.  I am not a connoisseur.  More like a coffee 'possum. 

Anyway, Denninger mocks: 

Naw, nothing to see here with a 7,554 P/E

He continues laying down sarcasm like a '70s burnt orange shag carpet:

Now to be fair the company's stock IS only selling at 3.7x sales, which is better than some.  But it also has a profit margin of a hefty 0.06%, if I'm reading the latest data on Yahoo Finance correctly, which is obviously a highly-sustainable business.  After all, out of nearly $15 billion in sales it had a prodigious $8.3 million in net available to the common shareholder.

With insanity like this, how can anybody think that the stock market is a good place to invest?  It's a financial killing field. 

Top Three Headlines on Brownfield This Morning

Propane shortages prompts call for help

Biofuel supporters rally in Des Moines

Nebraska's ag director defends ethanol

Given the hypothesis John offered yesterday that increased corn production for ethanol might be contributing to the tight propane supply, I found these story lines thought-provoking.

We know already that ethanol as a fuel requires nearly as much if not more energy that it produces.  It is viable only when heavily supported by government subsidies.  A free market solution would reject it.  There are biofuel possibilities that ought to be pursued, such as producing bio-diesel from various organic sources.  Turning corn into ethanol for bourbon is one thing.  Turning it into a fuel to burn in cars is something entirely different. 

This is driven by Big Ag corn-growers who like the prices they are currently receiving.  Agriculture conglomerates like ADM (infamously profiled in this 1995 Cato Institute Study) are often the beneficiaries of these policy decisions.  As far as I know, nothing much has changed since James Bovard wrote this nearly twenty years ago.  If anything, the situation has worsened.

I really wish more American voters would educate themselves on the sad state of agriculture in our country.  We do "feed the world", but it comes at a very high price to taxpayers and to freedom.  It cannot be sustained.  The Department of Agriculture should be shut down, and the few useful things -- like meat inspections -- it carries out should be transferred to the states.  Government needs to get out of farming.  The big boys can survive on thinner margins, or even losses, when they get their corporate welfare, and small farmers have been increasingly driven out because they can't compete in that environment. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

She Don't Lie, Propane.

Ow, a seventy cent per gallon spike could hurt.  I'm sure Hank Hill is deeply saddened.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration says propane supplies are extremely tight in the Midwest and the spot price in Conway, Kansas “has spiked far above the Gulf Coast spot price.
I need to get a bigger tank, or another tank.  This is more motivation for alternatives.

I didn't have any trouble when I filled my tank a couple of weeks ago, and I'm probably good for a couple more months, even if the cold weather continues.

As Brownfield notes, one of the causes of a tight supply was the late, wet corn harvest which required more BTUs to dry out.  See, if I were growing corn the first thing I would do is slap solar panels on my drying bins.  By the way, what do you suppose is the best name ever for a company that builds grain bins and dryers?  I nominate Sukup.

I guess they did miss out by not making vacuum cleaners.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

MO Money

Apparently, Jay Nixon, Missouri governor, gave his "state of the state" speech last night, once again pandering to public sector unions, especially the teachers' union.  Nixon proposes a budget that projects a 5.2% increase in revenues and that gives another $278 million INCREASE to public schools from state taxes.  Roughly three-quarters of what I consider exorbitant real and personal property taxes I pay to my county go to the local public school.  The local high school is a modern, state-of-the-art physical plant with dozens of administrators and support personnel. 

In all, Nixon’s proposed $28 billion budget would increase education funding by nearly $500 million. Big infusions of cash would go to performance-based funding for colleges and universities, college scholarships, preschool funding, Parents as Teachers and school transportation, among other areas.

I'm still working -- partly because I like to, partly because I may have to help out the grandkids, and partly because I find the future financially uncertain.  A good friend of mine is a couple of years younger than I am.  Bless her heart, she was cute as a bug's ear and a great kisser when she was young.  It's hard to begrudge her anything.  She was a music teacher in public schools.  She has been retired for ten years.  I doubt that her annual salary ever matched mine, but the public pension fund that teachers pay into provides the ability for people like my friend to receive a substantial percentage of their annual salaries after only twenty or twenty-five years of working in the system.  I don't object to that so long as it is reasonable and not guaranteed by continuing inputs of tax monies. 

But that's not necessarily what happens.  The teachers and other public sector workers are going to get their pensions regardless of how the funds' investments perform.  Somebody is going to pay for it. 

Missouri's Republican-controlled legislature thinks -- and I completely agree -- that government schools are getting plenty of money and that surpluses should be given back to the taxpayers. 

This is not the state's money.  The state doesn't have any money except what they collect from us.  We do not need more beautiful school buildings.  We do not need more middle school media coordinators.  We do not need a full-time teacher for every five students.  We do not need a curling coach, a junior varsity basketball defensive coordinator, an interpretive dance instructor, and we certainly do not need the Common Core curriculum.  We need to teach kids to read and write and cipher.  Most of the rest of the stuff will come right along with that.  Until the public schools can prove to the taxpayers that they are actually educating and not baby-sitting and indoctrinating, I say, Not another dime.

Also, Denninger takes a nice shot at the Internationalists' support of failed public education and unrestricted immigration.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

AKA Cold Air

I am sure somebody has been parodying the idea that we need to christen not just every hurricane but every tropical depression that might drop some rain in Florida, not blizzards but what amounts to every fluctuation in temperature that might cause a New Yorker to have to put on a muffler.  Winter storm "Janus" strikes with temperatures plummeting thirty degrees from yesterday's above-normal temperatures.  That is to say, the high today will be about as much below the average as yesterday's was above it.  Funny how that works.

Despite the triviality of it, it is not going away because it is thought to be effective marketing.  I suppose it distracts all the unemployed people sitting on the couch, immersed in the twenty-four hour news cycle.  They can watch the minute-by-minute coverage of Winter Storm Janus during breaks in the other reality shows.  If they had a couple of minutes to actually think, things might get out of hand.

Friday, January 17, 2014


Dave Burge's response to the Obama screech, via Twitchy:

As Twitchy reported, the president’s speech today featured a comparison of the NSA … and Paul Revere. Obama, meet Iowahawk:

Maybe Obama meant, like, Paul Revere and the Raiders, "Kicks".

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Long Before There Was A MacGyver

... there was the Professor, actor Russell Johnson finally got off the island.  May he rest in peace.

Denninger on CCW

Karl Denninger explains why he cannot support government-issuance of CCW permits.

The incident that motivates his statement is detailed here in a Tampa Tribune editorial.

It also looks like Sundance over on the Treehouse is delving into this story, and that's where I first heard about it yesterday.

In short, Florida resident and CCW permit-holder John Filippidis and his family were on their way back home from a trip to New Jersey.  Passing through Maryland on I-95, a Maryland state trooper pulled them over, though they had violated no traffic laws and were never issued a citation.  The trooper apparently stopped the Filippidis' solely because John's concealed carry license came up when a check was run on his plates. 

Filippidis, in order to avoid any interstate issues, had left his .380 at home in his safe.  When stopped, he told the officer this. His wife, however, did not know where the gun was and slightly over-reacted when the thug cop asked her the same question.  As a result, the family was detained, Mr. Filippidis was cuffed-and-stuffed, and their vehicle was searched. 

This has been my concern with the concept of a concealed carry license for a long time.  We had the situation here in Missouri where the Department of Revenue and the Highway Patrol were illegally scanning permits and sharing information on CCW permit-holders with the federal government.

Now I know that the argument is that a CCW permit is like a driver's license.  You are going out in public carrying a deadly weapon no one, including the cops, knows you have. You should at least be authorized and trained.  Right?

As far as training, while it is a good idea, a responsible person will do that anyway.  As far as "authorizing", I would say, No.  Any felon is prohibited from even owning a firearm, let alone carrying one concealed.  The pertinent and enforceable law is already on the books.  It's illegal, but criminals violate the law.  Imagine that.   

Rather than a permit for the holder to exercise his or her freedom, the permit becomes another excuse for law enforcement to pursue and detain, harass and intimidate the people they are allegedly being paid to protect and serve.  

Missouri law allows anyone to carry a firearm concealed in one's vehicle.  No permit needed.  That's good enough for me.  If I am traveling in another state, I will probably leave my guns at home, so there is no need to unnecessarily worry the gestapo law enforcement officers in those jurisdictions.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


According to the good ol' StartleGram, Senator Ted Cruz is continuing to bash D.C.

I don't see how we can find fault with that.  Cruz characterized the Obama regime as "lawless", and I would agree.  Yesterday Obama threatened to rule by executive fiat, using Presidential Executive Orders to bypass Congress.  As my wife put it, "He thinks he's the king."

Sadly, if no one challenges what he does, he effectively becomes king.  With the 24-hour propaganda machine spinning at Obama behest, the Tea Party and other advocates of limited, Constitutional government are shouted down. 

After being sworn in as Texas’ junior senator last year — following his unlikely election over entrenched establishment Republican Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst — Cruz gave a 21-hour speech about why the nation’s healthcare law needs to be defunded. 

He later said Republicans lost the government shutdown battle because his party didn’t stand strong.

He was denounced by top leaders in his own party for what they called a “fool’s errand” and by Democrats for bringing the economy close to collapse.

On Friday in Austin, he continued his attack, saying the current president is lawless, dangerous and terrifying.

And on Saturday — amid cheers, standing ovations and flag waving — he continued.

“Liberty is under assault … in this country like never before,” Cruz said. “We have a president [who seems as though he] is going down the Bill of Rights trying to violate them one at a time.”
Cruz said that among Democratic leaders in Washington, D.C., he sees a “consistent pattern of lawlessness, the contempt for rule of law.”

The problem with having contempt for the rule of law at the highest levels of government is that it sends a signal out here to the rest of us in flyover country.   If my elected representatives are not bound by the laws they pass, why should I be so bound? 

What happens when individuals who have been "law-abiding" citizens decide they are no longer going to be shackled just because a lawless president wants something done and gets a lawless Supreme Court and a lawless Congress to back him? 

What happens when a state or two or three have had enough and say that  federal authority stops at the Idaho or Oklahoma border, or the Red River, or the Mississippi?  What happens if a state refuses to allow its citizens to be prosecuted by the IRS?  Won't ever happen?  Probably not.  But there are a lot things happening that I would never have imagined.   

States are refusing to enforce federal laws.  County sheriffs are refusing to enforce state laws.  United States Senators are echoing the call for a convention of the states to limit federal power. 

We may, after all, roll over and go along with the final destruction of our freedom.  But we aren't Europeans, and it seems that the harder Washington pushes on us, the more resistance we offer.  If the central government continues to defy the will of the people, it might manage to create an open conflict. 

We hope not.  Such things never end well.  An amicable divorce would be preferable, but I don't suppose that's ever happened either.

The Truth About Sandy Hook?

You can read the full article from Mike McDaniel of PJ Media HERE.  Do that.

McDaniel addresses some misinformation that was put out by the media in the immediate aftermath of the vile murders of innocents at Sandy Hook.  Erroneous and conflicting initial reports are to be expected in these situations.  First impressions and statements made when emotions are high are frequently incorrect.  I am far less concerned about the mistakes made then than about the refusal by authorities now to release the full details of what happened that day.

The source for McDaniel's article is the November, 2013 report from the state's attorney.  How exactly did the DA, Sedensky, come to this conclusion?

[The murderer] used multiple weapons, including an AR-15 and a shotgun, in his attack. He used a high-powered “assault weapon” and “high-capacity magazines.” The only weapon [the murderer] used to kill and injure all of the victims was a Bushmaster AR-15 pattern carbine. ...
A shotgun was found in [the murderer's] car, but it was not used in the attack. [the murderer] also carried a Sig-Sauer P226 9mm handgun, but did not fire it. [The murderer] killed himself with a shot to the head from a 10mm Glock 20 handgun, and before attacking the school killed his mother with a Savage .22LR bolt-action rifle he left on the floor of her bedroom.  (As usual, brackets added by me because such vile pieces of crap are undeserving of human names.)

As I noted at the time the report was released, most of the evidence file is still sealed.  We have only the conclusions and not the data used to arrive at those conclusions.  This makes it impossible to determine whether or not these conclusions are valid.  Yes, I am questioning the motives, honesty, integrity, and intelligence of a government official.  

It's my job.  Yours, too.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Nullification, Not Just Dope

Those who opposed the effort by Missouri state legislators to pass a law that would have resulted in the arrest of federal agents attempting to enforce firearms restrictions against Missourians often mentioned nullification as being a dead-end.  Now, I don't suppose the legalization of weed in Colorado will result in federal DEA officials being jailed, but the law is a form of nullification just the same. 

This year Missouri will once again try to protect its citizens from federal government overreach.  This time there is a slightly modified approach that uses essentially the same logic that has been applied to marijuana legalization:

Missouri's latest proposal, introduced this past week, would attempt to nullify certain federal gun control regulations from being enforced in the state and subject law enforcement officers to criminal and civil penalties for carrying out such policies.

The state's Republican-led Legislature came one vote shy of overriding Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of such a measure last year. This year's bill adds a new twist, delaying the effective date for several years to allow time for other states to join the cause.
I'm not sure how that will work in practice, but I like the concept.  If several states take the same approach, as was the case with marijuana, they may be, as a group, able to push back against intrusions by the feds.  Courts struck down Montana's attempt to prevent federal regulation of firearms manufactured and sold within the state's borders -- flexing the all-powerful "Commerce Clause", I suppose. 

The question is, why would the feds choose to enforce a firearms statute but not a drug statute?  There is certainly no explicit mention of pot in the Bill of Rights.  I think we have grounds for an ultimate success.  You have to start somewhere.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Hear Ye, Hear Ye has an article by Evans Brasfield on hearing loss among bikers.  As Brasfield points out, for most street bikes, the real culprit is not engine noise, but wind.  The link has some charts that show decibel levels and acceptable exposure times.  Also, the writer does a good job of explaining the logarithmic decibel scale. 

I have spent many hours shooting, riding very noisy two-strokes, running tractors, chainsaws, and other machines.  As a kid, the noise of the vacuum pump in the milk barn was a constant.  It never occurred to me that hours of that noise twice a day every day would damage my hearing.  My father suffered from extreme hearing loss in his later years.  He had to have hearing aids and still could barely carry on a conversation if there was any background noise at all. 

I don't expect to get that bad, for a couple of reasons.  One is that I am not around noisy equipment as much as I used to be.  The other reason is that I am almost obsessive about wearing plugs or muffs of some sort if at all possible.  I just refuse to use the trimmer, blower or chainsaw without hearing protection.  More and more, I wear earplugs when I run the lawnmower or the tractor, and, of course, when I shoot, especially my handguns. 

Despite my best efforts, though, I can tell that my hearing acuity has declined.  I used to be a bit of an audiophile with high-end components and speakers.  A dinky MP3 player is all I need these days.  I can no longer appreciate the fine distinctions that a quality system provides.  I can tell muddy bass from clear bass, and that's about it.  I can still hear better than I would expect on the higher end of the scale, but I think one of the reasons I like the old music better is that I know how it used to and is supposed to sound. 

I am a little conflicted about wearing earplugs on my bike.  It seems contrary to common sense to deliberately diminish one of my senses, but I think, generally, a rider depends much more on sight than sound on the road.  I do have baffled plugs that will let me hear sirens and horns and other warning sounds while merely reducing the decibels to a less damaging level.

No matter what you do, your hearing is important and should be protected as much as possible.  Loud noises, including loud music, can quickly cause irreversible damage. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Am I Becoming A Radical?

It's not something I want to do, but the "experts" are leaving me little choice.

Efforts are underway to deny American veterans the right to own firearms.  Go over and read the whole thing.   

This is something I wrote about back in October, 2012.  Psychiatry and psychology can be used to deny people the power to legally defend themselves.

So, do I want crazy people to have firearms?  Actually, most crazy people are fairly harmless -- except the authoritarian ones who wear police uniforms and ruthlessly gun down little kids.

Using "science" to make policy is a bad idea.  Our founders opted to enshrine the idea of the separation of church and state through the First Amendment.  Particular religions, in the olden days, were eager to get control of the reins of government in order to force people into their sect.  They were ensnared by the prospect of the power and wealth that would flow to them as the compulsory state religion.

I think scientism is a lousy state religion.  Eugenics was science.  Great idea. 

As someone who appreciates mathematics, engineering, machines, gadgetry, genetics, astronomy, etc., I have no quarrel with science as a methodology.  I have serious misgivings about its use as an ethical system.  I doubt that scientists can be trusted to be dispassionate and objective about their beliefs, even if they should happen to be right.  I don't think science can be the foundation for moral behavior or political decisions.  Science, like government, is a tool with limited capabilities.

This is especially true of "softer", therapeutic disciplines like psychology and sociology.  It's a foundation of quicksand.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Cold Winter Does Not Mean No Warming

Weather Underground is quick to jump on the comments of radio personality Rush Limbaugh.

The "climate change" people argue that the planet is still warming, although, they reluctantly admit, far less than what would be expected based on all of the models.

The reason might be that the heat and CO2 are being absorbed by the ocean.  Or it might be something else.  Space monkeys.  

Here is the key statement:

Why this is happening is something climate scientists still are trying to figure out.

No kidding?  We are supposed to shutdown coal-fired power plants and let electric rates "skyrocket" and people possibly freeze to death or die of heat stroke in the summer while climate scientists try to "figure out" why their models are junk.

I also note that WU, while dismissing cold weather as proof of global cooling, wants to point out that -- in summer -- Australia is experiencing record heat.  It is hot in the southern hemisphere.  I am shocked.  I'll bet it is hot here around the Fourth of July going into August.  Can I get a government grant?  You can't have it both ways, boys.  Average means average -- sometimes up, sometimes down, overall, it averages.

We also know for a fact, from the East Anglia email leaks back in 2009, for example, that "respected" climate scientists, like Michael Mann, engaged in deceptive and misleading practices in order to sustain their narrative of man-made global warming.

The rule is that if you lie to me about one thing, pardon me if I suspect you of being a liar and doubt everything you tell me.  If you are too stupid to understand that, you might be a Democrat.   

As far as the "polar vortex" being a new term, I accept the fact that it has long been used as a meteorological term for the jet stream-level anti-cyclone or high pressure system that circulates around the Arctic.  The question is why the media decided to start using that particular term.  This kind of high pressure system has moved south before.  I was living in the Dallas area back in 1989 when a late February/early March system settled over us with extremely high barometric pressure and record low temperatures -- just the kind of arctic system that has hit recently.  I don't recall the use of the term "polar vortex".  It was "arctic high pressure".  I am less prone to believe in a conspiracy and more likely to believe that some journalist heard it and thought it sounded new, catastrophic, and "scientific".  It's the same way that "gravitas" or "nuance" were the political in-words at one point.

Nobody doubts the climate on Earth changes.  The climate on Mars changes.  What we "deniers" doubt is that the "experts" have a clue as to why it changes, and we also doubt that an ineffective green-house gas like CO2 has much to do with it -- especially knowing that CO2 increases historically trail warm periods.  We also doubt that making dramatic changes in lifestyles and energy use are a good idea in the absence of evidence that those changes would have any impact whatsoever on the global climate.

I'm not anti-conservation.  I'm a hunter and fisherman.  I would like to see better and more sustainable farming practices.  I do not see the industrialization of agriculture, as Don Colacho puts it, is a particularly positive trend.  (Here's a good one:  God invented tools, the devil machines.)

I'd like to see us move to thorium reactors as a safe, clean energy source, but I don't think we should be terrorized by bad science into courses of action that will result in economic and social destruction. 

Christie Creamed

The headline says, "New Jersey governor, enmeshed in scandal..." -- let's stop right there.

First, though Christie has some good points in taking on the perversity of public sector unions, he's a big-government statist.  I don't care what party label he wears.  If this takes him out of contention for the 2016 Republican nomination, that's a good thing. 

What we are talking about is that some of his aides, almost certainly with Christie's knowledge and approval, conspired to unnecessarily close lanes on the George Washington bridge going into Manhattan from New Jersey.  It was a vindictive political strike against the mayor of Fort Lee, NJ, who failed to endorse Christie for re-election.  Of course, like a lot of government gangsterism, the real suffering fell upon the average citizen.  

Christie and Obama have a lot in common.  Both are petty men who use the power of government -- handed to them in trust by their constituents -- against their political enemies.  Christie's lane closures lasted for four days in September 2013 and adversely impacted response by emergency vehicles: 

A local New Jersey paper reported that, as a result of the lane closures, emergency responders were delayed in attending to four medical situations. One involved an unconscious 91-year-old woman who later died of cardiac arrest and another, a car accident, in which four people were injured.

That's bad, but it is not as bad as what happened in Benghazi.  Nor is it as bad as what happened with the Mexican gun-running carried out by Eric Holder's Justice Department and the ATF in their Fast and Furious ploy.  Not being a commuter into New York, I would also say that a president using IRS against his political opponents -- something done by Obama and Clinton and Richard Nixon -- is also worse.  Nobody died, I don't suppose, but the IRS can be worse than death in some ways.

When Reuters or the AP or NBCABCCBSCNN starts talking about "The President, enmeshed in scandal ..." I might start taking them seriously.  

Obama, Susan Rice, and Hillary Clinton stood before the American people in September 2012 and proclaimed that Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, and Tyrone Woods died as a result of a Youtube video.  That was a lie, and they knew it was a lie. 

Obama and Holder knew what was going on with Fast and Furious.  The plan was to blame the violence in Mexico on American "assault rifles" in the hope of imposing more restrictions on the manufacture and ownership of such arms in this country.  Brian Terry paid for those political maneuverings with his life.

Much information on the Sandy Hook school shootings is still being suppressed.  Will we be surprised if we never learn the full story?  And if we do, will we be surprised to learn that we were fed misinformation to further the gun-grabbing agenda of the current regime?

What we should learn from Christie's scandal is not just that Chris Christie is a fat slob with no self-control who has no qualms about using the power of his office to attack his political enemies via the suffering of the citizens who voted for him, but that government at all levels has great potential for minor as well as major abuse.

We should conclude that it cannot be trusted -- no politician of any stripe can be trusted.  No bureaucracy can be trusted.  No government agent can be trusted.  All must be accountable.  There must be checks and balances.  Government can NEVER be allowed to have a monopoly on power.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Violence in Venezuela

Tell me it isn't so in the socialist workers' paradise that is Venezuela. The Guardian reports that former Miss Venezuela, Monica Spear and her recently ex-husband, Thomas Berry, were gunned down during an apparent roadside robbery.  Their daughter was also injured.

Venezuela has one of the highest murder rates in the world with more killings than the United States and Europe combined, according to one estimate.

Hear that?  There's way too much killing going on in the U.S., but there are 300 million of us, and we are very diverse. 

Apparently what happened was that the car Spear and Berry were in broke down.  While they were waiting for a tow, "opportunistic thieves" approached and killed them when they "offered resistance". 

There's actually no evidence for that.  It's mere speculation on the part of police investigators.  As corrupt as the Venezuelan police probably are, it's just as likely the couple were set up and gunned down without any opportunity to resist. 

Oh, am I being unfair to the police?  If the courageous and self-sacrificing officers of NYC are really a bunch of fraudsters who have no respect for the law, pardon me if I make an assumption about an arm of the failing thug regime currently ruining Venezuela. 

Rural Home Invasion

Fortunately, the victim, a disabled woman, survived.

It sounds as if the perpetrators knew of the victim, watched her and knew what they wanted.

The men had busted into her home and roughed her up; they demanded money and prescription drugs.
Here is someone living alone in a lightly populated area.  Since she is described as disabled, one would assume a certain amount of physical weakness and vulnerability.  She's probably living on a few hundred dollars a month, and she has been robbed of more than $1000.

These thugs need to be hunted down, but it is unlikely they will be caught -- at least not for this particular crime.  They will do it again.

I don't know if this woman had a firearm in the house, though a gun will do no good if a person does not have time to access it.  Did she have her doors locked?  Were they dead-bolted?  Any door can be breached, but home invaders should be forced to make a lot of noise.

Most everyone has a cell phone these days.  Is it quickly accessible?  Does it have 911 on speed or voice dial?

Never open the door to someone unknown and unexpected.  Storm doors can be beneficial.  They won't stop a bullet, but neither will most exterior doors.  They will provide a second or two to shoot the bolt and run.

I don't like indoor animals, but, in a situation like this woman's, I would overcome my prejudice and have a dog in house.  Security alarms would be another option.

It's really sad that we have to protect ourselves against these kinds of threats.  Home invasions in rural areas certainly aren't a brand-new phenomenon.  The events portrayed in In Cold Blood, just to pick one, happened in 1959 out in the boonies of southwest Kansas.  Still, they do seem to be on the rise, and, while we should not live in fear, we are wise to be aware of the potential.  

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Ontario AFSK Review

This is the Ontario Pilot or Air Force Survival Knife.  It's been around since the '50s or so and is a tried and tested tool.  I bought this particular one as a Bug-out Bag stocking stuffer for someone else.  For various reasons my plans changed, so I worked the edge over a little and took it out myself. 

First, let me say that saw-back knives may not be exactly what you would expect.

I tried it out on a small hickory limb.  It would work fine for notching but it is not really a wood saw.  Since it is a pilot's knife, it is designed to aid in extracting a person from a downed aircraft, among other things.  I didn't have any aircraft aluminum around to test it on, but I imagine it might serve for that purpose.

On the other hand, a few quick snap-cuts with the main blade took the limb off nicely.  This is well-tempered 1095 carbon steel.  You can get it sharp, and it is thick and stout.  The balance and grip are very good for my average-sized hands.

The butt-end makes a much better hammer than the butt of a cowboy's Colt (don't you always cringe when you see those old shows where a guy drives in a fence staple with his handgun?).
  It's about as famous for its sheath as anything. 
The little hone that comes with it is not bad.  It has what seems like a fairly fine grit on one side while the other side may be slightly more coarse, but that's only by finger-feel.  I used a fine diamond and a strop to polish up the blade.  I considered removing the stone and sticking some "survival" supplies, like fishhooks, tinder, and a firestarter of some sort in the pouch.  That might be a reasonable idea, depending on how one expects to this knife.  If you are including it in a bug-out bag then I'd probably stick with the hone.  Sharp is good.

The sheath has several tie-down points in it like the two holes at the bottom in the metal reinforcement.  My old Ontario Marine Corps bowie sheath has a tie-down hole on the sheath, but it is a 7-inch blade and the sheath is a drop-loop -- so it hangs down lower.  The way this sheath rides on a belt with the 5-inch blade, a tie-down is not only unnecessary but maybe not even a good idea.  However, the ability to carry the knife in other ways is of value.  I put a little paracord through the top holes which, with the cord in the bottom, would enable horizontal carry, strapping to a pack, or even rigging as a shoulder holster.

The first thing I did to the sheath before I took it outside was to saddle-soap it.  Leather and carbon steel work great so long as they are given a little consideration and not excessive neglected.

The swedge did not come sharpened.  I have remedied that to some degree, but it needs a little more work before I'll be happy. 
It's not really a requirement, but if the potential is there, I figure I might as well make use of it.

Overall the blade shape will serve well for most camping and general use chores.  It would be an acceptable defensive tool in a pinch.  

The link above is to Midway, which currently offers the ASFK for $46.49 and includes free shipping.  I paid more at for this one at Bass Pro, but, as I said, it was intended to be a Christmas gift, and I was time-constrained.  It is definitely a quality piece of gear for the price.  You can pay a lot more for very, very good knives -- but most won't be very, very much better.  

Sightings of .17HMR at Bass Pro and Academy

The last couple of trips I've made into town involved short visits to Bass Pro and Academy.  Both had some .17 HMR on the shelves -- no other rimfire, but it is a good sign.

Since I can find ammo, I'm almost tempted to buy one -- especially after reading good ol' Varmint Al's analysis.

Monday, January 6, 2014

We Might Make Zero By Noon

Right now we are still at -1.  The lowest I saw was -9 F about 6:00 am.

I'll be able to go out in my shorts tomorrow.  It will be 35.  The nice thing about below-zero temperatures is that they make you appreciate above-zero temperature.

On Meaningless Statistics

EurekAlert! reports on a University of South Carolina study regarding arrest rates.

The study's key findings include:
  • By age 18, 30 percent of black males, 26 percent of Hispanic males and 22 percent of white males have been arrested.
  • By age 23, 49 percent of black males, 44 percent of Hispanic males and 38 percent of white males have been arrested.
  • While the prevalence of arrest increased for females from age 18 to 23, the variation between races was slight. At age 18, arrest rates were 12 percent for white females and 11.8 percent and 11.9 percent for Hispanic and black females, respectively. By age 23, arrest rates were 20 percent for white females and 18 percent and 16 percent for Hispanic and black females, respectively.
In addition to Brame and Bushway, the research team included Ray Paternoster at the University of Maryland and Michael Turner at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
The study, a representative sample of the larger population, builds on a previous one by the team that was released in January 2012 in the journal Pediatrics. That study garnered national attention for providing the first look since the 1960s at arrest prevalence and for its key finding that one in three people are arrested by age 23.

That's interesting.  Being arrested is NOT the same thing as being convicted.  I would hazard a guess that a lot of arrests are related to driving -- probably quite a few DUIs.  You can be arrested for a misdemeanor as well as for a felony.    

It makes a nice attention-grabbing headline but the results, as presented, are much less dramatic.  Always keep the salt handy when people start quoting statistics. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Least Likely To Get An Invite to "Dancing With the Stars"

The KC Chiefs are the Chicago Cubs of the NFL.  We're not down as our expectations were already very low.  My 42-year-old nephew has never seen Kansas City play in a Super Bowl.

Meanwhile, my non-football fan wife stayed up to watch every minute of the Cotton Bowl, because she is a fan of Gary Pinkel.  Her nephew is an Okie State alumnus, and she called him to offer condolences before the game started.  I was just glad we were playing OSU instead of OU.

I give Pinkel credit because he does seem to care about his team.  But, Coach, please, what's that supposed to be?  The Brokeback Mountain prance?

Congratulations to Mizzou and to Coach Pinkel on a decent sophomore season in the SEC. 

Friday, January 3, 2014

Jörg Sprave's 58-lb Sling-bow

h/t to Knowledge Weighs Nothing.

The Mighty Herr Sprave demonstrates his almost-perfected Rambone slingshot modified to shoot arrows.  A 58-lb draw weight on such a compact system is quite impressive.

I like bows for preppers because they are quiet.  I usually hunt with my old Bear compound.  I'm working on a couple of small primitive bows, just to play with.  Archery equipment, even with a take-down recurve, is fairly bulky.  Jörg's compact delivery system eliminates a lot of the bulk and weight.  You still have to deal with arrows.  As the KWN guy points out, you could carry just heads and fletching and make arrows.  I think I'd want at least three or four ready to use, though.

It's just plain cool.

SAK It To Me

I am not an old hand when it comes to the Swiss Army Knife.  As I have said before, all my early pocketknives were 3-blade stockmen.  I think a ‘60s-era Old Timer was what I carried before I bought the carbon steel Craftsman that I carried every day for thirty years.  My first SAK was a Wenger which I bought in the late ‘90s.  I bought it because it had a saw blade and did not have the detestable corkscrew.  I had long quit drinking, even then.  Besides there were no corks in Boones’ Farm or Mad Dog.  I’m sure MacGyver used the corkscrew for something really cool, but the cap lifter and can opener serve me better. 

This was my traveling knife prior to 9/11/01.  I would hook my keys to it, and it would go right through security.  No airplane – no American airplane will ever again be hijacked by terrorists with small knives or boxcutters.  Morons like John McCain kept the Gestapo the TSA thugs from relaxing the ban on small folding knives last year.  I still can’t carry something convenient and sensible onto a commercial plane because politicians are more concerned about perceptions than reality.   Ah, well, I avoid flying as much as possible anyway.  That’s just one more reason.    

That saw blade on the Wenger has seen a lot of use.  Prior to acquiring that knife, when I went camping or on a float trip, I carried a fixed blade knife big enough to use as a chopper.  If I couldn’t find enough dead wood or driftwood, I’d hack into a snag or chop off some branches.  The Wenger provides a quieter alternative.  Naturally, I’m still going to carry a bigger knife because that’s the way I am, but it will get less of a workout.  I have used the saw blade for a variety of pruning and even small woodworking chores.  It even served occasionally when we built our house ten years ago.  I did the tile and trim work myself, and, rather than go back to the jigsaw or chop saw, I would sometimes do a little finish fitting with the SAK. 

I do have a Victorinox.  While it lacks the saw blade, it also lacks the corkscrew.  Like the Wenger, it has scissors.  I use those quite often.  The smaller knife blade on the Victorinox pulls a lot of light utility duty.  The larger blade on both the Victorinox and the Wenger is easy to sharpen and keep sharp.  They are good for skinning and dressing small game.  I’ve used them to clean fish.  They would, I’m sure, be adequate for skinning out a deer – I’ve done it with a stockman.  I’ve also used these knives to clean and prep vegetables from the garden. 

When it comes to multi-tools, I still like the plus-plier versions I have – the Gerber and especially the Leatherman Wave.  I can drop those in my pocket, but they usually go on my belt.  Still the SAK offers a great deal of multi-tool functionality in a lighter, smoother, slimmer package.  A belt-carried multi-tool looks a little funny when someone is all dressed up.  Though they are fine for engineers, even software engineers, at work, they might be a little much when we go to church.  Depends on the church, I guess. 

One of these days, if I happen to run across a Victorinox Fieldmaster, I might pick it up.  It has all the same tools as my knife above, plus a saw blade.  That would pretty well be the perfect SAK, as far as I’m concerned.  And that’s really the nice thing about SAKs these days – you can get what you need.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Heat Is (Not) On

Down in Sydney, Australia, a few days past the summer solstice, it's hot.  So scientists are saying that the climate is warming faster than feared

I'm up to 14 degrees Fahrenheit during the coldest winter in the last ten years after one of the coolest summers in probably forty years.  I'm not really worried about an ice age -- after all, it's winter, and summer before last was very hot and dry.  The thing is that weather varies a lot, and scientists can get by with making ridiculous statements because people don't pay much attention:

”The net effect of [climate change] is you have less cloud cover.”

Really?  Where I come from, we have a word for this, but I'll substitute "making crap up as they go along."  According to these geniuses, it could be that water vapor which evaporates from large bodies of water -- like oceans -- might rise only a short distance into the atmosphere creating updrafts which, I suppose, would dissipate the clouds.  Because, you know, clouds are really sensitive to wind and water vapor:

The optimistic models did not properly assess the impact of water evaporation, which sometimes rises only a short distance into the atmosphere and causes updraughts that reduce cloud cover, the study found. 
Just in case you think I made that up as I went along.  Somebody might want to tell Science! that clouds are water vapor and tend to form under lower atmospheric pressure, which has little to do with updrafts or downdrafts.  I suspect bank drafts.

Of course, it doesn't matter whether you use optimistic or pessimistic models because both are vastly overestimating the actual observed temperature changes.  The average of multiple models projects an increase of around 0.75 degrees C, while the actual observed increase is closer to 0.2, or half a degree less, and slightly less than the most optimistic of models.  There was a slight rise up in global temperatures during the late '90s, especially as measured by satellite data which came close to the model average at the time of a 0.25 degree increase.  The only time the temperature has exceeded the modeled average was back in the late '70s.  After the '90s, the models all project a rapid increase in global temperature averages to exceed a full degree C by the end of this decade.  It is not going to happen.  

The mean "normal" global temperature is said to be 57 degrees F.  That is rarely the actual average -- as would be expected.  The temperature is usually a little above or a little below that.  Sometimes, as in 1100 BC, it is as much as two or three degrees higher; other times, like 200 BC and the Little Ice Age around 1600 AD, it may be a couple of degrees cooler.  The mean in 1607 AD was down around 54.3 degrees.  

Of course, none of this stuff is exact.  They are all estimates, but the same data is available to everybody.  It's just that some of us (scientists) get more research grant money when global warming is big in the news, and the rest of us get shafted by escalating electrical rates as coal-fueled power plants are shut down and denied permits.  

If the rest of us were caught in such fraud and extortion, we'd probably go to jail.