Friday, December 20, 2002
Thursday, December 12, 2002
California State Senator Jack Scott, ever impervious to little things
like facts, has proposed href="http://info.sen.ca.gov/pub/bill/sen/sb_0001-0050/sb_35_bill_20021210_introduced.html"
target="_blank">SB35. SB35 is Jack Scott's latest pipe dream:
Ballistic "Fingerprinting". (Or as Scott fantasizes, "DNA for guns".)
Back in October, the politicos in DC were proposing this at the
National level. The NRA, of course, opposed this for a variety of
reasons. Now there are plenty of people who refuse to listen to
anything the NRA says. No matter how accurate they might be, there are
people who automatically ignore whatever they say on any subject.
Will you listen to a shooter and
optical engineer who knows a fair amount about computer science?
Why am I qualified to voice an opinion? Because I have a certain level
expertise in the sciences that figure most prominantly in this issue. I
know guns and I know the optical systems that a ballistic
fingerprinting system would use. I also have a fair amount of knowledge
on computer science. First, let's start with some technical background
A ballistic "fingerprint" is a photographic record of the markings a
firearm leaves on an expended bullet and its discarded shell casing.
Whenever a round is fired, the gun leaves marks on its components. The
barrel's rifling leaves a pattern of grooves on the bullet. The firing
chamber, extractor, and firing pin leave marks on the metallic shell
casing. Thus the components from two rounds fired through two different
guns will have different markings. It is thus style="font-style: italic;">possible to match a particular
bullet to a particular gun.
Once the fired components are recovered, they are photographed to
produce a record of the marks. This isn't easy since the bullets and
casings are cylindrical. The photo must "unwrap" the image by rotating
the component on a special stage while it's being photographed.
Preferably, more than one rotation about the circumfrence is recorded
to allow for offsetting while indexing the photo to other images. The
rear of the casing must also be photographed to record the marks left
by the firing pin.
OK... so what's the problem?
Let's start with the gun. That "fingerprint" isn't a fingerprint at
all. Your fingerprints are a permanent
feature of your body. They'll be a part of your body even after it's
been laid low and you're off to your eternal reward. They do not
change. The marks left by a gun, however, are style="font-weight: bold;">not permanent features of the gun;
they are transient features. Barrels wear as ammunition is fired
through them. Different types of ammo cause different amounts of barrel
wear. Lead bullets (as opposed to copper jacketed bullets) leave
residue in the barrel that fills in smaller defects. Thus the scratches
left by these smaller defects vanish if lead is present. Firing
chambers also wear and brass can fill smaller features thus obscuring
their marks. Firing pins and extractors also wear and, if broken, are
easily replaced. Thus time alone changes the characteristics of the
markings a firearm produces.
It is also very easy to deliberately change the markings. Some shooters
polish the bores of their guns to improve accuracy. Something as simple
as a dab of toothpaste on the tip of a round can alter the barrel's
scratch pattern. Chambers can be similarly polished. (To improve ease
of loading and extraction.) Barrels can also be replaced.
(An added note: In many rifle calibers, it's possible to fire a smaller
bullet with a sabot. The bullet will then be left with only the feeble
markings from the disposable sabot; not the rifle barrel. It is thus
possible to fire a bullet that has style="font-weight: bold;">no fingerprint whatsoever!)
Thus by time or by deliberate effort, a gun's "fingerprint" can be
erased. The photographic record becomes worthless.
But what if the gun is neither worn nor deliberately altered? Could the
record be of use then? Perhaps... If you're lucky.
I mentioned that the images must be recorded on a rotating stage. The
wrinkle there is that there is no correct way to index the bullet or
casing in the stage. There's no up or down to the thing. Neither is
there a correct orientation for the back of the case. Thus the before
and after images are aligned to different rotations. Your image
processing system must first deal with this.
The easiest thing to do would be to take a Fourier transform of the
over-rotated image. This records the spatial distribution of the features
in the image. This distrbution is independent of the indexing. This
provides information that a computer can use more easily to sort out
possible matches to the gun under test. (It will still be necessary to
do a final examination of the candidate matches by hand.) However, not
all of the spatial information is useful as not all of the marks were
left by the gun. New cases jostling together in their box on the way to
the gun store will leave marks on one another. So will the pavement
when the expended case hits the ground. Bone will deform the bullet.
All of these things leave their own spatial signature in the transform.
Buried in this mish-mash of data is the spatial signature of the gun.
An image processing system must be able to discard the false data
without losing the real record. This isn't easy. The conditions in the
crime lab will also affect the process. Different lighting or different
optical systems will produce different images. Different technicians
will focus their cameras differently. All of this affects image
quality. To make matters worse, many of the images will be nearly
identical. For example, all of the Smith & Wesson 9mm barrels will
produce very similar results. All of the Glock 9mm barrels will look
very similar. All of the Sig-Sauer 9mm barrels will look very similar.
Why? Because large operations like theirs can produce very consistent
products. The differences will be subtle. (By the way: The more subtle
the differences, the more easily they'll be worn away.) The image
processing system will have to make an initial catalog of these guns
that's able to draw some distinction between articles. Obviously, the
problem gets worse as more and more time elapses between the baseline
test and any subsequent test.
Now the data must be stored and easily retrievable. To accurately
record the details in the data, the image files must be large and style="font-weight: bold;">uncompressed. Compression
algorithms, like the JPEG standard, will distort the data. How large
will the record be? I would guess that 2000 pixels by 2000 pixels (4
megapixels) would be sufficient. The images can be gray scale, so that
limits the depth to 8 bits. However, the resulting .BMP files are still
3.81 MB each! And there are three of them per record plus their Fourier
transforms which are also 3.81 MB each!! Thus each firearm in the
system requires at least 15.24 MB of diskspace. File compression can
lower this somewhat, but not by much.
AB35 counts upon many improbable things happening. It assumes that the
guns in the system will not show wear nor will they be deliberately
altered. It assumes that all test labs will produce image files of the
same quality. It assumes the ability to design a database system will
be able to sort through enormous image files to produce a few possible
matches per test subject.
Even if these impossible conditions can be met, there are still more
hurdles to cross. The one that's most likely to get the bill tossed is
especially relevant in this State: How are your going to pay for it?
This system would cost millions to set up, who knows how much to
maintain, and promises very little in return. Maryland has had a
similar system in place for about three years now. They finally solved
a case with it a few weeks ago. Millions that could be used to hire
more police will, instead, be spent on programers. This is good for the
geeks, but not so go for the rest of us.
Wednesday, December 11, 2002
Truth be told, the Teletubbie from Mississippi didn't say anything worse than what's come out of Grand Dragon Bobby Byrd's (D-KKK) mouth. It's not like the guy was on national television going off about "white niggers". However, it was a pretty stupid thing to say. (Or as the Hooded Wonder from West Virginny might say, "Pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty stupid.")
But should Lott step down?
Yes, but not for this.
Lott has less backbone than a washed up jellyfish. He squandered the GOP's power when he briefly held the Majority Leader's spot in 2001. He has a long and infamous history of appeasing and coddling Democrats. It's fitting that he should lose the top spot in what would be the ultimate example of caving-in to the Dems.
No, he should go because of his stupid remarks; but it make as good an excuse as any.
Tuesday, November 05, 2002
I'm glad that you asked! Here is Redcloak's California Voter Guide...
Governor: Duh... Vote for Simon!
McPhersonOpps... Make that the Libertarian candidate, Pat Wright. (McPherson's an anti-gun weenie!)
Sec. of State: Olberg (Look at it this way: Do you really want a Democrat
in charge of counting chads?)
Controller: McClintock (His Dem opponent was an economic advisor to
Jimmy Carter... 'Nuf said!)
Attorney General: Ackerman!
Insurance Commissioner: Mendoza (Didn't we all vote to fire Garamendi
a few years back?)
Supreme Court Justice: Vote NO on Justice Moreno
On the ballot measures...
Prop. 46: It's a tax, vote NO!
Prop. 47: It's a tax, vote NO!
Prop. 48: No. (I don't see any good reason to amend the Constitution to elliminate
an "obsolete" court level. It would take another amendment to change our
minds later, should the need arise.)
Prop. 49: The "Aah-nold" Initiative. It's not a tax, but it may result in
the Legislature taking the "increase" in funds out of the existing school
budget for a net increase of zero. (This is a shell game they play all the
time, hence the pattern you may have noticed regarding the bond issues. The money never goes where they say it will. It's a scam!) Vote no.
Prop. 50: It's a tax, vote NO!
Prop. 51: Use the gas tax for car stuff? Sure! Vote Yes.
Prop. 52: The Voter Fraud Enablement Act, as I like to call it. Vote NO!
Measure A: It's a tax, vote NO!
Measure B: It's a tax, vote NO!
L.A. Unified School District...
Measure K: It's a tax, vote NO!
The City of Los Angeles...
Measure F: Valley Secession...
Mayor of the new city: Richman
Measure H: Hollywood Secession...
Friday, October 25, 2002
Thus far, the only talking head I've seen who's admitted that they were all way off base on the suspect profile has been former LAPD detective Mark Furman. Furman has been working as a consultant for Fox News of late. As I recall, his exact comment was "Boy were we wrong!" Thus far, I've not seen any other pundit admit that the "angry, white male" stereotype was a load of hooey. Rush Limbaugh also claims that he's not heard any such comments. In fact, he stated on his radio show this morning that one talking head brushed past that issue and proclaimed the herd of pundits a "part of the investigation".
Wednesday, October 09, 2002
as one might have expected, is attempting to make political hay out of the
DC Sniper attacks. And as
had been feared by some here, their approach to this involves nebulous definitions
of what constitutes a "high-powered" cartridge...
Snipers—Predictable Consequence of Gun Industry Marketing
According to Tom Diaz, Senior Policy Analyst at the Violence Policy
Center and author of several studies examining sniper culture and their
weapons, including One
Shot, One Kill: Civilian Sales of Military Sniper Rifles:
The recent outbreak of long-range sniper attacks in Maryland, Virginia,
and the District of Columbia exposes two long-term trends in gun industry
- Mass marketing of military and military-style weapons, including
assault rifles and sniper rifles and equipment, to the civilian market.
The .223 Remington rifle round that has been positively identified as
the round used in five of the shootings, for example, was originally
developed as an experimental military cartridge for the Armalite AR-15
assault rifle, which was later adopted by the U.S. Army as the M-16.
The round is widely used in such popular civilian semi-automatic assault
rifles as the Colt AR-15, Armalite M15A2, and various models of Bushmaster
carbines and rifles, among others.
- The most recent industry trend has been the marketing of 50 caliber
sniper rifles, which fire the largest bullet legal for general civilian
sale (more than twice the width of the .223 Remington) accurately over
distances as great as 2,000 yards. The 50 caliber round is capable of
penetrating light armor.
- Cultivation of a sniper subculture within the gun community.
A collateral aspect of the marketing of military weapons has been the
encouragement of a sniper subculture in the United States. This includes
the marketing of books, paraphernalia, training, and assorted gear.
Thus, although the rifle used in these shootings has not yet been identified,
the attacks are consistent with a clearly growing subculture.
Although the perpetrator of these attacks and the weapon used is not
yet known, we do know that the round being used is an example of the transfer
of military weapons development to the civilian market, and the attacks
themselves are consistent with a sniper subculture encouraged by the gun
industry at large.
As a bit of
background, the VPC's Josh Sugarman once stated that they spend a great
deal of time studying "gun magazines". (As I recall, "Soldier of Fortune"
was one of the publications he mentioned.) These people pour over such publications
looking for terms of art they can turn to their own purposes. "High-powered"
and "Sniper" are two of the latest. "Assault weapon" was a previous example
of a term hijacked from firearms publications. (A corruption of "assault
class="484112805-09102002">They do this, as they have admitted,
to confuse those who are not familiar with firearms. "Assault weapons",
which we shooters knew to be garden variety semi-auto rifles, were
spun by the VPC to look like machine guns. Reality didn't matter to the
uneducated; only perception mattered. And now we see them attempting to
spin the .223 into a .50 BMG! It's just a matter of time before their spin
machine puts the finishing touches on the term "sniper subculture". What
will come out of the spin cycle will likely bear an uncanny resemblance
to competition shooters and hunters.
Wednesday, September 18, 2002
Monday, September 09, 2002
Friday, August 16, 2002
But, looking on the bright side, as soon as I forget my price-of-a-new-shotgun-barrel lesson and go back into picking stocks, Datek has a new feature that would have helped on this one. They have a feature they call a "trailing stop". I haven't seen this anywhere else. It's a smart stop order. You set a stop and then if the price goes up, the stop "trails" it upwards. So if you set your stop one dollar below the current price and the price goes up another dollar, your stop price also goes up a dollar. Of course, if your dealing with a volatile stock, then the "T-Stop" may boot you out when there's still some upward movement left on the price, but it sounds pretty cool.
BTW: Don't ask me for stock tips. I stink at this.
Thursday, August 15, 2002
I just dumped a stock came unglued on me today. (And the little stinker was actually in the black just a few days ago!! Grrrr...) And I'm really ticked because I keep thinking of how that money could have been spent on something of lasting value... Like a new shotgun barrel!
So I'm sitting here towards the end of the trading session and I'm watching and now I'm rooting for it finish swirling down the toilet. Is this petty or what?!
It's not like I'm some big-time trader or something, but this really has me steamed. I can't find any reason for the stock to have done this. I keep checking the news and there's nothing at all. In fact, what news I can find ought to have made the price go up!
Where's it at now... GOOD! It's heading back down. I hope it rots.
HA!! A new low!!
Monday, August 12, 2002
War With Iraq
George W. Bush as the President
Saddam Hussien as Roadkill
The Saudi Family Singers as One big pain in the rear echelon
And Bill Clinton as The Beaver.
Talk of the upcoming campaign against Iraq is bringing back some familiar comments from people. One of those is "Why didn't George H.W. Bush finish the job in '91?" The old answer, of course, is that we didn't have a consensus on this from our coalition allies. And we didn't. But what hasn't been asked is "why?".
The answer ocurred to me the other day. The same coalition allies who didn't want Saddam overthrown 11 years ago still don't want him overthrown today. And the arguments presented to them then, that he's a danger to them, are even more compelling today. That Saddam didn't have the weapons of mass destruction that Iraq has today. They are more likely today to be hit by Iraq weapons than they were then. So why the opposition?
Their main argument presented then holds the answer. They claimed that a worse regime could result if Saddam were thrown out. "Better the devil you know than the one you don't" they told us. It's what constitutes a "worse regime" that frightened them then and terrifies them now.
Fast forward about two years. The US has conquered Iraq. Saddam is a greasy spot in the sand and his Ba'ath Party loyalists are enjoying the Cuban sunshine. What will the US do next? History gives us a clue. What did we do in Germany and Japan after we conquered them? We set up liberal democracies in both nations. Thus it's reasonable to assume that we'd do the same in a pacified Iraq. We'd start democratic reforms. We'd also force them to adopt a free-market economy.
Now fast forward about 10 more years. Where's Iraq? Probably dominating the economy in the Arab world. Her people would be free to elect their governments, unlike any other Arab nation. They would be prosperous. They would be the envy of the "Arab Street". THAT is what constitutes a "worse regime" to Iraq's neighbors. They fear a free Iraq and its effect on their peoples.
Conquering Iraq-the-terrorist-state would be the first step in the creation of a free, democratic, Iraqi Republic. That new republic would prosper as a result of the reforms forced upon them by the Americans. The despots surrounding Iraq would have their hands full explaining to their people how the conquered Iraqis are more free and richer than they are. The blindingly obvious answer would be that the ruling families, such as the House of Saud, are to blame. They actively keep their people disenfranchised and this chills the economy; even to a point where oil revenue does not help the average
citizen person. (Citizen isn't an accurate term since they enjoy none of the benefits of citizenship. They are more like chatel slaves than free citizens!) This, when compared to a free Iraq just over the border, would spell doom for their regimes. Their people would demand the same freedoms that the Iraqis will have one day. This is what they seek to prevent. And it is what they sought to avoid 11 years ago.
Wednesday, August 07, 2002
It should be noted that among the tax hikes in the proposed CA budget are increased tobacco taxes. Also, these taxes are regressive in nature. They attack the poor in far greater proportion to income than they do the EvilRich. So not only is the Democrat controlled legislature promoting the interests of smugglers, it's doing so on the backs of the poor!
I just read that Assembly Speaker Herb Wesson (D) is proposing a $3/pack tax be leveled on the poor!
Tuesday, August 06, 2002
"Clinton Haters" for criticizing Bill Clinton. That label implied a mindless
hatred of the man and thus any criticism could be ignored. But the truth is that
there was much to criticize. And now Der Schickmeister has once again
reminded us of the bad ol' days at the end of the 20th Century. Slick now
contends that the disaster in Mogadishu really wasn't his fault; it was
that of George H.W. Bush. (And thus, I suppose, George W.'s by extention.)
He recently let fly with this whopper...
face="Verdana, Times" size="2">"These people ran on responsibility, but as
soon as you scratch them they go straight to blame. Now, you know, I didn't
blame his [President Bush's] father for Somalia when we had that awful day
memorialized in 'Black Hawk Down.' I didn't do that."
didn't sit well with the Wall Street Journal. They set the record
straight in target="_blank" title="You may need to register to read this.">this editorial.
The facts are that the ill-fated mission to Mogadishu wasn't part of the original
mission ordered by Bush the Elder. It was an entirely new mission ordered
by, guess who, Slick. And it was the Clintonista White House that denied
the use of armor and air support to the Rangers and Special Forces units.
And it was Slick's Sec-Def, Les Aspin, who had to resign over the whole affair.
Friday, July 26, 2002
target="_blank">feature on the terrific job done by OC Sheriff Mike
Carona in the Samantha Runnion case.
Although everyone would have prefered a happier ending, Carona did a great
job of managing the investigation. Throughout last week, I was amazed at
how well he conducted the case. What struck me was how differently the case
would have been handled had it ocurred in L.A.. I'm afraid that had it all
been centered a little further to the north, PR spin would have overwhelmed
the primary job of getting Samantha back safely. Spin would have also dominated
the subsequent murder investigation. But that wasn't the case with Sheriff
Carona did a brilliant job of keeping the case the top story of every local
news outlet. This was important because it is what got literally millions
of eyes looking for Samantha and then her killer. Were Carona to have sent
out a flak to produce a few lines of happy talk, as I'm sure that the L.A.
authorities would have, then the case would have slipped from view and perhaps
never have been solved. Instead, Carona kept everyone focused on the case;
even at the risk of frightening people. A little fright is something that
we'll all get over. An unsolved case is not.
Wednesday, July 24, 2002
are looking up. They are now going to " href="http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=28383"
target="_blank">study" the idea of arming pilots. This is opposed to
the former policy of launching into a hoplophobic tizzy at the thought of
pilots with guns.
face="Palatino, Book Antiqua, Times New Roman, Georgia, Times">"It is under
discussion in terms of should we take another approach," Mineta told the
House Transportation Committee's aviation subcommittee during testimony on
Tuesday. "I have asked [TSA Administrator James Loy] to take a look at this
to see whether or not there is some alternative, even if it is lethal weapons."
A definite improvement. As FReeper FR_addict notes, href="http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/721402/posts?page=3#3"
target="_blank">Barbara Boxer's defection to the pro-gun side on this
issue is probably the straw that broke the camel's back. "I think the politicians,
both Democrats and Republicans, finally figured out the public wants their
Thursday, July 18, 2002
Monday, July 15, 2002
Deroy Murdock points out that the Bush White House is now to the left of Sen. Barbara Boxer when it comes to arming pilots. I never, ever thought that I'd agree with Boxer on any issue. I agree with her on this. The idea that an AMRAAM missile should be the first, last, and only line of defense against terrorists entering a cockpit is absurd. Murdock picks off the arguments against arming pilots like an IPSC shooter knocking down plates.
Friday, July 12, 2002
Does CNN know something about Pasadena, CA, where I grew up, that I don't? Like the presence of OIL REFINERIES?!?
There's yet another unsubstantiated, vague threat warning issued by the Feds of a possible terrorist strike on the oil refineries of Pasadena TEXAS. But CNN just now had a reporterette going off about the refineries in my old home town. And it wasn't simply a case of her getting confused and substituting the name of the well-known home of the Rose Parade; the chiron at the bottom of the screen also said "Pasadena, Calif." as she spoke. In other words, a copy writer and then an editor blew it. But, it's the poor reporterette who is now probably going to be the butt of a Texas-sized crop of jokes.
An Update: CNN seems to have caught on to the rest of the story. That being the part where Federal and local officials in Pasadena, realizing that there aren't a whole lotta oil refineries in town, call Pasadena, Texas to warn them.
Thursday, July 11, 2002
Compare these three headlines and lead-ins. Notice anything strange?
Would you believe that all three are for the same story?
face="Helvetica,Arial,Sans-serif"> Davis ekes out 7-point lead over
Field Poll shows voters against hopeful rather than for governor
href="mailto:email@example.com">Lynda Gledhill, Chronicle Sacramento
face="geneva,arial,sans-serif" size="1" color="#990000"> Thursday, July
width="150" height="36" border="0">
alt="Click to View" vspace="1">
-- Despite Gov. Gray Davis' problems with a state contracting scandal, a
budget deficit and criticism over his fund-raising tactics, California voters
reluctantly give him a 7-point lead over Los Angeles businessman Bill Simon,
a Field Poll released today shows.
Davis keeps lead on Simon
Despite unfavorable ratings, the governor edges his GOP rival.
By Amy Chance -- Bee Political Editor
Published 2:15 a.m. PDT Thursday, July 11, 2002
Buffeted by budget struggles, critics' focus on his fund raising and
lingering concerns over his leadership on energy issues, Gov. Gray Davis
nevertheless maintains a lead over Republican challenger Bill Simon as he
seeks re-election in November, according to a Field Poll released Wednesday.
The Democratic incumbent remains unpopular with voters, however, and his
advantage over Simon has slipped since a post-primary survey taken in April.
Posted on Thu, Jul. 11, 2002
width="46" height="13" border="0">
Simon cuts Davis'
lead in half
By Laura Kurtzman
Republican Bill Simon has cut Democratic Gov. Gray Davis' lead
in half -- to 7 percentage points -- but voters are becoming disenchanted
with both candidates, according to a new Field Poll.
Half the electorate disapproves of Davis, and a growing number
of voters views Simon in negative terms. Some are turning to third-party
candidates, whose support has reached 9 percent, the highest level in 10
Yup... All three are covering the same Field Poll. This is what's meant
by "spin". Two writers make bad news for Davis look good, while the third
takes bad news and makes it look worse. (Yes, this poll really is bad news
for Davis. He should be doing much better at this point in the game.)
Wednesday, July 10, 2002
Tuesday, July 09, 2002
Jonah Goldberg goes after the PoMo Virus. More specifically, he takes the Postmodernists to task for their contribution to the truly stupid and obnoxious things that some people have said since 9-11. The effects of that non-value system are, of course, broader than that. Thanks to the PoMo virus, we have millions who cannot seem to tell right from wrong. And we wonder why we get behavior like at Enron or Worldcom? If there is no distinct right or wrong, then who's to say that shredding documents or faking financial records is really bad? Perhaps the corporate values at Worldcom were merely "different", but not wrong. There's a saying: "As you sow, so shall you reap." We've taught several generations that there is no objective right and wrong. They seem to have learned their lessons well.
Eugene Volokh is wondering about those City of LA recycling cans.
This makes me wonder: Has anyone tried to figure out whether the recycling program requires more trucks and more truck trips? It's possible that it doesn't, but it seems possible that it might -- I just don't know. And if it does require extra trucks and extra trips, then I wonder how one would balance the supposed environmental benefits of the recycling program stack up against the costs -- the financial costs, the environmental costs of the extra fuel consumed, the environmental costs of the extra exhaust produced, and the traffic burdens caused by the extra trucks.He goes on to speculate as to the efficacy of government sponsored (read: politically motivated) environmental programs in general. He points out that, while he's not really an expert on environmental matters, there's something fishy about the whole thing. He has good reason to be skeptical of the "blue cans". The last I heard, the City of LA wasn't selling any of the collected recyclables. The reason? The price they'd get for the material doesn't cover the cost of collecting it. They're holding onto it in hopes that the price will rise one day.
Monday, July 08, 2002
Sunday, July 07, 2002
First, we get the Egyptian terrorist shooting up the El Al counter at LAX. Then we get the FBI trying to paint this as anything but a terrorist incident. ("Maybe it was a Mexican.") Then we get the FBI admitting that, surprise surprise, the gunman killing Jews at LAX is indeed an Arab. ("OK... so he's not some Vato who left his lowered Impala double parked outside the terminal.") But of course, that doesn't mean that he's a terrorist. He got in a tiff with a neighbor about that neighbor's American flag flown post 9-11. But he's not a terrorist. FReeper Auntie Mame reports from Irvine that the
terrorist troubled limo driver is alleged by neighbors to have spent hours watching PA propaganda via satellite TV. But he's not a terrorist. And the Egyptians point out that this sort of thing "happens all the time in the US", so he's not a terrorist. An employee (?), who also happens to be Arabic, reported in TV interview that the terrorist troubled limo driver would fly into a rage at every report of IDF incursions into PA territory. But he's not a terrorist. He'd narrowly escaped deportation a few years back. But after having been in the US for ~10 years and raising a family, he looked like just another immigrant. Hey... Just because he sent that American family back to Egypt, that doesn't meant that he was planning a terrorist strike incident at LAX. What? Do you think that he's a terrorist?!? I mean c'mon... it's not like he was meeting with Ayman Al-Zawahiri of Al Qeada or anything.
Tuesday, July 02, 2002
Monday, July 01, 2002
Sleazier things have happened in Sacramento, but not much sleazier. The Democrats pulled a fast one in the dead of night. One of the loonier bills in the hopper this year was AB1058; the so-called SUV tax. This bill would allow faceless bureaucrats to impose taxes "as necessary" to curb CO2 emissions. (Never mind that there's really no proof the CO2 does any of the harm listed in the bill!) AB1058 ignited a storm of protests from the "rabble". (Most politicians would refer to this group as their constituents, but this is California!) So AB1058 went down in CO2 -laden flames. So do the whackos in the Democrat Party back down? Of course not! They gutted an unrelated bill, AB1493, and transplanted the guts of AB1058 into it. This legislative Frankenstein then passed the State Senate. On the Assembly side, a hearing was required to pass the bill. So to meet this requirement, the Assembly Dems held the hearing in a broomcloset of an office. The Creature passed and is on its way to Gray-out Davis' desk. Perhaps if we all pitch in for a large enough
Link to the FreeRepublic.com thread.
Thursday, June 27, 2002
Wednesday, June 26, 2002
BREAKING NEWS: Justices on 9th Circuit Court contract Athlete's Tongue, a common ailment among those who attempt to injest their own feet.
An Update: It's now being reported that the Supremes have ruled that school vouchers are not unconstitutional; even if those vouchers wind up at parochial schools. Some are saying that the 9th will, en banc, overturn the Pledge ruling. This voucher ruling from the Supremes may be the shot-across-the-bow that they'll need to muster the courage to do so.
More than a few people are beginning to take a serious look at what we've been doing with our National Forests over the last century. It's been the policy of the government to suppress forest fires. The idea seems to be to make the forests look like something out of a Disney film. Of course, the trees aren't on celluloid, the animals aren't cute nor do they sing and dance, and Man has a larger role in the wild than as the antagonist for the cute, furry, anthropomorphized critters.
Before Man arrived in the New World, forest fires burned without Smokey putting them out. The wildlife and the plantlife were designed with periodic fires in mind. When the Indians arrived, they tool advantage of this living system. Part of what they did was to set fires. Of course, they subtly changed that environment, but what they brought into being has existed here for ~15,000 years. European colonists continued the practice of burning for over 400 years. It is only in the last 100 years that we stopped the practice. And it is the last 100 years that we've seen these super fires as we see now in Arizona and Colorado.
In trying to maintain a mythical forest, we've ignored the reality of what's really there. These are ecosystems that require periodic burn-offs. When those burns don't occur, the undergrowth accumulates until a superfire results. Why is this bad? Because these fires are often way too hot. Seed pods that are supposed to be cracked by low temperature fires are incinerated by these hot fires. What's left behind isn't seeds ready to germinate in renewed soil; what's left is barren, lifeless ash. It's time to get back to managing the forests as they have been for thousands of years. We should not be putting out fires. We should be setting them in the springtime when the fuel is still a bit moist. This will result in low temperature burns that renew the forest.
A related issue is hunting. The same Disney-fied bunny huggers who abhore fires also abhor hunting. But what they fail to see is that Homo Sapiens has been a predator in the New World for thousands of years. The prey species have come to depend on them just as they do the mountain lion or the wolf. Removing Man from the food chain is as devastating as removing any other predator is. Man and his hunting are as natural as Man and his fires are. The environment need Man's influence to maintain its balance. The feel good policies of the bunny huggers are destroying that balance.
Monday, June 24, 2002
you hear calls to yet again bail-out failing projects like Amtrak, it's one of those times.
It's more than a little annoying to see Dubya going along with a plan
to save what should never have been started. If private industry saw no merit
to a passenger line like Amtrak, then what made Big Government think that
it was worth while? Politics, of course; but that's no substitute for sound
business practices. Pass the Advil.
Saturday, June 22, 2002
off the end of the earth.
Well... Not quite. I don't think that Laguna Niguel counts as the end of the earth.
So how 'bout that Osama? He's released another video. OK... So it's a little reminiscent of the Onion's parody of Osama's "last warning". That's what makes the Onion piece so funny!
I just have one question: Who mans the 7-11 when he's off shooting videos?
Thursday, June 20, 2002
An update: The two guys mentioned in the story were found. They just wanted a used vehicle to use as a work truck.
This is going to be mostly a list of news stories and opinions that I find interesting. A lot of it will be from FreeRepublic.com. I hang out there under the screen name, you guessed it, Redcloak.