Thursday, November 19, 2009

How low can he go?

President Obama's "Strongly Disapprove" vs "Strongly Approve" poll difference has reached 14% - "a record" according to Kevin McCullough's Town Hall Blog.

McCullough based this comment on a recent Rassmussen Poll on Obama's "Presidential Job Approval".


GRC�|�ShieldsUP! — Internet Vulnerability Profiling��

ShieldsUP! is a useful tool which collects no cookies and does no harm to your computer, but tests your internet connection to determine vulnerabilities (such as unshielded ports, etc.) The tests are free, you need not subscribe, they don't know who you are except that they do have your IP address and any information they can derive from that.

(You don't know what information is available from your IP address? Good reason to check it out. You don't know what your IP address is? I do. Go to the end of this website, scroll up half a screen, and check the little sign the mouse is holding up.)

It takes a while to run some of the tests, but in non-prime service hours I ran the full port test in 68 seconds. Result: all of my ports were found to be "stealthed", as opposed to "closed" or even (shudder) "open". That is, if someone tries to ping me the port pretends that I don't exist and doesn't even attempt to respond ... which some 'closed' ports may do.

My protection is from Norton Internet Security, a subscription service which I renew annually. It includes Norton Antivirus and Firewall protection. I recommend it highly, it's worth $45 $69.99 before $30 rebate a year to me.

You may not be interested in this, but it's a very Geek thing to do, don't you think?

Dems alarmed as independents bolt - Alex Isenstadt -

Dems alarmed as independents bolt
Mounting evidence that independent voters have soured on the Democrats is prompting a debate among party officials about what rhetorical and substantive changes are needed to halt the damage.

Following serious setbacks with independents in off-year elections earlier this month, White House officials attributed the defeats to local factors * and said President Barack Obama sees no need to reposition his own image or the Democratic message.

Since then, however, a flurry of new polls makes clear that Democrats are facing deeper problems with independents -- the swing voters who swung dramatically toward the party in 2006 and 2008 but who now are registering deep unease with the amount of spending and debt called for under Obama's agenda in an era of one-party rule in Washington.
A few thoughts for the Democrats among us:
  1. If the independents are dissatisfied, how must the Conservatives feel?
  2. Democrats can't survive without the Independent vote. Time to pay attention to independent polls.
  3. Hey, Democrats! Lose the Socialist program, start working on bills of less than 2000 pages and 2 trillion dollars. This would be a big, BIG help if you're really serious about the 'transparency' and 'hope & change' thingies. We hope you won't change us beyond recognition, okay?
  4. Americans are proud of America. This would be better supported if our President didn't feel inclined (sorry for the pun) to bow subserviently to foreign rulers. How many 3rd World people want to immigrate to Saudi Arabia or Japan anyway, huh? Show a little backbone, Dude!
  5. For our president to pubically appease Communist Radicals (Saul), native terrorists (Bill), and Home-grown America-Haters (The Rev) are not examples of the America that most Americans wish to be admired. Why can't the Pres change his ways and pay public homage to patriotic Americans? This would present a more consistent image of traditional American Values, which would be less confusing to people of other countries. If we aren't demonstrably ashamed of our country, and the people who made our country great, maybe people in other lands can understand why we are proud to be Americans. Most everyone else in this country is on track with this program, why shouldn't our President synchronize with American Pride?
  6. Colgate sells toothpaste by telling the world about the benefits of its product. Shouldn't the American President sell America in the same way?
  7. * "Local Factors" are local in the same way that Americans are local: we are all Americans, and should be marketed as an admirable, coherent product with universal appeal. Wall Street gets this; Madison Avenue gets this. Why can't our President understand this? When Local Factors demonstrate dissatisfaction, a smart CEO pays attention. When he doesn't, his company goes down the tube. This is almost as fatal to a government as it is to a business corporation. The difference is that a President has four years to prove his worth, while a corporation is only as viable as the next stock-holder meeting -- which is an annual event. Perhaps we should hold Presidential Elections more frequently?
You couldn't run a successful business the way Obama runs the greatest nation in the world.

Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned, by the man who has never been the Chief Executive of a business.

Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned by the electorate?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Liquor Store Clerk Shoots, Kills Suspected Robber

Liquor Store Clerk Shoots, Kills Suspected Robber

WILMINGTON, Del. - A liquor store clerk shot and killed a suspected robber overnight in Wilmington, police said.

Up to three men wearing masks entered the Favors Liquor Store on Walnut Street around 9:30 p.m. Guns were allegedly pointed at the clerk inside, and money was demanded.

Police said the 55-year-old clerk soon pulled out his own gun and started shooting.

One suspect was hit, dropped his .22-caliber gun, stumbled 40 feet outside of the store and died. Police don't know if the clerk's gunfire might have struck the other hold-up men, who fled.

Hartford vs New Orleans; 1-0

The USS Hartford, a submarine based in Groton, Connecticut, collided with the USS New Orleans, a Navy amphibious ship, on March 20 in the Strait of Hormuz. It caused a fuel leak and minor injuries to 15 sailors.

Go, Navy!

The Birdman of Vermont

Police Say Vermont Man Stole Bus, Posts Joy Ride on YouTube
Jake Rehm stole a half-million dollar bus from his former employer and took his girlfriend on a multi-state joy-ride. Apparently, he just wanted to share the grandeur of the fall colors with his GF and his birds. *

"It was inspired," Jacob Rehm, 38, said outside court Tuesday. "I felt inspired."

The vehicle's owner, Lamoille Valley Transportation, was not amused. Neither were authorities, who charged Rehm with theft of services, operating a vehicle without owner consent and trespassing. Neither was a judge, who ordered a competency evaluation for him

Rehm, a former bus driver for Lamoille Valley, took the bus from the company's depot Nov. 2.

Accompanied by friend Natalie Page, 38, he headed south toward Allentown, Pa., but turned around somewhere in Connecticut after he realized the $200 worth of diesel he had bought wouldn't get them to Pennsylvania and back. Police caught up with him in the northern Vermont town of St. Johnsbury after the company's owners were told he had been seen driving through a schoolyard waving at children.

And he took a video, which he posted on YouTube.

* Starting with a shot of guinea pigs and caged parakeets, in the last shot of his video Jake is shown cuddling with one of his no-longer-caged birds ... kissing it ... and then tucking it back into his shirt.

No word yet on whether the bird will take the full ride a la Burt Lancaster, but Jake is obviously riding for a fall.

On his YouTube video, Jake posted the following comment:
I am here going to set up some rules, for all who watch this vid and want to respond: THIS IS NOT THE PLACE FOR YOU TO SHARE NEGATIVITY, NAME CALLING, ETC. THIS IS A WHOLESOME, POSITIVE FORUM. WHATEVER YOU LITTLE PUCKASSES WANT TO SAY OTHERWISE, KEEP IT IN YOUR PIEHOLES OR SAVE IT FOR YOUR DIARIES. Only interesting, or civilized feedback is welcome (don't make me have to say it to you personally). Peace & Love, JS
Jake, I think you're going to experience enough "negativity" over the next few years to last you for a lifetime.

Next time you take the bus .... "Leave the Driving to US", eh?
Personal notes to Jake:
Dude, you are "Jake Rehm", not "Jack Kerouak". You're fifty years from Easy Rider. Also, you're not Ken Kesey, you're not a Merry Prankster nor did you steal the Majic Bus.

As much as we admire your 60's style hippie free life style, you have given it all up to spend the next few years in the pokey.

Oh, and when you get out? Your girlfriend won't be waiting for you. And neither will your guinea pigs and your parakeets.

Bummer, Dude!

SWMBO UPDATE: November, 2009

At the ARPC match last weekend, many people approached me to inquire how SWMBO is doing.

I think I have come up with almost the perfect response to these well-meaning inquiries:

She's doing about as well as can be expected, under the circumstances. But she misses her friends, going to matches, spending time on the range, and shooting.

She wanders around the house muttering "I've got to shoot something."

I assume she means targets, but in any case I'm safe. I robbed all of her .38 Super ammunition months ago so I could shoot matches.

She has lots of .38 Special ammunition left, but I'm still safe; those are reserved for her Home Defense guns. She's too proud to shoot Revolver under any but the most dire situation.

Geeks With Cameras

You've got to have the right camera ...

... if you want to get the right pictures.

Upon recomendation from SWMBO, I'm kinda looking at the Samsung TL220 at $299. The Samsung TL225 costs another $50, but the price difference doesn't include features I want. (They include PAL video format, for example, which are only useful outside the U.S.)

Both Samsung cameras cost more than I want to spend, but if I were certain that they include all of the features I want, I would be willing to pay the extra buck$.

As the saying goes: "The thrill of paying a low price is undermined by the disappointment of low quality".

Or perhaps more accurately: "Some people will by anything if they can get a bargain price; others will pay a higher price to get what they want."

But the bugger of the deal is, it doesn't tell me specifically that the video includes sound, or whether you can zoom while filming video. The good news is that there seems to be a 20 minute limit on the video length, while the Canon A1000IS seems to limit videos to 3 minutes.
Number of Recording Pixels
Still Image: 3,648 x 2,736 (Large), 2,816 x 2,112 (Medium 1), 2,272 x 1,704 (Medium 2), 1,600 x 1,200 (Medium 3/Date Stamp), 640 x 480 (Small), 3,648 x 2,048 (Widescreen)
Movie: 640 x 480 (30 fps/30 fps LP), 320 x 240 (30 fps) available up to 4GB or 60 minutes per clip, 160 x 120 (15 fps) up to 3 minutes per clip
No, I don't understand the seemingly contradictory specifications, but I'm not buying until I can work it out; it seems to me that the lower (15fps) density should provide a recording time than the higher (30fps) density.

And again, I don't know if either of the mentioned cameras allow zoom-while-recording in video mode.

Unfortunately, I can't find a reliable authority which can provide all the detail specifications I'm looking for. I would go to a camera store, which now-days seem to offer digital cameras at least as frequently as they to traditional 'film' cameras, for help -- except my experience in brick-and-mortar stores seem to demonstrate that:
  1. the prices are almost invariably much higher than internet sales;
  2. they don't provide any better customer service than do internet stores;
  3. they are no more knowledgeable about digital camera specifications than are available online.
So I'm still looking for a real authority, who can answer my questions about the available digital cameras.

I was spoiled by the HP camera, until it died on me. With a little fiddling, I can still get it to work. Unfortunately, HP no longer makes or sells digital cameras, and their customer support is non-existant.

Apologies for the digression here from my usual USPSA-themed articles. Oh, wait ... I spend more times on politics and cultural themes than I do on shooting themes, don't I? Perhaps I'm less geekishly one-dimensional that I thought. Anyway, the purpose of my interest in photography is mainly involved with shooting USPSA matches with gun and camera, both.

At the last ARPC match, I had the best intentions of filming the New Shooters so they would have a record of their first match. The demise of my camera stopped that, just as my inability to find my bifocals stopped my ability to hit targets consistently.

I definitely have to get back to Open Division! Both in firearms, and in cameras.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Looking for a new Digital Camera

My HP R967 camera has bit the dust. Died. Given up. Failed to Function.

Whatever description you choose, it is no longer usable. The battery latch mechanism is no longer functional, and it just doesn't work.

This is the third HP camera which I have bought, but which broke for one reason or another.

My first HP (R767) was made unusable by my carrying it in my hip pocket on an extremely hot day. The display screen was electronically (though not physically ... I think) shattered. The viewfinder still works, but I can't see the image I'm recording. Well, it was unable to capture high-density photos .... every picture I took came out a little grainy, and the color was distorted toward the blue end of the spectrum.

The second HP (R867) was drenched when a bottle of water was dumped in the camera bag ... in which the camera was being carried ... during the 2007 Croc Match. After I dried it out, I discovered that videos are all captured in a 'reverse color' format.

This third HP (R967) will no longer hold the battery in place. I can't do a thing with it, it's totally dysfunctional. Too bad; it had some features which I liked (including the ability to zoom while recording videos).

I've wasted a lot of time searching for a replacement compact digital camera on the Internet, and in desperation I'm asking my readers if they can recommend a replacement. It's no good looking for a new camera from Hewlett-Packard. Apparently, HP no longer makes or sells digital cameras of any description.

Here's a list of the features I'm looking for:t
  • Must not only take still pictures (preferably 10-12 MP density), but also be capable of recording video (motion) with sound.
  • Must record videos in MP3 or similar format; I don't want QuickTime videos.
  • Price Range: under $400.
  • Must be able to zoom while recording Video .
  • LCD (or similar) display should be over 2"; would prefer to also have a view-finder but this is not a deal-breaker.
  • Still photo options must include delay, should include burst, and should include date/timestamping.
  • I don't care much about "face recognition technology", but it should be able to shoot into the sun without color distortion.
  • Should have a 'sports' or other stop-motion "high-speed capability to take still photos without blurring the image.
  • Highly prefer SD-chip memory capability; I have several of them and replacement, while becoming increasingly inexpensive, would be inconvenient. I already have a battery recharger which is designed for this kind of flat battery. (I would include photos if I had a working camera.)
  • Highly prefer "HP R07" rechargeable battery type, because I have several and spare batteries are expensive.
  • Zoom lens is, of course, a 'given'.

Bottom line: I want a compact digital camera with both still and video (with sound) capabilities that I can afford and will give me some unique options when filming videos.

In other words, I want my old camera, but I can't find one. If you own, or know of a camera which fits all of these criteria, I hope you will let me know.

I finally found one on AMAZON - another used HP R967 for under $200. I bought it.

But I'm still disenchanted with HP Digital Cameras. I've gone through too many to be phlegmatic about their durability, and I would rather have something that is a but more robust. This new/used R967 is only a stopgap.

The request still stands: if you are aware of a compact digital camera with the capabilities I've described, please let me know.

I really want a good camera for taking pictures of USPSA matches.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Obama revives talk of U.N. gun control

Obama revives talk of U.N. gun control: "Arms Trade Treaty"

George Bush wouldn't have it, and George Bolton, his Ambassador to the United Nations fought it.

What is it?

It's the "UN Programme of Action on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons".

Mildly stated as a series of "Whereas" and "Therefore", and professing the right of the "individual" to possess weapons for defense, this measure is cunningly designed to provide justification for 'states' (or nations) to rigidly control the commerce in small arms and ammunition to anyone who doesn't represent a state or a nation. (See UN A/Res/63/23, and UN A/64/228, and pp. 3-5 of A/63/PV41 for example.)

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton isn't Bolton, and President Barack Obama isn't Bush. Between the two of them, Hillary and Obama are deliberately moving this nation toward the signing of a treaty which would force the United States to accept the supremacy of the United Nations to dictate National Policy in regards to the Second Amendment.

Here are the lead paragraphs to the WND article:
Gun rights supporters are up in arms over a pair of moves the White House made last month to reverse longstanding U.S. policy and begin negotiating a gun control treaty with the United Nations.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton first announced on Oct. 14 that the U.S. had changed its stance and would support negotiations of an Arms Trade Treaty to regulate international gun trafficking, a measure the Bush administration and, notably, former Permanent U.S. Representative to the United Nations John Bolton opposed for years.

Two weeks ago, in another reversal of policy, the U.S. joined a nearly unanimous 153-1 U.N. vote to adopt a resolution setting out a timetable on the proposed Arms Trade Treaty, including a U.N. conference to produce a final accord in 2012.

"Conventional arms transfers are a crucial national security concern for the United States, and we have always supported effective action to control the international transfer of arms," Clinton said in a statement. "The United States is prepared to work hard for a strong international standard in this area."

Gun rights advocates, however, are calling the reversal both a dangerous submission of America's Constitution to international governance and an attempt by the Obama administration to sneak into effect private gun control laws it couldn't pass through Congress.
This seems to reference to the "... international transfer of arms", but in fact it would affect the ability of every American to "Keep and Bear Arms". Or to purchase, exchange, trade or give firearms to every other person or merchant.

This isn't a Paper Tiger. You may be asking: "What's the big deal? The Second Amendment protects our rights. What we agree to in terms of International Trade has nothing to do with us."

The problem is that the United States is close to signing an International Treaty, and this is the single move which can immediately and irredeemably counter the U.S. Constitution, or any law.

Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution reads:

All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into, before the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation.

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

In other words, if the United States (in the person of President Obama) signs this treaty, and it is ratified by Congress, then all existing laws ... up to and including the Constitution ... are over-ruled.

Remember the words:
all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
That means exactly what it says.

If we enter into a treaty with the United Nations, and that treaty is or can be interpreted as disallowing the purchase or ownership of Small Arms, then that becomes the Law of the Land and it cannot be reversed by the Constitution, State Law, or any court in America.

This is exactly the kind of tool which any wanna-be Dictator would elect to impose his own private vision of a disarmed citizenry. In fact, I'm unclear on the process ... would it be necessary for this treaty to be ratified by Congress? Can the president sign this treaty and unilaterally impose disarmament on the strongest country on earth?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Introl to USPSA: 09-10 and 09-11

The ARPC match this weekend not only allowed the November Introduction to USPSA class members to complete their training and certification, but it also served as a forum for earlier class members to 'show their stuff' now that they are no longer under the burden of proving that they can shoot a match safely.

All five of the graduates from last weeks Introduction to USPSA class graduated with honors: they engaged all targets of the six stages safely, and at least one (Brandon) won an award for finishing high in his division/class.

We emphasize in the Live Fire portion of instruction that participants should conscientiously avoid trying to move and shoot fast, but Brandon is such an accurate shooter that he prevailed against several difficult stages; he certainly performed much better than I did in most stages.

(In my own defense, I mention that I competed without the bifocal glasses which permitted me a clear view of the sights. But Brandon shot accurately, avoiding the temptation to shoot faster than his skills and experience would permit; I was impressed by him, and I doubt I could have beat him even if I had been better able to see my sights.)

Ultimately, all of the class participants proved to be not only very capable/accurate shooters, but comfortable with the USPSA rules, gun-handling, and competitive priorities.

It's a joy to see competent shooters enter into the realm of USPSA/IPSC competition. I wish I had been able to watch all five of the class of 09-11 (November, 2009) during their First Match. Lord knows I was struggling to complete the match with a reasonable finish, but they not only did well on Standard stages, but also on the more bizarre Field Courses. (Match results available here.)

When I left for the match, the ambient temperature was 32 degrees; when I arrived at 8am, the temperature was 36 degrees and I had finally defrosted my windshield and the rear widow of The Egregious Explorer. I "armored up" with Rain Pants and Rain Coat, but in truth the weather was much more mild than I had expected. I kept telling my squad-mates that it would "rain before we get out of here", but it didn't rain all day -- disregarding the pessimistic forecasts of In my mind, that only proved that even God was willing to ignore His previous intentions to prove me wrong.

I love it when a plan comes together. I often wear rain-gear and even carry an umbrellas, on match days which coincide with dubious forecasts. If it rains, I'm a reliable prognosticator; if it doesn't rain, I have obviously sacrificed my reputation to the benefit of my squad. This weekend, I may have appeared to be A Dolt but I consider myself a Weather Hero.

Well, we take our successes where we can.

Long story short: we had a lot of fun with 09-11 shooter Brandon (who kicked our butt), and 09-10 shooters Gerry-with-a-"G" and Luc. All new shooters learned a lot ... including the proper definition of "unsupported strong-hand shooting" and how to engage a multi-target stage when shooting Production Class. ("Don't count your rounds; determine where you need to reload and follow your ammo-management plan religiously. Except for when The Plan doesn't work.")

We always enjoy new shooters, and these were no exception.

Oh, and if you are a New Shooter, please feel encouraged to bring your Better Half to the range. We like to meet the family, and be assured that we will do our best to coerce her to start shooting the matches, too.

SWMBO says so.

DC Sniper: J.A. Muhammad Dies Whining

John A. Mahummad, the "D.C. Sniper", is dead.

And good riddance to him.

You probably remember that he and his adolescent side-kick, Lee Malvo, sniped random citizens of the Washington, D.C. area for several weeks before they were caught thanks to a citizen's phone call to the police "on suspicion of" being the people the police were eager to apprehend. (If it's a citizen, can they be "profiling"?)

But at the last few hours of his life, there was one final ironic item which deserves to be mentioned, if only to illustrate the huge gap between reality and Political Correctness, as exemplified by one of Mahummad's attorneys, Jon Sheldon.

I mentioned this during an idle moment at this weekend's ARPC match, and my squad members found it difficult to believe.

In the last hours of Muhammad's life, his attorney complained that the sentence was to be executed on November 10 ... the day before Veteran's Day. Apparently, Sheldon found it egrigious that Muhammad, a veteran of the Gulf War, would not be allowed to celebrate Veterans' Day before he was executed for the random murders of several innocent American civilians.

And several Supreme Court judges agreed, to some degree:

Although the execution will come seven years after the shootings, it will be less than six years after a jury found him guilty of capital murder.

Supreme Court justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor objected to the court's haste in declining Muhammad's case Monday, saying it "highlights once again the perversity of executing inmates before their appeals process has been fully concluded."

Stevens, writing for the three, said Virginia had short-circuited the process by scheduling Muhammad's execution for Tuesday night, earlier than the court would normally have reviewed his petition.

"By denying Muhammad's stay application, we have allowed Virginia to truncate our deliberative process on a matter -- involving a death row inmate -- that demands the most careful attention," Stevens wrote.

He said he did not disagree with the court's ultimate decision that Muhammad's petition did not warrant the court's consideration.

After the court made its decision, Jon Sheldon, part of the team representing Muhammad, expressed a similar concern about the rapid pace of the review.

"In its effort to race John Allen Muhammad to his death before his appeals could be pursued, the state of Virginia will execute a severely mentally ill man, who also suffered from Gulf War syndrome, the day before Veterans Day," he said.

[emphasis added]

We do respect and honor our military veterans, but there is a limit to this. Military service is no excuse for murder, especially under the circumstances which characterized the predations of John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo.

Speaking as a veteran, my honor is besmirched by this man and this boy. Shooting unarmed civilians is not a legitimate act of war; it is, rather, an act of terrorism which conforms with the definition of terrorism.
1. the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, esp. for political purposes.
2. the state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terrorization.
3. a terroristic method of governing or of resisting a government.
The goal of these two villains, in my opinion, was nothing less than to establish "... the state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terrorization." The John and Lee show had no apparent purpose above mayhem and intimidation.

To have allowed John Allen Muhammad to live to celebrate Veterans' Day would be to imply honors which he did not deserve.

I'm glad he's dead. He worked for his punishment, he earned it, and earlier would have been better. To me, delaying his much-deserved death for seven years was an undeserved delay of justice.

That he coerced his young protege' to acts of violence is not the least villainy of which he is guilty.

Obama Bows (Part II)

Obama Bows In Japan To Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko

Not content to show obeisance to the Saudi Arabian King, President Obama this weekend bowed deeply and reverently to Japan's Emperor Akihito. Adding injury to insult, as it were, Obama also bowed to Empress Michiko ... albeit much less deeply, and with much less respect. Is Obama misogynous?

How low can he go?

Well he didn't prostrate himself.

This incident reminds us of Obama's bow to the Saudi king six months ago:

Consider this Saudi Incident to be "Obama Bows (Part I)". I declined to make much of this first incident, but today it seems as if our president is willing to show himself as subservient to other national leaders. I am not happy with this loss of "face".