Friday Quote- Capt. Lloyd W. Williams

08 Jun
June 8, 2018

“Retreat? Hell, we just got here!”

One hundred years ago this week, American forces fought the German Army in Belleau Woods. It was where the Marines earned their nickname of Devil Dogs.

A full profile of Capt. Williams.

Social Security Going Broke Faster

07 Jun
June 7, 2018

People, particularly Boomers, hate when I inform them that Social Security is not a pension – it’s welfare that’s paid with its own special tax. I get all sorts of vitriol like “we paid into the system” or “Congress stole our money” or that it’s somehow solvent because all of the IOUs in the Social Security fund are backed by the US government. Yeah, no. A government program that takes money from taxpayers and gives it to other taxpayers is welfare. The moment it leaves your paycheck it’s no longer your money. There is no lock box. It’s just a government slush fund.

That slush fund is projected to be insolvent in 2034, or just sixteen years from now. Which considering Social Security is one of the four biggest expenditures of the fed, is kind of scary. Worse, Medicare, another of the big four, will go broke in 2026, just eight years from now. What this means is that instead of money coming out of those funds to supplement the federal budget, the programs will need additional money to maintain services. Since Congress is loathe to either cut spending or significantly raise taxes, they will go to the tried and true method of borrowing more money.

That will work – for a while. Maybe even a long while. At some point, the federal government will be forced to make some very unpalatable choices. Because there will come a point when tax revenues and the credit of the American government will be outstripped by entitlements, interest, and the defense budget.

Personally, I’d like to see a phase out of Social Security and Medicare to private accounts. While I’m not a fan of government welfare, I could at least semi-support targeted welfare for those in need instead of the blanket welfare approach of the current programs.

For my Gen X and Millienial readers, the big takeaway is do not include Social Security in your retirement planning. Of you’re like me and don’t pay into Social Security because you pay into a pension plan, don’t count on that for retirement. Only count on what you can expect to receive from investments. There’s a damn good chance that there won’t be anything for us.

Junk Science – Forensics Edition

05 Jun
June 5, 2018

I call anti-vax arguments as junk science with a body count. Homeopathy does as well, too a lesser degree. Another field of bad science that ruins lives is the current forensics “science”.

A few techniques, such as DNA analysis were developed by traditional scientific processes and stand up to rigorous testing. There are many more – such as hair analysis, bite analysis, and fiber analysis – that were developed by crime labs for crime labs. They have not had the rigorous double-blind studies that would affirm their effectiveness. In all too-predictable manner, people are being wrongly accused and convicted.

From a recent Reason article on the issue:

quote”If you think that maybe even 1 percent of convicted defendants may be innocent,” replied Fabricant, “we have 2.6 million people in prison today, (so) we are talking about tens of thousands of (innocent) people!”

quoteFabricant works with the Innocence Project, a group that works to get innocent people freed from prison. Through DNA evidence, the project’s lawyers have helped free 191 people.

IMHO, many of the forensics people really think that they are doing good work to the rigors of science. Of course, so do many naturopaths and chiropractors. Further, I believe that many cops and prosecutors are relying on these

Metal Tuesday – Within Temptation – Dangerous

05 Jun
June 5, 2018

This is one that will get in my head and stay there for weeks. Yes, weeks. So, of course, I feel the need to share.

More WTF From the Parkland Shooting

04 Jun
June 4, 2018

It came out last week that the Broward Sheriff Office commander on site during the Parkland shooting refused to allow special rescue teams from going in to render aid. Six times. These were special teams made up of paramedics and police for the express purpose of getting to the wounded in a possible hostile situation. Sixty times BSO refused to let special units into a shooting. You know where the big danger is people bleeding out – and you have precious little time to save them.

Takeaways:

  1. The BSO could not have fucked this situation up more outside of grooming the shooter and handing him the gun. At every opportunity before the shooting, they failed to take action that would have put the shooter in the system, and at least made him a prohibited person. During the shooting, they dusted off their 1995 school shooting manual and had no fucking clue how to appropriately respond.

  2. You are on your own. When seconds count, the good guys may be minutes away. Even if the good guys are coming, they can be roadblocked by feckless incompetents. Carry your damn guns when you can. Carry your damn tourniquets. Carry your damn flashlights. Train on your shooting. Train on your first aid. I’m just as bad as most people in keeping my training up to date, but I am working on that.

I’m hoping this will be the last horrific revelation, but I doubt it.

Friday Quote – Erin Pallette

01 Jun
June 1, 2018

If you think the NFL was right to dump Kaepernick but ABC was wrong to dump Roseanne, you’re likely a conservative who doesn’t understand business decisions.

If you think ABC was right to dump Roseanne but the NFL was wrong to dump Kaepernick, you’re likely a progressive who doesn’t understand business decisions.

In either case, you’re a hypocrite.

One of the more pithy summations is why we need to foster a culture of free speech, not just scream “First Amendment!”

They’re Modest Because They Don’t Work

31 May
May 31, 2018

Oh look! One of the NYT writers put together a listicle of “modest” gun control proposals that will reduce “gun deaths.” Let’s see what brilliance has been spewed this time. Original text in italics.

1. Require universal background checks to see if a purchaser is a felon or a threat to others. The latest study finds that 22 percent of guns are obtained in the U.S. without a background check, and polls find that more than 90 percent of the public supports making these checks universal. Yet the federal government balks.

Let’s be charitable and say that the study is correct and that 22% of guns are purchased without background checks. It says nothing about how many of those are used in a crime. Moreover, as much as they keep repeating the 90% line, when the universal background check proposals hit the ballots, they fail or just barely pass – no where near this mythical 90%.

2. Improve background checks by allowing the federal government adequate time to perform them. At the moment, if the authorities have not completed the check within three business days, the buyer can get the gun. More than 90 percent of checks are completed within minutes, but a small number require investigation. The shooter who killed nine people at an African-American church in Charleston, S.C., in 2015 should not have been able to purchase a weapon because of a drug history, but the background check was not finished in three days — so he was able to buy it.

Except the vast majority of these flags are false positives, which means that you are keeping the gun out of the hand of someone who should have it and may need it right fucking now. And considering how often the NICS system isn’t assigned enough personnel now, I’m hesitant to trust the federal government to properly staff it to investigate all the flags. Further, if you want to improve the system, let’s make sure all the fucking records are there.

3. Pass “red flag laws” that allow a judge to order the temporary removal of a gun from people who are a threat to themselves or others. Connecticut enacted the first of these laws back in 1999, and Indiana, California, Washington, Oregon and Florida have passed similar laws since. The idea is that if friends hear someone threaten suicide or mumble about attacking a school, the authorities can remove a gun. A hearing is later held with due process protections.

Yes, let’s deprive a person of their property without due process, and on the basis of unverifiable “whispers.” Nope, that won’t be abused. And do you really think that the police will return the individual’s property when it is determined (s)he is not a danger to the community? I mean, it’s not like they’ve refused to do so in the past or made the process so expensive most people walk away from their property.

4. Get guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. Nearly half of women murdered in America are killed by a present or past lover, yet the existing laws in this area are full of loopholes.

Do you even know the fucking laws? People convicted of domestic abuse (even misdemeanor domestic abuse) are prohibited persons. That means they can’t legally purchase a gun. So, what are these loopholes? You mean like when a woman won’t press charges, and therefore the man is not convicted? That fucking sucks, but it’s not a loophole. Because we can’t deprive someone of their rights based on allegations.

5. Require safe storage of guns, preferably in a safe or at least with a trigger lock. One study found that only a minority of gun owners in the U.S. keep all their guns secure. When guns aren’t stored safely, it is easier for children to find them and play with them, for teenagers to use them for suicides, or for burglars to steal them. Some 300,000 guns are stolen each year in the United States.

Let’s start out with some real common sense. It is a good idea to keep your weapons secured and/or under your direct control. The devil is in the details – such as what happened in Heller. One other minor thing, accidental deaths by firearms (even among children) are at their lowest point – even with more guns in circulation.

6. Make serial numbers harder to file off, and require microstamping, so that cartridges can be traced back to the gun that fired the bullets.

Except that microstamping doesn’t work and increases the cost of the guns. Something that puts them out of the reach of people who actually need them for self defense. And how the fuck do serial numbers prevent “gun deaths?”

7. Invest in “smart guns” that require a PIN, fingerprint or nearby bracelet to fire. It’s outrageous that someone who steals my iPhone is foiled by my PIN, but stolen guns can be immediately fired. Smart guns shouldn’t be obligatory, but they should be an option. The way forward is probably for a police force to experiment with smart guns, giving them credibility with the public.

When the police or military start actually using them, I’ll start to these guns seriously. When they start actually using them and not disabling the smart devices, I may actually considering purchasing one. Guess what I will never do – support all guns be smart guns. Why? One becuse they significantly increase the cost and decrease the effectiveness of the gun. Two things that should never happen for items used for self defense.

Let’s take the smartphone example, since those are common items that have some sort of ID system. How often does your fingerprint scan fail to unlock your phone? Do you think it would be improved by hands coated in sweat – or blood? How often do you accidentally hit the wrong pin and have to re-enter? Do you think that would increase under stress – like fighting for your life? Do you want to waste a precious second of that fight unlocking your most effective means of protecting your life? And let’s not forget that criminals are already very good at bypassing current “smart” systems.

8. Support community anti-violence programs, like Cure Violence and Becoming a Man, that work with at-risk young people and show excellent success in reducing shootings. One study showed each dollar invested resulted in at least $5 in savings from reduced crime.

Stopped clocks and all that. Finally, something that might actually work because it gets to the real cause of “gun deaths” – people. Removing or restricting guns does not remove or restrict the violent tendencies of people born or bred into a criminal life. Those you need to either change through social and/or psychological programs. Or remove those people from general society if they are unable or unwilling to change.

9. Limit buyers in most cases to one or two gun purchases a month, to reduce gun trafficking.

Where has this worked? Virginia got rid of theirs because it was doing more to inconvenience lawful purchasers and doing nothing to stop the mostly mythical “iron pipeline.”

10. Invest in gun buybacks. Since 1994, Americans have acquired an additional 100 million guns. The average gun-owning household now has eight firearms, and as owners die there should be a big push to acquire these guns.

Again, another proposal shown not to fucking work. It’s a waste of public resources so that politicians can say they’ve “done something.” Although, it does give me a chance to pick up some guns on the cheap.

So, out of ten proposals, only one might work, and the rest are ineffective at best and cause deprivation of life and liberty at worst.

My Message To Publix

30 May
May 30, 2018

I am getting so tired of everything must be dragged into the political. If anything doesn’t toe the party line exactly, it must be destroyed. Publix recently got dragged into this when one side got mad about the company’s donations to a Republican politician, and then the other side got mad because Publix decided the backlash was enough to kill all of its political contributions.

I’m fucking tired of it. Here’s the message I sent to Publix:

I am sorry to see Publix being dragged through the mud by both sides in this latest flare up. I fully support Public’s right to contribute to causes and persons it chooses. I also support Publix’s decision to no longer contribute.

I have been a lifelong Publix customer and will continue to be so. I have joked with coworkers about refusing to move to any place that doesn’t have a Publix. For all the talk of boycotts, please know there are plenty of us who will continue to patronize your stores. Because Publix means high quality, excellent prices, and outstanding staff. As long as those continue to be core pillars for Publix, you will have my business.

Metal Tuesday- Classical Month- Mussorgsky- Pictures at an Exhibition

29 May
May 29, 2018

This is a long one, but well worth the time.

Ineffectual Responses to Tragedy

28 May
May 28, 2018

Last week, a young mother and her child were killed because some young punks decided to go racing down Bayshore Boulevard. For those of you outside of Tampa, Bayshore is a street known for having significant pedestrian traffic. According to one of the local news stations, the punks were going in excess of 60 mph when they murdered the mother and child.

What was the city’s response? Was it to add additional patrols to stop racers before they caused problems? Nope. Was it to dedicate funding to modify Bayshore to make it safer for both pedestrians and drivers? No. Was it to reduce the speed limit from 40 mph to 35?

The City of Tampa said that the change was already planned for October, but this tragedy made them implement it now. So, because of the actions of three people already breaking the law – and supposedly aimed at a group already known for flouting the law – the City of Tampa is going to put restrictions on the rest of the drivers.

Where have I heard this before?