Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Busybodies


This is busybody neighbors using stupid government rules to control their neighbors.
Apparently they have a neighbor that doesn’t like them very much and is sending the local authorities to harass them for whatever reason they can come up with. The guys in the video explain that the neighbor has called local fire, police and now some pencil pushing desk jockey from the the local government to come harass them.


Monday, July 27, 2015

The genius of the Second Amendment

The anti gunners frequently try to use convoluted interpretations of the law and of the founders to justify more gun grabs. Several years ago, I grew tired of all of the arguments and justifications and finally decided that it will boil down to this: As soon as the antis think that they can take our guns, they will.

Then the citizens will either let them, or they will fight. If they fight, then the antis have no idea what they are in for. You see, they claim that no citizen militia can possibly oppose the US military, what with its possession of fighter jets, Abrams tanks, and nuclear weapons.

What they overlook is the fact that a company of 14 tanks requires 1,000 gallons of fuel to travel 100 miles. Those same tanks must be repaired every 250 hours of operation. Keeping two F-16 jets in the air for immediate support of troops on the ground requires more than 3,000 gallons of fuel per day, plus each jet requires 12 man hours of maintenance for each hour of flight. A squadron of 18 such aircraft needs more than 400 people to keep 18 to 24 of those jets in the air, along with hundreds of other support personnel.

Each of these weapons systems are wonders of technological achievement. Therein lies the weak spot. The maintenance, arming, and fueling of these systems must, over the long term, be performed inside of fixed installations, using hundreds of personnel. Unlike our war in Iraq, the fuel and spare parts would be manufactured in the same nation where the conflict is occurring.

When a government declares war against its own citizens, the gloves come off.  Convoys of fuel trucks and spare parts are easy to raid, and a tank with no fuel becomes a fixed pillbox. A jet fighter on the ground threatens no one. So the military has to spend time guarding the convoys as well as the bases. For each soldier who patrols the area, several are needed to guard their fixed bases.

Once the bases are thoroughly guarded, the citizens attack the factories that make the spare parts, the electric lines bringing them power, and the supply trucks and pipelines that supply the factories and refineries. Now the military has to use the high tech weapons and equipment to guard those. 

So the citizens switch tactics again, and begin threatening and attacking the factory workers and their families at home. The troops cannot be everywhere.

This is why would be dictators are so afraid of an armed citizenry, even more so than they fear a foreign army. It only took 13 months for 309,000 coalition troops to defeat the 375,000 strong Iraqi Army. After that, an estimated 130,000 insurgents fought the 176,000 coalitions troops to a 5 year long standstill, and the coalition troops had the distinct advantage of having a secure pipeline of spare parts, fuel, and ammunition. 

Extrapolate that to what would happen if even a minor fraction of the estimated 100 million gun owners decided to oppose a weapons confiscation, keeping in mind that there are less than 2.5 million in the entire military, plus another estimated 1 million police officers in the nation, and at least some of those cops and soldiers could be expected to join their friends, families, and neighbors in opposing such a dictatorial move. Even so, the balance of forces will ALWAYS favor an armed citizenry over their government. 

In the case of the USA, assuming that only one in 25 gun owners opposes the cops, and all of the government's forces are in combat roles with 100% participation, the government is still at a 7:1 disadvantage. Factor in the number of troops who would be needed to maintain and guard the weapons systems and their support bases, plus the forces needed to maintain commitments elsewhere, and the forces available to actually oppose a citizen militia would fall to one soldier for every 40 or 50 citizens.

As for nukes, who cares? They are useless against citizen militias. 

The anti gunners who think that citizen militias are worthless clearly do not understand reality, nor do they understand why arming the citizens was the incredible stroke of genius.

Possible BOL

In an earlier post, I mentioned considering a place in northern Maine as a possible BOL. This place was nice, because it is secure, fairly isolated, and is self sustainable. Here are my thoughts:

Shelter:
The cabin itself was nice. It has three bedrooms and a single bath, with a large common room that serves as kitchen, dining room, and living area. Eight people should have no problem living in it, if they get along. The place is about 800 square feet of interior space, with wood and propane for heat.

Food and water:
- The water is well water, with lake water as a backup.
- There is a large garden outside. Due to large amounts of snowfall, a winter greenhouse will not be possible. The hunting is great, with large numbers of deer and moose, along with other animals like beaver, rabbits, geese, ducks, and squirrel. The cabin is on a lake, and the fishing is spectacular.

One day we were fishing for about two hours, and we caught 30 white perch, three large pickerel, and a 4 pound bass, along with numerous yellow perch, which we threw back. It made for one heck of a fish fry.
A diet consisting largely of fish is not sustainable in Maine, due to high Mercury levels in the water.

Security:
There are six cabins in the camp, with a year round caretaker. The caretaker is related to my girlfriend, and can be trusted to not stab us in the back. This is important, so that we know our storage is safe while we are not there.
The cabin is very remote, and this is a significant security feature. It is difficult to find, and is off the beaten path. This is good for security.

Communications:
The place is so far removed from civilization that there is no cell phone signal in the area. Landline telephone and internet are available, but unreliable.
When the phone an internet lines get knocked down during frequent winter storms, communication with the town of 5500 is possible for HAM operators, thanks to a VHF repeater that is located 16 miles away. The 2 meter radio in my truck had no problems reaching the repeater anywhere I went, and my 5 watt portable was usually able to reach it, as long as I was not deep in a valley.

Weather:
The winters are tough, with residents telling me that the ice on the lake is frequently more than 3 feet deep, and the temperatures dip to more than 35 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, and there is frequently three or more feet of snow on the ground.

Assistance:
The town has only 30 residents, and 25 of them are more than 50 years old. The next closest town is 15 miles away down a small road that is rarely plowed clear of snow. This town is larger, with nearly 500 residents, and the next larger town is another 20 miles away, with 5,500 residents. The nearest city is Bangor, nearly 100 miles away.

Many residents own trucks with plows on them, so they can clear their own snow. This means that you are on your own if  the SHTF. Almost everyone has a boat and a snowmobile. Boats won't get you far, however, as the lakes and rivers have large numbers of rocks in them, creating lots of rapids.

Other thoughts:
The mosquitoes and biting flies are incredible. The area is overrun with them.

The biggest problem is distance and difficulty in getting there. The cabin is 1,300 miles from my home, and the shortest route has you passing through New York, Maryland, and New Jersey, as well as skirting Washington, DC. As far as I am concerned, it would be safer to travel to a foreign country than to those socialist utopias. When the SHTF, as bad as those places are now, they will likely be no-go zones at that point.

I will keep the place as an alternate relocation site, and perhaps stage some limited supplies up there, but my search for a BOL continues.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Travelling, not dead

I spent the summer travelling. I am a Diamond member of the Royal Caribbean Cruise lines' Crown and Anchor club. I have been taking 4-5 cruises a year for the past couple of years.

In June, I took a week long cruise from Puerto Rico to St Thomas, St Kitts, Aruba, and Curacao. I had a great time exploring the islands, and I even won about $500 playing Craps in the casino. This was my first cruise of the year. We went on five cruises last year.

I returned home on the 4th of July, and left two days later on a 4,000+ mile road trip. I left from Central Florida and went to Nashville. I spent two nights there, during which I ate at a restaurant, only to discover that Lewis Black was sitting at the next table over. We left there, crossed the border into Canada, and then went across Canada to Niagra Falls. I was amazed at the large numbers of wind turbines. There were literally hundreds of them on both sides of the road.



I did all of the typical tourist stuff, and even had time to hit the casino for an hour, winning another $150. After that, we drove on to Montreal and Quebec. I really enjoyed the old parts of Quebec.

Crossing the border again, we spent a little over a week in Northern Maine. We were in a small cabin that I am seriously looking at making a BOL. More on that in a future post.



We finally packed up and headed for home, so we could prepare for the coming school year. It took us 8 hours to reach New York City, where we stayed the night with some friends in Brooklyn. It was our intention to drive the 1100 miles from there to home in two 8 hour travelling days, stopping in Fayetteville, North Carolina for the night, but circumstances prevented that. It took us 6 hours to travel the first 300 miles, and by the time we  reached our stop in Fayetteville, all of the hotels were full. We tried four different hotels at two different exits, to no avail.

We decided to travel through the night. I slpet in the passenger seat for about three hours, and then drove until I couldn't stay awake. I then took an hour long nap in a rest stop, finished the drive,  and arrived home at 9 o'clock this morning. The 110 miles that should have taken a total of 16 hours of driving time wound up taking 21 hours, plus a pair of hour long stops for a meal and a nap.

I will be teaching Chemistry and Biology this year, and our first day back at work is during the last week of July. Time to begin working on lesson plans and getting ready for work. I am already looking forward to my next trip, when I will be spending the last weekend of October in the Bahamas.


Friday, June 26, 2015

Judges

Nearly six years ago, I found myself in some financial trouble because of the housing crash. I filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and agreed to surrender the house to the mortgage holder. I figured that I would be out of there within six months. I'm still in the house, but my entire financial future is in jeopardy, because judges are ruling on what they think the law should be, rather than what it says.

It turned out that the bank who was claiming to be the mortgage holder was not, in fact, the holder of the mortgage. I asked for sanctions, and the bank settled out of court for just under 5 figures.

The bank opened a foreclosure case, which was then dismissed a year and a half later because their attorney never pursued the case, after he was caught manufacturing evidence and was subsequently disbarred. The bank was caught in their fraud by the Feds and had to pay me another $4K in a settlement. The mortgage was then sold to another bank.

That bank didn't do anything with the mortgage for over three years.  In May of 2015, more than 5 years after the conclusion of my bankruptcy, a judge in Tampa came down with a ruling that says people who file bankruptcy cannot defend themselves against foreclosures, and if they do, the court will retroactively void their bankruptcy.

As soon as they heard this, the original bank bought the mortgage back, and again filed suit for foreclosure. As soon as I was served, I hired an attorney. Now the bank is threatening to get this judge to retroactively void my bankruptcy by claiming that I am stalling the process. even though it is their own fault that the house has not been foreclosed upon: they are the ones who committed fraud, their attorneys are the ones who were disbarred, and they are the ones who sat on their hands for over 5 years without pursuing the case.


The judiciary is out of control.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Smoke and mirrors

Colleges all over the nation have historically had problems with students of African or Hispanic descent being academically weaker than other demographics. Those with an agenda are quick to point out what they believe is inherent racism in the system, often claiming that white privilege or culture is responsible for the disparity. However, this cannot be the case, because if the schools were  in fact biased towards whites, then whites would be the most successful, and Americans of African heritage would at least be more familiar with the culture than would a native of India or China.

That is not the case. In fact, Students from China, South Korea, and India do better in American colleges than do Americans, especially when taking courses that matter most: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

Purdue is having so many issues, that Indiana is planning on opening a Charter school that will be designed to prepare minority students for college in STEM courses. Dozens of minority teens are shooting each other in Chicago every weekend, our kids are being forced out of education and sentenced to a life of making french fries for immigrants, and all the while, our politicians are arguing about flags. statues of Jefferson Davis, the names of military bases, and the names of American football teams.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Systemic failure of education

My first year as a teacher is now over, and I learned a lot about the things that are happening in our schools. It was an eye opening experience, to say the least. For years, I had thought that the problem was incompetent teachers, and I was wrong. That isn't to say that all of the teachers are brilliant and hard working. No, there are good teachers and bad, hard working teachers and lazy ones, just like any other profession. The problems in our education system are widespread and systemic. I am not sure if the system is fixable. Let me explain where I saw the problems:

The parents:
Each and every parent has an outcome that they want for their kids. That desired outcome has NOTHING to do with educating their child. What they want is for their child to receive good grades, so that child can "get into a good college." The parents don't care if the child actually learns anything. The goal is good grades. If their child doesn't receive high marks, then they blame the teacher for picking on the child, claiming favoritism. Even when you show them that the exams are all multiple choice, and the correct answer was not selected by the child, the parent continues blaming the teacher. I even had one parent accuse me of substituting an incorrectly marked test for their child's test, so I could make her look bad.

The State legislature and State Department of Education:
The state continuously changes the standards that each course must meet, and the tests that the students must take at the end of the course in order for the child to demonstrate that he or she has met that standard. These benchmarks mirror common core. I don't necessarily have a problem with common core itself. As I have blogged in the past, the benchmarks make sense, it's just that there are so many things that the students must learn in only 189 days of class.

That brings me to my next point: There are 189 days of school. In those 189 days, the students spend 36 of them taking standardized tests that are required by the state. That does't count my tests, nor does it count other things like pep rallies and other school events. That leaves only about 140 days for actual learning to take place, and there were 83 benchmarks for the students in Biology last year. Benchmarks like:

  • Analyze strategies for prevention, detection, and treatment of communicable and chronic diseases.
  • Follow precisely a complex multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks, attending to special cases or exceptions defined in the text.
  • Analyze the movement of matter and energy through the different biogeochemical cycles, including water and carbon.
  • Identify the reactants, products, and basic functions of aerobic and anaerobic cellular respiration.
and so on. This coming school year, that has been expanded to 85 benchmarks. 

The school administration:
The schools take the upper half of the students who are doing well, and put them in an 'honors' course. This means that the kids who are below average in learning are segregated into 'regular' classes. At the end of the year, the students for honors and regular classes take the same state exam, so the honors classes have much higher test scores than the regular classes, and they get a bonus point towards their GPA ( an A gets you 5 points on a 4 point scale, instead of 4 points.)
This has the effect of making the regular kids look even more under performing than the honors kids.

The Federal government:
The Feds have a law which says that kids with a learning disability get 'accommodations' to helping them take exams. They are allowed to have extra study guides, extended time on tests, and other perks, but that the student's school transcripts and diplomas will not reflect the extra help. Granted, many of the students who receive them are truly in need of the extra help. The problem is that there are parents who are gaming the system, and in my opinion, these parents are not only hurting their own children, but are placing the children who are truly in need of these services at a disadvantage. 

The students:
Students have always tried to game the system, and get away with doing little. The students don't do their assignments. The problem is even worse. Things have gotten to the point where they will physically attack staff and teachers. Kids are doing and selling drugs on campus. Because of the threats of lawsuits, the achool administrators are afraid to do anything about it.

The teachers
There are teachers who, in response to the above, have simply given up. They give all of the kids at least a C. They don't enforce rules, and do all in their power to ensure that students and parents like them. Of course, there is standardized testing to worry about, but they do their best to feed students the answers to the tests at the end of the year, so they do well enough that the teacher keeps their job. Since there are no raises for teachers based on performance, there is no real incentive to excel. In fact, the only incentive is not to get hassled and to keep your job, and that only ensures that some work just hard enough not to get fired.

This year, I had the under performing half of the students. The state testing at the end of the year is graded on a scale of 1-5. A three indicates that the student was on grade level in the subject. A one indicates that they are significantly below grade level, and a five indicates that they are significantly above. The honors kids averaged a 3.82. My under performing students averaged a 2.73. Not bad, considering that many of those kids have not done well on state testing in previous years. I only had three kids score a 1: two of them failed the final exams in two other classes, and the third of them doesn't really speak English all that well. 54% of my kids scored a 3 or higher on the exam, and that makes me happy. 
I have been hired for next year to teach Biology to tenth graders, and Chemistry to the Eleventh graders. I will again be teaching the under performing kids, and  did so well that I am losing five of them to the honors track.I wish them well.

As for the system, it is broken, but I will refuse to hand out passing grades just to keep everyone happy. 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Lessons of Zimmerman

A friend of mine owns a pool cleaning business. He has several employees, who drive his service trucks out to clean the pools of his customers. Last night at 8:30 PM, he saw a man breaking into his trucks. He was a black man wearing a dark hoodie and black gloves. Yesterday in Orlando, it was over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. There is no reason to wear a hoodie and gloves, except to conceal your identity.

My friend called 911. The police did not arrive for over two hours. My friend told me that it wasn't worth it to confront the thief, because shooting him would cost him so much in legal fees, that it wasn't worth the risk of having your life ruined like George Zimmerman.

THAT is the reason why people say George should have stayed in his truck: the thugs need a safe work environment.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Clueless or lying?

President Obama says, in response to the church shooting in South Carolina: 'This Type of Mass Violence Does Not Happen in Other Advanced Countries'

The people of France would disagree, as evidenced by the Charlie Hebdo shooting.


 The people of Norway also disagree.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Figures don't lie, but anti gunners do.

The congress critters from Connecticut are proposing that everyone in the nation who owns a pistol will have to have a pistol purchase permit.  Applicants would have to submit to background checks and fingerprinting, prove they're at least 21 and a lawful U.S. resident, and be eligible to purchase a handgun under federal law.
The Connecticut lawmakers are claiming that a state law passed in 1995 that is similar to this is associated with a 40% in gun homicides in the first ten years it was in place. Let's fact check that claim, shall we?
All numbers that follow according to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report, as accessed here.

The law took effect on October 1, 1995. So we will begin with the murder rate in 1995:
In 1995, 4.6 murders per 100,000
In 2005, 3 murders per 100,000. This rate is 34.8% lower than 1995. So they are correct, there was a significant reduction in the murder rate over that ten year period.

Lets see if this was due to the law, or if this was a nationwide trend. We will compare these numbers to the nationwide statistics as a control.
In 1995, the murder rate for the US was 8.2 per 100,000. In 2005, the rate was 5.9 per 100,000, or 28.2% lower than 1995.

This would seem to indicate that Connecticut had a slightly larger reduction reduction in the murder rate than the rest of the nation experienced. Then it occurred to me: Why stop in 2005? Why not go all the way to 2013?

The US had a rate of 4.5 per 100,000 in 2013. This rate is 45.2% lower than 1995, and 23.8 percent lower than 2005.

Connecticut had rate of 2.4 murders per 100,000 in 2013. That is 48 percent lower than 1995, and 20 percent lower than 2005.

In other words, this gun control law had little, if any impact on murder rates. In fact, the trend of reduction becomes even less significant when we compare Connecticut to s state with similar population, but lax gun control laws.

Kentucky had a murder rate of 7.2 in 1995.
In 2005, the rate was 4.6, or 36.2% lower.
In 2013, the rate was 3.8, which is 47.3% lower than 1995, and 27.4% lower than 2005.

In other words, Kentucky saw a larger decrease in their murder rate than did Connecticut, and without passing any gun control laws. The US murder rate also sharply declined during the same period.
However, when you graph the above data points, you see that the slopes are identical. The differences between them are statistically insignificant.