Monday, November 29, 2010

Higher education

In one of the classes I am taking, we are discussing user fees. This is a class for college seniors, and so you would think that the students in this class would at least be able to spell, and perhaps even form a basic sentence. The post that I am about to quote is from an online discussion of user fees, and this particular post concerns user fees charged by animal control for picking up stray animals. Read the post of one of my fellow students:

This is very benefit to the Pinellas County Animal Shelter charger citizens for picking up animals or surrendered to the agency. The bad news the agency are taking risk of taking animals who could have been infect with diseases or anything else. A fee of $20 is not much but I don't mind surrendered animals to the agency as long the animals are taking care for. I would not consider picking up with raccoon because they could have rabbies and most of them are very aggresive. Now, citizens must pay a fee for having the service taking animals away from their property. I see no wrong for this but I would like to keep animals off my property. Instead of having the service pick up the animals, It would be best to set a trap or a cage to capture the animals myself. I have a trap cage that will trap raccoons from coming to my property. Once the raccoons are capture in the cage, I would send the animal back to ther service. I was wondering do the service are letting these animals go since they have no responsible for their well being. A cage caputing raccoons is the best option of having the service do it for you.
Wow. Just wow. Our country has lowered standards to the point that this is the work of a college senior.

EDITED TO ADD: The student is an English speaking student. The last name is Bell. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

The cause of the first Thanksgiving

How did the first Thanksgiving happen? It was a celebration of a big harvest at the Plymouth colony. The Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony had organized their farm economy along communal lines. The goal was to share the work and produce equally. Each person got an equal share of the total production of the entire colony, and they truly followed the idea of "to each according to his need, from each according to his ability."

What happened here is that it wasn't long before people figured out that they got their share no matter how much or how little they worked. The colony was soon at the brink of starvation. This went on for two years, until as Governor William Bradford said in his diary: "So as it well appeared that famine must still ensue the next year also, if not some way prevented... The colonists began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length after much debate of things, (I) (with the advice of the chiefest among them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land."

In other words, they switched from communism to a private market. The results were dramatic. The next year (1623) the crop was so plentiful, they decided to celebrate with the feast that is now known as Thanksgiving.

"This had very good success," Bradford wrote, "for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been. By this time harvest was come, and instead of famine, now God gave them plenty, and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many."

What Plymouth suffered under this plan was what economists today call the tragedy of the commons. The problem has been known since ancient Greece.  As Aristotle noted, "That which is common to the greatest number has the least care bestowed upon it."

If individuals can take from a common pot regardless of how much they put in it, each person has an incentive to do as little as possible and take as much as possible because what one fails to take will just be taken by someone else.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The end of the Fourth Amendment

Those of you who read this blog on a regular basis (all 3 of you) know that I have long commented on the attacks that are regularly made on the Fourth Amendment. It is finally dead.


Eyes still a gangsta, yo

The guy from this post three years ago was my patient again yesterday. This time he got his stupid gangsta ass stabbed by a rival gang member. Idiot.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010

It's your job

For those of you who do not work in EMS, it may come as a surprise to learn that we in EMS very rarely saves people who have no pulse when we arrive. In 22 years, I have saved about 20 people out of the hundreds that I have performed CPR on. Nine of those saves have been in the last five years (three of them were the same guy on three separate occasions). By save, I do not mean that I got a pulse back only to have the patient die three days later in the ICU (like my father did), I mean that the patient went home to his family and lived a normal life.

For that reason, I have always admired those agencies that rewarded providers for a job well done, and gave them some recognition when they have a "code save." My agency is not one of them. I got an award for exactly one of those saves. Just one. It was in March of 2008 that I saved the President of the Chamber of Commerce, the Mayor's fishing buddy. I got an award for that one. Most of the time, when I ask about recognizing outstanding performance from a paramedic, I am told, "Why should I reward you for doing your job? I can't believe that you paramedics always want applause for doing what we pay you to do."

Every time a firefighter saves a kitten, he gets a write up in the paper. Isn't it about time paramedics got the recognition that they deserve?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Rubbin, touching, squeezin

By the TSA, with apologies to Steve Perry, the Constitution, and your civil rights.
(to the tune of Journey's Lovin, Touchin, Squeezin)

You opted out, but you wanna fly
Just then, we said we'd try
Rubbin', Touchin', Squeezin, your backside

If you opt out, all by yourself
You meet, with someone else
He'll be rubbin, touchin, squeezin, your backside.

We're at the airport, every every day
You gave up all your rights
Oh what can I say?
You're at the airport

It won't be long yes, till we're at home
like your lover, we'll we'll touch your bum
Then we're rubbin, oooh we're touchin, we're squeeezin, another

We tear your ticket up
Oh every day
We tear your rights apart
Oh, what can you say?
Cuz' we'll arrest you, we'll no fly you,
just shut up, take it, and try not to cry

na, na, na, na, na, na....

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Free house?

Probably not, but here is my story:
I bought my home in April of 2007 for about $240,000. I was intending to live there once I married my fiance. Together, we were making $110,000 a year, and we could easily afford the $1800 a month payments. The problem was that the bottom fell out a year later.

Being an employee of local government, my income is based upon an employer who derives income from local property taxes. Since property values were falling like a stone, our hours were being cut. By September of 2009, we were making $20,000 a year less than we were when we bought the house. Worse, the house was now worth less than half of what it was when we bought it. To make matters worse, my wife's student loans came due, and she lost her job a month later. Stuck with a falling paycheck and a depreciating asset, we made the decision to declare bankruptcy. During the bankruptcy, my mortgage bank provided copies of my promissory note and mortgage, stated that they were the owner of the mortgage and the note, and asked the judge for permission to begin foreclosing on the house. This is where things get interesting.

I had intended on returning the house to the bank as soon as they foreclosed on it. I figured that would take six months, at the most. They filed a foreclosure suit against me, and provided me with copies of the note and mortgage as proof to the court that they were entitled to foreclose on the house. The only problem? The note in the foreclosure was a different piece of paper than the one they gave the bankruptcy court. It turns out that my note and mortgage were sold to Fannie Mae in 2007, and my mortgage bank was just servicing the loan- that is, taking my payments and forwarding them on. Who knows which mortgage company Fannie Mae sold it to after that, no one knows. In other words, they committed perjury. (For my Republican/Conservative readers: Remember that perjury was considered to be enough of a crime to impeach President Clinton, so don't lecture me on how requiring that a mortgager not fabricate things in court is just a "hyper technical" legal loophole.)

I sued my mortgage bank, and they have agreed to settle out of court. It looks like they are going to write me a large check. The rub here is that no one knows who owns the rights to foreclose on my home. Until someone can prove that they are the one with the right to foreclose, I live here for free. We are at 15 months and counting.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Buy a truck, get a rifle

A Sanford car dealership is offering a voucher for a free AK-47 type rifle for customers who buy a truck. Already there is PSH over the deal:

 Ginetta told me they're doing this as a salute to veterans, but maybe they should have asked a guy next door at the VFW hall.  "Them guys next door that are giving away AK-47. I was shot 14 times by that rifle. It's a hell of a rifle. Kills a lot of people. They've got no business giving those rifles away."
What are the odds that the very rifle that shot you, a machine gun by legal definition, is the same one they are giving away? Not a chance. This is the semi-automatic copy of that particular rifle, you tool. Yes, because the rifle LOOKS like the one that an enemy combatant shot you with, it should be illegal.

In observance of that, I offer you the list of weapons that should be made illegal:

Walther PPK
The M1 Garand (The Germans called them the Selbstladegewehr 251(a))
The M1 Carbine ( (The Germans called them the Selbstladekarabiner 455(a))
The Colt Model 1903 was carried by some Japanese Officers
The Mosin Nagant
1917 Enfield (used by North Korea)
Springfield 1903 (used by N Korea)
Lee Enfield (N Korea)

Instead, I give Kudos to the dealer for supporting the Second Amendment. You could also note that the quote that is supposedly from the VFW hall is not attributed to a person, which in my mind likely means that the reporter made that quote up, especially considering that the VFW hall is not "next door," the nearest one is over 5 miles away.

Friday, November 12, 2010

South Fulton tactics in Broward County

Not long ago, I talked about the South Fulton Fire Department. This is the town fire department who provided fire services to the surrounding area, if the homeowner paid a membership fee. In one well publicized case, they allowed a house to burn down because the homeowner had not paid the fee.Many people, including firefighters, blasted them for refusing to provide services to a community that had not paid for those services.

Now it comes out that the Sheriff of Broward County, Florida is doing the same thing with regard to the City of Lauderdale Lakes. It seems that the city is $6 million behind on their payments to the county for police and fire protection, so the Sheriff is transferring those services to the parts of the county that actually pay for them.

Where are the people shouting that the police and fire should respond there anyway?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Negligent Discharges

They say that there are two types of gun owners: those who have had a negligent discharge, and those who will have a negligent discharge. A negligent discharge is when the gun goes bang without you intending it to. By that definition, you can count me as being in the group that has experienced a negligent discharge. Twice. No one was hurt. Why? Because I was careful to observe basic safety rules. Sorta. Let me explain. First, just so we are on the same page, let's review those rules:

1 Assume that all firearms are loaded until proven otherwise, and treat them accordingly.

2 Do not place your finger inside the trigger guard until you are ready to shoot.

3 Do not point the gun at anything you do not want to destroy, and that includes remembering that bullets do not always stop when they hit even an intended target. Know what lies beyond your target.

You can violate one of these rules at a time, and there will never be a problem. Some examples:
Rule one can be violated, and as long as you don't violate the other two, you are OK. Rule two is routinely violated during dry fire practice. Rule three is routinely violated when holster carrying, as my muzzle points at things whilst the gun is holstered.

Both of my negligent discharges were the result of violating rules one and two simultaneously. One of the two resulted from a violation of all three simultaneously. I shot a large hole in my bedroom mirror. It was the result of dry fire practice where I was drawing and firing at the critter in the mirror, and when I was done, I reloaded my pistol. Then I did what I had been doing for the past 20 minutes. I drew and fired into the guy in the mirror.

About a year later, I was at the range, and pulled the trigger on what I thought was an unloaded gun, and it surprised me when it went bang. It was pointed downrange, so no harm- no foul.

That was over 20 years ago. I have not had a single mishap since then, and I hope that I never will. I can help that by always being careful and following those rules.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The innocence of youth

My son got a speeding ticket back in August. He didn't pay it. He recently found out that his license was suspended two weeks ago. I asked him why he hadn't paid it, and he told me that he thought they would send him a reminder letter before they actually suspended his license.

He will be spending the day paying the ticket, the late fee, and the reinstatement fee. He is young, and I am trying to remember if I was that bone headed when I was his age, but I can't remember back that far.