Friday, December 31, 2010

Legal confusion

There seems to be some confusion, some of it deliberate, about Florida's "guns in parking lots" law. The law allows citizens who possess a valid Concealed Weapons permit to keep firearms in their vehicles without fear that they can lose their jobs for doing so. It prohibits an employer from taking any action against an employee for having a firearm in his car, or for refusing a search of his car that is intended to look for weapons.

Exempted from this law are employers that operate certain types of businesses, like nuclear weapons plants and explosives manufacturers. This is where the confusion begins. Disney has stated that they have a policy that weapons are prohibited in the theme park areas, and this is enforceable because of that clause. To clear this up, lets take a look that the clause and what it means. The exemption clause reads:

(7) EXCEPTIONS. The prohibitions in subsection (4) do not apply to: (snip irrelevant parts)
(e) Property owned or leased by a public or private employer or the landlord of a public or private employer upon which the primary business conducted is the manufacture, use, storage, or transportation of combustible or explosive materials regulated under state or federal law, or property owned or leased by an employer who has obtained a permit required under 18 U.S.C. s. 842 to engage in the business of importing, manufacturing, or dealing in explosive materials on such property. (Emphasis added)

Since Disney is not in the PRIMARY business of handling or manufacturing explosives, the bold part is where Disney claims to derive the ability to exempt itself from the law. This is where the deliberate obfuscation comes in. The permit that is issued pursuant to 18 USC 842 is a permit issued by the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE) to manufacture and deal in explosives. Disney has such a permit, as they use it to purchase wholesale Class C explosives (fireworks) for their daily fireworks shows. This would seem to place Disney firmly in the exempted class of employers. Until you dig.

Disney's permit to manufacture explosives only covers a specific piece of property, the property where the explosives are stored and handled. In the county plat book, the Disney resort area is not one contiguous piece of property, but is divided into hundreds of smaller plots of land. This is probably done for tax reasons, and to avoid fire codes that would prohibit handling explosives on the same land where operating theme parks and hotels. Since this is the case, an employee working at the EPCOT, Magic Kingdom, or Animal Kingdom resort, or at any of the hotels in the Disney area would not be on the same piece of property where the employers is licensed to handle the explosives. Thus, Disney should not be exempt on any property not covered by the explosives permit.

I believe that this is the case that was being made by Jon Gutmacher when he was representing Mr Sotomayor in his lawsuit against Disney. We will never know, because Disney settled the case out of court to avoid losing, and the terms of the settlement have not been disclosed.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

As an atheist, I celebrate Christmas. To me, it is a holiday that allows us to get together with our friends and families and bond with them. Regardless of if you are an Atheist, Agnostic, Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, or any other religious stripe, we should all endeavor to get along for one day a year.

Merry Christmas

Edited to add: Thank you to all who commented on this blog, wishing me a Merry Christmas. I was unable to respond, as I was working, and we do not have internet access at work. Again, thank you. I hope the coming year brings all of you happiness and prosperity.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Ponzi Schemes

A Ponzi scheme is an investment that promises large returns on investment, and accomplishes this by paying current investors using the money of subsequent investors. The perpetuation of a Ponzi scheme depends on a constantly expanding set of new investors. For this reason, all Ponzi schemes are destined to fail as the ever increasing amounts of money needed to maintain the scheme outstrip the ability of the scheme to attract new investors.

Since the money in such a scheme is used to pay previous investors, it is never invested in monetary vehicles that expand the money pool. For this reason, growth in the funds can only be executed by growth in the pool of investors. That is exactly how the Social Security system functions. The money that is in the Social Security trust fund must by law be invested in Treasuries. For this reason, there is no money in the Social Security Trust fund, just a file cabinet filled with government bonds. Trillions of dollars in IOUs. 

This works well until the incoming "investors" begin to inevitably be outnumbered by the recipients that need to be paid. The only reason that the Social Security system has lasted as long as it has is simply due to scale, but even this has run out. For the first time since its inception, Social Security is being paid out in greater amounts than it is taking in. The collapse of this Ponzi scheme, as with all such schemes, is inevitable, and in this case, imminent.

Simply stuffing these funds into a figurative mattress by loaning the money to ourselves, and then spending it on social projects makes as much sense as a man standing in a bucket and attempting to lift himself off the ground by feverishly tugging on the handle.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Where do Mexican crime guns come from?

According to the Washington Post, they come from the United States:

No other state has produced more guns seized by police in the brutal Mexican drug wars than Texas. In the Lone Star State, no other city has more guns linked to Mexican crime scenes than Houston.

Of course, that is a bit of a misdirection, as others have shown. However, why isn't anyone talking about taking the guns away from the US Border Patrol, in light of this story?

A Mexican woman is under arrest after agents at the Andrade Port of Entry discover a stolen gun in her possession.
The 25-year old woman was taken into custody on Saturday after agents at the border discovered the woman had a gun they say belongs to the US Border Patrol.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

SVT revisited

What is Supra Ventricular Tachycardia? I think that I did a good job explaining it here. The problem that brings this up again is yet another nurse who thinks she needs to school the dumb paramedics.

I was recently training a new paramedic, and I showed him a picture of a Sinus Rhythm at a rate of 180 beats per minute. I told him that he was, for the purpose of this discussion, working at the first aid tent of a marathon, and that this was the presenting rhythm of a marathon runner who was complaining of dizziness. I use this scenario often as a training aid, and this medic, as new medics invariably do, identified the rhythm as PSVT and stated that it should be treated with 6mg of Adenosine. I asked why, and he told me that PSVT is any rhythm that has an origin above the ventricles, and a rate of over 150 beats per minute.

I pointed out to him that while SVT is technically any tachycardia that occurs above the ventricles in a purely literal sense, it is important for clinicians to recognize that what we refer to as PSVT is a dysrhythmia, and that there is not any set heart rate that separates Sinus Tachy from PSVT. The only way to tell the difference is to do a good patient assessment.

A nearby RN overheard, and attempted to tell me why I was wrong, and that 150 bpm is the standard for defining SVT.

I asked her why she felt I was incorrect in saying that the aforementioned marathon runner is probably in Sinus Tachy. This rhythm is a response to the normal metabolic demands of the runner's body. A person taking a stress test has similar responses. (After all, the target heart rate for a stress test is usually over 150 beats per minute)

Instead of answering, the RN tried to tell me that the AHA defines SVT as all tachycardias that originate above the ventricles and have a rate over 150. Sigh. Where does the AHA say that?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Clean Air=Global warming???

ALL-CLEAR IN THE STRATOSPHERE: Earth's stratosphere is as clear as it's been in more than 50 years. University of Colorado climate scientist Richard Keen knows this because he's been watching lunar eclipses. "Since 1996, lunar eclipses have been bright, which means the stratosphere is relatively clear of volcanic aerosols. This is the longest period with a clear stratosphere since before 1960." Consider the following comparison of a lunar eclipse observed in 1992 after the Philippine volcano Pinatubo spewed millions of tons of gas and ash into the atmosphere vs. an "all-clear" eclipse in 2003:

Keen explains why lunar eclipses can be used to probe the stratosphere: "At the distance of the Moon, most of the light refracted into the umbra (Earth's shadow) passes through the stratosphere, which lies 10 to 30 miles above the ground. When the stratosphere is clear, the umbra (and therefore, the eclipsed Moon) is relatively bright. On the other hand, if the atmospheric lens that illuminates the Moon becomes dirty enough, light will be blocked and the eclipse will appear dark."

This is timely and important because the state of the stratosphere affects climate; a clear stratosphere "lets the sunshine in" to warm the Earth below. At a 2008 SORCE conference Keen reported that "The lunar eclipse record indicates a clear stratosphere over the past decade, and that this has contributed about 0.2 degrees to recent warming."

This story reproduced from (emphasis added)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Protecting us from felons

It is a crime for a person who has been convicted of a felony to possess or own a firearm or ammunition. Many would think that this is a wise law, as we certainly do not want people who are dangerous criminals running around with guns. The problem that I have, is that we have redefined "felony" to mean some pretty silly things. For example:

In Texas, it is a felony to own more than 4 sex toys (chapter 43). 11 of the 2,324 acts that the Texas Legislature thinks are worthy of being called felonies, making you so dangerous as to prohibit your ownership of firearms, have to do with acts that you can commit with or to an oyster. Here is the entire list of felonies for Texas.
In Utah, it is a felony to go whale hunting in a rented boat.
In Colorado, incest is a class 4 felony, punishable at the maximum by life in prison. If either participant is under 21, it becomes a class 3 felony.
In Montana It is a felony for a wife to open her husband’s mail.
In Florida, it is a felony to access WiFi without permission. There was a man who was convicted in 2005 of using a man's WiFi without permission.

These are the crimes that are used to justify removing your civil rights.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Now for something completely different

This article about the redneck society states that you might be a redneck, if you think it is called "duck tape" instead of "duct tape." The redneck society page says it as well.

Well, if you call it "duct tape," you are wrong.  The trademarked name for the tape is actually "Duck Tape." It was invented during world war two by Permacell, a division of the Johnson and Johnson Company and was used to seal American ammo cans against water. The resulting tape was nicknamed "Duck Tape" for its ability to repel water.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

EMS delivery systems

EMS in the United States is provided in one of five ways: fire service, private, third service, public-utility and hospital-based.

The fire service model is where EMS is run by the fire department. The personnel who staff the ambulances are usually cross trained as firefighters, and assume those duties at fire scenes. Since most fire departments in the country who follow this model are seeing 80% or more of their calls as EMS runs, having firefighters sitting around, waiting for a fire seems inefficient. So while there are no fires, they are put to work running EMS calls.

The advantage to this system is that it is more efficient to minimize the amount of down time that crews have and put them to work. The disadvantages to the system are that 1) most of the personnel would rather run into burning buildings than clean up grandma's feces filled diapers. 2) If one of these people rises to the level of chief, you get an entire EMS agency that focuses more on the 20% or less of the organization's responsibilities, and virtually ignores the primary mission of EMS, and 3) To adequately serve potential patients, EMS resources must be matched to meet demand. Fire departments have historically deployed ambulances using a fixed neighborhood station model, and many continue to use 24-hour shifts. This results in lower efficiency, with too many resources during non-peak times and non-peak neighborhoods, and not enough resources during non-peak times and in non-peak neighborhoods.

The next government run system is the 'third service' model, in which EMS is run as a branch of local government as a stand-alone service. Like its public-safety counterparts, it is completely owned, financed, and operated within the local government structure. The advantages here are that everyone in the EMS organization is charged with and working on the delivery of emergency ambulance service, and management is directly responsible to local officials.

The disadvantages here: As with all government run models, it is common for third-service and fire-based organizations to be evaluated by a level-of-effort approach instead of performance outcomes. This means no repercussions exist if the service underperforms. Poor performance is often addressed by simply adding resources. Another disadvantage is that control of expenditures is dependent on the local government's budgetary and managerial processes. This makes it difficult to keep spending appropriate, as the people doing the budgeting are either invested in the process (the EMS chief) and spend too much, or they know nothing about EMS delivery (the city commission/mayor's office), and spend too little.

There is private EMS, which is where a private company provides EMS service to the community, and is funded entirely by user fees, billed to those who use the service. Since the model also provides the more lucrative non-emergency transportation between hospitals, private homes, and nursing homes. In combination with lower wages, less opportunity for advancement, and higher expectations for productivity, the provider can usually make EMS profitable. The advantage here is that this service costs the taxpayer very little, but the disadvantages here are that significant oversight is required to prevent the company from cutting too many corners, and that employee turnover and burnout rates are generally high.

There is the "public utility model," where the EMS agency acts like a public utility like the electric company. They are a for profit service that is contracted by the local government to provide service to the community, and they are paid a fee by the local government, and also bill the people who are transported to the hospital. The majority of the funding (if not all of it) is through these user fees.The advantage here is that the contractor is held to a standard, and if they do not live up to that standard, they can be replaced.The disadvantage is that this is a variation on the "for profit" system, and the disadvantages here are the same.

Similarly, hospital based systems see the same difficulties as the PUM and the for-profit models. In my area, there were two hospital based ambulance services, but they only did the more profitable interfacility non-emergency transports. A few years ago, one was replaced by a contract with Rural Metro. The other is still there, but is still relegated to interfacility transports.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Eric Sheptock has been homeless since 1994 when he last held a job, but he has a cellphone, 4500 friends on Facebook, and gets 1500 emails a day. He does it all by using free computers, begging for cash, and being paid to speak about how the government doesn't do enough to help homeless bums.

Sheptock won't take a job that would compromise his advocacy efforts or the long hours he spends tending to his digital empire, he says. In other words, the man is a professional parasite. He gets up every morning from the same bed in the same shelter, showers, gets a free breakfast, and spends the next 6 hours surfing free internet.

There are 6500 others just like him in DC. The only thing that makes him unique is the fact that he spends his days complaining that people and the government don't do enough to give him better free stuff. At 50 years old, he hasn't had a job since he was 25 years old and quit his job to be a crack addict. He first came to Washington DC to protest the Iraq war.

If you subsidize something, you get more of it. I say that it is time to stop feeding the strays with government cash. If a private charity wants to pay for these leaches to loaf all day while complaining that you aren't giving them enough, that is the charity's business. I for one, think that we have funded enough of this. If he can spend his days surfing the net and lobbying government officials for free cash, he can get a job.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Benefit cuts.

There is still a lot of talk about how public employees in general, and firefighters in particular, are overpaid. I have touched on this in the past. This talk often mentions how firefighters make large amounts of money. While it is true that there are firefighters in Central Florida that make $48,000 a year to start, let's look beyond the surface to see just how we arrive at that amount.

A firefighter who works a 24 on/48 off schedule works 2912 hours per year, which averages out to a 56 hour work week. According to Federal law (the FLSA) that firefighter gets overtime for all hours over 53 in a week. So, this overtime premium adds 156 hours to his pay, meaning that the firefighter is paid for 3,068 hours. If we divide the firefighter's $48,000 annual salary by that number, we see that the hourly rate for this firefighter works out to $15.64.

Now let's look and see what a firefighter working for a private company works out to. A private employee gets overtime at 40 hours. This means that a 24/48 schedule results in an overtime premium of 832 hours, which means the private firefighter receives 3,744 hours of pay per year. Paying that firefighter even $14.50 an hour would mean that he would make $54,288 a year.

A paramedic with no fire training starts at an average of $14 an hour in the Orlando area. Some jobs pay more (hospitals) and some pay less (theme parks). My department currently starts firefighters at about $40,000 a year ($13 an hour), but they must be Paramedics to get that rate of pay.

Every year for the last 10 years, we have had our pay and/or benefits cut. In my opinion, that is why we are seeing a serious decline in the quality of our people. This year, my department is talking about severe cuts to our pension plan, and is making deep cuts to our other benefits, including health.

I am considering leaving the EMS field to pursue other endeavors. Maybe I can get my master's degree and go be a Physicians Assistant.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Gun hysteria

Monica Sliva has a psychological problem. She complained because a Christmas tree store had a Santa Clause sign with a gun painted on him. Watch here

Friday, December 10, 2010

Don't bring a Taser to a gun fight

Brandon Lyles' first record of wrong doing came to the attention of authorities in 1999, at the age of 18. Since that time, he has been arrested for 7 felonies on seven different occasions, and convicted four times. Lyles spent 8 of the 11 years of his adult life in jail. The third time was for armed burglary, theft, and dealing in stolen property. The crimes were committed while he was still on probation. He was sentenced to six years in prison. He served less than a year, and was released on parole. Counting "time served" during the trial, he was out less than six months after being convicted. Of his third felony. (It's all here: look up the record for yourself)

Just a couple of weeks after being released, he was arrested again, for burglary, two counts of theft, and misdemeanor criminal mischief. He was convicted and sentenced to ten years. Seven years later, he was again released. A year after that, he was stopped for a traffic infraction by Brandon Coates. No one really knows exactly what happened after that, but what is known is that Deputy Coates tried to use a Taser, and was shot twice in the head and died. Brandon Lyles was later found dead of an apparently self inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Some observations:

1 A man convicted of four felonies is still getting out of prison early? Even if one is armed burglary? The reason is because jails are overcrowded with non-violent offenses for owning the wrong plant. Get rid of drug laws, so the animals can be in cages where they belong.

2 If he is willing to kill a cop, what would that armed burglar do to you or your family?

3 Gun laws do not work to prevent criminals from getting weapons.

4 A gun will not help you if you are complacent and are not ready to be more ruthless than your opponent. When the time comes, do not hesitate. Shoot him as many times as it takes to put him down.

It doesn't add up

I went to the Doctor's office yesterday, and the copay was $25. I handed the woman two $20 bills, and she had to use a calculator to figure out how much change I was owed.

We left there and went to lunch at Chik-fil-A. The bill for lunch was $13.31. I handed the lady $14. She accidentally typed in $13, and the register display indicated that there was still 31 cents due. She handed me 31 cents in change. I pointed out her mistake, and she got flustered because she didn't know how to make change. I finally had to tell her that she owed me 38 cents. Instead, she made me return the 31 cents, called a manager over to override the last transaction, and did it all over again.

Can't anyone perform even simple math anymore?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Some more family history, the early days of WW2

My Uncle John was just 16 years old on December 7, 1941. As we all know, the Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor on that day. My Uncle John (really a great Uncle) decided that he was going to defend his Country. He went to town and waited in line at the closest military recruiter's office. By the time he got into that line, he was so far back, it took him three days to get to the front of it.

Once in the recruiter's office, he lied about his age to enlist in the United States Navy. He was then sent home and told that the military was not equipped to handle the sudden influx of new recruits, and he would have to wait his turn. A week later, he was on a train headed for boot camp. I am not sure where he went to boot camp, but I remember that he said that it was less than a month long.

Uncle John was put on a ship as a passenger, and arrived in Pearl Harbor Hawaii in the first week of February. He was amazed that there was still so much destruction from the attacks that had happened just three months earlier. He was there only a few days when he was assigned to his first ship, a destroyer. Three weeks later, it was sunk out from under him. He was rescued, and was sent to a second ship, and two years later, that ship was sunk out from under him as well. His actions won him a purple heart and a couple of other citations that I cannot recall.

He stayed in the Navy after the war, and eventually retired in 1967, after 25 years of service. He was 41 years old. He remained in Norfolk for the rest of his life, working at the Navy Shipyards until he retired a second time in 1982, at the age of 56. He was classified as disabled.

I went to visit him several times during the 5 years I myself was stationed in Norfolk. He was a personable guy with a lot of interesting stories. He is dead now, as the greatest generation slowly fades away. Today is a day of remembrance. December 7, 1941. The day our greatest generation rose to the call of their nation.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A bit of family history

This is always the one day of the year that I feel a bit sad. Today is my father's birthday. He was born on this date in 1941, just three days before Pearl Harbor. He died in 2005, at the age of 63. I suppose that I should count myself lucky to have had him as long as I did, seeing as how he watched his own father collapse and die in front of him on the shores of Lake Ponchartrain in Mandeville, Louisiana when he was a small child.

Growing up in the 1940s without a father was tough. This was the era when women were not welcome in the workplace, and single parents were nearly unheard of. His mother did what she had to do, and moved into a poor neighborhood in New Orleans and tried to provide for her children as best she could. She made sacrifices, and eventually remarried to a man who had the means to care for my father and his older sister.

It was no wonder that my dad grew up to adore his mother. So much so, that after her death in the early 1980s at the age of 63, he insisted that he would not live longer than his mother. A bit over two decades later, he would get his wish. I am just glad that he got to see his own grandchildren, and that my children used to get spoiled by him. My son tells me that his favorite memory of his grandfather was being taught how to fish.

When I was a child, we would attend family reunions that required convention halls. Living in South Louisiana used to mean growing up in traditional Catholic households, where it was not unusual to have seven or eight siblings. The generation of my parents was the first generation to stop this practice. This meant that I literally had hundreds of adult relatives as a child. There are entire towns in Louisiana where I am related to nearly half the town, even if only by marriage. It was not unusual to ask a woman on a date, and later discover that I was her third or fourth cousin. I used to joke with my mother and tell her that anything outside of first cousin was fair game.

On my father's side of the family, only his older sister remains as my last blood relative. On my mother's side of the family, there remains only my mother, her two siblings, and my great aunt. I lost several older relatives in the past year, as the last holdouts from my grandparents' generation dies off.

So, it is this particular day each year that I feel a bit like I am approaching that point in my life when I must think about my own mortality.Soon, that feeling will be replaced by the joys of celebrating Christmas with my own family, and even though my own children are grown up and following their own paths, I can still play the nice Uncle to my nephew and three nieces, while dreaming of the day that I can teach things to my own grandchildren.

Friday, December 3, 2010

I can't call for help

The US government is considering requiring cars to have technology installed that prevents cellphone use in the car. The stated goal is preventing drivers from being distracted. Here are some questions:

What if I am in an accident? Carjacked and crammed into the trunk? How do I call 911?
What if I am a passenger? Is my phone still going to be blocked? Even in a taxi? What if I am a Senator in a Limo?

The government is also looking to require backup cameras in all new vehicles, because 292 people a year are killed when they are backed over. This will cost about $2.6 billion to install in the 16 million cars sold in the US each year, which works out to about $9 million per life saved, even if you assume that the cameras will eliminate all such deaths.

I am looking at the Constitution, and I don't see where that power has been granted to the government.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Things happen so fast...

I was walking out of a local grocery store while doing my weekly grocery shopping, when I a woman entering the store lunged at me and punched me in the stomach, and then ran past me into the store. A woman just outside the doors told me that the woman had been running around and screaming at other people outside. Since my wife was still in the store, I turned around and followed the woman inside, to find her talking to a man who was obviously with her.

Once the man's back was turned, she looked right at me and stuck her tongue out at me. They then walked out of the store. Witnesses to the attack told my wife and I that this woman must be crazy.

My reaction time was a little slower than I would have liked, and I thought about what would have happened had I defended myself. Would her husband have come to her aid? Would I have had to draw a weapon at that point?

My new J frame

I have a safe full of 1911s and Sigs. I have examples from Kimber and Colt. There are Sigs in every major caliber residing there. Multiple Glocks as well. I have the major calibers well covered: 9mm, .45 ACP, .357 Sig, .40 S&W. The problem here is that it is hot here in Florida, and it is difficult to conceal many handguns. My most easily concealed handgun is a Kimber Ultra Carry II,which is a Commander-sized 1911, or perhaps a Sig 229 in either 9mm or .357 Sig. 

I decided that I needed a more concealable pistol, so I bought a Beretta 3032. Although I like the easy concealability of the pistol, I haven't been completely happy with this choice, mostly because the .32 ACP cartridge is a little underpowered (in the neighborhood of 125 foot pounds). I wanted more.

So this weekend, I went out and bought a J Frame Smith and Wesson, namely a model 642 +P with the "Centennial" hammerless frame. The 5 shot hammerless revolver should be ideal for pocket carry, and with the .38 SPL +P loads coming in at about 200 foot-pounds, I think that this will be a better choice for defense. (Speer GDHP 125gr +P leaves a 1 7/8" barrel at 875 fps, giving a muzzle energy of 212 foot pounds) This will give me more options when it comes to carrying in Florida's hot climate and casual dress styles.

I took the revolver to the range, and I noticed a few things:
One, the sights suck. I don't think that will be a problem, since this is a pocket pistol with a 1 7/8 inch barrel, I am not planning on engaging anything past shooting distances of 7-10 yards.
Two: It shoots about 6 inches high at 10 yards. This is actually related to problem one, I think. Now I am nowhere near being a great shooter, but I can generally shoot a seven shot 4 inch group in 5 seconds with my Ultra Carry at 10 yards. I don't think this is a shooter problem, but I could be wrong.
Three: Recoil is rather snappy. I think this is mostly due to the 15 ounce weight of the weapon, combined with full power loads. Law of physics, there.

Now all I have to do is find some carry options and leather. I know pocket carry is in this little pistol's future. What about ankle carry? OWB? Anyone have any suggestions for good holsters?