Monday, February 28, 2011

Legislature to Overrule Florida Supreme Court

A constitutional amendment that would take court procedural rulemaking authority away from the Supreme Court and give it to the Legislature has been introduced in a House subcommittee that has been studying the issue.

Currently, Art. V, Sec. 2, provides that the Supreme Court has the authority to adopt practice and procedure rules for the court, and the Legislature may repeal any rule by a two-thirds vote of both chambers. It also includes some technical language about the court and the district courts of appeal submitting questions on military law for an advisory opinion to a special military appellate court.

The amendment repeals all of that, and instead specifies: “No court shall have the power, express or implied, to adopt rules for practice and procedure in any court. Court rules of practice and procedure may be recommended by the Supreme Court to be adopted, amended or rejected by the legislature in a manner prescribed by general law. If there is a conflict between general law and a court rule, the general law supersedes the court rule.

Make no mistake, this change is intended to neuter the Supreme Court. The state Legislature of Florida intends to make the Supreme Court of the State a useless appendage. When any branch of government seeks to overrule the others, watch out.

Photographing farm > crime than vehicular homicide

State Senator Jim Norman, a Republican from Tampa, wants to make it a First Degree Felony to photograph a farm without the owner's permission. A first degree felony carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison, a $10,000 fine, and prohibits you from ever owning a firearm or voting again.

This means that the second conviction for enticing a child into a building to molest him is a lesser crime than taking a picture of cow or an orange tree from the side of the road. Sexual battery on a child over the age of twelve that does not use force is only a second degree felony.

Tell me again how Republicans are champions of the Constitution. Sorry, they are no better than the Democrats.

Electric Vehicles

With fuel prices rising, I hear people claiming that they want to buy an electric car to avoid the high prices. Look at the numbers:

It takes 30 kWh to go 100 miles in an electric car. The cost for that at 13 cents per kWh (that is what my utility charges) is about $3.90. The cost to go the same distance in a 35 mpg car at $3.50 a gallon is $10. That would save you $610 a year in fuel if you were to drive 10,000 miles a year.

The catch is that the charging station will cost from $700 to $1500 installed. The all electric Leaf is $32,000 with a tax credit of up to $7500. So even assuming the best case, the Leaf will cost you $25,200. The gas powered Toyota Yaris costs $13,000. A difference of $12,200.

This means that you would have to drive the car for 20 years to break even. The savings just isn't there.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Free speech, indivdual choice, and unions

The Wisconsin legislature wants to outlaw collective bargaining. A law eliminating collective bargaining is an assault on the First Amendment. Elimination of collective bargaining would mean that the employees no longer have the ability to assemble and petition their government for a redress of grievances.

Assembly is the key to free speech. One voice can be silenced, thousands cannot. E pluribus unum. Out of many, one.

Since all laws are enforced by the police power of the state, any law that is passed carries with it the implicit threat that force will be used if it is disobeyed. Therefore, a law that outlaws the right of employees to collectively bargain outlaws free speech, under the threat of violence. When free speech is eliminated, there are few options left to a people who want to be free. None of them are pretty. The Republicans in this case have decided that if they cannot win against the unions at the negotiating table, they will simply outlaw them, and thereby eliminate their free speech rights. Free speech for everyone, as long as you say things the Republicans like.

To me this isn't a union issue, it isn't about anything other than free speech. If you allow the government the ability to silence a group that you disagree with, who will defend you when the government comes to silence YOU? Since the Republican legislature wants to silence free speech, the people (union employees are people) are protesting, and doing it in a non-violent way. The government responds by sending police to violate the rights of the protesters and ordering them to leave, and the police refuse, even though the police would be exempt from the law that prohibits collective bargaining. Maybe there is hope for the Constitution.

The only thing I am addressing with this post is the attempt to outlaw collective bargaining. This is far too large of a topic to tackle all things union. Any other topics, like how public employees being disciplined have due process rights, or any other union topic will have to wait for another day.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Military rank structure

The military rank structure is an anachronism, and needs a major overhaul. Our current system of officer and enlisted is a left over from the days of feudalism, and being hundreds of years old in its basic concept, no longer fits into our modern society.

It used to be that officers were the educated gentry, and enlisted troops were illiterate proles who were little more than cannon fodder. During battles, it was once against the rules of combat to deliberately target officers, as it was believed that the officers were needed to keep the troops in check, or massacres would result. The concept of "officer and a gentleman" is used to assume that somehow, an officer is better than an enlisted man, and is thus entitled to better housing, food, and working conditions.

That is no longer how our society functions, nor is it how warfare functions. Gone for the most part are the days when enlisted troops were unable to read and write, and were good for nothing but serving as bullet stops. To become a commissioned officer requires one to have attended a college with an ROTC program, or have graduated from a service academy. During my time in the military, I knew some good officers. I also knew some officers who couldn't lead a platoon of soldiers into a whorehouse without pissing them off.

Instead, a modern system of leadership and coordination could be used to overhaul the current system and make the management, leadership, and control of the armed forces more responsive, and better able to manage the war. Are there any businesses that are still using the same organizational structure that they were using 40 years ago? Our military has been using the structure that it has for over 200 years, and that structure itself was copied from European militaries who had been using it for hundreds of years as well. Something to think about.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Constitution is law, except when I disagree with you

Let me clear up my position on the union issue:

Collective bargaining is fundamentally a First Amendment issue: the right of a group of citizens to assemble and to petition their government for a redress of their grievances. It doesn't matter if the group of people are getting a government paycheck or not, the constitution applies to everyone, and making exceptions because you don't like how they are using their constitutional rights is exactly what tyrants do. (See the anti gun groups, the TSA, PATRIOT act, DUI checkpoints, etc.)

I do think that states should be a 'right to work' state, in that no one should be REQUIRED by law to join a union in order to have a job. Implicit in the First Amendment's protection of my right to assemble and speak freely is my right NOT to assemble and speak. As a non-union employee who works in a union fire department, that right is important to me.

I also think that it should be illegal for a public employees' union to strike or stage a "sick out" in order to force the government to bow to their demands. Anyone who refuses to report for work should rightly be fired.

So where would unions get their power? Through the constitutional exercise of their rights to speak, redress grievance, and vote: just like any other citizen. To say, as Sofa has done in comments:

So they [Unions-ed] are organized against the people.
Is to state that the government employees, the union members, are not people who are endowed with rights under the Constitution. It doesn't matter that the people voted to "do something about that" as my First Amendment right to speak, assemble, and petition my government are no more up for a vote than my right to keep and bear arms, or my right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.

That means the Constitution doesn't grant any government the power to tell workers that they cannot collectively bargain.

Don't like it? Change the Constitution. Until then, I will do what I have done since I swore an oath at the age of eighteen years: defend that Constitution against ALL enemies, foreign and domestic.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Never talk to the police

If the police are questioning you in a professional capacity, telling them ANYTHING is NEVER in your best interest. This child and his parents learned that lesson the hard way.

The job of the police is to show that they are doing something about crime. They do that by finding reasons to arrest people. If you talk to them long enough, they will find a reason to arrest YOU. There are those who believe that telling the truth will help curry favor, or get the police to cut you a break. More often than not, you give a cop who had nothing on you enough evidence to take you in.

Shut up, get a lawyer, and let the lawyer do the talking. Anything you have to say that will prove your innocence will still prove your innocence a couple of hours later when the lawyer gets involved. Police receive hundreds of hours of training in how to use your words against you, so keep your trap shut.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Sit down and shut up

There are many people who claim that public employees should not have the right to collectively bargain. There are two examples in my own list of blogs that I regularly read.This post is about why I disagree:

For starters, what is collective bargaining? Collective bargaining is where a large group of people band together to bargain (collectively) with another group of people. Examples of this include public employees banding together to form a union. This union then sends representatives to negotiate working conditions with their employer, the taxpayer. The taxpayer himself has formed a collective unit that appoints representatives to negotiate on their behalf. The representatives of the taxpayers then negotiate with the representatives of their employees, and a deal is reached.

By using their representatives to prohibit the employees from being able to negotiate, the taxpayers seek to gain an unfair advantage over the employees by making sure that they are the only ones at the table. A "take it or leave it" approach, if you will.

Aside from the moral issue, there is the constitutional one. How can you prohibit one group of citizens from exercising their First Amendment right to associate with others and petition their government for a redress of grievances while allowing others to do the same? How is the right of groups like the TEA party, NRA, AARP, or NORML to collectively lobby for government largess for their members any more valid than the right of the IAFF, FOP, or NEA to do the same for THEIR members? Does the mere act of drawing a government paycheck negate your constitutional rights? Or does it only count when it is your own ox being gored?

I am not arguing in this post that the pay and benefits of any given public employee are appropriate for the position, all I am saying is that denying any group the right to negotiate those benefits is the equivalent of telling them to sit down and shut up. Certainly not the behavior of a free society. "I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend with my life your right to say it." is a mere platitude to both the Liberal Left and the Conservative Right. To both of those camps, your right to speak is dependent on what you have to say.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Capnography for ROSC patients

There was a case recently where a paramedic was working a code on a patient in PEA. During the code, the EtCO2 of the patient rose from 12mm to 27. The medic correctly assumed that his patient was a ROSC patient. He stated so to the ED staff when he turned the patient over to them. The doctor ignored the medic, and stated that the increased EtCO2 meant nothing, and declared the patient dead. Some time later, when the staff went in to prepare the patient's body for delivery to the morgue, they noticed the patient trying to breathe. The code was resumed, with the result that the patient finally expired several days later. Lawsuits are pending.

The evidence is overwhelming, capnography is a reliable predictor of ROSC in an arrest patient. Here are some studies to prove my point:

Analysis of the Efficacy of Waveform Capnography Monitoring Using Bag-Valve-Mask Ventilation. Wales, RA. Society for Technology in Anesthesia 2011.
  End Tidal Carbon Dioxide Levels Predict Cardiac Arrest. Manyam H. Society for Technology in Anesthesia 2011.
End Tidal Carbon Dioxide Predicts Cardiac Arrest. Manyam H, Thiagarajah P, Patel G, French R, Chaluvadi S, Balaan M. American Heart Association  Resuscitation Science Symposium 
Analysis of the Efficacy of Waveform Capnography Monitoring Using Bag-Valve-Mask Ventilation. Wales RA, Dyott W. Prehospital Emergency Care (NAEMSP). January 2010; Volume 14, (Suppl 1), 48-49.    
  Capnography as a Survival Predictor in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation.Farinha LF. Resuscitation, Volume 81, Issue 2, Supplement 1, December 2010, Page S57.Sleep and Pulmonary Rehab
Partial Pressure of End-tidal Carbon Dioxide – Reliable Criteria for Termination of Non-traumatic Cardiac Arrest Resuscitative Efforts in the Field. Grmec et al. Resuscitation, Volume 81, Issue 2, Supplement 1, December 2010, Page S26.
Capnography during CPR in SUMMA 112: Preliminary Study. Diez-Picazo LD, et al. Congreso Nacional SEMES 2009. June 2009.

Monday, February 14, 2011


There are two things I noticed today, and both of them are related:   


Today, I was in Saint Cloud and decided to stop by the Orlando Utilities Commission office that is there, in order to pay my bill. The office is inside City Hall. Just inside the door of the OUC office is a security guard who is armed with a Glock handgun. (I am assuming a 9mm, since that and .38Spl are the only calibers that armed guards can carry under state law.)

Just behind the security guard, there is a sign on the wall that reads "No weapons, firearms, or knives with a blade greater than 3.5 inches are permitted inside." (or words to that effect- I will get pictures next time, if possible)

According to the OUC website:

OUC-The Reliable One is a municipal utility owned by the citizens of Orlando. It provides electricity and water services to customers in Orlando, St. Cloud, and parts of Orange and Osceola counties.

This story was running on the local cable news channel:

Anyone who visits the Osceola County Administration building will now have to go through a metal detector. Osceola County Commissioner John Quinones said it's in response to both local tensions and recent national incidents.
 I am not sure if the entire building requires entry, or just the Commission chambers, as the actual press release implies that the magnetometers will only be used for commission meetings.

Why these two stories are important:

The state legislature passed 790.33 some years ago, which states:

Except as expressly provided by general law, the Legislature hereby declares that it is occupying the whole field of regulation of firearms and ammunition, including the purchase, sale, transfer, taxation, manufacture, ownership, possession, and transportation thereof, to the exclusion of all existing and future county, city, town, or municipal ordinances or regulations relating thereto. Any such existing ordinances are hereby declared null and void. (emphasis added)
The law goes on to say:

It is the intent of this section to provide uniform firearms laws in the state; to declare all ordinances and regulations null and void which have been enacted by any jurisdictions other than state and federal, which regulate firearms, ammunition, or components thereof; to prohibit the enactment of any future ordinances or regulations relating to firearms, ammunition, or components thereof unless specifically authorized by this section or general law; and to require local jurisdictions to enforce state firearms laws. (emphasis added)
 So, a county that prohibits firearm possession in a county administration building cannot prohibit CCW holders from possession weapons, unless that building is a police station, jail, a meeting of the legislative body, or a school administrative building. The OUC office in City hall, and the general administrative offices of Osceola county do not fit any of those restrictions, therefore the sign and the magnetometers are in violation of state law.

It seems like government offices state wide are beginning to react to the school board shooting in Bay County and to the shooting in Arizona by violating the law themselves. We need to watch this, and do what we can to bring them into compliance with the law.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Virtual firearms training

Gander Mountain opens their new virtual training range this weekend, the first of its kind in the nation. I took the tour today, and I decided that it is great.

There is an indoor shooting range that is absolutely state of the art, with ranges out to (I think) 75 feet. Calibers up to .300 Winmag can be fired. The live fire is not the best part.

They have a virtual shooting range. Upon entering the virtual half of the training facility, everyone must pass through a magnetometer to ensure that no live weapons or ammunition enters the virtual training area. This is to prevent accidents. There are virtual shooting simulators, and the last thing anyone wants is an ND with a live weapon. The store employees will store your weapon in a locked room for the duration of your time inside the virtual facility.

All of the virtual weapons are Glocks. They are CO2 powered, and when you fire them, they recoil like the real thing. A computer records your hits and misses.

There is a shooting range that uses virtual weapons. It is set up like a conventional shooting range, with shooting lanes and video reproductions of cardboard targets at varying ranges.

There is a 180 degree and a 300 degree simulator that can place you in shooting scenarios like clearing a building, a convenience store robbery, and various other confrontations. Sometimes you are called upon to shoot, sometimes you cannot shoot. When you are in the simulator running these scenarios, there is always a certified firearms instructor with you.

The instructors are all former police firearms instructors, and the prices for the academy run from $40 to $75 per half hour session. considering that there is no time wasted loading magazines, changing targets, or money spent on ammo, this should be a pretty economical training tool. As soon as I go for an actual shooting session, I will report on how it was.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Drug lethality

Of the drugs that Americans routinely abuse, many of them are quite toxic. Take a look at this:

The median lethal doses for different substances in a 100kg male:

nicotine 5 g
Cocaine 9.5 g
aspirin 20 g
THC (main ingredient of marijuana) 127g
alcohol: 180 g
caffeine 192 g

acetaminophen (Tylenol): 200 g
table salt: 300 g

Sucrose (table sugar): 2900 g

The issue here is not so much the total lethal dose, but how close you must be to the lethal dose in order to get the effect you are looking for. The largest cluster of substances has a lethal dose that is 10 to 20 times the effective dose: These include cocaine, MDMA (often called "ecstasy") and alcohol. A less toxic group of substances, requiring 20 to 80 times the effective dose to cause death, include Rohypnol (flunitrazepam or "roofies") and mescaline (peyote cactus). The least physiologically toxic substances, those requiring 100 to 1,000 times the effective dose to cause death, include psilocybin mushrooms and marijuana, when ingested. I've found no published cases in the that document deaths from smoked marijuana, so the actual lethal dose is a mystery. My guess is that smoking marijuana is more risky than eating it, but still safer than alcohol.

Alcohol ranks at the dangerous end of the toxicity spectrum. So despite the fact that about 75 percent of all adults in the United States enjoy an occasional drink, it must be remembered that alcohol is toxic. This makes me wonder why we spend so much money on the drug war. Nevermind, the answer is profit.

Friday, February 11, 2011

We are surrounded by idiots

A young paramedic, who works for a different agency within the system, but we share a common medical director, came to me this week and wanted to confirm that he was correct in arguing with his supervisor on a certain medical issue. It seems that he ran a call on a woman who was complaining of vertigo and shortness of breath. He found a weak radial pulse, and the monitor (ECG) showed a sinus rhythm at a rate of 86, and her BP was 84/50. Our young medic started a line, and was preparing to give some fluids, and that is where the trouble began.

The supervisor that was on scene felt for a radial pulse, and got a pulse of 36. He insisted that this meant that the patient was bradycardic, and that the young medic administer atropine. The medic refused, and an argument ensued. Our young medic was instructed to "treat the patient and not the monitor" and ordered again to give the atropine. Young medic refused. After the call, our young medic friend was written up for insubordination and failure to follow orders, and sent to see the QA department. The QA department SIDED WITH THE SUPERVISOR, and now the medic faces a discipline hearing, where he is likely to get suspended. The woman from QA told him not to depend on the monitor, as she has seen a Lifepack get a BP and an O2 sat from a mannequin.

So he came to me, and asking for my take, and I gave my opinion. For those who may not know, here it is: The reason for the discrepancy between the patient's pulse and the rhythm on the ECG was caused by blood pressure. It takes a systolic blood pressure of about 80-90 for a person to have a palpable radial pulse. Since the patient's BP was so close to 80, it is likely that some pulses were reaching that threshold, while others were not. Since the monitor showed a heart rate of 86, giving Atropine would not have corrected the issue, as this was likely a fluid issue, or perhaps even a problem with vascular tone. In either case, the appropriate treatment would have been fluids, and if that failed, Dopamine should be considered. I told the medic that he should get the Medical Director involved, and get him to come to the discipline hearing if possible.

I am really starting to become convinced that there are very few competent people working anywhere in our health care system. That includes everyone from medics and nurses to the doctors. I am not sure where these idiots come from, or how they manage to pass the state test, but they are out there, and they actually get promoted to positions of power. Unbelievable.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The food police

Michelle Obama's pet cause is childhood obesity, and spends a considerable amount of her time lecturing us on how we should be eating healthy, even to the point of advocating for regulating the restaurant industry. Except, look at the menu for the White House Superbowl party: bratwurst, kielbasa, cheeseburgers,
 and deep dish pizza. This is not the first time the first lady has been caught in her hypocrisy. In October, the first lady veggie gardener downed a cheeseburger and French fries in a Milwaukee diner. I recently blogged about how people always SAY that they want healthy foods, but when it comes down to it, people actually buy food that isn't so healthy. The reason for this is obvious: rice cakes covered in bee spit might be good for you, but it tastes like crap.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Redefining the language

The Second Amendment covers ARMS. That means all of them- machine guns, grenades, artillery, jet fighters, naval warships, and yes, even nukes.

If you disagree that the 2A includes nukes, you don't simply redefine the words of the COTUS, that is the same thing that the Brady bunch does now. The founders had a method for changing the Constitution: the Amendment process. I am sure that 3/4 of the state legislatures would have no problem passing an Amendment that exempts nuclear weapons from the Constitutional definition of arms.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Excellent ideas in culinary marketing

DiGiorno's pizza recently announced that they will be packaging a frozen pizza in the same box with a batch of cookie dough. You can have pizza and freshly baked cookies for dinner. What a great idea.

Of course, the nanny media is already bitching about how companies are making us fat by producing articles that we will buy, instead of producin what we SHOULD be eating, if only we were smart enough. The typical complaints about how it is bad for your health to eat pizza and cookies, and how companies should be offering healthier alternatives are heard.

Look, the grocery store offers healthy alternatives. I was just shopping today, and there were sections of the store that contained vegetables and all sorts of healthy stuff. Don't like pizza and cookies? Then don't buy them.

I will tell you that my brother owns a vending machine business, and he is constantly asked to carry healthy snacks. Every time he puts healthy snacks in a machine, they do not sell. The people counter that it is his fault, because he puts junk food in there WITH the healthy snacks, and people cannot make the healthy choice when there is junk food there as well.

The problem is obvious to these people- we have too much freedom for our own good.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Getting things done

You have to admire the Democrats for one thing: They know how to get stuff done. When they had control of the Congress and Whitehouse, they rammed through the Health Care law without even bothering to read it. When they do not have control, they browbeat the Republicans into submission by screaming about the need to be "bipartisan" and the Republicans cave.

When that doesn't work, they attach amendments to bills at the last minute, and those amendments sneak through laws that would not normally pass. The Executive signs orders that have the effect of law, thus bypassing Congress, on laws that would normally not see the light of day.

They lie, they cheat, they steal their way to power. This is the reason why the founders intended to limit the extent of the power of the Federal Government.

I just read a column by Walter Williams, the man that I would like to see in the Whitehouse, and I love a couple of the quotes from it:

"A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever."- John Adams

"Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated." - Thomas Jefferson

"With respect to the two words 'general welfare,' I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators." - James Madison

But what do those guys know, they are old white men who lived over 100 years ago, don't you know.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Back door gun bans

Let's say that as a government, I want to make it illegal for citizens to carry guns, but a certain founding document and political expediency would prevent me from doing so. Instead I decide that I will create a legal climate that forces others to do so in my stead.

1 I make all property owners legally liable for any shooting that any guest or employee perpetrates against any other guest or employee. That means anyone who is on your property that shoots anyone else, the victim can sue the property owner.

2 You also make the law so that the property owner is exempt from the above situation, as long as the property owner prohibits weapons on the property.

This means that the property owner has been coerced into prohibiting weapons on the property, as there is a large reason to prohibit weapons, and no reason not to. In this case, it is not the property owner's freely made decision to prohibit weapons, that decision was made under duress.

Furthermore, this decision and legal climate will do nothing to stop crime, while preventing the law abiding from defending themselves. The net result of this would actually increase violent crime, since criminals are now free from the threat of defensive force.

That is the reality of "no guns" policies in America today. Since a property owner would be sued by anyone who is shot, and legally insulated from liability if the shooter violated a property owner's prohibition on weapons possession, no one can rightfully claim that a no weapons policy of a property owner is a choice that was made free from coercion.

This is why Pizza Hut prohibits its drivers from carrying weapons. They could be liable if an employee shoots a robber, but are held harmless if the driver is killed by an armed robber. There are those who say that the employee could always choose to work elsewhere, but since the law is the law everywhere, there is no real choice. Very, very few employers choose to take the chance of facing a multimillion dollar award just to save an employee that can be replaced with a simple want ad.