Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Rotten to the Core

In an effort to prove that crookedness in a bipartisan occupation in government. Rep. William Jefferson of Louisiana was caught with his hand in the cookie jar with $100K in cold cash, literally.
It takes a particular kind of nerve to be filmed taking $100,000 in alleged bribe money out of an FBI informant's car, have the FBI later find the very same money wrapped in aluminum foil in your freezer - and then adamantly claim that you have done nothing wrong.

But Rep. William Jefferson of Louisiana has that rare trait - to the horror of his fellow Democrats who are hoping to convince voters that it's the Republicans who are corrupt. "There are two sides to every story," Jefferson said, reaffirming his innocence in a Capitol Hill news conference yesterday. "There are certainly two sides to this story."

Maybe so. But an 83-page FBI affidavit released over the weekend - after a raid of Jefferson's congressional office - alleges Jefferson was caught on video taking a certificate for a 30 percent stake in a Nigerian company in exchange for his political influence, including intervening with the vice president of Nigeria.

The affidavit also says that, outside the Pentagon City Ritz-Carlton in Arlington, Va., Jefferson received "a leather briefcase which contained $100,000 cash in denominations of $100 bills"- and that $90,000 of it wound up in his freezer, concealed "inside various frozen food containers." It says he referred to the cash as "African art" and laughed with a partner about "all these damn notes we're writing to each other as if . . . the FBI is watching."

Well, congressman, the FBI was, and your business partner was wearing a wire. Guilty pleas by another former partner say you took more than $400,000 in payments.

Now if this isn't disturbing enough, our congressman are attacking the Justice department for the raid claiming seperation of executive and legeslature issues.

So in the wake of the FBI's Saturday night raid on the offices of Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA), Democrat and Republican members have united in a spirit of bipartisanship to defend the Constitution. House and Senate leadership went on record to say how "concerned" they were about the action. House Speaker Dennis Hastert even waxed eloquent on how the Constitution was designed to protect against tyranny.

Wow. After sitting largely silent for more than five years of assaults against citizens' constitutional rights, our legislators have been moved to protect the Constitution because one of their own -- a man who meets contacts in hotel parking lots to accept briefcases full of money, and actually kept $90,000 in cash bundled in his freezer -- had his offices searched by the FBI.

Me, I blame the voters. We are the ones the elect the Ted Kennedys, Ray Nagins, Tom Delays, and William Jeffersons. We won't hold accountable those who defend such folks. We keep electing the same old people because they have developed power and influence. The problem is with most of these folks the power and influence is used to help themselves, instead of helping their constituency.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Who's fault is it?

Its the blame game. Everyone bitches about the price of gas, and wait until this winter when they start pulling the frozen corpses out of older peoples homes. Its all OPEC's fault, or the Oil company's making massive profits.

The real cause of the spiraling costs is our government and the regulations that they impose on the industry. Reformulations of gasoline. Regulations and licensing in bringing refinerys and oil platforms back online after Rita and Katrina have done their damage. Congress seems bent to do everything it can to obstruct reasonable pricing.
Democrats voted at 9:50 PM on Thursday May 18, 2006 to block US companies from drilling off the coastal United States. This vote passed even though China, with an awful environmental record, will be drilling for oil within 50-100 miles of America's shores. Cuba announced last week that 36 oil wells are in the works, already.
The Democrats aren't the only ones responcible though, 59 Republicans also saw fit to continue the blockade against offshore drilling.

Nancy Pelosi typifies Congressional attitudes of blaming everyone, but refusing to do anything about the high prices of oil and gasoline.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi Surprise!! voted against the drilling. This is the same Nancy Pelosi who said:

* On September 21, 2005- "Gas and oil prices are sky rocketing in our country. They are hurting consumers and they are hurting our economy, yet the Bush Administration is doing nothing to help."

* On November 8, 2005- (to House Speaker Dennis Hastert) "I hope you will join me and House Democrats in insisting that the House take three concrete measures that will provide Americans with relief from skyrocketing gas and home heating prices."

* Wednesday April 26, 2006- "Where have you been, Mr. President? The ... middle class squeeze is on, competition in our country is effected by the price of ... energy and of oil ... and all of a sudden you take a trip outside of Washington, see that the fact that the public is ... outraged about this, come home and make a speech. Let's see that matched in your budget, let's see that matched in your policy, let's see that matched in your separating yourself from your ... patron, Big Oil. Cut yourself off from that anvil that is holding ... your party down and this country down. Instead of coming to Washington and throwing your Republican colleagues under the wheels of the train, which they mightily deserve for being a rubber stamp for your obscene, corrupt policy of ripping off the American people."
Pelosi would do well, to remember the words of Pogo. "We have seen the enemy and he is us."

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Review Ruger P95

I guess I should state my qualifications so that this posting will be read in its proper perspective. I have owned several guns, and with the exception of a couple of flintlock pistols all have been long guns. I still have 2 flintlock lock guns a replica 75 caliber replica Brown Bess, and a 45 Caliber Thompson Center Hawkins. I haven't fired either in almost 20 years. I have only had very limmited exposure to modern semiautomatic handguns.

I've wanted a good handgun for a while. The great Rita Evacuation had me feeling a little vulnerable, but mostly I just wanted one to pop of a few rounds at the range once in a while. Personal protection was only minor reason for my wanting a handgun. My Brown Bess makes a fine club for home protection.

I wanted a semi-automatic of around 9mm. A real safety was important and I didn't want to spend more than $600. I decided on the Ruger stainless steel P95 for $368 at Academy Sports and Outdoors. It boasted the following features:
  • 9mm, good size amunition is cheap and plentiful. With hollow points it should make good sized holes.
  • Comes with 2, 15 round magazines. Clips this size might become rare some day. I thought the 2 clips was pretty generous and fill my immediate requirements.
  • A real safety, that when reenabled leaves the first shot in double action mode. If one feels that they want to keep the safety off, the gun needs either a long hard pull on the trigger or pulling the hammer back. A pretty neat feature as long as its an option.
  • Reputation. Ruger is an American company with an excellent reputation for service. The P95 has a good reputation for being trouble free.
  • A great price, although I was willing to spend more this gun presented good value for the dollar.
Thursday I went to go purchase my chosen handgun. I went to the Galveston Acadamy, where I was informed that they don't sell handguns in that store. I would have to go to the League City sore to get the gun. Bummer. A 20 mile ride later I was soon in the League City strore eager to make my purchase. I was in luck they still had 2 left, plus the one on display. It took at least 45 minutes to fill out the paper work, clear the police check and eventually pay for it. It took me less time to buy a house with the mortgage. The salesman helping me though was very personable and helpful.

I got the gun home and proceded to check it out. It came in a servicable case with manual 2, 15 round clips and, a piece of black sheetmetal they refered to as a magazine loader. Its usefulness would become clearer later.

I read through the manual, rather quickly and not real thoroughly. Loaded the clip with some rounds. the first couple were a sorta awkward but after about 10, it became real tough and tended to hurt ones fingers. I tried to figure out the magazine loader, there was no help to be found in the manual, eventually I figured it out and loading became a lot easier.

My next adventure was to disassemble and clean it. I struggled a bit, although once you figure things out its actually pretty easy. There are 2 alignment lines that are a little difficult to line up. It is hard to see the one small marking on the black plastic frame. Lining up the 2 points while fighting the tension of the springs all the while trying to remove slide lock. Oh yeah, don't forget to rotate the ejector pin all the way down. You have to reach in through the top to do this. It was a bit of a struggle trying to figure it all out. but once its done the first time it should be pretty easy to do it again.

Today was the fun part. I took it down to the range. Equality and I went down to the Texas City Municiple gun range. The good folks there were very courteous and did a great job of letting us have our fun while never compromising safety. We fired about 80 rounds of T's reloads that I spent about 15 bucks for 100 rounds. I loaded 15 to clip and we fired 80 rounds, we never had a problem. No jams no misfires. My wife has small hands and didn't find the bulky looking grips dificult to manage. The kick was less than what we expected, and the discarded brass went mostly up and toward the right. Although the gun is pretty ambidexterous. Left handers might find they get some brass in the chest. We both found it a little discomforting that when one puts the safety on that the hammer will come crashing home. I suppose we will get used to that. We made lots of little holes in the paper and had a great time.

All in all I'm real happy with it. It may prove that this handgun might be a little big for those who wish to wear it concealed. Its not a light weight at 28 ounces. It is a good reliable gun that is comfortable to shoot, and at e very good price. I have a feeling I'm going to be happy with this for a very long time.

Smoke on the Water: Us, or Them?

Captain Jim of Smoke on the Water posts about conservatives complaining about the President Bush's new approach on immigration. As he states:
Remember this though. I'm just as committed to: 1. The Fence. 2. NO AMNESTY. 3. Militarization of the border, as needed. 4. Instantly deporting all illegal alien felons. 5. Cutting off the "carrot", i.e; the social services which support so many millions of illegal aliens. 6. No "fast track" to Citizenship, other than that which any Legal Immigrant must accept.
We expect the Moonbats to be unreasonable, but the some on the right are taking on the same tones and use of unreasonable logic. One lesson we should learn from the left, is that progress towards ones idealistic goals takes time and patience. We need to accept victories in steps, and in the directions we are heading. When working toward goals, the directions we are headed for is whats all important. President Bush didn't give us all the want, but has made a dramitic change in direction on where were headed. He should be congradulated for giving us some of what we want, not crusified for not giving us all we asked. There is always next year. We need to press on. Jim compares the tthe reactions of the moonbats to the frothy right. I don't think he likes it.

It is bad enough to read their ragings, ravings and rants. One's head simply cannot comprehend how in their throes of hate, how any semblence of reason, logic or any sort of orderly thought process can be so lacking in an otherwise human skull.

In fact, the mere style of their hate is their hallmark, and they're justly known for their lunacy, and well laughed upon by their betters from the universe of reason and sanity. Moonbats, we call them, and rightly so.

But now, I fear for us. For the conservative blogosphere's anger towards President Bush has begun to resemble the foam flecked frothy faced insanity of the left.

And I do not like the comparison. We're better than that, and we're better than them.

Get this through your heads, my friends. We've already made a difference, we've forced the issue and are beginning to see some traction in our direction. I, too, don't think the President's speech was enough, but it was a start. A wobbly start, admittedly, but would you have no improvements at all, or can you take a breath and pause in your intemperate rage long enough to realize, that it's a start?

It's also called progress ...

Why Bother

RWR asks, "Why Is This Even Controversial?" about the mostly symbolic measure of declaring English as the national language of the United States. I don't get Harry Reid's outburst and racism charges either.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid called a proposal to make English the official language "racist" on the Senate floor yesterday.

"This amendment is racist. I think it's directed basically to people who speak Spanish," the Democrat said during the already tense debate over immigration reform.
Maybe its just that tossing around the race card is was way to step up the emotion and rhetoric., What I don't understand is, "Why bother"? English is the language our laws are written in, and the language that most people speak. Why is Congress wasting time on meaningless, if harmless bills?

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Lyda Ann in Landslide.

It looks like Lyda Aan Thomas will be serving us for another 2 years. Mayor Thomas has been one of this bloggers favorites ever since she took office in 2004. Her council has been marked by getting bussiness done with a minimum of backfighting often puncuated with a bit of humor.

Incumbent Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas seems headed to an easy second term Saturday based on early returns. Thomas was leading challenger Mike Mehlman by a margin of more than four to one.

City voters this year cast ballots on county-owned machines and the results were tabulated at the county courthouse. Galveston ballots were still waiting to be counted at 11:30 p.m.
We are going to miss
Joe Jaworski though. Its his last term because of term limmitations. We wish him lots of success in whatever he pursues.

What's Old is New

Occasionally I work on professional audio equipment, PA's amps, mixers,and stage speakers. Its always struck me as strange that so many musicians are so fond about vacuum tubes. I look at such things through an engineers perspective. Tubes are noisy, hot, need coupling. and are non-linear. Besides that the things require voltages that tend to bite the poor soul working on them. My hearing is pretty crappy though, and I don't have the ears of a true audiophile or musician. There can be no doubt though that tubes trend to "shape" a sound, whereas good semiconductor equipment duplicicates at the output what goes in more accurately. Tubes for home stereo equipment has a following, and may be even having a resurgence in popularity.
But tubes never disappeared completely, particularly when it came to stereo equipment. Hi-fi fans will tell you that nothing sounds as sweet as equipment that allows tubes to shape the sound. That’s why hundreds of happy tube fanatics flocked to the first annual Vacuum Tube Valley Expo in Piscataway, N.J., this past weekend to see old — and new — designs.
On display at the show were Kevin’s new Dynakit amplifiers — the new Mark IV (40-watt monoblock, $425-450 depending on the capacitors), the ST-35 (17.5 watts/channel stereo amp, $450-480) and the ST-70 (35 watts/channel stereo amp, $625-650).

The famous brown metal tube cage is optional. So are the tubes. Since tube gear fans have their favorite tubes, Kevin decided to leave that up to the hobbyists.

Yeah, $625. for a 35 watt per channel, amp without tubes or covers for by todays standards a modest perfomming amp. There is no accounting for taste, but if someone wanted to explain it to me I'm willing to listen.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

A Houston Towtruck Parade

I had to drive into Houston yesterday. I came up Northbound on the West Loop just before Highway 59. Traffic was pretty much bogged down, and the cause was pretty obvious. There was a center lane closed down and a police car with all its lights flashing in the center lane. As I got closer one could see a couple of tow trucks a police cruiser, and a single car. The disabled car didn't lok too damaged, bur there were in that lane 11 tow trucks. 11 Tow truck for one car! Now perhaps this was not technically in Houston, it could have been in Belair, but I thought the Safeclear towing problem was supposed to resolve this problem. What in the world were 11 tow trucks doing there and why did they need 11 of them.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Walmart Attempt to Trademark the Smiley

It's like Walmart is attempting prove that it really is the Borg and that it will assimulate all. Walmart is attempting to Trademark the smiley!
It's "ironic", a Wal-Mart spokesman conceded in a media report, that the dispute is about a smiley face, but he said the image was still "very closely identified with our company." Indeed the cheerily bright logo have been on the dark blue smocks of Wal-Mart employees, shopping bags and promotional signs around the chain's outlets since 1996. Wal-Mart also has had a longstanding relationship with SmileyWorld as a seller of its products, including clothes and stickers.
Have a good day!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

An Army of Davids

I just finnished reading Glenn Reynolds' new book "An Army of Davids". In it he expounds on how technology has empowered individuals and small groups. It is a theme that he has blogged about often at Instapundit, but in the book he also takes a peak at the some of the negatives. We are also empowering the bad guys. Hopefully, there are more of us than there are of them.

Glenn doesn't just discuss the internet, but delves into other technologies such as rocketry, life extention, and nano-technogy. These effects on society are widespread and are empowering and Glenn does a marvelous job explaining the changes on our culture. This is not a tech book, but rather a study in social science. The changes to our culture and the cultures of the world, may prove more intresting than the technologies themselves.