Monday, May 21, 2007

The Air Car.

Compressed air is an efficient way of storing energy and it looks like India may get a compressed air car. While this isn't a freeway/autobahn type cruiser, it could be a viable transportation for fast developing 3rd world urban centers, where cheap transportation is in high demand and fuel prices continue to rise.
Many respected engineers have been trying for years to bring a compressed air car to market, believing strongly that compressed air can power a viable "zero pollution" car. Now the first commercial compressed air car is on the verge of production and beginning to attract a lot of attention, and with a recently signed partnership with Tata, India’s largest automotive manufacturer, the prospects of very cost-effective mass production are now a distinct possibility. The MiniC.A.T is a simple, light urban car, with a tubular chassis that is glued not welded and a body of fibreglass. The heart of the electronic and communication system on the car is a computer offering an array of information reports that extends well beyond the speed of the vehicle, and is built to integrate with external systems and almost anything you could dream of, starting with voice recognition, internet connectivity, GSM telephone connectivity, a GPS guidance system, fleet management systems, emergency systems, and of course every form of digital entertainment. The engine is fascinating, as is and the revolutionary electrical system that uses just one cable and so is the vehicle’s wireless control system. Microcontrollers are used in every device in the car, so one tiny radio transmitter sends instructions to the lights, indicators etc

The story is also indicative how such a dramatic departure from traditional transportation has to progress in countrys like India, our regulations would kill syuch a project before it was ever born.


Saturday, May 19, 2007

Being Gutless:The NRA

It might surprise some folks that I'm not a big fan of the NRA, nor its affiliate the TSRA. I got irritated with the TSRA (Texas State Rifle Association) in my bid for the Texas State Representative position. They wouldn't mention me nor most Libertarians who were running in for various positions. I felt they had a right to support whoever they wanted for what ever reasons, but to ignore completely those who were most stout in support of the right to bear arms was disingenuous. They ignored us precisely because we had stronger positions than those whpo we ran against but they didn't wish to alienate those in power. Truly the NRA was being gutless and lacking principle in their beliefs.

Not surprisingly when it comes to taking the lead in defense of the second amendment and RKBA (Right to Keep and Bare Arms) It is not the NRA but an individual supported by the ACLU. Now most NRA members would normally consider the ACLU the leftist enemy. In this case it is the NRA that is being the obstructionist for support on the 2nd amendment, and the ACLU who has been supportive of the RKBA. Its a strange world we find our selves in.

The beginning:
A federal appeals court overturned the District of Columbia's long- standing handgun ban Friday, rejecting the city's argument that the Second Amendment right to bear arms applied only to militias.

In a 2-1 decision, the judges held that the activities protected by the Second Amendment "are not limited to militia service, nor is an individual's enjoyment of the right contingent" on enrollment in a militia.

The ban on owning handguns went into effect in 1976.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit also threw out the district's requirement that registered firearms be kept unloaded, disassembled and under trigger lock.

This court case was pursued and financed the federal District Court by Robert Levy a private citizen. Mr. Levy doesn't even own a gun. He had some support by the CATO institute and the ACLU. Now this case seems destined to heard before the Supreme Court (SCOTUS). One would think that the NRA would be supportive, but instead they have resorted to deception and roadblocks. In an editorial written for the Washington Examiner, Robert Levy explains the subterfuge.

Could the National Rifle Association and its allies in Congress be undermining the best pro-gun case ever likely to be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court?

More than four years ago, three attorneys and I filed Parker v. District of Columbia, a Second Amendment case on behalf of six local residents who want to defend themselves in their own homes.

For reasons that remain unclear, we faced repeated attempts by the NRA to derail the litigation. Happily, the case survived. On March 9, in a blockbuster opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit overturned the city's gun ban — holding that "the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms."

Parker is the first federal appellate decision to invalidate a gun control statute on Second Amendment grounds. Federal circuit courts covering 47 states have held that there's no recourse under the Second Amendment when state and local gun regulations are challenged. That means Parker could be headed to the Supreme Court.

Enter Congress and the NRA. First, Reps. Mike Ross, D-Ark., and Mark Souder, R-Ind., introduced the D.C. Personal Protection Act. Then, on March 28, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, followed suit in the Senate. Both bills, pushed hard by the NRA, would repeal the D.C. gun ban.

Ordinarily, that might be a good thing. But passage of the bills would kill the Parker litigation. It isn't possible to challenge a law that has been repealed. Yet, Sen. Hutchison claims in her press release that she favors "both a legislative and judicial remedy. I hope the Parker case goes before the Supreme Court and that the court asserts that the right to bear arms is an individual, and not a collective, right. ..."


When asked to clarify the NRA's position, CEO Wayne LaPierre told us in a private meeting, "You can take it to the bank. The NRA will not do anything to prevent the Supreme Court from reviewing Parker."

Maybe so, but actions speak louder than words. The NRA's aggressive promotion of the D.C. Personal Protection Act is baffling at best.

Parker is a much better vehicle to vindicate Second Amendment rights than an act of Congress. First, legislative repeal of the D.C. gun ban will not stop criminal defense attorneys and Public Defenders from citing the Second Amendment when they challenge "felon in possession" charges. Thus, if Parker is derailed, the next Second Amendment case to reach the Supreme Court could feature a murderer or drug dealer instead of six law-abiding citizens.

Second, a bill aimed at D.C. does only part of the job. It could be repealed by a more liberal Congress. And it will have no effect on state law outside of D.C. In effect, those who support the D.C. Personal Protection Act will be opposing an unambiguous Supreme Court proclamation on the Second Amendment, applicable across the nation.

Third, the Supreme Court is more conservative today than it's been for some time, and probably more conservative than it's going to be. In the unlikely event that five current justices decide to read the Second Amendment out of the Constitution by upholding a total ban on handguns, that would be the time for Congress to act. Until then, the D.C. Personal Protection Act is premature and counter-productive.

Meanwhile, if Congress wants to help, there are positive things it can do. D.C. has no federal firearms licensees. And handguns, unlike rifles and shotguns, can't be purchased out of state. So even if Parker wins, D.C. residents could not buy a handgun.

Congress should allow interstate handgun sales as long as they comply with the law in both states. And Congress should change how D.C. processes gun registrations. The city requires multiple pictures, fingerprints, and on and on. The process can take months. Congress can mandate that D.C. officials accept the National Instant Check System used everywhere else.

My colleagues and I have drafted alternative legislation — now in the hands of selected senators —that accomplishes those objectives and more, without extinguishing the Parker suit.

Finally, the NRA has suggested that the D.C. Personal Protection Act is "must" legislation. But the D.C. handgun ban was enacted 31 years ago. Why is it only now that legislation must be passed — especially when the effect of that legislation will be to kill the best chance ever for the Supreme Court to affirm that the Second Amendment means what it says?

One might ask why the NRA would actively seek to sabotage a Supreme Court hearing on the Parker case. An arguement coulds be made that if the 2nd amendment gets sustained then the NRA would be lose their reason for being. Levy reminds us though there are other battles to be fought in this campaign. One thing is clear that the NRA is more interested in the politics of self preservation and that the real support of the RKBA is being fought and won by individuals libertarians and civil right activist while being abandoned by the NRA.

Another argument in defense of the NRA sabotaging this case is that if we win, the Antis will mobilize us and ram a new constitutional amendment down our throats. This seems like a real stretch Constitutional amendments are not that easily won and that it is us gun owners that are in power and not the Brady bunch. With the very strong possibility that the Republicans are going to lose the presidential election and Congress the time to move is now while we still have control of SCOTUS.

Reasonable and civil discussion of this can be found at the Texas CHL Forum