Saturday, October 20, 2012

Random thought on the root causes of gun control

Am I off-base here, or does the rise of federal gun control (GCA’34) shortly follow the expiry of the last waves of patents protecting the IP behind the semi-automatic box-magazine-loading handgun; and subsequently bringing cheap, portable, self-defense that fits in a pocket and doesn’t require lengthy training or recharge times? It’s not the only factor, but the availability of cheap pocket semis to the lower classes would tend to aggravate the fears of The Powers That Be, I’d think.

It looks like the semi-auto handgun was invented around the turn-of-the-century. I know from Tam’s historical articles on handguns that the patent wars surrounding repeating firearms makes the current Android-Apple spat look like weak beer indeed. Patent wars make products more expensive for a variety of reasons. Once those patents start expiring, cheap knock-offs are bound to follow, driving down the prices of the originals.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Home Ownership is more fun than a barrel of monkeys on nitrous oxide

This week has been a hat trick of home maintenance: Plumbing issues, electrical work, and a potentially worrisome issue with a badly-installed hot water heater with a Heath Robinson exhaust and a mild case of Galvanick Corruption. On the bright side I have a new drain for the tub including u-joint and overflow, double the power supply and almost triple the separate circuits, and a plastic cap whose extraction cost was likely more than that cap's weight in gold, helpfully left by the previous owner in the aforementioned plumbing for us to discover.

The rule of thumb of 1% of the current value of the house placed each year in a maintenance fund appears to have been a wise one. That's not the "improvement" fund, that's the "maintenance" fund. Improvements come out of the discretionary budget, though upgrades are allowed when maintaining, and the french drain and sump was rated "maintenance" not  "improvement."

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Thinkgeek is carrying the battle mug; that milled aluminum high-capacity beverage container with the 4 M1913 rails.
But a new assault weapons ban is the magic dust needed to pull out a victory for Team MSM's chosen champion?

(Amusingly enough, Thinkgeek HQ is just down a very short road from NRA HQ. Wonder if they have team building events at the range.)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

For everyone worried about China owning our debt

Owe the bank $100K and don’t make your payments? You’re in trouble. Owe the bank $10M and don’t make your payments? The bank’s in trouble. I am old enough to remember the worries about the Japanese buying us out, or otherwise using their economic power to make us dance to their tune. How’s that working out again?

Thursday, October 11, 2012


I thought Radley Balko was at least aware of the doctrine of Separation of powers, and then I find his writing this (in an answer to “You were just sworn in as President of the Union. What are your first TOP 5 actions as declared in your inaugural address?”
‎1) Abolish the DEA, ATF, Dept. of Commerce, Dept. of Education, Small Business Administration, DHS, and ICE. I'm sure there are others.
2) Check for communicable diseases, a criminal record, and ties to terrorism. Otherwise, make it legal, easy, and user friendly for anyone who wants to come the Unites States to work to do so. Also, repeal all import restrictions, subsidies, tariffs, and other barriers to (true) free trade.
3) Replace the income tax with a carbon tax and, if and when it becomes necessary, a national sales tax. Both will be structured progressively. All other deductions and loopholes will be eliminated. The federal government will no longer care about how, where, and why you earn your income.
4) Bring all the troops home. The Department of Defense will become an actual department of defense, not a "department of war-waging, nation building, and humanitarian missions." Troops will be deployed only in the event of a direct, imminent threat to U.S. national security. Then, their mission will be to destroy the threat--and then return home to their families.
5) The Justice Department's first obligation will be enforce the 14th Amendment. DOJ will still investigate terrorism, as well as fraud and theft that crosses state borders. But its primary mission will be to investigate and prosecute abuse and corruption by elected officials, along with police, prosecutorial, and judicial misconduct.
1) I guess the President could shut them down, from a purely technical point of view. He can’t fire the bureaucrats, and the resulting constitutional crisis as Congress fights back will be impressive to view – from orbit. Possibly geo-sync. Or luna-sync. In a history book.
2) The President cannot unilaterally rewrite immigration law
3) Congress all the way, specifically the House of Representatives. (And how exactly do you structure a sales tax “progressively,” anyway?)
4)Well within the powers of the President
5)Well within the technical powers of the President, though practically the established bureaucracy will make it impossible. Civil Service regs prevent firing of uncooperative members.
Overall, the wishlist of a left-handed wookie. Verdict: well-meaning, but wrong. As a platform for a party, I could get behind a lot of it. As much as I can get behind that of the current republicans, to be frank (3 to 3.5 out of 5, depending; #1, 2-ish, some of the intent of 4, and go 5 go!). As actions of the President of our constitutional republic, not so much.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Rituals of the changing year

It’s officially fall, I just flushed a few gallons of water out of the single-pipe steam heating system in preparation for the “first firing” of the year, later tonight. Less rust that I was expecting, perhaps dumping the entire boiler after shutdown this spring helped.

The actual boiler and heating plant is a fairly modern natural-gas-fired job, but the piping and radiators are vintage to the house or the expansions depending on where they are. I have discovered I prefer steam radiators to forced-air heating, actually. The piping is a mad Rube Goldberg (what the British call a ‘spanner’*) maze that forces anyone walking in the basement to duck from time to time or suffer a concussion (and, season permitting, a very nasty contact burn). I don’t understand it, and neither did the plumber I had look at it before the first winter here, but it works well enough.

Much better than the electrical, which if we’re still in the mood to be British I would say is definitely Lucasian in origin; while it’s not the original knob-and-tube (and I checked very thoroughly for that, as did the appraiser for the bank and the one for the house insurance firm), it’s still a bit of a period piece(just that the period would appear to be the late sixties or early seventies), and the supply is insufficient to the demands. This is now scheduled to be rectified.

(* I am fully aware of Heath Robinson’s contributions to mechanical and electrical gimcrackery, thanks)