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Friday, February 27, 2009

Hell, Meet The Handbasket 

Every dictator is an enemy of freedom, an opponent of law.
--Demosthenes

First, some fluff...

I went to a new indoor range with a buddy yesterday. They had 10 lanes - 3 on one side and 7 on the other. We were on the 3 lane side with two other guys that were sharing one lane.

As we were getting ready, one of the guys starts shooting. It sounded like a damned cannon going off. My buddy asked him what he was shooting - we both figured it was a .44 magnum or something.

It was a 9mm!

It then dawned on us that it had to be because the 3 lane side was so confined. The walls were cinder block and it was only 20 yards long - we were getting echo up the ass!
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Kinda cool: This is the first range I've ever been to that allowed double taps. Man, that was an eye-opener. It seemed as though we could usually get at least one of the shots on paper, but it's anyone's guess where the other shot went.

It was strange: Sometimes the first hit, sometimes it was the second. Clearly, we were doing something wrong. Need to look into that....
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I want you to really look at this picture:


Both of these fish are of the same species. They're both rainbow trouts.

My friend who had the bad car accident caught both of them on Wednesday. The big-boy is 10 pounds 2 ounces and 26 1/2 inches long!

He called me and said he had caught it, and I didn't believe him. They just don't make rainbows that big, and you never find anything that big in the little puddle where he caught it.

Far and away the largest rainbow I've ever seen. He caught it on PowerBait with 4 pound test. He said he figures he had another 20 yards of line left on his reel after this beast made its run.

Oh, the little guy was a mere 16 inches long...
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Handbasket time...

Tactic number ??? for how they're going to justify taking our guns: We're causing all of the problems in Mexico.
Attorney General Eric Holder was busy announcing the capture of more than 50 alleged members of the notorious Sinaloa Cartel yesterday when he unwittingly stepped into a larger debate about gun control.

Responding to a reporter's question on weapons' regulations, Holder said, "Well, as President Obama indicated during the campaign, there are just a few gun-related changes that we would like to make, and among them would be to reinstitute the ban on the sale of assault weapons. I think that will have a positive impact in Mexico, at a minimum."
Well, if it will help out Mexico, then by all means, shit on the Second Amendment (again) and let's be done with it.

Buy and cache. Buy and cache.
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CitiGroup Nationalization: Check!
The U.S. government will exchange up to $25 billion in emergency bailout money it provided Citigroup Inc. for as much as a 36 percent equity stake in the struggling bank, greatly increasing the risks to taxpayers as voter unhappiness about the broader bailout program rises.
Voter unhappiness? Good Lord, gimme a cocktail....

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Non-Lethal Defensive Weapons 

Don't Tase me, bro!
--Andrew Meyer

I am putting together a class on various non-lethal defensive weapons. I have done a great deal of research on this, and one thing has become very clear - pepper spray is infinitely better than any kind of stun gun or Taser.

Here is my premise on non-lethal weapons: I want something that will give my students the ability to get away, and they must be able to "fire again" if their first shot misses.

I have watched video after video of people that have been hit by a stun gun or Taser. Once the electricity charge is discontinued, the "bad guys" are able to go right back to what they were doing.

Look at this video I first saw on Kaiser von Texas.


video

These guys are ALL able to take a Taser hit, get up, unholster their weapon, fire 12 to 15 shots, reload and holster their weapon.

Not exactly the outcome you want if you're attacked by someone.

Go to YouTube and look up videos about "pepper spray". Every single one I saw disabled the "assailant" enough to allow the "victim" to escape. Even in the training videos where a cop is sprayed, and is able to hold an eye open with his fingers so he can see, the initial shock is devastating.

Even if an assailant knew this technique, you could simply fire another shot of pepper spray into his good eye, and he'd be out of business. With a Taser, you'd be screwed, as you'd need to reload the little cartridge - and that assumes you had another one with you.

One of the keys to the pepper spray is to get the "stream" style, not the "fog" style. If the wind is in your face, you would be spraying yourself instead of the bad guy. The stream style can accuratly spray out to 8-15 feet or so.

Another very nice feature with some of the sprays is the ability to add a dye to the spray. Fox, in particular, has their Mean Green pepper spray that includes a green dye that takes 3 to 4 days to remove. Nice for identifying the bad guy later on.

The Mean Green spray does lower the "heat" of the spray from Fox's upper limit spray of 5.3 million heat units, down to only 3 million units. To put that into perspective, a Habanero chili has 200,000 - 300,000 units. If you wanted to pour Tobasco directly into your eye, you'd be getting between 30,000 and 50,000 units.

Pick up a Habanero then rub your eye. See what your reaction is.
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My wife now has a new Fox Mean Green spray (with the flip up lid so it doesn't go off accidently in her purse).

I also purchased a number of stun guns - smaller hand held units and a baton unit. What I don't like about them is that for them to be used, the assailiant needs to be on top of you already. I've spoken with a number of people that have purchased these, and they say that just by firing it and getting the clicking sound of the electrical arch, most bad guys will be deterred.

I don't know if I'd bet my life on having to scare away the bad guy. Or guys.

Of course, a handgun would be the best solution. I know this. But I'm here in The People's Republic of California and that is a luxury only afforded "The Chosen Few".

Well, at least legally.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Man Up 

A man can be as great as he wants to be. If you believe in yourself and have the courage, the determination, the dedication, the competitive drive and if you are willing to sacrifice the little things in life and pay the price for the things that are worthwhile, it can be done.
--Vince Lombardi

Things suck.

The market is down. Housing has crashed. You lost your job. The economy is teetering on the edge of disaster.

The easy thing would be to roll up in a ball and call it quits.

Here's a kick in the ass for ya.



Man up. Nut up. Cowboy up. Whatever spins your props.

Just don't give up.

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Prepper Sweets 

Licorice is the liver of candy.
--Unknown

My brain needs a break from all of the economic bullshit going around. Although Barry served up a lob-ball pitch last night - essentially saying he's going to fix everything, at half the cost, cut 98% of the taxes.... oh, and cure cancer (could you believe that one?!) - I'm going to pass. For now.

Instead, I'm gonna get sweet on ya. Prepper sweet.

If things get crappy, one of the great ways to boost your psyche is with comfort foods. Mashed potatoes and gravy. Mac and cheese. Fresh baked bread. Beef stew. Roasted chicken.

And sweets.

The problem with sweets is many of them go bad quickly. Chocolate is difficult to store long-term. It spoils, it melts, it gets oogy (yes, 'oogy' is a word). Same thing goes for any kind of creamed candy or gummy type stuff.

Hard candy is a good choice because it will keep forever as long as it stays dry. Still, being able to "kick it up a notch" is a good thing.

A big problem can be the need for a fairly accurate thermometer. I'm guessing most people don't keep a candy thermometer in their preps package.

Thankfully, there is a candy you can make that doesn't need one, and you most likely have all of the ingredients needed in your prepper stores: Peanut Brittle.

I have been making this stuff, literally, since I was 10 years old. I must have seen my mom cooking something and how the sugar melted and decided it looked like brittle. She went somewhere, and I threw a bunch of sugar in a pan and cooked it up. I don't recall getting my ass kicked, so I must have gotten away with it!

The following recipe uses two ingredients - Sugar and peanuts. You could use any kind of nut, but salty, dry-roasted peanuts are the best.

Take two cups of sugar and place it in a pan over medium high heat. Give it a stir with a wooden spoon once in a while until you start to see it liquefy around the edges.


Rather quickly, it will begin to further liquefy. Obviously, don't touch this stuff. It is molten sugar. Keep your kids away while you prepare the treat.


Keep stirring the stuff. It will shortly fully liquefy. Toss in a cup of dry roasted peanuts and stir it up. The shock of the cool nuts get the slurry to harden for a second. Just keep stirring.


I took a simple cookie sheet that I sprayed with Pam, and slathered on the slurry. Move quickly, as it starts to set up rather quickly.


Throw it in the fridge for 10 minutes or so (careful - the cookie sheet gets awful damned hot). Pull it out and crack it up.


This stuff tastes great and takes nothing to make. If you want a more traditional brittle, when you throw in the nuts, also throw in a tablespoon of butter, a pinch of salt and a half teaspoon of baking soda. Stir it up well. It lightens it up a bit. A shot of vanilla extract in either recipe adds a nice touch as well.
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If you have corn syrup also in your preps pantry, start out with the two cups of sugar with a cup of the syrup and a cup of water. You need some extra tools here - a teaspoon and a bowl of water.

When the slurry turns light brown, drop some into the bowl of water. If it immediately turns hard, add the nuts, 2 tablespoons of butter, a half teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of baking soda, stir completely (it might foam up a bit) and put into the pan to harden.
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If you've got Spanish peanuts instead of dry roasted, you need to get rid of the skins. Boil up some water. When it's at a full boil, toss your nuts into the boiling water (ouch!) the immediately scoop them out. The skins will fall right off.

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Things I'm Pissed Off About 

When angry, count to four. When very angry, swear.
--Mark Twain

I got this link from one of my brothers yesterday.

These ACORN bastards are using the same playbook as Sharpton, Jackson and Wright - the Three Stooges of Racebaiting.

The drone from ACORN simply will not answer Fox's Stuart Varney's question about where these people derive their right to stay in these homes where they have stopped making the payments. Her answer was basically, "Barry is taking your money to pay their bills."
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From Hermit, I swiped this link.
United States aid for the Gaza Strip's reconstruction will likely top $900 million, an official said, as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton prepared to make her first Mideast trip as America's top diplomat.
.....
She provided no other details, but a U.S. official in the United States said Monday that the Obama administration's donation will be at least $900 million in humanitarian and rebuilding aid to the Palestinian Authority to help Gaza recover from Israel's offensive against Hamas last month.
OUR economy is trashed. OUR citizens are out of work. OUR citizens are having trouble putting food on the table. And that bastard has the balls to give OUR money to citizens that elected Hamas to represent them?
The official added that the aid would not go to Hamas. The U.S. recognizes the West Bank-based government of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and has no formal contacts with the Islamic militant group Hamas, which runs a separate Palestinian administration in the Gaza Strip.
DO THEY THINK WE'RE REALLY THAT STUPID?! Our government is stealing nearly a billion of our dollars, giving it to that shit-hole of a region and we're supposed to believe that Hamas won't benefit?!
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They'd be right if they believe we're that stupid. Not a peep will be heard from the MSM.
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Just back up the dump truck full of cash. AIG is reporting a loss of $60 billion for the fourth quarter alone. That's the biggest loss in American history.
American International Group Inc., the insurer bailed out by the U.S., may restructure its $150 billion rescue package for a second time in four months as the recession and slumping stock market cut the value of its assets.
The article does show how Nanny is able to sink her talons into private enterprise.
AIG may convert the government’s preferred shares into common stock to reduce pressure on the company’s cash flow, a person familiar with the situation said yesterday. New York- based AIG pays a 10 percent dividend on preferred stock, and none on common shares. AIG declined in German trading.
Everyone was OK with the companies providing Preferred, non-voting stock for the various bailouts because Nanny supposedly could not influence the company's operations (yeah, right). BUT, they'd have to pay dividends, anywhere from 5 to 10 percent.

Obviously, paying dividends hurts cash flow. So, you convert the preferred stock into common stock, and you don't have to pay out a dime.

But now Nanny owns you lock, stock and barrel. Same thing is going to happen with Citigroup, probably B of A, and some of the other Big Boys.
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Hey, maybe we could sell our new ownership stake in AIG to fund the bullshit in Gaza.
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I had discussed how my old bank took $5 million of the Nanny hand out. I was told by the President that they got the, "Take the money, or else" speech.

When I had lunch a couple of weeks back with one of my friends from the bank (the COO), she let it slip (purposefully, I believe), that wasn't the real story. They went looking for the money.

I just looked the bank up on TheStreet.com's Rating Screener to check their rating.

D+.

Bummer.

Their initial deal is a 5% dividend payment, or $250K a year. That equals about 20% of Net Income before taxes. After 5 years, that jumps to a 9% dividend payment, or $450K a year - 37.5% of net income before taxes.

Of course, that assumes earning will continue at the same pace. I suppose earning could rise, but if they did, they'd be the only bank in the US able to do that neat trick.

Get in bed with the devil, expect to get poked.

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I'll Have Extra Ice With That, Please 

Integrity is telling myself the truth. And honesty is telling the truth to other people.
--Spencer Johnson

There is this organization called the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Their site says
The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) is part of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado at Boulder. NSIDC supports research into our world's frozen realms: the snow, ice, glaciers, frozen ground, and climate interactions that make up Earth's cryosphere. Scientific data, whether taken in the field or relayed from satellites orbiting Earth, form the foundation for the scientific research that informs the world about our planet and our climate systems.

NSIDC manages and distributes scientific data, creates tools for data access, supports data users, performs scientific research, and educates the public about the cryosphere.
If you look into their funding, they are essentially a quasi-government organization, as the bulk of their funding comes from NASA and NOAA.

Whenever you see stories about how the polar ice caps are melting, it comes from these guys. They are the top dogs on ice caps and sea ice - both of which we're told, are shrinking at alarming rates, and stranding polar bears and their helpless little cubs to starve horrible deaths unless SOMETHING IS DONE RIGHT NOW!

They produce alarming videos showing how the sea ice is damned near gone. I want you to click this link, and go to the bottom of the page. There, you'll see a video that shows the sea ice size from 1979 to 2007 - nearly 30 years (the comment section says it only goes to 2000, but the video is to 2007).


It looks horrible. You see for all of the years that the ice stays pretty much the same. Some years it's a bit bigger, some years a bit smaller, but is is roughly the same size.

Then, the last image just jumps out at you. In 2007, a huge part of the western section just disappears. If you look closely, you can see the poor little polar bears splashing around helplessly in the deep waters (sorry, I couldn't help myself).

As the animation (not the video or photo - this is important) explains,
Sea ice is an important area of NSIDC research and data. In September of 2007, Arctic sea ice extent shrank to the lowest ever seen during the satellite record.
Yikes.
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So, what these guys do is take satellite data (NOT images), run some algorithms, and produce an animation that represents the polar cap and sea ice size.

Obviously, the quality and integrity of that data is paramount in ensuring that the information they're sharing with the world is correct.

Well, Houston, we have a bit of a problem.
As some of our readers have already noticed, there was a significant problem with the daily sea ice data images on February 16. The problem arose from a malfunction of the satellite sensor we use for our daily sea ice products.
Oh, I'm sure it is just a little bitty, teeny tiny error. Otherwise, we would have seen the MSM, Al Gore and all of the other Global Warming terrorists issuing statement recanting their unfounded assertions.

Seems as though the problem might be a bit larger in scope than one might believe.
Upon further investigation, we discovered that starting around early January, an error known as sensor drift caused a slowly growing underestimation of Arctic sea ice extent. The underestimation reached approximately 500,000 square kilometers (193,000 square miles) by mid-February.
Hmmm. How big is 193,000 square miles? Wow, it's 20% larger than the total area of California.
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Here's where the ass-covering starts.

They note on their site that,
Sensor drift, although infrequent, does occasionally occur and it is one of the things that we account for during quality control measures prior to archiving the data.
Uhm, it seems as though your QC program sucks ass. What did it take to discover this? Some guy standing on an sheet of ice, and looking at your picture of blue seas?

Yeah, pretty much.
On February 16, 2009, as emails came in from puzzled readers, it became clear that there was a significant problem—sea-ice-covered regions were showing up as open ocean.
They go on to assure us that they think the past data is hunky dory, but they're checking just to be sure.
Although we believe that data prior to early January are reliable, we will conduct a full quality check in the coming days.
You boys get right on that, OK?

To recap, your satellites (some of which are 13 years old) that have been providing you with the basis for your scientific conclusions are known to be faulty. Your response: You still stay with the PC line.
Sensor drift is a perfect but unfortunate example of the problems encountered in near-real-time analysis. We stress, however, that this error in no way changes the scientific conclusions about the long-term decline of Arctic sea ice, which is based on the the consistent, quality-controlled data archive discussed above.
Is that the same QC program that didn't catch this latest error? Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.
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Is the ice sheet melting? Could be. I don't know - I've never been up there to see for myself. What IS clear, is that the information currently on their site are flawed. We have no way of knowing if the other data was flawed as well.

One thing I'm dead certain of is, if it is shown the ice isn't melting as fast as was previously reported (or at all), we'll NEVER hear about it from the MSM or Al Gore.
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H/T to Dragon for the heads-up on this.

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Grabbin' Stuff 

Capitalism and communism stand at opposite poles. Their essential difference is this: The communist, seeing the rich man and his fine home, says: 'No man should have so much.' The capitalist, seeing the same thing, says: 'All men should have so much.
--Unknown

Few things are as frustrating as finding something fantastic on the Internet, you tell your friends all about it, and when you go back, it's gone. This seems to happen most often with YouTube videos. For one reason or another, they will decide to pull the video.

With my new training business, I plan on incorporating a number of different "stimuli (?)" into the classes or seminars - pictures, audio and video clips - to keep things interesting. I'll also be posting stuff on my website showing, for instance, one video of someone being a victim of a home invasion, and one video of a person repelling a home invasion.

Some of the best stuff can be found, uncopyrighted, for free on the various web video sites.

So what do you do to make sure that one of your key videos doesn't up and disappear? You make a copy of it.

If you've tried to right-click the video, you'll see that "copy" is not one of the options available. The videos are stored as Flash Videos, so you can't do a simple copy-and-paste.

Not surprisingly, I was not the first person that wanted to be able to do this! A website, SaveTube.com was spawned to fill this need. You can "pinch" videos from most of the major sites - YouTube, Google Video, MySpace and Break.com, among others.

Let's say you want to make a permanent copy of a video from YouTube. You go to the video, and copy the URL for that specific video. You can either copy it from your browser address bar, or from the window to the right of the video. Copy the URL address, NOT the "embed" code.

Take that URL address and go to SaveTube.com. Copy the information into the box in the middle of the page called, "Video To Save". Click "Go".

The screen will have "jumped", and it will seem like nothing has happened. But it has.

Scroll down the page, and you will now see a hyperlink that says, "Click the link below to begin the download". There are two more hyperlinks called, "Download" and "Clear".

Click "download". A window will pop up that is asking you if you want to save the video. Click "OK", and select the location you want the video saved. You'll notice that the default file name is "video.flv". At this point, you can add a better descriptive name (such as "pistolgrip" to replace "video"), JUST DON'T MESS WITH THE .FLV PORTION. It will be saving the file on your computer in FLV format (Flash Video).

After it is saved, you will most likely NOT be able to view the video. In its current state, so you'll have to convert it to a desktop-readable format, like .AVI or .MPG.

Remember when you were scrolling down the SaveTube page to get to the download link? Well, that was taking you through a minefield of FLV converter programs. Stay away from them.

First off, they'll cost you money right off the bat (see my closing comments). Secondly, when I was viewing the sites, I got a creepy feeling that things just weren't right. Call me paranoid.

I went to my favorite free download site on the entire planet, SnapFiles.com. I have used this site for more than 5 years (when it was named something else) and have never had a problem with any program or virus. Never. And I download a lot of programs from them.

They offer freeware, shareware and commercial software. I've availed myself of all types. They have programs for virtually anything you want to do (no, I have no financial interest in the website, they are just great and deserve some props).

For this job, I selected Pazera Free FLV to AVI Converter (also no financial interest). Why? No particular reason, other than it said it would do what I wanted, but equally as important, it had very high ratings from past users and from the site administrators. Good enough for me.

Download and install the program. You then simply click the "Add Files" button at the top, select your FLV file, click AVI or MPG as your output format, then click "Convert". The file is saved in the same directory as the original FLV file, and you're done.

I've used this process dozens of times, and it has worked flawlessly everytime.
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A quickee: If you need to grab screen images - anything from a full screen to a specific portion - try MW Snap (again, no financial interest). You grab a screen image, and can save it as a JPG, GIF, PNG, TIFF or BMP file. See?


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The great thing about using freeware is that you can try it for free (duh). Personally, if I use a program on a regular basis, I will go back to the website that made the software and pay for it. It's always less expensive than buying regular commercial software, and these programmers need to eat, just like the rest of us. Sometimes they just have a PayPal tip jar, and you can decide how much you want.

It's the ultimate capitalistic way of rewarding quality. Do the right thing.
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Oh yeah. YMMV. All of this stuff has worked for me, with my level of technical expertise. Your expertise may be higher or lower, so don't get into something over your head.

Also, when copying images or videos, look for a copyright notice. If it's copyrighted, stay the hell away. It's intellectual property the owner wants to be paid for, and that's his or her right.

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Courage, Integrity, Ethics 

Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity.
--W. Clement Stone

From a bailout discussion on Fox News and how Obama is being painted as our second savior. The money quote (pun intended):
Jesus Saves. Obama Spends.
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Continuing with the religious theme, there is a new ad that has been produced to put the $800 billion stimulus bill into perspective:

If you spent a million dollars A DAY since the birth of Jesus, you still would not have spent $800 billion.

2009 years x 365 days a year = 733, 285 days

733,285 days x $1,000,000 = $733,285,000,000
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I saw the ad on TV, but can't seem to find it anywhere online.

My question would be, "Why did you wait until AFTER the bill was signed to run the ad? Why didn't you do it BEFORE, so we at least had a chance to stop it or slim it down?"
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I've added another national company to my "No Buy Zone" list.

McDonald's.

When this story first came out, it said that McDonald's has a policy against intervening in fights or disputes that take place in one of their restaurants.

It seems they had an employee who was more worried about doing what is right, than doing what he was told to do.

It nearly cost him his life. He intervened when a customer slapped some woman in a McDonald's in Little Rock, Arkansas. In the video, he rushes the guy and pushes him out the door. He then stumbles back in. He had been shot a number of times by the punk that had slapped the woman.

He now has $300,000 in hospital bills for being a good, decent citizen.

I understand that their rules were "no involvement with fights". Technically and legally, they are on solid ground.

As an American citizen, they make me sick.

They are falling back on saying that the state insurance company is making the decision not to pay (if true, here's another example of Universal Health Care in action...). I'm sure that's based upon McDonald's "don't interfere" rules.

Even if the insurance company holds their ground, McDonald's could pick up the $300,000 cost without it even being noticed on their income statement. You could not put a price on the positive press they would receive.

Their CEO just received this email letter from me:

Jim Skinner
CEO

I just reviewed your Corporate Responsibility report for 2008. The opening paragraph was this:
McDonald’s is committed to being a company that the public can trust. We believe that good governance is more than a collection of laws and regulations. It is the intersection of the relationships among our Board of Directors, our management and our shareholders. It is informed by the values that have been the foundation of our business for more than 50 years – integrity, fairness, diligence and ethical behavior.
Integrity, fairness, diligence and ethical behavior. Lofty goals, indeed.

Yet I read a story where one of your employees in Little Rock, Arkansas nearly lost his life protecting one of YOUR customers. He is now under a burden of $300,000 in medical bills for this act.

You and your corporation are pointing to the "laws and regulations" stating that you have a "do not interfere" policy, and that it is the insurance company that is the bad guy here.

No, sir, it is YOU who is the bad guy. You had an employee that showed integrity and ethical behavior - two of your four corporate goals. Here was a young man who literally risked his life because it was the right thing to do - corporate rules be damned.

Are you really more than "a collection of laws and regulations"? I don't think so.

Prove me wrong, sir. Step up to the plate and embrace the actions of your employee. He should be heralded in your company, not vilified. Let's see if you can actually demonstrate your corporate goals of integrity, fairness, diligence and ethical behavior.

Until then, I am circulating the story of your cowardly and disgusting actions to everyone I know, with a recommendation to boycott your company until you make this right.

It may or may not make an impact, who knows? But it's the fair and ethical thing to do.

Try it some time.
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Who are the other two companies in the No Nanny State, "No Buy Zone"?

Pizza Hut. Not just because their pizza tastes like something a dog leaves on the lawn after eating a bowl of prunes, but because they fired an employee who had a CCW and defended himself from an armed robber while delivering a "pizza".

Miller Beer. Like Pizza Hut, it's not because their "beer" isn't worthy to degrease auto parts, it's because of their financial support for illegal aliens.

I also won't ever spend a dime at Macy's because of the way one employee treated me when I was buying my first good business suit 25 years ago. They don't do anything that is unethical, so they're not on the list. They are just pieces of crap in my eyes.

Yeah, I can hold a grudge, huh?

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Forgotten Man 

The forgotten man. . . . He works, he votes, generally he prays, but his chief business in life is to pay.
-- William Graham Sumner

Note: The document discussed below is HUGE. It took forever for it to download, as it is a collection of essays. The one in question is only 30 pages. Click at your own risk...


Update: I was able to PDF print just The Forgotten Man essay. Click here to grab a free download. It's still on the large side - 6 meg - but at least it's manageable.
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I had a dentist appointment this morning, and on the way over, I was listening to my normal morning radio show. They were talking about this essay called, "The Forgotten Man". It was written by the above-quoted Mr. Sumner in 1883.

They read this section on the air:
As soon as A observes something which seems to him to be wrong, from which X is
suffering, A talks it over with B, and A and B then propose to get a law passed to remedy the evil and help X. Their law always proposes to determine what C shall do for X or, in the better case, what A, B and C shall do for X. As for A and B, who get a law to make themselves do for X what they are willing to do for him, we have nothing to say except that they might better have done it without any law, 'but what I want to do is to look up C. I want to show you what manner of man he is.

I call him the Forgotten Man.

So. "A" and "B" are Pelosi and Reed. Or Bush and Paulson. Or Obama and Biden. Or... well, you get it. Any group of worthless politicians who are out to fix the world.

"X" is the poor, the down-trodden, the under-privileged. A sympathic soul. At least that's how they are portrayed when some stimulus, welfare or grant program is jammed up our asses.

More likely, they are individuals who have either grown up understanding nothing other than Nanny handouts, OR are people that have come to the realization that regardless of your actions, Nanny will be there to wipe your ass and kiss your boo-boos. There's no down-side to your actions.

Of course, both of these are perfect examples why Nanny should not be in the charity business. Government has no ability to discriminate. As long as your personal profile fits inside the box, you MUST be helped.

They don't have the ability to turn anybody away. Regardless of your physical and mental ability to care for yourself, if you want a Nanny handout, you can get one. A private charity can tell you that you will get one bag of groceries, but never come back unless both of your legs have been severed. GET OFF YOUR ASS AND GET TO WORK, SPORT!

Mr. Sumner says it much better:
Now you know, that "the poor and the 'weak" are continually put forward as objects of public interest and public obligation. In the appeals which are made, the terms "the poor" and "the weak" are used as if they were terms of exact definition.

Except the pauper, that is to say, the man who cannot earn his living or pay his way, there is no possible definition of a poor man. Except a man who is incapacitated by vice or by physical infirmity, there is no definition of a weak man.

The paupers and the physically incapacitated are an inevitable charge on society. About them no more need be said. But the weak who constantly arouse the pity of humanitarians and philanthropists are the shiftless, the imprudent, the negligent, the impractical, and the inefficient, or they are the idle, the intemperate, the extravagant, and the vicious.

Now the troubles of these persons are constantly forced upon public attention, as if they and their interests deserved especial consideration, and a great portion of all organized and unorganized effort for the common welfare consists in attempts to relieve these classes of people. I do not wish to be understood now as saying that nothing ought to be done for these people by those who are stronger and wiser. That is not my point.

What I want to do is to point out the thing which is overlooked and the error which is made in all these charitable efforts. The notion is accepted as if it were not open to any question that if you help the inefficient and vicious you may gain something for society or you may not, but that you lose nothing. This is a complete mistake. Whatever capital you divert to the support of a shiftless and good for-nothing person is so much diverted from some other employment, and that means from somebody else.
What really got me was that this kind of crap has been going on for a very long time. Sounds like a 19th Century "Stimulus" package to me...
The Californian hydraulic miners have washed the gold out of the hillsides and have washed the dirt down into the valleys to the ruin of the rivers and the farms. They want the federal government to remove this dirt at the national expense. The silver miners, finding that their product is losing value in the market, get the government to go into the market as a great buyer in the hope of sustaining the price.

The national government is called upon to buy or hire unsalable ships; to dig canals which will not pay; to educate illiterates in the states which have not done their duty at the expense of the states which have done their duty as to education; to buy up telegraphs which no longer pay; and to provide the capital for enterprises of which private individuals are to win the profits.

We are called upon to squander twenty millions on swamps and creeks; from twenty to sixty-six millions on the Mississippi River; one hundred millions in pensions - and there is now a demand for another hundred million beyond that.

This is the great plan of all living on each other. The pensions in England used to be given to aristocrats who had political power, in order to corrupt them. Here the pensions are given to the great democratic mass who have the political power, in order to corrupt them.
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I know I harp on this a lot, but what burns my ass the most is that the federal government has absolutely no legal authority to do all of these bailouts, these welfare programs, these social services.

The Constitution is very clear that if a right or duty is not specifically granted to the feds, ONLY the states or its citizens retain those rights or duties.

Show me the "stimulus amendment" and I'll shut my pie-hole.

Haven't our legislators ever read the Constitution? If they have, they totally disregard what it says. It would be nice if they'd let this thought sink in for a while:
Who is, then, the Forgotten Man? He is the clean, quiet, virtuous, domestic citizen, who pays his debts and his taxes and is never heard of out of his little circle. Yet who is there in the society of a civilized state who deserves to be remembered and considered by the legislator and statesman before this man?
Truer words were never spoken

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Warnings From Putin 

The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.
--Winston Churchill

A buddy of mine sent me this link. I read it, and was thinking it was another one of those TheOnion-style satires.

It seems to be real, as I found the entire speech on the Wall Street Journal.

What's the message? It's Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warning us about the evils of socialism and a centrally managed economy.

I shit you not.
Excessive intervention in economic activity and blind faith in the state's omnipotence is another possible mistake.

True, the state's increased role in times of crisis is a natural reaction to market setbacks. Instead of streamlining market mechanisms, some are tempted to expand state economic intervention to the greatest possible extent.
I'm (nearly) speechless. A guy that was born, raised and participated in a massive centralized economy is telling the world not to go down that path.
In the 20th century, the Soviet Union made the state's role absolute. In the long run, this made the Soviet economy totally uncompetitive. This lesson cost us dearly. I am sure nobody wants to see it repeated.
Vlady, I don't know. Dubya and Barry both seem to think that this is the way to go. Only Nanny has the wherewithal to "fix" this problem.

Just look at our leaders. They're smart folks, right? They must know what they're doing.
Nor should we turn a blind eye to the fact that the spirit of free enterprise, including the principle of personal responsibility of businesspeople, investors and shareholders for their decisions, is being eroded in the last few months. There is no reason to believe that we can achieve better results by shifting responsibility onto the state.
Well, paint me shocked. We're being schooled in capitalism by a former communist. What's up is down, what's right is left.

Read the entire speech. He takes swipes at fiat currency, the down-side of centralized economies, the benefits of a nation having reserves - you know, all of those things a good capitalist leader should espouse.
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Where was this story on the mainstream media? My buddy found it on some obscure precious metals site. I had to dig to find it on the WSJ.

Why wasn't this a lead story on ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox? This speech was made in late January, well before the give-away stimulus bill was even close to being finalized.

We all know the answer. It's because it goes counter to the socialist/communist bent of most media types. They control what goes into the heads of the vast majority of American's. I checked the FoxNews website, and keyed in 'Davos'. There was one story - published 3 days after the Putin speech - and it wasn't even mentioned.

Fair. Balanced. And Bought off.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Traveling With Guns 

One man with a gun can control 100 without one.
--Vladimir Lenin

My new business of training people how to shoot handguns will require me to bring multiple guns to the various classrooms. When you travel with handguns here in The People's Republic of California, they need to be transported in locked cases.

I've used these metal cases in the past - each holds a single gun.


They've worked well enough. In fact, I use them to keep a gun in my car while complying with CA law. They're small, secure and legal.

As I said, I will need to have multiple handguns at these classes. I want to show the students - at a minimum - one semi-auto and one revolver. Since a lot of these classes are introductory classes, many of the students don't yet own a gun. I will be able to rent my guns to students for the firing range portion of the class, making a couple extra bucks per head.

So, I needed a way of carrying more guns while still staying legal. I figured that since I was looking for a new gun case, I might as well make it compatible for traveling via air.

I checked out the TSA site, and the sites of a number of airlines. I had read a few stories about travelers showing up to check in their guns, and the airline not allowing the guns to be checked in. Their standards were more stringent than those of the TSA.

After much research, I believe I have found a solution. It is a case by Pelican Case. It meets all of my requirements: CA legal, TSA legal, airline compliant, and holds at least 4 handguns.

I went with the Pelican Case model 1495.


It's made of some special polymer and are tough as hell (check out this test, which includes a shotgun test), has got plenty of space on the inside, with interior dimensions of 18.8" x 13.1" x 3.8". The case comes with four latches, a shoulder strap and a 3-digit combination lock.

The interior is lined with 3 different layers of foam. There is a bottom layer that just adds some padding. The upper layer on the bottom section is this stuff called "pick and pluck". It's a series of mini-blocks of foam about 1/8" x 1/8" and as deep as the bottom section (less the very bottom layer of foam). The lid of the case has this egg carton-like foam.

If you want, you can "pluck" the middle foam to the size of a particular gun so that it is form-fitting. I initially did this for my S&W .357 Magnum. It fit very well, but then I realized I had a problem. It dawned on me that I will never know which of my guns I'll be bringing to a class. So, I just stuck the foam "block" back into the hole.

I did a test, and filled the case with 4 guns, and stood it up on its edge to see if the guns would slump down. Over a 24 hour period, there was absolutely no movement.


As I said, one of the main concerns was that it met all of the TSA/Airline/California laws.

If you look at the case, you'll see two silver holes near the handle. These are stainless steel reinforced holes for padlocks.


One of the horror stories I read - happening to multiple people - was where the flyer was just fine at the check-in counter, but some TSA yahoo got a hair up his ass and wanted to do a secondary search of the contents.

Since you were now sitting in your plane seat, the TSA goons would cut the locks off to do their secondary search. Since the case would no longer be TSA legal - because of the actions of the TSA - your guns would get left at your departure airport.

To address this, they have come up with a TSA-approved locking system. The padlocks have a keyhole that is used for TSA-only keys. In this way, if they need to look in your case, they can unlock the padlock without destroying it and confiscating your property.


Here's what the padlock looks like when it's in action.


I know, I know. I don't feel warm and fuzzy with the TSA accessing my stuff without my knowledge, but what are you going to do if you MUST fly? At least if something is taken, you know that it was because of the TSA - they either did it themselves or they let a security key out of their possession.

BTW, the case comes standard with a 3-digit combination lock built in right near the handle. It operates another latch that needs to be closed when the case is in transport. I have set that combination to 0-0-0. If I need to travel by air, I will tape a note on the case with the combination, so that the TSA drones can open the latch even if the combination wheels get jostled and the lock set.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Local Dangers 

Each time we face our fear, we gain strength, courage, and confidence in the doing.
--Unknown

I'm in the process of gathering information for my emergency preparedness seminars and business Continuity of Operations gig. I ran across an interesting site.

www.CrimeReports.com

It seems as though the local sheriff or PD must subscribe to the program. My local sheriff department does, so I'm able to get tons of information on local crime.

I keyed in my local zip code and up popped a Google map. It will show up to 500 crimes at a time. It gives you the ability to zoom in to a specific street, or cover the entire area. It has a calendar function to allow you to go back in time to see the crimes committed over the past year, let's say.

You can also de-select all crimes, and then select just the specific types you want info on, such as murder or car theft.

I seem to remember an add-on to PowerPoint that allowed a window to appear in the middle of one of your slides, where you could show live websites (instead of having to minimize PP and opening a web browser).

I think that would be a powerful image to display for people that don't think they'll ever be touched by crime.

I hate using the "fear card," to generate business, but it is one of the strongest motivators available to get people off of their asses to take action.
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I'm also in the process of using Google maps to map all of the potentially toxic emitters in our area. We have a bunch of chemical plants, refineries, power plants and some other light industrial in our general area. Plus our part of the county is heavily criss-crossed with rail lines.

The majority of the Bay Area military installations have moved on as a result of the Clinton deal. We used to have the Concord Naval Weapons Station right up the road, Alameda Naval Air Station, Oakland Army Base, and Hamilton Air Force Base. Travis AFB is about the only significant military facility left in the Bay Area.

The Naval Magazine at Port Chicago (which used to be a part of the Naval Weapons Station) is still active, but it is run by the Army for some reason. It's supposedly not used any more, but I see trains going in and out of there all of the time. Who knows?

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Friday, February 13, 2009

How To Counter The Fairness Doctrine? 

The art of leadership. . . consists in consolidating the attention of the people against a single adversary and taking care that nothing will split up that attention.
--Adolph Hitler

It's coming, folks.

The plan is beginning to come together. The socialist left has long recognized that if you control the message, you control the outcome. All great totalitarian regimes have recognized this.

I've written in the past that, through a number of means, we have seen "the message" slowly but surely morph to a one-sided "debate".

In February of last year ("Good Bye, Sweet America"):
It's pure genius: Socialize education so the state is free to indoctrinate at will. Control the message, and it becomes the truth. As time passes, the concept of the individual is replaced by collectivism. It takes a village.
My Modern Country Home had a great post with this line:
This is the first part of the Declaration of Independence....There is a reason that children arent expected to memorize it anymore....Its dangerous. It is POWERFUL....
Children in public schools are not taught the ideals behind our nation. Ideals of individual liberty. When kids are indoctrinated on the Hive Mentality from their earliest school years, it makes an impression that lasts a life time. It can be reversed, but it's an uphill battle.

I've discussed the Fairness Doctrine a number of times. Last September, I wrote:
Regardless of whether Barry O or Johnny Mac becomes president, I think conservative talk radio is in trouble. Barry will run right at it and push the Fairness Doctrine as new FCC policy. Conservative radio has called out enough powerful Republican politicians whom they no longer consider as conservative, that the days of this radio format may be numbered.
Once Barry won the election, and the Dems owned both houses of Congress, I predicted at the beginning of the year that this would be one of their first targets.
... I think one of the very first issues on Barry's agenda will be to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine. It will silence the one significant threat to his ability to control the message in the media - Talk Radio. The Republicans in Congress will go along as well, as they occasionally take a whipping from the radio folks as well.

Once Talk Radio is silenced, large-scale gun control will be a walk in the park. Without a dissenting public voice, the gun-control advocates will have an unfettered ability to dispense their message on evil guns.

It will start with more guns being labeled as "assault weapons" and additional types of ammo being classified as "cop killers" and the like. As soon as some nut "assaults" and kills a cop with a hunting rifle, the end will be near.
Guns will just be one of their targets. When you combine zero public dissent with the god-like worship Barry receives by the rest of the media, you have the makings for a rapid, debilitating rush towards socialism.

Guns, income redistribution, universal health care, banking, transportation, communications - pick a topic - will all be easy pickins'.
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Now, lots of people have been saying this. Savage, Limbaugh, Hannity and others have all railed against this for years. They've talked about the evils of the One Voice approach, but no one has said what they will do after it happens.

It's a tough call.

There are a few liberty-loving magazines, but few have wide circulation. The NRA publications probably have the broadest reach.

Fox, the supposed 'Conservative voice' only seems that way when compared to the rest of the TV media. I don't see this avenue expanding in the future, especially considering it is Nanny who must approve new licenses.

There's this media - blogs and the Internet (pod casts, newsletters, etc). You can reach a lot of people for very little cost. I figure that this is the best way to spread the word in the short term, but it will likely be targeted as well. Probably under some sort of "hate speech" provision.

If I were to make a prediction on how the media will be fully homogenized, it will be under the Hate Speech doctrine. Criticize anything put forth by the One Voice, and you must be hateful. Fine or jail them in retaliation.
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I don't have a bullet-proof (pun intended) solution. There probably isn't such a thing, anyways. There are weaknesses in every plan or process. The successful plan incorporates contingency actions to kick in when things don't proceed as intended.

I think we all owe it to ourselves to start noodling over this problem.

What are the weaknesses in the pro-Fairness Doctrine plan that can be exploited? What are the weaknesses in libertarian responses to the One Voice plan?
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Has your line in the sand been crossed? Have you even drawn a line? What will you do when it is crossed?

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Happy Valentine's Day 

I dunno.... just seem appropriate with it being Friday the 13th and all....


Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

Ironically, I'm off to the range today to test a couple of .45 ACP and .40 Cal pistols.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Ethics of Socialism 

In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations, and epochs it is the rule.
--Friedrich Nietzsche

I did a good deal of yelling at the TV yesterday. It still doesn't seem to be doing much good, but I feel better after my rants.

First up, I saw that supreme idiot Barney Frank using the television cameras to try and deflect the anger of America from himself, and transfer it to the bankers he summoned before his Financial Services Committee.
"I urge you going forward to be ungrudgingly cooperative," ... "There has to be a sense of the American people that you understand their anger ...... and that you're willing to make some sacrifices"
I have a dream: I know it would be a short-term "fling" on their part, but I would just love to see them - to see ONE of them - tell Frank to STFU. One of them would stand up and point out that it was he and his committee that encouraged the sub-prime lending.

...That it was he and his committee who encouraged Freddie and Fanny to guarantee those loans, making it risk-free and profitable for banks to make them, and for investors to buy them.

...And that it was he and his committee that refused to heed warnings about Freddie and Fannie accounting and operational abuses as far back as 2001.



Note the value of the Dow in the ticker in the lower right hand corner...
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But that's not going to happen. The bankers are cowards, and they have indeed shown an incredible lack of ethics themselves.

I am a dyed-in-the-wool capitalist. I believe that as long as you don't employ unethical business practices, you should be able to make as much money as you want. The more, the merrier. That is the primary job of a for-profit business.

Now, I'm not going to go down the whole "business ethics" road. Maybe another post at another time. My definition of ethics is different from yours, and is clearly different from Barny Frank's and the Wall Street bankers.

I just believe that if you don't screw someone and give them value for their dollar, you should be able to get as rich as you want, and spend YOUR money as you see fit.

But capitalism has a down-side. If you screw up and people feel cheated, or they find better value elsewhere, you can lose it all. That's how it should be. Innovation in products or service, in general, lead to better value for the consumer.

So when I hear that 700 Merrill Lynch executives were given AT LEAST $1 million each, I want to just explode.
Merrill Lynch & Co.'s top four bonus recipients got a combined $121 million just before the firm was acquired by Bank of America Corp., according to New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

In all, Merrill "secretly and prematurely" awarded $3.6 billion in bonuses, with Bank of America's "apparent complicity,"
They "awarded" themselves $3.6 billion after losing $25.38 per share. Big deal - twenty-five bucks, right? It is a big deal when you realize that this equates to a $15 billion loss in the 4th quarter alone.

And then the bastards are given $10 billion of our dollars during the first bailout, and more after they were "purchased" by B of A. B of A got an additional $20 billion to finish the purchase of Merrill, along with $118 billion in Nanny guarantees against future Merrill losses.

We're paying, and paying and paying for the unethical actions of others. Being unethical pays, and it pays well.
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So where am I going with this?

I am sick and tired of getting screwed without even getting kissed on the cheek. I'm going to periodically post tips for the rest of us to get our piece of the pie.

The ship is sinking, go grab a life preserver for yourself.

I'm going to post these with no moral or ethical strings attached. YOU as an individual need to make that call based upon your own moral compass. I'm simply going to lay out the process that others are employing - YOU decide if you want to take advantage of the techniques.

Let me be very clear on this: I am NOT suggesting you do any of these things. That's up to you. Any negative consequences, either morally, ethically or legally are yours to deal with.
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I heard this one on the radio this morning. The next time you're sick, go to the hospital without your wallet or any identification. Tell them you're either homeless, jobless, insuranceless or an illegal alien. Give them a fake name and social security number.

According to our insane laws, you must be seen and assisted. You don't need to be dying. You don't need to be vomiting up blood. You don't need to have a gunshot wound to the temple, or a compound fracture of your femur. You just need to WANT medical assistance.

Get your medical needs taken care of, then ask for a cab voucher to get home (you don't have any money, so you have to get home, right?).

The nurse on the radio said that if you show up to emergency WITH insurance, you're charged a minimum $200 emergency room fee.

Her point was, "Don't be such a sucker."
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Play by the rules. Live and work ethically. Get screwed, hard.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Yet Another Reason For Gun Ownership 

Arms in the hands of citizens may be used at individual discretion... in private self-defense.
--John Adams

Pretty amazing video.

Four armed guys go running into the garage of a Tucson home in what looks to be a pretty nice neighborhood. Suddenly, four bad guys come running OUT of the very same garage.

The homeowner had a surveillance system, saw the bad guys coming, and defended his home. Looks like the fat bad-guy was hit on the way out.

One thing in the article that accompanies the video is the following paragraph. Let me see a show of hands if you know what's going to piss me off.
Amazing video of an attempted home invasion in Tucson. Investigators say the victim fought back by shooting at a group of armed men trying to break into his house. This all happened Thursday afternoon near Cardinal and Irvington on the southwest side.
You win the prize if you picked up the word, 'victim'. This guy wasn't a victim. He was perhaps a target or a "mark".

You become a victim when the bad guys win. This guy was a responsible citizen taking care of business.

I wonder how this would have turned out if the gun-grabbers had their way, and he was unarmed - his only option being to cower in the corner, calling 911.

THEN, he'd have become a victim. Maybe a dead one.
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That video will be going on my business website for handgun training and personal protection. Real life is going to be my best marketing tool...

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Slimy Bastards 

A clear enunciation of these rights needs to be enshrined in the constitution to guarantee that this basic right of law-abiding gun owners and sportsmen shall not be infringed upon by anti-gun public officials.
--Charlton Heston

I just got an email alert from Gun Owners of America (join them NOW if you own, or want to ever own, a gun). The slime dogs in the House of Representatives are pushing through a bill to further restrict gun possession on federal lands (you know, those lands WE OWN).

What follows is a significant excerpt from the email alert. Please read it, and if nothing else, click the link at the bottom and send an email message to your representative. It will take each of you all of 2 minutes to send an email. Do this.

This has already passed in the Senate, thanks to Chief Slimy Bastard, Harry Reid, rolling it into an omnibus bill.
As the House prepares to take up the bill, the Democrat leadership has
taken procedural steps to ensure that the measure cannot be amended or
altered in any way. That means that if it passes the House, it goes
right to President Obama's desk, where it will be signed into law.

Here are a few of the more troubling aspects of the bill:

* It authorizes the federal government to buy private land adjacent to
national parks and trails. Such land would be controlled by the NPS,
and thus be subject to the gun ban.

* The bill federalizes the Washington-Rochambeau Route, a 650 mile trail
that stretches from Rhode Island to Virginia and includes sections of
major thoroughfares such as Interstate 95 and U.S. Route 1, and passes
through cities like Boston and Philadelphia. The entire trail would fall
under the NPS and the gun ban.

* The National Landscape Conservation System groups together millions of
acres of federal land and places it under one new umbrella agency. The
NLCS was created during the Clinton administration and run
administratively since then. S. 22 will codify the system, which raises
concerns for hunters and sportsmen. Much of this land is consolidated
from the BLM and the Forest Service, which have always allowed hunting
and recreational shooting. It is unclear what rules will be promulgated
by the new agency and if gun owners' rights will be protected.

* S. 22 strips out small concessions won by pro-gunners in the House
last year that would allow state and local law to govern firearms
possession and hunting on certain land.

* S.22 allows for NO amendments. Pro-gun members who want to offer an
amendment to fully repeal the NPS gun ban are prevented from doing so by
the anti-gun leadership.

The full House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on the bill this
Wednesday or Thursday.

Unless the NPS gun ban is repealed and the rights of gun owners are
protected, Gun Owners of America opposes the bill in its entirety.


ACTION: Please urge your Representative to repeal the NPS gun ban in S.
22, or to vote against the entire bill. You can go to the Gun Owners
Legislative Action Center at http://capwiz.com/gunowners/home/ to send
your Representative the pre-written e-mail message below.
They keep chipping away at our freedoms. We cannot let this stand.
...from my cold, dead hands...
--Charlton Heston

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Monday, February 09, 2009

Save Us, O Mighty Oz! 

The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'
--Ronald Reagan

Barry's running his mouth right now telling us why we so desperately need the bailout. I heard bits of it on the radio while I was out, and I just couldn't stomach it. I wish all of America could read the quote from one of Saturday's posts:
I must tell you, there are those in the public debate who have said that we must act now. The last time I heard that, I was on a used-car lot. The truth is, every time somebody tells you that you've got to do the deal right now, it usually means they're going to get the better part of the deal.
How ironic: Barry was in Elkhart, Indiana, selling us a junker of a deal, and that quote is from Representative Mike Pence of Indiana.
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I recently got a couple of DHS/FEMA certification concerning preparedness and disaster recovery. I'm putting together a series of programs along these lines to dovetail with the firearms training. I want to put together a soup-to-nuts package for individuals - from emergency preps to self defense.

Much of the emergency prep stuff will be slightly altered for the small business market, but the main thrust there is on business continuity planning. I was very impressed with the FEMA stuff on that subject.

I will NOT be teaching the FEMA classes, only using the certs as window dressing. The classes had some very good ideas, and a nice structure - which I will use - but the message is too, "trust Nanny" and not enough, "trust yourself".

I'm a 'trust yourself' kinda guy...

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I mentioned back in October that I picked up a new car. It's actually not new or a car. It's a used 2008 mini-SUV (I'm getting 25 mpg, you eco-freaks!). I got a great deal, very low mileage, blah, blah, blah.

I've been having a problem with the right-rear tire. It won't hold pressure for more than a week or so. By that time, it's down as much as 10 psi. The little warning light goes on telling me it's low again. It's a pain in the ass to keep filling it up. I finally decided to get it fixed.

The tires are Firestone. Original equipment.

I go to the brand-spanking new Firestone store in town. Lot's of balloon, banners, etc., pronouncing, "Grand Opening Sale".

The parking lot is empty.

I go up to the lady at the stylish kiosk and tell her my plight. Tire won't hold air, original equipment, what can you do?

Well, she says, they can look at it, but original equipment tires don't come with a warranty (WTF?), and if there's a leak, they'll have to charge me.

My mood goes from that of a potential customer to Smart Assed Mother Fucker.

I tell her that, with my years of driving experience, I can categorically confirm that the tire has a leak. I say that I can also confirm that there are no nails or screws in the tread, so it is most likely a product defect - I already checked the valve stem, and it was tight as a drum.

So, pray tell, fair lady, what would it cost me for you to fix your defective product?

Twenty-eight dollars. Minimum.

I literally burst out laughing. Didn't say a word, just walked out, laughing.

It is because of horrible service like this - not just from Firestone - that I always go to America's Tires (it has other names in other parts of the country), as does my entire family.

Last week, my youngest son was in his car, and had driven over a fork (huh?) which was fully embedded in the tire. He took it to America's Tires, and it was fixed for free. No service charge, no excise tax, no nothing. Just free.

I'll drop by there sometime this week and see if they'll fix the tire of a competitor. I'll bet they do...

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

A New Civil War? 

Banning guns addresses a fundamental right of all Americans to feel safe.
--Senator Diane Feinstein, 1993 AP Interview

Something is going on that is quite interesting. Especially when you consider the pains the Obama-ites went to in selling the "Barry as Lincoln" theme during the inauguration.

It seems that a number of states are attempting to flex their states-rights muscles.
As the Obama administration attempts to push through Congress a nearly $1 trillion deficit spending plan that is weighted heavily toward advancing typically Democratic-supported social welfare programs, a rebellion against the growing dominance of federal control is beginning to spread at the state level.

So far, eight states have introduced resolutions declaring state sovereignty under the Ninth and Tenth Amendment to the Constitution, including Arizona, Hawaii, Montana, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, Oklahoma and Washington.
What is heartening, is that another 12 states - for a total of 2o states - are considering similar legislation.
Analysts expect that in addition, another 20 states may see similar measures introduced this year, including Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Nevada, Maine and Pennsylvania.
Look at that total list of 20 states. I never thought I'd see a list that had Montana, Alaska, Georgia and Idaho on there with California, Washington, Maine and Pennsylvania.

The states are primarily leaning on the 9th and 10th Amendments as the basis for their legislation. Yes, sports fans, you've seen that argument made here many, many times in the past. I've got this "thang" for the Constitution.
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Have the states finally had enough of Washington dominance? It seems so, at least for 40% of the states. I'd expect to see similar measures passed in most of the "red" states, putting the number well over 50% of the states.

Then what? Let's say the majority of states, and the majority of the population, tell Washington to go piss up a rope. Does anyone think the powers that be in Washington will just curl up in a ball and call it quits?

No damned way.

The vast majority of our Congress-critters live for power - especially the Senators. They'll fight this hammer and tong.

Washington will begin using the power of the dollar to try and bring states back into line. They'll cut off highway dollars as they've threatened with any states that won't sign up for Real ID. Also, without a Real ID-compliant driver's licenses, you can't get on an airplane. Nanny can get away with this because she also runs the airlines.

Ahh, what a tangled web we weave...
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Will it turn into a civil war, with the Lincoln Of Our Times leading the Union?

I doubt it. Washington will do some horse trading to appease the dissident states, and we'll go back to our centrally controlled form of government. Nothing will change, and Washington will continue to bloat and exert more unconstitutional power over the states and the people.

Still, it's heartening to see a number of states actually growing political backbones and taking a stab at bringing the feds into line. Who knows, perhaps the traditional militia will be reborn...

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Saturday, February 07, 2009

Let's Put This Into Perspective 

Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.
--Marcus Aurelius

OK, we're going to "stimulate" the economy with at least $827 billion. We all know that it will be more, but let's use that as our number.

What does that kind of money mean? We hear these trillions and billion bandied about, but what do you get for $827 billion.

If you were a country, you'd now be the 17th largest economy in the world - perhaps larger depending upon the source you're reading.

According to the CIA World Factbook 2008 numbers, you'd fall somewhere in between The Netherlands ($909 billion GDP) and Turkey ($799 billion GDP).
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You could buy 33 million cars, each costing $25,000 each.

You could hold a lottery for 3 million American winners (1% of population) and give them each a check for $275,000. Hell, just give every man, woman and child in America a check for $2,750.

You could pay each of the 20 million illegal aliens $41,000 to leave and never come back. That's 20 million jobs opening up right now. Twenty million Americans and legal aliens earning their own keep.

You could buy 134 billion copies of the US Constitution. That's 22 copies for every man, woman and child ON EARTH.

Run the numbers for yourself. It's fun.... and very depressing. What do you think YOU'LL get for your share of the $827 billion? Besides a good screwing.

Stimulating, indeed...

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Congressional Theatrics 

I must tell you, there are those in the public debate who have said that we must act now. The last time I heard that, I was on a used-car lot. The truth is, every time somebody tells you that you've got to do the deal right now, it usually means they're going to get the better part of the deal.
--Rep. Mike Pence, R-Indiana, September 23, 2008

These bastards are good. Very good.

Look what has happened with the current version of the bailout bill.

It flew through the House of Representatives with a price tag of $819 billion. Senate Republicans and some "moderate" Democrats waived their arms, stomped their feet, drew a proverbial "line in the sand," and basically looked like they were actually listening to the American people, who have overwhelmingly said, "NO" to the bailout.

The news this morning is that everyone worked through the night, and were able to cut over $100 billion from the bill. I'm thinking to myself, "Hey, $100 billion left in the pockets of Americans instead of putting it in the hands of bureaucrats is better than a stick in the eye."

Then I hear the specifics of the "savings." It seems as though the moment the bill hit the floor of the Senate, more buckets-o-pork were added, bloating the bill to around $925 billion.

So, a bill that originally had a price tag of $819 billion, is now going to cost us $827 billion, and we somehow saved $100 billion in the process.
Officials put the cost of the Senate package at $827 billion, which combines massive spending, tax cuts and incentives that both the administration and the majority in Congress hope will stimulate the economy into recovery.
Now, I wasn't a math major in college, but that looks like an $8 billion increase to me, not a $100 billion cut.

We'll now get all of the stern-faced Congress-critters standing in front of the impressively decorated lecterns telling us how they, "made tough choices," "saved American's money," "looked out for the little guy," blah, blah, blah.

Thanks for all of the hard work, assholes.
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To you Koolaid drinkers that think the bailout is a good idea, consider this: Remember the Dot Com bubble burst? There were cries of economic ruin. Nanny didn't intercede. The "hit" to the economy lasted a couple of years. Somehow, the country survived. Crappy companies went out of business, the fat was cut, and we moved forward.

Salary caps were not put in place. At least not by the government. The shareholders tied executive compensation to performance, not to keeping the CEOs chair warm.

Shareholders haven't seemed to grasp that concept. If they want to pay some guy a billion dollars a year, that is their choice. But there has to be a down-side if they make the wrong decision. With Nanny's bailout - whether it's bankers or auto executives - that lesson will never be learned.

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Friday, February 06, 2009

Networking 

More business decisions occur over lunch and dinner than at any other time, yet no MBA courses are given on the subject.
--Peter Drucker

I had lunch today with a lady I used to work with. We're very good friends, but haven't seen each other for 6 months or so. We trade the occasional email and phone call, but haven't gotten together in a while. She's actually the one that got me thinking seriously about Idaho. She and her husband still intend on moving to the Eagle or Star area when she retires in 3 years.

So at lunch, we were talking about what was going on at the bank, and a ton of other subjects. I brought up the fact that I figured my traditional banking career had come to an end. Regardless of my background and decades of experience, the trend was to hire "young bucks" at half the price and let them learn on the job.

I understand that thinking. Honestly, it's how I made my start in 1977. If you hire someone with some smarts and fit them with training wheels, you'll get the job done - usually without much damage.

I told her I was going to most likely go out on my own and consult (for a couple of reasons, I couldn't tell her I actually had already started). I mentioned to her about getting my NRA training certification. Her son, a firefighter in Oakland, had started the process, but never finished up. I said I was thinking of talking to him about teaming up to do some larger classes, but that that would have to wait until he got his cert.

I told her I had probably another 2 weeks before I would show up as certified on the NRA systems, then I'd have to wait 4 weeks or so for them to ship me the classroom packets (you can't order them until you have the cert in hand). So realistically, I'm looking at 6 weeks before I can teach my first class.

I mentioned that my biggest concern was finding facilities in which to teach. Especially here in the SF Bay Area, if you mention firearms, people wet themselves and give you the cold shoulder. Finding an understanding landlord that would rent me space on an as-needed basis was going to be tough.

She said, "What about Kenny?"

Kenny is her husband, and also a good friend. Kenny is a BSD (big swingin' dick) with one of the local unions. They have a HUGE hall and classroom facility. She said he'd be happy to let me use the rooms FOR FREE, and would even allow me to put fliers/advertisement in their local halls (yes, she was speaking for him, and it is as good as if he were sitting there at lunch with us).

I was blown away.

First of all, I could just kick myself for not thinking about that in the first place. I've got 8 years of face time with a lot of high-level union officials in the Bay Area. This should work wonderfully, especially if I offer their members a discount on the price in exchange for the use of the classrooms (there is always a quid pro quo with these guys, even if it isn't stated up front).

That got me thinking about identifying other organizations with similar set ups. Churches, fraternal organizations, clubs, etc. They have the facilities AND a group to sell to.

Having lunch today, if not solving my problem, has certainly given me a path to getting it resolved.
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How many jobs have you gotten in the past were as a result of knowing someone? Thinking back, every job I've ever had, save two of them, were the result of "knowing someone who knows someone".

Networking - keeping in touch with people BEFORE you need them - works wonders. I had no expectations today of anything other than shooting the shit with an old friend. It turned into the potential of getting the firearms training business up and running.

Now, instead of having to think local - just my county - I may be able to expand this bad boy throughout the entire Bay Area.

Such a deal! And I didn't even have to buy lunch! Not to worry, though. She and Kenny be repaid many times over.

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