Monday, September 30, 2013

Perhaps We Can Get The Under 30 Set Interested?

Two months ago, a young mother-of-two was stoned to death by her relatives on the order of a tribal court in Pakistan. Her crime: possession of a mobile phone.
Arifa Bibi’s uncle, cousins and others hurled stones and bricks at her until she died, according to media reports. She was buried in a desert far from her village. It’s unlikely anyone was arrested.
But her case is not unique. Stoning is legal or practised in at least 15 countries or regions. And campaigners fear this barbaric form of execution may be on the rise, particularly in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq.
You shudder to think what reaction the poster from the movie Clueless would get.

Headed To Helena, Montana This Week

I have state business to perform in Helena, Montana... and that's not even my state!

Government Shutdown?

I found this poster in the comments over at The College Fix's article about an absurd "diversity training" at the University of Wisconsin.  Read it too!

Sunday, September 29, 2013


Yesterday: 3.5 miles, 74 minutes. I felt absolutely great! Today the left knee is a little unhappy, so I'll skip tonight. I will be in a hotel with a swimming pool for most of this coming week in Montana (company business), so I will focus on aerobic swimming instead.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

A Disappointing First Try At Using VirtualBox To Install Windows 7 Pro Under Ubuntu Linux

Windows 7 Pro install started just fine from the DVD-ROM.  But part-way through, it said that the device driver for the DVD-ROM was not present, and it would need me to put in a CD or DVD with a device driver.  So how did it successfully read the Windows 7 Pro install disk? 

The good news is that it appears that Windows 7 install at least does some sanity tests before it starts erasing your hard disk.


It has to be labeled as such, or a mainstream journalist might mistake it for fact:

Subject: Fun facts about the AR-15
Fun Facts About the AR-15
* The inventor of the AR-15 was Satan, though his patent has since expired.
* Scientists have confirmed the deadly effects of an AR-15 by giving it to a chimpanzee who then murdered them.
* Scientists agree that each year the AR-15 will grow more deadly until it kills everyone in the entire world.
* Some believe that Hitler was in fact an AR-15 in a rubber mask.
* In the Garden of Eden, God gave Adam and Eve access to every firearm out there except for the AR-15 which he told them not to touch because it was too evil. But then the NRA, in the guise of a serpent, told Eve that the AR-15 is really fun to shoot. So then Eve took the AR-15 and started shooting all the animals in the garden because she is one awesome chick.
* The part that makes the AR-15 so extra deadly is the handle on top. The AR-15 would be used in less murders if it were more inconvenient to carry.
* It was an AR-15 that told Miley Cyrus to dance like that.
* Bullets that are normally harmless will kill instantly when fired out of the AR-15.
* The reason AR-15s have that prominent handle on them is because the most requested feature for an assault rifle was to be able to carry it like a Hello Kitty lunch box.
* If you find yourself surrounded by AR-15's, know that they will fire automatically if they sense fear.
* The AR-15 is easily concealable and can fit inside a matchbox.
* The AR-15 is the leading cause of global warming from how its bullets shoot holes in the ozone.
* A very small percentage of gun deaths are attributed to the AR-15 because it is very good at disguising itself as other guns to frame them.
* What are the differences between an M16 and an AR-15? Scientists agree that it is something.
* The AR-15 can be rendered harmless by giving it only a 10 round magazine as people always miss with the first ten rounds and an AR-15 takes an hour and a half to reload.
* The AR-15 can shoot through schools.
* In a battle between Aquaman and an AR-15, Aquaman would break down and buy it so people might think he’s more manly.
* There were no shooting deaths until the invention of an AR-15. No one even considered using a gun to shoot another human being until someone saw an AR-15 and said, “I bet I could use this to kill a lot of people.”
* There was an assault musket similar to the AR-15 used by the world’s most evil pirates, but it was pronounced “Arrr-15.”
* The Assault Weapon ban was needed because it is well known that an AR-15 with both a pistol grip and a flash suppressor would be unstoppable by any modern military.
* In Europe there is no such thing as an AR-15 and thus also no such thing as murders. Instead of being violent, people there just drink wine and smoke cigarettes all day.
* If you are shot by an AR-15, you become one and kill others.
* The AR-15 is responsible for 95% of all deaths each year. The rest of the deaths are from obesity and drone strikes.

Just Finished Paying The Last (I Think) Of The Bills From The Heart Surgery

Yow.  Not quite as painful as the surgery and its aftermath, but still really painful. 

Friday, September 27, 2013


My daughter bought one of those cute little Chromebooks.  I confess, you just want to pat it on the head and say, "cutchie, cutchie, coo!"  The keyboard seems a bit small for my hands, but I could probably get used to it.  The screen is a bit old for my old eyes, but I could probably just enlarge the font size in the browser or in a word processor.

It seems to have a few less keys than a full PC keyboard, and it is not a substitute for a PC.  But it seems like a nice substitute for a tablet, a smartphone, or other device where you are tempted to type a novel (into the cloud), but you would come to your senses before that point was reached.

At the same time, it is compact enough to throw into a large coat pocket, and even in the cramped space of the average coach airline seat, there would be enough to room to type reasonably comfortably.

Alternative to Server Side Includes For Blogger

For server-side includes, you can use html:include to dynamically insert an HTML page.  Is there anything equivalent that you can use with Blogger?  My daughter is about to do a makeover of my blog (and perhaps my web page) to bring them into the modern age.  One of her plans is to add tabs to the top of the blog, like does, where you can see my books, popular magazine articles, and scholarly articles -- some of the stuff that is at  If there was something equivalent to html:include for Blogger, it would allow us to skip having two copies of these pages.  (If you have two copies of the same page, you know that one is them is going to be out of date.)

Why Nothing Short of Complete Victory Is Appropriate

The history of al-Qaeda's use of torture is horrifyingly complete, and this account from the September 26, 2013 U.K. Daily Mail just fits right in:
Soldiers told of the horrific torture meted out by terrorists in the Nairobi mall massacre yesterday with claims hostages were dismembered, had their eyes gouged out and were left hanging from hooks in the ceiling.
Men were said to have been castrated and had fingers removed with pliers before being blinded and hanged. 
Children were found dead in the food court fridges with knives still embedded in their bodies, it was claimed.

Read more: Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook
It gets worse.

It really does behoove you to know that Mohammed's mother was Aminah bint Wahb, because the fine fellows who did these things would use this fact as evidence that you were a Muslim, and let you go.  Obviously, this crowd is not representative of Islam, but I will be a lot happier when I cease to see excuses being made by Muslims for this bunch.

Some U.S. newspapers are reporting this story, but most?  They are probably afraid of creating negative perceptions of al-Qaeda.

Transporting Ammunition in Magazines on Airliners

I will be traveling by airliner a bit in the next few months, and I will be transporting a handgun.  Current TSA rules concerning ammunition require:
  • Travelers must securely pack any ammunition in fiber (such as cardboard), wood or metal boxes or other packaging specifically designed to carry small amounts of ammunition.
Past experience is that ammunition in magazines is not allowed unless the ammunition is completely covered:
May I pack my ammunition in a clip or a speed loader?Yes, provided the magazine or clip completely and securely enclose the ammunition (e.g., by securely covering the portions of the magazine where the ammunition is exposed with a metal, plastic, or cardboard sleeve).
But what magazine or clip does that?  Or does this mean that a magazine must be enclosed in a case that covers the ammunition?  The last time that I flew with a gun, the ammunition was seized from the magazines, and I was told that this was not legal -- yet this used to be allowed.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

One Of Those Reminders of the Advantages of Ubuntu Linux

I am posting from the Linux box right now, a Compaq NC6000 built around 2002 or 2003, so quite ancient.  Under Windows, the maximum resolution for the displays, either on the laptop or an external monitor is 1024x768.  I never thought much about it.  Under Ubuntu Linux, the laptop will let me go to 1920x1080 on the external monitor.  This has to be entirely a function of superior device drivers.

Weird Stuff Found Under the Carpets in My Son's Car

My son bought a 2009 Suzuki SX4 a few months back.  A few weeks after he bought it, he came to a complete screeching panic stop to avoid an idiot who was not paying attention to little things on the road like other cars.  Shortly thereafter, he noticed an odd sound like pieces of metal or broken glass rolling around.  The dealership from whom he bought it charged him a pile of money but could not find nothing wrong, or even anything that explained the weird noise.

He finally chased down the noise.  Under the front right carpeting, he found what at first he thought were ball bearings.  This is worrisome; where would ball bearings have come out, and what bearings needed them?  But after I looked at them for a while, I realized that they were not ball bearings, because they were not regular enough in shape or finish.  They appear to be steel shot, like might come out of dove loads.  What?

At first I wondered if this was a piece of noisy sabotage put in by an angry Suzuki assembly line worker.  You probably know the story of a clever saboteur on the Cadillac line back in the 1950s who put a piece of masking tape and a washer inside the seat so that once the vehicle was up to freeway speed, it would rattle back and forth, irritating customers who had bought a very expensive car -- and not a rattletrap!  The cost of repair was substantial, because the seats had to be torn apart to remove this cheap piece of sabotage.

Nor does it appear to be the cause of why the car was traded into the dealer.  This noise only appeared many weeks after my son bought the car.  There were weird noises at first.

The problem with this explanation is that this only failed after an extreme braking event, and far after the original factory warranty.  I now have a different theory.  This is Idaho.  I suspect that somehow a shotgun shell slipped out of someone's gun in the trunk area, it managed to end up somewhere under the rear seat, and pressure caused the shotgun shell to rupture.  Under extreme breaking, these hundreds (and I mean literally hundreds) of pellets flew forward into the area under the front passenger seat.

We managed to vacuum nearly all of them out -- or at least so many that they are no longer particularly noisy or disturbing -- but I do wonder where the rest of the shell is.  Some day, this Suzuki is going to be crushed for scrap, and dropped into a melting pot -- and there is going to be a rather loud bang as the primer and powder go off.

Backing Up Over Your Own Kid: Why Isn't the Federal Government Doing Something About This?

I can see why someone who has backed a car over his own child would feel terribly guilt-ridden about this.  I can see why he might start a movement to increase awareness that you should make sure that your small children are not behind your car before starting it up.  But insisting that the federal government needs to do something about it?  From the September 25, 2013 Houston Chronicle:
Consumer advocates and parents who accidentally backed over their children plan to sue the federal government, forcing it to issue a long-anticipated rule requiring automakers to help drivers see behind their vehicles.
"If it takes this kind of action, that is what we're going to have to do," said Greg Gulbransen, a New York pediatrician who accidentally backed over and killed his son, Cameron, in 2002, and is a plaintiff in the lawsuit expected to be filed Wednesday. "We've tried so hard for so long, and now we're stuck."
What next?  Are people who beat their kids to death while drunk going to demand that the government mandate monitored video cameras in every room of your house?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Windows 7 Upgrade: Is This Wise?

The Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor warns me to get the TI PCIxx12 Integrated FlashMedia Controller driver update -- but there does not actually seem to be one -- and the Intel PRO/100 VE Network Connection driver update.  Unfortunately, the Intel version of the newer driver won't install on an HP DV5220 because HP made their own special version of the driver, and HP's web site has a driver update -- but it says that "Your system does not meet the minimum requirements for this update.  Update has been cancelled."  What does that mean?  In any case, the driver date is 2006, which hardly sounds like something that would be Windows 7 appropriate.

I am getting increasingly reluctant to go forward with this upgrade out of fear that by the time I am done, I will have a completely inoperable PC.  Yeah, yeah, I know, Linux, leave the evil empire of Redmond behind.  That's not completely practical quite yet.  But if this PC is just too old to upgrade with drivers that will work with my hardware, maybe I am better buying a new PC with Windows 7 included.

UPDATE: I think at a minimum, I will use XXCLONE to copy the Recovery partition on my old hard disk onto a CD, so that if installing Windows 7 turns out to be impractical, I can at least reinstall Windows XP before buying a new PC.  Curiously enough, my much older (2003 or so) Compaq NC6000, according to Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor, will have no problem running Windows 7.

One of the comments said to run Windows XP in a VM of Linux.  I might take a look at that as a solution, assuming that VMWare is available for Ubuntu Linux.  But finding time to get these things done is fast becoming a serious problem. I need to create a PowerPoint presentation for the event coming up in Denver, I have an actual paying research project that I am supposed to be doing, and I still need to prepare weeks 10-16 of my online Western Civ class.  If only I did not need to go to my day job as well.

UPDATE 2: Here is a detailed description of installing Windows 7 Professional in VMWare for Linux.  This looks really cool -- and best of all, I can try it on my dual boot Linux/Windows box first and see how well it works!

UPDATE 3: Some of the comments on the previous linked article indicate that Virtualbox is perhaps even a better solution.

There are several attractions running in a VM:

1. Improved security, since the worst that is likely to happen is that you have an infected operating system in the VM, and you can discard and reinstall without losing functionality of the Linux box.  Of course, if the infection gets into files that you want to restore to the VM, that does not solve the problem.

2. Because it uses the host operating system's device drivers, if it supports a device, and the OS you have installed in the VM does not, no problem.  The VM translates requests from the virtual OS to the host OS.

The downside is likely to be performance.  I would expect that any situation where the VM interacts with the host OS are going to be slower, perhaps quite a bit slower, than running native.

Really Sad: Alexis' Final Note

From the September 25, 2013 Los Angeles Times:
The Washington Navy Yard shooter believed he was being subjected to an “ultra low frequency attack” and left an electronic note saying this was “what I’ve been subject to for the last 3 months, and to be perfectly honest that is what has driven me to this,” the FBI revealed Wednesday.

Aaron Alexis, 34, a computer technician for a private Navy contractor, killed 12 people and wounded four others in the Sept. 16 rampage as he fired a sawed-off Remington 870 Express shotgun in which he had etched several statements, including “End to the torment!”
The hallucinations that a schizophrenic experiences are as real as what you and I experience every day.  They hear voices, they see things, they sometimes feel things crawling under their skin -- and they are like a nightmare from which you cannot wake.  No surprise that those suffering like this do some incredibly crazy and horrible things.

There were several chances to prevent this, and alleviate his suffering before his suffering turned into the suffering of many others.  And we blew it.

UPDATE: Someone is paying attention.  From the September 24, 2013 Los Angeles Times:
A Utah man was behind bars Tuesday on charges of planning to attack a Salt Lake City shopping mall and a cinema to kill “as many people as possible.”

According to a variety of local media, including  newspapers and the Associated Press, Jack Harry Stiles, 42, told a crisis counselor that he was planning his attack for Wednesday, the anniversary of his mother’s death. The counselor contacted authorities, who filed felony criminal charges of threat of terrorism on Monday. Stiles was being held in lieu of $1-million bail.

Authorities said Stiles, who has a history of mental illness and of making threats, didn't have any weapons but was planning to buy two guns with silencers and stock up on ammunition.
He is bearing charged criminally.  I suspect that this is simpler than hospitalizing him.

UPDATE 2: The news account about Alexis mentions that he had carved "End to the torment!" in the stock of the shotgun.  I suddenly remembered last night that Patrick Purdy, a mentally ill drifter who murdered five children in a Stockton schoolyard in 1989, had carved "Hazbollah" in the stock of AK-47.  Can anyone think of any other examples of mass murderers altering the stocks of their guns?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Upcoming Interviews (To Quote the Blues Brothers, "We're On A Mission From God")

September 17

3:35 PM (MT): Sportsman's Channel with Cam Edwards (nationally carried)
3:30 PM (PT): KFIV Fresno, Cal. 1360 AM
10:00 PM (ET): KDKA, Philadelphia 1020 AM

September 18

9:30 AM (ET): WWPR, Tampa Bay, FL 1490 AM
9:40 AM (CT): WHO, Des Moines, IA 1040 AM
9:30 PM (CT): CJOB, Winnipeg, Manitoba 680 AM

September 19

7:00 AM (CT): Walton & Johnson Show, syndicated click the link for a list
8:35 AM (ET): WDRC, Hartford, CT 1360 AM
8:00 AM (CT): KMAR, Winnsboro, LA 95.9 FM
3:35 PM (ET): WPTK, Raleigh, NC 850 AM
5:00 PM (ET): WAPI, Birmingham, AL 1070 AM

September 20

8:32 AM (ET): WPTF, Raleigh, NC 680 and 850 AM

September 21: KFTK, St. Louis, MO 97.1 FM

7:35 AM (CT): 

September 23

8:35 AM (ET): WVHU, Huntington, WV 800 AM
12:20 PM (PT):

September 24

8:00 PM (ET): Jason Lewis Show, nationally syndicated; click on the map to see if there is station in your state

September 25

9:10 PM (ET): WOND, Linwood, NJ 1400 AM

September 26

11:30 AM (ET): WATR, Waterbury, CT 1320 AM

October 15

9:45 AM (CT): KORN, Mitchell, SD 1490 AM

Monday, September 23, 2013

Islam: Confused on the Concept?

From the September 23, 2013 Washington Post coverage of the terrorist attack in Kenya:
One British man said his wife and children were hiding behind a meat counter in a store with other women and children. The gunmen sprayed bullets at them, killing a woman and a teenage girl, and wounding his wife, said the man, who asked that neither his nor his spouse’s name be used because they feared retribution. His wife lay in a hospital bed and declined to speak.
The gunmen, the man said, released the children who were still alive and informed his injured wife that she, too, could leave if she converted to Islam, making her recite the Shahada, Islam’s basic profession of belief....
Outside in the parking lot, kids were taking part in a cooking class when the gunmen began firing randomly in their direction. “They actually targeted the kids,” Ishaq said. “There was a brother and sister running away. They were shot dead in front of us.”

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Windows XP Inventory of Programs?

I am getting ready to upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 7.  I have dozens of programs that I have installed on this PC that I am going to want to reinstall under Windows 7.  In some cases, these are programs that I downloaded, paid a license fee for, and then installed.  I can go through and try to find all the serial numbers in the Help displays for each program -- but is there a program out there that already does this?  It would be a lot faster than doing it by hand.

Charles Krauthammer's Column

From the September 19, 2013 Washington Post, after discussing the Providence, Rhode Island Police Department report on Alexis' behavior:
Had this happened 35 years ago in Boston, Alexis would have been brought to me as the psychiatrist on duty at the emergency room of the Massachusetts General Hospital. Were he as agitated and distressed as in the police report, I probably would have administered an immediate dose of Haldol, the most powerful fast-acting antipsychotic of the time.

This would generally have relieved the hallucinations and delusions, a blessing not only in itself, but also for the lucidity brought on that would have allowed him to give us important diagnostic details — psychiatric history, family history, social history, medical history, etc. If I had thought he could be sufficiently cared for by family or friends to receive regular oral medication, therapy and follow-up, I would have discharged him. Otherwise, I’d have admitted him. And if he refused, I’d have ordered a 14-day involuntary commitment.

Sounds cruel? On the contrary. For many people living on park benches, commitment means a warm bed, shelter and three hot meals a day. For Alexis, it would have meant the beginning of a treatment regimen designed to bring him back to himself before discharging him to a world heretofore madly radioactive.
Make sure you read the comments.  It's all Reagan's fault!

Saturday, September 21, 2013


I have started on my interval training exercise program, with the blessing of my cardiologist.  The last couple of nights I have been starting with about ten minutes of building up to 3.0 mph (2.0, then 2.5, the 3.0), alternating with four minutes of 3.6 mph, followed by eight minutes of 3.0 mph.  At the end, I often do a couple of minutes of 4.0 mph before a five minute cool down at 3.0 mph.  And do I feel great!

Guns No Longer In Short Supply

I was talking to my friend Terry Hoover who works for Armageddon Armory a couple of nights ago, and I mentioned that it looks like the panic buying of ammunition and guns has cooled off a bit, and he agreed.  In fact, they are awash in guns right now, sitting on the shelf, waiting for someone to give them a good home!

The prices he quoted on some of them actually seemed almost reasonable.  (I still have some heart repair and kidney stone removal bills to pay off.)  This is what he said was in stock:
Many models of AR-15 (.223/5.56mm) rifles in stock manufactured by:


Sig Sauer
Daniels Defense
American Tactical

Several Models of AR-10 (308/7.62mm) manufactured by:
Armalite AR50  50BMG rifle
LAR Big Boar 50BMG rifle
Barrett M99 50BMG rifle
Barrett M82A1 50BMG semi auto rifle
Barrett M107 50BMG semi auto rifle
Lots of 50BMG ammo in stock, new and remanufactured, Ball, Armor Piercing, Tracer, Armor Piercing Incendary Tracer, etc.

Bushmaster M17S
IO AK47 (hot pink) 7.62x39
Norinco SKS
CAI Yugo AK pistol
Arsenal .223 AK pistol
Keltec SU 16 .223 folding rifle
Professional Ordinance CARBON AR-15 Pistol (before Bushmaster bought them out)

PTR-91 Pistol
FN-FAL (by CAI)) several
Sterling MK IV 9mm
Mini 14 ranch rifle target
Mini 14 ranch rifle wood
Mini 14 ranch rifle synthetic

Auto Ordinance M1 Carbine new
1944 Inland M1 Carbine
1943 Saginaw Steering Gear M1 Carbine

Springfield Armory M1A (308/7.62mm)  wood
Springfield Armory M1A (308/7.62mm)  synthetic

Mitchell Mauser Yugo M48
Model 91/30 Russian Mosin Nagant 7.62x54R (several)
Model 59 Russian Mosin Nagant 7.62x54R
Swiss M1911 straight pull rifles
Steyr 1895 straight pull rifles
Enfield Volley Rifle
Cobray clone  M11 380
Cobray clone M11 9mm
Cobray clone M10 45
.22 caliber 'Assualt Rifles' look alikes
AR-15 Colt
AR15 S&W
AR15 Mossberg
M1 Carbine
HK 4160
Beretta ARX160
22 pistols
Beretta Neos
High Standard
SIG Mosquito
Ruger SR22
Walther P22

handguns  ( 380 & 9mm)
Springfield Armory
Hi Point
Pock Island

handguns 1911 .45
Rock Island Armory
Para Ordinance
Springfield Armpry

Colt Tactical Elite 38 super

Judges, derringers, Tokarev, Makarov, black powder revolvers, many many 2 inch barrel 38 revolvers, hunting revolvers,
cowboy guns , lever action rifles and single action revolvers  TOO MONY TO LIST !
Siaga Shotguns in stock, 410, 20 gauge and 12 gauge, tactical and regular versions, drums, stocks parts in stock !
dozens of riot shotguns, mini shotguns

hunting rifles new and used

youth hunting rifles

Rascal and Cricket  youth starter rifles
Tracer .223, 308 amd 7.62x54R 50 BMG
8mm Lebel
45, 9, 380, 9 makarov, 357 sig, 10mm, 38, 357, 44, 45, 45LC,
Hunting ammo

sorry NO .22LR, 17, 22Mag, 30-30, 30 carbine, 30 tokarev, or 22-250 at this time

Meals Ready to Eat  MRE's by the entree, the single bag, by the case or dozens of cases, we have them 25 year shelf life.

Mellow Potheads

It is an article of faith in some circles that marijuana makes people mellow,unlike alcohol, which makes people violent.   I have never really questioned this article of faith, but I was reading
Jeffrey W. Swanson, Charles E. Holzer, Vijay K. Ganju, and Robert Tsutomo Jono, "Violence and Psychiatric Disorder in the Community: Evidence From Epidemiologic Catchment Area Surveys" in Violent Behavior & Mental Illness: A Compendium of Articles From Psychiatric Services and Hospital and Community Psychiatry (Carl C. Bell, intro., 1997).  It is a large sample population:10,059.  They broke down self-reported violent behavior by various mental illness diagnoses, and this particular table caught my eye:

The cannabis abusers are less violent than the alcohol abusers, and both are substantially less violent than "Other drug" (which probably includes meth), but relative to the other categories, there seems to be some legitimate basis for federal law that prohibits drug addicts from possessing firearms.  People with alcohol problems are not prohibited from firearms possession by federal law -- and there is probably a case for it.

UPDATE: It struck me as I was working on this law review article that because many of the respondents are "dual diagnosis," both mental illness and substance abusers, the high rates of violence that this table shows for all drug abusers includes many in both categories.  There is evidence that much of the high rate of violent crime by the mentally ill is because the combination of substance abuse and mental illness is much worse than either by itself .

Friday, September 20, 2013

Today's Annoying Discovery About 401k Plans

After 59 1/2, you can take money out of your 401(k) plan without penalty -- but it is still subject to taxation as you take it out.  I knew this, but somehow I was thinking that I could just convert it to municipal bonds, and have a tax-free income stream.  Nope!  The interest income is tax-free, but when you take that interest income out of your 401(k) (according to the account manager I spoke to today), it is taxable income again.

If so, it argues for leaving it in equity funds (which in the long run will likely outperform bonds), and taking a relatively small fraction out each year to supplement tax-free income in my personal portfolio.  I suppose that I could take out money from the 401(k) each year and invest it in municipal bonds, slowly moving it over an entirely tax-free income stream -- but it somewhat frustrates me to think that the IRS is going to get a chunk of that every year.

Complicating this, you have to take a minimum amount out each year after 70 to avoid penalties.

More Signs That The Navy Yard Shooter Was Spiraling Out Of Control

The September 19, 2013 New York Times reports that there were many incidents showing that Alexis was losing his sanity in the last few months:
In the days before Aaron Alexis called the police in Newport, R.I., to complain that he was hearing voices sent by a “microwave machine,” employees at the Residence Inn in nearby Middletown were struggling to cope with his behavior.
Daily logs kept by the hotel detailed how on successive nights, he knocked on doors to find the voices, woke up a person in one room and frightened another so badly she asked to move. Then came a call from his employer.
“Brenda from The Experts Inc. called re: Mr. Alexis in 407,” a Residence Inn employee noted in a log dated Aug. 7 that was reviewed by The New York Times.
“She explained that he is unstable and the company is bringing him home,” the entry continued. “She asked me to check the room (it was vacant), and check him out.”
This was a tragedy that could have been prevented, and a tragedy not just for the victims, but for Aaron Alexis as well.  Another victory for the ACLU and its abstract notions of due process, completely separated from concern from human beings.

I Will Be Participating In The NRA-ILA "Firearms and the Second Amendment" Symposium in Denver October 12

Just received my invitation.  I hope to see some of you there.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The XPocalypse Is Nigh!

I don't know if this was original, but in a cube today I saw a reminder that Windows XP support ends 4/8/14 (or a week before taxes are due): hence the title.

Your Tax Dollars At Waste

The headline from the September 17, 2013 Detroit News, unfortunately, tells you quite enough:

U.S. to exit Fisker at hefty taxpayer loss
There is no good news in the article itself:
The Energy Department said Tuesday it will auction off its outstanding $168 million loan to the now-closed electric vehicle manufacturer Fisker Automotive Inc., a move that will likely mean significant losses to taxpayers. It would be the second automaker to fail after receiving loans that were later sold by the government at a loss.
Peter W. Davidson, executive director of the Energy Department’s loan program office, said in a blog posting Tuesday that the department will exit Fisker, whose Karma luxury sedan was driven by celebrities such as Al Gore, Justin Bieber and Leonardo DiCaprio.

From The Detroit News:
Gore, Bieber, and DiCaprio -- all very good reasons for the government to lose money.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

On Michael Graham's Show At 1:30 PM Eastern Time Today

This is apparently carried by radio stations outside of Boston, or you can hear it online.

"Hearing Voices"

From September 17, 2013 AP:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. law enforcement officials are telling The Associated Press that the Navy contractor identified as the gunman in the mass shootings at the Washington Navy Yard had been suffering a host of serious mental issues, including paranoia and a sleep disorder. He also had been hearing voices in his head, the officials said.
Yup.  I was right.

September 17, 2013 CNN has a long story about the AR-15 -- but starts out admitting that there was no AR-15 involved:
However, federal law enforcement sources told CNN Tuesday that authorities have recovered three weapons from the scene of the mass shooting, including one -- a shotgun -- that investigators believe Alexis brought in to the compound. The other two weapons, which sources say were handguns, may have been taken from guards at the Navy complex.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Navy Yard Murders

While the Washington Post is still reporting that there are other gunmen being sought, the Los Angeles Times reports that the D.C. police have stopped searching for others.  Details that the Los Angeles Times are reporting suggest to me that the dead shooter may have been recently discharged from his job:
Federal officials have identified Alexis, a government civilian contractor who was new to the Washington, D.C., area, according to a law enforcement official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the investigation. He may have used the identification badge of another person to gain access to the base.
Why do they say that?  My guess is that Alexis no longer had a valid badge.  Perhaps let go because of odd behavior or performance problems at work?  I fear that they may find "another person" whose badge Alexis used somewhere else, and not in good shape.  Latest from September 16, 2013 AP indicates that he used his own badge, so that theory is out. Also:
Federal officials say Alexis was arrested in Fort Worth on Sept. 5, 2010, on suspicion of discharging a weapon. The Tarrant County district attorney did not prosecute.
Alexis was 34 at the time of death.  He is the right age that if he started to lose his sanity in his 20s, this would all fit.

UPDATE: More from the Los Angeles Times:
The 34-year-old former Navy electrician’s mate identified as the gunman who killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard had been discharged from the service in 2011 after multiple disciplinary infractions, a Navy officer said Monday.
If that was a dishonorable discharge, then he could not have bought any guns from a licensed dealer.  I see that the FBI is looking for more information about this guy.

UPDATE 2: More and more curious.  September 16, 2013 CTV News reports:
Two construction workers building a new home told police that Aaron Alexis walked out of a home next door on May 6, 2004, pulled a pistol from his waistband and fired three shots into the rear tires of their parked car.

Alexis later told police he thought the victims had "disrespected him" and "mocked him" earlier that morning after he discovered that his own vehicle had been tampered with. Alexis also told detectives he didn't remember firing his weapon until about an hour later, according to the police report.
 According to Alexis' father, he had PTSD problems related to rescue work he apparently did on 9/11.  But of course, in spite of being arrested and charged, there seems to have been no trial on these charges... which might have put his name on the "no guns" list.  Perhaps someone felt sorry for him because of the PTSD?   No, this September 16, 2013 Washington Post article indicates the charging paperwork was lost.

The September 16, 2016 Boston Herald gives more details on the 2010 Texas negligent discharge of a firearm charge, but this at least gives a plausible reason why he was not charged.

UPDATE 3: I suspect an epic fail for the gun control crowd is about to happen. September 16, 2013 NBC Washington is reporting:
When it was over, the suspected gunman lay dead amid an armload of weapons. Sources told News4 that surveillance footage showed that he began his attack with a shotgun, but was found with a 9mm pistol and an AR-15 assault rifle.

NBC News correspondent Pete Williams is reporting Alexis purchased a shotgun in Lorton, Va. during the past week or so.
 The suspected gunman appeared to have seized firearms from two of his victims as he moved through the building along the Anacostia River in southeast Washington, where 3,000 Navy employees go to work each day, many of them carrying authorized firearms.
So unless we ban gun control law would have mattered here. Disarm the Navy?

Very Useful Tool On Mass Murder Data

USA Today has a list of all mass murders since 2006, and it is sortable by category (yes, there mass murders with weapons other than guns), and by category: domestic violence; public; etc.  The family killings (111 incidents) far outnumber the public mass murders (36 incidents), and of course generally receive little attention.

Interesting Article About Aerobic Interval Training For Heart Failure Patients

Background— Exercise training reduces the symptoms of chronic heart failure. Which exercise intensity yields maximal beneficial adaptations is controversial. Furthermore, the incidence of chronic heart failure increases with advanced age; it has been reported that 88% and 49% of patients with a first diagnosis of chronic heart failure are >65 and >80 years old, respectively. Despite this, most previous studies have excluded patients with an age >70 years. Our objective was to compare training programs with moderate versus high exercise intensity with regard to variables associated with cardiovascular function and prognosis in patients with postinfarction heart failure.
Methods and Results— Twenty-seven patients with stable postinfarction heart failure who were undergoing optimal medical treatment, including β-blockers and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (aged 75.5±11.1 years; left ventricular [LV] ejection fraction 29%; V̇O2peak 13 mL · kg−1 · min−1) were randomized to either moderate continuous training (70% of highest measured heart rate, ie, peak heart rate) or aerobic interval training (95% of peak heart rate) 3 times per week for 12 weeks or to a control group that received standard advice regarding physical activity. V̇O2peak increased more with aerobic interval training than moderate continuous training (46% versus 14%, ...
Conclusions— Exercise intensity was an important factor for reversing LV remodeling and improving aerobic capacity, endothelial function, and quality of life in patients with postinfarction heart failure. These findings may have important implications for exercise training in rehabilitation programs and future studies.
You can read the PDF of the whole article here.  I will be discussing this with my cardiologist today at 11:00 AM.


Regular exercise training is recognized as a powerful tool to improve work capacity, endothelial function and the cardiovascular risk profile in obesity, but it is unknown which of high-intensity aerobic exercise, moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or strength training is the optimal mode of exercise. In the present study, a total of 40 subjects were randomized to high-intensity interval aerobic training, continuous moderate-intensity aerobic training or maximal strength training programmes for 12 weeks, three times/week. The high-intensity group performed aerobic interval walking/running at 85-95% of maximal heart rate, whereas the moderate-intensity group exercised continuously at 60-70% of maximal heart rate; protocols were isocaloric. The strength training group performed 'high-intensity' leg press, abdominal and back strength training. Maximal oxygen uptake and endothelial function improved in all groups; the greatest improvement was observed after high-intensity training, and an equal improvement was observed after moderate-intensity aerobic training and strength training. High-intensity aerobic training and strength training were associated with increased PGC-1alpha (peroxisome-proliferator-activated receptor gamma co-activator 1alpha) levels and improved Ca(2+) transport in the skeletal muscle, whereas only strength training improved antioxidant status. Both strength training and moderate-intensity aerobic training decreased oxidized LDL (low-density lipoprotein) levels. Only aerobic training decreased body weight and diastolic blood pressure. In conclusion, high-intensity aerobic interval training was better than moderate-intensity aerobic training in improving aerobic work capacity and endothelial function. An important contribution towards improved aerobic work capacity, endothelial function and cardiovascular health originates from strength training, which may serve as a substitute when whole-body aerobic exercise is contra-indicated or difficult to perform.
The full article is here. It appears that weight training is not the most effective strategy, but that both high-intensity and moderate-intensity aerobic training do a lot of good.  (All of them do some good.)

In case you don't know what "endothelial function" is (neither did I): it is a measure of how well the blood vessels handle the vasodilation and vasocontraction conflicts.  The better this works, the less likely you are to develop various problems:
Endothelial dysfunction is thought to be a key event in the development of atherosclerosis and has been reported to predate clinically obvious vascular pathology by many years[2]. However, the problem with this assertion in terms of the flow-mediated response indicator of endothelial dysfunction is that a morphological characteristic of atherosclerosis (baseline artery size) is inherent in the calculation of percentage flow-mediated dilation. Endothelial dysfunction is associated with reduced anticoagulant properties as well as increased adhesion molecule expression, chemokine and other cytokine release, as well as reactive oxygen species production from the endothelium. This leads to inflammation and myofibroblast migration and proliferation inside the vessel all of which play important roles in the development of atherosclerosis.
The introduction to Endothelial Dysfunction and Inflammation (2010) provides a bit more information on this.

UPDATE: My cardiologist agreed that the cardiac rehab program wasn't necessary with the level of exercise that I am getting, and with the health of my heart.  "Most of our patients we have trouble getting to walk to the corner and back."

Sunday, September 15, 2013

New Book About Matthew Shepard Murder reviews a new book by a gay journalist -- and considering that ABC 20/20 told parts of this story years ago, much of it isn't news -- but it is still pretty astonishing, and pretty well blows out the idea of St. Matthew:
Almost immediately Shepard became a secular saint, and his killing became a kind of gay Passion Play where he suffered and died for the cause of homosexuality against the growing homophobia and hatred of gay America....

But what really happened to Matthew Shepard?

He was beaten, tortured, and killed by one or both of the men now serving life sentences. But it turns out, according to Jiminez, that Shepard was a meth dealer himself and he was friends and sex partners with the man who led in his killing. Indeed, his killer may have killed him because Shepard allegedly came into possession of a large amount of methamphetamine and refused to give it up.

The book also shows that Shepard’s killer was on a five-day meth binge at the time of the killing.
 This really is not surprising.  Meth use among gay men was very common at the time, leading to the really weird combination of meth and Viagra.  Meth, while it gives enormous energy, so you can party all night long (sometimes night after night), also leads to impotence -- hence coupling it with Viagra.*  ()  Disproportionate substance abuse problems in the gay community have been known about and studied for decades -- and the claim that it is because of homophobia is getting pretty stale, now that a whole generation has grown up in a culture that considers "homophobia" a far greater embarrassment than homosexuality.

Not surprisingly, the Matthew Shepard Project is not admitting that there is a problem with the falsehoods that underlie what they do.

*By the way: if you are taking pseudoephedrine (from which meth is often made) for allergies or sinus congestion and are beginning to wonder if it is time for Viagra: Coricidin HBP.  It won't raise your blood pressure and lower other parts as a result.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Just Finished Grading The First Papers of the Semester

As a diagnostic, I have my students write a one to two page paper about why they are taking college classes, and what they expect to get out of it.  My goal is to find out which students cannot write at college level yet, and what areas they need to improve upon to write the two research papers they will do later in the semester.

Some were very good, a couple were tragedies.  In general, my impression is that the average quality of these first papers was better than than the last two semesters.  What is astonishing is how some of the students coming from the most horrible family backgrounds manage to write really quite well.  Nietzsche's famous, "That which does not kill me makes me stronger" often seems to apply.

Boise Residents: If You Are In This Guy's District, Consider This an Anti-Endorsement

From Daily Kos:

Re-elect TJ Thomson to Boise City Council
 I first met TJ Thomson at an AFL-CIO labor day picnic in Boise a few years ago. I had felt disillusioned with the hostility and narrow-mindedness of many elected officials in Idaho's majority party.

So meeting this poised, balanced progressive was a silver lining in Idaho's cloudy sea of bad leadership.


Friday, September 13, 2013

Something That I Worked On Is Now Interstellar

September 12, 2013 The Atlantic reports on Voyager 1 reaching interstellar space.  I wrote software for a very small part of this project -- but it is still one of the more long-term activities of my life.

UPDATE: A commenter asked for some detail on my involvement with this project.  It is one of the weird little parts of my life.  During my first year of college at USC, I was frantically looking for a part-time job so that I could stay in school.  Tuition was not a problem: the combination of the California State Scholarship and financial assistance from USC covered the entire $2910 annual bill.  (Yes, and pterodactyls still roamed the skies.)  Books were not too bad -- typically about $300 a year.

The problem was that I needed enough money to cover my rent, groceries, utilities, and gasoline to drive my heap of a 1964 Chevrolet Malibu station wagon back and forth to USC.  I received a modest $200 or so a month check from Social Security as a college student dependent on a disabled parent.  That was not quite enough to cover the bills.  It was close.

But unskilled jobs were in short supply.  It was 1975, and the economy was in some respects as bad as it is today.  I could not get a job flipping burgers, or any other unskilled job.  Nothing was available in the Santa Monica/West Los Angeles area where I lived.

Suddenly, a full-time job opened up with the school district.  They needed a computer geek, and I thought: Hey, the first semester was really easy: easy A in English, freshman chemistry, Introduction to Film, and a B in first semester calculus.  (This was the hard calculus sequence for physical science majors.)  So I took the full-time job...and attended school full-time second semester.  And this was not easy.  In fact, after two months of doing this, I concluded that it was not practical to define database requirements eight hours a day (and partly at night) and take classes mostly in the daytime at USC.  So I quit the day job.

And I forgot that the Social Security check would be cut off as soon as they saw that I was earning a decent wage.  But by the time that happened, it was June, and it was impossible to get it turned back on, now that I no longer had that full-time job, so the need to find some sort of job was that much more severe.  And all summer long: Jack-in-the-Box?  McDonald's?  I even applied for a job as a projectionist at an adult movie theater.  (No, I had not been in audio-visual club in high school, so I had no idea how to run a projector, but I was sure that I could learn.)

Time was getting short, but it turned out that while I lacked the skills and capabilities to flip burgers, there was one job that I could get at 18: Jet Propulsion Labs.  On Monday, I saw a newspaper ad by Telos Computing, one of the companies with a contract to supply software engineers to JPL.  I sent my resume.  Wednesday they had me come into the office in Santa Monica.   That afternoon, I drove out to JPL in my incredibly 1970s powder blue leisure suit, and Friday, they called me, and told me to start work at JPL on Monday.  I was paid $1200 a month, mostly because that is what I asked for, and I was even then a pretty articulate if nerdy and introverted sort.

I wrote software for the near-real-time telemetry processing system for what was then called the Mariner Jupiter-Saturn project (MJS), but was later renamed to Voyager.  It was a really cool experience.  When they hired me, I do not think I was qualified to do the job; by the time they fired me, almost a year later, I actually was qualified to do the job -- and it certainly opened many doors for me in later years.

It Is All Bush's Fault!

A very sad story about a 19-year old airman who committed suicide on Guam in 2011 using her service revolver.  The parents are claiming the Air Force failed to do what they should have done.  I have no opinion on Air Force responsiblity, just sorrow that it happened.  But one of the comments captures progressive irrationality so well:
Not to denigrate Ms. Anderson, but the U.S. military has lots of screwed up members thanks to the Bush-era policy to recruit anyone who walked through the door, including junkies, drunks, dropouts, mentally ill, criminals, etc. They even filled out the recruitment papers for them, and lowered the training standards!
Yeah, a 19-year old who entered the Air Force at least two years into Obama's time in office, and it is Bush's fault!

Read more here:

Elk Gets The Final Revenge

VERNAL, Utah (AP) -- An elk slain in Utah had its last revenge when its antler punctured the neck of the hunter who'd brought him down.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports the 51-year-old hunter snagged the elk Saturday east of Vernal.
Uintah County Undersheriff John Laursen says the man was trying to roll the 600- to 700-pound animal over when the antler stabbed him behind his jaw.
The hunter survived, but somewhere, the spirit of the elk is laughing.

Not A Positive Sign For The Health of State and Local Governments

Traditionally, municipal bonds have had lower yields than corporate bonds because many (although not all) munis are exempt from both federal income tax, and state income tax for the state in which the political entity exists.  (Certain categories of munis that are "private activity bonds" are not tax-exempt, and to add to the confusion, I understand that Puerto Rico munis are exempt from not only federal income tax, but state income tax in every state -- probably because of the weird legal status of Puerto Rico.)

Why lower yield?  Because you are not going to pay federal income tax on the dividends, and if you are a resident of the state from which the bond comes, no state income tax.  A 5% yield on a tax-exempt muni is better than a 5.5% yield on a corporate bond for most taxpayers.

But I see that this is not the case now.  There are a lot of A-rated munis with higher yields than A-rated corporate bonds.  I think some of this is an expression of perceived risk from the munis, especially the high yielding munis from California, Illinois, and New York.

If you have not looked at bonds in a year or two:


Yes, a 5.062% yield on a federal government agency bond.

It might still make sense (when the yields improve a bit more) to start buying.  Yes, there is substantial inflation risk, especially if the economy recovers.  But I think there is also substantial possibility that the economy will continue limping along, barely recovering, if at all.

UPDATE: Here is an Idaho bond, not spectacularly rated:

ActionStateRatingsDescriptionCouponMaturityQtyPriceMinMaxYTMYTW 2TaxableCallableAccrued
Total Cost
03/01/2022 @ 100.00000Continuously-Callable

But note the yield to maturity is 5.242%, and it is exempt from both federal and Idaho income taxes.  It is continuously callable, meaning that the issuer could at any time after 3/1/22 withdraw them, but only by paying off the face value of the bond.