Archive for December, 2006

A Curmudgeon Blog

December 31, 2006

Some quotes a friend of mine might like:

Barnum: “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

Menken: “No one ever went broke UNDERestimating the intelligence of the American people.”

Source:
The Chronic Curmudgeon

Bush “lied” about WMD’s in Iraq

December 31, 2006

During the 2004 election campaign all I could hear was how bush lied about WMD’s. Well if bush lied, then did Kerry lie too?

Does that mean Madeleine Albright, Bill Clinton, William Cohen, Al Gore, and National Security Advisor Sandy Berger lied when they literally campaigned for war?

Did France’s President Jacques Chirac lie when he commented about Iraq: “Are there other weapons of mass destruction? That’s probable. We have to find and destroy them.”?

Did Saddam’s own Generals lie *after the war* when they said they thought Saddam had WMD’s?

After the war I read on the Moscow Times, among a few other mainstream news outlets, that Putin himself said that Saddam had tried to acquire nuclear bomb making materials from Russia. Unfortunately I do not have a link but if somebody knows the location of a relevant article please post.

A case can be made that the administration was not worried about WMD’s. According to COBRA II they simply didn’t send enough troops in to secure the power stations let alone the 900+ WMD sites flagged by the CIA. A case can be made that Iraq was not a serious threat to the US. A case can be made that we are all just a bunch of vibrating membranes in an eleven dimension universe which is only one of many universes on an astral plane. (For some added fun try saying that at your local loony bin :-D) And you can even argue that Bush ignored uncertainties in the intelligence reports. But I don’t see how it’s possible to claim Bush lied about WMD’s without calling just about every other leader on the planet a liar as well. He may have exaggerated the confidence in the intel reports. You can say that both Bush & Congress wrongfully minimized uncertainties in the reports. But does that warrant singling out Bush as a liar? (this topic only please….) And did those uncertainties warrant many of the criticism of the ousting of Saddam? If we adopt a policy of not acting until we are 100% sure then we might as well sit on our hands in the fight to stop global warming.

Source:
Project for The New American Century, The Clinton Administration’s Public Case Against Saddam Hussein
Time, “France Is Not a Pacifist Country” The target of U.S. scorn, France’s Jacques Chirac tells TIME’s James Graff and Bruce Crumley of his objection to war and his love of American junk food, JAMES GRAFF AND BRUCE CRUMLEY, Sunday, Feb. 16, 2003
Related:
THE WASHINGTON TIMES, French connection armed Saddam Bill Gertz, September 8, 2004
CNN: Powell on WMD existence: ‘This game is still unfolding’

Craigslist says yes to illegal activities, no to legal gun sales

December 29, 2006

I just got an add pulled for trying to sell my Lee Enfield rifle. They’ll allow hookers to advertise, but oh dear lord we can’t have guns being sold. That’d be wrong.

What the fudge…

Thank god for EE…

source

The man forgot to mention the drugs sold on craigs list as well. I couldn’t find the stories about the crack and cocaine so marijuana will have to do.

Source:
Seattle Times, Craigslist becomes a place for pot peddlers, Thursday, August 3, 2006 , Nathan Hurst

The War on Drugs is Going to Get a Little Tougher

December 24, 2006

One of Texas’s top drug officers has just started selling DVD’s to educate people how not to get busted in the drug war. Watch the MSNBC video, he talks about eroding 4th amendment rights. His story about prohibition not working for Adam and Eve was a bit amusing. As a libertarian I have to support this measure. And as a scientist I fully support the legalization of marijuana as it’s far less toxic than your average collegiate vino session. Too bad I never developed a taste for the stuff.

Sources:
MSNBC:Ex-cop plans ‘Never Get Busted Again’ video
Former Texas agent teaches how to hide, stash, and fool drug officers
7:26 p.m. ET Dec 22, 2006
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
Never Get Busted Again

Knives take lives

December 20, 2006

knives take lives

From the BBC:

A&E doctors are calling for a ban on long pointed kitchen knives to reduce deaths from stabbing.

A team from West Middlesex University Hospital said violent crime is on the increase – and kitchen knives are used in as many as half of all stabbings.

And from the British Home Office:

“The Home Office is looking for ways to reduce knife crime.

“We suggest that banning the sale of long pointed knives is a sensible and practical measure that would have this effect.”

Ironically these are the same people that say guns are the best way to defend yourself from crime. See this PDF.

Source:
BBC, Doctors’ kitchen knives ban call, Thursday, 26 May, 2005, 23:48 GMT 00:48 UK

“Boots More Harmful Than Weapons In Street Violence, Study Shows”: Time to ban boots?

December 20, 2006

Boots More Harmful Than Weapons In Street Violence, Study Shows

Main Category: Public Health News
Article Date: 17 Dec 2006 – 23:00 PST

The prevention of attacks involving kicking or blunt objects is just as important as preventing knife violence, new research from Cardiff University shows.

A team from the University’s Violence Research Group found that injuries inflicted with feet were more likely to result in severe injury than any other method of assault.

The team reviewed instances of violence resulting in treatment at the Emergency Department, University Hospital Wales, Cardiff between 1999 and 2005.

They found that while assault with a weapon was generally more likely to cause severe injuries than non-weapon assault, kicking was the single most likely method to cause severe injury. The next most likely methods were, in order, blunt objects, other body parts such as the head, and sharp objects. Fists, despite being the most common method of assault, were the least likely to cause serious injury.

The research, published in the international academic journal Injury Prevention, is the first ever to compare injuries by method of attack. Professor Jonathan Shepherd, who led the research, said the surprisingly severe injuries from kicking and blunt objects should make them just as high priorities as knives in violence reduction strategies.

Professor Shepherd said: “This might be achieved through public awareness campaigns and tackling alcohol misuse to reduce the chances of people falling over, since victims of violence are usually kicked after they have fallen.

“We also need to take action to reduce the availability of blunt objects coming to hand in licensed premises and city centre streets.”

While there was little difference between injuries inflicted by one assailant or two assailants, the severity of injury rose significantly when there were three or more attackers. Professor Shepherd said that group violence should therefore be a further priority for action.

The study found that men aged 47 were the most likely to be severely injured. Women accounted for 25% of all victims, a higher percentage than that in previous UK studies, possibly reflecting changing behaviour in recent years.
###

Notes:

Cardiff University

Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities. Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, the University today combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning.

Cardiff is a member of the Russell Group of Britain’s leading research universities.

Injury Prevention

Injury Prevention is recognised as one of the leading international journals in its field. Its scope includes all types of unintentional injuries, as well as occupational and intentional (violence-related) injuries.

The journal is published by BMJ Publishing Group Ltd.

Contact:
Professor Jonathan Shepherd
Cardiff University

Author:
Stephen Rouse

For further information please go to:
Cardiff University

Opinion of Editor of Medical News Today:

This is an interesting study, which raises a lot more questions than it answers – it will be interesting to see what proposals are made for reducing the availability of blunt objects – perhaps all chairs and tables should be fixed down, and all drinks provided in plastic containers? I feel alarmed that this might be the way the UK is heading – where will it end? Are handbags to be limited to a certain weight and should it be illegal to carry more than 6 keys on a keyring?

Safety footware is vital to so many professions – I can’t imagine how it would be possible to make Boots “just as high priorities as knives” – perhaps placing a “curfew” on shoes over a certain weight would be one solution? Introducing “Slipper only” laws for night clubs and bars would also be interesting…

It seems to me that increasing the penalties for the perpetrators of such violence would be a better solution than penalizing footwear manufacturers…

Perhaps the focus should not be on how to limit the amount of damage caused, but on stopping people from wanting to hurt others in the first place – there is a lot of pent-up aggression on the streets and this seems to be heightened by the effects of alcohol – for many years I lived just down the road from a night club – and most of the fights (a considerable number) happened in the early hours of the morning amongst drunk participants.

Editor: Jenny Hutchings

Source:
Medical News Today, Boots More Harmful Than Weapons In Street Violence, Study Shows, 17 Dec 2006 – 23:00 PST

A swimming pool is 100 times more deadly than a gun

December 17, 2006

[Editor’s note: A version of this piece was published in the Chicago Sun-Times on July 28, 2001 under the title “Pools more dangerous than guns.” ]

What’s more dangerous: a swimming pool or a gun? When it comes to children, there is no comparison: a swimming pool is 100 times more deadly.

In 1997 alone (the last year for which data are available), 742 children under the age of 10 drowned in the United States last year alone. Approximately 550 of those drownings — about 75 percent of the total — occurred in residential swimming pools. According to the most recent statistics, there are about six million residential pools, meaning that one young child drowns annually for every 11,000 pools.

About 175 children under the age of 10 died in 1998 as a result of guns. About two-thirds of those deaths were homicides. There are an estimated 200 million guns in the United States. Doing the math, there is roughly one child killed by guns for every one million guns.

Thus, on average, if you both own a gun and have a swimming pool in the backyard, the swimming pool is about 100 times more likely to kill a child than the gun is.

Don’t get me wrong. My goal is not to promote guns, but rather, to focus parents on an even greater threat to their children. People are well aware of the danger of guns and, by and large, gun owners take the appropriate steps to keep guns away from children. Public attitudes towards pools, however, are much more cavalier because people simply do not know the facts.

It takes thirty seconds for a child to drown. Infants can drown in water as shallow as a few inches. Child drownings are typically silent. As a parent, if you let your guard down for an instant, a pool (or even a bucket of water) may steal your child’s life.

The Consumer Products Safety Commission offers a publication detailing some simple steps for safeguarding pools (available on the internet at http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/pubs/359.pdf). The advice is mostly common sense. Included among the suggestions are installing fences that entirely surround the pool, putting locks on the gates, keeping house doors locked so toddlers cannot slip out of the house unmonitored, and installing power safety covers for the pool.

If every parent followed these steps, perhaps as many as 400 lives per year might be saved. This would be more lives saved than from two of the most successful safety-interventions in recent decades: the use of child car seats and the introduction of safer cribs. Potential lives saved from pool safety are far greater than from child-resistant packaging (an estimated 50 lives saved per year), keeping children away from airbags (less than 5 young children a year have been killed by air bags a year on average since their introduction), flame retardant pajamas (perhaps 10 lives saved annually), or safety drawstrings on children’s clothing (two lives saved annually). Simply stated, keeping your children safe around water is one of the single most important things a parent can do to protect a child.

As a father who has lost a son, I know first-hand the unbearable pain that comes with a child’s death. Amidst my grief, I am able to take some small solace in the fact that everything possible was done to fight the disease that took my son’s life. If my son had died in a backyard pool due to my own negligence, I would not even have that to cling to. Parents who have lost children would do anything to get their babies back. Safeguard your pool so you don’t become one of us.

Steven Levitt is a professor of Economics at the University of Chicago and a research associate of the American Bar Foundation.

Source:
Found via Tim Lambert
Chicago Sun-Times, “Pools more dangerous than guns.”, July 28, 2001

Heckler and Koch:waffenschmiede

December 17, 2006

You don’t have to understand German to be impressed with some of the tests they use on their guns.

Although it is funny to see an American made WWII classic (Colt 1911) on the desk in a German gun factory:
1911

Luby’s Massacre

December 16, 2006

Dr. Suzanna Gratia Hupp lost her family to a mad man that killed 20 people and wounded 23 in what is known as Luby’s massacre. Suzanna Hupp had a gun with her but was forced to leave it in the truck due to anti-carry laws. Because of this Suzanna Hupp has testified at Congressional hearings against gun control. The man in the video that is slouched over and staring at the desk is Charles E Schumer, a strong proponent of gun control. This is from wikipedia:

While serving in the House of Representatives, Schumer coauthored the federal semi-automatic firearms ban in 1994 with California Senator Dianne Feinstein, which expired in 2004. The National Rifle Association and other gun groups (see gun politics) have criticized him for allegedly not knowing much about guns, pointing to various errors regarding the subject.

Schumer, a leading force in the attempt to ban guns, is shown in the picture below:

Chucky Schumer

Magazine Life

December 16, 2006

Apparently magazines are a lot more reliable than I thought…. may add more to this later but here are some good sources of info.

Sources:
Magazine spring madness: ‘creep’ to your ‘elastic limit’ to un-earth the urban legend of ‘spring-set’
American Handgunner, May-June, 2003 by John S. Layman
THR, Mag Spring Life
THR, Am I wearing out my magazine spring?
THR, Mythbusters: Keeping magazines loaded long term