Tuesday, January 29, 2013

This is Progress?

Congressman Alan West has joined Pajamas Media with a show called "Next Generation". He posted this score card for reference.

All I can do is shake my head in wonder.......wonder that we re-elected Obama.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Hornets Morphing into Pelicans

The new name for the basketball team formally known as the New Orleans Hornets has been announced. They will become the Pelicans. This was done to give the team a name more indicative of the region, to honor an old baseball team of the same name and because the brown pelican is the state bird.

But somehow, I can't visualize a pelican as embodying the grace, speed and accuracy that the game of basketball represents. And it reminds of an old poem that used to hang in the family cottage by the lake when I was a child:

A strange old bird is the pelican.
Its bill can hold more than its belly can.
It can hold in its beak,
Enough food for a week.
Although I don't know how the hell he can!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Root Cause Analysis

When engineers do a failure investigation one of the tools we us is called Root Cause Analysis. The idea is to get to the ultimate reason for the failure. One of the techniques used is called "The 5 Whys." You keep asking "why" until you cannot go any further. Usually about 5 times will do it. Here's an example of the 5 whys in practice.

In the mid-70's I was living in Japan as one of the owners representatives for new construction in a Japanese shipyard. I worked with an older Japanese gentleman who we shall call Ishimoto. Ishimoto was a pilot during the war and had a bad back. One day I asked, "Ishimoto-san, how did you hurt your back?"
"Plane crash" was the answer.
"Why did your plane crash?" I asked.
"Run out of gas." he replied.
"Why did you run out of gas?"
"American shoot holes in gas tank!"

And so we come to the root cause of Ishimoto's bad back.

Chicago of the South

There were five people shot shortly after the MLK parade yesterday. One of them is now dead. It's ironic because Louisiana law makes it illegal to carry a firearm (even if you have a concealed carry permit) on the route of a parade permitted by the city. Of course, that little legal item doesn't deter the criminally minded from doing just that. Parades, after all, are where you can find your rivasl and gun them down. These guys were planning to murder someone, do you think violating a state gun law will make them think twice?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Kabuki Theater

If you look at almost any news agency - right, left, or Martian - they all have headlines about Obama's "Executive Orders" on gun control. The interesting thing is that none of them, zero, are Executive Orders.

An Executive Order is numbered and published in the Federal Register. You can look them up. What Obama did was issue three (3) "Executive Memorandums" and a bunch of other non binding "notes". The Executive Memorandums are considered to have the same weight as an Executive Order but they are not published in the Federal Register. That probably makes it more difficult to find in the public record and therefore not easy to find and track progress. For example, you can't reference it when making regulations like you can an Executive Order. ("pursuant to Executive Order xxxxx......") Those other things were basically a Presidential "to do" list and have no legal standing.

If you read carefully, you will see that they always talked about Obama taking "executive action". Everyone just jumped to the conclusion that he intended to issue "Executive Orders". He didn't.

Don't get me wrong, I still believe that he wants to ban guns, but this last bit of theater was strictly Kabuki and didn't come close to overturning the Constitution. I think he was sending a recon party out on gun control. He wanted to test public (and party) reaction without putting himself at risk of being overturned by the Supremes.

In short, he was bluffing. Why didn't he get called on it?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Korean Food

The oldest grandson had been expressing an interest in trying Korean food. NOLa only has one Korean restaurant and, since he was the only on in his family interested, we had to find a time when we could cull him from the herd without his brothers feeling left out. The stars aligned on Saturday so we headed out to Korea House.

We started with steamed dumplings and a hot kim chee and tofu appetizer. My wife and grandson had bulgogi while I opted for dak bulgogi, which is the chicken version. Of course, we had a selection of different kim chee to sample. Cooked it all at the table on a charcoal grill.

Since I had spent several months in Seoul and Ulsan, I knew what to expect but the neophytes proclaimed that they enoyed it as well. We'll be back.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Book Review - The Panther

The latest release by Nelson DeMille. I really like DeMille. My favorite book is "The Charm School" about a training facility in Russia where US servicemen captured in Vietnam are held prisoner and used to train Russian agents to be more "American" and blend in as deep cover agents. My other favorites are "Plum Island" and "Up Country".This last book joins that group.

This is a continuation of the character John Corey, the NYPD detective that is seconded to the FBI anti-terrorist squad. They are looking for a homegrown terrorist that is operating out of Yemen. Corey has been there before to investigate the USS Cole bombing. He had also killed another terrorist known as The Lion (another book worth reading) and was therefore known to Al Qaeda. He is sent to Yemen to track down and kill The Panther. He is not only the hunter, but he is the bait as well. But wait, the CIA is involved and nothing is as it seems.

It is an excellent read and difficult to put down at the end. DeMille also brings back Paul Brenner (from The General's Daughter) in this book. I suspect we will see more of the Corey-Brenner combination.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

More New Hampshire

In an earlier post, I told about a state representative who wanted to change the state laws so it became less attractive for people to move to NH for personal freedom. Now another representative wants to change the rules for use of deadly force.

NH House Bill 135 will "Eliminate the provision allowing a person to use deadly force anywhere he or she has a right to be." In other words, it requires you to retreat unless you are in your own home. The perpetrator of this is Stephen Shurtleff from the Merrimac 10th District.

If this keeps up, I'll have to renounce the state of my birth.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


I've been in Houston leading a HAZOP. Those of you in the engineering or construction fields will be familiar with them, but sometimes I think it stands for Herding  Asleep, Zombified, and Oblivious People. This group, however, was an exception to the rule. The team was small and they were driven to finish the exercise instead of second guessing and attempting to re-design the facility. The facility in question was a natural gas storage facility. Excess natural gas (you know, the stuff produced from that evil fracking) is stored in an underground reservoir until it's needed by the Yankees during winter. Then the gas is withdrawn and sent north in pipelines. There are lots of these types of projects going on, both here and in Europe. Passing gas is where it's at these days.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Is Confiscation Even Possible?

Some of our politicos are talking about the outright confiscation of guns. Ignoring the legal issues for the moment, is that even remotely feasible?

There are some 300 million guns in the United States. What would be required to confiscate them? Well, lets assume that each gun owning household has, on the average, 10 guns. That means that authorities would have to physically go to 30 million houses to collect their guns. Lets assume you send 2 guys (because the confiscating officer will need a backup) to each house and that it takes about 1 hour to collect the guns. That is a 60 million man-hour task - or about 30,000 man-years. If you are going to be effective, the confiscation has to be done quickly. So lets further assume that those 30,000 man-years must be expended in 1 month! That means you have to recruit an army of 360,000 officers to confiscate guns. Somehow, given the competency of our government, I can't see this happening.

And then there is civil disobedience. Once people see confiscation taking place, they will hide their guns. Only a very few will voluntarily turn in their guns. Remember the lessons of Nazi Germany. When Jewish citizens turned in their private guns, they were typically arrested and sent to a concentration camp.

Guns are private property and the government cannot take private property from you unless you are compensated. Sure, the government can afford it, but think of the organization they would have to build to process the payments. Their track record in Katrina, Rita and Sandy demonstrate what a poor job they do in handing out emergency money. Why would gun compensation be any different?

Finally, go back and read the law suits stemming from gun confiscation during Katrina. I'm not a lawyer, but it seems to me that this is clear case law that the politicians should study before they start talking about confiscation. It was tried and the courts slammed them hard.

Friday, January 4, 2013

A Resolution

One of my resolutions is to acquire an M1 Garand via the Civilian Marksmanship Program. I'm not interested in a collector grade model and don't really care if it has been repaired as long as it is serviceable and can shoot straight. I'd appreciate any comments from folks who have had experience purchasing an M1 through the CMP. For example, what grade rifle would you suggest if all I want is to take it to the range a few times a year?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Head Count

Saudi Arabia finished of the final month of the year with only 4 beheadings - all murderers. This brings their total number of executions for 2012 to an even 70.