Monday, December 28, 2009

Mercenary Prick!

Travis Kuykendall, head of the Special High Intensity Trafficking office in El Paso, seems to be a mercenary prick.

He's also blind if he can't see the benefits of drug policy reform.

Then again, someone pointed out a long time ago that it's tough to get someone to acknowledge reality when his job depends on continued denial.

in reference to:

"Travis Kuykendall, head of the West Texas High Intensity Drug-Trafficking Area office in El Paso, Texas was quoted by Associated Press as saying, "There's no upside to it in any manner other than for those people who want to smoke pot. There's nothing for society in it, there's nothing good for the country in it, there's nothing for the good of the economy in it.""
- Washington considering legalizing marijuana | The Money Times (view on Google Sidewiki)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The problem is people

Malthus was right.

It is not necessarily a mistake to fail to foresee future developments, but it most certainly is a mistake to take them for granted.

It's not just the fossil-fuel fueled industrial revolution that created vast agricultural surpluses. Those surpluses only delayed the inevitable for a while, and would not have sustained population growth that occurred in the latter part of the 20th century. For that, the green revolution was required.

What will be the next revolution, the one that's going to sustain two-Chinas worth of people that the globe is supposed to add to today's human numbers if they increase as projected?

It is a mistake to take future developments for granted. It seems unlikely that the "two-Chinas" population projection will come to pass.

To say that "the problem is pollution not people" is to, as they say, put the cart before the horse.

in reference to:

"Indeed, the big mistake made by the original prophet of population doom, Thomas Malthus, was his failure to appreciate how fossil fuels would transform the world economy. To be fair, it would have been hard to foresee, back in 1798, how industrialisation - powered by fossil fuels - would create the vast agricultural surpluses that would sustain a huge increase in population. But his mistake points to the real culprit here: the problem is pollution not people."
- BBC - Ethical Man blog: Are our children to blame? (view on Google Sidewiki)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A key point

This is a key point about why out-and-out legalization is necessary. Decriminalization of use and possession worsens the situation next door, worsening spill-over effects as well.

By refusing to acknowledge reality we will continue to shoot ourselves in the foot, in the process shooting our neighbors in more vital areas.

Excellent article.

in reference to:

"Several U.S. states like California and Oregon have decriminalized marijuana, making possession of small quantities a misdemeanor, like a parking ticket. Decriminalization falls short of legalization because the sale and distribution remain a serious felony. One of the big reasons for the move is to reduce the problem of overcrowded and costly prisons. While this strategy may make sense domestically for the U.S., Mexican officials say it is the worst possible outcome for Mexico, because it guarantees demand for the drug by eliminating the risk that if you buy you go to jail. But it keeps the supply chain illegal, ensuring that organized crime will be the drug's supplier."
- Solutions to Mexico's Drug Crisis - (view on Google Sidewiki)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Good for Catalonia

Salvador Boix equates eating meat and torturing animals? He's not stupid, so what is he?

I suppose Boix might say of this picture (might have to click on it) that the matador cut himself while preparing the bull for slaughter.


Good for Catalonia if they manage to ban bullfighting.

in reference to:

"“This attempt to ban bullfighting shows the hypocrisy of the politicians who all enjoy eating meat but vote to end bullfighting.”"
- Catalan Parliament passes landmark vote to ban bullfighting - Times Online (view on Google Sidewiki)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Beretta Tomcat 32: Stuck Safety Lever

UPDATE2 - December 18, 2009

To hell with it!

I have no more time or patience to deal with Beretta's maze of obfuscation, which you run in to whether on the computer or on the phone.

This Tomcat I'm disgusted with will be the last Beretta product I buy. My advice to anyone happening upon these words is to look elsewhere. Beretta has always been a good brand in my eyes, but no more.


UPDATE - December 18, 2009:

I took this little Beretta Tomcat shooting this morning, after having thought the problem of the stuck safety was fixed, but no.

After shooting just 40 rounds, the safety is stuck again. It is possible to free it from the OFF (down) position by the use of a small glasses screwdriver as shown in the last picture below, but I did not disassemble the pistol this time and the safety gets stuck in the OFF (down) position every time.

I will post Beretta's response. [See above. There's nothing to post.]


This little story gets around to the trouble I had with the safety on a Beretta Tomcat 3032 pistol. It started when my son and I purchased one of these little guns for my wife a couple of years ago. It was my fault that we purchased the Beretta over my son's preferred Kel Tek P32. I was swayed by my lack of familiarity with Kel Tek, my favorable impression of Beretta, the tip-up barrel and the heavier frame (which I thought would help with recoil).

I should have listened to my son, who has known far more than me about guns ever since he was ten years old. My bad. Sorry Eddie.

It turned out that the Beretta was not to my wife's liking because it was just too hard for her to operate. Racking the slide, closing the tip-up barrel, operating the safety and even opening the tip-up barrel all required too much force for her to enjoy shooting this little pistol, so my son and I reclaimed it and got something else for my wife.

All in all, the Beretta Tomcat 3032 that we bought has been a disappointment, largely because of the problems I had with the safety mechanism, which seems to reflect a design or materials flaw of some sort.

Shortly after we bought the little pistol for my wife, the safety lever got stuck in the OFF position. Nothing we tried would free the lever, so we took it to a local gun shop where there is a gunsmith we like and trust. The pistol never even reached our gunsmith, though, because the shop wouldn't work on it. I don't recall exactly why not, but the reason had something to do with Beretta policies. We had the gun shop mail the Tomcat to Beretta for warranty repair.

When the Tomcat came back the safety lever worked again, but in very short order the same problem occurred again. Nothing we did would free up the safety, which remained stuck in the OFF position. I cursed Beretta and put the thing away, and only took it shooting once since then.

Last night I came across the pistol as we were getting ready to go shooting today, and I decided to try to deal with the stuck safety one last time.

Here's a picture of the pistol. You can make out the safety lever in the upper right, shown in the OFF positon because the lever was stuck.

The following picture shows the safety lever in more detail, and you can see the red "safety off" indicator.

Following is an extract from the owner's manual showing three of the four parts involved in the mis-operation of the safety lever.

It's a little hard to visualize how part number 25, the safety lever, relates to the pictures I'm posting of the pistol, but consider that the schematic drawing is rotated 180 degrees about its up/down axis relative to the position of the pistol in the pictures I'm posting. In the schematic, the images are on the far side of the pistol, which would be pointed to the right. The long, downward-pointing shaft on part 25, the safety lever, traverses the frame of the pistol. Spring 27 fits into a small hole in the main body of the safety lever 25, and safety plunger 26 fits into the spring, which pushes the plunger up against a Safety Plunger Contact Pin shown in the picture below.

Sorry, it looks like you might have to click on the pictures to show them in a bigger size in order to be able to read the red text that attempts to explain what is shown.

In the picture above, the safety is OFF (rotated down).

In the picture below, the safety is ON (rotated up). Note in the picture below that the tip of the Safety Plunger (part 26) is visible, whereas it is not seen in the picture above because it is rotated to a position underneath the Safety Plunger Contact Pin. In the picture below, you can see the tip of the Safety Plunger because the safety is in the ON position (rotated up), and the Safety Plunger has rotated to a position above the Safety Plunger Contact Pin.

So, you can see how, when you rotate the safety back and forth between the OFF (down) position and the ON (up) position, the Safety Plunger (part 26) has to slide past the Safety Plunger Contact Pin, in the process compressing the Safety Plunger Spring (part 27), which releases after rotation is complete in order to secure the safety lever in its new position.

Here's another picture that might further clarify things, in which the safety lever has again been placed in the OFF (down) position, and the Safety Plunger is no longer visible, having been rotated back underneath the Safety Plunger Contact Pin:

As I was Googling this problem I came across forum posts in which people said they had lost the Safety Plunger while trying to deal with their pistol's issues, so I was aware the thing might take off. I was very careful about that when I removed the grip to try to get at whatever ailed the safety. Sure enough, the damned Safety Plunger came out anyway, but at least it landed right on the table where I could see it.

Fortunately, now that I think I know what the problem is, it should not be necessary to disassemble the thing to this extent to get the safety lever to work if it is stuck.

If the safety lever is stuck in the OFF position, it should be possible to free it by pushing on it with a small instrument of some sort as illustrated in the picture below.

You can't see the tip of the Safety Plunger when the safety is OFF (lever down), but by carefully feeling around for the Safety Plunger as shown above, applying a little pressure to push down the Saftey Plunger, and simultaneously applying reasonable upward force on the safety lever, you should be able to free the safety lever.

I think what's happened is that either the Safety Plunger tip, or the Safety Plunger Contact Pin, or both, are insufficiently polished and/or insufficiently hardened, and until they are polished enough by repeated rotation of the safety lever there is too much friction, which effectively locks the safety lever in the OFF position because one is reluctant to apply more force to the lever for fear of breaking something. As it was, I don't think I could have exerted much more force on the safety lever without a pair of pliers (which would probably have been a stupid thing to try).

I suppose the problem could be something else entirely, but clearly, there is an issue for Beretta to deal with. Maybe it's a manufacturing defect in my particular gun, where the Safety Plunger hole is drilled at the wrong angle. Maybe the Safety Plunger wasn't machined correctly, but then why didn't they catch that when they worked on this gun? Maybe the Safety Plunger Contact Pin is not positioned correctly in the frame due to some manufacturing issue. Maybe the Safety Plunger Spring is too strong. Whatever.

I don't know, but it seems that the safety lever on this particular Beretta Tomcat is now working correctly as a function of repeated rotations having polished the contact points of the Safety Plunger and the Safety Plunger Contact Pin, thereby reducing friction between them to an acceptable level.

I hope this was a unique circumstance with this one pistol, but that seems unlikely at the moment. I know I could have benefited from a post like this as I searched the Internet, so here it is in case anybody else has this problem.

Beretta, you owe me.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Just minarets?

I wasn't able to find, in the short time it was worth, the wording of the Swiss proposal to ban the minaret, but I gather it specified minarets and not steeples or other intrusive religious power structures.

To the extent the measure was specific to the islamic symbol, I would not have supported it because of the discriminatory nature of the ban.

Want to ban minarets? I'd be all in favor, but only if you ban steeples, too.

in reference to: Swiss voters 'back ban on building of minarets' - Times Online (view on Google Sidewiki)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

"The American people," Senator McConnell?

> "The American people are asking us to stop
> this bill and we're going to do anything and
> everything we can to prevent this measure from
> becoming law," [Senator McConnell] said.

No, Senator McConnell, "the American people" are most certainly NOT asking any such thing of you.

What's being asked of you, and not by "the American people," is to preserve present arrangements. The ones asking it of you are 1) special interests making big money from the status quo and 2) ideologues, along with followers manipulated into believing in death panels.

"The American people." Whenever I hear or read that phrase it sets off my bullshit alarm.

in reference to:

""The American people are asking us to stop this bill and we're going to do anything and everything we can to prevent this measure from becoming law," he said."
- BBC News - US healthcare bill passes first Senate hurdle in vote (view on Google Sidewiki)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


The topic of human overpopulation being taboo, this article in incomplete. If prominent projections come true, the world will add two Chinas worth of people in the next few decades. All the while, people everywhere wish to raise their standards of living. In the meantime, we've already depleted vast ocean areas of important species of fish, created vast ocean dead zones, raised the temperature and acidity of the oceans, melted the snows of Kilimanjaro and freshwater glaciers the world over. And so on and on and on...

Articles like this one report selected facts but don't really educate or inform.

in reference to: Earth needs users' guide to protect it from people | Green Business | Reuters (view on Google Sidewiki)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Loose Lips in High Places...

What happened, Senator Feinstein? Was it a simple mistake? How about an explanation?

The attack followed the statement in Congress on Friday by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California and the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, that the pilotless aircraft take off from a base inside Pakistan.

“As I understand, these are flown out of a Pakistani base,” Ms. Feinstein said during a hearing attended by the director of U.S. national intelligence, Admiral Dennis C. Blair. In his testimony, Admiral Blair said that the drone attacks had achieved their goal. “Al Qaeda today is less capable and effective than it was a year ago,” he said.

The drone attacks, especially in the last six months, have increased anti-American sentiment in Pakistan to very high levels. Ms. Feinstein’s acknowledgment that the flights have the tacit support of the Pakistani government is likely to further inflame the protests over the flights. Her statement was prominently covered the Pakistani press Saturday morning.


Sunday, February 08, 2009

Fat Fucking Chance!

NATO commander: Afghanistan drug raids imminent - Yahoo! News:
'Activities and actions will occur soon that will be helpful,' Craddock told reporters.
Fat fucking chance, unless you are candid about to whom the actions will be helpful.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Freedom of Information Act

Freedom of Information Act:

SUBJECT: Freedom of Information Act

"In the face of doubt, openness prevails."

Sounds good to me.

Saturday, January 24, 2009 Criminal Justice

End Federal Raids on Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Dear President Obama,

I am writing to you, via the facilities of, in support of the notion you espoused during the campaign, of ending federal raids on medical marijuana facilities. Please see to it that these raids end.

These raids are part of a federal program that does not work, and I will hold you, too, to your pledge to end programs that do not work. The program I refer to is the so-called War on Drugs, which is better described as a War on Some Drugs.

I am continually amazed at the stupidity represented by our national drugs policy. Our policies do not serve national interests - they serve special interests. Our drug policies are anti-democratic, authoritarian and wasteful. Our drug policies create scofflaws. Our drug policies create and exacerbate problems in and for other countries.

National drugs policy is just about the stupidest goddamned thing I've ever seen. Please stop the waste and the intrusions into people's lives. Please end medical marijuana raids.


Steve Sturgill in Phoenix

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Nice Pictures

My best wishes and congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Obama. I hope that those who say Mr. Obama has the makings of a great president are right, and I think they might well be.

I have a feeling that Mrs. Obama will make a fine First Lady.

Nice pictures.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

LEAP - Press Releases › Congress Threatens El Paso Over Drug Legalization Debate

LEAP - Press Releases › Congress Threatens El Paso Over Drug Legalization Debate

An El Paso City Council resolution was amended to include the words, "supporting an honest, open, national debate on ending the prohibition on narcotics."

The resolution was vetoed by the Mayor, whose excuse was concern over the loss of Federal funds.

The Mayor and Council received a letter from Congressman Silvestre Reyes, and another letter from a group of Texas state representatives, as stated in the LEAP post linked above. I don't know if I would have read a threat into these letters, but in the language of the politician maybe a threat was exactly the intent.

What stands out to me is the text of the letter to the Mayor and Council of El Paso by Texas State Representatives Pickett, Quintanilla, Moody, Chavez and Marquez. Whether or not the letter conveys a threat, it certainly conveys stupidity. How in the world these Texas State Representatives got from

supporting an honest, open, national debate on ending the prohibition on narcotics

ask[ing] the federal government to legalize narcotics ... says "we give up and we don't care"
is beyond me.

Our national drug policy is the stupidest goddamn thing I've ever seen.

Clarence Page: Our Drug War Next Door

Clarence Page: Our Drug War Next Door:

When you step back and take a broad look at Mexico's growing carnage, it's easy to see why El Paso's city leaders think legalization doesn't look so bad. Mexico's drug problem is not the drugs. It is the illegality of the drugs.

Legalization is not the perfect solution. But treating currently illegal drugs in the way we treat liquor and other legal addictive substances would provide regulation, tax revenue and funds for rehabilitation programs. Most satisfying, it would wipe a lot of smiles off the current drug lords' faces.

Yes. What he said.

Our national drug policy is the stupidest goddamn thing I've ever seen.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

TinEye Reverse Image Search

TinEye Reverse Image Search

Well, I'm impressed.

Yesterday I read about TinEye on Cool Tools. This afternoon I found that my wife had forwarded to me an email she received, which contained this picture.

I thought the picture was funny, remembered the piece in Cool Tools, went back to the reader and clicked the TinEye link. After signing up for the service, I took a screen shot of the picture and uploaded it. In about a second they came back with 30 or 40 matches, which can be sorted various ways.

You can either upload an image or provide a URL to a picture already on the Internet.

They have a feature that allows you to toggle between the version of the picture you uploaded (or linked) and the versions they found on the Internet, so that you can do a flip flip comparison of picture quality. I'm not sure how valid that is given that all the images are presented in one size, whereas the pixel counts and aspect ratios vary. The result I got was that the screenshot version I uploaded was better than any of the larger-pixel-count versions they found. Maybe that's because I told SnagIt to make a high-quality jpeg file rather than standard.

If they don't make a match, the answer why is presented right there, which says that it's probably because they have only indexed 1.1 billion photos so far. Seems like a billion is such a small number nowadays...

In the privacy statement they say they don't add any pictures you upload for comparison to any index, and I guess they don't keep it. I didn't really care, but that's good. Of course, merchants are not supposed to keep your credit card's security number either.

Interesting site. I hope they succeed. I wonder what their business model will be. Photographer's copyright protection maybe?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Inaugural Invitation

It's a commemorative invitation, not an event ticket, but it's still pretty cool.

Heavy card stock, embossed emblem, but mostly it's the name Obama that makes it memorable.

I think I'll keep it.