Wednesday, March 29, 2017

How "smart" electricity meters are aiding the surveillance society


This video clip - including an actual advertisement from a data aggregator - is an excellent example of how our privacy is almost completely gone in the digital age.





My next question:  how do we reverse this situation?  Don't tell me it can't be done - it can, if we have the will as a society to do so.  The problem is, most people just don't seem to care.




Peter

"Rocky Mountain Retribution" is published!


My latest novel, "Rocky Mountain Retribution", second in my Western series, the Ames Archives, has been published in e-book format on Amazon.com.




Print and audiobook versions will follow as soon as they can be arranged.  If you prefer the ePub e-book format, it's available at the Castalia House bookstore.

The blurb reads:

In the post-Civil War West, the railroads are expanding, the big money men are moving in, and the politicians they are buying make it difficult for a man to stand alone on his own. So, Walt Ames moves his wife, his home and his business from Denver to Pueblo. The railroads are bringing new opportunities to Colorado Territory, and he's going to take full advantage of them.

Ambushed on their way south, Walt and his men uncover a web of corruption and crime to rival anything in the big city. And rough justice, Western-style, sparks a private war between Walt and some of the most dangerous killers he's ever encountered, a deadly war in which neither friends nor family are spared.

Across the mountains and valleys of the southern Rocky Mountains, Walt and his men hunt for the ruthless man at the center of the web. Retribution won't be long delayed... and it cannot be denied.

I think this may be my best book yet, in any genre.  I had a lot of fun writing it, and had to put in a great deal of research to get it right (including field trips in previous years, to figure out the terrain, distances, etc.).  Early reviews have been very good.

Thanks in advance for your support;  and if you have a social media account or three (blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, whatever), I'll be very grateful if you please spread the word of the new book's existence.

Also, please leave a review on Amazon.com once you've read it.  Reviews are the life blood of any independent author - they help other potential readers to decide whether or not to risk their money on a new book or writer they may not have tried before.

Thanks!

Peter

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Doofus Of The Day #952


Today's award goes to an inept burglar in Tucson, Arizona.

According to a report, a locksmith was working at the school when he spotted a man trying to get into different rooms on the campus.

The locksmith spooked him, causing the alleged burglar to flee.

This is where the spiked fence comes in. He did not make the jump over the fence, and was caught hanging upside, underwear exposed and all.



Passersby Jesse Sensibar and Kristin Woodall took a quick photo and posted the story to Facebook.

Sensibar explained he was thinking about going back and helping, but Tucson PD beat him to it.

There's more at the link.

And I'm sure the police had some pointed remarks for him, too . . .




Peter

A rather good epic Bollywood fight scene


I know we've made fun of some of the more ridiculous Bollywood fight scenes in these pages, but let's give credit where credit is due.  This one is actually rather good, in the epic style of '300' and similar movies.





The film is 'Magadheera', released in 2009.

Peter

The successor to lithium-ion batteries?


TechXplore reports:

A team of engineers led by 94-year-old John Goodenough, professor in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin and co-inventor of the lithium-ion battery, has developed the first all-solid-state battery cells that could lead to safer, faster-charging, longer-lasting rechargeable batteries for handheld mobile devices, electric cars and stationary energy storage.

Goodenough's latest breakthrough, completed with Cockrell School senior research fellow Maria Helena Braga, is a low-cost all-solid-state battery that is noncombustible and has a long cycle life (battery life) with a high volumetric energy density and fast rates of charge and discharge. The engineers describe their new technology in a recent paper published in the journal Energy & Environmental Science.

"Cost, safety, energy density, rates of charge and discharge and cycle life are critical for battery-driven cars to be more widely adopted. We believe our discovery solves many of the problems that are inherent in today's batteries," Goodenough said.

The researchers demonstrated that their new battery cells have at least three times as much energy density as today's lithium-ion batteries ... The UT Austin battery formulation also allows for a greater number of charging and discharging cycles, which equates to longer-lasting batteries, as well as a faster rate of recharge (minutes rather than hours).

There's more at the link.

OK, this is really interesting.  Imagine cars with three times the battery life (= range);  home energy storage units that are truly practical, for the first time;  cellphones, tablets and laptop computers with a battery life measured in days rather than in hours;  emergency radios that can be useful for days, even weeks, given a suitable battery . . . the possibilities are endless.

Quickly, please!

Peter

A car has more striking power than a gun


It seems a gun-totin' criminal in Tulsa, OK had an argument with a police car - and lost.

A woman wanted for a string of gun-related crimes was killed Saturday afternoon when an officer intentionally ran over her in south Tulsa after she exchanged gunfire with police following a vehicular chase.

Madison Sueann Dickson, 21, was pronounced dead at 3:07 p.m., Tulsa homicide Sgt. Dave Walker said.

. . .

Officers found Dickson at an apartment at 81st Street and Sheridan Road on Saturday, police spokesman Leland Ashley said. Dickson then got into a pickup as a passenger and fled from the officers, Ashley said.

Dickson eventually bailed out of the truck and presented a handgun, Ashley said, which was when at least two officers shot at her. She fired gunshots at officers, Ashley said.

During the altercation, she was run over by a patrol cruiser, Ashley said, noting police desperately were trying to stop her because of the threat she represented. He said no one was struck by gunfire.

“She had every opportunity to stop and turn herself in,” he said.

. . .

Dickson had been identified as the suspect in a number of crimes, including the shooting of a man Thursday night that resulted in him crashing his car and being hospitalized in critical condition.

There's more at the link.

Here's dashcam video of the incident.  It avoids the gory details.





I post this, not out of voyeuristic pleasure in the death of a criminal, but as a reminder that when you're driving, your vehicle is actually a pretty potent weapon of self-defense in its own right.  If you find yourself unable to avoid a dangerous person, or in a riot situation where violence is threatening the safety of your family, your vehicle is another tool in your toolbox that might be useful in getting out of there alive and (relatively) uninjured.  Rioters and demonstrators have found that out the hard way in recent months.





Don't do what that red SUV did, and deliberately use your vehicle as a weapon to actively target protesters . . . but getting out of your car might be a lot more dangerous than using it to bull your way through a mob, as slowly and carefully as possible, and getting out of the way.

Keep that in mind.

Peter

Monday, March 27, 2017

That sounds about right


Courtesy of Old NFO (click the image for a larger view):




Sounds about right to me - more's the pity . . .

Peter

The competition is getting fierce!


A few weeks ago, I appealed to you, dear readers, for your support for my Western novel 'Brings The Lightning' in the Conservative-Libertarian Fiction Alliance's Book of the Year contest for 2017.




For several weeks, I was quite a long way ahead of the rest of the field.  However, in the past couple of weeks, supporters of John Ringo's 'Monster Hunter Memoirs:  Grunge' have caught up with me, and surpassed my total votes.  At this time, the voting looks like this:




I'm therefore appealing to all my readers once more.  If you haven't yet voted in this contest, and you like my Western, please click over to the voting page and cast your vote for 'Brings The Lightning'.  (Of course, if you think another book is more deserving of the win, please vote for that one!)  Voting is open until midnight on Friday, four and a half days from now, so please don't delay too long.

This is turning out to be a lot of fun.  I think the CLFA hasn't had anything like this many votes before.  Let's run up the totals, no matter who wins!

(Oh - and, if you missed my post yesterday morning, the sequel to 'Brings The Lightning' should go on sale later this week!  We'll see if it gets nominated for next year's CLFA contest.)




Peter

I call BS on this fake "rape" survey


These statistics are so unbelievable they're ridiculous.

Nearly 15 percent of female undergraduates at the University of Texas at Austin reported being raped in a survey released by officials at the 50,000-student campus Friday.

. . .

The Texas survey data works out to about 1 in 7 undergraduate women in Austin. Nationwide, about 1 in 4 college women reported unwanted sexual contact in a 2015 survey by the Association of American Universities.

The flagship Texas campus is one of the largest in the U.S. and released Friday's report ahead of schedule after a legislator this week revealed the 15 percent figure during a hearing in the Texas Capitol.

. . .

The University of Texas report was the result of an internet survey of more than 7,600 students and was funded by the school. Among the other findings were 28 percent of female undergraduates reporting unwanted sexual touching, and that 87 percent of all incidents occurred off-campus.

There's more at the link.

This is simply nonsensical.  To say that one in seven women on campus has been raped is beyond the bounds of rationality.  It's prima facie impossible, if only because parents and siblings would long ago have taken the law into their own hands, and begun roaming the campus, heavily armed, to deal with those molesting their daughters and sisters.  This report is moonbattery and political correctness, masquerading as fact.

I think this survey concentrated on feelings rather than fact, asking respondents whether they had been raped without consideration for the legal definition of that crime.  It also ignores the reality that many teens and young adults get drunk, or use illegal narcotics, or go to high-risk places, or do other things that make them more vulnerable to being used (and abused) by others.  If one drunk teen sleeps with another drunk teen, who later cries "Rape!" because she really didn't want that, but was too drunk to make her lack of consent clear, that's not rape.  As one who's worked in and with the law enforcement profession as a chaplain, and also as a pastor of a church, I can assure you, there are many after-the-fact regrets that manifest themselves as false allegations like that.  Cops are all too familiar with them.  That's why a lot of rape accusations are never prosecuted - because cops and prosecutors know full well that there's no evidence to substantiate the allegations.

When such alarmist numbers are bandied about, it helps to look at the physical reality that they would imply, if true.  When you see undergraduate students wandering around a university campus freely, cheerfully, laughing and carrying on as they do . . . that campus does not have a serious rape problem.  If one in seven female undergraduates had been raped there, they wouldn't be behaving like that.  They'd be cowering in fear.  Q.E.D.

Peter

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Sunday morning music, inspired by my latest book


Great news!  My second Western novel is almost ready for publication.  Expect to see it within the next week to ten days, if all goes well.  Here's the proposed cover.




I'll have more to say about it in a few days.

Because it's a Western, here are five Western-themed or -inspired songs to set the mood.














And finally, because the book is set in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and New Mexico from beginning to end:





Have a great Sunday!

Peter

Saturday, March 25, 2017

My wrist hurts just looking at this picture . . .


Received via e-mail from Jim H., this picture of a home-made shotgun pistol (a typical 'zip gun') found in the Dominican Republic.




My wrist is already aching, in sympathy with whoever tries to fire that thing!




Peter

The real issue in healthcare reform is neither Obamacare nor Trumpcare


Amid all the shouting and tumult over the defeat of "Trumpcare" in Congress, it's worth remembering that this is basically all political posturing.  Both sides of the debate are ignoring the real issue.

As Karl Denninger has pointed out:

Last fiscal year the Federal Government spent $1.417 trillion on Medicare and Medicaid, 9.3% more than the $1.297 trillion it spent the previous year. Last year was not an aberration; it was in fact very close to the historical expansion rate from the 1990s forward.  Spending has almost quadrupled on these programs since FY 1998.  Total outlays in 1998 were $1.651 trillion of which Medicare and Medicaid comprised 23%. Last fiscal year 37% of all fiscal expenditures were made on these two programs.  The ACA (Obamacare), for all of its warts, only managed to dampen that rate of expansion in spending for two years, after which it returned to trend.  At this rate of spending expansion within the next four years the government will attempt to spend $2.02 trillion on these two programs combined which will blow an approximately $600 billion additional hole, per year, in the deficit.  That will not be able to be financed since if you ignore this issue it will be clear that within 10 years the government would try to spend $3.4 trillion per year on the same two programs -- an utter impossibility under any rational expectation for economic expansion.  The impact on private health spending has been even larger on a percentage-of-increase basis due to the blatant cost-shifting that is well-documented in myriad reports and is responsible for a large portion of the stunting of economic progress in America that has occurred over the previous two decades.

. . .

We either admit to what we've been doing and stop the scam or it will overtake the economy and our ability to pay -- both in the government and otherwise, within the next 4-5 years.

We either stop it now or it destroys the economy, asset prices and the nation.

This isn't politics.  It's math.

The facts are what they are.  Demonstrating them is easy and irrefutable.

There's more at the link.

I'm unmoved by assertions of ideological purity.  I note with cynicism that the chairman of the so-called "Freedom Caucus", Rep. Mark Meadows, derived much of his election-year support from the health care industry, so he's hardly a disinterested party.

The health care industry is in this to make as much money as it can out of the pockets of ordinary Americans.  That's the only reason the current mess exists.  As many commentators have pointed out, Obamacare "enriches only the health insurance giants and their shareholders".  Its official name, the 'Affordable' Care Act, is a joke.  (As an interesting exercise, look at how much input the health care industry had when the act was being written.  The link leads to a very left-wing, progressive-oriented article, by the way - it's hardly conservative fear-mongering.)

I'm glad so-called "Trumpcare" did not pass.  It would have done nothing to fix this problem.  It would merely have stuck a few more fingers into a massively leaking dike.  Obamacare is a catastrophe.  It needs to go away - regardless of screams of outrage that it will leave this, or that, or the other many millions of Americans without healthcare coverage.  If those Americans stay with Obamacare, or Medicaid, or any other bureaucratically and politically approved form of coverage, they're going to find it worthless anyway, because this country will be so bankrupt it won't be able to afford to pay for it.

Obamacare is an abomination.  Trumpcare would have been the same.  Let's get rid of both of them, and return to sanity in healthcare - fiscal and otherwise.  We're already going broke as a nation.  If it isn't fixed, healthcare will merely bankrupt us faster.

Peter