Wednesday, September 30, 2009

There's A Tape!

Andrew Young, an ex-aide to Presidential candidate John Edwards, is said to have a videotape of Edwards and his mistress Rielle Hunter:

And Young, with all the fury of a spurned lover, may be holding out yet another threat to his old idol, if it comes to that: an explicit videotape, two people who have seen it said, of Edwards and Hunter together.

“It’s his hole card,” said the source.

Oh, and in other news, the Supreme Court is going to be asked to incorporate the Second Amendment.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"Congress shall make no law..."

Judge Lawrence H. Silberman is interviewed by Peter Robinson.

Silberman wrote the decision in Parker vs. D.C. (later Heller vs. D.C.) that overturned the District of Columbia's ban on handgun ownership, and sent the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Things I learned by watching the interview:
  1. Silberman was initially a "collective rights" believer, but his mind was changed by reading the briefs in the case.
  2. It is Silberman's opinion that the Second Amendment applies to state and local government even without incorporation, because there is no language in the 2A that limits it to the federal government, as there is in, for example, the First Amendment, which begins, "Congress shall make no law..." The Second Amendment contains no such language, and its protections are therefore broader: "...shall not be infringed" means shall not be infringed by federal, state or local laws.
Great stuff!

Accidental Gunshot Deaths of Children

A post by Joe Huffman led me to the CDC's latest statistical reference of accidental deaths of children in 2006. (That's the latest year for which complete data are available.) Here's a distillation of the accidental deaths in 2006, by cause, of children under the age of fifteen:

Of the nine causes of accidental death listed by the CDC, accidental discharge of firearms was ninth in total deaths of children fifteen and younger. Accidental discharge of firearms accounted for 54 deaths of children under the age of 15 years, out of a total accidental death toll in that age range of 5,015. Thus, accidental discharge of firearms was the cause of just 1.08% of all accidental deaths of children under the age of fifteen in 2006.

Those 54 deaths were tragedies - there is no other word for it – but so were the other 4,961 accidental deaths of young children in 2006.

These figures were taken from the CDC's National Vital Statistics Report – “Deaths: Final Data For 2006”, page 35, Table 10,

Monday, September 28, 2009


Bertrand Russell meets Georg Cantor in the pages of a comic book.

"Algorithm And Blues."

Saturday, September 26, 2009

WaPo Re-edits ACORN Story

On Wednesday, I blogged ("Chutzpah!") about a piece in the Washington Post about the ACORN scandal. The WaPo article read in part:
"It's balderdash on top of poppycock," said Rathke, who was forced out last year amid an embezzlement scandal involving his brother.
Now the Post has re-edited that piece to delete the reference to embezzlement. No published "correction" - just changed the text without notice.

Check out Jonathan Adler's post at the Volokh Conspiracy for the details. Can't post links from my Blackberry.

The WaPo has a long history of being reluctant to correct factual errors and offering only the absolute minimum of facts when they do. For example, even the New York Times will publish a correction such as, "Some editions of yesterday's Times carried a story falsely describing Skip Williams as the son of John Williams; in fact, he is his pet dog."

But the Post would say, "Some editions of yesterday's Post carried a story falsely describing Skip Williams as the son of John Williams. The Post regrets the error."

But given the Post's tradition as the defacto national newspaper of the Democratic Party, the revision of the ACORN story calls for an explanation.

Black Man With A Gun

From the comments to CNN's story "Mad As Hell - Gun Owners Up In Arms":

Gun Control...that's the dumbest thing I've ever heard of. I am an American citizen by birth. I grew up in a high crime neighborhood in the mean streets of NY in the 1980's as a teenager where gun violence was a daily occurrence. I owned a gun as a young adult in NY and own one now - legally both times! People need to be able to protect themselves!

Now I live in the rural south where I hunt, fish and all of those things that gun rights advocates talk about and I'm an NRA life member. I still have my guns to protect my family. My wife and I are concealed weapons permit holders and I wish someone would try to take away my rights. I own 2 assault rifles, 3 hunting rifles, 2 shotguns, and 3 pistols and intend to buy more because it is my right! And yes, I have two children at home, and the guns are locked up and out of their reach.

Common sense is what is needed. Guns are not the problem, people are the problem. If this president tries to take away my rights, he can kiss my vote away for the next election. I gave it to him once but won't do it again if he tries any foolishness. And for the record, in case the readers are wondering, I'm AFRICAN AMERICAN and MAD AS HELL!!!!!


h/t Alphecca

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Nordyke vs. King Oral Arguments

Audio link here.

Favorite exchange (paraphrasing) at 36-37 minutes:

Judge: Are you aware that your own Attorney General has submitted an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court calling on them to incorporate the Second Amendment so that it applies to state and local governments? Do you disagree with your own state's Attorney General?

Ms. Weaver: Yes, yes, I do.

Judge: I won't tell him when I see him.


Ms. Weaver: He might find out somehow.

Judge: I don't think he cares one way or the other.

[more laughter]

It seemed to go well for the pro-Second Amendment side, to my ear. The judges asked much more penetrating and skeptical questions of Alameda County's lawyer (Weaver). She had a very tough time articulating why the county fairgrounds were a "sensitive place" as mentioned in the Heller decision. For example, she mentioned several times that a "shoot-out" once took place at the fairgrounds, but later pointed out that it was not during a gun show.

At another point (56:45), Weaver pointed out that the county would have no objection to a gun show at the fairgrounds where the guns were kept in locked cases, and could not be handled, bought or sold. One of the judges then said, "Well, wouldn't that be like going to a restaurant for breakfast where all the food was kept in display cases and you couldn't eat any of it?"

I would say that, based on the oral arguments, incorporation took a small step forward today.

Qik Video Server offers a free service for users of some videocam-equipped cellphones. The service allows direct, near-real-time uploads of the footage to Qik's servers. That way, even if the cellphone is lost, stolen, destroyed or (ahem!) seized as "evidence", the video footage will still be available.

Bein' hassled by The Man? Catch 'em in the act with Qik!

And later, in court, watch 'em squirm as you play back their discussion of how best to destroy the evidence. Sweet!

Via a VCDL bulletin.

Like Shooting Fish In A Barrel

A leading liberal Democrat in the House blasted ACORN Wednesday and said he is urging the White House to withhold any federal funding for the group.

"I am very disappointed in the actions that were taken by members of ACORN," Rep. Barney Frank, D-Massachusetts, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said in a statement.

"I do not believe that ACORN's response has been adequate for an organization that has received public funding," he said.

[Unlike Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, eh, Barney?]

Frank said he is urging the Obama administration to withhold any additional funding for ACORN "at least until there is very firm evidence that the abuses of which ACORN members have been guilty have not only ceased, but that procedures are in place to prevent them from happening again."
"I'm shocked! Shocked! To find that [gambling, child sex slavery, toxic mortgages, whatever] is going on in here!"


Wednesday, September 23, 2009


ACORN sues filmmakers, and the Washington Post is there:

In an exclusive interview with The Washington Post, founder Wade Rathke said conservative claims that ACORN is a "criminal enterprise" that misuses federal and donor funds for political ends -- a claim contained in a report by House Republicans -- are a "complete fabrication." He said exaggeration and conjecture about the group are being passed off daily on cable television and Web blogs as documented fact.

"It's balderdash on top of poppycock," said Rathke, who was forced out last year amid an embezzlement scandal involving his brother. "It is a tactic they are trying to aggressively use to attack Obama . . . to paint the president and anybody else they can as radicals."

You can't make this stuff up!

Update: from a comment on The Volokh Conspiracy:

Oh, please let it go to discovery!

To paraphrase Woody Allen (from Bananas, I think):

Your Honor, this lawsuit is a sham! A travesty! A sham of a travesty of two mockeries of a debacle!

How To Bring The Federal Government To A Standstill

No, not Al Qaida.

No, not with North Korean nukes.

No, not with Iranian nukes either.

No, not by returning to the gold standard.

If you really want to bring the federal government to its knees, just have all members of Congress sign a pledge "never to vote on any bill unless they have read every word of it." This, according to an editorial in the Washington Post.

Well, of course they can't possibly read every word of every bill, says the Post, without making the obvious connection that perhaps democracy and representative government are being seriously damaged by a bloated Federal register of criminal and civil laws that nobody, not even the people that voted for them, can read or understand. Dealing with the federal law has become so complicated that you need, not just one lawyer, but a staff of them to keep yourself out of hot water.

The situation is beginning to resemble that of medieval Europe, when the Bible was the law, but it was written in Latin, which none of the common people could read. So they depended on priests to translate and interpret it for them. And these authorities often interpreted the law to say whatever benefited them and their cohorts in the ruling classes.

Bring the feds to their knees? Sounds like a good idea! And not a shot fired. Where do I sign up!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

'Nerds' Nuke ACORN

The Atomic Nerds have a wonderful post on the ACORN scandal:
ACORN, which was in many ways the right wing’s Roadrunner during the last election, has finally been brought down, and by the unlikeliest of hunters: a weedy kid with an anti-big-government agenda and his girlfriend, who used a shoestring budget, a video camera, and possibly the least convincing costumes in history to get ACORN personnel on tape in five different offices across the nation not only offering to help with tax fraud, but to launder a pimp’s incoming funds, and aid and abet child sex slavery of all things. Karl Rove in his wildest dreams would never have imagined that such a thing was actually possible...
...the right could never in their most orgasmic fantasies invent something as toxic as a prominent leftist organization agreeing to abet child sex slavery on tape. Five times in five different major offices.
I was cackling! Read the whole thing.

Highly recommended.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe - avec bicyclette

By Édouard Manet (1862)

By Bow Wow Wow (1982)

My own lunch was not as exciting as either of these. I bicycled 21 miles out to Reston and enjoyed a brief arboreal repast of an apple and a banana, then bicycled home. About a 4-hour round trip.


Find out Which Movie Hero Are You at!

Publicly disemboweled for freedom. Yep.

Thanks to Roberta X for the pointer.

More Evidence of Global Warming

ZACKENBERG RESEARCH STATION, GREENLAND — Claiming it to be one of the most dramatic and visible signs of climate change to date, researchers said Monday that receding polar ice caps have revealed nearly 200 clandestine lairs once buried deep beneath hundreds of feet of Arctic ice.

The story goes on to say that the receding ice has uncovered hundreds of lairs, hideouts, mad scientist laboratories, re-animated cavemen, lost flying saucers, highly classified military compounds (including the super-secret Area 52), secret fortresses, experimental stations for human-animal grafting, buried bunkers, Nazi occultists, hidden headquarters and underground complexes of psychotic criminal masterminds.

The Onion.

Cling To This!

Henry Repeating Rifles (of Bayonne, New Jersey, no less!) has started a promotional campaign, and it has drawn interest from the New York Times website.
Mr. Imperato, in a telephone interview on Thursday, said he planned a “test run of the ‘Bible holster’ ad” to gauge the response.“It’s a very serious subject when you’re using the Bible in an ad,” he explained — not to mention when you’re making statements like those in the text of the ad, which include “During this past presidential election folks like us were mocked for our beliefs, but we know better.”

Mayors Against Bad Publicity

Over at Snowflakes In Hell, Bitter has a great post about Mayor Bloomberg's MAIG:

  • Their website no longer lists a total number of members. Rather than tacitly admitting that their numbers are dwindling, they have removed the membership counter.
  • They have removed the locator maps from their website so that 2nd Amendment activists can no longer gather membership info.
  • The NRA has set up a counter-site to follow the effort to reduce MAIG membership.

There's a lot more. Check it out.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Heller Debate At Brown University

Makes the front page of the college newspaper, too.

h/t Alphecca.

No Need To Worry!

"Many people falsely believe that Social Security will run out before they reach retirement."

Why, that's ridiculous! Social Security will run out AFTER they reach retirement.

Yahoo! News.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mojo Bicycle Cafe

Where else can you find a bicycle repair shop that also serves a mean triple cappuccino? San Fran, naturally. Here's the write-up:


There are few combinations as simple and viscerally satisfying as reclining on the seat of your '74 Monte Carlo enjoying a $10 hummer and a puff or two on the glass dick. I mean, you gotta relax, right? However, it's all about trying new things, or putting together old things in new combinations. Like, picture this: the Monte Carlo is in the shop, and you're pedaling down the road on the Schwinn Varsity 10-speed you inherited from your pops. You realize two things: (1) This bike rides like shit, and (2) Damn, I picked a bad week to give up crack and hookers — I'm really gonna need some strong coffee before my head explodes. Mojo Bicycle Café has got you covered: you can have your ride wrenched on while you glug an expertly poured triple cappuccino, perhaps noshing on a salad or sandwich while you make small talk with your sponsor. If you decide to give up on the Schwinn, you can peruse the selection of bikes for sale, including the new line of city cruisers by Swobo.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Badass of the Week

British soldier in Afghanistan, out of ammo, bayonets a Taliban machine-gunner.
"One of my men, Corporal Billy Carnegie, reached us, looked at the two dead Taliban on the ground and then saw the blood on my bayonet and said "boss what the **** have you been doing?"


From the UK Telegraph.

h/t Total Survivalist Libertarian Rantfest.

New York Times Private Communications on Gun Control

How can some of our (supposedly) best and brightest be so infuriatingly wrong about such simple concepts? For example, the difference between "rights of the people" and "powers of the state"?

The following email exchange with a New York Times editorial writer was forwarded by the Virginia Citizens' Defense League (VCDL). The comments in brackets are by VCDL President Philip Van Cleave.

Opposed to Gun Rights?

Q. Can you please explain to me why the Times' editorials on guns are so vehemently opposed to gun rights?
-- Steve Brown, Springfield, Va.

A. Our editorials are not opposed to gun rights, vehemently or otherwise. We support the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, which says (quoting it in full, which opponents of reasonable regulation of guns rarely do): "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

What does that mean to us? It means that the right to keep and bear arms is indeed enshrined in the Constitution. We do not go as far as some do and suggest that the authors of American democracy meant to restrict the bearing of arms to a militia, or in the modern context something like the National Guard. But it does clearly and unequivocally state that the bearing of arms would be regulated and that the goal is to ensure the security of a free state.

There is nothing in that language to suggest that the government may be barred from preventing the possession of firearms by criminals and others who threaten the security of the free state.

We believe that the people mentioned in this amendment are the law-abiding citizens of the United States.

In concrete terms, where does the Second Amendment endorse the formation of gun markets designed to evade the law and distribute guns to criminals so they can carry them to other states to commit violent crimes? [PVC: And where does it say that citizens are to be restricted so that criminals can't get guns?]

Where in the Second Amendment does it say that the federal government should make it impossible for law enforcement in New York to trace a gun used to commit murder simply because the gun was sold by a black-market dealer in Virginia? [PVC: Where does it say they CAN do so? The editor doesn't understand that the government can only do what the CONSTITUTION says it can do and no more. He is mixing up personal RIGHTS with governmental POWERS.]

Where in the Second Amendment does it say that ordinary citizens may buy automatic weapons created for the specific purpose of killing enemy soldiers on a battlefield and then load them with bullets designed to penetrate the body armor our police officers wear in the line of duty? [PVC: Still lost in the woods.]

Where in the Second Amendment does it forbid the federal government, or the states, from issuing rules that prohibit the sale of weapons to children, to the mentally ill, to violent criminal offenders? [PVC: Once you start with a false premise, you can go anywhere with it.]

We understand the emotions surrounding this issue, but would just like to suggest that those who oppose gun control stop for a moment and take a deep breath.

Do they really want to be on the side of those who buy and sell guns for the express purpose of committing violent crimes. Because that is where the anti-gun-control movement now makes its stand. [PVC: We want our gun rights UN-INFRINGED, just like the Constitution says.]

Our position is simple. Americans have a right to own weapons. The government has the right to know where those weapons are and who bought them. [PVC: Here we go again - the government DOES NOT HAVE RIGHTS!] It also has the right to decide that certain kinds of weapons are detrimental to the security of a free state when distributed freely to all comers, including violent criminals, and take measures to stop that from happening. The government, which has the well-established right to protect the health of its citizens by banning smoking in public spaces, has the right to protect the health of its citizens by requiring that gun makers install simple and cheap devices that have no impact on the legal functions of a firearm but protect children from accidental discharge. [PVC: Cigarettes are not constitutionally protected with a "shall not be infringed" status. The government is granted none of these authorities by the Constitution. Nice try at creating a "living constitution", New York Times, but no cigar.]

Unbelievable. Apparently, the NYT believes that the gov't has the "right" to do virtually anything in the name of the public good, as they define the public good, and the Bill of Rights is not an impediment when it comes to the public welfare.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

One Bad-Ass Lady!

Mary Edwards Walker. Surgeon, abolitionist, spy, prisoner of war. See that medal over her heart? That's the Congressional Medal of Honor. She's the only female ever to receive it.

American Forces Press Service.

FBI: Crime Rates Lowest In Twenty Years

Not only are all of the FBI's serious crime rates at or below their historic lows, most of the incident-counts are, too! Even though the population grew from 247 million in 1989 to 304 million in 2008.

Example: there were 1.5 million motor-vehicle thefts in 1989. In 2008 there were 956,846.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Actually, You ARE Still In Kansas...

...and that's a Kansas State Police car.
Incredible pictures take by storm chasers in (of all places!) The Daily Mail.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

On The Subway This Morning...

...the car was crowded with scores of people in yellow T-shirts. Then I noticed that they were not just yellow, they were Gadsden flags!

Looks like a good turn-out.
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Friday, September 11, 2009

Eight Years Ago

I was home that day. I was watching the horror unfold on TV. The towers had been hit, and the Pentagon, too. I heard the “thump-thump” of sonic booms as interceptors arrived, a little too late. Commercial air traffic had been grounded, but there were rumors of a fourth plane, a missing airliner, one that hadn't checked in. Maybe it was flying low, to avoid radar, they said.

While I was watching, a loud roaring noise was building up outside. I ran out on the back porch to see what the hell it was. I looked up, but the first thing I noticed was the smell of burning rubber. The Pentagon is only about five miles away.

The roaring noise got louder until two jets appeared, at an unusually low altitude. One plane was a blue and white federal Gulfstream. The other, flying wingtip-to-wingtip, was an Air Force F-15. We see F-15s in the area quite frequently, Andrews Air Force Base is nearby, but this was the first time I had seen one fully combat-ready, with the weapons pylons packed with air-to-air missiles.

Later, the press said the Gulfstream was carrying federal officials to Washington National Airport from Denver, where, ironically, they had been holding a conference on emergency management. The F-15 was flying escort to insure that other air defense assets didn't go ape and try to shoot down the Gulfstream.

Cover Girl

Business Week magazine has a cover story and a big write-up of Glock.

The Gun!

The Man!

The Intrigue!

h/t Alphecca.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Quote of the Day: Marko proposes a new action shooting sport: Pirate Action Shooting.

Breda comments: "I will start whittling my peg!"

Allusive Butterfly

Planetary nebula around a dying star. "The Butterfly Nebula"

h/t Bitter.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Desert Island Paradise

There's this old joke. A young single man spies an attractive young lady from across the room. He decides to pretend to know her, to start up a conversation. He goes over to her and says, “Hey, isn't it 'Sandy'?”

She looks at him frostily and responds, “Isn't what sandy?”

Well, after my recent beach camping trip I don't think I will ever be 100% sand-free again.

Virginia has a little-known wilderness area called False Cape State Park. It's located where the border with North Carolina meets the Atlantic Ocean. It consists of 8-9 miles of undisturbed Atlantic Ocean beach front, plus dunes, pine forests and brackish swamps. There are a dozen primitive campsites available for $11 a night. Primitive means you bring your own tent. There are no cabins. There are no utilities. There are no lights. There are no showers. The amenities do include his-and-hers outhouses, rather nice ones, too, with solar-powered motion-detector lights inside – just open the door and the lights turn on. At the campsites there is also a water well with a hand-pump which has to be primed, but the water is not treated for drinking. About three miles away there is a drinking-water “hydrant” so bring lots of drinking water containers. I was looking forward to washing my hair in the ocean!

What's great about FCSP is the proximity to pristine Atlantic Ocean beach: it's only 100 yards from the campsites, through the dunes. The downside is access. The only way to get to FCSP on foot is through the federal Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. No vehicles are allowed. Hiking and mountain biking only. No paved roads. The nearest parking lot is nine miles from the campsites. All food must be carried in; there is no “commissary” - whaddaya think this is, a National Park or sumpthin'? There are lots of venomous snakes, principally the eastern water moccasin, and swarms of biting insects, including red ants, ticks and “no-see-ums”, i.e. biting midges. So bring lots of DEET. Back Bay NWR is not a recreation area; swimming, sunbathing, camping, etc. are not allowed. Campers are expected to make their way directly five miles south to FCSP post haste!

Now, I figured that right after Labor Day the weather would still be summer-like, and all of the kids would be back in school, so the place would be nearly deserted. And it was. On the way in I passed three young women on their way out whom I would categorize as “college students”. They were on mountain bikes and each carried an enormous backpack. I guess it was back to school for them. I had the campground (three tent sites) all to myself.

All of my gear was carried on the bike, I didn't even bring a backpack. Just four big pannier bags.

After five miles of biking I reached the entrance to the park. Now just four more miles to go.

The welcoming committee was waiting - there are two snakes in the photo. The road conditions seen here are typical for the NWR and FCSP: a mix of dirt, gravel, cinder and packed sand. Watch out for ruts and potholes.

"No one will be watching us..."

As you get deeper into FCSP the roads are mostly packed sand and pine needles. Very pleasant biking, and very fragrant. Watch for snakes; I saw half a dozen.

Once I had arrived and unpacked the bicycle, I made a quick water run to the hydrant and came back with a couple of gallons of drinking water. The first liter was slightly brown so I threw it out and refilled it, and the rest was crystal clear. Note: bring drinking water containers made of clear plastic only. The trip back to camp without all the weight on the bike was outstanding! Fishtailing around corners, standing on the pedals to provide thrust to correct the oversteer... great!

I set up camp right away while the light was still good. I found a nest of red ants on the sand so I decided to use a sleeping hammock to sleep above ground. A decade ago I took my son on a Cub Scout camping trip. One of the leaders decided to sleep in the open. The next morning he found that his face was less than a foot from the entrance to a very busy underground wasp nest. He scratched his head and said, “You know...I wondered what that buzzing sound was...” Lesson learned: set up during daylight! There were plenty of strong live oak trees to attach the hammock lines to. I used these “figure nine” carabiners to keep lines taut; they're amazing! And the small green cords are woven with reflective material so they can be seen in the dark. The plastic gripper on the right holds the corner of the tarp. Cheaper Than Dirt, about $5 a dozen.

Using a painter's drop cloth (what a useful bargain! Get the 2-mil kind.) I built rain flies over the picnic table and over the hammock. I guyed these down with tent stakes and miniature carabiners. I stashed my food on the raccoon racks and went to have a look at the beach.

Raccoon Rack

From the beach, looking north, the nearest habitable dwelling is nine or ten miles away. Driving on the beach is prohibited, except for the park rangers, of course. And looking south, the little village of Carova, just below the North Carolina border, is three and a half miles away.

Looking north

Looking south

See the large red object on the left edge of the picture? That is a washed-up steel buoy, about 6-8 feet in diameter. You can see it in the aerial photo below:

My campsite was #9.

There is no life guard on duty. However, instructions are provided for saving someone who is drowning, should the need arise.

You could also call “911”.

"Searching For Network."

But I wouldn't count on it.

I brought a ham radio FM transceiver, just in case. Also serves as a regular AM/FM broadcast radio and a weather alert radio, too.

The day was warm with heavy overcast and strong winds. Back at camp I prepared an MRE (turkey patty, ugh) and a pot (actual percolator!) of strong Sumatran coffee from Peet's. That'll wash down any cruddy camping food. I like to use MRE's because they're cheap, light, have a long shelf life and (and this is important!) they can be heated without an open flame. It's really a letdown to arrive at a camp and be told by the ranger that no fires or stoves are allowed because of dry conditions, so you have to eat cold food. MRE's have these clever, cheap, use-once-and-throw-it-away chemical heaters that actually work. I have an old Peak “multi-fuel” backpacker's stove that still works like a champ and makes coffee in about 20 minutes.

After cleanup I snapped a lumistick and left it at the entrance to my campsite. I took two flashlights with me for a long walk on the beach while the sun went down.

This is one of the few places in Virginia (maybe the ONLY place, come to think of it) where you can actually camp right on the beach. With your tent or sleeping bag between the surf and the first dune. In fact, the rangers actually accommodate beach camping, with marked-off areas for each of the campsites. No fires, tho'! No fires on the beach!

As the sun went down I saw some blue sky breaking in the west, so I was optimistic that Tuesday's weather would be an improvement, and might even provide some sunburn.

When it was completely dark I waded into the surf and was rewarded by little green bioluminescing creatures in the foam. Ostrocods? Cool!

Walking back in the darkness it was reassuring to come around the last corner and see the lumistick glowing brightly at the entrance to my camp.

The lumistick is at the bottom of the wooden post.

It was about 10 PM by now so I got some supplies under cover, hung the trash bag on the raccoon pole, climbed into the hammock and zipped the insect screen closed. It was starting to drizzle on the rain fly a foot above my face and I could hear the “pat-pat-pat” of the rain on the plastic, but I was snug, dry and warm. Sleeping in a hammock made of ripstop nylon is actually pretty comfortable. By midnight the rain had increased to a steady downpour and the constant “PAT-A-PAT-A” on the rain fly had become a continuous roar of sound. It sounded like firecrackers on Chinese New Year. I couldn't get to sleep.

I was starting to feel cold at my feet. Water was running down the hammock lines into the hammock. Held by capillary action or “surface tension”, water can do the damnedest things. Next time I will install “drip lines” on the hammock lines; these are little pieces of string, about a foot long, that are tied to the hammock lines and hang straight down to provide a more direct route for the raindrops to reach the ground.

“Yeah, next time!” the Sundance Kid said to Butch Cassidy.

The wind and rain picked up (the next morning the weather guy on the radio called it “an absolute deluge”). Water was blowing underneath the rain fly. Water was traveling down the ridge line of the insect net and dripping on my face. I was starting to shiver. Then the insect screen ridge line snapped and it fell onto my face, and the rain fly with it. I got up three times between 1:00 and 3:00 AM to adjust or repair the rain fly. It never tore; the material is easy to cut but very difficult to tear.

At 4:30 AM the rain had slacked off to a drizzle so I made a dash to the supplies to see if I could find some dry clothes. They were marginally dryer; even though they had been protected from the rain, the humidity had got to 'em. My own fault for preferring cotton.

The weatherman said that the weather for the next two days would be the same. "We might see the sun by Thursday," he said. I hadn't slept at all and it did not look as if I would get any opportunity for sleep in the next 72 hours, so I decided, reluctantly, to pack it in.

I packed up and started out at first light. I kept dreaming about getting into my car and starting the heater. I packed up every scrap of trash, too. As I rode the rain stopped and I was besieged by flying insects. I had to use my right hand to continuously swipe them away from my eyes. Somewhere in my gear was a mosquito headnet, but before I could find it, the rains returned and drove the insects off.

It's slow going pedaling a heavily-laden bicycle into a strong headwind. I guess it took nearly two hours to reach my car, and by then it was a full-fledged gale. I opened the car door and the wind immediately slammed it closed again. I struggled to get everything inside and the bike back on the rack.

This has just whetted my appetite to try it again next year. Here's how I would make changes:

1. Bigger rain flies so that they can cover the entire hammock, plus 2-3 feet on each end, and reach the ground on either side, to reduce the amount of water that is blown in.
2. Separate ridge line for the rain fly, independent of the hammock.
3. Drip strings on the hammock lines, insect screen lines and rain fly lines.
4. Synthetic clothing.
5. Bring a f***ing book! Do you believe that I forgot to bring a book!?

I had a couple of food treats that I had brought in. One was the coffee and the other was cheese; Stilton with mango. Good lord, it's delicious!

[Edit: I forgot to mention hurricane matches. These are actually little "sparklers", like wax coated matches impregnated with gunpowder or some such. The paper matches from the MRE went bad after 3-4 hours of exposure to humid air, but I believe the hurricane matches might even ignite under water!]

[There is a Map and GPS version of the bike trip available here.]

Thursday, September 3, 2009

"Back To Hell Year After Year"

Manson follower Susan Atkins had another parole hearing yesterday.

Probably her last.

Relatives of the victims have attended every one of her hearings and speak in opposition to parole.

Pictured is Debra Tate, sister of murdered actress Sharon Tate.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Hospital In A Disaster

New Orleans Memorial Hospital, Monday, August 29, 2004. Two hundred patients, 600 staff and over 1,000 refugees are in the building. At 4:55 AM the power fails and the emergency generators kick on to keep the medical equipment operating. Air conditioning fails, only one elevator is operational. Helicopters arrive on the helipad to evacuate patients. Doctors, nurses and staff struggle to carry patients down six flights of stairs to the helipad. Toilets back up. Water stops flowing from taps. Condensation is running down the walls.

At 2 A.M. Wednesday the emergency generators sputter and stop. Dozens of alarm bells sound from ventilators and life-support monitors as they switch to their back-up batteries. The emergency lights dim and fail. Helicopters cannot land in the darkness because the pad is not lit. The only working elevator stops. Staffers and volunteers struggle to carry patients down six flights of stairs in the dark.

Half an hour later the ventilator batteries begin to fail. Nurses grab Ambu bags and manually squeeze air into patients' lungs.

A 61-year-old pulmonary specialist straps on his Beretta. The hospital administrator distributes guns to the security staff. Stone-faced State Police armed with shotguns arrive and announce that the entire hospital must be cleared by 5 P.M.; they will not stay and protect the hospital after that.

An absolutely riveting account of Hurricane Katrina in the New York Times. It reads more like a TEOTWAWKI novel, but it's true.