AShotAndaBeer's Blog

Politics, Firearms, and things that amuse me

Archive for February 2010

Smoking Bans

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So I hear on the news driving home after work that the the Kansas legislature is working on, and passing, a statewide  smoking ban, affecting bars, restaurants, public workplaces, etc, all the usual jargon.  With the usual exceptions:  Private clubs (paying a fee to the state) and state owned  casinos (and if I understand correctly, at least partially state-owned is the only way you will get a casino in Kansas).  Sounds like they don’t want to hurt their own businesses with this intrusion, eh?

Now maybe with myself being a smoker, I have a little biased opinion.  Sure, I know that smoking is bad for me, and sometimes if I smoke too much one day, I’m hurting the next.  Really, getting up there in years and realizing I ain’t as young as I used to be is making me think I really need to cut back, although I can’t bring myself to the point of “I’m quitting!”

Anyway, I don’t understand what is so difficult about this, and why nanny-state busy-bodies in city and state governments, and people like Yael Abouhalkah of the Kansas City Star’s editorial board seem to be so hell-bent on making their ideas law.  I think that the business owner is best equipped to decide what sort of business he or she will run.  Some in favor of smoking bans talk about how it will help businesses, why, there are so many people who don’t go to bars and restaurants because of those evil smokers.

If business gets better with smoking bans, then it should be a no-brainer for the proprietor to stop it themselves.  And, perhaps, even cut down on expenses, like exhaust fans and air filter devices found in some bars.

In most localities that enact smoking bans, there always seems to be at least one “smoke-easy,” like the underground bars in the 1920s, that law enforcement doesn’t bother.  So if folks know about the place, and wish to have a drink and smoke, they will go there.  As I have read, even police officers in New York City frequent places like that, with no fines or citations handed out.

Here’s an idea:  Let’s let the owners decide.  And make their choices clear, with a very obvious sign near the entrance, saying “This Establishment Allows/Does Not Allow Smoking On The Premises.”  Then, the consumer has a clear choice whether to enter or not.  Much like the “No Weapons Allowed” signs.

If the bar across the street that bans smoking is suddenly hopping and raking in cash hand over fist, and the smoker’s lounge is dull, stinky, and dead with no business, then perhaps the owner will take note and make changes accordingly.

Written by James Lee

February 25, 2010 at 20:30

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Gun Control in Decline

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The New York Times notes the lack of new gun laws:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/24/us/24guns.html?hp

In the meantime, gun control advocates say, Mr. Obama has failed to deliver on campaign promises to close a loophole that allows unlicensed dealers at gun shows to sell firearms without background checks; to revive the assault weapons ban; and to push states to release data about guns used in crimes.

Sounds as if they might be a little disappointed with their Messiah.  When confronted with the Brady Campaign’s recent report card and anti-gun rant, the reply was:

“The president supports and respects the Second Amendment,” Mr. LaBolt said, “and he believes we can take common-sense steps to keep our streets safe and to stem the flow of illegal guns to criminals.”

I’m sure that I would likely disagree with what the Administration calls “common-sense steps.”  Regardless, there is no doubt in my mind that if he could snap his fingers and make it so, the President would very likely make private firearms ownership illegal.  Either way, it would take Congress to pass such legislation, and no one in any sort of contested district or state will sign their name to it.  Especially when it would likely be overturned by the courts later as unconstitutional.

This does not mean the fight for our rights is over, not by any means.  The further away from the goal they get, the louder and more shrill the gun control folks will get.  Pay attention to the upcoming elections, and make sure your vote reflects your choice in maintaining our Constitutional rights and freedoms.

Written by James Lee

February 24, 2010 at 10:35

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Great Cartoon

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In response to this nutty rant:

http://action.afa.net/Blogs/BlogPost.aspx?id=2147492099

Hot Air’s Greenroom Contributor and Resident Cartoonist came up with this:

http://hotair.com/greenroom/archives/2010/02/23/gay-air-or-all-queer-all-the-time/

Be sure to check out the rest of Sarjex great work while you are there.

Written by James Lee

February 24, 2010 at 09:09

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Musings on Toyota

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For a few months now, Toyota has been in the news with accellerator problems, which lately seems to be getting deeper every day.  There are also possible political angels to this, but I won’t focus on that right now.

Working in the automotive field, I have seen enough autos to know that Toyota makes a pretty decent product.  They tend to built pretty solid, with pretty reliable engines.

Their current problems seem to be coming from a ‘drive by wire’ system that is becoming popular with manufacturers.  What that means is that there is no old-fashioned throttle linkage from the pedal to the engine.  Instead, a sensor is built into the pedal, feeding the computer that information, which the computer uses to open a valve or set of valves on the engine via an electrical signal.  Several upsides with this type of system include fewer moving parts, tighter computerized control of engine management (resulting in better fuel milage and performance), less likelihood of a mechanical cable binding, breaking, or otherwise wearing out.  The downside, of course, is that any component can fail, even electronic computerized ones.

As there seems to be no definitive answers on what exactly is failing in these cars, most of what I read and hear of it is speculation.  Realistically, there are only three components that can fail:  The position sensor on the pedal itself, the computer module, or the throttle valve assembly.  Since I hear mainly about the pedals, I’m going to assume the problem lies in that area.

In my experience with sensors, even those with no moving parts, I know they can all fail, sometimes spectacularly, and often times in ways the computer self-diagnostics can not detect.  In the case of the pedal, the computer knows the feedback will be between X and Y volts, X being idle, and Y being pedal to the metal.  As long as that signal is in that range, the computer will think that you the driver are causing  the signal to be what it is, not realizing there is a problem.

Ever have your gas gauge suddenly shoot to “Empty?”  Or “Full” for that matter, even though you know it can’t possibly be right?  It’s the same sort of circuit, what is known as a rheostat, or variable resistor.  Same as the volume knob on a radio.  Ever have an old radio go full volume and won’t turn down?

Until the problems are totally solved, I would like to offer Toyota, or any other company using this sort of throttle system, a suggestion.  A small reprogram of the engine control computer can help negate the dangerous conditions if the sensor shorts out high.  Program the module to watch for, say, 85% or 90% throttle or higher.  If it stays there for longer than, say, 10 seconds, the computer will override the pedal, and cut back the throttle valves.  Another 10 seconds, and the computer would drop it to idle speeds, allowing you to stop and pull over.

Sometimes as a driver, you will run the accellerator at wide open, such as passing, getting up to speed on entrance ramps, and other situations.  But rarely, I would think, would you keep it there longer than 10 seconds, especially considering that most cars these days will be well over 60 miles per hour in that time.  If by chance you do need hard accel longer than that, simply letting up the pedal, and pressing it again would reset that counter, assuring the computer that yes, you DO want full throttle.

If you as a driver are ever in a situation where the engine seems to be running away, please be extremely careful.  Always be aware of your situation.  If this happens to you, I suggest that you watch the road carefully, place the transmission in Neutral.  This disengages the drivetrain to stop further accelleration.  A rev-limiter will prevent the engine from racing too high and destroying itself.  You can then firmly control the steering, and apply brakes and safely getting to the side of the road.  Once stopped, you can then shut off the engine.  And call a tow truck!

Be careful out there!  People tend to forget that cars are two-ton weapons, with numerous systems that must function together.  Those systems can, and do fail.  No matter how well something is designed and built, or how long you’ve never had a problem, things WILL break.  So please, again, be very careful.  Your life and others can be at risk.

Written by James Lee

February 23, 2010 at 09:45

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It’s not dead yet

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Just when you think its safe to go about your life, the Adminstration proves yet again they are totally tone-deaf when it comes to their singular goal of controlling as much as they can.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100222/ap_on_go_pr_wh/us_health_care_overhaul

President Barack Obama is making a fresh attempt to rescue his health care overhaul by proposing a measure that would allow the government to deny or roll back egregious insurance premium increases that infuriate consumers.

Just how can these idiots be so ignorant of basic economics?  In my own business, I set prices to the customers based on several factors, such as cost of goods, labor time involved, how much profit I make, and try to make those prices as fair and competitive as I can. 

If another entity required me to charge no more than $X.xx for a service, but costs me nearly that much to perform that service, then I will either not provide it, or do as few as possible while I concentrate on profitable things.

I know it’s a stretch, but lets take their stated goal of insuring as many Americans as possible at face value.  Recently it was learned that on average, insurance companies operate at approximately 2% profit margin.  It seems to me that adding 30 million new customers (or 10 million, or 47 million, we can’t seem to get that number straight) would be a good thing.  But if the Government is going to legally restrict what can be charged for the services they provide, there is no incentive to provide that service.  Indeed, it would actually have the opposite effect, likely resulting in more uninsured than ever.

Of course, we all know this is all acedemic anyway.  We know the true goal is total control, and they will use any means and lies they need to get there.

UPDATE:  Allahpundit weighs in on this as well.

http://hotair.com/archives/2010/02/22/new-obamacare-bill-are-you-ready-for-price-controls-on-insurance-premiums/

Written by James Lee

February 22, 2010 at 10:16

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Hello world!

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Hello, and welcome to A Shot and A Beer.  This is a place for me to rant, rave, express my opinion, and be generally an outlet.

I am new to the blogging world, although I read many and comment on them as well.  I enjoy reading and debating politics, and I come from a conservative perspective.  As I am new to making my own, however, please bear with me as I learn the ins and outs of adding quotes, videos, photos, and links.

Feel free to comment, make suggestions, or explain to me how I am wrong.  I ask that any comments remain civil.  This is a discussion, after all, and we should all try to learn from each other.  Isn’t that what blogging is about?  In any case, I reserve the right to delete any comments I find inappropropiate.

Once again, welcome, and lets have some fun!

Written by James Lee

February 21, 2010 at 22:48

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Partisanship

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OK, here we go.  One always hears in the news about partisanship and how it’s so horrible.  Party line vote, Obstructionist, Party of “no”, etc.

Here’s the thing:  I WANT partisanship in Washingon.

When I help elect a person to a seat, be it through only my vote, or if I donate money, times, canvassing, whatever, I feel that person reflects my values as close as they can.  Most of the time, I actually vote FOR someone, rather than against the Other Guy.

The last thing I want is for that person that I invested time, money, or anything else in, is to compromise the principles that I elected them for.  There ARE stark differences in the parties, regardless of what Libertarians might want you to believe.

I come from a position of wanting smaller Government, less Washington interference in our daily lives.  All of those things mean less taxes, smaller programs.   If I help elect a Congressman to live to those ideals, the LAST thing I want them to do is compromise them away.

I understand that no candidate will ever be 100% what I want.  But when one campaigns, for example, on wanting to lower taxes 10% across the board, and then ‘compromises’ on letting the taxes rise by 5%, that is NOT what I think compromise is. 

Everyone, no matter who they are, has core principles on which they will not compromise.  Some things are negoitiable.  Core values are not.

What I want to see is the Republicans in Washington get a firm grasp on what we voters believe are the core principles, and act as partisan, obstructionist, or generally onery as all get-out in order to  defeat things I do not believe in.

In this light, the upcoming “Health Care Summit,” to be televised LIVE:  On CSPAN!, is nothing more than more Kabuki Theater.  The President, and his allies in Government such as Pelosi, Reid, and others, want more than their own souls Single Payer Health Care in this country.

Now, if you think Single Payer would be the greatest thing ever, and how THIS time it will be different than every other time it has been adapted in this world, then please let me know, and CONVINCE me I am wrong.  I want nothing to do with it right now.  And no matter what passes the House, or the Senate, or what wording they use, or how they name it, IT ALL LEADS TO SINGLE PAYER HEALTH CARE.  Public Option, Insurance Exchange, whatever you call it, it means the END of what we have now, at least eventually.

For this reason, I want my Senators, Congress-people, and other representatives to be as partisan as possible in slowing, stopping, and killing this sort of Freedom killing legislation from ever seeing the light of day.

Written by James Lee

February 21, 2010 at 21:20

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