Thursday, January 31, 2013

How Do You Like Lane Splitting?

Lane splitting is done by motorcycles when they ride on the dotted line between the lanes to overtake two vehicles that are driving side by side in two separate lanes. Southern Ontario is not a lane splitting place, probably the closest place where you can lane-split is California.  So I don't have a lot of experience with lane splitting, but I do remember being in California about 25 years ago, on a bike, and being in heavy freeway traffic I saw some motorcyclists pass me by lane splitting.  I was going to try the same thing, but as I gradually moved onto the white line, I narrowly missed being hit by another lane splitter who came from behind, at what I thought was a very high speed.  For the rest of my two days in California, I stuck to one lane.

Even in California, lane splitting is not completely accepted.  According to Wikipedia, less than 60% of car drivers in California think that lane splitting is legal.  Apparently, it is not fully protected in the highway code, and it is also not completely illegal.  It is tolerated by the police, but if a motorcyclist has an accident they don't have much legal protection.

Here are some of the problems I see with lane splitting.  Cars and trucks tend to move somewhat erratically from one side of their lane to another, and if the two vehicles on ether side of you randomly move closer to each other while you are trying to get between them, you may get trapped.  So lane splitting is more safely done when the traffic is stopped.  But many motorcyclists do lane splitting at high speeds, even above the speed limit in some cases, and even if the traffic is actually moving along quite well.

I could not begin to list all of the stupid things that some motorcyclists can do while lane splitting, but I know that not all the dumb moves are done by people driving cars.  But apparently there has never been a study done to prove that lane splitting is dangerous, and some studies seem to indicate that motorcyclists tend to get hit from the rear less while lane splitting. (common sense, really)

If I was to actually do some lane splitting, I would want to do it where it was legal, where all the car drivers knew about it, and where the lanes were a bit wider (like California). I would also want a different bike, with narrow handlebars (like 24" instead of my current 36" handlebars), and no saddlebags sticking out.  Hooking a car or truck with your handlebars is a sure way to lose control.

But getting back to Ontario, it seems Ontario has a culture of lining up.  Go to Tim Horton's and see what I mean.  Also, if there is a closed lane ten miles ahead, everybody lines up immediately and frowns at the occasional car that continues to drive in the "closed" lane.  I think of that as just about the complete opposite of lane splitting.  You have an entire legally marked lane there for ten miles until it is closed down by safety cones, but most people don't think you have the right to use it.

Lane splitting brings up all kinds of legal grey areas.  For example this next video features a motorist making an illegal lane change - because it is an HOV lane with a solid line where you are not allowed to change lanes until the line turns dotted.  But then is a motorcycle allowed to lane split on a solid line that cars are not allowed to cross?

Now from Cyril Huze motorcycle blog, three motorcyclists try to convince us that lane splitting should be allowed everywhere. I don't agree with everything they say, but one point in particular I think is wrong, and illustrates that maybe some of them slept through math class. A Toyota Prius does not get 0 mpg sitting in a traffic jam.   To get 0 mpg, you must be using some gas.  But a Prius has the engine turned off, and so mathematically you have zero divided by zero which is   "Undefined"

Picture: From this blog Motorcyclephilosophy.  Another thing I would not do while lane splitting is take pictures. But then I have a  handheld camera.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Technology Could Make Canada as Liveable as Arizona

We have just had a really cold few days in Canada. Actually, it was almost like what we used to call "winter". It's time for the "Lost Motorcyclist" (i.e. me) to reflect on how the winter affects us in Canada.

With effective interior heating, Canada has become a much more comfortable country to live in.  At least, I imagine it is, because I have never lived in a house without central heat in the winter - although we did have a coal fired furnace when I was young, it was still "central" heating, with a square heat duct coming up from the basement furnace room to a massive grate in the living room hallway.  But after it belched flames into our home a few times, my mother insisted on replacing with an oil burner.

The next step in fighting cold in the winter after houses, was making heated cars almost universal and clearing and salting all the roads. Back in the early fifties, apparently the province of Quebec did not bother clearing roads between towns.  I say apparently, because we didn't have any provincial roads coming into town anyway.  Or a car. Now, in the winter time most people either stay inside, or sit in their cars, or shop in indoor malls, and you hardly ever feel cold.  Except when shovelling snow - even then some snowblowers have heated cabins.  It is to the point where some people don't even throw on a coat or hat to get in the car and drive to Sarnia, which is why it was so dangerous a few years ago when the 402 was shut down by a blizzard and cars were stuck overnight.

But regardless of all this comfortable heat we surround ourselves with, Canadians still have a tremendous desire to get out of Canada in the winter.  I don't need to say we "go south", because logically, any direction out of Canada is south.  That's because Canada is where the north pole is located.  Yes, I know we go north to get into Detroit, but that's just a geographic anomaly.  But I digress.  Canadians like to go someplace warm in the winter, like Florida, Arizona or Mexico.  Actually any other country on Earth is warmer than Canada, I just don't have time to list them all.

Why do Canadians want to go someplace else in the winter, even though we are so comfortable in our houses, cars, and malls?  Because we miss the outdoors is why.  We like to stand (or more likely, sit) out in the sun, without literally freezing our asses off.  I often go south in the winter because I miss being able to ride my motorcycle here. From November to March, sometimes weeks go by without me getting out for a ride.

Which brings me to the news that technology is being developed which might make Canada's outdoors as warm as Florida in the winter, and I'm not talking about global warming. I'm talking about heated clothing. Just as houses and cars with internal thermostatically controlled heat have made Canada more comfortable in the winter, now your outdoor clothing can have its own heater and thermostat.  The temperature inside a garment (coat, gloves, socks) can be set to regulate itself. And some of the latest heated garments have wireless remote thermostat controls.  They can be located more conveniently than fumbling around inside your pants at 40 below zero.  Also, the controls can, if desired, regulate the heat on separate knobs for vest, gloves, pants, or socks.

Heated clothing no longer needs a wire tethered to a motorcycle battery.  More efficient heating elements and rechargeable lithium batteries have made it possible to have heated clothing with portable battery packs. Although to be honest I have not tried this cordless battery operated setup yet.  Check out this jacket at Mark's.

It's just one more technological step in making Canada a livable place in the winter, and not just a playgound for polar bears.

Picture: You don't need another picture of me in my electric vest.  Much better is a cat out for a walk in the winter, taken from this website.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Ezra Levant Mentioned in MacLean's Magazine

The only reason I read MacLean's is to distract me from the pain of a dentist visit.  So I was at the dentist .. again .. and the latest MacLean's was there, with an article about Ezra Levant. The perfect anesthetic before going to the dentist chair.

"Ezra Levant: Love him or hate him, he keeps winning" A profile of the right-wing gadfly who loves to offend by Jonathon Gatehouse on Saturday, January 12

I found one quote in the article particularly relevant, where Ezra Levant blamed the Jews for Canada's human rights laws and here it is:
"The people to blame for the “illiberal and un-Canadian” human rights laws and tribunals he’s been crusading against for the past seven years are well-represented in the theatre. 'It came from us. I mean the Jews, my friends.'"
Well well, apparently Ezra was asleep during History class, which is especially annoying to me, as an ex-History teacher.  So now I have to fill him in on what he missed.  Here goes.

It was just after WW2, when the Allies found concentration camps full of dead and starving Jews.  In the final tally, about 6 million Jews had been killed in what we called the "Holocaust".  The horrified allies tried to analyse what happened to result in this tragic outcome, and concluded at the time that it was years of anti-Jewish propaganda that had built to a fever pitch in the war, and had precipitated this great tragedy, and made it possible for it to happen.  I don't have the time or space to go into every cultural and sociological factor here, but that's what people in Canada, and the other allied countries generally thought back in the fifties.  So, because nobody wanted another world war, many things were done to try and avert the recurrence of such a situation.  Things like the establishment of the UN, the generous financial aid provided to the losers (Germany and Japan specifically), and the prevention of any further campaigns of propaganda against helpless minorities.  And this means not just Jews, but any minorities.  We did not want this to happen ever again, to anyone.  So every country tried to pass some kind of legislation to protect minorities from genocide, including Canada.  That's why we have the Canadian Human Rights Act.

So in a way, Ezra was right. It was because of the Jews that we have the Human Rights Act in Canada.  Ironically, he finds that it is very restrictive in his campaign to demonize Arabs in the way that Hitler demonized the Jews.  Well, sorry for your bad luck Ezra, but anyone who was awake during history class already knows that the Human rights stuff came about because of the Jews who died in the Holocaust, and was also supported after the war by Canadian Jews.

By the way, recent Right wing emails have tried to persuade us that it was not propaganda that enabled the holocaust.  The two main right wing theories regarding the origin of the holocaust are currently

It was gun control.  If the Jews had guns the holocaust would never have happened.  (FYI, France had guns, they surrendered.  Russia had guns, they lost 8 million people fighting the Nazi invasion, Britain had guns, they retreated to their island and got heavily bombed. The Jews in Warsaw had guns, but the Nazis simply leveled their ghetto with artillery and tanks.  I don't think this argument stands up to much scrutiny.)

It was Darwin's Theory of Evolution.  Apparently Hitler decided that Darwin's theory of evolution meant that he had to kill all the Jews before they became a new species or something.  Maybe I misunderstood that argument.  Anyhow it's quite weak, compared to the many hundreds of years of anti-Jewish religious hatred in Europe.  Here is a quote from Martin Luther, the German who started the protestant reformation. (not the black guy who was killed in the Civil Rights movement).

From Wikipedia

In 1543 Luther published On the Jews and Their Lies in which he says that the Jews are a "base, whoring people, that is, no people of God, and their boast of lineage, circumcision, and law must be accounted as filth."[13] They are full of the "devil's feces ... which they wallow in like swine."[14] The synagogue was a "defiled bride, yes, an incorrigible whore and an evil slut ..."[15] He argues that their synagogues and schools be set on fire, their prayer books destroyed, rabbis forbidden to preach, homes razed, and property and money confiscated. They should be shown no mercy or kindness,[16] afforded no legal protection,[17] and these "poisonous envenomed worms" should be drafted into forced labor or expelled for all time.[18] He also seems to advocate their murder, writing "[w]e are at fault in not slaying them".[19]

I don't think Charles Darwin said anything as bad as that.  Actually, some people think Darwin was a Jew.  That mistake has never been made with Luther. Or Hitler.

Putting a Winter Motorcycle Outfit Together

Among other outdoor winter activities, dressing for cold-weather motorcycling is most similar to snowmobiling. The greatest similarity is in the lack of body-warming physical activity, but even there, snowmobiling requires a bit more physical work than motorcycling. On a motorcycle, the wind chill factor is greater, also demands better insulated and windproof clothing.  And with a motorcycle, there is also a greater chance for a crash into something harder than snow, meaning the clothing has to be tougher as well as warmer.  And the clothing cannot be restrictive or bulky either, as the rider needs to control the bike, and get off from time to time for a break.

It takes experience to put together a complete, effective motorcycle outfit for cold weather.  You can find some winter motorcycle gear individually that promises cold weather comfort, but gloves and jacket are useless if there is air blowing up your arm through a gap near your wrist.  Same with pants and boots. Each item has to be good on its own, but it also has to play well with the other items in your outfit. Cold weather riding is not about a single product. It’s about the interaction of all the parts.

I am going to do a walkthrough of a complete cold weather outfit for motorcycling, explaining how all the different parts work together.

You can find step-by-step pictures of the oufit here:

Here is the starting point for my outfit - I have a bike equipped with a handlebar windshield and splash guards for the feet, and a heel and toe shifter (there is interaction with footwear).  My base layer is nothing special, just what I wear normally inside the house. (jeans, t-shirt, long sleeve sweatshirt etc.)  I also have a full face helmet and textile motorcycle jacket with thermal and waterproof liners.

Next is what I wear motorcycling only in the winter or when it's below 12c.

Boots: Altimate Black leather 9" lace-up, I need size 12 EE (1 size bigger than normal for me, to accommodate two layers of thick socks, as the boots themselves are not insulated). The boots have a good tread in case of snow on my driveway. The boot tops are high enough to fit under a pair of overpants without any gaps.

Gaiters: When it gets really cold, I can add these. (The gaiters in the link are kind of like my black ones, except for the camo colour)

Belstaff Overpants with knee armor, and nearly full length zippered legs. They go over my jeans and boot tops, with a velcro strap to tighten the cuff.  I can't find them on the internet, so they must be discontinued. The "First Gear HT Overpant" from Revzilla looks similar.  The back zipper probably will not match my Scorpion jacket, but the Belstaff overpants don't even have a zipper, and so I obviously don't think I need it.  The First Gear overpants actually seem better (more features, probably more expensive) than my Belstaff pants.

Heated Vest: +Venture 12v "Scooter" vest uses Far-Infrared carbon fiber heating pads. Connects with a wire to the motorcycle battery.  Has a four position heat setting to save electricity and reduce fiddling with the on-off switch

Mitts: FXR Leather Index, with a big gauntlet to keep you warm.  Classic full mittens are warmer than the three fingered type, but I usually don't need that much heat.  For the same insulation, the three fingered mitt is about half way between a glove and mitts in warmth.

Optional: Thin liner gloves ($18) can be removed and washed, and help keep the interior of gloves or mitts cleaner and warmer.

Anti-fog face mask: Usually, I just lift the face shield when stopped or open just a crack going slow.  But when it is really cold, or extreme humidity, I experiment with other solutions for fogging.  The latest is a mask that goes over the bridge of my nose, made out of construction worker dust mask with holes cut at the bottom.  These are also commercially available, and may even work better than mine.

The rest is my regular motorcycle gear that I can wear all year long, like earplugs, neck scarf, wallet holder, sunglasses etc.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Winter Handwear Fashions for Motorcycling

 You can get cold hands riding a motorcycle in the winter in Canada.  About 35 years ago I found out that ski mitts could keep my hands reasonably warm, but you can't feel the controls very well.  So now, after many years of trying different types of hand wear, I am going to summarize what works for me.

Mitts are very warm, in fact they do not really need to be that warm.  My warmest mitts can potentially make my hands sweat at -10c while riding my motorcycle on the freeway.  Actually there are a whole range of mitts and heavy duty gloves out there, and ideally you should be able to find a pair that provides the best "feel" without letting your hands get too cold.

The feel of a pair of mitts or heavy duty gloves depends on the thickness of the padding, and the stiffness of the outer layer.  Also, the construction of the mitten makes a difference.  Some are made of heavy leather, others of lighter cordura textile, and some are a combination of both.  The mitt should be the correct size for your hand, as extra length will make it even more clumsy and can get hung up on the underside of a lever that you want to grab.  Not good if that lever is the brake in an emergency.

Unfortunately, there is not a lot of discussion about motorcycling mitts. Actually I don't find many mitts specifically for motorcycling. Right now I have five pairs of mitts - these are all the mitts I have bought in the last 35 years.  My first two pairs were leather ski mitts, and I got them so long ago that I don't actually remember why I bought both of them.  About ten years ago I bought another pair of leather mitts because they were bigger and warmer than the other pairs, they had a bigger gauntlet to go over the sleeves of my heavy duty winter jacket, and they had a removable liner.  They are too warm for -10c.  They are also the clumsiest feeling mitts I have.

My warmest pair of gloves can only go down to about +2c. That leaves me with a gap of twelve degrees between my big mitts and my heavy duty gloves.  Last year I saw a pair of mitts that was a compromise between gloves and mitts. They are mitts but with the index finger separate.  At first, I hesitated abut buying these gloves because I assumed I would have a cold index finger and why do I want to get frostbite on one finger instead of all four?  But I saw a pair of these "3 fingered" mitts for only $20, so I figured why not try them out?

The three fingered mitts actually kept my hands warm while riding at 2c, and even at -5c they were not too cold.  I actually could not tell the difference between the temperature of my index finger and the rest, which I find strange and I can't really figure it out.  So the concept seemed to work for me, but there were problems with the cheap 3-fingered mitts that I bought. After each ride, the mitts felt damp inside, and they need to be held over a heating register for 48 hours to dry out.  And that's without any rain or splashing from the road.  It turns out that they had a non-breathable waterproof liner under the nylon outer shell which was trapping evaporated sweat from my hands.  The liner was not removable, and the mitts could not be turned inside out to dry them off.  They could not be turned inside out because the liners were 5-fingered, and the glove was 3-fingered, and the liners were attached to the inside of the glove.  I'm sure there is a branch of mathematics that can prove why they cannot be turned inside out.

The other problem my 3-fingered gloves had was that they were very lightweight, and would provide almost no protection in a crash.  But on the plus side, they did feel more like gloves than mittens, while being warmer than any gloves I had.

So I went on a search for some heavy-duty leather three-fingered mitts.  Unfortunately, the leather mitts are about $80 to $200. Locally, they are available for snowmobiling, but even then, they are not available everywhere.  I found one pair at Royal Distributing in Guelph, called the FXR Leather Index Mitt for $110.  There was another pair at Crazy Al's in London, that cost under $100.  These were the Choko Leather Claw mitts. The main differences were in the removable liner, flexible finger bellows, and the arrangement of fingers (2-2 instead of 1-3).  I chose the FXR mitts because they were closer (in Guelph), and I didn't feel like riding all the way to London just to see if they had a pair in stock that was my size.  Also, they had reflective piping, and cleaner overall styling (in my opinion).  I don't know where the Choko mitts are made, but the FXR's are made in Pakistan.

Before I wrap up this blog, I should mention that there are lots of other factors affecting the coldness of your hands.  Some people have colder hands than others.  Also, if your body temperature drops, your hands will get cold no matter how much heat you put on them.  So having an electric vest can help your hands stay warm too.  My motorcycle has a windshield that protects my hands a little, and some windshield fairings have extensions that deflect wind away from the hands.  Finally, some gloves have internal electric heat, and some motorcycles have heated handgrips.  I like electric heat, but it's not totally reliable, and so I only use an electric vest.  There are also chemical hand warmers that some people use.  I once had heated grips, which are nice, but can't make up entirely for inadequate gloves.  I also tried handlebar muffs, but they are a pain to get on and off, and need an internal frame to clear the levers, and it's hard to get your hand back on the bars if you take your hand off the bars at high speed.

Picture: The FXR Leather Index Mitt

Was the Jeep Move to China Really a Lie?

The Weekly Standard website ran this blog from Mark Hemingway titled "PolitiFact Concedes Their 'Lie of the Year' is the 'Literal Truth'"

So Politifacts awarded the "Lie of the Year" to the Republican ad saying that Jeep was moving its production to China.  Mark Hemingway points out that the so-called lie was actually the truth, because the wording of the ad was more like "the Obama administration played a hand in selling Chrysler to Italians, who are going to build Jeeps in China."

Politifacts concedes this:
"The Romney campaign was crafty with its word choice, so campaign aides could claim to be speaking the literal truth, but the ad left a false impression that all Jeep production was being moved to China."
My impression was that this ad, true or not, was trying to get people to vote Republican by showing Obama in a bad light.  And it backfired, not because it was a lie or because it was the truth, but simply because it made people realize that Obama had done a good thing.

First, this ad ran in Ohio, where they actually make Jeeps, and so people do real serious fact-checking on any statement about Chrysler moving to China.

Obama had a hand in selling Chrysler to the Italians.  However, anyone who knows the car business understands that Chrysler had previously been sold to Mercedes Benz (a German firm), which had nothing to do with Obama. And selling to Fiat (an Italian company) is not the same as selling to a Chinese firm that is moving production to China. Second, Chrysler declared bankruptcy, also not Obama's fault.  Chrysler (makers of Jeep) did get a financial bailout from Obama, and that was what most people in Ohio were thinking about when they saw the ad, so it's not surprising the ad backfired.  So thousands of jobs were saved by Obama, and this ad simply highlighted how out of touch the Republicans were with the car-making public of Ohio.

The second "fact" highlighted by the ad, trying to make Obama look bad was Jeep production moving to China. Admittedly the ad narrative didn't say jobs "moving" to China. (although the words "return to China"  appeared briefly in print)  It said "Jeeps would be built in China", possibly giving the impression that jobs would be moving.  Actually, this was a NEW assembly plant in the planning stages, that Chrysler had not yet announced publicly.  So Chrysler was forced to come out with a public statement that the plant was a new assembly facility to build Jeeps for the emerging Chinese market.  Was that bad news for the Ohio workers? No, it was actually good news.  Only a PR specialist with no knowledge of the car business would think it was bad news.  Let me explain why its good news (I am not a Chrysler worker, but I know people who have worked for car companies, and there are many car factories around here.)  So this is why it is good news to open a Jeep assembly plant in China. The assembly plant is often a way to open up a market to your cars, just as Japanese makers have opened assembly plants in Canada to sell their cars.  When a new market opens up with a new assembly plant, many components of that car are still made in the home factories.  And some jobs actually go to Americans who move to China to help supervise the construction and operation of the plant.  Also, being a new market, no jobs are lost at home.

Actually, setting up a plant in China could be good or bad, depending on how the deal is worded, and the conditions that are set by China. It could be very bad if the Chinese plant started exporting ultra-cheap Chinese Jeeps to the USA or other parts of the world.  It could be very good if the Chinese assembly plant opened up a huge new market in China for American built components in Chinese-assembled Jeeps.  But if this deal is the way things usually work, it's a good deal for Jeep and Chrysler.

In the final analysis, this ad backfired because it gave the impression that this deal was going to be bad for Ohio, where they make Jeeps, and it left Ohioans wondering if Romney and the rest of the Republicans cared about them at all.  Because Romney himself had misunderstood this point and said in a speech that "Jeep was moving to China".  If Romney himself misunderstood the issue, I'm not sure you can get away with the claim that "The ad was worded clearly enough that nobody could mistake it."

The basis of the ad was an incorrect news story from Bloomberg, saying that Fiat, which owns Chrysler, "plans to return Jeep output to China and may eventually make all of its models in the country."  The ad was careful to not make the same mistake. But by picking up this story without fact checking it, the Republican campaign further reinforced the negative perception that they wanted the car companies to fail, and were prepared to let them fail, while Obama had done something good by keeping them alive.

Ironically, the ad starts out "Who will do more for the car industry...?"  When the dust settled, and the points were clarified, the answer turned out to be Obama.

Quoting the ad:
"Obama took Chrysler into bankruptcy and sold it to the Italians, who are going to build Jeeps in China."  The key "fact" being left out is that Chrysler is back in business in the USA because of Obama's bailout that was vigorously opposed by the Republicans, including Romney.  Such an ad may work with voters who don't know much about the business, but it was stupid to run it in Ohio.

Then the printed false quote from Bloomberg was superimposed on the video of the ad in case you didn't see it, it came at 23 seconds in.  (Almost like subliminal messaging) But the ultimate lie was that Romney would do more for the car business than Obama.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Dutton Chronicles

Visiting my mother in Dutton, I came across an interesting article in the local paper, coincidentally named the Dutton Chronicle.
According to the article by Patrick Brennan, Lloyd Jarvis, an employee of the local water system was jailed for falsifying chlorine levels in Dutton's drinking water.
Up to now, my biggest story about Dutton was the biker slaughter a few years ago. Nobody died in this water quality incident, but back in the year 2000, seven people died in Walkerton, Ontario, from tainted water. It was such a big scandal, that it's hard to believe that another water works employee would be hard at work fudging chlorine records only a few years later in a different Ontario county.
I found the story online in the London Free Press, and the Toronto Star, by Googling Lloyd Jarvis Elgin. West Elgin is the area affected, and Lloyd is the person who was handed a fine and jail sentence on January 4, 2013.
Although nobody died in this case, you still have to wonder how it could happen in a place small enough that almost everyone knows everyone else and their brother.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Was Hitler Really A Gun Control Freak?

Last Sunday sitting at Tim Horton's a friend of mine stated that Hitler had taken guns away from the German people, the implication being that putting in gun controls in the USA would be a precursor to tyranny.  Although this statement was likely to come from dubious sources (like the NRA), I had to let it go, but remembered to look it up when I got home.  What I found was the exact opposite of the belief that Hitler was a leftist gun-control freak.

First, from Wikipedia, a bit of history around gun controls in Germany.

After Germany lost WW1 in 1918, it was the victorious allies that made it illegal for German citizens to own guns, not Hitler. Hitler had not yet appeared on the political scene, and would not have substantial power until at least ten years later.

In 1938, Hitler did pass a "gun control" law for the German people, but it was actually to ease off the original harsh disarmament after the occupation of WW1.  So Hitler actually made it easier for German people to own guns.  Surprisingly, Hitler's gun control law did not specifically exclude Jews from owning guns, although the law did exclude people of questionable trustworthiness, whatever that means to a Nazi.  And apparently many Nazis did think that Jews had questionable trustworthiness.  But Jews were a very small part of the German population, less than 600,000 in a population of 60 million.  Overall gun ownership in Germany went up under Hitler.

It kind of makes sense that Hitler supported increased gun ownership too, because this law helped the entire firearms industry, that the Nazis would be needing soon.  Because they could sell more guns, they could ramp up production easily for war.

Hitler did make some comments about disarming the people.  I got this from a right wing web site: "Hitler was a Leftist"

This is Hitler's statement.

"The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that the supply of arms to the underdogs is a sine qua non for the overthrow of any sovereignty. So let's not have any native militia or native police. German troops alone will bear the sole responsibility for the maintenance of law and order throughout the occupied Russian territories, and a system of military strong-points must be evolved to cover the entire occupied country." --Adolf Hitler, dinner talk on April 11, 1942,

I'm surprised that the quote seems to be intact, often it is found with the part about "in the occupied Russian Territories" left out.   But Hitler is quite right about disarming countries that you conquer.  He also disarmed the Dutch people after they surrendered in 1940. After WW2, the British, American, French and Russians also disarmed the Germans, as the Allies did after WW1. It is commonplace, and it does not make you a "leftist" or a "rightist" either.  Everybody seems to agree on disarming conquered people.

Here is another article on Gun control in Germany by William L. Pierce.

The most ironic thing about all this is that Hitler's main tool for gaining control of the German people was Propaganda, not Gun Control.  And this little story about Hitler being a gun control freak is basically modern right wing propaganda that many people seem to be falling for.  A strong democracy depends on an informed population.  Disinformation is the tool of tyrants, and far more powerful than gun control.  Hitler used propaganda to make Germans hate the Jews, just like right wingers today use propaganda to make people hate liberals, Muslims, socialists etc.  Once the hatred for Jews was accomplished, Hitler had full control of Germany.  The propaganda of hate is the real precursor to tyranny.

Picture: from

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Nero Fiddled, but Did He Pay His Taxes?

Recently I watched an argument on Fox news about whether the rich should pay more taxes. In the shouting match, several key points were raised.

Patriotic Millionaire Eric Schoenberg leaves Fox Business host Stuart Varney speechless at 3:51 of this video

Stuart Varney belongs to "Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength", and was facing a panel on Fox news.

To summarize the existing situation:  The USA is in a fiscal crisis with high debt levels, and President Obama has noted that during the last 50 or so years, tax rates have declined, especially on the rich.  Obama campaigned on the argument that the rich should pay their fair share of taxes.

On the other side of the coin, the rich (represented by Fox News), argue that "it is not a sin to make money" and "making the rich pay will not solve America's debt crisis", and "Jobs are created by the rich, but not if they are taxed too much".

One point that was raised on this program happened when the host Stuart Varney told Eric that if he wanted to pay more taxes, to take out his chequebook and make a payment to the USA government.  And let the other rich people keep their hard earned money.  Stuart explained first, that taxes are not a charitable contribution where you pay whatever you want.  And secondly, if people did pay taxes voluntarily, then those who refuse to pay should not get free government services.  Eric mentioned a list of services including police protection, fire protection, and good roads.

When he brought up the subject of fire protection, one of the Fox Panel jumped in with the fact that there are more fires in slums where people don't even pay taxes.  Apparently rich people's houses don't burn down as frequently, and so do not use up resources from the fire department.  Logically I guess that means that poor people living in slums should pay more for fire services etc.

But wait a minute here.  I am not aware of any study that has determined that poor people living in slums use up more of the government services than rich people. (I'm not talking just about fire services, but police services too.  And roads and infrastructure such as drainage, water, electricity.)  I think it's the opposite, with rich neighbourhoods getting the best support.  I'm not arguing that that is right or wrong, but I cannot tolerate pure bullsh*t that says fire department funding goes mainly to slum dwellers.

Let's get into fire protection, then.  One of the hardest fires to fight, and the most dangerous, are forest fires that can ravage wealthy neighbourhoods as easily as the slums. Wealthy people have a tendency to place their homes in open forested areas, where they are very hard to protect from forest fires.  Poor people cannot afford these expensive home sites because of the cost of land.

A little research on the internet comes up with these facts.

Richard Branson's "cottage" burns to the ground. (Richard Branson is rich)

Firefighter lured to their deaths in ambush. This did not take place in a slum, but I'm guessing the gunman was not a millionaire either.  On the other hand, he could easily have been a Fox News watcher.  And Fox does support making guns more available.

The Cerro Grande fire, New Mexico, 2000.  400 homes lost.  Also, the Los Alamos National Laboratory was damaged, which brings up the situation where fire fighters are fighting to save Government infrastructure, not just the private dwellings of taxpayers.

Historically, inner city fires are a boon for the very rich, as slums can be cleared more easily when they are in smoking ruins, and somebody has to redevelop the now-valuable property.  Check out this story about Rome under Emperor Nero.

Picture: Detroit home target for fire.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Getting New Boots at the 2013 International Motorcycle Super Show

The January 2013 International Motorcycle Super Show started today at the International Centre on Airport Road in Toronto.  I went down alone so that I could do some intense shopping.  I was looking for winter motorcycle boots, but actually nobody seems to make "Winter" boots.  All I really needed were boots that met my requirements for cold weather riding.  They had to have a non-slip sole, in case I plant a foot on ice or snow while pushing the bike near my house.  Also, I wanted something made of leather for protection, with maybe some built in ankle armour like typical motorcycle boots.  If they were not already lined with insulation, I needed some extra room inside for layers of thick socks.  And I also like a padded insole.  I need boots that are at least 8 inches high (from the top of the sole), so that there will be no bare leg exposed between my pant cuffs and the boot tops while riding (very important).  Also, I want the boot tops narrow enough that my jeans can fit over them. And of course, I would like to be able to walk moderate distances without them falling apart or causing blisters.

I avoid riding in rain in the winter, so the boots don't have to be waterproof, and anyway, I can apply Nikwax to the exterior, and wear Goretex socks if I need to.   My final criteria include NO high heels (like cowboy boots), no platform soles, or weird graphics, dangly bits, or colours (I don't mind tan, brown, or black).  And the very last thing, I need to be able to get them on and off without the help of a batboy or a footman.

So, after all that you may think I am very fussy and I might have to pay a lot for these boots, but actually you can get military surplus boots that could work for only about $25 slightly used, so I was hoping to find what I wanted for about $100 at the show.

I have been to the show many times in the last thirty years, but now it occupies all five halls of the International Centre, and that is really too big for me to comprehend any more.  Because of the confusing layout of the halls, and without a map of the show, I kept getting turned around. I was almost ready to start laying a trail of M&M's behind me so I could find my way out or at least find my way back to the place with the best boots.  I stopped at two places to try on boots before I found the huge zone reserved for "GP Bikes" of Whitby.  They had a good selection of boots, and I was drawn to one style from Altimate for $99.  The box says "Canadian Style", but the Internet says the boots are actually "Cruiser Style" in other countries.  I was already prepared, wearing a pair of bush socks over my thick hiking socks, so I tried the boots on.  The boots are EE width, according to the Internet, which suits my heavily socked feet.

I bought the Altimate Cruiser boots, and as I was walking around carrying the boots in a bag, plus all my other free show goodies, I realized how heavy they were, so decided to leave them in my car while I continued exploring.  Looking for an exit, I started seeing more and more boots for sale that I hadn't noticed before.  One booth had a sign "All motorcycle boots for $50 (sizes in stock)".  Another booth actually specialized in quality leather boots.  (Westway or Westwood I think).  I started avoiding looking at any more exhibitors with boots, because I can't handle the second-guessing after I made my decision.

After storing the boots in the car, I spent another two hours walking around the show just looking at bikes, and watching people checking out new bikes or new gear.  It's fun for me, but boring for Mary Ann, so she usually stays home, and anyway she was sick with a cold.  When I got home she went through my bag of stuff and considered herself lucky that I only got a pair of (cheap) boots.

Pictures: from the Altimate web site