Compleat Idler, Economy, Preparedness, Tool user

Tool review – Leatherman Rebar

 

© 2014 Earl L. Haehl: Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

I first wrote this a couple months back, like within a couple weeks of purchase—I am a skilled tool user and I did a quick overview. This was probably a bad idea. It is a mistake that a lot of the internet folks make when they are dazzled by a new toy. The other mistake they make is devising a test without thinking about what they are likely to do. Daily use for a couple months is the best field test I have seen.

Realize that I do not have a “testing regimen” for my tools. I use them the way I tend to use them and evaluate the results—I am a writer, not Consumer Reports®. If paid, I would develop a regimen and test gear, but I am not.

It is almost 30 years since I got the first Leatherman. It was 14 months since my Super Tool 300 had gone missing, the result of carrying it in an unsecured vest pocket rather than a pouch fastened to my belt. I do not know which is the longer term because being without the tool that has been an extension of one’s being amplifies the need for it. I was carrying, for the last six months my old Victorinox Hunter—it is not the same. The Swiss knife says you are the kind of person who drives a BMW and listens to NPR. People view you as civilized and your opinions are expected to be erudite and progressive.

I generally listen to AM radio and drive a pickup that was built in the last century—I am civilized and can speak with some erudition but I have more use in my daily comings and goings for needle-nosed pliers and Phillips head screwdrivers than a corkscrew and my Leatherman CS tool has better scissors and lifts beer caps. Even with the complete tool box on the truck bed the multi-tool is so much more convenient. I was at odd ends and awake about midnight when I ordered a black stainless Leatherman Rebar. It arrived by either UPS or Fedex early in the afternoon a couple days later. (Note: Staples has good delivery.) NOTE: While midnight to 0230 may be good for writing, it may not be good for the Visa bill.

Now to the tool in question. It is slightly lighter than the old Super Tool 300 which was new thing when I bought it a couple years back. I do not see this as a disadvantage because I can still use it to tap in tacks. It reminds me of the original Leatherman Tool that Tom built after a trip to Europe and marketed through Cabelas. In 84 or 85 I got one as a present and have had one on my hip since.

There are two features that are improvements on the Rebar over the original. The blades lock. And the wire cutters can be replaced. I feel my reputation for breaking wire cutters may have gotten back to the manufacturers as this feature is found on the newer Leatherman and Gerber multi-tools—my son said he could tell which were his by looking at the unbroken wire cutter.

It might be helpful if it would carry the trash, but that is not part of its job description. It does its job and has a good price point and is built rugged—like my old truck. After a couple months I feel I have worked out the stiffness and bugs—the tool is what it is, not some ideal of perfection that everyone is looking for. When I was daily using the knife blades to cut boxes and wood I appreciated the Wave which let me access the blades without opening the pliers. Now, I have more time so that option is not as important.

It did take awhile for the tool to loosen up to the point where I could easily work the functions. I do not recall the break in time as being that long on previous tools, but I am older and slower now and still only six months or so out from a fusion. It seems to be working better. If you are looking for bells and whistles, get the Wave or the Surge.

 

 

Standard
Citizenship, Economy, Free Society

We fought a war for these freedoms

© 2014 Earl L. Haehl: Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

In 1743, Sam Adams and James Otis, Jr, were admitted to the degree of Master of Arts with Honours by Harvard College. These two gentlemen were both allies and rivals over the next few years and the intellectual fathers of the American Revolution in Massachusetts Bay colony.

James Otis, Jr, was appointed advocate general of the vice admiralty court in Boston where he was an advocate enforcing the onerous Acts of Trade of 1751. As the residents of Massachusetts Bay sought extra-legal relief (Messrs John Hancock and Sam Adams being involved in such activity) Parliament came up with the use of “General Warrants” which allowed the Kings officers to search what they chose, when they chose and where they chose without specifics.

In 1761, partly because Gov Bernard appointed Thomas Hutchinson rather than James Otis, Sr, as Chief Justice, the younger Otis resigned his position as advocate general and took up the cause of the merchants of Massachusetts Bay. He did this pro bono or without fee.

His five hour argument in February of 1761, included the following:

A man’s house is his castle; and whilst he is quiet, he is as well guarded as a prince in his castle. This writ, if it should be declared legal, would totally annihilate this privilege. Custom-house officers may enter our houses when they please; we are commanded to permit their entry. Their menial servants may enter, may break locks, bars, and everything in their way; and whether they break through malice or revenge, no man, no court may inquire.

Does this sound familiar? Does the justification of NSA surveillance by such “defenders of our freedom” as Rep Peter King (R-NY) ring familiar?

James Otis, Jr, had begun his argument with the following.

I was desired by one of the court to look into the (law) books, and consider the question now before them concerning Writs of Assistance. I have accordingly considered it, and now appear not only in obedience to your order, but likewise in behalf of the inhabitants of this town, who have presented another petition, and out of regard to the liberties of the subject. And I take this opportunity to declare that whether under a fee or not (for in such a cause as this I despise a fee) I will to my dying day oppose, with all the powers and faculties God has given me, all such instruments of slavery on the one hand and villainy on the other, as this Writ of Assistance is.

John Adams, Sam’s more conciliatory cousin who had doubts about independence characterized this as the first act of resistance. It was the first action in an intellectual war of small actions which culminated in the shots fired at Lexington Green on 19 April 1775.

The court, presided over by the corrupt Thomas Hutchinson, rejected the argument. But the speech was amplified and published over the years. In December of 1773 Hutchinson was to be the recipient of a shipment of tea that would be forfeit to his warehouse on 17 December of that year. James Otis, Jr’s classmate Sam organized a costume party (it took place on Beethoven’s third birthday) that result in the tea being tossed into the harbor so it could not be unloaded.

Through the assistance of the anti-federalist movement which in the newly free and independent Commonwealth of Massachusetts included Sam Adams and the sister of James Otis, Jr, Mercy Otis Warren, ten amendments restricting governmental powers were adopted and ratified. These included the Fourth Amendment which reads:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

After “9/11” supposedly changed “our democracy forever” the United States passed the USAPATRIOT Act which greatly expanded the powers of the US Department of Justice, the NSA (LBJ’s Secret Police) and government in general—we now have a Transportation Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security with seemingly unlimited powers. (I could posit that the events of 11 September 2001 did not substantially change the risk level for the United States but only the fear level.)

This legislation is not “the law of the land” in that it is passed, not pursuant to the powers granted in the body of the Constitution and contrary to the limits on federal power bluntly stated in the fourth article amending that Constitution. In other words, the argument is that an emergency grants extraordinary powers to ignore the basics of governing in a free society. In the 1688 Bill of Rights, the British Parliament objected to standing armies in time of peace—and since 1688 every monarch has assured military adventurism as a means to keeping standing armies. In 1798 John Adams wanted emergency powers because he had a gotten into a shooting conflict with France—his successor refused to enforce those powers. Since 1914 the United States has been in conflict with one or more foes—only twice, 1917 and 1941, have there been formal declarations of war although Bill Fulbright posited that the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution might be so considered.

The advantage to the powers that be of “emergencies” is that the electorate, with a dire threat from the outside, is willing to forgo freedoms in the belief that such willingness will diminish the threat. Ergo, since Muslim extremists were capable of flying a couple planes into buildings we are under threat—although we currently have no enemies with industrial capabilities, having reached a rapprochement with Red China and having caused the downfall of the Soviet Union through a massive spending war. However, we have a “Global War on Terror” as a result of G.W. Bush acting like John Adams on steroids and Barack Obama not being Thomas Jefferson in any sense.

Going back to the Fourth Amendment, James Otis, Jr, began a revolution of thought. As the kernel of the idea grew, it was added to and built up pressure. By April of 1775, the American Revolution was over—what lay ahead was a War for Independence. Yes, for these ideas and freedoms we went to war, not to give power over to a government that took crises as a rationale for going back to a time before it all happened and back to a government that made Leviathan look like a gila monster.

 

Standard
Citizenship, Economy

It started with Hoover(?)

© 2013 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

Herbert Hoover was an engineer and a manager. Never before or since has that combination sat in the Oval Office. Hoover liked the idea of a coherent executive budget instead of each agency or faction lobbying for their own turf. In theory this makes good sense—a President with managerial expertise looks over the entirety of the Executive Branch and makes sure everything necessary is covered within the means (funding) provided by the available revenues. It only makes sense—or to use the most misused term in political debate common sense.

A note here. My favorite line from Common Sense, a hot headed tract by Thomas Paine under the pseudonym, An Englishman, begins, “Government at its best is a necessary evil….”

Mr Hoover liked the idea of controlling the elements of the country. As Secretary of Commerce he seized control of the airways with the assistance of Congress and the help of an outlandish broadcaster named John R Brinkley. The Federal Radio Commission (now the FCC) was created at the request of the broadcasters to be less arbitrary than the Secretary of Commerce. Hoover also appointed himself assistant secretary for interference in all other departments. He expanded regulation after the Federal Reserve tanked the Stock Market in 1929, which weakened the economy. He did, however, veto the Smoot-Hawley Tariff which was the proximate cause of the 1931 recession—it was passed over his veto.

Hoover’s successor Franklin D Roosevelt turned his economic relief over to Frances Perkins, Hugh Johnson and other progressives who based their solutions on Woodrow Wilson’s war mobilization tactics and the writings of Max Weber and Benito Mussolini. So instead of attacking the regulations that had caused the downturn and returning to sound money as promised (Barry Goldwater said he could have run on FDR’s 1932 platform) we got the New Deal. The New Deal expanded the scope and powers of the Department of Labor (Perkins’ empire) and began the entitlement state through social security which was designed to get older workers out of the workforce.

With the growth of entitlements under Lyndon Johnson and later presidents the national budget became one in which borrowing became necessary to cover the newly essential functions of government in addition to wars and military adventurism. The Johnson through Carter Administrations vastly expanded the role of the federal government in welfare, medical care, education and public safety/emergency management to the point that states and localities are dependent on federal funds—as an aside, the general taxation authority the feds got in 1913 has increased to the point that the states are limited in what they can tax.

Congress decided in 1917 to limit the Treasury’s borrowing authority. This was in response to Wilson’s public entry into World War I—he already had troops occupying much of Mexico where he intervened in the civil wars as well as many areas of Central America and the Caribbean where United Fruit had interests. Domestic affairs did not generally require borrowing before the second world war.

Increasing the borrowing limit may be necessary for a short term obligation but if it becomes necessary to fund the essentials of government then it is a long term problem and the answer has to be to cut spending, cut programs, cut the interference which depresses the economy. Ultimately we will have to stop borrowing and start paying down or most assuredly we will default. On the other hand, the entitlement spending has become a third rail in politics—DO NOT TOUCH. Neither the rock nor the hard place is safe.

So we will continue to have shutdowns, gridlock and dissension. All are culpable.

Standard
Citizenship, Economy, Free Society

Immigration — protection or protectionism

(c) 2013 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

If you are committed to populist and progressive myths about protecting jobs through immigration laws you do not need to read further. If, like my wife, you believe that the United States government has “inherent” powers to control immigration, I recommend reading Solburg, Winton L, ed., The Constitutional Convention and the Formation of the Union, second edition.

Let’s start with the Constitution. Article I, Section 8, defines the powers of Congress. Paragraph 4 says, “To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;” This deals with uniformity of laws and deals with the issue of naturalization, not immigration.

The only paragraph that mentions migration is Article 1, Section 9, Paragraph 1 which reads, “The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.” This was a reference to the slave trade and the migration of indentured servants. It expired in 1808 and the slave trade was abolished. This was a compromise to keep Georgia and South Carolina in the Compact—George Mason proposed immediate elimination of the slave trade and elimination of slavery by 1800. In no way does this paragraph provide for regulation of voluntary immigration.

Article XIV of Amendment begins, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

So the Constitution does not give a whole lot of guidance. And the early laws did not deal with immigration. Even John Adams, the founding godfather of the progressive movement, did not get Congress to restrict immigration from France in 1898, but rather to require an extended residency period for naturalization.

During the 1840s a number of nativist groups emerged and advocated controlling immigration and deporting aliens. In the late 1860s it turned out that the aliens—specifically Irish and Chinese turned out to be necessary to the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad. Abraham Lincoln and Grenville Dodge had ignored the War Department’s surveys and drawn a line on a map. To execute the Western third of that line required disciplined workers who could be careful with explosives and reliable. These were the Chinese, whom the Anglo-Californians were trying to get rid of.

In 1875 that the first limitation on immigration was passed (the Page Act). Employers were prohibited from importation of “coolie labor” and Chinese sex workers. In 1882 came the Chinese Exclusion Act. It should be noted that both the 1875 and 1882 Acts violated the Burlingame Treaty of 1868 which was renegotiated in 1880.

The current quota based immigration system dates back only to 1921—more than 130 years after ratification of the Constitution. The latest intrusion is the REAL ID Act, a federal mandate on state issuance of identification justified by the so-called “war on terror.”

The progressive movement (and this includes the neo-conservatives and populists currently posing as conservatives) believes in government expansion by crisis. The attack on the World Trade Center in 2001 was not the ultimate attack on the United States. The REAL ID Act was an advance of central control, nothing more nor less.

The anti-immigration movement (including such national figures as Tom Tancredo and Kris Kobach) is nothing more than economic protectionism dressed up as patriotism—see Dr Johnson’s Dictionary. It is not conservative any more than was the Know Nothing party before the conflict of 1861. Economic protectionism, as many know, was the cause of the 1931 recession that was rebranded the Great Depression for political purposes. Ultimately, immigration has generally been positive although the folks who came in through Ellis Island and were socialized in the New York public schools and their descendants have contributed to the dependency culture—we need some hard-working Mexicans to change this.

 

Standard
Compleat Idler, Economy, Humor, Technology

Short commentary

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

Susan Rice withdrew from consideration for Secretary of State. No, this will not end the Benghazi debate—it was not the messenger but the message. Obama wanted his narrative.

Obama to meet with Boehner. A headline something like Fighting Intense Near Verdun in 1915 and 16 and 17 and 18. Look for something that kicks the can down the road a year or two.

Michigan passes “right to work.” Do not be surprised by repeal in a couple years.

Obama supports “secular” opposition in Syrian. Of course they can fit in one phone booth. Jordan is next.

Kansas Governor merges adult and juvenile corrections. This is an extremely bad idea which has been around since the early eighties—at least.

Lindsay Lohan is down to one story in today’s Mail—apparently she is impoverished. You might think that playing Elizabeth Taylor might lead her to Paris’s brother Conrad.

There are petitions on the White House website for secession. The state legislators who actually pass secession resolutions are not about to give up their entitlements and funding for their projects by doing so.

Meanwhile there are also petitions to nationalize Twinkies and build a Death Star—the latter being touted as a “jobs engine” on the scale of NASA. I do not see private capital coming forward to finance even part of such a project.

There are some private capital bids for some Hostess trademarks and recipes (take sugar, add high fructose corn syrup, throw in artificial flavors and colors, pump air into the center, throw on some more sugar). Meanwhile, Little Debbie sits there luring customers with her innocent smile—plus sugar, high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors and colors, sugar frosting, powdered sugar.

There may be something to this petition site. It helps identify the clueless.

The MailOnline reports a decline in the Samurai Caste during the Edo period because of lead poisoning in the make-up they wore. My brother sent me the more nuanced report from MSNBC. As an historical note, in the 1860s the District of Columbia installed new lead water pipes to prevent sabotage of the system. Solutions cause problems.

 

 

Standard
Economy

Unemployment drops – Are you impressed?

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

So the unemployment rate dropped below 8 percent. October surprise? We will not know whether this is a sign of recovery for another six to twelve months. This is, of course, a figure that both parties will spend time spinning this figure. (How many campaign spinners will be out of work on 7Nov?) But how much does the figure really mean.

The unemployment rate is based on the number of individuals in the Civilian Work Force unemployed as opposed the total number of persons in the Civilian Work Force. This latter figure is the number of persons ages 16 through 64 minus undocumented aliens, military and naval personnel, the incarcerated, full time students, those committed to mental institutions, those working part time, the disabled (under SS guidelines), those who have ceased seeking employment and those whose unemployment benefits have expired.

I have heard estimates that the “actual” unemployment rate stands anywhere from 11 to 28 percent. Without actual figures there is no way to state an actual percentage and the Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers are, however flawed, what we have to work with. The interesting thing is that both the right and left actually defend or attack BLS depending on who is in office. I have been told by Republicans that 4.9 percent figure was actually too high because it ignored those on unemployment who were “scamming” the system. I was also told by members of the other party that the same figure is too low because it ignores “underemployment.”

Sorry. I know there are scammers. They show up for interviews and get their card stamped, but deliberately offend the hiring authority and get another week by showing that they were “looking.” Near the end of their eligibility they obtain employment which they keep long enough to have worked in two quarters and then be discharged for less than competent work. The number of these folks is not large but they do exist. They will take advantage of any system—the system just needs to figure them out.

Sorry. I do not buy the “underemployment” argument any more than I buy the “overqualified” argument in denying someone employment.

So we are dealing with the numbers BLS uses. But what, statistically, is the difference between 7.8 percent and 8.2 percent? In terms of who is work and who is not, you have to look at factors of economic activity as well. Are factory orders increasing? Is output increasing?

Does the American manufacturing sector show an increase or are these jobs based on the fluctuation of the retail system or the increase of freelance companies wherein the self employed have decided to go it without the capital base they need because there are no other options? And if so, how much of this is going to last? I had a discussion with my late father-in-law back in the late 80s about the surge of service sector jobs without an agricultural or manufacturing base to support them.

Right now, through the Quantitative Easing, the Fed is creating money without wealth. The created money will possibly create some employment in the financial sector—until the next bubble bursts. Without real wealth creation, reduction of unemployment is temporary at best.

To butcher a saying from Abraham Lincoln, “You cannot fool all the people all the time, but you can possibly fool a plurality through election day.”

Standard