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TSA: Taking American Rights and Lives So Terrorists Don't have To.

The Nutcracker at The Civic

We support Ron Paul for President 2012.  

I think the founding fathers would be very disappointed in what has become of the American government and its leaders; we now have a corrupt empire that largely ignores its own constitution and tramples on individuals' liberties.  The founding fathers would like Ron Paul, however.  Congressman Paul consistently votes no on issues that are unconstitutional. If elected Ron Paul will end our wars, close our hundreds of military bases across the globe and end our unsustainable, financially irresponsible empire.  Ron Paul has more support from US troops than all other presidential candidates combined!  Dr. Paul is critical of government corruption and believes in protecting whistleblowers.  As a congressman, Paul does not participate in the congressional pension, has never voted to raise congressional pay and as President he would draw a salary of just $39,336, which is the median salary of the American worker.  Paul believes the War on Drugs is not working, is a waste of money, and violates citizen's personal freedoms.  Congressman Paul has never voted for: raising taxes, an unbalanced budget, a federal restriction on gun ownership or an increase in the power of the executive branch.  Paul is the only presidential candidate proposing a viable balanced budget.  He voted against: the Patriot Act, the TARP bailouts, regulating the Internet and the Iraq war.  Search YouTube for " Ron Paul predicts " to see how Paul has predicted many of our current major problems and crises years or decades before they happened.  Please do not waste your vote on the status-quo; elect Ron Paul for US President in 2012.  - David & Joan Hall


The Nutcracker at The Civic

11-28-2010 ~ Blog #355 ~ David.

We went to see The Nutcracker at The Civic Theater in Akron today; it was awesome.




The dark line in the ceiling above shows where 2001 restoration work stopped on this 1929 theater.















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TSA: Taking American Rights and Lives So Terrorists Don't have To.

11-26-2010 ~ Blog #354 ~ David.


   The terrorist are winning, and TSA is helping them.   We had been planning on visiting Alaska this summer; but thanks to the TSA trumping the Constitution, I seriously doubt that will happen.  Americans are guaranteed the right to travel freely between states and unreasonable searches and seizures are prohibited, yet somehow, someone gave the TSA the authority to scan detailed images of our bodies and expose us to quite possibly dangerous levels of radiation.  The groping alternative is not much better.  TSA backscatter scans and gropings are not legal, make Americans LESS safe, are part of a "security theater" and are unconstitutional. 


   Recently a body image scanner operator at DIA was caught masturbating to scanner images as a high school girls team passed through the backscatter machine.  I seriously question the legality behind our government taking essentially nude photos of children; individuals go to jail and become registered sexual offenders for doing the same thing.  This is a very touchy subject; scores of people have been jailed for possessing child porn on their phones and computers even though if they were acquired unintentionally.  If I allowed anyone else to take nude photos of my daughters I also could be convicted of being an accessory to that crime and would likely lose custody of my children.  We are given a choice to opt out of the body scanners where we will receive an "enhanced pat down" that includes touching the genital and breast areas.  Other than medical visits and emergencies, as a parent, I cannot imagine any scenario where I would condone such touching.  Again, I question the legality of this and as a parent I cannot allow it.  Opting out of groping may result with a threat of an $11,000 fine.  Technically, it has become illegal to fly with children in the United States.  I'm afraid that if we did decide to fly to Alaska this summer I would possibly end up in a standoff or argument against the TSA; I'm not going to let them take nude photos of my children or grope them.  We'd possibly miss our flight and I'd possibly end up in jail. 


   This blog post by Jason Bell, a molecular biologist and biophysicist, explains how how the levels of radiation that the new backscatter machines put out are no where near as safe as TSA claims.  Among the most serious problems are TSA's math which shows a 1,000 fold unit conversion error (as pointed out by other scientists); the machines may be currently be running at dangerous levels.  Somehow the safety precautions that cover foods, devices, etc. have been swiftly swept aside to help make us safe from terrorists.  Some people will eventually die from this radiation, as some die from medical X-rays.  Medical X-rays, however, help eliminate far greater risks; statistically they are a good bet.  For every life lost to medical X-ray exposure turned cancerous, dozens, hundreds or thousands are saved by conditions that medical X-rays reveal.  If TSA's radiation claims are correct, we can expect 32 radiation deaths a year, globally Another blogger calculated that both numbers (likelihood of death due to terrorists or X-rays) are very small.  If the TSA is not finding bombers by the scores, however, I question exposing millions of Americans to levels of radiation that have not truly been confirmed to be safe.  The Allied Pilots Association recommends all pilots opt out of the backscatter machines.


   The main place that TSA is killing us is on our highways.  Air travel is much, much safer than travel by car.  According to a study at Cornell University way back in 2002, "...roughly 130 inconvenienced travelers died every three months as a result of additional traffic fatalities brought on by substituting ground transit for air transit." I think things have become much more inconvenient than they were in 2002 and there is certainly more public outcry over TSA upping their game with the backscatter radar scanners and "enhanced pat downs".  Even if TSA does find and stop one bomber this holiday season, many more than a planeload of people will die in auto accidents because they chose to drive instead of being groped or scanned by the TSA. 


   Here's another way TSA may be killing us: "Doctors warn of spread of communicable diseases through direct contact with skin; poses far greater risk to public health than statistical chance of being a victim of terrorism."  The rubber gloves that TSA agents wear is for their protection, not ours.  They do not regularly change them even after they reach into one person's underwear.


   Historically, we have been reactionary about air travel safety.  After hijackers brought guns onboard airliners, we react by installing metal detectors.  The luggage bomb that took down Pan Am flight 103 near Lockerbie, Scotland resulted with rules that baggage belonging passengers who do not actually board planes must be removed.  Then there was 911; we reacted to that with numerous measures including the creation of The Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration.  Because of the shoe bomber we now remove our shoes when we go through airport security.  Liquid bombs resulted in a ban on liquids.  We reacted to the underwear bomber with backscatter radar and enhanced pat downs.  For decades people have been smuggling drugs on aircraft in their bodies in sealed containers.  As we make it more difficult to bring bombs on planes, it's only a matter of time before bombers do the same.  When the "colon bomber" finally strikes, how will we react?  Look at the pattern.  I'm all for air travel safety, but obviously we cannot have TSA give complete cavity searches of all aircraft passengers.  Cavity searches would be unacceptably dangerous and invasive.  We must accept some level of risk when it comes to air travel because absolute safety is impossible!  All this and it's questionable how effective the backscatter scanners are finding bombs.


   Perhaps the most enlightening post I've read on the TSA controversy is by Mike Masnick, TSA's Failure Based On The Myth Of Perfect Security.  Masnick refers to the thoughts of James Fallows and Julian Sanchez who say that politicians and TSA masterminds want perfect security, but this is impossible because there are so many ways to hijack or destroy and airplane.  We take many risks every day in everything we do.  In a "security theater" politicians and TSA masterminds who push for more and more security measures keep their jobs when catastrophe happens and they get to say, "See, I told you so!"  Those who push for a balance between reasonable risks versus costs in: money, time, convenience and constitutional rights are blamed when catastrophe happens; their jobs are in jepordy.  If you are a politician, I recommend pushing for those mandatory TSA cavity searches now.  If the colon bomber strikes during an election year, you are set and can say, "I told you so!"  In another blog post, Masnick points out that the CEO of Rapeiscan, the company that makes the backscatter scanners, recently traveled to Mumbia with President Obama.  Afterward, Obama defended the new scanners and pat down procedures.


   TSA policies lack logic and foresight; again everything they do is reactionary.  Any airline pilot could intentionally crash his or her airliner on any flight, but TSA confiscates their fingernail clippers because they "could be used as a weapon".  Soldiers returning from the Middle East also have had their fingernail clippers confiscated by TSA even though they are carrying their service pistols, rifles and machine guns.  Even without ammunition, I think soldiers would choose their rifles as a weapon over fingernail clippers.  For years it has been pointed out that airport: "...cargo loaders, baggage handlers, fuelers, cabin cleaners, caterers -- can, as a matter of routine, bypass TSA inspection entirely."  For some reason, TSA trusts these 1,000,000 workers more than they trust the pilots who already have more destructive power in their hands than any terrorist.  I'm guessing that it's only a matter of time before one of these workers is involved in a bombing or hijacking, and then TSA will react with a new policy.  How did TSA react to National Opt Out Day?  Days before they responded by asking people to not opt out on NOOD because it would congest airports and disrupt air travel on the busiest travel day of the year.  They completely missed the point of National Opt Out Day.  When the day came, they turned the backscatter machines off.  People didn't opt out because they weren't required to pass through the nudie-cancer scans in the first place.  TSA was willing to trade our supposed security for a security theater position.  The media ate it up when they were told National Opt Out Day was a bust, lines were short and people didn't opt out.  Other websites and news agencies reported what many aware travelers were reporting; the backscatter machines were turned off nationwide.  The focus on passengers carrying bombs and weapons on their persons reminds me of many "gun nuts" I've run across in my life.  These are the type of people who focus on one aspect of safety for one type of threat (being physically attacked) while largely ignoring many other more likely threats.  It doesn't make sense to have lots of firearms, ammo and spend much time training when you don't bother to check the batteries in your smoke or CO detectors, wear your seatbelt, eat safe foods, etc.  As far as what TSA should be doing, read: "The 'Israelification' of airports: High security, little bother."  Israel deal with threats at a much more frequent rate, yet their airport security flows smoothly, quickly and is less obtrusive.  Israeli airport security agents do scan luggage and use metal detectors, but they focus more on people's behavior; they incorporate psychology and use intelligence.  We are now stuck with expensive technology run by poorly trained and educated employees.


   Finally, the quality and professionalism of TSA workers is in question.  Quite often TSA agents do not know their own policies, appear to be poorly trained and know little about constitutional rights.  ExpressJet pilot Michael Roberts' blog post: Pilot to TSA: 'No Groping Me and No Naked Photos' is credited by some for kicking off the current TSA firestorm; I hope he gets to keep his job and wins his lawsuit.  The Internet is rampant with reports of TSA workers violating passengers' rights.  This blog is about a 10 year old severe needs trauma victim who was separated from her family and service dog by TSA agents.  Even though the child was screaming and her parents were trying to explain her condition, TSA agents would not listen.  This mother was detained by TSA and missed her flight because she requested to have her pumped/bottled breast milk not run through the backscatter device.  TSA would not let her hand them a copy of their own policies.  She had previously been "instructed to travel with the TSA breast milk rules printed out and present them whenever there is a problem."  She indicated that her detention and their behavior was retaliatory.  Check out her blog and TSA video to see for yourself.  TSA agents went through this woman's receipts and checks in her pocketbook; they called the police when they found $8,000 in checks because "It's an indication you've embezzled these checks," or they suspected "a divorce situation" and that she was trying to empty their bank account.  Neither situation was true, but even if it was, how is that related to air travel safety?  This bladder cancer survivor had his the seal of his urostomy bag broken by TSA agents during a pat down. He tried to explain his condition and the bag, but TSA agents would not listen.  He was forced to board his plane covered in urine.  This breast cancer survivor was forced to show her prosthetic breast during a pat-down.   Asking questions about procedures and policies is often considered "non-compliance" TSA claims on their own website that they do not prohibit taking video or pictures, but people have been denied A menstruating woman was given a pat down because her panty liner hid the level of detail that the backscatter device normally reveals.   I have read numerous accounts of people opting out and being detained; TSA agents check their tickets and warn them that if they don't go through the backscatter machine, they will miss their flight.  TSA agents know that people have a lot to lose if they miss their flights; they know that travelers are under pressure to comply.


  I know I'd be willing to fly my family to Alaska if the TSA did not exist and we just had good, old fashion airport security and metal detectors.  If the one in in ~9.3 million lifetime chance that I/we were to be killed by terrorist, I could at least legally fight back.  If we were to fly today, however, we would guaranteed to be violated and exposed to radiation and germs by TSA agents, yet would have no legal recourse.  Air travel, the safest travel option, is now less safe thanks to the TSA and the politicians who gave them such absolute power.


  I must note that most of my research on this matter has been through forumn.  Check it out if I haven't given you enough links to read.


Happy Thanksgiving



Internet Explorer Video Link Solution


   Internet Explorer is lame, I know.  It does a few things that no other browsers do, however.  The most important thing (to me) is that its hyperlinks to folders open as actual folders instead of webpages with the files listed only as hyperlinks.  The school network that I've built over the past nine years has dozens of lesson links to folders from the network homepage that my students use.  As much as I dislike Internet Explorer for multiple reasons; we need to use it as our default browser at school. A few years ago my home PC developed a problem; network video hyperlinks to .wmv and .avi files would not work.  I searched online but could not find a solution.  Later I noticed that video hyperlinks over the Internet also would not work.   So I switched to Firefox.  Firefox is better in many ways, but not all.  Months later, one by one, or other home PCs developed the same problem.  A year later all of the computers in my lab at school developed the problem.  I stopped creating screenshot capture videos (example) because the links would not work from Internet Explorer. 

   Recently I studied the problem again online and found a working solution.  This link is to a registry edit file that may fix this problem for your computer if ,wmv, .avi, .asf, .mpg and/or .mpeg video links do not work in Internet Explorer.  The solution was somewhat buried online, so I am reposting it here so that it may show up earlier in Google searches.  I do not claim credit for this fix; here is the original thread.  You should be leery about clicking an online registry edit file so here are simple directions to create the file yourself:


Open notepad (All Programs > Accessories > Notepad)

Paste these lines in:


Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00 [HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\.avi]

Save file to your desktop, the filename does not matter but it must end in .reg

(The default will be .txt)

Find the file on your desktop and double click to open it.

Agree/Continue/Yes to adjust your registry.

Links to movies in Internet Explorer should now work.



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11-14-2010 ~ Blog #353 ~ David.



Somehow Brigitta has been the star of all of our random photos so far this month.


We went to see a magician at OLV last week.  He selected Brigitta as his assistant.


Brigitta took this self portrait on a class field trip two weeks ago.



Brigitta made this Iroquois Longhouse as a social studies project last week. (she got an A+)




We had a wisp of snow last weekend.  Brigitta scraped a bit of snow off the roof of the playhouse and made a tiny snowman.



Gerard's 89th Birthday

We helped Uncle Gerard celebrate his 89th birthday this weekend.  We went to Joan's cousin's house and nine of Gerard's ten children were there, (only missing Tom).





Shy & Nana


Kevin and Alex


Gerard and Nana


First MIG Weld

In college in Alaska I took a class on oxy-acetylene welding and had my own oxy-acetylene torch, cutter and tanks.   I've never done any sort of arc welding before so I've been a bit hesitant to use the MIG welder that I bought at a garage sale a summer ago.  Today I plugged it in, put on the mask, turned the machine on, and welded.  Although I'm far from skilled and my welds are not pretty, I am very happy with my welds and the machine.  It was surprisingly easy and effective.  The thing in the photo below is the arm of a pivoting LCD TV wall mount.  Its made from three heavy duty hinges and some other bits of metal.  I priced the cost of flat panel TV wall mounts locally and saw that flat wall mounts start at $80 and flexible ones start at $200.  I have trouble spending that kind of money on something I can make myself out of stuff that I have lying around.  The project is done and works well.




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