28 April 2010

This Just Doesn't Work

It would seem that Florida is poised to allow red-light cameras.

I am not advocating running red lights in my opposition to them.

Heck, I would accept them as a fine idea if they were done properly. But they won't be and they never have been.

Study after study has shown the way to reduce the number of accidents at light controlled intersections is to make the yellow longer and give a brief pause before changing the cross traffic's light green. Absorb that for a second. Giving people a bit more time to get stopped and then giving some time for the intersection to clear of traffic before releasing the side traffic reduces the number of accidents more than any other factor.

But red light cameras are not about reducing the number of accidents.

Why do I say that?

I say that because every single article about them mentions revenue generated.

Studies again: They show, over and over, that when first implemented, there's a lot of tickets issued; then over time the number of violations drops to nearly zero. If this was about safety, we'd declare victory at this point. But these cameras always come with a company that processes the tickets and maintains the cameras. If there are no tickets issued, there's no money for the company and (depending on the contract) threaten to take their cameras and go home (with dire warnings about the chaos that will ensue should there be no robotic guardian watching the maniacal drivers)or they collect their fee without the ticket revenue stream to support the expenditures.

What does the municipality that installed the cameras do now?

They invariably shorten the yellow time! Creating a situation where it's more difficult to get stopped safely in time; on purpose to get more money.

Remember what I said about increasing the yellow being the single most effective means for increasing safety at a light controlled intersection? Some places have shortened the yellow so much that you cannot safely stop from the speed limit before entering the intersection.

"But you said the number of violations drops to nearly zero, doesn't that mean there are fewer accidents?"

No, that does not mean there are fewer accidents. That means there are fewer t-bones. What we trade them for is rear-endings. People don't want a ticket for running the light, so they slam on the brakes. With the shorter yellow, they know they don't have much time to get stopped. Think a 2,800 lb Civic can out brake a school bus? I know it can.

While we are talking about accidents... The recent articles on the topic stated that just over 50% of the accidents in Florida occur at light controlled intersections (they infer that it's because people are running red lights, but don't actually say it). Light controlled intersections are not 50% of the intersections, by a wide margin. I could make a statistical case that the lights are causing a disproportionate number of accidents.

If we are going to be honest about this, we also need to look at why people push that yellow and run the red. I've been conducting an experiment. I've been driving the speed limit, accelerating very moderately and stopping when the light turns yellow. At a few key intersections, if I catch the red I will have to stop at the next ten red lights. If my timing is good, and I catch that one light green, I catch the rest of them green along this route as well. Congratulations traffic planners! You have created an incentive to run that key light.

I have also noticed that if I take a detour and sit at one of the cross streets that I am staring at a clear intersection for the entire red light (30-90 seconds). When the glob of traffic that was stopped at the previous light arrives at the intersection, it turns red for them and green for me. Seems to me that the time to let the cross traffic out is during that huge gap.

Let us also add in another observation. People have figured out they are going to have to stop at the next light so they don't bother getting up to the speed limit; they lolly-gag along at 5-10 under. This can be very frustrating.

Now, lets correlate the frustration with the timing. I know that if I'd made that first light green I would not have to stop at the second one. This means there's a much faster than the posted limit speed that will allow me to get back in sequence with the lights and catch the rest of them green. If the traffic in front of me doesn't get up to the limit and pulls the rolling road-block routine, that just means that when I get clear air I have to go even faster to make that next light. Fast enough that there's no way I can stop for the red given the short yellow. Look! An accident!

If this was really about safety, they would have the lights timed so that the huge mass of cars didn't have to stop at every light. They yellow would be long enough so that someone obeying the speed limit has plenty of time to stop. But they don't because this isn't about safety at all, it's about money.

I forgot to mention that a good third to half the red lights in the greater Tampa area were put there in response to some gruesome accident. One in particular locally stands out.

Where the intersection of Old Highway 54 T's into FL-54. The original plan was to have old 54 dead end where the intersection is now. When they first opened the new section it was simply a stop sign. Then one night around 2am a mother and her two young children stopped at the sign, looked both ways, pulled out to turn left... and were killed when a drunk driving 110 mph broadsided her. So we have a light to keep drunks from driving a buck ten? In addition to the idiot drunk, that section of road was planned with the idea that there was not going to be an intersection there at all, the sight distances suck. The deceased likely never even saw him. The question that should have been asked is not, "why wasn't there a light there?" but "why was there an intersection there?" Guess why the plan was changed. Yup, MONEY! There were a few businesses along that short stretch were 54 used to dogleg. Those businesses lobbied hard to keep that section from becoming a dead end; they said it would hurt their business when people stopped driving past.

25 April 2010

Having A Wee Bit Of Rain

The street out front.

The back patio.

The neighbor's back yard.

24 April 2010

Marv's BAG Purchase

It's a SIG-Sauer P238. Colt Series 80 shown for comparison.

Update: Pictures lost because Webshots went all pay-per-view and killed the links.

18 April 2010

Being An Engineer And A Nerd

I bought a pocket protector... for my SIG P238.

09 April 2010

Hey Iowa Friends

Drop an e-mail or letter at your governor and tell him you really, really want him to sign SF2379.

It will make Iowa's Conceal Carry Permit:

Shall Issue!!!
Standardizes training requirements
Places a 30-day time limit on issuing a permit.
Provides a tight appeals process
Universal recognition of all out of state permits The part I care about.
No ability for the Sheriff to record make, model, SN, or ammunition type of any weapon during the permit process
Removal of all individual Federal disqualifiers, replaced with one sentence
Permits good for five years

08 April 2010

Hey Judge Fuck You Too

"The judge concluded that these weapons are not in common use, are not possessed by law-abiding citizens as a general rule, and are dangerous."

From: http://www.scotusblog.com/2010/03/new-d-c-gun-laws-upheld/

Your "honor", I am a law abiding citizen, I possess several of "these weapons". I even went the extra law-abiding step of registering my short barrel rifle. Were I not a law-abiding citizen, I would have just lopped off that barrel and called it good.

Not in common use? Time to come out from under your rock, your "honor". Not only are they common, enough are sold to support development of new cartridges that are specifically designed for the platforms. Both the 6.5 Grendel and 6.8x43mm would be longer if not so constrained. There are companies, like Magpul, that are surviving nicely making accessories that are exclusively for such arms (and making very little that isn't for such weapons).

Define dangerous, your "honor". Not a single firearm in my house has killed a person since I have owned it. Three have almost certainly been used to kill in the past, but that was at the behest of the State during a war (they are military surplus rifles). Any of my firearms is certainly deadly dangerous to anyone foolish enough to attempt to break into my house, but even you are acknowledging that the first Heller ruling says that's OK.

Magpul AFG Initial Impressions

Right side:
Left side:

On the LaRue 4-rail the AFG interferes with the Magpul XTM rail panels. To put the AFG where I was comfortable, I had to remove one section of XTM. In fact, there's no way for the front part of the AFG to put anything on the side rails. The LaRue's bottom rail is closer to the barrel than the top, so there's less room here. I might get out the Dremel if things bug me too much.

I had to move my light from the bottom rail to one of the sides, because of the change in grip angle, this is actually easier than the bottom was.

I took the 'A2' finger stop out of the grip area since, like usual, it was where I wanted a finger instead of between. Even with it reversed.

It doesn't feel at all like I expected it to, but it is more comfortable with Dottie's nose heaviness.

UPDATE: (Already)
The loss of the third XTM panel bothered me because fingers were hitting rail. It's unpleasant. So I took a teeny lip off the underside of the XTM panel and that leaves enough clearance to get the AFG under it.

UPDATE: By request of Anglave

07 April 2010

Spread The Word

Progressives Can't Get Past The Knowledge Problem

One thing we can say about Hayek that I don't think I have seen about Keynes is Hayek's theories are disprovable. Keynes seems to be much more along the lines of, "Let's see what happens!"

05 April 2010

I Don't Know Why I Am Still Astounded

If you cannot afford $400 to fix your car, you cannot afford $750 to replace a TV. Especially when it is not your only TV. Explain to me again why you thought being called an idiot was inappropriate?

04 April 2010

Well Said Sir

"Consistent, understandable to lay-people laws are a good and an end in themselves, a necessary feature of a free and stable society. Punishments roughly proportionate with malum in secriminality, not exaggerated for malum prohibitum defiance are themselves a good thing. Quoting a legal definition not only more precise but arguably at odds with plain English is exceedingly patronizing. The law is what some of us have reservations about, not out of ignorance but out of principle." Dave R in the comments here: http://www.snowflakesinhell.com/2010/03/29/feds-raid-radical-christian-group/

03 April 2010

On Teaching Shooting

Tam's post; http://booksbikesboomsticks.blogspot.com/2010/04/chicks-can-hold-their-smoke.html got me to thinking.

When I met Harvey she was not a shooter. I was her first instructor.

Her first handgun shots were from a Glock 21. Her only difficulty was that the grips were too large for her hands.

Her first gun, of any kind, was a S&W Sigma in .357 SIG. It's still her first love. I had her handle everything first. We looked at both revolvers and autos. At the time, she said that the autos all felt better to her hand, but the revolvers seemed so much simpler. The first handgun I ever fired was an auto, there's more to learn but it's not really that difficult so we decided she'd just learn. And she did. I wish more "mentors" would take this to heart.

When the carry bug bit her, we realized that Sigma was a tad large for handy carry so we sought a smaller gun. A friend of hers had recently bought a S&W 642 (.38 Special) and such a snubby seemed ideal. The idea of an aluminum framed revolver rubs wrong to us so we went with the same size gun in stainless, the 640 (.357 Magnum). Her first shots from her snubby were Hornady Leverevolution rounds. Those are really intended for carbines! Her comments? "LOUD!"

Double-action only snubby revolvers in heavy loads are notoriously hard to shoot well, but she handled the 640 with aplomb. The range staff asked her several times if she was sure she'd never fired a little revolver before.

You Tube is awash with videos of boyfriends/husbands handing a .44 Magnum to their girlfriend/wife and having them shoot. The girl is invariably someone who doesn't seem to like guns and is obviously unfamiliar with shooting. Most of the time the thing jumping out of her hands just scares her and the guy (and his buddies) all guffaw. I hate this kind of thing. Congrats, guys, you just made a non-shooter out of someone you live with. She's going to resist any purchase of anything 'gun' from now on, even if it is in the most subtle of ways.

The Lovely Harvey, on the other hand, had no problem with a 4" Colt Anaconda firing 240gr Speer Gold-Dot. I like to think that is because I taught her correctly and never forced her to do something she wasn't ready to do. I also like to think that when I discovered I was doing something wrong (and teaching her that) that I admitted it, and we learned the new way together.

Harvey is my success story. Laurie is my failure.

Laurie is the friend with the 642. Her husband is the guy I refer to as "Libtard Lenny". He's an odd duck, a flaming liberal who likes guns.

He decided that she, with zero interest in shooting, would get a gun and carry permit. She'd taken the classes, but never processed her application. When Harvey got interested in her CCW, she cajoled Laurie into coming to the classes with her so that she'd have company; so Laurie took the class twice. Lenny strong-armed her into finishing the application this time and then it was time to get a gun.

I did the same thing with Laurie as I did with Harvey. We hit the gun shows and I made her handle every single handgun there. She has nerve damage in her right hand and is right-handed. She doesn't have a enough grip in her hand to work the slide on most small autos (blow back guns have stronger springs than locked breech). She is not mechanically inclined, so the simplicity of a revolver seemed better. The same accident that caused the nerve damage also affected her wrist strength in both hands. So we needed a light gun as well as a simple one.

This kept adding up to a revolver. She was able to work all of the controls every time, the 642 was light enough for her to hold and it was priced in her range. So she bought it and we went shooting.

I had forgotten some things. A lighter gun makes for more recoil. DAO means an atrocious trigger that requires a smooth pull, something Laurie had difficulty with because of the damage. Yet, she managed. We were making progress and she was learning and getting better. Practicing was acting as physical therapy for her left hand and fine motor skills and strength was returning.

Then we made the mistake of going to the range with Lenny and The Lovely Harvey. Laurie was a better shot than Lenny. She'd only been shooting for a whole month and she was better than he. Harvey was a lot better than he. The next time I took Laurie shooting, she was not as good as her first outing. Now her gun, that she had loved, was too big for her purse, to heavy(!), kicked too hard, trigger was too strong, grips felt wrong, etc... Odd, I thought. Turns out that Lenny had started telling her all this behind my back.

A week later she called to go shooting and had a new gun! Woot! It was an FN Browning Vest Pocket 1905 in .25 ACP. She showed that she could work the controls and she exclaimed over and over how happy she was with how it fit her hand. And she shot it well. Problem was, it was an ancient, used, gun. It was unreliable. It needed new springs and the magazine's lips were well worn. Rather than fix it, Lenny traded it in on a Beretta Tomcat. Note that LENNY traded it, not Laurie. This is because he went to the shop where he'd bought it and demanded warranty repairs. "On an 80 year old gun?" the shopkeeper asked. I am confident that the gun was repairable and would have been fine, but Lenny... well he was saying that I didn't know what I was talking about.

Good news, Laurie likes the Tomcat. Bad news, Lenny has taken over her training and she now shoots like he does.

That same day we all went shooting, I was zeroing my M-1903A3. Lenny was shooting his Kel Tec SU-16A at the extreme long range of 25 yards and getting torso sized groups. Once I was happy with my zero at 25 yards, I moved the target out to 100. Lenny said, under his breath, "Harvey, I can't even see it, I'll bet he can't even hit it." The kid in the next lane overheard and aimed his spotting scope at my target. I fired 5 shots unsupported off-hand. The kid says, "He's hitting it. Good grouping too." I had a nice 4" group. Lenny has never gone shooting with me again.

I think it is because he knows all he wants to know about shooting, but when he compares what he knows to what I know, it's obvious there's more to learn. That bothers him. I know several people who know more about shooting than I do. It bothers me. My solution is to attempt to learn what they know! It's working, my shooting is always getting better.

Harvey has a pile of friends who are eager to learn shooting. I am eager to duplicate my success with Harvey.