Sunday, March 17, 2013

Freezing at Table Rock, SC

From back in Novemberish...this didn't publish for some reason, maybe it's not finished...

This past weekend was spent camping at Table Rock State Park, SC.

It's starting to get cold and the big Coleman 8-man tent is a little big for cold weather as well as the car. The solution was to get a 4 or 5 man tent. Unfortunately, Walmart failed to have the same tent that I used in college years. It was a great tent, a Coleman 4-man simple dome tent. Window in the back and small vents at the top.

I found one, but I couldn't get it shipped in time so the dilemma of what tent set in. I ended up picking out the Eureka! Apollo 9, 5-man tent. It is a '3-season' tent that should work great. When I put it up in the dark at 10 pm, it was not as easy as the Coleman. But, the quality of the tent material was great. It had great features. However, at 3 in the morning, it was FREEZING! Apparently, the giant vented walls turned into the best natural circulation freezer-tent ever. We had a heater and freezing cold air was pouring in the four corners where the tent poles pulled the rain fly away from the tent walls.

We found that it was much better if the poles for the rain fly were removed to allow it to drape over the open top vents. That works well, but wouldn't work if it were windy. We decided it will make a great summer tent and we'll keep it rather than send it back. We'll have to get a Coleman for the next winter trip though.

Aside from freezing, we spent a good amount of time hiking. We conducted a test run late Saturday and made it about 3/4 miles up the trail. Sunday, the goal was the full 7+ mile hike with a 4 and 6 year-old, a 75 and 100 lb dog, and two parents that were betting on not how long to finish, but how far we could make it before turning around.

We set off Sunday for our ascent. The first mile, everyone was happy. As the miles tracked by and elevation climbed, the kids seemed to have more to complain about. Surprisingly enough, they made the entire trip. The views were amazing and the kids were excited to claim victory. The descent wasn't too bad either. And of course, the kids still wanted to play at the playground at the bottom.

After playing at the playground and some stretching,we headed to camp. We managed to keep Steven awake long enough to get a few bites of food in him. Wanda immediately went into the tent. Everyone slept great that night even in the cold tent. We still will replace this tent and let it be the summer tent.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Random Thoughts on 'Now is the Time'

I read through 'Now is the Time' and was not surprised at the lack of content. In a time of crisis, something has to be done. That's what this piece is...something. It includes a bunch of rambling about things that are going to stop gun violence. From spending money on studies at the CDC on gun violence, to pushing for an assault weapons ban; it contains little that will actually stop the problem. What is the problem? Criminals break laws. So...here is some rambling thoughts that I had while reading it...
...
I will say that adding 1,000 school resource officers, counselors, etc. is one item that could potentially stop something like this from happening. The interesting thing is how it would stop it. If a school had an armed resource officer, he could use his weapon to stop violent acts. Is this different than the schools that are starting to allow teachers to wield concealed weapons with proper training and licensing? No...I imagine either of these are effective. Though, only one is cost effective. We are required to have fire extinguishers in schools to stop fires from killing innocent children. How about we add 'break glass in case of crazed murder' to schools. I hope you make the connection and understand that I do not actually think that guns next to the fire extinguisher is the answer.
...
No excuse...So why didn't he do this 4 years ago? "Finally give the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) a confirmed director: The ATF has not had a confirmed director for six years. There is no excuse for leaving the key agency enforcing gun laws in America without a leader. It is time for Congress to confirm an ATF director."
...
Assault weapons ban...Ahhhh. How I hate the word 'Assault Weapon'. The term has been thrown around, yet most who use it do not understand what they are saying. An assault rifle is a selective fire (selectable among either fully automatic, burst-capable, or, sometimes, semi-automatic modes of operation) rifle that uses an intermediate cartridge and a detachable magazine. I'm not sure what and assault rifle is aside from previous and existing federal and state laws that arbitrarily choose features to define an assault rifle. It seems to be any firearm that is scary to the person using the word assault weapon. Personally, I think an assault weapon would be any weapon used in an assault, but that's probably way to simple. 

I'd like to point out that the federal government promoted distributing 'assault weapons' to the public. The .30 caliber, M1 Carbine, certainly meets the definition of assault rifle and surplus M1 Carbines have been provided as donations to help fund the federally created Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP). It accepts detachable magazines, has bayonet mounts, and may have a folding stock. A truly terrifying weapon of mass violence that has been allowed to help promote marksmanship for years. 

The CMP was created by the U.S. Congress as part of the 1903 War Department Appropriations Act. The original purpose was to provide civilians an opportunity to learn and practice marksmanship skills so they would be skilled marksmen if later called on to serve in the U.S. military. Over the years the emphasis of the program shifted to focus on youth development through marksmanship. From 1916 until 1996 the CMP was administered by the U.S. Army. 

Title XVI of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1996 (Public Law 104-106, 10 February 1996) created the Corporation for the Promotion of Rifle Practice & Firearms Safety (CPRPFS) to take over administration and promotion of the CMP. The CPRPFS is a tax-exempt non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation that has been Federally chartered by the U.S. Congress, but is not an agency of the U.S. Government (Title 36, United States Code, Section 40701 et seq). 

Apart from a donation of surplus .22 and .30 caliber rifles in the Army's inventory to the CMP, the CMP receives no Federal funding.
...
Straw purchases...I guess a slap on the wrist means up to 10 years in federal prison and up to $250k fines. I'm not sure what the explicit law he is looking for. It is against the law to purchase a firearm for another person and lie about it on a Form 4473. No different than lying about mental health illness. 

From Obama on 'straw purchases' - "Today, criminals can easily buy guns from unlicensed dealers, or acquire them with the help of so-called “straw purchasers” who pass the required background check to buy guns from licensed dealers. But there is no explicit law against straw purchasing, so straw purchasers and others who traffic guns can often only be prosecuted for paperwork violations. We cannot allow those who help put guns into the hands of criminals to get away with just a slap on the wrist. Congress should close these loopholes with new gun trafficking laws that impose serious penalties for these crimes."

...
I find it interesting that one of the first items mentioned wouldn't have done anything for the unfortunate mass murder at Sandy Hook...

"Require criminal background checks for all gun sales: Right now, federally licensed firearms dealers are required to run background checks on those buying guns, but studies estimate that nearly 40 percent of all gun sales are made by private sellers who are exempt from this requirement. A national survey of inmates found that only 12 percent of those who used a gun in a crime acquired it from a retail store or pawn shop, where a background check should have been run. Congress should pass legislation that goes beyond just closing the “gun show loophole” to require background checks for all firearm sales, with limited, common-sense exceptions for cases like certain transfers between family members and temporary transfers for hunting and sporting purposes."

...
So, what would work? I do not think there is any legislation that would stop gun violence, knife violence, or any other type of violence. I do wish that along with a study and weapons tracing in crimes that have guns associated with them, that we could track a little more data. How about tracking crime that occurs where the perpetrator is receiving state/federal aid? 

In the end, the root of the problem stems from two things. Failure of society to instill adequate values to future generations and poor mental health. The only steps that will work starts at the family and include taking an active role in raising the future generations of this country and teaching responsible decisions.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Poor People Murder


If you saw the title, you were probably either immediately interested in what I had to say or pissed off. Either way, it worked.

So...what do I mean that poor people murder? Am I saying that people who have more wealth do not commit murder? Well...no. But, sort of. Yesterday I posted that firearms make you safer. It's the argument that both 2nd Amendment supporters and opponents like to pick and pluck data and prove their points. The problem? They only pick and pluck data that proves their points. They fail to acknowledge that mass quantities of data that contradicts their view and helps their opponents.

After each side picks the data to prove their points, they go to media outlets that leans towards their views and spray streams of numbers and poll data that makes everyone on both sides satisfied that they  are truly correct.

At any rate...Now to poor people murdering. The next step to make some sense of this madness was to find out if there is something that more closely follows homicide rates. Of course my next question was how wealth affects homicide rates. All the data is the same data looked at yesterday, with per capita GDP (from CIA fact book) added to the mix. Again, countries that I do not have gun availability and homicide rates were thrown out. So...there are countries missing from the GDP data. If you care, then you go find the missing information and prove my trends wrong with some amazing find that will change the average of 152 countries. I'm lazy!

Not surprising, the poorer the country, the higher the homicide rates. More surprising, for countries with a GDP over $30k, the average homicide rate was 2.2 per 100,000 residents. Twenty-six countries on my list had over $30k. The average was skewed by the Bahamas. With a homicide rate of 21.6, 16.2 homicides per 100k ahead of US at 5.4, the average drops to 1.5 per 100k when Bahamas is dropped from the $30k+ upper class. Contrast this to the 'poor' countries with per capita GDP under $30k which average a 12.2 homicide per 100k. 

Here is the per capita GDP vs. homicide rate per 100k residents. 


The only other item I care to look at today is the gun ownership and how it varies with wealth. I'll make some assumptions that I do not think are too extreme. I'll go out on a limb with the tree goats and make a connection that gun ownership is roughly proportional to guns per 100 people. I'll also reach out for that delicious leaf and assume that as per capita GDP goes up, so does the average wealth of the countries residents.

What I found, is that guns are a luxury item. At least in the sense that the wealthier the country, the more guns per 100 persons there are. Again, using my logic from above, wealthy people like guns. Granted, there is noise in the charts as always, but the trends are there. 

Here is per Capita GDP vs. gun availability.



I did find it interesting that the US was 2nd highest out of the $30k GDP group. Going along with the poor people murder theory, I'm going to speculate that this could be due to the large quantity of urban inner-city homicides. I looked at a lot of data in the past on urban homicide when we were stuck living in the suburbs of the 3rd most dangerous metropolitan area in the US. Memphis if you did not know. At any rate, it showed that urban areas suck and are typically less safe than suburbs or rural communities. Shocking I know. Maybe I'll dig up the stats again and make some mesmerizing charts.

Last thought. If you want to improve your chances of NOT getting murdered, here is my advice. Try working harder, make more money and buy more guns. Oh...and I'd stay away from Honduras, Jamaica and Venezuela if I were you.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

The more guns your country has, the safer you are!

The more guns your country has, the safer you are!

With all the talk of gun control and misrepresentation of statistics, I decided to conduct my own analysis of some data out there on the web. Specifically, I was interested to see what I could find about the correlation of gun ownership or availability in a particular country and compare it to the homicide rates of that country.

I imagined that there would be no correlation, and I would be able to say that gun availability meant nothing. However, I was quite surprised to find that the availability of firearms does in fact make you safer in a particular country. This is especially evident in the countries that had more than 20 guns per 100 residents. In fact, in the 24 countries that had more than 20 guns per 100 residents, in all but one country the homicide rate per 100,000 people was 6.6 or less, with Panama having 19.2. The average homicide rate per 100,000 in these countries was 2.8. The average in the remaining 127 countries that I looked at was 12.0. That means on average, you were over 4 times more likely to be the victim of a homicide in a country that had fewer than 20 guns per 100 residents. That's amazing!

The chart below shows the gun availability vs. the homicide rates. The countries are sorted from highest guns per 100 residents to lowest. The trending analysis was pretty much irrelevant and at most could be said that the homicide rates started lower and tapered off around 16.7.















The next chart flips the numbers around. Countries were sorted from highest homicide rates to lowest and gun availability trend shown. This better demonstrates that lower guns per person does not necessarily mean a higher gun rate. But the trend is the same.






And finally, homicides in ascending order. Same as above from least to most homicides.



I have included the data below for you to see for yourself. I took the numbers from the two sources and merged them. Any countries that had data missing from UNODC was omitted. UK was averaged due to the way gun data was counted. Any countries that were not included on both lists or that was named differently and I was too lazy to match them (it's getting late), were also omitted. Argue all you want about the Wiki gun data, but looking at the list, I'd say it's probably pretty close if not in actual numbers at least in rankings.

Country
Guns per 100 residents (2007)
Homicide per 100,000 (2008)
Homicide ranking
Guns ranking
 United States
88.8
5.4
77
1
 Serbia
58.2
1.4
121
2
 Yemen
54.8
3.9
82
3
 Switzerland
45.7
0.7
143
4
 Cyprus
36.4
0.8
142
5
 Iraq
34.2
2.0
107
6
 Finland
32
2.5
99
7
 Uruguay
31.8
6.6
68
8
 Sweden
31.6
0.9
140
9
 Norway
31.3
0.7
144
10
 France
31.2
1.4
123
11
 Canada
30.8
1.8
110
12
 Austria
30.4
0.5
147
13
 Iceland
30.3
0.0
151
14
 Germany
30.3
0.9
141
15
 Oman
25.5
0.7
145
16
 Bahrain
24.8
0.6
146
17
 Kuwait
24.8
2.2
105
18
 Montenegro
23.1
3.7
86
19
 New Zealand
22.6
1.2
126
20
 Greece
22.5
1.2
125
21
 Croatia
21.7
1.6
115
22
 Panama
21.7
19.2
29
23
 Lebanon
21
6.0
71
24
 Equatorial Guinea
19.9
20.7
25
25
 Qatar
19.2
0.9
139
26
 Latvia
19
4.4
81
27
 Peru
18.8
11.7
48
28
 Bosnia and Herzegovina
17.3
1.7
112
29
 Angola
17.3
19.0
30
30
 Belgium
17.2
1.9
109
31
 Paraguay
17
15.1
37
32
 Czech Republic
16.3
1.9
108
33
 Thailand
15.6
5.8
74
34
 Libya
15.5
2.9
95
35
 Luxembourg
15.3
2.5
100
36
 Australia
15
1.2
127
37
 Mexico
15
12.7
45
38
 Mauritius
14.7
3.7
84
39
 Guyana
14.6
21.0
24
40
 Gabon
14
13.8
42
41
 Slovenia
13.5
0.5
149
42
 Suriname
13.4
8.3
58
43
 Guatemala
13.1
46.0
5
44
 South Africa
12.7
36.8
8
45
 Armenia
12.5
2.7
97
46
 Turkey
12.5
3.3
91
47
 Denmark
12
1.0
137
48
 Italy
11.9
1.0
134
49
 Malta
11.9
1.4
120
50
 Pakistan
11.6
7.2
66
51
UK - averaged guns/100
11.2
1.3
124
52
 Chile
10.7
3.5
87
53
 Venezuela
10.7
52.0
3
54
 Spain
10.4
0.9
138
55
 Argentina
10.2
5.8
75
56
 Belize
10
34.4
12
57
 Costa Rica
9.9
11.3
50
58
 Estonia
9.2
6.3
70
59
 Somalia
9.1
1.5
117
60
 Russia
8.9
11.6
49
61
 Zambia
8.9
38.0
7
62
 Ireland
8.6
1.1
130
63
 Albania
8.6
2.9
94
64
 Portugal
8.5
1.2
129
65
 Slovakia
8.3
1.7
113
66
 Jamaica
8.1
59.5
2
67
 Brazil
8
22.8
19
68
 Barbados
7.8
8.5
57
69
 Nicaragua
7.7
13.1
43
70
 Algeria
7.6
1.5
118
71
 Israel
7.3
2.3
102
72
 Belarus
7.3
5.6
76
73
 Georgia
7.3
6.0
72
74
 Ukraine
6.6
5.9
73
75
 Maldives
6.5
1.6
114
76
 Kenya
6.4
20.1
27
77
 Bulgaria
6.2
2.3
104
78
 Honduras
6.2
61.3
1
79
 Colombia
5.9
35.9
11
80
 El Salvador
5.8
51.9
4
81
 Hungary
5.5
1.5
119
82
 Sudan
5.5
24.2
18
83
 Bahamas
5.3
21.6
23
84
 Dominican Republic
5.1
24.8
17
85
 Morocco
5
1.4
122
86
 China
4.9
1.1
132
87
 Cuba
4.8
4.6
80
88
 Philippines
4.7
6.5
69
89
 Afghanistan
4.6
2.4
101
90
 Taiwan
4.6
3.5
88
91
 Zimbabwe
4.6
14.3
41
92
 India
4.2
3.4
89
93
 Netherlands
3.9
1.1
133
94
 Syria
3.9
2.7
98
95
 Bhutan
3.5
1.0
136
96
 Egypt
3.5
1.0
135
97
 Azerbaijan
3.5
2.1
106
98
 Djibouti
2.8
3.4
90
99
 Bolivia
2.8
7.5
64
100
 Cameroon
2.8
19.7
28
101
 Congo
2.7
30.8
14
102
 Lesotho
2.7
33.0
13
103
 Senegal
2
8.7
56
104
 Mongolia
1.9
7.9
63
105
 Comoros
1.8
12.2
47
106
 Vietnam
1.7
1.6
116
107
 Liberia
1.6
10.1
54
108
 Mauritania
1.6
14.7
40
109
 Guinea-Bissau
1.6
20.2
26
110
 Trinidad and Tobago
1.6
41.1
6
111
 Uzbekistan
1.5
3.1
93
112
 Sri Lanka
1.5
7.3
65
113
 Nigeria
1.5
12.2
46
114
 Benin
1.4
15.1
38
115
 Democratic Republic of the Congo
1.4
21.7
22
116
 Uganda
1.4
36.3
9
117
 Poland
1.3
1.2
128
118
 Kazakhstan
1.3
10.7
53
119
 Ecuador
1.3
18.5
31
120
 Laos
1.2
4.6
79
121
 Papua New Guinea
1.2
13.0
44
122
 Burundi
1.2
21.7
21
123
 Guinea
1.2
22.5
20
124
 Mali
1.1
8.0
62
125
 Chad
1.1
15.8
35
126
 Burkina Faso
1.1
18.0
32
127
 Tajikistan
1
1.8
111
128
 Togo
1
10.9
51
129
 Central African Republic
1
29.3
15
130
 Kyrgyzstan
0.9
8.0
61
131
 Nepal
0.8
3.2
92
132
 Madagascar
0.8
8.1
59
133
 Gambia
0.8
10.8
52
134
 Romania
0.7
2.3
103
135
 Niger
0.7
3.8
83
136
 Lithuania
0.7
8.9
55
137
 Malawi
0.7
36.0
10
138
 Japan
0.6
0.5
148
139
 Haiti
0.6
5.0
78
140
 Sierra Leone
0.6
14.9
39
141
 Rwanda
0.6
17.1
34
142
 Singapore
0.5
0.4
150
143
 Bangladesh
0.5
2.8
96
144
 Indonesia
0.5
8.1
60
145
 Eritrea
0.5
17.8
33
146
 Solomon Islands
0.4
3.7
85
147
 Ghana
0.4
15.7
36
148
 Ethiopia
0.4
25.5
16
149
 Timor-Leste
0.3
6.9
67
150
 Tunisia
0.1
1.1
131
151





Data for homicide from UNODC...
http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/data-and-analysis/homicide.html
Data for guns from Wikipedia...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Number_of_guns_per_capita_by_country