Tuesday, 4 June 2013

07:58 – The lead article on the front page of the paper this morning is disturbing on at least two levels. A 53-year-old man has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of a 32-year-old pregnant woman and her young son in a boat wreck that happened a couple weeks ago.

The man who was charged was driving a speedboat that collided with a pontoon boat on a local lake. There were four people in each of the boats. No one in the speedboat was injured. The woman and her son in the pontoon boat were killed. Her brother sustained severe brain injuries, and her husband was uninjured. Alcohol was not involved, nor was excessive speed. It was what we used to call an “accident”. There were many witnesses to this unfortunate accident. No one was at fault. No one did anything wrong. There was no gross negligence nor reckless disregard. But nowadays, it seems, someone must be at fault any time something bad happens. So they charged the guy driving the speedboat with involuntary manslaughter.

Oh, yeah. The other disturbing part. They charged the guy not with two counts of involuntary manslaughter, but three. The third count was for the woman’s unborn child.


Barbara’s dad continues to do well. His condition is still terminal, but he appears to be holding his own for now, and he continues to act like his old self. When I visited yesterday, I read him the letter that we enclosed with the first CARE package we sent to the Marine unit in Afghanistan. He was delighted that we were going to continue sending packages in his name. I commented that I guessed they didn’t have girl Marines back when he was in, and he replied, “Oh, no. We had ’em.” He then proceeded to tell me some of the nicknames they called the girl Marines back then, but I think I’ll leave those to my readers’ imaginations.

I told Dutch what my dad had told me about women flying four-engine bombers in WWII. My dad flew on B-17’s over Germany, and he’d told me that those huge bombers didn’t have power steering. When the pilot needed to move the ailerons or rudder, he did it by sheer muscle power via cables connected to the controls on his end and the rudder and ailerons on the other. Flying a B-17 was a matter of literally physically wrestling with the controls, and it took a strong young man to do it for any sustained time. And yet, as new B-17’s were produced in factories here, someone needed to fly them to the UK. They couldn’t spare men pilots to do that, so they loaded those B-17’s up with gasoline and turned them over to women pilots, who flew them across the Atlantic to the UK. Those young women must have been in superb physical condition, as tough as any man. I suspect those girl Marines Dutch referred to were much the same.

50 thoughts on “Tuesday, 4 June 2013”

  1. As a sailor, I have to disagree with you about the culpability of the “driver” of the speedboat that ran into the pontoon boat. According to the article I read. the speedboat driver was going over 25 mph in shallow water. That’s fast for a boat. He was responsible for keeping a lookout for other boats and for avoiding a collision. He didn’t. He was responsible. Involuntary manslaughter is an appropriate charge. This was only an accident in the sense that running a red light and hitting a pedestrian is an accident. The charge for the fetus is based on the fundamentalist politics of your state.

    I sail a 33 foot sailboat. While I am under sail, I have the legal right of way over any power boat. I regularly have to watch for power boat drivers who don’t have a clue. My boat weights about 10,000 lbs. In a collision with most small power boats, I will probably come out ahead. I also need to make sure to avoid any large ships or barges as they have the right of way and probably wouldn’t feel it if they collided with my boat.

    Rick in Portland

  2. He then proceeded to tell me some of the nicknames they called the girl Marines back then, but I think I’ll leave those to my readers’ imaginations.

    My father only mentioned one, and even that one he didn’t say in full – BAM, or Broad-A**ed Marine.

  3. Hope you don’t mind me changing the subject. As reader here for some time I think you guys could give me some good advice. I have just been issued my gun license here in Massachusetts and I’m trying to pick out a first gun to learn to shoot. On the theory that the best way to learn to shoot well is to shoot a lot my plan is a .22LR pistol. That seems the most economical way to shoot the thousands of rounds needed to become proficient. Any advice on the best choice of .22 pistol (or differing opinion on caliber)? Cost is a factor but I don’t mind paying good money for a good quality gun, something that is going to last a lifetime or hold its value.

  4. I don’t know anything about boats, but from a legal standpoint, involuntary manslaughter requires a certain degree of negligence (how much apparently depends on local laws). So the question to answer will be: was the driver of the speedboat negligent to the degree required by the law?

    If the pontoon boat crossed the speedboat’s path is a way a competent driver could not foresee, then we can hope he will be acquitted. If it is more like Rick says – equivalent to hitting a pedestrian by running a red light – then presumably the negligence is present.

    I do see the complaint: not everything should land in court. However, an accident severe enough to kill two people and massively injure a third deserves a hard look by the police.

  5. While I am under sail, I have the legal right of way over any power boat.

    You should clarify that to be a boat under power, not just any power boat.

  6. As I said, according to the authorities per the newspaper report, neither alcohol nor excessive speed was a factor in the collision.

  7. Hope you don’t mind me changing the subject. As reader here for some time I think you guys could give me some good advice. I have just been issued my gun license here in Massachusetts and I’m trying to pick out a first gun to learn to shoot. On the theory that the best way to learn to shoot well is to shoot a lot my plan is a .22LR pistol. That seems the most economical way to shoot the thousands of rounds needed to become proficient. Any advice on the best choice of .22 pistol (or differing opinion on caliber)? Cost is a factor but I don’t mind paying good money for a good quality gun, something that is going to last a lifetime or hold its value.

    Everyone around here changes the subject frequently.

    Yes, a .22 is an ideal pistol to learn with. You have to be pretty well off to afford to shoot as much as you’ll need to with a .45 or other serious caliber. As to a specific pistol, my strong recommendation is the Ruger 22/45, which is designed to have the same feel as a 1911 government model (same grip angle and so on). I have a target model in stainless steel, which I don’t think they offer any more. Any of the current models would be a good choice.

    http://www.ruger.com/products/2245/index.html?r=y

  8. JLP:

    While RBT’s recommendation is very good, you may want to consider a different handgun form factor. While the 1911 is still very popular, more modern designs are excellent also. Some of them are available with .22 caliber conversion kits, or those kits can be purchased separately. With such a kit, you then have two guns in one. One for practice with .22LR ammo and one for defense-use in its primary center-fire caliber.

  9. I’ve never been a big fan of conversion kits, but it’s certainly something you might want to consider.

    As to the 1911 versus modern pistols, I wouldn’t even consider carrying anything as my primary pistol but a 1911 or close variant.

  10. Unfortunately the Ruger 22/45 and Mark III (which also seems like a good option) are not “Massachusetts Compliant” meaning that they cannot be sold by a dealer in this state. It is legal to own them but I would have to buy it used in a private sale. I’m still trying to fathom all the odd gun laws in my home state. Clear as mud as the old saying goes.

  11. Boy, am I glad I don’t live there. It annoys me enough that one has to get a concealed-carry permit in North Carolina, although any adult can carry openly without any kind of permit.

  12. I have decided to exercise my 2nd amendment rights in a state that hugely restricts them and deep roots are going to keep me from moving anytime soon. But all gun suggestions are welcome, Mass compliant or not. That is my problem to deal with. I am so new to this that I am not plugged into the shooting community yet to be able to track down used guns for sale. Nor am I qualified to judge the quality of a used firearm. That’s why I plan to buy my first gun new.
    I need to start somewhere. I am willing to take the time to learn and do my homework. My first gun will not be my only gun or my last gun.

  13. Yes, a .22 is an ideal pistol to learn with. You have to be pretty well off to afford to shoot as much as you’ll need to with a .45 or other serious caliber. As to a specific pistol, my strong recommendation is the Ruger 22/45, which is designed to have the same feel as a 1911 government model (same grip angle and so on). I have a target model in stainless steel, which I don’t think they offer any more. Any of the current models would be a good choice.

    http://www.ruger.com/products/2245/index.html?r=y

    That Ruger .22LR is a sweet shooting pistol. I learned to shoot on one back in the 1960s. Then I graduated to a .308 Browning semi auto shoulder pounding rifle.

  14. And yet, as new B-17′s were produced in factories here, someone needed to fly them to the UK. They couldn’t spare men pilots to do that, so they loaded those B-17′s up with gasoline and turned them over to women pilots, who flew them across the Atlantic to the UK.

    One of my first engineering mentors was a guy who was a student at Texas A&M College in 1942? and joined up. He had some flying experience so they trained him to fly a multiple engine bomber, the B-17 in fact. 12 weeks of training (if I remember correctly) and he was good to go as an Army Captain. He and his copilot (30 days younger) picked up a new B-17 in Fort Worth, Texas and turned it into a flying gas can with 5 gallon jerry cans. They then flew to Maine, Greenland and England. They were continuously pouring those 5 gallon jerry cans into the wing tanks.

    In England, they picked up their crew, machine guns and bombs. On their second trip over Germany, they were shot down and he was the last to jump out. He spent 18 months in a German POW camp and came out weighing 108 lbs (he was 6’2″). When I knew him in the 1980s, he weighed 350 lbs and was proud of it.

  15. Unfortunately the Ruger 22/45 and Mark III (which also seems like a good option) are not “Massachusetts Compliant” meaning that they cannot be sold by a dealer in this state

    Can a firearms dealer sell anything in Massachusetts?

  16. “Can a firearms dealer sell anything in Massachusetts?”

    The list seems to be ever shrinking. I gather that the attorney general makes it so difficult to meet a set of capricious standards that some gun manufacturers are just throwing up their hands. For example, I have not seen a single Colt of any type in any Massachusetts store.

  17. That is my problem to deal with. I am so new to this that I am not plugged into the shooting community yet to be able to track down used guns for sale.

    Might I suggest that if you can find such a thing in your state, you take an NRA approved handgun safety class? That way you’ll make the acquaintance of at lease one gun owner in your area, who probably knows a bunch of other gun owners. (Note, I don’t own a gun and haven’t gotten around to following my own advice yet.)

  18. News reports say that the speed was “over 25 mph” to as much as 50 mph. I looked at the satellite photos of the creek where the collision occurred. No way in hell should he have been going that fast with other boats around. Hell, if a boat was going that fast on the Columbia River, which is over a mile wide, the captain of a boat going that fast better keep clear of any other boats.

    A boat captain is responsible for the operation of his boat. No matter who is the right of way, if two boats are on a collision course, both captains have the responsibility to try to avoid a collision. I doubt the captain of the pontoon boat could have done much to avoid the collision. I don’t know the jurisdiction on the lake in question. Around here, there would be a Coast Guard inquiry in any collision involving fatalities.

    Recently a friend was using his boat for a USPS (US Power Squadron) sailing class. The USPS is a voluntary organization devoted to boating safety. All instructors are volunteers. During the class, while a student was at the helm, the boat t-boned another sailboat. Nobody was hurt, but there was significant damage to the other boat. Although he was not at the wheel, the collision was his responsibility because he was the captain and he accepted it immediately. There won’t be any criminal charges, but his insurance company will pay for the damage to the other boat.

    True boating “accidents” are pretty rare. A couple of years ago a breaching whale almost sank a sailboat off the Oregon coast. See: http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2011/05/breaching_whale_crushes_portland_sailboat_off_astoria.html

    That was a true accident. Most collisions between boats are the result of mistakes by one or both captains. It was not an accident just because there was no alcohol involved. If you can’t maintain control of your boat (or car), you shouldn’t be driving.

    Rick in Portland

  19. BTW, I taught my son to shoot using my Ruger 10/22 rifle. Sweet, sweet, sweet 22LR rifle with available 50 shot banana magazines. And used to be able to buy 22 LR bricks (500 bullets) for $10. What has happened to us?

    I am one for four on the four guns every shooter should own:
    http://cheaperthandirt.com/blog/?p=32575

  20. Boy, those wouldn’t have been my choices. Among the Rugers, the 10/22, yes, along with the 22/45 and the Mini-14/Mini-30, all of which I owned before I somehow lost them. But for a shotgun, although the Mossberg is okay, I’d much prefer an 870. (Well, the truth is that I prefer the Atchison or an HS 10B, but most people can’t afford either of those.) And a Model 70 or a 788 (yes, the 788 rather than the 700) in .308 or an even flatter-shooting round.

  21. I’m currently clearing junk out of my house, and I just found not one, but TWO, 56k dial-up modems. 15 years old at least.

    Geez.

  22. I’m currently clearing junk out of my house, and I just found not one, but TWO, 56k dial-up modems. 15 years old at least.

    Would you like a third one? I know that I have one and maybe two. One external and one internal.

    I remember when 56K was cool. My sun unix box at work would do vi all day long at 56K.

  23. Boy, those wouldn’t have been my choices. Among the Rugers, the 10/22, yes,

    All four of these guns are relatively cheap? Even though I saw a Ruger 10/22 the other day for $300 (mine was $108 in 1982 if I remember correctly).

  24. Ah, you guys and your new-fangled equipment. I still have a USR 9600 or two around here from back in the days when I ran a multi-line BBS. Actually, I just looked and I also still have a PP 14.4.

  25. When I started using the Internet in 1997 32k dial in was state of the art for home users. A year later 56k became available. Now I have cable broadband and would be lost without it.

    I’ve filled the garbage bin and recycling bin (pickup Thursday) and have plenty more to go. Wish I’d started this a year ago.

  26. Yep, all of the ones I listed other than the HS10B and the Atchison are fairly cheap, at least to the extent anything nowadays is. I think the HS10B I have–complete with flashlight and Choate magazine extension, not to mention the spreader tube the Tunnel Rats used–would probably fetch $10K or more, and the Atchison maybe $50K. If I still had them, which I don’t.

  27. “I’m currently clearing junk out of my house, and I just found not one, but TWO, 56k dial-up modems. 15 years old at least. ”

    I’m in the process of moving. Last week I threw a 56k and this week a 14.4k. The 14.4 was obviously further down the pile of goodies. I may still have some laptop LAN/modem cards but those are small. 🙂

    I started with 300bps asynch and 2400 sync but those are long gone.

  28. JLP, see if Pink Pistols has a group anywhere near you. I and many others think very highly of them. You don’t have to be gay to join. I found everyone I dealt with to be very friendly and helpful.

  29. Send your old hardware my way, I love looking at old tech

    Jangsterish at gmail

  30. Not that I ever noticed, Lynn, but they did wear pink t-shirts when looking for members or just raising awareness.

  31. Lynn wrote:

    “I remember when 56K was cool. My sun unix box at work would do vi all day long at 56K.”

    Ah, the good old days. I seem to remember back in the Eighties that there were 300 baud modems around. When I got my first Internet capable PC in 1997 28k was normal and 33k had *just* become commonly available. It was good enough for me at the time, but within a year 56k became available, which was nice. I don’t remember when I got cable, probably around 2000, but I could never go back. I can deal with not having Internet access when I know in advance, but I really fret if it goes down without notice.

  32. Ah, the bad ole BBS days. I also went through all the generations from 300 baud onwards, but geez you guys have bigattics or something! I have to regularly throw stuff away or I cant walk through the house.

    Remember the joy of putting a phone handset into the rubber cups? Or, later, leaving your modem online, because you had local flat rate and you could?

    Fun times, we were closer to the hardware, but – wow – look at what today’s hardware can do!

  33. Thanks, guys. The consensus seems to confirm the idea to get started with a .22LR pistol, whatever make and model is available to me. As for the Pink Pistols, well I’m sure they’re a fine organization, but I must be honest, one of the reasons for getting into a social hobby like target shooting is to meet women. In short order I’ll be joining one of the local gun clubs.
    As for modems, in college I had a 600 baud that you nestled the whole handset into the acoustic cradle, no direct connect. One day my roommate walked in whistling and random characters began appearing on my screen.

  34. Heh. Back about 20 years ago I had my all-time record for longest phone call. It lasted 18 months. I had a dedicated phone line here for Internet access, which I used to connect to a modem rack where I worked. I dialed in one day and stayed connected for a year and a half.

    Someone commented that I must have really pissed off the phone company, but in fact it was the opposite. At the time, they were running non-blocking DMS100 digital switches. The actual connection part of a phone call cost them literally zero in resources. It was the dial-tone generators and DTMF decoders that were the limiting resources, so placing a call cost them resources but maintaining it cost them nothing.

  35. RBT wrote:

    “Ah, you guys and your new-fangled equipment. I still have a USR 9600 or two around here from back in the days when I ran a multi-line BBS. Actually, I just looked and I also still have a PP 14.4.”

    Somewhere I have a ZIP drive and 40 or so 100 MB ZIP disks. Somewhere…

    Not used since about 1999.

    I have a shirt somewhere that will eventually fit me again if I keep losing weight. It was fairly snug in 1976 when I was a bit lighter. I don’t think even I would dare to wear this shirt in public, it’s kinda LOUD. But I love it. Hope mum didn’t use it for cleaning rags.

    “I dialed in one day and stayed connected for a year and a half.”

    You seem to get a lot of power outages there. Didn’t you lose the connection for that reason?

    Brad wrote:

    “Remember the joy of putting a phone handset into the rubber cups?”

    I’m old enough to have seen acoustic couplers but never used one myself. I’m young enough never to have seen paper tape but have used punch cards. Learned my trade on cards, and in third year in 1979 was allowed to use terminals and store my data online. Oh bliss!

    All Hail INTERCOM! All Hail NOS/BE! All Hail CDC! All Hail Seymour Cray!

  36. I remember when 56K was cool.

    I drooled over a 2400 baud modem. Up until that time I had a Hayes 1200 baud and even that was the envy of many others stuck with 300 baud modems. But all we had was text and no graphics. You could fill a 80×24 screen fairly quickly at 1200 baud.

    For work I was issued one of these http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silent_700

    Dialed into a B-6700 and would edit my Algol programs using CANDE. I was in heaven when I got an actual terminal on my desk that I could use to edit programs. But I still used the Silent 700 for several months after that to fix problems without having to go into to work.

  37. CANDE! That’s a word I haven’t heard in about 30 years. I studied at an institution which had a B-6700 running MCP. Learned some Algol (the OS was written in Algol, I’m told). That place wasn’t enlightened enough to have CDC gear, but at least they didn’t use IBM.

    A woman I know complained about having to write programs at the same institution using mark sense cards. I don’t envy her.

  38. You seem to get a lot of power outages there. Didn’t you lose the connection for that reason?

    Yeah, a power outage was the reason the nailed-up connection dropped after 18 months. I had enough UPS to keep the PC and modem up for more than an hour without mains power, and for 18 months we didn’t have an outage that lasted that long.

  39. the OS was written in Algol, I’m told

    If memory serves me correctly the OS was written in ESPOL, a derivative of Algol with some extensions that the OS needed to get to the hardware level. This was later changed to NEWP which got rid of the some of the little used items of Algol and added some additional security in the language so that unsafe constructs were blocked unless specifically allowed.

    DCAlgol was another extension of Algol that was primarily used for data communications. Another extension was DMAlgol which was used for manipulating databases with the appropriate extensions.

    I really liked that machine. An Algol program would compile in one pass, when the deck was finished reading, so was your compiled program if you had no errors. At a 1,000 cards a minute the card reader was the fastest of any reader available. Once we got enough disk to store the source compiles of a 24,000 line program took less than a minute.

    In my time on the B-6700 I developed a cross compiler that would take statements from a custom designed language, process and compile them on a B-6700 and produce B-3500 machine code. This was no easy task as the B-6700 was a word oriented machine and the B-3500 was a digit/byte oriented machine with variable length instructions. The resulting file could be loaded on a B-3500 and executed.

    Having spent some time on IBM and their OS (along with VTAM, RACF, CICS and some I cannot remember, which were nothing more than huge macros), in my opinion the B-6700 was much more developed, easier to use, easier to program and more flexible than IBM. All that kept those machines from surpassing IBM was the letters IBM. “No one ever got fired for recommending IBM” was the phrase I heard a lot.

    Of course a lot of that IBM vs Burroughs back then is a lot like the Apple/PC/Linux fan boy crowds today. Valid points from both sides with strengths and weaknesses.

  40. “paper tape and punch cards”

    I started on punch cards in high school, but by college it was terminals running off a Cyber 72. I saw paper tape, but never used it: some company donated a pile of scrap metal to my high school that used paper tape – useless, but I suppose they got a tax write-off or something.

    Actually, I’m really jealous of our IT guys – somewhere they unearthed a couple of boxes of punch cards, and use these for note paper. Cool, I’d love to do that, but I threw all mine away more than 20 years ago. Have you seen what punch cards sell for on eBay?

  41. Hm, I probably have a very small number of punch cards somewhere – to boot the tape drives so my then employer’s Cybers (gone to their reward many years ago – may peace and blessings be upon them) could read mag tapes. I never thought they’d be worth much. I remember leaving a 2000 card box out for the garbage 30 years ago – the garbos opened the box, scattered a few around and took the rest. Probably priceless now.

    I did find some Fortran and Compass assembler coding sheets. Wonder if they’re worth anything… 🙂

  42. @JLP down in my home state, the wonderful Commonwealth of Maffachufetts:

    I agree with those who recommend the .22 as a starter; Bob’s for that Colt is very good but again your situation down there would seem to be problematic, to say the least. I was born and grew up there and saw the firearms restrictions get worse over the decades, along with pretty much everything else. Long, long story, that I won’t continue to bore anyone with here.

    Anyway, I got Mrs. OFD a Ruger single-action .22LR revolver, blued, with 5.5″ barrel, and a conversion cylinder for .22 Magnum. This would seem to be just the ticket for learning the fundamentals of handgun shooting and is recommended by police officers we’ve talked to around the country and ex-cops like me. Also, naturally, by one of the top range instructors at Ruger itself, who just put out a series on YouTube covering single-action revolver defense tactics.

    I would look into the specific MA firearms laws, regulations and local ordinances first of all, and then consider looking into a purchase in another state for what you want. I would also recommend the gun shows for that purpose and private sales. Follow the laws governing transportation to and from firing ranges and the like, and if confronted by pesky neo-Calvinist buttinsky Authorities, you got the firearm from a now deceased family member ages ago or whatever; use your imagination.

    And my condolences on your state of residence; I moved away for good sixteen years ago and now live in Vermont, where we have no firearms laws; that’s right, zero. But like you, I have deep ties back there; my entire family of mom, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc, former colleagues, friends, the list goes on. Had to move though; got married up here and couldn’t stand the crowding, the noise, the traffic, the expense, the taxes, and the constant intrusion by government, not to mention the prevailing hard-Left/librul zeitgeist.

  43. You guys used to be able to hear your Internet connections?

    Crazy. 😛

  44. Yeah, us old fahts could hear the connections; they sounded pretty nasty, too; a lot of screeches and high-pitched whines and static and suchlike. Then a steady buzz sometimes. Life was hahd then, youngster!

  45. The “silent 700” mentioned before was a totally cool box at 300 baud. Dad used to bring his home at night and let me try take the univac 1108 to it’s knees. The acoustic coupler was cool too.

  46. You had carrier pigeons? We had to train trilobites. And we were grateful!

  47. Well, the carrier pigeons came much, much later. Originally, single-cell organisms were the only carriers available, so that’s what we used.

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