Beware of Engineers with Screwdrivers

Sometimes I really hate my job.

I’m an engineer by profession. I’ve got the State license and everything. I’ve got a customer’s machine that refuses to behave. It’s got a (Star Trek Technobabble Alert!) single-ended 1024ppr quadrature encoder on it that yeilds 129 pulses per inch – most of the time. Except occasionally when moving in one direction, it will drop some counts. Like several inches worth. And since we’re trying to measure to 1/64″ accuracy, that’s not a good thing.

The encoder is connected to an Allen-Bradley high-speed counter card that just counts, 0-999, then rolls over. The counter card communicates with an Allen-Bradley PLC 5/20 processor that totalizes the count. There are three other IDENTICAL encoders on the machine, and they all work hunky-dory. We’ve changed the encoder, we’ve changed the high-speed counter card, today we changed the CABLE.

It’s still thumbing its nose at us.

(Edited to add: It’s not mechanical, either. Rack & pinion gearing, positive keyed zero slip coupling. Anybody got a chicken to sacrifice?)

UPDATE! Problem solved! Of course, after the fact it was something simple, and blindingly obvious – the 5VDC power supply was only putting out 3.5V – just barely enough to make the encoder card work – most of the time.

Engineers with screwdrivers? Should be engineers with voltmeters.

Dept. of Our Collapsing Schools

Connie du Toit has an excellent post up on the state of education in this country – the difference between learning versus memorizing, and much, much more.

I forwarded it to my sister, who is a math and science teacher, for comment.

If you have children, you need to read this. If you don’t, you need to read it to understand why we’re graduating people who are essentially illiterate ignorants.

Oh Yeah, Gun Control is a Critical Issue

Thanks to Ravenwood, I just discovered that the Million Moms March organization had a gathering at the West Palm Beach City Hall to commemorate national ASK Day.

Four (4) people came.

Yup, those Democratic Presidential hopefuls really need to beat the gun-control drum so they can reach their electoral base.

Another “Bankrupt the Gun Manufacturers & Dealers” Lawsuit Bites the Dust

According to the Associated Press, Appeals court affirms dismissal of state’s lawsuit against gun makers

June 24, 2003, 5:59 PM EDT

NEW YORK — A Manhattan appeals court Tuesday affirmed a lower court’s dismissal of a lawsuit in which the state accused gun makers of knowingly contributing to the “flood of illegal guns” in New York that result in injuries or death.

The Appellate Division of state Supreme Court found 3-1 that it was “legally inappropriate, impractical and unrealistic” to require the gun makers to take unspecified steps to lessen the availability and criminal use of handguns.

State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer (hawk, spit) sued members of the gun industry in 2001. He alleged that they had created a public nuisance by knowingly distributing firearms in a way that put large numbers of guns in the hands of people who use them illegally.

And really massive numbers into the hands of people who use them legally, and that’s what really bothers you, Spitz, isn’t it?

“Defendants know that a significant portion of their guns become crime guns but turn a blind eye so as to increase profits, at the cost of many human lives and much human suffering,” Spitzer said in his original complaint.

State Supreme Court Justice Louis York ruled Aug. 10, 2001, that Spitzer had presented insufficient evidence to support his claim that nine gun manufacturers, 12 wholesalers and three importers had violated the state’s public nuisance law.

York, finding the state’s case failed to link the gun industry directly to the public nuisance, wrote, “it is obvious that the parties most directly responsible for the unlawful use of handguns are the individuals who unlawfully use them.”

“We agree and affirm,” the appeals judges wrote.

How about that – logic and reason from two New York courts.

They said the defendants were engaged in “the lawful manufacture, marketing and sale of a defect-free product in a highly regulated activity (!!!) far removed from the downstream, unlawful use of handguns.”

The appeals judges said it would be impractical for the courts to try to regulate the gun industry.

Not to mention, illegal. The making of laws is restricted to the legislative branch, not the judicial branch.

The legislative and executive branches of government might be “better suited to address the societal problems” at issue in this case, the appellate majority wrote.

And you fail there, every time.

Juanita Scarlett, a spokeswoman for Spitzer, said, “We believe that the court misapplied certain doctrinal principles. We are considering an appeal.”

Let’s see, you’ve been slapped down by a State court, then bitch-slapped by the Appeals court, but you’re going to appeal again.

Another example of the bottomless pockets of the State (financed by the citizens) trying to punish the gun manufacturers and distributors financially through the court system because they cannot accomplish what they want in the legislature.

Lawyers for the gun manufacturers could not be reached by telephone for comment.

At the rates they charge, I hope not.

Spitzer’s lawsuit was similar to one brought in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The civil rights group alleged that gun makers knew corrupt dealers were selling firearms to criminals in minority communities and did nothing to stop it.

This was another of the nine lawsuits so far thrown out or defeated out of something around 33 that have been filed.

Then there’s the case of Bryco manufacturing losing a lawsuit when a moron failed the first rule of gun safety and didn’t keep a gun pointed in a safe direction. A babysitter, trying to unload a Bryco .380 took the gun off safe to clear the chamber (just as you must with a 1911) and PUT HIS FINGER ON THE TRIGGER. The gun discharged and 16 year-old Brandon Maxfield was struck in the jaw. The jury found Bryco liable for $50.9 MILLION.

Bryco makes crappy guns, but that one wasn’t defective. It worked as it was designed to.

Bryco is also being sued in New Mexico for what amouts to the same thing. The Brady Center (hawk, spit) reports that both Bryco (manufacturer) and Jennings (distributor) should be held liable for making handguns that can be accidentally fired by children. Their argument: the Jennings J-22 doesn’t have a magazine disconnect. Again, neither does a 1911. And the magazine disconnect is usually one of the first things removed from a Browning Hi Power in order to give it a better trigger pull. I don’t think Glocks have a magazine disconnect, do they? (I’m not a Glock fan.)

As far as Brady and the VPC and the rest are concerned, if it can go “BANG!” it’s too dangerous for anyone outside of the government to have.

Interestingly, there’s some retaliatory action going on. Valor Corp., the distributor that was found to be 5% at fault when 13 year-old Nathaniel Brazill shot teacher Barry Grunow with a .25 caliber Raven that had been purchased several years before, has had the $1.2 million judgment against it thrown out. Brazill STOLE the gun from a family friend (found 50% responsible – the school district was found to be 45% responsible. The shooter was apparently not responsible at all, though he’s serving a 28 year sentence for the killing.) So, according to the Sun-Sentinel, Valor is suing the Grunow widow for court costs and legal fees.

Payback’s a bitch, ain’t it? You can bet the lawyer rich from the tobacco settlement that represented her last time won’t be available for this, and I doubt that the Brady Center will pay her bills, either.

Let’s get the lawsuit pre-emption bill passed and signed and end this crap. If a gun manufacturer really makes a defective product, they can still be sued for product liability, but if it works as designed there should be no lawsuit.



1) Support S. 659 and

2) Defeat a filibuster of the bill.

E-MAIL your Senators.

WRITE or FAX your Senators

CALL your Senators via the Capitol Switchboard at: 202-224-3121.

Please contact your Senator today, and help keep the rights of gun owners intact!

Comments Are Functional

But I’ve switched services, so all the old comments are, unfortunately, gone.

Sorry about that. But this site is only six weeks or so old, and there weren’t that many comments anyway. Hopefully Haloscan will be more reliable. (It’s free too, so I won’t hold my breath.)

Back from the Casa Grande Shoot

We knocked off early due to the increasing heat and had lunch at Famous Sam’s, but a great time was had by all.

I got to set off the one tannerite charge (one shot, thank you,) and I found out that the 1917 Enfield makes a pretty decent skeet gun. (No kidding! I have witnesses!)

I’ve gotta do some more of that!

Still have quite a bit of ammo left, but not a single round of .30-06.

I plan on taking care of THAT little problem shortly.

Open Mouth, Insert Foot, Shoot Foot

Day by Day, it just keeps getting better…

(Off to the Casa Grade shoot. I’ll write about it later. I’ve got 450 rounds of .223, about 200 rounds of .45, about 100 rounds of .30-06, and 200 rounds of .22. That ought to last until about noon, I hope.)

7,000 Hits

At 7:56 tonight, someone from the domain was my 7,000th visitor since I started running Sitemeter.

I started this blog May 14th. I believe I got sitemeter running a couple of days later.

7,000 hits in six weeks.


Sorry About the Light Posting

Life intrudes, you know. But, a quick one – today’s Friday Five:

1. How are you planning to spend the summer?


2. What was your first summer job?

I worked in a hobby/crafts shop. (I was seriously into building scale models at the time.)

3. If you could go anywhere this summer, where would you go?

The Florida Keys.

4. What was your worst vacation ever?

Last year’s. I didn’t get one.

5. What was your best vacation ever?

My honeymoon. In the Florida Keys.