Letter to the editor on assault weapons

I sent this letter to the editor to the N&O today. I hope it gets printed.

I served four years in the U.S. Navy never having heard an AK-47. Then a week ago, hotheads brought their gun battle to my neighborhood. It became crystal clear hearing that cannon-like booming that these assault rifles are nothing less than weapons of war.

There is no justification for anyone outside of the military or law enforcement to posses assault weapons. Can we get to the well-regulated part of our “well-regulated militia” now?

Man who brought gun to NCGA expressed far-right views

Update 2019-08-14: I have been pondering Friday’s arrest of Abe Zeiger for bringing a gun into the North Carolina General Assembly and it’s possible that I was wrong about his intentions. Yes, I certainly did find a number of gun-themed and seemingly anti-government posts on his Facebook page but to be fair, these were all forwarded and not authored by Zeiger himself. Other photos portray Zeiger as a family man and I found no evidence that things weren’t going well with his life. I am sorry if I misinterpreted the digital breadcrumbs I was able to piece together.

On the other hand, I hope he sees how someone could draw this conclusion. The Bundy item was especially disturbing – celebrating the pointing weapons at law enforcement officers is no joke – and what’s more it wasn’t even remotely truthful. To repost this on Facebook a week before showing up at the state legislature with a pistol and 30 rounds is enough to put a community on edge.

Any why was the gun in his bag when he didn’t have a concealed carry permit (CCP)? Why didn’t he declare the gun when asked by officers at

While his intentions could have been completely innocent when he showed up with a gun, the truth is that no one could know that for certain. It only takes seconds for a mass shooting to occur and officers don’t have the luxury of trust.

Zeiger could very well be a stand-up guy, just trying to do the right thing. If so, I applaud his intentions though I’d rather he left the “good guy with the gun” role to law enforcement. At the same time, he made a big mistake by not removing his weapon before entering a secured building, and for carrying a weapon around in his bag without possessing a CCP. While I am not as concerned as I once was that he may be a threat to society, there is no getting around the fact that he was not being responsible with his gun.

Abe Zeiger

On Friday afternoon, a man was arrested at the North Carolina General Assembly for trying to sneak in a 9mm pistol and two magazines of 15 rounds apiece. The man, Abraham James Zeiger, age 36, was charged with unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon and violating legislative building rules. The story by Lauren Horsch in the N&O quoted the N.C. State Capitol Police as expressing surprise at their catching Zeiger as he was not on their radar, so to speak. The General Assembly implemented stricter security measures at the General Assembly in April of last year.

“I can’t be more pleased with the (screening) process,” General Assembly Police Chief Martin Brock said of the security measures that caught the gun. “It could have easily been missed.”

Since this story took place on a Friday afternoon – a time when news stories tend to get lost in the lull of the weekend – there didn’t seem to be many in the media who were asking just who is Zeiger? Also since I happen to know several people who work in the General Assembly, I wanted to know what might have motivated Zeiger and what he may have been planning to do with that gun. It didn’t take me long to find the answers.
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Newly Discovered Cellular Pathway May Mean New Approach For How We Treat Alzheimer’s and Cancer

They started out studying the immune response to brain tumors in children. But what they found may not only stop tumors from growing, but halt Alzheimer’s disease as well. Scientists at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital—the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children—have discovered a pathway that prevents the buildup of a toxic protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The findings offer a possible new approach to treatment of Alzheimer’s and cancer.

Researchers of the study—published this month in the journal Cell—named the pathway LC3-associated endocytosis or LANDO. They hope to now find compounds that will allow them to restore functioning of the pathway to treat Alzheimer’s disease or block it to treat malignant tumors.

Source: Newly Discovered Cellular Pathway May Mean New Approach For How We Treat Alzheimer’s and Cancer

We Should Never Have Called It Earth – The On Being Project

We should never have called it Earth. Three quarters of the planet’s surface is saltwater, and most of it does not lap at tranquil beaches for our amusement. The ocean is deep; things are lost at sea. Sometimes we throw them there: messages in bottles, the bodies of mutinous sailors, plastic bags of plastic debris. Our sewage.

Sometimes the things we lose slip unnoticed down the sides of passing ships. We expect never to see lost objects again, but every so often they are carried by shifting currents and swirling eddies to wash ashore on distant beaches. We are reminded that things, once submerged, have a habit of returning.

I am not afraid of the ocean, although I should be. On hot summer weekends I take my son to the beach. He toddles toward the water, laughs at the lazy waves splashing his fat baby legs. I follow behind, turn him back when the water reaches his naked belly. He is too young to know the sea gets deeper, that eventually it rises above your head and you must swim so as not to drown. I am prepared for nightmares as he grows and learns about the vastness of the ocean and the monsters real and imagined that swim there. He will soon know that evil things lurk in the deep.

Source: We Should Never Have Called It Earth – The On Being Project

The Navy’s journey from racial segregation to equality

In the spring of 1945, at age 17, I volunteered for the U.S. Navy.

Nazi Germany had surrendered, but World War II was still raging in the Pacific as the Americans closed in on Japan’s home islands. Kamikaze planes were diving into ships, killing sailors by the dozens.

Most of my thoughts and feelings were with those embattled men 5,000 miles away. When I enlisted, I had no idea I was about to participate in a historic experience that in some ways would prove more momentous than the final struggle against the Axis powers.

Orders from the Navy directed me to report to New York’s Pennsylvania Station, where I boarded a train with other new recruits that took us upstate to boot camp at the Sampson Naval Training Station. Soon after we arrived, we were divided into companies and marched to our barracks, as Seneca Lake gleamed in the distance.

A chief boatswain’s mate led me and some 150 other would-be swabbies to our barracks and checked off our names as we hefted seabags and settled into the spartan interior — where everyone got a shock. We were an integrated company — a third black, two-thirds white.

Without announcing it, the Navy was launching a program to upend the prevailing race-relations formula in the United States — separate but (supposedly) equal.

Source: The Navy’s journey from racial segregation to equality

Jeffrey Epstein’s travel patterns revealed by public flight data – INSIDER

This kind of article includes so many of my interests: tracking bad guys by combing through crowdsourced, open data.

I maintain an ADS-B receiver, too, and track planes in the Triangle area on a real-time basis but I need to start stuffing this information into a database so I can keep it long-term.

As reporters and federal prosecutors turned the screws on Jeffrey Epstein over the past two years, the notorious money manager and sex felon appears to have enjoyed a globetrotting lifestyle that involved weekly flights between his properties in New York, New Mexico, Florida, the US Virgin Islands, and Paris, as well as occasional excursions to the United Kingdom, Slovakia, and Morocco.

This account of Epstein’s travels is based on two years of flight data associated with two of his Gulfstream airliners. Without detailed passenger manifests, it’s impossible to know whether Epstein was present on each individual flight. In the aggregate, however, the flight records illustrate an improbably lavish life, and raise further questions about how he earned and spent his fortune.

Source: Jeffrey Epstein’s travel patterns revealed by public flight data – INSIDER

Watch as the Ridgecrest earthquake shatters desert floor in stunning before-and-after images – Los Angeles Times

It’s pretty amazing to see an earthquake’s effects captured in one GIF.

Millions felt the shaking from the Ridgecrest earthquake.
But new satellite images offer a dramatic and instructive view of the immense power of the magnitude 7.1 quake, showing how California’s biggest earthquake in nearly two decades caused the ground to break.

Animated slides show how the quake permanently jolted a huge block of earth northwest while the other side of the fault moved southeast.

Some of the clearest images show long scars on the surface of the Mojave Desert, indicating precisely the 30 miles of earthquake fault — oriented in a northwest-southeast direction — that moved within moments on July 5.

“I’ve never seen this before,” said Brian Olson, engineering geologist with the California Geological Survey. “It’s really dramatic and a super-good illustrator, even for the advanced scientists, all the way down to the grade-school kids.”

Source: Watch as the Ridgecrest earthquake shatters desert floor in stunning before-and-after images – Los Angeles Times

Navy Answers How a 57-Year-Old Maverick Could Still Feel the Need for Speed – USNI News

Maverick flying 33 years later? File this under “unlikely.”

Late last week, as the official motion picture trailer for “Top Gun: Maverick” raced around social media, among the questions without easy answer was how was Pete “Maverick” Mitchell still feeling the need for speed as a 57-year-old captain with 30-plus years of service?

Paramount Pictures hasn’t released much about the plot of what will presumably be a summer 2020 blockbuster, and all fans have to go on are film industry site IMDB and what’s in the trailer released last week. However, the trailer addresses how odd it would be to have a captain in his late 50s when his peer group would have either made flag officer or hit the statutory retirement of 30 years of service.

In the trailer, Ed Harris’ character, an unidentified rear admiral, gives a brief overview of Maverick’s career.

“Thirty-plus years of service. Combat medals, citations, the only man to shoot down three enemy planes in the last 40 years. Yet you can’t get a promotion, you won’t retire, and despite your best efforts you refuse to die,” he said.

“You should be at least a two-star admiral by now. Yet here you are. Captain. Why is that?”

Could a real-world Capt. Mitchell still fly missions 33 years after audiences first saw the iconic naval aviator buzz control towers in the 1986 blockbuster “Top Gun”?

Source: Navy Answers How a 57-Year-Old Maverick Could Still Feel the Need for Speed – USNI News

How did Kim Jong Un get his Mercedes-Benzes? – CNN Style

On June 14, 2018, two armored Mercedes-Maybach S600 Guard vehicles were shipped from the Dutch Port of Rotterdam, heading out on a journey that would take months and see the cars transported thousands of miles through six countries, according to a new report from the Washington-based Center for Advanced Defense Studies (C4ADS).

After stops in China, Japan, South Korea and Russia, the two cars — each worth about $500,000 — are believed to have been flown to their final destination, Pyongyang. And in the North Korean capital, there’s only one customer who likely requires this type of ride.

The origin and journey of the two Mercedes luxury vehicles were exposed in the C4ADS report. CNN has not independently verified C4ADS’ reporting.

Source: How did Kim Jong Un get his Mercedes-Benzes? – CNN Style

How a Flock of Birds Can Fly and Move Together | Audubon

Many birds flock, of course. But only a relative handful really fly together, creating what University of Rhode Island biologist Frank Heppner, in the 1970s, proposed calling “flight flocks”: namely, highly organized lines or clusters. Pelicans, geese, and other waterfowl form lines and Vs, presumably to take advantage of aerodynamic factors that save energy. But the most impressive flockers are arguably those that form large, irregularly shaped masses, such as starlings, shorebirds, and blackbirds. They often fly at speeds of 40 miles or more per hour, and in a dense group the space between them may be only a bit more than their body length. Yet they can make astonishingly sharp turns that appear, to the unaided eye, to be conducted entirely in unison. Imagine doing unrehearsed evasive maneuvers in concert with all the other fast-moving drivers around you on an expressway, and you get an idea of the difficulty involved.

No wonder observers have been left groping for an explanation. When Heppner, now semi-retired, began studying pigeon flocks more than 30 years ago, he suggested that they communicate through some sort of neurologically based “biological radio.”

Source: How a Flock of Birds Can Fly and Move Together | Audubon