What This Sailor Wants for Christmas

What This Sailor Wants for Christmas

Along with my personal blog, I write blogs for several other websites. This is a blog I recently wrote for a boating website client. 

–December 16, 2015

Christmas is in the air and Santa Claus has undoubtedly checked off “who’s naughty and who’s nice” on his annual gift list. And naturally most avid boaters received a “nice” check by their names. But now Santa has to figure out what to get these boater(s).

If the boaters on his list don’t already have one, Santa could always consider surprising them with a SlideMoor docking system. Barring that, the options are almost limitless. Boaters tend to love boating gear and all things “nautical,” and most keep a running list of “gear” they’d love to own. Boating gear is continuously evolving and new gear seems to enter the market throughout the year, as evidenced by boating magazines which tend to feature a “new gear” section in every issue. In short, there’s such a plethora of nautical gift options spanning all price ranges that Santa may feel overwhelmed trying to pick out the perfect gift for each of those boaters on his list.

So, Santa, to give you some inspiration let me tell you what this avid boater would like to find under his Christmas tree (and yes, I’ve been a very good boy this year):

  • SALCA (Sacrificial Anode Line Cutter Assembly)—Overall I don’t tend to run afoul of stray lines that get wrapped around the propeller, say in a mooring field or from wayward lobster or crab traps? But last April, right after launching…well, I got to find out what hypothermia is when I had to free the prop from an unmarked mooring line. Some line cutting systems are rather expensive, but Sea Shield Marine has apparently come up with a cost-effective, easy to install line cutter that is combined with a sacrificial anode to protect against corrosion.
  • Dyson DC34 Cordless Vacuum—A vacuum cleaner? Yes, Santa, most cruising sailboats are filled with nooks, crannies and wonky spaces that make cleaning them more difficult than cleaning the house. I’ve got a cordless vac, but it just doesn’t have enough power to get up all the crud, and from what I hear this Dyson model is one of the most powerful handheld vacuums available.
  • Nokero Solar Light Bulb—Power consumption is always of concern on my sailboat, and I am always pleased to find ways to conserve power. Thus, Nokero’s Solar Light Bulb, which can provide 20 lumens of light for up to four hours (10 lumens for seven hours) on a day’s solar charge, would be a hit. Then again, if you’re feeling really generous, you might consider getting me a complete solar power system for the boat.
  • AIS System—Speaking of generous (and I have been really good this year), I’ve been wanting an Automatic Identification System receiver for some time now. Prices have been coming down, and you’ll have the added satisfaction of knowing that you’re helping keep this sailor safe while he’s offshore.
  • Simrad Autopilot—In case you didn’t know, my autohelm bit the dust this fall. And while the wheel-mounted models work pretty well, Simrad’s AP24 cable-mounted system is reportedly the most sophisticated and efficient small-boat pilot on the market.
  • Inflatable Dinghy—Well, Santa, my Avon rubber Dinghy has been in the family now for more than 40 years and is starting to show her age. Or, more specifically, starting to lose her air….
  • Shannon 43—Speaking of age, my beautiful sailboat is nearing her 40th birthday, and, well, I’m just not sure she has it in her anymore to undertake that circumnavigation we’ve been dreaming about for so long. The Shannon line is the perfect boat for such a circumnavigation, and I’m pretty sure you could find a used one for me for a half-million dollars or so….

Oh, and have I mentioned how exceptionally good I’ve been this year?

Time for Muslim Americans to “Show Us the Money!”

Time for Muslim Americans to “Show Us the Money!”

—December 7, 2015

So, Muslims in Dearborn, Michigan yesterday marched in protest against ISIS, proclaiming the terrorist organization to be anti-Islam, and insisting that Islam is a religion of peace, justice and tolerance. It’s been on the CNN Headline News feed all morning, along with reports on last night’s “nothing new here, folks” address to the nation by President Obama.

Not sure why the Dearborn protestors are getting so much air play, given that only about 100 Muslims participated in the demonstration and march. If CNN were to add context to the story, say by showing how thoroughly underwhelming this protest truly was, then it might make sense. But no, CNN apparently believes that 100 demonstrators prove that American Muslims are obviously united in their opposition to ISIS and love for their adopted American country.

But are they?

With the largest proportion of Arab Americans of any U.S. city, Dearborn is referred to as the Islamic capital of America, and roughly 50 percent of the population identifies as Muslim. So, out of about 45,000 Muslim residents, less than three-tenths of a percent came out to show their support for America and opposition to ISIS.

Now this lack of Muslim support for the demonstration does not mean that the Muslims of Dearborn actually support ISIS, nor am I going to repeat the hyperbole of the right-wing press which claims that Dearborn is under Sharia Law, among numerous other alleged Islamic transgressions.

But I do believe that this underwhelming demonstration indicates a major disconnect between American Muslims and the rest of the country.

With every terrorist attack or ISIS atrocity, American Imams proclaim to the press that American Muslims do not support ISIS or terrorism, and that Islam is the religion of peace, tolerance and all things wonderful.

Allahu Akbar, baby! 

Other than that, though, Muslim Americans just don’t seem to be all that demonstrative about either their love for America nor their opposition to terrorism and ISIS.

And now that ISIS seems to be ramping up its war against America, isn’t it time for Muslim Americans to demonstrate where their allegiance lies? I applaud the 90 or so Muslims who demonstrated in Dearborn yesterday, but where were the rest of Dearborn’s Muslims?

A few years ago they came out by the thousands to protest the movie dearborn_local_muslim_protest“Innocence of Muslims,” a protest in which they demanded enactment of blasphemy laws that would make it illegal to criticize Islam and the prophet Muhammad.

Guess Dearborn’s Muslims are far more interested in curtailing the First Amendment than in showing their opposition to terrorism and ISIS.

If Muslim Americans truly believe Islam to be the religion of peace, tolerance, etc., and truly love their adopted land, well then, as Jerry Maguire says, “Show me the money!”

Forget “Gun” Control—How About “People” Control?

Forget “Gun” Control—How About “People” Control?

—December 3, 2015

With every mass shooting that happens in America gun control proponents amass more ammunition in their ongoing struggle to ban or otherwise restrict gun ownership and usage in the country. And yet, they keep shooting blanks….

I would posit that a large part of their problem lies with their emphasis on controlling guns rather than the people who use guns. It’s an inconvenient truth but: “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Two AR-15 semiautomatic rifles didn’t walk into the San Bernardino, California Inland Regional Center on their own accord yesterday and start shooting people. No, two obviously deranged people walked into that center for people with disabilities and shot up the place using AR-15 semiautomatic rifles.

Guess what? The two AR-15 semiautomatic rifles are not to blame. And yet that is what gun control proponents will fixate on, all but ignoring the people who actually fired those guns and slaughtered 14 innocent people.

Another inconvenient truth: “If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.” Take Washington, DC, which had the strictest gun control laws in the nation in the 1980s and early 1990s, and yet had among the highest gun violence per capita in the nation during that time. For quite a few years it was known as the nation’s “murder capital,” with handguns being the primary murder weapon of choice.  And gee, how could that be possible as Washington, DC had an outright prohibition (since annulled as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court) on the ownership of handguns? Guess the criminals weren’t too worried about the five-year prison sentence for possession of a handgun.

So, again I ask, why the emphasis on controlling “guns” rather than people? Here in my adopted country of Canada, the government in the late 1990s enhanced its already stringent control on guns with something known as the “long gun registry.” It turned into a billion-dollar boondoggle in which efficient bureaucrats (pardon the oxymoron) milked the taxpayer teat at a rate of about $255 (and continually rising) per registered gun.

The program, which was scrapped in 2013, was never proven to reduce gun violence. Canada’s auditor general, in reviewing the government’s performance report on the registry, determined that the report did not show how the registry minimized “risks to public safety with evidence-based outcomes such as reduced deaths, injuries and threats from firearms.” Law enforcement users of the registry were mixed in their feelings about its usefulness, with many departments believing the program to be ineffective in deterring gun violence, but useful for determining whether guns might be present in particular homes that they might be called to or were otherwise investigating.

A quick question: Which deadly weapon kills more Americans every year than guns?

Give up?

Automobiles.

Have you ever heard anyone talk about “automobile control?” No, and that’s because the emphasis isn’t on automobiles, but on the people who drive them. If someone wants to drive a car in America they have to be trained and licensed. There are different classes of license depending upon vehicles driven, and the license can be revoked if a driver fails to follow the rules of the road.

Why shouldn’t the use and ownership of guns be treated in a similar fashion? If someone wants to own or use a gun, he or she should be required to possess a valid license, based on passing a gun usage and safety class, not having any criminal convictions involving firearms, and not having any medical or psychological conditions that might preclude or limit the safe use of a firearm. A basic license would allow for the use or ownership of a standard rifle or shotgun, while other classes of the license would allow for use or ownership of handguns and/or semiautomatic rifles, based on even more stringent training and requirements.

Failure to have a license could result in impoundment of firearms, fines and other penalties; and criminals committing gun crimes without a valid firearms license would be subject to enhanced penalties such as extended prison terms.

Overall, the entire program could be modelled on state automobile licensing programs, and even be operated under their auspices, as they have existing infrastructure in place to operate such a program. State governments would just need to add new computer software and hire division of firearms officers to perform all the tasks that need to be done in the issuance of a license.

To ease the transition into the new licensing scheme, long-time, law-abiding gun owners could be grandfathered in without the need for the safety/training class, and the requirements to become licensed could be phased in over several years on an age-based process.

And those states reluctant to adopt firearms licensing programs could receive encouragement from the federal government, which can threaten appropriation of state highway funds or enact other encouraging measures.

So all you gun control proponents, think about it: why control the guns when you should be controlling the people who use them?