I don't mean to offend. It's probably going to happen anyway.

Monday, December 23, 2013

AMAC

Many of the various mailing lists I have found my way onto are entirely appropriate. Various sundry gunny and conservative mailings make their way to me. This one though, is a bit odd.

I have no beef with the Association of Mature American Citizens, but telling me to "Tear up my AARP membership card" is perhaps a failure of targeted advertising.

Maybe I'm crazy, but I thought one had to enter the workforce before one could retire from it...

I dearly hope everyone's holiday of choice has been going well for them, and I wish you all a very merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Case of the Dumbs

I've been having all sorts and flavors of insightful constitutional discussions and debates over the morality of bioluminescent humans and video games, but it never seems to come out right when I try to write it up here.

I seem to have a selective case of the Dumbs.

While I'm working on that though, Jennifer has managed quite a nice one two punch with her last two posts. Dang I wish I'd written those. Go read her free ice cream, and I might have some free frozen dairy dessert later.

Done with finals now, so hopefully that's gonna be sooner rather than later. I might even write up my Constitutional Law study guide, because dang that is interesting stuff.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Self absorption

The CNN talking heads are discussing whether 'our' generation is the most self absorbed one. I don't care enough to read the closed captions on it, but all I can say is that if you are asking that question, odds are at least you are that self obsessed.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Trolls

*sigh*

I've had to delete my very first comment here for grand mal douchery. It seems my Lesson Time post has garnered some minor internet attention. (Hey everyone by the way, the free ice cream is sporadic and often weirdly flavored, but hey, it's free.)

An anonymous commenter decided that I was a corporate whore shilling for CTD.* Said critter said so in a comment that made me sad, not in the name calling, but in the lack of misspellings to make fun of. If you're gonna make an ass of yourself here, at least go all out and allow me to make fun of you.**

You will not see this comment on the post anymore, nor will I copy said critters words verbatim. That's more credit than I care to give them.

If you cannot contribute to the conversation, I kindly invite you to sit over here and hold this cloth under your chin. Drool is surprisingly irksome to clean out of the carpets.

If you insist on 'contributing' anyways, but refuse to claim your words as your own, hiding behind the mask of anonymity, I'm afraid you'll have to be patient for a while. The spike pit is done, as is the wasp tunnel, but the release mechanism on the trapdoor is finicky. I'm planning on scrapping it and starting over soon, but you know how these things go...



I have no problem with being called out for my opinions and positions. In point of fact, I really want that to happen when I'm out of line. It helps me to refine my thinking and stay consistent. I do have a problem with drive by cowards who can neither put in the effort to discuss like a proper human being nor have the decency to own their words.

And finally, if you're going to be rude or offensive, at least make it interesting. Rude, offensive AND boring is just getting scrapped. Rude, offensive and entertaining? That's blog fodder, and I really need practice at mockery.


And just to be clear, I am not really distributor loyal at all. I go where the best value is (not just best price, best value, but that's a discussion for another time.)  CTD does not offend my delicate constitution with their actions. If they have the best value on something, sure. I'll buy from them. I won't go out of my way either to buy from them or not to buy from them. This is the sort of ringing endorsement that makes someone a whore? Maybe I should start making endorsement deals. I do indifference well.



*I'm not, but hey, if CTD wants to chuck a hundred grand at me in exchange for some advertising? Heck yeah, sign me up.
**To those who get upset by this, I'm JOKING. Mostly.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Scout rifle

Idle thought exercise. How would you go about making a 91/30 into a scout rifle? M44 would also be acceptable but less desirable.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Lesson Time

This is the sort of post I wish I would never have to write, but it's been an issue cropping up recently.

Let's talk about netiquette and ideological purges, shall we?

Tam has recently been dealing with a comment troll who makes claims of bloody murder and censorship when his comments are deleted, deriding the death of the first amendment. The same claims are turning up on the Second Amendment Foundation's Facebook when comments about their ongoing relationship with Cheaper Than Dirt get deleted for offensiveness and obscenity.

Let's take a look at the First Amendment.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The important bit here is the independent clause, ''Congress shall make no law''. The dependent clause ''abridging the freedom of speech'' is the specific case.

This next bit, I address to all those who are or have ever been butthurt about comments being deleted. The First Amendment to the Constitution is a restriction (NOT an active imperative) on Congress. It has absolutely no bearing on the interactions between individuals or corporations. Congress can't delete your comments, but Tam or SAF most certainly can.

So, your comments can be deleted free of penalty other than public opinion. How then can you make your voice heard without The Man keeping you down? How can you speak truth to power when you have no voice?

It's quite simple. Don't be a jerk.

I suppose you could put together your own site where you're in charge and you can write whatever you want to and no one will stop you. Lots of good blogs get started that way. Many more half baked crazy blogs get started that way. In order to get readers to pay attention, really, you're going to have to go back to that first point anyways.

There are sites that will delete comments for simply disagreeing. Those sites are generally not worth your time. Tam and SAF are not among them. If your comment gets deleted, it's because you were a giant douche canoe, not because of ideology.  If you don't see how your comment could be construed as jerkish, then please, go outside, play with a puppy, and realize that you are not the only human on the internet.

This sorta brings me into my next point of order. This one extends to far more than those commenters previously addressed.

I am seeing an alarming and frustrating trend recently I have been calling "Shun the non-believer". We in the gunny community have a nasty tendency to eat our own for not being ideologically pure enough.

Remington not committing to leave New York* after the SAFE Act made a number of people swear off Remington entirely, since clearly 'they didn't care about gun rights'.

Cheaper Than Dirt raised prices and temporarily suspended gun sales after Newtown. Clearly just in it for the money and didn't care at all about gun rights, right?

The NRA can't catch a break on criticisms.

Don't get me started on the OC/CC flame wars.

If I were in the position of CTD, I probably would have acted differently. I think the guys who walk into Starbucks with rifles slung over their shoulders are phenomenally stupid. I think Remington was put in an untenable position and probably could have handled the PR a little better.

I don't hate any of them.

I will still buy products from CTD. My first pistol may be a Remington. Heck, I might buy it from CTD. I can have civil discussions with the rifle OC'ers.

Fundamentally we are all on the same side. We have different approaches and different primary goals, but we all have the commonality of interest in guns and a vested interest in the continued existence of the gun culture.

Even Dick Metcalf's meltdown recently was not outside of the realm of reason. I disagree fairly strongly, but feel it could have been used to foster debate about it and maybe bring people of that mindset or even further away into the fold. Instead, he's out a job and we have alienated more people.

Screaming SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED is the sort of thing that shouldn't be a problem, but is. There's a range of different opinions on all the issues in question, and it's senseless to eat our own based on the slightest hint of ideological differences.

Do I believe that my ideologies are right? Absolutely, else I wouldn't hold them. That doesn't mean I cannot work with and respect other opinions.

The vitriol and infighting can only hurt us. While it's a great notion that we could put on a unified face to the world, that's not the way the world works and leads to the same oppressive techniques we find so despicable in government.

While our ideological purges may not leave 20 million people dead like those of Stalinist Russia, they leave us with no allies and a somewhat tarnished moral high ground.

Take what friends you can. Don't make yourself new enemies. This really shouldn't be that hard.


*Not committing to staying in New York, mind.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Because I can't come up with new words

"We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm." -- Winston Churchill

It may be misquoted, warped, and misunderstood to the point of having difficult if not impossible attribution, but that doesn't make it any less right. Freedom isn't free.

By all means give the veterans a day. My one complaint with Veteran's Day is that it is only one day. Those men and women are deserving of our thanks and admiration. Let them know you appreciate it, today and every day.

And for those of you who can, join them. This country needs its protectors.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Puppy Love

I had a bitter rant that was supposed to go here, but this seems like a rather happier thing.

Most of you have probably heard from Tam or Atomic Nerds or some other party, but the Nerds have a bit of a conundrum. They breed Akitas, and one of the recent litter has a bit of a medical whoopsie to deal with.

Having three giant akitas to deal with already, the Nerds are not able to give Major the home she deserves. As such, they have been trying to find a willing, good home.

Enter Farmgirl. Having met her, I can attest to just how much she cares about her creatures. She's all gung ho to get a new critter into the house, especially one she can help with the medical upsets. However, while the enthusiasm is there, the money is not. Surgery, medicines, and transportation costs are going to cost a decent chunk of change.

Given that this is the internet, a place where I constantly wonder whether the altruism or perversion is more amazing, Farmgirl has set up a YouCaring drive to help fund this critter. I know there are a number of you out there who are always willing to help if you can, and this is a perfect way. I don't know of anyone who thinks that giving a sick puppy a good home is not a good cause.

I know times are hard and funds are tight, but if you've got a few bucks to spare, anything helps. Go here to donate.

If you can't put down the money right now, at least spread the word a little. If ten thousand people each donated a dollar, yadda yadda.

I am always stunned and humbled by the generosity and kindness of this community. Let's show it again for a good cause!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

On the twenty-second day of the tenth month...

For those who follow Scribbler's scrawlings, today is a rather momentous day for the Scribbler.

Birthday. Big one, too. Scribbler is 21 today, which means he can legally drink alcohol, though he does not by personal preference. He can also exercise his second amendment rights with a handgun, a right he was denied for the first three years of his adulthood.

Having known him for a time, I can assure you that he is precisely the kind of citizen the founding fathers had in mind when drafting both the constitution and the bill of rights - for he is an ethical, intelligent, liberty loving American. I can also assure you that he is the current regime's worst nightmare, for exactly the same reasons.

Happy Birthday, Scribbler. It's been a privilege growing up with you!

-ScribblersDad.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Seen in a hipster coffee shop

When the view from the green pleather armchair in the expensive coffee shop attached to the bookstore includes this...
..you may be in Texas.

Have I mentioned how much I like this state?

Left Secret Location, Colorado yesterday after a weekend of great firearms and fabulous company. Now I need a nap.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Possum Cops

Alternative title 'WHO pulled you over?'

I am currently in a hotel room in an undisclosed location en route to an even less disclosed location for Blogorado. Despite a rather terrible cold, I picked Gay Cynic up at the airport and we drove on to meet up with everybody's favorite copper headed copper, Lawdog.

While the company alone would make it an interesting night, a pair of events on the road lent a somewhat surreal tone to the evening.

Before tonight, I had never been pulled over by the police. I am a careful, safe driver overall, and I try to stay in the good graces of the Boys in Blue.

Now I have been pulled over twice.

Earlier this week, I went to a Jiffy Lube. The guys there came in at one point looking rather confused. They had run my plate, and come up with a 2002 Nissan Maxima. While I do drive a 2002 vehicle, a Dodge Dakota does not jive well with Nissan Maxima.

Considering the newness of the truck (to me at least) I chalked it up to an old record lingering in the Jiffy Lube system and went on my merry way.

Imagine my surprise when the first cop to pull me over came up and said my license should have belonged to, you guessed it, a 2002 Nissan Maxima.

It eventually transpired that Illinois does something weird, imagine that. All personal trucks are licensed as 'B Trucks'. As such, in order to run the plate, you have to add B to the end. This is not known to anyone outside of Illinois, and isn't well known in the state either.

Illinois is weird.

The second stop came about half an hour later. Once again the red and blues go off in the rear view, and I pull over expecting the same issue again.

Up walks a guy in a green uniform, who tells me that the license plate holder is obstructing the state name on the plate. (I looked later, and about the top third of the 'I' and the very tips of the ls were covered)

Gay Cynic enquired as to which agency he worked with, to which he replied 'The Federal Forestry Service'.

Did you know the forestry service can pull people over on a state highway during a government shutdown? Apparently they can't, according to the esteemed Lawdog. He, being the gentleman and scholar he is, has done a bit of looking to see what was going on there. Apparently things are not making sense as they should. I am somewhat curious to see how that all plays out.

In the meantime, I'm on my way to blogorado and Life is Good. 


*Names will be links once I get on my computer proper.*

Friday, October 4, 2013

Credit Where Credit Is Due

Readers at this point will likely know that I am, to put it simply, no great fan of our current President.  I find him repugnant, and his policies more so in most cases.

All the same, I hold idealogical consistency to be somewhat more important than my personal feelings towards him.

He has just ordered $45M spent on the creation of 356 armed school resource officer positions, including 2 to go to Newtown.

I am not sure that he is going about it in the right way, and it does seem odd to add expenses during the shutdown, but still. I see this as a major move in the right direction worthy of respect. Not everything that comes off his desk is evil, stupid, or just plain wrong.

Just most of it.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Ponderable

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." -- C.S. Lewis

Monday, September 30, 2013

Kilted to Kick Cancer

Today is the last day for the 2013 KTKC drive. The results so far are good, but could be a lot better. There's a great many people working at this, who have gone around all month wearing kilts. Go, donate to your favorite cheerleader and help make a difference. Who knows, you might even win some of the awesome swag different people have put up.

I personally donated through the Evyl Robot himself. No offense to any of the other gentlemen who have participated of course.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Extortion

You know, often when I get into political stuff here, I bring it back to the Constitution. While I think it a very valid way to do things (else I wouldn't do it) I think for this I'll just leave it alone.

Instead, let's go through a bit of a thought exercise. The Federal government accomplishes many of its machinations through grant-in-aid and similar means, where they will give the states a sum of money, with a series of caveats on how it is to be spent. The states then institute the various programs and regulations that the federal government wants them to.

First, let's assume that these programs have the will of the people, the state, and the federal government all in accord. Yes, I know that this is bordering on high fantasy, but bear with me for the sake of argument. The people consent to be taxed by the federal government, and then the federal government turns around and gives that money to the states, which in turn spend the money on what actually needs to happen. The question of 'why don't the people just spend the money themselves' is easily answered by organizational needs. Individual people rarely have the capital themselves to accomplish collective goals, so they pool resources as managed by the government. This is one of (if not the only) reason we have government. The state being the one to manage a public expenditure is sensible and proper.

We have an extra step in the above system though. Why is the fed involved? Getting the funds passed through the federal system causes wastage. Even if it takes one minimum wage employee half an hour to get the funds sorted and passed along (which is a hilarious figure for anyone who knows bureaucracy even remotely), that's still a few dollars spent for pretty much no reason whatsoever, as well as time delay. When you figure in actual wastage levels in bureaucracies on both the federal and state levels, this just doesn't make sense. The fed shouldn't be involved if everyone is in accord.

Now, lets see what happens when the states and people are not in agreement with the fed. (There are two other cases, where state wants and people don't, and where people want but state doesn't. I'll go through these if people really want me to, but I expect people can figure it out on their own) The federal government wants the state to produce 2.7 snarfling widgets per person in the state. Neither the people nor the state have any need nor desire for snarfling widgets, so they don't want to produce them. What does the federal government do then? They take money from the people (because that's what HAS to happen for government to spend. They don't have money of their own) and therefore from the state, and hold it up and say "You can have this back if you use some of it to do what we want you to." So the state accepts the money and churns out 2.7 snarfling widgets per capita and has a bit of money left over to do the things the people and state actually want to. Perhaps I'm old fashioned, but that reeks of extortion to me, far worse considering that the carrot was taken from us to begin with. So, the government takes our carrot, dangles it over us until we perform a little dance for it, and then we get our carrot back, except that it's missing a chunk and smells vaguely manky.

The thing is, there are proper uses of extortion in government. Ending segregated schools, as a relatively uncontroversial example,* was not something that most people in Alabama wanted, nor was it something the state wanted. That doesn't mean it wasn't the right thing to do. We  need the federal government for things, even some that go against the will of some of the states. That's the thing that I hold as the metric. If the federal government goes against the will of all the states (cough cough Obamacare cough) then they really shouldn't be doing it, EVEN if it's the right thing to do in the moral platonic sense. If the government passes a law that is right, but unacceptable to the people, that law just won't work, and it weakens the potential for the government to do legitimately good things in future.

The concept of 'the ends justify the means' is always a sticky one. In a way, the government is already the 'means' though, so I see no reason to make it any slimier and evil than it already is. If the government wants to use that excuse, they'd better have an explanation that is so beautiful and well thought out it would make Socrates, John Locke, and Thomas Jefferson cry tears of transcendent joy.


I just realized this is almost a return to my political ethics series from wayback. This may bear further scrutiny.



*Yes, I KNOW the arguments. Just bear with me, I said relatively.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

In Lieu of Original Content

This piece by Jennifer is one of the better things I have read recently. Simple, to the point, yet I don't think there's anything she's wrong about in it. Go read until I have something to talk about.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

*sigh*

So, Starbucks has taken back their previously decidedly neutral stance on firearms in their stores. This has sparked not insignificant controversy in the gun world. Not being one to back down from a fight, I've got a few things to say here.

First off, my stake in this is limited. Being under 21 still, I am not legally allowed to carry in most places. Furthermore, I am both a Mormon and poor, meaning Starbucks is generally not part of my life in any case.

Disclaimers aside, this has had me pulling a Piccardian facepalm since the letter came out.

To sum up my opinion in brief. Starbucks has every right to put dictates on the behaviors of their customers. We in turn have every right to try to hurt them as best we can through boycott and publicity. I have doubt that Starbucks is the right venue for this fight.

This discussion has brought up some interesting questions about the notion of protected classes though. That's sorta what I want to talk about here.

First off, I think protected classes are important. Discrimination based on qualities of birth is problematic because, frankly, people suck. If you must rely on the weight of public opinion to validate your inherent nature, the tyranny of the majority is going to screw you. Preventing this is why we have a government in the first place.

It becomes a different case when it's a chosen trait.

I've heard lots of people talk about putting 'black' or 'Irish' or 'gay' in place of 'ccw holder' in stuff like this. I think this a brilliant way of testing for bigotry, prejudice and discrimination. I worry that it leads people to think the solutions are the same.

Here's another thing you can put in for consider. 'No shirt no shoes no service.' Frankly, it's exactly the same. A business places a qualification on their customers.

I think that a private business on private land has every right to place whatever qualifications on their patrons they want, so long as those qualifications can be met by anyone.

If a business wants to require all their customers to be pantsless and wear beanies, more power to them, but I will not be giving them my business, and I will be openly critical of them. If a company requires you to use a Maserati to go grocery shopping and wear a python like a feather boa, that's fine by me. Yes I will make fun of them.

Noncompliance with these terms in turn can only possibly result in a trespass charge at worst. (Ideally.) Legally binding posting against xyz is problematic.

Coming back to Starbucks specifically, I think we are without any form of legal recourse, which is just the way it should be.

We need to be careful in our advocacy to not be guilty of the same things we accuse the antis of. Starbucks is a frustrating case overall, because we just wanted to go get coffee, and they wanted to give it to us, but then people got upset and the entire thing blew up. I see this as a loss in the larger culture war. If we bring this into the legal war though, we're just asking for trouble.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Federalists, Anti-Federalists, Anti-Anti-Federalist Federalists...

This semester so far has been fascinating. I am taking a course in Constitutional Law, and it's given me rather a lot to think about.

I like to keep my ideals open to scrutiny and criticism. As such, some of the talk of the early days of the constitution was somewhat uncomfortable and thought provoking. I couldn't decide whether I liked the Federalists or Anti-Federalists more, or what I thought of John Marshall. It is easy for me to look at the constitution and say "This is awesome" but looking at the way it came to be, plus the immediacy of court cases that have political motivation is dizzying, confusing, and troubling.

Lets take a look at some ideologies.

The Federalists grew out of a frustration with the Articles of Confederation. They saw the failures of a weak national government time and time again, notably with Shays' Rebellion in Massachusetts. The myriad currencies floating around, the interstate tariffs, the repeated rights violations across the fledgling nation, all made it abundantly clear that things were not so good in the social experiment started a decade earlier.

The Federalist answer to this, as perhaps you might have figured out from the name, was to strengthen the federal government. They saw the failures and squabbling of the states, and sought to rectify, by fiat if need be. A party made up of primarily merchants, plantation owners, and others who could be described as bourgeoise, they feared the destruction of their wealth by people like Daniel Shays. They sought to protect their positions.

Many of them sought the creation of an American Elite, such that the reins of power would always stay within the hands of those who would remain sympathetic. They feared democracy and the will of the mindless masses.

Some of you may be reading this and thinking "Euch, those evil Federalists are behind everything wrong with our country!" Others may be saying "Oh come now, be fair. The Federalists did lots of good stuff! Besides, half the stuff you couch in those critical terms are actually good!" If you're thinking either of those things, I've succeeded so far. Bear with me.

The Anti-Federalists in turn, well... The name basically said it all. Mostly small farmers and other landowners, (Since at the time, suffrage was based on land ownership. Stake in the game and all that) the Anti-Federalists opposed the Federalists in most things. Highly distrustful of the national government, having just fought a nasty war to get rid of a despotic government, they sought to maintain power in the states. Thomas Jefferson was something of a figurehead for the movement, and the Declaration of Independence was as a manifesto to them.

They foresaw a government run amok, with all things shoehorned under its purview. They foresaw a state of people utterly dependent on their overlords in government, who were themselves, though still technically answerable to the people, little less than full blown nobility. They saw the fundamental rights of humans tossed aside as blithely as a crisp wrapper.

Unfortunately, they didn't really have any ideas as to how to stop any of that either.

So, here we have on the one hand the centralization oriented Federalists, and the Anti-Federalists trying to be irritating and idealistic. And somewhere in all this conflict, we got a brilliant document that has stood the test of time remarkably well.

So, how do you get from point A to point B? Frankly, by doing what the Federalists want.

Reading the Federalist Papers is always a fascinating pursuit. While I think it in everyone's best interest to read all of them, you might as well start with the common ones, Federalist #10 and #51.

I am distinctly dubious of the modern federal government. Most of the things that the Anti-Federalists predicted have in fact come true. We have families that exist for politics. The Bill of Rights is under the sort of fire that wants to know what the meaning of 'IS' is. We have a federal government that is a picture perfect example of horrific bloat. We have a government debating my right to even write this post.

The thing is, I don't know of anything in a document that could have stopped this from happening. We've seen in places like Massachusetts, California, and New York that the states are not necessarily any better at preventing excess, and we know they are a good sight worse at some things, national defense for example. Reading the Constitution, specifically Article 1 Section 8, we should have had a government that would do precisely what it was needed to, and absolutely nothing more.

The problem is that people very quickly deviated from what was on the page. John Marshall is a fascinating case, in that while I haven't come across anything he stated yet that I think was wrong (not true of later courts) I know just how much his opinions have been used to justify ridiculous excess. Interstate Commerce clause anyone? The thing is, how do you stop someone from violating the Constitution with the Constitution? It's the same concept as stopping Alexis Aaron with JOML. (Just One More Law)

The opinion I have come to feels like something of a wash. Both the Anti-Federalists and the Federalists were right.

The AFs had remarkable foresight about the downsides of the Federalist system, and did something hugely needful in the creation of the Bill of Rights. (See the bit where just because it doesn't say the government can do something, it doesn't mean they won't, which was Madison's argument)

The Federalists in turn walked a very fine line of "Yes, this is flawed, but it seems to be the best bet we've got." Reading Federalist 10 and 51, Madison at least had no reservations about the fact that people were liable to screw stuff up royally. The Constitution can be read as just another political document, or it can be read, in conjunction with the Federalist Papers, as one of the most astute and shrewd analyses of human nature to have yet turned up in our long history.

No governmental system will ever be perfect. It's part of that whole "imperfect humans" thing, or, to be more crude about it, GIGO. The Federalists walked the razor's edge in creating a system that did just enough and no more. The fact that it took 150 years for Roosevelt to smarm in and screw it all up is a testament in and of itself to the document.

I've given this rather a lot of thought this semester, but I don't claim to be infallible. If you have any points to make, either in support or criticism of the position here, I absolutely welcome them. I do ask that you be polite, but my commenters tend to be really good about that, so I'm not worried.

Please pass this along if you found it interesting or informative. Until next time, Cheerio!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Immobilizers

There is a mantra in the sci-fi novel Dune by Frank Herbert called the Litany Against Fear.

"I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing......Only I will remain."

The people who committed the acts of evil 12 years ago today were well aware of this principle, if unlikely that they have actually read any Herbert. Fear as a mind killer is a potent impulse against action.

Fear is hardly the only emotion with a soporific effect. Despair and grief are perhaps even more potent in the likelihood that the sufferer will simply be unable to get anything done.

To grieve still 12 years later does no good. Never forget those who died and suffered. Let their lives stand as witness against the evils that make such acts possible. But do not allow your will to be subsumed by negativity, such that this evil can continue unchecked.


It is a great disservice to the memory of the people who died to sit back in hand wringing despair. Honor their memory by doing what you can to prevent it from happening to you. Learn to protect yourself, examine your principles, act towards your own security.

As for you, Mr. President, I would advise you to be very careful of the people you would have us call friends. Syria is in terrible shape, but as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Felix Frankfurter said after the Deshaney v. Winnebago Social Services case, there are times when the Constitution does not provide a cure for the evils of the world.

On a related note, treason is constitutionally defined. "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort." I don't know how you consider that, but helping Al Qaeda, the supposed great enemy of the last 12 years, in the overthrow of Syria seems to me to be a dangerous road, and one that could end very badly for you. Reflect long and hard on what you're allowed to do, since you have proven yourself incapable of doing what you should do.

The enemy of my enemy is my enemy's enemy. I'd consider that notion.

Friday, September 6, 2013

A Proper Fisking

Gay Cynic sent me this fascinating little piece that kicked over my giggle-box enough to warrant sharing. I have never done a piece by piece fisking before, but I can hardly imagine a better place to start.

What better place to start than the title?
Libertarians Are the New Communists
Well, I'd say we're off to a wonderful start here. We have a claim that is completely illogical on its face, as the ideologies are rather opposed. Therefore, we must assume that they aren't saying "Communists" as in 'people ascribing to a political system of communal ownership of property after the fashion of Karl Marx' but are instead using it in the same manner as so many who can't properly refute their opponents arguments, being "Bogeyman!" with no relation to reality. While 'Nazi' is the typical, I am open to the possibility that they are aware of Godwin's Law and are attempting to head that off at the pass.

Let's see whether the article bears out the title, shall we?

Most people would consider radical libertarianism and communism polar opposites: The first glorifies personal freedom. The second would obliterate it. Yet the ideologies are simply mirror images. Both attempt to answer the same questions, and fail to do so in similar ways. Where communism was adopted, the result was misery, poverty and tyranny. If extremist libertarians ever translated their beliefs into policy, it would lead to the same kinds of catastrophe.
So far, initial assumptions seem valid. A piece of advice to the author. It's generally bad form to contradict yourself in the first paragraph. In terms of actual content (such as it is) I have to wonder, first off, what are these questions, and are these questions a different set of questions than every political ideology ever has attempted to answer?

Also, to be clear, you are suggesting that an ideology based entirely on the liberty and rights of the individual with a distinct animosity towards government is going to result in a tyrannical government, yes? Just making sure I understood here...

(Note, I am not going to bother commenting on the occasionally bizarre sentence structure and grammatical foibles. That speaks plenty loud for itself, and making fun of it seems too much like egging the short bus)
Let’s start with some definitions.
Let's please. Get some definitions before value judgments and broad claims get tossed around, that could get confusing.
By radical libertarianism, we mean the ideology that holds that individual liberty trumps all other values. By communism, we mean the ideology of extreme state domination of private and economic life.
Can we get a few more definitions here? Depending on how you define liberty after all, we could be discussing anything from straight anarchy to a Bloombergian (oh, huh, look at the source...) emphasis on making all the 'right' choices for the people too stupid to make them for themselves. As for communism... Last I checked totalitarianism did not strictly equate with communism. The two play very nicely with each other, but by that definition, Somalia in the '90s was a communist paradise.
Some of the radical libertarians are Ayn Rand fans who divide their fellow citizens into makers, in the mold of John Galt, and takers, in the mold of anyone not John Galt.
What's your point?
Some, such as the Koch brothers, are economic royalists who repackage trickle-down economics as “libertarian populism.” Some are followers of Texas Senator Ted Cruz, whose highest aspiration is to shut down government. Some resemble the anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, who has made a career out of trying to drown, stifle or strangle government.
Same question. So far you've said that this group you are attempting to define neatly can fit several different definitions. Add to that the bit where royalism is kinda sorta completely incompatible with that personal liberty thing and I have to wonder what you're trying to do here. So far you've managed to fail terribly at defining what you're talking about, and have contradicted yourself rather a lot. But perhaps I'm being too hasty. You have a good deal more article to redeem yourself.
Yes, liberty is a core American value, and an overweening state can be unhealthy. And there are plenty of self-described libertarians who have adopted the label mainly because they support same-sex marriage or decry government surveillance. These social libertarians aren’t the problem.
No disagreement, but the bit where you seem to be setting up a 'but' statement is intriguing.
It is the nihilist anti-state libertarians of the Koch-Cruz-Norquist-Paul (Ron and Rand alike) school who should worry us.
Hold on, I'm confused. One paragraph ago you were describing a bunch of different schools of thought, now they're all one? Also, nihilism... where'd you get that from? So far all you've commented on is anti-government feelings and certain oversimplified economic principles. Or is a love of liberty an inherently nihilistic thing?

I must say, I am impressed with how much weirdness you can get on the page with so few words. It's like taking a 30 piece jigsaw puzzle and creating a linear accelerator. Or perhaps taking a single sheet of paper and turning it into a gnarled, non-einsteinian origami work. Coated in poo.*
Human Nature
Oh goody, now we get this same level of clarity and insight into one of the thorniest and most irksome issues that has plagued the entire history of academic navel-gazing.
Like communism, this philosophy is defective in its misreading of human nature, misunderstanding of how societies work and utter failure to adapt to changing circumstances. Radical libertarianism assumes that humans are wired only to be selfish, when in fact cooperation is the height of human evolution. It assumes that societies are efficient mechanisms requiring no rules or enforcers, when, in fact, they are fragile ecosystems prone to collapse and easily overwhelmed by free-riders. And it is fanatically rigid in its insistence on a single solution to every problem: Roll back the state!
Oh, now we're back to communism. I wondered when that would turn up again.

Let me see if I understand you here. Radical libertarians are completely wrong because they think people are completely selfish, while in reality people are so highly evolved and special that we understand the value of cooperation. Clearly those selfish, government hating libertarians are just not quite as evolved as you, mr. author. Oh... but wait, now society doesn't work because there are so many selfish, uncooperative people involved.

Hmm... I seem to be out of bread. This is a problem. We must roll back the state! Those dang statists made me eat all my bread, and then made me stay here and play video games all day.

Make sense to you? That's apparently what our esteemed author is saying...
Communism failed in three strikingly similar ways. It believed that humans should be willing cogs serving the proletariat. It assumed that societies could be run top-down like machines. And it, too, was fanatically rigid in its insistence on an all-encompassing ideology, leading to totalitarianism.
OK, now we're getting into the title! So, communism failed because of the same problems as libertarianism has. So, libertarians think everyone is selfish and terrible. Clearly communism must have failed because they didn't take into account the wonderful altruism of its people... oh wait, it failed because they people were selfish and terrible. These libertarian anti-statists want societies to run completely free, so the communists.... wait, you mean they failed because they wanted society to have no freedom? Fanatic rigidity, here we go! Clearly they must be failing together that way... except the ideologies end up in completely different places.

So, as long as we accept that being polar opposite in three characteristics is strikingly similar, we can move along.
Radical libertarianism, if ever put into practice at the scale of something bigger than a tiny enclave, would also be a disaster.
Uh.... I think I missed a step here. You've said a lot about what you think libertarians ARE. I still haven't seen why they are a bad thing until now. What would make this a disaster again?
We say the conditional “would” because radical libertarianism has a fatal flaw: It can’t be applied across a functioning society. What might radical libertarians do if they actually had power? A President Paul would rule by tantrum, shutting down the government in order to repeal laws already passed by Congress. A Secretary Norquist would eliminate the Internal Revenue Service and progressive taxation, so that the already wealthy could exponentially compound their advantage, as the programs that sustain a prosperous middle class are gutted. A Koch domestic policy would obliterate environmental standards for clean air and water, so that polluters could externalize all their costs onto other people.
I am still utterly failing to see the connection between your claims (much less between your claims and reality). You say that the Pauls hate government, but speak of them ruling. News flash, we don't HAVE rulers here. That's sorta the point of the whole constitution thing. I'll buy exponential compounding of wealth (that's sorta the whole point of banks...) but I'm not seeing anything here that would 'gut the middle class.' Care to point out where I've missed something? Same goes for the Kochs.
Radical libertarians would be great at destroying. They would have little concept of creating or governing. It is in failed states such as Somalia that libertarianism finds its fullest actual expression.
Destroying what? Creating what? Even in the worldview you spout, neither creation nor destruction are inherently good or evil. Creation by what you've said is Good, unless it's creating, say, greenhouse gasses or exponentially rich people. Destruction is evil, unless it's destroying pollution causing industries or those silly lesser human libertarians.

As for Somalia, didn't we already decide that it was a Communist state by your definition? I'm confused again. How is it that liberty is at its peak when you have roving gangs of 'authority' raping and shooting people willy nilly and for no discernable reason? I'm sure this is just a case of me being a stupid, less evolved, selfish person, but I'm trying to understand your glorious vision!
Some libertarians will claim we are arguing against a straw man...
Yup, that's exactly what I'm doing. Saying I will do something and then giving me good reason to do that is meaningless unless you can prove you AREN'T using a straw man.
...and that no serious adherent to their philosophy advocates the extreme positions we describe. The public record of extreme statements by the likes of Cruz, Norquist and the Pauls speaks for itself. Reasonable people debate how best to regulate or how government can most effectively do its work -- not whether to regulate at all or whether government should even exist. 
Cite your sources please. What statements are these? Do these statements fill in the mysterious  gap in your logic between the libertarian limitations on government you have described and the anarchy you are arguing against? Also, whether or not to regulate is the first question in how best to regulate. The way I see it, the rest of you skipped a couple steps.
The alternative to this extremism is an evolving blend of freedom and cooperation. The relationship between social happiness and economic success can be plotted on a bell curve, and the sweet spot is away from the extremes of either pure liberty or pure communitarianism. That is where true citizenship and healthy capitalism are found.
What are the axes on these curves? Can you cite your source? What sort of bell curve are we talking? Single, bi, or multi-modal? Symmetrical or asymmetrical? Mean-median distribution? What percentages go into the histogram? Is the total social happiness of the nation "1"? Don't use math unless you're prepared to be rigorous. 'Falling on a bell curve' is meaningless. I can make a bell curve between percentage of popcorn kernels popped in a bag and meters to Led Zeppelin songs played during popping. Doesn't mean that it will have any utility whatsoever.**

As for where the 'sweet spot' falls, I think you have completely failed to see the coincidence of liberty and communitarian values. See, if a person thinks that personal liberty is paramount, they ALSO think the personal liberty of everyone else is just as valuable. If they don't, then guess what. They aren't libertarian. They are anarchists who want to be holding the big stick.
True citizenship enables a society to thrive for precisely the reasons that communism and radical libertarianism cannot. It is based on a realistic conception of human nature that recognizes we must cooperate to be able compete at higher levels. True citizenship means changing policy to adapt to changes in circumstance. Sometimes government isn’t the answer. Other times it is.
So you in your infinite wisdom have solved the human nature question. Care to explain? So far all you've managed to do is contradict yourself and make generalities against extremes.  Even now, as you attempt to reach the summit of this steaming pile of offal you are attempting to pass off as a legitimate analysis you contradict yourself yet again. Sometimes government isn't the answer, yet deciding whether to regulate at all is foolhardy and evil! Make up your bloody mind, or at the very least say what those times ARE.
If the U.S. is to continue to adapt and evolve, we have to see that freedom isn’t simply the removal of encumbrance, or the ability to ignore inconvenient rules or limitations. Freedom is responsibility. Communism failed because it kept citizens from taking responsibility for governing themselves. By preaching individualism above all else, so does radical libertarianism.
You are the only one who has said that freedom is the strict removal of encumbrance, apart from anarchists. Who is this 'we'? From what I've seen, nearly everyone, particularly libertarians, recognizes that. Do you need to convince yourself of this?

To say that libertarianism takes away the responsibility of self-governance is baffling. The entire point of libertarianism is that self-governance is generally better in many cases than institutional governance.
It is one thing to oppose intrusive government surveillance or the overreach of federal programs. It is another to call for the evisceration of government itself. Let’s put radical libertarianism into the dustbin of history, along with its cousin communism.
Evisceration of government is anarchism. If we have to use surgical metaphors, go with Liposuction, or perhaps appendectomy.

The only thing I want to see in the dustbin of history after reading this is the abhorrently arrogant mentality that goes into the self-congratulatory masturbation of discounting all opposition without the slightest interest in actually understanding it.

Mr.s Hanauer and Liu, you clearly have no understanding of what a libertarian is, nor do you seem to have any interest in correcting this deficit. Yet you feel entirely comfortable telling us what unevolved rabid idealists we are, completely ignoring the presence of our arguments, much less the nature of what those arguments are. You apparently assume all your readers are sycophantic drooling morons who will blindly mewl back whatever tripe you feed them without the slightest care towards critical thinking. To read the comments on your own site, this is rather thoroughly not a safe assumption.

You are the problem with the world today. Go take your elitist patronizing inanity and shove it where the sun don't shine.***





*Because I'm classy like that.
**Unless you want to be REALLY certain that you get exactly 87.254% popping, in which case, you should definitely seek professional help. There are lots of good OCD specialists these days. (Also, play D'yer Mak'er. Most consistent results by far.)
***Specifically in a garden or a farm somewhere. This is high grade fertilizer you know.****
****Don't be gross.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Syria

I find this whole thing tiresome. JayG has a good post about it here to give a bit of context to the abhorrent hypocrisy involved here.

All I really want to say is that hypocrisy is unpleasant from all quarters. As such, those who would criticize Obama for going in to Syria, consider your own response to Bush going into Iraq.

I am finding myself increasingly fond of isolationist policies. This country has been a little too gung-ho about policing other nations for my taste. There are always arguments to be made both in favor and against each, but I take any military action with a heaping serving of salt these days. I won't say I can't be convinced that military action is the right course, but merely that my initial bias is against.

In direct regards to Syria, do we really think it's a good idea to be arming and aiding these people? The logic seems to be 'enemy of my enemy' which is a terrible notion in international politics. So far, it seems that all these north african and middle eastern rebellions have made things worse internally and much worse for US relations. You'd think we'd have learned our lesson with the Mujahideen.

I can't say I know enough about the Syrian situation to say who's in the right. I can say that it seems like both sides are pretty skeazy. I can say that it's almost certainly none of our business.

Feh. Nobel peace prize means a whole lot these days, no?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Return to the Land of the Free

I am once more in Texas, in my own bed. Or at least, on my own mattress surrounded by the disassembled bits of my bed, as well as the assorted paraphernalia of college life. Unpacking starts tomorrow. For now, I've been awake for most of the last 38 hours, so I will take advantage of these pillows and update more when I am coherent.

It's good to be back.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Friday, August 9, 2013

A Fun Day Ahead

I haven't been to the range all summer. Time constraints and a few legal irritations combined in a point of major annoyance.

That being said, last week dad and I found a very nice range a short ways away from our place in WI, and today, we are going to really see if it's any good.

I have still yet to fire my Enfield, but as I now have both a range and ammunition, that will change today. I have a handful of T&E products to test out as well, so look for a review or two coming soon.

Today is going to be a good day.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Washington State and the NRA

The NRA is a source of not insignificant frustration to a lot of gun owners. While we do recognize and appreciate the good work they do, it can be more than a little irksome to see a clear cut fight that they aren't weighing in on. The NRA has some weight to throw around. The trouble is that with that weight comes inertia.

Right now, Washington state is gearing up for a fight on gun issues. The NRA thus far has paid it essentially no notice. Gay Cynic has a post up about it here.

One very important thing to note here is that the NRA is not astroturf. The power of the NRA comes from it's members, and in my experience, they are willing to listen if the members start to make noise about something. As such, I'd encourage you to follow any of the links at GC's place and get in touch with the NRA. There's no need to be angry or inflammatory, but simply stating that you'd like to see the NRA get involved in this could go a long way.

It's stuff like this that makes the NRA the power it is. It's a simple thing to possibly give this a nudge in the right direction. Go, contact NRA!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

I Hate Hymenopterids

While digging for a water feature in the yard Wednesday, I seem to have angered a nest of digging wasps. Of course, given the nature of the critters, first I knew of it was the classic flaming poker into the back of my left index finger. Through gloves no less. Little bugger.
In related news, finger stings HURT

On some level though, I can hardly blame them, considering I came out later and soaked their nest with wasp killer. It took some effort not to light it on fire too, tell the truth.

It did get me thinking though. I have had thankfully few interactions with the nasty things. One trend I have noticed is that, while I have a reasonably high pain tolerance, a sting from one of them is enough to get me to vacate the area. Not only that, but I always find myself fairly uneasy going back to the same areas again. It took effort to go back and spray the nest, and it was very much a hit and run type of operation.

Simply put, they are critters that have a really compelling defense mechanism. If it weren't for the miracles of modern chemistry, I may have had to abandon the project because of them. This has been unusually (or perhaps entirely typically) rambly, but I suppose the dual point to this is that first off, hymenopterids are nasty but effective little things, and I love living in the modern era.



In other news, I spent today cleaning guns. I detail stripped my Enfield for the first time, and found a few strands of grease caked grass or other plant matter. A part of me has to wonder whether it's been there since wwii.

I also have a bit of an advice bleg. I'm looking to replace the glass that came with my 700. It's really not bad glass, with nice crisp images. My main complaints though are the reticle and the eye relief. I have to creep uncomfortably close on the scope to get the image, which I am none to happy with. (somewhere in the 2-3" range on a .308) Any suggestions for a scope in the 4-16x range with a bit longer eye relief and a price that is acceptable to a poor college student budget?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Ammo blues

Finally managed to find ammo at reasonable prices (ok, steep but not absurd prices) so I stocked up as much as I could afford to.

.303 Brit for $.90 per pop is painful enough that I reeeeeally want to look into reloading. Ah well though. At least I can finally shoot my Enfield.
Mostly .308, with a bunch of 7.62x54R, 7.62x39 and .30 carbine too. It's steel case stuff, but I'm trying to feed a bolt gun, so I'm not too worried.

The supply I bought will hopefully see me through the rest of the drought so I can buy some better stuff at reasonable prices. Or who knows. Maybe the Herter stuff will be excellent ammunition.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Shame on Me...

...for not picking up on this sooner.

One of the things that I find fascinating and wonderful about this whole "gunblogger community" thing is the way we truly look out for each other. One of us needs a bit of help. Bonnie of Squeaky Wheel Seeks Grease is looking at some fairly hefty medical bills for Lyme disease, and is unable to work because of the aforesaid sickness. She is currently taking donations.

I'm putting a bit forward for her. The talk of modern internet tribes is meaningless if we don't take care of our people. She needs help, so go give it!

If pure generosity alone is not incentive enough, the eponymous Jennifer of In Jennifer's Head is running a bit of a raffle, with some neat prizes on offer. She's closing it down at midnight on July 31st though (read: Tomorrow) so get your entries in quick!

We talk about the difference between taxation and charity not infrequently. This is our chance to prove it.

Bleg over. How are you all?


8/1/13 ETA Due to technical difficulties, entries now end TONIGHT. You can't use the "awww, i missed it, oh well" excuse anymore. Go! Donate!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Creating Royalty

It's interesting. Last I checked, this country fought a couple fairly nasty wars to be free of the British crown. Yet here today, 237 years later, everyone is going gaga over the progeny of the royal family.

Beyond snarking at this stuff, it is rather a neat example of the human predilection for royalty. Even should there be no power behind the throne, people are taken with the notion that there are the special few who hold the reins of everything. Little girls wanting to be princesses notwithstanding, few people actually want to be royal, but there is a fascination nevertheless.

I am torn between not getting it, and getting it all too well. Idol worship, be it a royal family, celebrity, or charismatic politician, has quite the siren song. In all cases, there are people who have their positions based on birth alone. The royals are obvious. The Kardashians and Hiltons are celebrities because.... Well, they're celebrities. The Kennedys and Bushs have a similar case in politics.

I am inclined to think that this behavior comes from our natural human predilection to laziness. We don't want to fix things ourselves, but if you've got God Emperor Zeushiltonbama who can do it for you, you feel ok about watching America's Funniest Home Video reruns* and eat potato chips, because we've got our 'best people' on it.

Looking at Obama these days, it seems clear that a great many people, consciously or subconsciously, want him to be king. The fascinating thing about it is that we love a king, so long as he does what we want. We love super soldiers, so long as they obey the timid grumpy bureaucrats. We love a rebel, so long as she fights against the stuff that annoys us. 

The fact that I understand this stuff doesn't make it any less frustrating. The royal sprog means nada to me. Get back to the things that matter.

And while I'm at it, I oughta get those dang teenagers off my lawn.

*Is that a thing? I don't watch TV

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Stop the Planet and LET ME OFF

Taken from a recent facebook conversation (Yay NSA, you get to read it twice!):
More depressed at [the current situation]. This whole Zimmerman mess, the media COMPLETELY ignoring the waves of violence, larceny, and vandalism sweeping the nation since the verdict ("it's not 'rioting' so shut up you stupid racist racists"), the fact that it is becoming increasingly difficult to not be actually racist, the fact that our government in the past year murdered four US citizens with drones… the fact that emotion and tides of public opinion matter far more than truth, integrity or rationality… the fact that 1984 reads like a bloody mirror… need I continue?
 And of course I barely scratched the surface of what's been going on.

I don't know what to do. I run a mostly ignored little blog where I vent and write about this stuff, but while my readers are greatly appreciated, I doubt I'm reaching anyone who might learn from it. I love the ideals of this country far too much to be comfortable taking up arms against it. There's nowhere left to run to that's any better.

I hate this feeling of impotence in the face of these situations. For every little victory we gain, we lose a dozen, some of which we aren't even aware are being fought.

Rereading 1984 is interesting. While last time I took a slightly more optimistic view, this time through I see it much more as the inevitable result of our current progression. The framework for most everything seen in the book is already in place, and expanding daily. While I wish I could hope for the ability of the American people to say no, scandal after scandal has passed by in recent months to the great fanfare of... nothing. A few diligent folks scream into an echo chamber about the atrocious behavior of our government, and the rest just sorta... ignore it.

In an ideal sense, I would finish a post like this with a call to action. 'The world is crap, so go and fix'. The problem is that I don't know that it CAN be fixed, much less how I would go about it. Instead, I will just say this. If you have ideas on how to get this mess fixed, don't be silent. "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Media Bias ARGHHH

I tend to avoid listening to radio news. It's highly frustrating trying to get my news on someone else's schedule, with interesting stories scattered throughout drivel and ads. None of the interesting stuff gets enough attention. I have little interest in hearing someone else read off the headlines.

The other huge problem I have is that, while news agencies tend to be very careful about what bias shows up in print, tv and radio news not so much.

Listening to WBBM on the way to work, the talking head said "four jurors who failed to convict Trayvon Martin's killer..." At which point I almost shut the radio off.

Can you say bias? I am sick and tired of this crap.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Race Card

While reading Robb Allen today, I came across this old post.

It sorta got me curious. What, dear readers, do you consider as "playing the race card"? To me, it is a simple case of bringing up race of any kind as a leverage point in anything other than a demographics discussion. This definition clearly could use some refinement. Any thoughts? Is it the race card to aggrandize your own argument based on race?* To belittle the opponents argument?**


Similarly, and perhaps more importantly, are there any reasonable, appropriate uses of the race card? Is it inherently fallacious?

I'm legitimately curious to see what you all have to say, so please, do comment (respectfully, please.)




*I am (insert here) so I understand what it's like!
**You couldn't understand, being an (insert here)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Tam's Claim to Fame

I always enjoy reading Tam. Her writing never fails to entertain and educate. Every once in a while though, she posts something that completely knocks the ball out of the park and quite possibly into the next city.

This seems like one of them to me.

Many people like the notion of "You are your brother's keeper". The trouble with this parable is that people so often forget that the brother did not wish to be his brother's keeper. It was a hard job, a frustrating job, an unrewarding job, and a job that often seemed impossible.

That doesn't mean it wasn't the right thing to do.

Our country has so thoroughly disincentivized that which is right that people are even hesitant to carry a gun because they know the legal ramifications should they ever need to defend themselves. Think about that. People are more frightened of our legal system than they are of major bodily harm or death.

It's odd to find myself in total agreement with the antis, liberals, and half-brains (though I repeat myself) but I agree fully that our justice system is broken. The Zimmerman case should never have gone to trial in the first place. The court of media and public opinion decided this months ago, and nevermind that the justice system gave it as much consideration as possible and arrived at the verdict they did. I'm sickened again to the point of wanting to move, and depressed to realize there's nowhere left to run to.

Maybe New Zealand is accepting immigrants. I've heard decent things about kiwis.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Trayvon Martin

It's rare these days that the government does something I don't understand. My cynicism is practiced enough and my eye is sharp enough to see how the assorted bull-honky fits the agenda.

That being said, I can't quite figure out this Trayvon Martin mess.

I have not been following this case terribly closely, but I have been aware of it enough so to see what little case there was against Zimmerman. In the days immediately after the shooting, Trayvon Martin's 8th grade picture was everywhere, and the case caught the public (and more importantly, the media's) attention. People were crying in the streets for Zimmerman's blood.

My initial assumption was that the government took a losing case to trial simply to say to the crazed mobs in the streets "Ok, look! we tried to issue justice, and the courts have ruled it was self defense! We did what we could."

THIS though, turns that on its head. For those who don't click through, reportedly the DOJ has been sending "Community Relations Service" members have been fomenting unrest and spending thousands of tax dollars on training protesters. Suddenly, the .gov seems to have a much bigger stake in this mess.

I don't get it. Are they TRYING to spark massive riots in this country? I can unfortunately see that as an option, as a justification for declaration of emergency powers. I am highly disturbed by what I see coming out these days. It's to the point that I have to wonder if I'm gonna need to button up for riot defense.

And Then There Were None

Illinois has concealed carry. Not the best carry in the world, but hardly the worst.

I laugh in the face of Governor Quinn.


One quick blog administrative note. Scribbler's Dad is now an official contributor to this blog. Now that his name is on it, perhaps I can get him to finally post some of that guest content he promised me....

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Updated Roll Call

I apologize for the fact that this post is quite so egregiously late. I have finally gotten around to updating my blogroll after NRA. As long time readers may note, it has... grown some.

As a bit of a bleg, if I met you at NRA (or anywhere else I suppose) and you don't see your blog linked, please let me know! I met so many great people, and I hold it a point of shame that my memory isn't good enough to hold them all. I know I'm forgetting good folks, and if you are among them, please don't take it as a slight. My tiny brain can and will forget my own name, much less those of the myriad people I met.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

237 years

237 years to the day since a group of brave men threw off their shackles and decided to be free. In a classic lesson, they quickly learned the blood, sweat and tears necessary to gain and maintain liberty.

Despite it being something of a cliched trope, remember that freedom isn't free. We are not in the position now of needing to take up arms. That does not mean that we have any less responsibility in the maintenance of the country I still love.

Take today as you see fit. Remember your liberty. I'm gonna go light off some fireworks, go fishing, and eat hunks of cow.

Here's to 237 years, and here's to many more.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Ebay frustration

I've been trying to get myself kitted out more completely for fly fishing this past week. One of the items typical to any sort of freshwater fishing where the intent is to eat said fish is a cudgel, commonly known as a priest.*

Despite Ebay's normally comprehensive assortment of most anything you could care to buy and a great deal you probably wouldn't, I was having a devil of a time finding them.

Apparently this is because most 'hand weapons' are banned under Ebay policy.

I have personally bought quite a number of knives off Ebay, including some that would be more effective as blunt trauma weapons than a priest. A quarter inch thick steel blade on top of a dense olive wood handle can ruin someone's day regardless of there being an edge anywhere.

Not only that, but I have purchased swords. I guarantee I could do more damage with any sword than with a club.



Lemme get this straight. By Ebay policy, I can purchase a 36" length of razor sharp steel, but I can't buy an 8"... stick. Someone explain how that makes any sense, 'cause I just plain don't get it.




*Fishermen make puns too.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Constitutionality

Listening to the radio on the way to work this morning, the talking head was comparing two pieces of legislation. I think the topic was state pensions, but I'm not sure. In his commentary, he said, "well, this one is a bit cheaper, and this one has the advantage of being constitutional."

Maybe I'm just old fashioned, but I hear that as a choice between a nice walk in the park and being mauled by an irate wolverine. If one is constitutional and the other isn't, the constitutional one is the only option. Period. Anything our government does that is unconstitutional is illegal. Why is this so hard to understand?

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day

It is seen as an expression of great love to say "I would die for you." The soldiers we remember today did just that. They died for this country, for the freedoms we enjoy, and for you.

We owe a great debt to those who can never collect. To all my readers, take the time to do two things today. First off, take a few minutes to think about those who died for us. If you are of religious mind, say a prayer. If you can get to a military cemetery, go lay flowers on a grave, whether or not you know who occupies it.

Second, do something free. Write something inflammatory. Write to a congress-critter. Go play with gunny toys. Fly a flag. Whatever you do, just remember why you are able to.

The best respect we can pay to the dead is to use their gift.


Thank you, to all those who have served this country in our long history. Thank you to those who laid down their lives for mine. Thank you, the willing strong.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

People of NRA

Where to begin on this one? So many interesting people... I think for the moment I'll speak specifically about those people I spoke to on the floor. I will make note of the social/blogging type encounters later where I can give it proper depth, with contributions from Dad.

Firstly, a general impression I got from the people I talked to. The media badge caught people's attention readily, but put many folks on edge. They tended to relax significantly when I indicated I was a blogger, and far more so when I showed my interest in firearms. I had more than a few people go from 'this is my canned response' to 'oh hey! Come chat, and you gotta try this thing. Let me show you something neat, here's my card...' which was entertaining and pleasing.

It's always a difficult thing to write about the people at things like this. There were 86000 people on the floor, and I probably rubbed shoulders with a goodly percentage of them. If I spoke to you and you don't see yourself mentioned, please understand I mean no offense, but if I truly took the time to give everyone I met the report they deserve, my fingers would fall off.

One of my first stops of the entire convention was with Coonan Firearms. Since learning about them, I have been very curious about the notion of a 1911 chambered in .357. While there, I got the chance to paw at a number of their models, and, more importantly, chat for a while with the man himself, Dan Coonan. He essentially set the stage for most interactions I had with company representatives on the floor, chatting with enthusiasm and courtesy. We talked some about his firearms, and about the manufacturing business in general. I was intrigued and pleased to learn that he made his first firearm as a college final project.

While I have never shot one of his guns, I was very much pleased with what I saw and felt while fiddling with them, and I am always more willing to do business with people I respect. Dan Coonan is one of those.

Also from that first day, I rather enjoyed chatting with Kathleen Ives, owner of Nemesis Arms. Despite being in California, she and her husband make some truly fascinating rifles. While I am leery of any takedown system that has any form of disconnect between the sights and the barrel, I must admit the Vanquish has some sleek machining and locks up solid as a rock. Call it irrational, but I rather want one.

The other interesting things about Mrs. Ives were these. First off, she had for sale the best T-shirt I saw all weekend. Featuring a picture of their rifle with the caption "It's because I'm black, isn't it" flat tickled me pink. Secondly, she had a very novel concept. The government cannot stipulate how student loans and scholarships are used. As such, it should be possible to get some form of loan or grant from the government and use the funds to purchase one of the scariest of evil black rifles on the market. It may be (ok, IS) because I'm sick and twisted, but I really, really want to make that happen.

Yes, if it happens, there will be FULL documentation.

Lisa Looper, of Flashbang Holster fame, is another one of those thoroughly nice people that makes products that send the antis into conniptions. I was pleased to find that not only does she have a novel idea or two (ok, a whole bunch. She showed me most of the product line) but the construction seems really good. A good idea executed well is all around pleasing. I was also pleased to note that she was quite ready and willing to talk to me, despite me rather clearly not being her intended market audience. Ladies out there, products made for women by women who know what women need are not to be ignored.

A rather interesting customer service experience came up in regards to Bore-Tips by Swab-its. Dad and I were both interested by the notion of a reusable bore swab, and so dad purchased a few in a number of calibers recently. Our initial experience was... lackluster. The .22 and .30 ones fell apart rather unfortunately easily, and ended up leaving bits of fluff down the barrel. When we brought up our concerns to Brent Hanson, their sales manager, he was rather stunned. Apparently they had a bad batch go out a little while ago, and we were unlucky enough to get some of the bad ones. He described their testing process, which was a good deal more vigorous than what we had put them through, and gave my dad and I a couple extra packs, with the instruction to go home and try it again, and let him know how it goes. Having not been back to my rifles since NRA, I have not yet tested them, but I will have a report on that in due time.

George R Woford of Charles Daly (currently without a website) spent a good long while chatting with me. I am in the market for a shotgun, and was concerned at the price point of the Dalys, with the thought that you get what you pay for. My expectations were greatly exceeded, as they seem very well constructed. We spent a good long while talking about shotgun construction and philosophy. I was pleased to find another purist who still likes blue steel and walnut. I was disappointed with how little I saw. I may end up purchasing a Daly shotgun in short order.

There will be another post of interesting people soon, but I have received requests for smaller doses, so here's that for now. Cheerio, and tune in again soon for me squeeing over tech.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Working on it

Finals are finally done, and I have managed to calm down after everything at long last. I've got a few pages nearly ready for posting that should make their appearance in the next few days, both about NRA and other topics of interest and note. I apologize for the slow posting, but we'll be up and running again soon.

Dad has yet to provide pictures of the various festivities, which will also be coming shortly. He had some medical things to take care of that have him out of commission for a while. He should have some of his contributions up within the month.

Your patience and continued readership is hugely appreciated.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Brief Thought

Might a simple way to help fix the justice system in this country be to simply require that all criminal cases have a plaintiff? It gets rid of all sorts of victimless crimes very quickly, and takes the teeth out of ridiculous laws like Constructive Intent. Any thoughts?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

NRA Annual Meeting AAR, Part 1


By popular demand, I will be breaking up my coverage of the NRA convention into bite sized morsels. My ADD writing style can't quite decide what to start on. Largely, my breakdown is going to be pieces, people, and politics. I think I shall alternate between these until I have nothing more to say. We'll start with politics.

On two opposing ends of the spectrum, we have Constable Mark Brewer, and on the other, the protesters.

We'll start with the protesters. Despite other media claims, the most people I ever personally saw protesting was about a dozen, and that's a generous estimate. They had one person at a podium reading off a list of names, and other people stood by with signs, talking to passers-by and media types.

Being buoyed by my 'credentialed media' status, I wandered over on Sunday to ask a few questions. After bouncing around a couple people, I was a able to sit down with a young lady and chat for a while.

Quite simply, she seemed to have her heart in the right place, and was mentally consistent, but had been lead down an incorrect path. It was a frustrating experience in a number of ways, for both of us I'm sure. I apparently need to work somewhat on my interviewing skills, as all too often, the conversation veered far off course into side issues, and the fundamental thing I was trying to get an answer to, namely, being how the list of names of those killed by firearms since Sandy Hook, had anything to do with the NRA and firearms policy.

The interview fell apart when another protester turned up and started getting hostile. He apparently felt I was not worth talking to as I was not with CNN, MSNBC, or any of the other main stream outlets. He was of the opinion that since I had a personal opinion on these matters, and asked for counterpoints to my impressions, that I was invalid as a journalist.

My reply to that is multi-fold. First off, everyone has an agenda. Listening to main-stream media types give simpering gimmes to the protesters and loaded questions to dealers, manufacturers, and NRA types, it was entirely apparent the bias that existed from them. The protesters don't mind that agenda though, as it aligns with their own.

Secondly, I'm not a journalist. I'm not a reporter. I am a blogger. This blog is my Op-Ed column. I am trying to bring people around to my point of view, or adjust mine to theirs in the case of me being proven wrong. This is my own forum to be run the way I wish.

Third... If you aren't willing to talk to anyone who won't pander to you in your protest, why are you doing it? Just for attention? You don't win any friends by hostility.

I think that the problem I ran into, and often run into in these sorts of discussions, is that the anti's point looks good on paper, from some perspectives. I don't want to see dead kids. I have the same distaste for bad gun handling. Maybe even more. I'm not sure I could ideologically say that I would go along with it if someone had a way to remove all violence from earth, as I see no way to do that without crippling freedoms. That is the fundamental divide though. I am willing to accept some of the costs of living free. Even at the cost of my own life. Do I like that these freedoms have these costs? Of course not. I find violence and the senseless application thereof abhorrent. The key point is that it's worth it. The fact that all attempts to fix it make things worse is a relevant side point, but not the center.

At the end of the interview, I still had no answer as to the relevance of the list of names to any of the other things we talked about. I gave the protester my card, so if she happens to see this, I hope we can continue the conversation. I truly mean what it says on my card. I mean no offense. It'll probably happen anyways. I wish to have discussions, not arguments. So if anyone cares to give answers, I would absolutely love to hear them.

Now, on the other side. One of the interactions I had over the weekend that tickled me the most was towards the end of Sunday. As I was walking towards the front of the hall, I passed a man examining the the Rascal line of Savage rifles. These responses to the Cricket line of firearms are small youth rifles designed for those in the 5-12 age range, at a guess. They come in a number of colors pleasing to young eyes, and the man was trying to decide which color he should purchase.

The reason he couldn't decide whether to get blue or pink was that he was buying his grandchild's first rifle. Said grandchild was not yet born, leaving the gender up for question. This is a grandpa who is doing things very right.

We got to chatting, and, seeing my media badge, he told me a few things, which I will paraphrase to the best of my ability. (My memory was a wee bit fried at this point in the festivities.) "I am a 17 year law enforcement veteran. I love this country, and took an oath to protect and uphold the Constitution. I did not take an oath to follow the commands of a statist wannabe dictator." He said it better than I can recall offhand, but Constable Mark Brewer, I salute you. You are the sort of person America needs more of.

More to come. Next up, interesting people!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Torn...

I am torn. I have rather a lot to write about after this past weekend, and I absolutely do not want to forget any of it before I write. On the other hand, I am exhausted and I have school work to do. I promise, there will be posts galore soon. It's just a question really of a short series of uber-posts, or a long series of shorter. Any reader preferences?

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Groucho in the Wild

I submit to you that Groucho Marx lives, and he's got an insane gun collection.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Serious Case of the Wants

The shear number of things I have seen this weekend thus far that are drool-worthy, fascinating and otherwise appealing is phenomenal. The following is a hardly comprehensive list, but as I am half asleep and pleasingly exhausted, these are the things that are lingering in my brain in place of sugar plum faeries.

Steyr Scout. Oh my goodness, this is what Jeff Cooper meant. I've had rifles I've enjoyed, and rifles that seemed to fit nicely, but never before has any rifle pointed that naturally or that comfortably. The scout scope is a beautiful way to acquire a sight picture. When I first picked up the rifle, before ever bringing it to my shoulder, I fixed my eye on a sprinkler head on the ceiling of the hall, probably a good 50 yards away, and snapped the rifle up to my shoulder.

I was not aimed at the sprinkler. I was aimed maybe 8 inches to the right. Subsequent endeavors were much closer.

Folks, I am not a skilled rifleman. While I am not completely inexperienced and my theoretical comprehension is good, my practical skills are simply lacking. I haven't had the chance to get the practice needed to become even remotely expert. The grand thing about this rifle was that it didn't matter. I was stunned at how well this rifle simply.... worked. The action was smooth and robust, the trigger was a nearly religious experience, and altogether this rifle seems to be everything that a rifle should be.

In the littler side of things, I got to paw some Coonan firearms yesterday. Those, gentle readers, are very nice pistols. I want. Badly.

And, to round out the three gun, the KSG is.... intriguing. Firstly, yes, it really exists. Secondly, they are producing them at peak capacity. Thirdly, no, you aren't likely to see them on shelves any time soon, since they never stay on them for more than a couple minutes.

I am uneasy about the concept of a shotgun shell going off right next to my face (it may not be pretty, but at least it's intact) but two layers of steel plate is rather reassuring. The uneasiness of that is, in my mind, quite neatly eclipsed by the neatness of the platform. It is simple, it is robust, it points naturally and balances well, and I am going to have to join the thronging hordes of people all waiting for the chance to own one.

Sigh.

Why is the cheapest gun on my want list $1300?

Also, I may not need to own one, but I absolutely must fire a KRISS SBR in giggle-switch mode. It pleases the engineer, the pyro, the destroyer of worlds, and the toddler banging pots and pans that make up my personality.

Anyone want to give me a few thousand dollars to play with? I promise it will be well spent....

Houston Blogmeet mark 1

Every time I meet bloggers and gunnies in real life, I am humbled in many ways.

I am humbled to realize that these people who have never met me before welcome me as a friend. They are willing to talk with me, listen to me, share jokes and experience with me, and generally treat me like one of the tribe.

The other major humbling factor is that I am hardly deserving to stand with them. The people I spent last evening with are smarter, more experienced, more knowledgeable, and better writers than I am, and in many cases, than I can hope to be. The fact that they accept me all the same is stunning, humbling, and thoroughly pleasing. I am thoroughly grateful to all the people who have taken their time to talk to me.

In larger news, the NRA Annual Meeting is... stunning. The sheer quantity of gunny goodness is wondrous to behold. I am pleased at the responses I have gotten to my juvenile attempts at journalism, and have made quite a few interesting contacts. I'm taking a brief break up in the press room more to get off my feet for a while than anything, but will shortly be headed back to the floor to wander some more. Kel-Tec, Taurus, and Kahr are coming up now.

Friday, May 3, 2013

NRA annual meeting

I've spent all day thus far walking around the floor of the 142nd annual NRA national meeting. Met some great folks, learned lots of neat things, got a t&e sample, and took not enough notes. Back to the floor!

Monday, April 15, 2013

We've been down this road before...

And we'll go down it again. I have nothing more to say than I said here.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Remington

Well, here goes. Remington has decided not to move out of New York. I must say I am disappointed with the reaction from the gunny community. Far too many people are clamoring for a boycott of Remington over this.

Remington was faced with a really tough business decision. They could stay in New York and have to face the draconian new New York laws and ire of the gunnies, or they could uproot a company going on 2 centuries in the same location, with huge costs both direct of moving and in lost revenue. The costs of a move are astronomical, and the benefits are pretty much straight up philosophical.

I am disappointed in the decision myself. I want these laws to hurt the people who pass them. Remington moving would have been a major slap to New York, one that would make Magpul's move seem insignificant. It would be the kind of gesture that would make the history books.

In the end though, it would be merely a gesture. A huge and long term decision in response to a law that is already facing huge opposition and could very well be gone in a couple years is just not a good business decision for them. I still consider Remington a friend of the Second Amendment.

I mentioned this a couple posts ago about Lego. The same applies here. We need to be careful to not throw our friends under the bus for merely not doing enough. It's not like Remington came out and endorsed SAFE or pulled a Bill Ruger. Their offense is in inaction, and I just don't see it as being sufficient to sever ties with a good company. No, they didn't do all that I would like them to, but it's not my decision, and it's not hurting me. It doesn't do anything extra for New York. It just doesn't punish them.

Yes, I think New York deserves punishment for their ridiculous laws. I don't think it's reasonable to expect Remington to be the one to dish out that punishment though.

It's not like they pulled an HS Precision move here. This is just something of an unfortunate fact of business. If we as gunnies want to punish New York, then we should be putting our money where our mouths are and helping Remington to leave the state. We should NOT be trying to punish New York with Remington's money. That's a progressive move.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Pics or it Didn't Happen

On request from TheRedneckEngineer, here's a picture of the lowers and an in progress shot. It really happened.

Now time to call the NRA press office and see about getting media credentials for the national meeting.



Monday, April 1, 2013

Lego for Adults, and Lego for Kiddies

As some of you know, I spent a couple days this past weekend at The Redneck Engineer's place building a couple AR lowers. I find it infinitely entertaining and pleasing that over the course of maybe 20 hours work, we were able to take two raw forgings and turn them into functional firearms. I had never done any milling work before, so it was about half working, and half TRE patiently explaining what exactly was going on and what we were doing. He's a good teacher and a good machinist both.

Neither lower is perfect. Tolerances are a bit loose in some spots, and a bit tight in others. They will take a little bit of hand fitting to work, and a bit more to make them pretty, but all the same, I am thrilled with the result.

There's no better way to understand how something works than to build it yourself. There were various parts on the AR that I knew how to work and what they did, but the specific nature of how they did it was lost on me. No more. Over the next few months, (probably not till after the insanity of parts buying dies down) I will be turning this lower into a fully functioning firearm. This pleases me.

On that note, I am open to suggestions on how to build the thing. I am disinclined to spend tons of money on high end parts, and am thinking of more of a fun plinking rifle. I am hoping to get some suggestions as to which parts are good and which are lousy, etc. I am not a purist when it comes to ARs. I like irons, but would take a decent red dot or holographic if it was reasonably inexpensive. I don't want magnification though.

I think I may be hooked on the whole gun building thing. I have been exasperating my father since Saturday with links to different frames and parts kits and welders. I want to build an AK. I want to build a 1911. I want to build a pistol caliber carbine of some flavor or another. I want to build a Springfield 1903. I'm hooked on yet another expensive hobby.


I also wanted to take a moment to address this craziness: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/04/01/lego-to-pull-anti-islamic-star-wars-toy-set-following-muslim-furor/ .

I'm sorry, but you don't get to tell other people to do anything just because you're offended. I personally don't see any reason to get offended over it. It's not terribly similar to Hagia Sophia apart from being a square building with a domed roof. It comes straight from the movie. And in any case, Hagia Sophia was originally a Christian cathedral. It's hardly the definitive piece of Muslim architecture.

And you know what? Even if it depicted Mohammed himself shooting off an AK in one hand and dragging a chained slave woman in the other, with Allahu Akbar stickers everywhere and generally as offensive as possible, the only real recourse is this. DON'T BUY IT. Boycott Lego. Ask other people to boycott. Just don't try to tell anyone what to do. They have every right to make Legos that look like whatever they want. And honestly, the Lego Ninjago and Legends of Chima have far more racially charged imagery than Jabba's palace. I doubt the turks give the slightest iota of care about that. It's not about being offensive, it's about offending THEM.

I see this same attitude all the time, and I'm just tired of it. All these whiny children with visions of totalitarianism trying to enforce their will on everyone else in the name of 'fairness' and 'political correctness' are just inane and stupid. If you're offended, go somewhere else. It's not anyone else's job to please you.

I've heard people criticize Lego over the decision to pull the set. I see both sides on that one. I'd prefer they stand firm and do what they believe is right, but it's not my company, not my reputation, and not my money. Companies have to pick their battles. I don't have the link handy, but it's the same thing with Magpul almost making the 'naughty' list of gun companies because they were too busy fighting the Colorado mag ban. Lego isn't doing anything actively in promotion of them. They just decided it wasn't worth fighting. We criticize the progressives for trying to tell other people how to spend their money. We need to be careful in return not to try to tell other people what battles to fight.