Thursday, March 28, 2013

Obama's Blood Ballet, Plus Things that Make Me Wonder

Obama uses grieving mothers as props. 

Also, I would like to remind the NRA AGAIN that they did not help take out Harry Reid in 2010.  This should not even come to a vote.

Eighty or ninety percent of Americans believe there should be background checks?  Probably ninety percent (or more) of gun sales have background checks.  Every firearm sold by a licensed dealer already requires a background check.

The question should be what percentage supports requiring background checks for selling your old shotgun to your brother-in-law?  What percentage of Americans believes you need to run a background check on your daughter before giving her a revolver to keep in her nightstand?  What is the percentage who support universal background checks?  And, of those who do, what percentage understands that such a process requires a universal firearms registry?

How many people understand that they will be criminals if this law is passed, and they refuse to register their firearms?  We are not talking slippery slopes.  Universal background checks are simply unenforceable without registration, and, to be meaningful, such registration would have to include every firearm in America.

Meanwhile, the late and unlamented murderer of children in Newtown and the excuse for this nonsense '' ... had accumulated an arsenal that included pistols, rifles, revolvers, shotguns, swords, knives and other "cutting instruments."

The malicious murderer of unarmed and undefended schoolchildren

... shot his way into the building and killed 20 children and six adults with a Bushmaster .223 caliber model XM15 rifle. The Bushmaster was loaded with a 30-round capacity magazine. Fourteen rounds were in the magazine when the Bushmaster was recovered by police. There was one round in the chamber.

The shooter took his own life with a single shot from a Glock 10 mm handgun. He also had a loaded 9mm Sig Sauer P226 handgun with him. He also had three magazines for the Bushmaster, each containing 30 rounds, and additional ammo for the handguns.
When the carnage was over, police counted 154 spent bullet casings.
Emphasis is mine.

Something is interesting here:  ... [The murderer's] deadly rampage took no longer than five minutes from the time [the murderer] forced his way into the school to when he turned a gun on himself ...

How many magazine changes in five minutes?  Even if the punk emptied three 30-round magazines and half of a fourth, that is 105 shell casings.  However, it doesn't actually say that the other three magazines were emptied, it just gives details on the magazine in the Bushmaster.  He killed himself with the Glock 10mm.  Did he kill any of the victims with handgun rounds?  Also, though I take it to mean he had three mags in addition to the one in the gun, you could read that as three total.  In fact, assuming that the journalist here is a native English speaker, it kind of sounds like those three additional magazines still had 30 rounds in them.  That would be ... different.

Read the article and see what you think.

No matter what, at minimum, roughly a third of those shell casings would had to have come from handguns.  I would guess that it was probably more than that.  In any case, I suspect that it is inaccurate to say that he killed 26 people with a .223 rifle.  He probably used the rifle mainly for entry and for shooting the adults at longer ranges.  This was not a strong, healthy young man.  His picture reminds me of H.P. Lovecraft -- except less robust.  He was depending on the Bushmaster to keep the adults away.  (Murderer's image from Yahoo story link above.  Lovecraft image from

Once he had brutally gunned down the teacher who tried to keep him out of her classroom, he had access to a huddled mass of shocked, terrified, and immobile little children who had, tragically, been herded by the teacher into a confined space.  It was too convenient.  The range was too short.  The punk would have pulled the handguns and begun firing at almost point-blank range. 

Consider the time frame.  The punk forces his way into a building.  He starts shooting while still in the halls.  The administrators call the police.  He had to get down the halls and past the teachers.  I can't see that taking less that a minute and a half.  After that, even averaging a round per second with magazine changes which had to have taken place, three minutes minimum, and our time is almost up.

Assuming the very best possible response from the police and patrol cars in the immediate vicinity, there are no officers in the building at this point.  Are the sirens audible yet?  They won't be to the punk.  He has been firing non-stop for three solid minutes in a closed room.  He couldn't hear thunder.  Was he wearing plugs?  That would be bizarre, but it wouldn't change the fact that he wouldn't be able to hear.  Maybe he was wearing high-end electronic hearing protection.  This was a trained shooter and wearing hearing protection would be a habit with him.  But, if he wasn't using electronic muffs which suppress the louder sounds and can amplify quieter ones, there's no way he stopped because he heard the sirens.  He clearly wasn't out of ammunition.

Were all the babies he could see dead at that point?  Perhaps he had expended his frustration and anger.  Perhaps the reality of what he had done, the unutterable horror of it broke through to whatever ephemeral humanity remained in his vile soul. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Combat Mentality

I do not think it will ever get this hardcore in my neck of the woods, but Selco of SHTF School talks about the reality of combat

The world is getting so weird, so off an even keel, one does begin to wonder if it can continue to right itself.  Some places, like Selco's own Balkans twenty years ago, did fall apart.  It's interesting to think that the reason for the violence was ethnic diversity -- tribalism.  What seems to be at the forefront of political considerations in America today?  Diversity, subcultures, ethnic groups, demographic splits -- aka, tribalism.

Selco is worth the read even if, like me, you don't think it will ever get anywhere near that bad here.

Cyprus, TARP, MF Global, GM, Gunwalker -- How Come Nobody's in Jail?

We are a simple people out here in flyover-country.  We tend to think that stealing is a crime and should be punished.  One of the most "American" scenes in the classic Stagecoach is when the banker, Gatewood, is arrested for embezzlement.  Remember, too, that the plot in It's a Wonderful Life is driven by the threat of scandal and prosecution because Uncle Billy misplaced $8,000 which was stolen by Potter.

It used to be sort of intuitive that bankers and other fiduciary agents who embezzled monies, who committed fraud and otherwise illegally deprived working people of their hard-earned savings should be prosecuted as thieves. 

We are not for bail-outs.  I don't think the government ought to come in -- if my bank goes belly-up -- and make sure that I get all my money back.  We have deposit insurance and we should understand the limits of that.  We should also have the good sense to know that if bank failures are too widespread, the FDIC will be bankrupt itself.  Our expectation should be that if a banker has acted negligently or maliciously, he should go to jail.  That may not help me or the other defrauded depositors in a given case, but it will send a message to future agents that such irresponsible or criminal behavior has consequences.

After all, this is why we punish criminals.  Sending a rapist to prison or a murderer to the gas chamber does not undo the horror of the crime, but if we fail to act punitively we only encourage future misdeeds.  

Unless and until the people who were responsible for the condition of the Cypriot banks are prosecuted and jailed, no one has any business confiscating deposits.  If the banks have failed, they have failed.  Those who have insured accounts should be recompensed up to the limit, then the criminals -- whomever they might be -- should be dragged out in handcuffs and leg-irons and thrown so far down in the Hole that they have to pipe in daylight.

And while we are at it, the same should happen to Jon Corzine. 

And Eric Holder and everyone else involved in "Fast and Furious" up to and including NMP Obama. 

When we are finished jailing those who violated the law by smuggling guns to Mexico, we should drag them out and prosecute them for defrauding the bondholders of General Motors.   Every senator and representative who voted for TARP, to use taxpayer money to bail out the banks and financial institutions who had acted -- at the very least -- irresponsibly is an accessory after the fact to misappropriation of funds.

The looting, mismanagement, outright fraud and theft will not stop until somebody is dragged before a bench and sentenced to HARD time.  The government's job is not to save the banks.  It is to enforce the law and defend the citizens against criminal activity.

Prosecute the lawbreakers, the embezzlers, the thieves.  

Do your job.  Or get out of the way.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Establishing Credibility -- Updated with the corrected link

Oleg Volk, in addition to being possibly the best photographer of firearms on the planet, is a solid thinker.  He pinpoints the reason behind the mere presence of a firearm acting as a deterrent. 

If threatened by someone physically larger and stronger -- as is usually the case when males attack females, skill is not visible.  Muscle, weight, and physical presence are obvious.  A 98-pound woman may have the best Kung Fu there is, but she is going to have to use it if she is targeted by a 250-pound rapist.  On the other hand, if a woman or a fragile, elderly man had a gun in hand, an attacker may decide, as Falstaff, that discretion is the better part of valor.

This is why firearms are the best self-defense weapons in almost every situation. 

It Comes Down to A Simple Question -- Updated

Can you trust the government?

For the last several decades, many people in the West believed that a democratically elected government could be trusted to generally do the right thing.  I do not count myself among those, partly because of native, genetic skepticism and partly because I have had some experience as an employee of government entities.

Journalists, especially broadcast journalists, attack, defend, or ignore the government and government actions depending upon whether or not their favorite section of the oligarchy gets democratically elected.  Abu Ghraib was a really big deal because some Iraqi had panties put on his head, and George Bush was president.  Benghazi was not a big deal because a U.S. Ambassador and three other Americans were brutally murdered, and Barack Obama was president.  Journalists have become, more and more, simply reviewers of the latest political stage show which has all the gripping reality of "Real Housewives of Orange County Choppers" or "Fairies 'Cross the Jersey".  (Bonus points for anyone who knows the reference for the last one.  It means you are probably over 50 and/or watch too many PBS music features.)  

There is a good chance the Cyprus crisis will fade out of the news cycle, no matter what happens.  Life will continue to be "normal" for most of us.  The talking heads will go back to talking about Snoop Otter's drug arrest or Rand Paul's secret membership in Possum Lodge.  But for a lot of people, Cyprus has raised the question of who is actually in control.  Do the citizens of Cyprus have control of their own resources, lives and futures?  Or are they subjects, the pawns of international organizations run, ultimately by a fairly small group of elitists?

I am not suggesting an Illuminati-type of conspiracy.  I think it is much simpler than that.  You have people at the top of various organizations -- governmental, quasi-governmental, and seemingly private, whose interests often converge.  Those converging interests of the elite are often at odds with the interests of the masses.  In a truly free market where currencies are pegged to some sort of objective standard and correspond, at least in some degree, to measurable assets, that some rise to the top is not really an issue.  It may be done on the basis of talent and wisdom or by contacts and school ties.  We don't care because the market will determine our own success or failure.  The trouble is in our modern world of fiat currencies and obscure, occult manipulations of money supplies and markets, of regulatory machinations and centralized controls and "planned" economies, those various organizations can do about what they like.

Very few politicians are willing to play Toto and draw back the curtains.  Fewer still do so with any success.  It is a dangerous business for nosy dogs with youthful bones buried.

The danger of a Cyprus is not in the amount of money involved, but in the exposure of the controls of the system, in the spreading realization that we are being manipulated to the benefit of those doing the manipulating.  The parasites seeking only bread and circuses do not, for the most part, care -- so long as the circus is in town and their distended bellies are full.  But those of us who are working and producing, building and creating, investing and saving do care.  And if we stop, if we drop our harness and leave that wagon full of riders in the road ... well, they don't want that.

Updated with Zero Hedge -- Really, enslaving you and stealing your assets, it's for your own good.

I don't know about the Bitcoin thing, but I do know a little about barter.  As Denninger has pointed out recently, when you get right down to it, you possess what you can defend.  Some say your real wealth is your knowledge and your skill.   I would add wisdom.

Blessed is the one who finds wisdom,
and the one who gets understanding,
for the gain from her is better than gain from silver
and her profit better than gold.
-- Proverbs 3:13-14

Take my instruction instead of silver,
and knowledge rather than choice gold,
for wisdom is better than jewels,
and all that you may desire cannot compare with her.
-- Proverbs 8:10-11

How much better to get wisdom than gold!
To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.
-- Proverbs 16:16

Just keep in mind that silver is really, really good.  Nothing wrong with having both.

And one more -- If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. (James 1:5)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

One of These Is Not Like the Other

In price anyway:

SMKW Condor Golok Machete $49.99

Garrett Wade Personal Machete $79.99

The difference?  Garrett Wade markets to gray-ponytails and hipsters.  SMKW markets to rednecks and hillbillies. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Question of Possession -- Updated

I said that my wife was fixing to empty one or more accounts in the wake of the Cyprus debacle.

She called the bank to see about, hypothetically, pulling out cash, rather than, say, a cashiers' check.  The maximum that can be taken out at one time is $30,000, from this particular institution.  There are only so many hundred dollar bills in the house, and they probably have to get special-order a shipment in from the nearest Federal Reserve -- and my name probably goes on a list.

Just an interesting tidbit for consideration.

UPDATE:  Yes, indeed my name goes on a list because I could be laundering drug money.  The VP at the bank told my wife not worry because there is no way such a confiscation of accounts could happen here.  After all we are insured by the FDIC -- backed by the full faith and credit of the federal government.  The bank is sound as a dollar.  You don't want to keep money in your house.  What if it burned down?  You could be robbed.   

The fact that she was so quickly booted up to the VP -- I've met him, he's a good guy -- indicates that she is probably not the only inquirer they have spoken to the last couple of days.  (Interestingly, the VP suggested putting her cash in a safe deposit box.  I am not sure, but I think I have heard that is illegal.)
It can happen here.  It has happened here.  It almost certainly will happen here at some point.  All it takes is for a desperate government to levy a "tax" on existing bank accounts.  John Roberts said last summer that any kind of tax is "constitutional" if Congress passed it.  And, of course, it will be limited to the "rich", so those living off the government teat will not be adversely impacted.  There will probably also be waivers and exemptions for teachers and other public sector union members.

This may be no big deal, but it may be a crack in the public trust.  The worst thing that can happen is for people in general to perceive that the house is rigging the game -- not just working the odds, but blatantly and brazenly strong-arming.  It is as if, even when your bet pays off and you start to walk away from the table, the house's muscle comes over and demands a portion of your winnings.  At that point, the players understand, and it stops being a game at all.  

Running Hot and Cold

On the Theo Spark blog, Alan Caruba offers us the prospect of a Mini Ice Age.

So far I am unconvinced that chilly temperatures in March on the Plateau are anything other than weather.  The problem with models and the predictions thereof is that the modeler can only plug in so many parameters -- even if all known factors are included, there are, to riff off Rumsfeld, an unknown number of unknowns remaining.

The weatherman was on last night pointing to a mass of cold air being held up in Canada.  The Border Patrol is still unsure about its passport.  This has not been "drained off", as the man explained, so it is likely that we will continue getting hit with the kitchen sink -- or at least the refrigerator door until some time in April.  Also, there is a big snow-pack up north.  This works somewhat like ice in your cooler.  We normally don't think about that, but not only does this cool the air at the surface, a large area of snow-covered ground is absorbing a lot less solar radiation and reflecting a lot more off into space, causing, perhaps, lunar warming.  If the Moon bursts into flames some night, we'll know why.

I'm a global warming/climate change/mini ice age skeptic.  So far I observe that the northern hemisphere warms in the summer and cools in the winter.  There are variations in this. I am not sure why, and until the local weatherman can beat the Old Farmers' Almanac on a regular basis, I'm pretty sure Science! doesn't know why either.   

Global cooling and a mini-Ice Age would be a lot more disastrous, especially in the short-term, than a Celsius degree increase in the average temperature.  Anyone for famine, war, and political upheaval?  Caruba suggests that is what happened last time.  I'm hardly ready to accept that "[w]orld cooling is locked in ...", as one of the experts quoted by Caruba insists.  But if some the witchdoctors pushing their bogus CO2 models for climate change suffer frostbite, I would think it poetic justice.     

Meanwhile, weather in general is something the prudent should always factor in when making preparations.  Some seasons are not going to be as good as others.  Diversification is your friend in these cases.  During the 1930s, in the face of widespread summer drought here on the Plateau that thwarted all efforts to raise wheat, corn or oats, it still rained enough along toward fall that the hillbillies could raise a crop of turnips (remember that scene from Gone with the Wind?).  Turnips fed both man and beast through the winter.  One wag returned from a doctor's visit to report that his medical issues were a result of his blood being 90% turnip juice. 

Planning to improvise, as someone said, is not a plan, but being flexible and willing to innovate and adapt is a key to human survival and prosperity.  

Monday, March 18, 2013

Cyprus and the Fable of Omar's Woodpile

Who cares about what happens in Cyprus?  The Russians for one -- seems a lot of the oligarchy decided to stash their cash in Cypriot banks.  It must be some sort of traditional Russian thing, because Cyprus has never been a particularly stable country that I can recall. 

The Market Ticker has a whole series of posts about the crisis in Cyprus that are worth reading.  Denninger seems think it is a very big deal and the lead-in to the ultimate crash.

The reason the "big one" has not hit is not because arithmetic is wrong.

One of our most beloved and storied neighbors was a mild-mannered, good-humored man who was handy in a Red Green sort of way.  This was before duct tape became widely used, so Omar made do with whatever was at hand.  He cut some firewood and loaded his old truck -- a two-wheel drive made of various parts and pieces of other trucks.  The ground was frozen when Omar started out that morning, but by late afternoon, things had begun to thaw.  Up on the ridge where he was cutting, it didn't matter, but as he crossed a bottom field with his overloaded rig, he hit a soft spot and sank to the axle.  Omar got out of the truck with his jack, pulled a chunk of wood off the load, place it on the ground, placed the jack on top of it and started cranking.  Of course, the chunk sank and the truck stayed right where it was.  Omar sighed, sat down cross-legged, reversed the jack, pulled another stick off the truck, placed it on top of the sunken one, replaced the jack and started cranking.  Over and over the process was repeated.

Now it is true that Omar did get his truck out because his stack of chunks eventually reached bedrock or at least something solid.  He pulled some more wood off to throw under the sunken wheel.  The combination of traction, support, and a noticeably lighter load resulted in success, at the cost of a great deal of time and energy, as well as wood that would have to be cut again.  Fortunately, the hills around here were and are fairly good at growing oak and ash and hickory. 

As far as time, Omar was a time sheik.  He could spend time like it was going out of style -- not that he lived so long as much as he lived so well.  No one ever had to cut him any slack; he possessed in overflowing abundance.  His extravagances in this regard were most admirable.  I only wish I had the same riches. 

Anyway, our global financial situation is much the same as Omar's stuck wood truck.  Japan has been jacking and stacking for the better part of two decades.  The Japanese had a very big load to start with, but it is starting to look a little lean while their pit seems bottomless.  Europe all piled into one truck, loaded mainly with wood from Germany and the Nordic members.  The truck is already empty but the Germans are ferrying wood down by wheelbarrow to throw in the hole.  China has a big pile of European and especially American wood, but a lot of it is hollow, and some of it is too badly decayed to do much good.  The Chinese, along with the Russians, the Brazilians and the Indians, are still up on the hillside eying the fools stuck in the bottom and wondering how they are going to get home with the road blocked up.

The U.S. had the biggest truck and the biggest load.  Every so often the Chinese drive down and toss us a few more sticks.  We haven't cut wood in quite some time, and our truck is empty.  The Federal Reserve is stuffing paper down the hole, but it doesn't seem to be giving us much lift.  We are also shifting and swapping sticks of the Chinese wood with the Bank of Japan and the European Central Bank when no one is looking so we can continue the fiction that we still have something to keep us warm in the long, long financial winter just ahead.  The bad news is that the woodlot is looking a little thin and the chainsaws are running out of gas.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Doctors, Firearms, and Bad Analogies

A couple of months back, Dr. Pamela Wible decided it would be beneficial to compare the ease of buying an "assault weapon" with the ease of contacting a doctor. 

I'm sure Dr. Wible is a fine physician.  I suppose her point would be that getting a firearm is too easy and getting a doctor is too hard.  Many of the comments are very lucid and appropriate.  I will try not to plow that ground again. 

I went to my local physician a while back and basically had nothing wrong with me.  He asked me how I stay so healthy.  I told him that I tend to stay away from doctors.  Doctors, generally by prescribing medications that have multiple adverse effects, do a great deal of harm to their patients.  The patients usually want this because taking a handful of pills is easier than losing weight or getting off the couch or doing something positive instead of worrying.  But if I want to go see my general practitioner, I don't have any more trouble getting in to see him than I do getting an appointment with a dentist or even a good mechanic. 

Right now there is not an AR-type rifle available anywhere around here in the gunshops.  Perhaps Dr. Wible is happy about that. 

The fact is that firearms are generally much more useful than doctors.  I use my firearms on a fairly regular basis for recreational targeting shooting as well as hunting and pest eradication.  I've never needed to use a firearm in self-defense, but I would suggest pointing a Glock at someone is a lot more likely to stop an attack than pointing a proctologist at them.

One of Dr. Wible's complaints is that the suicide rate is very high in Oregon and doctors are very likely to kill themselves.  She claims that doctors will go buy a gun and kill themselves the same day, with the receipt still being in the bag.  Where I come from we have a word for that:  bullshit.  I am not calling Dr. Wible a liar because I am sure she was told by someone who had a second cousin whose babysitter's pediatrician did exactly that.  Firearms are the preferred method for suicide because they work and are a lot less trouble than some of the other methods.  However, I know of a pastor who was accused of child molestation.  He went out, bought a rope, and hanged himself in his shed.  The receipt for the rope was still in the bag.   

Doctors, of course, don't have easy access to drugs that would be painless and fatal.  They don't know how to tie knots.  They probably don't know how to slice their carotid arteries with a razor-sharp scalpels after numbing the site with a local anesthetic they would not be able to get.  Doctors don't drive cars, and if they do, they are probably not smart enough to figure a way to run the engine and painlessly asphyxiate themselves with carbon monoxide.  So, if guns weren't so darned easy to get, doctors would have to wait around to be killed off by their incompetent peers -- like the thousands of patients who die every year as a result of medical mistakes and malpractice. 

As much as I prefer firearms to physicians, I will admit that doctors come in handy now and then.  As I have said before, I would have been dead more than forty years ago and blind today without the skill and knowledge of good surgeons.  By the way, the surgeon who saved my life used come down and go quail hunting with us.  He had a gun and yet never killed himself.  It was a miracle.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Nineteenth Hole: The Pit and the Putter

Yet another man in a sinkhole story.

At least the Creve Coeur golfer survived the fall.

In Soviet Illinois, hole plays you.

Lots of good stuff here:  

Mihal said it was a real downer on what had been a fine outing.  

No kidding.  

Fortunately for Mihal, who damaged his shoulder in the fall, he didn't need a wedge or have to play it where it lay.  He had stepped over to investigate an odd "bathtub-looking indentation".  When he stepped on it, because "[i]t didn't look unstable", he started falling.

Here's a clue, folks, a bathtub-looking indentation would necessarily show some cracking and separation around the edges.  This might indicate some instability.  I mean, it wasn't shaking like lime Jello or spewing molten lava, so I figured it was solid.  Right?  Flash to the apes looking at the monolith.  Might as well step on it.  What's the worst that could happen?

Is it possible alcohol was involved?

His golfing buddies didn't see him vanish into the earth but noticed he wasn't visible, figuring he had tripped and fallen out of sight down a hill. But one of them heard Mihal's moans and went to investigate.
"He just thought it was some crazy magic trick or something," Mihal said.
Because people are always doing crazy magic tricks on the golf course over in Waterloo.  It's a Prairie State tradition.  They say it started with Abe Lincoln.

Fortunately for Mihal, his group included a sweater-clad real-estate agent, who, with the help of a rope, was able to retrieve the one-in-a-hole.

Too bad they didn't have a giant version of that ball-retriever thing golfers use.  It would have come in handy.

Mihal should feel fortunate that he was swallowed by a sinkhole rather than mashed by a meteor.  

Statists Are Above the Law

So, the mighty Jim Hoft tells us that former Shuttle astronaut, husband of shooting victim Gabrielle Giffords, and likely future politician, Mark Kelly decided to pull a cute publicity stunt that did not involve dragging his brain-damaged wife around as a show-and-tell prop.  He went to an Arizona gun dealer and bought an AR-type rifle, which he erroneously calls an assault weapon, with no intention of keeping the rifle.  As anyone who has filled out the ATF form for a firearms purchase knows, one of the questions which the signer must answer is if the firearm is being purchased for oneself. 

To buy a firearm for another person -- whether that person can pass a background check or not -- is defined as "straw-buying".  There are people sitting in jail cells right now who knowingly acted as straw-buyers.  Mark Kelly perjured himself on a federal form, and, were he an evil conservative, he would likely be prosecuted for this.  Of course, it is unlikely that a conservative would ever do anything like this and then be stupid enough to post it on Fakebook and hold a press conference admitting to it.

I don't think, for the record, that Mark Kelly should be prosecuted, but I do think his credibility on this issue should be questioned.  It's one thing to have the "high moral ground" and be all indignant about one's wife being shot in the head -- by a madman with a handgun incidentally.  It is quite another to deliberately break the law to make a point about how easy it is for an upstanding citizen with no past criminal record -- a freaking astronaut -- to buy a perfectly legal firearm.  Justice would argue that Kelly never be allowed to buy another firearm since he would like to deny that right to the rest of us.  Plus, he, unlike the rest of us, committed a federal felony.

While we're on the subject of high moral ground, being a victim does not give one the high ground.  Being moral and doing the right thing, the honest thing, the honorable thing secures the high moral ground.  It doesn't matter whether or not a person belongs to a protected class or the political class or whether a person has suffered some injustice in life.  I would guess that the vast majority of us have gotten the short end of the stick on occasion.  Everybody could claim some form of victim-hood if we were to think about it long enough.  Most of us have better things to do and better sense than to do it. 

I feel great sympathy for Ms. Giffords and her family -- even for her opportunistic husband.  They suffered something no one should have to suffer.  But a lot of people experience what could be called unnecessary tragedies.  A little nine-year-old girl was murdered in that same incident by that same madman.  She is rarely mentioned these days.  She is just one of the six people who died.  Gabrielle Giffords survived.  The description of the incident always makes Giffords the main victim.  She was not, though she may have been the focus of the murderer's evil intent. 

People are killed on the highways by drunk drivers every day in this country.  Children are diagnosed with cancer and other dread diseases.  People are murdered with weapons of all kinds daily on the streets of Chicago and Detroit and East St. Louis.  In a perfect world, none of those things would happen.  Every one of those deaths, every hampered and crippled life is "unfair".  Most of us, though, understand that death and disease, loss and suffering are as much a part of life as health and wholeness.  We live in an imperfect world, but it is a real world, and it is better to be free in it than to trade real liberty for false security. 

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. (I Corinthians 13:11, ESV)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Space Vikings

H. Beam Piper was not, perhaps, in the same league with science fiction writers like Heinlein and Asimov, but a couple of his books are classics.  Little Fuzzy is probably my favorite Piper book.  Jack Holloway is a great character who would fit right into the Firefly universe.  Another of Piper's works, Space Vikings, is a space opera of considerable scope that takes place within Piper's Terro-Human Future History.

The hero of Space Vikings is Lucas Trask.  When we meet Trask initially he is a feudal landholder on the planet of Gram.  In the aftermath of a great personal tragedy, Trask becomes what is known as a Space Viking, a raider from the civilized Sword Worlds upon the planets of the old Terran Federation that have fallen back into more primitive conditions.  In the course of his adventures, Trask initiates what may be a new empire and civilizing force in the universe.

Piper was something of a libertarian.  He wrote a great deal about guns, firearms still playing an essential role for humanity even in the far future.  Space Vikings is manly science fiction.  Self-reliance, courage, honor, and common sense are the virtues of Piper's heroes.  The characterizations in his work may seem a little too trite and conventional, and the habits and technologies may seem quaint or anachronistic -- everybody smokes tobacco, but for the most part, Piper's better works hold up well.  His world-building is rich and intriguing, allowing readers to overlook what would be weaknesses in lesser writers.  Past a few necessary leaps for the science and technology to work, Piper leaves few holes for critics to exploit.

Anyway, to the point of my post, Piper projects past history into his future history.  The planetary rebellion depicted in Uller Uprising parallels the Sepoy Uprising of British India.  In Space Vikings, the Sword Worlds, with their relatively small planetary populations, have adopted a benevolent form of feudalism, while the old Federation world of Marduk, with a much larger population, is a representative democracy with a parliamentary government and a nominal royal head of state -- very similar to the British system.

One of the princes of Marduk discusses government with Trask.  The Mardukan is shocked that the Sword Worlds use a feudal system but even more shocked by one of the "checks" in the system.  On the Sword Worlds, everybody has weapons.  On Marduk, where people are allowed to access the ballot box and elect their leaders, weapons are held only by the government.  Trask thinks this is tyranny.  The prince from Marduk thinks letting "the people" have weapons is a recipe for civil war and chaos.  Trask points out that a clever demagogue could take control on Marduk, which turns out to be exactly what happens.

I love firearms, but the issue we face today in America goes far beyond having one kind of gun or another.  We have to decide if we are going to live as free individuals or as slaves of the state.  There is really no middle ground despite the smooth, soothing and persuasive words of our own demagogues.  Free men are armed.  Free men pledge their allegiance and support to their government for mutual protection and benefit.  Slaves do what their masters say, and it does not matter one whit that the masters are "duly elected".  What difference did it make to the slaves on a plantation in the Old South that a new person occupied the Big House?  The same overseers swung the same bullwhips to keep them in line.

It might be time to think about the kind of government that works and what has gone wrong with ours.  It might also be wise to consider that the Founders had no problem with a navy (and would likely consider a strategic, defensive air force as a navy in essence), but they were quite wary of maintaining a standing army which could be used against civilian uprisings.  I think they would also be shocked and dismayed at the militarization and centralization of police powers in the United States. 

We are all familiar with the following quote:   

A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years.

We really don't know who said it -- but it was almost certainly not Alexander Fraser Tytler to whom it is often attributed.  Perhaps it is understandable that we cannot ascertain the name of the sage for, though it is very true, it is a sad truth, and few of us wish to be remembered for bearing bad news.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Fantasy Weaponry

Thinking about the TSA allowing SAKs on a plane got me to thinking about what I'd carry if there were no rules.  My firearm of choice would doubtless be a very short-barreled shotgun -- and, of course, I could get that if I were willing to pay the ATF for the stamp and register it as an AOW.  I guess I'll get by with 18.5 inches. 

If I knew my wife wouldn't divorce me -- or, more likely, kill me, I'd buy a blackpowder howdah pistol. 

It would be nice to have a BAR.  Again, if my wife would quit spending all my money on new trucks and motorcycles, I'd get a Barrett .50 as a substitute.  I'd have to carry it over to my nephew's place to find a safe place to shoot it where I could appreciate the effect. 

One firearm I might actually pick up would be a lever-action .44 magnum.  I can always use another lever-action.  I saw a Rossi on the rack locally a few days back but didn't have time to check the caliber.  The Mossberg "tactical" lever-actions are also kind of interesting.  They should leverage (sorry about that) their expertise from the 500 and 590 to create a slide-action with a detachable box magazine in various pistol and rifle calibers.  If it took AR-type accessories, that would be very cool.  One of the reasons my dad loved his Remington 7600 was because he loved his Remington 870 -- same motion.  Remington could also "tactify" the 7600 and add the .223.  Don't know if they could get it to accept AR mags, but that would be handy.  Seems like I heard Remington offers the 5.56 in a slide-action Down Under.  

Made, apparently from the infamous unobtainium, a Kel-Tec PMR30 is on my list -- 30 rounds of .22WMR in a polymer, autoloading handgun.  I'm sure readers are not surprised by my cultish choice.  Also, I wish I could justify buying one of their shotguns. 

My gripe about suppressors is similar to my gripe about short-barreled shotguns.  These should be standard, if not required, rather than restricted.

Some of my fantasy choices are not firearms.  If brass knuckles wouldn't get me hard time, I'd rather have a set of those than any other impact weapon short of a quarterstaff or a war-hammer.  I have threatened for years to buy an Indiana Jones-style whip.  The wife again.  But if I can ever figure out a good way to carry it concealed that doesn't involve coiling it around my belly ...

We can get flamethrowers, but genuine Greek fire is what we really need.  I always thought a mortar would be nice to have -- strictly for the fun of playing with the trajectories, of course -- maybe a spud mortar or a modest blackpowder version could be substituted.  
What would you like to have?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Browncoat Bon Mot du Jour

A government is a body of people -- usually notably ungoverned.  -- Shepherd Book, Firefly

This seems highly applicable in a week when the U.S. Attorney General who, in all likelihood, enabled the running of guns to Mexican drug cartels, stated that using drone strikes against U.S. citizens on American soil was acceptable.  He only "clarified" and corrected his remarks in the aftermath of a Senate filibuster that drew unwanted attention to the administration's low view of the Bill of Rights.

The Propaganda Continues: Gun Laws Equal Fewer Gun Deaths

Link to Yahoo -- I know there's another better report on this out there that goes into more detail.  I'll add that if and when I have time to look for it.

The bottom line on this is that the study includes suicides.  People who want to commit suicide and have firearms tend to use firearms for the attempt, especially males.  People who don't have easy access to firearms and want to commit suicide use carbon monoxide, hemp, gravity, etc.

Also, the whole concept of a "gun death rate" can be extremely misleading.  How many of those deaths are the result of self-defense shooting?  How many are accidental?  We would certainly expect a higher rate of accidents where there is a higher rate of access and ownership.

Compare the murder rate in New Jersey to the murder rate in Oklahoma.  That's really the issue.   

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Another Sign of the End: Common Sense at the TSA

A little good news we can use.  Via Fox News, the TSA will allow small knives in passenger carry-on bags.  The Stew Union is not happy, but I think passengers know how to deal with someone who threatens an attendant or another passenger with a Swiss Army Knife these days.  They should require duct tape in carry-ons

This is for "Swiss Army-type knives -- specifically, ones with blades no longer than 2.36 inches".  If you are wondering where they came up with that number, I think it would translate to 6 centimeters.  The bigger blade on my favorite Victorinox is exactly 6 cm, while the one on my favorite Wenger is 5.3 cm.  I think I'd take the Wenger, because the blade is going to be well under the limit.  And I wouldn't feel as bad if they confiscated it -- not that I wouldn't be mad, I just probably wouldn't start a fight and need to be duct-taped.

But don't try to take your favorite box-cutter:  

Under the TSA decision, however, box-cutter type knives used by the 9/11 hijackers are still prohibited. Razors as well as knives with molded grips also are still banned.
I guess those are assault-type box-cutters, and "molded grips" are practically pistol-grips which are only used on weapons of mass retention.  At least it is a step away from total insanity. 

Also newly non-prohibited are "... lacrosse sticks, ski poles and small, souvenir baseball bats."  Personally I think the lacrosse-stick exemption is very close to profiling -- which is a good thing. 

Just a Quick Follow-Up on the LaserLyte

My initial review is here.

This is still working well.  I'm very happy with it.  What I would add is that I have found the cartridge alone, apart from the target to be a very beneficial dry-fire tool.  During the day, I keep my XDM on my desk with the LaserLyte cartridge in the chamber and practice firing at various objects around the room when I'm not busy.

I will warn of one bad habit I have picked up because of practicing with this device.  Last night I was down in the holler shooting live ammo from 25 yards.  I holstered my handgun to go over and check my target.  When I returned to the firing line and drew the XDM, I automatically racked the slide and ejected a live round into my hand.  It has just become second nature to cycle the action manually when dry-firing, but I have been cooped up saving ammunition the last few weeks.  Once the weather warms up and Bass Pro or Academy or Midway gets in some more cheap FMJs, I'll get my context cues reset and be all right.

The only difference in POI accuracy that I notice is that live ammunition prints higher.  The Springfield is not comped so I get a little muzzle flip.  But I can still plug the center a lot more regularly than I could a month or two ago. 

Bad Laws

Something to ponder:  one of the ways the federal government has accrued such extensive, far-reaching, intrusive power -- in fact, maybe the primary way, has been intervening in state and local situations where it was perceived that "bad" laws prevailed.  The old Jim Crow laws of the South that made segregation not just acceptable but legally required were bad.  The federal government stepped in with the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act.

Bad laws forced black children to be schooled separately from white children.  Then, even in the north, where there were no such laws, the federal courts ordered "forced busing to achieve racial integration" -- overriding, not legal discrimination but geographical and community preferences.

I think there was some legitimacy to the federal government acting as an umpire to make the states play by the rules -- the Constitution -- with regard to freedom and equal treatment.  But this has led to the federal government piling bad law on top of bad law, shredding the spirit of the Constitution, often even trampling on the letter.  When the state and local governments legislated against "life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness", the aggrieved could appeal to the federal courts and the federal system.  Now that it is the federal government acting as the oppressor and tyrant, where do we go to get rid of our bad laws?

The bad law issue is a double-edged sword.  Certainly it has played into the hands of those who desire to centralize power and control.  However, it has also established a precedent if we can communicate it.  There is such a thing as bad law.  The oppressed were correct in acting contrary to the laws of states.  It is no different if we need to act contrary to the laws today.  If it was acceptable for minorities to resist the immoral and unfair, though legal restrictions they faced in the past, it is acceptable for us today.

The Constitution does not allow for the suppression of offensive speech or for suppression of religious expression in any context.  I am allowed to express my understanding of the truth even if -- especially if it offends or hurts the feelings of others.  Inoffensive speech needs no Constitutional protection.

So, too, with the other natural human rights enumerated by the founding documents.  These are our rights.  Yes, we accept some limitations, some balancing of my rights against my neighbors in order for us to live in peace and harmony and not damage one another unnecessarily.  But these limitations should apply only with regard to those things that cross the boundary and physically or materially impact our neighbors in a negative way.  We can't dump our raw sewage on the ground or run it onto our neighbor's property, for example, so we all work cooperatively to build sewage systems -- or we agree to comply with the necessary and reasonable requirements of disposal. In any case, the adverse effects must be material and the restrictions minimal.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Bull Run or just Bull

Stock market could be starting a big three year run.

The analysis is based on P/E ratios versus interest rates, and it makes sense in a way.  If the Fed continues money-printing and ZIRP, it's quite possible that the Dow and the S&P could continue to climb -- not unlike the way the price of a donkey's head and doves' dung escalated during the siege of Samaria.  When every other investment is losing principal to inflation, even a bogus, inflated market starts to look good. 

My guess it that this is more happy talk trying to get individual investors sucked back in.  The fundamentals do not support the current level, let alone a massive run upward.  All it takes is one pinprick of an external event to turn exuberance to panic, and the crash hits big-time. 

I don't give investment advice. 

Homeland Security is Making Me Feel Insecure

This is reported on Gateway Pundit:  DHS is purchasing 2700 Light-Armored Vehicles

I am going to be perfectly honest.  I doubt the veracity of this story.  DHS is a the freaking Gestapo, but I cannot imagine the department justifying the purchase of mine-resistant vehicles.  So until I see something not from a blog and not based on something from a blog, I'm going to assume someone got their wires crossed.

I would be less skeptical if the number were 27 or even 270, not 2700.  That's just too much.  That's warfare.

Maybe I am too optimistic.  Maybe I doubt that they can afford to buy and outfit 2700 street sweepers.  If they can and have, we can easily cut billions from the DHS budget and reduce the deficit.

But check the wheelbase length and weight on those babies and dig your trenches accordingly.  It doesn't hurt to be a little ahead of the curve.