Thursday, January 31, 2013

Congress - Taking Down America, One Law at a Time

Occasionally, as the elder guy in my group, I get to go to meetings that aren't related directly to the current crop of problems and products that are busted.  Today, I got to attend a one hour briefing on a new law, a total inversion/rewrite of US Patent Law, called the America Invents Act of 2011, also known as the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act.  I only have one patent to my name, so it's not like I'm a regular fire hose blaster of the system, but I am familiar with the old patent system.

The AIA overturns the system at the core of American patent law.  Until now (well, until March of this year), a patent always was granted to the inventor who could prove they were the first to invent something.  Because of this, engineers and scientists always worked in bound notebooks, so that the pages are in date order and new pages couldn't be inserted into the book.  Many of you have seen and used these books.  If two parties claimed to invent something at the same time, the one who could show a dated document proving they invented it first were granted the patent. 

What will replace it is a first to file system.  This means that if you invent the next great whatever tomorrow, but don't get around to filing patent papers until next year, and someone else stumbles across the same idea in a few months but files faster, they get the patent.  Much of the rest of the world uses a first to file system, and I'm sure part of the justification here was to make us more like the much-adored Euro-weenies that they're always trying to compare us to. Naturally, being lawyers, they wrote a bunch of unclear stuff into it, and there's all sorts of exceptions and "loopholes" - intended and otherwise.

Our corporate attorneys said the law amounts to a "patent lawyers full employment act". 

What do I make of it?  Hard to say.  I need to do some more reading.  A couple of quick thoughts are that (1) I'm really skeptical of any law that leads to a "... lawyers full employment act" of any flavor lawyer (ewww....) and (2) there is some thought in the hi-tech community that patents aren't worth the cost and effort.  Small nimble companies innovate something and get it on the market.  If the idea is a winner, they sell a bunch and innovate something else, so that when the inevitable copies show up, they've made the money on the product, drop their price, and move on to the next innovative product.  If you have a patent, it doesn't do anything for you unless you sue for damages, and that can run on for a long time, and cost a lot of money.  Big companies love Intellectual Property and guard it jealously.  Smaller companies are taking a different cost/benefit view on patents.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Dereliction of Duty, Presidential Style

DiveMedic over at Confessions of a Street Pharmacist posts a link to a story skirting under the radar.  You should forgive the analogy because that's precisely what the story is about.  Market Daily News reports the administration is shutting down a major component of the southern US continental air defense system
Our southern border is, in part, protected by the Tethered Aerostat Radar System (TARS), which utilizes moored balloons hovering at about 15,000 feet to identify low flying aircraft and missiles that may penetrate the border and cross into U.S. airspace.
According to Exelis Systems Corporation, the company that built and jointly maintains TARS with the U.S. Air Force, the government has ordered a complete shutdown of Aerostat flight operations...
by March 15, 2013.  An employee of the contractor that runs the system said,
"These defense radars detect low flying aircraft infiltrating our borders.

Without these defense radars, low flying aircraft will go undetected.

It will be open season for any drug/gun/slave smugglers, terrorists flying in with nukes, low altitude missiles, or even a full scale low elevation invasion/attack against America."
The "Tethered Aerostat Radar System" is known locally by the nickname "Fat Albert" - the familiar big white blimps are visible at several locations around the southern US.  Originally used for drug interdiction, they're now part of the NORAD radar system used to watch for potential invasions of the Southern US.  They are not the only tools used in the air defense systems, with OTH radar stations covering southern approaches, and other options, but they are an integral part of it.

Still, it's hard not to notice that surveillance of the US population has increased with that massive data collection center the NSA is building in Utah, and the ongoing drills featuring helicopters flying low in Miami and Houston seem to presage some sort of coming military action in dense urban areas like, well, Miami and Houston.  It makes one inclined to think that the administration is more afraid of its citizens than invasion.  More concerned with enemies domestic than foreign.  I know I am.
(ITT Exelis)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Gun Buyback LOL

It's funny this happened, because a friend and I were discussing it just the other day.

Seattle was holding a gun "buyback" when a bit of free market broke out.  To quote the Blaze:
Hundreds of people showed up Saturday morning to give their rifles and shotguns as well as semi-automatic rifles to police in exchange for gift cards worth $100 and $200 respectively, KING 5 reports. The police planned to destroy the guns and use them as rebar in local construction projects.

Meanwhile, a number of private buyers set up a makeshift gun show-style event and offered cold hard cash for guns and even lured customers with donuts.

“I pay cash, I don’t give Amazon gift cards,” one dealer told a gun seller.
We were talking about this and both agreed it seems it would be as legal as any person-to-person gun sale, no different than if you placed a classified ad to buy or sell a gun.  As long as you didn't turn around and try to sell it right there, which would make you a dealer and require the FFL ticket.  If the city is giving out $100 Amazon cards, offer $125 or $150 for worthwhile guns.  Add to the collection. 
If it ends up not being as nice as you thought, sell it in a few weeks.  People buy and sell to add to  their collections all the time. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Anti-Bullying Programs Do Not Apply to the Obese

A few days ago, some scumbag senior researcher and retired president of the Hastings Center, Daniel Callahan, came up with an incredibly stupid idea: to save money on treating obese people, we need to shame them into compliance.  It has been all over the news.
In a controversial article, Daniel Callahan, the 82-year-old president emeritus of The Hastings Center a New York think-tank specializing in health policy ethics, calls for increased stigmatization of obese people to try spur weight-loss across America.
Personally, I don't know any group more stigmatized, ostracized and shamed than the obese.  The societal pressure on obese people, and particularly women, is enormous.  Sure is doing a lot of good, idnit?  From the Daily Mail
Dr Yoni Freedhoff, an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa and an author on obesity, told MailOnline: 'The one thing that’s not lacking in society is the stigmatization of people with obesity.

'If guilt and shame were sufficient to fuel long term weight management, the world would be a very skinny place indeed. Obesity is multi-factorial and driven by the world in which we live.'

Peggy Elam, a Nashville clinical psychologist specializing in eating disorders and a publisher of 'healthy body image' books said Callahan's views were 'horrifying'

'This kind of bullying has a tremendous impact on peoples lives. We've seen in the past decade or two a rise in the hospitalization of children under 12 with eating disorders. On a humanitarian level it is shocking he is encouraging such bullying.'
I happen to be reading a book by pediatric endocrinologist Robert Lustig: "Fat Chance".  If you're not familiar with his name or the book, you might possibly have heard of his video about sugar called, "The Bitter Truth".  Lustig himself says he never would have imagined that a 90 minute biochemistry lecture would get viewed at all on YouTube.  He assumed some family members might watch it.  Instead, it has gotten 3.2 million views.  Clearly there's a lot of people who are finding the mainstream dietary advice is not working for them and are looking into alternative hypotheses. 

I should interject here that while everyone has heard the term "obesity epidemic", there are questions about the whole concept that I'd like answers to.  Have they defined down the threshold for obesity?  That is, are weights that were considered "just overweight" a generation ago considered obese today?  If you look at pictures from 50s and 60s, where members of the general public are photographed, they don't look that different from today.  Of course, that's just a sample and may not depict a real cross-section of people.

Let's say that for now I'm willing to go with the idea that there might be more obesity today than a generation or two ago. Lustig says not only are more children obese, more infants are obese; even lab and food animals are more obese.  All of this is world wide.  He talks about seeing infants with fatty liver disease - previously almost unheard of.  His book, or at least the first quarter of it, is intense in biochemistry.  It's probably not a secret that he believes the root cause seems to be the uniquely damaging simple sugar fructose - probably in combination with other ingredients that excite different hormonal pathways in the body.  Glucose is used by every cell in the body, and if your diet doesn't include any, enough glucose to run your body is made in your liver from proteins.  Fructose, on the other hand, can be metabolized in only one organ: your liver.  In addition to being found in fruits, fructose is half the molecule of table sugar (sucrose) and is also found in corn syrup.  And, of course, the new industrial sweetener, HFCS - high fructose corn syrup.  (While sucrose is pretty much 50/50 glucose and fructose, HFCS is about 55/45 fructose to glucose).  There's a lot of buzz about how bad HFCS is for us, but I don't really see it as being all that different from sucrose.  It's just 5% different.

Just like the control debate, the wrong questions are being asked.  How about some successful treatments instead of just deciding to shame people.  Questions like: "is there really an obesity problem?" and "why do simple calories in vs. out models fail so dismally?"  Are there people who overeat because of emotional problems, stress, or other non-hormonal/non-chemical reasons?  Sure.  For a problem as big as they're claiming obesity is, and a long term success rate for treating obesity as low as it is, I'll bet real money that it has nothing to do with controllable behaviors that one could be shamed into complying with. 
(candid shot of your humble correspondent at the beach)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Prediction is the Essence of Science

Almost 20 years ago, I worked with a guy who was a very senior engineer and one of our go-to guys for the most difficult problems.  The kind of guy who could use a four-function calculator to solve anything - or get you close enough.  When we would work in a lab together it was always a crisis and a problem that had to be solved yesterday.  He'd have me create an experiment to try and determine which subsystem was the problem, and when the result was nowhere near anything he expected, he would use the phrase I've taken for the title of this post.  It took me a few repetitions to realize it was said in total frustration and irony. 

My version has come to be "there's nothing like a clear, useful result, and that was nothing like a clear, useful result".

NASA's office that predicts solar activity must feel like that sometimes.  The current cycle, 24 - the 24th since astronomers started keeping track of them - has stymied experts all along.  The period of solar inactivity between the previous cycle and this one was the longest and lowest minimum in a century (1911-1913) and the start date of cycle 24 was pushed out, while the predicted peak was lowered, every time a prediction was made (sample 2007 prediction here).  The solar wind was the weakest it had ever been measured in the 50s years of satellites that can measure it.  The current predictions are for a peak of this cycle to be in the coming fall, and to be the weakest peak in a century.  So far, this cycle is not living up to even that. Look where the blue smoothed sunspot number curve is next to the red prediction curve. 
NOAA predictions
The prolonged minimum between cycle 23 and 24 was the second longest since the Dalton minimum of the early 1800s.  The thing is, it may not be ending there.  In the '90s, astronomers Dr.s William Livingston and Matthew Penn of the Kitt Peak observatory in Arizona noted that their readings on the intensity of sunspots were trending downward.  They checked data many times and plotted trend lines.  Once they saw the lines, they published a paper showing that by 2015 there may be no sunspots left at all.  The paper was not well received, but about a decade later, they gathered another ten years' worth of data, reanalyzed everything and concluded they were right the first time.  (summary pdf here)  It's important to say they may well be wrong, but completely independent predictions from NASA and others are saying the next cycle, 25, is going to be even weaker than this one, and may approach quiet sun levels at its peak.  Which is to say the cycle simply may not happen.  Should we believe the predictions for cycle 25 when they've been so wrong predicting this one?

What does this mean to us?  Several things.  First the good news: those dire predictions you read about a killer solar flare taking out everything are much less likely than before - and it wasn't very likely to start with.  The other side is much less positive.  Prolonged solar minima have happened before, and they are associated with mini-ice ages.  I use the tentative language because humans simply haven't been able to measure sunspots for most of history.  The growing seasons become shorter and weather changes to become less friendly to crops.  Widespread food shortages are a real possibility.  There's a phrase that comes up that you really don't want to see.  A Real ice age. 

Of course, it's politically incorrect today to assert that the Sun, the ultimate source of every erg of energy on this planet, could effect climate.  That's just talking crazy.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Stock Market at Five Year Highs!!!

The cable financial shows were all abuzz this morning about how high the DJIA and S&P closed yesterday. The DJIA closed at 13895.98, supposedly buoyed by numbers from IBM. This is the highest since Halloween of 2007.  The S&P closed at 1466.67, also a five year high - this one since Dec. 7, 2007.


If you watch that you need to know there's one word that nobody uses in these discussions: inflation.  Adjusted for inflation, this is not equal to the levels of five years ago.  Adjusted for inflation, the DJIA hit its highest value in 2000 and has been losing money ever since.  While this chart is a little out of date, the change from the last point isn't big enough to move today's index up to that 2007 peak when adjusted for inflation.
Fred's Intelligent Bear Site posts this inflation adjusted DJIA chart.  Fred is pretty conservative in his estimates.  He uses the Consumer Price Index numbers with a little modification, not the Shadowstats inflation number, which is running near 10% per year.  Note that the index has stayed in a well-defined channel for the duration of this chart in 1910, only touching the extremes of the channel four times in a century.  As Fred says,
On the chart, the long term trend line in green shows an average return of 1.9% per year. If you factor in the long term 15% capital gains tax, the return is even worse. Since capital gains tax is not adjusted for inflation, the average tax must be based on the 5.4% trend of the non inflation adjusted chart, so 15% of 5.4% is 0.8% tax. Therefore, your 1.9% return is reduced to 1.1% after taxes. The Wall Street shills do not want you to know that this meager amount of capital gains is all you should logically expect from a long term general stock market investment.
You will note that the recent tax law changes put the 15% capital gains tax rate up 20% for those the Politburo decided to punish for being successful.  That makes this 1.1% conclusion worse for these people - and harder to describe in a single line.  Is it worth putting your money into the market for 1.1%?  Your call.

Another thing to get from that chart is that there are periods when the DJIA is a better investment and times when it's a poorer investment.  This is one of those times.  Those bear markets can last a lot of years, and sometimes strong corrections occur in brief periods. I'd like to tell you when to get into the market, but nobody can tell you that.  Simply being below the center of the channel doesn't mean it's due to go up.  For various reasons I've talked about here, along with many other people, I think we're in a bull market for a while.  Ten more years would not surprise me.

Governments routinely inflate their currency to get make debt go away.  It makes life harder for the citizens, but preserves the ruling class.  This is apparently one of those times, too.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Chernobyl - Europe's Unlikeliest Wildlife Sanctuary

One of the most deeply held ideas in most people is a dread of radiation.  Radiation is always to be avoided.  There is no safe dosage.  Any level will eventually kill you.

In toxicology, there's a saying that "the dose makes the poison", and anything can be toxic if the dose is big enough.  Oxygen is quite poisonous if the partial pressure of oxygen in the gas you're breathing is above 3 atmospheres - only a concern to scuba divers.  Water will kill you if you drink enough to drop the concentrations of some ions in your blood too low.  There is no doubt that really high levels of radiation are quite good at killing; they use it to kill cancer.  There is no doubt that lower levels - to some point - can cause cancers and birth defects.  It's lower levels, between background and these toxic levels that are the question.

If you believe no amount is tolerable, you have to ask yourself some tough questions.  Start with the fact that some places on earth have naturally occurring radioactivity at much greater than background levels.  Why doesn't life die off in these places - or have horrible cancer rates?  Colorado, with 15-20% higher natural radiation than surrounding states, has a lower cancer rate than the states with lower radiation.  When radioactivity was first discovered, all sorts of claims were made about radiation being good for you.  The claims resurface from time to time, here's one from 2002, but these claims get little traction in the general public. 

When the reactors at Chernobyl melted down in 1986, and the immediate crisis was over, the governments of Belarus and the Ukraine together created an exclusion zone around the nuclear plant.  It has become an oasis of wildlife that is surprising those who go there.  In Slate (of all places) we find an article on the place by author Mary Mycio. 
The explosion and fire here spewed the equivalent of at least 20 Hiroshima bombs’ worth of radiation, mostly within about 25 miles of the reactor building. The most radioactive isotopes have long since decayed, and rain has washed the rest into the soil and the food chain. Two of the most persistent isotopes are cesium-137, which chemically mimics potassium, and strontium-90, which imitates calcium in living things. As these isotopes have been taken up by plants, animals, fungi, and bacteria, radioactivity is no longer on the zone, but of it.

This is a unique ecosystem, twice the size of Rhode Island and about evenly divided between Belarus and Ukraine. A generation after most humans abandoned the area, forests and wetlands have consumed once-tended fields, villages, and towns. Only the occasional carcasses of crumbling buildings mutely testify to the former occupants.
It's a mixture of good and bad news.  The area had been mostly devoid of large mammals - deer, moose, wolves, lynx - which had been displaced by the Soviet pine plantations and farms.  They returned almost immediately.  On the other hand, animals adapted to living off humans - pigeons, rodents - experienced decline. Mycio writes:
Of the dozen moose sightings I’ve had in my lifetime, all were in the exclusion zone, where in the course of many journeys I’ve spent more than a month’s time researching my book Wormwood Forest: A Natural History of Chernobyl. It’s a strange and beautiful place where I’ve spotted wolves in broad daylight; lynx tracks in the snow; and huge herds of boar, roe deer, and elk. I’m still drawn back.
To be sure, there were deadly levels of radiation there.  A whole forest turned red when the radiation killed the chlorophyll in the plants, taking away the leaves.  The Red Forest is still a freakish looking place, but normal, green plants are returning.  To be sure, some animals were freakishly mutated - but they either simply died, unable to survive, or were eaten.  That phase of the disaster appears to be over.  Even animals being found with radiation levels in their tissues far above normal limits appear to be healthy and surviving well in the area.
(wolf in a Chernobyl bog
Many people have heard of the Ukrainian girl who rode her motorcycle through the area many times taking photographs, Kid of Speed  There's a thread online that this is a faked story - but even those seem to say that the pictures are real and the places are real, just that she didn't ride her motorcycle.  I really don't care if she was in a car, bus, or on a motorcycle. I don't know if it's fake or not. 

The conclusion here isn't "Chernobyl Was Good!".  It's that, perhaps, an area like this doesn't need to be abandoned for thousands of years.  That, perhaps, the environment has a tendency to correct itself like your body's homeostasis systems that keep you normal despite everything that happens in and to you.  That, perhaps, the persistent low level radiation leads to some sort of adaptation.  I just present it as an interesting read.

This Weird Life

A day in the life of a blogger.  Some of you will understand.

Over in the right column, way at the bottom of all the widgets and gidgets I have there, is a standard blogger tool that lists the 10 most popular posts I've ever had on this blog.  I'm sure hardly anyone ever notices it, except maybe newbies trying to figure out what sort of nut job they just came across. As chief bottle washer around here, I find it occasionally interesting.

Yesterday morning, I was looking at it for some reason and found a new post at number one.  A post from back in 2010 had rocketed up never from been in the top 10 at all, probably hardly even noticed, to number 1.  WTF?  Thanks to being busy, I didn't get to check out what happened until late last night.  It seems there was an argument on Reddit about a cake featuring a Unicorn pooping out a rainbow of Skittles.  I had almost 8000 people come here to view this picture - that I obviously got from the source in the lower left:

The net can be a weird place sometimes.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Eastern Sports & Outdoor Show Cancelled

How about that?  According to the statement:
“It has become very clear to us after speaking with our customers that the event could not be held because the atmosphere of this year’s show would not be conducive to an event that is designed to provide family enjoyment. It is unfortunate that in the current emotionally charged atmosphere this celebratory event has become overshadowed by a decision that directly affected a small percentage of more than 1,000 exhibits showcasing products and services for those interested in hunting and fishing.
Do you get that?  Reed Exhibitions is saying "It's not our fault for starting the storm. It's you haters that wouldn't come to a hunting and fishing show because we wouldn't allow those stupid black rifles of yours, you're the ones responsible for cancelling this show!   You're the ones causing the "emotionally charged atmosphere.  It's all your fault!" 

What a bunch of morons.  Maybe they'll sell the show venue to someone who cares about the sports and isn't just selling booths. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Eastern Sports & Outdoor Show

Sebastian and Bitter at "Shall Not Be Questioned" is really the go to guy for this story, but I just want to point out a couple of things to those of you who may not have noticed or cared about this story.

The Eastern Sports & Outdoor Show claims to be "the largest consumer event of its kind in North America" and from everything I can determine, it probably is.  They estimate that SHOT show hosts about 60,000 people while the ESOS hosts over 200,000, more than three times the SHOT crowd.  ESOS is being held in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the week of February 2-10.

Given how large an "Outdoor Show" it is, it came as a surprise to lots of good folks that Reed Exhibitions, the folks who run ESOS, decided to not allow any of those icky, Evil Black Rifles or, really, anything black and scary looking at the show this year.  Their statement, currently on their web page, says:
As a hunting-focused event, we welcome exhibitors who wish to showcase products and firearms that serve the traditional needs of the sport. Clearly, we strongly support the 2nd Amendment. However, this year we have made the decision not to include certain products that in the current climate may attract negative attention that would distract from the strong focus on hunting and fishing at this family-oriented event and possibly disrupt the broader positive experience of our guests.
The ban goes so far as to prevent the Pennsylvania Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs from holding a raffle they intended to sell tickets for at the show.  They not only couldn't show the AR they were raffling, they weren't allowed to show a photograph of it.

This went over about as well as a turd in the punchbowl, and the exodus of exhibitors and even sponsors started immediately.  Cabela's was an actual sponsor of the show and they withdrew immediately - the first one I heard of.  Ruger followed.  S&W followed.  Ruger and S&W are major companies (duh!) and one show isn't going to make or break their year.  That's not the case with smaller companies, like GUTNTAG, a company that specializes in "sauces and seasonings" for cooking your kill - or catch.  Their statement reads (in part):
We have made the costly decision to withdraw because it is the right thing to do.  We are a young company that relies on this one venue to create our operating capital for the year; however we cannot support uninformed businesses caving to political pressures caused by broadly politicized events.   We proudly support the 2nd Amendment in the capacity for which it was intended; the right of citizens to keep and bear arms.  Our freedom to do so was not for hunting or competition shooting, but protection for law abiding citizens.
Integrity spreads.  The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation dropped out.  The NRA dropped out.  The Outdoor Channel withdrew.  The National Shooting Sports Foundation is conspicuous in not withdrawing.  Yet.  And on and on it goes: Sportsmans Liquidations - a major exhibitor, Keystone Country Store - a small company, and even companies with no direct firearms business, Keene Marine, a boat company that was going to be displaying 30 boats, withdrew in solidarity.

I really feel for the small companies, like GUTNTAG and Mike Olien's Texas-based MN Outdoors
He has already spent $7,000 to secure his booth at the show, money the show's promoters will not refund, Olien said. If he joins the boycott, that money is lost. It's not chump change for a five-year-old small business. He also risks alienating Reed Exhibitions, the show promoter, that also runs shows he needs to attend closer to home in Texas and Colorado later this year.
Of course, if he doesn't join the boycott, he could be in trouble, too. And if the show attendance is too small or people aren't buying, he could lose.  It's a lose-lose for small businesses like this.

With two weeks left before the show, people on the fence are going to have make the call on whether they go to the show or not.  I don't say that thinking it's easy for the little businesses.  While fisherman and boaters may not have a dog in this fight, it's heartening to see Keene Marine stand in solidarity with strong R2KBA supporters.

To paraphrase Ben Franklin, when it comes to the second amendment, the time has come for us to hang together...or we shall surely hang separately. 

Edit 2122 EST:  Ammoland publishes a List of Exhibitors Boycotting the Show  I'm not going to try to count a list that big.  Will anyone be left? 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

I Have No Social Skills

I told this lady she had three lovely little children, but instead of thanking me, she ululated at me and said she'd have me beheaded.
It was an honest mistake.  My glasses were dirty.

Monday, January 21, 2013

China? Now??

John Xenakis reports on Breitbart that China's general staff has issued orders to the PLA to prepare for war.  They point out that the document uses the specific word for war that means "real, shooting war", not struggle, or "war on poverty" type of "moral equivalent of war".
Although past directives have directed soldiers to be prepared in case of war, this year's directive, for the first time, uses the Chinese word "dazhang," which means "fighting war," and uses it 10 times in the 1000 word directive.
To be plain spoken about it, they don't believe the US would do anything:
Dai Xu, a Chinese Air Force Colonel, is arguing for a short, decisive war with one of China's neighbors--Vietnam, the Philippines, or Japan--in order to establish sovereignty over the Pacific region without risking war with the United States. This is the "kill a chicken to scare the monkeys" philosophy. 
The colonel continues
Since we have decided that the U.S. is bluffing in the East China Sea, we should take this opportunity to respond to these empty provocations with something real.

This includes Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan, who are the three running dogs of the United States in Asia. We only need to kill one, and it will immediately bring the others to heel.
International diplomacy ebbs and flows with time.  The author is from, an organization that specializes in studies of these sorta-cyclical ebbs and flows, like Kondratiev cycles or Elliott waves.  He gives this little piece of generational philosophy:
China's 1962 border clash with India did not lead to a wider war because the countries were in a generational Awakening era; with both countries being run by survivors of World War II and, respectively, Mao's Communist Revolution civil war and the bloody Hindu/Muslim war that followed Partition. Each of these wars were extremely brutal, creating tens or hundreds of thousands of casualties and refugees, and no one who survived either of those wars would ever allow it to happen again.

Today, China, India, and America are in generational Crisis eras. The survivors of World War II are all gone. Today's leaders have had an easy life, where their worst crisis was a sex scandal. They have no personal memory of the horrors of WW II, and the Gen-Xers think that any older generation who even talks about it is completely full of crap.
In summary, they have no idea how ugly war can be.  They think hardship is when cellphone service is down, or they have to wait 30 minutes for Domino's to deliver.  What's wrong with a little war to stir things up and get the Chinese century going for real?

I've had conversations with Gen-Xers along those lines.  They do, indeed, think any comparisons to the past are stupid.  If I try to tell my own son that the US is more divided than at any time since about 1859, and civil war seems to be a real possibility, I can tell he thinks I'm the "right wing extremist" the feds have been warning him about.  Well, he got that part right...
You should go read Xenakis' whole piece, and how he predicts things could go. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Please Don't Eat the Daisies

If you're old enough, or watched enough TV movies, you'll recognize that name.  Originally a book by humorist Jean Kerr, the book's success led first to a Doris Day movie and later a TV sitcom.  The reason I'm bringing it up is not the plot, it's the idea: the backbone of the story was something many of us felt while raising our kids.  You had to be that specific about everything your kids could and could not do and you had to tell them explicitly.  You wouldn't even think of telling them not to eat the flowers, and the next thing you know, they'd have a mouth full of daisies - or, in our case, hibiscus.

Why is this relevant?  This the perfect description of our legal system today.  I'm thinking specifically about the gun control laws, but it works for everything.  Today, legislators would not only tell you not to eat the daisies, they'd define what a daisy was.  The idea is that if they're specific enough they can't get anything wrong.  We can see how well this works all around us.   

Here's an example that has been talked about both in comments here and and at other places.  New York's new laws refer to magazines and require the gun manufacturers to retool so that all standard magazines in all the modern double stack pistols can only have a seven round magazine.  How does that effect an 8-shot revolver?  Is an 8 place moon clip banned?
If you examine the law, there is never a mention of the term "Moon Clip", and the word revolver only occurs in reference to describing people licensed to possess a pistol or revolver.  There is mention of revolving cylinder shotguns being considered assault weapons, but not revolvers. 

Is this a magazine?  Have you ever seen anyone, anywhere who calls a moon clip a magazine?  As I said in comments, the people who wrote this law wouldn't know a moon clip from a Moon Pie if you told them one was edible - but maybe that's too Southern for the NY legislature and isn't fair.  The text of the law is pretty good about the term magazine and doesn't use the word clip at all.  It says 
"Large capacity ammunition feeding device" means a magazine, belt, drum, feed strip, or similar device, "
I don't think a Moon Clip falls under this description, so I say it's fully legal.  If they had meant to outlaw it, they would have been specific - "please don't eat the daisies".

Of course, I Am Not A Lawyer, nor do I play one on the internet.  I'm some random dood with a blog and opinions that I think are well-based on fact and logic.

Like the previous "Assault Weapon Ban", it's a "scary features ban" but it's also declaring a war on ergonomics.  By outlawing telescoping stocks, they are saying that anyone with one of these scary-looking guns needs to make it fit them alone.  No sharing by a couple that's very different in size.  By outlawing pistol grips, they're just saying they want them to look like grandpa's rifle and not all scary like these new-fangled guns.  You're not allowed to have a barrel shroud to keep from burning your hands while holding the gun, and you're not allowed to have a forward mounted handle to help prevent you from burning your hands. But I'm sure a nice looking wood stock with checkered engraving will be just fine.

For now. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Ain't Got Much

Is there a world out there today?  I've been home rearranging all day.  We bought a sound bar for the TV/home entertainment center and had to tear that apart and rebuild it.  Along the way we thought of another dozen things that needed to be done, moved, or reconnected, and a few things to do to get the workshop back in shape (my CNC mill and stuff).   I'm running out of day.

I see the Algerians proved yet again that if you're going to be a contractor overseas in the oil/gas business and get taken captive, you better hope it's the US specops that come to get you.  The US does not subscribe to the "kill them all, let Allah sort them out" philosophy.  Yet.

If you're in the Bulgarian equivalent of the Secret Service, I expect you're going to questioned about how something like this can happen.  Dudes with guns should not get this close to a president. 

A young mother gets knifed in Bed Bath & Beyond?  I guess the media doesn't care since this wasn't a shooting, but to slash a total stranger with a knife a dozen times, puncture both lungs... why is this guy wasting oxygen?  IMO, he should have been locked up for a thorough evaluation, a month or two in a rubber room, when he set a cat on fire a few weeks ago.  What's up with psychologists not locking these guys up?  Ann Coulter writes

While the randomness of the crime is horrific, another young woman, this one a part-time model in Kentucky, was attacked by two other women who wanted to rearrange her face with razors.  While this one might be marginally more understandable - it might involve jealousy about an ex-boyfriend - here's a hint, ladies: assault with a deadly weapon is never an appropriate way to argue. 

Confidential to the gun grabbers: violent crime doesn't always happen to someone else, and it doesn't always happen in some mythical "bad part of town" that you don't live in and can ignore.  Every trained, concealed carry permit holder knows the axiom that if you're going somewhere you think you're going to need a gun, you don't go there!  Sometimes it happens to completely innocent people in a suburban home furnishings store or in a busy mall. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

I Know This Isn't Really Important...

...but I just want to get it off my chest.

Lance Armstrong, you are dead to me.

The time trial up L'Alpe d'Huez, 2004.  I was watching that day, and, basically every stage of every Tour de France that Lance rode in, if it was televised.  I had a US Postal Tee shirt, and sent money to Livestrong.  Sucker.  (I may have bought a Tee shirt, but I never went for the full "kit" - a USPS jersey and bike shorts - let alone the Trek USPS bike - I may be crazy but I'm not insane).

We bought into the hype and the story.  In 1997, the year after Armstrong's bout with cancer, Mrs. Graybeard was battling cancer.  We were dedicated cyclists; it seems inevitable and natural we follow Lance.  As someone had put it, Armstrong became an ambassador of hope.  Maybe he didn't even really intend to, but after "the book" he became the symbol of hope to millions of Americans going through cancer treatments.  People would hang their fears on his powerful, gaunt body and watch him scale mountains.  You'd see pictures like this one in oncologists' chemotherapy rooms all over America - probably all over the world.  We wanted to believe - and it was an easy story to fall for.  A guy stricken with the most feared disease, beats it, then goes on to win the most grueling event in sports, faster time trialing and better climbing than anyone alive.  If he was stronger than his rivals, like Jan Ullrich, and able to climb better, it was because he trained harder.  Having gone through the agonies of chemo and surgeries, it was easy to believe the perspective helped him to endure more pain.  While Jan could train hard, Lance could turn himself inside out with pain, and be just that much better.

What a pile of crap.

When Jan Ullrich was busted for doping, he said something to the effect that if Armstrong could beat him when he was doping, he knew Armstrong absolutely had to be doping.  We idiots said, "he's just a genetic freak - there has to be one on the planet who can do it".  Chris Carmichael, Lance's coach just said, "At that level, they're all genetic freaks".  The clues were all around.  But, still, he never failed a drug test.  Being a professional cyclist meant they'd come to his house on random mornings for screenings.  Being a stage leader in le Tour means you get tested every day, as well as the random testings. 

So it turns out, he was not only the biggest fraud in sports, but a terrible excuse for a man.  He not only lied about what he was doing, he viciously attacked other guys - former teammates and friends - who told the truth about him.  A despicable, pathetic man.  You know what the ironic part is?  I'll take odds the hormones and stuff he was taking either gave him the testicular cancer that made him famous, or made it much worse. 

You may have also noticed that although all seven Tour titles were stripped, not one of them has been re-awarded to the second place riders.  They have all been stripped for doping, too. 

Lance, you are dead to me.  And I think professional cycling is, too. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Unlike Moochelle, I'm Regularly Proud of my Country

In the last two months, honest Americans bought enough guns to outfit the entire Chinese and Indian armies.

In the four years since Barack Obama was first elected president in November 2008, an estimated 67 million firearms have been purchased in the United States. In November a record 2 million guns were sold in America.  This was followed up by another record in December.  2.7 million guns were sold in America in the last month of 2012.
That's a 35% increase month over month.  Wow.  Of course, we realize this is the number of NICS checks, so the number of actual guns sold can be much more than that.  

America is a safer place, tonight.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

It's Cartoon Day

From PJTatler

And, seriously, does any adult look at pictures like this and not think it's an idiotic idea?  Nothing but transparent and sick political manipulation?  Do rational adults really think, in the wake of a horrific massacre like Sandy Hook, "I know!  I'll ask my 8-year old what she thinks we should do to fix this!" 

If you ask me, Washington has a terrible shortage of adults as it is.  The biggest problem we have with the Orcs in Mordor on the Potomac is their inability to think and act like adults.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

New York Is Jealous of Chicago's Crime Rate

Cold Fury called it "New York Rescinds Second Amendment" and links to Bob Owens who writes "Are There Free Man Still Alive in New York".  The New York law that was just rammed through the state legislature has many of the features of Feinstein's proposed AWB that we're believing hoping won't make it through the congress.  Text of the law is here.  Some highlights
  • Limit magazines to seven rounds.  With the exception of subcompact guns that New Yorkers are not allowed to own, virtually every gun on the market comes with larger capacity magazines than that.  That means there are no legal magazines on the market and there won't be until someone decides to produce New York compliant magazines.   Since no one else in their right mind would want one, expect them to be expensive.
  • Magazines that hold 10 rounds are allowed (temporarily?) but must not be loaded beyond 7 rounds. This presumably makes the Garand en-bloc clip illegal, as it holds eight.
  • All "assault weapons" must be registered.
  • Semiautomatic pistols can be considered "assault weapons".
  • "Assault weapons" are judged by one feature not two as in the 1994 AWB.  
  • They may not be sold or transferred except to a dealer.  You may not bequeath one to your child.  When you die, it dies with you.
  • Ammunition may not be sold without a background check.  Every. Stinking. Box. of ammo - that is, this is not just for bulk purchases.  Every ammo purchase gets a background check.
  • Buying online ammo is not illegal, as I read it, but the seller can not ship it to your house.  They must ship to an in-state store that can do the background check on you.  
  • Bulk purchases trigger an automatic contact of the local police department. 
  • The law specifically calls for these requirements for online sellers.  Sellers, I imagine, may decide whether or not they'll do business in New York.
  • Every state gun license must be re-certified every five years. 
  • Private sales of your private property is outlawed.  All sales must go through an FFL for background check.  This is over and above the law that already makes it a felony to sell the gun to someone you believe to be a felon. 
It goes on and on.  Bob Owens says:
New Yorkers have a choice. They can either comply to the demands of their would-be masters, quietly become criminals and hope they don’t get caught acting like free men, or they can fight this abject insanity.

As New York state has no constitutional protections, they must either appeal these laws to a federal judge and up the line to the United States Supreme court years from now, or resolve to take down this draconian law through subversive means.

Civil disobedience is a great start.

You’d be amazed how few transportation arteries their are into New York City, and how easy it would be to turn the city upside down with a few dozen vehicles suffering concurrent “mechanical problems” on bridges and in tunnels during the morning rush hour. This is just one off-the-cuff idea. There are thousands of things you can do to make this totalitarian state falter. Crush Albany’s wallet, and force them to repeal this ill-advised law.

If civil disobedience fails…

It’s your state, New Yorkers. Defend it.
As in all cases where they try to outlaw a thing based on fear, they will just change the market.  If you're only allowed seven rounds in a magazine look for people to switch from smaller to larger calibers to be more effective.  Instead of .380 and 9mm, I expect people will switch to .40 or .45.  The new little Springfield XDs .45 handgun, for example, has a five round magazine, so it's NY compliant - I think.  I can see single stack 1911s in .45, like this Springfield Armory MilSpec 1911 which comes with a seven round magazine, becoming big sellers in New York.  

Since revolvers don't have magazines, and aren't mentioned in this new law, you might see more .357 Magnum, .44, and bigger bore revolvers. These are a little hard to conceal, unless you're an NFL Tackle, but fully compliant with the new law. 
A 50 cal revolver.  Somehow, I don't think this is quite what the panty-sh**ing legislators in New York were envisioning.

Monday, January 14, 2013

A Message for All New Gun Owners

According to news reports, guns and ammo are being bought up at historic rates.  It's not known, and is probably very difficult to really know, how many are first time gun owners.  Based on what I heard at our gun show, the weekend before New Years, many of them are new.  I just wanted to take a moment in hopes that new gun owners would find this and stop by to read it.  

Congratulations on getting your first gun.  Whether you know it or not, you've just joined a community.  The online gun community represented by my reading list of blogs and many, many others, is a vibrant interactive community, just as real as any physical community.  When one of ours recently had a skin cancer diagnosis, the community leapt into action to help out with outright monetary donations and raffles.  When one wanted to buy her first handgun, many donated money - to a stranger they've never met and likely will never meet in person  - so she could have one.

More than just a community, you've just joined a whole culture.  Media and the left (but I repeat myself) use the term in a pejorative manner, but there really is a gun culture; in fact, there are probably several gun cultures. There's the culture of most of the country - the west, the south, the "flyover" parts that one flies over to get from New York to El Lay - it's full of people who grew up with guns.  Hunting and target shooting are a deep part of the culture - Gun Culture 1.0. The opening day of deer season is almost a formal holiday.  There is the dark side of guns, the thug culture that glorifies violence and crime - possibly the very people you bought your gun to protect you from.  And there's what's most often called "Gun Culture 2.0"; the modern gun buyer who doesn't come from a home where they grew up with guns, but bought a gun for effective home defense, to protect themselves on the road, or even to protect themselves from a stalker.  For these folks, the entry into gun ownership is often concealed carry.  Often, people become members of this gun culture after a crime against themselves, a friend or family member - I sincerely hope that is not the case, and that if it is, everyone is well.

Gun Culture 2.0 is men, women, old, young, business owners or delivery guys; black, white, Hispanic, Jewish and every other ethnic group.  They're dedicated to personal responsibility, self-protection and self-reliance.  They're dedicated to safe and responsible use and storage of their guns.    

Guns are popular!  You'll find plenty of examples online of "motivational posters" ("I Carry A Gun Because a Cop is Too Heavy") and plenty of excellent commentary ("Why the Gun is Civilization" and "On Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs").  If you haven't seen the stunning art photography of Oleg Volk, you're missing a visual treat.  Much more starting here.  

Whether you know it or not, when you decided to go down this road, you've enlisted in or been drafted into a war.  There is a struggle to keep that right to your gun from being regulated into non-existence by the governments: Federal, State or local.  Simply put, you frighten some people with your self-reliance and independence.  They have a hard time thinking anything other than "GUN!!!!" and not that you had to get a criminal background check, maybe take tests, and are probably the best person they know to be around.  (The term for this abnormal reaction to a hunk of metal and plastic or wood is hoplophobia).
While I hate political activism, you need to join one of the national gun rights organizations to add your voice to the crowd wanting to keep the 2nd amendment.  The NRA - an organization unique in being reviled by both its members and its enemies - is the 800 pound gorilla in the room.  They are currently signing up new members at $25/year instead of $35.  Some gun makers include a free year or discount coupon to join the NRA when you buy one of their guns, and one TV Host offers a discount offer.  I've heard they've signed up a rather large number since the current gun control/gun ban talk started.  If you're going to join one (and I'm going to get a lot of flack for this), they seem to be the only organization talked about by politicians.  I'm a member of all of them, but while I've seen Larry Pratt (GOA) on the tube once or twice, he's the only guy I've seen who isn't NRA.  Contact your two US senators and Representative, as well as your state representatives.  

The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.  Part of that is the handgun on your hip or the shotgun near the bed.  Part of that is letting politicians know "Don't Tread on Me".  

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Reloading Info Bleg

I've posted occasionally about my learning how to reload, and my minor adventures along that road. 

Dear Mrs. Graybeard fed that hobby this Christmas with an RCBS Pro 2000 progressive press and a few additional accessories. 

So, folks, here's where I am.  I have the Rock Chucker Supreme, a single position press for one at a time careful loads of rifle ammo.  I'd like to use the same reloading bench and replace one press with the other.  I swear I've seen someone that made an accessory that was a metal plate the presses mounted to, and a desk-mounted fixture that they slide into, perhaps on a dovetail or some other way to do a quick change.  Does anyone know of something like that?  I've found this kit for Lee presses, and the idea is similar to what I'm thinking, although the geometry is different.
Second, is there a particularly good forum to hang out on and learn from other RCBS owners or a good general reloading forum? The only forum I know is Cast Boolits. 

Any insider's tricks anyone would like to drop by about setting up one of these toys would be very welcome, too. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Stupid Petty Tryant Alert

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the most dependable asshole in politics, is at it again.  This time, he wants to limit the amount of pain pills you're allowed to be dispensed - to keep criminals from stealing them.

Seriously, I'm Not Making This Up
“If you break a leg, you’re going to be in pain, nothing wrong with getting something that reduces the pain. But if you get 20 days worth of pills and you only need them three days, there’s 17 days sitting there. Invariably some of the kids are going to find them, or you’re going to take them and get you addicted.”
You insufferable, cretinous, petty tyrant!  You're a pathetic waste of flesh, blood and other people's oxygen.  What gives you the right to condemn other people to pain?  What gives you the right to pass judgement on people at all?  You get to be judge, jury and sentence people to pain?  

The medical side of this insane.  The war on pain medication (one case) has been going on for a long time.  Having sat with Mrs. Graybeard's general surgeon after her hernia surgery, and the orthopedic surgeons at other times, I know they are concerned people try to get by without pain medication too much as it is.  I know that they're concerned that the pain causes unhealthy blood pressure increases and more.  But even that isn't the point.

The point is that once again, innocent people suffer because criminals commit crimes.  Instead of going after criminals, as Bloomberg said in the same conference:
“You see there’s a lot more hold-ups of pharmacies, people getting held up as they walk out of pharmacies,” he explained. “What are they all about? They’re not trying to steal your shaving cream or toothpaste at the point of a gun. They want these drugs.”
First off, these cretins wouldn't be pointing a gun if your asinine "gun-free paradise" laws were working.  Second off, what makes you think this law will work considering how badly those laws work?  Finally, how about you pay your police to go after the people robbing the innocent?
We innocent people are getting pretty damned sick and tired of being asked to suffer because bad people do bad things.  How about you trouble the guilty and not the innocent for once?  Does it even occur to you once, for even a second, not to punish innocent people for the crimes of criminals? 

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would 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

Friday, January 11, 2013

Guess What? Laws Don't Apply to David Gregory

Chances are you've heard this already, but the DC Attorney General has decided not to charge David Gregory with violating the city's laws against simple possession of a 30 round magazine.  See David Gregory is more important than a mere commoner, and as such is automatically considered not to be a threat. 
(H/T Gun Free Zone)
Emily Miller of the Washington Times reports:
Irvin Nathan, the attorney general for the District of Columbia, announced Friday that he will not press charges against NBC News’ David Gregory nor any employee of the broadcast network for violating the city’s gun laws. Violation of the city's firearms laws carry a maximum $1,000 fine and one year in jail.

Mr. Nathan wrote to an attorney representing Mr. Gregory and NBC News, Lee Levine of Levine Sullivan Koch & Schulz, LLP, that, “OAG has made this determination, despite the clarity of the violation of this important law, because under all of the circumstances here a prosecution would not promote public safety in the District of Columbia nor serve the best interests of the people of the District to whom this office owes its trust.”
So there you go: prosecuting the press is not in the public's interest.  He possessed the magazine, but he didn't possess it possess it, you know?  It's not because it wasn't pre-meditated; NBC called the DC police to ask how to do this legally and were told they couldn't, so it was pre-meditated as hell. It's because there was no evil intent, right?  Nope. 

Because Army Veteran James Brinkley certainly had no evil intent and tried to do everything right when he transported a standard 15 round magazine for his Glock and was imprisoned - standard magazines are considered high capacity in DC.  He was going to a range to practice for an employment test for the US Marshall's Service.
...Just like Mr. Gregory, Mr. Brinkley called MPD in advance for guidance on how he could do this legally. Mr. Brinkley was told that the gun had to be unloaded and locked in the trunk, and he couldn’t park the car and walk around.

Unlike Mr. Gregory, Mr. Brinkley followed the police orders by placing his Glock 22 in a box with a big padlock in the trunk of his Dodge Charger. The two ordinary, 15-round magazines were not in the gun, and he did not have any ammunition with him.
As Emily Miller puts it:
Mr. Brinkley was publicly humiliated, thrown in jail and forced to spend money to defend himself for violating a law that millions of viewers watched the NBC anchor violate. If D.C. is going to have this pointless law, it should at least be enforced fairly.
I can't say this wasn't as predictable as the summer rains around here, but it sure would have been nice if the press was held to the same standards as the hoi polloi.   It's a shining example of why regular people think folks like the DC Attorney General, and all of the self-anointed "ruling class" regard themselves as simply better than us.  They don't have to worry about fairness, or even the appearance of fairness.  They're just simply better than us.  They are our philosopher kings.

Wouldn't it be nice if, even just once, in a situation like this, someone did the right thing?  

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Everybody - Link to This

All the cool kids are doing it - and I'm even doing it, and I'm about as cool as Professor Frink.  The Sacred Cow Slaughterhouse writes "We Need to Regulate Cars Like We Regulate Guns".  Obligatory tease to show you it's worth going to RTWT:
To buy a sports car, you will have to be 21.  A "Sports car" will be defined as any combination of any two of the following: 2 doors instead of 4, spoked rims not requiring hubcaps, aerodynamic effects such as spoilers or air dams, a wheelbase under 100 inches, a manual transmission, a curb weight under 3000 lbs, fiberglass or other non-metal construction, or painted logos.

For every purchase, you will have to fill out a questionnaire confirming you're a US citizen, do not use drugs or abuse alcohol, have never had a conviction for alcohol related incidents or reckless driving.  Lying on this form will be punishable by 10 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.

New cars will only be purchased from Federal Automobile Licensees who must provide fingerprints, proof of character, secure storage for all vehicles, and who must call the Federal Bureau of Motor Vehicles to verify your information before purchase.  They may approve or decline or delay the sale.  If they decline, you may appeal the decision in writing to a review board.  If they delay, it becomes an approval automatically after 10 days. However, the dealer may decline to complete such a sale in case of later problems. 
Go read.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

You Are Being Probed

Former blogger GardenSerf, who used to have a blog of the same name, spoke once about being a child in small town America somewhere that was chosen as a test market for the McDonald's McRib sandwich.  He used the term "McRib test" to describe how large groups of people may be tested without the testing group actually committing to anything.  If too few people buy the McRib, maybe they never market the thing nationally, or they change a recipe and try again.  Similarly, in DC, they call it "floating a trial balloon"; a leak from an "unnamed source" so those in power can see the response of other lawmakers, the chattering pundits and the general public. 

I'm convinced that at least some of the things we're hearing about proposed gun control laws are McRib tests.  I'm not sure whom they're watching or whom they're testing, but I think we are being probed.  Look at just this collection pulled from Drudge:
'The president is going to act'...
Shouting governor expects rest of country to follow his lead...
'No One Needs 10 Bullets To Kill A Deer'...
Clinton Turns Tech Speech Into Gun Rant...
Iowa lawmaker calls for confiscation...
CT lawmaker calls for background checks to buy ammo...
Gun sales soar in Atlanta...
'Folks are grabbing just about any gun they can get hands on'...
Utah town to encourage arming households...
Ted Nugent unloads...
PANIC: One Million AR-15 Magazines on Backorder...
Within the last two weeks, another CT lawmaker was calling for confiscation.  Governor Cuomo called gun confiscation "an option" two weeks ago.  These calls are popping up all over.

If the goal of these "lawmakers" is to plunge the US into bloody civil war, that ought to work.  As I've said before, I'm not sure Obama is trying to destroy the US, I just don't see what he'd be doing differently if he was.   Others can give more details on what's likely to happen and how it might go down, but as someone I ran across put it: the last one took 620,000 Americans; I wonder how many this one will take?  Every report we can come across, anecdotal or sourced, says that since the Sandy Hook massacre, gun sales are at all time record levels.  As commenter perlhaqr said in response to my piece two Sundays ago, "Has it Started?"
"I don't think all those people are buying all that stuff just to have one to turn in, pal."
I think there's a feeling in the air that everyone is sharing.  A feeling that something bad is coming.  Maybe they're buying one in hopes of being grandfathered and maybe they're expecting trouble.  
I've seen numbers that say there are about 800,000 police/LEOs in this country, and call it 2,000,000 with all the military and others are added in.  You can figure that some percentage of them would refuse, even to the point of fighting the chain of command.  That leaves a tiny fraction of the number of gun owners.  Confiscation raids would be an ugly, bloody mess for everyone involved. 

A good measure of this spirit will help us all. 
I have lived my entire life on borrowed time and now in the twilight of my years, I have but one thing to say to those determined to take away or limit my right to own a firearm and to transform and destroy the greatest nation in the history of mankind.   I, and many like me, will not be intimidated and you will only accomplish your ultimate ends over our dead bodies.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Anyone Know the Source?

JPFO posted this back on New Years Day. I've been trying to find sources and not having much luck.
I know the numbers look like values I've seen before, but that doesn't mean they're right.  I mean, 195,000 deaths from medical errors?  How is that even defined? I'm suspicious of 529,000 deaths due to tobacco use: the biggest numbers I've heard are closer to 450,000, and I was suspicious of that

Anybody know about this?  Dates?  Better source description than just "CDC, FBI, US Federal Government"? 

 "In God we trust;  all others provide references". 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Pardon Me, But I'm Bored

I'm bored with this whole "let's have a conversation about gun control" bit.  I've only been seriously in this hobby for 4 years,  and I've heard it all before way too many times.  The "conversation" is let's disarm honest, law-abiding, good people so that we feel good about ourselves.  We "did something" so now we can feel good, regardless of how pointless and ineffective that "something" is.

You know, the President (or was it Rahm Emmanuel?  not that there's much difference) said their philosophy of government was "if you're not at the table, you're on the menu"; in other words, they're going to extort as much money from as many people as possible.  So apparently the president and his posse are going to play crony capitalism with the gun industry, and the rest of us that just want to be left alone are having to shovel hundreds of dollars to lobbyists just to be left alone.  Lots of money flows, politicians of all stripes are stuffing their pockets with money from the people, lobbyists stuff their pockets while proclaiming how important they are and Washington DC is happy.  As they say, money is the lifeblood of politics.  We just happen to be on the lunch menu this time, and ask the elks how much they like being on the menu when a pack of wolves is around.

2000 year ago, the Greek stoic philosopher Epictetus wrote "When men are good, laws are meaningless; when men are bad, laws are worthless" (as I always heard it).  You will never get rid of killers because it doesn't matter what law you pass, criminals don't follow laws.  You only disarm good people.  Psychos plan these operations for a long time.  The only thing proven to stop this is an armed response. 

Imagine a world without guns?  We had a world without guns up to a few hundred years ago, and I most definitely wouldn't want to live in one again.  The strong and vicious preyed on the weaker or infirm all the time, with no mercy, for 5000 years.  It's no coincidence that in the 1850s, somebody  said, "God made man; Sam Colt made us all equal".  Finally, a 4'10" woman is a match for a 6' mugger that outweighs her by a hundred pounds.

I have this cool paper on how, if you use a non-Euclidean geometry, you can find relationships between musical chords, that show up graphically (pdf file here).  Perhaps a whole new way to compose music.  But I can't play with that.  I have to argue the most logical point in the universe.  You can't make criminals obey laws by passing laws.

Meanwhile, we have a government who ran like two to three thousand AK-47s and AR-15s to the Mexican drug cartels, getting hundreds to a thousand Mexicans killed, along with a handful of Americans, apparently just to get gun control passed in the US, but nobody's paying attention to that.  The BATFE guys who set it up, all the way up Eric Holder, are getting away with it.  It was all a waste of all those lives.  We're going to get gun control thanks to a couple of home grown psychos.  "You don't want to let a good crisis go to waste" - another Rahm Emmanuel quote.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Leave it to the Times

The New York Times lost all credibility with me ages ago.  Every so often I'll see a conservative commentator say that something published in the Times justifies their view, and I want to agree - but then that's sloppy thinking, and I hate sloppy thinking.  Murray Gell-Mann, Nobel prize winning physicist, coined a term about temporary amnesia while reading papers, which is now called Gell-Mann amnesia.  The idea is that you read an article in the paper about something you know a lot about and you say to yourself, "What a piece of crap!  This paper isn't good enough for wrapping dead fish!", then you turn the page and read an article on something you don't know about and just accept what they said, as if they're always credible.  In fact, they're probably just as wrong on this as they were on the thing you know about.

My son emailed me this link to an article in the NYT in answer to the "more guns, less crime" view I express all the time.   The article is called "More Guns = More Killing" and I don't recommend you read it, unless you want to find the holes in it.  In true NYT fashion, they assert a lot of things as true just because they say so, or under appeal to authority.  For example,
After a gruesome mass murder in 1996 provoked public outrage, Australia enacted stricter gun laws, including a 28-day waiting period before purchase and a ban on semiautomatic weapons. Before then, Australia had averaged one mass shooting a year. Since, rates of both homicide and suicide have dropped 50 percent, and there have been no mass killings, said Ms. Peters, who lobbied for the legislation.(emphasis added by me)
But we in the community know that's not true.  The Brookings Institution said,
...homicides “continued a modest decline” since 1997. They concluded that the impact of the National Firearms Agreement was “relatively small,” with the daily rate of firearms homicides declining 3.2%.”

Suicides with firearms went down but suicides by other means went up.
And, of course, in England the results have been considerably worse.  Handgun crime has doubled, and the UK now has more violent crime than South Africa, the US and most of the EU.

Similarly appealing to authority, the NYT says,
Scientific studies have consistently found that places with more guns have more violent deaths, both homicides and suicides. Women and children are more likely to die if there’s a gun in the house. The more guns in an area, the higher the local suicide rates. “Generally, if you live in a civilized society, more guns mean more death,” said David Hemenway, director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center. “There is no evidence that having more guns reduces crime. None at all.” (emphasis added by me)
which pretty much conflicts with what we know about Switzerland, not to mention all of the excellent work done by John Lott and others here in the states.

I don't know how valuable this sort of comparison would be under any circumstances, even without the logical and argumentative flaws in this piece.  Once you get out of the tourist zones, much of Latin America is not a nice place, and the culture there is very different from the US culture.  I'm especially inclined to dismiss cross-cultural studies just because there are so many confounding variables.  It would be like saying Fallujah is more dangerous than the US, and it's because of the guns, while ignoring the influence of Al Qaeda, the war going on there, the differences between a Muslim country and the US and about a hundred other things.  Although I'm not sure how much more dangerous Fallujah is than Chicago. 

And if you read that Times article and have good solid sources for debunking it, please post them in a comment for everyone here to see.

Bringing Crazy Rumors to Life Since... Now

They really are trying to repeal the 22nd amendment and eliminate term limits for the Presidency. 
H/T 90Ninety Miles From Tyranny and

This, of course, requires 2/3 of the states to pass, and is light years away from happening, but they're trying. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

My Congressman Responds

My US Representative is a pretty solid conservative, Bill Posey (R).  I've written him on many issues before, and the office always responds with a position statement.   The only times I've written, his response has been what I'd wanted.  Before the session started, I wrote about the coming gun ban bills and received a response that he's on our side.  I'm taking the liberty of copying some extracts of it here because I think it's pretty reasonable.

Dear <name redacted>

Thank you for contacting me in the aftermath of the tragic shootings in Newtown, Connecticut to express your concern about proposals that would restrict the Second Amendment rights of law abiding Americans. I share your concerns.

As a father and a grandfather, my heart goes out to the parents and families of these children, and the families of the teachers and school employees whose lives were so tragically cut short. 
Clearly, the individual who perpetrated this terrible act (Adam Lanza) was mentally disturbed, and news sources thus far indicated that intervention was seriously lacking. The specifics of any mental or developmental disability from which he suffered must be fully understood and investigated. ....

Also, some media reports have indicated that he was on psychotropic drugs. We need to understand what drug or drugs he was on and what role, if any, these drugs may have played in his mental state and aggression. Some reports indicate that his mother was in the process of having him committed to a mental institution. Is this true? And, if so, what role may this have played? ...

Additionally, media reports indicated that Lanza spent a considerable amount of time playing violent first-person shooter video games. What role if any did this play particularly when combined with his mental instability, and possibly being on psychotropic prescription drugs? You may recall that serious mental problems and addiction to violent video games were also traits that investigators uncovered when investigating the murders carried out by James Holmes at the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.

A Washington Post poll following this tragedy reports that a majority of Americans believe that this incident reflects a larger problem in American society.  Some have suggested that the culture of violence is poisoning the minds of children and these games are desensitizing children to the reality of violence. The Parents Television Council reports that the average child graduates from elementary school having seen 8,000 murders and more than 100,000 acts of violence on television. By age 18, the number of murders is up to 40,000. Can this level of exposure be a factor in already troubled youths committing aggressive acts, including murders?


Many long time advocates of restricting the Second Amendment began calling for more gun control in the immediate aftermath of the shootings.  However, one must first consider that the state in which this took place, Connecticut, already has some of the most restrictive gun control laws in the country and those laws did not prevent this unthinkable act.  Initial reports indicate that the firearms belonged to the shooter's mother, who herself was a victim of Lanza.  We need that part of the investigation to be completed so we know for certain whether the firearms belonged to Ms. Lanza.  If they do - and were in compliance with current law - then we need to recognize that broad-base firearms laws are not likely to be effective in preventing gun violence in the future.



Bill Posey
Member of Congress

That last sentence is a bit softer than I'd like, but it could be to make sure that any anti-gun voters (there must be some) think he's not automatically dismissing the new laws.