Tuesday, March 27, 2007

More letters to an editor

Well, the last post was kind of fun, so here's another set of letters.

"But when you're facing a loaded gun, getting held up by a 14-year-old kid, what's the difference? Too late has just arrived." You're all too right. That's why you should carry. When a 14-year-old tries to threaten you, he'll wet himself when he finds you have the means to defend yourself. And you can "understand people using rifles and shotguns for hunting and sport," you say? Well, you obviously can't understand the 2nd Amendment. Hunting and sport aren't mentioned at all. The "right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." Also, you might want to keep in mind that, for all your cries of "for the children," you seem quick to forget how often a firearm protects them. Also, your example mentioned the father of the kid getting the gun "off the street." Legal restrictions wouldn't really do much about illegal guns.

The questions as to whether any other country would bend over backwards to welcome illegal immigrants are the same ones I've long asked. There's not a lot to add here, but it's good to see the paper print this letter.

I don't have a lot to say about stereotypes like that mascot. I'm not overly familiar with its antics, but I'm nearly certain it wasn't viewed as representative of ANY actual Native Americans. But, hey, we need to be extra careful about that. Wouldn't want to seem insensitive, would we? It's not like the government money going to the reservations is wasted. Sovereign nations within our own? Supported by my tax dollars and their casinos, which are generally illegal outside the res? Yeah, that sounds like good use of money. We'd better be sure not to offend them, or they'll get mad. (Mind you, their actual historical culture is fascinating. It's just the current situation that ticks me off.)

Yes, our military is all-volunteer, and they know what they've signed up for. I wish more people would realize that. Of course, people like Watada, who signed up for the college money, would have us believe otherwise.

I may have to make these letters to the editor a regular event. They're kind of fun.

Letters to an editor

Ah, the (supposedly) well-intentioned letters folks send to newspapers...I feel the need to write responses for at least a couple of these.

First, the gun safety idea. Yeah, it may seem like a good idea to lock up guns, right up until you need to defend the safety of those precious children. Suddenly, every second counts and you can't get the safe open. Also, keeping kids from learning about guns isn't the appropriate way to protect them. Educate them, don't hide the guns. If you convince your children to respect the gun, use it safely, and not play with it, you'll have far fewer problems than you will if little Johnny finds you left the key to the gunsafe out.

A raise below the rate of inflation? Oh, wait, you're not thankful for the raise...I guess private sector work has just spoiled me. I never expect a raise unless I earn it. If you really think the state should up wages, let's cut out some of the extra workers. After all, lower numbers of employees will free up the cash to give you better wages. Also, next time you complain about wanting better health and retirement benefits, look at what state workers get. It's a lot better than those working in most private sector industries. If you find somewhere you can do better, do us all a favor and just take the job. It'll save the state some money.

Same sort of thing with teachers. You work nine months a year, get great health and retirement packages, and are really hard to fire. You only get about half your annual salary each year after you retire? That's a HUGE retirement. Try opening a 401(k) or something if you want more. And please don't tell me that salary increases need to be made across the board. Performance pay will single out a small portion? Well, let's see some performance from the others, then. "Finally, continue to be mindful that a teacher instills in our children that each one is special and gifted." At least you realize no one's educating them these days. And far too many need to get a LOT less of this special and gifted crap. They start thinking the world revolves around them, and it screws 'em up.

As for coal, I do have to say that I'd prefer nuclear power. It's efficient and clean, and all the crap about nuclear meltdowns is exaggerated propoganda. But the letter is otherwise fairly dead-on.

The tax reform is by no means regressive. A sales tax merely taxes consumption. The wealthy tend to consume a lot more than the poor. Taxing property often hits poor retirees, since they find that they have run out of easily liquidated assets and the property values have gone up. Which is more regressive?

West Bank resettlement

It's nice to see that Israelis aren't going to just keep giving up land for nothing, even if their government will.

Of course, the New York Times ignores continued Palestinian aggression and the underlying unwillingness of Palestinians (and the entire Muslim world) to live peacefully in a world that still contains Israel. "How it plays out will be viewed by Palestinians as a sign of whether Israel intends to keep its pledges, or whether settlement activity will continue to proceed unhindered, despite Israel’s promises to halt it." Israel gave up land looking for peace. The Palestinians failed to keep their end of the deal from day one. Now is an appropriate time to take back the land, and this grassroots effort may eventually remind Israel that the country should not continue to make concessions until backed into a corner.

On the plus side, NYT wasn't nearly as openly hostile to Israel as usual.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Who targetted whom first?

The Roanoke Times has finally decided to apologize for their decision to publish a list of all concealed carry permit-holders in Virginia. Unfortunately, this is worse than a simple case of "too little, too late." They continue to deny any actual wrongdoing, beyond the fact that it may have been a little inconsiderate. And, worse, they claim victim status.

"The difficulty we've faced since is how to respond to the rational objections without validating the abusive tactics and attacks waged against this newspaper and the columnist who wrote a piece linked to the database." Well, if you had started with a rational approach to the situation, you would probably find a more rational response. Publishing a list of private citizens' addresses is generally frowned upon under almost any circumstances. Making a publically-available list of people who choose to excercise a right some vehemently oppose is madness. You wouldn't publish a list of abortions, the home addresses of all your journalists, or anything else that might make a pet cause get some unwanted attention.

"First, we had a legal right to post the database. These were public records, legally obtained." The real story you might have published is the travesty of making these records public information. While they were obtained legally, this may be one of the many situations in which the law is wrong.

"Dozens of concealed permit holders expressed heartfelt fear because of the exposure of what they believed was private information." If I published your home address, you would express heartfelt fear or anger, most likely. And you would probably be pretty damned sure your information was supposed to be private.

"We gave insufficient thought and discussion to the potential that crime victims, law enforcement officers and domestic violence victims might be put at risk if their addresses were published." What about those who are only potential crime victims? You created a helluva lot of those.

"Though many of our critics believe that the database handed burglars a shopping list of households with guns and abusers a list of their victims, no one can point to a single incident where similar publications led to a crime." First, how many other newspapers have printed the addresses of so many law-abiding citizens? Second, how would one prove a correlation? The second someone tried, you'd scream "foul" and claim that there's no way to prove the connection.

"The potential for harm is something we should have given far greater thought to in making the decision." How about your paper's attitude when it comes to violating the trust of so many law-abiding citizens? What about invading their privacy? With or without risk of crime, you have just abused many readers and non-readers for no reason othr than showng that you can.

"We also regret that there was not a more compelling public purpose -- beyond illustrating how the Freedom of Information Act works -- behind the decision to post the database." You know, the act works on a lot of other information that is far safer. You chose something you thought would sell papers, and now you're backpedalling as fast as you can.

"There are vital reasons these records should remain open." Sure, just as vital as keeping records of the addresses of those who practice other Constitutional freedoms, such as members of the press. Of course, there's no license or database for that, so you feel pretty smug telling us gun owners are fair game.

"The public should be able to monitor how well various jurisdictions screen concealed carry applicants." While I am all for government transparency, names and addresses of those who carry are not the best way to do this. Looking at the process should tell you what they're doing. Looking at names does not. Not that I'm a big fan of forcing people to get a license to carry.

"Those mistakes, though, in no way justify the outrageous and threatening nature of much of the response. Very early on, a rational discussion of this issue became all but impossible." And you throw out the victim card again. But who struck the first blow? If you had started it in a rational manner, then you could expect reason to rule the day. I don't believe you were threatened as much as you imply, nor do I feel that a newspaper can rule out rational discussion early on. An apology, an explanation, and some op-eds might calm people. Instead, you waited to see if it would blow over. And that tactic didn't work. This is why you finally decided to play the victim and call it an apology.

"It was extremely important that we not allow the unacceptable antics of the fringe to distract us from a careful examination of our own decision-making." If that were true, impulsive publication of such information would have never happened. Your reporting is the unacceptable antic of the fringe.

"We want to assure our readers that, where we erred, we will strive not to repeat our mistakes. And we will continue to advocate passionately for the free flow of information that is the lifeblood of an open society." Impulsive publishing is not advocacy. If you want to claim it is, publish the names and addresses of all the "authorized journalists" in your state. After all, a free flow of information is important to you. Personally, I'm more than happy with an "open" government that doesn't give my address to "open" journalists. I'm more of a "private" society guy, since I like my info private, while the government should function openly.

Monday, March 19, 2007

If only I were in or near Virginia...

I'd love to make some purchases at a couple gun shops in Virginia. They have decided to hold a drawing in protest of Bloomberg. Rather than back down because of Bloomberg's ridiculous and illegal investigation, they've made a profitable enterprise of defying him (well, they should be increasing sales enough to cover a bit of the legal fees, most likely).
I certainly hope it helps enough to keep them afloat, since I'm sure New York's considerable legal resources will cost a lot to fight. If I have any readers in the area, please visit the gun shops mentioned in the article. You might even win a free gun.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

For the Children

It turns out New York isn't just trying to stomp on the Constitution. They really are just that confused. The council has now decided to ban the use of metal bats in high school baseball.
The council was swayed by the touching story of the kid who was killed by a line drive off of a metal bat. Were there statistics and other data? Probably, but it also probably all came from one side of the issue. They decided it was time to do something to protect the children, and they made damned sure it was something minor enough to pass but big enough to get a little attention. Are any of the council members baseball or physics experts? I doubt it. They were touched by a story, and they acted according to their emotions.
I know some of you are probably wondering why this bat ban bothers me. It's yet another completely unnecessary law driven by emotional drivel. If metal bats are so dangerous, the high school sports associations will ban them. City, county, state, or federal laws should not be necessary to tell everyone what kind of bat to use. And these laws are a waste of not only time, but money. They'll require enforcement, and the schools will need to spend money to change over to wooden bats...until someone decides that the splinters are dangerous, and forces a switch back to metal.
Sure, the ban doesn't change anything for me. Sure, it doesn't take anyone's Constitutional rights. It's government meddling, and it annoys me. And it shows the Council's willingness to protect the children from any threat, real or imagined.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

When I was a kid...

Well, since both Blogonomicon and When your only tool is a hammer... did it, I figure I may as well do the join the when I was a kid meme. I'm a little young, and I led a boring life, but here goes:
When I was a kid, I taught myself to read out of sheer frustration. Then, more frustration ensued when I started school and they tried to teach reading in their slow manner. Frustration has followed me ever since.
When I was a kid, I attended an elementary school with about 30 students. There were two classrooms: K-2 in one, 3-5 in the other. It's closed now.
When I was a kid (5th grade or so by this point), I was talking to the neighbor kid near my little sister's teeball tee, and he decided to swing at the ball. He missed, but he caught me in the eyebrow. I walked inside for a bandage while he hyperventilated. My mother then decided I needed to go get stitches. The kid didn't come back to the house for about a month.
When I was a kid (younger again...I don't do chronological (or any logical, for that matter) order), I would wander around the woods, only to be in a bit of trouble when I decided to come back. My parents apparently didn't think I should wander off without telling them.
When I was a kid (like 8, I think), I was already a bit defiant. My parents decided to ground me by making me go to my room and not play with toys. I told them that they could take away my toys, but not my imagination. And I sat there on my bed and thought defiantly for the alotted time.
When I was a kid, I had a bow made from vine maple branch and a slingshot made of some other wood and some fairly tough rubber. Neither were horribly accurate, but I practiced until they could hit pretty much what I wanted them to.
When I was a kid, My father and I made two forts made of pressboard and plywood. One was on the ground, and it was sturdy, but small. The other was a tree fort (actually a platform attached at one corner to a tree). It had a kind of weak floor, and it fell over after an earthquake...eventually.
When I was a kid, when there'd be too much cougar activity, we'd have to have recess confined to a closer area to the school. It was fine by me, since I wasn't generally involved in a lot of the activities the other kids were.
When I was a kid, I didn't let anyone know if I was hurt or sick. Things healed pretty quickly, and I didn't want to miss out on anything because I was sick or healing...by high school, this had gotten to the point that I burst a tendon and didn't see a doctor until a coach noticed a week or two later. The doctor said it wouldn't heal, but I knew better.
When I was a kid, I tried teaching myself to draw, but my dad said I was wasting my time. I haven't been able to learn to draw since. I also don't share a lot of my writing. I'm not sure any of this is interrelated, but it sticks out in my memory that I had drawn a dragon with a lot of detail, but it had been a waste of time. He always valued hard work that could be used, not art and such.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Iran might hurry nukes?

Ah, the "studies" some people use to justify inaction always kind of amuse me. According to the Oxford Research Group, attacking Iran might make them build nukes. They assume Iran is 5 years from nukes, but say an attack would likely speed the program up. Never mind the UN orders to stop. Iran ignores those, but we shouldn't try to stop their program by force, since that will make them mad enough to speed up nukes.
If your child ignores your demands, you punish the child, right? (I may be making an incorrect assumption on this, since I've seen situations in which this is blatantly not true.) Do you avoid punishing the child because they are going to get mad at you and misbehave more? It very well could happen, but you aren't going to just give up because of that. You just have to punish them until they learn to behave.
If we attack Iran, they may speed up their nuke program (of course, our attacks would likely be targeting their nuclear facilities), but continued military pressure would undoubtedly make them back down. Their leader's crazy, not completely stupid. Letting them finish their 5-year nuke program first makes them far more dangerous. If we want to stop them, we need to do so now, while their retaliation is trying to hurry their nukes.
The really important thing to note here is that the study is "written by a noted atomic scientist and peace campaigner," which isn't really what I look for in political analysis, anyway.

Blogging soon

Sorry it's been awhile since I posted anything. I'm in the process of moving. On Tuesday (sometime between 0800 and 1300, they said...so probably around 1430--it's going to be fun having them show up after I work my Monday night grave shift), I should be getting access to the internet again. And I may even have all my stuff moved to appropriate areas.
At that point, I'll once again be able to blog from home. Blogging at work is not always feasible. Thanks for your patience.