Saturday, October 04, 2008

Blogging will remain sparse...

At work, they've decided to offer the "opportunity" for overtime. Translation: "We'll pay you overtime, just as long as you bail our asses out of the tight spot we've created by not hiring enough people." A stubborn, childish part of me wants to tell them to go screw themselves and refuse to work extra time. Another part of me, though, needs the money because the pay is terrible.

My boss has also decided that the behind-the-scenes work that keeps things going is not important enough for the overtime. He told me that the overtime should be spent working directly with the customers, not helping with the things that keep the feds from shutting us down. Now, I am well aware that poor customer reviews will hurt us, but they can't shut us down.

And those of us getting tired of working for peanuts aren't being offered a raise, just this temporary overtime. If only we weren't hurting financially, we might be able to refuse the extra time on principle. Then, they might actually see what we're worth.

But I doubt it.

In short, sorry I haven't been blogging. It'll stay sparse until we get a few more people hired again. Assuming we don't continue hemorrhaging employees at the pace we have been.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Self-censorship

Recently, I've been thinking about the possibility that potential employers might find the things I've written and judge me by them. This is a very real possibility, especially considering the possibility I'll soon be applying to the Teach for America program. Now, the things that they'll find with my last name attached are mostly political articles, some Facebook stuff, and a couple things from high school athletics. And the things that have my full first name aren't even attached to me, mostly. I'm not horribly concerned, but the thought of censoring myself for the sake of a career sickens me a bit.

Of course, many career choices bother me, as well. I don't like a job that has no variety, nor one that seems futile. I dislike the idea of going to work for someone else every day, never getting ahead, never doing anything the way I want to. I like freedom, change, and meaning, and those sometimes seem so rare that combining them seems impossible. In a way, the reason I dislike self-censorship is because I know it only leads to doing things for someone else, in their way, every futile day.

Over at xkcd, there's a pretty good commentary on the subject of self-censorship, and I think it'll do better than I would for saying everything else I'd like to say on the subject:


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Linguistic entropy

Please, for the good of future generations, do not allow encourage the decline of the English language. Broaden your vocabulary, don't succumb to texting abbreviations, and learn to use semicolons correctly.

You may wonder why I would suddenly rant about the ever-deteriorating state of the common vernacular. Well, the laws of entropy should not apply to language. It is not a closed system. Also, a collapse of language is a collapse of intellect. If you can no longer communicate ideas, you can no longer test them, and you end up with fewer and fewer valid hypotheses.

Of course, those are the distal causes. What, you ask, is the proximal cause? (Okay, so you may have used the term "immediate" or the phrase "this time," but that's just splitting hairs.)

At work, I recently had to explain what I meant when I used the term "infeasible" (not the first word I've had to define, just the most recent). I thought it was funny to define it as "not feasible." I then tried using "viable" in my definition, and finally had to sum it up as "not readily possible or practical." This particular college student told me that I was only causing myself problems when I use "big words." I told her that she shouldn't mind expanding her vocabulary. She seems vocally opposed to such a practice, which baffles me.

People are actively choosing to regress, be it in the consistently lacking spelling and grammar on these vast interwebs, the texting madness, or deciding to actively oppose expanded vocabulary. We are pushing ourselves toward Orwellian Newspeak. Of course, I'm guessing that Newspeak doesn't factor all that prominently into the Cliffnotes, and that's most of the Orwell reading of these opponents of intelligent discourse.

To put it into the terminology we seem to be heading toward, this is double-plus ungood.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Stem cell ads

Gregoire's newest ad points out that Rossi is against embryonic stem cell research. A man with Parkinson's tells us his hope lies with embryonic stem cell research, and he couldn't vote for someone against it.

Of course, no one mentions adult stem cells or the progress made with them. Nobody mentions how uncontrollable the embryonic stem cells have been thus far. But, then, why would they? It's not about help, but political gain. Has Gregoire done anything to promote stem cell research? Will Rossi ban it? No, it's a non-issue. But it's an issue you can get people excited about.

I guess it's just easier. And it may be more effective than talk about balancing budgets. After all, people seem to forget whose pockets the government's money comes from.

Tangible investments

On the radio today, they started talking about investing in a turbulent time. One of them pointed out that those wishing to invest in gold should get the actual gold, rather than certificates. The other two were astounded by this. They didn't know why anyone would want to invest in gold, though they did recognize that paper promises could be rendered meaningless. They wanted to know about buying gold bars and the sort of people who buy gold.

Investing in tangibles is a safe route, for the most part. Gold and silver have value that isn't linked to the performance of any particular economy. They tend to go up in value, rather than losing value to inflation. Governments can't just print more gold or silver. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying you should convert your savings to gold bars. No, investing in some gold coins gives you some wealth that'll still be there if the dollar (or other currency of your choice) bottoms out.

The only way gold will be worthless is if we end up in a situation where survival is the only priority. Gold, at that point, will be heavy metal that has little use. Hopefully, though, you have some investments that are of more use. Guns, ammo, tools, food, and other supplies with inherent utility are going to be the only things with value in a survival-based society. But once things calm down, gold will almost invariably be a standard of wealth again. And, hey, if you had enough of the necessities, you probably got some gold for almost nothing during the bad times.

Yep, tangibles are nice.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Election options...

Well, I've been thinking about the options in this election. McCain's choice of Palin as a running mate makes him almost palatable as a candidate. Obama and Biden, of course, are not an option for me, and I can't stomach Barr, even with Paul on the ticket.

I've heard people encouraging Libertarian votes simply for national recognition, but I don't think I can vote Barr. I've even heard rumors of a write-in campaign for Galt. Yes, John Galt, the fictional character who led Rand's strike of the mind.

Still others are choosing not to vote to protest the lousy choices. Of course, that'll be considered voter apathy when everything's tallied, and it won't make any sort of actual statement. At least the John Galt write-ins will be seen, if only by those tallying votes. If enough votes are cast, those who know who John Galt is will at least hear that some people made a statement. Whoever is elected, though, will still be elected.

Sure, things look pretty bleak, but you have to decide whether to speak to that or attempt to choose the lesser of two evils. Hell, if we had a good write-in campaign for Cthulhu, we might be able to show just how evil the lesser evil seems, or at least how ridiculous it is that we feel forced to choose the lesser of two evils.

I can't tell you how to vote, nor am I willing to tell you how I'm voting. You vote how you think you should, and I'll vote how I think I should. Or something like that.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Denial

I had an odd experience with a customer's answers on a 4473 today.

A fellow employee came to me and asked for some help, since he had a customer who'd answered some questions in a way that would prevent the sale. As I got to the customer, he was filling out the state pistol application, so I turned to the 4473. I immediately stopped the man, who was a bit confused. I told him that we would be forced to deny the sale.

He asked me why, explaining that he must not have kept up with gun laws as of late. I pointed out the first disqualifying answer: he said he had been convicted of a felony. He said that he understood it, and he had been convicted. I asked whether he'd had his record expunged. He said he was now eligible, but hadn't gotten around to it yet.

Well, I explained to him that it would be in his best interests to get his record expunged, and I moved on to the next problem.

I pointed out that he'd claimed that he had been adjudicated mentally defective, and I said that it might also go away if it was related. He said that it was separate, but it was against his will. I told him that being committed against his will is something that I couldn't really tell him how to remove from his record. I suggested he check with the courthouse.

Finally, I arrived at his third and final disqualifying answer. I asked whether the domestic violence may have been related to either of the other problems, but he said that it was even older. I suggested he try to get that expunged as well.

He then asked why these were disqualifying him from purchasing a black powder revolver. I explained that our state no longer differentiates between cartridge handgun and powder handgun. He told me that his relative was also a felon and hunted black powder. I explained that our particular company was playing it safe and applying the fairly recent change in handgun law to long guns, as well, and some places might not. I encouraged him to check with a game warden and find out his options.

He may've gone to buy a bow. He was probably the nicest person ever about his denial, and was extremely grateful for my patient explanations, which astounded me.

Of course, if I had it my way, anyone allowed to interact with the public without a custodian present should be allowed the rights afforded everyone, especially given that those rights are preexisting.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

So far, the Large Hadron Collider has not caused the end of the world. It has, however, inspired quite the amusing rap.

9/11

A few of my customers were surprised to realize that today was 9/11. It's been seven years, and we no longer hear as many reminders, which is natural. How many people remember the anniversary of Pearl Harbor's bombing? As time passes, memories fade.

But seven years is a far cry from ancient history. People can easily recall, if reminded, the images of the billowing smoke, the people jumping, and the collapse of the towers. People can easily recall the anger they felt that some terrorists with box cutters were able to wreak such destruction.

The anger and hurt may not be as fresh, but the memories can awaken them. The main problem is finding a clear target for that rage. When Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, there were clear sides. The Germans and Japanese were our enemies. This attack left us with terrorists as our enemies. Terrorism has no city, no country, no convenient target. It's hard to keep people angry at a nebulous group such as "terrorists."

Now, I don't pretend to have a solution. Terrorism is a difficult target. I just ask that people try to remember what was done. And remember that we don't want it to happen again.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Mechanical Bull Stalker

Per Hammer's suggestion, I figure I'd better tell the mechanical bull stalker story in its entirety.

For a period of time, I was a regular at a bar that had a mechanical bull a couple nights a week. The drinks were priced fairly and the bar staff learned who I was and my drinks: Long Island, Killer Kool-Aid, Absolut double screwdriver, and then we go from there. But this isn't really overly relevant.

The bar had ladies night every Friday, which included the bull, a DJ, and free cover for the ladies. Well, I started realizing that some of the girls liked to root for me when I rode the bull, and it made for a decent conversation start. (For those who might not have guessed, I'm not really all that good with the ladies, so I need all the help I can get.) After enough alcohol, it didn't even hurt all that badly. (Yeah, I know...it's not a real bull by any means, but the guy running the thing can really make that thing go if he wants to, and it can hurt.)

Well, one Friday, the DJ held a bull-riding contest. Everyone who wanted to participate gave the DJ their names, and the bull was to be turned to full speed immediately. The goal, of course, was eight seconds, but no one was expected to meet that lofty goal in this bar.

Considering the DJ knew me and he normally played hip-hop, I asked him to play something country for my ride. Of course, he made a big announcement about how he was playing it per my request and that I was the regular bullrider in the bunch. This, of course, increased expectations.

I lasted about two seconds, which was disappointing, but still longer than anyone else. The DJ declared me the winner and I won a free drink. Now, I was probably a little beyond the point that I needed another drink, but I'm not gonna pass up another double screwdriver. I'm up at the bar getting said drink, when a girl who's starting to look a little attractive walks up to order. While I still had enough of my wits about me to know that she wasn't fantastic when she walked in, so I didn't really flirt or anything. I just warned her not to impale her hand on the receipt nail, which she found really amusing.

Well, I continued to hang out for awhile, but decide that I'd better go before it gets too close to closing time. The hand-impale girl and her friends happened to leave at the same time, and I heard her yell, "Good night, Drew!" Thrown off-guard, I responded "Well, I guess I'm at a disadvantage, since you know my name, and I don't know yours." She introduced herself as Brenda, mentioned that she got my name from the bullriding and told me that she'd probably be back and asked if I would be. Since it was obvious I was a regular, I didn't deny it.

I figured that I might see her there again, but I wasn't overly worried. Well, one day I hopped onto MySpace and had a new friend request. From Brenda. She had learned my FIRST name from the bullriding contest, gone onto MySpace, and looked for people based on the bar. Considering I think I was in a different zip code than the bar, I've wondered quite a bit how large a geographic area she had checked.

More disturbing, though, might've been the fact that she had no friends on MySpace. It appeared that she had made the account just to find me...

Now, I had been forcibly acquainted with internet stalking before, so you'd think I would've learned not to have too much info on MySpace. She found my AOL Instant Messenger screenname, though, and managed to be on whenever I was. Now, I try not to be too blunt sometimes, so I would talk to her, but avoid going to her place or meeting her anywhere.

One day, she told me that she'd been divorced and asked whether that would be a problem. Well, I tried to explain to her that I had no problem with anything she'd done, since it did not affect me at all. I tried to explain that we were not, in fact, starting any sort of relationship, but she was having none of that. Finally, I started avoiding her.

Before I started ignoring her, her MySpace had gained a friend or two. They disappeared. THen most of the pictures. Then the profile. And I never heard from her again.

I believe that she was my final internet stalker, and that's been alright. But I don't think I changed my habits online.

Yep. I don't learn and I attract the strangest sorts of people.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Sentence meme

You finish the first part of the sentence in red with your own unique response. I stole it from Hammer.

1. My uncle once caught me being fairly unsafe at the lake with his kid.

2. Never in my life have I been to another continent.

3. When I was five I had taught myself to read, I'm told.

4. High school was worthless, but I miss football and wrestling.

5. I will never forget to lock my doors.

6. Once I met a fairly famous musician who was a decent guy (John Nolan).

7. There’s this boy I know who is a bit more than I can put up with.

8. Once, at a bar, I won a mechanical bull-riding contest and apparently earned a stalker in addition to my free drink.

9. By noon, I often feel like I could use a drink if I'm going to continue dealing with people.

10. Last night I was at my parents' house, kept awake by the pets.

11. If only I had a better job, I might stop my recent tooth-grinding.

12. Next time I go to church, I'll realize why it's been so long.

13. What worries me most is the theft of individual rights.

14. When I turn my head left I see a wall.

15. When I turn my head right I see the television.

16. You know I’m lying when I say, "I enjoy my job."

17. What I miss most about the Eighties is the cartoons. Yeah, so I'm a youngster.

18. If I were a character in Shakespeare it would be some minor role. Shakespearean ways are not my ways.

19. By this time next year I damn well better be making more money.

20. A better name for me would be David, I guess. A lot of people seem to mistake me for one.

21. I have a hard time understanding why people are so stupid and dependent.

22. If I ever go back to school, I'll get at least enough education to teach at the college level, I think.

23. You know I like you if you aren't stupid.

24. If I ever won an award, the first person I would thank would be the person who helped me the most toward earning said award.

25. Take my advice, don't take a break in the middle of your education.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Craigslist shot someone? Oh, wait, no...

Last I checked, Craigslist doesn't allow firearms to be sold on its site. That's one of the reasons I don't have too much use for it. What I don't understand is why this guy is suing them for allegedly hosting an ad that sold a gun he was shot with.

Even if the ad lasted long enough on Craigslist for the gun to be sold, it violated their terms of service. Also, if you were hit by a drunk driver whose car came from Craigslist, you'd have no suit. But this similar misuse is worth a ten million dollar lawsuit?

The only person at fault here is the shooter. You could try to make the argument that the seller knew he was prohibited, but it would be a hard sell.

I can only hope that this suit gets a decent jury. If this guy wins any damages from Craigslist, it'll be bad juju for anyone who will actually allow gun ads.

Friday, September 05, 2008

More on jury rights

It's easy to see why people are misinformed about jury rights. Judges instruct juries very carefully, avoiding mention of such practices as jury nullification. People passing out pamphlets to would-be jurors are arrested and charged with jury tampering. TV, books, and movies show juries following these orders, but having the tough decision as to whether the evidence is strong enough. And, of course, we've tried to develop such a sense of deference to authority, no one wants to stick their neck out in the courtroom.

Judges and lawyers alike hate jury nullification, because it's a wild card. They don't like juries to do anything like declare a law unjust. They want a jury to weigh the evidence and decide whether they believe the law was broken by the defendant, whether they believe the law is just or unjust.

Other than just the evasion of the subject of jury nullification, judges often choose which evidence juries may or may not hear, as well as which arguments will be allowed. For example, gun cases aren't generally argued on a Second Amendment basis, mostly because judges get squeamish about juries deciding the Constitutionality of a law.

Juror selection, too, involves attempts to avoid jury nullification. Someone well-informed of their rights as a juror is generally not chosen, because they'll tell other jurors. If a jury knows their rights, they might exercise them.

As with any right, a right you don't know is a right you don't exercise. And a right unexercised is lost. Read up on your rights sometime.

Jury Rights Day

I remember thinking as a kid that jury trials were a little odd, since the jury would be swayed by arguments other than the law. Well, I looked into it, and I began to understand. Jury nullification is an important part of our legal system, though many judges abhor it.

Today is Jury Rights Day, the anniversary of William Penn's jury refusing to convict him for preaching a Quaker sermon. The judge refused to let the jurors read the law themselves, as judges like to do, and the jury decided that they could not, therefore, find him guilty.

The jury was denied food and water, then thrown in jail, but they did not relent.

I just wish more jurors were informed.

(I may blog a little more on this subject after work.)

Gun owner for Obama, huh?

Letters from people who feel the need to point out that they are gun owners are often unsettling.

"To the best of my Internet research, that kind of attack on Obama's "Second Amendment" position is too extreme for even the National Rifle Association." Well, I'd almost have to agree with you there, given the ratings they like to dole out like candy to undeserving politicians.

"The NRA has, admittedly, created its scary profile of Obama's position from the people who support him (guilt by association) and his voting record." And they were supposed to use his empty promises, instead? If there are two ways to predict a politician's moves, it's to look at what he might do to pander to his supporters and look at what he's done in the past. And, when those two intersect, you find that it's not difficult to make predictions.

"It has extrapolated, from any indication contrary to their wishes, that Obama wishes gun owners total harm." Well, if you're looking to ban "assault weapons," make it harder to purchase guns, or keep people from selling their privately owned guns, you DO wish us total harm. Every step is a step toward total disarmament. We have far too many gun laws now.

"But, then, their 'official' articles qualify (as I paraphrase): 'Well, he must believe that, because some of those damn liberals we fear most believe that.'" Again, it's more like this: "He's forced to believe that, since his support base wants him to." Also, you seem to have stopped talking about his voting record, which shows that he's more than willing to vote against gun owners.

"The NRA doesn't like Obama's voting record." Oh, you brought that back up. Yeah, it's too bad they seem to forget McCain's record, but of course they don't like Obama's record.

"The NRA has set their first line of defense so far forward of any noticeable effect on law-abiding gun owners, that their hair trigger goes of at any mention of 'law' and 'gun.'" Actually, if you've been keeping score at home, you should know that the NRA is often stepping forward to promote laws contrary to their purpose. We've seen them push for stricter mental health guidelines (which would disqualify many a vet, or caused them to avoid psychiatric treatment they would need). We've heard them promote victim-disarmament school zones. They are not nearly as hard-line as, say, the JPFO. Or myself.

"
It's classic paranoia." Hmm...every time a gun law's passed, it adds another restriction against the right to bear arms. Therefore, we should embrace them? This is like saying that it's paranoid to avoid sticking your hand in a fire. It might not burn this time, right?

"According to the candidate, himself, 'Barack Obama ... recognizes the great conservation legacy of America's hunters and anglers and has great respect for the passion that hunters and anglers have for their sport.'" What about self-defense, homeland defense, target shooting, or home defense? What about resisting tyranny? Oh, yeah, and whatever happened to judging someone not by their words, but by their actions? Tell you what, I'll punch you several times, then tell you that I'm a peaceful and non-aggressive man. Then I'll draw my fist back again. If I did this, would you expect another punch, or my newfound peaceful self?

"Will the NRA believe Obama's moderation on the issue?" I hope not. Also, I believe that your "moderation" is still in direct violation of the Constitution. Both in the President's scope of powers and in the right to keep and bear arms. This brand of "moderation" means taking away my rights.

"Paranoiacs don't believe anything that doesn't fit their dark fantasies." And optimists don't believe anything that fits their bright ones. Obama's record, his party, his running mate, and his voters all seem to line up with my "dark fantasies," though, so I think the sun in your mind's eye has a blinding effect.

"So, they inflame rather than inform." First, the NRA is hardly expected to provide a simple, objective look at the facts. Like your letter, they editorialize. Secondly, in this case, the information is enough to inflame. Finally, it is sometimes better to inflame. An unmotivated man is apathetic, while a motivated man will work for his cause. You sometimes need to motivate. In this case, too much gushing talk is heard about Obama, and we need to let the people see the reality to motivate them to disbelieve his lies.

"No one is coming to rural Oregon to take away your gun." No, not yet. They'll expect you to come turn it in. They want you to beg them to take it. After all, they'll only have your best interests in mind, right? When they come to take your gun, they'll want more than that. After all, you will have been a disobedient little servant, and you might be telling others, too.

"I'm a gun owner." You might be the guy with a shotgun OR a rifle, but certainly not both, since that's only for us crazies. Or you might be one of the folks who pretends to be a gun owner to attempt to gain trust. In any case, you are, at best, a gun owner that has not yet felt freedom slipping away.

"I once enjoyed shooting up many rounds of free government ammunition as part of an NRA program." The civilian marksmanship program, huh? And it's funny how this seems almost like it was eons ago when you last shot. The point of the program, which you missed, was to keep the armed citizenry prepared, not for hunting, but for the possibility of defending against tyranny from home or abroad.

"American Rifleman comes to our family post office box." Yeah, it's hard to get the NRA to quit sending stuff, huh?

"And, you can tell, I'm not afraid of reasonable gun laws." By this, you of course mean the ones that don't yet affect you. You probably don't own handguns, "assault weapons," or more than one or two guns. You probably don't realize that a hunting rifle could be considered a "high-powered sniper rifle," or that the shotgun might be banned due to the inability to do ballistics matching. Yeah, they can come up with justification for anything, but they'll wait until they've almost completely disarmed the public before they attempt a full-on ban on firearms.

"I am afraid that polarizing nonsense like this 'ten-point' fabrication will let the ballistophobes paint legitimate gun owners as lunatics." Ah, the old "we'll look like lunatics" tactic. Except that no one's advocating rebellion (well, no one writing for the NRA, at least, no matter how much it might be necessary in the not-too-distant future). All they did was tell their members what Obama might mean for gun owners, based on his past actions and his present supporters (many of whom expect favors in exchange for their support). That's not a lunatic move, and it is almost impossible to pretend it might be.

"Then you could have really oppressive legislation." That's always the scare tactic: don't stand up to the inch-by-inch assault, or they might try for yards at a time (which, you might note, is the exact opposite of the old addage "give an inch and he'll take a mile"). You realize, though, that consistent inches make for consistent yards. If those who try to write these laws try something big, then maybe the gun owners will finally see that they can't just worry about the guns they like. Giving inches is worse than defending yards. Hell, we should be retaking some of those inches, feet, and yards we've already let them take.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Arsenal?

A story like this disturbs me.

'''Police hit the jackpot. I stopped counting after 18 shotguns,' Prewitt said Tuesday morning from the driveway of her Iona Avenue home." Shotguns, last I checked, are perfectly legal. And there is no limit to them, either.

"Prewitt said she watched as officers also confiscated what she described as grenades from the home of Benjamin B. Terril, 50, a Buchtel High School science teacher." Grenades? I love the sensationalized reporting here. Somebody getting jumpy over shotguns thinks she sees grenades, and the reporter jumps all over it.

"Terril is in the Summit County Jail on charges of possessing explosive materials, carrying a concealed weapon, having weapons under disability and drug abuse." A science teacher is bound to have "explosive materials." Heck, every household probably has some chemicals that we could classify as explosive. And someone with a lot of guns is likely to have reloading components. I don't know the state laws there, but it sounds as though he was on his property, so the concealed weapon charge is ridiculous. Not that I think there should be any restrictions, but I don't think that a weapon on one's person is illegal on a person's own property. The "weapons under disability" charge is where they start to have something, though it's disgusting that it is possible. The problem, though, is that a teaching background check would've probably kept anyone legally ineligible for a gun from teaching. And the drug abuse is mentioned without any possession charge, which really makes you wonder.

"Police spokesman Lt. Rick Edwards said Akron police received an anonymous call around 7:45 p.m. Monday, reporting Terril and another man were arguing and pointing guns at each other. Police said both men appeared to be intoxicated." I always love "anonymous tips," since they can be used to justify just about anything. Later in the article, we're told the gun was found in his pocket, not his hand. And the other man isn't mentioned again. Makes a person wonder about some of the facts.

"Terril gave officers permission to search his home, where they said they found an 'arsenal of weapons' and an array of explosive material." "Arsenal," huh? And "array?" These are relative terms, and we're given no basis on which to judge them.

"A half-dozen empty beer cans, a plastic bag of fruit, two crumpled dollar bills and another 78 cents in change were strewn across the front porch of Terril's home Tuesday morning." Beer, fruit, and pocket change are hardly evidence of anything, and the fact that they were there Tuesday morning may only be a testament to the search. Cops tend to make a bit of a mess.

''I was surprised and shocked. You have to wonder what he was up to. It looks like he was getting ready for World War III,'' Again, we hear from the panicky neighbor. Hell, I probably have a neighbor or two who'd say the same about my "arsenal."

'''Ben was always a good guy who kept to himself,' said Swaidner. He said he had no idea that there were so many weapons in the house." A good man with guns is not problematic. Nor is he criminal.

"Akron schools Superintendent David James said Terril, a teacher in the district since 1996, has been placed on paid administrative leave while the case is under investigation." And the school is out a teacher.

"It then goes through their Office of Professional Conduct and they will determine whether that person will be able to retain their teaching license." And we can guess what they'll say. I hope they don't, but I'm guessing they'll strip him of his license.

"'My biggest concern is that that person is not around our kids,' James said." Yeah, he might teach them to be self-sufficient and free...we can't have that.

"In 1992, Terril was arrested in Stark County for carrying a concealed weapon — a felony — and driving while intoxicated, a first-degree misdemeanor, according to court records." And he ended up pleaing no contest in the DWI and not guilty on the weapon. Not a big issue, as far as I can tell. He also attended the court-mandated course. We're done, then.

We're then told that he said he'd never been convicted of anything more than a minor traffic violation, which a criminal record check backed up. And we're then supposed to believe he's a horrible person.

"According to the resume in Terril's personnel file, he served in the U.S. Army from 1975 to 1991 and achieved the rank of captain. He graduated from the University of Akron in 1996 with a bachelor of science degree in secondary education and was certified to teach science and biology." A former military man who owns guns. No surprise there. And he is a science teacher. Nothing big and scary about any of it.

Sure, there may be more to this than we're told, but it really sounds like he made a mistake inviting the cops in, and it sounds like there's a lot of hype here. I wonder which, if any, charges the DA will actually pursue.

Reasonable? McCain? In the same sentence?

People seem so willing to believe McCain...

"All of Obama's big-name supporters are anti-Second Amendment activists like Mayors Daley of Chicago and Bloomberg of New York." Yes, we know that Obama is anti-gun, but why should we vote McCain?

"On the other hand, Sen. John McCain met with the National Rifle Association's Wayne LaPierre and pledged to support the Second Amendment and to appoint conservative judges to the courts whenever he has the opportunity." Oh, I see. Because he backpedals just enough to get some face time with LaPierre (who is more than willing to gut the Second Amendment himself), we're supposed to believe he won't keep trying to keep private sellers out of gun shows, and we're supposed to ignore his previous votes (only 4 of 15 were on our side, according to GOA).

"McCain's views are much more reasonable and just one reason I support him fully. I urge others to do so." I cannot, in good conscience, support McCain, nor even call his views "reasonable."

On the other hand, some people are paying attention and urging others to do so.

Monday, September 01, 2008

New acquisition

A few people told me to be wary of a recent purchase. They looked at the gun and figured it might be unsafe to fire. Of course, they had their reasons to doubt.

The barrel is a bit rusty...
It's not pretty, but it'll send shot downrange.

The receiver, too, has some cosmetic problems:

And the buttplate is a bit banged-up:
The parts may be crap, but you put it all together, and you've got a Firefly...erm, I mean, you have a Beretta AL2. (Sorry...I couldn't resist abusing a Firefly quote.)
And, really, for a $35 shotgun, it's pretty amazing.

It's kind of a funny story, too. A guy sold it to the Gun Library, and they gave him $25, since neither he nor they could put it together (they only bought it because he was selling several guns all at the same time). One of the guys then offered me the gun for $35 if I could put it together. I looked at it for a second, flipped one part around, and had it together in a moment. He cursed a bit, but there'd been witnesses to the promise, so I got it for $35. The wood's in good condition, everything is definitely functional, and a little work'll even make it look pretty decent.

Fixed choke, 3" capable, and semi-auto. I wasn't looking for it, but I definitely got a good gun.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Bringing up Columbine?

Those who would take our guns are still bringing up Columbine.

"We are nine years removed from the mass murder-suicide that happened here, and 10 miles south of a national political gathering at which the quieting of America's guns has never been mentioned." Well, it might be due to the facts, or due to common sense, but it's more likely due to the knowledge that it would be political suicide. I went to a high school that had a parking lot full of pickups with rifles in them, and a school shooting was never a threat. Studies have shown that the areas with fewer gun restrictions have less crime, too.

"No one halts me as I enter the spotless, suburban, painfully infamous campus; no apparatus scans me for a pistol or a knife. There are cameras in the ceiling, but at the Home of the Rebels, a faith in human goodness -- and the odds against a second strike of fateful lightning -- is the shell that keeps a thousand children safe." Well, the cameras and whatnot will allow them to monitor a situation. And it's not like they'd equip someone to stop a threat, so it's hard to figure that scanning people would help.

The article goes on to talk about the drug-addled racists they conveniently caught with guns. Everything added up too conveniently in that case...and the guns were traditional hunting rifles. It seems to me like a segway for suggesting a ban on "high-power sniper rifles." I might seem a bit paranoid, but it all seemed a bit too convenient. Political statements by drug addicts, hunting rifles, and the attempt to pretend it was a plot...it just seems like too many things were going just right for the Dems.

"'If we would have had metal detectors, they would have just killed the people running them,' the witness said." And you figure they'd stop there? Of course not. And I'm certain that the quoted individual doesn't believe they would either. Arming people would allow for defense. An armed victim is much harder to victimize. Arm teachers, and there will be someone fully prepared to resist.

"'What could have prevented Klebold and Harris from committing those murders on that particular day?' I didn't really have a good answer. The guns that they used were bought legally. An 18-year-old student went to a gun show in Colorado Springs and bought these weapons and gave them to Klebold and Harris. " The guns were purchased legally by someone who illegally transferred them to those who wanted to kill others. You aren't going to keep criminals from finding, buying, or making weapons. But, had teachers been allowed to bring guns in, they might have stopped the murderers.

The article then talks about mindset and copycats. The unimaginable creatures that would perpetrate such crimes are said to do it to achieve a sort of immortality.

Then, we're suddenly back to the politicians' near-silence on guns. "So there is no looking to the candidates to end the carnage." It's not the fault of an inanimate object. it's the fault of the subhuman creatures that perpetrate the violence and the creatures in power who refuse to allow people to defend themselves.

"'I would like to think that if we had tougher laws there would be less murders and violent crimes,' Frank DeAngelis said. 'But the criminals would still find ways to get guns anyway. What Klebold and Harris had in their basement was unreal. They could have engaged with the police for four hours that day.'" Sorry, Frank, but I don't follow. If you know that criminals will be criminals, why would you like to think that gun control would work? It won't, and it will disarm those who would be able to defend themselves against the criminals.

We then hear that Columbine's principal endorses Obama, and that the nearest gun shop is anti-Obama. The owner points out that he wouldn't be at fault if a gun he sold were used in a crime. Also, we're led to believe that the meth addicts' guns could make good assassination weapons, and we're told that a .22 is a "powerful" "varmint gun." Of course, the big quote that we're supposed to remember is a defensive one, which leads me to believe the author made the gun shop owner angry. I take from this that we're supposed to see him as an angry, horrible person. If I had a reporter asking pointed questions that implied that I was a criminal, I'd get a bit testy, too.

"'It's safe here,' their principal tells them. In a land of rage and rifles, that may be the most hopeful audacity of all." Again, we're told that anger and rifles go hand-in-hand, and we are supposed to believe that safety is impossible to achieve when the citizenry is armed. In reality, a disarmed citizenry is a defenseless citizenry.

It's funny how the interviews are supposed to lend credibility to the article, but the only one advocating gun control is the author. Also, there is not one ounce of reasoning to the call for disarmament. The entire article is supposed to play to our emotions, and there isn't even a rationale given for the proposed course of action. It's a little telling when you propose action without reason. Logic is the tool with which we can determine the utility of a course of action. When you ignore it, you do so at your peril.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Not Surprising

The areas in Canada with the highest levels of gun ownership have the lowest levels of gun crime. It's the same pattern we've seen over and over.

"That's one gun for every 7.2 people, the highest ratio of guns to people of any province in the country." Well, it's far from ideal, but it's the best Canada has to offer, I guess.

"Statistics Canada's most recent numbers on gun crime also reveal the province has the lowest annual rate of victims of firearm-related crime in the country, with just 11.4 victims for every 100,000 people." Like I said, this doesn't surprise me. It's the usual pattern.

"Leyton was a vocal critic when the Chretien government initiated the long-gun registry. While he applauds some of the provisions of the registry, such as mandatory firearms training, he's still worried the registry is a mechanism for the government to eventually outlaw certain firearms." Canada already has severe restrictions on guns. Leyton is right to fear the registry--the Canadian government likes to restrict and control guns. If they know where they are, they know who to take them from.

On a positive note, the numbers show that the most armed areas in Canada are the safest. While we see these sorts of numbers a lot, it's great to hear them coming out of Canada.

Property rights?

Well, I've run across yet another article against the arming of Harrold School District teachers. Well, it mostly focuses on property rights, which is confusing, since the school's policy hasn't been forced from above.

"Saturation coverage of isolated school shootings has created the false impression that children aren’t safe at school. They are." While school shootings are not common, by any means, they are devastating. Police response takes time, while an immediate armed response could stop a shooting long before the cops arrive.

"For another thing, the proliferation of concealed guns raises the possibility of firearms accidents, thefts and vigilante-type actions that short-circuit the legal process." Actually, a concealed weapon kept on a person is very unlikely to be drawn, and virtually impossible to steal. As for "vigilante" actions...what if those actions save YOUR child? Further, self-defense is not a vigilante act. It is an act of survival, and perfectly within the legal system.

"These are reasons why a host of entities including businesses, churches, schools and college campuses post themselves as gun-free except for law enforcement." Actually, they generally cite imagined liability. It disarms those who would be able to protect the business, and it won't disarm those who would rob it.

"That should be their prerogative." Yeah, I'm all for property rights. If a racist wants to run a whites-only diner, he should be able to, just as those who would disarm people should be allowed to post signs prohibiting weapons. In either case, people can choose not to do business there. On the other hand, you'd force the racist to allow blacks, so it's a bit hypocritical to permit a business to deny service to self-reliant individuals.

"
Gov. Rick Perry has said he’d like to have it so that people with concealed weapons permits can have guns in any of the above settings and more. Not surprisingly, this idea is opposed by the Texas Association of Business. It says that proprietary matters should trump the concerns of people who want to have a loaded gun on their persons at all times." Well, my concerns about self-defense are very important to me, as are property rights. A pistol on my person is really my business, and I think we've already covered the fact that we already limit property rights.

"A group of college students is promoting conceal-carry on college campuses." Contrary to the author's assertion, they've been fighting for this for longer than just since Harrold teachers had their right to self-defense affirmed.

"
Granting that most individuals who have conceal-carry permits are well-suited for the responsibility, it’s a troubling notion that individuals would arm themselves out of fear or would appoint themselves judge, jury and executioner." Neither fear nor a desire to judge and sentence are the main reasons to be armed. It is responsible to provide for one's own defense. I don't expect to need my weapon, but I carry it because self-reliance is about taking responsibility for one's self, including defense.

"
The term 'law enforcement' means what it says. Certain individuals go through exhaustive training and certification to arm themselves in the public interest. Not only are they trained in the use of a deadly weapon, but they are also trained in due process and crowd control." Yes, "law enforcement" does mean what it says. Cops enforce the laws. They are not here to protect you, but to respond to crimes already in progress. They go through some training in firearms, a little training in law, and a lot of training in procedure, but that does not make them guardians, nor gods. It makes them men (and women) who are trained to apprehend criminals, much like prosecutors are trained to make a case against those the police apprehend. Self-defense is an individual responsibility, not a communal one.

"
Businesses, churches, college campuses and others should be able to say “no firearms” just as rightfully as they say 'no solicitors' and 'no trespassing.'" Again, I must ask, can they say "no whites," "no Jews," or "no cops?"

"
Places that invite employees to arm themselves face a daunting task in making sure that the armed individuals are doing so in the public interest." No. Places that allow people to defend themselves do not take on that task. Each individual takes on the responsibility for his/her own defense, and for any actions s/he takes.

My right to self-defense shouldn't end when I enter a business. I am responsible for my own actions, just as everyone is, and the business that strips me of my means to self-defense is one that won't have my business. It is irresponsible to create a target-rich environment for those who'd do harm to the clientele.

Property rights are all well and good, but why does my right to self-defense give way to the property rights of someone who opens a business to the public?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

One issue voting

As we near the Presidential election, I'd like to point out the one litmus test I rely upon in choosing a candidate. I'll give you a hint: it's not abortion, immigration, or even taxes.

As my regulars may have guessed, my test of a candidate's integrity is the ever-present gun issue. A candidate who won't trust me with my own defense won't trust me to make any of my own decisions. A candidate who would disarm me would control me.

By controlling the means to self-defense, you create a world in which you can control everyone via your monopoly on force.

"But wait," you say, "there have to be other issues you care about!" Sure, I'd prefer not to be taxed too thoroughly, and I have my preferences when it comes to foreign policy. The problem is that these are secondary concerns, at best, and very much influenced by my right to bear arms.

In a gun-free society, the monopoly on force allows the government to demand whatever portion of your wealth they'd like. In a society where free men might stand up to the threats of the government, there are limits to what can be accomplished by threat of force.

A society that is truly free has the tools to remain free. A "free" society that removes these tools from the reach of the public removes the safeguards of freedom.

I vote based on freedom. The right to bear arms is the right to remain free.

Monday, August 25, 2008

What's enough?

According to this op-ed, concealed carry should be plenty of freedom.

"The ability to conceal a weapon is all that is needed to protect yourself and your fellow classmates from a targeted attack. It might be a pain and not as comfortable to conceal your weapon, but it is effective and efficient." It isn't just about comfort or convenience. It's about restrictions and hiding. A visible weapon can be a very effective deterrent, and it can show the world that people who carry guns are not unstable or aggressive.

And while we're deciding what is "enough," I wonder if you have specific weapons in mind. Or maybe you'd like to tell me how many times per week I can exercise my freedom of religion by attending church. Or which churches are acceptable.

"Utahns should be thankful they are allowed to have guns on campus and quit trying to push the system." Oh, yes, we should all be good little subjects and be happy with whatever scraps we are thrown. And we shouldn't push the system, because someone may decide we don't deserve our scraps. Or, y'know, we could point out that we are allegedly free.

"'The problem with carrying open is someone wanting to take your weapon away from you,' said Sergeant Arb Nordgren of campus police. 'It's the biggest concern for a police officer.'" Just a little bit of awareness and the tiniest bit of retention technique will prevent a gun-grab. And a criminal doesn't want to grab your gun. As an armed citizen, you're a hardened target. He'll pick a softer target. The reason cops have to worry about gun grabs is that they will be grappling with criminals who've already been caught. This not only puts the gun in a more grabbable position, but it also means that there is no moving on to another target and there is less to lose.

"The requirements of being allowed to conceal carry are much more stringent than open carry. To receive a concealed weapons permit you must be 21, have a valid driver's license, be fingerprinted, have an extensive FBI background check conducted by the Bureau of Criminal Identification and pass a written and shooting range test." So jumping through hoops is a good thing? It isn't wrong to want a means of defending yourself, even if you haven't spent the time and money to jump through the hoops.

"The BCI reports that only about 2 percent of permits are revoked each year. This helps guarantee that people who obtain and keep CWPs are mostly law-abiding citizens who, unlike open carry individuals, have proven their worthiness to carry concealed guns." I'm not willing to "prove I'm worthy" to exercise a God-given right to self-defense. And how many OCers are arrested each year for various crimes? I'm willing to bet that you can't cite any statistics on that one. Your logic is extremely flawed.

"Most people don't like guns." Funny, then, the number of gun owners out there. And why is popularity a proper metric to use. If I told you that most people don't like dissent, would you advocate a law saying that you cannot publicly announce dissent with anything? Of course not. You'd realize that people don't have a right to be exposed to only that which they find comfortable.

"It's wasted energy to attempt to change their minds. Trying to force acceptance by openly carrying will not change their opinions. It will only create a hostile environment and increase their efforts to eliminate guns on campus." Actually, the best therapy is exposure. If a child is afraid of dogs, you have the child spend time with a friendly dog. If a person fear guns, then, what better therapy than exposure to peaceably carried firearms. In my personal experience carrying openly, I've changed far more minds than I've hardened (which isn't to say that no one will steel themselves against believing that guns aren't necessarily evil--some people have made up their minds and will not be changed). People fear the unknown. If they see that reasonable people carry guns without killing people, they will realize that guns don't cause violence.

"When you conceal carry, nobody is the wiser. People who are anti-gun don't have to get nervous, and permit holders still have their weapons with them on campus." You miss the opportunity to change minds and you don't have that visible warning to would-be predators. And, most important of all, you have made a concession, which leads toward other concessions. If you show that you won't fight for this right, they'll find another one to pick at. Maybe it's "assault weapons," or maybe it's standard-capacity magazines, or it might even be concealed carry. People who are against guns do not come to accept them because those who conceal them are willing to bend to the will of those who won't carry.

"Concealed carry is a perfect scenario and something many other states can only dream about." Actually, most states have concealed carry laws, and many have open carry as well. As far as perfect, the only scenario I can think of that'd be perfect would be the ability to carry whatever I choose, however I choose, wherever I choose, without having to bend to the will of those who disagree with me. The Second Amendment would be as thoroughly revered as the First. The perfect scenario is one where each person is free.

"Let's just allow open carry to rest in peace." Well, if you mean the gun resting peacefully on my hip, then that's generally what'll be happening when I OC. But you mean as in dead, gone, and forgotten, I'll continue to disagree with ANY limitation on ANY of my inalienable rights.

Every time I hear someone tell me what's enough for me, I cringe, whether they say I should be content with hunting rifles, concealing my sidearm, or being searched without a warrant. Every "reasonable" restriction is, at its heart, still the application of force to produce a set of behaviors someone else chooses. It is wrong to initiate force, whether against a common behavior or a rare, unpopular one.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sporting arms aren't welcome, either

Hunters are apparently unwelcome when the DNC is in town.

"He says he had just picked up his rifles from the Sportsman's Warehouse and had them in a locked gun case when he checked in at the Grand Hyatt. The clerk checking him in noticed the rifle case and called security." A locked gun case that he didn't try to hide was enough to get the police to search his luggage and find his handguns, which will lead to the charge of unlawful carrying of weapons.

Sadly, though, he said, "Would this affect my choice as a candidate? No. There's more important issues than this." More important than harassing a man who is simply attempting to check into a hotel? I'm not saying he's entirely wrong, though...the only other party people think of on the national level is the GOP, and it's not as though they're too much better right now.

We're then told that "the Grand Hyatt General Manager says he was not a registered guest at the hotel. Considering that he was trying to check in and was stopped, it's no surprise that he didn't manage to become a registered guest.

"'We don't know why he was walking through our hotel,' said General Manager Ed Bucholtz." If someone attempting to check in is unexpected, you might want to double-check your business practices.

The police also searched the man's car and towed it, and once they were sure the man was behind bars and his car was off the scene, Pelosi was brought back in. Y'know, for a party that sometimes claims that they are only trying to get rid of the "bad" guns, they sure didn't like the hunting rifles this guy had locked in a gun case. Imagine what would've happened had I worn a gun on my hip and visited that hotel.

The most concerning thing is that the response of arresting a man for the hunting rifles he has locked up is called "professional." What would they think of me carrying a loaded gun for my own defense? They might figure it appropriate to shoot me on sight.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Utility is un-Christian?

It's funny what some sources will say and do sometimes. This article in "Relevant," a "progressive" Christian publication targeting youth, has a very odd agenda and very little substance.

It starts out with an Oscar Wilde quote and an extremely brief definition of aestheticism. It then contrasts the "art for art's sake" with the stark description of utilitarianism, which praises that which creates the most happiness or does the most good. The author goes on to say that the sacrifice of the one for the many is clearly unscriptural, citing the parable of the lost sheep.

I'm not going to argue on that point, since I, too, am against the needs of the many outweighing the needs of the individual. After that, though, the attack on utilitarianism becomes less certain. The author speaks of speeding up death to harvest organs (which actually risks damaging the organs in most cases, but the author won't mention that), saying that it is or will be done to help those who could get better use out of them. The author says that "resources spent at the end of life are viewed as wasted," though many utilitarians would probably believe that the attempt to cure someone could help cure others and that the wisdom of one person could be passed on to several.

Still, though, the points are partially valid. What if we start killing people because they aren't making the most of their life and we think handing out organs will help? It almost makes sense if you believe that utilitarians are ruthless.

After that, though, the argument descends into the final stages of madness. " Yet, utilitarianism's creeping influence can be even more subtle than all this. For utilitarianism is an economic approach to life; it is quantitative rather than qualitative." In other words, it uses a more standardized measure, so it must be bad. If something can be measured, why not measure it? Just because you want to believe that a system of measuring value can be inherently subjective does not mean there aren't objective measurements to be made.

"
Even well-intended people and programs that accomplish much good can get caught up in this sort of thinking." Results count for something, don't they? If a program was designed to help the poor, you wouldn't really want a guy to come in to utilize it wearing a three-piece suit and a Rolex. It wouldn't do him any good, and therefore would not be utilitarian. A utilitarian charity would give to those who had objective needs, and it's hard to say that's wrong. Accomplishing the most good possible is very utilitarian.

"A
rchitecture emphasizing function and sacrificing appearance," is the next gripe. Sounds a bit like The Fountainhead, doesn't it? If I want a sturdy building to suit my needs, I would prefer it be built to emphasize function. If you're moving a lot of stuff, you'll pick the ugly U-Haul over the pretty Porsche. If you want to make it look good, do that after designing for function.

The next supposed problem is "
Bible studies centered on 'optimizing' relationships." Y'know, the Good Book does have some advice on how best to work with, live with, and get along with your fellow man. Having the occasional Bible study that has some focus on that can't hurt.

Next up are "
'value added' approaches to education." I'll admit, I had to look this one up to be sure I wasn't wrong about what it is. It seems that "value-added" education means that you test students, monitor their progress, and use the data to monitor the programs at a school. Y'know, make sure kids are actually learning. I guess I'm just not "progressive" enough to understand why it's so bad to make sure Johnny learns to read.

Last on this list are "
ministries designed to attract quantities rather than cultivate quality." While we do want the flock to become more Christ-like, I'd say that actually attracting people to the Church might be a worthy goal. Multiple sorts of ministries can work together. You attract a bunch of people, encourage them to attend other ministries, and pretty soon, you're teaching them all sorts of quality Biblical truths. If you just go with the "quality" folks, you're missing out on the tax collectors, prostitutes, and other sinners. I seem to remember someone in the Bible hanging out with that crowd from time to time, but I just can't remember whose son he was...

"
As Wilde's reaction shows, utilitarianism makes no room for 'useless,' unquantifiable things such as art, beauty, or human relationships." Actually, art creates happiness without taking any (or much, at least) away. Almost the definition of utilitarianism. And human relationships are the ultimate form of utilitarianism. If two people gain happiness from interacting with each other or making a deal with each other, there is little to be said against it.

Yes, I know, when we think of utility, we think of the hammer, the plow, and the other emotionless tools of necessity. Utilitarians, though, know that there is nothing wrong with the simple house that does exactly what it was intended to do, nor the painting that reflects the spirit of that worker, evoking exactly the response for which it was intended. "Art" like a crucifix in a jar of urine is not utilitarian. It does not create a net gain of happiness; it is mere antagonism.

Art, by utilitarian standards, is okay if needs don't go unmet because of it, causing more suffering. Not necessarily encouraged, but not reviled above all. No, the useless man is the one whose art says nothing, whose hands take without trading, whose structures are so focused on aesthetics as to become unusable.

"
Yet, aestheticism is an extreme response to its polar opposite. In contrast to these extreme philosophies, God reflects in his creation a perfect balance between usefulness and beauty." Wow, that's the extent of the bashing of this side, huh? I guess it's hard to bash a side that's comprised entirely of the useless. If it's pretty, it's good. It kind of mocks itself.

"
There is, however, one area in which God upsets the balance. And when He does, it is significant to note that the balance shifts toward not utility, but beauty. That is, the beauty of His grace." His grace is not simply beauty. It, in fact, is far more tilted toward utility, as it is the way for fallible beings to get to Heaven. If it weren't for grace, Hell would be the only afterlife for the unpure, which pretty much encompasses all of us.

"
In its etymology, the word 'grace' means 'free' and 'unearned,' or 'pleasing.' It shares the same root word with 'gratuitous,' which means 'without reason or cause.' Truly, there is nothing more gratuitous, more unreasonable, more uneconomic, more 'useless'—or more beautiful—than the grace of God." Yes, it is free and unearned...and though sins pain God, He allows the sinner to be purified through grace. He wants to be with his creation, and this is the only way. There's a net gain for everyone who chooses to accept grace, and there's a net gain for God (though He has to feel the pain of man's disobedience). Sounds pretty utilitarian to me.

Mind you that I'm not much less guilty of oversimplifying both utilitarianism and aestheticism than the author of this bizarre article, but I stumbled upon it and could not believe that someone was arguing so fervently against utility. I am a utilitarian, except that I don't believe in the sacrifice of the one for the group--I believe that the most useful thing of all is free association among free individuals. People will make the deals most valuable to both sides, and both will benefit.

Also, don't mind the religious overtones. I'm not going to turn this into any sort of religious debate if I can avoid it. I simply chose to engage some of the religious arguments of the article's author.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hammer's new meme

You just won the mega powerball jackpot to the tune of 150 million dollars (after taxes)

1. What would be the very first thing you would do? Buy some land.

2. Where would you choose to live? I'd like to live on enough land to build a decent range, have some space, and build a home large enough to raise a family in (though I suppose the house might get depressing if I never do start a family)

3. What kind of house would you live in? It'd be something simple, livable, and made by an architect, rather than erected from a preexisting blueprint.

4. What kind of car would you buy?
I'd probably go for a reasonable family car and a reasonable pickup or SUV.

5. Where would you vacation? If I don't have a family, I might travel if I feel like it, but I'd likely be content to stay local. If I have a family, we could have nice, relaxing, domestic vacations, and maybe one or two trips abroad (though quite possibly not).

6. Would you have anything on your body fixed? No. I'm used to it as-is. Why renovate?

7. What kind of hobbies would you engage in? I'd keep shooting, but in my own range.

8. What charities would you donate to? I like Hammer's idea of a very low interest business loan, and I'd donate to folks like JPFO, who help fight for our rights.

9. Would you give money to your relatives? No. Not unless there was an actual need.

10.Would you run away from your current life? Only my job and apartment, and they hardly comprise a life.

11. Would you continue to work? I'd write, maybe teach, or maybe start a business. I wouldn't be in retail ever again, though.

12. Would the money change you in any way? It might ease my stress levels, but I dislike pretentious people and places, so I wouldn't become one of those people.

I don't generally tag, but I'm sure Hammer would be okay with anybody borrowing his meme. So feel free.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sense, common or not

Well, Hammer and Kelly got me to thinking about common sense. Being (I assume) younger than either of them, I'm of the generation that has lost all ties to common sense. It's sad that it's gone, but what's more disturbing to me is what's replacing it.

A little background: I'm from a small town, where many people had lived their entire lives, and where values are different from city values are these days. Now, it was far from perfect: meth showed up with our lack of police, and there are, of course, always problems between people any time you get two or more people in one place. And there were people without common sense there, too, but they didn't really matter one way or another.


I didn't realize how much common sense was worth until I left there. I had always thought city folks were often odd, but I didn't realize how bad it was until I started college and ended up surrounded by them.

My hometown was fairly free of crime, but I knew to lock my door in the dorms. Other kids had lots of stuff stolen, complained about it, and didn't learn. I wonder if there's any way they could ever learn common sense. I could understand the ones who locked themselves out: there was always someone to bail them out, so they didn't learn. Having a bunch of expensive stuff stolen should teach a person something.

Unlike Kelly, I'm not so sure that the lack of common sense is due to lack of common experience. There is an active reprogramming of society, it seems. Common sense, in my experience, includes many things you can learn without the experience of others.

If I touch the stove and it burns me, I know not to touch it again. Our society has been rewarding this sort of behavior, instead. You can get money for spilling coffee on your lap. If your dietary habits are poor, sue fast food. You could argue that this comes from the inability to experience the people behind the corporations, but I think it's something far more sinister: we are being duped out of our common sense.

Warning labels are put on everything. Laws make us wear seatbelts and motorcycle helmets. We are promised services that the government will pay for, and many forget that government money is dipped from their own pockets. We are willfully ignoring the lessons we should learn because we wish to remain unaccountable. We are trying to remain children, putting others in charge of our lives.

I could be wrong, but it seems like we're actively squelching the common sense we should hold dear. If it seemed that people could at least learn the basic lessons, like not destroying their own belongings, not living beyond their means, or any of the other things I'd think you could realize through only the inherent consequences, I might be more convinced that it's not an active decline.

Ratner's Rant

I hate to link to this, but it's just so insane.

"[...]the Supreme Court voted by a one-vote margin to uphold an imaginary 'private' right to own handguns." Oh, are you a Constitutional expert? Shall not be infringed means something different than we've thought? Oh, no, I guess you just don't like people who choose not to be sheep.

"Now the Harrold Independent School District in Texas will allow its teachers to show up for first day class with books, pencils, rulers – and six shooters." First, I don't think they're limiting them to revolvers, like DC. Second, they are actually requiring guns be carried by those they put through training. After all, there's no point spending the time and money to train someone, only to have them decide not to be equipped.

She then tries to be incredibly snarky, talking about students wearing kevlar and becoming an "infantry unit." A defensive shooting is far from a war zone. A teacher prepared to defend the students and staff does not cause mayhem and destruction, but a safe learning environment. But there's no way a panicked crackpot will see it that way, so I may as well just leave it alone for now.

"State laws usually allow people to defend themselves with lethal force if they have a reasonable fear of bodily harm from an assailant. If a student makes a sudden move to reach for a calculator in math class, couldn't this be construed as reaching for a weapon?" Y'know, I think I see why you're so afraid of this: you would construe everything as a threat, so you assume others do, as well. Yes, state laws generally allow lethal force when there is a reasonable fear of bodily harm. A teacher is accustomed to seeing students pull out calculators and such, and would not be as jumpy as all that. Paranoia does not suit you, Ms. Ratner.

She then tries snarkiness again, telling a story of teachers using shootings as learning tools. What they should do, in reality, is use the fact that they are carrying to help teach gun safety. Too many kids, such as your children, Ms. Rat, are no longer learning gun safety at home. If children respect guns and know how to properly handle them, they likely won't become as paranoid as you, nor will they have as high a risk of accidentally shooting themselves or others if they find the forbidden fruit.

"In all seriousness, this is just a first step in the decivilizing of America." Actually, it's been said that "an armed society is a polite society." You'll find, if you look into our history, that we become a less civilized country as we impose more restrictions, not as we remove them. We were once an armed, civil country.

"If the argument is true that we've had guns in this society since before it's founding, it's just as true that the idea of teachers arming themselves in classrooms would have left Washington, Adams and Jefferson stunned in disbelief." Okay, so you wouldn't find what I was talking about in history. Our founders were accustomed to being around arms, as were their children. The only thing about this that would stun them is that it isn't regular practice in all schools.

"When Jefferson designed the University of Virginia, I don't recall his plans including gun lockers for professors." No, as David Codrea has mentioned, Jefferson would've been shocked at teachers locking up guns. They'll do no good in a locker.

"Our society is becoming more beastly and worse, with official sanction." If it's "beastly" to protect children, I must be a beast. If it's "beastly" to want to stop attackers from killing me or mine, I guess I'm a beast. In fact, we could use some more beasts, I guess.

"It's beginning to resemble one of 'those places' in the Middle East or Africa where people carry AK-47s and settle their marketplace disputes accordingly." Somebody's been watching too many movies. In most of "those places," there is constant war. The guns aren't for disputes, but for actual battle. Also, in many cases, they are illegal in the hands of those groups without political power.

"I suppose it's easier to quell student outbursts with a well-placed head shot from a .45 caliber than actually having to deal with the kid – counseling takes too long and costs too much." Again with the attempt at snark...

"And since Texas parents can already carry guns, the whole idea of the parent-teacher conference takes on a new meaning." They can't carry them in schools, and even if they could, your dire predictions are similar to those voiced when Florida started issuing CC permits. And it's just as insane to believe it'll happen now.

Also, your comparisons to the "Wild" West are way off-base. The West was far less wild than we now pretend. High-noon shootouts, every gun being carried by someone itching to use it...it just didn't happen that way. Sure, there were shootings, and they were generally outlaw-on-outlaw, rather than the murder of sheep in a crowded mall. Which time was really more civilized? I say it was the time people were armed. And I say we should protect ourselves, our families, and those children the state puts in our classrooms.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Annoyances, mostly.

Some random things I feel like ranting about (warning: may not be coherent):

If you want to complain about the service you're receiving in a store, an employee doesn't want to hear it. Sure, you may be complaining about someone else, but the employee will be apathetic about it, at best. If the employee likes his/her job, s/he will want to avoid badmouthing. If s/he doesn't like it, s/he doesn't care what you think of the place.

Women's footwear bugs me. Sure, the strapped heels may look good with that outfit, but a sensible pair of shoes could look just fine and not destroy your feet. Don't you want to avoid deliberate destruction of your own feet?

Yes, I appreciate the fact that you want to share the noise pollution you call music. I do not appreciate the fact that you ARE sharing it with me. Please, don't rattle my SUV and my person with the heavy bass that's pumped out by your ridiculous stereo. It can't be good for your hearing, car, or heart rhythms, nor is it good for my nerves.

If you've been put in charge of a group of people, please don't rock the boat just for the sake of exercising authority. People don't like to be screwed with just because you want to be sure you're in charge. If you think you have to make changes, either find actual ways to improve things or make minor changes people won't ignore or be tempted to willfully violate.

If you're going to cut me off, treat me like "the help," or otherwise cause me problems, you do not have the right to get pissed at me over it. If you cut me off, don't yell obscenities and flip me off. If you're going to berate me because you screwed up in your choice of purchase, ask yourself whose fault it is.

Wendy's commercials bother me. They are simply annoying. I never thought anyone could ruin the term "meatatarian," but they have.

Finally, quit telling me that you don't think I, as a civilian, don't need a particular gun. Don't act offended that one of the available options seems scary and don't tell me that you'd never own it as a result. I, like many gun-sellers, would rather see fewer restrictions, not more. Also, if you bothered to learn about some of the guns, you'd realize their utility in situations other than resisting tyranny.

Not that the tyranny-resistance aspect isn't reason enough.

Clubbing?

One would think I'd be well aware that I don't belong in the club scene. I don't like hip-hop, I can't dance, and I prefer talking to dry-humping as a communication medium. I don't like crowds, nor do I like my drinks to be overpriced.

Tonight, I started my night at a quiet little dive bar, as is my style. I karaoked, I had a beer and two or three Absolut screwdrivers. Then I got stupid. As one might expect, there was an attractive female involved, but that is more of a lead-in to my talk of clubs.

I get to the club and have to wait in line. Luckily, I remember talk of pat-downs and metal detectors, so I leave my knife in the car. I wait my turn, patiently get checked for weapons, and pay to get in. I'm not big on paying to go somewhere I'll be spending money, but I may have said I'd be there, and I don't go back on my word.

I spot the girl I'm meeting, and she's playing pool. In my sort of bars, the hustlers will let you win once or twice, then increase the bets. In this club, a guy is playing pool with her, and it looks like it could be a way to pass the time, except for the number of quarters he's put on the table. Apparently, he notices my suspicion or just realized I was not the sort who'd sit back and allow him to play his little game, so he tells me "friendly game--just friendly game." After his next shot, he realizes I'm not convinced and says "we're all friends--just a friendly game." Well, that's pretty much the easiest way to tell he's a hustler, since anyone else would be less worried about convincing me.

Turns out, near the end of the game, he decides to make a wager. The girl on the other side of it doesn't go for it, and she even has someone else make her final shots. Later, he tries to apologize, but she sees through that. After seeing him try for a few moments, I wait for him to be out of her earshot (in a loud club, that could actually be inches). I tell him that he'd be better off leaving her alone if he wants to hustle any more pool.

In the bars I go to, a hustler who tries to impose a bet on a near-finished game wouldn't be hustling long. And he certainly wouldn't be hanging around trying to hustle the same people twice.

Also, the bars I go to charge about as much for Absolut as this club did for McCormick, and they aren't so full you touch people everywhere you move.

The icing on the cake was when a bartender saw me come over to her little beer/jello shots portion of the bar with two ladies, sold me three jello shots she saw me divvy up, and she asked whether I was with anyone or just hanging out. I told her I thought I was with those two, but I wasn't so sure any more. She was nice about it and said that sometimes things are different in that sort of setting. I left shortly thereafter, since it was obviously not my scene, but their scene.

Whatever happened to music that had a melody rather than just a bass line? What happened to hustlers who make bets before a game starts? What happened to walking into a bar and not being searched? What happened to music just loud enough that it would drown out others' conversations, but not those at your table?

What went wrong when we decided bars should become clubs?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Leaders

As a society, we have been conditioned to follow orders, beg for permission, and ask for guidance in any situation. This is not limited to situations in which there is an obvious authority figure present. No, it's well-documented that people will follow orders from a cop, a scientist, or some other clear leader. What's less known is that many people will follow anyone to avoid leading.


My coworkers are an excellent example of this. Even when we have plenty of people working and business is slow, my coworkers ask permission to take breaks. In the absence of someone who might be authorized to grant such permission (not that it would be necessary, given that people are willing to cooperate to be sure they get their breaks), they'll ask permission of someone else. Since I don't beg permission, they beg me for permission.

The same people will ask me for guidance on what should be easy judgment calls or even things we've been given clear instructions on. They'll even page me while I'm at lunch for such questions.

Sure, it may be good for my ego, but it's bad for my stress levels. I take on enough based on my inability to beg for permission, constantly second-guess myself, or hold myself to only what those above me order. Taking charge isn't generally my thing, but if it's asked of me, I generally do it. I far prefer to be neither leader nor follower.

People seem to need someone to tell them what to do, even when they know. It's the reason fads come and go. Someone (often someone famous) does, says, or wears something (often something stupid). Others decide to follow suit, since that first person must know something they don't. Pretty soon, a lot of people are dressing, speaking, and acting the same way, until someone else (or the same person) starts something else. It's not because people see an inherent value in following, but that they are afraid not to. And that's why companies make sure their products are seen in the hands of stars. People are afraid of being the odd duck out.

It's also why people are afraid of guns--they aren't exposed to them. People conceal their carry pieces, also afraid of standing out, and the only time people see or hear about guns, it's generally related to bad things going down. This, among other things, is why I'm a big proponent of open carry. People follow. If people see others taking their safety into their own hands, not being scared of an object, they may just decide to follow suit. And personal responsibility doesn't go out of style.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Sentimentality

Well, my parents just sold my first car. It'd been sitting awhile, so it was moldy, didn't run that well, and had a dead battery, but it was still a little odd to see it go. A part of me wanted to keep it, but it wasn't about the car--hell, I am much happier with my current vehicle.

It was about the feeling of going as fast as the V-6 in that old Citation would take her. I never did know how fast that was, exactly, since the speedometer only went up to 85.

It was about yelling at drunk friends not to moon people or security cameras.

It was about being pulled over many times, but never ticketed. My next car garnered me a ticket pretty quickly.

It was about laying claim to a parking spot at my old high school. When a kid a year or two younger than me tried to take that spot, I gathered a few people to move his little Metro. Turned out it was unlocked, so it was a one man job. And it was, since others saw him coming and bolted. I, however, kept moving it, replying to his yelling with a brief response: "It was in my spot." (Yeah, I know, as a proponent of property rights, I probably shouldn't reminisce about screwing with someone's stuff, but it didn't hurt a thing.)

Most of all, it was about freedom. When my great-grandfather gave me that car, I was no longer tethered so strongly to my tiny little hometown. Sure, I'd had friends who could get me places, but I'm not the sort to ask, and I AM the sort who wants to take off when he wants to take off.

I hadn't driven the old Citation in a few years, but she was still the same car under the grime. She still liked to be revved, she still idled hot, she still had the same steering wheel cover, and a helmet decal from my football days still clung to her bumper--I don't think that decal will ever come off; it outlasted two or three bumper stickers before I finally decided I didn't need anything but that decal back there.

Monday, August 11, 2008

More attack ads

The anti-Rossi ads are at it again. This time, a bunch of "regular" people show up on screen talking about some of the things he's done.

"Why did he vote to freeze teacher's salaries?" Well, like many of us, he believes in performance, not longevity, as the best reason to increase wages. If we had performance-based salary increases, we wouldn't reward those who cling to mediocrity for so many years.

"Why did he vote against smaller class sizes?" It would've cost a lot to pull the maneuver. It wasn't a guarantee of increased learning by any means. It would've been throwing more money at the problem.

"He voted against women's contraceptives." No, he voted against forcing insurance companies to pay for them. Insurance companies should provide whatever coverage they promise when you sign up. If that does not include aiding you in having casual sex, you can see whether another company would like to offer such benefits.

"He voted against negotiating drug prices." Yeah, probably because the government does not do well in changing the laws of supply and demand (for proof, look up the results of price controls on gasoline).

The sad thing is that these ads probably work fairly well. People forget that the government's money comes from their pockets.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Iron Pig?

Groups such as the Hell's Angels and the Iron Pigs have a bit of a tendency to clash. When You put members of both groups in the same bar in Sturgis, things can go bad. In a recent case of this, an off-duty (read: vacationing) Seattle cop (member of the Iron Pigs) shot a Hell's angel.

He's been "detained" pending investigation of the incident. He's a bit outside his jurisdiction, so one wonders why he was even carrying a gun in a bar. Oh, wait, we don't wonder. He's an "Only One," subject to a different set of standards. After all, an off-duty cop having a beer is less intoxicated than you or I. Of course, several of his buddies will probably say he hadn't had a drop, anyway--he wasn't the only "Only One," nor even the only one from Seattle PD.

He and his buddies are on administrative reassignment and relieved of duty pending the investigation. This likely means they're getting paid to relax and wait for the conclusions of Seattle's crew of investigators. Sure, they might be a little anxious to get back to work; they do love their power jobs.

I figure there'll be little fuss over this. Just imagine the uproar if it had been the other way around.

To some customers

A few notes to some of the sorts of customers I end up having to deal with:

Please refrain from drawing your weapon in a crowded store. No, I don't care that you're offering me ample warning. If you want to see if it'll fit a holster, please bring it in unloaded and check it at the door.

If you don't know what gun you're looking for, vague generalities will not lead me to find it. Yeah, maybe some magazine ran some story on it awhile back, but I don't know what the hell you're talking about. Especially if you call a gun that's been out for several years new, don't know the brand, and aren't sure of the caliber.

Likewise, please don't get annoyed when I don't know exactly which gun you want to see if you ask to see that youth gun (we have them all in one section), that black one, that Glock (there are quite a few), that .45 (again, one section), or that left-handed gun (once more, one section). I'll try to grab the one you are vaguely gesturing toward, but it's not always easy.

If you ask me which gun I'd pick, keep in mind that I am not you. I do not have the same hand size, budget, taste, or needs as you. When I give my opinion, I do not mean that it is better for you, just that it would be my choice.

Don't use me as your only research tool. Yes, I'm am often aware of which models are available in which calibers, but the best choice is the manufacturer. They generally know what they make.

If I am not entirely familiar with gun A, don't get mad at me. I'm certain I could find a few guns you aren't familiar with. Let me do a little research and I can tell you more about gun A. But you probably don't want me to know as much as you.

If you have been patiently (or not) waiting your turn with a number, you WILL be helped in numerical order. Do not ask me to help you because I'm near you or "it'll be real quick." That guy with the number before yours wants help just as badly, and he grabbed his number first.

If you aren't happy with a price, don't buy it. Yeah, I know we match prices and I know you think that the used gun should be cheaper, but don't come in and just complain about the prices. I don't care. I didn't price them. I'm not going to give you a deal. That used gun may be nearly as expensive as a new one, but it's in like new condition, so what do you expect? And the guy who sold it to us wanted a decent deal, too.

Finally, I don't like being treated like "the help" or your best friend. I am doing my job, you are hoping to buy something and get good advice. Let's keep this businesslike.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Concealment

There's a lot of hype regarding the Ruger LCP and other tiny weapons designed for deep concealment. This is nothing new, of course: the pocket .25 was once an extremely popular choice for the same purpose. The .380 is a round that is better suited to defense than the .25, but it is still a concession.

Yeah, the LCPs and the Kel-Tecs fit into a shirt pocket without really showing, which makes them appeal to people who want a deep concealment pistol. They seem ideal to many of these folks, who often think that the smallest pistol they can get will be the best choice for a carry gun.

But why do you want a pistol this small? They're uncomfortable to even hold. Firing them must be even less comfortable. They're less accurate than slightly larger pistols, and most .380s are pretty finicky. Since you likely won't practice much with your pocket gun (due to the discomfort), that makes the accuracy issues even worse.

Some people say they just can't conceal a bigger pistol. It's not hard. Here are some quick tips to get you started:

1. Buy a gun you will shoot, then worry about concealment. You can conceal just about anything. I have a medium build, but I carry an XD45 with shorts, a T-shirt, and an inside-the-waistband holster and it conceals very well. I find it hard to believe most people couldn't conceal at least a smallish 9mm.

2. Know your body. If you hang over the sides of your jeans, you should probably get new jeans. If that's not the reason for it, then you should note that an IWB holster under that overhang is going to be very uncomfortable and visible. If that's the case, don't find a smaller gun to carry that way--find a new way to carry a gun you're comfortable with. Small-of-back, belt, or shoulder holster are all viable options depending on what you plan to wear.

3. Know your wardrobe. If you wear a business suit all the time, your options are different from those of someone who wears jeans and a T-shirt. Depending on the type of carry you find most comfortable, you may want to change your wardrobe. Don't forget, though, that you'll have to stick with the changed wardrobe. As such, if you choose jackets, you'll probably want to switch to an unbuttoned, untucked shirt for summer, since you really won't appreciate a jacket.

4. Buy a decent holster. I don't know how many people have told me that they were getting a smaller gun because their current one wasn't concealing well, only to admit that they had about a $5 holster. Personally, I like Crossbreed for IWB, but you may have a different opinion. A cheapo Uncle Mike's or some such is great for deciding on cant angles, but you'll need to invest a little bit more to get a quality holster. You need one that won't move around too much, holds the pistol close to the body, and keeps it right where you want it. A great way to find holster is gun shows--you can get great deals on holsters others didn't care for, and you can actually handle them, unlike the online deals.

5. There are alternatives. If you just can't seem to get your gun to conceal comfortably, there are options that may conceal well and be comfortable. Purses, backpacks, fannypacks, vests, and the Utili-Kilt are all available with holster options because of people for whom traditional carry options aren't going to work that well. Smart Carry markets an inside-the-pants holster that keeps the gun in front, minimizing grip protrusion. If you don't find a solution right away, ask around. Somebody's bound to have had a similar problem.

If you really can't hide your gun, one has to wonder what the problem is. Maybe the choice of a 7.5" .500 S&W wasn't the best call. Maybe that Desert Eagle was a poor decision. Maybe you should let go of the notion that you have to find an option for pocket carry of a 5" 1911. Whatever the case, try to figure out the root of the problem. If you do determine that you need a smaller gun, don't go to the smallest you can find--get something you'll actually practice with, figure out how to conceal it, and be happy with your choice.