Friday, June 27, 2008

Having done a little reading...

Well, I actually read the Heller opinion. I must say that Scalia has written one of the most entertaining and interesting decisions I've seen. Very few Justices would insult the dissenters quite as directly and strongly as he has. He derides their faulty conclusions with such choice phrases as "bizarre" and "worthy of a mad hatter" (and uses a good lead-up for that one, saying that "A purposive qualifying phrase that contradicts the word or phrase it modifies is unknown this side of the looking glass").

One of my favorite parts reads:
Worse still, the phrase “keep and bear Arms” would be incoherent. The word “Arms” would have two different meanings at once: “weapons” (as the object of “keep”) and (as the object of “bear”) one-half of an idiom. It would be rather like saying “He filled and kicked the bucket” to mean “He filled the bucket and died.” Grotesque.
I also enjoyed the citations of Joseph Story, one of my favorite Justices, and the lengthy discussion of the grammatical side of the Second Amendment. Yes, that probably makes me a history nerd and grammar nerd, but I do enjoy these things.

I must admit, though, I was disappointed by the bit on the Miller case. Scalia mentions that the NFA ban on machineguns would be unconstitutional under a reading of that decision, were it not for the "common use" portion, implying that only those weapons good for personal protection and home defense would be acceptable. I have to say that this reading leaves a lot to be desired, since the common military weaponry is outlawed, and therefore impossible to have in common use, no matter its utility. There was a time when privately held weapons were generally superior technologically to military weapons, but we have legislated common use to the point of keeping the citizenry from having the means to defend against oppression from within.

Scalia also makes sure to mention that this should not "cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms." I would have much rather had him remain silent on this, since there is no reason for comment. There were, to my knowledge, no arguments on these restrictions, so he shouldn't be affirming them, even if they were all just (which, mind you, is not my opinion of them).

In total, the decision is mediocre--banning an entire class of weapons commonly used for defense is unconstitutional and requiring legal weapons to be rendered inoperable is similarly unconstitutional. While it's a fun read, the scope of the decision is limited and it affirms some restrictions (full-auto, commercial sale, etc.) that should have been struck down or left alone (the latter would, of course, be more likely, considering the arguments put forth in the case).

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Heller decision

Friends and customers have mentioned the landmark Heller decision in a congratulatory way, knowing that I'm big on gun rights. It's a landmark decision, of course, and the correct decision.

Forgive me, though, if I am a bit disappointed by the fact that fundamental rights can even be brought into question. Forgive me for being disappointed in this country for holding its collective breath waiting for the Court to decide whether our rights are, indeed, inalienable. I may seem a little overly dramatic, but what happened to a government afraid to trample its people?

Sure, they made the right decision, but what if they hadn't? Cities all over the US might be trying to disarm their citizens, and people in other cities would be loathe to intervene until it was their guns on the line. Or maybe I'm wrong, and people would've drawn the line at the Court's decision.

For now, we've been handed the proper decision, but I have to wonder whether they'll decide that cities can restrict or deny other rights next time. Maybe the next time, we'll get a city that requires citizens to practice a certain religion or that owns and controls the only newspaper. Or maybe I'm a little paranoid. I hope that's all it is.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ear protection

I went out to the pit to shoot today, and when I arrived, I was the only one. After a little while, a couple young guys showed up with some ARs, AKs, and other similar guns, as well as a Sig 9mm and a Beretta 92. They didn't set up any targets, which was fine, since there's always junk to shoot at the pit.

I had only taken my XD45, my 10/22, and a newly acquired Ruger Super Blackhawk .44. That's not really the sort of arsenal that impresses that sort of guys, generally. These guys, though, really noticed the .44, and they wanted to try it. I let them, and didn't realize until they were shooting that they had absolutely no ear protection.

Now, it's better to have ear protection for 7.62, .223, and other rifle rounds, but it's not deafening if you forget. A .44 magnum revolver, on the other hand, is pretty darned loud. After I explained exactly what I meant by single-action, they tried firing. I think the noise made them jump and think the recoil was worse than it really was. With the Hogue grips on it, it's really a smooth shooter.

Luckily, I carry a box of earplugs, so I gave them some. I think they learned the value of adequate protection, but I can't be sure. Some people won't learn their lesson.

I still haven't read enough...

"The Big Read reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they've printed."
1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE.
4) Reprint this list in your own blog so we can try and track down these people who've read only 6 and force books upon them

1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
3. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
5. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
6. Ulysses by James Joyce (Y'know, I oughtta read this one's been awhile)
7. Beloved by Toni Morrison
8. The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
9. 1984 by George Orwell
10. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
11. Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov
12. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
13. Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
14. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
15. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
16. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
17. Animal Farm by George Orwell
18. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
19. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
20. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
21. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
22. Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne
23. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
24. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
25. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
26. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
27. Native Son by Richard Wright
28. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
29. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
30. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
31. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
32. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
33. The Call of the Wild by Jack London
34. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
35. Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
36. Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin
37. The World According to Garp by John Irving
38. All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren
39. A Room with a View by E.M. Forster
40. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
41. Schindler's List by Thomas Keneally
42. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
43. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
44. Finnegans Wake by James Joyce
45. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
46. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
47. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
48. Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence
49. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
50. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
51. My Antonia by Willa Cather
52. Howards End by E.M. Forster
53. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
54. Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger
55. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
56. Jazz by Toni Morrison
57. Sophie's Choice by William Styron
58. Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner
59. A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
60. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
61. A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O'Connor
62. Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
63. Orlando by Virginia Woolf
64. Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence
65. Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe
66. Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
67. A Separate Peace by John Knowles
68. Light in August by William Faulkner
69. The Wings of the Dove by Henry James
70. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
71. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
72. A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (Over and over...)
73. Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs
74. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
75. Women in Love by D.H. Lawrence
76. Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe
77. In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway
78. The Autobiography of Alice B. Tokias by Gertrude Stein
79. The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
80. The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
81. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
82. White Noise by Don DeLillo
83. O Pioneers! by Willa Cather
84. Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
85. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
86. Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad
87. The Bostonians by Henry James
88. An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
89. Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather (though Fr. John was always fun, this was the worst thing he ever forced upon a class.)
90. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (It's been far too long)
91. This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
92. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (I've only read it a couple times.)
93. The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles
94. Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis
95. Kim by Rudyard Kipling
96. The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald
97. Rabbit, Run by John Updike
98. Where Angels Fear to Tread by E.M. Forster
99. Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
100. Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Under New Management...

They shuffled management at work recently, which brought a new manager to my department. At the same time, we're interviewing for a "lead" position, which he is conducting the interviews for. While I held my tongue in the interview, I know we'll butt heads. I dislike hypocrisy and corporate shills.

He told me that we would no longer have schedules posted in the department, since company policy states that the schedules are to be posted only near the break room. I wanted to ask him to justify keeping us in the dark, but I knew the answer: company policy. He's also big on making sure we stick to our assigned schedule. All well and good, except that we end up having to come in early and stay late in order to keep things flowing correctly. This is against company policy, especially if we get overtime. And, of course, some of the interview questions were things like my future in the company. I said I didn't have any interest in moving up to corporate and would rather stay in the store, which is true, since I don't plan on staying with the company long enough to go up the corporate ladder.

He's also a bit of a hypocrite. He said he didn't want anyone shopping for used guns out of the vault (a lot of our employees like to catch deals before they hit the floor). If it weren't for the fact that he was one of the first to grab one back there (before it was even processed), I might respect that.

I'll butt heads with him because I'm all for doing things that'll work for the store I'm at, not what somebody who sits in a desk in Nebraska might say. If there's no justification for a rule, why follow it? I just hope I'm not there long enough to really run into issues.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Another one of those days...

Some of the random people who just aren't bright astound me:

A girl walked up to the counter and said, "I think your number-thing is broken" (number-thing being our system for helping customers in order). I raised an eyebrow and asked why she thought this. "Well, it's been on 5 for a long time now." I paused to take a dramatic look down the counter. "Well, I've been helping number five with these scopes and rifles for a bit. As soon as one of the two employees can help another person, we'll help number 6." "Well, will I have to wait for you to call number 16, then." *Pause* "Yeah. You'll have to wait for your number to be called."

Another one was a guy who came in and thought he'd brought his PCS orders (gotta prove Washington residency to get a handgun). He had forgotten them, but figured his authorization to drive military vehicles on post would suffice. It, of course, would not. I offered a computer to allow him to retrieve his records, which would have all the info we needed (and a helluva lot more). After repeated attempts to get it to work, he finally reset his password. Once logged in, he couldn't find the right link. Finally, he found it. He pulled up his records and was shocked to find that he was in Air Recon--he thought he was in Cav!! Turns out, as a UAV mechanic, he'd somehow missed the whole possibility he might be in an aerial reconnaissance unit (Cav was technically correct as well, but he was more specifically assigned to Air Recon).

Then, of course, are the of them threatened to quit because he and one other guy were closing, and that just wasn't going to be enough help. Then again, this was far more reasonable than the time he was quitting over the NICS check delaying him. Being someone who calls them in AND someone who regularly gets delayed, you'd think he'd know better than to blame the store, but he stormed out. He came back about an hour later and still had his job, so I guess he won that round.