Wednesday, December 7, 2011

70 Years ago, the Japanese woke a sleeping giant...

USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
Much has been written about the sneak attack 70 years ago, and our subsequent involvement in the conflict that had already enmeshed Europe and Asia. There isn't much that I can add, except to say that it's a stark reminder that we need to remain eternally vigilant, and prepared.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday: What are you fighting for?

Today, are you fighting for your rights, or for the right gift for yourself or others?
Are you braving the chemical sprays of a Government that won't cede power, or those of a demented consumer who grew tired of battling crowds while she tried to shop?
Are you putting gasoline in a bottle, or gas in your car so you can hit every store on your list, and a few that aren't?

I'm sure this Black Friday will be a frustrating experience for most Americans, but remember that at the end of the day, you'll have just about everything you started with this morning - your car, your home, your family, your rights.  Perhaps a bit less cash and gasoline, but the important things will still be there.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving, but today might not be a bad day to be thankful for what you have, and to think, even for just a second, about what others do not have, and are putting their lives in peril to obtain.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

He who shall not be named...

  I'm not invoking the Cthulu mythos here.  I'm referring to a rather unpleasant fellow who has gone on record with public YouTube postings declaring his utter contempt for society.  He brags about dressing up in a manner that implies he has served in the military, and describes how he soaks up whatever "freebies" veterans are given at restaurants, by passersby, etc and how easily we are all apparently fooled by his act.
  He's dumping not just on the men and women of our Armed Forces that have actually served, but everyone who goes out of their way to recognize their service with an extra bit of kindness.
  Sadly, this person is probably accomplishing a secondary goal - that of grabbing a LOT of attention.  People like him are looking for that more than anything.
  There are a lot of message boards where active and former servicemembers confer, and in these fora, this  person is receiving a tremendous amount of hate, bile, and veiled threats to harm him physically.  His home address and a phone number have been posted, in case anyone wants to give him a piece of their mind.
  It's actually rather unfortunate in a way.  The language being used to describe him sound like third-grade taunts.  The talk of punching him out sounds like stuff I heard at the lunch table in high school.  Is it me or are people letting themselves be pulled down to his level?  Don't you think that if you call his house and curse him out, he'll hang up, but experience a warm and fuzzy at the acknowledgement of his effect on you?  Or that if you strike him, he'll get up, grimacing and pain but again, smiling on the inside that *someone has listened to him*?
  Every time someone talks about him, how he makes them feel and what they'd like to do about it, gives him more and more power.
  I think the wisest course of action is to tune him out.  Stop watching his videos, and posting the links.  Don't call, write or talk to him in person.  What I think this person fears more than anything is becoming a nonentity.  And if we take the high road here and simply move on to other, more positive topics, he'll dry up and blow away.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fiddling while Reno burns...

I was astonished to catch a headline about wildfires outside of Reno, NV.  This picture probably best sums up the peril that area is in.  Luckily my personal experiences with wildfires are close to nil.  A bit over ten years ago, Orange and Sullivan counties in New York State were aflame with smoke that I could smell over 50 miles away.  And about six years before that, I took a late night drive out of Pasadena, and as the greater LA area sprawl receded, I saw the cherry red hellish glow atop the San Gabriel Mountains.

I am quite taken with the state of Nevada, especially points north of Las Vegas.  I found Reno to be homey and charming, and the area around it to be filled with the quiet beauty of the high desert.

My headline isn't meant to impugn anyone's firefighting efforts, only my helpless inability to help them put out the flames.  The folks out there battling these blazes are up against terrain that's rough and tinder-dry year round, with winds kicking up to speeds of 30 miles per hour and higher.

God, watch over these brave people and the residents they are working so hard to protect.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Election Reflection

 Just finished voting... small slate of candidates, no initiatives.  Nothing exciting, and very, very few voters at the polling station.
 When a candidate says the following, this is what they really mean:

 "I care about you/the little guy/the taxpayer."  - even if they do care, all that "caring" really means is allocating forcibly redistributed money.  There's really no personal sacrifice on their part.

 "I want to get things done." - even if they do want to be productive while in office, "getting things done" means, for the most part, passing new laws or harshening existing ones.

 "I want to see justice done." - even if they care about punishing the guilty, this really means passing feel-good laws, harshening existing sentencing guidelines, and stepping up enforcement of petty offenses.  "Law and order" candidates typically boost their record by lowering the bar of what's considered criminality and snagging these increasingly low-hanging fruit.

 What would a truly effective candidate do, once reaching the office they're seeking?

 Show caring not by implementing new programs, but by tossing out programs that don't work, and making existing ones deliver the same results with less money spent.
  "Getting things done" should mean a focus on personally intervening on behalf of taxpayers caught up in bureaucracy.  Is a merchant's customers the seeming target of aggressive parking tickets?  Is a merchant in their district trying to expand their facility but can't seem to hurdle the red tape?  Is a taxpayer in arrears trying to make an honest effort at catching up, but the collectors keep calling and also tacking on new penalties?  These are all things most officeholders have the power to help with, and should.
  "Seeing justice done" should mean *eliminating* outdated laws, and seeing to it that civil fines and criminal penalties actually match the offense.  It also means not targeting decent people who accidentally violate some law, like forgetting to remove their CCW gun before entering a school zone, but instead making police work harder at catching violent offenders.  It also means not waiting until a pardon request makes its way to their desk, but actively looking for cases in which people were royally screwed by the "justice" system and doing their best to make it right.

  Just some humble suggestions, but hey, who am I, right???

Just vote, dammit

  Unfortunately, during "interstitial" elections, ie the ones that don't happen every four years voter turnout tends to be rather low.
  It's easy to dismiss these "petty" mostly local elections, but by voting (or not voting) you have more power than you think.
  Just about every man sitting in the White House got there by leveraging a career in public service that began humbly - alderman, state legislator, governor.
  By pulling that lever, filling out that OCR card, or punching that chad, you have the opportunity to keep another Obama from ascending to our nation's highest office - or help him along, if that's in accordance with your political beliefs.
  Whatever you do, go out there today and exercise your right to vote.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Oooohhhh Canaduh....

Canadian reporter discusses the imminent demise of Canada's gun registry.

The antigun bias of this piece is evident within a second of clicking on This story

I mean, you have a picture of Rutger Hauer, star of the low budget grinder Hobo With a Shotgun, with an expression of total insanity on his mug, something Mr. Hauer has perfected over the course of his decades-long film career.  I guess that to the article's author, Stephen LaRose, every gun owner has an inner Rutger Hauer, waiting to come out at the slightest (or perhaps even no) provocation.

But I digress.

Mr. LaRose tries to justify gun registration by claiming it has reduced crime, and that it has been in place since the Second World War, back when according to him, it prevented Nazi sympathizers from formenting an insurrection. (Ah yes, the ol' "it's been around for decades, therefore it's a good thing" bromide)
The stats on gun control actually seems to point to increased violent crime when weapons are denied to everyday citizens.  And as for the WWII angle, does this Mr. LaRose really think that registering guns would prevent such a thing?  That these "insurrectionists" wouldn't simply go through the bureaucratic process and then use their lawfully acquired weapons?  Or that they wouldn't somehow find a way to acquire them by smuggling or some other method?  Or that they wouldn't simply ambush some mounties, and take their service weapons?  If someone has a cause they believe in strongly enough, or are being paid well enough to participate in, they'll try to accomplish their mission by any means available.  And why isn't Mr. LaRose appalled at the idea of anyone's rights being diminished by legistlative fiat, (mis)informed by war-era paranoia?

The author also describes his participation as an adult in his son's Beaver Troop activities, and how he apparently needed to clear his name before doing so, because his name coincided with that of a registered sex offender.  The process of doing that supposedly took longer than it takes to legally purchase a firearm in Canada.

He claims some sort of irony in that "deadly firearms" are being de-controlled, while his participation in a lawful, innocent activity is being hampered.

He's missing the very point he's making - that government is perfectly capable of interfering terribly with all of the activities we just about take for granted.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

You're on notice...

Another asshole abusing our tort system.

Any service person with grey matter in their skull instead of rocks will steer clear of this guy.  Who's to say he won't sue them years later for some imaginary or exaggerated failure to perform?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

For Halloween....

Bad Serendipity: Your lab assistant drops the correct brain on the floor, and brings you the wrong one.

Good Serendipity: Your lab assistant drops sodium onto the severed arm of an undead seamonster, therefore finding out how to destroy them.

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Happy f******** UN Day

 Happy birthday to the well-intentioned, but corrupt and ineffectual supranational body, whose annual Lower East Side gabfests accomplish nothing while causing commerce-stopping, pedestrian imperiling gridlock in New York City.
And in the field, the UN "Blue Helmet Force" at best stands idly by while thuggish Third World strongmen do their dirty work, while at their worst, actively engage in it.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Lions and Tigers and Bears... oh shit! Bang!

Idiotic animal worshippers (as opposed to animal lovers, a big difference) are upset at the manner in which an exotic animal "outbreak" in Ohio was dealt with, which was properly, by shooting them.
The person who unleashed this plague was within the law by having his own zoological park, but then his private business became a public menace when he uncaged them all and corrected his lead deficiency with a 158 grain self-administered dosage, thereby preventing him from being held to account in this life.
If you have the resources to have your own live animal collection - fine.  But to off yourself, and turn 'em loose on the rest of us is plain wrong.  Anyone that does this has created a problem that puts the public at risk and requires publicly funded manpower and resources to deal with.
At least on paper, I'm willing to bet that a "humane capture" operation would have cost more taxpayer dollars, as well as having taken longer.  Remember, every hour these beasts are free to roam is more time for them to kill an innocent person, devour a treasured pet, or cause a serious road accident.  
I like the way Ohio dealt with this problem, one they didn't ask for in any way.  The only way it could have been done better and more quickly would be if a some citizen volunteer hunters had been deputized, and allowed to keep what they've taken down as a trophy.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

No Gun Ownership in New Jersey (Unless your last name is "Soprano")

   NJ2AS has put this together:

  Quite the well articulated plea to roll back some of New Jersey's Draconian firearm restrictions
  and the shockingly arbitrary manner in which they are enforced.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Does 1% + 99% always add up to 100% ??

Interesting site:

I think it's interesting that these people are giving "testimonials" about their empathy for the "99%."

They're priviliged people that at least acknowledge how fortunate they've been.  Most seem/claim to have worked for what they have, some have simply lucked into it, ie inheritance.

But why now?  Did these protests suddenly make them feel guilty about what they have, and what others don't?  When they bought a latte at Starbucks, did they always leave a decent tip, if any?  And are they now dropping a dollar in the tip cup, instead of the leftover 11 cents as so many well-off patrons do all the time?

I'm not railing against these "empathetic 1 percenters." But here is my issue with them, other than the epiphanic nature of what they're saying.  Wealth is redistributed all the time.  It's done purely voluntarily  (charitable donations, gratuities, purchases of goods) semi-voluntarily ("My business is growing, and I can staff up to accomodate the growth, or not hire and risk flat revenue growth) or involuntarily (the taxman cometh).

The proportions of these types of redistribution are really out of whack, and some sort of consensus needs to be reached about where to set them.

What bothers me is how many of these "empathetic 1 percenters" are saying "tax me more."  Wrong medicine for a serious problem.

The more governments collect, the more they spend.  It's not as if tax hikes or new taxes are "lockboxed" away and allocated specifically toward deficit or debt reduction.

This is a common liberal confusion: mixing up "the economy" with "the national budget."

Look, I'm going to break with a lot of fellow conservatives here and just say it: the private sector went a little too far with downsizing and overall job elimination.  They fired people even when their balance sheets were strong, and rewarded the c-suite with ever-higher bonuses and salaries.  They have every legal right to do that, but it does long term damage to the economy in the aggregate.

That said, if these "empathetic 1 percenters" really want to be part of the solution I suggest the following: If you play golf with someone who's in a position to hire people, try to nudge them into calling back some laid off workers.  If you own a business, and are on the fence about hiring someone, just go ahead and do it.  If you are simply well-off, give that barista a dollar or more.  Tip that deliveryman 5.00 intead of 1.00 or 3.00.

And if you really don't think you're taxed enough, then by all means, write a check to the general fund of your state, town or city,or even a "gift to reduce the public debt."  But remember that doing so will do very, very little to ameliorate the economic or fiscal mess we're in, and in fact may even "encourage the bastards."

You don't have to sleep in a tent in Zucotti Park to make a difference... just write a check... to someone.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

God Bless Kentucky!

Today is Day 1 of the October antipode of the Knob Creek Machinegunshoot

It takes place right outside of Louisville, and the forecast: rain today, windy tomorrow, Sunshine for the weekend.
Chances for a hail of lead: 100% with occasional streaks of tracers, punctuated by balls of flame and other miscellaneous detonations.

For a gun person, it's an experience beyond compare.   Just watching the firing line erupt, and watching the targets downrange take a pounding is an inspiring sight.  As are the thousands of folks milling around, all of whom share this glorious passion of ours.

Not to mention the opportunity to "rent" and fire all sort of interesting full-auto weapons.  Aks, M-16s and WWII guns - both Allied and Axis are usually available - and a whole lot more.

My youtube videos are at: - all of them are cool, two of them I shot at the Knob Creek shoot.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

OK, I'M TRM over this one

Didn't realize that Governor Brown also signed a bill creating a registry for all long guns!  Arrrrgh!
Governor Brown, do you know how many educated, productive people make moving decisions (both leaving and arriving) because of how a state treats its gun-owning residents and visitors?

Clearly, you are taking advice from the wrong people, and not listening to your citizens.

Shame on you... you think you are protecting California, but in fact you are doing the exact opposite.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Only outlaws openly carry guns, now?

Governor Jerry Brown, with a stroke of his pen has solved a problem that never existed.  Open carry in   California is now unlawful.  It was in fact rather limited anyway - while it didn't require an existing concealed carry permit, it was only lawful if it the firearm was unloaded.  There was nothing preventing an OCer from keeping ammunition close at hand, but having it inside the weapon was a no-no.

Hopefully the Second Amendment Foundation will go after this one vigorously, since California is notoriously arbitrary with issuance of concealed carry permits.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Questions, Questions...

Sayeth this writer with the IndyStar: you should ask your children's playmate's parents if they have firearms in their home.

Ah yes, pulling out the old bromide that having a gun = automatic endangerment of self and innocents nearby.

It's only an appropriate question if there's an invitation in the air to go on a multi-family outing to go shooting or hunting.

Keeping children away from firearms without explaning what they are and what they do is a recipe for disaster.  They'll simply harbor an insatiable curiosity and try really hard to unlock a cabinet, safe or gun case.
Youngsters should be taught early on that handling firearms in the absence of an adult is a no-no, and how to render a weapon safe.  And then once they are physically and intellectually capable, should be taught how to handle and shoot a gun.

I have a challenge for the author of this commentary:

If your children go to a neighbor's house to go swimming,  do you ask if there is a responsible adult right at pooside?  Do they know basic rescue swimming, CPR and/or first aid?

Or if they are going on an ATV excursion, will helmets be worn, speeding kept to a minimum and steep gradients scrupulously avoided?

Drownings and ATV accidents tragically claim more young lives than firearms do, but for some reason no one seems to give it much thought when their children partake in those activities.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

TRM = "Torso Rippin' Mad"

Stuff like this makes me want to rip my torso open... From here on in, anything that makes me sufficiently angry will get a "TRM" label.  My responses are in blue.

How Many Second Amendment Cases Will the NRA Lose?

Hopefully not too many more.
For the NRA, it was not supposed to be this way. After the Supreme Court ruled in District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment granted a limited right to have a gun in the home, the NRA bragged that it was just the "opening salvo" in a legal war to use the courts to dismantle the nation's gun laws. Yet three years, 400 legal challenges, and "millions of dollars in [NRA] legal bills" later, all the gun lobby has had to show for its efforts is a growing body of case law affirming the right of the people to have strong gun laws short of a total handgun ban. Just last week, the same Texas judge who was previously overruled for ruling that domestic abusers have a right to own guns threw out the NRA's lawsuit claiming that teens have a right to buy semi-automatic handguns. It's not an unreasonable thought that "teens" (18-21 year olds) can purchase a handgun.  They can shoot them and carry them openly in a large number of states.  Under 21 year olds also routinely carry and handle them (and other, far more powerful weapons) in the military.   Never before have so many courts so cogently affirmed the constitutionality of so many strong gun laws in such a short span of time. But the biggest case was yet to come. After the Heller ruling, Washington, D.C. enacted some of the strongest gun laws in the nation, banning semi-automatic assault weapons and assault clips and requiring mandatory handgun registration. You mean, the most ridiculous set of hoops to jump through in order to enjoy a right that the Supreme Court had just gotten through affirming? (Other than Chicago's hoops which are far more ridiculous) There are no "semi automatic assault weapons" nor are there "assault clips."  There are *magazines* of varying capacities, none of which constitute a threat of any sort.  So the NRA teamed up with Dick Heller himself to file the broadest legal challenge yet , arguing that Mr. Heller had a right not just to a handgun in his home, but also to amass an arsenal of AK-47s and high-capacity assault clips in the nation's capital and to hide his guns from registration laws that help police solve crimes.  Not having to register firearms isn't the same thing as "hiding" them.  Even in New York State, my longarms don't need to be "registered."  Does that mean I'm hiding them?  How about the 45+ states that don't require any sort of firearm registration whatsoever?  If registration was such an amazing, indispensible crime fighting tool, why would so many states deprive themselves of it?  Why is Vermont such a safe state to live in, despite not requiring registration or any sort of permit to carry, whether openly or concealed?  How about this... we start registering every device capable of recording and disseminating any sort of thought or information.  After all, an iPhone can Tweet out a Happy Birthday message or assemble a seditious flash mob.  Good or evil, right?  And we'll start by registering YOUR communication tools. Even better, the lawsuit would be heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the same court that originally struck down the D.C. handgun ban. Yet, in what the Wall Street Journal called "the latest in a string of judicial setbacks for gun-rights activists," the D.C. Circuit this week rejected Mr. Heller's challenge and failed to strike down any of Washington, D.C.'s strong gun laws. Instead, it ruled that even the District's toughest-in-the-nation gun laws simply "do not affect the core right protected by the Second Amendment" to have a gun in the home. Citing and heavily relying on evidence submitted by the Brady Center about the dangers of assault weapons and the effectiveness of strong gun laws, Reagan-appointee Judge Douglas Ginsburg wrote for the majority and upheld D.C.'s assault weapon and assault clip ban . Again, "assault weapon" and "assault clip" are synthetic terms.  He noted that the ban barred "civilian copies of military weapons" that "pose a danger to innocent people and particularly to police officers," and that the ban does not "substantially affect [anyone's] ability to defend themselves." Barring some weird sort of self-animating metallurgy, military pattern guns aren't any more or less likely than a "friendly" looking bolt-action hunting rifle to harm or kill innocents.  And while the NRA has claimed that handgun registration amounts to an unconstitutional atrocity on par with the Nazi Kristallnacht rampage or the genocides in Darfur and Rwanda, Judge Ginsburg held that "the basic requirement to register a handgun is longstanding in American law," has been "accepted for a century in diverse states and cities," and is so "self-evidently de minimis" that such laws "cannot reasonably be considered onerous."  Not an atrocity, but a travesty.  Comparing it to genocide is a bit extreme, but registration often leads to confiscation, and confiscation often leads to a defenseless civlian populace.  The majority also took the unusual step of issuing a lengthy "appendix" lambasting Judge Brett Kavanaugh's flawed dissent that would have allowed AK-47 arsenals in the nation's capital. The majority rips Judge Kavanaugh's suggestion that gun laws must be struck down even if they serve a "compelling government interest in preventing death and crime. " It's not about "allowing AK-47s in the nation's capitol."  It's about people exercising their freedom of choice to own the firearms that suit their needs, and not becoming felons on paper because of those choices.  Rather, the majority correctly points out that it is the job of the people through their elected officials, not activist courts, "to determine in the first instance whether banning semi-automatic rifles in particular would promote important law-enforcement objectives." Then why are you celebrating these defeats?  They're only "activists" when they uphold laws you disagree with.  Lastly, while Judge Ginsburg concluded that several of Washington, D.C.'s laws were "novel," he refused to strike down any of those as well. Instead, he gave the District of Columbia the opportunity "to develop a more thorough factual record" at which point the court must "accord substantial deference" to the District's evidence. So far, such deference has resulted in challenged laws being upheld. The NRA's dreams that District of Columbia v. Heller would result in a free-for-all of gun-toting teens and AK-47 arsenals has so far been soundly rejected.  I don't think that the NRA had a truck full of pistols and AKs ready to roll into DC and hand them out like candy.  Again, it's about recognizing that 18 year olds have the right to own handguns just like they can purchase rifles.  The NRA and other 2A rights groups DO NOT want criminals to have firearms, don't make it sound as if they do.   Instead, the NRA's litigation has led to a host of well-reasoned decisions  Incorrect decisions that are marginally well reasoned and on top of that spit on Heller, McDonald and the Second Amendment itself.  from Republican-appointed judges upholding strong gun laws. While the NRA recently complained in an e-mail to its members that it is facing "a series of Second Amendment disasters," who knew they'd be in cases handpicked and funded by the NRA itself? I had no idea, either.  But we'll keep fighting the good fight.  When a city or state says, "OK, our residents can own handguns, but doing so requires taking substantial time off from work to navigate our bureaucracy, filling out a lot of paperwork, and paying substantial fees" that amounts to complying with the change in law, but only by the letter of it, not the spirit.  Excessive gun laws also turn the otherwise law abiding into criminals, too.  When you give people a burdensome chain of processes to follow, you increase the chances of innocent mistakes, for which they'll face some sort of criminal penalty.  Wouldn't you rather law enforcement focus on arresting street thugs, rather than people who simply want to own a firearm and use it for target shooting and self defense???

Friday, October 7, 2011

Crazy New Yorkers...

I don't want to step into whether Barbara Sheehan shot and killed her husband out of anger over alleged infidelities, or to end years of abuse.

However, the legal system abused her by acquitting her of murder, but convicting her of "illegal weapon possession."  Welcome to New York folks, where you can use a handgun only if you meet a lot of narrowly defined criteria and bow at the alter of the pistol permit bureaucracy.  No exceptions seem to be allowable for exigencies of any sort.

Damn you all to hell.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

RIP, Steve Jobs

  I'm not a starry-eyed Apple fan, but I've always loved Apple's products.  An Apple IIe got me through dozens of essays and term papers during my middle school, high school, and half of my college years.
 I edited my first Knob Creek YouTube video on an iMac.
 The iPod Touch I bought last year has an amazing crisp screen that's perfectly adequate for TV show and movie watching on long plane flights.  It is easier to take out, use and stow than any of my laptops, with far better battery life.
 Apple has amazing momentum right now.  All the company has to do now is not screw up - or does it?
 It's very likely that Mr. Jobs did some sort of "brain dumping" with Tim Cook, outlining some of his ideas for future products.  But once those run out, Apple could easily fall into a sort of "maintenance mode," releasing increasingly refined versions of existing products.
 It's glib and easy to talk about Jobs as a "visionary" but in this case it's very true.  The man had an incredible, intuitive grasp of what needed to come next, but just as importantly, what form it should take.  He sensed a "need" for a portable digital music playback device, and we got the iPod, rather than the far clunkier products Archos, Creative Labs and Microsoft released.
  People like him are such a rarity - those that with such an apparent economy of thought and word and deed add so much value to the world.  When they're gone, we feel it, and we cast about, asking ourselves who else is out there radiating such light.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Camera prep advice; documenting a protest

Pretty decent article, however someone needs to add:

1. Prepare yourself to be accused of "wiretapping" when filming any police activity.

2. Prepare yourself to be clubbed, beaten or gassed if you're anywhere near the protest area - when they're stoked on adrenaline, police don't seem to make too many fine judgements about who's a troublemaker, who's a peaceful protestor, and those who simply got in the way through bad luck.

3. Prepare yourself to be targeted for merely pointing a camera at the activity.

4. Dress in business attire or in some other neutral way that sets you apart visually from the protestors - this may seem to contravene point#2, but it can't hurt.

5. Have several escape routes mapped out in case things turn ugly.

Regardless of who is protesting and why, no one deserves to be beaten, tazed or gassed if they aren't themselves committing any violent acts.  Unwary passersby who unintentionally blunder through the protest area have the right to repudiate charges of noncompliance and intiate claims of excessive force.  People have the right to document any activity, lawful or unlawful, occurring on a public street, without fear of arrest or reprisal from private parties or publicly funded law enforcement.  End of story... we live in a free country, not a dictatorship.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Oh crap, not again...

I hate to give strategic advice to a political party whose point of view I largely oppose, but here it is: Dems, stay the hell away from our guns!  You are losing more potential votes than you can possibly imagine by trotting out new gun control measures.  Just leave the damned issue alone, since on the local level the laws you've supported are gradually being peeled away.

Some decent comments on both sides, although I already caught the "Obama is actually pro-gun" bromide.

Again, that was due to Amtrak and National Park "re-legalization" being attached to some "economic reform" bills that he felt he had to sign.

How Leadership Makes the Difference...

One of the best "after action" reports I have yet to read.

This one takes place during the Korean War:

Executive Summary:  Colonel Lavoie was in charge of an Army artillery unit.  Recognizing the vulnerability of his men every time they set their batteries in place, he had them practice perimeter defense and quick repositioning.

All of that preparation paid off handsomely during a persistent attack by Chinese forces who were repeatedly repulsed by his well-trained men.

It's a short and lively read, but one part bears an early mention: while the men were temporarily pinned down some were afraid to expose themselves by returning fire,  Col. Lavoie personally walked over to the huddle men, and said:   "I'm scared too. There's nothing wrong with being scared as long as you do your part."

The men, feeling a bit red-faced, took the encouragement to heart and won the engagement.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

"The Most Dangerous Game" might need to be revised a bit...(click to enlarge)

First saw this one nearly 20 years ago... found it again about ten years later when I mentioned it on the rec.guns newsgroup - someone responded by emailing a scan of it to me... so... hat-tip to them, whoever they are.

Need ammo?

  Quick and convenient way to find ammunition of pretty much any caliber at a good price:


 Ammo Engine

Saturday, October 1, 2011

OK... so now the DOA ATF is the FDA, or possibly the DEA? WTF?

I hate reading stories like this:

We have the inherent right to medicate ourselves as we see fit.  Period.
We have the right to equip ourselves with the implements of defense that we choose.  Period.

The ATF is totally out of bounds saying that using medical marijuana which is prescribed
by a physician whose credentials include a DEA number and the license to practice medicine
in any state, makes ones firearm rights null and void.

Medical marijuana users have an excellent track record of not using firearms, heavy machinery
or vehicles when they're taking their medication. 

This has nothing to do with safety, only control.

People in the sort of weakened state that chronic illness leaves them in have fewer self-defense options than healthy people.  In some ways, a firearm is *more* important for them to have, especially if word gets around the neighborhood that some enfeebled resident might have "good stuff" like Oxycontin and the like.  Doesn't matter if they actually do - once someone has broken into a home, their mission is now to grab whatever is there, and possibly eliminate any witnesses.

Many chronic illnesses and their treatments leave people exhausted and nauseous.  Marijuana consumption is the only way they can keep food, and even their orally administered pills down long enough to do any good.

While I don't believe that on a 0-10 harm scale, Marijuana is the "completely harmless" substance as claimed by most of the legalization crowd, I do believe it carries far less toxicity than just about anything carried by the local pharmacy.

100,000 Americans die every year from improperly administered medication

Even something simple, cheap and easily available like aspirin can be quite dangerous.
Google search for "aspirin deaths" and the number ranges from 500 to 30,000 annually.

Pharmaceuticals are one of the most profitable industries.  I'm sure Big Pharma feels threatened by the mass availability of marijuana, which has extremely low toxicity and a stunning range of medicinal uses.  It doesn't require capital intensive factories to make it in small quantities, and the end user can essentially make it themself.

Fellow conservatives, please de-couple your contempt for "pot smoking hippies and neo-hippies" on this issue.  Marijuana has its legitimate uses, and in any event the Government shouldn't be able to tell us what we can or can't do in our homes if it doesn't endanger (or annoy) anyone else.

Ode to Nevada...

At this point, easily my favorite state out of all the ones I've visited.  Great people, landscapes and a feeling of open space and freedom that I have yet to find anywhere else.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Way to go! Oh, Hi-Yo!

 Great news from the state of Ohio - here it is

 The state has done two important things - legalized carrying in an alcohol-serving establishment, and changed/clarified vehicle carry to specifically allow full concealment.
  In some ways the latter is more important to me, because although we owe the law our obedience (legitimate civil resistance not withstanding), the law owes us clear instruction so we can follow it to the letter.

  I'm glad it's now permitted to have your gun in a bar.  Most gun owners are very self-controlled about not drinking and packing or drinking while target shooting or hunting.  The sort of person who would start trouble in a bar is usually the sort of person that would carry "illegally" anyway.

  The person this law primarily protects is the sort of CCer who either walks into a bar to retrieve a buddy who is too lit up to drive safely, or  a person whose concealed carry piece is so comfortably positioned that they've forgotten it's there.  In neither case should this sort of person be found criminally liable, nor should they be forced to engage in unnecessary administrative handling of their weapon.

  In addition, sometimes bar fights become "one against many" and if the person wasn't the aggressor
and can't flee, a firearm might be the only thing separating them from a severe beatdown or death.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Chicks with guns!

New Book from Lindsay McCrum - photos of women gun owners.  Looks like it's going to be fantastic.

Interestingly, according to Amazon, customers who bought this book also bought "Israeli Battle Dressings" so some caution may be in order.

Put a little Captain in ya...

Michael Caine is perhaps the last actor you'd think of to portray a ruthless German mercenary captain during the Thirty Years' War.  But here he is, resplendently equipped with armor, swords, daggers and a very trusty wheelock pistol.

Sure, his accent fades in and out, but director James Clavell gives him some great dialogue to chew on, and a batch of excellent character actors to play off of.

Excellent music and outdoor photography finish it all off.

Don't miss this one, folks.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

America: First Class Mail, Third World Performance

A client apparently needs a new DC-in socket for his Sony laptop.
I ordered one from an Ebay dealer.  It wasn't until after I remitted payment
that I realized the source was in China.

"It will take too long to get here." I mused.  So I immediately ordered another from a dealer
in Texas at a very similar price.

I opened up today's mail - both parts arrived at the same time.  One from overseas,
and one from "only" about 2/3 of the way to the west coast of this formerly great nation.

Does anyone doubt we're heading in a very, very wrong direction?

Review of Paul M. Barrett's Glock: The Rise of America's Gun

    Here is my commentary on Paul M. Barrett's book Glock: The Rise of America's Gun

     In the early 1980sThe Austrian army needed a new sidearm.  Concealed carry began a seismic shift from
     forbidden to accepted, one US State at a time.The world, particuarly America, needed a modern,   
    high-capacity 9 milimeter pistol even though it didn't know it yet.

     Gaston Glock stood at the confluence of these trends. Like many hyper-successful
     businessmen, he had the right combination of lucky timing and ambition.

     One such patch of luck occurred when he overheard a conversation between Austrian
     army officers, discovering that their military was looking for a more modern sidearm.

     Already a small-scale manufacturer, Glock brought together just the right tooling
     and expertise.  Never having made guns, or even fired that many before, as a designer
     he was unencumbered by notions of "this is how it was always done, this is how it should be
     done."  Beginning with this tabula rasa, he received "wish list" input from military folk with
     an interest in the results.  After a fairly brief round of prototyping
     Glock was ready to sell his creation:  a simple, reliable firearm that quickly won
     over the Austrian military and went on to dominate American law enforcement and civilian

     It is a sterling example of function over form.  To call a Glock "handsome"
     would be quite the overstatement, lacking either either the pencil barreled
     elegance of classic Smith and Wesson revolvers, or the slab-sided blue steeled
     masculinity of the 1911. 

     But the damned thing works. 

     As a company Glock could hardly be in a better position.  The polymer frame and minimal
     parts content mean less precision machining to do and commensurate lower labor costs.
     High margins *and* high volume give Gaston's firm amazing cash flow.

     Spectacular cash flow hides a multitude of sins, and Barrett's book brings to light many
     that can be tied to Glock's company and the manner in which it operates.
     Volume sales deals closed with stip club outings; byzantine shell companies designed to
     minimize taxes paid; internecine conflict within the company including a spectacularly
     unsuccessful plot to murder Glock himself.

     Not to mention some negligent discharge and weapon detonation incidents in which
     the firm used its massive legal muscle to make sure the lawsuit payouts were parsimonious
     and bad publicity minimal.

     Tales of meteoric business success are often fun to read, and as someone who is definitely
     a "gunnie" the book is doubly pleasurable.

     I have mixed feelings about Barrett's book because even as it presents an intriguing
     business story mixed with some adroitly told firearm history, it weaves in aspects
     of the American gun culture, some not always positive.

     When talking about the NRA's lobbying efforts during the Glock era, Barrett seems
     to describe the organization as "no compromise."  The NRA has often yielded ground
     on firearm control legislation, earning itself the alternative moniker of "Negotiate
     Rights Away."

     Unlike a lot of members of the "mainstream media" Barrett's writing
     bears out some real research.  In his writing, he makes sure to use proper terminology.
     Also absent is a tone of contempt for shooting sports enthusiasts in the aggregate.
     At the end of the day I think he's mildly bemused by the strength of the American affinity
     for guns, while also not exactly sure what to do about "gun violence."  I detected some support
     for magazine capacity limits and possibly for gun registration.

    I also admire his pluck in writing both his Businessweek stories on the company and the book itself -  
    Gaston Glock is a fairly enigmatic man, who spawned an equally enigmatic corporation whose byzantine
    layers must have been difficult to penetrate.    

     I have a bit of backstory with the book's author.

     I enjoyed his dryly factual Businessweek story about Glock as a company back in 2010,
     and was upset at what seemed to be an anti-Glock, anti-gun "slam" piece published shortly
     after the horrific Tucson shooting of Janurary 2011.
     Businessweek published the letter I wrote in response to his story, but little did I know that
     I would get to meet him and converse with him at a Reno, Nevada gathering called the Gun Blogger
     It was an affable and most civilized conversation.  Mr. Barrett actually enjoys shooting
     and upon looking into the process for acquiring a New York City pistol permit, got a taste of just
     how onerous and unpleasant gun control can be.

     Sadly, I think that a lot of my fellow "gunnies" will pigeonhole this book simply because the author
     is a New Yorker that writes for Bloomberg Businessweek. 
     I think that's unfortunate and unfair, because at the end of the day, it's an informative and entertaining
     look into a company whose products bear the stamp of "Perfection," which is achieved so unevenly
     as both a company and a gun.  And despite both its good points and flaws, the love for the Glock
     continues unabated.





Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Even The Mafia Will "Forgive" Your Debt if You Pay...

Interesting case about a fellow named David Scott Blackwell.  Served a five-year sentence for selling unlicensed, unregulated, unbranded pharmaceuticals (drug dealing).  After completing said sentence, he was fully pardoned in Georgia, which generally triggers a full restoration of one's rights.

Blackwell moved to Tennessee, and tried to get a concealed carry permit.  He was denied despite the pardon.  Right now the case it at the Tennessee Court of Appeals.

I'm quite the purist on the Second Amendment.  I don't recall it making exceptions for any particular class of people, including those who have committed crimes. 

If you've done the crime and paid the price - you should get your firearm back.  (Except in the case of an execution.  No sense in burying a perfectly good gun in a potter's field).

Continued denial of rights after serving one's sentence is a punishment in and of itself, and violates (in my opinion) the "cruel and unusual" provision, as well as any sense of rightness and proportionality.

In addition, with an array of ever-increasing laws, rules and regulations of which we're all supposed to be aware of ("ignorance of the law is no excuse!!!") it gets easier and easier to be dragged into the hungry maw of our "justice" system."

Prompt and full restoration of rights after completion of a sentence is only a small part of ameliorating this increasingly out of control situation, where in the quest for "law and order" we crush all notions of fairness and proportion.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

New Jersey: Disarmed, Yet Still Dangerous...

The comments almost universally slam Mr. Lautenberg's guest editorial.  HR 822 is needed, but wouldn't be necessary if all of our States actually followed the Constitution.

Violent crime will not increase ONE IOTA if national reciprocity comes to pass, as he ludicrously fears, but at least there won't be any "paperwork criminals" who are charged with CC violations because they crossed over into a state that doesn't accept their permit.

Mr. Lautenberg, do you really mean to tell me that the idea of my packing in your state on my New York CCW scares you?  Despite a heap of paperwork, background checks that far exceed NICS in their thoroughness, an NRA safety course, and four notarized character references, that you think that I'd represent a threat of some sort??? Nonsense. 

And I certainly don't think New Yorkers should be subjected to the overly rigorous process that exists just to *own* a handgun.  See, there's this state right next door called Vermont that doesn't require any of that crap and I have yet to hear of Vermonters lamenting a decades-long scourge of "gun violence."

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Blog Fodder and the Silver State

   Why go to the newstand when you can simply get the papers dropped off right on your "welcome" mat every day?
   Why go on an Internet snipe hunt for gun related news when it gets sent, clean and pristine right to your inbox, by NRA-ILA and Google Alerts (separately, not working hand in hand).
   Indeed.  I got a decent news nugget yesterday:
   Apparently despite Nevada's gun friendly nature, you can't carry your self-defense weapon in one of their state parks.

   Looks like that may change:

   I hope it does.  Having been shadowed in a supposedly "safe" suburban park by some wacky dude, I realized that basically anyone can close in and Tueller my butt PDQ.  Nevada's state parks are huge (Valley of Fire and Red Rock come to mind).  All an assailant needs to commit a crime against a person is for the victim to be out of line of sight and earshot of witnesses.  If that's the case in a long, thin strip of woods 15 miles outside of NYC, then a predator's odds grow exponentially in their favor way out in the desert.
  This is just common sense to allow people to defend themselves against aggressive beasts and malicious men. 
  I haven't heard of any abuses of the re-allowing of carry in national parks, so the same should be true for state parks, as well.

 Bonus cheap shot at Obama - his signing off on National Park carry and Amtrak transport of firearms is not a signal that he is pro-gun.  They were provisions tacked onto economic reform bills.

Don't Talk to Cops... really... and here's why.

If you are a perfectly law abiding citizen (Almost impossible, these days), and are of the mindset that you'll cooperate completely with police and answer all of their questions during your interaction with them , and have no worries because "hey, I have nothing to fear, I've done nothing wrong" - think again!

Here's the first part of an outstanding presentation by a defense attorney who clearly lays out why you imperil yourself by speaking with police without benefit of counsel.

Even if you're not into home decor, marginally interesting recipes and kitchy DIY craft projecs, remember that Martha Stewart didn't serve time for securities related violations, but lying to investigators.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Mass. Says: "One way or another, we'll get your money."

Rather depressing court decision:

Basically this Massachussetts motorist felt the speeding ticket was unfairly issued, and was charged court fees close to the cost of the ticket.  He challenged the ticket (and won) and proceeded to contest the fees, took it to his states highest court, and was ruled against.

Incredibly, the Massachussetts Supreme Court reasoned that it was perfectly acceptable to charge people to challenge tickets.  In fairness, it also said that it was *improper* to start making people accused of more serious law-breaking court fees to, but this could easily be the beginning of a slippery slope.  After all, the courts are a "government service" to both society at large and the accused.  Nothing wrong with charging user fees for the services they use... right? right??? (Sarcasm off)

It's an open secret that traffic law enforcement is about 80% revenue and 20% safety driven.
This ruling affirms this overwhelmingly.

So right now Massachussetts traffic law is a rigged casino.  They win no matter what.  I suspect ticket issuance will now skyrocket.

I thought our Constitution protected us against the arbitrary taking of anyone's life, liberty or property.  This ruling basically tosses away the due process that we've been given, by renaming this unfair confiscation as mere "court fees."

Unfair civil forfeitures of boats, cars, homes and bank accounts has been happening for decades, and hardly arouses any outcry. 

So I'm not too optimistic that we'll be seeing any mobs of torch and pitchfork wielders over this one, either.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Applause for John Lott...

Dr. John Lott spoke to students at the Commons, a facility located on the campus of Vanderbilt University last  Monday.

Although his appearance was sponsored by a campus conservative group, the students attending this nominally liberal institution gave him points for the overall quality of his presentation and use of statistics to back up his arguments.

Story here:

Helping out your fellow man, woman or blogger

Very cool technology I came across at

It's called quickscreenshare

It's a tool for sharing what you're seeing on screen, or remotely managing someone else's PC to help them out.

It generates a one-use link that you must email to the person you're working with (or if you're insane, dictate the soup of characters that comprise the URL).

It also seems to be secure: either party can end the session, and reconnection requires generating a new link and an acceptance on both ends.

At the moment it's free, and seems to be a bit more responsive than the otherwise excellent
tool, Fog Creek Copilot

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

True Blue Sam

Great job with your photo montage of GBR VI... !

On preppers, both cinematic and otherwise...

    A quirky little comedy called the Survivors rolled into movie theaters back in 1983.  It featured
Robin Williams, Walter Matthau and Jerry Reed.
    As I recall, Williams and Matthau are recently jobless men who are thrown together by circumstances whenthey foil Jerry Reed's attempted bank robbery.
    Reed finds Williams' house, attempting a little revenge and is thwarted again. 
    The film spins off in a really offbeat direction when Williams declares "I sure do miss that gun" -
referring to the 1911 he had taken off Reed while subduing him. 
    I first saw the film on cable probably around 1985 or so.  I was only 13 then, and already quite interested in firearms.  I had only fired airguns up to that point, yet I somehow understood that sentiment, and was impressed that the filmmakers would include that line.
    It is, in fact, a typical reaction.  People who are against guns and or even merely neutral on the topic, frequently  enjoy a gentle introduction to shooting, leave with a smile on their face and a question on their lips: "when are we going back to the range?" 
    Pursuing that feeling, he takes a trip to Edelman's, a huge gun store in the lower New York area and does a bit of shopping.
    In so doing, he hooks up with a group of survivalists, probably in upstate New York.  They're presented
as a bunch of caricatures, but probably the first mass-distributed appearance of a "militia" as the media has come to  classically depict them.
    The film was probably made in late 1982.  American-Soviet relations were frosty at best, and Volker's inflation-crushing interest rate hikes had helped spike up unemployment. 
    The modern survival movement probably had some seeds in the civil defense routines that America established during the Second World War, but really kicked into high gear during the Cold War, with a fair number of people building their own bomb shelters and stocking up on consumables that would hopefully allow them to live through immediate blast effects and the first few weeks of fallout.
    Williams settles into the survival community, and the final act of the film is a standoff between him,
his family, Reed, and Matthau. 
    Matthau actually gives a rather moving speech, dressing down the survivalists as a bunch of phonies that are
"waiting... no... hoping" for the Bomb to drop so that all of their thinking, planning and preparation
can bear some sort of fruit.
    If you asked someone why they're digging an extra-spacious basement or buying lots of food with an
extended shelf life 30 years ago, you'd hear that it was a hedge against a nuclear conflict.
    While there are some signs that Russia and the US might be "frenemies" of a rather odd sort, "preppers" now have an interesting mix of reasons for doing what they do.
    Perhaps the global economy will collapse due to untenable debt levels.  Terrorists might detonate a series of dirty bombs in key areas of finance and energy production, rendering them uninhabitable.  The Chinese could start getting aggressive and start grabbing resources with their ascending military might.  Or a natural disaster of  unprecedented scale could kill millions.
    Good preparation isn't about hoping for any of this to happen.  It's about realizing that the stability that we see in our everyday lives can be undermined far more easily than we think.  There's nothing inherently bad about having a fortified home, with stocks of food, water, medical supplies and yes, weapons.  In fact, it's inherently good, and a sign that you're thinking clearly.  Being ready means increasing your chances of being alive when the other shoe drops.  Being prepared means helping restore order or at least not getting in the way as stretched-thin rescuers (if any) try to sort it all out.  Being prepared is a statement that you will not go gently into that good night, no matter how deep the darkness that descends upon our world.

OK, Oklahoma, OK!

   Oklahoma is generally a pretty gun-friendly state.  Unless you want to carry openly.
   It's not lawful there at the moment, but there are some legislative efforts pending to change that.
   Different options are apparently under consideration, such as licensed open carry,
   unlicensed open carry, and simply removing criminal penalties for "flashing" or
   I'm a fan of constitutional carry, and to this day fail to understand why someone who
carries concealed should only be a wardrobe decision away from being criminally penalized.

   Here is a link to a news story about this issue:


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sometimes Atlas Doesn't Shrug...

He says, "F*** it all"

Sometimes I just shake my head (but stop short of swapping brain hemispheres)

Summary as delivered to my inbox by Google Alerts:

"Why Doctors Have a Right to Know TIME But it did something more: it dealt a rare setback to a gun-rights lobby that is increasingly using its considerable political power to support policies that have little to do with the right to bear arms and needlessly put innocent people at risk. ..."

Uh, Time... FU!  Putting innocent people at risk is the self-appointed job of the Brady campaign and their ilk.  I'm not too crazy about anyone trying to restrict the conversations between a doctor and their patient, but *protecting* innocent people is the purpose of rolling back gun control laws.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Obama's Debt "reduction" plan

  No one in Washington has been serious about reducing deficits and accumulated debt since about 11 years ago or so.
  I have zero confidence in whatever silliness this administration is cooking up.
  We're in a huge, huge fiscal hole that's still being dug.  We're about to be treated to more wrangling over the size of the shovel.

GBR VI Video

Finally found the right song for the video montage:

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Recruiting new allies

  I think we "gunnies" should look for other groups, associations, etc that have an outlook similar to ours to help "muscle up" our numbers.
  I don't mean to imply that the NRA, SAF and more locally-focused groups are ineffectual, simply that there is always strength in numbers.
 I listen occasionally to general aviation podcasts in my car (there isn't enough gun stuff to fill up a week's worth of driving). It seems as if people in the GA community have some overlapping interests - they seek freedom (what could be more free than having your own plane?) of time, place and action.  And they are beset by a slew of regulations - some sensible, many not.  And their community is constantly in danger of infringement by politicians and bureaucrats who have no clue as to what the real impact their regulations will have.
 A lot of GA pilots are also racking up flying hours to qualify for commercial passenger airlines.  As far as I know, pilots still have the option to get the training to arm themselves in the cockpit.  Why not take a pilot shooting so they can get a sense of the administrative and shooting skills that they will need to acquire?  Once they see how much fun it is, and once it's explained to them how hard we've fought to keep our Second Amendment rights, they are more likely to add themselves to our ranks.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Very cool first-hand account of anti-piracy operations

No... not software piracy.  Real pirates operating around the Horn of Africa.
Great explanation of the force continuum that anti-piracy operators employ
and why they employ it.

Hat Tip/Credit: - very cool site that I just discovered today (but will be going back to).

Open Carry in California

   A recent news summary describing Assembly Bill AB 144, a proposed ban on the open carry of unloaded handguns in California as a "gun rights activisits' tool."
   Ummm... No.  Both open and concealed carry are Constitutional rights that are routinely and arbitrarily messed with by various states and municipalities.
   Sure...openly carried firearms can be the most visible expression of our Second Amendment rights, but there is practicality far beyond that.
   Openly carried weapons are a visible deterrent to troublemakers.  They are faster to access and bring to bear in the event that they are needed.  
    In certain states before CCW was "allowed," open carry was the only option, other than transported locked up in a box in the trunk.
    And in hot weather states, concealing means adding layers of clothing to avoid criminal charges of "brandishing" or "printing."  People packing heat shouldn't have to sweat any more than necessary, or sequester an underpowered gun just to exercise their right.
   I don't even live in that state, and I hope Governor Brown refuses to sign AB144.  Good luck and God bless, California.

Great News, Folks

  Taking a quick laptop, coffee and voicemail answering "break" from being on the road.
  Went to, and found the following link:

  I'm thrilled to hear that crime keeps decreasing, even though the lousy economy and increasing urbanization in our great nation would make you think otherwise.

  It bears mentioning that in general, gun control is loosening, and gun rights are increasing.  Concealed carry is allowed (on paper at least) in 49 out of 50 States.  Four states have Constitutional Carry.  Municipal ordinances against carry in certain areas are being struck down like corn stalks during fall harvest, due to state pre-emption laws and citizens who take their government to court to make sure they are enforced.

  The usual bromide that these changes will increase crime are pure nonsense and this is borne out again and again by the stats.

Tragedy in Reno...

   When I work on a computer, I occasionally multi-task: if there's a process that cooks on its own, like a backup, restore or virus scan, I'll take a quick peek at a news website.
   Last night a particularly harrowing one caught my eye: a vintage plane crashed during the Reno Air Show, killing the pilot, and injuring or killing quite a few spectators.
  I'm not an aviation enthusiast, but I really enjoyed the Balloon Race that took place during the GBR.  As the sun came up and I watched balloons inflate and ascend, I caught two overflights of vintage propeller driven fighters with my video camera.  In both instances they flew in perfect, tight "v" formation, although one group peeled off to honor the "missing man."  It was a glorious sight.
  What I hope comes out of this: a renewed appreciation for the dedication, time, money and effort it takes to keep vintage aircraft running, as well as the skill to fly them.  And perhaps a slight re-jiggering of spectator positioning and participant flight corridors to further minimize the chances of casualties if another plane experiences such a massive mechanical failure in the air.
  What I hope doesn't come out of this are hordes of brainless safety fascists, who will regulate events like this out of existence.  The problem is that they usually aren't happy "solving" the "problem at hand."  There's potential for them to expand their mandate to anything that burns petrol, makes lots of horsepower and noise, and goes really fast.
  Regulations have their place, but there are limits.  You can't engineer perfect safety into our world, but there are starry-eyed, brain-dead bureaucrats who will quench all legitimate risk-taking in an attempt to get us to that point.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Is today, "Marketing Message Opposite Day??"

  Travel is almost as much a passion for me as owning and shooting firearms.  One of my credit cards sent me a marketing email today with a rather odd subject heading:
  "Get Away This Fall with Reduced Mileage Awards"  I'm sure that what they meant to say was, "make your existing mileage points go further with our fall getaway specials," but it sure doesn't sound that way.
  It's a bit like saying, "Shoot more with less ammo" or  "Have more food at our restaurants... with our new small-portion plates."
  I worry about the overall edumacation level in this country, and stuff like this doesn't make me feel any better.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Who's to blame for this one?

Empire is/was a "company town" in northwestern Nevada - now numbering about five souls, it once was a reasonably lively place, whose inhabitants were employees of US Gypsum.  They worked at the local gypsum mine, now sporting a shiny perimeter fence around the white mounds of excavated product, ostensibly to keep out those enterprising gypsum thieves.  The factory supplied wallboard to construction sites all over the US, but mostly to the booming Las Vegas area.  When the housing crash arrived, it hit southern Nevada harder than most.  Demand for USG's products dried up and blew away.  The people working for the firm occupied company-owned homes leased to them cheaply, and of couse with no factory, their homes were taken away, along with their jobs.  Several score jobs doesn't sound like that many, but it has a huge impact in a sparsely populated state like Nevada, and with an overall terrible scarcity of work in that state, people have had to uproot themselves and drift pretty far to find a steady paycheck.

Who can we blame for the demise of this town?  People would love to point a finger at George W Bush or Barack Obama, but there were a lot of cooks brewing up this disaster.  How about the banks that disastrously lowered their lending standards?  Borrowers whose stomachs knotted even as they smiled
and signed on the dotted line, knowing they couldn't really sustain the payments?  Or how about Alan Greenspan and his successors, who've likely kept interest rates lower than they should have?   Or the various investment houses who bought and sold securitized mortgates, creating a byzantine chain of loan ownership and very little accountability? Or US Gypsum itself, which let a town die rather than find a way to save some of those jobs until demand for their product picks up?

It's human nature to find a figurehead to bury in the sand and hurl cabbages at, but in reality there are many, many contributors to our most difficult problems, and we certainly don't do ourselves any favors by singling out one guilty party while letting the rest go scot free.

HR 822

 At first blush, HR 822 sounds great - forcing states to recognize each other's concealed carry permits.  I'm a proud New Yorker, but I have no issue with CCW holders from other states packing heat in mine.  And I don't think I should become an instant criminal if I visit another state without first having gotten their nonresident permit.
 I'm not so sure that I like the idea of enacting a federal law that gives explicit permission for something already guaranteed in our Constitution.
 And what of Vermonters, whose state doesn't even issue optional permits, as Alaska, Wyoming and Arizona do?  They shouldn't be excluded from this regime (if enacted) simply for doing the right thing - following the Consitution - from the get-go.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Back to reality after GBR VI...

Usually when I vacation, I try to display some sort of clothing or accessory that demonstrates my interest in the shooting sports – perhaps a souvenir shirt from the fabulous Knob Creek Machinegun Shoot, or a picture of John Moses Browning pasted onto the outer leaf of a manila folder.  I call them recognition totems, so that if a fellow “gunnie” sees it, perhaps a conversation will ensue.  Conversely, I’m always looking out for the same thing. 

My Kalashnakitty shirt made it quite easy for Mr. Completely, Kee Wee, Kevin Baker (and one or two others I’m forgetting for the moment) to recognize me as a fellow GBR attendee.  We quickly formed up and had a lively dinner.

I hadn’t gone to any previous GBRs.  Always wanted to.  Why NOT go to a gathering of  quality writers collected together in a comfy hotel tucked into the Northwest corner of Nevada, one of the very best states to be in if you’re a shooter?

We had use of a hospitality room as a place to congregate, schmooze, discuss, argue and simply meet up before heading out for a field trip.

Our first was out to Cabela’s.  There aren’t any places like it where I’m from.  It’s basically a giant rustic cabin the size of a Wal-Mart but filled with an amazing selection of outdoor gear.  We were given an informative guided tour of the place, and were able to inspect and even hold some of the specimens in their famous Gun Library. 

The ranges we went to were unlike any I’ve visited.  They aren’t just a collection of targets set against sand berms, they’re basically tall hills that are part of the dramatic Nevada landscape.  The distances are between 10 and about 900 + yards.

Kevin Baker said it best and I’m paraphrasing here, “As I drove up here from Tucson I saw all of this empty land and I thought it would make a great gun range.”
I’ve had the same thought myself, while transiting through Nevada’s quiet terrain on previous vacations.

Reno itself is a great setting for GBR.  Reno should never be mistaken for Las Vegas, and vice versa.  Las Vegas is a gambling town that happens to have people that live and work there.  Reno is a place where people live and work, that just happens to have gambling.

Both cities are surrounded by plenty of rugged hills, mountains and scrub desert, but Reno feels friendlier and slower.  It lacks that “anything can happen” vibe threading the air in Vegas, but I think that’s a good thing for a tight-knit group like the GBR attendees.  Traffic can certainly be bad around Reno, but it’s a crawl around Vegas, so our excursions to Cabela’s and local ranges would have been hampered.

 I had a slightly surreal moment at the GBR: I met Paul M Barrett.  He’s a business journalist for Bloomberg Businessweek.  Paul wrote a story in January about Glocks that I felt at the time was very anti-Glock, anti-gun, and anti gun owner.  I dashed off a response the moment I read it.  As I recall I wrote it right from my Blackberry from the now-defunct Borders store where I read the piece. 
Businessweek published the letter, which I found gratifying.
But I never expected to encounter the fellow in person, and we had a good dinnertime conversation.  As I understand it, he spoke about gun issues with the other attendees and had quite the vigorous debate going.

I think Paul left the event with a better sense of who we are – heck he got a taste of gun-law frustration when he himself tried to obtain a permit to own a pistol – a process fraught with paperwork, fees and bureaucracy in NYC and New York State.
His overarching stance wasn’t especially pro or anti-gun but contained a heartfelt plea for both sides to be able to sit down and discuss the issues in an intelligent and civil way.

It should be pointed out to any “non-gunnies” reading this post that well over 40 states don’t require anything even like this to merely have a handgun to keep at home and take to the range.

The gap (or similarity) between a blogger’s online persona and how they are in real life was one of the things I was curious about well ahead of my arrival at GBR. 
They are the smart, articulate, passionate and polite people that I expected them to be.
Everyone I met was interesting to spend time with, and generous with their guns, ammunition and money (fundraising for Valor-IT).

I’m looking forward already to next year’s gathering.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Can't hold your liquor? Perhaps you haven't watched any news lately

Still working on a longish post about GBR VI, but I had to comment about someone ahead of me at the ticket counter here at the Reno airport (outbound).
 She was holding onto a half-finished bottle of grape juice (not allowed on the plane) and clutching an unopened bottle of some amber-colored liquor in a much larger than sample size (definitely not allowed on the plane as a carry-on item).
  When reminded politely by another passenger that she most likely wouldn't be permitted to carry any of it onboard, she remarked how she "always was able to do that when traveling back from the islands" and proceeded to tear Reno a new one, claiming to have received bad service at Harrah's and feeling like there was nothing to do and aside from that it was "too dry here."
   Really?  This woman, sounding like an experienced traveler, had absolutely no idea about the rules regarding liquids?  And had no idea what the climate and activities in Reno were like?  And didn't read any prior reviews of the property she stayed at?  Part of me wanted to say, "STFU, you clearly have enough money to travel often... don't be so damned miserable."
  Right before finding a helpful airline employee to try to marry up her high-proof would-be contraband to her checked luggage, she announced that she was going to open up the bottle and "have my own cocktail party."
  Good for her.  I'm sure her lack of preparation means that there's another rule she didn't know about: you can't fly drunk.  Pilots need 12 hrs minimum "bottle to throttle" as I understand it, but tipsy passengers are identified in the terminal, too, and are just as strongly discouraged from getting onboard, and frequently are forced to wait around until they sober up.
  Going back to her negative comments about Reno, she expressed a strong disliking of the place, and a desire to never come back.
  "Good." I thought.  "I'm sure Reno feels the same way about you."  Bon Voyage...