Liberty is an inherently offensive lifestyle. Living in a free society guarantees that each one of us will see our most cherished principles and beliefs questioned and in some cases mocked. That psychic discomfort is the price we pay for basic civic peace. It's worth it. It's a pragmatic principle. Defend everyone else's rights, because if you don't there is no one to defend yours. -- MaxedOutMama

I don't just want gun rights... I want individual liberty, a culture of self-reliance....I want the whole bloody thing. -- Kim du Toit

The most glaring example of the cognitive dissonance on the left is the concept that human beings are inherently good, yet at the same time cannot be trusted with any kind of weapon, unless the magic fairy dust of government authority gets sprinkled upon them.-- Moshe Ben-David

The cult of the left believes that it is engaged in a great apocalyptic battle with corporations and industrialists for the ownership of the unthinking masses. Its acolytes see themselves as the individuals who have been "liberated" to think for themselves. They make choices. You however are just a member of the unthinking masses. You are not really a person, but only respond to the agendas of your corporate overlords. If you eat too much, it's because corporations make you eat. If you kill, it's because corporations encourage you to buy guns. You are not an individual. You are a social problem. -- Sultan Knish

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Traveling

The week of April 6-10 I'm going to be in Burlington, VT.  I've already dropped Jeff Soyer an email, but if any readers live in that area, I'd be interested in meeting up with you.  My email's over there on the left sidebar.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Freedom of from Religion

Still playing over at Quora.com.  Here's a recent question:
Why, despite its clear violation of the First Amendment's Free Exercise Clause, is there still "In God we trust" on US currency and in courtrooms?

The Free exercise Clause:
'GOVERNMENT shall make no law respecting any organization of religion or prohibit the free exercise there of.'

AND The CONGRESS ACTION THAT WAS PASSED UNCONSTITUTIONALLY AND IN BLATANT VIOLATION OF OUR INALIENABLE RIGHTS:!!!

As a result, the 84th Congress passed a joint resolution "declaring IN GOD WE TRUST the national motto of the United States." The law was signed by President Eisenhower on July 30, 1956, and the motto was progressively added to paper money over a period from 1957 to 1966.

Federal endorsement of a deity or religion violates THE US CONSTITUTION.
So, in light of this should be removed asap.
I replied:
You are aware that from the founding of the nation the Senate and the House of Representatives have each had, at government expense, a chaplain? And one of the duties of that chaplain is to open each session of each legislative body with a prayer?

Are you familiar with the "Original Public Understanding" theory of Constitutional law? I suggest you look it up. Your understanding of the First Amendment is flawed.
A reader took exception:
Lisbeth Salandar wrote:

No Kevin, ACTUALLY having a chaplain say a prayer in a secular government body is also severly unconstitutional you history oblivious fool.
My understanding of the first Amendment is based entirely on the words contained within it cûlt boy.
You are competely entitled to your opinions which are not supported by evidence.
But the moment you spread that opinion as fact you are a liar.
And if you spread it as fact knowing well it is an opinion you are both a liar and a fraud.


Government shall make no law respecting any organization of religion or prohibit the free exercise thereof.

Can you read?
It isn't a bible you can just be an apologist for later and say is metaphor Ya non- reasoning dolt it's an INALIENABLE RIGHT-not subject to your falsifiable and cûlt deluded opinion.
Well! As Randall Munroe observed:  I can't go to bed, someone is wrong on the internet! So of course I had to respond:
Well, so much for Be Nice, Be Respectful. 

Apparently you're under the impression that I belong to a "cûlt."  I assume from this (having had some experience in this arena) that you mean I'm religious, probably some form of Christian.  However, I assure you I am an atheist, but apparently not of the same sect as you.  My beliefs are obviously heretical to yours, thus your need to verbally burn me at the stake for denying your TRUTH.

So your understanding of the First Amendment is based entirely on the words contained in it?  How nice.  You're not a lawyer, then?  Well, neither am I, but I've studied American Constitutional law on my own for about the last twenty years.  I've read enough court decisions to make one's eyes bleed, and I've read the non-judicial statements of judges and Justices in great stacks. 

And you propose to stand here and tell me that you would argue to James Madison, "Father of the Constitution," that the First Amendment prohibits the offices of Chaplain of the House and the Senate, and he'd agree with you?

Sorry.  Not buying.  Not even close. 

The law is NEVER based exclusively on the text.  That invites "reinterpretation" over time - the so-called "living Constitution" theory.  Let me throw some quotes out to you:

"Our Revolution commenced on more  favorable ground. It presented us an album on which we were free to write what we pleased. We had no occasion to search into musty records, to hunt up royal parchments, or to investigate the laws and institutions of a semi-barbarous ancestry. We appealed to those of nature, and found them engraved on our hearts. Yet we did not avail ourselves of all the advantages of our position. We had never been permitted to exercise self-government. When forced to assume it, we were novices in its science. Its principles and forms had entered little into our former education. We established however some, although not all its important principles. The constitutions of most of our States assert, that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves, in all cases to which they think themselves competent, (as in electing their functionaries executive and legislative, and deciding by a jury of themselves, in all judiciary cases in which any fact is involved,) or they may act by representatives, freely and equally chosen; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed; that they are entitled to freedom of person, freedom of religion, freedom of property, and freedom of the press." -- Thomas Jefferson pp.46 - 47, The Living Thoughts of Thomas Jefferson, John Dewey, presenter.

--

"On every question of construction (of the Constitution) let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed." --Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Johnson, June 12, 1823, The Complete Jefferson, p. 322 Paul K. Sadover

--

"It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country should inspire caution in those intrusted with its administration to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism.... If in the opinion of the people the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this in one instance may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. The precedent must always greatly overbalance in permanent evil any partial or transient benefit which the use can at any time yield." - George Washington, Farewell Address, 1796

--

"Do not separate text from historical background. If you do, you will have perverted and subverted the Constitution, which can only end in a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government." - James Madison

--

"The Constitution is a written instrument. As such, its meaning does not alter. That which it meant when it was adopted, it means now."South Carolina v. US, 199 U.S. 437, 448 (1905)

And finally, Antonin Scalia:

"It is literally true that the U.S. Supreme Court has entirely liberated itself from the text of the Constitution.

"What 'we the people' want most of all is someone who will agree with us as to what the evolving constitution says.

"We are free at last, free at last.  There is no respect in which we are chained or bound by the text of the Constitution. All it takes is five hands.

"What in the world is a ‘moderate interpretation’ of the text?  Halfway between what it really says and what you want it to say?" - Antonin Scalia, excerpts from a speech quoted in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, 3/10/04

I've engaged on several occasions with what I like to term the acolytes of Dawkins - the radical anti-theists who hate all religion, but most especially Christianity - and the place at which we clash most often is with respect to Constitutional law.  They seem to feel that judges in black robes sitting at benches can unilaterally dispense TRUTH upon the masses - in short, that the Court system acts as the clergy of the Church of State, solely responsible for the well-being of our - for lack of a better word - souls.

Columnist George Will gave a speech a few years ago that hit upon this.  Let me quote:

"Madison asserted that politics should take its bearings from nature, from human nature and the natural rights with which we are endowed that pre-exist government. Woodrow Wilson, like all people steeped in the nineteenth century discovery (or so they thought) that History is a proper noun with a capital 'H,' that history has a mind and life of its own, he argued that human nature is as malleable and changeable as history itself, and that it is the job of the state to regulate and guide the evolution of human nature, and the changeable nature of the rights we are owed by the government that in his view dispensed rights.

"Heraclitus famously said 'You cannot step into the same river twice,' meaning that the river would change. The modern progressive believes that you can't step into the same river twice because you change constantly. Well those of us of the Madisonian persuasion believe that  we take our bearings from a certain constancy. Not from, well to coin a phrase 'the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.'

"That has become, that phrase from Justice Brennan, has become the standard by which the constitution is turned into a 'living document.' A constitution that no longer can constitute. A constitution has, as Justice Scalia said, an anti-evolution purpose. The very virtue of a constitution is that it is not changeable. It exists to prevent change, to embed certain rights so that they cannot easily be taken away.

"Madison said rights pre-exist government. Wilson said government exists to dispense whatever agenda of rights suits its fancy, and to annihilate, regulate or attenuate or dilute those others. Madison said the rights we are owed are those that are necessary for the individual pursuit of happiness. Wilson and the progressives said the rights you deserve are those that will deliver material happiness to you and spare you the strain and terror of striving.

"The result of this is now clear. We see in the rampant indebtedness of our country and the European countries what someone has called 'a gluttonous feast on the flesh of the future.' We see the infantilization of publics that become inert and passive, waiting for the state to take care of them."

So no, cûlt-girl, the mere words of the text are not all that matters, no matter how strongly you believe.
Curios to see if he/she/it responds further.

UPDATE:  Yup:
Lisbeth Salandar wrote:

Religions are all cults by design definition- Just large ones. INFACT that's what a religion is technically- when a cult gets too big to contain by authorities it gets relabeled as a religion- Pickup a dictionary or look at how any religion forms. What is it that you think these organizations provide to make such huge dividends? Needless fear.
Not to burst your bubble- but this has nothing to do with me you and my perceived ego- it has to do with accuracy and honesty and a blatantly disregarded HUMAN RIGHT.
I could care less what you delude- about your percieved sect of atheism- right there you show yo don't know what atheism is but at least you figured out part of the truth.
I didn't have a bad experience with cults- I have to read, participate and basically evangelize about a deity being trusted everyday- understand how that is unconstitutional?
My response:
No, I don't.  We're discussing Constitutional law as it applies to religion here in the U.S.  Your argument is that the government cannot even mention anything religious, but from the founding of the nation we've opened sessions of Congress with state-paid clergymen offering prayer to a Big Invisible Friend.

Your argument is invalid.  The "original public understanding" of the First Amendment's defense of freedom of religion is not equal to your conception that it protects a freedom from religion.

You live in a society where a significant majority believe in a god or gods.  The First Amendment protects their belief.

So suck it up, buttercup.  Grow a thicker skin.  If your atheism is so delicate that it cannot withstand evangelization and must be protected from same by government force, then I suggest it isn't all that solid to begin with.
UPDATE II:  The conversation is also going on in the comments to the original question.

UPDATE III:  Original comment thread DELETED.  Why am I not surprised?  Here's the rest of the exchange:
Lisbeth Salandar wrote:

Government shall make no law respecting any establishment of religion or prohibit the free exercise thereof.
That answers what I think.
Endorsement of monotheism on legal tender is without QUESTION UNCONSTITUTIONAL. Why do you think we have a free exercise clause? So cults and non-reasoning illiterates as an ignore it? Surely not.
To which I replied:
And, once again, where do you get your oddly worded version of the First Amendment? I assure you it does not use the word "organization." The word used is "establishment," oh great Constitutional Textualist. Do some research on the "Establishment Clause" in Constitutional law.

The premise of your argument is flawed. All other error flows from there.
Her return volley:
Lisbeth Salandar wrote:

There fixed it. Thanks- but you are dead wrong about the rest.
Monotheism establishes a singular God. Be honest would you- that is establishing MONOTHEISM excluding all else; hence a direct violation brainiac.
Monotheism is established as being only one God worshipping. That isn't religious establishment to you? It is to everyone who doesn't have schizophrenia and even a smidgen of science literacy.
And the reply that, I think, caused her to delete her initial comment:
So we've established that you, self-proclaimed Constitutional Textualist, cannot accurately quote the particular Constitutional clause you're basing your position on, that you accuse ME of being a "history oblivious fool," (though you've now deleted said comment), you accused me of belonging to a cult - sorry, "cûlt," for not agreeing with you, and now you're banging your MONOTHEISM! gong.

But we were discussing LAW. As I pointed out, what the law meant when it was adopted is what the law means NOW, unless and until that law is CHANGED through legislation - NOT by the proclamation of some robed priest sitting at the judicial bench handing down Truth.

Is "In God We Trust" unconstitutional? I very much doubt it, given the HISTORICAL FACT that both houses of Congress have government-paid clergy on staff, and have had since the inception of those legislatures. The law DID NOT MEAN WHAT YOU THINK IT MEANS when it was adopted. It doesn't mean that now. I'm sorry that this historical FACT harshes your mellow, but there it remains.

You want to change that? Lobby and get new legislation passed. Don't go looking for the solution in the courts.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Monday, March 16, 2015

Bill Whittle - Living in Hell

Missed this one when it came out.  Bill on Oscar celebrities preaching to we of the low, sloping foreheads here in flyover country:


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Computer Bleg

I built the computer I'm writing this on as a Christmas present to myself in 2008.  It's an Intel Socket 1336 i7 920 2.66GHz running XP Professional with 3(only 3!)Gb of memory.  It's got a pair of Western Digital 500Gb SATA hard drives and a Blue-Ray burner.  The video card is a Diamond Radeon 1GB.  Everything is in an ATX case with a 500W power supply.

It's time to upgrade. I want some USB 3.0 ports, audio that works, and (Jeremy Clarkson voice) MOOORE SPEEEED!

What can I get with a $500 budget, especially if I'm willing to re-use the existing hard-disks, Blue-Ray burner and possibly the video card?

I'd like to switch to Windows 7 Professional.  Not all that fond of Windows 8 at the moment.

Oh, I'm running a pair of LG Flatron W1942T monitors that I plan to keep using.

Am I better off shopping for a pre-assembled system?

EDITED TO ADD:  (Emily Latella voice) Never mind.  The system I've got isn't really all that bad even though it's six years old.  I'm just going to upgrade it some with more memory, a newer video card, and eventually Windows 7.

Goodbye, Farewell, and Thanks for All the Joy...

Author Terry Pratchett has passed, and reader GOF has left an excellent eulogy to the man in my quotes, which I shall reproduce here:
"I would like my pudding now nurse. And then I think I'd like to... write... something... I don't remember what."

Standing in the corner, he waits. The sand slowly flows, but it nears its end. The old man still glows, as thousands of threads spread away from him.

SQUEAK.

I AGREE. IT IS A SHAME TO SEE HIM THIS WAY.

SQUEAK.

NO. I DO NOT KNOW WHAT WILL HAPPEN.... BUT I CANNOT WAIT TO ASK HIM HOW IT ALL ENDS.

The old man looks up, through them at first... and then he sees them. For once, the smile on the hooded figure's skull is genuine.

"I... I remember you. The anth... ant..."

ANTHROPOMORPHIC PERSONIFICATION.

"Yes, that. We knew each other?"

ONCE. AND WILL AGAIN, SIR.

He so rarely said it, and these feelings... remembering his young apprentice, and beloved daughter. The beautiful child they have.

"There... is a girl, yes?"

SHE IS SPEAKING TO THE AUDITORS, SIR. THEY ARE UNWILLING TO LISTEN.

"Well then. You know what they say, two things you cannot avoid. Taxes and..." He looks into the fiery blue eyes, and becomes aware.

SQUEAK.

"Quite right. Is it time already? I have so much left to do."

YOU HAVE GIVEN ALL YOU CAN SIR.

"No, not cancer. Alzheimers."

I AM AWARE.

"So, where is the boy? I remember a boy."

CARRIAGE ACCIDENT.

"Ahh. Never much trusted cars. Or horses."

THEY GET YOU WHERE YOU WANT TO GO.

"Must I?"

SOON. BUT WE MAY SIT HERE AWHILE.

SQUEAK.

DO YOU HAVE ANY BISCUITS?

"No. Shame really."

YES.

"Is it truly turtles?"

ALL THE WAY DOWN. I HAVE SEEN THEM.

"Ahh. I would love to see it. Perhaps a small trip before?"

IT WOULD BE MY PLEASURE.

"The light is slower there... and there's a monkey...."

ORANGUTAN. SAME PRINCIPLE.

"Yes... will they remember me?"

SQUEAK.

"What was that? I could not hear you."

HE SAYS WE WILL, SIR.

"I never much liked the trouble people had with you. You seem like a nice fellow."

I HAVE MY DAYS.

"Don't we all?"

SOME LESS THAN OTHERS.

"Is it quick?"

YES. AND I BROUGHT THE SWORD. CEREMONY DICTATES IT.

"Ahh. How about a cup of tea?"

I WOULD ENJOY IT. DO YOU PLAY CHESS?

"No. how about checkers?"

And so they sat, two old friends regaling each other, and though the old man could not remember all of the details, the cloaked man and his rat filled him in, when it was needed.

--

RIP Sir Terry Pratchett, 1948-2015

Stolen from /tg/ on 4chan years back and came to me via FB.


Need a Laser?

A friend of mine has a Crimson Trace™ CMR-203S Railmaster for sale on Craigslist.  I've got one of those and a Railmaster Pro, so I'm not in the market for one, but if you are, it's a pretty good deal!

Sunday, March 08, 2015

It's Called "Projection"

Hillary the Inevitable protests the "shredding of the Constitution" in 2007:



hu·bris
ˈ(h)yo͞obrəs/
 
noun: hubris

excessive pride or self-confidence.
    synonyms:    arrogance, conceit, haughtiness, hauteur, pride, self-importance, egotism, pomposity, superciliousness, superiority;
    informal: big-headedness, cockiness
"the hubris among economists was shaken"
    antonyms:    humility
(in Greek tragedy) excessive pride toward or defiance of the gods, leading to nemesis.

How do you know when a Democrat is doing something improper, immoral or illegal?  When they complain about Republicans doing it.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Friday, March 06, 2015

But Michael Bloomberg Wants to Disarm Young Black Men

At least that's what's being reported outside the MSM.  (Didn't see anything in the NYT or on MSNBC about this, did you?)

However, I was fascinated to see this piece at SlateRed Summer.  Excerpts:
In his new book, 1919, The Year of Racial Violence: How African Americans Fought Back, David F. Krugler, professor of history at the University of Wisconsin–Platteville, looks at the actions of people ... who resisted white incursions against the black community through the press, the courts, and armed defensive action. The year 1919 was a notable one for racial violence, with major episodes of unrest in Chicago; Washington; and Elaine, Arkansas, and many smaller clashes in both the North and the South. (James Weldon Johnson, then the field secretary of the NAACP, called this time of violence the “Red Summer.”) White mobs killed 77 black Americans, including 11 demobilized servicemen (according to the NAACP’s magazine, the Crisis). The property damage to black businesses and homes—attacks on which betrayed white anxiety over new levels of black prosperity and social power—was immense.

--

While there is a notable cluster of examples of black communities fighting back in the racial conflicts of 1919, the history of armed self-defense goes back even further. Law professor Nicholas Johnson points to fugitive slaves who armed themselves against slave-catchers as some of the earliest examples of the practice. In another dark period of racial violence at the end of the 19th century, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, a journalist and investigator of lynching, advocated "boycott, emigration, and the press" as weapons against white aggression, outlining the rationale in her 1892 pamphlet Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases. When those peaceful strategies failed, Wells-Barnett thought a more active strategy was the answer, observing: "The only times an Afro-American who was assaulted got away has been when he had a gun and used it in self-defense." For this reason, she wrote, "[A] Winchester rifle should have a place of honor in every black home, and it should be used for that protection which the law refuses to give."
Worth your time to read.  And the top-rated comment:
Anyone who found this article interesting should immediately read Justice Thomas's concurrence in McDonald v. Chicago, a gun control case wherein Thomas argues very persuasively that the right to bear arms was intended to be one of the "privileges" protected by the 14th Amendment, specifically aimed at giving newly freed slaves in the South the right to carry weapons to protect themselves from whites.

https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/561/08-1521/concurrence2.html


I am by no means a gun enthusiast, but Thomas's concurrence makes some excellent points and had it been the majority opinion, American jurisprudence would have been the better for it. - John Marshall Alexander Jr.
I am a gun enthusiast, but I too have made that argument repeatedly here in this blog.  I concur with Mr. Alexander - American jurisprudence would have been better had the "privileges and immunities" clause been resurrected.

From that concurrence:
I agree with the Court that the Fourteenth Amendment makes the right to keep and bear arms set forth in the Second Amendment "fully applicable to the States."  I write separately because I believe there is a more straightforward path to this conclusion, one that is more faithful to the Fourteenth Amendment’s text and history.

Applying what is now a well-settled test, the plurality opinion concludes that the right to keep and bear arms applies to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause because it is "fundamental" to the American "scheme of ordered liberty," and " 'deeply rooted in this Nation's history and tradition,' ". I agree with that description of the right. But I cannot agree that it is enforceable against the States through a clause that speaks only to "process." Instead, the right to keep and bear arms is a privilege of American citizenship that applies to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment's Privileges or Immunities Clause.

--

The notion that a constitutional provision that guarantees only "process" before a person is deprived of life, liberty, or property could define the substance of those rights strains credulity for even the most casual user of words. Moreover, this fiction is a particularly dangerous one. The one theme that links the Court's substantive due process precedents together is their lack of a guiding principle to distinguish "fundamental" rights that warrant protection from nonfundamental rights that do not. Today's decision illustrates the point.

--

(A)ny serious argument over the scope of the Due Process Clause must acknowledge that neither its text nor its history suggests that it protects the many substantive rights this Court's cases now claim it does.

I cannot accept a theory of constitutional interpretation that rests on such tenuous footing. This Court's substantive due process framework fails to account for both the text of the Fourteenth Amendment and the history that led to its adoption, filling that gap with a jurisprudence devoid of a guiding principle. I believe the original meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment offers a superior alternative, and that a return to that meaning would allow this Court to enforce the rights the Fourteenth Amendment is designed to protect with greater clarity and predictability than the substantive due process framework has so far managed.

I acknowledge the volume of precedents that have been built upon the substantive due process framework, and I further acknowledge the importance of stare decisis to the stability of our Nation’s legal system. But stare decisis is only an "adjunct" of our duty as judges to decide by our best lights what the Constitution means. Moreover, as judges, we interpret the Constitution one case or controversy at a time. The question presented in this case is not whether our entire Fourteenth Amendment jurisprudence must be preserved or revised, but only whether, and to what extent, a particular clause in the Constitution protects the particular right at issue here. With the inquiry appropriately narrowed, I believe this case presents an opportunity to reexamine, and begin the process of restoring, the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment agreed upon by those who ratified it.
Which is what Alan Gura argued for and was told to shut up about by people on our side.  But the Court dodged the opportunity, not (I believe) wanting to upset the mountain of bad law that a century of stare decisis has created.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

BULLSH!T!

Simply put, gun control cannot survive without an accompanying sea of disinformation. - Anonymous (But accurate.)


And The Other Side™ follows the mantra of "repeat the lie and it will eventually be believed."

SayUncle points to another example of this, from today's Washington Post, America has more guns in fewer hands than ever before​. Opening paragraphs:
You've probably heard by now that the Obama administration has been a boon to the U.S. firearm industry. Gun manufacturers boosted production by 31 percent between 2011 and 2012. National tragedies from Newtown to Ferguson are accompanied by stories of surging gun sales.

But data released this week from the General Social Survey, widely regarded as the gold standard for social science survey research, shows that in 2014, the number of American households owning guns remained at 40-year lows.
Except I've been there, fisked that before. May, 2013: DECLINING GUN OWNERSHIP!!

Yes, the General Social Survey says a smaller percentage of households contain guns than at some time in the past. However, Gallup says gun ownership is up.  Either way, the total number of households has increased over time, resulting in the TOTAL NUMBER OF HOUSEHOLDS CONTAINING GUNS INCREASING, so there are MORE guns in MORE hands than ever before - the exact opposite of the WaPo headline.

But that doesn't fit the Narrative of gun owners as The Other, a declining demographic of middle-aged overweight white men with "low sloping foreheads" that will eventually die off and can therefore be dismissed.

The Left and the media (but I repeat myself) depends on the general population's stupidity.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Quote of the Day

From What Scares the New Atheists, an op-ed piece by author John Gray in the UK's Guardian:
It has often been observed that Christianity follows changing moral fashions, all the while believing that it stands apart from the world. The same might be said, with more justice, of the prevalent version of atheism. If an earlier generation of unbelievers shared the racial prejudices of their time and elevated them to the status of scientific truths, evangelical atheists do the same with the liberal values to which western societies subscribe today – while looking with contempt upon “backward” cultures that have not abandoned religion. The racial theories promoted by atheists in the past have been consigned to the memory hole – and today’s most influential atheists would no more endorse racist biology than they would be seen following the guidance of an astrologer. But they have not renounced the conviction that human values must be based in science; now it is liberal values which receive that accolade. There are disputes, sometimes bitter, over how to define and interpret those values, but their supremacy is hardly ever questioned. For 21st century atheist missionaries, being liberal and scientific in outlook are one and the same.

It’s a reassuringly simple equation. In fact there are no reliable connections – whether in logic or history – between atheism, science and liberal values. When organised as a movement and backed by the power of the state, atheist ideologies have been an integral part of despotic regimes that also claimed to be based in science, such as the former Soviet Union. Many rival moralities and political systems – most of them, to date, illiberal – have attempted to assert a basis in science. All have been fraudulent and ephemeral. Yet the attempt continues in atheist movements today, which claim that liberal values can be scientifically validated and are therefore humanly universal.
If the topic interests you, RTWT.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

From the Front Lines

My favorite Merchant O'Death emails from his position on the front lines:
The statement has been made and the Kool-Aid has been drunk. In the wake of the ATF statement about the impending ban on any 5.56mm/.223 ammunition that is loaded with the 62-grain, SS109 LAP bullet (the one cartridge specifically named by the ATF&E being the M-855) known colloquially as "green tip", the masses have laid siege to my shop, buying large quantities of any and all 5.56/.223 ammo, the most common statement from the aforementioned group being: "I can't believe you guys still have any two-two-three ammo on the shelves! The government is going to ban it!" or words to that effect. The fact that Rush Limbaugh stated that the government was going to ban .223 ammo on his radio show last week has had the expected result. I shudder to think what the lines in front of ammo vendors at gun shows will look like in the foreseeable future, though thankful that I will not be one of those folks standing in those lines.

We don't have any limits on .223 ammo nor have we increased our prices. Despite the predictable reaction from the "masses", we aren't worried about running out of 5.56/.223 ammo anytime soon though our stock of 62-grain, "green tip" ammo is quite low. Not everyone has fallen for the misinformation. The vast majority of those individuals scampering out of the shop with an arm-load of .223 are of the "tacti-cool" variety. There are a goodly number of folks that actually ask: "What is the deal with the ban on two-two-three ammo?" And I happily explain it to them. Strangely enough, while the sales of ammo have spiked, the sales of "black rifles" have not. I find that a bit amusing actually.
It does indicate that pretty much everyone who wants an AR has an AR, doesn't it?

Just by coincidence I recently purchased 500 SS109 projectiles when they went on sale at one of the major mail-order vendors.  I don't shoot M855 (I handload) but these were such a good deal I thought I'd give them a try and see how they compare accuracy-wise against my normal Hornady 75 grain BTHPs.

What I told Merchant O'D was, I'm waiting for the DoD to take a second shot (so to speak) at making once-fired military brass unavailable to reloaders.  After all, the mantra of The Other Side™ is, "The philosophy cannot be wrong!  Do it again, ONLY HARDER!!"

Saturday, February 28, 2015

I Feel Like I've Been Through This Already....

"Amazing Grace" on bagpipes always makes me cloud up.


And this image says a great deal:

 photo 3-Down.jpg

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Book Recommendation: A Long Time Until Now

Michael Z. Williamson's latest, A Long Time Until Now is out in Baen's eARC (electronic Advanced Reader Copy) edition.  I read the twelve sample chapters Monday, bought the book yesterday and just now finished it.

The précis is that two MRAP vehicles containing a Lieutenant and nine troops in a convoy in Afghanistan vanish from the present and end up about 15 centuries millennia in the past in the same physical location.  There are natives.  And later, other groups displaced from other times and places.

That was a GREAT read, and this one's not a trilogy you have to wait two years for the next serving of.  Strongly recommended.

Quote of the Day - GeekWitha.45 Edition

From a comment to yesterday's post:
One of my old friends, a scholar of Talmud and Kaballah, once opined that there was a really important reason $DEITY led Moses and the Israelites around the desert for 40 years between their deliverance from slavery and arrival at the promised land, and it had little to do with petty Divine annoyance on the subject of golden calfs. It was, he explained, to give that society time to let the slave generation die off and train the new generation to conditions of self reliance, to become people fit to determine their own fate. I think there's a lot to that. Slave instincts of servility are pernicious, and difficult for even the hardiest to shake off.
The Geek's comment produced this, from reader Magus (edited for clarity):
That one concept has set off a chain of thought within me that makes me weep for the future.

The American Revolution will probably be unique in the rest of human history. There are no more frontiers. There are no more areas where people can learn that they are or can become competent in managing their own life. Now there's always an "agency" to take your problem to. And if you don't take your issue to the appropriate "agency" you are punished.

We are among the last generations that will know anything like freedom or liberty. Privacy, for the most part, has already been destroyed. If you say anything like that to the majority of people now they'll tell you that "you're batshit crazy".

Freedom is not comfortable or stable, and people want comfort and stability.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn once said:
In a state of psychological weakness, weapons become a burden for the capitulating side. To defend oneself, one must also be ready to die; there is little such readiness in a society raised in the cult of material well-being. Nothing is left, then, but concessions, attempts to gain time and betrayal.
I believe they're both describing the same condition.

And I am reminded once more of the words of the Rev. Donald Sensing from 2003:
I predict that the Bush administration will be seen by freedom-wishing Americans a generation or two hence as the hinge on the cell door locking up our freedom. When my children are my age, they will not be free in any recognizably traditional American meaning of the word. I'd tell them to emigrate, but there's nowhere left to go. I am left with nauseating near-conviction that I am a member of the last generation in the history of the world that is minimally truly free.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

"When dealing with guns, the citizen acts at his peril."

This is the second post I've given this same title. The previous one also dealt with the state of New Jersey, and referenced an earlier case, State v. Pelleteri from which the quote originated. In that case, an instructor, gun collector and avid shooter was found to be in possession of a Marlin Model 60 tube-fed semi-automatic .22 rimfire rifle with a magazine capacity that exceeded the arbitrary limit of fifteen rounds as established by the New Jersey legislature. That made it an "assault weapon," and verboten to possess in that "dark and fascist state," as ex-New Jerseyite GeekWithA.45 has characterized it.

The New Jersey Superior Court proclaimed, as it upheld Mr. Pelleteri's conviction, "When dealing with guns, the citizen acts at his peril."

Many residents of the dark and fascist state have learned that lesson since.

The most recent is 72 year-old Gordon Van Gilder, arrested for transporting a pistol without a concealed-carry permit. A 300 year-old flintlock pistol. An unloaded 300 year-old flintlock pistol that not even the BATFE considers a "firearm."

Someone on Facebook posted the graphic below. I think it needs to be tattooed on the foreheads of every member of the New Jersey legislature and every sitting judge in the New Jersey court system:

 photo flintlock-arrest.jpg

It's not about guns. It's about control.

UPDATE:  As of 2/25 the prosecutor in question used "prosecutorial discretion" to drop the case.  So they're not completely insane there, just close.

Friday, February 20, 2015

If We're Lucky, They'll Treat Us Like Pets

That's a quote from Science-fiction author Vernor Vinge on the topic of artificial intelligences after "The Singularity."

Howard Tayler (of Schlock Mercenary fame) has a short-story take on the question.

Monday, February 16, 2015

THIS Promises to be Interesting

Just got a new follower over at Quora:
Michael J. McFadden

Author, "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains" & "TobakkoNacht -- The Antismoking Endgame"

Grew up in Brooklyn, lives in Philadelphia. Background in Peace Studies, psychology, physics, basic statistical and propaganda analysis, writing, editing, nonviolence theory/training/organizing, transportation and bicycle activism, social activism in general, conflict resolution/moderation, vocal pest-control (one hour of me singing will clear most houses of all living things), and cultivating cobwebs.
I can see (obviously) massive parallels between the anti-smoking and anti-gun movements, but I have to admit that I wonder if Mr. McFadden has a blind spot when it comes to "non-violence" and guns.

Time will, I suppose, tell.