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

All politics in this country now is just dress rehearsal for civil war. -- Billy Beck

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

On the 5th Anniversary of Columbine

Via Instapundit comes this Slate piece explaining the psychological diagnoses of Harris and Kleibold. Money quote:
The first steps to understanding Columbine, they say, are to forget the popular narrative about the jocks, Goths, and Trenchcoat Mafia...and to abandon the core idea that Columbine was simply a school shooting. We can't understand why they did it until we understand what they were doing.


Harris and Klebold would have been dismayed that Columbine was dubbed the "worst school shooting in American history." They set their sights on eclipsing the world's greatest mass murderers, but the media never saw past the choice of venue. The school setting drove analysis in precisely the wrong direction.
Read the whole thing.

But, as Jed from Freedomsight points out, the anniversary of Columbine is being used as an example of why the Assault Weapon Ban must be renewed! Even though the AWB had no effect on the massacre and wouldn't have slowed Harris and Kleibold down, as they themselves said. Nor would "closing the gunshow loophole" (that doesn't exist.) Nor would "safe storage" laws nor trigger locks nor magazine disconnects nor loaded chamber indicators nor anything else the well-meaning but ignorant support.

Deliberately murdering people is illegal.

Building bombs is illegal, too.

Harris and Kleibold used a 9mm Tec-9 pistol, a 9mm Hi-Point Carbine, and two sawed-off shotguns (illegally modified - they didn't pay the required tax nor did they file the required forms). But they also employed 95 explosive devices.

Illegal explosive devices.

"Gun control" would not have stopped them. "Gun control" would not have reduced their rampage. The NRA is not at fault for their slaughter spree.

They are.
Somebody Please Explain This

A Violence Policy Center propaganda piece err, News Release shows up in Yahoo's Financial News section, verbatim, as a news story. Financial news? How so?

And yet the Left objects to the NRA trying to get its message out through the internet as "masquerading as a bona fide news outlet".

Or this piece from the "mainstream media" (in this case, Newsday) where Stuart Wilk, president of Associated Press Managing Editors and managing editor of the Dallas Morning News is quoted saying:
"I would hope that American consumers would be properly skeptical about the objectivity of a group whose stated purpose is to lobby for a specific position - in this case about gun control and gun-related legislation and activities."
And what about proper skepticism about the objectivity of groups whose stated purpose is to lobby for a specific position - in this case about gun control and gun-related legislation and activities?

The difference being that the NRA had to start its own outlet in order to get its message out. The VPC gets its "press releases" either quoted verbatim or rolled into regular "news" reports as gospel.

Can you say "Double Standard"?

I knew you could.

Here's a Story About More Dead "Mercenaries" the Left can Cheer About

Only these were translators.

Craig Drobnick of Marysville wears a bracelet of black anodized aluminum. The words etched in the metal say: Todd Drobnick, KIA 23 Nov. 03, Mosul, Iraq.

KIA means killed in action, and in a way, Craig's brother was.

A senior manager in charge of a team of translators working for San Diego defense contractor Titan Corp., Mariner High School graduate Todd Drobnick dodged 15 attacks from small-arms fire, rocket propelled grenades and homemade bombs during his last seven months.

When he died, in a head-on collision with a petroleum truck near Mosul, he wasn't a soldier. But the 35-year-old, fluent in Russian and Arabic, a veteran of the 1991 Persian Gulf War, was buried with full military honors and posthumously awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star.
I wasn't aware those honors could be given to civilians, but I don't disagree with his receiving them.
The accident that claimed Drobnick's life killed another linguist working for Titan. They were the 12th and 13th Titan translators to die in Iraq -- felled by attacks from insurgents, accidents or illness -- since major combat operations officially ended last spring. The 14th, last week, was Emad Mikha, who had managed the meat department in a supermarket in Pontiac, Mich., before he signed up with Titan to take advantage of his proficiency in Arabic.


In San Diego, Titan executives declined to comment on their linguists program. One explained privately that the company had no desire to appear as though it was seeking publicity from the tragedies. Indeed, this is a sensitive time for Titan. Lockheed Martin Corp. has offered to buy the company for $1.66 billion, but allegations that Titan made illegal payments to foreign officials have threatened to nix the deal.

The Titan Web site doesn't put a sheen on its translating jobs, which pay up to $108,000 a year, most of that tax-free: "12-hour shifts and in excess of 60-hour weeks in order to provide continuous contract linguist support that this 24x7 operation requires; must be familiar with the local culture, conduct oneself in accordance with local customs, and deal unobtrusively with the populace; must be willing and capable to live and work in a harsh environment."
See! See! Another corrupt money-grubbing corporation employing greedy mercenaries who don't even pay their fair share of taxes! F*%k 'em!

Bite me.

Give it a read.

Monday, April 19, 2004

In the Mean Time

The latest iteration of the Best of Me Symphony is up over at Sneakeasy's. I didn't get an entry in this week (see below) but my choice of the alternatives this week comes from Blogo Slovo, Political Philosophy on a Bumper Sticker. Short, sweet, and pinpoint accurate.

Life Intrudes

I'm sort of addicted to this blogging thing, as you might note from the (previous) volume of posting I've done. The Smallest Minority is now about three weeks away from its first anniversary, too, with very few pauses during that period. However, I'm ridiculously busy, my father-in-law has just had major surgery for cancer of the lower intestine, and I've been neglecting my other hobbies like shooting, reloading, and home maintenance.

Oh, and sleep.

I didn't post anything of note this weekend, just a link to Mike Spenis's humorous Nader campaign poster. Instead, I did a few honeydews, visited my father-in-law in the hospital, I shot in my first JC Garand match (shot my 1917 Enfield and scored 414 - 1X with milsurp ammo, firmly in the middle of the pack,) and my wife and I went to see The Alamo. (Good flick. Highly recommended. Billy Bob Thornton as Davy Crockett is excellent.)

I was going to enter into another discussion at another new blog, Strange and Stranger, but my opponent has failed to take the field. That's probably for the better, as I don't have time to give this blog the attention it deserves at this time. Tim Lambert has responded to my last salvo, and I haven't had time to do much other than some basic research for my next entry in that exchange. Hopefully I'll get that posted in the next two or three days.

Anyway, what I'm trying to say here is that I'm only going to be able to crank out one or maybe two posts a day for a while. Sorry. Life intrudes.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

A Nader Campaign Ad

Mike Spenis of Feces Flinging Monkey has made an excellent campaign poster for the Naderites!

Give it a look!

Friday, April 16, 2004

Three More Examples

of why Mike Ramirez (the only good thing about the LA Times) is the best political cartoonist going:

You can see more of Mike's stuff here.

They Never Ask ME reports that Children in South (are) More Likely to Die from Gun Violence, commenting on a newspaper story in the Florence Times Daily (annoying registration required). Let's fisk:
Gun violence more likely to kill kids in Alabama

By Emily Eisenberg
Medill News Service

WASHINGTON - In Alabama, a child is three times more likely to die from gun violence than a child in the Northeast, an expert at the Harvard School of Public Health says.

Decreasing this grim statistic is not just a matter of getting rid of guns, but it is treating them as a public health issue, said David Hemenway, director of Harvard's Injury Control Research Center.
Oh, how nice. Not just a matter of getting rid of guns. No, instead we must innoculate against gun violence?
The Centers for Disease Control reported in January that most deaths under the age of 40 are caused by an accident.

The most common cause of accidental death in the United States is automobile accidents. The second most common cause of these deaths is firearms.
Really? And the name of the report is? A link to the report is provided, where? And now we're defining "children" as "under the age of 40?"

Let's check the CDC, shall we? They have this wonderful tool called WISQARS that allows anybody access to the CDC statistics in really useful ways. So, let's check the most recent data, year 2001 for unintentional death, under the age of 40, entire U.S, all races, both sexes: 39,365. Now, what was the portion due to automobile? 23,663. Now, what was the portion of unintentional death by firearm? 470.

BUT, to be fair, the report does say "gun violence," however I don't think you're supposed to really grasp the difference. (Edit: Screw it. I don't want to be "fair." This writer certainly didn't intend to be.

Study carefully the construction of this story. You're supposed to assume that the "second most common cause of death" is firearm accident. HORSESHIT! Note how carefully the writer juxtaposes "accident", "automobile accident" and "firearms" - this time without the modifier, "accident." End Edit.)

This is, after all, a story about children, remember? I'll come back to this.
"Where there's more guns, there's more gun homicides; where there's more guns, there's more gun suicides," said Hemenway.
Well! There's a tautology for you. I guess it takes a Harvard doctorate to state something as obvious as that.
"I wouldn't expect it any other way," said Florence Police Chief Rick Singleton. He said the problem with weapons is the way "people handle and treat them."

Hemenway, while presenting the findings of his new book, "Private Guns, Public Health," said government should regulate guns the way it regulates traffic. Guns differ from almost all other consumer products because there is no regulatory agency in charge of managing their manufacture and distribution, he added.
Uhh.... What? "Government should regulate guns the way it regulates traffic??" I wasn't aware that the Consumer Product Safety Commission was in charge of traffic control. Harvard, eh?

Just out of curiosity, what government agency is responsible for managing "manufacture and distribution" of automobiles? Isn't that the purview of the manufacturers themselves? There's a government agent in each manufacturing facility controlling the production lines and approving the distribution plans?
Since the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration was established several decades ago to make automobiles safer, automobile fatalities have decreased 80 percent. The Harvard School of Public Health reported a regulatory agency would have a similar impact on firearm deaths.
One problem with that. Automobiles are designed to transport passengers from point A to point B. Firearms are designed to hurl small metal projectiles at high velocity in the general direction they're pointed when the trigger is pulled. How do you make them safe? Make them fire Nerf balls? Make them not fire when the trigger is pulled? Kinda defeats the purpose, no?

Another point: There are maybe 250 million vehicles on the roads today (I didn't go look it up, it's a wild-ass guess.) Most of them are less than 20 years old. They wear out. They're replaced on a fairly regular basis. The safety improvements applied to vehicles were not statutorily required of older vehicles on the road. If you own a 1955 Chevy, it has seatbelts only if YOU put them in. There's no law requiring it. No airbags, either. No third brake light. But there are (by several estimates) 250,000,000 firearms in private hands. New "safety requirements" would affect only the additional two million long guns and one million new handguns that enter the market each year. And those older guns aren't built with "planned obsolescence" in the design. My 1917 Enfield still works perfectly. So does my 1896 Swedish Mauser, built in 1916. A Colt 1911 made in 1927 probably works just as well as the one I bought new in 1999.

The argument that guns need to be regulated so that they will be "made safer" is asinine. It is false on its face, yet reports like this one keep putting the idea out in front of the public as a "common-sense" proposal.

But keep reading, because this piece is just like all the others in inflating just what that "federal oversight" needs to encompass.
Because the trafficking of illegal firearms between states is such a large problem, Hemenway said that such a regulatory agency should be at the federal level rather than with the states.
Another bait-and-switch. First, the agency is supposed to regulate the design of firearms to ostensibly make them safer, but now the agency is supposed to be responsible for illegal trafficking? Isn't that just a bit of a leap from the original "regulatory" function? I wasn't aware that the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration was in charge of "regulating" automobile theft and chop shops.
"There are lots of things we could do, lots of policies that wouldn't affect people's ability to own guns for hunting," Hemenway said.
However, the Second Amendment isn't about hunting. I own at least a dozen firearms, and I don't hunt. What about my guns?

Oh, right. "Decreasing this grim statistic is not just a matter of getting rid of guns."

Gotta ban and confiscate those "non-hunting" weapons.
He said federal regulation of firearms licensing and childproofing are some possible ways to address gun danger from a public health standpoint.
More mission-creep, and we haven't even established the regulatory agency! NOW the agency is responsible for: "safer" gun designs, illegal trafficking, and licensing!

And this is for public health, remember.
Alabama, like many other states in the South, is among the states with the highest levels of gun ownership in the country. The Rocky Mountain region also has high levels of gun ownership, while the northeastern part of the nation has a relatively small amount of guns.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence's annual report card gave Alabama an "F" in keeping kids safe from guns.

"Alabama does not require child-safety locks to be sold with guns, does not hold adults responsible for leaving loaded guns around children and does not have any safety standards for handguns," the Brady Campaign said recently. A spokesman at the organization said it strongly supports Hemenway's suggestion for a federal handgun regulation agency.
And now we're back to the supposed heart of the article: The Children™

You remember: "Gun violence more likely to kill kids in Alabama"? "In Alabama, a child is three times more likely to die from gun violence than a child in the Northeast"? Where "kids" is apparently defined as "under 40." Read that paragraph carefully: Child-safety locks. Loaded guns around children.

So, how many accidental deaths of children were there in Alabama to justify a new federal regulatory agency with sweeping powers to control firearm design, illegal firearm trafficking, and gun owner licensing?

Well, if you define "children" as those 17 or younger, there were six in 2001.

Of course there's the obligatory mention of the writer's attempt to be "balanced:"
Organizations like the National Rifle Association argue that the regulations the Brady Campaign proposes would decrease gun-owners constitutional rights, but a spokesperson at the NRA was not available for comment about Hemenway's findings.
Here you go, Ms. Eisenberg. All the commentary you'd ever want.

Not that you'd ever print it.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Oddly, I Feel Much the Same About the Republicans

Instapundit links to an excellent piece by Gerard Van Der Leun of American Digest, entitled The Degeneration of the Democratic Party. Excerpts:
Politics is a profession founded on hypocrisy. This we all know. But, at the same time, we also need a politics that somewhere within it has a shred of uncompromised decency and more than a little courage. Neither of these qualities is self-evident in the Democratic Party today. There's not a lot in the Republicans either, but it at least is measurable even if it still is in short-measure.
Bush-Hate, racism, calls for the death of Republican cabinet members, snide innuendo, joy at the death of Americans in Iraq, the endless political thumbsucking of the 911 Commission, and there's more on the way, much more. It's a tired, sick and crazed political party that is so greedy and hungry for power that it will do anything, including selling this country down the drain, to get it back. I'll have no more to do with it. I'm not the only one.
Read the whole thing.


UPDATE: Link fixed. D'OH!

Tuesday, April 13, 2004


I subscribe to Merriam-Websters Word of the Day. I receive an email each morning with a new word, its definition, and its use in a sentence. Here's todays:
The Word of the Day for Apr 13 is:

pertinacious \per-tuh-NAY-shuss\ adjective

1 a: adhering resolutely to an opinion or purpose b : perversely persistent
2 : stubbornly unyielding or tenacious

Example sentence:
The professor spent much of the class hour in debate with a pertinacious student about gun control.

Did you know?
If you say "pertinacious" out loud, it might sound familiar. That may be because if you take away the word's first syllable, you're left with something very similar to the word "tenacious," which means "tending to adhere or cling." The similarity between "pertinacious" and "tenacious" isn't mere coincidence; both words ultimately derive from "tenax," the Latin word for "tenacious," and ultimately from the verb "tençre," meaning "to hold." But "pertinacious" and "tenacious" aren't completely interchangeable. Both can mean "persistent," but "pertinacious" suggests an annoying or irksome persistence, while the less critical "tenacious" implies strength in maintaining or adhering to something valued or habitual.
D'you think someone at Merriam-Webster reads this blog?
I HATE IT When I Can't Find a Link!

While surfing last night I found something so simple and obvious that it literally caused me to laugh out loud that I hadn't thought of it myself. The new liberal talk-radio network, 'Air America,' which has been rightfully ridiculed for numerous things (not the least of which being the fact that it's named after the CIA front air transport company of the Vietnam era) is now on the air, and failing miserably. Put forward as an antithesis to Rush Limbaugh and his "dittoheads," someone yesterday put forth the idea that "Air America" fans should be rightly named... wait for it....


And now I can't find the link to credit the source, dammit. If anybody knows, drop me a line.

Damn, the cluelessness of the left is sometimes awe-inspiring.

UPDATE: Reader Jay found the link. It comes from Robert Cox of The National Debate:
NOTE: I continue to do my best to listen to Air America and am hereby coining the phrase "Airhead" to refer to persons making dopey comments on Air America Radio. Feel free to use this term as needed. I will issue Airhead Alerts as appropriate on this web site.

Human Nature Doesn't Change

I found this quiz through a piece over at What We Mean. It seems that some commenters at Little Green Footballs echo the opinions of the Nazis when it comes to genocide. The quiz tests your ability to determine which quotes are from LGF commenters and which from Nazis. I took it, and scored 69%. It's not that difficult, but the similarities between the (admittedly) cherry-picked comments are pronounced.

The point of the original piece seems to be: "The horrible evil commenters who are supported (or at least not censured) by LGF are Nazis!" (And it's not a logical long-jump to the implication: "All right-wingers are closet Nazis in favor of the genocide of our little brown brethren," either.)

My take on it? This is the thing I don't understand - why do many people seem to insist on believing that Germans during 1936-1945 are somehow different from humans from any other time? Or that the really evil Nazi's were just a tiny fraction of the population? Human nature is human nature. People who think this way have always existed, and they can sway others to believe the same way.

That's how people become convinced that it's a good thing to see their sons and daughters strap bombs onto their bodies and climb onto buses.

Humans have an almost unlimited ability to go insane in so many different ways. Go read for the flip-side.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Ah! Another Example of Cranio-Rectal Inversion!

Seems that 60 Minutes curmudgeon Andy Rooney is but the latest victim of this non-fatal but viciously brain-damaging affliction. I'd write something suitably pithy in response, but the Heartless Libertarian has already done so.

That last line juuuust about says it all, there, Heartless.


UPDATE: For those commenters suggesting that Andy Rooney didn't write this piece, here's another link to the same essay in the Buffalo (NY) News. If Rooney didn't write it, I'd imagine he'd have issued a protest by now.
Is a Symphony better than a Carnival?

A new blogmeme (is that a word?) has started, the "Best of Me Symphony," in which blog authors are invited to send in older posts they're particularly proud of or feel need to be viewed again. This week's Symphony, the 19th, is hosted by Blogo Slovo, and my entry is first!

The Symphony is the brainchild of Jim Peacock of Snooze Button Dreams. As Jim explains it:
This post compilation meme is structured like the Carnival of the Vanities but concentrates on the best posts from the history of weblogs. Post submission criteria are very simple. The post must be at least 2 months old and the submitter must think it is a very good post. How easy is that?
Easy enough. This is my second entry. The best part of the concept, IMHO, is this:
Note that a post does not have to be submitted by its author so readers and lurkers with or without their own weblogs may contribute.
Perused the archives of someone's site and found something that knocked your socks off? Forward the link to Jim.

Helluva good idea.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Stream of Consciousness

It's interesting (at least to me) the things that go "click!" in my head while I'm reading stuff. Things I come across throughout the day, or the week, or the month will ferment in the recesses of my psyche until they're distilled into a thought. Or they just rot back there until flushed away...

Anyway, due in part to our recent sparring sessions, I spent some time this afternoon back over at Tim Lambert's Deltoid where last week I took a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test that told me I was an INTJ (Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Judging) personality type. I didn't at that time follow the links to see what that was supposed to mean, but I did note that Tim's type was INTP (Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Perceiving,) not far at all from mine. This evening I went back and followed the links and read this assessment of the INTJ personality type:
To outsiders, INTJs may appear to project an aura of "definiteness", of self-confidence. This self-confidence, sometimes mistaken for simple arrogance by the less decisive, is actually of a very specific rather than a general nature; its source lies in the specialized knowledge systems that most INTJs start building at an early age. When it comes to their own areas of expertise -- and INTJs can have several -- they will be able to tell you almost immediately whether or not they can help you, and if so, how. INTJs know what they know, and perhaps still more importantly, they know what they don't know.

INTJs are perfectionists, with a seemingly endless capacity for improving upon anything that takes their interest. What prevents them from becoming chronically bogged down in this pursuit of perfection is the pragmatism so characteristic of the type: INTJs apply (often ruthlessly) the criterion "Does it work?" to everything from their own research efforts to the prevailing social norms.
(Guilty!) This in turn produces an unusual independence of mind, freeing the INTJ from the constraints of authority, convention, or sentiment for its own sake.

INTJs are known as the "Systems Builders" of the types, perhaps in part because they possess the unusual trait combination of imagination and reliability. Whatever system an INTJ happens to be working on is for them the equivalent of a moral cause to an INFJ; both perfectionism and disregard for authority may come into play, as INTJs can be unsparing of both themselves and the others on the project. Anyone considered to be "slacking," including superiors, will lose their respect -- and will generally be made aware of this; INTJs have also been known to take it upon themselves to implement critical decisions without consulting their supervisors or co-workers. On the other hand, they do tend to be scrupulous and even-handed about recognizing the individual contributions that have gone into a project, and have a gift for seizing opportunities which others might not even notice.

In the broadest terms, what INTJs "do" tends to be what they "know". Typical INTJ career choices are in the sciences and engineering,
(Guilty!) but they can be found wherever a combination of intellect and incisiveness are required (e.g., law, some areas of academia). INTJs can rise to management positions when they are willing to invest time in marketing their abilities as well as enhancing them, and (whether for the sake of ambition or the desire for privacy) many also find it useful to learn to simulate some degree of surface conformism in order to mask their inherent unconventionality.

Personal relationships, particularly romantic ones, can be the INTJ's Achilles heel. While they are capable of caring deeply for others (usually a select few), and are willing to spend a great deal of time and effort on a relationship, the knowledge and self-confidence that make them so successful in other areas can suddenly abandon or mislead them in interpersonal situations.

This happens in part because many INTJs do not readily grasp the social rituals; for instance, they tend to have little patience and less understanding of such things as small talk and flirtation (which most types consider half the fun of a relationship).
(Also guilty!) To complicate matters, INTJs are usually extremely private people, and can often be naturally impassive as well, which makes them easy to misread and misunderstand. Perhaps the most fundamental problem, however, is that INTJs really want people to make sense. (Absolutely, positively guilty!) This sometimes results in a peculiar naiveté, paralleling that of many Fs -- only instead of expecting inexhaustible affection and empathy from a romantic relationship, the INTJ will expect inexhaustible reasonability and directness.

Probably the strongest INTJ assets in the interpersonal area are their intuitive abilities and their willingness to "work at" a relationship. Although as Ts they do not always have the kind of natural empathy that many Fs do, the Intuitive function can often act as a good substitute by synthesizing the probable meanings behind such things as tone of voice, turn of phrase, and facial expression. This ability can then be honed and directed by consistent, repeated efforts to understand and support those they care about, and those relationships which ultimately do become established with an INTJ tend to be characterized by their robustness, stability, and good communications.
I found this fascinating, because the actual personality test is laughably simple, but this description fits my personality to a tee. My wife emphatically agrees. She told me to frame the printout for future reference.

Then I read the personality profile for Tim, INTP:
INTPs are pensive, analytical folks. They may venture so deeply into thought as to seem detached, and often actually are oblivious to the world around them.

Precise about their descriptions, INTPs will often correct others (or be sorely tempted to) if the shade of meaning is a bit off. While annoying to the less concise, this fine discrimination ability gives INTPs so inclined a natural advantage as, for example, grammarians and linguists.

INTPs are relatively easy-going and amenable to most anything until their principles are violated, about which they may become outspoken and inflexible. They prefer to return, however, to a reserved albeit benign ambiance, not wishing to make spectacles of themselves.

A major concern for INTPs is the haunting sense of impending failure. They spend considerable time second-guessing themselves. The open-endedness (from Perceiving) conjoined with the need for competence (NT) is expressed in a sense that one's conclusion may well be met by an equally plausible alternative solution, and that, after all, one may very well have overlooked some critical bit of data. An INTP arguing a point may very well be trying to convince himself as much as his opposition. In this way INTPs are markedly different from INTJs, who are much more confident in their competence and willing to act on their convictions.

Mathematics is a system where many INTPs love to play, similarly languages, computer systems--potentially any complex system. INTPs thrive on systems. Understanding, exploring, mastering, and manipulating systems can overtake the INTP's conscious thought. This fascination for logical wholes and their inner workings is often expressed in a detachment from the environment, a concentration where time is forgotten and extraneous stimuli are held at bay. Accomplishing a task or goal with this knowledge is secondary.

INTPs and Logic -- One of the tipoffs that a person is an INTP is her obsession with logical correctness. Errors are not often due to poor logic -- apparent faux pas in reasoning are usually a result of overlooking details or of incorrect context.
(Portions in red are my emphasis.)

Tim is a professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of New South Wales, Australia.

Then, later this evening I was reading Megan McArdle (Jane Galt) concerning the Rice testimony before the witch hunt, err, 9/11 Commission, wherein Megan said:
The energy expended trying to blame this failure on someone--George Tenet, Louis Freeh, Condoleezza Rice, or whoever--goes beyond mere regular partisan bashing. It seems to me to express an underlying conviction that of course someone could have stopped this - it's only a question of who. For the commission, especially, it's an unacceptable answer; they simply cannot turn to a frightened American public and tell them that it's really too bad, but we live in a scary world.
Not that this is any kind of earth-shattering revelation, but it struck me - once again - how it is that people justify civilian disarmament to themselves.

It's somebody else's responsibility to stop evil.

If one is detached from, and even oblivious to the world around them; if one is immersed in the theoretical without acknowledging what actually works versus what is ideal; then one can build a philosophy that justifies acknowledging a right to self-defense, but at the same time justifies complete civilian disarmament. That philosophy must deny that "we live in a scary world," and it must rely on someone else to be responsible. In this case, some unknown person or persons in the employ of the government. The idea that it's a scary world and that people in this world do evil things with intent is something that has to be avoided, because it runs contrary to the philosophy. The philosophy says that if everyone (save the government) is disarmed, then people will stop doing bad things. If you are attacked, the responsible party is not the attacker, it's that ephemeral other who is responsible for your safety and failed to secure it.

It's a wonderful theory, but it doesn't match reality.

It doesn't WORK in this scary world we live in.

On the other hand, from a pragmatist's viewpoint (mine), recognizing the actual risk means acknowledging that my probability of being on the receiving end of a violent encounter is pretty damned low - but non-zero. I know what I know, and I'm acutely aware of what I don't know. It also means acknowledging that the odds of a government official being present to protect me and mine is at the critical moment approaches even closer to zero, so I'd prefer the option of being armed - just in case. I therefore strongly object when others, who don't seem to acknowledge that "we live in a scary world," want to tell me I can't because doing so is in violation of their philosophical world-construct.

I acknowledge their world-view. I just understand that it's wrong.

I guess that appears as "simple arrogance to the less decisive," eh?

Remember: Only Four More Days Until BAG Day II!

Aaron reminds us that April 15 fast approaches. Not Tax Day, but Buy A Gun Day II.

I've already got mine, the Makarov I bought for my birthday. But if you got something back from Uncle Sugar due to Dubya's tax cuts, consider picking up something that'll piss off Michael Moore or Diane Feinstein, or at least get their panties in a bunch. Consider what you have to choose from!

A "Saturday Night Special" (for those of you with less discretionary cash,) an inexpensive firearm like a used S&W Model 10 .38 Special revolver.

A "Pocket Rocket" - for those a bit more well-heeled - a small handgun in a large caliber, like a Kimber Ultra CDP II

For those of you who prefer long guns, how about an "intermediate-range sniper rifle," as the VPC likes to call them? In this case a Savage 10FP. (Yowsa! I'd like one of those!) or something less pricey, like a standard Model 10 GXP package. Either one will let you "reach out and touch" your target.

Or, for you scattergun enthusiasts, perhaps something for home protection? (Already got mine.)

And, of course, the pièce de résistance (assuming you aren't willing to wait for the sunset of the AWB) there's always the option of an FN-FAL, or an AR-15.

And finally, the gun that strikes fear in all those armored-limousine liberals, the mighty .50 BMG rifle! For the budget-minded there's the single-shot Armalite AR-50, a mere $2,745.00 retail, complete with "Owners Manual, Lifetime Warranty, Tylenol and Ear Plugs." But no ammo. Or for those who have earned a really good living exploited the downtrodden workers, there's the semi-auto Barrett Model 82A1, a mere $7,300 retail, and the "weapon of choice" of criminals across these United States. Just ask the good Senator.

Well, there are just a few ideas for you. Now, go forth and shop! The recovery of the economy rests on your shoulders!

Reprinted Without Permission of the Author

Mostly because I have no idea how to locate him.

Back in 2001 I wrote on a site that no longer exists, C. Dodd Harris of Ipse Dixit was also a contributor. It was, sort of, the largest joint blog going, with neatly subdivided topics. The thing that surprised me (and in retrospect probably shouldn't have) was the volume of really high-quality writing. There are a lot of intelligent people out there who just need an outlet, it seems. Anyway, I archived quite a bit of the stuff I found over there, and I ran across this piece this morning while looking for something else. I liked it enough then to save it, so I thought you too might enjoy it. The author is John M. Bennett. Mr. Bennett, if you'd like me to yank it, drop me a note.
Picknicking for Peace

by John M. Bennett, Feb. 2, 2001

Because the tone of political discourse in this nation has become rather hateful, I decided to ask two friends, one very liberal, the other very conservative, to join me for a quiet lunch in the country. I thought a peaceful setting and the sociability of sharing food would help us discuss our differences with civility.

We found a pretty spot near a stream that had very little trash along the banks. An old sofa and a pile of tires nearby were overgrown by vines, so the splendor of nature was virtually unspoiled. Leslie, the liberal, and Conrad, the conservative, followed me toward a large willow tree whose trunk had been elaborately decorated with primitive engravings and paintings. "Why don’t we set up under this tree?" I said.

"I’m a lesbian!" Leslie exclaimed.

"I ain’t no homo!" Conrad replied. They glared at each other.

"Maybe we should have some food before we start the discussion," I suggested.

Leslie glared at me now. "Do you have a problem with my sexuality?" she demanded.

"No, I was just wondering where we should sit."

"I ain’t no homo!" Conrad said, who was also glaring at me.

"Okay, I guess that’s all straightened out. Should we sit under this tree?"

Leslie punched me in the shoulder. "It’s none of your business how I express my sexuality, and your homophobia is interfering with my happiness!

Conrad took a few steps away from me and reached under his jacket. "You one of them homophobiacs?"

"Easy, Conrad. I’m just trying to figure out where we should eat. Should we take a vote?"

"Why bother?" Leslie said. "You two men have already decided, and Conrad has a gun. My rights have been violated before I even had a chance." She fell to the grass and began sobbing.

Nobody had a better location to suggest, so I spread a blanket next to Leslie and brought out the food. Since Conrad and Leslie seemed a little touchy, I decided to serve them. When they had their sandwiches, potato salad, and chips, I went to the ice chest for drinks. I noticed that Leslie had pulled out a calculator and was furiously calculating.

"How many potato chips did Conrad get?" she asked me.

"I didn’t count them, Leslie. Would you like some more chips? And would you rather have a Coke or iced tea?"

"I want to know how many potato chips the men got!"

"Okay. Conrad, count your chips, would you please? Coke or iced tea?"

Conrad didn’t answer. He was staring at something in the tree. "Be right back," he said. He ran off to his truck, ran back with a rifle. "There's a crow up there."

"Uh, that’s kind of a big rifle for crow, isn’t it?"

"Thirty-aught-six," he agreed. "It’ll splash a crow from here to kingdom come." He looked away from the tree to give me an Eastwood squint. "You trying to say I can’t own a gun?"

"Not at all. Just seems kind of heavy for shooting crows at a picnic. Besides, there are some houses over that way." I pointed to a neighborhood across the stream.

He didn’t quite aim the gun directly at me. "You can have my gun—"

"Easy, Conrad, I don’t want to pry your cold dead fingers off of anything, I was just saying—"

Leslie punched me in the shoulder again. "You know why people like you want to shoot crows?"

"But I’m not shooting any crows."

"Shut up! You want to shoot crows because they’re black. You can’t get away with shooting black men and raping black women, so you kill crows as a symbol of your hatred."

"But I don’t hate black people. I don’t even hate crows. I just want to be sure you have enough potato chips and something to drink."


Leslie fell to the ground, sobbing. "You killed him, you killed him! That poor, innocent, harmless, beautiful, tolerant, gentle, wise creature of the open sky and the lofty breezes."

I handed her a glass of tea. "It's okay, Leslie. I think he missed."

"It doesn’t matter! Shooting at a bird is just the same as killing a person. It’s like he killed me!"

Conrad had gone back to his truck to stow his rifle. "Conrad? Could you do me a big favor and apologize to Leslie for making her feel like you killed her?"

"I ain’t apologizing to no lesbo. And I ain’t no homo!"

"I know, Conrad, you’re a manly man with mediocre shooting skills. Still, I think it would be nice—"

Someone’s hand was in my pocket. I spun around to see that Leslie had lifted my wallet and was pulling out a twenty-dollar bill. "What are you doing?" I asked.

"I’m going to a fundraiser for the beached whales after the picnic, and I need some money."

"But I was going to buy groceries. And I need some gas to get home."

Leslie glared. "Gas is evil." She took the rest of my money and handed back my wallet. "Besides, don’t you even care about the beached whales? They’re smarter than people, you know."

"It’s not that I don’t care, I’m just not personally acquainted with this particular whale."

"Can’t be that smart a whale," Conrad added, "if he can’t swim well enough to miss an entire beach."

"It’s a she, not a he!" Leslie punched me again before she continued to Conrad. "Why do you always assume that the male is the dominant one in every situation? It’s a she-whale and her baby, or it could be her and her baby if she decided to reproduce, which is entirely up to her."

"I get it," Conrad said. "It’s okay for a slut whale to act however she wants, but if she’s a respectable married whale that goes to church, she’s got no rights."

"I get it," Leslie replied. "A male whale can nail as many female whales as he wants, but if a female whale has just one partner, she’s a slut."

We seemed to be losing the spirit of civility, so I tried to change the subject. "Conrad, did you count your potato chips yet?"

He made a fist and smashed his potato chips into a pile of chiplets. "Looks like about half a million."

Leslie began sobbing. "I only got sixty-four. I’ve been discriminated against by more than one hundred thousand percent." She shoved her calculator in front of my face. "See? The numbers are right there, and you can’t deny it. Besides, it’s solar-powered. I don’t believe in batteries."

"I’m sorry, Leslie. Please take my chips. You can have my sandwich, too."

Conrad punched me on the other shoulder. "What do you got against guns anyway? You some kind of wimp? You trying to make me feel second-class?"

"I’m sorry, Conrad. I wasn’t trying to make you feel bad. I own a gun myself, you know."

"Is there sugar in this tea?" Leslie said, gagging. "White sugar? Do you know how they treat those poor, oppressed farmers who grow and harvest the sugar cane?

"I’m sorry, Leslie. I won’t buy any more white sugar."

She snorted. "So you’re going to starve the sugar farmers so you can feel like you’re making a difference?"

"I’m sorry. I’ll buy more white sugar."

Conrad punched me. "You buying that foreign sugar? What about all those poor American farmers growing American sugar who are going hungry just so you can save a few pennies?"

"I’m sorry. I’ll buy more sugar from them, too."

Leslie punched me. "So you care more about your sweet tooth than you do about the beached whales?"

"I said I’m sorry! I’ll make some caramel and send it to the damn whales!"

They both stared at me in shock. "God," Leslie said. "You’re just full of hate and anger, aren’t you?"

Conrad nodded. "Can’t talk to someone like you who takes everything as some kind of personal attack."

"I’m sorry. I’ll try to be more civil. Would anyone like more potato salad? Another sandwich?"

Conrad jumped up and pointed. "Look at that. There’s an ambulance and a bunch of cops pulling up to that house. Looks like they’re taking a body out."

"Probably some hateful, fat, white man who had a heart attack from too much white sugar," Leslie suggested. "No great loss."

"Probably some homo lesbo who died of homo-AIDS," Conrad countered. "No great loss."

I could see that several of the people gathered around the house were pointing in our direction. "Listen, friends, maybe we should be going."

While I packed the picnic gear, Leslie calculated the effect of potato chip discrimination on her earning potential, and Conrad tossed empty beer cans from his truck into the stream. As I loaded the stuff in the car, I felt a large splat on top of my head. A crow was just flying away, cawing bitterly.

Before I could wipe it off, several police cars arrived. The officers surrounded me, guns drawn, chests puffed out for the television cameras that had followed them. "Don’t move!" their leader yelled. One of the cameramen shook his head, and the leader had to repeat himself several times before they got the sound just right. The cameraman finally nodded, and the leader continued. "You been doing some shooting around here, have you?"

"Not me. You see, Conrad was shooting at a crow—"

"With those houses nearby?"

"Yes, sir. I tried to warn him—"

"So you knew there was a danger to innocent people, and you did nothing to stop it. Is that right?"

"That’s not right! I was trying to stop him, but Leslie distracted me—"

"Ho, ho, ho! Disrespect and denial. Looks like someone’s going to spend his jail time in anger management and sensitivity training classes."

"Disrespect and denial? But I didn’t shoot—"

"You have crow crap on your head. That’s all we need to know. Take him away!"

As I sat in the car, handcuffed, hungry, waiting for the cops to finish their interviews, Conrad tapped on the window. "Sorry you got busted, wimp. Thanks for the chips."

A few seconds later, Leslie finished her interview, and she tapped on the window, too. "You know what your problem is? You never listen to other people. I’m going to tell the whale that you hate her."

I couldn’t be sure, but as they drove me away, I thought I saw the reporters trying to get a statement from the crow. I was satisfied. We had definitely made progress.

It is hell being reasonable, isn't it?

Nuke the gay baby whales for Jesus!
Crucifixion Commission to be Formed

April 11, 2004
(The gospel according to Donks)
12 Apostles Knew in Advance

Reuters, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS and AP are reporting that the Romans and Jewish leaders are not responsible for Christ's crucifixion. They claim the 12 apostles had advance warning about this in a dinner meeting they had with Jesus prior to the crucifixion. Calls are now being made for a formal comission to be formed to investigate the events leading up to that day to determine just who knew what and when they knew it. The commission's star witness is said to be Judas who served with Jesus prior to the crucifixion

Stolen shamelessly from Curmudgeonly & Skeptical who... well, follow the links.)

UPDATE: From the comments at FreeRepublic - "Continuing investigation into the Cross: was it built by Halliburton?"

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Unintended Consequences

Private industry and individual genius is what has always driven the small-arms market. The recent panty-bunching fear of the .50BMG rifle as a "weapon of war" is but one example. The .50 caliber cartridge and the M2 machinegun were the products of the individual genius of John Moses Browning, but the use of the .50 BMG round in long-range precision rifles was the brainchild of a few dedicated experimenters, brought to commercial success by Ron Barrett, and they were shot for recreation and in competition long before they were adopted by militaries as "weapons of war."

The Geek has some excerpts that illustrate what happens when the civilian market is stifled by idiotic laws, and how detrimental it can be to our military.

Give it a read.

Write your congresscritters.

Friday, April 09, 2004

This is Why Socialism Never Really Catches On

(And this is why I read Feces Flinging Monkey. How does he find this stuff?)

The mysteries of tipping the maître d' to get into a posh restaurant.

I'll never have a use for the information, seeing as I consider a decent lasagne haute cuisine, and dismiss most restaurants described in the piece as serving "foo-foo food," but the psychology behind it is as old as man.

Hmm... Maybe I will have a use for it someday. Just not at a restaurant.
I Wondered How He Was Planning to Pull it Off

Wayne Stayskal, Tampa Tribune.

Lileks Cuts to the Heart

In today's Bleat:
Listened to Dr. Rice’s testimony today while cleaning, doing puzzles, coloring – the usual morning routine. I thought she did okay. But the 9/11 commission has changed my view of the administration. I now believe that if Al Gore had been president, he would have invaded Afghanistan right away, fortified the cockpit doors, issued an executive order that made the CIA and FBI share intel, grounded all planes the moment “chatter” started mentioning “a winged victory, like the bird of righteousness,” and subjected all young Arab males to full-body searches in airports. Pakistan would have come around to our point of view right away.


I Pound My Head Against the Wall Because it Feels So Good When I Stop

(We now return to our original programming)

Tim Lambert and I are attempting to discuss self-defense and weapon regulation. In an odd mix of blog comments and posts that is probably hard for anybody but us (and maybe even us) to follow, this is the latest entry in that exchange. It started with this post, continued in the comment section, then that spawned this later post by Tim. I could not reply in the comment section of that post, so my response is below, here. Tim's response to that is in the comments to that prior post. Whew! And now I'm responding here.

A bit more background: The problem here, as I see it, is that Tim and I have entirely different perspectives based on entirely different philosophies. The philosophy that I believe Tim adheres to has led to the disarmament of UK citizens under the mistaken belief that it would make them safer. I believe, as I stated earlier, that Tim and other proponents of that philosophy suffer from cognitive dissonance - an inability to recognize the error of the philosophy, as most accurately described by Steven Den Beste:
When someone tries to use a strategy which is dictated by their ideology, and that strategy doesn't seem to work, then they are caught in something of a cognitive bind. If they acknowledge the failure of the strategy, then they would be forced to question their ideology. If questioning the ideology is unthinkable, then the only possible conclusion is that the strategy failed because it wasn't executed sufficiently well. They respond by turning up the power, rather than by considering alternatives. (This is sometimes referred to as "escalation of failure".)
Because of Tim's cognitive dissonance he is forced to dismiss or ignore anything that doesn't fit the philosophy. Thus, when I ask the question,
And how is a woman to exercise her presumed inherent right to lethal force against a rapist if she's denied any means with which to do so?
three times, he finally replies with:
Restrictions on weapons might make self defence more difficult in some cases, but they can also make it easier in others.
Isn't that comforting?

The first question Tim asked me in his latest post was:
(Y)ou asserted that the statement "self defense in the UK is illegal" is "practically true". If you acknowledge that you can defend yourself without a weapon, then surely you must concede that your statement is false?
Let's see what I've said about that question so far, in chronological order:
The law there seems to be one based on "proportional response" - e.g., stabbing someone who isn't armed with a weapon is "excessive force." So is bashing them over the head with a brick. There are many of these cases, and they've lead us to the conclusion that private citizens in Britain had best not resist attack, or face prosecution for usurping the authority of the State in its monopoly on the legitimate use of force.
The appearance is that, as I said, the government guards jealously the legitimate use of force. Proles should not overstep their restrictions.
Do you find the law prohibiting honest citizens from carrying any weapon suitable for self-defense, while the law ostensibly allows you a right to defend yourself somewhat schizophrenic?

The jury is supposed to take your "instinctive" response to being attacked into account, but if you use a weapon in your defense you're immediately assumed to have had it for offensive purposes. Am I misunderstanding the (il)logic here?
Tim, the law prevents anyone from carrying anything for self-defense. A knife, pepper spray, a club, a taser, anything.

As the law has (apparently) been interpreted (and I believe it was intended) the presumption on the part of the Government is that if you carry a weapon, any weapon, you are guilty of the intent to do criminal bodily harm. Yet the law gives lip service to the concept of the right to self-defense.
Is there or is there not a right to self-defense? English law says there is, yet its laws concerning weapons make self-defense, for all intents and purposes, a lost cause. The facts are that possessing, much less using anything that the State considers a weapon makes you a criminal in its eyes. It does not seem to legally recognize any legitimate use of force by any non-government actor.
There are no "offensive" weapons. They're just weapons. Or tools. (A hammer makes quite an effective weapon. So, apparently, does a walking stick .) A knife can be a tool or a weapon as well. Pepper spray or mace can be used to disable a victim as well as an attacker . Same for a taser, or an axe handle. So too for firearms.

It's not the weapon that carries the intent - it's the user. Yet the UK government has seen fit to tell the entire population "You're not trustworthy. You cannot be trusted with any weapon, because of the chance you might use it to inflict bodily harm upon another."

At the same time, it tells them that they have a right to inflict bodily harm upon another in defense of themselves - all the way up to homicide in the case of rape - but that the infliction of harm must be restricted to a reasonable level.

Who gets to decide what was reasonable? A JURY. Which means, if you use force effectively in your own defense, especially if you used any weapon in that effective defense, you stand a very good chance of being charged with excessive use of force, and placed on trial. After all, seems to go the reasoning, if you were able to effectively defend yourself, if your attacker is wounded and you are not, or if your injuries are less serious than his, you weren't in real danger and/or you de facto used excessive force.

That high risk of prosecution effectively chills the right to self defense. Who wants to risk court? Just the costs, not to mention the possibility of conviction? The inability to have or use a weapon in your defense also chills the right. If you are overmatched, what use is resistance?
I've said that, for those so willing (a firearm is) the BEST TOOL FOR THE JOB (of self-defense). But as Mr. Lindsay demonstrates, it's hardly the "only way." Your conclusion that my "argument is logically flawed" is based on your fallacious understanding of my argument.
That's seven times I've tried to make my position perfectly clear. Here's what Tim has said in response:
I think your arguments would be more persuasive if you could actually come up with a case that supports the position that self defence is not allowed.
Kevin, you seem to be equating self defence with guns. This is doubly wrong. First, guns are far more frequently used for offensive purposes than for defensive ones. And second, guns are not the only means for self defence.
To explicitly answer your question: No, I do not find the law to be schizophrenic. Restrictions on offensive weapons do not make it impossible to defend yourself.
Restrictions on weapons might make self defence more difficult in some cases, but they can also make it easier in others (because the attacker does not have a weapon). The net effect could be to make it easier or harder on average. It certainly isn't to make it impossible.
Even if there are some rare situations where a gun is the only possible means for defence, it does not make the statement that "self defense in the UK is illegal", since that is a general statement describing all situations.
(Emphasis mine.)
Despite learning that Lindsay had chased the robber out of his home and stabbed him in the back four times, in the comments and on his blog Baker continued to insist that self defence was illegal in practice in the UK. His argument was that England's "laws concerning weapons make self-defense, for all intents and purposes, a lost cause". His argument is badly wrong for two reasons.

1. Using a weapon is not the only way to defend yourself.
2. If the law disarms attackers, then it can make self defence possible where it would have been impossible if the attacker was armed.
Baker's response on the first point is to focus on cases where a weapon might actually be the only way to defend yourself...
And finally,
(Y)ou asserted that the statement "self defense in the UK is illegal" is "practically true". If you acknowledge that you can defend yourself without a weapon, then surely you must concede that your statement is false?
We're using the same words, but apparently speaking different languages.

So here you go, Tim: English law says, as I quoted:
Section 3 of the Criminal Law Act 1967 provides that a person may use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances in the prevention of crime, and the question of reasonableness is subject to the amplifications contained in such cases as R v McInnes and R v. Palmer. It has been held that "if a jury thought that in a moment of unexpected anguish a person attacked had done only what he honestly and instinctively thought was necessary, that would be most potent evidence that only reasonable defensive action had been taken."
One of the most important limitations on the use of weapons is of course that they cannot be carried or used to injure other people.
so weaponless self-defense is not statutorily illegal. Self-defense involving any weapon is legally risky. In both cases excessive force is to be judged by a jury. I think I said that several times. I think I was pretty clear about it, but if not, there it is in black and white.

Tim's second objection is:
You claimed that what I was implying was: "Honest citizens should never use a weapon in self defense, and the government is honestly doing everything it can to disarm everybody so that you can successfully defend yourself in your unarmed state." I never said anything like "Honest citizens should never use a weapon in self defense". Kindly refrain from stuffing words into my mouth. I do not appreciate it.
What I said, verbatim, in response to your assertion of "If the law disarms attackers, then it can make self defence possible where it would have been impossible if the attacker was armed." was:
Nice of you to admit that last point. Big "if" there at the start, though. Because what you are saying here by implication is "Honest citizens should never use a weapon in self defense, and the government is honestly doing everything it can to disarm everybody so that you can successfully defend yourself in your unarmed state."
Tim, that's how it translates to me. If that's incorrect, please explain, in detail, exactly what you did mean.

Tim continues:
You continue to insist that "laws against weapons have essentially no effect on the access to weapons by criminals", claiming that the English experience somehow illustrated this. You then write extensively about the violent crime rate England. But this is not even relevant to your claim, since it includes violence done without weapons.
Not relevant? Why? As I pointed out - REPEATEDLY - by disarming the law abiding it leaves them essentially defenseless against violent criminals, armed or not. All the criminal need be is physically superior to his victim, or (should he desire) the criminal can be armed, knowing almost as a certainty that his victim won't be. If criminals need not fear effective resistance then they will be emboldened. I pointed to England's experience with violent crime over the course of the 20th Century, noting that the real upswing in violent crime began just shortly after passage of the law that made illlegal carry of any weapon for defense on the grounds that there are no "defensive" weapons for the general public, only "offensive" weapons by definition. Yet those same weapons, when held by government officials, are considered "defensive." I gave a hypothetical example of weaponless self-defense, and then added two conditions that made weaponless self-defense even more hazardous. Tim did not comment.

Tim continues:
In 2000, England had about 4,000 with-gun robberies while the US had 170,000 After allowing for six times as many people in the US, the rate is still seven times higher in the US. This hardly proves that the laws made the difference, but the evidence is not on your side.
To me that isn't as important as the fact that England, according to the British crime survey, suffered 276,000 robberies in 2000, and the U.S. about 408,000. With six times England's population, that makes the English rate four times the American rate. Tim evidently considers the higher rate of robberies involving firearms to be worse than an overall much higher rate of robberies period. I do not concur. That is apparently the disconnect between our two philosophies - as long as the perpetrator doesn't have a gun it seems, the crime committed has less importance. I don't want to be the victim of a robbery, period, and I think that government policies that "restrict" my chances of successfully defending myself against them are immoral.

Now, I suppose, we'll start trading statistics again?

Tim concludes:
I also note that you did not comment on the Kleck quote I gave. Do you concede that the "overmotivated criminal" is a fallacy as Kleck argues?
The pertinent part of the Kleck quote was this:
Like noncriminals, however, criminals do many things that are casually or only weakly motivated.
(I)t is not all impossible for crime prevention efforts to be achieved among the more weakly or temporarily motivated criminals who make up the large part of the active offender population.
Specifically as it comes to guns, Kleck is correct, but by disarming the citizenry and by making it legally risky to use weapons in self defense, it is safer for "weakly or temporarily motivated criminals" to commit crimes against other people. They don't need a gun to be successful. Physical superiority, a knife, a steel bar, or even a broken bottle is all that is needed.

An here's the pernicious part, what I believe is the unintended consequence of a philosophy that considers all weapons in the hands of non-government agents to be "offensive weapons," one that does not recognize that citizens can carry a weapon with defensive intent: Those "weakly or temporarily motivated criminals" learn that violent crime is lucrative, easy, and low-risk, and with each new success they become emboldened to do it again. This draws others to do it as well, just as the lucrative illicit drug industry constantly attracts new "talent." Easy money. Some percentage of those "weakly or temporarily motivated criminals" become professional or at least semi-professional at it, and are willing to carry the tools of the profession.

This is a long-term trend, and I believe the history of violent crime in England illustrates this. The rising level of violent crime in England as a result of the failure of the philosophy that "all weapons are offensive" forced the government to become ever more restrictive towards the general citizenry without affecting the ever rising levels of violent crime. In combination with other failed social policies, particularly social welfare and criminal justice reform, disarming the general public has resulted in a polity with the highest level of violent crime in the developed world.

Still unwilling to admit the error of the philosophy, the government continues its congnitive dissonance and "escalates the failure" by announcing a desire to end of "double-jeopardy" protections and trial by jury for some crimes. Another incremental step toward what would be, for all intents and purposes, a police state, not a free nation.

All of this justified, apparently, by a fear of firearms.

UPDATE, 5/2:

I made an error in this post, which Tim pointed out:

Oh, and you blew the comparison of robbery rates. You have compared the survey measured robbery rate in England with the police reported robbery rate in the US. The police reported number in England is 78,000 (it's right next to the 276,000 figure you reported) that's roughly the same rate as you get with 408,000 robberies in the US once you adjust for population.
He was quite correct. I was wrong. I have apologized and clarified my position in a later post.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Hudson Was Wrong

(If you're just coming to this site and reading top to bottom, skip down one post to figure out what's going on.)

Well about three full days have passed since I asked that important question, and it's drawn a few comments and a bit of attention. So what have I learned?

I've learned that the people who make up my audience are a damned pessimistic bunch, for one. The ratio of comments like this:
"Okay, I'm thoroughly depressed now. Have we passed the point of no return? Are we on the verge of another Dark Age?" - Sarah

"Worse than any other aspect of our situation is the sense of hopelessness that pervades even the most ardent devotees of freedom." - Francis Porretto

"Like you, I am practically out of ideas. Every day we get the choice between slavery and rebellion, and so far, most folks ok with slavery." - Robert

"The main difference between Bush and Kerry, WRT civil liberties, is what size boot they use when tromping in one place, vs. some other." - jed

"Answers? I don't have answers. I think I'm probably in the same boat as most of you. If there was a real fight, I'd fight, but in the meantime, what? Just watch?" - mostlycajun

"At the moment, I don't intend to have children, and I don't have any ideas. About the only thing I'm certain of is now is not the time to give up drinking." - LabRat

"This is why I'm religious: there is no hope for freedom anywhere in the world any longer." - Sydney Carton

"We're on the road to totalitarianism right now, and voting the same people into office is not going to turn us from that path. At best it will slow us down slightly, though I'm no longer convinced of that." - Dennis

"What is the answer? Wait for the collapse of Social Security to bring down the beast and then be ready to fight off every other to restore this country to the intent of the original founders." - Ken
to comments like this:
"Though it may seem Pollyanna-ish, I believe that we have reached or are nearing the nadir of the current trough, and the upward side of the catenary approaches." - Mark Phillip Alger

"The side for liberty is winning." - Doug
was about, oh, 10:1.

The one thing almost all the pessimists had in common was - no answers. Fûz, author of WeckUpToThees! suggests that we start committing civil disobedience when the campaign finance laws start kicking in, restricting freedom of speech. Not "Big Media" - us. You and me. But then Michael Williams of Master of None points out that we live in a system of lots of laws, but only random enforcement - just enough to put fear into others and keep us in our places. (Think RIAA enforcement.) Fûz might be right - but I doubt it.

The most striking thing I found was apathy. This site has received about 1,400 hits since I posted "An Important Question." It drew 47 comments (not including my replies) from 22 respondents. I posted a link to the essay at - surely a hotbed of the perennially pissed-off - which garnered 613 views, but only seventeen responses (two optimistic, the rest pessimistic). That's a signal of apathy, to me anyway. Interested enough to read, but not interested enough to bitch.

And that defines the problem, as I see it. The vast majority are simply apathetic.
Function: noun
Etymology: Greek apatheia, from apathEs without feeling, from a- + pathos emotion
1 : lack of feeling or emotion : IMPASSIVENESS
2 : lack of interest or concern : INDIFFERENCE
We are, as a nation, impassive. We are indifferent. As I said in my letter to Rev. Sensing,
The overwhelming majority of the populace, I believe, is ignorant and apathetic. They might sense the loss of their freedoms, dimly, but they don't know and they don't want to know.
We here in the blogosphere who are (supposedly) active and connected, have no consensus other than "Every day we get the choice between slavery and rebellion, and so far, most folks (are) ok with slavery."

Well I'm not, but it does appear that way.

As I wrote a long time ago, I believe that a "right" is what a majority of the population of the society I live in believes it is. This is pragmatically true, as opposed to ideally true. Ideally "rights" are concepts shared by all and revered, but practically that's untrue. You can stand before a magistrate and demand your rights, but in most societies throughout history your understanding of your rights wouldn't keep your head attached to your body, or in the 20th Century stop the bullet that ended your protests. I'm engaged in a discussion right now with Tim Lambert of Deltoid who professes to believe in a "right" to self-defense, while defending a philosophy that allows complete disarmament of the law abiding populace against agressors. Tim is hardly an exception in this world, now or historically.

A respect for rights isn't natural, it's learned - and when we stop teaching our children about our rights, a reverence for them; when we neglect to educate the incoming generation as to what those rights are and why they're important and why they should be defended even against the seemingly most minor infringement, then apathy becomes entropy and our rights dissolve toward chaos. When we give the rights the Founders believed to be essential only lip service, suddenly we get all kinds of new "rights." A "right" to abortion. (Don't write letters.) A "right" to "freedom from gun violence." A "right" to gay marriage. A "right" to government provided health care. A "right" to... well you get the idea. And all those "rights" are eventually given equal weight - essentially none at all when the rubber meets the road.

In 1776 a group of men, excellently educated (whether self-taught or formally) and with a new but common understanding of the rights of humanity, decided they'd had enough and stood up to be counted. They pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor and took up arms against an overwhelming enemy. These few men led many more who were angry but not so committed. Another Mencken quote (the man had so many): "It doesn't take a majority to make a rebellion; it takes only a few determined leaders and a sound cause." We can't define a cause, though. Nor an enemy. "We have met the enemy and he is us." - Walt Kelly.

Francis Porretto also said this:
Violent revolution is a nasty prospect. Alongside the unpleasantness of it, there is also this: most revolutions in history have intensified tyranny, rather than ameliorated it. Alternatives are certainly welcome.

Civil disobedience is less nasty for everyone but the disobedient. Though most people don't have the courage for it regardless of how valid it appears, in every generation there are a few who'll put their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor on the line to defend some principle of justice. But successful civil disobedience has a list of necessary preconditions that can be hard to meet. The carnage among the courageous few is enough to make one think...and back away.
I'm beginning to repeat myself, I think.

Commenter Brian wrote:
I'm coming to the conclusion that it's better to live outlaw like I did when I was a kid than to bother acting like I'm a citizen. The law seems to do nothing beneficial, and I've always been willing to break it.
There's no need to respect the laws that don't respect you, or fear the gov- just embrace freedom and accept that you COULD be imprisoned or killed, but you'll live freer than almost anyone before that happens. It's worth it, to me.
That echoes Francis in his next paragraph:
There is a third way, and it can be applied to many of the usurpations of power that occur in American society: passive resistance, sometimes also called passive non-compliance. It is much less risky to its practitioners than civil disobedience, and it doesn't usually set the streets awash with blood. More, it has a good record of success, although when it wins, it doesn't always win everything one has hoped for.
Francis then goes on to expound on what it takes to make passive resistance a successful strategy for manipulation of the government. But Brian, I think, has the right of it - screw strategy. Embrace freedom and accept that you could be imprisoned or killed and live free while you can. Teach your children about those ideal rights, and live them. Don't respect those laws that don't respect you, and be willing to pay the consequences of violating them if you get caught.

So my life, my fortune, and my sacred honor stand ready to be sacrificed in the defense of my rights and the rights of those I love as I understand them. I am a citizen of this nation as much or as little as it protects and defends those rights under which it was founded, not as they are (mis)understood today. I will obey those laws with which I agree, follow those laws I am unwilling to suffer the penalty for, and I will disobey those laws I find egregious. This may mean that, at some time in the future, the State may decide to "selectively enforce" itself on me to make an example. At that time and at that place I will decide how to respond, for that choice is mine and always will be. In the mean time, I will agitate for those rights, making sure those in power remember that they swore oaths to defend them whether they understood them or not. I will continue trying to educate others so that they, too, understand what it is they are losing, what they are allowing others to throw away, and so they will hopefully not choose slavery.

That's what I owe my grandchildren.

Hudson was wrong, the game wasn't over. He died anyway - but he died fighting, not lying down, defending himself and his people. Like Hicks said, sometimes I want to take off and nuke the place from orbit - it's the only way to be sure - but I'm just a grunt and don't get to make those decisions.

UPDATE 4/8 9:30AM: The Geek responds.

UPDATE, 10:25: From the comments, Dano writes:

I'm not sure I agree with your "apathy" conclusion, Kevin -- at least, not as applied to the readers of your post(s). The nation, overall, being apathetic ("fat, dumb and happy" comes to mind) I'll go along with. You asked for "ideas" and as I'm in the Pessimistic Camp, I haven't got any. Rather than comment and say "I don't know what to do," I merely read. It's going to get worse before it gets better (if it does) and I don't expect to see it get better in my lifetime. I'd love to be wrong.
My response:

Read the Geek's piece linked at the bottom of the post. I stand by the apathy conclusion. Being pessimistic and using that as an excuse to just stand by and watch as the structure collapses is apathy. "I can't do anything!" is not an excuse not to try.

Stand up. Be heard. Make your opinions known. Write your congresscritters. Write letters to the editors when peices are published you don't agree with, and when they publish stuff you do. Call or write your TV news outlets when they do something objectionable or praiseworthy. Start a blog.

If we're going down anyway, let's all go down fighting every inch of the way. Fvck 'em - WE'RE AMERICANS! We don't back away from a fight.

And who knows?

The horse might learn to sing.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

An Important Question

This is not exactly what I expected, but since the good Reverend felt it worth posting, I guess I will. And I'd like all of you out there with whom this question reasonates to post it too.

Earlier this evening I wrote a letter to Rev. Donald Sensing, the minister who runs One Hand Clapping. Here's the letter in its entirety, though I've added hotlinks that I left off the original missive.


Rev. Sensing, I've read your blog for a while now, off and on, and you strike me as one of the not-so-common deep thinkers in the blogosphere, so I'd like to ask you a question. First, I'd like to preface it with some background information. December 12 you posted a piece you titled Bush Republicanism = Roosevelt Democratism? In it you wrote:
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.
That same day, Francis Porretto, writing about the Supreme Court decision upholding the Campaign Finance Reform Act wrote:
So long as speech was protected, Americans could claim with some justice that we were in some sense free. If Tuesday's Supreme Court decision prevails, we will not be able to call ourselves even partly free. We will be a people in chains. Chains forged to protect incumbents from having their records in office publicized in the press as they stand for election. Chains forged to increase the power of the Old Media, granting their journalists and editors the last word on political campaigns. Chains forged by (and for) men to whom "the people" are not only not sovereign, but are a force to be fastened down and made to do as they're told by those who know better.
A couple of weeks ago, I posted a link to a story in which Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia reportedly said in a speech he gave in New Orleans:
It is literally true that the U.S. Supreme Court has entirely liberated itself from the text of the Constitution.

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.
Then last week the 5th Circuit ruled on a case that (in my opinion) broadly widened police powers and greatly weakened the 4th Amendment protection against warrantless search. That prompted me to write an essay I titled "The Road to Hell is paved with Good Intentions" (it's still up on the front page of my site if you want to read it. I'm not trolling for links here.) [And I wasn't.] In the course of writing that essay I came across a 9th Circuit decision that made me sit back in shock, and after a couple of days I wrote another essay I titled "Game Over, Man. Game Over."

In short, I have come to the same conclusion you did in your December 12 piece - that we are 'the last generation of the minimally truly free.' My epiphany came when I read that 9th Circuit decision, because until then I still believed that the judicial branch of the government could, if the justices were honorable and honest, still save us from our folly and return us to the intent of the Constitution even after I read Justice Scalia's quote. My "nauseating near-conviction" wasn't "near" anymore.

In the late 1700's it was easy to see who the enemy was - King George. And his agents wore red coats and some wore silly wigs, and all went around with great pomp and circumstance, and we went to war over a level of taxes that citizens today would be ecstatic to pay. But today the enemy is simply "government" and that means, to most people: "us." The overwhelming majority of the populace, I believe, is ignorant and apathetic. They might sense the loss of their freedoms, dimly, but they don't know and they don't want to know. Today I wrote another piece wherein I said that I'm not Don Quixote, I'm 42 and fat and raising the black flag and slitting throats is not my style. To be honest, I don't even know whose throat to slit when it comes down to it.

So here's my question: Believing what we believe, is it moral for us to let it happen without standing up and pledging our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor to fight it? I have grandchildren. What do I owe them?


Rev. Sensing didn't have an answer. He put up excerpts from my letter and my essays and asked his readership for their ideas. I'm asking you for yours. And I'm asking you to ask other people for theirs. Because I don't want to be a member of "the last generation in the history of the world that is minimally truly free."

4/5/04 NOTE: I'm going to leave this up for a couple of days - no new posts, even though there is much (much) out there I'd like to comment on. This is a Blogspot blog. I have no option available to leave this at the top of the page, and that is, as far as I'm concerned, where it needs to be for a while. I'm sending out emails to people who run various sites asking them their opinions, too. Perhaps after a few days I'll have enough feedback to... I don't know what, exactly. But I'll write another piece and tell you what I think. You can count on that.

UPDATE, 4:27PM: C. Dodd Harris responds at Ipse Dixit

UPDATE II, 6:31PM: Mark Phillip Alger of BabyTrollBlog responds. Optimistically!

UPDATE III, 7:40PM: Michael Williams of Master of None asks if we're actually less free living under a system of myriad laws, but essentially random enforcement. His question echos one asked by Mike Spenis last week.

"Doug,"commenting at Francis Porretto's site says things are actually turning around.

Update, April 6, 5:05AM: Fûz of WeckUpToThees! suggests that we test our new chains with a little civil disobedience starting Sept. 3 when the Incumbent Protection Campaign Finance Reform laws begin infringing on our free speech rights, and

Donald Crankshaw of Back of the Envelope disagrees with Spoons, saying "Today, those who want judicial restraint have no choice other than the Republicans."

We're drifting off topic a bit, but at least we're discussing the problem.

UPDATE 8:51PM: SayUncle puts up a pithy, link-filled post pointing out government excesses followed by outrages illustrating the infringement of our individual rights, mostly in the name of "public safety." Which reminds me of another Mencken quote:

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."
Well, perhaps not all of them, but certainly most.

UPDATE 4/7, 4:28PM: Dale of Mostly Cajun took my question and expanded it to "How free are we?"

Good question. I'll have a new post up this evening.

UPDATE 4/8 9:43AM: Heartless Libertarian thinks Civil Disobedience is a viable path.