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

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Oh, Now THIS is Interesting

In relation to my piece below (He Really Doesn't Do Nuance) Technorati reports several bloggers have linked to the PressThink piece. Of course, the interpretations of Bush's position vary, bipolarly. Here's just a sample:

From Weird is Relative:
A verrry interesting discussion on pressthink, posted yesterday, discusses whether or not the press has a right to investigate stories that they view to be in the public interest.
This looks like yet another obvious attempt by the current administration to (a) tar the media with the "liberal" brush and (b) deflect the President from having to answer embarassing & revealing questions.... yet it appears to be more successful than most. Can Bush effect a power coup by simply telling the media they are less influential than they think they are?
Uh, right. (I'm sorry, but I must have missed the part about Bush denying the press their right to do investigative journalism. Can you point that part out to me?)

Next up, Blog on the Run:
One other interpretation of this thesis that just occurred to me -- is that Bush is bashing the press, which never wins any popularity contests, precisely because he does indeed know that the press fills a vital function and that if it became more popular, it might be more emboldened to do its job properly. And even before 9/11, this administration wasn't winning any Freedom-of-Information awards. There's evidence both ways on this one. Discuss amongst yourselves.
I think Lex is stretching here. This would be another example of how Dumbya - who is so stupid he has to be reminded to breathe, apparently, is somehow exercising one more brilliant strategy to foil his Democrat nemesis?

Then there's 100 Unfair and Unbalanced moonbats Monkeys Typing and his interpretation of Bush's comment:
"You assume I give a shit." Why does this surprise the media?
Daily Pundit seems to have a better grip on reality:
Jay Rosen identifies the growing horror of the liberal mainstream media, which is apparently discovering that GWB represents their worst nightmare: a sitting President who does not regard their propaganda machine with the proper amount of awe and terror.

In fact, he doesn't give it much regard at all. Nor is there any reason that he should, as degraded and perverse as what passes for the media establishment has become at the dawn of the 21st century.

The Emperor has no clothes, boys and girls. Get used to the chilly drafts.
Moe of Obsidian Wings said:
For my own part: no, I don't consider the media to represent the public. Big surprise there: nobody does, actually. I mean, does anybody here think that, say, Eric Alterman wrote What Liberal Media? because he thought that pushing the media to the Left would make it less mainstream? I take the position that it doesn't matter what your political affiliation is: you're likely to see the press as a funhouse mirror distortion of your own beliefs.
Having read a lot of Lefties, I tend to agree. But there are perceptions and then there is reality.

Whispers in the Abyss perceives reality:
The whole mess goes to the heart of considerations I've had about the nature of news media, which has been revealed to even the casual consumer as a morass of lies, obfuscations, and manipulations by the simple fact of access to the real facts for Joe Average American to make his own mind up about. No Average Joe has to wonder what Condaleeza Rice said to the 9/11 Commission, the transcripts are public knowledge, to the word. If you really wanted to know what people on the street in Iraq were thinking, 30sec search would turn up a list of Iraqi bloggers, any of whom are 5min of email and half a planet away, available for any question you might want to ask. If you want to know about the military side of operations in Afghanistan, you can go hit bloggers from there.

In short, if you can read this LJ, you've got wider, deeper, more 1st-hand access to the news as it happens than ever in the history of mankind have reporters or journalists. You can pick up the phone and call anyone listed in the phone book (and if you're cunning enough, even get to mock Fidel Castro). If you don't feel like collating the info yourself, you can surf the net more easily than surfing channels and find someone who, over time, earns your respect for their ability, like Glenn Reynolds, Steve Antler, or Wretchard. But even from one of your primary sources, you can always surf and find corroboration or invalidation, seek out different opinions (typically delivered directly in their Comments links), and generally prove that the world is not strictly push, but that you have the power to pull as much, as deeply, as you like.
Yup.

Thought Mesh has an interesting point:
The thesis of that article is that President Bush is dealing with the press less by trying to out-play them than by dealing them out of game. Bush stated to one journalist ?You?re assuming that you represent the public. I don't accept that. I agree with both the tactic and the view of Big Media it is based on.

--

I think that the majority of American citizens are more likely to believe Bush than Big Media in any dispute if no other facts are known. As Rosen says, journalists might ask themselves how they got to this state.
Not bleeding likely.

The interestingly named zerotwofivesixfourdotnet has a short but pithy post, with a link:
Elite media hates Bush because he calls them on their B.S., and aims to identify with 'normal people', the hoi polloi that intellectual-types quietly despise.

So when Bush tells them "You're assuming that you represent the public. I don't accept that", they - needless to say - don't particularly like that, or realize its probably true. And Mark Steyn deconstructs why the numbers show that 'normal people' - despite what the media tries to tell us - agree.
Interesting stuff, especially the comments to some of these. Instapundit has quite a long piece with commentary from readers, too.
Corrupting the Process: The Torricelli Precedent

I've said for a while that I believe that the DNC is soon going to realize that John F'ing Kerry is a loser when it comes to the run for the Presidency. Others have said that the DNC wants to lose 2004 because that will put Hillary on the 2008 ticket in position to win.

I don't think so.

I think the Democrats are slowly, dimly beginning to realize that a landslide loss (or even a mudslide loss) to Dubya will signal that the moonbat contingent has destroyed the Party and made it totally ineffectual. They cannot afford to lose. After Gray Davis's recall, a loss in November will be their nadir.

The New Jersey Democrat party decided that it could not afford to have a Republican win one of New Jersey's Senate seats in 2002. So, in violation of State election law and with the active partisan support of the New Jersey Supreme Court, the legal candidate - Robert Torricelli - was dropped and Frank Lautenberg was substituted on the ticket. Lautenberg won, of course.

I honestly believe it's going to happen again. Now there's evidence that such thoughts are making the rounds within the moonbat brigades.

Instapundit links to this Village Voice piece, John Kerry Must Go. Excerpt:
With the air gushing out of John Kerry's balloon, it may be only a matter of time until political insiders in Washington face the dread reality that the junior senator from Massachusetts doesn't have what it takes to win and has got to go. As arrogant and out of it as the Democratic political establishment is, even these pols know the party's got to have someone to run against George Bush. They can't exactly expect the president to self-destruct into thin air.
The piece suggests nominating John Edwards or "staging an open convention" in Boston. This would be, of course, regardless of whether Sen. Kerry has acquired enough delegates to be the Democratic nominee.

I think they're going to nominate Hillary.

As James Hudnall wrote back in September, "only Democrats and dictators are afraid of Elections."

Catch .303


Via Mike comes this truly excellent story of Australian Ian "Robbie" Robertson, 77, an Australian sniper during the Korean war. Excerpts:
Snipers were issued with a modified version of the venerable Lee-Enfield .303 rifle used by British Empire troops since the Boer War half a century before. The sniper model had a small telescopic sight and a heavy barrel, but otherwise was little different from a million others lugged by Allied infantry in two world wars.

Robertson could group 15 rounds in a space smaller than his fist at 300 metres, hit a target the size of a man's head at 600 metres, and was confident of hitting a man from 800 to 1000 metres if conditions were right.

--

They call Korea the forgotten war, but the old digger can't forget it. "Every battle happened yesterday," he says, his voice serious. "When people are trying to kill you, it concentrates your mind. You don't leave it behind."

--

Snipers often had to shoot in cold blood - rather than in the heat of an enemy assault - but that didn't make them murderers. They were doing their sworn duty, under legitimate orders and the conventions of warfare, against an armed enemy trying to kill them.

Still, sniping is the dark art of conventional warfare. In America's gun culture, it attracts a fringe celebrity status that supports a growing list of books and websites. Australians are more ambivalent.

--

The Chinese had a proverb: Kill one man, terrorise a thousand. It was true, and it meant that each day, with each death, his job grew more dangerous.

All snipers were hated, good ones were feared. The better he shot, the more desperate enemy officers would be to kill him to stop the loss of morale. This is the sniper's dilemma: the more enemies you hit, the more return fire you attract and the more likely you are to die. Call it a Catch .303.
As always, read the whole thing.

For those interested, this is what Mr. Robertson used in Korea, the No. 4 Mk. I (T) sniper version of the British Commonwealth rifle:
More images are available here.
Spain Completes Troop Pullout From Iraq
MADRID, Spain (AP) - Spain has completed the withdrawal of its peacekeeping troops from Iraq, Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said Tuesday.

"No Spanish member of the Plus Ultra II brigade remains in Iraq," Zapatero told Parliament in a debate on his decision to withdraw the 1,300 troops.

The Plus Ultra brigade is the name for the Spanish contingent, which was stationed in the south-central cities of Najaf and Diwaniya.

Zapatero said the only Spanish military personnel who remain in Iraq are logistics experts assigned with shipping home military equipment. He said these people should be out of Iraq by May 27.
Or, as Mike Ramirez put it in the LA Times:

He Really Doesn't Do Nuance

(Via Acidman)

Another reason, despite his being "the best Democrat President in my lifetime" that I actually like Dubya: read this PressThink piece about Bush and how his administration views the media. Money quote:
...a reporter says to the president: is it really true you don't read us, don't even watch the news? Bush confirms it.
And the reporter then said: Well, how do you then know, Mr. President, what the public is thinking? And Bush, without missing a beat said: You're making a powerful assumption, young man. You're assuming that you represent the public. I don't accept that.
Which is a powerful statement. And if Bush believes it (a possibility not to be dismissed) then we must credit the president with an original idea, or the germ of one. Bush's people have developed it into a thesis, which they explained to Auletta, who told it to co-host Brooke Gladstone:
That's his attitude. And when you ask the Bush people to explain that attitude, what they say is: We don't accept that you have a check and balance function. We think that you are in the game of "Gotcha." Oh, you're interested in headlines, and you're interested in conflict. You're not interested in having a serious discussion... and exploring things.
Further data point: The Bush Thesis. If Auletta's reporting is on, then Bush and his advisors have their own press think, which they are trying out as policy. Reporters do not represent the interests of a broader public. They aren't a pipeline to the people, because people see through the game of Gotcha. The press has forfeited, if it ever had, its quasi-official role in the checks and balances of government. Here the Bush Thesis is bold. It says: there is no such role-- official or otherwise.
Heh. Indeed.

Read the whole thing.

Monday, April 26, 2004

I'm in Trouble Now!

For Christmas I got the game Medal of Honor - Allied Assault for my PC, with the Spearhead expansion pack. I've played them both to death. Great games. But I've heard that Call of Duty was better. Well, I hunted around and found it for $35 online last week plus $4 shipping, so I ordered it.

It came in today.

Essay or Call of Duty?

Essay? Call of Duty?

I guess I'll find out when I get home tonight.

UPDATE: 11:05PM. Call of Duty ROCKS!

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Sorry About the Lack of Posting

I'm still busy as hell at work. Saturday was my IHMSA match (up at 5:30AM, didn't get home until 5:00PM), and when I got home I did househusband stuff because my wife was over taking care of her parents. (Her dad just got home from the hospital after having 18" of intestine removed, and her mother has the flu.) I spent the evening surfing the web but not posting because I have been compiling stuff for a piece I've worked most of tonight on. I spent the morning doing other husbandly duties, but like I said, I've spent this evening writing. I hope to have the piece finished by Tuesday evening. It will be LONG, it appears - Den Besteian in length and tone. (Unfortunately, I don't do Whittleian effectively, but a man's got to know his limitations.)

The IHMSA match was a lot of fun, especially afterward. (I shot a match round for the first time in probably two years. I sucked. I'm really out of practice. I missed a chicken for Jebus's sake.) After the match was over, we let the target setters shoot. They're all Boy Scouts, and they work the match for $5/hr and tips. They're collecting money so that their troop can go on a sailing adventure. This was the first time they'd gotten the requisite permission to shoot, so we dragged out our guns and ammo and did a little introduction. I had seven rounds of 7mm Benchrest left and let one of the guys squeeze off all of them. After he'd knocked down a couple of chickens and a pig, I told him "Just so you know, that load is about twice as powerful as a .44 Magnum." BIG smile. They all got to shoot a .22 competition pistol, and .357 lever-action rifles, too. Two of them shot .44 revolvers. A good time was had by all. We'll see what the group wants to do next month.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

But Me No Buts

This one's an op-ed from the New York Journal News. Short, but no less stupid for that.
No reason but to kill

From all indications, Congress intends to let the 10-year-old ban on military-style assault weapons expire on Sept. 13. Unless, of course, public demand that the ban be extended reaches such a pitch that Congress dare not do otherwise.
And it's the job of our newspaper editorialists to motivate the masses to do just that! That small but influential lobby must stop the small but influential eeeevil NRA from letting the law sunset!
That's why it is important to make the public aware of the ban's pending expiration through such events as the news conference held by New Yorkers Against Gun Violence in White Plains on Tuesday to mark the fifth anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre in Littleton, Colo.

Congressional Republicans showed their intentions in March when they voted down their own bill to give immunity from lawsuits to gun manufacturers after Democrats added an amendment that would have extended the assault-weapons ban at the same time.

Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano, who supports the ban, cited FBI figures that listed one in five law-enforcement officers slain in the line of duty between 1998 and 2001 as killed with assault weapons. Indeed, a protective vest offers no protection against such weapons.
Which is standard Violence Policy Center bullshit procedure: stretching the facts, as I pointed out back in May of last year. The VPC report stated that 41 of the 211 officers to die by gunfire were killed with "assault weapons," but to reach that number, they had to expand the definition of "assault weapon" to include seventeen rifles that are not covered under the "ban." As I said back then,
Now, according to this site between the years of 1998 and 2001 (inclusive) there were 229 officer deaths by firearm, not 211. And according to this table the number of police deaths, at least for the last couple of decades (and excluding the 72 killed in the Twin Towers in 2001) has been apparently unaffected by the relative explosion in the mid 1980's of "assault weapons" (as defined by the law) into the general populace. They're trying to make it sound like the presence of "assault weapons" has somehow added 41 deaths that otherwise would not have occurred. The evidence does not support this. But that's the conclusion you're supposed to draw. "Ban 'em, and these cops would have lived!"
To continue:
"Whether you have a right to bear arms or not," Spano said, "you do not have a right to endanger society with assault weapons."
Er, what? That means I do have a right to "endanger society" with a shotgun or a deer rifle?

This is logic?
Westchester District Attorney Jeanine Pirro said she "strongly" supported the right to bear arms,
Wait for it...
"but there is no legitimate reason to have an assault weapon other than to kill as many people as possible in a very short period of time."
Let's parse that sentence, shall we? What is the right to bear arms for? Connie du Toit spells it out succinctly here. The right to arms isn't about hunting, it isn't about target shooting, it isn't about self defense against criminals. If you support the Second Amendment you support the right of civilians to own weapons of military usefulness. Duck guns and intermediate range sniper rifles deer rifles are simply protected under that greater umbrella. No but about it.

"...there is no legitimate reason to have an assault weapon other than to kill as many people as possible in a very short period of time." As I read that, killing "as many people as possible in a very short period of time" is a "legitimate reason to have an assault weapon"? Huh?

Look, this is just regurgitation of the gun-grabber mantra of "Ooh! They're scary!" If "there is no legitimate reason to have an assault weapon other than to kill as many people as possible in a very short period of time," why are our police forces armed with fully-automatic assault weapons? So they can kill lots of civilians?

It's not the weapon, it's the intent. But the editorial writer doesn't bother to think about it, just accepts this revealed wisdom.
She's right. No reason whatsoever.
Any thinking going on in that brain? Critical or otherwise?

Getting back to the "one in five" police officers killed with "assault weapons" - you know, weapons whose only legitimate use is to "kill as many people as possible in a very short period of time" - what of the other 170 officers killed with firearms in that same period? They were killed with weapons designed to tickle people?

A gun is a device designed to hurl small metal projectiles at high velocity. It doesn't matter if it's a handgun, a shotgun, a rifle or an "assault weapon." "Assault weapons" are not somehow orders of magnitude more lethal than other firearms. The only real difference is their appearance, which is why the AWB was based on appearance, not lethality. It's why the AR-15 style rifle was targeted, but the Ruger Mini-14 wasn't.
Voting to extend the ban means opposing the National Rifle Association, which lines up congressional support like target cans on a fence, as well as taking on the rest of the gun lobby. Without the support of public outrage, few in Congress have the fortitude to do that.
And that's the meat of it. Opposing the eeevil NRA is what must be done, regardless of the fact that the AWB has had no measurable effect on gun violence. Even Tom Diaz of the VPC has said:
If the existing assault weapons ban expires, I personally do not believe it will make one whit of difference one way or another in terms of our objective, which is reducing death and injury and getting a particularly lethal class of firearms off the streets. So if it doesn't pass, it doesn't pass.
The VPC's "objective" is to get handguns banned. They said themselves back in 1988 that "Assault weapon" legislation was just a stepping-stone to that end:
It will be a new topic in what has become to the press and public an "old" debate.

Although handguns claim more than 20,000 lives a year, the issue of handgun restriction consistently remains a non-issue with the vast majority of legislators, the press, and public. The reasons for this vary: the power of the gun lobby; the tendency of both sides of the issue to resort to sloganeering and pre-packaged arguments when discussing the issue; the fact that until an individual is affected by handgun violence he or she is unlikely to work for handgun restrictions; the view that handgun violence is an "unsolvable" problem; the inability of the handgun restriction movement to organize itself into an effective electoral threat; and the fact that until someone famous is shot, or something truly horrible happens, handgun restriction is simply not viewed as a priority. Assault weapons - just like armor-piercing bullets, machine guns, and plastic firearms - are a new topic. The weapons' menacing looks, coupled with the public's confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons - anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun - can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons.
In other words, through efforts such as this op-ed, it is the intent of gun control forces to take advantage of public ignorance to get them to support gun control measures they don't understand.

How do you like being manipulated like that?

But wait! There's more!
Efforts to stop restrictions on assault weapons will only further alienate the police from the gun lobby.

Until recently, police organizations viewed the gun lobby in general, and the NRA in particular, as a reliable friend. This stemmed in part from the role the NRA played in training officers and its reputation regarding gun safety and hunter training. Yet, throughout the 1980s, the NRA has found itself increasingly on the opposite side of police on the gun control issue. Its opposition to legislation banning armor-piercing ammunition, plastic handguns, and machine guns, and its drafting of and support for the McClure/Volkmer handgun decontrol bill, burned many of the bridges the NRA had built throughout the past hundred years. As the result of this, the Law Enforcement Steering Committee was formed. The Committee now favors such restriction measures as waiting periods with background check for handgun purchase and a ban on machine guns and plastic firearms. If police continue to call for assault weapons restrictions, and the NRA continues to fight such measures, the result can only be a further tarnishing of the NRA's image in the eyes of the public, the police, and NRA members. The organization will no longer be viewed as the defender of the sportsman, but as the defender of the drug dealer.

Efforts to restrict assault weapons are more likely to succeed than those to restrict handguns.

Although the majority of Americans favor stricter handgun controls, and a consistent 40 percent of Americans favor banning the private sale and possession of handguns, many Americans do believe that handguns are effective weapons for home self-defense and the majority of Americans mistakenly believe that the Second Amendment of the Constitution guarantees the individual right to keep and bear arms. Yet, many who support the individual's right to own a handgun have second thoughts when the issue comes down to assault weapons. Assault weapons are often viewed the same way as machine guns and "plastic" firearms - a weapon that poses such a grave risk that it's worth compromising a perceived constitutional right.
(See op-ed above for a textbook example of this. And the right isn't perceived, dammit.)

Although the opportunity to restrict assault weapons exists, a question remains for the handgun restriction movement: How? Defining an assault weapon - in legal terms - is not easy. It's not merely a matter of going after guns that are "black and wicked looking."
Yet that's precisely what the "Assault Weapon Ban" did. It went after guns that are "black and wicked looking," that's all. As Charles Krauthammer put it in 1995,
Passing a law like the assault weapons ban is a symbolic - purely symbolic - move in that direction. Its only real justification is not to reduce crime but to desensitize the public to the regulation of weapons in preparation for their ultimate confiscation.
Letting the AWB sunset is supporting the right to keep and bear arms.

No "buts" about it.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Wow! How Do I Get a "Terrorist-Grade" Rifle?!?

(Via SayUncle)

Another piece of laughably bad gun control propaganda disguised as straight news reporting, this time from our supposed allies at FOX News. (Actually, you can blame it on the NY Post, FOX just regurgitated it):
Illegal Arms Shipment Seized En Route to U.S.

A Turkish ship headed for New York — and stuffed with thousands of AK-47s and other Kalashnikov assault rifles — was seized en route in Italy, authorities said Tuesday.
Hmm... Other Kalashikov's? Would that mean AK-74's? I hate it when they aren't forthcoming with more details.
The ship's deadly hoard of more than 7,500 terrorist-grade rifles and machine guns worth more than $6 million was discovered illegally hidden under piles of properly labeled arms in several massive cargo containers, Italian officials said.
Wow! "Terrorist-grade!"

Um, wait.

Does that mean "In generally poor, banged-up and rusty condition because terrorist assholes don't know how to take care of their guns"? Looking at how they were stored, I think so.

Never mind. I don't want one after all.

Oh, and $6 million? That's $800 per rifle. I don't think so, unless they were planning to unload the entire shipment in Chicago. I can buy a Romanian AK clone from Florida Gun Works for $439. That's just over half price! And the SAR wouldn't have been bouncing around in a shipping container in a pile, either.
The ship MS Adnan Bayraktar, which bears a Turkish flag, had come from the Romanian port of Constanta and was on its way to a stopover in New York when the bust was made, the authorities said.

Documents showed the cargo containers were ultimately headed to a large U.S. company based in Georgia.

Officials refused to identify the business, citing security concerns and the ongoing investigation.

"We know that the [ship's] destination was North America, but we don't effectively know if that's where the [suspect] arms were going," one customs official told Italian state television.

The ship's cache of combat-style weapons was uncovered several days ago during a routine customs inspection at the Calabrian port of Gioia Tauro in southern Italy, officials said. They said they didn't reveal the bust at the time because of the continuing probe.

The weapons were confiscated by the Italian authorities because of problems with the ship's customs forms. For example, the arms had been described on some of the forms as "common guns" instead of assault-style.

The smuggled firearms included the lightweight combat Kalashnikov rifles, AK-47 assault rifles and SKA and Mauser rifles, authorities said.
Were the Mausers 98's? And what the hell is a "SKA"? Could they have meant an AKS? That would be the AKS-74, the paratrooper folding-stock carbine.

And just as an aside, the 98 Mauser bolt-action rifle is a "combat-style weapon." It even accepts a bayonet.
The weapons' bayonets were still affixed to them, as were cartridges that can hold up to 30 rounds, they said.
(*sigh*) Such ignorance.

So, they shipped the rifles with bayonets attached and a magazine seated in the mag well. (A "cartridge," you NYP moron, is the "round" the magazine holds thirty of.)
The AK-47s had been tampered with so they couldn't be rapidly fired, but the modification was one that could easily have been reversed, authorities said.
So we're talking about semi-auto AK "machineguns" then? Killer reporting, dude.
The assault weapons are a favorite with terrorists: Usama bin Laden sported one in the now-infamous footage of him taken after 9/11.
Wow. Now that's reporting! NEWSFLASH! Terrorists like AK-47 assault rifles! I'd have never known.

And, actually Osama Bin Missing favors a Krinkov - a short-barreled, folding stock version of the 5.45x39 caliber AK-74. (Stephen Hunter knows his guns.)
AK-47s also have been the weapon of choice for some infamous military-minded wackos, such as the teens who shot up Columbine HS in Littleton, Colo., in 1999.
BZZZZZT! So sorry. You've been caught in an out-and-out lie! Harris and Kliebold carried a Tec-9 pistol, a Hi-Point 9mm carbine, and two sawed-off shotguns! - No AK-47, AKS, or Mauser "assault rifle" of any kind!
The United States has banned such military-style semiautomatic weapons since 1994. The law preventing them from being manufactured, imported or sold here expires in September.
BZZZZZZT! Lie number two! The law limits the number of features such rifles may have, and it does severely limit what can be imported, but it doesn't prevent all importation, nor does it prohibit sales of guns meeting the limitations. Now, according to the report, these guns had bayonets attached, so that's obviously a no-no, and the shipment method certainly does raise eyebrows, but I wonder if somebody was trying to import parts and the shipper decided to pass on the irritating dissassembly procedure.

But it's a journalistic requirement to get in a shot about the "Assault Weapon Ban" sunset whenever remotely possible. Note, however, that these guns were supposedly destined for "the street" in violation of the law.

Hey, it's entirely possible that this entire shipment was meant for 7,500 Al Qaeda operatives in Georgia, and the Italians caught it, but somehow I find it doubtful.

Update: Curmudgeonly & Skeptical has a picture of the "30 round cartridge."

UPDATE, 4/23: Via
AlphaPatriot, the gun importer involved was Century International Arms.

This would be the second large firearms importer to get nailed trying to bring in verboten weapons, after Interarms was busted for importing improperly demilled Ppsh 41's.

Something smells here.



Just Heard on the Radio

Is the media finally waking up? I just heard on ABC news at the top of the hour a report of the bomb blasts in Iraq and Saudi Arabia. The newsreader made a point of describing the school bus blown apart and the children inside burned alive in Basra. That report was followed - immediately - by an audio clip described as "an American sharpshooter taking aim at a target in Falluja." As I best recall the clip:
(A few seconds of silence, then a hushed whisper)

"Take your time..."

BOOM! (and the sound of an ejected cartridge)

(one or two second delay)

"YEAH!"

"Great shot, Lewis!"

(General sounds of celebration and congratulations)
NOW can we go in a flatten Falluja?
An Oversight Corrected

Some time back, Connie du Toit stopped blogging, and I removed her from my blogroll. Well, she started up again, and like an idiot, I forgot to put her back on the blogroll. That's fixed now.

What prompted recognition of my cranial flatulence, though, was her most recent post on the difference between Europeans and Americans. I am in full concurrance with her conclusion:
In a nutshell, the Euros still choose to be ruled. They even pervert a Constitutional Democracy and surrender individual sovereignty to some body outside their control. They still don't trust themselves or they don't want the responsibility.
That is apparently the case for the majority of Europe, and I'm afraid it's becoming the case here. As Mencken said, "Most people want security in this world, not liberty."

Liberty takes work. Liberty requires hard choices. Liberty means not being protected by the (smothering) blanket of the State. Societies that give up their liberty can survive, sometimes for a great while, but societies without individual liberty cannot achieve either individual or collective greatness. They are restricted to (at best) mediocrity, and in the end, decay and destruction.

It reminds me of the warning given in Frank Herbert's Dune: Choosing only the clear, safe course leads ever down into stagnation.
Hey! I Got a Response!

A lame one, but a response!

Yesterday I found this piece about the eeeevil NRA, but instead of writing a post on it, I simply emailed the author. This is what I sent him:
Mr. Heller:

I followed the link back to your site, and found your contact information.

I must say that I find your phillipic misguided at best, regardless of the ad hominem attacks: LaPierre in jackboots, "oily Dick Cheney." (Ooh! Clever, that.) At worst (and I suspect the latter) it's merely intentionally vicious with no intent to be anything other than vitriol. That's your perogative, of course.

I've perused a bit of your archive. It's pretty obvious that your politics are anti-Bush and anti-Republican, but precisely (or even generally) what you're FOR has eluded me.

So, if I understand it correctly, you hate the NRA because they're a front for the eeeevil Republicans? If there's more to it than that, it wasn't apparent.

I'm sympathetic toward Mr. Mauser and the loss of his son, but how is the NRA responsible for Harris and Kleibold having a (that's ONE) Tec-9 pistol, a Marlin Camp Carbine, TWO sawed-off shotguns, and knapsacks full bombs? Would it have been the fault of the NRA if Mr. Mauser's son had been killed with a duck gun identical to the one Sen. Kerry uses and professes to want to protect?

Here's a link (ten seconds on Google to find) detailing the weapons carried by the pair:

http://columbine.free2host.net/weapon.html

As I said, I'm sympathetic to Mr. Mauser's loss, but his anger is misdirected.

As is yours.
Here's his response I received this morning:
I included you in the article, I believe, when I said that some NRA members were no doubt horrified by the hurtful barbs hurled at Mr. Mauser. I thank you for displaying your sensitivity... to me, at least.

PH
Here's what I sent him in response:
Mr. Heller:

You're welcome.

It's almost certain that you've received a volume of hate-mail from gun owners over your piece, and that you hold that hate mail as simply more evidence that gun control is an obvious "right thing to do," but in relation to your "No Reason Allowed" assertion, I hold that it is the gun CONTROL groups that are guilty of that. We've "compromised" for years - "compromise" being defined as "giving up only half of what the other side wanted to take."

As someone said, we gun owners have been the victims of a decades-long slow-motion hate crime. We're tired of it. Some of us are pretty angry about it, and most are not as willing to discuss the subject any longer. (And some people have a way with words. Others not have way.) So, I'll apologize for them even though it's not really my place to do so. Yes, the comments made toward Mr. Mauser were wrong and inexcusable, but Mr. Mauser in his grief has picked the wrong target. Its understandable. As H.L. Mencken said, "For every problem there is a solution that is simple, obvious, and wrong."

You might find it interesting that I believe the NRA is not protective ENOUGH of the right to arms. I believe the NRA to be too WILLING to "compromise," and the only reason the recent Senate bill protecting firearm manufacturers and dealers from lawsuit was killed after the "Assault Weapon" (scare quotes intentional) Ban extension was added was because people like me held their feet to the fire.

It's difficult, I admit, being on the side defending the right of people to possess weapons when one maniac with a handgun can run wild, but for me it's a matter of the rights of individuals and their corresponding responsibilities. I do not want to live in a society where government acts as parent and citizens are merely children to be told what to do. It's a philosophy I can defend well, but it requires people to THINK. I'm greatly in favor of that, though most people seem to want to avoid it. You attempted to include me in your article under the blanket heading of "No Reason Allowed." I assure you, I reason quite well.

But merely FEELING is so much easier, isn't it?
We'll see if that draws any response, but I doubt it.

UPDATE, 4/22. I got a response. Here it is, verbatim: "nice." No capital, one period.

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.

Excerpts:
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

Jointogether.org 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.
Absolutely.
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.

Twice.

UPDATE: Link fixed. D'OH!

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Pertinacious

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....

AIRHEADS

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 DemocraticUnderground.com 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.

Touchè!

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, Themestream.com. 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."

BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!

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!