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

Monday, April 30, 2007

Yes, I'm Still Alive.

Yes, I heard about the Missouri mall shooting.

Yes, I read Dan Simpson's wet-dream op-ed on banning guns in America.

Yes, I read Walter Shapiro's Salon op-ed on repealing the Second Amendment.

Yes, I've heard all the buzz about George "It's Not My Fault!" Tenet's new book. Yes, I know about his vivid recollection (both in print and on 60 Minutes) of meeting with Richard Perle in the White House on 9/12/01, and being shocked upon hearing Perle tell him that "Iraq bears responsibility" for 9/11. Except that Richard Perle was in France on 9/12... Stuck on the ground there until flights were again allowed on 9/15. Which leads me to wonder what else the Director of the CIA could be wrong about?

Yes, I know that Fred Thompson is considering running for President. Yes, I know the first debate between the Democrat contenders for the Oval Office in 2008 recently took place, and yes, I know that they all flew to South Carolina on individual private jets - and then stood there and talked about "conservation." Except Kucinich. I'm pretty sure he used alien technology and teleported.

Yes, I know that the weekend overpass accident on California's I-580 conclusively disproves Rosie O'Donnell's assertion that "I do believe that it's the first time in history that fire has ever melted steel." Damn, Rosie! It happened again! (Maybe this whack job will learn something, too.)

Yes, I know that "global warming" is accelerating and threatens to completely destroy the South polar ice cap - on Mars. We need to send Al Gore there to give a speech.

Yes, I know that gas is approaching $3 per gallon. I just spent the last three weeks in California. Regular unleaded is going for about $3.35 in the Oakland area.

I'm pretty up-to-speed on current events. I've noted that others are covering it quite well - and, to be honest, I'm pretty burned out at the moment. I have nothing nice to say, and I'm not in the mood to be snarky. I'm pretty much in a "burn it all down" mode at the moment, at least where it comes to society. The new job is pretty good, though, so I'm devoting my energies to that.

Let me close with this piece I received by email this morning. It's entitled "The Speech President Bush Should Give."
Normally, I start these things out by saying "My Fellow Americans." Not doing it this time. If the polls are any indication, I don't know who more than half of you are anymore. I do know something terrible has happened, and that you're really not fellow Americans any longer.

I'll cut right to the chase here: I quit. Now before anyone gets all in a lather about me quitting to avoid impeachment, or to avoid prosecution or something, let me assure you: there's been no breaking of laws or impeachable offenses in this office.

The reason I'm quitting is simple. I'm fed up with you people.

I'm fed up because you have no understanding of what's really going on in the world. Or of what's going on in this once-great nation of ours. And the majority of you are too damned lazy to do your homework and figure it out.

Let's start local. You've been sold a bill of goods by politicians and the news media. Polls show that the majority of you think the economy is in the tank. And that's despite record numbers of homeowners including record numbers of MINORITY homeowners. And while we're mentioning minorities, I'll point out that minority business ownership is at an all-time high. Our unemployment rate is as low as it ever was during the Clinton Administration. I've mentioned all those things before, but it doesn't seem to have sunk in.

Despite the shock to our economy of 9/11, the stock market has rebounded to record levels and more Americans than ever are participating in these markets. Meanwhile, all you can do is whine about gas prices, and most of you are too damn stupid to realize that gas prices are high because there's increased demand in other parts of the world, and because a small handful of noisy idiots are more worried about polar bears and beachfront property than refinery capacity and your economic security.

We face real threats in the world. Don't give me this "blood for oil" thing. If I was trading blood for oil I would've already seized Iraq's oil fields and let the rest of the country go to hell. And don't give me this 'Bush Lied People Died' crap either. If I was the liar you morons take me for, I could've easily had chemical weapons planted in Iraq so they could be 'discovered.' Instead, I owned up to the fact that the intelligence was faulty. Let me remind you that the rest of the world thought Saddam had the goods, same as me. Let me also remind you that regime change in Iraq was official US policy before I came into office. Some guy named 'Clinton' established that policy. Bet you didn't know that, did you?

You idiots need to understand that we face a unique enemy. Back during the cold war, there were two major competing political and economic models squaring off. We won that war, but we did so because fundamentally, the Communists wanted to survive, just as we do. We were simply able to outspend and out-tech them.

That's not the case this time. The soldiers of our new enemy don't care if they survive. In fact, they want to die. That'd be fine, as long as they weren't also committed to taking as many of you with them as they can. But they are. They want to kill you. And the bastards are all over the globe.

You should be grateful that they haven't gotten any more of us here in the United States since September 11. But you're not. That's because you've got no idea how hard a small number of intelligence, military, law enforcement and homeland security people have worked to make sure of that. When this whole mess started, I warned you that this would be a long and difficult fight. I'm disappointed how many of you people think a long and difficult fight amounts to a single season of 'Survivor'.

Instead, you've grown impatient. You're incapable of seeing things through the long lens of history, the way our enemies do. You think that wars should last a few months, a few years, tops.

Making matters worse, you actively support those who help the enemy. Every time you buy the New York Times, every time you send a donation to a cut-and-run Democrat's political campaign, well, dammit, you might just as well Fedex a grenade launcher to a Jihadist. It amounts to the same thing.

In this day and age, it's easy enough to find the truth. It's all over the Internet. It just isn't on the pages of the New York Times or on NBC News. But even if it were, I doubt you'd be any smarter. Most of you would rather watch American Idol.

I could say more about your expectations that the government will always be there to bail you out, even if you're too stupid to leave a city that's below sea level and has a hurricane approaching. I could say more about your insane belief that government, not your own wallet, is where the money comes from. But I've come to the conclusion that were I to do so, it would sail right over your heads.

So I quit. I'm going back to Crawford. I've got an energy-efficient house down there (Al Gore could only dream) and the capability to be fully self-sufficient. No one ever heard of Crawford before I got elected, and as soon as I'm done here pretty much no one will ever hear of it again. Maybe I'll be lucky enough to die of old age before the last pillars of America fall.

Oh, and by the way, Cheney's quitting too. That means Pelosi is your new President. You asked for it. Watch what she does carefully, because I still have a glimmer of hope that they're just enough of you remaining who are smart enough to turn this thing around in 2008.

So that's it. God bless what's left of America. Some of you know what I mean.
I got this T-shirt for my birthday this year:

Sometimes, though, it's just not funny. That speech should be funny too, but a big part of me says "He ought to do it."

The fourth Blogiversary of TSM is in a couple of weeks. I promise, I'll be posting again before that. What kind of mood I'll be in I cannot predict.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

More Magical Thinking from Academia and the Media


It's a double-shot! This piece from CNN is written by Tom Plate, former editor of the editorial pages of the Los Angeles Times and a professor of communication and policy studies at UCLA. Hat tip to Arms and the Law. Let us fisk:
Let's lay down our right to bear arms
OK. The criminals go first, though.
Most days, it is not at all hard to feel proud to be an American. But on days such as this, it is very difficult.

The pain that the parents of the slain students feel hits deep into everyone's hearts. At the University of California, Los Angeles, students are talking about little else. It is not that they feel especially vulnerable because they are students at a major university, as is Virginia Tech, but because they are (to be blunt) citizens of High Noon America.

"High Noon" is a famous film. The 1952 Western told the story of a town marshal (played by the superstar actor Gary Cooper) who is forced to eliminate a gang of killers by himself. They are eventually gunned down.
Yes, and if Gary Cooper's character had laid down his right to bear arms, what would have been the outcome?
The use of guns is often the American technique of choice for all kinds of conflict resolution. Our famous Constitution, about which many of us are generally so proud, enshrines -- along with the right to freedom of speech, press, religion and assembly -- the right to own guns. That's an apples and oranges list if there ever was one.
Not so! They are all of a single philosophy. And thanks so much for admitting that there's a (significant) contingent of people out there who are not proud - generally or otherwise - of that document.
Not all of us are so proud and triumphant about the gun-guarantee clause. The right to free speech, press, religion and assembly and so on seem to be working well, but the gun part, not so much.
While I and many like me believe that the "gun part" is the crowning achievement of a document that established a government designed to protect the rights of individuals against the power of the State.

It's all a matter of your worldview, I suppose.
Let me explain. Some misguided people will focus on the fact that the 23-year-old student who killed his classmates and others at Virginia Tech was ethnically Korean. This is one of those observations that's 99.99 percent irrelevant. What are we to make of the fact that he is Korean? Ban Ki-moon is also Korean! Our brilliant new United Nations secretary general has not only never fired a gun, it looks like he may have just put together a peace formula for civil war-wracked Sudan -- a formula that escaped his predecessor.
(Wishful thinking will get you nowhere. How much do you want to bet that "peaceful formula" fails? Bueller? Bueller?)
So let's just disregard all the hoopla about the race of the student responsible for the slayings. These students were not killed by a Korean, they were killed by a 9 mm handgun and a .22-caliber handgun.
See? Magical thinking. The guns loaded themselves, transported themselves from Cho's apartment to the campus of VT, levitated into the air, and started killing. It's not his fault - the guns did it!

We allow this guy to teach?
In the nineties, the Los Angeles Times courageously endorsed an all-but-complete ban on privately owned guns, in an effort to greatly reduce their availability.
"Courageously"? Why "courageously"? Because it cost them circulation?
By the time the series of editorials had concluded, the newspaper had received more angry letters and fiery faxes from the well-armed U.S. gun lobby than on any other issue during my privileged six-year tenure as the newspaper's editorial page editor.
Ah, I see. Let me repeat Tam's cogent response to the legacy media's insistence that it was the "gun lobby" that was responsible for the Zumbo incident: "Poor Lefties; they've been playing on astroturf so long that they don't know grassroots even when fed a mouthful of divot."
But the paper, by the way, also received more supportive letters than on any other issue about which it editorialized during that era. The common sense of ordinary citizens told them that whatever Americans were and are good for, carrying around guns like costume jewelry was not on our Mature List of Notable Cultural Accomplishments.
Note: if you support gun rights (and the Constitution) you're a tool of the "U.S. gun lobby." If you don't, (i.e., you agree with the author) you're a common-sense "ordinary citizen."

Just so we know where we stand.

Generally this is known as "elitism."
"Guns don't kill people," goes the gun lobby's absurd mantra. Far fewer guns in America would logically result in far fewer deaths from people pulling the trigger. The probability of the Virginia Tech gun massacre happening would have been greatly reduced if guns weren't so easily available to ordinary citizens.
This is known as "circular logic." If there were no guns, no gun crime would occur. Well, duh. The problem is, guns do exist and they're not going to go away. Ask the Brits. Wishing won't make it so. Neither will "magical thinking."
Foreigners sometimes believe that celebrities in America are more often the targets of gun violence than the rest of us. Not true. Celebrity shootings just make better news stories, so perhaps they seem common. They're not. All of us are targets because with so many guns swishing around our culture, no one is immune -- not even us non-celebrities.
Wait, wait... We're all targets? So we should all disarm?

Anybody see the disconnect here?
When the great pop composer and legendary member of the Beatles John Lennon was shot in 1980 in New York, many in the foreign press tabbed it a war on celebrities. Now, some in the media will declare a war on students or some-such. This is all misplaced. The correct target of our concern needs to be guns. America has more than it can possibly handle. How many can our society handle? My opinion is: as close to zero as possible.
Well, at least you're honest about it.
Last month, I was robbed at 10 in the evening in the alley behind my home. As I was carrying groceries inside, a man with a gun approached me where my car was parked. The gun he carried featured one of those red-dot laser beams, which he pointed right at my head.

Because I'm anything but a James Bond type, I quickly complied with all of his requests. Perhaps because of my rapid response (it is called surrender), he chose not to shoot me; but he just as easily could have. What was to stop him?
Apparently not you. Nor the police.

A question: Do you think that guy will "lay down" his gun?
This occurred in Beverly Hills, a low-crime area dotted with upscale boutiques, restaurants and businesses -- a city best known perhaps for its glamour and celebrity sightings.

Oh, and police tell me the armed robber definitely was not Korean. Not that I would have known one way or the other: Basically the only thing I saw or can remember was the gun, with the red dot, pointed right at my head.

A near-death experience does focus the mind. We need to get rid of our guns.
Ah, Beverly Hills! Well now I understand the elitism. Regardless this is just more magical thinking.

No, we need to get rid of the people like the man who robbed you. They need to be removed from the general population. Had that man had a knife, would you still have complied? What if he'd threatened you with a piece of pipe?

What we have here is someone steeped in the belief that he has a "right to feel safe."

Being exposed to the fact that there is no right to be safe has apparently not altered his worldview one whit. No "never again" for Professor Plate! For him the response will always be "please don't hurt me!" Did he feel proud to be an American that day?

Here's a clue for you, Professor: You didn't stop the robber. The cops didn't stop the robber. So he's free to do it again, and again, and again until someone does. And disarming the people who didn't rob you isn't going to help. Just as ensuring the victims of the VT massacre were disarmed didn't help them.

Here's another clue: You can't have mine.

So now what?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Gun Banners Have to Use Emotion...

...because their arguments lose when facts and logic are used.

Hot Air reports that Michael Eisner wants to ban guns, and wants to do it by reaching the American public with emotional inspiration:
“I’ve always wanted to do position through story on the ridiculousness of having guns and automatic weapons in our society. And it’s been very much obviously in the news, sadly, sadly. But when you’re in a public company and you’re in Washington — I was just saying “Don’t fight the NRA” — or you’re in a big company where your major constituencies are middle Americans, and where you don’t own the company, you’re working for your shareholders, you’ve got to be very careful. And we pushed through same-sex health insurance, some very advanced things… But we never could do the kind of material that I can now do because nobody can tell me I can’t do it. So I think the solution is to get the public, in an emotional, story-driven way, behind the goal of an abolition of handguns and automatic weapons.
That's how it worked in the UK, but first they had to greatly reduce the number of people who owned firearms through ever-more-restrictive acquisition and possession laws until the remaining gun owners had no political voice.

Not so here. And with the advent of the internet, we have access to each other, the opposition, and the organs of power. The Brady Campaign, for example, has learned this the hard way - finally instituting a registration scheme for commenters to their blog, but it doesn't really help - it only helps keep out the nutters.

Joe Huffman has the best single-line logical refutation of gun-control - his "Just one question:"
Can you demonstrate just one time, one place, throughout all of human history, where restricting the access of handheld weapons to the average person made them safer?
In opposition to this, all Eisner and Company can do is play on the public's emotion.

Sorry, Michael. It won't work any more.

UPDATE: Jack Cluth of The People's Republic of Seabrook seems to have fixated on me again. He links to this post with another emotion-ridden hand-wringing piece. My comment:
If we want to discuss mental illness, how about we discuss Jack Cluth's denial, avoidance, and cognitive dissonance, not to mention "Bush Derangement Syndrome"?

"If one was so inclined, and I certainly am leaning in that direction, the blame for this massacre could well and fairly be placed squarely on the shoulders of Our Glorious and Benevolent Leader © . After all, he allowed the assault-weapons ban to expire."

If you'll recall, it's the job of the legislature to write laws. The President only gets to veto or sign them. Bush said (and I believe him) that if a renewal had reached his desk, he'd have signed it. Either way, we'll never know. Congress failed to do so. Blame Congress all you want, but you are not allowed your own set of facts.

"This argument is not about gun rights, nor should it be. No one is proposing the repeal of the Second Amendment."

No? Salon's Walter Shapiro is. He's not alone. Just vastly outnumbered.

"The very obvious question, though, is why a weapon with a 15-round magazine is legal in the first place? Can an argument actually be made that this sort of thing is appropriate for “personal defense”? There really isn't any excuse for a civilian to be in possession of a weapon with only one purpose: to kill people."

This is one of my favorite arguments. The Glock 19 is perhaps the most popular sidearm of police departments around the country. When the "assault weapon ban" was in place, fifteen-round magazines were still being made, they just had "law enforcement use only" stamped on them. So, if the purpose of a fifteen-round magazine in a handgun has only one purpose - killing people - then why are our police departments so equipped? Why, indeed, are so many departments armed or arming with AR-15 rifles with 30-round magazines? Are there huge crowds somewhere that the police need to kill by "spray-firing from the hip"? I'm curious.

It's your proposition, Jack - an "either/or" dichotomy. Either high-capacity magazines are exclusively for killing large numbers of people (and thus no one - even the police) need them, or you're first premise is wrong.

Tell me, Jack: With no one attempting to stop Cho, what difference would it have made if he shot thirty times reloading only once, or if he had to change magazines twice? (Remember, ten round magazines were perfectly legal under the ban.) And how many is "enough"? When does the magazine capacity finally fall low enough that the "one purpose" of the firearm isn't "to kill people"?

And, finally: "I'm sick to death of those who have spent the last few days opinionizing that, if only students and staff at Virginia Tech had been able to carry, this never would have happened."

True to your nature, once you've picked a meme nothing will dissuade you from it. As I said in the previous peice, I haven't read anywhere where people have declared that allowing concealed-carry on the VT campus would have prevented the attack. In fact, my precise statement, given in comment below was: "I do not now, nor ever have I advocated "a pistol on every hip." In a free society, people get to choose, and most people (when free to choose) choose not to. That's OK. But if 1% of the population on the campus of Virginia Tech had been armed, the death toll might have been lower.

"No matter what, it wouldn't have been zero."

Once again, you avoid addressing that statement, because it doesn't fit your mental model. Like I said in the piece you linked to this time, when faced with actual facts, your arguments lose. Emotion is all you've got.
UPDATE, Case in point: Lawrence O'Donnell - completely wrong, but absolutely confident!

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Right to Feel Safe.

I'm back in California for another week of training, and on the drive from the airport to the office I heard the news about the Virginia Tech massacre. It's now, apparently officially, the deadliest mass-shooting incident in America's history. And, of course, the two sides of the gun-control argument are dragging out their unfortunately well-worn canards:
Today's shooting at Virginia Tech--the largest mass shooting in U.S. history--is only the latest in a continuing series over the past two decades. These tragedies are the inevitable result of the ease with which the firepower necessary to slaughter dozens of innocents can be obtained. We allow virtually anyone the means to turn almost any venue into a battlefield. In the wake of these shootings, too many routinely search for any reason for the tragedy except for the most obvious--the easy access to increasingly lethal firearms that make mass killings possible." - The Violence Policy Center

--

"Eight years ago this week, the young people in Littleton, Colorado suffered a horrible attack at Columbine High School, and almost exactly six months ago, five young people were killed at an Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania. Since these killings, we've done nothing as a country to end gun violence in our schools and communities. If anything, we've made it easier to access powerful weapons.
- The Brady Campaign

--

"When will we learn that being defenseless is a bad defense," asked Larry Pratt, Executive Director of Gun Owners of America?

"All the school shootings that have ended abruptly in the last ten years were stopped because a law-abiding citizen -- a potential victim -- had a gun," Pratt said.

"The latest school shooting demands an immediate end to the gun-free zone law which leaves the nation's schools at the mercy of madmen. It is irresponsibly dangerous to tell citizens that they may not have guns at schools. The Virginia Tech shooting shows that killers have no concern about a gun ban when murder is in their hearts. - Gun Owners of America
I'm sure tomorrow the legacy media will be full of hand-wringing op-eds about the "availability of guns" and "the number of firearms" being the cause of mass murder.

But I'm not going to talk about that here. I've done it before, in depth, and repeatedly. What I want to talk about here is "magical thinking." In some way, it's related to the last couple of pieces Bill Whittle has written over at Eject3. In this case, though, it's about the magical thinking that comes from a belief in a right to be free from fear.

The GOA blurb mentioned (and Kim also linked to) a story about how the Virginia legislature killed a bill that would have allowed concealed-carry permit holders to carry their firearms on college campuses. Ironically, that story quoted a spokesman from Virginia Tech:
Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker was happy to hear the bill was defeated. "I'm sure the university community is appreciative of the General Assembly's actions because this will help parents, students, faculty and visitors feel safe on our campus."
It may have.

But does Mr. Hincker "feel safe" now? (He's going to be hearing those words a lot in the near future. I hope he has the stomach for it.)

Conditions haven't changed. The Virginia Tech campus, like the majority of campuses across the country, was a "gun free" zone - a space regulated and marked with signs so as to help people feel safe. After all, it's their right, no?

Diane Feinstein is famous for her quote,
Banning guns addresses a fundamental right of all Americans to feel safe.
For Diane, it's not just a right, it's a fundamental right - apparently one of those the Ninth Amendment is supposed to protect. (Never mind the Second Amendment that quite obviously guarantees a right to arms....) Rob Smith once said,
Why is it that the more imaginary "rights" people invent, the less personal freedom I have?
Nevertheless, this "right to feel safe" has a lot of support. A quick Google of the term brings up over 31,000 hits. Here's a quick sample:
The City of Madison, Wisconson says that "Our Children Have the Right to Feel Safe All the Time!"

The Child Rights Information Network agrees.

The Sexual Assault and Trauma Resource Center says it too (though in my humble opinion they ought to be the most likely to understand the falsity of that promise.)
You get the idea.

The disconnect here is that while these groups and individuals all state unequivocally that every individual has a "right" to feel safe, they all ignore the elephant in the room:

There is no "right" to BE safe.

And if there is no right to be safe, then a "right" to feel safe is no right at all. It's just feel-good wordplay - wordplay that helps people avoid thinking about reality. It's the equivalent of plugging ones ears and repeating "I can't hear you!"

And today's massacre at Virginia Tech proved it once again.

But the truly pernicious part of a belief in a "right to feel safe" is that the said "right" is granted to us by an outside entity. Someone or something else is responsible for that feeling of safety. In the case of Virginia Tech, they provided that "feeling of safety" by prohibiting firearms on campus. It was their responsibility to make sure people didn't bring firearms into buildings. In fact, they had, according to the Roanoke Times story "disciplined" a student for bringing a firearm to class in violation of the policy.

I wonder what the penalty for today's shooter will be?

Believing in a "right to feel safe" means that you are not responsible for your own safety. You can't be - you're not qualified. If you're injured, it can't be your own fault - after all, you have a "right to feel safe!" If that right is violated, it can't be violated by you, so someone else must be at fault. It follows logically, does it not?

What else follows logically from a belief that "everyone has the right to feel safe all the time?"

Nerf™Land.

No guns. No knives. No swords. Plastic beer bottles and plastic bar glasses. Closed-circuit television cameras everywhere you look. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

And finally, advice from the State on how to be a good victim when someone inevitably violates your "right to feel safe."

To hell with that. Once again, Kim du Toit has said it well:
I don't just want gun rights... I want individual liberty, a culture of self-reliance....I want the whole bloody thing.
Amen.

And fat chance.

UPDATE: Mark Steyn elucidates.

UPDATE II: I note Jack "Asshole" Cluth has linked to this piece. Since my comments there have a tendency to not appear, I thought I'd post it here just in case:
Jack! How nice to know you still visit!

And still distort the facts. "...how many calls from the gun lobby (and frankly, from gun nuts) have insisted that the tragedy in Blacksburg could have prevented. IF ONLY EVERYONE WAS PERMITTED- NAY, REQUIRED- TO ARM THEMSELVES, THIS TRAGEDY COULD HAVE BEEN PREVENTED!!"

That's funny - nobody I've read has said that. Mitigated, possibly. Prevented, no.

In fact, in the comments to the piece you Trackback to, I said:

"I do not now, nor ever have I advocated 'a pistol on every hip.' In a free society, people get to choose, and most people (when free to choose) choose not to. That's OK. But if 1% of the population on the campus of Virginia Tech had been armed, the death toll might have been lower.

"No matter what, it wouldn't have been zero."
Keep it up, Jack. We need more examples like you out there.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Bill's Still Got It.

(Envy, envy, envy...)

I printed out and read Bill Whittle's latest essay Seeing the Unseen, Pt. 2 last night. Bill may only post once or twice a year now, but it's always definitely worth the wait.

I am, however, a bit concerned. Bill's always typically pollyannish about America's future (whereas I'm pretty pessimistic). In this piece, Bill goes a bit dark on us.

I can't wait for Pt. 3. It should be available sometime mid-December if Bill holds true to form.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Déjà Vu

I've been following the Imus kerfuffle for the last couple of days, and I'm reminded of another such incident just recently that strikes me as very similar. Don Imus called a group of people something that they (and a lot of other people) found very objectionable. Outrage was felt. Sponsors pulled their sponsorship. Demands for firing were made.

Sounds like Jim Zumbo, doesn't it?

Only Imus made a racial comment, and Zumbo insulted a subset of gun owners.

But Zumbo lost his job. Imus gets two weeks off.

I'm just sayin'.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Things I've Learned.

It's always a good thing to learn something new. So far with this new job, I've learned two things with certainty: Skype is damned cool and works great, and the Chevy HHR is a good example of why GM is losing money.

I'm in California for some training, and the company uses Skype for internal long-distance communication. If you've got anything even resembling broadband, it's terrific. I have a Chevy HHR rental - that's GM's copy of the Chrysler PT Cruiser.

I don't know about the PT Cruiser, but the ergonomics of the HHR suck. It's got adequate power and is very roomy inside, but I just don't fit. The beltline is too high and the door post is located so as to make it impossible for me to put my arm out the window. It's a little buzzy, and it just feels cheap. The sun visors are damned near useless - they cover almost half the windshield when down, but don't cover really any of the side windows if you try to position them there. Driving into a setting sun is an experience, let me tell you. Either you hunch over to look under the thing, or leave it partway up so that it's aimed at your forehead like a knife blade. Either that, or you just leave it up and squint. I won't be renting another one, I hope.

Thus concludes today's filler post. Time for bed.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Righteous Anger.

Today's post is a link. Firehand at Irons in the Fire posts a heartfelt screed against GFWs and their (anonymous) objections to placing a memorial statue of a special forces soldier - in this case, a SEAL - in a local park in Littleton, Colorado.

It's just another example of people who cannot (or will not) distinguish between "violent and predatory" and "violent but protective."

I won't excerpt from Firehand's piece. just go read it for yourself.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Credit Where It's Due.

Instapundit links to a John Stossel piece on the "Fear-Industrial Complex" at Human Events.
Newsrooms are full of English majors who acknowledge that they are not good at math, but still rush to make confident pronouncements about a global-warming "crisis" and the coming of bird flu.

--

Here's another example. What do you think is more dangerous, a house with a pool or a house with a gun? When, for "20/20," I asked some kids, all said the house with the gun is more dangerous. I'm sure their parents would agree. Yet a child is 100 times more likely to die in a swimming pool than in a gun accident.

Parents don't know that partly because the media hate guns and gun accidents make bigger headlines. Ask yourself which incident would be more likely to be covered on TV.

Media exposure clouds our judgment about real-life odds. Of course, it doesn't help that viewers are as ignorant about probability as reporters are.
I'm in complete agreement with Mr. Stossel on this point, and particularly when it comes to the firearm question, but credit where it's due.

In June, 2005, after a string of drownings and near-drownings, my local morning paper the Arizona Daily (Red) Star - a reliably anti-gun paper - put this on the front page of the Sunday edition, above the fold:

I wrote about it then, and excerpted this from the story:
They're pulled from backyard pools and bathtubs each year, tiny limp bodies, blue and not breathing.

A young life can vanish quickly under water. A survivor can endure a lifetime of disabilities. Either way, families are torn apart by an almost always preventable tragedy.

Standard summer companions in our desert climate, swimming pools can be deadlier for children than guns. A child is 100 times more likely to die in a swimming accident than in gunplay, writes Steven D. Levitt, University of Chicago economics professor and best-selling author.

Levitt analyzed child deaths from residential swimming pools and guns and found one child under 10 drowns annually for every 11,000 pools. By comparison, one child under 10 each year is killed by a gun for every 1 million guns, according to his research, outlined in a new book "Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side to Everything," which he co-wrote with journalist Stephen J. Dubner.
It was a pretty fair article. The exception that proves the rule?

Sunday, April 01, 2007

This Week's Post: The Weird 24 Movie Meme.

(Found at Mostly Cajun)

1. Name a movie that you have seen more than 10 times.

Star Wars without a doubt.

2. Name a movie that you've seen multiple times in the theater.

Star Wars again. Probably four of the at least ten times I've seen it.

3. Name an actor that would make you more inclined to see a movie.

There are several. Denzel Washington, Robin Williams, Wesley Snipes, Harrison Ford to name a few.

4. Name an actor that would make you less likely to see a movie.

Jane Fonda, Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon to name a few. Doesn't mean I won't see a movie they're in, but the chances of me spending $8.50 to see it in a theater are slim.

5. Name a movie that you can and do quote from.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail: "Listen, strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony." "Help! Help! I'm being repressed!"

6. Name a movie musical that you know all of the lyrics to all of the songs.

Can't help you there.

7. Name a movie that you have been known to sing along with.

Here either.

8. Name a movie that you would recommend everyone see.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail - I know it's not everyone's cuppa, but if you're warped enough to enjoy it, you're my kind of person!

9. Name a movie that you own.

I've got a few dozen. I did wait until George "Lucifer" Lucas re-released the original Star Wars trilogy in their original theatrical release edits (no "enhanced special effects," no "director's cut") before I bought them in DVD format.

My VHS tapes were about worn out. My grandson is a major fan. (And my wife is sick of all three of the films.)

10. Name an actor that launched his/her entertainment career in another medium but who has surprised you with his/her acting chops.

Robin Williams. I knew he was a stand-up comedian before Mork & Mindy, and I was working in a theater when he did Popeye and thought that the man actually could act under all those appliances. When he did The World According to Garp I said (I swear!) "This man's going to win an Oscar some day."

11. Have you ever seen a movie in a drive-in? If so, what?

We saw a lot of movies at the drive-in when I lived in Florida - mostly Disney films. Couldn't name one for certain now.

12. Ever made out in a movie?

No, can't say that I have.

13. Name a movie that you keep meaning to see but just haven't yet gotten around to it.

9/11 - I don't know that I'm ready to see that one yet.

14. Ever walked out of a movie?

Oh hell yes. The first one ever was Highlander II. What unmitigated dreck!

15. Name a movie that made you cry in the theater.

Confession: I cry at a lot of movies. So what?

16. Popcorn?

Every time. With butter.

17. How often do you go to the movies (as opposed to renting them or watching them at home)?

Depends on what's playing. I worked in a movie theater my senior year in High School and my freshman year of college, so I like the "theater experience" of seeing a movie on the big screen. But recently the pickings have been very poor, so we go to the movies maybe once every month or two.

18. What’s the last movie you saw in the theater?

300 - My wife wants to go see it again.

19. What’s your favorite/preferred genre of movie?

Action - aka "blow-up movie," as in "that blowed-up real good!" I like well-done SciFi movies too, but they're as rare as hen's teeth.

20. What’s the first movie you remember seeing in the theater?

I know I saw movies in the theater before this one, but the one that sticks in my brain is The Posiedon Adventure in 1972. I was ten. The theater was packed. My best friend and I had to sit almost front-row off to the right side of the screen, and it was still riveting. (Hey, I was ten.)

21. What movie do you wish you had never seen?

Alien3, Rocky V, and most other sequels.

22. What is the weirdest movie you enjoyed?

Edward Scissorhands - I like Tim Burton films, and they tend to the weird. I like Johnny Depp, and so does he.

23. What is the scariest movie you’ve seen?

Alien - the best combination: SciFi and horror done to the nth degree. I was so tense through that movie that my abdomen ached the next day.

24. What is the funniest movie you’ve seen?

Without doubt, Monty Python and the Holy Grail - funny from the opening credits all the way to the end.