Time for a new one:
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
Friday, October 30, 2009
No charges for man, 80, who shot, killed burglarNo more jokes about .25's, OK? As with real-estate, defensive shooting is all about location, location, location. Even a .25 to the noggin tends to take the fight out of your opponent.
GREENSBORO (NC) — An 80-year-old man who shot an intruder inside his apartment will not face criminal charges.
The Guilford County District Attorney’s Office will not charge Charles Haithcock , who fatally shot Michael Lamont Medley Jr. on Oct. 14 .
Haithcock was inside his apartment on 1125 Walnut St. before dawn that morning when Medley, 19, broke in through a window carrying a weapon. Haithcock shot Medley with a handgun while Medley was inside the residence. Medley later died at Moses Cone Hospital.
““The law says that Mr. Haithcock had the right to use deadly force against an intruder that’s in his home when he believes that his own life is in risk, which that belief is pretty reasonable,” said Assistant District Attorney Howard Neumann .
Even if Haithcock hadn’t seen a weapon in the suspect’s hand, Neumann said, Haithcock could have used deadly force if he believed that the intruder was about to commit a felony. In this case, Medley was suspected of attempting to commit burglary.
Neumann gathered from evidence that Haithcock was in his bedroom when Medley removed an air conditioning unit from a window and broke into the home. Haithcock heard a noise inside the home near his bedroom. Armed with a .25-caliber handgun, he opened the bedroom door and saw a man holding a weapon. Neumann said Medley had a BB gun.
The elderly man tried to slam the door to his bedroom as the intruder tried to open it. Haithcock blindly fired three times through the door. Medley was shot twice in the torso and once in the head, Neumann said.
Thanks to Zendo Deb for the pointer.
Each year my daughter gives me a Dilbert desk calendar for Christmas. Here's today's oh-so-accurate 'toon:
So far I've had "successful" debates with Jack, Alex, and Dr. Danny Cline, some short exchanges with Professor Saul Cornell, Laura Washington, Dr. John D. Kelly IV, and James Kelly of Scotland.
I'm sure there've been a couple more, but those are the ones that come immediately to mind. However, the invitation to debate is most often declined.
I wonder why that is?
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Worshipping nature is, as far as I'm concerned, a perfectly understandable thing to do. We are, after all, the product of it. But forgetting (or ignoring) that Nature can be a coldhearted bitch is something that many people learn is a very bad idea, each and every year.
Nineteen year-old up-and-coming Folk singer Taylor Mitchell learned this lesson yesterday. It was one of the last lessons of her short life:
Coyotes kill woman on hike in Canadian parkThose beautiful wild animals aren't Disney Audio-Animatronics. While this was in Canada, do you really have to ask why people want to be able to legally carry a firearm in a National Park?
Two coyotes attacked a promising young musician as she was hiking alone in a national park in eastern Canada, and authorities said she died Wednesday of her injuries.
The victim was identified as Taylor Mitchell, 19, a singer-songwriter from Toronto who was touring to promote her new album on the East Coast.
She was hiking solo on a trail in Cape Breton Highlands National Park in Nova Scotia on Tuesday when the attack occurred. She was airlifted to a Halifax hospital in critical condition and died Wednesday morning, authorities said.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police spokeswoman Brigdit Leger said other hikers heard Mitchell's screams for help on Tuesday and called emergency police dispatchers.
Police who were in the area reached the scene quickly and shot one of the animals, apparently wounding it. But the wounded animal and a companion coyote managed to get away.
Paul Maynard of Emergency Health Services said Mitchell already was in critical condition when paramedics arrived on the scene and had multiple bite wounds over her entire body.
"She was losing a considerable amount of blood from the wounds," he said.
Right now the way to bet is that once free societies will retreat incrementally, one trivial step after another, into a totalitarian hell. -- Mark Steyn, National Review Online - The Nationalization of Your ChildrenThing is, I'm afraid he's not wrong.
(h/t: Instapundit who advises Britons "Buy a gun. Oops! Too late for that . . . .")
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
I apologize for my tardiness. The annual fundraising drive is on, and I have joined Team ARMY. As most of my readers already know, the annual Gun Blogger Rendezvous we hold in Reno raises money to support Project VALOUR-IT, and last September we collected over $8,000 for the cause.
But that's just a drop in the bucket.
I know the economy sucks and things are tight all over, but I ask that you do what you can for our guys and girls who come home from war with less parts than they left with, and who will be coping with those changes for the rest of their lives.
As Maj. Zeigenfuss put it, what would YOU give YOUR right nut for?
The drive goes on through November 11. And thanks.
"Reality TV" is an absurd concept to people that live in the real world of work and worry. They get reality every day, they don't need a faux one to amuse themselves. Cubicle-bound endomorphs think a contest that looks like figuring out a subway map, a bus schedule, and an airport tote board is an "Amazing Race." Catching a trolley is not a bloodsport, no matter how heavy your backpack full of energy bars is. Adults going camping while participating in activities too silly and sedentary for an overweight child's summer camp, with office politics thrown in, hardly makes them a "Survivor." I'm told that when you're all done watching all this on TV, you're going to weave your own clothes and barter with your next-door neighbor, the grizzly bear, with Kruggerands. Sure you are.Via Phelps
-- Sippican Cottage, Going Norm Galt
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Mulligan from Do Over maintains a "New Shooter Invite" page. He's had a hit from someone in Saskatchewan who asks if there's anyone up there who offers to take new shooters to the range.
I went out to lunch today, planning on visiting a restaurant I haven't been to in a while, Thunder Canyon Brewery. I don't drink, but they've got pretty decent burgers.
I was stopped by the sign on the door informing me that handguns were not welcome inside, pursuant to the passage of a law that went into effect on Sept. 30 that allows CCW permit holders to carry their firearms into restaurants that serve alcohol, as long as said restaurant does not prohibit such, and as long as the carrier does not consume alcohol.
I started to turn away, but thought better of it. As I've noted previously, I carry in my wallet some cards just for incidents of this type:
I went inside and asked for the manager. When he arrived, I introduced myself and handed him a card. "I appreciate your right to put up your sign, but I just wanted you to know that you wouldn't be getting my business, and I'll do what I can to make sure others will avoid your business as well," I said. We exchanged a few more words (pleasantly), and I went on my way.
While waiting for the manager, I noted that there were business cards at the hostess' desk, so I'd picked one up. His name and email address were on it, so after I got back from lunch - having eaten elsewhere - I dropped him this note:
My name is Kevin Baker. We met this morning when I gave you a small "business card" protesting the posting of a "no guns" sign on the front door of your establishment. Thank you for your time.We'll see if he gives me any response.
If you have an additional moment, I'd like to expand a bit on the short discussion we had before I left. You noted that several of managers of (I assume) other facilities were gun owners, many were CCW permit holders, and "about half" were NRA members, but that you all shared a belief that "guns and alcohol don't mix." We agree on that point. I noted that those people who jump through the necessary hoops to get a CCW permit are not the kind of people who are likely to violate the law by drinking while armed. This is one of the points I'd like to expand on.
Can I assume that you are a gun owner? Possibly even the possessor of a CCW permit?
Would you drink while carrying?
Here is my problem with denying me (and others) the ability to carry in your restaurant: I carry a firearm for the protection of myself and (if necessary) others. Like you, I believe that guns and alcohol don't mix. In order for me to eat in your restaurant, you oblige me to remove my firearm and leave it in my vehicle, not only disarming me but making my firearm vulnerable to being stolen. And you do this because you fear that I might violate the law by drinking alcohol - while armed - in your establishment.
This doesn't strike you as illogical? It's OK for me to enter your establishment disarmed, drink, and then go climb into my 3,000lb pickup truck and drive? I'm to be trusted to operate a motor vehicle safely after drinking, but I'm not to be trusted to carry a firearm and not drink?
As I noted this morning, people who are willing to carry a firearm and drink aren't going to be dissuaded by your sign, they're going to break the law anyway. But you've decided it's better to disarm me, require me to leave my firearm in my vehicle while I have a burger and fries with friends because, well, I won't break the law by carrying in a restaurant that has the proper signs displayed.
The argument is ludicrous on its face.
What your sign says is "WE DON'T TRUST YOU, OUR CUSTOMERS." And it says it to the tiny fraction of the population - those of us with CCW permits - who have been proven to be the most trustworthy.
And for that reason, I won't give you my business and I'll encourage others not to either.
Thank you for your attention.
UPDATE 10/30: I did get a reply.
Kevin,But it is statistically proven that CCW carriers are more law-abiding as a group than (*gasp!*) police officers.
Thanks for your input, but really it's a moot point. What I wish I would have said to you is this....The entire Foothills Mall property has not allowed firearms for quite sometime, so this new gun law hasn't really changed anything as far as Thunder Canyon Brewery is concerned.
We've had a couple complaints from gun owners like yourself. We've also had people tell us they really appreciate the sign being there.
The reason I put the sign up in the first place was because some guy called me on the phone pissed off that we were even thinking about putting a sign up. He sounded out of his mind and promised me he was going to rush over for lunch, armed, and exercise his right because he wasn't breaking any laws. Honestly, he sounded nuts. I put the sign up. If he did come in for lunch that day, before I put the sign up, he DID break the law. The Foothills Mall doesn't allow firmarms(sic) on their property. We've decided to leave the signs up for the time being so there would not be confusion or contradiction between the Foothills Mall policy and our own.
I actually think that you and I agree on most things regarding all the issues being brought up. There are a couple of points I would disagree with however, the first being the "jumping through the necessary hoops to get a CCW". There aren't really many hoops. Take a class (the test is easy), hit a target 7 out of 10 times (hopefully easy if you're a gun owner), and pass a backround(sic) check (should be easy). Everyone I've ever talked to has said there were people in their CCW class that they felt shouldn't get a CCW based soley on the weird(sic) questions and situations they brought up. To say that EVERYONE who has a CCW "has proven to be the most trustworthy" is a little optimistic at least.
Next, I'd like you to put yourself in my situation. I'll give you some backround(sic). TCB is an independent business. We're not corperate(sic). We lose a lawsuit, we're through. 75 people lose there(sic) jobs. Let's say someone is sitting at the bar. They have their CCW and are carrying a firearm, not drinking. A dangerous situation arises and they feel that someone elses(sic) life is in danger so they draw there(sic) weapon. A number of things could happen:5. The suspect starts shooting up your (unarmed) clientele. You get sued for disarming them and not providing other security.
1. They shoot and kill the suspect.....they're a hero
2. They shoot and kill the suspect but the bullet exits the suspect and hits someone else (if we don't have a "No Firearms Sign" up, we get sued)
3. They miss the suspect and hit someone else (we get sued)
4. The suspect sees the CCW owner draw his weapon and begins shooting (we get sued)
It's a no-win situation.
You see where I'm going? Sure, I'd love to have plain clothes police officers (we actually quite often do, a number of them are regulars) in the restaurant all the time protecting me, our employees, and our guests from dangerous situations. Do I want civilians playing the same role? The simple answer is no.Ah, yes. Somehow drawing a .gov paycheck imbues the recipient with magical powers far beyond those of mere mortals! (Actually, it does - it's called sovereign immunity.)
And as far as you needing to be armed while you dine at TCB? I've been there 12 years and never felt un-safe. If you feel it's so un-safe that you can't dine there unarmed, then don't dine there. I wouldn't dine anywhere (or work for that matter) I felt unsafe either.You feel safe walking to your car at the end of the day? Possibly carrying the day's receipts for night deposit? Can you tell me, honestly, where I will never need to carry? It would make my life easier. It's far simpler just to carry everywhere than it is to put it on, take it off, put it on, take it off . . . .
And, a Breda puts it, "Carry your gun. It's a lot lighter burden than regret."
I won't be carrying it to your restaurant.
You’re a product of the public system, they say. You turned out all right, so it must be…..
Stop looking for outside influences as the root cause of problems. I drank, I smoked, I slept with girls and went to parties and ditched class and got into trouble. I also realized that the school systems are a joke, and learned to work that in my favor. Yeah, I learned…how to skirt the system, just as these jokers today are doing. But in my case, I had a genuine hunger for knowledge.
I read ceaselessly outside of school. I worked on chemistry and physics stuff at home, because I liked it. I did computer science classes at the JC. I learned…just not in that system. I played catch up in college for it, but that was easy. For me…not them.
So, no…the problem is the system.
The kids are getting dumber.
I have data to support this statement. It is not an opinion.
Every. Single. Year. It happens. The graduating class scores lower on their tests than the year before, and the next year is lower, and lower, etc. All this while classes are being cut due to budget constraints, schools are tightening admissions requirements and looking for higher and higher test scores and GPA’s.
They’re still being filled up, but not by local kids.
Local kids are failing. They start college level math, something for which they should be prepared, and then throw their hands up in defeat because they never learned the foundation materials.
You can’t do quadratics when your teacher let you watch TV in class instead of teaching you the order of operations.
Do you understand?
I’ve got a girl here, born in the US, schooled here to 13 years in this system, ready to receive a diploma from this system. I give her a test on college level material, and she does so poorly THE COMPUTER ASSUMES SHE MUST NOT SPEAK ENGLISH!
Does that not concern anyone else?
Ballistic Deanimation - Dumbing Down
Monday, October 26, 2009
Read the entire piece.A week ago I was on a Southwest flight from Dallas sitting next to a very pleasant middle-aged woman who was busily grading papers. As I finished watching one of America's greatest cinematic masterpieces on my (brand-new) MacBook Pro, I glanced over at some of the work. It looked identical to the work I see from my ten-year-old daughter and her classmates: Mostly simple sentences, a few dreadful spelling mistakes, and virtually no complex analysis. Unlike my daughter's classmates, however, this teacher's students skipped entire sections of their tests — failing to answer half the questions.I was just about to open my mouth and say, "Fifth grade?" when I caught myself. Instead, I said "What grade?""Junior English.""High school?"Yes. In suburban Chicago."I almost choked on my peanuts.
-- David French, National Review Online - Low Graduation Rates and the Total Lack of Student Effort
...with a .25?
As others have said, another mugger suffers from a severe failure in the victim selection process when he chose Caleb as his intended target.
I hope the coffee gave him a good burn.
Julie lives in Australia, a land that the gun-control forces here in the States want us to emulate when it comes to gun control. Here is her description of the process required to get a rifle added to her firearms license:
It was only an addition of a category A firearm - which means that the local police station can process it and it doesn't have to go to the Firearms Branch for prior approval so it should have been a simple matter.A half-day of waiting, run-around, and bureaucracy that at any time could have ended if any one of those same bureaucrats had decided otherwise.
I went into the Police Station yesterday to make an appointment with the Firearms Officer. I initially made the appointment for Thursday but my day off was changed so I rang the Station at 8.30am this morning to change the appointment to today and check the requirements for transportation of the firearm etc.
The (Acting) Firearms Officer wasn't in yet (he was supposed to get in at 9am) so I left a message for him to ring me. An hour and a half later I had heard nothing so I rang again to be told that he had called in sick.
Now I could have just decided to wait until another day off coincided with a firearm licensing day (Wednesday or Thursday at my local Police Station) and hope that the Firearms Officer wasn't sick that day. However, I thought I would try and see if I could get this processed today. So I rang the Firearms Branch to see what they suggested.
They didn't really have any ideas but they agreed with my suggestion that I try the District HQ Station. I rang that station and asked to be put through to the Firearms Officer there and after being cut off once I finally got to talk to someone.
The cop I spoke to wasn't the Firearms Officer but he was a really nice helpful guy who decided that I should be able to get the rifle on a licence today and was going to help me make this happen. The Firearms Officer had been told off previously by his boss for processing licences for another station so he wasn't willing to help. So the nice cop then rang my local station and arranged with a Sargent there to process it for me (he told me the Sargent's name was Steve).
So I went back to my station and asked for Steve and, guess what, he didn't exist :) ... However, the cop there, after I explained what I was trying to do decided to be helpful and process it for me.
So I filled in the application form for the licence (2 pages), a form the firearm's details (2 pages), a statement regarding my safe (1 page) and another form for some reason (2 pages). They also took a photocopy of my Driver's Licence and club membership card and my property letter. The statement regarding the safe had to be witnessed by a cop so the cop I was dealing with grabbed another cop walking by to do this.
The two cops then filled in a permit for me to transport the firearm from my house back to the station and I went and got the rifle.
When I got back to the station the cop checked the make and serial number and wrote it as an addition on my licence. After I paid my $28 I was free to take the rifle and go home :)
But here's the thing that stood out to me:
I was quite pleased with this experience, especially with the two cops who decided that this should be possible.She was quite pleased with the experience. Ah, yes - the soft bigotry of low expectations!
I'm quite piqued with a society that decided that this should be necessary.
Sorry, Julie, but that's not something anybody should be pleased about.
[millionmommarch]"England can do it! Australia can do it! We can too!"[/millionmommarch]
Not here. Not on my watch.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
As I previously observed, if you trace any of these back far enough, you’ll find a Stalinist intellectual at the bottom. (The last two items on the list, for example, came to us courtesy of Frantz Fanon. The fourth item is the Baran-Wallerstein “world system” thesis.) Most were staples of Soviet propaganda at the same time they were being promoted by “progressives” (read: Marxists and the dupes of Marxists) within the Western intelligentsia.
- There is no truth, only competing agendas.
- All Western (and especially American) claims to moral superiority over Communism/Fascism/Islam are vitiated by the West’s history of racism and colonialism.
- There are no objective standards by which we may judge one culture to be better than another. Anyone who claims that there are such standards is an evil oppressor.
- The prosperity of the West is built on ruthless exploitation of the Third World; therefore Westerners actually deserve to be impoverished and miserable.
- Crime is the fault of society, not the individual criminal. Poor criminals are entitled to what they take. Submitting to criminal predation is more virtuous than resisting it.
- The poor are victims. Criminals are victims. And only victims are virtuous. Therefore only the poor and criminals are virtuous. (Rich people can borrow some virtue by identifying with poor people and criminals.)
- For a virtuous person, violence and war are never justified. It is always better to be a victim than to fight, or even to defend oneself. But ‘oppressed’ people are allowed to use violence anyway; they are merely reflecting the evil of their oppressors.
- When confronted with terror, the only moral course for a Westerner is to apologize for past sins, understand the terrorist’s point of view, and make concessions.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Britain now has some of the toughest gun laws in the world. We recognize that only the strictest control of firearms will protect the public.That was right after passage of the handgun ban.
-- Home Office Minister Alun Michael, 11/3/97 press release.
Police officers armed with submachine guns are to be deployed on routine patrol of Britain's streets for the first time. A hand-picked team from CO19, the Metropolitan Police's elite firearms unit, will walk the beat in gun crime hotspots where armed gangs have turned entire estates into "no go" zones.This, in a country where at least one media outlet called the full-auto Glock 18 pistol the Most Terrifying Gun in the World!
Local politicians and anti-gun campaigners have reacted with anger at the news that the officers will carry Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine guns – capable of firing up to 800 rounds-per-minute – and Glock semi-automatic pistols.
CO19 currently provides armed support in volatile situations like sieges and terrorist attacks, with its officers on constant call in vehicles around London.Really! Gangs have access to firearms on an island nation with "the strictest control of firearms" that they were promised would "protect the public"?
But this is the first time that armed officers will be sent on permanent foot patrol anywhere in the country outside Northern Ireland.
"Historically, CO19 was only called out when someone rang up to report a gun crime," said Inspector Derek Carroll, head of the new unit.
"But a lot of streets in London have young people in postcode gangs, aged 14 and upwards, and a lot of communities feel that they are controlling areas of estates.
"We are looking at gangs that have access to firearms and will be robust in dealing with them and disrupting and deterring them."
Say it ain't so!
The team of 18 constables, led by an inspector and two sergeants, will begin their patrols of Brixton, Haringey and Tottenham on Nov 9, following successful trial schemes.Residents that have been told, literally for decades, that guns are evil, and that fully-automatic weapons are only useful for mowing down large crowds indiscriminately.
The officers – some on motorbikes – will carrying out weapon "sweeps" of their neighbourhoods in an effort to deter gang members from carrying guns, and are also intended to be a reassuring presence for residents.
You'd think someone would comment on the dichotomy there.
"My view is that just because you carry a gun, it should not affect the way you police," Inspector Carroll added. "We chat to people and they love it."Already torn, Ms. Arnold, already torn.
Unlike their counterparts in the United States, British police officers not routinely carry guns, although armed patrols are frequently deployed in the aftermath of shootings and to guard potential terrorist targets.
In October 2000 armed officers on the beat were temporarily introduced in Nottingham after a string of drug-related deaths.
Jennette Arnold, a Labour London Assembly member for northeast London constituency, said that the patrols threatened to tear up the contract between the community and the police.
"No one asked us or the people I represent if this was acceptable and when they do I shall tell them it isn't. It isn't acceptable to throw away the principle of policing by consent," she said.Soooo, you're saying that having armed foot patrols in the area might "escalate the situation"? Who do you represent, Ms. Marshall-Andrews? The residents or the thugs?
Gill Marshall-Andrews, chairwoman of the Gun Control Network campaign group, described the routine arming of officers as a "very retrograde step" and warned that it could lead to higher levels of gun crime.
"This is likely to raise the stakes and encourage more criminals, especially young criminals, to arm themselves," she said.
"Gun crime in this country is very low by international standards and that's largely because there aren't many guns about. Arming police officers sends out all the wrong messages."No internal link to that one, but a second on Bing gets you this:
The Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, has long campaigned against attempts to arm a larger section of the force, but said it had no objection to the new scheme.
Simon Reed, vice-chairman of the national federation, said that although majority of his members did not wish be to armed, forces must be free to respond to particular threats.
"The ethos will always be that the British police are unarmed, but we need officers to be able to use firearms when appropriate," he said. "My feeling is that the current balance is just about right."
The Home Office declined to comment, saying that the operational use of firearms was a matter for local forces.
Officers from CO19, formerly known as SO19, have been involved in a number of high-profile incidents in the capital, including the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell station in 2005.
Police officers in Jean Charles de Menezes shooting escape punishmentSame paper. Imagine that. The public should feel very secure!
No police officers involved in the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes will be disciplined, despite an inquest finding that catastrophic failures led to his death in London.
Gun-related crime is on the increase in London with 1,736 gun crimes reported in London between April and September this year – up 17 per cent on 2008.Yup, Gun crime in the UK is very low by international standards, but it keeps going UP. It keeps going up in the face of Alun Michael's proclamation that "only the strictest control of firearms will protect the public."
The problem of turf violence between drugs gangs was highlighted earlier this month with a spate of shootings in north London linked to two Turkish gangs, the Tottenham Boys and the Bombacilar.
It's a stone bitch when reality won't conform to the theory, isn't it? And it's even worse when someone points it out.
(h/t: TFS Magnum)
Thursday, October 22, 2009
First of all, we need to have urban schools that are so good that they will not be abandoned by white people, and this is impossible without equitable funding. Until we have equitable funding for our urban schools, there's no chance in the world that white people in large numbers are going to return. So in the short run, the struggle is for not just adequate resources. I don't like that term, because I think adequate is an ambiguous word. But for genuinely equitable resources at the level of the highest and big suburban districts in this country.From Tom McClintock, currently the Representative of the 4th District of California, but at the time (2005) a California state Senator:
Now in California, some people mistakenly think it's different because, you know, there is officially a degree of equity in the California schools. But in reality this isn't so because the affluent school communities in California raise hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, privately to subsidize their schools.
A Modest Proposal for Saving Our SchoolsYeah. Money's the problem.
The multi-million dollar campaign paid by starving teachers’ unions has finally placed our sadly neglected schools at the center of the budget debate.
Across California, children are bringing home notes warning of dire consequences if Gov. Schwarzenegger’s scorched earth budget is approved – a budget that slashes Proposition 98 public school spending from $42.2 billion this year all the way down to $44.7 billion next year. That should be proof enough that our math programs are suffering.
As a public school parent, I have given this crisis a great deal of thought and have a modest suggestion to help weather these dark days.
Maybe – as a temporary measure only – we should spend our school dollars on our schools. I realize that this is a radical departure from current practice, but desperate times require desperate measures.
The Governor proposed spending $10,084 per student from all sources. Devoting all of this money to the classroom would require turning tens of thousands of school bureaucrats, consultants, advisors and specialists onto the streets with no means of support or marketable job skills, something that no enlightened social democracy should allow.
So I will begin by excluding from this discussion the entire budget of the State Department of Education, as well as the pension system, debt service, special education, child care, nutrition programs and adult education. I also propose setting aside $3 billion to pay an additional 30,000 school bureaucrats $100,000-per-year (roughly the population of Monterey) with the proviso that they stay away from the classroom and pay their own hotel bills at conferences.
This leaves a mere $6,937 per student, which, for the duration of the funding crisis, I propose devoting to the classroom.
To illustrate how we might scrape by at this subsistence level, let’s use a hypothetical school of 180 students with only $1.2 million to get through the year.
We have all seen the pictures of filthy bathrooms, leaky roofs, peeling paint and crumbling plaster to which our children have been condemned. I propose that we rescue them from this squalor by leasing out luxury commercial office space. Our school will need 4,800 square feet for five classrooms (the sixth class is gym). At $33 per foot, an annual lease will cost $158,400.
This will provide executive washrooms, around-the-clock janitorial service, wall-to-wall carpeting, utilities and music in the elevators. We’ll also need new desks to preserve the professional ambiance.
Next, we’ll need to hire five teachers – but not just any teachers. I propose hiring only associate professors from the California State University at their level of pay. Since university professors generally assign more reading, we’ll need 12 of the latest edition, hardcover books for each student at an average $75 per book, plus an extra $5 to have the student’s name engraved in gold leaf on the cover.
Since our conventional gym classes haven’t stemmed the childhood obesity epidemic, I propose replacing them with an annual membership at a private health club for $39.95 per month. This would provide our children with a trained and courteous staff of nutrition and fitness counselors, aerobics classes and the latest in cardiovascular training technology.
Finally, we’ll hire an $80,000 administrator with a $40,000 secretary because – well, I don’t know exactly why, but we always have.
Our bare-bones budget comes to this:
5 classrooms $158,400 150 Desks @ $130 $19,500 180 annual health club memberships @ $480 $86,400 2,160 textbooks @ $80 $172,800 5 C.S.U. Associate Professors @ $67,093 $335,465 1 Administrator $80,000 1 Secretary $40,000 24% faculty and staff benefits $109,312 Offices, expenses and insurance $30,000 TOTAL $1,031,877
This budget leaves a razor-thin reserve of just $216,703 or $1,204 per pupil, which can pay for necessities like paper, pencils, personal computers and extra-curricular travel. After all, what’s the point of taking four years of French if you can’t see Paris in the spring?
The school I have just described is the school we’re paying for. Maybe it’s time to ask why it’s not the school we’re getting.
Other, wiser, governors have made the prudent decision not to ask such embarrassing questions of the education-industrial complex because it makes them very angry. Apparently the unions believe that with enough of a beating, Gov. Schwarzenegger will see things the same way.
Perhaps. But there’s an old saying that you can’t fill a broken bucket by pouring more water into it. Maybe it’s time to fix the bucket.
For that matter, future classroom teachers must search far in ed-school syllabi to find a single reference to any of (E.D.) Hirsch’s work—yet required readings by radical education thinkers such as Paulo Freire, Jonathan Kozol, and ex-Weatherman Bill Ayers are common. From these texts, prospective teachers will learn that the purpose of schooling in America isn't to create knowledgeable, civic-minded citizens, loyal to the nation's democratic institutions, as Jefferson dreamed, but rather to undermine those institutions and turn children into champions of "social justice" as defined by today’s America-hating far Left.
-- E. D. Hirsch’s Curriculum for Democracy, by Sol Stern, City Journal Autumn 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Captain in Somali pirate drama mulls career changeBut here's the point I want to emphasize:
UNDERHILL, Vt. — He's got a book deal, and a movie could be in the works. He's been to the White House to meet the president, to the Queen Mary ocean liner for a vacation and back to his modest 1830s Vermont farmhouse. He gives motivational speeches on the lecture circuit.
Now, six months after his high-seas drama with Somali pirates finished with a happy ending, Capt. Richard Phillips is contemplating calling it quits with the sea.
"I have been doing it for 30 years. Maybe it's time to do something else," he said Monday, sitting for an interview in his living room.
Phillips, 54, was the captain of the Maersk Alabama, a U.S.-flagged cargo ship hijacked April 8 off the coast of Somalia.
One of the first things Phillips did once he got home was learn how to use an AK-47.Capt. Phillips now understands that he is the person responsible for his protection.
Interesting that the AP printed that.
E.D. Hirsch, Jr. is, according to Wikipedia:
. . . a U.S. educator and academic literary critic. Now retired, he was until recently the University Professor of Education and Humanities and the Linden Kent Memorial Professor of English Emeritus at the University of Virginia. He is best known for his writings about cultural literacy.It states further:
In 1977 Hirsch published The Philosophy of Composition, an investigation into the question of what makes prose more or less readable. His work on composition led to a major shift in his career. While giving tests of relative readability at two colleges in Virginia, he discovered that while the relative readability of a text was an important factor in determining comprehension, an even more important consideration was background knowledge. Students at the University of Virginia were able to understand a passage on Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee, while students at a community college struggled with it, apparently lacking basic understanding of the American Civil War. This and related discoveries led Hirsch to formulate the concept of cultural literacy — the idea that reading comprehension requires not just formal decoding skills but also wide-ranging background knowledge. He concluded that schools should not be neutral about what is taught but should teach a highly specific curriculum that would allow children to understand things writers take for granted.(Bold emphasis is mine.) Professor Hirsch has a new book out, The Making of Americans: Democracy and Our Schools, and was recently interviewed by National Review Online's John J. Miller for NRO's Between the Covers series. I've transcribed some of that interview, which largely echoes the Wikipedia entry, but here goes:
Hirsch founded the Core Knowledge Foundation in 1986, and wrote Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs To Know in 1987. He also co-wrote The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy in 1988. Cultural Literacy became a best-seller, but Hirsch's ideas were extremely controversial. Although himself a liberal, he was attacked as a neo-conservative and advocate for a conservative, lily-white curriculum, a promoter of "drill and kill" pedagogy and a reactionary force. His theories have been criticized for not addressing supposed differences in learning styles and for a lack of information about minorities.
Beginning in 1997 Hirsch began publishing books in the Core Knowledge Series. Each book focuses on the content knowledge that should be taught to each particular elementary grade level. There are different books covering kindergarten through sixth grades, plus at least one book outlining an overview of what should be covered in the whole elementary curriculum.
In 1996, Hirsch published The Schools We Need and Why We Don't Have Them. In it, Hirsch proposed that Romanticized, anti-knowledge theories of education prevalent in America are not only the cause of America's lackluster educational performance, but also a cause of widening inequalities in class and race. Hirsch portrays the focus of American educational theory as one which attempts to give students intellectual tools such as "critical thinking skills", but which denigrates teaching any actual content, labeling it "mere rote learning". Hirsch states that it is this attitude which has failed to develop knowledgeable students.
John J. Miller: Professor Hirsch, when it comes to the education of young children, from kindergarten through elementary up through middle school, what is America doing fundamentally wrong?But the philosophy cannot be wrong! Do it again, only HARDER!
E.D. Hirsch, Jr.: What they're doing fundamentally wrong is not having a cumulative and sequenced curriculum. That seems unbelievable perhaps to somebody outside the education world, but for the last more than half-century there has been no definite curriculum. There has been no commonality, not just across schools, but within schools. from one classroom to another. Students will be studying different things, and that, I think, has been the chief problem both in the quality of our better students - which is not always very high - and in the great gap that has developed between blacks and Hispanics on one side and whites and Asians on the other.
JJM: Shouldn't you just focus on critical thinking skills as opposed to the memorization of names and dates?
EDH.: Thank you for asking that question. That is the current doctrine of the schools, that schools should be focusing on critical thinking skills rather than mere facts, and that idea that such a thing is possible has been exploded by cognitive science and that's basically the reason - that is the formal isolable skills that are independent of any particular domain - that idea has been shown to be wrong. And if you're operating on a wrong idea, it's a sufficient explanation as to why the school system has not been working.
JJM: What should the schools be doing differently?And he's quite right about that. The one thing that I've noted about the really bright people on the web today is their wide-ranging knowledge and the amount of reading they've done to achieve it. This is done outside the formal education system - in spite of it, in fact.
EDH: Well, just as a general point before I mention that, ideas are so terribly important in this field. (John Maynard) Keynes once said "the world is ruled by little else." It's certainly true in our educational system. You asked what I'd do differently to overcome this incoherence of content. I would have a core curriculum in the early grades, a very specific, very definite core. Shouldn't take up more than fifty percent of the school time, but that would enable a teacher to deal constructively with a new incoming class, because the students would have a basis for the next lesson. Now teacher's jobs - people talk about teacher quality quite a lot - but the job of a teacher gets increasingly difficult, veering on impossibility as you go up the grades in an American school because of this diversity of preparation.
JJM: This core curriculum would consist of what?
EDH: Well, it should consist - first of all it should focus on content areas of the standard academic subjects. Science, history and the arts, and math. But in the language arts section - the arts include literature, of course - the language arts section has been a repository for the early grades of a lot of wasted time, and there I believe that the focus on language should be a focus on knowledge, because that's what cognitive science is saying should be happening now.
JJM: And what are we doing wrong right now? Are teachers just randomly assigning different stories with no particular rationale?
EDH: Yes, that's right. Well, there's no particular rationale for the stories. The rationale is for the idea that they are learning process skills: finding the main idea, questioning the author, learning how to squeeze meaning out of text without having the needed background knowledge and vocabulary to comprehend the text. So obviously to common sense, common sense would say that wouldn't work, and obviously it doesn't work.
JJM: In the 1980's you wrote an influential book called Cultural Literacy. What was that book about, and have Americans become more or less culturally literate since then?And that "shared knowledge that isn't spoken, just taken for granted" IS CULTURE.
EDH: Well, the trend line . . . We can judge that by the reading scores of twelfth graders in the National Assessment of Educational Progress, and the trend line has been a gentle downward slope, so the implication is that we've become, we share less common knowledge among each other. And that's not surprising given the diversity of inputs since the internet developed.
JJM: And your point would be that the schools need to teach cultural literacy to children so that there are common areas of knowledge that they share as Americans.
EDH: Yes, and though I don't use that term "cultural literacy" because I found it was a hot-button term. I leave out the term "culture" now because we're talking about the "public sphere" is the term I use in this new book which is a more accurate description in a way. Cultures are what our American public sphere holds together, a lot of diverse cultures and points of view, and that was actually the Founders conception. And I like John Ralston's (sp?) description of that; this larger commonality is a social union of social unions. But this wider public sphere is held together by language, and language can only function on the basis of shared knowledge that isn't spoken, just taken for granted. That's the only way communication can occur.
Remember that quote from Jane Jacobs?
People living in vigorous cultures typically treasure those cultures and resist any threat to them. How and why can a people so totally discard a formerly vital culture that it becomes literally lost?And a civilization is truly dead, she says, when "even the memory of what has been lost is lost."
Every culture takes pains to educate its young so that they, in their turn, can practice and transmit it completely. Our civilization, however, is failing to do that. On the contrary, we are systematically training our young not to embrace the culture that brought us greatness.
That's what Professor Hirsch is describing here, the deliberate, systematic training of our young not to embrace the culture that brought us greatness.
JJM: It sounds like a retreat saying we can no longer speak of "cultural literacy." Of course it was a hot-button issue, but that doesn't mean it was wrong.". . . you have to choose words carefully so that people don't make the wrong assumptions." But what if they deliberately make those assumptions? If you challenge their worldview, they must interpret your ideas as an attack and respond accordingly. Note that Hirsch states in the opening paragraph of this interview that for more than half a century there has been no "definite curriculum" taught in the public schools, and as I have quoted John Taylor Gatto, he sets the date for the full-court press of this onslaught to 1965. I put the beginnings of it with John Dewey and the first decades of the 20th Century.
EDH: Well, it depends. My general point there is you have to choose words carefully so that people don't make the wrong assumptions. "Cultural literacy," seems, people think of it as "cultural imperialism" which will get in the way of your own familial culture. There is a national culture, but it's a different - in the United States it's a different kind of culture. It's limited, it's tolerant . . . For example in France schoolgirls can't wear headscarves. That's a problem that would never arise significantly in the United States. 'No, no, that's your culture, you can come to school and wear headscarves.' It's a very accommodating public sphere, and if you want to call it a national or federal culture, that's OK, it wouldn't be inaccurate. But I think it's preferable to understand that there is this national or federal dimension in our life that we also share, and you can call it a culture if you like, but you don't have to.
JJM: In this new book, The Making of Americans, you have a line I'd like to read: "One of the greatest disappointments I have felt in the twenty-five years that I have been actively engaged in education reform is the frustration of being warmly welcomed by conservatives but shunned by fellow liberals." Why has this gone on, and isn't it obvious by now that you should join us conservatives on the Right?He's ==><== this close. He can see the logical disconnect, but he cannot make the cognitive leap.
EDH: (laughing) Well, in one dimension I have. That is, being a social liberal is not inconsistent with being an educational conservative. And I think myself that's a very cogent position to hold. And I think in fact my complaint about my fellow democrats is that if they have equal justice or equality of opportunity in education as one of their affirmed aims, then they have to be educational conservatives because that's the only way to achieve equal educational opportunity. That's why I'm in the position I'm in.
Bill Whittle did an interesting video essay recently that at the end strongly recommended his viewers to watch a three-piece series on YouTube about the Frankfurt School and "the history of political correctness." I'd heard of the Frankfurt School, but these three pieces are quite interesting, particularly when they discuss "critical theory." From Part 1:
When the First World War began in 1914 the worker's loyalty to their country proved stronger than their so-called "class consciousness." They willingly put on their uniforms, French or German, Austrian or Russian or British, and marched off by the millions to fight each other. In 1917 a Marxist revolution did occur in Russia, but it failed to spread to Western Europe, again contradicting orthodox Marxist theory. At the war's end, Marxist theorists had to confront the question, "What had gone wrong?" Antonio Gramsci of Italy and György Lukács of Hungary believed they had the answer. Gramsci and Lukács argued that Western culture had blinded the working class to its true Marxist class interests. Before a Marxist revolution could take place, Western culture had to be destroyed. In 1919 Lukács, who was considered the most brilliant Marxist theorist since Marx himself, asked "Who will save us from Western civilization?"And Hirsch, with his educational conservatism, his attempt to pass on to our children our national culture, "that shared knowledge that isn't spoken, just taken for granted," isn't politically correct and thus must be SHUNNED!
. . . in Germany a new attempt to create a Marxist critique of Western culture was taking shape. There, the wealthy young son of a millionaire grain trader, Felix Weil, wanted to establish a public policy institute, a think-tank to serve as a home for advanced Marxist thought. Modeled on the Marx-Engels Institute in Moscow, Weil's think-tank was originally to be named The Institute for Marxism. Martin Jay, chairman of the history department at Berkeley and author of a history of the Frankfurt School, explains why the name was changed to the Institut für Sozialforschung - the Institute for Social Research:
"I think they were very interested in trying to avoid being overly labeled, so it's a fairly bland name, "The Institute for Social Research."
The Institute was affiliated with Frankfurt University in Frankfurt, Germany, and in time became known simply as "The Frankfurt School."
Following Lukács' lead, the Frankfurt school would be the vehicle that translated Marxism from economic into cultural terms, giving us what we now know as "political correctness."
Remember back when I posted the 1985 video interview of former Soviet spy Yuri Bezmenov? Bezmenov stated that his job involved the implementation of "Ideological subversion," which he defined as follows (transcribed by Useless Dissident):
(Ideological subversion is) a great brainwashing process, which goes very slow[ly] and is divided [into] four basic stages. The first one being demoralization; it takes from 15-20 years to demoralize a nation. Why that many years? Because this is the minimum number of years which [is required] to educate one generation of students in the country of your enemy, exposed to the ideology of the enemy. In other words, Marxist-Leninist ideology is being pumped into the soft heads of at least three generations of American students, without being challenged, or counter-balanced by the basic values of Americanism (American patriotism).The conclusion of the NRO interview:
The result? The result you can see. Most of the people who graduated in the sixties, drop-outs, or half-baked intellectuals, are now occupying the positions of power in the government, civil service, business, mass media, [and the] educational system. You are stuck with them. You cannot get rid of them. They are contaminated; they are programmed to think and react to certain stimuli in a certain pattern. You cannot change their mind[s], even if you expose them to authentic information, even if you prove that white is white and black is black, you still cannot change the basic perception and the logic of behavior. In other words, these people... the process of demoralization is complete and irreversible. To [rid] society of these people, you need another twenty or fifteen years to educate a new generation of patriotically-minded and common sense people, who would be acting in favor and in the interests of United States society.
The demoralization process in [the] United States is basically completed already. For the last 25 years...(this interview occurred in 1985) actually, it's over-fulfilled because demoralization now reaches such areas where previously not even Comrade Andropov and all his experts would even dream of such a tremendous success. Most of it is done by Americans to Americans, thanks to [a] lack of moral standards.
As I mentioned before, exposure to true information does not matter anymore. A person who was demoralized is unable to assess true information. The facts tell nothing to him. Even if I shower him with information, with authentic proof, with documents, with pictures; even if I take him by force to the Soviet Union and show him [a] concentration camp, he will refuse to believe it, until he [receives] a kick in his fan-bottom. When a military boot crashes his... then he will understand. But not before that. That's the [tragedy] of the situation of demoralization.
So basically America is stuck with demoralization and unless... even if you start right now, here, this minute, you start educating [a] new generation of American[s], it will still take you fifteen to twenty years to turn the tide of ideological perception of reality back to normalcy and patriotism.
JJM: Are schools of education and the way we train teachers part of the problem here?(My emphasis.) And those ideas came from Gramsci and Lukács, and were intended specifically to destroy Western culture.
EDH: They're the central problem. The reason we're doing the things we do in our schools, and things that have failed like not having a coherent curriculum, are based on ideas. And those ideas are promulgated in schools of education, they're indoctrinated - teachers are indoctrinated with them, and no conflicting or contrary ideas are really entertained or promoted. In fact, other kinds of ideas which would allow for a solid curriculum are seen as immoral, inhumane, teacher-centered rather than child-centered. And yes, I think that the education schools since the, really since the early part of the twentieth century have uniformly worked against a solid curriculum in the early grades, which is the thing mostly needed by our system.
Like a fish immersed, unable to notice the water in which it swims, Hirsch is unable to see that his fellow liberals cannot accept educational conservatism, because the goal is not to "achieve equal educational opportunity," but instead to demoralize the nation - to, in fact, destroy its culture, not preserve it. The end being chased is not to achieve communication, but to prevent it. As Bezmenov put it: A person who (is) demoralized is unable to assess true information. The facts tell nothing to him.
That's the GOAL.
It's been working for decades, and they're not about to stop now.
UPDATE: Isn't this an interesting coincidence? City Journal has an article out just today on Professor Hirsch, E. D. Hirsch’s Curriculum for Democracy. An excerpt:
Hirsch did his graduate studies at Yale, one of the citadels in the 1950s of the New Criticism, which argued that the intent of an author, the reader’s subjective response, and the text’s historical background were largely irrelevant to a critical analysis of the text itself.The "New Criticism" being the outcome of the Frankfurt School's "critical theory", described as:
. . . a social theory oriented toward critiquing and changing society as a whole, in contrast to traditional theory oriented only to understanding or explaining it.Well they've certainly succeeded in that.
Hirsch was at the pinnacle of the academic world, in his mid-fifties, when he was struck by an insight into how reading is taught that, he says, "changed my life." He was "feeling guilty" about the department’s inadequate freshman writing course, he recalls. Though UVA's admissions standards were as competitive as the Ivies', the reading and writing skills of many incoming students were poor, sure to handicap them in their future academic work. In trying to figure out how to close this "literacy gap," Hirsch conducted an experiment on reading comprehension, using two groups of college students. Members of the first group possessed broad background knowledge in subjects like history, geography, civics, the arts, and basic science; members of the second, often from disadvantaged homes, lacked such knowledge. The knowledgeable students, it turned out, could far more easily comprehend and analyze difficult college-level texts (both fiction and nonfiction) than their poorly informed brethren could.So if the problem is that the proletariat is blinded to their Marxist class interests because of the bourgeoisie, and that the world needs to be saved from Western Civilization, wouldn't it be easier to eliminate the bourgeoisie by making them as ignorant and uneducated as the proletariat, thus destroying Western Civilization?
It certainly fits all the available evidence.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Robert Thomas told sheriff's investigators about what he observed between amateur storm chasers Richard and Mayumi Heene when he helped record Richard Heene's ideas earlier this year, Thomas' attorney, Linda Lee, said Monday. Thomas earlier sold his story to the Web site Gawker.com.Uh, dude? If the sun explodes a hole in the ground will not save your ass.
Lee said Richard Heene was "obsessed" with trying to land a TV show and become famous.
"Heene believes the world is going to end in 2012," she said. "Because of that, he wanted to make money quickly, become rich enough to build a bunker or something underground, where he can be safe from the sun exploding."
I've been listening to Vicious Circle 23 - all 164 minutes of it - and this episode was joined by Dixie - UJ's significant other. I've been wracking my brain trying to figure out whose voice she reminds me of.
Now I remember: Holly Hunter! Specifically, Holly Hunter in Always.
(I)n short, abandoning the metaphor for the factual description of the matter, international law is not international law because it cannot exercise the brute force necessary to exact compliance to its edicts, and, that is folks, in a political scientist way of looking at it, just exactly what the law is. law is applied force, and to the extent that the law is enlightened, the application of force is just, equitable, enlightened and humane. (O)n the other end of the scales, we have the example of law and its application in (I)ran, which demonstrates that the force of law is not always a good thing: it can be, and usually has been throughout history, quite brutal.I found that at GM Roper's place by way of Mark Alger, but it's a reprint of an essay by John Jay (thus the lack of capitalization.) It reminded me of the quote by Jacques Ellul I copied from Rev. Sensing:
(A)ll those people who live out beyond the pavement? (T)hey live there on purpose. not because they are afraid of the law, but precisely because they are willing to say, . . . , come get me, bring it on.
Violence is to be found everywhere and at all times, even where people pretend that it does not exist. . . every state is founded on violence and cannot maintain itself save by and through violence. . . . Everywhere we turn we find society riddled with violence. Violence is its natural condition, as Thomas Hobbes saw clearly.And Rev. Sensing's own expansion on Ellul's observation:
Ellul disagrees with the classic distinction between violence and force: it's lawyers who have invented the idea that when the state uses coercion, even brutally, it is exercising "force" and that only individuals or nongovernmental groups use violence. All states are established by violence. A government stays in power by violence or its threat and the threat is meaningless unless it can be and is employed.Read Alger's piece and its links, and definitely read Roper's post.
The fact is that society depends on violence or its threat simply to exist. That's why there are police departments in every city. But there is no moral difference between the homeowner who protects his life or property with a gun and one who does not but summons a police officer. The police use violence or its threat to protect the law-abiding. The unarmed homeowner has merely "contracted out" his use of violence.
These are things that need to be read, and spread.
Monday, October 19, 2009
So, as I said, I went to the 5th annual Big Sandy Machine Gun Shoot last Saturday. Here's just a little of what I saw there. To begin with, here's the backstop with a pan over to the firing line:
On this end of the firing line was one of the baddest setups I have ever seen: a trailer set up for hosing down the countryside - Texan, of course! (Click the thumbnails for the huge images.)
I should have taken video of that 1919 - smoke was rolling off the barrel. It's true: Happiness is a warm belt-fed! And yes, Virginia, the one in the middle is a mini-gun. I didn't get any footage of it being fired, but trust me, it really does sound like God tearing a gigantic phone book!
The firing line was at least 100 yards wide, and there seemed to be at least one crew-served or belt-fed weapon at each position. Here are some examples:
And there was some old-school:
Yep, that's .45-70 brass. And here's a very short clip of the owner emptying a stick magazine:
His loader could have done his job a little better, but the gun worked fine!
Here's some more old-school:
I didn't see the cannon fire, and yes, that's a Henry Yellow Boy in the second shot. I told the shooter that if that went full-auto, I would be running in the opposite direction!
And then there was the more modern artillery:
The first two are 20mm, the third is a 30mm, and the last is a 37mm. (That big mortar fires bowling balls. There were at least two and maybe three of those.) Personally, I think everyone ought to own a field piece or two! Here's that first 20mm cannon being fired:
And here are a couple of twin anti-aircraft mounts, with one guy taking shots at a model airplane being flown back and forth down the firing line:
The pilot lost a couple of aircraft, but generally they made it through unscathed. If you look close, you can see one in this clip:
There was also (I think) a Solothurn and a Lahti, but I didn't get photos of those.
I had a good time, but I was only there a couple of hours. If you're not pulling a trigger, there's a limit to how much fun you can have.
The next shoot, I think, is in April. I may run back up to that one just to see if anyone brought anything new.
My suspicion is that the guts were knocked out of us British by the First World War, in which the best people of all classes died by their thousands in the great volunteer armies which marched off to Loos, Passchendaele and the Somme. Those who survived lacked something of the spirit that a free country needs, and we never fully recovered, just as Russia has yet to recover from the fourfold blow of the First World War, Civil War, Great Purge and Second World War, each of which destroyed the best and brightest of their generations. The USA - a society, for the most part, of volunteers and pioneers, has never had a comparable experience. Let us hope it never does. - Peter Hitchens, Mail Online - On being a gun nut, 4/30/09I think he's right about the first part, and it goes as well for the rest of Europe. I hope along with him on the last part.
UPDATE: Since HaloScan is soon to transition to ECHO for comments here at TSM, I want to archive this comment by UK reader Phil B., which is actually several times longer than the QotD:
It’s true that the First World War destroyed Britain (or at least set in train the factors which were to lead to its destruction).As I said in the comments: Outstanding summary, Phil.
One of the biggest factors was the unprecedented increase in the power and size of the State.
Prior to the war, the state was very small, run by professional Civil Servants with an ethic that serving your country was an honourable thing to do and reward enough in itself.
National government was small, and the taxes it collected were spent largely on Defence and not much else. There was no welfare state and only a basic retirement pension (which less than 1 in 100 people would live long enough to collect). The liberal party wanted to spend less on defence and introduce welfare payments, spend cash on “social programs” etc. They were elected to government on this promise – bear this in mind for later.
Local Government was dependent on local taxes only (no massive injections of cash from national Government) and therefore responsive to the areas it served.
Sir Robert Peels efforts in setting up a Police force enforced law and order on the country and as the laws were reasonable and people agreed with them so people were at the start of the war very much law abiding. The laws were not onerous. However, the Police force contained in itself the seeds of the destruction of society (which Peel warned about) by distancing people from the law and the Police becoming apart from the citizens. In short, the State started to accumulate the power and authority and the law and its enforcement became the monopoly of the State.
A snapshot of Britain in the few years before the war would show that people were law abiding and enjoyed freedoms that would be disbelieved nowadays. Of course, there was not the mass immigration and different cultures then – people were BRITISH and had a strong sense of national identity.
Lord Elcho (the Minister of Defence) wanted a rifle in every cottage in the land and looked forward to the day this was achieved. There was no restriction firearms, other than a “permit to purchase pistols” (1896) which was a tax raising effort (you walked into a post office and bought a permit just as you would postage stamps). So anyone who wanted a pistol of any description could buy one without hindrance.
Blackstone still had a major influence on the thinking of politicians and the freedoms enjoyed by the population were not seriously challenged – it would be political suicide to do so.
Although Britain had an Empire on which the Sun never set, it was administered by a tiny bureaucracy largely through the native population. The expenditure of the British state was small, the revenue generated by the “Workshop of the World” was sufficient for the needs and as a percentage of the national wealth, tax was about 2 to 4% . Besides the Empire was largely a confederation of nations – nominally independent and with a complex relationship with the Mother country and very much self financing. It was by no means as united as, say, the individual states in the USA and were largely autonomous.
So what changed?
The First World War was the biggest war Britain had ever fought (even the Medieval 100 years War was small scale in comparison). It stretched the resources and finances of the country to breaking point.
Along with this “Total War” concept went increased taxation to finance the war, a massive growth in the power of the State required to organise and direct the War effort and a squandering of the wealth of the nation. All this on a war which Britain was reluctantly drawn into by the increasingly complex and mutually supporting treaties built up from about 1870 onwards (after the Franco-Prussian war that saw Alsace Lorraine ceded to Germany).
The Irish Nationalists in the 1916 Easter rising (partly to assist the Germans and to take advantage of the preoccupation of the British Government with the war) caused problems (which exist to this day) and the sabotage and mischief caused by the Irish resulted in clampdowns on freedoms, other restrictions and a paranoid tendency in the Government of the day. People accepted the restrictions as they realised Britain was fighting for its survival and were too busy either fighting or working to produce munitions - although Irishmen had been planting bombs for the last 50 years. Don’t forget that the massive increase in the State resulted in the professional, service orientated civil servants to be massively diluted by the newly recruited newcomers, unlikely to be as highly trained as the professionals and had a different ethos.
Then the Russian Revolution kicked off in November (by the Western calendar) 1917 resulting in the execution of Queen Victoria’s close blood relative in her nephew Czar Nicholas II and the Czarina Alexandra and their children.
The paranoid tendency of the Government went into overdrive – if this could happen in a country which was “just like us” and the Monarchy and Government overthrown, the what would the largest Army Britain ever had, manned by conscripts (and conscription was not resorted to until 1916) and trained and armed to the teeth do if they were to revolt too?
At the end of the war the returning heroes were promised “A land fit for heroes” – although where the cash was to come from wasn’t specified - and the delayed social reforms were trotted out. Social housing, financed through taxation and administered by the local government departments was introduced. This was a form of social control and Council House Tenants were subjected to inspections by local government inspectors (including if they had made the beds etc.) at regular intervals.
After all the “War to end all Wars” surely ended war and would free up cash for these reforms from the Navy and other services. Besides, the entire nation had had a gut full of war and pacifism was an attractive option. Plenty of civil servants were available to implement the reforms, collect the taxes (which, after 4 years of war, people were used to paying) and administer the system.
But first, the people had to be disarmed – the horror of the Russian Revolution (and by then, the horrors were known, if not publicised) still haunted the imagination of the government.
The 1920 Firearms Act was brought in but sold as a crime prevention measure. This was hushed up under the Official Secrets Act and placed under a 60 year anti disclosure rule. The papers were finally released in 1981. They are available in the national records Archive at Kew, London if you want to inspect them.
There were an average of 54 incidents A YEAR in the UK in the years leading up to WW1 (now there are more than that in London alone PER DAY). The legislation banned some firearms (full automatic weapons – legal until then), required the licensing of certain firearms (pistols, rifles and air rifles though NOT shotguns – not a militarily useful weapon). An immediate result was that the Chief Constable of London wanted to confiscate all firearms and in the event of a revolution, hold them in Police stations and dish them out to Tory (i.e. “Right” wing) supporters. The Police were to administer the licensing system and immediately began to block the granting of firearms certificates on a “must show good reason for possessing a firearm” basis. Magistrates (a local “small” court system dealing with minor offences) could not understand why people were being refused certificates and granted them over police objections. The Police agitated and influenced the politicians until 1937 when the law was changed to have appeals heard by the Crown Court (which dealt with much more serious offences such as murder) and the Police could reclaim the costs of going to court from the applicant. They upped the Anti significantly. At the same time there was a firearms amnesty when over 1 million service rifles were handed in and destroyed. This must have pleased Herr Hitler enormously.
March 1938 and the Munich crisis over Czechoslovakia gave a wake up call to the Nation and the pacifist tendencies of the 1930’s were reversed. Britain went on a massive spending program to rearm and modernise its forces.
My opinion is that Neville Chamberlin was Statesman enough to realise Britain was totally unprepared to go to War with Germany (which had practiced during the Spanish Civil war and had rearmed and modernised its forces enormously) and signed the famous “Peace in our time” piece of paper to buy time. He was condemned for this but placed the good of the Country ahead of his own honour and good name.
As a “for example”, at the time of Munich, Britain possessed one squadron of Spitfires, and by the end of the year, two.
In September 1939, 9 ½ (one squadron was converting to Spitfires) with 100% reserves.
By the time of the battle of Britain (July to October 1940), the RAF had 27 Squadrons of Hurricanes and 19 of Spitfires.
Such rearmament did not come cheap and taxation went up to pay for this. The losses of merchant shipping almost starved Britain to death and rationing of all goods (food, coal, gas etc.) imposed hardships on the country which were necessary but again increased the power of the State enormously. There was a Ministry of just about everything. The costs of the war were crippling and not helped by the fact that America insisted Britain paid for and bought the equipment ordered by France (which was invaded before it could be delivered) which was mostly useless (such as rifle ammunition in the wrong calibre) as well as light bombers such as the Martin Maryland and Baltimore, Lockheed Hudson etc. which were not designed for the roles the RAF needed aircraft to fill.
A sign of the attitudes embedded in the mindset of the Government and Civil Servants was indicated by the danger of Invasion.
Here is something which may interest those who study the history etc. of Rifles.
The British 0.303 cartridge was designed for a black powder single shot rifle (The Martini actioned, Henry rifling barrelled Martini-Henry) and although the Lee Enfield bolt action rife was taken into service, the limitations of the rimmed, highly tapered 0.303 was well known.
The British War Office commenced a search for a replacement rifle and cartridge and after a lengthy development period, eventually came up with the Pattern 13 rifle and a 7mm cartridge. After detailed field trials (including civilians and the Army), it was decided to produce the rifle from 1914. The First World war intervened and sensibly, the War Office stuck with the lee Enfield/0.303 combination.
There was some doubt that British industry could keep up with demand so contracts were placed in the USA with Remington Rand, Eddystone and Winchester for the P13 but chambered for the 0.303 cartridge as the P14. Later, America would chamber it for the .30-06 cartridge as the M1917 Enfield rifle and after the War, Remington produced it for the civilian market as the (relying on memory) 52 or 54 Model. It evolved into the Remington M700 series …
As it happened, America delivered 1.25 Million rifles which were used for training and sniping only – British Industry coped with the demand for Lee-Enfields and they were not needed.
They were stored between the wars and when the threat of invasion during 1940 was imminent, THEY REMAINED IN STORAGE. The Home Guard was set up and paraded with broomsticks and any “overlooked” service rifles. It was not until the end of 1940/early 1941 when the Home Guard had been fully organised and brought under strict government control and the threat of invasion receded that the rifles were issued to them.
Consider the implications – there was a serious possibility that the Germans WOULD invade but the civil servants and the Government of the day decided that arming the population carried a greater risk than working with a hostile government. Vichy France did not have the monopoly on traitors.
Had the Germans invaded the “unsinkable aircraft carrier” that was Britain, the continent would have been under tyranny (Nazi, or more likely Communist) forever. Neither the British Empire countries or the USA could have realistically projected force across an Ocean nor it is likely that America would have tried.
No – the Government held the monopoly on force and did not intend to give it up. Control of the population under the emergency of war and for a long time afterwards was being established. For example, rationing did not end until 1952 when it was lifted for the Queens coronation.
The breakup of the British Empire brought home bureaucrats from the colonies and these colonial administrators were given non jobs in the UK – the white fish authority, the egg marketing board, the milk marketing board etc. and so forth were set up and headed by these people. They were used to controlling the “wogs” and brought the same attitudes back to Britain except the British public, inured to years of being told what to do, took the role of the wogs and compliantly did what they were told.
The final torpedo into liberty occurred on 5 July 1948 when the labour government stated off the Social Security scheme and the National Health Service. Today, it is the third largest employer in the World . . .
So what lessons can I summarise here?
1) Government is a Business and like any business it is a case of expand or die.Does that little list sit uncomfortably with you?
2) An emergency allows legislation to be introduced which ratchets up, never down and any power once seized is NEVER given up.
3) Politicians lie.
4) The Police are a business (see 1 above).
5) Unless you take an interest in Politics and watch your “representatives” like hawks, they will arrange things to benefit themselves.
6) Unless you are cynical, the plausible schemes, soft and reasonable sounding words are not rebutted and there is always a further step which can be taken to wards Utopia. Once you realise the process has gone too far, it is too late.
I have made some sweeping statements here and you will correctly ask me to justify them. So here goes :
For the buildup to the First World war, "Dreadnought – Britain, Germany and the coming of the Great War" by Robert K Massie gives an extremely wide ranging and detailed insight into why the war started (including Germany claiming territorial violations by France as justification for the War – see 1939 also!)
For how and why the war developed John Keegans "The First World War" is the best overview without getting bogged down in the individual battles and "The 3rd battalion, Kings Regiment advanced 55 yards at 7-32Am on the 16th" detail which most histories devolve into.
For British social policies and the way it developed, see the Civitas website (http://www.civitas.org.uk/) and look at their free e-books.
For postwar council policy on housing from someone who was at the cutting edge, see this article from Civitas : http://www.civitas.org.uk/blog/ 2...government.html
And again, searching the Civitas website and the e-books section will reveal plenty of information on this. One thing I like about Civitas website is that the majority of the people who write for it are ex-socialists who have a detailed insight into the system and realise it doesn’t work.
For the development of firearms control, see "Guns and Violence – the English Experience" by Joyce Lee Malcolm.
That should keep you occupied for a while but if anyone wishes to discuss any of the points I make, feel free to contact me via e-mail.