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, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

"America is not at war. America's military is at war. America is at the mall." - Anon.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend, but remember who paid for it.

Friday, May 28, 2010

I'm Often Glad I'm a Pessimist by Temperament

This way I'm very seldom disappointed but often pleasantly surprised.

Today I'm not pleasantly surprised.

My rifle was dropped off at a FedEx facility on Wednesday for shipment on Thursday and delivery on Friday by 3:00PM local time. I even received an automated phone message from FedEx yesterday telling me that a package was coming requiring an over-21 adult signature to receive. It's currently 4:42. Do I have my rifle? No, I don't.

I've been checking FedEx all day. According to their computer system it was "picked up" in Medford OR yesterday. From that point, it never went "in transit." I called customer support just a few minutes ago. Apparently it's on a flight NOW, but it was "missed" yesterday. They're going to try to upgrade it to Saturday delivery, but if not I won't get it until TUESDAY.

I took the day off to receive it today. I can't take Tuesday off. My wife may (I emphasize may) be home to receive it.

We'll see if it comes tomorrow, but (being a pessimist by temperament) I'm not holding my breath in anticipation.

UPDATE: Yup. Tuesday. No shooty goodness for me this weekend.

"Federal Express: When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight, we'll screw it up!"

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Industrial Equipment

Want to know what I did while I was out of town last week? Here's a (very unflattering) shot of me standing next to a 2200Hp slurry pump. (No, I'm not that fat, it's the way that damned safety vest hangs with my computer bag hanging off my shoulder.)

There were four of those at the site, all run on large variable-speed drives. I used to apply and sell those drives. Now I specify them, and then make sure they're installed properly.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Intentions and Results

Back in January when I wrote What We Got Here Is . . . Failure to Communicate, essentially a book review of Thomas Sowell's A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles, I quoted extensively from that work. One of those excerpts was this:
Where in Adam Smith moral and socially beneficial behavior could be evoked from man only by incentives, in William Godwin man's understanding and disposition were capable of intentionally creating social benefits. Godwin regarded the intention to benefit others as being "of the essence of virtue," and virtue in turn as being the road to human happiness. Unintentional social benefits were treated by Godwin as scarcely worthy of notice.
To which I added:
So in the Constrained vision human nature is flawed, and while some flaws in some - even most - men can be ameliorated with time and teaching, this does not hold true for the whole of mankind. We are imperfect, and being imperfect the systems we establish, the institutions that we build, the traditions, laws and rituals that we practice carry along with them vulnerabilities to our inherent flaws. In order to achieve social benefits those institutions, traditions, laws and rituals must offer individuals some incentive. But more, those institutions, traditions, laws and rituals must also carry protections against abuse by those in which the flaws are extreme. In the extreme Unconstrained vision, intentions are more important than results, and results without intention are "scarcely worthy of notice."
I was reminded of this when I read that the Dalai Lama proclaimed himself a Marxist, because:
(Marxism has) moral ethics, whereas capitalism is only how to make profits.
Marxism has moral ethics.

However, he does admit:
(Capitalism) brought a lot of positive to China. Millions of people's living standards improved.
But those improvements were unintentional, and apparently don't count, because capitalism is only about how to make profits.

In Bill Whittle's most recent PJTV piece We are Iron Men, Bill has a clip from this series of YouTube videos of Milton Friedman being interviewed by Phil Donahue in 1979. I invite you to watch all five pieces, but here's the point that's pertinent to this post:

Thomas Sowell authored another book that I think should be mentioned here, Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulations as a Basis for Social Policy. Perhaps the Dalai Lama should read it.

Communism, the "real-world" application of Marxism by the flawed humans we of Sowell's Constrained Vision recognize, has resulted not in an improved standard of living for millions of people, but the deaths of millions of people at the hands of their own governments.

The Dalai Lama proves that the beautiful lie of Marxism truly does lodge deep in the hopes of some men.

But I wouldn't trust even the Dalai Lama to organize society for us. I trust capitalism, self-interest, and Adam Smith's "invisible hand." We have the track records of both, and I KNOW which one works.

He ought to, too. Because he's seen which one kills.

Monday, May 24, 2010

HOME!

We were greeted at Customs by the agent singing "José, Can You See . . . " No, I'm not kidding - and he was Hispanic. Apparently it's a running joke between him and one of the pilots, (the José in question).

That was a LONG seven days. Mining towns are not "touristy" even in the States. In rural central Mexico, there's no pizza, much less a Domino's. (Considerably better than Domino's is on its way to me right now.)

I just got off the phone with Ted Brown. My M14 is done. My LaRue Tactical rings were waiting for me when I got home - along with a LaRue Tactical hat, a 'Dillo "Beverage Entry Tool," a pocket edition of the Constitution of the United States, and two "God Bless Our Troops... Especially Our Snipers" bumper stickers. LaRue knows how to treat its customers! If I'm lucky I'll have a range-ready rifle in my hands in time for the long weekend!

UPDATE: Pizza's here! Nom nom nom . . .

Regular blogging to resume shortly.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Well, I'm Here

As expected, internet access is very slow, so not much surfing or blogging will get done for the next six days or so. Sorry.

Is it "charming"or "quaint" to hear braying burros outside your hotel room in the evening?

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Free Ice Cream Machine is Broken

Sorry, y'all, but I have to travel on business, and I'm going to be in central Mexico for the next seven days. Those days promise to run about 12-13 hours, and I suspect I'm going to have neither the time nor the inclination to write much after work. I'll be lucky to keep up with the blogs I follow daily.

I've got to get up at 4:00 tomorrow to get to the airport by 5:30 to catch the 7-passenger plane to the job site, so tonight I've got to pack and get to bed early.

Later, everyone.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Quote of the Week - Illegal Immigration Edition

(P)oliticians often argue they’re just too busy to read all these bills they’re voting on and commenting on. Busy doing what, though? Don’t they get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to make laws and enforce laws? Wouldn’t you think part of that generous salary would be maybe reading those laws? What exactly do they do all day to earn their money? They already have these useless jobs where just sit around and talk and occasionally vote; is it really so much to ask they do some honest work and read these important bills? The Arizona one they’re all freaking out about isn’t even that long.

Maybe we should write all our bills in Spanish. Then we can hire illegal aliens to read them since apparently that’s yet another one of those jobs Americans won’t do.

-- FrankJ, Reading is Hard at IMAO

One Picture, > 1,000 Words

Over at Excels at Nothing Nancy R. and her husband lay down the smack on H-S Precision at the NRA convention in Charlotte. Be sure to click on the picture for the super-size version, and check out the stink-eye the guy in the upper left is giving.

I literally laughed out loud.

Friday, May 14, 2010

That's 49 in Blog Years

Seven years ago today I hit "Publish Post" on my first entry here at The Smallest Minority.

It's been an interesting seven years.

I've been unemployed once, changed jobs twice, gone to two NRA conventions, watched two fronts of a war unfold, gotten three Instalanches, been to four Gun Blogger Rendezvous, met nearly a hundred other bloggers, gone from less than a thousand hits a week to over a thousand hits a day (closing in on two million total), written 4550 posts, collected something on the order of 50,000 comments, saw the Supreme Court finally declare the right to arms to be an individual right, watched the continuing march of "shall-issue" concealed-carry legislation across the nation take us from 33 "shall-issue" states to 39 - including two, Arizona and Alaska going from "no-issue" to "no permit required" . . .

As I said, it's been interesting.

And it's been ego-boosting. Some of the compliments I've collected from here and around the web over the past seven years:
Not only does your essay hit on all the major points of self defence, it is crafted with a type of cold, hard, scientific logic that I have seldom seen from anyone in my, albeit inexperienced, 19 years of existence. This logic is what sets your essay apart from other writers on the subject, as they often do not hit on very important defining details that allow logical links to be made.

--

I've argued the case for gun rights many times using information I got right here.

--

I don't always agree with you and I have no illusions about whether you have all the answers or not, but you bring a unique perspective that always makes me look at things from a different point of view. You inspire me to think just a little bit deeper and analyze just a little more thoroughly and for that, I thank you.

--

I'm now forced to reconsider my position on religion, now that I realize you share it.

--

Wow... Reading your takedowns of this drivel is like watching Barry Bonds play tee ball.

It's an easy target, but it's still damned impressive.

--

Entertaining and witty, your occasional fiskings of the anti-gun whackos is marvelously entertaining.

--

You seem to be doing O.K. without their help. Madison, Jefferson and all the rest may slumber peacefully in their graves because men such as you have proved themselves to be competent caretakers of our political liberties.

--

I'm going to print out a copy of this and use it on my liberal history professor. Probably best online synopsis of the various important 2A court cases I have read.

--

"What has been your best blogging experience?"
Arguing with Kevin from The Smallest Minority over religion and philosophy.

--

I don't read as many blogs as a lot of other people do so I can't say he is the best philosopher on guns and freedom. I can only say he is by far the best philosopher of the bloggers I have read.

--

I warn you, The Smallest Minority is (a) addictive and (b) almost invariably "Geek Length". The difference being, of course, that Kevin can put more concept and information into his writing than I do, he is a better writer, and a much better researcher.

--

I don’t know if you read Kevin Baker’s, The Smallest Minority but if you don’t, you should. There is no finer way to spend an evening than with your feet up in front of the fire, a large glass of something dark & peaty close to hand as you read one of his Uberposts in which he will methodically & in great detail argue his position & deconstruct the opposing view.

--

Your blog is one of the few I read daily. Thanks for your tireless efforts on behalf of our rights, both on your own blog and in the comments sections of others. You are far more persuasive and far more tolerant of ignorance, stupidity, emotional reasoning and bad faith than I could ever be.

--

I really like the way you tackle these issues - it appeals to the (software) engineer in me. More than that, your posts are incredibly effective in getting lefties to think about guns and crime. Most profess themselves open to alternate viewpoints, so on several occasions I have pointed people at your posts – not as facts per se, but as a place to start because you always attribute your sources. One friend will now simply no longer talk about guns in any context; I’m sure that given a little more time he’ll accept that “more guns please” is the only logical step to take.

--

This is one of my key sites, where I consistently see stuff I can find nowhere else.

--

Watching one of your debates is like watching a episode of Mission Impossible, you know the IMF is going to pull it off, but it's great fun to watch the process.

--

Seriously. I am going to print this out and carry it in my wallet.

--

Deep down inside, you knew all this. But it is very nice to be able to read an extensively research post on the topic so that you don’t start believing you’re the only one.

--

. . . it’s interesting to me that a media, namely blogs, that have long been associated with personal spleen-venting, are increasingly becoming sources for polished, focused commentary. Some of the work (e.g. Kevin Baker’s uberposts) being done on them is downright scholarly.

--

In theory, controversial subjects are best resolved through a dialectical process of argument and counterargument, arriving at a conclusion. Threaded discussions are the perfect medium for this kind of debate, because they allow a topic to be broken up into component parts, and each part to be addressed individually. This should serve to simplify and clarify complicated debates.

In practice, few people (anywhere) have the discipline, patience, or intellectual honesty to carry such a debate to its conclusion. Fewer still combine these traits with sufficient subject-matter expertise to be useful in such a debate. (Kevin at The Smallest Minority keeps coming to mind. He combines an extraordinary knowledge of gun control case law, with Sisyphean patience.)

--

It took me an hour to read (it is a classic Kevin Baker post) but I found the enlightenment worth my time.
As Uncle says, I do this to entertain me, not you, but stuff like this really makes all that effort worthwhile.

Thank you all for being my audience. I will continue to strive to be worthy of your time. Quite often, a LOT of your time!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tales of Armed Self-Defense

This one's in my back yard:
Man arrested, 2 others facing charges in deadly shootout

A 20-year-old man was arrested Wednesday and two others are facing charges in connection with a robbery that led to a deadly shootout Tuesday night at a north-side auto store, police said.

Carlos Peyron is facing charges of first-degree murder, attempted aggravated robbery, attempted armed robbery and kidnapping after he and three other men attempted to rob M&M Customs, which sells and installs car alarms, said Sgt. Fabian Pacheco, a Tucson Police Department spokesman.

One of the suspects, Noah Lopez, 18, was shot to death by an employee during the robbery.

Two other men, Toney Stith, 26, and Anthony Peyron, 19, were wounded in the shootout and will face charges once they are released from the hospital, Pacheco said.

All of the men are gang members, he said.

According to police, four men went into the business, at 3040 N. Stone Ave., and confronted an employee, forcing him into the back office.

The business owner, who was in the office, pulled out a shotgun and fired, wounding Anthony Peyron.

The suspects attempted to flee but encountered a locked door.

Lopez turned to the business owner and shot him in the forearm.

The employee retrieved a handgun from his tool kit and fatally shot Lopez, who turned his gun on the employee.

Lopez was pronounced dead at the scene.
So not only did the boss have a shotgun in his office, one of his employees had a PISTOL in his TOOLBOX. And get this:
Stith was wounded in the lower extremities, while Carlos Peyron was hit in the back of the head with the stock of the shotgun.

The victims held the suspects at gunpoint until police officers arrived two minutes after the shooting was reported.
The newspaper actually properly identified the victims and the perpetrators.

The good guys end up with one wounded (one hopes only superficially), and the bad guys end up with one dead, and the rest wounded and captured.

I used to live very close to where this occurred. It was not unusual to hear multiple gunshots at night, very seldom followed by sirens. I slept with a .357 Magnum on the headboard there.

Armed self-defense works.

THAT'S RACIST

A while back I wrote Balkanization, a piece about the Tucson Unified School District's "Raza Studies" program, part of its broader Ethnic Studies program. It was fairly obvious from the coverage that the "Raza Studies" program was another example of Critical Pedagogy in the public school system, and its intent is to radicalize the students involved.

Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne decided to do something about it. The program, in his view, encourages students to resent a particular race.
It's just like the old South, and it's long past time that we prohibited it.
If you read up on Paolo Friere and Critical Pedagogy as he envisioned it, that's exactly what it does, regardless of how it's presented as promoting "critical thinking."

So Horne lobbied for a bill in the state legislature, and it was recently passed and more recently signed by Governor Jan Brewer.

Of course, this is just more evidence of how racist Arizonans are.

The Tucson Unified School District says that they will have no problem complying with the new law though, while continuing their various Ethnic Studies programs.

I'll bet.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Your Moment of Zen - Grand Canyon Edition

As my parents visited there today with some relatives:

As always, click for the bigger version.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Well, it's Better Than 4,000

Once again our anti-gun opponents drag out scaaaary numbers! to motivate the herd. This time, courtesy of Xrlq via Uncle, we get the latest on the home-front numbers propounded by Momlogic:
Gun Accidents Kill 500 Kids Each Year

Advice every parent needs to hear about firearm safety.

This week, an 8-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed his 2-year-old sister in California.

"It's a tragic case of a sibling who picked up a firearm, thinking it was a toy, pointed it at his sister and discharged one round from the firearm, striking her in the head," said Vacaville Police Sgt. Charlie Spruill.

But these aren't freak accidents. More than 500 children die annually from accidental gunshots. Some shoot themselves, while others kill friends or siblings after discovering a gun.

Here are more scary stats: Americans own 200 million firearms, and 35 percent of homes contain at least one gun. Last year, a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that more than 1.7 million children live in homes with loaded and unlocked guns.
There's more, but this is enough.

The part I've emphasized in bold? It's a lie.

It's a blatant, bold-faced lie.

It's also not an isolated incident. It's not even uncommon. For example, I have more than once pointed to a March 2000 Salon article by Jean Hanff Korelitz, What a few good women can do (still available on the site, you'll note) where she states in no uncertain terms:
And what about the more than 4,000 children who die in gun-related accidents each year? That's 11 kids a day. And we're not talking about crimes, or intentional shootings. We're talking -- or not talking enough -- about accidents.
Korelitz says it's 4,000 a year. Ten years later, Momlogic says it's 500.

Why aren't we celebrating the eight-fold reduction in accidental gunshot deaths of children?

Because they're lying to you. Remember, they're The Other Side.

So what are the real numbers? Well, let's go back to the first excerpt where Momlogic's piece states:
Last year, a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that more than 1.7 million children live in homes with loaded and unlocked guns.
Wow. 1.7 million potential accidental gunshot deaths, each and every day. But I repeat this line to illustrate that the writer of the Momlogic piece is aware of the Centers for Disease Control. This might lead one to believe that the author could be aware of the CDC's WISQARS tools. The Momlogic piece insists that the accidental death toll is 500 children a year. Let's stipulate that "accident" means "unintentional," and "children" are legally defined as seventeen years old or less. How many children died of accidental gunshot in 2006 (latest available data)?

One hundred and two. (102!)

That's a factor of FIVE fewer than the headline states.

Well! What about 2005?

127

2004? 105.

2003? 102.

2002?!? 115.

What about when Ms. Korelitz was decrying the "fact" that we "weren't talking enough" about the "more than 4,000 children who die in gun-related accidents each year"?

Here's the available CDC data (you trust the .gov, right?) tabulated from 1990 up through 2006:

2006: 102
2005: 127
2004: 105
2003: 102
2002: 115
2001: 125
2000: 150
1999: 158
1998: 207
1997: 247
1996: 272
1995: 330
1994: 403
1993: 392
1992: 378
1991: 419
1990: 417

Not 4,000. Not 500. Two hundred seventy-two in 1996 (four years before Ms. Korelitz wrote her piece) and 102 in 2006 (four years before the Momlogic piece).

Two questions:

Each and every one of those deaths is a tragedy for the family or families involved. Why aren't the actual numbers ever enough for our opponents? Why must they inflate them?

And why aren't we CELEBRATING a four-fold reduction in the accidental gunshot deaths of children over the past twenty years even as well over 60 million new guns have entered circulation during that same period? Remember: supposedly there are 1.7 MILLION households with loaded, unsecured firearms in them that children could be exposed to. I'd say that an annual accidental gunshot death toll of 102 is damned near miraculously small, especially given the fact that 509 children under the age of five died of accidental drowning in 2006 alone.

One more: Why hasn't Salon or Ms. Korelitz ever published a retraction of her absurd assertion? (Never mind. That last one was rhetorical.)

Woo-Hoo!

I received an email today from Ted Brown:
Your stock finally came in and I will be glass bedding and doing the final assembly this week. I'll let you know when it's done and the final charges. I really like the stock.
It's a McMillan M3A.

Not much longer now!

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Why We're Winning

Those of you who've been reading TSM for a while are probably familiar with Dr. Brian Anse Patrick, Associate Professor of Communication at the University of Toledo, in Ohio. I read his book The National Rifle Association and the Media: The Motivating Force of Negative Coverage back at the end of 2007, and my überpost The Church of MSM and the New Reformation was the result. Dr. Patrick is good people.

He sent me a galley copy of his latest book, Rise of the Anti-Media: In-forming America's Concealed Weapon Carry Movement and I'm sorry to admit that it's taken me a couple (OK, more than a couple) of months to get around to starting it, but I did start it last night. Let me quote from the introduction a particularly pertinent passage related to the title of this post:
Based on my research, it would not be inaccurate to say that "mass" antigun organizations tend to resemble mailing lists, audiences, or abstract statistical aggregations more than true organizations of people in a state of communication regarding one another, that is, a community. Except, of course, for a relatively few true believers at the top, or sprinkled here and there, the mass antigun group is a comparatively top-down affair communication-wise; it is vertical and can be mobilized only on very special occasions, providing some powerful, moneyed sponsor supplies free bus transportation or other incentives.
Case in point, the recent brouhaha over Starbucks not prohibiting open carry in their stores.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Ownership Violence was one of the most outspoken opponents of Starbucks' "leave us out of it" policy. And by sheer coincidence this evening via Dave Hardy I discovered one of the strongest affirmations of Dr. Patrick's observation:

(Click to embiggen the screenshot.) Yup. Last updated April 27, all they've managed to raise is $20. Will that even buy a Vente half-caf, non-fat whole-milk foam, bone-dry, half-pump mocha, half sugar in the raw, with double cup and no lid?

I guess this IS the America We Really Want to Live In. Watch the embedded April 12 Comedy Central clip. It's pretty funny.

Now, I must continue my reading. This book promises to be as interesting as his last.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Tucson - Bowling Pin Shoot, Mother's Day, 5/9

Yeah, I know, what planning.

Anyway, it's at the Tucson Rifle Club Sunday morning starting at about 8:00 AM.

Handguns only, .38 Special or larger/more powerful caliber. (No .22 class yet, sorry.)

Course of fire is five (5) standard bowling pins placed on a table approximately 42" tall, spaced 16" apart. For "major" calibers (.45 ACP, .357 Magnum, etc.) the pins are placed 12" from the front edge of a 48" deep table. For "minor" calibers (.38, 9mm) they are placed 16" from the BACK edge of the table. Shooter starts from the low-ready position, 25' from the front edge of the table. At the sound of the buzzer, clear all of the pins OFF the table.

The competition begins with each shooter running five tables, timed. Worst time is thrown out, the remaining four are averaged. That's your dial-in.

After all the competitors have their dial-ins, it's bracket-racing time. Two shooters, two tables. The differential between the dial-ins of the two shooters is programmed into the timer. Slower shooter starts on the first beep, faster shooter on the second beep. Whoever clears their table first wins. Best two-out-of three runs decides that matchup. The next pair then steps up.

If you lose two matchups, you're done for the day. Minimum course of fire, 45 rounds. Whoever is left standing at the end is the winner (of the admiration of the other competitors.)

This means if you're slow and steady with an iron-sighted wheelgun, you might be able to beat the guy with the 20-shot compensated racegun with reflex optics who can't miss fast enough to win. He HAS to wait for that second beep.

Entry fee is $10 for the first gun, $5 for each additional gun. One dollar out of each entry goes into a pot. At the end of the match there will be a drawing and one lucky shooter (still in attendance) wins the pot.

I'm going to try to run this match monthly, second Sunday of the month. This one just so happened to fall on Mother's Day. Dammit. Hope to see you there.

Ball's in Your Court, Mr. President

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

¡¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo!!

¡Ahora usted los illegals vuelve a su país!

(Just wanted a chance to be called racist, since I'm an Arizonan.)

This is the America I Live In

John "Silky Pony" Edwards was right, but for the wrong reason. There are "two Americas." Watch this video. It illustrates the difference between them. It is the best sixteen minutes you will spend this month. Possibly this year.

This is Your Mind On Drugs

This is Part II. Part I was last year.
Pimp my shooter: The amazing bling guns that belong to Mexico's drug lords

Mexican soldiers have seized an arsenal of gold-plated and diamond-encrusted weapons believed to belong to the Valencia gang, allies of the powerful Sinaloa drug cartel and, it seems, fans of hip-hip excess.

Showing just how flamboyant gang members spend much of their ill-gotten wealth, pictures show how most of the 31 'pimped' pistols found in a raid on a home in western Mexico had gold or silver-plated grips or were glittered with diamonds.

Three of the assault rifles are almost entirely gold-plated and there was even a silencer plated with gold. One particularly image-conscious gangster has made his pistol unique by adding rows of gaudy red and green jewels and a Ferrari logo.
I won't fry your retinas with pictures this time. It's more of the same, though possibly some are even worse.

Hat-tip to Phil B., our intrepid reader from New Zealand. Thanks, Phil. I think.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

And Then There Were Forty-Nine

Shortly after I started TSM I wrote about the American Civil Liberties Union and its position on the Second Amendment in The ACLU Hasn't Changed Its Tune. President Nadine Strossen was clear on it back in 2003:
The plain language of the Second Amendment in no way, shape, or form, can be construed, I think, as giving an absolute right to unregulated gun ownership. It says, "A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right to bear arms shall not be infringed." Certainly, when you have the notion of "well-regulated" right in the constitutional language itself, it seems to defy any argument that regulation is inconsistent with the amendment.

Putting all that aside, I don't want to dwell on constitutional analysis, because our view has never been that civil liberties are necessarily coextensive with constitutional rights. Conversely, I guess the fact that something is mentioned in the Constitution doesn't necessarily mean that it is a fundamental civil liberty.
Something mentioned in the Constitution? It's the second item in the BILL OF RIGHTS, Nadine!

And she's still President.

But now there's been a break. Via Dave Hardy we learn:
Nevada ACLU supports an individual’s right to bear arms
And, one would hope, to keep them.
Everyone loves guns in Nevada. Ducks Unlimited, the National Rifle Association, Republicans, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ...

Wait. The ACLU?

The Nevada ACLU has declared its support for an individual’s right to bear arms, apparently making it the first state affiliate in the nation to buck the national organization’s position on the Second Amendment.

The state board of directors reached the decision this month after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment protects the rights of individuals to own handguns.
Said Supreme Court ruling coming in June of 2008. You don't want to move too fast, ladies and gentlemen. You might suffer whiplash! I take it back. Justin Buist in comments notes that the Nevada ACLU did indeed change their position almost immediately after the Heller decision, and the piece linked is dated July, 2008, not 2010. In other words, this is old news.

New to me (and apparently Dave), but old nonetheless.

Kudos, ladies and gentlemen, for your swift action. Too bad your move apparently wasn't followed by any of your sister organizations.
"The Nevada ACLU respects the individual's right to bear arms subject to constitutionally permissible regulations," a statement on the organization’s Web site said. "The ACLU of Nevada will defend this right as it defends other constitutional rights."
Will it also defend the right to keep? And does this mean the ACLU will be filing suit against North Las Vegas soon? (Apparently not.)
"This was the consensus," said Allen Lichtenstein, general counsel for ACLU of Nevada. "There really wasn't a lot of dissent."
One more reason for Sarah and Kristin and Josh and Paul to be Sad Pandas. (Can we rub their noses in it?)
But the state affiliate's position puts it at odds with the national organization.
I'll say.

There's more to the story, but it's interesting to see a split in that organization over this topic at this time.

We're (still!) winning.

Monday, May 03, 2010

If .308 Winchester is God's Caliber . . .

. . . then the ".30-06 is the Old Testament version" - aepilotJim, from a Vicious Circle podcast.

I laughed out loud at that one. The topic came up because Jim just got a Garand.

UPDATE: Staghounds expands on the idea.

WTF? Seriously, WTFF?!?!?

Via email, from a reader who says - "I am a gamer, but I was also a boy scout. I had some kind of gut reaction to this story, but no way to describe it. I am desperate to know what you think of it though."
Video Games

Requirements

Tiger Cubs, Cub Scouts, and Webelos Scouts may complete requirements in a family, den, pack, school, or community environment. Tiger Cubs must work with their parents or adult partners. Parents and partners do not earn loops or pins.

Belt Loop

Complete these three requirements:

1. Explain why it is important to have a rating system for video games. Check your video games to be sure they are right for your age.
2. With an adult, create a schedule for you to do things that includes your chores, homework, and video gaming. Do your best to follow this schedule.
3. Learn to play a new video game that is approved by your parent, guardian, or teacher.

Academics Pin

Earn the Video Games belt loop and complete five of the following requirements:

1. With your parents, create a plan to buy a video game that is right for your age group.
2. Compare two game systems (for example, Microsoft Xbox, Sony PlayStation, Nintendo Wii, and so on). Explain some of the differences between the two. List good reasons to purchase or use a game system.
3. Play a video game with family members in a family tournament.
4. Teach an adult or a friend how to play a video game.
5. List at least five tips that would help someone who was learning how to play your favorite video game.
6. Play an appropriate video game with a friend for one hour.
7. Play a video game that will help you practice your math, spelling, or another skill that helps you in your schoolwork.
8. Choose a game you might like to purchase. Compare the price for this game at three different stores. Decide which store has the best deal. In your decision, be sure to consider things like the store return policy and manufacturer’s warranty.
9. With an adult’s supervision, install a gaming system.
The link my reader sent went to a PC Magazine article that's apparently not available at the time of this writing, but here's more coverage of the (not fake!) story.

"Install a gaming system"??? Most kids today can do that in their sleep. I thought Scouting was about getting outside. You know, the resolution and the refresh rate in the real world is, like, totally AWESOME!

(*sigh*)

And I just wrote that nice bit about Tyler Rico, too.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Hope for the Future

Last night I attended the 2010 annual meeting and banquet for the Arizona State Rifle and Pistol Association, which I joined last year at the annual NRA convention. The keynote speaker was Alan Gottlieb, who gave an interesting speech on the history of the Second Amendment Foundation and their history of fighting for the restoration of the Second Amendment through the courts. The SAF is the group behind the D.C. v Heller victory, and the McDonald v Chicago suit that was filed 15 minutes after the Heller decision was handed down, and was heard in the Supreme Court in March.

At a guess, I'd say about 120 people attended the meeting and dinner, among which were several state and federal politicians. The governor backed out, but among the attendees was J.D. Hayworth who is running for John McCain's senate seat. I wish him a lot of luck. It's past time for McCain to go. John McCain, needless to say, wasn't present.

I sat at the table purchased by the Tucson Rifle Club, where I was introduced to someone special: Tyler Rico. Tyler is, I believe, just sixteen years old. He shot his first High-Power match at the age of eleven. He has won three Junior National High-Power titles, and in February at the Boulder Rifle and Pistol Club in Boulder CO, he beat the entire field with a 791-26X to take the Open class. He shoots for Team Remington and Lapua.

The kid's been shooting since he was five. He wants to get a degree in aeronautical engineering, and shoot for the Army Marksmanship Unit. After all, he's already competed against all of them, and beaten them.

It was a very interesting evening, all around.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

May Victims of Communism Day

Today is the second annual Victims of Communism Day, a day to remember the people murdered by their own governments in their quest to achieve a "worker's paradise" where everyone is equal, where "to each according to his needs, from each according to his abilities" is the beautiful dream lie. R.J. Rummel, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Hawaii, has calculated that the total number of victims of Communism - that is, the domestic victims of their own governments - in the USSR, China, Vietnam, North Korea and Cambodia is 98.4 million people. For all Communist governments during the 20th Century, he puts the estimate at approximately 110 million. And this wasn't in warfare against other nations, this was what these governments did to their own people - "breaking eggs" to make their utopian omlette.

Six million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust, and another six million people the Nazis decided were "undesirable" went with them. "Never again" is the motto of the modern Jew, and many others just as dedicated. But "again and again and again" seems to be the rebuke of history.

The Communists are hardly alone in these crimes. Rummel estimates that the total number of people murdered by their own governments during the 20th Century is on the close order of 262 million, but the single biggest chunk of that truly frightening number is directly due to one pernicious idea: That we can make people better.

Why do I own guns? For a number of reasons, but one of them is this:
And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand? -- Alexandr Solzhenitzyn, The Gulag Archipelago

--

The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed - where the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees. However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once. -- Judge Alex Kozinski, dissenting, Silveira v. Lockyer, denial to re-hear en banc, 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, 2003.

Decisions, Decisions . . .

The Smallest Minority began almost seven years ago - May 14, 2003. I started on Blogspot because, well, it was there, it was free, and it was easy. Shortly afterward, I picked Haloscan to provide comment service because Blogspot didn't offer one, and the previous service I had selected sucked wind. Again, Haloscan was there, was free, and was easy. Then I picked Imagestation as a photoserver, but that didn't work out too well, so I eventually switched to Photobucket. Again, at the time Blogspot didn't offer the service.

As time went on, I elected to pay a small amount annually to improve the comments (longer comments allowed, as some of my readers are nearly as long-winded as I am) and for sufficient bandwidth with Photobucket to support the traffic I was drawing. Overall, I think this blog costs me something like $50 a year, tops.

Over the years, Blogspot has gotten to be more reliable and have more functions. It now offers commenting and has a photoserver - and it's still free. Photobucket works very well.

But commenting? Not so much.

In December, Haloscan transitioned to Echo. I had very little choice other than to go along, as Haloscan's archives exported in a format that does not easily transfer to any other system I've found, and at the time I had nearly 40,000 comments in the archives.

Trust me, those comments are every bit as valuable to me as the posts they are linked to.

So in December the Great Migration began, and lo, the comments transferred successfully!

But if I export my Echo comments now, A) the export doesn't work properly, and B) the comments that export now go only back to December, 2009. Further, Echo seems to suck in the extreme. I have had NUMEROUS comments (as noted below) on the general suckitude of Echo, and now one entire comment thread doesn't work, or at least it only works in Internet Exploder. I, as the owner of the blog, cannot access those comments from Echo's moderation page. They will not load. And Echo doesn't really have site support.

So yes, Echo SUCKS.

And also, since January, Blogger now paginates all of its blogs. I used to archive my blog monthly. If you called up say, April 2005, you got every post for that month on one page. Now you get about the last 20 for that month. Want to see what I wrote on April 1? You're SOL. So I have to switch my archiving to weekly. It seems a minor issue, but I back up my blog on my home computer. Doing it weekly is a PITA.

So here we are. People have been telling me (literally) for years to get off of Blogspot. But there are dozens of blogs out there linking to right here. There are posts I have written still drawing significant traffic from those other blogs. I don't want those links broken. I very much want my comments to WORK, but also I want them to come along with me if I move. A lot of my posts link to earlier posts of my own, and I want THOSE links to work.

I'm stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place.

At this point, I don't have much of a reason to leave Blogger, but every reason to want to dump Echo. Any suggestions? (Assuming Echo will work?)