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

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Quote of the Day - Harshed Mellow Edition

By JamesR, from comments:
I've been reading your blog for about two years now and I must say that I've learned more here and in the links from here than I have during any history or political science class I've ever taken (I'm twenty years old). However, after reading your works and those of Thomas Sowell, who you and Bill Whittle opened my eyes to, my mellow has become almost irrevocably harshed. Not only did I learn great things about American civilization that I had not known before, but I also learned about how all those feats and accomplishments are being threatened. I look around at all the things I love about The United States and the people who make it up and who've made it up in the past and wonder, "What can I do to stop this from happening?" When the problem is essentially a cancer in the bones of our culture and way of life is there even a way for us to save what I believe is the greatest and most unique creation of mankind?


Sincerely,


I'm too young to feel this old
I know exactly how you feel.

Nerf™Land

(Formerly) Great Britain's decline proceeds apace:  Bumpless bumper-cars? First it was plastic bar glasses and beer bottles, then pointless kitchen knives.

It's no wonder so many people fell for the hoax of London padding lampposts to protect people who text while walking.  It was entirely within the realm of possibility.

(h/t: Uncle)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Quote of the Day

I'm not polit-blogging quite as much as I have in the past, largely because I think at the Federal level the system is unfixably broke, in both the "not working" and "no money" senses. Between the Party of Spending and the Party of Spending Even More,* the FedGov is at this point in time running on bad checks and (relatively) good reputation and as Larry Correia pointed out back on the 15th, the finances are so unprecedentedly far out of whack, there is no tellin' how it (will) fall when it falls, let alone what form it will take. -- Roberta X, Bloggage
I'm figuring hard, fast, and very, very far.  And in 24 months or less.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Book Review - Hard Magic: Book I of the Grimnoir Chronicles

I finished Hard Magic at 5:30 this morning, sitting on my john (lid down) wrapped in a towel, still dripping from the shower. I downloaded the ebook from Baen's website thanks to friend and shooting buddy Dusty, and installed it on my iPod Touch a couple of days ago. I started reading it Saturday.  I couldn't bring myself to go to work without finishing it first.

Zeppelins. Magic. Zombies. Ninjas. Teleporting magic ninjas!  Gun molls. John Moses Browning (PBUH). The obligatory honorable hero giant. A cute and spunky teenage heroine. Love.  Betrayal. Otherworldly monsters.  Death.  Mayhem.  Worldwide conspiracies. Did I mention Zeppelins?

This is the third book by John W. Campbell Award finalist Larry Correia I've read. I'm with him, it's is best work yet. Larry writes page turners. You suspend disbelief and want to know what's NEXT!

Damned fun read. Highly recommended. And I can't wait for whatever's next. Dead Six, is it?

If you want a taste of the Grimnoir world, Larry has posted a prequel short-story.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Yeah, That.

David Whitewolf writes about what he, I, and apparently more than a few others are feeling at the moment, and why we're so concerned about it.  Go, read.

Then, if you would, read my February, 2009 post, Confidence, Pt. III.

Two years later, I wouldn't change a word in it.

But hey, at least I've got my garage cleaned out enough that the new Mustang fits in it.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Quote of the Day - Underwhelmed Edition

What she said:
Basically it's a Buchanan-esque populist conservatism with most of the Jesus trimmed off. In other words, Trump is aiming at what he thinks is the bullseye of the Tea Party: Flag-waving xenophobic National Enquirer subscribers who like the F-15 flyovers before football games and want lots of free stuff from the government but hate them some taxes.


I'm underwhelmed.
(*ahem*) Ditto.

Monday, April 18, 2011

I'm Just Not Feelin' It

Free ice-cream machine is on the fritz.  Busy reading and doing other stuff.  Backlog of post ideas is building up, (thanks for the emails!) but I just cannot find the mood to sit down and start writing.

Later, hopefully.

Friday, April 15, 2011

B.A.G. Day 2011

Today, April 15, is Buy A Gun Day, a tradition going back at least eight years or so.

Here's mine:



If you read this blog much, you'll note that it looks an awful lot like my .38 Super Witness.  That's because it is my .38 Super Witness - mostly.  I bought a .40 S&W conversion kit for it, plus six spare magazines (for a total of seven).  The conversion kit I bought direct from European American Armory.  The magazines I bought from U.S. Citizen.  I also bought 1,000 pieces of once-fired brass and 1,000 Berry's 180 grain HP plated bullets.  I thought about buying a 10mm conversion, but the cost of brass decided it for me.  .40 S&W is ubiquitous and cheap.  10mm, not so much.  Everything's here but the bullets.  I may have to break down and buy some factory fodder for a test this weekend.

It looks like the .40 will be MUCH less picky about what it eats than the Super.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Is Our Children Learning?

In 1983 a report commissioned by President Ronald Reagan was released by the National Commission on Excellence in Education entitled A Nation at Risk: the Imperative for Educational Reform. In that report was the following statement:
Our once unchallenged preeminence in commerce, industry, science, and technological innovation is being overtaken by competitors throughout the world. This report is concerned with only one of the many causes and dimensions of the problem, but it is the one that undergirds American prosperity, security, and civility. We report to the American people that while we can take justifiable pride in what our schools and colleges have historically accomplished and contributed to the United States and the well-being of its people, the educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people. What was unimaginable a generation ago has begun to occur--others are matching and surpassing our educational attainments.

If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war.
I just watched a very important DVD on the subject of our public education system that was begun in 2008 and released in 2010. It is Waiting for Superman, and I strongly recommend you pick up a copy. It's available via Netflix.

Mediocre?  I wish were were aspiring to merely mediocre.

If you've got friends with kids, invite them over for a viewing party.

2008 was the 25th anniversary of the release of A Nation at Risk. According to Wikipedia:
(T)he nonpartisan organization Strong American Schools released a report card of our nation's progress since the initial report. The organization's analysis said:
While the national conversation about education would never be the same, stunningly few of the Commission's recommendations actually have been enacted. Now is not the time for more educational research or reports or commissions. We have enough commonsense ideas, backed by decades of research, to significantly improve American schools. The missing ingredient isn’t even educational at all. It's political. Too often, state and local leaders have tried to enact reforms of the kind recommended in A Nation at Risk only to be stymied by organized special interests and political inertia. Without vigorous national leadership to improve education, states and local school systems simply cannot overcome the obstacles to making the big changes necessary to significantly improve our nation's K-12 schools.
I have a few quibbles with the video, but they're relatively minor. One, no effort was made to discuss or even mention the problem of disruptive children and the inability of staff to deal with them and their "my baby didn't do nothin' " parents in this age of litigation at the drop of a hat. Perhaps I am mistaken, but it is my belief that such children can and their gamete-donors present a serious problem to public education. Second, no mention of homeschooling as an option is made. The only models pursued are the public education and private parochial education ones. Since the focus of the piece is about "fixing" the public education system, I suppose that's understandable.

But the information that's in this video is very important, and you're not hearing it in the MSM. Please, if you have children or grandchildren, watch it. Educate yourself. Understand the unmitigated disaster we've allowed to develop. There are people out there with solutions, but enough people have to grok the problems before the solutions will be allowed to be implemented. Too many people have the wrong priorities.

And if I ever hear a NEA flak say "It's about the CHILDREN!" in my presence, I think I'll vomit on their shoes. It's not about the children to the teachers unions, it's about the adults. Period.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Damn the Economy! Full Speed Ahead!

Or:  A 3/4-Life Crisis Ought to be Good for Something.

I now have a car payment again.  Having lusted after one since they hit the market, I am now the proud owner of a 2011 GT Mustang.  It looks very much like this one:


(click to embiggen)


Kona Blue metallic, it has the 5.0 liter 412Hp engine, six-speed manual transmission, 3.55:1 rear-end ratio, Brembo brake package with front shock tower brace, and it'll flatten your eyeballs when you mash the GO pedal.

I averaged 22.9 mpg on the way home from Scottsdale.

I bought it used, with 1850 miles on the odometer.

I am really looking forward to the drive up to Reno this year.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Toolmaker Koan, or Furby's Paradox

Long ago I read a novel based on an intriguing idea, entitled "Toolmaker Koan."  A kōan is, according to Wikipedia:
a fundamental part of the history and lore of Zen Buddhism. It consists of a story, dialogue, question, or statement, the meaning of which cannot be understood by rational thinking but may be accessible through intuition.
The kōan, or question of the novel was "Why don't we see evidence of advanced civilizations throughout the galaxy?" The site Ad Astra explains:
Typically technological development begins slowly, but at some point (perhaps hundreds of thousands or even millions of years) after the beginning of a culture it explodes, leading rapidly to high technology. Unfortunately behaviour patterns associated with non-technological cultures persist, leading to a rapidly increasing population and ever higher competition for resources. This leads to massive environmental damage caused by industrialisation and usually to self-inflicted destruction by fusion fire, nanotech plague, asteroidal bombardment, or more general environmental collapse. This then is the Toolmaker Koan: travelling to the stars requires a highly developed industrial infrastructure, but development of technology leads to nuclear war and extinction.
However, I think Vexxarr may be on to a simpler explanation:



Monday, April 11, 2011

Quote of the Day - Smoke-'n-Mirrors Edition

"On the one hand, this is the single largest year-to-year cut in the federal budget, frankly in the history of America in absolute terms… probably for that we all deserve medals, the entire Congress," the Texas congressman (Jeb Hensarling) said on CNN’s "State of the Union" Sunday. "Relative to the size of the problem, it is not even a rounding error. In that case we probably all deserve to be tarred and feathered."
(My emphasis.)

Which goes along with this:
"Once politics was about only a few things; today, it is about nearly everything," writes the eminent political scientist James Q. Wilson in a recent collection of essays ("American Politics, Then and Now"). The concept of "vital national interest" is stretched. We deploy government casually to satisfy any mass desire, correct any perceived social shortcoming or remedy any market deficiency. What has abetted this political sprawl, notes Wilson, is the rising influence of "action intellectuals" — professors, pundits, "experts" — who provide respectable rationales for various political agendas.

The consequence is political overload: The system can no longer make choices, especially unpleasant choices, for the good of the nation as a whole.

--

Government is suicidal because it breeds expectations that cannot be met.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Knoxville or Bust

It's on.  The Luckygunner.com Memorial Day Weekend Blogger Shoot.



(No bloggers will actually be shot.  I hope.)  I've got my airline reservations (thanks, U.S. Citizen!) and I've made my hotel (Lenoire City Holiday Inn Express) and car rental reservations.  I fly in Friday evening, and leave Tuesday morning.  The shoot is Saturday and Sunday, leaving me Monday to visit.

I'm really looking forward to it.  Now I just have to decide whether I want to risk transporting firearms through Chicago on the way home. And what to bring if I do.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Quote of the Day - Nazi Steampunk Zombie Edition

Nazi steampunk zombies.


Sorry, I just wanted to type that myself to see if it felt as awesome to type those words as it did to read them. It did. :D
Tam, in the comments to Breda's review of Sucker Punch.

NO Bowling Pin Match, Sunday April 10

UPDATED AND BUMPED: There will be NO BOWLING PIN MATCH SUNDAY APRIL 10.

The range is doing major berm improvements, and the Action Range will be unavailable. Sorry. Next match will be Sunday, May 8.

Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Quote of the Day - Church of the New Media Edition

From Victor Davis Hanson's latest, Kingdom of Lies:
The media is our ministry of truth of the Oceania brand: one day Guantanamo, renditions, tribunals, preventive detention, Predators, the Patriot Act, and Iraq were bad; then one day in January 2009 I woke up and heard of them not all. I then recognized that they were now either good or at least necessary — or perhaps sinister IEDs of a sort left behind by the nefarious Emmanuel Goldstein administration, now too dangerous to even touch.
I now refer you to my January, 2008 überpost, The Church of the MSM and the New Reformation. Read all of Dr. Hanson's piece, too.

Monday, April 04, 2011

GBR-VI is Coming

Now for more original-content-free blogging, a reminder that the sixth annual Gun Blogger Rendezvous is coming up April SEPTEMBER 8-11, 2011 in Reno, Nevada.  Registration is now open.  Sponsors will again include:
  • The National Shooting Sports Foundation
  • Brownell's
  • Hi Point Firearms
  • Ruger
  • Glock
  • Others, to be announced
If you want to go, but can't afford the air fare, I may be able to help. I've got $400 worth of air travel coupons from Delta that I otherwise cannot use. Unfortunately, Delta makes actually using these as difficult as possible. I can use them to book a flight for someone else, but I have to make the reservation by phone with a Delta ticket agent, and pick up the tickets myself at the Delta counter. And, of course, I don't get the cheap travel rates you can get off the internet when I do this. But if you want to go, drop me an email (my address is on the left sidebar) and we'll see what we can work out. You don't have to be a blogger, you can be a reader who just wants to meet us and our special guest, get to shoot some guns, eat some pizza, have some great conversation, and take home some terrific swag, and maybe get a new gun out of the deal.  Last year included a Hi Point carbine, a certificate for any standard Glock, and an air rifle, not to mention a Leupold scope, a set of LaRue Tactical rings, a set of Crimson Trace lasergrips and a bunch of other great stuff.  This year we will have a Ruger Blackhawk convertible in .45LC/.45ACP at a minimum.  I'm expecting at least three other guns.

Maybe this year, I'll win one.

Each year has been bigger than the one before.  (I know, I've been to all five.)  Sign up and come on out.  It's a great way to spend a long weekend.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Anybody Seen This?



I'd like to know more about it.  I can't remember hearing anything about it in the media or on the blogs back in 2009. It certainly didn't come up during the 2010 election.  Lots of mentions of "social justice." Make sure you check today's QotD.

Accuracy in Media had something on it.  Here's Howard Dean's full speech on Vimeo. Lots of other related video as well.

I wrote a post back in 2005, True Believers, where I quoted from another blogger, Glenn Wishard of Canis Iratus in his post A Thumbnail History of the Twentieth Century. I'll quote it here again:
The rise and fall of the Marxist ideal is rather neatly contained in the Twentieth Century, and comprises its central political phenomenon. Fascism and democratic defeatism are its sun-dogs. The common theme is politics as a theology of salvation, with a heroic transformation of the human condition (nothing less) promised to those who will agitate for it. Political activity becomes the highest human vocation. The various socialisms are only the most prominent manifestation of this delusion, which our future historian calls "politicism". In all its forms, it defines human beings as exclusively political animals, based on characteristics which are largely or entirely beyond human control: ethnicity, nationality, gender, and social class. It claims universal relevance, and so divides the entire human race into heroes and enemies. To be on the correct side of this equation is considered full moral justification in and of itself, while no courtesy or concession can be afforded to those on the other. Therefore, politicism has no conscience whatsoever, no charity, and no mercy.
(Emphasis in original.) I commented:
I think Glenn's declaration that the 20th Century "neatly contains" the rise and fall of "the Marxist ideal" is a bit premature, but I fully concur with his conclusion that "politicism" has neatly divided societies in the manner described....
True Believers still holds up five years on.

Howard Dean blames the current state of the global economy on "the free market," but as others have noted, we have not experienced free markets — that is, the invisible hand — for decades. No, the Progressive love for "social justice" (the New Deal, the Great Society, etc. etc. etc.) has shoved a stick into the spokes of free trade repeatedly. But it can't be their fault, they meant well.

Time to do it again, ONLY HARDER!




Mr. Wishard appended to his "History" post this observation:
I really do think that history will look back on the 20th century as the absolute low point of human history - as bad as anything the Dark Ages offered, without any of the excuses.
I think, once again, that he was premature.  And optimistic.

I found an interesting quote this evening from a Google search that led to this site.  Someone searched on the phrase "I'm a pessimist," and found this post from last year, but when I did the same search, what I found was more interesting, and more applicable to this topic:
I'm a pessimist because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will. -- Antonio Gramsci
Yeah, that Gramsci.

We're getting not what Gramsci wanted, but we are getting what he worked for.

A couple of days ago, I ran across another reference to Jane Jacobs. I first saw mention of her in an Orson Scott Card column from 2004, Who Was On Watch As the Dark Age Approached? I cited that piece and his mention of Ms. Jacobs in my 2009 essay Restoring the Lost Constitution. Card said this:
Jacobs sees us as being well down the road to a self-inflicted Dark Age, in which we will have thrown away many of the very things that made our civilization so dominant, so prosperous, so successful. We are not immune to the natural laws that govern the formation and dissolution of human communities: When the civilization no longer provides the benefits that lead to success, then, unsurprisingly, the civilization is likely to fail.

As she says in her introduction, "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?" 

Dark Age Ahead gives us a series of concrete examples of exactly that process. 

"Every culture," she says, "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.

A civilization is truly dead, she says, when "even the memory of what has been lost is lost."
Just a few days ago, Jerry Pournell repeated the warning:
Readers should be aware of Jane Jacobs, Dark Age Ahead. Civilization is more fragile than most believe. Note that a true dark age comes not when we lose the ability to do something, but forget that we ever had that ability: as for instance no university Department of Education seems aware that in the 1930's to the end of World War II, essentially the only adult illiterates in the United States were people who had never been to school to begin with (see the Army's tests of conscripts). My mother had a 2-year Normal School degree and taught first grade in rural Florida, not considered a high intelligence population. I once asked her if any of her students left first grade without learning to read. She said, "Well, there were a few, but they didn't learn anything else, either." The notion that a child could get out of elementary school unable to read was simply shocking up to about 1950 when new University Education Department theories of reading emerged. Now a majority of students read "below grade level" and actual functional illiteracy approaches 15%.

--

Anyway, that's what we mean by a Dark Age. As with the 5th Century peasant in France who gets a yield of perhaps 3 bushels a year on land that under Roman civilization yielded 12 -- and has not only forgotten how to get such yields, but has no idea that such yields have ever been possible. Or a civilization that spends more and more on schools that cannot accomplish what was once standard in country schools like Capleville (where I went 4 - 8th grade), or even remember what was accomplished.
Billy Beck calls what's coming The Endarkenment.

I'm beginning to believe that Billy's an optimist, too.

I'm going to take a few days off.  Please talk amongst yourselves.

Quote of the Day - Justice Edition

(J)ustice is justice, whereas "social justice" is code for one set of rules for the rich, another for the poor; one set for whites, another set for minorities; one set for straight men, another for women and gays. In short, I pointed out, it's the opposite of actual justice. -- Burt Prelutsky, Me and the Rotarians.
Found at var/log/otto

And watch this while you're there.