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, December 29, 2011

But Kids Shouldn't Have Access to Guns!

Play stupid games, win stupid prizes:
Henderson, N.C. — A Henderson teenager shot and killed an intruder Thursday morning, according to the Vance County Sheriff's Office.

When deputies arrived at 586 S. Lynnbank Road, they found a man lying in the yard. Michael Anthony Henderson Jr., 19, had been shot in the chest with a shotgun, deputies said. He was taken to Maria Parham Medical Center where he died.

Deputies did not say which of two people home at the time -- teens ages 14 and 17 -- pulled the trigger, but no charges are expected against them or their parents.
Police are now looking for the deceased's accomplice. I wonder if in North Carolina he can be charged with murder, since someone died in the commission of the felony he was helping commit.

From the comments to the story:
According to other news sources, there was a 14 year old son and a 17 year old daughter home at the time. The son shot the intruder to protect his sister.
I'm sure Mr. Henderson was just a misunderstood boy hard at work getting his life on track.  According to this story:
Henderson appears on the Vance County court records system with a firearm charge and numerous driving infractions that had been due for hearings in District Court on Jan. 19 and March 15.

He also carried a record of numerous trespass, assault, affray, bodily injury and property damage charges against him, with offense dates spanning his late teen years including April and July of this year.

Henderson had been given a sentence of 16 hours community service for a Sept. 29, 2009, assault, then months later committed another assault on Feb. 23, 2010, for which he was sentenced to serve 30 days in jail.
Yup.  Choir boy.

UPDATE:  The 911 call.  Yup, the 14 year-old was the shooter.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Here We Go Again

In September of 2009 the website MomLogic posted a piece:  Gun Accidents Kill 500 Kids Each Year.  The gunblogosphere found it in May of 2010, courtesy of Damnum Absque Injuria.  Apparently a couple of propagandists journalists at the Denver Post recently discovered it, and took it as Gospel. Instapundit links to the blog Free Colorado where - professional journalist - Ari Armstrong did to the Denver Post writers what I did to the MomLogic column, only he went directly to the authors of the piece.  (I know I left a detailed comment there, but it's gone now.)

At least he got a retraction out of the Post. I still haven't seen Salon retract their much more outrageous "statistic" of 4,000 deaths a year.

And they keep telling us that the professionals have all these layers of editorial oversight, which is what makes them better than bloggers.

I don't bloody think so.

"OK, That Was Awesome!"

This is what terrifies them - the smile:






Those are screenshots from this CBS News piece about the increasing number of female shooters in the U.S. - up 47% since 2001, according to the piece.  The shooter is CBS's Katrina Szish, and I suspect that was her first experience with a firearm.

It probably won't be her last.

That's the smile you get from a new shooter - Every. Single. Time.

The anti's are terrified of that - the realization that shooting is fun. Or as the interview subjects put it, exciting, empowering, relaxing.

Also from the piece:
Katrina Szish, CBS: "A lot of people would not expect shooting to be a sport that women would be interested in. And a lot of people would say guns are masculine."

Lesa Ellanson, NRA certified shooting instructor: "It would depend on how you define femininity. I think a capable woman is the most feminine expression of power that there is."
Which reminded me of this post from quite a while back. Unfortunately, it's so old the links are broken, and the comments are gone, but I agree whole-heartedly with another subject of the CBS interview, Jill Kargman:
"I always dress up. I'm very traditional feminine in certain ways. But when I'm shooting a gun, I guess I feel empowered, and empowerment is sexy."
Damned straight.

"A fábrica está fechada."

Wretchard riffed recently about the decline in fertility among Western nations in If Tomorrow Comes, with several references to Mark Steyn's repeated observations about the negative population growth in Europe.  Richard, quoting Steyn, blames it on socialism,
The problem as Steyn succinctly puts it, is that socialism not only "runs out of other people's money", as Margaret Thatcher once put it. It simply runs out of people. Future historians, if there are any left, will puzzle over how this came about. The economists will have an easier time explaining it. Through some process, socialism has apparently increased the discount rate to the point where the future is consumed for the sake of the present. Not only is investment taxed to feed consumption, tomorrow is hocked to pay for today.

If the fiscal deficit is the direct monetary expression of this high discount rate, the collapsing population is its equivalent demographic expression. Both are saying the same thing, in different terms. In incentives terms, the future is no longer real; so people don't save up for it nor do they have any incentive to sacrifice for it.
I don't think it's quite that simple.  Take, for example, Brazil.  A recent piece in National Geographic, Brazil's Girl Power, explores how that nation's fertility rate dropped precipitously from 6.1 in 1960 to 1.86 in 2009. In Brazil,
where the Roman Catholic Church dominates, abortion is illegal (except in rare cases), and no official government policy has ever promoted birth control
this is a pretty astonishing change over what is essentially just a bit more than two generations. In addition:
And it's not simply wealthy and professional women who have stopped bearing multiple children in Brazil. There's a common perception that the countryside and favelas, as Brazilians call urban slums, are still crowded with women having one baby after another—but it isn't true.

--

In a working-class neighborhood on the outskirts of Belo Horizonte, an unmarried 18-year-old affectionately watched her toddler son one evening as he roared his toy truck toward us; she loved him very much, the young woman said, but she was finished with childbearing. The expression she used was one I'd heard from Brazilian women before: "A fábrica está fechada." The factory is closed.
The National Geographic piece concentrates on two primary influences: Television, and culture. Specifically, the effect television has on culture.

An example of the effect:
Encountering women under 35 who've already had sterilization surgery is an everyday occurrence in Brazil, and they seem to have no compunctions about discussing it. "I was 18 when the first baby was born—wanted to stop there, but the second came by accident, and I am done," a 28-year-old crafts shop worker told me in the northeastern city of Recife, as she was showing me how to dance the regional two-step called the forró. She was 26 when she had her tubal ligation, and when I asked why she'd chosen irreversible contraception at such a young age—she's married, what if she and her husband change their minds?—she reminded me of son number two, the accident. Birth control pills made her fat and sick, she said. And in case I'd missed this part: She was done.

So why two? Why not four? Why not the eight your grandmother had? Always the same answer—"Impossible! Too expensive! Too much work!" With the facial expression, the widened eyes and the startled grin that I came to know well: It's the 21st century, senhora, are you nuts?
It's an interesting premise, convincingly presented.  Strongly recommended.

Wretchard concludes his piece:

Imagine there's no countries.
It isn't hard to do.
Nothing to kill or die for.
And no religion too.

And then the music stopped. This was the silent scene where we came in at the beginning of the screening: the churches closing at the rate of two a week; the factories closing even faster. What Lennon failed to grasp was that any society that had nothing it would sacrifice for would find nothing worth investing in. And so here we are, dragging on the end of our smokes, tipping over any bottles that still might contain some wine. Because the vineyards are barren and will stay that way. The ultimate problem with "living for today" is that tomorrow eventually comes.
With Brazil, and I suspect most, if not all of the Western world, "living for today" is pretty much the basis of the decline in birthrates. Children? "Impossible! Too expensive! Too much work!"

Not worth the investment. It's an economic choice, not necessarily a socialist one.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Quote of the Day - Social Justice Edition

What do you call it when someone steals someone else's money secretly? Theft. What do you call it when someone takes someone else's money openly by force? Robbery. What do you call it when a politician takes someone else's money in taxes and gives it to someone who is more likely to vote for him? Social Justice. -- Thomas Sowell, Random Thoughts

OK, Christmas is Over...

...back to the depressing, pessimistic stuff again. ;-)

First, watch this:




Trust me, if you haven't seen it, it's worth your time.

OK?  Now, watch this:




Both are examples of large numbers of people performing coordinated acts. The first is, in a word, beautiful.

The second, frankly, creeps me the hell out.

The first required literally weeks, months, and in the case of the organist, years of practice to make that performance come off. The second? Merely required a bunch of willing minions.

Human beings, for the most part, are herd creatures. We have, as a species, a need to belong to something, to be a member.

It's something I personally don't do well. I don't really grasp it. I've been asked several times why, if I like firearms so much, didn't I join the military? Simple - I wouldn't fit in, and I know it. Or I would, but I'd hate every second of it, which is essentially the same thing.

I watch hundreds, perhaps a couple thousand people doing what some disembodied voice tells them to do in a public park, and I cannot understand why. Yet I can understand the group performance of the Hallelujah Chorus. One is an exercise in mind-control. The other, an act of beauty.

But at the bottom, they both make use of the human need to belong.

And I cannot help but wonder if that voice had told those "two tribes" to kill each other, if some would not have tried it without thinking...

Friday, December 23, 2011

Grandma Got Indefinitely Detained

From the folks at Reason:





In October of 2008, when I asked Rev. Donald Sensing if he still believed what he wrote in 2003, that:
When my children are my age, they will not be free in any recognizably traditional American meaning of the word. I’d tell them to emigrate, but there’s nowhere left to go. I am left with nauseating near-conviction that I am a member of the last generation in the history of the world that is minimally truly free.
He responded:
The demise of freedom in this country has accelerated even faster than I imagined back in 2003.

--

The only difference between the outcomes of McCain's or Obama's presidency is how quickly they will accelerate the robbery of the people's rights, not whether they will.
No argument here.

Oh, and I am TJIC. I guess that makes me a domestic terrorist now?

Quote of the Day - One Can But Hope Edition

From The Corruption of America, linked yesterday:
What gives me confidence for the future? Gun sales, for one thing. U.S. citizens legally own around 270 million firearms – about 88 guns per 100 citizens (including children) today.

That's a hard population to police without its consent. America is the No. 1 country in the world as ranked by the number of guns per-capita. That plays a major factor in the kind of government you will see take root in America. Things might go too far in this country for a while... And I'd argue they've been going the wrong way for too long. But the government can only take things so far before they'll be faced with a very angry, well-armed opposition.

If the government attempts to take our guns... my opinion would change immediately. But that's one right the Supreme Court has been strengthening recently. It gives me hope that most people in America still understand that the right to bear arms has little to do with protecting ourselves from crime and everything to do with protecting ourselves from government...
RTWT. I mean it.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

If You Read Nothing Else This Weekend...

...read The Corruption of America by Porter Stansberry.  It's an überpost, and it's pretty much a distillation of what I've been writing here since 2003, but it's absolutely worth your time.

Pullquote:
The situation destabilized the entire city. Most of the people who could afford to leave did. Over the next 18 months, 140,000 upper- and middle-class residents – almost all of them white – left the city.

And so, you might ask... after five years of centralized planning, higher taxes, and a fleeing population, what did the government decide to do with its grand experiment? You'll never guess...
I would. "The philosophy cannot be wrong! Do it again, only HARDER!"

Tough history coming, indeed.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Thomas Sowell: "What are they Buying?"

I've begun reading Thomas Sowell's Dismantling America, a collection of his short pieces. I just finished "What are they Buying?" and wanted to share it with you. Here it is in video. It's absolutely worth your 4:45.



Pullquote:
What are the Beltway politicians buying with all the hundreds of billions of dollars they are spending? They are buying what politicians are most interested in -- power.
If you're running an Apple product, the YouTube link is: http://youtu.be/8GWtJcPjxvE

Monday, December 19, 2011

What HE Said

Sometimes I wonder why I even bother blogging anymore.  Mostly Cajun says exactly what I would have, only better because he did it in a lot fewer words.

Dogbert Explains the "Affordable Housing" Debacle

Sunday, December 18, 2011

How Do You Feel About a Central AZ Blogshoot? (Bumped)

For some time in late January?  (Poll added.)

There's a bunch of us now, and I haven't met half of you. Just a short list - Let me know who I've missed in comments and I'll add them:

Great Satan Inc.
Exurban League
Sandcastle Scrolls
Guffaw in AZ
Dustin's Gun Blog
Gator in the Desert
Arizona Shooter
Empty Mags
Eric Shelton
Cowboy Blob
Desert Rat
Macker's World
Misanthropic
Moonbattery
Vox
PapaTodd
Religion Press
Bill of Grace
Nine Pound Sledgehammer
Primeval Papa
flat5.net 
Vuurwapen Blog
An Inconvenient Man
Cap'n Bob and the Damsel
Of Arms and the Law
Void Where Prohibited

That's seventeen twenty-six.  Remember, they don't all have to be gun bloggers, just bloggers who might be interested in going to a shoot.  Who else?

BUMPED: It looks like the last Sunday in January is the winner.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Can't Say I Disagree...

This Made Me LOL - Quote of the Day

...no matter how highbrow your tastes, sometimes you need to just shut up and eat your awesome. -- Tam, I'm impressed.
From her review of Larry Correia's Hard Magic and Spellbound.  Good advice for all occasions, though.  (How does she do that?)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Quote of the WEEK

If a mad scientist were to repair to his laboratory to design a machine that would make white liberals uncomfortable, that machine would be Thomas Sowell
From Thomas Sowell: Peerless Nerd in the December issue of Commentary magazine. By all means, read the whole thing.

Another excerpt from the article, and an example of what the QotW is talking about:
(A)s Sowell reminds us, reality is not optional; facts must be accounted for. It is not as though he is in possession of secret, arcane knowledge. For instance, these facts are easily documented: Gun-control laws began to be passed during times when crime was declining, rather than climbing. Crime began climbing after gun-control laws were passed. Places with very strict gun-control laws typically have more crime than do places without them—a fact that holds true between countries and between regions of the United States. There is little or no relationship between the rigorousness of gun-control laws and criminals’ access to guns. Many countries have lots of guns but relatively few murders, while others have few guns but relatively many murders. Swimming pools kill many more people in accidents than guns do. You do not have to be a great scholar to look at those facts and ask: What is the point of gun-control laws?
ETA:  Dr. Sowell put in another appearance on Uncommon Knowledge back in October.  He discusses his latest book, The Thomas Sowell Reader, the subject of the Commentary piece.  You can watch it here.

"Always listen to experts.

They’ll tell you what can’t be done and why. Then do it." - R.A. Heinlein, The Notebooks of Lazarus Long

So a Bloomberg publication runs a pretty positive story on the increase in gun ownership among women, but - being objective journalists - they have to get a soundbite from the opposition, to wit:
Those Americans who have acquired handguns for protection are living with "serious delusions," says Caroline Brewer, a spokeswoman for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. She contends that few are trained rigorously enough to deploy their weapons in the shock and heat of an attack, that they'll shoot innocent bystanders, that more times than not their firearms will be turned against them.

"To suggest all these guns make the world safer is pure fantasy," she says.
Really? Let's look at some "fantasy" from just the past couple of days, shall we?

First up, we have a blog report of a defensive gun use by a woman:
Short version: Cee shot at a home invader, missed, but successfully convinced him to run like hell.

--

Cee’s sleep schedule has been off this week, so she was still awake around 1:3o in the morning, when she heard something at the back door. She thought it might be the furnace making odd noises, so she peeked around that corner, down the hallway with the furnace, laundry room, and back door, and saw the doorknob jiggling.

My brother and I were fast asleep, so she chose to go grab his handgun instead of waking either of us—an excellent decision because, when she got back to the hallway with that firearm, the bad guy’s head was through the door.

--

So, the bad guy’s head was at the bottom of the doorway because he was standing on the ground. When he saw Cee, they stared at each other for what she said felt like forever. It wasn’t too hard to see the dude because, even though the back-porch light wasn’t on, there was a kitchen light shining partly into the hallway.

Then he resumed trying to open the door and climb into the trailer. Apparently, he didn’t notice that she had a handgun at her side. That’s when she shot at him. She’d used Matt’s 9mm only a couple of times before, as it’s a rather-new addition to their little collection, but she didn’t have any trouble flipping off the thumb safety or aiming. The hollow point hit the mostly closed door, about six inches to the right of the bad guy’s head.

He vanished.
Anecdote #1.

Anecdote #2:
PHOENIX - Police say a suspect who was shot in the backyard of a south Phoenix home Monday afternoon has died from his injuries.

Phoenix police Officer James Holmes said the 29-year-old man was taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries after being shot by a female homeowner.

Holmes said what sounded like a young child called 911 stating that her mother had shot a man at the home near 45th Street and Roeser Road.

--

Holmes said the incident started earlier in the day when the woman saw two males in the backyard around noon.

She called her husband who told her to get out a gun, Holmes said.

Around 3 p.m. the woman saw two males in her backyard again and went out to check.

Holmes said one of the males pulled out a weapon and pointed it at the woman.

She reportedly raised her own weapon and fired at the man, striking him at least once.

Holmes said the suspect's weapon was recovered at the scene and at this point it looks like a case of self defense.

The woman and the girl were not hurt, Holmes said.
Anecdote #3:

Note that the woman had just purchased her .38 and had never fired it, yet she was able to defend herself against an attacker who continued to try and enter her home after being fired upon.


In none of these cases were the women apparently "rigorously trained" - especially not in the last one. In none of these cases did they shoot innocent bystanders, and in none of these cases were their weapons taken and turned on them. Granted, the plural of anecdote is not data, but would these three women have been better off disarmed?  Caroline Brewer, Brady Campaign expert, once again proves Heinlein's Rule:  listen to the "experts," then do the exact opposite of what they advise.  Brewer is the delusional one living a fantasy.

39 Years Ago Today...

Eugene Cernan left the last of these in the lunar soil:




I was ten years old.

We also left behind six American flags, six lunar module descent stages, three lunar rovers zero-emission electric vehicles, three retroreflective laser targets, the crashed remains of six ascent stages and five Saturn S-IVB third stages (what, you thought we left them in lunar orbit?), along with tools and trash and other miscellaneous and sundry items, including a two golf balls.

And 39 years later, we don't have the capability of going back, much less the will.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011

Video!

Capitalist Pig and Mz. VRWC attended last Sunday's Bowling Pin shoot and took some video.  They sent me some of it, and most of it has me in it, shooting.  This one, for example, is Major and I'm shooting my Kimber:


That's me in the center, if you couldn't tell.  This was early, before it warmed up.

Here's the Minor semi-final, with Mz. VRWC on the right and Jim Burnett on the left.  This one was tight, but in the video replay it's obvious that Mz. VRWC won by a fraction of a second:



Here's one where having those extra two rounds in the Smith 327 made the difference.  That's me on the right:



Here's one where having the extra two rounds were no help at all:



And, finally, the one class that I seem to do very well in - .22 rimfire:


That's Capitalist Pig in the center. Thanks for the video!

Next match is January 8.  Hope to see you there!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Wise Ladies

And words of wisdom.

From Breda:
Carry your gun - it's a lighter burden than regret.
From Tam:
If you don't have your own pistol, you may have to wait the rest of your life for the police to bring theirs.

Quote of the Day - Mark Steyn Edition

From his NRO piece Statist Delusions:
Europeans have assured their citizens of cradle-to-grave welfare since the end of the Second World War. This may or may not be an admirable notion, but, both economically and demographically, the bill has come due. Greece is being bailed out by Germany in order to save the eurozone but to do so requires the help of the IMF, which is principally funded by the United States. The entire Western world resembles the English parlor game “Pass the Parcel,” in which a gift wrapped in multiple layers of gaudy paper is passed around until the music stops and a lucky child removes the final wrapping from the shrunken gift to discover his small gift. Except that, in this case, underneath all the bulky layers, there is no there there: Broke nations are being bailed out by a broke transnational organization bankrolled by a broke superpower in order to save a broke currency. Good luck with that.
That's it in a nutshell.

Match Report - Bowling Pins 12/11

Well, my plans for Revolver Domination didn't pan out too well.

It was a chilly morning, but at least this time it wasn't raining.  Ten people showed up, four of us with revolvers, all but one with .22's.  A bunch of regulars didn't make it, but several new shooters did, and one couple, the lovely and talented Capitalist Pig and his wife Mz. VRWC drove down from Phoenix to make the match.  Once again, EUropellet shooters outnumbered those of us who prefer God's Pistol Caliber as designed by John Moses Browning (PBUH).  And, once again, we had a variety of winners.

John Higgins once again took Minor with his EAA Witness.  His son Travis took Revolver with his Python and unerring aim.  (I have to work on the "unerring aim" part.  Eight shots don't help if four of them are misses.)  I took .22 rimfire again with my MkII Target, and Jim Burnett with his Clark Custom 1911 pin gun took Major and then beat John Higgins with his Witness to be overall match winner.  9mm is not always faster!

Capitalist Pig and Mz. VRWC shot some video, so I might get a chance to post that in a day or so.

The match started on time at 0820, and we were all finished by 1100.  I think it's safe to say that everyone had a good time.  A big thanks to everyone who helped to set pins and tear down after the match.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Pole Dancing

A few weeks ago, Lissa posted a video of Jenye Butterfly doing a pole dance performance, stating:
This is not pole dancing, this is Cirque du Freaking Soleil!!
Two weeks ago, a member of AR15.com posed the question, Pole Dancing as an Olympic Sport?

Well, why not?

And there would certainly be a Men's Division....

Unfortunately.

Quote of the Day - Government Edition

Why is it that you have to take a series of tests to drive a car, but there is NO testing requirement to drive a government, which is far more dangerous? -- Historian
From the comment thread to Edumacation, We Don't Haz It.

Safety Tip of the Day: Electricity and Acetylene do not Mix

Found this via a trade publication:  How to Turn Your FJ Inside Out


The story:
So my time almost came to an end this morning... im very lucky to be alive.

First of all, GO HUG YOUR WIFE/HUBBY and tell them you love them.

i had an acetylene bottle in my truck, the valve was bumped so slightly and over night the truck filled with the gas. i noticed the smell, and opened the doors to air out the truck. i drove the truck out of the garage to get some more air movement. i went to roll the pass side window down and as soon as i touched the power windows. BAM. with me in the truck. i lost all hearing out of my right ear and got a scratch on the back of my head. all things considering, im alive.

so now ive got the question out to toyota about a 2012 TT. 125 to canada only, 15 in standard. i want a standard...

pictures tell 1000 words.

dont take any minutes or seconds you have for granted... it may be your last...

peace everyone,
Apparently he lost the ability to use the SHIFT key, too.  More (and bigger) pictures at the link.

Just, DAMN!

Friday, December 09, 2011

Remember "Anagnorisis and Peripeteia"?

That's the post I wrote about Mike Rowe's TED speech about his work on Dirty Jobs.  Mike discussed in that video one of the Dirty Jobs episodes in which he worked on a farm castrating lambs.  It's a relatively graphic, funny, and interesting video, but the key part was where he talked about castrating lambs . . . with his teeth.

Turns out, that might not be such a great idea.

Weird what you stumble across on the web...

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Edumacation, We Don't Haz It

I stumbled across this post at Pithy Title Goes Here, and had to explore further. It seems that an adult took a standardized test for 10th graders, and failed miserably. What was at fault? Why, the test, of course!
"I won’t beat around the bush," he wrote in an email. "The math section had 60 questions. I knew the answers to none of them, but managed to guess ten out of the 60 correctly. On the reading test, I got 62% . In our system, that's a "D", and would get me a mandatory assignment to a double block of reading instruction.

He continued, "It seems to me something is seriously wrong. I have a bachelor of science degree, two masters degrees, and 15 credit hours toward a doctorate.

"I help oversee an organization with 22,000 employees and a $3 billion operations and capital budget, and am able to make sense of complex data related to those responsibilities.

"I have a wide circle of friends in various professions. Since taking the test, I've detailed its contents as best I can to many of them, particularly the math section, which does more than its share of shoving students in our system out of school and on to the street. Not a single one of them said that the math I described was necessary in their profession.

"It might be argued that I’ve been out of school too long, that if I'd actually been in the 10th grade prior to taking the test, the material would have been fresh. But doesn't that miss the point? A test that can determine a student's future life chances should surely relate in some practical way to the requirements of life. I can’t see how that could possibly be true of the test I took."
Wow, a multi-degreed professional couldn't do 10th grade math!

I guess I shouldn't snark so much about "Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader."

Who was this highly credentialed person?
The man in question is Rick Roach, who is in his fourth four-year term representing District 3 on the Board of Education in Orange County, Fl., a public school system with 180,000 students. Roach took a version of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, commonly known as the FCAT, earlier this year.

--

Roach, the father of five children and grandfather of two, was a teacher, counselor and coach in Orange County for 14 years. He was first elected to the board in 1998 and has been reelected three times. A resident of Orange County for three decades, he has a bachelor of science degree in education and two masters degrees: in education and educational psychology. He has trained over 18,000 educators in classroom management and course delivery skills in six eastern states over the last 25 years.
(My emphasis.)  Surely it must be the test!

I'd certainly like to see the questions.  Let me quote once again from The George Orwell Daycare Center:
"There is really nothing very mysterious about why our public schools are failures. When you select the poorest quality college students to be public school teachers, give them iron-clad tenure, a captive audience, and pay them according to seniority rather than performance, why should the results be surprising?

"Ours may become the first civilization destroyed, not by the power of our enemies, but by the ignorance of our teachers and the dangerous nonsense they are teaching our children. In an age of artificial intelligence, they are creating artificial stupidity.

"In a democracy, we have always had to worry about the ignorance of the uneducated. Today we have to worry about the ignorance of people with college degrees." - Thomas Sowell

--

"It is only from a special point of view that 'education' is a failure. As to its own purposes, it is an unqualified success. One of its purposes is to serve as a massive tax-supported jobs program for legions of not especially able or talented people. As social programs go, it’s a good one. The pay isn’t high, but the risk is low, the standards are lenient, entry is easy, and job security is pretty good...in fact, the system is perfect, except for one little detail. We must find a way to get the children out of it.”—Richard Mitchell, the Underground Grammarian.
As Glenn Reynolds puts it, "Credentialed, not educated."

I'm not discounting the possibility that the questions themselves are ridiculous, after all, I've had some experience with "new math" myself.  Again from George Owell Daycare Center:
In 1960: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is four fifths the price. What is his profit?

In 1970: (traditional math): A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 80% of the price. What is his profit in dollars?

In 1970: (new math): A logger exchanges set L of lumber for set M of money. The cardinality of set M is 100 and each element is worth $1. Make 100 dots representing the elements of set M. The set C of costs contains 20 fewer points than set M. Represent set C as a subset of set M, and answer the following question: What is the cardinality of the set P of profits?

In 1980: A logger sells a truckload of wood for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.

In 1990: (Outcome-Based Education): By cutting down beautiful forest trees, a logger makes $20. What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class discussion: How did the forest birds and squirrels feel?

In 2000: A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $120. How does Arthur Andersen determine that his profit margin is $60?

In 2010: El hachero vende un camion carga por $100. La cuesta de productiones...
So I want to see the questions.  But somehow I don't think that would explain the whole problem.

And I really wonder how Mr. Roach would do on the American Civics Literacy Quiz.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Fast & Felonious

I haven't said much about the federal government's "Fast & Furious" program.  Scanning the archives, I think there are only three posts wherein I mention it, and one of them is congratulating David Codrea and Mike Vanderboegh for getting acknowledged as real live authorized journalists for their truly outstanding work in exposing the crimes.  Most of what I'm going to say here is mere repetition of what David and Mike have been reporting all along, but I want some recording of these crimes on this blog.

And it was criminal.

The vast majority of news coverage still calls it a "botched operation" where weapons "slipped across" the border and were "lost," but the fact is the weapons were intentionally allowed across the border with no expectation of tracking them until they were recovered at crime scenes, and there is evidence that tax dollars paid for at least some of them.

Less mentioned are the allegations that "Fast & Furious" was not an exceptional program, that there were other, similar programs operated out of Texas and Florida, with the Florida operation moving weapons to MS-13 in Honduras called "Operation Castaway."  Even less mentioned is the allegation that the U.S. State Dept., through its "direct commercial sales" program - the same program that is used to provide weapons and materiel to friendly governments like Mexico - provided military weapons directly to the Zetas cartel with no straw-purchase middlemen whatsoever.

And now it is reported that over the three years of Obama's first term, "direct commercial sales" to the Mexican government have increased significantly from the Bush era, some ten times greater in 2009 over 2006, and that a significant portion of those weapons have ended up "diverted" into cartel hands.

How significant?

Well "Fast & Furious" was responsible for something on the close order of 2,500 weapons. The (admitted) "direct commercial sales" diversions are on the order of 9,000 weapons.

And the .gov hasn't released information on how many weapons ostensibly went to the Mexican government through the "direct commercial sales" route in 2010 and so far this year.

In one of the few posts I did on F&F, I quoted an op-ed from the local alt.weekly that postulated:
A high-ranking member of the Sinaloa cartel has testified that his organization received from U.S. and Mexican authorities guarantees of immunity and all the weapons it would need to crush its competitors — an ongoing initiative that's resulted in an incredible escalation of violence in Mexico over the past few years.

It's quite possible that "Fast and Furious" was not a sting at all, but was intended to aid the Sinaloans in their efforts to recapture the quieter "good ol' days" when they enjoyed a virtual monopoly.
And now we have email evidence that the massive multiple-sales of arms to known straw-purchasers by Arizona gun dealers at the encouragement of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives were to be used as an excuse for more gun control regulations.

As one commenter put it,
The more the news reveals about Fast & Furious (& Handgrenades!) the more that I think: Chicago Way. The corruption is so thick you can't flush enough toilets to get it down to the gulf of Mexico.
In high-level politics, there's never just one reason anything happens, there are layers.  Heads need to (figuratively) roll over this.  Enough across the border have already done so.  But there need to be many high .gov officials in prison cells over this.

Of course there won't be.  Just like Rod Blagojevich won't spend 14 years in prison.  After November, 2012, I doubt you'll hear another peep about Fast & Furious from the legacy media.  It'll be as though it never happened.  Eric Holder might - might - not be Attorney General, but that's the most that will happen.

It's a Meme!

First Mike Rowe, then John Ratzenberger, then Jay Leno, now City Journal has an in-depth look at the lack of skilled workers in industry. Pullquote:
"The ability to make things in America is at risk," says Jeannine Kunz, director of professional development for the Society of Manufacturing Engineers in Dearborn, Michigan. If the skilled-labor shortage persists, she fears, "hundreds of thousands of jobs will go unfilled by 2021."

The shortage of industrial skills points to a wide gap between the American education system and the demands of the world economy. For decades, Americans have been told that the future lies in high-end services, such as law, and "creative" professions, such as software-writing and systems design. This has led many pundits to think that the only real way to improve opportunities for the country's middle class is to increase its access to higher education.

That attitude is a relic of the post–World War II era, a time when a college education almost guaranteed you a good job. These days, the returns on higher education, particularly on higher education gained outside the elite schools, are declining, as they have been for about a decade.
I ran across something in the archives a couple of days ago that I want to repeat here. It was an excerpt from a 1974 interview by Eric Sevareid of Leo Rosten on the topic of "higher education." Remember, this was 1974, considerably longer than a mere decade ago:
We're practically using the colleges as a dump into which to put youngsters we do not know what to do with. There are today 45 million people between the age of roughly 7 and 24. Their parents don't know what to do with them. They want them to go to college and they often think that they're being trained for jobs. But they're not getting training for useful employment.

Someone has said that education is what remains after everything you've learned is forgotten. The purpose of educating young people is not only to illuminate their spirit and enrich their memory bank but to teach them the pleasures of thinking and reading. How do you use the mind? As a teacher, I always was astonished by the number of people in the classroom who wanted to learn as against those who just wanted to pass. I took pride in my ability to communicate. Generally "communicate" meant one thing. Now the young think "communicate" means "Agree with me!"

The student rebellions of the 1960's exposed the fact that our entire educational system has forgotten the most important thing it can do prior to college: indoctrinate. I believe in the indoctrination of moral values. There's a lot to be said for being good and kind and decent. You owe a duty to those who have taken care of you. You owe a duty to whatever it is that God or fate gave you - to use your brain or your heart. It's senseless to whine, to blame society for every grievance, or to assume that the presence of a hammer means you have to go out to smash things.

The young want everything. They think they an get everything swiftly and painlessly. They are far too confident. They don't know what their problems are, not really. They talk too much. They demand too much. Their ideas have not been tempered by the hard facts of reality. They're idealists, but they don't sense that it's the easiest thing in the world to be an idealist. It doesn't take any brains. This was said by Aristotle 2,300 years ago. Mencken once said that an idealist is someone who, upon observing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, assumes that it will also make better soup.
Hell, most of 'em can't make soup if it doesn't come out of a can.  But they can make drum circles in public parks!

Bowling Pin Match, Sunday December 11

Usual place, the Tucson Rifle Club action range.

Time: 8:00 AM sign-up, first rounds downrange about 8:20

Handguns only: .22 rimfire, centerfire revolver (.38 caliber minimum), semi-autos (9mm minimum). Single-shots, if you're a masochist.

You're welcome to shoot your revolver against the semi-auto crowd, but we think it's more fun to shoot wheelgun-vs.-wheelgun.

Cost: $10 for the first gun, $5 for any additional guns. Bring about 100 rounds for each. You probably won't need 'em all unless you're really good at missing fast, but 50 probably won't be enough.

Mead Strikes Again

As I've mentioned before, my first exposure to Walter Russell Mead came from his seminal 1999 essay The Jacksonian Tradition, brought to my attention by Steven Den Beste.  Take time to read that, if you haven't already. 

Since then Mr. Mead has become a blogger, posting at Via Meadia at The American Interest, and he's done some excellent stuff.  Yesterday's essay is an outstanding extension of The Jacksonian Tradition, and applies to the current Republican presidential primary race.  Entitled The Age of Hamilton, It too is worth your time.  Excerpt:
President Obama will run for re-election as a Hamiltonian and a custodian of the 20th century progressive state. He will argue that modest and careful reforms, trimming a few excesses here, making some innovative policy shifts there, can keep the old ship afloat in the twenty first century. Like JFK, he will argue that the best and brightest can develop government policy that will guide the nation to a brighter future through collective action and state investments.

Governor Romney, so far as one can discern, is at his core a Hamiltonian as well, but he has less sympathy than President Obama and the Democrats for the blue synthesis of Hamiltonianism and social democracy. He stands roughly in a line of Republican presidents like Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon and George H. W. Bush who accepted the basic elements of the progressive state. Former Speaker Gingrich is also a Hamiltonian, but much more than either Romney or Obama he believes that Hamiltonianism needs to be re-imagined for our times. Congressman Paul is the one Jeffersonian in the race, and of the four he seems the least likely to be elected in 2012.

Monday, December 05, 2011

For the Recoil Junkie

The .700 WTF being fired:


Who Says Dilbert Isn't Topical?

Dilbert.com

The Nursery Rhyme was Wrong

Big fleas have little fleas,
Upon their backs to bite 'em,
And little fleas have lesser fleas,
and so, ad infinitum.

Found at Weapon-blog.com today:
I think we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious.
Thomas Jefferson
Letter to William Ludlow
September 6, 1824
Every single damned one of the bloodsuckers, from tiniest to largest, suck on the host, not on each other.

We Might All Need This in a Few Years

The Global Village Construction Set, "the fifty most important machines it takes for modern life to exist":

Friday, December 02, 2011

Support Soldiers' Angels

And maybe win something nice.

Linoge over at Walls of the City is holding a contest:
The Rules:

How to Earn a Ticket: 

1.  Every five dollars you donate directly to Soldiers’ Angels nets you one numbered ticket.
2.  Every five dollars you spend in their Dollar Days or Amazon shops (where the products are shipped directly to them) gets you one ticket.
3.  Every five dollars you spend in the Angels’ Store for any product that is shipped to "ANY Hero", "ANY Wounded Soldier", or "A SPECIFIC Soldier" earns you one ticket.
4.  DO NOT SEND ME MONEY.  All money and goods should go directly to Soldiers’ Angels
5.  DO SEND ME THE RECEIPT.  Anonymize it however you like, and use the actual receipt or a screencap, but email from an address I can reach you back at.  Send the receipt/proof to “linoge (at) wallsofthecity (dot) net”. 
6.  Within 24 hours, you should receive an email from me indicating your ticket numbers.  If you do not, feel free to email me again or comment here.

How We Will Do the Drawing:

1.  The drawing will occur in decreasing fair market value (in other words, most-expensive item first, according to MSRP). 
2.  You can only win once. 
3.  When you send me your receipt, please indicate how many tickets you want put in each pool. 
4.  A single drawing will take place for each prize (currently 12), not each pool. 
5.  Sometime on 01JAN12, with Better Half watching over my shoulder, I will hit up Random.org and generate however many numbers I need.  I will email the winners that day.
Go check out the various goodies he's giving away. If you can't use 'em you can re-gift 'em!  I've got $50 in Amazon credit I think I'll donate to the cause.

Quote of the Day - Education Edition

Another one from Tam:
Look, without getting into my usual rants about public education (in which I point out that the adjective "public" modifies the noun "school" the same way it does "transportation" or "restroom": serving as a warning that it is filthy and full of junkies and criminals,) can we agree that the school board has larger fish to fry than this minnow? After all, what good does it do to be able to laboriously copy out "See Spot run" in the most elegant of scripts if you haven't successfully been taught to read it in the first place?
UPDATE: This one from Tam is better, and would have won had I seen it first:
Central governments have managed to turn murder from a hobby pursued at home by individual craftsmen into a wholesale industry churning out slipshod and substandard corpses in numbers that can’t be read without sounding like Carl Sagan.
It's connection to education? We should learn from our past.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Anybody Used a Sight Mark Sight?

It looks like they make a clone of the Burris FastFire II.  (Hell, for all I know, Bushnell markets the Sight Mark piece under their own label.)

I'm thinking seriously about getting one for the TRR8, but I'd like some user feedback first.