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, December 31, 2012

New Years Wishes

I bestow upon you, my readers, my fondest and most fervent wishes that 2013 will not be the whirling vortex of suck and fail I expect it to be.  Party hard, be safe, and awake tomorrow with no hangover.


(And I wonder why I never get invited to parties.....)

Well, I Recommend the AZ Blogshoot, but...

I just received an email from the Arizona State Rifle & Pistol Association (of which I'm a member).  To wit:
AR15-101
The safety and information class for all you new AR15 owners....yes all 7,000 of you in Arizona which purchased Americas Most Popular Rifle in the last 10 days!
Join us for this informative and fun seminar this Saturday.


So....why would you not attend this fun and informative class?

When: Saturday, January 5th.
Where: Ben Avery Shooting Complex
(I-17 & Carefree Highway)
Phoenix Police Department Rifle Range #1
Time: 9am to 12noon
Cost: *$10 (includes range fees, Safety Device, Study Materials, etc.)

Equipment: Your UNLOADED and CASED AR15, 40-50 rounds of ammunition, eye and ear protection, appropriate clothing, water and sunscreen.

* This class is free to ASRPA members.
Seven thousand AR-15s in ten days. In one state. And this doesn't include the M1As, AK-47s and -74s, Mini-14s, etc. Just ARs.

Yeah. Americans want more gun control. Right.

Southern/Central Arizona Blogshoot (Bumped AGAIN))

Exurban Kevin and I have been discussing another Southern/Central AZ blogshoot. As previously, it will be held at the Elsy Pearson Public Shooting Range just off Trekell Road and I-8, just West of I-10 near Casa Grande. We've selected Saturday, January 5 as the target date (no pun intended.)

Same as last year, the range opens at 7:00AM. There are no rangemasters. There are no chairs - bring something to sit on. The firing line is covered and there are concrete shooting benches, however.


And the city has porta-potties out there on a permanent basis, so we don't have to rent our own (but bring your own TP just in case.)

The rules are pretty simple:


No explosives, no .50BMG rifles, clean up after yourself, don't be a dick.

The rifle range is 300 yards deep with the first berm at 200.  The mountains that form the ultimate backstop are another 300 yards out and farther.  The ground there is reinforced concrete disguised as sun-baked clay. Forget about any target stand that needs to stick into the ground, it ain't happenin'. Steel and targets that don't need taping are best. And the benches are funky-shaped. Regular camping chairs are marginal, stools are better. I bring a folding chair, a target stand made of 2" PVC pipe, and my steel swingers. I also have some .22 rimfire rated rolling targets made of steel.

I recommend you bring:  water or other non-alcoholic beverages (no alcohol on the range), sunscreen, ear and eye protection.  Ladies, don't wear anything low-cut or open-necked.  Yes, I'm sure it looks lovely, but you don't want to catch hot brass down in there.  OPTIONAL:  Something to shoot with, and something to shoot AT.  If you're a reader or a non-gun blogger interested in coming to a off-the-cuff funshoot, please come on down!  I imagine most of us will be bringing multiple firearms and lots of ammo, but if you don't, well, I'm willing to let people shoot my stuff (with my ammo), and I'm willing to let them shoot at my targets.

We're planning on trying to have a cookout at the range.  Last year's was meh, but my burgers were pretty good.  Hope to see you there!  Chime in in the comments if you're considering coming.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Quote of the Day - Nuke it from Orbit Edition

It's obvious that the way to end school shootings is to forget about the "shootings" part and focus on the first word instead.

We need to abolish schools.

--

Decades hence, our offspring will listen in disbelief when we tell them we used to pay billions of dollars to warehouse children in “gun-free zones” overseen by morons; that 21st-century kids were groomed for 19th-century jobs and came out functionally illiterate but experts nonetheless on the subjects of Kwanzaa, “safe” sex, and something called global warming.

Kathy Shaidle, Ban Schools, not Guns. Taki's Magazine
RTWT. And the comments.

h/t:  Vanderleun

Friday, December 28, 2012

Well Said!

Today's Quote of the Day from a Forbes piece, Gun Control Tramples On The Certain Virtues Of A Heavily Armed Citizenry.

Excerpt:
Hard cases make bad law, which is why they are reserved for the Constitution, not left to the caprice of legislatures, the sophistry and casuistry of judges or the despotic rule making of the chief executive and his bureaucracy. And make no mistake, guns pose one of the hardest cases a free people confronts in the 21st century, a test of whether that people cherishes liberty above tyranny, values individual sovereignty above dependency on the state, and whether they dare any longer to live free.
RTWT.

Repost: "A Mistake a Free People Get to Make Only Once"

I have been working, off and on, on another patented überpost on the latest push for an "assault weapon ban," but in the interim I went back to the archives and found a piece I wrote in July of 2003, shortly after starting this blog that is still pertinent, though many of the links are now broken. I thought I'd repost it, as I doubt many of you reading today have been with me since 2003 and fewer still have plumbed the depths of the archives or even the "Best of" on the sidebar. So here again is "A Mistake a Free People Get to Make Only Once":
__________________________________________________________________________________

"May you live in interesting times."

That fits. A lot happened in the last couple of weeks. Brian Borgelt, the owner of Bull's Eye Shooter Supply in Tacoma, Washington, the gun shop from which Muhammed and Malvo "acquired" their Bushmaster AR-15, is finally getting his Federal Firearms License pulled for improperly tracking and losing records for over 200 firearms, while the GAO reported that the federal government has lost 824 firearms, some of which were full-auto weapons, and many of which were not properly reported or reported long after the loss. Canada's gun registration deadline has passed with (a government estimated) 20% of rifles and shotguns remaining unregistered. Another workplace multiple shooting occurred. This time there were five dead and nine wounded at a Lockheed plant in Mississippi (not including the perp.) Three teenagers were arrested before they could carry out what certainly appears to be a premeditated killing spree. A grandmother, mother, and three children - all infants to toddlers - were shot to death in Bakersfield, California. (A quick Google news search on the word "shooting" brings up the normal long list of single-victim stories, as well.) The Supreme Court received the petition for a writ of certiorari in the Silveira v. Lockyer case. And the UN released its Small Arms Survey 2003 that detailed worldwide civilian gun ownership. That report proclaimed that there is a near 1:1 parity of guns and people in the United States.

America, it is often pointed out, has one of the highest firearm-related homicide rates in the world, and easily the most civilian-owned arms. Gun control supporters constantly decry the "number of guns" in America as being the, or at least a cause of our firearm-related mayhem. It is the point of the UN Small Arms Survey: the number of guns in civilian hands worldwide represents a threat to the health and safety of those civilians and their societies, and that governments should work to reduce the number and so reduce the threat.

And here's a shocker - to some extent I agree with the basic premise that having a lot of guns around, indiscriminately, uncontrolled, does contribute to the volume of injury and death inflicted with firearms. It's almost - almost - a tautology. Here in America if John Q. Wifebeater didn't have a .357 revolver laying around, he might not be able to kill the Mrs. (or vice-versa) the next (and last) time they get into a knock-down, dragout fight. It's possible that a distraught teenager in a moment of bleakness might not kill himself with his father's shotgun if Daddy just didn't have one. If no one kept a gun at home, there wouldn't be twenty or so toddlers killed accidentally with them each year. If guns were less available, it's possible that more armed robbers would be armed with crowbars and baseball bats rather than 9mm's, and fewer convenience store clerks and cab drivers would end up shot.

Yes, America has a lot of guns and a lot of death and injury by them. I've been asked "How many people have to die before you realize that we need effective gun controls?!?"

And I've responded: "How many deaths will it take before you realize that gun control isn't effective, and stop pushing for new gun control laws?"

Because that's the question, isn't it? We all realize that there's a problem, but we're divided by the proposed solution to that problem. And we're really divided on just what that solution entails - because if you believe that "the number of guns" is the problem, then the only answer is to reduce (to some arbitrary "this is enough" level) or eliminate those guns. I'm willing to bet that the arbitrary "this is enough" level is roughly equivalent to zero. In order to eliminate those guns you've got two choices: render the Second Amendment meaningless in the minds of the citizens and in the courts of America, or find some way to legally give government the power to do what the Second Amendment prohibits - disarm America.

So far the legal process of making gun ownership by the law-abiding difficult in America has only been successful in a few places: Chicago, New York City, Washington D.C., Maryland, New Jersey, and some others. Generally, buying a gun legally still a fairly easy thing to do nationwide. (You'll note that it hasn't affected illegal acquisition in the least.) The second part, rendering the Second Amendment meaningless, has progressed somewhat better. At this time there is no legally recognized individual right to arms in the states of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and to be honest, that right is only recognized - and weakly - in the 5th Circuit. The other circuits are largely mute on the question, but lean towards the 9th Circuit's opinion. If the Supreme Court grants cert. on Silveira that question might finally get an answer. (And I'm not betting on just what that answer will be, either.)

However, I've made a blanket statement: "Gun control isn't effective." How can I claim that? Gun control works in other countries, doesn't it? What about the 1934 National Firearms Act? Hasn't that been effective? Gun rights proponents proudly proclaim that only one legally registered fully-automatic weapon has been used in a crime - and that by an off-duty police officer. Gun control proponents respond that this means that licensing and registration does work. Well, admittedly the use of NFA weapons is much less than, say, basic handguns, but how do you define "works?" In a discussion I had a while back on another site it was defined to me as "not hindering law abiding citizens from owning guns but making it more difficult for criminals to acquire guns." My response to that was that the question of "hindering" was one of degree (as in "what, exactly, constitutes 'infringing' on a right?"), but that licensing and registration - in some countries - indeed did not significantly hinder the law abiding from owning guns, and that it did, indeed make it "more difficult" for criminals to acquire guns - but it didn't make it effectively difficult. As an example, the "war on (some) drugs" does not prevent the law abiding from getting needed medications, but it doesn't effectively prevent criminals from getting illicit drugs, does it? Harder, yes, but I think that scoring a tab of Ecstasy or a baggie of pot is probably only a little more involved than driving down to the neighborhood Walgreen's if you're inclined to use that stuff. And if you want to buy a gun while you're at it, that probably isn't any harder. You might even get a discount for doing both at once.

What I did note in that discussion, however, is that in many societies that had gun licensing and registration, the registry had been used for gun confiscation, and that I believed that they would be used that way here, as well. Nor am I alone in that belief. Charles T. Morgan, at the time Director of the Washington office of the ACLU said in Senate testimony in 1975 when asked about gun registration:
What the administation's and Congressman McClory's bills . . . call for is a whole new set of Federal records. . . .

I have not one doubt, even if I am in agreement with the National Rifle Association, that that kind of a record-keeping procedure is the first step to eventual confiscation under one administration or another.
Only one legally owned NFA firearm has been used in a crime, but it didn't stop two gunmen from using at least three fully-automatic weapons during the North Hollywood bank robbery. It certainly hasn't stopped criminals from sawing off shotgun barrels.

But let's look at the NFA for a second. The primary effect of the 1934 National Firearms Act was the registration of fully-automatic weapons and the strict control of their transfer between law-abiding owners. On top of that, at the time the law was passed a truly draconian "tax" was assessed on each transfer of NFA restricted weapons - $200. In 1934 that was a lot of cash. The effect was to essentially stop the production of many otherwise legal NFA firearms for public consumption such as the Ithaca Auto & Burglar - because the guns themselves didn't cost $200. Now, of course shotguns like these
are sold for about $400 plus, of course, the $200 transfer tax. Machine guns, on the other hand, have always been pretty pricey with the exception of a few really cheap models like the M3 "grease gun" and the Sterling. But throw $200 on top of the price, and the legal market for them shrinks. With a small legal demand, not too many hit the illicit market either. They weren't there to steal, and there was a significant obstacle to straw-purchases: owner registration. So, in a sense, the NFA licensing and registration scheme "worked" - it made it harder for criminals to access NFA restricted weapons - but it obviously wasn't effective at reducing gun crime. Criminals got the weapons they wanted, or just substituted different weapons. If someone really wants a fully-automatic weapon, he can get one - as evidenced by the North Hollywood shootout and other crimes. If someone really wants a short-barrelled shotgun, all it takes is a hacksaw. If someone really wants a suppressor, it just takes a decently equipped shop. Licensing and registration "works" at making it more difficult for criminals to get guns if you can stop or greatly reduce the influx of the weapons you're trying to restrict. Once they're in circulation, it's too late. They don't get registered, or they get stolen (or reported stolen). In a country with (according to the UN report) 238,000,000 to 276,000,000 guns, registration as a "gun control" measure is a forlorn hope. As a precursor to confiscation, however...

So, reducing the number of guns available to the public could reduce the "heat of the moment" type killings, and the accidental deaths by firearm, but it doesn't really affect deliberate criminal useage. In fact, as evidenced by England, it might result in an increase in deliberate criminal use. It might prevent, say, the Lockheed slayings, but it won't have much of a positive effect on the number of convenience stores robbed annually, and might even result in a negative effect when criminals realize they have little to fear from their targets.

The initial argument against semi-automatic "assault weapons" was that these were the "weapons of choice" of criminals, but the fact of the matter is, with well over 2 million (depending on your definition) "assault weapons" in circulation, the most popular firearms in criminals hands remains the handgun - and only the Violence Policy Center is willing to come out in favor of banning those. Now the argument against "assault weapons" is that they're only good for killing a large number of people indiscriminately (which of course is why police forces across the country are equipping with them. Right?) But using that argument there is now a Federal "ban" on some "assault weapons" and there are some state and local "bans" on them as well. The "bans" just resulted in some redesigns and some workarounds, but the intent was clear - these weapons were no longer to be offered to the general public ostensibly in an effort to keep them out of the hands of people who would misuse them. The same holds true now for .50 BMG caliber rifles - efforts are afoot both locally and nationally to (at a minimum) include these weapons in the NFA restricted list. Demand for both has skyrocketed - if we think the government is going to ban them, we want them.

So, to date the path to civilian (some say "victim") disarmament has been pursued through the "death-by-a-thousand-cuts" strategy, or, more aptly the "frog in a pot" analogy. This is illustrated well by the "assault weapons ban" that really isn't. Charles Krauthammer made the true point of the law quite plain in his 1996 Washington Post op-ed "Disarm the Citizenry:"
It might be 50 years before the United States gets to where Britain is today. Passing a law like the assault weapons ban is a symbolic - purely symbolic - move in that direction. Its only real justification is not to reduce crime but to desensitize the public to the regulation of weapons in preparation for their ultimate confiscation."
The gun control groups term it as the "next step" - as in "Gun DNA is the next step for New York as we continue to develop innovative crime fighting policies." - so said New York Governor George E. Pataki in 2000. There's always a "next step" because all the previous steps didn't work to reduce crime or accidents - but they do work to make it more difficult to legally acquire and keep a firearm.

There is no doubt that there is a movement out there intent on disarming not only Americans, but civilians around the world, because the only "effective" gun control is gun elimination, and the only way to reduce the number of guns in civilian hands is to take them from us, or make us give them up. As with all things political, there is no single reason for this movement. There's the tinfoil-hat bilderburg/zionist/mason/communist/skull-and-bones conspiracy-of-the-week, there's the "we know what's best for you" crowd (which can be rolled into the first group pretty easily), there are the people who have lost loved ones to gun violence, and there are the people who "care" but don't tend to think much (the "useful idiots.") And on the face of it, it seems pretty obvious to a lot of people that fewer guns would be a good thing, even to many gun owners. It seems pretty obvious to a lot of people that "assault weapons" have no place in our society. In fact, our gun control laws have, for years, been predicated on a "sporting use" philosophy - and even I will admit that there isn't a lot of "sporting use" for a gun like an AK-47 or even my Mossberg 590.

This movement, however, has lost traction here in the last few years. More and more states have adopted "shall-issue" concealed-carry laws in the face of vociferous opposition from the gun control crowds. And, most telling, incidents like the Lockheed shooting and Columbine haven't resulted in the kind of overwhelming outcry for more gun control that incidents like Port Arthur, Dunblane, and Erfurt elicit in other countries. A lot of people ask why that is? What is it about Americans that makes us ignore what is so obvious to others - that guns shouldn't be in private hands, uncontrolled?

I think I have an answer to that. And to give you an example, I will quote, in its entirety, a letter recently submitted to Kim du Toit (and republished with his permission):
Your offhand comments about keep-and-bear supporters who do not, themselves, keep and bear hit a nerve.

I've seen the light, and I'm here to testify.

To those of you who grew up with guns, I expect that what I'm about to say will seem painfully obvious. But I came to class late, and what I learned there is still fresh and vibrant.

I thought, all my life, that I couldn't own a gun safely, that no one could, really. Guns were dangerous and icky. Even after I realized that the Second Amendment was not quite the shriveled, antiquated appendix I'd been taught, for a couple of years or so I still wobbled around with the training-wheel comfort of believing that while not all gun owners were necessarily gap-toothed red-necked fascist militia whackos, I myself ought not to own firearms. I was too clumsy and careless, and guns were still dangerous and icky.

Just before 9/11 I woke up to how quickly my liberty was eroding, and in a fit of anger and defiance started saving for a handgun while training with rentals. (Thanks to Harry at Texas Shooters Range here in Houston.) When I actually bought one (to the horror and confusion of my friends and family), having it around the house, carrying it in my car, talking about it, showing it off, and of course shooting and maintaining it, taught me what I could not learn from books, magazines, classes, or even Usenet:

It taught me that freedom takes practice.

I thought I'd practiced. I'm as full of opinions as the next guy, and not shy about passing 'em out to anyone who'll listen. I read banned books and underground comics. I've walked the picket lines and hung out with undesirables. A preacher's kid, I pointedly don't practice a religion. I've done stuff that Wasn't Allowed.

But when I got a gun, I discovered it had all been safe, padded, wading-pool-with-floaties dabbling. After near on to fifty years, I finally started to grow up. If my Grands are any clue, I've still got twenty or thirty years to work on it, and get to be something like mature by the time I go senile.

It's not just that rights are useless if they are not exercised, not even that rights must be used or be lost. It's that exercising your rights, constantly, is what instructs you in how to be worthy of them.

Being armed goes far beyond simple self-protection against thugs or even tyrants -- it's an unequivocal and unmatched lesson that you are politically and morally sovereign; that you, and not the state, are responsible for your life and your fate. This absolute personal sovereignty is the founding stone of the Republic. "A well-regulated militia" (where the militia is "the whole people") isn't just "necessary to the security of a free state" because it provides a backup to (and defense against) the police and the army. More importantly, keeping and bearing arms trains sovereign citizens in the art of freedom, and accustoms us to our authority and duty.

As Eric S. Raymond wrote:

"To believe one is incompetent to bear arms is, therefore, to live in corroding and almost always needless fear of the self -- in fact, to affirm oneself a moral coward. A state further from 'the dignity of a free man' would be rather hard to imagine. It is as a way of exorcising this demon, of reclaiming for ourselves the dignity and courage and ethical self-confidence of free (wo)men that the bearing of personal arms, is, ultimately, most important."

Unless you have some specific impediment (and most impediments can be overcome), arm yourself. Find out who you really are. (Yes, there are many paths to self-knowledge. But this tests something you cannot access any other way. No one path goes everywhere.) You'll probably discover you're not all that bad. And if not, well...

Think of it as evolution in action.
THAT is what separates us from everybody else: the belief in personal sovereignty, as a citizen of this nation. In fact, there's a guy out there who has a site dedicated to opposing the very idea of personal sovereignty. (It's a very good site from an informational standpoint, although I disagree violently with his position.) Why don't we get rid of our guns? Because we're not subjects, we're citizens. The majority of Americans - still, somewhere deep inside, perhaps dimly - understand that we are sovereigns, that we are responsible, not government. Our collapsing schools have not yet broken us of this belief, though I don't think it exists in many of our children any more. For the majority of us who bother to vote, however, being told that we are not responsible enough, grates. We are not willing to yeild, yet, our right to self defense, and eventually self determination. Somehow, the majority of voters sense a threat to their sovereignty.

I find this encouraging as I watch Europe proceed in its formation of its union. I read as Steven Den Beste points out the disastrous path they are taking, and wonder what's going to happen there if it all comes crashing down (as I believe it will.) That collapse would have worldwide repercussions. We don't make a lot of things here any more. There really is a 'global economy' all connected together like a vast power grid, just waiting for a circuit failure somewhere to crash the system in whole or in part. And if such a collapse does occur, I believe the results will be very, very bad. I wonder what North Korea is going to do, and when or if China will make a grab for Taiwan. I wonder if Pakistan and India will throw nukes at each other some day. In short, I wonder if the wheels might come off the wagon without much warning, and leave the U.S. and the rest of the world in a really bad position. "Interesting times" indeed.

For all the mayhem guns in civilian hands have caused, guns in the exclusive control of governments have resulted in far more. "Assault weapons" may not have much of a "sporting purpose," but the Second Amendment isn't about "sport." Judge Kozinski in his eloquent dissent to the denial of appeal for an en banc rehearing of Silveira explained it perfectly:
The majority falls prey to the delusion—popular in some circles - that ordinary people are too careless and stupid to own guns, and we would be far better off leaving all weapons in the hands of professionals on the government payroll. But the simple truth - born of experience - is that tyranny thrives best where government need not fear the wrath of an armed people.

--

All too many of the other great tragedies of history - Stalin’s atrocities, the killing fields of Cambodia, the Holocaust, to name but a few - were perpetrated by armed troops against unarmed populations. Many could well have been avoided or mitigated, had the perpetrators known their intended victims were equipped with a rifle and twenty bullets apiece, as the Militia Act required here. If a few hundred Jewish fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto could hold off the Wehrmacht for almost a month with only a handful of weapons, six million Jews armed with rifles could not so easily have been herded into cattle cars.


My excellent colleagues have forgotten these bitter lessons of history. The prospect of tyranny may not grab the headlines the way vivid stories of gun crime routinely do. But few saw the Third Reich coming until it was too late. 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.
Somehow, I think that we are almost alone in the world still understanding in our bones that tyranny isn't something relegated to history, never to raise its ugly head again. And because we understand that, we're willing to endure our daily mayhem and slaughter. It's better to live with that, than to make the mistake we only get to make once.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Quote of the Day - Sultan Knish Edition

This is a long one:
The gun control debate, like all debates with the left, is reducible to the question of whether we are individuals who make our own decisions or a great squishy social mass that helplessly responds to stimuli. Do people kill with guns or does the availability of guns kill people? Do bad eating habits kill people or does the availability of junk food kill people?

To the left these are distinctions without a difference. If a thing is available then it is the cause of the problem. The individual cannot be held accountable for shooting someone if there are guns for sale. Individuals have no role to play because they are not moral actors, only members of a mob responding to stimuli.

You wouldn't blame a dog for overeating; you blame the owners for overfeeding him. Nor do you blame a dog for biting a neighbor. You might punish him, but the punishment is training, not a recognition of authentic responsibility on the part of the canine. And the way that you think of a dog, is the way that the left thinks of you. When you misbehave, the left looks around for your owner.

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.
(My emphasis.)  Read the rest, Gun Control, Thought Control and People Control.

Then read (if you haven't) That Sumbitch Ain't Been BORN!

A Capella

Journey of Faith performed a Christmas "Flash Mob" at the South Bay Galleria in Redondo Beach on December 18, much to the delight of local shoppers.
Merry Christmas to all my readers, from your friendly gun-blogging atheist. And a happy New Year, too.  (I'm glad the Mayans were wrong.)

OK, the NRA...

...didn't fold.

And they're reportedly gaining about 8,000 members a day.

Yeah, there's a real "culture shift" going on...

Gun Control News in Other Nations... (UPDATE)

We have the story of former Marine Jon Hammar who is currently rotting in a Mexican prison for, well, I'm not quite sure:
Nightmare in Mexico: Friends, family call for the release of ex-Marine jailed in Mexico after trying to declare an antique shotgun

Jon Hammar was en route to Costa Rica for a surfing trip when he cleared the gun with U.S. customs and was told he could do the same in Mexico. Four months later, he's still behind bars in a notorious prison and is 'losing hope.'

An ex-Marine who survived dangerous patrols in Iraq and Afghanistan is now "chained to a bed" in a notorious Mexican prison after a road trip to Costa Rica went terribly wrong, his friends and family say.

A chorus of supporters are calling on the Mexican government to release Jon Hammar, 27, who was jailed in August for carrying an antique shotgun that he believed could be legally registered in Mexico.

Hammar, of Palmetto Bay, Fla., was headed to Costa Rica for a surfing trip to try and recover from post-traumatic stress after four years of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"The only time Hammar is not losing his mind is when he's on the water," fellow Marine veteran Ian McDonough, who was arrested with Hammar during the August incident but later released by Mexican authorities, told McClatchy newspapers.

Hammar and McDonough had stocked up a used Winnebago with surfboards and camping supplies and had just crossed the border from Brownsville, Texas into Matamoros, Mexico, where they were detained.

Hammar had registered the shotgun, a Sear & Roebuck model that once belonged to his great-grandfather, with U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials on the U.S. side of the border.

After being told by U.S. agents the shotgun posed no problem and could be reigstered in Mexico, Hammar and McDonough crossed the border, tried to declare the weapon, and found themselves separated and behind bars.

"The crux of it is the length of the barrel," his mother, Olivia Hammar, 46, told Reuters. "There's an old law on the books that says it can't be under 25 inches...It's a 2-foot barrel...It's strictly a technicality."

"It's a glorified BB gun," she said.

McDonough, who has Argentine residency in addition to his U.S. citizenship, was freed a few days after the Aug. 13 arrest and walked back to Brownsville.

But the nightmare was just beginning for Hammar, who on Aug. 20 was charged with carrying a deadly weapon and placed in a prison known as CEDES in Matamoros, a notorious facility heavily populated, and run, by Mexico's dangerous drug cartels.

His parents have even received late night phone calls saying he would be killed if they failed to make thousands of dollars in payments into a Western Union account.

"He was housed in a wing controlled by the drug cartel," said Eddie Varon-Levy, a Mexican lawyer hired by the family. He told Reuters the charges in Mexico appear to be an effort to "make an example out of the gringo."
Read the whole thing.

This is what happens when you don't grok that Mexico doesn't allow its law-abiding citizens access too much firepower, and certainly makes it difficult for foreigners to bring in firearms.

In better times the U.S. government would simply inform the Mexican government that unless this Marine was released and returned to the States, a Marine detachment would be dispatched to bring him back, and that detachment would have artillery and close-air support.

UPDATE: It's not a Marine Expeditionary Force, but you can sign a petition urging Jon Hammar's release.

UPDATE: 12/21/12 - Hammar is being released.

Local Gunshop Update

From my friend at my favorite gun shop, an update:
If you are interested, here is the current "state" of things at the shop:

We have ONE AR platform left.

We have ONE M-1A platform left

We have a handful of AK platforms left

We have NO high-cap mags for ARs or AKs left

We have a handful of 20-round M-1A mags left

We are almost out of Glocks

We are almost out of Glock mags

We are OUT of .380 ammo

We are almost out of 9mm ammo

We are still good on .223 and 7.62X39 ammo

We are running low on Ruger 10/22s

There is a faint hope that we MIGHT see one or two ARs "sometime after the first of the year". Same with mags, parts kits, etc.
And this is hardly an exception. Tam links to this report at The Firearm Blog, with photographic evidence.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Better than I Could Say It...

I'm working on an überpost on the topic myself, but Larry Corriea has beaten me to it:  An Opinion on Gun Control.  Go.  Read.  Spread it around.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Truck Update

Despite the fact that this is a gun blog, and we're in BOHICA mode once again, I wanted to follow up on my truck situation. As previously reported, I returned the Tonka truck to the dealership, and they have it up for sale again after repairing the problems I returned it for.

I have replaced it with a 2002 F250 I purchased from a different dealership because, well, they had it and at a price I was willing to pay.

I would have been more than willing to buy from the previous dealership again.  They specialize in trucks, and 4x4 diesels in particular, but they run across some interesting stuff.  They buy primarily vehicles that were stolen and recovered, then auctioned by the insurance company that paid off on the theft.  Interesting business model.  I have no qualms about recommending them: Wheel Kinetics.

If you're interested in the now-repaired Nuclear Banana, here it is. Watch the video:


Good guys. It was a nice truck, but I don't think they'll sell it this time for what I paid for it.  New EGR, new water pump, two more new injectors and a reprogrammed fuel injection control module.  That could not have been cheap, and I wasn't going to put the $$ into it.  They have.

From the Front Lines

U.S. Citizen reported on Monday:
Firearms and Ammunition inventory levels continued their plunge at Nationwide Distributors which serve firearms dealers.

Ammunition broke the 50% level (less than half of pre-election day stock on hand remains).

One order for Magpul PMags was cancelled today at Traction Control.

At 5:30 AM I showed 9,330 units on hand, when the order was received (at 5:00 PM) the quantity available was zero. My distributor reported over 70,000 Magpul PMags were sold last weekend alone.
(My emphasis.)  My local favorite firearms vendor Dave reported this to me via email last night:
"Submitted for your approval":

a) We sold more AR-platform rifles TODAY than we have in the past two months

b) We can't replace the ARs that we have sold, because ALL of our distributors are sold out.

c) None of our distributors have any idea when they will see more.

d) Last week we received a shipment of over one hundred Mag-Pul 30-round P- mags and were worried about having them around through year-end inventory. As of today, we're worried about finding more.

e) We are selling multiple cases worth of 9mm ball ammo every day. These are not being sold by the case, they are being sold as individual, 50-round boxes.
(I bought two boxes myself today. I really have to sit down and do some handloading for 9mm. I have all the components. - Ed.)

f) I put out three to four Mosin Nagant M-91/30 rifles EVERY morning.

g) I put out two to three home defense shotguns EVERY morning.

h) ATF form 4473 (the "yellow form") comes to us in case lots. The forms are shrink-wrapped 100 to a stack. Six stacks to a case. We have gone through three stacks since this past Friday. (This also counts forms that have to be destroyed due to mistakes, forms that are in a "delayed" status and forms that are in a "denied" status as well as forms that are not immediately processed for sundry other reasons).

i) We are totally sold out of AR lowers (in all manifestations), parts kits, and most other AR-related goodies.

j) The FBI maintains three call centers to process NICS checks. We have the 800 number on speed dial. The last two days I have had to keep pushing the "redial" button because of the "We're sorry, all circuits are busy at this time. Please call back later." message I hear when I try to call in for a background check. Average number of times I have to hit the redial button: fourteen. Conversely, once I actually do get through, the wait time to talk to a human, is seven to nine minutes. If the form I am calling in gets sent for "further review" it's another five-plus minutes before I get to talk to the next human.
Markadelphia suggested in a comment yesterday that "People are really sick of it and there may very well be waning interest in guns." Doesn't appear that way, does it?  Standard response #7.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Thomas Sowell - Voice of Reason

His latest piece is up at National Review Online, Gun-Control Ignorance.  An excerpt:
There is innocent ignorance and there is invincible, dogmatic, and self-righteous ignorance. Every tragic mass shooting seems to bring out examples of both among gun-control advocates.
Can I get an "AMEN!"?

Quote of the Day - Geekwitha.45 Edition

Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?

Barack Obama, 12/16/2012
There was a time when an American leader that suggested that freedom was the root cause of evil committed against innocent children would have booed off the stage, and possibly ridden out of town on a rail.

You know, there are very constructive things that could be done, that meaningfully address the issues and are consistent with a society that is both formidably armed and free, which is what I would expect of a true leader.

But we all know that's not where he's going with this. He's going to do something else, driven primarily by ideological agenda, because this crisis presents far too good an opportunity to waste.

Obama hears the blood lust of his increasingly grief unhinged base screaming for the heads of the NRA and their members, and senses his time has come, which for a man of hubris like him it is a time of great peril with respect to his decisions. Pride goeth before a fall, and pride is never more manifest than in a man who deems himself imbued with epic destiny having arrived at his moment in history.

Have no doubt: Had Lanza driven his mother's stolen car in bloody zig zags through the school yard, no one would be screaming for the head of the chairman of the AAA, no one would be accosting car owners at lunch or on their facebook walls demanding that they justify their car ownership in the face such tragedy.

$DEITY bless this wretched nation, for it stands with thunderous applause at the precipice of a monumental stupidity.
A comment from yesterday.

And now, Judge Alex Kozinski:
The majority falls prey to the delusion — popular in some circles - that ordinary people are too careless and stupid to own guns, and we would be far better off leaving all weapons in the hands of professionals on the government payroll. But the simple truth - born of experience - is that tyranny thrives best where government need not fear the wrath of an armed people.

--

All too many of the other great tragedies of history - Stalin's atrocities, the killing fields of Cambodia, the Holocaust, to name but a few - were perpetrated by armed troops against unarmed populations. Many could well have been avoided or mitigated, had the perpetrators known their intended victims were equipped with a rifle and twenty bullets apiece, as the Militia Act required here. If a few hundred Jewish fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto could hold off the Wehrmacht for almost a month with only a handful of weapons, six million Jews armed with rifles could not so easily have been herded into cattle cars.


My excellent colleagues have forgotten these bitter lessons of history. The prospect of tyranny may not grab the headlines the way vivid stories of gun crime routinely do. But few saw the Third Reich coming until it was too late. 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.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Face For Radio

Just a heads-up.  ExurbanKevin is scheduled to be on Kate Krueger's Talking Guns on Phoenix's KFNX 1100AM tomorrow at about 12:10 PM Arizona (Mountain Standard) Time.  You can listen live at 1100knfx.com. I plan to.

Newtown, Connecticut is not Dunblane, Scotland

But gun control forces desperately want it to be.

Back in November of 2004 after the spree killing of six hunters in a Wisconsin wood, I wrote Birchwood, Wisconsin is not Hungerford, England. It seems another comparison is equally (in)valid. Yes, 27 people and one creature are dead, eighteen of those dead people are small children - first-graders. Yes, it's horrible, senseless, inexplicable.

And no, the guns were not at fault.

Moreover, banning them wouldn't help.

This is where I normally cite charts, graphs, data tables, and numerous articles supporting my position. I'm not going to do that here. I've done it for the better part of ten years. If you're interested, check the archives.

Instead, I'm going to quote the words of John Green, father of 9 year-old Christina Taylor-Green, who was killed in January of 2010 by another spree shooter here in Tucson:

This shouldn't happen in this country, or anywhere else, but in a free society we're going to be subject to people like this. I prefer this to the alternative.
The gun control forces say all they want is a "dialog." Joe Huffman's been having site problems recently, but he said it well back in August:
We had the "conversation". Your side lied, cheated, and took unfair advantage at every opportunity. But still your side lost. Big time.

Your side lost on the safety argument and your side lost the legal argument (see the U.S. Supreme Court decisions D.C. v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago). You have no arguments left. The conversation was over years ago and all you are doing now is whining about the outcome. Go tell your problems to a therapist because the adults in this conversation aren't interested in your delusions of relevancy.
Tam put it even more bluntly:
Incidentally, this is one of my biggest gripes about wading into fact- and data-laden poo-flinging arguments with anti-gunners about crime rates and murders-per-100k and so forth. The correct answer is "Where the hell do you get off thinking you can tell me I can't own a gun? I don't care if every other gun owner on the planet went out and murdered somebody last night. I didn't. So piss off."
The tinfoil-hat crowd has been claiming that Obama (or his BATFE) will write an executive order or change the regulations making "assault weapons" and "large-capacity ammunition feeding devices" into Class III regulated items under the 1934 National Firearms Act, bypassing Congress and requiring licensing and registration. Others think that finally they'll get a new "Assault weapon" ban through Congress, or even more.

Let me just say again for the record:
I won't license.

I won't register.

I won't turn them in.
If you want to make me and several million other law-abiding, tax-paying citizens into felons, beware what you wish for. You may get it.

Friday, December 14, 2012

End of an Era

At 3:55 MST on December 14, 1972, the last human beings to visit the Earth's moon lifted off from that body in the ascent stage of the Lunar Module Challenger.  Left behind with the descent stage:
  • A used car (the 3rd one left on the lunar surface), this one with a broken fender
  • multiple scientific experiment packages
  • a U.S. flag
  • a commemorative plaque
  • bootprints and miles of tire tracks
They'd also brought explosives, and used them (for geological purposes).

From Wikipedia:
Before reentering the LM for the final time, Gene Cernan expressed his thoughts:
"I'm on the surface; and, as I take man's last step from the surface, back home for some time to come — but we believe not too long into the future — I'd like to just [say] what I believe history will record. That America's challenge of today has forged man's destiny of tomorrow. And, as we leave the Moon at Taurus-Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return: with peace and hope for all mankind. Godspeed the crew of Apollo 17."
Forty years later, we're no closer to going back than we were in 1972.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Mutually Exclusive

I saw a car today with an "I OBAMACARE" bumpersticker on it.  It took me a minute, however, to read the one below that:


(Click for full size)

My immediate reaction:
Like HELL you are!
So I dragged out the camera and snapped that shot just to show you.

When I got home and looked at the full-sized image, I noted that the lower bumpersticker is from ACLU.org.  Well, that explains it.  The ACLU is a supporter of the "living Constitution" idea, so for the woman in this Civic, obviously whatever she thinks is Constitutional is - by definition - Constitutional!

And people who think like that outvote those of us who don't.

And people who think like that are likely to think like this:



Remind you of anyone?  Want to know where that video originated?  The California Federation of Teachers union.  But teachers don't indoctrinate our youth, right? 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

And Then There Were None

Remember this map?


As of 2011, only one state outright denied its residents the ability to carry a firearm for self-protection. Eight other states remained MAY-issue (California among them), but Illinois remained the only state insistent that its citizens weren't responsible enough.

The Federal government has just reversed that.
Appeals court overturns Illinois concealed carry law in gun rights victory

SPRINGFIELD - In a huge win for gun-rights groups, a divided federal appeals court in Chicago Tuesday tossed the state's ban on carrying concealed weapons and gave Illinois' Legislature 180 days to craft a law legalizing concealed carry.

--

"We are disinclined to engage in another round of historical analysis to determine whether eighteenth-century America understood the Second Amendment to include a right to bear guns outside the home," Judge Richard Posner wrote in the court's majority opinion.

"The Supreme Court has decided that the amendment confers a right to bear arms for self-defense, which is as important outside the home as inside. The theoretical and empirical evidence (which overall is inconclusive) is consistent with concluding that a right to carry firearms in public may promote self-defense," he continued.

"Illinois had to provide us with more than merely a rational basis for believing that its uniquely sweeping ban is justified by an increase in public safety. It has failed to meet this burden," Posner wrote.

"The Supreme Court's interpretation of the Second Amendment therefore compels us to reverse the decisions in the two cases before us and remand them to their respective district courts for the entry of declarations of unconstitutionality and permanent injunctions," he continued.

"Nevertheless we order our mandate stayed for 180 days to allow the Illinois legislature to craft a new gun law that will impose reasonable limitations, consistent with the public safety and the Second Amendment as interpreted in this opinion, on the carrying of guns in public," Posner said.
Now we get to see what Illinois politicians consider "reasonable limitations."

Should be entertaining.

Global warming?  I think Hell is freezing solid.....

Monday, December 10, 2012

15 Questions for Atheists

I just saw this over at the Nerd's place, and instead of reading LabRat's responses, I thought "I'd better do the same thing and hit these questions fresh."  I recently received a quite complimentary email from a new reader who is unabashedly Christian, and seemed to assume I was as well.  I don't know what it says about me that I didn't dissuade that belief with an immediate response, but I didn't.  So, here we go:
1. Why are atheists so obsessed with religion?

If life were meaningless and ends at the grave, why even bother. If life is just a monopoly game that's going to be put up, why even try to take the property and money of others (in a metaphoric sense, of course)? It doesn't make much sense. Given atheism, nothing really matters since it's not going to last. So, again I ask you, why bother with religion and its negative effects?
Well, I don't. This question is directed at those I term anti-theists, or "Big-A" Atheists like Dawkins and Bill Maher. The only time that I ever concern myself with religion is when someone is trying to force theirs upon me.
2. Why are atheists so obsessed with monotheistic religions?

Why only the big three? If all religions are equally false, why only bother with Christianity, Judaism, and Islam? What about Hinduism or deism? Again, it doesn't make much sense. Perhaps there's a reason that atheists are so amazingly obsessed with Christianity?
Again, see the answer to Question 1. Personally, one of the reasons I'm an atheist is that I cannot grok, given the myriad of gods from which to choose, how anyone can be so convinced that the dominant god of their culture must be the "one true God." But that's just me.
3. How do atheists explain the beginning of the universe?

Often atheists have pointed to the Big Bang to justify their worldview, but the Big Bang actually proves theism. Here's a simple syllogism:

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause
2. The universe began to exist
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.
There is great evidence for the Big Bang. We can be led to it by first stating this fact: The universe is either eternal, or it is not. If it's not, than my argument is scientifically supported. The universe cannot be eternal because of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states that energy is running out. If the universe is eternal, it should've run out a long time ago. The Big Bang proves God because it proves the universe came into being from nothing, and nothing cannot create nothing, for it is nothing. Therefore, Something must have caused the Big Bang. So how do you explain away this evidence for the existence of God?
How do I explain the beginning of the universe? I don't. THAT it happened, I don't doubt. HOW it happened I don't know. Why cannot the religious be comfortable with not knowing? Let's look at that syllogism. OK, the universe was "created" by something, and that "something" was, ipso facto, "God?"

Where did God come from? And if the Creator of the Universe is God, why is He the God of Abraham? Isn't that quite the logical leap?

Here's an image by a somewhat more militant Atheist than I that expresses (poorly and unfortunately offensively, but generally accurately) my problem here:


(Click for full size)

So you accept the Big Bang, but all of it was just to create Earth? That doesn't strike you as just a bit hubristic?

4. How do atheists explain away objective moral values?

Objective moral values are ones that are independent of human thought. If God doesn't exist, they wouldn't exist either. There'd be no one in charge to make a universal standard of right and wrong. It'd simply be a matter or opinion. But moral relativism fails. For one, it says that moral claims are only a matter of opinion but it asserts that as a fact. Also, we know things such as rape, murder, and child abuse are wrong, and if everyone agreed that they were right, they'd still be wrong. We know things are objectively wrong because we feel guilt when we do what is wrong; If morality was just our opinion, we wouldn't feel guilty, for we would be doing what is right for us. So how do atheists justify the fact of objective morality?
"Objective moral values are ones that are independent of human thought." BZZZZT! Oh, I'm so sorry! That's a non sequitur. Morals are HUMAN VALUES. They CANNOT EXIST outside of human thought, unless they belong to non-human sapients. I've covered part of this discussion before. I don't have to "explain away objective moral values." I remain unconvinced of their existence. Those seemingly universal ones are the result of experience through the relatively short history of humanity, and even those aren't truly universal.

5. How do materialists justify immaterial realities?

Logic, math, morality, and other things such as free will, human dignity, and time exist. These things are all immaterial. We can't put the number 7 or the Law of Noncontradiction in a test tube. But if God doesn't exist, matter would be all there is, since there'd be nothing to be the foundation of immaterial things. Everything would come through by matter, and thus, be matter. How can atheists give an answer to this argument?
I don't grok the question. I do not grasp the (or the need for) the indivisibilty of the immaterial and the ecclesiastical. Logic, math, morality and other things such as free will and human dignity are human. Are you saying "Thou art God"?

Time? Time exists whether we do or not. This is a deeply odd question.

6. How do atheists explain the existence of the universe?

If atheism is true, there isn't a reason for anything. It's all an accident. There isn't any purpose. But if there weren't a purpose for anything, how do things exist? If God does not exist, the universe would have no meaning for its existence, and would, thus, not exist. So how can we living in a universe that both exists and has no reason for its existence?
This is a rewording of question #3. My answer remains the same: I don't try to. I accept the fact that it IS, and that it's AWESOME, and I hope some day to sail among its stars.

7. How do you explain away circumstantial evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus?

Here are just two facts that help lead up to the conclusion that Christ is risen: 1. The early Christians died for their belief that He rose from the dead. You don't die for what you know is a lie. No one does, and no one ever could. 2. Christianity started in Jerusalem. If the tomb weren't empty, the Jewish pharisees could've proved it and ended the Christian movement. But they didn't. How can an atheistic worldview explain this?
And atheists are obsessive about Christianity? We go from "Where'd the Universe come from" to "But what about the resurrection of Christ"? That's quite a leap.

No offense, but let me comment here: "The early Christians died for their belief that He rose from the dead. You don't die for what you know is a lie." How many devout Muslims have strapped on explosives and gone to their 72 Virgins in the sincere belief that "There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger"? Belief in something is no guarantee that belief is true. "If the tomb weren't empty, the Jewish pharisees could've proved it and ended the Christian movement. But they didn't. How can an atheistic worldview explain this?" I don't have to. I don't know what happened to the body. The Mormons said Jesus came to North America after the Resurrection. Are they wrong? Can you prove it? This seems to me another version of "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?".

8. If the gospels are just pieces of historical fiction, why are there embarrassing details in there?

Jesus being accused of being a demon. A prostitute wiping Jesus' feet, which was seen as a sexual approach. Peter being called "Satan" and denying Jesus three times. Jews being told to pay taxes to the Roman empire. One criteria of finding a historical truth is to see if the text is embarrassing to the writer. If it is, they probably didn't make it up. Could you clear this up for me?
Nope. Didn't realize that was a requirement. What about all of the scrolls that didn't make it into the final edition? Can you explain to me what was left out and why?

9. If we are just matter, and not souls, why would some atheists support life-sentences?

The matter in our body is totally changed out every seven years. If Cartesian dualism—a view I embrace—is false, and we are just matter, that means I am not the same person as I was seven years ago. And this is also true for a criminal.The justice system is completely futile if atheism is true. If matter is who we are, why don't we change as our matter changes?
It so happens that I agree with you on the topic of Cartesian dualism (and cannot prove it either), but that doesn't mean I'm automatically a Christian, or even religious. However, short of traumatic brain injury, we remain the people we are because of the way our brains are wired, not due to the specific wiring components. And, realistically, the "me" of today is not the "me" of fifteen years ago, but what I did fifteen years ago, I did, and not some other "me."

Personally, I think life without parole is a particularly cruel sentence, but given the fact that it takes decades sometimes to get someone through the appeals process, it can be less expensive to just house and feed them till they die a natural death.  And hey, the system has been wrong before.  Death is irreversible.  You can get out of prison if you're not dead.

10. Why do so many atheists deny historical facts?

The common view today that most atheists hold is that Jesus didn't exist. But Jesus did exist. How do I know this? Historically reliable sources such as Josephus, Tacitus, Lucian, the Jewish Talmud, and Pliny the Younger wrote about Jesus. So why do atheists hold to the Christ-myth hypothesis in spite of what we know through historical facts?
Don't know. Why do so many people deny that Mohammed was God's messenger? Doesn't fit their worldview. Personally, I find it highly doubtful that Jesus didn't exist. I just question his divinity.

11. Why do most atheists, such as Richard Dawkins and Daniel Denette, equivocate evolution with atheism?

Evolution does not prove God exists, nor does it prove God doesn't exist. Darwin did not kill God. Most Christians accept evolution. Why, then, do so many atheists point to evolution as if it disproves Christianity?
I don't believe "equivocate" was the word you wanted to use there. "Equate" was. Freudian slip?

Why do so many Christians insist that evolution is a tool of Satan? That's always flipped me out.

Evolution says precisely nothing about the origin of life, it just explains the mechanism of speciation. If you're good with it, so am I.

12. Why don't atheists actually question everything?

They're always advocating skepticism, but fail to question their own views, including that of skepticism. If we should doubt everything, why not doubt atheism?
Those weak sisters are called "agnostics."

Just kidding.

Doubting atheism does not equate to faith. I've done this before, but here are two statements:
I believe there is no God.
I do not believe there is a God.
See the difference? One is an active belief. The other is not. One is an act of faith, the other is skepticism.

13. Where do rights come from?

Most atheists are supporters of the gay rights movement, and are furious when someone denies a homosexual of his or her rights just because of their sexual orientation. So it's pretty clear that atheists believe inalienable rights exist. But where do they come from? How can they be explained naturally?
Oh, Jesus. (No pun intended.) See the left sidebar over there under "the 'Rights' Discussion." I've written probably a hundred thousand words on the topic, and I'm not reproducing them here.
14. How can there be no objective evil, but religion causes it?

A top argument in the atheist arsenal is that religion causes evil. This doesn't prove a thing, for Pythagoras caused evil but no one doubts that a2 + b2 = c2. But when atheists argue against religion by pointing out its sins, they assume that objective morality exists. If morality were a matter of opinion, there'd be no point in asserting it as a fact. So why do atheists use religious evil to try to disprove theism, when it actually does the opposite?
Because a lot of atheists are assholes? And a lot of ostensibly Christian people are hypocrites? Can you, for instance explain "Thou Shall Not Kill" and "Kill them all, God will know his own"?

A lot of the problem that big-"A" Atheists have with the religious is the amount of slaughter done in the name of some deity, but as one of my readers has pointed out, Atheists have done some major slaughter of their own, once they got their hands on the levers of power. They haven't had as long a history at it, but they've slugged at way over their weight in the short time they have had.

15. Why are there no good reasons to believe atheism is true?

Whenever I ask an atheist to disprove God, they can't do it. When something is true, there are good reasons to think it is true. But there are no good reasons to believe God does not exist. So why do non-believers count me as irrational when I embrace theism?
Because belief without evidence is, by definition irrational. OK, you've convinced yourself that you've come to Christianity rationally. You are not alone. But faith is only faith if you can believe no matter what. Faith says "nothing can shake my belief." This requires irrationality. Bear in mind, this is not a judgmental word, merely descriptive.

I am an atheist because I cannot bring myself to believe, and I won't fake it.

Quote of the Day - Andrew Klavan Edition

But in order to tell you that, first I need to tell you this.

From a comment to my post How We "Lost the Culture War" by our very own Markadelphia:
This is why I am a Democrat and not a Republican. Democrats aren't perfect and they do fail at times but at least they stand for something. They wanted to lower poverty in the elderly so they passed Social Security. Poverty in the elderly was above 50 percent when SS passed and now it is under 10 percent. The Democrats wanted a national Civil Rights Act because of abuses to minorities in the South. They passed it and look where we are today as a result. In short, they produce.
Got that?

Good.

Now, Andrew Klavan from How Ben Afflek's Argo Screws with History:
The imagination is the only nation where Democrats get it right. We need to conquer that country.

On the Lighter Side...

Via email:
The coach had put together the perfect team for the Chicago Bears. The only thing that was missing was a good quarterback. He had scouted all the colleges and even the Canadian and European Leagues, but he couldn't find a ringer who could ensure a Super Bowl win.

Then one night while watching CNN he saw a war-zone scene in Afghanistan. In one corner of the background, he spotted a young Afghan soldier with a truly incredible arm. He threw a hand-grenade straight into a 15th story window 100 yards away!

KABOOM!

He threw another hand-grenade 75 yards, arcing it right into a chimney!

KA-BLOOEY!

Then he threw another into the driver's window of a passing car going 90 mph!

BULLS-EYE!

"I've got to get this guy!" Coach said to himself. "He has the perfect arm!"

So, he hires an investigator to find out who this phenomenal arm belongs to, brings the man to the States and teaches him the great game of football. And the Bears go on to win the Super Bowl.

The young Afghan is hailed as the great hero of football, and when the coach asks him what he wants, all the young man wants is to call his mother.

"Mom," he says into the phone, "I just won the Super Bowl!"

"I don't want to talk to you, the old woman says."You are not my son!"

"I don't think you understand, Mother," the young man pleads. "I've won the greatest sporting event in the world. I'm here among thousands of my adoring fans."

"No! Let me tell you!" his mother retorts. "At this very moment, there are gunshots all around us. The neighborhood is a pile of rubble. Your two brothers were beaten within an inch of their lives last week, and I have to keep your sister in the house so she doesn't get raped!" The old lady pauses, and then tearfully says,

"I will never forgive you for making us move to Chicago!!!!
Hey, it could have been Detroit.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Quote of the Day - Geekwitha.45 Edition

I'm getting old.  I thought I'd done this already, but I screwed up the Autopost setting.  From a comment to How We Lost the Culture War:
Liberty always implodes on its own internal contradiction: Freedom means you have to let the other guy choose his own values...and where liberty gets wrapped around the axle is that it supports the other guy's liberty killing choices as vigorously as any other set of values. We are loathe to actually collect the minimum ante necessary to play the liberty game, and the thought of defenestrating those who don't pay up strikes us as abhorent.

Consequently, we get played like fiddles.
Can I get an "AMEN!"?

The Tonka™ is Gone

I took it back today. I have to say, the dealership made the return completely painless. On Saturday I put a stereo in the truck. I told them when I reported that I was bringing it back that they could keep the stereo, and I'd write that cost off to "learning experience." When I arrived I was asked if I had the receipt for the stereo. I did. A minute later, I received a check for the full purchase price of the truck, and another check for the full purchase (and install) price of the stereo.

I also received a $50 gift card to Target to compensate me for the cost of the tank of fuel I put in it.

I'm still in the market for a truck. This dealership is still high on my list for that truck. They certainly could not have done anything more to earn my business.

Bowling Pin Match - Sunday, Dec. 9

The December Bowling Pin match is Sunday the 9th.  Usual place, the Tucson Rifle Club action range. 

Time: 8:00 AM sign-up, first rounds downrange about 8:20. We should be done around 11.  Weather should be beautiful.

Handguns only: .22 rimfire, centerfire revolver (.38 Special minimum), semi-autos (.380 minimum).

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

What's a bowling pin match? This:


Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

14-Hour Workday

Six-and-a-half of it in my truck - 400 miles again.  Pulled out of the driveway at 0410, got to the job site at 0730, left the job site at 1300, got to the Phoenix office at 1630, left the office at 1720, got to the hotel at 1750.  Have a class to teach tomorrow, so I need to be in the office at O'dark-hundred to actually put together a lesson plan and presentation.  I was supposed to do that today, but got pulled off to go to (jobsite) to look at a problem with a piece of equipment.  Problem still not solved.

Sleepy.  No more blog for you.

No More Tonka™ Toy

Dammit.

I'm taking the Earthfucker back.

An emailed comment warned "Watch out for that 6.0 diesel. Ask me how I know."

Took it to a diesel specialist for a checkout and a baseline maintenance. They had it overnight, and when they fired it up this morning to pull it into a bay to begin work, it threw codes for FOUR bad injectors and a bad glow plug.

Sorry, but I'm not dropping $1,600 in repairs on a freshly purchased vehicle. The dealer has acknowledged they'll take it back and refund my money.

Dammit, dammit, dammit. Guess I'll keep looking for a good older truck with a 7.3L.

Monday, December 03, 2012

What a Difference Five Years Makes

Five years ago, Kansas City Star sportswriter Jason Whitlock wrote an op-ed on the topic of violent crime among black males after Washington Redskin Sean Taylor was killed by an armed burglar.  His death was due to a gunshot wound to his femoral artery.

At the time, Whitlock wrote:
Someone who loved Sean Taylor is crying right now. The life they knew has been destroyed, an 18-month-old baby lost her father, and, if you're a black man living in America, you've been reminded once again that your life is in constant jeopardy of violent death.

The Black KKK claimed another victim, a high-profile professional football player with a checkered past this time.

No, we don't know for certain the circumstances surrounding Taylor's death. I could very well be proven wrong for engaging in this sort of aggressive speculation. But it's no different than if you saw a fat man fall to the ground clutching his chest. You'd assume a heart attack, and you'd know, no matter the cause, the man needed to lose weight.

Well, when shots are fired and a black man hits the pavement, there's every statistical reason to believe another black man pulled the trigger. That's not some negative, unfair stereotype. It's a reality we've been living with, tolerating and rationalizing for far too long.
Well, after Kansas City Chief's player Jovan Belcher's murder/suicide, Whitlock is still peddling "aggresive speculation" and blaming a "KKK," but his target has shifted a bit:
Sports gets so much attention, and people tune out the real world, that I try to take advantage of the opportunity to talk about the real world when sports lends itself to that and try to open people’s eyes. You know, I did not go as far as I’d like to go because my thoughts on the NRA and America’s gun culture – I believe the NRA is the new KKK. And that the arming of so many black youths, uh, and loading up our community with drugs, and then just having an open shooting gallery, is the work of people who obviously don’t have our best interests [at heart].

I think it’s obvious if you’ve traveled abroad, and traveled to countries where they have legitimate gun laws, that we don’t have to have what we have in America, where people somehow think a gun enhances their liberty, and that people somehow think a gun makes them safer. It just doesn’t. A gun turns some kids listening to music into a murder scene. And uh, you know, if you don’t have a gun, you drive home. You know, kids listening to some loud music, you don’t like it, you go home and complain to your wife. But when you have a gun, you open fire, potentially, and take the life of a child.
So, it's no longer the black KKK, but the NRA KKK that's at fault for, well, black men killing black men (and women.)  It's no longer the "black KKK" (aka: the gang culture) that turns "kids listening to music into a murder scene," it's the NRA's culture!  You see, black men don't die of murder at six times the rate of any other group in America because their culture tells them that getting "dissed" is a capital offense, oh no!  It's because they're unable to overcome the evil brain-melting rays that guns produce!

Must be a genetic thing, no?  So we need to disarm Billy Bob and Cletus so that a Jovan won't kill his girlfriend and then himself.  But what about Alexandria?

Sounds like rationalization to me. But what do I know. I'm just some cracker....

(h/t: SayUncle)

They Don't Control Their Monster

One thing that constantly bemuses the gun-rights supporter is why gun-control supporters fear good people possessing the means to defend themselves.

I submit, it's largely because they don't trust themselves.  They do not know and definitely do not control their inner monsters.  And they don't think other people can do it, either.

Unless those people have been sprinkled with the magic fairy dust of government authority.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

How We "Lost the Culture War"

It's been a pretty steady refrain, from Bill Whittle to CNN that the reelection of Barack Obama proves that the Right has "lost the culture war". There has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth over how this happened, but it's been apparent to me that it started in our public school system, and here's an interesting article to that point.

From City Journal, Spring of 2009 edition, Pedagogy of the Oppressor:
Like the more famous Teach for America, the New York Teaching Fellows program provides an alternate route to state certification for about 1,700 new teachers annually. When I met with a group of the fellows taking a required class at a school of education last summer, we began by discussing education reform, but the conversation soon took a turn, with many recounting one horror story after another from their rocky first year: chaotic classrooms, indifferent administrators, veteran teachers who rarely offered a helping hand. You might expect the required readings for these struggling rookies to contain good practical tips on classroom management, say, or sensible advice on teaching reading to disadvantaged students. Instead, the one book that the fellows had to read in full was Pedagogy of the Oppressed, by the Brazilian educator Paulo Freire.

For anyone familiar with American schools of education, the choice wasn't surprising. Since the publication of the English edition in 1970, Pedagogy of the Oppressed has achieved near-iconic status in America's teacher-training programs. In 2003, David Steiner and Susan Rozen published a study examining the curricula of 16 schools of education—14 of them among the top-ranked institutions in the country, according to U.S. News and World Report—and found that Pedagogy of the Oppressed was one of the most frequently assigned texts in their philosophy of education courses. These course assignments are undoubtedly part of the reason that, according to the publisher, almost 1 million copies have sold, a remarkable number for a book in the education field.

The odd thing is that Freire's magnum opus isn't, in the end, about education—certainly not the education of children. Pedagogy of the Oppressed mentions none of the issues that troubled education reformers throughout the twentieth century: testing, standards, curriculum, the role of parents, how to organize schools, what subjects should be taught in various grades, how best to train teachers, the most effective way of teaching disadvantaged students. This ed-school bestseller is, instead, a utopian political tract calling for the overthrow of capitalist hegemony and the creation of classless societies. Teachers who adopt its pernicious ideas risk harming their students—and ironically, their most disadvantaged students will suffer the most.
Read the whole article. If you have children in public school, ask their teachers if they've read Pedagogy of the Oppressed, and if so, what they think of it. Remember, this book was mentioned prominently in the "Raza Studies" fight here in the Tucson Unified School District.

Now, here's an interesting coincidence:
As a case in point, consider the career of Robert Peterson. Peterson started out in the 1980s as a young elementary school teacher in inner-city Milwaukee. He has described how he plumbed Pedagogy of the Oppressed, looking for some way to apply the great radical educator’s lessons to his own fourth- and fifth-grade bilingual classrooms. Peterson came to realize that he had to break away from the "banking method" of education, in which "the teacher and the curricular texts have the 'right answers' and which the students are expected to regurgitate periodically." Instead, he applied the Freirian approach, which "relies on the experience of the student. . . . It means challenging the students to reflect on the social nature of knowledge and the curriculum." Peterson would have you believe that his fourth- and fifth-graders became critical theorists, interrogating the "nature of knowledge" like junior scholars of the Frankfurt School.

What actually happened was that Peterson used the Freirian rationale to become his students' "self-appointed political conscience."
AKA, their political officer.
After one unit on U.S. intervention in Latin America, Peterson decided to take the children to a rally protesting U.S. aid to the Contras opposing the Marxist Sandinistas in Nicaragua. The children stayed after school to make placards:
LET THEM RUN THEIR LAND!
HELP CENTRAL AMERICA DON'T KILL THEM
GIVE THE NICARAGUANS THEIR FREEDOM
Peterson was particularly proud of a fourth-grader who described the rally in the class magazine. "On a rainy Tuesday in April some of the students from our class went to protest against the contras," the student wrote. "The people in Central America are poor and bombed on their heads. When we went protesting it was raining and it seemed like the contras were bombing us."

These days, Peterson is the editor of Rethinking Schools, the nation's leading publication for social-justice educators. He is also the editor of a book called Rethinking Mathematics: Teaching Social Justice by the Numbers, which provides math lessons for indoctrinating young children in the evils of racist, imperialist America.
Rethinking Schools, if you remember, was the source of the piece that inspired my education überpost The George Orwell Daycare Center.

Continuing:
Partly thanks to Peterson's efforts, the social-justice movement in math, as in other academic subjects, has fully arrived (see "The Ed Schools' Latest—and Worst—Humbug," Summer 2006). It has a foothold in just about every major ed school in the country and enjoys the support of some of the biggest names in math education, including several recent presidents of the 25,000-member American Education Research Association, the umbrella organization of the education professoriate. Its dozens of pseudo-scholarly books, journals, and conferences extol the supposed benefits to disadvantaged kids of the kind of teaching that Peterson once inflicted on his Milwaukee fourth-graders.
And now you know why schools can't teach algebra, as detailed in The George Orwell Daycare Center.

Again, read the whole piece. Do you understand now how we "lost the culture"?  And why we aren't going to get it back?