Saturday, September 30, 2006

Football; Not happy, not sad

Army 14 - Rice 48
Meh, I'm not at all surprised. I'll be happy if Army breaks even for the season and ecstatic if they finish above .500.
Auburn 24 - South Carolina 17
Damnit Auburn, get it together. This is why AU hasn't gotten any national championship lately; they have great teams, but they either A) play too many teams that aren't nationally ranked and/or B) they don't score enough. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad they won. After all, I've hated Spurrier for as long as I can remember, so beating any team he's the coach of is a good thing, but they have got to start scoring some points.
Georgia 14 - Mississippi 9
pending Good, but I'm tired and going to bed now.

Exact Karma

Feel good story for gunnies, or in my perfect world, anyone:
At age 8, Terry Jackson gave up his prized .22-caliber Winchester short-barrel rifle to get his grandmother a washer. Recently, the 57-year-old got the gun back through a series of chance encounters and conversations.
How cool is that? A good dead that didn't go unpunished for once. The rifle, which he bought with his own money, was the only thing of value he had and his grandmother couldn't afford even a manual clothes washer, so he did what he thought was right by giving up his prized possession.

Fast-forward 49 years: it turns out that someone in the town still owns the rifle, heard the story, and gave the .22 back to Jackson, saying, "That was a really nice thing he did for his grandma."

Gawd, family- and small-town values of the best (non-political) kind. . . and a gun? This sounds like the kind of story that the writers of The Andy Griffith show, the publishers of Guns and Ammo, and the Hallmark channel would produce if they ever got together. I love it.

Saturday Quick Hits

I'm sure you know about Mark Foley's resignation, but here's an example of his hypocrisy. From his (soon to be not his) official House website, regarding sex offender legislation:
“For too long our nation has tracked library books better than it has sex offenders. That day is coming to an end,” said Foley. “Senator Hatch and Leader Frist have been resolute in keeping this legislation on track. We are closing loopholes that sex offenders and pedophiles have used to prey on children.”
Idiot. If you really want to, you can read some of the instant message conversation between Foley and the 16 year old here (pdf file, sexually explicit) I'm not about to play partisan politics with this, though I'm sure some who are further left than I probably will, claiming that this is yet another example of "Republican hypocrisy." It is hypocrisy, but both parties are filled with hypocrites.

Moving on, doc Russia has a good, and in my view, correct take on Howard Dean's (somewhat bizzare) pledge to take back Texas. . . and to do it before tackling other states:
Unfortunately for the DNC, I find it highly improbable that they will suddenly turn about, divorce themselves from the nanny-statists, militant atheists, and proffessional beureaucrats that penetrate the warp and woof of their party. If you want to play politics in Texas, you can be a tough old grandma, a Jewish cowboy, or common republican, as long as you at least intend to leave a persons liberties and properties alone.
Read the whole thing.

Here's some random 1911 gun pr0n. . . extra kinky, since the Springer's stripped.

Finally, never take whiskey from the Irish, they might explode. Really.

Friday, September 29, 2006

On the Road

I'm driving down to GenieJunkie's (for the first time in God knows how long) for the weekend. I'm still planning on posting over the weekend and today, just not this morning.

This will be the first time his dog and my dog will meet. Should be interesting, to say the least.

Update: Well, the meeting of the dogs actually went better than I'd hoped. There were a couple of tense moments when Genie's dog didn't appreciate the over-curiosity of my dog, but both were well-supervised, behavior (of both) was immediately corrected, and all was well.
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Thursday, September 28, 2006


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More on Jeff Cooper

Guns and Ammo posted their Jeff Cooper Tribute, a collection of some of his quotes. The amazing thing is that the list is only a fraction of Cooper's total publicized output; love him or hate him, the man was prolific. Here are two more of my favorites regarding violence and aggression, and exemplify part of why I attempt to train my mind and hands in effective defensive shooting techniques:
One bleeding-heart type asked me in a recent interview if I did not agree that 'violence begets violence.' I told him that it is my earnest endeavor to see that it does. I would like very much to ensure--and in some cases I have--that any man who offers violence to his fellow citizen begets a whole lot more in return than he can enjoy.
Fight back! Whenever you are offered violence, fight back! The aggressor does not fear the law, so he must be taught to fear you. Whatever the risk, and at whatever the cost, fight back!
Damn straight.
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Unintentionally Funny

OK, maybe my coffee hasn't kicked in yet, but I think this is the funniest unintentional line I've read this week:
Soldiers are afraid of third parties stirring things up after the coup, so we had to make sure they were harmless.
Can't imagine why, after taking over the country, they'd worry about someone, uh, trying to take over the country. Also:
The army appears determined that the carnival atmosphere following the country's first coup in 15 years does not detract from the serious business of power. Yesterday, it banned go-go dancers from flaunting themselves near tanks and troops.
Why can't we have a war there?

Be nice if Bush did this

All we get from Bush and others in the Administration is "Islam is a Religion of Peace" and "it's just the extremists who are to blame," etc. Looks like some members of the Australian government are calling a spade a spade:
The Howard Government's multicultural spokesman, Andrew Robb, yesterday told an audience of 100 imams who address Australia's mosques that these were tough times requiring great personal resolve. Mr Robb also called on them to shun a victim mentality that branded any criticism as discrimination.

"We live in a world of terrorism where evil acts are being regularly perpetrated in the name of your faith," Mr Robb said at the Sydney conference.

"And because it is your faith that is being invoked as justification for these evil acts, it is your problem.

"You can't wish it away, or ignore it, just because it has been caused by others.

"Instead, speak up and condemn terrorism, defend your role in the way of life that we all share here in Australia."

Mr Robb said unless Muslims took responsibility for their destiny and tackled the causes of terrorism, Australia would become divided. [emphasis mine]
Substitute "U.S." or even "the entire world" for "Australia" in that last sentence and that's exactly what I want to hear our leaders say, verbatim. Yes there are many "moderate" Muslims, Muslims who believe that violence is not the way, that violent conquest, retribution, and overreaction is antithetical to modern civilization, and those Muslims are all over the world, and some do speak out. Unfortunately, too few of those Muslims, the ones who dislike seeing their brethren burning effigies, taking misguided and violent retribution for unintended insults, rioting, etc., over ancient feuds, cultural misunderstandings, or just words, rarely, if ever, speak out against, much less actively work against, the more violent elements in their society and faith.

It'd be good to see them do so. . . and for Bush & Co. to call them on not doing so.

ETA: I also like what Angela Merkel said yesterday:
I think self-censorship does not help us against people who want to practise violence in the name of Islam. It makes no sense to retreat.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Gone Fishin'

On a deadline, so very light to no posting today. Hopefully I'll get some things posted, but I don't know yet.
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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Two steps forward

Good news in our state-level war on drugs: The number of crystal meth labs being discovered in Georgia is down, which is a very good thing.
In 2003, 800 home meth-labs were dismantled in the state of Georgia. Law enforcement officials predict they may not even dismantle a hundred clandestine labs this year.
I know for a fact that my county Drug Task Force has pushed virtually all, if not every one, of the meth producers out of the county. I'm thankful for that, as I've been a first-hand witness to both the drug's effects on its users and what happens when a meth lab explodes. It seems that last year's law forcing all drugs containing pseudoephedrine behind the pharmacy counter and limiting the per-purchase quantity of those drugs has helped to a large degree as well.

There's a catch though: crystal methamphetamine use is not down, nor is the supply on the street. Why?
On August 30th, David Nahmias, the United States Attorney with the Northern District of Georgia said, “Atlanta is an epicenter for [crystal meth]. Not only just the use, that is continuing to grow in North Georgia, but more the distribution throughout the east coast of the United States.”

Nahmias made that statement after Federal, State and Local law enforcement agents seized a record amount of the drug. But it was not home-made. It was shipped from Mexico.

The importing of methamphetamine has grown as substantially as the home labs have decreased. It is changing the focus of the fight for people like Phil Price [Special Agent in Charge, GBI].

“The imported meth is so readily available that it’s not cost effective to make your own,” Price said.
In other words, were it not for our sieve-like southern border, the supply, and thus the use, of one of the worst and most widely available drugs to ever hit Georgia would be severely curtailed. So thanks FedGov for nullifying the efforts of my state lawmakers and law enforcement personnel, not to mention your own anti-drug agencies. Yeah, I saw the money Congress recently set aside for a bit of a wall on the southern border, but what kind of success could my state have had in our fight against meth had you secured our national border 5 years ago, or 10, or 20, or even last year, when the raw material supply of our in-state meth producers was heavily restricted? So Georgia take two steps forward, and one giant step back.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Thank You Col. Cooper

Michael Bane reports that LTC Jeff Cooper has passed away. If you don't know, Cooper can easily be considered the founder of all our modern handgun techniques, not to mention his work with combat rifle techniques. In his books he, often eloquently, described and codified the how, what, when, who, and why of shooting, melding both the art and the science of the many shooting genres. Most modern training courses, if not all of them, take something in varying degrees from LTC Cooper's writings and Gunsite, one of the first and still among the best of the "modern" firearms training programs.

In the gun world, this man is a legend.

Here's a link to The Jeff Cooper Bibliography, which should give interested shooters some idea of what to read by the Colonel. Here's one of my favorites of his sayings:
The rifle is a weapon. Let there be no mistake about that. It is a tool of power, and thus dependent completely upon the moral stature of its user. It is equally useful in securing meat for the table, destroying group enemies on the battlefield, and resisting tyranny. In fact, it is the only means of resisting tyranny, since a citizenry armed with rifles simply cannot be tyrannized.

The rifle itself has no moral stature, since it has no will of its own. Naturally, it may be used by evil men for evil purposes, but there are more good men than evil, and while the latter cannot be persuaded to the path of righteousness by propaganda, they can certainly be corrected by good men with rifles.
Godspeed, Semper Fi, and thank you, LTC Cooper.
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Face reality guys

...'cause ya'll lost, and the battle flag won't be put back on the Georgia flag.
Supporters of the 1956 state flag with its dominant Confederate cross plan a final all-out charge to oust a Georgia governor who outflanked their no-retreat-no-surrender efforts to keep the controversial banner flying.
Seriously, it's over. The Southern Cross shouldn't have been on the state flag in the first place, and I say that as an ardent Southerner with colonial ancestors, descendents of whom fought in the War of Northern Aggression Civil War on the side of the Confederacy. After all, Georgia's current flag has more in common with earlier state flags than did the '56 Battle Flag-inspired design. If you're interested, here's the Wiki of the Georgia flag fracas, which in my mind is resolved and a non-issue. It's too bad some people don't feel that way; they should move on to more important, and pressing, concerns for the state, like immigration, taxes, dealing with Yankees moving down here and then complaining that it's "not like home," etc. OK, I'm kidding about the Yankees thing. . . kinda.

By the way, the battle flag, or "Southern Cross," the most commonly thought-of flag when referring to Confederate flags, is NOT the "Stars and Bars," a common mistake. In fact, the national flag of the Confederacy (the first one, anyway), which was/is properly called "The Stars and Bars," is this one. . . which looks a heck of a lot like the current Georgia State Flag, and is yet another reason why the Battle Flag supporters should just move on.

ETA: Also, don't even get me started on the Bonnie Blue Flag, which actually predates the Civil War by about 50 years and inspired its fair share of state's flags. The CSA was all about flags.


Brits to brief Muslims before terror raids
POLICE have agreed to consult a panel of Muslim leaders before mounting counter-terrorist raids or arrests. Members of the panel will offer their assessment of whether information police have on a suspect is too flimsy and will also consider the consequences on community relations of a raid.
I love it when "cultural sensitivities" get in the way of effectively prosecuting a war or defending against a threat.
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Weekend Update

8 things I either learned or had reaffirmed this weekend:

1) A dog (not on its leash, not being supervised) should thank me for being knowledgeable enough to know that when he attacked Conscientious Objector (on a leash, which was being held be me) while we were walking on the other side of the damn street, it was not his fault, but rather the fault of his owners. I know Mr. Husky just thought we were trespassing on "his" territory, and that he thought he was protecting the other side of a public street. He should thank me for A) not shooting his snarling, biting ass, or B) not doing more to him than putting him into a submission pose until he calmed down. See, my dog's middle name is Conscientious Objector because he's, well, a pansy. He's a great alarm system, and I know he'd protect me if he really had to, but he knows I'm the pack leader and aggression of any sort is not tolerated in our two animal pack. Unfortunately, Mr. Husky's owner(s) apparently don't feel the same way. Train your pets people; don't let them train you.

2) It's almost worth it to sell a kidney to make a beautifully blued Colt Lightweight Commander, Series 80, chambered in .38 Super, affordable.

3) When the assembly holding a lawnmower blade onto the lawnmower breaks, a lawnmower blade, after bouncing off the ground and flying approximately 15 feet, has enough velocity to bury itself approximately 7 inches into the trunk of a Silver Maple.

4) I need a new lawnmower blade.

5) I don't need a new leg, so I don't mind that I need a new lawnmower blade.

6) Visiting the elderly in the hospital is good for the soul, especially when the elderly person used to be a nun/schoolteacher.

7) Seeing planes and helicopters circling and lingering very, very low over your neighborhood several times in the same day, is not only annoying, but disconcerting.

8) Tinfoil hats are easy to make; tinfoil cowboy hats take much more time and effort.
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Saturday, September 23, 2006

Very good football day

Army 27 - Baylor 20
Hey, Army's 2-2, which for them is pretty good. Definite improvement over the last few years.
Auburn 38 - Buffalo 7
Yeah, not surprising, but a W's a W.
Georgia 14 - Colorado 13
I'll take it, but damn if I wasn't worried about Georgia for most of that game. Let's, uh, score some points in quarters other than the first, 'k guys? Thanks.

Friday, September 22, 2006

On the Prospective Gun Owner

OK, it's soapbox time. I apologize if this comes across as patronizing or obvious in its statements to some, or even all of you. I feel, however, that it's an important subject that I need to talk about. I came across this article, titled An Arming of One, last night and a few points stood out, some welcome and some that made me angry. First, I was happy to see a citizen taking steps to take control of her own security after realizing that the authorities are unable to protect every person at every moment:
The people charged with my public safety [. . .] keep telling me, most recently in a meeting with reporters, to calm down. Overall, they say, crime is down. Homicides and shootings are up, but they're up everywhere. And more cops on the streets isn't the answer.

And then there's the fact that the overwhelming majority of shooters have criminal records, and the thugs who rape, rob and murder are just passing time, awaiting trial for some previous crime.

So if the police can't protect me, and the criminal justice system can't protect me, shouldn't I protect myself?
Yes, my dear, you should. After all, self-preservation is one of our most deeply-ingrained instincts and there is nothing wrong with equipping yourself with the tools to do so. I was additionally buoyed to see that the author is attempting to go about her self-introduction to firearms in a responsible manner: attempting to find a gun that "fits" her and that she'll be willing to practice with, making the commitment necessary to master the safe operation of a handgun, analyzing the reasons for firearms ownership, etc. This is the kind of thinking person I want included in the ranks of firearms owners, and I hope other "gun people" do as well.

Which brings me to the part of the article that brought me down from my cordite cloud-nine: her interaction with a gun-store salesperson. Yeah, all the long-time firearms enthusiasts have "gun-store jackass" stories; I have a few myself. Such stories may be humorous to relate to each other at the range, over IM chats, or on message boards, but we should not ignore their lessons: just like our beloved firearms, knowledge can be a weapon used for good or ill. Moreover, how that knowledge is imparted to the novice gun owner reflects on all experienced gun owners, especially the outspoken ones who promote our sport and our industry in the mainstream media, on blogs, in break rooms, at public functions, etc. While organizations such as the NRA, the NSSF, and many others, along with many individuals, promote responsible and knowledgeable gun ownership, these organizations are often not the first point of contact for a first-time civilian shooter. Instead, the first time shooter will most likely seek information, guidance, and experience from either a family member/friend or the salesperson at a gun store, and sometimes both.

In the case of the woman in question, the first point of contact were gun salesmen, one of whom is illustrated by this scene:
After I emptied the Ruger, I took my target to the counter and turned in my ear protection and goggles. I told the guy behind the counter I did much better with the .22.

Disappointment clouded his face.

The bullet from a .22, he said, could easily travel through a wall, killing my next door neighbor. Oh no. Not sweet, little Ms. Mason. Or the bullet from a .22 can enter and exit the body, simply annoying my would-be attacker. Great.

"Then he takes it from you, and starts shooting you with it," he said, aiming his finger at the ground, saying the word "Pow!" over and over.

I asked him what he carried, and he pulled a black Beretta from his pocket. It fit in the palm of his hand.

He said he uses only hollow-point bullets, which once inside, saw through veins, bones and organs.

He told the story of a recent trip to a bad neighborhood. He carried a gun on his ankle, another on his waist and the Beretta in his pocket.

The building's elevator was broken and he had no qualms about taking the dimly lit stairs. "I was the baddest guy in there," he says with a proud grin. "I'd light that whole place up."
"I'd light that whole place up," said with a broad smile, is not the best way to influence a person who might be on a very shaky fence regarding buying and carrying a gun. Nor is somewhat incorrectly, and graphically, describing why you carry hollow point loads. Or telling our shaky-fence sitter that they might kill their neighbor and subsequently be killed themselves with their own gun. Or, worst of all, showing the slightest disappointment toward an apprehensive shooter showing even a hint of optimism following a range session.

All of us, but especially gun store owners and salespeople, must remember that novices seeking knowledge from us regarding defensive firearms ownership most often do so with no frame of reference other than,
"There exists a potential threat to myself and/or my family. I must take action to protect against that threat, therefore I should investigate firearms ownership."
They more than likely have no knowledge whatsoever of revolver vs. pistol, caliber differences, local laws, or safe gun-handling practices, much less knowledge of more involved subjects, such as ballistics or selection of proper 12ga home defense loads. We must remember that these are people making a rational, and entirely correct decision to arm themselves in the face of a threat, not because they want to. They don't care minutiae of full-length guide rods vs. conventional types or the religious war between the 1911 aficionados and the Glock zealots. They want to protect themselves, and if asked for guidance, it is our duty to give such in a respectful, patient, and most of all, rational manner.

The novice self-defensive gun owner certainly don't want to see glee expressed when describing what happens to flesh and bone when a bullet strikes it or how you feel like Charles Bronson when you're "strapped." Nor do they want sensationalist descriptions of gunfights or the reasons to carry a weapon. They already know why they want to arm themselves; that's why they're asking the what and the how of the matter. And the last thing they want to see is disappointment following what they thought was a successful trip to the range.

So when you're asked questions about guns, whether you own the biggest store in your state or you're just the "gun-nut brother-in-law," please don't go off the deep end with your answers. If a new shooter says they did better with a .22 than they did with your preferred defensive firearm, affirm their good experience, then calmly and rationally suggest that after they become comfortable and proficient, they move on to a more suitable defensive caliber. If they ask what kind of load you keep chambered in your carry pistol, tell them and explain the ballistics and the advantages/disadvantages of a particular load. Explain to them as simply as possible, without sensationalism, the concepts, facts, and contributing factors behind wound channels, muzzle velocity, and muzzle energy. Impress upon them the rationale behind the "4 Rules" and why safety should be paramount regarding firearms. Explain to them that having a mind prepared to react to violence with violence is not the same thing as being bloodthirsty or relishing such a confrontation. Please don't preach (like I feel I'm doing here) or act in a condescending manner towards them, and for God's sake, don't do anything to make them think that carrying a gun is the same thing as wanting to actually shoot someone.

Also, and I swear I'm getting to the end of this self-indulgent diatribe, save the politics for later. Again, these people just want to protect themselves, and have made the decision to do so. They don't care about the politics, at least not yet, they just want to protect themselves. Will they eventually become active, or at least interested, in the "politics of the gun?" Maybe, but that is not the issue; responsible, safe, and effective self-protection and preservation is.

Responsible gun ownership is more than just safe gunhandling; it is also responsible promotion and teaching of our sport, hobby, and lifestyle to those completely ignorant of it. If you're the first point of contact for a prospective gun owner who is approaching the subject from a strictly self-defense point of view, do you really want their first impression to be,
Listening to the ease with which gun-shop guys seem prepared to take someone's life, and knowing the ease with which criminals are prepared to take mine, I'm not sure if owning a gun makes me part of the solution or part of the problem.

But until the state Legislature and the city stand up against gun violence, I may not have much of a choice.
I certainly don't. I want that person to be confident in their decision to take some measure of control over their life and its safety, to become interested in the aforementioned minutiae, to eventually experience the same joy as I when going to the range, and maybe even become involved in the politics and further promotion of gun ownership. I truly hope I'm preaching to the converted, that anyone reading this thinks I'm a self-indulgent windbag, and that you all already know the proper manner to "handle" an apprehensive novice. Unfortunately, I've seen too many gun store commandos come across as bloodthirsty, too many 'net forum ninjas expound crackpot ideas, and too many prospective gun owners walk away from gun shows with confused, nervous expressions on their faces and nothing in their hands to truly believe that.

We as experienced gun owners have a responsibility to help the less experienced among us; to do less is a disservice to not only those novices but to the industry and the community as a whole.

Thanks for your time; now I'll get the hell off my giant soapbox. . . and go straight to the range.
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Maybe this means I won't have to see any more of those stupid "Smiling Bob" commercials.
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Heart in the right place

Misguided, funny, and somewhat true:
At the first parent teacher conference, the P.T.A. handed out the survey, telling parents where they could be used as volunteers. It was the last option on the page that has some up in arms. A line that read, "No, I do not want to get involved. I want my children to be thieves, drug addicts and prostitutes."
Hehe. . . awesome. Well, at least the guy had the right intentions; that of getting parents involved in their kids' lives. Personally, I think parents should get involved in the actual lives of the kids, not the PTA, but whatever. Hey, if there were any offended parents, they should look at it this way: at least the guy didn't possibly infect their kids with blood-borne diseases.
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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Blind Hate

Would you like to see an example of an argument, rhetoric, tone, and language changing when the writer realizes the person to whom they're writing is not Canadian but is instead American?

Check out this post over at Girl on the Right to do so. Bush/America/Conservative/etc. Derangement Syndrome indeed.

Update: Please see the comments for RG's correction; she is in fact not American but Canadian. Apparently her schizo emailer rubbed off on me and I jumped to conclusions as well. Still, if anything, the point about Derangement Syndrome is only made stronger by his mistake, as his derangement is even more, well, deranged. Again, sorry RG!

I'm doomed

Oh, this is just f'ing great. I've been ardently working on getting my health under control for months; specifically, I've been trying to lose weight. Not that I was/am obese or have any current health problems (physical health, anyway) but being overweight, having high cholesterol, and having high blood pressure are embedded deep in my DNA. So when I woke up one day and realized that I weighed significantly more than I should, I made some serious lifestyle changes. I've lost a significant amount of weight in a healthy, responsible, and safe manner and according to my physical a month ago, all my numbers are within the normal range for my age group, although my weight is still a bit above where it should be. There are self-improvement goals still to be met, but I've done well so far.

And then I read this headline:
McDonald's May Offer Breakfast Menu All Day Long.
Oh, the temptation! The McGriddle was the bane of my midsection before I embarked on my weight-loss quest, and is still a huge temptation for me, but I was able to hide behind the impenetrable wall of "Thou Shalt NOT Order Breakfast Food After a Certain Time". . . and soon that wall will be torn asunder, allowing a flood of cheesy, eggy, maple syrupy goodness to flow forth in all its calorie-laden glory. Damn you McDonald's! From hell's heart I stab at thee!

Oh, God, I just realized a possibility, nay! a probability, might soon exist: being able to purchase a McGriddle, a vanilla milkshake, McDonald's Fries (suck it Wendy's), and coffee at the same time. I'm doomed.
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Blackout? Part Deux

According to Blogger, there will be a "scheduled outage" at 4PM Pacific today for 45 minutes (hopefully only 45), so if you try to visit us around then and are unable to, that's why. If you're reading this after trying and failing to view GH about 4PM PDT, then that's why.

By the way, I found this blog/post and think the conversation described really is the way the Google ownership of Blogger came about. Funny, sad, and probably true.

One other random thought: Does anyone else find it bizarre that Blogger's built-in spellchecker doesn't recognize the words "Blog, "Google," or even "Blogger?" It's not that big of a deal, but what is that all about?
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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Evil Little Squirt

From the "Zero Tolerance" file comes another story of school administrators' overreaction, in this case, regarding a bright orange plastic squirt gun and a first-grader suspended for 10 days:
The incident will stay on Tawann's permanent school record. But Womack said her son does not understand why he's not in school.
Can't imagine why not, since he's 6! While I agree with the school officials that the parents of students should know what their child may or may not be taking to school, suspending a six-year old for over a week is going too far. As one school district official said:
We regret that this happened. My feeling is that by not giving any exceptions, this young man will not bring a toy gun to school again.
So there are no other ways with which to teach the boy a lesson? Depriving him of whatever education he gets at 6 is the best way to teach him? He shouldn't have had the squirt gun in school, as it is a distraction, and the squirt gun should be taken away, the parent(s) should be informed, and the kid should be made to sit in the corner or something.

Give administrators and teachers the ability to use their best judgment regarding cases like this. With a little common sense, the child would learn that squirt guns are not allowed in school but would not be deprived of 10 days of the 3 "R's."
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Good idea

Kim du Toit posted a good idea regarding would-be terrorists and the pain they've inflicted on law-abiding air-travelers:
Having just been subjected to the tender mercies of the TSA at a couple of airports, allow me to make a modest suggestion.

If we catch a terrorist before he manages to board a plane, his punishment should be to be strapped upright to an X-shaped frame which forces his legs apart. Then, every time an airline passenger is subjected to a "close" search (ie. near-strip search), an electronic pulse is sent from the airport to the prison, and thence to a machine which delivers a precise blow to the terrorist's genitals.
Yeah, I could get behind that.
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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

At least ONE of 'em gets it

I was actually working on a post that is, or rather, was, remarkably similar in its points to this article, on Muslim extremism, the possible destruction of Western Civilization, and the fact that too many ignore the obvious truths of both, and here I am beaten to the punch by someone way to the left of me. Will wonders never cease. There's really too much to quote that I want to quote here, but I'll give some points that jump out at me:
On questions of national security, I am now as wary of my fellow liberals as I am of the religious demagogues on the Christian right.

This may seem like frank acquiescence to the charge that "liberals are soft on terrorism." It is, and they are.
[. . . ]
Given the degree to which religious ideas are still sheltered from criticism in every society, it is actually possible for a person to have the economic and intellectual resources to build a nuclear bomb and to believe that he will get 72 virgins in paradise. And yet, despite abundant evidence to the contrary, liberals continue to imagine that Muslim terrorism springs from economic despair, lack of education and American militarism.
[. . . ]
Given the mendacity and shocking incompetence of the Bush administration especially its mishandling of the war in Iraq liberals can find much to lament in the conservative approach to fighting the war on terror. Unfortunately, liberals hate the current administration with such fury that they regularly fail to acknowledge just how dangerous and depraved our enemies in the Muslim world are.
[. . . ]
Unless liberals realize that there are tens of millions of people in the Muslim world who are far scarier than Dick Cheney, they will be unable to protect civilization from its genuine enemies.
[. . . ]
While liberals should be the ones pointing the way beyond this Iron Age madness, they are rendering themselves increasingly irrelevant. Being generally reasonable and tolerant of diversity, liberals should be especially sensitive to the dangers of religious literalism. But they aren't.
And unless they pull their heads from their asses the sand so aptly mentioned in the title of the editorial, liberals never will be. By focusing so much on the supposed internal threats and problems of Western Civilization, liberals constantly and consistently ignore the threat posed by outside forces, often ignoring them with the same determination and unyielding devotion to dogma they derisively attribute to the religious. I'll use Ace to make my final point though, as he sums up liberal defeatism perfectly:
There's a great amount of odious liberal condescension at work here. No matter how many times Jihadists say "We are killing you because Allah commands it," liberals keep saying back, "Oh, pish-posh. We know what's really driving you -- a need for more day-care and infrastructure development."

Don't liberals believe in actually listening to the diverse narratives of oppressed peoples? Or is that just a cover for making up their own one-size-fits-all narrative and hegemonically imposing it on the world's repressed?
[. . . ]
[L]iberals are convinced we cannot win this war. Or, more accurately: They are convinced we cannot win this war in a way they find morally acceptable. And for many, fighting a war is itself morally unacceptable.

Ergo, the steady drumbeat from the left that we deserved it, we actually blew up the WTC ourselves, etc. They have decided the only liberally-correct response to the War on Terror is to lose it.
Far too few will ever understand that; if they ever do, their realiztion will come far too late to be of any use. Both posts are well worth your time for a full read.


According to Blogger, there will be a "scheduled outage" at 4PM Pacific today for 15 minutes (hopefully only 15), so if you try to visit us around then and are unable to, that's why. If you're reading this after trying and failing to view GH about 4PM PDT, then that's why.

At least they told us this time; maybe they read my last site-admin post and realized telling their members about what's going on is a good thing.
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Mandatory Pope Post

On Sunday, Benedict said he was "deeply sorry" over any hurt caused by his comments made in a speech last week, in which he quoted a medieval text characterizing some of the Prophet Muhammad's teachings as "evil and inhuman" and calling Islam a religion spread by the sword. [emphasis mine]
And effect:
Al-Qaida in Iraq and its allies said Muslims would be victorious and addressed the pope as "the worshipper of the cross," saying "you and the West are doomed as you can see from the defeat in Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya and elsewhere. ... We will break up the cross, spill the liquor and impose the 'jizya' tax, then the only thing acceptable is a conversion (to Islam) or (being killed by) the sword." [emphasis mine]
So the "insult" is that the Pope quoted a text saying Islam is spread by the sword, and some Muslims say that after they conquer the West, they will spread Islam by the sword? And others protest in Britain, assassinate nuns in Somalia, and burn Christian churches in Gaza, not to mention the protests elsewhere in the world? The West may not think we're in a Crusade or Holy War, but through the actions of extremists, there is such a conflict being forced upon us, whether we want it or not.
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Monday, September 18, 2006

Pure Genius

I have got to become a consultant. I don't even care what kind of consultant so long as I can come up with off-the-wall ideas about how to "improve" a product and get paid a wheelbarrow full of money to do so. In this case, the product is the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority and the consultant is a guy named Joey Reiman, who I'm sure is a nice guy and all, but c'mon. His basic idea to improve the woefully crappy MARTA?
MARTA's mission must no longer be limited to simply getting people from point A to point B, Reiman told the MARTA board of directors last week.
To be fair, MARTA does get people from point A to point B; they just don't do it very well. And you really don't want to know why that dude sleeping in the corner smells like that. Or wonder what exactly is growing on, and under, the seat next to you; whatever it is, it's evolving and possibly becoming sentient. So yeah, technically MARTA gets you wherever you're going, but you won't like the trip. Maybe they should work on cleaning things up a bit and improving reliability first. Some of Reiman's specific ideas:
•Leather couches in a furniture-store sponsored train car.
•Pictures of reindeer plastered on trains during the Christmas season [...] putting pictures of pumpkins in train car windows during Halloween, and turning train car walls into gallery space for local artists.
•Short films and even serials could be broadcast on televisions already installed on buses and trains to entertain riders and encourage frequent use.Train cars could be sponsored by companies.
•The walls of a Borders-sponsored car, like the illustration below, could be lined with books, though it's not clear how theft would be prevented. [snicker]
And my favorite, if only for its tastelessness:
• Free rides on MLK Jr. Day -- "Free at last," get it?
Ughh. At least the MARTA officials' reaction to the pitch was sufficiently sober:
"I like his ideas and his vision, and I really agree that we need to take MARTA to the next level, but some of the things he's recommending are not very realistic," said Upshaw-Monteith, executive director of Leadership Atlanta. "When you look at our clientele, I just don't think our ridership would be willing to pay $3 for a cup of coffee."
Understatement of the month right there; MARTA users only use MARTA because they have too. At least MARTA realizes this and seems to be trying to improve basic point-to-point service instead of making the trains and buses the bestest cultural experience ever. Oh well, they did get a deal in hiring Reiman; they had to pay only $150,000 for his services, instead of his normal fee of $750,000.

I have got to become a consultant. I totally would have done all that for a measly $75,000.

Small words please

Yeah, I don't really get all the physics (way outside my field), although I understand the bare-bones basic idea behind the article, the project, and the problems. Interesting stuff, although not what I usually read over my breakfast cereal. I just wanted to say that this is one of the greatest real-life supervillain-like headlines I've ever seen:

World's Largest Supercollider Could Destroy the Universe.
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Sunday, September 17, 2006

First they came for our, well, everything

COOPER CITY · The city has given itself the right to seize its residents' personal property for public use in an emergency.
Noooo, that's not the sort of thing that has massive potential to be abused. I mean, it'd only happen in an emergency, right? Residents should be assured though:
"There's always the possibility of abuse of power," Commissioner Elliot Kleiman said, "but it's not going to happen here."
[. . . ]
Kleiman said Cooper City residents should be happy because their city has taken preventative steps to ensure their well-being.
Yeah, best intentions and all that. Forgive me if I'm leery of a government, any government, extending its power and control over its citizens, especially when that extension includes the ability to legally seize property under the subjective condition of "emergency." Oh, and it's not just seizure of property that's now legal:
Under the city law, once the city declares a state of emergency, officials would be able to regulate fuel and alcohol sales, close any place of public assemblage and prohibit public possession or display of firearms. In addition, they would be able "to confiscate merchandise, equipment, vehicles or property needed to alleviate any emergency condition."
I'd be speechless if I was speaking this instead of typing it. So the Cooper City government, after declaring an emergency, a term that can be defined by the Cooper City government, can now do anything from giving away fuel to forbidding its sale, doing the same for alcohol. It can block public access to any place large enough to hold a public assembly, without defining what exactly constitutes a "public assemblage;" is it 3 dudes talking on the sidewalk? 2 or more families meeting in a church? Dogs and cats living together? What?

And what exactly is "public possession or display of firearms" anyway? If a concealed-carry permited, background-checked citizen walks out of his/her front door with a legally-purchased, never-been-used-in-a-crime, holstered handgun discretely secured under his/her jacket, could he/she conceivably be arrested or otherwise detained?

What if the city government declares an emergency and decides that your home is worthy of confiscation; would your home now be considered a public area? If you happen to have a beat-up shotgun or something locked in a gun case, you better hope not; under the set of circumstances possible with this new law, that'd be verboten.

Yeah, I know those are hypothetical, over-the-top situations, and I know that the government cannot reasonably have resources standing by at all times, ready for any emergency situation. C'mon though, this law just seems a little over the top; neighboring cities down there have their own emergency powers laws, but, according to the article anyway, and to some family of mine who live around FL, those cities' laws are not as intrusive or as wide-reaching as Cooper City's.

Here's the most heinous and disgusting part though, in my eyes:
The plan was advertised in local newspapers for several days before it became law. Commissioner Bart Roper said only one resident complained during a public hearing, when the item was discussed and approved by a 4-0 vote.
That wet thud you just heard was my laptop impacting my forehead with sufficient force to draw blood.

Yep, the bill was publicly advertised multiple times, in multiple locations, and, except for 1 guy, the citizens said and did nothing. Instead of taking a look at what their local government was planning and taking steps to prevent such a law, the residents are left to complain after the fact. The citizens apparently didn't want this sort of law on the books, but they did nothing to prevent it. Look people, it's up to you to take a proactive stand on how your government operates, no matter if that government is local, state, federal, Evil Galactic Empire, Rebel Alliance, whatever. If they're doing something you don't like, SAY SOMETHING! Threaten their positions during the next election, rally like-minded citizens to your position, but for God's sake, do something! Even if you fight a losing battle, at least you fought.*

The government will try to take everything they can if they can get away with it. It's the nature of power; no matter how little or how large, power always wants more of itself. It is up to us to make sure the government cannot do what we don't want it to do. If we do nothing, they'll come for, well, everything.


*Unless your government really is the Evil Galactic Empire; Palpatine would just have you killed, and that would suck. You probably wouldn't even rate a Vader Force-powered choke hold, you plebeian slime.

Football; Fairly happy

Army 24 - Texas A&M 28:
Heartbreaker for Army, but damn if they didn't fight harder than I've ever seen them fight before. I don't know what was up with the play calling and clock management at the end, but the Cadets left everything on the field, and to me that comes as close as you can to winning without winning. Great game.
Auburn 7 - LSU 3 :
This was a big game on AU's schedule, so a W is a W, no matter how we take it. I gotta admit, though, that was a bad call. But hey, first time LSU's allowed a TD in something like 16 quarters of football, so that's pretty cool for Auburn. Good game if you're like me and love defense; Auburn certainly rocked at that today. I don't think their position will change on the polls, but I wish they'd score more points, especially against tough programs, to help them in the BCS.
Georgia 34 - UAB 0:
Shocking, I know, but at least UAB made some money.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Under the hood

If you like this, then you are truly a geek. The Linux Kernel Map is a zoom-able visual representation of the Linux Kernal, and it's pretty daggum neat.
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Sat. Gunblogging: $1000 Part 1, .22's

"Saturday Gunblogging" posts are posts with which I indulge myself by talking about (usually) the equipment of the shooting sports. These are often topics extensively covered elsewhere in the gun world, but whatever; I like talking about 'em.

The dollars in the Garm Gun Fund have to go a long way, as they are not too many of them. So I often contemplate what kind of and how much gear (guns, ammo, accessories, etc.) I could purchase with dollar amount 'X.' As the title suggests, with this series I'm going to use $1000.00 as my budget and, using approximate costs, see how far that one grand would take me into a particular category of gun-gear. Most of the time, the posts in this series will be on the assumption that the buyer does not already own any of the equipment in that category.

For this first "$1000 Gun Collection" post, I've obviously chosen the .22. Why? Well, in my view, it's the caliber that is the foundation of many people's shooting lives. It certainly is mine. I started with the .22, under the patient, strict, and proud tutelage of my father, I shoot .22 more than any other caliber, and I think .22LR in particular is the single most useful caliber out there. Why do I think that? Well, the .22LR is first of all cheap and plentiful, thus ensuring that cheap bastards poor people like myself can afford to burn up 500 rounds on a Saturday afternoon. Secondly, it's a great training tool; teaching a new shooter the basic skills of shooting on a .22 rifle or pistol builds fundamentals and good shooting habits cheaply and easily; we don't want Little Johnny developing a flinch from that sharp-kicking .308, do we? .22LR is also, out to ranges within its performance envelope, a quite accurate and effective target/hunting round, with the proper ammunition. Yeah, those fancy AR-15 based varmint rifles are great for prairie dogs, but what if you just need to take care of some gophers in the back yard? The most important factor that ensures the modest .22's foundation status is the fact that it's fun. Shooting a .45 ACP 1911 all day is my idea of heaven, but that doesn't mean my hand won't be sore by the end of that day. The .22, on the other hand. . . well, you can shoot one of those as long as you want without worrying about your hands or shoulder complaining that night.

OK, that's enough "reasons why;" let's move on to the equipment. If someone owns no .22 firearms, where should they start?


1) A pistol, Ruger 22/45 Mark III, $300.00*
First of all, I always prefer quality over quantity. Yeah I could go find a .22 pistol dirt cheap, but it would most likely be a piece of junk. I may be on a budget, but that doesn't mean I'm going to compromise quality. Still though, one can pick up a decent .22 for relatively (when compared to centerfire firearms) good prices. There are a ton of good .22 handguns out there from virtually all the different makes, but I'm partial to the Browning Buckmark and especially the Ruger Mark III series. In fact, I've written about the Ruger before, here and here. They're both simple, reliable, rugged (especially in the case of the Ruger), and even in the lower price-range models, are very, very accurate handguns. Both are equally suited to the range and to the field.

2) A rifle, Henry Octagon .22 Lever-Action, $300.00*
Now I know this may be a weird choice to some people; "what about the Ruger 10/22, you heathen!" I can hear you saying. Well, I like the 10/22 well enough, but the Henry's only a bit more expensive, and it's well, better than the Ruger, or at least the base model Ruger 10/22's. Yeah, you can spend some serious dough and get a competition-winning 10/22, but that would be way outside the budget of this list. All the same rules regarding quality mentioned above apply to the rifle, but why not get something beautiful as well? I think the blued finish on the Henry is better than the Ruger and other .22's, you can shoot different kinds of .22 through it, its stock and its overall lines are gorgous, and its lever action is tons more reliable than just about any semi-auto rifle (again, in basic stock form). Besides, with some practice, one can shoot that lever action almost as fast as a semi. One other point: it's tube-fed, so no magazines are needed, which is a pretty big factor in light of my $1000 budget. Don't think tube-fed equates to less capacity though: it'll still hold 16 rounds of .22LR goodness. Oh, and that octagon barrel is just so damn cool looking.

The best part about both the pistol and the rifle I've chosen is the fact that although both are relatively inexpensive, both can be used for just about any subcatagory of shooting (hunting, target, training, etc.). The guns are just one half of the equation though:

3) Rimfire Rifle Scope, Leupold VX-I 2-7x28mm, $220.00*
Ever tried shooting .22 rifle at a target the size of a fist at 50+ yards with iron sights? Yeah, you'll need a scope, especially if you plan on doing any varmint hunting; they may be vermin, but they deserve just as clean a kill as that trophy buck. Besides, scopes give some versatility to your setup. Now I know you'll be tempted to buy a cheap, sub-$100 scope. Don't. Spend the money on good glass; you'll appreciate it down the road. I'm partial to the Leupold brand, myself, as I've never looked through a bad one. The 2x-7x magnification gives you good range options without going overboard.

4) Accessories, $115.00*
Hey, what are you going to clean those bad boys with anyway? This list assumes you not having squat, so you better buy a cleaning kit. Figure about $20.00 for a decent, albeit basic, kit. Oh, and don't forget about magazines; you'll want extra mags for that pistol (or if you ignore me and buy a semi-automatic rifle, you traitorous jerk, for that as well). Figure about $30.00 for two of those, more if you need some for a rifle. And with what are you going to attach that scope, hot glue and firm wishing? Tack on $25.00 for good scope rings. By the way, how are you going to secure, transport, and store those firearms? You're not going to hide them unsecured somewhere, hoping that little curious hands don't get ahold of them, thus ensuring yourself a place on the bad side of gun-safety statistics, are you? I hope not; safety before all else, after all. Plus, you need something in which to carry those guns around without scratching them into ugliness. So figure another $40.00 for an inexpensive, but functional, hard case and a padlock, or whatever, which leaves us with:

5) Ammunition, $65.00
$65 buys a TON of .22 ammo, which is great; because it's cheap, you'll burn through a ton of it, which will necessitate buying more, which means you'll burn through THAT, because, hey, it was cheap, which means. . . eh, you get the idea. Seriously though, you have some choices when it comes to .22LR ammo: High velocity, standard velocity, match, etc., and there are plenty of companies, bullet weights, etc. to choose from. I recommend you split the money, buying $40.00 worth of decent quality standard velocity, like 7 of these CCI Standard 100-rd. boxes. Then take the remaining $25.00 and buy some performance ammo, like 5 50-rd. boxes of CCI Stingers, which is my favorite .22 LR brand/model. That'll give you 700 rounds to use for plinking/casual target shooting and another 250 rounds for more serious target shooting and hunting. That may seem like a lot of ammo, but, as an example, the last time I took a .22 out, my dad and I put all of a 500 round brick of ammo down the pipe; it flowed like water. Thank God it's cheap, eh? So 950 rds. is a good amount of .22 to keep on hand; that way you can just look around some Saturday afternoon, realize you've finished all your chores and there's no decent football on T.V., decide you need head over to the indoor range and smell the cordite goodness, all without incurring the wrath of your significant other for spending ungodly amounts of money on ammo.


So that's how far you can get with $1000 in the world of .22's. Not bad, eh? A quality pistol, a beautiful rifle, a sweet scope, some basic accessories, and almost 1000 rounds of ammo to get you started. Good thing I replaced that 500 round brick I mentioned, 'cause all this talk about .22's reminds me that I've got a date with a pretty little thing with "Ruger" emblazoned on the grips.

$10.00 GLOCK

Well, kinda, anyway. I'm going to mention this idea to my local gundealers; free publicity, a good cause, police helping brother officers, and some lucky gun owners = good stuff. For gun-guys like myself, THIS is a feel-good story.

Up (for me) in Gainsville, GA, a gun/outdoors shop is holding an interesting raffle: win one of four NIB GLOCK 27's by buying a $10.00 ticket. The cause? Raising money to help two Gainesville Policemen who are battling cancer. That's pretty cool. But guess what? Shuler's Great Outdoors, the shop holding the raffle, is not the one who actually thought up and organized the raffle; rather, members of the police force are.

Yep, fellow officers who wanted to help their afflicted comrades came up with this idea, which in my view is a damn good one. According to the article, at first,
it was meant primarily to be an incentive to law enforcement to make donations, but judging by the already brisk sales at Shuler's, everybody wants in on the action.
Damn right they do! I wish I still lived near Gainesville, or that I had time this weekend to drive up there; if I did or could, I'd buy some tickets in a heartbeat. Not only is this helping out a couple of underpaid public servants (I know they're underpaid; I really did live near there for a few years), but it's a chance to get a GLOCK for peanuts.

Oh, and the article doesn't say this, but I'm certain that the winners of the pistols would have to go through the standard background checks before taking possession. After all, the store isn't really "giving" them away; they're actually selling them for a minimum of $10.00 apiece.

Maybe I can make some time somehow. . .
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Friday, September 15, 2006

Human Rights, U.N. Style

Koppel had an interesting hypothetical exercise a couple of days ago over at The Volokh Conspiracy:
Advanced Topics in Human Rights Law. Exam, Spring 2010. Question 4: One day, a woman goes to a gun store in Florida. She provides picture identification to the store owner, who then, pursuant to the National Instant Check System, uses his telephone to contact law enforcement, and ensure that the woman has no criminal record. The woman then purchases an expensive double-barreled shotgun, manufactured in the United Kingdom. She plans to use the gun for all lawful purposes, but primarily for sporting clays. In accordance with Florida law, she did not need to obtain a government license to possess the gun.

Two years later, a man breaks into her home at night. The woman reasonably (and correctly) believes that the man intends to rape and torture her. She also, correctly, believes that there is absolutely no possibility that the man will kill her. She shoots the man and kills him.

Summarize the human rights violations.
Guess what the U.N. thinks. Don't think it could happen? Well, I'm not preparing the firebombing campaign just yet, but it's something we should be keeping an eye on.

Not my fault (this time)

C'mon Blogger, I know you're free and all, and I really like you and all, but if you're going to completely crash and burn, rendering every single Blogspot blog unavailable (HTTP 500 errors) for hours at a time, well, then what good are you? I mean, I understand that you're rolling out an updated system and all, and that's great, especially the stuff you say you're doing on the backend, but are you just not going to check on the Blogger 1.0 servers while you're working on Beta? None of the Beta Blogger blogs went MIA; are you just leaving the rest of us out in the cold while you play with your shiny new toy? Not cool guy.

And hey, what's up with letting the unwashed masses that your users know what's going on when the entire system dies? I mean, you say on your Blogger Status (which also died more than a couple of times over the last few hours; very reassuring seeing crap like this at 1107EST when I try to find out what the deal is) page that at 0652 EST,
Blogspot was down for about 30 minutes. It has been restored now, but some blog pages are still returning an error page. We are working on resolving the problem.
And then at 0725 EST time you say that the problem has been fixed. Oh really? Then how come the earliest time I can find at the Blogger Help Group referencing the problem is marked at 0243 EST, making your initial claim of 30 min. downtime untrue? Then why, at 1058EST, hours after your claim that the problem was fixed, was I able to take this screen shot:
You say that the problem is fixed, but as of 1125EST, when I actually wrote this and had to extricate myself from the clutches of Garm's Big Bad PC of Love, there are STILL 500 errors all over the Blogspot world, including our humble little blog over here.

Why can't you just let us know what's going on, and apologize for not feeding the hamster in the wheel that apparently powers your servers? Listen Blogger, I've NEVER complained about your service before, in any medium; in fact, I've defended you many times in the past when things have gotten screwy. After all, you're providing an easy to use, customizable, free communication tool to the world, and I can respect that. I understand that problems happen; I mean, Google's struggling in the marketplace and all. OK, that's not fair since I don't know how much ad money the big G is sending your way, but the point still holds: I don't mind TOO much when little things happen. I don't mind when you break things in the middle of the night. But when things break and they're not fixed for hours, even after you say they're fixed, well, then I'm going to get really upset with you.

What happened to you Blogger? You used to be cool, man. Now you're making Baby Jesus cry.
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A few birds, one stone?

Hrmmmm. . . Interesting: pay Afghan farmers to grow crops used in ethanol production:
Why not send a little cash toward Afghanistan to allow them to develop an ethanol industry? Farmers in Afghanistan are growing opium because it pays the most. This is one instance where throwing money at the problem will solve it. Pay the Afghan farmers more for a different crop. We're already paying our US farmers to grow crops for ethanol production, why not pay the Afghan farmers as well?
This is definitely intriguing, as such a program might take care of a few things that interest me:
1)Heroin is some evil stuff and anything to cut its production is a good thing,
2) It would take away one the Taliban/Al Qaida cash cows,
3) I'm all about getting away from oil dependence, and
4) If done right, it would be legal for all involved.
Will this happen and if so, would it work? I doubt it will happen, as it first of all both makes too much sense and would be controlled by politicians; therefore, it would be doomed from inception to failure. Secondly, how much money are the Afghan farmers actually making off of opium? Not the distributors, but the actual poppy growers out in the fields? According to Michael Yon (one of my favorite reporters), the poppy farmers are getting poorer at the moment, as they are creating a glut on the opium market with their ever-larger crops. Additionally, how much would it cost to build whatever infrastructure is neccesary for such an endeavor? Still, would it be economically feasible to pay what would likely be well-above-market prices for ethanol crops in order to make such a scheme viable for the opium growers? If it can stabilize the Afghan government, which is needed to both curtail the opium trade and to eradicate the Taliban/Al Qaida, then yes, it is probably worth it. There are more factors than a straight-up goods-for-currency exchange at work here. The currently fragmented Afghan government isn't effective, nor have NATO/U.S. forces been able to combat the opium trade. There is certainly a need for something new and different, and an ethanol-for-cash scheme just might work.

Again though, politicians would be in charge, so it'll never happen.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


Guess this guy wasn't paying attention to some age-old wisdom:
A shooting victim is in critical condition this morning after being shot in a supermarket parking lot.

Witnesses told KRQE News 13 the fight broke out Monday night between a man with a samurai sword and another man who had a gun.
I'm not going to cheer the shooter for, er, shooting though, which is my usual action for self-defense shootings. The article implies that the gun-guy fled the scene, which is not kosher. Maybe he panicked after pulling the trigger, maybe he initiated the conflict, who knows at this point. In this case it's probably just two idiots who got in a fight. I will side with the old saying though:
Never. Bring. A. Knife. To. A. Gunfight.
It's just not smart and it means one of those idiots was more idiot than the other.
Yeah, yeah, I know how fast a man with a knife (or sword in this case) can move 25 feet (faster than you can clear leather, for those of you not in the know) but still. . . a guy with a gun is probably going to win when a guy with a sword attacks him.

Do people not remember the lessons of Raiders of the Lost Ark??

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Go Wikipedia!

Wikipedia defies China's censors. Good for them:
The founder of Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia written by its users, has defied the Chinese government by refusing to bow to censorship of politically sensitive entries.

Jimmy Wales, one of the 100 most influential people in the world according to Time magazine, challenged other internet companies, including Google, to justify their claim that they could do more good than harm by co-operating with Beijing.
[. . . ]
Wales said censorship was ' antithetical to the philosophy of Wikipedia. We occupy a position in the culture that I wish Google would take up, which is that we stand for the freedom for information, and for us to compromise I think would send very much the wrong signal: that there's no one left on the planet who's willing to say "You know what? We're not going to give up."'
I gotta say, that's a pretty cool thing to do and say. I know Wikipedia has plenty of detractors out there, but I like it; as long as you take the political topics with a massive grain of salt, check the citations of important facts, and basically understand how Wikipedia works, it's really one of the easiest, and often most accurate, information-getting tools on the web.

Of course, companies like Google and Yahoo stand to make money in Red China, whereas Wikipedia is non-profit, as far as I know, so I'm sure that's a factor. Still though, it's good that at least one of the major web tools out there is taking a stand.
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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

More to the story

Remember the "scandalous" Scwarzenegger recording that came to light last week? In it The Governator, talking about apparently attractive Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia, says,
They are all very hot. They have the, you know, part of the black blood in them and part of the Latino blood in them that together makes it.
Yeah, I didn't care either. Not that big of a deal, right? God knows pols have said and done far more scandolous things over the years. I mean, Garcia says she's not offended; whether that's true, who knows, but that's what she says. So it's a non-story, right? Dead in the water, who cares, move on to more important things. Not so fast, apparently:
The campaign of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Democratic rival acknowledged Tuesday that it downloaded - and leaked to the media.
[. . . ]
Cathy Calfo, campaign manager for Democrat Phil Angelides, said the campaign had done nothing wrong because the file was available publicly on the governor's Web site.
OK, so the story is a tad more interesting, but still pretty low on the scale of election-year mudflinging. Wouldn't even register a blip on the ol' radar screen without this little tidbit:
Schwarzenegger's legal affairs secretary, Andrea Lynn Hoch, said Monday that the sound files were stored "in a password-protected area of the governor's office network computer system."

Hoch said she forwarded the Internet Protocol address used to download the file to the California Highway Patrol, which is investigating how the files became public.
Wait, what? Now that's interesting. Although I don't doubt someone accidentally putting the file, or a copy, in a publicly-accessible area, it would definitely be news if it came to light that a political campaign was caught breaking into the computer system of a rival, especially if that system were owned by the State. Of course, it is possible that all this is a political smokescreen on the part of the Schwarzenegger campaign. Either way, the story has certainly taken a turn for the interesting.
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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

"Big Oil," eh?

It seems World Controlling Satan Incarnate the big oil companies are the biggest and most controlling entities after all: they're owned by national governments.
Believe it or not, "Big Oil" is actually "Big Socialism." The Economist recently looked at the largest oil companies in the world, and found that the thirteen largest oil companies in the world are all state-owned, where all profits go to national governments. These thirteen companies control 90 percent of the world's oil. [emphasis mine]
Go figure. Next time someone makes complaints of "Big Oil" somehow destroying America or manipulating world markets for their own nefarious ends, you might want to mention Exxon barely being in the top 15 of oil companies and that National Oil Companies are often far more wasteful and corrupt than companies that live or die by competing in an open market. For example:
In Venezuela, the Ministry of Energy and Oil has only just released the 2003 edition of its annual statistical compendium on the company's performance. Its finances are certainly getting murkier: it now transfers much of its earnings directly to a development fund controlled by Mr Chávez, rather than sending them all to the central bank as it used to. [emphasis mine]
Earlier this year a report in Petroleum Intelligence Weekly suggested that Kuwait's state-run Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC) was not providing a full picture of how much oil it had. Even members of Kuwait's parliament complain that they do not know the true level of the country's reserves.
And yet more:
Indonesia has become a net importer of oil, despite big reserves, thanks to the failure of state-run Pertamina to develop new fields.
And what of actual profits?
The current expansion of Russia's NOCs is proving equally ill fated: costs have risen and output has grown more slowly at Yuganskneftegaz, the former production arm of Yukos, a Russian oil company, since its takeover by state-controlled Rosneft, according to Andrei Illarionov, a former adviser to the Russian government. Over the past 20 years, he points out, income per head has grown in countries with private oil industries, but has shrunk in those with nationalised ones. [emphasis mine]
The list goes on. For the other side of the coin, what happens when the NOCs have competition?
The governments of Brazil and Malaysia, among others, allow other firms to bid against their respective NOCs, Petróleo Brasileiro (Petrobras) and Petroliam Nasional (Petronas), for exploration and production rights. Since the two have better knowledge of local conditions and geology, they can still hold their own against multinationals. But the competition forces them to keep costs down and methods up to date. The presence of multinationals also helps to develop a country's pool of skilled labour and, when they operate in joint ventures, to disseminate new technology and ideas. [emphasis mine]
What is worrisome is this:
The NOCs will gradually become even more dominant as oil production dwindles in areas which are open to all comers, such as the North Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. New oil is most likely to be found in the NOCs' territory, precisely because it is largely out of bounds to multinationals such as Exxon and BP, and so has not yet been thoroughly raked over.
Which means that unless the NOCs privatize (an event for which I'm not holding my breath), the multinationals will be hurt if they don't look for new ways to profit. . . just like any other industry faced with a threatening business situation. In the short term this may mean doing things like opening the ANWR, but that's only a stopgap measure. In terms of longterm energy production, I hope they invest serious R&D money into alternative, renewable resources (such as biodiesel and ethanol-producing crops); for American oil companies, preferably alternatives of the domestically-produced variety. Not only that, but with the combination of the NOCs increasing, and already impressive, market share and the aforementioned NOC mismanagement, the possibility exists that we will face an oil industry situation that's far worse than what we have today.

All in all, it appears that Big Oil is yet another example of a free market trumping closed, state-run systems. Does the widespread ineptitude of the NOCs mean that multinationals are immune from corruption, mismanagement, and wasteful behavior? Good God, no, but in a free market, if a corporation is to survive, it must be profitable and otherwise successful even under the weight of bureaucratic momentum and board-room politics, no matter the industry. Do multinational oil companies need regulation? Yes, of course. Do multinationals, especially domestic multinationals, do all they can to skirt those regulations? Well, duh, of course they do, which means that it is our duty as voters, taxpayers, and constituents to embrace our vested interest in how our elected officials interact with not only oil companies, but with all industries and to pressure those officials incessantly to put our interests first. Regulation is needed, as is regulation reform. Let the oil companies compete, but force them to do so fairly.

After all, the "Big Oil" so many leftists and free market haters often rail against only exists with a minority market share among world oil companies, and the government-controlled entities those leftists seem to want already exist. . . and they are failing.
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HTML, CSS, and Me

So, uh, if you notice anything weird going on with the site (other than the content; I'm talking about the structure/functionality) please drop us a comment. Tell us your browser too, as that knowledge will help pinpoint the issue(s). We really don't think there's anything wrong; we're just paranoid after the major site update a few weeks back and the browser breakage that ensued.

(exits, hands in pockets, whistling)

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Monday, September 11, 2006


I don't want to go over the top with tributes, threats, political rhetoric from either side, platitudes, and exhortations to remember 9/11; I'm quite certain you'll hear plenty of that from friends, coworkers, the media, etc. Still though, I plan on reading some of the 2,996+ blogger tributes to the 9/11 victims and I encourage you to do the same.

We may be able to move on, to stagnate, to fight back, to surrender, to fall apart under the weight of bureaucratic and political ineptitude, or whatever else we as a country and individuals are going to do, but the victims never will.

(Exhibit from Moussaoui trial; click once for larger, twice for hi-res.)

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Sunday, September 10, 2006


Check this out:
This was an appalling crime, almost beyond contemplation in a civilised society.
Gee, you think?
Knight stabbed 44-year-old Mr Price 37 times with a butcher's knife before skinning him and hanging his hide from a meat hook in their lounge room on February 29, 2000.

She then decapitated him and put his head in a pot on the stove, baked flesh from his buttocks and cooked vegetables and gravy as side dishes to serve to Mr Price's children.
That is all kinds of screwed up. Yeah, she's a heartless, inhuman killer, but at least she's committed to being a heartless, inhuman killer. I'm totally using this as a scene in my next horror movie script. Also, notice her reason to appeal:
[Knight] had appealed against the sentence claiming the killing was not in the worst category of murder.
Um, what exactly is the worst category of murder in Australia??
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Friday, September 08, 2006

Just shut up already

Cynthia McKinney may be considering a lawsuit against the state of Georgia regarding cross-over primary voting. Yeah, because Republicans caused all those Democratic voters in the 4th to vote for Johnson. It couldn't possibly be the fact that those voters don't want her representing her anymore! Whatever Cynthia; this tactic didn't work against Majette and it won't work now.

Let it go.
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Friday, September 01, 2006

Is "bigot" a color?

Just when you thought the Klan couldn't get any more retarded or have more childish ideas, we find out that they're now allegedly using crayons to send their threats.
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