Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Final Test of Truth is Ridicule

Pa. boy, 14, allegedly desecrates Jesus statue by mimicking sex act in selfie: Outrage?

What the boy did was certainly in poor taste but, aside from the trespass, I don't think it was criminal. There was no vandalism reported nor was anyone harmed or even threatened with harm. I doubt the boy was trying to make any philosophical point. He was just doing what 14-year-old boys have been doing for millenia. Unfortunately he ran a foul of a little known and rarelty used anti-desecration law. This prosecution is no better than the zero tolerance policies in the schools.

Freedom is an inherently offensive state of existence. No matter what you may believe, there will be someone who will ridicule it. Someone will burn a Koran, dip a Crucifix in urine, photoshop the Flying Spaghetti Monster into the creation image of the Sistine Chapel or use the word "citizen" (which is, apparently, banned in Seattle!) in a sentence. However, as HL Mencken wrote, "..the razor edge of ridicule is turned by the tough hide of truth."* If you really think what you believe is true then what is there to fear? Your pet theories or dogma will survive if truth is really on your side.

Silly attempts to limit offensive but otherwise peaceable behavior using law or speech codes is an example of the American ardor for substituting laws for common sense. The political Left, Right and Middle seem to share an insane belief that nirvana is just another regulation away. Wail all you want about Political Correctness but it is really just the Left's version of the anti-blasphemy laws.


* "On Truth" in Damn! A Book of Calumny. Page 43 in the Kindle edition I have. That essay is also the source for the title of this post.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Bizzaro State of Massachusetts Maryland

Correction: An Anonymous comment corrects me: "This took place in Maryland, not Massachusetts." Text is edited to reflect this.

Patrick Wayne McLaw, an eighth grade teacher at Mace's Lane Middle School in Massachusetts Maryland, has been suspended under circumstances charitably described as mysterious.

Cambridge Mace's Lane Middle School Teacher on Administrative Leave

Early last week the school board was alerted that one of its eighth grade language arts teachers at Mace's Lane Middle School had several aliases. Police said that under those names, he wrote two fictional books about the largest school shooting in the country's history set in the future. Now, Patrick McLaw is placed on leave.

Aliases? Such a sinister word. Anyone with more than two brain cells left to rub together would call the false name an author uses a "pen name". Why would the reporter choose a baleful word to describe the man's nom de plume except to demonize him? Maybe it was just ignorance but the article has been updated at least once and the word is still used so, for the time being, I am going to go with it being evil over stupid.

Those books are what caught the attention of police and school board officials in Dorchester County. "The Insurrectionist" is about two school shootings set in the future, the largest in the country's history.

According to the Amazon page for the book the story is set almost 900 years in the future.

On 18 March 2902, a massacre transpired on the campus of Ocean Park High School, claiming the lives of nine hundred forty-seven individuals--the largest school massacre in the nation's history. And the entire country now begins to ask two daunting questions: How? and Why? After the federal government becomes involved, and after examining the bouquet of black roses that lies in front of the school's sign, it becomes evident that the hysteria is far from over.

Leaving aside any arguments about what human society will look like 900 years from now, that seems a pretty safe distance in time. So just what are the authorities afraid of? This is even more mysterious. According to a related article:

“The residence of the teacher in Wicomico County was searched by personnel,” Phillips said, with no weapons found. “A further check of Maryland State Police databases also proved to be negative as to any weapons registered to him. McLaw was suspended by the Dorchester County Board of Education pending an investigation and is no longer in the area. He is currently at a location known to law enforcement and does not currently have the ability to travel anywhere.”

So no firearms were found or even implied but, despite that, he is being held "...at a location known to law enforcement..." No charges have been mentioned nor is there any indication I can find that Mr. McLaw has been allowed to see a lawyer. For writing a book.

Just when I think I can see the bottom of the pit of human stupidity, someone shouts, "Challenge accepted!" and demonstrates that is goes even deeper into the darkness.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

What I Fear is Hate and Stupidity

Saul Cornell and the Daily Beast are what they are and I expect no better from either. However, I find it amusing when a controlist (mis)quotes Oliver Wendell Holmes' opinion in Schenk v. United States upholding the conviction of a man who advocated resisting the draft. What is, arguably, one of the worst judicial offenses against the First Amendment is now being cited in attacks on the Second.

Of course, the fact that the Second Amendment is now treated as an individual right has almost no bearing on gun regulation, because no right is absolute. You can’t shout “Fire!” in a crowded theater, nor can you fire a gun in one.

Gun-Rights Advocates Should Fear History of Second Amendment

You are wrong Mr. Cornell. What gun rights advocates have to fear is what all civil rights activists have had to fear throughout history. We have to fear the hatred and stupidity of the ideologues in power trying desperately to preserve their privilege and control.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Driving While Distracted is OK if You're a Cop?

It certainly seems so in this case.

Police Officer Will Not Be Charged For Killing Napster Exec While Texting And Driving — Because It's Apparently OK For Police To Do That

Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy Andrew Wood will not be charged for fatally running over former Napster COO Milton Olin Jr. in his patrol car while the officer was typing a message into his computer.

The District Attorney's report on the incident is pretty clear about what happened:

The article continues:

The Los Angeles District Attorney's report into the incident says that even though it is illegal to text and drive, Wood was not negligent because police officers are expected to respond quickly to messages from colleagues.

For a long time I've accepted the fact that the Thin Blue Whine will always protect its own. That select group includes district attorneys and judges. I am not particularly happy about it but it is a fact of life. Still, the handling of this incident is pretty blatant. It is a dead certainty that if an unbadged person answered his email or sent a text message while driving and, as a result, hit and killed someone, he would be be charged with something. If not vehicular manslaughter then felony reckless driving.

Why is the DA refusing to prosecute this case? Like I said: That's just the way it is.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Arizona Tragedy

There are a lot of Monday morning quarterbacks critiquing the instructor's methods displayed in the video accompanying the article. Frankly, it looked to me like he did things right but I am not particularly qualified to offer anything but a layman's opinion. What I do know is that I feel sorry for the little girl and the instructor's family. Mistakes or not, it is still a tragedy.

Officials: Girl Accidentally Kills Gun Instructor

The incident itself is a controlist's wet dream: A dead firearms instructor, a messed up little girl and press coverage of the whole thing. I suspect Sarah Brady and Shannon Watts will comment on the matter right after they finish masturbating.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Retard in the White House and Elsewhere

Remember when Joe Biden -- putative Vice-President of the United States -- recommended that gun owners discourage intruders by firing a shotgun in the air?

So did Jeffery Barton of Washington State but when he followed that advice, he was arrested for his trouble. At his arraignment he pleaded not guilty and raised what is now being called the "Joe Biden Defense". While that seems a little tongue-in-cheek to me, it is, in the clarity of hindsight, a predictable reaction to the utter stupidity and ignorance exhibited by Biden.

Now -- perhaps hoping not to embarrass the VP more than he does for himself -- the prosecutor is dropping the one count of illegal aiming or discharging a firearm.

New developments in 'Joe Biden defense' case

Clark County's prosecutor said Tuesday he will dismiss a firearms-related charge against a Vancouver man who said he was merely taking Vice President Joe Biden's advice on how to defend his property from car prowlers. Instead, the man will be prosecuted for obstructing a police officer.

Jeffrey C. Barton, 53, made international news when he told journalists: "I did what Joe Biden told me to do. I went outside and fired my shotgun in the air."

That is a reference to the vice president's answer to a question in February 2013 about home defense. Biden responded that Americans don't need to own semiautomatic weapons because a couple blasts from a shotgun will scare off intruders.

Of course the state being, typically, unwilling to let go of any opportunity to harass a peaceable gun owner will throw an obstruction charge against the wall.

However, the firearms charge will be replaced with a charge of obstructing a law enforcement officer, Golik said.

Golik said ethical guidelines prevent him from discussing specific reasons for the new charge.

"Based on (Barton's) conduct, we are going to pursue the obstruction charge," he said.

Ethical considerations? In this case is sound more like: We don't have a real reason to put him in jail so we will fall back on the obstruction charge.

And lawyers wonder why Dante spread them out all over the Inferno. There are so many appropriate places there for them.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Latest Calibre is not compatible with CentOS 6

I tied to update to the latest Calibre (2.0.0) and discovered it will not run on CentOS 6. It appear to need glibc 3.4.15 and Qt 5. CentOS 6 uses glibc 2.12 and Qt 4. That can probably be be fixed with some static linking but getting two version of glibc to work together is tricky. If, like me, you inadvertently installed it, you can download an earlier version here:

http://download.calibre-ebook.com/1.html

The following will extract the 1.48.0 version which is the next to latest:

$ sudo rm -rf /opt/calibre/* && sudo tar -xvjf calibre-1.48.0-x86_64.tar.bz2 -C /opt/calibre

You may need to make the following symbolic link.

/usr/bin/calibre -> /opt/calibre/calibre

Sunday, August 17, 2014

CSGV Weighs In On Ferguson, MO

In the Flyweight class.

Gun Violence Prevention Group Calls For Accountability In Ferguson
Finally, we acknowledge the comparisons that many are drawing between what is happening in Ferguson and the armed standoff that took place at the Bundy ranch this past April. The dramatic differences in law enforcement response to the two events are difficult to ignore. Why are white pro-gun activists able to point loaded firearms at law enforcement and avoid accountability under the law altogether while unarmed, peaceful African-American citizens are met with a militarized police force and mass arrests? The most important idea in American political philosophy is that of equality. That principle has been sorely tested by these events, and must ultimately be vindicated by the rule of law.

The half-dozen or so active members of CSGV seem to operate from a position that government must have a monopoly-of-force over those in its jurisdiction. They may want government to be accountable to the "people" but, simultaneously, do not want those same people to have any means of enforcing that accountability beyond a sternly worded letter. Perhaps followed by an even more sternly worded letter. So, as a public service to those benighted controlists who cannot figure it out for themselves, I will try to explain.

Fortunately for me it is not hard.

It is not about race. If you try real hard you can get past the racialist bullshit. Once you do, it is not particularly difficult to understand the difference between Bundy Ranch and Ferguson. The men and women at the Bundy Ranch were able to prevail because the government forces did not have a monopoly on force. The "unarmed, peaceful African-American citizens" in Ferguson can be arrested en masse precisely because the government does have such a monopoly. The cops in Ferguson did not not pull off a coup d'etat. They are still under civilian control and are operating under orders from the government officials above them. This is exactly how the controlists at CSGV believe government is supposed to work. The situation in Ferguson is the CSGV fantasy writ large.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Typical of New Jersey?

Radley Balko make somes valuable observations in his Washington Post article about the Shaneen Allen case in New Jersey. Among them is this particularly salient set of points:

When I first posted her story to Twitter, a couple of progressive responders predicted that because Allen is a black single mother, the gun rights community would all but ignore her. But that hasn’t been true at all. In fact, Allen has become something of a rallying point for gun rights activists. She is being represented by Evan Nappen, an attorney who specializes in gun cases and is a gun rights activist himself. Some conservatives have similarly accused progressives of ignoring Allen’s case because she stands accused of a gun crime. It’s certainly true that her case has received much more attention from the right than the left. But Nappen says he has seen plenty of support for her from racial justice groups, too.

Despite the cynical expectations of the controlists, gun owners are coming to the defense of a "black single mother". This is no surprise to any honest observer of the pro-gun scene. The prozis will make a big deal of that fact that Dick Anthony Heller -- the plaintiff in Heller v D.C. -- is white but ignore that Otis McDonald of McDonald v City of Chicago is black and, last I heard, a registered Democrat. They will also ignore that NORML and the NRA were allies in protecting the Second Amendment rights of Medical Marijuana patients in Oregon (Willis v Winters). There is clearly a disconnect between perception and reality.

Ultimately, the most relevant fact in this case is that this happened in New Jersey. While not alone in this distinction, the system there is full of people who just plain hate peaceable, honest gun owners and want them all dead or in prison. It's as simple as that.

Oh, give me a home
Where the criminals roam,
Where the rapists and murders play;
Where often is seen
a discouraging scene
of graft and corruption displayed.

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Human Cost of "Reasonable" Gun Laws

Dear Dartmouth: I’m Being Stalked – Please Let Me Protect Myself

Fearing for my safety, I finally contacted Dartmouth College’s Department of Safety and Security in June and asked if I could keep a permitted handgun on campus. But no luck. The advice was that I call campus security and arrange for an escort if I ever felt unsafe after dark. I was also told that there was no way to appeal this decision.

Yet, the escorts have proved to be impractical and humiliating. Campus security has told me, “you can’t keep calling us all the time.” When requesting transportation, I am grilled over whether I have a justifiable reason.

Campus security tells me that I can’t call until after 9 PM, but my stalker doesn’t really care what time of day it is.

What are women in these circumstances supposed to do? Keep themselves locked in their dorm rooms, as I have done?

Gun laws always come at a cost to the individual. Ther more restrictive they are the greater the potential cost. No matter how safe it may make the self-righteous controlist feel, there will be instances where a peaceable individual is harmed because of restrictive gun laws. The infamous Merced Pitchfork Murders is a good example. I sincerely hope the young lady in the above story does not become another. The right of self defense is fundamental to all civilized peoples and, in a civilized world she would not have to live in such fear. She does because a significant number of her countrymen do not care about her and rank her genuine safety concerns as less important than their feelings of security.