Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ammunition to avoid

I've been reading some old Internet debates on what kind of ammunition to use for self defense. In every one I've read someone brings up the argument that certain kinds of ammunition will look bad in court if you are actually required to shoot some thug. From this extensive research on the Internet (where everything is true) I have compiled the following advice.

First, do not use ammunition you loaded yourself.

If you pop a cap into some drooling goblin at 5:30 in the morning you don't want more problems in your life. A .357 Federal Hydrashok is going to splatter the bad guy's lung and heart tissue all over the far wall. It is very possible some snot nose DA or pissant Ninjacop may decide that you went a little too far in ventilating the prick. I mean he's not really responsible for being a dirtbag. Maybe his mommy didn't toilet train him right. Maybe his daddy called him names when he was a boy. You don't want to have to explain to a jury how you sit in your garage and load ammo that will splatter a bad guy's lung and heart tissue all over the far wall.

In the inevitable civil case remember that the dead goblin's mommy will be sobbing in the front row and his daddy -- if he can be found -- will testify as to how Drooler was an unfortunate victim of society and was turning his life around.

Next, avoid any ammunition with one or more of the following features:
  • Hollow point (Dum dums, Cop killers)
  • Soft point (Expanding, Armor Piercing)
  • Wadcutter (Flesh Crushing)
  • Round nose (Bone Breakers)
  • Spitzer tip (Big Game Hunting Ammo)
  • Lead bullets (Kills Condor Chicks)
  • Any metal other than lead (Armor Piercing, Cop Killers)
Finally, avoid any ammunition that has any of the following words in the name or description:
  • Black
  • Dark
  • Bore
  • Talon
  • Claw
  • Buzzsaw
  • Doom
  • Buffalo
  • NyClad
  • Moly-coated
  • Teflon
  • Pre-Fragmented
  • Sintered
  • Winchester
  • Federal
  • RCBD
  • Remington
  • ACP
  • NATO
  • Rimmed
  • Rimless
Now you can keep the lawyers happy for a while.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Right Wing Socialists do Stupid Things Too

In their Novel Hope, Aaron Zelman and L Neil Smith described a scenario for implementing abortion law that some described as too far-fetched to be believeable. I can see how it would upset the anti-abortion folks but when I read it, I interpreted it as a satire on the anti-abortion position. It took the position to a logical extreme and demonstrated absurdity by being absurd. However, it seem that the critics of Mr. Zelman and Mr. Smith underestimated the stupidity of the right wing of the Socialist Party. Mother Jones reports on new effort by the GOP to further restrict use of taxpayer funds for abortion.

Under a GOP-backed bill expected to sail through the House of Representatives, the Internal Revenue Service would be forced to police how Americans have paid for their abortions. To ensure that taxpayers complied with the law, IRS agents would have to investigate whether certain terminated pregnancies were the result of rape or incest. And one tax expert says that the measure could even lead to questions on tax forms: Have you had an abortion? Did you keep your receipt?

In testimony to a House taxation subcommittee on Wednesday, Thomas Barthold, the chief of staff of the nonpartisan Joint Tax Committee, confirmed that one consequence of the Republicans' "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" would be to turn IRS agents into abortion cops—that is, during an audit, they'd have to detemine [sic], from evidence provided by the taxpayer, whether any tax benefit had been inappropriately used to pay for an abortion.

I favor eliminating taxpayer funding for abortion. Not because of any opposition to abortion but becasue I favor eliminating taxpayer funding for just about everything. But getting the IRS involved? If the Republicans really wanted to do the country a good turn they would eliminate the damn agency, not give it even more power to rob the citizenry. Next time I ask, "How stupid can a politician get?" I'll remember that this one moved my estimate from pretty damned to almost unbelievably so.

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Victim of Communism

I've known for a few years that when the Soviets launched Laika into orbit they had no intention of trying to get her back alive. Now we can see this callus disregard for life extended to human beings as well. In 1967, Vladimer Komarov was launched into orbit on a doomed mission.

From Cosmonaut Crashed Into Earth 'Crying In Rage' at NPR.
The space vehicle is shoddily constructed, running dangerously low on fuel; its parachutes — though no one knows this — won't work and the cosmonaut, Vladimir Komarov, is about to, literally, crash full speed into Earth, his body turning molten on impact. As he heads to his doom, U.S. listening posts in Turkey hear him crying in rage, "cursing the people who had put him inside a botched spaceship."
Space flight is dangerous. Anyone who thinks otherwise should never be given any responsibility more important than the channel buttons for his TV. However, there is a line between bad luck and negligence. The damned Soviets knew the capsule was not safe to fly.
The problem was Gagarin. Already a Soviet hero, the first man ever in space, he and some senior technicians had inspected the Soyuz 1 and had found 203 structural problems — serious problems that would make this machine dangerous to navigate in space. The mission, Gagarin suggested, should be postponed.
So why did he climb into a capsule he knew was defective?
Russayev asked, Why not refuse? According to the authors, Komarov answered: "If I don't make this flight, they'll send the backup pilot instead." That was Yuri Gagarin. Vladimir Komarov couldn't do that to his friend. "That's Yura," the book quotes him saying, "and he'll die instead of me. We've got to take care of him." Komarov then burst into tears.
He got into that capsule because he was a brave man who kept faith with his friends.

I've said this before and I guess I get to say it again. The bastards that ran the Soviet Union did not deserve the quality of men who served them.

H/T to The Unwanted Blog

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Linux Trick

To sort a list of ip address

sort -n -t '.' -k 1,1 -k 2,2 -k 3,3 -k 4,4 <list

To delete duplicates, pipe the outout through uniq

sort -n -t '.' -k 1,1 -k 2,2 -k 3,3 -k 4,4 <list|uniq

Thoughts on Intellectual Property

I am an Engineer by training and temperament. Perhaps this is not such a good thing since I am often baffled by the mental machinations of philosophers. Reading some libertarian essays on the subject of Intellectual Property (Schulman and Smith come to mind) I am reminded of the old warning to be careful what you wish for.

I understand the value that creators add to the pool of human knowledge. Even when someone tries to prevent it, new knowledge still becomes part of the structure (or foundation depending whether you take your analogies straight or with soda) of human progress. Any system that does not encourage and reward those with the intelligence and determination to make new discoveries will fall behind quickly in the Darwinian competition between societies. However, any good idea can be carried too far.

Have you ever wondered why the first American military pilots in WW1 flew French made planes (Spad) with Spanish built engines (Hispano-Suiza)? Probably not but if you ever do, look no further than American patent law. Every time an American like Glenn Curtis (an innovative inventor in his own right) brought a new design to fruition, he was sued by the Wright Brothers for patent violations. Even though the Wrights held patents in Europe the courts there were less appreciative of Intellectual Property so European builders went ahead and just made planes.

Ignoring intellectual property concerns put the Europeans well ahead of the US in aviation by 1917. Perhaps the worst thing about all the litigation was how badly it tarnished the the image of the Wright Brothers as heroic pioneers. The lawsuits finally ended when, with the outbreak of WW1, aircraft builders established the Manufacturers' Aircraft Association to coordinate making of warplanes. To accomplish this they formed a patent pool at the prompting of the U.S. government. Royalties were fixed at one percent and free exchange of inventions and ideas took place among all the participants. After the war the litigation was not renewed because Orville Wright-- now without Wilbur who died of typhoid in 1912 -- sold his interest in the Wright Company and retired from the business. Once freed from the specter of endless litigation, the American aviation industry surged ahead of all the foreign competition.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Shout, "gun!" and somone dies.

I was at the Magnum Range in Rancho Cucamonga a couple month back and a couple of lanes were being use by cops practicing. They were in uniform so I figured it was official and I was wearing my Pro Ears that day so I could hear them talking about qualifying. The guy running the session used the word "GUN!" as the command to draw and fire.

At the time I thought that was not a very smart way to train cops in a country where RKBA is explicitly protected by its Constitution. Now it appears that stupidity has cost a cop his life
The friendly-fire shooting that cost a Long Island cop his life was a point-blank blunder that started when a retired cop with no business at the scene yelled, "Gun," an official said yesterday.

Geoffrey Breitkopf, 40, was shot and killed Saturday by an MTA cop responding to a call at a Massapequa Park house where Nassau police had killed a knife-wielding Satan worshipper.

The MTA officers were assisting county cops with mop-up duty when Nassau County Special Ops Officer Breitkopf arrived in a car with his partner, according to Nassau County Police Benevolent Association president James Carver.

As Breitkopf walked toward the house in plain clothes with a rifle slung over his shoulder and his badge around his neck, an unidentified retired NYPD sergeant from the neighborhood -- milling around outside -- cried out, "Gun!" Carver said.

One of the MTA cops tried to wrestle the rifle away, while the other, Glenn Gentile, fired a single shot, hitting Breitkopf in the side, Carver said.

Gentile and his partner were then trying to handcuff the dying officer on the lawn when his hysterical partner ran over and cried, "He's one of us," according to Carver.

"There's a lot of anger with my guys right now about this whole thing," Carver said. "My guy was dead before he hit the ground. He had no chance."
Jeez! Holler gun and all the cops go stupid. I feel safer already.

Monday, March 7, 2011

What Would Jesus Cut?

Jim Wallis asks that question over at HuffPo.

Who cares? Jesus was a socialist with an ethical system that originated with nomadic sheepherders who were barely out of the stone age and knew Jacque Schitt about economics.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Good Self Defense Article

Kelly Muir has a good article on the Personal Defense Network entitled The Need for Integrated Self Defense. She emphasizes that self defense is more than knowing how to use a gun. It also means knowing something about bare hands, teeth, Tasers, pepper spray, knives, sticks, stones and harsh language. It means having at least a minimum level of physical fitness. Most important of all is it requires the proper mindset.

Read it. It is worth your time.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

On a Clear Day I can See Bulgaria

One of my guilty pleasures is reading the blog Darwinian Conservatism by Larry Arnhart. Recently he put up an interesting post on belief in God entitled Does Believing in God Arise from Our Evolved Theory of Mind?. It's a pretty good summary of the present state of thinking about the evolutionary origins of religious belief. By way of introduction, Arnhart mentions Alvin Platinga's assessment of the various arguments for the existence of God(s).
In God and Other Minds: A Study of the Rational Justification of Belief in God (published in 1967 and 1990), Alvin Plantinga offered assessments of the various arguments for believing in God. He concluded that the best argument was based on the analogy between believing in other human minds and believing in the Divine Mind. Although we have direct access to our own minds through subjective experience, we have no direct evidence for other human minds. But except for the radical solipsist, we regard belief in other human minds as a reasonable inference from our experience with other human beings. Similarly, we might conclude that although we have no direct, observational evidence for God's existence, we can reasonably infer the existence of a Divine Mind as a more perfect version of our human mind. Plantinga concluded: "if my belief in other minds is rational, so is my belief in God. But obviously the former is rational; so, therefore, is the latter."

I've never seen the sense in that argument. The original version I read was presented in a confusing manner that may have sounded profund to the author but, I think, really made it look desperate. A -- ahem -- Hail Mary play.

I'm just a dumb 'ol Engineer and don't pretend to understand all the subtleties of philosophy. With that in mind I present my argument for the existence of other minds.
  1. I have direct experience of my own mind.
  2. I formulate a theory of how a sapient mind operates.
  3. I have evidence other entities exist.
  4. I observe other entities.
  5. I see they act in a manner consistent with my theory.
  6. From this I can infer that these other entities have sapient minds too.

Obviously, the linear argument above is simplified for illustration Feedback is a part to the scientific method as I currently understand it so one step may trigger a reevaluation of a previous one. For example my observations of other entities may cause me to alter my theory of sapient minds. That's how science works in the real world.

The parallel argument substituting God -- She, He or It -- goes like this.
  1. I have direct experience of my own mind.
  2. I formulate a theory of how a sapient mind operates.
  3. I have evidence She/He/It exists.
  4. I observe She/He/It.
  5. I see She/He/It acts in a manner consistent with my theory.
  6. From this I can infer that She/He/It has a sapient mind too.

Plantinga's problem is he pretends the same process I use to discern the existence of other sapient minds will work with the Divine Mind of She/He/It. Clearly it does not. Then he works backwards from a failed argument to argue that believing that She/He/It exists is rational.