Thursday, December 18, 2014

Chase Online still vulnerable to POODLE for TLS

Like a lot of companies, Chase Online (owned by JP Morgan) uses the F5 BigIP to handle SSL/TLS for its web services. If your web services run on IIS that is a pretty sensible decision but only as long as the F5 is secure. As of the morning of Dec 18,2014 the Chase site is still vulnerable to POODLE for TLS. What make this worthy of a blog post is that there is a patch for the F5 box and it has been available since Dec 8, 2014. I applied it to my employer's machines on Dec 13 and it brought our score on the Qualys SSL tester from an "F" to a much more comfortable "A-".

This will not affect me directly because I don't bank with Chase and I recently canceled my last credit card with them. Still, I think it displays a contemptuous attitude toward customers not to expedite patching such a highly visible system.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Thought on Ferguson

If the people of Ferguson believe they are being governed badly and the usual avenues of redress have failed them, then -- by all means -- they should take to streets and shake up their overlords a bit. People flourish in freedom and freedom flourishes when the rulers are more than a little afraid of those they purport to rule. However, I don't see too much of that spirit in the current mess in Ferguson. It's more an explosion of narcissism fed a diet of entitlement then crossed with drunken frat boy. Not the finest hour for the city's residents.

Free men and women know when to build and when to fight; they also know what to build and what to fight. From where I sit, the boldest act of rebellion and independence in Ferguson would have been to start a business rather than looting and burning them.

Massachusetts Under Siege from...Gangs of Turkeys?

So it would appear:

Brookline residents on the lookout for aggressive turkeys

BROOKLINE, Mass. (WHDH) - Residents of a Brookline neighborhood are on the lookout for turkeys, and not just the best deals at their local grocery store. A flock of turkeys has been harassing residents and even attacked a group of school kids.

“The turkeys started to run after my kids and then they pecked at a car,” Jay Hafner said. “They just attack whatever comes by, they're territorial I guess.”

Brookline Animal Control says they've had several calls about the seasonal birds.

Police say a crossing guard had to call for help this morning after one flock got into the road.

Marilyn Carmona says the turkeys tried to attack her last week.

“There was like six or seven of them, and as I went around the mailbox they went around and they started chasing me into the street and I screamed for help,” she said.

Last year police had to remove one male turkey that went after a mail carrier in town.

Massachusetts was one of the places where the unique American version of individual liberty was forged. It was home to men like Sam Adams and Paul Revere. Now the residents are disarmed and so intimidated by their overlords that they have to fear gangs of roving turkeys.

I hope you have happy Thanksgiving anyways.

Friday, November 21, 2014

I May Have Just Found My Next Rifle

The Firearms Blog recently reported on some new offerrings and lower prices for their scout rifle:

Steyr Updates Scout Rifle Offerings

Originally these rifles had an MSRP of about $2,700 with street prices solidly over $2,300. Usually more than $2,400. Way too expensive for my income. Now Steyr has dropped the MSRP to about $1,700 with an additional $200 off until year's end. Street prices will hopefully be in the neighborhood of $1,300. That is still pretty expensive for a bolt action rifle but within my purchasing power right now.

I've only fired a couple dozen rounds through one and it was a heckuva rifle: Under 39 inches long, less than 7 pounds and very accurate. More than accurate enough for a field rifle. Plus it is just about the coolest bolt gun on the planet today.

The only the rifle I am interested in right now is the Varmint Express in .17 HMR. It will be a race to see which becomes available first.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Silk Road 3.0 Opens for Business?

According to this article a new Silk Road marketplace has opened up:

Silk Road 3.0 Opens for Business

I have no idea how long it will last nor I am I convinced it is not just a lure for entrapment of buyers. On the other hand, I don't think Silk Road sells anything I am interested in so that difference is probably moot. On the gripping hand, it may turn out to be an interesting example of how a free market responds to attempts to suppress it.

In reality, history is a process and has no side. That claim is just anthropogenic nonsense promoted by people who believe that their way of seeing the world is so righteous it doesn't need defending. Nevertheless, if history did have a side I like to think the DEA and FBI are operating on the wrong side of it.

Friday, November 7, 2014

It's not Just Feeding the Homeless

At first glance, this article seem to be about an outrageous exercise of state power. After all, despite cynical assertions to the contrary, Americans are among the most charitable people in the world. Who could object to feeding the hungry?

Fort Lauderdale Charges 90-Year-Old, Two Pastors for Feeding Homeless

Homeless activist Arnold Abbott, 90, and Christian ministers Dwayne Black of the Sanctuary Church in Fort Lauderdale and Mark Sims of St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church in Coral Springs were handing out meals in a park on Sunday, two days after Fort Lauderdale's ordinance took effect, when police approached them with their sirens flashing, Black said. The three were issued citations and face a $500 fine or 60 days in jail.

"This is not how our government is supposed to work," Black told NBC News. "These are people who need to be fed, and we will be feeding [again] today at 5 o'clock."

The ordinance — the fourth one that Fort Lauderdale has passed this year concerning the homeless — requires groups handing out food to homeless to be at least 500 feet away from residential properties. It limits feeding sites for homeless to one in any given city block, and prevent feeding sites from being within 500 feet of each other.

First, let me be plain. There is no such thing as a "proper exercise of state power". That said, the institution is not going away quickly so the best I can hope for at this time is that government will act in a manner consistent with how a hypothetical owner of so-called "public property" would act.

So, in that light, how is government supposed to act? The fellows mentioned in the article are feeding the homeless but that action has foreseeable consequences. Handing out meals certainly encourages the recipients to congregate in the area. In addition to needing food the homeless will also need places to sleep as well as places to urinate and defecate. I doubt the owner of any property would encourage such activities on his on land. Since the taxpayers of Ft. Lauderdale are forced to pay for the property the homeless will occupy between feedings, the government has a responsibility to manage that property as if it was owned by those taxpayers.

So, while not perfect, restricting the ability of charities to feed the homeless is government working as it is supposed to.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Gotta Get Me Some More Zombie Targets

Mike Vanderboegh has some interesting thoughts on the popularity of apocalyptic fiction on the television and in popular literature.

One other thing that bears mentioning. Have you noticed that just as The Invasion of the Body Snatchers was a metaphor for communist infiltration in the 50s, that "zombies" resemble present day collectivists? They are ravenous, hard to stop, go around in bunches, cannot be negotiated with or reasoned with, only walled out or confronted with deadly force. It is no accident that zombie targets are far more popular at firearm ranges these days than bullseyes. Wanna shoot a collectivist and still be under the radar? Shoot a zombie target. Nobody objects to that, perhaps because they can't break the code. I mean, what is the functional difference, if any, between Nancy Pelosi and a flesh-eating zombie?

I never looked at shooting zombie targets as a political statement but, in retrospect, it makes sense. Perhaps it is time for gun owners to shoot more such targets while imagining the images represent the collectivist du jour. Shooting them in effigy -- so to speak.

If you can't nuke 'em from orbit, shoot 'em in the head. It's the only way to be sure.

Waiting for Enemy Action

There is a saying about how to tell the difference between accident, coincidence and enemy action. It goes something like:

  • Once is happenstance.
  • Twice is coincidence.
  • Three times is enemy action.

Looks like the problem of voting machines switching attempted votes for a Republican candidate to the corresponding Democratic candidate has reached stage two. At least. Here is the most recent one:

'Calibration issue' pops up on Maryland voting machines

This incident was reported a few day earlier from Illinois' Cook County:

Cook County ballot box tries to cast GOP votes for Democrats

Calibration errors happen and, given the nature of government, it is unremarkable that they are not caught until a system goes into service. However, if such errors were really only errors they would be expected to favor each party's candidates in about equal numbers. That is not case here: In both of the recent reports the calibration errors have always favored the Democratic candidate.

Friday, October 24, 2014

A Dose of Reality on Net Neutrality

The Social Justice Wackos are at it again.

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission said Friday that he and President Obama agree on the importance of protecting net neutrality.

"My position is unchanged," FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said at a press conference. "The president and I agree—and have always agreed—on the importance of an open Internet."

But net-neutrality advocates responded that as long as Wheeler supports allowing large companies to pay for special "fast lanes" on the Internet, he and the president are miles apart. [emphasis added]

That's founded on a great big steaming load of codswallop sliding down your throat.

Net neutrality had always depended on a type of digital barter. Sometimes this is referred to as "in-kind" or "balanced" transport. In effect it means if you carry N terabytes of data from my network and I carry something close to the same from your network, we are in balance. If I expect you to carry my N terabytes of traffic but do not offer anything in return I am imposing costs on you without any corresponding benefit. I am using your bandwidth without giving anything in return.

These idiots seem to think that bandwidth is cheap or free. It is not and just because it is denominated in bytes instead of dollars does not change that. A backbone provider has to lay thousands of miles of fiber, buy very expensive switches and routers and hire highly-skilled engineers to keep it all working. What the SJWs are trying to do here is pervert a perfectly reasonable form of barter between carriers into some kind of entitlement for operations like Netflix. However, in any fair transaction, you must give at least as much as you receive or the distortions cause at least one of the parties in the transaction to close up shop.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Arrogance of Ignorance

It looks like law enforcement is pushing back against strong encryption they cannot get into.

FBI quest for smartphone data will fuel privacy battle

FBI Director James Comey said as much Thursday in a speech at the Brookings Institution in Washington, suggesting the agency might ask congress to force companies to provide what amounts to a “back door” to law enforcement to obtain password-protected data on targeted personal mobile devices.

Sigh...

I've argued before that there is no such thing as a backdoor that can only be used by law enforcement. A security hole is a security hole whether it called a "backdoor" or a "golden key". In fact, a deliberately planted backdoor -- as opposed to one resulting from design or programming error -- is worse because the bad guys know for sure it is there. To think that the Chinese or the Jihadis will not look for it and pick the lock is a sure sign of ignorance.

ETA: Another thought that occurred to me is that once the bad guys figure out how to exploit the government mandated "golden key" backdoor, the vendors will not be able to patch it without permission from the government!.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Radiation Resistance and DNA repair

Now this is interesting. Some scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Louisiana State University forced the evolution of extreme radiation resistance in e coli bacteria. That alone is unremarkable since it has been done before.

What makes this effort noteworthy is that they were also able to identify the cellular mechanisms involved and that there are active and passive mechanisms of detoxification of oxygen and DNA repair. This could have profound implications for human longevity.

Evolution of extreme resistance to ionizing radiation via genetic adaptation of DNA repair

If the above is too dry for you, here is a more "gee whiz" summary:

Engineering E. coli to Resist Ionizing Radiation Damage

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Got Capitalism?

Here is how the evil capitalists at Firestone are dealing with the Ebola outbreak.

Firestone Did What Governments Have Not: Stopped Ebola In Its Tracks

Dr. Flannery of the CDC says a key reason for Firestone's success is the close monitoring of people who have potentially been exposed to the virus — and the moving of anyone who has had contact with an Ebola patient into voluntary quarantine.

By most accounts, this Ebola outbreak remains out of control, with health care workers across West Africa struggling to contain it.

Asked what's needed to turn that around, Flannery says, "More Firestones" — places that have the money, resources and unwavering determination to stop Ebola.

The CDC certainly has the money and the resources but the bureaucracy may be lacking in the "unwavering determination" department. I am one of the last persons to advocate government should be run like a business. In fact, I am more likely to advise it be run out on a rail. However, if the state wants to get involved then the state actors fighting the outbreak need to look at what is working and Firestone's efforts are. Less time concentrating on the problem and more time concentrating on the solution.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Eliminate the Backdoor

Recently, there was a particularly brain-dead editorial in the Washington Post entitled Compromise needed on smartphone encryption.

Changing the name of a deliberately planted security hole from "backdoor" to "secure golden key" doesn't change the essential security problem. Even if you believe that your government can be trusted to never misuse the power of a backdoor, there is someone out there who will find it and use it for unintended purposes. There is no such thing as a "backdoor" that only law enforcement can use.

In 2005 the Ericsson switches used by Vodafone Greece were compromised. Software using the so-called "lawful interception" modules were exploited to intercept phone call from at least 100 government officials for seven months. Interestingly, the Greek Government did not request these modules be activated but they were still used by the, as yet, unidentified attacker.

In 2006 Telecom Italia users were wiretapped via exploits believed, at the time, to have been discovered during a penetration test. The provenance on this exploit is a little fuzzy -- I don't know for certain if it was deliberate backdoor or a programming error -- but it was found and, apparently, exploited.

In 2010 Chinese hackers discovered and exploited a backdoor into the Gmail system placed there by Google to comply with law enforcement intercept orders. The US government mandated that Google give law enforcement access and the Chinese discovered it then used it to gather private data.

Those are just some of the criminal uses of backdoors we know about.

There may be a good argument or two for not revealing an exploit that could be used against an enemy. I can only think of one and it is only passably good. There are, however, no good arguments I know of for deliberately creating a security hole in software -- no matter how much law enforcement wants it.

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.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Everytown Wants You Dead.

A recent video released by Everytown for Gun Safety tries to associate firearms with domestic violence in the viewer's mind. Knowing the everytowners are controlists makes it pretty easy to decipher the message: Guns are bad. However, it is just as legitimate to interpret the video as an argument for a woman threatened by a violent ex-spouse or ex-boyfriend to arm herself. In the video the woman does exactly as the controlists advise -- she got a restraining order and, when the ex shows up, she dials 911.

That didn't work.

As a counterpoint to the everytowners' propaganda. one woman did not buy into the common anti-self-defense rhetoric and she is, quite possibly, alive and healthy today because of that.

Man shot dead by girlfriend in domestic dispute

VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN 6) – Sheriff deputies confirm a woman shot and killed her boyfriend late Tuesday night inside a home the couple was renting.

Police said what began as a domestic dispute escalated into a shooting with a hand gun, killing 44-year-old Scott Grossman at roughly 11:00 p.m. in the 200 block of Northwest 94th Street.

The woman, whose name and age are not being released by police, was not criminally charged and she is not expected to appear in court.

The difference in outcomes -- one imaginary and one real -- cannot be stressed too much nor too emphatically. In the imaginary scenario promoted by the everytowners women are helpless victims in waiting. In the real world, as illustrated by the incident in Washington, women can fight back and do so successfully.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

After the KT Event

After the asteroid impact, the lawn flamingo evolved to become the most fearsome predator of the Cretaceous. Here a pack strips the flesh from a Tyrannosaurus so fast she doesn't even have time to collapse.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

It's Nobody's Business but My Own

Boston Police Commissioner Says Nobody In The City Needs a Shotgun or Rifle

Police Commissioner is an appointed office in Boston so, if the appointee want to keep the job, I expect him to say whatever Hizzoner wants him to say. True to that, William Evans, recently appointed Police Commissioner for the City of Boston, is quoted as saying

I don’t agree with that. Having long guns–rifles and shotguns–especially here in the city of Boston. I think we should have, as the local authority, some say in the matter. [And] the federal [government] doesn’t really allow us to have the discretion that we want in these particular cases.

…For the most part, nobody in the city needs a shotgun. Nobody needs a rifle.

A "need" for any kind of gun is not a valid criteria for determining access to a fundamental human right and letting the controlists frame that -- or any other part of the debate -- is a bad idea. Do not let an opponent blather on about "need" until he or she first agrees there is a fundamental right to effective self defense. Emphasize that "effective" in this case means that the victim will have an equal or better chance than the criminal of escaping the encounter unharmed.

Frankly, I don't think the controlists even care about what I "need" because they don't believe any of us has a right to resist criminal attacks. That is why they always argue, "Just give them what they want." The "need" argument is just a rhetorical trick to move the debate to a place where gun owners and their rights can be attacked. Concentrating on the civil rights issue provides more leverage and, believe me, the controlists hate it. They don't want to talk about rights because, deep down inside their scabby little souls, they are driven be a hatred of guns and the culture that guns are a part of. I am convinced they seek the deliberate and systematic destruction of the entire unique non-criminal "gun culture".

There is no reason that, in a sane world, I have to justify my peaceable, non aggressive choices. I don't have to give a reason why I use Linux instead of Windows or a Mac. I don't have to explain why I drink Southern Comfort or Jack Daniels nor explain why I don't drink Rum or Tequila. I don't have to justify the sex or number of people I sleep with. It is equally nobody's business but mine what kinds of guns I own nor how many rounds each will fire before reloading.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Kozynski on the Death Penalty

My objection to the death penalty is purely pragmatic: There is no accountability when an agent of the state kills someone in error and that is a recipe for corruption. Power corrupts the men who wield it especially when there is no personal liability for their actions.

That said, if we are going to have executions then just use a firing squad or a guillotine. Automate the process if it makes people feel better but Kozynski is right when he object to using life-saving medication to kill (PDF). That is just damned wrong.

Whatever the hopes and reasons for the switch to drugs, they proved to be misguided. Subverting medicines meant to heal the human body to the opposite purpose was an enterprise doomed to failure. Today’s case is only the latest in an unending effort to undermine and discredit this method of carrying out lawful executions. Another symptom of the problem is the decade-long inability (or perhaps unwillingness) of California state officials to come up with an execution protocol, effectively putting the state’s death chamber out of commission. See Jones v. Chappell, No. CV09-02158-CJC, slip op. at 5 n.7 (C.D. Cal. July 16, 2014). Old age, not execution, is the most serious risk factor for inmates at the San Quentin death row. Then, again, you get odd cases like that of Russell Bucklew, who obtained a stay of execution on the ground that the drugs that would be used to kill him would cause a lingering, painful death. See Bucklew v. Lombardi, 134 S. Ct. 2333, 2333 (2014).

Whatever happens to Wood, the attacks will not stop and for a simple reason: The enterprise is flawed. Using drugs meant for individuals with medical needs to carry out executions is a misguided effort to mask the brutality of executions by making them look serene and peaceful—like something any one of us might experience in our final moments. See Callins v. Collins, 510 U.S. 1141, 1143 (1994) (Scalia, J., concurring in denial of certiorari) (“How enviable a quiet death by lethal injection . . . .”). But executions are, in fact, nothing like that. They are brutal, savage events, and nothing the state tries to do can mask that reality. Nor should it. If we as a society want to carry out executions, we should be willing to face the fact that the state is committing a horrendous brutality on our behalf.

If some states and the federal government wish to continue carrying out the death penalty, they must turn away from this misguided path and return to more primitive -- and foolproof -- methods of execution. The guillotine is probably best but seems inconsistent with our national ethos. And the electric chair, hanging and the gas chamber are each subject to occasional mishaps. The firing squad strikes me as the most promising. Eight or ten large-caliber rifle bullets fired at close range can inflict massive damage, causing instant death every time. There are plenty of people employed by the state who can pull the trigger and have the training to aim true. The weapons and ammunition are bought by the state in massive quantities for law enforcement purposes, so it would be impossible to interdict the supply. And nobody can argue that the weapons are put to a purpose for which they were not intended: firearms have no purpose other than destroying their targets. Sure, firing squads can be messy, but if we are willing to carry out executions, we should not shield ourselves from the reality that we are shedding human blood. If we, as a society, cannot stomach the splatter from an execution carried out by firing squad, then we shouldn’t be carrying out executions at all.

While I believe the state should and will prevail in this case, I don’t understand why the game is worth the candle. A tremendous number of taxpayer dollars have gone into defending a procedure that is inherently flawed and ultimately doomed to failure. If the state wishes to continue carrying out executions, it would be better to own up that using drugs is a mistake and come up with something that will work, instead.

Coincidences in the Dark

While searching for something unrelated I came across a couple of factoids I found interesting.

That two prominent English authors (OK, C. S. Lewis was born in Belfast but you know what I mean) should die on the same day is quite a coincidence in itself but, being an American, I also know that John F. Kennedy died on November 22, 1963. My reason tells me that is an interesting but meaningless correlation, However, there is some ancient, pre-sapient structure in my brain that is saying, "Wow!"

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Beretta Moves Manufacturing to Tennessee

This does not surprise me. It has been building for a long time and I am glad to see it finally happening though Beretta has no plans to move its headquarters -- yet. Hopefully more gun manufacturers will follow suit and disassociate themselves from anti-gun states.

Beretta USA Announces Decision To Move Its Entire Maryland Manufacturing Capabilities To Tennessee

Beretta U.S.A. Corp., located in Accokeek, Maryland, announced today that it has decided to move its manufacturing capabilities from its existing location to a new production facility that it is building in Gallatin, Tennessee. The Gallatin facility is scheduled to be opened in mid-2015. Beretta U.S.A. had previously planned to use the new Gallatin, Tennessee facility for new machinery and production of new products only.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

ET is Impossible?

According to the Bible as interpreted by Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis, ET cannot not exist. Ham recently posted one of the brighter gems in the usual grimy dreck of religious silliness. Entitled “We’ll find a new earth within 20 years” it explains why intelligent aliens cannot exist.

Now the Bible doesn’t say whether there is or is not animal or plant life in outer space. I certainly suspect not. The Earth was created for human life. And the sun and moon were created for signs and our seasons—and to declare the glory of God.

And I do believe there can’t be other intelligent beings in outer space because of the meaning of the gospel. You see, the Bible makes it clear that Adam’s sin affected the whole universe. This means that any aliens would also be affected by Adam’s sin, but because they are not Adam’s descendants, they can’t have salvation. One day, the whole universe will be judged by fire, and there will be a new heavens and earth. God’s Son stepped into history to be Jesus Christ, the “Godman,” to be our relative, and to be the perfect sacrifice for sin—the Savior of mankind.

Jesus did not become the “GodKlingon” or the “GodMartian”! Only descendants of Adam can be saved. God’s Son remains the “Godman” as our Savior. In fact, the Bible makes it clear that we see the Father through the Son (and we see the Son through His Word). To suggest that aliens could respond to the gospel is just totally wrong.

An understanding of the gospel makes it clear that salvation through Christ is only for the Adamic race—human beings who are all descendants of Adam.

I sometimes make fun of religion. There is no meanness intended by this -- I just think there is something strange about an adult having an invisible friend. Maybe I just have a hollow spot where my bump of reverence is supposed to be. That doesn't mean I think religious people are necessarily evil or good or indifferent but it is obvious that some are sillier than others.

That said, I agree that Ham's interpretation is correct given the text and context of the Bible. I just don't buy it. I know there are other sects of Christianity that interpret the plain language of Biblical cosmology in a less than literal manner. I don't buy their hand-waving explanations either. It may well be that we humans will never encounter another intelligent species but that is because the Universe is big place and, I think, intelligence is rare.

Especially rare over at Answers in Genesis.

Monday, July 21, 2014

What to do with Israel

Fred Reed has, in his imitable manner, pared a horribly complex issue down to a set of essential parts. I don't agree with his assessment of all the elements but I do think his conclusion sums up the problem:

All in all, it seems to me that Israel has gotten itself into a horrible situation, hated within, hated without, and hanging by a lobby. What can the Israelis do? Emigrate to New York? Undertake an absolutely horrific ethnic cleansing? Exercise the Antarctica Option? Spend all eternity ducking rockets and bombing neighbors? Live as herdsmen of unwanted Moslems that they have to avoid assimilating?

I don’t see a happy ending. Or any ending.

Read the entire thing at: Whither Israel?

I propose the Parabarbarian Final Solution.

Take some of the Federal land that nobody is using for anything useful and mark out an area equal to or larger than the size of Israel. Call it the "New Jewish Homeland" or some such then let any citizen of Israel immigrate and live there. Pretty simple.

Sure, there are a lot of details that would have to be worked out but, historically, every country that has sheltered the Jews has benefited from that practice. The Ashkenazim are, on average, more intelligent than other ethnic groups and they have a culture that values literacy, education and self-reliance. Instead of being a drain on the country they would represent a net benefit

Possible problems include:

  • American Muslims will resist the idea because they hate Jews.
  • A lot of American Christians will resist the idea because it will interfere with their longed for Armageddon.
  • Some (Most?) Jews may not want to Leave Israel.

In reality, the above problems may be insurmountable -- especially taken together -- but I still think it is an idea worth considering. It would probably be a lot better than Antarctica.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

FedEx Charged for not Looking inside Customers' Packages

FedEx charged with trafficking drugs for Web pharmacies

This is another act in the progressive attack on freedom. Recently, credit card companies were pressured to refuse payments for people the government hates. Banks were similarly pressured to refuse or cancel their accounts. Now delivery companies are being pressured to refuse to deliver goods from businesses the state disapproves of.

The primary goal of this attack it not to prosecute the party allegedly engaging in the criminal conduct. It is to establish control via more compliant victims. This saves the government from having to pursue the real "criminals" (whether the activities in question should be illegal is a separate question) and lets it establish control using indirect means to strangle any business that displeases the Powers That Be.

FedEx is incorporated in Delaware and its headquarters is in Memphis, TN. The indictment is in the Northern District of California. I think this is significant in that high tech companies -- Telecoms, ISPs and hardware manufacturers -- in Silicon Valley will have to take notice. The warning is subtle but clear: Bend over when the government demands it.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Gun Control Parody Site.

Wonderdonkey is a new site but so far the parody is better-that-average clever and funny. Given that at least two Target stores have been robbed at gun point since announcing their no gun policy, this latest one may be prescient as well.

For local meth-heads, Facebook group “Everytown For Gun Safety” known as “EveryTownperson We Can Rob Safely”

Unofficially changing billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s “grass-roots” organization’s name to, “EveryTownperson We Can Rob Safely”, local meth-heads said they were excited how the Facebook groups’ openly unarmed members would increase robbery safety in their town.

“It’s a list of townspeople that don’t have a gun to defend themselves. And they TELL people about it,” gleefully explained meth-enthusiast Dennis Hutchlee. “They’re the best people to rob safely.”

Town meth-devotee Tyler Aingston expressed how this group will change his life. “Yeah, I used to be so nervous about being shot while robbing people’s homes that I actually got a J-O-B and worked to support my meth habit. Not anymore. Thanks, Michael Bloomberg!”

Another gem is this announcement that Fearless Leader is turning the White House into a Gun Free Zone.

To Avoid Being A Huge-Ass Hypocrite, U.S. President Makes White House “Gun-Free” Zone

“Therefore, all Secret Service, military personnel and those individuals previously entrusted to protect myself and my family with firearms, will now be required to just get rid of them. This will make the White House 100% gun-free and everyone will be safer. And it definitely won’t encourage maniacs who now know we can’t defend ourselves,” said the man who is absolutely “walking his talk” and not lying right to your face while trying to sell you some total bullshit that makes you and your loved ones more vulnerable.

H/T to Grant Cunningham .

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Take Back The Streets

Looks like some of the people in Detroit have figured out that fancy words and empty platitudes are not reducing the crime but armed citizens are. What is unusual about this article is that Detroit Police Chief James Craig is giving some of the credit to armed citizen.

Detroit police chief gives credit to armed citizens for drop in crime

Detroit has experienced 37 percent fewer robberies in 2014 than during the same period last year, 22 percent fewer break-ins of businesses and homes, and 30 percent fewer carjackings. Craig attributed the drop to better police work and criminals being reluctant to prey on citizens who may be carrying guns

Time to give an armed citizenry a chance.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Volcanos

I used to think Mount Fuji was about the most beautiful volcano on the planet.

Then I saw this picture of Mount Mayon on the isle of Luzon in the Philippines.

Is Everyone Religious?

This essay was sparked by a post on Ex-Army entitled Everybody's Religious. Normally, I would have just posted a short comment but Google's gstatic is screwed up again so I was unable to. That gave me some more time to think about the question.

So, is everybody really religious? More importantly, am I religious? The more I thought about it, the more I realized the answer to that question really depends on how I define "religion". The definition I have used for decades is a positive one:

A thing is a religion if it asserts the existance of at least one of:
  1. the divine or
  2. an afterlife.

That seems pretty simple and straight-forward to me.

  • Christianity is a religion because it asserts there is a god (or gods, depending on how you count them) and it asserts the existence of an afterlife (resurrection).
  • Islam is a religion because asserts the existence of a single god and it asserts the existence of an afterlife (resurrection).
  • Hinduism is a religion because asserts the existence of a pantheon of gods (in some versions this is conceived of as a single god) and it asserts the existence of an afterlife (reincarnation).

Since either one of the above characteristics is sufficient to to make a religion I can add to the list:

  • Theravada Buddhism is a religion because it asserts the existence of an afterlife (reincarnation) but not the existence of the divine.
  • Sadducee Judiasm is a religion because it asserts the existence of a single god but rejects the existence of an afterlife.

There is a whole lot of human group behavior that does not fit the definition of religion above. For example, line dancing does not assert the existence of the divine nor of an afterlife so it is not a religion. Still, it seems to me that my definition is a pretty generous interpretation of the concept of "religion".

So, am I religious? So far, I find the evidence for the divine and the afterlife is insufficient to non-existent so, according to my definition above, I am not. However, there is a second, even more liberal, definition I infer from some of the half-baked arguments I've read over the years. I call this a negative definition because it does not require any positive assertions:

A thing is a religion of it takes a position on the existence of at least one of:
  1. the divine or
  2. the afterlife.

Using that definition atheism and agnosticism are "religions" (though I think line dancing is still exempt). Both take a position on the existence of the divine: Atheists do not believe it exists. Agnostics say it is impossible to know. A definition of religion that includes atheist and agnostics as "religious" strikes me as woolgathering but it does seem to summarize the arguments from the everybody-is-religious positions I've read.

I am sure there are more combinations of criteria regarding what constitutes a religion. In fact, each of us can define it pretty much anyway we want. So, unless all parties can agree on what a religion is, there is no possibility of rational discourse on the subject.

The pedant and the priest have always been the most expert of logicians -- and the most diligent disseminators of nonsense and worse. The liberation of the human mind has never been furthered by dunderheads; it has been furthered by gay* fellows who heaved dead cats into sanctuaries and then went roistering down the highways of the world, proving to all men that doubt, after all, was safe -- that the god in the sanctuary was finite in his power and hence a fraud. One horse-laugh is worth ten thousand syllogisms. It is not only more effective; it is also vastly more intelligent.
-- H L Mencken, in The American Mercury, January, 1924

*Though the term "gay" was already being used to describe a homosexual male by the 1930s, I am pretty sure Mencken was using it the sense of " having or showing a merry, lively mood."

More on the Evil Spielberg

Yet another (faked) example of the evil that is Steven Spielberg. This time he killed The Last Unicorn.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The NSA Really is Watching Us.

By now I doubt anyone is really surprised at this.

The ultimate goal of the NSA is total population control

H/T to David Codrea.

Spielberg and the Triceratops

When I first saw this on Fakebook I was genuinely puzzled that anyone over the age of seven did not know that the Ceratopsians went extinct about 65 million years ago. Then I remembered that Genesis 1:23-27 claims that man and the "beasts of the earth" were created on the sixth day and there are people who believe that is literally true. It started to make a perverse kind of sense.

Every time I think I finally see the bottom of the pit of human ignorance, someone rises to the occasion and proves that it goes even deeper.

Anti-Hunting Activists Up In Arms Over Photo Of Steven Spielberg Next To ‘Poor Dead Animal’

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Immumeracy in New Jersey

According to a recent "report" broadcast by 101.5 FM to the people of New Jersey using statistics from the Violence Policy Center (VPC), "New Jersey has a gun ownership rate of about 11 percent, and a gun death rate of about 5 1/2 percent, and that is very low,"

Low?

According to Census Bureau estimates , the 2013 population of New Jersey is 8,899,339. Using the VPC figures of an 11% gun ownership rate that equates to 978,927 firearms in the state. Using the figure of "5 1/2 percent" for "gun death" rates that comes out to 489,464 deaths or about 5,500 per 100,000 persons! Even Chicago or Washington DC cannot equal that on their most murderous weekends! It may be possible that Ms. Rand quoted the figure in error or maybe she simply lied. However, why didn't at least one person at the radio station pick up a calculator and check that figure?

I cannot give much credence to someone who is that ignorant of simple, grammar school arithmetic.

H/T to David Codrea and JPFO.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Every 823 Years my Ass.

I've seen this meme is circulating a lot on the Internet. It's bullshit. The fact is that the first three days of any month with 31 days will repeat five times within the month. That means any 31-day month* that starts on a Friday will have five Fridays, five Saturdays and five Sundays. You don't have to wait 823 years for it to happen again, the next occurrence after August of 2014 will be in May of 2015.

* January, March, May, July, August, October and December

Friday, July 4, 2014

Take a Bite out of Malaria

A synthetic sex ratio distortion system for the control of the human malaria mosquito

Behind that pompous sounding title is a pretty clever idea: Use genetic modification to cause the endonuclease I-PpoI to carve up the X chromsome in the male Anopheles mosquito the female of which is the vector for malaria.

Because just indiscriminatly tearing up the X chromosome would kill the mosquito, the researchers genetically modified the enzyme so it is only expressed during spermatogenesis and has a short half-life. Mow a male with the allele would be otherwise healthy but produce little to no viable X-bearing sperm. The goal is not to kill the mosquito but to cause the males to father fewer female offspring. The implications for the anopheles population are obvious.

A precursor to this is the "sterile insect technique" used since since the sixties to eradicate screwfly populations. Large numbers of male screwflies were artificially sterilized and released. The females they mated with produced sterile eggs. The advantage of genetic modification is that it is self perpetuating. Successive generations would carry the modified allele and some males in every generation would produce (mostly) only male offspring.

It may be true that "nature will find a way" and, if attempted, this GMO approach might fail. That doesn't stop it from being a clever idea.

Happy Independence Day!

I live in a jurisdiction where fireworks of all kinds are banned (except for the usual suspects) so here is a brief video on making fireworks from steel wool and copper wire.

Blogger usually chops off part of a embedded video so: link to original.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

What the Heck is a Parabarbarian Anyway?

I get that question occasionally. I usually just ignore it but I must be in an explaining mood.

Many years ago I read an essay by John W. Campbell who was then the editor of Astounding/Analog magazine. In it he discussed the difference between various perceptions of how human groups are organized and managed or ruled. Basically what Campbell did was to describe human society -- just a bigger group -- in terms of three different but commonly understood ideals.

I found this link which purports to be a faithful copy of the original. I cannot vouch for the accuracy but it does match my memories -- such as they are at my age.

Anyways, here are Campbell's divisions. The explanations are my summaries and any way they may differ from Campbell's original intent is my fault.

  • The Barbarian: Does not respond to social control or law in any manner other than might-makes-right. Allegiance is usually to a strong leader who achieved his position by soundly defeating the competition.
  • The Tribesman: Responds to custom and social pressure. Allegiance is to the tribal group and to its customs. Often this is expressed as allegiance to a tribal or religious leader.
  • The Citizen: Responds to authority and generally does as he is told. Usually because he believe that it is a citizen's duty to obey the law. Allegiance is to the nation and its dominant culture.

Bear in mind that the above are ideals and, as such, are standards of conduct or virtue to which an individual might aspire. The above three are pretty much platonic in that purity and reality is almost always messier. A real world individuals may be a barbarian with regard to X, a tribesman with regard to Y and a citizen with regard to Z. Nevertheless, the categories have proved useful to me in understanding why people do or believe some of the things they do. I am an INTP personality type and I used the categories to help clarify my thinking (or belief if you prefer) on various issues where answers are more than just a result of reducing data. They helped me construct a mental framework that cut through a lot of the bullshit.

Somewhere along the line I decided that I wanted a new category that better described my unique combination of the three facets. Eventually, I borrowed a label -- I have no idea where I first saw it -- filed off the serial numbers and applied it to myself. I give you the final bullet point:

  • The Parabarbarian: Respects the law if and only if he considers that law as valid, productive, efficient and effective. He has no automatic respect for institutions and is suspicious of anything other than results. He has a sense of social responsibility but without the burden of cultural loyalty. He sees culture as a social tool and society as a mutually agreeable but otherwise arbitrary arrangement among individual members of a group.

Now you know.

07/04/2014 -- "Obeys the law..." -> "Respects the law..."

Friday, June 27, 2014

Family of Dead Criminal Wants more Gun Control.

In January of 2012, Dante Williams and Jawan Craig attempted to rob a Chesnee, South Carolina Waffle House.

Nineteen-year-old Dante Williams' family said there is no doubt he entered the Waffle House in Chesnee back in January of 2012 intent on robbing it, but they say he didn't have to die.

FOX Carolina obtained surveillance video from inside the Waffle House that investigators said shows Williams and his accomplice Jawan Craig come into the restaurant. Deputies said Williams is the one seen pointing a gun and demanding money.

Fortunately for the would be victims there was a concealed carry permit holder in the restaurant at the time the budding young socialist and his accomplice were attempting the share the wealth. When the smoke cleared, Williams was dead and Craig had fled the scene. The latter was captured later and eventually convicted for his part in the attempted robbery.

The above, by the way, is exactly the kind of defensive gun use that Bloomberg's hireling Shannon Watts claims never happens. Which adds absurdity to tragedy in that the family of Dante Williams is now demanding more gun control. Perhaps they reason that with fewer guns in the hands of peaceable citizens -- the kind of people that will obey the law -- Dante could have had a longer and more successful criminal career.

Dante may have been a victim of bad upbringing, poor education or lack of intelligence but, for whatever reasons, he chose to be a bad guy who lived by the gun. Once he threatened others in that quest, he abdicated any right to not be shot by a good guy whom, I suspect, would have been perfectly happy to not shoot anyone that day. The difference between Dante and the man who shot him in self defense is one the controlists either do not understand or are ignoring in their despotic pursuit.

Libertarians are not Conservatives; nor are they Liberals.

Amy Alkon, the redheaded Advice Goddess, put up a post about how True Libertarians Aren't Conservatives which is a sentiment I wholeheartedly concur with. The comments are instructive once you filter out the extraneous crap about Hillary "The Harpy" Clinton.

She includes a quote from a Cato post on California's Proposition 8. I reproduce part of it here because it helps make my point.

More generally, conservatives agree with Cato on some issues – such as the right to bear arms, lower taxes, reduced spending, free trade, and less economic regulation. Liberals agree with us on other issues – such as immigration reform, drug legalization, marriage equality, and a non-interventionist foreign policy. Does that indicate libertarians are philosophically inconsistent? No, it indicates quite the reverse – conservatives and liberals are philosophically inconsistent. Conservatives want smaller government in the fiscal sphere, but they condone bigger government when it comes to empire building and regulating personal behavior. Liberals want fewer government restrictions in the social sphere, but they embrace strict limits on economic liberties. Unlike liberals and conservatives, Cato scholars have a consistent, minimalist view of the proper role of government. We want government out of our wallets, out of our bedrooms, and out of foreign entanglements unless America’s vital interests are at stake.

Both the liberal and conservative ideologies are group oriented. Liberals believe that "society" or "the public" is a single organism with individuals as little more than cells in a living body. Conservatives believe that "family" or "religion" are the enduring entities and individuals merely come-and-go within those structures. Neither sees the individual as an end in himself.

  1. Liberals want to be your mommy.
  2. Conservatives want to be your daddy.
  3. Libertarians want you to grow up.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Do Hunters Think They are Safe from the Gun Controlists?

Here is an interesting pseudo study from the Violence Policy Center (VPC). On the surface it seems to be just a screed railing against the 50BMG rifles but buried near the end is this policy recommendation:

Military surplus armor-piercing (AP) and armor-piercing incendiary (API) ammunition for .50 sniper rifles is widely and readily available. Although Congress has banned the manufacture of some armor-piercing ammunition, those restrictions apply only to handgun ammunition. The existing ban on armor-piercing ammunition should be updated and expanded to cover all AP and API ammunition. This would most effectively be accomplished through the promulgation of a performance standard in which ammunition is tested for its ability to penetrate bullet-resistant vests, ballistic glass, and armor, as opposed to the existing standard based on the bullet's content. [Emphasis added]

Virtually any center fire rifle round will penetrate a Class IIIA or lesser bullet resistant vest. The Level III vest will stop rifle rounds up to a 308 but is too bulky for everyday use. To reliably stop center fire rifle rounds requires adding a "plate" which is usually only good once. In effect, the ban proposed by the VPC constitutes a ban on almost all rifles including those commonly used for hunting. That last part should alarm those hunters who stay aloof from the fight for gun rights. The Second Amendment is not about hunting but if the victim disarmers succeed in emasculating it, then your hunting rifle will be on the confiscation list too.

National Institute of Justice Ratings for Body Armor

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Gay Marriage?

I don't really get why so many people have such a problem with legalizing gay marriage. I get the "yuck" factor but I don't see it as an inherent evil nor do I understand how it will destroy civilization. Call me an optimist but I don't think Western Civilization is really all that fragile. Maybe that is just because I am not religious. I don't know.

Stripped of its cultural baggage, the civil institution of marriage is a contract -- mostly about the disposition of property. You can write that contract yourself -- it's called a pre-nuptial agreement -- or you can accept the default contract written by your state legislators. In the former case the property arrangements are usually pretty obvious. They are less so in the latter case but they are still there.

A large part of the problem arises because the state gets to define what is and is not a "marriage" and can even change the term of your agreement after the fact and without your consent. It then takes that definition, licenses it and hands out free shit based on it. The ideal would be for the state to get out of the business of defining "marriage" and only become involved when there is a contractual dispute. Once the government is only concerned with the civil aspects of the institution, the churches, synagogues, mosques, etc can perform the rituals according to their own customs.

The reality, of course, is that the individual states are not likely to give up control of marriage anytime soon. Until they do, they are, at the minimum, bound by the highest law of the land (AKA the Constitution and Amendments). Ideally they would operate from a sense of fairness towards all taxpayers but that may be too much to ask.

The Fourteenth Amendment promises equal protection under the laws to "[a]ll persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof". It is a broad guarantee that forbids class-based discrimination by government absent a damned good reason. For example, denying a driver’s license to anyone who is legally blind.

There is a common-law rule of interpretation that powers delegated to the state should be interpreted as narrowly as the language permits. Rights should be interpreted as broadly as possible. The presumption must always be in favor of a right against the actions of government, or immunity against the power of government. (Thanks to Jon Roland for explaining this in term a dumb 'ol engineer can understand).

Gay people pay taxes. According to some sources they pay more taxes per capita than straight people. They also pay these taxes under the same threat of punishment as everyone else. They have no more choice about their taxes than you or I do. That means money taken from gays helps fund the county courthouse and the the clerk's office. It also helps pay the salaries of clerks, judges and justices of the peace. So how the hell can a state deny gays access to services they are being forced to pay for?

Legally and, I contend, ethically it cannot. The government wants to take money from its citizen to pay for a service. Then that government wants to turn around and refuse to allow part of that citizenry access to the service. It has a hell of lot of explaining to do. In fact, the gun controllers are way ahead of the marriage controllers in that regard and you probably already know what I think of the former.

None of the above allows for ridiculous notions like forcing a baker to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. In fact, while the judge may have been interpreting the state law as written, that decision is an insult to basic decency. A private business does have a right to refuse service to anyone for any reason as long as it is the business owner's free choice.

A common objection to gay marriage is that legalizing it would somehow allow a person to marry his dog or his toaster or a child. That is a desperate and foolish argument. The truth is that neither a dog nor a toaster is sapient so neither can assent to a marriage contract. A child after a certain age may be sapient but, until he reaches the age of consent, cannot legally agree to a contract.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Evolution Proves Again it is More Clever Than You Are

This may gross out a few readers but I think it is a potentially valuable lesson. Evolution is not driven by any humanitarian ideals about "progress" of the species but rather by the survival of the individual on a day-to-day basis. Teleology is wishful thinking at best. That said, evolution is a wonderful thing and I encourage everyone to understand it as best he or she can. However, do not look to it for your morality. Let it inform your reason but not rule it.

From Science Daily

Fish-eating spiders discovered in all parts of the world

Spiders are traditionally viewed as predators of insects. Zoologists from Switzerland and Australia have now published a study that shows: spiders all over the world also prey on fish. The academic journal PLOS ONE has just published the results.

Although viewed by ecologists as the classical predators of insects, researchers have become increasingly aware that spiders are not exclusively insectivorous. Certain larger-sized species supplement their diet by occasionally catching small fish. This shows a new study by zoologist and spider expert, Martin Nyffeler from the University of Basel, Switzerland and Bradley Pusey from the University of Western Australia. The researchers gathered and documented numerous incidents of spiders predating fish from all around the world.

Fish as a diet supplement

According to their systematic review, spiders from as many as five families have been observed predating on small fish in the wild and three more families contain species that catch fish under laboratory conditions. These so called semi-aquatic spiders typically dwell at the fringes of shallow freshwater streams, ponds or swamps. These spiders, some of which are capable of swimming, diving and walking on the water surface, have powerful neurotoxins and enzymes that enable them to kill and digest fish that often exceed them in size and weight. "The finding of such a large diversity of spiders engaging in fish predation is novel. Our evidence suggests that fish might be an occasional prey item of substantial nutritional importance," says Martin Nyffeler.

Based on this study, naturally occurring fish predation by spiders has been reported from all continents with the exception of Antarctica. Most incidents have been documented in North America, especially in the wetlands of Florida, where semi-aquatic spiders have often been witnessed catching and eating small freshwater fish such as mosquitofish. In order to catch its prey, the spider will typically anchor its hind legs to a stone or a plant, with its front legs resting on the surface of the water, ready to ambush. The fish will then be dragged to a dry place before the feeding process can begin which usually lasts several hours.

Didn't Hickenlooper Read the Bill?

I mean before he signed it into law.

He blames his staff "...for not anticipating the opposition on gun control." But, if his staff failed him so badly then he hired the wrong people. If he hired the wrong people for his own staff then his competency to be a governor is questionable.

Additionally, he doesn't seem to care that the law is unconstitutional under the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and under Article II, Section 13 of the Constitution for the State of Colorado:

The right of no person to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person and property, or in aid of the civil power when thereto legally summoned, shall be called in question; but nothing herein contained shall be construed to justify the practice of carrying concealed weapons.

John Morse and Angela Giron both lost their positions largely because if that ill-thought-out law Hickenlooper signed. I can only hope the good people of Colorado continue the trend of removing incompetents in the upcoming election.

Colorado governor tries to apologize for gun control measures, blames staff, then curses

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Resistance to Rape

Here is an interesting summary on rape prevention strategies [PDF]:

Women are often advised to use non-aggressive strategies against sexual assault[3]. Research suggests that this is a poor advice.According to one study, women who used non-forceful verbal strategies, e.g, crying or pleading with the assailant were raped about 96% of the time[4].

Forceful verbal resistance, including loud screaming was more effective than non-forceful verbal resistance. These strategies were associated with completion of rape from 44%-50% of the time[5].

Running works even better than verbal resistance. Researches indicate that only 15% of women who attempted to flee were raped[6].

Forceful physical resistance is an extremely successful strategy. The completed rape dropped to 14% when the rapist’s attempt was met with violent physical force. Striking was more successful than pushing or wrestling. Physical resistance also appeared to be more effective when assault occured outdoor[5].

Women who used knives or guns in self-defence were raped less than 1% of the time. Defensive use of edged or projectile weapons reduced the rate of injury to statistical insignificance[7].

To summarize

StrategyPercent of Rapes Completed
Crying or pleading96%
Forceful verbal resistance44% - 50%
Running15%
Forceful physical resistance14%
Gun or a Knife<1%

There are people out there who seem to genuinely believe that women should not be taught to forcefully resist a rapist. In the real world they are wrong. The best way to teach a rapist not to rape is still a sucking chest wound.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

No Country for Free Speech.

There is a preface to scornful statements about England and its politics that starts something like, "The country where Great Britain used to be...". Recently it appears that the English are trying to live up to that implied insult. In April of this year, Paul Weston, a candidate in the European elections, was arrested for "racial harassment" during a speech he was giving. His crime was quoting a passage about Islam taken from a book written by Winston Churchill. One of the audience member was offended by it which, I guess, made it a crime in England.

There is a penchant amongst Westerners to interpret non-Christian religions in terms of race. While I find that a peculiar notion, the fact it exists means I am not surprised that a speech critical of Islam might trigger the English laws about racial harassment. What does surprise me was such an openly political arrest. If it had happened in some third world shithole the liberal intelligentsia would be outraged -- and correctly so. However, there seemed to be little of that.

There may be reasons to be suspicious of Weston and the British Freedom Party and it was probably true that Weston was trying to provoke his audience. That does not change the fact that he was making a campaign speech and was arrested for the content. Arresting him for expressing his opinion in a peaceable manner mocks a fundamental cornerstone of modern civilization. I think that Daniel Hannan sums it up well when he writes:

In a free society, we tolerate eccentricity up to the point of madness, boorishness up to the point of intimidation, obnoxiousness up to the point of incitement.

To which I add: In the country where Great Britain used to be, freedom has become an endangered species.

Friday, June 13, 2014

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Progressives.

In a lot of ways this sums up the nature of "progressivism". The progressive urge is to better the human condition through legislation but it never seriously considers whether you actually want its particular brand of improvement.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

May Your Frustration Grow Ever Larger

And may the fleas of a thousand camels infest your armpits!

Obama: Gun law inaction 'my biggest frustration'

President Barack Obama said Tuesday that it was “stunning to me” that Congress did not take real action to tighten gun laws following the late 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

“My biggest frustration so far is that this society has not been willing to take some basic steps to keep guns out of the hands of people who can do just unbelievable damage,” Obama said during a question-and-answer session hosted by microblogging platform Tumblr that came hours after a school shooting in Oregon.

Read the rest here if you really want to.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Fred Reed Gets It

Mostly.

The Bergdahl Thing

Over on Ex-Army, Rex May (AKA Baloo) asks:

Has Fred Gone Too Far? — You Be The Judge

The only honest answer to that is: Yes, and no.

One big problem I see in the Bergdahl matter is that people are reaching conclusions with a minimum of information. The reality is that we know very little and there is a lot we don't know. Innuendo, speculation and rumor are just not good criteria for reaching a rational and just conclusion. Emotions are a useful guide but facts are what matter and there are precious few facts available right now.

So, by accepting the narrative that Bergdahl was a "deserter" who left because he was disillusioned by the war, Fred does go too far. The truth is that we just don't know what happened nor why Bergdahl did whatever he did.

Nevertheless, if it is true that Bergdahl left his post because he doubted the justness of the war and began to see himself as no better than a hired killer, then I have to agree with Fred's conclusions.

God forbid that soldiers begin to think. Independence of mind is dangerous to militaries. Training is chiefly a means of preventing it. Infrequently a soldier has the courage to see that what he is doing is both stupid and immoral, and walk away from it. Bowe Bergdahl did. I say, speaking as a former Marine in Viet Nam, and as a life member of both the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Disabled Veterans of America: You have my admiration, Sergeant Bergdahl.

The EU Central Bank Divests Itself of Its Last Few Brain Cells.

Europe's Central Bank Is Paying Negative Interest Rates. What Does That Mean?

It means the inmates are running the asylum that exists where Europe used to be. Hopefully the productive class over there will see this as the idiocy it is and, where possible, start moving assets overseas. Those who cannot afford a foreign bank account may just start keeping their money in a mattress.

This is, allegedly, being done to stop deflation but the endgame is more inflation and a weaker Euro. However, inflation cannot trigger sustained growth. At best, it can cause an economic spurt by promoting bubbles that rely on loose credit practices. When the monetary pumping slows or stops those bubble activities go under. They simply cannot continue to fund themselves without a loose monetary policy to sustain them. In reality the only way to keep the bubble pump primed is to keep inflating the currency.

Despite centuries of history on how badly inflationary practices turn out, politicians still have not figured it out. On the other hand, maybe they have. After all, those in power are well-situated to enrich themselves and for decades have been kicking the debt into the future for some other "leaders" to deal with. By then the current crop of parasites will have retired to their villas and will be better insulated from the misery they helped cause.

I'd like to say the productive class deserves better but people do not always get the government they deserve. They do, however, get the worst government they will tolerate.