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%
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


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.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

FDA Bans Wooden Shelves for Aging Cheese.

What the heck is this crap?

Game Changer: FDA Rules No Wooden Boards in Cheese Aging

A sense of disbelief and distress is quickly rippling through the U.S. artisan cheese community, as the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this week announced it will not permit American cheesemakers to age cheese on wooden boards.

Do the idiots at the FDA know that the fine wine and liquor they are sucking down at their parties are aged in wooden casks?

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Nature of God

I rarely post anything about atheism here. I have no particular reasons for avoiding it but my atheism is like my hair or my teeth -- I've had it for a long time and, with reasonable care, I'll have it until I die. However, when I tire of writing about the important questions out there I sometimes fall back on it.

About a month ago, I made a tongue-in-cheek comment on Facebook combining two commonly asserted characteristics of God with the nature of evidence.

Assume God is both omniscient and omnipotent

An omniscient god would know what evidence would cause me to believe in it. An omnipotent god would be able to provide me such evidence. But God does not provide me the evidence so:

  1. God is not omniscient or
  2. God is not omnipotent or
  3. God does not want me to believe in It or
  4. God does not exist or
  5. God is just being an asshole.

To which someone replied:

Just to nitpick you forgot a possibility: The point could be for you to believe without proof (best definition of faith i've ever heard) for some reason. Or perhaps God reveals himself to you all the time and you simply miss it.

Just to play white devil's advocate over here

Fair enough but I didn't miss those possibilities so much as I excluded them.

My argument is deductive and belief without any evidence whatsoever (faith alone) would necessarily exclude any such logical process -- Credo quia absurdum! If God has a choice in the matter (It may not) and is truly omnipotent then It would not have to obey any rules at all. Even the rules It insists we humans obey. If God is revealing Itself to me in ways I do not recognize what does that tell me about the nature of God? Not much really except It chooses to not reveal Itself. Which is the point.

The part about God being a asshole was deliberately flippant because, even if I assume the reports are reliable, there really is no reason to assume that God is playing an honest game. Heck! maybe the whole salvation thing is a con and our reward in the afterlife is determined by when we die -- odd numbered souls go to heaven, even numbered souls go to hell. I am not aware of any conception of God that requires It behaves as we humans expect.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Another Useful Idiot Heard From.

This time in the Philadelphia Weekly:

Guns Do, In Fact, Kill People

Only the useful idiots on the gun control side are interested in public safety and probably not all of them. The real leaders, however, are interested in controlling the public. Controlling you right down to what size soft drink or potato chips you can buy. So at what point are symbolic feel-good laws more important than our Constitutional rights? In the gun control narrative that happens whenever some self-righteous schmuck decides he is scared or offended. In mine: never.

I remind you of this adage from the Armed, Godless Heathen:

Of course I carry a gun! It gives me a chance against the sinners and protection from the righteous.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Edward Snowden Wins "Champion of Freedom" Award.

I lot of people are hating on Snowden calling him a traitor or accusing him of being a spy but I am glad he is getting some positive, public recognition. Of course he couldn't attend without risking arrest but his father, stepmother and attorney were there to accept on his behalf. Bruce Schneier presented the award.

Edward Snowden Wins EPIC "Champion of Freedom" Award

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

If you like your plan, tough shit!

Analysts predict most employer-provided insurance will disappear as ObamaCare takes hold

Across the political spectrum, analysts now say that 80 to 90 percent of employer-provided insurance, the mainstay of American health coverage for decades, will disappear as Obamacare takes hold.

The research firm S&P IQ predicts less than 10 percent of those who get insurance at work will still get it there ten years from now.

"The companies will really be hard pressed to justify why they would continue to have to spend the kind of money they spend by offering insurance through corporate plans when there's an alternative that's subsidized by the government" said Michael Thompson, head of S&P IQ.

Read the rest here.

Health care costs in America are too high. What many people do not realize is a major reason for this is all those "socialized" or "single-payer" programs in other countries work because Americans subsidize them through higher prices for drugs and hospitalization. Transferring the burden of an excessive cost around as Obamacare promises does not cure this underlying problem. In fact, it will not even effectively mask it because it will drive deficits even higher.

When the spin doctors try to tell you that this will be good for people and that there will be more choice, they are mistaken -- or simply lying to you. A forced transaction never leads to better prices and more choices. It will always put the customer at a disadvantage and will always cost more. That is in the nature of the monopoly-style controls that exist now and Obamacare promises to perpetuate.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

What Fourth Amendment?

Private pilots say border agents go too far

WASHINGTON — The young pilot from Miami was trying to impress a woman with a lunch trip to Key West.

The 45-minute flight was just long enough to take in the scenery, but not so long that Aron Banks had to worry about lulls in the small talk. In the air, the 23-year-old explained how his plane’s avionic system works. He pointed to the blue and turquoise waters. His date admired the shapes of the rip currents.

Everything was great until they landed in Marathon, Fla. That’s when, Banks said, federal agents with body armor and assault rifles surrounded him and his plane.

Read the rest here.

Except under very narrow circumstances, you need a license to operate an automobile or airplane in the US. The mere fact that we Americans have allowed the government to require a license to drive a car or fly a plane makes operating either a privilege. You may have a right to travel but you do not have a right to an effective means of doing so. This combined with the war on drugs/immigration/whatever has pretty much made any rights we Amercians think we have moot when traveling. When it comes to automobiles and probably airplanes as well, the Fourth Amendment may not be dead but it is in a judicially induced coma.