Sunday, March 31, 2013


The Meme Goes On, and the Meme Goes On

No one doubts the evolution of the words and phrases, the memes, used by alarmist, anthropogenic global warming true believers. What started as straightforward "global warming" hit a roadblock of sorts when the predicted continued warming failed to materialize, now for about two decades. So "global warming" was replaced by "climate change." 

No intelligent person doubts the climate changes. We know that in the past 3 million years there have been a regular series of at least 22 ice ages, each usually lasting 100,000 years, punctuated by interglacial periods usually lasting about 10,000 years. The difference in average global temperatures between these two periods is about 15 to 20 degrees C. The ice ages have nothing whatever to do with CO2 as a cause but result from slight changes in the tilt of the earth in relation to an eccentric orbit around the Sun.

So "climate change" did not serve the purpose of alarming people as change is normal, and not necessarily scary or for the worse. So a few new memes (Climate Disruption, Climate Weirding or Global Weirding) were tried but they failed to take root, so far. Thus the new one: Extreme Weather. Now the alarmist anthropogenic global warming true believers are trying to sell the notion that anthropogenic CO2 is causing more Extreme Weather.

Witness this recent piece by Eugene Linden (BA, Yale, unknown year) in which Mr. Linden states:

Given the lag in the climate system, the extreme floods, droughts, storms, storm surges, and tornado swarms are partly a response to greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere of past years that we have since exceeded.  

The most unsettling thing about the accelerating pace of extreme weather events is that they may signal that even as the momentum in the rise of CO2 makes it difficult to reverse the cause of climate change, we are entering a new period in which change itself comes ever more rapidly.


Most importantly, we need leaders with the courage to steamroll the deniers and the vested interests. After a very short respite greenhouse gas emissions are getting worse....The journal Science just published a reconstruction of past climate that showed that current temperatures are the highest in 4,000 years. Still, this won’t convince the deniers – nothing will – ...

So, for the true believers, Extreme Weather events getting worse and more frequent because of anthropogenic CO2 is the new consensus, the new truth we knuckle dragging deniers refuse to see. Oh, and Extreme Weather change is supposedly accelerating. OK, let's look at some charts regarding the very events Mr. Linden said were examples of the supposedly increasing Extreme Weather: floods, droughts, storms, storm surges, and tornado swarms ( I have to wonder why swarms and not individual tornadoes).

What we expect to see in the charts, if indeed these events are increasing in number and severity, is one of these colored lines, and for accelerating change we expect growth like the green line.

Let's see if this is shown in charts for drought:

It seems that droughts in the 30s and 50s were far worse in severity and lasted longer. There is no evidence of growth of any sort in the number and severity of droughts in America, much less an accelerating exponential growth. Hmmm? Maybe Hurricanes and Typhoons

It seems that both world wide (top line) and in the northern hemisphere (bottom line) there is no increase in the accumulated cyclonic energy which one would think would be a measure of storm size and power. This is just for 40 years however. Hmmm? How about really bad, dangerous tornadoes in the US?

No, the trend is down in the last 50 years. Now to be fair, there are charts out there which show a growth in the number of all categories of tornadoes, but that is largely the result of greater detection with radar and not because there are more than there used to be. If the weather is more extreme and accelerating then the big tornadoes should be increasing exponentially. They are not. Hmmm? How about floods.

Well, there's bad news on that front as there are no charts at all on flood incidence either in the US or world wide. I did find some studies which say regional downward trends in flooding exceed upward trends by 3 to 1 ratio, and there is no upward trend in river flooding in Africa in the past 100 years. So what scientists are saying there are more and worse floods and they are definitely caused by anthropogenic global warming? Google has let me down. All the true believers seem to have to support this claim is that floods are causing more damage. Yeah, and houses cost more and there are more in flood plains and on the coast line than there used to be. How are a higher insurance pay-outs evidence of more extreme floods caused by anthropogenic CO2?

I have also found studies which say: 1) Here we report results on those parameters of which we have had experience during the last few years: Global surface temperature, Cloud Cover and the MODIS Liquid Cloud Fraction. In no case we have found indications that fluctuations of these parameters have increased with time; 2)Here...the long-term trends of indices representing the North Atlantic Oscillation, the tropical Pacific Walker Circulation, and the Pacific–North American pattern are weak or non-existent over the full period of record. The long-term trends of zonally averaged precipitation minus evaporation also differ in character from those in climate model simulations of the twentieth century.

I know it is dry stuff to have to support what you say with actual science, but it would be so helpful if the non scientists writing this stuff would do the 30 minutes of Googling I have done to support my position.



More Hope Than Sense

It appears that in the Senate, the attempt at passing greater gun control legislation will have a narrow focus on a few issues that have polled well. The front runner appears to be more onerous background checks. What very few lawmakers seem to acknowledge is that any law they pass will only be followed by the law abiding. Criminals won't follow them. That's why such legislation is unnecessary and can be counter-productive. If you make through legislation a physical item difficult to obtain, there is immediately a black market availability for that item. Not to acknowledge this is to retreat from reality.

Let's turn our reluctant eyes to the recent tragedy in Connecticut. The evil psychopath who went on to murder first graders tried to buy a gun the week before. He didn't complete the purchase because of the difficulty and delay in obtaining a gun caused by the stringent Connecticut gun control law. The gun haters would call that success. So he murdered the nearest legal gun owner (his mother) with a .22 to her forehead, stole her guns and then killed 26 before self-executing.

Yeah, that's a lot better outcome. Let's see if we can help repeat that scenario nationwide.

Oh, and in this story by the NYT, the reporters say that the results of the police search include a holiday card containing a check for the pathetic loser for a weapon, a C183. The super sleuth police described the C183 as a weapon. There is no such weapon. There is, however, a C 183 Kodak digital camera. The reporter wonders if the 1 is a "typographical" error and instead a CZ 83 (a very nice Czech pistol in .380) was intended. Well, of course, it could only be a reference to a weapon and not a camera. 1 and Z are so close to each other on the keyboard; who hasn't typed a 1 when they wanted a Z? It may be unlikely that a CZ 83 was the object to be purchased by the check, depending on its amount, which was not revealed. The gun goes for $300 to $400, the camera for $65 to $118.

When your only tool is a hammer, everything soon starts to resemble a nail.

Labels: ,

Saturday, March 30, 2013



The New Yorker is touting a study by the Journal of the American Medical Association which shows a clear correlation, state to state, between strong gun laws and less gun fatalities. Here is the study. It is a facile and specious waste of time.

I have to wonder first what JAMA is doing studying gun deaths and a perceived stringency of gun laws in the first place.

Then you also have to wonder why JAMA adds suicides by gun to the murders by gun to reach its conclusions. I'm not for suicide, of course; the Catholic catechisms tell us that the suicides spend eternity away from God, as they've killed someone without the possibility of Reconciliation; but I think it's worse for society that some people murder others. I'm more concerned with the greater harm here on Earth. So I think the only relevant study of the effectiveness of gun control laws (or its near certain ineffectiveness) regards crimes against others, not oneself and God.

And then there's the inescapable fact that adding in suicides helps the statistics give the conclusion that a progressive organization would seem to want, namely, that gun control laws seem effective. It's lonely in states with great big expanses of land but very few people. There is a double digit rate of proportional suicide in five states in America. They are all large states with few people. Is there a correlation there? I have no idea. I know nothing about what causes people to commit suicide. Here is the list:

Rank      State                        Suicide Rate (per 100,000)     Murder Rate (per 100,000)
25          Wyoming                  14.6                                       1.3
34          Nevada                    10.9                                       3.9
36          Montana                   12.8                                       1.8
45          Alaska                      14.4                                       3.2
46          Idaho                        10.8                                       1.1

The rank is the number on the list of 50 states awarded by JAMA for the severity of their gun laws. 1 is very severe indeed (Mass. with 1.7/100k murder rate) and 50 is nearly laissez-faire about guns (Utah with 1.1/100k murder rate). All of these five are below the middle of the list and all of them have very small to at least under the median for murder rates. Inclusion of the suicide rates raises the number of gun deaths in the bottom half of the less stringent gun law states, which is precisely what those supporting gun control laws want to see.

To be fair, the people doing the study point out five problems with the study and admit that they "could not determine if the greater number of laws were the reason for the reduced fatality rates." But the reporter for the New Yorker is pretty sure correlation is causation. He even does the study one better, assuring us that gun control works and he can prove it.

If American had gun laws like those in Canada, England, or Australia, it would have a level of gun violence more like that of Canada, England, or Australia. That’s as certain a prediction as any that the social sciences can provide.

Each of these countries had a heart breaking mass murder of no small size, at Dunblane (in the United Kingdom) at Ecole Polytechnique and at Port Arthur, and two out of three of them involved young students among the murdered. The stringent gun laws in each of these countries did nothing to prevent the tragedies. Nor did Norway's very strenuous gun laws prevent the worst gun mass murder (not during war time) on Utøya Island in 2011. You would think the prevalence of mass shootings of students in other lands would be some evidence of the failure of gun control legislation, but not to the New Yorker crowd and its ilk.

To them we're special in our murderous state and it's the availability of guns which is the problem not the depraved minds of the murderers. 


Friday, March 29, 2013


Iconic Photos

My irony detector started smoking and shooting off sparks.


Thursday, March 28, 2013


Hopelessly Confused

To whom is the "Obey" directed? Usually that's an ironic meme on the left to be wary of what the Government or the elite tells you to do. Shepard Fairey made that famous. Here I have no freakin' idea. Obey the Government which is telling you can't have certain guns and certain sized detachable box magazines? Obey Satan who likes those things? I can't tell.

The body of the poster is an expansion of the old joke: Two graffitti: Jesus Saves! Moses Invests! So it's only a satanic investment to have an AR 15 with a thirty round (normal size) magazine? Oh. Who knew?

If persuasive, logically coherent content were dynamite, this poster couldn't blow its nose.

UPDATE: It is by Shepard Fariey. The star shaped logo in the lower right corner is his at least.

Labels: ,

Monday, March 25, 2013


I'm Not Following the Following

After Diner and Footloose, who doesn't like Kevin Bacon? So I thought I'd give his new TV vehicle a try and I've watched it from the beginning. The Following is about a serial killer and the crew of followers who help him. The killer is played by James Purefoy (who was Marc Antony on Rome), one of the few Brit actors who does not adopt an American accent for his role on American TV. Purefoy was a professor at a mythical college in Virginia and a lot of the show is set in Richmond although they don't actually shoot the show there. He's into Poe. That's a mistake. Although Poe is rightly famous for inventing the short story as we know it, and a few of them, he's really not that deep. He's every schoolboy's idea of the macabre. There's no there there--hardly enough for a semester course, much less for a cult of very dedicated killers.

So the show has a large cast of characters all of whom are unlikable, including the killer's son. The killer's wife is particularly unlikable. I hope he kills her soon. On the bad guy side, Bacon should have shot the pixieish evil nanny (Emma) in the head several times, three episodes ago. But this is how stupid the show is.

The killer is a few days away from execution for the murder and mutilation of 14 college girls. He escapes, killing 5 guards, and he manages to kill the one intended victim who got away before Bacon catches him again. OK, so execute him. Escaping is no reason to stay the execution. They don't need a new trial for the new victims. Off the mother, now! No, he's back in prison and his pending execution is all but forgotten.

The FBI is peopled by idiots, with the possible exception of Parisse and the IT-geek/agent. No one in the bureau seems to have the slightest idea of agent safety including the use of body armor and back-up. They are dying like flies, completely ineffectual flies. The Marshals, prison guards and the local cops are even dumber.

In fact, the whole of the exasperating governmental hierarchy is rigidly stupid, and easily outwitted by complete idiots who follow the English teacher/killer ultra-willingly to their deaths almost exclusively dealt by Bacon, because...

Only Bacon can shoot his Sig effectively.

There are 5th graders who could come up with a more satisfying plot and there is only one plot--escape and capture, capture and escape, over and over and over again.

The show is just plain bad. It is about to slip from 'guilty pleasure' into 'what was I thinking?'



Too Young Soldiers

 An American soldier searches a very young Wehrmacht soldier after his capture near Berlin in 1945. The device on the barrel of the searcher's M 1 carbine, which looks like a very thin suppressor, is rather what the Americans used to launch rifle grenades. The boy being searched would be in his 80s if he has survived.


Saturday, March 23, 2013


Thought of the Day

"Lieutenant Mellas," the kid shouted, "we heard you was back."
It was Fisher [who previously had a leech up his urethra, which the corpsman cut out].
"Jesus Christ, Fisher. I thought you were back in the world. What do we have to do to get out of this fucking place?"
"Beats me, sir. I think we have to get killed."

Karl Marlantes in his very good Viet Nam novel, Matterhorn

Labels: ,


Sirota and the New Tone

Under the rubric of punching back twice as hard, as our President has encouraged us to do, here are my comments on a recent piece by Colorado journalist David Sirota, a far left "thinker" who seems now to work mainly for Salon, the Marion Davies of web magazines, and who didn't last a full 6 months as the left side of a Odd Political Couple AM radio show on 630 KHOW. He is hard to listen to. KHOW did not replace Sirota but changed the format of the show. Now it's just another one man on the right opining. Michael "Hellofajob Brownie" Brown survived the cut. Sirota didn't. That's got to sting a little.

The title of Sirota's work is Paul Ryan Declares War on the Poor. I am aware Sirota might not write the headline but let's start with that anyway. It obviously is not literally true; what Rep. Ryan (R-WI) did was propose a budget that slowly brings down the unsustainable growth of federal spending (while still growing the budget). But look at the bellicose claim. This is what passes for well measured rational political commentary on the left--the other side desires to kill the poor--when actually all Paul Ryan is doing is his job, proposing a budget he feels will actually help. Writing a budget is apparently a job the President seems to have difficulty doing--this year's model is several weeks over due. When President Obama does get around to obeying the law's time limits, his budgets don't seem to garner a single vote in Congress in support. The Democrat dominated Senate hadn't proposed one in years, in violation of statute, and the new one just passed, spearheaded by intellectual giant Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) actually increases the unsustainable spending. But I see I've digressed. Sirota's work has an inauspicious start, but then the real hostile vapidity begins. He writes (apparently) the sub-head:

His budget proposal would only exacerbate our country's glaring income inequality. How heartless can the GOP be?

Wait, I thought we lived in a free society where the only limit to what you can earn is your ability and how hard you work. How can a budget regarding federal government spending of tax revenues (and more, a lot more), cause some people outside the government to earn more and others to earn less? This is a mystery to me. And of course trying to create a balanced budget, something every single American household must achieve to avoid economic disaster, is in Sirota world merely heartless. Heartless and wanting to kill the poor and make the rich richer and make the poor poorer, that's Sirota's intellectual opinion of the right. It's not that the Republican's efforts are wrong headed or mistaken, but they spring from an evil source to do evil things. Well, who couldn't have a civil debate about the federal budget in light of this false, familiar and very dreary name calling?

OK, I'll bite, how does the Republican budget seek to burden and kill the poor? Sirota repeats his name calling in the first paragraphs, saying that the proposed budget does not grow the economy and endorses the war being waged by the rich against everyone else. That's just the charges repeated, of course, and the proof? Sirota only offers supporting quotes from other far left "thinkers" and never from anyone on the right. That's at least some support, but again, so familiar and sooooo boring. Dare to show the other side's arguments at least once per article, David. It's possible for you to do that, right? Your opinion is not so fragile that it can't stand even a moment's contact with the enemy, right?

He points out that the richest Americans (those earning over $380,000/yr) take in nearly 25% of the nations' income (yeah and they pay over 37% of the nation's income tax, so that's fair). He also points out the 'no, duh' banality that those earning a lot of money also have a lot of wealth (go figure) and that those with more wealth to invest have been earning more lately than the rest of us with less wealth to invest. So? Again, in a free society, aren't we able to earn and save and invest as much as we are able? Is it the government's job to limit that and transfer the wealth of the top earners to the bottom percentile? Sirota and his ilk seem to accept that this is precisely the single proper function of the government and such transfers must be part of a budget proposal or the budget proposer is a heartless bastard waging figurative war against the bottom percentile. Sirota and his ilk think we must be socialist and that a capitalist system necessarily wages heartless war against the poor. I reject the unstated basis for this name calling pretending to be reasoned argument, and I hope that a lot of Americans think the same or our economic road leads to the chaos slowly enveloping countries like Greece and Cyprus. Back to Sirota.

Considering this, it is no surprise that the United States is one of the industrialized world’s most economically unequal nations. Just as unsurprising is International Monetary Fund data showing that such acute inequality reduces macroeconomic growth. In light of that, any proposal purporting to create what Ryan calls a “pro-growth economy” should, in part, include policies that aim to make the United States less stratified.

Oh, so his income inequality (my economic freedom) reduces macroeconomic growth. Huh? I see, those who have worked hard and earned a lot of money, don't invest it in other businesses, they just fill their vaults with coin like Scrooge McDuck and swim in it from time to time so that money is out of circulation. And if the poor have more money for cell phones, huge TVs and the like, all is well in the economic world and there is better growth?. Right. OK, so to grow the economy, we have to take more money from those who invest and give it to those that don't invest. That's how you get growth--becoming more socialist. I have vivid memories of the difference in the economic vitality of the ethnically non diverse German people in Berlin in the late 70s on opposite sides of the wall. The only difference was the form of government each lived under, but the results were truly striking. East Berlin was a pit. When has socialist economics ever created greater wealth for all? Socialism does tend to make everyone economically equal, they are all equally, squalidly poor. That's not my idea of a generous heart and it's really not helping the poor merely to make more of them, but I'm apparently waging figurative war against them just by saying that.

What else does Sirota have for support of the claim the Republican budget mostly helps the rich by hurting the poor here in America?

...[the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities] shows, the allegedly “pro-growth” GOP proposes no big cuts to corporate welfare or other subsidies that enrich the already rich.

I'm going to need more than these conclusory statements from a far left group. What corporate welfare? Allowing businesses to deduct business expenses? What subsidies? The federal government makes actual payments of dollars to rich people? Where? What? How? (Normal journalistic questions, I would think). Like the infamous Aid to Families of Independent Means? Doesn't the government tax the rich at a higher rate than it taxes the middle class? (The lower class pays no income tax.) Why yes, as shown above, the income tax on the rich is way more than the rich people's share of taxable income. That would seem to be taking more of the rich people's income, not giving them more. I'm neither seeing nor buying what Sirota is peddling here. But the budget is not the tax code. What non tax "corporate welfare" and "subsidies" is he talking about? I don't think he has any idea; his whole piece is just conflated animosity.

The cuts the Republicans propose in the federal government's unsustainable spending are categorized by the CBPP as coming primarily from “programs that serve people of limited means.” To Sirota, those cuts will stall economic growth rather than free up more money for investment and hiring (generally considered factors that increase economic growth). In what economic universe does welfare payments create wealth and jobs? Not even Keynes would have spouted that nonsense. Welfare recipients rarely hire people or open businesses. Payments to the poor are not and have never been economic stimulus.

Sirota then paraphrases the findings of the "nonpartisan" Citizens for Tax Justice, which has somehow delivered the mainline socialist tax policy view and "discovered that after a decade of trickle-down tax cuts delivered more economic inequality and historically weak macroeconomic growth, the GOP is now proposing a budget whose centerpiece is a proposal to give those with an “income exceeding $1 million (an) average net tax decrease of over $200,000.”" Again the budget sets tax policy? Since when? This is very strange stuff. The tax code is contained in the budget. Who knew? And then Sirota again resorts to name calling-- "heartless" and  "the GOP and its financiers are so committed to a class war..." and the very tired meme that the desire of the Republican party is to sabotage the economy to increase the wealth of the top of their ranks somehow.

But only if one thinks that dissuading those working hard to create wealth in the form of small businesses, our country's source of most employment, and enabling those who create no wealth whatsoever, is the only way to "fix the economy" does one see the necessary reduction in the growth of federal spending, necessary for everyone's good in the long run, as war on the impoverished. It takes a lot of self delusion to get even close to there.

Of course it is much more fun to spend wildly when you're making good money and no fun at all to stop spending as much when you're making a lot less, but pretending that living within one's means is unnecessary will only lead to much less fun, to ruin. The federal government has to cut spending to 18% of GDP because no matter what the tax policy (or budget contents?) that percentage is about all that the feds ever take in. Federal spending is currently 25% and Sirota and his ilk want more. Childlike thinking. It's not a hopeful sign that when one party takes the tiniest of baby steps towards slowing overspending, the other side only impugnes their motives based on either complete economic ignorance or pathological denial or both. Argumentum ad hominem makes it all the more difficult to solve the very real and pressing problem of deficit spending.

See, I got through that without calling Sirota evil once. I wasn't exactly respectful however as he doesn't deserve it for this tripe he has written.


Thursday, March 21, 2013


Mike Lupica is Gun Ignorant

The rabid anti-gunners are wailing that there weren't even 40 votes in the Senate for Democrat Sen. Feinstein's "assault weapon" ban, and it has been dropped, probably forever. They use their favorite word to apply to people who disagree with them about how best to combat senseless mass murder, that is, they call them cowards. The gun haters' idea of cowardice is my idea of common sense.

Enter once again the most passionate anti-gunner and quondam sports writer, Mike Lupica, who generally displays stunning ignorance of guns every time he talks about them. He writes:

Any fool knows that Lanza couldn’t possibly have killed as many children as quickly as he did on the morning of Dec. 14 without an assault weapon in his hands.
Assuming that he means the "assault weapons" contained in Feinstein's quixotic bill, no, only a fool would think that, Mike.
There is nothing especially rapid about the rate of fire of the AR-15 he used. Every semi auto gun fires as fast as you can pull the trigger. There's no inherent advantage in the gun mechanism because our trigger fingers are slower than those machines. Nor is there anything special about the AR-15's lethality. The two hand guns he carried would have fired just as quickly and would have killed the poor victims just as dead.

I'm not sure why Mr. Lupica is so falsely convinced that there was something especially lethal or rapid about the AR-15. He is just as wrong to blame the normal size, 30 round magazines used, as this is what Wikipedia says:

He reloaded frequently during the shooting, sometimes firing only fifteen rounds from a thirty-round magazine.
So much for stopping gun violence by limiting magazine sizes to 15 rounds. Right, Governor? The shooter got off 152 rounds in between 11 and 14 minutes. That's not a particularly high rate of fire, at worst, 14 per minute, and it would certainly be obtainable with pistols, even with revolvers.

Let's compare some recent mass murders.

The evil psychopath in Norway in 2011, killed 69 and injured 110, 55 seriously, with a Ruger mini 14 and a Glock pistol. Neither of these weapons was counted as an "assault weapon" in Feinstein's bill.

The evil psychopath at Virginia Tech in 2007 killed 32 and wounded 17 (before he self executed) using a Glock and a Walther pistol, not with "assault weapons."

Let's go to the stats:

In 2011, in the United States, there were 12,664 murders and of those 8,853 where the murderer used a gun. Of those, 323 were committed with rifles, not "assault rifles" but all rifles--single shot to bolt action to semi-auto but not mean looking and the mean looking ones. So the number of "assault weapon" rifles used for murder in 2011 is necessarily less than 2.5% of all the murders. Not exactly the most pressing gun violence problem out there.

Lupica, like a dog and his sick, returns to his ignorant misstatement.

Again: Ask any gun owner if Lanza could have killed as many children as he did in as short a time as he did — before he was a sure shot putting a bullet from one of his handguns through his snake-filled brain — if he didn’t have an AR-15 in his hands.
Mike, I'm a gun owner. I have many. You wouldn't have needed an AR-15 to get off 152 rounds in 11 to 14 minutes. Using his pistols would have resulted in the same terrible carnage. A new "assault weapon" ban would have had the same effect on preventing future gun free zone massacres that the first "assault weapon" ban had on preventing the Columbine high school massacre. That is, no effect whatsoever.

Labels: ,

Saturday, March 16, 2013


In a Happier Time

Former Congresswoman Giffords (AZ - D) before she was shot in the head. Obviously she thought the dreaded, too dangerous for us weak minded gun owners AR 15 was fine to own and shoot then. She looks pretty happy and her pattern on the target looks pretty good. Does her personal tragedy make her change of heart about this gun a rational argument?

The AR 15 was fine until I was shot by a Glock 19 pistol and now the AR 15 must be banned.

There is no logical cohesion to that. She is unfortunately just a shill for those who want to infringe on our rights by choosing what weapons we, who follow laws, can own. She is, and I'm sorry to say this, a fairly pathetic figure being cynically used and the dose of pity or sympathy she injects because of her status as a gun violence victim is not argument at all but an appeal to irrational emotion. She is merely an argumentum ad misericordiam.
And the parade of parents who lost their children to another mental case at Sandy Hook are too. They can load us up with sympathy and an unwillingness to disagree with those who have lost so much, but their arguments are no more logically persuasive than the arguments of those who have never suffered a gun tragedy. And the arguments of that second group of people are not persuasive to a rationally thinking person at all.



Hairy Star

The PanSTARRS Comet underwhelms naked eye observation. I personally will never see it live, as it has only a few more days of being visible to the naked eye and it's best seen low due west 45 minutes after sunset. I've got the Front Range of the Rockies in the way. Oh well.

The good news is that this one isn't the one that's supposed to be as bright as the full moon. That one's later.

(h/t Astronomy Picture of the Day)


Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Non Habemus Papam

Black Smoke


Friday, March 08, 2013


The Source of My Hostility to Islam

It allows this treatment of women, no, not just allows, fosters.



Madre de Dios!

Hubble infrared photo of extraordinarily dense cluster of galaxies Abell 68, which is 2.1 Billion light years away. This is a leit motiv in the Cosmos, which is mostly emptiness studded with roughly spherical accumulations of matter here and there--planets, suns, star clusters, galaxies and clusters of galaxies. Magnificent.


Thursday, March 07, 2013


Need v. Freedom

I've always disliked the smug question the anti-2nd Amendment legislators seem to always ask about an AR-15 and the like: "Who needs an assault weapon?" In a supposedly free society, no one has to establish his or her need for something  in order to possess it; all you have to have is a desire to possess it. Of course the anti-2nd Amendment legislators don't themselves want an AR-15 and the like, and in their distorted view of the government's role, you shouldn't either. As the left constantly points out, now that the Supreme Court has manufactured a right to abortion out of smoke and shadows, the right of a woman to choose to avail herself to that constitutionally protected procedure cannot be prevented or even slightly modified. But the actually, in-the-Constitution, clearly stated right of the citizen to keep and bear arms, well, the Government can interfere with that by preventing the individual choice of what weapon the citizen chooses to keep and bear. There is no problem with infringing on that right, the legislators think, despite the clearly worded prohibition from doing just that contained in the Amendment.

Yesterday in USA Today, JFK biographer Robert Dallek also used the word "need" in the title of his piece: "America's Gun Culture Needs to Change." OK, I'll bite, why do we need to change? Mr. Dallek bemoans the fact that the imbecilic efforts to stop gun murder, perpetrated by criminals and crazy people, by banning the ownership of certain guns and magazines by law abiding sane citizens, seems to be losing steam (would that were true here in Colorado). Then he asks the recently fashionable question about gun owner's choice to avail themselves to the Constitutionally protected right:

Why do so many Americans, 70 million-80 million according to estimates, see a need to own firearms?
I imagine that many of the 80 million could answer that question with revealed desires to survive an attempt to murder or to harm them seriously, or that they like to hunt or shoot paper targets or a hundred other reasons. For me, the answer is not those. While my children were young, I kept the unloaded guns in a safe and the ammunition in a locked tool box in a different location. I used to joke that if anyone broke into my house, all I needed was 5 or 6 minutes to open the safe and then unlock the ammunition box and then load, and then the burglars were in big trouble. In other words, I put the everyday safety of my children above a rapid (and thus more effective) response to a terrible but rare break-in. Because of that, I could not say I owned guns realistically for self defense. Likewise, I do not have a concealed carry permit and I probably never will. I don't want to shoot anybody even if that means I'm hurt or killed because of my pacifism. That's my choice. (Or perhaps I'm fooling the criminals out there and am loaded for bear all the time).

Nor could I say that all the guns I owned were for hunting (although I do hunt, poorly) or for target shooting (although I do that as well, slightly better) because some of the guns never come out of the safe. I don't need them for anything other than to satisfy my desire, my choice to have them, to keep without bearing them. If we really lived in the free country the founders envisioned, my desire to keep them would be enough. It's not good enough an answer for Mr. Dallek and his ilk. He writes for a while about the idiotic four freedoms FDR actually proposed out loud during the inaugural address of his last term and Dallek focuses on the most idiotic of them, freedom from fear (as if that were even remotely possible--the price of freedom is that people will interfere with your life and property, the price of freedom is crime). Finally, he gets to his point:

By contrast, gun control proponents now voice fear that the easy availability of guns facilitated the horrors of Newtown, Conn., and the many other bloody episodes that captured public attention for a time: the assassination of President Kennedy, the near assassination of President Reagan and mass murders at Columbine, Virginia Tech and Tucson, Arizona, to mention some memorable assaults on the nation's civic peace.
For those of us who cry out for gun control, our fears cannot be eliminated as long as the country remains an armed camp in which the most troubled among us can find ways to appropriate one of the easily available weapons in all our communities.
The answer to our difficulty lies not simply in rules such as the ones Obama has proposed or even the stronger ones some congressional Democrats have advanced.

I'm with him on the last sentence. Bit why do you fear the law abiding 'armed camp' who never commit a crime and never use their guns improperly?What's wrong with you? As the nations who have prohibited citizen ownership of guns have proved, you cannot disarm the criminals with words on paper. A legislative prohibition of something has never been the answer here in America for things people actually wanted--not alcohol, not drugs, not sex--not nothing. You think legislators would have twigged to the fact that legal prohibitions are only effective against the law abiding and that trying to stop criminal behavior by prohibiting certain guns will necessarily fail because criminals by definition don't follow the law. The legal prohibition will only disarm the good guys. Mr. Dallek has something else in mind.

It is not enough to tell gun advocates that more firearms in the hands of responsible citizens in public places is not the answer to their fear. To successfully deal with our fears, we have to acknowledge and deal with the fears of those who most fiercely oppose gun control.

Why aren't more firearms in the hands of responsible citizens in public places the answer to the fears of gun killings? Certainly armed police officers, which the left sometimes applauds, are just that, armed responsible citizens in public places. One of the real problems with Mr. Dallek's whole argument here is that some gun owners, like myself, don't own guns out of fear. We own guns out of affection. We like them.

I'm willing to bet that fact doesn't compute in Mr. Dallek's world view. Let's see if I'm right.

We must engage with the fear of our government that was both necessary for our nation's founding and has become more and more an impediment to our nation's evolution away from loosely organized frontier colony to a vibrant information-age superpower.

I have no idea what he's really saying here. Of course, we rebelled against the tyranny of the British Crown, but we seem to have replaced that historical tyranny with an onerous and expensive government that has become ever more onerous and expensive over time. I think it has become too onerous and expensive, but perhaps that's only me (and about 60% of the country's citizen). How has fear of too oppressive a government been an impediment to our nation's evolution? What has our collective "fear" prevented? As I said, I have no idea. He's not done, however.

The challenge for this generation of Americans is to address not only our own fears by curbing access to guns, but also to reassure the country's most devoted gun advocates that their government is not after them.
What? Curbing citizens' access to guns (necessarily infringing on their freedom) isn't going to curb anything other than lawful gun ownership by law abiding citizens. And it's difficult to reassure the gun lovers that the government is not going after them when the federal and state governments are busy going after them by criminalizing their access to certain guns and magazines. Is Mr. Dallek unable to see this? That's very difficult to believe. He's probably not an idiot.

His next paragraph causes me to question my last sentence but I'll skip over it and go to the apparent meat of his argument.

Local and national authorities need to find ways to assure Americans that a safe society is one in which well-trained law enforcement is the best answer to controlling crime and assuring safety.

So, in Mr. Dallek's world view, the safest society is where the police alone legally have firearms. Like in the USSR or Germany in the late 30s, for example? Well, obviously putting firearms only in the hands of the government is not going to be reassuring to those citizens who fear too powerful a government. Indeed, that would necessarily cause those worried about government tyranny to have greater fear. Again, I have to ask again can he not see this? Obviously he can as he lists next three valid arguments against arming the government alone. But then there's the big finish.

No one should assume that a shift in attitudes is easily achieved. This is a challenge as great as that the nation faced in Reconstruction after the Civil War and as far reaching as the transformations of Germany and Japan after World War II. But changing people's minds is essential if the nation is to find common ground on reducing gun violence and lifting the pall of fear that drives so many into an unholy alliance with guns.

OK, the three examples he chooses of changing the attitudes of gun owners are the aftermaths of  the US government waging war against, and utterly defeating, the Confederate States, Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. Those are examples not likely to curb the fear of a tyrannical government coming after law abiding people. By choosing these bellicose examples does Mr. Dallek unconsciously advocate the federal government waging total war against the gun owners? It's difficult to come to a different conclusion. He certainly advocates getting gun owners' minds right about gun ownership, which he sees as a fear driven "unholy alliance." Certainly those who seek to live moral and ethical lives would not want to be driven by fear into an unholy alliance. That's bad.

I have to admit that I don't want to have Mr. Dallek and his ilk get my mind right about gun ownership. If he doesn't like gun ownership, he doesn't have to own one. I'm not in any way infringing on Mr. Dallek's freedoms and rights by having guns locked up in my safe. I'm not in any way infringing on Mr. Dallek's freedoms and rights when I am using my guns against paper targets or regular and giant deer. (That last sentence was added to answer a cheeky question by a rare reader). Why does he feel the need to infringe on what I like to do and own? Why does he seek to prevent me owning any gun I want and can afford? Uh ho, now I'm beginning to fear his anti-2nd Amendment, tyrannical infringement on my rights.

Good job allaying our fears, Mr. Dallek.

Labels: ,

Monday, March 04, 2013


Getting the First Inkling of a Clue

Some Millennial has stumbled upon what used to be an integral part of American success.


Saturday, March 02, 2013


Nearer Miss

Trail of the Chelyabinsk Meteoroid which exploded in the sky over Russia on February 15, 2013. Since a 50 meter Asteroid was passing by at the top of our atmosphere on the same day, I immediately thought this was a fellow traveler to that near miss. The guys who actually know astronomy say it was from the Apollo Asteroids, whatever they are. An airburst of a meteor or comet count as a strike. I respectfully disagree.

Disintegrating in the atmosphere is different from actually hitting home and leaving a crater. So we were nearly hit by two completely different rocks coming from different directions. That's a little scary. And even more scary that we never saw this one coming. Still, there can be beauty in a natural disaster, a kind of the terrible beauty in all nature.

I know Russia is the largest country on our planet but this one and the Tunguska explosion in 1908. Coincidence or Targeting?

(h/t Astronomy Picture of the Day)



Stanley Speaks

Multi-Billionaire, former Soros strategist (and High School friend) Stanley Druckenmiller is talking to the press about the serious problem he thinks we are missing. While most of us are suffering anxiety from the combined federal debt at $16 Trillion plus and the parade of horrible hysterics the spenders muster when the Republicans even try to slow the growth of spending in a very modest way, Stan says the real problem is the unfunded liabilities of Medicare and Social Security, etc. the total of which he puts at $211 Trillion.

That is a lot more than $16 Trillion.

Even though I still know absolutely nothing about economics, I'm declaring that I'm with the Austrian School, all the way.

So there.

Good to see Stan, if not finding his voice, at least broadcasting it on an issue he has the expertise to see more broadly and clearly than us multi-hundred thousandaires can.

Keep it up, bud.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?