Friday, November 26, 2010

"Oh, it's not so bad..."

Marian Anderson on the "separate but equal" provisions of US segregation laws:

Somebody doesn't always come right up to you and say, "You can't have this, you can't have that,"...It's just as though there's a hair that blows across your face. Nobody sees it, but it's there and you can feel it.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

It's lonely behind the sofa.

Much like the law of conservation of ninjutsu, there's clearly a Law Of Inverse Dalek Scariness, though it's not strictly linear.

One Dalek is scary. Two Daleks are scarier. Three Daleks are scarier still, but diminishing returns start to set in. By the time you get to half a dozen Daleks, it's clear that the Doctor is going to come up with some clever or technobabbly solution that neutralizes all of them at once.

Come and knock on our door...

Along with our shocking success dismantling gun control in the US, these days we're also seeing what might--might--be the very earliest hint of the old anti-polygamy laws beginning to erode. Starting yesterday, Canada's Supreme Court has been hearing testimony in a case challenging the constitutionality of their marriage law, which was written to dissolve the marriages of Mormons fleeing to Canada to escape persecution in the States.

The Stop Polygamy in Canada blog* has been covering the proceedings from their charming perspective on the side against equal protection under the law. They report that Craig Jones, the British Columbia AG's attorney, is walking a very, very fine line, trying to argue that the law doesn't target a religion, while also trying to insist it only applies to Mormons:

- Most challengers of s. 293 propose the broadest possible definition; grey areas include same sex multiple partners, polyandry (rare), and polyamory claiming that they practice “good” polygamy.
- Polygamy must be restricted to polygyny and not polyandry, polyamory, etc.
- Almost all of the harms that we are going to demonstrate are the harms of polygyny.
- Legislators often use a general term to mean a specific term; e.g. polygamy = polygyny; laws about animal abuse—animal does not mean human.

So. If I read this correctly (and I haven't been able to track down a more reliable source yet, so grain of salt), he's suggesting that Canada's prohibition on polygamy is acceptable, because it would only apply to the "bad" kind of polygamy: polygyny. Which would seem to mean that a man could marry a man and a woman, or a woman could marry two men or two women, but it would be a crime for a man to marry two women, or a woman to marry a man and a woman.


This is starting to make US gun laws look straightforward and well-crafted.

[* - It's one of those things you see a lot of when you're a New Jersey gun owner in a sexual minority: groups of narrowminded busybodies that exist solely to slander you, equate you with monsters, and advocate for undermining your rights.]

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Gonna buy me a Thompson 'chine gun...

Paul Helmke, president of the anti-gun Brady Campaign, is trying to revive the "assault weapon" meme*. Not that I blame him; if my organization hadn't had a win in sixteen years, I'd probably grasp for whatever worked last, too. The problem with the "assault weapon" meme, though, is that it can't work the same way again. The ban was passed in 1994 largely because the Bradies managed to use implication, innuendo, and outright lies to convince the public that the AR-15s, AK-47s, and Uzis they were targeting were fully-automatic military machine guns, when in fact they're ordinary semiautomatic civilian firearms. Today, AR-15s are so overwhelmingly popular that most Americans outside the super-liberal enclaves own one or know somebody who does. Between that and the internet, the Bradies can no longer conceal the pedestrian nature of these guns.

That means the only way forward is a new strategy: trying to convince people that pedestrian guns are so ultra-deadly that we need to add more restrictions to the mountain of US gun laws:

No, the NRA bosses are all tied up in knots because [hardcore Illinois gun-ban advocate and President Obama's choice for ATF director Andrew] Traver didn’t make it clear enough to the TV audience that a fully automatic weapon (like the one the reporter apparently blasted) can get a few rounds out more quickly than a semi-automatic and is not as readily available to the general public (although they would like it to be).

Yes, amazing, but true. The NRA bosses, who use the cover of law-abiding hunters and gun owners, now seek Traver’s scalp over a difference that has little distinction.

Semi-automatics are only a little less deadly than fully automatics.

It's rare that I can say this, so kindly imagine a blaze of trumpets here:

I agree with Paul Helmke.

Fully-automatic firearms are only trivially more effective at their job than semiautomatics, if at all, because full-auto fire is very difficult to aim, and for the most part just makes you miss faster. And if you're concerned about stray fire, remember that a dirt-common pump action hunting shotgun can blast out .32 caliber projectiles much faster than any Skorpion that ever haunted Diane Feinstein's nightmares. As full-auto enthusiasts like to say, they're machines for turning money into noise. The primary applications of full-auto firearms are military suppressive fire (which isn't intended to hit a target), and making your light AR-style carbine do a passable shotgun impression at very short ranges. For all practical purposes, a select-fire military AR and a semiauto civilian AR are the same weapon.

Of course, this isn't an argument for stricter gun control. If Americans aren't prepared to ban all the ordinary civilian semiautomatic rifles we've been using for a century (and believe me, we're not), then this line of reasoning in fact demonstrates the absurdity of the 1934 National Firearms Act's extremely strict machine-gun control. If the difference is so slight, it most certainly doesn't call for federal intervention that restricts expression of a Constitutionally protected human right.

I don't actually advocate for overturning the NFA in real life. Whatever the reality of the situation, machine guns are very, very dramatic and scare the crap out of the mainstream. Large numbers of smart, generally gun-friendly people find that machine guns fail their sniff tests. It doesn't matter how right we are; we're just not going to overcome this perception right now, and ignoring that reality can only give the anti-gun crowd the traction they've been desperate for. And frankly, that's not the end of the world. The machine gun restrictions are stupid, but by the nature of their uselessness they leave us all the alternatives we need to fulfill the ends of the Second Amendment. But man, if we ever get around to fighting that battle, it can't possibly hurt to have the president of the Brady Campaign on record saying that machine guns are basically the same as "normal" guns.

[* - Or, more likely, he thinks it's a good way to fill some blogspace and appeal to the dudes who decide where Joyce Foundation grants go. Being president of the Brady Campaign is probably the easiest gig in Washington, so even though it's obviously doomed, who can blame him for trying to stretch it out as long as possible?]

Friday, November 19, 2010

Let me tell you how it will be...

Just a damned minute.

So Browning can sink the development and tooling capital into producing a .22 caliber 1911 that, for some incomprehensible reason, is shrunk to 80% size, but no gun company can afford to engineer a smaller-framed revolver for the .327 magnum cartridge?

Come the hell on, people! This is a good cartridge, with the potential to revitalize revolver carry much more than an expensive plastic frame, or a bolted-on laser. It's being wasted just squeezing another round into .38 sized frames.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

WAR-- Hunh!

likes to point out, when some Americans get to using "liberty" as a synonym for "conservatism", that our reluctance to ever question military spending might just be contributing a bit to the tax burden that preoccupies conservatives.

The Telegraph has up an infographic about US military spending. And it's an infographic, so there's obviously some simplification going on. But still, seriously?

The US spends more on its military than the next 19 biggest spending nations combined.

There's no earthly way you can justify spending that much on the military unless you're at war with the world. And man, any time you find yourself at war with the world for half a century, it's probably time to reevaluate your foreign policy. Because at that point, your sphere of influence is probably so big the Vandals will start finding nice, big holes in your defenses.

I'm super, thanks for asking

It's an unfortunate fact of the gun rights community that, along with the folks who care passionately about liberty, we also have a handful of people who love authoritarianism as long as it only oppresses the choices they don't like.

Case in point. Uncle points out the historical context shared by segregationists, gun controllers, and anti-gay advocates. The internet belched this back:

And a funny thing happened on the way to our new Gay States of America: As the vote on Prop 8 in California showed, most brown and black members of the Rainbow Coalition are not terribly fond of the idea of gay marriage in particular and homosexuality in general.

Buddy, respecting gay Americans' right to marry doesn't make us the Gay States of America any more than respecting your right to speak makes us the Asshole States of America.


In case anybody's interested, the text of our wedding ceremoy and vows is online.

I wouldn't ordinarily go in for such self indulgent wedding-blogging, but ours was, after all, 50% cuter than the average wedding.

Life's but a walking shadow

So. CBS News is pimping their poll, which they claim shows that 81% of Americans approve of the TSA's new policy of electronically strip searching passengers, and groping those who refuse.

And you know what? I'm completely in favor of it. In fact, I think the TSA should start doing actual strip searches, in public, along with a body cavity search. Assholes on the internet (and in the TSA, and in Congress) keep saying "we need to provide the best security"--well, you can't have the best if you don't go all the way, can you?

People are far, far too willing to give up liberty for safety, and our government has become very, very good at eroding liberty so slowly that people don't get outraged enough to do anything about it. The way the modern federal and state governments piss on the Fourth and Second Amendments, the way modern urban cops abuse and intimidate citizens, the routine, casual, and open disregard the feds show every day for the Constitutional limits to their powers... We've fought revolutions over shit like this. But bring it on slowly over the course of a century, and people accept the safety-and-security excuses and think it's normal.

It's only when a government bureau sets new records for rampaging corruption and disdain for the citizens they "serve" that anybody takes enough notice that our rulers are forced to overcome institutional inertia and castrate the offending organ of the state. If the TSA backs down on the strip searches and goes back to "merely" stealing from luggage, imprisoning people who decline searches, keeping secret lists of citizens, and doing "regular" pat-downs of anybody who displeases them, people will lose interest.

Hell, take away the TSA Retaliatory Grotchgrab that's starting to get people really pissed off, and everybody but those crazy fringey libertarians will probably be totally chill with the electronic strip searches at every airport, police station, and courthouse in the US in a half a decade or so.

So go, go, TSA! Cling to the belief that you're the only line of defense between the great horde of ungrateful slobs and a world of terrorists who'd kill 'em all without your vigilance! Keep secure in the knowledge that you know what's best for them, and that anything you want to do is justified. For security. Damn the "civil rights" whiners, brothers, and full steam ahead.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

From Russia with Love

Though less well known today than the iconic Colt Single Action Army, the Smith & Wesson Model 3 is every bit as much a classic American handgun. The Model 3 was a top-break revolver, which automatically ejected all spent shells on opening, a significant advantage over the one-at-a-time ejection and reloading of the Colt. And while the .44 S&W cartridge wasn't in the same league as Colt's powerful .45 round, it was solidly in the range of modern defensive ammunition, and more powerful than most other revolvers of the time. Tastes and beliefs about its relative simplicity and reliability made the Colt slightly more popular in the domestic big-pistol niche, but the Model 3 is a fine gun, and enjoyed respectable success among American soldiers, frontiersmen, and target shooters.

While it lived in the shadow of Colt's revolver back home, the Model 3 was a superstar overseas, where it was adopted by foreign militaries and widely copied by foreign manufacturers; a full two thirds of Smith & Wesson's first-decade production of the revolver was made for export. It was eventually selected for issue by the Imperial Russian army, which requested a handful of changes to the design. The most significant were a switch from the .44 S&W cartridge to the new .44 Russian, and the addition of a dramatic spur to the trigger guard:

From General interwebs

[image source:]

The new cartridge was an unqualified improvement. The trigger spur, not so much. Elegantly Victorian as it looks, and as much as it makes me want to load up a train of porters and set out for Kukuanaland*, its usefulness is dubious, to put it generously. The Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson describes it thus:

It certainly makes the gun very difficult to cock without changing the hand's position on the grips, unless the shooter is endowed with orangutan thumbs.

There are several hypotheses about the utility of the trigger guard spur. Some contend that it was simply a rest for the middle finger of the shooting hand. Others have reported that it was utilized as a hanger, to secure the pistol when tucked through a waist sash. Bill Powell reports a theory that it was originally called a Parry guard, intended to allow a revolver-wielding Cossack to deflect a saber slash with his sidearm and still retain all his fingers. My personal favorite, at least in terms of creativity, is the theory that military tactics of the time called for cavalry to charge with revolvers already cocked, and the spur provided a gripping surface for the trigger finger in such a situation (don't try this at home!). Be that as it may, the spur was often considered cumbersome by American users, and specimens are not infrequently found with this enhancement lopped off.

A feature specifically added to an already well designed gun, which gives a very minor advantage at best and harms the gun's ability to do its primary job well. All par for government work, but why did they keep it up? Imperial Russia ended up buying well over a hundred thousand of these revolvers, and never listened to all the shoters who told them it was getting in the way of efficiently recocking the gun?

I never understood this until this morning, when I was linked to a post at Backyard Safari about Russian pistol stances. The blog is auf Deutsche, but the gist of it is that Russians followed a pretty questionable pistol doctrine before the Revolution:

From General interwebs

That there is not a man who's especially concerned with quick and accurate followup shots. I've been told that most of the world didn't take handgun marksmanship as seriously back then as the Americans and British did, and this does little to dispel that perception. If all you're concerned about is looking elegant while you slow-fire at the Gospodin Outdoorsmen's Social Club, a triviality like actual combat effectiveness is unlikely to cause you much insomnia. There may also be a hint of the reason for that spur:

From General interwebs

Those are definitely not Model 3 Russians, but there's still something weird going on with the shooters' middle fingers. The image and era would suggest they're probably Nagant revolvers, which don't have trigger-guard spurs. Anybody have any idea what's up with that unusual grip?

[* - Yes, yes... Allan Quatermain carried a Colt. Sue me.]

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I... I...

One of our wedding guests, an attorney, just sent along an incredible message:

"Please tell Genvieve, Michael, and Danielle that my gift to them will be drafting a legal document that enables all of them to have equal protection in issues of property, illness visitation, and substituted judgment. It would not be a standard document, obviously, since the commitments they have made to each other are not the standard kind of commitments..."

I don't know what to say, except that I'm extraordinarily grateful.

Monday paleo update

Eight weeks in now, and as expected, the wedding weekend has wrought havoc with my progress. The unpaleo feasting has resulted in a gain of four pounds since last Monday.

As of today, I'm back on the paleo horse, where I expect to be permanently. With any luck, I'll be back on track soon.

I'm now twice as married as when last I blogged.

Many, many thanks to all our friends, whose support has meant the world to us.

Also to our supportive family members, whose love and acceptance we treasure.

And of course, to Viktor Devonne, our friend, officiant, soundtrack mixer, dancemeister, and all-around seneschal, without whom the ceremony would have been considerably less awesome.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wedding in T minus two days and counting.

Everything is is readiness.

And damn, you just can't not look good in a waistcoat, lemmetellya.
It's probably a sign that I've spent too long scanning database entries when my brain starts reading "incomplete" as "Paraguay", isn't it?

Turning and turning on the widening gyre...

It's Veterans' Day. Take a minute to remember the fallen and the unfallen.

That also means it's Armistice Day, now the ninety-second anniversary of the end of the War to End All Wars. Take a minute to remember the lessons we've learned about war and history since then.

Something is still slouching towards Bethlehem today, but I doubt anybody alive really knows what it is.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Guilty Pleasure Guns

Jay at MArooned posts about his guilty pleasure guns, firearms he'd love to own even if they're useless or silly. Predictably, he's getting lots of replies. Guns are pricey, so not many of us can afford to buy them "just because", but a lot of us are obsessive enough to have a won-the-lottery wishlist.

Off the top of my head, my list of useless but awesome guns looks a bit like this:

- A Freedom Arms revolver in .454 Casull. Hand artillery. It's no longer the "world's most powerful handgun", but who cares? And it can chamber the lighter .45 Colt cartridge for those times when you don't want to punish your wrists for their sins.

- A Ruger No. 1 in .450 Nitro Express. A shoggoth gun. I will never have any earthly need for a rifle this powerful, and if i did, it would be met better by a modern .50 BMG rifle. But nothing beats the retro charm of the Nitro Express line. [If we're talking serious fuck-the-world money, make this a handmade bespoke double rifle, instead.]

- While we're talking about expensive old-man guns: a handmade bespoke side-by-side shotgun, with some understated engraving. Again, there's no earthly need. If I'm taking up fowling or clay shooting, a cheap Stoeger over-under fits me like a glove. But man, I covet the art guns of the Gin and Tonic Hunters' Society.

- Down the class scale a bit, I have an insane and irrational love of sawed-off shotguns. I want a set of three: an over-under, a side-by-side, and a single-shot. There's a very good chance at least one would be in 20ga. In a just and sane world, this would be a cheap arts-and-crafts project. The world being what it is, I'll need to ask the ATF for permission and move out of New Jersey.

- Way, way, way down the scale of practicality, I want a North American Arms mini-revolver. Danielle has one, and it's pretty neat. But hers is chambered in .22 magnum, and is already a distressingly weak handgun. Me, I want the version chambered in .22 short. It's tiny, weak, and nearly useless for any purpose whatsoever, and I freakin' love it. Thumbing those bitty little cartridges into the cylinder puts a big, dumb smile on my face. If money was really no object, I'd buy it a laser sight, a shoulder stock, and a tiny little bayonet.

Phnglui wgah'nafh R'publc-ans R'lyeh w'gah-nagls fhtagn...

"US Republican mid-term victories doom Planet"

That's the title, verbatim, of an article over at "Media With Conscience".

I won't comment on the content of the article, except to say that when you look at your monitor and realize you've just typed the sentence "It is not hyperbole to suggest that the Republican mid-term victories spell doom for the Planet", it's very likely time to take a step back and reevaluate your approach to your advocacy.

Last minute preparations

I know it's only three days to the wedding, but I really think Danielle should order a new dress. [NSFW]

Her current dress is red anyway, so it's practically the same thing.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Wedding in T minus four days and counting.

I consider myself blessed. It's a very lucky person whose friends and family are so overwhelmingly supportive of his family, alternative as we are.

But are we all that alternative, really?

Abraham had Sarah and Hagar.
Jacob had Rachel and Leah and Bilhah and Zilpah.
Esau had five wives.
David had at least eight.
Gideon had so many wives, they bore him 70 sons.
According to the Book of Kings, Solomon "had seven hundred wives of noble birth and three hundred concubines".
Honestly, I'm an underachiever.

It's not my fault if all these godless liberals today have forsaken the Biblical family model and redefined marriage to justify their deviant one-spouse relationships.

Monday paleo update

A day late, but measurement taken yesterday.

Well, I've learned that Mark Sisson's 80-20 rule does not work for me. Last week was a bit of an inadvertent experiment with adding more non-paleo food to my diet. I was still comfortably in the 80% paleo guideline, but managed to halt all weight loss and put one pound back on.

This weekend will be a bit of a paleo killer, as we'd already planned some extensively unpaleo meals for the wedding. But after that, it's right back on the wagon. I've gotten used to being pleased when I look at the scale.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Rhetorical Balance

It isn't, by itself, an insult to say that gun control advocates keep their goals guarded and try to achieve them incrementally. Every political action group, from gun control to gay equality to anti-abortion advocates need to take it step by step. The mainstream doesn't approve of their end goals, so they need to focus on small steps, let them become the new normal, and then get more small steps. It's just simple prudence.

But that kind of incremental progress puts the advocate in a strange place: you need to defend the steps you've already taken while simultaneously presenting them as grossly inadequate. This is very, very difficult for the amateur bloggers who are better at hyperbole than strategy. In the comments to an anti-gun blog post, Anti-Gun Comment Posting Unit Jadegold gives an outstanding example:

Yes, we have some gun laws in this country. Does it amount to gun control? No.

You and I both know that anyone in this country can open up a PennySaver or classified ad and purchase most any firearm. We do not have to provide ID and we can be felons, mentally ill and/or illegal immigrants.

The point is obvious: reconcile the failure of our century's worth of accumulated gun control laws with the anti-gun movement's prescription of more gun control laws. The problem, though, is that by getting emotionally involved and overstating the case, JG has implicitly agreed that the National Firearms Act of 1934, the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, the Gun Control Act of 1968, the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993, and the Gun Free School Zone Act of 1995 do nothing to deter criminals from getting guns.

More skilful anti-gunners have worked out the rhetorical balance, and know how to imply that our current gun control laws work, but that more would work better. It isn't true, but it's far more likely to work than agreeing with gun rights advocates that our current system is pure burden with no advantages.

"Go and get another Michael from the warehouse"

...Aaand, from anti-gun clone #32 Jadegold:

Elmo is wrong on so many counts.

First, he boldly claims there were no gun laws in the US in 1900. It isn't true but let's suppose it is--so what? Do we really wish to return to 1900 when women couldn't vote, segregation was the law of the land, and working children in unsafe conditions was the norm?

Second, Elmo seems to believe that everything is ok if we just punish a miscreant after the act. The way criminals get guns is because we have no gun control. As a result, tens of thousands of US lives are shattered each year, we all get to pay more for healthcare, taxes, and consumer goods because Elmo feels terriblt oppressed by having to be fingerprinted.

I invite anybody interested to read New Jersey's gun laws, and decide for themselves whether Jadegold's bizarre assertion that "we have no gun control" has any validity, or whether she's just trying to antagonize.

I also invite them to decide for themselves whether calling out a hundred-year history of increasing failed gun control policies means I want to deprive women of their right to vote, or whether, again, it's just empty rhetoric.

I like to document...

...when I take the effort to bang out replies to moderated blogs.

A reply from MikeB:

Dear Elmo, Thanks for coming by. I think you said on another blog that you used to comment here under another name [note: I used to comment simply as "Michael", back when I could still give Mike the benefit of the doubt], so I guess we know each other already.

Your question: "You think that taking those two minutes to add a tiny bit of insurance against a low-probability/high-consequence emergency is "abominable", "sick and paranoid", and has such a deleterious effect on other people that I should be ashamed of myself?"

My answer is yes. Yes, because it doesn't stop at your cozy little home where thank goodness nothing went wrong this past Halloween. It's you and your justifiable situation multiplied by millions or tens of millions. A percentage of them is not as responsible as you, but you support them, you enable them, you allow them to continue doing damage by doing your little part in keeping the "gun rights" what they are in the States.

So, yes I blame you, Elmo, and Bob, and the rest of you, and I say you would be ashamed if you weren't so biased and self-interested.

And my answer:

So it's the old "partial responsibility" meme again? The worldview in which responsible gun owners who oppose burdensome gun laws are partially culpable for murderers, car owners who don't lock their vehicles are partially responsible for ensuing deadly police chases*, and presumably women who dress immodestly at night are partially culpable for rape?

If my situation is justifiable, then you have no business intruding on it. You and your friends want to pass laws that overwhelmingly affect me in hopes that they'll have some small affect on criminals... And you've _succeeded_. That gun I own I was able to buy only after a ridiculous number of fees and legal interventions, fingerprinting, police investigations, employer notification, and... [checks records] a 68 day waiting period. And despite going through the license-to-carry procedure in other states, I'm still forbidden from taking my gun out through the front door of my home (unless I'm going directly to and from the range with no stops) under penalty of a felony conviction that's significantly stricter than the penalty for actually assaulting somebody with a gun.

You and your buddies have won substantially here in New Jersey, and you're still telling me that exercising the tiny sliver of a fundamental civil right that I have left is "abominable", "sick and paranoid".

In 1900, we had essentially no gun laws. If you misused your gun, you were punished for it. And that wasn't good enough for people like you. So over the next century we accumulated a crushing burden of legislation, and it still isn't good enough. You leave no reason to believe anything ever will be.

The next step is a British-style system with complete handgun bans and discretionary permits to own non-repeating shotguns. And even in Britain, people like you are still campaigning for even stricter gun laws, and pontificating about how the few remaining sport shooters are "part of the problem".

The criminals are the problem. Period.

[* - This was a direct example MikeB used back in the old days to justify his "partial responsibility" theory. It was one of the things that made it clear to me what kind of erson I was really dealing with.]

Sunday, November 7, 2010

You don't need a gun, friend citizen.

A large part of the anti-gun strategy is trying to paint the ownership and carrying of guns as paranoid, delusional, and ever-obsessed with violence. Self defense is all well and good, sure, but you should only improvise with what you have on hand, never prepare. It's the same phenomenon as the asshole who believes people should practice safe sex, sure, but still calls a woman a slut for carrying condoms.

Part of this is just prudence: there's no good case for gun control based on the facts, so a good ad-hominem is one of the only options open. But I think a lot of these people are really just projecting their own issues onto people they'd rather see as caricatures. Recently, a gun blogger posted about an armed push-in robbery on Halloween, discussing the prudence of keeping your gun handy at home. A couple of us commented about our decisions to keep guns handy that night, and one of the usual anti-gun suspects responded thus:

I find it an abomination of American values to imagine Elmo and Weer'd and I guess yourself opening the door to trick-or-treaters armed like that. It's sick and paranoid and if it only affected you I wouldn't mind. But you guys are part of the problem, and that problem affects many of us.

Let's sum up.

The probability of a push-in assault, on Halloween or not, is extremely low. The consequences of such an assault are quite high. I already own a gun and a holster for it. It costs me zero dollars and two minutes to holster the gun and pull an overshirt over it. And spending those two minutes to take one small precaution against a low-probability/high-consequence emergency before settling in to watch crappy movies and hand out Reese's peanut butter cups to kids in Spongebob costumes? That's "an abomination", "sick and paranoid", and such a terrible danger to others that I should be ashamed of myself.

Either Mike is just trying to fill space in his blog and solicit backpats from his fellow anti-gun obsessives, or he really does think that having a gun secured on my body (as opposed to its usual home by the bedside) is an enormous, toweringly significant corrosive presence that justifies all that hyperbole.

Me, I don't freight the gun with all that angst. My little .380 makes pocket carry so unbelievably easy that carrying is essentially a zero-effort proposition. The probability of a violent encounter in an average day is vanishingly small, but the cost in effort of preparing for it is nonexistent, so preparedness wins that equation.

Unless you bring your own fetishistic freight of the gun as a MACHINE OF MURDER to the table, carrying a firearm for self defense in a safe neighborhood is exactly as paranoid as putting on your seatbelt to move the car across a parking lot. Sure, the chances of a lifethreatening accident are almost nonexistent, but why take the chance when a bit of insurance is so cheap?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Mil-spec Mythos

In 1945, the US distributed an edition of Lovecraft stories for Army and Navy personnel. There's cosmic horror, and then there's tactical cosmic horror:

From General interwebs

Because, man, nothing will keep morale up like tales of the vanishing insignificance of mankind in a tractless cosmos of incomprehensible malignity.

The pictured copy is for sale for sixty bucks by Hang Fire Books in Brooklyn. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't tempted.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Amazed, the populace that rites attend,

Believe whate'er they cannot comprehend

Here in New Jersey, in addition to the fun of voting for representatives, we were asked on Tuesday to approve or deny a state constitutional amendment:


Constitutional Amendment to Dedicate Assessments on Wages by the State to the Payment of Employee Benefits

Shall the amendment to Article VIII, Section II of the State Constitution, agreed to by the legislature, which: prohibits collection by the State of assessments based solely on employee wages and salaries for any purpose other than providing employee benefits; dedicates all employer and employee contributions collected for any employee benefit fund, and all returns on investments of those contributions, to the purpose of that fund; and prohibits any transferring, borrowing, appropriating or using of those contributions or returns for any other purpose, be approved?

Interpretive Statement
This proposed constitutional amendment prohibits the collection by the state of assessments based on employee wages and salaries for any purpose except paying employee benefits (or making other employee-authorized or federally required payments, in the case of the State's own employees), dedicates all contributions made to the unemployment compensation fund, the State disability benefits fund, or any other employee benefit fund, and all returns on investments of those contributions, to the purpose of that fund, and prohibits the use of those contributions or returns for any other purpose. The requirements of this proposed amendment do not apply to the gross income tax, which is exclusively dedicated by the Constitution to the purpose of reducing or offsetting local property taxes.

You'll be happy to know it passed 80% - 20%.
Desirable possibility A:
Republicans take control of House and Senate.
Democrats realize Obama is a liability and run a moderate candidate in 2012.
Unnamed Democrat wins the election, keeping the Legislative and Executive branches at odds.

Desirable possibility B:
Republicans take one chamber of the Congress and nearly take the other, leaving Democrats scared in one and disempowered in the other.
The Democrats stick with their incumbent in 2012.
The Republicans fuck up less than usual and win the 2012 election, but still end up without control of both branches.

Scale of Desirability:

Scale of Likelihood:

Given fulfilled prerequisites in 2010, potential for disastrous unilateral control in 2012:

All things considered, Tuesday's results are close to ideal.

If it bleeds, we can kill it

The ever-awesome Dice Creator has made a D6 that uses the self-destruct countdown numbers from Predator. Awesome.

From General interwebs

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ah, strange, blobby masses floating around in waterways.

No way that could be ominous.

You can get anything you want...

You know, if one state, just one state decides people can carry guns without a permit, people may think it's really sick and they won't listen to it. And if two states, two states do it--in harmony--they may think they're both faggots and they won't listen to either one of 'em. And three states do it, three, can you imagine, three states all deciding that free people can carry guns with nobody's permission... They may think it's an organization. And can you, can you imagine a fourth state electing a governor who promised in his campaign to sign another Constitutional carry bill into law... And friends, they may think it's a movement.

Open letter the day after election day

Dear Democratic party,

See what I mean?

You hammered through a chunk of that hard-left holy grail of government-run medicine and yet another slew of pointless regulations aimed at the evil monocled capitalists, and it was so not-good-enough that your core stayed home on election day, handing control of the House to the Republicans. And, though you're likely to keep your Senate majority, if any of your remaining Senators are smart, they'll be pretty badly shook up.

Let's level with each other, man: people who look to government to solve their problems will never be satisfied with you, and you know it. Whatever they regard as the current biggest problem in their lives? They'll make it your problem. Trying to please that constituency will have you constantly running on a thankless treadmill, booted capriciously in and out of power by a bunch of people you simply can't make happy. Look at Canada: they have the whole socialized medicine shebang, and their liberal parties are still fighting tooth and nail to hold onto power election to election. Nothing you do will ever be enough, and again, you already know it.

Look, DP, last week and weekend I got very little sleep and ran around like crazy wearing myself out with moving and wedding planning. And yesterday morning I was miserably exhausted and coming down with something flu-like. But I still got up before sunrise on a cold, damp morning to drive out of my way and vote for a party I don't like, all because I think you're doing too much work.

One more time, guys, give it some thought. You can constantly run like hell to just barely touch the expectations of an unpleasable bunch of planned-society voters, or you can please people like me by doing a dozen times less work. All I ask is that you go out there every day and give ten percent, and I'll vote for you every time. Hell, even the laws I'd like you to pass would almost all decrease your responsibilities! No more making excuses about "gridlock" preventing you from getting shit done--you can brag about how much time you spent playing Minesweeper and downloading porn on the House computers! We'll laugh about it, have some beers, and I'll send a check to your PAC. And if the Republicans catch on and try to please me, too, you'll be in competition with them to see who can do the least work! Doesn't that sound better than the shit you have to deal with now?

Seriously, there's just no way you're gonna get a better offer than this. Slack the vote!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Open letter on election day

Dear Democratic party,

Hi there. We haven't spoken in a while, so I don't blame you if you don't remember me. But back in the day, we were really tight. Back in the days of George W. Bush, you convinced me that you were the party of civil rights and of opposing the creeping intrusion of the imperial Presidency, and I voted for you down the line in every election. It was good times, and we got along really well. But then you got into power, and I saw more of you than I really wanted to. It happens sometimes with friends.

So we've drifted apart, and today I went and voted for the Republicans, just like I did back in 2008.

I'm guessing you'd rather I voted for you. Honestly, the way elections have been going lately, with the winner squeaking by in a "landslide" of 52 percent of the vote or so, you really can't afford to rely on your narrow minority of solid supporters any more than the Republicans can. Each election's being won or lost by the swing voters like me, and these days you need me more than I need you.

And those Tea Party guys... Your solid crew thinks it's a simple deal, but I know you really don't know what to make of the Tea Parties. Are they just a Republican-electing machine like the "anti-war" movement is for Democrats, or do they really take all this small government stuff seriously? Dude, I'm as curious as you are, and we're gonna have to wait and see together. But man, almost half of 'em are independents or Democrats. No matter what the deal is with the Republican half, that's a hell of a lot of folks who really want a smaller government, and that's gotta have you thinking about how to do your math from here on out.

And here's the thing: as one of those Americans who agrees with the stated small-government position of the Tea Parties, I'm actually a hell of a lot easier to please than the folks whose votes you're used to chasing. I just want you to stay the hell out of private life, and I'm not too hot on war and international maneuvering either. Think about that for a second. While your usual faithful are turning their backs on you, disillusioned that you haven't pushed enough through the united Republican opposition, I'm offering you my vote if you'll just go out there every day and do less work. Dude, you ain't gonna get a better offer than that.

Give it some thought.

Love and kisses,
Quite frankly, I'm scared to believe that Americans still care more about liberty than about being taken care of.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Monday paleo update

Six weeks in, down another three pounds for a total of 19.