Saturday, February 26, 2011

And just one more question, ma'am...

Fellow Jerseyblogger Ian Argent asks just one question of gay marriage opponents:

Why do we allow sterile, divorced, atheistic serial adulterers who happen to be of opposite sex to enter into legally recognized marriage; but prevent people who truly love one another to do the same, if they happen to be of the same sex?

...and points out that in a nation with a robust establishment prohibition, the answer can't have anything to do with any religion.

Unlike its prototype, though, this One Question has a very simple answer:

Because laws against gay marriage accomplish their unstated goal of reaffirming whose subculture is in charge, and who gets to tell whom how to live.

See how easy these questions are to answer when you're honest?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Bipartisan sculpture

It's no secret that different Americans have opposing impressions of Abraham Lincoln.

It occurs to me that the Lincoln Memorial, which features a colossal statue of the late President on a pedestal, seated on an imperious throne whose arms are made of fasces, represents both groups' impressions remarkably well.

Friday, February 18, 2011


Okay, okay, a solution that will make everybody happy.

Every year in the U.S. there are about 4.25 million live births, and 1.5 million abortions.

In order to stay solvent, the Social Security system needs a consistently growing population.

Therefore, to save Social Security from evil Republicans, all we need to do is ban abortion!

I am the brilliantest politician ever.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

What caliber for byakhee?

Propnomicon, a blog dedicated to reproducing objects from H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos*, posts lots of 1920s and '30s documents for use in RPGs and prop displays. This morning, the blogmaster posted scans of a New York City concealed carry permit from 1927:

From General interwebs

Note that the card isn't even good for a full year: it expires "December 31st of the year issued".

[* - And that phrase right there is why I love the internet.]
After a very silly dustup at Breda's over open carry, Bob S posts with what, I think, is the head on the nail:

Scene 1 — a library in a fly0ver country small town

- Guy walks into the library carrying a small handgun openly displayed in a tasteful holster. Is mannerly, polite, very discreet.

- Finds his books, checks out and leaves without anyone really noticing.


Scene 2 — a library in a fly0ver country small town

- Guy walks into the library carrying a small handgun openly displayed in a tasteful holster. Is mannerly, polite, very discreet.

- A patron/worker notices the firearm and makes a “Man With GUN!!!” call to the cops. The cops show up, checks out the situation and the man finishes his visit by checking out some books and leaving.

- Cops talk to the patron/worker and informs them it was a completely legal exercise of his rights.

Most people who open carry do so simply because it's more comfortable and less of a hassle than carrying concealed, and more power to 'em. Another group, though, practices activist carry. The goal of activist carry to normalize the carrying of firearms, desensitize people to the sight of peaceful folks with guns, and educate people who instinctively think it's illegal to carry a gun. These folks have a political agenda. And more power to them, too.

In Bob's example, each of the scenarios is ideal for a different breed of carrier. For the convenience carrier, Scene 1 is the ideal; who the hell wants to wait and talk to the cops just to take some books out of the damned library? For the activist carrier, Scene 1 is useless. Activism requires attention--the ideal scenario is one in which your enemies cause a big, noisy conflict, and come off looking stupid when they're proven wrong.

I'm not going to comment on the original dustup, because it looks like the situation was more complicated than the press made out (shocking, I know). But there have been more than a few cases when activist carriers have done more harm than good by trying to provoke a Scene 2. Disappointed at the lack of attention they're getting, they flaunt their guns, act like jerks, and generally reinforce the stereotypes anti-gunners have worked to create. And, most depressingly, the loudest OC voices will be on their side in a heartbeat, rejecting all criticism of the demonstration's counterproductiveness by insisting that it was legal.

The worst part about this attitude is that, in the regions with these enthusiastic activist carriers, OC activism becomes self-limiting. If your goal is a world where nobody bats an eye at openly carried guns, but you get provocative with strangers when nobody's paying attention to your guns, your group will become more and more counterproductive as you get closer to your goal.

In this country, you have a legal right to carry a gun and to be a jerk. And nobody should be prosecuted for exercising both of those rights at the same time. But if you're trying to win hearts and minds, you have to do more than not break the law.

Friday, February 11, 2011

...And speaking of paternalism:

Feel like you need government intervention to spare you the trauma of saying "no" to a shopping mall clerk?

The state of California is here to help.

"Okay, okay, how about we just make it explode if you put another healthcare bill inside it?"

It occurred to me just recently that, in gaming terms, all our recent Fearless Leaders--elephants and asses both--have been rules lawyers. That is, they freely ignore the intent and purpose of the law, and treat it instead as a system to be gamed for the sake of a given agenda. Fellow Jersey blogger Ian Argent points out that the analogy isn't quite strong enough. These jerks are Constitutional munchkins:

[From Wikipedia] Munchkins are infamous for various degrees of cheating, willfully misinterpreting rules that work against them while boisterously proclaiming ones that work in their favor. As a matter of course they selectively obey the letter of rules while perverting the spirit blatantly...[/wikipedia]

We’ve gotten to the point at which lawmakers (on both sides) have gone beyond rules-lawyering the Constitution and well into Munchkin Con-Law (MCL). Gonzalez vs. Raich would be an excellent example of bipartisan Munchkin Con-Law, along with most of the laws and jurisprudence that have been chipping away at the 4th amendment. The PPACA is merely an example of partisan MCL, which in some ways makes it more pernicious. The supporters have started with the premise that PPACA must be passed, and have gone looking for only the "rules" that support their desires. When shown the "rules" that prevent it, they blatantly ignore their opponents.

Our Constitution, in order to preserve our liberty from the tyranny of the majority that inevitably comes out of dictatorial democracies of the kind we're tilting headlong into today, includes several checks and balances on the powers of government, not least of which is the separation of government powers.

It says, in short, "Dear federal government: Here is a very short list of the things you have the authority to do, almost all of which are international or interstate matters. You don't have the authority to do anything else. The citizens of the Republic generally don't need a paternal guiding hand, and where they decide they want one, providing it is the domain of the states. Really. No, really really."

Our President, in now-standard bipartisan tradition, decided what law he wanted and built on a now-standard bipartisan tradition of ignoring the intent of the Constitution to torture out a justification for it.

"Okay, okay, hear me out on this one. The Constitution says we can regulate interstate commerce, right? Well, even if a commercial activity takes place completely inside one state, we should still be able to regulate it if it has a direct and significant impact on an interstate industry or the business caters primarily to interstate travelers, right? And even if there's no actual commerce going on, we should be able to regulate purely private, non-commercial behavior if that behavior provides a product or service that might otherwise have been obtained in interstate commerce. So dude, is it really that big a stretch to say that an inaction, like choosing not to buy an intrastate service, can itself be an act of commerce that could have an affect on the interstate market? So therefore the Constitution gives us the authority to compel individual citizens to buy medical insurance they don't want!"

This argument is so jawdroppingly baldfaced that even Yiddish doesn't have an adequate word for it. But one could still argue it's merely rules lawyering.

Blatantly ignoring an order from the Judicial branch to stop implementing the unconstitutional law within the jurisdictions governed by the decision? That's where this particular act of contempt for the separation of powers undeniably turns the corner into flagrant munchkinism.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

This is my rifle...

In pursuit of a New Year's resolution ("Gain some minimal proficiency with rifles"), this past weekend I bought a Henry lever-action .22 and took it to the range. One range trip does not a marksman make, but I did come away with some strong first impressions:

- Gosh, this thing's pretty.
- The lever action sure is a lot of fun to shoot.
- I guess people like click-adjustable sights for a reason.
- Dammit, I'm gonna need to add a screwdriver and mallet to my range bag.
- Maybe it would be a good idea to actually read something about riflery, instead of assuming it'll come naturally.

Despite the entirely foreseeable setbacks, it's a bit shocking how much easier the rifle makes it to put rounds on target at short range. At seven yards, it's shooting itself. I'm snapping the gun up at a four-inch target and not even looking at the sights, and I can't miss. This is not my inborn talent shining through; it's presumably just a lesson in how much handguns suck and carbines rule.

So, Internet--what's a good book on rifle marksmanship?

In Soviet Russia, Theater Burns Down Film!

Ten silent films long believed lost are recovered from the Soviet Union.

The movies were delivered late last year through a Russian-American working group on library cooperation, and they represent the first installment in a cache of up to 194 early American films that will eventually be repatriated. There are classics by directors who include Cecil B. De Mille and Sam Wood and gems starring such actors as Mary Pickford and Sessue Hayakawa.
Between 1913 and 1941, about 1,300 American films were distributed in Russia... While the Russians and Soviets did not appreciate all that they received - many of the films included warnings that they depicted a "moral and social situation" that was "reprehensible" - they were relatively good at making sure that what they had was kept in good condition in a state film archive.

Dear Russia,

If you provide us with a copy of the 1917 Cleopatra starring Theda Bara, I promise to say something nice about socialism.

Your pal,

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The times, they are a-changin'

I'm used to seeing articles with titles like "Why 33 Rounds makes Sense in a Defensive Weapon".

I'm not used to seeing them at the Washington post.

The article is shockingly fair and realistic: can still see the point: There's nothing really new when it comes to guns...
Guns were the software of the 19th century; the most dynamic age of development was roughly 1870 to 1900, when the modern forms were perfected...Since then, design and engineering improvements have been not to lethality but to ease of maintenance and manufacture, or weight reduction. A Glock is "better" than a Luger because you don't need a PhD to take it apart, nor a fleet of machinists to produce the myriad pins, levers, springs and chunks of steel that make it go bang. Moreover, you can lose a Glock in a flood and find it six months later in the mud, and it still will shoot perfectly, while the Luger would have become a nice paperweight.

People who totally don't want to ban guns (but would like to push us into Great Britain's model of gun ownership) like to trade on the perception that while grampa's guns are fine, guns today are so super deadly that obviously we need to ban the new ultra-assault megaguns. It's extremely rare to see a mainstream newspaper from the District of Columbia acknowledge that there really hasn't been a material increase in firearms' lethality in nearly a century.

The article isn't perfect. The writer makes some minor factual errors*, and seems to be a bit confused about the difference between the standard-capacity magazines that ship with Glocks (which almost all carry between 10 and 17 rounds, and are excellent for self defense) and aftermarket extended magazines (which can carry over 30, and are often less ideal due to decreased reliability). But the point is largely the same, and I'm not about to look a gift horse in the mouth. This is a well researched, accurate, unhysterical discussion of a topic gun control advocates are trying to spin into more restrictions on our Constitutional rights, and it comes from a mainstream DC paper.

If you'd have told me the election of a liberal caricature from Chicago would lead to this, I'd have thought you were nuts.

[* - "What nobody has been able to improve on since the 1870s is the cartridge", in particular. In fact, I'd say the cartridge is the only thing that has been fundamentally improved in over half a century. Modern defensive hollowpoint ammo allows people to use smaller caliber cartridges without the danger of overpenetrating rounds injuring a bystander. Their effectiveness and safety have made them the standard for self defense and police use. Oh, and naturally they're restricted in New Jersey.
Also, "Yes, they can use semiautomatic rifles and shotguns [which are] unlikely to be banned by local law, but women generally don't care to put in the training needed to master them..." which, sex assumptions aside, is simply inaccurate. Rifles are far easier to use than handguns.]

Friday, February 4, 2011

Well damn.

I tell everybody that I lost twenty pounds in two weeks by going paleo. [Correction: twenty pounds in two months. Typo of the mind.]

What I'm less proud of is that I fell off the wagon over the holidays, and put five pounds back on. Since then I've been wishy-washy about paleo, saying "ah, the hell with it--let's get pizza" far too often, and have hovered at the same weight since late November.

This week, I decided to go back strictly onto paleo and see what happened.

I've lost three and a half pounds since Sunday.

Jesus Haploid Christ.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sweet home South Dakota

South Dakota introduces a bill that would require all adults to own a firearm "sufficient to provide for their ordinary self-defense".

Rep. Hal Wick, R-Sioux Falls, is sponsoring the bill and knows it will be killed...

"Do I or the other cosponsors believe that the State of South Dakota can require citizens to buy firearms? Of course not. But at the same time, we do not believe the federal government can order every citizen to buy health insurance," he said.

Smarter bloggers than I have pointed out that Mr. Wick should take a closer look at the Constitution. The health insurance mandate is transparently unconstitutional by any honest assessment, but the federal government and the states do, in fact, have specifically enumerated militia powers that would allow them to mandate gun ownership. In fact, under the Militia Act of 1792, almost every adult male citizen was required to provide himself with a musket or rifle and around two dozen rounds of ammunition, and to report for training twice a year. That law was in effect until 1903.