Friday, October 31, 2008

Seen one debate, seen 'em all

On this Halloween night, a look back at the presidential debates:

Scary, huh? :)

Only rich celebrities need apply, though

From the Big Apple:
Go ahead, Met fans - make their day.

Sluggers David Wright and Carlos Delgado are two of the city's newest young guns - both were granted pistol permits over the last year.

Wright's permit allows him to keep a handgun at his $6 million Flatiron District penthouse. The Met third baseman, a 25-year- old Virginia native, is no stranger to pistols; his father is a police chief.

First baseman Delgado, 36, applied for a permit to carry a gun - which was denied - but was granted permission to keep one in his Upper East Side apartment, according to a source familiar with the process.

Former Met Shawn Green, 35, also applied for a carry permit last year, but was denied, the source said.

Wright and Delgado, whose team has enraged and disappointed fans two years in a row with late-season collapses, are among some 36,000 people with gun permits in the Big Apple - a list that includes celebrities, billionaires and politicians.
"The process can be intimidating and grueling. It may take up to 18 months," said Manhattan lawyer John Chambers, who has specialized in gun licenses for 20 years. "And New York is probably one of the most difficult cities in which to get a concealed-carry license."
Among those permitted to carry guns are Robert De Niro, artificial-heart inventor Robert Jarvik, Donald Trump and billionaire supermarket king John Catsimatidis.

Article here. I believe the 36,000 permit number is for permits to merely keep a gun in your residence, not carry permits. This, in a city of eight million.

Life after Heller

Article in Guns and Ammo by attorney Don Kates, on life in a post-Heller world:
In June, the Supreme Court held that the Washington, D.C. gun bans violate the Second Amendment's guarantee that law-abiding, responsible adults may have guns for the protection of their homes, families and selves. (District of Columbia v. Heller.) This has understandably been an occasion of great joy for advocates of the right to self-defense. Nevertheless, we must understand how fragile this result is and how limited the opinion is.

The case was decided by the scantest of majorities: 5-4. The dissenting opinions are, to put it bluntly, ahistorical garbage that treat the Second Amendment in ways in which no other portion of the Bill of Rights is treated. The case for the right to arms is so overwhelming that both sides call it the Standard Model view of the Second Amendment, which has been accepted not just by gun owners but also by many honest scholars who are anti-gun.
But despite the intellectual weakness of the anti-Standard Model argument, the four dissenters clung to it. This emphasizes the fanaticism of the opponents, particularly given how extreme the D.C. gun bans were: Handguns were totally illegal; long guns could be owned but only for sporting purposes; and no gun could be kept loaded and available for defense of the home.

As I am writing it appears that Barack Obama will likely be the next president. If so, we can expect every justice he appoints to the court to be unscrupulously dedicated to reversing Heller. This is not quite as ominous as it seems because Obama may not have a chance to appoint a replacement for any of the five justices who made up the majority in Heller. They are relatively young compared to the four dissenters. Most likely any justices who die or retire during Obama's term in office will be among the four dissenters, so Obama's new appointees to replace them will still be in the minority.

But it is always possible that one of the majority will retire or die, whereupon Obama will be able to appoint someone whose vote will reverse Heller.

Read the rest of the article here.

Iowa gun sales increase in advance of election

From Iowa, another article on the spike in gun sales:
WATERLOO --- Gun sales have shot through the roof as the presidential election looms.

Fears of tighter control were mutual Saturday among shoppers at the Gun & Knife Show, which ends today at the National Cattle Congress' McElroy Auditorium. It offers a buffet of rare guns and hard-to-find accessories.

According to the Associated Press, Republican candidate John McCain supports background checks for buyers at gun shows and has his name on a law restricting special-interest group advertising, two positions strongly opposed by the National Rifle Association. Democratic challenger Barack Obama has been accused of wanting to put the firearms industry out of business.

But both campaigns' running mates, Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, own guns.

It's no surprise, then, why uncertainty has pushed sales up 30 to 40 percent from show to show, said Dennis Pearson, show manager with On Target Promotions, which hosts about 14 shows a year in Iowa and Missouri.

Article here.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

And now, back to your regularly scheduled programming ...

I'm back, and thus normal blogging should resume shortly. And according to Sitemeter stats, most of you are still stopping by. Oh, goody.

Panama Canal voyage

Tonight's travel video - a timelapse video of a passage through the Panama Canal:


Gun company executive supports Obama, shoots self, company in proverbial foot

From the not-a-smart-career-move files, comes the story of Dan Cooper, who until very recently was president of Cooper Arms, a small Montana-based manufacturer of hunting rifles. On Monday, USA Today reported that Mr. Cooper had donated $3,300 to Barack Obama's campaign:
WASHINGTON — Dan Cooper, a proud member of the National Rifle Association, has backed Republicans for most of his life. He's the chief executive of Cooper Arms, a small Montana company that makes hunting rifles.

Cooper said he voted for George W. Bush in 2000, having voted in past elections for every Republican presidential nominee back to Richard Nixon. In October 1992, he presented a specially made rifle to the first President. Bush during a Billings campaign event.

This year, Cooper has given $3,300 to the campaign of Democrat Barack Obama. That's on top of the $1,000 check he wrote to Obama's U.S. Senate campaign in 2004, after he was dazzled by Obama's speech at that year's Democratic National Convention.

What happened next ought to have been come as no surprise to Mr. Cooper. According to the Los Angeles Times blog:
Cooper Arms makes hunting rifles, and hunting gun owners — who largely support Republican John McCain and do not appreciate Obama's stance on gun control — went ballistic over the news in various Internet chat rooms.

Gee, ya think? Did Mr. Cooper not think that giving money to support a candidate who wants to put him out of business and has voted to infringe Second Amendment freedoms at every turn might raise the ire of his customers? Perhaps Mr. Cooper is one of those "Second Amendment is only about hunting" types, who somehow naively think the anti-gunners won't come after them with the same fanatacism that they now go after makers of cosmetically-challenged firearms.

Evidently, the outrage at Mr. Cooper's preceived betrayal forced the company into major damage control mode, and the company's website homepage now sports the following message:
In response to the recent article highlighting Dan Cooper’s personal political donations, the board of directors, shareholders and employees of Cooper Firearms of Montana, Inc would like to issue the following statement.

The employees, shareholders and board of directors of Cooper Firearms of Montana do not share the personal political views of Dan Cooper.
Although we all believe everyone has a right to vote and donate as they see fit, it has become apparent that the fallout may affect more than just Mr. Cooper. It may also affect the employees and the shareholders of Cooper Firearms.

The board of directors has asked Mr. Cooper to resign as President of Cooper Firearms of Montana, Inc.
Daily operations will continue with the competent staff currently in place in Stevensville, MT producing the finest, most accurate rifles money can buy.

Dan Cooper has spent all of his working life producing the highest quality rifles built here in the USA. He started with nothing but the American Dream and built that into firearms company anyone would be proud of. We firmly believe Dan stands by the 2nd amendment.

We wish him all of the best in his future pursuits.

Perhaps we ought to have a refresher course in the meaning of the Second Amendment for all gun manufacturers and other so-called Second Amendment "supporters" to remind them that the Second Amendment isn't about hunting, or target shooting, or "sporting purposes". That way, we might avoid future unpleasantness of the type we experienced here.

[Hat tip to reader Jim P. for the story]

Gun sales increase in New Mexico

Yet another article on the increase in gun sales, this one from New Mexico:
Gun sales are on the rise, and gun shop owners say the uncertain economy and upcoming election are the reasons.

Some report their sales are up as much as 25 percent from last year.

One of those gun shops that is seeing gun sales soar is the Albuquerque Pawn Shop in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

“Probably 20 to 25 percent, but inquiries are probably up 50 to 60 percent,” said owner Jay Johnston.

Johnston says there are a few reasons for the rise in gun sales.

He says one reason is the bad economy.

Johnston says more people are buying guns to protect themselves.

He says he is hearing another reason even more.

“If one particular candidate is elected, then rumor has it that there’s gonna be a serious gun ban and I think people wanna get the guns while they can,” Johnston said.

Article here.

Gun sales increase in slumping economy

From the Washington Post:
Americans have cut back on buying cars, furniture and clothes in a tough economy, but there's one consumer item that's still enjoying healthy sales: guns. Purchases of firearms and ammunition have risen 8 to 10 percent this year, according to state and federal data.

Several variables drive sales, but many dealers, buyers and experts attribute the increase in part to concerns about the economy and fears that if Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois wins the presidency, he will join with fellow Democrats in Congress to enact new gun controls. Obama has said that he believes in an individual right to bear arms but that he also supports "common-sense safety measures."
Gary Kleck, a researcher at Florida State University's College of Criminology and Criminal Justice whose work was cited in the District's recent Supreme Court gun-control case, said that although there are no scientific studies linking gun sales and economic conditions, people often buy firearms during periods of uncertainty. People often buy weapons because of concerns about personal safety or government actions to limit access to firearms, causing spikes in sales, Kleck said.

Industry experts and law enforcement officials point to several examples over the years. In 1994, there was a rush to buy guns when President Bill Clinton pushed for a ban on military-style semiautomatic rifles. Handgun sales jumped last year after the massacre at Virginia Tech as some worried about personal protection and others feared sweeping restrictions on handguns, pushing applications for concealed gun permits in Virginia alone up 60 percent. People also rushed to buy guns after the 1992 riots in Los Angeles and the breakdown of order in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

Bob Leyshion, who visited a gun shop in Manassas recently, said the economic crisis and Obama's lead in the polls were on his mind.

"People are preparing for catastrophe right now," said Leyshion, 55, of Nokesville. "It's insurance. With the stock market crash and people out of work, and the illegal aliens in this area, the probability of civil disorder is very high."

Article here. If Senator Obama wins the Presidency, I suspect that gun stores will become even busier after November 5th, as law-abiding Americans prepare for the anticipated onslaught on Second Amendment rights by an anti-gun Obama administration and an anti-gun, Democrat-controlled House and Senate.

A message from Chuck Norris

Today's Public Service Announcement:

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Where's Photoshop when you need it

Tonight's joke:

A man moves into a nudist colony. He receives a letter from his grandmother asking him to send her a current photo of himself in his new location.

Too embarrassed to let her know that he lives in a nudist colony, he cuts a photo in half intending to send the top half to Granny.

Unfortunately, he accidentally sends the bottom half of the photo. He's really worried when he realizes that he sent the wrong half, but then remembers how bad his grandmother's eyesight is, and hopes she won't notice.

A few weeks later he receives a letter from his grandmother, "Thank you for the picture. Change your hair style... it makes your nose look short. Love, Grandma"


NRA vs. Obama

From a Human Events editorial:
Speaking of self-defense, Obama is completely opposed to that as well. In the decades before the Heller decision, many parts of Chicago put handgun bans in place that necessitated making the use of a handgun for self-defense illegal. (Think about it -- how could you legally use an illegal tool to protect yourself?) Proving he meant it when he said states, cities, and municipalities should be able to regulate and restrict the Second Amendment, Obama supported these unconstitutional bans when a 2003 case in Wilmette, Ill. provided him the opportunity to stand up for the “individual right” he also claims to support.
But if Obama’s record is any indication of things, he’s not going to come to the realization Guzman hopes for. Just think about other aspects of his record as an Illinois senator: He supported a proposal to ban gun stores within 5 miles of a school or park (which is tantamount to banning gun stores period); he supported H.B. 2579, which prohibited law-abiding individuals from purchasing more than one gun a month; he opposed laws that permitted law-abiding citizens to carry firearms for self-defense (i.e., he opposed concealed carry permits); he supported a ban on “junk guns” (cheaper guns that poor people could actually afford to buy and use for self defense); and he voted not to inform gun owners when the state of Illinois did records searches on them (S.B. 1936).

His U.S. Senate record is just as dismal: He supports the reintroduction of the assault weapons ban; he favors a ban on high capacity magazines; he voted with Ted Kennedy on ammunition bans (that included hunting ammunition); and most troubling of all, he voted against the confirmation of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito. Roberts and Alito are two of the five justices who upheld the Second Amendment in the Heller case. Just think, if Obama had gotten his way, they wouldn’t have been there, and the Second Amendment wouldn’t be there either.

Op-ed here.

Texans stocking up on those Evil Black Rifles

From the Lone Star State, another report of sales of, uh, "cosmetically challenged" rifles spiking:
Gun owners have expressed concern that Barack Obama, if elected, will not only renew the ban on assault weapons, but also make it permanent.

"Not that people are fear-buying,” said John Mannewitz, a manager at Target Master. “But, if there's something cool you want to get, people are saying sooner is better than later."

Target Master, a gun store in Garland, used to sell a couple of assault weapons, such as AR15s and AK47s, every week. But now, a little more than a week away from the election, sales have tripled.

"I had a customer today who came in and bought an AR15,” Mannewitz said. “He said he had always wanted one and he was afraid if Obama got elected there wouldn't be anymore."

At least ten other gun stores in North Texas, contacted by News 8, have reported a recent spike on sales of assault weapons.

Article here.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Politically correct speech

Tonight's politically correct etiquette lesson:

How to Speak About Women and Be Politically Correct:

1. She is not a “Babe” or a “Chick.” She is a Breasted American.

2. She is not a “Dumb Blonde.” She is a Light-Haired Detour off the Information Superhighway.

3. She has not “Been Around.” She is a Previously-Enjoyed Companion.

4. She does not “Nag” you. She becomes Verbally Repetitive.

5. She is not a “Two-Bit Hooker.” She is a Low-Cost Provider.

How to Speak About Men and Be Politically Correct:

1. He does not have a “Beer Gut.” He has developed a Liquid Grain Storage Facility.

2. He does not “Get Lost All the Time.” He Investigates Alternative Destinations.

3. He is not “Balding.” He is in Follicle Regression.

4. He does not act like a “Total Ass.” He develops a case of Rectal-Cranial Inversion.

5. It’s not his “Crack” you see hanging out of his pants. It is Rear Cleavage.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Old dogs, new tricks

Tonight's cute animal video:

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Tonight's exercise video:

Saturday, October 25, 2008

IKEA job interview

Tonight's job interview skills:


Friday, October 24, 2008

Take on me

Tonight's "hey, that's not how I remembered it" 80's music video:

Pie charts, explained

Tonight's data presentation lesson:

Suddenly, I'm hungry.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Selling tools ...

Tonight's Home Depot commercial you never saw:

Ah, the joys of tool shopping. :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Samuel L. Jackson, coach

Tonight's coaching video, Pulp Fiction style:


At least they can't carry guns, right?

From ABC News:
National forests and parks — long popular with Mexican marijuana-growing cartels — have become home to some of the most polluted pockets of wilderness in America because of the toxic chemicals needed to eke lucrative harvests from rocky mountainsides, federal officials said.

The grow sites have taken hold from the West Coast's Cascade Mountains, as well as on federal lands in Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia.

Seven hundred grow sites were discovered on U.S. Forest Service land in California alone in 2007 and 2008 — and authorities say the 1,800-square-mile Sequoia National Forest is the hardest hit.

Article here. Thank goodness these Mexican drug dealers can't carry guns in our National Parks, 'cause that would be breaking the law. Maybe they should also pass a law against marijuana growing in the National Parks and Forests, though. Oh, and against polluting the parks with toxic chemicals. I'm sure that would solve the problem. Right?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Ah, L'amour ...

Tonight's relationships video:


Let's never find out

From, a series of short videos on Obama:

"The Chicken Button"

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Puppy Whisperer

Tonight's cute animal video:

Obama and guns, part 2,980

From Buckeye Firearms Association, dissecting Senator Obama's latest ad attempting to portray himself as a (gasp!) supporter of gun rights:
The Ad Does Not Mention That Obama Has Called For Banning The Manufacture, Sale & Possession Of Handguns – Firearms Used For Self-Defense. Question from a 1996 Independent Voters of Illinois questionnaire: “Do you support state legislation to … ban the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns?” Obama’s Answer: “Yes.” (Independent Voters Of Illinois Independent Precinct Organization 1996 General Candidate Questionnaire, Barack Obama Responses, 9/9/96)

The Ad Does Not Mention That Obama Believes The D.C. Gun Ban Is Constitutional. “[T]he campaign of Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama said that he ‘...believes that we can recognize and respect the rights of law-abiding gun owners and the right of local communities to enact common sense laws to combat violence and save lives. Obama believes the D.C. handgun law is constitutional.’” (James Oliphant and Michael J. Higgins, “Court To Hear Gun Case,” Chicago Tribune, 11/20/07)

* The Ad Does Not Mention That During An Interview, Obama Acknowledged His Support For The D.C. Gun Ban. Questioner Leon Harris: “One other issue that’s of great importance here in the district as well is gun control. You said in Idaho recently – I’m quoting here – ‘I have no intention of taking away folks’ guns,’ but you support the D.C. handgun ban.” Obama: “Right.” (Leon Harris and Sen. Barack Obama, Forum Sponsored By ABC And Politico.Com, Washington, DC, 2/12/08)

The Ad Does Not Mention That In 2001, Obama Voted Against And “Helped Defeat” A Bill To Allow Individuals To Carry A Concealed Weapon When They Have A Valid Order Of Protection Out Against Another Person. (S.B. 604, Senate Floor Third Reading, Failed, 29-27-0, 4/4/01, Obama Voted Nay)

Read the rest of the article here. Senator Obama doesn't appear to have met a gun-control law he didn't like. Although you have to give him credit for one thing: he's got a lot of that "Audacity of Hope" to try to portray himself as a supporter of gun rights. Sadly, with the mainstream press seemingly actively campaigning on Senator Obama's behalf, he might just get away with it.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The show must go on ... really.

Tonight's dedication award goes out to ...

Concealed carry increases in Washington

From the Evergreen State:
The number of concealed pistol licenses (CPLs) issued to Washington state residents shot up 44% between 2003 and 2007, according to statistics from the state’s Department of Licensing, with the Evergreen State now boasting more than 258,000 citizens who can carry concealed.

That does not include a number of people who are involved in the open carry movement who do not require a license to carry their hardware. Washington is one of a handful of states with a very active and gradually growing open carry cadre, and open carry has always been legal in the state, with at least two appeals court rulings upholding the practice.

Article here.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

George Lucas in Love

Tonight's video:

Morton Grove and Kennesaw, contrasted

From the Knox Report, via Ohioans for Concealed Carry:
Morton Grove’s relatively low crime rate went up by over 15% immediately after enactment of the ban (12% more than surrounding areas) and has held pretty steady at just a tad below the national average ever since. There has been no statistical indication of the handgun ban having any positive effect.

Kennesaw is a different story though. In 1982, the year the firearms requirement was enacted, Kennesaw realized a 74% reduction in crime against persons over the previous year. That rate then dropped 45% between 1982 and 1983. In fairness, statistics showing percentage increases or decreases in crime can be very misleading especially when crime numbers and the population are both low to begin with.

The statistics that are really telling are per capita comparisons between municipal, county, regional, and national averages. When a city’s crime rate is trending parallel to the national and/or regional crime rates (whether higher or lower) and then deviates dramatically from those averages after a new law is passed, that is a strong indication that the new law is having an impact. While Morton Grove’s per capita crime rate took a dramatic jump, deviating substantially from regional and national averages, right after passage of their gun ban, Kennesaw’s crime rate did the opposite in an even more dramatic way. After Kennesaw’s gun law was enacted crime dropped dramatically – much faster than federal, state, or local trends – and leveled out well below national averages. In spite of a population increase from 5000 to almost 30,000 during the same period, Kennesaw’s crime rates remain significantly lower than national or area averages. And the people of Kennesaw didn’t have to use their mandated firearms to effect this dramatic change. The simple knowledge on the part of criminals that if they worked in Kennesaw they were choosing to work with an armed prospective victim pool was enough to convince them not to pursue their chosen professions there.

Read the article here.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The latest PETA idea

Tonight's wacky idea, courtesy the charming folks at PETA (People for the Eating Ethical Tasty Treatment of Animals):

According to the news segment, Vermont's dairy cows produce three million pounds of milk a year. I'm thinking Vermont PETA women are going to have to get cracking if they're going to match that output. :)

Concealed carry increases in North Carolina

From the Tar Heel State:
From Dec. 1, 1995, when it became legal to carry a concealed handgun in the state, until July 31 of this year, sheriff’s offices in Brunswick, New Hanover and Pender counties received 8,167 permit applications. The state total was 225,762 for the same time period.

The purpose of the law that allows North Carolinians to carry concealed handguns is to deter crime, said Richard White, a former Boiling Spring Lakes police chief and current investigator with the New Hanover County Public Defender’s Office.

“I’m a firm believer in it because it is a deterrent to crime,” White said of the law.

Article here.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Prison Break, K-9 Edition

Tonight's animal escapee video:

Too cute!

Sheriff revokes concealed carry permits

From Orange County, California:
The Sheriff's Department has begun the process of revoking hundreds of concealed weapon permits across Orange County.

This week, department officials confirmed that 146 letters have been sent out advising current license holders that their permits to carry firearms in public – called CCWs – are being revoked. There are currently 1,024 permit holders.

"The Department has determined that your identified risk does not meet the good cause threshold as required under the new CCW policy based upon the information you provided. As a result of this determination, the Department's present intention is to revoke your CCW license," reads the form letter sent out this month.

Article here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Timekeeping, made interesting

Tonight's horological marvel:


[Hat tip to my friend Peter for the link]

Out of sight, out of mind

I will be otherwise occupied and mostly away from the Bag Bad Internet for the next couple of weeks, so blogging will be, shall we say, light. Or nonexistent. I have, however, scheduled at least one post a day on various and sundry, but mostly humorous, topics.

Try not to break stuff while I'm away.

Please don't hurt the criminals

More craziness from no-longer-Great Britain:
A gardener who fenced off his allotment with barbed wire after being targeted by thieves has been ordered to take it down – in case intruders scratch themselves.

Bill Malcolm erected the 3ft fence after thieves struck three times in just four months, stealing tools worth around £300 from his shed and ransacking his vegetable patch.

But Bromsgrove district council has ordered the 61-year-old to remove the waist-high fence on health and safety grounds.

Mr Malcolm, who has grown potatoes, onions, beetroot and asparagus on two patches at the Round Hill allotments in Marlbrook, Worcestershire, for the past eight years, said: 'It's an absolutely ridiculous situation.

'All I wanted was to protect my property but the wire had to go in case a thief scratched himself.

Article here. So sad.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

La chance

Tonight's lucky charms:

Election: NRA, GOA candidate ratings

NRA Political Victory Fund candidate ratings are available here. Click on your state to see how your candidates rank on gun rights issues.

Gunowners of America (GOA) presidential and vice-presidenital candidate assessments are available here.

GOA house and senate candidate ratings are available here.

Go look up your candidates' ratings and vote accordingly.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Chemistry explained

Tonight's chemistry lesson:


Vote Early, Vote Often -- Ohio Edition

From the Buckeye State:
A federal court ruling this week that requires Ohio’s secretary of state to cross-check new voter registrations against social security or vehicle registration databases could have major implications for Hamilton County, where elections officials believe thousands of fictitious registrations may have been filed.

The Hamilton County Board of Elections has received at least 10,000 duplicate voter registrations this year and possibly thousands of fictitious ones, according to deputy director John Williams. The deadline to register was Monday.

Officials don’t know how many of the registration cards are truly fictional because the local board – although it does have some safeguards in place to weed out problematic cards – has no method of cross checking the registrations against a state database.

That’s why cross-checks at the state level are so important.
Hamilton County received more than 160,000 documents this year related to voter registration and change of address. Of the more than 40,000 documents received from ACORN, about 10,000 have been duplicates and many have come back with invalid addresses. Of the remaining documents “I do believe fictitious ones are registered,” said Williams “We don’t cross check this. That’s supposed to be done on a state-wide database. So if that isn’t done, we don’t have the resources to do it.” [emphasis added]

He said multiple registrations came in with the same name, but slightly different addresses or birth dates. His office has received calls from people saying they never filled out a registration card.

Article here. Expect massive voter fraud this election, particularly in the battleground states.

Incorporation and the Nordyke case

From an article in Reason discussing the long-running Nordyke case, which I blogged about previously, and discussing the issue of whether the Second Amendment applies to state and local governments via the Fourteenth Amendment:
Nordyke, it now appears, might help with the answer. Last week, four preeminent legal scholars—Michael Kent Curtis, Richard Aynes, Michael Lawrence, and William W. Van Alstyne—filed a friend of the court brief arguing that the 14th Amendment "and specifically its privileges or immunities clause were designed to forbid states from abridging fundamental rights of citizens, including those rights in the Bill of Rights." The Second Amendment, of course, is right there on that list.
For its part, Alameda County currently maintains that, "the Second Amendment constrains only Congress," while the amendment's core purpose of " best advanced through the establishment and exercise of the police power." Which means that while Congress may not legally disarm the American people, state and local governments may.

Article here.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

100 Skills everyone should know

Tonight's instruction-fest: 100 Skills everyone should know (with videos)

Clinging to guns and religion in New York

From China Confidential:
Having grown up in New York City, on Manhattan's Upper West Side, during the turbulent 1950s and '60s, this Jew--a lifelong Zionist and National Rifle Association member--saw his neighborhood--in fact, his entire city--practically destroyed by left-liberal policies and ideology.

This Jew recalls the night when knife- and pipe-wielding, Black Muslims surrounded the brownstone building that housed the clubhouse, or moadon, of his Zionist youth movement chapter, and remembers well that it was the group's (legally owned and stored) arsenal of rifles--and willingness to use them in self-defense--that prevented a massacre of young Jews. This Jew also recalls taking part in armed patrols, approved by the local sheriff, to deter white hoodlums from burning down the youth movement's summer camp in Liberty, NY.

Read it here.

Just so long as it's not a handgun ...

From New York City, where handguns are verboten, but missiles are ok:
What's the easiest way to get a 25-foot-long missile into Manhattan?

Apparently, the Queens Midtown Tunnel.

A Long Island man offered up that astonishing answer yesterday to an incredulous judge in Manhattan federal court.

(Photo: NY Post)

Arye Sachs, 48, is being sued for trademark infringement by Pfizer Inc. for hauling the fake rocket emblazoned with the words "Viva Viagra" through Midtown last month.
Sachs also claimed he drove his "missile" through the Lincoln Tunnel five times, and was only stopped twice.

"They checked license and registration, but not the missile," he said.

Article here. Security theater at its finest. The TSA would be proud. If the terrorists develop a sense of humor, we're sunk.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The haircut

Tonight's laugh:


Manly man Putin releases Martial Arts DVD

From the UK Daily Mail, comes word of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's new martial arts video:
First we saw him shirtless while fishing.

Then he was pictured at the wheel of a massive racing truck and shooting a tiger in the Siberian forest with a tranquiliser.

He has also appeared operating a train, sailing on a submarine and co-piloting a fighter jet.

Now Vladimir Putin - the world's most manly leader - has released yet another display of his own masculinity: a DVD entitled 'Let's learn judo with Vladimir Putin'.

Today he presented the instructional judo DVD that shows him throwing an opponent to the mat.

'Let's Learn Judo with Vladimir Putin' is the product of collaboration between Putin - a black belt - and former World and Olympic judo champion Yasuhiro Yamashita.

Article here. I can't wait for President Obama's "Pilates for Community Organizers Socialists" DVD. Yeah, that'll intimidate the Russians.

Does it come in kevlar?

With violent crime in Mexico increasing, one enterprising fashionista has started selling bullet-resistant clothing, in designer styles:
MEXICO CITY — Exclusive clothing boutiques line Avenida Presidente Masarik here. A Burberry coat? A Corneliani suit? A Gucci scarf? Have enough pesos, and they are yours.

But tucked on a leafy side street in the Polanco neighborhood is a shop unlike the others, one whose bustling business says much about the dire state of security in this country. At Miguel Caballero, named after its Colombian owner, all the garments are bulletproof.

(Jackets at the Mexico City outlet of Miguel Caballero, a Colombian retailer who specializes in bulletproof clothing. The company’s customers include politicians, royalty and movie stars. Photo: Adriana Zehbrauskas / New York Times)

There are bulletproof leather jackets and bulletproof polo shirts. Armored guayabera shirts hang next to protective windbreakers, parkas and even white ruffled tuxedo shirts. Every member of the sales staff has had to take a turn being shot while wearing one of the products, which range from a few hundred dollars to as much as $7,000, so they can attest to the efficacy of the secret fabric.

Article here. Of course, now women will ask, "honey, does this make my butt look fat bulletproof?" :)

Canadian contrasts Canada with Switzerland

From Canada's Western Standard:
Christoph Kohring, a 39-year-old Swiss, introduced me to the audience while loading a Schmidt Rubin M-1931 7.5 mm carbine — also called the Mousqueton 1931 in French Switzerland — the rifle of the Swiss army during the Second World War. And before I started my speech, he also brought out a .357 Magnum and put it on the table in front of me, cylinder open, with a box of 50 cartridges. I know these revolvers: in Canada, I have owned a similar one for more than 25 years, which the state is now intent on confiscating.

In my speech, I talked about the symbolism of the right to keep and bear arms (“Armes for their defence”, as the 1689 Bill of Rights said), a right that historically belonged to the free man and was denied to slaves. I spoke of how just 100 years ago the right of ordinary individuals to own and, in many cases, to carry guns was generally recognized in the civilized world. I stressed the instrumental value of this right for self-defence against both common-law criminals and tyranny.

My speech was given in a Swiss wine cellar just a few days ago. I had been invited by Ruben Begert, 29, a captain in the Swiss army, to give an informal talk to, and to animate a discussion among, a small group of mostly young fans of the right to keep and bear arms. My long out-of-print little book, Le Droit de porter des armes (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1993), which was the first contemporary French book advocating this old individual right, has gained a small following as much in French Switzerland as in France.

Article here.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Musical interlude

Tonight's musical interlude:


Obama the Magnificent

From a WSJ op-ed today:
To kick off our show tonight, Mr. Obama will give 95% of American working families a tax cut, even though 40% of Americans today don't pay income taxes! How can our star enact such mathemagic? How can he "cut" zero? Abracadabra! It's called a "refundable tax credit." It involves the federal government taking money from those who do pay taxes, and writing checks to those who don't. Yes, yes, in the real world this is known as "welfare," but please try not to ruin the show.

For his next trick, the Great Obama will jumpstart the economy, and he'll do it by raising taxes on the very businesses that are today adrift in a financial tsunami! That will include all those among the top 1% of taxpayers who are in fact small-business owners, and the nation's biggest employers who currently pay some of the highest corporate tax rates in the developed world. Mr. Obama will, with a flick of his fingers, show them how to create more jobs with less money. It's simple, really. He has a wand.
We're back now. And just watch the Great Obama perform a feat never yet managed in all history. He will create that enormous new government health program, spend billions to transform our energy economy, provide financial assistance to former Soviet satellites, invest in infrastructure, increase education spending, provide job training assistance, and give 95% of Americans a tax (ahem) cut -- all without raising the deficit a single penny! And he'll do it in the middle of a financial crisis. And with falling tax revenues! Voila!

Read the op-ed here.

Black Conservative: "I escaped the plantation"

The leftist "liberal" plantation, that is:

NYC's only public range keeps low profile

Article in the NY Daily News on Manhattan's only public gun range:
At street level, you would never know bullets are flying below.

Pedestrians stroll these Chelsea sidewalks, walk crosstown toward Fifth Avenue or Broadway to have their nails painted blue at a salon or to purchase proper fashion accessories at United Colors of Benetton. They don’t notice the small plaque on the outside of the building at 20 W. 20 St. that advertises, “West Side Rifle and Pistol Range.” They don’t hear the dramatic bangs of the .45 revolvers or the softer pings of the .22 rifles firing in the basement.

But here, underground, is the only public shooting range left in Manhattan, populated by marksmen, riflewomen, law enforcement agents, security guards, actors and casual shooters who insist that firing a gun is as transcendent and euphoric as yoga - only with a trigger.

Article here. Isn't it remarkable that in a city of eight million people, there exists but a single public range? So sad.

Here's a video clip from another story on the range:

Another genius tries to catch a bullet

From the firearms-deprived United Kingdom:
A police weapons specialist who shot himself in the hand is suing the PSNI.

Peter Woods, 50, was dismantling a gun at a police facility in February last year when the accident happened.

It is understood that he removed the magazine from a pistol, but a bullet in the chamber fired into his hand. He recovered from his injury.

Lawyers for Mr Woods claimed in the High Court that proper safety procedures were not in place, and ammunition may have been faulty.

Article here. The article shows a picture of a Glock, although the text doesn't say what brand of gun was involved. Glocks, of course, require that the trigger by pressed -- after the gun has been unloaded, obviously -- in order to field strip the weapon. Sounds like Mr. Woods placed his hand in front of the barrel of a loaded Glock, then pressed the trigger. If so, he should not have been surprised when the red hole suddenly appeared in his hand. In addition, it sounds like the ammunition, far from being "faulty", worked as intended. :)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Things not to say to your wife

Tonight's spousal advice video:


Vote early, vote often

The Chicago Model, alive and well in Nevada:
Nevada state authorities seized records and computers Tuesday from the Las Vegas office of an organization that tries to get low-income people registered to vote, after fielding complaints of voter fraud.

Bob Walsh, spokesman for the Nevada secretary of state's office, told the raid was prompted by ongoing complaints about "erroneous" registration information being submitted by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, also called ACORN.

The group was submitting the information through a voter sign-up drive known as Project Vote.

"Some of them used nonexistent names, some of them used false addresses and some of them were duplicates of previously filed applications," Walsh said, describing the complaints, which largely came from the registrar in Clark County, Nev.
But it's not the first time ACORN's been under investigation for registration irregularities. The raid is the latest of at least nine investigations into possible fraudulent voter registration forms submitted by ACORN -- the probes have involved ACORN workers in Wisconsin, New Mexico, Indiana and other states.

In response to the Las Vegas raid, Republican Nevada Sen. John Ensign and seven other senators penned a letter to the Federal Housing Finance Agency calling for the suspension of taxpayer dollars to "controversial groups like ACORN." The letter referred to contributions that potentially could come from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac under the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. [emphasis added]

In 2006, ACORN also committed what Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed called the "worse case of election fraud" in the state's history.

In the case, ACORN submitted just over 1,800 new voter registration forms, and all but six of the 1,800 names were fake.

More recently, 27,000 registrations handled by the group from January to July 2008 "went into limbo because they were incomplete, inaccurate, or fraudulent," said James Terry, chief public advocate at the Consumers Rights League.

Article here. In a close election, where a few hundred or a couple thousand votes might make a difference, voter fraud could easily be the deciding factor. Hopefully, these "community organizers" aren't in your neighborhood. The really sad part is that your tax dollars might be helping fund these groups, as noted in the article.

Criminals for gun control

Finally, someone stands up for the poor oppressed criminals, as they speak out against the hostile work environment they face:

Please support gun-control -- do it "for the children criminals".

City council advises: Leave sheds open for thieves

From the sad spectacle that is modern day Britain:
Tenants have been warned that padlocks can lead to thieves forcing their way through doors and windows of the council-owned sheds to steal garden equipment.

Bristol City Council claims its 'Don't Use a Padlock' initiative will save taxpayers' money because fewer sheds will have to be repaired or replaced.

Its guide reads: "Don't padlock your shed; it can save the shed being damaged if someone does try to get into it.

"If there is a break-in, always inform the police."

Article here. I suppose the council's next bright idea will be to leave your homes and cars unlocked, because the crooks will only find a way to break in anyway. But remember, kids: "If there is a break-in, always inform the police."


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Something for your next workout

Tonight's workout item -- a lighted heavy bag that changes color the more you hit it:

Bambi becoming problem for Montana capital

From Big Sky country, comes this story of a burgeoning deer population becoming a problem in Helena, Montana:
HELENA, Mont. — Brown-eyed does, muscular bucks, and an assortment of fawns and yearlings have had the run of residential neighborhoods in this capital city, many for several generations.

Having lost any discernible fear of people, the deer chase paper deliverers, jump from bushes to roofs, terrorize dogs and drivers, and gobble up expensive gardens and landscaping.

Many of the city’s estimated 700 deer live their entire lives here, having their offspring under residents’ porches and decks. If left to their own devices, biologists say, the number of deer will grow as high as 1,200 by 2010.

But the deer’s reign is coming to a close.

The Helena Police Department recently began a program intended to reduce the adult deer population by 50 — more if the first phase is successful. Officers bait large net traps, called clover traps, with apples, grain and molasses.

Adult deer caught in the traps are killed instantly with a bolt gun, similar to the device used to kill cows in slaughterhouses. The animals are then taken to a state Fish, Wildlife and Parks center, butchered and their meat donated to the needy.

Article here. Hey, maybe they need an "Urban Deer Season" added to the hunting calendar. :)

Study shows gun shows don't increase suicides or homicides

From the Detroit News, on a new University of Michigan study that showed that guns shows don't increase suicide or homicide rates:
ANN ARBOR -- Gun shows don't contribute to increased homicide or suicide rates, according to results of a study announced Wednesday by the University of Michigan's Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

The joint University of Michigan and University of Maryland examination of gun death data in the weeks surrounding more than 3,400 California and Texas gun shows concluded tighter regulation of the flea market-like operations did nothing to reduce firearms-related deaths in the following month.

Researchers compared gunshot death data surrounding every known gun show in California and Texas between 1994 and 2004. California has some of the most stringent gun sale rules in the country. Texas is among the least restrictive.

"To the extent that 33 regulations such as those in place in California reduce any deleterious effects of gun shows, one might expect to detect a larger effect in a relatively unregulated state such as Texas. Our results, however, provide no evidence to suggest that gun shows lead to a substantial increase in the number of homicides or suicides in either California or Texas," said U-M professor Brian Jacob, head of the Ford School's Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy.

Article here.

A little too real ....

When Civil War re-enactments get a little too realistic:
Was it the South rising again? Or just a very uncivil blunder on a hallowed Virginia battleground?

After Mr. Lord was shot, a truce was called while medical personnel attended to him. Mr. Lord was released from the hospital this week, but the police in Isle of Wright County, Va. still did not have a suspect.

Either way, Thomas Lord, a Bronx-born Yankee, felt the bite of a rebel bullet in Dixie last weekend, 143 years after the surrender at Appomattox. He was the latest casualty of a national conflict under re-enactment most anytime, anywhere above and below the Mason-Dixon line, although not normally with live ammunition.

“I’ve never been shot before,” said Mr. Lord, 73, a former New York police officer and a corporal in the Seventh New York Volunteer Cavalry, or rather, a latter-day and somewhat aged replica of that unit.

Article here.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Star Trek v. Star Wars

Tonight's intergalactic matchup:

Jumping out of a perfectly good airplane ...

From the Telegraph, comes word of the first skydives over Mt. Everest:
Adventurer Holly Budge, 29, described the experience as "amazing, just spectacular" after making a safe landing at 3,900 metres (12,870 feet).

(A skydiver plummets to earth near Kathmandu. Photo: GETTY IMAGES)

The Hampshire camerawoman was one of three skydivers in Nepal to make the first plunge from above the world's highest peak.

"We had one minute of freefall and while we were above the clouds you could see Everest and the other high mountains popping out of the top," she said.

The trio, described by onlookers are looking "like tiny birds flying in the blue sky", faced sub-zero temperatures and fast-changing weather when they touched down in the foothills of the mountain.
Skydiving at altitudes just higher than the summit of Mount Everest created numerous challenges for the project.

Due to the thin air, their parachutes were three times the size of regular ones, and the jumpers used oxygen tanks strapped to their waists.

They also wore neoprene undersuits and thermal gear to keep out the freezing temperatures as they leapt out at about 8,940 metres (29,500 feet).

Article here.

Obama's attempt to destroy the Second Amendment

From a Pajamas Media article by noted pro-gun attorney David Hardy:
During Obama’s tenure, the Joyce Foundation board planned and implemented a program targeting the Supreme Court. The work began five years into Obama’s directorship, when the Foundation had experience in turning its millions into anti-gun “grassroots” organizations, but none at converting cash into legal scholarship.

The plan’s objective was bold: the judicial obliteration of the Second Amendment.

Joyce’s directors found a vulnerable point. When judges cannot rely upon past decisions, they sometimes turn to law review articles. Law reviews are impartial, and famed for meticulous cite-checking. They are also produced on a shoestring. Authors of articles receive no compensation; editors are law students who work for a tiny stipend.

In 1999, midway through Obama’s tenure, the Joyce board voted to grant the Chicago-Kent Law Review $84,000, a staggering sum by law review standards. The Review promptly published an issue in which all articles attacked the individual right view of the Second Amendment.

In a breach of law review custom, Chicago-Kent let an “outsider” serve as editor; he was Carl Bogus, a faculty member of a different law school. Bogus had a unique distinction: he had been a director of Handgun Control Inc. (today’s Brady Campaign), and was on the advisory board of the Joyce-funded Violence Policy Center.

Bogus solicited only articles hostile to the individual right view of the Second Amendment, offering authors $5,000 each. ...

Go read the article here. Having served as an editor on law review during my law school days, I can say that the arrangement of having an outsider edit an issue would be quite unusual. Having all articles in a "theme" issue, particularly on a topic as contentious as gun-control or the Second Amendment, reflect only one side of the argument with no opposing viewpoints would also be highly unusual.

Gun rights group takes open carry complaint to City Council

As noted previously, the Virginia Citizens Defense League will again complain to the Norfolk, VA City Council about the treatment of open-carry by Norfolk police:
Once again, members of a guns-rights advocacy group are coming to City Hall, claiming their rights have been violated by the police.

The Virginia Citizens Defense League, a Northern Virginia-based group, said 100 or more of its members will descend upon Tuesday's City Council meeting to vent their displeasure, many with guns holstered to their hips.

The group is upset about a police confrontation involving a member carrying a weapon openly, which is legal in Virginia.

Article here. Politicians don't seem to get it -- criminals don't typically carry their guns openly; law-abiding citizens do. Criminals generally carry concealed because they don't want anyone to know they are armed, especially since no convicted felon can legally even possess, much less carry, a gun.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The subprime mess, explained

Tonight's financial satire, kind of:

Don't know whether to laugh or cry, do you? Sigh.

[Via The Big Picture]

Only viewpoints we like, please

From the Washington Post:
During a week that librarians nationwide are highlighting banned books, conservative Christian students and parents showcased their own collection outside a Fairfax County high school yesterday -- a collection they say was banned by the librarians themselves.

More than 40 students, many wearing black T-shirts stamped with the words "Closing Books Shuts Out Ideas," said they tried to donate more than 100 books about homosexuality to more than a dozen high school libraries in the past year. The initiative, organized by Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family, was intended to add a conservative Christian perspective to shelves that the students said are stocked with "pro-gay" books.
Fairfax County's policy on library book selection says "the collection should support the diverse interests, needs and viewpoints of the school community." But library officials said donated and purchased books alike are evaluated by the same standards, including two positive reviews from professionally recognized journals.

None of the donated titles met that standard, said Susan Thornily, coordinator of library information services for Fairfax schools. Some librarians also said that the nonfiction books were heavy on scripture but light on research, or that the books would make gay students "feel inferior," she said.

Article here.

Obama-speak, translated

Senator Obama's "Plan for Change", with subtitles for the hearing bitter-impaired:

Ninth Circuit may rule on Second Amendment incorporation issue

The San Francisco-based Ninth Circuit, which has jurisdiction over California (and a bunch of large Western states), looks set to address the Second Amendment incorporation issue in the wake of the Supreme Court's Heller decision in the long-running case of Nordyke v. King, a case in which gun show organizers challenged Alameda County, California's prohibition against possession of firearms on county property. The challenged county ordinance effectively shut down the plaintiffs gun shows, which had been held on county property.

Read a summary of the case and its long history here.

Read the Ninth Circuit panel's decision (from 2003!) upholding the trial court's denial of the plaintiff's preliminary injunction application here. Interestingly, the three judge panel that upheld the lower court's decision suggested that, were they not bound by Circuit precedent (Hickman v. Block, a Ninth Circuit decision from 1996) that held the Second Amendment was a collective, rather than an individual, right, that they may have ruled differently on the issue. Indeed, one of the judges wrote a concurring opinion stating that the collective rights view the panel was forced by the binding Hickman precedent to follow was wrong. In 2007, the district court ruled against the plaintiffs and for the county, and the plaintiffs appealed. In light of the Supreme Court's Heller ruling, the appeals court allowed the parties to brief the Second Amendment incorporation issue. The original three judge panel from 2003 is expected to retain jurisdiction and hear the appeal.

Reply and amicus briefs are available here (PDF).

Alameda County, naturally, opposes the application of the Second Amendment to the state or political subdivisions such as itself. Read the county's brief here.

This case may be one of the first post-Heller cases to address whether the Second Amendment's protections apply to states and their political subdivisions (cities, towns, counties, etc.), or only against the federal government. Ultimately, the Supreme Court will probably need to decide the issue, but the federal appeals courts will need to weigh in first. This may be the powerful Ninth Circuit's chance to do so.

St. Louis politician tells constituents to arm themselves

From the you-won't-see-this-in-New-York files:
Ward One Alderman Charles Quincy Troupe says shootings happen in his district on an almost regular basis, so he’s calling on the more law abiding citizens of his Ward to be armed with guns for protection.
Troupe is encouraging his constituents to arm themselves for protection, but also wants them to call police “your only challenge is to stay alive until police get there and the only way for you to do that, in many cases, is to own a gun, know how to use it, and more importantly know when to use it.”

Article here.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

You know you're a geek, if ...

You wear wedding rings like this:

Matching male-female RJ-45 connector wedding rings available here.

Illinois gun owners dispute Obama's claim as advocate of gun rights

The Illinois State Rifle Association (ISRA) has taken issue with Senator Obama's claim in a recent issue of Field & Stream that he's a friend of gun owners:
"One of the most blatant lies ever to come from a politician's mouth," is how the ISRA is characterizing a recent statement by U.S. Senator Barack Obama. Speaking in the latest issue of "Field & Stream," Obama claims that Illinois sportsmen know him as an advocate for their rights. On the contrary, Obama's voting record while a state senator clearly indicates that he has nothing but contempt for the law-abiding firearm owner.

"Any sportsman who counts Barack Obama as one of his friends is seriously confused," said ISRA Executive Director Richard Pearson. "Throughout his tenure in the Illinois Senate, Obama served as one of the most loyal foot soldiers in Mayor Daley's campaign to abolish civilian firearm ownership. While a state senator, Obama voted for legislation that would ban and forcibly confiscate nearly every shotgun, target rifle and hunting rifle in the state. Obama also voted for bills that would ration the number of firearms a law-abiding citizen could own, yet give a pass to
the violent thugs who roam our streets. And, inexplicably, Obama voted four times against legislation that would allow citizens to use firearms to defend their homes and families."
"Nobody knows Obama's record on guns better than I do, and it's rotten to the core," said Pearson. "I've been involved in Illinois politics nearly as long as Obama has been alive. In that time, I have never encountered a legislator who was more hostile towards or more disinterested in sportsmen's rights than Barack Obama."

Read ISRA's position here. With "friends" like Barack Obama, gun owners don't need enemies.

The integrity gap

Good article on the rise of Gov. Sarah Palin, and the independence and integrity that got her to the Alaska governor's job:
One of the most basic ways in which a candidate can demonstrate the integrity voters are looking for is to build a record of standing up to corruption and waste - and doing so even when it appears in his or her own party, or on the part of his or her own allies or backers. This is not just a matter of honesty and prudence, but of toughness and courage. Let me offer a contrast between the two tickets on this issue - an Integrity Gap that Obama simply can't surmount and can only hope to obscure. If you look at the record of the McCain-Palin ticket and compare it to the Obama-Biden record in this regard, it really is no contest. I will start with the junior members of the two tickets. Governor Sarah Palin, in her short career, has fought many battles against her own party's entrenched interests; Senator Barack Obama, in a career of similar length and scope, has consistently looked the other way, and worse. Sen. Obama simply lacks the courage and the record of accomplishment of Gov. Palin. Today I will look at Gov. Palin's record; in Part II I will deal with Sen. Obama. Part III will deal with the senior members of the two tickets, Senator John McCain and Senator Joe Biden. [emphasis in original]

On the surface, Sarah Palin's career path looks much like Barack Obama's: both spent around a decade laboring in the vineyards of local politics before seeing their careers abruptly go up like a rocket all the way to the center of the national political stage. But look closer, and you will see all the difference in the world in the choices they made to get there.

Read it here. Article is long, with links to sources, but a good read if you want to know Gov. Palin's political history and the battles she fought, many against her own party, in fighting corruption and wasteful spending.

Seven year old database hasn't solved a single crime

From the Washington Post, on New York State's seven year old ballistics database:
ALBANY, N.Y. -- New York's seven-year-old database of handgun "fingerprints" has yet to lead to a criminal prosecution, and questions linger about its effectiveness. Still, state police remain committed to the tool, saying that more time and a long-awaited link to a federal ballistics database could bring success.

Since March 2001, identifying information about more than 200,000 new revolvers and semiautomatic pistols sold in New York have been entered into the Combined Ballistic Identification System database maintained by state police. New York and Maryland are the only states that maintain statewide databases.

Article here. The article says that operating the database costs a million bucks a year. What an enormous waste of money.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Lose your camera?

Lost your camera, and those once-in-a-lifetime photos on it? Matt Preprost, a Canadian student, has started a blog where he hopes to reunite lost cameras and photos with their owners. Here's a video about the project:

See his blog at:


A couple of links to potential innovations.

From Wired, on DARPA's Super-Resolution Vision System (SRVS), a system that aims (pun intended) to provide enhanced optics for snipers:
Heat haze ordinarily throws off snipers. But SRVS changes heat haze from an obstruction into a means of enhancing the view. An effect called " turbulence-induced micro-lensing" means that every instant the heated air acts as a series of lenses; at a given moment you may be able to look right through them and see a magnified view of the scene beyond. The trick is to use digital technology to identify the "lucky regions" or "lucky frames" when a clear view appears and assemble them into a complete picture.

The end result is a portable device 35 centimeters long and weighing two kilogram with an unprecedented capability. This sniper scope can beat the 'diffraction limit,' which defines the best that any other optical device can do -- in conditions of severe heat haze, no less.

And from AFCEA (Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association) on SRVS and on developing radar-based sensors that can "see" through buildings:
If tracking targets at extreme visual range is challenging for U.S. forces, an even more pressing concern is locating enemy units hiding in buildings. The Visibuilding program is designed to meet the military’s need to extend intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities in urban operations.

Visibuilding relies on radio frequency (RF) technology, predominantly radar, to scan structures. The main challenge is developing the means to gain deeper RF penetration into buildings and forming the reflected signals into an accurate building model, says Program Manager Dr. Edward J. Baranoski. He explains that DARPA’s approach is very different from traditional radar techniques, such as synthetic aperture radar (SAR) systems. Conventional radars can image relatively clearly in open space, but in high, multipath environments, such as in built-up urban areas, sensing becomes more difficult. DARPA scientists are trying to improve sensing characteristics to sharpen and produce more data than a standard SAR image, which only produces data when it scans a building’s internal spaces. “We are trying to give warfighters the layout of the building—where insurgents would be inside the building and also to help find large quantities of materials that are inconsistent with the building. This particular technology won’t be able to identify materials, but if you have two tons of metal in an upstairs bedroom, it could be a weapons cache—that certainly is not consistent with the standard use of a residential building,” Baranoski shares.

Your tax dollars at work.

Virginia open carrier hassled ... again

From VCDL:
As you might recall, Norfolk paid VCDL member Danladi Moore $10,000 for unlawfully harassing him for openly carrying a gun. The check was barely in the bank when the Norfolk police did it to him again on a Norfolk bus, as was detailed in the VCDL mini-update on September 22nd.

You would think that Norfolk would have learned their lesson (don't forget that Chet Szymecki and his wife, Deborah, each still have lawsuits against Norfolk in federal court over Chet's unlawful arrest last year in Norfolk, too).

We need you to join us next Tuesday, October 7th, as we tell City Council that these repeated violations are not acceptable.

As Ian Fleming wrote in the James Bond novel, "Goldfinger" - "Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, the third time is enemy action."

Read the alert here with details on the City Council meeting. Please consider attending if you live in the area to support VCDL and your open-carry rights.

UK Police confiscate walking stick from retired teacher

From the headquarters of the former British Empire:
They must have known he was a troublemaker the moment they saw him.

With his white hair, wax jacket and glasses, 78-year-old Philip Clarkson Webb clearly ticked all the boxes any eagle-eyed policemen would mark as 'danger'.

And as he shuffled along the pavement towards them there was one thing above all they deemed to pose a threat - his walking stick.

The officers surrounded the retired classics teacher and informed him the 3ft wooden cane was an 'offensive weapon' and had to be confiscated.

Article here. In trained hands, walking sticks can be used as effective weapons in both an offensive and defensive capacity, although this case seems like an overreaction by police. Mr Clarkson Webb, the retiree whose walking stick was confiscated, was reportedly attending a seminar at which there were environmental activists demonstrating, although he reportedly was not one of the activists.

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Milkman

Tonight's contemplation, from Siggie:
There was a man from my youth that left a lasting impression on a future blogger. I shall call him Mr. Smith.

Mr. Smith was a milkman- not the ideal profession for anyone seeking security, prosperity and advancement in the 60’s and 70’s. He was a widower, left with 3 daughters to raise on his own. His wife passed away at a young age from a cancer that was diagnosed too late.

Mr. Smith dutifully completed his rounds, everyday, delivering milk and eggs, cheese and butter, to those who felt sorry enough for him to pay the extra few cents so he could make a living and raise his daughters. My parents were among the clients who got to know him and appreciate his ever happy disposition.

The milkman would regale his clients with his weather predictions, warnings of traffic safety and stories of his growing daughters. He would beam with pride as he recounted every prize and spelling bee won, every report card and every milestone passed. I thought that kind of pride was silly and believed my mother or father only feigned interest in Mr Smith’s stories, because they felt sorry for him.

When I became an uncle and then a parent and began to watch the children of my closest friends take their first tentative steps in life, I understood that my parents weren’t feigning interest at all in the well being of Mr Smith’s daughters. I recall that on the first night my daughter was home after her birth, there was an accident that resulted in the death of a child. I watched the report on TV intently and was profoundly upset by the event. I had never paid attention to the reports of traffic accidents before. Now, I was in despair for those poor parents.

In any event, my father always spoke highly of Mr. Smith, but I never paid attention, nor even cared. That our milkman would have a huge impact on my life would be apparent to me, years later.

Read the rest here. Moving.

Champions of gun-control

Barack and Joe, "supporters" of the Second Amendment, from their own website:
Address Gun Violence in Cities: As president, Barack Obama would repeal the Tiahrt Amendment, which restricts the ability of local law enforcement to access important gun trace information, and give police officers across the nation the tools they need to solve gun crimes and fight the illegal arms trade. Obama and Biden also favor commonsense measures that respect the Second Amendment rights of gun owners, while keeping guns away from children and from criminals who shouldn't have them. They support closing the gun show loophole and making guns in this country childproof. They also support making the expired federal Assault Weapons Ban permanent, as such weapons belong on foreign battlefields and not on our streets.

See here. As I've noted previously, the Tiahrt Amendment doesn't "restrict the ability of local law enforcement to access important gun trace data" for legitimate law enforcement purposes.

Georgia gun rights group to appeal judge's ruling

As previously noted, a federal judge recently ruled against's lawsuit against the city of Atlanta seeking to allow concealed carry permit holders to carry in the non-secure areas of Atlanta's airport.

Now comes news that will appeal the judge's dismissal of the group's lawsuit:
GCO [] has filed a notice of appeal from the September 26, 2008 judgment of the federal court in GCO’s case against the City of Atlanta regarding the City’s program of illegally searching, detaining, and arresting GFL holders for lawfully carrying firearms in the non-secure areas of the Atlanta airport. The appeal will be heard by a 3-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

Hopefully's appeal will prove successful.

Any color you want, as long as it's ...

Lauer Custom Weaponry, a WIsconsin company that sells paint kits for guns, has added a new color -- "Furious Mike", a bright-red hue named after anti-gun New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg:
The Wisconsin company that earned Mayor Bloomberg's ire by selling paint kits for rifles and handguns is firing back - by selling a bright-red shade called "Furious Mike."

"As long as he keeps attacking, we'll keep fighting back," said Steve Lauer of Lauer Custom Weaponry, which sells kits in 145 colors. "He's just trying to put me out of business."

Bloomberg spearheaded a move to ban colored guns in New York in 2006, saying kids, cops or anyone else might assume a loaded weapon was just a toy - with deadly consequences.
Buying and using those kits in the city has been illegal since 2006, but Lauer said purchasers in the city - many of them cops - are willing to take the chance.

"We have packages go out to New York City every single day - I mean, more than one," Lauer said. "The customers apparently don't care. ... They're the ones who are taking the risk."

Each kit shipped to a city address gets a special rubber stamp on the outside with a caricature of a scowling Bloomberg and the ironic slogan "Mayor Approved."

Article here. A follow-up article has a photo of an AR-15 painted in "Furious Mike":

(Photo: NY Daily News)

That's pretty ugly to my eyes, but whatever floats your boat. :)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

What am I talking about?

In humble anticipation of Joe "Gaffemeister" Biden's performance tonight:

Global air traffic

Tonight's video is a simulation of global air traffic over a 24 hour period:

VP debate moderator may gain financially from Obama victory?

The lone vice-presidential debate between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden takes place tonight. PBS' Gwen Ifill will be moderating the debate. Apparently, it turns out Ms. Ifill has written a book entitled The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama, whose publication is scheduled for January 20, 2009, a.k.a. Inauguration Day.

It stands to reason that Ms. Ifill's book will likely sell a lot more copies if Obama is elected President, than if McCain is elected President. So it looks like the moderator of the vice-presidential debate has a vested financial interest in seeing the Democratic ticket get elected over the Republican ticket.

Yet Ms. Ifill reportedly failed to disclose that she was writing the book to the Commission on Presidential Debates, the body that sponsors and organizes the presidential and vice-presidential debates:
The host of PBS’ “Washington Week” and senior correspondent on “The NewsHour” said she did not tell the Commission on Presidential Debates about the book. The commission had no immediate comment when contacted by The Associated Press.

We will have to see whether Ms. Ifill will moderate in a non-partisan way despite her apparent conflict of interest. Thanks to the blogosphere, at least we know about her potential conflict of interest.

Another open carrier arrested in Ohio

Another open-carry incident in the Buckeye State:
Greg Llewellyn, his girlfriend and four friends were sipping hot tea outside a West Side coffee shop on a recent August night when a pair of Cleveland police officers approached with guns drawn.
The officers arrested him for carrying a concealed weapon. Llewellyn protested, saying he was not trying to hide the gun, because Ohio law allowed him to openly carry it in public.

The officers didn't buy his argument and sent Llewellyn to jail and confiscated his rare pistol.

Unless he was truly trying to hide the gun, the law appears to be on Llewellyn's side.
Cleveland has a local ordinance prohibiting open carry, and police are under orders by Mayor Frank Jackson to continue enforcing the local rules despite the state law, according to Lt. Thomas Stacho, a department spokesman.

However, Llewellyn was not charged with violating the city ordinance, just the state law. Unfamiliar with the case, Stacho said that meant that the arresting officers must have felt Llewellyn was hiding the gun.
Llewellyn is a transplant from New Hampshire who has called Ohio home the past 18 months but has moved to several Cleveland addresses. A bicyclist who works as a bike mechanic, Llewellyn said he was robbed at gunpoint earlier this year for the $5 he had in his pocket.

He decided then he wanted to get a gun for protection and bought his pistol from a former roommate for $100. But because he had recently moved (and has since moved again) Llewellyn had not established residency for at least four months to qualify for a concealed-carry permit.

He then learned that he could carry openly until he could get a concealed license.

He was arrested on Aug. 18, pleaded not guilty last week and was assigned a public defender.

"I think my case is pretty clear-cut," he said. "Any lawyer who understands the law should be able to help me get this dropped and get my weapon back."

Article here. While not an option for the gentleman in the article, since he reportedly hadn't yet met the residency requirement to apply for a concealed permit, having a concealed carry permit has the advantage of not worrying whether the gun is concealed (even accidentally) or not. Of course, those in places like Texas, which I believe prohibits open carry, are stuck with concealed carry only.

Weapons charges dropped, federal "traveler's defense" law cited

A press release issued by the attorneys representing a man charged with felony firearms offenses while traveling through New York City appears to cite the protections for interstate travelers embodied in the 1986 Firearms Owners' Protection Act (FOPA):
New York criminal defense law firm Tilem & Campbell ( announced today that all charges were dismissed against a client charged with possessing a loaded firearm in Bronx County, New York. The firm relied on the largely unknown federal travelers' defense which grants a defense to state gun charges for those traveling interstate with their firearms. The client was originally charged with a class "C" violent felony and was facing a mandatory minimum sentence of three and a half years in state prison and up to fifteen years in state prison if convicted; he was needless to say ecstatic with the outcome.

The Federal Travelers' Defense permits a citizen who is not barred from possessing guns to legally transport one or more guns from one state where he legally possesses that gun to another state where he may lawfully possess that gun, without regard to the gun laws in every state he passes through on the trip. The defense is only available if the gun is unloaded, and if neither the gun nor ammunition is accessible from the passenger compartment of the vehicle.

In 2006, New York State amended its gun laws, increasing the penalties for possessing a loaded firearm outside a person's home or place of business to a minimum sentence of three and one-half years and a maximum sentence of fifteen years.

Read the press release here. Another reminder to those traveling cross-country with firearms to avoid jurisdictions unfriendly to gun owners, when possible. And when such avoidance is not possible, to transit the unfriendly jurisdiction unobtrusively, i.e., fastidiously obeying speed limits and traffic regulations, not stopping to "sightsee" (thereby potentially negating the FOPA travelers protections), etc.

Even through charges against the citizen were ultimately dismissed, the citizen had to go through being arrested, and the stress of facing felony charges and a mandatory minimum three and a half year prison sentence if convicted. If convicted, he would have additionally been penalized with the loss of firearms and other rights due to his status as a convicted felon. In the end, he's probably "only" facing a hefty lawyer's bill. He's a free man, but a lot poorer.