Friday, July 31, 2009

Hooter's girl barstool rodeo

Tonight's ride 'em cowgirl:

Ninth Circuit agrees to review Second Amendment panel ruling

From SCOTUSblog we learn that the Ninth Circuit, based in San Francisco, has agreed to an en banc rehearing of the Nordyke ruling, which held that the Second Amendment applied to the states (see my post here for details on the Nordyke ruling).

From SCOTUSblog, on what this means for the pending petitions before the Supreme Court in Second Amendment cases:
Without a conflict, the Supreme Court may wish to wait for the issue to percolate further in lower courts. The issue also roiled the nomination hearings for Justice-designate Sonia Sotomayor, perhaps raising the sensitivity of the issue to the point that the Court might be reluctant to take it on when the lower courts are not in disagreement on it.

On Wednesday, the Ninth Circuit Court voted to review en banc a three-judge panel decision in April, extending the Second Amendment right to have a gun for personal self-defense so that it would restrict or nullify state, county and city gun control laws. The effect of that order, of course, was to vacate the panel decision. Thus, the disagreement between that panel and the Second and Seventh Circuits no longer exists — at least until the Ninth Circuit, or some other Circuit Court, weighs in on the issue.

Without the so-called "circuit split" on the Second Amendment incorporation issue between the Ninth, Second, and Seventh Circuits, the Supreme Court may be more inclined to defer the pending petitions related to the Chicago gun ban case and the Maloney (nunchaku) case from New York until after the Ninth Circuit has had a chance to rule on the issue.

I wouldn't be surprised if this is merely another delaying tactic by the notoriously Left-leaning Ninth Circuit to postpone a Supreme Court ruling on the incorporation issue. Sigh. As the old civil rights mantra proclaims: Justice delayed, is justice denied.

Learning to trust that hunch

From the New York Times, on the value of soldiers in combat learning to trust their instincts:
The sight was not that unusual, at least not for Mosul, Iraq, on a summer morning: a car parked on the sidewalk, facing opposite traffic, its windows rolled up tight. Two young boys stared out the back window, kindergarten age maybe, their faces leaning together as if to share a whisper.

The soldier patrolling closest to the car stopped. It had to be hot in there; it was 120 degrees outside. “Permission to approach, sir, to give them some water,” the soldier said to Sgt. First Class Edward Tierney, who led the nine-man patrol that morning.

“I said no — no,” Sergeant Tierney said in a telephone interview from Afghanistan. He said he had an urge to move back before he knew why: “My body suddenly got cooler; you know, that danger feeling.”

The United States military has spent billions on hardware, like signal jamming technology, to detect and destroy what the military calls improvised explosive devices, or I.E.D.’s, the roadside bombs that have proved to be the greatest threat in Iraq and now in Afghanistan, where Sergeant Tierney is training soldiers to foil bomb attacks.

Still, high-tech gear, while helping to reduce casualties, remains a mere supplement to the most sensitive detection system of all — the human brain. Troops on the ground, using only their senses and experience, are responsible for foiling many I.E.D. attacks, and, like Sergeant Tierney, they often cite a gut feeling or a hunch as their first clue. ...

Article here. These danger-sensing abilities have their genesis in our ancient, primeval ancestors, who developed these skills to stay alive. Those that didn't became food for predators, and their genes didn't propagate.

Unfortunately, modern humans often ignore these subconscious signals of danger. Sometimes, the reason for ignoring the "gut feeling" of impending danger is due to the fear of being labeled as paranoid, or racist (if the danger is represented by a person(s) of another race), or often simply being unaware of the marvelous data processing and percipient abilities of our own subconscious mind, which can pick up and identify subtle clues of possible danger long before our conscious mind can analyze and come to the same conclusion.

For those who haven't read it, Gavin DeBecker's book The Gift of Fear discusses the role of intuition in situational awareness and identifying and avoiding danger, and may be a useful addition to your library: The Gift of Fear

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Tonight's humor:
God was missing for six days. Eventually, Michael, the archangel, found him, resting on the seventh day. He inquired, “Where have you been?”

God smiled deeply and proudly pointed downwards through the clouds, “Look, Michael. Look what I’ve made.”

Archangel Michael looked puzzled, and said, “What is it?”

”It’s a planet,” replied God, “and I’ve put life on it ... I’m going to call it Earth and it’s going to be a place to test Balance.”

“Balance?” inquired Michael, “I’m still confused.”

God explained, pointing to different parts of earth. “For example, Northern Europe will be a place of great opportunity and wealth, while Southern Europe is going to be poor. Over here I’ve placed a continent of white people, and over there is a continent of black people. Balance in all things.”

God continued pointing to different countries. “This one will be extremely hot, while this one will be very cold and covered in ice.”

Archangel Michael, impressed by God’s work, then pointed to a land area and said, “What’s that one?”

“That’s Washington State, the most glorious place on earth. There are beautiful mountains, rivers and streams, lakes, forests, hills, and plains. The people from Washington State are going to be handsome, modest, intelligent, and humorous, and they are going to travel the world. They will be extremely sociable, hardworking, high achieving, carriers of peace, and producers of aircraft and software.”

Michael gasped in wonder and admiration, but then asked, “But what about balance, God? You said there would be balance.”

God smiled, “There’s another Washington, on the other side of the country. Wait till you see the idiots I put there.”


Seven ways to score big when stores go bust

Thinking of shopping that going-out-of-business sale? Read this Minyanville article before you plunk down your hard-earned cash for those "final sale" prices, which may not be all that good a deal:
"Thank you and farewell," read the somber subject line in my email. The sender was Smith & Hawken, purveyor of pricey garden tools.

I guess I lost that game of chicken. I'd been waiting for a mid-summer sale to replace my cheesy plastic garden chairs with some of that fancy teak "outdoor furniture" they sell… or used to sell.

Smith & Hawken, a subsidiary of Scotts Miracle-Gro (SMG), just bit the dust -- so to speak.
A shopping opportunity, you think? Maybe not. The "final liquidation sale" isn’t as enticing as it sounds. Especially right now, but more on that later.

You're probably a (federal) criminal

From an article by Brian Walsh of the Heritage Foundation, on the proliferation of federal criminal laws:
With all the attention that's been paid lately to long federal sentences for drug offenders, it's surprising that a far more troubling phenomenon has barely hit the media's radar screen. Every year, thousands of upstanding, responsible Americans run afoul of some incomprehensible federal law or regulation and end up serving time in federal prison.

What is especially disturbing is that it could happen to anyone at all -- and it has.

We should applaud Reps. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), then, for holding a bipartisan hearing today to examine how federal law can make a criminal out of anyone, for even the most mundane conduct.

Federal law in particular now criminalizes entire categories of activities that the average person would never dream would land him in prison. This is an inevitable result of the fact that the criminal law is no longer restricted to punishing inherently wrongful conduct -- such as murder, rape, robbery, and the like.

Moreover, under these new laws, the government can often secure a conviction without having to prove that the person accused even intended to commit a bad act, historically a protection against wrongful conviction.

Laws like this are dangerous in the hands of social engineers and ambitious lawmakers -- not to mention overzealous prosecutors -- bent on using government's greatest civilian power to punish any activity they dislike. So many thousands of criminal offenses are now in federal law that a prominent federal appeals court judge titled his recent essay on this overcriminalization problem, "You're (Probably) a Federal Criminal." ...

Read the rest here. With the possible exception of large corporations with dedicated legal and regulatory compliance staffs, it's often quite difficult to successfully navigate the morass of all the federal laws and agency regulations. Not to mention all the state laws and regulations. We are truly an over-regulated, and not surprisingly, over-lawyered, society.

In addition, when the ordinary citizen perceives the law's purpose as not to protect (their rights, property, etc.), but rather to punish, the effect is to create an adversarial and distrustful view of the law. And when the law becomes so complex and convoluted that ordinary people cannot decipher its cryptic meaning without hiring a gaggle of lawyers, the populace naturally tends to lose respect for the law -- if you don't know what the law is, and can't figure out what the law is without a lawyer, how can you comply with it?

Indeed, if we're all criminals in the eyes of the law, why bother obeying any law or legal decree, other than the traditional prohibitions against such malum in se acts as murder, rape, robbery, etc.?

The end result of over-reaching federal (and state) criminal laws is distrust and loss of respect for the law, which does not bode well for our Republic.

Defensive gun use counter

Here's a flash widget you can add to your blog / website:

Get the widget here.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Fishing, Aussie-style

Tonight's fishing lesson, Down Under version:

Bear attack, Wyoming edition

From bear country:
Jerry Ruth saw the grizzly for just a fraction of a second before it was on him.

Within seconds, the 275-pound animal had crushed the Wyoming man's jaw when it bit him in the face, fractured his rib and punctured his lung and left deep bite wounds in his calf and scratches across his back.

After the attack, the bear left him for her three cubs that Ruth saw for the first time as he lay bleeding on the dirt. When it reached the cubs about 15 yards away, the bear turned toward him again, "squaring off" as if to charge, Ruth recalled Friday.

Ruth grabbed for the .41-caliber magnum revolver he was carrying in a hip holster and relied on his training and experience as a police officer to save his life. He fired three times, saving three bullets in case his first shots failed.

But the bear dropped and didn't move, ending the furious encounter as swiftly as it started. ...

Article here. Mr. Ruth, a retired cop, is lucky to be alive given the nature and extent of his injuries. The article notes that he always carried his gun whenever he ventured into the backcountry around his house, diligence that probably saved his life.

ObamaCare cost saving flowchart

Today's not so kind and compassionate ObamaCare flowchart, from Tom McMahon's 4-Block World:

So you "Support the Second Amendment"? Prove it, Mr. and Mrs. Politician

David Codrea shares his questionnaire for pinning down slippery politicians who say they "support the Second Amendment":
Long story short: A few years back, I developed a political questionnaire to help pin down the double-speak and weasel words that are the norm. It's past time for people who would presume to represent us to show us they understand what our rights are. I expect them to consider the right to keep and bear arms not as an embarrassing lip service requirement, but as an enshrined unalienable right. I don't want them just to defend it, I want them to know how and why to proudly champion it.

Here it is. Consider using it to pin down the next fork-tongued glad-hander who solicits you for support. And let them know you intend to make their answers--or lack of response--available to every gun owner within your sphere of influence:

1. Do you believe that the Constitution is the "supreme law of the land" and that the Bill of Rights acknowledges our birthrights?

2. If so, should these rights be proactively protected from infringement by all levels of government, including city, county and state?

3. Please give some examples of gun laws you consider constitutional.

4. Please give some examples of gun laws you consider unconstitutional.

5. Does the right to bear arms include the right for any peaceable citizen to carry them concealed without a permit, as in Vermont?

6. Do you believe that Americans have a right to own, use and carry weapons of military pattern, and will you use the prestige of elected office to publicly promote that right?

7. Do you support or oppose registration of weapons? Why? ...

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tricks of the trade

Tonight's occupational trivia, some tricks of the trade for various jobs:
Tricks of the Trade

For every occupation, there is a catalog of secrets only its employees are aware of—such as how waiters with heavy platters know to look straight ahead, and never down. Armed with a bag of reader mail, Matthew Baldwin unfurls a whole lot more true insider knowledge.

Do whatever it takes to fit your contracts onto a single page: Format with single-spacing, use a 10- or 9-point font, and reduce the margins to less than an inch. Most people assume any contract that fits on one page will be simple and straightforward, and even sophisticated negotiators can be charmed by the lack of a staple.

Auto Mechanic

Always put copper grease on the battery terminals after servicing a car. The performance benefit is negligible, but when customers look under the hood they will immediately see that something’s changed and thus feel happy to pay you.


When you’re twisting balloons for children, never tell them what you’re making. The majority of the finished products—despite your best attempts—almost always look like a dog, a blastula, or something vaguely phallic. If you identify what you’re actually attempting to make, the children will respond to your finished product with, “That doesn’t look like a [insert animal name]…” But if you make the animals and then ask, “What does it look like to you?” the child’s imagination will take over, turning the blue, four-legged balloon into Blue from Blue’s Clues, the blastula into a Pokemon, and the phallic object into an elephant. You’ll also get bonus points because you were so cool for making exactly what they wanted.
Desktop Support

When desktop support technicians resolve a ticket, they are usually required to document the cause and solution to the problem. Supervisors see these records, so you have to be professional, but can usually get away with using the acronym “PEBKAC” in situations where the user caused the initial problem. PEBKAC stands for “Problem Exists Between Keyboard and Chair.”

When taking family portraits that include a dog, don’t use the dog’s name or say “doggie, doggie” to get its attention, because it might trot over to you. Instead, call out “kitty, kitty, kitty.” The dog will perk up and look around for a cat, and you can get a great shot if you time it right.

Piano Salesman

If you see a potential customer eyeing a piano, estimate their age and calculate what year it was when they were 18 years old. Play a big hit from that year on the piano they’re looking at. With a lot of preparation and a little luck, you might play the exact song they were listening to when they lost their virginity, got married, or drove their first car. The emotional resonance will overcome sales resistance and even open their wallets to a more expensive piano. ...

Many more here.

Wisconsin gun sales still booming

From the Badger State:
GREEN BAY — Gun sales in Wisconsin are booming and local dealers attribute the increase to concerns about possible future firearms restrictions and the continued economic strife.

Requests for firearms background checks, a good barometer of gun purchases in Wisconsin, are on pace to best 193,000, according to FBI data. Federal authorities handled 96,917 background checks in the first six months of 2009, about 16 percent ahead of the same period last year.

Dan Gussart, owner of Gus's Guns on E. Mason Street, said handguns are the strongest sellers — when he can get them in stock. Inventory of handguns and some rifles is scarce across the country, he said.
As dealers are working through supply problems with firearms, getting ammunition to sell is also challenging.

"You can't get ammunition," Gussart said. "The supply has all dried up. Now with hunting ammunition, they are saying that because the manufacturers are so behind, they're not going to be able to supply the pipeline for the hunters."

Article here. Hopefully, Wisconsin hunters have stocked up already, or this year might be the year to take up bowhunting. :)

Self-defense stats

* The National Self Defense Survey, as conducted by Florida State University criminologists in 1994, indicates that Americans use guns in self defense 2,500,000 times per year, which is once every 13 seconds.

* In about 30% of the defensive gun uses, the would-be victim believes that the gun “almost certainly” or “probably” saved a life.

* In more than 1/2 of the self defense gun uses, the would-be victim was under attack by 2 or more criminals, making a firearm the only viable means of self defense for most people.

* The overwhelming majority of these defensive gun uses were never reported by the news media.

* Gun ownership protects 65 lives for every 2 lives lost, and the overwhelming majority of of those lives lost are due to criminals who ignore gun bans anyway.

More info and links here.

Protect your family, get arrested

Another demonstration of Enlightened Modern British Policing technique. Mother and teenage son confront drunk yobs in front of their house. Said yobs attack son (five to one), take him to the ground, kicking his head and body. Father intervenes, yobs attack father. Father apparently stabs one of the attackers, breaking up the attack. Father arrested for attempted murder, yobs go free:
The incident took place in an estate in Crowthorne, Berks, which residents said had been plagued by problems with drunken, rowdy teenagers from outside the area who congregate at a nearby park.

Mr Philpott’s wife, Susanne, said she confronted the gang on Friday night after her husband’s van was damaged.

“It was all so very surreal and scary. You never expect this kind of violence to happen in your neighbourhood, let alone on your doorstep,” said Mrs Philpott, a training consultant.

“When the police arrived and arrested Colin, I was gobsmacked. It was heartbreaking to see him handcuffed and carted off like a common criminal – he is a hardworking, honest family man.

“Any action taken by my husband was as a result of a desire to protect his family and loved ones, and to defend his property.”

Mrs Philpott said her neighbourhood had recently experienced problems with drunken behaviour involving youths.

She said she and her son left their home after they heard a bang. She added: “We saw two young guys outside our house. When we saw a big dent in my husband’s van, Alex asked them if they had done it. They denied it and disappeared off around the corner.

“They returned 15 minutes later – with three others – and were all visibly drunk.

“When they started shouting outside the house, we came out again and this time I took a digital camera with me and told them that if they vandalised anything else, I’d take pictures as evidence.

“It was then that one particularly drunk and rowdy teenager threatened me. He said that if I took a picture, he would kill me and burn down my house.

“I was terrified by his words and when Alex tried to calm him down, the other four got worked up and the gang attacked him.

“He ended up on the ground with all five of those yobs on him, kicking him in the head and stomach.

“I was so frightened for him that I screamed for Colin, who until this point had been in bed. He came running out – still barefoot and half asleep – and saw the mess that Alex was in.

“In the blink of an eye, the lads attacked Colin and I saw one stumble into the road as Colin screamed for me to call the police and ambulance service.”

Mrs Philpott’s 25-year-old son was treated in hospital for a broken nose and concussion.

The 16-year-old boy who was stabbed five times in the chest was said to be in a stable condition at Royal Berkshire Hospital.

It was believed a letter opener may have been involved in the incident. Police arrested Mr Philpott, 57, who runs an escalator cleaning company, on suspicion of attempted murder. He was held in custody.

Article here. Five young, able-bodied attackers against a single 57-year old man defending himself and his stepson. Hard to imagine similar charges for a homeowner defending himself or his son in all but the most reprobate of American cities. So sad, these Brits, to have allowed their society's moral compass to go so awry.

Free AK-47 with every truck purchase

Today's automotive promotion, Missouri edition:

Gun control figures in Virgina governor's race

From the Washington Post, on gun control and the governor's race:
... Until recently, Deeds [Democrat], as a lawmaker from rural Bath County, had been a more staunch advocate of gun rights than McDonnell [Republican], whose career began in Virginia Beach. One of Deeds's signature pieces of legislation was a state constitutional amendment guaranteeing Virginians the right to hunt and fish. Deeds also secured the National Rifle Association's backing in the 2005 attorney general's race against McDonnell, who won by 360 votes.

Former Virginia governor L. Douglas Wilder, a Democrat, pointedly declined to endorse Deeds in that campaign because Deeds, as a delegate, had refused to support legislation limiting handgun purchases to no more than one per month -- a measure McDonnell backed.

But both candidates have gravitated closer to positions generally embraced by their party's base. ...

Article here. Neither seems all that pro-gun, to be quite honest. Deeds wants to close the mythical "gunshow loophole", while McDonnell supported the one-gun-a-month law (what's up with that, Virginia?) but now says he doesn't.

Sign of the day

Reportedly posted somewhere in Durham, N.C.:

Monday, July 27, 2009

Vanishing head

Tonight's optical illusion:

Your healthcare dollars hard at work

Today's healthcare reform testimony:

I blame Al Gore

According to, we've set new record low temperatures for July for almost 3,000 places:
First, some stats. 1,044 daily record low temperatures have been broken this month nationwide according to NCDC -- count record "low highs" and the number increases to 2,925, surely to pass 3,000 before the end of the month. ...

Clearly Al Gore and his Global Warming minstrels haven't been jetting around in their private jets to preach to us enough. You would think that with his multiple houses, limos, SUVs, enormous houseboat and private jet travel the shivering planet would be at least a little warmer, no? Perhaps Al would kindly do the rest of us a favor and increase his already enormous carbon and energy footprint, so we can enjoy a little summer warmth. Is that too much to ask?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Bare essentials of flight safety

Tonight's friendly skies video - your pre-flight safety briefing, courtesy of Air New Zealand's flight crew, wearing nothing but body paint:

Harvard money: Not so smart, after all?

From Vanity Fair, on the collapse of the Harvard endowment, once the world's largest, and the financial turmoil it has caused for a university once used to the largesse that its massive endowment enabled:
Only a year ago, Harvard had a $36.9 billion endowment, the largest in academia. Now that endowment has imploded, and the university faces the worst financial crisis in its 373-year history. Could the same lethal mix of uncurbed expansion, colossal debt, arrogance, and mismanagement that ravaged Wall Street bring down America’s most famous university? And how much of the turmoil is the fault of former Harvard president Larry Summers, now a top economic adviser to President Obama? As students demonstrate, administrators impose Draconian cuts, and construction is halted on an over-ambitious $1.2 billion science complex, the author follows the finger-pointing.

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

Early last May, I attended a town-hall meeting of undergraduates at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The topic that evening: cost-cutting. As I settled into my chair, in Boylston Hall, student activists, members of the “Student Labor Action Movement,” were making their way through the auditorium, handing out flyers. “Rethink. Resist,” urged the bold black letters. It was a call to action. “no layoffs!” At the top of the printed page was Harvard’s historic coat of arms: three small open books. Cleverly, the university’s Latin motto—normally inscribed on the books as “ve-ri-tas“—had been replaced with a near anagram, “av-ar-ice.”

Ignoring the agitators as best he could, Michael Smith, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard’s biggest division, called the meeting to order. Sitting casually on a desk, wearing jeans and a short-sleeved polo shirt, Smith, a professor of engineering and applied sciences, and a former competitive swimmer, looked more like an athlete than an administrator. He got straight to the point: his division—which includes Harvard College, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences—was facing a budget deficit of $220 million.

That’s a huge sum: $220 million! Nearly 20 percent of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ current budget had to be cut. “That frightens me,” Smith said forthrightly. “It should frighten you. We obviously can’t sit around and do nothing. We’ve got to find a way to try and get the income back in alignment with the expenses.”

Smith’s audience listened intensely. Already, they had seen evidence of the cutbacks Smith was alluding to. All across campus, as a preliminary measure, thermostats had been lowered during the winter months, from 72 degrees to 68 degrees. Students and faculty were no longer entitled to free coffee at the university’s Barker Center. The Quad Express, which shuttles students between the Radcliffe Quadrangle and Memorial Hall, would soon be running every 20 minutes, not every 10 minutes. More recently, despite loud protests from Harvard’s athletes, among others, it was announced that hot breakfasts would no longer be served on weekdays at undergraduate residential houses. Instead of bacon, poached eggs, and waffles, students would have to get by on cold ham, cottage cheese, cereal, and fruit.

Such cost-cutting measures—“alignments” and “resizements,” as Harvard prefers to call them—are painful for everyone involved. In the words of a university staff member, as quoted by The Harvard Crimson, “Harvard’s the richest place around here. If they can’t even afford the coffee, it makes us wonder, you know.”

But this evening at Boylston Hall, Michael Smith seemed to be suggesting something bigger, more serious, than the absence of free coffee. “What will that mean for students in practical terms?” asked one coolheaded member of the audience. “Are we going to have fewer resources in terms of advisers? Are we going to have fewer office hours for our professors? Are we going to have fewer professors?”

Smith would not be specific. “The resizing that we’ve done is nothing compared to what we’ve got coming up,” he said, hinting at imminent upheaval. ...

Read the rest here, for an interesting look at the hubris, big egos and overspending that is causing one of the nation's finest universities such grief.

I suspect, like many institutions of higher education, both public and private, that Harvard's costs have outpaced inflation for years, possibly decades. The growth in expenses is often reflected in sky high tuition costs at universities throughout the country, which in the past I think have often routinely outpaced inflation. Perhaps the current, and potentially long-lasting round of economic adversity will inject a dose of reality into the sheltered and insular world of academia. When the lowest paid Harvard professors (according to the article) are pulling in $150,000 plus (for a nine month school year), and full professors averaging $192,600 plus benefits, it's hard to feel all that sorry for them. To put the magnitude of the Harvard budget in perspective, the $220 million shortfall the Faculty of Arts and Sciences faces is less than a fifth of their total budget! Their shortfall is greater than the entire operating budgets of many small cities.

Unfortunately, economic reality has hit hard for the Crimson:
Then came the Great Recession. In the second half of 2008, even more quickly than it had taken off, Harvard’s overheated endowment collapsed. Last December, in a letter written to the university’s deans, Harvard’s president, the historian Drew Gilpin Faust, and its executive vice president, Ed Forst, revealed that Harvard’s endowment had lost $8 billion, or 22 percent, in the first four months of the fiscal year, from July through October 2008. To put that number in context: $8 billion is greater than Columbia University’s entire endowment ($7.1 billion as of fiscal 2008). Not since 1974, when Harvard’s endowment shrank by 12.2 percent, had the university seen losses of such magnitude. Anticipating more dire financial news, Faust warned her deans to expect a 30 percent loss in the endowment for the year. Other universities were showing big losses in 2008, but at Harvard, given the scale and size of its endowment, the numbers seemed inconceivably large.

Right away, some commentators said that Faust was being far too optimistic. On the Huffington Post, the financial journalist Edward Jay Epstein argued that, adjusted for the true value of Harvard’s illiquid assets—that is, its private-equity partnerships and other assets that don’t sell on the open market—the endowment’s losses for those first four months alone were closer to 50 percent, or $18 billion. Forbes magazine, noting that Harvard faces a staggering $11 billion of unfunded commitments—money promised, but not yet paid, to various private-equity funds, real-estate funds, and hedge funds—concluded that the university was in a kind of death spiral, forced to sell healthy portions of its portfolio just to stay afloat.

If Harvard were a serious business facing a liquidity crisis, it would have done something drastic by now: fired senior employees, closed departments, sold off real estate. But Harvard, like most other leading universities, is stubborn and inflexible. “None of these schools has the ability to cut expenses fast enough” is how a hedge-fund manager who counts Harvard among his investors explained the problem. Running the numbers for me, proving how impossible it is for a shrinking endowment to keep up with the university’s bloated, immovable costs, the hedge-fund manager concluded, “They are completely fucked.” ...

While it's tempting to indulge a sense of schadenfreude at Harvard's budget woes, realize that a lot of other colleges and universities, public and private, are probably going through the same thing, just on a smaller scale. In the end, colleges and universities are going to have to adjust their budgets to economic reality. I suspect that the days of double digit tuition increases are over, at least for some time. That means dealing with overly generous salaries and benefits for an often bloated roster of professors, administrators, and administrative staff. Those that can't, or won't take the necessary and painful measures needed will likely and rightly cease to exist.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

NFL Fantasy Files

Tonight's NFL fantasy moves:

The news, in song

Today's news recap:

Friday, July 24, 2009

Born Again American

Tonight's musical interlude - Born Again American:

Not exactly profiles in courage ...

... but, then again, they're politicians:
How do you outgun the NRA? Very, very carefully.

Mark Pryor knows all about that. The Democratic senator from pro-gun Arkansas was nowhere to be seen on the Senate floor during Wednesday's showdown over a proposal, championed by the National Rifle Association, that would have gutted state gun-control laws across the nation.

After a morning of angry speeches, a vote was called at high noon. Toward the end of the vote, Pryor entered the chamber through the back door, took a few steps inside, flashed a thumbs-down to the clerk, and retreated as fast and furtively as somebody dodging gunfire.

Several minutes later, the Democrats had racked up more than enough votes to block the proposal. "Are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or wishing to change their vote?" the presiding officer inquired.

Pryor burst back in, this time through a side door. "Mr. President!" he called out. "Mr. President!" He stopped in the well to consult with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), a gun-control advocate who was keeping the whip sheet. Schumer gave Pryor a nod, and the Arkansan -- reassured that his vote was not needed to defeat the proposal -- changed his vote to an "aye." [emphasis added] ...

Article here. So, what do we learn, boys and girls? That politicians are spineless jellyfish who don't have the courage to stand for their principles, regardless of what they are. Of course, we already knew that (or should have). So I guess the answer is: nothing new.

As an aside, despite what the article states, the amendment would not have "gutted state gun control laws across the nation," as the reporter asserts. It would simply have allowed those with permits visiting from other states to enjoy the same state rights, and subject to the same state restrictions, as permit holders of the state they're visiting. Yet another example of mainstream media ignorance and inaccuracy.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Toothpick city

Tonight's toothpick art project, a miniature version of San Francisco ... in toothpicks:

The problem with harems ...

... is that satisfying all those females requires lots of energy. Even for 630 pound sea lions:
A RANDY sea lion named Mike died of exhaustion after a marathon mating session at a zoo.

The whiskery beast had been enjoying a morning romp with his harem Farah, Tiffy and Soda when keepers noticed something was wrong.

The dad of 12 was so exhausted that he could not even get out of his pool - and had to be pulled clear by staff.

Despite receiving treatment from a vet, the 45-stone "good natured" sea lion died from acute heart failure. ...

Article here. I guess if you have to shuffle off this mortal coil, there are worse ways to go.

Russians arming themselves for self-defense

From Russia, with love (of guns):
As the economic crisis deepens and fears of crime spread, not only are more Russians buying guns of various kinds – including pistols and gas guns -- but many of them are buying more than one, trends that are prompting some Duma deputies to consider repealing existing restrictions on the purchase of hunting rifles for self-defense.

But as could be expected on the basis of the experience of other countries, many of these guns are not used for self-defense but rather in settling personal scores or, the Russian interior ministry says, in the kind of ethnic and group conflicts that have already left many dead and could claim more lives as gun ownership spreads (

According to an article in today’s “Novyye izvestiya,” “besides the unemployed, activists of certain organizations are arming themselves.” The paper gives as “an example,” the Movement against Illegal Immigration (DPNI) “whose members have been directed to obtain for themselves not only licenses for guns but guns themselves.”

Over the past decade, the paper reports, ownership of guns of all types has increased approximately five percent a year, but in the course of the last “crisis” year, the number of people owning them has gone up by seven percent and the number owning self-defense weapons has risen “more than 10 percent annually.”

Residents of the capital, the paper continues, are “arming themselves more actively than others,” with the number of guns for self-defense as opposed to hunting and sports shooting officially sold in Moscow from July 2008 through June 2009 amounting to 37,000, with the possibility that the actual number was still higher.

“Novyye izvestiya” says that there are already 213,000 people in the Russian capital with officially registered self-defense weapons – approximately one gun for every 60 residents – and there are 1.2 million owners of such guns in Russia as a whole, a figure that it just under one percent of the country’s total population. ...

Article here. Of course, with less than one percent of the population with privately-owned guns, even relatively small numbers of new gun owners represent decent percentage increases in gun ownership.

Illinois police chiefs say concealed carry would deter criminals

From Illinois, one of the two no-carry states:
PEORIA — Talk of bringing concealed-carry legislation to Illinois gives many residents a fear of the unknown.

Several local police chiefs and other personnel said putting fear into the minds of criminals on the streets is also one of the best arguments for allowing concealed carry.

"If you're not sure if a guy has a gun, you may not try to do some things to him that you might otherwise try to get away with," said Peoria police Officer Troy Skaggs, president of the Peoria Police Benevolent Union. "It's the fear of the unknown."

Illinois and Wisconsin are the only two states without some type of concealed-carry law.

In February, the Illinois Sheriffs' Association passed a resolution supporting a concealed-carry law in Illinois, with several conditions in place.

Then in May, Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis expressed public support for Peoria becoming a test city for statewide legislation that would allow people to carry guns in a responsible way.

During a recent 10-week stint at the FBI's National Academy, which brought 250 worldwide law-enforcement executives to Quantico, Va., Peoria Police Chief Steven Settingsgaard said, "Everyone I spoke to was in favor of concealed carry." ...

Article here.

Thune-Vitter national reciprocity amendment fails to pass

The final vote tally was 58-39, but the measure needed 60 votes to pass. Here's the breakdown by senator:

Voting YEA (for the amendment, the pro-gun vote):
YEAs ---58

Alexander (R-TN)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Baucus (D-MT)
Bayh (D-IN)
Begich (D-AK)
Bennet (D-CO)
Bennett (R-UT)
Bond (R-MO)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Casey (D-PA)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Collins (R-ME)
Conrad (D-ND)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Feingold (D-WI)
Graham (R-SC)
Grassley (R-IA)
Gregg (R-NH)
Hagan (D-NC)
Hatch (R-UT)
Hutchison (R-TX)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johanns (R-NE)
Johnson (D-SD)
Kyl (R-AZ)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Lincoln (D-AR)
Martinez (R-FL)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Nelson (D-NE)
Pryor (D-AR)
Reid (D-NV)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Snowe (R-ME)
Tester (D-MT)
Thune (R-SD)
Udall (D-CO)
Udall (D-NM)
Vitter (R-LA)
Warner (D-VA)
Webb (D-VA)
Wicker (R-MS)

And voting NAY (against the amendment, the anti-gun vote):
NAYs ---39

Akaka (D-HI)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Burris (D-IL)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Cardin (D-MD)
Carper (D-DE)
Dodd (D-CT)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Franken (D-MN)
Gillibrand (D-NY)
Harkin (D-IA)
Inouye (D-HI)
Kaufman (D-DE)
Kerry (D-MA)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Kohl (D-WI)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Leahy (D-VT)
Levin (D-MI)
Lieberman (ID-CT)
Lugar (R-IN)
McCaskill (D-MO)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Merkley (D-OR)
Murray (D-WA)
Nelson (D-FL)
Reed (D-RI)
Rockefeller (D-WV)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schumer (D-NY)
Shaheen (D-NH)
Specter (D-PA)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Voinovich (R-OH)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wyden (D-OR)

Not Voting - 3

Byrd (D-WV)
Kennedy (D-MA)
Mikulski (D-MD)

View the vote tally organized a few other ways at the Senate website here. Remember who voted for or against your right to self-defense come election time, and reward them accordingly.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Musical interlude

Tonight's musical interlude, Resonant Chamber, computer animation music video by, from the AniMusic 2 DVD:


You can purchase the DVD here: Animusic 2 - A New Computer Animation Video Album

Quote of the day

From the always insightful ShrinkWrapped, on the President's grasp of reality:
President Obama and his democratic supporters regularly say things of such manifest foolishness as to raise questions about their relationship to reality. For example, they press for a new energy policy to combat Anthropogenic Global Warming in the middle of a cooling trend (going on 10 years), with no practical/scalable alternatives yet in sight, and insist that it will create jobs, when even the most economically illiterate among us know that raising the price of energy during a recession will damage the economy and cost jobs. On their other great initiative, Universal Health Insurance, with the government option as the insurer of last resort, the proposal is to increase the number of insured (which will lead to greater utilization) while not increasing the expense (or the number of Physicians.) Somehow, magically, this will not lead to rationing and will end up saving money. The president expresses these ideas with the most solemn of visage and deep certainty. ...
I suspect there is a different, more post-modern explanation for the kinds of fantastical misstatements, denials, and overt fabrications that have become regular emanations from the President and his supporters, that is the force of their ideology in concert with their intellectual predilections leads to a kind of perverse relationship to reality, in which their wishes become indistinguishable from their perceptions. This is, unfortunately, extremely common and is an integral part of the "pathology of everyday life." It is the quintessential malady of the modern welfare state model of the world. ...

Read SW's take here. Personally, I think more and more thoughtful folks are concluding that President Obama's much vaunted (by the mainstream media, anyway) intelligence is nothing more than a Potemkin Village, a teleprompter-driven fa├žade masking a mere mediocre thinker at best. Combine that apparently limited intellectual horsepower with the pathological lying that seems endemic to those of the political class, and you can easily get the type of reality-challenged statements that ShrinkWrapped refers to.

One wonders, for example, why President Obama, the much-ballyhooed intellectual, never released his college or law school transcripts (perhaps he was a lackluster "C" student, like pseudo-intellectual poser John Kerry). Or why he produced so little, or rather, no legal scholarship during his tenure as a professor of constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School. Indeed, as the New York Times reported, Obama "never completed a single work of legal scholarship" during his twelve year tenure there. This is hardly the portrait of an intellectual.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Flea vacation

Tonight's flea joke, as told by Dustin Hoffman (sorta NSFW):

Senate to vote on interstate right-to-carry reciprocity amendment

U.S. Senate To Vote On National Right-To-Carry Reciprocity Amendment Early This Week

Monday, July 20, 2009

Contact Your U.S. Senators TODAY And Urge Them To Support Your Right To Self-Defense by voting YES on the Thune-Vitter Amendment!

The U.S. Senate is now considering the National Defense Authorization Act (S. 1390). As a part of the consideration of that legislation, Senators John Thune (R-SD) and David Vitter (R-LA) will offer an amendment this week to provide for interstate recognition of Right-to-Carry permits. There is a very high likelihood of a Senate floor vote on this important and timely pro-gun reform between now and Wednesday.

Now is the time for Congress to recognize that the right to self-defense does not end at state lines. Under the Thune-Vitter amendment, an individual who has met the requirements for a carry permit, or who is otherwise allowed by his home state's state law to carry a firearm, would be authorized to carry a firearm for protection in any other state that issues such permits, subject to the laws of the state in which the firearm is carried.

Contrary to "states' rights" claims from opponents who usually favor sweeping federal gun control, the amendment is a legitimate exercise of Congress's constitutional power to protect the fundamental rights of citizens (including the right to keep and bear arms and the right of personal mobility). States would still have the authority to regulate the time, place and manner in which handguns are carried.

Expanding Right-to-Carry will enhance public safety, and certainly poses no threat to the public. Criminals are deterred from attempting crimes when they know or suspect that their prospective victims are armed. A study for the Department of Justice found that 40 percent of felons had not committed crimes because they feared the prospective victims were armed. The Thune-Vitter amendment recognizes that competent, responsible, law-abiding Americans still deserve our trust and confidence when they cross state lines. Passing interstate Right-to-Carry legislation will help further reduce crime by deterring criminals, and -- most important of all -- will protect the right of honest Americans to protect themselves if deterrence fails.

The Thune-Vitter Amendment represents a giant step forward in the protection of the basic right to self-defense. Its passage will recognize that the rights of law-abiding Right-to-Carry permit holders should be respected, even when they travel outside their home state.

Gun control groups, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's "Mayors Against Illegal Guns" are running ads trying to scare your lawmakers and the American people into opposing this crucial Right-to-Carry reform. It is critical that your U.S. Senators hear from you immediately.

Please be sure to contact both of your U.S. Senators today, and urge them to cosponsor and support the Thune-Vitter interstate right to carry reciprocity amendment. E-mail and call them immediately!

To find contact information for your U.S. Senators, please click here, or call (202) 224-3121.

Please consider contacting your elected Senate servants today to have them support this amendment. You can use the link above, or go to the Senate website here (click on the "Senators" tab in the upper left corner) to contact your senators by email.

British police clamp down on tall photographers

From the formerly great Britain:
Kent Police set a new legal precedent last week, as they arrested a photographer on the unusual grounds of "being too tall".

This follows a year of increasingly unhappy incidents, in which continued reassurances from on high appear to have had little impact on how Police Forces deal with photographers – and reinforces a growing concern that the breakdown in trust and cooperation with the Police warned of in respect of demonstrations could soon transfer to photography too.

According to his blog, our over-tall photographer Alex Turner was taking snaps in Chatham High St last Thursday, when he was approached by two unidentified men. They did not identify themselves, but demanded that he show them some ID and warned that if he failed to comply, they would summon police officers to deal with him.

This they did, and a PCSO and WPC quickly joined the fray. Turner took a photo of the pair, and was promptly arrested. It is unclear from his own account precisely what he was being arrested for. However, he does record that the WPC stated she had felt threatened by him when he took her picture, referring to his size - 5' 11" and about 12 stone - and implying that she found it intimidating.

Turner claims he was handcuffed, held in a police van for around 20 minutes, and forced to provide ID before they would release him. He was then searched in public by plain clothes officers who failed to provide any ID before they did so.

Following his release, he further claims that the police confirmed he was at liberty to take photographs, so long as - according to the PCSO - he did not take any photographs of the police. ...

Article here. Perhaps the police should get taller heels for their jackboots, so that they won't feel "intimidated" by 5'11" photographers.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Samurai vs. Baseball

Tonight's quick draw contest, Samurai versus a 93 mph fastball (the audio is in Japanese, but the video says it all):

Gun Rights News Roundup

Articles, news stories, and op-eds of interest to gun owners:

On the media and hollywood's anti-gun bias:
... The media conducts a constant and insidious assault on our freedom by ridiculing and denigrating the American way of life and more importantly, the way of life that made America great. Hollywood and New York have forgotten that just about everybody between the two coasts does not subscribe to these values-or have they? Perhaps they know we don’t hold their values and this is a way to make inroads to changing our minds and numbing us into letting our freedoms slip away. If you say a lie often enough, it becomes the truth, for it is impossible to un-hear what you have heard. Some of you may have read Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda minister quoted saying, “if you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it” [3]. The danger of all this is the rumor, the lie, and the innuendo become fact and we in the 2nd Amendment fight don’t have near the resources or ability to combat these kinds of slander the left does. We don’t make movies or print newspapers. We can write letters to the editor, etc., but they still control what is printed and shown on the air. We are losing the war on the culture front by letting these huge Trojan Horses of the media right into our living rooms, and national consciousness, disguised as entertainment or news.

To combat this it is imperative we point out insidious derogatory references to the great American way of life when we see them. It is important to teach our children and our children’s children that freedom does not mean dragging down the rich heritage and culture that made America great. Teach them how to think critically about what they see in the movies, TV and print. Help them understand the biases that are introduced into each movie and television story line. Don’t censor their viewing, but help them understand the disparity between fact and fiction, ideology and reality. It means influencing everyone you can about what message some of these shows and articles are really trying to say. Eventually, the majority will understand the difference between trash and treasure, perhaps even changing what movies and television shows they watch, thus hitting anti-gunners right in the wallet. ...

[D.C.] Guns in D.C., one year after Heller:
It's been a year since a Northwest D.C. housewife carried a Ruger .357 Magnum into police headquarters in a blue plastic grocery bag and became the District's first legal handgun owner since the Supreme Court overturned a decades-old ban.

Today, Amy McVey's handgun is one of just 515 that have been legally registered with the Metropolitan Police Department -- a number that pales compared with more than 2,000 illegal weapons that have been seized in the same period.

She hasn't had to use it to defend her home. Nor has anyone attempted to steal it and use it against her or to commit some other crime -- undermining the most widely used arguments for and against permitting guns. ...

[Ohio] Buckeye Firearms Association says anti-gunner DeWine running for AG:
Montgomery County Republican Party Chair Greg Gantt is circulating an email to "Republican insiders" that Mike DeWine will announce his candidacy for Ohio Attorney General on Wednesday, July 22nd at 9:45am at the Greene County Courthouse.

That's right, Mike DeWine.

The same Mike DeWine who was thrown out of his U.S. Senate seat by voters in 2006, after running around sporting a Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence (formerly Handgun Control Inc.) endorsement because "his record really wowed the group."

The same Mike DeWine who Human Events Online named among the Top 10 anti-gun U.S. Senators, noting that he was "consistently the only Republican to speak in favor of anti-2nd Amendment legislation on the Senate floor."

The same Mike DeWine who, shortly before his defeat in 2006, took a position in opposition to legislation which barred gun manufacturers, distributors, dealers or importers from frivolous lawsuits designed to put them out of business.

The same Mike DeWine who consistently cast his votes on the side of the most rabid anti-gun Democrats in the Senate. ...

[Arizona] No retrial for Hal Fish:
There will be no new trial for Harold Fish says Coconino County Attorney David W. Rozema.

Rozema said today, July 16, that his office will not conduct a second trial in the Fish case, in the event that the recent decision to vacate Fish’s initial trial conviction is upheld by the Arizona Supreme Court.

Rozema says they are working with Fish’s attorneys to have him released from custody.

The Arizona Court of Appeals had ordered a new trial for the 62-year-old retired schoolteacher who shot and killed a Payson man four years ago at a trailhead north of Strawberry. The state legislature just passed new self-defense rules and made those new rules retroactive so they would apply to any new trial for Fish.

The court said the original trial judge — Mark Moran of Flagstaff — erred in not allowing the victim’s past behavior to be introduced into evidence. The court also ruled that the three dogs the victim, Grant Kuenzli, had with him could have been classified as “dangerous instruments” as defense attorney Melvin McDonald asked.

“There have been two recent, significant developments in the case involving Mr. Fish,” said Rozema. “First, the Court of Appeals reversed the conviction. Second, the legislature passed a bill requiring retroactive application of the new self-defense law.”

“The attorney general’s office has the decision-making authority with respect to the appeals process in this case. It is our understanding that they will be appealing the Court of Appeals decision through the filing of a petition with the Arizona Supreme Court. We will respect whatever decision is ultimately made by the Supreme Court regarding Mr. Fish’s jury trial conviction.” ...

[New Mexico] Gun sales still booming:
The confluence of the recession and the election of Barack Obama have made for boom times in the firearms business. New Mexicans have always had a love affair with weaponry, but fear has driven them to add to their collections. It’s not fear of crime but fear that big government is going to amend their Second Amendment rights by taking their guns away.

Gun buyers are not afraid to spend big bucks for the big bang. Truisms about the gun business – guns don’t wear out and their prices don’t go down. Many are buying guns as collector’s items.

Some gun shops are running sales increases in the 50 percent range since last November’s presidential election of Barack Obama and subsequent appointment of Attorney General Eric Holder.

“We are doing very well, strictly because of Obama and the anti-gun stance of his attorney general, Holder. Our customers are buying now in advance of anti-gun legislation,” says Ron Peterson, who has operated a gun shop in the Duke City since 1963.

His Ron Peterson Firearms LLC is located at 4418 Central Ave. SE and is generally acknowledged as the place to purchase high-end vintage guns. The Duke City metro area has around six gun shops, where everything, from the less expensive handguns to machine guns, is available.

“Our sales are ahead 50 percent as of June 1 and we could not get merchandise because the wholesale distribution has not been set up for this demand. We are still rationing ammo,” adds Peterson. ...

[New Jersey] David Codrea takes on Jersey City police chief's anti-gun nonsense:
Jersey City Police Chief Thomas Comey could not make it more clear. Pump action shotguns are "assault weapons."
"This weapon is manufactured for nothing other than to hunt man."

Left unsaid is why he considers weapons "manufactured for nothing other than to hunt man" suitable for police work:
"It's used as part of a tactical equipment for law enforcement agencies in this country."

Translation: We're the "Only Ones" who should have pump-action shotguns. You cannot. ...

[Louisiana] Ten year old uses gun to save himself and his sister from home invaders:
... Deputies say Dean Favron and Roderick Porter knocked several times on the apartment door. The two young children, a ten-year-old boy and eight-year-old girl, stood on the other side, terrified. "He told his sister to be quiet and seconds later, they started kicking on the door and finally kicked the door in," said Sheriff Mike Cazes. The two children ran to their mother's bedroom closet.

In a panic, the ten-year-old grabbed his mother's gun for protection. "He did what I told him to do. I never told him to get the gun, but thank God he did," she said. Once the two suspects opened the door, threatening the kids, deputies say the boy fired a bullet into the lip of Roderick Porter. The two men were taken to the hospital by a third suspect, who is a 15-year-old juvenile. Once they got to the hospital, they were later arrested. "It's just hard. I don't understand why they would do that. I know they have little brothers and sisters and they wouldn't want anyone to break into their house," said the mother. ...

[Illinois] Ninety percent of sheriffs support concealed carry:
BARTONVILLE, Ill. - National Rifle Association firearms instructor Lee Merriman says a lot of people fear the criminal elements around them.

That is keeping Merriman busy these days as he trains people from all walks of life to use a firearm safely.

“I have a lot of older people who live in bad areas of Peoria who are scared,” said Merriman.

“Most people are here because the crime rate is so high.

“I just had a guy and his wife who had never fired a gun in their lives. They live in the country and are on the road a lot. The wife wants to be able to protect her two young daughters. We’re seeing a lot of that. I recently has a contractor, his wife and 13-year-old daughter go through the class; two ministers; a private class for judges, doctors and so forth; and nine nurses together. You wouldn’t believe the people taking gun courses now.”

Merriman said the number of people requesting tutoring in gun usage is increasing. His August class is full. Merriman’s class may get fuller as more and more the push for concealed carry comes to the forefront in Illinois.

In recent weeks the city of Peoria volunteered to be a test city for a concealed carry law. Bartonville promptly followed suit, requesting to be a part of any pilot program agreed to by the state.

The Bartonville City Council and the Bartonville Police Department passed a resolution on July 9 supporting concealed carry in the state of Illinois and delivered it to the Illinois General Assembly. The resolution comes in response to an Illinois Sheriff’s Association survey of all sheriffs in the state which showed that 90 percent support concealed carry of weapons, the resolution said. [emphasis added] ...

Comment: Don't expect any concealed carry bill to pass as long as Chicago's King Daley opposes it. Which probably means don't expect a concealed carry law while Daley remains in office.

Czarist Amerika

Czars, czars everywhere:

California open carry

A fairly balanced article in the San Diego Weekly Reader on the open carry movement in California:
It’s a beautiful day in Pacific Beach as Nate approaches the bronze pelican statue on the boardwalk. He’s slight and blond, spectacled and clad in jeans and an army-green T-shirt. He squints. The sun’s so bright overhead that he is prompted to spray a fine mist of sunblock over his fair skin to stave off a burn.

I’ve never met Nate before, but I know it’s him (a) because I’ve seen his picture and (b) due to the handgun that sits on a holster against his hip. I’m about to get up from where I’m sitting and introduce myself when someone else beats me to the punch. A scraggly-looking beachgoer, a man of indeterminable age because he is so weather-beaten, approaches.

“What’s that for, bro?” he asks, pointing in the direction of Nate’s gun, a Taurus Tracker .44 Magnum revolver.

Before Nate can answer, the man continues.

“There are surfers at the beach looking to party, and you show up with that? That’s not right. Love life! Be mellow!”

This is when I walk up and introduce myself. The beachgoer looks at me for a moment with wild blue eyes, then looks back at Nate, as Nate is beginning to explain what he will have to reiterate time and time again to concerned and/or interested parties: he is open carrying.

The term “open carrying” refers to one who is in possession of a holstered, unloaded firearm on his or her person, displayed in plain view. Nate begins to explain the legalities of this to the beachgoer when Sean approaches, video camera in tow. In shades, a green shirt with double-breast pockets, green cargo pants, and a Sig Sauer P229 holstered on his hip, Sean looks not unlike a police officer.

The beachgoer does a double take.

“Another one!” he exclaims, as Sean greets us warmly.

The beachgoer, incredulous, excuses himself — with one final stare — to go “get baked.”

Soon we are joined by a third open carrier, Sam, who is Nate’s older brother. He’s a tall fellow in jeans and a T-shirt, and his gun, a Glock 17C 9mm semiautomatic pistol, sits squarely in a black holster, handle well visible against the blue of his shirt.

And now it’s my turn. ...

Article here. Kudos to the reporter for actually open carrying herself, to see what the experience is like.

Unfortunately, California open carry, which requires that the gun be unloaded, is an emasculated version of the real thing (open carry with loaded guns). Nevertheless, it's still good to see folks exercising their limited open carry rights.

And now, a word from the Vice-President ...

Another piece of, uh, "wisdom" from our Vice-President and the Obama administration's Idiot-in-Chief (many are called, but few are chosen), as reported by CNS News:
Vice President Joe Biden told people attending an AARP town hall meeting that unless the Democrat-supported health care plan becomes law the nation will go bankrupt and that the only way to avoid that fate is for the government to spend more money.

“And folks look, AARP knows and the people with me here today know, the president knows, and I know, that the status quo is simply not acceptable,” Biden said at the event on Thursday in Alexandria, Va. “It’s totally unacceptable. And it’s completely unsustainable. Even if we wanted to keep it the way we have it now. It can’t do it financially.”

“We’re going to go bankrupt as a nation,” Biden said.

“Now, people when I say that look at me and say, ‘What are you talking about, Joe? You’re telling me we have to go spend money to keep from going bankrupt?’” Biden said. “The answer is yes, that's what I’m telling you.” [emphasis added]

Article here. Listen to audio of the Sage of Delaware's comments here. We have to destroy the economy to save it! We have to spend our way out of debt! Or to avoid bankruptcy!

This is the type of thinking (and I use that word loosely) you get when you elect people who've spent most of their working lives in government, as parasites on the private economy and the American taxpayer's back.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Aerobatics, RC edition

Tonight's remote control aerobatics flight:

GOA: Right-to-carry vote coming up soon

From Gunowners of America:
A vote to protect your right to travel out-of-state with a firearm could come to a vote next week -- even as early as Monday!

Senators John Thune and David Vitter are the sponsors of S. 845 -- a bill that will establish concealed carry reciprocity amongst the several states.

Senators Thune and Vitter offered the bill as an amendment (#1618) to the Department of Defense authorization bill (H.R. 2647).

This provision will use the constitutional authority allowing Congress to enforce "full faith and credit" across the country, so that each state respects the "public acts, records, and judicial proceedings" of every other state (Article IV).

The benefit of the Thune/Vitter legislation is that -- unlike other, competing measures -- it would protect the right of any U.S. citizen to carry out of state (regardless of whether he possesses a permit), as long as he is authorized to carry in his home state. This is important because of states like Vermont and Alaska, where residents can carry concealed without prior approval or permission from the state... in other words, without a permit!

ACTION: Please urge your Senators to vote YES on the Thune/Vitter concealed carry reciprocity amendment that will be offered to the Department of Defense authorization bill and NO on any modifying amendments. This vote could come as early as Monday, so please act on this right away! ...

Read it here, with sample letter available at the link.

NRA will score Sotomayor vote

So reports Jennifer Rubin in Commentary Magazine:
As I noted in the last round of questioning of Sonia Sotomayor yesterday, Republican senators seemed increasingly focused on the Second Amendment. Sotomayor’s evasiveness did not help her cause. Shortly after her questioning ended, the NRA announced it would officially oppose her confirmation. Some question then arose in conservative circles as to whether the vote would be “scored” — that is, count for the score which the NRA uses to rate incumbents on Second Amendment issues. In a close race it can make the difference, particularly in a Red state. I contacted the NRA last night. A spokesman promptly replied by email: “It’s an important vote and it will count.”

What does that mean in practical terms? It may influence a shaky Republican or two who might think twice about “deferring” to the president’s nominee. But the real impact is not with regard to Sotomayor, but in the 2010 senate races. For each Democrat who votes for her, there will be at least a small price — a ding from the NRA. Might it be significant in races in Arkansas (Blanche Lincoln), Colorado (Michael Bennet), North Dakota (Byron Dorgan), and elsewhere? ...

This is a positive step. NRA ratings are an important data point for voters in gun-friendly districts, and politicians hoping to get reelected know this. It probably won't change the final outcome given the large Democrat majority in the Senate, but may at least cause a few of those Dems (and some faux Republicans) to vote against her.

Sotomayor: No constituional right to self-defense?

From the Los Angeles Times:
In a prickly exchange over gun control, Sen. Tom Coburn tried hard to get Sonia Sotomayor to explain what she actually thinks about the right to bear arms. “As a citizen of this country do you believe ... I have a right to personal self-defense?” he asked her.

Sotomayor said she couldn’t think of a Supreme Court case that had addressed the issue in that language. “Is there a constitutional right to self-defense?” she asked. “ I can’t think of one. I could be wrong.”

The Oklahoma Republican said he didn’t want to know if there was a legal precedent that would answer his question -- he wanted to know Sotomayor’s personal opinion.

She paused. “That is sort of an abstract question,” she said. “I don’t --"

“Well that’s what the American people want to hear,” Coburn said. Americans don’t want legalese from “bright legal minds,” he said. “They want to know if they can defend themselves in their homes.” ...

Article here.

National Review's Jim Geraghty weighs in on the Sotomayor credibility gap:
But if you were a Republican senator, and wanted to vote in good faith to confirm Sotomayor, you would have to believe:
· That her “wise Latina” argument was just a bad “rhetorical flourish” that accidently left listeners believing she disagreed with Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, when she actually agreed with her.

· That the misperception of the “wise Latina” argument remained uncorrected through six separate uses of it.

· That Sotomayor genuinely has “no idea” why George Pavia, a senior partner in the law firm that hired her as a corporate litigator, would say, “I can guarantee she’ll be for abortion rights.”

· That she did not read the legal briefs filed by the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund while she was on that organization’s board.

· That she genuinely does not have an opinion on whether citizens have a right to self-defense, and could not think of “a case where the Supreme Court has addressed that particular question,” despite the fact that the Heller case decided last year declared, “The inherent right of self-defense has been central to the Second Amendment right.”

· That she “actually agrees” with Justices Scalia and Thomas that judges have to be “very cautious” about using foreign law, despite a speech earlier this year in which she said, “Suggest[ing] to anyone that you can outlaw the use of foreign or international law is a sentiment that’s based on a fundamental misunderstanding.”

· That she really believes that “we don’t make policy choices in the court,” even though she said in a 2005 appearance at Duke University that the “Court of Appeals is where policy is made.”

· That she genuinely believes that “the process of judging is a process of keeping an open mind,” when she said in a 1999 speech that there is “no objective stance but only a series of perspectives. . . . Aspiration to impartiality is just that, an aspiration.”

· That she thinks the man who nominated her has a fundamentally flawed perspective on the role of judges, and that she will not “approach the issue of judging in the way the president does.”

That’s a lot to swallow. Essentially, the poised and affable judge who appeared before the cameras this week came across as almost completely unobjectionable — almost a photo negative of the judge portrayed in Sotomayor’s past speeches. “We’re left guessing as to what kind of judge she would be,” Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas) said during a committee break. “We don’t know if we’re going to get Sonia Sotomayor the speech-giver or Sonia Sotomayor the judge. Once she’s on the Supreme Court, she can say anything she wants with no chance of reversal. The lack of clarity is creating some problems.” ...

Actions speak louder than words; don't listen to what a nominee says, look at what they've done. This is especially true for politicians.

Senator minority leader Mitch McConnell says he will oppose Sotomayor nomination.

Finally, David Codrea has a roundup of Gun Rights Examiner articles on the Sotomayor nomination here.

Pennsylvania open-carrier acquitted

From the Keystone State [hat tip to reader Jim P. for the link]:
BEAVER, Pa. - A western Pennsylvania man has been cleared of criminal charges after bringing his handgun to a campaign rally for President Barack Obama.

John Noble, of Industry, wore the 9 mm on a holster and carried a Bible to the August rally to protest Obama's remark that Americans who felt left out by the system clung to guns and religion. The rally was in Beaver, about 30 miles north of Pittsburgh.

Police said the 51-year-old Noble wanted to be disruptive. They say he posted on the Internet that he was taking the gun to "test what would happen."

Friday, a jury acquitted him of a disrupting a public meeting and a judge acquitted him of disorderly conduct, but called his actions foolish.

Noble wasn't charged with gun offenses because he was legally carrying it.

Article here. This is another case where disorderly conduct charges were used to harass someone legally open carrying. And note that it took almost a year, and a criminal trial, to resolve the issue.

Mass murder and the unarmed citizen

From Howard Nemerov, on the slaughter of unarmed populations:
... Here is a partial list of countries that, in the 20th century, carried out government-sponsored mass murder, termed “democide” by Professor Rudy Rummel: People’s Republic of China (76.7 million murdered); Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (61.9 million); and Nazi Germany (21 million). Other countries listed by Professor Rummel include: Indonesia, Vietnam, Pakistan, and Yugoslavia, et al, resulting in another 13 million murdered by their own governments. Other homicidal countries included Imperial Japan (World War II) and Turkey (1.9 million), who murdered mostly ‘others’ in the name of racial purity and territorial conquest. All told, Rummel estimates that 262 million people were slaughtered by homicidal governments during the 20th Century alone. These numbers are beyond comprehension, as Professor Rummel explains:
But, who can digest a total of 1,000,000 or more murdered. It is near impossible to empathize with the human catastrophe such statistics dimly reflect when we have difficulty getting a feel for numbers greater than six or seven. A murderer tortures and kills three people, and that gets into our gut – three loving, feeling, human beings killed in agony. We can imagine this happening to our family or circle of close friends. But mention 10,000, 100,000, or 1,000,000, and that is beyond imagination and feeling; they are only numbers.

Here is a practical and relevant way to put this in perspective: Between 2001 and 2007, American criminals murdered an average of 16,520 victims per year. This means that it would take 15,860 years for criminal murderers to accomplish what was accomplished in decades by a few insane government leaders.
Here’s the last piece in the puzzle: None of these homicidal governments had any constitutional document providing for civilian firearms ownership. In most cases, any laws on the books allowing civilian gun ownership, at the time the dictator took over, were quickly removed. ...

Article here. History shows that mass murder on such a scale is only possible against an unarmed population. Governments are very efficient murderers of their own citizenry.

Free speech, so exalted by clueless intellectuals (and I use that term loosely) is both ineffective and easily silenced by tyrannical governments -- the government simply rounds up the noisiest and murders them. The message is unmistakable, powerful, and effective: talk against the government and you and your families will die. A heavily armed populace willing to fight back is the only true defense against such tyranny.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Emergency landing

Tonight's textbook no wheels landing:

NRA (finally) opposes Sotomayor nomination

Other than declaring war, neither house of Congress has a more solemn responsibility than the Senate’s role in confirming justices to the U.S. Supreme Court. As the Senate considers the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor, Americans have been watching to see whether this nominee – if confirmed – would respect the Second Amendment or side with those who have declared war on the rights of America’s 80 million gun owners.

From the outset, the National Rifle Association has respected the confirmation process and hoped for mainstream answers to bedrock questions. Unfortunately, Judge Sotomayor’s judicial record and testimony clearly demonstrate a hostile view of the Second Amendment and the fundamental right of self-defense guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.

It is only by ignoring history that any judge can say that the Second Amendment is not a fundamental right and does not apply to the states. The one part of the Bill of Rights that Congress clearly intended to apply to all Americans in passing the Fourteenth Amendment was the Second Amendment. History and congressional debate are clear on this point.

Yet Judge Sotomayor seems to believe that the Second Amendment is limited only to the residents of federal enclaves such as Washington, D.C. and does not protect all Americans living in every corner of this nation. In her Maloney opinion and during the confirmation hearings, she deliberately misread Supreme Court precedent to support her incorrect view.

In last year’s historic Heller decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment guarantees the individual’s right to own firearms and recognizes the inherent right of self-defense. In addition, the Court required lower courts to apply the Twentieth Century cases it has used to incorporate a majority of the Bill of Rights to the States. Yet in her Maloney opinion, Judge Sotomayor dismissed that requirement, mistakenly relying instead on Nineteenth Century jurisprudence to hold that the Second Amendment does not apply to the States.

This nation was founded on a set of fundamental freedoms. Our Constitution does not give us those freedoms – it guarantees and protects them. The right to defend ourselves and our loved ones is one of those. The individual right to keep and bear arms is another. These truths are what define us as Americans. Yet, Judge Sotomayor takes an opposite view, contrary to the views of our Founding Fathers, the Supreme Court, and the vast majority of the American people.

We believe any individual who does not agree that the Second Amendment guarantees a fundamental right and who does not respect our God-given right of self-defense should not serve on any court, much less the highest court in the land. Therefore, the National Rifle Association of America opposes the confirmation of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the position of Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

At least they finally came out against this anti-gun nominee. Perhaps they were waiting to hear her testimony, although her record amply demonstrates that Judge Sotomayor is hostile to the Second Amendment. And actions speak louder than words.

I suspect the fact that Sandy Froman, past president of the NRA, and a bunch of current and former members of the NRA Board of Directors came out publicly against Judge Sotomayor, may have persuaded the NRA executives to (finally) take a stand against her nomination. We'll have to see whether they apply pressure to the Senators to vote against her, or whether they will consider a vote for confirmation as an anti-gun vote. They should do both: apply pressure to vote against confirmation, and count any vote for confirmation as an anti-gun vote, which it is.

Friday, July 17, 2009

United breaks guitars

Tonight's baggage handling incident video - musician Dave Carroll says United Airlines broke his guitar:

Read the backstory here. His YouTube video now has over three million views.