Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Wilhelm Scream

In honor of Halloween, tonight's horror movie trivia -- The Wilhelm Scream:

Zero intelligence, Iowa edition

Another "zero tolerance" incident, with another zero intelligence school administrator, this one in Des Moines:
An 11-year-old Des Moines girl was at home on suspension Tuesday for bringing a handful of empty shotgun shells to school last week.

Jazmine Martin, a sixth-grader at Brody Middle School, picked up the shells as souvenirs during a family trip to a ranch in South Dakota, where the rounds were fired as part of a show. They were blanks.

"I didn't think they were going to hurt anyone," Jazmine said. "I wanted to show them to my science teacher because he's into stuff like this."

She said she didn't have time to show her teacher, but she did show a couple of friends. This week, she was called into the office and suspended.

Principal Randy Gordon said the shells were considered ammunition even though they were empty, and were therefore against school policy. [emphasis added]

A copy of the school policy shows that it specifically bans "live ammunition or bullets" but makes no reference to empty shells or casings. However, the policy says it is not limited to the items specifically listed as being banned. ...

Article here. Clearly, intelligence ain't a job requirement for the job of school principal in Des Moines.

Ohio bars: another "gun-free" zone failure

From Buckeye Firearms Association, on the failure of "gun free" bars:
Despite these prominently posted "no-guns" signs, which are required by law to be posted in every Class D liquor permit location in the state of Ohio, it's getting increasingly hard to keep track of all the shootings occuring across the Buckeye state in places that serve alcohol.

On October 8, a shootout in a Toledo bar gained nationwide attention, despite there being no injuries, thanks to the graphic action recorded on security cameras. Another Toledo bar shooting, which occured just a few nights later, gained almost no attention despite a bar employee having been injured by a ricochet.

On Tuesday, October 20 and again two nights later, a trio of armed men robbed patrons at two central Ohio bars. After the first robbery, the victimized bar owner posted yet another warning sign at his establishment, giving the distinct impression that he had somehow missed all the video of that Toledo shootout.

According to 10TV.com, on the trio's second heist, one armed robber fired at least one shot inside the bar.

And then there is the most recent, an October 24 shooting at a bar on Columbus' North Side that left eight injured, two of them critically.

Those "no-guns" signs sure are doing the trick, aren't they? ...

Read it here. Let's hope the legislature changes the law to level the playing field by getting rid of these disarmed victim zones, so that law-abiding folks can defend themselves.

Tennessee AG says landlords can ban guns in rented apartments

From the Volunteer State:
NASHVILLE - A landlord can legally prohibit tenants who hold handgun carry permits from bringing their weapons into a rented apartment, according to an opinion from Attorney General Bob Cooper that was released today.

The opinion came in response to a request from state Rep. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport, who said he had thought the answer would have been to the contrary.

Shipley said the question was raised by an adult University of Tennessee student who had been prohibited from having a firearm in his rented Knoxville apartment.

"It strikes me that there shouldn't be a prohibition," he said in a telephone interview.

Shipley said the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution would apply to someone living in an apartment to prevent law enforcement officers from entering without a search warrant.

"If the Fourth Amendment applies, why doesn't the Second Amendment apply?" he said. "Can a landlord say you give up free speech, under the First Amendment, in the apartment? I think not." [emphasis added]

Shipley said he had not read the opinion and wanted to study it further. He also said he would consider bringing legislation on the subject next year, though now focused on other legislative priorities. ...

Article here. As Rep. Shipley intimates, if a landlord can ban a fundamental, constitutionally-protected human right to keep and bear arms, what other rights can he ban?

Is limited government an oxymoron?

Weekend food for thought, an interview with Doug Casey and Tom Woods:

Friday, October 30, 2009

Bunny, I'm home

Tonight's trick-or-treat costume & seamstress lesson:



Ahhh, bunnies. :)

Open carry: The gun / motorcycle analogy

From Ride Fast & Shoot Straight, comes this analogy of open carriers today, and bikers back then:
Clayton E. Cramer makes the case (again) against open carry and he does have a few salient points. It makes some people nervous being the most powerful. I'm sure he is correct.

I'm tempted to point out that there was a time when bringing your differently colored friends to a party, restaurant or church made not differently colored people nervous. Even though it was perfectly legal.

Or how in the 1970's blatantly discriminating against motorcyclists was, if not common, at least widespread. I was denied service many times for wearing a vest (without any colors or MC insignia). I was denied entry to facilities because I came by motorcycle. I found motorcycle parking prohibited all over the place. Random, no cause stops by the police we very common. All of which was illegal, but I guess bikers made people nervous. *

What I would like to hear from Mr. Cramer and others who support not openly carrying, is just how do we acclimate people to open carry without actually open carrying? Or is Mr. Cramer advocating we give up on open carry altogether? I can't support that and never will.

Our mission is to get people to understand that "keep and bear arms" means carrying a gun. Concealed, open, in a case or on handlebar mounts. It doesn't matter so much how, just that you do. ...

Read the rest here, including his take on what helped change the image of bikers over time.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

High five, New York

Tonight's high five:

The Recession's Over!!!

Or at least, so says the L.A. Times:
Reporting from Washington - The U.S. economy expanded at an annual rate of 3.5% in the third quarter, unofficially marking the end of the worst recession since World War II.

The growth reported today by the Commerce Department for the three months that ended Sept. 30 snapped four straight quarters of economic contraction and was driven largely by a rebound in consumer spending supported by the federal stimulus package and improved business spending that included a revival of home building.

The increase in the gross domestic product, the total value of goods and services produced in the country, is the evidence most economists have said is needed to declare victory against the recession. ...

Article here. Thank goodness! And here I thought we needed to worry. But no, according to one of the administration's eminent propaganda outlets, happy days are here (or soon to be here) again. Time to break out the champagne and the credit cards, and spend, spend, spend!

Back in the reality-based universe, however, The Market Ticker's Karl Denninger breaks down the numbers [emphasis in original below]:
... That's worse. A lot worse. Disposable personal income decreased in nominal terms q/o/q by 5.9% while in real terms (inflation adjusted) it decreased q/o/q by 7.4%! That is an enormous swing in purchasing power and not in the right direction!
Personal outlays increased $148.2 billion (5.8 percent) in the third quarter, compared with an increase of $8.2 billion (0.3 percent) in the second. Personal saving -- disposable personal income less personal outlays -- was $364.6 billion in the third quarter, compared with $533.1 billion in the second.

The personal saving rate -- saving as a percentage of disposable personal income -- was 3.3 percent in the third quarter, compared with 4.9 percent in the second.

So into decreasing personal income and disposable personal income people tried to spend anyway. Best guess: most of this was "cash for clunkers", which is the worst sort of "spending" - it is the taking on of more debt by replacing a paid-off car with one that now comes with a shiny (and nasty) payment book. The Trade: Go long auto repo outfits (aside: as far as I know there are no publicly-traded repo companies.)

Nothing in here I like; to the contrary, this report sucks and on a drill-down appears to be full of outright lies.

Looking inside the data, the "big change" in private domestic investment is all residential fixed - up 23.4%. I don't believe it. I've been scouring the homebuilder earnings releases and data, and I don't see the numbers that support this. An improvement over the ditch-diving of the last many quarters, yes - but a 23.4% increase, a swing of fifty percent from Q2-Q3? Oh hell no. Where is it? It's not in Home Depot's or Lowe's quarterly results, it's not in the homebuilders, and I can't find it in the suppliers (lumber companies, etc) either. This sort of move would result in monstrous top-line revenue increases reported by firms in this sector and that simply has not happened.

Nor do the export and import numbers look right. Port of Long Beach and LA anyone? Those numbers also don't add up - swings of 20-25% in one quarter? Not reflected in container volumes and freight loadings. Yet it has to be - how do you get something in or out of here without it going through a port? ...

And the mainstream media wonders why people aren't buying their stories anymore, either figuratively, or literally.

All falling down

The latest from Victor Davis Hanson:
Obama’s mega-borrowing is predicated on a rather thin margin of safety. We can service nearly $2 trillion in additional debt this year—on top of the existing $11 trillion—only because interest rates are so low.

But as a veteran of the near usury of the 1970s and early 1980s, I see no reason why interest rates won’t shoot up to 10% once the economy recovers and the U.S. has to convince lenders to buy our paper in an inflationary spiral. In other words, we could fork out each year about $150-200 billion in interest costs on our annual red ink, in addition to paying annually another trillion dollars to service the existing debt. (We forget that many of us young people in the 1970s and 1980s simply never bought anything new due to high interest: my first new car was not purchased until 1989 when interest was only 7.2% on it; my parents bought a small condo in 1980 for the unbelievably low rate of 8.8%, due only to redevelopment incentives in a bad neighborhood of Fresno. Inflation will be back, even in this quite different age of globalized competition and low wages.)

When Obama talks of a trillion here for health care, a trillion there for cap-and-trade, it has a chilling effect. Does he include the cost of interest? Where will the money came from? Who will pay the interest? Has he ever experienced the wages of such borrowing in his own life? Did he cut back and save for his college or law school tuition, with part-time jobs? Did he ever run a business and see how hard it was to be $200 ahead at day’s end?

What destroys individuals, ruins families, and fells nations is debt—or rather the inability to service debt, and the cultural ramifications that follow. When farming, I used to see the futility in haggling over diesel prices, trying to buy fertilizer in bulk, or using used vineyard wire—when each day we were paying hundreds in dollars in interest on a “cut-rate” 14% crop loan.

The difference between the 5th century BC and late 4th century BC at Athens is debt–and not caused just by military expenditures or war; the claims on Athenian entitlements grew by the 350s, even as forced liturgies on the productive classes increased, even as the treasury emptied. At Rome by the mid-3rd century AD the state was essentially bribing its own citizens to behave by expanding the bread and circuses dole, while tax avoidance became an art form, while the Roman state tried everything from price controls to inflating the coinage to meet services and pay public debts.

Integral to public debt are two eternal truths: a public demands of the state ever more subsidies, and those who pay for them shrink in number as they seek to avoid the increased burden. ...

Read it all here.

Threat of force in self-defense now a crime in Kansas

Apparently, that's the view of the Kansas Supreme Court. From Volokh:
That’s what the Kansas Supreme Court just held, interpreting Kansas Stats. § 21–3211. The statute reads,
(a) A person is justified in the use of force against another when and to the extent it appears to such person and such person reasonably believes that such force is necessary to defend such person or a third person against such other’s imminent use of unlawful force.

(b) A person is justified in the use of deadly force under circumstances described in subsection (a) if such person reasonably believes deadly force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to such person or a third person.

(c) Nothing in this section shall require a person to retreat if such person is using force to protect such person or a third person.

And the court concluded that while this allows self-defense that involves an actual attack on the attacker — for instance, hitting, shooting, or stabbing the attacker — it does not allow self-defense that merely involves a threat of violence against the attacker.

I think the dissent is right to say that “force” can reasonably be read as including “constructive force” such as threats, especially in light of the substantial American legal tradition of reading force this broadly (and despite the fact that other Kansas statutes generally do say “force or threat” or some such). And this is especially so because, as the dissent points out, the result is absurd: Restraint in the use of defensive violence is rewarded by criminal punishment. I believe courts should generally read statutes as written, but the should also read their terms against the backdrop of the legal rules that help define these terms, and principles such as the rule of lenity, and the presumption against readings that produce absurd results. ...

You can read this short, boneheaded decision here. The bottom line: in Kansas, you can use actual physical force to defend yourself (and be entitled to a jury instruction on self-defense), but not the threat of physical force (which, in the case of guns, has the statistically greatest deterrent effect). So the net effect of this decision is to discourage deterrence, and encourage actual physical violence. Dumb. Indeed, the dissenting opinion points out the absurdity of the majority's position.

As Professor Volokh suggests, the Kansas legislature needs to fix the statute to specifically allow the threatened use of force in a self-defense situation.

Indeed, I believe other states such as (I think) Montana and Arizona have recently changed their laws to specifically and explicitly allow so-called "defensive displays" of force in self defense.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The English language

Tonight's humorous musings on the English language [hat tip: Kevin McD.]:
Only the English could have invented this language!

We'll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes,
But the plural of ox becomes oxen, not oxes.
One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.
You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice,
Yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.

If the plural of man is always called men,
Then shouldn't the plural of pan be called pen?
If I speak of my foot and show you my feet,
And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?
If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn't the plural of booth be called beeth?

Then one may be that, and three would be those,
Yet hat in the plural would never be hose,
And the plural of cat is cats, not cose.
We speak of a brother and also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren.
Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the feminine: she, shis and shim!

Let's face it - English is a crazy language.
There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger;
neither apple nor pine in pineapple.
English muffins weren't invented in England ..
We take English for granted, but if we explore its paradoxes,
we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square,
and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing,
grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham?
Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend.
If you have a bunch of odds and ends
and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught?
If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?
Sometimes I think all the folks who grew up speaking English
should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane.

In what other language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?
We ship by truck but send cargo by ship.
We have noses that run and feet that smell.
We park in a driveway and drive in a parkway.
And how can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same,
while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language
in which your house can burn up as it burns
down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out,
and in which an alarm goes off by going on.

And, in closing, if Father is Pop, how come Mother's not Mop?

I WOULD LIKE TO ADD THAT IF PEOPLE FROM POLAND ARE CALLED POLES THEN

PEOPLE FROM HOLLAND SHOULD BE HOLES AND THE GERMANS GERMS!!!

Trash picking, open carry style

From Minnesota:
A group of Adopt a Highway volunteers were packing more than trash along the shoulder of Minnesota 55 in Mendota Heights on Sunday morning.

With legal guns on their hips, a dozen area residents spent nearly three hours picking up litter — everything from cigarette butts to blown-out tires — along a 2-mile stretch of the highway just east of the Mendota Bridge. It was the inaugural event for the group, which registered with the Minnesota Department of Transportation's Adopt a Highway program under the name Minnesota Carry Permit Holders.

"We believe this is the safest stretch of road right now in the state," said Jason Walberg, who collected trash with a Springfield XD .40-caliber, semi-automatic handgun clipped to his belt.

MnDOT officials say the group is unique to the Adopt a Highway program, which commonly includes civic and church groups and businesses, and that members have every right to clean the road while carrying guns.

"This is a perfectly legal group ... what they do is clear in state law," MnDOT spokesman Kent Barnard said, adding that — personally — he has had a gun-carrying permit for several years. "Now, if we had the perverts and pedophiles out there, that would be a different story." ...

Article here. The normalization of open carry continues.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Friends, blooper edition

Tonight's compilation of Friends bloopers:




And Part 2:

Mr. Obama, Go Commemorate that Wall!

From J.E. Dyer, writing at Hotair on President Obama's refusal to attend next month's 20th anniversary celebration of the toppling of the Berlin wall:
... Reagan had gone to Berlin and said, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” – and here it was, coming down. Of course, he prepared his battlespace before making that demand; it was not only the words that mattered. But the words did matter. No American president had uttered them before. American leadership was crucial in the liberation of Berlin in 1989, and the restoration of Germany in the following years. It was the NATO alliance that made it possible, and American leadership that made NATO viable and effective.

Maybe you had to be in the US armed forces back then, to have the powerful memories of life in that bipolar world of competing superpowers, blocs, and thousands of nuclear warheads at the ready 24/365. Or maybe you had to be in the armed forces to recognize the fall of the Berlin Wall as such a watershed. However it is, I am just about the contemporary of President Obama, and I find I don’t understand at all his decision to not attend Germany’s commemoration next month of the twentieth anniversary of the Wall coming down. It’s one of the biggest, most important global events in my lifetime – if I could, I’d go to Berlin myself and put on a uniform and march in a parade.

Yet for Obama it seems not to matter much at all. Oddly enough, he was born only a few days before East Germany began building the wall, on the night of 13 August 1961. He did spend the 1980s in a different way, dabbling in the Nuclear Freeze movement while he was at Columbia, going to Harvard Law, and becoming a community activist in Chicago. Perhaps the liberation of Eastern Europe from the Soviet yoke does mean less to him than it does to many of us. It’s entirely possible, in light of his many criticisms of the United States, that he believes we were at fault for whatever was going wrong in Europe between 1945 and 1989 anyway. Perhaps his view is, as the more left-leaning of Western leftists argued in the 1970s and ‘80s, that the Berlin Wall was erected because we were too bellicose and threatening, and gave the Communists of East Germany no choice. ...

Read it here. Rick Richman at Commentary Magazine has his take on the Obama no-show here.

Perhaps, as one of the commenters to Mr. Dyer's article suggests, our Narcissist-in-Chief doesn't want to attend one of the most important and memorable events in the past twenty years, because it isn't all about him. Indeed, it was President Reagan's leadership that was pivotal to the fall of the Soviet Union, of which the Berlin wall was one of the most visible symbols. Or perhaps, given his communistic leanings and urges, Mr. Obama is actually saddened at the fall of Soviet communism, and thus hardly feels the need to celebrate its downfall. Perhaps if the Germans positioned the celebration as a wake instead, Mr. Obama would change his mind.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Underwater meadow

Tonight's scuba diving video - footage of a flooded meadow in Austria. From the video's description:
Beautiful Film of Scuba Diving in a Newly-Flooded Meadow. Hiking trails, picnic tables, benches and signs all under water in this very relaxing video filmed in Austria. ...


It's Armageddon time!

Today's gloom and doom roundup:

Forbes, on the Iranian nuke threat: Armageddon Time - When it comes to Iran, the U.S. may be facing a cataclysm:
Victor Davis Hanson is a military historian; Robert Baer a former CIA field officer. Both have studied the Middle East for decades, traveled to the area repeatedly in recent years and written about the region extensively. And both have become convinced that we may be facing a cataclysm. ...


Denniger, on signs of impending credit "difficulties" (read it all for his reasoning, but key conclusions below): Possible Credit Dislocation: Be Warned (emphasis in original below):
... IF this is going to manifest as a dislocation of some sort it will probably occur within the normal closing window for real estate transactions, since the anecdotes related to that have the best-defined "reach", and the discounts being accepted to avoid this risk are massive to the point of denoting near-certainty of this event in the minds of the market participants who are electing to accept these cash-discounted offers.

Therefore, if you are dependent on such credit access I would take immediate action to do whatever is necessary to mitigate, to the extent you are able, the consequences of such a dislocation.

Consider how you survive returning to what essentially amounts to a cash economic posture in your business and personal life. ...


Marketwatch: 20 reasons America has lost its soul and collapse is inevitable:

ARROYO GRANDE, Calif. (MarketWatch) -- Jack Bogle published "The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism" four years ago. The battle's over. The sequel should be titled: "Capitalism Died a Lost Soul." Worse, we've lost "America's Soul." And, worldwide, the consequences will be catastrophic.

That's why a man like Hong Kong contrarian economist Marc Faber warns in his Doom, Boom & Gloom Report: "The future will be a total disaster, with a collapse of our capitalistic system as we know it today."

No, not just another meltdown, another bear-market recession like the one recently triggered by Wall Street's too-greedy-to-fail banks. Faber is warning that the entire system of capitalism will collapse. Get it? The engine driving the great "American Economic Empire" for 233 years will collapse, a total disaster, a destiny we created. ...

Newspaper: We were wrong on concealed carry law

From the Show Me State (better known as Missouri), comes this admission:
... Sheriff Greg White is a proponent of the conceal and carry law, passed by lawmakers in 2003 after Missouri voters rejected a similar law in 1999.

The law requires people to attain a standard of proficiency with weapons before they are permitted to carry a concealed gun. Proponents of the law believe it offers a greater sense of security and decreases crime by prompting felons to consider the consequences of armed confrontation.

We confess to harboring some reservations about the concealed carry law. Our fear was an increase in guns in public would result in more guns being displayed prematurely and/or more accidents.

White said recently: “All the fears over conceal and carry have never manifested.”

We concede the point.
[emphasis added]

Anecdotal evidence does not suggest an increase in accidents or unprovoked gunplay.

The evidence, however, does show people defending themselves from harm. ...

Read the editorial here. This media outlet got it wrong, and is willing to admit it in light of actual experience. Good for them.

I won't hold my breath for the anti-gun bigots at the New York Times to similarly allow empirical evidence (or common sense, for that matter) to intrude on their ideological collectivist aversion to the fundamental, individual human right of self-defense.

Tennessee wants group of states to assert Tenth Amendment rights

From World Net Daily:
Tennessee is urging 49 other states to come together and create a "joint working group between the states" to combat unconstitutional federal legislation and assert state rights.

Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen signed HJR 108, the State Sovereignty Resolution on June 23. According to the Tenth Amendment Center, the resolution created a committee to form a joint working group between the states to enumerate the abuses of authority by the federal government and seek repeal of imposed mandates.

State Rep. Susan Lynn recently wrote a letter to the other 49 state legislatures, inviting them to join the group and warning that the role of the federal government has been "blurred, bent and breached."

"The national government has become a complex system of programs whose purposes lie outside of the responsibilities of the enumerated powers and of securing our natural rights; programs that benefit some while others must pay," Lynn wrote. "Today, the federal government seeks to control the salaries of those employed by private business, to change the provisions of private of contracts, to nationalize banks, insurers and auto manufacturers, and to dictate to every person in the land what his or her medical choices will be."

She continued, "Forcing property from employers to provide healthcare, legislating what individuals are and are not entitled to, and using the labor of some so that others can receive money that they did not earn goes far beyond securing natural rights, and the enumerated powers in the Constitution." ...

More here.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Jackson Pollack, meet Andy Warhol

Tonight's art, recreating Andy Warhol's iconic Marilyn Monroe portrait, using paintballs:

Maybe they should just ban guns

Oh wait, they already did. From the ridiculous parody that is the former Great Britain:
Armed police are to carry out routine patrols in London to combat gun carrying drug gangs.

In an unprecedented move for British policing a team of 18 constables armed with sub-machineguns, led by an inspector and two sergeants, will operate permanently in “hotspots” in Brixton, Haringey and Tottenham.

The officers, from the Met's Specialist Firearm Command SO19, will patrol estates and streets to prevent shootings and stabbings.

The move, which follows a 30 per cent surge in gun crime in London this year, will be the first time in Britain that armed officers have been put on permanent patrol. [emphasis added]

The officers — some on motorbikes — will be armed with Heckler & Koch MP5 sub-machineguns capable of firing up to 800 rounds per minute and Glock semi-automatic pistols.

Article here. For more crime stats in "gun free" England, see this article:

... There were 9,974 gun crimes in 2001-2, including 97 fatalities and 558 serious injuries. Of these gun crimes, 4,192 took place in the capital.

Handguns were used in 5,871 crimes and robberies involving firearms increased by 34 per cent. In most cases, the guns were used simply to threaten and were not fired. Talks hosted by Home Secretary David Blunkettare to take place tomorrow on combating gun crime. The figures are all the more alarming because they show that the use of handguns has more than doubled since the weapons were outlawed in 1997 after Dunblane. [emphasis added]

Police recorded 5.79 million offences in the year to September 2002, compared to an annual figure of 5.3 million in the previous 12 months.

Home Office statisticians say "the trend in overall crime continues to be flat" when the new counting rules are taken into account. But the latest national figures showed violence against the person up 19 per cent, sex offences up 18.2 per cent, robbery up 14.5 per cent and drug offences up 12.3 per cent on the previous 12 months. ...

What's the old saying? When guns are outlawed, only the outlaws will have guns.

CDC circumvents gun research ban

From a Washington Times editorial:
For a decade, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been forbidden by Congress from doing research on gun-control issues. Such piddling hurdles as federal law don't matter to the Obama administration.

With a wave of a hand, the CDC has simply redefined gun-control research so the ban no longer applies. They're not researching guns; they're researching alcohol sales and their impact on gun violence, or researching how teens carrying guns affect the rates of non-gun injuries. "These particular grants do not address gun control; rather they deal with the surrounding web of circumstances," wrote National Institutes of Health (NIH) spokesman Don Ralbovsky.
...
The research on right-to-carry laws illustrates the problem with the CDC. Dozens of refereed academic studies by economists and criminologists using national data have been published in journals. While the vast majority of those studies find that right-to-carry laws save lives and reduce harm to victims, some studies claim that the laws have no statistically significant effect. But most tellingly, there is not a single published refereed academic study by a criminologist or economist showing a bad effect from these laws. ...

Read the op-ed here. One of the problems with most of these funding bans is that there is no "or else" clause, i.e., don't use taxpayer funds for purpose x, or else you'll go to prison for y years, or be subject to a large z dollar fine. You know, the way other laws that apply to the people are written.

This lack of explicit "or else" consequences applies to many other areas of government. It is simply insufficient to tell a government bureaucrat "don't do this or that"; what we need are laws that say to government bureaucrats, "don't do this or that, or else these bad consequences (loss of freedom, funds, career, life) will befall you."

Report: Army violated Posse Comitatus in Alabama

From the AP:
SAMSON, Ala. (AP) -- An Army investigation found that soldiers should not have been sent to man traffic stops in a small Alabama town after 11 people were killed in March during a shooting spree.

An Army report released to The Associated Press on Monday in response to a Freedom of Information Act request said the decision to dispatch military police to Samson from nearby Fort Rucker broke the law. But an Army spokesman said no charges have been filed following the Aug. 10 report.

"As a result of the findings of the report, the Army took administrative action against at least one person," Lt. Col. Christopher Garver said.

The action was less than a transfer or discharge but Garver would not elaborate.

The report from the Department of Army Inspector General found the use of military personnel in Samson violated the Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits federal troops from performing law enforcement actions. The names of those involved were redacted from the report. [emphasis added] ...

Article here. Seems like we need some remedial training for military commanders on Posse Comitatus.

$787 Billion In Federal Stimulus Creates/Saves 5.93 Jobs In Rhode Island

From ZeroHedge, comes this not-so-stimulating info:
Recovery.org has some useful data to track the efficacy of the administration's stimulus program. Not only can the 5.93 people (not in millions, thousands, hundreds or even tens) in Rhode Island whose jobs the Federal Government managed to "save" send personal thank you letters to American taxpayers, but they can read all about the happy response on Amazon's Kindle, which apparently every single human being in the world is a proud owner of, which seems sufficient to justify the retailer's 60x forward P/E (once the short squeeze is finished after hours, that's roughly where the stock should be trading; in other news at least Americans can finally get edumacated with everyone finally reading just to look cool). ...


(Jobs created or saved by state. Click on table to enlarge)

Read the short article here. So, according to the government, all the billions we've spent have created or "saved" (a BS category at any rate) a grand total of approximately 30,000 jobs. In the entire nation. Yippee!

You'll note that the state with the most jobs created or "saved" with our money was Colorado, with just under 4,700. So I guess those pool boy, stable girl, housekeeper and gardener jobs for all the rich Wall Street bankers with vacation estates in Aspen do add up.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Musical interlude

Tonight's musical interlude, from the Lewes New School in the U.K., performing David Bowie's Changes:

On Marxism

From the American Thinker:
This article offers the basic teachings of Karl Marx, so readers may judge themselves whether these might be at work influencing current Administration decisions. In the present chaotic political atmosphere, the phrase "Marxist" is tossed around without explanation. But what exactly does Marxism represent? Marx's universe was simplistic. It presents a godless, sinister world where the powerful prey upon the weak, which can only be healed through revolution. In the resulting apocalypse, wealth is confiscated by revolutionaries so all may benefit. Private property is outlawed as enlightened leaders build a paradise of communism. But before utopia arrives, a principled assault must destroy capitalism.

Besides the above classic theory, a new approach, called Neo-Marxism, has arisen. It focuses upon cultural conversions for communism, and produces explosive fruit, such as Political Correctness, the Sexual Revolution, Global Warming, Hate Speech laws, Feminism, Multiculturalism, and Universal Health Care, etc. Critics warn reborn Marxism is exceedingly dangerous since it is delivered below the radar, and represents a devious bloodless communist assault, a polar-opposite of the violently murderous Bolshevik and Mao uprisings.

Mini-Summary: Marxism concerns wealth. God is dead, Darwin rules. The rich steal from the poor. Communist revolution will destroy capitalism, outlawing private property to establish paradise. ...
...
Neo-Marxist Innovations: As Lenin in Russia, and Mao in China launched Communist revolts, the prophesied global apocalypse seemed imminent. But the staggering failure of Marxist theory to make productive societies, coupled with the West's relentless growth forced an intellectual crisis.

Twentieth century leftist progressives developed a Neo-Marxism less warlike and more psychologically attractive by combining Marx with Freud, creating a highly sexualized socialism. The Frankfurt School were academic Marxists who escaped Frankfurt, Germany to avoid Hitler's wrath. Relocated to the U.S., they successfully infused Marxism into American universities. For example, "Political Correctness" is a Frankfurt movement, and the first modern use of this phrase is found in Chairman Mao's "Little Red Book," according to Geoffrey Hughes' "Political Correctness: A History of Semantics."

Marxist theories now dominate Western universities. Movements like Race Theory, Feminism, Gay Rights, Modern Art, Critical Theory, Animal Rights, Gender Studies, abortion advocacy, Deconstruction, penal reform, Hate Crimes legislation, etc are all informed by Frankfurt scholarship. Redefined Marxism has produced spectacularly disruptive results. Some argue Obama's election is a direct result of cultural Marxism's success. Universal Health Care is another Marxist holy grail. The USSR had free medical treatment, notable for a staggering lack of basic supplies, horribly outdated methods, and horrifically filthy conditions. ...

Read it here, then read Dr. Sanity's post If it Walks Like a Marxist & Talks Like a Marxist....

No matter how "less warlike and more psychologically attractive" the new Marxism is, at some point the Marxists will need to resort (and revert) to violence to enforce their confiscatory edicts and complete their transformation of our nation from liberty to government-run slavery. Just like every other Marxist paradise. But to do that successfully, they will ultimately need to disarm us, the People. And the proverbial irresistible force will meet the immovable object, and, unlike the logic exercise, unspeakable violence will likely erupt.

Friday, October 23, 2009

I said, WAKE UP!

Tonight's sleep ending device, billed as the world's loudest alarm clock:

Bank of America to charge customers who pay on time

From USA Today:
You floss regularly, yield to oncoming traffic and use your credit cards judiciously, dutifully paying off your balance every month.

You may believe that your exemplary behavior shields you from unexpected credit card fees. Sadly, that is no longer the case.

Starting next year, Bank of America will charge a small number of customers an annual fee, ranging from $29 to $99. The bank has characterized the fee as experimental. But card holders who have never carried a balance or paid late fees could be among those affected.

Citigroup, meanwhile, has started charging annual fees to card holders who don't put more than a specific amount on their cards, typically $2,400 a year. Other banks are charging inactivity fees if customers don't use their credit cards during a specific period of time. You heard that right: You could be spanked for staying out of debt. ...

Article here, with suggestions for dealing with these fees.

Think that's bad? How about a credit card with 79.9% interest rate?:
Gordon Hageman couldn’t believe the credit card offer he got in the mail.

"My first thought, it was a mistake," Hageman said.

The wine distributor called the number on the offer, gave them the offer code and verified his information. Sure enough, it was right: the pre-approved credit card came with a 79.9 percent APR.

Yes, 79.9 percent. ...

I think we can fairly say that bankers are giving lawyers a run for their money in the "most hated group" category.

A decade of negative growth

So predicts MaxedOutMama:
Well, I'm done with my preliminary calculations. I am still running a fever, sometimes quite high, so I won't be posting very much for a while yet.

Not that posting would be very appealing even if I felt better, because everything I've got shows that under current government policies (excluding health care reform and cap and trade), we have created the overwhelming probability of a decade that will show negative GDP growth. I'd call that a depression. Depending on when the Fed changes rates (with the earlier hikes giving the most growth), it's a net over a decade of -2% to -9%. Oh, joy.

Mind you, that won't mean that you don't have some positive periods, but our current policies are building massive risks and government losses which must be funded by the taxpayers, on top of higher structural deficits, which must be funded by the taxpayers, and the inevitable result will be no jobs growth, lower net incomes for most households, and much higher taxation for higher income households. All of that would not prevent growth if it were not that both the Fed and the overall government is now wedded to zombie banks which it cannot allow to fail, and in fact is now following a policy of increasing their hidden losses instead of working them off.

It would appear we are screwed. ...

Read it all here.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Pool dog

Tonight's enterprising doggie:

Obama czar praises mass-murderer Mao

Via Gateway Pundit, comes more commie-lovin' insight from the Obama Czartocracy:




Mao of course was right: All political power grows out of the barrel of a gun. Indeed, as George Washington noted, "Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master." Obama, his czars, and power-hungry politicians everywhere no doubt recognize this reality; hopefully, the American people do as well. For we may come to the time when we may have to pit our force against theirs, in order to restore and preserve our fundamental human liberty. Prepare accordingly.

Fifth Circuit upholds USPS parking lot gun ban

From Mike Stollenwerk, on a recent Fifth Circuit decision:
On October 14, 2009 the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld the conviction of a postal employee for possessing a gun in his vehicle while parked on a non-public United States Postal Service (USPS) parking lot in violation of a federal regulation at 39 CFR 232.1(l). ...

Mr. Doroson had appealed the conviction on the ground that the USPS gun ban violated the Second Amendment. The Fifth Circuit panel disagreed, writing that
“the Postal Service used the parking lot for loading mail and staging its mail trucks. Given this usage of the parking lot by the Postal Service as a place of regular government business, it falls under the ‘sensitive places’ exception recognized by Heller.”

More here. The decision, U.S. v. Doroson, is available here. The Fifth Circuit covers Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Solving the hot dog / bun dilemma

Tonight's customer service kum-ba-ya moment:

Obama Justice Department: Blacks need Democratic Party

From the Washington Times:
KINSTON, N.C. | Voters in this small city decided overwhelmingly last year to do away with the party affiliation of candidates in local elections, but the Obama administration recently overruled the electorate and decided that equal rights for black voters cannot be achieved without the Democratic Party.

The Justice Department's ruling, which affects races for City Council and mayor, went so far as to say partisan elections are needed so that black voters can elect their "candidates of choice" - identified by the department as those who are Democrats and almost exclusively black.

The department ruled that white voters in Kinston will vote for blacks only if they are Democrats and that therefore the city cannot get rid of party affiliations for local elections because that would violate black voters' right to elect the candidates they want.
[emphasis added]

Several federal and local politicians would like the city to challenge the decision in court. They say voter apathy is the largest barrier to black voters' election of candidates they prefer and that the Justice Department has gone too far in trying to influence election results here.

Stephen LaRoque, a former Republican state lawmaker who led the drive to end partisan local elections, called the Justice Department's decision "racial as well as partisan."

"On top of that, you have an unelected bureaucrat in Washington, D.C., overturning a valid election," he said. "That is un-American."

The decision, made by the same Justice official who ordered the dismissal of a voting rights case against members of the New Black Panther Party in Philadelphia, has irritated other locals as well. They bristle at federal interference in this city of nearly 23,000 people, two-thirds of whom are black.

In interviews in sleepy downtown Kinston - a place best known as a road sign on the way to the Carolina beaches - residents said partisan voting is largely unimportant because people are personally acquainted with their elected officials and are familiar with their views. ...

Read the rest of this sordid story here. So much for the colorblind society. Or the will of the people, for that matter. Remember, the voters in that small North Carolina town, two-thirds of whom are black, voted overwhelmingly to get rid of partisan identifiers on the ballot. And according to the article, only nine of the state's 551 towns and cities hold partisan elections. So it's not like Kinston would be breaking new ground here; indeed, the town would have joined the vast majority of towns in its state in the way it holds elections.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tiger attack

Tonight's when-animals-attack video, tiger edition:




I guess claws and teeth aren't their only weapons! :)

Not without a fight

More raw footage of interviews with pro-gun advocates by Max Lemus [10/21/09: spelling corrected, thanks to David Codrea], who's working on a documentary about gun control (working title: Not Without a Fight):




See the rest here.

[Via David Codrea]

Monday, October 19, 2009

May I have the rings, please

Tonight's interesting explanation:

VT and LU students push for campus carry

From Old Dominion:
Lynchburg, VA - Supporters of the Second Amendment gathered Friday afternoon at the Liberty University (web) School of Law for a gun rights symposium.

The discussion of current legal cases turned into a cry for help from students at Virginia Tech. Some Virginia Tech students even skipped class to do it.

Alyson Boyce with VT Students for Concealed Carry President said, "Two and a half years ago, if you would have asked me anything about gun rights, I would not have been able to tell you a thing."

Now, Boyce is the president of the Hokie Chapter of Students for Concealed Carry Rights.

"I lost a very good friend of mine named Mike Pohle on April 16th and after that, it really opened my eyes to the discussion," Boyce said.

VT Students for Concealed Carry Founder Ken Stanton said he wants to be a college professor. He founded the student group after the massacre because he doesn't believe he should have to choose between education or self defense. ...

Article here. Campus carry still faces an uphill fight, but it's good to see these young college students standing up and advocating for their self-defense rights on college campuses, which are generally hostile to both free speech and self-defense rights.

Ceding sovereignty

Via Karl Denninger's The Market Ticker, comes this excerpt of a speech by noted Global Warming skeptic, Lord Monckton, delivered at Bethel University in St. Paul, MN:




More info at GlobalClimateScam.com, including the draft text of the Copenhagen treaty.

Of course, any treaty signed by Obama must be ratified by the United States Senate. Given the current Leftist makeup of the Senate, however, that hardly seems like an obstacle.

New Hampshire DPS: No more NICS checks on seized firearms

From the Granite State [hat tip: Tom B.]:
The New Hampshire Department of Safety has ordered law enforcement agencies to end the practice of running background checks before returning confiscated firearms to their owners.

In a memo sent on Sept. 28, New Hampshire Department of Safety Assistant Commissioner Earl Sweeney reminded law enforcement officials throughout the state that the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, known as NICS, can be used only by federally licensed gun manufacturers, importers and dealers. If the NICS is being used by police or court officers to run background checks before returning confiscated guns, Sweeney wrote, they should stop. [emphasis added]

"Conducting NICS checks prior to returning confiscated firearms technically constitutes misuse of NICS and exceeds the authority granted to the Department of Safety by the New Hampshire Legislature," he wrote. ...

More here.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Before there were computers

Tonight's "Who needs technology?" video - a human jumbotron:

On California's new ammo control bill

A roundup of come commentary on the new California ammo control bill:

Howard Nemerov: California's new ammunition law: Costs and consequences (Page 2 here):
California’s new ammunition registration is not simply one state’s issue. It will have harmful consequences for years to come for all of us:
· Any price increases caused by AB 962 create an effective functional gun ban by pricing ammunition out of the reach of poor and middle class families, who must choose between feeding their children and protecting them from predators.

· Resources used to advance our civil right of self-defense will be drawn off to counter proposals for this new “sensible” gun law in other states.

· Mail order ammunition vendors may be at risk of losing enough sales to force them out of business, or force them to raise prices to remain profitable, negatively impacting all of us.

· Ammunition prices, just starting to level off and drop, may be hit with a new wave of fear-based buying, driving prices to new highs.

· This money, in turn, will not be available as contributions to pro-rights organizations in our continuing fight to restore the Second Amendment.
AB 962 was a major victory for the anti-rights crowd, whose goal is to leave you defenseless against violent predators. Anybody still sitting on the sidelines is effectively sitting on their head. ...


CRPA and NRA look to repeal ammo ban bill: Repeal of AB962 In The Works

At least we know where his loyalties lie: Governor Schwarzenegger Joins Brady Chapter Leaders to Celebrate Signing of Ammo Bill :
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger joined California Campaign Brady Chapter leaders at a dispatch center of the Los Angeles Police Department this morning to celebrate the passage, and his signing, of AB 962 that will help law enforcement track down and apprehend armed criminals and other prohibited persons.

Officials of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence will now urge leaders in other states to consider adopting California's innovative new law which will help law enforcement determine when dangerous people are in possession of illegal handgun ammunition and illegal guns. This bill was the California Brady Campaign Chapters' top priority in this year's state legislative session. [amphasis added]...


Kurt Hofmann asks: California AB 962: Much more than ammo?
...
(c) For purposes of this section, “ammunition” shall include, but not be limited to, any bullet, cartridge, magazine, clip, speed loader, autoloader, or projectile capable of being fired from a firearm with deadly consequence. “Ammunition” does not include blanks.. [emphasis in original]

That is taken directly from the text of the legislation--I omitted subsection (b) for the sake of brevity--and seems to indicate that magazines (whether "high capacity," or not), revolver speedloaders, unloaded bullets (not whole cartridges--just the projectiles themselves), etc., will fall under the scope of this insane law.

I don't claim to be proficient enough in legalese to be sure that this law will do what I think it does, but if so, the only possible intent of this is to find a way to end, for all practical purposes, possession and use of firearms, without an outright ban--thus nullifying the "victory" of Heller.


San Gabriel Valley Tribune: It's Politics: Ammo bill killing Republican support for governor

Prosecution as Punishment: The Troubling Case of Albert Kwan

From the Firearms Coalition, via Ohioans for Concealed Carry:
The Knox Update
From the Firearms Coalition

(October 8, 2009) People who “have nothing to hide” are often quite happy to answer any questions and consent to any intrusion a police officer might ask of them. They may even invite officers to “look around” if they want to. If you ask a good defense attorney how much you should cooperate with police, particularly when they are conducting an investigation in which you could possibly be a suspect, he will tell you “Not at all.” Don’t give them one word more than you must and never give them permission to search your car, look through your home, or examine any of your guns.

David Olofson took the “nothing to hide” approach. When the police confiscated one of his firearms from a friend he had loaned it to, Olofson freely chatted with police about how many guns he had, how many he has built, how he helps people to buy and assemble their own AR-platform rifles, and quite a bit more. David Olofson’s loquacious ways probably helped to put him in prison for 30 months for illegally transferring an unregistered machine gun – that was actually just a malfunctioning semi-auto – and his case has set a very dangerous precedent which threatens all gun owners.

On the other side of the coin is Albert Kwan. A Seattle Class III firearms dealer and collector, Kwan followed the path of minimal cooperation. When agents asked him about a pair of Makarov barrels they thought he might have bought and asked to examine any Makarovs or Makarov parts he might have, Albert told them he had only purchased one barrel and that they should get a warrant if they wanted to examine it or anything else he owned. Kwan says he wasn’t trying to hide anything; he just wanted to make sure his rights were respected and his privacy protected. Unfortunately, under-cooperating can be as problematic as over-cooperating.

Albert Kwan’s lack of cooperation “raised red flags” with agents investigating a murder case – the murder of a federal prosecutor. Albert was never a suspect in the murder, but agents thought he might have sold the gun, or at least the barrel, that the murderer used and they wanted to know where that barrel had gone. When he refused to let agents look at his guns and take his Makarovs, agents’ were peeved and they began trying to force Kwan to tell them what they wanted to hear – something Kwan has consistently maintained that he is unable to do because he says he never had a second barrel.

The persecution of Albert Kwan escalated from agents knocking on his door and asking a few questions, to agents serving a search warrant on his home and business confiscating firearms, ammunition, computers, and business records, to his arrest as a “material witness” in a murder investigation, and his eventual prosecution on trumped-up violations of the National Firearms Act. The ATF claimed that a legal, “de-milled,” semi-auto M14 was actually a machine gun, and that Kwan’s possession of a detachable shoulder stock for one of his legally owned submachine guns made a semi-auto pistol he owned, which could also accept the detachable stock, an unregistered “short-barreled rifle.” Both accusations blatantly disregarded ATF policy and established legal precedents.

When the jury learned that ATF had to extensively machine and add extra parts to Kwan’s M14 to make it fire full-auto, they rejected that charge, but prosecutors were able to convince them on the short-barreled rifle charge. Then the judge discovered that ATF and prosecutors had misled him and the jury about the stock and its multiple applications so he took the unusual step of overturning the conviction. But the government still didn’t want to let go of Albert Kwan so they appealed the reversal, but Kwan won the appeal in November of 2008. Since then Kwan has been going through legal channels trying to recover his property. The ordeal has cost him more than three years, his Army Reserve retirement, his firearms business, his commercial real estate business, his reputation, and tens of thousands of dollars above and beyond his life savings.

So, how much should one cooperate with the police? The principled answer remains the same – cooperate only as much as the law requires. But in a world where federal prosecutors are willing and able to use the system to retaliate against people who don’t cooperate, the principled response carries its own set of risks. That shouldn’t be the case in a nation based on laws. And it begs the question of just what kind of nation we are becoming.

# # #

Make sure the next generation fighting for our rights understands the struggles, successes, and mistakes of the last generation. Give the gift of knowledge; Neal Knox – The Gun Rights War. Available now at www.NealKnox.com.

Permission to reprint or post this article in its entirety is hereby granted provided this credit is included. Text is available at www.FirearmsCoalition.org. To receive The Firearms Coalition’s bi-monthly newsletter, The Knox Hard Corps Report, write to PO Box 3313, Manassas, VA 20108.
©Copyright 2009 Neal Knox Associates – The most trusted name in the rights movement.

The fight against killer pools and Big Cereal

David Harsanyi on intrusive government regulation, from Reason Magazine:
How can Americans be expected to wrestle with the myriad dangers that confront them each day? Insalubrious cereal? Unregulated garage sales? Pools of death? Sometimes it's too much to process.

You know what we desperately are crying out for? An army of crusading federal regulatory agents with unfettered power. Who else has the fortitude and foresight to keep us all safe?

Mercifully, as The Washington Post recently reported, many of President Barack Obama's appointees "have been quietly exercising their power over the trappings of daily life ... awakening a vast regulatory apparatus with authority over nearly every U.S. workplace, 15,000 consumer products, and most items found in kitchen pantries and medicine cabinets."

If there's anything Americans are hankering for in their everyday lives, it's a vast regulatory apparatus. Hey, it's dangerous out there.

That's why the new chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission recently unleashed 100 agency inspectors to investigate whether swimming pools in America were equipped with drain covers to prevent children from entrapment.

Nearly 0.9 children fall prey to this sadistic killer each year. With the compassionate guidance of federal officials, we almost surely will see this number plunge to 0.8 children per year.

It should be noted that in each tragic year that passes, an estimated 300 children younger than 4 drown in swimming pools. Why our government sits idly by as this watery assassin targets the most vulnerable among us is a mystery.

Don't get me started on food. Washington will not rest until every one of our children is forcing down some gravel-based Mueslix after morning calisthenics in the name of a glorious preventive care revolution. I get it. They're fat.

This is why I am grateful that one courageous soul finally has stood up to the menacing influence of Big Cereal. Yes, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg has had enough of deceitful infiltration of Cheerios, demanding that General Mills cease and desist a marketing campaign that peddles the fallacious claim that the oat-based cereal can lower cholesterol.

Why stop with oats? Trix are not only for kids, you know. Lucky Charms are nowhere close to being "magically" delicious. ...

Read the rest here. It is axiomatic that the more power bureaucrats and politicians have, the more they crave. And unless and until their power-hungry cravings are kept in check by the people, either by peaceful (preferred) or violent (if necessary) means, they will continue to grab as much as they can for themselves.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Would you like to supersize that?

Ever wondered just how far do you have to go for that Big Mac and large fries? Stephen von Worley did, and came up with this visualization of McDonald's fast food joints in the lower 48 (click on image to see hi-res version):


(The contiguous United States, visualized by distance to the nearest McDonald's. Click on the image for a larger version!)


From the article describing the visualization:
... As expected, McDonald’s cluster at the population centers and hug the highway grid. East of the Mississippi, there’s wall-to-wall coverage, except for a handful of meager gaps centered on the Adirondacks, inland Maine, the Everglades, and outlying West Virginia.

For maximum McSparseness, we look westward, towards the deepest, darkest holes in our map: the barren deserts of central Nevada, the arid hills of southeastern Oregon, the rugged wilderness of Idaho’s Salmon River Mountains, and the conspicuous well of blackness on the high plains of northwestern South Dakota. There, in a patch of rolling grassland, loosely hemmed in by Bismarck, Dickinson, Pierre, and the greater Rapid City-Spearfish-Sturgis metropolitan area, we find our answer.

Between the tiny Dakotan hamlets of Meadow and Glad Valley lies the McFarthest Spot: 107 miles distant from the nearest McDonald’s, as the crow flies, and 145 miles by car! ...

Peace Prize rap, gansta edition

Today's gansta rap spoof of Obama's Peace Prize, by Pajama TV's Steven Crowder:



Lyrics, for those who like to sing along:
I heard it today, Barack got a prize
Seams theyre dishin peace, prizes left and right
If you wanna prize, you can do it to
Theres just a few things, that you gotta do

Im mowing the lawn
You get a peace prize
Doing the laundry
Thats a peace prize
Im grooming my dog
Peace prize
He seems to like it
Thats a peace prize
You, get a peace prize
He, gets a peace prize
I, get a peace prize
Everybody, gets a peace prize


They gave a peace prize, to our president
Hed only been prez, for two weeks by then
The same time he takes, to dust his smokes
Some people call this, nobel prize a joke
But remember yall, Big O gives us hope
More hope for all man, even for the pope
This award aint for, anything he did
But for things he promises that he will
The first man to win, a peace prize for hope
Bankrupt America, The man is dope
Obama wants change, see it in his eyes
If you do to, youve earned yourself a prize


Im in the hot tub
Peace prize
Im doing some dips
Peace prize
Showing potential
Peace prize
Being a black guy
Gets a peace prize
Im making a sandwich
Thats a peace prize
Shes eating the sandwich
Peace prize
Its delicious
Heres a peace prize
Uh, yeah peace prize


The Nobel prize, aint given to fools
The whole committee, Went to greater schools
They thought Barack, Was Nobel worthy
they decided to, look at his story
He was voted to, be our president
Then they closed the books, The man is in
His namell go down, with other cool cats
Al Gore, Carter, Yasser Araffat
The prize aint always given to the best
Its got to be, politically correct
Thats why its not, everybody wins
For what not to do, Take a look at him


Liberate Iraq
You get no peace prize
Curb AIDS in Africa
No peace prize
Your last name is Bush
You get no peace prize
Ha, no peace prize
Obama, gets a peace prize
Automatic, Peace Prize
Huh, peace prize
Everybody, peace prize

Friday, October 16, 2009

Beautifully imperfect

Tonight's reflection on the beautiful imperfections of marriage, courtesy of a short video commissioned by the Singapore government to promote and celebrate marriage and family:




[Via Googling God]

The economy, in charts

From Dr. Housing Bubble, comes an economic summary in ten charts. An excerpt:

The work week has gotten shorter. So short, that it is the lowest it has been in record keeping history dating back to the 1960s. The average American work week is now down to 33 hours. Keep in mind this is for the employed. If we look at the under utilization rate (includes fully unemployed and those working part-time for economic reasons) the U-6 rate is up to 17 percent. The above chart reflects those but also those who supposedly have full-time jobs.

What is occurring is overtime is being cut and furloughs are being implemented like the 200,000 state workers of California that are now earning less. Earning less means less money to spend. The state is learning this lesson quickly. Jobs absolutely matter. The problem is Wall Street has captured our political process and convinced many that if Wall Street is happy, somehow little crumbs will trickle over onto Main Street and all will be well. So far, politicians have given everything the bankers have requested and nothing has changed on the streets of America. How is TARP working out? ...

Read the rest here. And remember, "green shoots" are popping up all around us. How do we know? The government and its propaganda operation in the mainstream business media said so. And if you believe that, I have a bridge in Brooklyn for sale. Cheap.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fish robber

Tonight's fish heist - a sea lion steals a fisherman's catch (language NSFW):

Obama to enter diplomatic talks with raging wildfires

Today's satire, courtesy of The Onion:




The folks at The Onion better be careful, making fun of The Narcissistic One. Just ask the folks at Saturday Night Live. CNN will no doubt do a thorough fact check on this piece of satire.

[Via The Anchoress]

Domestic violence laws do violence to civil rights

From an op-ed on the abuse of domestic violence laws:
Have you, or a person you know, ever been falsely accused of domestic violence? Targeted with a restraining order? Put in jail?

Each year more than 1 million Americans are hit with a false or trivial accusation of partner abuse. It’s now reached the point that domestic violence laws represent the largest roll-back in Americans’ civil rights since the Jim Crow era!

Our nation’s domestic violence laws have gone too far, harming innocent citizens and diverting scarce resources away from the true victims.

Respect for civil rights is deeply embedded in our national conscience, and constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties form the foundation of our legal system. Unfortunately, these rights have been eroded in the past 15 years by an array of domestic violence laws. For years Americans accepted these civil-rights violations, assuming they were an unfortunate but necessary byproduct of the national effort to curb intimate partner abuse. But it has now become clear that the harmful effects of domestic violence laws far exceed any abuses that may occur.

As a result of our nation’s domestic violence laws, 2 million to 3 million restraining orders are issued each year, often without any allegation of physical violence. As a result, persons lose access to their children, homes and financial assets, often their jobs, frequently their friends, with devastating social and financial consequences. One million persons are arrested each year for allegations of domestic violence. But the allegations are often recanted and the evidence doubtful as evidenced by fewer than 5 percent of cases actually being prosecuted in Superior Court in Snohomish County, leaving 95 percent of the arrests unjustified. ...

More here. In addition to the civil rights abuses that the op-ed notes, even a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction results in the loss of gun possession rights under current law. See my posts here and here for more examples on the abuse of domestic violence laws and restraining orders.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Did you know, v4.0

Tonight's edition of Did You Know, version 4.0:

More zero tolerance ugliness

Two more reports of "zero tolerance" in our schools:
Boy Scouts are supposed to "Be Prepared." But how could a New York Eagle Scout prepare himself to have his dreams derailed by a school's imbalanced "zero tolerance" policy?

Matthew Whalen's plan to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point may be in jeopardy because the high school senior had a 2-inch pocketknife locked in his car. The Lansingburgh Central School District initially suspended him for five days and later added another 15 days to his sentence. [emphasis added]

The honor student, who became a soldier last summer and completed Army Basic Training, including learning the safe use of automatic weapons and a bayonet, kept the pocketknife in a side compartment of his car as part of a survival kit along with a sleeping bag and bottled water. ...

Article here. A two inch pocketknife, locked in his car? Terrifying! At least if you're a school administrator.

And from Delaware, comes this New York Times report of a first grader with an "assault utensil":
NEWARK, Del. — Finding character witnesses when you are 6 years old is not easy. But there was Zachary Christie last week at a school disciplinary committee hearing with his karate instructor and his mother’s fiancĂ© by his side to vouch for him.


(Zachary Christie with his mother, Debbie, his father, Curtis, and the Cub Scout utensil that got him suspended from school. Photo: Mustafah Abdulaziz for The New York Times)

Zachary’s offense? Taking a camping utensil that can serve as a knife, fork and spoon to school. He was so excited about recently joining the Cub Scouts that he wanted to use it at lunch. School officials concluded that he had violated their zero-tolerance policy on weapons, and Zachary was suspended and now faces 45 days in the district’s reform school.

“It just seems unfair,” Zachary said, pausing as he practiced writing lower-case letters with his mother, who is home-schooling him while the family tries to overturn his punishment.

Spurred in part by the Columbine and Virginia Tech shootings, many school districts around the country adopted zero-tolerance policies on the possession of weapons on school grounds. More recently, there has been growing debate over whether the policies have gone too far.

But, based on the code of conduct for the Christina School District, where Zachary is a first grader, school officials had no choice. They had to suspend him because, “regardless of possessor’s intent,” knives are banned. ...

Article here. Seems to me that those who support "zero tolerance" are conspicuously displaying a key indicator of zero intelligence.

Pastor trades in his flock, for a Glock

From the Bluegrass State:
The Kentucky pastor who drew notice earlier this year for hosting a God-and-guns event at his church is giving up his flock for his Glock.

Pastor Ken Pagano resigned his post last month at the New Bethel Church in Louisville, Ky., after nearly 30 years in the ministry, saying he wants to focus on Second Amendment and church-security issues.

"Thirty years was a good, long run, but it's time for a change," Mr. Pagano said in an interview with The Washington Times. "If I can write my own ticket, I want to get involved more in Second Amendment issues as they affect the church, and I can do more from outside the pulpit than from behind it."
...
Mr. Pagano said he was considering a career change even before the event, but the ripple effect led him to Rabbi Gary Moskowitz of New York, who has long worked with synagogues on protection from terrorist threats.

Mr. Pagano and Mr. Moskowitz have since teamed up to form the International Security Coalition of Clergy, an organization dedicated to "making the vulnerable less vulnerable," according to their mission statement.

"Churches are very soft targets and very vulnerable to attack from terrorists and other homegrown, disgruntled individuals," Mr. Pagano said. "Unfortunately, most religious leaders are living in denial." ...

Read the article here.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

There's no wrong way to eat corn

Tonight's kids' dining lesson - eating corn for the first time:

Guvernator signs law restricting ammo sales

From California, comes news that Governor Schwarzenegger has signed into law (yet another) draconian gun control, or in this case ammo control, bill:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today signed into law a bill that requires buyers of handgun ammunition to leave thumbprints and detailed personal information with registered ammo sellers, as well as put restrictions on online bullet sales.

“Assembly Bill 962 reasonably regulates access to ammunition and improves public safety without placing undue burdens on consumers,” Schwarzenegger said in a letter explaining his decision.

The new restrictions will take effect Feb. 1, 2011.

Authored by Assemblyman Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, the bill bans direct shipping to Californians who buy bullets via mail order or over the Internet.

Instead, any ammo they buy would need to be picked up at a licensed handgun ammunition dealer, similar to the way guns are currently bought and sold.

The bill doesn’t require a waiting period to pick up ammunition as there is when purchasing firearms. All handgun ammunition must be kept behind store counters.

Ammunition that can be used in both pistols and rifles — like the popular .22 caliber round used by target shooters and small game hunters — fall under the new restrictions. ...

More here. Thumbprints to buy ammo (even .22LR!), and a ban on mail order purchases. Yet another reason to get the heck out of California if you happen to have the misfortune to live there.

Zero tolerance for zero tolerance

From the Lone Star State:
“Zero tolerance” is officially a thing of the past as Waco schools make it policy to consider mitigating factors such as self-defense when doling out punishment to students.

The Waco Independent School District board of trustees recently approved the 2009-10 Code of Conduct, which includes the requirement that district staff consider certain factors when issuing out-of-school suspensions and expulsions and when making placements to the disciplinary alternative education program. Those factors include: self-defense, student disability, student’s disciplinary history and intent or lack of intent at the time the student engaged in the conduct. Previously, it was a recommendation rather than a requirement to consider these factors. [emphasis added]

“As a district, we try to look at these every time we apply discipline,” said Royce Avery, WISD director of secondary education. “I think it’s a good thing that we apply fair and appropriate discipline across the board.”

Though it had been suggested in previous legislation that schools consider mitigating factors, legislators were still hearing stories about those factors not being considered, said Rep. Dora Olivo, D-Fort Bend. That was Olivo’s impetus to pen legislation making those considerations a requirement. ...

Article here. Definitely a small step in the right direction.

Monday, October 12, 2009

For a kid, waiting can be torture

Tonight's child behavioral psychology experiment - the Marshmallow Test:

From the video's description:
The marshmallow experiment is a famous test of this concept conducted by Walter Mischel at Stanford University and discussed by Daniel Goleman in his popular work. In the 1960s, a group of four-year olds were given a marshmallow and promised another, only if they could wait 20 minutes before eating the first one. Some children could wait and others could not. The researchers then followed the progress of each child into adolescence, and demonstrated that those with the ability to wait were better adjusted and more dependable (determined via surveys of their parents and teachers), and scored an average of 210 points higher on the Scholastic Aptitude Test.