Monday, February 28, 2011

Failure is pre-determined

Reader rgsnave sends email to point out this:

The number of kidneys available for transplants falls far short of the need, so there is no choice but to ration them. An emotionally difficult proposal to change the first-come-first-served transplant system makes good sense.

There are nearly 90,000 people on waiting lists to receive kidney transplants, and in 2009 there were only some 10,400 kidneys from dead donors to give them. And about 6,300 kidneys were transplanted from living people who donated one of their two kidneys and usually specified the recipient.
The Times' editorial goes on to discuss how to ration kidneys, based on all sorts of math and stuff.  They don't get that their editorial goes off the rail in the first sentence.

No choice but rationing?  How about letting people sell them?  Sure, this is double-plus ungood, immoral, yadda yadda yadda.  But nobody argue that letting people sell a kidney would not increase the supply of healthy transplants.

So let's talk about the moral aspect.  Actually, the Times' editorial's second paragraph starts this, and continues it here:
Currently the kidneys from dead donors are provided, through an organ procurement and transplantation network, to people who have been waiting the longest. That may seem fair since many transplant candidates wait for years, and some die while waiting.
So: people are waiting years, and sometimes die before getting to the top of the list.  Tens of thousands of people are waiting, and suffering.  Quite frankly, I would say that it's immoral to propose "rational management" of that suffering before you propose trying to eliminate that suffering.

But I didn't go to an Ivy League, so what do I know?  Besides, the Times' rationing proposal will provide all sorts of opportunities for "the right people" to get great paying jobs in health care, in positions of power.  With ample opportunity to bump their friends up to the top of the list, and their enemies down to the bottom.  But remember, it's the only moral choice.

God Speed, Frank Buckles

The last US veteran of World War I reports for the final roll call.  You - and your comrades - may be gone, but you are not forgotten.

When I was a boy growing up in the 1960s, the old veterans at the Memorial Day parades were the World War I vets.  There were quite a lot, even back then.  Now the Vietnam vets are almost as old as those old soldiers were then.

This is a lovely song, and a truly bitter-sweet memorial, but the Borepatch clan does not ask "What are they marching for?"  #1 Son and #2 Son know, and stand when the old veterans march by.  If I'm lucky, I'll inherit the flag that draped Grandpa's coffin, as a WWI veteran.

Frank Buckles, in his own words:

Sunday, February 27, 2011

How Sarah Palin can get elected President

There is a meme around that Sarah Palin can't get elected.  Supposedly her "negatives" (percent of people polled who have a negative impression of her) are too high.  Quite frankly, this meme isn't stupid - AFAIK, nobody has ever gotten elected with negatives this high.  There's quite good reason to think that nobody can.

But that doesn't mean that she can't get elected.  All it does is define the battlespace.  Kevin Baker linked to an old post of his that crystallized a bunch things I've been thinking about for a while.  So hang on as we blast off for Planet Borepatch, fueled by a Kevin Baker uber post.  You know what that means ...

I think that not only can Palin get elected, but there might be a quite good chance that she succeeds.  It will take her successfully executing on three ideas.

Idea #1: Know your enemy

At first glance, her political rivals would seem to be the yet-to-emerge pack of Republican candidates: Pawlenty, Romney, whatzisname from Indiana, etc.  That would be the first hurdle for her; if she successfully defeated them, she would presumably face Obama in the General Election.

Note that I don't think that it's at all a certainty that Obama will run, or survive a primary challenge from Hillary Clinton if she takes a run at what would likely be her last shot for the brass ring.  But that's a post for another day.  Let's assume that the Democrat nominee is Obama.  It doesn't matter.  That's not her enemy.

The Press is her enemy.  Obama isn't the reason that her negatives are so high; rather, it's the never ending drumbeat of negative stories about her - some true, some open-mouth-droolworthy false.  If she campaigns against Obama and the other Republican candidates, she'll lose.  She will have to take the media on - and beat them - to have a chance.

Quite frankly, she'll have to be ruthless in this fight, willing to destroy careers.  Fortunately for her (as we'll soon see), this shouldn't be hard.

Idea #2: Find the point of decision on the battlefield

Napoleon famously said that on any battlefield there will be a single point of decision, where the battle will be won or lost.  What happens at that point is critical to success, and the army must apply all necessary resources at that point to ensure success.  The corollary is that whatever happens elsewhere on the battlefield is irrelevant to the final outcome.

So assuming that the media is Palin's enemy, what's the critical point on that battlefield where the decision will be reached?  Remember, victory will be defined as a substantial reduction in her negative poll numbers.  She needs to change a lot of minds to win.

It would seem that she's starting in a deep, deep hole.  People just plain don't like to change their minds - this is why almost all new brand introductions fail within the first year, despite hugely expensive advertising campaigns.  Most people have already formed an opinion on, say, which quilted toilet paper works for them at a price they'll tolerate.  It really doesn't matter if you have the niftiest new quilted toilet paper of all time at an incredibly low price - most people are busy living their lives and simply don't want to devote any of their time to listening to you.

So when will people listen?  They'll listen if they think they're wrong, and especially if they think that someone intentionally led them wrong.  If someone starts thinking that they've been sold a bill of goods, their existing preference settings typically collapse like a pricked balloon.  Marketing and PR types are very, very careful these days to avoid a situation where their customers start wondering if they've been lied to, for good reason: their customer base could collapse over night.

Idea #3: People don't trust the media

This is the point of decision.  And quite frankly, Palin is positioned much better here than anyone is giving her credit for.  As Kevin points out, the media's credibility is collapsing:
It's only gotten worse. One recent poll (take it as you wish) reported:
(J)ust 19.6% of those surveyed could say they believe all or most news media reporting. This is down from 27.4% in 2003. Just under one-quarter, 23.9%, in 2007 said they believe little or none of reporting while 55.3% suggested they believe some media news reporting.
I'd call that "being divorced from the thoughts and attitudes" of the audience.
Sure is.  And a Palin campaign tagline that will hit this target is "Everything you've heard about me is probably wrong, because of Media distortion."

But she has to make it stick.  As I said earlier this shouldn't be hard.  There are so many stories, by so many reporters, so much video of talking heads spouting drool-worthy idiocy, that she could release a different one every day from now until election day.  Here's the script:
"Today's media distortion is TV reporter Joe Bloggs from CBS, who said [insert the most idiotic thing that Bloggs ever said about Palin].  Here's the truth [insert something that the person at home can verify for themselves - the web is great for this].  You wonder that Joe was thinking when he said that - except you know what he was thinking.  He was thinking 'We can't let Sarah Palin get elected.'  So remember when you hear Joe talk about me - he's not interested in giving you the truth."

Pick a different target every day for a while, but keep coming back to a few carefully selected journalists.  As I said, she has to destroy careers, and the web (particularly Youtube) will make her target acquisition easy.  It will also have a high impact for changing a lot of minds minds in the public, as Joe Bloggs will be clearly seen as being not just biased, but likely idiotic too.

"Everything you've heard about me is probably wrong, because of Media distortion."

This relentless drumbeat will be heard by a public that simply doesn't trust the media to be honest.  Kevin again:
The Editor & Publisher quote above, which notes that the Pew Research poll is based on journalist's self assessment was plucked from an Instapundit post. A comment Glenn found worthy left at that post:
One point that can't be overstressed is that the Pew findings are based on self-assessment. I worked in the newsroom at three large newspapers for 22 years, and many of the journalists who rate themselves as politically moderate are well to the left of center, especially on social issues. They are moderate by newsroom standards, not by the general public's standards.

Perhaps the most pervasive way in which journalists are different from normal people is that journalists live in a world dominated by government, and they reflexively see government action as the default way to approach any problem.
That's the theory.  Can we test it?  Do we see this happening anywhere?  We do indeed, and Kevin's post offers up the acid test (it's a trifecta of win, and you really should RTWT):
I recently finished reading a very interesting book, by coincidence also published in 2002, The National Rifle Association and the Media: The Motivating Force of Negative Coverage by Professor Brian Anse Patrick, whom I've written about here before. The initial topic of the book was a study of how the NRA manages not only to survive, but thrive in an environment in which it is given nearly universally negative coverage in the media.
The biggest switch is momentum on gun rights that's occurred in the last 20 years has happened as the public hears the media reporting breathless catastrophe prediction after breathless catastrophe prediction, none of which ever come true.  The public - seemingly a large majority of the public - simply tunes out anything the media says about guns.  Their preference settings have been set to "ignore the media because they're untrustworthy."

That's what Palin needs to do to win - convince a significant portion of the public that everything they think they know about her is unreliable.  Then she can bring her regular campaign message like a normal candidate, because once the public's preference structure is disrupted, they'll actually listen to her.  They may not ultimately agree with her, or vote for her, but she'll get a hearing.  Until she breaks the media, they won't.

She'll have to have a detailed dossier of journalists, stories, publication dates, and quotes.  Every time a journalist interviews her, she'll have to throw the quotes back in their faces, and make them justify why they said it.  She'll have to have her own people record all her interviews, and post the clips of her challenge - and the journalists' replies - to Youtube.

Quite frankly, this seems like a target-rich environment, and in a couple of months, she'll have a huge set of evidence that the media really is biased against her.

The press will seethe with rage, but they'll have to cover her because she is such a huge story.  She'll have to literally destroy some careers to make this stick:  she will need to make them as afraid as they are angry.  I'd feel sorry for them, but they are biased, and are using their power corruptly.  You'll see me shed no tears for them.

Will she do this?  Who knows?  If she gets elected, will she be a good President?  Who knows?  Most of what I know about her is suspect, because even when viewed with my skeptical biased-media filter, I've learned most of it from the biased media.

But the media won't give me (relatively) unbiased information until she thrashed them good and proper.  I look forward to the prospect with keen anticipation.

UPDATE 1 March 2011 11:32: Welcome visitors from Legal Insurrection.   Many thanks, Prof. Jacobsen.

There's more thinking about Sarah Palin and how she's changing politics here and here.

Homeward bound

Ah, the glamor of air travel.  The bad food; the jet-lag; the being away from your home, missing your kid's first steps, ball games, school concerts.

I have a saying that has been a great comfort over the years.  It's always a good flight when you're going home.

But not this day.  I don't expect I'll see Dad again until the Final Day.  Amen, and amen.

I may get to some blogging this afternoon, if my heart's in it.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Busy now

Back later.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

UPDATE 26 February 2011 14:16: Boy, was that fun. A huge thank you to reader Erich, for a totally enjoyable morning at the range.  Range reports as I can get to them, but in a nutshell: the Chiapa Rhino is a very interesting revolver to shoot, and I think I may be in love with the Ruger P90.


Woman marries fiancée who helped pull her from earthquake rubble:
Three days after being dragged frightened and dirty from the rubble of the Christchurch earthquake, Emma Howard walked down the aisle in a flowing wedding dress.

Emma, 23, married Chris Greenslade in a church ceremony in a Christchurch suburb, pushing aside memories of lying trapped in a foetal position for nearly seven hours in the collapsed Pyne Gould Corporation building.
Here's what the building looks like:

Mr. Greenslade communicated with his bride-to-be by SMS text messaging:
Unable to move, she sent a text message to Mr Greenslade, 25, who is also an accountant. He raced to the building from his nearby office and stared in horror at the devastation.

Miss Howard said: ‘He just ran and expected to find me standing on the street. He was ready to take me home.’

Without hesitating, Mr Greenslade began digging into the rubble, pulling out other victims as he searched for his fiancée.
Bravo, Mr. Greenslade.  Bravo.  And here's the happy couple, three days later:

And the new Mrs. Greenslade seems quite remarkable as well:
Ms Howard said going ahead with their wedding was a sign that the disaster could not break people's spirit.
Brava to her as well.  Best wishes to the happy couple for a long life of somewhat less urgent excitement.  And our prayers go out to New Zealand in this time of mourning and, for the Greenslades, rejoicing.
And there is no trade or employment but the young man following it may become a hero.
- Walt Whitman

Hank Williams, Sr. - Lovesick Blues

You can't play that Honky-Tonk music here.

Dad's favorite Country & Western singer was Hank Williams, Sr., and Lovesick Blues was his favorite Country & Western song.  This was a problem for him back when he was going to College; his Fraternity house only allowed "high class" music.

So he and the brothers would head out to the Roadhouse, likely stopping at the Bootlegger along the way (the College was in a dry county in Kansas).  Good thing the Fraternity house had those rules, or the morals of the brothers might have gone astray ...

Hank Sr. needs no introduction to anyone who's ever listened to Country music, and this was one of his biggest hits.  It's today's Saturday Redneck, because Dad picked it.

But what's strange is that in some way today's Nashville has come full circle.  Hank's Honky Tonk songs aren't welcome in the "Modern" Nashville of Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, and Taylor Swift.  Too old fashioned.  No crossover appeal.  You can't play that Honky-Tonk music here.

Well, phooey.  Good enough for Dad, good enough for me.

Lovesick Blues (Songwriters: Cliff Friend, Irving Mills)
I got a feelin’ called the blu-ues, oh, lawd
Since my baby said good-bye
And I don’t know what I’ll do-oo-oo
All I do is sit and sigh-igh, oh, lawd
That last long day she said good-bye
Well lawd I thought I would cry
She’ll do me, she’ll do you, she’s got that kind of lovin’
lawd, I love to hear her when she calls me
Sweet dad-ad-ad-dy, such a beautiful dream
I hate to think it all o-o-ver
I’ve lost my heart it seems
I’ve grown so used to you some-how
Well, I’m nobody’s sugar- daddy now
And I’m lo-on-lonesome
I got the lovesick blu-ues.

Well, I’m in love, I’m in love, with a beautiful gal
that’s what’s the matter with me
Well, I’m in love, I’m in love, with a beautiful gal
But she don’t care about me
Lawd, I tried and I tried, to keep her satisfied
But she just wouldn’t stay
So now that she is lea-eav-in’
This is all I can say.

I got a feelin’ called the blu-ues, oh, lawd
Since my baby said good-bye
And I don’t know what I’ll do-oo-oo
All I do is sit and sigh-igh, oh, lawd
That last long day she said good-bye
Well lawd I thought I would cry
She’ll do me, she’ll do you, she’s got that kind of lovin’
lawd, I love to hear her when she calls me
Sweet dad-ad-ad-dy, such a beautiful dream
I hate to think it all o-o-ver
I’ve lost my heart it seems
I’ve grown so used to you some-how
Well, I’m nobody’s sugar- daddy now
And I’m lo-on-lonesome
I got the lovesick blu-ues.
(Image source)

Friday, February 25, 2011

Blogroll update

It's been a while since I've done this, so apologies.  Life's been pretty busy.

Low Dog on the Totem Pole brings something that left me more than a little flabbergasted:
I discovered the blogosphere about a year ago after having had my nose rubbed in it by a friend. So sue me, I'm a little slow. In the last year I've wandered from blog to blog, not commenting often, just lurking. Started with JayG's MArooned [always a good idea - Borepatch] and bounced from blogroll to blogroll. Even went back and read several blogs from the beginning. Occasionally, I've skipped commenting on something simply because I couldn't condense my thoughts enough for a simple comment. I needed a post of my own at those times. A few weeks ago Borepatch (who I never miss, because the man is smart, I tell you, smart! [the Expert is the guy who's five minutes ahead of everyone else - Borepatch]) posted about Travis of the TJIC blog having troubles. For the whole story click on the picture. If you haven't seen it yet, hie yourself over there and read. I did. And I wanted to help. So, here I are am, inspired to blog by the the fact that the government acted in a completely unconstitutional manner and took away someone's 1st and 2nd Amendment rights without due process. And I thought TJIC's comment was crass!
My first thought was wow, I inspired someone to start a blog!  But that's not really it - the idiot Government Flunkies in Massachusetts inspired him to start blogging.  Way to go inspiring another libertarian-ish Internet voice, Blue State progressives!  And welcome,

brings the snark.  His suggestion for the appropriate Science Fiction response to l'affair TJIC is simply inspired.  But keep the Country Music handy, just in case.  Srlsy.  Oh, and he tells you where to get your own Imperial Stormtrooper's gun.

Mark at A Day In The Life Of A Talk Radio Blogger brings the Global Warming skepticism:
Extrapolating a little bit, mind you I am NOT a scientist or a meteorologist, it seems to me that it is only the increase of of contrails which are helping to maintain the earths temperature. Without the contrails and possibly other green house gasses we might actually be heading into another little ice age. The earth is large and it radiates a LOT of heat. The contrails and green house gasses which are supposed to be contributing to global warming might actually be helping earth to maintain the climate it currently has.
This is a really, really good point, and something that I've been meaning to post on for a while.  The climate has been gradually cooling for about the last 6-8,000 years, and the current gap between Ice Ages seems longer than the average over the last 400,000 years or so.  Nobody really has a good grasp on long term climate swings.

The Granite Sentry emails (yay!) to tell me that he's blogrolled me.  Unlike your humble-yet-dilettante host, he's an actual writer (you know, who gets published and everything).  Quite frankly, it shows, which makes it a pleasure to read:
In a savagely clever move that must have taken several minutes to plan, a liberal blogger has telephone-pranked Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker by pretending to be a wealthy Republican financier. Despite getting the governor to speak frankly for several minutes, the prankster came away without any killer evidence of GOP perfidy. Read the details at NPR.

The Granite Sentry was also a strong partisan of telephone pranks once, conducting a reign of terror that had people afraid to answer their party lines for months during his sixth-grade year, terrified that they would be interrogated as to their tobacco storing practices and then mocked for their credulity. There was also the somewhat more risque body-parts/name trick that never failed to flummox local saloon-keepers.
This is not your average commentary on the day's news, and is certainly a cut above what you'll find here.

HonourableMeans at The Bonnie Blue Blog also emails (yay!) and brings the Marcus Aurelius:
The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape, finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.

My kind of guy, right there.

Welcome to the blogroll, everyone!  The usual note: if you've blogrolled me and I haven't added you here, please leave a comment or send an email (borepatch {at} gmail {dot} com).  If you've already done this and I somehow missed you, please ping me again.  Things have been pretty crazy lately.

I can't make up my mind

Does Mom look more like Marilyn Monroe ...

... or more like Jacquie Kennedy?

Clearly, the "good looks" genes went to my brothers.

"Assault" Energy Drinks

For the really hard core.  And this one has a high capacity magazine can, too.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

How to get linked by the New York Times

Do a post full of insight about Life, The Universe, and Everything?  Nah, toss up a picture (from someone else, no less!) with geeky Linux humor, and get a couple extra thousand hits.

I'm pretty sure that burning smell is coming from my Sitemeter counter,  I'll pro'lly have to get the bearings repacked now.

Seriously, it seems to be the goofy stuff that attracts all the attention.  Al Gore's Intarw3bz sure seems a silly place.

Let's make breakfast

2 - Hungry Toddlers
2 - Sleepy Parents
1 - Box of Nestle's Quick on a lower Kitchen shelf
Various - Toy trucks and cars (to taste)

Important: When one of the Sleepy Parents gets suspicious because it's quiet - too quiet, they should not shriek in horror.  Rather, they should grab their camera and savor the moment forever.

Borepatch and Older Brother making breakfast, December 1959.  One of the nice things about visiting Mom and Dad is seeing old pictures.  This one somehow always got shown to my girlfriends.  (Note: I like all y'all, but not like that.  Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course.)

Teddy Roosevelt vs. Bigfoot

Your argument is invalid.

If this picture had been set in the Panama Canal, it would have been so awesome that it would rip the very fabric of Space-Time, like the Large Hadron Collider.

From Sharpwriter@deviantart

Happy Blogiversary

To the Silicon Graybeard, who's just made his first lap around the sun.  Still has that New Blog Smell.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Top shelf mockery

Over in the comments at Unc's.

Happy Birthday, George Frideric Handel

Looking Sounding pretty good for 326 years old.  Perhaps some fireworks are in order.

A little known fact is that Handel of the official Court Composer for Evil Black Rifles.

How to beat the Watson Jeopardy computer

Via #1 Son.

UPDATE 24 February 2011 17:48: Boy, howdy, this sure has gotten some attention.  Welcome visitors from LaughingSquid and Neatorama, and, well, pretty much everywhere on teh Intarw3bz.  More geeky tech humor here, and you can always check out the other sort of stuff I blather about.  If you like it, stop back.  It's free!

UPDATE 1 March 2011 12:10: Hello visitors from DailyKos.   And perhaps I can gently point out to commenter Gray there that it should be clear to someone as smart as he that I didn't make this.  If you hover your mouse over the picture, you'll see a link to where I found it (this is hint #1).  Also, if you actually read my post, you'll find out how I found it (I won't give the secret away, but rather leave it as a challenge to the reader; but it's not very hard).

As to his "wingnut" comment, honi soit qui mal y pense, scooter.  But actually, you know - reading - would tell you the actual situation is much more subtle and nuanced than he lets on.  I've put a lot of info about who I am and what I think in the "Borepatch 101" post that you find by clicking on Albert Einstein.  Yeah, I know that it's cunningly hidden (under the "Who is this Borepatch guy, anyway?" label).  Fiendishly cunning.

Anyhow, if you bothered to look there, you'll find I talk about my politics.  There, I explain that I'm not a conservative.  Oops.  Well, maybe I'm a wingnut because I'm not a liberalI'm also not a Libertarian, so I'd suggest that what it all really means is that I'm not much of a joiner.  I don't know - maybe this is too subtle and nuanced for you.

But hey, thanks for all the traffic!  And to express my gratitude, let me just suggest that reading is a Good Thing.  Note: I just added the "mockery" tag to this post because, well, you can figure it out.

Yesterday was a bad day

I'll try to get things cranked up later, but I kind of feel like I've been run over by a truck.

Back later.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


The Oracle at Delphi was famous throughout the Ancient world for the quality of the visions - and their interpretation - that could be obtained there.  A caste of priests did the interpretation, and very likely embodied an astute mix of politics and Madame Clio style hucksterism; this was no doubt a major contributor to Delphi's reputation.  But the power came from a deeper, more primal source.

The Pythia was the priestess who, perhaps under the influence of volcanic vapors or drugs, went into the trance and received the vision.  It was the vision that tapped the deep root of the psyche, and undoubtedly it made an enormous impression on the supplicant.

Visions are known throughout the world, in all societies and all times.  The people who have visions are universally held to be sacred, tabu.

I can understand this, not just intellectually, but in my gut.  Seeing someone communing with forces not of this world is a powerful, mystical experience.  Knowing that it's the mind itself that is the original source of these upwellings makes it more powerful, not less.

It's awe inspiring, and I write this as a scientifically trained son of the Enlightenment.  There is something mystical, and holy, and unintelligible present, something that makes our efforts at comprehending the Universe seem puny indeed.

No matter how impressive IBM's Jeopardy winning computer is - from a technical viewpoint - it shrivels to insignificance in the presence of the Oracle.
Lord, if You had not revealed to me what You revealed to me,
this would not be happening to me.
Lord, if You had revealed to them what You revealed to me,
this would not be happening to me.
Lord, praise be to Thee in all Thy works.

- Sufi mystic Mansur al-Hallaj, as he was crucified for heresy


Hamlet described eternity as "the undiscovered country".  Some day, each of us will set sail for those shores.
The day which we fear as our last is but the birthday of eternity.
- Seneca
For now, we stand on these shores, watching the boats weigh anchor.
When you are born, you cry, and the world rejoices.
When you die, the world cries, and you rejoice.
- Buddhist saying

(Image source)


Despite his archaic writing style and word selection, it's arguable that J.R.R. Tolkien was the 20th Century's greatest novelist, and The Lord Of The Rings was the 20th Century's greatest novel. Now that will get a discussion going ...

It's not about the richness and depth of the world he created, where you would capture fleeting glimpses of a long lost past, more so than any other novel.  The depth and richness is unmatched, but that's not the source of the greatness.  It's the topic - and Tolkien's recounting of that topic - that is the source of its greatness.

Many 20th Century authors took on the theme of despair.  Tolkien did, too, but always twinned with the key theme, temptation.  Perhaps the greatest scene in Peter Jackson's The Fellowship Of The Ring was Frodo offering the ring to Galadriel (you'll have to follow the link to watch, because New Line Cinema seemingly doesn't understand New Media, and so embedding is disabled):
Frodo: I will give you the One Ring, if you ask for it. It is too great a matter for me.
Galadriel: I do not deny that my heart has greatly desired to ask what you offer. For many long years I had pondered what I might do, should the Great Ring come into my hands, and behold! it was brought within my grasp.
You will give me the Ring freely!

Galadriel (with the voice of the Ring): In place of the Dark Lord you will set up a Queen. And I shall not be dark, but beautiful and terrible as the Morning and the Night! Fair as the Sea and the Sun and the Snow upon the Mountain! Dreadful as the Storm and the Lightning! Stronger than the foundations of the earth. All shall love me and despair!
Temptation - the temptation of great power, to be used for great good.  Galadriel sees where that future leads, and turns away, and passes the test.  The Ring would be too much for her.

It is said that Tolkien was not a master of characterization, and it's true that many of his characters are stereotypes.  Even Sam (my favorite) is really pretty two dimensional, acting as part prop, part Greek Chorus for the major action.

But Frodo and Gollum are two of the most memorable fictional characters of the 20th Century, as they play out a detailed passion play of Temptation.  They are in essence mirror images of each other, the yin and the yang of Temptation - or more properly the Faust and anti-Faust.  One has given in to Temptation, long ago, and been all but destroyed by it.  The other fights the Temptation, in no small reason because of what he sees it has done to the other.  It is a towering psychological and spiritual story of Despair, Temptation, and Salvation.  Nothing else in the 20th Century approaches it.

Via Toaster 802, we find this same story playing out at Sipsey Street Irregulars:
CA falls into Denethor’s Trap. I do not blame him; I am prone to the same conclusions. Remembering that there is a higher purpose to History is the only thing that keeps me from despair. We do what we ought; we do what we must, regardless -- the end-game of history is written despite our efforts. Even if the glory that was the West goes down to utter ruin (as part of Almighty God’s master plan for the end times), we cannot, if we are to be true to our God and to our duty, true to America’s promise of ordered liberty and to our free heritage, do anything less. Yet in being true to our principled heritage we cannot fall into the tactics or adopt the unprincipled stance of our opponents.

I am concerned that CA, and others sharing his frustration, are advocating that direct actions be taken by Team Restoration – before the necessary breaches of the peace can legitimatize such actions … Yet see my response to his “We’re losing, Mike” comment in the post below. We have never been closer to awakening that remnant of actual Americans; we are still not past Ms. Wolf’s “awkward time.”
People look around at our country, and despair for its future.  They look at the Threeper manefestos, and the voice of the Ring whispers in their hearts.  Their despair makes the temptation sharper.

I'm pretty late to the gun party - I didn't really start shooting until 4 years ago, and I've not even been blogging for three.  I'm new, so I'm not sure how much my voice counts.  But here's the important part: in the midst of despair, the dawn is breaking.  We're winning.

A majority of states have "shall issue" laws.  Several are legalizing Open Carry. The idiotic Assault Weapon Ban expired and is dead as a doornail. Heller stopped the worst of the bans, and McDonnald made it the law of all 50 states.  Gun ownership is way up, CCW licensing is way up, and even the shooting of a Congresswoman isn't enough to jump start the moribund gun control movement.  The Brady Crew seem to be in permanent Sad Panda mode.

In the broader world, the Progressive Agenda has peaked, and is receding.  The Tea Parties have upset the existing too-comfortable elites from both parties, Government Technocrat legitimacy is at an all time low (world wide, not just here), and the question is not whether power will devolve from the center, but how much and how fast.

Sure, none of these battles are won, but we're winning.  Listen with the ears of history, and you will hear the creaking and cracking of the entire statist edifice.

But how do you stop all this?  How to you entrench the Elites and put an immediate and irreversible end to all this progress?  Form Threeper cells and start shooting:
To beat the swine we are up against, we are going to have to be worse than them. Attila the Hun would have laughed at, and then trampled, the Queensbury Rules. We're going to need ruthless killers, not dreamers and moral men.
You cannot use this Ring.  It will destroy you - as the public recoils in horror from your ruthless killers - or you and your gangs will succeed.  That will be even worse - the anarchy that follows the collapse of the governments and the emergence of a truly ruthless Attila-like strongman will be the end of much of the population.

No thanks.  Maybe it's because I'm a Johnny Come Lately, but I will not walk that road with you.  It doesn't lead to salvation and redemption, but to the abyss.
Frodo: He deserves death.

Gandalf: Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.
In Tolkien's story, Frodo does not come through unscathed.  He loses much that is precious to him, as we can expect to lose much that we would keep.  Life is change, some for the better and some for the worse.  But Frodo's great victory was that he kept his soul.  Surrounded by despair, we must not lose ours.
Despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt. We do not.
- Gandalf

UPDATE 24 February 2011 17:54: Some insightful thinking on this subject, that's worth your while.

Monday, February 21, 2011

From the Department of "Duh"

The emergent meme is "How did Obama blunder so badly in Wisconsin":
It is becoming clear that the Wisconsin battle was a strategic political blunder for President Obama and the Democratic Party. The decision by the Democratic Party and its allies to draw a line in the sand in Wisconsin was the wrong strategy, in the wrong state, at the wrong time, on the wrong issue, and executed in the wrong way.
How to put this nicely?  What else has he ever done?  Consider:

1. Require the taxpayers to pay a government-set price for a government-run good (primary and secondary education).

2. Those people who run this program donate heavily to the elected officials who mandate that the taxpayers support it.

3. Toss in lots of heartstring-tugging for-teh-childrens platitudes that is dutifully parroted by a liberal media.

4. (Political) Profit!

You have to pay your tax to support the school system, even if you home school.  You can't decide to buy some, all, or none of the product produced by the Educational Establishment.  If you don't pay, tax collectors will show up at your door, backed up by scowly men with guns.

Remind you of anything?  Obamacare maybe?

1. Require the taxpayers to pay a government-set price for a government-run good (health insurance).

2. Those people who run this program (Insurance companies lobbied heavily for the program, as did the AMA) donate heavily to the elected officials who mandate that the taxpayers support it.

3. Toss in lots of heartstring-tugging for-teh-childrens platitudes that is dutifully parroted by a liberal media.

4. (Political) Profit!

Anyone who is asking where Obama is coming from hasn't been paying attention.

Why I hate Sudbury High School

I actually don't hate Sudbury (Massachusetts) High School.  I hate the Administration at Sudbury High School.  Back to this in a bit.  Brian Micklethwait tells us how he used to be regularly treated with contempt by the workers at Her Majesty's Royal Mail.  Nothing personal, you see, just a general feeling of superiority to and contempt towards the general public.

And then along came Maggie Thatcher:
Those Post Office workers had totally misunderstood that package-in-the-hole moment that I had had with one of them, and millions upon millions of other moments like it, stretching back through the decades. They, the Postal Workers, imagined that at the end of such moments, The Public walked away full of love and gratitude for the Postal Workers. But actually, we walked away full of pent-up rage. We had had to force ourselves to fake love and gratitude, and hated the Postal Workers all the more because of this. They had believed our performances. They really thought that we really were full of love and gratitude for them. Big mistake. Huge mistake.

Come the day when the tables were turned by a politician who was aggregating all our rage into a force majeure moment which left them trying to persuade her to do what they wanted, they were helpless.
He points out that the Wisconsin Teacher's Union is finding themselves short of public support, when faced with a Governor and Legislature that the public just elected to solve the budget problem.  The union seems astonished to find that they have to bus in supporters from out of state, and that the public seems entirely lacking in sympathy.

Now I don't know much about the public schools in Wisconsin, but I do know about the ones in Sudbury, Massachusetts.  My kids went to those schools.  The teachers there are generally pretty good.  But if the Administrators of Sudbury High School spontaneously burst into flame, I wouldn't pee on them to put it out.

I'm not going to go into detail, because it really isn't anyone's business.  However, I will say that I was abused by the Administrators, in front of my family, so badly that I would only ever go back into the school for #1 Son's graduation.  And I am absolutely convinced that the Administrators (a) thought it was For My Own Good, and (b) thought that I should be grateful.

I don't know how many more people there are like me, who smile when the fox gnaws so that your kid will get the stupid paper and get out.  I can say that there is precisely zero good will that these teacher's unions can count on, when they find their back against the wall.  And note that this isn't a policy issue - whether an extra point of marginal tax rate is good or bad for the State.

This is personal.

Why I won't buy another iPhone

As one of them thar Intertubez content creators, I can appreciate how an artist feels about people digging his art.  Well, sort of.  Of course my, err, "art" is free, but it's still very nice indeed that people come around to read it (hi!).

But I hate the idea that Apple might try to take 30% of my free, and can appreciate how artists who rely on paying customers would be going crazy with rage right now:
Up until now, every subscription service has played a strategy game – against Apple and each other – and in a spilt second, Apple has changed the game and reminded them that it owns the board beneath them. Once Apple introduced the ability for app developers to charge for in-app content on a subscription basis and claimed rights over a 30% cut, it restructured the subscription music sector.
Mark Alger lays it out:

For all of my forty years in the music business, I have reminded myself of this central fact: we are all in it for the music. And the music comes from the artist. Any arrangement that does not ultimately benefit the artist hurts the music.

Ask yourself: how does this arrangement benefit the artist?
There is a certain evil genius to The Steve's latest move.  Let the Apps use the wisdom of crowds to act as the next Col. Tom Parker to find the new Elvis.  And you don't need to pay a real - you know - actual Tom Parker his cut.  And you rake in a cool 30% of every shekel, straight off the top.  Simples.

The only ones getting screwed are the artists trying to get access to an audience via the Subscription Apps.

Evil.  While Apple is welcome to price access to its App store the way it likes - hey, free country and all that - I'm equally free to say that I no longer want to spend money on products from a company that disgusts me.  Free country.

My next phone will be an Android, and good riddance.  I'm pretty tired of not being able to sync the iPhone with my Linux computer, simply because The Steve didn't want me to.  And it looks like by the time Apple gets a new version of iPhone out the door, there will be three generations of Android phones shipping.  But the deciding factor is that I've come to the conclusion that Apple are a bunch of exploitive jerks, and I'm not interesting in giving them any more money.

I guess it's time for me to Think Different.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Iron Law and the bureaucratization of science

Something is not healthy about the current state of scientific research.  This isn't a new realization:
The modest output of major discoveries compared with a century ago, despite the huge increase in the scientific workforce, was the theme of an earlier post on this subject, which you can see here . A relevant extract  from the Magic Universe story on “Discovery” included this paragraph about the use of peer review to resist the funding and publication of novel research.

As a self-employed, independent researcher, the British chemist James Lovelock was able to speak his mind, and explain how the system discourages creativity. ‘Before a scientist can be funded to do a research, and before he can publish the results of his work, it must be examined and approved by an anonymous group of so-called peers. This inquisition can’t hang or burn heretics yet, but it can deny them the ability to publish their research, or to receive grants to pay for it. It has the full power to destroy the career of any scientist who rebels.’

Lovelock made those remarks in a lecture in 1989, but the situation remains grim. This month the life sciences magazine The Scientist has interesting articles on peer review.

One, entitled “Breakthroughs from the Second Tier”, describes five “high-impact” papers that should have been published in more prestigious journals than they were. You can see it here
I can't seem to find and data about the number of scientists working today, vs. the number a century ago.  I can't even find decent proxy data for this - say the number of scientific articles published in 2010 vs. the number published in 1910.  But we can all agree that there has been a vast increase in the number of working scientists and the number of published articles (which may be up to 50 Million by now).

And yet we are not seeing any obvious acceleration in the pace of scientific discovery.  Nigel Calder again:

While the modern advances are all impressive, are they really more impressive than those from a century ago?  Especially when you adjust for the army of scientists at work today - perhaps a thousand times as many as at the dawn of the 20th Century - the question becomes why has science slowed down?

Hal Lewis hinted at the rationale in his spectacular resignation letter to the president of the American Physical Society:
I do feel the need to add one note, and this is conjecture, since it is always risky to discuss other people’s motives. This scheming at APS HQ is so bizarre that there cannot be a simple explanation for it. Some have held that the physicists of today are not as smart as they used to be, but I don’t think that is an issue. I think it is the money, exactly what Eisenhower warned about a half-century ago. There are indeed trillions of dollars involved, to say nothing of the fame and glory (and frequent trips to exotic islands) that go with being a member of the club. Your own Physics Department (of which you are chairman) would lose millions a year if the global warming bubble burst. When Penn State absolved Mike Mann of wrongdoing, and the University of East Anglia did the same for Phil Jones, they cannot have been unaware of the financial penalty for doing otherwise.
My emphasis.  Lewis is no crank, and indeed is one of the Elder Statesmen of Physics, having been a member of the American Physical Society for 67 years.  He says "follow the money".

The billions of taxpayer dollars being spent on scientific research do not seem to be accelerating the advance of scientific discovery.  Well, not obviously, in any case.  However, they do appear to be stunningly successful in creating and nourishing a scientific bureaucracy (as Lewis points out).  Bureaucracies have particular well understood characteristics, most interesting of which is Pournelle's Iron Law:
Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people: those who work to further the actual goals of the organization, and those who work for the organization itself. Examples in education would be teachers who work and sacrifice to teach children, vs. union representative who work to protect any teacher including the most incompetent. The Iron Law states that in all cases, the second type of person will always gain control of the organization, and will always write the rules under which the organization functions.
Think of the Iron Law, and a representative of each class of people.  Wilhelm Röntgen discovered X-Rays (see the chart above), one of the great scientific advances of the 1890s.  Curtis G. Callan, Jr. of Princeton University is President of the American Physical Society.  Who does the Iron Law predict will gain control of the funding?

I can't believe that scientists today are less brilliant than Röntgen.  With so many more of them working today, something must explain the lack of expected progress.  The Iron Law does just that.  Consider all the potential topics that a brilliant young physicist might choose from.  Some of these might threaten Dr. Callan's position and funding.  The Iron Law predicts that the bureaucracy will respond to stifle this threatening research. 

So do we see this in action?  We do indeed:
Regardless of this complete demonstration of unanimity of outlook and commitment by ACS executives and leadership to AGW doctrine and disregard for the scientific method, many of us felt we could effect change within the organization. One member, Peter Bonk, took it upon himself to articulate the disparity between the ACS official Policy Statement regarding AGW and scientific reality titled:

Regarding the American Chemical Society Public Policy Statement On Climate Change:
An Open Letter to Board of Directors of the American Chemical Society
After Peter got 150 members to sign the petition, a commitment from Rudy Baum that the letter would be published in C&E News, and met with you, Rudy and others in Washington DC to discuss this matter, you all went back on your word and refused to publish the letter. The validity of 25 signatures was questioned as a cover for this reversal. No documentation was ever provided to support this claim despite repeated attempts to obtain such by Mr. Bonk.
This is from Steven J. Welcenbach's equally spectacular resignation letter to the president of the American Chemical Society.  Unlike Lewis, Welcenbach wasn't an Elder Statesman; rather, his complaint was the suppression of views dangerous to the scientific establishment.  It's not the first time we've heard this complaint, either - Dr. Phil Jones' notorious ClimateGate email indicts the whole IPCC process:
I can't see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow — even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!
As a scientist, you can work towards the advancement of human knowledge, or you can work for the advancement of your department - grant funding.  You'd think that ideally we'd like a 100% overlap of those two groups.  In fact, that's exactly what we do have.

And that's what's holding back scientific progress.  The two groups align based on the exercise of raw power by the establishment: acceptance of papers by peer review panels, the issuance of grant funding, the granting of tenure.  Stray too far from the mainstream - and make yourself too much of a threat to the current Eminences Grise - and you'll find yourself cut out of all three.

The bureaucracy protects itself.  That's why you see it considered to be "normal" that data, code, and methods are not required to be published.  That's why you see that dissenting views are not just denounced, but disappeared.  And that's why you see the pace of scientific progress spinning down.

A year ago I posted an anonymous comment left at this post:
Someone left an anonymous comment to my post about Global Warming and the canals of Mars. I'm reproducing it here in full:
I am a scientist, in the alternative energy field. Every conference I go to, people are afraid to speak about AGW - except in their papers and presentations, which invariably use AGW as justification for their research.

Nobody believes in it, everybody knows it's a lie, but that's where all the money is coming from. If a scientist publishes a paper that doesn't affirm AGW, not only is that paper less likely to get published but any other future papers are in question as well. And he can forget about grants, forever.

Who controls the textbooks owns the next generation, and who controls the science funding gets to dictate what "science" says.
I don't find this at all surprising. While you usually have to take anonymous comments with a grain of salt, if the commenter actually is a scientist, he (or she) certainly would have strong motivation to remain anonymous.
Lewis' complaint with the APS bureaucracy was precisely the same as Welcenbach's complaint with the ACS bureaucracy.  Not similar; exactly the same.  Both were the reactions of scientists sickened with the results of the Iron Law.  I'll end with Lewis, because he sums up the feelings of many of us:
It is of course, the global warming scam, with the (literally) trillions of dollars driving it, that has corrupted so many scientists, and has carried APS before it like a rogue wave. It is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist. Anyone who has the faintest doubt that this is so should force himself to read the ClimateGate documents, which lay it bare. (Montford’s book organizes the facts very well.) I don’t believe that any real physicist, nay scientist, can read that stuff without revulsion. I would almost make that revulsion a definition of the word scientist.
The ancient Romans had a saying: Pecunia non olet.  Money doesn't stink.  The problem is that when the terrible need for grant money shuts off new scientific advances, we - and our children and grandchildren - suffer.  That stinks.

Life's urge to live

Is basic, and sometimes terrible to behold. Dolly Parton's Little Sparrow captures some of this as well.
Wise are they who have learned these truths:
Trouble is temporary. Time is tonic. Tribulation is a test tube.
- William Arthur Ward
Easy words to say; harder to say at three o'clock in the morning.

Anybody in Albuquerque want to go shooting?

I'm back out visiting Mom and Dad in Albuquerque, and while it's pretty busy, I can probably sneak away for a couple hours to play hookey.  I'm not at all sure if I have any readers out here, but if you want to go shooting some time this week, send me an email.

borepatch at gmail dot com

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Linky, not thinky

Traveling back to Mom and Dad's place, so let me point out some posts that are well worth your while.  They're all from Al Fin, who's simply on fire lately.

The prepper life in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge.  "Prepper" doesn't really sum it up.  Homesteading.

A Jeopardy computer?  Meh.

Make your own survival puffed rice cakes, out of junk you already have around the house.

"Green" wind power doesn't - and can't - work.  At least not to generate significant amounts of power.

The rifles of the Khyber Pass

Bob emails to point out a fascinating article in the New York Times about the strange and wondrous rifles being captured by our troops in Afghanistan.  Lee Enfields with strange markings, leading to some interesting sleuthing:
We made photographs of the rifles’ markings and pushed them through the satellite connection to the e-mail address of a curator of the Royal Armouries Museum in the United Kingdom – perhaps the most readily accessible bank of knowledge on infantry rifles in the world. (Lee-Enfields were for several decades the standard infantry arms of British units and their colonial partners. They have been manufactured in several countries and have had a wide distribution, and due to their diverse markings an expert eye is at times required to trace one to its likely point of origin.) In this case, the curator at the arms museum, Jonathan Ferguson, swiftly solved the puzzle. There would be no tracing these rifles to conventional factories, because no conventional factories were involved. Task Force Iron had captured Pakistani knock-offs of the British empire’s former standard arm.
Both rifles would appear to be locally made copies, commonly known as “Khyber Pass” guns. The fit, finish, and form of individual parts are all “off,” but the dead giveaways on each are the markings. The first rifle bears a supposed manufacture date of 1881. The SMLE was not approved until 1902, the Mk.III* that this is purporting to be not until 1916! If this were a conversion of the old long Lee-Enfield or the original Lee-Metford this would be evident in the markings, and the mark number would be IV rather than III. This is all academic however, since even the original Lee-Metford was only approved in 1888 – seven years after this rifle was supposedly made!

The second rifle has a spurious Birmingham Small Arms Company mark (wrong size, uneven lettering) below a weird and wonderful logo of some kind – certainly not the BSA logo (two crossed rifles).

The gunsmiths of Pakistan are a famous phenomenon, and have been widely documented over the past decades. In a network of small shops and factories along Pakistan’s western frontier, local tradesmen have for generations produced handmade copies of well-established infantry arms, and helped keep Pashtun tribesmen supplied. Their weapons are available, along with original items (often pilfered from government units), in local bazaars. These weapons appear to be the product of this trade, although it is hard to tell by visual inspection when exactly they were made. They could have been produced a few years ago, or many decades back.
Which leads us (via Isegoria) to why the famous marksmanship of the Afghanistan tribes seems to be no more:

Back before the Russians showed up, in the 1980s, the best an Afghan could hope to have was a World War II, or World War I, era bolt action rifle. These weapons were eclipsed in the 1980s by full automatic AK-47s and the RPG rocket launcher. The young guys took to the AK, and the thrill of emptying a 30 round magazine on full automatic. Not bad for a brief firefight, and suddenly hardly anyone, except a few old timers, wanted to use the old bolt action rifle.

What was not noticed much outside of Afghanistan, was that this shift in weaponry brought to an end a long Afghan tradition of precision, long range shooting. Before the 1980s, this skill was treasured for both hunting and warfare. When doing neither, Afghan men played games centered on marksmanship. One, for example, involved a group of men chipping in and buying a goat. The animal was then tethered to a rock, often on a hill, and then the half dozen or so men moved several hundred meters away and drew lots to see who would fire in what order. The first man to drop the goat, won it. Since Afghanistan was the poorest nation in Asia, ammo was expensive, and older men taught the young boys all the proper moves needed to get that first shot off accurately.

During the 1980s, Saudi Arabia spent billions of dollars to arm Afghans with all the AK-47s and ammo they could use, and they used lots of it. But rarely for target practice.
Good thing, too.  And Bob once more points out that you'll soon be able to buy brand spanking new #4 Lee Enfields.  Want.

UPDATE 20 February 2011 13:54: Sean D. Sorrentino connects the dots:
You mean guns aren’t that hard to build? Any guy with enough time and talent could build a gun? And CNC machines, which are available in most machine shops, would make it even easier?  Then why are the gun grabbers so hell bent on making guns so hard to get? It’s almost as if they want to divide the world into the law abiding victims and the criminal predators.

Bill Monroe - Blue Moon of Kentucky

If you like Bluegrass, you have Bill Monroe to thank.  The name even comes from his band, the Blue Grass Boys, who hailed from the Blue Grass State.

Monroe was a synthesist - he had many influences that formed the nucleus of what would become Bluegrass, from old style Country and Western to Blues.  Years of experimentation led to some early recognition, including record deals and a steady spot at the Grand Ole Opry, but what made the whole style gel was when a young banjo player from North Carolina named Earl Scruggs brought his three finger picking style to the high tempo, high octane fuel that was the Blue Grass Boys.

1946 and 1947 were the breakout years, when Bluegrass blossomed under Monroe's direction.  He recorded perhaps two dozen of what would become Bluegrass classics, including this song.  Strangely, it was originally a slow waltz, but when Elvis recorded a rockabilly version in the 1950s, Monroe reworked it into the form we have here.

In 1966, Kentucky made him an honorary Colonel.  He's one of only five people who are in the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Nashville Songwriters' Hall of Fame, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Blue Moon of Kentucky (Songwriter: Bill Monroe)
Blue Moon, blue moon
blue moon keep shining bright
Blue moon keep on shining bright
You gonna bring me back my baby tonight
Blue Moon keep shining bright

I said blue moon of Kentucky keep on shining
shine on the one that's gone and left me blue
I said blue moon of Kentucky keep on shining
Shine on the one that's gone and left me blue

Well it was on one moonlight night
Stars shining bright
Whisper on high
Love said goodbye
Blue moon of Kentucky keep on shining
Shine on the one that's gone and left me blue
(Image source)

Old posts recycled: "Common Sense" Gun Control = Heffalumps

Traveling today, so Here's some recycled Borepatch from way, way Back In The Day (I'd only been blogging maybe a couple weeks).  In other words, only me and Mom have read this.  It deserves a broader audience, although it's a really rough post, before I'd developed by veteran blogger savoir faire ...


This started out as Quote of the Day, from Bruce (with my original comment):
From the Progressive Dictionary:
Common-sense (adj.): a term used to describe laws that allow rich, white people to enjoy the exercise of their Constitutional rights, while systematically denying the same to low-income people of color.
They think that they can talk people out of it.

Socialism a failure? Gun control a failure? Schools failing? Do it again, harder. We'll talk the rubes out of it. After all, we're nicer and smarter, right? What could possibly go wrong?

That was the original post. I thought it would be quick and fun, just toss a few corroborating links and get your snark on. After going way overboard on links, I found the fun evaporated. As I read the links, I could feel my mellow (did I mention that I'm on vacation? thanks for asking!) being harshed. It became a link rant.

Of course the "progressives" are going to keep trying the same thing a different way. We have a clash of world views here. Heller is part of it, but so is Iraq, the relationship of the citizen to the government, the whole thing. When you disagree on basic premises, it's really hard to find common ground. You're messing with their faith.

So Heller's only a start. Heller isn't the beginning of the end for gun control, at best it's the end of the beginning.

Bah. My mellow was so harshed, that I had to turn to the Relevant Literature for help in dealing with liberal "Common Sense" arguments. Ta da! Instantly, all became clear, my mood lightened, a spring returned to my step, and a gleam to my eye. The problem is that we try to argue with facts (I'm looking AT YOU, Kevin). They argue with Heffalumps.
One day, when Christopher Robin and Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet were all talking together, Christopher Robin finished the mouthful he was eating and said carelessly:

"I saw a Heffalump today, Piglet."

"What was it doing?" asked Piglet.

"Just lumping along," said Christopher Robin.

"I don't think it saw me."

"I saw one once," said Piglet. "At least, I think I did," he said. "Only perhaps it wasn't."

"So did I," said Pooh, wondering what a Heffalump was like.

"You don't often see them," said Christopher Robin carelessly.

"Not now," said Piglet.

"Not at this time of year," said Pooh.

Then they all talked about something else, until it was time for Pooh and Piglet to go home together.
Think I'm joking? The Heller dissents can only be classified as Heffalumps. Do Heffalumps self-refute?

So there, Bruce. You come at them with facts, and they'll see your facts and raise you a Heffalump.

What would I do without my kids?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Clear Talk

"I think that people are ready to hear the truth."

Once again, I seem not to be a felon

Although now I'm asking for it:

Three different calibers!  And I don't even show the .22 LR - must have a couple or three hundred rounds of that.  ZOMG it's an arsenal ...

What I don't understand is why people in Massachusetts look down on people in Georgia as being not very smart.  Behold your Philosopher Kings' works, ye mighty, and despair!

Funny, how even without a license from the State, and with guns and ammo here in my residence, I still didn't shoot up a school. yesterday  You'd think that the "Common Sense" Gun Control folks just don't want you to have a gun or something.

The perfect ambassador for the shooting sports

Yesterday at the range #2 Son was talking about how some of the magazines he'd had to load were awfully stiff and hard to load.  A personable young lady standing nearby offered to show him some magazine loading tricks of the trade.

A young lady wearing Smith And Wesson gear.  This young lady:
At age 15, I became completely hooked on shooting and knew that it would always be a part of my life from there on.  My Dad introduced me to the basics of handguns in the fall of 2008 at a local indoor range and then took me to Rogers Shooting School and Universal Shooting Academy for some serious training, so that my fundamental skills would be very strong.    As soon as I was comfortable with the safe and proper handling of these firearms, I started to learn how to compete with a pistol on the move.  Having fallen in love with both the practical as well as the sporting aspects of competition, I now enjoy shooting 3-GUN, IDPA, USPSA and Steel Challenge matches.
Her accomplishments?  At the age of 17, she's tearing up the ranges:
2011 GA State Steel Championship - High Junior - Limited Division

2010 GA State IDPA Championship - High Lady

2010 GA State IDPA Championship - High Junior

2010 USA IPSC Nationals High Lady - Production Division

2010 USA IPSC Nationals High Junior - Production Division
Miss Hendrix graduated from Roswell High School last year, so unfortunately it will be a while before you will see her on Top Shot (you have to be 21 to compete there).  But she's everything that the shooting community could possibly want in an Ambassador: attractive, personable, outgoing, competent.  Already sharing her skills with others.

Smith and Wesson has a marketing department that's on the ball.  She is the face of the next generation of shooters.  And this begs the question whether Our Boys are protecting Miss Hendrix, or whether she's protecting them.  It's a win either way.

I shall watch her shooting career with great interest.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Deep thinking at the HuffPo

No, I'm not joking.  The question of what it is to live, and love, and to fully be human is the great question of our time, just as it has been so down through the ages.  At HuffPo, Tracy McMillan (one of the writers of Mad Men) looks at this question through the lens of you're a thirty-something woman who's not married.  I cannot recommend her post more highly.

There's a lot there for the men, too:
When it comes to choosing a husband, only one thing really, truly matters: character. So it stands to reason that a man's character should be at the top of the list of things you are looking for, right? But if you're not married, I already know it isn't. Because if you were looking for a man of character, you would have found one by now. Men of character are, by definition, willing to commit.
It's said - truthfully, in my mind - that the definition of "manly" is written by young women, in each generation.  However, the wisest of these recognize that part of this definition is that a man controls himself, by committing to his woman.  And recognizes that the commitment is no sacrifice.  Guys who whine about their commitment are viewed by other men - real men - as unmanly.

But most of this is for the ladies.  I expect that most of my readers are men, but for any young ladies in the audience, you need to RTWT.  Especially this:
No, you want someone better than you are: better looking, better family, better job.

Here is what you need to know: You are enough right this minute. Period. Not understanding this is a major obstacle to getting married, since women who don't know their own worth make terrible wives. Why? You can fake it for a while, but ultimately you won't love your spouse any better than you love yourself. Smart men know this.
We sure do.  And her conclusion deserves to be engraved in marble, in letters of gold:
The good news is that I believe every woman who wants to can find a great partner. You're just going to need to get rid of the idea that marriage will make you happy. It won't. Once the initial high wears off, you'll just be you, except with twice as much laundry.

Because ultimately, marriage is not about getting something -- it's about giving it. Strangely, men understand this more than we do. Probably because for them marriage involves sacrificing their most treasured possession -- a free-agent penis -- and for us, it's the culmination of a princess fantasy so universal, it built Disneyland.

The bottom line is that marriage is just a long-term opportunity to practice loving someone even when they don't deserve it.
It's a different, and more modern way of saying this:
Love is patient; love is kind
and envies no one.
Love is never boastful, nor conceited, nor rude;
never selfish, not quick to take offense.
There is nothing love cannot face;
there is no limit to its faith,
its hope, and endurance.
In a word, there are three things
that last forever: faith, hope, and love;
but the greatest of them all is love.
- 1 Corinthians 13:4
I cannot recommend this post more highly.  The author has drunk deeply from the Cup of Life, and shares this wisdom with us.  The Free Internet Ice Cream is nourishing indeed, for the soul.