Saturday, December 29, 2012


Whose Fantasy Regarding Assault Rifles?

I went to the gun show today and it was as crowded as I can ever remember. I got there at the opening and it took a whole hour waiting in line even to get in. Inside, people were buying every AR-15 there was for sale. As we creeped towards the entrance while in the line 400 yards long, there was a constant stream of people exiting the building carrying bricks and bricks of ammunition back to their cars. It was not a situation conducive to good thoughts about the future of this country.

I bought a 19th Century Austrian weapon, a Steyr-Mannlicher M1895. It is a straight pull bolt action with a 5 round en bloc clip of 8 x 56mmR that you push into the top of the fixed magazine below the bolt (like the 8 round clip into an M-1 Garand) and when the last bullet is chambered, the clip falls out the bottom (like with the Paraviccini-Carcano (aka Mannlicher-Carcano) M-91 (a variant of which, the M-91/38, was used by Communist Lee Harvey Oswald to kill President Kennedy). I haven't shot it yet. It is a shortened WWI rifle and apparently has quite a kick. I may never fire it, although I have quite a few clips of the hard to find ammunition; mine was made in 1939. It's steel and wood and doesn't look very mean but was the latest in weapon technology in 1895.

Then I got back from the real world and read the NYT unsigned editorial The Deadly Fantasy of Assault Weapons. I have to admit I don't know what an assault weapon is. I know what an assault rifle is--they all derive from the German WWII original, the STG 44, and include such famous military rifles as the AK 47, AK 74, M-16 and our current M-4. These are all full auto rifles (with one exception) that shoot an intermediate round. I've written about them here and here. The civilian versions in common use are not up to current military snuff, because the civilian versions are one trigger pull-one shot (semi-automatic).

But let's get to the NYT editorial. It starts:

Adam Lanza shot 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., using a semiautomatic, military-style assault rifle made by Bushmaster. William Spengler Jr. used the same type of Bushmaster rifle to kill two firefighters last week in Webster, N.Y. The Washington snipers, John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo, also used a Bushmaster in a spree that killed 10 people in 2002. 
True, but what happened in the 5 years prior to 2012 with mass shootings here in America? Did any others involve a Bushmaster (or any manufacture of) AR-15? None, according to Mother Jones on the subject*, although the crazy guy in Aurora, CO in July used an S & W, M & P 15, which looks like an AR-15 to me. Here are a few of the recent mass shootings in which no rifle at all was used.

Virginia Tech (4/16/07), Glock 19, Walther P22, 33 killed, 23 wounded.

The Ft. Hood shooting (11/5/9), FN Five-SeveN, 13 killed, 30 wounded.

The Rep. Gifford shooting, Tucson, AZ (1/8/11), 9mm Glock, 6 killed, 13 wounded.

Seal Beach, CA (10/14/11), 9mm Springfield, .45 H & K, .44 Mag S & W, 8 killed, 1 wounded.

Oikos U., Bay Area, CA (4/2/12), .45, 7 dead, 3 wounded.

Accent Signage, Minneapolis, MN (9/27/12), 9mm Glock, 7 dead, 1 wounded.

So what exactly is the point of citing 3 tragedies involving Bushmaster AR-15s when for each of those there are several with only handguns used? It is not apparent that Bushmaster AR-15s are necessary for mass murder, nor are they often used for that horrible purpose. Back to the NYT:

Bushmasters are by no means the only assault weapons of choice among mass killers (the Aurora shooter used a Smith & Wesson) [as I pointed out above], but the brand’s repeated presence in murderous incidents reflects Bushmaster’s enormous popularity in the gun world, the result of a successful marketing campaign aimed at putting military firepower and machismo in the hands of civilians. Gun owners once talked about the need for personal protection and sport hunting, but out-of-control ad campaigns like Bushmaster’s have replaced revolvers and shotguns with highly lethal paramilitary fantasies.
Those who understand the real purpose of the Second Amendment never talked only about hunting and self- defense. We talked about having a citizen army armed against invasion or insurrection or, if the worst happened, prepared for armed insurrection against a tyrannical government. See here. Strawman argument called out. Back to the Times:

The guns, some of which come in camouflage and desert khaki, bristle with features useful only to an infantry soldier or a special-forces operative. A flash suppressor on the end of a barrel makes it possible to shoot at night without a blinding flare. Quick-change magazines let troops reload easily. Barrel shrouds allow precise control without fear of burns from a muzzle that grows hot after multiple rounds are fired. But now anyone can own these guns, and millions are in civilian hands.
OK, most of this is just silly. Color or "bristling" features are merely cosmetic. A flash hider or a barrel shroud do nothing to make the rifle to which they are attached more deadly. And all box magazines can get new cartridges into the gun faster than stripper clips or en box clips you insert into a fixed magazine. But the box magazines didn't start in Bushmaster AR-15s or in rifles at all. They're a technological improvement over 100 years old. And the box magazine is NOT exclusive to assault rifles but are also in hunting rifles and most handguns. And what do they mean " anyone can own these guns" (emphasis added)? Now that they even exist (since the 40s) or now that the useless assault rifle ban ended 8 years ago? Here's more:

“There is an allure to this weapon that makes it unusually attractive,” Scott Knight, former chairman of the International Chiefs of Police Firearms Committee, told USA Today, speaking of the Bushmaster rifles. “The way it looks, the way it handles — it screams assault weapon.” 

The way it looks? The Ruger Mini-14 is not an assault rifle, or even the civilian version of one, nor has it ever been banned because it is not mean looking; but it shoots the same .223 intermediate round at the same rate, from the same size box magazines as the mean looking AR-15. To ban the AR-15 and not the Mini-14 is to make meaningless cosmetics the sole criteria for banning a rifle. This form over function is really stupid. The editorial goes on:

The company’s catalog and ads show soldiers moving on patrol through jungles, Bushmasters at the ready. “When you need to perform under pressure, Bushmaster delivers,” says the advertising copy, superimposed over the silhouette of a soldier holding his helmet against the backdrop of an American flag. “Forces of opposition, bow down. You are single-handedly outnumbered,” said a 2010 catalog, peddling an assault rifle billed as “the ultimate military combat weapons system.” (Available to anyone for $2,500.) 

In case that message was too subtle, the company appealed directly to the male egos of its most likely customers. “Consider your man card reissued,” said one Bushmaster campaign (pulled off the Web after the Newtown shooting), next to a photo of a carbine. “If it’s good enough for the professional, it’s good enough for you.”
These paragraphs are embarrassingly smug. Of course only advertising could make us weak minded, lower class males want a mean looking weapon by appealing to our extended childhood, like we are continuing to play soldiers. The finale:

The effect of these marketing campaigns on fragile minds is all too obvious, allowing deadly power in the wrong hands. But given their financial success, gun makers have apparently decided that the risk of an occasional massacre is part of the cost of doing business.

Oh, only the fragile minds want the AR-15 (all 4 plus million of them)? And fragile minds are not at all attracted to shotgun or handguns including revolvers, despite the number of mass shootings, using only handguns (some listed above) in the hands of people with fragile minds?

This paragraph is stunningly embarrassing.

There is nothing special about AR-15s. There are far, far more deadly rifles out there. However, very few rifles of any type are involved in crimes of any type. Seeking to ban only the mean looking sub-set of the category of firearm least used in criminal shootings is beyond useless and stupid. It's bureaucratic.

The reasons 20th Century firearms should not be banned are many. One reason is freedom. We citizens get to chose the weapons we want to keep and bear, not the government. Another is parity. We can't let the government security forces get too far ahead of the citizen army's weapon technology otherwise the very reason for a properly functioning Militia is lost; and too technologically advanced a tyrannical government might never be overthrown. The flintlock rifles used by the Colonists to overthrow the British were then the very latest in weapon technology. Another reason is rationalism. It is irrational to try to legislate away tragedies the way that the left has already tried and failed, and wants to try again. Using merely how the weapon looks as the sole criterion for banning is just as irrational.

Meanwhile, the gun dealers sell out of mean looking rifles being snapped up by the people of the United States because they want to own them and fear they won't be allowed to own them in the near future.

* Mother Jones apparently has no real idea what even the left calls an assault weapon and called even the quintessential boy's first rifle, the Ruger 10/22, an assault weapon.



Gene Hart's Photos

Published at Space Weather, this great photo taken by Mr. Hart up in Maine shows a rare cloud formation. These clouds, sometimes called "billow clouds," are produced by the Kelvin-Helmholtz instability when horizontal layers of air brush by one another at different velocities. Below is a magnificent close up.


Friday, December 28, 2012


Well Equiped Enemy

Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel, hero of both world wars, on the Atlantic Wall later in WWII, standing over a soldier manning the greatest light machine gun ever made, the MG 42.



The Government Wants You to Reload More Often

Here is the story about the "We have to do something no matter how silly and ineffective" legislation my representative (Diana DeGette, D-1st, CO) and one trick pony gun grabber Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-4th, N.Y.) want to introduce in order to ban the sale of detachable box magazines holding more than 10 bullets.

Here's Ms. DeGette explaining her reasoning behind the bill.

"I'm not so naïve as to think that we can pass some law that will stop a deranged person from taking a gun and shooting people," DeGette told The Huffington Post two weeks ago. "What I am interested in is making it as difficult as possible for that deranged person to shoot as many people as possible."

Come now, you have to admit that you are pretty naïve, Ms. DeGette, to think that limiting magazines to 10 rounds will seriously inhibit insane killers from shooting a lot of people in a short amount of time.

Over in Europe, the gun designers early last century, generally, made you have to use two hands to remove the magazine from your pistol. I think the idea was to have the empty magazine in your hand when it was out of the gun. That way the shooter would be more likely to keep the empty magazine in his possession rather than just leave it on the ground where it fell. The P 08 Luger was one of several exceptions with a button release which would allow the magazine to drop out quickly by gravity and then, when a new, full one was slid in, it released the locked open bolt which closed, seating a new round, and you were ready to resume firing. It takes about 2 to 5 seconds to reload when the magazine falls out at the touch of a button. Almost all American guns (and nearly all the new European guns) have the one-hand, button release. (We seem to care more that shooters can keep firing rather than that they retain the empty magazine).

So let's say the insane murderous shooter has two guns with 15 round magazines under the current laws and he has in his pockets or a bag several extra 15 round magazines ready to go. He shoots with one gun until it's empty and the bolt is locked open by the empty magazine. He drops out the magazine and reloads; and he has another 15 rounds to shoot. If he empties the gun again, he has shot 30 rounds. Let's say a very brave individual uses the period the shooter's one gun is empty to charge the shooter. Is he going to get to him? The shooter could just drop the empty gun and pull the second, fully loaded one and shoot the guy charging him. Then he could retrieve the dropped, empty gun and reload it while having a loaded gun ready to go for the short time it took to reload. I believe that was the method the insane killer at Virginia Tech used.

Under the new system, the shooter will be able to do the exact same thing because the proposed law will not make illegal the hundreds of million of magazines of all sorts of capacities that are already in circulation, owned by the hundred million plus gun owners in America. But let's say he could not buy a new tall magazine at any price in a gun shop or gun show, he could not get one on the black market, nor could he steal one; so all he would then have would be two guns with 10 round magazines and extra ten round magazines in his bag or pockets. So he then has to reload twice to shoot 30 rounds, instead of just once, and it takes him 3 extra seconds to do it. Wow, that would be making it about as difficult as any human could make it. (sarcasm).

I've met Ms. DeGette. She and my wife went to Colorado College together decades ago. She's not this stupid. I can not explain how she thinks 10 round magazines will be even the slightest impediment to shooting a lot of rounds quickly. I guess she could be absolutely ignorant about how easy it is to reload quickly now. (Rep. McCarthy didn't know what a barrel shroud was even though the unsuccessful bill she introduced several years ago contained a section which banned them).

But this is all just for show. It won't do a thing to stop insane killers shooting a lot of bullets in a short amount of time. It won't save a single life. It's just stupid. The Democrats must like people to reload more often. I, for one, can't figure out why.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2012


A Lie Travels Half-way Around the World Before Truth Laces Up Its Boots

Here is the headline in yesterday's NYT:

Scientists Report Faster Warming in Antarctica

So one might believe from this headline that the story is thus-- scientists have measured the temperature in Antarctica and found a warming trend from those actual measurements. Even the early body of the story would cause one to believe that.

A paper released Sunday by the journal Nature Geoscience reports that the temperature at a research station in the middle of West Antarctica has warmed by 4.4 degrees Fahrenheit since 1958. That is roughly twice as much as scientists previously thought and three times the overall rate of global warming, making central West Antarctica one of the fastest-warming regions on earth.
You have to read on to find out what really happened.

The new research is an attempt to resolve a scientific controversy that erupted several years ago about exactly how fast West Antarctica is warming. With few automated weather stations and even fewer human observers in the region, scientists have had to use statistical techniques to infer long-term climate trends from sparse data. 

A nearby area called the Antarctic Peninsula, which juts north from West Antarctica and for which fairly good records are available, was already known to be warming rapidly. A 2009 paper found extensive warming in the main part of West Antarctica, but those results were challenged by a group that included climate change contrarians. 

To try to get to the bottom of the question, David H. Bromwich of Ohio State University pulled together a team that focused on a single temperature record. At a lonely outpost called Byrd Station, in central West Antarctica, people and automated equipment have been keeping track of temperature and other weather variables since the late 1950s. 

It is by far the longest weather record in that region, but it had intermittent gaps and other problems that had made many researchers wary of it. The Bromwich group decided to try to salvage the Byrd record. 

They retrieved one of the sensors and recalibrated it at the University of Wisconsin. They discovered a software error that had introduced mistakes into the record and then used computerized analyses of the atmosphere to fill the gaps.
Much of the warming discovered in the new paper happened in the 1980s, around the same time the planet was beginning to warm briskly.

Oh, so there were no new measurements. As an unknown blogger at Watt's Up With That eloquently wrote:
They can’t find any recent warming, so they took a broken sensor with “intermittent gaps and other problems”, “recalibrated” it, “used computerized analyses of the atmosphere to fill the gaps” and “discovered” warming that “happened in the 1980s”.
If that is valid science, I'm Lord Kelvin.

The fact is a very small part of Antarctica, the Antarctic Peninsula has warmed (relatively), that is, the temperatures went from on average -50 degrees C to an average -49 degrees C, over many decades. The overwhelming bulk of the southernmost continent is as cold or colder than "normal." The seas around the continent have undoubtedly been getting colder and are producing ever more sea ice than "normal." (This despite the fact that believers in man-caused global warming have repeatedly told us that the effect of our CO2 would be amplified at both poles). The sea ice around Antarctica has this past year been constantly above normal, sometimes well above it. It's difficult to square that fact with claims of warming, such as it is, anywhere on the continent itself.

The excuse the alarmist use for the Antarctic temperature record not rising is that the seas around the continent act as a heat sink for the amplified, CO2 caused heat in the troposphere. But if that is true, then the Antarctic sea ice should be decreasing with every warmer surrounding seas. That's not happening, thus, their panic to find warming, any warming, even doubtful reconstructed warming, in Antarctica.

" doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are -- if it doesn't agree with experiment [or real world data], it's wrong."
R.P. Feynman

UPDATE: Here is a temperature map of Antarctica with the "reconstructed" Byrd station data incorporated. We tend to believe what's easiest to believe. Is it easier to believe the "reconstruction" was mishandled or easier to believe that, for no apparent reason, one single area of Antarctica is much, much warmer than all the rest? I think you know the answer.



Year End Report on the Sun

The sun is currently active but geomagnetic conditions are quiet. There are 5 sunspots (all in one area) on the side of the sun we can see and the 10.7 cm radio flux density is 114. Despite my son's explanation, I still have no real idea what flux density is. We are approaching the peak of solar activity in the current cycle, number 24. At one time during the very long solar minimum after cycle 23, many scientists were predicting that the peak of cycle 24's activity would be above that of cycle 23, in other words, a medium strong cycle. They have had to back track from that prediction to where their prediction is now at roughly half the activity of cycle 23. And cycle 24 is under-performing even that revised prediction. To match the average peaks of the last 7 cycles, going back to the late 30s, early 40s, there should be 10 to 12 sunspots each day, and the radio flux density should be around 220 (it never gets above 270). It is a much less active sun than the past 80 year "normal." Indeed, this cycle has been the weakest since the weak cycle 14 between 1900 and 1910, and the third weakest since they've began numbering the cycles in the 1750s.

The relative quiet cycle of sunspots is matched by the ISES Solar cycle Ap progression (I have no idea what that is) which hasn't gone above 15 since around October 2005. Before that it was generally at 15, usually peaking in the 20s and sometimes peaking as high as 35. It's as if a "switch" inside the sun was shut off and the sun powered down to a new, much lower "normal."

Worst of all (for those who fear an end of the current interglacial), the Umbral Magnetic field continues to decline from 2600 Gauss in 1998 to about 2100 now. Scientists say that all sunspot activity ends at 1400 Gauss which we'll reach, if the downward progression stays as steady as it has, around 2025. Historically, years of sunspot absence are followed here on Earth by very cold weather, sometimes lasting centuries. That ain't so good.

There are much greater threats, all natural, to our current benign climate than a one ten thousandth increase of a trace gas in our very stable atmosphere.


Some sun watchers are suggesting that, rather than 2013 being the peak of the cycle, as the much reduced prediction at NOAA suggests (red line on the graph), the peak already took place. Maybe, but the last cycle had a double peak. It could happen again. Still, the cycle is less than half of the last one, so far.


Monday, December 24, 2012


Having the Requested Gun Control Conversation

So much for the new civility the left made such a big deal about when a complete nut case shot Rep. Gifford and others nearly two years ago. The horror of the mass school shooting in Connecticut a little over a week ago caused a lot of people, mainly politicians and journalists, to demand that we have a new conversation about gun control. OK with me. But when anyone talks about gun control and does not toe the Democratic party line (ban mean looking guns and high capacity box magazines, for a start), the Democrats instantly resort to ad hominim attacks, calling the pro gun rights crowd supporters of murderers, crazy, liars, idiots, etc. Is that sort of name-calling conducive to a rational discussion of what we can and should do to keep our school children safe from crazy people with guns? Because it tends to make many people not want to offer their opinion. Maybe that's what the Democrats actually wanted: Let us talk about doing something completely counterproductive while emotions run high and you gun nuts just shut up.

Here is an example of the discourse in the press regarding the supposedly desired discussion. I pick it almost at random but I believe it is representative. It's sports writer Mike Lupica's contribution on the subject. The headline (which I realize Mr. Lupica may not have written) is:

'Crazy' Wayne LaPierre or NRA continues push for guns with lies

So it starts off calling the head of the National Rifle Association both crazy and a liar. Good neutral beginning there. I was interested in hearing what Mike Lupica thought were Mr. LaPierre's lies. Alas, I couldn't find any valid allegations of lying in the body of the opinion piece.

So now Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association, who attacks the mental health system in this country even as he sounds like he needs to be in it, goes on “Meet the Press” and continues to double down on his notion that the only way to keep our schools safe is to put armed guards at the front door and the side door and in every home room in America and maybe on every school bus, too.
See, crazy to put forth an idea for school safety different from what non-gun enthusiasts want. But Lupica resorts to a different fallacy, reductio ad absurdum, by mis-stating what was said. An armed guard or guards at a school was proposed, not at every door, nor in every classroom. And not at the front door either. Does Lupica not know about YouTube? We can listen to what Wayne LaPierre actually said. Second paragraph:
The other day there was a terrific Daily News front page calling LaPierre, the NRA’s executive director, the “craziest man on Earth,” and he was clearly referencing that Sunday morning, even as he continued to sound like just one more coward made brave and tough by a gun.
So, again he's crazy to say these things which might seem fairly common sense to us Neanderthal knuckle- draggers who haven't reached the height of enlightenment the left has. Then there is more name-calling. LaPierre is coward. Oh, that's helpful. Am I being too sensitive to think that Lupica thinks everyone who likes guns is a coward too? I don't think I am. Next:
“If it’s crazy to call for putting police in and securing our schools to protect our children, then call me crazy,” LaPierre said. “I think the American people think it’s crazy not to do it. It’s the one thing that would keep people safe.”
Of course, that is a lie from LaPierre, who also lies when he says any new gun control measures in this country are some anti-American attack on the Second Amendment, as if any parent or politician now calling for more gun control is going after the Second Amendment with the kind of assault weapon that Adam Lanza used to shoot up a principal and teachers and 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
I'm wondering how thinking an armed guard might be helpful against a crazy guy with guns is a known falsehood? Most people would believe that. We surround people whom we believe are important, like the President, with lots of guards with guns. We protect banks and bank personnel with armed guards, because we think money is worth guarding. Why not guard our innocent children in school who are incapable of fighting back against an armed crazy person? I don't think it's any crazier than having armed guards check for guns at almost every government building. What's so precious there? The statement that armed guards could help keep our children safe is not a lie. It is an opinion about future action. Mr. LaPierre does not think it is false. I'm going to need more evidence that it's wrong even to think that armed guards might help secure something precious, when we use armed guards to protect things all the time. Lupica doesn't even try to support his name-calling. And yes, banning guns is necessarily an assault on the Second Amendment. The government does not get to chose what weapons I keep and bear. I choose. Just so the government does not get to chose what I believe about God. I choose that too. So it's not a lie to mention the Second Amendment when the Democrats are talking about banning or confiscating mean looking weapons and tall magazines. Next:
But then LaPierre is the type who lies to stay in practice, as he continues to pass himself off as the front man for responsible gun owners when he actually is a front for their lunatic fringe. To say that the NRA represents mainstream thinking for gun owners is the same as saying that the Tea Party represents mainstream thinking in the Republican Party.
LaPierre also spoke Sunday about Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California who helped write the 1994 assault weapons ban for semiautomatic weapons that would expire 10 years later. Now Feinstein is talking about introducing a similar bill for weapons like Lanza’s AR-15, a gun LaPierre seems to think every law-abiding citizen needs, perhaps because of the catastrophic damage one of its bullets does once inside the human body, including the bodies of 6- and 7-year-old children.
The NRA has long been an advocate for responsible gun ownership. To Lupica, anyone who likes guns is on the lunatic fringe. So with nearly 100 Million American gun owners (and another million every month or so) that's quite a fringe. I think the Tea Party is the mainstream of the Republican party, but to lefty Lupica and his ilk, they are a dangerous, lunatic fringe.

Then the ignorance starts. The 1994 assault weapon ban did not ban semiautomatic guns, just prevented new sales of a very small subset of them, the mean looking ones. It did nothing to prevent school shootings, as Mr. LaPierre has pointed out. And as I have tried to point out repeatedly, the .223 Remington is a relatively wimpy round which does not cause catastrophic damage like the former US military rounds (.45 APC, 30.06 and .50 BMG) actually cause. Next:

LaPierre calls Feinstein’s proposed bill a “phony piece of legislation . . . built on lies.”

The phony is LaPierre, who chooses this moment in American history — one that should change the country and will change the country — to push his own agenda and his association’s agenda and expects people to believe that it is all about our children.

“The NRA is not going to let people lose the Second Amendment in this country,” LaPierre said Sunday, and at that point he does sound like an expert on what he calls the “cracked” mental health system, because that system is clearly doing nothing as he goes from his press conference Friday to national television sounding like a slobbering idiot.
Banning the new purchase of guns because they look mean is phony. It did not do any good when tried 1994 -2004, and it won't do any good if tried again. There are too many guns that look mean out there and no matter what the laws say, people can get banned objects if they want to (like alcohol during Prohibition, drugs now, guns in cities that banned their possession). Lupica again goes to name-calling ("slobbering idiot") rather than explain, as I'm trying to do with Lupica, logically, where Mr. La Pierre goes wrong. I guess it's easier for someone to resort to name calling when he has neither the knowledge nor the rhetorical skills to make a cogent argument.
Then it really gets nasty. For brevity, I'll paraphrase:  It is the teacher and the principal who tried to defend the children and were shot dead who are the heroes here, not any nasty, brutish, crazy, cowardly, fringe gun carrier.

Ok, but the unarmed, brave teacher and principal, as much as they deserve praise for their bravery and sacrifice, were totally ineffectual in preventing the death of even a single child. It was the arrival of the armed police that put an end to the slaughter.
And notice the phrasing:
Wayne LaPierre thinks a retired cop would have changed everything, as if a retired cop in front of Sandy Hook Elementary wouldn’t have been the first to go, Adam Lanza having a gun that sure does hit whom it aims at.
OK, don't put the armed guard at the front door (just as bank guards are not at the banks' front doors).
And "a gun that sure does hit whom it aims at." The gun doesn't aim itself. The crazy shooter of children aimed the gun. Lefty writers often use the passive when talking about items they don't like (SUVs, guns) and attribute to them action which only the person using them could have supplied. It's part, I think, of the magical thinking of the left, that the mere existence of guns has a deleterious effect on those near them (which seems the reason for not wanting armed guards at schools) and further, if only the guns were regulated, no small amount of criminal activity would cease. The results of gun banning has just the opposite effect. In normally very law abiding England and Wales, in a decade, gun related offenses nearly doubled and this was after a near complete ban on gun ownership was put in place. It is very difficult to own a gun in Chicago, for example, (and until the McDonald Supreme Court case, handgun ownership was banned) but the murder rate there of teenagers or younger, by handguns, is such that the sad toll at the Sandy Hook school was equaled every 7 weeks this year, and it was worse last year.

The real problem with Lupica's reasoning here, if I can call it reasoning is that he completely replaces logical relations with rampant emotion. Just as he praises the very brave behavior of the adults killed at Sandy Hook defending the children, even though their sacrifice did the children no good at all, he also praises the feel good legislation he wants, banning mean looking guns, as the right thing to do, even though it will do no good to prevent future gun violence. And he's so sure in his ignorance that he is right, anyone who thinks differently is a cowardly, lying, slobbering idiot.

And, as I said at the beginning, this faux argument is representative of the extreme fringe on the left who wish to ignore reason, the real world and the Constitution because they don't like guns.


Sunday, December 23, 2012


Do As I Say...

No, really, do as I say. Now.


Thursday, December 20, 2012


My Calendar at Work

My calendar for the rest of human history, apparently.


Saturday, December 15, 2012


Thought of the Day

Eva [17 years old, is] still a prissy missy, as hateful as my sisters, but with an intelligence to match her enmity. Apart from her precious [pony] Nefertiti, her hobbies are pouting and looking martyred.

David Mitchell, describing a teen we all recognize in his so far quite good Cloud Atlas


Saturday, December 08, 2012


Thoughts on Seeing Lincoln

Although I think Steven Spielberg has lost a step or two or four as a director over time, and Tony Kushner usually writes horrible, unwatchable tripe, like Angels in America and Munich, their recent work on the new Daniel Day-Lewis vehicle, Lincoln, is pretty good. This is not a movie review.

Slavery existed as a human institution for probably as long as there were humans. And then in the early to mid 19th Century, the nations of the world ended it. Boom. Extraordinary social change in one generation. We, in America, were among the last to do so and it took the greatest slaughter of Americans yet to do it. That ain't so good. I've often used slavery as an example with my children of how things can change for the better. My talking to my children about history and what is right and what are the values I hold is also something that humans have done for probably as long as there were humans.

And we know that, generally, we parents do pass on to our children at least some subset of our beliefs, our heritage, our moral picture of the world and to a lesser degree but still generally, our politics. Most of my family has been Republican since Republicans existed. My paternal grandfather, whom I never knew, was certainly one and his father, also a Republican, was born about the time the Republican Party came into existence; so I don't have to look further back than three generations to know what was the dominant party affiliation of my immediate ancestors.

I don't actually know what was the political affiliation of my great, great grandfather. Most Americans of German extraction were Unionists and most of the Unionists were Republican. On the other hand, although my great, great grandfather did not fight in the Civil War, his brothers did, and for the South. How I feel about that is a subject for another time.

Still, the young ones generally grow up to adopt the politics of their immediate family, but sometimes it takes a while. My children are not Republicans, but one's making the turn and the older girl has the smarts to if only she'd learn some history. My son is an independent, as he has been since birth. Unlike mine, however, there are whole families that are either Republican (the Bushes) or Democrat (the Kennedys) and we know from experience that it generally takes an effort not to be in the same party as your father and mother, and that most people go with the default; just as most adopt the religion of the parents if they adopt any religion at all.

The northern Democrats in Lincoln were accurately portrayed as the loathsome, pro-slavery racists they were, in the main. It goes without saying that the Southern Democrats, actively fighting an unwinnable war to maintain slavery, were obviously the same, or worse. It was the pro-abolition, generally non-racist and thus enlightened Republicans who voted to the man to adopt the 13th Amendment which ended slavery.The Republican efforts to make former slaves equal did not end there, of course.

So what does our common experience and this history (made Hollywood real in the film) mean to the current Democrat meme that they are the progressive, non-racist party and it is the neanderthal, stone racist Republicans who have switched positions over the past 150 years. I think it makes what was always impossible to swallow, for those who knew history, all the more difficult to believe.

OK, so almost all the Democrats were, at the end of the Civil War, the pro-slavery, racists. Over the next century after that, the Democrats generally, but particularly in the South, remained anti-civil rights. They authored the racist Jim Crow laws; they deployed their terrorist, armed wing, the Ku Klux Klan. They kept the blacks in a condition between slavery and full equal citizenship. They opposed all Republican efforts to ensure equality for the black Americans. Then, in 1968, according to Democratic lore, the Southern Democrats all hit their palms to their foreheads and said, "Damn, I'm in the wrong party. I need to switch to the Republicans" and, this is the important part, they did so because they wanted to retain their anti-black heritage, the racism of their fathers and mothers and their fathers and mothers. On the actual planet Earth, as opposed to the imaginary one the Democrats figuratively inhabit, there was no place in the Republican party for such feelings, no safe, welcoming home for racists, and no reason for Democrats, whose party did have the history of virulent racism, to think the Republicans would carve out a niche for such feelings. And the Republicans did not and have not.

This is so absurd a story, that I have been generally amazed that otherwise smart Democrats believe it. I have believed it's been one of the most successful Big Lies out there. But is is a lie. There was no wholesale switching of parties for racial reasons. The country as a whole became more enlightened in the mid 1960s, just as it had become more enlightened in the mid 1860s to end slavery. Just as the British became more enlightened in the half centruy before our Civil War and had ended much of the slave trade around the world. The change in the political affiliation of most American Southerners came only after all of the Southern Democrat political leaders to whom race "purity" still mattered, that is, the Segregationsts, all died--and they all died Democrats; they didn't switch parties. There was only one exception (Strom Thurmond).

It was things other than race which changed the South from generally Democrat to generally Republican, and it took a long time after 1964, like into the 1990s, to do it. So what does this switch of parties do to my observation that sons and daughters generally stay in the party of their fathers and mothers? It obviously tests it. But that is a subject for another time.

Go see Lincoln. Daniel Day-Lewis is extraordinary as usual lately and it's an important bit of history to know or to know more about.


Thursday, December 06, 2012


Egyptian Protests--The Empire Strikes Back

The new democratically elected dictator (and USC graduate) Morsi is preparing to fight protests, armed protest, in Tahrir Square with a lot more deadly weapons than the horrible, secular, deposed dictator Mubarak, who was prosecuted for putting down armed protests earlier this year.

Our brand is on the new Salafist crackdown because of our past support and from the fact that the tanks and armored personnel carriers (APC)  in use here are ours, no doubt given to the Egyptian government for not continuing a futile war against Israel. That's a policy, once Morsi puts a brutal end to the protests, which he'll popularly abandon. The tank is an M60 Patton and the APCs are M113s. Both were our frontline battle vehicles during the Viet Nam war.

It's kind of a through the looking glass repeat of Tiananmen Square in 1989 except that we're strongly for the government and not the protestors. Hmmmm.


Tuesday, December 04, 2012


Well Equipped Enemy

A Soviet partisan is captured by German soldiers in mid-Winter 1944. Because of glare or something, I can't see what weapon the soldier immediately behind the Soviet is carrying, but I can see the next soldier's rifle, an SVT-40, a Russian rifle which, as I've said often here, the Germans picked up and used whenever they could. You can still buy one today for about $800.


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