Sunday, July 23, 2017

The dishonest attack on "assault rifles"

I was just walking through my house on the way to get some laundry and stopped to admire my AR-15.  It is a very good looking rifle in the form follows function mold.  Everything has a purpose and they all blend together well.

I wondered, as I walked by, why this particular rifle engenders such hatred by the anti-gun crowd and it occurred to me that it doesn't.  It is just the latest popular firearm that they can attack so they have adopted a strategy that works.  If there were no AR-15 or other "assault weapons" (a phrase I hate by the way, since it is meaningless and inaccurate as applied by the media and the anti-gunners) then they would be attacking some other aspect of firearms ownership.


The Gun Control Act of 1968.  Wasn't an assault rifle to be found unless you count surplus M-1 Garands being sold by the Civilian Marksmanship Program.

1972 Creation of the BATF to regulate and control firearms sales.  Still no assault weapons to be found.

During the 80s there was the fake "cop killer bullet" controversy, the fake "plastic gun" controversy, the "Saturday Night Special" ban, none of which were real issues.  Cop killer bullets weren't, plastic guns weren't, and the definition of Saturday Night Special basically meant "guns that poor people can afford to buy for protection. 

1990 Crime Control Act bans the manufacture and importation of "assault weapons", a phrase that came into use sometime in the 80s.  Interesting side note, according to Wikipedia, the only weapons ever referred to by the military as assault weapons were a grenade launcher and a rocket launcher.

Moving on, in 1997 the Brady Law severely restricted the purchase of handguns, in 1999 a bill requiring that a trigger lock be provided with every new firearm passed the Senate, in 2005 California bans sale of .50 caliber rifles.  None of these had anything to do with assault weapons (notice that I've gotten tired of including quotation marks, so you can fill those in in your head as you read).  Each of the three examples I've provided restricted non assault weapon firearms, either making them harder to get or more expensive (oh, in case you were wondering, a 50 caliber rifle used to cost about $6000 and weighs almost 30 pounds, so not the kind of thing that criminals are generally using to hold up liquor stores and shoot each other).

So when someone brings up the topic of "sensible" gun laws and wonders aloud why anyone "needs" an "assault weapon", you can just ignore them.  They were restricting your ability to own a firearm before the phrase assault weapon was even invented to describe a semi-automatic rifle with a detachable magazine and other features that make it more comfortable or easier to shoot (you know, things like handgrips, adjustable length shoulder stocks, flash hiders, accessory rails), they haven't stopped trying to keep you from owning any other firearm simultaneously with their attack on assault weapons, and if assault weapons were to magically disappear tomorrow, their "sensible" legislation would still be pushed against every other gun you own.

Just thought you'd like to know.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Redefining normal

100% of the time when I call Verizon Wireless Support I get a message informing me that call volume is higher than normal.

Friday, June 30, 2017

51st State or an independent country

Puerto Rico voted 93% in favor of statehood.  At least the 25% of eligible voters who turned out did.  Wait, 93% of 25%, that's 23% of Puerto Rican voters who want to become a state.  OK.

The Governor announced that it was important that the United States respect the democratic wishes of the people of PR.  Wait, what?

I'm pretty sure that the people of the United States have no obligation whatsoever, none, to respect the democratic wishes of anyone outside the United States regarding our internal organization.  Hey buddy!  You are asking to join our union!  You are asking for a favor from us!  Your "democratic wishes" are not binding on us and irrelevant EXCEPT to the extent that we may wish to add a new state to the union.

More from the Governor: "3.5 million citizens seeking an absolute democracy".  How about if the Governor does a little basic research into the history and civics of the nation that he wishes to join and figures out that we aren't an absolute democracy but rather a representative republic.  If he doesn't even understand our system of government maybe he isn't the guy to lead them into statehood.

However, I have a better idea.  Given that Puerto Rico is a dump completely dependent on welfare payments from the United States, and given that making them a state would not only increase the amount of welfare that we would send due to eligibility for all sorts of federal programs, I say that we instead push for nationhood.  From the United Nations, a body that I generally despise:

The UN's Special Committee on Decolonization has often referred to Puerto Rico as a "nation" in its reports, because, internationally, the people of Puerto Rico are often considered to be a Caribbean nation with their own national identity. Most recently, in a June 2016 report, the Special Committee called for the United States to expedite the process to allow self-determination in Puerto Rico. More specifically, the group called on the United States to expedite a process that would allow the people of Puerto Rico to exercise fully their right to self-determination and independence. ... allow the Puerto Rican people to take decisions in a sovereign manner, and to address their urgent economic and social needs, including unemployment, marginalization, insolvency and poverty"

I vote yes.  The people of Puerto Rico should be able to fully exercise their right to self determination and to take decisions in a sovereign manner.  Absolutely.  Good for them.  This does not mean, however, that they have a right to become a state and it does not mean that we should have to pay for any of this.  They need to address the policies that they have adopted that have caused their unemployment, marginalization, insolvency, and poverty, namely socialism.  They have a public debt that is higher than their GDP.  The course they are on is unsustainable but it needs to become "not our problem".

Cut them loose, give them freedom, and let them do with it what they will.  There are plenty of Puerto Ricans in the United States, many of them good, hard working people.  They can, if they so choose, support their country by returning and working to establish a system that will benefit the people and the nation in the long run.  Or they can stay here and continue doing what they are doing. Either way, it should be up to the people of Puerto Rico to sink or swim as a nation.

Where have you been?

Last posted at the beginning of March.  Burned out.  If you've read my blog you know I wasn't much of a Trump fan, still am not, but President Clinton would have been an unmitigated disaster in my opinion.  It gets tiresome, however, that the media does nothing but attack the President and many conservatives that I still respect but am getting bored with do nothing but attack the President.  Meanwhile the conservative agenda stalls in Congress as the Senate makes no effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, no effort to stem the tide of illegal immigration, no effort to reform or limit the size or scope of government.  The President shoots himself in the foot periodically both publicly on Twitter, but also by not doing the things that need doing, like appointing conservative judges and bureaucrats to run the various departments.  I have notes on things I was planning on blogging about but every time I sat down at the computer, meh.

However, school is out; stupid Portfolio is submitted, for better or for worse; and summer is here.  Anti-Trump mania is still prevalent in the media but starting to die down a little in conservative circles (or maybe I just deleted the podcast feeds that never even consider the positives but only focus on the negatives; and maybe, just maybe, I can get some thoughts down without getting frustrated eight seconds in.  My own personal rodeo.

See you soon.  Maybe.

Sensible gun control


Czech Republic looking to make it easier for their citizens to defend themselves by liberalizing gun laws.

About time that someone other than the crazy Americans realized that taking guns away from law abiding citizens benefits no one but criminals.  Criminals and terrorists aren't buying their guns down at the local gun shop, but somehow they are getting them anyway.  Meanwhile the average person in Europe can't even think about owning a gun.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Library or library?

I go back and forth.  I love having a big library of my own.  I have five bookshelves of varying sizes and have gotten rid of a couple more when I went through a sorting jag.  They are all full and there are books stacked sideways on some of them.  I keep buying books and I periodically sort through and get rid of books.  Rationally I can't see owning a book that I am not going to read and re-read on a regular basis.  Even then, however, the library has most of these books, so what purpose does my library serve?

I guess I just like to be surrounded by books.

I have a friend who has never, according to his own recounting, sold a book.  Ever.  I have given away hundreds because I don't want boxes and stacks of books around.  When I do find a book to which I have a particular attachment or which I think I might read again, I do keep it around.  I sit here in my office with a tall stack of books behind me and it just feels right that I could reach back, grab one of them, and start reading it again. 

I still read most of my books from the public library, going through two or three a week much of the year.  And I don't have to store them or dust them.  That must count for something.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

I am a reader

I don't mean someone who reads.  I mean someone who voraciously devours books.  During our snow week a few weeks ago I made three trips to the library starting Tuesday when I figured out that we were in for the long haul.  The first day I read three books and returned them to the library on Wednesday.  To be fair, they were mystery and science fiction novels which are quick reads, but still...

Right about now, you are undoubtedly thinking to yourself, also long winded and a braggart, but I'm not telling you this to brag about my reading skills (although they are pretty impressive :-) but to talk about a flaw in Goodreads.

One of the problems with reading a lot is that it is easy to forget what you have read.  I have read every book by Dick Francis, every book by Robert B. Parker, every Louis L'Amour novel and short story, well the list goes on and on.  Not a big deal when they are dead.  I read all their books, generally in order, and I'm done.  I may even go back and re-read a few because I'm not picky that way so long as I can be entertained for a couple hours.  I've read Lord of the Rings at least forty times.  (That is a special case because it used to be the only book I'd take on long car trips with the family so when I finished at the end I just started again at the beginning.)  I collect books but not all of them because a) it would be expensive and b) I don't have room in my house for all the books I've read.  I'm not a big fan of e-books although I have a Nook and I have the Kindle app on my tablet.  Mostly I like e-books when traveling or doing errands (never go anywhere without a book because you never know when you might have to sit and wait).  Otherwise I will read them if that is the only option or if I can get it now on ebook but would have to wait days for the library to order me the paper copy.  It is harder to catalog the books you own (for me) and harder to browse through looking for something to read (for me) when they are just lists of titles instead of spines on a bookshelf.

Years ago I tried to start a diary of what I read.  I was probably fifteen or so.  A daunting task even then but made more daunting by the fact that I could either organize chronologically (useless from a reference standpoint) or organize alphabetically (useless unless I was willing to invest in a card filing system) and so either way I gave up fairly quickly.  Same problem a few years later with the same results, an even more daunting task since I had, by then, read more books.

So who cares, other than compulsive list makers (yes that's me).  Well, I forget which books I've read.  Author I like, find a book I haven't read, get all excited, ten pages in "this seems awfully familiar".  Sometimes I'll find a new author.  Grab the book.  Ten pages in "...".  Or, even worse, I'll read a book, really enjoy it, then I'll completely forget about the author because they haven't written a book in a couple years and I don't, therefore, get their new books when they come out.  I may never remember that I read the one book and enjoyed it so I miss out on further reading.  (Believe me, that's not a good thing when  you read this much.  You run out of stuff to read.)  Or I just forget where I am in a series and end up either missing a book or ... yeah, the whole ten pages thing.

Enter Goodreads.  Open a free account, find a book, click the "I've Read It" button, and voila.  A list of books you've read.  Have I read this one?  Don't know, check my list.  Any new books by authors I've read?  Don't know, check my list.

Enter problem.  I've read so many books that every once in a while I try to add more to my "Books I've Read" list.  All the Dick Francis books, for example.  All 96 of them.  One at a time.  Right click, select Shelf, wait.  Next.  Booriing.

Wish there was a way to say "Hey I've read every book by this author".  Bam!  We have a winner!  It's that easy!  There doesn't seem to be and if there is I can't find it in the help files and all the discussion forums seem to be about books (oddly enough for a website devoted to reading).  I wish they'd had this when I was twelve.  They'd need a bigger server.

Oh well.  To quote from the classics "It doesn't matter.  I'll probably get hit by a car anyway."