Thursday, December 27, 2012

Past Performance Is Not A Guarantee Of Future Behavior ...

.., but it is the safe way to bet when politics are involved.

I think David Gregory, the not-quite-yet-late commentator for the NBC News organization, might want to give serious - and fairly immediate - thought to catching a flight back to 'ol Blighty in the very near future.  There's still plenty of room under the Obama bus, and him going to jail for embarrassing Obama and the Democrats violating DC gun laws on national TV could be usefully spun by his erstwhile colleagues into less politically damaging support for additional gun restrictions legislatively.

Food for thought.

Update (12/30/12):  And, of course, strategy works both ways.  :)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Aging Strategy

Maria Konovalenko (whom I took mildly to task on a different issue here and this same issue here) has a recent post up on her blog about the relationship of human aging to disease and the research funding process effects on healthy lifespan extension and traditional disease treatment therapy research processes.

She writes:
Aging is not considered to be a disease at the moment. There is no such indication as aging, therefore one can’t register a geroprotector drug, the one that slows down aging. This is one of the major hurdles in aging research. Even though there are some substances that are proven to slow down aging and protect from diseases, researchers can’t make drugs from these substances. This has to be changed if we want to live longer and healthier.
A perfectly valid observation, marred by her curative prescription:
I think it’s horrible that the NIA people are propagating this idea that aging is not a disease. They are rejecting the opportunity with their own hands. If they fought for persuading the healthcare officials to accept aging as a disease, a lot of problems would be gone instantly.

Let's be blunt here; the people staffing the US NIA are perfectly ordinary Americans trying to perform their job duties as well as they can in the job environment they occupy.  I expect they by-and-large are well-meaning people who genuinely want to improve other people's lives medically (and I'm confident Maria herself would not disagree with this observation).  The problem being, the people staffing NIA aren't free to make funding grant decisions based solely upon science - they work for the US government and so are funded by the US legislative branch of government and directed by the US executive branch of government, both of which are frequently subject to pressures from conflicting points of view.

Basically, having the .gov fund your research virtually guarantees you won't have much say in the direction your research follows and you will always find your efforts being held up as example of how wrong-headed government funded research is (if only by someone whose pet project/topic of interest isn't getting funded as well as desired).  The problem isn't a lack of funding, it's the funding regulation process itself that's having such an inhibiting effect on aging treatment research.

In her comments I wrote (in part):
Relying for research (or any other, really) funds from people who are themselves reliant upon the common perception that their opponents can create about them to portray them in a negative light will always result in a tightly constrained and medically questionable (at best) research and development (or pretty much any other, I suggest) environment. Much better, I think, to develop a different model of research funding that minimizes individual influence and maximizes transparency of research process. Government would still have a desirable role in the production and distribution process of medical treatment after all.

My thinking here is influenced by my experience with Khan Academy.  Salman Khan began his education "business" as a series of YouTube videos to tutor his niece who lived in a different city here in the USA.  Serendipitously, he chose not to make the videos private, and others soon found them and began commenting positively about them.  Eventually, financial backing was arranged and Khan Academy became the non-profit education establishment it is still in the process of becoming.

Maria Konovalenko occupies a position from which she is uniquely able to replicate that experience - not for education as such, but for creating a healthy life extension non-profit to fund research into therapies as well as educating people around the world about healthy life extension.

This would not be a quick process (Sal Khan spent 6 years building his teaching model and portfolio to arrive at the formal organizing stage), but she has the credentials and access to the researchers to begin the development process that Sal Khan himself has demonstrated.  An open-ended series of instructional YouTube videos (in as many different languages as Maria can contrive to produce - I'm guessing she isn't the only multi-lingual hottee of her personal acquaintance - but at least in both Russian and English to begin with) that explain the various principles and research efforts, and maybe some interviews of researchers themselves when possible, would make a good beginning.  Once she has a program of research direction(s) defined "on tape", she begins the process to attract funding for a non-profit, non-governmental entity to fund research into age-related effects on disease and treatments for aging aspects of (ultimately any) disease or health condition, entirely independent of government or corporate investment in similar types of research.

Maria is quite correct that present research efforts are being artificially limited, both in scope as well as direction.  I hope my comment at her blog will lead her to this page and that she gives these ideas some consideration.  I'm not getting any younger myself, after all.  Yet ...

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Yesterday Was Proof Positive

Barack Obama and the Democratic Party really are the Masters of the Universe; even the End Of Time Apocalypse was a failed policy.

Alternatively, it was just one more iteration of one of the earliest known examples of the apparently-not-all-that-progressive practice of recycling.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Strategy Works Both Ways

Joe Huffman has a long (for the non-Kevin Baker at least) and well-thought out post on the present political landscape in the US and the likely strategy the anti-rights faction in this country seem poised to attempt (again).  Well worth your time reading.

I submit that we have ready to hand an effective counter to the hystericalhistorical claims and objectives these efforts have consistently used heretofore.

Weer'd Beard has an extensive listing of non-firearm related killings as well as the arguments and falsehoods deployed by those groups and individuals working to restrict or revoke our personal freedom of choice.

The US .gov helpfully publishes a listing of all firearms crimes that occur in the country, from which can be extracted those that have occurred in "Gun Free Zone" locations.

JayG provides an extensive (several hundred entries now) listing of individual self-defense shootings in his "Dead Goblin Count" labeled postings.

A campaign of 30 to 60 second audio/video segments that verbally recount the actual events of several criminal shootings in gun free zones, with an equal number of news stories about legitimate (ie: legal) self-defense shootings (with online links to all of them displayed on-screen) ought to be one effective counter to efforts to demonize firearms and private ownership of same.

A simultaneous a/v campaign listing the narratives anti-gun groups and individuals promulgate (Weer'd comes through again) with the actual facts won't be quite as effective, but should keep opposition efforts divided between two separate but complimentary counter messages.

If there is some actual money available for this, arrange to have as many of the real people involved read their pro-ownership self-defense story on camera.  Should s/he be visually non-threatening in appearance then this would be a plus.

A steady progression of new videos that don't repeat events, but pound home the same pro-rights/personal liberty message, shouldn't cost much money in this day and age (and should YouTube censor them, then there's your 1st Amendment law suit too, Mr. Gottlieb) and could be used to solicit financing to take the same campaign onto the broadcast airwaves as well.  Done as a 2 year campaign, the effect on both inhibiting near-term opportunistic political action, as well as the next federal election cycle, should make much of Joe Huffman's present concerns fade in intensity (there's always going to be somebody who sees personal advantage in stealing from you so we will never end these types of efforts entirely).

Worth doing?

Friday, December 14, 2012

I Don't Do Breaking News ...

... but this story makes it appear that Mom brought her family problems to work with her.

Not going to speculate further; my condolences to the families for their loss, and I think it worth noting that the reporter made a decent effort to avoid the inflammatory hoplophobic rhetoric.  A 20 years old young man has killed himself in an extremely brutal fashion; I await further information from the crime investigation already underway, as should we all.

ETA: I see Instapundit has a post up on this, but I linked to the report through Drudge - like I said, I don't do breaking news.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Will To Learn

So, as I was saying (2 months ago), I'm 59 now.  This was cause for some reflection and decision-making.  It has been apparent for quite some years now that the employment (and more generally, many aspects of the societal) model arising from the Industrial Revolution have begun to run their course.  What hasn't been (and to a worryingly large degree still isn't) clear is what and how an individual might go about preparing for the even greater changes that appear certain to feature in all our lives in the coming years.

I've decided to educate myself so as to develop the knowledge base necessary to master the skills that nanotechnology and cellular biology seem more and more likely to bring into the individuals grasp.  Additive manufacturing of both inanimate and biological materials to construct the material and devices I desire to accomplish the means of supporting my life without having to necessarily rely upon the whim of any other is a big example of the type of societal and technology change that seems to be in the early stages of development into technique and not just research experiment.

This won't happen next year, possibly not even this decade, but there will be a steady progression of development such that we will achieve a tipping point of change that drags all of human society out of what we now regard as "normal".  I envision this process as a wave breaking upon the shore.  We are only just now beginning to be able to see the start of the swell building; I want to be one of those furiously paddling away just as the first curl appears.  The technology (and other) changes I believe will occur in my lifetime may or may not be the equivalent of Mavericks, but I refuse to be one of those standing around whining in the impact zone as the future washes away the present.

Admittedly being a rather too casual student of classical strategy, I have given some thought to developing one.  What I've come up with likely won't meet many of the needs of others, but I hope will offer inspiration to begin the process of preparing to overcome the risk that is the necessary component of any opportunity.

I've begun by registering as a student at Khan Academy.  I chose this particular venue because of Salman Khan's concept of a transcript being structured as a resume as well as a repository for one's professional work and qualifications (the current examples are publications, software developed, apps, etc but certifications of a technical or trade nature seem a likely possibility also) and that the learning part of education should be free of charge (certification OTOH ...).  Beyond the embarrassingly simple aspiration to remain smarter than my grandson (he's 2 at the moment, but closing fast), I intend to spend the next several years learning math to at least the geometry to calculus level, at least one of the Romance languages other than English (and hopefully an eastern European language as well), and eventually achieve a PhD (or an equivalent certification) in history.  I think it unlikely that I will confine my online studies to only Khan Academy, indeed I think it virtually certain that I won't.

There's more.  I have an abiding interest in things martial.  Mostly this involves modern firearms and in recent years Krav Maga.  Thanks to Eric S. Raymond, I've discovered ARMA - The Association for Renaissance Martial Arts.  I have applied for membership and intend to structure my studies on the historical record of martial theory and philosophy from the Renaissance period onward.  My thought at this point is to connect the historical practice with modern technology and technique and see where that points the thesis further.

With all this decided, I have also decided that I'm going to retire from my present employment around the end of June 2014.  This won't provide me with a great deal of money, but will meet my most basic needs.  Assuming such a thing still exists in 2016 I intend to begin drawing social security at 62 (plus 8 months - 3 years earlier than I could begin drawing "full" benefits).  Fiscal cliffs and all that notwithstanding, actual societal collapse is a drawn out process and I decided the ability to concentrate my efforts for the mid- and late-term portion of my studies was sufficient to justify the longer term risk of retiring from employment at 60.

What makes this different from a complex way to occupy by dwindling twilight years of advancing decrepitude is my conviction that the healthy life extension research that has been underway for most of a decade now has begun (and will continue to) deliver cellular and genetic therapies for age-related diseases and deteriorating physical conditions.  Again, not next year or even this decade necessarily, but within the reasonable expectation of my lifetime without such therapies (the next 20 - 25 years basically).  There are already efforts in place to deliver stem cell type therapies via IV drip and direct injection as well as genetic therapies introduced via benign virus.  The ability to clone one's stem cells and map one's personal genetic code is already within the financial reach of most Americans (well, those of us who have jobs at least); it is only reasonable to believe that this price will continue to shrink over the course of this present decade.  I have begun looking into the procedure required to have both of these accomplished before I retire.  Just one more of those things I expect we will all have to adapt ourselves to if we want to stay out of that futuristic wave impact zone.

And that's pretty much it.  Along the way I will garner as many certifications as I can (I still hope to become formally certified as a Krav Maga instructor even though I don't intend to pursue teaching as regular employment; I'm just not rigorous or consistent enough to be good at instruction - though assisting or filling in temporarily for someone else would be good) with particular emphasis on those related to the creative application of computer technology.  Incorporating firearms and other weaponry into my studies isn't actually a given, more like the pivotal activity around which all else occurs, so I hope to obtain certifications as an RSO and instructor also.  I will have to place greater emphasis on physical fitness than I have (especially of late); it's all well and good to believe in the promise of healthy life extension, but you have to live long enough to have some sort of therapy to receive, don't you?

The blog and my presence online will remain pretty much unchanged for the moment I expect; I want to finish the life extension post series I started in October for only one topic.  I will say that having settled on a course of action to follow has created a sense of emotional as well as intellectual relief for me.  It all may well go straight into the crapper (again), but I feel invigorated and more confident (even if that is the porcelain spinning 'round me) and expect to have a more frequent urge to babble away here once again.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

In Commemoration

Upon the occasion of my 59th birthday, This.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

@ Maria Konovalenko

Ignoramuses?  Really?

Well, it is the web, there's bound to be at least a few, so fair enough, but aren't you painting with a terribly broad brush?

I sincerely doubt there are any who genuinely desire a return to the cyclical wars that plagued Europe's history.  That said, is it really so ignorant to lament the method selected to interrupt the progression of violence?  And even if that laudable end does justify the questionable means, how is the present day manipulation of the political design somehow more worthy than those men and women who actually created the political process that began its existence as the Common Market?

Looking at the map you so helpfully provide, I remember a train trip I took once upon a time.  Starting at the cambio in the train station in Brindisi, Italy (where I exchanged my Greek Drachma for Italian Lira), I rode up the length of Italy through Rome - and a lovely few days stay that was - into Austria and on to Munich, (in then West) Germany.  Eventually, from there it was more riding the rails to the channel and across (via ferry - the channel tunnel was only an epic engineering design challenge at the time :)) to London, England.

Taking in the whole of the trip, I (along with pretty much everyone else on the continent) routinely exchanged for, and spent in a sense of routine security, Greek Drachma, Italian Lira, German Marks, French Francs and British Pounds (not to mention a good many US Dollars along the way).  Contemplate the economic burden each of those countries currently struggles with and tell me more about the "convenience" of "one currency".   There is a value to be had from being able to apportion one segment of a common market from the rest via a regional (read: national) currency.  That each trades at a variable rate depending upon the circumstances of the day is a feature of the process, not a bug.  It's the trade mechanism that adds the value, not the hypothetical "currency" traded in, I submit.

You undoubtedly have memories of your own country's experience of an enforced, artificial political union.  Look about Moscow (indeed, all of Russia along with the rest of the old USSR) and decide for yourself; is the convenience of a universal currency, lack of internal borders and "peace" better or worse than what you see outside your window today?

Peace is the (mostly unintended) by-product of people vying for competitive success, deliberately just shy of the extremes of effort.  People thinking for themselves, about their own best interests - which necessarily include consideration of those about them with whom they interact, sometimes at great personal remove.  Looked at in that light, don't you think giving a group of people looking to their own main chance a prize for doing the obvious might be fairly construed as just the tiniest bit silly and pretentious?

Please understand, it's not the people of "Europe" whose efforts at not destroying their own stuff for a change is what is being called into question.  Only the urge among a pretentious few to award them for doing so, as if the rest of the continent were somehow too dim as a group to recognize the value of their own efforts at making and taking care of their own stuff.

That is ignorant.

I think of life extension in much the same way; who benefits from my (or anyone, really) having a longer healthy lifespan?  Obviously me, of course.  Maybe those around me (that is going to vary I'm afraid; I can be a bit of an a-hole at times) (I know, shocking isn't it? :)), and arguably the rest of the country through the added taxes and societal fees we all pay.  The real value is to be found in the availability of the same result to everyone desiring it.

And why exactly would some government agency or bureaucrat have any interest in making such opportunity available to any of us except as doing so benefits them directly?

No.  Life extension is the innate human rights and freedom we are all born with extended.  No more, nor less.  That's the prize European people, not to mention all the rest of us, should be working towards awarding ourselves. 

Peacefully, necessarily.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Dear Uncle

Now with update, too!

About my T-shirt idea; maybe you should consider answering the "When" question just a bit more indirectly than I originally suggested.  In place of the proper English spelling, maybe use the euro sign, a "u" with an umlaut, whatever letter that backwards-looking N is in the Cyrillic alphabet, and an upside-down lower case "t" instead*.

Granted, there will be some reduced emotional impact in response to our campaign in support of medical research (and I strongly recommend this lie exercise of our 1st Amendment rights to everyone who might consider buying one of these) as a result of this dissimulation, but we will all be the happier to have avoided the Bovril-themed boxcars transporting us to the Brideshead Gaol alternative.

* I'm too stupid to figure out how to make my keyboard actually make those letters appear on the screen.

Update 10/22/12:  Kevin Baker nailed it in comments.  Now to see if Uncle takes advantage of this financial risk opportunity.

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Transhuman Strategic Model

Maria Konovalenko is a young Russian woman who works for the Science for Life Extension foundation in Moscow, FRS  On her personal blog she recently put up a post titled Transhumanism Presentation in Tallinn at the NMR Meeting at which she made a live stage presentation of the following notion:
the opportunity to share our ideas about transhumanism as the ideology that can be used as the basis for uniting researchers and increasing the amount of funding.
  The idea seems to be most simply put as, while cooperation between disciplines can extend the available funding, the shortage of research funding is universal to all disciplines of study and won't be relieved until there is widespread "social mandate" sufficient to compel politicians to allocate public monies appropriately.

It could work.  Maria cites the lunar landings of the '60's and '70's as support of this technology development model.  I, having personally been alive throughout that whole period of human history, wish to take this opportunity to suggest that there may be a better model to consider, one that doesn't require that whole [fill in the blank] War framework of competition so critical to the US/USSR Moon Race.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Post-Debate Thoughts

Everybody has their reaction to last nights initial Presidential Debate up for all to see; here's mine:

Mitt Romney is the more polished debator.  This has multiple potential applications for an elected executive office holder.

Barack Obama did nothing to support the image that has been constructed about him in the media these last few years.  This will have consequences on election day as most voters tend to be swayed by the degree a candidate appears to conform to their (the voters) expectations about the candidate.

One other note; many are making note of both candidates "character".  The test for that will be found in both men's behavior at the subsequent debates.  This was only the introductory tune-up match, more a test of each campaigns capability than it was of either man or party platform yet.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Suck Really Blows

After a quick rummage through the closet, I got out my couth and decorum guidebook and looked up the proper response to this.

Herself needs to put up another donation link that says "Tam's Snot Locker Fund", because using her current ammo fund link is just a tad bit morbid under the circumstances, don'cha agree?  Doubt I'm the first in line and certain I won't be the last, but you take my sincerity Tam and stack it up with all the rest - the good doctor will help you spread it around where it will do you the most good I'm sure.

And after the biopsy, remember the first rule of blogging - it didn't happen without pictures.


Edited to add: I can't make up my mind whether Triple Barrel Booger Blower is completely over the top or just a bit "too soon".  I'm not an ARFCOMmie (Hi Kevin! :)), but it's in the same spirit and all ...

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Political Humor Crudity

You have to wonder if the last thought that went through the mind of that poor Obama voter in Benghazi the day before yesterday (just as his trousers started down) was, "But this isn't the Hope and Change I voted for!"

Probably not, but still ...

On Recent American Foreign Policy


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Does This Make Me Look Cheat?

So, Tam wrote a post recently (Ha; bet you thought I was going with this one didn't you?) in which she made the observation, "This is what comes of the gradual shift of the word "elitist" from an aspiration to a pejorative."

To which I thought in reply, "But its always been both, hasn't it?'

If you think of yourself as being among the elite, that you personally, not just your actions/opinions are superior to the people around you, then you are a [insert crude slang word for the appropriate human genitalia here] and the personification of the very word "pejorative".  OTOH if the majority of those around you consider you to be among the elite in whatever is under discussion, you're probably doing whatever it is just about well enough.

I take Tam's point to have been that these days people seem to actively aspire to the pejorative type of elitist behavior in the mistaken belief that doing so is the way to achieve the admired result.  That pretending skilled accomplishment deserves equal respect to actually being accomplished at some task requiring developed skills.  That the perquisites and considerations they receive from others is what those judged to be superior are really all about.

I considered elitist thinking back in 2006 at Gary Gagliardi's old Warrior Class blog (where I first started blogging in late 2005).  One of the more questionable hallmarks of elitist behavior is the assumption that the status is inheritable or somehow transmissible from another.  This is the objection I have to Albert Nock's theories regarding the elite condition; that somehow this is an inherent attribute present in some people but not others.  Call me cynical, but the following makes me think he wasn't being quite as rigorous in his pronouncements as he is credited with being:
"In the mid-1920s, a small group of wealthy American admirers funded Nock's literary and historical work..."
 Horses and carts come to mind as does biting the hand that feeds, and all that.

In my belief, true individual elite status is bestowed upon you by those both familiar with you and who are themselves regarded as being worthy to make such a judgement.  Elite status can be lost by you for being seen as assuming the perks of that status rather than accepting them.  Merely being the child/nephew/inheritor of an elite person will give you a certain advantage of opportunity to achieve such a status judgement for yourself, but attaining such a regard is on you.  Ask Paris Hilton, for only one example.

Or Tam herself.  Elite gun blogger isn't necessarily a well-defined specialty, but having an established history of subject knowledge mastery and personal expertise is certainly part of it. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Empire State Bldg Police Shooting

There has been the to-be-expected commentary about last Fridays NYC shooting.  This is my analysis of the gunfight between a single armed man and two NYPD officers on the street outside the Empire State Building on Friday, August 24, 2012, as this event applies to licensed handgun carriers who are not also sworn officers of the court.  This analysis is based solely on my experience with firearms generally, my understanding of CQB theory and practice, the general legal constraints that apply to CHL holders along with the linked YouTube video of the CCTV image stream of the action.

The image opens with the shooter passing on the street side of a large potted plant being loosely followed by two police officers.  The shooter then turns to his left (toward the camera and building), shielding his right hand from view by his pursuers, during which time he appears to draw a handgun from a valise he's carrying in his left hand.  It is at this point (approx :09 seconds into the linked video) that others on the street begin to vacate the immediate area and the two officers initiate their direct confrontation of the man.

There is the to-be-expected initial lack of coordination between the two cops (and it should be noted that the man with the gun does not appear from this video to be actively firing his gun at them, only* brandishing - or more charatably proffering - it toward the two officers), who then separate themselves so as to gain two distinct directions of approach towards the man while requireing him to keep track of separate sources of threat.  It appears the two cops begin firing their weapons at the man virtually immediately following initiaton of their separation movement.

In my judgement, this appears to be an example of panic firing (that is, one officer beginning to fire and the other doing so because the first cop is shooting) as I can see no indication of the man doing anything different to what he had been doing up to that point such as to trigger the two officers going from arrest mode to kill in self-defense mode.

The officers had begun to place themselves in good position to initiate an arrest, then the more distant-from-the-man officer begins backing away as he circles to his own left (the single man's right) as both officers appear to open fire.  The video available doesn't show any change of behavior or increase in the threat offered to make shooting at that point necessary.  This could very well be a result of limited information via the video stream.

My purpose in this post is to comment on possible individual self-defense possibilities CHL holders might consider in a similar circumstance (armed shooter on a public street not actively firing at the moment).  You may find Joe Huffman's much more involved approach to a teachable moment of interest as well; I recommend it.

First point being that should an armed shooter approach in your direction on a public street, LEAVE.  Unlike the police, individual citizens have no duty to confront a threat of unlawful behavior displayed by another.  This is a critical difference from having a right to defend one's self from threat.  If you safely can, it is simple common sense (though Texas is one of the States in which it is not a statutory requirement) to avoid the danger.  In the video, it is clear that the man was attempting to flee the scene.  Unless his further action makes you unable to safely do so, allow him to and provide information of his direction of travel to his constituted pursuers.  Remember, from their perspective, you also becoming violently involved at best only complicates an already complex situation and at worst has you dead on the ground too.

If leaving the scene simply isn't an option, the behavior of the officers in the video is an excellent example of a good secondary option; take cover.  In the example, the potted plant container gave the closer of the two police officers cover while still allowing him to engage the threat.  For a non-police citizen with a CHL, this type of cover (or even only concealment) would be a better option to take than just standing around like a fool, but I think there isn't a justification to draw your weapon unless the man actually turns towards you with his own weapon drawn.  If he continues on his way your gun should either never have left the holster or be immediately returned thereto (being personally among those of the persuassion to carry in Cond 2, I would draw my gun and cycle a round into the chamber, but keep the gun at "low ready" so as to not offer visual threat; I would safe the gun and holster it as soon as the man showed his intent to continue walking away) (he says hopefully).

In the actual event, the more distant-from-the-shooter police officer moved to contain the man's movement by circling to the mans right.  In doing so, the officer also extended the distance between himself and the man.  This is a mistake that anyone having the necessity to engage an armed person must train not to do.  By circling and continuing to approach the man, the officer increases his potential opportunity to arrest the man without shooting while decreasing his potential to miss the man if doing so becomes necessary.  It is my understanding that a licensed and armed citizen making the same engagement approach (while possibly justifiable under other considerations) would void any claim to self defense as a result.  If there should be some necessity for a citizen (armed with a gun or not) to engage an armed opponent in similar fashion, advanceing while circling will better set up a dis-arm maneuver while increaseing the likelihood of the gunman remaining distracted for long enough for you to close the distance before his making the decision to fire.  It is my understanding that police departments commonly do not train their officers to employ such techniques and in at least two examples to my personal knowledge have policies in place that expressly forbid their officers from attempting such.

Self defense is a very limited legal concept and potential threat doesn't rise to the legislatively stipulated level required to qualify for the legal defense the claim proffers.  You can't shoot the driver of a passing car even if s/he has just run somebody over and is proceeding down the street in your general direction, unless the driver tries to run you down as well and quite possibly even then the local DA will take exception to your judgement call after the fact.  Similarly, an armed by-stander standing in a virtually identical location to that in which this shooting actually took place (and also being well away from the previous shooting scene and there being no immediate threat being proffered towards nearby citizens) would likely not rise to the justification necessary to successfully claim "self defense" after whipping out his gat and dropping the perp DRT.

I'm sympathetic to the thought that the general presence within the community of lawfully armed citizens tends to have the secondary effect of reducing the statistical likelihood of shooting events like this particular example taking place, but in this case it seems equally unlikely that such an armed citizen having been present would have significantly altered events.  The shooter reportedly shot his victim in the head initially at near-contact range, followed by four follow-up shots to the torso, and then immediately set out to leave the scene with his gun hidden in the satchel he was carrying.  There doesn't seem to have been any practical opportunity for an armed bystander to have intervened prior to the first killing and no real self defense justification to do so afterwards.  The shooter put his gun in his valise and walked (rather hastily) away, offering no violent threat to anyone else apparently.

I will be curious to learn the results of Joe Huffman's USPSA shooting stage just generally, but wonder how well anyone could react given the time and legal constraints that modify this given example?  While it isn't part of the current stage design he has published, I wonder how difficult it would be to include a test of the over-penetration effect a shooting of these caliber guns at this range of engagement has on the safety of the bystanders?  How many of the injured, who were indeed all hit by NYPD bullets, were as the result of thru-penetrations as opposed to out-right misses by the involved officers?  Torso-sized gelatine blocks aren't that difficult to make, but they still might be over-much for this first test of the shooting stage.  Maybe a refinement for a future runthrough.

* This post is not meant as a particular criticism of the NYPD or the two police officers who were actually involved; while all of those roundly deserve the critical commentary they have received about the state of their training, I do think that there is a tendancy amongst we licensed gun carriers to unrealisticly apply statistical averages to our own hypothetical actions in a similar circumstance.  Possibly worse than that, there is the initial impulse to justify such hypothetical actions with a mis-interpretation of the actual statutes that govern such actions.  If situations like this one in NYC can be said to have any general value, it is as a learning opportunity for we the survivors (however distant from the action).  It is important that we who do go armed not learn falsehoods that influence the judgements we have to make as a result of our choice to carry a gun lawfully.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Going For The Gold

Via Drudge I learn from this AP story that some private US domestic organisation claims to have "stripped" Lance Armstrong of all of his 7 Tour de France titles - an authority actually exercised by the International Cycling Union.  The USADA also claims authority to revoke an International Olympic Committee authorized Bronze Medal awarded to Armstrong for his (carefully drug monitored) performance in the 2000 Olympics, as well as "... any awards, event titles and cash earnings."

I think I begin to smell a motive for all this.

If the USADA does succeed in claiming for it's own all of Lance Armstrong's "earnings" over the course of his sports career, how much of his cancer foundations monies (reportedly some $500+ million) count as his earnings?

Talk about going for the gold.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

"... that are able to penetrate walls."*

Drudge links to an Alex Jones Poopie Pants Prison Planet story that makes eminently clear the level of lunacy that is passed off as "news reporting" these days.  If anyone still has any doubts remaining, I am convinced Alex Jones runs a professional dis-information operation very thinly disguised as the ravings of a moron.

But I could be giving him too much credit there.

In any case, Prison Planet dot com (you can waste your time actually going to the site if you want, but you'll have to take responsibility for doing so yourself ... ) "editor and writer" Paul Joseph Watson demonstrates his capacity as a Pant-Shitting Hysteric as he bemoans the purchase of some pretty spendy ammo by what eventually proves to be NOAA's Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement.  Let's look at a few numbers first.

NOAA (mistakenly identified as NWS on the .gov ammo solicitation form apparently) wants to buy 46,000 rounds of .40 S&W JHP ammo - to be distributed amongst several locations.

" A solicitation which appears on the FedBizOpps website asks for 16,000 rounds of .40 S&W jacketed hollow point (JHP) bullets, noted for their strength, to be delivered to locations in Ellsworth, Maine, and New Bedford, Mass.  A further 6,000 rounds of S&W JHP will be sent to Wall, New Jersey, with another 24,000 rounds of the same bullets heading to the weather station in St. Petersburg, Florida."

Along with "being noted for their strength", .40 cal is also noted as the issue handgun caliber for the FBI and one supposes many other .gov badge toters as well.  It is common practice for large organisations to require component agencys to use the same equipment so as to reduce the unit cost of each piece of gear bought.  Like handguns, just for instance.  Not too surprisingly one would have thought, this concept would fairly unremarkably extend to include the ammunition those guns use, but apparently not.

As to the quantities, I probably average shooting something in the near neighborhood of 6,000 rounds of all calibers of ammo for the guns I own in an average year.  Now, since I'm spending my own money to buy all that, I tend to go for the Winchester White Box or maybe the Sellier & Beloit if I'm financially more flush than is the norm.  If I had access to Uncle Sugar's checkbook (and thereby to your pockets too :)), I'd certainly be tempted to practice with the stuff I intend to carry too!  But I don't think that's whats going on here. 

It seems reasonable to me that there might be as many as 460 individual Fishy LEO's in NOAA's employ (and we can leave for another occasion the question of why NOAA).  Should that prove to be the case, then NOAA will be able to issue each of those people with a whole 100 rounds apiece (one presumes for the year).  And if it turns out there are only half that many badge toters, that's still only 200 rounds apiece.  That's a whole 4 boxes of 50 rounds each, and the damn gun will hold nearly a third of a box at a time too.  Throw in a couple spare magazines (common practice - look at any cops' duty belt) and now we see we're actually talking about a perfectly reasonable quantity of issue duty ammunition for a federal law enforcement agency to provide for its people to use (or hopefully not use) during the course of their day.

I especially like this comment:

"As the Business Insider notes, hollow point bullets have been “illegal in international warfare since 1899.”

I wonder what the Business Insider's opinion is on the law regarding domestic law enforcement's use of hollow point bullets during the course of domestic law enforcement actions?

As to the rest of the article's observations, it's pretty clear that DHS is zeroing out it's budget on law enforcement-type goodies - possibly in anticipation of a different occupant of the White House being less forthcoming with the dosh in the near future.  None of them can actually SAY that of course, but it seems at least as likely as anything the Excitable Watson can intimate.

I like a good conspiracy theory/rant as much as the next fellow (and given my family history, quite possibly more than most), but Drudge is going to have to work a good deal harder than this to get a rise out of anyone who owns and shoots a gun and has more than three working brain cells to rub together.

* So can most of my .22's, for a given value of "wall".

Monday, July 16, 2012

To Be A Fly On That Bulkhead

Via Glen Reynolds comes notice of this story about new USN air craft carriers being designed with "heads" (toilet/shower/washroom/pick you euphemism) that have no urinals. 

I can just see the faces of all (the males at least) involved in the first Captains Mast proceeding for "leaving the toilet seat up".

I wonder if they're still planning on leaving the stall doors off as was the standard?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Wrong question, Prof Hanson

In a recent National Review article, Victor Davis Hanson asks:
Even more surreal, tiny oil-poor Israel, thanks to vast new offshore finds, has been reinvented as a potential energy giant in the Middle East. Such petrodollars will change Israel as they did the Persian Gulf countries, but with one major difference. Unlike Dubai or Kuwait, Israel is democratic, economically diverse, socially stable, and technologically sophisticated, suggesting the sudden windfall will not warp Israel in the manner it has traditional Arab autocracies, but will instead become a force multiplier of an already dynamic society. Will Europe still snub Israel when it has as much oil, gas, and money as an OPEC member in the Persian Gulf?

Given the known history of Europe towards Jews generally, would it not be more correct to enquire as to when Europe will invade and conquer Israel and take its new-found petro largess for itself?  That ought to add a good deal of padding to all those failing socialist fantasy economies currently dragging down the entire continent, if not quite the entire planet yet.

What's a few jews more (and more to the point) less compared to all of that?


h/t Instapundit

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Choices Have Consequences

I'm supposed to be coming out of post-surgery general anesthesia recovery about now (for a deviated septum - annoying, but not a life threatening condition).  That's not the case due to the Trinity Mother Francis hospitals management recently taking the unilateral decision that general anesthesia patients will not "be allowed" to use public transport to and from the hospital - specifically to include taxi cabs.  As a result of this deliberate choice by my medical services provider, I was refused treatment and denied surgery this morning - all because I had the temerity to take a cab to and from the surgery office so as to comply with the request not to drive myself home post-surgery.

As I said in the title, choices have consequences.  One result is that I won't be having this (or quite likely any other) elective surgery procedure done at any Mother Francis facility from this point on.  Annoying that, as this most likely means I will have to identify and change over to a different source of medical treatment that my health insurance will continue to pay part of.  Probably to include having to end my relationship with my current (for the last 15+ years) GP and find another, since I doubt he will be allowed to refer me to some specialist that doesn't work for his employer also.

Since this decision (to restrict the informed choices of its adult patients) was apparently taken more than a year ago now, I find the choice to not inform me of this policy decision - particularly in light of my known-to-the-hospital-staff experience to the contrary in the recent (last 5 years) past - prior to my having paid the $500+ portion of the surgical fee to be a deliberate act of abuse.  Especially since I'm confident I will never see that money again as the hospital "stands ready to re-schedule the surgery" just as soon as I dis-order the lives of a sufficiency of my fellow citizens to satisfy the prejudices of the hospital staff who get to impose such tyranny upon the unsuspecting.  The very idea that "we won't allow a patient" to make an informed decision regarding their own health care follow up is outrageous in its own right.  That this is revealed to said patient only at the last minute (in the present example, literally as they were about to call me in to begin surgery prep) only adds to the insult.  The stupefying assumption that anyone's family, friends and neighbors ought to be, indeed necessarily must be inconvenienced and have their lives disrupted in order for a grown human to purchase a service from another is a mind-boggling presumption on anyones part.

I understand that informed consent is critical to making an informed decision.  I accept that we are (and ought to be) bound by our choices.  I simply categorically reject anyones claim to arbitrarily deny me the most basic of human rights regarding my own person absent my being forced to comply at the (literal) point of a gun.  Frankly, I don't care how many years the "facility director" has been swamping out bedpans, her decision to deny me treatment so as to assuage the gas passer's lawyers qualms doesn't cut it.

I'm 58 years old; I came to the abrupt conclusion some 40 years ago now that I was going to live until I died, and that I was going to die of something at some stage of the process no matter how much fiction became actual science along the way.  If it turns out that thing should prove to be a stuffy nose then so be it.  I also came to the conclusion that I most likely won't be too concerned over the how so much as the what come the day, nor am I likely to care over much after the fact.

So, the $500 is gone, I still have a semi-permanently clogged snot locker and, because I don't have the "cleared to return to work" piece of paper from Mommy Dearest nursey yet, I can't go back to work today either.  I wonder if the boss will approve a paid vacation day post hoc as it were?  I hate to lose another $150 to this exercise in stupidity.

Just think how much better all this will be once Obama's PPACA policies really kick into effect.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

In Which He Commits Gunbloggery

Since it has been a recent topic of (sadly mostly mis-)informed discussion, commentary and supposed reporting in the various media available, I thought I would take the opportunity to post the actual facts about "Stand Your Ground" and the "Castle Doctrine" laws as those are presently legislated here in Texas.  The following is plagerized cut-n-pasted from the most recent newsletter published by Texas Law Shield:

What is the Texas Castle Doctrine?
The "Castle Doctrine" is a concept that comes from the philosophy that every person is the King or Queen of their home. Thus, there is never a need for the monarch of the kingdom to flee the castle before using force against an unlawful intruder. Texas Penal Code §9.31 (governing the justified use of non-deadly force) and §9.32 (governing the justified use of deadly force) are our state's version of the Castle Doctrine. Just proving that everything is bigger in Texas, our law extends the "Castle Doctrine" beyond your residence to include your occupied vehicle and workplace.
Inside your "castle," under certain circumstances, Texas law presumes you acted reasonably and justifiably if you use force or deadly force to defend yourself against an intruder who enters your occupied habitation, vehicle, or place of business or employment. What are the circumstances that will give you this important legal presumption? The first is where an individual unlawfully and with force, enters or attempts to enter your occupied habitation, vehicle or place of business or employment. The second situation is if an individual unlawfully and with force, removes or attempts to remove you from your occupied habitation, vehicle, or place of business or employment. If you are ever confronted with either of these situations, Texas law will presume that you acted reasonably and were justified in using force or deadly force. Therefore, in order for you to be convicted of any crime, a prosecutor would have to overcome this presumption in order to prove that you did not act reasonably. Overcoming this presumption is nearly an impossible task in a court of law.
With regard to using force or deadly force to defend your "castle," the Texas Penal Code specifically uses the word "habitation," not the words "building" or "property." Texas has a very limited definition of what qualifies as a person's habitation. The "Castle Doctrine" does not cover your entire piece of property. The legal term "habitation" is defined by Texas Penal Code §30.01 as "a structure or vehicle adapted for the overnight accommodation of persons; and includes each separately secured or occupied portion of the structure or vehicle; and each structure appurtenant to or connected with the structure or vehicle." This means structures that are detached from where you sleep at night are not considered to be your habitation. For example, Texas law does not consider your detached garage, shed, and/or barn part of your habitation. However, if your garage, front or back porch is connected to the structure containing your sleeping quarters (as exists in many suburban communities), it is considered part of your habitation as defined by the Texas Penal Code. Yes, this slight distinction in architectural design can affect your legal rights.
Turning to the subject of vehicles, Texas Penal Code §30.01 defines a vehicle "as any device, in, on, or by which any person or property is or may be propelled, moved, or drawn in the normal course of commerce or transportation." This is a very broad definition and appears to include anything that carries people or property from one place to another, including cars, trucks, boats, airplanes, golf carts, etc. The important point to remember is that you or someone else must be occupying the vehicle to be given the presumption of reasonableness under Texas Penal Code §9.31 and §9.32.
What About People Who are Only Trespassers?
Make sure that you do not fall victim to the common misconception that the Castle Doctrine gives you carte blanche to use deadly force merely because someone is on your property. It does not. Many people think that the law allows you to use deadly force against a mere trespasser. In fact, Texas law says the exact opposite. Texas Penal Code §9.41 allows you to use force, not deadly force, that is reasonably necessary to prevent or terminate another's trespass on your land.
You still have a legal right to exclude or remove trespassers from your land; however you are limited to only using non-deadly force to do so. The use of force can have many different manifestations, from physical confrontation to displaying a weapon. Texas Penal Code §9.04 states that for defensive purposes the display of a weapon in order to create apprehension in another person is considered a use of force, not deadly force. That means if someone trespasses on your property, you may display your firearm to create apprehension that you will use deadly force if necessary. You will not be legally justified in discharging the firearm, but you will be legally justified in displaying it to "create apprehension" under the law. Only if the trespasser is committing other acts where the law states that you are justified in using deadly force would you be allowed to discharge your firearm legally.
For example, if you are sitting in your living room and see an individual peering in your window, you will probably not be justified under Texas law in using deadly force against the suspicious person. However, if the same fellow breaks a window and climbs through, you will be legally justified in using deadly force under Texas Penal Code §9.32. If you see the same individual scoping out your detached barn, you will not fall under Texas Penal Code §9.32, because it is not considered an occupied habitation. Note under our examples you may very well be justified under another section of the law in the use of deadly force, but not under Texas Penal Code §9.32, or what the media calls the "Castle Doctrine."
What if a Trespasser Starts Committing Other Property Crimes?
What about defense of property? The use of deadly force to protect property is contained in Texas Penal Code §9.42. This section of the law lays out a couple of scenarios where you are justified in reasonably using deadly force to protect your property. The first is if someone is committing trespass or interference with your property and you must reasonably use deadly force to prevent arson, burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, theft during the nighttime or criminal mischief during the nighttime. If someone is unlawfully on your property and attempting to commit any of these crimes, you will gain the legal justification for using deadly force.
The second scenario is the law of recovering your property by using deadly force. Texas has a 3-prong test that, if met, gives a justification in using deadly force to recover stolen property. This test is as follows: (1) force is necessary to prevent or terminate another's trespass on land or unlawful interference with the property, (2) deadly force is reasonably necessary to prevent another who is immediately fleeing after committing burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, or theft during the nighttime from escaping with the property, and (3) the person reasonably believes that the property cannot be recovered by any other method or that the use of non-deadly force to recover the property would expose them to a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury. We as lawyers cannot stress enough that under this scenario, while the law may allow you to use deadly force - It Is Most Likely A Very Bad Idea!
As you see, criminal trespass alone is not one of the crimes listed in Texas Penal Code §9.42 or even as part of the "Castle Doctrine" under §9.31 or §9.32. A mere criminal trespass may, however, evolve into one of the above crimes where you may be justified in using deadly force to protect your property. Let's take another example, if someone decides to sit on your lawn, you holler at them from your bedroom window to "get off my property." If the trespasser refuses to leave, you are almost certainly not justified in using deadly force to remove him. But if that person sitting on your lawn gets up and charges towards your bedroom window with a firearm and a crow bar, you will very likely be legally justified in using deadly force to protect yourself and your home. His actions of charging you with a weapon make him more than just a trespasser under Texas law.

Criminal Prosecution Even If You Were Justified.
Just because Texas law affords you a legal justification for using deadly force when someone attacks you or enters or removes you from your occupied habitation, vehicle, or workplace, does not mean you are immune from being arrested or criminally prosecuted - even if you are completely in the "right" as far as the law is concerned. Your right to assert legal justifications is just that: a legal justification. It is not a get out of jail free card, or an "I get to skip the entire legal process" card. In fact, always remember, there is a high possibility that you will go to jail and have to post bond to get out long before the issue of justification is considered by the government. We see cases like this commonly under the firearms program, not to mention seeing cases of this nature unfold in other states everyday. You may ultimately have to go to court and assert your justification defense before a judge or jury. This process may take months or even years to get resolved. You just dont know.
Does Texas Have a Stand Your Ground Law?

The term "stand your ground" law, again, is not a legal phrase but a phrase the media frequently uses in its reporting. Texas law tells us that there is no duty to retreat if faced with a situation where you have to use force or deadly force to protect yourself or another. Even if by retreating you could avoid the entire confrontation, you do not legally have to. Texas Penal Code §9.32(c) states that in defending yourself or another person, you have no duty to retreat if: (1) you have a legal right to be at the location where deadly force is used, (2) you did not provoke the person against whom deadly force was used, (3) and you were not engaged in criminal activity at the time deadly force was used. The statute is better classified as a "no duty to retreat" law. Under these very limited circumstances, a prosecutor or law enforcement can no longer argue that you had a reasonable "escape route" or that you should have had to "fall back" before justifiably using deadly force. If you are facing a criminal charge, qualifying under this statute could mean the difference between a conviction or not!

In order to receive the "no duty to retreat" protection from the law, first, you must have been justified under the Texas Penal Code in using force or deadly force. As we discussed above, Texas Penal Code §9.32 states that you will be presumed to be legally justified in using deadly force if someone is entering, attempting to enter, removing you or attempting to remove you from your occupied habitation, vehicle, or workplace. Texas Penal Code §9.32 also states that you will be presumed to be justified in using deadly force if someone commits or attempts to commit: aggravated kidnapping, murder, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated robbery. Deadly force can be used to stop any of these crimes, as well as when it may be immediately necessary to protect yourself or another person from the attacker's use of deadly force. If you are anywhere you have a right to be, only then does the use of deadly force with no duty to retreat apply under the statute. To paraphrase a very effective jury argument, the statute is designed to protect you when "trouble finds you, but not when you go looking for trouble."

Disqualifications for No Retreat Protection

There are multiple situations where your conduct may potentially disqualify you from the Texas "no duty to retreat" provision. In order to receive Texas Penal Code §9.32(c)'s "no duty to retreat" protection, you must be justified in using force under Texas Penal Code §9.31. Second, the no retreat statute itself has three more qualifications that must be met before you gain the statute's protection.

Disqualifying Under Texas Penal Code §9.31

If you want to protect yourself or another person, there are multiple situations under Texas Penal Code §9.31 where you will not be justified in using force or deadly force. If you fall under one of the following situations, you will not be given the "no duty to retreat" protection in the legal system:

1. The use of force is not justified in response to verbal provocation alone. (If someone is only yelling at you, you are not justified in using force against them).

2. You will not be justified in using force to resist arrest or search being made by a police officer. Even if the arrest or search is ultimately proven to be unlawful.

3. The use of force against another is not justified if you consent to the force. (No dueling or consenting to gun fights).

4. If you seek a discussion with another person regarding your differences while unlawfully carrying a weapon, you will not be given the "no duty to retreat" protection. Unlawful carry of a weapon includes:

a. a non-CHL holder carrying in places other than their premises, vehicle or watercraft;

b. having a handgun in plain view;

c. engaging in criminal activity while carrying a weapon; or,

d. carrying a weapon by a person who is a member of a criminal street gang.

Qualifying Under the No Duty to Retreat Statute
As we discussed earlier, the first thing that must be satisfied to receive the no duty to retreat protection is that the person had a legal right to be in the location where deadly force was used. What does the law mean that you "have to be in a location where you have a legal right to be?" The best way to address this topic is to discuss places where you do not have a legal right to be. Any location where you would be considered a trespasser is by definition, a place where you do not have a legal right to be. Under Texas Penal Code §30.05, a person becomes a criminal trespasser if a person enters or remains on property without effective consent, or the person had notice that entry was forbidden or received notice to depart but failed to do so. Notice of trespassing includes: oral or written communication, fencing, signs posted on the property indicating that entry is forbidden, purple paint marks on trees or posts on the property, or crops for human consumption growing on the property. As long as you are in a place where you are not considered a trespasser by the law, you most likely have a legal right to be there under the no duty to retreat statute.
If you satisfied the location test, you cannot have provoked the other's use or attempted use of force. You can't start the fight and claim justification, however, there are several exceptions to this rule. (Yes, an exception to the exception.) If you abandon the encounter or clearly communicate your intent to abandon and you cannot do so safely, and the other continues to use unlawful force against you, you do not have a duty to retreat.
A very similar scenario recently played out in a district court in Harris County. The accused was convicted of murdering his neighbor in a conflict that started with a noise complaint. The accused videotaped the entire confrontation. If you watch the last couple of minutes of the video, it appears that the accused was justified in discharging his firearm after three men charged him. However, the previous approximately twenty minutes of the video showed the accused leaving his property with his handgun, trespassing on his neighbor's property, and taunting the neighbors by flashing his pistol. Thus, the accused did not qualify for the "no duty to retreat" statute. In fact, the prosecutor in that case told the jury that "self-defense was never meant to protect the one that started the fight." The jury only deliberated for 90 minutes before returning a verdict of guilty on a murder charge and ultimately sentenced him to 40 years in prison.
Finally, you cannot be engaged in any criminal activity, other than a Class C misdemeanor traffic offense, at the time deadly force was used and claim self-defense. I would advise refraining from any criminal activity.

So, got all that?

Next time you hear/read how easy it is to shoot someone and get away with it here in the wild, wild west (or East if you live in my part of the state) of Texas, do feel free to pass along any or all of the above.

And should you ever have the urge to spend a bit on "prepping", you too can retain legal representation in advance of catastrophe by joining (or possibly creating) your states Firearms Legal Defense Retainer Program too.  Last I knew, it's a whopping $120 a year or thereabouts, with an initial ~$20 sign-up fee.  I spend more than that on an average Saturday's ammo shopping extravaganza at the local sporting goods outlet personally.  If you're one of those people who doesn't have a gun law-savvy lawyer retained in advance of need (and have the emergency contact phone number pre-set on your phone), you're doing the whole gun owner thing wrong.

ETA an observation.  In the first segment copied above (What Is The Texas Castle Doctrine?), the second to last paragraph ends with,
  For example, Texas law does not consider your detached garage, shed, and/or barn part of your habitation. However, if your garage, front or back porch is connected to the structure containing your sleeping quarters (as exists in many suburban communities), it is considered part of your habitation as defined by the Texas Penal Code. Yes, this slight distinction in architectural design can affect your legal rights.
 My daughter and son-in-law own a fairly upscale tract home in one of the suburban communities in the N. Dallas metro area.  Their back yard covered patio isn't physically attached to their house, as making it so would raise their property taxes.  The result is, while they pay lower property taxes, she and the SiL have to treat the area immediately outside their back door as if it were the yard fence.  Its part of their property and the laws governing trespassing apply, but not the laws governing forced intrusion of their "habitation".  They can forcibly remove a trespasser from outside their back door, but not with deadly force (until s/he actually attempts forced entry of self-same door).

That's a real-world example of the distinctions at play in determining whether or not you get no-billed by the grand jury or a closely supervised stay as a guest of the Governor because you stood your ground.

The burden of owning a gun may well be lighter than regret, but don't short change the complexity of the burden either.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Arrest That Man!

Over at Joe Huffman's place, a really intriguing question gets a look:
David Hardy says there are options to be considered now that Holder has been found in contempt of Congress:
The House sends out its Sergeant-at-Arms to arrest the defendant, he is tried on the spot, and the House decides whether to convict.
It is a little bit of a surprise to me but the Capital has a dungeon just for such purposes. And I find it interesting and very pleasing that:
…presidential pardons appear not to apply to civil contempt procedures such as inherent contempt because it is not an “offense against the United States” or an offense against “the dignity of public authority.”

A commenter at the David Hardy link above suggests that leaving AG Holder out of durance vile would be a better strategy, but I think I disagree.  The advantage of asking Holder himself, "what did the president know and when did he know it", isn't measurably more effective than is responding to efforts to obtain his release with the same query I think.

One added attraction of sending out the Sergent-at-Arms of the House (with as many Capitol Police as needed for back-up) to arrest the AG is the really strong potential for all the various DOJ gun toters to actively oppose their boss being given the good news.  I can see the headlines now; "House Swatties No-Knock AG's Office", "OK Corral, D. C.", "Blood In The (Capitol) Streets".

So, how do you say "snark" in spanish Mr. Calderon?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

On Strategy

The invaluable Al Fin blog has a post up titled The 48 Laws Of Power ... which lay out in synopsis fashion the 48 "laws" of strategy as defined by Robert Greene.  In the comments I pointed out how contradictory Mr. Greene's "laws" are and was invited by the Al Fin blogger to point out other works that I think better describe the precepts of strategic thought.  In an effort to avoid tl;dr in their comments at least, I opted to do all that here instead.

You takes your blog fodder where you finds it I suppose.

For the purposes of this post, I stipulate that Mr. Greene wasn't practicing original scholarship, but attempted to combine different schools of strategic thought into one book (as suggested in the same Al Fin comment stream).

There are basically two formats to presenting strategy, the classical circular structure and the western tradition of linear thinking.  Both have their advantages in detail, but the classical structure - while initially confusing to modern cause-and-effect thinking - offers the more coherent format over the broadest range of application of the fundamentals of the subject.

In the western tradition, strategy is commonly regarded as either a military or political function (and frequently some combination of those).  Clausewitz wrote to a military audience about the force multiplying benefits of logistics as a separate military specialization, particularly as applied to field artillery in support of infantry in both fixed as well as mobile operations.  Necessarily, this involved some examination of the requirements of obtaining political support of what a modern soldier would immediately recognize as a combined arms unit (then a rather novel concept).  Military units are structured for top-down command and are plotted in a pyramidal format.  Not coincidentally, strategies for using such forces are also laid out in the same limited context format.  This may produce effective combat units, but it seriously warps the applicability of the underlying concepts in other applications.

Students of strategy are remiss if they ignore Clausewitz though, his study of strategic principles in a tightly focused application is still the seminal examination of how such processes improve even a highly structured environment, particularly during chaotic events.

In the more overtly political arena can be found that other primary source of western strategic thought, Niccolo Machiavelli.  The Florentine's third book The Art Of War is more a philosophical study of the strategy of warfare than of actual strategy, its titular claim notwithstanding.  Taken together, The Prince and The Discourses offer a much better study of the justifications behind many strategic principles, but even these don't spend nearly enough narrative on the structure and inter-related nature of the actual principles themselves.

So we come to Sun Tzu.  Frankly, I find most translations of his The Art Of War to be nearly as inscrutable as the original text.  As a result, I cannot recommend strongly enough the work of Gary Gagliardi (pronounced "gah-lar-dy").  The Amazon page dedicated to his work has a decent bio of his qualifications along with (big surprise) links to many of his books examining how classical strategy applies to achieving understanding and success in a variety of ordinary human activity.  As a starting point, I recommend The Golden Key To Strategy or possibly The Bing-Fa, Martial Arts Strategy for those more inclined toward or experienced in martial arts either military or sport.  Almost any of Gary's business-oriented books will take the reader through the identical principles in that setting, as will The Art Of War + The Art Of Love in a personal context.

As can be seen, my assertion that classical strategy applies to all aspects of human activity isn't quite as unlikely as might be supposed.

Anyone just beginning a study of classical strategy would benefit from Gary's website, but the basic insight that classical strategy is conceived and presented as a circular whole, that chapter 1 takes off from the principles described in chapter 13, will help a reader new to Sun Tzu experience at least somewhat less initial confusion.  Classical strategy is  - pardon the seeming hippietude - a holistic concept that requires recognition that every principle is moderated and empowered by the context within which every other principle is applied.  It's not as confusing as all that might make it appear, but it can seem complex at first acquaintance.

My thanks to Al Fin for the inspiration to flail away on my favorite hobby horse; I call myself a student of strategy mostly because I long ago recognized I will never master the subject.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I suppose I should mention that I first started blogging at Gary's old strategy site (see here for an archival sample of my supposed insight :)), but I have no involvement with his current site or work nor do I receive compensation from any sales he may garner from my recommendations of his work, FTC disclaimer, yada yada, etc ...

Monday, June 25, 2012

Don't Let The Goldbugs Bite

So, Tam takes notice of a recent Captain Capitalism post that uses the seemingly immortal gold = money illusion as a metaphor to illustrate a tedious teaching challenge, not to mention a very debilitating belief.  As is her want, she draws a sound conclusion, and this is a topic I have given some consideration heretofore.

Nice to see some of my earlier speculations given presumptively true status, however all unknowingly.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Less Crime = Lying Cops?

At his Bayou Renaissance Man blog, Peter writes:
There's a very interesting article over at PoliceOne discussing how, in many jurisdictions, crimes are under-reported, wrongly recorded, and generally 'fudged' for political reasons...
I highly recommend clicking over to PoliceOne and reading the entire report. It provides very important insight into a problem that directly and immediately affects your own security. If you don't know the true dimensions and nature of the crime problem in your area, how will you know whether or not to take additional precautions, or be prepared to deal with specific types of crime?
As I said in his comments, one of the more seeming open-and-shut arguments advanced by many gun bloggers recently is the idea that "more guns = less crime". If the reporting from is as widespread as it appears, just how trustworthy are the statistics this line of reasoning relies on? Do the actual numbers really support the conclusion we gun owners think we're making?

This is more than a quibble over semantics. If the "... less crime" half of the argument isn't actually true (indeed, if the apparent crime reduction synonymous with the rise in gun ownership is actually false and no correlation exists), what evidence is there to disprove the notion that this official statistical fraud is instead hiding a rise in gun-involved crime?

Food for thought, indeed.

 It is usually a better strategy to control the context of a dispute, to get ahead of your oppositions arguments as it were, so my initial thought is to make a point of the unreliable nature of the official statistical record and to dismiss efforts to debate any point that relies upon them. Stick to the historical record of political/constitutional arguments about US citizen gun ownership and concentrate on the positive individual growth and development achievable through responsible gun usage. Defensive gun usage shouldn't be minimized, but it might be more effective to relegate such arguments to a supportive role rather than boldly flaunt assertions that appear more than a little questionable at the moment.

The whole "tide of history" thing is still running strong; concentrating on legal gun ownership, while making the point often about how unreliable "official" records seemingly are,  just makes better sense to me.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Zombie Outbreak?

Come on, what else was I going to call something like this after I saw it at Drudge?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Preparing For The Future

The Atomic Nerds offer insightful commentary on the week so far; I concur. Being a union guy though (I was actually elected our shop steward by my fellow employees recently) (poor bastards :)), I chose to use one of my vacation days to get myself in the proper state of mind for the upcoming Good Friday holiday this weekend. Being unionized, we get some input into which occasions during the year we wish to "celebrate" by our absence from our place of employment, and this Friday is one of them.

Went to the local County office that handles vehicle registration (along with most other tax collection-related activities for Smith County) and got the pick-up truck re-tagged for the year. In an associated observation, you would think that such a critical function of state government would make more of an effort to abide by the legislation their efforts are directed at funding. Here in Smith County, the edifice named The Cotton Belt Building houses the tax collecting offices (along with several other "services") but all of the exterior doors display an illegal notice barring guns being carried into the building. Given the presence of Sheriffs Deputies at all the doors, not to mention basic respect for the intent behind the law regulating such activity, I left my pistol locked in the truck. Even so, I can report that the coppers on the doors are not the least amused by casual queries about the violation of Texas law the signs (scroll down to Sec.30.06) on the doors exhibit. I wouldn't go so far as to say the one I spoke with was un-courteous, just really, really unamused.

That minor drag on market transactions complete, I went to Lock & Load for some much needed ballistic therapy. I recently bought a Smith & Wesson model 559 in 9mm (new in the box!) and wanted to put another 100 rounds or so through it. As every new gun owner knows, minor mal-adjustments or hardened preservatives/lubricants often don't become apparent until several hundred rounds have been fired through them (the guns, not the owners). This particular S&W offering is starting to exhibit failures to extract with no particular indications of the extractor hook (clip? blade?) gouging the brass especially. The spring pressure seems adequate (to finger pressure - I'm sure a specific strain gauge exists but I don't own one) (yet), and there isn't any obvious accumulation of gunk (excuse the technical terminology) in that area of the bolt, so I will just field strip it again and give it all a good going over with a can of brake cleaner.

I did get it sighted in to my initial satisfaction. I chose my usual 21' and managed to "chase the hole" around the paper until I stopped and thought about it for a bit. Elevate the rear sight (this model features a fixed blade front sight) to raise the point of contact on the target, drift the rear sight left to move the point of impact on the paper to the left. Don't know why this continues to seem counter-intuitive to me. As I started to say, I finally managed a reasonably consistent ~1" group at 21', after allowing for repeated stoppages to clear FTE's. :) Not too bad from a new gun, and one in a model that is itself new to me as a shooter (it's surprising how much a minor-seeming difference like the thickness of the grip or even the tactile feel of different grip materials can have on basic sight acquisition and grip mechanics, isn't it?). I've put off buying a 9mm for at least 35 years now; even with the to-be-expected new gun quibbles I'm thinking that was one of my less well thought out decisions.

I'll be going back to the range on Friday (that was the justification for the day off, remember?); we'll try it again then. Maybe some pictures too if I remember to bring an actual camera instead of just my crappy cell phone. It's not a question of "blog standards" you understand, I just want a clear enough picture that I can tell what I'm looking at next year.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

What Is This Privacy You Speak Of?

JayG has a post up from yesterday about the modern HR penchant for basing employment decisions at least in part on social media activity:
Right off the bat, let's dispense with the obligatory: A private business has every right to ask this of potential employees. It's short-sighted, doesn't address the real issues, and has every possibility of turning the "Streisand Effect" up to 11, but they still have the right to do it. It's a pretty stark reminder of the lousy economy, though, that a company could even consider such an invasive, intrusive policy.

It's understandable why a company would want a peek at a potential employee's social page. Someone prone to drinking binges, blackouts, frequent absences - or maybe even owning a firearm - might be the type of person they'd like to exclude from their searches. Maybe they're just looking for indications that their potential employee posts a lot during work hours - or rides a motorcycle/practices a different religion/prefers Glocks to 1911s...

He asks an intriguing question though:
I was under the impression that companies cannot ask about marital status, sexual orientation, children, religion, etc. in a job interview. Since all of this information is quite likely to be part of one's social profile, wouldn't that run afoul of the rules that already govern interview questions? I wonder what a company that asked for a Facebook password would say if asked "Are you asking my my marital status?"...

Any one?

In turn, Phil Bowermaster asks, "Why Be Surprised?" in his take on the same issue:
Am I just being cyncial? Once we established that they can make you pee in a cup, didn’t everything else pretty much came along for the ride?

In a comment to Phil's post, I wrote:
Here’s another business opportunity – delineate and promote a “bright line” distinction between personal and professional data and create a site that publicly reports on and shames companys that ignore the difference. Done right, said employers will quickly find themselves holding steadily less-well attended job fairs. Those that make the correct correlation between these two events will likely make the necessary change; the rest will have their customers taken over by their successors.

Does this seem a reasonable response to anyone else?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Act Of Valor

Went to see the movie Act Of Valor today; I encourage all to see this film in a cinema if at all possible.

A reasonably straightforward telling of an entirely plausible-seeming (to me, at least) threat with all of the to-be-expected combat action people have come to associate with SEALS and Special Forces generally. HALO jumps, air insertion of SEAL Tactical Assault Boats, the STAB boats in riverine action, it's all included and beautifully filmed to convey both an accurate image as well as the impact caused. I found the commo discipline as well as the shooting under stress and movement (specifically, the reloading and communicating between fellow teammates) to add an additional layer of suspension of disbelief.

I suppose that the predictable-seeming plot point that occurs towards the end of the film (no spoilers here - spend the money for this one, it's worth it) is more than justified by the final on-screen scene. It stops being a screen writers dodge when you start to count up all the names of those who actually did just that sort of thing at some point during these last ten years of war.

Go see this movie; buy a copy when it becomes available on DVD, you will want to watch it more than once, I promise. And if you don't have to hold back the tears just a little at the end, I don't want to know you.

Update: Via Glen Reynolds, this is no surprise.