Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Keeping Up With The Tam

During my wander through the blogs I ordinarily follow this fine Christmas day (and, to be completely honest, to fill in the time waiting for the laundry to finish), I checked in with TamaraK - as you do - and read this

Now, I already have one of these in .22 caliber and really wasn't expecting to get into .177 also, but given the steeply discounted asking price, I simply couldn't convince myself not to hit the "one-click purchase" button.

Amazon is pleased to inform me it (with the spare "5 shot pellet clip" and can of pellets) will get here this coming Saturday.  I guess I'm going to have to gather up some getaroundtoit and put this together.  I've lived in this apartment complex for 12 years, it's time to test the neighbors patience see if all of those on-time rent checks bought me any special consideration.  There's a strip of grass that runs along a fence line that ends in an L-shaped corner behind the maintenance building and is right outside my apartment door.  The perfect 50' semi-secluded spot for some quiet Sunday afternoon practice I think.  We'll see how many others agree soon enough.

So, thanks (again) Tam, and Merry Christmas to us both.

'tis the season ...

Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Waiting For Godot A Title

Or, let's talk more about this premise.

What I have is, a "Mexican-American drug lord" who needs to find a place for his money that he can't get into Mexico (or his foreign bank accounts) any more.  I have "Our Hero" who pitches him the idea of funding a series of Krav Maga schools around the state of Texas which are intended to serve as the basis for his personal intelligence gathering and political action arm within the state and country.  Each school will have a specific group attached who are all students and have semi-legitimate jobs to satisfy public and official appearances.  The group members real job will be to identify all law enforcement and political office holders within a specified region, with the intended purpose of coercing or killing them "come the day".

I've settled on the group size as being: a buddy (comprised of two individuals working as a dedicated pair), who are members of a (fire)team of two buddies (four individuals, working in dedicated pairs), who in turn make up a class (two teams who attend KM class as a unit), who together with five other classes comprise a school (and are the basic operational unit formation for each intelligence gathering effort - several more are implied to be in operation throughout the state).  School members have strict rules; no gang signifiers in their personal lives (no tattoos or distinct social or other behavior that LE identifies as being gang associated), no direct action of an illegal nature (they don't deal or transport drugs or commit other crimes, but are familiar with those who do and report on them to the drug lord - act as his criminal QA inspectors as it were), work to achieve accentless language skills, work to acquire KM and other professional qualifications and certifications, acquire quality firearms and other weapons and become accredited as instructors/educators in their use.  There will be others, and every team will consist of a buddy of two females (paired together).  School members all have a business or self-employment job that serves as a means to wash drug money as well as provide the individual members with social and legal legitimacy, bicycle repair and sales, automotive maintenance and customization, almost anything IT, car wash, self storage, and maker-type manufacturing businesses (indeed, all of them will have some capability and professional capacity for doing so).

Our Hero is probably going to be more of an anti-hero in nature (and certainly in behavior) and is the KM school founder (not sure yet how the drug money gets legitimized - may resort to handwavium as needed) and is completely in the know; he proposes this concept initially as a means to a socio-political end as a result of his personal conviction that "anarchy approaches" or some such schiesse.  The KM school legitimately teaches firearms use and defense as part of the curriculum for "more advanced" students (which is an effective means of access to the regional law enforcement community) as well as offering CHL training.

While not all members of the School are Hispanic (Our Hero isn't for one), most are and there will be a good deal of blatant racism displayed, not to mention sexism and all the rest of the PC cant (which sums up the basic attitude toward such belief within the School).  School members learn/display respect for each other (if in a quite disturbing fashion), but this is based upon either a personal relationship or an "us vs them" context.

I want to make the initial meeting between Our Hero and the drug lord believable, but I'm not writing a "how to .." manual here.  I'm attracted to them knowing (or at least knowing of) each other many years prior when both were either members of the US .mil or, and I like this better, both were employed as contractors working out of the US following their separate stints in the service (again, many years earlier - both are older men).  In late-summer 2009, Our Hero discovers the whereabouts and legal circumstances of the drug lord from online news sources and gets in touch with him, again online.  At the subsequent meeting, the initial proposition was presented and developed over the succeeding moths and years.  That's the opening, I think, and events resume in the summer of 2015.  I need to start building bios for both men (names would certainly be less ungainly) and what was Google Maps/ Earth like in early summer 2009?

That's the start of a workable outline I think.

Monday, December 9, 2013

And Now For Something Completely Different ...

... and maybe even original.

I've decided to try an experiment on this blog.  Before we get to all that, first some back story.

In the last couple months (since my return from Oregon in October), I was invited by Amazon.com to become one of the reviewers of stories under development by them. 

Frankly I have no real idea why they did such a thing.

The barely-restrained conspiracy theorist in me is certain it all has to do with the frequency with which I take Jeff Bezos' name in vain here and elsewhere around the web.  And, while there may actually be something to that, my somewhat more firmly grounded suspicion is that someone at Amazon decided there just might be something to the proposition that the amateur opinion is the audience and figured anyone who buys as many books and DVD's - and presumably reads/watches them - as I do, probably has an arguably informed opinion to offer there-on. 

In any event, I accepted and thereby discovered Amazon Studios, which is their in-house effort to create original content for them to produce and sell.  I should note that the two Amazon-related activities aren't directly linked to each other, in that you don't have to be an aspiring story teller to talk trash offer an opinion about anyone else's story.   Or, at least, I didn't; I was offered the review thing before signing up to have my own efforts put to the question. 

Someday.

Whereby we close the bloggish circle.  I'm having difficulty getting started with the story I want to tell first, so I'm going to try telling (at least a good portion of) a different story here on the blog.  To that end I've created a new label, "my original fiction", which I will be using exclusively for this project.  My hope is to use the Blogger format I'm reasonably familiar with to develop the basic writers habit of writing something every day.  Yes, I know, how is that different from ordinary blogging?  Well, aside from the obvious distinction that this will be deliberate fiction, as inflammatory as what will appear is going to be, I hope to avoid at least some of the sillier accusations and suspicions that might otherwise arise if it wasn't labeled as explicit fiction.

I expect to write as much about my experience of the process of writing a story as I do actually telling a story.  [It's my blog; go write your own if you want it done differently.]   As introductory, what follows is my not-too-terribly-original premise:

At some undeclared point in the near future, there will be an explicit effort made to take advantage of the current societal discontent within the United States.  This effort will comprise an organized group of criminals funding the creation of a "resistance" (based rather loosely on my understanding of the experience of the French efforts during WW II) aimed at continuing their (probably drug related - at least in part) criminal enterprise, whatever the political climate within the US.

All details subject to authorial whim and inspiration, but I intend to use real people's names in a "ripped from the headlines" style of story context.  If you are also a blogger and wouldcare to risk your reputation'nt mind having your name taken in vain also, please let me know; one of the many problems I'm experiencing is coming up with character names (the bios are actually much less trouble - more on that anon).

Topics I hope to excite discussion on will include: story formatting, character development and presentation, quirks and idiosyncrasies of some specific aspect of life (law, motorcycle mechanics, welding, what-have-you, etc, etc, etc.), proper grammar ... well, you get the idea.  As to the story itself, it is what it will be; I kinda don't care if you care for it or not, and I'm quite confident you can write a better one, but I want to tell this one so as to get good enough to tell the one that's sloshing around inside my head and won't come out yet.  If I offend you (as seems likely) I'm not all that sorry.  Its not that I want to especially, it's just in the nature of this particular story, that's all.

More tomorrow ...

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Yes, and ...?

Following the links at Tams (query; since she quit smoking, does she still blog from the porch?) always leads to good reads; in this case by extension.  One Jason Diaz manages to shat his Pampers all over the digital pages of  Gizmodo.  Leaving for a separate discussion Jason's astoundingly naive assumptions ("China unilaterally declared the area as "restricted space" last Saturday, following a long territorial dispute over its islands, now administered by Japan."  my bold), I turned to the BBC for an adult viewpoint on the story.

It seems the US saw no reason to alter what can be reasonably assumed to have been a long planned (and unarmed) aircrew training flight that included a stint over the disputed oceanic area between Japan, Taiwan and the PRC.  The fact that the USAF doesn't see any reason to bend over for comply with some other countries last minute diplomatic minuet is hardly one for dismay or actual concern.  Should others wish to characterize this activity as "taunting" won't bother the Air Scouts too terribly much, I'm sure.  And, should the PRC send up some of its air assets the next time, we can all find out just how much of US stealth technology got sold to them by US contractors nearly two decades ago (that being a frequently chosen method to give international notice of your side having quietly deployed a technology advancement, after all).  Two things seem a given after all this; one is that you do not send up a BUFF if you intend to display even the least bit of stealth to your activities.  Two, Gizmodo needs to hire a writer with more than loose stool in his trousers.

While some adult staff member at Gizmodo changes Jason's nappy, one hopes there will be a stern talking to administered regarding the consequences of his continuing with his unthinking assertions of others agitprop.  Like, maybe, having to find some other organization to assign a staff member to wipe him after he presses "publish" on his computer.  Possibly to include introduction to the concept of including just a bit of historical background as part of his story "blog" submissions in future.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Open Forum On Open Carry

BobS has a long and detailed post about Open Carry efforts (and gun owner response to that and other issues recently).  Go and read it - seriously, it's way too long for any sort of excerpt to do it justice.

For once, I got first reply (one of the occasional benefits of working nights - you're still active when an early post goes up):
In all three of your main points I think the single greatest objection I can offer is that so many Open Carry activism efforts don’t come off as appearing especially inviting to the uninvolved (who have to be considered the primary audience for such demonstrations). Especially when the activists taking part in the event know that the opposition is going to do their best to misconstrue things, doing an event without making your message the lead story reported simply ends up not making your effort (and more importantly, your message) inviting to the uncommitted – and easy meat for the actively opposed.
If an Open Carry political activism event isn’t structured such that the casual observer can’t immediately tell that a political rally of some description is taking place, then you’re doing it wrong. And, in my opinion (and apparently many others), the Starbucks and Blue Mesa Grill efforts are both prime examples of that obvious message failure. This was not the intent, of course, but political activism is the second most common situation where the adage about making a first impression once is really important. Having the women and children direct their message (about gun safety and fun perhaps) directly to the Mothers Demand Action group would have been much more difficult for opposition efforts to disparage, particularly if an active on-line media feed was being transmitted live (or in predetermined segments via You Tube for example) while the event was happening. If your message is out first, opposition media efforts take on a less appealing appearance to the non-involved than otherwise.
Speaking for myself, the simple fact that firearms have been successfully stigmatized is simply a reality that must be directly countered for any political activism in favor of firearms ownership/use to succeed with the general (presumably non-firearms owning) public. Added to that, a political rally must look like a political rally to even the most casual observer. Unfortunately, Open Carry Texas hasn’t much succeeded in those two aspects yet, and certainly not in the two instances you cite in this post. Finally, pointing out that past efforts haven’t driven people into active opposition to your cause isn’t the objective – adding them to your belief is, and the data you present doesn’t show that to have happened at all. Sorry to be such a downer Bob, but not driving away your customers isn’t the same as winning them over (which is what activism is all about).

If you’re still open to suggestion after all that, consider having your members contact every politician of any description in Texas and invite them (and their family members) to participate in a gun safety and shooting outing, and offer them both limited editorial input to the resulting video content and use of the final recording for their future campaigning purposes if they wish. Open Carry Texas can be the low key sponsor for the event (and retain direct control of the message being presented) and the politician gets unique campaign material for the next election cycle. Win/win that the political opposition has a much more difficult time misconstruing to the general public (they are the political opposition, of course they think it all sucks – absolutely no one expects otherwise :) ). Politicians discussing gun safety (and seen on camera practicing same) along with specific aspects of Texas law regarding gun carry and ownership would seem a natural subject as part of any political campaign, so attracting volunteers shouldn’t be all that difficult (especially if you can show an example video – so make one of your members playing all the roles). Do make sure the pols understand that first showing of the video will be on Open Carry Texas’ You Tube channel (which already exists, right?).
 Social media is certainly a double edged implement, but using it to your advantage allows you both the direct use of the video as well as making "free" content for others to use in their media efforts (to their own purposes, so recognize who you're dealing with when you hand out your stuff).  Being politically active requires a level of vigilance at a degree of detail that most people (including me) aren't willing to exert ordinarily.  I wish Open Carry political advocates every success and sincerely hope my suggestions and criticisms are taken in that spirit (and even prove helpful).  I would very much like to see the day when people openly wearing a firearm is simply ordinary behavior indulged in by some people - and nothing more noteworthy than that.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Crown Him!

Went to the dentist again today.  Went very well procedurally, but one of the hygienists was still relating the story of how one of the partners live-trapped a marauding raccoon and took it "to the woods" recently (the treatment suites all overlook a wooded area with stuff and feeders for the local squirrel population).  So I mentioned to my guy, "Yeah, and Those Woods are where he introduced Rocky Raccoon to Mr. 22".

We thought this was giggle worthy, but the assistant (who is really good at her job BTW and takes my calling her a "professional caulking gunner" with more restraint than that deserves) got all outraged we would even think that of the other man.  Who can be heard snorting with laughter in the next suite all the while.  :)

It's going to the dentist, but I'm going to miss all this once Obamacare kicks in here in Texas.  My guys don't pump-up the prices to milk the insurance cow, so once my health insurance gets "improved" for me this hilarity will be entirely out of my own pocket I expect.  I'm gonna hafta work on my stand-up ... maybe we can work out an exchange of services deal for part of the work.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Why Is The BATFE Still Denying NFA Transfers?

Just back from my local friendly merchant of death (and the only local NFA Class III dealer) who informs me my two suppressors are still being held hostage because the BATFE refuses to issue transfer authorizations - between manufacturers-to-dealers as well as dealers-to-private-parties.

The "government shutdown" is over, what's the justification now (other than because we can)?


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Cheated Death Again

Flew back home from my vacation to Oregon this evening - right in front of the thunderstorms and inches of rain.

No problems from TSA or the airlines, despite my carrying several firearms along with my other baggage. It is important to allow sufficient time for the system that has grown into place at airports to function. If you do then you'll spend an hour or so cooling your heels 'till your flight departure more than likely, but have the time to deal with unexpected delays should they occur. Having the capability to research airline and regulatory requirements beforehand in such an easy and extensive fashion sure does make traveling a less stressful and more enjoyable experience, even on an economy (well, sort of ...) budget.

Had a great visit with my son and his family and am already beginning thinking about a more elaborate visit next year - perhaps I can convince my daughter and S-i-L to take part too, even if only for a few days. I'd like to see the cousins together, not to mention my children.

Laundry tomorrow, then back to work on Monday. Such is life here in "the future".

Thursday, October 24, 2013

In Commemoration - Again

Upon the occasion of my 60th birthday - This.

Horizons are just the boundaries of your existential context; stretch them or pursue the alternative.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Despicable He

Via R. S. McMain I learn the basic details of how President Obama has decided to treat American armed service personnel.

In a word: despicably.

First off, Pentagon ordered to freeze death benefits:
"Unfortunately, as a result of the shutdown, we do not have the legal authority to make death gratuity payments at this time," said Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, a Defense Department spokesman. "However, we are keeping a close eye on those survivors who have lost loved ones serving in the Department of Defense."
House lawmakers, though, are planning to vote Wednesday on a bill to restore funding for the payments. And Speaker John Boehner on Tuesday accused the Obama administration of needlessly withholding the money.
Boehner claimed a bill passed by Congress and signed by the president last week to pay America's troops should have given the Pentagon the latitude "to pay all kinds of bills, including this."
 Followed by this:
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki is spelling out some of the dire consequences for veterans of a long-term government shutdown, with about 3.8 million veterans not getting a disability check next month if the shutdown continues into late October.

Shinseki says some 315,000 veterans and 202,000 surviving spouses and dependents would also see pension payments stopped ...
In some areas, like health care delivery, there are fewer adverse effects. Congress provided funding for VA's health services a year in advance, so veterans can continue getting care at hospitals and clinics.
As Commander-in-Chief, President Obama has direct and undeniable responsibility for these decisions being taken and implemented in this manner.

I remember some of my colleagues declaring "We won!" last November; I ask them now, is this what you thought we won?  And, we have over three more years in which to look forward to celebrating the further antics of Despicable He.

Would they were only coming to an actual theater rather than played out in the streets near us instead.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Open Carry In Texas

BobS is hosting a discussion on OC as that applies to the peculiarities of Texas.  Some good stuff in the comments, including this questionable analysis:
I think the principal factor in the principle in question is (or at least ought to be), does the action result in attraction of others to the principle being demonstrated for? IOW does what we do attract others in support of that thing or idea? There’s a strategy involved here which IMO ought to focus more on making uninvolved people aware of their shared loss of rights and less on our defiance of those rights being abused.

To that end, I think the whole “long guns carried to someone’s place of public business” thing is overly confrontational – thus not attractive behavior to uninvolved fellow citizens – and overly done to boot. The Starbucks type of gathering might still be be an excellent locale for an OC empty holster demonstration, but these need to be more than just a bunch of (mostly) guys wearing empty holsters (which is great political symbolism BTW). There needs to be some actual political activism along with the eye-catching display of manly fashion accessories; signs, placards, maybe some brochures or flyers, perhaps an actual dedicated website in support of the political principle being demonstrated for.

Toting an AR/AK around town is just threatening/annoying unless it is as an obvious prop in support of a political thesis (say, a rifle with a sign in support of 2A attached for instance).
Here’s a specific suggestion: arrange a “activism date” with some friends at a public place where firearms aren’t expressly prohibited, print up a dozen flyers for each attendee to pass out in support of open carry legislation in Texas, everyone OC an empty holster (perhaps a few carry rifles/shotguns with signs attached that mention “human rights being denied to Texans”), solicit signatures for a petition to the legislature in support of OC legislation in the next session (doing so online thru the afore mentioned website would be best here) and invite the local media – being ready to play to their particular format interests especially.
Admittedly, all of this requires a bit more effort than casually getting a cup of iffy coffee while scaring the white people proles other customers.
Most of all, what is needed is a continuous sense of change in the activity/venue involved so as to imply a continuous advancement in the message being delivered – which in turn implies a reduction in resistance to the rights being exercised in a normal, regular fashion. No, the latter doesn’t logically follow the former – its politics; emotion and a personal feeling of common perception are the driving factors.

In short, OC supporters need to become an actual political organization instead of a gaggle of well-intended but slightly scary individuals. Toward that end, association with an established organization is the key. There are a number of TSRA members here in the Tyler area (here’s one with pictures from one of their recent events; also here) that have staged events over this past summer. Finding a Texas business to structure group formation around is what is desired; maybe these guys would be interested – I doubt I’m the only member who reads your blog.
The point at issue for me about Open Carry activism here in Texas is that there doesn’t seem to be that much outright objection to the idea of people carrying guns comfortably per se, but there is a lot of lethargy about building the legal and social hoops necessary for that change to happen. And, Yes, the hoops are necessary – politics, remember? Laws, courts, judges, district attorneys, cops – there are a lot of people who are already invested in the status quo ante, and people are generally lazy about doing anything different to what they are already comfortable/familiar with.

So, we need to build an organization that provides the support infrastructure so our individual acts of 2A activism can be easily combined into a state-wide effort, that attracts general citizen notice and acceptance (if not outright support, at least no resistance) of the political principle being pursued.
Prior to all that spontaneously coming into being, maybe just individuals going around openly wearing an empty holster all the time really is the simplest way to start. Not sexy or confrontational, kinda sad really, and there’s the hook; “it’s sad so many Texans have there human rights so badly denied them, don’t you agree?” If it’s not only about icky guns, people see opportunity for their pet interest too, and as long as they don’t oppose 2A rights/legislation we win.
 My objection to many previous OC events (notoriously at Starbucks) is that they appear to focus on the defiance of existing gun laws (or maybe just defiance to the existence of those laws) and not on gaining adherents to changing those laws.  If the existence of overly restrictive gun laws is your political point, giving the (however metaphorical) finger to those who abide by those laws doesn't seem the best possible means to actually changing (and ultimately doing away with) those laws.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Dum Ass Duz Dallas

From the Dallas Observer, the alternative newspaper/blog of events in-and-around Dallas County, comes this story:
"Two neighbors hear gunfire coming from the alley in the 10300 block of Plummer Drive. They round the corner to find a man with a gun standing over another man [subsequently identified as convicted tweeker and suspected burglar Jerry Wayne Hale]. When the neighbors announce that they've called 911 ..."
 That's not the dumb ass part:
"The first two officers to arrive saw [57 y/o William] Hall standing over a body. They order him to drop his gun, but he moves behind a privacy fence and out of sight. One thinks he sees him go into the adjacent house.
 
Three other officers, Joshua Wilson, Daniel Summers, and Julian McDaniel, arrive. They see the body lying in a pool of blood in the alley and move to provide aid. As they approach, one of the first pair of officers to arrive runs toward them, yelling that the gunman is behind him.
They turn to see Hall emerging from some overgrown bushes. They tell him to drop the gun. He racks the slide on the weapon and points it at the cops. Wilson, Summers, and McDaniel open fire."
And there you have it.  Even though the cops likely didn't roll up in their new armored assault vehicle (because a war on things-people-do-that-the-rest-of-us-really-don't-like-very-much is such a trivial and pointless distinction after all this time - crime always deserves the Catholic Option), stepping out of the bushes and racking the slide of your pistol is always the preferred option when approaching police.  Dumb ass.

In case there was any remaining question or ambiguity regarding the outcome of events:
"Both Hall and Jerry Wayne Hale were pronounced dead at the scene."
Clearly a failure to abide by gun control rules 2 and 4 because sometimes your target is willing and able to shoot at you!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Shoot, or No Shoot?

I had a disturbing thought while at work last night; how to tell the difference between an Open Carry advocate and a Somali Shopping Mall Suicide Squad member?  Before the latter starts shooting of course, as that tends to be both a bit of a giveaway and way too late to be helpful.

The last few days revelations about the makeup of the terrorist squad (at least three US nationals, one Canadian and an as yet undetermined number of UK citizens) have been tentatively identified as active shooters in the days-long killing spree in and around the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya (scroll down here for numerous links to reports on this and the terror attack generally).  All of which puts paid to the single most difficult-to-overcome aspect of putting such a terror action into effect in a N. American setting; the vast majority of active jihadists can't blend into N. American society well enough (or for long enough) to put together such an operation.  Being able to match a few foreign jihadists with a native jihadist overcomes that obstacle and vastly simplifies the logistics of organizing such an attack.  If nothing else, the Westgate Mall attack proves the viability of that tactic.

Which brings me the long way around to the Open Carry activists who carry long guns at public venues.

Yes, if doing so was legal before the Kenya terror attack it is presumably still legal now.  And, No, I'm not accusing anybody of aiding any enemy to freedom (religious or otherwise).  I am asking if this particular method of raising public awareness about our rights and freedoms might not be better retired from active use, given the general visual similarity between the terrorists and the activists as they enter a business or other open-to-the-public locale.

It seems a virtual certainty that there will be an over reaction (or just an ordinary mistake) by somebody should there continue to be individual or small group efforts to demonstrate in support of 2ns Amendment rights by openly carrying rifles and/or shotguns at non-shooting related venues, particularly as people become familiar with the images of the terrorists entering the mall in Kenya with their weapons openly displayed in a non overtly threatening manner.  Just like OC activists are prone to do.  Even if its just the cops responding to a panic'd call of "terrorists like in Kenya", the outcome of that can't be good for convincing people to consider supporting 2A efforts themselves.  And if an actual gunfight breaks out ...?

A basic tenet of strategy is to use the tactic(s) that offer least potential advantage to the enemy while still advancing your own position.  It's time for Open Carry activists to employ a different tactic to demonstrate in support of 2nd Amendment rights, there's just too much potential advantage to be gained by the opposition (not to mention the actual enemy) from continuing to do so with rifles and shotguns.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Circular Firing Squad ...

... Or showing the love, warts and all?

BobS. has a review and critique type post up on the recent Starbucks response to Open Carry activism in their stores.  He gives all sides a close look and asks useful questions.  You should go read.

My response in his comments:
I think some of what you point out is driven by the impulse not to improve or critique the opposition efforts. Most writers I’ve read on this topic have chosen to focus their commentary/suggestions on their own side of the issue as represented by the OC activists and how they might/ought to improve their efforts on all our behalf.

There is also a steady undercurrent of fear within the pro-2A community that makes these discussions ramp up quite quickly into some pretty brutal arguments. It isn’t all that long ago that the majority opinion was that 2A was all but dead as a practical matter and there exists a strong “flinch” amongst older shooters about overt political activism as a result. Since so many of the younger modern shooters don’t really have the memory of adult experience of practicing the sport under those conditions it’s almost a given there are going to be strong reactions against efforts that threaten any return to those conditions (such as giving anti-2A efforts any easy point of social disruption upon which to leverage there efforts).
I look at all this as a healthy way to continue to dispute anti-2A efforts while simultaneously strengthening our fundamental pro-rights position. The anti’s aren’t the audience; all the rest of humanity who hunger for greater individual opportunity and personal responsibility are. Our public disputes place the strength of our position on public display better than any possible paid advertising could.
 As we in the US continue our debates over the means and methods of enacting our rights, which often extend into disputes regarding the basic meaning of those rights themselves, we all ought to keep firmly in mind that we deliberately (if often seemingly unknowingly) do so in possibly the most public forum possible.  This is a good thing in and of itself (as it reinforces the very concept of "rights") and also encourages the interest and attraction of those who don't experience the reality of our contentions in their daily lives.  I will not argue for the idea that we should alter our arguments as a result, only that we should acknowledge the presence of the audience at our debates by presenting our points and contentions in as clear and open a fashion as we are each able.

And then go have fun shooting safely together after.

Update 1:12 PM, same day:  this from No Lawyers - Only Guns And Money seems pertinent. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

We're All Going To Die!

And with that bit of common sense out of the way, can we all stop panicing?  I'm the last person to object to over-the-top hyperbole to make a point on one's blog, but all the wailing about last week's Presidential Executive Orders mostly seem to assume we elected Obama to the office of God instead of merely President.

First off, both executive orders deal with congressionally mandated entities; the President doesn't have the authority to alter either acts of legislation without obtaining Congress' active assistance in doing so.  The Civilian Marksmanship Program is now a 501(c) (3) organization with a federal charter from the US Congress.  The President can order a freeze on re-importation of FMS firearms, but the rest of the CMP's chartered activity remains unaffected by my reading of the order (on a personal note, I have never bought a firearm through the CMP, but I've bought ammo in multi-hundred round lots).  Further, the effect of this latest executive order is exactly nil on the existing firearms CMP has for sale not to mention all the privately held examples people already own.  With all that in mind, just how reasonable is it to declare "the end of the National Matches" as a result?  I agree that the CMP business model is potentially severely impacted by this executive action, assuming Congress very uncharacteristically doesn't get all huffy about executive office infringement upon legislative prerogatives.  As regards the Presidential bootprints on Congressional charters, the Congress has yet to be heard from (and we all have a role to play there).

Secondly, my response to the executive order regarding NFA trusts is here.  I recommend the same course of action to all my fellow citizens.

President Obama's gift for empty bluster is certainly a matter of national concern.  I suggest a considered response that leverages the efforts of one part of our national government in support of its (and our) interests will better ensure his bluster stays that way (at least as regards our civil rights).  To that end, activities like this are much more on point and effective than they are seemingly credited with being.  Recent thoughts on influencing the political process in the context of gun rights are here.  Declaring defeat plays no part in my thinking and neither should it do so in yours.

And for the record, TSRA is not the only organization working to support gun rights in Texas - there's a decent argument to be made that they too often work in opposition to gun rights that don't directly involve National Match-related shooting (Open Carry of more than rifles for only one example).  If TSRA would support and hold IDPA/USPSA style matches for rifles (3 Gun is an obvious example here) I for one would be much more attracted to TSRA membership.  TSRA getting behind and pushing the idea of incorporating the NRA's Eddie Eagle gun safety program in all Texas schools along with sanctioned small bore (.22 caliber rifles and pistols) competition between all Texas high schools would offer numerous avenues by which to attract added membership in the group.  Having a focus on National Match shooting is an admirable and even a necessary ultimate goal for TSRA to build membership around; excluding all other shooting in pursuit of that goal confines the organization to the fringe of Texas politics and lifestyle, which is a pity.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Cha-Cha-Cha-Cha-Changes

Bob S. from over Dallas way lists the changes to Texas gun laws that came out of the most recent legislative session.  Of particular note was SB299 getting the Governor's autograph; this makes explicit that there must be an obvious element of intent to having your pistolen be seen by another.  The whole "print" thing was not part of the law as it was, but an inadvertent display got you the same response as waving your gat around in the Brookshires parking lot would.  Now, not so much, which is an important step toward getting more widespread approval of (or at least comfort with) the idea of open carry.

SB864 "Reduces the number of hours needed for a new concealed handgun license to 4 to 6 hours.", and HB48 "... does away with the class room and demonstration of proficiency requirement to renew a Concealed Handgun License."  The class time for a new license is cut in half and renewal is now just an online written test via the DPS website.  And the lack of any Class "A" misdemeanors or any felonies, of course.  :)  Bob made the point about a lot of instructors not liking these changes, which caused me to comment:
There’s a common perception that class length correlates to class price. Also, a shorter class time requires the instructor actually have some skill at presenting the information in the time available, something that hasn’t been as much of a factor up to now.
It’s still a legislatively mandated sellers market, so I’m sure even the worst of the whiners will adapt easily enough. Your point about student responsibility is true enough, but the same could be just as truthfully said about high school too.
Mad props to Bob S. for rounding up all this data, but the citizens of Texas are all over the place when it comes to guns (despite the seeming overwhelming belief to the contrary outside the state) and I tried to make the point that making political change is necessarily a gradual process if you want to avoid turmoil:
I’ve gradually come to the opinion that CHL is basically just a form of political liability insurance.

People have been trained (mostly via entertainment media – who get it wrong even worse than the news media does) to be afraid of another person wearing a gun openly. CHL avoids the in your face nature of open carry and establishes some (however minimal) standard citizens must demonstrate before going around strapped. This gets the pols off the hook electorally and allows the rest of the populace to not be disturbed by the obvious presence of more-capable-than-they people around them.
At some point the default position of fear will modify and open carry will become much more legislatively possible, but politics is always a process (and nothing is ever final as long as the legislature can come back into session :) ). I’m sure Texas will eventually arrive at open carry, but the need for political liability insurance will make that a more gradual process than any of us will likely be all that pleased about. It’s just how we make change happen without breaking things.
Getting people to adopt the belief that they are going to have to pass judgement on the person instead of whatever tool they may be wearing is going to require a pretty extensive period of adjustment.  Working out how to do that in a mutually acceptable fashion won't speed things up either.  But that's basically what will be required for open carry to become "normal", that we all ignore what the person has on and concentrate on the person's actions instead.  Once that is achieved, people actually complete the adjustment pretty quickly if events in Arizona in recent years are any measure.

Gradual modification of common beliefs through the political process necessarily will require acceptance by all of us of the lethargic nature of the legislative process itself.  Frustrating, but there it is.

Friday, August 30, 2013

About That "Trust Gun Loophole"

Last night's Squirrel Report podcast ended up being mostly (there was also boob glue) about President Obama signing an executive order that:
The Obama administration is also proposing a federal rule to stop those who would be ineligible to pass a background check from skirting the law by registering a gun to a corporation or trust. The new rule would require people associated with those entities, like beneficiaries and trustees, to undergo the same type of fingerprint-based background checks as individuals if they want to register guns.
With such inspiration as this, what's a citizen to do?

I can't speak for you, but this citizen created a new NFA trust about 1:00pm CDT today, over the phone (go to www.tlsnfa.com or call (877) 448-6839 and ask for Nancy Blum and you can do the same thing for yourself).  There are no changes to the legal requirements for establishing an NFA trust. 

Let me repeat that: THERE ARE NO CHANGES TO THE LEGAL REQUIREMENTS FOR ESTABLISHING AN NFA TRUST.

Yet, of course.  The BATFE has not issued any changes to the established NFA regulatory process, President Obama or no.

So Alan, get yours now while the getting is still good.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Anniversaries and such ...

It is the fashion to note the achievement of ... what, still breathing?  Tam makes note of her doing so for for the past 8 years today, and very happy I am that she has chosen to do so in such an entertaining and informative way, too.

I, on the other hand, don't get all that wound up about all that; it's breathing, I've been doing it mostly successfully for almost 60 years, for the last 7+ here.  So, duly noted and observed, I guess.  Now, if I can just figure out this whole "content" notion, maybe I'll be on to something.  :)

Congratulations Tam, very well done and a standard for the rest of us to attain to.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Naval Gazing Power

Richard Fernandez has written a convincing description of why and how the Obama administration might be in the process of responding to the alleged chemical/biological attacks reported to have occurred in Syria recently:
The administration is appears convinced that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons against its own population, according to the NYT and may be moving to chastise it. The BBC however cautions that there may never be any evidence actually the chemical weapons violation. “UK Foreign Secretary William Hague warned that evidence could have been tampered with, degraded or destroyed in the five days since the attack.”
With the BBC innoculating the administration against future media accusations of ‘faked’ WMD evidence by declaring any proof imperceptible in advance, the NYT describes the administration’s possible game plan. “WASHINGTON — As President Obama weighs options for responding to a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria, his national security aides are studying the NATO air war in Kosovo as a possible blueprint for acting without a mandate from the United Nations.”

Wretchard then goes on to link a piece at medium.com by David Axe in which are described specific US Navy assets and capabilities well able to destroy-in-place any war-fighting assets the Syrian government might currently possess.

Which causes me to ask (again); why couldn't the US do essentially the exact same thing to the still-not-quite nuclear armed Iran too?

It isn't as though the Obama administration has any intent to actually invade either place (and what follows is key, so pay attention), nor is there any need to to achieve the strategic objective of denying development/usage of "weapons of mass destruction" to aggressor states (or anyone we don't happen to like all that much really).  There is no expectation of US troops occupying Syrian territory, only that US .mil air assets destroy Syrian offensive war-making facilities and equipment.  Entropy naturally follows as a result.

Why isn't doing the same exact thing to Iranian nuclear (and all the rest of the arsenal as long as we're about it) development and deployment facilities and equipment equally justifiable under the precise same political rationalizations evident in the Syrian situation?  Are we to believe that the Iranian pariah state is somehow magically more capable than is the regularly Russian-reinforced (or, at least, resupplied) Syrian military (not to mention the various other combatants rampaging about the Syrian territory and skies).

All of which is why I long ago decided that Iranian nukes are a strategic distraction, and worry over same a mark of advanced gullibility.  Not a tactical one note; destruction of Iranian capability is readily achievable, all of which effects the calculus of using a weapon, but nonetheless remains a minor strategic consideration.

Iran does not possess the capability to prevent the naval force described by Mr. Axe from doing to it what is apparently about to be variously gratefully received by the Syrians just any ol' day now.  Waiting for the Islamic Republic leadership to draw undeniable attention to themselves is an unconscionable failure by the American government, and has been for at least the last ten years.

OTOH, initiating the Iranian (Air) Campaign under cover of the public Syrian effort would be a bit brilliant, wouldn't it?  I know, never happen.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Jeff Bezos Bought The WaPo

... and consternation and apprehension are the most common result, with the usual helping of FUD to give the "news" a generous helping of misdirection and doubt.

I have no doubt Our Man From Amazon had a pretty clearly worked out plan for making the Washington Post a viable news reporting business venture again long before he started scrapping his pennies together to throw at the Graham family and their stock holders.  Many of the questioners and doubters seem to assume he simply must continue operating the paper in the established (and financially ruinous) fashion because that's how they get paid, don't you know.

My bet; NOT!

Just one easy example as to how to improve the print news reporting model follows:

Hire 250 bloggers around the country, 25 of which are experienced print reporters (columnists, etc) who have successfully continued the practice on their blog.  Pay all of them $1,000/mo and the experienced reporters twice that.  The experienced reporters "supervise" the story collection/reporting efforts of 9 of the others in a given story classification (politics, style, sports, etc).  All of a story's contributing writers/bloggers receive a percentage of a stipulated payment for each story published.  If no more then 30% of the "staff bloggers" are actually in the D.C. area, then any story, however national in orientation, would have a local and regional context included if only by dint of each contributors individual perspective.

Once this model is established (say a year, maybe 18 months tops), double the staff bloggers with the new hires being located in some other country than the USA.

At which point, The Washington Post spends a couple million a month at most and has original, unique news reporting wholly independent of any other reporting operation on (or off) the planet, all of which is for sale or syndication.  Along with the usual advertising revenue.  Probably with the actual "print" (as in on actual news print paper with all that implies) version as a premium option for the gentry readership.  I also expect to see podcast coverage of on-going or specific issue reporting to become part of the post-Bezos WaPo model too; read the initial story then download the podcast to listen to on the commute to work.

Not that Jeff needs my help with any of this, but I think this easily demonstrates that the established process to ruining a news reporting business isn't his only option; also, that I really don't know what I'm talking about here.

But this guy does.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

It Must Be True, I Read It On The Internet!

Like most of Western Civilization apparently, I read Instapundit regularly.  Proving even law professors are still human, Glenn Reynolds occasionally gets it wrong (in fairness, he links a National Journal story - I don't mean to imply this is an honest example of his original writing).  While this all could prove to be a difference between filter options when straining legal gnats, I'm going with these folks who proffer a differing opinion about the legality of packin' heat in the Post Office car park here:
Legal Update: I'm sure some members are aware of news articles which are following a case coming out of a Federal District Court in Colorado. The various articles are suggesting a decision of that court now allows the possession of a firearm in the parking-lot of federal post offices nationwide. Our initial research on the decision suggests that this is simply false. First it is important to note that the ruling being referenced came from a District Court and NOT a Court of Appeals, meaning it holds no legal precedent. Also, even in this specific case, the circumstances for which the judge ruled were extremely specific and included conditions which may or may not apply in your specific case. We intend to publish a newsletter with a full legal analysis, but in the mean time, DO NOT BRING YOUR GUN INTO THE PARKING-LOT OF THE POST OFFICE IN TEXAS.
IANAL (which is why I pay those that are), so I really don't have an independently formed opinion to offer on this.  For now, better safe than sorry would seem to be the course to follow, at least until a better considered reading of this legal ruling becomes available.  I look forward to reading Glenn Reynolds further thoughts on this (along with the world of other stuff he posts daily of course).

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Just For The Record ...

I too commented on Heidi Yewman's Ms Magazine blog entry and, taking my cue from Joe Huffman I reproduce my still-awaiting-moderation comment from Sunday afternoon here:
@ Ms Yewman
(although, from the articles photo credit, I’m assuming it’s properly Mrs. Yewman)
As one of those hairy guys (who actually wasn’t at Starbucks because I think they make horrible coffee) who also routinely carries a concealed firearm (and would open carry if I could), may I offer a genuine technology user tip? Which is, whenever you find occasion to buy a device about which you are honestly ignorant (or only just not as well informed as you would desire) as to the safe/normal function of the tool, the responsibility for becoming so is on you, not the person (or website – Hello Amazon) selling it to you.
Basically, the law exists to prevent abuse of others person or property and the 2nd Amendment makes acquiring ownership of the means to do so for one’s self as widely available to Americans as one’s demonstrated willingness to avoid doing abusive things to others. Which logically extends to your ownership and use of potentially abusive tools or devices.

Tony (and your friendly neighborhood cop) had no obligation to make you safe in your ownership, you did – and do. In future, would you please make certain you understand the function and safe use of any other devices you might purchase or otherwise come into ownership of? Before you leave the sales counter? Tony will be remarkably patient and helpful in answering your questions for at least as long as the money remains in your hands instead of his. As would most other sales people I would imagine and not just those who are licensed Merchants of Death.
BTW your choice of a Glock in 9mm was indeed a good one. I encourage you to wear it with pride – not only in the quality of your property, but in the certainty of your (hopefully to be acquired real soon now) mastery of the basic laws and practices governing the safe and accurate use of it. From personal experience (as a client, not through any actual need thankfully), I recommend these fine people as a resource any gun owner should be familiar with.
Welcome, fellow gun nut. :)
Now I'm assuming she lives in the Pacific northwest region, so emulating Joe's offer of assistance learning about her new gun is right out; it's just too long a commute from there to Texas.  Oregon and Washington states both are open carry states so either is a possible setting for her project. 

I'm not prepared to second-guess her intentions in writing this series of articles, her history of anti-ownership of firearms notwithstanding.  I won't be surprised if reasoned discourse breaks out in up-coming pieces (not to mention the comments section the magazine provides), but I also wouldn't be surprised to read she discovers she both likes the actual shooting experience and discovers some measure of merit to the (from her previous experience) opposition position.  Should she do so, writing about it in some depth would certainly create added interest from the more usual readers of Ms magazine I suspect.

Whatever her personal final judgement regarding ownership of a gun might prove to be, I hope for both her and her audiences sake that she is as completely honest and forthright about her experience over these next few weeks as she can be.  Doing so, and perhaps equally importantly being seen to do so, is what will give her judgement worth and merit to all of us, so I truly wish her well in this endeavor.

Who knows, maybe she'll show up for next years Boomershoot and write about that journey of discovery. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Away Game Stats

Phil Bowermaster takes a good look at the flag as table cloth spectacle in HGTV's recent "unforced error".  I particularly like his assertion that "... concerns about flag desecration are just a highly specialized instance of political correctness" and a version of hate speech laws, which led me to opine:
I think this entire controversy can be summed up as, “How much should we regard the flag used in the HGTV presentation as a re-iteration of THE Star Spangled Banner?”
Leaving aside the whole just how large of a table are we talking here question, I think it an honest statement that Americans generally regard our national icons as possessing unique and, if not precisely sacred then at least desirable and due-of-respect, patriotic qualities. The question would seem to come down to, how far does such expression of respect extend?
If HGTV had made it explicit that the table setting was “… a piece of cloth with [flag-like] colors on it”, there wouldn’t have been anything like the response received. Far too many Americans have had family members buried beneath just such a re-iteration of a cloth with colors on it for such a casual display to be anything other than profoundly insulting to the memory of their honored dead.
At the very least, HGTV should have been aware of, and taken pains not to offend, such wide-spread and deeply felt sensibilities. As too should the commenters making light of the offense being expressed.
As if …
The Smithsonian link is an interesting source of trivia on a whole host of fronts, but what it also explicitly makes plain is that The Star Spangled Banner wasn’t always a national treasure and icon and that the progression of events that lead to it becoming so was and remains a process we Americans continue to develop. HGTV just happened to wallow all around in that process and now probably wishes it could wipe it back off again.
Cable bundling will no doubt save them, but I bet a whole bunch of network execs are calling into question the thesis all publicity is good publicity right about now. :)
 In an effort at full disclosure and all that, HGTV has announced:
"This was a regrettable use of our flag and it never should have happened,” HGTV said in a statement late Wednesday. “We sincerely apologize and have removed the post from our website. We want to assure our fans that HGTV is proud of the American flag and everything it symbolizes for our people.”
All of which pretty much only makes the whole thing worse.

I'm sure they do regret it, if only for the reasons I point out above.  Just as a quick strategic aside, when you puke on your plate in public like this, don't sweep it off the table, cover it decently with a transparent effort to make amends by pointing out something like the Smithsonian website I did and make a teachable moment of your apology.  Thank your audience for their assistance in expanding your base of knowledge and encourage them to do so when you inevitably prove your humanity (which is "to err") yet again on some future occasion.

Not bury it away from plain view and hide behind the sack cloth (which is colored how?).

Finally, and on a much more important note; Happy Birthday, Dad.  Our shared uncertainty about the impact of humanities carbon footprint on the world around us notwithstanding, asking anybody to blow out 80 candles all in one go still seems a bit much, so this instead.

Monday, May 27, 2013

What's In A Name?

Via Alan of Vicious Circle and The Squirrel Report infamy renown comes notice of the Super Hero Name Generator website.  Use your actual name or not; male, female or none-of-the-above as you like.  Fun for all!

My superhero name is: Captain Proxima

You are an alien, brought to Earth and trapped here by accident. Now, you must use your innate abilities to battle the forces of darkness, while trying to find your way home!

Star Creation - Your powers give you the ability to create miniature stars, tiny super-heated suns that you can manipulate and hurl as weapons! Now, you protect Baconville, Ohio from murderers, while also battling the evil plans of The Thirteenth Gunslinger!

My alter ego is as an itinerant short-order cook of the local namesake grilled meat and perennial contender in the State Fair annual BLT competition.  The Thirteenth Gunslinger is, of course, the secularized cousin of the 13th Mahdi, so is my arch enemy and target of my flaming bacon grease attacks.  A rasher of entertainment all around.  Yum.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Opportunity Knocketh

Soylent is a traditional food replacement and is about to become a business instead of a science project:
Crowdfunding has come a long way since kickstarter kicked it off. We looked at some figures and ultimately agreed it doesn't make much sense for us to work with them, or give them 7% of the amount raised. For kickstarter projects the vast majority of traffic does not come from the site itself, international engagement is an afterthought, and it seems like a rather trivial barrier to the success of this project.
Thankfully, we were contacted by another Y Combinator team who is running a new crowdfunding platform that seems to be a much better fit for us. They will not be taking the cut that Kickstarter would have. It's still in beta so we're testing now but it should be up in just a few days.
More importantly, the current formulation is tastier and more filling than ever, the women testers are much happier, and talks with manufacturers are underway.

Soylent (the drinkable food) is your opportunity to throw some green into the pot (so to speak) so as to create the means to bring your health and diet back into balance and well being at far less daily cost than you experience today.  Join me and a bunch of other people in creating the nutrition source for humanity for the 21st century.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Gun/Ammo Question

So, I bought the new-ish Brad Pitt shoot-em-up KillingThem Softly and can unreservedly say that if you like the typical mob violence genre than you'll enjoy this iteration too.

That said, there is a slo-mo scene where the Brad Pitt character shoots the Ray Liotta character at a traffic light with what looks like a typical example of the 1911 framed pistol (exposed hammer, apparent SAO, etc), but the spent shell casings are visibly necked down.  Not having ever owned or fired a 1911 in .38 Special, I'm guessing this is an example of one in cinematic action but thought I'd display my ignorance and put this out there.  Given that this film is adapted from the George V. Higgins novel Coogan's Trade it could very well be some comparatively obscure Euro caliber instead, but if I read the book it was too long ago now to remember.

And just in case people are really bored, is there a consensus on how well a .38 Special round out of an auto loader would perform in the assassination role (as opposed to the alternative 9mm or .45acp)?  Over kill (to include my usual bad pun)?  Kinda iffy?  Too much buck for the bang?  They didn't use one in the film, but how might a suppressor alter the dynamics of such a shot?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Choices And The Opportune Moment

I finally broke down and bought an AR-15 rifle a couple years ago (one of these) and despite Jeff Cooper's whingeing I've found it to be both an effective (I suspect that most of the good Colonels complaint was centered around the performance of the ammo available in his day as opposed to the rifle itself) and a fun rifle to shoot.  But I do take his point about the lack of oomph inherent to the caliber, so I've been thinking about getting another rifle in .308 Win as a companion piece for those occasions when you'd really be more satisfied by putting a bit more emphasis on the object of your attention.

This Saturday just past, I went to the shooting range and, along with contributing another 100 or so 9mm brass cases to the club reloading effort, I spotted one of these beautys on the "For Sale" rack (the 6803 to be precise) (oddly, the Ruger site doesn't advertise the 20 round magazines that come with the gun - ETA: that would be because it's a 10 rounder too.  Durr.) and, much fumbling about and shared if's, but's, and maybe's later, I'll be taking home my own "Gunsite Approved" Scout rifle in another couple weeks (once I have the other half of the $810 cash-in-hand).

So, what glass for .308 Win out of a carbine length barrel?  Preferably something that doesn't cost (too much) more than the gun itself does, please.  Also, any brand recommendations on a CW sling?  I expect once I've made that choice picking swivels will become obvious and, if the guy who made up the gun says that's the way to go, who am I to argue?

I first learned riflery through the adjustable rear peep/fixed front post sights on a 1903 Springfield pushing .22 LR out of a heavy target barrel that seemed to weigh a ton to my still-a-summer-shy-of-13 self.  The adjustable rear peep and front post factory-installed sights on the Ruger offer a comfortably familiar feel with a much more practical design, but I've not had good luck using elevated scope rings on other guns before this - maybe the forward mount/long eye relief design will change that.  If not, I'll have to pick one or ta'other again.  If only all of life's choices were between pleasurable options, eh?

Now, about that .308 ammo ...

Saturday, April 20, 2013

I Said It, I'll Own It

Eric S. Raymond has a post up about the Boston Marathon Bombing suspects being identified in which he notes certain Shi'a Islam-specific (well, more so than is the rule with Sunni muslims) facts about the two brothers.  Well down the comment thread (#31 or so, I think) I point out the existence of alternative facts being possibly more important/relevant than is the shared religious background being indicative of Iranian influence/involvement in the terror attack the two men carried out.

I said:
As long as we’re speculating on possible connections/ramifications regarding these two, I think the very fact their family hails from Chechnya is itself potentially of much greater concern than a possible Shi’a Islam connection with Iran.
Recent history shows that Chechen (insert your euphemism of choice here – I’m going with the generic “gangs”) have proven themselves ruthless and effective at combating organized state forces in Russia (and the previous iteration as USSR) in both straight up military conflict and in “direct action” (Beslan, etc). If Chechen gangs have begun to take up the notion that the US is an opportunity for them to advance their ideological (or simply criminal) strategy, then we may be in for a rude comeuppance indeed. The statement-making examples of terrorism we in this country have experienced have all been contrived as unique acts; “professional” (as in this is how the members make their living) ideological killers (as opposed to outright crime gangs of limited scope and predictable operation) with organization and experience are entirely beyond the scope of American law enforcement organization and training.
We’ve already seen posse comitatus go out the window (only drug-related police actions are allowed the direct involvement of .mil assets afaik – I doubt Boston PD owned all those Blackhawks zooming the Common and environs earlier today), the citizenry having their 4th Amendment rights arbitrarily revoked and all the rest the people of that part of Mass. experienced from their government these last few days. Imagine the reaction to an actual organized, experienced and equipped group carrying out an actual strategy to defeat Russian military success in Chechnya from here in the US. That would seem no more implausible than turning airliners into autonomous cruise missiles.
It’s too easy to get all wrapped around the obvious axle of a shared religious connection and thereby ignore the other also likely-seeming possibilities this event offers.

Also see the follow up comment by "Bryant" four entries after my initial comment; he provides several links that clear up the (that would be my ) confusion on the posse comitatus issue I mention.

Just to be clear; I think we are speculating about issues this event raises that there simply hasn't been time for any investigation to have more than superficially looked into yet.  The focus to this point has been on capturing (or otherwise "apprehending")  the two men.  While esr makes an interesting (and perfectly valid) observation, I suggest we would all do well to let those in a position to ascertain an answer have the time to ask the necessary questions. 

Which hopefully won't focus only on the easy and obvious possibilities.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Hard Part About Inalienable Rights

Glenn Reynolds points to a piece at Reason.com by Ed Krayewski and asks: "Is that the right analogy?"
 The case of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, horrific on its own, is not helpful as a stand-in or argument in the wider debate about abortion and reproductive rights (because what he did is already illegal), just as the case of Adam Lanza, horrific on its own, is not helpful as a stand-in or argument in the wider debate about personal safety and gun rights (because what he did is already illegal).

As seems the usual case; yes, and no.

Yes, these are analogous as questions of political and legal debate.  Both are examples of individuals abusing lawful activities in what is already legislated to be a criminal fashion.

But that's not what anybody wants to talk about in either instance.

The hard part about inalienable rights is coming to terms with the decisions individuals sometimes find themselves compelled to make.  Mostly we question the choices of others, but ...

And, mostly we try (when we don't absolutely insist upon) considering those decisions in isolation, not as the difficult-choice-in-a-complex-(often hurried)-and-demanding-context-of-countervailing-options-amidst-doubts-and-uncertainties-galore they actually so often are.  So, no, they are not analogous because one [Gosnell] is acting in response to a legal request (however illegal his method of response unquestionably seems to have been) and the other [Lanza] imposed his unilateral decision on an unconsulted other.

Lets get one critical aspect of what's involved here clearly out in the open; as a society, we in the United States have decreed that killing is not unlawful - only highly constrained.  Indeed, it is a fundamental stipulation of the concept of "inalienable rights" that the decision to kill another person is an inherent condition of anyone who possesses such rights (and that's just for Texas; your state may have differently worded laws, but they're just as complex in practice - go look for yourself and see).  As a matter of law, beyond recognition of the individual's option to conform to moral edict in purely private and personal matters, religion can play no formal role in deciding what the law will prohibit.  Like the responsibility for the outcomes of our personal choices, responsibility for the consequences arising from the laws we cause to be written is ours.

Abortion is a type of killing of another human being that we as a society have chosen to sanction under stipulated circumstances.  The question facing the court in Philadelphia is whether, and to what degree, Mr. Gosnell exceeded the constraints placed upon that otherwise legislatively sanctioned killing.  Mr. Lanza, however, was never within the constraints of the law in his act of killing others, so the judgement he would have faced is seemingly a more straightforward issue.

In America, the law is always a matter of imposed considered judgement (anything else being a failure of law).  As such, the law is itself always subject to reconsideration and evaluation, as it should in a representative form of government (I would like to argue in any form of government, but outright tyranny makes for a very slow and ... how to put this, rigorous evaluation process, usually lasting only as long as the tyrant-in-question).  While individual moral judgements of both men are inextricably bound up in the process of considered judgement as to the lawfulness of their respective choice of action, religious preemptive commands have no place in American statute.  We damage our society by forgetting that in moments of aroused passion in response to circumstance.

The temptation to cast moral aspersions at another for their behavior is a personal judgement; calling for a religious verdict as a matter of law is simply another form of tyranny.  Justice and Tyranny are never analogous.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Making Work = Job: The Sequel

Thanks to the resounding response (for a given value of response) to my initial post, I'm writing this follow-up post anyway.  Also, to whoever it is that owns the url storyteller.com congratulations, best wishes and etc; I own the url www.storytellerworld.com and will be pursueing developing this idea there (eventually).

To re-cap; Story Teller World is intended to provide anyone with a story idea (fictional, instructional, whatever really) with the support and development tools established writers receive from their publishing house or film production company (or have to develop for themselves as they go).  In addition to that, STW will offer digital story development software tool(s) specifically designed for novice writers using much the same process as that used by the Turbo Tax income tax software (fill in the basic info, then answer questions to further develop the idea in a structured and interconnected format).

Having had a period of time in digital solitude in which to do what I like to call "thinking", I have come up with what I hope will prove to be improvements to my original concept.

1.)  Tax and contract legal advice.  I'm going to have to acquire some money to pay someone that actually knows something about the topic, so back burner still.

2.)  Reference links.  I believe Ref Desk is an even better choice than I originally considered.  Being financially supported by contributors, STW will arrange to provide sufficient financial support to Ref Desk so as to receive a dedicated portal through which all member writers story research must be directed.  Ref Desk provides links to all major reference sources online and can no doubt be convinced to add any specialty links as might be desired (and legal - erotic stories are not excluded from STW, but there are still legal boundaries to be taken into account).  This arrangement makes possible an anti-plagiarism mechanism along with a credit-sharing mechanism for shared projects.  More on this below (see: 6.).

3.)  Editorial support.  Back burner.

4.)   Co-Author job posting requests.  Some on this below too.  Back burner the rest.

Gods Above (and other archaic-sounding expletives) this item-by-item narrative format is really tedious; I won't be doing it again, that's certain.

5.)  Marketing.  I'm sure I have more thoughts on this, but only one comes to mind just now.  I am strongly inclined to publish all stories written on STW through Smashwords and let the individual buyer select which eBook format fits his/her reader technology.

The back of the stove is getting crowded, too.

6.)  Back-story Development.  Finally.  STW will provide an individual page for each member linked from the site Home page as part of the membership fee.  Each project a member wishes to develop will receive its own separate page accessible only through the members personal page (for a minor one-time additional fee) and accessible by others only by the members arrangement.  All research done in development of a story must be through the Ref Desk link by way of the members personal page, thereby documenting when/where every aspect of the story came from - either document-ably through Ref Desk or directly through the writers head (still thinking about scanning data not otherwise available online - fixable but not decided yet).  In the event two or more members (not all of whom are necessarily writers themselves) choose to develop a project jointly, their individual development page will link to a joint-development secondary page (for, you guessed it, yet another additional one-time minor fee) for that story only.  All individual contributions to the final story are each made through the individual member's personal page, thus allowing for a reasonably precise accounting of just who contributed how much to the published product, thereby also allowing for a fair distribution of proceeds should there ever be a dispute.

7.)  Story Teller must be at minimum a two-tiered structure.  I have changed my pricing model considerably (see 6. above for example).  I still want there to be a free page available for anyone to work from (for members to research for project collaboration and individuals to advertise for co-authorship's or other development opportunities) (all such arrangements paying a fee or percentage to STW btw), but that membership should be a mostly nominal US$30/year.  Each additional project page a member starts (and owns for life of the membership and/or copyright as appropriate) costs an additional US$10 initiation fee, with joint project pages sharing an additional US$10 initiation fee between all contributors by whatever division they arrange between themselves (so long as content ownership is stipulated by the developing members to be on either a stipulated division of shares basis or percentage of contribution as measured by the STW site software through each members personal page).

8.)  The STW writing software needs to be written in such a fashion that it can be readily adapted to other applications of a generally similar, but discrete, market (story written for print, to be adapted for film/video, to be further adapted for video game, etc).  I know what follows was originally part of  #6 in the original; what's your point?  I am more convinced than ever that STW must be built around original software purpose written for this application.  There will no doubt be much content that is licensed from others, and mostly expected to be accessed through a hyperlink, but I strongly believe an open source based purpose-built software program that is designed from the outset for ease of member usage and adaptation to as broad a spectrum of potential applications as possible (but without the need for writers to also be knowledgable coders too) is still the best marketing tool STW can ever offer to people.  One of the more time consuming distractions and expenses writers have is the spelling and what I think of as the there/their/they're problem, so one of the features I want the STW software to offer is a variety of check programs that the writer can run repeatedly to check work prior to engaging in the expense of a reader or editor (all of which will still be necessary, but hopefully more individually affordable as a result).

Having no idea what esr and his cohorts charge for their professional attention (and wanting more than the sound of the hair growing in my ears for resources, and isn't that a mental image to attract an investor with?) I'm hesitant to ask.  That said, I recognize that people need some sort of (at least seemingly plausible) guesstimate of funding requirements desired, so I hope to attract US$2,000,000 to fully fund the initial 5 years of development and operation, along with anticipated expenses to expand into other languages than English during the 4th or 5th year.  This amount will pay my salary for 5 years, fund work space and equipment for same, transportation, development and promotional expenses (which are expected to require my personal involvement on-scene) and funds for contingent opportunities (partnership contracts with other businesses being a prominent example), especially in the final two years of initial development.  This also assumes having to pay for all the ancillary expenses that might otherwise be met through a partnership with Jobster or Baen as mentioned in the first posting.  In return, at the end of the 5 year initial term, the goal is to have 10,000 individual annual paying members, each of whom has initiated on average two development projects during that same period; this results in approximately US$500,000 in paid fees plus whatever the published stories have earned (remember, STW is in for 20% of all royalties each story earns, too) by that time.  Those benchmarks can reasonably be expected to produce US$240,000/year in paid fees alone thereafter, with expenses being approximately 60% of that amount all else remaining the same.

The Story Teller World financial model is: individual member annual fee of US $30, individual story development page of a one-time US $10, assignment of 20% of all sales royalties to Story Teller World for a stipulated (but negotiable - at least a 10 years minimum though) period of time, 20% of all royalties divided between the story developers (shared between the original creator(s) and any adaptation creators) and 60% of all royalties apportioned as negotiated between all contributors to a story's final published form.

Some business development methods I especially plan to employ are:

A.)  As soon as possible after the software is basically written, I wish to tour around the country hosting local events with certain bloggers known to me to be accomplished writers in their own right.  STW will pay them a stipulated amount to write as beta developers in their area of expertise (for which they have an established audience).  This and their individual experience of the STW writing process will be published through the STW site and their personal blogs simultaneously.  This should take no more than 3 months, so by code writing + 3 months after funding has STW well known on all internet social media platforms.

    A. (1):  As part of the software writing development process, I will be working with selected (and compensated) other writers to put together a book that creates a story line for other writers to work in as part of a "how to" book explaining the STW writing process and software tools for publication at the time of public announcement of the business.  This will serve as a quality check of the software writing development process and expressly included in the code writers contract.

B.)  The online charity Kilted To Kick Cancer will become a sponsored charity of STW.  This includes a company cash donation directly, solicitation of donations from the membership and more generally online and an annual writing contest that directs some of the publication proceeds to the charity as well (at least from the STW royalties share - individual writers generosity is up to them).  This will require my personal involvement in various KTKC events during the month of September each year and hopefully sponsorship of an event as well.

C.)  Effectively simultaneous with A. above, certain established writers will be approached in an effort to arrange for them to develop a writers guide book (often referred to as a "universe or story bible") for other writers to work in established story lines he/she/they are no longer actively writing in.  STW will compensate these authors for their development costs (including their writing fee) and pay them for their written evaluation of the writing process experience offered by STW.  This will be intended for publication over the code writing + 6 to 12 months period (allowing for a non-overlap with the KTKC effort and some allowance for competing demands on the author's time).

I wish to make clear that, if developed and managed correctly, Story Teller World is designed to permit its management ample opportunity to be directly involved in the writing process personally (and under the identical terms and conditions of any other member too).  This allows for a real-time quality check of the process as well as potential for reducing the financial demands an otherwise full time manager might be expected to charge.

With any luck (mine, not so much yours), there will be more to follow.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Weird Science

Thanks to the Instapundit link, I've discovered the fascinating Soylent nutrition supplement/replacement experiment - a sort-of Open Source science project.

Mr. Robert Rhinehart of San Francisco had the inspiration to try to meet the human body's (well, his body anyway) nutritional needs directly from the basic chemical components - without all the "packaging" nature puts all of that in.  He hasn't revealed the exact percentages of the components mix yet (with certain exceptions; it seems several people with the requisite chemistry training worked it out for themselves too and they are cooperating together now from what I have read), but has stated the basic objective to be marketing of a nutritional supplement that can (mostly, it depends on the individual) replace the requirement for traditional "food" and can do so for anyone having access to potable water and a container to mix the two together.

There is a discussion board now, plans for a kickstarter type effort in the near future and the opportunity to participate in making the future. 

To appropriate the Heinlein phrase, this is opporknockity tuning in to your wavelength; don't miss out.