Sunday, December 27, 2015

Finding Zara Larsson

Ever had one of those days when you almost can't quite convince yourself that it's really worth the effort to not go ahead and take that last step?  Most military veterans are familiar with that convoluted train of thought, and mostly we manage to do something else.  For the last decade and more too many of us haven't though, at a rate of 22 a day on average here in the US.  Thousands of us every year.  Why isn't this strange company to find myself in?

This is my story of how I'm not one them quite yet, and how a teenage Swedish Pop singer plays an important part in continuing that string of accomplishment into the future.

Most stories have a beginning, and this one starts when I was a teenage Californian whose voice stubbornly wouldn't settle into any recognizable vocal range.  Instead of singing, I read.  In particular, I read Robert A. Heinlein, and the works of his that most impressed me had to do with the Howard Families and Lazerous Long in particular (no links - consider this an exercise of your Google Fu :)).  Never mind the wiz-bang technology or the somewhat questionable philosophy; the thing that stuck in my testosterone-flooded mind was the reason ol' Woodrow Wilson Howard claimed to be the real cause of his having lived for so long (English tense gets a little bit fuzzy when you're describing a Future History event you read about 50 years ago). 

Basically, he didn't want to miss what comes next.  You see, in the first few decades of his life he recognised that not only did change continue to occur, it occured in a recursive fashion.  A new thing over here leading to something entirely else over there, inspiring an improvement to something totally unrelated some other place.  Sometimes good, sometimes not-so-much, but always the predictable pattern that, if you can just hang around long enough, you will see some wonderful newness and have a chance at experiencing greatness.  The trick being to live through the experience, of course (if there's no trick to doing it, where's the adventure part of the story?).

Which brings this story back around.

 I first read about the concept of a "wikiwander", following one wikipedia link after another until you find yourself in serious need of a loo and more coffee, from Tamara Keel though I doubt she would claim to be the originator even if she was.  You can do the same kind of thing on You Tube.  Lindsay Sterling leads to Pentatonix, which (somehow - I was there and even I'm not real clear how) leads to Five Finger Death Punch, which obviously gets you to Taylor Swift, to ... wait a minute, who's this chick? 

Have you ever heard a voice that touched a void place in your soul?  That you didn't even know was there (that last is sort-of in the nature of a void, actually; the absence of any detectable presence)?  It's not the lyrics especially, that's a different thing; this is about the timbre and presence of the voice itself.  They say when you first hear your childrens voices is like that, but ... sorry, not so much. 

It all tends to run together in my memory now, but I think the first song was "Endless", or maybe "Carry You Home", and I know "Rooftop" was in there.  It mystifies me why no commenter has correctly identified the emotion in "She's Not Me, Pt 2".  That's not anger; if the girl was pleading any harder, she'd be in tears (which I'm guessing is more of an Italian thing than Swedish).  If I'm wrong, and she is anrgy instead of frustrated, then Pt 3 is going to feature something large, sharp and pointy if Swedish cultural history is any guide.  More probably, Pt 3 would demonstrate the effect of finding someone who appreciates that Me is not She and how little interest Me has in how anyone else is (that made sense when it was between my ears).

Most people I expect, but military vets for certain, have a recurring schedule of hard-to-get-through times; you'd think after so many years of practice dealing, it would get easier.  I know it was late summer (which here in Texas runs from June till "will this never end?"), and there were other stressors I was letting get the better of me, but that was when I first heard those songs.  I let the experience of Zara's voice get lost in the mix of (mostly non-) events that were also taking place at the time. 

I re-discovered her in early October, which is fortunate since birthdays are a pretty common trigger for dark thoughts and emotional desperation.  The CD "Zara Larsson 1" was only available through her european music company then (via Amazon natch), but I bought it anyway as a BD gift to myself.  I'm thinking it isn't actually possible to wear out the electrons in my computer, but I've been giving that theory a rigorous test ever since. I downloaded my copy of the CD into Windows Media Player, made a playlist of it, and have proceeded to try my neighbor's patience mercilessly.  I can say without reservation that there is widespread sentiment where I live, work, and even among people I only occasionally drive by, that "Zara Larsson 2" can't be released soon enough.

Man, am I in love with that girl's vocal cords.

Proof of my boyhood belief that life will offer new and different relief if I can only just hang on, is illustrated by my discovery of Zara and her love of song.  Those of us who take the periodic opportunity to look the void straight in the eye are usually intimately familiar with both ends of the gun barrel.  I keep all my blades sharp enough, and know how to push away instead of cut across.  And then "Uncover" comes up in the rotation, or maybe it's "Wanna Be Your Baby", and all that other relief stays on the shelf.  There ... but not, you know?   

And that's how I do it.

All my life this sense of certainty that, no matter how bad it gets there will be some newness for me to discover and learn to experience, is what keeps me from stepping into the void instead of tossing off the usual wink as I turn away.  I'm lucky really; my lifetime accumulation of owies are bearable with the usual abuse of OTC nostrums.  I've gone through the amatuer pharmaceutical pursuit and come out the other side (mostly) unscathed and un-arrested (there was that one time, but moral certainty doesn't rise to the level of actual evidence so far in this country, so a misdemeaner charge had to suffice) (also demonstrating that the human capacity to survive the spontaneous over-consumption of at least one particular amatuer pharmaceutical is way more than US government anti-drug propaganda would have it) (just sayin' ... :)). 

I've always managed to find a way to get to the next newness, and that always enables me to keep looking elsewhere than the business end of one of my guns or (literally) fall on one of my swords.  Oh yeah!  Martial arts aren't just chop-socky these days, there's Historical European Martial Arts!  With ten centuries or more of Western Martial Arts tradition to pick from, there must easily be a dozen or more time-tested tools to make one hell of a mess of yourself for the crime scene boys and girls to wade through after.  :)  The books alone stack up to a pretty stiff drop, never mind the sharp stuff.

All of this is very hard for anyone else to go through.  Mostly (and completely understandably, trust me) they haven't.  Not for long.  There always comes a point where all the good becomes entangled with all the rest, and I must offer a powerful attraction to otherwise sane women because they all have shown good sense and stepped away eventually.  There's a school of thought that has it that, after you reach a certain age, you shouldn't take on another pet because you'll die before it does. That pretty much sums up my thoughts about involving another woman in my life. 

There's a positive thought in there somewhere.

That's another thing about human anguish; I don't understand why Zara singing about it is solace to a kinked-up soul, but I'm grateful.  It's not like music hasn't always been a big part of my life, because it very much has; I've just been miserable at doing anything with it myself (and everyone around me has been too, on the occasions I've tried).  Song has always moved my spirit, but this girl's voice transports my imagination like (almost) nothing else ever has.  Resist the temptation to help me over-think this.

After decades of accumulating ill-health, I find myself losing weight and gathering strength again.  Daily yoga (this is a good starting point) and working on the footwork of long sword make other exercise more likely.  Whoever said life doesn't have a soundtrack never heard of earbuds and MP3 players.  :)

Tip-toeing cautiously around the "that's kinda creepy" boundary, I keep having this day-dream about a rooftop cafe in Stockholm.  I can't tell if it's a Wednesday, but I know it's the 3rd of September.  Right as the sun goes behind the skyline, and the day's heat begins to fade, I stand up from my seat at our table and wave to this astonishing blond girl in a really nice dress just inside the entry.  She walks towards me in the way only a woman can and I help her into her chair.  We talk about the places between eternal love and no longer, and how our questionable cardiac health makes hanging on so much more possible.  Later, we dance to a song she loves but never gets to dance to normally.  Meat is on the menu, because life is a pretty simple choice really, so make sure yours are your own and not for somebody else's reasons.  Humanity is this planet's apex predator because we are omnivores.  That said, just because we can eat damn near anything doesn't automatically mean we have to eat everything all the time.  (I wonder if I can get the chef to include that little homily on the printed menu for the meal?)  (Why am I asking you?)  My dream dinner date with Zara Larsson (with a lyrical assist from Taylor Swift apparently :)).

Let's just face facts here, shall we?  If your imaginary fantasy life isn't as vivid, satisfying and confused gratifying as mine is, who's loss is that really*?

Watching and listening to Zara Larsson over the coming years as her music grows and develops, promises much distraction from the final choice.  That's not a reason for her to do all that, but I'll take it all the same. 

If you're a fellow vet, I hope you find your Zara Larsson.  I can recommend a good one. 

*Oh, and just for the record, my memory of that "really nice dress" usually involves helping her back into it after finding it amongst all of my own clothes in her room.  What!?!  I'm old, but still a guy. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Proof Of Life

There's an interesting post on the ever-debatable topic of "money" over at the Al Fin Next Level blog in which I offer some commentary and (does 8+ years qualify as "historic"?) observations.  You should go read it; good stuff as always.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Happy Birthday To Meeee ...


Given the inspiration for my pending retirement from my current employment, as well as my lifelong tendencies in general, I thought John Mellencamp's Authority Song would be most appropriate for this year:

If I can't be me* where I am, I'll go where I can ...

*Since "me" keeps changing, I expect I'll keep going 'till I can't.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

More Updatedness

As mentioned here last month, I am retiring from my current place of employment.  My Social Security is set up to begin on 1 January, 2016 and my last day of work (on this job ... I am looking into an alternative potential option) will be 29 January, 2016.  My willingness to do the job correctly remains in place, but my supply of fucks to give is completely depleted.  I cannot fully express just how refreshing that circumstance is.  :)

In Accordance With The Rule of Tam

Tam writes

"Can you articulate to a jury how someone attempting to draw a gun at you poses an immediate, potentially lethal threat? Can you articulate that it doesn't matter whether the gun they're trying to draw is on their belt or yours?

As I understand the general legal principle (and the actual statute here in Texas), the first question is the only real issue of concern in a legal defense of a homicide*.  If you can demonstrate that someone(s) present a lethal threat to you (or another), the law doesn't care what legal means you select to defeat said lethal threat with.  You should be aware that "legal means" would be any object you use to kill the individual(s) lethally threatening you.  Local ordinances always apply, of course, so the prohibited weapon choice list varies wildly, but as a general principle of self-defense, if you are at risk of losing your life, you can use whatever you have to to not be non-judicially killed (which pretty much rules out nukes, chemical weapons or that seriously irritating toddler whose oblivious mother will not shut up, to beat the guy to death with in just about any non-ISIS jurisdiction around).  Basically, if you are lethally threatened, you can shoot the person making the threat no matter what weapon s/he threatens your life with (to include your own gun).

Similarly, the law pretty much doesn't care what you use if you should prove to be the one offering the lethal threat, so the second question ought to be sorta irrelevant.  Prosecuting attorneys being what they are, you better hope your attorney is well versed in the applicable laws.  I recommend these guys without reservation.  You quasi-ferinners can go with this option until you can get here.

*For the hoi polloi, the term of law "self defense" is an explicit admission that you have committed homocide.  The only remaining issue thereafter is whether or not you were justified in doing so, and the cops don't get to make that call.  Should you ever find yourself in the vicinity of a freshly deceased example of the genus homo sapiens, make absolutely certain that the two words never to exit you mouth at any point thereafter are "self" and "defense".  The way that works is, your lawyer presents evidence of the justifiable nature of your actions to the court, thereby leading the jurist-in-residence to rule "justifiable homocide by reason of self defense".  Self defense is a legal ruling by a judge, not a statement to the police.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Blood Moon!

Last night, you couldn't turn around without having to shield your eyes from the moonglare (totally a word).  Tonight, the big show, the one that won't come again until the 2020's sometime, if then ... clouds.

Story of my life.

End of the world, heralded in by dreariness and elevated humidity.

Sigh ...

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


So, it's now official; earlier today I fully assimilated myself into the Socially inSecure borg.  As it worked out, this was a surprisingly painless encounter with the .gov.  Beginning next year, I shall be financially dependant upon all of you who remain among the ranks of the employed.  I look forward to discovering the difference in rankness my new station in life provides.

Funny, somehow it always felt like I would have more time to prepare myself for this eventuality.  If only I could honestly use the humor/satire tag.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Right Exercise

Blogging isn't actually dead, but like the people who do it, it is changing.  One of the blogs I regularly read (it says exactly that right there in the right side column) is Borepatch which offers commentary on guns and whatever else twinges his/their attention meter.  Reletively recent co-blogger ASM826 has taken up the load while Borepatch himself attends to too-long neglected motorcycle jockeying (he offers continued Proof of Life here though).  In a series of recent posts ASM826 discusses the concept of "rights" with fellow commenters, beginning with this post which illustrates the distinction of process that exists between the pontificational approach of journalism and the conversational interaction of blogging. 

ASM826 sets out to discuss the recent debates over historical icons and symbols and, in response to commenters posts this discourse about the distinctions between rights and privilege and some of the ramifications of how both those things are and ought to be expressed.  The part he wrote that I found of particular interest was this:

So too, the guy who stands up and says, "I believe in the right to free speech, but..." doesn't believe in free speech. He believes in regulated speech, approved speech, controlled speech. It's the kind of thinking that puts up cattle fences outside a convention hall and calls it a "free speech zone". It's the kind of thinking that creates a law that bans "hate speech".
 My comment (among several others, often focused on something else also said) was:

People who demand acknowledgement of their rights, but refuse to acknowledge limits on the exercise of their rights don't understand how rights work.

People who object to other's exercise of their rights because they find such exercise offensive also don't understand how rights work.

People who think that the exercise of rights can ever be anything but contentious, or occur equilaterally without the threat of third-party force, don't understand how exercise works.

Pop quiz: Stipulate that everyone has the same rights; whose rights go first/farthest? Who says?

I'll wait. 
I felt confident that my observation had struck at least a minor chord when I read the follow up post in which ASM826 made mention:

The pop quiz? We only have the rights and freedoms we are willing to defend.
While I don't disagree with this sentiment, as I noted in reply it doesn't really address the issue I was commenting on:

Rights are the sole property of individual human beings, and all humans possess rights. It is the exercise of those rights, both individually and in groups, that is the contentious issue.

Human social constructs like nations or religions are all efforts to regulate the exercise of individual's rights in a pluralistic setting utilizing various methods. Again, the contention arises from the degree and partiality of the regulation on the exercise of the rights. Efforts to claim ownership of others rights are merely efforts at regulating expression of those rights.

No claim is being made by me as to the propriety or effectiveness of any particular effort at regulating expression of rights, but it seems less than useful to argue about what isn't occuring (your rights cannot be taken from you) while ignoring the necessity for the existence of what actually is being abused and misappropriated (who gets to exercise their rights, how).

Much like jokes, if you have to explain a quiz the hoped-for effect is largely destroyed. That noted, to the exact degree you are unwilling to defend other's exercise of their rights, you are actively working against the exercise of your own. The resulting mutual loss of freedom is merely the to-be-expected outcome, also often referred to as Bad Luck. To engage in disputation over the existence or ownership of rights is to miss the point of the exercise entirely.

Yes, puns are a terrible personal failing.
I've only just very briefly excerpted ASM826's words here, you really do need to follow the links and RTWT to understand his point(s) and place all the comments in their proper context.  Also, if you would like to read a truly sterling example of "miss(ing) the point of the exercise entirely", I direct your attention to the Paul Bonneau comment immediately following mine (and quoted here):

"That noted, to the exact degree you are unwilling to defend other's exercise of their rights, you are actively working against the exercise of your own. The resulting mutual loss of freedom is merely the to-be-expected outcome, also often referred to as Bad Luck. To engage in disputation over the existence or ownership of rights is to miss the point of the exercise entirely."

So, even if they are non-existent, just memes, our liberty depends on accepting this fiction?

No. There are no rights. There is only self-interest and will and action. The concept of rights has been usurped and turned to the benefit of the ruling class. They are thrilled to have you believe their job is to protect and define what rights you have. That is the modern-day function of rights, just a tool for the ruling class to keep us under their thumb.

Every expression of a right is made stronger and clearer by eliminating any mention of right. What is the stronger statement? "I have a right to bear arms", or "I won't be disarmed."

I realize most people find it impossible to think outside the box.
At this point, I wish to make clear that the purpose of this post is two-fold; one, to more widely disseminate the discussion of rights and their expression being conducted on the Borepatch blog page, and two, to allow me to dissect the statement I quote above separately from the Borepatch forum.

I assert the position that the existence of rights within human beings is a thoroughly discussed and long since universally established condition inherent to humanity's existence.  I further assert that modern debates about rights actually involve the exercise of rights, and the restriction on exercise of rights.  As demonstrated by M. Bonneau, discussions regarding rights are frequent targets of efforts to rehash long settled debates concerning the existence of rights by, from the evidence quoted above, people either unfamiliar with children or themselves examples thereof.  Case in point, his question regarding the relative rhetorical strengths of the two cited statements is irrelevant.  The former asserts an established fact of human nature, while the latter challenges the expression of other's rights and implies threat to those who might wish to do so themselves.  Should any feel so inclined, feel free to Fisk further in the comments.

Rights could be considered analogous to the existence of human hair or skin coloration in the same way that expression of those rights could be compared to expression of human conscience.  The right to kill another human may or may not be wrongful behavior, but that the right and the impulse to exercise it exists within all humans is beyond contention.  Thus any further discussion of merit should address the development of processes whereby such expression of rights (all rights) can be most widely distributed between all humans with as little damaging impact upon one another as can be provided for in advance.  Development of a process whereby such impact can be mediated after-the-fact should be the minimum requirement for any human association laying claim to the title "civilization".

Rights are.  Exercise of rights will and, I think necessarily must be, a matter of unresolvable contention between those seeking to exercise their rights in any degree of proximity to other humans.  Unresolvable, but not irremediable, I submit.  I think a good argument could be made that the majority of human history, philosophy and religion records efforts at just such attempts at mediation.

To some one's benefit, at least.  More rarely, to many someones.  Very occasionally, to the majority of someones.

All of these efforts at mediation between individual exercise of human rights involve some restriction on the exercise of (to be honest, most of them require the total restriction - to the point of outright denial of existence - of almost everyones) rights as a matter of necessity.  You cannot exercise your rights in an unrestricted fashion without impinging on my right to not be so impinged upon.   

And vice versa.

Discussions of rights focus on the equitable exercise of rights by humans, among humans, at variable degrees of remove from each other, to include each other's individual and mutual property.  So, pretty much unresolvable by definition, if only due to the variability of the circumstances and degree and number of involved parties.  Any mediation process must necessarily be capable of the required level of complexity that may arise. In the modern human context, government is the mediation process we have developed (and continue to modify) which uses law and regulation as the means of arriving at the necessary mediation between our competing interests (the definition of which we also continue to modify).  Please tell me that no one reading this is at all surprised that factions devoted to advancing themselves purely through manipulation of the established mediation processes arose right alongside development of those processes.

Sun Tzu didn't have to look all that far for examples of the inter-related nature of the impulses he sought to codify.  No one works to take away your rights (and couldn't if they did).  Lots of people work to restrict your opportunity to exercise your rights.  Working to assure continued opportunity to exercise your rights must necessarily include everyone else being able to do so also (or guess which group you belong to).  Efforts to deny recognition of other's possession of rights equal to your own are merely efforts to steal from them. 

Which introduces the concept of "liberty", defined in this circumstance as the measure of a given individuals opportunity to exercise his rights.

By that definition, liberty cannot be unconstrained.  Measuring liberty must always revolve around maintaining the means for the most humans being able to exercise their rights to the maximum extent that continued opportunity for exercise of the rights of others permits.  Liberty therefore becomes the measure of the limits of cooperative exercise of individual rights within a mediatable circumstance.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

The Future Is Here (follow the links)

Chris Byrne has a new post up Moving Towards Post Scarcity in which he keys in on probably the most important factor in further advancing human development - abundant energy.  Chris focuses on thorium nuclear reactor technology (see this excellent Brian Wang Next Big Future post from 2011 for more on thorium reactor technology) (and here for more recent molten salt reactor technology development progress) and refinement of existing electrical distribution networks into more localized structures.  This topic, and "future-ism" generally, has had my irregular attention for several years now, so I always enjoy reading another's perspective.


Monday, June 29, 2015


For those times I need some.

Natalie Dormer Fencing

The rest of the photo's are mere distraction.

Did I say mere?


A Questionable Technology Question

I wonder if it would be practically possible (as opposed to theoretically, you understand) to build a yacht (something like one of these Austal 41 catamarans) that used a modification of the Sheerwind electrical power generation system to supply principal motive and operations power?  Yes, you would definitely want a diesel back-up generator and sufficient fuel stores for ~10 days max load operations.  Maybe (who am I kidding, almost certainly) a battery storage system too.  A fresh water desalination capability along with a grey/black water reclamation system, of course.  In fact, pretty much every technology you would want in an ocean-going yacht that you can shoehorn into the available volume, just like pretty much every other ship design.  The object here is to have a "fuel" system that uses less interior hull volume than the existing traditional diesel fuel design for that same model of vessel does now.

The wind generator would require a redesigned blade system, for only one major change.  The captured wind would have to be routed down to the engineering spaces (the pontoons), presumably through some sort of funnel-type structure extending well above the uppermost deck area, and then exhausted well away from any working deck areas, antennas, small craft hoisting equipment and most emphatically not anywhere near the waterline (whatever the sea state).  Depending on how the air ducting was laid out, it ought to be quite possible to spin up a series of smaller generators from the same given volume of air with sufficient wind velocity.  From the Sheerwind site, it would appear that a boat traveling fast enough to supply about 8 knots of wind down the deck would be more than sufficient (which is a fairly normal wind state when tied up in port).  A twin ducting system branching port and starboard from a mid-ships wind collection tower could supply a series of generators placed within the system essentially twice the length of the boat if the ducting was routed forward the length of the pontoons and then up again to the uppermost decking and then aft to exhaust through a parallel array of exhaust ports facing aft (and thus two decks above the main after deck).

Performance wise, I think a boat that could cruise at ~18 knots and sprint at ~30+ knots would be more than sufficient for a non-commercial/non-military vessel.  This would allow for a 24-hour day cruise distance of roughly 400 nautical miles.  Assuming an on-board food stores capacity for 15 days fresh and 30 days re-constituted (powdered drinks, dehydrated proteins and carbs, etc) a non-stop voyage of 20 to 30 days duration without having to budget for fuel resupply would shift yachting a good deal closer to being more of a middle class aspiration, I would think.  A boat that didn't require shore-based fuel or power connections in port would be a big financial savings too.

I think I'll contact Sheerwind and Austal USA and ask them what they think.

Update #1: When considering redesign of the wind generators, do consider some recent research that appears to have some relevance to performance improvement.  Excerpt: "Because wind turbines are heavily braked in order to minimize noise, the addition of this new surface would mean that they could be run at much higher speeds producing more energy while making less noise. For an average-sized wind farm, this should mean several additional megawatts worth of electricity. An investigation into how owls fly and hunt in silence has enabled researchers to develop a prototype coating for wind turbine blades that could significantly reduce the amount of noise they make. - See more at:".

Friday, June 12, 2015

Casus Belli?

Since the PRC government now apparently owns all USA government data, to include SSN data, when can we expect a claim to be filed against the PRC to provide full funding for SSA payments?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Coming Up For Air -or- What's That Smell?

I haven't given up on writing entirely, I'm just maligning language elsewhere is all.

A couple of semi-related news items jarred my tentative thinking process recently.  One being the reporting regarding the recent vote(s) in the Texas legislature on gun carrying by non-law enforcement-type citizens in the state.

Let me just say this about that; it probably actually is possible to make your disdain for your audience more plain, but the below-quoted double error (from the opening sentence no less) written by one Nathan Kopple for The Wall Street Journal (and seemingly quoted verbatim by and Fox News) does seem to set that bar well up there:
Texas is poised to become the largest state in the U.S. to allow citizens to openly carry handguns, a change long sought by gun-rights activists.
Taking* my objections in the order of their presentation: 

(1) Alaska 


(2) Alaska you moron errr, Mr. Kopple.

[and in rebuttal to the obvious first quibble, (1) could alternatively be California.  No matter how you slice it, this account has nowhere to go but up]

Calling into question my own sense of cynicism, The Dallas Morning News at least managed to avoid those obvious hallmarks of journalistic excellence flubs.  The law enforcement devil is in the details, of course; we'll see how the actual law is written before I get out either one of my nice new holsters.

A question has arisen in my mind recently about 2nd Amendment civil rights debates more generally. It has become a 21st century axiom among modern 2nd Amendment civil rights supporters (to include myself) that more guns = less crime, and I've certainly been willing to advance that contention as thoroughly well proved.  But I do have to wonder of late ...

In years past, US gun legislation debates often referenced British crime reporting statistics on gun-related questions - more pertinently, the degree of doubt in the reliability of crime statistics from the UK. The questions thus raised were put to telling effect in the dismissal of these "facts" as to their relevance in US legislative debate over the last decade+.

My concern on this matter was (completely inadvertently, I'm certain) summarized quite brilliantly by this Joe Huffman blog post because of what I have discovered in my reading elsewhere recently about US crime reporting. The US DoJ's Uniform Crime Statistics are this country's national summation of all local and state crime reporting, as broken down by a variety of categories. There have been reports for many years now about US national crime statistics not reflecting actual events:
Racial violence might be up. It might be down. Either way we may never know: A new study from the Department of Justice says victims of violent crime often do not call the police.
And if they do, police often do not file crime reports, say local newspapers around the country.
“More than half of the nation’s violent crimes, or nearly 3.4 million violent victimizations per year, went unreported to the police between 2006 and 2010,” said a Justice Department analysis.
That’s 17 million violent crimes off the books in five years.


Bearing that in mind, the ramifications of this article gives me pause:
Campus crime is easier to track than city crime because campus cops have to obey federal reporting laws -- and the Clery Act requires schools to list the full description of the suspects. And make that available at the school web site.

Read more:
Follow us: @AmericanThinker on Twitter | AmericanThinker on Facebook

If it is fair of us to say that questionable statistics must be given no credence in making legislative decisions regarding the expression of our civil rights here in the USA, and we now seem to have more than ample evidence that our own national crime reporting statistics are at-best "questionable", what are we really basing our axiomatic civil rights claims on?

I confess I do not know what to make of all of this as of yet.  I leave it for now with my fellow citizens to begin the process whereby we have traditionally made such choices (and all of you please refrain from throwing things at each other, at least until I can take part rejoin you).  I can be as pragmatically cynical as anyone, needs must, but I think we would do better to determine our own levels of moral repugnance on this one of our own volition.

*  I don't know what I've done with the font and can't be bothered to fix it.  Consider it my effort to shield you from the fullest intensity of my intellectual brilliance.  

Stop laughing (except you Mr Kopple; et tu eh?).

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

It's Amazon Pilot Season

Periodically, the good folks at present a selection of new TV series developed by people like you and me (well, me anyway; your fantasy life is your own) at Amazon Studios for Amazon customers to rate and review.  I want to recommend one particular program currently up for audience review, Cocked.

Brian Dennehy plays the family patriarch and gun business founder Wade Paxson.  Jason Lee plays the elder son, heir apparent and perennial ne're-do-well Grady.  Sam Trammell plays his younger brother Richard, who has made a life and career outside the family business and industry.

Wade Paxson has built a solid business catering to the traditional "Fudd" segment of the gun buying market; rifles and shotguns for hunting and target shooters.  Grady Paxson has spent all the family's available cash designing and manufacturing a new product line for the company, a "semi-automatic revolver".  Revealing further depth to the Paxson family structure, Wade's brother Rayburn has his own gun company, and apparently has Wade's shop thoroughly penetrated with his own people, as he also brings a "semi-auto revolver" to market - at considerably less cost.  Desperate to save the company he spent his life building, Wade begs (and otherwise coerces) his younger son to help stave off the pending disaster.  High-larity, as they say, not to mention drama and more than a little comedy, follows.

Cocked airs most of the usual memes and catch phrases anyone familiar with guns (or just gun debates) is familiar with - but does so in a reasonably neutral fashion, and occasionally quite indirectly.  As example, the commonplace pro gun ownership expression "when seconds count, a cop is only minutes away" isn't spoken in dialogue, but following a violent attack on Richard, the responding cop notes there isn't much he can do to catch the attacker or prevent another attack.  In another scene, Richard's wife accuses the family of "selling fear", to which Wade responds that guns are "just tools".  In none of this drama does anyone come off as morally superior, nor does anyone get spared from a sometimes too-revealing look.

I hope Amazon produces this series, and you can help convince Jeff Bezos and the boys and girls at Amazon Studios to do just that.  Follow the link above, watch the pilot episode, then click on the little blue Find out more link, and Take the survey.  You don't have to be an Amazon Prime member, but I expect no one there would outright object if you did join up.  Also, the show is rated TV-MA because, titties, violence and grown people doing some fairly tedious stupid behavior in somewhat explicit fashion.  Nothing too outrageous (which may be more revealing of my standards than anything else), but expect to have to field some awkward questions from the younger set if you let them watch with you.

Finally, there are 12 other pilot shows up for audience review at Amazon right now; I also recommend Mad Dogs and The Man in the High Castle as being worth your interest, pretty much in that order of preference too (tastes vary; get your own).  There are some kid-oriented shows too, but mine are raising there own kids these days, so I don't have to develop an opinion you would want to read about any of that category of programming.

No Amazonians or actual pilots were harmed in the production of this post.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Political Strategy, In My Briefs

Louis Gohmert is my Member of Congress, so I'm not just some less-than-grunteled citizen here.  Let me further say that I support his declared intent to seek the Speakership of the House of Representatives (and as a general political principle, the intent of others to change the leadership - and thereby the direction - of the Republican Party in Congress, and presumably overall, as well).

That said, there is a cautionary aspect to this tale.

The Democrat nominee for Speaker is Nancy Pelosi.  I will not be at all shocked to click over to Drudge one morning soon and read that she is the Speaker-elect for the 114th Congress, and myriad stories quoting the RNC leadership loudly blaming "divisive insurgents within the party" (read: people opposed to their continued choke hold on control of the Republican Party) for that result.

I do hope Louis and the rest have given a good deal of preparatory effort to organizing their little putsch, as those who currently run the RNC are demonstrably willing to arrange a quiet little deal with the DNC just in the ordinary course of events; how much more likely are they to do so rather than give up control of the RNC entirely?

I'm not predicting this outcome, I just won't be at all surprised should it occur.  A profound change in political organization generally has been a building social pressure in the United States for many years now.  History documents just how infrequently that sort of shift occurs without similar disruption of domestic social structures as well.  Mostly, and fortunately, those societal and political changes occur in a generally peaceful manner; here's hoping that trend continues whoever the next Speaker of the House should be.