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Archive for the category “around the web”

In Which The Question Is Asked, What’s Up With Those Gun Guys?

Via Instapundit I learned of this article in The Atlantic by Dan Baum titled What Liberals Need To Understand About ‘Gun Guys’.

Formatted as a Q&A interview, Mr. Baum asks and answers:

At one point in your trip, you switched from open carry to concealed carry. What was that like?
In some ways I really liked it. It’s physically uncomfortable, it’s heavy and it digs into you, and you have to be very conscious of your clothing to make sure you’re not displaying it, because you really don’t want anyone knowing you’re carrying it. But it kept me vigilant. You really have your shit together when you’re carrying a gun. You never forget you’re wearing it. Maybe cops who’ve been wearing a gun for 30 years forget they’re wearing it, but I certainly never did, and I wore it for about 18 months.
It also made me really calm. When you’re wearing a gun, you do not get upset if someone takes your parking space, or if someone cuts you in line. You have this quite noble sense of being the sheepdog, being the protector. And I liked that.
But then you start wondering — what is my responsibility here? It’s really complicated. Say you’re in a shopping mall and somebody starts shooting. What do you do? If you run away, are you like a doctor who doesn’t respond when someone starts choking in a restaurant? If you’re wearing a gun, do you have an obligation to run towards the sound of the guns?

To answer Mr. Baum’s question, No Sir, you have no obligation to “run towards the sound of the guns” simply because you are carrying a complimentary tool yourself.  You may or may not have a moral/legal/ethical responsibility to live up to the American urge to “do something” in an emergency, but simple ownership of a potentially useful tool doesn’t automatically infer obligation to do so directly.   BTW, your choking comparison isn’t really apropos as a choking person offers little if any direct physical danger to any but those in immediate close contact; a shooter does.  You have the potential ability to effectively and (more) safely respond to a shooter if you are yourself wearing a gun, but that doesn’t automatically translate into obligation/responsibility to do so.

Later in the piece he asks/answers:

Nick Kristoff wrote a column in the New York Times about a gun standoff that was the result of a disagreement over a goose. He argued that instead of preventing conflict, guns actually escalate it. What’s your response to this?
I think we are all too cavalier with our guns. I fault both sides, really. The NRA and its handmaidens want us to believe that the whole problem is criminals, and they will not take responsibility. We need to lock guns up. Training should be better. And I think the anti-gun side needs to show gun guys more respect and needs to summon gun guys to respect themselves more. I think we all need to take this more seriously. We have 300 million privately owned guns in this country. Let’s really talk about how we can be safer.
Joe Nocera at the Times runs a daily tally of gun killings. He’s not running a daily tally of how many people defend themselves with guns. For one thing we don’t know about it most of the time. David Hemenway at Harvard is very pro gun-control and he thinks it happens about 80,000 times a year. If that’s true, that means that guns are saving 10 times as many people as they’re killing.
I call for my fellow liberals to approach gun owners with respect. These are the people who understand guns, these are the people who can help us figure out how to be safer around guns. Instead, you drive them into a defensive crouch by calling gun culture the problem.

I suggest the phrase you’re tip-toeing around Mr. Baum is: as a political issue, gun control is more about “control” and less about “guns”.

A final observation; Mr. Baum asks/answers:

At the end of this trip, did you feel any less conflicted about your place in the gun world?
No. I still don’t really belong in either camp. If you watch the reaction to the book when it comes out, you will see that. I’m no less a Democrat than I was, but I am more attuned to the gun guy complaint — “I am over-managed and I am under-respected as a citizen and a human being.” I think the right has a point there. We need to stop fearing capable, empowered, independent-thinking individuals.

Mr. Baum associates guns and gun ownership with “conservatives” and fair enough, lots of my gun-owning friends are actual conservatives politically.  That said, I believe the attitude Mr. Baum closes his article with is more aligned with the libertarian political attitude than it is with the conservative view point. 

I heartily endorse his final words; We need to stop fearing capable, empowered, independent-thinking individuals.  Indeed Sir, indeed.

(Retail) Evolution In Action

I read at The Firearms Blog that Amazon.com may be removing shooting sport-related items from their customer fulfillment inventory.  I sent the following message to the Amazon.com PR email link just now:

Dear Sir/Madam;
 
I have today read reports that Amazon.com will no longer be willing to meet some of my retail purchases, to wit, firearms-related items like scopes, sights, slings and other such shooting sport enhancement products.  If so, I will be taking my admittedly meager business elsewhere, to an undoubtedly less satisfying transaction process, but one that doesn’t blatantly dispise my purchasing preferences.
 
Amazon.com has a perfect right to make such a business decision (if in fact the company actually has done), but so too do the individual customers Amazon relies upon to complete the sales transaction process.  I do not wish to take my paltry business elsewhere, but decline to continue dealing with any business that openly despises my beliefs and, indeed, one of the fundamental  principles upon which the USA was founded.
 
Sincerely yours,
 
William Brown, Amazon.com Prime customer

Despite my having misspelled “despise” in the original, I hope the company’s spokesperson’s response is as serious – if more literate – than my inquiry. 

Hey Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?

So, the other day Captain Capitalism (AKA: Aaron Clarey) (Yes, it’s on Kindle too … sigh) posted a video he made about the Federal Reserve and whatever else it was that was clogging up his spleen.  Since his spleenic ventings are typically entertaining/interesting (for a given value of either you understand; YMMV), I watched – and then felt compelled to ask:

Query (because I really don’t know); isn’t GDP the Gross Domestic Product? If so, what influence does foreign based contribution to US stock markets have on market valuation that doesn’t reflect in the formal GDP valuation? Or does it?

Cappy is ranting about decreased GDP with increased stock value; if the stock value includes input from non-domestic sources, wouldn’t that be the expected result?

I ask because, since so much of US manufacturing business (and heavy industry generally) has been exported/off-shored/pick-whatever-euphamism-you-like, wouldn’t a lack of growth in domestic financial indicators (which are what contribute to determining GDP) with simultaneous growth in domestic stock valuations driven by foreign capital investment result in pretty much just what arouses Cappy’s ire?

I don’t remember where off-hand, but I read recently (like, in the last few days) that Mexico is financially no longer even remotely deserving of the appellation “third world country” as it is now ranked as the 39th largest economy in the world.  That doesn’t mean that at least a third of the country’s territory isn’t still a third world shit-hole as a practical matter, but there’s a first-world pantload of money swirling around through the rest of the place apparently.

And somebody there seemingly wants to invest some of that in something other than amateur pharmacology, impromptu eugenics and surreptitious import/export.

My thinking is that Mexican (and Chinese, Indian, Middle Eastern, etc) money going into the US stock market ought to tend to drive up stock valuations irrespective of the rest of the US economic fraud manipulation activity also occurring.  The very idea of the Federal Reserve Bank being anything more than Congress and the Treasury Department’s ATM machine and safety deposit box for temporary cash surplus occasions is just an invitation to larceny, so I understand the impulse to shout “The Federal Reserve Doesn’t Produce Anything!”, even though I have to say the Fed has a well-established track record of producing a faux debt that the US .gov insists we the tax payers have to honor which, however physically insubstantial it might be, is very definitely (some)thing.

I have also read that, “the universe is about 90% hydrogen and 10% helium; all the rest is basically a rounding error”.  Speaking for my own portion of that fractional error, I wonder if there isn’t possible a mathematical formula that is based on a measurable universal standard – say, the elemental number of hydrogen fer instance – and that this figure could be the known metric by which a stipulated quantity could be determined.  This measurable, known quantity could then be the basis for calculating a standardized valuation.  That being determined, any monetary issue (currency, regardless of source) could then have a universal monetary valuation calculated based upon the issuing country’s floating (but serially measurable to a universal standard) GDP as that is mutually stipulated to reflect.

No such thing as fiat currency is even possible if all currency can be valued by a universal (and importantly, fixed and untamperable) standard.

All that aside, I do wonder if my basic observation about stocks and GDP is at all correct.  Wadda ya say, Cap’n?

A World Transformative Opportunity

Confused by the plethora of technology choices you daily find yourself confronted with?  Want an easy-to-learn technique to help you answer all your questions?  Can’t help you.  However, if you have the least interest in taking advantage of the near-endless opportunities our steadily (and increasingly) changing world offers, you should be listening to tonight’s edition of The World Transformed, 10pm Eastern, 7pm Pacific.

Oh yeah, Phil and Stephen try to make sense of some guy ratcheting on about strategy, too.

Past Performance Is Not A Guarantee Of Future Behavior …

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

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

Food for thought.

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

Aging Strategy

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

She writes:

Aging is not considered to be a disease at the moment. There is no such indication as aging, therefore one can’t register a geroprotector drug, the one that slows down aging. This is one of the major hurdles in aging research. Even though there are some substances that are proven to slow down aging and protect from diseases, researchers can’t make drugs from these substances. This has to be changed if we want to live longer and healthier.

A perfectly valid observation, marred by her curative prescription:

I think it’s horrible that the NIA people are propagating this idea that aging is not a disease. They are rejecting the opportunity with their own hands. If they fought for persuading the healthcare officials to accept aging as a disease, a lot of problems would be gone instantly.

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

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

In her comments I wrote (in part):

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

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

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

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

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

I Don’t Do Breaking News …

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

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

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

Does This Make Me Look Cheat?

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

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

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

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

I considered elitist thinking back in 2006 at Gary Gagliardi’s old Warrior Class blog (where I first started blogging in late 2005).  One of the more questionable hallmarks of elitist behavior is the assumption that the status is inheritable or somehow transmissible from another.  This is the objection I have to Albert Nock’s theories regarding the elite condition; that somehow this is an inherent attribute present in some people but not others.  Call me cynical, but the following makes me think he wasn’t being quite as rigorous in his pronouncements as he is credited with being:

“In the mid-1920s, a small group of wealthy American admirers funded Nock’s literary and historical work…”

 Horses and carts come to mind as does biting the hand that feeds, and all that.

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

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

"… that are able to penetrate walls."*

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

But I could be giving him too much credit there.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I especially like this comment:

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

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

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

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

* So can most of my .22’s, for a given value of “wall”.

Arrest That Man!

Over at Joe Huffman’s place, a really intriguing question gets a look:

David Hardy says there are options to be considered now that Holder has been found in contempt of Congress:

The House sends out its Sergeant-at-Arms to arrest the defendant, he is tried on the spot, and the House decides whether to convict.

It is a little bit of a surprise to me but the Capital has a dungeon just for such purposes. And I find it interesting and very pleasing that:

…presidential pardons appear not to apply to civil contempt procedures such as inherent contempt because it is not an “offense against the United States” or an offense against “the dignity of public authority.”

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

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

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

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