Thursday, January 31, 2013

How Strict Gun Control Works in Chicago

With 42 homicides, Chicago sees most violent January in 11 years

The month isn't over yet, but Chicago has already logged 42 homicides, making this the city's most violent January since 2002. A teenage girl who attended Obama's inauguration is the latest victim.
Thank you Chicago citizens, for courageously testing the strictest of gun control policies so the rest of us don't have to die doing it.  If you ever do decide you'd rather be able to defend your own lives and those of your children, please feel free to move to just about anywhere else in the country.  Do us a favor and don't blindly vote Democrat when you do.

The Logical Fallacy of the current Gun Control discussion

As I've followed the gun control debate after the horrific incidents at Sandy Hook Elementary school, I've been amazed.  Not long ago I posted something that was very popular:  Lord Monckton's "The Logical Case Against Climate Panic."

One of the logical fallacies he pointed to in climate panic is being constantly used in this discussion.  It is the argumentum ad misericordiam, the fallacy of pity.  The line we hear again and again is, "Those poor children.  We can't ever let this happen again."  Like everyone else, I was horrified and deeply saddened by the slaughter of children perpetrated by a mentally-ill mass-murdering criminal.

Good policy doesn't arise from emotional pleas or the argumentum ad misericordiam, however.  Well and accurately did Thomas Sowell insist, "Much of the social history of the Western world over the past three decades has involved replacing what worked with what sounded good." (Is Reality Optional?, 1993)  The media and leftists have done a great job of making sure we never blame the criminal for criminal acts.  "He had a terrible upbringing.  Society treated him poorly.  He was mentally ill."  None of these things eliminates personal choice.  None of them excuses criminal behavior.  If their view is that you can't blame the criminal for his actions, though, that leaves us with a problem.  Who do you blame?  The answer is anything you wish to alter or vilify.  In this case, guns are being blamed.

Once again I appeal to one of my favorite quotations:  "The rifle itself has no moral stature, since it has no will of its own. Naturally, it may be used by evil men for evil purposes, but there are more good men than evil, and while the latter cannot be persuaded to the path of righteousness by propaganda, they can certainly be corrected by good men with rifles."  (Jeff Cooper, The Art of the Rifle)

A serious study of the facts on gun control in America indicates that at the very least, lawful possession and carry of firearms doesn't increase crime.  The best evidence suggests it may even reduce crime.*  This is simply logical.  If you were a criminal, would you seek to victimize a safe, opposition-free target, or one that might shoot you in the face?  Why do you think would-be mass murderers so often choose to attack in "gun free" zones?

Here's the really scary part:  If we implement gun control policies which we already know don't work and gain therefrom a false sense of security, this will happen again.

Why would we return to failed policies that make our society easier to victimize?  Gun control doesn't work here.  It doesn't work in Finland.**  It doesn't work anywhere.  Self-defense does.  The special forces community provided us with some much better solutions to prevent future mass-murder events.  Why not focus on what works, instead of what "feels good"?

*Click the gun control label for previous posts with links to more information.
**Finland's would apparently be better served by tough alcohol control laws instead of tough gun control laws.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

England might as well declare Sharia law now

The unfairness and complexity of much of our legal code has often left me wondering if we don't need to revise the policy of "ignorance is no defense under the law."  Then I read this.
A muslim who raped a 13-year-old girl he groomed on Facebook has been spared a prison sentence after a judge heard he went to an Islamic faith school where he  was taught that women are worthless.

Adil Rashid, 18, claimed he was not aware that it was illegal for him to have sex with the girl because his education left him ignorant of British law.

Yesterday Judge Michael Stokes handed Rashid a suspended sentence, saying: ‘Although chronologically 18, it is quite clear from the reports that you are very naive and immature when it comes to sexual matters.’
Oh, golly.  As long as you don't know raping a child is wrong, that's okay under British law.  Maybe her name was Aisha.

A Letter From The Special Forces Community Concerning The Second Amendment

I've seen this presented by several news sources.  In case their links fail, I'll post it here:

29 Jan 2013
Protecting the Second Amendment – Why all Americans Should Be Concerned

We are current or former Army Reserve, National Guard, and active duty US Army Special Forces soldiers (Green Berets). We have all taken an oath to “…support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.…” The Constitution of the United States is without a doubt the single greatest document in the history of mankind, codifying the fundamental principle of governmental power and authority being derived from and granted through the consent of the governed. Our Constitution established a system of governance that preserves, protects, and holds sacrosanct the individual rights and primacy of the governed as well as providing for the explicit protection of the governed from governmental tyranny and/or oppression. We have witnessed the insidious and iniquitous effects of tyranny and oppression on people all over the world. We and our forebears have embodied and personified our organizational motto, De Oppresso Liber [To Free the Oppressed], for more than a half century as we have fought, shed blood, and died in the pursuit of freedom for the oppressed.

Like you, we are also loving and caring fathers and grandfathers. Like you, we have been stunned, horrified, and angered by the tragedies of Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, Fort Hood, and Sandy Hook; and like you, we are searching for solutions to the problem of gun-related crimes in our society. Many of us are educators in our second careers and have a special interest to find a solution to this problem. However, unlike much of the current vox populi reactions to this tragedy, we offer a different perspective.
First, we need to set the record straight on a few things. The current debate is over so-called “assault weapons” and high capacity magazines. The terms “assault weapon” and “assault rifle” are often confused. According to Bruce H. Kobayashi and Joseph E. Olson, writing in the Stanford Law and Policy Review, “Prior to 1989, the term ‘assault weapon’ did not exist in the lexicon of firearms. It is a political term [underline added for emphasis], developed by anti-gun publicists to expand the category of assault rifles.”

The M4A1 carbine is a U.S. military service rifle – it is an assault rifle. The AR-15 is not an assault rifle. The “AR” in its name does not stand for “Assault Rifle” – it is the designation from the first two letters of the manufacturer’s name – ArmaLite Corporation. The AR-15 is designed so that it cosmetically looks like the M4A1 carbine assault rifle, but it is impossible to configure the AR-15 to be a fully automatic assault rifle. It is a single shot semi-automatic rifle that can fire between 45 and 60 rounds per minute depending on the skill of the operator. The M4A1 can fire up to 950 rounds per minute. In 1986, the federal government banned the import or manufacture of new fully automatic firearms for sale to civilians. Therefore, the sale of assault rifles are already banned or heavily restricted!

The second part of the current debate is over “high capacity magazines” capable of holding more than 10 rounds in the magazine. As experts in military weapons of all types, it is our considered opinion that reducing magazine capacity from 30 rounds to 10 rounds will only require an additional 6 -8 seconds to change two empty 10 round magazines with full magazines. Would an increase of 6 –8 seconds make any real difference to the outcome in a mass shooting incident? In our opinion it would not. Outlawing such “high capacity magazines” would, however, outlaw a class of firearms that are “in common use." As such this would be in contravention to the opinion expressed by the U.S. Supreme Court recent decisions.

Moreover, when the Federal Assault Weapons Ban became law in 1994, manufacturers began retooling to produce firearms and magazines that were compliant. One of those ban-compliant firearms was the Hi-Point 995, which was sold with ten-round magazines. In 1999, five years into the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, the Columbine High School massacre occurred. One of the perpetrators, Eric Harris, was armed with a Hi-Point 995. Undeterred by the ten-round capacity of his magazines, Harris simply brought more of them: thirteen magazines would be found in the massacre’s aftermath. Harris fired 96 rounds before killing himself.

Now that we have those facts straight, in our opinion, it is too easy to conclude that the problem is guns and that the solution to the problem is more and stricter gun control laws. For politicians, it is politically expedient to take that position and pass more gun control laws and then claim to constituents that they have done the right thing in the interest of protecting our children. Who can argue with that? Of course we all want to find a solution. But, is the problem really guns? Would increasing gun regulation solve the problem? Did we outlaw cars to combat drunk driving?

What can we learn from experiences with this issue elsewhere? We cite the experience in Great Britain. Despite the absence of a “gun culture”, Great Britain, with one-fifth the population of the U.S., has experienced mass shootings that are eerily similar to those we have experienced in recent years. In 1987 a lone gunman killed 18 people in Hungerford. What followed was the Firearms Act of 1988 making registration mandatory and banning semi-automatic guns and pump-action shotguns. Despite this ban, on March 13, 1996 a disturbed 43-year old former scout leader, Thomas Hamilton, murdered 16 school children aged five and six and a teacher at a primary school in Dunblane, Scotland. Within a year and a half the Firearms Act was amended to ban all private ownership of hand guns. After both shootings there were amnesty periods resulting in the surrender of thousands of firearms and ammunition. Despite having the toughest gun control laws in the world, gun related crimes increased in 2003 by 35% over the previous year with firearms used in 9,974 recorded crimes in the preceding 12 months. Gun related homicides were up 32% over the same period. Overall, gun related crime had increased 65% since the Dunblane massacre and implementation of the toughest gun control laws in the developed world. In contrast, in 2009 (5 years after the Federal Assault Weapons Ban expired) total firearm related homicides in the U.S. declined by 9% from the 2005 high (Source: “FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Master File, Table 310, Murder Victims – Circumstances and Weapons Used or Cause of Death: 2000-2009”).

Are there unintended consequences to stricter gun control laws and the politically expedient path that we have started down?

In a recent op-ed piece in the San Francisco Chronicle, Brett Joshpe stated that “Gun advocates will be hard-pressed to explain why the average American citizen needs an assault weapon with a high-capacity magazine other than for recreational purposes.” We agree with Kevin D. Williamson (National Review Online, December 28, 2012): “The problem with this argument is that there is no legitimate exception to the Second Amendment right that excludes military-style weapons, because military-style weapons are precisely what the Second Amendment guarantees our right to keep and bear.”

“The purpose of the Second Amendment is to secure our ability to oppose enemies foreign and domestic, a guarantee against disorder and tyranny. Consider the words of Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story: ‘The importance of this article will scarcely be doubted by any persons, who have duly reflected upon the subject. The militia is the natural defense of a free country against sudden foreign invasions, domestic insurrections, and domestic usurpations of power by rulers. It is against sound policy for a free people to keep up large military establishments and standing armies in time of peace, both from the enormous expenses, with which they are attended, and the facile means, which they afford to ambitious and unprincipled rulers, to subvert the government, or trample upon the rights of the people. The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.’"

The Second Amendment has been ruled to specifically extend to firearms “in common use” by the military by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in U.S. v Miller (1939). In Printz v U.S. (1997) Justice Thomas wrote: “In Miller we determined that the Second Amendment did not guarantee a citizen’s right to possess a sawed-off shot gun because that weapon had not been shown to be “ordinary military equipment” that could “could contribute to the common defense."

A citizen’s right to keep and bear arms for personal defense unconnected with service in a militia has been reaffirmed in the U.S. Supreme Court decision (District of Columbia, et al. v Heller, 2008). The Court Justice Scalia wrote in the majority opinion: “The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home."  Justice Scalia went on to define a militia as "comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense…”

“The Anti-Federalists feared that the Federal Government would disarm the people in order to disable this citizens’ militia, enabling a politicized standing army or a select militia to rule. The response was to deny Congress power to abridge the ancient right of individuals to keep and bear arms, so that the ideal of a citizens’ militia would be preserved.” he explained.

On September 13, 1994, the Federal Assault Weapons Ban went into effect. A Washington Post editorial published two days later was candid about the ban’s real purpose:“[N]o one should have any illusions about what was accomplished [by the ban]. Assault weapons play a part in only a small percentage of crime. The provision is mainly symbolic; its virtue will be if it turns out to be, as hoped, a stepping stone to broader gun control.”

In a challenge to the authority of the Federal government to require State and Local Law Enforcement to enforce Federal Law (Printz v United States) the U.S. Supreme Court rendered a decision in 1997. For the majority opinion Justice Scalia wrote: “…. this Court never has sanctioned explicitly a federal command to the States to promulgate and enforce laws and regulations When we were at last confronted squarely with a federal statute that unambiguously required the States to enact or administer a federal regulatory program, our decision should have come as no surprise….. It is an essential attribute of the States’ retained sovereignty that they remain independent and autonomous within their proper sphere of authority.”

So why should non-gun owners, a majority of Americans, care about maintaining the 2nd Amendment right for citizens to bear arms of any kind?

The answer is “The Battle of Athens, TN”. The Cantrell family had controlled the economy and politics of McMinn County, Tennessee since the 1930s. Paul Cantrell had been Sheriff from 1936 -1940 and in 1942 was elected to the State Senate. His chief deputy, Paul Mansfield, was subsequently elected to two terms as Sheriff. In 1946 returning WWII veterans put up a popular candidate for Sheriff. On August 1 Sheriff Mansfield and 200 “deputies” stormed the post office polling place to take control of the ballot boxes wounding an objecting observer in the process. The veterans bearing military style weapons, laid siege to the Sheriff’s office demanding return of the ballot boxes for public counting of the votes as prescribed in Tennessee law. After exchange of gun fire and blowing open the locked doors, the veterans secured the ballot boxes thereby protecting the integrity of the election. And this is precisely why all Americans should be concerned about protecting all of our right to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment!

Throughout history, disarming the populace has always preceded tyrants’ accession of power. Hitler, Stalin, and Mao all disarmed their citizens prior to installing their murderous regimes. At the beginning of our own nation’s revolution, one of the first moves made by the British government was an attempt to disarm our citizens. When our Founding Fathers ensured that the 2nd Amendment was made a part of our Constitution, they were not just wasting ink. They were acting to ensure our present security was never forcibly endangered by tyrants, foreign or domestic.

If there is a staggering legal precedent to protect our 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms and if stricter gun control laws are not likely to reduce gun related crime, why are we having this debate? Other than making us and our elected representatives feel better because we think that we are doing something to protect our children, these actions will have no effect and will only provide us with a false sense of security.

So, what do we believe will be effective? First, it is important that we recognize that this is not a gun control problem; it is a complex sociological problem. No single course of action will solve the problem. Therefore, it is our recommendation that a series of diverse steps be undertaken, the implementation of which will require patience and diligence to realize an effect. These are as follows:

First and foremost we support our Second Amendment right in that “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

We support State and Local School Boards in their efforts to establish security protocols in whatever manner and form that they deem necessary and adequate. One of the great strengths of our Republic is that State and Local governments can be creative in solving problems. Things that work can be shared. Our point is that no one knows what will work and there is no one single solution, so let’s allow the State and Local governments with the input of the citizens to make the decisions. Most recently the Cleburne Independent School District will become the first district in North Texas to consider allowing some teachers to carry concealed guns. We do not opine as to the appropriateness of this decision, but we do support their right to make this decision for themselves.

We recommend that Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) laws be passed in every State. AOT is formerly known as Involuntary Outpatient Commitment (IOC) and allows the courts to order certain individuals with mental disorders to comply with treatment while living in the community. In each of the mass shooting incidents the perpetrator was mentally unstable. We also believe that people who have been adjudicated as incompetent should be simultaneously examined to determine whether they should be allowed the right to retain/purchase firearms.

We support the return of firearm safety programs to schools along the lines of the successful “Eddie the Eagle” program, which can be taught in schools by Peace Officers or other trained professionals.

Recent social psychology research clearly indicates that there is a direct relationship between gratuitously violent movies/video games and desensitization to real violence and increased aggressive behavior particularly in children and young adults (See Nicholas L. Carnagey, et al. 2007. “The effect of video game violence on physiological desensitization to real-life violence” and the references therein. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 43:489-496). Therefore, we strongly recommend that gratuitous violence in movies and video games be discouraged. War and war-like behavior should not be glorified. Hollywood and video game producers are exploiting something they know nothing about. General Sherman famously said “War is Hell!” Leave war to the Professionals. War is not a game and should not be “sold” as entertainment to our children.

We support repeal of the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990. This may sound counter-intuitive, but it obviously isn’t working. It is our opinion that “Gun-Free Zones” anywhere are too tempting of an environment for the mentally disturbed individual to inflict their brand of horror with little fear of interference. While governmental and non-governmental organizations, businesses, and individuals should be free to implement a Gun-Free Zone if they so choose, they should also assume Tort liability for that decision.

We believe that border states should take responsibility for implementation of border control laws to prevent illegal shipments of firearms and drugs. Drugs have been illegal in this country for a long, long time yet the Federal Government manages to seize only an estimated 10% of this contraband at our borders. Given this dismal performance record that is misguided and inept (“Fast and Furious”), we believe that border States will be far more competent at this mission.

This is our country, these are our rights. We believe that it is time that we take personal responsibility for our choices and actions rather than abdicate that responsibility to someone else under the illusion that we have done something that will make us all safer. We have a responsibility to stand by our principles and act in accordance with them. Our children are watching and they will follow the example we set.

The undersigned Quiet Professionals hereby humbly stand ever present, ever ready, and ever vigilant.


1100 Green Berets Signed the above Letter

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Randomness: Mass Effect 3

I've been doing almost exclusively politics, and it's time for a little randomness.  I love science fiction.  A lot of people do.  I play science fiction games, too.  We all have hobbies.

There have been plenty of reviews published about Mass Effect 3 and why the ending stank.  I played it anyway.  The game play was great, not a lot different from Mass Effect 2.  I had thought there was no way the ending could be as bad as the grumblings I'd seen online.

I was wrong.  It was bad.  Here are a few reasons why (warning, there is profanity in this monologue):

I had a few things to add and how Bioware killed the game and its future.  Reportedly, Bioware wanted an epic ending.  Tradition holds that that sort of ending requires the death of the hero.  Most gamers disagree.  The hero deserved a retirement in this case, and some cameos in future installments of the game.

"But wait," you may say, "Bioware really wanted this only to be a trilogy and to have an epic ending!"    Yes, it makes a tremendous amount of business sense to build an incredibly rich science fiction universe and then kill it off after 3 games.  That's what worked great with Halo.   There are plenty of adventures still to be had using wildly popular characters.  Killing the franchise doesn't make sense and make no mistake, that's what the existing endings did.  I like to do multiple play throughs of games to explore different things.  I had no urge ever to play ME3 again after seeing the ending.  I had no urge to play anything by Bioware of EA Games again after that ending.  I may play ME2 again eventually if I'm not too busy doing other things (and I suspect I will be).

Where else did they mess up?  They failed to integrate real, storyline advancing coop play.  I love playing with other people.  I found that enhanced enjoyment of games like Borderlands.  ME3 could have easily incorporated this, and they didn't.  Multiplayer is an option, but not in pursuing the storyline.

There's some hope for this last expected downloadable content package, but I don't feel it.  I haven't had any interest in the others to date.  I suspect a lot of gamers feel the same.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Gutsy grandma shoots at robber after attack

Gutsy grandma shoots at robber after attack

Grandmas aren't such easy targets if they're armed.

David Mamet makes great points

The Blaze summarized an interview with author, producer and director David Mamet.  He had some great things to say, and he said them well.  The full writeup is here, and here are the excerpts (emphasis by The Blaze):

Karl Marx summed up Communism as “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” This is a good, pithy saying, which, in practice, has succeeded in bringing, upon those under its sway, misery, poverty, rape, torture, slavery, and death.
For the saying implies but does not name the effective agency of its supposed utopia. The agency is called “The State,” and the motto, fleshed out, for the benefit of the easily confused must read The State will take from each according to his ability: the State will give to each according to his needs.” “Needs and abilities” are, of course, subjective. So the operative statement may be reduced to “the State shall take, the State shall give.”
The Left loves a phantom statistic that a firearm in the hands of a citizen is X times more likely to cause accidental damage than to be used in the prevention of crime, but what is there about criminals that ensures that their gun use is accident-free? If, indeed, a firearm were more dangerous to its possessors than to potential aggressors, would it not make sense for the government to arm all criminals, and let them accidentally shoot themselves? Is this absurd? Yes, and yet the government, of course, is arming criminals.
Violence by firearms is most prevalent in big cities with the strictest gun laws. In Chicago and Washington, D.C., for example, it is only the criminals who have guns, the law-abiding populace having been disarmed, and so crime runs riot.
Cities of similar size in Texas, Florida, Arizona, and elsewhere, which leave the citizen the right to keep and bear arms, guaranteed in the Constitution, typically are much safer. More legal guns equal less crime. What criminal would be foolish enough to rob a gun store? But the government alleges that the citizen does not need this or that gun, number of guns, or amount of ammunition. 
My grandmother came from Russian Poland, near the Polish city of Chelm. Chelm was celebrated, by the Ashkenazi Jews, as the place where the fools dwelt. And my grandmother loved to tell the traditional stories of Chelm.
Its residents, for example, once decided that there was no point in having the sun shine during the day, when it was light out—it would be better should it shine at night, when it was dark. Similarly, we modern Solons delight in passing gun laws that, in their entirety, amount to “making crime illegal.”
What possible purpose in declaring schools “gun-free zones”? Who bringing a gun, with evil intent, into a school would be deterred by the sign?
The police do not exist to protect the individual. They exist to cordon off the crime scene and attempt to apprehend the criminal. We individuals are guaranteed by the Constitution the right to self-defense. This right is not the Government’s to “award” us. They have never been granted it.
The so-called assault weapons ban is a hoax. It is a political appeal to the ignorant…
Will increased cosmetic measures make anyone safer? They, like all efforts at disarmament, will put the citizenry more at risk. Disarmament rests on the assumption that all people are good, and, basically, want the same things.
But if all people were basically good, why would we, increasingly, pass more and more elaborate laws?
The individual is not only best qualified to provide his own personal defense, he is the only one qualified to do so: and his right to do so is guaranteed by the Constitution.
President Obama seems to understand the Constitution as a “set of suggestions.” I cannot endorse his performance in office, but he wins my respect for taking those steps he deems necessary to ensure the safety of his family. Why would he want to prohibit me from doing the same?

The right to assemble kills far more people than the right to bear arms

The Jawa Report did a great job of this, so I'll link and summarize.

Here's their post:  Rusty Calls for "Common Sense Limits on Freedom of Assembly, Nightclub Control"

Here's the gist:  a nightclub fire killed 233 people.  There are plenty of things that kill many more people not only yearly but in single incidents than guns, and most of them aren't necessary or constitutionally-protected (like drinking and driving).  This is just one more example.

Norway Easing off the Warming Lie (a bit)

Norway Data Shows Earth’s Global Warming Less Severe Than Feared
After the planet’s average surface temperature rose through the 1990s, the increase has almost leveled off at the level of 2000, while ocean water temperature has also stabilized, the Research Council of Norway said in a statement on its website. After applying data from the past decade, the results showed temperatures may rise 1.9 degrees Celsius if Co2 levels double by 2050*, below the 3 degrees predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
In fact, if they were to be honest, they could admit there's been no warming at all since 2000.  You'd think that would excite people worried about anthropogenic global warming (we're all not going to die), but they get pretty upset because the truth threatens their other agendas (mostly continued government funding, but for a few, global socialism is the goal). 

Lord Monckton suggested some great ways to help alarmists ease out of the untenable position they've created for themselves using incorrect assumptions in flawed computer modeling in a fun column titled, "Bethlehem and the rat-hole problem."  This grudging admission from Norway suggests they're quietly beginning to move away from their ecochondria toward a much more rational position:  "Pollution is bad, and we need to be cleaner, but the Earth is not going to become Venus because of human activities."

That's my position, by the way, which is why I support a switch to a hydrogen economy fueled by electricity produced by LFTRs (or something similar).

*Note the "may rise."  It's not stated here, but one may justly suspect that this alarmist prediction is based on the same flawed computer models and assumptions that the last 16 years without warming clearly and scientifically debunk.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Extinction Lies

The anthropogenic theory of global warming lie is accompanied by one we don't talk about quite as much.  The extinction lie.  How overblown is it? 

This post at Watts Up With That? makes it pretty clear:
Why do I think that their conclusion [about extinction rates] is so badly flawed?

Like many modern scientists, rather than trying to find the most probable, they simply assume the worst. So they give their calculations assuming a 1% decadal extinction rate. Here’s the problem. That’s no more believable than Wilson’s 2.7% per decade rate. There are about 3,300 mammal species living on the continents (excluding Australia). If we assume that one percent of them go extinct per decade, that would mean that we should be seeing about 33 continental mammal extinctions per decade. It’s worse for birds, a 1% extinction rate for birds would be about 80 continental birds per decade. We have seen absolutely nothing even vaguely resembling that. That’s only slightly below Wilson’s estimate of a 2.7% extinction rate, and is still ridiculously high.

Instead of 33 mammals and 80 birds going extinct on the continents per decade, in the last 500 years on the great continental landmasses of the world, we’ve only seen three mammals and six birds go extinct. Only nine continental mammal and bird species are known to have gone extinct in 500 years. Three mammals and six birds in 500 years, that’s less than one continental mammal extinction per century, and these highly scientific folks are claiming that 30 mammals and 80 birds are going extinct per decade?  … once again I’m forced to ask, where are the corpses?

This kind of world-blindness astounds me. I’ve heard of living in an ivory tower, but if you were making the claim that it’s raining, wouldn’t you at least look out the ivory windows to see if water were actually falling from the sky? How can you seriously claim that we’re losing dozens and dozens of species per year when there is absolutely no sign of that in the records?

Because the reality is that despite humans cutting down the forests of the world at a rate of knots for hundreds and hundreds of years, despite clearcutting for lumber, despite slash-and-burn, despite conversions to cropland, despite building hundreds of thousands of miles of roads and fences, despite everything … only nine continental mammal and bird species have gone extinct.
Ecochondriacs have a lot of evidence to produce or it's time for them to talk a lot less and a lot less stridently.

Get Over It! We Are Not All Created Equal

This is simply a link to be able to locate this article.  It's worth a read no matter what your feelings are no this debate.  The most sensible view I've heard is that the military isn't a jobs program.  Anything that makes our military a better fighting force is a good thing.  Anything that isn't is a bad thing.

Get Over It! We Are Not All Created Equal

Feinstein Gun Control Bill to Exempt Government Officials

You've seen it.  It's on Drudge.  I'm linking it here so you can find it in the future if you'd like to.

Feinstein Gun Control Bill to Exempt Government Officials

This is nothing new for Feinstein, who opposes concealed carry, but had a concealed carry permit and carried a firearm by her own admission.  For convenience, I've also embedded that video:

She had a good reason.  I have a good reason, too.  I don't want to be a victim, and I'm a lawful citizen whose rights are protected by the 2nd Amendment.  I don't deserve to be defenseless, either.

Lawful people who want to defend themselves have the right to do so.  Government officials should have no special rights the people do not have, or you're simply creating a privileged political class like China has and the old Soviet Union had.  That's unacceptable in the U.S.

Once again:


Or, to make the point more simply and brutally:

 photo Troops_zps6473148e.jpg

An AR-15 saves lives with no shots fired

Rochester, N.Y. —  Early Tuesday morning, Christopher Boise heard a noise coming from the basement. As he walked toward the source of that noise, the RIT student noticed two men standing in the downstairs portion of his apartment.

"They were waiting for me at the bottom of the stairs," said Boise.

One of them had a handgun trained on Boise.

Within moments, Boise screamed. His cries were heard by his roommate, Raymond.

"It wasn't like a, 'I stepped by stepped on a piece of glass' kind of scream," Raymond said.  "So, I instinctively went to my gun bag."

Raymond owns an AR-15 which is a military style rifle.

Raymond estimated that just five seconds passed until the door started to open. It was one of the intruders.

"By the time I had it out and ready, one of the men came at my door, slowly opened it, saw that there was a barrel on the other side and from there backed out," Raymond said.

The two men fled the apartment.

Nothing was taken and no shots were fired.

The rifle was not loaded at the time of the home invasion, according to Raymond.
Full story here.

Criminals are armed and always will be.

"The rifle itself has no moral stature, since it has no will of its own. Naturally, it may be used by evil men for evil purposes, but there are more good men than evil, and while the latter cannot be persuaded to the path of righteousness by propaganda, they can certainly be corrected by good men with rifles." -Jeff Cooper, The Art of the Rifle

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Phil Mickelson and Taxes

I wrote a letter to Phil Mickelson yesterday morning.  Imagine my surprise when I finally got around to listening to yesterday's Glenn Beck this morning and found he was expressing some very similar thoughts.  I guess that's why he makes the big bucks while I keep a blog--he publishes quicker and takes more risks.  Here's my letter, and I'll follow it with discussion.
Mr. Mickelson, good for you.  I can only dream very happy dreams of having your net worth.  And you've worked your butt off to obtain it.  That money doesn't belong to California or the United States of America.  It belongs to you.

The idea that We the People "allow" hard working high achievers to keep what they earn is ludicrous and wrong-headed.  Every member of society consents to fair taxation for the benefit of creating a system that protects our interests.  When a mob mentality results in "soaking the rich" we've gone desperately wrong.

I understand that for the sake of endorsements, there are things you shouldn't say publicly.  Nevertheless, let me congratulate you on saying something that needed saying, even if you had to apologize to keep your sponsors.

More importantly, let me encourage you to proceed with plans to leave California.  There are many states that will treat you better.  San Diego weather is hard to duplicate, but you can approximate it at a much lower cost in some other location.

Best of luck to you.  Keep on winning golf tournaments and shame on our society for making you apologize for telling the truth.
He'll probably never read it, but some of the points I've made are important for all of us to consider.  Freedom can be defined as ownership of yourself and your time.  Slavery is the opposite, a condition in which someone else owns your person and your time.

Involuntary confiscation of your time is a form of slavery.  You trade your time for money when you work, so time really is money.  Involuntary confiscation of your money is also slavery, then.

That's why colonists in America found taxation without representation so objectionable.  It was slavery.  Today in theory our taxation also involves representation.  We consent to being taxed by exercising our right to vote and sending representatives to set policy for us, policy that includes taxation.

The flaw in that plan is that the majority can impose tyranny on the minority.  To prevent that, we have a Constitution that protects the rights of minority groups.  We've even overcome the great shame of slavery because of the principles of freedom the nation was founded on, though it took us longer than modern Americans might have liked.

The very wealthy are a minority group protected by the tyranny of the majority by the Constitution.  When we engage in "soak the rich" policies, we're seeking to enslave a minority group, even if it's a soft and comfortable form of slavery.  We're still telling them, "Your time and person are not your own, and you have no real say in it.  Love, the Majority."

That isn't the way America is supposed to work, and it leads to truly frightening ideas.  Here's one:  Why Do We Allow Inheritance at All?  If the title alone doesn't frighten you, you're not thinking hard enough about it. 

After all, why should kids be allowed to inherit?  I know, you are about to say something along the lines of "I worked hard so that my kids could . . . "  That is a noble emotion.  But at the point at which this question becomes relevant, you will be dead.  And dead people don't have rights.  They don't own property. They don't get to make decisions.
The assumption here is, "Society owns you and all you produce.  You only have the right to keep what we, the Majority, allow you to keep."  That's Marxism, pure and simple.  It's turning freedom on its head.  Principles of freedom would instead say, "If, though hard work and great ideas you succeed in making far more money with your time than others, all that you accrue is yours to do with as you see fit, less a small portion which you consent to pay in taxes."  The key here is ownership.  I own my person, my time and the accrued value of that time.  The government, society and the Majority do not own my person, my time or the accrued value of my time, though I consent to give some of it to provide for necessary functions of government so I can spend my time making wealth instead of trying to cling to it against anarchy.  Ownership of my accrued time means I get to use it how I like.  So even if Estate or Death Taxes actually accomplished what they're supposed to do, they'd be a horrible violation of the principles of freedom.  Since they don't, they're an simply an atrocity that needs to be eliminated.

If you're free, you own yourself and your time.  If you aren't, someone else does, whether we call that someone a slave master, society, the Majority or the government.  People who understand this whether intuitively or explicitly, have reached their breaking points.  We as people must realize our freedom is more valuable to us than any government hand outs.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Hydrogen fuel-cell cars look to overtake electric autos

This article is a few months old, but serves to introduce something very important.

Hydrogen fuel-cell cars look to overtake electric autos 

This is good because our batteries simply aren't very efficient at this point.  They take a very long time to charge and don't go terribly far on what they've stored.  I'd love to see better battery technology, too, but I suspect we'll never get as much out of batteries as we can from hydrogen fuel.  To understand this visually, here's a graph of energy densities blog author Mark generated some time ago for a different purpose:

 photo DinosaurJuiceSM_zpsae8faffc.png

Here's a link that chart if you'd like to see it larger.

So, I'm excited to see that after repeatedly bashing our heads against the wall using old battery technology, we're looking toward a better solution.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Yes, we know

James Hansen (NASA) Admits Global Temperature Standstill Is Real

Hansen has been a huge proponent of the anthropogenic theory of global warming, even making errors in his efforts to support the theory (and undermining NASA's credibility).  It's nice to see him come clean, or at least a bit cleaner.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Burglary Stopped

Most defensive uses of firearms never involve shots being fired.  Simple presentation is sufficient.  A word of warning:  check your state laws.  If you did this in California, you'd be arrested for brandishing and probably assault with a deadly weapon.

Another great take on Gun Control


Sorry, Mark. I know you hate text in pictures (they're really for Twitter), but the point is well made.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Population Bomb

As late as a half a year ago, I had a friend trying to convince me we have a population problem in line with the debunked book of the late 60's book "The Population Bomb."

Looks like that's not going to happen.  From Slate:
A somewhat more arcane milestone, meanwhile, generated no media coverage at all: It took humankind 13 years to add its 7 billionth. That’s longer than the 12 years it took to add the 6 billionth—the first time in human history that interval had grown. (The 2 billionth, 3 billionth, 4 billionth, and 5 billionth took 123, 33, 14, and 13 years, respectively.) In other words, the rate of global population growth has slowed. And it’s expected to keep slowing. Indeed, according to experts’ best estimates, the total population of Earth will stop growing within the lifespan of people alive today.

And then it will fall.
We knew affluent societies stop having children.  Europe has been facing this problem for years, as has Japan.  Reading the article, however, there's a huge shocker.  We anticipated that less developed populations which tend to have many children, would simply expand to fill the void.  Europe's "native" population would be replaced by immigrants, as would happen in the U.S. once we actually fell below replacement rate.

That isn't happening.  Third world birth rates are falling, too.

It would take us many years to die out as a species, but this is a fascinating development that will make for interesting study for years to come.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Friday, January 11, 2013

Pharmacist saves himself and his mother

An attempt to rob a Madera pharmacy of cough medicine Tuesday night ignited a short but deadly gunfight between a gang member and a store owner who is a competitive pistol shooter.

Wrong pharmacy, thug.  If only we had even stricter gun control in California.  The gang member criminal might be alive today instead of the innocent pharmacist.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Logical Case Against Climate Panic

Lord Monckton has been a bastion of scientific thought and logic in the fight against hysteria regarding the anthropogenic theory of global warming.  He's done it again in "The Logical Case Against Climate Panic."

Some excellent bits:
“Consensus” is the New Religion’s central fallacy. Arguing blindly from consensus is the head-count fallacy, the argumentum ad populum. Al-Haytham, founder of the scientific method, wrote: “The seeker after truth does not put his faith in any mere consensus. Instead, he checks.”
Claiming that the “consensus” is one of revered experts is the argumentum ad verecundiam, the fallacy of appeal to authority. T.H. Huxley said in 1860, “The improver of natural knowledge absolutely refuses to acknowledge authority, as such. For him, scepticism is the highest of duties: blind faith the one unpardonable sin.”
Note that believing without verifying based on the testimony of "those who know better" is religion.  You may not have the background to read the detailed analysis of research, but you can at least apply a skeptical eye to what's presented and ask, "Does that make sense?  Why or why not?"  Whether your prophets wear robes or lab coats, if you do not question, that's what they are.
Believers talk of a “consensus of evidence”. Yet evidence cannot hold opinions. Besides, there has been no global warming for 18 years; sea level has risen for eight years at just 1.3 in/century; notwithstanding Sandy, hurricane activity is at its least in the 33-year satellite record; ocean heat content is rising four and a half times more slowly than predicted; global sea-ice extent has changed little; Himalayan glaciers have not lost ice; and the U.N.’s 2005 prediction of 50 million “climate refugees” by 2010 was absurd. The evidence does not support catastrophism.

Believers say: “Only if we include a strong warming effect from CO2 can we explain the past 60 years’ warming. We know of no other reason.” This is the argumentum ad ignorantiam, the fundamental fallacy of argument from ignorance. Besides, natural variability is reason enough.
They say: “Global warming is accelerating, so we are to blame.” Even if warming were accelerating, this non sequitur is an instance of the argumentum ad causam falsam, the fallacy of arguing from a false cause. They go on to say: “CO2 concentration has risen; warming has occurred; the former caused the latter.” This is the post hoc ergo propter hoc sub-species of the same fallacy.

They say: “What about the cuddly polar bears?” This is the argumentum ad misericordiam, the fallacy of needless pity. There are five times as many polar bears as there were in the 1940s – hardly, as you may think, the profile of a species at imminent threat of extinction. No need to pity the bears, and they are not cuddly.

They say: “We tell the models there will be strong CO2- driven warming. And, yes, the models predict it.” This is the fallacy of arguing in circles, the argumentum ad petitionem principii, where the premise is the conclusion.

They say: “Global warming caused extra-tropical storm Sandy.” This inappropriate argument from the general to the particular is the argumentum a dicto simpliciter ad dictum secundum quid, the fallacy of accident. Individual extreme events cannot be ascribed to global warming.

They say: “Melting Arctic sea ice is a symptom of global warming.” This unsound argument from the particular to the general is the argumentum a dicto secundum quid ad dictum simpliciter, the fallacy of converse accident. Arctic sea ice is melting, but the Antarctic has cooled for 30 years and the sea ice there is growing, so the decline in Arctic sea ice does not indicate a global problem.

They say: “Monckton says he’s a member of the House of Lords, but the Clerk says he isn’t, so he’s not credible.” This is the argumentum ad hominem, a shoddy sub-species of ignoratio elenchi, the fundamental red-herring fallacy of ignorance of how a true argument is conducted.

They say: “We don’t care what the truth is. We want more power, tax and regulation. Global warming is our pretext. If you disagree, we will haul you before the International Climate Court.” This is the nastiest of all logical fallacies: the argumentum ad baculum, the argument of force.

These numerous in-your-face illogicalities provoke four questions: Has the Earth warmed as predicted? If not, why not? What if I am wrong? And what if I am right?
Continue reading here.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Wrong ideas badly implemented

Whoops—'Cash for Clunkers' Actually Hurt the Environment

What was supposed to be a win for consumers, struggling car dealers and the environment turned out to be a mess.
The program's first mistake seems to have been its focus on car shredding, instead of car recycling. With 690,000 vehicles traded in, that's a pretty big mistake.

According to the Automotive Recyclers Association (ARA), automobiles are almost completely recyclable, down to their engine oil and brake fluid. But many of the “Cash for Clunkers” cars were never sent to recycling facilities. The agency reports that the cars’ engines were instead destroyed by federal mandate, in order to prevent dealers from illicitly reselling the vehicles later.

The remaining parts of each car could then be put up for auction, but program guidelines also required that after 180 days, no matter how much of the car was left, the parts would be sent to a junkyard and shredded.
Why is that bad?  Recycling the parts produces a lot less waste that has to go to landfills.
 E Magazine states recycling just the plastic and metal alone from the CARS scraps would have saved 24 million barrels of oil. While some of the “Clunkers” were truly old, many of the almost 700,000 cars were still in perfectly good condition. In fact, many that qualified for the program were relatively “young,” with fuel efficiencies that rivaled newer cars.

And though the point was to get less fuel efficient cars off the roads, with only 690,000 traded in, and over 250 million registered in the U.S., the difference in pollutant levels seems pretty negligible.

But all that vehicular destruction did more than create unnecessary waste for the environment. It also had some far-reaching economic effects.
The rest is available at the Yahoo link, which will also link you to the original article at E Magazine.  The manipulation of the car market wasn't good for consumers.  Even if you believe in anthropogenic global warming,* the trade-in appears to have done nothing to help. 

*If you still believe in anthropogenic global warming, don't worry.  Christopher Monckton has suggested some helpful ways to let you down easy now that the inaccuracies of the alarmist computer models the theory is based on have been scientifically demonstrated.

Woman hiding with kids shoots intruder

Prior to the invention of firearms, smaller and usually less strong individuals were always at the mercy of larger, stronger ones.  While some people still seek to use force to coerce or injure others, firearms have largely had a civilizing influence in that a sensible person, realizing the other might be armed, will not try to resort to force.  He or she must reason and convince by merit of his or her arguments, or if something is sought, fair negotiations must take place instead of outright robbery.

Less sensible people choose to use their size, strength and willingness to do violence to harm others.  Paul Slater, a man with a history of battering others, is a man like that.  He used a crowbar to break into a home where only a woman and her 9-year-old twins were present.  She didn't want a confrontation.  She ran and hid with her children in a crawlspace of the home.  Burglaries are horrible violations, but as long as she and her children were safe, she was willing to let that crime be dealt with by the police.

What she wasn't willing to do was be a victim or let her children become victims.  So, when the criminal did find her and her children, she shot him five times. 

A smaller, likely physically weaker woman was able to protect herself and her children from a violent man using a last resort solution.

Full story here.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Best Argument For Gun Ownership

Great points from a Jawa Report poster:

Best Argument For Gun Ownership

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Sam Harris on Guns

If you've read much of my posting on firearms, you'll quickly realize that I disagree strongly with some of the points Sam Harris makes in the below-linked post.  He also makes some I strongly agree with, he makes them well and I suspect those on the Left will be more likely to listen to those things from someone who shares their ideology than they would be if the same arguments came from me.

What I know for sure is that no matter which side of the debate you're on, this will probably make you think and it will probably upset you a bit.  The former is excellent and the latter means he's been more reasonable than most of us on the issue.

Sam Harris:  The Riddle of the Gun