Friday, January 31, 2014

What I've discovered today about Stuff You Should Know

You may have guessed that I'm a big podcast listener.  What you might not have known is that I'm a huge fan of Stuff you Missed in History Class and Stuff you Should Know.

So, fair warning to my libertarian and conservative friends:  Do not listen to any of Josh and Chuck's Stuff you Should Know podcasts that have any significant political content.  At least, don't listen to them if you want to avoid apoplexy.

Politics isn't their specialty, and Josh really just can't help himself.  He's a leftist through and through and what he sees as nonpartisan is generally aligned with what Chris Matthews sees as nonpartisan.

For example, their recent podcast on the debt ceiling made me want to scream.  First, they called the tea party extremely partisan.  While some members of the various tea party groups are, the only unifying principle throughout the movement is fiscal responsibility.  Tea party members don't agree on much, but they agree that crushing, multigenerational debt is immoral and unjust to our children and grandchildren.  Many people who consider themselves Democrats, Republicans and Libertarians all believe this strongly and were in agreement with the tea party movement at least until the media and major political parties started vilifying it.  That's by definition a nonpartisan movement.

Josh went on to blithely throw out the "fact" that Greece proved austerity doesn't work.  Excuse me?  Really?  Here's one post that debunks that mistaken idea.
Europe has tried “austerity” since 2008, but the United States has not. The meaning of austerity is different over there: higher taxes on the people, with only a little more spending. 

While dancing on the grave of austerity, the Keynesians sing a song of higher spending. Excess debt is fine, they chime, so high spending is nothing to worry about.

Contrary to Blodgett, all we have done since the 2010 elections is to keep the increases in government spending at bay. We are still spending an outrageous amount, and not getting anything for it.

Stimulus spending will continue to fail, because government spending, in and of itself, does not promote economic growth. There is no point going ever further into debt when doing so will not help.
Why won't more stimulus help?  I've posted the longer explanation here if you're interested:  Why more Stimulus won't create more jobs

So, if you aren't a Leftist and you don't enjoy yelling at your podcasting device, anything by Stuff you Should Know on politics is probably best simply skipped.  Save yourself the aneurysm.  The rest of their stuff is great.  They're informative and entertaining fellows, and having had a few e-mail exchanges, I can tell you they're nice guys as well.

Income Inequality is not a Problem

David Brooks wrote a great column in the New York Times about income inequality.  I'd love to just copy and paste the whole thing, but he deserves the page hits for his work so I'll just grab a few tidbits.  Read the whole column here:  The Inequality Problem
If you have a primitive zero-sum mentality then you assume growing affluence for the rich must somehow be causing the immobility of the poor, but, in reality, the two sets of problems are different, and it does no good to lump them together and call them “inequality.”
If you're not familiar with the language being used, what that means is that there's not a fixed amount of wealth in the U.S.  So one person being rich does not take from you or anyone else--a rich person isn't making anyone else poor because she's rich.  A good idea and hard work will actually create wealth.  This is demonstrated by the fact that the wealth of Americans grows over time, or at least it has consistently through history.  The total amount of stuff and wealth we have is far greater than our grandparents had and there are more people here today then there were then.  Clearly, wealth grows if used well.  It's not a fixed amount that never changes.
...raising the minimum wage may not be an effective way to help those least well-off. Joseph J. Sabia of San Diego State University and Richard V. Burkhauser of Cornell looked at the effects of increases in the minimum wage between 2003 and 2007. Consistent with some other studies, they find no evidence that such raises had any effect on the poverty rates.
This is an odd one.  There are many reasons raising the minimum wage doesn't help people at the bottom, but despite the economic reality, people still think it's a great idea.  They're just not following the data at all.  Because it polls well, politicians keep doing it even though it seems to be hurting the poorest among us.  One big issue is that if you make it too expensive to hire an entry level worker, employers won't do that, so minimum wage jobs that teach the basic skills a worker needs to move on to better-paying jobs that require more qualifications disappear.
the income inequality frame contributes to our tendency to simplify complex cultural, social, behavioral and economic problems into strictly economic problems.

There is a very strong correlation between single motherhood and low social mobility. There is a very strong correlation between high school dropout rates and low mobility. There is a strong correlation between the fraying of social fabric and low economic mobility. There is a strong correlation between de-industrialization and low social mobility. It is also true that many men, especially young men, are engaging in behaviors that damage their long-term earning prospects; much more than comparable women.
In short, many of our own behaviors are the problem, not the wages being offered.  Young men are choosing to engage in criminal behaviors that make them undesirable to employers.  Poor life choices lead to low social mobility.

Brooks ends with a very strong conclusion:
If we’re going to mobilize a policy revolution, we should focus on the real concrete issues: bad schools, no jobs for young men, broken families, neighborhoods without mediating institutions. We should not be focusing on a secondary issue and a statistical byproduct.
I'd encourage you to go read the whole column.  If you're interested, I have more to say, too.

The term "income inequality" is ludicrous if you stop to think about it.  Pay is based on skill.  If you have rare and valuable skills, you'll be paid highly.  If you don't, you won't.  It's the same reason gemstones are precious--they're rare and desirable.

Obtaining those skills can involve a lot of effort.  A neurosurgeon will spend at least 4 years in college, at least 4 years in medical school and very likely 8 years learning to operate on a human brain.  She'll incur a lot of debt in the process.  With those valuable and rare skills she's learned, she should anticipate being able to pay back that debt and afterward, being able to live well.  Should she be paid the same as someone who's skill is to dig ditches and move rocks?  Or should the manual laborer be paid the same as she is?

Trying to insure equality of income is also known as enforcing equality of outcome instead of equality of opportunity.  To go by a shorter name, it's called communism.  How did communism work out the in the U.S.S.R.?  Ask anyone who went to a low-paid doctor or dentist under the system.  People who aren't paid well for the hard work of obtaining rare and valuable skills don't bother to work hard in the training process and they don't do good work once they have their substandard skills.  The result is bad for everyone.

So, yes, your airline pilot should be paid more than the guy who flips your burgers.  And no, entry level jobs shouldn't pay enough to sustain a family of 4.  They're supposed to provide training so you can get a better job.  Income isn't supposed to be equal, and when governments try to make it so, everyone loses.

Greenpeace rewrites history to make Patrick Moore disappear

If you've followed my blog for a while, you'll know that I've been impressed by Patrick Moore.  He's made a tremendous case for increased use of nuclear energy, and was one of the sources that influenced my conviction that our future lies in some form of nuclear power.  I wrote more about that here:  Going Glowing Green.

Patrick Moore, one of the several founders of Greenpeace, left when the organization decided they wanted to push government to ban chlorine.  At the time, Patrick Moore thinks he was the last trained scientist with Greenpeace.  He explained you can't ban a naturally occurring element.  It just wasn't a reasonable thing to attempt to do.  Greenpeace decided to try it anyway.  Patrick Moore left and founded Geenspirit.  My old links to that site don't seem to work, so perhaps he's moved on from that.

Now Greenpeace is actively engaged in rewriting history to eliminate any record of Patrick Moore because as a trained scientist, he's become skeptical of the anthropogenic theory of global warming.  Note that that's what good scientists do.  If a theory is not supported by empirical evidence, if the modeling behind it keeps coming up wrong year after year, a scientist should be skeptical of the theory.  That's the difference between a scientist and a religious zealot.

So, I applaud Mr. Moore for his integrity to scientific principles and can only shake my head at the religious zealots of Greenpeace who are evidently dedicated disciples of the prophet Al Gore.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Israel and Palestine

There's been renewed discussion on Israel and Palestine following a banned ad featuring Scarlett Johansson.

From the Telegraph: 
Actress Scarlett Johansson is ending her relationship with Oxfam after being criticised over her support for an Israeli company that operates in the West Bank.
We've been trained in the U.S. to abhor and oppressor and support the oppressed.  That's not a bad thing, but the mainstream media has it wrong on Palestine.  

Here's an article from the Jerusalem Post that lays out the details, and I'll copy some below in case it's ever taken down.  This gentleman is referring specifically to the peace talks President Obama was trying to insist Israel hold.  Yes, this is from a Jewish perspective.  I'll explain why that's just fine in just a bit.
Fact 1:  There is no such thing as an Arab “Palestinian.” Before Israel’s statehood in 1948, the name "Palestinian" meant a Jewish person living in that land, not an Arab. The word Palestinian became associated with Arabs only later, when Yasser Arafat artificially created a new so-called nation of Arab "Palestinians," many of whom came from and have direct relatives in neighboring countries, such as Jordan or Egypt. By 1948 enough Jewish people had returned to the land to establish the modern Jewish state of Israel. So all the world should know that there never was a "Palestinian Arab" state, nor even a "Palestinian Arab" people. They should know that all the Arabs living in the Israeli territories came from neighboring Arab states.

Fact 2:  There is no opportunity for peace without Israel’s recognized right to exist. Israel has offered at least three times some 97 percent of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) to the Arabs, and each time the Arabs have refused. Netanyahu concludes that the Israeli-Arab conflict is not about real estate, but rather about the explicit right of a Jewish state to exist. "It is over our existence in any borders whatsoever," he stressed.

Fact 3:  Jewish settlers have greatly improved their traditional land of Judea and Samaria. Arabs claim that the Jews have stolen their land when in reality the Jewish people who have built beautiful homes and thriving communities in the areas known as Judea and Samaria have simply rebuilt the towns and villages of their forefathers. The international community also calls these settlers, "occupiers," and charges them with being obstacles to peace by seizing land that belongs to the so-called "Palestinian Arabs." They obviously blind themselves to the fact that there never was a "Palestinian Arab" state on that land. The original idea of a "Palestinian Arab" state only arose in 1993 with the Oslo Accords.  Prior to that the land was basically undeveloped swamp land until Jewish people started returning to the land around 1900 in the Zionist movement.

Fact 4:  True and lasting peace between Israel and the Arabs is unachievable until the Arabs agree to become a legitimate partner for peace. Netanyahu has pointed to the hostile rhetoric of Hamas, coupled with "Palestinian Arab" leader Mahmoud Abbas' efforts to reconcile with the terrorist group, as the primary reason that such peace is simply not possible. Last summer in Gaza Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal spoke to thousands of Gazans declaring that "Palestine is our land and nation, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River, from the north to the south, and we will not cede one inch of it." He went on to insist that political, diplomatic and legal efforts to achieve control of the land "must be coupled with violence." He stressed that all non-violent methods are "senseless."
Now I'll move on to why that perspective should matter.  Israel is the only country in the region that voluntarily uses democratic principles in its governance.  We forced such governance on Iraq, and we can't be sure it will last.  

Israel is the only country in the region that won't execute you for being openly homosexual.  If you support gay rights, you should be supporting Israel.

Israel is the only country in the region that treats women as equal citizens with men.  If you support women's rights, you should be supporting Israel.

Israel is the only country in the region that offers full religious freedom.  Israel is fine with you being a Christian, Jew, Muslim or any other faith and they won't penalize you for your beliefs.  The Muslim countries surrounding it will limit your rights if you are not Muslim.  The Muslim citizens of those countries may choose to execute you, with or without government approval if you do not join their faith.  NonMuslims will at best be treated as Dhimmi.

If you support the individual right to believe or not believe, you should be supporting Israel.

Israel simply isn't the bad guy in the Middle East.  The reclaiming of ancient Jewish lands of Judea and Samaria isn't oppression, and if they'd stop sending rockets and suicide bombers into Israel, Palestinians would live in full fellowship with Israelis.  Only Arab Muslim hatred of Jews is preventing that reality.  Israel is not the oppressor and they believe in human freedom.  Women can drive and you can worship or not worship who you want there.  It's time for the American Left and Media to stop supporting the wrong side of this argument.

Here's a video from Sodastream describing their operations:

Time Blames Global Cooling and Global Warming for the Polar Vortex

I'm writing on this to preserve the record.  It comes from PJ Media, and you can find their article here:  Time Magazine Swings Both Ways

They posted:

As spotted by Steve Goddard, and linked to by Climate Depot:
In 1974, Time Magazine blamed the cold polar vortex on global cooling.
‘Scientists have found other indications of global cooling. For one thing there has been a noticeable expansion of the great belt of dry, high-altitude polar winds —the so-called circumpolar vortex—that sweep from west to east around the top and bottom of the world.’
Forty years later, Time Magazine blames the cold polar vortex on global warming
‘But not only does the cold spell not disprove climate change, it may well be that global warming could be making the occasional bout of extreme cold weather in the U.S. even more likely. Right now much of the U.S. is in the grip of a polar vortex, which is pretty much what it sounds like: a whirlwind of extremely cold, extremely dense air that forms near the poles.’

For the ecochondriacs to convince you of anthropogenic global warming, they have to assume you're either stupid or have no memory.  It isn't reasonable to claim the same weather event in different decades is caused by opposite climate change scares.

As I've pointed out in the past, Earth's climate has always changed.  That's the only constant in recorded and scientifically reconstructed weather history.  So, you can't just call your cause "climate change" because that's a given.  You must claim anthropogenic warming or cooling and prove your case.  The current movement hasn't done that, and they're panicking as their case is further undermined by mounting evidence against their claims of anthropogenic global warming.

 photo TimeMagazineGlobalCoolingGlobalWarming_zps57ffe9e2.jpg
Here's a link to the full image at photobucket.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

What Los Angeles can do about California's water shortage right now

There are welcome clouds over Northern California that might bring us a bit of much-needed rain, but it won't be enough to stave off drought.  Californians are being urged to conserve water.

In the midst of this crisis, there's something Los Angeles can do right now to help.  I found the information in a Time article linked here.

There are several ideas, but here's the one that would help most:
Finally, there is the kind of water that we throw away: wastewater. We should recycle it. And we already do. The city’s wastewater treatment facility in El Segundo is an engineering marvel that treats dirty water and sends it into the ocean. Every day, L.A. pours nearly 300 million gallons into the ocean. Yes, that bears repeating: we dump millions of gallons of highly treated water into the Pacific Ocean every day.

Why not keep that water here instead?

Right now, Orange County takes wastewater and treats it to ultra pure levels, producing 10 million gallons a day of water that is superior to bottled water in quality (both by chemical analysis and blind taste tests). In the OC, they have effectively duplicated the process of purification that takes place in nature, only much faster. I have drunk this water, and it tastes like any bottled water. Orange County takes this water and dumps it onto the ground to be naturally filtered, so that it can replenish groundwater to supplement drinking supplies.

With wastewater recycling, L.A. could produce 100 billion gallons of bottle-quality water a year, or about half of our total water needs.  This is a supply that is not dependent upon a distant source or subject to interruption by economics, politics, or damage to the water transport system. There is a plan from LADWP to recycle this water on a small scale, but it does not take full advantage of the opportunity.
Desalination is expensive, but right now LA is dumping clean fresh water to the ocean.  Instead, LA could do a bit more purification and have 100 million gallons more of drinking water every year, saving vast quantities of water that would normally be shipped from Colorado and Northern California.  Would I drink that "toilet to tap" water?  You bet.  Municipal sources of water already contain some amount of treated wastewater, it's just usually gone through a river or lake first.  The purified water like Orange County produces would be even cleaner than what I'm drinking now.

An Inconvenient Study

Not long ago I posted on global warming skepticism, including the fact that the earth was warmer in Medieval and Roman times.  A new study provides even more information:

Inconvenient study: Arctic was warmer than the present during the Medieval Warm Period (From Watts Up With That?)

If you don't read Watts Up With That and you don't believe in anthropogenic global warming, you should give it a look.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Who's the Enemy?

I've made the point in the past that I wish our discourse in America were a bit more civil.  I'm harsh in my criticism of what I see as wrong, but I don't hate proponents of those positions.  I hope they'll change their opinions in time (and I'm sure they hope the same of me).  Here's something I hope we can agree on.  I was reviewing some clips last night and saw this particular speech, from about 53 seconds to one minute and 28 seconds.  I've set the start and stop times.  There were some nice reminders many of us could use:

In case the video ever is removed, here's the text:  "Who is the enemy?  Is it the alien?  Well, we are all alien to one another.  Is it the one who believes differently than we do?  No.  Oh, no, my friends.  The enemy is fear.  The enemy is ignorance.  The enemy is the one who tells you that you must hate that which is different because in the end that hate will turn on you and that same hate will destroy you."

The Armed Citizen

Charles Carlson, 75, awoke around 2 AM when he heard noises coming from the kitchen of his farmhouse. He got up to investigate. When Carlson entered the kitchen, an intruder held a revolver to his head. Carlson's quick thinking may have saved his life. He pretended to be blind and hard of hearing, which made the intruder lower his weapon. At that moment, Carlson swiftly grabbed his own 9 mm handgun and told the intruder to get on the floor. He complied, but then stood up and advanced toward Carlson. Carlson ordered him to stop. When the man continued toward him, Carlson fired. After sustaining a gunshot wound to the leg, the intruder reached for the gun in his pocket, prompting Carlson to fire a second time. The second gunshot proved fatal for the 23-year-old intruder. A second intruder heard the gunshots and fled. (Star Tribune, Sandstone, Minn., 11/17/2013)

A couple woke to the sound of a man screaming in their backyard around 3:15 AM. The husband yelled at the man and told him to get off his property, while his wife called 911. The man threatened the couple before shattering a glass door and entering the home where the couple's baby slept. The husband retrieved a firearm and fired, killing the intruder. It was reported that the 22-year-old man had been hallucinating and ranting about zombies at a party just hours before. (Los Angeles Times, Yorba Linda, Calif., 11/26/2013)

Krick's Korner, a local convenience store, was open around 2 PM when two men wearing masks entered. They held the store clerk at gunpoint and demanded money, cigarettes and lottery tickets. Meanwhile, a man exiting a nearby apartment building saw the robbery taking place. He quickly drew his concealed firearm and ordered the robbers to stop as they made their way outside. They turned their guns on the concerned citizen, prompting him to fire his gun. Both robbers sustained fatal gunshot wounds to the chest. No other injuries were reported. (Reading Eagle, Reading, Pa., 11/05/2013)

Tariq Bell and his 13-year-old daughter had just left a music store when they were approached by a 40-year-old stranger. The man had just robbed someone at a nearby hotel and was being pursued by police. The fugitive grabbed Bell from behind, jumped into the driver's seat of his vehicle and demanded the keys. With his daughter already in the backseat of the vehicle, Bell acted quickly. He drew his firearm and ordered the man to get out of his vehicle. When the fugitive saw . Bell's gun, he fled. It was reported that he then tried to carjack another victim who sped away. He was, however, successful in carjacking a third victim and led police on a high speed chase. He was ultimately apprehended and faces charges including armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping and aggravated assault on a police officer. Neither Bell nor his daughter was injured during the incident. (WSB Radio, Snellville, Ga., 11/13/2013)

When Alan Abele, 68, crept outside to investigate the thumping sounds at his back door around 4 AM, he found an unexpected trespasser. After quickly grabbing a flashlight and his .357 magnum pistol, Abele opened the door to his back porch and was met with an angry 200-lb., 6-ft. alligator. The animal sprang toward Abele. He said, "I was crouched down and looking around when he hit me hard enough to knock me into a planter. The next thing I knew he's coming at me with his jaws open..." Abele pulled the trigger just in time as the alligator was just inches away. Abele said he regrets having to kill the alligator, but was glad he had his gun with him. Abele suffered only a minor bruise during the attack. (Tampa Bay Times, Dunnellon, Fla., 10/24/2013)

Police found 32-year-old Nathan Ford in the street outside of his own home. He suffered multiple gunshot wounds after defending himself from an armed intruder. The intruder's wounds proved fatal. His body was found inside the home. It was last reported that Ford is expected to recover from his injuries. (MyFox 8, Greensboro, N.C., 11/20/2013)

A man driving with his vehicle's windows down was stopped at a red light when he was approached by another man he did not know. The stranger pulled out a handgun, pointed it at the driver and demanded that he get out of the vehicle. Instead, the driver refused and pulled out his own registered firearm. After being confronted with the gun, the would-be robber fled the scene on foot. (The Palm Beach Post, West Palm Beach, Fla., 11/14/2013)

Want even more stories? Visit The Armed Citizen blog.

Other accounts of self-defense collected on this blog:
Shopkeeper Defends Himself and Employees,
2nd Amendment Saves a Pregnant Woman,
Armed Student Saves 10 People,
2nd Amendment vs. a Serial Rapist,
Crime Spree Stopped with the Simple Presentation of a Firearm.

Failures of Gun Control:
UK Government under reports gun violence to pretend their policies work
Scotland holds a Summit on their Failed Gun Policies, Chicago's gun ban continues to fail
Real Women's Rights (This one includes one of my favorite personal accounts)
Opposition to CA AB 2062
Knife Control?!
Protecting Children through Gun Control?
Futility of the Gun Banning Philosophy
A Contrast to VA Tech

Thoughts just prior to the release of DC v. Heller, with one of the best appellate court quotations ever.

Thoughts on publicized shootings: Shootings early in 2009, Alabama Shootings, Finland School Shooting. Remember: The only proven method to mitigate the disaster of a rogue criminal shooter is to have more first responders, e.g. CCW permit holders lawfully armed and on scene. These criminals do not respect "gun free" zones, but simply view them as target-rich opposition-free areas in which to slaughter innocents.

Carrying a firearm is an inherently civilized act.

Right to Carry Statistics.

Does Violence Beget Violence?

Saturday, January 25, 2014

It was so Cold

 photo Cold_zps1f8a666b.jpg

When People don't Understand Science

I've been meaning to comment on the very sad case of Jahi McMath.  For those who don't know, Jahi was a young lady who was having trouble with sleep apnea.  I'm not her doctor, so I can't be sure of the details of why surgery was deemed necessary.  From her photographs, it looks very much like weight loss would have been a safer, healthier way to help solve her problem.  I suppose I have the benefit of hindsight, knowing the outcome doctors couldn't have foreseen when they recommended surgery.

The surgery included removing Jahi's tonsils, adenoids and uvula.  It's a routine surgery, but definitely has risks, as some of the tissues to be removed are very close to the major arteries of the neck. 

Jahi was one of the very, very unlucky few who have complications following the surgery.  "Jahi underwent surgery Dec. 9 to remove her tonsils, adenoids and uvula at Children's Hospital Oakland. She was declared brain-dead three days later after going into cardiac arrest and suffering extensive hemorrhaging in her brain.  At least three neurologists confirmed Jahi was unable to breathe on her own, had no blood flow to her brain and had no sign of electrical activity."

The family wouldn't believe it, though.  Jahi responded to touch.  For the curious, even a brain-dead person can do that because some response to stimuli is handled by the nerves in the spine.  It can look a lot like the person is still alive, but they aren't.

Let me pause to say I'm not unsympathetic to the family.  My own child isn't much younger than Jahi, and had her tonsils out at age seven to put an end to chronic strep throat infections.  Losing her following that surgery would have been absolutely devastating.  Any parent can imagine the pain Jahi's parents are going through.  None of us wants to experience it.

Unfortunately, keeping Jahi on a ventilator won't really help.  She is brain dead.  Her brain has no blood flow and is very literally decomposing in her head.  The ventilator and feeding tube aren't keeping her alive, but just slowing her body's inevitable decomposition.

As desperately sad as this situation is, there's no benefit to what the family is doing.  They're drawing out their own pain. 

I've debated the benefit of commenting on this story at all, but I do it in the hopes that more people will understand brain death and help teach others so when tragedies do happen, families can choose closure or even to help others rather than prolonging the grieving process.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Microstamping Drives Firearms Manufacturers out of California

Smith & Wesson has joined Sturm, Ruger & Co. Inc. in abandoning California as a market for new semi-auto handgun sales.  The cause is the microstamping law going into effect this year.  On its website, Smith & Wesson states:  "Smith & Wesson does not and will not include microstamping in its firearms.  A number of studies have indicated that microstamping is unreliable, serves no safety purpose, is cost
prohibitive and, most importantly, is not proven to aid in preventing or solving crimes."

While Smith & Wesson is right, the law is going to be very successful in terms of its actual purpose.  Anyone with any familiarity with firearms realizes microstamping won't solve crimes, and I'll explain more below.  Fortunately for the lawmakers involved, the plan was never to solve crimes, but rather to make firearms more expensive and harder to buy in California for lawful gun owners.  Mission accomplished.

What is microstamping?  The firing pin of a semi-automatic weapon would imprint a unique, identifiable mark on the cartridge casing (the primer cap, specifically) of a round when the weapon is fired.  Here's the first problem:  the technology for mass production doesn't exist.  There are prototypes that are unreliable, but there isn't a way to put even the unreliable technology into millions of guns.

If you know nothing about firearms, this technology seems like it might be helpful in solving crimes.  In practice, it would be less effective than New York and Maryland's "ballistic fingerprinting" laws.  The idea behind those is that you can help solve crimes CSI style.  Each new gun is test fired and the unique pattern imprinted on the bullet by the rifling of the firearm is put into a database.  If a crime is ever committed by a gun, they'll be able to match the "fingerprint" to the gun.  Tens of thousands of firearms are in the databases in those states now.  To date, I'm not aware of a single crime solved because of that information.  Much like human fingerprints, it turns out rifling in gun barrels isn't as unique as advertised, and circumstances of impact can render the patterns unusuable (much like a very smeared fingerprint).  Even if you can identify the gun involved, see point 1 below.  It won't normally do any good.

Microstamping would be even less useful, since the casing ejected from the gun doesn't actually harm anyone.  It might just establish a certain gun was used in a crime.  By now a reader might wonder, why wouldn't that help?

 Microstamping can be rendered ineffective in at least three ways:

1.  Use of stolen or illegally imported guns would defeat microstamping.  Most guns used in crimes are stolen guns.  A database of the registration* information of that gun, the microstamping information, or even the "ballistic fingerprint" won't help solve the crime, as it will only point back to a stolen gun.  In fact, it's a waste of taxpayer money, because it's not a lead for police, it's a dead end they must waste time chasing down.  Further, with a completely unsecured border to our South, plenty of illegal guns come in and they won't have microstamping technology incorporated into them.

2.  A simple misdirection would defeat microstamping.  A smart criminal with a bit of time at the crime scene could pick up his own casings and then dump a bag of spent casings collected from a range or other source at the scene of the crime.  Not that he'd bother with this subterfuge since he's probably already using a stolen or illegally imported gun, but it could be done.

3.  A criminal, being a criminal, could illegally replace the firing pin of a pistol with a replacement shipped from Mexico, or bought in any other U.S. state.  Again, this is more effort than they're likely to go to because of point 1.  They're not going to bother legally obtaining a firearm to the illegally modify.  They'll just by a stolen or illegally imported gun.

Those are just the quick and easy ways I can think of to defeat microstamping, never mind the simple fact that a criminal could replace a firing pin pretty easily.  

What's the impact on a lawful gun owner?  Precisely what California lawmakers intended.

Firing pins, just like any piece of metal striking another piece of metal repeatedly, wear out over time.  They have to be replaced.  It would now be either a crime, or very expensive for a lawful gun owner to replace a worn out firing pin.  So not only is the cost of purchasing a gun going to be significantly raised, but maintaining your firearm now becomes significantly more expensive, or even criminal.  That's assuming you can find a gun manufacturer to buy from since the technology doesn't exist to allow them to comply with the law to begin with.

To recap, microstamping won't help solve crimes.  Instead, the very foreseeable result of this legislation is the harrassment of lawful gun owners and the potential criminalization of simple maintenance of a firearm.  Any law that targets lawful owners instead of criminals is a bad one, but that doesn't matter to the wrong-headed leftists in the California legislature.  They want the police to be the only ones with guns, and they see lawful owners as criminals to be hunted down just for daring to exercise their 2nd amendment rights.

Those who want to ban guns depend on the ignorance of the general public to carry out their plans.  If all of the above is too complex, the picture below presents the more general argument.

 photo Control_zpseeed6dae.jpg

*I've actually become opposed to mandatory registration of guns, since the only use of registration lists to date has been to track down and disarm lawful owners following the Katrina disaster.  Registration is simply a precursor to disarmament.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Armed Citizen

The Armed Citizen posts are added to remind people that while the news publicizes criminal mass casualty events involving guns, firearms are used far more frequently by lawful citizens protecting themselves and others.

When the owner of a private farm returned home, he spotted two men in a pick-up truck trespassing on his property. The men had helped themselves to anything of value they could find in various buildings on the property. The owner armed himself with a handgun and confronted the men instructing them to stop, get out of the vehicle and lie on the ground. One man complied while the other got out of the vehicle and acted threateningly toward the homeowner. When the aggressive man reached into the bed of the pick-up, presumably for a weapon, the owner reacted in self-defense and fired. The man was later taken to the hospital and treated for non life-threatening injuries. Both trespassers face felony charges including breaking and entering, larceny and conspiracy. (Bluefield DailyTelegraph, Rock, WV, 11/06/2012)

A35-year-old woman woke around 3:30 AM and checked on her hus­band, who was up late working
on his computer. The couple was startled when their home alarm sounded. The woman's husband checked the surveil­lance footage on his computer only to discover four masked men working to pry open a window. One of the men carried a rifle. As the woman dialed 911, her husband retrieved his own firearm. The in­truders gained entry within minutes. The homeowner crouched behind a sofa and fired. The intruders returned fire before fleeing the home. No one was reportedly injured. (The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, LA,11/16/20112)

Roger Webster, owner of Webster's Store, and a female customer were standing in front of the store
when two men approached and forced them back into the store. Webster and the customer were held at gunpoint and ordered to give up money from the cash register. Webster complied. When the men demanded even more money, Webster motioned as if retrieving more cash, but instead retrieved his handgun from the reg­ister and fired several rounds at the armed suspect. Both men fled. Neither Webster nor the customer were harmed. (Dorchester Banner, Cambridge, MD, 11/02/2012)

A35-year-old woman called 911 after a man followed her home from a gas station and forced his way inside through the front door. The woman allegedly ordered the man to leave then retreated to her bedroom. The intruder picked up a knife from the kitchen table and followed her. It was reported that he threatened the woman with the knife and ordered her to take off her clothes. She warned the man that she would shoot him, but he continued to push her to undress. She retrieved a 9 mm handgun from underneath a pillow on her bed and pointed it at the intruder. When he continued toward her, she pulled the trigger. The suspect was fatally wounded. (Santa Fe New Mexican, Alcalde, NM, 11/08/2012)

Jill Stucker, 64, was at home watching television around 9:20 p.m. when a 26-year-old man broke in through a window. When Stucker heard the glass shatter, she armed herself with a hand­ gun and proceeded to exit through the back door. As she fled her own home, the intruder followed. When Stucker realized she was being chased, she turned and fired a single shot striking him in the chest. The intruder fled, but later collapsed on a nearby doorstep. He was reportedly hospitalized in critical condition. (Lake City Reporter, Lake City, FL, 10/23/2012)

Douglas Downs, 48, was at home with a friend, 36-year-old Andrew Boyd, shortly after midnight when several armed men broke into his home and tried to rob him. Boyd was forced into the basement before Downs managed to retrieve a handgun from a chair in the living room. Downs fired numerous rounds until the first man dropped his weapon. He then exchanged gunfire with a second intruder. A third intruder appeared and helped his accomplices out of the home to a vehicle where a fourth man waited. Police were later notified that a man with multiple gunshot wounds had been taken to a nearby hospital. All four men were later found, arrested and charged for their involvement in the home invasion. Downs and Boyd were uninjured. (York Daily Record, York, PA, 10/24/2012)

Two men knocked on the door of a residence with ill intent. The door was answered by an 83-year-old woman using a walker. The men pushed against the door and gained entry with ease. One of the men stayed close to the elderly resident, while the second intruder made his way into the bedrooms. Fearing for her safety, the woman went to a desk in her living room where she kept her pistol. Upon seeing the gun, the suspect urged the other to "come on.The men fled with cash and jewelry, but the resident was left unharmed. (The Greeneville Sun, Greene County, TN, 11 /02/2012)

Want even more stories? Visit The Armed Citizen blog.

Other accounts of self-defense collected on this blog:
Shopkeeper Defends Himself and Employees,
2nd Amendment Saves a Pregnant Woman,
Armed Student Saves 10 People,
2nd Amendment vs. a Serial Rapist,
Crime Spree Stopped with the Simple Presentation of a Firearm.

Failures of Gun Control:
UK Government under reports gun violence to pretend their policies work
Scotland holds a Summit on their Failed Gun Policies, Chicago's gun ban continues to fail
Real Women's Rights (This one includes one of my favorite personal accounts)
Opposition to CA AB 2062
Knife Control?!
Protecting Children through Gun Control?
Futility of the Gun Banning Philosophy
A Contrast to VA Tech

Thoughts just prior to the release of DC v. Heller, with one of the best appellate court quotations ever.

Thoughts on publicized shootings: Shootings early in 2009, Alabama Shootings, Finland School Shooting. Remember: The only proven method to mitigate the disaster of a rogue criminal shooter is to have more first responders, e.g. CCW permit holders lawfully armed and on scene. These criminals do not respect "gun free" zones, but simply view them as target-rich opposition-free areas in which to slaughter innocents.

Carrying a firearm is an inherently civilized act.

Right to Carry Statistics.

Does Violence Beget Violence?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Hatred of the Left

noun: racism

    1.  the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, esp. so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.

Many families wishing to adopt choose a child that matches them racially.  They can pretend the child is biologically theirs.  The child doesn't look out of place in their family, drawing odd looks from the intolerant or even racist.  It takes courage and love to accept any child who needs a home.  So imagine that your family has unreservedly opened your hearts to a child.  You didn't care what the child might look like.  All that mattered was he or she needed a loving home, and you were going to provide that and love that child as your own.

I've seen this first hand.  A white family in my congregation adopted an Asian child.  There is no distinction by parents or siblings.  That little girl is the baby of the family, a little princess and loved by all of them.  To my knowledge, no one if the congregation treats her any differently than any of the other children.  That's because we don't care what race someone is.

Now imagine, having not assigned the least bit of importance to skin color, you're mocked for your open-hearted, loving choice on national television.

That's what happened to one of Mitt Romney's children.  It's really worse than that.  The MSNBC panel member actually mocked the black adopted child directly.  Here's the article from the LA Times.  I chose the LA Times, because they included follow up details.  The panel member sang of a beautiful family photo of the Romneys including Mitt holding the two youngest grandchildren on his knees (one black one white) the familiar Sesame Street song, "One of these things is not like the others."

Ah, so the Romney family makes no distinction based on skin color, but the enlightened Leftists of MSNBC do.  Well, that's as progressive as eugenics, I suppose.

According to the LA Times, many panel members made jokes.  This is particularly cruel and pointless given that Mitt Romney, a two time failure in his presidential bids, is unlikely to seek office again, so there's no need to attack him.

As for the host herself, so far as I've read Melissa Harris-Perry didn't say anything untoward at first.  It was her "apology" tweets that revealed more  Here they are (several tweets, transcribed to text here):
"I am sorry. Without reservation or qualification. I apologize to the Romney family. I work by guiding principle that those who offend do not have the right to tell those they hurt that they r wrong for hurting. Therefore, while I meant no offense, I want to immediately apologize to the Romney family for hurting them. As black child born into large white Mormon family I feel familiarity w/ Romney family pic & never meant to suggest otherwise. I apologize to all families built on loving transracial adoptions who feel I degraded their lives or choices."
You can find the actual screenshots online if you like.  Here's my reading, "I'm really sorry without qualification, oh, except that they're white and Mormon so it's awkward for them to have a Black baby in their family.  I'm apologizing, but I still don't think a Black child belongs in a White Mormon family."  She's assuming a lot about white families.  It's pretty close to the definition of racism given above.  Assuming racial characteristics of whites certainly is, and assuming anything about all Mormons is bigotry at the least.

By the way, Melissa, you're operating on an out of date idea of what the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is.  Mormon congregations reflect the diversity of the communities in which they're situated.  Eric Marrapodi of CNN noticed it in this piece.  In California, the Sacramento Bee noticed it here:
Sacramento has long been considered one of the most integrated cities in America, and Sacramento's Mormon stake, or network of 13 parishes, reflects that, said stake President John Cassinat.

"We could be the most culturally diverse stake in the U.S.," he said.

The 5,000 Mormons in Sacramento also include immigrants from Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Thailand, the Philippines, India, Laos, China, Japan and Korea, as well as Europe and the former U.S.S.R., said spokeswoman Sue Ramsden.
 If Ms. Harris-Perry had set foot in an LDS meeting in the congregations surrounding New York City (I served as a missionary in Booklyn and Queens) she'd have been hard-pressed to keep her bigoted view of Mormonism, since she'd have had a hard time finding a White member in many of them.  The Church's world-wide missionary effort is changing the face of Utah, with many legal immigrants coming to the center of the faith from all nations.

I've digressed a bit, but even in apology, Ms. Harris-Perry is dreadfully wrong and bigoted.  Adopting a child is an act of love.  Doing so unreservedly and without regard for race is possibly even a nobler act, though I'm sure the families doing it don't see it that way.  Those families just want to help and love a child who needs it, and they actually do it without qualification.  Instead of seeing the beauty in that, MSNBC chooses to mock it.  I'd expect nothing less of Progressive Leftists.