Sunday, June 30, 2013

There was mud.

What do you do after sharing a mud wallow with 50-ish kids, inviting them to cover you completely with as much mud as they can, tossed, splatted and smeared from your hat to your toes, all over your clothes and skin, for nearly two hours?

Well hell, first, of course, you bask and revel in the smiles and laughs, both from the kids and from the parents.  Because that was just fun--the entire point of the Mud Games exercise.

Then you might wonder a bit at yourself, since you didn't plan to be That Crazy Dad, specifically, going in.  It was just the right decision at the right moment.  "Made sense at the time," and all that.

When it breaks up, you do the initial wipe- and shake-off, then scrape the 1"+ layer of mud that remains after that off your hat and torso, and permit the better half to garden-hose you from head to toe, with water that is really exceptionally cold.  (This is an outdoor tap in Alaska, after all.)

Finally, you make it back to the car, quietly transfer what nobody has noticed from body to an available Safepacker, and improvise a change in clothes for the drive home.

Some days are more gratifying than others.  :-)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

If this is true...

The Supreme Court handed down a decision on June 17 that has been ignored by most media outlets, despite its devastating effect on one of the most fundamental rights protected by the Constitution.

In a 5-4 ruling, the justices ruled that a person no longer has the right to remain silent as guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment. In relevant part, the Fifth Amendment mandates that no one “shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.”

Thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision in Salinas v. Texas, that part of the Bill of Rights has been excised — and has joined the list of so many other fundamental liberties that now lie on the scrap heap of history.
 (from The New American)

If this is true...well then, what, really?  To grossly paraphrase Arthur Silber, why get all uppity about the right to remain silent, in a world in which the state can simply murder you, for any reason it wants or for no reason at all, in complete secrecy?

Outrageous?  Sure.  But there is absolutely no surprise here. 

And in a way, it may be better like this--it's been so tiring to have to endure the increasingly rainbow-colored unicorn excreta from the "it can't happen here" crowd, that--since it's not like the larger public seems interested in, like, you know, FIXING THE PROBLEM--at least we might as well drop the pretense entirely.  Just maybe, this might shift the relentless excuse-mongering to something else...maybe how "necessary" this all is, or how "not a big deal", or some other boilerplate entry from Ye Oulde Statist Playbook.

As long as nobody's listening, we might as well get some rotation of the excuses in there...

Monday, June 24, 2013

That Snowden guy? Yeah, you juust missed him...

Hat tip to Claire.  Today's entry for Most Awesomest Thing To Come Out Of A Government Office goes to Hong Kong, for this:

Mr Edward Snowden left Hong Kong today (June 23) on his own accord for a third country through a lawful and normal channel.

The US Government earlier on made a request to the HKSAR Government for the issue of a provisional warrant of arrest against Mr Snowden. Since the documents provided by the US Government did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law, the HKSAR Government has requested the US Government to provide additional information so that the Department of Justice could consider whether the US Government's request can meet the relevant legal conditions. As the HKSAR Government has yet to have sufficient information to process the request for provisional warrant of arrest, there is no legal basis to restrict Mr Snowden from leaving Hong Kong.

The HKSAR Government has already informed the US Government of Mr Snowden's departure.

Meanwhile, the HKSAR Government has formally written to the US Government requesting clarification on earlier reports about the hacking of computer systems in Hong Kong by US government agencies. The HKSAR Government will continue to follow up on the matter so as to protect the legal rights of the people of Hong Kong.

In the words of this article from The Atlantic, "'s difficult to interpret this statement as anything other than an artfully worded "screw you" to the United States."

Oh yeah, that's what it looks like to me too.


Now we just need more here to act like free people, too.  Enough so that maybe we can even wrest America back from this self-styled "United States" thing which has occupied it for far too long now.

You know:  hope 'n' change, baby.

Larken Rose: It Can't Happen Here

This is the sort of work that Larken Rose was meant to do.  If it's sad and disgusting that such a work needed to be made, at least it's encouraging that there are people like Rose willing to do it.

It's a full ninety minutes and change--with no fluff.  The boy comes out swinging and continues right to the end, and the only pauses in the vocal narrative are for the reading of screenprinted quotations.

It's excellent.  The most glaring thing that I can muster is that there are just enough Alex Jones-y references to offer an easy excuse to those who want it*;  dismissing Rose on that basis would of course be a blindingly obvious cop-out, for anyone who can make honest notes of the diversity of references offered, but some are quite impressively committed to their ignorance.

Watch.  Share with people who need to confront it.

* For the record, I know little enough about Jones that I can't defend an opinion one way or another, so I try not to.  What I do know is that the very name seems to be enough to switch certain people off, even if he might be perfectly accurate in a given case.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Gear lust.

Quite by accident today, I got to meet a Benjamin Marauder air pistol.

Ow.  Now I want one.

I've done some research on the Marauder previously, and expectations were high based on the opinions of the cognoscenti of airgun-fu, including Tom Gaylord.  The promise is of an actual (meaning: not just advertised) 15-foot-pound air pistol in .22 caliber, which actually qualifies it as a "serious" hunting airgun for small game even larger than the size of our snowshoe hares at distance, and in addition to its impressive power, its reputation includes an excellent trigger, outstanding accuracy (under half-an-inch at 25 yards--with hunting pellets--is damn good for an airgun), exquisitely quiet report, consistent build quality and it's even an 8-round repeater.

As the picture shows, the "pistol" is pretty large, and out-of-box comes set up with a carbine buttstock, which I think is a great match both aesthetically and functionally.  Given the precision inherent in the design, either a buttstock or a bipod seem like good ideas. 

For me at least, the gun had that je ne sais quoi, as well, that speaks instantly upon contact with your hands:  "There are no frills here, and no gimmicks;  I am made to work."  Everything felt smooth and solid, overall weight was luxuriously light (I'm still getting used to airguns), and the design just felt right--immediately.  Yeah, I have a feeling that this piece is going to be just exactly what Gaylord and others have said it is.  And that means I want one pretty badly.

The only downside to the encounter was the counter-jockey, who pretty clearly had no idea about the Marauder, and probably no clue about airguns in general.  When I spied the little carbine behind a row of .22 rimfires in the rifle rack, he wanted me to be sure to know that the airgun behind me, on the shelf in blister-pack, was the "fastest" one they carried.  I glanced at it, recognized it, and as politely as possible said that they were in no way comparable, yet he insisted on telling me that the other gun gave "five hundred eighty FPS".

I'm still new to airguns, but I've learned a lot in a short time, and I can recognize both the BS signature of airgun marketers, and the related but separate BS of the people who are swayed by it.  To put it in terms that firearm folks can recognize, this fella basically told me the equivalent of the following list, all at the same time:

  • Dude, don't get the 12-gauge...get the 20.  It's, like, 8 more.
  • You should use Remington Accelerators in your '06 on bigger game because they, like, "have more FPS".
  • Dude, don't bother with that IMR 4064 stuff, just use Pyrodex, it's all gunpowder man.
  • Why you wanna look at that five-screw Smith?  Check out this shiny new RG...

And jeez, he apparently didn't realize that the Marauder itself is advertised at "700 fps"...using the same super-light, lead-free pellets that nobody actually hunts with but all the "FPS" numbers are based on.  (The airgun world seems to suffer from its own version of "magnum mania";  so much so that even the high-end guns have to advertise using the same unrealistic methods just in order to compete.)  Also, the Marauder is a .22 (standard pellet weight ~15gr), whereas the "faster" gun was a .177 (standard pellet weight ~8gr).  Finally, all knowledge of hardware aside, I'd at least have expected him to understand as a salesman that there would probably be a reason the Marauder was locked up with the firearms on the rack, while the other piece was in a box freely available on the shelf with accessories.

It was some pretty impressive merde, extruded into such a short time, and I recognized the classic flash of hesitation of the guy who realizes his bluff is being called...but when offered an honorable out and an opportunity to engage in conversation (hell, I'm still new, and there's a lot about airgunnery that a firearm guy just might not know) he chose to double down on it, so I just left it alone, made my mental notes and cooing noises over the Marauder, and left.  When the time comes, I'll order from Pyramyd Air

Sigh.  See, this is why I just can't patronize gun shops in my own town.