Thursday, May 29, 2014

The postmodern world.

I can't remember exactly when I first caught wind of the new lawsuit by Seattle cops, that, as I understand it, argues that their new use-of-force policy is too restrictive, because it--get this--runs afoul of the Second Amendment.  (Apparently they also says it violates their "rights" in re the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments as well.)

I know, you threw up a little in your mouth too, at that.

What I do remember, having seen that blurb, is an instantaneous thought:  I wonder how long it will be before Grigg is on that story?

Answer:  not long at all.

He starts it with an image that would make Oleg proud:

And then, as usual, he just nails it, culminating with the following:

Most people believe that the purpose of the Bill of Rights is to protect citizens against abuses of their rights by government officials. The incurably self-preoccupied people behind the Seattle police lawsuit apparently believe that the Bill of Rights exists to emancipate law enforcement officers from restrictions on the use of lethal force, and immunize them against legal, civil, and professional accountability when they kill people without legal justification.

As always, worth the RTWT.

The only thing I'd add to any of this is that the ethics are actually pretty damn clear here.  As private citizens, acting in the capacity of private citizens, even cops should enjoy the protections of the US Second Amendment.  (And, of course, like the rest of us, be held accountable for their actions.)  But when they put on the badge, and become agents of the state, they lose those protections completely.  They like to say they are "held to a higher standard" than we are, which is precisely the way things should be, but aren't.  The "higher standard" is that in order to protect us from them, they have to give up their rights as free people.  To paraphrase L. Neil Smith, each and every one of them should be absolutely terrified of violating the rights of even one of the mass of human beings that they "work for"--lest they be run out on a rail by the entire town...

Dang.  Caught myself dreaming again.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Grooming another Neil Heslin.

Remember Neil Heslin?  Sure you do.  Well, the disarmament crowd is hard at work grooming its  next batch of Personal Tragedy Activists.  And so here we have one Richard Martinez.

I've certainly seen several commentators openly wonder why it is that The Hive Mind has such an interest in this Isla Vista incident, and I don't have an answer for that, other than my nearly standard wonder at how the machine seems to grind into action almost before the incident is concluded.  But it seems clear that the hive does have a fair fixation, despite the inconvenient details of both the action and its perpetrator.

No matter.  These are crusaders, here.

This is how I was informed of the piety of Mr. Martinez, via my Facebook feed:

This author is learning from his daughter. May others join him.

"This author" is the Salon writer who fawns over the "hero" Martinez, who "turn[ed] his despair into advocacy", therein showing Us The Unwashed the path to our salvation.  (Canna gitta ayy-men?)

I gagged, and restrained myself to the following, which seemed worth documenting here.

Ah yes, the unassailable moral authority of using one's personal tragedy to stump for the "legal" prior-restraint violation of everyone who didn't do it. Classy.

(Grieving is one thing--an entirely human need. But using the political system as a weapon against people who have harmed and will harm no one, is as pure an act of aggression as there can be. You celebrate this?)

By all means, ignore the continued failure of law to protect the innocent. The only "acceptable" answer is to crusade for more law. (Hey, man, politicians say so! This time for sure!)

And above all, continue to insist on disarming the victims. After all, my goodness, someone might get hurt! And we all know that plebes are too effin' stupid to be trusted to take care of themselves anyway. (Empowerment is fine and good for trivial things, peasant, but the actual disposition of your life is far too...uh...important, to be left simply to your own unwashed judgment.)


The most frustrating part of all this is not that I might simply observe a different reality than others. Hell, that seems healthy to me. What's irreconcilable is that the one, the only thing I require--to be left in peace unless and until I aggress against someone else--is the one thing that the modern political crusader absolutely, positively refuses to do.

There is another irony here, as well. The disarmament crusaders are notoriously uninterested in understanding those they seek to dominate by politics. Their general ignorance of the objects of their hatred is legendary and breathtaking enough, but their relentless dehumanization of the people who own and identify with those objects may exceed even that. "Gee, why won't you cousin-humping rednecks ever vote for us?" (The subsequent bewailing of the lack of a "conversation" could serve as a dictionary definition of chutzpah.)

See what's going on here? Personify the object and objectify the person, both in service of the same goal of not having to actually deal with either...

It's the same story as it is everywhere else, where what is missing is empathy and what's present is politics. There is no interest at all in respecting "the other" as (s)he is--only an insistence on domination, using the political system as the "legitimate" weapon.

Maybe tomorrow I'll be smart enough just not to look at my Facebook feed at all.

UPDATE:  Not smart enough, apparently.  I got the following playbook responses:

Kevin, I'm not sure you read the article. It's largely about misogyny and the fear all women live with and the harassment/danger we are taught to expect and accept.
Regarding your comment, Kevin, you mention the "continued failure of the law to protect the innocent" and scoff at the desire for more law. I'm confused by the idea that because existing law doesn't accomplish something, then new laws won't either. With that logic, we might have said 'speed limits on highways fail to protect the innocent from drunk drivers,' so why bother instituting DUO laws?

Current laws can't protect the innocent from first-time shooters, as most of these young mass-murderers are. This guy bought multiple assault weapons legally! What do you think is the way to prevent this (and Sandy Hook, and Columbine, etc etc)? Do you really want everybody to walk around armed and ready to 'take down' an attacker? I teach college, and I have thought about what would happen if there were a shooter in my classroom. I can say that one nightmare scenario is multiple other students leaping up to shoot back. Chaos!

Also, I had a (un-named) family member with a clinically paranoid and irrational husband who kept several guns around the house despite small kids. He wouldn't keep them locked because 'there wouldn't be time to get them when the bad guys came.' When my relative divorced him, she was petrified of him 'snapping' and shooting her or the kids. She hid his guns off site for a while, but was scared he'd discover that and be so mad that he would go buy another one and come after her. Of course, this was perfectly legal as he had no criminal record. In fact, he was another 'ultimate gentleman.' He even worked for Corrections and had security clearances.

And have you heard about the retired police officer who shot his own grown son at the back door? The guy had stepped outside and the dad, with early dementia, thought he was an intruder. Family had wondered about his mental state, but nobody could hurt his dignity by taking away the guns from this old police officer. How could that have been prevented?

Finally, you suggest that liberals think the public can be trusted to take care of themselves in the small things but don't trust the people to defend their own lives. Well, right! I think people should have freedom in many things, but not things that endanger other peoples' lives. Again, should we not have speed limits or DUI laws? Do you want every single college (and HS?) student and teacher to walk around armed? You say we 'insist on disarming the victims.' But those those sorority girls and Sandy Hook kids were never armed and their guns weren't taken away by Big Government. Should I be forced to carry a weapon in the classroom and on campus? When I go to the movies or the corner store? And what about all the kids who accidentally shoot their friends and siblings when they find daddy's gun in the house? Should those victims in diapers be armed?

Who are you so scared of that you need guns? I live in a pretty dicey neighborhood and hear gunshots several times a week, sometimes close enough that I hit the floor. But does that make me want a gun? No. It makes me wish we 'd get all the guns off the street so my teenage neighbors might get to grow up without becoming either victims or murderers. Because before the first time, they were innocent. Nobody's born a bad guy. How can you tell who is a bad guy? If my relative had been shot by her husband, people would have said, 'he seemed like such a nice guy.' Yeah. Should that potential victim carry a gun with her around the house to guard the 'disposition of her own life'? Or might we look to gun restrictions to not be swimming in a sea of deadly weapons?

Once again, I attempted restraint.  Given the amount of PSH crammed into the above, this was by no means easy, but I think the following is restrained.  (Which, of course, may be much of my problem.)

Colors, as above, added for simple readability.

[Y]ou may have perhaps noticed that I said nothing about the horrors of misogyny. Yes, I noticed that the article discusses that. But this "conclusion" is pretty damn clear:

“Organizing for tougher gun control laws is really the only option,” I responded.

I chose to respond to that.

Personally, I cannot imagine--cannot imagine--a greater misogyny than the demand that millions of regular, everyday women, who have harmed no one, must beg and quibble over their own empowerment. I can't decide whether this is a greater insult coming from men or women, but limiting or removing a woman's choice to arrange for her own security seems morally indefensible to anyone who actually values the concept of empowerment.
As to a few of the other things:

"...I'm confused by the idea that because existing law doesn't accomplish something, then new laws won't either."

Yes, it seems that you are. And I cannot help you with that. You appear unwilling or unable to recognize that no new law is in any meaningful way different than the hundreds or thousands that have come before it. Their mechanisms are the same, their enforcers are the same, and their effect is the same. As commentator Tamara Keel just recently put it, "people get shanked in prisons all the time".

Do you really believe that any new law will somehow perform as the politicians selling it to you advertise? Really?

"...What do you think is the way to prevent this (and Sandy Hook, and Columbine, etc etc)? Do you really want everybody to walk around armed and ready to 'take down' an attacker?"

No, not "everybody". Just those willing to take on the responsibility and accountability for their potential actions. (Many are not, and in the absence of agitating to force others to do the same, that is a peaceable choice that should be respected.)

The initiation of these sorts of incidents cannot be prevented. Everyone seems to agree on this. It is also unambiguous how these sorts of incidents conclude.

"...I teach college, and I have thought about what would happen if there were a shooter in my classroom. I can say that one nightmare scenario is multiple other students leaping up to shoot back. Chaos!"

In carefully crafting your "nightmare scenario" for its maximum effect upon yourself and others, do you completely fail to recognize that the same risk attends outside the classroom, as well? (I taught college too, for a time.  The classroom does not have magic properties.) Notwithstanding the specific appeal of a "gun-free zone" to an attacker not interested in resistance, which does rather distinguish the classroom from the street, the risk of disaster is present everywhere, all the time. (I don't know about you, but if I could make an appointment with my emergency, I'd just put a seat belt on right before I knew I was going to crash.)

Yes, "chaos". The singular organizing principle of the entire natural world. If that is a personal bogeyman that must be avoided at all costs, you are in for a very anxious, fearful life.

"... a clinically paranoid and irrational husband ... even worked for Corrections and had security clearances ... the retired police officer who shot his own grown son at the back door ..."

Um, the examples you use here are enforcement class--agents of the state--not regular people. And this is very much the norm. There is a critical difference between the enforcement class and the plebes: accountability. Regular people are held accountable for every round they fire, from when it starts until it comes to rest. Enforcers are almost invariably cleared of any wrongdoing no matter how awful their actions may be.

And this difference shows itself on the street. Mundanes protecting themselves hold their fire more, fire fewer rounds, hit more accurately, and stop shooting sooner than enforcers do. They also mis-identify their targets far less. This isn't news, it's been that way for generations now. And it's unsurprising: when actions have consequences, most people will not act unless they must. By contrast, officialdom is so regularly excused for anything that they do, that there is no incentive for them to restrain themselves.

Do not make the mistake of projecting the behaviors of police and military upon regular people. The peasantry is demonstrably better than that.

"...Well, right! I think people should have freedom in many things, but not things that endanger other peoples' lives."

How dare you suggest that millions of people "endanger other peoples' lives" simply by making different choices than you do? You project the worst expectations onto a gigantic mass of people you clearly do not understand, and call for their prior restraint before they've done anyone harm? How is this not pre-crime in its full Philip K. Dick glory?

"...Should I be forced to carry a weapon in the classroom and on campus? "

See, you understand nothing about me. I am not willing to use force to get the things I want. You have the right to choose, for yourself, what your own response to disaster should be. You do not have the right to make that choice for anyone else who has done no harm.

"....Who are you so scared of that you need guns?"

Well, that seems obvious:  you.  The people who actually threaten me with violence if I do not do what they want me to do.

And don't mistake simple defiance for fear. (There is a great deal of simple defiance going on lately.) As George Carlin or Frank Zappa might have put it, if someone who doesn't know me tells me without my asking that something is bad for me...well, I'll take two, thanks.

"...It makes me wish we 'd get all the guns off the street..."

Wish all you want. Enact all the law you want.  Subjugate everyone who didn't do it all you want.  Then act surprised and indignant next time, when the next failure of the same mindset occurs, and more people die.

To which I'd now, looking at it all again, append:

You do understand there will be a "next time", right?  Isla Vista was a "next time".  Sandy Hook was a "next time".  Virginia Tech was a "next time"...

Learn, jackass.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Beyond Gell-Mann Amnesia.

Dang it, I had been enjoying some success stepping back from Facebook, and I should probably clamp down on myself again.  In and among the current blood-dancing (the recent Isla Vista disaster, this time), we have this tiresome Bore-owitz Boor-owitz Borowitz fellow, who gets shared by about half my Facebook stream every time he offers such... modern pithy wit as this:

Deep, man.  Deep.  (Seriously.  I'm not wearing waders...)

I suppose I should be fair.  The above is, in fact, a slightly more sophisticated brand of sanctimonious demagoguery than all the simple dick jokes.

Click to...engorge the stoopid.

Mind you:  slightly.

But this one, I admit, got me today:

Personal weakness, plain and simple.  (One can only absorb so much stoopid before it just flows over, I guess.)  I just couldn't let it go:

This is what now passes for wit? Really?

I don't think this sort of thing even qualifies for simple "Gell-Mann Amnesia effect" any more. The crusade of the True Believer requires a more... active commitment to his ignorance than that.

I suspect that Mr. Clever Man here would not particularly appreciate having his words used against him, but in at least one respect he is precisely accurate. All these school shootings--each and every single one in a posted "gun-free zone"... 

It's true--nobody seems interested in changing that.

And of course there's the tacit admission that he's just peachy-fine with the TSA/DHS approach to public safety, so long as he gets to designate the Kulaks.  (A nice stylistic touch, really.)

It's a good thing he's such a decent, upstanding, ...what's the word?  Oh, yeah:  politically reliable person.  I'm sure it helps him sleep at night.  (You know, since he's not doing anything wrong...)

The Funny River fire - notes.

I was asked on Facebook how things were going with the Funny River fire, and thought that it might be of general interest here.  This is what I posted back.

It's impressive, that's for sure. If you don't already know about it, someone actually made a dedicated FB page:

We got noticeable smoke, smell and crimson-red sunshine in the fire's early days last week. Then the winds shifted and it's been much less noticeable since then--a little smell in town here, a noticeable "cloud" line there. Keep in mind we're at least 60m south of most of this; on the other hand, we know a lot of peeps in the Kenai/Soldotna area, where it's a lot worse. Fortunately, I think everyone is getting rain today, so we're hopeful.

The geography has been fascinating. Apparently the big reason we got the smoke we did was that the initial winds blew across Tustumena Lake and right down the Fox River valley, straight down Kachemak Bay and over to us. (Our place is essentially right at the juncture between "Kachemak Bay weather patterns" and "Cook Inlet weather patterns", so the fact that we got the significant smoke even out here means it went all the way down the Bay with full force. Impressive.)

The current map tells a very interesting story. The natural boundaries of the fire are the north shore of Tustumena Lake, the southwest shore of Skilak Lake (which the fire is approaching) , and the west slope of the Kenai Mountains between the lakes. That is: it stops when it hits massive water or glaciers! This covers roughly from 45 degrees to about 250 on the compass; an enormous area on the scale we're talking about. So, the firefighting is really constrained to the northwest quadrant, obviously to protect the communities of Soldotna and Sterling, and the small amount of road system (the Sterling Highway) that serves us all.

And it sounds like they've been doing an impressive job at it. It's telling that they've kept the fire at bay distinctly north of the Kasilof River, which itself would be a logical natural break (the Kasilof is the drainage outlet for Tustumena Lake); likewise, the recent improvements along Funny River Road (with which we are a bit familiar) have been impressing people with their performance. The most serious risks to people would certainly be along the south shore of the Kenai River, which would be the natural northern firebreak, but there are a lot of people on the south side of the river and I'm sure they're getting the priority effort.

It's obviously a huge blaze, and it could have been much worse. Having natural breaks on three sides and having almost nobody inhabiting the bulk of the area was lucky. As well, the wind was even somewhat helpful: initial winds blew south for long enough that by the time they shifted back to the north, the fire had to recross a fair amount of area it had already burnt, which must have robbed it of at least some force.

Scary and fascinating at the same time--truly the word "awesome" fits in its literal sense.

It should be quite interesting to see what this does to the fauna patterns over the next generation. One of the reasons that the Kenai Peninsula got such a reputation as being a place for moose, was that a giant fire had roared through the area just before most of the area was settled. Moose were actually not common on the Peninsula before that (and they're not nearly as common now as people think they are), but they thrived on the new growth, their numbers temporarily exploded just as lots of people showed up, and the misleading reputation was born. Who knows, maybe it'll happen again.

Anyway, that's my take--as limited by spending nearly the entire time doing Mr. Mom duty. (Better Half got back from Haines yesterday. You just might see a few of her photos on FB by the time she gets through with the sort-and-process task.)

The current map, as of today:

Click to embiggenate.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Met a S&W Shield for the first time today...

...and impressions were a bit mixed.  To be fair, I did not get to try the trigger, and I can't call any opinion fully considered until I've had a chance to do that.  (The counter-jockey actually responded to my customary request to try the trigger with "I'd rather you didn't", which actually took me a bit by surprise.  I'm pretty rough on most gun-counter types, and with reason, but to their credit, most of them at least recognize that dry-fire does at least no harm to a centerfire, and also that someone who explicitly asks permission is probably not going to then freak you out with something unexpected.  Buncha savages in this town.)

The gun is dimensionally impressive, right in there with the Kahrs for slimness, and the grip frame is quite comfortable.  I don't particularly like the currently trendy magazine-extension-serves-as-the-bottom-of-the-grip-frame approach (just give me a short grip frame and call it done), but this one seems somewhat less offensive than other designs.  Oddly enough, despite the slim grip, the magazine seems to have a slight flare below the feed lips--certainly not a double-column, but there is at least some staggering in there.  Ergonomics of the slide, magazine release, and slide stop seemed perfectly acceptable.  Springs were reasonable.  Sights were good.  Knowing Smith & Wesson, I'm sure it shoots well and is durable enough.

The safety lever was annoying, because it is present but not foolproof.  Now keep in mind, I like the idea of a manual safety, both for weapon retention and as a safety for me.  (Even on a striker-fired pistol that doesn't "need" one.)  I must admit, as I tested it there on the floor, it never failed to come off for me.  But it is really tiny, and doesn't like to swipe on easily.  For a 1911 guy, accustomed to positive snap! sounds and readily-available extended levers that fall very positively under the thumb, the Smith's safety just doesn't instill confidence.  (The Kimber Solo, by contrast, has an excellent safety design.)  Were I to invest in the platform, I would absolutely find a way to extend the lever just enough for positive engagement both ways.  (And with that, we might really have something here.)

And of course I'll have to find another example on which I can examine the trigger, for pull quality, reset length and quality, etc.  I'll admit I'm a bit leery of the hinged (Sigma style) trigger, but people seem to agree it doesn't seem to pose a breakage problem in actual use.  As far as pull quality goes, I expect it will probably be pretty good--hell, most of the examples of this breed seem to have triggers better than the "revolver smooth" that I grew up with.

Will have to see.  With an improved safety and confirmation of a good trigger, the piece might well get serious consideration as a competitor to the Kahr or the XD-S.

Must be springtime.

Neighbor warns us by text message, as we're in town today, that a mama moose and her new calf have decided to spend the day in our driveway, and the yearling is hanging out as well, most annoyed at having just been kicked out for the new arrival.  Oh, and a bear has been spotted moving from one neighbor's yard into another.

Must be spring.

Very well then.  Eyes up, girls reminded to constrain themselves to the deck unless we're with them, and Kerflättenböömer moved into the first-reach position.

Is .45/70.  Shot go through.

Dang, I do love that rifle.  I'd rather it draw blood under different circumstances, but if push comes to shove, she stands ready, and will do her part if I do mine.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Five weeks Outside...

...can actually have a rejuvenating effect, even while being both physically and metaphysically exhausting. 

We got back home today, with selves and stuff intact.  (Not a given in the age of Teh Stoopid, so I'm calling it a win.)  We started with a week in Montana visiting my folks, then two in Minnesota visiting the outlaws and getting a sister-in-law married off, and finished with two in Colorado visiting friends and running various errands of impressively variable magnitude.

I don't miss commercial air travel;  not one bit.  An entire industry hijacked by people so scared of their own shadows that the very concept of usefulness is seen as a threat to the universe only they have convinced themselves that we all live in.  Jeez, those people are aggravating, and of course far more dangerous than anything they claim to be protecting us from.  (By complete contrast, air travel within Alaska is very nearly civilized, but that is a topic for another time.)

But of course most of that nonsense can be willfully ignored when necessary, and the trip was mostly high points.  Excellent visits with friends and family, a few important administrative matters, musicking with D. (truly the single thing I miss most about life in Colorado), and even some useful gunnie things.

On this trip I picked up the deer rifle that my wife's grandfather told me he wanted me to have before he passed away a couple of years ago.  Based on just a couple of never-detailed conversations with him, I'd figured this would turn out to be a Winchester 94, but to my complete surprise, instead it is a Remington 760 in .300 Savage!  Now it has truly been a long time since I've seen a slide-action rifle, and entirely aside from the honor of his specifying me as its caretaker, I get more tickled by the day that this is now in my stable.  Once I get some range time I'll be sure to post further here.

I was also able to pick up a couple of completed projects from Gunsmoke in Denver.  (Unfortunately, the '03 Springfield Scout is not yet done, nor is the slimline 4" LW 1911, but in talking directly to Rich Wyatt this time, we'll see if we can't get those "expedited" and complete by the time I need to speak at a conference in July.  Fingers crossed!)  One of these is my own grandfather's old shotgun, which I had done up as a defensive/general purpose piece.  It's an old Ithaca M37 in--get this--16 gauge.  The work, as I've come to expect from Gunsmoke, is beautiful, and ammo availability aside (not a trivial consideration), I'll be happy to use this as my primary "serious" scattergun.

The other completed project was the Browning Hi-Power, functionally dolled up with a ducktail tang, improved sights and safety, and a most amusingly blue (not finish, which will make for good photos when range day comes.  I don't lean on 9mm much any more, but if you do this is a great piece to have.  Invariably, people that I work with love this gun when they see it in action.

Anyway, more details to come...when they come.  In the meantime, I'm back and actually quite full of ideas.  We'll see how that manifests itself here. Posting had been really light for a while anyway, what with trying to lay low and take a break from all the stoopid for a time, and I'm going to try and continue that practice as much as possible. 

Good to be home.