Thursday, December 4, 2014

Farewell, Seattle

I don't shop downtown anymore.

The guy that does my hair operates down there, and I'm still planning to see him - during daylight hours - but for the most part, I'm done. There are some splendid restaurants down there, but I can find adequate substitutes elsewhere. If I must, I can catch a weekend lunch.

From stupid-high sales tax to miserable parking, from increasing street crime to de-policing and from prices inflated by a nanny-style city government eager to seize on the latest expensive PC trend - I'm done.

The reality is there are less expensive and less painful choices at lower risk of encountering frisky street criminals - we call them "suburban malls" where parking is plentiful and free, prices are lower and the amount of hassle about what kind of bag you can have and how much the city will insist you be charged for the privilege of a bag to carry your merchandise in are simply non-problems.

For the same reason I do my grocery shopping in White Center, I'm moving my shopping for other items to suburbia with only the occasional trip for exotica into downtown (the annual gathering of the Christmas Gag Gifts at Pike Place Market, for instance).

Seattle appears eager to follow Detroit into the pit - I'm not eager to go along for the ride, or to fund it any more than I can avoid.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Protest or Riot?

As a former activist, I not surprisingly have a few thoughts...

A protest involves a bunch of people gathering and expressing their views verbally, waving signs, making speeches and generally being a pain in the neck. It can be a force for good, a force for chaos, a force for evil - or some combination thereof. But what a protest doesn't include is breaking people and things (that is what occasionally happens to protesters, not what they do).

A riot, on the other hand, is a bunch of folks that get busy about looting, arson, assault and the occasional homicide - and merits lethal response.

I suggest that in many instances the Ferguson and Ferguson inspired melee's have crossed that critical line - and that the appropriate response to looters and other violent felons involves utilizing all force necessary to bring their criminal activities to a screeching halt.

Free speech ends well before buildings are burning, witnesses are dying and the looting has begun.

I suggest that things have a fair chance of getting *far* more festive if police are not allowed to step in and end this - soon.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

It concentrates the mind most wonderfully..

"When a man knows he is to be hanged...it concentrates his mind wonderfully" - Samuel Johnson

“Some wiseacre once said that the prospect of death concentrates the mind wonderfully, but I’m here to tell you that the chance to work for a reprieve concentrates it a whole heap more.”
 Since January I've been dealing with cancer and cancer treatment, and with my initial diagnosis I should be pushing up daisies about now. Happily, round one of treatment was moderately successful and I am optimistic about round two....

However, while cancer is a right bastard, it brought gifts even as it loomed in the wings....

I've learned how many folks love me and support me. I've been blessed with friends and family and co-workers that support me even in my more dramatic moments. I've been granted (slowly, because it wasn't an easy lesson for me to learn) the opportunity to truly appreciate the Louis Prima song, "Enjoy Yourself!"

There is a LOT of truth in that joyous ditty. None of us know when we're going to go, or (with certainty) how - but sometimes you get a wakeup call. Keeping on keeping on when your miserable and not accomplishing much isn't such a great choice - we only know with any certainty that we're going around but the once, and... well, the song says it better than I...

Life's short. Don't throw responsibility to the winds, but don't forget to allow a bit of joy into your world.. 


Friday, August 1, 2014

Helping out the D.C. Council on Gun Laws

Dear Mayor Gray & Council Chairman Mendelson -

I understand you've suffered some reverses with your regime of gun bans, confiscations and prosecutions. Palmer  v. D.C., while unlikely to uproot a fundamentally flawed systems of elitist beliefs, must certainly give pause to any reasonable person committed to the rule of law.

For good or ill, however, you have been granted a 90 day grace period to develop a set of gun laws for your jurisdiction that are, in fact, actually constitutional. This is not a disaster, rather, it is an opportunity.

Look around at what has worked elsewhere in the country. Look to Seattle, a city of roughly the same population, and to Portland, OR (with somewhat lower population) and even to Salt Lake City - and look specifically at their per capita rates of violent crime (it is, after all, the number of injuries and deaths caused by unlawful violence that counts - not the mechanism by which those injuries and deaths are caused, barring a clear correlative relationship).

I would offer, out of good will,  the following as notions for  a proposed ordinance:

1: Recognizing that firearms on federal property are already thoroughly regulated by the federal government, the D.C. city leadership need take no action beyond passing what is essentially a revenue measure, duplicating federal statute.

"It shall be unlawful for any person to have in their possession any weapon on or in any federally controlled property where federal law bars such possession. Persons violating this ordinance shall be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by not more than 364 days in custody and a fine not to exceed two thousand and five hundred dollars. This ordinance shall not apply to any person covered by the federal LEOSA statute, a member of the United States Military on active duty, any person honorably discharged from the U.S. Military nor any person holding a valid license from the political subdivision in which they are resident permitting them to lawfully carry a firearm."

2. Recognizing that "gun free zones" are, at best, historically counter-productive it should also be recognized that declared "gun-free zones" are best avoided.

3. Recognizing under both evolving federal constitutional jurisprudence indicating that lawful carry of arms is a fundamental constitutional right and that further, in jurisdictions that while previously forbidding such that upon legalization of lawful carry of arms that blood has not run in the streets, that crime has not skyrocketed and that the sky has not fallen.

Further, it not having been shown that living outside of the District makes persons uniquely evil or incompetent, and further that it is a reasonable analysis that issuing authorities in other jurisdictions are both competent and cognizant of public safety, it is reasonable to recognize the permits of such other jurisdictions and their political sub-divisions. Thus, the following carry ordinance is suggested primarily as a revenue generator:

"The Washington, D.C.  Chief of Police shall issue to any citizen of the United States or a lawfully present alien therein not otherwise disqualified by federal law a permit to carry readily concealable small arms either openly or concealed about their persons in all places within the District not specifically forbidden by specific District ordinance or Federal statute upon payment to the Chief of Police of the sum of $150 and the successful completion of a background check or the passage of ten days from the initial application to the chief. The Chief shall have the authority to, in circumstances of unique risk to the applicant or their immediate family to grant an emergency permit to carry readily concealable small arms. 

Further, similar permits issued by any of the United States, its territories or the political subdivisions of the States or Territories shall be recognized as being entirely valid within the District while the holders of such permits are either in transit through the District, visiting the District for periods of less than thirty days or while temporarily resident in the District for up to sixty days. Such permits shall also be valid for any federal elected official or their immediate staff who maintain a primary residence outside of the District."

4. Given that every known form of wrongful violence performable by humans with or without the use of small arms of any sort is already unlawful under numerous statutes, no further commitment of time or effort is required in this arena.

The above measures and policy recommendations should serve the District well. Short of issuing hand grenades to the felonious population of the District, it is difficult what policy measures could do much worse than the status quo ante. Certainly,  recognizing the right of law-abiding citizens to defend themselves from the criminal and the crazed as said citizens go about their lawful business seems unlikely to cause any great harm - other than to the criminals and the crazed seeking to prey upon them.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

One piece at a time....

One piece at a time, but it sure did cost SAF a whole bunch of dimes and an awful lot of time. Palmer v. D.C. just came down and it's a lulu. Best I read it is that at least for now, Constitutional Carry is the order of the day in D.C. - till, say, Monday...

When the D.C. Council probably meets in emergency session and has kittens. The decision would seem to *require* them to license carry outside the home, and to treat residents and non-residents just alike in the licensing process.

Of course, if their actions after Heller and Chicago's after McDonald are any guide (and I think they are) they'll try and draw up the most offensive and expensive way to comply with the decision while thoroughly discouraging legal gun ownership and lawful carry.

In any instance, we can thank the kids over at the Second Amendment Foundation and the Two Alans (Gottlieb and Gura) for a major victory that will likely open a lot of doors.  Don't forget to send them a thank you card, maybe with something...nice, folding and green...tucked away inside.

Meanwhile, down in Florida the 11th Circuit belted one out of the ballpark with a decision that the Florida law (Doc's v. Glocks) was in fact constitutional and that health care professionals could not harass gun owners, pry about whether somebody owned guns unless it was for a clinically relevant reason and that they could lose their license to practice if they engaged in such misconduct.

Not a lot of linky here (at least right now) but we'll see later on.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

All Bran Muffins



This is one I actually grew up with, or reasonably close - and now, when whimsy (or a little too much dairy) strikes I make up a batch...

All Bran Muffins


2 cups Kellogg's all-bran cereal
1 1/4 cups milk
1 egg
1/4 cup oil
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Combine cereal and milk. Let stand 1/2 hour.
Add egg and oil; beat well. Add rest of ingredients. Beat just until combined.
Pour into well-buttered muffin pans.
Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

A few thoughts on Seattle Pride 2014

I'll both qualify myself and make clear that I'm not entirely objective about Seattle Pride right up front - I'm alumni. I've co-chaired a Pride here, run Safety (security) for one, led a wee rebellion against the organizers of another, and participated in the resistance to taking Pride away from its community (moving it downtown, away from our community and our businesses that need our support).

For several years after Pride moved downtown, I got my Pride fix in Portland - because it felt more like a real Pride event nestled in its community rather than an artificial spectacle thrust into a sterile business district. I began attending Pride in Seattle again perhaps two years ago.

This year was the first Pride I can recall where I felt concerned for my physical safety, and where I questioned whether (aside from the crowd on the sidelines) I was attending an LGBT event.

Before the event started, a bunch of pseudo-Phelpsian semi-Christian anti-gay religious protesters were marching up and down the route, roughly two dozen strong - complete with megaphone carefully telling us we were all going to hell if we did not repent and spontaneously turn straight, celibate or both. This did not go over terribly well.

They were unescorted by any sort of security or police presence, agents provocateur dowsing a crowd of roughly half a million with emotional gasoline and then playing with matches.

The crowd was unamused. However, when drag queen Mamma Tits and others stepped up and began to remonstrate with the undesirable, members of the crowd began to step off the sidewalks and form barricades against the interlopers and in support of the drag queens (this would've been in the third pass of the pseudo-phelpsians).

I've occasionally hinted to straight friends that "never screw with a drag queen" was a really good life rule, on the order of "don't leap from tall cliffs into spike lined pits." Neither one works out well.

DefCon 1 had, for a Pride Parade, been achieved and count down begun. (Suggested reading:
Seattle Drag Queen Stands Up To Anti-Gay Protesters Trying To Disrupt Start Of Pride Parade)

500,000 angry folks - no matter how butch or nelly, and regardless of sexual preference or gender - are more than any police department, and certainly more than mall rent-a-cops - can handle. If that many angry folk suddenly decide to express their fury, proper police protocol *should be* "RUN! RUN FOR THE HILLS" as they won't accomplish anything other than getting themselves stomped flat.

Fortunately, someone suddenly had an epiphany - and like magic, a few bike cops appeared and escorted the hateful sorts from the route.

Things never should have been allowed to get to DefCon1 or nor should it have required an epiphany to keep downtown from burning.

Simple rule. Don't drive a crowd of 500,000 to fury or allow others to do so. Corollary rule: don't let other folks do that, either.

Riots don't start with an entire crowd suddenly being struck peeved...they start with 20-30 folks who've "just had enough" and a single punch thrown, drag queen shoved or just the wrong word used. If they are surrounded by folks sufficiently emotionally wrought up (with joy or sadness or whatever, it really doesn't much matter which) the riot tends to spread like wildfire.

I am confused by what to me seems like the negligent inaction of the organizers. That they didn't have their own internal security sweep these goons from the route, surround them or apparently request SPD to do either speaks to either vast ineptness, a complete ignorance of crowd dynamics or a degree of ideological blindness that should preclude them from ever again leading an event more complex than a kindergarten lunch line.

And then we have the Seattle Police Department, that large department going through the throes of de-policing, that merry process where front line officers stop showing initiative or enthusiasm. Instead, under de-policing officers simply serve out their shifts - rigidly following "the book", refraining from rushing to calls (after all, if they arrive while festivities are still in progress they might have to use *force* and be subjected to onerous procedures at high risk to their careers), do not initiate citizen contact unless a felony is clearly in progress directly in front of them (see last for reasoning), and stop volunteering for overtime (say, parade duty). Remote alleys become remarkably well-patrolled between calls, as do under-utilized parks and other areas not known for a measurable crime rate.

De-policing doesn't happen simply because a few officers think it would be grand mischief to commit a white mutiny. It requires an otherwise well-organized organization of individuals of average or above average intelligence with a strong sense of self-respect and professionalism, and that such group of persons rightly or wrongly perceive themselves not only to have been wronged, but insulted. Crapped upon, if you will.

SPD has had a federal monitor imposed on it, foreign leadership solicited, been publicly derided and berated by their political superiors, harshly criticized by the press and placed under what many feel are deeply impractical constraints counterproductive to the departmental missions of crime suppression and keeping the peace.

A white mutiny is, shall we say, less than completely surprising.

The officers I saw at Seattle Pride 2014 were not engaged in preventative activity or any form of crowd control, were disproportionately in the closing years of their careers, and did not appear to be significantly athletic. They were quite successful at traffic control (blocking the route with amazing frequency to move Duck Tours/Metro/Sound Transit Buses across said route), but beyond that their presence was both the sparsest and the most subdued I've ever seen at a Pride event.

The failure to intervene constructively (escorting agents provocateur from the route) before the crowd became combustible would bear an amazing resemblance to de-policing or white mutiny. "Why yes, we were respecting their First Amendment Rights...right till the beatings began..." would be well inside that kind of approach, right along with "No, once the beatings began, there was nothing we could do without violating our Use of Force policy...."

Fortunately, someone with either sense or some remaining sense of professionalism intervened before it became necessary to make such excuses.

"Gee, GC, that sounds like a really bad scene! But surely all else went well!"

Not so much. At the last moment, before things burst into flame, somebody clueful arranged for the Hatezoids to be escorted from the route...and the Parade kicked off...at 11 a.m. (remember that time).

Now, before folks get all festive and start screaming "MISOGYNIST HERETIC! MISOGYNIST HERETIC! READY THE STAKE!" let me be very clear that I love the Dykes on Bikes and their more recent and sillier iteration "Hooters on Scooters."

I love them as an individual - they are a proud tradition of joyous abandon that should lead every Pride Parade. I love them as a former organizer because, done right, 60+ screaming motorcycles will get folks off a parade route like nothing else imaginable - but they MUST go first down the route, with a certain amount of alacrity, or you will end up with overheated dead motorcycles all up and down your route.  I even found the be-shirting to be rather depressing (whatever happened to electrical tape and courage?) and I am not noted for my enthusiasm for seeing hooters (especially super-annuated ones) waving in the breeze.

Dead motorcycles are bad - they kind of get in the way of a parade.

HOWEVER, it shouldn't take them half an hour to pass a given point. It shouldn't involve screaming motorcycles rolling up and down Fourth at what looked an awful lot like 50+ mph. And it shouldn't involve pedestrians (including children) waltzing through the middle of the motorcycle drill (thanks SPD! Thanks rented Pride security!). And while I'm clearly opposed to dumping a motorcycle into a crowd at *any* speed, I'm of the view that dumping a bike into a crowd while pushing 35mph is significantly less bad than doing so while pushing 50mph.

I've also observed that standing on the seat, rather than the pegs, while performing all of the above and waving ones ass in the air does not contribute significantly to improved control of the bike du jour.

Glad you're cute. Glad you feel cute. Glad you're free. Glad you're proud. Now, please don't kill us - not even by accident, not even with the best of intentions.

"BUT SURELY GC, ALL ELSE WAS WELL!!"

Well...

This is where I return to my normal analytical mode when it comes to Pride. Because the exciting/scary bit pretty much came to a screeching halt (thankfully) with the arrival of the more sedate Hooters on Scooters and another 20 minutes of two wheeled drill (for a total of 50 minutes of such).

The Parade was slow. Like a snail on quaaludes kind of slow.

The current system of selling the front end of the parade to the highest bidder with contingents of unlimited size has led to huge commercial and political contingents moving slowly near the front end that move *very slowly*. The Parade began at 11am - and was still going strong when I left at 2:30 p.m. No parade should *ever* last more than 3 hours.

George Takei was a great Grand Marshal.

Well, of course. What did you expect?

The Parade felt...like a slightly festive SeaFair. 

Yes. Between the commercial and political elements, and the various tedious governmental agency representatives the uniqueness of our community got washed out and lost - the drag queens, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, the bar floats, the leather community, BOHGOF and the sense of community seemed lost; so dispersed as to be almost irrelevant oddities at the parade they founded and that claims to represent their community.

Bah. Humbug. Terror and boredom is *not* what a Pride Parade should be about.







Sunday, June 22, 2014

A gay bashing in NH

An acquaintance recently shared that he'd been verbally harassed for being gay at a business up in New Hampshire. He's a decent sort, aside from being regrettably liberal in his politics (many perfectly good folks are liberal and after life and experience, recover - moving on to a healthy libertarianism or some form of fiscal conservative/social liberal stance). Because I'm a rather wordy sort, I'll respond here and post a link. My comments are in bold.

I was the recipient of an anti-gay confrontation two nights ago which hit me hard. I will post about it but quite frankly, I cannot handle all of the well intentioned, "you should have's" that everyone will post. I know what I should have done. I should have verbally fought back or gone to the police or demanded a response from the management. But I didn't. I froze. I fucking froze. I continued to take the bullying and did nothing. And now I live with the knowledge that "I could have" done something and didn't.
I'm sorry you had to put up with that sort of experience. But it happens - we live in an imperfect world where bigotry persists, with the main variables being how obvious and how physically dangerous any individual incident of bigotry may be. As a bonus, any verbal confrontation or resistance may, utterly unpredictably, devolve into physical violence - putting you at risk of hospitalization or worse.

Bigots (and bullies of other sorts) are predators, and when faced with a predator you have three choices as valid responses - fight, flight or freeze. All high-mindedness aside, when you've been designated as prey by these creatures (and usually there isn't a lot of clarity whether they intend emotional harm, physical harm or simply to drive you from their presence) it is deeply unlikely that educational efforts or reason will do you any good at all (or persuade them of the error of their ways).

Flight is an absolutely great solution, if it still works for you (for me, it's more an exercise in comedy - run 100' or so and fall over gasping isn't a valid safety strategy, exactly). Fight, whether it is a verbal confrontation (and unless you are a hulking behemoth that can persuade the bullies/bigots du jour by your mere physical presence that physical interaction is a dangerously bad choice - verbal confrontation can escalate to physical with blinding speed and horrifying results) or a "right from the start" physical assault is the most socially beneficial strategy. 


Regrettably, consideration of the realities of physical self-defense (particularly with *tools* to balance inequalities in physique, age, health and numbers) - which any rational person must factor into deciding on whether verbal confrontation is "worth it" - is both discouraged in  the LGBT community (leading, all to often to well-meaning folks finding themselves in well over their head) and in the state of your recent domicile ("All I'm saying is that...we really try and discourage people from self-help." - Martha Coakely, MA Atty Gen. re the father who punched out the guy he caught molesting his 4-year-old son).

More pithily, "don't let your mouth write checks your ass can't cover" is almost always good advice, followed with equal pithiness by "when seconds count, the police are only minutes away." Police are dandy at investigation and prosecution - but usually arrive well after the fun is done and injuries are accumulated. You are responsible for your own safety and that of those you care for until the nice officers meander up to the scene.

Finally, "Freezing" is what prey do - and unless you are lucky, can result in visit to hospitals or morgues.

What started the verbal assault against me? The aggressors were quite clear. They read my license plate as I drove into the sandwich shop. It is "EQL MRG". (Equal Marriage) and amazingly they got it. Then they saw my "rainbow belt" which they called out as confirmation of "the type of person I was."
 Outside of protected enclaves, even today, simply being ourselves is an act of courage. To do so deliberately defenseless and unable to effectively flee (whatever the reason) is either an act of courage, an exercise in near-delusional optimism, deep-seated ignorance or just plain old-fashioned dumb - or some combination of all of the above.
It wasn't even a rainbow, for god sake, it was a cotton green and orange stripe. But that was all they needed. And what is even worse, this happened in the town in NH that I was buying my house...directly across the street. My real estate broker, who is gay as well, said something as disturbing. He said, "Tom, you'll be registering your car in NH. Get a regular license plate." Stiff upper lip is all I keep telling myself. I am still shaking after two days.
 You can still go to the police and file a report. You can complain to management/ownership but realize that they are very likely nearly as powerless to intervene as you found yourself - recall that any confrontation (even by management) can get physical and create vast liability for the business (so can failure by the business to intervene, in a bit of a catch-22).  The businesses best course if they observe that the behavior is objectionable and unwanted is usually to call the police - who on national average are a minimum of 11 minutes away. Swing your fist into a pillow - how long did that take? How does that divide into 11 minutes?

The societal benefit of fighting back, such as it is, is that it persuades bullies and bigots that we are not submissive and easy targets - and of calling bigots on their bigotry. Personally it's a little more complex - 10:1 are bad odds (so is 2:1, for that matter); pushing 50 and in ill health  v. pushing 20 and built like an NFL tackle is also bad odds.

You can tilt the playing field in your favor. But the choice to carry a weapon (and do so lawfully) is one that requires serious examination of your ethics and priorities, study of local law on use of force (not mandatory study in most areas, but deeply prudent) and ideally *quality* training (target practice AND training vastly superior to that required for a Concealed license).

These are personal choices. You have my best wishes as you make them, and I am happy to either answer any questions within my expertise or pass you on to those brighter and more knowledgeable than I. And yes, I have contacts in MA that could help out if you choose to explore more active/effective personal safety strategies.

Again, I am saddened that you had this experience - though unsurprised.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Iraq & the Middle East

Building an islamic super-state in the middle east run by a bunch of religious fanatics that stretches across the smouldering remains of Iran, Iraq and Syria is clearly not in the best interests of the United States, Western Europe or the resurgent Czarate of the Russian Federation with its multiple islamic occupied territories.

Wikipedia 
That Turkey, a NATO alley, should become an isolated island of comparative sanity in the cauldron of religious fanaticism, tribalism and assorted madness that makes up the modern middle east is similarly not a good thing.

It's not such a great thing for the folks unfortunate enough to live there, what with being subjected to a regime run by fanatics operating according to a particularly bloody interpretation of Sharia law liberally sprinkled with rampant tribalism.

Having already included "abandoning Iraq according to a publicly announced political schedule" among its many foreign policy faux pas, the sensible thing for any administration with the brains that God gave a microcephalic duck and the morals of as good or better than those of the average rattlesnake to do would be to sigh heavily, mobilize and intervene on a massive military scale before we found ourselves compelled to do so anyway at far higher cost.

Instead we will likely see hemming, hawing, and self-stimulatory rituals performed by this administration even as an entire new set of killing fields emerges under a regime already alleged to be sponsoring mass be-headings in captured cities in northern Iraq. As women are stoned for the crime of being raped. And as LGBT folks are routinely executed for being LGBT folks.

Under the self-righteous narcissism of the current administration we are likely to see the occasional platitude, perhaps even a taking of diplomatic notice. But relief for the suffering, protection of our allies defense of fundamental human rights will have to wait for 2017.

Dammit.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Reference Post: Mass Killings by other means

Having grown tired of the meme "only firearms are used in mass killings" this post is dedicated to providing a list of recent knifings that fit into the "mass casualty" descriptor...

I am even *more* tired of "only killings or assaults with firearms count" as a meme...

Knife-wielding attackers kill 29, injure 130

Osaka School Massacre

Lone Star College Knife Attack

Arson, Stabbing Rampage in Seoul South Korea : 10/20/2008. 6 people dead, 5 from stabbing. 7 others wounded, 4 seriously. An angry man felt people “looked down on him.”
Anti-police stabbing spree in Shanghai, China: 7/2008. 6 Police Officers stabbed to death, 4 wounded. 28 year old man angry at police attacked a police station with a knife.
Akihabara Massacre, Chiyoda City, Tokyo, Japan: 6/8/2008. 7 people killed (3 struck by car, 4 by stabbing), many more injured. Man slammed into a crowd with his car, then jumped out and began stabbing people to death.
18 year old slashes 4 to death in Sitka, Alaska, US: 3/25/2008. 4 people killed. 18 year old (old enough to purchase a rifle over the counter) kills 4 people, related to him, with a 5 inch knife.
Stabbing Spree kills 2, Tsuchiura, Japan: 3/23/2008. 2 killed, 7 wounded. Man “just wanted to kill anyone.”
Stabbing spree wounds 41, 6 seriously in Berlin Train Station: 5/26/2006. 41 wounded, 6 seriously. Thankfully no one died in this attack, but not for lack of trying on the part of the drunk 16 year old.
4 killed in stabbing spree in London, UK: 9/2004. 4 killed, 2 wounded. Mentally ill man attacks mostly older people.
6 killed over Xbox dispute in Deltona, Florida, US: 8/6/2004. 6 killed. 4 men (all old enough to legally purchase firearms) bludgeon 6 people to death with baseball bats over purloined Xbox.
Daegu subway fire, Daegu, South Korea: 2/18/2003. 198 killed, 147 injured. A 56 year old unemployed taxi driver, dissatisfied with his medical treatment, sets fire to a crowded train.

Missed properly attributing #3-9, discovered at Stephen E. Wrights blog (assuming I can type at this hour, pre-caffeine). Fixed, and FWIW, apologies extended. I suspect there are others that could easily added, but this was what I could *quickly* gather.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Sriracha Cheesy Grits

Sriracha Cheesy Grits

 

  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/4 cups uncooked quick-cooking grits*
  • 1/2 (8-ounce) block extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 cup) $
  • 1/2 (8-ounce) block Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (about 1 cup) $
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream $
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce $
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (optional)
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • Add’l 8 oz. Cheddar, shredded.
Bring chicken broth to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Gradually whisk in grits; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes or until thickened.

While waiting for grits - whisk together whipping cream, Sriracha, black pepper & red pepper. Also beat together eggs in separate bowl. 

After 10 minutes or with thickened grits, stir in Cheddar cheese, next 5 ingredients, and, if desired, Worcestershire sauce, stirring until cheese melts. Remove from heat, and stir in eggs.

Pour grits into a lightly greased 2-quart or 11- x 8-inch baking dish. Sprinkle layer of cheddar across top of grits. Bake, uncovered, at 350ยบ for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden and set.

*Stone-ground grits may be substituted. Increase liquid to 6 cups, and increase cook time to 50 minutes.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Cracking the Code of Crazy

What with one thing and another, I run across a lot of "purists." The ones whose battle cry is "Total Victory or No Victory At All!" The same ones that hold ideological purity as more important than actual victory - the sort that would throw Alan Gottlieb under the bus for seeking victory in bits rather than loss in heaping helpings.

While, in my eyes, Dudley Brown of NAGR sort of epitomizes the "dysfunction for profit" version of this syndrome with his "purer than thou" cries as he extends his hand for dollars, the kids doing open carry of long arms down in Texas seem on pretty much on the same page. A page called "completely detached from objective reality" - the page comes with many, many pictures.

The problem in Dudley & Co's case, if I analyze it rightly, is a business plan built on tearing down the folks actually doing the work and making progress on the 2nd Amendment portion of the civil rights schtick (or at least doing damage control in those cesspools of fear, bigotry and hatred towards guns and lawful gun owners like California, NJ, IL and other versions of Mordor) and pleading for cash because the ones they tear down are "insufficiently pure and betraying the cause" because the broker compromises that result in either net gains or minimized losses.

This isn't helpful. It is less helpful when coming from a group with but a single and severely limited court victory of which I am aware and which otherwise seems only to be triumphant in stirring up division in the pro-gun community for profit.

The nimrods busily frightening the undecided into the hostile camp and turning neutral locations into gun free zones by brandishing long arms in spaces where such are sufficiently unusual as to inspire concern (i.e., "where are the exits and do I have a clear line of fire on this numbskull") among our allies in the pro 2nd Amendment community exhibit the same variety of "holier than thou" or "Sister Bertha Better Than You" mentality wherein any person bearing criticism of their tactics is inherently a traitor to the cause.  

Similarly, the folks in the libertarian and Tea Party camps that loudly cry "Treason! Compromise! ALL OR NAUGHT! STORM THE GATES!" at the hint of any sort of incrementalist approach (particularly ones that involve compromise in service of a long term victory) are less than entirely helpful to the cause of extricating the party of corruption and the Klan from its rancid gelatinous grasp on the levers of power.

Frontal assaults are all fine and dandy when you have overwhelming superiority of force on your side (though even then they tend to be expensive in at least time and treasure). When all you've got is alleged moral superiority and (if you're lucky) facts and logic on your side - dying on the allegorical swords of your political opposition not only has rather less charm, it is rather less than effective.

For those of us actually interested in victory (rather than fanaticism or religious fervor) - whether in the narrower field of firearms rights or in the broader goal of seeking smaller government with greater individual empowerment, freedom and responsibility - compromise exists as a valid step to move the ultimate end goal forward. It's unlikely we're going to undo a century and change of "progressive" damage in but a single fell swoop - but if we keep chipping away at the obscene edifice (not unlike the manner in which it was erected a teaspoon of excrement at a time) and refrain from throwing up our hands...victory is quite possibly ours.

"Total Victory or No Victory" isn't a recipe for victory - it's just an unusually complicated way to self-destruct.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Texas & Open Carry

Perhaps it is wildly optimistic of me, but I propose a grand compromise that will hopefully sideline the long arm open carry types - decisively. If I'm fortunate enough that a majority of Texas legi-critters read this and just go nuts in support, well...I'd argue it'd make gun rights discourse suddenly more civil generally and deter counterproductive behavior specifically.

I propose a bit of a trade. In exchange for:

1) The end of binding (30.06) signage.
2) Handgun open carry w/o license requirement
3) Bar carry.
4) Recognition of  LE commissions and CPL's of all states that recognize both the CPL's and LE Commissions issued by Texas. 

That the gun community agree to

1) Misdemeanor status for uncased/unholstered carry of loaded long arms or long arms that would appear loaded to a reasonable person while within regions of an incorporated city  with a population density of over 300 persons per square mile as calculated in the last federal census. For this purpose, "holstered" to indicate in a sheath of leather or synthetic materials covering the long arm entirely from muzzle to a space on the stock not less than 2" behind the rearmost portion of the receiver to specifically include the entire trigger and trigger guard assembly, such holster to be securely strapped to the back or leg of the person carrying said holstered long arm.

2) Misdemeanor status for persons carrying unholstered or uncased long arms within 500' of a paved road, sidewalk or structure in areas with with a population density of over 75 persons per square mile as calculated in the last federal census.

With luck this will advance the cause of firearms rights in Texas, make a net available to toss over counterproductive attention-whores, and end the sabotage of firearms rights efforts nationwide by said attention whores.