Friday, February 29, 2008

Television Shows

I like Stargate. It's a fun semi-Space Opera romp...but I have a question - with the Gould (sp?), Wraith, and other assorted baddies floating about - why don't we ever see the Powers That Be in this construct universe do the logical thing?

You know where I'm going, don't ya?

Who's better equipped to go and explore, on the ground, a deeply hostile environment - a bunch of fighter jocks and research types? Or, just maybe, a couple of SEAL teams? Or perhaps a largish number of Marines?

I'm just wondering....

Yes, I know the show was canceled two years ago - this still annoys me when I watch the reruns.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Pulling the Flush Handle

Sometimes an agency develops an internal culture with all the redeeming benefits of a recurring malignant cancer, and rather than serving the public becomes an instrument of caprice and torment. When this occurs, costly as it may be, it is time to pull the flush handle.

Every agency, however, has its' constituency - even if only the employees of that agency, who are often the strongest advocates for its' continued existence. Thus, some means of inducing such motivated individuals to either hold their tongue or actively favor the elimination of their employer must be found. I offer a humble solution - early retirement, regardless of time in service, providing a strong financial motive for both veterans and newbies to jump ship and not seek other federal positions (possibly bringing the infectious stench of their prior "agency culture" with them).

I nominate the BATFE for initial testing of this approach as an agency that has long demonstrated their contempt for the law and for the rights of private citizens, acting as a rather specialized political police rather than as an enforcement agency in a republic composed of free citizens with actual civil rights.

From Waco, to Ruby Ridge, to Red's Trading Post, to the most recent events at Cavalry Arms in Gilbert, AZ - they have proven consistently unworthy of the public trust. While not consistently the direct instrument of tragedy, they have been the instigating force much too often. Let them be gone, paid off with retirement in full.

That is all.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I couldn't've said it better myself...

RobertaX may be channeling Lucy Kropotkin.....yet another blogomot that ought be mandatory annual reading from grades 8-12 in the public schools, under "Civics".

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

And now, What Hollywood thinks of YOU!

Casting Call seeks "inbred" look for movie set in W. Virginia....

"Shattered Sense of Security"

Shattered Sense of Security - LA Times

Ms. Rosenblatt -

Might I suggest you would serve your readership far better investigating the myth of "safety"?

Lovely as the notion is, on first pass, once one begins to look at the mythical concepts of "safety", "Safe Zones", "gun & drug free zones", and other elements of what are essentially secular theology....the kindest interpretation of them is as misguided myth spiraling downwards towards "our political leaders need to look busy" and yet more cynical evaluations of such thing.

At base, there is no such thing as perfect safety or a safety zone. At absolute best, there are "risk reduction" and areas of lesser risk, achieved only by balancing privacy and civil liberties against an acceptable level of risk, in a rather grim street level playing out of cost-benefit analysis. That a second simultaneous cost-benefit analysis takes place of police and emergency services resources balanced against what constituencies can either scream the loudest or riot the most frantically does not improve matters. And even at that I simplify.

That the events at Aragon were unfortunate is obvious. What is less obvious is that the such solutions as may be available, limited as they are, are unlikely to be found in new regulatory legislation.

While it may be a revolutionary concept for some, criminals don't worry too much about obeying or disobeying the law. This is, perhaps, because they are criminals - folks who break the law.

In light of this stunning revelation, we are faced with little beyond the present day process of writing reports and mopping up the blood after such instances (and in the case of all too many journalists and activists, dancing in it for one reason or another before commencing mopping) in terms of reactive options. Criminals, the insane, and the criminally insane will not be substantially affected by any law we pass.

Looking for preventative solutions, we are left with making ourselves less vulnerable - what some refer to as hardening the targets. To achieve this, we must think outside the paradigm of these last few decades.

* We read of various facilities (schools, workplaces, etc) becoming impromptu drivethru locations courtesy of disgruntled or disabled customers or employees. At a minimum, we need physical barriers (not another essentially silly law) sufficiently sturdy to slow or stop most vehicles.

* We read of cases where bad folks behave badly in the vicinity of schools or other places where persons defenseless by law gather. At a minimum, we need to re-evaluate the architectural efforts of the the last few decades with their utilitarian brick firewalls and lots of glass providing laughable protection from any sort of high velocity projectile - be it a bullet or a bit of shrapnel from an accident on an adjacent road. We need to look at design and materials less in terms of fitting a particular school of architectural thought, and more in terms of protection and energy efficiency.

* We read of various school and workplace attacks with a variety of implements. We must teach ourselves and our youth the importance of, when faced with berserkers of whatever stripe, that the appropriate response is to step up and fight rather than the "cower and flee" response of "do what an attacker tells you". Further, unless we wish to assume a huge economic burden and place ourselves in a police state, we must once again recognize the vital role of the law-abiding and lawfully armed private citizens in preventing (and stopping) criminal incidents ranging from petty muggings on through random rape and murder and thence to mass homicides.

We can't get (and if we really think about it, probably don't want) "safe". If we take responsibility for our fates, we might, perhaps, achieve acceptable risk.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Morning After College Scramble

Stumbled across this some years ago, and added the ingredients to "keep available at all times" list simply because even hungover (tested back in the dark mists of time) or crawling outta bed leaving someone warm'n'wonderful can usually stir this up quickly and be moderately impressive.

3 Eggs
3/4 c. Cheese (A hard cheese that melts well - gouda, cheddar, etc. I use Asiago ONLY when cooking for myself)
1 Sausage (I like hot italian, myself...but Andouille is yummy too)
2 tbsp Butter
1 tbsp Chopped Garlic

This is an *approximate* recipe and based on what you've got stocked in your fridge at any given moment. In general, however...start out tossing a couple of tablespoons butter and tablespoon of garlic into a 12" fry pan. Set the heat to medium, and let the butter melt and the garlic saute until lightly brown or you throw in the sausage, whichever comes first.

While the butter and garlic are doing their thing, quarter the sausage lengthwise, then slice the quarters into 1/4" slices. (This is MUCH easier if, when you brought home the sausage, you put it in the freezer). Toss the diced sausage in with the garlic and butter, and continue to saute until cooked through.

Add three eggs (need not be whisked) to pan. Break the yolks, and stir in. Notch up the heat a little, and while you wait for the eggs to set up a little, cube up your cheese. Once the eggs are semi-firm and starting to have dry surfaces, toss in the cheese cubes, stirring vigorously. Continue to saute until eggs are dry and cheese has at least started to melt (I like the cheese to be sort of "semi-firm"). Serve to proposed victim.

Makes enough for one hearty breakfast. For additional victims, multiply by number of victims.

Mutant Molasses Cookies

The below are converted to Splenda for damage control - they aren't exactly carb-free, but they're less carb-intensive than the original model (to convert back, just substitute white sugar for Splenda). Warning: These are rather zesty.


1 c. butter, softened
1 1/2 c. splenda
1/2 c. unsulfured molasses
2 eggs lightly beaten
4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/4 tsp. baking soda
4 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
3 tsp. ground cloves
3 tsp. ground cinnamon
Granulated sugar for coating cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and Splenda in large bowl. Beat in molasses and eggs until thoroughly combined. Set aside. In another bowl, mix flour, salt, baking soda, ginger, cloves and cinnamon. Gradually stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture until blended and smooth. With sugar coated hands, roll pieces of dough into 1 1/2 inch balls. Roll the balls with additional sugar and place them about 2 1/2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 13 minutes. Cookies will flatten as they bake. Remove cookies from oven and immediately cool on wire racks.

Notes: 1) Splenda often requires a bit more liquid. Don’t be shy.

2) Towards the end, this is a very heavy dough. It can burn up smaller
KitchenAid mixers. Lesser mixers should be watched closely.

Makes about 40 cookies.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Mama's Don't Let Your Babies...

Mama Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Drag Queens…

(With apologies to Willie Nelson)

Drag Queens aren’t easy to love and they’re harder to hold
and they’d rather give you a song, than diamonds or gold.
Gold lame’ dresses and well aged old show tunes,
each night begins a new day.
And if you don’t understand him and he don’t die young,
he’ll prolly just ride away.

Mama’s don’t let your babies grow up to be Drag Queens
Don’t let them wear lipstick and put on corset’s
Doctors and lawyers are much better bets.
Mama’s don’t let your babies grow up to be Drag Queens
They’ll never stay home and they’re always alone,
even with someone they love.

Drag Queens like smoky old dance clubs and well focused spotlights
Little warm kitties, cold snark, and twinks in the night
And them that don’t know him won’t like him
And them that do sometimes won’t know how to take him
He ain’t wrong he’s just different
but his pride won’t let him do things to make you think that he’s right.

Mama’s don’t let your babies grow up to be Drag Queens
Don’t let them wear lipstick and put on corset’s
Doctors and lawyers are much better bets.
Mama’s don’t let your babies grow up to be Drag Queens
They’ll never stay home and they’re always alone,
even with someone they love.

Canaries in coal mines and seven foot drag queens
They sing real purty, and warn us just right
Things that hit them, hit us a little bit later
Forewarned is forearmed, forearmed prepared
Thanks to the Drag Queens, daring a difference
They pushed at the boundaries, and fought the good fight.

Mama’s don’t let your babies grow up to be Drag Queens
Don’t let them wear lipstick and put on corset’s
Doctors and lawyers are much better bets.
Mama’s don’t let your babies grow up to be Drag Queens
They’ll never stay home and they’re always alone,
even with someone they love.

Mama’s don’t let your babies grow up to be Drag Queens
Don’t let them wear lipstick and put on corset’s
Doctors and lawyers are much better bets.

(Fear the whimsy!)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Note to self:

Design & Publicize logo/t-shirt/mugs "McCain - Not as Bad as ClObama. Not quite."

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Courage, the best prescription...

As Matt over at Better and Better points out, the best prophylactic for mass killers is the willingness to stand up and take responsibility, accepting that there may be some personal cost, that even the ultimate price may be paid, in the quest to protect others.

One example he offers (and more that I've added) that I want to help publicize as modern day heroes are Jacob Ryker, Louise Zoller, Jeanne Assam, Kris Key, James Middleton,Ken Bruce, Gary Seale, and others who have made the decision to go out raging against the night, if necessary, rather than cringing on their knees.

And then, most recently, James Pickett performing a public service.

Just perhaps we need to emphasize duty and honor more, and self-preservation at all costs a wee bit less in what, as a nation, we teach our children and ourselves.

Speech vs. Privacy vs. Reality

It seems a relatively clueless federal judge out in California has seen fit to not merely issue a takedown notice to a website, but to strike all DNS records of it (the part your PC looks at to ask "where do I find") until further notice, and then lock the DNS to the current registrar so the domain can't be transferred to a registrar outside the jurisdiction.

The website,, was dedicated to that relatively odd form of free speech known as "whistleblowing", which many cogently argue is a vital restraint upon the public and private actions of governments and other organizations. Wikileaks provided an anonymous forum for folks to publish data with what it represented as a reasonable guarantee of anonymity.

Not surprisingly, some small number of folks who found this distressing - usually folks that aren't eager for public scrutiny.

In a case brought by Swiss banking group Julius Baer concerning several documents posted on the site allegedly revealing bank involvement with money laundering and tax evasion, attorneys for the bank group demanded the documents be removed.

The judge then issued an order, and having been issued half a clue, attempted to "take something off the net". While arguments of freedom of the press (and speech) vs. privacy in such circumstances are still being hammered out with occasional spicy bits from their friends libel and slander, the judge in question failed to address or understand a basic question.

You can't call back the wind.

A simple google search draws a blank on "wikileaks", even when one uses the oft-relied upon google "cache" function - oddly, that's been purged. However, when one searches on "Wikileaks alternatives", oh my - is now replicating virally (i.e., copies of the site are springing up on servers all over the place) on servers in countless nations even as the number of folks examining wikileaks skyrockets as a result of the "temptation of the forbidden fruit" and simple publicity.

I'm somehow doubting that becoming a worldwide laughingstock was the goal of the judge issuing this order, nor was bringing contempt upon the judicial system of the United States. Similarly, I doubt the banks attorneys sought, as a goal, to ensure vastly broader readership for the documents they sought to censor.

Both failed to understand a basic reality - that once information is out there in the internet, it can *never* be called back (and that's the gentle happy warm fuzzy version). The version of the statement with fangs and hair is that heavy handed attempts to call back the wind by law enforcement or judicial bodies tend to be vastly counterproductive - in all but a few cases (things found universally repugnant, such as child porn), it sends large ratio's of the more geekish into a quietly dangerous rage on an international basis, and the power of tech looms large in the land.

The thing is, when a geek gets peeved about freedom of speech he or she is seldom ever carrying a sign in front of the offending jurisdiction. While despite rumors to the contrary, most geeks can be exposed to sunlight without damaging them, carrying a picket sign is...silly. The geekish protest is to launch a server or three carrying the censored materials back to the web - precisely what we see occuring with wikileaks - and those tend to be copied to servers located around the world as other geeks hear of censorship in action, grow annoyed, and launch their own servers in their own this case, many nations well beyond the reach of a U.S. District Court Judge.

At least at this point, once a document is on the web, to attempt a judicial order to "call it back" is at best self-defeating, and at worst counterproductive.

Things you can't carry on Amtrak

Hmm....Guess I won't be riding Amtrak anytime soon...AIRLINES are less restrictive. Reminds me of that old Willie Nelson song, "On the Road Again..." At least flying, you can check your items.

Prohibited Items

The following kinds of items are prohibited as both checked and carry-on baggage:

  • Any type of gun, firearm, ammunition, explosives, or weapon.
  • Incendiaries, including flammable gases, liquids and fuels.
  • Large, sharp objects such as axes, ice picks and swords.
  • Corrosive or dangerous chemicals or materials, such as liquid bleach, tear gas, mace, radioactive and harmful bacteriological materials.
  • Batteries with acid that can spill or leak (except those batteries used in motorized wheelchairs or similar devices for mobility-impaired passengers).
  • Club-like items, such as billy clubs and nightsticks.
  • Fragile and/or valuable items, including but not limited to electronic equipment. (Laptop computers and handheld devices may be carried onboard; however, Amtrak accepts no liability for damage.)
  • Animals (except service animals).
  • Oversized and/or overweight items.

Please note: This is not an exhaustive list. Any item similar to those listed, even if not specifically mentioned here, is prohibited from being carried onboard or checked as baggage.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

We're not responsible for our government...

The Toledo Free Press on 14 Feb 08 published "Controversy over Marines rejection impacts city's development efforts", an article I'd summarize as simultaneously claiming that businesses in that city and in Berkeley should not be punished for the misconduct of their government officials and an odd blend of such response is a red herring by conservatives who see American public opinion turning against them and the effect is too small to consider in any case.

Frankly, who better to punish than businesses in the jurisdictions that have engaged upon sedition as a hobby? They funded the campaigns of these loons (or failed to effectively fund opponents), they provide the tax dollars to support these seditious activities. It would seem logical to terminate all business relationships with not merely the city governments concerned, but all businesses within their respective jurisdictions, until such time as the guilty are rousted from office.

Actions and inactions have consequences.

I can only regret that we aren't yet seeing suppliers of emergency and other equipment to the cities themselves severing maintenance and other contracts. Let the cities pay retail

NIU Shooting

First off, before I blog, I'll bleg. If you would please go over to and vote in their poll re: what the response should be to the N. Illinois Univ. shooting it'd be much appreciated - as I write this the response is 66% in favor of "make it harder to buy a gun" in one of the most anti-gun states in the union, vs. 33% in favor of "perhaps we should make Ill. a concealed carry state".

Those polls are anything but scientific, but neither are politicians.

Alright. That said...

A number of folks have already written on the NIU tragedy, and on the other recent tragedies in Victim Enhancement Zones - and the ones I tend to read without gagging are mostly of the pro-gun variety, but I acknowledge that there are plenty of the "dancing in the blood" sorts out there writing as well.

For me, it seems that (broadly) there are three general schools of response to the NIU incident - sitting upon ones hands (for good reasons or ill), enhanced restrictions upon the law-abiding, or providing tools to reduce the vulnerability of potential victims.

Sitting on ones hands is a fine solution if you can honestly say that you've put in place about all the precautions that are practical, minimized the vulnerability of potential victims, and pretty much done everything you can under the other two schools of thought.

Sadly, this was not NIU. It was a felony to bring firearms on campus, a felony to shoot at people, and a felony to kill people - all well in advance of the tragedy. At NIU (and at the other recent mass killings, where some or all of these measures were in place) these regulatory measures did not observably deter the killer - but they did significantly increase the vulnerability of potential law-abiding victims.

With NIU essentially a law-abiding herd of vulnerable sheep in an enclosed space (again, similar to other locations of recent tragedy), the shepherds were mere minutes away when seconds counted. On the same theme, much short of a walled campus with checkpoints similar to Airport Security, all that was accomplished by disarming the population was to make them vulnerable to the first nutjob or criminal to meander along.

More regulation of the law-abiding, having already failed, doesn't seem to be a real good bet when the target of our concerns are the folks who aren't law-abiding in the first place. In most societies, killing folks off is one of the very first things regulated, followed shortly by defining under what circumstances getting physical is officially naughty.

Not surprisingly, we now look to the third approach - reducing vulnerability, an approach with several elements. First off, we need to stop - as parents, relatives, schools, and public leaders - teaching that surrender is a viable option - Matt G. over at Better & Better makes this point quite well, that it's better to go out on your feet than on your knees. We MUST stop telling ourselves and our progeny the false tale "it's better to just give them what they want, to surrender, than to resist" and resume the older and far more practical meme - if attacked, FIGHT BACK! Fight back with every resource, means, and wit you've available...for if you prevail, you and others may live..

Finally, after the last mass killing a pundit was on Good Morning America that actually made sense. He pointed out that most mass killers are, at least in their own eyes, such complete and irredeemable failures that they see a mass killing in the media where the perpetrator is effectively glorified by the media blood dance with national exposure of the murders photograph, name, history, speculations about motivation, and such coverage of the procedural details of the atrocity as to comprise a how-to manual (and that prior such creatures are always revived and reviewed in contrast to the latest atrocity) and our self-defined failure begins to see atrocity as his/her only and final way to make a lasting impression on a "cold, cruel, world" - leaving a blood-drenched swan song for the media to sing.

I doubt anyone in the media will listen, but in light of this rather insightful punditry, I would suggest a purely voluntary media standard in such instances:

1) Neither name nor show images of mass killers. Take away the swan song.
2) Acknowledge the victims, showing their images and names in lieu of the killers. They deserve to be committed to memory, not the killer.
3) Celebrate the heroes who either fought back or died trying, and bemoan the absence thereof, as events dictate. Don't damn them with the faint praise of "authorities suggest fighting back just makes things worse". Even if it did, sometimes, the net long term effect of deterring such madness is worth it.
4) Enough with the how-to manuals for mass murder. It is enough say "Today a killer murdered (#) people at (location), and injured (#) others. The killer was/is/has (apprehended/killed/still roams free). Authorities suggest persons in the area (run in circles & scream and shout/remain in their homes,/attend memorial services" accompanied by a list of the injured and deceased. We don't need coverage that easily translates to "THIS IS HOW TO DO BAD THINGS".

Friday, February 15, 2008

Onwards and Upwards

Well. Hissy fit well and properly thrown, onwards and upwards.

I note that the fine folks in Berkeley continue to work to ensure the USMC recruiting office feels fully unwelcome, with the Mayor of that city joining the Code Pink sorts in protest outside their office. Not surprisingly, I continue to favor diverting all federal funding to the city to the USMC and their dependents - and frankly, I suggest that we'd be far better off with cities in general being forced to stand on their own without federal funds, as we'd see a much more direct link between city funding and spending, and perhaps see reasoned decisions on a more frequent basis.

When "bright shiny new program" is more obviously linked to "bright shiny new tax" rather than "increased federal largesse" that seemingly comes from some magic money pot in the sky (actually, just a different part of your wallet and mine), I suspect that voters will tend to be much more proactive in counseling city council members on the notion of "priorities".

Nothing new on the USMC vs. Toledo, OH front that I've seen.

And in other news, I'm intrigued to observe reports of campaign funds in the hundreds of thousands of dollars being diverted to the campaigns of the various Dem super-delegates - now, if I were running for office, and offered each voter $50 to vote for me (or more obliquely, "just because I liked them") aside from burning through a potload of money, wouldn't that be considered vote-buying and officially naughty? Just wondering...

Of course, while all that's going on, it's kind of nice to see Hillary getting waxed - but it's my hope that Huckabee has the sense that God gave a goose and retires from the field. The GOP is going to be fighting an uphill battle from square one to retain what offices it has outside of bedrock GOP areas, and the last thing it needs is party infighting.

And as regards yesterdays hissy, well - I'll try not to inflict it to terribly often. I know that other folks have it substantially worse, and that in the grand scheme of things, what seems a poo blizzard in my life is but a mild drizzle compared to the monsoons of misery in the lives of others. But being in the midst of it, it's occasionally a bit difficult to see that, and to consistently attribute the proper proportion to "consequences of bad decisions" vs. simple misfortune.

I've actually quite a lot to be grateful for - family I can still speak to comfortably, a couple of delightful nieces, a roof over my head, food to eat on a consistent basis, and a number of other triviata that strike me as significant. Regardless, now and again a wee bit o' venting is necessary.

Ah well. Off we go to muddle through. :)

Thursday, February 14, 2008


I don't like to do this too terribly often, but now and again, getting it all off ones chest can be healthy.

In the last three years I've watched a business I care about tank, worked for another that was sold (and then tanked), done the MRSA dance from hades with surgical intervention, come up diabetic, had other medical adventure, moved back with family, lost my father, organized a funeral, am assisting my mom through the post-event paperwork and dispositions, sold a mobile home (and a car, and sundry other goodies) at a loss, am working on paying off the IRS, and lost a job. And I'm three weeks into the cold from hell.

I'm a wee bit tired, and that's really what I needed to share.

I'm finding that I am avoiding even needful confrontation, am short-tempered, and am easily and frequently depressed. I'm physically tired well beyond what I can objectively justify, and find my sleeping patterns disrupted.

In short, I'm not a happy camper, and am heartily ready for the end of the biowaste buffet.


That said, I at least retain the gumption to try and maintain an largely cheerful demeanor and "fake it till I make it."

Where do I sign up for a desk job in Iraq? :)

My head hurts.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The wee beastie

I think I've mentioned the wee beastie that arrived at the house back in November. One of the few decisions I'm pretty clear is a good one over the last little bit.

At 26lbs on arrival, he's on a bit of diet...but as he is also the past master of looking hungry and pitiful, diet enforcement isn't especially easy...especially as the previous owner (he's a shelter cat) trained him to use his forepaws for all sorts of unusual things.

He doesn't headbutt your leg, ever. You get a couple of gentle taps with the forepaw, a yowl, and then a less gentle tap with the claws extended. I suspect this is his version of people-training. The same technique goes for doors and cupboards...the forepaw is the key to many things the average cat of my acquaintance wasn't quite bright enough to pull off.

Still, on a bad day when all seems bleak, he can be counted on to hop up, snuggle up, and produce a basso profundo purr as you pet him, and make very clear that he's your friend.

Thanks to the unnamed blogger who inspired this. :)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Berkeley Follies

It seems that the Mayor of Berkeley and at least one City Council member are beginning to do the weasel dance as they recognize the extent of their mis-step. Apologies are starting to happen.

Of course, its' purely coincidental that six GOP Senators are drafting the first bill to divert funds from the City of Berkeley to the USMC.

They shouldn't get the money back. In fact, more and more funds should be permanently diverted from the City of Berkeley to the USMC until either the Mayor and Council resign, or the City goes bankrupt. Whichever comes first.

In the meantime, the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce maintains a lovely list of folks not to do business with until such time as the conditions above are met. I suggest writing and thanking them. A similar note to the fine folks over at the Visitors and Convention Bureau might be useful as well.

Romney's Out

I was never a Romney fan, but we now realistically have only a choice of Huckabee (shudder), McCain (rather, ummm, unpredictably flexible), and Paul (requiring a minor miracle to get the nomination. And of those choices, only McCain is believable.

Huckabee is sufficiently dreadful that I'd vote for a democrat before I'd support a theocrat. Fortunately, he really doesn't even have the delegates to force his way on the ticket as VP, and with Romney dropping out, Huckabee's delegates aren't really needed in any case.

Paul, while charming in many ways, would require a minor miracle to bargain his way on the ticket as VP.

At this point, our best hope is to write our various GOP folk and urge Thompson for VP.

All we have left is damage control - and while McCain is bad (he's certainly been no friend to the LGBT community, and not particularly a steadfast friend to the firearms community), he's not *as bad* as those preachers of the theology of victimization and class warfare on the left.

I'm not sure holding our noses will be enough.

Stalkers and such...

I am now petitioning the good list for ideas. On one of the lists I frequent, the following question was posed, and I offer my response for criticism and/or your enjoyment.
(anon) wrote:

Here's a little background:

Ann and Bart are separated, they have two young girls (aged 7 and 4). Bart has been convicted of trespassing, breaking and entering, I don't know all the stuff he was charged with. He was charged, he was caught stalking and then breaking into a woman's bedroom (she wasn't his wife and she wasn't home). That was one count.

Since his conviction Ann has sought to divorce him and protect her girls from this pervert. Her lawyer told her to get a protection order. He has since been stalking her, driving by places she
frequents (school,church,store). Yesterday she came to my wife asking her for help. Aside from not wanting to be in the middle of a marital, spat I have no problem helping people out. Unfortunately I have no idea what to tell her. I've recommended self defense classes and FAS women's classes. She is not opposed to purchasing a gun for protecting her and the girls, although she's never held/fired a gun.

I humbly ask the list to correct me where I stray, but...

"Ann" has three strategic tracks she needs to pursue more or less at the same time, and all of them engender some degree of change and/or discomfort.

1) Life Changes - time for a new place to live, new school, new church and new shopping choices, and ideally a new car. These may not be fiscally practical, in whole or in part, but the more of this sort of "profile change/reduction" that she can accomplish, the better. If a womens shelter needs to be involved as a stopping place in this sequence, so be it - but be aware that many of them have "no weapons" (aka Victim Vulnerability Enhancement) policies. Remember, the first and best self defense strategy is "be someplace else when bad things are happening".

2) I've heard so many good things about Gila Hayes at FAS that a good percentage must be true. If at all possible, let Gila provide training and assist "Ann" in selecting a firearm that "Ann" is comfortable with - she's busy being traumatized by a guy, so a female instructor is a better bet for warm fuzzies. If possible, have your wife take her down and start the process to get a CPL tomorrow (in Seattle, "Ann" will wait every single one of the thirty days before a permit is granted).

3) Get the No Contact Order and document the bejeezus out of things. Install video cameras around the house exterior if possible, and ideally on a 72hr "tape-over" cycle.

4) Install and use a quality monitored alarm system, if she hasn't already, and ensure that there are Panic Buttons as part of the system. Have and practice "home emergency plans". Home emergency plans include Fire/Medical/Intruder, at a minimum. Put the best alarm system she can on the car, ideally including GPS location and disabling technology.

5) If she can, plant thorny itch plants beneath or in front of all windows. I rather like japanese climbing rose, poison oak, and other friendly flora. When I lived in the desert, I carefully nurtured barrel cactus beneath my windows.

Note: I'm not a lawyer. I'm not an expert. Your mileage may vary. Cross-reference all such advice, there is no "one true path".

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Nanny Uber Alles

Affirmation of the power of stupid in the Universe....

In Camden, NJ junior high students will be placed in detention for intentionally "enriching the learning environment".

InVirginia Beach police seized photos from Abercrombie & Fitch store and cited the manager on obscenity charges. The photo's were part of the standard A&F store decor. The charges have been dropped by the local prosecutor.

Finally, we have a Florida man arrested and charged for "singing" a rap song, albeit a raunchy one.

I suggest some of these folks need something better to do with their time, and I speak not of the offenders.

Monday, February 4, 2008

On Gay-bashing

Seattle has seen a recent spate of gay-bashings, and the usual "get a whistle, be careful, and don't resist" tripe is being spewed, with the local prosecutor hanging out "Hate Crime Awareness" posters.

It's more than a bit reminiscent of the bad old days. I arrived in the community fairly late in that game, back around '90 or '91, when gay ghetto was really in its ascendancy in Seattle. The clubs were hopping, little niche businesses were all over the Hill, and the air was charged with change and a wee bit of hope. And the closet, even then, was a lot more crowded than it is today. For all that, I miss the energy and spark of the era.

Bashings were a lot more frequent, and the communities most successful response was a modified version of Curtis Sliwa's Guardian Angels, the Q Patrol. The group disbanded some years ago. Pink Pistols never really took off as much as some of us had hoped in the liberal Seattle environment, but a determined core membership soldiers on.

Things have changed. Some say the ghetto is no longer necessary - that we no longer need the protection of numbers, or to separate ourselves out from the mainstream community to find happiness or security. Certainly the ghetto - be it Midtown in Atlanta, Capitol Hill in Seattle, Castro in SF, or other traditionally gay parts of town - is dispersing, and many of the small niche businesses are disappearing.

And of late, in Seattle, the bashings are on an upswing. And thus far no leader, whether within the gay community or in the broader community, has spoken of actual self-defense. Given where most of the pioneers of our community come from, veterans of the Vietnam Era, the notion of self-defense of anathema to the average big-government democrat...and sadly, those are the centrists of most LGBT communities.

For those who don't care to march in lockstep with the received wisdom of the community, preferring to think for themselves and reach their own conclusions, I offer a few thoughts and resources that diverge from the political lockstep we so frequently find in the LGBT and other minority communities.

Start out over at, and then take a thoughtful read over at LawDogs blog. I won't quote it to death, but doesn't that post sound awfully applicable to the LGBT community as well? I kind of question the notion that we're so special that happy thoughts and kind hearts will make all those who aren't enthralled with us turn spontaneously into kindly intended fluffy bunnies, particularly at that magic moment when they are about to whap one of us upside the head with 2x4 for giggles.

Many in the community would, at this point, whip out the old saws about "violence begets violence" and "violence never solved anything". Frankly, both are a crock, and Lawdog addresses them better than I can. But briefly, just as there is nothing inherently dishonorable or whacky about keeping a fire extinguisher in the house - there is nothing inherently wrong or whacky about keeping an effective means of self-defense about your person.

When you look at personal safety, four things come into focus - avoidance, strategy, tools, and the law.

In any situation where randomly bad things are happening, being someplace else far far away is an absolutely dandy strategy - whether you're talking about muggings, bashings, the occasional riot, house fires, or earthquakes. Always turn down such invitations, always.

Prevention is pretty straightforward. First off, it doesn't always work, no matter how much you'd prefer that it did. Secondly, taken to an extreme, prevention ends up with you hiding under a rock and raising unusual numbers of cats, poking a sharp stick at anything coming near. Still, carrying yourself with confidence and staying out of bad situations has a lot going for it, even if it's not a guarantee.

Failing prevention/avoidance, depending on your locale, there are plenty of other options legally available to you if you can shoehorn them into your ethical structure and your physical realities, each with their own pro's and con's.

If, as I have, you choose to include a firearm as part of your self-defense strategy - know the law, get training (at least as much, and preferably more than your jurisdiction requires), and practice. Surprising as it might be, not every gun fits every hand equally - not unlike a golf club or a tennis racket, different firearms fit different folks differently.

If you can, before buying go with an experienced friend and meander through the rental counter of your local range - my hands like the .45 Glock or the Para-ordnance P14 .45 - but, much as I enjoy shooting them or my S&W M25 .45LC, I don't carry any of the above. The balance of cost, concealability, and ergonomics has led me to the Bersa Storm .45 and the Keltec P3AT in .380 for the moment and, if I had to choose just one of them, I'd probably go with the Keltec on grounds of versatility - it's easier to tuck away discretely about ones person.

Different folks will come to different conclusions - if I lived in an unquestioned open carry state, I might go with a Para or Colt; as it is, I've made compromises to fit local conditions. Your conditions and mileage may vary.

But to return to gay bashing - it is my considered opinion that gay bashings will become less frequent in direct ratio to the level of perceived risk to the attackers....we are not, after all, talking about natures courageous little heroes after all.

In general, dynasties are not a good thing in a democracy or a republic, something many forget. To help folks remember (and turn a quick dollar), I've made available a product of my warped mind for your sartorial or decorative pleasure.

Not only a trenchant political message, but a contribution to the hovel fund!!

Sunday, February 3, 2008


What military aircraft are you?

EA-6B Prowler

You are an EA-6B. You are sinister, preferring not to get into confrontations, but extract revenge through mind games and technological interference. You also love to make noise and couldn`t care less about pollution.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Favorite Fictional Weapon

I don't know who started it, but the favorite fictional weapon meme is on. For myself, the ever-versatile Phaser II with detachable Phaser I unit for greater subtlety/concealability with settings ranging from "stun" to "vaporize" sounds like the ultimate in weapon versatility.

I'll take 10 please.

There's something charming about the notion of an *effective* weapon with an "oops, sorry" option.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Mistreating Marines and other egregious idiocy

A couple of brief news items on incidents with the U.S. Marines...

First off, the City of Oakland and (perhaps) the kids at the TSA seem to have difficulty understanding the nature of "hospitality" and similar difficulties with "respect", and "honor".

Oddly the Transportation Department found nothing wrong with denying 200 marines access to the passenger terminal, food, water, or restrooms during a layover on the trip back from Iraq. The story is still developing, but it seems some concerns were expressed about trusting Marines to store their weapons properly and/or that they would conduct themselves appropriately if they did meander in with full or partial battle gear.

Frankly, I tend towards the view that dropping 200 fully equipped Marines into any given situation tends to vastly increase the security of that situation - but hey, that's just me.

Next on our hit parade Publish Post, the City of Berkeley has seen fit to tell a USMC Recruiting Station that it is unwelcome, and that as a city they desire it depart forthwith. Cute. While it's unlikely to happen in the current Congress, Senator Jim DeMint (R.-SC) offers an appropriate response, suggesting that perhaps Berkeley no longer needs federal funding.

Finally, in an egregious sample of ninny-hammerhood, when the Navy ordered disposal of a coyote dining on pets in Navy housing, the City of Seattle went nuts. The Navy, regrettably, subsequently negotiated with the city and will attempt to retrain personnel in Navy Housing to refrain from letting pets out of doors or otherwise encouraging bad coyote behavior.