Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A little friendly recruiting

Seems the City of Seattle made a bit of a fuss when it put up a large billboard in New York City to recruit police officers from there in a lateral recruiting campaign. With starting salaries in Seattle easily twice that of NYPD with significantly lower cost of living, it's not an unattractive tradeoff.

It's my take that, while I'm sure there are many fine folks in NYC and in the NYPD, that New York isn't precisely a fermenting hotbed of libertarian thought or support of the Second Amendment.

Best intentions aside, I'm not sure that they are precisely what (as a private citizen) I'm really thrilled to have adding to the law enforcement culture of the Pacific Northwest. I kind of like the notion of agencies where at least line officers don't have knee-jerk anti-gun reactions programmed in from birth. That's just me, of course.

Thus my little effort, costing me but a few moments and type strokes, to "help" SPD's recruiting and that of other area departments. The Seattle Times graciously provides sample salaries of departments in the region. And last I heard, that $5,000.00 relocation stipend is still available from SPD.

I'm thinking the region could benefit from a good solid dose of Southern sensibility to balance out the loony left from California and the NorthEast. Any takers?

Umm, guys? You're still a member of the Union....

In a startling case out of Raleigh, North Carolina, two men have been charged with "Crimes against Nature" for engaging consensual sex with each other in the privacy of one of the mens bedroom.

Complicating the issue, one of the parties is charged with assaulting the other (non-sexual). Something not stated in the article, but that seems to me fairly good guess pops up here before we jump to the central issue.

The assaulting party may fall into a "curious & closeted buyers remorse" category - where the confused young gentleman, goes out and either gets drunk to create an excuse to explore or simply decides what the hell...and then after the deed is done, takes a deep dive into the guilt pond and surfaces all self-righteous spewing "I'm a GOOD boy, I'd never do anything like that, you "tricked me/got me drunk/worked voodoo/etc and it's all your fault and you must be punished/abused/beaten/threatened". A variation on this theme is the closet queen who, when discovered doing the deed, makes very similar noises to officers and/or the discoverer and the community at large.

This is part of why I tend to regard the newly out as stark raving mad for about a year after the "big disclosure", and try to resist any urge to date them. There are other reasons, as well, mainly other paths to excess drama.

The main course, however, is that pending further notice, North Carolina remains part of the Union, and as such, subject to the rulings of the Supreme Court of the United States. The previous is just dressing, it's the main course that results in a WTF moment.

In 2003, in Lawrence et al. v. Texas, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled for Lawrence and Co. finding that private consensual sexual acts between consenting adults could not constitutionally be prosecuted. This had the effect of striking down in one fell swoop laws barring same sex intercourse between consenting adults across the land in one fell swoop (13 states at the time of the ruling), and casting severe doubt on laws barring oral sex between consenting adults of the same or opposite sexes, and finally regarding adultery legislation.

There was no special exemption carved out for North Carolina.

Two months after the Lawrence decision was handed down, the attorney advising the Raleigh police department instructed them that they could keep charging people with crimes against nature only for publicly committing the acts. Subsequently, police in the state (according to the article) have used the "Crimes Against Nature" statute to prosecute public sex, same-sex prostitution and opposite-sex prostitution involving oral sex.

Efforts to repeal the statute have been rebuffed.

A day or so ago, the Raleigh police charged two men with "Crimes Against Nature" for engaging in consensual sexual acts between those gentlemen. Does anyone else see simple defiance of a Supreme Court ruling?

Throw in that, in general, laws regarding prostitution are mostly counterproductive or useless. Prostitution is prostitution, whether between same or opposite sex playmates and whether or not oral sex is involved - it is simply the exchange of money for sexual gratification. Beyond that, I don't see a reason that it shouldn't be legal (and perhaps licensed and subject to health inspections) where consenting adults are the players, allowing the eternally underfunded mechanisms of enforcement and corrections to focus their limited time and funding on more critical matters.

Pimping is offensive, as is extortion. Coercion into prostitution or chemical compulsion deserve really special attention, perhaps involving a gallows. But when the players have their eyes wide open, the public interest is at minimum based in the public health model (disease prevention) and at maximum in revenue generation. Thus, a logic based prostitution approach provides for licensing, inspection/infection testing, safer sex education, and enforcement of laws regarding minors (big no-no) and coercion (ideally, a lethally big no-no).

As far as public sex goes, I propose a new pair of civil infractions with a fine of perhaps $75.00 or so - Gross Stupidity in Public and Excessive Tackiness. The elements of gross stupidity consist of engaging in sexual actions in a public place and/or in a fashion that a reasonable person would expect to draw the attention of or subject passerby to unwanted sexual visual or audible sound effects. Excessive Tackiness would be soliciting others to engage in Gross Stupidity.

I suspect being cited for "Gross Stupidity and Excessive Tackiness" on the public record would be at least as much a deterrent as any fine, but that the minimal fines would keep the processing costs down and throw a bone to the righteous sorts.

Unfortunately, the Raleigh PD appears to be more interested in being righteous than in conserving limited resources (in this instance, simply avoiding the crimes against nature statute on the same order as a good case of the trots - there exist other ways to charge the naughty) and looks to be in line for a "constitutional slap upside the head" - more than likely, a very expensive one, with a seven figure settlement figure involved.

Similarly, the North Carolina State Legislature would do well to pull their collective heads out and pass something at least vaguely constitutional rather than the current statute. Not holding out much hope for that though.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

Rudyard Kipling

I went into a public-'ouse to get a pint o'beer,
The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here."
The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:

O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away";
But it's ``Thank you, Mister Atkins,'' when the band begins to play,
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it's ``Thank you, Mr. Atkins,'' when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!

For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, wait outside";
But it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide,
The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
O it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide.

Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.

Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy how's yer soul?"
But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.

We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints:
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;

While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind,"
But it's "Please to walk in front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind,
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's "Please to walk in front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind.

You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.

For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country," when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
But Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool - you bet that Tommy sees!

Our troops, past and present, have given and give of their time, blood, and lives whether it be in the line of fire or in training exercises preparing for the day they may be required to fulfill their various missions.

On this, Memorial Day, let us honor them, their service, and their sacrifices as we consider how best we might do that more meaningfully than with, as RobertaX puts it, the "ritual grimaces".

Should the treatment they receive in old age or on their return to civilian life to some degree not reflect the debt we owe as a society?

Friday, May 23, 2008

The FLDS rides again...

Recall that little raid down in Texas on the FLDS ranch where 400 some kids and every adult equipped with an xy genome got hauled off and held incommunicado, for their own protection?

I was a little skeptical then, but then along comes an initial hearing where all those kids cases are lumped together as one and they all get shipped off to the tender ministrations of the far flung foster homes of the Texas Department of Childrens Services. Did not lower my eyebrow, what with "innocent until proven guilty" being somewhat in conflict with "guilt by association", and the notion of a fair trial.

Now, an appeals court has taken formal notice and given the lower courts 10 days to set the children loose. This may be delayed if the State chooses to appeal to the State Supreme Court.

I'm not surprised, and I attribute this to that phenomena known as humanity. Folks (thank goodness) mostly don't go into social work because they want to grow up to push paper, don't give a damn about kids, or are sociopathic megalomaniacs. The social work folks I've met are genuinely caring folks placed in an impossible position on a regular basis, trained by both their organizations and by routine public floggings in the press to err on the side of caution - and get regular and painful doses of "what happens when nobody intervened".

Things have lurched mightily away from the day when a parent could pretty much do any damned thing they wanted in the name of discipline and short of severe and repeated injury or death tell the local authorities to tend their own business. Not surprisingly, in response to that era, things have bounced across the social landscape to where "protect the children and the gov't is the ultimate arbiter of the appropriate method thereof" in many regions, often riding roughshod over "innocent until proven guilty" and other such trivia in reaction to some of the more horrific events out there over the years.

The FLDS case looks like, at the current level, it'll add to the standards for removal "immediacy or imminence of threat" and may turn up some other legal clarifications as time goes on. I'm particularly concerned about holding adult persons incommunicado and without charge - I seem to recall there's some fairly concrete case law on that kind of thing, and that it may need to be clarified that a loud statement of "it's for their own good" is not a valid reason to commit kidnapping under color of law.

I don't have to *like* every logical extension of the Bill of Rights. I do have to recognize, at least to live up to my own standards, that the various rights described and protected therein are a tightly interwoven assembly each protecting the other - which means, mumbling and cursing and whining about why can't a test case ever be about folks I don't find distasteful or dysfunctional, I'm bound to defend the FLDS given my current understanding of the situation.

That said...if we can sort the individual sinners from the merely odd without getting caught up in a "fruit of the poisoned tree" debacle, then by all means, have at it.

Update: 24 May 08 1125 Texas is appealing to the Texas Supreme Ct, which has accepted the case but refused to stay the order to return the children to their parents. I am thinking this may be a hint as to which way they'll jump.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Immediately preceding cross-post

I enjoy Lawdog's blog quite a bit, not least because he often expresses notions far more eloquently than I hope to achieve in this incarnation. Of equal importance, he addresses some of the more societally self-destructive memes, myths, and issues of the day with wit and insight.

The cross-post below this essentially editorial note, "Paper Armour", takes aim at something I've been struggling to find a concise non-rant way to address - and hits the target with eloquence, wit, and vast accuracy. And for those not witty enough to pick up on it - the entry is just as true for the LGBT community as it is for the mainstream community.

Thank you, Lawdog.

Lawdog's "Meditations on paper armour"

I'm fond of paper.

A single sheet of paper can hold ideas, hopes, dreams; it can carry a song, orders, love; it can recall history, bear witness when none are left and it can serve as the base of art for bairns as well as their great-grandsires.

Many folks name the invention of the printing press as a foundation stone of human civilization -- but what is the use of a printing press with no paper to work with?

For all of it's utility and history, though, there is one area in which paper is sorely lacking:

It makes lousy armour.

Oh, I'm sure there are fantastic suits of
papier-mâché hauberks using fabled Oriental Death Bamboo paper and sacred Tibetan yak lacquer -- but let us cast our gaze upon a single sheet of 8 1/2 by 11 paper.

Let us further stipulate that it is of a good, heavy kind of paper -- quality stuff -- say, 32 lb paper. Pretty, is it not?

We shall hang this sheet of paper from something. A clothesline, maybe, or a door frame. Something that will hold the paper at the top and at the bottom, yet allow some room behind the paper.

Now, flick a hand at the paper and see how much force it takes to tear through it. A simple pass of the fingers, I'd wager. Nothing as vigorous as a baseball bat, or a fireplace poker, surely.

If you were to lay a similar sheet of paper -- flat, as it is meant to be read -- upon someone's cheek and then slap that cheek with all of your strength ... would it absorb the blow? Would an 8.5x11 inch sheet of paper cause the impact to hurt less?

How about a punch? Would a sheet of paper -- or two sheets, or three -- laid upon your stomach turn the trauma of a punch? A kick?

Does anyone think a sheet of paper will stop a kitchen knife, or a bullet?


Let us change the exercise a bit. Take a new sheet of paper, then rummage around and find your very favourite pen. With this most wonderful of writing instruments, I want you to write two words upon the pristine white surface of this sheet of paper.

The first word shall be, "RESTRAINING", and just below that, write the word, "ORDER". Just those two words. If those two words are not to your liking, you may substitute the words, "PEACE" and "BOND", the former above the latter.

As you admire your penmanship, I urge you to contemplate how much those two words change the ability of that sheet of paper to stop slaps. To absorb punches. If this single sheet of paper was held in front of your stomach, would it stop a kick?

Not so much?

Take this sheet of paper and add columns of section signs (§) here and there, write "In The Name Of The State of Texas" to the top, scribble a judge's name somewhere near the bottom.

How about now? Has the paper now suddenly become magical? Will you now trust this sheet of paper to stop a baseball bat aimed for your face -- because it has writing upon it?


Paper makes rotten armour, no matter how many inked symbols it holds.

And when it comes down to you and a critter, in a deserted parking lot in the afternoon; or a busy office at brunch; or your living room at midnight, at bad-breath distances -- that's all your ex parte restraint order or your peace bond is ... or even your Protective Order -- it is merely a piece of paper.

Oh, I hear you now: "LawDog, if I have a valid Protective Order, and the critter violates it, he goes to jail!"

Yes. He does. Remember, however, that when he does that violating, you have to be able to contact the men with guns to come help you. And then they have to come to you from wherever they are at the time you call. Until they get there, if the only thing you've got is that piece of paper ...

Well, as we've seen, paper just doesn't make decent armour at all.

Gentle Readers, nothing says, "Protected" quite like a Protective Order in one paw backed up by a self-defence tool in your other and the mindset and willingness to use it behind your eyes.

Stay safe.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Simple Pleasures

I treasure my morning shower. A few moments of peace and warmth, untainted by the concerns of the day. Yet, sadly, it has become more and more trying of late...as less and less warm water was showing up for the morning nirvana moment.

Thus, for the first time in years, I ventured into the wonderful world of plumbing. Last time I had to mess with plumbing, it was installing some new faucets down in Rancho Mirage and it's an area in which I have no excess of confidence. In this instance, I was faced with a showerhead backed with a charcoal filter installed on a free-hanging length of galvanized pipe back in the 70's sometime.

Managed to get the shower head off without major adventure, then discovered that every set of channel-lock pliers in the house had gone missing. Charcoal filter is 4" wide cylinder with no place for a normal wrench to do its little hexagonal magic.l Spent 45 minutes searching and cursing before admitting defeat.

A trip to the hardware store and some dollars later, I had a great whopping big set of channel lock pliers - I anticipate finding a pentagram formed of the missing pliers in the morning. After a bit of pondering, figured out how to use the channel lock without bending my bad shoulder out of shape and successfully extracted the charcoal filter that was splattering loose bits of antique charcoal all over the place (including into the old shower head which was packed solid, explaining the diminished water flow). Wrapped the threads on the exposed pipe in teflon tape, dialed the new shower head on, gritted my teeth and did my best to stay out of potential lines of fire....and turned on the water.


The damn thing worked on the first try. Some days it's the small pleasures.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Now and again, a good thing happens. Even less often, a multi-level good thing happens. Yesterday was such a day.

The California Supreme Court in their occasional wisdom handed down a lovely decision with wonderfully subversive implications, legalizing same-sex marriage in that state as analyzed through the anti-miscegenation precedent under the California State Constitution.

This is, of course, where the evil grin begins and just keeps on going. In the first pass, if left undisturbed, this decision strongly supports the notion of "equality before the law", a notion that is near and dear to my heart. That, however, is mainly a personal philosophical preference. It gets better.

California has a substantial budget deficit. California has no residency requirement for marriages. Can you say *huge* marriage tourism revenues? Even during Newsome's brief marriage adventure in San Francisco, there was some pretty impressive travel going on. And that was only on the *hope* of lawful marriage - I'm thinking folks in the travel and hospitality industries are doing a major happy dance about now.

A benefit about which I have distinctly mixed feelings, California already had an initiative already submitted with over 1.1 million signatures (currently under review, threshold is 700k or so signatures) to modify their constitution to limit marriage to male/female unions. The same voters that'd support this tripe, however regrettably, are also likely anti-Clobama (that second part is a win) and likely to vote for McCain. Don't know if it's enough to put California in play, but...

Continuing on, the decision kicks over Pandora's box rather tidily. It's too big to ignore, and without any residency limits on it...anyone can fly in and marry, return home, and file suit when their home state fails to recognize their lawfully performed marriage under Article IV, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution (the Full Faith & Credit Clause) and Loving v. Virginia (the end of anti-miscegenation laws in the U.S.) which, in turn may have intriguing effects on state DOMA acts.

I'm intrigued by how "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" will interact with a service member with a same-sex spouse. I'm interested in how, if that service member loses his/her life while in the service, how survivors benefits for the same-sex spouse and their children (adopted, preceding marriages, etc) would play out...

Moving on to immigration, let us assume I fly to Germany or Thailand, meet the man of my dreams...and he and I fly to California and marry. How does that affect his immigration status?

The box is open, and a lovely box it is. Will we see continuing efforts to shore up bigotry? Or are we, as a nation, ready to admit that unions between competent and consenting adults should be treated equally before the law?

Time will tell.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Responding to a post on Concealed Carry

Recently an e-mail appeal went out to read and respond to a local newspaper sponsored blog with an article on Concealed Carry. Find below my response.

Simply having a concealed carry license isn't any guarantee that one is carrying at a given moment.

Example: Tacoma Mall posts a restriction on concealed carry (most local malls in Western Washington include this in their policies).

Given that posted private restriction, as a CPL holder I can either take my business else where, leave my firearm in a car where it can be stolen as Seattle Police Chief Kerlikowske's was, or risk a trespass violation and hope that my preferred form of concealed is up to the task.

To continue with our example, let us assume I have violated the private restriction and successfully carried a pistol that has remained properly concealed and suddenly a very bad person pops up out of the mall decor and starts shooting the place up.

I don't have magical powers or a magic wand, so there is no guarantee I'll even be at the same end of the mall. I'm not a superhero or a cop, so my first responsibility is to get me and mine out of a newly dangerous place with a minimum of fuss and bother - not to abandon them and rush off to play superman.

But to push the example yet further, let us assume our "very bad person" is 25 feet in front of me and dressed in dayglo orange for easy target acquisition, and yet farther, that there is no reasonable means of escape that does not expose me or those around me to incoming fire.

I still don't have some kind of magic paper descending from the heavens telling me "do as you will, for your cause is just and noble, and your strength and accuracy are as ten for your heart is pure."

At this point (aka, "it's all gone bad, very bad") I still need to at least attempt to maintain cover (for I am not bulletproof), extract my pistol from wherever it might be tucked away, identify our dayglo-orange clad very bad person, verify that there are not innocent bystanders in my line of fire or beyond our very bad person (who might then soak up over-penetrating projectiles) and then finally, if all the elements align, try and stop the very bad person from doing very bad things without myself or others getting unnecessarily injured.

Throw in that the pistol I might be carrying on a given day may be chosen more for discretion and deep concealment than long range accuracy and I may still decline participation unless I come under direct fire (see: "oh crud, nothing to lose") or the very bad person is unusually cooperative.

In other words, having a CPL doesn't turn one into a cop or grant one permission to hold some kind of showdown. It doesn't burden you with some kind of cursed responsibility to do those things either.

Finally, let us assume that all the elements align - our very bad dayglo orange clad person has clearly identified themselves as very bad indeed, wounded or killed several, seems to be continuing their antisocial plan, and steps in front of the potted plant I'm hiding behind - and I neutralize him.

What do I get to look forward to? A minimum of a night in jail , even if I have a writ from God himself saying "He did the right thing, leave him alone", a chance to spend a big bunch of money on an attorney to deal with the immediate matter at hand. Then, assuming local prosecutor accepts this mythical writ from the divine, I get to deal with the very bad persons friends and family - all moaning and crying that VBP was just misunderstood and that it was evil and cruel to shoot him, and there must of been some kinder/gentler way.

At which point my life gets really interesting, as the opportunity arises (depending on inclination) for VBP's family to sue for wrongful death (the attorneys bills are nearly as ruinous for the innocent as the guilty), and/or VBP's best buddies feeling he was dreadfully misunderstood - decide that it's time to correct my viewpoint by rather direct means.

In short, a prudent CPL holder does not go "woohoo! Chance to play hero!" when faced with a violent nutcase of one sort or another and a lack of other options - the initial response is more likely "aw, #$^%^, no other way out of this, is there?"

I made my decisions some time ago - aside from a brief stint in CA, I've held a CPL for about 20 years now, view resorting to force as a last desperate effort (not unlike fighting a house fire with a fire extinguisher - better than nothing, but a bad situation no matter what), and will be quite happy should I go to my grave not having perforated anything more controversial than innocent pieces of paper.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Book Reccomendations

The recent release of "Cruel Zinc Melodies" as the latest volume of Glen Cook's series (Sweet Silver Blues, Bitter Gold Hearts, Cold Copper Tears, Old Tin Sorrows, Dread Brass Shadows, Red Iron Nights, Deadly Quicksilver Lies, Petty Pewter Gods, Faded Steel Heat, Angry Lead Skies, Whispering Nickel Idols) is nothing less than a cause for celebration in this cynic's household. Think in terms of Phillip Marlowe transplanted to a post-WWII version of Tolkien with a distinct noire flavor combined with a heaping helping of satire and more than a few insights into the human condition for spice.

Private Investigator (and veteran of the Cantard Wars) Garrett investigates the good, the bad, and the ugly with a medley of friends and associates washed up on the grayer beaches of life. Dragons, godlings, necromancers, and gnolls (the offspring of a troll and a gnome) keep Garrett's life interesting, when he's not chasing the ladies.

A good read, each and every one of them.

GOP: What I don't like about you...

GOP Gentlebeings:

Where is your vision? Your inspiration? Did it pass with the Gipper, going on to the great beyond?

We still believe in small government, with as much responsibility and authority as possible dispersed to the states and the people - what happened to you?

We still believe in privacy - not necessarily that strange critter allegedly found in a mysterious penumbra (though many of us believe we increasingly need a constitutional amendment setting further limits on government intrusion into our lives), but rather requiring warrants (rather than nationally security letters) before searches and seizures, and similar little details.

While we're on the topic, what about protecting our privacy? To our view, an employer buys 8 or so hours a day from us - the other 16 are none of their business, barring felonious badness - we could use a little support on that notion...

Freedom of speech and of the press are important to us - wtf is this Patriot Act crap? Speaking of, we elected you with a mandate to roll back a lot of the anti-gun silliness foisted on us by the hoplophobic democrats - umm...guys? gals? Why are we having to slog through the courts to get it done with damn little support from y'all?

We support our troops, and we support not crapping them around. Enough with manipulating a war for political gain - let the Pentagon do its' job, and our troops do their job, and if you must - close your eyes and hold your collective noses while our troops stomp the thugs and bigots of the various warring factions in Iraq flat. Our boys and girls do good work when you take the blinders and handcuffs off, really. And then be ready for an occupation on the epic scale of post-WWII Germany and batten down the hatches since Iran seems a good bet to volunteer for "next" on the hit parade.

Quit crapping around. Get the job done. Or we'll be stuck doing half-assed pseudo-vietnams screwed up by political considerations till hell freezes over.

Speaking of foreign affairs, why aren't relief workers and supplies dropping from the skies over Burma? Methinks, with 63,000+ dead and plague conditions festering, that the Burmese junta has forfeited all right to have folks play nice with them.

If looked at in cynical political terms airdrops of relief supplies, relief workers, and troops to protect the above ...could well let the GOP seize the high ground for once.

There's more, but that's as much of a rant as I have available at this point...

Saturday, May 10, 2008

On Force

I'm not usually a fan of foreign adventurism - life is usually sufficiently fouled up that sending our troops into harms way abroad is seldom required to relieve the tedium.

I did, however, support the invasion of Afghanistan, though it was a substantially less vigorous remonstration than I would have chosen. When a group or nation chooses to attack the United States, particularly and especially when civilians are targeted on our home soil, I tend to favor a grimly vindictive response of sufficient vigor to ensure that two or three generations down the road anyone bringing up the suggestion of reprising such things be spontaneously strangled by their co-conspirators.

I was less enthused about Iraq, though I regarded Hussein as a pustulent boil upon the buttocks of humanity. The tipping point, for me, was the notion of Saddam and his merry band of homicidal goons possessed of WMD's and an utter absence of morals. I remain of the view that our military did an exemplary job in the invasion, and has continued to do so to the extent they are permitted in the subsequent occupation.

I observe, however, that our political leadership of both the left and the right seem to have forgotten the lessons of Vietnam and by all appearances are micro-managing the war for political gain rather than pursuing victory and stabilization...and subsequently making things far worse for our troops and for the Iraqi people than they actually need to be.

Now we happen upon the Burmese Junta and the torment of the Burmese people - were we as a nation stretched less thin, I'd favor a polite inquiry of "Would you prefer your aid delivered with or without bombing of everything looking vaguely governmental?" of the Burmese Dictatorship. Since we are stretched sufficiently thin that we might run low on munitions with that approach...may I suggest combat air drops of food and other aid supplies, each package to contain 15-20 Liberator style pistols?

It couldn't happen to a more deserving bunch of tyrants. There's a special place in hell for those who obstruct aid to disaster victims for political gain and simultaneously create epidemic generating conditions.

Celebrating Satire

Sadly, one of the great minds of satire seldom remembered for little more than his post Vatican II "Vatican Rag", Tom Lehrer's ouvre extends o'er far broader horizons and even in these diminished times offers the occasional chuckle or mad giggle with nuggets of satire-laden cynicism sprinkled throughout.

I give you...."The Old Dope Peddler" this week...

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Rent Control

Over on the Pink Pistols SF list the darnedest thing, rent control, came up. Find below my responses:

Starchild makes a point on which I must concur - rent control is, sadly or otherwise, a "feel-good" concept that attempts to defy the laws of supply and demand and actually reduces the rental stock in a given market, often creates an artificial and illicit market in sublets (at substantially higher prices and very tidy profits for the holder of the original lease), and promotes misery in the general populace.

Thus, even though Proposition 98 only prohibits rent control in new tenancies and would do substantially more good were it to abolish rent control entirely, its more limited provisions would not threaten any person currently in a rent-controlled space. Instead, as property owners and developers become confident they are safe from undue regulatory interference requiring them to offer their propert(ies) at a loss, rental availability will likely increase (with new stock coming
into the market ranging from grandma's spare bedroom to 30 story residential towers) and in turn drive down prices by expanding supply. Not least among these new entrants to the rental markets will be units withdrawn entirely, using methods of greater or lesser creativity, from the market during the period of rent regulation.

As a result, rentals will likely cost somewhat more as they achieve market rate but their increased number will limit the extent of that increase.

As a former Californian, I can only view the passage of Proposition 98 with anticipation and pleasure and hope that it is the only the first step in a growing realization by Californian voters that regulation is the last and worst solution to most problems, to be employed in only the very most desperate of circumstances.

Regrettably rent control is to rents what a sledgehammer with a dry-rotted handle is to tools. Looks good, feels good, but one heck of a surprise when you deliver that mighty blow.

Pt II in response to:

"Rent control has been an expensive failure ..." I don't think so. My rent has doubled in the last 5 years - I know dozens of people who have been forced out of San Francisco by rent raises. ANYTHING that keeps at least a hint of control in place is a positive market force. And as for the notion that people will stop offering places for rent if there are limits - again, totally unreasonable. They will still make a profit, just not such an exorbitant one.

Individual rents fail to measure the market. For the individual that's "already in", rent control can be really great either directly or indirectly a really great thing with a rent way below market rate after a few years and the ability (with greater or lesser legality, depending on the local scheme and landlord alertness) to sublet (re-rent) their rent controlled unit to third parties at seriously inflated prices to folks desperate to live "in the area". For individuals "not in" and for landlords, the situation is substantially less great.

Landlords don't own some static "goldmine of obscene profits" when they buy a building - they have substantial costs, which are *not* regulated and typically increase (with inflation) each year. Beyond the simple mortgage (while eventually paid off, with what a building goes for, it's neither small nor short term normally), a landlord has maintenance (both normal usage and tenant foolishness..."you mean I can't hang a weight rack from the rafters?"), insurance, management costs, upkeep/cleaning, power, water, and utilities to pay for with rent revenues. When faced with rising costs and the occasional roofing adventure, and little or no prospect of recouping those costs - staying in the market (or entering the market) becomes a much less attractive activity...and if one is sufficiently creative, one can always work the system to depart the market - and thus available rental stock diminishes or grows far more slowly than demand and we return to folks being forced out of an area, but by unavailability rather than price.

Thus, low and middle income renters are driven out of the market. Rental units are no longer being built and may actually be removed from the market, demand continues to expand, but only condo's (not affordable by the average person) are going in. If you can just sell the unit as a condo, as opposed to putting up with all the expense and headaches of a marginal rental, doesn't it make more sense to sell?

The numbers for residential rental units are not nearly as splendid as one might suppose, and as a result, it takes much less to create a disincentive to offer rentals than one might think. I only glossed over some of the more common, non-building specific expenses above - depending on the structure/location/tenants, all sorts of other expensive adventure is possible.

And that is my final word on the subject. Price Controls generally, and rent control specifically, are seductive temptresses leading only to results almost precisely counter to their goals later on as whether its' rent or beans, once delivery cost begins to approach or exceed the investors point of return that very same investor or group thereof will be motivated to dump the investment and spend their money elsewhere.

The Gay Bar I want to visit...

Ages ago, down in Tacoma, was the 733 - it was run down, beat up, and in a rough neighborhood - but it was a two story affair near Ft. Lewis and McChord AFB which always ensured a house full of single and interested young men seeking "comfort" and beverages.

Even beat up, it was a nice place...in its' heyday (before my time) I'm thinking it was likely pretty darned nice. First floor was the main bar, a piano lounge sort of thing, with a nice restaurant attached (roast duck was incredible...) - and unusually enough, you could actually hear folks at your table speaking without their being drowned out by dance music. The second floor had coat check, a second bar station, and a great thumping big dance floor.

If you were single, you'd go out and have a beverage or two, check your coat, go upstairs...and see what kind of trouble you could get into. Then you and proposed trouble could meander back to the main bar, confirm plans, and meander off to other locations for whatever mysterious reason might strike you.

I haven't seen a bar like that in years, certainly not in the NW. But with all this progress we're supposed to have made, I want one back...and not a shabby run-down reminder of yesteryear either! I want the food, the dance, the conversational area....and decent decor. Surely stereotypes must be good for SOMETHING....

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Serious Product Warning

Over at PawPawsHouse in the course of a much-deserved literary beat-down of Paul Helmke (to whom I refuse to link), he links to an interesting string over at AR15.com.

According to the post and responses there, S&W's new "lawyer lock" has an exciting new feature - a lawyer-lock-induced spontaneous lockup of the pistol into non-firing mode. Additional links at Smith Forums, Michael Bane, and I suspect at other locations.

Now, this looks to have been around as a known issue for a little bit, but it's one I'd not heard of before, so with some qualifiers, I'll repeat the warning.

Apparently lock-up issues have been experienced on S&W firearms produced with the integral lock-up systems since at least '04. Should this occur in a self-defense or law enforcement environment, this could be a *very bad thing*. Be warned - I, for one, will not buy a S&W of post-lock production hearing this...and it looks like I should think about unloading my Bersa Thunder .45 in favor of something w/o an integral locking system in place.

I'm not prepared to bet my life on a firearm with foolish and unnecessary points of failure, something I should have considered before my last series of trade-ins. (Yes, I got the Bersa and a Keltech P3AT - and am having second thoughts now about the Bersa.)


1) I am not a gunsmith nor a mechanical engineer.
2) I have not personally observed a failure of this sort, but given the stakes concerned, choose caution over adventure. The rumor, combined with the reality that each additional system added to a device creates one or more additional opportunities for total device failure, makes a new production S&W in my eyes an excessively adventuresome choice.

The Gun Shop I want to visit...

Another blog kicked this string up in my mind, and it seems that until I burble it forth, I shall be accursed to have it rattle about - what would a gun shop I enjoyed look like?

The first gun shop I ever went to, a place where the shit was shot and there was a saddlery upstairs, looms large in this image - I want the counters full of intriguing hand cannons selected both from the ages and from modern production and the long-gun racks full of new, old, surplus, and custom medium and long-range goodness, but I want more.

I'm looking for a place where not only is the counter staff friendly and helpful to most everyone that comes through the door (critters are an exception), but the gunsmiths know their stuff, and both can get around in teaching newbies and oldsters a few tricks when it comes to safe gun-handling, re-loading, archery, concealment (and holster selection), and suggestions of attire that might actually *work* with a newbies body type when starting out on the whole concealed carry thing.

As I'm envisioning this, down at the far end a couple of leather couches and easy chairs circle a potbelly stove or fireplace, and an array of chess and checker sets - next to a espresso bar, serving a good drip coffee for those of us as have sworn off the hard stuff (no more quad mocha's, thanks) and some nibblements of varying sorts (and hot soups during the winter) - both in the service of driving another stream of revenue, and promoting fellowship that generates a less direct stream of revenue but pays for itself in goodwill.

While I'm dreaming, I'm thinking that (like another shop that comes to mind) a 30' rental counter and a 12-lane range would finish out the place nicely.

Show up, bullshit a bit over the new stock, buy some ammo or something, spend some quality range time, then clean up, and socialize with other gun-folks over a bowl of chili and an appropriate beverage...

Hrm. And in Seattle...which has, as far as I know, one dedicated gunshop in city limits that'd require the warping of space and time to shoehorn in all the above happy gun goodness.

Sunday, May 4, 2008


Things not to do (which, for the good of the species, I probably oughtn't to list, as it might obstruct the self-removal of the terminally foolish):

When it comes to munitions, even small arms munitions, THINK TWO OR THREE TIMES before dinking around with old ammunition or ammunition of uncertain provenance. Then think yet again.

If you stumble across old artillery rounds whether from the Civil War or WWI or any previous or subsequent conflict, enough of those goodies are still live that there exists a fair chance that you (and depending on munitions yield and local populations) and numbers of those about you may get suddenly dead.

While some might argue that mucking about with ammunition, particularly that of the heavy ordnance variety, is sufficiently foolish that the person doing the mucking about should be removed from the gene pool before they reproduce.... that may be a bit harsh, and fails to take into account that such persons, in removing themselves, can potentially remove unwitting innocents in their vicinity (the old war gas, case shot, and other more intriguing loadings spring to mind).

The problem is much worse in Europe and Asia, but between Civil War goodies and long inactive and forgotten ranges from other conflicts, we have plenty much fun opportunity right here at home.

In short...stumble across anything that looks oddly grenade-like or like it might have made a high velocity departure from anything bigger than a .50BMG then, just perhaps, it may be time to call the experts. Just perhaps.


Saturday, May 3, 2008

How Someone Stumbled into A Blog

For long time readers and sundry others, a wee tale - or how did this blog happen.

I like writing. For a time I edited a magazine in Southern California. I like guns. I once helped found a gay gun group. I have a low evil sense of humor and a well-developed sense of schadenfreude. For my sins, I've helped organize a couple of Pride Parades. I'm originally and again from Seattle. I was invited some years ago by a since-passed gay libertarian and firearms enthusiast onto the Houston Activist Network email list, and from time to time made comments disrupting the leftist PC assumptions (le sigh).

I was googling about and stumbled onto either TFL or THR, and thence eventually to the tales of LawDog - and then to his blog. After giggling and snarfling my way through from beginning to end, I started reading the linked blogs...in some cases enjoying, in others being returned to helpless giggling and snarfling into my keyboard.

Lightning struck, the aforementioned elements combined, and I wanted myself a blog of my very own...woohoo!

Olympics: Three Strikes

Borrowed from Smallest Minority

1) Oppressive Dictatorship w/ a thing for visitor surveillance.
2) Barbaric repression of Tibet.
3) Outbreak of Enterovirus-71; as of Thursday the Chinese government ADMITS to 3,321 cases, with 22 deaths, 978 people hospitalized, with 58 in serious or critical condition. (If SARS is any indicator of China's PR policy, 10 is a minimal multiplier, if I read it right).

(I'm not sure it's still fair to count Tienanmen....but I do)

Ummm. Time to look for a new site for the Olympics yet?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

America's Safety Catch

From the files of the Random Nuclear Strikes we have a BBC article on firearms in the U.S. and the delightfully peaceful feeling of our cities and countryside.

Read. Enjoy. And try not to giggle too hard.

Hey! Britain! How's that victim disarmament thing working for ya?