Tuesday, December 24, 2013

On the Gay Thing

This isn't the usual post. I usually post about guns, cooking and various things that either thrill or peeve me - with the exception of the last, those are fun to write about and that last exception is good for me as it lets me vent, lowering my blood pressure.

This one? This is more a post about using small words for the hard of thinking.

When did you sit down and decide to be heterosexual? MMmmm...you can't remember?

If you can, you're one of those rare "bi" critters and can take this entire post and file it under "mmm, never mind."

But for most folks, gay or straight, there is about as much choice in the matter as there is about how tall we are, our natural eye or hair color, or whether we need glasses. It's neither good nor bad, it's simply the hand that we're dealt. For our merely human purposes, it really doesn't matter whether you subscribe to the notion of an uncaring universe filled with randomness or a more personal divine influence on such matters - in either case, or the many possibilities between - you get the hand you're dealt, and that is the hand you get to play as your life unfolds.

You have choices in how you're going to respond to this hand you've been dealt. You can go pout in the corner, jump up and down and cry about how unfair it all is, try and pretend it just isn't so (though this has a number of particularly ugly complications), do the last with bells on and try and *prove* it just isn't so (which usually involves doing things that allegedly "can't be done by gay folks", whether trying to become a SEAL or taking up gay-bashing as a hobby - or you can take a deep breath, and with greater or lesser drama, simply accept that you're a member of the LGBT community and get on with life.

In short, it's not a choice. It's not a lifestyle. A lifestyle is something like deciding you're going to join the Hells Angels, Bandidos, Society of Creative Anachronism or a Civil War Re-enactors group. You might take up Buddhism or Catholicism, or even become a Pastafarian. All of those are, to a greater or lesser extent, lifestyles.

Being a blonde or a brunette isn't a lifestyle. Neither is being short or tall, nor white/black/asian/etc. You might get some cultural baggage for falling into one of those groups, but that doesn't make any of them lifestyles. Same thing is true of being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered.

What makes a lifestyle a "lifestyle" is that at some point you had a choice in the matter. LGBT folk have no more choice in the matter than hetero folks, or any of these other groups I mention. You either are or you aren't, and all you get is to decide how to react to whatever you are.

If we postulate God doesn't have a particularly sadistic and slapstick sense of humor, we're left with the notion that at least LGBT folks (and the list can get longer awfully quick) are some kind of horrible divine error OR that LGBT folks are here for some divine purpose beyond our comprehension.

At least in the faith I grew up in, fundamental precepts include that God doesn't make mistakes (kind of shooting down an entire range of logical possibility), that God is omnipotent (ruling out accident) and loving (ruling out "sadistic bastard with a lowbrow sense of humor"). This leaves us with God putting LGBT folks here for an as yet unknown divine reason.

With this in mind, we are not either doomed or blessed to any greater extent than the average hetero kid with the same general range of sins, foibles and virtues.

Like a lot of other groups with the misfortune of being different (i.e., "goat du jour") the LGBT community has gotten to put up with generous heaping helpings of bonus bulls**t over the years. Bashings, discriminatory laws, social opprobrium (look it up!), and generally an extra rough road.

Difference makes demonization (the politicians friend "THEY ARE DIFFERENT! AND SCARY! YOU NEED TO GIVE US POWER/MONEY/ADORATION TO PROTECT YOU FROM THEM! ESPECIALLY YOUR CHILDREN & WIMMINS!") a fair amount easier. It's HARDER to be scared of Joe Dungaree next door that looks just like you, believes the same thing, as far as you can tell does the same variety of things with his life, etc.

So those with detectable differences are easy targets for these twits to use in their quest for power - the only thing that changes is who gets to be the goat on a particular day.

And this is where Robertson's comments got folks in the LGBT community so riled up - the familiarity of the tone. An awful lot of the crud we've put up with over the years can be tracked right back to some holy type preaching to a crowd of knuckle-draggers a theme of "hate the sin, love the sinner" - knuckle-draggers that most frequently are too dim to understand the "love the sinner" bit and rush out to either "punish" the sinner (see assault/rape/murder or (possibly even more vile) to pummel the sinner into "virtue" for the "sinners own good."

I suspect, by now, all but the hardest of thinking might - just maybe - pick up now on why many in the LGBT community got a tad fired up.

I stick with my original theme ("Spankings for All!") in this matter, but will admit that this episode has both left me a bit more concerned about how much progress towards simple safety we've made based on some of the comments out there, and glad that I can carry tools to either ward off such nimrods or at least ensure that I have a decent sized honor guard.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A whole new kind of preemption....

A few thoughts - for those states that allow voters to modify their constitution, the below "amendment by initiative" might not only be fun, but constructive...an entire new level of preemption, with fangs even sharper than those of the Florida statute.
  1. Neither the legislature nor the people of < State > nor any political subdivision or agency of the State of < State > shall have any authority to regulate or enact any legislation regarding the possession, purchase, sale, method of storage or carry, or design or mechanism of function of any knife, dirk, dagger, sword, machete, martial arts weapon, nun-chuks, club, baton or firearm. Any statute or ordinance in force at the time of passage of this amendment shall be immediately null and void, and no person shall be prosecuted or suffer any liability from violating such ordinances or statutes.
  2. Neither the legislature nor the people of < State>  nor any political subdivision or agency of the State of < State>  shall have the authority to either mandate or forbid any sort of liability insurance for persons owning, purchasing, possessing, or selling any item described in Section 1.
  3. Nothing in Section One shall be interpreted to deny the Legislature or other bodies from enacting laws barring felons and those adjudicated as insane from the possession of arms. Neither shall the Legislature nor any subordinate elected body be barred from enacting laws that forbid objectively described specific acts of violence, so long as those laws address only the act of violence or injury resulting therefrom and the penalty therefore and not the implements of violence employed.
  4. Any citizen shall have standing to file a complaint of violation of this Article before any court of record in the State of < State> regardless of their county of residence. Should the court sustain a finding that the elected officers or body in question have by regulation or passage of law violated this article, the complainant shall be awarded not less than of ten ounces of gold or the equivalent value in common currency from each person who shall have voted to pass such law or regulation and from each person who shall have made executive approval and each person who shall have acted to enforce such ordinance, statute or regulation. No governmental funds may be utilized in paying such penalties.
  5. The provisions of this amendment supersede any other provisions of this constitution. Should the charter of any city or county be found in conflict with these provisions, such charter shall be null and void in its entirety and the chartered body considered dissolved with its assets sold at public auction and any monies surplus from such sale after payment of obligations distributed equally among such bodies former constituents. Should any provision of this amendment be found invalid or unconstitutional by any court, all remaining sections shall remain in operation.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

MAIG & Moms Demand Attention to merge?

From TTAG, a rumor that MAIG and MDA will merge. I await confirming sources of information.


With confirmation, I will simply point out:

Sock Puppet + Sock Puppet = Sock Puppet.

Re MDA? Astroturf isn't grass roots.

Duck Dynasty, Phil Robertson & Tolerance

Until now, I've been something of a fan of the Duck Dynasty show and its' down home goodness - a family struggling, occasionally to a script, with the issues of daily life and the complications of mixing up wealth, humble origins and a self-proclaimed redneck view on life - all with a dollop of evangelical Christianity very delicately scattered throughout the background.

You can't help but see it when you read the Robertsons family members books - whether Miss Kay, Phil, Uncle Si or Willie is behind the pen a deep and abiding faith resonates from every chapter - a faith that seems to have comforted and strengthened them through good times and bad.

Thus it pains me to read the recent GQ article featuring Phil Robertson and spotlighting his rather...harsh...

“It seems like, to me, a vagina -- as a man -- would be more desirable than a man’s anus," Robertson says in the January issue of the men's magazine. "That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”
 “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”
 “We never, ever judge someone on who’s going to heaven, hell. That’s the Almighty’s job. We just love ’em, give ’em the good news about Jesus—whether they’re homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort ’em out later, you see what I’m saying?”

views on those of us in the LGBT community, comparing us to terrorists and worse.

While balanced by the language in the third quote, the viewpoint is far from comforting to someone who has had friends bashed and has a more than passing familiarity with the history of the LGBT community - and is enough to fire up memories of Fred Phelps and his vile band.

Since the GQ story broke A&E Networks placed Robertson on "indefinite suspension" and many conservative and conservative-christian commenters have decried the action as the response of a "gay mafia," "viewpoint discrimination" and violation of Robertsons right to free speech.

Robertson also made the following public statement after the article impacted the rotary oscillator:

"My mission today is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the Bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that women and men are meant to be together," he said. "However, I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity. We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other."

To those decrying how horribly and unfairly Robertson is being mistreated? Poppycock.

First, to properly violate freedom of speech as state and federal constitutions define it - you need to be a governmental body or agent. There is absolutely no guarantee that employers, printers, broadcasters, critics or the general populace will not find your comments so execrable that they take action to either not hear them or distance themselves from them.

You have a right to say (broadly) what you will without getting sent to jail for it. You do not have the right not to be fired, evicted, harshly criticized, repudiated, ridiculed or generally told to take a flying leap. If the conservative movement is supposed to be the home of logic and fact - fundamental constitutional literacy might be a good first step for those engaging in this particular rant.

An example on the left who also got substantially less than a warm welcome to his comments would be Alec Baldwin - though I find it easier to believe that Robertson, at least, has redeeming virtues.

As far as the whole "gay mafia" accusation - I would suggest that nothing that organized is in play. Instead, over the last forty years or so the LGBT community has shifted viewpoints from "won't you pretty please not kick us in the teeth" as our activist branch to a view better described as "we've had quite enough crap, thank you. You can stop NOW. And by the way - we're not going back."

Next, it's not viewpoint discrimination to speak out when you observe someone busily engaging (for whatever reason) in an attack upon your community.

Now, to move right along to the hyper-ventilating kids over at GLAAD. Let's be very clear. I am not excusing Robertsons comments - at best, they are deeply regrettable and his later statement released by A&E (which, to my ear, sounds distinctly un-Phil-like and a lot more "PR Specialist") does not make them magically go away.

But come on! GLAAD's statement "some of the vilest and most extreme statements uttered against LGBT people in a mainstream publication" seems a little over the top - and if Robertson is ignorant about LGBT folks? Color me unsurprised. Let us consider the mans context before we hyperventilate.

Robertsons comments are deeply regrettable and demonstrate a deep ignorance of folks in the LGBT community and of that area of reality. He is not, however, trying to the best of my knowledge trying to inflict his judgement on the community or enact them into law.

So. A little balance might be called for here.

On the part of A&E, a public repudiation of Robertsons statement would likely have been enough. I tend towards the view that the "indefinite suspension," while well within the rights of A&E (hey, it's THEIR network, after all) might just be a bit over-enthusiastic for a first offense.

Conversely, this is (or was) an opportunity for GLAAD to educate rather than hyperventilate. I cannot say that I consider this their best-considered and wisest response to an incident - I'm actually rather disappointed.

As for Robertson? I continue to believe he is a good man with good intentions -  capable of learning, but with blind spots, occasional misinformation, and like all of us - occasionally, just plain wrong.

What I've seen of him (admittedly in an artificial environment of the series and various PR appearances) he seems a rough-hewn and painfully honest sort - and in this case, suffering from a bad case of diplomacy fail.

I, not surprisingly, believe him in error in his comments and that those comments were needlessly hurtful. On the other hand, I'm not cheer-leading for a witch-hunt or looking for tar and feathers.

He's been publicly spanked. Let's move on.

Monday, November 25, 2013

A few thoughts on the Knock Out Game

The Knock-Out Game hits rather close to home, dead center in the "why GC carries a gun" bullseye. This sort of thing tends to defeat my preferred safety strategy of "be where the trouble isn't" and my fall-back of "run away, run away" has long since been defeated by health issues. It harks back to the bad old days when gay bashing was more common and when street violence was more of a realitya
and less of a rarity.

Here in Washington, rushing up to someone (in my lay opinion) and trying to knock them down with a single blow constitutes Assault in the 3rd Degree (good for up to 5 years, a Class C felony) and places the victim in reasonable fear for their lives (again, my lay opinion).

Oddly enough, these things matter. It happens they trigger several other intriguing statutes addressing the use of force and justifiable homicide under the Revised Code of Washington.

For those among us that are not legal wonks or hobbyists, I'll simplify. You play the knock-out game with the 400,000+ concealed carry licensees (and a fair number of others with in  other exciting tools and skill sets) in Washington, it may turn out far differently than you planned on - up to and including you getting a one-time be-all end-all opportunity to go home in a box or take up permanent residence in a wheelchair or hospital bed.

Those folks you see as victims, or safe targets? May not be...and if you do knock them down, may not get back up in a mood to play nice. And if you don't knock them down, they may not ask a lot of questions before doing something dreadfully final about you - and any of your buddies you brought along for the ride.

And in all likelihood, they not only won't go to jail (assuming they abide by the rules and don't get all over-enthusiastic) - they'll get public support AND if they are prosecuted and found innocent, the state will get to pay for their attorneys.

So yes, that fat old dude might just shoot your ass. Or so might that petite young lady, flaming nelly queen, or.... You'll never know till you start growing new holes in your person.

Think about it. Maybe you might want to take up another game, like chess.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Breakfast Casserole

 Ok. I've puttered around with this recipe a bit in my break from Fanny Farmer. Made up different versions, and will still play with it more. HOWEVER, it is time to share.

For two diners of moderate appetite, it's a two-day thing - enough left-overs for a second meal. I probably like the breakfast sausage version best, but I think I'll turn it up by using Jimmy Deans hot breakfast sausage option. We'll see.

In the meantime, make this at home and enjoy!
Source: Paula Deen (Modified)

Servings: 8 to 10 servings
Prep Time: 20 min, inactive: 10 min
Cook Time: 50 min
Difficulty: Easy.

1 pound ground maple pork sausage
6 slices soft hearty bread
One 8-ounce package shredded triple Cheddar cheese
8 large eggs
2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon seasoned pepper 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 13- by 9-inch baking pan (ceramic for the win).
In a large skillet, cook the sausage over medium heat, stirring frequently, until browned and crumbly, about 10 minutes; set aside and drain well on paper towels.
Remove and discard the bread crusts. Cut the slices in half, and arrange in a single layer in the prepared baking dish, cutting pieces to fit as necessary to cover the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle first with the sausage and then the cheese.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, mustard, seasoned salt and pepper; carefully pour the mixture over the cheese.
Bake casserole until set and golden, about 40 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Notes: Breakfast sausage substitutes well, that said choose a spice level that suits your taste - chorizo, sadly, not so much. The maple sausage variant is a bit on the sweet side, but pleasantly different.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Battle Rifle Co AR-15 pattern rifle

I'm still early in my addiction to the AR pattern - I only own one, and while I lust after others, so far finance has prevented me from leaping. Further, I've never worked in a gun shop nor been certified as an armorer - and no, I didn't build out my AR all on my own either - so my perspective is that of an end user. I can just about get as far as "Is gun. Bang comes out THAT end." before I begin to run a bit thin on expertise.

With all that in mind, I agreed to do a T&E at Blogorado (and ask friends to do the same) on a rifle provided by the Battle Rifle company out of Seabrook, TX. A father and son operation, Battle Rifle is one of the growing number of small and hopefully growing shops cranking out AR pattern rifles in recent years. I had the pleasure of speaking with founder Chris Kurzadkowski in setting this up, and of meeting him while I was down in Houston on business - you couldn't ask for a friendlier variant on "Texas Gentleman" and he seems honestly dedicated to the notion of customer service and quality product.

In the T&E session I was involved in we didn't get the chance to test out the customer service end - because the gun just kept chunking away. I didn't experience (nor am I aware of anyone else experiencing) any sort of malfunction.

It should be noted that 35mph cross winds will affect the accuracy of any firearm, with the lighter the projectile the greater the influence. Shooting .223 with 55 to 70 grain projectiles under such conditions left me less able to quantify "how accurate is this rifle" and more able to discover "under cruddy conditions, what will this rifle do?"

Turns out, to my experience, that it'll do the job. I was running iron sights, but the installed choice of iron sights (MagPul) worked pretty well even in adverse conditions. Rifle consistently fed, barring one operator error induced failure to cycle (do not over stuff your magazines, kids...). I was able to reach out to, when the wind dropped for a moment, around 200 yards without difficulty and with a minimum of skill.

Overall, if you're looking for an AR pattern rifle in .223 I'd urge you to seriously consider the Battle Rifle Company. At my level of expertise it seemed a good solid AR pattern that would fit that need.


Posts I wish I'd Written

Now and again you run across a post that you wish you'd written (sometimes an entire blog may fall under "Damn. I wish I could write like that").

This morning I ran across one of those posts.

Scribbler, of Scribblers Scrawls knocked out an *excellent* article pointing out to the gun community that eating our own might be.... counterproductive.

Go. Read. Now.

A few thoughts for dog owners...

I like dogs. Friendly dogs are really neat. However...

If I come into your business and your medium to large dog gives every indication that it's about to come flinging over the top of a 4' counter to savage me...it may not go well for Fido.

I won't run - both because at several levels I can't, at least not well enough to outrun any but the most feeble of dogs - but I will drop into a defensive stance as I reach for some tools of serious social interaction.

As it happens, had this occur over lunch today - stopped in at a vendor to talk about an order, and dobie-lab mix went simply ape that someone dared to enter their owners store. Can't say I was much amused.

Doggie-parents, if you are taking your "big enough to do real damage" doggie into public spaces...for the good of your dog, make sure they aren't going to put folks at reasonable fear of injury. We may not respond well.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Magic Elixer: Garlic Chicken Soup of Doom

Starting to get the annual requests for the Magic Head'n'Chest Elixer. Remember, you don't HAVE to be sick to mix up a batch...

Garlic Chicken Soup of Doom

2 Large Cans Campbells Condensed Chicken Noodle Soup*
1 lb Boneless Chicken Breasts, cubed to ½” to ¼”
1 8 oz. Can peas
1 8 oz. Can carrots
1 8 oz. Can sliced potatoes
1 8 oz Can Kidney Beans
2½ c. Chopped Garlic
6 tbsp Oregano
6 tbsp Basil
Chili Powder
Tabasco Sauce
Olive Oil

Coat the bottom of a large fry pan with olive oil. Add 3 tbsp of chopped garlic, 2 tbsp Oregano and Basil, and sauté over low heat until garlic shows just a hint of brown, stirring occasionally. Add chopped chicken breasts, stir vigorously until intermingled thoroughly with spices, then continue to stir occasionally until the chicken is cooked white all through.

Meanwhile, drain all vegetables and place in large crock pot (slow cooker) with Campbell’s Chicken Noodle soup. Add water to within 2" of top of pot. Throw in a couple of handfuls of pasta to thicken, if desired. Add remaining garlic and spices at this time, put crock pot on high setting. 

When chicken is sautéed white all through, dump entire fry pan contents into crock pot, stirring in. Simmer for at least one hour.

Returning, take test sip. Add garlic until the soup begins to taste salty. Then add another tablespoon. Now, add chili powder and Tabasco GENTLY, a bit at a time, until when you take a test sip it goes down smoothly…but you feel a distinct heated bite at the back of your throat after imbibing. (Note, if you over do, just let the soup boil down a bit, add some more water and pasta, let that boil down – repeat as needed…and all will be well).

*substitute any preferred chicken stock, and if substituting fresh vegetables rather than canned, be sure to increase cook time for proper spice saturation.

The High Point 9mm Carbine

HiPoint 9mm Carbine as tested
First, I would at absolute most describe myself as a middling experienced shooter with a whole bunch left to learn - when I'm sitting around with folks like Tam, AD, Lawdog and sundry others I have long since figured out it's my job to sit quietly and ask questions from time to time when talking about guns. I tend to learn more that way.

So, I'm not reviewing the HiPoint from the point of view of an awe-inspiring iconic expert. I'm more at the "Joe Average" level and readily acknowledge that there are finer points that I'll miss and defer to those wiser than I.

That said, despite all the bad press HiPoint has gotten over the year, the 9mm Carbine is just silly fun (and I'm left wanting to get my hands on the .45 acp version). While my supply of ammunition was limited by budget and local availability, the shooting I did was consistently accurate and the firearm dead reliable.

At $250 +/- the HiPoint 9mm carbine is a good choice for a home defense firearm for low income households, varminting out to maybe a 100 yards, and with a bit of forethought filling the pot for those same income challenged households. Beyond that, it's a dandy rifle for steel (good solid hits to the gongs) and makes for a good afternoon on the range.

It may not be entirely sensible given that my current collection, but I want one for my gun safe.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Fudge Walnut Bars

Fudge Walnut Bars
1 cup Butter
1 (12 ounce) package semi-sweet chocolate pieces
2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
2 eggs
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ teaspoon salt
2 ½ cups sifted flour
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon salt

3 cups quick cooking rolled oats

Cream together 1 cup of butter and sugar in bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and 2 teaspoons of vanilla. 

Sift together flour, baking soda and 1 teaspoon salt. Add with oats to creamed mixture; mix well. 

Combine chocolate pieces, condensed milk, 2 tablespoons butter, and ½ teaspoon of salt in a double boiler top.  Place over hot water; stir until melted. Remove from heat. Add walnuts and 2 teaspoons of vanilla. 

Spread 2/3 of dough in buttered 15 ½ x 10 ½ x 1 jelly roll pan. Cover with fudge filling. Dot with remaining dough, swirling over filling.

Bake in 350 F oven for 25 minutes or until done. Cool in pan on rack. Cut in 2 x 1 bars, makes 72.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Corn Meal Gems (Fanny Farmer - 1896)

Flavor: Yummy, a bit on the sweet side. Using Jiffy corn bread mix as a comparison, these are both sweeter in flavor and finer grained. You might say the corn is more of a hint than a hammer, flavor-wise.

Difficulty: Follow the directions. Yet again, easy and reasonably fast.

How close did I stick to the original?: Dead-on except for using the KitchenAid mixer. The latest sifter (more on the new goodness later).  Mild re-wording of the recipe for modern/beginning cooks.

Corn Meal Gems

1/2 cup corn meal
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup white flour
3/4 cup Milk
3 tablespoons baking powder
1 Egg
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 tbsp melted butter

Mix and sift dry ingredients; add milk gradually and egg well beaten, and melted butter; bake in hot (375F) oven in buttered gem pans for 30 minutes.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Oh, Emily, No...

Generally I like Emily Millers writing and admire her amazing work in uncovering the fundamental nature of gun control in America and as practiced in D.C. 

However, any writer will have a bad day and go off reservation for a bit. In her article condemning the advocacy of Drag Queens over Disney Princesses as role models for young girls, Miller revealed significant blind spots regarding the history and nature of drag queens while strongly implying ignorance of the difference between drag and transgendered and a distaste for both. 

My response on Facebook somehow vanished, but not before it was saved elsewhere...and is shared below.
I am not sure *either* Drag Queens or Disney Princesses are who I want my nieces imprinting on at this late date - Amelia Earhart, yourself, Annie Oakley, Condoleeza Rice, Harriet Tubbs and others impress me far more as appropriate role models."

But if I am restricted to those two choices, I will choose Drag Queens every time. Far from sexually confused, every Drag Queen I have met to date has been quite clear on what they want in that arena - but that arena is essentially irrelevant to why I would choose Drag Queens."

Drag Queens and groups thereof have been at the cutting edge of LGBT Civil rights for over 50 years, have raised millions of dollars for AIDS Charities, and in the cases of organizations like the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have worked countless hours to raise money, deliver food and services, sought to alleviate bigotry and hatred, give the community an occasional laugh and more.

Drag Queens and groups thereof have been at the cutting edge of LGBT Civil rights for over 50 years, have raised millions of dollars for AIDS Charities, and in the cases of organizations like the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have worked countless hours to raise money, deliver food and services, sought to alleviate bigotry and hatred and given the community an occasional laugh.

Disney princesses often perpetuate the dangerous notion that women are helpless and safe targets in need of perpetual rescuing - not the lesson I ever want taught to my nieces. The level of victimhood as a lifestyle taught in the public schools is quite bad enough on its own without that kind of help.

I would much rather young girls learn to *think*, question both themselves and society, and have the strength to not only act on their beliefs but to continue questioning those beliefs even as they act.

And if they grow up strong thinkers, leaders, and writers with powerful ethics and beliefs in small government and individual rights - I'll call it a win and not fret too terribly about their attire.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Twelve Thoughts on the current debate.

1) Lest somehow someone missed it, I never liked Starbucks coffee in the first place. If you want to score points with me, bring me Tullies/Cafe Vivace/etc. My issue has never before been political, it's just that to my palate, with the exception of their Keurig line, they appear to have an almost religious need to over-roast their beans, leaving a less than amusing charcoal flavor. They have long been in my "better than nothing" category. That their snacks seemed to go to on some kind of "health kick" and become smaller and less yummy some years ago didn't precisely build my interest in their products.Your mileage may vary - but for me, Tullies for the win. Regarding the Keurig cups, they are sort of like the Egg Sausage McMuffin at McDonalds - the one consumable product exception in a glaring wasteland of mediocrity.

I will miss their unusually tidy restrooms alongside nearly every major highway, but not the self-imposed obligation of buying something to "pay the rent."

2) I began visiting Starbucks again with any frequency to throw them my small amount of business out of gratitude for their now-previous neutrality - despite (1) above. Thus, for that time, my purchasing habits were political.

3) I do carry a gun. Big deal. And if a business politely requests I not bring a gun on their premises, concealed or open, short of being willing to go all activist about it all (and I'm not - I have enough on my plate and just don't have the time or energy) I will honor their request. Part of my decision making process is that I seriously doubt, as big as Starbucks is, that anything the Gun Community does is really going to make them change their mind.

4) In a sense I'm grateful to some small extent that I no longer feel an obligation to drink coffee or buy snacks that make it all the way to "adequate" in my estimation in an attempt to reward minimally good behavior.

5) To the extent I have mentioned boycotts, I have not done so with great force - and largely in the context that if ceasing to purchase goods I'm not especially enthralled by from a vendor setting conditions for said goods purchase that I find unacceptable - then call it a boycott. I don't.

As with a variety of other things, you can't boycott someone that has effectively requested you stop doing business with them, no matter how hard you try. You can jump up and down and shout "BOYCOTT! BOYCOTT! BOYCOTT!" all you want...but if your target has already requested that you just go away...it's not a boycott no matter how much you jump up and down and shout.

6) In general, boycotts are silly and statistically insignificant - to the extent they are effective, IMHO, it is through symbolism rather than actual economic effect. Thus, to the extent I have used the phrase boycott, particularly in light of (5) I expressed myself poorly and further muddied the waters by expressing - for the first time since I started trying to be nice to Starbucks by - my repressed disdain for the majority of their product line flow free.

A better way to express my view, I suspect, would be to rephrase it as "Starbucks is done and has requested that no guns (at all) be brought on their premises. As someone who carries I see no reason, given that I see no gain for the 2A cause or to me personally by doing so, to deny this request in any way. At the same time I recognize that logical consistency requires that barring such a reason (or unlikely as it is, a sudden decision that I stop carrying) that I not frequent Starbucks nor purchase their products (other than, in a moment of desperation, Keurig cups). My palate thanks me (see #1), and logical consistency makes me unhappy less often."

7) I am deeply disappointed with those in the 2nd Amendment Community seemingly so eager to scapegoat the entire Open Carry community and concept for the actions of a few (classically known as "guilt by association" and usually considered as a variant on the ad hominem fallacy) Some of those are folks that I like and deeply respect, which only makes the disappointment sting all the more.

When we scapegoat the entire Open Carry community for the actions of a few imbeciles, we are no better than when our opponents scapegoat the entire 2A community for the actions, no matter how horrific, of a mentally ill or criminal person committing terrible acts with a firearm. We should do better. 

8) Similarly, I am saddened by those in the community falling into the trap known as Fallacy of the Majority  (also argumentum ad populum, or Appeal to Popularity - among other names).Summarized (read the link, highly recommended), this fallacy postulates numerical validation of a theorem - that because a lot of folks believe in some "thing" that it must then be true. This is particularly bothersome in people that you know perfectly well are far too clever to fall into this trap, yet they leap into this logical pit trap gleefully giggling all the way to the intellectual punji sticks. The reality is that belief, regardless of the number of folks holding that belief, does not affect the validity (or lack thereof) of a viewpoint or fact set.

9) I've not seen it named, but I've seen a fair amount of what I'll describe as the Fallacy of Passion in this discussion - the notion that the validity or falsehood of a statement is in any way proven by how loud one shouts, by how passionately one speaks or how enthusiastically one gestures. For good or ill, none of these variants on this fallacy have anything to do with proving or disproving anything - though they may serve to coerce false agreement or silence from the one targeted by such an approach.

10) The broad generalization that "a gun is not and never should be a political tool." I've expounded elsewhere that, like it our not, carry of a firearm is inherently political, and that done properly, open carry is generally beneficial - and that done wrong is a political and cultural disaster for the 2A community. It's hard to realize that "gun owners are evil" is a flawed premise when you never know that you've met any other than passionate political wonks and the occasional hunter.

11) I am deeply grateful for those on the blogs and among the social media that have avoided the fallacies above (and the many many others available). I may not agree on a 1:1 basis, but I enjoy the civility and appreciate the effort made to remain dispassionate.

12) Nothing is to be gained for the 2A community by further association with Starbucks whether protesting, holding FU days, buying a double tall mocha, or in any way failing to observe their request. That bridge has been burned. If it is important to you that you carry and that you maintain secure control of your firearms, in light of the request I see no other polite response other than graciously finding other sources of caffeine and noshes.

Barring serious surprise, I do not expect to comment further on this topic.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Starbucks: And now Commenceth the Fisking

Following the Correia Fisking Protocol, original text is italicized. My comments are in bold and not italicized.

An Open Letter from Howard Schultz, ceo of Starbucks Coffee Company

Dear Fellow Americans,

Few topics in America generate a more polarized and emotional debate than guns. In recent months, Starbucks stores and our partners (employees) who work in our stores have been thrust unwillingly into the middle of this debate. That’s why I am writing today with a respectful request that customers no longer bring firearms into our stores or outdoor seating areas.
Of course, it is only the gunfolk that are addressed.

From the beginning, our vision at Starbucks has been to create a “third place” between home and work where people can come together to enjoy the peace and pleasure of coffee and community. Our values have always centered on building community rather than dividing people, and our stores exist to give every customer a safe and comfortable respite from the concerns of daily life.
And, until this letter, you succeeded in this - profitably providing a public forum for the marketplace of ideas to play out. A more constructive approach would likely have been even more closely nuanced - for instance, simply barring long arms and political signage of any flavor.
We appreciate that there is a highly sensitive balance of rights and responsibilities surrounding America’s gun laws, and we recognize the deep passion for and against the “open carry” laws adopted by many states. (In the United States, “open carry” is the term used for openly carrying a firearm in public.) For years we have listened carefully to input from our customers, partners, community leaders and voices on both sides of this complicated, highly charged issue.
Regrettably, it appears you were more than a bit deaf when listening to the firearms community that went out of its way to support you in light of your simple tolerance.

Our company’s longstanding approach to “open carry” has been to follow local laws: we permit it in states where allowed and we prohibit it in states where these laws don’t exist. We have chosen this approach because we believe our store partners should not be put in the uncomfortable position of requiring customers to disarm or leave our stores. We believe that gun policy should be addressed by government and law enforcement—not by Starbucks and our store partners.
And it is this policy that had earned you the deep support of many gun owners, not as allies or advocates, but for simply treating us as customers of equal value with those of differing views. Many of us took that as a breath of fresh air and sought to reward your behavior by spending money with you - despite the fact that a fair number of those doing so, including myself, felt that you offered an inferior and deteriorating product. We even took you at your word and held our gatherings at your locations so that we might spend yet more with you - and considered your establishments a safe space.
Recently, however, we’ve seen the “open carry” debate become increasingly uncivil and, in some cases, even threatening. Pro-gun activists have used our stores as a political stage for media events misleadingly called “Starbucks Appreciation Days” that disingenuously portray Starbucks as a champion of “open carry.” To be clear: we do not want these events in our stores. Some anti-gun activists have also played a role in ratcheting up the rhetoric and friction, including soliciting and confronting our customers and partners.
Characterizing events driven by gratitude as "misleading" when described as Starbucks Appreciation Days is more than a bit deceptive. The vast majority of these events were driven by a combination and a sense of competition - to see if the 2A community could spend enough to offset any losses you might suffer as a consequence of your neutrality.
For these reasons, today we are respectfully requesting that customers no longer bring firearms into our stores or outdoor seating areas—even in states where “open carry” is permitted—unless they are authorized law enforcement personnel.
Please note that this request does not address open carry - that it is a request that NO FIREARMS be brought into Starbucks facilities - concealed, open, or magical. The earlier comments about Open Carry are a mere distraction - this is the money line, "keep your icky guns off our property - all of them." 

Of course that translates as "leave your guns home, unguarded in your car where they can easily be stolen, or just don't patronize Starbucks - pretty please." I don't plan to disarm to bag a cup of inferior charcoal-flavored coffee, and I'm not a big fan of the Kerlikowske Option - leaving me with politely respecting the request to spend my money elsewhere. 
I would like to clarify two points. First, this is a request and not an outright ban. Why? Because we want to give responsible gun owners the chance to respect our request—and also because enforcing a ban would potentially require our partners to confront armed customers, and that is not a role I am comfortable asking Starbucks partners to take on.
And now we have the veiled threat - comply or there WILL be a ban.
Second, we know we cannot satisfy everyone. For those who oppose “open carry,” we believe the legislative and policy-making process is the proper arena for this debate, not our stores. For those who champion “open carry,” please respect that Starbucks stores are places where everyone should feel relaxed and comfortable. The presence of a weapon in our stores is unsettling and upsetting for many of our customers.
Again, the open carry distraction. The request does not address open carry - it addresses all carry, open or concealed.
I am proud of our country and our heritage of civil discourse and debate. It is in this spirit that we make today’s request. Whatever your view, I encourage you to be responsible and respectful of each other as citizens and neighbors.


Howard Schultz
 Civility should be our watchword in this matter. Mr. Schultz has politely requested we not darken the door of his establishments - we should oblige. There are many mom and pop coffee shops with far better coffee and snacks (even the fancy stuff) that are struggling to survive in the shadow of the behemoth that doesn't want our business - let's go have some coffee where we are welcome...or where at least we've not been asked to leave.
Let me be painfully clear. As a private business Starbucks has every right to request anyone they like to leave for any reason they like or to set any expectation for behavior or viewpoint as a condition of doing business with them as may thrill their collective little hearts. Goodie for them. 

Conversely, if we or any other group find their choices less than amusing we can express our dismay in a wide variety of ways. Presently, I favor politely honoring their request to not do business with them.