Sunday, June 22, 2014

A gay bashing in NH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Iraq & the Middle East

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Reference Post: Mass Killings by other means

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

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

Knife-wielding attackers kill 29, injure 130

Osaka School Massacre

Lone Star College Knife Attack

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

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

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Sriracha Cheesy Grits

Sriracha Cheesy Grits


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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Cracking the Code of Crazy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Texas & Open Carry

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

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

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

That the gun community agree to

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

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

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

Molasses Corn Cake

Another entry from the 1896 Fannie Farmer cookbook. Definitely a different take on cornbread - and just as definitely good. Give it a try!

Pretty darned easy to make. I've updated the recipe to include the notion of mixers and pre-heatable ovens.

Molasses Corn Cake

1 Cup Corn Meal
3/4 Cups Flour
3-1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
1/4 Cup Molasses
3/4 Cup Milk
1 egg
1 tbsp Melted Butter

Set oven to pre-heat to 375F.

Thoroughly butter a glass or iron 9" pan. Mix & sift dry ingredients together in mixer bowl.

Whisk together molasses and milk.

Slowly add milk mixture, egg (well beaten) and melted butter to dry ingredients with mixer at low speed. Mix thoroughly.

Pour mixture into buttered pan. Bake 20 minutes or until when tested with knife, knife comes out clean.