04.16.07

The blood is on their hands.

Posted in Politics, Guns & Weapons, News, Education at 10:03 pm by Administrator

“Guns don’t belong in classrooms. They never will. Virginia Tech has a very sound policy preventing same.” -Larry Hinker, Associate Vice President for University Relations, Virginia Tech

I wish I could say I’m surprised by today’s events. Unfortunately, what happened in Virginia is simply the inevitable result of policies which make educational institutions literally sitting ducks before this type of attack.

In most states, Virginia included, it’s a relatively straightforward process for a law-abiding adult to acquire a permit to legally carry a concealed firearm on his or her person. Thousands of permits are issued each year in those states and many permit holders carry on a daily basis. This creates an uncomfortable situation for potential criminals since they have no way knowing whether or not their next target is packing.

This also makes random massacres dangerous to conduct since the odds are that almost any crowded public place will have at least several concealed firearms present among the intended victims. 

There are, however, still places where nefarious individuals can still find a ready supply of defenseless targets. Almost all institutions of higher learning have rules in place preventing students, faculty, and visitors from possessing firearms for self-defense on campus. This creates a literal ’safe-zone’ for homicidal maniacs and guarantees them plenty of unarmed targets before the police finally show up.

A death is only a tragedy if it might have been prevented. The real tragedy of today is that if one (sane) Virginia Tech student had been carrying in defiance of the rules (or better still…with their blessing), a lot more people might still be alive. 

It’s not as if this hasn’t been suggested before. Only last year, Virginia’s General Assembly rejected a proposal which would have kept colleges from banning the legal carry of handguns by students and employees. Upon the bill’s defeat, Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hinker stated:

“I’m sure the university community is appreciative of the General Assembly’s actions because this will help parents, students, faculty and visitors feel safe on our campus.”

I wonder if he feels safe now.

11.16.06

R.I.P. Milton Friedman

Posted in Politics, Philosophy, Economics at 9:47 pm by Administrator

Milton Friedman

We lost another good one. Legendary laissez-faire economist Milton Friedman died today at the ripe old age of 94.

Friedman had a tremendous impact on economic policy in this country. He was also responsible for bringing ideas that many of us take for granted now, such as the connection between economic freedom and political freedom, into the mainstream consciousness.

I could stay up all night listing the rest of his accomplishments; but it’s easier to just tell you to read his Wikipedia article and its references yourself. (I’m tired, you see.)

Note that unlike many libertarians, Friedman understood the importance of compromise in pursuing political objectives. One of my favorite quotes from him summarizes it perfectly:

“I am a libertarian with a small l and a Republican with a capital R. And I am a Republican with a capital R on grounds of expediency, not on principle.”

This is probably why he was able to get so much done, unlike many of his capital L contemporaries.

P.S. I’ve added the blog of Milton Friedman’s anarcho-capitalist son, David Friedman, to my blogroll. I don’t agree with anyone David Friedman 100% of the time, but he does have some genuinely interesting insights. 

11.11.06

Saturn in the Balance

Posted in Humor, Politics, Weather, Astronomy at 10:13 am by Administrator

Saturn Storm

Astronomers are puzzling over images of what appears to be a giant hurricane-like storm on Saturn’s south pole. At five thousand miles wide, the storm is much larger than earth hurricanes. It also doesn’t move.

The astrophysicists at NASA may not yet know what caused this storm, but I already have it figured out: Since scientists haven’t seen a storm like this on Saturn before now, it must be something new. Therefore, it must be the result of global warming on Saturn. This proves that there are humans on Saturn, since we know that human activity is the only possible cause of global warming on any planet.

We can’t wait for further scientific study. Action must be taken on this now, before it’s too late. Since humans are obviously causing global warming on Saturn, someone needs to go there to show them the error of their ways. Who could be better than Earth’s foremost expert on global warming? Maybe he could even make a sequel…

Hot Saturn

An Inconvenient Truth II: Saturn in the Balance

11.02.06

Dude…

Posted in Politics at 8:47 pm by Administrator

On November 7th, voters in Nevada will have the opportunity to vote on Question 7, an initiative which would allow the sale and possession of up to one ounce of cannabis by adults 21 and older. The initiative also has provisions for licensing and taxing marijuana growers and sellers. (Those activities would still be illegal under federal law.)

The initiative is sponsored by the cunningly named Committee to Regulate and Control Marijuana. That group is (well) funded by the Marijuana Policy Project - sort of the NRA of pot. Apparently the MPP thinks Nevada is a good launching point for other efforts across the country.

Opposing Question 7 is a group called The Committee to Keep Nevada Respectable (I’m not making this up.). Interestingly enough, that group is funded primarily by several casino companies. (I guess being a degenerate gambler is respectable.)

This puzzles me. I would think legalizing cannabis in Nevada would give the state the same sort of competitive edge it had when gambling was illegal almost everywhere else. Doesn’t the “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” campaign emphasize the “Sin City” aspects of the Las Vegas experience? Are they afraid legal pot would be one vice too many? Maybe they’ve seen The Godfather too many times:

“…I believe this drug business — is gonna destroy us in the years to come. I mean, it’s not like gambling or liquor — even women — which is something that most people want nowadays, and is ah forbidden to them…” -Vito Corleone 

Actually, I suspect the casino companies realize that a significant portion of their clientele is composed of people who saw Reefer Madness in its first run and actually believe all the Drug War propaganda they’ve been exposed to throughout their lives. If Nevada became a pot Mecca, the over 70 crowd might decide Atlantic City is a better place to blow their life savings.

Whatever the case, I sincerely hope the measure passes (and they evade the feds somehow). I’m no more a fan of the stoner lifestyle than I am of the alcoholic, gambling-addict, whoremonger, Frank Sinatra lifestyle that the casino companies approve of. However, I don’t believe any of those things should be illegal simply because they are not for me (in excess anyway).

P.S. If the measure passes, remember: “What happens in Vegas can stay in your system for up to two weeks.” Be wary of urine tests.

 UPDATE:

The measure was defeated. (Nevada gets to stay respectable.) However, 44% of the voters were in favor of it. This indicates a definite trend in public opinion toward cannabis legalization. I strongly suspect that something like Question 7 will pass within the next decade if not sooner.

06.08.06

And another one gone…

Posted in Humor, Politics, World at 8:08 pm by Administrator

IRAQ_AL_ZARQAWI.jpg 

Early this morning the U.S. Military, acting on a tip from an informant, reduced the current final hiding place of Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi to very small pieces; thereby sparing us a new set of prison underwear shots. Seriously though, I’m glad they’re learning. Capturing Saddam alive was one of the biggest mistakes of the Iraq occupation. A 500lb bomb provides a certain immediate sense of closure that’s impossible with a long trial.

Someone has already set the bombing video to music. You can download it here. (Save to your own computer for best viewing.)

The Al-Zarqawi death photo reminds me of some other photos released by the military a while back. Remember these?

05.14.06

…with a deadly firecracker.

Posted in Politics, Law, Pyrotechnics at 10:02 pm by Administrator

This recent flap about the government “spying on Americans” caused me to recall a letter I got about a year ago from the Department of Justice. You can find a scan of the actual letter here.

In case you didn’t read it, here’s a summary:

 Dear [administrator],

We’ve been going through the pyrotechnics companies records. Therefore, we know you’ve been ordering chemicals that can be used to make fireworks. How dare you! These things are dangerous. Don’t you know you could poke your eye out?

If we catch you selling fireworks, we’ll send you to FPMITAP for a very long time. We can’t prove you actually did anything illegal, but remember: We’re watching you!

Sincerely,     

[some pantywaist in Washington]

In the first place, you little pissant: I bought those perfectly legal chemicals to make perfectly legal rocket engines. Ever seen October Sky? In the second place: there are lots of legal fireworks I could have made with those chemicals if I had wanted to. In the third place: This is supposed to be the land of the free. What business is it of yours if I make an M-80 or two anyway? Where in the constitution does it charge you to protect me from my chemistry set? If it’s not in the Sacred Document, it’s not supposed to be any of your business. (Read the Tenth Amendment.)

The eventual demise of freedom in this country will not have been the result of NSA datamining operations or the like. It will have been the result of us putting up with thousands of little nanny-state infractions like this. On the subject of the cell-phone records, Kim du Toit offers a pretty good explanation here.

I think I’ll go make some cherry bombs now…

05.02.06

Speaking of which…

Posted in Politics, Money & Finance, World at 1:06 am by Administrator

Soldiers occupying natural gas plants in bolivia

Apparently as a sort of May Day celebration, Bolivia’s socialist president Evo Morales has decided to nationalize the country’s natural gas production. Declaring, “The looting by the foreign companies has ended,” Morales sent troops to occupy gas fields tapped by multinational companies such as Exxon-Mobil and BP PLC. Unless the foreign companies agree to sign new (extortionary) contracts within six months, they will be evicted. 

This is not altogether surprising. Bolivia is the most recent in a long list of countries to have been “returned to the natives,” and “the natives” always seem to do the same thing.

I suggest that ALL the foreign companies pack up and leave NOW (Burning their infrastructure would probably be too much to ask). It would be a short term loss but a long term gain. It’s likely Morales plans to seize them anyway as soon as the state owned gas company is ready to take over production. Compliance by the corporations would encourage every other Mugabe and Castro to try something similar (not that they don’t already).

It will be interesting to see if the existing companies choose to put up with this sort of extortion. I suspect they’ll go more by the numbers than by any sort of principle. Any bets as to the effect total nationalization would have on Bolivia’s natural gas production?

Note: Bolivia has not yet nationalized production of its most popular export, so the supply will likely be unaffected. Whew. 

05.01.06

Happy Mayday, Comrades

Posted in General, Politics at 1:16 am by Administrator

soviet poster

Is there such thing as an anti-holiday?

04.20.06

“God sent the IEDs”

Posted in Politics at 8:11 pm by Administrator

Protestors at a soldiers funeral

This phenomenon of protestors gathering at the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq is somewhat interesting. They call themselves the Westboro Baptist Church and from what I gather, their logic goes something like this: The soldiers are fighting for America. America has lots of homosexuals. Therefore, the soldiers deserve to die and it is cause for celebration when they do.

I realize that in any large group there are going to be a few crazies, but these people make PETA activists seem sane. It’s amusing to note that this group has managed to align itself with the extreme left, the extreme right, and the muslim terrorists all at once. (I wonder which side is paying to fly them all over the country.)

Out of regard for the soldiers’ families, several legislators have drafted bills in an attempt to keep the protestors away from the funerals. If the legislature would like to do something about this, I propose a different solution: the reinstitution of Code duello

It would work something like this: At the next funeral when one of these misfits shouts an insult, the procession would halt while a family member of the deceased issues the shouter a formal challenge. The individual would then have the opportunity to accept the challenge or be forced to leave in shame. This type of person rarely has any individual courage (Why do you think they huddle in groups?), so this strategy would be effective at keeping most of them away.

In the unlikely event that the challenge is accepted, the duel would commence immediately. Paramedics would be summoned and the honor guards would retrieve a purposely kept set of antique dueling pistols from their car. The traditional procedure would be followed and shots would be exchanged. Once blood is drawn, the wound would be treated and the matter would be considered to have been resolved with honor.

The beauty of this system is that these people are unlikely by nature to be good shots. Being a good shot requires a certain mental discipline and coolness that “God sent the IEDs” types obviously lack.

dueling pistols

Just a suggestion.