Sep 30, 2010

American War Lords

Time magazine is out this morning with one of its regularly scheduled Oh-My-God!  pieces on warlordism in America, the militias.  The goal seems to be to move us to drop everything else we've been worrying about and panic over the  backwoods lads  who like to don camo and play soldier with their guns that look like assault rifles.

I have trouble thinking of any circumstances that would entice me to join a so-called militia. Personal survival? Sure. Associating with a troop looking for an excuse to start shooting? Hardly.

I understand the generality of their fears, but the "militia movement"  -- if there really is such a thing -- strikes me as a few hundred to a few  thousand fellows suffering from arrested development and over-exposure  to action comics.

As to an actual  militia threat to our polity, such as it is, Time creates its own refutation by embedding a link to another Time story on the Top 10 Crimes  of 2009. The number of cited crimes committed by "militias," or gun collectors, or shooting enthusiasts, or any of us running around with a CCW, equals zero.


To my mind,  the crime going on in a Senate hearing room today would be a better focus for Time's perennial need to soil its shorts. That's  where Chris Dodd is chairing a meeting  on how Ben Bernanke and all his pals intend to fix the financial system.

Sep 28, 2010

True laws are real(1)

In my town, you commit a criminal act by pitching a tent in your back yard and letting your  grandkids or friends' kids sleep overnight in it. The stated reason is to prevent thugs like me from "operating a resort without a license."

(The lads and their pup tent remain welcome; in the immortal pre-pardon words of Richard M.Nixon, "There's been a lot of good writing done in prison.)

Rendering unto Caesar

Off to town for a visit to our new Tax Majal, sometimes known as the county court house. The occasion is an approaching  deadline for forking over a four-figure sum for the privilege of continuing to live on my modest little spread.  I could pay on line, but I prefer to walk up to the  counter and write the check. It gives me a chance to glare at one or two of the Regulators, and that seems to do something for my glands.  You just know that some of these hacks wish for a law requiring us to tug our  forelocks as we submit to the  extortion.

The property tax bite this year is up 13 per cent, and that's under local governments  whose commissars are something like 80 per cent Republican.

Sep 27, 2010

Speaking of self-sufficiency

Could we? General Fertig's people did in the Mindanao jungle.

...curtain rods were cut into pieces and shaped to provide ammunition for .30 caliber rifles, steel was shaved from automobile springs and curled to make recoiling springs for rifles ...

Speaking of survival

Did you ever wonder why Bear Grylls never seems to slip a Bic lighter into his cargo pants  before he jumps out of the airplane?

No Boy Scouts in Britain when he was wee?

Smashing the Cities

A reader commented on the previous post, McGee Speaks:

Should we be stocking up on supplies before you start smashing, or is this just an offhand comment?

The paragraph is from  The Green Ripper, written in 1978 or '79 about Travis' personal response to an act of terrorism. The threat MacDonald  posited emanated from a perverted form of Christianity fronting for Communism and the same  Middle-East forces which threaten us today. It is an ageless reflection on  the relationship between  advanced technology (running water, for instance) and increased societal vulnerability.

In a sense, it is also a reflection on people in general. On each new day our good lives depend a little more fully on competence and good will of of countless people we've never me.  Air traffic controllers, guards and engineers of the power grid, internet enablers, the police system,  a financial lashup which profits from general ignorance,  the political system which has taken it on itself to ensure everything works and everyone happy.

So far, despite some horrible lapses, this has worked well enough in the First World, but there is a cost. The price is measured is  units of self-sufficiency which are lost to a blind and unthinking reliance on the system and an almost universal negligence of personal Plans B, C, D, and beyond.  

New Orleans died after a wholly predictable act of nature, and everyone blamed everyone else.  Facebook went down last week and it was top-line news.  Impure eggs got to market and a million words were expended advising the population to cook eggs, as though hundreds of millions of Americans were blind to the simple truths of the natural world, which is close enough to truth to frighten me. 

Assuming the correctness of every biologist, anthropologist,  ethicist I ever read that personal survival is the ultimate human drive, I wonder at the popular refusal to recognize the corollary: Living to see next month is a personal responsibility. 

When the grid goes down are we ready with battery lamps, then kerosene lanterns, then candles, then  twisted thistle fiber stuck in a clam shell of bacon grease?  (Can you and your neighbors catch, kill, and butcher a hog, then render out the fat?) 

When the water tower is empty do we have a pre-determined source of water, a way to carry it, store it, boil it? Do we have a personal plan to protect it when the police run away, speaking of New Orleans? 

Against the day when the satellites go dark, do we have a map to replace the GPS, a personal library to fill in for the electric teevee -- not to mention the ability to converse with other humans when Sister Oprah is no longer our best friend and primary source of wisdom?


All that is part of what McGee was wondering about, as we should.

The "you" in your comment is misguided, perhaps unintentionally.   The  smashers are my enemy.  Meyer the economist, in the same book, outlines a gloomy view of  the near future. However:

"What the sane people people and sane governments are trying to do is scuffle a little more breathing space, a little more time before the collapse. ... I'm one of the scufflers. Cut and paste. Fix the world with paper clips and rubber bands." 

Still, yes, I think it is a good idea to be laying in a few supplies. Starting  in about 1992 if not earlier.

Sep 26, 2010

McGee speaks

"I remember one of Meyer's concepts about cultural resiliency. In the third world , the village of one thousand can provide itself with what it needs for survival. Smash the cities and half the villages and the other half keeps going. In our world, the village of one thousand has to import water, fuel, food, clothing, medicine, electric power, and entertainment. Smash the cities and all the villages die. And the city itself is frail. It has little nerve-center nodules. Water plant, power transmission lines, telephone switching facilities."


I transcribe with exactitude from the auction bill:
 "Mauser ModelK98K 709 mm rifle."

That would be a biggy, well into the NFA no-no class, eh?

I'll hit the sale anyway, mainly to look at the 6.35 Ortgies and the Winchester 102.

The  alternative is mowing the lawn.

EDIT: All junk. Let some other fool have the stuff. One of them returned my missing "s" in return for my not bidding it up. :)

Sep 25, 2010

Welfare Queen

A real one, to wit:

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland,  Head of the Commonwealth, Supreme Governor of the Church of England, Duke of Normandy, Duke of Lancaster Lord of Mann and Paramount Chief of Fiji. 

AKA Regina of the Chilly Toes, making us wonder if Phil might not have been behind this. 

Liz applied for The Dole,  heating assistance  to chase the chill from the cold stone of Buckingham Palace. 

That particular fund was designed to pay for warm schools and hospitals. 

Her Majesty's government said, "Sure,"  then, egad, reneged and thwarted Royal Desire.  It seems some spoilsport of a PUS got to thinking about those ever-so-disrespectful cads on Fleet Street.

"I also feel a bit uneasy about the probable adverse press coverage if the palace were given a grant at the expense of, say, a hospital," the official said.

Move to Britain. Apply for welfare. You'll meet such a nice class of people in the queue.

I say, aren't those guns wonderful, Cyril?

in Kennesaw, Georgia, police estimate that half the residents are lawbreakers.

That's all right, though, because rapists, burglars, and similar vermin don't know which half does honor Kennesaw's mandatory gun ownership law. So they ply their trades in other towns, and Kennesaw is the safer for it.

Even the Financial Times of London seems impressed that Kennesaw sports an amazingly low crime rate.

Reporter Anna Fifield, a New Zealander who proclaims herself a liberal, writes:

"But almost 30 years after the law was passed, it is still in place and still popular, not least because Kennesaw’s crime rate has remained disproportionately low, even as the town’s population swelled from 5,000 in 1982 to almost 35,000 now. According to the latest FBI statistics, Kennesaw recorded 31 violent crimes – mainly robberies and aggravated assaults – during 2008. In other similar-sized local towns the figures were much higher – 127 in Dalton and 188 in Hinesville. For property crimes – largely burglaries and thefts – Kennesaw recorded 555 while Dalton had 1,124 and Hinesville 1,802.." 

I think we'd like Anna.  As she interviewed sources at Nick's Gun Shop there was some talk of taking her in back for a bit of shooting.

"But the trainer is out and the firing range at the back of the shop is busy. I spot groups of women in purple earmuffs, and fathers and sons lining up in the 10 alleys to shoot bullets into posters of deranged zombies called Bob and Steve. I am relieved: while I am game to try shooting, I am afraid I might enjoy it." 

(h/t  Jeff)

Sep 24, 2010

How to talk to a hoplophobe

A guy seldom runs across a piece of writing he can call beyond improvement, but Joel is close, if not actually there. 

It illustrates, among other things, that you can create intelligent answers to idiotic questions.

Political Quick Take -- The Pledge to America

The Republican "Pledge to America" was a mistake, the seriousness of which remains to be seen. Anti-Democrats were on a roll. Obama-ite iberals looked  at November in despair.

The "pledge" gives them a fresh target and a news peg to reopen dialogs on points already conceded to the GOP by likely voters. It violates a first principle of campaigning: When you're ahead, don't debate.
Besides, most everyone knows they don't mean it.

Sep 23, 2010

An addition to the TMR blog roll. 

Cowboy Blob. 

Shhhh. It's a secret.

In Waukee, Iowa, the city manager has big plans.  He'll try to spend a few million tax dollars on "development."   When it is all gone, the chumps paying the bills will get to know where it went.

This guy has put the city development plans in his personnel file, making them secret under the law. And the mayor and city council go along.

"The public trusts us when they elect us to efficiently run the government and the city," (Mayor) Peard said. "They trust that we manage the city (administrator) and that the city (administrator) manages his administration. I guess the evaluation factor comes (at election time) with how good of a job they think we've done."

So, Waukee folks, y'all go ahead and vote,  then take a two-year nap. Just like your buddies out in Bell, California.

Actually, the mayor and council are probably relatively honest people, as politicians go.  Just naive.

 I don't know which is worse, to be governed by  a thug or by a stupe.

Where life is better

It's Dakota/Lakota country, where the Sioux forged a pact with the pony and created a culture. Where  Jinglebob still works broken land, one foot in  the 21st Century and one in the  the 19th.

Sep 22, 2010

Bell, California and my Ditch Digger

The hands are wringing and the tears flowing.

How, oh how, could a pipsqueak city  of 36,000 let things get so far out of hand? An $800,000 mayor. A $457,000 police chief. A $376,000 assistant city manager. Five city council members at $100,000 each.

The guy who digs my ditches knew years ago, even though he, like the rest of us, never heard of Bell before the Los Angeles Times made it a poster child for avaricious politicians and bureaucrats run amok. He's  a thoughtful guy who likes to read and to discuss "why things are so f----d up."  His answer one cold morning over  post-excavation coffee: "Because we need better people." Not better politicians; he and you and I know that is a fool's dream.

No little group of elected and appointed thieves steals $5.5  million  from a small city unless the population is composed of docile apes,  too dumb or lazy or complacent to give a damn.

That kind  of theft can't be hidden. Any junior-college trained  bookkeeper with a four-buck pocket calculator can identify it.  Any reporter good enough to hold down a job with an  Arkansas weekly can make it an issue.

Where in perdition was the Bell  electorate on Nov. 29, 2005,  when the thugs pushed through a charter municipal government system with a total turnout of 400, including, according to Wiki, 200 dubious absentee ballots? Where has that same electorate been in the five ensuing years.

To Hell with Bell and its inhabitants.  You deserved no better, and unless you're willing to begin acting like United States citizens, you will get no better. You'll go back to Dancing with the Stars and the latest from Fox on Lindsey Lohan, and two years from today the carnivorous monkeys will be back, eating what ever is left of your  undead faces.

Rule 1 of making a republic work is, "Pay attention."  Fail and you deserve every thing you get.

Sep 21, 2010

A pier, haiku version

Maybe the impulse to post the spike knife came naturally from yesterday's  nautical labor. For strictly bureaucratic reasons, I had to lengthen  my new dock before October 15. Otherwise I would never, ever, be permitted to expand it beyond the 16 feet I now want to the legal maximum of 32 feet which I may someday want. I settled for one more eight-foot section.

Technically, it is not a dock, but a pier. I've been away from living on salt water so long I fall into corn-field usage.

It will make a convenient place to tie -- chain, actually --  the canoe, and a comfortable perch for fishing.   It's on a point about 50 yards from the canal outlet to the big lake,  and the water is good for walleyes in the spring and fall.

Installing a dock is one part brute labor, another part finicky adjustment of supporting poles, a third part  lesson in not dropping tools, and a fourth laboratory work on the differing physics of moving about in chest deep water as opposed to air.

The marlinspike knife

Posting pictures is fussy and iffy  around here. The reasons are simple. I am inept. I work from a disorganized computer. Still, it's sometimes easier and more fun than trying to create a few dozen words of coherent thought, hence the knife photo.

I've had others, but Davie Jones snatched them because I neglected  a first principle of seamanship: Any knife you use at sea  (or, in one case, on the Kawishiwishi River in the far north woods)  should be tied to your body.

It is a marlinspike knife, or a bos'n's  knife, or a rigger's knife, among other names.  The sheepfoot blade reduces surprise punctures in your sails. The  spike is for marling, from "marlin," a nicely aromatic  tarred twine. To marl is to wrap marlin around another line, for appearance, chafe protection, better gripping.

The spike helps Jack separate strands of the marlin and to wind and tighten it around the larger line.  It sees just as much use in splicing and complicated knotting. It punches holes in leather,  canvas, and annoying ship mates.

In one case,  a Buck version also intimidated a young lady security attendant at Washington National. This was pre-TSA, in the era when carrying a pocket knife into the Friendly Skies was not , ipso facto, a terrorist act. She summoned a mature cop who shrugged it off and waved me to the boarding area.

Geeking it out:  A marlinspike may also stand alone, a simple tapered metal thing. A wood version is a fid. You are now prepared to go to sea.

This one is marked "Spencer 1976."  The white paint number suggests it may have been issued to a cadet some where.  Damned midshipmen kids are always losing stuff.

Sep 20, 2010

Maybe we should outsource congress, too.

L1 Identity Solutions of Stamford, Connecticut, has sold itself in two parts:

1. It owns a spook shop, although it calls it a "government consulting business," a sort  of overflow catch basin for the CIA.  The company is selling this part of itself to BAE of Farnborough, Hampshire, England,

2. The main part of the business is biometric devices, software, and databases, and there's a good chance this includes the drivers license in your wallet. These get sold to France's Safron.


(1) not to worry old chap

(2) et dormez bien

This transfer of another chunk of our security to foreign contractors results from CEO Robert LaPenta's inability to turn a buck on one of the world's hottest technologies.

Great-Grandpa Goodwrench's multi-tasker

The "Hawkeye Wrench,"  from Marshalltown,  to help you keep your Maxwell Mascotte  in shape.

The alligator jaws  handle various size nuts. The center  holes are dies for chasing 5/16 -- 3/8 -- and /2- inch threads. Note the screwdriver on the left jaw and the deep marks suggesting an early mechanic found it a useful hammer, also.

Sep 19, 2010

My Sunday Sermon

A girl I love married an astute man, and I sometimes discuss government with him, mostly in an effort to cleanse him of a few notions which I find insufficiently anti-statist.

When ever I think of him and of government in the same paragraph, I am heartened,  even though he still insists it is good that taxpayers underwrite athletic stadiums. That is because, in a fit of disgust at theocratic politicians, a disgust I share, he once remarked loudly that these guys do not comprehend that "a government is not a religion."

Leading us to this morning's text.

Which opens thusly:

Whereas, Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitations tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness...

Out of rhetorical compassion, I  omit the remainder of my written harangue this Sabbath. 

Sep 18, 2010


The first substantial fire of the season dances in the wood burner. This annual milestone marks the first day of the year when I begin consuming wood faster than I cut and split it.

If a man can put aside thoughts of approaching continental winter at 43 north,  this is a fine time. A few sticks of maple raise the Camp J quarters  to near 80 degrees, even with a couple of  windows open to the fresh air.  Altogether pleasant.

There will come a day when the  body revolts at the brute labor of wood, and I will join the fossil-fuel world.  I will miss the subtle hint of wood smoke. It is one of the great atavistic delights.

Sep 17, 2010

You can quit worrying about your credit card debts.  His Obamaness rides to the rescue, another czar in tow.  

Elizabeth Warren will organize a new consumer protection bureau to shield  Americans who can't read contracts from  the wrath of credit card companies who wish to have debts repaid.

We are cheered to observe that she is a Harvard professor, hence prefectly qualified to function within the Ministry of Plenty.

Sep 16, 2010

We fired our guns and the Commies kept acomin'...

November, 1950, on the road to Chosin Reservoir, Marine Lieutenant James Stemple's Able Company holds a position against the Chinese Communists.* The Chicoms charge.

"We thought they were on drugs, the way they kept coming at us. I shot this one charging soldier four times in the chest and saw the white padding fly out the back of his jacket,  but he didn't drop until he had thrown his grenade. Our little carbine didn't have  nearly the stopping power of the M-1 rifle. A direct hit with an M-1 round would knock anybody on his ass.  Still,  four carbine rounds. Kept coming. "

Th  lieutenant might be a hard sell for the 5.56 crowd today. I know, the modern service round isn't to be compared to the  Mr. Pistol carbine ammunition, but some fellows' experience just makes it hard for them to buy into the zen of less as more.

Lunch time reading, so no link.  Russ, Martin.  Breakout, The  Chosin Reservoir Campaign, Penguin, New York, 1999. pp. 40-41.


*By this time even MacArthur's intelligence section was willing to admit the Chinese were in the war.
It isn't that you can't find a place to pee in Ireland. It's that the usual suspects suffer from wadded stepins  because they're short of officially designed, approved, and supervised  elimination stations along the new wrong-side highways.

My Celtic warrior ancestors spin in agony. "Wot's wrong," they cry from their martyr graves,  "with just pissing on the nearest Black and Tan?"


Sep 15, 2010

Jack Shelley of WHO

The TMR morbidity content is elevated this evening, but another man from the era  when broadcast journalism contained journalism has died.

Jack Shelly, 98, was a fixture on 50,000-watt WHO for decades.  In 1944 at Bastogne he interviewed Iowans in combat. A year later in the Pacific he was the first to record interviews with B-29 fliers returning from Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

It is stretching things only a little to say that for some 30 years, Iowa and much of the Midwest stopped whatever they were doing at 12;30 p.m. to listen to a deep, melodious voice reporting the news of the day and resisting every urge to report his opinion of the news.

It was a  lucky young reporter who had the privilege of knowing him.

Edwin Newman

Dead at 91, and we have lost a premier defender of the English language as a vehicle for the exchange of rational thought.

Or, as Wiki says, an old-school journalist with a "fierce belief that degrading the language was damaging the nation."


Kansas Concealed Carry, Concealed Meaning

It's probably wrong to come down too hard on the New Kansas. Jayhawks  had  pretty much solved the Sibelius problem even before shipping her off to be one of His Obamaness's unicorn herders. It has become shall-issue, and the new law seems reasonable enough.*

However, as I was digging through some administrative rules on concealed carry around the nation, I ran across this from the Kansas attorney general:

The Concealed Carry Unit (Unit) of the Attorney General’s Office (AG) is tasked with the administration, interpretation and to a quasi degree, enforcement of the KPFPA.   (Kansas Personal and Family Protection Act.)

How does a cop or prosecutor enforce a law to a "quasi" degree?  That kind of  language from people with the power to toss me in jail makes me think of  Kafka's prisoner.

But maybe the law clerk who wrote   it was just having a bad day. Or maybe it was a warning to other law enforcement agencies that they would have to do the heavy lifting. Still, quasi makes me queasy.


*At least reasonable enough so long as we are stuck with the notion that it is okay to require a permit to exercise Constitutional rights.

Sep 14, 2010

The Naked and the Dread

At first glance you might think the Transportation Security Administration has decided there's something infinitely creepy about having a guy look through your clothes, at your short hairs, bumps, and dangles. Suspend that visionary idea.  It may be that the new full body scanner software is just cheaper.

Ostensibly stung by criticism of naked scans of your daughter as you and the family fly to Grandma's for Thanksgiving, TSA is touting a new experiment in body-scanner software. The gizmo substitutes a clothed generic avatar. It highlights a general body area where there  might be contraband. Then comes the frisk.

But a TSA spokesman makes much of the cost savings. The government will not have to go to the expense of having an employee in an isolated  room look at your nakedness. That's the TSA  sop to citizens bitterly clinging to the notion that it's wrong to have their privates on public display at the check-in line.


The upgrades don’t resolve privacy questions, said Rotenberg, whose Washington-based group objects to the use of the devices as a primary screening tool. The agency may someday decide it wanted to record passenger images or link scan results to traveler names, he said.

Coffee break at 612 South 12th Street in Arlington: "Hey, Art, ya wanna look at some naked people? How 'bout some of them wise-ass blog people always giving us crap? We can use the HD  upgrade and  make a list of the shorties and flatties and ...". 

Sep 13, 2010

Open Carry - Oooops

We're relatively laid back about firearms in western Iowa, but we're not immune to the "OMG, he has a gun" mindset. 

The Clay County Sheriff's Office says it received a report shortly after 6:00 p.m. Friday of a man carrying a handgun in his pocket at the Quick Spot in Everly. Several witnesses reported seeing the gun.

There's much unreported about the man and the circumstances,  but it's a good reminder that  letting your thing stick out is going to result in phone calls and perhaps flashing blue lights and a ride to jail..

Iowa law is somewhat unclear on open carry, but it seems to be perfectly legal outside  incorporated towns and  almost universally illegal in them.  Open carry by  CCW holders in towns  is especially iffy. We are may-issue until January 1, and at least one sheriff has said that -- under the current law, anyway -- he would jerk the permit of any holder openly carrying inside city limits.

EDIT: Carrying in cars on the road is pretty clear. If you have a CCW, okay. If not the handgun must be unloaded and cased.  (Usual disclaimer that I'm no lawyer and the  information is for general information only.)

This fellow shows up clean in  the courts database except for two traffic violations, one in 2000, again in 2009. Both are for driving with no license.  Possibly no license issued, possibly just didn't have it with him.
I don't pass along much from other forums, but I liked one from  "Overheard in the News Room" well enough to make an exception.

Editor 1:  "What did we do before Google?"

Editor 2:  "Journalism."

Reloading note -- .45ACP cast bullets

An experiment with as-cast and unlubricated .45 ACP bullets did not work well.  We fired just over  50 mild --c. 725 fps -- rounds  last week. Accuracy was acceptable, given that the shooting was pretty casual, and there were no malfunctions.  But the leading was very bad. A stiff brush and Hoppes 9 removed only part of it, and I'm facing the need to use the hydrogen peroxide and vinegar trick.

These were cast from mill-run wheel weights with no additves, and that may be the problem. I read that wheel weights use far less tin and antimony than they did a few years ago.

To avoid the mess of lubing, I'm going to try a new batch made from the harder alloy I mixed last month. If those lead, I'll try pan-lubing and pray that's a solution. I really hate the idea of gettiing into the dedicated luber/sizer mess.

For what it's worth, I've been counting on the Lee  taper crimp die to do the final sizing, assuming it squeezes the bullet into dimension as it full-length sizes the entire finished round.

EDIT: Oh dang. I meant "boolits," of course, not bullets.

Just grumpy, I guess

Maybe it's just the backache, but I am a hostile man this morning, and the thing that's cocking my hammer is the concept of zoning laws. Why the Hell should should a  blob of politicians and their hired hands assume full authority over  everything a home owner wants to do around the place?

Answer: Because the local political blob listens to unfulfilled little old people with nothing  better to do than vote and bitch about  the way other people live.

I propose a better way.  End all zoning codes now. Create one single replacement sanctioning  Prolonged Gross and Insufferable Prickishness in Violation of Contemporary Community Standards.  The penalty for petty  complaints  would be high enough to discourage Aunt Tilly from calling the mayor in a fit of pique about the neighbors' yard-mowing habits.

The new law might also stifle these expensive and endless squabbles about whether your new storage shed will be six inches too close to the property line. What sentient life-form really gives a sweet rat's ass?

(No, nothing personal going on here, though if I decide to publicly explain the back ache I may have a bit to say about a strange disease wherein the mention of docks sends politicians into paroxysms  of applied  idiocy.)

Sep 11, 2010

He Speaks

He can be forgiven the pompous tone. Today's commemoration justifies  a measure of formality. But words represent ideas, and ideas have consequences. 

 "If there is a lesson to be drawn on this anniversary, it is this: We are one nation — one people — bound not only by grief, but by a set of common ideals," the president said Saturday ....

...eine volk,  eine reich,  eine fuhrer, Mr. President?*

"One nation" is all right, but, Sir,  we are not "one people."  We never intended ourselves to be a  blob of metabolizing protein. 

The United States  is the  idea of 320 million discrete, individual  human beings, united by the beauty and the logic  of  personal sovereignty and voluntary  cooperation.  The result of that interaction among free men and women  is the nationhood you speak of.


*Objections to premature Godwinisms duly noted.

Sep 10, 2010

If Gen. Patreus had kept his public mouth shut, this lumpenshaman in Gainsville would likely be on Page 32.


Sep 9, 2010

Only in SUX

Sioux City folks announce this year's Kingdom of Riverssance.

It's a festival  down by the river -- the Big Sioux or the  Missouri, don't  know or care which. 

As  a public service I report a suspicion that  "Riverssance" is a Chamber of Commerce guy's brainstorm. "Hey, y'know, Riverssance, like we combine river and renaissance, y'know."

And everyone on the committee  agrees it is a really fun name.

Blecchh. SUX

The Gnomes

Tam has initiated an interesting little discussion about the decline and fall of your house as an ATM machine.

Which, this rainy morning, reminds me of a man who should be read by anyone curious about how the world works.

Paul Edman was an American investment banker, incredibly successful until he zigged the wrong way by going long on cocoa futures. No crap. Cocoa futures. Heavily leveraged, meaning he wagered borrowed money.

His adventurous life included a stint in a Swiss jail for that. The failure of his sure-thing  African cocoa blight brought  down his bank, and the resultant prison time illustrates the side point  that,  in Switzerland,  nothing is very illegal except losing money.

He went on to get rich again writing novels about money, including explanations of  why the Swiss and their bankers prosper so well. One of the most acute observations ever written about money and economics occurred when he quoted a gnome of Basel: "We are not confident of the ability of the world's politicians to manage their economies  intelligently." (I quote -- paraphrase  --  from memory, I believe from"The Billion Dollar Sure Thing.")

He meant that most nations elect politicians who pander to their peoples' dull notion that free lunches are nature's way. And free medical care. And free meal loaves. And, in the end, even free Oil of Olay for the masses for so long as even one rich dowager can afford the unguents necessary for the illusion of youth. It is a matter of equity and fairness, isn't it?

A third shift on the presses, Mr. President?

Si, Fidel

The new Cuba was invented in the heady Days of Aquarius, two generations back, and left-wing America cheered, as it cheered all things statist, from Hanoi to Peking to Moscow.

But Cuba was even more enchanting.  At last, a pattern of lovely, cuddly  government right in our own hemisphere.

Pete Seegar and his Guantanamera haunted much of a nation which somehow got the idea it was a revolutionary hymn rather than a routine Tin-Pan-Alley lament by a guy who couldn't get the girl.

Our consciousness was especially raised by frantically caring celebrities orgasmic over the revolucion of Fidel and Che.

Harry Belafonte, representative of the gushers:  If you believe in  freedom, if you believe in justice, if you believe in democracy, you have no choice but to support Fidel Castro.

Other true believers in the Cuban Miracle included  Chevy Chase, Kevin Costner, Oliver Stone, Stephen Spielberg, Vanessa Redgrave, all ready on a second's notice to lecture us as to why socialist dictatorships work so well.

Their pronouncements  did not, unfortunately reach the ears of selected Cuban citizens, the  Castro Gulag not being wired for cable.


Uh oh.

 "The Cuban Model doesn't even work for us anymore. -- Fidel Castro, speaking to Jeffery Goldberg of The Atlantic.

There is another point of  interest in Goldberg's fawning essay on his conversation with Fidel.

We can wonder why he seems so delighted with this old thief, jailer, torturer, and mass murderer who almost single-handedly destroyed every productive human being and institution on his island. Maybe it was because Jeffie was so delighted with himself for charming ol'  Fidel into inviting him along on a dolphin-gawking  party.


Raul Castro, the little brother now in charge, is quoted  as saying  Cuban citizens will need to demand less of government. We are entitled to wish for even remotely similar words from a the presidente of a country just 90 miles off Cuban shores.

Sep 8, 2010

Range Note

The tourists were gone and the locals hard at work, leaving the range empty yesterday. Daughter, son-in-law and old man took advantage and monopolized the 25-yard range for a couple of hours, shooting the SS Colt 1911 and some of the guns that don't see enough use.

Dave favored the Winchester '94 but  did his best work with the 1911 -- one group just under four inches with one in the x-ring, making for a near tie between spouses.  I decline the honor of referring the  point about who shot better.

Then there was the BL22, a rifle I like a lot and one I would nominate for a  high place in the list of best-machined lever-actions ever. We didn't get compulsive about measuring the Browning's groups, just ran 60 or 70 rounds through it Chuck Conners style, fast and offhand.

My personal satisfaction peaked with the three-screw SA .22. You may recall me grousing here about the shoddy Ruger work and non-existent customer service installing the "safety" conversion. The home-brew fix  worked fine. My only regret is forgetting to bring the Stetson to round out the six-shooter and Buscadero rig. Next time.


For what it is worth, these two young folks are not totally unknown as players in the MSM, and you can safely bet that they won't let some cop or Brady-ite  get away with calling a 10-22 an assault rifle in their pages.

Not everyone can be lucky enough to raise a weapons-aware news kid, but you can always invite one  to go shooting with you.

Range Kids

A well-known news editor hones her management style.
With the de-lawyered  SS Colt  Series 70 and his father-in-law's  hand loads, a chief photographer explains to senior management  why the photo should go above the fold.
Similar persuasive device is the carbine version. Orginally conceived as a tool for annoying hoplopobes by its very existence, it does't shoot all that badly.
A closer photo would better show braggability.The young lady hasn't shot a rifled weapon  in years. Five shots were scattered over four inches at 25 yards, with one centered in the X ring.

Terror Bear

Found in  trash can at the public range yesterday. He lives here now.

We call him Ursama bin Laden.

Sep 7, 2010

War on Drugs, as if we needed further proof

In the San Francisco Tenderloin district, cops and drug thugs are demonstrating the degree to which  the War on Drugs  has been lost.  The city has conceded defeat and settles for a short cease-fire  every week-day morning and afternoon.

Along the route children take to a Catholic school, there is a stepped-up police patrol. Officers  shoo away the ubiquitous street dealers so the children aren't exposed to them.  When they're locked safely in the school, the cops drift off, and  Flydaddy  returns to vend his bags of  white powder. It's hard to think of a better example of the futility of  enforcing laws which are primarily unrealistic words on paper.

Decriminalizing narcotics for adults would have  its own nightmare problems of administration, enforcement and education,  but what could possibly be worse than a message to drug dealers that, yeah, you've won; we ask, however,  that you take your coffee breaks  while the  wee ones are walking to school. Then you can go ahead with your felonies, and we probably won't get around to annoying you too much.

One of the facts  we mention too seldom is the price of drugs.  The pharmaceutical cost of  cocaine and heroin is something like 2 per cent of its illegal -- street -- cost. The other 98 per cent is a government  contribution to the  net worth and cash flow of drug czars and their serfs.

That 2 per cent estimate is from an old William F. Buckley statement, as is his report that more Americans die from drug-war violence than from the use  of the drugs themselves.

Sep 6, 2010

Sep 5, 2010

The Sunday Funnies

AP has a weekend feature on John  Boehner who would probably become speaker of the house if Republicans win big enough in November.The profile concentrates on what he'll try to do as speaker, and the writer tosses in a phrase about the trouble he would face trying to reconcile neocon Republicans and the "Increasingly libertarian-leaning (GOP) caucus."

It's pleasant to see the phrase in print, but whatever libertarian leaning is going on isn't enough to capsize the USS Business-As-Usual.

Show me 75 GOP congress critters who  will risk their lives, their fortunes, their sacred honors  (t' hee)  -- not to mention the Dantesque horror of losing an election --  to dismantle the Departments of Education, HUD, HHS, and Energy. Then, if  they will also vow to risk their all to end the War on Drugs (which has been lost since, roughly, the day Bill Clinton didn't inhale),  why,  then I'll agree the GOP caucus might be trending toward  libertarianism.

But let me repeat my pleasure in seeing even the word "libertarian" so high in a national story. Are we approaching the end of the era requiring us to explain that, no, it is not a misspelling of "liberal?"


Down a little lower we run into one of those sneaky, perhaps unconscious, one-word editorials in a "news" story.

"Boehner already has a somewhat wary alliance with several younger and more dogmatic GOP members. "

Dogmatic? Would the writer have used that word to describe some  hard-core leftist congress critters? Of course not.  The required adjective in those cases is  "principled."

Sep 4, 2010

Generous Iowa

As I mentioned recently, my pride is unbounded in the self-sacrificing spirit of the Hawkeye State. We give you corn, soy beans, presidents, and a culture of Grant Woodism for your sophisticated amusement. But I was especially taken with a morning headline reporting that Indianapolis is  a special  beneficiary of our sharing spirit.

It reads "Apes Leave Des Moines, Become Hoosiers," because our "Great Ape Trust"* is sending four Orangutans to the Indianapolis zoo.

I speculated the gift might well be two legislators,  a governor, and our DNR director.

Reading the whole story sort of spoils the fun. What you're really getting is something like that, only hairier.


*Yes, we have one. Don't ask.


Once in a while I offer news and comment on the enablers of Big Brother. I note this morning a new development in the  saga of Cogent (COGT, NYSE, $11.01).

The company makes and manages automated digital fingerprinting devices and databases to dissuade you from annoying your elected masters.

Cogent has recently sold itself to 3M.  Some shareholders think the acquisition price was too low. Enter the lawyers to sue Cogent management.

Okay, nothing unusual here except what I at first thought was a small joke in reporting the name of the legal firm.

Bull and Lifschitz.

Sep 1, 2010

Live-blogging stupid and expensive fantasies

I am off to town to ask the price of a Willys Jeep, a CJ2A, I think. It's already haze gray. It is not  a total rust bucket. I don't know if it runs and/or drives.

I have a dream.  Except my stencils would say U.S.S. Henderson. Or maybe Desron 5.

I hope the price is prima facie  prohibitive, otherwise I may be setting myself up for the automotive screwing of the century.

EDIT: Damn. The price is in that treacherous sea between the Cape of Slight Overprice  the Straits of Laughing Out Loud.

Lord, give me the strength to say "No thank you." after the close eyeball and test drive tomorrow evening.

Hi Sarah. This is a pig. They go oink.

Iowa contributes two great things to the world.  We produce mounains of good food in support of the international hobby of breeding ourselves into lemmingness. We decide who gets to run for president of the United States.

'tis the season, and as harvest time approaches the march of  Republican mugwumps along Interstate 80 is gathering steam. Today is Sarah Palin's turn. She'll raise some right-wing money to confound liberal/statist  candidates this fall. On balance, that is a good thing.  

More significatly,  she will prance down the runway, giving Zeke and The Missus a gander at the skin which she hopes will one day contain a president.

This is terribly exciting, and I suspect even the corn will suspend growing in awe of Sarah's nearness. I wish I could be more overwhelmed at the thought of her running for  the White House, like I would be at an invitation to hunt grizzly with her on Kodiak Island.


For those of you keeping track, the other Republicans sitting on straw bales and pretending to understand us flyover folks are:

-- Rick Santorum (when he can break away from his exclusive interviews with God)

--Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota

--Good ol ' Newt Gingrich

Of the lot, Newt is the one who comes closest to showing a rudimentary understanding of constitutional government.  
The Council on Foreign Relations has been a target of the Three-Neuron Right for decades. It's seen as an enclave of uberintellectuals using their formidable brain power to subvert the will of Rush Limbaugh followers everywhere.

The latest, referring to the so-called end of American combat operations in Iraq:

"We could end up with a situation where Iraq is a mess," said Steven Cook, a Mideast specialist at the Council on Foreign Relations.

If that represents CFR thinking, we can all quit worrying about being steamrollered by   the council's awesome intellect.  Unless, of course, we miss its point that Iraq was  an orderly and tranquil place prior to our adventure there.