Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Tired of Nannies

I am tired of nannies trying to run (ruin) my life.

I heard on the car radio this morning that some Montgomery County, MD councilman wants to adopt Federal energy-saving guidelines as part of the building code. If it passes, all the new houses in the county must have “green” appliances, heating/cooling, and use renewable energy. It will add about $10,000.00 to the cost of a new home.

There are nannies all over the country pushing different things and not all nannies are on the left. Some nannies want to ban smoking in public places or anywhere else. Others want to ban plastic bags. Of course, many want to ban guns, although they’re on a losing streak right now.

As far as plastic bags, they want to stop stores providing them to their customers. They want us to buy those cloth bags. I’ve seen people in line with their own bags. They’re usually rolled up and look a little grungy because they live most of their lives in a car trunk.

If I don’t want to buy cloth bags and that should be my choice. Further, Yosemite Sam and I usually recycle excess plastic bags and reuse the rest. We have a cat and dog (use your imagination). We line garbage cans. We would have to buy bags for those purposes when (not if) the stores stop providing plastic bags.

I used to smoke. I quit a long time ago, so I don’t have a dog in this hunt anymore. But, I’m amazed at how successful anti-smokers have been in banning public smoking particularly in bars. I spent part of my college years in cozy bars usually with friends and cigarettes. I can’t imagine those places without a haze of smoke. It ruins the image.

Of course, as a gun blogger guns are my thing. I’ve spilled many pixels here defending my gun rights and I’ll be damned if the nannies will win this one.

Another thing, I am most tired of Nanny-in-chief Bloomberg, the mayor of New York City. I understand that restaurant chains in the city have to post calorie counts. Of course, it’s not enough to provide them in a handout, Bloomberg wants them on the menu or boards. It’s a good thing to know your foods’ nutritional values, but why Bloomberg won’t accept less intrusive ways to provide information is beyond me.

In short, no more nannyism, please.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Guns and Fear

I’ve been reading news stories, opinion columns, blogs, and reader comments about Obama’s “bitter” comment. The one where he said the hoi polloi turn to God, guns, and turn against illegal immigrants and people not like them because their jobs have disappeared.

There are many editorialists and commenters who defend Obama’s statement even when they agree that it wasn’t well said. They argue that blue collar people are economically desperate and Republicans and others try to distract them with values voting—God, guns, abortion, and gays. They point out that this is the same argument that Thomas Frank made in his book, “What’s the Matter with Kansas.”

My focus has been on the guns part of the comment. For those people who try to justify the guns part of the comment they often argue that fear is the reason people own guns. They believe these benighted citizens fear illegal immigrants, people not like them, and hold a gun like it were a security blanket. See this comment as just one example.

Of course, the people who say these things don’t understand why people like guns. I don’t “cling” to my guns because I fear anyone. In fact, for me self-defense is a by-product of owning guns.

I own guns for two primary reasons: I like shooting them and I like collecting them.

I like shooting. When I do it well, I ease into a zen-like state. I don’t worry about work or anything else. It’s just me, a gun, a target, and the need to make holes where I want them to appear. I also like other shooting “games” such as action-type shooting, skeet, trap, and just plain plinking. My shooting has nothing to do with fear. However, I will use a gun and the skills I acquire to protect myself.

My collecting has nothing to do with fear. If fear were my motivator, I might own only one shotgun, one rifle, and one handgun (or just one gun period). I would not have spent lots of money to purchase guns, house them, preserve them, and secure them. I collect because I enjoy the experience of owning, shooting, restoring, pieces of history. For instance, I can only imagine who may have used my M1Garand made in June 1944, the month and year of D-Day.

It’s the elites and too many “progressives” who don’t take the time to understand why people own guns. I may be just one person and hence one anecdote, but I bet there are many people just like me.

I don’t vote for pro-gun rights candidates because I “fear” they will take my guns, I vote for them because I know too many “progressives” actually want to do so.

Monday, April 14, 2008

What I'm Reading--Starbuck Chronicles

Here’s something I’ve probably said before, I read a lot. I just finished a set of four novels set in the American Civil War, the Starbuck Chronicles by Bernard Cornwell (sorry, I can’t give links to books because I am at work and too many Amazon clicks is not a good thing). If the author’s name is familiar to you, you might be a fan of his Sharpe’s series.

The four books cover major battles and Starbuck’s role in them; one battle is featured per book. The last of the four has Starbuck fighting at Antietam (September 1862).

Cornwell writes primarily historical fiction. His heroes are often flawed, but they get the job done. Nathaniel Starbuck is the son of a famous abolitionist preacher from Boston. He leaves Yale Divinity School and takes up with an actress who cons him into a trip to Richmond, Virginia and abandons him. A rich landowner, Washington Faulconer, rescues Starbuck from a tar and feathering at the hands of an anti-Yankee mob.

Faulconer, the father of one of Starbuck’s classmates, takes the young man under his wing. Faulconer is raising a “legion” to fight for Virginia and the Confederacy. Starbuck accepts a commission as a second lieutenant and serves as an aide. Starbuck is not sympathetic with Southern politics, but fights well nonetheless. Through various permutations, Faulconer comes to hate Starbuck, but Faulconer loses control of his “legion” while Starbuck earns promotions eventually to major.

I recommend Starbuck Chronicles to anyone who likes historical fiction. There are details that you just don’t get out of most history books. Cornwell mentions the salty, bitter taste of gunpowder. At the time, soldiers had to bite the end off of a paper cartridge and pour the powder into the muzzle of a rifled musket. The powder dried their mouths and made prolonged fighting without access to water an agony.

Black powder also clogged gun barrels making it almost impossible to jam a bullet down them after multiple firings. Dehydration made it impossible to use a battlefield expedient to clean a gun barrel, peeing down it.

Because of his divinity school and preacher’s son background, Starbuck fears that he’s damned, and that makes him fight all the harder. Like Sharpe, Starbuck does what needs to be done including shooting a fellow officer who desperately needed killing and using a cannon to end a threat from within his own ranks.

The main thing I don’t like about the four novels is that there are only four of them. Unfortunately, Cornwell stopped writing the series in 1996. His success with Sharpe led him to write more of that series to the detriment of Starbuck. I would like to read more of them.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Feeding the Blog-Beast

In a comment to my most recent post, drew458 wondered if this blog had died. No it’s not dead, although it’s a little crippled right now. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a crippled blog personified. It’s not a pretty sight. It just lies there in our living room and groans. It’s covered with purplish-green scales with red spots (a truly horrendous color scheme by the way). Every now and again it opens its yellow eyes and balefully stares at us and croaks, "FEED ME." I finally decided to listen and feed the crippled blog-beast.

I’ve been on a vacation from blogging for two primary reasons. The first is that I've said so much already here. I have to rack my brains for new ideas. The second is that my new job involves a lot of writing. When I come home I battle between the thought of writing still more versus the ability to sink into the mind-numbing lethargy of sweet, sweet TV; and oh what a TV--42" of high-def goodness with detail so rich it’s almost disturbing. Who knew that actors don’t have perfect skin even under thick layers of make-up. Whoops, back to blogging, the blog-beast wants more food.

This has been an interesting month for us gunnies with big ups and downs. A big up was the Heller hearing. Although predicting the Supreme Court is never certain, it looks like oral arguments went our way. Of course, some gunnies made the usual complaints, valid as they may be, that Heller will not go far enough in stopping infringements on our rights. Still, if we come out on top, I will cherish the victory and hope we can build on it.

One of the downs was the death of Charlton Heston. I read comments to his obituary in the New York Times. Too many commenters were glad he died and cited his support for gun rights. They have so much hate and yet they believe they're the tolerant, the progressive ones. They can’t even see how bitter they are. They also couldn’t recognize that Heston was continuing a life-long support of civil rights. But, the day that "progressives" recognize firearm ownership as a civil right will be the day the Earth stops spinning.

I had a personal disappointment this month involving guns. I shot Mr. Completely’s e-postal match. I haven’t practiced shooting much recently. I blame two things; the move and that blasted TV set--but oh the colors are so rich and the sound is so good. Sorry, I’m back. Because I’m out of practice, I didn’t shoot that well in the match. While I didn’t screw up badly, I know I’m capable of better. It proves that shooting well is a fragile skill. I need to get to the range more and maybe join a gun club in this area.

Now a word about living in Maryland. The gun laws are not as onerous as I feared, but they could be much better. I haven’t tried to get a carry permit or buy a handgun. My opinion may change should I do either of those things. There’s a lot of room for improvement in the laws and maybe a good result from Heller will lead to that end, unfortunately one lawsuit at a time.

Yosemite Sam and I are looking forward to the NRA convention in mid-May. We plan to attend the Blogger Bash and have registered and got banquet tickets. In order to hold my head high when I get there, I better start feeding the blog-beast more. For right now, it seems to be sated. The colors on its scales have turned to a pretty shade of purple and the red spots are gone. It’s sleeping easily now. No promises, but I hope to start feeding the beast more often.