Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Happy Anniversary, 2009

♪ Happy Anniversary to us
Happy Anniversary to us. ♪

Yes, today is Ten Ring's anniversary. We started this experiment in public expression five years ago. In blog-years that’s like twenty people-years. Granted, Yosemite Sam and I haven’t blogged that much in the recent past, but we’re still around.

I’ve expanded my horizons on this blog. I’ve written about politics, the zen-like joy of shooting, the pleasures of collecting firearms, book reviews, and much more. I’ve even tried satire (and it's my favorite post).

I found out that blogging is a funny thing. You put time and effort into a post and you get few hits, few comments, and even fewer links to it. Then you toss off a post with little thought and effort. That’s the one that gets more hits than you know what to do with. For instance, I posted about a TV show I had just watched. It took me maybe ten minutes to write. Instapundit linked it and I had over 10,000 hits in less than two days. Wow.

I’ve learned to respect professional columnists, either on the right or the left. They have to produce one, two or more columns each week. Unlike me, they can’t say, “that’s been written about recently,” “I’ve written about that before,” or “I’m tired and just want to crash in front of the TV.” Writing is hard work, so hat’s off to the professionals even if I agree with very few of them.

I also found out that I’m an essayist. I can’t just throw out news links with a pithy sentence or two (I’ve tried). When I start to write, I just have to keep writing until I’ve explored the topic (hence an anniversary post that’s just too long, sigh).

So, I’ve enjoyed the last five years even though I feel a little guilty about the recent lack of content. I love reading your comments (hint, hint) and appreciate all of you who continue to read my scribblings here. I’m sure Yosemite Sam seconds the above. Thanks to all of you.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Seasons Greeting and a Sort of Apology

I've been a poor blogger recently and admit to feeling guilt. There are people who continue to read this blog, although I'm not sure why. After all, the new content can be printed out on a postage stamp. I would say sorry, but that would imply that I plan to get better.

I've said a lot in this blog and basically hate repeating myself. I also find that I am reading fewer blogs because the pace of my life has increased. Now, it seems like I barely have time to eat and maybe read a few pages in a book. The thought of reading anymore than I have to on a computer screen causes one of those pinchy little pains right between the eyes.

This is not one of those posts that announces I plan to quit blogging. No, not yet if ever. I like to make the occasional yawp into the ether. I like to put out a "gunnie book review" and sometimes even talk about politics. Lately though, politics has become a major pain in the pocket book and the ass. Health care, spare us that statist wet dream. Grumble, grumble.

So in general, this is to let you know I'm still around, still planning on blogging, but lightly, and still feeling guilty that I'm not doing so daily like I once did.

Also, it is a great opportunity to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas or a Happy Chanukah. May your New Year's Day mark your happiest year ever (provided the government doesn't tax or regulate your happiness away).

Friday, December 18, 2009

Detroit and Ayn Rand

Google Earth is an important tool that I use every day in my current job. During breaks, I often look at different areas of the country and I am always fascinated by what I see. The other day, I happened to be looking at Detroit and noticed something I have yet to see in other urban areas.

The center of Detroit is at coordinates N 42-19-54 W 83-02-48. Downtown Detroit from the air, if you zoom in, looks like a typical urban area. If you have street view, you can zoom in and this area, at least, looks like most northern cities.

Now pan to the east. Directly east of the downtown section of Detroit the landscape looks remarkably rural. Many blocks are filled with empty house lots and many of the houses that are left are often boarded up and derelict.

Coordinates N 42-21-40 W 83-02-03 (4166 Joseph Campau St.) is a typical example. From the air, this looks like an area in some far-flung exurb. One of the houses is boarded up and half of the block is vacant.

This is not confined to just one area of the city. 2846 Wabash St. at coordinates N 42-20-08 W 83-04-39 is even more derelict. The area looks like Iowa with block after block completely cleared or with one or two houses to the block.

Pan in any direction around the center of the city and one finds vacant lots and derelict houses. Even the color of the city has changed from urban grey to the more dun coloration one sees in distant suburbs.

What is happening and what can not be hidden when viewed from the God-like perspective that Google Earth gives you, is that vast sections of Detroit are returning to nature. What was once the pride of American industry and capitalism is transforming into an empty wasteland.

What gives me pause is that these Google photos were taken in June of 2007, before the recent market crash. I wonder what the city looks like today after the bankruptcy of Chrysler & GM and the real estate market crash? Instapundit has a link that shows that things are not getting any better in Detroit.

As we have mentioned before, Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged seems to be more prescient every day, almost as if Rand had a crystal ball and saw the future. Detroit reminds me of the fictional Starnesville, a once prosperous town that had transformed into a derelict wasteland after the collapse of the town's primary business, the 20th Century Motor Company. The company was run in an egalitarian way when the founder's children inherited the company. Before long, the company collapsed and the town it supported collapsed as well. The parallels between this fictional scenario and real life Detroit, Michigan are stark.

But are socialist policies the sole reason for Detroit's misfortunes? Pan across the Detroit River to Windsor, Ontario and travel to another world. The town appears prosperous and the majority of the blocks are filled with houses. Is Windsor, Ontario in Canada less socialistic than Detroit in the United States? I highly doubt it.

This issue, I think, is much more complex than it might appear at first glance. Socialistic policies that were promulgated by the government and the automobile unions are most certainly a factor in Detroit's downfall. But, also, the dependence of a city on one industry that has changed rapidly from a labor intensive process to almost full automation is a factor as well. Policies of high wages and pensions to workers whose jobs could probably be done by a machine is probably neither wise nor sustainable.

Whatever the reason, I still find it sad and disheartening to see the death of a once great city that was once the engine that drove America and the world.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Next Hunting Magazine--The New York Times

Knock me over with a feather, a piece of string, or a small pillow. The New York Times is becoming the next hunting magazine. In the last three days, they've published two largely favorable stories on hunting. The first came out on November 22 and covered a new turkey hunting season on Long Island. Yes, Long Island.

Turkeys were almost extinct on the East Coast, but careful introduction and management brought them back with a vengeance. In fact, there's so little hunting in some parts of the East that in the words of one hunter, "They have been dying of old age out here." This hunter struck out, but that's turkey hunting for you.

Then, the Times somehow found another reporter who wrote a story on "urban" hunters. Most of these hunters are deer or wild boar hunters. Most never grew up with hunting. Many had never shot a gun in their lives.

They are coming to hunting as part of the locavore movement. Hunting is the ultimate in local eating. These new hunters are foodies looking for high-quality protein and trying to reconnect with their food. A few believe that they need to hunt to reconnect with their humanness. These people are from New York City, San Francisco and places in between.

I suspected that locavorism could lead to more hunters. Maybe hunting will make a comeback. Also, these new hunters are dusting off inherited guns, buying new guns, going to gun ranges, and sharing shooting and hunting tips. All around a win-win.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Complete Book of the 22--A Review

Yosemite Sam and I took a vacation back in May of this year. On the way back home from the NRA Convention in sunny Phoenix, we stopped at the Whittington Center. We poked around a bit in the gift shop where I found an autographed copy of The Complete Book of the .22: The Guide to the World's Most Popular Guns (link below) by Wayne van Zwoll. With a title that long, it had to go home with me.

Due to the press of work, other books, fun, traveling, and stuff, I never got around to reading it until recently. As is my usual pattern, I'm posting a review here of books my fellow gun nuts may want to read.

Van Zwoll's name shouldn't be new to most of you. He's written many articles, a number of books, and appeared in cable TV shows. He's shooter and a scholar having recently received a doctorate.

His Complete Book pretty much lives up to its name. Van Zwoll first walks us through memory lane recounting his adventures with .22s while growing up. He tells about woodchuck shooting and even tosses in a few recipes--Pasture Poodle Stew might just hit the spot.

He then turns his spotlight on rimfire guns and includes the .17 HMR. I guess his book should be renamed and include .17 in the title. His next section is about the history of various gun makers and the .22s they produced. I got to admit that I've read a lot about gun makers and there was little new in these synopses. It was slow going for me here, but the brief histories are useful to someone who hasn't read much about these companies and their products.

The most important section is about shooting the .22. Van Zwoll doesn't include much discussion of handguns. He's a rifleman while I'm more of a pistolera. But, each to their own. The book has some very good pointers on marksmanship, ballistics, zeroing, and mindset.

The Complete of the .22 is a good entree into the world of the .22. It's not the final word on .22s and for that matter isn't really complete when the subject is that big. American's shoot more .22 caliber than any other round and logically own more .22 guns than any other. That's a mighty big topic. Still, van Zwoll does credit to his subject. It definitely found a place in my firearms library.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Fatal Coyote Attack

At one time, Ten Ring almost became a coyote blog (just go to the Google search on the sidebar and enter coyote, you'll see what I mean). A reader, Drew458, pointed me to this story.

A woman was killed by a pair of coyotes while she was hiking alone in Canada. Coyotes rarely attack humans, but they are wild animals. Their victim, singer Taylor Mitchell, was young and petite, based on the photo in the story. She was hiking alone and apparently unarmed.

Other people were close enough to call the police who responded quickly (if one of the bystanders had been armed the response would have been even quicker). The police wounded one of the attackers, but they got away.

It's possible that the coyotes were a coyote-wolf hybrid or rabid according to expert speculation in this article. Whether or not they are pure coyote, is not germane to my point. Humans are not equipped to meet a wild animal attack. Our teeth are not big enough. Our fingernails make lousy claws. We're not too good at fighting when we get knocked to the ground. Instead, we've used our giant brains to develop tools--we can turn a branch into a club, a sliver of metal into a knife, a billet of steel into a gun. That's how we defend ourselves.

In this modern world, we've become leery of weapons. We want to be at peace with nature and meet all its wonders in an innocent state free of knifes and guns. The same holds true for our relations with our fellow man. Many "progressives" want a civil society where carrying a weapon runs counter to our norms (see the end of this post for a brief discussion of just that point).

Well we may love nature, but nature doesn't give a fig if we live or die. The same holds true of many criminals. Hell, for that matter, it's true of aliens, zombies, werewolves, and any other imaginary creature (it's close to Halloween, so cut me some slack).

We don't live in a perfect world or have a civil society. We face criminals and animal attacks. Our elected representatives at many levels of government have passed laws that have no contact with that reality.

In some places we can't carry a gun at all, we can't own a gun, we can't carry a useful knife (one with a long blade and opens with one hand). Such laws disarm us in the face of predators. These laws are wrong and news stories about beautiful but dead young singers prove it.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Today in History

128 years ago a small event in the great scheme of things happened. This event launched several movies, books, cowboy action shooting "handles," and saved a town from extinction. Yes, today is the anniversary of the "Gunfight at the OK Corral."

If you look at the actual fight, there is little that should resonate so many years later, but it does. Yosemite Sam and I were in Tombstone, Arizona in May. We'd like to go again not because of something that is linked to Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, the Clantons, or any of the other bigger than life figures that roamed the town's streets. We liked it because it felt like America.

We are a nation that values our wild west heritage, even if it didn't happen exactly like we think it did. The values of self-defense, independence, gun ownership (and yes I know that the Earps wanted to disarm the Clantons and their relatives while they were in town) are important and being lost. Still, long may that heritage last.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Interesting Article on Hain and Open Carry

I only have a few minutes for a quick post here--while the boss is away, yadda yadda.

I stumbled on a story in Salon Magazine about Meleanie Hain. For the most part it's a dispassionate story about her recent murder, her involvement in the Open Carry movement, and that movement.

The author, Steve Kingaman, obviously doesn't like open carry and warns that it may be coming to a town near you. He mentions the laws that exists in 43 states and that 7 states ban open carry pointing out that most of them are in the South and the laws "...were enacted precisely to prevent African-Americans from carrying weapons in public."

The article is not snarky about Ms. Hain's murder, although that's not true of many of the commenters. Klingaman does show his true colors at the end. He refers to a handful of postings on a pro-open carry site that he considers ugly with their cites of "Molon Labe," confederate flags, etc. From that, he concludes, "The problem with open carry is that you never know who is on the other end of that holster. It comes down to competing visions of what constitutes a civil society." He advocates that people who don't want to see gun-toting on their streets advocate for their vision.

My biggest takeaway: Klingaman is less concerned about open carry per se than he is about those who carry and have views he finds repugnant. He would ban the whole thing than to have "those people" be armed. This attitude is little different from Southern states passing laws to disarm blacks.

Let's close with "civil society." That's progressive-speak for wanting a world where lions lie down with lambs. They fault Republicans, gunowners, hunters, and many others for not allowing them to move closer to that vision. We believe that such a society does not and cannot exist. There will always be criminals who will happily relieve you of your money, goods, "sacred honor," life.

We can strive to improve society, but we must realize that being armed doesn't prevent a civil society, it's only being realistic.

Friday, October 09, 2009

A Better Candidate for the Nobel

So, they gave the Nobel Peace Prize to Barack Obama. A president who has mouthed platitudes about international cooperation and basically blamed America for every world problem. A president who has continued the foreign and security policies of his predecessor--a predecessor who was reviled when he left office for those very same policies. What was the Nobel Committee thinking? Hell, even Cindy Sheehan deserves it more than the One.

In the spirit of international diplomacy and cooperation I submit that Cooper the Wonder Basset would be a more suitable candidate. Just look at him, his cuteness has done at least as much for world peace as Obama.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Modest Proposal for Voting (A Satire)

Yosemite Sam and I were talking while getting ready for work this morning. You know how those conversations go—one can solve the problems of the world in five minutes. Well, from this one, we came up with this modest proposal on how we vote. So, I present to you, with tongue firmly in cheek, a Modest Proposal for Voting.

My dear sirs and madams, I put before you today a proposal that will improve how Americans vote. It will increase a sense of civic responsibility; test the capabilities of every adult American; ensure only serious voters come to the polls; and, increase the number of marksmen this country can rely upon in case of foreign invasion or domestic unrest.

This latter point is as important as any of them. America is a “Nation of Riflemen” founded upon the concept of the Minute Man; ready to defend our nation instantly. We, as a nation, have secured and protected our liberty, our freedom, our rights with guns.

Our nation has fallen from our high ideals. We have rightfully enfranchised many more citizens than the Founding Fathers did. However, we have not instilled a sense of citizenship and civic pride among too many voters.

There is one way to correct this; one way to ensure that only responsible and civic-minded Americans can vote. This way, you ask, each voter must come armed to the polls with an accurate .22 handgun that they have taken the time to use accurately. A gun that proves they have accepted their civic duty to be a gun owner.

That handgun, be it a humble revolver, a semi-auto, or a dedicated target pistol will be used to mark ballots. Yes my friends. We will vote in those who would lead us with a bullet. To make it a challenge, ballots will be placed at twenty-five yards.

I grant you that there will be problems, but all are surmountable. Ballots will need to be larger and polling places will need adequate backstops and ventilation. The aged among us will be at a disadvantage. However, this can be corrected—with each ten years of age, past that of 30, the ballots will be moved three feet closer to the voter to correct for aging eyes (although no closer than one yard).

What about the sincerely handicapped; the palsied, the blind, those without hands you ask? They will not be disenfranchised. A poll worker/range officer will shoot according to their instructions with a poll judge certifying results. All others must mark, or rather hole, their ballots.

I conclude with a sample ballot and a reminder that we are a nation of gunowners. Let us accept this and celebrate our rights at each election.

Like I said, this is all tongue in cheek and the result of early morning conversation.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Eight Years

Never Forget...
And never "get over it."

Friday, September 04, 2009

Whole Foods Buycott

Yosemite Sam and I aren't Whole Foods shoppers. Neither of us buy into "organic" hype and certainly don't want to pay extra for an organic rutabaga over a regular rutabaga (I've never cooked a rutabaga, just love typing it). As you might know, there's a buycott for Whole Foods. Breda supported them and inspired me to do the same.

If you haven't heard, the CEO of Whole Foods wrote an editorial about a week ago that suggested health insurance was an individual responsibility and should be a free market as opposed to a government thing. Some of their usual customer base got their knickers in a twist are boycotting the store.

I wanted to support the CEO and hence our lunch-time trip to the market. First off, the produce section shines and I know where I can buy quail eggs now. They stocked graffiti eggplant which was purple with white stripes or white with purple stripes. Pretty. I bought some stir-fry ingredients for this evening. Next came the seafood counter and a pound of wild salmon. Then a pound and a half of grass-fed beef steaks, some bacon and eggs, for breakfast tomorrow all went into the basket.

Finally, we hit the motherlode; the cheese counter. I've never seen such a good selection outside of a specialty store. They had stilton, morbier, various types of chevre, and so much more. I'm a cheese-a-holic and could've drooled there all day. Yosemite Sam dragged me away with only one wedge of white stilton. We had to get back to work after all. We grabbed some food at the hot bar for lunch.

So, our little foray in Whole Foods set us back almost $100.00, but we do have some good eats for a few meals. Sad to say, we didn't run into any smelly hippies or union thugs attempting to enforce their boycott. Oh well, there's always next time.

I won't go back on a regular basis, but I'm glad to have found the seafood and cheese counters. An occasional stop might be in order.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Open Carry and Your Responsibility

I haven’t posted at all (I think) on open carry. Some gun bloggers favor it while others claim it harms the gun rights cause. I can see both sides of the issue.

There are voters who’ll wet their panties, men too, if they see a gun on someone who’s not wearing a badge. More importantly, opinion leaders will rant about it convincing fence-sitters that gun owners are a bunch of loons. This column in today's Washington Post is an example.

I’m not sure that’s such a big problem. We’ll never win panty-wetters to the gun rights side. The fence-sitters will fall on both sides of the issue, particularly when even the White House says that there’s no problem with open carry where it's lawful (read some of the many comments at that link for examples of hysteria).

I’m sure that announcement was a shock to many anti-gun rights people. On the other hand, it can backfire on us. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said, (quoted in the link above) “There are laws that govern firearms that are done state or locally. Those laws don't change when the president comes to your state or locality."

Anti-gunnies, like Obama, have used language like that to support draconian gun laws in Chicago, New York City, and else where. This is one country, under one Constitution. The Second Amendment should apply no matter where you live.

Some gunbloggers and others say that open carry normalizes the sight of guns on people who don’t carry a badge. I think normalizing guns is a good thing.

So, in general, I’m stuck in the middle. I think open carry causes some harm to our cause, but its good outweighs that harm. Having said that, I’m not sure I‘d practice open carry particularly in crowds. I certainly wouldn’t carry a gun in a holster that’s not a top of the line retention holster. This post by Rivrdog explains why.

This article spells out what you need in a retention holster that will make open carry safer for you.

Guns, particularly carried in public, are a big responsibility and we must take that responsibility seriously. Now, I'll stop preaching and apologize for the sermon.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Rollicking Fun: Monster Hunter International

You know you’re really gonna like a book when it begins, “On one otherwise normal Tuesday evening I had the chance to live the American dream. I was able to throw my incompetent jackass of a boss from a fourteenth story window.”

Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter International (link below) is fun from cover to cover. Its hero is Owen Z. Pitt. His father named Owen after a POS Australian sub-machine gun he had carried in the Vietnam War. That naming becomes significant later, but no more on that. I’m shooting for a spoiler-free review.

Shooting is a good metaphor. There’re a lot of guns in Monster Hunter International. Pitt is a self-described gun nut (just like me). He collects guns and has been shooting them since he was a child (just like me). Unlike me, he is about 6’4” and a former extreme fighter now turned accountant.

His boss is beyond incompetent. One day, his boss calls Pitt into his office. He transforms into a werewolf in front of Pitt’s disbelieving eyes and then it’s off to the races.

With the help of brawn and a concealed .357 revolver (not all that useful on a werewolf, but every little bit helps) Pitt defenestrates his furry boss. He wakes in the hospital. Government goons are stationed there to ensure that he doesn’t turn into a werewolf. If he does, Pitt gets a silver bullet to the brain pan. While there, Pitt learns that werewolves, vampires, and things that go bump in the night are real.

Not only are they real, but government agents fight them. Private outfits, one of which is named Monster Hunter International, receive bounties for each creepy-crawly they kill. That outfit recruits our erstwhile accountant and gives him his bounty check from Uncle Sam, $50,000. Not bad work; he gets to kill his boss in self-defense and gets good coin to boot. Lucky SOB.

The book explores the training a good monster hunter gets, follows Pitt and his fellow newbies through various battles, until Pitt and company find out they’re dealing with a supreme monster who could bring back Lovecraftian Old Ones. Does it get any better than that?

I’m dangerously close to spoilers here, so I’ll close with a few observations. Correia is a firearms instructor and a gunnie. Sentences close to a gun enthusiast’s heart are sprinkled liberally throughout the book. For example a vampire smashes Pitt’s favorite shotgun, a well-used 870 Remington, and his Kimber pistol. I shed a tear.

Like me, Correia and his characters prefer the 1911 platform. Don’t get me wrong, Glocks are good guns, but I happen to like John Moses Browning’s contraption better. Here is what a leading female character said, “[My little brother’s] a Glock nut. The poor deluded bastard.” I’m in love, platonically of course.

On final thing about Monster Hunter International; I hope there’s a sequel.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Quiet Moment: Annie Oakley

As we go through our busy day, on this day we should all pause and reflect. For 149 years ago today, in 1860, the American markswoman extraordinaire, Annie Oakley, was born.

I have a lot of respect for Annie Oakley, born Phoebe Ann Mosey. This woman who stood five foot nothing became a sharpshooter putting on public exhibitions, as a member of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, and won many competitions. All this when most women were considered too frail to do much more than crochet.

In her later life, she trained women to shoot. She carried a revolver for protection at times in her parasol (never heard of parasol-carry until I read a book about her sometime back).

Her picture is on the right side of the Ten Ring's photo montage. She was an American icon and we still remember her 149 years later.

Monday, August 10, 2009

"Cash for Clunkers" and Major Suckage

I haven't thought much about the "Cash for Clunkers" program. Of all the recent crap that Obama and his merry minions have tried to foist on us, this seemed fairly benign. I thought that way until I read this post on PapaDeltaBravo. PDB lyrically explains how cars give you freedom.

There's a lot wrong with the program besides the fact that it will now spend $3 billion of our tax dollars. Yes, it might help the car industry a little and it may reduce pollution by a minuscule amount. But, it's wasteful beyond belief.

For one thing, the cars won't be sold again. These cars could be almost given away to someone who can't afford them. Still the idea was to get "gas guzzlers" off the road. Then I thought the cars would be parted out, reducing the waste factor. After that, I found out that engines are being destroyed. In fact, PDB links to a video showing how they do it. Seriously, WTF?!?!

At the very least, half-way decent engines could be used to replace someone's oil-burning power plant. Oh no, Obama must destroy them.

This is truly an Al Gore wet dream. Gore once said that internal combustion engines interfere with the Earth's ability to cleanse itself. I guess he got his revenge.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


When President Obama puts his foot in his mouth, it goes all the way up to his knee (image go away). This morning, Instapundit had two links about Obama's comment on Henry Louis Gates' arrest for disorderly conduct. In one, a Republican representative wants a resolution demanding that Obama apologize to the arresting officer. In the other, Chicago's Mayor Daley said that Obama should have collected the facts before opening his mouth.

In other words, have we finally come to the ultimate "gate" as in Watergate? Are we witnessing a Gatesgate?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Recipocity Amendment Results

Well, the big vote on almost nation-wide concealed carry failed. Still it was a close vote. Snowflakes live-blogged it. It was a close vote. It needed 60 to pass and won the support of 58 Senators, many of whom are Democrats. We’ve come a long way to get this far and may do better in the future. The Senate has a handy-dandy chart showing who voted for what.

I was struck by one thing in the chart: Senators from what I would call pro-gun states who didn’t vote for this amendment.

I didn’t include certain states in my list—none of the Great Lakes states including Ohio and Illinois. While there are a lot of gun owners up there, I personally don’t associate them with support of concealed carry or some gun rights. That is idiosyncratic and someone may argue with my choices (for instance, someone else’s list might have dumped the New England states). Still, it’s my opinion and without further ado here is my list:

Florida: Nelson (D)
Indiana: Lugar (R)
Iowa: Harkin (D)
Missouri: McCaskill (D)
New Hampshire: Shaheen (D)
New Mexico: Bingaman (D)
Oregon: Merkley (D) and Wyden (D)
Pennsylvania: Specter (D sort of)
Vermont: Leahy (D) and Sanders (I)
Washington: Cantwell (D) and Murray (D)
West Virginia: Rockefeller (D)
So, these senators do not represent the beliefs and traditions of their states’ citizens. It’s called a ballot box people. Use it in 2010 or whenever their term is up.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sad Panda over Reciprocity

Lately, the New York Times has been a font of anti-gun sad-pandaism. The editors can’t stand that pro-gun people are winning victories in Congress, in the states, and in public opinion. They can’t stand the fact they’re losing. Sad, sad pandas. I feel (almost) sorry for them. At least I’m trying not to engage too openly in shadenfreude, which is not a pretty emotion.

This time our intrepid editors are bemoaning a proposed gun law. Senator John Thune of South Dakota hopes to add an amendment to a military spending bill that would provide gun owners with reciprocity throughout the United States or at least most of it.

The editorial is short on facts. There’s no mention of how the amendment would affect states that don’t have concealed carry laws at all, if there would be intrastate limits on where one could carry (meaning one would have to master the laws of all the states in which one travels), how it would handle Vermont-style systems, and other pertinent facts.

The editorial is long on emotion. It describes the proposal as “…the latest assault on public safety….” It states that it would make illegal gun trafficking between states easier (not sure how, but I’m just reporting here). If cites statistics that describe presumably unlawful killings by permittees, but the numbers cover a two year period and seem cherry picked (unable to tell without more facts--those are good things).

Finally, it hopes Chuck Schumer and Frank Lautenberg are able to defeat the amendment. But, the writers sound desperate. They sound like they’re crying panda tears.

Let’s really make them really unhappy and give our congresscritters a call and support this amendment.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

More Gun Hypocrisy

Yosemite Sam and I took a brief, unplanned, unannounced, and totally necessary break from blogging and even reading blogs, newspapers, and magazines in all but a most superficial way. We were traveling, work has been hell, and we had a short visit from a relative. When you're in the Washington, D.C. area, that means hikes to The Mall, long Smithsonian visits, staring at monuments and memorials. My aching feet.

There's an editorial in the New York Times today that perfectly illustrates anti-gunnies' fervent hatred of gun rights. They allow this hatred to blind them to the implications of their own thoughts. The editorial board opposes an amendment to a bill that guarantee citizens living in public housing the right to keep guns in their homes.

We're talking about a Constitutional right. We're talking about the sanctity of the home. Yet, the anti-gun editors favor restricting the rights of law-abiding citizens. What if an atheist housing administrator regulated the ownership of Bibles or Korans in public housing? What if a housing administrator banned blogging in public housing? Someone, somewhere could make an argument that these are good ideas.

A right is a right no matter where someone lives.

The editors revealed even more short-sightedness where guns are concerned. They stated, "...Congress should be dealing with the national embarrassment that individuals barred from airlines on the terrorist watch list are free to shop for firearms." If Ted Kennedy showed up on the watch list again, the editorial board would decry the list is unfair, arbitrary, that it violates citizens' rights, that there is no way to know you are on the list or get off of it. They would call it a Bush travesty of justice and fairness.

When guns are concerned, it's fair and right that someone on the list, even if they don't belong there, should be denied a basic Constitutional and human right. What hypocrites.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Say Goodnight America

Everybody needs to read this link about the recently passed cap and trade bill in the House:


One of the reasons I have not posted in awhile is that I have been at a loss for words over what has transpired during the last 6 months. Up until recently, I never would have imagined that a majority of the American people would enthusiastically vote to commit collective suicide. The bill outlined in the above link is the nail in the coffin after that suicide.

To say that I am angry is an understatement. One of the more outrageous parts of this outrageous bill is a requirement for a home energy audit upon selling a home. If your home fails this audit then the seller would have to pay to fix the problems outlined in the audit. So if you have an older home(like me) that has older appliances(like me), you will have to pay thousands of dollars to get new appliances, air conditioners or water heaters even if those appliances are in perfect working order. So much for the reduce, reuse, recycle encomium that the environmentalists keep prating on about. The landfills will be full of these still functioning appliances.

But, it gets better. Think you get around this by being a first time home buyer. Think again. This bill will make national the stringent California building codes and raise the cost of a home even higher.

It goes without saying that electricity, fuel and food prices will skyrocket. All in the middle of a recession. If you work in any energy related field, well, you are basically screwed. Your job is either going away or going to China.

I can't think that if Congress was setting out to intentionally destroy this country they could be doing much less than what this bill does.

One thought that has been bouncing around my head for the last 6 months is the following. I served in the military during the Cold War and one of the things that made me proud was that I was fighting to preserve and protect one of the very few free societies on Earth. But the thought I've had for the last 6 months is what was the point of my service in the military. I see this country quickly and with almost no debate pass legislation that will transform this country into a carbon copy of the ones I fought against. Legislation that dictates how our life will be run in every phase of our lives. From cradle to grave. Control the likes the Soviets of old could only of dreamed about. I didn't sacrifice years of my life to get THIS.

And what gets me is that they are just getting started. Health care "reform" is coming up soon where the government will control another private aspect of your life. As the old 60's song goes, You can't run your own life, I'll be damned if you'll run mine. I guess most of those 60 types didn't take that verse to heart. Or maybe it only applies if the Right is trying to run your life.

Well, I for one am tired of both of them, Right & Left. Both sides are Statists and the two sides together work to stifle virtually all freedom and liberty in this country. The Right with their failed War on Drugs and their obsession with security and the Left with their insane attempts to regulate and control every other aspect of our lives. Control us when we take a shit(low flush toilets), when we buy or sell anything, where we travel, what we eat or drink, anything we do, they want to regulate and control. 1984 is a training manual with these guys.

And the Hell of it is, that the majority of the American people seem to be perfectly comfortable with all of this. They seem to be scared of freedom and liberty frankly scares the hell out of them. They've been educated for decades to feel like this. I can't think of any way that this will change in the foreseeable future.

So, that's why I haven't posted much. What little hope I have, these hope and changers are doing their damnedest to extinguish. Living during interesting times sure can suck at times

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Dark Read, One Second After

I scared myself this week. No, I didn't have a negligent discharge, an almost car accident, a slip in the tub. I read a book.

I read it in about a day and a half. I couldn't put it down and I had the awful sense of passing a car wreck and not being able to tear my eyes away from a sheet-draped mound. The book is William Forstchen's One Second After (link below).

Forstchen's book is not a survivalist novel, but is about TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it). If you've seen his name before, it was probably because he is Newt Gingrich's writing partner for their series of history-based novels. His protagonist, like Forstchen, lives in a small town near Asheville, North Carolina and teaches history at Montreat College. Unlike, Forstchen, the protagonist is a former Army colonel although most of his career centered around teaching military history.

The words in the title refers to the change in America one second after we are hit with an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP). Terrorists or another country, as is speculated by various characters, have hit us with three nuclear weapons burst twenty-five miles above the Earth and arrayed in such a way that the resulting EMPs destroy our civilization.

Electronic circuits are fried even if they were on a surge protector. No cars or trucks made after the early 1980s will run. Cell phones, computers, land-line phones, municipal power and water systems, ATMs, and everything else that we rely on so much are inoperable (with the exception of gravity-fed water systems).

Grocery stores stand empty in less than two days. Travelers are stranded on freeways, planes fall out of the sky, people with medical conditions are staring the Grim Reaper in the face. Hunting becomes a way of life even as game becomes depleted. Ammo is a medium of exchange.

Even our military is not spared. Some equipment that was thought to be hardened against EMP burns out. Command and control communications are disrupted.

The book goes on in this vein and is all too plausible. Communities come together while others fall apart. Some people prey on others (literally). Food is the biggest problem. Basically, as indicated in the book's afterword, America has returned to the nineteenth century without having a nineteenth century knowledge base. We know how to program a cell phone, but we don't know how to hitch a mule to a plow.

One Second After is a dark and scary read. Forstchen gives his characters some hope, some victories, but all of them are lost in a world that is no longer theirs. All too plausible.

Newt Gingrich wrote a foreword and Captain Bill Sander (USN) wrote an afterword. Both state that One Second After is based on unclassified reports. An EMP strike is a real threat and could be a true TEOTWAWKI unlike other survivalist scenarios. In fact, it could inspire readers to improve their own knowledge base and better prepare for such a terrible event (Foxfire books anyone).

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Good Reason to Join the NRA

This morning, over my cup of coffee, I gave myself heart burn. I clicked on the New York Times. What did I see? Bob Herbert has an editorial that bashes the NRA and lays the responsibility for the recent "right-wing" shootings at their door. He believes that the shooters were afraid the government would take their guns and thus they went on a rampage.

Oh, he's careful to say the NRA isn't advocating violence, but he hits all the anti-NRA points. His screed is ahistorial (bashes the NRA over a statement that gun ownership is not about hunting, but to protect against tyranny). His screed has false statements (tying an NRA fundraising letter in with Tim McVeigh). His screed is just that, a screed.

He even makes the circular argument that gun-banners love to make; we do not want to take your guns, but we need more gun control. Hmm. What's wrong with that statement? He says the NRA is throwing gasoline on the fire. But, isn't it more true that the gun-banners are throwing the gasoline if anyone is doing so?

If you're not a member of the NRA (click to join) now, Herbert's editorial should convince you to join. If you don't wish to join, tell me why not.

Friday, June 19, 2009

What I'm Reading Now: Liberal Fascism

Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism (link below) came out in January 2008. It was just released in paperback on June 2. I'm cheap and waited for the price to drop and it was a long wait. Many of you have already read it, so this is for those cheap people like me who waited for the right price point (by the way, what is this thing called libraries?).

I'll preface this brief review with a note. My graduate degree is in history with a concentration in German diplomatic and intellectual history. I know more than a little about the history quoted in Liberal Fascism.

For the most part, Goldberg is pretty close to right, although he selects points that support his thesis leaving other points unanswered. For instance, when he deals with racialist views. He rightly condemns leftists that held these views, but ignores how acceptable these views were in the spirit of the times. Many conservatives would have held the same views.

Goldberg didn't mean for Liberal Fascism to be a history treatise. Instead, he wrote a polemic and as such his book is very effective. His clear writing makes you wonder about so much we've been taught about the truth behind socialism and fascism. It makes you wonder how much our father's and grandfather's generations were imbued with a semi-fascist philosophy that is now coming to a head in this generation.

As Goldberg points out, fascism takes many forms depending on where it's found. Italian and German fascism were different, so it stands that an American fascism would be more different still. Good point. However, I think that applying fascism to the far and not-so-far left is no more useful than when the left calls conservatives fascist. (There is that little shiver of delight to throw the label back at them though.)

I think the term "statist" is much more useful than fascism in describing the left. Bear in mind that Communism, fascism, socialism are all statist. All of them hope to use the state to improve mankind's lot. However, where that improvement takes mankind differs very much depending on the "ism" in question.

Using the state to improve society is fraught with dangers that cannot be ignored. Left-wing people think that if they just create one more welfare program, re-distribute wealth just a little more, adopt identity politics more strongly then we can create social justice. We can abolish poverty, crime, war, and every other bad thing. Of course, they define what is bad (e.g., self-defense because it hurts or kills another person, even if that person was the attacker).

The left resents the right for trying to stop them from using the state to improve society. They call conservatives selfish, unjust, unfair, and worse. They believe that the right is simply trying to protect their prerogatives to further "oppress" the people. They want a collective effort and individuals stand in their way. As that thought takes them further down the statist road, they soon look to using the state to force compliance with their dreams.

That way lies the madness of the guillotine and must be stopped. Society is not perfectible and we must respect the individual as a unique human being and not for his/her role as a member of the collective. That's why this book is so important to read.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Yet Another Sad Panda

The Saturday New York Times presents us with another bleating of a sad, sad panda. This time it's from the editorial board itself. It's about the recent death of the District of Columbia Congressional representation bill. The dreaded "gun lobby" added an amendment that would erase the District's onerous gun laws. Finally, gun-control people in Congress (here's looking at you Eleanor Holmes Norton) killed the bill.

The editorial writers were outraged and pull out every emotional stop. Here's the first paragraph. I took the liberty of illustrating how they try to manipulate the reader. The words in red/bold are emotional triggers used to feed your outrage against the "gun lobby." Green/bold highlights words they use to win sympathy for gun control people.

Congress has shamefully caved in, yet again, to the gun lobby and abandoned the effort to grant the long-suffering District of Columbia a voting representative in the House. Hopes for passage were high this year, until the historic measure was poisoned in the Senate with an amendment to strip the district’s government of its power to enact responsible gun control laws.
It goes on from there including the dubious point that the shooting at the Holocaust Museum illustrates the need for these laws. Hell, the murder illustrates the failure of the laws to prevent such an occurrence.

The editorial contains an out-right lie, "The gun lobby galvanized anti-gun control Republicans and timorous Democrats in both houses to stop the representation bill in its tracks. " Actually, it was pro-gun control supporters who stopped the bill. If it were up to the gun lobby, the bill, including the gun amendment, would have passed--for better or worse, given that District representation is probably unConstitutional.

The editorialists threw some blame at Obama for not standing up to the "gun lobby" and signing "a credit card reform law that included another senseless gun lobby diktat...." allowing licensed people to carry loaded guns in National Parks (there's those emotional heart-tugs again).

There's many more sad panda bleats, but finally they admit that the "gun lobby" is winning. Warms my heart it does.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Making Illegal Things Illegaller

I clicked over to Salon magazine a few minutes ago and saw an editorial by news editor Joan Walsh. There’s a bunch of stuff in it and I don’t have the time to get into it. Just a few samples are in order.

  • She defends the Department of Homeland Security’s recently withdrawn report on right-wing extremism.
  • She points to Holocaust Museum shooter, James von Brunn as an example of whom the report described.
  • She wonders if right-wing talk is inspiring the likes of von Brunn.
One throwaway line in the last paragraph really got me (as if there wasn’t enough heartburn material in her piece). She wonders, “How von Brunn, a felon who'd used a gun in his earlier crime, still had the right to carry a gun, I'll never understand.”

She betrays a very typical liberal ignorance of gun laws with that one statement. Von Brunn had no right to carry a gun. He would commit a felony if he so much as held a gun or possessed one cartridge. It still didn’t stop him from illegaly acquiring a gun and ammunition. Other laws didn’t prevent him from shooting another human being. Other people with guns stopped his attack.

If people want to agitate for gun control that’s their right. But, they should know the gun laws they hope to change. If they don’t, they find out they’re trying to make something that is already illegal, well, illegal. That’s just dumb.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Sad Panda in Boston

Boston Globe columnist Derrick Jackson is shedding tears over the NRA this morning. You see, the NRA is appealing a federal Appeals Court decision that supported Chicago's gun laws. A Supreme Count decision, based on the Heller precedent, could end up overturning Chicago's gun laws.

Jackson fears that "the NRA wants one single, applicable rule of guns anywhere, anytime." Well, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights is the same anywhere, anytime in the United States. Sorry, Mr. Jackson but a right's a right. He cries about recent NRA victories (guns in National Parks, success on prevented a new Assault Weapons ban, etc.). Poor Mr. Jackson, poor tired, sad panda.

Go read the editorial and the comments. But, here's one thing for those gunnies that don't like the NRA for whatever reason: It is an excellent lightning rod for the Derrick Jacksons of the world.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Whittington Center

One of our "must sees" on our vacation was NRA's Whittington Center nestled in the mountains outside of Raton, New Mexico. If you look for it on a map, you'll find it in New Mexico's northeast corner not far from Colorado. We stayed in one of the smaller and rustic cabins on the grounds.

We arrived a little late, but shooting hours are from sun up to sun down. We had plenty of time to burn powder. More about that later.

The Whittington Center is one of America's premier shooting facilities. It boasts 17 ranges for a number of disciplines--rifle, shotgun, and handgun. Some of the ranges close depending on weather or other reasons, but enough were open for us to enjoy an afternoon of shooting. There is also a gift shop, museum, and offices. A few people are lucky enough to live on the grounds. There are no restaurants, so you either bring food or drive four miles to Raton.

The museum is new and worth a stroll. It features many guns and puts them into context with shooting sports. The center also sponsors guided hunts and other activities. By the way, they sell ammo there--no 9mm or .380 to be found.

We must be rain magnets or something, because it rained there and the gate keeper couldn't remember the last time it had rained. And here is the gate:
We checked in and put a few things in the cabin. They don't allow dogs in any of the buildings, so Cooper stayed in the pickup which we drove to the ranges. Most of the pistol ranges were closed, but the Hunter's Pistol Silhouette range was open.

We had never shot silhouette of any kind before and we had a blast. Another couple were shooting at the steel chickens, so we elected to shoot at steel pigs. We didn't attempt to follow any of the rules (shoot from left to right, or keep score, etc.), we just tried to knock the piggies off their steel pedestals.

We used handguns--a 9mm Smith & Wesson for me and for Yosemite his Colt .45 acp. It was a challenge. Yosemite Sam is trying for bacon:

If you're curious, the pigs are 50 yards away. I wish to say that we knocked them down in short order. Nope, we used much hard to find ammo, but we did send a goodly number of the nefarious steel piggies into the dirt. Challenging, but we had a ball. Now, we want to find a nearby silhouette range (any input is welcome, as always).

We packed up and drove to the "sight in" range, which is the paper on racks-type rifle range. We had brought a couple of rifles, my M1 Garand, and Yosemite Sam's 7mm Rem Mag. When we got out of the pickup, we scared a herd of antelope that were grazing on the end berm. They knew it was no longer a good place for them. For me, the antelope is the mascot of the Whittington Center. They're all over the place.

We shot for awhile, but it was cold there. A damp wind had come up and we broke out our jackets. The brisk wind carried rain and it was in the low 40s. Weather like this, in New Mexico in late May! A founder's cabin under glowering skies.

We didn't shoot the next day, but moved on to new places. If you ever have a chance to get to the center, go. Plan an entire day of shooting. Plan a family get-together, a vacation, a "business" trip, or invent any other reason. Just get there and have fun. If you need any more reasons, here's a picture of their 1,000 yard range as seen from our cabin.

Taxes, Work and Vacations

We didn't exactly drop off the face of the Earth after our vacation, not exactly. When we got home we got socked with a boatload of work and a home issue. Work was bad enough, but the home issue was the cherry on the shit sundae.

We went through our mail and Yosemite saw an envelope with an ominous Massachusetts return address. The Massachusetts department of Revenue is auditing two years of our tax returns and wants enough paper to fill a canoe.

During the time we lived in New Hampshire, we both worked in Massachusetts. The state demands taxes on in-state generated income. They claim that holidays, vacations, and sick leave is subject to state taxes. Complicating matters, I traveled a lot for my work and worked in New Hampshire frequently. I can deduct the time I worked out of state, but have to account for it all.

We thought we had all the paperwork we needed and had even hired an accountant to do our taxes. Doesn't matter, they want more. We've been scrambling to satisfy them. I know Massachusetts is hurting financially, but even if they squeeze some more green out of us, it won't make a difference to their bottom line. Just arrrggghhhh.

Now that that's out of the way. I will be posting soon a little bit more about our vacation.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

More Gun Pics

Here's the second installment of some gun p0rn taken at the NRA Convention. Enjoy.

Engraved Henry Rifle
A small selection from a wall of Lugers

Yet another wall of guns, these were old military flintlock and percussion pistols

Shiny 1911s

A future gunnie with a bulldog Gatling

Finally, for the reloader who has a taste for serious cartridges, a Dillon reloading press for .50 cal BMG. That thing will give you an aerobic workout and a complete cartridge at the same time.

Time date is for Mountain Standard Time

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

More Adventures in the Southwest

We've left Phoenix far behind and are doing the tourist thing again. We've seen and done so much already. (Still Blackberry blogging, so no pictures or links--we'll put some up later.)

Yesterday, we stopped at the Meteor Crater. Now that's a hole in the ground. What surpised me the most was the rim. It rises from the desert floor dramitically. The attached musuem was informative and one display allowed you to superimpose the crater over a map of Arizona. It pretty much covered Phoenix and this is a small crater compared to some of those on the moon.

We ended the travel day at the Petrified Forest National Park. The petrified logs are interesting. You're looking at a rock that used to be a living tree. You see knots where branches had been attached, bark, and tree rings--all in stone now. At the gift shop, we bought a little hunk of it. More junk for the mantlepiece, but it's purty. (The source of the petrified wood was from private lands.)

We saw more places and did more than I can mention here. I'm glad we decided to make this one a road trip.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Gun Pics

We are in Gila Bend now at the Space Age Lodge. We're being tourists again. Here is a little NRA Convention gun p0rn for your enjoyment. There are more pics to come as we find places with decent Internet connections.

A trio of cowboy rifles
A .45-70 revolver; some ask "why," others ask "why not"
An engraved version of the .45-70 revolver
Ya want bling, I got your bling--gold plated Tommy Guns, got to love 'em
A very functional .50 caliber
I'll try to get a few more pics up as our travels allow.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


One thing that NRA Conventions have is seminars. This year, topics included sausage making, guns of World War II, concealed carry, identity theft, and others.

The NRA gets experts in a given field to discuss their topics. Yosemite Sam and I attended a workshop on handloading. I reload pistol and shotgun ammo, but I've long refused to reload rifle rounds.

I freely admit that I don't have the patience to do it. However, Yosemite Sam is thinking about getting started.

The presenters did an excellent job explaining all the how-tos. Even more interesting was a panel of industry representatives who shared their expertise in a Q&A session.

Most memorable answer came from Chris Hodgdon of Hodgdon Powder Company when asked how to tell if powder has deteriorated. First, if it has a strong ether smell, it's bad. Second, sprinkle a little on white paper and look for rust colored particles or dust. Finally, if it's warm to the touch, "throw it out yesterday."

He also added that 4th of July is real interesting at his house. I wonder why.

NRA Banquet

Yosemite Sam and I attended the NRA banquet last night. Our only disappointment was the location of our table. They placed all the media/bloggers and some NRA staff (the more junior ones) in the back 40. We weren't at the worst table, but....

One of the staffers mentioned that they were expecting about 5,000 people, but demand was so high, they added another 1,000 seats. It was crowded and that might explain the table location.

Enough griping, we still enjoyed ourselves immensly--well worth the money. John Stossel gave an excellent talk on free enterprise versus main stream media attitudes.

Oliver North gave the keynote speech and was presented with the handmade flintlock. And, yes he channeled Charlton Heston's "cold dead hands" with it.

As I said, a good time, good company, good conversation, good food (braised short ribs and chorizo-stuffed chicken).

This was the second year that they separated the concert from the banquet, so dinner just ended after a young, talented lady sang "God Bless America." We're looking forward to next year.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

LaPierre and Assault Weapons

We're sitting in the Annual Meeting and Wayne LaPierre is discussing the Assault Weapons Ban. The NRA is dedicated to fighting a new AWB. The sent a news crew to the border with Mexico and presented a story on that canard.

One official mentioned a freighter full of AK47s that came to a Mexican port bought by a drug cartel.

I can't promise that the NRA leadership has embrassed black rifles, but they are fighting to prevent a new AWB. Good enough for me.

Informal Seminar on Hunting

The bloggers were treated to an informal discussion of hunting policy given by NRA's Manager of Hunting Policy, Darren Lasorte.

He mentioned several things we gunnies should keep in mind. For instance, 40 percent of gun owners own their guns solely to hunt. I own guns for several reasons, recreation, collecting, self-defence, and hunting. I don't always understand hunters, but I must respect them.

Crossbow hunting can increase the time a person hunts by as much as thirty years. Older people and youngsters can't draw a hunting bow, but can use a crossbow. We need new hunters and retain them.

Finally, Humane Society of US does not care for lost animals, but is a political creature. It has used its name, virtually identical to the Humane Society, to gain members to the expense of the people who do take care of critters.

All in all very informative.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Pains in the Neck

It's my turn to be the sad clown now. Yosemite Sam and I wanted to go to the Ben Avery Shooting Facility north of Phoenix. In fact, it was on my list of must dos.

When we got there this afternoon, we found out they had adopted their summer hours (on May 12 no less) and they are closed this afternoon.

To really put the pain in the neck, the engine light in Yosemite's truck came on. We're now sitting in a PepBoys waiting for news. Sigh.

UPDATE: We finished at PepBoys. The problem was a gummed up throttle linkage. The heat probably softened some old dirt and was giving the linkage fits. The mechanic cleaned the throttle body and sent us on our way, a little poorer.

Convention Crowd

We can't put a picture yet, but we will soon. We checked in and got our media badge which let us get on the exhibit floor before the doors opened.

We listened to Phoenix's mayor welcome the convention. He mentioned that the banquet will be the largest single meal served in Arizona ever--6,000 people.

Then, the doors opened and a surge of people issued forth. This may be the largest convention we've attended.

Maybe it seems that way because of the convention center's architecture, but the registration lines were long, people were queued up at the escalators just to get to the floor. Simply amazing. And this is Friday, usually a slower day.

Soon we will leave the comforts of the press room and brave the crowds. I bet Paul Helmke is a sad panda today.

UPDATE: Here are the promised pictures:
Crowd waiting to register and enter the exhibit hall:

One of the exhibits: The top rifle is an M1 Garand. It was presented to John C. Garand on his retirement and is serial number 1,000,000.

Continuing Adventures

It's Friday. We ended up in a hotel with virtually no Internet connection and a very busy schedule of vacation goodness. We're in Phoenix now. We arrived here late last night--best laid plans and all. We're slowly pulling ourselves out of the vacation mentality and into the convention mentality.

We've had a good vacation. As I said in Monday's post, we stayed and ate dinner at The Big Texan in Amarillo. Here it is in all it's glory:

Note, the white limo. They have a fleet of them to take you to and from the place. Only in Texas.

After Amarillo, we beat feet to Tombstone, Arizona home of staged gunfights, tourist trap souvenir shops, western schlock, and we loved every minute of it. Here's the view from our motel room:

I grew up in a desert state. I felt at home here. We did a few of the typical Tombstone things. We visited Boot Hill, took a stage coach ride, walked on wooden sidewalks, spent money, took in a gunfight show at Six Gun City, and more.

One thing else we did there. We shot real guns at an ingenious shooting gallery, called Big Iron Shooting Gallery in a downtown storefront (link goes to a list of attractions). Someone had the bright idea of swaging brass down to hold small paintballs while still fitting a single-action revolver. A primer drives them out. We had a blast and a good conversation with the person running the place. Good times. Here's a gratuitous Tombstone pic:

We used Tombstone as a base and saw the Pima Air and Space Museum near Tucson where we saw the world' ugliest airplane and a lot more besides:

We did many more things including a trip to a Titan missile launch facility. But, my favorite place was Tombstone itself. I know it is now a cheesy tourist trap, but once past our modern cynicism we enjoyed ourselves. Despite all the souvenir shops, history really happened here. We walked past the Oriental Saloon where Wyatt Earp dealt Faro. We're still watching movies about a certain gunfight that happened in this little town.

Now in Phoenix, we're getting ready to attend the Convention. Talk to you all later.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Morning From Amarillo

We're on the road again to the NRA Convention. I'm writing this from my BlackBerry, so there will be no links. No guarantee on no typos either.

We left Maryland on Saturday morning and drove 806 miles to Jackson, TN. Getting too old for long drives. So Sunday we up and drove 812 more miles to get to Amarillo, TX.

We stayed and ate dinner at The Big Texan Hotel and Restaurant--home of the "free" 72 ounce steak. Eat it all, plus salad, appetizer, potato and it is free along with the bragging rights. Saying we took it on and won would be a good story, but that's all it would be. We ate a much more prosaic dinner.

We're heading to Tombstone, AZ today and just left Amarillo. Another long drive. Pity me.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Vacation in Phoenix

Well, Yosemite Sam and I are getting ready for our annual visit to the NRA Convention. This time it's in Phoenix, Arizona. Once again, we'll be blogging the convention and the Blog Bash. Through the Bash, we'll have media credentials which give us access we wouldn't have otherwise.

We are driving there this year. We're making a road trip of it and will visit many of the wonderful places in this country. We'll post along the way. See you later.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Jimmy Cater and the AWB

Once again, I am late with this post. Oh well, better late than never.

The anti-gun media is pulling out all the stops. They are desperate to win some sort of gun control and frustrated that government, so far, is not listening.

Everywhere you turn news shows, news magazines, and newspapers have some sort of anti-gun story. They mostly concentrate on renewing the so-called “Assault Weapons Ban” and are now flavored with the canard that Mexican drug gangsters are buying machine guns, grenades, and other equipment from American gun stores and shows.

This time, the New York Times enlisted a gun owner, hunter, Nobel Peace Prize winner, and former U.S. president. None other than Jimmah Carter. He writes about hanging a hand-made musket in his White House office, his two handguns, rifles, and shotguns. Then he goes on and bashes anyone who owns a rifle with modern styling.

To him and to too many gunowners like him, the only purpose for a modern rifle is to kill cops. This is what we have to fight. We know that black rifles are used for serious competition, hunting, plinking, and many other legitimate activities. We know that only about 2% of criminals were arrested with military-style semi-autos.

This illustrates a problem of perception. Non-gun owners, misinformed gun owners, out-and-out Fudds—which I define as those who own guns, but actively work to ban certain types of guns—and anti-gunnies fear these rifles. Facts and figures are dismissed (as Jimmy Carter does here) in favor of emotional arguments. They state that these guns are cop-killers. That somehow bullets from black rifles can pass through police armor while bullets from their more powerful but old style rifles are stopped.

Telling the truth about these popular rifles doesn’t seem to help. Showing pictures of pre-ban and post ban rifles doesn’t seem to help. Anti-black rifle people have made up their minds.

Perhaps our best recourse is to take someone shooting and present them the opportunity to shoot an AR-15 or AK clone. Then tell them that the rifle that they just shot is one of those that would be banned. They will be surprised and perhaps enlightened. Too bad most would never go shooting in the first place.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Washington, D.C. Tea Party

I was able to attend part of the Washington, D.C. Tea Party today. There were actually two scheduled, one in Lafayette Park (near the White House) and the other in front of the Treasury Building, which is right next to Lafayette Park. Probably some overlap between the two scheduled parties.

I had an errand in downtown D.C. I arrived about 11:30 and though I was early, it was going strong. I have no idea how to estimate crowds, but there were at least a couple of hundred people there. I had to leave about 12:30 and there were many people with signs on their way to the park. It was a good turnout and press people had cameras rolling. It was also a rainy, cold day with temperatures in the high 40s.

One problem, the PA system did not broadcast as loud as it should have. I heard very little of the speeches. Granted, I'm hard of hearing, but others were shouting out, "Louder, louder." Tea Party organizers will need to keep this kind of thing in mind and avoid further frustration.

So without further ado, here are the pics (all taken with a Blackberry, could not bring a better camera):

John Galt came for a visit. Both Yosemite Sam and I recently read Atlas Shrugged so I decided to lead with this sign:
Here is a view of a sparse area of the crowd facing the back of the speaker's tent:

Crowd and the skies that were weeping on us:

Young protestor getting interviewed:

This sign has a very good point and tosses back Obama's campaign slogan at him:
Obama as Urkel:

Finally, someone spent some time on their Tea Party sign:

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Emergency: A Gunnie Book Review

I first heard about this book at Michael Bane’s site. Bane’s review got me interested enough to buy and read it. Meanwhile, Smallest Minority reviewed it and mentioned it, so this is a double, maybe even triple, “me too” post.

Emergency: This Book Will Save Your Life, by Neil Strauss is not a survival manual. It has a few pointers in a continuing comic strip that includes some useful ideas; how to cut flexi-cuffs with paracord (only if whomever cuffed you is dumb enough to restrain hands in front), how to turn a credit card into a knife, how to make a ghillie suit, etc. Beyond these rudimentary points there is little that will actually save your life.

Instead, Emergency is about a liberal writer’s voyage into self-reliance. Strauss grew up in Chicago where if you needed to fix something you called the building super, if you needed to defend yourself you called a cop. After 9/11 and Katrina he began to fear dying in a disaster. As a lefty, he feared that “Bushco” could somehow force into cattle cars and blamed Bush for a slow Katrina response. He wanted to do something that could help him avoid such a fate.

He looked for a way to get a second citizenship (and eventually succeeded) in case he needed to bolt the country. He realized that if he needed to do so, he would have to survive until he could make it to his second country. He began collecting information and attending classes.

Along the way, he learned that not everything was as it seemed. He learned in Los Angeles’s CERT training that government would take three or more days to really help people. So much for Bush and Katrina.

He decided he needed to learn how to shoot and went to Guncite for training. He wanted to learn how to live off the land and went to Tom Brown Jr.’s tracking school. He realized he might need to provide medical assistance to himself or others and became an Emergency Medical Technician. He learned knife skills and how to slaughter a goat.

Along the way, he found out that to become self-reliant he had to rely on many people who had the skills to teach him. He also became a better citizen. He became someone who could and did stop at an accident scene and give aid.

He never gave up on his politics and I no longer agree with those politics. Yes, I gave him a couple or few dollars when I bought his book, but he has lessons to teach.

Chief among these lessons is that you must learn to survive from other people. Books can only take you so far. As Tom Brown said (quoted on p.253), “You can walk into any store and there are buy five survival manuals you can buy that will kill you.”

It behooves anyone who is interested in learning what it takes to become a small-s survivalist to read this book. It outlines a journey that many of us could take if we had the time and money.