Wayne LaPierre, Asshole

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” said Wayne LaPierre, the N.R.A.’s vice president and most visible spokesperson. Gee, Wayne, thanks for the sound byte, but fuck you. There are many things that stop a bad guy with a gun.

The bad guy might have a conscience after all.
Or he might think he’s right, and you’re wrong. And he might be right.
Much criminal activity, especially armed robbery, is drug related. How’s that War on Drugs coming, Wayne?
He might have forgotten to tie his shoelaces.
He might not be able to run as fast as you.

In short, there are many things that can stop a bad guy with a gun. But the point is, don’t you remember how recently we all laughed at Westerns on TV because they showed a populace where everyone was armed and carrying — but people still got shot down like clay pigeons. 

This speech, or performance, is pathetic.
Wayne LaPierre wants armed cops in every school. Amish ones, too, one presumes.

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December 18 solar flare.

Dec. 18 2012

via dec18_2012_east.jpg (JPEG Image, 1075 × 952 pixels) – Scaled (65%).

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Stop making sense!

Ah, the NRA.  The Gun Culture.  What a whole bunch of strange, strange motivations lead people to own guns.  But I won’t get into that here.  My intent in this essay is to follow an NRA argument to its logical conclusion, which will become, in effect, a reductio ad absurdam.  I will construct this argument in classic Socratic form.

Q. I’m sure you have good reasons for owning your guns.  One might be hunting, which you call sport; another might be what you’d call self-defense, both from criminals and from a tyrannical government.  These two reasons are among yours, are they not?

A. They are.  To which I would add the purely aesthetic aspect of gun ownership: the feeling that comes with owning a very high quality precision instrument.

Q. I would like to ask you about the self-defense from criminals and tyrants.  Is a pistol good for such work?

A. Well, that all depends on the number and a whole lot of other factors.  But basically yes.

Q. Is a rifle better suited to fighting a tyrannical government?

A. Absolutely.  The more caliber, the more shots, the better.

Q. I thought so.  Then a semi-automatic rifle is very well suited to this purpose?

A. Yes.

Q. But not hunting.

A. I’d hope not!

Q. But if your enemy has a fully automatic weapon with 500 rounds per clip, would it not be best for you to have equal firepower?

A. Yes.

Q. You have just stated a need for equality of firepower.  Since this is a requisite for self defense in the face of a tyrant, is it also true that you would hold that owning such weapons is well within the rights of an American, under the 2nd Amendment’s guarantee of arms ownership?

A. Yes.

Q. Then the need is unlimited, because the struggle for equality of armaments will always be subject to one-upsmanship.  Eventually, you will have to argue for legal ownership of nuclear weapons.

A. That’s ridiculous!  I never said I supported any such thing, and you’re stretching your logic to extend to an area in which it does not have reason to be.

Q. I think I’ve backed you into a corner, and now you’re trying to create a new room.  You lose.



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K2ADK – Callsign Lookup by QRZ.COM

Click to shrink…K2ADK USA flag USA

via K2ADK – Callsign Lookup by QRZ.COM.

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The truth.

Children get mowed down like clay pigeons just so adults with sexual inadequacy issues can play with guns and make themselves feel virile enough to face life.

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After the Newtown murders, the debate must change.

I used to have some sort of general understanding that a mix of gun control laws would more or less provide us with an acceptable degree of safety, while affording gun enthusiasts an opportunity to engage in their so-called sport.

After the Newtown murders of 20 little children and some heroic school personnel, I cannot in good conscience claim to have that understanding any longer.

The NRA has successfully defined the entire debate for the last 50 years or longer. They claim it is a 2nd Amendment right. Then they go on to —- hey, wait a minute. Let’s examine that Constitutional claim. Let’s not let the NRA begin the debate with terminology that they have defined.

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Let me begin a logical argument. Arms, as defined by those living at the close of the 18th Century, were so rudimentary in comparison to today’s weapons that nobody but the most peculiar gun collector would even have such a gun in his or her possession. Yet it is these weapons that the Framers had in mind when they ratfied the 2nd Amendment. No firearm created thereafter could genuinely be said to be the opinion of any of the Framers. 

“Oh, no!” say the NRA enthusiasts. “Arms are arms, and the Supreme Court in 2010 separated the well regulated militia from the individual right to own guns. So the issue is not as you define it.”

Okay, NRA. Let’s follow your reasoning to its conclusion. I want to own a nuclear bomb, because I just like to know that I have it. I also want to own hand grenades, surface-to-air missiles, anti-tank weapons too. What, I can’t? Is that not an infringement of my Constitutional rights?

“Don’t push it. We in the NRA know you can have no legitimate reason for wanting any of that.”

But what is your ‘legitimate reason’ for owning a semi-automatic rifle?

“Hunting! And hey, let’s not forget, for protection from a tyrannical state, if we ever need it.”

Well, won’t hand grenades, nuclear weapons, SAMs, and anti-tank weapons come in handy in that eventuality? The point is, since the Framers of the Constitution had no idea what a semi-automatic weapon was, they could not legislate about it. Nor did they legislate about automobiles, and for the same reason. Yet nobody questions the right of the government to legislate every aspect of automobile design and mileage. If the NRA hadn’t already hijacked the 2nd Amendment, claiming it was pretty darn visionary of them Framers to protect their Glocks, we would be able to have a sane discussion about gun control. But we can’t, because they own the argument.

I am sick of it. This event has touched me deeply, and as a 2nd grade teacher, I can’t just pretend there’s nothing I can do about it. Yes there is. I can start writing letters to start a campaign to outlaw guns entirely. No more of this bullshit about gun control. Our culture is dominated by adults to a degree not heretofore seen, due to better medicine, no wars, and longer life expectancy — mixed with lower fertility rates. So the entire entertainment world is geared to adults. Adults own Christmas, Halloween, and everything in between.

It’s time to let kids have their world back. That means adults have to give up their toys. Their guns. Now is the time to start this movement. Don’t let it slip away; never forget Newtown.

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Thanksgiving thoughts.

Well, my brother posted something on Facebook recently saying, roughly, “Don’t shop on Thanksgiving because you’re depriving those store workers of a day spent at home with their families.” My initial thought was, Wow, I completely agree with you, brother. But then, as I do so often, I thought again.

First thing I did this morning was pee. As I accomplished this vital task, it occurred to me that someone must be working at the sewage treatment plant today, or else my pee will be going directly into the Saranac River. I looked at the bathroom light: thank you, National Grid workers, for being on the job, keeping my electricity flowing. And thank you, Time Warner workers, for keeping the servers running so I can put this piddly post online.

So, really, one can’t be so holy about it and think that, by staying home, we’re giving everyone time to be home. (And besides, what do most families do on holidays, anyway? Drink!) No matter what we do, our daily life requires people we’ll never see to be working without our thanks. 

Well, thanks, everybody. And Happy Thanksgiving to all.

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Book recommendation

Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed AmericaRising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America by John M. Barry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Every now and then, I read a book that changes the way I perceive the world. One such book was The Power Broker, by Robert Caro. Before I read that, a highway was just a highway. After, a highway in New York was an expression of one man’s megalomania, one man’s best and most honorable intentions gone haywire. 

Rising Tide is even more eye-opening. I don’t want to spill the beans, but let me just share how surprised I was at this book. 

I picked it up in a used book store for $7. Often I take a chance on a book specifically because I’m absolutely certain it’s not something I’ll ever find interesting. Sometimes I’m right; more often, I’m enlightened and delighted. So when I bought Rising Tide, it was in the belief that there was nothing really interesting about the Mississippi Flood of 1927 aside from what probably were going to be some cool human interest stories.

I could not have been more wrong. Yes it’s a book about the flood and the tragedy the ensued. But the change it wrought in America is indisputable and absolutely relevant to today’s politics. Barry tells this tale in a most riveting manner: you’ll not want to put this one down.

View all my reviews

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The Veterans’ Day Curmudgeon

I hope I’m not alone in saying this, but I think Veterans’ Day is a bunch of bullshit.

Not just because we already have Memorial Day, which is like Veterans’ Day with nice weather. No; rather, because I don’t want to thank every person who wears or who wore a uniform. 

If you fought in World War 2, I’m all for it. I’ll cheer and come to your parades, even honor you at a funeral. But Iraq? Afghanistan? Well, that’s more problematic. Soldiers who are fighting there are doing more damage to American interests than if they had stayed at home. 

Me, I think the country should mind its own business. That way, we have a whole lot fewer Veterans, and a lot less to mourn.

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Why I’m against Rails to Trails.

Trains. Railroads. No other form of transportation has been so loved and so hated; so fondly remembered and so hotly discarded from memory. But Rails to Trails is not about memories nor transportation: it’s about the great modern god, ENTERTAINMENT. Whether taking the Adirondack Scenic Railroad or riding your bicycle from Saranac Lake to Tupper (good luck with the scenery along that route!), it’s all about what we do in our free time. Bicycling takes more effort than riding in a snowmobile, and riding in a snowmobile takes more effort than sitting in a train: but they are all forms of entertainment.

The ASR (Adirondack Scenic Railroad) has not been a rousing success, as measured by the number of riders. An 8 mile stretch of track that passes not terribly much that is scenic: who expects such a thing to work? It’s like getting people to ride a ferry for fun. So, should we abandon the railroad and make the world safe for bicyclists along the old railroad bed, or should we get the railroad out of ferry status and back into full operation as a trunk line linking the New York – Albany – Utica – Chicago corridor to the Tri-Lakes?

If you said bicycling, you’re wrong. There already are bicycle paths in our area: Bloomingdale Bog, the old D & H tracks, that passes through Onchiota and on out to Loon Lake, to name just one. This trail, though it is well marked, well maintained, and publicized, is every bit as underused as a driveway to an abandoned farmhouse. Is it because the access points are remote? Lake Clear, Bloomingdale, Onchiota: these are not served by state and county highways?  Of late, we’ve seen a barrage of pro-bike path articles in local newspapers.  2,000 signatures on a petition for bike paths in the railbed were obtained during Iron Man.  Study after study, paid for by pro-bike groups, shows millions of new tourist dollars and tens of thousands of new tourists.  This is an illusion, taking data from states and areas that have nothing in common with ours.  Try doing a search on Bike Paths and see if you can’t find a report whose prose is falling over itself to declare bicycling paths the surest road to economic prosperity — even tax relief! Cui bono?

The simple fact is this: many of the bicyclists you see in the Tri-Lakes are training for the 90 Miler, the Tin Man, or Iron Man. They’re not tourists, and they don’t want to train on a flat railroad bed. They’re certainly not using the old D & H railbed.  By going Rails to Trails, we’re just creating another empty corridor.

If, however, we used state and federal dollars to rehabilitate the tracks all the way from Saranac Lake to Utica, what then might we expect? Well, just do a search for the term “passenger railroad spur lines” and see what you get. Creating a spur line is one of the most popular ways under consideration to bring business and tourist dollars to a given location. You’ll see communities in Iowa, South Carolina, Mississippi, all jockeying to get railroad lines rehabilitated before they become too dilapidated to be of any value. Is any one of these states as varied, as beautiful, or as visited, as New York? There are things in Heaven and Earth that you haven’t thought of or dreamed about, Horatio: but imagine, if you will, making a rail line just a day trip for the busiest transportation corridor of the state? Imagine how convenient it would be for Tri-Lakes residents to travel to Chicago, Albany, or in between? No longer would we have to drive down Route 73, take the right onto the ramp in North Hudson, head south for an hour and a half. We’d have that right here. And tourists all over the NYC – ALB – CHI corridor would have a convenient way of getting here, without the cramped quarters of a bus, and without the trouble of an airport.

This is not a debate about which form of entertainment is qualitatively better: it is about what makes the most economic sense. Rails to Trails does not fit the bill: a rehabilitated and extended railroad line does.

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