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The World Is Not As It Should Be

I’ve followed Megan McArdle since her days as a self-publishing penurious blogger through her gigs at the Atlantic, the Daily Beast, and now Bloomberg News. I don’t always agree with her, but she’s a thoughtful writer. And her comments are refreshingly multi-partisan (to the point of ideologues from all points of the political compass calling her a hack for their enemies.)

One article that recently caught my eye started from a discussion of the recent revelations that, yes, Virginia, some people will hack other people’s cloud storage accounts and distribute them far and wide. She then segues into why we can’t social engineer away crime:

[Y] ou cannot possibly subscribe to the idea that only social sanctions, well-designed law-enforcement penalties and a more equitable welfare policy stand between us and a nearly-crime-free utopia.

The point is that crime still happens even when everyone agrees that it is wrong, and crime still goes unpunished even when we would very much like to punish it. That’s because many people are … well, something that’s not printable on a family blog. Let’s just say that a troublesome minority of people will ignore basic decency and morality and do terrible, wrong things to get what they want.

The conclusion of the piece is one that I think readers here will agree with. “It is not “victim blaming” to urge their targets to protect themselves from that threat.” All together, a nice justification of the right to self defense.

The Best Kind of Correct

Ce n’est pas un fusil

It is what you get when you have to rules-lawyer around a 80-year old law intended to prevent ownership of anything that wasn’t a hunting or fowling piece by the poor, then clumsily edited by politicians to exempt handguns when it turned out that an effectively-complete ban on anything that was smaller than a breadbox was politically untenable.

Now, Linoge notes that there are two pieces of arcane interpretation of unclear law that make this a pistol instead of Any Other Weapon or a Short-Barreled Rifle; and that the BATFE could change their minds at any time. I have to wonder, though, if the BATFE is wary of doing so given that the arcanities of the GCA that separate those three categories are actually quite hard to explain to the layman judge; and that they might have some difficulty keeping a prosecution based on where the lines were drawn in their own admin proceedings these days…

Historically, the BATFE has preferred to rule by interpretation rather than regulation, probably because there’s less oversight on that process. But it has bitten them in the nethers a few times, and with the decade-long trend of various pro-firearms-rights organizations willing to actually make federal cases out of infringements, I have to wonder if the BATFE permanent leadership is a little leery of what might happen in a real court instead of their administrative proceedings.

As a side note, I want one; but may not have one as long as I live in NJ. As a pistol, it’s way over the line of being an “assault firearm” (A semi-automatic pistol with a detachable magazine that has a magazine outside the handgrip, barrel shroud, weight of 50 oz or more, AND is probably a semi-automatic version of a fully-automatic firearm, well more than the 2 strikes permitted). Which reminds me, does anyone know why the federal ban and its imitators has that odd weight restriction?

Glad to See Tam Back

Tam is blogging again, though with comments switched off, which is just fine by me since other bloggers don’t have time to read or make comments to begin with. Those who were following closely probably saw the viles of 100% Grade A unadulterated crazy left scattered around the blogosphere (including here until I nuked it) by the source of all this. Putting up with crap like that on top of putting up content every day is a tough lot, so if you care to encourage Tam to continue on, hit the tip jar on her sidebar.

Engagement

I am (perhaps unsurprisingly) a constant customer of Baen Books, both in the era of its founding by Jim Baen and now under the able leadership of Toni Weisskopf. They print books that entertain me, though the Baen logo is neither a necessary nor a sufficient guarantee that I will be entertained. In the past year or so, a cultural conflict in the Science Fiction domain has brewed up, another theater in the overall culture war. Diatribes have been written, ably and poorly, by all combatants as well as their allied hosts. Toni has this particular one, and Sarah Hoyt has reprinted it someplace I can easily link to. It’s long, and a lot of it is domain-specific, but the conclusion has relevance to the RKBA culture war. Emphasis is mine

But are the popular awards worth fighting for? I’m not sure our side has ever really tried, though there are indications that previous attempts to rally readers of non-in-group books were thwarted in ways that were against the rules of the game. And yet, to quote Heinlein, “Certainly the game is rigged. Don’t let that stop you. If you don’t bet, you can’t win.”

I think the problem is that folks just really feel they have no possible conversation with the other side any more, that the battle for this part of the culture isn’t worth fighting. And I think again SF is mirroring the greater American culture. Our country is different because it, like science fiction fandom, was built around an idea—not geographic or linguistic accident, but an idea—we hold these truths to be self evident. And it is becoming more and more obvious that the two sides of American culture no longer share a frame of reference, no points of contact, no agreement on the meaning of the core ideas.

And yet, I can’t help but think that at some point, you have to fight or you will have lost the war. The fight itself is worth it, if only because honorable competition and conflict leads to creativity, without which we, science fiction, as a unique phenomenon, die.

This is why I blog, I engage in arguments and debates (and a little bit of trolling as well) in comment sections and on Facebook (and on Twitter back when I still had the energy). You have to fight or you will have lost the war. Despite the famous line, they can take our freedoms. But we have to remember what the actual objective is. The objective is not to crush your enemies, see them driven before you, or hear the lamentations of their supporters. That might be a side effect, but the objective is to regain our freedoms and build the institutions that will support and protect them in the coming generations. And to do that we have to convince the undecided. To do that, we have to engage, have discussions with outsiders where it can be seen. And, of course, we have to both be and appear to be correct and reasonable.

Re-introduction

I’m Ian Argent, a long-time commenter and occasional contributor. I used to blog at my own place (The Lair), but that basically petered out late last year due to a confluence of events in my life. The itch to blog, however, never really went away, though; so when I saw that Sebastian was having to spend more time on the job and less on blogging, I offered to add a little content here, and he accepted. Of course, I meant to have a few more posts in the hopper before I went incommunicado last week, but I wasn’t happy with anything but the Management ones, and the second post was incomplete until tonight.

Anyway, as it says on my Blogger profile:

I was born below the Mason-Dixon line and lived in various exotic locales, being raised by globe-trotting, gun-owning hippies on an literary diet mostly composed of Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, WWII history books, and NOW propaganda. I’ll leave y’all to guess which had the most influence on me… I’m now an armed and conservative resident of The Great Garden State of New Jersey, and can be found arguing for the fun of it on message boards and comment sections across the internet.

Another One Hangs it Up

That is, of course, the fact that Tam has hung it up and nuked her blog (it’s the only way to be sure).  A View from the Porch started around the same time this blog did, and eight years is a long run. Tam has been a daily stop for just about as long as she came across my radar, and I will certainly miss the free ice cream. But I can’t say I blame her.

It is an unfortunate circumstance for the hobbyist that blogging is something that has largely been professionalized. There are not very many hobby bloggers left out there. When I look around at the gun blogosphere in particular, there aren’t many left standing, and I have a feeling those of us who are spend more time these days wondering whether this is really a good use of our time than we used to. There are several professional blogs in the gun blogosphere now, but the only two I really like is Bearing Arms & TFB, both of whose main contributors started as hobbyists. (Yes, yes, there;’s also Gun Nuts, but I’ve never put Caleb’s outfit squarely in the professional space. To me if you start as a hobbyist, you stay a hobbyist, unless you sell your blog for big money to a media company)

It is very difficult as a hobbyist to keep up with people who do this gig professionally. I think for the gun community, the commercialization of blogs is both a good sign and a bad one.  It good because it means that there’s enough eyeballs that people see money making potential, but the gun blogosphere community I started in has all but disappeared. I think we do lose something putting the gun issue in the hands of professionals rather than having it driven by grassroots folks who just have a passion for the issue, even if there’s no money in it.

Welcome to our Guest Blogger

Ian Argent has generously offered to do some guest blogging while I’m busy trying to recuse clients from untoward disaster. Ian has guest blogged on here before when Bitter and I were in Hawaii back in 2010. He also blogged, before he got really busy (having kids and all), at his own publication: The Lair.

I had planned a big announcement with fireworks, mariachi bands, and giant fighting lizards, but Ian hit the “Publish” button instead of the “Save” button on his first post by accident, before the announcement could be made. I’m sorry to say that was a violation of the lizards’ contract and they cancelled, so here is just this announcement instead.

Ian is currently a resident of the People’s Republic of New Jersey, and also a gun owner, so have pity on him. Like many people, he is trapped behind the Iron Curtain for now. As am I, at least for several hours each week until my current engagement completes (sometime in September, at least I think).

Some Unfortunate News

I just got a call from Clayton Cramer from the hospital. It seems he had a mild heart attack, and then a mild stroke due to the angioplasty procedure to deal with the blockage in his heart. This quite surprised me given that he’s been doing so well since his aortic valve replacement.

He asked me to post this, since his blog won’t be updated for a few days and he wanted everyone to know what happened. Clayton has been a great contributor to the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, so any thoughts and/or prayers you can send his way are appreciated. For a guy that just had a stroke that affected speech, he was pretty intelligible on the phone, so I’m hopeful he will make a speedy recovery.

Beeping, Blinking and Flashing!

It’s nearly 2AM, and my work was interrupted about an hour and a half ago because a relatively mild storm knocked our power out. I was this frigging close || to ending the crisis at the client and getting us some breathing room. It amazes me I weathered Irene and Sandy without losing power, and now I’m pushing two hours being out from a practically nothing storm. I have three UPSes to power my whole operation at the home office, and when things start running down, I feel like this:

We’ve already run down the UPS that powers the server. That’s on double backup, which consists of a marine deep cell battery with a 300W inverter. The blog will stay up as long as that lasts, but in the morning if we still don’t have power, it’s generator time.

Juggling More Flaming Torches

Today I started an engagement at a new client, so my blogging schedule is going to be thrown for a loop while I try to figure out how to work everything in. It’s high-performance computing work though, so there’s not much of a learning curve, and I can hit the ground running. But starting a new client is still pretty much like starting a new job, and I still have my current work to do as well.

For the past few years I’ve been working on special projects internally, trying to develop a product pipeline that can sustain the company more reliably than billable hours. But thanks to the awful winter we lost a boatload of money in the first quarter, so volunteered to go billable for a bit to help make it up. Everyone else on my projects has to juggle billable hours with internal project work, and I didn’t think I should be any different.

Unlike our opponents, who do this for a living, or who are stinking rich enough to not need employment, I have a mortgage to pay, and I like eating better than ramen. This first week might be a little rough blog wise, but I’m working with Bitter to help make up the short-fall. After that I should have a new schedule figured out and things will appear to return mostly to normal.

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