It Takes a Special Breed of Crazy

I’ve always been amazed by what the Coast Guard is willing to put themselves in. A hurricane? Let’s get some boats and helicopters out, because there are fools out there who need some rescuing. Swimming in storm surge? No problem.

And then you have this. Mother nature is a pretty relentless enemy, and no amount of military technology can overcome her. If it is rough men who stand ready to do violence on our behalf that let us sleep at night, it’s crazy and fearless men who stand by to rescue on our behalf that allow us to behave recklessly without consequence. God bless them.

Bye Bye Blogads

Blogads had caused performance issues on the blog before, and today it was taking the blog down for periods of time, meaning it’s time to say goodbye to Blogads. Taking my blog down is not something I tolerate, and it was very seldom we sold an ad through them. When we did, my rate of return was less than it is with Google Adsense. So I have now just embedded the Google AdSense ads directly, instead of running them through BlogAds. Sorry if that was causing problems for you all today.

UPDATE: Seems it’s related to Hurricane Sandy. If your business is dependent on reliability 24/7, you really need to have redundant sites, so if one goes down you still have continuity.

MAIG Digging in my Old Backyard

Various MAIG mayors are pushing Lost and Stolen in the Delaware County Daily Times. These mayors should be forced to own up to MAIG’s radical positions on issues like concealed carry:

Ambler Mayor Bud Wahl, Hatboro Mayor Norm Hawkes, Jenkintown Mayor Ed Foley, Pottstown Mayor Bonnie Heath, Souderton Mayor John Reynolds and Telford Mayor Jay Stover are members of Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

If you live in these towns, work to get these mayors out. Exploiting a tragedy to push an unrelated agenda items is above the pale. If “Lost and Stolen” were really effective against criminals, how come there have been zero prosecutions from the towns that claimed this was a necessary ordinance to pass? It’s a useless law, who’s only result is going to be the punishing of people who were legitimately victims of crime. It is not “common sense” legislation. It is useless legislation, as been demonstrated by the lack of effectiveness it’s shown at the local level.

Lets Get This Farce Over With

I can’t wait until next Tuesday. Not because I am looking forward to casting my ballot, or for the excitement of seeing who won, but because I want this election to be over. This has been one of the most obnoxious media cycles for an election year in recent memory. For the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to tune out election related news, most of which generally involve reading tea leaves based on this poll or that poll. There’s only one poll that matters, and that’s the one that happens next Tuesday.

I’m a Gun Guy, But …

Conor Whetsel, a person currently involved with the occupy movement, thinks the Louisiana RKBA measure on the ballot is dangerous, and also unnecessary because there’s already a Second Amendment. He notes:

During my military service, I was highly trained in weapons and tactical shooting, but even I doubt my own abilities to neutralize a threat in a classroom of hundreds of students; therefore, I highly doubt the ability of novice shooters to do the same. No amount of hunting, and practice at the range will prepare a student to make the life or death decisions necessary in a tactical shooting scenario.

I decided to check this guy out, and he did indeed serve in the military. How much do US Navy Petty Officers who work in the mail room of a ship receive advanced firearms training? I do not mean to denigrate service in a mail room aboard a ship; it is a fine and noble service to this country. But if, in the realm of public policy, you pass yourself off as a highly sophisticated military tactical shooter with an expert opinion, you have some ‘splainin to do if your resume says you worked in the mail room. I’m willing to be educated here by those of you with naval experience, if the Navy spends time and money to make their mail clerks expert tactical shooters, but color me skeptical.

I generally tend to be skeptical of anti-gunners claiming gunny credentials. I advise everyone else to do the same. Don’t trust, verify.

Sometimes the Media Surprises You

I’m surprised to see USA Today running an op-ed by Wayne LaPierre before the election that takes issue with a previous anti-gun editorial regarding the election. Traditionally, it’s been rather difficult for NRA to get opinion pieces placed with hostile media outlets. I guess the mainstreaming of the issue has its advantages.

In Storm Deaths, It’s Mostly Bad Decision Making

I didn’t plan on blogging much more about Sandy, but then I made the mistake of reading a NYT profile of several deaths related to the storm. The headline reads like they were all simply unavoidable tragedies: “In Storm Deaths, Mystery, Fate and Bad Timing.”

The only problem is that they highlight two deaths in detail with profiles of the victims, but neither of those deaths were “mystery, fate, [or] bad timing.” They were consequences of very bad decisions.

The first pair of deaths the NYT focuses on is of two 20-somethings who decided to walk a dog. Okay, Sandy was a pretty long storm, so it’s understandable that the dog might need to be let out on the lawn at some point either before the storm really got going or as it was dying down. Nope. These two brilliant folks decided to go out at about 8pm (pretty much the worst part of the storm) and walk the dog under some really massive trees. At least the dog survived.

The second instance they profile I had initially seen reported last night as a woman who accidentally stepped in a puddle that was electrified. That would truly be an accident of bad timing. However, with a few more facts, we learn that wasn’t really the true scope of the story. Apparently, a giant power line came down in the neighborhood and was wildly sparking. The 20-something decided to grab her camera (also around the height of the storm) and run toward the sparking power line so she could get a picture. Responsible neighbors who were monitoring the situation from the safety of their homes apparently ended up witnessing a horrific sight when she ended up running into part of the wire and caught fire. Obviously, no witnesses could do anything in the dangerous situation, and it took emergency crews nearly half an hour to arrive while she burned.

Now, I’m not heartless, so I do feel sympathy for the family and friends of the victims. However, I can also recognize that in these cases, based on the facts the NYT has presented from witnesses, the loss to those family and friends can be directly attributed to supremely unwise decisions made by the deceased individuals. I’m irritated at the NYT because it doesn’t do us any good to call these deaths cases of bad timing. That doesn’t help others learn from the situations. It’s pretty clear by these deaths that there are plenty of people who need to learn that electricity is not some magic thing that you chase after for a fun picture and wind can kill.

Google Alerts Becoming Useless

I’m surprised, lately, by how much decent news Google passes by. It’s easy for anyone with an Internet site, who isn’t a traditional blog, to get categorized as news, even if the content they are producing is shit no one reads, or would want to read. The signal to noise ratio has become quite high.

A Journalists Lament

A reporter for the New Republic wonders why, just like shooting tragedies don’t lead to discussions about gun control, why bad storms don’t lead to discussions about climate change. This, of course, makes me greatly amused by this ad:

Support thought-provoking, quality journalism. Join The New Republic for $3.99/month.

That’s worth a laugh, for sure. But you see the attitude that drives it. The gun control crowd says my owning a gun contributes to the climate of mass shootings. That’s just fanciful nonsense to anyone who stops and thinks. That’s about as ridiculous as suggesting that my owning a car contributed to Sandy. Could there be greater societal and climatological processes at work here that we ought to be talking about? Sure. But you can’t point to a single storm, or a single mass shootings, and draw broad conclusions.

On Washington’s Republicanism

From the Library of Law, W.B. Allen writing, well worth reading in full:

To try to create within oneself that same resonance, one might recall that self government does not mean majority rule – for any of the American Founders. While it certainly does include the processes of majority rule ultimately, that is only a mechanism, a means – not what was being aimed at. What he meant by self government was rather more a moral conception, such as he expressed in his Farewell, when he eulogized the people as “now” loving to be “one people,” and now governing themselves. At that moment, at least, they became in Washington’s eyes a republic, and had also to accept the responsibility for its perpetuation. Washington’s Farewell is truly a masterpiece in literary craftsmanship.

In modern times we have nearly completely lost the idea of republican virtue. It’s not something even really thought about anymore, but the Founders thought it was essential if the United States was going to succeed. You will hardly ever hear politicians use the term “private morality.” Both the left and right believe in public morality, but merely differ in what they believe public morality is. But before libertarians get too pleased, I believe there are many things about libertarian philosophy that the Founders would likewise find to be unvirtuous. Like I said, republican virtue seems to be a bit of a lost concept.