Happy Independence Day

I hope everyone has a happy and safe Independence Day. Yesterday I went to the Amish market to pick up some spare ribs. I just St. Louis cut them and put them on the smoker. The tips I cook on the lower rack of the smoker. I’ll pick all the inedibles out of the tips, and then find some creative way way to use them.

But let’s not forget what the holiday is really about, especially as polls show that Americans are losing pride in their country. I have to admit that these days, I’m not really feeling it either. It’s worthwhile to take a look at the injuries and usurpations and see how many our current federal leviathan and it’s current White House occupant is guilty of:

  • He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good. [Obama doesn’t have much of a veto record, actually]
  • He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them. [Check] [Check]
  • He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only. [Not really relevant in our current federal system]
  • He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures. [Fatiguing us into compliance? Never!]
  • He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people. [Our system doesn’t allow this.]
  • He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within. [Again, our system doesn’t allow this.]
  • He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands. [Not really relevant in the modern context]
  • He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers. [The constitution does this in our system.]
  • He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries. [Nope. Our current Supreme Court has self-immolated.]
  • He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance. [Check, check, oh hell yes check]
    He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures. [Check, but every President since FDR has done this.]
    He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power. [Not yet, thank God.]
  • He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
    • For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us: [Do these assholes count?]
    • For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States: [Check. Just ask the people at Waco, or the Terry family.]
    • For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world: [Nope]
    • For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent: [Obamacare, It’s a tax!]
    • For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury: [Check]
    • For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences [Check]
    • For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies: [Pretty specific to the time.]
    • For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments: [Fundamentally transformed]
    • For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever. [Fortunately, no]
  • He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us. [No]
  • He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people. [No, at least not literally]
  • He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation. [Nope]
  • He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands. [Impressment isn’t happening today]
  • He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions. [Not literally, but I could rewrite this to apply to today’s context:
    He has excited domestic strife among us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our flyover states, the merciless Chicago political savages, whose known rule of politics, is an undistinguished destruction of all all competing ideas and conditions.]

So really, we’re not in as bad a shape as we’d like to think most days of the week, if you go by the standards of our founders. The only one Obama is really clearly guilty of is “He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.” But I’d argue Bush was just as guilty of that as well. The federal government is pretty clearly guilty of unaccountability for bureaucrats who make mistakes, but it’s been that way for a while. The other thing is, if we really decide we don’t like it, we can change it without a revolution. But an unfortunate fact is that too many Americans like big government.

Celebrating Independence Day


Here’s a handy guide to the Fireworks laws of the 50 states.  Pennsylvania’s fireworks laws are strange because we don’t regulate possession or use, only sale. You can sell fireworks if you have a license to do so, but you can’t sell fireworks, other than the kid’s stuff, to a resident of Pennsylvania. There are a lot of fireworks stores on the Pennsylvania side of the river that specialize in selling fireworks to New Jersey residents, who, of course, ignore their state’s draconian fireworks ban. Buy too much in New Jersey, and it’s possession with intent to sell, and it’s a felony. People have been busted for it. Otherwise possession or use is a petty offense, basically just a fine. New Jersey authorities don’t like you celebrating freedom, comrade.

As Glenn Reynolds noted, fireworks bans “were the entering wedge of nannyism.” Of course, since our federal overlords banned the really fun stuff, I’m not sure how much of this matters anymore.

Responsible Firearms Use & Drones

I meant to blog about this the other day, but I have to admit that I’m still a little floored by the news out of California about a guy who shot down the drone that his neighbor was playing around with in the area.

The drone was never over the shooter’s property according to GPS and mapping data. The drone wasn’t equipped with any kind of camera or anything that would give just cause to worries of an electronic peeping Tom situation.

But I think the most troubling aspect came out of that initial story on Ars Technica. This is from the drone owner’s very polite email to the shooter:

This is the third time discharge from your firearms has hit our house and property. The first incident left a bullet hole in the door by our garage. The second incident occurred last Thanksgiving when birdshot from your skeet shooting activities rained into our backyard. The third, of course, being what we’re currently discussing.

I’m obviously a big fan of pretty much any lawful recreational firearms use. However, I can say that if I discovered bullet holes near my door, had shot raining down in my backyard, and then had one of Sebastian’s remote helicopters shot out of the sky over my property, I would not be nearly so polite in addressing your unsafe and irresponsible firearms use.

Unfortunately, the attitude and disrespect from the shooter only makes this case so much worse. The fact is that he was in the wrong to shoot down the remote device that wasn’t over his property. He seemingly has a history of unsafe shooting at his neighbor’s house. Refusing to pay, even after being ordered to by a court, isn’t the way to go. In fact, if I was the judge and had any avenue to do so, I would have also ordered a required NRA safety course for the guy in addition to the money owed the victim. Instead, the shooter is argumentative and is now the cause of stories on recreational shooter bad behavior that have run nationwide and even abroad. Congratulations for working so hard to make gun owners look so bad!

Sorry for the Dead Air

In addition to the approaching holiday, which always means more work, I had one of my data centers lose power the other day and the generator barfed. When I tried to manually start it, sparks were flying. It’s a very old generator that came with the building, so it had to be replaced by a new one that periodically tests itself and all that happy stuff. But I’m having to troubleshoot a whole other host of issues that went along with the outage, like how it didn’t get detected until the machines went down when the UPS battery ran out. Turns out I am missing some redundancy I didn’t think about. We actually lost one of the UPSes, and that killed Internet, which isn’t supposed to happen. Either way, I have to fix all this quickly, hence very little time for the blog.